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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871, by 

C. E\ "VEjSTT, 
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at "Washington, D. C. 








I. Geographical position of Chicago Meteorology The river Com- 

mercial importance of the site, .11 

II. Aboriginal history The early French explorers Origin of the 
name " Chicago" The fur-traders, 14 

IIL Fort Dearborn The original fort The first "white man" a 
negro John Kinzie Indian troubles The fort evacuated The 
massacre in 1812, ......... 17 

IV. Re-occupation The fort rebuilt Major Long's visit in 1823, . 21 

V. The canal The work advocated in Congress A company formed 

The first land-grant by the United States, 23 

VL The town of Chicago Original survey Immigration An un- 
inviting place County of Cook organized Indian payment 
Winter experiences The Blackhawk war Packing ^'ew : com- 
ers The harbor A primitive post-office Churches Indian coun- 
cil The town Commercial relations A wolf-hunt, 25 

VII. Inflation The speculative epoch Government land-office Ho- 
tel keeping under difficulties First fire company Sale of wharf- 
ing lots Work commenced on the canal Marine statistics, . 39 

VIII. The city Incorporation Election of officers Taking the cen- 
sus, 47 

IX. The collapse Crisis of 1837 Its causes Five years of depres- 
sion Early commerce Education Water supply, . - .49 

X. Growing again The Illinois and Michigan Canal constructed 
Its effect on business Land-sales The " Garden City " " Milti- 
more's Folly," .......... 58 

XL The expectant period Railroad projects The cholera Gas 
Wharf-building Formation of the Board of Trade Grain-elevat- 
ors, 67 

XT!. The railroad era New departure A network of iron rails 

Rapid extension, 73 

XIII. Commercial growth in the railroad era Grain trade Good 

resolutions Cattle-yards, 79 



PA 01 

XIV. Manufactures in the railroad era Establishment of factories 
Banking, 82 

XV. City improvements in the railroad era Extension of bounda- 
ries Water supply Drainage Bad streets Public buildings 
Schools and churches Amusements Newspapers, . . .84 

XVI. The panic of 1857 A financial storm Effects on commerce 
and the price of real estate Great depression in business, . 94 

XVII. Lifting up Filling the streets, and raising to grade Wooden- 
block pavement Growth of population The produce movement 
Manufactures, . 97 

XVIII. The rebellion Camp Douglas A nation in arms Recruit- 
ing for the field Building the camp The prisoners National 
Democratic Convention, 101 

XIX. Outside Camp Douglas Purchase of government supplies 
Raising recruits The great conspiracy to burn the city The 
draft Cost of the war End of the rebellion Death of President 
Lincoln, ........... 107 

XX Aiding the soldiers The "Soldiers' Home" Sanitary labors 

The great fairs Receiving the returning veterans, . - . Ill 

XXI. Chicago during the war Twelve millions of dollars swept out 
of existence Wonderful growth of commerce and manufactures 

Numerous and extensive city improvements, . . . .113 

XXII. Peace and prosperity Temporary depression on the close of 
the war Mercantile embarrassments Speedy recovery Tremen- 
dous strides onward, ......... 123 

XXIII. Commerce of 1870 Statistics of business Foreign and do- 
mestic trade The banks and elevators Railroads, . . . 125 

XXIV. Manufactures in 1870 The work of one decade Compari- 

sons Incomes of the people, ....... 133 

XXV. Property Real estate Assessed and actual values of real 
and personal property Sales Extension of business area, . 136 

XXVI. The parks A grand system of public parks and boulevards 

Effects on real estate, . . . ' 139 

XXVII. Taxation City, State, and county taxes Municipal debt 
Special assessments, 144 

XXVIII. Building after the war Number and character of new busi- 
ness structures Churches, schools, universities, etc. The big tel- 
escope Hotels Tunnels under the river City buildings, . , 145 

XXIX. The lake-tunnel Description of the "big bore," and its ca- 
pacities The giant crib Water supply, 155 

XXX. Other public improvements Sewerage Street-paving Side- 
walks Deepening the canal, ....... 160 

XXXI. Commercial improvements Harbor extensions New dock 
system along the lake-shore Calumet The great union stock- 
yards, 163 

XXXII. Chicago in 1871 Statistics of population, area, number of 
buildings, and valuations of property Religious and educational 
The railroad system Commerce and manufactures General 
plan of the city Sanitary, educational, scientific, literary, artistic, 
and moral status The city government, . . . . .167 



XXXIII. Science of the fire The conflagrations in Chicago and the 
lumber regions of the North-west A startling chapter in the 
world's history Meteorological and climatic changes involved 
The cause Extraordinary drought Sun-spots, .... 188 


I. The great conflagration The fire as a hero It marches through 

four miles of solid buildings It takes them all A plain account 
of the operations of the " fiend," 201 

II. A night of terror Fleeing for life A city full of sleepers sur- 
prised and stampeded Chased into the lake The merciless ele- 
ments Ruffianism and rapine A thousand dollars to a carter 
Escape to the prairies, ......... 214 

III. Personal experiences The early stages of the fire The purlieu 
which generated it A scene lor a fire-worshiper A weird pro- 
cession Discussing the future by the light of the past, . . 226 

IV. Narrative of Alexander Frear A fond mother's mishaps Scenes 
on the avenues Rifling the dry goods palaces How a pious soul 
prayed herself to death Asking too much of Providence Hu- 
man diabolism Cheapness of life, ...*... 236 

V. Narrative of Horace White, Esq, How the " bloated aristocrats " 
took it A parrot equal to the emergency Sheridan in the fray 

The gunpowder cure, . . . . . . . . 246 

VI. Hon. Isaac N. Arnold defends his castle A vain contest Over- 
powered and routed Running the fire blockade, . . . 254 

VII. The night after the fire Flood and flame A hopeless sortie 
A ghostly bivouac Separation of families Days and nights 

of suspense and anxiety Nothing to eat, ..... 263 

VIII. The death roll Fatalities of the fire How brave men met their 
death A fatal leap A neighborhood swallowed up by flames 
Scene at the morgue. ......... 270 

IX. The desolation completed The day after the fire A glimpse at 

the feeling in the country A view at daybreak Chicago's ghost, 277 

X. The losses by the fire Property destroyed Can land burn up? 
Values of business blocks, hotels, and other prominent build- 
ings Produce and merchandise destroyed Real estate as affected 
by the fire Uninsurable losses Commerce and manufactures 
The effect on business The grand total, ..... 285 

XT. Insurance The fire underwriters Better than expected The 
adjusters Statement of assets and losses of companies doing busi- 
ness in Chicago Insolvent companies What is essential to real 
protection against loss by fire, 304 

XII. What was left The city not ruined Mistaken advice A state- 
ment of profit and loss Comparison of 1868 with 1871 The dis- 
aster equivalent to a destruction of three years' growth. . . 315 



XIII. The business outlook The first two days after the fire Pre- 
paring to resume Extraordinary calmness under suffering Work- 
ing with a will The newspapers Meeting of bankers and busi- 
ness men Cheering news from insurance companies, . . .319 

XIV. Aid from the State Much sympathy and great expectations 
The Governor's message The canal lien assumed by the State 
The new Custom-house and Post-office The old land-marks to be 
renewed, .'. . 325 

XV. The resurrection Business on its feet again The course pur- 
sued by the banks A plethora of money The Board of Trade, 
and produce movement Mercantile indebtedness Action of East- 
ern creditors Strength of Chicago's business men Retail dealers 

in council, ........... 329 

XVI. Reconstruction Business on the lake-front Wooden and brick 
structures Loss of time Old customers and new friends Rail- 
road earnings Price of lumber The fire limits How shall the 
city be rebuilt? N . . . .336 

XVII. The losses again Particular cases Noted buildings destroyed 
The Germans How the millionaires came out Not a vestige of 
a law library left Art and literary treasures despoiled Who lost 
and who gained by the fire, , 340 

XVIII. Incidents and curiosities Oases in the desert A dwelling 
saved with cider Thrilling scene in the tunnel How the heat 
burnt up iron columns and left butter unmelted The man at the 
crib Human nature Good and bad phases Drawing the long 
bow, , 348 

XIX. Remarkable revelation Scripture for the occasion Married 
in the smoke of the flames How Robert Collyer and his people 
fought for their church Grandmother's rocking-chair How a 
coal-dealer saved his pile Fire as a curative agency More about 

the degree of heat Ihe divorce business, etc., .... 358 

XX. Why she was destroyed Origin of the fire Why it spread so 
fast and far Was there incendiarism ? The Communist story 
Chicago architecture Chicago administration Operations of the 
Fire Department, 366 

XXI. The newspapers and the fire What they said on Sunday morn- 
ing, October 8 Prophecies suddenly fulfilled "Old and tried" 
insurance companies tried too much The episode in the Tribune 
office A "red-hot" newspaper Cheery counsel in trouble How 
the journals rose from their ashes Curiosities of advertising, . 374 

XXII. A week without water A day of chaos The exodus from the 
city No water Nights of terror Fear of incendiarism The citi- 
zen patrol Stories of summary vengeance Military law Halt! 

The relic business Restoration of water and confidence, . 388 
XXIIL The churches after the fire The next Sunday Assembling 
under the ruined walls Robert Collyer's adventures Trying to 
save Unity Lessons of hope and courage, ..... 400 
XXIV. Sympathy and relief How the world was shocked by the 
event The excitement in America Nothing like it since the war 
Showers of money and avalanches of goods for the sufferers 



Scenes and deeds in New York, Boston, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Lon- 
don, and other cities, - 408 

XXV. Administration of relief Gathering in the homeless Scenes 
in the churches Caring for the sick The "Relief and Aid So- 
ciety" Plan of its work History of its operations Board and 
lodging for 60,00011,000 houses built and furnished for $110 
each in two months, ......... 421 

XXVI. Humors of the fire Enjoying a bonfire of one's valuables 
How a lap-dog was saved Burning up the freedom of the Ne- 
groes "Billy, propose a resolution" The first conundrum of the 
new era The calamitous cow No confidence in Chicago as a 
ruin The pathetic ballad of Eva Boston, etc., .... 434 

XXVII. Good out of evil Some wholesome effects of adversity 
Business faults corrected Aristocracy scotched out How fire 
purifies How individuals may attain improvement How the body 
politic How humanity The sublimest spectacle of the century, 445 

XXVIII. The new Chicago Five years hence Why Chicago will 
keep marching on Rate of recuperation Railroads and traffic 
Changes in the appearance of the city Harbor and river Things 
which will not be improved Population in 1876, . . . 454 

Appendix A, . . . . . . . . . ... 463 

Appendix B, 495 

Appendix C, ........... 510 

Appendix D, .. 525 


1. Map of Chicago. 

2. Chicago in 1820. 

3. Chicago in 1833. 

4. Chicago in flames. 

5. Chicago in ruins. 

6. Masonic Temple in ruins. 

7. St James Hotel 

8. Tribune Building. 

9. Chamber of Commerce, before 

the fire. 

10. Chamber of Commerce, after the 


11. Post-office and Custom-house. 

12. Where the fire begun. 

13. First National Bank, before the 


14. First National Bank, after the fire. 

15. Rush Medical College. 

16. Fifth National Bank. 

17. Bigelow House. 

18. Pacific Hotel. 

19. N. E. Cor. Clark and Randolph. 

20. Tremont House. 

21. Lasalle-street Tunnel. 

22. Michigan Southern R. R. Depot. 

23. Insurance Block. 

24. Cor. Clark and Randolph Streets. 

25. Jackson Street. 

26. Field & Leiter's Store. 

27. Cor. Lasalle and Washington Sts. 

28. New Honore Block. 

29. St. James Church. 

30. Church of the Holy Name. 

31. First Presbyterian Church, south 


32. Second Presbyterian Church. 

33. Methodist Church Block. 

34. New England Church, Congrega- 


35. St. Joseph's Priory, German 


36. Trinity Church, Mr. Collyer'g. 


FT1HE terrible conflagration in Chicago will long be remem- 
bered as one of the most prominent events of the nine- 
teenth century. In the evening of Sunday, October 8, 1871, 
a stable took fire, and within twenty-four hours thereafter the 
flames had swept over an area of more than twenty-one hun- 
dred acres, destroying nearly three hundred human lives, re- 
ducing seventeen thousand five hundred buildings to ashes, 
rendering one hundred thousand persons homeless, and sweep- 
ing out of existence two hundred million dollars' worth of 
property. Without a peer in her almost magical growth to 
what seemed to be an enduring prosperity, the city of Chicago 
experienced a catastrophe almost equally without a parallel in 
history, and the sad event awakened into active sympathy the 
whole civilized world. 

Such intense anxiety to catch every item of intelligence about 
the great conflagration, such a spontaneous outburst of liber- 
ality in aiding the sufferers, has never before been exhibited, 
except in times of national disaster. And, indeed, the calam- 
ity was universally recognized as affecting every one, not only 


in the United States, but in other countries. As the greatest 
primary market for produce on the face of the globe, Chicago 
had long been regarded as the cornucopia of modern civiliza- 
tion, while the energy and enterprise of her citizens had made 
her an object of envy to many other cities, and the wonder of 
the world. Her fame had spread far and near, and not even 
Solomon, in all his glory, ever excited so much admiration 
among those who went to see and found that the half had not 
been told them. 

The present volume is intended to supply the wide-spread 
popular desire to obtain full and accurate information, in per- 
manent form, about Chicago in her prosperity and affliction. 
It contains a concise resume of her previous history; a state- 
ment of her condition just before the fire; a graphic account 
of the great conflagration; a carefully-revised summary of losses 
of life and property ; a description of the aspect of the city after 
the sad event; a history of the exertions made to aid the suffer- 
ers; with a review of the subsequent efforts made to rebuild 
the city 'mid the ashes of its former greatness. 



H 1C AGO is situated on the south-western bend of Lake 
Michigan, at the head of the great chain of American lakes, 
and is nearly 600 feet above the sea-level, the height of the 
lake-surface being 574 feet. What is now the business portion 
of the city was originally but a few inches above the lake-level, 
and the surface was often covered with several inches of water 
for months together. It is only within the past few years that 
the place has been raised from seven to ten feet by the process 
of filling in, so as to give a drainage that permits of the clean- 
liness that is necessary to the health of the inhabitants. The 
average annual fall of rain is 31f inches; the average tempera- 
ture is about 50 degrees. The Court-house square, which is sit- 
uaied about midway between the north and south limits of the 
city, and half a mile west of the lake-shore, is in north latitude 
41 52' 20". The longitude west from Greenwich is 5h. 50m. 
28s. (87 370, and oh - 42m - 17s - west from Washington. The 
city is surrounded by what is, relatively, almost a dead-level; 
the prairie stretching away to a distance of several hundred 
miles south, west, and north, with scarcely an undulation of im- 

With such conditions it is evident that the term " Chicago 



River," abont which the world has heard so much, is a mis- 
nomer. Within the city limits the western shore of the lake 
runs nearly due north and south, trending about two points to 
the west of north. One-eighth of a mile north of the Court- 
house line a bayou strikes westward to the distance of five- 
eighths of a mile, then divides into two branches, both of which 
run nearly parallel with the lake-shore for a considerable dis- 
tance. Near the end of the south branch a canal commence?, 
which extends to the Illinois River at Lasalle, a distance of 
ninety-six: miles. This canal has recently been deepened, so 
that the waters of the lake flow slowly along the "river" and 
the canal, into the Illinois River, and thence into the Missis- 
sippi. If the bayou at Chicago were a "river," it would fur- 
nish an instance of that wonderful phenomenon, " water run- 
ning up hill." The current flows at the rate of about one mile 
per hour. 

The banks of this river and its branches have furnished the 
dockage of Chicago, and, at the time of the great catastrophe, 
all the available space was so fully occupied that large systems 
of additional docks were being constructed along the lake-shore, 
outside what was usually known as the " harbor." 

In the geographical and topographical position of Chicago, 
as above sketched, we have the key to the wonderful commer- 
cial prominence which she attained in such a short time, that 
some of those whose all was swept away in the conflagration 
of October, 1871, were among the earliest settlers in the village 
that afterward became a mighty city. The belt of only a few 
degrees in width, that includes the highest type of civilized ad- 
vancement and the greatest energy in the development of cereal 
growth, has the city of Chicago situated nearly midway between 
its southern and northern limiting lines, and the head of the 


lake system was naturally the point at whicfc the grain and 
other produce of the great North-west should be unloaded, first 
from wagons and afterward from railroad cars and canal-boats, 
to be placed on vessels, where the wind should replace horse or 
steam as a motive power, and carry that produce forward on its 
way to supply the wants of a hungry world. The place where 
the property changed hands was also the place where it would 
change ownership, as the smaller quantities laid down there 
would need to be massed into larger amounts for the long lake- 
journey in great vessels. That fact attracted capital to the spot, 
and then another point was soon developed: The growers of 
produce would spend their money in the place where they sold 
their property, if they could there find what they wanted on as 
favorable terms as elsewhere. And thus Chicago grew, in her 
double function of receiver and forwarder of Western produce to 
the East and to Europe, and of distributor of other necessaries 
and luxuries to the tillers of the soil and the manifold indus- 
tries that clustered around them. With this came the estab- 
lishment of numerous manufactories for the supply of the wants 
both of the city and of the country beyond, and the adoption 
of many processes by which the property in transit was better 
adapted to the wants of the buyer. These built up the city on 
the foundations laid by nature. The position with respect to 
the surrounding country established the place as the natural 
depot for collection and distribution in both directions; the en- 
terprise and energy of the men who were attracted thither by 
those natural advantages did the rest. 

The result of the operation of these two sets of causes, was a 
rapidity of growth that scarcely finds a parallel in the history 
of the world. Other cities have grown as rapidly for a few 
years, but we call to mind none, either in the old world or the 


new, that has exhibited an almost uniform increase of popula- 
tion at the rate of more than ten and a half per cent, per an- 
num during thirty-five years, with an even greater augment in 
business volume and property values. That was the scale on 
which Chicago was developed, from the time of her incorpora- 
tion as a city, in 1837, till the memorable catastrophe in 1871: 
And the events of the short period that has elapsed since the 
calamity tend to show that she will exhibit as great a ratio of 
growth in the future. The history of such a wonderful progress 
can not but be of intense interest to millions of readers. 


\ OR many centuries before Chicago was visited by a white 
man, it was the home of the Red-skins, and appears to 
have been successively occupied by several Indian tribes. 
There can be no doubt that the place was a favorite rendez- 
vous for Indians, as it afforded facilities for fishing, and formed 
the terminus of a long route of canoe travel, the divide between 
the waters of the Mississippi and the Illinois River being so 
shallow as to necessitate but a very short portage. The ear- 
liest of these tribes of which we have any record was the Tama- 
roas, the most powerful of many Illinois families, and who 
claimed the name Checaqua as that of a long succession of 
their chiefs, just as Pharaoh was the name of many successive 
Egyptian kings. 

The first white men known to have visited the region were 
Marquette and Joliet, two Jesuit missionaries, who were there 
in 1662-3, only three or four years before the great fire that 


laid in ashes two-thirds of the city of London, England. It 
was subsequently visited by two other French explorers, Hen- 
nepin and La Salle. The first geographical notice of the place 
is found in a map, dated Quebec, Canada, 1688, on which 
" Fort Checagou " occupies the exact location of the present 
city, and the form of Lake Michigan is represented quite cor- 
rectly. In an atlas, published in '1696, by Le Sieur Sanson, 
" Geographer to the King ," we find the whole Mississippi 
River, from its origin to the Gulf of Mexico, is named Chaca- 
qua. In other old works it is called the " Chacaqua or Divine 
River." A manuscript, purporting to have been written in 
1726 by M. de Ligny, at Green Bay, and brought from France 
by General Cass, mentions the place as Chicagoux; and that 
name is found to occur several times in the official correspond- 
ence of the earlier years of the present century. 

The name " Chicago " has been variously interpreted to 
mean "Skunk," or Pole-cat, an animal supposed to have 
abounded there, and "Wild Onion," after the herb which is 
known to have grown profusely on the banks of the creek. 
But the above historical facts tend to prove that the word 
had a much nobler meaning; added to which, we know that 
the word Checaque was used as the name of thunder, or the 
voice of the Great Manitou. It has been suggested, however, 
that all of the above intentions may be harmonized, if we 
attach to the name the meaning of "strong," as it is well 
known that the Indian speech contained many more of these 
incongruous congruities than are to be found in the languages 
of the present day. 

The Indians retained undisturbed possession of the site long 
after the whites had began to settle in the West. That settle- 
ment was principally made from the Southern States Virginia 


and Kentucky -from the eastward, and by the French from 
the south, up the Mississippi. Hence the southern part of the 
present State of Illinois contained a considerable white popula- 
tion, while the wolf and the Red man only disputed with each 
other possession of all north of the State capital (Springfield), 
except in the little patch of ground occupied by the United States 
at the entrance of the Chicago harbor. Illinois was first or- 
ganized as a county of Virginia in 1778, and was made a 
separate territory in 1809, but the territorial lines did not 
include Chicago ; the northern boundary running due west from 
the southern extremity of Lake Michigan to the Mississippi. 
In 1815, Hon. Nathaniel Pope, just elected to represent 
the territory in Congress, procured the passage of an act ex- 
tending the northern line of the territory to 42 degrees of 
latitude, thus giving to the State a most valuable line of lake 
frontage, which now contains the three harbors of Chicago, 
Calumet, and "VVaukegan. The territory was elevated to the 
dignity of a State in 1818, the capital being Kaskaskia. 
Shadrach Bond, of that city, was elected as the first governor, 
in October of the same year. 

The influx of settlers from the south was now quite rapid, 
but the immediate effect of the movement was to cause the 
different tribes of Illinois Indians to crowd northward, and 
make the site of Chicago alive with red-skins, who clung all 
the more pertinaciously to the soil, as the finger of fate point- 
ed to their removal farther west at no distant day. The 
business of trading for furs became an important one, and 
traders gathered in the vicinity to purchase their stocks and 
send them eastward. This traffic was first established about the 
beginning of the present century, and marked a prominent 
phase in the history of the location. 



ri^HE year following his first visit to Chicago, Pere Mar- 
-*- quette returned, and erected a building for the purposes 
of worship. The French subsequently formed a plan to extend 
their possessions from Canada, along the Mississippi Valley, to 
New Orleans, and thence to sweep the continent eastward. 
They seem to have built a fort at Chicago, as a link in their 
great chain of domination. Canada was transferred to England 
by the victories of Wolfe in* 1759, and the fort was then aban- 
doned. After the close of the war of ihe Revolution the In- 
dians became very troublesome, owing to British intrigue, and 
only after having been effectively chastised by General Wayne 
did they consent to a treaty of peace, in 1795, the chiefs of 
many tribes assembling at Greenville, Ohio, to sign the com- 
pact. Among the articles signed we find one recording the 
first land-sale in Chicago, and furnishing the only clue we have 
to the first erection of the fort by the French. The Indians 
ceded to the United States " one piece of land, six miles square, 
at the mouth of the Chekajo River, emptying into the south- 
west end of Lake Michigan, where a fort formerly stood." 

It has been facetiously remarked that the first white man 
who became a resident of Chicago was a negro. This first 
amendment to the copper color (whose race has since risen to 
the dignity of the fifteenth degree) settled there in 1796. His 
name was Jean Baptiste Point au- Sable. He built a rude cabin 
on the north bank of the main "river," and laid claim to a tract 
of land surrounding it. He disappeared from the scene, and 
his claim was "jumped" by a Frenchman named Le Mai, who 


commenced trading with the Indians. A few years later he 
sold out to John Kinzie, who was then an Indian trader in the 
country about St. Joseph, Michigan, nearly opposite Chicago, 
on the eastern shore of the lake. Mr. Kinzie was an agent of 
the American Fur Company. They had traded at Chicago with 
the Indians for some time, and this fact had probably more than 
any other to do with the determination of the Government to 
establish a fort there. The Indians were growing numerous in 
that region, being attracted by the facilities for selling their 
wares, as well as being pressed northward by the tide of emi- 
gration setting in from the south. It was judged necessary to 
have some force near that point to keep them in check, as well 
as to protect the trading interest. Louisiana was purchased 
from the French in 180.3, giving to the United States the con- 
trol of the entire Mississippi Valley. In 1804 a fort was built 
by the Government, named "Fort Dearborn," in honor of a 
general of that name, and garrisoned with about fifty men and 
three pieces of artillery. Mr. Kinzie removed his family to 
the place the same year, and improved the Jean Baptiste cabin 
into a tasteful dwelling. His son, John H., but a few months 
old at the time of the removal, subsequently became one of the 
most prominent men of the city. 

For about eight years things rolled along smoothly. The 
garrison was quiet, and the traders were prosperous, the num- 
ber of the latter having been considerably increased. Then the 
United States became involved in trouble with Great Britain, 
which finally broke out into the war-flame. The Indians took 
the war-path long before the declaration of hostilities between 
the two civilized nations. On the 7th of April, 1812, they 
made an attack on one of the outlying houses, and killed and 
soalped the only maid resident, then descended toward the fort, 


but refrained from making an attack, finding that the soldiers 
were ready to give them a warm reception. For some months 
they continued to harass and rob the outside settlers. The 
Government finally decided to abandon the fort, as it was too 
remote from headquarters to be successfully maintained in a 
hostile country. On the 7th of August, 1812, Captain Heald, 
the commander, received orders to evacuate the fort, if prac- 
ticable ; and, in th'at event, to distribute all the United States 
property among the Indians in the neighborhood. He hesitated 
for five days, knowing that a special order had been issued by 
the War Department to the effect that no fort should be surren- 
dered "without battle having been given." He then reluc- 
tantly decided to comply, as his little force of seventy-five men 
was evidently unable to cope with the Indians. 

On the 12th instant the Indians assembled in council, and 
Captain Heald informed them that he would distribute among 
them, on the next day, all the ammunition and provisions, as 
well as the other goods lodged in the United States factory, on 
condition that the Pottawatomies would furnish a safe escort 
for him and his command to Fort Wayne, where they should 
receive a further liberal reward. The Indians acceded to these 
terms, but Mr. Kinzie, who had learned the treachery of Indian 
character by long experience, afterward prevailed on Captain 
Heald to destroy all the liquor and the ammunition not needed 
by the troops on the journey. 

The next day the blankets, calicoes, and provisions were dis- 
tributed as agreed upon, and in the evening the liquors were 
thrown into the water, with all the ammunition, except twenty- 
five rounds, and one box of cartridges. They also broke up all 
the spare muskets and gun-fixtures, and threw them into the well. 
60 much liquor was thrown into the river that the Indians 


drank largely of the water, saying that it was almost as good 
as " grog." 

The next morning Captain Wells, a relative of Captain 
Heald, arrived from Fort Wayne with fifteen friendly Miamis. 
In the afternoon another council was held, at which the Potta- 
watomies professed to be highly indignant at the destruction 
of the whisky and ammunition, and made numerous threats, 
which plainly showed their murderous intention, only too well 
carried out on the ensuing day. On the morning of the 15th 
(August, 1812), the troops left the fort. Mrs. Kinzie, with her 
family of four children, two domestics, and two Indians, took a 
boat, intending to cross the lake to St. Joseph, but remained at 
the mouth of the harbor during the subsequent carnage, then 
returned to their home. The military party went southward, 
intending to march round the head of the lake. They had only 
proceeded about a mile and a half, when they were attacked by 
a party of Indians, who were concealed by a sand-ridge, whom 
they charged and dislodged from the position ; but the Indians 
were so numerous that a party of them were able to outflank 
the soldiers, and take the horses and baggage. A severe fight 
followed, in which the number of the soldiers was reduced to 
twenty-eight; and during that action a young savage toma- 
hawked the entire party of twelve children, who were in the 
baggage- wagon. Captain Heald then withdrew his troops, and 
a parley ensued, the consequence of which was that the troops 
surrendered, on condition that their lives should be spared, and 
were marched back to the fort, which was plundered and burned 
the next day. Mr. Kinzie did duty as surgeon, extracting the 
bullets with his pen-knife. 

Accounts vary somewhat as to whether the Indians kept faith 
in their agreement, some charging that they massacred the chil- 


dren and some of the \vomen after the surrender. We believe 
the facts to have been as above stated. The total number of 
killed was fifty-two, which included twenty-six soldiers, twelve 
militiamen, two women, and twelve children. The prisoners 
were ransomed some time afterward, the Kinzie family being 
taken across the lake to St. Joseph and thence to Detroit, a 
few days after the massacre. 


FOR four years the place was deserted by all save the In- 
dians. Even the fur-traders did not care to visit* the 
scene of so much disaster, and Chicago seemed to have been 
remanded into aboriginal darkness. In 1816, the fort was 
rebuilt, under the direction of Captain Bradley, and was 
thereafter occupied continuously by United States troops for 
twenty-one years, except for a short time in 1831. In 1837, 
it was abandoned, as the Indians had been removed far'to the 
westward. The fort stood, however, till 1856, when the old 
block -house was demolished. Its position was on the south bank 
of the river, just east of the place where Rush Street Bridge 
was afterward built. One old building, however, remained, 
almost rotten with age, till the great conflagration swept it 
away, as the last relic of military rule. It was a small wooden 
structure that had formed a part of the officers' quarters, and 
stood almost in the apex of the sharp corner formed by the 
meeting of Michigan Avenue with River Street. 

But the rebuilding of the fort failed to re-establish the 
entente cordiate that had existed between the Indians and 


whites previous to the spring of 1812. Mr. Kinziedid not re- 
turn till some time after the fort was reconstructed. Gurdon 
S. Hubbard, Esq., who is still a resident of Chicago at the 
date cf this writing, visited the place in 1818, as agent of tho 
American Fur Company, of which John Jacob Astor was 
then president. He came in a small schooner, which was sent 
there once a year with provisions for the garrison. On his 
arrival he found only two families on the site of the future city, 
outside the fort. John Kinzie lived on the north side of the 
river, nearly on the line of Michigan Avenue; and Antoine 
Oulimette, a French trader, who had married an Indian woman, 
resided on the same side, about two blocks further west. J. B. 
Beaubien arrived about the same time. In 1823, one more 
white resident appeared on the scene, Archibald Clybourne, 
who established himself about three miles from the fort, on the 
north branch. In 1827, he built a slaughter-house and entered 
into business as butcher for the fort. He has resided in Chicago 
ever since then, and was alive very recently. In the same year 
the place was visited by Major Long, on a Government explor- 
ing expedition, who drew a sorry picture of the place, which 
then only contained three families, all occupying log cabins. 
He said, in his subsequent report, that Chicago presented no 
cheering prospects, and contained but a few huts, " inhabit- 
ed by a miserable race of men, scarcely equal to the In- 
dians from whom they had descended," while their houses were 
"low, filthy, and disgusting, displaying not the least trace of 
comfort." His opinion of the site as a place for business was 
equally poor. He spoke of it as " affording no inducements to 
the settler, the whole amount of trade on the lake not exceeding 
the cargoes of five or six schooners, even at the time when 
the garrison received its supplies from the Mackiuao," How 


wonderfully the aspect of the place changed, within half a cen- 
tury from the time of Major Long's visit, has been written 
with a pen of iron the record graven so deeply, that not even 
the great conflagration could efface it. 


project to connect the Mississippi River with Lake 
-- Michigan, by a canal from the lake to the Illinois River, 
was the real cause of the up-growth of Chicago. The com- 
mercial advantages of the site as the terminus of that avenue 
of water communication, first attracted attention to Chicago, 
and led to the gathering of a most important community long 
before the canal was completed, or even begun. The measure 
was first agitated as a needed means of connection between 
the southern part of the State and the Atlantic Ocean, much 
shorter than that afforded by the Mississippi a secondary 
consideration being the great value of a ship canal, connecting 
the two great water-courses of the continent, in case of another 
war with a European power. That measure, designed f<3r the 
benefit of the south, then the only settled part of the State, 
has resulted in attracting to the northern portion a tide of 
emigration, and an abundance of capital, that has thrown the 
southern counties into a comparative shade, though ministering 
largely to their development. 

The canal project was agitated as early as the year 1814, 
the measure being urged in the presidential message to the 
Thirty-seventh Congress, and reported on by the military com- 


mittee, and the select committee on the deepening the great 
lakes and rivers, the latter body styling it " the great work of 
the age" for military and commercial purposes. Governor 
Bond, of Illinois, pressed it upon the attention of the Legisla- 
ture, in the very first gubernatorial message ever delivered in 
the State in 1818. His successor, Governor Coles, also urged 
its importance in 1822 ; and an act was passed in February (14) 
1823, appointing a Board of Inspectors, who made a tour of 
inspection in the year following. On the 30th of March, 
1822, Congress had passed an act, by which the State was 
authorized to make the survey through the public lands, and 
reserving ninety feet on each side of the canal from any sale 
made by the United States. It was conditioned, however, 
that if the State did not survey, and within three years direct 
the canal to be opened, or if the canal should not be completed 
within twelve years, that the grant should be void. The com- 
missioners surveyed five routes, and made estimates of the 
cost of the work; the highest was $716,610. 

On the 13th of January, 1825, the Legislature passed an 
act incorporating the Illinois and Michigan Canal Company, 
with a capital of one million dollars, but no one was found 
willing to take the stock, and the charter was subsequently re- 
pealed. The matter was again taken up by Congress, princi- 
pally through the exertion of Hon. Daniel P. Cook, from whom 
was afterward named the county in which Chicago is situated. 
Congress granted to the State every alternate section in a belt 
of land six miles wide on each side of the proposed canal, pro- 
vided that the work should be commenced within five years, 
and completed within twenty years; otherwise the State should 
pay to the United States all the money received for lands 
previously sold. On the 22d of January, 1829, the State pass- 


ed an act providing for the appointment of commissioners to 
adopt such measures as might be required to effect the required 
communication between the river and the lake. These com- 
missioners were directed to select the State lands, and to sell 
them where they thought proper to do so, and to lay off cer- 
tain parts into town lots. This was the commencement of the 
system of land grants, which has since been so extensively 
adopted in the United States, and upon this action was laid the 
foundation of the future city of Chicago. 


"TTNDER the direction of the commissioners, James Thomp- 
^^ son proceeded, in 1829, to Chicago, which then consisted 
only of Fort Dearborn. Jle made a survey of the site, and 
the first map of the city was prepared by him ; it bears date 
August 4, 1830. 

The canal was not commenced till 1836, and the year 1848 
had arrived before it was completed, and then on a much in- 
ferior plan to that at first proposed, but the effect was wonder- 
ful. The benefits of the measure were long antedated by the 
enterprising people, who saw that the completion of the work 
would establish a mighty commercial depot at the head of Lake 
Michigan ; indeed, they, and those who came after them, have 
always been noted for the rapidity with which they could dis- 
count the advantages of an event long before its occurrence, i 
As only one out of many instances of this, we may here note 
the fact that the expected greater demand for breadstuffs dur- 
ing the war between France and Germany, in 1870, caused her 


grain-markets to touch a much higher point before the declara- 
tion of war than at any time after the event, and the price of 
wheat in Chicago actually fell almost steadily during the entire 
time that the war was in progress. So with the canal. The 
place had grown to the dimensions of a city before the fir&t 
sod was turned, and fell into the slough of despond long before 
it was finished. But we anticipate. 

The tide of emigration had set westward, to a limited extent, 
during the agitation of the canal measure, but the settlement 
of the West was retarded by the hostility of the Indians, who 
were particularly restless in 1828, murdering several emigrants 
and menacing the fort with destruction. A large military force, 
under General Atkinson, restored order. The country was fill- 
ing up to the westward, as the fertility of the rich prairies be- 
came known to the people of the East and of Europe. But 
the site of Chicago was still as barren and uninviting as when 
visited by Major Long in 1823. Niar the fort, and again near 
the junction .of the two branches with the main river, the land 
was relatively high ; but between those points, and all around, 
was a low, wet prairie, only a few inches above the lake-level, 
and subject to inundation with every shower. An early writer 
says that it "scarcely afforded good walking in the driest sum- 
mer weather, while at other seasons it was absolutely impassa- 
ble." Another, who visited Chicago at even a later date, tells 
how he passed over the ground from the fort to the junction 
of th? river with its branches, on horseback, and was up to the 
stir/ups ip water the whole distance. He said: "I would not 
hare given sixpence an acre for the whole of it." For a long 
time the usual mode of communication between these two points 
was by canoe, the "road" being too marshy for traveling. 

Of course such a site was barren of agricultural promise, and 


required strong faith in its commercial future to tempt the set- 
tler to brave the poverty and malarial sickness that threatened 
to starve him out while waiting for the realization of his hopes. 
It is no wonder that, in 1829, when Surveyor Thompson began 
his labors, he found only seven families there, outside the fort. 
TVo of these, Mr. Kinzie and his brother-in-law, Dr. Wolcott, 
the Indian agent, lived on the north side of the river; John 
Beaubien lived on the south side, near the fort, and John Mil- 
ler kept a log tavern near the fork, besides which three or four 
Indian traders, whose names have not been preserved, lived in 
what is now the West Division. Mr. Hubbard was not then a 
resident; he was frequently there for several weeks at a time, 
but did not locate permanently till 1833. 

The first map of the future city (August 4, 1830) only em- 
braced an area of about three-eighths of a square mile, the 
boundaries being Madison, Desplaines, Kinzie, and State Streets. 
The ground east of State, since known as the Fort Dearborn 
Addition to Chicago, was a Government reservation. 

The next step in the work of preparation for future occupancy, 
was the organization of Cook County, March 4, 1831, the limits 
of which included the whole tract now comprising the counties 
of Cook, Dupage, Lake, McHenry, Will, and Iroquois. Chi- 
cago is nearly midway on the eastern border of the present 
county. Two companies of troops then occupied the fort. In 
this year the number of male citizen residents had increased to 
fifteen, including the Government blacksmith, and Billy Cald- 
well, the Indian chief, who acted as interpreter for the agency. 
Not less than three of these kept tavern. Among the new 
arrivals, those who subsequently figured prominently in the 
history of the city, were George W. Dole, merchant; R. A. Kin- 
zie, merchant; P. F. W. Peck, merchant; Dr. Harmon, land 


speculator, and Mark Beaubien, tavern-keeper. Besides these, 
Russell E. Heacock resided three or four miles up the south 
branch of the river, and Archibald Clybourne on the north 

In this year (1831) emigration set in so vigorously that by 
midsummer all the available buildings in the city were crowded 
with families, and several were obliged to seek accommodations 
at the fort, though many of those arriving intended to proceed 
further west. So great was the pressure that the infant Court 
of County Commissioners felt called upon to legislate for the 
protection of travelers, and ordered that tavern-keepers should 
only charge twenty-five cents for each half pint of wine, rum, 
or brandy ; twelve and a half cents for half a pint of whisky ; 
twelve and a half cents for o"ne night's lodging, and twenty- 
five cents for breakfast or supper. No less than four additional 
taverns were opened that year; licenses were granted to three 
persons to practice as merchants, and James A. Kinzie was pro- 
moted to the dignity of auctioneer. His first official act was to 
sell, in July, a portion of the ten acres previously deeded to 
the county of Cook, of which the present Court-house square 
is a part. He received a county order for $14.53f in payment 
for his services. 

In the latter part of September, 1831, about four thousand 
Indians assembled in Chicago to receive the Government an- 
nuity, which was paid by Colonel T. J. V. Owen. The terror 
of the residents at the scenes of drunkenness and debauchery 
that followed the payment, was deepened by the rumor that a 
deputation of Sauks and Foxes, belonging to the band of the 
notorious Black Hawk, was present, endeavoring to unite the 
Ottawas, Pottawatomies, and Chippewas, to join in an invasion 
of the Rock River country and drive out the white settlers. 


Their design was thwarted by the chief, Billy Caldwell, who 
used all his influence in favor of peace. 

The lake commerce of 1831 was quite large, not less than 
three vessels arriving during the year, one of which came to 
carry away the troops to Green Bay. The others were the Tel - 
egraph, from Ashtabula, Ohio, and the Marengo, from Detroit; 
the former brought a stock of goods, as well as many emigrants. 

The fort had been vacated by the soldiers in June, leaving it 
free for occupancy by the emigrants, of whom about four hun- 
dred took up their quarters there in September. Most of these 
stayed there through the winter, which was a long one, and so 
bitterly cold that most of the other residents of the place also 
took refuge in the fort, for the double purpose of companion- 
ship and protection the latter not more from the Indians than 
from the prairie-wolves, which were very numerous. The only 
communication they had with the outside world was effected by 
a half-breed Indian, who visited Niles, Michigan, once in two 
weeks, on foot, and brought in whatever papers he could pro- 
cure there were few letters in those days. The long winter 
evenings were "improved" by a debating society, occasional 
dances, and a weekly religious meeting, on the Methodist plan. 
It is noteworthy that in 1831 the first ferry was established 
across the river there were then no bridges. Mark Beaubien 
filed a bond of 200 to carry all citizens of Cook County across 
the river free, on condition that he should be permitted to take 
toll from those not resident in the county. 

Early in 1832, Chicago was startled by the intelligence that 
Black Hawk, with a party of five hundred braves, was ad- 
vancing on the settlements on Rock River. Soon thereafter, 
people came flocking in from that district to seek refuge, 
their houses having been fired, and their stock taken by the 



Indians. By the middle of May there were fully seven hun- 
dred people in the fort, two thirds of whom were women and 
children, many of the men having driven their stock farther 
south, in search of a more favorable location. A " council " 
was now called, at which the Indians at first seemed anxious 
to join the marauders, but finally consented to send out one 
hundred braves against them, if desired. 

In May a force of twenty-five men was organized at the 
fort, under command of Captain J. B. Brown, to scour the 
country. They were joined by a force of three thousand mili- 
tia, and a detachment of regular troops from Rock Island, un- 
der command of General Atkinson. The Indians were finally 
routed, and Black Hawk delivered up a prisoner of war, on 
the twenty-seventh of August, 1832. In September, a treaty 
was concluded at Fort Armstrong (Rock Island), by which the 
Indians agreed to remove west of the Missouri, on condition 
that they should receive an annuity, and that a reservation 
of forty miles square should be set off to Keokuk, their prin- 
cipal chief. /.^ .,, 

General Winfield A. Scott was ordered to proceed to the 
West, to take part in the Black Hawk war. The cholera at- 
tacked the soldiers on the lake, and so many were prostrated 
that a large number were landed at Fort Gratiot, now Port 
Huron. The remainder proceeded to Chicago, where they 
communicated the infection both to the garrison and the peo- 
ple outside. The war was ended by the volunteers before 
General Scott could take part in the conflict, but he carried 
back with him such glowing accounts of the place that general 
attention was attracted to it, and, chiefly through his recom- 
mendation, Congress subsequently made the first appropriation 
for the improvement of the harbor. 


The autumn of this year, 1832, witnessed the commence- 
ment of the packing trade in Chicago. Mr. Dole erected the 
first frame building, and immediately afterward began the 
slaughtering of two hundred cattle, which he had bought on 
the Wabash River, at two and three-quarter cents per pound 
The same winter he slaughtered three hundred and fifty hogs, 
for which he had given three cents per pound, live weight. 
This was the beginning of a business, for which Chicago after- 
ward became as famous as for her grain and lumber trade. 
She surpassed Cincinnati in the total exhibit of hogs slaugh- 
tered, in the winter of 1862-3, and up to the time of the 
great catastrophe had steadily kept in the advance of that 
city, wresting from her, and retaining, the right to be called 
the world's Porkopolis. 

The year 1832 was marked by a considerable increase in the 
population and importance of the city. Among the new 
citizens who afterward became prominent, were Dr. Kiinberly, 
Philo Carpenter, J. S. Wright, G. W. Snow, and Dr. Max- 
well. South Water Street was formally extended to the lake, 
across Government property, from State Street eastward, and a 
road was surveyed to give communication with the southern 
part of the State. The first Sunday-school was organized in 
August, by Philo Carpenter and Captain Johnson, with thir- 
teen children ; and Rev. Jesse . Walker, a missionary of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, built a log hut west of the fort, 
for divine worship. This place was called " Wolf Point," and 
an intense rivalry sprung up, about this time, between the 
dwellers there and those in the vicinity of the fort. The 
good people never dreamed, at that epoch, that the population 
of Chicago would be more than enough to make up a respect- 
able sized village, and each place was anxious to become 


the site of that village, when it should have attained to the 
dwarfish growth which was the utmost limit of their expecta- 

Of course there was then no Court-house. The sessions of 
the County Commissioners, and of the Circuit Court, were 
generally held in the fort. The first building erected on the 
public square was an estray pen, put up in 1832, on the south- 
western corner, at a total cost -of twelve dollars. It is inter- 
esting to note that the total tax list of the entire county was 
returned by th sheriff this year at $148.29, of which amount 
$10.50 was uncollectable. The treasurer's report for the year 
ending April 25, 1832, shows the receipt of $225.50 for 
licenses, and a balance in hand of $15.93. But though poor, 
the county was not in debt ; those were happy days compared 
with the present, when the great calamity has piled up an 
enormous loss on the top of a city debt of fourteen and a half 
millions of dollars. 

The next year, 1833, the place grew apace. An appropria- 
tion of thirty thousand dollars was made by Congress for the 
improvement of the harbor, and work was at once commenced 
At that time the main channel was narrower than now, and 
instead of running in an almost straight line into the lake, it 
turned short to the southward, round the fort, to a point near 
the present foot of Madison Street, and there connected with 
the lake over a bar of sand and gravel, the water on which was 
about fifteen yards wide, and only a few inches in depth. 
Vessels arriving at the port were obliged to anchor outside, and 
discharge or take on cargo by the aid of boats. A channel 
was cut through the bank, running straight out into the lake, 
an embankment formed to cut off the water from the former 
channel, a pier run out to a short distance on the north side of 


the new mouth, and a light-house built to mark the entrance 
to the new-formed harbor. In the following spring, a great 
freshet washed out more sand from the channel than had 
been removed by the dredges, but at the same time it swept 
away some six hundred feet of piling that had just ben 
built to protect the south shore. It was now believed thai a 
permanent harbor had been gained, which would never more 
be choked up. Subsequent experience has shown the fallacy 
of this hope, as continuous expenditures have been necessitated 
to keep open a passage for vessels. Further appropriations 
were made, of 32,800 in 1835; of $32,000 in 1836; and 
$40,000 in 1838, and work was suspended for a long time after 
the last-named sum had been exhausted. 

This was but one of the many extensions made in 1833. A 
jail was built " of logs, firmly bolted together," on the north- 
west corner of the Court-house square, which stood there for 
just twenty years, when it was superseded by the Court-house. 
The first regular postmaster was appointed, in the person of 
J. S. C. Hogan, the keeper of a variety store on South Water 
Street, though a gentleman named Bailey is reported to have 
previously officiated in that capacity. Mr. Hogan's office is 
currently reported to have been graced with a number of old 
boot-legs, nailed up against the wall, which did duty as private 
boxes for such of the citizens as were honored with the most 
extensive correspondence. This year, too, was marked by the 
establishment of nc less than three church societies. The First 
Presbyterian was organized June 26th, with a membership of 
nine citizens and twenty-five members of the garrison, by Rev. 
Jeremiah Porter, who was Chaplain of a detachment of United 
States troops that came from Green Bay early in the year. 
The First Baptist Church was organized on the 10th of Octo- 


her, with a membership of fourteen, by Rev. A. B. Freeman; 
and Rev. Mr. Schaffer commenced the erection of a Catholic 
church-edifice, which was completed the following year. The 
Methodists also held their first quarterly meeting in the au- 
tumn, with John Sinclair as Presiding Elder. 

Another memorable event of 1833 was a gathering of about 
seven thousand Pottawatomie Indians, on the 27th of Septem- 
ber, at which a most important treaty was made. The chiefs 
met the Government commissioners in council, in a large tent 
on the north side of the river, opposite the fort, and formally 
ceded to the United States all their territory in Northern Illi- 
nois and Wisconsin, amounting to about twenty millions of 
acres, for the. sum of $1,100,000. They received as first pay- 
ment about $56,000 in money, and $130,000 in goods; the 
remainder they were to receive in instalments, covering a period 
of twenty-five years. It is reported that not less than twenty 
thousand dollars' worth of the goods were stolen by the Indian 
traders during the first two nights, after the owners had been 
liberally saturated with whisky, for which they had paid out a 
large proportion of the articles furnished them. A letter from 
a traveler, who witnessed the scenes, was unearthed and pub- 
lished in the Tribune in 1869. We are sorry that the destruc- 
tion of the files of that paper in the great conflagration prevents 
us from reproducing it. The description there given of the 
disgusting revels of the red men, and the rapacity of the whites, 
was almost enough to make one lose faith in human nature. 

The great event of the year was, however, the incorporation 
of Chicago as a town. A public meeting was held August 5th, 
to decide whether the important step should be taken or not. 
A total of twelve votes were cast for the measure, and one 
against it, the negative being our old friend of the South 


Branch settlement Russell E. Heacock. An election was held 
on the 10th of the same month, at the house of Mark Beaubien, 
the original Charon of the place, who was also noted as the 
keeper of two fast horses ; and we give the following as the list 
of voters on the occasion, which probably comprised every 
legal voter in the place, except one, as Heacock resided outside ; 
about six others had arrived just previous to the election, who 
were afterward voters : E. S. Kimberly,* J. B. Beaubien, Mark 
Beaubien, T. J. V. Owen,* William Ninson, Hiram Pearsons, 
Philo Carpenter, George Chapman, John S. Wright, John T. 
Temple, Matthias Smith, David Carver, James Kinzie, Charles 
Taylor, J. S. C. Hogan, Eli A. Rider, Dexter J. Hapgood, G. 
W. Snow, Madore Beaubien,* Gholson Kercheval, G. W. Dole,* 
R. J. Hamilton, Stephen F. Gale, Enoch Darling, W. R. Adams, 
C. A. Ballard, John Watkins, James Gilbert in all twenty- 
eight votes. The four marked with a star, and John Miller, 
were elected Trustees of the Town. Mr. Owen was elected 

The following statistics of the new-born corporation will be 
of interest: 

Area of the town, about . . . . . . . 560 acres 
Number of inhabitants, . . . . . . . 550 

Number of voters, 29 

Number of buildings, 175 

Valuation of property, $60,000 00 

Valuation of taxable property, 19,560 00 

First year's taxes, 48 90 

The business of the year included the packing of 500 or 600 
head of cattle, and nearly 3,000 hogs, at the slaughter-house of 
Mr. Clybourne, of which 250 head of cattle and 1,000 hogs 
were packed by Mr. Dole. 


The first important public improvement ordered by the new 
trustees was the establishment of a second ferry across the river, 
the point chosen being at Dearborn Street. They next extended 
the limits of the town to take in an area of about seven-eighths 
of a square mile. The new boundaries were Jackson Street on 
the south, Jefferson and Cook Streets on the west, Ohio Street on 
the north, State Street on the east, from Jackson to the river, and 
the lake-shore on the north side, from the river to Ohio Street, 

Of course so important a place could not exist long without 
a newspaper, and accordingly we find that John Calhoun issued, 
on the 26th of November, 1833, the first number of the Demo- 
crat, which was also the first newspaper ever published in North- 
ern Illinois. The early files of that journal are full of inter- 
esting matter; even the advertisements speak volumes, for they 
tell of the way in which business was transacted in those days. 
There was not much done, except by way of exchange in goods 
and produce, while land bought was largely paid for in prom- 
ises. In the first number the editor strongly advocated the 
prosecution of the work on the Illinois and Michigan Canal, as 
the one great means necessary to the growth of the city. 

During the summer of 1833 not less than 160 frame houses 
were erected, and the number of stores was increased from 
five or six to 25. Among the new buildings was the Green 
Tree Tavern, by J. H. Kinzie, which was the first structure 
ever erected in the place for that purpose ; its predecessors were 
simply private residences, thrown open to the public for a con- 
sideration. Among the arrivals we find the names of S. B. 
Cobb, Walter Kimball, Star Foote, S. D. Pierce, Manoel Talcott, 
John D. Caton, Hibbard Porter, Franklin Bascom, E. H. Had- 
duck, Thomas H. Woodworth, and J. K. Botsford. 

The year 1834 witnessed the establishment of closer commer- 


cial relations with other points east and west. The second 
week in April a schooner arrived from St. Joseph, and two 
cleared for the same port. On the 30th of the same month 
the corporation organ announced that emigration had fairly set 
in, as more than hundred persons had arrived by boat and 
otherwise during the preceding ten days. On the 4th of June 
the Democrat announced that arrangements had been made by 
the proprietors of the steamboats on Lake Erie, whereby Chi- 
cago would be visited by a steamboat once a week till the 25th 
of August. On Saturday, July llth, the schooner Illinois, the 
first large vessel that ever entered the river, sailed into the har- 
bor amid great acclamations, the sand having been washed away 
by the freshet of the spring previous. In its issue of Septem- 
ber 3d, the paper stated that 150 vessels had discharged their 
cargoes at the port of Chicago since the 20th of April preced- 
ing. The total number of votes polled in the whole of Cook 
County this year was 528. The poll-list of Chicago had in- 
creased to 111, out of a population of 400, besides 200 soldiers 
in the fort. It is noteworthy that not less than 13 of the 111 
were candidates for office at the August election. 

In the spring of 1834, a stage communication was opened 
np l>et\veen Chicago and the country to the westward, by means 
of J. T. Temple's line for St. Louis. The route to Ottawa 
was piloted out by John D. Caton, who had previously been 
over the unmarked road on horseback. A bitter storm sprung 
up, and the driver was obliged to resign his post; he died 
afterward from that day's exposure to the cold. Mr. Caton, 
afterward Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State, 
took the stage through to Ottawa, where a better system of 
roads began, the first settlement of the State having been from 
the southward, as already stated. 


The autumn of this year was marked by two historical events 
of interest. About four thousand Indians assembled there in 
October, to receive thirty thousand dollars' worth of goods, as 
the first annuity paid after the treaty by which they had ceded 
their lands to the Government. The goods were distributed 
just west of the river, near the line of what is now Randolph 
Street. The scene was simply disgusting, and several of the 
Indians were killed in a drunken brawl. The other event was 
a grand hunt. A large black bear was seen on the morning 
of October 6th, in a strip of timber on the corner of Market 
and Jackson Streets, almost exactly on the spot where the 
armory was afterward built. He was shot; then the citizens 
got up a grand wolf hunt in the same neighborhood, and killed 
no less than forty of those animals before nightfall. It was 
just at this point, thirty-seven years after, almost to a day, 
that the flames leaped across the river from the West Division, 
and thence swept northward to the limits of the city. 

In this year a draw-bridge was built across the river at 
Dearborn Street; active measures were taken to prevent the 
spread of the cholera, and a committee was authorized to build 
a cholera hospital outside the town if the disease should make 
its appearance; the first Sunday liquor law was passed (Sep- 
tember 1st) ; the large sum of forty dollars was paid for repair- 
ing bridges ; and the town was divided into four wards, by an 
ordinance intended to prevent fires. Prior to this year all 
the stores were located on South Water Street; indeed, Lake 
Street, and all the streets southward of it, only existed on 
paper. In the autumn of 1834, Thomas Church erected a store 
on Lake Street, which was soon the busiest in the whole town. 
The packing statistics of the year show that Mr. Clybour le 
packed 600 cattle, and more than 3000 hogs; while Messrs. 


Newberry & Dole slaughtered some 400 cattle and 1400 hogs 
in a packing house of their own, recently built on the south 
branch. The same year Gurclon S. Hubbard packed 5000 
hogs, on the corner of Lake and Lasalle Streets. 

Among the prominent arrivals of 1834 we note the names 
of F. C. Sherman, James Grant, A. E. Webster, Thomas 
Church, Wm. Jones, and Grant Goodrich. The first water- 
works of the future city was established about this time, the 
sum of $95.50 being paid for the digging, stoning, and stone 
of a well, in Kinzie's addition, on the north side. 


year 1835 was a most remarkable one in the history 
-*- of Chicago. It was preeminently the epoch of specula- 
tion. Colonel E. D. Taylor and James Whitlock arrived in 
the spring, and opened a United States Land Office on the 1st 
of June, over Thomas Church's store on Lake Street. The 
rush was immense. They sold over half a million dollars' 
worth of property in the first six months, and the sales were 
almost as great, correspondingly, through the next year. The 
extent to which the speculative mania raged, drawing people 
from far and near, may be inferred from the fact that the first 
census of the place, a statement of which was published in the 
Democrat of November 25, 1835, shows that the town then 
contained 3265 inhabitants, and the county 9773. The popu- 
lation had been multiplied by eight in a single year. The peo-- 
pie were wild during the summer, and the records of the town 


show that the authorities were almost at their wit's ends, pass- 
ing huge ordinances, and as quickly repealing them, to meet 
the exigencies continually presented by such a rapid influx of 
people to be governed and provided for. In the winter things 
were worse. There was nothing to do but to talk of the price 
of corner lots, and this inexhaustible subject was discussed 
again and again in private houses, and in the hotels, where 
hundreds of men strutted around like conscious millionaires, 
but without the where-with-all to pay for a week's board. 
Every body grew rich on paper as the selling prices of real 
estate multiplied even more rapidly than the population. The 
whole country was aflame with magnificent schemes of internal 
improvement, in which the future canal figured only as an item. 
These schemes were not put into legal shape till a year or two 
afterward, bnt the speculators were already at work cutting 
jp the State into little chess-board squares, to be checkered by 
railroads, every one of which was to bring untold millions of 
wealth into the great commercial emporium of the North-west, 
while they and the canal should give employment to tens of 
thousand of workers. It is due to the projectors of these mag- 
nificent schemes to say that nearly every one of them has since 
been carried out. The great fault was that they wanted to go 
ahead too fast. They commenced to build before the structure 
was wanted, and by working" a quarter of a century ahead of 
their generation, brought down untold misery on the heads of 
millions in the commercial panic that swept over the whole 
land at a subsequent date. 

As the culminating point of most of these improvements, 
Chicago was the Mecca of speculators a genuine El Dora- 
do, where every one could make his fortune by simply juy- 
ing a few lots, and selling out at an advance before the ink 


had dried with which the first transfer was recorded. Hence, 
although large quantities of money were attracted hither, it 
did little good. It was all invested in lots, and most of the 
cash immediately found its way into the national treasury. 
And as all these speculators invested the whole of their " pile," 
they had nothing left wherewith to pay their way. There was 
really little inducement to invest in business, as, although the 
country to the westward was rapidly filling up, the farmers 
had not arrived at the point where they had surplus produce 
to dispose of for cash, or to exchange for goods. But the 
speculators saw that the good time was-coming, and discounted 
the situation fully fifteen years ahead. 

From June to December, the sales at the United States Land 
Office aggregated 370,043 acres, for which $505,729 was re- 
ceived, most of the property being in Chicago and its neigh- 
borhood. But these figures fail to convey even a faint idea of 
the magnitude of the land speculation. The lots were sold and 
presold, each time at a large advance on the former price, every 
body dealing, and all making money as rapidly as a shoddy 
contractor in the early days of the rebellion. 

The hotel accommodations of the year increased in propor- 
tion to the population. Besides the Green Tree Hotel, on the 
corner of Lake and Canal Streets, there were now three others. 
The Tremont House had been erected a year previously, on 
the north-west corner of Lake and Dearborn, and the loungers 
of that day used to stand on its steps and shoot the ducks on 
the river, or on the slough that lay before the door. Starr 
Foote was the first landlord, but he speedily gave way to Ira 
Couch, under whose management the Tremont soon became 
head-quarters for the travelers and speculators with which the 
town abounded. It was burned down in 1839, in the second 


fire that had visited the place, the first having occurred in 
1834. The Graves (log) Tavern stood nearly opposite the 
Tremont, and the Saganash Hotel offered accommodations for 
man and beast, on the corner of Market and Lake Streets, the 
spot where Lincoln was nominated in 1860 for the presidency. 
At that date the grove of timber along the east side of the 
eouth branch was still undisturbed, the north division was 
thickly studded with trees, a few pines stood on the lake shore 
south of the harbor, the timber being thickest near the river, 
and a great pine tree stood near the foot of Randolph Street. 

By an act of the Legislature, approved February 11, 1835, 
all the land east of State Street, from Twelfth Street to Chicago 
Avenue, was included within the town line* ; except that it was 
provided that the Fort Dearborn reservation, lying between 
Madison Street and the river, should not belong to the town 
till vacated by the United States. 

In this year (June) occurs the first instance of an attempt to 
borrow money on the credit of the town. The treasurer wa^ 
authorized to borrow $2,000, at not more than ten per cent, in- 
terest, and payable in twelve months. He resigned rather than 
face the novel responsibility, and the street commissioner follow- 
ed suit. A Board of Health was now appointed, with extreme 
powers in the way of enforcing cleanliness and prosecuting of- 
fenders. The new Board of Trustees, elected July 10th, on a 
poll list of two hundred and eleven voters, prohibited gaming 
houses, and the sale of liquors on the Sabbath ; forbade the 
firing of guns and pistols within the limits, appointed police 
constables, and exacted bonds from the officials of the financial 
department for the faithful performance of their official duties, 
They also selected ten acres as a City Cemetery on Chicago 
Avenue, near the lake shore, and sixteen acres for the same 


purpose near the corner of Wabash Avenue and Twenty-third 
Street. These sites were both abandoned a few years afterward, 
and are now covered with buildings. In this year the Chi- 
cago American entered the field to compete with the Democrat 
for the advertising patronage of the town and its citizens. 

Two additional buildings were placed in the Court-house 
square in 1835 a small brick edifice on the north-east corner, 
for the use of the county officers and the safe keeping of the 
records, and an engine-house, costing 220, the latter not be- 
ing finished till the following year. The first fire engine was 
bought December 10th, of Messrs. Hubbard & Co., for the sum 
of $896.38, and a second ordered. The first Fire-engine Com- 
pany was organized two days afterward, with the following 
members: S. G. Trowbridge, Foreman; E. Morrison, J. M. 
Morrison, H. G. Loomis, John Dye, Joel Wicks, H. B. Clarke, 
William Young, H. H. Magee, Peter Warden, J. S. C. Ho- 
gan, E. A. Neff, T. O. Davis, H. M. Draper, J. H. Mulford, 
Peter Pruyne, Ira Kimberly, W. McForresten, Alvin Cal- 
houn, O. L. Beach, M. B. Beaubien, A. A. Markle, .A. V. 
Knickerbocker, S. W. Paine, S. C. George, E. Peck, H. C. 
Pearsons, George Davis, William H. Clark, J. C. Hamilton, 
John Calhoun, D. S. Dewey, Hugh C. Gibson. A Hook and 
Ladder Company was also organized, as follows : John Wil- 
son, E. C. Brackett, John Holbrook, T. Perkins, S. F. Spal- 
ding, Ira Cook, George Smith, J. J. Garland, J. K. Palmer, 
P. F. W. Peck, T. S. Eells, Joseph L. Hanson, S. B. Cobb, 
J. A. Smith, John R. Langston, Henry G. Hubbard, Thomas 
J. King, N. L. F. Monroe, J. K. Botsford, George W. Snow, 
G. W. Merrill, Joseph Meeker, S. S. Lathrop, Thomas S. 
Hyde, and Jason McCord. Hiram Hugunin was elected 
Chief Engineer. 


On the 14th of November the Board of Town Trustees re- 
solved to sell the leases of the wharfing privileges in the town 
for the term of 999 years, binding the board to dredge the river 
to the depth of ten feet at least, within four years from the sale, 
and the lessees of the privileges being bound to erect good docks, 
five feet wide and three feet above the water, within two years 
from the date of the lease. The sale of those immensely val- 
uable privileges took place on the 26th of November, 1835, at 
the store of Messrs. Jones, King & Co., and it may be interest- 
ing to remember now the "minimum prices" at which owners 
of lots fronting the river had the privilege of buying. On 
South Water Street the price was $25 per front foot; on North 
Water Street, $18.75 per front foot; on West Water Street, $18 
per front foot. The men who got rich in buying such property, 
at such prices, deserve no credit for speculative ability. But 
the board, on the 18th of November, 1835, offered still further 
assistance in their new school of " affluence made easy." They 
then resolved that they would not be bound to dredge the river, 
in making leases on North Water Street, consequently they low- 
ered the minimum figure to $15 per front foot, in part, and 
$8.50 per front foot on the remainder of the line. To aid in 
paying for leases at this rate, the board took secured notes for 
three and six months, for the first payment of one-quarter of the 
price, and gave three years in which to pay off the balance. 
The sale was three times postponed, and while waiting for a 
sale all the picked lots seemed to have been taken at a min- 
imum price. When the vendue did take place, only six lots 
remained to be sold, and but one of these found a purchaser, 
.at $26 per front foot. The city will have the right to resume 
possession of these valuable lots on the 26th day of November, 
A. D. 2834. The " privileges " thus thrown away by a lot of 


men who ought to have known better, subsequently became 
matter of much anxious legislation on the part of the board, 
and with the sale of the magnificent school-lands, made Octo- 
ber 21, 1833, on a petition signed by twenty-three citizens, 
form the two great sores in the history of the city. Both were 
literally "sold for a mere song." The school-lands, sold for 
38,865, have since been worth nearly fifty millions. 

The official seal was adopted in November, 1835 a spread- 
eagle, having three arrows in his claws, and the words "United 
States of America" surrounding the same. 

Prominent among the new residents added in 1835, were, 
Tuthill King, Alonzo Huntingdon, J. Y. Scammon, W. *B. 
Ogden, C. V. Dyer, C. L. Wilson, George Manniere, and H. O. 
Stone. Among the departures we note about fifteen hundred 
Indians, who left the place on the first of October, with forty ox- 
teams, and traveled forty days toward the lands allotted to them 
west of the Missouri, by the treaty of 1833. The party in- 
cluded all that remained of the "noble red man" in Northern 
Illinois, and the State has 'ever since been unmolested by the 

There were fewer additions to the population in 1836 than 
in 1835, the total of dwellers in the latter year being only about 
4,000. Among the new-comers were, Laurin P. Billiard, 
Mark Skinner, N. B. Judd, John Wentworth, M. W. Windette, 
W. A. Baldwin, B. W. Raymond, Walter Wright, J. M. Van 
Osdel, E. S. Wadsworth, Julius Wadsworth, Thomas Dyer, L. 
D. Boone, Isaac N. Arnold, and Dr. D. S. Smith. 

But the speculative fever still raged among the people, and 
they began to aspire to the dignity of a city, which was granted 
the next year, in answer to their prayer. There were two 
notable events in the history of 1836. The first was the launch 


of the sloop Clarissa, on May 18th, the first* vessel ever built iu 
Chicago an event that was celebrated with great rejoicing. 
The second was the turning of the first sod in the excavation 
of the canal, which was performed at Bridgeport, the Chicago 
terminus, on the fourth of July; a loan of half a million dol- 
lars foi the purpose having been authorized by the Legislature, 
and successfully negotiated. In July the commissioners adver- 
tised for 2,000 men to work on the canal at twenty to thirty 
dollars per month. Meanwhile the improvement of the harbor 
was proceeded with so vigorously that vessels could move freely 
in- and out of the river. Another packing-house was also built 
this year, by Sylvester Marsh, on Kinzie Street, near Rush. 
He packed hogs there till 1853. 

A good deal was effected this year in the way of city improve- 
ments, and much more would have been effected but for the 
fact that the town authorities were snubbed in their efforts to 
obtain a loan of $25,000 from the State Bank for these pur- 
poses. Several buildings were removed from the streets, where 
they had been located promiscuously, and thus several thor- 
oughfares were brought into line. Plank sluices were con- 
structed across Clark Street to carry the drainage to the south 
branch. Canal Street was turnpiked as far north as Kinzie, 
and Lake and Randolph were similarly improved to the dis- 
tance of several blocks west of the river. Among the improve- 
ments prospected and not carried out were the bridges at Ran- 
dolph and Kinzie Streets, and the establishment of a system of 
water supply through pipes, by a hydraulic company, incorpo- 
rated this year. The water wants of the citizens were hitherto 
supplied by carts, and the same primitive method was continued 
for four years longer. 

The corporation tax on real estate amounted to $8,998 28, 


and in this year we find the first mention of lots being sold to 
make good delinquencies on the tax list. 

This year was the last in the township history of Chicago, 
and we therefore present the following summary of marine 
statistics, showing the commercial growth of four years: 

Year. Vessels arrived. Tonnage. 

1833 4 700 

1834 ..-.. 176 .... 5,000 

1835 .... 250 .... 22,500 
1836 .... 456 .... 60,000 

In the same time the value of the real and personal property 
of this city had grown from little more than zero to an aggre- 
gate of nearly one million dollars. 


IN 1837 Chicago became a city. It was incorporated by act 
of the Legislature, passed March 4th, which extended the 
limits to include an area of about ten square miles. It was 
bounded as follows: On the south by Twenty-second Street; 
on the west by Wood Street ; on the north by North Avenue ; 
on the east by the lake, except the fraction of section ten, occu- 
pied as a military post ; it included, in addition, the ground on 
the lake shore lying east of Clark Street, extending half a mile 
north of North Avenue, since occupied as the old city cemetery. 
The city was divided into six wards, each of which was em- 
powered to elect two aldermen. 


A school act had been passed in February, 1835, providing 
for the annual election of school inspectors and trustees, and 
giving power to enforce a tax of not more than one-half per 
cent, per annum for school purposes. The act of municipal in- 
corporation constituted the Common Council as commissioners 
of public schools, with power to appoint a board of school in- 
spectors annually. Under this regime Thomas Hoyne and 
Calvin De Wolf were engaged as school teachers; but very 
little was done in the way of tuition till 1840, on account of 
the general poverty. 

The first charter election resulted in the election of the fol- 
lowing officers : 

Mayor Wm. B. Ogden. 

High Constable John Shrigley. 

First Ward Aldermen, J. C. Goodhue, -Francis Sherman ; 
Assessor, Nathan H. Bolles. 

Second Ward Aldermen, J. S. C. Hogan, Peter Bolles; 
Assessor, E. A. Tuder. 

Third Ward Aldermen, J. D. Caton,H. Hugunin; Assessor, 
Solomon Taylor. 

Fourth Ward Aldermen, A. Pierce, F. H. Taylor; Asses- 
sor, Wm. Forsyth. 

Fifth Ward Alderman, Bernard Ward; Assessor, Henry 

Sixth Ward Aldermen, S. Jackson, H. Pearson ; Assessor, 
S. D. Pierce. 

N. B. Judd was chosen City Attorney. 


The following were the principal statistics of the new city : 

Population in 1837, July 1st, . . 4,170 

Number of voters, ..... . 703 

Area of city, square miles, ....... 10 

Number of buildings, 492 

Taxable valuation (J), . $236,842 

City taxes, $5,905 

The population included 513 under 5 years of age; 831 over 
5 and under 21 years; and 2445 persons over 21 years of age; 
the latter class contained 1800 males and 845 females. In ad- 
dition to these were 104 sailors belonging to Chicago-owned 
vessels, and 77 colored persons. 

The list of buildings comprised 4 warehouses, 398 dwellings, 
29 dry goods stores, 5 hardware stores, 3 drug stores, 19 gro- 
cery and provision stores, 10 taverns, 29 groceries, 17 lawyers' 
offices, and 5 churches. Several of the buildings appear in 
more than one class. 

Among the new arrivals of 1837 were Peter Page, \V. H. 
Bradley, Thomas Hoyne, C. N. Holden, and C. C. P. Holden. 
The next year witnessed the arrival of E. I. Tinkham and H. 
T. Dickey. F. A. Hoffman arrived in 1839. 


FOR a long-time this was the culmination of Chicago's great- 
ness A few months passed in the enjoyment of the newly 
acquired dignity, and then came the well-remembered crash of 
1837, which operated with peculiar force upon the city, as she 


was largely filled with speculators in real estate, whose hopes 
vanished when prices began to fall. For two years prices of 
real estate had mounted upward like a kite in a gale of wind, 
stimulated by the bidding of the ever advancing throng. Pur- 
chases were made, almost universally on time, and when the 
people's currency went down it was apparent that there \Yaa 
nothing to pay with. The tide of emigration was stopped, 
and many left the city, while very many other large owners 
(?) of real estate were unable to pay their board bills, and staid 
in the city simply because they were too poor to get away. 
Nothing but ruin stared the people in the face. A public 
meeting was held in the autumn, at which it was proposed to 
petition for relief laws against the collection of debts, but the 
project was, itself, repudiated, and the people were content to 
owe that which they could not pay. 

The direct cause of the collapse was, as already indicated, 
the fact that the nation had reached out too fast. The Illinois 
Legislature of 1836-37 had shared in the general mania, au- 
thorizing the construction of some thirteen hundred miles of 
road at once, on which about five million dollars was expended 
for locating and grading. The moneys borrowed for this pur- 
pose, for the canal, and for other schemes, were all spent, long 
before there was any return. Production was neglected for 
construction, and the result was that the west was in debt 
hopelessly, with not even money enough to pay the interest as 
it became due. The banks had generally been built on the 
same unstable foundation of credit, and were the first to go 
under when the first shock came that showed a want of confi- 
dence. The second State bank, chartered by the Legislature 
in the winter of 1834-5, established a branch in Chicago in 
December, 1835, which flourished like a green bay tree, till the 


panic came. It then suspended specie payments, but continued 
to do business till 1841, when it finally suspended ; and for the 
ten succeeding years there was not a bank of any kind in the 
whole State. 

Under these distressing circumstances, Chicago was utterly 
stagnated for about five years, each succeeding twelve month? 
witnessing a further reduction in pecuniary values, with no 
augment of population. The work on the Illinois and Michi- 
gan Canal was slowly proceeded with, in spite of the financial 
troubles, and despite also the fact that a terrible fever broke 
out among the laborers on the canal, and extended to the city, 
carrying them off by scores. The Canal Commissioners had 
been empowered, in March, 1837, to sell as many town lots in 
Chicago and elsewhere, as might be necessary to produce a 
million dollars. Many sales were made, and the money ap- 
plied as designated. In July, of the same year, they were 
further empowered to sell lots to the value of $400,000, and to 
enlarge the natural basin at the confluence of the north and 
south branches of the river. The persistency with which the 
canal project was sustained was probably all that prevented 
Chicago from sinking back into original nothingness. In 1840, 
the official valuation of real estate had fallen to 94,437, 
and the city taxes to 4,722. The next year work was sus- 
pended on the canal, and the situation became more gloomy 
than ever, real estate being offered at less than five per cent, 
of the price paid in 1836. A general bankrupt act was passed 
in 1842, and then there was a slow revival till the middle of 
the century was reached. 

The history of the city during the five years succeeding the 
crash presents but few points of interest, and those all of a 
melanci.oly character. Most of the people settled down into a 


gloomy despondency over the failure of the bright prospect. 
Yet the great majority even of these showed that the real grit 
which led them there had not forsaken them. They despaired 
of seeing Chicago take the position of a great commercial em- 
porium, but they set to work to improve its appearance, mak- 
ing their cottages neater, and cultivating the soil very assidu- 
ously, though the site was really in need of drainage. They 
really made a > virtue of necessity in regard to the latter, raising 
the vegetables and some grain necessary to their sustenance, 
having no money with which to buy them from others. This 
was the horticultural era, when potatoe hills, and cabbages, and 
flower belts, and onion beds, covered whole blocks, since occu- 
pied by fine buildings in the very heart of the city. It was 
during this epoch and the few years succeeding it that Chicago 
earned the title of the " Garden City," so often applied to it 
in recent years, with no known reason on the part of those 
using the term. 

In 1839, the year after the canal fever, the city had a popu- 
lation of 4,200 inhabitants, under the mayoralty of B. W. 
Raymond. The first business directory of the city ever pub- 
lished was brought out in that year by Edward H. Rudd, and 
contained the names of 278 business firms, including lawyers, 
etc. It gives a list of six churches. 

The Chicago American was first issued as a daily, the first 
in Illinois, April 9th, of this year. We extract from the 
first few numbers the following names of mercantile adver- 
tisers, etc. The list embraces all of those of any moment, 
except lawyers: 

Dry Goods and Groceries Goodsell and Campbell, T. B. 
Carler & Co., Paine & Norton, O. H. Thompson (and crock- 
ery), Harmon & Loomis (and liquors), B. W. Raymond, Joseph 


L. Hanson, George W. Merrill, S. W. Goss & Co., A. D. Big- 
gins, C. McDonnell, C. S. Phillips, H. O. Stone. 

Drugs E. Dewey, L. M. Boyce, W. H. & A. F. Clarke 
(and seeds), Philo Carpenter, S. Sawyer. 

Hardware, etc. S. T. Otis & Co., David Hatch, Osborne & 
Strail, L. W. Holmes. 

Boots and Shoes W. H. Adams & Co., S. W. Talmadgo, 
S. B. Collins & Co., Wm. Osborne. . 

Auction and Commission Stanton & Black, Marshall & 

Commission and Produce J. S. Wright, G. S. Hubbard & 
Co., McClure & Co., Kiuzie (J. H.) & Hunter, Dodge & Tucker, 
Reed Bartlett. 

Books and Stationery Stephen F. Gale, H. Ross. 

Lumber, etc. Newberry & Dole, G. W. Snow & Co. 

Provisions Newberry & Dole. 

Day School Rev. I. T. Hinton. 

Clothing, etc. Tuthill King, Paine & Norton, G. F. Ran- 
dolph, J. F. Phillips, J. A. Smith & Co. (and hats, caps, and 

Engraving S. D. Childs. 

Jewelry S. J. Sherwood. 

Harness, etc. W. S. Gurnee. 

Cabinet Ware Bates & Morgan. 

Liquors Isaac D. Harmon. 

Hotels Jacob Russel (City), John Murphy (U. S.), G. E. 
Shelley (Lake), E. Gill (Shakespeare), Saganash Hotel. 

Insurance E. S. & J. Wadsworth, David Hunter. 

In this year the work on the harbor was suspended, the last 
appropriation of $40,000, made in 1838, having been exhausted. 
Lake Street lots were now selling as low as $600 each, that 


have .since sold at $2 x 500 per front foot. The general trouble 
of the epoch may be understood from the following list of per- 
sons discontinuing business, as furnished by Hon. Thomas 
Hoyne, the city clerk, in a memorial to Coflgress in 1841, pray- 
ing for a resumption of work on the harbor: 

1836 T. R. Martin, dry goods; M. McFarlan, do.; William 
Hatch, do.; McClure & Co., crockery ; Mr. Howard, dry goods; 
Mr. Bates, do.; Mr. Hogan, do.; Chamber & Benedict, do.; 
Chauncey Clark, do.; Mr. Freer, do. 

1837 Walker & Brothers, dry goods and groceries; Walter 
Kimball, do.; Kimball & Potter, do.; Jones, King & Co., 
hardware; Joel Walker, dry goods; Wild, Maloney & Co., do.; 
Alfred Farley, do.; Beaubien & Boyce, do.; Monroe & Dun- 
ning, do.; Guild & Durand, do.; Jenkins & Reynolds, do.; 
Kinzie, Davis & Hyde, hardware; J. L. Smith, dry goods; 
Rufus Masten & Co., do.; Mr. Luce, do.; J. B. Beaubien, do.; 
Rogers & Marcoe, do.; John L. Wilson, do.; J. & T. Handy, 
do.; Henry King & Co., do.; Walbridge & Jordan, groceries; 
Cheng & Johnson, do.; Mr. Brackett, do.; Foyke & Wright, 
do.; Montgomery & Patterson, auctioners; L. Hunt, hats and 
furs; Hall & Monroe, groceries; Mark Beaubien, dry goods; 
Caruthers & Co., do. 

1838 King, Walter & Co., hardware; Peter Pruyne, drugs, 
etc.; J. W. C. Coffin, dry goods; Vibbard & Tripp, do.; J. 
Rayner, do.; Judge Smith, do.; Thomas Duncan, clothing; 
Wheeler & Peck, grocers ; Noble & Rider, do.; Parker & Gray, 
dry goods. 

1839 Mr. Hatch, hardware. 

1841 Mr. Berry, dry goods; James Kinzie & Co., do.; 
Campbell, Wallace & Plumb, do. 

It is true, however, and singularly enough, that it was during 


this very period of depression, Chicago commenced to achieve 
her manifest destiny as an exporting point. "While industry 
was taking the place of speculative idling, and the masses of the 
people were adding slowly to their worldly wealth, and a few 
busy in planning the schemes of improvement that made the 
city of 1871, there were a very few who quietly put their shoul- 
ders to the wheel of commerce. It rolled slowly for awhile, 
but once fairly started, it acquired an impetus that nothing 
could resist. It is true that $1,000 worth of hides was exported 
in 1836, and nearly $12,000 worth of hides, pork, and beef in 
1837, but the grain movement, in which Chicago has attained 
such a world- wide prominence, only commenced in 1838, the 
year after the panic, with a small venture of 39 bags of wheat, 
by Walker & Co., in the steamer Great Western, along with 
15,000 worth of hides. Absalom Funk shipped $1,000 worth 
of beef and pork in the same year. The vessel list of 1838 
comprised 127 arrivals of steamboats, and 241 of other vessels; 
total, 268. The steamer George W. Dole was now plying reg- 
ularly between the ports of Chicago, Milwaukee, and Buffalo. 

In 1839 the number of exporters had increased to eight, who 
sent forward produce to the value of $35,843, including $15,000 
in hides, $11,000 in provision products, and 16,073 bushels of 
wheat, besides corn and flour. In 1840 we have not less than 
fifteen firms noted as exporters, the material sent forward being 
flour, wheat, corn, pork, beef, tallow, hams, beans, salt, wool, lead, 
flax-seKl, hides, and furs, with a total value of $223,883. In 
1841 the list of exporters had swelled to twenty-four, who sent 
out 304,212 bushels of wheat and other produce, making a grand 
total of $350,000. The arrivals and departures by lake this year 
were 150. In 1842 the flour and wheat shipped was the equiv- 
alent of 586,907 bushels ,of wheat. The following table shows 


the value of the imports and exports during each yeai in the 
period under review. It will be observed that in 1842 the ex- 
ports for the first time about equaled the imports: 



$325,203 90 


$1,000 64 


373,677 12 
579,974 61 

11,665 00 
16,044 75 


630,980 26 
562,106 20 

35,843 00 

228,883 00 


564,347 88 
664,347 88 

350,000 00 
659,805 20 

In 1842 the population had grown to 6,590 souls, having 
increased about 1,000 in the preceding twelve months. The 
improvement, as compared with 1837, will be better understood 
from the following table of buildings in the city in 1842: 

South. North. West. Total. 

Brick stores, ... 37 37 

Frame stores, ... 206 10 3 219 

Brick dwellings, 28 10 3 41 

Frame dwellings, . . 444 278 120 842 

Stone dwellings, 1 1 

Other buildings, . 224 

Totals, . . 716 298 126 1,364 

In November, 1840, the educational affairs of the city seem to 
have first received systematic attention. A Board of Inspect- 
ors of Schools was appointed, consisting of the following-named 
gentlemen : William Jones (President), J. Y. Scammon, Isaac 
N. Arnold, Nathan H. Bolles, John Gray, J. H. Scott, Hiram 
Hugeuin. Under this regime the following-named gentlemen 
served as teachers in the Public Schools, at a salary of $33.33 
per month: South Division A. G. IJumsey, H. B. Perkins; 


West Division A. D. Sturtevant; North Division A. C. Dun- 
bar. It should, however, be remembered that they taught in 
none of those elegant buildings recently destroyed by the fire. 
The first Public School structure had yet to be erected in Chi- 

A few sidewalks were put down during this epoch, and sev- 
eral other minor improvements of a public character were 
erected, but the principal work was that by which the citi- 
zens were supplied with water through pipes, instead of being 
obliged to buy it from peddlers at so much per bucketful. 
The Hydraulic Company, formed in 1836, with a nominal stock 
of $250,000, commenced operations in 1840. They built a res- 
ervoir at the corner of Lake Street and Michigan Avenue, on 
the site since occupied by the Adams House, about twenty- 
five feet square and eight feet deep, elevated about eighty feet 
above the surface of the ground, and erected a pump, connect- 
ing it by an iron pipe with the lake, laid on a crib- work pier, 
running into the lake about one hundred and fifty feet. This 
pump was worked by a steam-engine of twenty-five horsepower. 
The water was distributed to the citizens through logs, bored 
at the " works," five inches for the main lines and three inches 
for the subordinate ones. In 1842 James Long entered into 
arrangements with the Hydraulic Company to do all the pump- 
ing for the supply of the city with water for ten years, without 
cost to the company, for and in consideration of the free use of 
the surplus power of their twenty-five horse engine. In a let- 
ter read at the formal opening of the Lake Tunnel, in Decem- 
ber, 1866, Mr. Long thus refers to the difficulties of the primi- 
tive situation : " In winter the pipes on the pier would be dis- 
arranged by the heaving of the frost, and I had frequently to 
spend hours at a time to caulk up the joints by throwing on 


water and thus freezing up the cracks before we could make the 
pump available. When the end of this pipe from the p:er was 
first put down, it was three or four feet below the surface of the 
lake, but in 1842-43 the lake had receded so far as frequently 
to leave the end out of water, particularly when the wind blew 
from the south." But it was soon found that a large extension 
was needed. Long before the above-named contract had ex- 
pired the twenty-five horse-power engine had become too small, 
even without doing the extra work expected of it. 


rilHE growth of the city from 1842 to the middle of the cen- 
-*- tury was slow, as measured by the lightninglike progress 
of some subsequent years, but it was sure. The people were 
working on a firm basis, and past reverses had made them so 
cautious that they were afraid to risk their little capital in many 
cases that have since proven to be first-class investments. Many 
city improvements, that had been projected in more inflated but 
less prosperous times, were now carried out, and, although the 
horticultural epoch was still in existence, the people were grad- 
ually paving the way for an emergence from the crysalis con- 
dition. The place had heretofore been really a village, though 
nominally a city. There were a few who watched the gradual 
settlement of the country to the westward, and recognized the 
fact that the magnificent schemes of the people must soon be 
realized. These labored on in the face of great discouragement, 


though the city was filling tip rapidly. The city was growing, 
almost under protest; people came, almost without knowing the 
reason why, and with an increase of population a steady aug- 
ment of property values ensued. Work on the canal was re- 
sumed, and it soon became apparent that the railroad system, 
which was not wanted a few years previously, was now a vital 

The canal funds had been kept distinct from the moneys bor- 
rowed for other improvements, but when, in 1841, the State in- 
debtedness had amounted to fifteen millions of dollars, it was 
found impossible to proceed, as enough money could not be 
raised to pay arrears to the contractors, though another loan of 
four million dollars had been authorized in 1839. Hence the 
work was suspended in 1842, as already stated, and the next 
year a law was passed to settle the outstanding claims of the 
contractors, provided they did not amount to more than a quar- 
ter of a million dollars. 

But the canal was of too much importance to be long aban- 
doned. In 1843, certain holders of the State bonds made the 
offer to advance the money necessary to complete the canal, 
provided the payment of their advances and bonds was secured 
by adequate lien on the canal, its lands, and its revenues. At 
the next session of the Legislature an act was passed, providing 
that if the bond-holders would advance $1,600,000, then the 
canal, and the lands still unsold, amounting to about 230,000 
acres, with several lots in Chicago and towns along the line, 
should be pledged to the lenders. Accordingly the lands and 
revenues were placed in the hands of three trustees, two jf 
whom were to be chosen by the bond-holders, and one by the 
State. A great portion of the loan was negotiated by Mr. 
Swift, of Boston, with English capitalists. 


With the money so obtained, work on the canal was resumed, 
and the undertaking was completed in 1848, but not on the 
grand plan originally proposed. The plan, as at first adopted, 
was for the canal, of ninety-six miles long, from the Chicago 
River to Lasalle, to have its highest level only three feet 
above the lake, this highest line extending from Chicago to 
Lockport. A part of the work was executed on this plan. 
But when operations were resumed, it was on the shallow prin- 
ciple, the highest level being twelve feet above the lake; from 
this level a series of fifteen locks provided a descent of one 
hundred and sixty-six feet between it and Lasalle. The water 
for the summit level was supplied by pumping. 

Very soon after the opening of the canal, its enlargement to 
the originally designed scale was strongly advocated. Indeed, 
a convention was held in the city, in 1847, attended by dele- 
gates from all parts of the country, at which the importance of 
the enlargement was referred to. Another canal convention 
was held in June, 1863, the sessions of which were made 
memorable by the temporary suppression of the Chicago Times, 
by order of General Burnside, while the convention was in 
session. At that gathering the leading idea was to provide for 
the passage of large vessels, and iron-clads, from the lakes to the 
Mississippi, to aid in the suppression of the rebellion. The com- 
mercial needs of the North-west were not forgotten, but they 
received only a secondary share of attention. It was even pro- 
posed to cut down the summit level below the depth originally 
agreed upon, in order to allow the waters of the lakes to run 
through the river and the canal, down to the Illinois, and thus 
convert a stagnant bayou into a living stream. Various plans 
for improvement were proposed, the estimates for which ranged 


from eleven and a half to thirteen a third million dollars. 
Some of these plans proposed a change in the route of the 
canal, as it is well known that a less amount of excavation 
would have been required on another line which was not chos- 
rn by the locating commissioners, for the reason that the adja- 
cent lands were not available for sale. 

The total amount expended by the commissioners for canal 
construction, under the act of 1836, was $4,979,903, and under 
(he act of 1843, the expenditures were $1,429,606, making a 
total of $6,409,509. The receipts from sales of lands, and 
lots donated by the United States Government, were $4,667,- 
718.42, and for tolls, from the opening to the close of 1868, 
the receipts were $3,997,281.22. The total receipts, from all 
sources up to that date, were 10,501,195, and the total debt 
of the State for construction and maintenance was cleared off 
entirely when the construction bonds of 18434 fell due, in 

The canal has since been deepened by the city at a total cost 
of three million dollars, of which more hereafter. Now that 
Chicago is the focus of a grand system of railroads, the canal is 
far more valuable to her as a sewer to carry off her surplus 
filth, than as a means of commercial communication with the 
interior of the State. But at that time it was the only artery 
along which the life-blood of commerce was expected to flow 
for many years, and it gave a prodigious impulse to the growth 
of the city. 

The following statistics of a few articles transported over the 
canal during a portion of 1848 (the year it was opened), and 
die whole of 1849, will show at a glance the immense stimulus 
given by it to Chicago trade, which had hitherto been depend- 


ent on the wagon or the packhorse in that direction. The 
movement of lumber, etc., was westward: 


Pork, Ibs. 
Stone, cu. yds. . . 





Wheat, bu. 





Lumber, ft. ... 
Shingles and Lath, No. . 
Tolls on Canal, . 

. 14,425,357 
. 17,899,000 


The receipts of lumber in 1847 were 32,118,225 feet; in 
1848, 60,009,250 feet; in 1849, 73,259,553 feet. 

In this connection we present the following aggregates of 
sales at the Chicago Land Office, to the middle of 1847, when 
the office was closed, and previous to May 28, 1835, at Danville: 




To May, 



$ 37,067 73 

1835, [Chicago] 

. 370,043.38 

505,729 75 


. 202,365.96 

252,961 78 



19,622 35 



109,973 34 


. 160,635.70 

218,811 69 

1840, . . 

. 142,158.20 

177,701 93 

1841, . . . 

. 138,603.16 

173,307 20 


. 194,557.11 

243,209 78 


. 229,459.70 

284,829 01 


. 235,258.36 

294,301 78 


. 220,525.08 

275,674 32 

1846, . . . 

. 198,350.41 

247,943 17 

To June 29, 



61,883 12 

Total 2,272,565.69 $2,903,016 87 


Total, [brought forward] . . 2,272,565.69 $2,903,016 87 
To Schools, 104,520.00 

To Canal 236,680.00 

To State purposes, . . . 94,782.00 t 


Total, 2,707,547.69 Acres. 

Unsold, 914,987.31 " 

Total in District, . . . 3,624,535.00 " 
Total in State, .... 35,941,602.00 " 

The influence of the canal on the city is very concisely shown 
by the statistics of population. In 1842 the inhabitants num- 
bered 6590; in 1843 they had increased to 7580, and only to 
about 8000 in 1844. Work recommencing on the canal in the 
latter part of the year, the population had increased to 12,088 
in 1845, and steadily swelled afterward to 20,923 in 1848. It 
should, however, be remembered that the last-named total was 
scattered over a greater area than in 1845. In 1847 the city 
was increased by the addition of three and a half square miles 
to its area, making a total of thirteen and a half sections. The 
city limits were extended west to Western Avenue (three miles 
from State Street), and took in all east of Sedgwick Street, be- 
tween North and Fullerton Avenues. 

The augment of shipment eastward was not quite so great as 
the business of the canal, but it was large nevertheless. The 
exhibit of valuation of city property, in this period, shows the 
steady character of the growth with equal clearness : 


Real, . 

City Taxes, . 











These valuations were about one-fourth of the price at which 
the property could have been sold. 

Chicago retained her horticultural aspect during these years 
of improvement, but there was a steady commercial growth 
quietly wrought out by a few men, that seemed almost to take 
the world by surprise when communication had once been 
opened up sufficiently to let ihat outside world know what was 
going on. The harbor received some attention, but work done 
in accordance with the suggestions of George B. McClellan, 
submitted in 1844, was of little more value than his exertions 
in the early days of the rebellion. A long line of piling was 
driven on the south shore outside of the present line of the 
breakwater, but in spite of it the waves washed away many 
acres of valuable land. The piling itself vanished subsequently. 
The river was improved, South Water Street being set back half 
a block about the middle of this epoch, allowing the bank of 
the river to be straightened out, while no less than three bridges 
were built in 1847, viz : at Wells, Randolph, and Madison 
Streets. These were, however, only floating bridges, like those 
removed from Clark and Polk 'Streets very recently. The 
magnificent swing bridge was a more modern innovation. 
There was little dock building done till 1848; then a great 
deal was constructed on the main river to accommodate the in- 
creasing trade, brought in by the just completed canal. 

Previous to 1844 a few planks had been laid down to serve 
the purpose of a sidewalk, but the unimproved soil was the 
only road-bed in the middle of even the main thoroughfares. 
Ditches had been dug on the edges of a few to carry off the 
surplus water, but they were found so inefficient that some 
bright genius conceived the idea of placing the gutter in the 
middle of the street, which thus became an open sewer. Those 


who have since rolled luxuriously over the more than fifty 
miles of streets paved with wooden blocks, that now exist in 
Chicago, can form but a faint idea of the blessings of travel- 
ing through the prairie road, cut up by hundreds of teams, and 
reduced to a miry slush of half a yard or more in depth. In 
1844 the plank road was introduced, and several of the streets 
were thus improved during the next few years. Yet the im- 
provement was but a sorry one. The planks would wear well 
for awhile, then break up under heavy loads and spring thaws, 
making the street even worse than if the natural soil fead been 
left uncovered. 

Previous to 1846 Chicago was only a port of delivery, and 
belonged to the collection district of Detroit. The first arrival 
registered at the Custom-house is dated April 6, 1845, when 
the schooner Congress, of 200 tons burden, arrived from Port 
Huron with a cargo of lumber. In that year we had a total 
of 331 steamboats, 85 propellers, 116 brigs, 718 schooners, and 
70 sloops arriving; total, 1320. The arrivals in 1847, were, 
19 steamers, 17 propellers, 36 brigs, and 120 schooners; total, 
192, employing 1628 men. The district of Chicago, formed in 
July, 1846, included Milwaukee, till September, 1850. We 
note here that the first arrival ever known in the harbor of 
Chicago, was the schooner Tracy, which brought supplies for 
Fort Dearborn in 1803. 

Aff late as 1848 the city was sometimes a whole week with- 
out the arrival of a single mail. The total commissions of the 
postmaster for that year were but $9,681.35. 

The first school-houses built by the city were erected during 
this period. The Dearborn, only torn down in 1871, a few 
months before the fire, was located opposite the place where 

McVicker's Theater lately stood, and just north-east of Uie 


Tribune office. That school-house was built through the per- 
sistent effort of Alderman Ira Miltimore, and was long known 
as "Miltiraore's folly," the people believing that there would 
never be scholars enough in the city to fill it. That was liter- 
ally a day of small expectations. But the Jones school was 
erected soon afterward on Clark Street, near Harrison; the 
Kinzie school in 1845, on Ohio Street, near Lasalle; and the 
Scammon in 1846, on West Madison, near Halstead. In the 
last-named year each of these schools had one male and two 
female teachers. 

The Rush Medical College was founded in 1843, with a class 
of twenty-two students, and two daily newspapers were estab- 
lished during this epoch both now alive the Journal in 1844, 
and the Tribune in 1847. The Illinois Staats Zeitung (Ger- 
man) was first issued as a weekly in 1846. The first theater 
ever built in Chicago was opened June 28, 1847, on Dearborn 
Street near Randolph, the proprietor being J. B. Rice, since 
mayor of the city. J. H. McVicker was a member of his 
company in 1849. 

The number of church societies formed in the years 1842-48 
was not less than eighteen; most of them erected houses of 
worship previous to the close of 1848. 



THE history of the next three years, from 1849 to 1851 in- 
clusive, is really of the same general character as that of 
the preceding period, yet so important that it merits notice in 
a separate chapter. It was emphatically a time of reaching out. 
The first design to build a canal to the Illinois River was 
very early supplemented by a railroad project, which was felt 
to be of almost equal importance. As early as 1836, when 
ihere were not more than one thousand miles of railroad in the 
United States, the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad was 
chartered by the Legislature. In the succeeding crash the 
undertaking was killed for the time being, and ten years elapsed 
ere it was revived. In 1847, the first length of rail was laid 
on the present line to Freeport, the rail first used being simply 
one of strap-iron. The whole line of 121 miles, from Chicago 
to Freeport, was not opened up till 1853, but enough of it was 
finished by 1851 to prove that the grand scheme of connection 
was a decided success. The canal gave access to the central 
parts of the State, the rich bottom lands in the Illinois Valley, 
and to the trade of the lower Mississippi, while the railroad 
would in like manner place the city in communication with 
the wide domain of the upper Mississippi region, and with the 
untold mineral wealth in the lead mines of Galena. These two 
great arteries of commerce would bring into the lap of Chicago 
the trade of the greater portion of the then settled parts of the 
North-west. This once assured, capital flowed in apace from the 
East, and the people felt that they could afibrd to expend money 
in the improvement of the city, which had hitherto been sadly 
neglected. Even at this time, however, the importance of rail- 


road connection with the East was but little understood. 
Many, even of our business men, thought that the lake system 
was all that was necessary to carry away the accumulated pro- 
duce of the West, and bring back the merchandise required 
in exchange. They had not then learned the value of time in 
commercial transactions; the mail and the canal were better than 
the railroad and the telegraph. A few men were hard at work 
in the endeavor to open up railroad routes to the East, but they 
met with most discouraging opposition from those who were 
most to be benefited by the improvements. 

The population increased from 20,923, in 1848, to about 
34,000 in 1851, and the growth would have been much greater 
but for the cholera. That dread disease was brought up the 
river from New Orleans in the emigrant boat John Drew, the 
first case being noticed on the 29th of April. The disease 
spread rapidly, as other emigrants arrived, many of them from 
various parts of Europe, where the cholera was raging. It was 
estimated that the total number of persons attacked was about 
one thousand, of whom 314 died from July 25th to August 
28th, inclusive. The greatest mortality occurred in a neighbor- 
hood of three squares in the North Division, with 332 inhabi- 
tants, principally Norwegians, and scarcely one of the whole 
number escaped the infection. It was remarked as singular at 
that time that the ground in that locality was high and sandy, 
but the secret was afterward discovered that all had used water 
from the same well into which the drainings of an outhcuse 
had found their way. 

The deaths from cholera during the year were 678, one in 36 
of the entire population. In the same year Cincinnati lost 
4450, or one in 23; St. Louis lost 4297, or one in 21; New 
Orleans 4000, or one in 37; New York 5122, or one in 79. 


The prevalance of the disease was such that it spread to nearly 
every cluster of dwellings in the North-west, and for a time 
communication between Chicago and the interior was almost 
entirely suspended. Business, however, soon revived, and in a 
short period the cholera seemed to have produced no ill effect 
on the prosperity of the city, which grew rapidly. 

The disease appeared again in July, 1850, but less severely, 
tnough the aggregate mortality was much greater. From July 
18th to August 31st, inclusive, 613 died, of whom 416 were 
cholera patients. September only witnessed four deaths from 
cholera, making a total of 420, or one in 64 of the inhabitants. 
The cholera came again in 1851 and 1852, but its ravages were 

Early in the year 1849, an act was passed authorizing the 
formation of the Chicago Gas Light and Coke Company, and 
giving them the exclusive right to supply gas to the city for 
ten years. The company commenced operations as soon after 
the passage of the act as possible, locating their works on 
Adams Street, on the east side of the river. These works were 
the first to take fire in the South Division, in the great confla- 
gration, and from that point the flames spread over the entire 
business part of the city. In September, 1850, the gas was 
turned on for the first time, and the citizens of Chicago enjoy- 
ed the luxury of lighted streets at night. By the end of 1852, 
the company had laid nearly eight miles of pipe, with five 
hundred and seventy-four meters, and counted five hundred 
and sixty-one private consumers. 

The people' now agitated for a better water supply than was 
furnished by the crooked arrangement described in Chapter 9, 
but did not succeed in obtaining it till afterwards. The Chi- 
cago City Hydraulic Company was called into existence in 


February, 1851, and John B. Turner, A. S. Sherman, and H. 
G. Loomis were appointed as the first Board of Water Com 
missioners. William J. McAlpine was employed (June 26th) as 
engineer. The water was not supplied to the houses till Feb- 
ruary, 1854. 

In 1849, the bridges were all swept away by a great freshet 
in the river, and better structures were afterward provided. 

In 1848, the building of wharves was pushed forward with 
considerable energy, and some two miles in length were com- 
pleted by 1852. But the great events of the epoch were the for- 
mation of the Board of Trade and the birth of the grain eleva- 
tor system. Grain had previously been bought, and stored, and 
shipped, but only in the way each individual dictated for him- 
self. There was no system. 

The truth being told, it would be necessary to say that the 
system was instituted some time before it was needed ; and it is 
this fact that marks the period under review it was eminently 
one of expectancy. The commerce of the city grew compara- 
tively little during those years. Indeed, the shipments of wheat, 
and flour reduced to wheat, fell from 2,286,000 bushels, in 1848, 
to 799,380 bushels in 1851, but the difference was more than 
compensated by the increase in other grain, the total shipment8 
being 4,646,291 bushels, in 1851, against 3,001,740 bushels in 
1848, the total having dropped to 1,830,938 bushels in 1850. 
In like manner we find the business of the canal to have been 
nearly stationary, except in the eastward movement of corn, and 
the westward movement of lumber. The receipts of corn were 
nearly nine times as great in 1851 as in 1850, and the increase 
in the shipments of lumber was nearly fifty per cent. The 
growth of the wholesale trade of the city, in other departments, 
was somewhat less than in lumber. 


Early in 1848 Thomas Richmond and "W. L. Whiting dis- 
cussed one afternoon the propriety of establishing a Board of 
Trade in Chicago. Mr. Richmond was then in the elevating 
business, and Mr. Whiting a grain broker the first who pur- 
sued this avocation in Chicago. These gentlemen consulted 
with other business men, and the result of this consultation was 
an invitation (published at the time) for the merchants gener- 
ally to meet together on the 13th of March, 1848, to take the 
initiatory steps in regard to the formation of the Chicago Board 
of Trade. The following is a copy of the call : 

"Merchants and business men who are favorable to the 
establishment of a Board of Trade in this city, are requested to 
meet at the office of W. L. Whiting, on the 13th (March, 1848), 
at 3 o'clock P. M. 

" Wadsworth, Dyer & Chapin, Norton, Walker & Co., 

George Steele, De Wolf & Co., 

I. H. Burch & Co., Charles Walker, 

Gurnee, Hayden & Co., Thomas Richmond, 

H. H. Magie & Co., Thomas Hale, 

Neef & Church, Raymond, Gibbs & Co." 
John H. Kinzie, 

At this meeting nothing further was done than to pass reso- 
lutions stating that the growing trade of Chicago demanded the 
establishment of a Board of Trade. A constitution was then 
adopted, and a committee appointed to draw up by-laws to be 
submitted at an adjourned meeting, to be held on the first Mon- 
day in April following, when they were adopted. All inter- 
ested were invited to meet daily at the new rooms on South 
Water Street, which had been rented at $110 per annum. 
George Smith (the banker) was elected first president, but 
declined to serve, and Thomas Dyer was then chosen to fill the 


office. The Board met and resolved, and appointed committees 
and inspectors of produce, and considered the condition of the 
river and harbor, but did no business of any account for a long 
time. In April, 1850, the Board formally organized under an 
act passed the previous year, and placed the annual dues at 
three dollars. In 1851 the association consisted of thirty -eight 
members, but the records show that often for several days 
together there was not a single member in attendance, and the 
entry, "No transactions," became a stereotyped phrase, as well 
as a standing joke. 

In 1848 there were three or four so-called grain elevators in 
existence, but they were very small, the elevating was done by 
means of a mule on the roof, and all the grain was the property 
of the man who owned the elevator, he buying it from the 
farmer, and generally shipping it forward on his own account, 
though one of them Orrington Lunt always sold his grain 
to a shipper, after his first shipping venture, in which he lost 
heavily. About the close of the period under review, one 
steam elevator was erected, and the business of storing grain 
for others became a recognized feature, though not extensively 
resorted to. At first the only storers were shippers, who bought 
the grain from the warehousemen in winter, and paid for the 
storage till they could move it forward in the season of naviga- 



TN 1852 Chicago took a "new departure." She became the 
-*- center of a network of railways, which soon branched out 
to every point of the compass, except the north-east, though 
those lines have since been extended farther in every direc- 
tion, save to the eastward. Hitherto a stranger to the iron- 
horse, she had depended on the wagon, or the slow canal to 
the westward, and on a circuitous water route to the seaboard. 
Then she at once took rank as an important center of railroad 
travel and traffic, becoming what had been dreamed out for 
her many years previously, but not realized. Even to-day she 
avails herself, to a considerable extent, of the facilities afforded 
by water transportation ; but it is as a railroad power that Chi- 
cago stands preeminent among the cities of the United States, 
and her commercial importance is in large part due to the con- 
nections made in the one year, 1852. 

It is remarkable, too, that though Chicago had been for years 
preparing for the advent of the railroad system, she had no 
hand in establishing that mighty series of links that now bind 
her with bands of iron to the world around her. Not only 
did the city furnish no aid, in its corporate capacity, to the 
improvements, to which hundreds of other cities and counties 
pledged themselves, but few of her citizens subscribed money, 
as individuals, to railroad enterprises. They were the sought, 
rather than the seekers. Eastern capital saw that Chicago was 
equally essential to the development of the West, as the West 
was necessary to the growth of the Garden City. They saw 
that the wealth of the West must flow through her, as the sand 
must run through the neck of an hour-glass, and subscribed 


their money to build those railroads that center in Chicago, not 
for love of the place, but because, as one of them naively re- 
marked, they "could not get around her," which was true in 
more senses than one. Hence it was comparatively easy for the 
city to grow mightily when the time arrived for it. Her mer- 
chants and business men needed enterprise and ability ; but the 
harvest lay at their feet, all ready to be gathered in, and the 
work of preparing the ground, sowing the seed, and tending 
the growing crop, had all been performed by others, who stood 
ready to do even more, as they saw profit in it to themselves. 

The parent line has been already named the Galena & Chi- 
casro line commenced in 1847. In 1850 it had reached El- 


gin, forty-two miles from Chicago, was completed to Freeport 
in September, 1853 (121 miles), and a portion of the Illinois 
Central extended the route to Galena, in 1854. 

The next important undertaking was the Illinois Central 
line, projected to extend from Chicago to Cairo, in the extreme 
southern point of the State, a distance of 365 miles, and from 
Central ia, on that line 112 miles from Cairo, north-west to the 
northern limit of the State, making a total of 704 miles of 
railroad. This road had its origin September 20, 1850, when 
Hon. Stephen A. Douglas secured the passage of an act by 
Congress, granting to the State of Illinois every alternate sec- 
tion of land to a distance of six miles on each side of the line 
of road, to aid in its construction. The original grant of laud 
was for 2,595,000 acres. 

On the 10th of February, 1851, the Illinois Central Railroad 
Company was chartered by the Legislature, and the lands trans- 
ferred to it on condition that the road should be built within a 
time specified, and that seven per cent, of the gross receipts of 
the line should be paid into the State treasury annually forever, 


after the road was finished. In 1852 the officers of the road 
obtained permission to enter the city along the lake shore from 
the southward, and immediately thereafter commenced the con- 
struction of the magnificent line of break-water two miles long, 
and costing "three-quarters of a million dollars, that now protects 
the south shore from the incursions of the lake, and has rescued 
many acres of ground from the wild waves. The total length 
of the piling since constructed is 16,459 feet. The inside line 
of the crib-works, south of Randolph Street, is four hundred 
feet east of the east line of Michigan Avenue, and was built in 
the lake for a distance of one mile. Most of that vacuum has 
since been filled in, and the great Union Depot was built on a 
portion of the ground thus rescued from the lake. 

After this in the order of beginning, but earlier in execution, 
and equally, if not more, important, was the double connection 
of Chicago with the East by rail. 

The Michigan Central was the first to approach the city. It 
was projected in 1842, and built in that year from Detroit to 
Ypsilanti in Michigan, being afterward extended to St. Joseph, 
which was for some time the terminus of rail travel from New 
York and BuflRilo westward. Travelers generally crossed the 
lake from St. Joseph to Chicago, and the former point was con* 
nected by stage with the moving end of the rail track as it 
approached from Detroit. In 1852 it was extended into 
Chicago, the last rail being laid May 21st. 

This was not, however, the first eastern road to make the 
connection. The people residing around the bend of the lake 
in northern Indiana, were ambitious at some time to have a 
line of rail running through their section from Toledo, and 
opposed the Michigan Central project with tooth and nail, as 
they believed that there would never be traffic enough to main- 


tain two competing lines. When, however, they found that 
they could not defeat it, they set vigorously to work to organ- 
ize the rival road, which, principally through their exertions, 
\vas completed to Chicago on the 20th of February, 1852. fully 
two months before its rival, and being the first after the Galena, 
to connect with the great railway center. 

Other roads followed in rapid succession, to which we shall 
refer presently, but they only helped the work already begun. 
The two eastern lines opened up channels along which the tide 
of emigration rolled so copiously that it was almost impossible 
to keep track of the movement, which was invited by the fact 
that the whole State of Illinois was also made accessible by rail 
to the emigrants who now thronged in from every part of 
Europe. How much Chicago grew under the impetus thus 
given, is shown in the fact that her population increased from 
38,734 souls in 1852, to 59,139 in 1853, a gain of 52J per cent, 
in a single year. The official valuation of property, real and 
personal, exhibited a corresponding' augment, being about 
$10,460,000 in 1852, and $16,841,831 a year afterward. 

That the development of the country beyond proceeded with 
equal rapidity, is proven by a comparison of the produce trade 
of the city one year later; the soil could not bear fruit till a 
year after it was first cultivated. The receipts of grain (flour 
reduced to its equivalent in wheat) were 6,473,809 bushels in 
1853, and nearly two and a half times as much, or 15,726,968 
bushels, in 1854. And the increase in the receipts of 1853 
over those of 1852, were fully 50 per cent. The grain ship- 
ments of 1853 were double, and those of 1854 were four times 
greater than those of 1848, the year when the canal was first 
opened to traffic. 
1 The business of hog packing was equally stimulated. In the 


winter of 1851-2 the number of hogs cut up was 22,036; in 
1852-3 it was 44,156; in 1853-4 it amounted to 52,849. And 
25,431 cattle were packed in the last-named year. 

The lines above mentioned were but a portion of the great 
system soon to acknowledge Chicago as its radial point. 

The Galena & Chicago Union Company had obtained a 
charter as early as 1848 for a branch of their road to connect 
Belvidere with Madison, Wisconsin, by way of Beloit. The 
Illinois & Wisconsin Railroad Company was incorporated in 

1851, and these two were soon merged into one, the whole 
being in 1855 combined with the Fond du Lac branch from 
Janesville, to form what has since been known as the North- 
western Road, which in 1864 swallowed up its parent, the old 
Galena & Chicago Union. The line from Chicago to Mil- 
waukee was built in 1854. This system of railroads opened up 
to Chicago the trade of the whole of the country then settled 
north of a line drawn due west from the city. 

The Chicago & Rock Island Railroad was commenced in 
April, 1852, and finished to the Mississippi, 182 miles distant, 
in February, 1854. Then followed the line from Chicago to 
St. Louis, the part from Springfield to Alton being built in 
1853, and that from Joliet to Springfield in 1854, the track of 
-the Rock Island road being used as far as Joliet till 1857, when 
an independent line was constructed between the two cities. 
The Chicago, Burlington & Qnincy road was completed to 
Aurora, thirteen miles westward, in 1852, and to Mendota, on 
the Illinois Central, in 1853, this line being then consolidated 
in 1856 with previously independent roads to the Mississippi. 
The Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago road, furnishing a third 
route to the East, was last on the list. It was incorporated in 

1852, but not finished till November, 1856. 


It appears, then, that all the main lines which entered the city 
at the date of the great conflagration, except one (the Pittsburgh 
& Cincinnati), were built \vithin about four years from the time 
that Chicago was h'rst connected with the East by rail. And 
not only this, but in the early part of that period nearly all the 
extensions and connections, since perfected, were planned, and 
most of them have been carried out as originally designed. 
Among those then contemplated it is sufficient to mention the 
lines now connecting with Minnesota, the three lines across the 
State of Iowa and their prolongation into the Great Pacific 
Railroad, and the road across northern Missouri, with steam- 
boat connections on the Mississippi at all points touched or 
crossed by the iron rail. These four years are pre-eminently 
entitled to be called the railroad era, and the five years follow- 
ing 1852 were the most prosperous in the history of the city up 
to that time. 

In January, 1852, there was only about 40 miles of railroad 
connected with Chicago. By the end of 1853 the mileage was 
1785. At the close of 1854 it had increased to 2436J miles, 
and to 3953 miles in 1857. These figures do not include the 
length of independent lines connecting with Chicago roads. 
For instance, the Michigan Southern & Northern Indiana is 
not measured beyond Toledo. 



"\X7~E have already seen how wondrotisly the population and 
* " commerce of the city grew during the first year after the 
introduction of the railroad era. That ratio of over fifty per 
cent, was scarcely sustained through each following year, up to 
the crisis of 1857, but the growth of the city in every respect" 
was rapid enough during the whole of that period to satisfy the 
most sanguine. 

The grain trade of the city was wonderfully stimulated. In 
1852, the united capacity of all the grain warehouses was 
scarcely more than 750,000 bushels, and the only steam eleva- 
tor was one built by R. C. Bristol. In 1857 there were no 
less than twelve elevators, having an invested capital of 
$3,087,000, with a storage capacity of 4,095,000 bushels, and 
a capacity to receive and ship of 495,000 bushels per day. The 
great year for elevator building was in 1854, when Chicago had 
passed St. Louis in the contest for superiority as a grain mar- 
ket a position she ever after retained. The receipts at St. 
Louis in 1853 were 5,081,468 bushels; in Chicago the receipts 
were 6,473,089 bushels of grain of all kinds. In 1854, the 
exports of grain from Chicago exceeded those of New York 
by 3,471,975 bushels, and were nearly double those of St. Pe- 
tersburg, Archangel, or Odessa, the largest grain markets in 

It is a singular fact that, although the commerce of the city 
took such rapid strides, the Board of Trade, since the great 
channel through which the produce business of the city is trans- 
acted, was little better than a figure head during the whole of 


this period. In 1853, the Secretary was instructed to pro- 
vide a daily set-out of crackers, cheese, and ale, as an induce- 
ment to the members to attend; and though this was afterward 
discontinued, it was judged necessary to revive it in 1855, as 
an attendance could be obtained in no other way. The Board 
grew in membership, but ks members preferred to transact 
their business in their own stores, or in the streets, with the 
parties who came in from the country with produce. They had 
not yet learned the art of trading with one another, and as 
every tub then stood on its own bottom, they cared little for 
that comparison of views without which little is bought or sold 
at the present day. 

"We find the Board very useful, however, in another .capacity. 
It was great on resolutions. In 1853 it advocated the estab- 
lishment of a monster bank, with a capital of five millions of 
dollars, to accommodate the trade of Chicago. In 1854 it took 
action on the improvement of the Illinois River, the dredging 
out of the harbor, building additional piers, erecting a light- 
house (built in 1855), and instituted a most important reform in 
the selling of grain by weight, instead of by the half-bushel meas- 
ure, as formerly. In 1855 action was taken in reference to the 
Ge'orgiau Bay Canal, and the reciprocity treaty with Canada. 
In this year it was found necessary to employ a doorkeeper to 
keep out non-members who were attracted by the creature :om- 
forts on the table at the end of the hall. In 1856 the Board 
provided standards for the inspection of grain and lumber int(/ 
different grades, and had increased in membership so much thai 
it was found necessary to rent rooms on the corner of South 
Water and Lasalle Streets, at $1,000 per annum. 

The following table of the movement of the principal arti- 
cles of produce, etc., in 1852, '54, and '56, will show the rate 


at which the commerce of the city grew during this period. 
The shipments of wheat and flour were greater in 1857 than 
in 1856, but the exhibit was not so large in other departments: 





Flour received, bbls. 

. 124,316 



Wheat M bu.. 

. 937,4% 



Corn " " . 

. 2,991,011 



Grain " " . 

. 4,195,192 



Grain shipped, " . 

. 5,873,141 



Hogs received, 

. 65,158 



Hogs packed, . 

. 44,156 



Cattle "... 

. 24,663 



Lumber received, M. 

. 147,816 



Hides u No. 

. 25,893 



Stone " ca. yds. . 

. 40,752 



Coal " tons, . 

. 46,233 



Lead " " 




Vessels arrived, 

. [not stated.] 5,021 


Tonnage of do. 




Population, . 

. 38,734 



In the last named year the live stock trade had increased so 
much as to necessitate the establishment of the Sherman Yards, 
at Cottage Grove, containing some thirty acres, and capable of 
accommodating 5000 head of cattle, and 30,000 hogs. Previous 
to this, the business had all been conducted at the Bull's Head, 
on the corner of Madison Street and Ashland Avenue, which 
was established in 1 848. That site is now occupied by the Wash- 
ingtonian Home for the reformation of drunkards. 

The year 1856 was memorable as the one in which the Dean 
Richmond, of 387 tons burden, arrived at Liverpool, direct from 

The wholesale trade of the city increased in a ratio corre- 


spending with her produce movement. The railroads and the 
canal not only brought in grain and the other products of the 
farm, but they carried out immense quantities of merchandise, 
and by the aid of a judicious drummer system, Chicago mer- 
chants soon supplied hundreds of square miles of territory *vith 
goods, from which they obtained only money in return. The 
drummer system has recently been found fault with as ex- 
pensive, and abandoned, to a great extent; but whatever its 
faults, it certainly did much to open up the eyes of the West- 
ern people to the fact that Chicago was prepared to compete 
with New York, both in regard to quality and price, and she 
soon carried off the palm. 

In 1852, the commerce of the city was estimated at $20,000,- 
000; in 1853, at nearly $30,000,000 ;,in 1856, at $85,000,- 
000. Governor Matteson stated in his message in 1852, that 
there were then 211 wholesale houses in the city. This was 
not true, however, in the sense we now understand the term. 
There were scarcely a dozen real wholesalers. In 1856, the 
number had increased seven or eight fold. 


TN 1850 the manufactures of the city were very limited. The 
-- total annual product of Cook County, of which Chicago 
formed by far the largest portion, was returned at $2,562,583 
on a capital of $1,068,025 and employing 2081 workers. 

In 1852 there was still but little done in the way of manu- 
facturing, but the next year this department of activity assumed 
large proportions. 


In his commercial Review for 1853, "Mr. Bross mentions the 
Chicago Locomotive Company, formed in September, 1853, 
with a capital stock of $150,000, and the completion in that 
year of the "Enterprise," the first locomotive built here, with 
two other engines; the American Car Company, which com- 
menced business in 1853, turning out 450,000 worth of work 
in the first year, and employing some 260 hands; the Union 
Car Works of A. B. Stone & Co., and the bridge-yard of Stone 
& Boomer, the work of the two firms in 1853 being 250 freight, 
30 passenger, and 10 baggage cars, 10 bridges and 19 turnr 
tables; the Illinois Stone and Lime Company; the marble- 
works of H. & O. Wilson, with an annual business of $15,000; 
the making of three million bricks; the operations of five firms 
engaged in the manufacture of carriages and wagons, and ag- 
gregating a yearly business of $117,000; five furniture facto- 
ries; the Chicago Oil-mill, with a capital of $25,000; several 
soap and candle factories; four machine-shops, with an annual 
business of $270,000; three leather-factories, employing 107 
men; two stove-foundries; and two firms engaged in making 
reapers and mowers, employing 195 men. Besides these, he 
speaks of hats and caps, clothing, boots and shoes, fur goods, 
harness, trunks, saddlery, etc. The statement for 1853 was 
a large one, but it was far exceeded the next year, and each 
euccessive twelve months to the close of 1856, when the work 
of three years previous had been increased nearly tenfold. In 
that year the value of the manufactures was $15,515,063, turned 
out on a capital of $7,759,400, by 10,573 operatives. Among 
th(se, iron works, steam-engines, etc., took the lead, with 2,866 
workers, and a product of $3,887,084. Next came the manu- 
facture of drinks, employing 165 persons, and turning out 
$1,150,320 annually. Next were agricultural implements, with 


575 workers, $1,134,300 worth of product, and then mills for 
planing lumber and making sash, doors, etc., with 554 workers 
and $1,092,397 worth of product. We find also the following 
items: furniture, $543,000; bricks, $712,000; cooperage, etc., 
$357,250; leather, $432,000, and stone and marble, $896,775. 
The general progress was materially aided by the passage of a 
general banking act in January, 1853, which enabled the issue 
of bank notes in the State, after a pecuniary interregnum of 
more than ten years. The Marine Bank (J. Y. Scammon) was 
the first to organize under the act. The next year there were 
not less than nine banks of issue in the city, besides eight pri- 
vate bankers. The total bank-circulation in 1853 was $760,000, 
and in 1854 was $3,759,000, principally based on Illinois stocks. 
During the next three years the banks were exceedingly pros- 
perous,, and the abundance of currency helped largely to stimu- 
late the unnatural inflation of that period. 



WITH such a tremendous forward march in commerce and 
manufactures, the aspect of the city could not be other- 
wise than completely revolutionized. The limits were extended 
in 1853, and again in 1854, the boundaries becoming Fullerton 
Avenue on the north, Thirty-first Street on the south, Western 
Avenue on the west, and one mile beyond the lake-shore on 
the east. From this quadrilateral was excepted Bridgeport and 
Holston, on the two western corners. 

The city had previously been provided with gas in 1850. 


