Welcome to Founder's Grove, Bloomington, Illinois
These pages are based on the collection of maps that appear in the McLean County Combined Indexed Atlas which was collected and reprinted by the McLean County Historical Society and the McLean County Genealogical Society and on photos from Picturesque Bloomington, which was restored and reprinted by the Old House Society of McLean County. I also used the city directories at the Stevenson-Ives Library (McLean County Museum of History) and the Bloomington Public Library, as well as US census records. I also used digitized versions of the ISNU, Wesleyan and Bloomington High yearbooks which are available through the Internet Archive or Ancestry.com. The information in the city directories is not always completely accurate, so if you have information that is different than what I have here, please share that information with me! I have limited the residents to the people living in homes at the time of the atlas dates, so original owners may not be reflected here. I have built this website with the present residents of Founders' Grove in mind, as well as people who are searching for genealogical information.
What I find interesting about this neighborhood and its history are the many occupations that are represented and the way people of all different walks of life occupied the same neighborhood regardless of the differences in their wealth or education. It is also interesting to see the many changes in the features of the neighborhood. For instance, prior to the drawing of the 1914 atlas, the Bloomington fairgrounds were located in Founder's Grove, and there was a large racetrack somewhere around Vale Street. City street cars drove down Washington, Vale and Clay (Oakland) and the limits of the city gradually expanded to include all of Founders' Grove. You will see that the neighborhood was subdivided into lots long before houses were built and that the street names changed. As I gather more information about the neighborhood, this website will grow and reflect developments of later years.
I hope that people will feel free to share information that they have about historical residents, businesses, and mysteries so that more information can be added to this website. Some information here is from the McLean County History Museum website. Seven different people who lived in Founders' Grove have been featured in Evergreen Cemetery Walks (see my references page for links!) I have included links to many books about McLean County history that are available on the web for free and can be searched easily for information about specific people.
I am Rochelle Gridley, a resident of Founders' Grove. I am a librarian by profession and enjoy studying history and genealogy.
Please email your questions, suggestions or links to Rochelle's email above.