Will County Illinois in America’s heartland is known as “A Good Place to Live” The towns of Peotone and Manhattan, located forty miles from center city Chicago, are home to friendly people, excellent schools, and first class medical services. Peotone Illinois Hospital serves a bustling, thriving community. Originally the prairie land that is now Will County was a Pottawatomi Indian settlement. In 1835, before they became famous political debate opponents, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas worked together to attract settlers to the area by building roads. They also drafted land grants for a new Illinois Central Railroad, which was incorporated in 1851. The original settlers in Peotone were Massachusetts natives James Allen and Daniel Booth, who arrived in 1849. The name of the town means literally “A good place to live” The settling of the township began in the year 1855 on land purchased from the railroad company.
The first house in town was built in 1858 on Crawford Street. The first school opened its doors in 1860, and the town of Peotone was incorporated in the year 1869. The first church – Methodist – was built in 1867 and other churches soon followed. Originally settlers planted crops of rye and wheat, and in 1872 Rathje’s Mill was constructed to grind flour for the residents. Rathje mill is one of the few mills still remaining in the United States at the present time, and is a popular siteseeing stop for visitors to Peotone. A new school building was erected in 1877. Today Peotone has a growing population of over 8,000, well-served by Peotone hospital.
Manhattan Village in western Will County is home to Manhattan Illinois hospital. Manhattan was incorporated in 1886. A hundred and ten years later, in 1996, a referendum designated it a home rule municipality. Manhattan is located nine miles from Joliet in Manhattan township. The current population of 6,000 is growing rapidly, with about 250 new homes built each year. Manhattan is best known for its Fun Days festival in late August each year, which brings visitors from all over the state. There is a craft fair, ribfest (with the popular Baby Back Rib Contest), car cruise, and singing star contest with great entertainment.
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