The next step was to procure a good supply of water. In 
April and August, 1852, bonds were issued to the amount* of 
$400,000, from the sale of which $361,280 was realized, and 
the work proceeded with, though not without opposition from 
the Hydraulic Company. A timber crib was built out 600 feet 
from the shore, near the site of the present pumping works, 
and the water ran thence into a well, twenty feet deep, whence 
it was pumped up by an engine of 200-horse power to the top 
of'a cast-iron column 140 feet high. A reservoir was subse- 
quently built in each division of the city to hold a night's sup- 
ply; that in the South Division was erected in 1854. The 
water was first introduced into the houses in February, 1854. 
The supply from these works was estimated to be equal to that 
required by a population of 100,000; the cost of construction 
was about 335,000. 

The next important public improvement was drainage. The 
city was visited by cholera, in its worst form, in 1854, not less 
than 931 deaths occurring in July, or one in 71 of the entire 
population. The mortality of the year was 3,830, or one in 17. 
It was soon reasoned out that a thorough drainage would prob- 
ably prevent the recurrence of such a terrible visitation in the 
future, and since that important work was undertaken the 
cholera has only appeared once (in 1866), and then in a very 
mild form. But here a great difficulty presented itself. In 
the suburbs the soil averaged 11 to 14 feet above the lowest 
lake-level; but in the more densely-populated portions the 
water sometimes rose to within three feet of the surface, as in 
1848, and any thing like a sloping drain was impossible. The 
deficiency must be supplied. In 1855 a grade was established 
raising the surface about four feet, and that grade was after- 
ward raised, the filling in being as much as six or seven feet 


in some places, above the original level. Even the improved 
grade has been found fault with, as not giving sufficient base- 
ment room, and the burnt district in the South Division has 
been raised by ordinance two to three feet higher. It wilt be 
rebuilt with the sidewalk lines 14 to 15 feet above the low- 
water mark of 1847. 

The first street filling of consequence was done in 1856, the 
material used being the sand and mud dredged up from the bot- 
tom of the river or pared from its banks, as the channel was 
widened and deepened to meet the needs of a growing lake 
traffic. Previous to this, the north bank had been a sloping, 
sedgy marsh. The Court-house square and the neighboring 
streets were filled to grade in this way. Subsequently the 
numerous excavations for cellars and basements supplied all the 
filling required, and left some to spare to make new ground 
eastward of Michigan Avenue. 

About six miles of sewers had been constructed up to March, 
1854. After the grade had been established, so that a suffi- 
cient slope could be obtained, the work of drainage proceeded 
more rapidly, and most of the more thickly-settled portions of 
the city were sewered by the middle of 1857. The work of 
making good streets proceeded more slowly. About twenty-seven 
miles of planking had been laid down to the close of 1854, and 
a little more was added subsequently, but it made a wretched 
road-way. Even State and Madison Streets were impassable in 
the spring, the planks having been broken up by heavy loads, 
and required constant repairs to permit even an empty wagon 
to proceed. The condition of many other leading thoroughfares 
was simply detestable. As late as 1857, it was impossible to ride 
along Dearborn or Clark Streets near Monroe, and the baggage 
of persons arriving in the city by rail, would often lie in the 


depot for several days together, because it could not be hauled 
through the miry streets. About this time the cobble-stone 
pavement was introduced sparingly; and in 1856 was laid the 
first square of the wooden- block pavement, which has since 
been used almost to the exclusion of every thing else as a road- 

The dredging out of the river was followed by the improve- 
ment of its banks. Not less than five miles of dockage was 
constructed, while the pier was run out still further, that step 
being rendered necessary by the continual accretion of sand 
brought down by the north-east current in the lake, and a 
light-house was built in 1855, at a distance of 1950 feet east 
from the point from which the pier was first put down. This 
pier is on the north side of the channel. The breakwater of 
the Illinois Central Railroad, previously mentioned, formed an 
adequate protection to the south shore. 

Other city improvements were carried out, in great numbers. 
Several additional bridges were thrown across the river. The 
small buildings which had been erected in the corners of the 
Court-house square, in the earlier days, were displaced by a City 
Hall, built in the center of the plat in 1853, that was enlarged 
in 1858, and the old Bridewell building on Polk Street, near 
the river, was put up for the occupancy of offenders against the 
peace and dignity of the city. The Recorder's Court was es- 
tablished in 1853, and in 1855 the police force of fifty-four 
men was first organized for day duty; they had previously been 
nothing more than night watchmen. They were now divided 
into three bodies, corresponding to each of the three divisions 
of the city, and placed in the three market halls structures 
long since swept away by the remorseless hand of progress. 
The South Division Market Hall stood at the north end of 


State Street, and -was abolished in 1858 ; the West Division 
Market stood on West Randolph Street, near Desplaines, and 
was pulled down in 1864 or '65. The North Market Hall, on 
Dearborn near Kinzie, stood till the time of the fire, but had 
long been disused. These three buildings were of brick, and 
designed to be of great accommodation to the public. They were 
soon found to be nuisances, and were abolished accordingly. 

The educational system of the city was thoroughy reorgan- 
ized to meet the growing wants of the juvenile population. The 
Franklin and Washington schools the fourth and fifth erected 
had been established in 1851. The Foster branch, and the 
Rollingmill school were added in 1855; the Mosely and Og- 
den were added in 1856 ; and the important addition was 
made of a high school for the further instruction of the best 
pupils in the grammar departments. In 1857 the Brown and 
Foster were added to the list at a cost of $28,000 each, making 
a total of eleven schools, with an average daily attendance of 
3354, out of an enrollment of 10,786 pupils for that year. 
The first public evening school was established in the autumn 
of 1856, in the North Market Hall. At this time it was es- 
timated that Chicago contained about 17,100 children of school 
age, of which 8306 were enrolled as pupils in the public schools, 
and 4400 were found in attendance in fifty-six private schools, 
leaving about 4400 unprovided for. 

In 1854, the public schools were first organized by classify- 
ing the pupils according to their merits, as ascertained by set 
examinations. This important step was taken under the rule 
of John C. Dore, appointed in May, as the first Superintendent 
of Public Schools. The same year the office of School Trus- 
tee was abolished, and the Board of Education took entire 
charge of the schools. Under the new rule the High School 


was constructed from the newly discovered marble, found at 
Athens, in the southern part of the county ; it was for some 
years the most handsome structure in the city. In March 1856, 
Mr: Dore resigned, and \V. H. Wells succeeded as Superin- 
tendent. He was the author of the graded course of instruc- 
tion which is still in use, with a few modifications, in the 
schools of Chicago, as well as in thousands of others in the 
United States. The Board of Education was reorganized in 
1857, and the number of members increased to fifteen. 

The Chicago Reform School was opened in November, 1856, 
for the reception of boys who were either without parents, 
or needed special care to prevent them from becoming vicious 

A still higher class of instruction was also liberally provided 
for during this period. The Catholic University (St. Mary of 
the Lake), established in 1844, was the only one in the city 
previous to the railroad era. In 1852, the North-western 
(Methodist Episcopal) University was originated, and removed 
the next year to Evanston, twelve miles north of the city. 
The Garrett Biblical Institute was organized in 1855, and also 
located at Evanston. The University of Chicago (Baptist) was 
founded in 1855, Stephen A. Douglas donating the land on 
which the buildings were subsequently erected. The Congre- 
gationalist Theological Seminary, near Union Park, and the 
Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in the North Division, 
were founded subsequently. 

This brings us to the churches, which exhibit an equally sur- 
prising increase. In 1852, and the five following years, we 
find springing into existence the following societies: Methodist, 
7 (one African); Presbyterian, 3; Catholic, 7; Episcopal, 3; 
Baptist, 4; Congregational, 4; Universalist, 1; Swedenbor- 


gian, 1; German Evangelical, 2; Swedish Evangelical, 1; .Re- 
formed Dutch, 1 ; Mariner's Bethel, 1. Total, 35. 

The Young Men's Library Association was incorporated in 
1857, and the rooms, located on Washington Street, formed a 
much prized gathering place for the intellectual cultivation of its 
members; the library was a good one. The Mechanics Insti- 
tute was also organized about the same time, and succeeded in 
gathering a valuable library, but died out through internal 
dissensions. The Chicago Historical Society was organized in 
1856, with nineteen members, occupying rooms on the corner 
of Wells and Kinzie Streets. The Academy of Sciences was 
founded in 1857, and the formation of a museum commenced, 
on the south-east corner of Clark and Lake Streets. 

Rice's Theater, established in 1847, burned down in 1849-50, 
and reopened on the 1st of February, 1851, was the only the- 
ater in which English plays were presented, till August 4, 
1855, when Levi J. North opened one on Monroe Street, near 
Wells, the building having been undertaken by Mr. N. while 
he was visiting the place with his circus, in the preceding 
April. In 1856 the place was rebuilt as an amphitheater, and 
a year afterward changed back to the theater form. It was 
finally closed in 1859, having never paid expenses. McVick- 
er's Theater was opened November 5, 1857. 

In 1852 the favorite concert-room was the old Metropolitan 
Hall, on the corner of Randolph and Lasalle Streets. This 
was soon superseded by a room in the Tremont House, where 
Adelina Patti sung in 1854, and several other notables after- 
ward. In 1852 a German society opened a small hall as a 
theater, on West Randolph Street, near Canal, and this being 
burned down, they took a room over a blacksmith's shop, on 
Dearborn Street, Washington, in 1853-4, which was for a long 


time sacred to the combined shades of Thespis and Gambrinus. 
In 1855 the same society built the German Theater, on the 
corner of North Wells and Indiana Streets, and there gave the 
first purely musical entertainment ever presented in Chicago. 

Two newspapers were added during this period to the then 
limited press list of Chicago. The Democratic Press was estab- 
lished in 1852 by Messrs. Bross, Scripps & Spears, and was the 
first paper in the city to give attention to the commercial impor- 
tance of the place, and open a column in which the markets were 
reported. In June, 1854, the Young America was started, but 
changed to the Chicago Times two months afterward, under the 
proprietorship of Cook, Cameron & Co. J. W. Sheahan be- 
came editor in 1856. 

Previous to 1852 there were scarcely more than sixty build- 
ings in the city constructed of brick or stone; nearly all were 
wooden structures, and grouped within a short distance of the 
intersection of State and Madison Streets, the two principal sec- 
tion lines. Up to this time the great majority of the inhabitants 
did not regard themselves as settlers ; they belonged elsewhere, 
and their buildings were of the cheapest kind, made after the 
pattern of the old balloon frame first raised in 1832. After the 
introducti<fb of railroads, the people understood better the value 
of the position, which was brought home to their minds by the 
fact of a much larger tax list, and they began to make more 
permanent improvements. In 1854, not less than twenty -five 
millions of bricks were used, mostly in building, and fifty mil- 
lions in 1856, while the receipts of stone rose from 19,901 
cubic yards, in 1851, to 122,842 yards in 1857. Of course the 
principal portion of this material was used in the older districts, 
working a great change in the aspect of the business parts of 
the city. Lake, South Water, and Randolph Streets, and even 


Washington, with the cross streets, as far south as Madison, 
rapidly took on the more solid phase, while the north* side near 
the river shared in this change. Meanwhile the lumber piles 
were drawn upon more extensively than ever for the construc- 
tion of wooden buildings in the outskirts, and all the leading 
thoroughfares to a distance of two miles out, in each direction 
from the Court-house, were thickly strewn with the evidences 
of civilization. Indeed, in 1855, building had become almost a 
mania, every street being blocked up with bricks or lumber, or 
with the wooden structures themselves, which were being 
moved out to the suburbs to make room for more imposing 
architectural piles in the places where the trade of the city cen- 
tered. That year, 1855, was the one in which house-moving 
first became a business in Chicago. 

The year 1856 witnessed the erection of 7 churches, 5 hotels, 
the City Armory, City Hospital, and High School, 145 stores, 
many of which were five stories high, and several hundred 
residences, about 2000 of which were in the West Division. 
The cost of these improvements was as follows: business 
blocks, $1,781,900; residences, $1,164,190; hotels, $315,000; 
churches, seminaries, etc., $311,000 ; other buildings, $1,500,000 ; 
city improvements, $427,434. Total, $5,708,624. In 1857 the 
total amounted to $6,423,518, of which $1,940,000 was for 
business blocks and buildings; $869,000 for first-class resi- 
dences; and $204,000 for churches. The cost of the improve- 
ments effected in the four years ending with 1857, was 
318,306,300, and from 1852 to 1857, inclusive, over twenty 
millions of dollars. 

In 1856 these buildings were lighted with 60,000,000 cubic 
feet of gas. There were nearly 600 street lamps, and 2500 
private consumers. 


Of course the selling value of property rose rapidly under this 
tide of commerce and improvement. At a moderate estimate it 
increased fully two and three-quarter times, between 1852 and 
1857. Indeed, a perfect real-estate mania ensued after the 
departure of the cholera in 1854, which involved nearly every 
one in the city, and was almost a second edition of the specula- 
tive days of twenty years previously. Nor was the mania 
confined to the resident population. During that year, and 
the two following, a - large part of the country around the city 
was sub-divided up by real estate dealers, and plats were ex- 
hibited in all the eastern cities, where almost fabulous sums were 
realized on lots that have not even yet been occupied some of 
them under water, out in Lake Michigan, or in the swamps of 
Calumet. It was enough to say that a piece of land was in the 
neighborhood of Chicago to make it salable at almost any price 
asked for it, and thousands of men and women at the East in- 
vested their savings in so-called Chicago lots. Such an over- 
strain could not last long ; the true values of real estate were 
discounted too far into the future. 

The following shows the official valuation of property in the 
city during this period, with the city taxation : 

Year. Heal. Personal. Total. Taxes. 

1852, $8,189,069 $2,272,645 $10,461,714 $76,949 

1853, 13,130,177 3,711,154 16,841,831 135,663 

1855, 21,637,500 5,355,393 26,992,893 206,209 

1856, 25,892,308 5,843,776 31,736,084 396,652 

In 1856 the area of the city was about 18 square miles; this 
would give on a one-third valuation a total value of $8,260 per 
acre, or about $1,130 worth of property to each of the 84,113 
residents of the city. 



TN September, 1857, the bubble burst. A wave of distrust 
-*- throbbed across the bosom of the hitherto placid sea of 
universal confidence, and there was a storm that stayed not its 
course till it had laid thousands of business houses in ruins, and 
effected an immense reduction of prices and profits, of capital 
and production, throughout the world. 

The full effects of this storm were felt in Chicago, but it is 
due to her as a city to say that the unstable inflation that 
resulted in such wide-spread disaster, was not only not confined 
to that city, but had not even its origin there. The Genius of 
speculation had o'erspread the whole land with his wings, and 
the lurid shadow was even deeper at the East than at the West. 
Even the undue expansion in Western real estate had its origin 
in the East, and it was the capital of the seaboard that formed 
the basis on which those values were bid up by dwellers on the 
Atlantic slope. The great mass of the Western people were 
nobly doing their duty through that period of inflation, bending 
all their energies to the cultivation of the soil, or the distribu- 
tion of its products to those who needed them. A comparatively 
small number were engaged in the blowing process, which has 
been unjustly described as peculiarly a Chicago institution. 
The great break-up began at the East, and was most severely 
felt there, as its effects were also the most lasting in that region. 
Indeed, it was the West that ultimately righted the whole con- 
tinent by its strength, as it had been the occasion, not the cause, 
of the panic that wrought such wide-spread ruin. 

But Chicago suffered and deeply. The first effect was felt 
in the value of money. The circulating medium in Chicago 

THE PANIC OF 1857. 95 

was principally based on Illinois and Wisconsin stocks, many 
of which suuk to seventy cents on the dollar within a week 
after mutual confidence was destroyed by Eastern failures. 
The Chicago banks continued to take this currency at nominal 
par, but their par was never less than ten, and generally fifteen 
per cent- below the par that would obtain specie on presenta- 
tion of the paper at a bank counter. St. Louis, like New 
York, kept up to the gold par, and in so doing blocked the 
wheels of her commerce so effectually that she occupied several 
more years than did Chicago in recovering from the shock. 

The Chicago banks generally redeemed their circulation in 
coin, though the Eastern distrust in the wheat-crop (which had 
been pronounced a failure) caused a very general withdrawal of 
Eastern currency that had been sent out to move the crops, and 
left them bare. The Chicago merchants were equally honora- 
ble. When they found that they could not get Eastern ex- 
change to pay their indebtedness, they bought the wheat which 
New York men had refused, sent it East, and thus made ex- 
change for themselves. Chicago business men really stood by 
each other nobly through that crisis; and hence, though there 
was wide-spread loss, there was but little failure. The num- 
ber of Chicago houses that yielded up the ghost was very small, 
while hundreds of Eastern houses of a century's standing went 
down with a crash before the howling blast. 

But if general business was only staggered, speculation was 
destroyed. The effects on the real-estate market were fearful, 
and the building business suffered correspondingly. The de- 
preciation of prices in corner lots was great in the winter of 
1857, but it was much greater in 1858 and 1859, as payments 
matured which could not be met. A large proportion of the 
real estate in the city had been bought on canal time the same 


terras as those on which Dr. Egan used to prescribe his pills 
in moments of abstractedness one-quarter down, and the bal- 
ance in one, two, and three years. They had depended upon a 
continual advance in quoted values to meet those payments, and 
found that they could not even sell at a ruinous sacrifice. Great 
numbers of workers left the city for want of employment, and 
those who remained were obliged to go into narrowed quarters 
to reduce expenses. This caused a great many residences and 
stores to be vacated, and brought about a reduction in rents on 
those still occupied, which impoverished even those who were 
able to hold on to their property. Many hundreds of lots and 
houses were abandoned by those who had made only partial pay- 
ments, and the holders of mortgages needed no snap-judgment 
to enable them to take possession. 

A stop was at once put to the erection of buildings. Several 
blocks were left unfinished for years, and some commenced were 
never finished by the original owners. As an instance of the 
severe loss entailed in this direction, we may cite the case of 
Alexander -Lloyd, Mayor of Chicago in 1840. He was worth 
$75,000 in 1857, and on the strength of that borrowed $50,000 
to erect an iron-front building on the north-west corner of Lake 
and Wells Streets. The walls were almost up when the crash 
came. He was obliged to suspend, lost his title to the land and 
building, and died, some years afterward, an object of charity. 
His poor widow was knocked down, in 1871, by a runaway 
horse in the West Division, and died the next day. 



this time till the breaking out of the^war of the re- 
bell ion, in 1861, the city was almost stationary. There 
was a slight increase in the population and in the volume of 
Lusiness, but, as compared with the five or six years preceding 
the panic, the progress was exceedingly slow. A succession of 
bad crops made the West poor, and limited its commerce so 
much that Chicago was nearly at a stand-still. 

But though poor, the people of Chicago neither lost faith nor 
tnergy. If new buildings were not wanted in great numbers 
to accommodate an increasing population, the old ones needed 
to be rejuvenated and replaced by better structures, against the 
time when all felt there would be a general revival. The peo- 
ple acted, as a whole, like the individual merchant who employs 
his spare time in taking account of stock, noting deficiencies, 
and putting his store in order, so that he can attend to business 
all the better when it does come. 

The plan for raising the grade of the city, so as to procure an 
efficient drainage, adopted in 1855 and pressed forward in 1856 
and 1857, was carried out vigorously during the years 1859 and 
1860. Three men deserve honorable mention in this connec- 
tion: E. S. Chesborough, who suggested the raising of the 
grade, and carried it through in spite of all opposition ; Harry 
Fox, whose machines straightened out the river and harbor, 
and carried the sand and mud into the streets to change the 
grade; and George M. Pullman, since better known as the 
sleeping-car patentee, who began the work of lifting up bodily 
the buildings that had previously been erected on a lower grade 
}ine. Mr. Pullman began in 1859, and soon had the Matteson 


and Tremont Hotels, a long line of ponderous w -.rehouses on 
South Water Street, and of wholesale stores on Lake Street, 
lifted up by jack-screws, and made permanently higher by 
bringing up substantial masonry or brickwork from below. 
Other contractors were at work in this direction, but we believe 
Mr. Pullman was the first to show how a whole block of brick 
or stone could be lifted up, with all its contents, without even 
disturbing the operations of business inside, just as well as the 
smaller wooden structures that had been taken in hand by others. 

This wholesale rising up out of the prairie mud gained for 
Chicago a notoriety equal to that she had attained by virtue of 
her commercial importance. The journals of the East and of 
Europe were burdened with descriptions of the wonderful city, 
which was achieving a feat almost equal to that performed by 
the man who lifted himself up by tugging at his boot-straps. 
This, too, was the epoch of uneven sidewalks, about which the 
Eastern papers used to be as facetious as they were subsequently 
over the odors of the Chicago River. It used to be reported 
that when the genuine Chicagoan visited New York he found 
himself unable to walk on a level surface ; he was obliged to 
turn into the adjacent buildings, every half block or so, and 
run up and down a stairway, for the sake of variety. It was, 
indeed, a period of npheaval of the most unpleasant kind for 
pedestrians, as the single buildings here and there were raised 
to grade, and the sidewalk in front lifted to correspond, while 
those on either side were on the old level, a yard or more below. 
How the drunken men of that epoch managed to stumble home 
at night without breaking their necks, is a mystery yet un- 
solved. It took a long time to bring up the buildings to a 
uniform height in the business portions of the city. 

While the greater number of the buildings were simply 


raised, a large proportion of the wooden buildings were moved 
away on rollers to the suburbs, and their places supplied by 
noble piles of brick or stone, built to the new grade. Mean- 
while the streets were gradually filled up and sewered, and 
supplied with pipes for water and gas; and then the people 
began to wish for a better roadway than was supplied by the 
old planking method. Many of the leading thoroughfares were 
covered with macadam, most of the stone for which was broken 
by the prisoners in the Bridewell, though a crushing-mill was 
also used at the quarries near the corner of Indiana Street and 
Western Avenue. The cobble-stone pavement was tried on 
several streets, especially Lake and State. The wooden-block 
pavement was more slowly introduced. A small piece of about 
800 square yards was laid in 1856 on Wells Street, between 
Lake and South Water, and another piece in 1857 on Washing- 
ton Street, between Clark and Lasalle. The experiment proved 
a success, and Clark Street was paved from Lake to Polk, in 
1858-9; East Lake Street was paved with it in 1861. Since 
then it has been the favorite, and used on all the principal 
thoroughfares, as fast as they have been filled and improved. 

Previous to 1859 the omnibus was the only available vehicle 
for those who could not command an exclusive conveyance. 
In that year the Chicago City Railway Company laid down rails 
on State from Lake Street south to the city limits, on Madison 
west to Reuben Street, and on Randolph Street nearly to the 
city limits. The same jiear the North Chicago City Railway 
Company laid rails on north Clark Street from the river 
to the city limits; also on Larrabee Street and Clybourne 
Avenue. On these lines horse cars have been run daily ever 
since, with but slight interruptions for repairs, and several ex- 
tensions have been made to the system then established. 



The wholesale trade and manufactures of the city, grew much 
more rapidly during this period than did its produce business. 
The crops of 1857 and '58 were poor, and the farmers had less 
ability to purchase than heretofore; but the merchants of Chi- 
cago were enterprising enough to try to extend their business 
over a wider area, and by their efforts the city daily grew in 
favor with the western buyers, many of whom had previously 
procured all their supplies from New York. 

The Custom-house and post-office was built by the United 
States Government in 18589. 

The population was about 93,000 in 1857. The next year 
it had fallen to 80,000, principally owing to the exodus of 
workers out of employment. In 1859 the depletion was par- 
tially recovered from, the population being about 90,000, and 
in 1860 the census showed a total of 109,263 persons in the 
city. The valuations of property exhibited about the same pro- 
portion of increase, being $31,736,084 in 1856, and $37,053,512 
in I860 an augment of nearly 17 per cent, in four years. 

The following table shows the movement of the produce busi- 
ness during this period : 

Grain received, bu. 
Grain shipped, 
Hogs received, 
Hogs packed, 
Cattle received, ,. 
Cattle packed, 4 
Flour man' ft, bbls. 
Lumber received, M. 
Wool received, Ibs. 
Canal tolls, . 


1857. . 

















































The manufactures of the city had equaled a total product 
valued at $15,515,063, in 1856. In 1860 the United States 
census gave a total of $13,555,671, employing 5593 workers, 
on an invested capital of $5,571,025, for Cook County. Of this 
amount, about $11,740,684 worth of products was manufactured 
in Chicago on a capital of $5,422,225. 

During 1858, and the three following years, a total of sixteen 
new churches were built, and the Young Men's Christian Asso- 
ciation organized, March 28, 1858, which has since been a 
wonderful power for good. The Newberry and Skinner schools 
were erected in the North and "West Divisions, in 1859, and the 
same year young ladies were first appointed head assistants in 
the public schools. In 1860 the graded course of instruction 
was introduced by Superintendent Wells. The number of 
pupils enrolled in the public schools at the end of each year 
was as follows: 8577 in 1856; 10,786 in 1857; 12,873 in 1858; 
14,199 in 1859; and 16,441 in 1860, of whom 15,159 were 
under fifteen years of age. In 1860 there were about 7750 
children attending private schools, and it was estimated that 
not less than 3000 of school age were totally unprovided with 


the 14th of April, 1861, the first gun was fired on Fort 
Sumter, which was evacuated by the United States troops 
on the next day. Quick as the lightning flashed the intelligence 
over the wires, was the response made in every part of the land, 
and in none more heartily than in Chicago. From the work- 


shop and the desk, men rushed forth to form companies and 
regiments for the war, even before the Government asked their 
services. The scenes in the streets will not soon be forgotten. 

On the 19th of April a telegram was received from Governor 
Yates, by Brigadier-General R. K. Swift, notifying him to raise 
an armed force as quickly as possible. At 11 o'clock on the 
21st, the General left Chicago with a force of 595 men and 
four six-pounder pieces of artillery. Among these were the 
Chicago Light Artillery, and Companies A and B, Chicago 
Zouaves. This force instantly went on guard duty at Cairo, and 
zealously enough, for their hearts were in the work, but it is 
nevertheless true that they did much more harm to themselves at 
first than to the rebels, as many of the men were totally unaccus- 
tomed to the use of fire-arms. In May, 1861, the Chicago Dra- 
goons and the Washington Light Cavalry were organized, and 
the work of recruiting proceeded even more rapidly than was 
desired by the Government. The Seward idea that the rebel- 
lion could be put down in three months, with 75,000 men, was 
not generally accepted by the people, who believed from the 
first that all the power of the North must be exerted to end the 
war. Hence several companies and regiments were raised and 
tendered to the Government which were not accepted, and the 
discouragement experienced at that time told forcibly when more 
men were called for, as it was seen that they were really wanted. 
On the 17th of June the Nineteenth Regiment was organised; 
next the Irish Brigade, and the old Hecker Regiment. In 
August the Yates' Sharpshooters, the Scotch Regiment, and 
others, were formed, partially in Chicago, and the Twelfth 
Illinois Cavalry was also accepted in August or September. 

In the latter part of the summer of 1861, Colonel Joseph H. 
% Tucker was appointed by Governor Yates to the command of 


the Northern District of the State, with orders to establish a 
camp at Chicago for the rendezvous and instruction of volunteers. 
He immediately selected a site at Cottage Grove, near the Uni- 
versity of Chicago, and named it Camp Douglas, in honor of 
the Senator to whom the ground had formerly belonged. The 
camp contained between sixty and seventy acres of ground. 
Here barracks were constructed capable of accommodating about 
8000 men, and a large number of troops mustered into the 
service. In February, 1862, some eight or nine thousand pris- 
oners arrived, who had been captured at the battle of Fort 
Donelson. They were placed in camp, and guarded by the 
Federal troops. Soon after this Colonel Mulligan took com- 
mand of the camp, having been ordered home to reorganize his 
regiment, the Irish Brigade, after the battle of Lexington, Mo. 
Early in June, 1862, two regiments of three-months' men 
were raised in Chicago for garrison duty in Camp Douglas, and 
Colonel Tucker reassumed command. Soon after this came the 
paroled troops which had been captured at Harper's Ferjy, 
and with them Brigadier-General Tyler, to whom had been con- 
fided their management. They were supposed to be under orders 
for the Indian frontier, but remained in Chicago. Then began 
the exciting history of Camp Douglas. The rule of General 
Tyler was that of a man of iron, without any of the elasticity of 
steel, and the men were very much dissatisfied. They did not 
believe that they had a right to be treated as prisoners, or even 
compelled to do garrison duty until exchanged. Hence fre- 
quent troubles, which culminated in burning of barracks and 
attempts at escape. The exchange and removal was a work of 
time, and during that whole period the citizens of Chicago 
slept insecurely. They felt that a volcano existed at camp 
which might at any time break forth and overwhelm the city. 


These fears were, however, groundless. The soldiers wished 
not to do more than testify their sense of the wrongs which 
they believed themselves to have suffered, and when the rigor- 
ous discipline was relaxed the burnings ceased. 

The prisoners were still in Camp Douglas when the call was 
issued for six hundred thousand troops, and the rapidly aug- 
menting volunteer companies and regiments were quartered 
outside the camp, presenting the novel sight of tents dotted all 
over the surrounding region as far as the eye could reach. The 
three Board of Trade regiments, the Irish Legion, Van Ar- 
mau's Regiment, the Railroad Regiment, with several battery 
companies, will be remembered as thus located, and the chal- 
lenge of their sentinels was heard at every step for the space of 
several miles. A more permanent exterior was afterward ef- 
fected when, on the arrival of the paroled troops, it was found 
that the camp proper was insufficient for their accommodation, 
and the fair grounds immediately westward were secured. On 
these grounds barracks were erected, to which were assigned 
the Ninth Vermont, the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh New 
York, and another regiment. On their departure most of those 
barracks that had not been burned, were pulled down and the 
limits of the camp shrunk down to the original boundaries. 

In the autumn of 1862 Brigadier-General Ammon took com- 
mand, the Harper's Ferry paroled troops departed, and another 
camp full of prisoners arrived just on the edge of winter. 
Being used to a warmer climate, they were but indifferently 
fitted to stand the hardships of barrack life in what was, to 
them, the far North, and they died off like rotten sheep in 
spite of the fact that many noble ladies interested themselves 
in alleviating the sufferings of the prisoners; and their guard, 
while doing their duty to the Government by insuring their 


safe keeping, were yet unremitting in their attentions, and suf- 
fered themselves, in consequence of the want of proper means 
for keeping up the animal heat. 

In March, 1863, the camp was cleared, save of a few pris- 
oners who were too sick to leave, and enough of Federal troops 
to guard and attend to them, and keep the post. Two com- 
panies of the Scotch Regiment, and a few men of the Ninth Ver- 
mont were all that remained of the immense numbers which 
had so lately trodden the mud of Camp Douglas, and shivered 
beneath its thin board roofs. Up to this time fully thirty thou- 
sand troops had been recruited, organized, drilled, and furnished 
with equipments at Camp Douglas, besides which, it had served 
as a stronghold for confining about seventeen thousand rebel 
prisoners, and for holding about eight thousand of those pa- 
roled at Harper's Ferry. 

During the latter part of 1863, Camp Douglas was again 
occupied as a military prison, an average of some five thousand 
confederates being confined there. Colonel C. V. DeLand, of 
the First Michigan Sharpshooters, was made post commandant, 
and improved the camp at a total expense of about $35,000. 
Toward the close of the year he was relieved by Brigadier- 
General Orme, at which time there were 1800 Union men in 
camp. May 2d, 1864, the command devolved upon Colonel 
J. C. Strong, of the Veteran Reserve Corps, and in July his 
successor, Colonel B. J. Sweet, arrived from Washington and 
took charge. Colonel Sweet caused the whole of the prisoners' 
barracks to be raised several feet from the ground, to prevent 
the occupants from boring their way out. Many of them had 
previously escaped in this way. He also made large additions 
to the number of barracks, and erected warehouses for the re- 
ception of stores. 


The number of prisoners now increased so rapidly that more 
barracks needed to be erected for them, and the force of a little 
over 1000 men belonging to the Veteran Reserve Corps was 
found too small to keep them safely. They were accordingly 
reinforced in August, by the One Hundred and Sixth Pennsyl- 
vania (100 day) Infantry, and on the approach of the National 
Democratic Convention, the guard was further strengthened by 
the arrival of 166 men, composing the Twenty-fourth Ohio 
Battery, armed with Parrott guns. 

On the 1st of January, 1864, there were 5649 rebel prisoners 
in camp, and nearly 7500 were received during the year, most of 
whom were souvenirs of Hood's defeats. During the year, 63, 
including one Cherokee Indian, were released on taking the oath 
of allegiance. The mortality among the prisoners was high, 
1156 during the year; they suffered severely from small-pox, 
besides other diseases: 11,780 were in camp on New Year's 
Day, 1865. 

In the spring of 1865, the discharge of the prisoners com- 
menced. The others soon followed on the collapse of the re- 
bellion, 8400 being released in May, and returned to their 
homes. Only about 200 remained in August, and most of 
these were on the sick-list in the hospital. The camp was 
finally abandoned about the close of the year. 

In its best estate Camp Douglas covered about sixty acres of 
ground. The number of prisoners confined there at different 
times was about thirty thousand. 



/CHICAGO was early made a depot for the purchase of Gov- 
^-^ ernment supplies during the war. During 1863 about 
1500 horses were bought there at a cost of $1,800,000, and some 
$2,500,000 more was expended for horses during the first seven 
months of 1864. In the latter year the purchases of the quar- 
termaster's department alone footed up $2.664,038.54, and the 
other expenditures 916,528.23, besides which nearly 1,000,000 
worth of material were bought in the city by other depart- 
ments. The material transported by the department in 1864, 
weighed over 41,525 tons, involving a cost of $1,100 per 
month for drayage alone. The purchases of the quartermaster 
in 1865 were about 900,000, and the expenditures $500,000. 

During the first three years of the war Chicago had sent 
into the field all the men required of her, and many more than 
her due proportion, the city having been an active recruiting 
depot for both the army and navy. On the 4th of July Presi- 
dent Lincoln issued his call for 500,000 men; the quota of 
Illinois being fixed at 16,182, of which number Cook County 
was required to furnish 4250. This was more than one-quarter 
of the call from the entire'State, and the assigned quota was so 
manifestly excessive that it was finally reduced by fifty per 
cent. Then the county authorities authorized the issue of 
$300,000 county scrip, to give a bounty of $300 to each recruit 
credited on the quota. Inside the city the people organized 
and offered additional bounties, but in spite of all this the 
county was in arrears to the extent of 1650 men, on the 26th 
of September, and drafting was commenced. The drawing was 
continued spasmodically for three weeks, during which time 


1550 volunteers were obtained, leaving 59 conscripts held to 

In November, 1864, the people were startled by the rumor 
that a plot had been formed to release the prisoners in Camp 
Douglas, and capture and sack the city, on the eve of the presi- 
dential election. A large number of men from the southern 
part of the State had arrived in the city a few days previously, 
with no ostensible purpose. These were arrested, with several 
residents who were suspected of being rebel sympathizers. A 
number of them were afterward tried by court-martial in Cin- 
cinnati, but after the close of the war most of them were par- 
doned and allowed to return home, after an imprisonment of 
nine months. 

Then came the last call for " 300,000 more" in December. 
It found Chicago in trouble. The quota of the county was fixed 
at 5200 men, and of these the city was called on to furnish by 
far the greatest portion. It was well known that the quota 
was assigned on the basis of a population composed in large 
part of aliens who had been attracted from Canada by an un- 
wonted activity in commerce and manufactures, and all these 
were called upon to go forward and purge the rolls of all names 
that had no business there. But most of them feared to become 
unpopular, preferring to prove alienage if they were drafted. 
Added to this the fact that the flesh brokers were operating 
through the naval rendezvous to carry off an average of not less 
than forty persons per day, to be credited to other places 
which paid a high bounty. It was in vain that the county 
offered a bounty of $400 to each recruit, and the city and ward 
committee's additional sums. The draft was ordered, but Pe- 
tersburgh and Richmond fell, and then no more soldiers were 
wanted. Cook County sent in all 22,532 men to the Union 


ranks during the war, with only one partial draft. Of the men 
drafted, substitutes were procured for all except fifty before the 
time arrived for departure, and of those who left the city seven 
were relieved at Springfield. The majority of the recruits 
raised under the last call were rendezvoused at Camp Fry, near 
the northern limits of the city. 

The following was our estimate of the total cost to the countv. 
made in 1865, a few months after the war had closed: 

Cost of Provost Marshal's Department, not to be in- 
cluded in the total, $77,089 

Paid by city for bounties from October, 1863, . . $ 119,742 

Paid by the county from October, 1863, . . . 2,565,172 

Paids by the towns and wards from October, 1863, . 734,453 

Paid representatives and substitutes, . . . 56,350 

Paid by county to families, 166,034 

Paid by city to families, 90,809 

Paid by Board of Trade to families, .... 220,000 

Mercantile Association to families, .... 75,000 

Total, $4,027,560 

This is the cost inside the county, and irrespective of private 
charities; the actual cost of the war to the General Government, 
amounting in round numbers to $3,350,000,000, was borne in 
part by Chicago, in addition to the above. The share of the 
payments made by Cook County into the Federal Treasury 
was, in 1865, in the proportion of 58 to 3,350. Fifty-eight mil- 
lions of dollars may therefore be assumed as the share of Cook 
County, to which add the four millions of local expense, and 
we have a grand total of sixty-two millions as the expense borne 
or assumed by Cook County for the suppression of the rebellion. 

The news that Richmond had fallen arrived in the city on 
Monday, April 3d, and the people were wild with joy. The 


previous good news flashed over the wires, of the fall of Peters- 
burgh, the investment of the rebel capital, the successive ad- 
vances of the Union forces on the doomed city, and the repeated 
captures of large numbers of prisoners, had all been in turn 
rejoiced over, as by men who see the morning light breaking 
after a long night of storm, and had partially prepared all for 
the grand result. But when that news came, it was as though 
they had not before heard of a victory. The joyful news was 
caught up and shouted through the streets until the very walls 
of the buildings re-echoed the strain, and in the very suburbs 
of the city was soon heard the glad news " Richmond has fall- 
en." The quick murmur of fire-arm discharges intermingled 
with the shouts of the people, and soon bonfires threw their 
lurid glares all over the city, and around them gathered happy 
throngs, chanting at the top of their voices the " Battle Cry of 
Freedom/' the " Star Spangled Banner," and other popular 
patriotic songs. It was a night of wild tumultuous joy, a time 
when every heart throbbed almost audibly, and strong men 
vented their feelings in tears of gladness. A majority of the 
buildings in the business parts of the city were illuminated, and 
many of those in less thickly-settled portions. Large and en- 
thusiastic mass-meetings were held, at which the people shouted 
their happiness, and the speakers were too much overcome to 
make long talks. Greater enthusiasm could not have been ex- 
hibited ; it showed the hearts of the people to have been in the 
right place after all, notwithstanding the efforts of some men 
to get up a feeling of sympathy with the South; it showed 
that the great heart of the people was true to the Union. 

The subsequent news of the surrender of Johnston, and the 
whole of the concentrated portion of the rebel army, was not 
received with so much satisfaction, as there was a wide-spread 


feeling that the National honor had not been sufficiently vindi- 
cated in the terms of the capitulation. The capture of Davis 
was the last in the series of Southern events that, was celebrated 
in Chicago. 

.Scarcely had the first rejoicings subsided, when the nation was 
shrouded in deep mourning by the news that President Lin- 
coln had been assassinated. Nowhere was the grief more in- 
tense than in Chicago. The whole city was draped in black, 
and the countenances of men wore even a deeper shade of woe. 
The body of the murdered President reached the city on the 
1st day of May, and was borne through the streets in proces- 
sion, followed by tens of thousands of people. The corpse lay 
in State in the Court-house during the next day, and through 
the night and day the people thronged the building in quick, 
moving column. The body was taken to Springfield, his old 
home, on Tuesday night, and was there buried. The cata- 
falque was one of the many interesting objects burned up in the 
great conflagration. 


NOT the least important phase in the war record of Chi- 
cago, was intense sympathy felt for the soldiers, and the 
liberality with which that sympathy found expression in deeds. 
In the summer of 1862, a number of patriotic ladies associ- 
ated themselves together for the purpose of caring for the sol- 
diers who were arriving in the city, or departing for the field. 
The building No. 45 Randolph Street was taken for this 
purpose, but the work grew so rapidly that it was soon found 


necessary to erect a building near the Central Depot to receive 
and feed the travelers, while the first-named building was kept 
for the disabled ones, and called the " Soldier's Home." The 
year following, the Home was removed to the lake shore, near 
the grave of Douglas, and a noble building was subsequently 
erected as a permanent home for the disabled veterans of the 
war. That building was sold in the autumn of 1871, the few 
soldiers remaining at that time being removed to the National 

The Young Men's Christian Association took the field at an 
early day, to minister to the wants of the soldier, and the Board 
of Trade, and other organizations, also sent special messengers 
to the front with liberal supplies of good things not included 
in the army rations. Then the Sanitary Commission was or- 
ganized, and did a world of good all through the war in car- 
ing for the brave boys in the field. In 1863, a Sanitary Fair 
was held in Bryan Hall (since Hooley's Opera House), under 
the joint auspices of the Sanitary Commission and the Soldier's 
Home, at which some $30,000 was netted for the soldiers. That 
hall, by the by, was the scene of most of the war meetings 
held; and its walls often resounded with patriotic appeals and 
soul-stirring songs; while many a distinguished patriot's remains 
went thence to their last resting-place, the list being headed by 
the corse of U. S. Senator Douglas. 

