Reimer Boe came from Holland in 1854 – although most of Blue Island was settled by Germans, there was a significant Dutch presence nearby in today’s Roseland and South Holland communities. With his wife Elsbea the Boes operated a general store on Wabash Road in the 1870s – Wabash Road has since been renamed Western Avenue and the Boe’s shop is part of the Olde Western Avenue Historic District.
Boe first settled on Thornton Road on the edge of the Little Calumet River. Although scarcely populated before the immigrant arrival in the 1850s, the area of Blue Island south of the channel has special importance: its streets represent the founding of the Town of Portland, platted by Peter Barton in 1839. With the Little Calumet and Stoney Creek – now the Cal-Sag Channel – Barton imagined a thriving river town. A petition filed with the State Legislature changed the name to Blue Island on February 24, 1843.
The original street pattern and many of the names remain, including a “public square” at Chatham and Broadway, which today features Lincoln School, Blue Cap, and Portland Park.
continue the tour –> 38. Ottawa Battle Site
Photo Credits: Christine L. Hawley