The history of Gardner begins with the building of the Chicago & Alton Railroad through the site on which it was later to stand, in 1854. This land was the property of Henry A. Gardner, J.C. Spencer and C.H. Gould, the first-named of whom was the chief engineer of the newly completed road and did the surveying of the primal town, which was named after him. The original town was divided into twenty-seven blocks, but later additions were added, known as Price’s First and Second addition, Peck’s addition, Hyatt’s addition, Finley’s addition, Augustine addition, Clover addition, Spiller addition, and Willis addition, Shotwell subdivision and Lovejoy’s subdivision.
Gardner was incorporated in February, 1867, under special act of Legislature, when it had a population of about four hundred, the first trustees being: John H. Coles, Amos Clover, W.W. McMann, F. Lathrop and Louis Germain. This form of government continued until 1913 when a general election was called to vote on its incorporation under the general law of the state, and upon the measure being carried, it was immediately incorporated. The present population is about one thousand, while that of the township is about twelve hundred.