The closing grand public effort for the aid of the soldiers 
was made in Chicago during the year 1865 the great North- 
western Sanitary Fair. It was at first intended to hold the 
fair solely for the benefit of the Soldier's Home, but a union 
of effort was subsequently agreed upon, by which the Soldier's 
Home and the Sanitary Commission were joint workers, and the 
Christian Commission was afterward added. Owing to the 




sudden collapse of the rebellion the fair was not held until after 
the real close of the war, and the pecuniary results were there- 
fore much less than they would otherwise have been, as many 
people saw no further necessity for exertion. Nevertheless the 
fair netted nearly two hundred and fifty thousand dollars,, the 
gross receipts being greatly in excess of three hundred thousand. 

The fair was opened, on the 30th of May, by a grand proces- 
sion and a series of exercises, in the great Union Building in 
Dearborn Park, the principal features of which were the 
delivery of an inaugural poem by T. Buchanan Read, and the 
delivery of an eloquent, soul-stirring address by Governor 

One of the most pleasant uses to which the Fair Buildings 
was put, was the reception of our brave soldiers, thousands of 
whom were there saluted, and all, from lieutenant-general to 
high-private, received with a hearty enthusiasm that told how 
much was felt the debt owed to them. Major-General Sher- 
man arrived on the 8th of June, and a most cordial reception 
was extended to him by all classes. On the 10th Lieutenant- 
General Grant arrived, and was received in Union Hall with 
an ovation perfectly, tremendous in extent and enthusiasm. 


rilFIE war built up Chicago, giving a wonderful stimulus to 

-*- its commerce and manufactures, but the first effect was dis- 

astrous in the extreme. The shock unsettled every one, the 

experience being so novel that very few were able to form even 


a faint idea of its influence upon the business of the city. But 
it is due to the merchants to say that they were unwilling to 
take offered chances of gain. Immediately on the outbreak of 
hostilities large sums of gold were sent to Chicago from New 
Orleans and other Southern cities, requesting that produce 
should be sent in exchange. The men to whom these orders 
were addressed, one and all, sent back the money, saying that 
they would have nothing to do with the sending of supplies 
to an enemy. 

When the war broke out the issues of Western banks were 
largely based on^ Southern stocks there being not less than 
twelve million dollars worth (?) of that kind of money in the 
State. Of course it rapidly depreciated, causing an unnatural 
fluctuation in the price of exchange, and the market value of 
all kinds of produce. Within a month the case had become so 
desperate that the newspapers published daily lists of the quota- 
ble values, in gold, of the different bank bills, those quotations 
ranging all the way from ten cents on the dollar to par very 
few of the latter. And these quotations fluctuated so widely 
that no one felt sure in receiving payment that the quotation 
would be sustained till he could pay it over to some one else. 
For once in the world's history, nearly every one preferred pay- 
ing his debts to keeping that "money" on hand. Soon there- 
after most of the Illinois banks went out of existence, and 
within a few weeks all traces of the " wild-cat " had disap- 
peared forever. The subsequent experience in the gradual de- 
preciation of Government currency, the consequent scarcity of 
small change, the desperate expedients to which the people 
resorted before the issues of fractional currency, and the gen- 
eral adoption of the National bank-note as a circulating medium, 
are matters of general history pertaining no more to Chicago 


than to any other place in the Northern States, except on the 
Pacific coast, where the people used a metallic currency all 
through the war. 

An attempt was made to arrest the displacement of this cur- 
rency by the circulation of a document, to which many of the 
leading business men subscribed, pledging themselves to take 
the bills of certain banks at par till the close of the war. But 
they might as well have attempted to stop the torrent of Niag- 
ara with a wooden spoon. The resolve was adhered to barely 
three days, and then the stuff disappeared as if by magic. It 
was wonderful, too, to see how little embarrassment was caused 
by the withdrawal of so much currency from circulation. / It 
astonished even those of the East, but they soon knew the 
reason learned it in a lesson that only war could teach. The 
material of the nation's prosperity lay at the West. Cotton 
was deposed from his throne, and corn and pork thenceforward 
reigned undisturbed as the grand duumvirate of the United 
States. The people of the East were obliged to send their 
money westward if they would receive those prime necessaries 
of existence rendered doubly necessary by the enhanced con- 
sumption attendant upon grim war. 

As the exponent of Western production, Chicago rapidly rose 
to a much higher position than she had ever before occupied. 
Agricultural production was wonderfully stimulated by the 
shedding of blood. Then the soldiers needed equipments. 
The supply of ammunition was principally drawn from other 
points, but for food, clothing, saddlery, horses and wagons, and 
the other etceteras of the march and the camp, Chicago was 
called upon to the utmost of her resources, the Government 
establishing an agency there at an early day. The city was 
really an important base of supply ; far enough away from the 


scene of strife to be safe, and yet so closely connected by rail 
with every part of the country that troops and munitions could 
be moved with facility to any point desired. 

The enlivened demand at once stimulated production, and 
Chicago became very busy as a manufacturing center. Thou 
sands of operatives went there, many of them from Canada, 
as well as from the East, and from Europe, and large amounts 
of capital were also sent there, especially from the border States, 
by men who feared to risk it so near the line that divided the 
two sections. Then the continued demand for produce, with 
the gradual drain upon the workers to fill up the army, stim- 
ulated the use and production of machinery on a vast scale on 
the farms of the West. The need of supplies, a gradually de- 
preciating currency, and continually growing taxation, caused 
a rapid augment in quoted values of property, both real and 

And thus Chicago became the paradise at once of workers 
and speculators, and grew mightily. She prospered apace, while 
the red hand of war was sweeping her (wayward) sister cities 
as with the besom of destruction. Notwithstanding the drain 
upon her for men, her population increased from 109,263 souls 
in 1860, to 187,446 in 1865; her property assets were very 
nearly doubled in the same period, her borders were widely 
extended, while her commerce augmented in corresponding 

The city limits were again extended in February, 1863, to 
include an area of nearly 24 square miles, being carried one 
mile further south, and taking in the previously excepted 
western corners, known as Bridgeport and Holstien. The 
city now contained sixteen wards. The property valuation 
was as follows: 


Tear. Keal. Personal. Total. City Taxes. 

I860, $31,198,135 $5,855,377 $37,053,512 $373,315 
1862, 31,587,545 5,552,300 37,139,845 564,038 
18fi5, 44,064,499 20,644,678 64,709,177 1,294,184 

These figures are instructive. They show that during the 
first years of the war there was uo material increase in values. 
After that, however, the value of personal property rose rapid- 
ly, and mercantile stocks were greatly enlarged. Real estate 
continued in a depressed condition till hear the close of 1862. 
Then confidence was restored, and for the first time in five 
years, real estate was in demand, and became steadily active 
about the spring of 1863. The demand was healthy and legiti- 
mate, confined almost entirely to those buying for actual use or 
occupation, whether for business purposes or for residences. 
Some few made large purchases for investment and for sub-di- 
vision, but these were exceptions. Prices advanced moderately 
and steadily during this period, the principal advance being in 
those portions of the city rendered easily accessible by the new- 
ly extended horse railroads. Throughout the whole of the year 
1864, the demand continued steady for active use and occupa- 
tion. The largest class of purchasers was among the merchants, 
whose profits in business were sufficiently large to enable them 
to make investments of their surplus capital in residence prop- 
erty suitable to their requirements and tastes. Many of the 
lumber dealers, packers, and manufacturers also found their 
condition so much improved, that they were able to purchase 
premises before occupied by them under rent. The desire to in- 
vest was also stimulated to some extent by the growing volume 
of the currency, and the large cash balances accumulated during 
a period of great business prosperity consequent thereon, with 
a slight feeling of insecurity among a portion of the community 


in regard to the ultimate value of legal-tender notes. During 
the year 1864, desirable inside business property advanced in 
value about 20 per cent, on the average, and good residence 
property on the street railroad routes about 10 or 15 per cent. 

The following figures show the movement of some of the 
leading articles of produce during the war : 

1861. 1864. 1865. 

Flour man'f't, bbls. . t . 291,852 290,137 301,776 

Grain received, bu. . . 54,038,906 45,952,736 53,613,823 

Grain shipped, " . . 50,481,862 47,124,494 53,212,224 

Hogs received, No. . . " 675,902 1,410,320 1,178,832 

Hogs packed, " * . . 505,691 760,514 507,355 

Cattle packed, No. . . 53,754 92,459 27,172 

Lumber received, M. . . 249,309 501,592 647,146 

Wool received, Ibs. . . 1,184,208 4,304,388 7,639,749 

We have not at hand a statement of the manufactures of 
1864 and '65, our carefully prepared records having been 
burned up. We shall compare 1860 with 1870, in a subsequent 

City improvements were numerous during the war, rendered 
necessary by the rapid growth of population. In 1864, not 
less than 6000 buildings of all kinds were erected, at a cost of 
$4,700,000. These included 9 churches, 2 schools, and 4 halls 
and public buildings; of the latter, four were worth $100,000 
and upwards. Nearly as many buildings had been erected in 
1863, and this large number of additional structures almost 

* The winter of 1862-3, was the most active in pork packing ever 
known in the city: 970,264 hogs were packed, a number far exceeding 
that returned by Cincinnati, and Chicago has kept the lead of that city in 
hog packing ever since. The number cut in the winter of 1863-4 was 


doubled the occupied area of the city. In 1860 there were build- 
iugs on Clark and State Streets, north and south, and on Mad- 
ison, Randolph, and Lake, westward to a distance of two miles 
and a half, from the Court-house, and a few streets parallel to 
those were moderately occupied. But outside of the main thor- 
oughfares, there were few buildings more than a mile and a half 
out from the business center in either direction, except toward 
Bridgeport and Holstein. In 1865 the inhabited area had ex- 
tended to a distance of fully three miles from the Court-house 
in every direction except to the eastward (on the lake), while 
along the principal streets houses were scattered, at intervals, 
very much farther. The settled portions of the city covered 
about eighteen square miles. 

While the number of buildings increased, there was a notice- 
able improvement in their character. More than ever stone 
and brick were employed, and in this period we find that the 
use of stone from other parts of the United States was exten- 
sively resorted to, both for the sake of variety, and because of 
its greater durability. Previous to the war, only one building 
the Court-house had been constructed of stone from outside 
the originial limits of the cotinty of Cook, and only one other 
the Second Presbyterian Church from any other quarry than 
those at Joliet or Lemont. In 1862 the South Branch Dock 
Company began to excavate the row of slips between Halstead 
and Reuben Streets, on the north bank of the south branch ; the 
clay was found to be of excellent quality, and as it could be had 
for the trouble of digging, the brickmakcrs were enabled to offer 
their wares at prices which more nearly competed with those of 
lumber. The commerce and trade of the city increased mightily 
during the war, and the appreciation in the value of goods on 
hand made many rich, and enabled them to enjoy the luxury 


of costly buildings. Then stone fronts became the rage, and 
iron was invested in to some extent also. Principally from 
that time have sprung up the palatial residences, the imposing 
warehouses, the princely stores, the costly churches, which have 
made Chicago equal to any city in the world, in this respect. 
Prominent among these we may note the Opera House and the 
rebuilt Sherman during the war, while those erected since its 
close are too numerous to mention. The progress in the build- 
ing of smaller residences is also remarkable. There is a marked 
reform in their character, a notable improvement in arrange- 
ment, while in number they have grown so fast that it is diffi- 
cult even to count them. Especially is the growth observable 
near the outskirts of the city, where several square miles are 
now dotted thick with pleasant cottages which four years ago 
were in the clay-bed, or in the forests of Michigan. 

With this extension came other city improvements. The 
streets were raised to grade, and the old wooden sidewalks were 
replaced by stone on the principal business streets, and the 
avenues. The wooden-block pavement was also extensively 
introduced ; it was laid on Lake Street in 1861 ; South Water 
and Wells in 1862; the intersections of Clark with Randolph 
and Madison in 1863, and West Lake Street in 1864. In 1862 
the People's Gas Light and Coke Company commenced (June 
1st) to supply the people of the West Division with gas, through 
15 miles of pipe, which has since been added to, almost indefi- 
nitely. The Chicago Gas Light and Coke Company was 
henceforth restricted to the supply of the North and South 
Divisions. About 75 miles of sewers had been built up to the 
close of the war. 

In 1863 the city ordered the dredging out of a passage 
through the bar, which had grown by continued accretions till 


it necessitated a round-about journey of a mile each -way to all 
vessels entering or leaving the harbor. By August, 1864, a 
passage had been opened to admit vessels drawing 12J feet of 
water, 150,000 cubic yards of sand having been removed. The 
insufficiency of the existing dock room, though presenting 
nearly ten miles of wharves, induced the digging out of an ex- 
tensive series of slips on the south branch, and the determina- 
tion to construct a line of docks outside the harbor on the north 
shore. The latter project was, however, abandoned till after 
the close of the war, the first few cribs and piles put down hav- 
ing been washed out in a violent gale. 

The greatest internal improvement of this period was the 
Great Lake Tunnel, undertaken about the middle of the war, 
though the greater portion of the work was done after the 
return of peace. The tunnel stretches out under Lake Michi- 
gan to a distance of two miles, and is really one of the wonders 
of the nineteenth century. A large extension of the water-pipe 
system was in progress from 1862 to 1864, inclusive. 

As "it never rains but it pours," so Chicago, having once 
determined on securing an adequate supply of water by means 
of the lake tunnel, found herself in danger of having too much 
of it. The quarries on the then western limits of the city, from 
which were taken the stones to pave the streets, and to build 
the Second Presbyterian Church, were permeated with a bi- 
tuminous material, and some spirit or other was declared to 
have announced through a medium that oil could be had there 
for the boring. A company bored down about seven hundred 
feet only to strike a magnificent artesian well, from which the 
water has ever since flowed at the rate of half a million gallons 
daily, supposed to descend along a sandstone stratum from the 
bed of Rock River, which is 163 feet above the level of Lake 


Michigan. Several other artesian wells have since then been 
put down, with uniform success. One eleven hundred feet deep 
{supplies the Union Stock Yards, on Halstead Street, near the 
southern limits of the city, and one has been sunk in or near 
each of the parks in the West Division. 

The police force was organized under the metropolitan sys- 
tem in 1861, at which time it consisted of fifty-two men. It 
consisted of about seventy patrolmen, besides sergeants and 
detectives, at the close of the war. The first steam fire-engino 
was introduced about 1859, but the old volunteer force con- 
tinued to act with their hand-engines till 1861, when the paid 
system was adopted exclusively, and the old hand-engines went 
out of existence, with the brawls and feuds attending them. 

The Fire Alarm and Police Telegraph, the construction of 
which was commenced in 1864, was completed in the early part 
of the year, and formally turned over to the city in the begin- 
ning of June, 1865. It consisted of one hundred and twenty- 
six miles of wire, of which forty-six were in the South Division, 
fifty in the West, and thirty in the North, which connected one 
hundred and sixteen fire boxes and stations. The cost was 
$70,000. Since then continued additions have been rendered 
necessary by the rapid growth of the city. 

We may not pass this period without noting the great im- 
petus given to amusements by the rapid filling up of the city, 
and the greater abundance of money incident to great activity in 
every department of trade and commerce. The Museum was 
opened early in 1863, McVicker's Theater was entirely rebuilt 
in 1864, and the same year the Opera House was built, and 
opened only a few days after the evacuation of Richmond. 



ri\HE close of the rebellion staggered the city almost as 
-- much as its commencement. The return of the soldiers 
to their homes caused a large increase in the population, and 
necessitated much activity in making room for such numbers, 
tlmugh many of them returned to the bosom of their families. 
But with the return of peace came a tumble in the premium on 
gold that, added to the withdrawal of an army demand, pro- 
duced a depreciation in prices that was almost fearful to con- 
template, on the part of those who had large stocks of produce 
or merchandise on hand, however agreeable it may have been 
to the buyer. The embarrassment was really greatest just 
before the war ended, as the master finger of capital had de- 
tected the weakening in the pulse of the rebellion that fore- 
shadowed its dissolution long before the fact was apparent to 
the general public. By the middle of April, 1865, the gold 
premium had dropped from 1.92 to 47 per cent, (from $2.92 
to $1.47 per gold dollar), and the quotations on all classes of 
merchandise fell correspondingly. Farm produce dropped like 
a hot potatoe from the hands of a boy. Wheat declined from 
$2.00 per bushel in September, 1864, to $1.00 in May, 1865. 
In the same time corn fell from $1.33 to 38 cents; oats from 
67 to 34 cents per bushel; live hogs from 12 cents to 7 cents 
per pound ; mess pork form $42.50 to '$23.00 per barrel, and 
mixed lumber from $20.00 to $11.00 per thousand feet. These 
tremendous depreciations in price, on the very large stocks of 
produce in Chicago and the West, were felt severely, yet no 
important failures occurred. The loss in mercantile business 
was relatively less, as the majority of the wholesale merchants 


had taken note in time, and were carrying very light stocks when 
the collapse came. The leading politicians, who in the autumn 
of 1864 were nearly ready to give up the ship in despair, were 
not half so wise as the mercantile community the latter felt 
the coming of the day long before the "darkest hour before the 
dawn " had lifted its somber veil from the eyes of the people. 

And so the prudence that has ever marked the operations of 
the business men of Chicago, even when they have seemed to be 
most reckless, carried them safely through this third great 
crisis. The majority of them had made such liberal profits during 
the preceding three years, that they could bear considerable loss, 
and had wisely invested much of their surplus in Chicago real 
estate, which did not depreciate with merchandise and produce. 
Indeed, confidence in the future of Chicago was strongest among 
those who were the heaviest losers by the close of the war. 

At the risk of being thought facetious on a grave subject, we 
digress here to say that it seemed as if nearly all of the returned 
privates entered commercial colleges to fit themselves for clerk- 
ships, while the officers entered upon the insurance business 
the generals and colonels as managing agents, and the captains 
and lieutenants as canvassers. The palmy days of the business 
college were soon over, when the soldiers found that the diplo- 
ma earned by five weeks of study and a few more dollars was 
not a passport to the counting-room. But the insurance busi- 
ness had more endurance. It dated its real life from 1865, and 
both the life and fire departments had attained to stupendous 
proportions when the latter was brought to rudely by the Great 

The six years succeeding the war formed a period of growth 
unprecedented, even in the previous history of the city. After 
about the first year the expansion was almost magical. That 

COMMERCE OF 1870. 125 

first twelve months was active, but unprofitable. Not only did 
the values of merchandise decline heavily, but the wheat crop 
of the previous year had been a partial failure, and the impor- 
tant business of packing provisions fell off terribly. But after 
1865 had been passed the city took a new lease of prosperity, 
which, though not limited at the time, proved to be of five 
years duration. 

The population increased from 178,900 in 1865 to 252,054 
in 1868, and to 334,270 in 1871, the last total being that ob- 
tained by the census enumeration made by Richard Edwards. 
"NVe append for reference the following figures, which show the 
ratio of the growth of Chicago in ten years to the county and 

Population. 1860. 1870. Per ct. increase. 

Chicago, .... 110,973 299,227 170 

Cook County, . . . 144,954 349,786 141 

Dlinois, . . . .1,711,951 2,537,910 43 

A portion of the city growth, however, is due to an extension 
of territory within the limits of Cook County. 


settlement of the other Western States and Territories 
-- proceeded even more rapidly than the State of Illinois, 
during this decade, and herein lay the true secret of the contin- 
ued growth of Chicago. Rival cities were making efforts to 
catch a portion of her trade, and other routes to the seaboard 
thai, those leading through Chicago were constructed, but that 
city was still recognized as the natural focus of the commercial 




relations between the Upper Mississippi Valley and the world 
to the eastward. The more grain was raised in the West, the 
more passed through Chicago, and the more money was spent 
in that city in the purchase of articles of luxury or the necessa- 
ries of civilized life by the producers of the West. These facts 
attracted capital and industry to the Garden City, and caused a 
rapid appreciation in the value of the real estate, as the people 
of other parts of the world pressed forward to "join in the 
innumerable caravan" of pilgrims toward the modern Mecca. 
The following table of aggregates of produce and material 
received in the city daring the ye"ar 1870, will show the magni- 
tude of the trade. The last column gives the value of the 
receipts : 


Flour, bbls. i ;v. "ilii . CT'.: 1,766,037 

Wheat, bu. >>' ! --i . . 17,394,609 

Corn, bu 20,189,775 

Oats, bu. . ; . . 10,472,078 

Rye, bu 1,093,493 

Barley, bu. .... 3,335,653 

Grass Seed, Ibs. . . . 18,681,148 

Broom Corn, Ibs. . ._*._*.... 13,688,918 

Cut Meats, Ibs. . , . 52,162,881 

Beef, bbls 20,554 

Pork, bbls 40,883 

Lard, Ibs. " f . ? , . . . 7,711,018 

Tallow, Ibs. .. . . . 2,460,157 

Butter, Ibs. ' .' " * . . . 11,682,348 

D. Hogs, No. . ' "';' '' ^ ^ 260,214 

Live Hogs, No. V !JI '-s . 1,693,158 

Cattle, No. . -w:-- :."- !i,- 532,964 

Hides, Ibs. . .,,.... . 28,539,668 

H. Wines, bbls. . . , ... 165,689 

Wool, Ibs. . ' v'. v '. . 14,751,089 
















































Potatoes, bo. ... 




Lumber, M. . . . 




Shingles, M. . . . 




Lath, M. . . : 




Salt, bbls. 




Flax Seed, Ibs. 







Cotton, Ibs. . . . 




Tobacco, Ibs. ... 




Lead, Ibs. ... 




Horses, No. ... 




Coal, tons, . . . 

. * 887,'474 * 



Wood, cords, . . . 



Lake Fish, brls. 

. * 78,253 



To these we may add the following : 


Pig Iron, . . . $900,000 

Iron Ore, . . . 14,000,000 

Nails, .... 247,500 

Carbon Oil, . . . 650,000 

Building Stone, etc., . 250,000 

Cedar Posts, . . 265,000 

Telegraph Poles, . . 647,000 

Boots and Shoes, . . 7,500,000 

Dry Goods, . . . 35,000,000 

Drugs, Chemicals, etc., 4,000,000 

Hardware, . . . 5,000,000 

Metals, etc. . . 3,200,000 

Crockery, etc. 

Jewelry, etc. 


Musical Instruments, 



Grand Total, . 

" in 1869, . 
" in 1868, . 
" in 1860, . 
" in 1852, . 





, 53,000,000 


. 2,100,000 







These figures show a decrease of $13,000,000, or about three 
per cent, for 1870 as against 1869. But the difference is not 
real. Taking into the account the difference in the gold values 
of our currency in these two years, we have an actual increase 


in gold values to the amount of fully nine per cent, in the 
receipts of 1870, as compared with those of 1869. 

Corresponding to this was an immense impetus to the whole- 
sale trade of the city, as exhibited in the above items of lumber, 
groceries, dry goods, hardware, drugs, etc., as compared with 
those of previous years. The wholesale sales of 1870 footed up 
grand total of $402,500,000 against $400,000,000 in 1869, or 
five-eighths, per cent., though prices averaged twelve to fifteen 
per cent, lower in the latter year, giving an annual increase of 
fully fifteen per cent, in the quantity of goods sold. The reduc- 
tion was principally in dry goods, the currency received for 
which, was some $7,000,000 less in 1870 than in 1869. 

The business of 1871 bade fair to foot up a much larger 
total than that of 1870, when it was so ruthlessly suspended by 
the fire. The receipts and shipments of grain and other produce 
up to the 7th of October, were far in excess of those for the 
same time in any previous year, while the mercantile list showed 
a much more satisfactory business. For nearly two years previous 
to 1871, except during a short time near the commencement 
of the war between France and Prussia, the selling values of 
nearly all kinds of movable property had steadily declined, and 
no one cared to carry very large stocks, either in city or coun- 
try. With the 1st of January, 1871, came a long expected reduc- 
tion in the duties on many foreign goods, and every one felt that 
the bottom had been reached in prices. Hence those who bought 
in Chicago were willing to purchase much larger bills of gcods 
than previously, and the merchants were able to extend their 
trade farther away by the opening of the Pacific Railroad in 
May, 1870, and the adoption of the bonded-car system in 1871. 
By the first, the commerce of a large tract of western country Avas 
opened up, and a direct communication established with China 

COMMERCE OF 1870. 129 

and Japan, by which the teas of those countries were laid down 
on the lake-shore so expeditiously and cheaply as at once to 
stimulate consumption of an article not spoiled by a long sea 
journey through the tropics. By the second, Chicago merchants 
were able to import direct from Europe, saving the heavy 
charges and vexatious delays to which they had previously 
been subjected in New York. And besides all this, an inde- 
pendent avenue of trade with Europe was opened up in the 
summer, giving a much more expeditious and cheaper route for 
goods, by a line of steamers via Montreal. 

We estimated the sales of foreign goods in Chicago in 1869 
at $79,000,000, and at $84,000,000 in 1870. We have reason 
to believe that the total would have exceeded $120,000,000 in 
1871, had the course of commerce been unimpeded by the 
great calamity of October, as a great many of the leading mer- 
chants had made arrangements to buy regularly in European 
markets. How much this result will be changed by the events 
of the fire, can not be estimated at the date of this writing. 

The wholesale sales of Chicago would probably have footed 
up nearly $450,000,000 in 1871, had business proceeded through 
the remainder of the year on a scale commensurate with that 
of the first nine months. That total may be reached even yet. 

The trade of Chicago had spread all over the Western States 
and Territories. She dealt largely with California, and sup- 
plied largely the wants of the people in the vast area between, 
from Omaha to Salt Lake. Far out into the South-west Chi- 
cago goods found a ready market, much of her merchandise 
going direct through St. Louis. Down South, and up North, 
her merchants had accounts spreading all over the country, and 
even to the eastward, great quantities of goods were sent an- 
nually into Indiana and Michigan. 


We scarcely need pause here to pay a compliment to the en- 
ergy and enterprise that wrought out such magnificent results 
within a few years. That enterprise is known to all the world, 
and even the rivals of Chicago have conceded it ; to their honor 
l>e it said, they were the first to proffer liberal aid on receiving 
the news that Chicago was suffering. 

To meet the wants of this vast business, the banking facilities 
of the city included nineteen National banks, of which three 
were added during 1871, and two during 1870. The sixteen 
banks made return on the 28th of December, 1870, of $6,550,- 
000 capital stock; $3,041,359 surplus and other undivided 
profits; $16,774,514 deposits; and $4,906,424 of circulation 
outstanding. Adding the eight or nine private banks in the 
city, with an aggregate capital of $3,000,000, we have in 
September, 1871, a total bank capital and surplus of about 
$13,500,000. The clearing-house returns show the following 
as the business of 1870 : 

Clearings. Balances. 

Total, 1870, . ... $810,676,036 $80,910,416 

Total, 1869, .... v>. 731,444,111 73,831,000 

Increase, $79,231,925 $7,079,416 

To accommodate the large grain business of the city there 
were 17 public warehouses (elevators), with a united storage 
capacity of 11,580,000 bushels. Besides these there were quite 
a number of small storehouses, with an average capacity of 
about 50,0)0 bushels. These were independent of the store- 
houses for the keeping of flour, pork products, and other arti- 
cles of produce. 

The number of vessel arrivals in the port of Chicago during 
1870 was 12,739, with an aggregate tonnage of 3,049,265 tons. 

COMMERCE OF 1870. 131 


The number in 1862 was 7417, with 1,931,692 tonnage. The 
number of vessels owned in Chicago in 1870 was 644, with 
94,217 tonnage, being nearly one-seventh of all the tonnage 
owned on the northern lakes. 

The number of arrivals in 1870, from April 1st to December 
1st was 12,596, and the clearances 12,358, being an average 
of over 50 per day, including Sundays. This is greater than 
the aggregate of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Or- 
leans, and Mobile, during the same time, though the tonnage 
of sea-going vessels is much larger than that of our lake ma- 

The development of railroad enterprise was equally well 
marked during the period that elapsed since the war. Only 
one new line, the Great Eastern now the Pittsburgh, St. Louis, 
<fe Cincinnati has been added to the list of those entering the 
city, but the traffic of all has steadily increased, while nearly 
all have been extended much farther; and in September, 1871, 
nearly half a dozen new railroad lines were knocking for ad- 
mission into the busy hive that had swarmed around the south- 
ern end of Lake Michigan. The statistics of the produce move- 
ment given in the preceding pages, will give some idea of the 
growth of railroad traffic, because the business of Chicago is 
principally carried on by rail. But those figures scarcely indi- 
cate the full extent of the railroad augmentation, for the simple 
reason that each succeeding year brings a more strongly marked 
discrimination in favor of the railroad, as against transporta- 
tion by canal or lake. The railroad has taken to itself more 
than two-thirds of the increase of commerce during the past 
five years. 

Chicago is now intimately connected by rail with every part 
of the continent. Not less than four rival lines contend for the 


Eastern traffic, while to the North, West, and South long lines 
run in every direction into the interior, stretching far away to 
the water that fixes the limits of the United States. Over all 
these roads a total of not less than 96 passenger, and 117 freight 
trains moved each way in the spring of 1871, making a total 
of 426 both ways, or an average of three in every ten minutes 
through the whole twenty-four hours of each day. The extent 
to which the building of new lines is progressing is shown in 
the following table of the work done in the North-western States 
in 1870, almost every mile of which is tributary to Chicago; 
the grading noted in the last column is in addition to that re- 
quired on the lines already covered with the iron rails : 


Miles laid. 

Miles graded. 

Illinois, . . . ' . ' 

f j-i *;' 1,371} 


Iowa, ">' 

. *, a 687} 


Michigan, .... 

... 623 










Kansas, .... 

'- f 'J .<;** 365 

" * A 


Colorado, . "; - * : '. ''' 

*->.V>v. . 297 

Total, 4,800| l,534f 

The total length of all the railroads in the world is only about 
120,000 miles, and the total cost not far from ten billions of 




/CHICAGO had progressed even more rapidly in manufac- 
\* tures than in commerce, a greater proportion of her popula- 
tion being engaged in adding to the value of material by labor 
than by the mere process of transfer. The books of the Census 
Commissioner at Washington showed, for 1870 : 

Number of establishments, 1,149 

Hands employed, 20,156 

Wages paid, $10,283,286 

Capital employed, ... ... 27,948,501 

Value of material, 35,973,531 

Value of product, 62,736,228 

These returns were doubtless accurate enough in many de- 
partments, but in others they fall far short. The following 
statistics of packing in Chicago in 1870 will show the difference 
between the statements in the census return and the truth : 

Returned. Aetna!. 

Number of packing establishments, 11 21 

Hands employed, ... 578 2,500 

Wages paid $204,711 $430,000 

Capital, .... 1,501,000 6,000,000 

Material, .... 5,550,154 9,000,000 

Product, .... 6,475,802 13,000,000 

The pork-packing of the city for the winter of 1870-71, 
footed up a total of 918,000 head. 

The writer of this prepared the following compilation for 
the Chicago Tribune Annual Review, at the close of 1870, 
following the census returns except where they were mani- 



festly erroneous, and then made careful canvass for the result 
given : 

Agricultural Implements, $2,003,000 

Baking Powder, . . 151,500 

Boots and Shoes, . . 1,500,000 

Brooms, etc., . . 457,856 

Bridges, . . . 1,000,000 
Breweries (262,035 bbls.), 2,620,350 

Bricks, "... 750,000 

Boilers, . . . 259,500 

Books, Printing, etc., . 3,000,000 

Buildings, . . . 12,000,000 

Bakeries, . . . 1,300,000 

Cabinet-makers, etc., . 1,277,388 

Carriages and Wagons, . 1,368,982 

Carpets, . . . 1,300 

Car-wheels, and Fixtures, 529,573 

Cotton, ' '".' - . . 82,000 

Clothing, . . . 1,000,000 

Cooperage, . . . 450,000 

Confectionary, . . 900,000 

Distillers and Rectifiers, 6,068,221 

Flour and Grists, . 2,839,334 
Foundry and Machine 

Shops, . . . 3,657,933 

Fire, etc. Safes, . . 110,000 

Gas, . . . j i . 2,200,000 

Gloves, etc., . . 6,000 

Honey, . . 7,800 

Hats, Caps, etc., . . 400,000 

Instruments, Musical, . 350,050 

Lanterns, . . . 60,000 

Lead Pipe, etc., . . 588,400 

Leather, Tanning, &c , . 2,229,515 

Lightning Rods, . . 8,000 

Lime, : .. 

Lumber, v . , . . 
Maltsters, . . . 
Nails, . . . 

Oils . . . 

Paints, . . . 

Planing Mills, etc., . 
Picture Frames, etc., 
Patent Medicines, . 
Provisions (and curers), 
Paper Collars, . . 
Refrigerators, . . 
Rolling Mills and Forges, 
Saws, , ;*. v . 
Scales, V'^*-'" '. 

Shot, .' . . 

Saddles, etc., and Trunks, 
Soap and Candles, ~ V 
Ship Carpentry, ! . 

Steam Heaters, v 

Stone Cutting, ". v . 
Telegraph Supplies, . 
Terra Gotta, . . 

Tin and Hardware, . 
Tobacco and Cigars, . 
Type Foundries, . . 
Varnish, . "if". ; 
Vinegar, . .'" . 
Wire Fabrics, . . 

Total, . 

Add for Miscellaneous, 

Grand total . 

75 >0 



So in 1868 there were in Cook County 1,034 establishments, 
turning out a manufactured product valued at $63,110,000. 

The United States census report for 1860 gives the follow- 
ing for Cook County : 469 establishments, with a capital of 


85,571,025; employing 5,593 hands; paying 1,992,257 in 
wages, and turning out an annual product of 13,555,671. 

The totals for the city in 1855 were, capital, 6,295,000; 
hands employed, 8,740 ; value of products, $11,031,491. The 
corresponding figures for 1854 were, capital, 4,220,000; hands, 
5,000 ; value of products, 7,870,000. 

The increase in the value of manufactures during the past 
decade is therefore as 100 to 653 ; or 553 per cent., while the 
increase of commerce is but 311 per cent., and of population 
170 per cent. Even with this tremendous growth, we are jus- 
tified in saying that the advantages presented by Chicago as a 
manufacturing point were but just beginning to be realized. 
Manufactories were springing up all around, promising large 
additions to the returns of 1870 on business already established, 
while several new ones were in process of formation among 
these were a watch factory, and a cotton factory, both of which 
were being organized on a large scale. Chicago manufacturers 
had gained a wide celebrity, which warranted capitalists in 
expecting a remunerative return for their outlay. Before the 
Pacific Railroad was built, the Mormons preferred Chicago- 
made wagons to any other for travel across the mountains. 
Chicago clocks and watches, agricultural implements, files, 
boots and shoes, and clothing, have attained a reputation that 
made ready sales wherever they were offered. 

The returned incomes of 1870 aggregated 21,766,837. \Ve 
estimated the total incomes, acknowledged and unacknowledged, 
at not less than $74,000,000. 




"VTTITH such rapid onward strides in population, commerce, 
* * and manufactures, it is no wonder that the value of 
property largely increased during this period. It could not be 
otherwise. The growing demands of business necessitated the 
keeping of larger stocks of goods and the purchase of new 
locations, while the ever advancing throng of people spread out 
in all directions, buying real estate for residence purposes, and 
covering it with buildings, well stocked with material wealth. 
Very much of the capital attracted thither from other points 
was invested in real estate, causing a steady demand for the 
article that kept the market on a continual advance, and en- 
abled hundreds to grow rich by simply turning over the prop- 
erty. The growth of values in different portions of the city, is 
shown in the following table: 






































Previous to 1866 the assessed valuations were usually made 
up at about one-fourth of the actual value. In 1866 the ratio 
was one-third; in 1867 it was supposed that the selling cash 
value of the property was represented by the assessor's figures. 
The assessors gradually fell behind, however, till 1871, when it 
was estimated that the real estate was rated at about sixty per 



cent, and the personal property at thirty per cent, of its true 
value. The following should, therefore, be the figures for Sep- 
tember, 1871 ; the improvements are close approximations only: 

South Division, Real, 

" " Improvement, 
" Personal, . 

South Division, Total, . 

West Division, Real, 

" " Improvement, 
" Personal, 

West Division, Total, . , 

North Division, Real, . . 
" " Improvement, 
" " Personal, 

North Division, Total, . 

Total Land, .... 
Total Improvements, 
Total Personal, . . 

Grand Total, 

Add for churches, etc., and city 

Grand Total Valuation in 1871, 

Assessed Value. 

., $82,609,690 

. $148,682,370 

. $65,964,930. 



. $96,485,350 

. $28,357,280 



. $43,391,280 

. $176,931,900 

. $288,559,000 
property, not taxed, 


Cash Value. 














This is very nearly a duplication of values within five years 
a result only possible under great activity in the real estate 
market. The sales of real estate in 1870 alone, fooled up 
$42,000,000, or not far from one-tenth of all the property in 
the city. 

Up to about 1868 the wholesale business of the city was con- 
centrated between the river and Lake Streets. Wabash and 

Michigan Avenues were exclusively residence thoroughfares, 


except that the former avenue contained most of the churches in 
the South Division. Then the wholesale merchants invaded 
the avenues, amid numerous protests from the residents, and at 
the time of the fire some of the largest stocks in the city were 
burned up on the avenues, and on the three northern blocks on 
State Street. The same year Lasalle Street was improved, and 
became popular as the home of Insurance Companies and com- 
mission merchants, while the banks moved toward that and 
Washington Street, as the newspapers were gathering on and 
near Dearborn. Simultaneously with this came a lateral spread 
as the people found property in the heart of the city was becom- 
ing too valuable for residences, while it was also too much 
exposed to the noise and bustle of the city. Then arose a 
mania for suburban property, and the railroads were appealed 
to for more frequent accommodation trains to enable business 
men to live in the country and enter and leave the city 
speedily. Laterally, too, the manufacturing interests began 
to seek suburban locations, and many of them had moved out 
to the south and south-west portions of the city, near the 
limits. The great impetus to this spreading out of people and 
energy, was the grand park system, which was formally legal- 
ized by the Legislature in February, 1869, and provided for a 
series of parks and drives that would make Chicago superior, 
in this respect, to any other city in the world. 



A PORTION of the Fort Dearborn Addition had been set 
-^*- apart early in the history of the city, as a public park, 
and was improved by being surrounded with a railing, and pro- 
vided with a few trees. Subsequently a tract of ground two 
miles west of the lake, between Lake and Madison Streets, was 
set off and called Union Park, but was not improved till after 
the close of the war. It contains seventeen acres, and an addi- 
tion of more than two acres was in contemplation before the 
fire, but will not now probably be made, though the order had 
passed the Common Council, tfoion Park was brought into 
good condition by the winter of 1868, at a total cost of about 
$42,500; it has since been very much improved, and is now 
one of the finest parks in the country, extent being considered. 
The sum of $12,813.40 was expended upon it during the year 
ending April 1, 1871. 

In 1866 a tract of eighty acres, lying just north of the old 
city cemetery, on the lake-shore, was taken hold of by the city, 
and about $60,000 expended on it to the close of 1868, in which 
year it was thrown open to the public. It has since then been 
wonderfully improved, no less than $38,971.61 having been 
expended on it in the year ending with March, 1871. It was 
extended by the act of February, 1869, to take in the old city 
cemetery, north from North Avenue, and to reach northwards 
a distance of one and a half miles, with a width, from the lake 
shore westward, of one-quarter of a mile, making a total area 
of 230 acres. Only the middle portion of this had been im- 
proved at the time of the fire ; it contained a series of lakes, 
nearly three miles of fine drives, and a collection of wild ani- 


rnals aud birds. The old cemetery had been practically vacated 
since 1866, but all of the bodies had not been removed, and 
the improvement of this tract was in progress in September, 

Lake Park is a narrow strip of ground on the lake shore, 
extending from Randolph Street south to Park Row about 
three-quarters of a mile. It was originally a basin of water 
separated from the lake by the breakwater built by the Illinois 
Central Company, on which their trains pass to and from the 
central depot at the foot of Lake Street. During the four 
years ending with March, 1871, about fourteen acres had been 
filled in with earth, at a total cost of $50,000, and $18,032.58 
was expended in the latter 'year a portion in grading. The 
process of filling in was much more rapid after the fire, an 
average of not less than 5000 cubic yards of rubbish being 
dumped in daily in the first month, the material being taken 
from the ruins left by the fire. It will contain about forty 
acres when filled. 

The other parks in the city previous to 1869, were Washing- 
ton Park, in the North Division, between Dearborn and Clark, 
and one mile north of the harbor; it contains two and three- 
tenths acres. Ellis park, of about three acres, near the Douglas 
Monument, just east of the site of the old Camp Douglas; 
Jefferson Park, of five and four-tenths acres, in the West 
Division, bounded by Monroe, Adams, Rucker, and Loomis 
Streets; Yernon Park of four acres, and the Wicker Park, of 
about five acres. The amounts expended by the city in improv- 
ing these, within the last fiscal year, were; Ellis, $5,593.28 ; 
Yeruon, $1,627.70; Jefferson, $2,086.63; Dearborn, $131.75; 
Washington, $14.30; Wicker, $15.75. We ought also to in- 
clude the Dexter Park a private enterprise, for racing pur- 


poses, in the south-western part of the city, near the Union 
Stock Yards. 

