Socrates Rand can be considered the “founding father” of Des Plaines. He arrived among the first settlers to the area in 1834. Rand made the first land subdivisions for businesses and houses near the railroad line, creating what we now know as downtown Des Plaines. He served the community as justice of the peace, grain miller, and advocate for public goods. Local people held him in such regard that they referred to him under the title of Squire Rand.
Augustus and Betsey Conant
Augustus Conant moved from Massachusetts and became among the first farmers in Maine Townshipto buy land along the Des Plaines River. Betsey Kelsey followed to marry him in 1836. Augustus soon moved with his family back east to study divinity at Harvard, and he became a Unitarian minister. He served as a pastor in several Illinois churches and then as chaplain in the 19th Illinois Cavalry during the Civil War. He died from illness soon after the Battle of Stony River in 1863. Betsey continued raising their family in Geneva, IL.
Adelia Thomas Bennett
Adelia Thomas was born the daughter of Hester and Elias Thomas, a prominent Des Plaines businessman. Adelia split her childhood between family property in Des Plaines and Cary, IL. Adelia married Chester Bennett in 1865, and the couple lived permanently on Park Place in Des Plaines, which is now the area of Metropolitan Sqaure. She and her family members kept many diaries that are now in the archives at the Des Plaines History Center. They lived happy lives full of sewing bees, church meetings, farming, cooking, business, parties, and family.
Chester E. Bennett
Chester Bennett was a McHenry County farmer and school teacher in 1854-55, who later married Adelia Thomas in 1865. The Bennetts moved to Des Plaines in the 1870s and lived on a street named Park Place, which is now a part of Metropolitan Square. Bennett served as a choir director at the local Methodist and Congregational churches. Chester and Adelia’s son Harry T. Bennett was the first Mayor of Des Plaines when the Village re-incorporated and became a City in 1925.
Benjamin Kinder was born in England in 1846 and immigrated with his family to this area soon after. He opened a tinsmithing shop on Miner Street in 1872, which grew into a very successful hardware business on the southeast corner of Pearson and Ellinwood in 1881. Benjamin was chief of the volunteer fire company, served on the village board, and remained civically involved through this life. In 1907, Benjamin and his wife Elizabeth built a large house in the heart of Des Plaines, now operated as a museum by the Des Plaines History Center. Kinder Hardware closed in 2004.
Rose "Rosebud" Pieper
Rose Pieper was one of the young women who answered the call for women to serve during World War II. She graduated from the Walter Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in 1944 and then served in the Nurse Corps at several Army camps in the United States. Even as Rosebud lived in different places around Chicago, she remained in contact with her long-time Des Plaines friend, Gloria Mau.