In 1870, Henry C. Middaugh (one of the earliest settlers of Clarendon Hills) purchased roughly 270 acres of land in the northeast part of what would ultimately become the Village of Clarendon Hills. Middaugh was exceptionally wealthy for someone living in Clarendon Hills at the time and he wanted only the best of everything for his new property. He used his new land for an enormous mansion and a farm, complete with grazing fields for his cattle, sheep, and a few other animals. Middaugh’s exorbitant spending habits were not limited to his mansion alone as he purchased only the best grass seed for his animals to graze on.
One year – while replenishing his grass seed – an error was made and Middaugh received a shipment of daisy seed. Unfortunately, daisy seed looks the same as grass seed and this error was not apparent until millions of daisies grew where there was supposed to be grass. Because of this error, Middaugh’s entire field was covered, as far as the eye could see, in daisies. Though Middaugh was quite aggravated that the error was made, the entire village (including Middaugh) was taken aback by the striking beauty of the daisies.
This “problem” wasn’t Middaugh’s alone for very long because of the nature of daisies. Daisies are a sturdy and prolific plant, capable of surviving in very harsh conditions – like Midwestern winters – and spreading to new areas extremely quickly. It wasn’t long after Middaugh’s daisy fields spread throughout the village, and Clarendon Hills became known as “Daisy Fields.” Because of the easy access by train, countless people flocked to the beautiful village of “Daisy Fields” for afternoon walks, weekend visits, and picnics so they could be surrounded by hundreds of acres of daisies. Visitors and florists alike picked the daisies for friends, family, lovers, and customers.
The Village of Clarendon Hills celebrates the tradition of the daisy fields to this day with an annual Daisy Days celebration. The Daisy Days festival is a joyous occasion filled with live music, games, food, carnival rides, and most importantly, friends and family. While there may not be many (if any) daisies left in the village, everyone in Clarendon Hills knows the story of Henry Middaugh and the mistake that beautified an entire village culture.
Read more Clarendon Hills History!