New book details Romeoville’s history
BY BROCK A. STEIN Correspondent August 22, 2013 7:22PM
"Romeoville (Images of America)" | Supplied photo
Updated: September 24, 2013 6:29AM
The Romeoville Historical Society is ready to unveil its first book that details the history of the village.
Titled, “Romeoville,” from the “Images of America” series, the book from Arcadia Publishing tells the story of the area from its earliest years as a Native American settlement to the development of the Illinois & Michigan Canal that spurred the growth of the village and the surrounding area.
Romeoville Historical Society President Nancy Hackett said the book offers residents, both new and old, a detailed look at the roots of the town.
“For the people who grew up here or have only lived here a few years, these are their memories,” said Hackett, the society’s president for the past eight years.
Hackett said the book contains surprising facts about the village’s founding, including tidbits about the area’s original name of Romeo, which was paired with the neighboring town of Juliet (now Joliet).
Both Shakespearean-named areas were founded as places where canal workers and their families lived, she said.
Hackett said the book has been more than a year in the making. It involved her and committee members writing, with Hackett authoring seven of the 10 chapters.
Hackett moved to Romeoville in 1980, taking a job as the village’s head librarian. It was the same year the historical society was founded and the same year she joined to learn more about her new town.
“They met there,” she said of the historical society, “so I joined.”
Hackett said she hopes residents, especially those new to the area, will pick up the book to learn more about Romeoville’s founding.
“I sure learned a lot,” she said of the writing process.
During research, Hackett said, one unsubstantiated story from the Prohibition era that emerged was about one of Al Capone’s men who regularly would drive in from Chicago to pick up a load of liquor near the canal and drive it back under cover of night. On one trip, he was delayed.
“He had car trouble and spent the night in Romeoville and missed the St. Valentine’s Day massacre,” she said.
The village has grown exponentially since its founding, said Hackett, going from a population of about 153 in 1950 to 3,000 in 1960 to about 40,000 today.
A book-release event is set for 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 24 at the White Oak Library, 201 W. Normantown Road.
The book can be preordered until Aug. 31 for the discounted price of $19 and also is available on amazon.com.
Hackett said a second book-signing event is being planned.
Proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the Romeoville Historical Society, 10 Montrose Drive.