Joseph and Betty Kettlestring’s were the earliest white settlers in the area now known as Oak Park. Both natives of Yorkshire, England, they brought their two children to the United States in 1831 and had a third child in 1832 during a brief stay in Cincinnati. They lived in Ohio for less than a year before pushing on through the mud of Chicago to the high ground just east of the Des Plaines River. Joseph worked for friends from England who operated a sawmill on the river. In 1837, Joseph purchased 172.78 acres from the federal government for $215.98 or $1.25 an acre. Today this land is bounded by Chicago Avenue and the Metra railroad tracks, between Harlem and Oak Park Avenues. The Kettlestring’s continued to buy land in the area, but unlike many land speculators of the time, the family stayed and built a community.
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