Remembering Freeland

Freeland, Illinois, also known as Freeland Corners, was located along Chicago Road between Somonauk and West Sandwich Roads in Somonauk Township. 

The origin of the name Freeland is uncertain.  One opinion is that when the first pioneers came to this area in the 1830s, they took possession of the land by squatters’ rights. Thus, the land was free until they could later buy it from the government in the 1840s.

Freeland School opened in 1854 on Chicago Road north of Somonauk. A new school building was built in 1925 and was used until 1951.The building is now a private residence.

In 1832, Captain Joe Naper was instructed by the United States Government to lay out a road from Chicago to the lead mines in Galena. This was first called Galena Road; now we know it as Chicago Road. It was the first official road in DeKalb County.

Reuben Root moved to the Freeland area about 1836. In 1837, Reuben received a commission as postmaster and a post office was opened in his log cabin home. It was called Somonauk Post Office. The name was changed to Freeland on December 26, 1855, with Thaddeus Carpenter as Postmaster. The Freeland post office was closed on March 23, 1886.

Adrian McCoy deeded one-half acre of land in Section 2 of Somonauk Township to the Trustee of Freeland School in 1854. A schoolhouse was built on the north side of Chicago Road and classes began in the one-room school that fall. A new school building was built in 1925 with the school closing in 1951. The school building and property were sold; it is now a private residence.

Pictured are pupils in Freeland School District 144, 1946-1947. The one-room country school teacher is Shirley Phillips.

Early businesses in the Freeland area consisted of a blacksmith’s shop, general store, and a cheese factory. A Presbyterian church was organized in 1851 and moved to Sandwich in 1856. 

Today there are three houses at Freeland. Freeland never became a village; it was simply one of the small communities of the county. After the railroad came to Somonauk and Sandwich in 1853, those towns rapidly grew and Freeland began to fade away.

Information provided by the Joiner History Room, DeKalb County Archives