|Settled by||Captain John Barber;|
Briarcliff Road on the north, Interstate 55 on the south, Pinecrest Road on the east, Schmidt Road on the west
This Will County suburb of Bolingbrook was first settled by Captain John Barber in the year 1832 at the location of where two Pottawatomi Indian trails met that are now known today as Boughton Road and Route 53. Barber and his family turned the area into a dairy farm and named the area Barber’s Corner which would become the long standing name for the whole Bolingbrook area for years to come.
Barber’s Corner remained a farming community and largely rural for many years well into the 20th century as saw mills, grist mills and a cheese factory were the industry in this community.
It was not until the year 1960 that an actual subdivision was built up called Westbury, which is located at the intersection of Route 53 and Briarcliff. The very first houses built in this subdivision were at the intersection of Route 53 and Rocklin Court in 1960. By 1963 another subdivision known as Colonial Village was built up, and by 1965 the two subdivisions’ residents put together the Village of Bolingbrook and achieved incorporation.
Starting in the late 1960s Bolingbrook became the site of affordable housing as many new houses and town homes were built. Some well-known town house subdivisions are Beaconridge and Fernwood which are both located near the intersection of Route 53 (Bolingbrook Dr.) and Lily Cache. New apartment complexes were constructed beginning in 1971 for a renting population such as Woodcreek Apartments (now known as Riverstone Apartments) located at the intersection of Lily Cache and Woodcreek Dr., and Innsbrook Apartments located on Boughton Road near I-355.
Bolingbrook was an ideal suburb to live in back in the 1970s especially after Old Chicago opened in 1975 that featured a large mall for shopping and also an amusement ride park that operated in full force until 1980 when the amusement park section of it closed down the shopping area would follow by 1986.
In the year 1981, the Bolingbrook police began dealing with an increase in such crimes as vandalism and theft, upon investigation police uncovered that Chicago based street gangs were largely responsible for this recent criminal activity. The gangs were not well known when they first appeared in 1981 and 1982, so many residents were not really aware of any Chicago based gangs in the neighborhood but by 1983 it became known that Bolingbrook had street gangs and became the first Will county suburb to have Chicago based gangs (Chicago Tribune Page 4, March 15, 1983).
The first gangs to manifest in the 1980s were Latin Kings, Black P Stones, Black Gangster Disciples (now known as Gangster Disciples), Two Six and Conservative Vice Lords. By the early 1990s Two Two Boys and Four Corner Hustlers were also known to be active in the village.
The gangs were active all throughout the 1980s and continued to grow at a large rate. The Beaconridge subdivision had the most gang activity with Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, Black P Stones and Latin Kings dominating this strip of town homes. Fernwood became dominated by Vice Lords, Gangster Disciples and Black P Stones. Latin Kings, Vice Lords, Black P Stones and Gangster Disciples could be found all throughout the Innsbrook and Woodcreek apartments. Gangs like Two Six, Two Two Boys and Four Corner Hustlers were found scattered in several areas around town along with Gangster Disciples, Black P Stones, Vice Lords and Latin Kings.
By 1991, the gangs were heating up and ready to start inflicting several acts of violence upon their rivals. In the Beaconridge subdivision there were already gang brawls almost daily, and many gang members would sneak through a hole in the fence at the north side of the subdivision to rob shoppers at the Walmart located next door, prompting that Walmart to hire security parking lot patrols. It took years before that hole was finally fixed but before then many shoppers were victimized.
Bolingbrook gangs first caught major attention on April 23, 1991 when a gang brawl broke out at nearby Romeoville High School. The fight was between Gangster Disciples and Black P Stones and when the brawl was over with, Romeoville police denied it was a gang related brawl, ha! Such denial! This denial probably did not help draw enough attention to the gangs operating in the Beaconridge subdivision which is where many of the brawlers lived but attended Romeoville High School. On that fateful day on April the 23rd the Gangster Disciples wanted revenge for the brawl at R.H.S. so when they drove up and saw three members of the Black P Stones hanging out in front of a townhouse at 109 Somerset Lane, they opened fire on them striking three teens. The news reported that Romeoville police sergeant Paul Fawser said he doubted that the fight at R.H.S was gang related, but one of the victims was Jermaine Hudson, who was 17 at the time (Chicago Tribune April 27, 1991). Hudson is a known Black P Stone gang member in the Will County area and has a long criminal record, he is currently (as of 2017) in the Illinois Department of Correction system and he can be looked up with an inquiry. He also has a Black P Stone tattoo which proves this shooting was gang related and so was the fight at R.H.S. Fawser’s statement doubting this was gang related is a fine example of suburban police denying the presence of gang activity in their precious suburbs.
The shooting in April of 1991 was the first documented and well known gang related shooting in the suburb of Bolingbrook and now residents were panicking about the possibility of gangs growing much larger and more violence to come. The fears would soon turn into reality as the Bolingbrook gangs grew into very large numbers in the early and mid-1990s. New gangs appeared in the neighborhood such as Black Souls, Mickey Cobras, Black Disciples, Sin City Boys and Latin Angels. Bolingbrook then became a rather rough suburb in certain parts of the community. In the Innsbrook, Woodcreek and Beaconridge communities it became known that pizza delivery drivers would be robbed at gun point or knife point many of times. I even knew a guy that delivered for Pizza Hut into Innsbrook several years ago and as he went to deliver the pizza, someone went into his car and stole his cheap $5 floor mats that were well used.
Several beatings and robberies happened in Beaconridge many years ago, this led the Bolingbrook police to have plain clothes police officers to foot patrol the subdivision.
Another rough area of Bolingbrook became the townhomes off of Schmidt Road and Seneca Lane and Blair Lane where several incidents of gang activity occurred over the years. Gang activity was also prevalent in the Pepper Tree subdivision, where mostly Latino gangs would operate like Two Six, Two Two Boys and Latin Kings. Bolingbrook had many rough sections but the most notorious was Beaconridge, Innsbrook and Fernwood.
On September 22, 1994, a Bolingbrook gang member named Anthony Yeargain got in his car and drove from his Woodcreek Apartments address to the Beaconridge subdivision, in that subdivision he was spotted by a 16 year old and 13 year old rival gang members who pulled out a .38 caliber revolver and shot Anthony in the head as he drove by. Yeargain was able to drive his car to the nearby strip mall next door and ask for help, once he got to the hospital his life started to slip away and he died shortly thereafter that day. After this shooting death fear spread to Bolingbrook High School as the homecoming prep rally was cancelled while extra security was brought in for the Romeoville High School football game (Chicago Tribune Tim Tierney September 24, 1994). This was an example of how bad the Beaconridge area was becoming around this time.
By the later 1990s Bolingbrook police cracked down on the gangs of Bolingbrook heavily and drastically reduced gang activity in the suburb and further more into the 21st century. Beaconridge was heavily cleaned up and Woodcreek fell under new management which kept the area safer. Innsbrook has been completely transformed into higher income apartments in recent years known as Promenade Apartments. Fernwood is safer than it used to be as well. Most of Bolingbrook’s heavier gang activity happened in the 1990s which brought the suburb a bad reputation for being a tough community.