Saybrook, Illinois

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Saybrook is a village in southeast McLean County, Illinois, United States. The population was 764 at the 2000 census. It is part of the BloomingtonNormal Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Known by locals as the "City of Shade and Water", its founders named it in honor of Old Saybrook, Connecticut.



Saybrook is located at 40°25′39″N 88°31′36″W / 40.4275°N 88.52667°W / 40.4275; -88.52667 (40.427490, -88.526536)[1].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 0.8 square miles (2.1 km²), of which, 0.8 square miles (2.0 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (3.66%) is water.


Founding of Saybrook

Saybrook was laid out 4 March 1856 by Isaac M. Polk (c.1814 - ?). [2] [3] Not much is known about Polk. He was born in Indiana and does not seem to have lived in McLean County for very long. In 1860 and 1870 he was in neighboring Livingston County. Saybrook is the only town in McLean County on the banks of a major river and the uppermost town on the Sangamon River. The woodland along the Sangamon, which became known as Cheney’s Grove, attracted early settlers. Jonathan Cheney had come to this area in 1825 and built a cabin across the river from the later location of the town. In 1833 Robert Cunningham built a water driven mill on the Sangamon; it was later replaced by a steam driven mill. In 1857 the town consisted of a saw mill, a blacksmith shop, a carpenter shop, one store, and eight dwellings. The total population was twenty-one. The township in which the town was situated was named took its name from the woodland and was called Cheney’s Grove. [4]

Original Town Plan and Development

The Original Town of Saybrook was one of the smallest in McLean County. It consisted of a simple square of four blocks, each block containing eight lots. This original plat had been laid out over a series of road and lot lines which were aligned at roughly forty-five degrees to the first official town plat; some of these old lines, shown in dashed markings, can been seen on the 1856 plat. The original town had no square or other distinguishing features. In 1866 the Town Council laid out a large addition north and east of town. [5] This was said to have been done to make the town look as large as possible to railroad promoters. This seems unlikely. As will be seen, Saybrook was well known to many of the men associated with the founding of the railroad. The town of Saybrook was incorporated 29 May 1866 [6]

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