City History (the short version)


There have been many stories over the years about just how our town got its tasty name.

Some say it is related to the Sandwich Islands. Some say it has to do with the Earl of Sandwich, creator of the food still as popular as ever. Still others say it is the food itself which gave the town its moniker.

The answer is, none of the above, although it is worth noting the first plat of Sandwich was recorded by a man with the lastname of Beveridge.

At that time, though, the town was not called Sandwich. It was in 1855, four years after the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railroad first surveyed land through Almon Cage's property. Cage gave the land to build a depot on, knowing that would attract development of a town.

It did, and the town was named "Almon" after its first settler. Cage proceeded to offer free lots to anyone who would build in the newly-platted town, and a number of people took him up on it, including A.R. Patten, James Clark, Myrlin Carpenter and James Clark.

Cage did not like his first name used to name the town, so Almon was quickly scrapped in favor of Newark Station. But this only served to confuse the town with Newark to the south.

Still, residents pushed to have the railroad stop in Newark Station - originally, the railroad only had a flag stop there.

But it was not until "Long John" Wentworth went to Congress that Sandwich became Sandwich, and hit its stride. Wentworth used his influence to get the trains to stop in town, and also gave Sandwich its name - after his home town of Sandwich, New Hampshire. Interestingly, Wentworth went on to be elected Mayor of Chicago twice upon his return from Congress.

After 1855, the town grew quickly. In 1857, there were 107 families in town; by 1860, there were 203 families.

Key Dates in Sandwich History

1858-The Sandwich Fair opens, although it is known as the Union Agricultural Institute. 

1878-The Sandwich Opera House and City Hall is built. It becomes an enduring symbol of the town.

1884-Hose Company No. 1 is formed, the first Sandwich Fire Department. 

1893-The Sandwich City Council authorized its first electrical department and plant. In 1912 the Sandwich Electric Light Plant was sold to Illinois Northern Utilities Company, which eventually merged with Commonwealth Edison in 1953. 

1898-The first telephone company was organized. 

1915-The Wormly-Dudley Hospital, with its six beds and primitive operating room, opens.

1923-The Horatio N. Woodward Memorial Hospital opens.

1925-The first official Sandwich Public Library opens.

1930-Sandwich's first city mail delivery starts.

1958-A tornado passes above Sandwich, causing more than $300,000 worth of damage.

1961-The Sandwich Hospital opens after a four-year fund-raising campaign. It remains open today and is called Valley West Community Hospital.

1966-The Sandwich Park District is formed.

1969-On the same day the first American stepped on the moon, Bob Hope made an appearance at the Sandwich Airport.

1981-Veteran's Park is developed, a joint venture between the city and the park district. It features a gazebo and two plaques, one honoring veterans and the other honoring a woman who worked to make the park a reality.

1982-An association is formed to restore the Sandwich Opera House and City Hall.

1984-Sandwich celebrates 150 years of existence.

2000-Sandwich gets its own web site on the world wide web.

©  2014 CITY of sandwich & the author