Hinsdale embraced voting from start

Series: Hinsdale 150 | Story 12

The April 4 election will determine the next set of local officeholders, so what a perfect time to look back at Hinsdale's election history - with a note of gratitude to the Hinsdale Historical Society for opening its archives.

After residents cast a majority of ballots to incorporate March 29, 1873, the freshly minted suburb needed to form a government.

As Timothy Bakken chronicles in his book "Hinsdale," 44 residents - or about a third of those eligible - cast ballots and elected Ervin Hinds, Windsor Leland, William Robbins, Joel Tiffany, George Wells and W.W. Wood as town's first trustees. Tiffany was appointed president by the trustees, a practice that lasted only a few years until the village presidency was made a direct-vote office.

Since the mid-1930s, candidates have coveted the Hinsdale Caucus' endorsement, a veritable key to victory. In the 1965 village board election, the caucus interviewed 131 men and women for the four open trustee seats and village president's post. The five men who were ultimately anointed campaigned under a vow to "Keep Hinsdale Healthy!" That slogan might resonate differently today.

On the education side, a clipping from April 30, 1901, bears the headline "An Election Where Ladies Can Vote." This newsworthy invitation - considering women's suffrage was not recognized in Illinois until 1913 - was for the "annual district school election," a formality as it was uncontested.

An article on the 1954 election reveals that at that time there was one consolidated school board for District 181 (elementary) and District 86 (high school).

"The same seven board members constitute the board of education for each district, their meetings simply being adjourned from one district to (the) other in conducting school business," it reads.

High electorate interest in a potential bond issuance that year resulted in "the largest number of local patrons ever to go to the polls on school issues of any kind - 2,913."

Hinsdale has also been the launching pad for several state and national officeholders, starting with Robert Childs' election to Congress in 1893. A train carrying 1896 presidential candidate Williams Jennings Bryan zipped through town in September of that year. He would make an actual stop here in 1917, following three unsuccessful runs for the nation's highest office, to speak at the Congregational Church (now Union Church).

During the presidential campaign of 1984, Democratic vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro was a special guest at Hinsdale Central High School's celebration of Eleanor Roosevelt's centennial birthday.

If that history doesn't compel you to exercise your franchise in this coming election, maybe the thrill of leading the polling place line will. A newspaper blurb from the November 1932 election awarded Andrew Jackson, Carrie Anderman, George Wire and Mamie Goodwin Daniels with primacy honors at their respective precincts.

"It is rather unusual that two men and two women were the first to vote in Hinsdale," the writer opines.

If you say so. Here's to the unusual!

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean