The south Chicago suburb of Markham, Illinois is said to have been all beach over 10,000 years ago. The terrain was much different, of course, in 1925 when the village was incorporated with a population of less than 300 people. The village was named for the Illinois Central Railroad president from 1911-1918 and 1919-1926, Charles H. Markham.
In the 1930s, the village’s Croissant Park subdivision broke ground and would go on to increase the area’s population to 1,388 residents. Following World War II, that population doubled to 2,753. On August 24, 1967, the City of Markham was incorporated.
Markham developed into what is called a “bedroom” community with residents seeking homes more than industry.
One of the most enduring stories of the land’s history is the Lone Pine Tree tale. In 1860, German immigrant Lawrence Roesner traveled to the southern boundary of the area and settled in the northwest corner. Roesner brought six seedlings from the Black Forest of Germany and planted them along the Indian Boundary Line. The “Lone Pine Tree” was later dubbed the city’s symbol in 1985. The last of the six pine trees brought from the Black Forest in 1860 died in 1986. The Markham City Council replaced the tree with one from the Black Forest that same year.
In 2017, having been convicted of mail fraud in a federal health insurance case, Roger Agpawa was elected mayor of Markham making him the first convicted felon to have been elected mayor. He also serves as fire chief in nearby Country Club Hills.
Markham is comprised of 2,500 acres of virgin or restored prairie lands. The prairie is supervised by Northeastern Illinois University and The Nature Conservancy. They continue to grow today and flourish with continued support from the Friends of the Indian Boundary Prairies.
Markham boasts many prominent people that hail from the area. They include:
- Randy Daniels, secretary of state in New York and Deputy mayor of New York City
- Rodney Harrison, retired safety for New England Patriots and San Diego Chargers
- Cilff Floyd, outfielder for San Diego Padres
- Denny McLain, Major League Baseball player and Cy Young Award-winning picher
- Corey McPherrin, raised in Markham, news anchor for Chicago FOX News
- Kid Sister, hip-hop artist
- Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, hip-hop artist and producer, born in Markham