LFLB History Museum

Atteridge Family

Thomas Atteridge immigrated to the U.S. from Ireland in 1837, working on the Illinois and Michigan canal before coming north along the lake shore and building a log cabin in what is now Lake Forest. Around the same time, Mary Cole Swanton, her husband Robert and their young children were settling in a farmhouse on Green Bay Road when Robert Swanton suddenly passed away. Soon Mary remarried, to Thomas Atteridge. Their wedding marked only the ninth marriage license granted in the brand-new county of Lake.

Theirs was a pioneer existence. They suffered all the hardships involved in making clearings, locating drinking water, chopping wood for fuel, cutting paths and roads, making their own clothes and candles, and walking to the market at Little Fort, as Waukegan was known then, to trade eggs and butter for store goods. Without the work of such pioneer families, one can imagine that the men of the Lake Forest Association might not have found the area so palatable in the 1850s when they disembarked from the train and found a lake on one side and a forest on the other.

By 1850, when Thomas Atteridge became Shields township supervisor, the holdings of the extended Atteridge-Cole-Swanton family stretched from present-day Laurel on the north to Deerpath on the south, and from Rte. 41 on the west past McKinley on the east.

Lake Forest was founded in 1861. As the community grew, it found itself relying on established farm families such as the Atteridges. Thomas and Mary's oldest son, William Atteridge, was part of the first graduating class from Lake Forest Academy in 1862. The Atteridge farm often entertained boys from the Academy whose families lived in the city. George Manierre, son of the judge, became a particular friend of William's – both loved to hunt and fish and read books, and George would visit for weeks to “rusticate.” There may have been another draw for the Academy boys: according to a local source, “the beauty of the Atteridge [girls] was far famed.” William Atteridge’s youngest sister Fanny had both beauty and brains: she graduated with the first class at Ferry Hall in 1872 and for many years taught at one of Lake Forest’s earliest public schools, on Noble Avenue.

According to local lore, William Atteridge was the first European-American child born in the area, in 1844. Whatever the truth of that, by all accounts he was one of the most upstanding citizens of early Lake Forest. He served in nearly every possible township government role. (He also, as you see, certainly possessed an impressive mustache. You’ll notice, as we get to later pictures of the Atteridges, that such mustaches are a running theme through the generations of the family.)

Now we’ll move along further into the second and third generations of Atteridges in Lake Forest. Neither William nor Fanny married, and they lived on the original Atteridge farm with their mother Mary, who lived to be nearly 100. Across Green Bay Road to the west was the farm of William’s brother Thomas Atteridge. Thomas and his wife Emma Butterworth had five children. The fire which gutted their farmhouse in 1903 is perhaps what inspired their son Thomas to become a volunteer fireman.

The third Thomas Atteridge in Lake Forest married Cecelia Sanders of Waukegan in 1904. For a time they lived on Woodland Avenue, neighbors of various family members, like his sister Nelle, who had married James Alexander Griffis, and his brother William over on Oakwood.

William and Thomas Atteridge partnered to run a meat market on Western Avenue. Thomas’s daughter Bee remembers walking over to bring her dad his lunch; she also remembers that the market was more popular than one might expect among the ladies of Lake Forest, because her dad was known to be a particularly handsome man.

In the 1920s the brothers sold the meat market and Thomas Atteridge went into business with his brother-in-law, working for the next 25 years at Griffis Brothers Construction. At that time the family moved across the train tracks, to 114 Washington Circle. The home is still in the family – Bee Atteridge Lundeen and her husband Robert started living with Bee’s parents during World War II, when prospects were dim for a newlywed couple buying a new home – and the Lundeens never left, they still live there today.

As I said before, Thomas Atteridge was a member of the Volunteer Fire Department, serving for over 30 years. This could be quite a hazardous job, and not just because of the flames and heat and smoke. In 1936, driving to respond to a fire alarm at a home on Lake Road, Thomas Atteridge tried to squeeze between two cars that were parked across from each other. He was not successful – fortunately, the injuries were minor.

The Atteridge family faced tragedy in 1931, when Thomas's youngest son Frank, always called “Pancho,” died in a motorcycle accident at age 16. He crashed into a car coming under the viaduct at Illinois and McKinley. An impressive athlete, he played basketball, pole vaulted, and love to ride. According to Dr. George Roberts, it was one of the largest funerals he’d ever officiated here.

Another branch of the Atteridge family I should mention derives from Thomas’s brother William. William’s daughter Irene Atteridge was very much a go-getter. In 1920, she and three friends formed the “Sayonara club,” and made a pact to work their way across America. It took them a month to reach their destination, Los Angeles – Irene funded her trip along the way working as a billing machine operator. All of this was good experience when, later in life, she and her husband Walter Smith operated Smiths’ Men’s Store.

At any given time, there were always three or four generations of the family in Lake Forest. It’s hard to believe that there were only two Atteridges in the 1935 phone book (Thomas, on Washington Circle, and his aunt Fanny, the school teacher). Certainly many had moved out of town; others went by different names: Griffis or Swanton, Larsen or Smith.

Ray Atteridge married Kathryn Yore, who belonged to one of the only Lake Forest families who could claim as distant a local lineage as his. Ray worked for his uncle James Griffis before going into business with George Yore and starting the Yore-Atteridge Concrete Construction company, which was operated out of their home at 1345 S. Telegraph in West Lake Forest.

Their daughter Joan had two children with husband Tom Kiddle: Debi and Thomas, who could count themselves as sixth generation Lake Foresters – a claim not many are able to make.

The Atteridge name still dots the Lake Forest landscape today, in Atteridge Road. The name has remained a constant through the years in Lake Forest, from woods and prairie to farmhouse to meat market to concrete to subdivision.