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Crystal Lake Historical Society

King Street

Local History

The original Plat of Survey for the Village of Crystal Lake was completed in 1840. This original Plat indicates eight streets and 138 individual lots. One of the original eight streets was King Street. King Street was originally two blocks long, and ran north-south between Lake Street and Virginia Street, which was the old Indian trail between Fort Dearborn (Chicago) and Wisconsin. Today, King Street is only one block long.

King Street is named after one of Crystal Lake’s earliest settlers. Lyman King was born about 1783. He came from New York State to Crystal Lake in the late 1830s with his second wife, Phoebe Williams King, who was born August 8, 1792. The Kings were cousins to at least two other early Crystal Lake families, the Beardsleys and the Lampheres.

Lyman King is listed in the 1840 census of McHenry County. He and Phoebe had a large family with many children, none of them born in Illinois. They had a family of eleven children, of which nine lived to adulthood. Some of their older children were already grown and married before the family moved to Illinois. The younger children grew up in Crystal Lake.

Lyman was a farmer and a business man. The King family was very active in their church and community. Upon arriving in Crystal Lake, he helped to build the first school house. The school was built of logs and was located at the northwest corner of Virginia Street and McHenry Avenue. On May 24, 1840, Lyman and Phoebe were the first people to be “received by letter” into the Baptist Church. Their daughter, Fidelia, was the first child baptized in the church.

Lyman owned several city lots on Virginia Street, where he built the King Hotel. The hotel was first constructed of logs. Later, the interior was embellished with walnut beams and plastered walls. The King Hotel was a favored stopover of stagecoaches and fur traders. Horse teams were changed, mail dropped off and picked up, and travelers walked around and refreshed themselves until the driver blew the whistle announcing to all within earshot that it was time to head onward. The King Hotel was located across from the City Park, approximately where the Taco Bell stands today.

Lyman King had accumulated a large estate before he died in Crystal Lake on January 22, 1851. Phoebe King died October 23, 1863 in Walworth County, Wisconsin, where she was living with her youngest daughter. Both Lyman and Phoebe King are buried in the King family plot in the Lake Avenue Cemetery, Crystal Lake.

After Lyman death, the King Hotel changed hands several times. By the early 1870s it was owned by T.H. Ashton and known as the Ashton House. Ashton enlarged the original hotel structure by adding on several additions. The Ashton House was called the “Grandfather of all Hotels” and was one of the largest, most elegant buildings in the vicinity. Sadly, on November 13, 1904, the Ashton House was completely destroyed by fire. It was never rebuilt.