Manteno's name derives from Mawteno, a Potawatomi maiden whose people lived in the area before the arrival of Europeans. Illinois Central Railroad's Manteno Depot led to formation of the township in 1855 and the village in 1869. Farming has been a mainstay in Manteno, and its importance continues today. Once known as a "brickyard town," Manteno's boundaries widened as a mental hospital opened on its eastern border in 1930 and a major interstate sprang up on its western edge decades later. Part of the French-Canadian Heritage Corridor, French was spoken in Manteno well into the 20th century by many residents as well as by an order of nuns from Paris who chose Manteno for a Catholic boarding school-a school they operated for more than six decades. Among former Mantenoans is a man who won the "Grand Prize of the World" in 1900, a woman who canvassed for women's rights legislation that swept the nation in the 19th century, and a family who left its mark on the history of American aviation.