After the Potawatomi left this area in the 1830s, most of it was grazed and farmed. Early landowners include Elijah Stanford, Charles Hawkins, and Otto Lehmann. Stanford and Hawkins were both born in New York in 1832. Stanford came to Fox Lake with his parents at the age of 12, left for the California Gold Rush with his wife at the age of 18, moved to Nevada when 32 and returned here to farm this land at age 38.
Hawkins moved here as a 13-year-old and stayed until he was 29, when the Civil War broke out. He joined the infantry and fought in several battles, receiving a bullet wound in his hand. After the war, he returned to his farm here and became a school director.
Otto Lehmann, son of E.J. Lehmann (founder of Chicago’s Fair Department Store and responsible for bringing the railroad to Lake Villa), also owned property in what is now Grant Woods. He and his family helped the area’s economy, employing local residents as horse trainers, carpenters, and grounds keepers on their large estates, including the historic Lehmann Mansion, which is located adjacent to Sun Lake Forest Preserve in Lake Villa.