With the coming of the railroad in the early 1880's, the Town of Lowell welcomed many new businesses, and many new residents moved to the bustling and growing farm community. Good business was enjoyed by the livery stables, the blacksmiths, hotels, general stores, mills, and by the professional businessmen of the area.
By 1887 the Trustees of the Town of Lowell, evidently looking for more income by taxes, petitioned the "Honorable Board of County Commissioners" for a change in the corporate borders of the town.
At that time the south border of the Town of Lowell was in the center of the "County Road" (now State Road 2, or Commercial Ave.) from Nichols St. to near Parkview. That line continued east along the present site of Lincoln St. The east border was Viant St. and the west border was Nichols St. The north border was part of North Ave., and 177th St., and the Mill Pond.
Some of the land included in the proposed annexation was on the south side of what is now Commercial Ave., from Nichols St. to Parkview St., owned by Zenas Burnham, Byron Cross, Gabriel Sutton, and Eunice J. Ashton. Wesley Pattee owned 26 acres to the south of above lots, and Cornelia Dwyer owned 80 acres south of his land.
Horatio R. Nichols' land, a large tract, was just to the west of the present Hardings, Inc. The corporate line on the south was behind the present business buildings downtown and included land owned by James Brannock and Ruth Gragg.
Land on both sides of the railroad right of way was owned by John L. DuBreuil and Leonard Keilman, operators of a large grist mill across from the present depot. A large tract to the east of the mill property was owned by John A. Kimmet, whose large house is still standing on South Fremont St.
Before the "Lowell Ditch" was dug, Cedar Creek turned east, before it came to the site of the present Oakley Ave., and made dead ends of both Fremont and Union Streets. It then flowed east to what is now called the Brownell Ditch, turned south between tracts of land owned by Alfred Gerrish and John Lynch, and then went through the large farm land of John Driscoll, an 1835 pioneer.
Near there a tract was owned by Emeline Tuthill, and a larger acreage was owned by John Robert Driscoll. South of his property about three acres was owned by Stanley Castle, and nearly six acres belonged to Dr. John Buckley, near what is now Southwood Dr., off Joe Martin Rd.
Some of the property proposed for annexation on the east border was owned by Charles Post, Elizabeth Stowell, Mary Post, Isabel Vandercar, Clarissa M. Metcalf, and Clara Northrup. At the northeast corner 20 acres were owned by Charles DeWitt near old North Ave., now 177th St.
The petition for annexation was signed by (Dr.) E.R. Bacon and J. Baughman, trustees of the Town of Lowell. Trustee John Schramm did not sign.
The trustees gave the following reasons for the annexation: "The limits of the said Town of Lowell, as they now exist, are such as to give great inconvenience to the citizens and the officers of the town and also make the burden of taxation very unequal." It was noted that the territory has all the characteristics of town property in that it is in part thickly populated and some of the streets lay partly within said territory.
"Persons in land to be annexed have attached themselves to the town for school purposes, and it is by Justice that they should assist by means of their taxes."
They said that the town would soon have a need for increased revenue, as they would be compelled to furnish new and additional schoolroom facilities and build and repair streets, alleys and sidewalks, which were in part located outside the boundary. Money would be needed for proper drainage and sanitary conditions.
They wrote that the new territory was so located as to receive proper police (one Town Marshal) and fire protection, and that a suitable house was needed for the purpose of restraining and imprisoning violators of the ordinances of the town, and they claimed that the value of the property would increase. But the landowners were quick to remonstrate, as a petition was signed and sent to the "Honorable Board of County Commissioners," signed by all of the property owners in the proposed annexation, many of them early pioneers of the area.
Their petition read: "More than half of the proposed annex are tracts of five acres or more and are used for agricultural lands, and are not laid out in town lots or desired to be. More than three fourths of the land is farmland.
"Further we would show that the greater part of said land is already taxed for school purposes for the Town of Lowell."
They wrote that the town and township taxes would work a great injustice to the citizens of Cedar Creek Twp., as the town would add from 40 to 60 thousand dollars of taxable property without assuming any of the liabilities of Cedar Creek Twp. "In many ways we see that the annexation is unnecessary, unjust, and uncalled for."
Several of the landowners wrote to complain that they were not served notice of the annexation by the Town Marshal.
Another petition was sent to the commissioners by the residents of the Town of Lowell: "We cannot see, by said annexation, any benefit will be conferred upon any of the interested parties; other than they already have. What we need is not more taxable property, but a judicious, economical and legal use of the means we already have."
Still another petition of remonstration was sent, this one by the residents of Cedar Creek Twp.: "We deny that there is any good and sufficient reasons for taking into the corporate limits of the Town of Lowell of said property, and it would be no advantage to the Town of Lowell, or confer any advantages to the property owners, and the annex is wholly unnecessary."
The Board of County Commissioners were evidently flooded with protests, petitions and arguments by many of the voters of southern Lake County, who were solidly united against the annexation. The Lowell Town Board of Trustees were looking ahead for future growth and believed that it was a timely move. They had no idea, however, that the corporate boundaries of the Town of Lowell would go so far beyond the proposed annexation in 108 years.
The greater part of that proposed land addition is now a part of the Town of Lowell and includes parks, schools, and subdivisions, as well as industry.
Information for this story was taken from the original 1887 map, petitions and other documents concerning the annexation.
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