Historic Fullersburg: At the Crossroads of DuPage County

By Brian Failing, Community Services & Education

The area around Fullersburg Woods was settled in 1833, the same year Chicago became incorporated and two years after Joseph Naper established the oldest community in the county, Naperville. The area was originally known as Brush Hill but was renamed Fullersburg after Jacob Fuller, and his son, Benjamin, who platted the town in 1851. At this time Fullersburg was the fourth platted village in DuPage, following Naperville, Warrenville and Bloomingdale. It predated the opening of the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad through DuPage County around 1874.

Fullersburg developed and flourished as a result of the plank road and Salt Creek. The plank road roughly followed the path of current-day Ogden Avenue from Chicago to Naperville. As one account stated, “Early settlers sought the locality because of its high ground beyond the mud of Chicago, then beginning to rise from the marshes.”

Salt Creek was a vital waterway that provided recreational opportunities to residents and visitors alike, but it also powered Graue Mill. Frederick W. Graue came to Fullersburg in 1846 and later built the mill and dam. As his grandson recalled, “I was born here in 1868. There were the blacksmith shop and the grocery store and the tavern, and of course the old plank road.” The mill and the family home still stand on the property today.

East of the mill is the Ben Fuller House, one of the oldest standing structures built using balloon-frame construction, which made the rapid development of the Midwest possible. The technique involved nailing together 2-by-4s into frames to form the walls. The house was moved to its current site in 1980.

The restoration of the Ben Fuller House may be the only surviving part of a plan to create a historical district along the banks of Salt Creek to preserve and maintain the fabric of the Brush Hill and Fullersburg communities and the legacy of the Fuller family. In March 1988 the Fullersburg Historic Foundation published its proposed “Initial Plan for the Development and Operation of the Fullersburg Historic Village.” Although the plan did not come to fruition, it called for a village that would “recreate what life was like at a busy pioneer crossroads village of 1860. The emphasis will be on the businesses and trades that served the many travelers on the Plank Road and will highlight the strategic location of Fullersburg.” It called for 12 proposed buildings and a variety of historical interpreters dressed as “shop keepers, tavern keepers, millers, blacksmiths, wheel wrights, carpenters, stage coach drivers, teamsters, toll house attendants, school teachers and village family members.” The goal was to portray village life in 1860s DuPage County. 

1. “Highway Lifts Oblivion From Village of 1835,” Chicago Tribune, March 8, 1931.
2. “Highway Lifts Oblivion From Village of 1835,” Chicago Tribune, March 8, 1931.
3. Initial Plan for the Development and Operation of the Fullersburg Historic Village, Fullersburg History Foundation, March 1988, 7.
4. “Initial Plan for Development,” p. 9.
5. “Initial Plan for Development,” p. 15.

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