A Look at Township Government
Township government is one of the earliest forms of government in North America, established in March 1629. There are some that consider the charter of 1629 the most important document in the history of this country. It provided for the governance of the affairs of the Massachusetts bay company by a general court of all the free men in the company and for the election by them of a governor, a deputy governor and a court of assistance. Various types of charters were granted to other companies. One of these was that of Providence, Rhode Island, when Roger Williams established the town of Providence in 1636 as a self-governing municipality or village, tailoring the form of government we call township today.
An important fact that should be recognized, however, is that 140 years before the American Revolution, town or township government was an established, functioning unit of government in almost the same form in which it operates today. Thirty-eight of the fifty-six men who signed the declaration of Independence had grown up and lived under, and received the benefits of township government before Philadelphia existed. It is little wonder that when this new nation began to move west, the concept of township government went with them.
Historians and political scientists, alike, believe the township system to be the most democratic form of civil government. It is often referred to as the closest thing to a “pure” democracy because the citizens have a direct voice in the affairs of their government and they are encouraged to express their voice. Basically, the inherent value of township government lies in its simplicity.
Leafing through the pages of history, the roots of the township system of government can be traced to the Old English “Town” of Great Britain, which was brought to this continent by the early settlers of the New England colonies. The New England colonies were first settled by congregations from Great Britain that were searching for religious and political freedom. These groups of early settlers formed their communities on irregularly shaped patches of land that later came to be known as townships.
Early New England units were usually comprised of different farms whose owners would gather at the church or meeting house once each week to discuss business of common interest. As the township developed into governmental units, the geographical district was then mapped out and governed by a representative board. Township's history in the United States reflects the basic values that our forefathers cherished.
Townships in Illinois
Following the settlement of Northern Illinois , the state constitution of 1849 provided for the organization of townships as units of civil government. Most of the counties within the state began establishing bodies in 1849-1850.
Township today, as defined by the 1970 Illinois Constitution, are units of local government authorized to exercise certain powers in respect to limited government subjects. Eighty-four of the 102 Illinois counties provide townships units. All together there are 1,434 townships in the state.
A Bit of Bloomingdale Township History
Bloomingdale Township 's history traces back to mid-1800's. When Cook County was created by the Illinois legislature in 1831, Bloomingdale, along with eight other townships, formed the south-western section of the county. Those same townships were subsequently organized into DuPage County . On November 6, 1849, Bloomingdale Township of DuPage County was officially organized. The first town meeting was held on Tuesday, April 1, 1850 in the Baptist Church building at Second and Franklin Streets in Bloomingdale. The elected officials were the Township Supervisor, Town Clerk, two Justices of the Peace, two Constables and two Commissioners of highways. The major occupation in the area was agriculture.
In the year 1850, Bloomingdale Township recorded a population of 895 persons. Today, the figure surpasses 100,000. The boundaries are the same as when the township was platted in 1839. Today, however, portions of seven communities comprise the township. These include the entire Village of Bloomingdale and portions of the Villages of Addison, Carol Stream, Glendale Heights , Hanover Park, Itasca, and Roselle . Unincorporated areas of the township include the areas of Medinah, Glen Ellyn Countryside, Keeneyville and a small portion of Schaumburg . The Township is bounded on the north by Devon Avenue in Roselle, on the south by North Avenue, on the east by Rohlwing Road and on the west by Kuhn Road and consists of 36 square miles.
The first Town Hall was located at 108 S. Bloomingdale Road , Bloomingdale. The Township sold this building to the Bloomingdale Park District for $1.00 by a resolution adopted by the electors of the Town of Bloomingdale at a special town meeting on May 6, 1965. It currently houses the Bloomingdale Park District Museum
What Role Do Townships Fill In Local Government?
The three offices, which are unique to and mandatory for all Townships, are General Assistance, Assessors Office and Highway Department. An elected Township Official directly oversees each one. The Supervisor is responsible for General Assistance along with the Assessor and Highway Commissioner respectively. In addition to these the Township also provides other services, which can be accessed by clicking the Township Services Button in the tool bar at the top of this page, or go to the web site at Bloomingdale Township Assessor for information on the Assessors Office and visit the Highway Department's web site at Bloomingdale Township Highway Department.