None of these, however, except Lincoln Park, formed a part 
of the grand park project authorized in 1869, by three separ- 
ate Legislative acts, one for each division of the city. Those 
acts extended the limits to .take in a portion of the town of 
Cicero to the westward, and provided that a part of the town 
of Jefferson should be included, if the inhabitants should con- 
sent which they did not. This western extension included the 
West Parks ; those of the South Division were to lie outside 
the city limits, in the towns of Hyde Park and Lake. These 
acts gave to the city an area of 36 square miles, or a little more 
than 23,000 acres. 

The general features of the park scheme may be thus describ- 
ed : Beginning near the Water-works, on the lake-shore, five- 
eighths of a mile to the north of the harbor, a drive two hundred 
feet wide to the north end of Lincoln Park, of 230 acres, 
already noted ; thence westward, a drive or boulevard three 
and a half miles long, to one mile west of Western Avenue, 
and meeting Milwaukee Avenue ; thenoe south half a mile, east 
a quarter, and again southward three-quarters of a mile, the 
boulevard (called after Humboldt) extends to North Avenue, 
where it meets Humboldt Park of 193J acres, lying one and a 
half miles north and three and a half miles west, from the 
Court-house. Then the Central Boulevard commences at the 
south side of Humboldt Park, runs south three-quarters of a 
mile, then westward three-quarters of a mile, and again south- 
ward one eighth of a mile, to Central Park, an irregular tract 
of land nearly a mile long from north to south, and containing 
171^ acres, the middle line of which lies on Madison Street, 
4J miles from the Court-house. Thenoe the Douglas Boule- 


vard runs south three-quarters of a mile, and eastward seven- 
eighths of a mile, to Douglas Park, containing ITly^g- acres. 
From this, another boulevard runs south four and a half miles, 
and east four and a quarter miles (nearly touching the Dex- 
ter Park), to the northern of two parks in the South Division. 

The whole of the West Division parks and boulevards, ex- 
cept the last named, were all laid out, and graded, and contracts 
let for the planting of about $30,000 worth of trees, at the 
date of the fire. Not less than four artesian wells have been 
sunk, with the most satisfactory results. One in Humboldt 
Boulevard has a flow of 350,000 gallons per day, from a depth 
of 730 feet ; one in the Central Park flows 450,000 gallons 
daily, from a depth of 1220 feet; and one in Douglas Park had 
reached a depth of 780 feet/ A considerable amount of draining 
had also been done. The boulevards are two hundred and fifty 
feet wide, and will form magnificent drives when completed. 
The one south of Douglas Park had not been specifically located 
at the date of the fire. 

The South Park system comprises about one thousand and 
fifty-five acres, and is in a much more forward state than that 
of the West Division. The Northern or Western Park contains 
372 acres, lying between Fifty-first and Sixtieth Streets. From 
the southern end of this park a broad avenue, some 850 feet wide, 
runs eastward for one mile, to the eastern division of the park 
which contains 593 acres, with a frontage of one and six-tenths 
miles on Lake Michigan. The length of the interior drives of 
these parks is 14 miles, and of walks 30 miles, besides the one 
mile of midway drive. A part of the plan is to run a pier out into 
the lake some 1100 feet, to protect a harbor on the south, which 
shall connect the lake with a series of meandering lakes in the 
interior. The whole of the South Park system had been graded 


and drained at the date of the fire, and much of the roadway 
made, giving first-class drives. From these parks several im- 
proved roads run east and west. A drive along the lake-shore to 
the old city limits has been graded and graveled, and two broad 
avenues run northward to the distance of more than a mile 
each, connecting with the wooden-block pavements of the city 

The general park system thus provides fully thirty-three 
miles of straightforward driving, without counting the length 
of the roadways round the parks, furnishing an attraction to 
equestrians and pleasure-seekers in carriages that is unequaled 
by any city in the world. As breathing places for the masses 
inside, these parks are probably too far distant to be extensively 
resorted to for some years to come, except those north and south, 
but as a real estate speculation on a mammoth scale they were 
a magnificent success. The prices of real estate in their neigh- 
borhood at once rose fully one hundred percent., and great num- 
bers of buildings were erected all along the lines of the principal 
boulevards, while numerous settlements, really suburban towns, 
sprang up in various directions from the central part of the 
city. The people of Hyde Park, the next township south of 
Chicago, judiciously cooperated in the work by entering on ex- 
tensive plans for the improvement of their streets, and effected 
a radical change in the aspect of the place within three or four 

These parks were untouched by the fire, except the cemetery 
portion of Lincoln Park, but their further improvement is neces- 
sarily suspended for awhile, except so far as contracts partially 
carried out at the time of the fire were completed. The park acts 
gave power to the commissioners to raise money by taxation, 
which can scarcely be enforced, while they also provided that 


the moneys arising from the sale of the lake front should also 
be applied to park purposes. That money will necessarily 
be placed at the disposal of the city, to aid in the work of re- 
building the public structures destroyed in the Great Confla- 


above-noted enhancement in the values of real estate 
-*- was accompanied by a marked increase in the amount of 
taxation. The city authorities had never levied a tax of so much 
as one per cent, for municipal purposes till 1856, when the rate 
was 1 T 1 1J and not until 1863 did it reach 2 per cent. It has 
never exceeded the latter figure, and was 1 per cent, in 1870. 
With this large increase in taxation, the city debt has also stead- 
ily augmented, till at the date of the fire it was nearly fourteen 
and a half millions. The following shows the amount raised 
for municipal purposes, by taxation, in each year since the war, 
with the bonded debt at the commencement of that year : 




.....$ 25,280 
. ? 373,050 
. . . . . - 1,294,183 
'.' " *'i ... 1,719,065 

Bonded Debt. 

$ 2,336,000 






. ...... " . 4,139,798 


In addition to this the city has paid each year an average of 
about 40 per cent, of the above in taxes, for State and County 
purposes, and a Government tax, which amounted to nearly 
$44,000,000 from the commencement of the war to the close 
of 1870. The Government taxes of the last year footed up 
$7,984,198 ; making a total taxation of thirteen and a half 
million dollars in 1870, besides assessments for local improve- 
ments The revenue collections of 1869 were $7,694,216. 

The total amount of special assessments made for street im- 
provements of various kinds, since the creation of the Board of 
Public Works in 1861, to April 1, 1871, was $10,648,463.44. 
Of this amount, not less than $2,359,836 was assessed in the 
last twelve months. 


SUCH immense sums of money as those collected by the 
city government argue the carrying out of city improve- 
ments after the war, on a colossal scale. But the money raised 
ty general taxation was really small in comparison with that 
raised by assessment on different parts of the city for grading, 
draining, and paving, and the cash expended in building. 

We estimated that about 6,000 buildings were erected in 
1864, at a total cost of $4,700,000; these included nine 
churches, two schools, and four halls and public buildings. In 
1865 the number increased to fully 7,000 structures within the 
year, costing $6,950,000; these included nine churches, eight 
schools and colleges, and six public buildings and halls. The 
superior character of the architecture now introduced is appa- 


rent from the statement that one of these structures cost more 
than $300,000: two cost between $200,000 and $300,000 ; six 
cost $100,000 to $200,000 each ; forty from $30,000 to $100,000 
each, and seventy-two others more than $10,000 each. 

Hitherto a great deal had been accomplished in the way of 
erecting fine structures, but little had been done with reference 
to a tout ememble that should please the correct taste. The 
streets were heterogeneity in its most intense shape the struct- 
ures being as irregular in design and front line as the vertical 
sections of the sidewalks were a few years previously. But 
now the rule changed. Parties about to erect structures near 
each other, for business or residence purposes, began to consult 
with reference to something like uniformity, and the result was 
a much better order of things. Meanwhile several buildings 
were raised to grade, among which we may note the large iron- 
front block on the corner of Wells and South Water Streets, 
weighing some thirty thousand tons, that was lifted two and a 
half feet without disturbing even a spider's web inside. 

In 1866 the aggregate number of buildings erected was 
about 5000 less than in 1865, but more costly, the total out- 
lay being $8,500,000. The number would have been much 
greater but for the well-remembered strike for a day of eight 
hours among the building trades, which caused many to 
abandon their intentions to build. The list included seven 

An enumeration made in the spring of 1868 gave a total of 
35,654 wooden buildings, and 3712 of brick and stone; total, 
39,366. Of these 32,047 were dwelling-houses, 3980 were 
stores, 1696 saloons, and 1307 were workshops and factories. 
In^this year the new structures numbered fully 7000, including 
19 churches, erected at a cost of $14,000000, which, minus 


those rebuilt, gave a total of 43,920 in the city at the close of 
the year. The operations of 1869 involved a total cost of 
$11,000,000, and those of 1870 about $12,000,000. The 
number of buildings in this city in September, 1871, was not 
far from 60,000, or an average of two to every eleven persons 
on the census roll. The official valuation of buildings and 
other improvements, gives an average of $1,000 to each build- 
ing in the city. Our estimate of a 60 per cent, valuation gives 
$1,667 as the average value of each building in the city. 

Among the new structures of this period, we note the Cham- 
ber of Commerce (1865) on the south-east corner of Washing- 
ton and Lasalle, with two fronts of white stone, 93 feet on 
Washington and 180 feet on Lasalle Street. The Exchange 
room was 88 by 128 feet on the floor, and 45 feet in height. 
The cost was $250,000; it was built by a stock company, 
called the Chamber of Commerce Association, composed 
exclusively of members of the Board of Trade, to which or- 
ganization it was rented for $20,000 per annum for ninety-nine 
years, in addition to which some thirty-six business firms paid 
rent for offices that netted a handsome profit. 

Crosby's Opera-house was completed in the summer of 1865. 
It stood on the north side of Washington Street, on which was 
a front of four handsome stores, two on each side of the princi- 
pal entrance. Behind this was the Opera-house, 90 feet by 
150 feet, seating 2500 people. The entire space occupied was 
140 feet by 153. The building was in the Italian style of 
architecture, and beautifully ornamented within and without; 
it cost $375,000. A fine brick block, 90 by 100 feet, was 
also built on State Street, at a cost of $75,000, to connect with 
the Opera-house proper. It contained a music-hall capable 
of seating 1800 people. The Opera-house was opened April 


20, 1865, with a first-class opera company. On the 29th of 
the following December Mr. Crosby failed, and in the early 
part of the following year the famous lottery was drawn, by 
which the Opera-house became the property of. a Mr. Lee, who 
deeded it back to Mr. Crosby on payment of $250,000. 

About the same time that the Opera-house was built, 
McVickers Theater was remodeled throughout. It was after- 
ward entirely rebuilt, *in 1871, and formed one of the most 
superb places of amusement in the world. In 1871 the Opera- 
house was also remodeled. In 1865. Smith & Nixon's Hall was 
built just east of the Chamber of Commerce; it was used for 
amusement purposes, principally concerts, for about three years 
then converted into a sale-room for musical instruments, 
about the same time that Bryan Hall was changed into a car- 
pet store. In the winter of 1870-71 that carpet store gave 
place to the new and elegant structure known as Hooley's 
Opera-house. The Dearborn Street Theater was built in 1868. 

A much greater number of fine churches was erected since 
the war than in any equal portion of time previously. Wabash 
Avenue in the South Division, and Washington Street in the 
West Division, seemed to have been set apart by tacit consent, 
some years previously, as church thoroughfares, and new places 
of worship appeared at almost every block along the more 
thickly settled portions, while in the North Division, church 
building was equally rapid, though not concentrated on a single 
street. And those now erected were all handsome stone struct- 
ures, costing from $40,000 to $90,000 each, beautifully fitted 
up inside, and furnished with fine organs; indeed, in the latter 
respect Chicago was taking the lead of the seaboard cities 
many of her church organs having no superiors on the con- 


This period was also known as one of magnificence in school 
buildings. The old Board of Education was legislated out of 
office in 1865, and a new Board of School Inspectors provided 
for, to be chosen by the Common Council one from each wan! 
in the city. On July 14th of that year there were 17 school dis- 
tricts, with 240 teachers, and an enrollment of 29,080 pupils, or 
only 76| per cent, of all the children of school age in the city. 
The necessity for more school accommodation was so palpable 
that in 1866 the Common Council placed $80,000 at the dis- 
posal of the Board of Education to be employed in the erection 
of new school-houses, and the State Legislature at its session of 
1866-7 authorized the council to issue $500,000 in bonds for 
the same purpose. Before the close of the next school year the 
Board had purchased five additional school lots, and erected 
four frame buildings of eight rooms each, besides commencing 
the erection of a brick school on the remaining lot, and extend- 
ing the accommodations of several of the older buildings. But 
even this large increase was found to be barely keeping pace 
with the growing requirements of the city, and the Board 
ordered the construction of additional buildings, most of which 
were of the costly order, and a great deal of fault was found 
with the Board for having expended so much money in bricks 
and stone, and costly heating apparatus, while so many little 
ones were left out in the cold. Among these were the Dore 
school, erected in 1867 ; and the Holden, Carpenter, Hayes, and 
Clark, in 1868, at a cost of $58,000 to $74,000 each. After 
1868 the Board was forced to secure less expensive buildings, 
but with all their efforts they were unable to keep pace with 
the growing demand for more room. In 1871 the school accom- 
modations were barely equal to fifty per cent, of the number of 
children of school age in the city. 


Educational ^institutions of a higher order were not forgotten. 
Prominent among these % was the University of Chicago, situated 
in Cottage Grove, near the old site of Camp Douglas. One 
wing had previously been erected. In 1865 the main building 
was nearly completed, at a cost of $150,000; it covers 80 by 
12C feet, and is built of rough hewn stone. Immediately to 
the west of this was erected the Dearborn Observatory (iu 
1864), at a cost of $30,000. It was supplied with what was 
then the largest and best refracting telescope in the world, the 
object glass having a clear aperture of 18J inches, with a focal 
length of 23 feet. The big telescope is fitted with circles which 
enable the observer to measure accurately the position of a star 
or other object under examination, and is so mounted that it 
can be turned to any part of the visible heavens by the mere 
pressure of a finger ; it is provided with clock work to carry it 
round at the same rate as the stars appear to move, so that 
when once pointed on an object, the observer can watch the 
same point for an hour together without the trouble of chang- 
ing the position of the instrument. The Observatory was also 
furnished, in 1868, with a meridian circle, having a transit 
telescope of six French inches aperture. With this was under- 
taken the important work (by Prof. Safford), in conjunction with 
astronomers in a few other observatories, of recatalogtiing all 
the stars in the heavens down to the ninth magnitude inclusive. 

In 1865 the Chicago Academy of Sciences (established in 
1857) issued life memberships at $500 each, for the purpose 
of raising funds wherewith to erect a suitable building for 
their collections. Pending the completion of the new edifice, 
at No. 263 Wabash Avenue, near Van Buren Street, the collec- 
tions of the Academy were removed to Metropolitan Block, 
which was burned in 1866, destroying over 18,000 specimens. 


The new building, 55 by 50 feet, two stories high, was com- 
pleted the next year at a cost of $46,000, and was thought to 
be perfectly fire-proof. The Chicago Historical Society erected 
another fire-proof building, in 1868, on the corner of Dearborn 
and Ontario Streets, at a cost of $35,000, as a part of a struct- 
ure that should cost $200,000 when completed. In 1866, the 
:dd Metropolitan Block, on the corner of Randolph and Lasalle 
Sheets, was remodeled for occupancy by the Young Men's Li- 
brary Association. 

Up to this time the buildings of the Academy of Sciences 
and of the Historical Society, were the only fire-proof struct- 
ures in the city, except the Custom-house and Post-office erect- 
ed in 1859-60. Next in order was the Tribune building, on 
the corner of Madison and Dearborn Streets, and following that 
was the First National Bank building, on the corner of State 
and Washington Streets. Two or three others were subsequent- 
ly erected, prominent among which was the Bryan Safe Depos- 
itory building, on Randolph Street, just west of the Sherman 
House. Not one of these noble piles escaped, though money 
had been lavished in the attempt to make them secure from the 
visitations of the fire-fiend. In an ordinary conflagration they 
might have stood unharmed ; but when the whole city was 
burning, the material of which they were composed fairly melted 
amid the intense heat of the surrounding structures. 

A great number of hotels were erected during this period 
so many that we can scarcely enumerate them. In the South 
Division the Palmer House, the Ogden Hotel, the Pacific Hotel, 
Michigan Avenue Hotel, the Bigelow, the Nevada, and several 
other minor ones, were all competing, or about to compete, with 
each other, and with the hotels already in existence at the close 
of the war ; while in the North and West Divisions other struct- 


ures were springing up, with the same intent, though not so 
prominent as those first mentioned. Indeed, the whole city was 
bristling with hotel structures, and not a few of them were un- 
occupied. Those in the West Division, that previous to the fire 
were void of tenants, have since been well filled, as the proprie- 
tors of the new Sherman and Briggs Houses can testify. 

The principal building enterprises of the city during the 
after-war period, were the two tunnels under the river, the 
Water-works, the extension of the Court-house, and the new 

As early as 1855 a company was formed, with W. B. Ogden 
as president, for the purpose of securing a system of tunnels 
under the river, but the financial depressions of succeeding 
years prevented the scheme from being carried out. Eleven 
years later it was found that though there was a bridge at an 
average interval of two blocks all along the river, in the mort 
thickly settled portions of the city, with several others beyond, 
they were totally inadequate to meet the demand for travel, as 
the growth of the city was commensurate with a growth of its 
lake commerce which necessitated a more frequent opening of 
the bridges not less than seven of which were built in 1868. 
Then it was decided to build a tunnel under the river at 
Washington Street, which was thrown open to the public for 
travel on the 1st of January, 1869. The tunnel cost about 
$400,000, and involved the excavation of 44,000 cubic yards 
of clay, and the laying of 10,000 cubic yards of stone masonry, 
besides 6000 yards of brick work, and 5000 yards of concrete. 
The roadway for carriages commences at Clinton and Franklin 
Streets, and is open for a distance of one block on each side of 
the river, the excavation being protected by iron railings set on 
heavy stone copings. From Market to Canal Streets the road- 


way is arched over for a distance of 983 feet, being divided into 
two passage ways, each 11 feet wide and 15 feet high. The 
underside of the crown of the arches is 2 feet below the bed 
of the river, which has 14 feet depth of water at that point, 
and is 200 feet wide. The total descent of the tunnel is about 
26 feet. The total length of the tunnel is 536 yards. On the 
southern side of this tunnel is a separate passage for pedestrians, 
reached by a winding stairway on Market and Canal Streets. 
This tunnel proved so great a success that another was built in 
1870 at Lasalle Street, to connect the North and South Divis- 
ions. It was opened but three months Txifore the fire. The 

plan is somewhat similar to that of the first-named tunnel, but 

it contains many improvements. The cost is $549,000. The 
total length, including approaches, is 630 yar<^. 

The Court-house square is the property qf the County of 
Cook, and what was called the City Hall belonged to the city 
and county, the former owning eight parts in twenty-one of 
the building, which was erected in 1853, and enlarged in 1858. 
Ten years afterward a plan was agreed upon which provided 
for the erection of two fire-proof wings, each 80 feet wide and 
130 feet long three stories high. The west wing, owned by 
the city, contained the offices of the Mayor, Board of Police, 
Board of Public Works, Fire Marshal, fire alarm telegraph, and 
Council Chamber, etc. The east or county wing contained a 
jail in the basement, and above that the court rooms for the 
different judges of the county, the county records, the law 
library, etc. The original design was that the city wing should 
cost $250,000, and the county wing $200,000, but owing to inse- 
cure foundations, and buckling roof, and other etceteras of city 
contracting, the structures cost a great deal more than the sums 
above named. The cost of the city wing, to March 31, 1871, 


was $467,000. It was intended at some future time to take 
down the central portion and rebuild it 265 feet high, in har- 
mony with the wings, with balconies outside to serve the needs 
of public speakers. But this part of the programme was not 
carried out. In the spring of 1871 a fine tower clock was 
placed in the dome, by the Astronomical Society, the funds 
having been raised by private subscription obtained by Mr. E. 
Colbert, principally from members of the Board of Trade. 
The correct time was furnished to the city, through this clock, 
from the Dearborn Observatory. 

The new city Bridewell was opened in the early part of 1871. 
It is a fine brick structure, costing $304,637, located on the 
west bank of the south branch of the river, about half a mile 
west of Wester^ Avenue. Only a portion of the building is 
finished, the remaining part being intended to be erected by 
prison labor. The plan includes a main building 448 feet 
long, the central portion 48 by 60 feet, and two stories high, 
surmounted by a tower 50 feet high. This serves as offices 
and rooms for the officers of the Bridewell, and their fam- 
ilies. The right wing contains four tiers of stone cells for 
288 male prisoners; the left wing is similar, divided into 
200 cells for female prisoners. The portions to be subse- 
quently constructed by the prisoners, were workshops, etc., 
running back at right angles from the main building, and in- 
closing two areas. Owing to a division of opinion between the 
Mayor and Common Council, the Bridewell commissioners were 
only appointed just before the fire, and no superintendent had 
been secured at the date of the conflagration. K 

The other important public building of this period, was the 
new water tower, the corner-stone of which was laid March 25, 
1867. It is situated about half a block west of the old pump- 


ing works, on the east end of Chicago Avenue, and consists 
essentially of an iron column, three feet in internal diameter, 
and 130 feet high, up which the water is forced by powerful 
pumps, and thence flows by its own weight into the water- 
pipes and hydrants of the city. The column is surrounded by 
a spiral stairway, inside a stone tower, which stands on a fine 
stone base of twenty-four feet square. Adjacent to the water 
tower were erected buildings to contain the four pumping 
engines, with an aggregate pumping capacity of 71,000,000 
gallons daily. The last engine was placed in 1871, and has a 
daily capacity of 36,000,000 gallons. These pumps are sup- 
plied from the celebrated lake tunnel, which is of sufficient im- 
portance to be briefly described in a separate chapter. 


tunnel under the lake, which has so often been cited as 
a proof of marvelous engineering skill, is a "great bore," 
which runs out from the lake-shore, starting about one mile 
north of the Court-house, and bears out under the lake a dis- 
tance of two miles, in a direction of some two points to the 
north of east. At the shore end a shaft nine feet in diameter is 
sunk to a .depth of about seventy-five feet. The shore being a 
shifting quicksand, to a depth of twenty-six feet, it was found 
necessary to sink a huge iron cylinder through it for that dis- 
tance, within which the sand was scooped out till clay was 
reached, after which the regular 'excavation was made, and the 
whole bricked up from the bottom. The first ground was 


broken on the 17th of March, 1864, in the presence of the 
Mayor, the Board of Public Works, the projector of the tunnel 
E. S. Chesborough, Esq., and numerous other city officials. 
Then the excavation for the tunnel was commenced, seventy 
feet below water level. Meanwhile a giant crib was being con- 
structed to be sunk at the east end of the tunnel, and was towed 
out and sunk on the 25th of July, 1865, in the presence of 
Governor Oglesby and a large concourse of people. 

The crib is forty and a half feet high, and built in pentagonal 
form, in a circumscribing circle of ninety-eight and a half feet 
in diameter. It is built of logs one foot square, and consists of 
three walls, at a distance of eleven feet from each other, leaving 
a central pentagonal space having an inscribed circle of twenty- 
five feet, within which is fixed the iron cylinder, nine feet in 
diameter, running from the water line to the tunnel, sixty-four 
feet below the surface, and thirty-one feet below the bed of the 
lake at that point. The crib is /thoroughly braced in every 
direction. It contains 750,000 feet of lumber, board 'measure, 
and 150 tons iron bolts. It is filled with 4500 tons of stone, 
and weighs 5700 tons. The crib stands twelve feet above the 
water line, giving a maximum area of 1200 feet which can be 
exposed at one sweep to the action of the waves, reckoning 
the resistance as perpendicular. The outside was thoroughly 
caulked, equal to a first-class vessel, with three threads in each 
seam, the first and last being what is called "horsed." Over 
all these there is a layer of lagging to keep the caulking in 
place and protect the crib proper from the action of the waves. 
A covered platform or house was built over the crib, enabling 
the workmen to prosecute the work uninterrupted by rain or 
wind, and affording a protection for the earth brought up from 
the excavation, and permitting it to be carried away by scows, 


whose return cargoes were bricks for the lining of the tunnel. 
The top of the cylinder was subsequently covered with a grating 
to keep out floating logs, fish, etc. A sluice made in the side 
of the crib was opened to let in the water, and a light-house 
was intended to be built over all, serving the double purpose of 
guarding the crib from injury by vessels and of showing the 
way to the harbor of Chicago. 

Down the iron cylinder, inside this* crib, the workmen 
descended, and began the work of excavating toward the shore. 
They laid their first brick on the 22d of December, 1865, and 
in twelve months more the two sets of workmen met beneath 
the waves, the last brick (which was a stone) being laid by 
Mayor Rice on the 6th of December, 1866. 

The inside width of the tunnel is five feet, and the inside 
height five feet and two inches, the top and bottom arches being 
semicircles. It is lined with brick masonry eight inches thick, 
in two rings or shells, the bricks being laid lengthwise of the 
tunnel, with toothing joints. The bottom of the inside surface 
of the bore at the east end is sixty-six feet below water level, 
or sixty-four feet below city datum, and has a gradual slope 
toward the shore of two feet per mile, falling four feet in the 
whole distance, to admit of it being thoroughly emptied in case 
of repairs, the water being shut off at the crib by means of a 
gate. The lower half of the bore is constructed in such a 
manner that the bricks lie against the clay, while in the upper 
half the bricks are wedged in between the brick and the clay, 
thus preventing any danger which might result from the tre- 
menlous pressure which, it was feared, might burst out the 

From this tunnel, water was first supplied to the hydrants of 
the city, March 2oth, 1867, and from that time forward the 


people of Chicago had a bountiful supply of the best water in the 
world, always clear, as being taken from a point in the lake too 
far removed from the shore to admit of fouling from the city 
sewerage, or the washings of the land surface in a storm. 

The tunnel will deliver under a head of two feet, 19,000,000 
gallons of water daily ; under a head of eight feet, 38,000,000 
gallons daily, and under a head of eighteen feet, 57,000,000 
gallons daily. The velocities for the above 'quantities will be 
one and four-tenths miles per hour, head being two feet ; head 
being eight feet, the velocity will be two and three-tenths miles 
per hour ; and the head being eighteen feet the velocity will be 
four and two-tenths miles per hour. By these means it will be 
competent to supply one million people with fifty-seven gallons 
each per day, with a head of eighteen feet. 

Yet with this enormous capacity the full working limits of 
the tunnel bade fair to be occasionally reached in 1875. On 
one day in 1870 it supplied 28,750,000 gallons, the average for 
the year being about 22,000,000 gallons daily added to this 
was the difficulty of forcing the water through the immense 
length of water pipe laid in the city. In 1870 it was decided 
to construct another tunnel of seven feet diameter, having 
double the capacity of the former one, and to carry it to some 
point in the south-western part of the city for an independent 
supply. Owing to a quarrel in the Council, relative to an al- 
leged attempt to swindle the city in the purchase of a location 
for the new pumping works, the contract had not been signed 
at the date of the conflagration. The second tunnel will prob- 
ably not be constructed for some years to come. 

The total amount of water pipe laid during the twelve 
months ending with March 31, 1871, was: 


North Division, 42,628 feet. 

South " 56,656 " 

West " 81,443 " 

Total, 180,727 feet 

Or 34J miles, being 2J miles more than laid in any previous 
year. This includes a large amount of two-feet pipe, which 
nearly completed a circuit of thirteen miles around the city, 
supplying the smaller mains. 

The total amount of miles of water pipe in the city is 272J. 
The total in 1862 was 105 miles; at the close of 1868 it was 
195 miles. 

Of fire hydrants, there were erected during the year 63 in 
the North, 74 in the South, and 121 in the West Divisions. 
Total, 258; making a total of 1552 in the city to date. The 
number of water meters in use was 657. 

The cost of the additions to water-works during the year 
was 602,491.20; total from the beginning $4,279,896. 

The total length of water pipe laid in the city to date, in 
feet, was, 30 inch, 280; 28 inch, 160; 24 inch, 57,576 ; 16 inch, 
31,340; 12 inch, 34,281; 10 inch, 7862; 8 inch, 161,489; 
6 inch, 510,701; 4 inch, 607,048; 3 inch, 27,816. Total, 
1,438,553 feet, or 272J miles, of which 34.2 miles were laid in 
the past twelve months. 



i '' . 

S" INGE the war the city had rebuilt several of the bridges over 
the river, introducing important improvements in their 
construction. In September, 1871, there were not less than 
twenty-seven city bridges, erected at a cost of 20,000 to $48,000 
(uch. In addition to these there were six railroad bridges. On 
the 31st of March, 1871, an account was taken of the travel over 
the city bridges. The reckoning aggregated 246,015 pedes- 
trians and 45,306 vehicles on that day. The number passing 
through the Washington Street tunnel on the same day, was 
7231 pedestrians and 1616 vehicles. 

The sewerage system comprises 15l miles of street sewers, 
besides drains to houses, etc., all laid since 1856. Of this 
about 15 miles were added in 1870-1. The number of private 
drains is 24,990 ; number of catch-basins, 4529. Total cost of 
construction to date (besides private drains), $2,872,488. There 
were only 75 miles of sewerage in 1865 the amount having 
been more than doubled since the war. 

In 1865 the city had 2500 lamp-posts. On the 31st of 
March, 1871, the number had grown to 6555, of which 1468 
were in the North Division, 1963 in the South, and 3124 in 
the West Division. 

Previous to 1865, only about two and a half lineal miles of 
streets had been paved with wooden blocks. In the beginning 
of 1871, no less than fifty-seven miles had been paved with 
wooden blocks, of which nineteen and a half miles were laid 
the previous year. About three-fourths of the entire travel of 
the city was done on the improved streets. The following shows 
the number of lineal feet of each kind of pavement in each 



division, in April, 1871, with the total in miles for the whole 

Wooden-block, . . 


McAdam, . 

Gravel, . 



Total miles streets improved, 

Total streets in Chicago, miles, 534. 














19 900 

3 77 




' . t i 
















There were 561 miles of sidewalks in the city, mostly of 
pine planking. The quantity laid up to the spring of 1854, was 
159 miles. 

Next in importance to the lake tunnel, for the supply of pure 
water, was the work of deepening the Illinois and Michigan 
canal, undertaken by the city as a sanitary measure, that being 
the only feasible plan proposed for keeping the river pure. 
That bayou had gradually become so foul from the drainage of 
packing-houses, distilleries, gas-works, etc., with the general 
sewerage of the city, that it had become an annoyance to the 
people of Chicago, and a standing joke in other cities. The 
huge pumping works at Bridgeport, established for the purpose 
of feeding the upper level of the canal, had been used to clean 
out the river occasionally, but the remedy was only spasmodic, 
a*nd the nuisance was soon worse than before. An act was 
passed February 16, 1865, by which it was provided that the 
city of Chicago might enter into an arrangement with the 


Board of Canal Trustees with a view to complete the summit 
level of the canal on the original deep-cut plan, with such 
modifications in the line as would most effectually secure the 
cleansing of the river. The city received authority to issue 
bonds to the amount required, and it was provided that the 
cost of deepening should be a vested lien upon the canal 
and its revenues, provided the total cost did not exceed 

Under this guarantee the Common Council appointed a board 
of commissioners, and the money was raised. The work was 
begun in February, 1866, and finished July 15, 1870, at a total 
cost of about $3,251,621, the amount expended to April 1, 
1871, exclusive of interest, being $2,982,437. 

The length of the section of canal cut down during this work 
was twenty-six miles. The bottom of this section is now eight 
and a half feet below the ordinary water level of lake Michi- 
gan, and six feet lower than the city datum, which was fixed 
by the low-water mark of 1847. The bed of the canal has an 
inclination downward from Chicago of one-tenth of a foot per 
mile, which gives a current of about one mile per hour. The 
width of the bottom is forty-four to forty-eight feet, the slope 
of the banks is one and a half to one in the earth excavation, 
and one to one in the rock excavation, below the water line. 



ri^HE needs of commerce demanded large extensions after 
-*- the war. The harbor accommodations had long been too 
limited. The process of dredging and docking the river had 
gone forward rapidly, there being, in 1871, nearly fourteen 
miles of wharves, built at an average cost of $100,000 per 
mile; these included several slips, the largest being those of 
the South Chicago Dock Company, in the West Division, op- 
posite Bridgeport. But much further extension in this direc- 
tion was found to be impossible, as the number of vessels became 
so great that jams were frequent, and collisions unavoidable, in 
passing up and down the river. To obviate this it was pro- 
posed to form an outer harbor, inclosing large tracts of wharf- 
age property on the lake-shore, north and south. 

The first effort in this direction was made by the North 
Chicago Dock Company, of which "Wm. B. Ogden was Presi- 
dent. They commenced in 1863 to put down a line of piling 
north of the harbor, but it was swept away by the waves, and 
the work was abandoned till 1867, when it was again proceeded 
with, though slowly. The plan comprises a breakwater 500 
feet long, built northward from the eastern extension of the 
north pier. From the northern extremity of this breakwater 
another will run eastward, a distance of 1500 feet, to the shore. 
An area extending 390 feet north from the pier, and west to 
the shore of the lake, will be filled in, and through the center 
of this made laud will run a street from the main shore to the 
eastern channel. The block thus created will be divided into lots 
for dockage purposes. On the north side of this made land there 
will be a channel, 110 feet wide, penetrating Michigan Street 



as far as Sand Street. The water in the basin will be twenty- 
two feet, and the largest vessels will easily float in the canal. 
The two will give as much wharfage as is now afforded by both 
sides of the river, as far as the confluence of the two branches, 
It is believed that the extension, when completed, will obviate 
the difficulties heretofore caused by the exposure of the harbor 
mouth to the lake current, which now brings immense quanti- 
ties of sand every year from the north-east, and has formed a 
bar through which a passage could only be kept open by con- 
stant dredging. The entrance to these docks will be through 
a gap in the pier near the light-house. When the north line 
of this work is filled up with sand, the breakwater will be 
extended still farther north, the enterprise contemplating the 
covering of the north shore as far as Chicago Avenue. 

Another dock extension was begun in 1870, under the charge 
of Colonel D. C. Houston, United States Engineers. An appro- 
priation of $100,000 had previously been made by Congress, 
most of which was expended in 1870. A breakwater, 900 feet 
long, is built eastwardly from the south pier, extending out into 
the lake as far as the north pier, leaving a passage of 500 feet 
between them for entrance to the harbor. From the eastern 
end of this breakwater another line of 2000 feet in length runs 
southward, which will be extended to 4000 feet, connecting 
with another line running 3400 feet westward to the present 
breakwater of the Illinois Central Railroad. This plan gives a 
basin of 275 acres, a portion of which is already twelve feet 
deep; it will be reached by an opening of 600 feet wide in the 
northern side. A further extension of these docks to the south- 
ward may be made by private or municipal enterprise almost 
to an indefinite extent, should the future commerce of the city 
require it. 


Several other harbor improvements were in progress; prom- 
inent among which was the dock system, begun in 1871, by 
Hon. J. Y. Scammon, on the 1500 feet of lake front belonging 
to the Douglas estate, near Cottage Grove. He had purchased 
the right of the Douglas heirs to this property for $25,000, and 
had already built out several piers 1 20 feet long, into the lake, 
which had caught large quantities of sand from the north-east 

Besides the docks outside the Chicago harbor, the greatest 
improvement was at the Calumet harbor, seven miles south of 
the city limits, and two and a half miles beyond the south 
park. Work was commenced there in September, 1870, under 
the charge of Colonel Houston, Congress having appropriated 
$50,000 for the construction of piers and the impcovement of 
the channel of what is known as the Calumet River. Two 
piers are constructed; the north pier will be 1400 feet long, of 
which 730 feet are already completed ; the south pier is built 
out to a distance of 430 feet. The bar at the mouth of the 
harbor has been dredged out to a depth of nine or ten feet. 
The total cost of the Government improvements projected is 
about $300,000, which it is believed will give a harbor fit to 
receive vessels of a heavy tonnage. 

Outside the Government work, the Calumet and Chicago 
Canal and Dock Company had in hand a grand scheme of 
improvements in the summer of 1871. They own about 6000 
acres of land in that vicinity, and had established coal and lum- 
ber works there, were building a hotel, and had begun the 
construction of some ten miles of dockage, of which one and a 
naif miles was under way. Several factories are located there, 
and it is highly probable that Calumet will ere long be a pros- 
perous city of itself, though the ambition of its founders be not 


realized. They shared in the belief, expressed by some people 
in farther distant places, that it will be possible to isolate Chi- 
cago from the commerce of the future. 

Previous to 1865 the business of buying and selling live 
stock had been carried on simultaneously at several yards, at 
great disadvantage to both buyers and sellers. Very frequently 
it was the case, that the market for cattle or hogs was quite 
active at one yard, while at the others it was fearfully dull. 
Sometimes the receipts at one yard would almost equal the 
combined receipts of all the others, thus rendering trade brisk 
at the latter, and lifeless at the former; while the commercial 
reporters from the various papers had great difficulty from these 
causes in making up an accurate summary of the daily market. 
But the trade finally attained to such proportions that it was 
found necessary to consolidate it at one point, which could be 
reached by all the railroads running east and west. The issuing 
of the prospectus was followed by an almost immediate sub- 
scription of the stock of one million dollars, of which $925,000 
was subscribed by nine railroad companies. On the 1st of 
June, 1865, ground was broken on the present site on Halstead 
Street, near the city limits south, and the work was rapidly 
pushed forward to completion, while the Hough House adja- 
cent was erected as the head-quarters, and a bank was opened 
for the accommodation of those engaged in the trade. 

The following is a summary of items : Opened for business, 
December 25, 1865; area of ground, 345 acres; number of 
acres in pens, 100; acres used for hotel and other buildings, 
45; present capacity, 21,000 head of cattle, 75,000 hogs, 22,000 
sheep, 200 horses; total, 118,200. There are in yards 31 miles 
of drainage, 7 miles of streets and alleys, 3 miles of water 
troughs, 10 miles of feed troughs, 2300 gates, 1500 open pens, 

CHICAGO IN 1871. 167 

800 covered pens. 22,000,000 feet of lumber were used in the 
construction, at a total cost of $1,675,000. The water is sup- 
plied by an artesian well about 1100 feet deep. 


WE have thus brought down the history of the city to the 
year 1871, just forty years after the organization of 
Cook County. It will be well to group briefly some of the 
leading facts of her condition just previous to the fire, that the 
reader may gain a clearer idea of the magnitude of the city that 
the fire fiend sought to destroy. 

The following is a statement of the population, area, number 
of buildings, and value of properly in the city, by divisions : 

Divisions. Population. Area, acres. Buildings. Value property. 


Total, 334,270 30,000 59,500 $620,000,000 

The last column includes property not assessed for taxation. 
The following were the numbers of the churches belonging 
to the different denominations : 
Baptist 20 churches, 8 missions. 
Christian 4 societies, 2 churches. 
Congregational ist 13 churches, 2 missions. 
Episcopal 15 churches, 4 missions. 
Evangelical 17 churches. 
Independent 1 church, 5 missions. 














Jewish 5 synagogues. 

Lutheran 6 churches, 1 mission. 

Methodist Episcopal 21 churches. 

Presbyterian 19 churches, 8 missions. 

Roman Catholic- 25 churches, 12 convents and schools. 

Swedenborgian 2 churches, 2 missions. 

Unitarian 3 churches and one other society. 

Universalist 3 churches and a fourth society. 

Friends 2 societies. 

Miscellaneous 4 churches. 

Total, 156 church structures, and 36 missions or societies 
not owning church structures; besides the 12 Catholic convents 
and schools. 

The total attendance on these churches was 150,000 people; 
number of Sabbath-school scholars, 57,000. The value of the 
church property, including lands, was $10,350,000, or an aver- 
age of $69.00 to each attendant. 

The city owned forty school lots, having a total value of 
$1,086,735, on which 41 buildings were erected, and 11 build- 
ings on lots not owned by the city ; other buildings were rented. 
The total value of school buildings, including furniture and 
heating apparatus, was $1,199,906. Total of buildings and 
grounds, $2,286,641. Of these, one, the High School, was of 
stone ; 27 of brick, and 22 of wood, most of the latter being 
branch schools. The contracts were also let, at the time of the 
fire, for 3 other brick buildings, each three stories in height. 
Of the above cited buildings, 34 were erected since 1860; 
and 8 in the school year ending June 30, 1871, giving 5639 
additional seats. 

