Chicago, Neighborhood by Neighborhood: Forest Glen

Forest Glen is a neighborhood in the Forest Glen community area of the Far North Side of Chicago. Officially, it is in Community Area #12. It is a small, quite suburban, largely residential neighborhood and one of the oldest neighborhoods in the now-obsolete Jefferson Township. Jefferson Township was annexed by Chicago in 1889. Prior to that Chicago stopped at Fullerton. The neighborhood of Forest Glen is bounded by Lawler on the north, the Edens Expressway on the east, Elston Ave. on the south, and the railroad tracks on the west.

Forest Glen’s history goes back to 1866. It was in that year that Capt. William Cross Hazelton, a Union veteran of the American Civil War, built the first structure in the neighborhood, a barn, at the vicinity of what would now be Foster and Lawler. Capt. Hazelton is pictured at left in the uniform of an officer in the 8th Illinois Cavalry in what I take to be a mustering-out photo. Folklore says that he received land in the neighborhood for his service but I have not been able to locate a record of his receiving any public domain land. What I believe to be the case is that he used his mustering-out pay to purchase the land which he would farm and which would later become the town of Forest Glen.

Capt. Hazelton was an enterprising sort. By 1881 he had not only the farm but had also built the first general store. His farm was said to have become the chief supplier of cherries for the Chicago market. In that same year he built a house which is pictured on the right in a photo that I estimate to have been taken sometime between when the house was built in 1881 and 1886. In roughly 1883 he was also postmaster for the community and was receiving a pension from the federal government for his services during the Civil War. Here is the house as it appears now:

The Congregational church he built for the community stood until 1955 when it was destroyed by fire. The original church is pictured below in a photo of a reunion of the 8th Illinois Cavalry Veteran’s Association taken in 1910.

In this picture Capt. Hazelton is pictured sitting on the ground with his daughter and granddaughter on either side of him.

The present 1st Congregational Church, pictured on the left, is on the site of the original church. As befits a neighborhood largely settled by people of English and Swedish descent, the neighborhood includes a Congregational church and has a large Lutheran church on its southern border but not a Catholic church. The neighborhood is and always has been dry.

The original homes in Forest Glen were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A number of them still stand. In 1920 the Hazelton house was moved from its original location to its present location at 5453 N. Forest Glen Ave. It has been designated a Chicago landmark. The house faces the forest preserve, giving it a rather rustic, picturesque view. There was another round of home-building in the 1950s.

As you can see the neighborhood includes homes built in vernacular, Spanish revival, Chicago bungalow, Tudor revival, brick Georgian, and ranch styles. Its streets are lined with mature trees. According to the 2010 census the median family income for the neighborhood was approximately $80,000. There is one small strip mall in the neighborhood which includes a Chinese carry-out, a pizza place, and a laundromat.

Taken from the corner of Berwyn and Lamon.

Same corner, reverse angle

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11 comments… add one
  • Red Barchetta Link

    That #76 area sticking out there sure looks funny.


  • #76 is, of course, O’Hare Airport, the last area to be annexed to the city.

  • sam Link

    Just a thought (not related to the article proper), but don’t you think William Cross Hazelton bears a striking resemblance to Nathan Beford Forrest?

  • He’s better-looking than Forrest.

    I don’t think it’s an accident. I think that was a style being affected, particularly by cavalry officers.

  • PD Shaw Link

    Interesting background. Hazelton’s Company was called to D.C. to serve as escorts for Lincoln’s funeral, but then they were called to investigate and capture the assassins. They were able to trace Booth to the home of Samuel Cox, who had given Booth temporary shelter, but were not involved in the actual capture of Booth:

    The people here are all traitors . . .

  • PD Shaw Link

    I think you are probably right in suspecting that Hazelton bought the land.

    The BLM land grant index doesn’t show any public land grants in that area past 1848. I am not aware of land grants being issued for veterans for service. The Homestead Act gave veterans a right to count their years of service towards the five years they were required to reside on the land. Perhaps he claimed homestead territory out in Kansas-Nebraska and then sold it and bought land closer to the East? But the book, “Army of the Potamac: The Letters of William Cross Hazelton” states that he taught in the public school in the Winter with his wife to help “make his payments on the farm.”

  • You’ve followed my tracks pretty well, PD. That’s exactly how I arrived at my supposition. And thanks for the reference. I was unaware that his letters had been published. If I decide to expand on these posts, that will be helpful.

    Just to flesh out Hazelton’s biography a bit, he mustered in to the Union Army in 1861 as a sergeant. In essence, that means he was literate. At least in the Illinois units that seems to have been the major distinction between privates and non-coms (and, eventually, commissioned officers): literacy.

    As I’ve mentioned before my great-great grandfather Charles Wagner, like Hazelton, mustered out as a captain and I have a photo similar to Hazelton’s of him. He served in the Illinois 59th Infantry.

    I don’t think it’s properly recognized but the Illinois units saw a lot of action.

  • PD Shaw Link

    Most Illinois units served in the Western theatre, perhaps as much as 99%. I used to think that the Western theatre got unfairly overlooked, but the internet changed my mind. I think those most interested in the war coming from a Northern perspective, think the Western theatre had the more important battles, while those from a Southern perspective, are most interested in the Army of Northern Virginia.

  • I can’t recall where I first read it but a way of looking at the American Civil War different from the usual presentation of the North vs. the South is as the East vs. the West. The West won.

    Note in particular that the Union was unable to prevail until generalship had largely been turned over to Western generals.

  • Red Barchetta Link

    “#76 is, of course, O’Hare Airport, the last area to be annexed to the city.”

    And annexed for only the purist of reasons…….of course.

  • Andy Link

    Thanks for these posts Dave, I find them very informative.

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