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Huntley was founded in 1851 by William and James Hunt, who were brothers-in-law. The village was named after them. It is located on the Fox River, which provided water power for early industries such as flour mills and sawmills. In 1871 a railroad line opened between Elgin and Chicago; it passed through Huntley, leading to further growth of the community's industry along with its population. By 1900 there were about 1,000 residents in the village; this increased to 2,500 by 1950 before dropping back down to 1,500 from 1960–1980 due to suburbanization of nearby communities like Algonquin (which later annexed land from Huntley). In 2000 an estimated 6% of households earned less than $10 000 per year while 10% had incomes greater than $75 000 per year according data collected by the U.S Census Bureau for every city or town over 25 thousand people within Illinois state lines during that time period.