Seneca is a small village located in LaSalle and Grundy counties. The 2010 census puts the population at 2,300. The remains of the Illinois Michigan Canal passes through the village as well as the Illinois River.
A French missionary Gabriel de la Ribourde is thought to be the first white missionary attempting to bring Catholicism to the indigenous population. In 1680, he was ambushed and killed by a party of Kickapoo Indians.
The first permanent settler was Jeremiah Crotty He was a successful business man and entrepreneur. He was born in Cork, Ireland. Like many of his country men, he fled Ireland to avoid the awful conditions that existed under English rule. He first lived in New York; later he spent time in Pennsylvania and Maryland. He eventually ended in Lockport, Il. He became a successful contractor on the Illinois Michigan Canal. He was responsible for several sections between Aux Sable and Ottawa. He also was a contractor for the Rock Island Railroad between Minonk and Ottawa. He did work for the Northwestern Railroad.
He had a house built in the area that would later become Seneca in 1849. In 1857, he laid out a village and sold lots. This area was known as Crotty Town. It was incorporated in 1858.
By 1860, Crotty Town had 15 houses and 2 stores. In March of 1879, the whole town perished in a fire. It was successfully rebuilt. Mr. Crotty was involved in many successful business endeavors in the region.
This area was known a Crotty Village or Seneca. However, Seneca became the official name in 1957.
In 1848, the Illinois Michigan Canal was completed. Grain elevators were built adjacent to the canal.
Rock Island Railroad was completed in 1852. Seneca Depot was built in 1854.
In 1882, Kankakee and Seneca Railroad was completed. This was built to provide an alternative route than Chicago for grain shipments. This line was operated by the Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Saint Louis, and Chicago Railroad. The line closed in 1933. During the 1940’s, the Prarie Shipyard operated and was responsible for the construction of hundreds of LST’s used World War 2