The following are the principal educational statistics for the 
same year: 



Schools (I High; 23 Grammar; 15 Primary ), .... 39 

Teachersjn High School (males 10, females 13), .... 23 

Total Teachers in Schools (males 33, females 539), . . 572 

Pupils enrolled in High School, 675 

" other Schools (boys 20,395, girls 19,762), 40,832 

School Census preceding year, 80,280 

Average number belonging, 28,174 

Average daily attendance, 27,023 

Salaries of Teachers, $444,635 

Total expenditures of year, 596,388 

Cost per Pupil for Tuition, on average attendance, . . . 16.45 
Total Cost per Scholar, " " " . 25.54 

Receipts from School-tax Fund, "... $366,025 

" " State Fund, 41,758 

" " Rente and Interest, 69,299 

Total received in year, $477,082 

The amount of tax levied in the year was really but 
1436,008.36 ^1.58 mills), on a valuation of $275,986,550. 

The real estate within the city limits, belonging to the School 
Fund, was appraised at .... $2,445,032 
Do. outside city limits, .... 132,641 

Money loaned, Principal of School Fund, . 128,940 

Wharfing lot fund, 68,062 

Total School Fund, 


The commercial status of the city, given statistically in 
preceding chapters, may be best understood by a glance at its 
railroad connections. Chicago is situated at the focus of a vast 
network of railroads, which have, to a large extent, supplanted 
the water routes of freight traffic for all but the bulkiest lines 
of goods. Building-stone and brick still enter the city by the 

Illinois and Michigan Canal, and a part of the lumber shipped 


to the interior has followed the same route, but the receipts of 
grain by canal in 1870 and 1871 were very small, while those 
per rail were limited only by the carrying capacities of the rail- 
roads; they averaged over 1200 car loads per day, or 12,000 
tons, through a great portion of the summer of 1871. The lake 
held its own much better for the shipment of grain East, but 
the railroads leading to the seaboard were rapidly growing in 
favor as shipping lines for grain, especially in winter, and it 
was in contemplation to build a railroad through to New York, 
to be used exclusively for freight purposes a project which 
was only kept back by the fact that the carriers on the lake 
were willing to guarantee weights of grain, which the" railroads 
would not. The receipts by lake had dwindled down to a very 
small point, till the opening up of the Montreal route in the 
spring of 1871, by which large quantities of goods were im- 
ported direct from Europe. 

The iron rail was the bond of union that connected Chicago 
with the world around. She lay on the great rail highway of 
travel around the globe, and the wealth of nations was poured 
into her lap by the long trains that followed the iron horse in 
his laborious puffings over the vast network of rail that owned 
Chicago as a center. We will make brief mention of the chief 
avenues of traffic with the world around her. 

Hugging the lake-shore in its trend almost due north, is the 
Chicago & Milwaukee Railroad, connecting at the latter city 
with lines running into the interior of Wisconsin, and opening 
up valuable trade with its most important towns. The orig- 
inal North-western Railroad trends a little farther away to 
the west, striking directly into the heart of Wisconsin, and run- 
ning direct to the Green Bay and Lake Superior regions, whose 
mineral wealth is only just beginning to be appreciated. Run 

CHICAGO IN 1871. 171 

ning almost due -west is the Iowa Division of the North-west- 
ern Road formerly the Galena, the first to be constructed, and 
the first to make connection with the Great Pacific Railroad, by 
which this line connects with the mineral riches of the mount- 
ain territories, the vast Pacific slope, and the Asiatic continent 
beyond. Next in order is the Rock Island & Pacific Railroad, 
bearing away a little to the southward, crossing the Mississippi 
at Rock Island, and thence spanning the State of Iowa, through 
its most fertile portions to the " Mighty Missouri " at Council 
Bluffs, where it enters the Pacific trail as a competitor with the 
North-western. Bearing nearly south-west is the Burlington 
& Quincy, which crosses the Mississippi at two points, both 
of which are on the line of travel to the Pacific shore the 
more southerly bearing across North Missouri to Kansas, where 
the Hannibal & St. Joseph is met by lines to Denver and 
those stretching out toward the rich Indian Territory and 
Texas. Still farther southward runs the line to St. Louis di- 
rect, connecting there with roads into the interior of Missouri, 
and the vast region beyond. And last in the line of feeders 
comes the mammoth Illinois Central, with its sixteen hundred 
miles of roadway and connections, bringing the city into inti- 
mate relations with the whole valley of the Mississippi, as far 
down as New Orleans, and the Gulf of Mexico, with the rich 
lands on the Southern Red River region. These lines, radiat- 
ing from Chicago like the spokes of a wheel from its hub, were 
interlaced at short intervals by other lines, all of which formed 
rich feeders to those main arteries along which flowed the life 
blood that kept the pulse of Chicago beating healthfully, while 
two other roads were already organized, and several more talked 
of, to enter Chicago from the country westward of her merid- 
ian. All these formed the avenues of her western trade ; along 


them was poured in a daily stream, of scarcely conceivable 
magnitude, the rich produce of the North-west into her lap, and 
the same trains carried back with them a return commerce that 
was of almost equally inconceivable proportions. Figures can 
hardly convey an idea of the extent of a trade to which that 
of Tyre in her palmiest days was a mere foreshadowing, any 
more than a statement of distance can enable the mind to grasp 
the distance that separates us from the fixed stars. 

To the eastward there are four competing roads, the Pitts- 
burgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis first mentioned, though last in 
the order of time. Next, the Pittsburgh & Fort Wayne; then, 
running due east, the Lake-Shore route, formerly the Michigan 
Southern, and lastly, dipping a little to the north, the Michigan 
Central. Besides these, a fifth road, the Grand Trunk exten- 
sion, is nearly finished, running through South Bend, Indiana, 
to Port Huron. These roads not only opened up a sea-board 
connection with the ports of Baltimore, Philadelphia, New 
York, Boston, Portland, and Quebec, and thence with Eu- 
rope, but they furnished a means of reaching the Eastern States 
through numerous ramifications. How important to Chicago 
is the last named feature, may be judged from the fact that of 
the grain exports of the Garden City in 1870, not more than 
five per cent, of the corn, and not twenty per cent, of the wheat 
was sent across the Atlantic. The rest went to supply the 
needs of the dwellers on the Atlantic slope, and in return those 
roads brought back the products of the Eastern States, which, 
though laden with heavy protective duties, were still welcome to 
the people of Chicago and the wide expanse of country beyond. 

The Board of Trade had a membership of 1224 in Septem- 
ber, 1871; J. F. Preston, President, and Charles Randolph, 

CHICAGO IN 1871. 173 

The railroad system thus established the city as the commer- 
cial focus of the North-west. Her position at the head of the 
great chain of lakes attracted hither the commerce of the con- 
tinent East as well as West as the neck of an hour-glass is 
the channel through which flows all the sand collected in the 
bulb above. The railroad was instituted as the competitor of 
the water route only when it was seen that the process would 
pay, and let it be remembered that this grand competition was 
instituted by outside capital. The city of Chicago never in- 
vested a dollar in railroad stocks, and the merchants did very 
little in that direction. Hence, the complaints of other cities, 
that Chicago was reaching round them in the matter of rail- 
roads, were unfounded. The capitalists of the East would have 
been just as willing to spend money in the construction of roads 
elsewhere if there had been an equally good prospect of profit. 
They tfnited to build railroads running to Chicago from every 
direction, simply because they saw it would pay to do it, and 
the sagacity of the merchants of the Garden City has amply 
demonstrated the wisdom of their choice in the past, whatever 
it may do in the future. 

And the proportion of home manufactures, in the immense 
annual aggregate of over four hundred million dollars worth of 
sales at first hand, was rapidly increasing. In 1871 it had at- 
tained to very nearly one-fourth part of the entire amount, and 
manufactories were springing up on every hand, in plentiful 
number, to change that fraction nearer and nearer toward 

With such an important position in the world at large, 
Chicago, in 1871, could not be other than a great and powerful 
city, her wealth filling capacious warehouses and stores, lining 
scores of miles of streets, her merchants and manufacturers 


princes in the land, residing in palaces that found few equals in 
the old world, and surrounded by every luxury that genius 
could invent or art supply. The following will give a general 
idea of the distribution of activity and population in the ?ity ; 

A reference to the map shows that Chicago is divided by the 
river and its branches into three parts, designated the South, 
North, and West. 

A strip of land all along the lake shore, from a quarter to 
three-eighths of a mile wide, and eleven miles long, included the 
more aristocratic residence portions of the city and its outlying 
suburbs Lakevietf and Hyde Park. Nearly the whole of 
this immense section was covered with the most costly build- 
ings. That part of it in the North Division, which extends 
one mile from the harbor, was originally the most exclusive 
portion, being largely held by the oldest residents or their 
families. Then Michigan Avenue, lying near the lake-shore in 
the South Division, began to compete with it, and was soon 
filled up with princely structures of marble, that vied, both in 
architectural beauty and internal adornment, with the most 
ornate edifices of Europe. Then "VVabash Avenue, next to the 
westward, with the cross-streets and "courts," was filled up by 
the wealthier classes, the line of improvements gradually spread- 
ing southward, and covering the avenues that run in to the east 
of Michigan as the. lake recedes from that thoroughfare in the 
southern part of the city. For a distance of about a mile and 
a half south from the harbor, the lake is girt by the iron rails 
along which passed the traffic of 'three important lines to the 
great Central Depot at the foot of Lake Street. 

The South Division, from the river south to Harrison Street, 
was pre-eminently the business portion of the city, and latterly 
the march of commerce had invaded the two principal avenues 

CHICAGO IN 1871. 175 

with tall piles of wholesale stores, and driving the inhabitants 
further southward. In this section were situated all the banks 
of the city except two, all the principal hotels, and all the 
theaters, etc., except the sorry institution called the " Globe," 
as wdl as all the leading wholesale establishments in every 
branch of trade, and many large manufactories, principally of 
clothing and boots and shoes. The total value of the real 
estate, building improvements, and merchandise, in this tract 
of about three-quarters of a square mile in area, was not much 
less than one-third of the total value of real and personal 
property within the thirty-six square miles bounded by the 
city limits. 

Along the river and its branches were ranged lumber-yards, 
containing some three hundred million feet of lumber, with pro- 
portionate quantities of lath and shingles; docks on which 
were piled about 160,000 tons of coal, and immense quanti- 
ties of cord wood; seventeen elevators were dotted along the 
banks, containing six and a half million bushels of grain, being 
loaded to fully three-fourths of their working capacity at the 
time of the fire; immense depots filled with flour, pork, meats, 
and other produce, and several flouring mills at intervals along 
the wharf lines ; to the northward, distilleries, slaughter-houses, 
and ship-yards ; to the south, a host of packing-houses. These, 
with not a few factories, composed the chief elements on the 
bordering of the bayou, which only became a river, and then 
by inversion, in July, 1871. Outside of these lay the principal 
planing-mills and box factories. 

West of the junction of the two branches, and spreading over 
an area of nearly half a mile square, was the great machine- 
shop district, where foundries were in full blast, and agricul- 
tural implements by the thousand were turned out annually, 


side by side with steam-engines, boilers, car-wheels, crushing- 
mills for the mines, burrs for flour-mills, pipes for conveying 
water, gas, or steam, wagons, carriages, etc. A similar district, but 
of less importance, existed in the North Division, in its south- 
west portion, bounded on two sides by the docks on the river. 
A grand exodus had begun in the spring of 1871, to the south and 
south-west, where several important workshops had previously 
existed. Some of the largest manufactories were in process of 
transference to these new quarters at the time of the fire ; and 
new ones were springing up on every hand. 

Outside of these limits the principal thoroughfares, in all 
directions, to a distance of fully two miles from the Court- 
house, were occupied exclusively for business purposes, except 
where the omnipresent saloon formed a break in the cordon of 
useful commerce. Beyond and around these were residences, 
churches, and schools ; most of them of a superior order of 
architecture, the one great fault being that a large proportion 
of them were of wood. Near the middle of the southern limit 
of the city was the great Union Stock Yards, a town in itself; 
and the whole was surrounded by the magnificent system of 
parks and boulevards, which, when completed, would have 
made Chicago as much of a wonder in this respect as she had 
already become by virtue of her commercial importance. 

Chicago was a healthy city. The previously low and marshy 
site had been raised sufficiently to permit of good drainage, 
but not high enough to allow any of the double-cellar style of 
life so common in New York; and the broad prairies furnished 
go much room for lateral expansion, that there was much less 
of crowding than in other large cities. The sickly tenement 
system was almost unknown, and it was very rare to see one 
residence at the back of another, on the same lot. Then the 

CHICAGO IN 1871. 177 

level character of the surrounding country permitted the winds 
to have free course in every direction, and the proximity to the 
lake was the cause of numerous gales that are not met with in 
the interior, while that lake supplied the people with an abun- 
dance of the very best water. The difference in these conditions, 
as affecting health, is remarkably shown in the fact that the 
death rate averaged 3.791 per cent, per annum, in the period 
from 1843 to 1856 inclusive, while from 1856 to 1870 it was 
only 2.397 per cent, per annum. The work of filling up and 
draining was commenced about the beginning of the last-named 
period. This rate of mortality is less than in any country 
in Europe, except Scotland, Sweden, and Norway, though the 
greater changes of temperature in the United States are usually 
supposed to operate unfavorably on human longevity. We may 
here note that the average annual rain-fall has increased about 
one and a quarter inches, and the annual range of temperature 
has been diminished several degrees, since the first meteor- 
ological observations were taken there by the government 

The statistics of churches and Sunday-schools given at the 
beginning of this chapter, show that the people of Chicago were 
preeminently a religious community, a fact attested by the 
laige heartedness that has always accompanied their church 
work. Their houses of worship were noble structures, well 
attended, and so liberally supported that Chicago ministers 
wore among the most talented of the land, and drew better 
salaries than the pastors of the majority of churches East or 
West. The contributions of the churches to missionary work, 
to the erection and endowment of theological colleges, were 
always large; and the help they extended so continuously and 
lavishly to the boys in blue during the war for the suppression 


of the rebellion, covered them with lasting honor. We may 
not pass without note the Young Men's Christian Association, 
formed by the general church membership, which gave rise to 
the building and rebuilding of Farwell Hall, and has set an 
example of working in the Master's service that has been copied 
in the church work of many other cities. 

As an educational point Chicago took high rank. Its school 
buildings were large, well lighted, heated, and ventilated, and 
supplied with good teachers, most of whom had been admirably 
trained in the normal department of the High School, on apian 
which is acknowledged to be without a superior in the world. 
The one great fault was that the number of children grew 
more rapidly than school accommodations could be provided for 
them ; and to this cause, rather than to any alleged superiority 
in teaching, is to be attributed the fact that not less than sixty- 
five private schools and colleges existed in the city, besides a 
few others in which a purely technical instruction was given, 
as in book-keeping or dentistry. The county had also a flour- 
ishing normal school at Englewood, near the southern limits 
of the city. 

Of the higher institutions of learning the city had its full 
share. The Baptists, Presbyterians, and Congregation alists all 
had flourishing colleges the Baptist institution having a well- 
attended law school, and an astronomical observatory, with 
one of the three largest refracting telescopes in the world ; while 
the Methodists were represented in not less than three different 
institutes in Evanston, twelve miles north of the city, and had 
a connection with the Chicago Medical College. The Catholics 
had a training school for the priesthood, of a high grade. Of 
medical schools there were not less than six, one throwing its 
doors open to women. 

CHICAGO IN 1871. 179 

In a purely scientific way, the city was represented by the 
Astronomical Society, in connection with the observatory above 
referred to, and the Academy of Sciences, which had a valuable 
collection of specimens, embracing the geology, flora, and fauna 
of the North-west, io its most extended sense. The votar'es 
of pure science in the city were numerous. Among them Are 
may name Colonel Foster, late President of the American As- 
sociation for the Advancement of Science; Dr. Stimpson, Secre- 
tary of the Academy of Sciences; H. A. Johnson, M. D.j J. H. 
Rauch, M. D., the Sanitary Statistician ; Professors Blaney and 
De la Fontaine, and Mr. Eberts, chemical investigators; Pro- 
fessor McChesney; Kennicott, the late eminent naturalist; 
Professor Safford, of the Observatory, who was known in early 
life as a mathematical prodigy; and Colbert, a voluminous 
writer on astronomy and its kindred sciences. Microscopic 
investigators were numerous ; we can scarcely name S. A. 
Briggs and O. S. Westcott, without doing injustice by omitting 
others. The patrons of science were many ; among them Hon. 
J. Y. Scammon deserves most honorable mention. 

In its social aspects Chicago was probably not very different 
from other cities. There were, of course, many poor people 
within her borders, but pauperism on the European scale was 
a thing unknown. The rapid rise in the value of real estate 
had made many rich, while others had grown wealthy in trade ; 
the number of well-to-do people forming a larger per centage 
of the population than is usual in great cities. A few had 
always prided themselves on being " First Families ;" but it 
was not till about two years before the fire that a snobbish 
caterer found himself sustained in the attempt to form a direct- 
ory of those who were-admissible into first-class society. The dis- 
tinctions which are kept up so closely in most other places found 


but few advocates, and there was really much more than the 
average of friendly feeling between rich and poor, though not 
much time was wasted in words. Indeed, the genuine Chica- 
goan, whatever his circumstances, had always some thing to do 
or to think of. A few loafers could be found, bat they were 
importations not indigenous to the soil. 

That great numbers of the residents of Chicago were steeped 
in vice, and deeply tainted with crime, is too true ; that she was 
especially wicked, as compared with other cities, we most em- 
phatically deny. Chicago loose-livers were notoriously fast, and 
some of her rogues exhibited an audacity not always to be en- 
countered elsewhere, outside of JSTew York. This is admitted. 
But the police records show no larger proportion of crime there 
than in other cities, and there are few that have been governed 
by so small a per centage of police force. The true cause of the 
bad character of Chicago abroad is to be found in the fact that 
some of her newspapers were in the habit, for many years, of 
publishing to the world every little scandal that floated in soci- 
ety, whether trite or not, which the press of other cities would 
have passed by in silence. The divorce business is easily ex- 
plained. The dissatisfied ones of other places fled to Chicago, 
as to Indiana, in great numbers, because the courts had an ex- 
peditious way of dealing with such cases. That business has 
long been stopped, and the air of the courts is purified. 

Chicago was celebrated for her high appreciation of art, and 
the liberal patronage she accorded to it. Painting and statuary 
flourished in her midst, and some of her artists had attained a 
world-wide fame. We need only mention Healy, as a master 
on canvas, and Volk, as the author of the statue of Douglas 
and the bust of Lincoln. Previous to 1860, there was little of 
the artistic element in the city. Since then large numbers of 

CHICAGO IX 1871. 181 

artists have been attracted thither, and the residences of many 
prominent citizens adorned with some of the best works of art 
ancient and modern. The establishment of art galleries was 
fostered, and that in the Opera-house was moderately well 
supported, while many artists clustered around it. In 1870 an 
Academy of Design was established, in a building especially 
erected for the purpose on Adams Street, near the Custom- 
house, which was conducted under encouraging auspices in 

Music and the drama nowhere found more enlightened or 
hearty encouragement. The Opera-house " made no sign " in 
1871, beyond preparing, by a thorough overhauling, for the 
winter season. But it had previously been well patronized 
when first-class concert or operatic talent was on the boards ; the 
place was too large for dramatic entertainments. Farwell Hall 
had recently received a first-class orchestra organ, and had 
recently become quite popular for concerts. Theodore Thomas 
there made his best hits. McVicker's Theater had been en- 
tirely rebuilt a few months before the fire, and was as attractive 
a place as could be found in the United States; it was generally 
run on the "Star" principle. Wood's Museum contained 
some half a million " hobjects hof hinterest," in addition to its 
stock company, which was one of the best, and its dramatic en- 
tertainments were uniformly well attended. The Dearborn 
Street Theater, erected in 1868, was occupied by the Wyndharn 
Comedy Troupe in the summer of 1871, and was doing a rush- 
ing business. Hooley's Opera-house (formerly Bryan Hall) 
was doing a paying business under the management of Frank 
Aiken, formerly of the Museum. The Globe Theater, in the 
West Division, constructed on the barn principle, in 1870, was 
closed in 1871 (re-opened by Colonel Wood after the fire}. 


Besides these, there were several other minor places of amuse- 
ment not necessary to be specified ; and the German Theater, 
on North Wells Street, furnished dramatic entertainments in 
the Teutonic tongue. 

As a musical center the city really stood forth prominently 
in the United States. Two organists, Creswold and Buck, who 
had only two other peers on this side of the Atlantic; Pease, 
as a pianist, and a hundred and fifty other professional musi- 
cians, without counting teachers, many of them ranking with 
the best performers of Europe, not to speak of vocal talent of 
no mean order these flourished in .the city where more than 
two thousand pianos were sold annually, with thousands of 
other instruments, and many tons of sheet music, much of 
which was written by home composers. It is no wonder that 
opera singers and concertists looked for the verdict of such a 
wide-spread musical culture with as much anxiety as for that 
of the seaboard cities. 

The superior intelligence of the people was accurately re- 
flected in its newspaper press, which was well supported, and 
occupied the front rank of journalism. The loading dailies 
of Chicago expended much more money than those of New 
York in the collection of news, and their columns were con- 
ducted with marked ability; while the corps of editors and 
-writers were ample. The Chicago Press Club had about eighty- 
seven members, of whom seventy were workers on the follow- 
ing daily papers: 

The Tribune (Republican), owned by a stock company, worth 
about $1,250,000, Horace White, editor-in-chief; the Times 
(Democratic), Wilbur F. Storey, editor and proprietor; the 
Evening Journal (Republican), C. L. Wilson, editor and pro- 
prietor; the Evening Post '(Republican),- D. H.'Blakely, editor 

CHICAGO IN 1871. 183 

and principal proprietor; the Republican (Independent), J. B. 
McCullagh, editor and part proprietor; the Evening Mail 
(Republican), stock company, H. R. Hobart, editor; the 
Union; the Staats-ZcUung, German (Republican), A. C. Hesing, 
proprietor, H. Raster, editor-in-chief; and the Volks Zeitung, 
German. These had an aggregate circulation of 78,500 copies 
daily, besides tri- weekly and weekly. The religious press 
was represented ably by the Advance (Congregational ist), the 
Interior (Presbyterian), the N. W. Christian Advocate (Meth- 
odist), and the Standard (Baptist). These were issued weekly, 
and had an aggregate circulation of 75,000 copies. The Lake- 
side Monthly was the leading magazine ; the Bureau also having 
a good circulation as an organ of the Protectionists. 

The total number of regular publications in the city, daily, 
weekly, and monthly, was about eighty. The list would be 
much extended if we included all claimants to the title. 

In the matter of public libraries the city was deficient, but a 
united effort was being made, just before the fire, to establish a 
library on a comprehensive plan, which would probably have 
been successful but for the catastrophe. The collections of the 
Historical Society included some sixty thousand bound volumes, 
and over a hundred and fifty thousand pamphlets, besides full 
sets of the leading daily papers of the city, a great many valu- 
able MSS., a fine collection of paintings, and numerous war 
relics. The Young Men's Association Library contained some 
twenty thousand volumes, including a full set of the English 
Patent Office Reports. Besides these there were the Catholic 
Library, Cobb's Library (seven thousand), the Young Men's 
Christian Association Library, and a smaller church library 
just in process of formation, on Michigan Avenue. The Law 


Library, in the Court-house, was one of the largest and best in 

Private libraries were, however, numerous and valuable. 
Among the best we note those of E. B. McCagg (philological), 
J. Y. Scammon (Swedenborgian), I. N. Arnold, E. H. Sheldon, 
Obadiah Jackson, E. G. Asay, G. F. Rumsey, and H. H. Shu- 
feldt. Besides these there were very many medical and law 
libraries, with good collections of scientific works, the property 
of individuals and small societies. The book business was a 
large one, the annual sales of the three leading houses aggre- 
gating over three millions of dollars; these included several 
valuable works by Chicago authors, besides no small amount 
of trashy matter of home production. 

We close our sketch of Chicago in 1871, by a brief reference 
to the city government. 

The Mayor, chosen every two years, was the nominal head, 
but had little beyond a veto power, with the privilege of mak- 
ing a few nominations, to be confirmed or rejected by the Coun- 
cil. Colonel R. B. Mason was Mayor at the time of the fire. 
Joseph Medill was elected to the office, November 7, 1871. 

The Common Council consisted of forty aldermen, two from 
each ward, one of the two being elected each year for a two- 
year term. The presiding officer was chosen by the Council 
from among its own members. C. C. P. Holden was the Presi- 
dent of the Council at the time of the fire. 

The Board of Supervisors was a county organization, to 
which was elected one member from each ward, and two from 
each division of the city. 

The Board of Fire and Police Commissioners consisted of 
three members: T. B. Brown, President, Fred. Gund, and 
Mark Sheridan. This body was organized in 1861, and had 

CHICAGO IN 1871. 185 

full authority over the two departments named, the only limita- 
tion being that the working expenses were paid by taxation, 
ordered by the Common Council. The members were elected 
by the people. The police force consisted of 425 men, includ- 
ing officers ; W. W. Kennedy was Superintendent, and Wells 
Sherman Deputy Superintendent. The Fire Department, R A. 
Williams, Fire Marshal, comprised about 200 men, working 17 
steam fire-engines, besides trucks, horse-carts, fire-escapes, etc. 
The Fire Alarm Telegraph, E. B. Chandler, Superintendent, 
had 206 signal-boxes distributed over the city. 

The Board of Public Works consisted of three members ; J. 
Me Arthur, W. H. Carter, and Redmond Prendiville. They 
had full control of the street work, public buildings (except 
xihools), bridges, etc., with power to make assessments on prop- 
erty benefited, subject to approval of the Council. The mem- 
bers were nominated by the Mayor, and confirmed by the 
Council. E. S. Chesborough was City Engineer. 

The Board of Education consisted of one member from each 
of the twenty wards of the city, appointed by the Council. 
They had charge of school buildings, appointment of teachers, 
choice of text-books, and general school regulations. E. F. 
Runyan was President of the Board, and J. L. Pickard Super- 
intendent of schools. 

The Board of Health, organized in 1867, had charge of 
sanitary regulations, and the Sanitary Superintendent, J. H. 
Rauch, M. D., prepared the vital statistics, which are widely 
noted for their fullness and accuracy. 

The three boards of Park Commissioners, and their functions, 
have been noted in the chapter on Public Parks. 

Besides these, the principal corporation officers were a City 

Clerk, Corporation Counsel, City Attorney, and Tax Commia- 


sioner, with assistants. There were three Police Courts, one 
for each division of the city. The Courts of Record being 
United States, or State organizations, were not city institutions 
in the proper sense of the terra, though the courts were held in 
Chicago. There wer2 three Superior, four Circuit, and one 
County Court Judge. 

Much has been written about the city government, and many 
charges of incompetency and corruption made. The greatest 
faults of the system have undoubtedly arisen from the fact that 
different individuals had been in the habit of visiting the" State 
capital at every session of the Legislature, and there log-rolling 
special acts through to suit themselves or their friends. In 
conformity with their wishes new departments were created, or 
old ones changed, so as to give them ample powers independent 
of all the rest. Thus, the Board of Fire and Police Commis- 
sioners was almost independent of the Council, and entirely so 
of the Mayor. The same was true of the Board of Public 
Works, to a rather more limited extent. The Board of Health 
was independent of all these, except in the matter of salaries; 
the Board of Education acted at its own sweet will, and the 
Boards of Park Commissioners did not need even to say "by 
your leave" to any other city functionary, or department. The 
Common Council certainly contained several men who were not 
particularly wise, and, perhapn, a few whose ambition was to 
"make" out of the people. The Board of Supervisors was 
even nearer to a brilliant mediocrity than the Council. But 
we are not aware that the city authorities were dishonest, or its 
officials incompetent, though the city was so rich that there was 
a strong temptation to unscrupulous men to expend large sums 
of money in corrupting others, that they might Tammanyize a 
return of tenfold on the outlay. The Mayor was little more 

CHICAGO IN 1871. 187 

than a figure-head, his membership of the several Boards, and 
presidency of the Council, having been abolished by recent 
legislative acts. 

It is really a wonder that the city authorities of Chicago 
should have accomplished so much, and worked together so 
harmoniously under such circumstances, especially when it is 
remembered that the rapid growth of the city, and the radical 
changes in aspect perpetually recurring, needed the wisdom of 
a Solon to frame ordinances that would meet the requirements 
of the case. There is not one of the departments of the city 
government that has not accomplished labors equally difficult 
with those of Hercules, and some of her city improvements are 
to-day ranked among the wonders of the world. 

And this was Chicago in her prosperity. Great as she was 
then, she proved herself even greater in the day of an affliction 
so deep that it caused a throb of anguish throughout the whole 
civilized world. 



/CHICAGO was far from being alone as a subject for the 
^-' dread visitation of fire. The first half of October, 1871, 
will long be remembered all over the United States as a time of 
wide-spread conflagration. The fires raged in the lumber dis- 
tricts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, in the woods of 
New York State, and in many of the cities of the Union from 
the Atlantic seaboard to San Francisco. We propose, in this 
chapter, to take a brief glance at the effects of the great confla- 
gration upon the general conditions of the earth's surface ; but 
the discussion must take in a wider field than that bounded by 
the limits of the Garden City. In the chemical and meteoro- 
logical changes evolved, the Chicago fire really acted but a sub- 
ordinate part though immense in itself, it was but small in 
... , proportion to the whole. 

It is yet too early to make an accurate estimate of the area 
traversed by the fire in the forests of the North-western States. 

That can only be done after the whole ground has been re-sur- 


veyed. But the very lowest estimate we can make places the 
amount of timbered land actually burned over at not less than 
480,000 acres, of which 200,000 acres are in Michigan. This 
is equal to 750 square miles of territory, containing the mate- 
rial that would yield a product of 1,800,000,000 feet of lumber 
for the market, or nearly as much as Chicago has received dur- 
ing the past two years. 

At least an equal extent of other than timbered land was 
burned over, including what are technically called "clearings," 
where the trees have been cut down, leaving vast quantities of 
combustible material; and many hundreds of farms, some of 
them a long way removed from the lumber regions. The total 
area of country burned over, wooded and open, can not be less 
than one thousand square miles, and is probably very much 
more than that amount. 

And this vast tract of country was completely denuded. 
The ordinary fire in the woods only burns up the brush and 
the boughs of trees, leaving the trunks standing, with a mere 
char on the outside; they can still be utilized for lumber, pro- 
vided they are cut down and thrown into the water before the 
well-known borer has a chance to attack them. But in the 
fires of October, 1871, a large proportion of the trees were 
burned through to the core, and fell to the ground, little better 
than attenuated sticks of charcoal. It was a destroying fire, 
that literally burned up " root and branch ;" while the fences, 
hay, buildings, etc., on the farming lands, were so completely 
licked up that not even the ashes were left to indicate the 
places "where they had formerly existed. 

It is manifestly impossible to tell exactly the quantities of 
wood, hay, straw, and other combustibles burned up in those 
fires. Could we do so it would be easy to calculate the precise 


number of pounds of carbon set free in the process, because the 
science of chemistry enables us to say, to an ounce, ho\v much of 
each of the elements enters into the composition of a ton of any 
named material. Thus, we know that straw and dry pine wood 
each contain thirty-eight per cent, of carbon, and hay nearly 
forty-one (40.73) per cent. But we can make a sufficiently 
close approximation to answer our present purpose. Taking 
the minima of estimated areas of country as a basis, the writer 
has made a careful calculation from averages of the quantities 
of material destroyed on those areas, and has made even a 
closer approximation for the city of Chicago, with the following 
conclusions : 

As a chemical result of this immense combustion we have 
not less than 3,000,000 tons of carbon from the country, and 
300,000 tons from the city, liberated from its union with other 
elements, and carried up into the air in combination with nearly 
nine million tons of oxygen, and adding twelve million tons 
to the quantity of carbonic acid gas already existing in the 
atmosphere. Knowing, as we do, how much the conditions of 
animal and vegetable existence depend upon the constitution of 
the aerial envelope of our globe, it becomes important to ascer- 
tain the extent of disturbance from the normal state, produced 
by this phenomenon. 

The quantity of carbonic acid gas normal to the atmosphere 
at the present day is estimated to be about one part in two 
thousand, the weight will, therefore, be a little less than 
twenty thousand million tons; hence its proportion in the 
atmosphere has been increased by about one part in sixteen 
hundred. The total weight of atmospheric oxygen being a little 
over nine million million tons, its proportion has been decreased 
to the extent of nearly one part in a million. Accepting Liebig'a 


estimate that the annual consumption of oxygen by the lower 
animals, and by combustion, is double the quantity consumed by 
human beings in breathing, we arrive at the astounding result 
that the oxygen taken up by the North-western fires was equal 
to the amount required to supply the consumption of ten 
months all over the globe. 

So far as we are able to judge, the vegetable kingdom was 
intended by the Creator to act as an exact counterpoise to the 
animal world, the former returning to the atmosphere just as 
much oxygen as is taken up by the latter. This does not seem 
to be the case with carbon, the atmospheric portion of which 
appears to have slowly decreased, ever since the carboniferous 
era. At that time the quantity of carbonic acid gas in the 
atmosphere was probably three hundred times greater than 
now, holding in combination one-half of the oxygen, and form- 
ing fifteen to twenty per cent, of the total weight of the air. 
(Brogniart estimates seven or eight per cent.) The amount of 
free carbonic acid gas has diminished, approximately, at the rate 
of about one part in five thousand, each century since then. 
In this respect, therefore, the North-western fires have restored 
the atmospheric conditions of three hundred years ago. 

A glance at the characteristics of the carboniferous era will 
enable us to appreciate the importance of this fact. We know 
that if we replace eight per cent, of the oxygen in the atmos- 
phere of the present day with an equal volume of carbonic acid 
gas, the mixture is alike fatal to animal life and to combustion. 
Even the lower orders of animal life could only exist when the 
atmosphere had been partially cleared of its superabundant car- 
bon. And this was accomplished by the vegetable kingdom, 
which then flourished with a luxuriance of which we can form 
but a faint conception, though the immense coal deposits, un- 


earthed in the present century, tell the tale of primeval vegeta- 
ble growth, proportionate in its exuberance to the abundant 
presence of the acid that formed its food. Farther along the 
stream of time, many scores of thousands of years nearer to the 
commencement of our written history, when these gigantic ferns 
had done their work, and fixed a large proportion of that car- 
bon into the shape in which it is now utilized, animal existence 
became possible; and the same conditions that had previously 
ministered to immense vegetable forms, now made possible the 
elimination of a mammoth bony frame-work to support the 
muscular tissues of animals, giant-like even as compared with 
the elephant of our own day. There is no doubt that the 
human race appeared upon the earth just as soon as human 
respiration became possible ; neither can there be any doubt that 
the "first families" lived in what was a genuine "Garden of 
Eden " when compared with the more sparse vegetation of the 
present epoch, or that the peculiar facility afforded to the for- 
mation of carbonate of lime justified the assertion of Holy 
Writ that " there were giants in those days." 

The abstraction of carbonic acid gas from the atmosphere is 
still progressing, though not so rapidly as in the days of yore. 
This appropriation by the vitalized forms that exist upon the 
land surface is not a permanent loss, as all thus taken away 
from the general fund by the one is restored by the compen- 
sating activities of another, or yielded up in the disintegration 
that follows the death of organic forms. But it is not so with 
life in the sea. The immense quantities of carbonic acid taken 
up in the secretion of the bony coverings of shell-fish, mostly 
sink to the bottom of the ocean, where they lie forever undis- 
turbed, except when upheaved by a hypothalassic volcano. At 
the immense depths to which they sink, there is no wind, no cur- 


rout, but eternal stillness reigns, and not even the play of organic 
affinities finds room to operate; it is even more than the stillness 
of death, for there no disintegration follows the departure of the 
vital principle from its material encasement. The lower coral 
formations are subject to but little more disturbance. 

These fishy processes diminish the amount of carbonic acid 
in the atmosphere at the rate of about four million tons in each 
century. The process is, however, counteracted to some extent 
by the tremendous activity of manufacturing fires within the 
past few years. Indeed, it is not improbable that the last- 
named process will yet attain to such a magnitude as to form 
an effectual counter-balance to the secretory powers in the 
restoration of carbonic acid, though the compensation may not 
be effected without a decrease in the relative proportion of free 
oxygen in the atmosphere. 

We see, then, that the North-western conflagrations have 
carried us back to nearly the same atmospheric conditions as 
those which existed three centuries ago, and this brings out 
another important thought. We see that, in the history of the 
past, the elimination of carbonic acid from the atmosphere has 
been accompanied by a gradual development of animal life, and 
an equally gradual retrocession of vegetable abundance. While 
the vegetable kingdom is less royal in its proportions than in 
the carboniferous era, the immense interval between then and 
now has witnessed the dp-growth of all the animal orders above 
the reptilian, and the successive development of the higher 
order man from a state of savage ignorance to one of high 
intellectual culture and moral accountability. Knowing, as we 
do, the ultimate physiological connection of the mental with 
the physical, in man's nature, and the almost abject dependence 
of that physical nature upon its surrounding conditions except 


those of temperature we can scarcely resist the thought that 
the progress of the race toward the highest limit of perfection 
attainable by humanity, has been retarded not less than three 
centuries, while we estimate that the commercial status of the 
city of Chicago has been set back barely four years by the Great 

Still another, and even more startling, idea suggests itself in 
this connection. What if these fires should be but one of a 
series of events, designed by the Great Ruler of the universe 
to prevent man from progressing too fast or too far, in his for- 
ward march toward the perfection of knowledge, and of that 
power which knowledge confers upon its possessors? Our study 
of the history of the past teaches us nothing more forcibly than 
this one fact, that all the nations whose records grace promi- 
nently the historical page, down to a few centuries ago, have 
reached an ultimus beyond which they could not pass, and have 
relapsed from that point into insignificance as powers, and 
barbarism as peoples. Whether it were the red hand of war, 
the plague-spot, a change in the beaten track of commerce, or 
the up-growth of a luxurious indolence that gnawed out the 
vitals of the nation, some cause has always operated to break 
down the power, and even the intelligence of peoples. -And 
the records of history show that this grand reversal has oc- 
curred at least twice all over the civilized world; while the 
analogies of reasoning point to the same conclusion with geo- 
logical deductions, that the world, as a whole, is not exempt 
from the providential visitation which sweeps out of existence 
the accumulated learning, as well as the treasures of the past, 
and leaves the race to begin again at the foot of the ladder up 
which it had toiled so painfully before. And so it is not im- 
possible that, while the occurrence of the North-western fires has 


furnished to the atmosphere a superabundance of carbonic acid 
that will stimulate the vegetable world to increased activity to 
occupy the place of that destroyed, the animal creation will 
retrogress, and man may fall back into the mental conditions of 
the Reformation period, and reproduce the then exceptional in- 
lellectual splendors of Bacon and Shakespeare. 

A recollection of the fact that large quantities of carbonic 
acid gas were generated by the fire, will enable us to understand 
how many individuals dropped down dead near the scenes of 
the conflagration, and were afterward found, without the least 
trace of fire upon the clothing or person. We have already 
stated that eight per cent, of this gas in the atmosphere is fatal 
to life. It would be generated in fully this proportion in the 
neighborhood of the flames, and would thence spread slowly 
through the air over the whole surface of the earth. The 


amount of carbonic acid gas evolved by these fires would suf- 
fice to saturate the air in the locality to the height of nearly 
fifty yards from the surface. 

We may refer briefly to the more local, but still extensive 
effects of the fire, upon the meteorological conditions of the 
country devastated. It has long been regarded as axiomatic 
that the destruction of timber and the cultivation of soil, di- 
minish the annual rain supply, and also produce changes in tho 
temperature. This is not wholly true. The plowing of the 
ground undoubtedly lessens the amount of water that drains 
into the rivers, but it is only because the loosening of the soil 
permits a greater proportion of the rain-fall to sink in, instead 
of running off to feed the water courses. There is, however, 
the best of reason to believe that the presence or absence of 
trees has a great deal to do with the quantity of water that falls 
from the clouds, and so much, that we may expect the deiiu- 


dation of so much timber land to be marked by a diminution 
of not less than two inches, or seven per cent., of the annual 
rain-fall over a large section of the North-west, while the yearly 
range of temperature will be widened fully five degrees, the 
thermometer registering two or three degrees higher in summer, 
and lower in winter, than heretofore. 

"We have already referred to the probability that these fires 
were part of a section in the providential plan of earth govern- 
ment. While we can not accept the doctrine that they were 
sent either as a punishment to the people of one section, or as a 
benefit to those of another, we must recognize them as links in 
the great chain of events, each of which is an effect of some 
cause, and a producing cause of some subsequent effect. And 
the same philosophy teaches us that no effect can be greater 
than its cause, or combined causes. Hence it is absurdVo look 
to the mere upsetting of a kerosene lamp in the city, or the 
emptying of burning tobacco from a laborer's pipe in the woods, 
as the efficient causes of these wide-spread disasters. These 
were the mere incitements like the knocking of a chip from 
the shoulder of a man who is spoiling for a fight. 

That Chicago was " favorably" situated and constructed for 
just such a fire, none will deny who remember that she pre- 
sented a four-mile line of wooden buildings directly along the 
path of the south-west gale so common in that region. But 
the forests, per se, presented no more unfavorable conditions 
than in years past. Yet they, too, were licked up by the de- 
vouring flames. 

