History of DeKalb

When DeKalb Became a City: DeKalb was first incorporated as a village in 1856, and did not become a city until 1877.

How DeKalb got it's name: DeKalb was originally named Huntley’s Grove, but was later named after the county, whose name originated­­­­ from war hero Baron Johann DeKalb.

Barbed Wire: Joseph Glidden, who developed barbed wire, is a historic citizen of DeKalb. Glidden would ultimately be known as the “Father of Barbed Wire”. Glidden began to mass produce his invention, and eventually sold half of the company to Isaac L. Ellwood. Together, the two formed the Barb Fence Company.

Northern Illinois University: In 1895, the Northern Illinois State Normal School began in DeKalb. The school was part of the five state normal schools, which included Eastern Illinois, Illinois State, Southern Illinois State, Western Illinois State, and Northern Illinois State. Over the next several years, the schools changed names, and eventually Northern Illinois State Normal School became Northern Illinois University.

DeKalb Municipal Band: 
The DeKalb Municipal Band is a tradition that goes back to 1854, when a small group of musicians fresh from the California Gold Rush formed the Silver Cornet Band. Since then, a City Band in DeKalb has existed for 155 years, uninterrupted by wars, and a depression. With such a record, DeKalb claims to be the city with the oldest continuous band in Illinois.

Police Department:  The DeKalb Police Department was officially established on July 22nd in 1885. In 1894, the city marshal and a night watchman were all that was needed to keep order in DeKalb. Until 2013, the DeKalb Police Department shared its location with City Hall. In 2013, DeKalb Police Department moved to its current location at 700 W. Lincoln Highway. For more history on the police department, visit here

Fire Department:  The DeKalb Fire Department was established in 1869 as hood and ladder company staffed by volunteer firefighters. By 1904, the city had 4 full-time paid firefighters and occupied a new fire station on north 4th street. Today, the Fire Department has three fire stations. For more history on the fire department, visit here.

For more history on DeKalb, we encourage you to read the DeKalb Centennial here.

The information above was obtained from the DeKalb Centennial.

4th Street DeKalb Fire Station
Ambulance call in the 60s
Police Department 1891-1967