VILLAGE OF KINGSTON
Settled in 1835 Kingston was home not only to the Pottawatomie Indians but early settlers as well. Kingston was one of the first townships in DeKalb County. The post office was established in 1837 with Levi Lee as postmaster. With the post office started and the building of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul railroad the settlement of Kingston grew. It became a prosperous village after 1876 when the Stuart brothers, James and Lyman, platted the town (May 23, 1876). Both men built houses in 1876, both out of brick and both are still standing today. James built the house at 501 S. Main Street and Lyman built the house at 300 S. Main Street. Kingston officially became a Village on Saturday, March 6, 1886.
With Kingston being a major “hub” for two railroads, business flourished throughout the area. By the 1900s Kingston had many businesses including; a hardware store, department store, grocery, meat market, paint shop, hotel, bank, bakery, shoe store, barbershop, pool room, saloon, general store, creamery, undertaking parlor, sawmill, coal and lumber yard, two blacksmith shops, two livery barns, stockyards, and two confectionaries. Kingston had its own baseball team, The Kingston Tigers, and a Drum & Bugle Corps that performed in several special events at the World Fairgrounds. Some of the businesses mentioned above were destroyed in the fire of 1908, which engulfed a large part of town on the west side of Main Street.
The fire of 1908 started from a gas making machine. It engulfed the H W Confectionary, in the Masonic building first. Then the post office owned by Stewart Sherman. It continued on and destroyed Nels Pearson’s building (formally the saloon), John Strombom’s barbershop, and William Littlejohn’s billiard hall. Lastly, it ruined C L Mulford’s office, which was owned by Harry Sherman. The total loss was estimated at $5,000 and nearly half of the business floor space in the village was burned. By 1912 all of the buildings had been rebuilt and Kingston was again a bustling village.
W. H. Bell, an early resident of Kingston, instigated the first Kingston Picnic while he was Village President. The picnic was held every year and in 1912, when The Kingston Township Park opened, the picnic had a permanent home. The annual Kingston Picnic was held for over 100 years and celebrated its centennial in 1976.
A small unincorporated part of Kingston Township, formerly known as Chapmanville, was eventually annexed into Kingston. This part of Kingston includes the Roads of Thurlby, Hunter, and far E. Railroad Street as well as the Avenues of Ash, Ninth, and Tenth.
With the multiple wars that have taken place since the 1900s and the fact that the railroad closed the station in Kingston, the population decreased from over 1,200 in the early 1900s to as little as 259 in 1940. There was a very slow increase in population from 1940 – 1990, but with several new housing developments, Kingston’s population is now back up to 1,164 according to the 2010 Census.
The Kingston Picnic ceased being held in the late 1980s, but Hand-in-Hand Community Project brought it back in August of 2002 and has re-named it Kingston Fest. Hand-in-Hand sought to bring back the bed races that anchored the Kingston Picnic, but due to logistics, this was not possible to do. Thus came the Kingston Cardboard Boat Regatta that is held on the Kishwaukee River in the Kingston Township Park and is the finale to Kingston Fest.