Fairdale, Illinois


Fairdale is an unincorporated community located in Franklin Township, in the northwestern corner of DeKalb County, Illinois, United States. It is located on the Iowa, Chicago and Eastern Railroad and on Illinois Route 72, approximately 4.8 miles (7.7 km) east of Exit 111 on Interstate 39.

Fairdale, Illinois
Fairdale, Illinois is located in Illinois
Fairdale, Illinois
Fairdale, Illinois
Location of Fairdale within Illinois
Coordinates: 42°06′00″N 88°55′58″W / 42.10000°N 88.93278°W / 42.10000; -88.93278Coordinates: 42°06′00″N 88°55′58″W / 42.10000°N 88.93278°W / 42.10000; -88.93278
CountryUnited States
 • Total.23 sq mi (0.6 km2)
781 ft (238 m)
 • Total152
 • Density660/sq mi (260/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area codes815 and 779


The community known today as Fairdale was platted in 1875[2] or 1876[3] (sources differ) and was centered on the property of farmer Henry Koch. The community's original name was Fielding, apparently named for a man named Albert Fielding.[4] Early buildings in Fielding included Lewis Keith's general merchandise store, L.W. King's drug store, and a Methodist church.[3] A post office was first established in the community in 1875 under the name Wallace (which was the name of the son of Henry Koch).[5]

Eventually, the growth of the neighboring community of Kirkland outpaced the growth of Fielding (Fairdale), possibly due to Kirkland's coaling and watering station.[3]

The name of the community (Fielding) and the name of the post office (Wallace) were both changed to Fairdale in late 1895 or early 1896.[4][5] (The post office eventually closed in 1953.)[6]

2015 tornadoEdit

On April 9, 2015, the community was struck by an EF4 tornado, which caused two fatalities, numerous injuries, and significant damage to commercial and residential buildings.[7][8] According to local authorities, 15 to 20 homes were destroyed, and almost all of the buildings in the town "sustained damage of some sort".[9] Technical rescue teams from DeKalb and Rockford assisted in searching the collapsed buildings for survivors.[10] The tornado had peak winds of 200 mph, the upper limit of an EF4. A man named Clarence "Clem" Schultz filmed a video of the tornado approaching his house, which ended up killing his wife and her best friend in the process. Shultz, along with 22 others, were injured during the tornado.[11]


By 1881, a school had been established in Fielding (Fairdale).[12] By the early 1900s, a two-year high school had opened, and in 1924 it became a four-year high school. The high school closed in 1945, but the school building continued to serve as an elementary school for the Kirkland School District until 1967. Since that time, the community has been part of what is now Hiawatha Community Unit School District 426, with most students attending schools in neighboring Kirkland. As of 2018, the former school building was a private residence.[13]


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Fairdale, Illinois
  2. ^ The Biographical Record of De Kalb County, Illinois. Higginson Book Company. 1898. p. 403.
  3. ^ a b c Gross, Lewis M. (1907). Past and Present of DeKalb County, Illinois, Vol. 1. Chicago: The Pioneer Publishing Company. p. 132. Retrieved 10 April 2015. Fairdale, formerly known as Fielding, was platted in 1876 and for a time was much larger and more prosperous than Kirkland.
  4. ^ a b Callary, Edward (29 September 2008). Place Names of Illinois. University of Illinois Press. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-252-09070-7.
  5. ^ a b "Places Of Interest Around DeKalb County, Old & New". DeKalb.IllinoisGenWeb.org. Retrieved 10 April 2015. Fielding was named for Albert Fielding. The post office was named for Wallace Koch, son of Henry and Julia A. Koch one of the town's founders. As years went by it became confusing to have two different names for the town and its post office - this prompted the change to Fairdale in January 1896.
  6. ^ "DeKalb County". Jim Forte Postal History. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  7. ^ "Two Dead After Tornadoes Rake Northern Illinois". NBC 5 Chicago WMAQ. 10 April 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  8. ^ Lord, Steve; Walberg, Matthew; Walker, Janelle (10 April 2014). "Illinois tornado that killed 2, destroyed town packed EF4 punch". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  9. ^ "Crews Continue Search for Survivors After Tornado in Fairdale, Illinois". The New York Times. Associated Press. 10 April 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  10. ^ Jeffreys, Samantha (10 April 2015). "UPDATED: Second fatality confirmed in Fairdale". WREX-TV, Rockford. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  11. ^ Angela Fritz (April 6, 2016). "A huge tornado killed his wife and destroyed their home. He filmed the whole thing". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  12. ^ Gross, Lewis M. (1907). Past and Present of DeKalb County, Illinois, Vol. 1. Chicago: The Pioneer Publishing Company. p. 301. Retrieved 10 April 2015. In 1881 the Genoa school had commencement exercises... ...so at this time in the schools of Fairdale, Kirkland, Kingston, Malta, Cortland, Shabbona, Waterman, Hinckley, and Somonauk courses of study ranging from two to four years have been laid down and commencement exercises held accordingly.
  13. ^ "Fairdale High School". IllinoisHSGloryDays.com. Retrieved 10 April 2015.

External linksEdit

  • "April 9, 2015 Tornado Event". weather.gov. National Weather Service. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  • "Fairdale, Illinois: Before & After the Tornado" - Swipable images prepared by NBC Chicago WMAQ