A life-long resident of Grayslake, Charlotte Renehan is a bit of a know-it-all when it comes to the village. But only in the best sense of the term.
Most people who live in Grayslake know the village was named after William Gray, who bought large chunks of land, including a large lake, which he named Gray's Lake.
As a local historian, Renehan hopes that her new book, “Grayslake and Antioch Township,” will give residents more insight into the area's humble beginnings.
“With so many people new to the area, the book should present a treasure trove of information for them,” Renehan said. “Old residents should enjoy traveling down memory lane.”
Renehan, 73, has always been interested in her family's genealogy, and more than 30 years ago, she started researching the history of the Renehan family. During her search, she learned that her paternal grandfather bought land in Grayslake in 1895, the same year the village was incorporated.
As Renehan dug further, she learned that the Renehans settled on the south shore of Round Lake in 1836 and were among the first nonnative settlers in what evolved into Avon Township.
She got the idea to write a book on the history of Grayslake and Avon Township from two friends at neighboring museums who wrote books for Arcadia Publishing. Arcadia is a boutique publisher that specializes in local histories. The group started in 1993 in Dover, N.H., and to date has published more than 4,000 titles.
“Grayslake and Antioch Township” recognizes the area's early settlers and includes vintage images of area businesses, homes, farms, factories, railroads, and community organizations.
Renehan became a charter member of the Grayslake Historical Society and is currently the group’s president. She also operates Grayslake’s Municipal Historical Museum, at 164 Hawley St., is a member of numerous local historical and genealogical societies, and served on the advisory board of the Illinois State Historical Society.
Renehan said that she hopes people who enjoy her book will share the stories of their own families and community with local historical and genealogical societies.
“Don’t be afraid to write and publish, because the finished product is worth all the time and effort,” Renehan advised other budding historians.
Shirley Christian, supervisor of Avon Township and former executive director of Grayslake Chamber of Commerce, describes Renehan's book as “absolutely incredible.”
Christian and her husband, Russ, came to Grayslake in 1966, when the village had a population of 5,000. She said that even with the village’s growth, the community has kept it’s “hometown flavor.” Christian believes Renehan’s book will give young and new residents in the area a taste of that.
“I’m very happy to be able to share with the public about the history of Grayslake and Avon Township,” Renehan said.
All the details
• Proceeds from the sales of “Grayslake and Antioch Township” will go to the Grayslake Historical Society, if it’s bought locally.
• The book costs $19.99 and is available at the Grayslake Municipal Historical Museum, 164 Hawley St.; Grayslake Village Hall, 10 S. Seymour St.; or State Bank of the Lakes, 50 Commerce Drive.
• The Grayslake Municipal Historical Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays, and from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on the second Sunday of each month. The museum will be open this Saturday, Oct. 13, after Grayslake Central’s Homecoming Parade.