Located about 50 miles west of Chicago in Kendall County at the confluence of Waubonsie Creek and the Fox River, Oswego was settled, at least in part, for its transportation potential. A limestone shelf creates a natural, smooth-bottomed, ford across the river just above the mouth of the creek, making it a favored crossing, first for Native Americans and then for the American settlers who began arriving in the 1830s.
William Smith Wilson and his wife, Rebecca (Pearce) Wilson, were the first to settle where today's Oswego is located. Wilson and his brother-in-law, Daniel Pearce, scouted the area in 1832, and moved their families to their claims in 1833. Just two years later, in 1835, two newly arrived businessmen, Lewis Brinsmaid Judson and Levi F. Arnold, laid out the village of Oswego on land then still officially owned by the local Potowatomi, Ottawa, and Chippewa tribes. A year later, the U.S. Government removed the local Native Americans and began surveying land up and down the Fox River. Not until 1842 did the U.S. Government finally put the land up for sale at the established price of $1.25 per acre.
Judson and Arnold, both native New Yorkers, named their new village Hudson. When the U.S. Government established a post office in the new village in January 1837, it was named Lodi. Clarification was needed and later that same year, citizens gathered and picked a permanent name that was neither Hudson nor Lodi. Instead, they picked Oswego, another name familiar to the area's New York settlers.
The village's population growth has been robust. In the 1990 U.S. Census, Oswego 's population stood at 3,875. Just seven years later, a special census showed its population had risen above 9,000, finally surpassing Boulder Hill and making it the largest community in Kendall County . In the 2000 census, Oswego 's population had grown to 13,326. Four years later, a special census counted nearly 20,000 residents living in Oswego 's municipal limits.
As Oswego continues to grow, its location on two rail lines, three state highways, and two U.S. highways, along with its continuing economic development and growth, the village is experiencing a period of rapid economic and population growth very similar to that which took place right after Judson and Arnold laid out their new town 160 years ago.
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Updated: 15th December, 2018 2:22 PM.