Founding Families | The Korthauers

Welcome to “Founding Families”, a local history series that highlights and features a founding family of Bensenville through ancestry, photos, and more. Stay tuned for more Founding Families to be featured on our website and as a part of our “Flashback Friday” series on Facebook. In the meantime, be sure to browse the Bensenville Historical Collection on the Illinois Digital Archives for more local history information.

The Korthauer family sailed to New York City in 1840 from the Kingdom of Hanover. The family included parents Henry and Maria, and their three children Caroline, William and Herman. They constructed the Korthauer Log House in 1844 on a 165 acre settler claim, which is now the oldest surviving structure in Bensenville. The Log House was moved to a property adjacent to the public library in the early 1990s.

Henry opened a hardware store and also worked as a cabinetmaker. Henry was known for his work building spinning wheels, and helped to construct the mechanism for the Fischer windmill, which is today located in Mount Emblem Cemetery. Son Herman was involved in the construction of the Freiden’s Evangelical Church in 1902.

In 1872 the coming railroad brought an opportunity to create a shipping point for agricultural products and services. Dietrich Struckman, Henry Korthauer, and Frederick Heuer purchased the land that is now Bensenville. And in 1873 the plat was recorded and the land was subdivided into lots. Tioga can be found in some old maps but the name Bensenville was created by Henry Schuette who was reminded of his homeland in Bensen, Germany.

Henry’s oldest son, Herman, took over the family business and was central in organizing the village of Bensenville and the fire department. In 1884 the Korthauer’s Hardware Store was on the northeast corner of Center and Main. There were no sidewalks, and the streets were either dusty or muddy and full of ruts. More progress came when a telephone switchboard was installed in Korthauer’s hardware store in 1902. Concrete sidewalks replaced wooden sidewalks in 1903, and electricity was in Bensenville by 1910.

The Korthauers were also involved in civic matters, with Henry’s sons Herman and William elected Chief and Treasurer of the newly organized Bensenville Fire Department in 1894. Herman was also a School District 2 Board member, twice elected Village President, Fireman, and Justice of the Peace. The Fire Station at 500 South York Road is dedicated as a memorial to honor the community service provided by the Korthauer family.

The Korthauer settlers can be remembered at Mount Emblem Cemetery in Elmhurst, and at the Korthauer Log House living museum at the Bensenville Community Public Library.

Johann Heinrich (Henry) Christian Korthauer (1822-1891)

Herman H. Korthauer (1852-1939)

Our Digital Librarian & Archivist has been reorganizing and preserving the Library’s physical local history collection and digitizing resources for the Illinois Digital Archive. To start browsing the Bensenville Historical Collection on the Illinois Digital Archives, please visit: benlib.org/local-history-online.

Local history questions? Please contact Digital Librarian & Archivist, Elizabeth Morris, at emorris@benlib.org.

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