A seven-mile square of pure prairie land, which we now know as Manteno Township, was home to the Potawatomie Indians until 1844 when Zenas Stevens came with his father, Ansel.
There was not a house or tree in the area. Stevens found the hunting abundant in this wildrerness for by that time the Indians had left for their western reservations.
M. Menard was credited with founding this prairie settlement but that fact was never recorded. However, a Medard (also Medore) Martin and his wife, Marguerite, did establish a store where the village now stands, probably at the southwest corner lot of First Street and Chestnut, the latter now known as Main Street.
The single most important factor in the development of Manteno township and ultimately the village was the Illinois Central Railroad for with the railroad came people.
The adoption of Indian names was popular in naming area towns, and Manteno was derived from that of the Indian Princess Mawteno (or Mon-te-no), daughter of Francois Bourbonnais, Jr. and Catish, his Indian wife.
Incorporation as a village came in 1869, and progress quickly followed. Postal service arrived in 1870, telephone communication was added in 1883 and the Village Hall and a water works building were constructed in 1895.
As the 1900's arrived, Manteno's identity as a railroad/agricultural town was established. At that time, the village boasted 932 inhabitants. By 1920 the population had reached 1,182; there was a Businessmen's Association; Main Street was paved and the Manteno State Hospital, later to become the largest in the world, was begun.
As the years rolled by, the Village found its way through the Great Depression, sent its young men to World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm and continued it sturdy growth in business and population to become the thriving, vibrant community it is today.