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Bourbonnais, Illinois facts for kids

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Village of Bourbonnais
"Village of Friendship"
Location of Bourbonnais in Illinois
Location of Bourbonnais in Illinois
Location of Illinois in the United States
Location of Illinois in the United States
Country United States
State Illinois
County Kankakee
Named for François Bourbonnais
 • Total 9.31 sq mi (24.12 km2)
 • Land 9.31 sq mi (24.12 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
660 ft (200 m)
 • Total 18,164
 • Density 1,950.60/sq mi (753.15/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
Zip code
Area code(s) 815 and 779
FIPS code 17-07471

Bourbonnais ( boor-BOH-nay-,_-bur-BOH-niss) is a village in Kankakee County, Illinois, United States. The population was 18,631 in the 2010 census, but had grown to 19,462 in the 2019 census estimate. It is part of the Kankakee-Bourbonnais-Bradley Metropolitan Statistical Area.


The village is named after François Bourbonnais, Sr., a fur trapper, hunter and agent of the American Fur Company, who had married a Native American woman and arrived in the area near the fork of two major Indian trails and the Kankakee River circa 1830. John Jacob Astor had founded the company in 1808, and when the United States banned foreign (i.e. British and Canadian companies such as the Hudson's Bay Company) from competing in the country after the War of 1812, it grew. By 1830, it had a near monopoly of fur trading in the midwest, but the number of local trappable wild animals had declined.

In 1832, Noël LeVasseur arrived as the firm's local agent, established a trading post, and became the area's first permanent non-Native American settler. He married Watseka, niece of a Potawatomi chieftain, and after the Potawatomi were relocated to Iowa, recruited French-Canadians to settle around his store. After establishment of the new Catholic diocese of Chicago missionary Fr. Stephen Badin briefly settled in Bourbonnais Grove in 1846, before retiring further south.

Notre-Dame Convent and Virgin Mary Elementary School 1883

In 1853, the Illinois legislature split Iroquois County, and Bourbonnais Grove became part of new Kankakee County. Because the Illinois Central Railroad ran through Kankakee, founded in 1854, it became the county seat, with Bourbonnais Grove as one of several townships. In 1858 residents built the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, and soon nuns of the Congregation of Notre Dame arrived from Canada to teach and provide nursing care. Two years later they founded Notre Dame Academy. In 1865 clerics of St. Viator founded St. Viator College for boys.

After a referendum in 1875, the settlement incorporated as the Village of Bourbonnais, with George R. LeTourneau as its first mayor, and trustees Francois Sequin, Joseph Legris, Alexis Gosselin, P.L. Monast, Alex LaMontagne, Joseph Goulet, Jacob Thyfault and Len Bessette. LeVasseur died, aged 80, four years later. LeTourneau also became mayor and sheriff of Kankakee as well as state senator; his home (begun in 1837 and with renovations completed in 1866) eventually became headquarters of the local historical society, which is also restoring the garden and nearby arboretum. After enrollment declines in the early 20th century, in 1940 the Catholic institutions were bought out by what became Olivet Nazarene University, since the Protestant school in nearby Vermillion County had burned down the previous year.

In 1999, the town was the site of a major train wreck, the Bourbonnais train accident.

Since 2002, as detailed below, it has become home of the summertime training camp of the Chicago Bears.


According to the 2010 census, Bourbonnais has a total area of 9.31 square miles (24.11 km2), all land.


The original French pronunciation of Bourbonnais came to be Anglicized over time to bər-BOH-nəs. In 1974 a state representative from Bourbonnais introduced a resolution "correcting" the pronunciation of the town's name to burr-bə-nay, closer to the French.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 595
1910 611 2.7%
1920 620 1.5%
1930 685 10.5%
1940 771 12.6%
1950 1,598 107.3%
1960 3,336 108.8%
1970 5,909 77.1%
1980 13,280 124.7%
1990 13,934 4.9%
2000 15,256 9.5%
2010 18,631 22.1%
2020 18,164 −2.5%
US Decennial Census

As of the 2000 United States Census, there were 15,256 people, 5,341 households, and 3,818 families in the village. The population density was 3,302.1/sqmi (1,275.0/km2). There were 5,505 housing units at an average density of 1,191.5/sqmi (460.1/km2). The racial makeup of the village was 90.21% White, 4.59% African American, 0.10% Native American, 2.39% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.69% from other races, and 1.48% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.26% of the population.

There were 5,341 households, out of which 37.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.1% were married couples living together, 11.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.5% were non-families. 22.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 3.07.

The village population contained 25.5% under the age of 18, 15.5% from 18 to 24, 27.9% from 25 to 44, 21.8% from 45 to 64, and 9.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.2 males.

The median income for a household in the village was $49,329, and the median income for a family was $57,086. Males had a median income of $42,216 versus $26,796 for females. The per capita income for the village was $22,476. About 5.2% of families and 6.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.1% of those under age 18 and 3.0% of those age 65 or over.

Chicago Bears training camp

The Chicago Bears of the NFL have held their annual summer training camp at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais since 2002. The Bears moved their training camp to ONU from Platteville, Wisconsin.


Bourbonnais shares a high school, Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School (BBCHS), with Bradley, Illinois. The high school's mascot is the "Boilermaker". The Kankakee Area Career Center (KACC) serves local area high school students as a vocational and technical education institution. Bourbonnais is served by three private high schools: Bishop McNamara Catholic School (Catholic), Grace Christian Academy (non-denominational), and Kankakee Trinity Academy (inter-denominational ).The village is home to Olivet Nazarene University (ONU), on the site of the old St. Viator College campus.

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