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Ton Family Papers

Identifier: spe-nhrc-ton

Scope and Contents

The collection includes biographical sketches, correspondence and related personal material of the family. Also appearing are files related to the incorporated family and its annual family reunion, including by-laws, correspondence, news clippings and programs.


  • 1865 - 1974


Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.

Biographical / Historical

The first members of the Ton family to settle in the Calumet area were Mr. and Mrs. John Ton, who came from Holland in the fall of 1849. Along with other members of a colony of Dutch immigrants, they founded the area known today as Roseland.

The Tons established themselves as farmers, and soon began to prosper. They had nine children, all married and living throughout the area. By 1891, six brothers and sisters had come from Holland at John Ton's suggestion. Each also had very large families, and settled in Roseland and the surrounding areas. Though many stayed in the area, others soon left for places as far away as the East and West coasts.

The first reunion of this very large family was held in 1896, and it was soon decided that it would become an annual event. By 1911, due to the large number of members, the family decided to incorporate. Their objectives were to bring the members into a closer union, and to make the reunions a permanent and pleasing feature of the family. Officers were elected yearly at the annual reunion, and by-laws were established.

In 1945, the family celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. By then, the Tons had become one of the largest families in the country, with a membership of over 1500. Reporters and photographers from Life magazine were present to record the event, and gave the family national recognition.

In 1954, due to a lack of interest among the younger family members, and the inability of the older ones to attend, the family voted to make its 60th reunion its last. The papers of the Ton Family found in this small collection reflect its long and active role in the community as well as its close relationship as a family.


0.25 Linear Feet (in 1 box)

Language of Materials



The Ton family immigrated from Holland and settled in the area known today as Roseland. They were a large family and held annual reunions between 1896 and 1955. The collection contains programs from those reunions.


Files are arranged first by topic (biographical and reunion) and then alphabetical within.

Custodial History

The material comprising the Ton Family Papers was transferred to the custody of the Pioneer Society of the Calumet Region, whose headquarters were in the Pullman Branch of the Chicago Public Library in 1955, in accordance with an amendment passed by the family at the business meeting held at their 60th annual reunion.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Funded by the Dr. Scholl Foundation, the papers were transferred and processed in fall 1982, from the Pullman Branch Library. Additional materials donated over time by various descendants and researchers.

Related Materials

  • Calumet Pioneer Historical Society Records
  • Calumet Region Community Collection
  • Fenger High School Records
  • Fernwood Methodist Church Scrapbooks
  • George A. Brennan Papers
  • Milk Dealers’ Association Ledger and Minute Book
  • Pullman Collection, Historic
  • South Chicago Newspapers Collection

Separated Materials

Approximately 22 photographs have been removed from the manuscript material and listed in the Audio-Visual Collection of the Calumet Region Historical Collection, Appendix B. This was done for preservation purposes as well as to show the close relationship the family had with other pioneers of the area and the growth of the community.

Guide to the Ton Family Papers
Original author unknown. Processed 1982. Updated and ingested into ArchivesSpace by Johanna Russ, 2021.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Unit at Harold Washington Library Center Repository

Harold Washington Library Center, 9th Floor
Chicago Public Library
400 S. State Street
Chicago IL 60605 United States
(312) 747-4875