Johnsburg, Illinois

Johnsburg is a northwest suburban village in McHenry County, Illinois, United States. The population was 6,337 at the 2010 census.


The area that came to be known as Johnsburg was first settled in 1841 when McHenry County was only 5 years old by immigrant families from the Eifel region of Germany, predominantly the Mayen-Koblenz district (Kreis), who were escaping religious persecution and oppressive social conditions. A small group of the newly-arrived Germans –Nicolaus Frett, Nicolaus Adams, Jacob Schmitt and Johann Baptist Muller – settled in this Fox Valley region and formed one of the first Catholic parishes (named St. John the Baptist) in all of Illinois in what was then called "Miller's Settlement." In 1842 they built their first church; the site has continually held a parish church since then. The church, a simple log cabin, dually functioned as a school as well as a meeting hall. The first priest to serve this new congregation was delivered there by friendly Indians who found him lost in the woods of Wisconsin. The church served the community until 1850 when a larger frame church was built to replace it. In 1867 a third church was built in the popular Gothic style of Germany. This beautiful church took thirteen years to complete and was the pride of the Johnsburg community until it was tragically destroyed by a great fire on February 19, 1900. So devastating was the fire that many grave markers of the early settlers, in the adjoining cemetery, were destroyed.

In 1990 a group of citizens, who lived in this part of unincorporated McHenry County area known for over 100 years as "Johnsburg," feared they would be swallowed or surrounded by municipalities which would provide them little or fractured input in their government. The answer to their problems was found in a neighboring village that shared the same library, schools, fire protection district and township. This small village was incorporated as the Village of Sunnyside in 1956 as a small subdivision on shore of the Fox River. It was the perfect candidate to merge with yet the "Johnsburgers" feared losing their identity. A gentlemen's agreement between municipal and Johnsburg leaders was struck that allowed Sunnyside to annex the surrounding area, thereby tripling its size, but change the name of the new area to Johnsburg after the annexation was complete. Sunnyside annexed the surrounding land in 1992. Sunnyside Village Board set out to fulfill their informal promises to Johnsburg residents and the new municipality was legally renamed to Johnsburg.


Johnsburg is located at (42.385796, -88.235942).

According to the 2010 census, Johnsburg has a total area of 7.674 sqmi, of which 7.08 sqmi (or 92.26%) is land and 0.594 sqmi (or 7.74%) is water. Johnsburg lies within the watershed of the Fox river.

Major streets

  • 20px Richmond Road
  • Ringwood Road
  • McCullom Lake Road
  • Johnsburg Road
  • Spring Grove Road
  • Chapel Hill Road
  • Bay Road
  • Riverside Drive

    Public transportation

    As of October 2018, a Pace bus route between the nearby municipalities of Crystal Lake, McHenry, and Fox Lake also serves Johnsburg. The closest rail transit is the McHenry commuter rail station, one of the termini of Metra's Union Pacific/Northwest Line.


    As of the census of 2000, there were 5,391 people, 1,760 households, and 1,501 families residing in the village. The population density was 973.7 people per square mile (375.7/km²). There were 1,875 housing units at an average density of 338.6 per square mile (130.7/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 98.83% White, 0.13% African American, 0.06% Native American, 0.19% Asian, 0.17% from other races, and 0.63% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.52% of the population.

    There were 1,760 households out of which 44.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 73.9% were married couples living together, 7.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 14.7% were non-families. 11.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.06 and the average family size was 3.32.

    In the village, the population was spread out with 30.6% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 28.3% from 25 to 44, 26.4% from 45 to 64, and 7.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 102.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.4 males.

    The median income for a household in the village was $69,864, and the median income for a family was $73,491. Males had a median income of $51,832 versus $30,893 for females. The per capita income for the village was $27,582. About 1.1% of families and 1.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.1% of those under age 18 and none of those age 65 or over.


    Four schools are part of District 12, which serves students in the Villages of Johnsburg and Ringwood and in the Pistakee Highlands. Johnsburg High School serves grades 9 - 12; known as the "Skyhawks." Johnburg Junior High School, the "Wildcats," serves 6 - 8. Up until 2016, James C. Bush Elementary School served grades 3 and 4 (grade 5 was located at JJHS). Johnsburg Elementary School, the "Bloodhounds", now serves grades 3 - 5. Johnsburg Ringwood Primary Center also known as "The Ringwood Rockets" serves children from PreK - grade 2. The start of the 2008-09 school year brought the steepest enrollment in District 12 schools in five years, when 93 fewer students enrolled.

    Cultural references

    Tom Waits wrote a song called "Johnsburg, Illinois" in 1982. He included it on his album of the following year Swordfishtrombones. It is a short, poignant love poem to his wife, Kathleen Brennan, who grew up in the village.

    The country music duo The Handsome Family (formerly of Chicago) referred to Johnsburg in the title track of their album In the Air, in the lyrics "Last night at the bridge to Johnsburg I swerved down a dead end street" and "Those wild dogs brought back that smell of falling snow and the girl who lives in Johnsburg across a bridge I cannot cross."

    Notable people

  • Kathleen Brennan, musician, songwriter, record producer, and artist.
  • C. J. Fiedorowicz, retired tight end for the Houston Texans of the NFL. Graduated from Johnsburg High School. He went to college at the University of Iowa.
  • Clay Guida ("The Carpenter,"), mixed martial artist currently competing in the UFC, lived in Johnsburg
  • Chuck Hiller, second baseman (first National League player to hit a grand slam homer in World Series History - 1962), coach, and manager with the San Francisco Giants, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Sam Saboura, former host and stylist of ABC's Extreme Makeover and current host of TLC's Something Borrowed, Something New, moved to Johnsburg as a teen and graduated from Johnsburg High School