Manteno Melanie Holmes
Once known as a "brickyard town," the small town of Manteno holds a special place for not just Americans, but for French, Canadians, and Indigenous people as well.
Though the village of Manteno was only formed thanks to the Illinois Central Railroad in 1869, the area had been populated for generations before that - Manteno's name derives from Mawteno, a Potawatomi maiden whose people lived in the area before the arrival of Europeans. Farming has always been a mainstay in Manteno, and its importance continues today, but Manteno's boundaries widened as a mental hospital opened on its eastern border in 1930 and a major interstate sprang up on its western edge decades later. Part of the French-Canadian Heritage Corridor, it was common to hear French on the streets of Manteno well into the 20th century by many residents as well as by an order of nuns from Paris who chose Manteno for a Catholic boarding school - a school they operated for more than six decades. Among former Mantenoans is a man who won the "Grand Prize of the World" in 1900, a woman who canvassed for women's rights legislation that swept the nation in the 19th century, and a family who left its mark on the history of American aviation.