Ton Family Papers

Dates: 1865-1974
Size: 0.25 linear feet in 1 box
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State St., Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: spe.ton
Immediate Source of Acquisition: Funded by the Dr. Scholl Foundation, the papers were transferred and processed in fall 1982, from the Pullman Branch Library.
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.
Conditions Governing Access: Materials are open without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use: Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.
Preferred Citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: Ton Family Papers [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library.
Finding aid Author: Original author unknown. Processed 1982. Updated and ingested into ArchivesSpace by Johanna Russ, 2021.


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.


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.

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.


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


  • Dutch — Illinois — Chicago — History
  • Pullman (Chicago, Ill.)
  • Roseland (Chicago, Ill.)

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.

Related Materials

Collection Inventory

Box 1 Folder 1 Biographical - Biographical Sketches, circa 1920, 1932, 1958, undated
Box 1 Folder 2 Biographical - Certificate, school, 1871
Box 1 Folder 3 Biographical - Correspondence, 1956
Box 1 Folder 4 Biographical - Genealogy of, circa 1964
Box 1 Folder 5 Biographical - Residences: drawings of, 1865; newspaper clipping on, 1939
Box 1 Folder 19 Biographical - Vis Family genealogy (photocopy); 1903
Box 1 Folder 6 Reunion - By-laws, undated
Box 1 Folder 7 Reunion - Correspondence, 1956
Box 1 Folder 8 Reunion - Invitations, 1900, 1912
Box 1 Folder 9 Reunion - Memorial booklet and notices, 1915, 1955
Box 1 Folder 10 Reunion - Minutes of meetings, excerpts from, 1953
Box 1 Folder 11 Reunion - News clippings, 1918, 1939, 1940’s
Box 1 Folder 12 Reunion - Programs, 1896-1906
Box 1 Folder 13 Reunion - Programs, 1907-1915
Box 1 Folder 14 Reunion - Programs, 1916-1923
Box 1 Folder 15 Reunion - Programs, 1924-1932
Box 1 Folder 16 Reunion - Programs, 1933-1942
Box 1 Folder 17 Reunion - Programs, 1943-1948
Box 1 Folder 18 Reunion - Programs, 1949-1955
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