Wauconda is a village in Lake County, Illinois, United States. The population was 13,603 at the 2010 census. It is the site of the Wauconda Bog Nature Preserve, a National Natural Landmark. Wauconda Community School District 118 (CUSD 118) serves students from kindergarten through 12th grade who live in Wauconda and surrounding communities (Island Lake, Lakemoor, Volo, and unincorporated sections of McHenry County).
Traditions say that Wauconda was named for an Indian chief by that name (originally spelled "Wakanda"), who is buried somewhere on the southern bank of Bangs Lake, where the town hall was later built. The word translated from its Indian language means "Spirit Water".
When the first settlers arrived, there were no Indians, as they had moved westward. In 1840, a remnant of the Winnebago tribe lived on the shores of the Fox River and came to Wauconda to trade. Several Indian mounds were found near here, and it is probable there was an encampment at Slocum Lake.
In 1836, Elihu Hubbard built a log cabin on the bank of the lake. In 1848, Justus Bangs, the first settler, built a home where the town hall now stands, and it was for him the lake was named. Wauconda was organized in 1849, and the first town meeting was held the first Tuesday in April, 1850.
The first main street ran along the bank of the lake, and the streets leading into it were lanes. They used to ford the inlet and outlet of the lake.
The first post office was at Slocum Lake, but the settlement did not prosper, so on June 27, 1849, it was moved to Wauconda. The first postmaster at Wauconda was Hazard Green.
The first Baptist church was organized in the fall of 1838 by Elder Joel Wheeler of McHenry. A church was built by the Methodists in 1856 on the Common and was occupied by both Methodists and Baptists on alternate Sundays until February 1870, when the Baptists organized and in the summer of 1870 built a church at the cost of $5,500.00, dedicated October 30, 1870, free of debt. The Methodist church was organized Sept. 3, 1852, under the direction of Rev. C. French.
A Roman Catholic church was built in 1877, and the first trustees were James Murray, Charles Davlin, Felix Givens, Hugh Davlin, and Owen McMahon. The first priest was Father O'Neil.
There was a saw and grist mill at the foot of Mill Street near the lake. It burned in 1906. There was a brickyard on the Cook farm and another one on the Kent property on Maple Avenue. A limestone kiln was located on the bank of the lake on Kimball's property. At one time limestone was a very profitable business, and there was an abundance around Wauconda. There was a foundry and blacksmith shop where Farman's house now stands.
In 1839, the school district was organized and a schoolhouse built. It stood where the Clark Hotel later stood. It was log, long, and was heated by a fireplace in one end. Books used were Cobb's speller, the Bible, second and third readers and a book on arithmetic.
The population of Wauconda in 1850 was 200, and the town had three goods stores, two public houses and various mechanics.
The amount of the school fund of this township was $3,224.10. The assessed value of property for the year 1850, including both real and personal, was $61,907.00. The amount of tax computed on the same was $827.18.