Lake Zurich Mayor Suzanne Branding was a guest speaker at the on Sunday afternoon, where she discussed her personal family history in the village that began in 1922.
That’s when her maternal grandparents, originally from the Czech Republic, moved to Lake Zurich. Her grandfather took a job as a manager at Paterson Lumber Yard, which today is , 135 S. Old Rand Road.
Meanwhile, her paternal grandfather had a turkey farm just down the road on the property where now stands. He and her paternal grandmother hailed from Germany and moved to the village in 1928.
Branding’s maternal grandfather was especially active in the community. He was a charter member of the , served as village clerk and was the Lake Zurich school board president when a referendum was passed to build the first high school in the village.
Branding’s mother and father were raised in Lake Zurich and attended the new local high school known then as Ela Township High School. Both were members of the first graduating class of 1932.
“I remember my mother telling me a story about how she voted for the Bears school mascot and the school colors as blue, which remain today,” Branding said.
Branding's mother, Ethel, is the only living Ela Township High School graduate. She will turn 98 on April 20.
After her parents graduated, they courted and were married and raised their family in Lake Zurich, Branding said.
After the presentation, enthusiasm was high and questions from the audience were many.
“This brought back a lot of memories of stories I know and those my parents told me; I grew up here and attended the schools like Suzanne did, and it is special to hear about all the history from her perspective,” said Coral Lee Scranton, a near-lifelong Lake Zurich resident.
Ela Historical Society leaders were pleased that Branding accepted their invitation to share her family's background.
“We asked Suzanne (Mayor Suzanne Branding) to speak to us today because she is a hometown girl with lots of great history to share. We are always looking for people who can add to the treasure of information we have here already,” said Dolores Mark, president of the Ela Historical Society.
Here is some other interesting information shared Sunday:
- When Lake Zurich was known as a summer resort town, Branding was a young girl and remembers playing with the children of families who traveled to the village from as far away as Chicago to spend the summer.
- Branding’s paternal grandparents originally owned a farm in Palatine off Hicks Road between Dundee and Northwest Highway, now known as the Reseda subdivision, before moving to Lake Zurich in 1928.
- Ela Township High School was the first high school in Lake Zurich — which later became Ela Vernon High School — before splitting in 1965 into and Stevenson High School.
- The music store in downtown Lake Zurich used to be a grocery store and meat market owned by Branding’s maternal grandfather.
- Branding grew up knowing her now husband Fred, whose own family history of his own in Lake Zurich dates to the 1880s.
- Fred Branding’s grandfather rented a house to Suzanne Branding’s maternal grandparents when they moved to Lake Zurich in 1922. His father was also in the first Ela Township High School graduating class in 1932.
- In the 1930s, village clerk records show a license to sell ice cream cost a whopping $25, while a separate $25 license had to be purchased if a business owner wanted to sell soda pop.
Each month, a community event is held at the Ela Historical Society, and speakers are welcome. For more information, please contact the Ela Historical Society at 1-847-438-2086 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.