The proximate cause of the conflagrations was found in the 
fact that the country was unusually dry. One and a half 
inches of rain fell in Chicago on the 3d of July, but from that 
date to the time of the fire, on the 9th of October, only two 


and a half inches fell, whereas the average quantity for that 
time, as deduced from the observations of former years, should 
have been eight and three-quarter inches. The rain-fall of the 
summer season was only 28 per cent, of the average in Chi- 
cago, while in the lumber districts it was fully twenty per cent, 
less than even this parsimonious allowance from the clouds, 
Meanwhile a hot summer's sun had dried out every particle of 
the " water of crystallization," as the chemists will perhaps par- 
don us for calling it, and left the whole as dry as so much tin- 
der. All that it wanted was an opportunity to burn, and that 
want was soon supplied. Thenceforward the fire and the gale 
had free course, " with none to let or hinder." 

But this was, evidently, only a proximate cause. There was 
some other cause, antecedent to this; we are long past the day 
when storms of wind or rain are regarded as mere accidents. 

In the spring of 1870, Mr. Colbert wrote a series of articles 
111 the Chicago Tribune, and then in the Lakeside Monthly, de- 
veloping a meteorological theory which was very widely copied 
and commented on. He called attention to the fact that a 
large part of the sun's surface was then covered with black 
spots; they were fully as numerous in 1871 as at the time those 
articles were written. The theory has since been incorporated 
in his work entitled "Star Studies." The following were the 
effects which he stated would be produced by those spots: 

First A reduction of two degrees in the amount of heat 
supplied to the earth by the sun (to the whole globe of atmos- 
phere, water, and land) corresponding to the lessened area of 
calorifying sun surface. Second A diminution in the amount 
of water taken up by the sun, from ocean and land (principally 
from the sea), owing to the diminished evaporating power of the 
sun; and a decrease of fully four inches in the annual rain- 


fall. Third Greater sensible heat at many points on the land 
surface, and a very irregular register of temperature; because a 
large proportion of the heat supplied by the sun is rendered 
latent by the evaporation of the water that falls as rain upon 
the earth's surface. Fourth An increase in the amount of 
chemical activity, both in combination and decomposition, a 
greater display of electric and magnetic phenomena (hence un- 
usual irregularities in temperature), a more rapid growth of 
vegetation (but) partial crop failures, etc. 

That every one of the deductions then published, was accu- 
rately verified, is now matter of history. Of course local pecu- 
liarities of position, etc., caused many variations from the aver- 
age; but, as applied to the whole globe, the theory has precisely 
agreed with the facts. There can be no doubt, therefore, that 
the very strongly marked deviations from the average rain-fall, 
both the general deficiency and the excessive floods in some lo- 
calities, had their general cause in the fact that a greater por- 
tion of the sun's disc was obscured by black spots during 1870 
and a part of 1871, than at any other time for a hundred years 

The black patches on the face of the God of Day, too re- 
mote to be visible without the aid of a telescope, though some- 
times covering several millions of square miles of his surface, 
have for some years been recognized by meteorologists as poten- 
tial in the production of magnetic storms and auroral displays 
on the earth. It is but a step further in the same reasoning 
process to arrive at a point where we can look upon these as 
causes of greater change in the meteorological conditions of 
our earth, and as influencing materially those circumstances on 
which its inhabitants depend for the conservation of the order 
of things under which they live and move. 




BLACKENED and bleeding, helpless, panting, prone 
On the charred fragments of her shattered throne 
Lies she who stood but yesterday alone. 

Queen of the West! by some enchanter taught 

To lift the glory of Aladdin's court, 

Then lose the spell that all that wonder wrought. 

Like her own prairies by some chance seed sown, 
Like her own prairies in one brief day grown, 
Like her own prairies in one fierce night mown. 

She lifts her voice, and in her pleading call 
We hear the cry of Macedon to Paul 
The cry for help that makes her kin to all. 

But haply with wan fingers may she feel 
The silver cup hid in the proffered meal 
The gifts her kinship and our loves reveal. 

Bret Harte. 



The fire aa a hero It marches through four miles of solid buildings It 
takes them all A plain account of the operations of the " fiend." 

IT was on the night of the 8th of October, 1871, and the 
forenoon following, that Chicago was wiped out. It is re- 
lated, and piously believed by most readers of ancient history, 
that old Rome was once saved by the cackling of a goose. 
There is at least equal reason to believe that Chicago, which 
is no less noted, as a modern city, than Rome was as the olden 
capital of the world, was destroyed by the kicking of a cow. 
Leaving the details of the ancient example to take care of 
themselves, it may be explained that the great fire of the 9th 
October is attributed by the Fire Department of the city to 
the upsetting of a kerosene-lamp in a barn. If the woman 
who was milking the cow had not been late with her milking, 
the lamp would not have been needed. If she had plied the 
dugs of the animal with proper skill, the lamp would not have 
been kicked at all. There is no use foisting the blame upon 
the cow, for cows will kick when irritated, else they would not 
be true to their nature; nor on the oil in the lamp, for whatever 
hue and cry may be raised against coal-oil as an illuminating 

agency, it is unquestionably the material which nature has iu- 



tended for such use, and one which only requires intelligent use 
to be as harmless as it is handy. The blame of setting the fire 
rests on the woman who milked, or else upon the lazy man who 
allowed her to milk. The name of this female we shall not 
hand down to posterity in these pages; for we have the familiar 
words of the poet to remind us that 

" The ambitious youth who fired the Ephesian dome, 
Outlives in fame the pious fool that reared it; " 

And we have no desire to immortalize the author of the ruin of 
Chicago at the expense of the noble and indefatigable pioneers 
whose work in the building of Chicago has been recounted in 
the preceding pages. 

So much for the origin of the fire of October. The causes 
which helped it to spread until it had devastated the city and 
laid three-fourths of its wealth in ashes, will be inquired into 
in a subsequent chapter. We shall leave the Fire Department 
out of the question at present, -just as it seems to have been left 
out of the question by the destroying element on the fatal night 
of the 8th. It is necessary, however, for the reader to under- 
stand the following facts: 

The city'of Chicago is divided, by the river and its branches, 
as a glance at the map will show, into three principal divisions 
North, South, and West. The North and South Branches unite 
at a point not quite a mile from the lake-shore (though the 
South Branch has previously approached it to within half a 
mile), and the united stream (if it may be called a stream) forms 
the boundary between the North and South Divisions. The 
West Division embraces all to the west of either branch. This 
division consists mainly of residences, with retail stores filling 
several long streets, and, lying along the bank of the river, a 


goodly number of factories, grain-elevators, railroad buildings, 
and a few merchandise warehouses. The " business quarter" 
proper, containing practically all the wholesale mercantile es- 
tablishments, fine retail stores, public buildings and hotels, 
the newspaper offices, the two grand union railroad depots, and 
other institutions which usually occupy the central and select 
portion of the town, lies in the South Division, north of Har- 
rison Street. Perhaps we can not illustrate the character of 
this quarter of the city more plainly than by stating that the 
valuation of the thirty-one miles of street front, excluding that 
of all buildings and other improvements, was not, on the morn- 
ing before the fire, less than $1,000 per foot on the average, or 
$163,680,000; equal to the price of about two thousand eight 
hundred and forty-two townships of Government land in a new 
railroad town. To the south of this precious tract lie the resi- 
dences of the wealthy and of the poor, divided by State Street, 
a thoroughfare of shops. The North Division is (or rather 
was) occupied, near the river and along Clark Street, by stores 
and factories, the rest mainly by residences. The homes of the 
humble lie mostly west of Lasalle Street; though toward the 
north, the residences of the more luxurious classes, which had 
formerly been confined to select tracts in the south-east quarter- 
section of this Division the " old Chicago," substantial and ele- 
gant, and shaded with grand elms had been of late seriously 
crowding the frugal Germans and improvident Irish out of 
their former haunts, and studding the country about Lincoln 
Park with mansions of the most elegant design and finish. 

It should also be understood that a severe drought the se- 
verest in many seasons was prevalent at the time of the fire, 
not only at and about Chicago, but through the whole North- 
west; and that, in addition to this, a gale of unusual violence 


was blowing steadily for several days and nights from the 
south-west. Had the gale been from the south-east instead, 
then the "West Division would have been burned. Twice as 
many buildings would have been consumed and twice as many 
people rendered homeless; but the damage to Chicago would 
have been much less severe, because it would be much better 
for every clerk, artisan, and tradesman of Chicago to lose his 
home than to lose his business, the prop which sustains that 
home. As Shakespeare says truly, though he puts the words 
in the mouth of the despicable Shylock: 

"You take my house when you do take the prop 
That doth sustain my house ; you take my life 
When you do take the means whereby I live." 

What were the circumstances of this horrible event which 
eclipsed all similar catastrophes that the world knew; which 
burnt out a week from the teeming annals of the age? 

There had been, on the previous evening (that of Saturday, 
the 7th October), an extensive conflagration, which the journals 
had recorded in many columns, devoting to it their most stun- 
ning head-lines, their most ponderous superlatives, and their 
most graphic powers of description. The location of this fire 
was in the West Division, between Clinton Street and the river, 
and running north from Van Buren Street, where it naught, to 
Adams Street, where, fortunately, it was checked, rather by the 
lack of combustible material than by any ability of the Fire 
Department to obtain the mastery over such powerful allies as 
the gale, the drought, and the fire, aided by the almost powder- 
like material which the devouring element found in the planing- 
mills, lumber-piles, and pine buildings of that region. The last 
structure attacked by the fire of Saturday night was the via- 


duct over the railroads at Adams Street, which, though of iron, 
contained sufficient wood-work to furnish food for the hungry 
flames. The damage by this fire was nearly a million dollars; 
and it formed undoubtedly the grandest spectacle thus far wit- 
nessed in Chicago, though not the most destructive conflagra- 
tion, so far as values went. In the rapidity with which the 
flames progressed, consuming in their course one of the steam 
fire-engines which had been sent against them, and which had 
seemed but little more than boys' tiny squirt-guns in their ef- 
fects upon the raging element, the people of Chicago saw, with 
a shudder, to what terrible danger they were subjected by the 
condition of the elements and the architectural faults of the 
city. But none of them dreamed not even the most appre- 
hensive among them that another fire was to sweep over the 
city, even before the underwriters had begun to compute the 
damages by this, compared with which the conflagration of Sat- 
urday night should be but as the flicker of a farthing candle. 

Yet so it was. A little while after nine o'clock on Sunday 
evening, the lamp was upset which was to kindle the funeral 
pyre of Chicago's pristine splendor. The little stable, with its 
contents of hay, was soon ablaze. By the time the alarm could 
be sounded, at the box several blocks away, two or three other 
little buildings tinder-boxes to the leeward had been ignited, 
and within five minutes the poor purlieu in the vicinity of De 
Koven and Jefferson Streets was blazing like a huge bonfire. 

The spread of the fire, or, rather, the flight which it took 
along with the south-west gale, was very rapid. We suppose the 
Fire Department was on the ground, partly because it usually 
turns out at fires, and partly because one or two of its splendid 
engines were found burned up among the ruins the next day; 
but it might as well have been in Kamtschatka, for any thing 


which it was able to do toward arresting the progress of the 
flames. They marched on until they had devoured the thou- 
sand or more shanties, houses, planing-mills, in their path on 
the West Division. They heeded not the Marshal and his corps 
any more than the bull heeds the fly upon his horn. They 
heeded not even the broad river, but leaped it easily, after 
marching along northward until all between Jefferson Street 
and the river had been destroyed, up to the edge of the burned 
district of Saturday night. 

The first vault across the river was made at midnight from 
Van Buren Street, lighting in a building of the South Division 
gas-works, on Adams Street. This germ of the main fire was 
not suppressed, and from that moment the doom of the com- 
mercial quarter was sealed, though no man could have foretold 
that the raging element would make such complete havoc of the 
proudest and strongest structures of that quarter. The axis of 
the column, as it had progressed from the starting-point in the 
south-western purlieus, had varied hardly a point from due 
north-east. Having gained a foothold upon the South Division, 
its march naturally lay through two or three blocks of pine 
rookeries, known as " Conley's Patch," and so on for a consid- 
erable space through the abodes of squalor and vice. Through 
these it set out at double-quick, the main column being flanked 
by another on each side, and nearly an hour to the rear. That 
at the right was generated by a separate brand from the west- 
ern burning; that at the left was probably created by some of 
the eddies which were by this time whirling through the streets 
toward the flame below and from it above. The rookeries were 
quickly disposed of. They made a magnificent kindling mate- 
rial, and had never distinguished themselves half so well as 
habitations of man as they did as fuel for the fiend. Beyond 


them, however, along Lasalle Street, were a splendid double- 
row of " fire-proof " mercantile buildings, the superior of which 
did not exist in the land. Would these succumb to the shower 
of brands and the triple-heated furnace which had been thrown 
about them? 

Alas, yes! One after another, they went as the column ad- 
vanced. And the column was spreading fearfully debauching 
to right and left, according as opportunities of conquest offered 
themselves. It was not long after one o'clock before the Cham- 
ber of Commerce was attacked, and fell a prey to the on- 
advancing force. Soon the Court-house was seized upon; but 
it did not surrender until near three o'clock, when the great 
bell went down, down, and pealed a farewell, dying groan as it 
went. The hundred and fifty prisoners in the basement- story 
were released to save their lives. They evinced their gratitude 
by pillaging a jewelry-store near by. 

About the time the Court-house was. attacked, the telegraph 
operators in the Merchants' Insurance building, opposite, in 
Lasalle Street, saw the propriety of falling back upon safer 
ground. The reporter of the Associated Press broke off in 
the middle of a word his account of the conflagration, and 
betook himself, in General Sheridan's carriage, to a suburban 

From the Court-house the course of the main column seemed 
to tend eastward, and Hooley's Opera-house, the Times building, 
Crosby's magnificent Opera-house (to be re-opened that very 
night), fell rapidly before it. Pursuing its way more slowly 
onward, the fiery invader laid waste some buildings to the north- 
east, and, preparatory to attacking the magnificent wholesale 
stores at the foot of Randolph Street and the great Union Depot, 
joined forces wfth the other branch of the main column, which 


had lingered to demolish the Sherman House a grand seven- 
story edifice of marble the Tremont House, and the other fine 
buildings lying between Randolph and Lake Streets. 

The left column had, meantime, diverged to pass down La- 
salle Street and attack all buildings lying to the west of that 
noble avenue the Oriental and Mercantile buildings, the Union 
Bank, the Merchants' Insurance building, where were General 
Sheridan's headquarters and the offices of .the Western Union 
Telegraph, and in fact an unbroken row of the stone palaces 
of trade, which had already made Lasalle Street a monument 
of Chicago's business architecture, to which her citizens pointed 
with glowing pride, and of which admiring visitors wrote and 
published warm panegyrics in all quarters of the globe. The 
column of the left did its mission but too well, however, and 
by daylight scarcely a stone was left upon another in all that 
stately thoroughfare. But one building was left standing in 
this division of the city a large brick structure, with iron 
shutters, known as Land's Block. This was saved by its iso- 
lated location, being on the shore of the river, and separated 
by an exceptionally wide street from the seething furnace which 
consumed all else in its vicinity. 

The right column started from a point near the intersection 
of Van Buren Street and the river, where some wooden build- 
ings were ignited by brands from the west side, in despite of 
the efforts of the inhabitants of that quarter to save their homes 
by drenching their premises with water from their hydrants; 
and, we need hardly add, in despite of the desultory though 
desperate efforts of 'the Fire Department. The right column 
had also the advantage of a large area of wooden buildings on 
which to ration and arm itself for its march of destruction. 
Thus fed and equipped, it swept down upom the remaining 


portion of the best-built section of the town. It gutted the 
Michigan Southern Depot and the grand Pacific Hotel, and 
the tornado soon made them shapeless ruins. It spared not 
Ihe unfinished building of the Lakeside Publishing Company, 
\rhich had already put on a very sightly front, and which had 
icarcely any thing to burn but brick and stone. It licked up 
the fine new buildings on Dearborn Street, near the Post-office. 
Would it also master that solid edifice itself, isolated and fire- 
proof as it was? 

The question was no sooner asked than the Post-office was 
seized upon and gutted like the rest, some two millions of 
treasure being destroyed in its vaults, which proved to have 
been shammily constructed. It swept down upon the new 
Bigelow House, a massive and elegant hotel which had never 
yet been occupied, and demolished that, together with the 
Honore Block, a magnificent new building, with massive walls 
adorned with hundreds of stately colonnades of marble. It 
reached out to the left and took McVicker's new theater in its 
grasp for a moment, with the usual fatal result. It assaulted 
the noble Tribune building, which the people had been declar- 
ing, even up to that terrible hour, would withstand all attacks, 
being furnished with all known safeguards against destruction 
by fire; but the enemy was wily as well as strong. It sur- 
rounded the fated structure, and ruined it too. It threw a red- 
hot brick wall upon the building's weaker side, a shower of 
brands upon the roof, a subterranean fire under the sidewalk 
and into the basement, and an atmosphere of furnace-heat all 
around. It conquered and destroyed the Tribune building at 
half-past seven in the evening. It marched on and laid waste 
B< ok-sellers' Row, the finest row of bookstores in the world. 
It fell upon Potter Palmer's store of Massachusetts marble, for 


which Field, Leiter & Co., dry goods importers, were paying 
the owner $52,000 a year rent. This splendid building, with 
such of its contents as had not been removed in wagons, went 
like all the rest. It deployed to the right, in spite of its ally, 
the wind, and destroyed the splendid churches and residences 
which adorn the lower or town end of Wabash and Michigan 
Avenues. Among these were the First and Second Presbyterian 
Churches, Trinity (Episcopal) Church, and the palatial row of 
residences known as "Terrace Row," in which dwelt, among 
others, Governor Bross, of the Tribune, Jonathan Y. Scammon 
the banker and capitalist, and S. C. Griggs, the book-seller 
Finally its course southward was stayed at Congress Street by 
the blowing up of a building. The southern line of the fire 
was for the most part, however, along Harrison Street, which is 
one square further to the south. 

This is a brief sketch of the operations of the fire in the 
West and South Divisions. It effected a foothold in the North 
Division as early as half-past three in the morning; and it is 
remarkable that almost the first building to be attacked on the 
north side of the river was the engine-house of the Water- 
works; as if the terrible marauder had, with deadly strategy, 
thrown out a swifter brand than all others to cut off the only 
reliance of his victims, the water-supply. The Water- works 
are nearly a mile from the point where the burning brands 
must have crossed the river! The denizens of the North Di- 
vision were standing in their doors and gazing at the blazing 
splendor of the Court-house dome, when they discovered to their 
horror that the fire was already raging behind them, and that 
the Water-works had gone. A general stampede to the sands 
of the lake-shore, or to the prairies west of the city, was the 


Besides its foothold at the "Water-works, from -which the fire 
spread rapidly in every direction, it soon made a landing in two 
of the elevators near the river, and organized an advance which 
consumed every thing left by the scores of separate irruptions 
which the flames were constantly making in unexpected places. 
This was the system by which the North Division was wiped 
out: blazing brands and scorching heat sent ahead to kindle 
many scattering fires, and the grand general conflagration fol- 
lowing up and finishing up. Within the limits marked upon 
the map nothing was spared; not any of the elegant residences 
of the patricians not even those isolated by acres of pleasure- 
grounds; not even the "fire-proof" Historical Hall, with its 
thousand precious relics; not even the stone churches of Robert 
Collyer and the Rev. Mr. Chamberlain, protected by a park in 
front ; not even the cemetery to the north, whither many people 
removed a few of their most necessary effects, only to see them 
consumed before their eyes; not even Lincoln Park, whose scat- 
tering oaks were burned to dismal pollards by the all-consuming 
flames; nothing but one lone house, the residence of Mahlou 
Ogden, which now stands as the sole survivor of the scourged 
district. The loss of life and the sufferings of those who man- 
aged to escape with life were severest in this quarter of the city. 
They will be considered in a separate chapter, the human ele- 
ment of the tragedy having been purposely omitted from this 
as far as practicable. Only at the lake and the northern limits 
of the city was the conflagration stayed or, rather, spent for 
lack of any thing to consume. 

The sensations conveyed to the spectator of this unparalleled 
event, either through the eye, the ear, or other senses or sympa- 
thies, can not be adequately described, and any attempt to do it 
but shows the poverty of language. "We have merely noted the 


general course of the devouring element, and shall add, in sev- 
eral subsequent chapters, some personal experiences, and a por- 
tion of the many thousand thrilling incidents accompanying the 
catastrophe. As a spectacle, it was beyond doubt the grandest 
us well as most appalling ever offered to mortal eyes. From 
any elevated standpoint, the appearance was that of a vast ocean 
of flame, sweeping in mile-long billows and breakers over the 
doomed city. A square of substantial buildings would be sub- 
merged by it like a child's tiny heap of sand on the beach of a 
lake; and when the flood receded, there was no more left of the 
stately block than of the tiny sand-heap. Anon the devouring 
clement would present itself as if in a personal form, and seize 
upon a masterpiece of architecture as if it would say to the 
pale faces around and below : " See, now ! Here is a pile of 
massive marble. You built it with great pains, and thought 
you had something substantial. Mark, now, what a bubble it 
is. Piff!" And the proud dome collapsed, and stately wall, 
and ornate capital, 

" all, mingling, fell ! " 

nor left a vestige of their former splendor. 

Added to the spectacular elements of the conflagration the 
intense and lurid light, the sea of red and black, and the spires 
and pyramids of flame shooting into the heavens was its con- 
stant and terrible roar, drowning even the voices of the shriek- 
iug multitude. And ever and anon for awhile as often as 
every half-minute resounded far and wide the rapid detona- 
tions of explosions, or of falling walls. The infirm crust of 
earth on which the city stands was shaken by each shock. At 
three o'clock in the morning the great gasometer exploded with 
a thundering sound. About the same hour the great bell of 


the Court-house fell. In short, all sights and sounds which 
terrify the weak and unnerve the strong abounded.- But they 
were only the accompaniment which the orchestra of Nature was 
furnishing to the terrible tragedy then being enacted, in which 
the fate of every person of that surging throng was vitally in- 



Fleeing for life ^A city full of sleepers surprised and stampeded Chased 
into the lake The merciless elements Ruffianism and rapine A 
thousand dollars to a carter Escape to the prairies. 

TN the preceding chapter we have recorded the doings of the 
-*- fire in an abstract way, leaving almost entirely out of the 
question the terrible concomitants of the conflagration and its 
results upon the human interests comprised in a vast city full 
of people, nearly half of whom (fully a hundred thousand) 
were driven by the raging element from their homes into the 
streets from the streets into the lake or the open prairie; and 
all of whom were most deeply involved, either in regard to life, 
kindred, or property, in the direful event. This was a matter 
of sheer necessity; for we could not tell all at once; and it is 
clear that the priority of mention in describing a conflict like 
this belongs to the victorious party. In this case it was the 
fire which came off victor over all the devices of human inge- 
nuity. The dread fiery Principle, which people might have 
called the Fire Fiend, had not the flippant use of that epithet 
on othei occasions left it so lamentably inadequate to this 
this elemental monster was the hero of the night, and all else 
was naught. Before his scorching, withering breath the proud 
city's populace scattered and squirmed like so many little ants 


disturbed in their hill by the mower's scythe. And yet among 
those powerless victims and terrified fugitives were senators, 
judges, generals, princes of commerce and queens of society and 
of letters the wealthy and the great very wealthy and truly 
great, except when scourged by such a manifestation of divine 
wrath all brought low with the lowly themselves all chas- 
tened and humbled together. And many were sacrificed ; nor 
was the destroyer any respecter of persons in the choice of his 
victims. The rich banker perished in saving his gold or his 
accounts, as well as the poor laborer for lack of cunning, or 
his childing wife for lack of care. 

The fire broke out in the densely-populated section of the city 
somewhat after midnight, as we have seen. The people of the 
quarter through which it first passed were of a class the most 
likely to be careless in the extreme. In that quarter were the 
low brothels of Griswold, Quincy, Jackson, and Wells Streets, 
as well as the more showy haunts of vice on more respectable 
streets, and the rooms of kept mistresses in the upper stories 
of business blocks. The rest of the population living in this 
quarter were people used to excitements and alarms, and not 
likely to be disturbed, especially on a Sunday night, by any 
fidgeting about fire. Among such the panic, when at length 
aroused by the close presence of danger, would naturally be the 
most intense. Awakened from their slumbers, or aroused from 
their orgies by the near approach of the flames, which traveled 
almost like lightning from house to house and from street to 
street, the denizens of that inflammable quarter had barely time 
to escape half-clad, for the most part and rush, ]>ell-rnell, 
through the streets whither, they knew not. Nearly every 
body brought along something a few articles of clothing a 
pet bird or animal perhaps a trunk whatever their various 


impulses prompted them to seize upon in their hasty flight. A 
few were fortunate enough to secure a wagon or a carriage, at 
the fabulous prices charged for such accommodations. These 
filled and clogged the streets, and dashed down those on foot 
for the sidewalks would by no means hold the crowds that 
surged, swearing, shouting, jostling, this way and that. The 
sidewalks, too, were occupied with men saving (that is, trying 
to save) and pillaging from the shops along the way. Stores 
were thrown open, and the people were told to help themselves 
to what they liked it must all go. Saloons, too, were opened, 
and bottles and taps passed from mouth to mouth among the 
crowd. Many rough, transient fellows, who had nothing to 
save, or who came by thousands from distant parts of the city, 
attracted by curiosity or worse motives, drank deep potations 
and became wild and dangerous. Among these, to make the 
scene more revolting, were many boys. 

The scene at this point of the conflagration's progress is thus 
graphically and for the most part correctly described by a local 
writer : 

"The people were mad. Despite the police indeed the po- 
lice were powerless they crowded upon frail coigns of vantage, 
as fences and high sidewalks propped on rotten piles, which fell 
beneath their weight, and hurled them, bruised and bleeding, 
into the dust. They stumbled over broken furniture and fell, 
and were trampled under foot. Seized with wild and causeless 
panics, they surged together backward and forward in the nar- 
row streets, cursing, threatening, imploring, fighting to get free. 
Liquor flowed like water, for the saloons were broken open and 
despoiled, and men on all sides were to be seen frenzied with 
drink. Fourth Avenue and Griswold Street had emptied their 
denizens into the throng. Ill-omened and obscene birds of 


night were they. Villainous, haggard with debauch and pinched 
with misery, flitting through the crowd, collarless, ragged, dirty, 
unkempt, were negroes with stolid faces and white men who 
fatten on the wages of shame; gliding through the mass like vul- 
tures in search of prey. They smashed windows, reckless of 
the severe wounds inflicted on their naked hands, and with 
bloody fingers rifled impartially, till, shelf, and cellar, fighting 
viciously for the spoils of their forays. Women, hollow-eyed 
and brazen-faced, with foul drapery tied over their heads, their 
dresses half-torn from their skinny bosoms, and their feet thrust 
into trodden-down slippers, moved here and there, stealing, scold- 
ing shrilly, and laughing with one another at some particularly 
"splendid" gush of flame or "beautiful" falling-in of a roof. 
One woman on Adams Street was drawn out of a burning house 
three times, and rushed back wildly into the blazing ruin each 
time, insane for the moment. Every-where dust, smoke, flame, 
heat, thunder of falling walls, crackle of fire, hissing of water, 
panting of engines, shouts, braying of trumpets, roar of wind, 
tumult, confusion, and uproar. 

"From the roof of a tall stable and warehouse, to which the 
writer clambered, the sight was one of unparalleled sublimity 
and terror. He was above almost the whole fire, for the build- 
ings in the locality were all small wooden structures. The 
crowds directly under him could not be distinguished, because 
of the curling volumes of crimson smoke through which an oc- 
casional scarlet lift could be seen. He could feel the heat and 
smoke and hear the maddened Babel of sounds, and it required 
little imagination to believe one's self looking over the ada- 
mantine bulwarks of hell into the bottomless pit. On the 
left, where two tall buildings were in a blaze, the flame piled 
up high over our heads, making a lurid background, against 


which were limned in strong relief the people on the roofs be- 
tween. Fire was 'a strong painter and dealt in weird effects, 
using only black and red, and laying them boldly on. We 
could note the very smallest actions of these figures a branch- 
man wiping the sweat from his brow with his cuff and reset- 
tling his helmet, a spectator shading his eyes with his hand 
to peer into the fiery sea. Another gesticulating wildly with 
clenched fist brought down on the palm of his hand, as he 
pointed toward some unseen thing. To the right the faces of 
the crowd in the street could be seen, but not their bodies. All 
were white and upturned, and every feature was as strongly 
marked as if it had been part of an alabaster mask. Far away, 
indeed for miles around, could be seen, ringed by a circle of red 
light, the sea of house-tops broken by spires and tall chimneys, 
and the black and angry lake on which were a few pale, white 

This writer evidently gets slightly "at sea" with his "pale, 
white sails," for no sail would be out in such a wind as blew 
that night at least not with any canvas flying; but his scene 
is otherwise "drawn from the life." 

The hotels those immense caravansaries for which Chicago 
had become noted above all other cities were filled with guests, 
who, having, up to two o'clock, no intimation that any danger 
threatened, were all soundly sleeping at that hour. There was 
the greatest danger indeed one might say a certainty that 
many of these would perish before they could be aroused and 
got out of the vast buildings in which th^y were imprisoned. 
It is now believed, however, that all the occupants of the ho- 
tels the nine-story Palmer, the seven-story Sherman, with its 
mile of halls, the Tremont, Briggs, and the rest all escaped 
in safety to the streets, whatever may have been their fate 


afterward. Undoubtedly many of them perished in trying to 
thread their way through, the burning streets, unacquainted, as 
they were, with the geography of the city, and hindered by 
their attempts to save their luggage. 

The lowest price at which a hack or cart could be obtained 
for this service was ten dollars ; and from that figure it ranged 
upward, according to the ability of the owner or the degree of 
the hackman's devilishness. Mr. E. I. Tinkham, the cashier 
of one of the banks, actually paid an expressman one thousand 
dollars for taking a box to the railroad depot on the west side, 
a distance of a mile; but this was an unusual case, the box car- 
ried being full of treasure, amounting to $600,000, taken from 
the bank-vaults, and to be carried through walls of fire at the 
peril of the brave carter's life. This case is not to be reckoned 
among those of inhuman wretches of drivers who extorted all 
a poor man's means, or perhaps a helpless woman's, for taking 
on board a trunk containing a meager remnant of clothing, 
perhaps to be thrown off at the next corner, where the extort- 
ing process could be repeated upon another customer. It was 
in the North Division that the vulture-like qualities of the ex- 
pressmen and other drivers culminated; for it was there that 
the distress was greatest, and the demand for vehicles most ur- 
gent. By the time the flames had reached the north side, all 
thought of checking its progress had long been abandoned, and 
the only hope of the most hopeful was to escape with their 
lives and a few of such valuables and clothing as they could 
lay hands upon in the haste of their flight. There were many 
carters about, but they wanted now fifty dollars for moving a 
load. Having found a victim, they would stop midway and 
assess him again, or if he refused to submit to their levies, or 
was unable to pay them, off went his goods into the street, to 


be ravaged by roughs, trampled upon by the crowd, or con- 
sumed by the flames. In more than one case, however, these 
unconscionable drivers were brought to a sense of their duty by 
a sudden declaration of martial law on the part of the owner, 
and the exhibition of a loaded revolver a sort of mandamus 
fully excusable in such a strait. 

The fugitives from the fire on the south side had fortunately 
had many avenues of egress, so that it was only those who too 
bravely or too rashly staid to save friends or treasures, or those 
who, by reason of the night's debauches, or other cause, slept 
too soundly in their isolated quarters, who fell a prey to the 
raging element. Others fled in the direction which their im- 
pulse or reason suggested. They had reason to thank the flat 
topography and square, open plan of the city for their deliv- 
ery from being roasted by thousands in the flames. "Without 
straight broad streets, plenty of bridges across the river and its 
branches, and an open country on three sides of the city, the 
slaughter must have been terrible; for the streets would have 
been irremediably choked with colliding vehicles and the peo- 
ple cornered up and consumed by the flames. As it was, those 
who, instead of flying straight to a point to the south or west 
beyond the reach of the monster, shrank to the nearest refuge 
the lake-shore or fled northward before the whelming wave, 
fared the worst of all. The narrow space of unoccupied lake- 
shore lying between Randolph and Congress Streets, and adjoin- 
ing "the basin" a section of the lake protected by a break- 
water was crowded during the night and early morning with 
forlorn creatures of all classes, and strewn with every descrip- 
tion of goods snatched from burning homes. Each fugitive 
had brought along some article or other whatever was most 
dearly prized or could be most hastily reached ; but, by and by, 


as the rigors of the situation increased, they had abandoned 
these impedimenta, and strove only to save what \vas dearest of 
all, their lives. As the choking heat increased and the smoke 
blinded their eyes, and the sparks and brands fell in thicker 
showers, those poor creatures shrank further and further into 
the chilling water of the basin. The most of them were women, 
and their shrieks and moans enhanced the terrors of the scene. 
One of these apparently quite delicate came bringing an im- 
mensely heavy sewing-machine; and when her place of refuge 
became too hot to live in, she seized her ponderous burden and 
bore it on southward. Poor thing! she must sustain it, for it 
is now all that is left to sustain her! Another young woman 
clutches a small bundle probably her clothing so tenaciously 
as to excite the cupidity of a ruffian, who knocks her down, 
seizes her precious package and makes off with it. Here is an- 
other group two daughters supporting an invalid mother, who 
faints repeatedly, each time as if dead. With such scenes as 
these the night wears away. 

By and by all chance of escape to the southward, of which 
the braver ones have been availing themselves hitherto, is cut 
off, and the shrieking fugitives are now pent up between a fiery 
and a watery death the terrors of which are increased by the 
suffering and ruffianism around them, and the wide-spread ruin 
beyond, the loss of home, property, and perhaps kindred, al- 
ready accomplished, and the state of poverty into which they 
must now emerge, if emerge they should at all. 

This was the situation through nearly twelve hours, from 
Sunday midnight to Monday noon, at which time the flames 
had been subdued at the south, and the immediate terrors of 
the situation removed. Those terrors were eclipsed by those 
suffered by the denizens of the ill-fated North Division. These 


were, for the most part, surprised at three o'clock in the morn- 
ing, and woke to find themselves surrounded by fire. The man- 
ner in which the conflagration spread in this part of the city 
has been already described. Called from their beds to witness 
the fire upon the south side of the river, the people cf the 
quiet and elegant residence-quarter east of Clark and south of 
Superior Streets were gazing at the magnificent spectacle and 
uttering their exclamations of pity for the unfortunate inhab- 
itants across the river, when they discovered, to their horror, 
that the flames had already been communicated to their own 
quarter, and that the Water- works and other buildings to the 
rear of them were all ablaze! The appalling significance of 
this discovery was soon apparent to all. It meant that their 
own homes were doomed, and that, before they could save any 
of their goods perhaps before they could escape with their 
lives they would be walled in on either side by fire. 

A terrible panic ensued. There was sudden screaming and 
dashing about of half- clad women, gathering up such valuables 
as could be suddenly snatched. There was frantic rushing into 
the streets and shouting for vehicles. There was anxious in- 
quiry and anon distressed cries for absent protectors a large 
portion of the men being on the far side of the river, and in 
many cases unable to reach their homes. Then there was a 
pell-mell rush through the streets, some of the wild faces push- 
ing eagerly in this direction and others quite as eagerly in the 
opposite; and children screaming; and shouts resounding; and 
brands falling in showers; and truckmen running each other 
down; and half-drunken, wholly desperate ruffians peering into 
doors and seizing valuables, and insulting women; and oaths 
from lips unused to them, as hot as the flames which leaped and 
crackled near by; and prayers from manly breasts where they 


Lad slumbered since childhood; and every other sign of tur- 
moil and terror. 

Those who had sufficient warning endeavored to escape to the 
northward with their best effects. Mr. Eastman, the Postmas- 
ter of the city, whose house was on Erie Street, hauled out some 
trunks of clothing, and found a hackman whom he desired to 
take them on board, but the fee demanded exceeded his means, 
and he was obliged to drag his trunks along, with the help of a 
maid-servant, his wife carrying her infant in her arms. Four 
limes they halted, exhausted, in what seemed a place of safety, 
and four times they were driven on by the insatiate flames. 

The most natural resort of the people of the quarter men- 
tioned, however, was the sandy beach of the lake, where there 
were but few houses, and those were shanties. This strip of 
shore, known as " the Sands," was famous, or, rather, infamous, 
in years agone, as the locale of numerous low brothels, to which 
"Long John" Wentworth, when Mayor of the city, gave the 
coup de grace by allowing them to burn up. Their place had 
never been fully occupied, and to the bleak, narrow area thus 
afforded, the terrified population shrank for refuge from the 
pursuing monster. Such an assemblage as there congregated, 
Chicago never witnessed before and probably never will witness 
again. It was the scene at the "basin" repeated, with more 
diversity. The extremes of wealth and squalor had been dwell- 
ing within a stone's throw of each other in this section of the 
city jfhich had emptied itself upon this scant skirt of sand. 
These inequalities of societies were now leveled off as smooth 
as the beach itself. No, not leveled ; for the landlord and aris- 
tocrat, whose many stores are burning o"n the other side, aud his 
precious library and cabinet the accumulation of a doting life- 
time has still a preferment over the boor who now jostles him ; 


he is allowed to lose more and to suffer more, and is required 
to lament less. But that is all; the two must for tonight share 
each other's bed the damp sand and to-morrow each other's 
fare nothing but sights of horror. 

Scarce a person among the thousands collected on the sands, 
and there pent up for thirty hours, but had lost some dear one 
in the confusion attending the escape from their burning houses 
Whether these were alive or dead, none could know. 

Here was the wife of a well-known musician, with her two 
children one of them but three months old. When the flames 
came too close, she must retreat into the water, breast-deep, and 
bear them aloft. Her husband, after escaping with her from 
their house, had gone back to save some precious article from 
the fire, and had not returned to her. 

Here was a distracted husband who had failed in his effort 
to reach his invalid wife a cousin of the celebrated Madame 
Parepa Rosa, and a lady of rare gifts. (Poor woman ! she died 
a few days afterward, a raving maniac, and one of the many 
victims of the conflagration.) 

Here was a family of brothers and sisters, mourning a mother 
who had perished before their eyes. Here were sick ones, 
snatched from their beds, and dying of exposure. 

Here was every imaginable scene of distress, and knotted 
threads of narrative, which, if followed, would fill this book 
many times over. 

As the morning advanced, some of the sufferers, crawling 
along the shore and down upon a pier, were taken up by tugs 
and propellers and carried up the river or out to sea for safety. 
They embarked at the peril of their lives, for the docks were 
on fire, and more than one staunch steamer burned alongside. 

Such of the north side people as did not resort to the lake 


betook themselves toward Lincoln Park, where a day and night 
of imprisonment and exposure awaited them, or (which proved 
the wisest course) escaped to the west side, where they found 
shelter with friends, or, at least, safety upon the open prairie. 
Chicago Avenue was the main avenue of escape, and this be- 
coming choked with vehicles and goods, many perished in the 
attempt to reach the next thoroughfare to the north. Bremer 
and Wesson Streets, in this vicinity, were found strewn with 
charred corpses when the smoke cleared away. 

All Monday the fire raged through the ill-fated North Di- 
vision ; but its progress was noted with little interest, except by 
the luckless people whose abodes it seized upon as it advanced ; 
for every body had given up the whole of that quarter as lost, 
and there was no longer any struggle, even of hope and fear. 
It seemed as if those emotions had run down, as a clock, neg- 
lected by its keeper, stops for lack of winding. The index had 
stopped at the figure of despair ! 



The early stages of the fire The purlieu which generated it A scene for 
a fire-worshiper A weird procession Discussing the future by the 
light of the past 

A CCOUNTS of the experiences of eye-witnesses are like 
-**- photographic views in conveying to the reader minute 
facts which can not be reached in a general sketch. Accord- 
ingly we give several statements the most graphic, and at the 
same time strictly truthful, which we have anywhere seen. The 
first is that of Mr. J. E. Chamberlin, a young journalist, whose 
curiosity led him to follow up closely the conflagration of the 
7th, as well as the Great Conflagration which followed on the 
8th and 9th. He says : 

" I was at the scene in a few minutes. The fire had already 
advanced a distance of about a single square through the frame 
buildings that covered the ground thickly north of De Koven 
Street and east of Jefferson Street if those miserable alleys shall 
be dignified by being denominated streets. That neighborhood 
had always been a terra incognita to respectable Chicagoans, and 
during a residence of three years in the city I had never visited 
it. The land was thickly studded with one-story frame dwell- 
ings, cow-stables, pig-sties, corn-cribs, sheds innumerable; every 


wretched building within four feet of its neighbor, and every, 
thing of wood not a brick or a stone in the whole area. The 
fire was 'under full headway in this combustible mass before the 
engines arrived, and what could be done? Streams were thrown 
into the flame, and evaporated almost as soon as they struck it. 
A single fire-engine in the blazing forests of Wisconsin would 
have been as .effective as were these machines in a forest of shan- 
ties thrice as combustible as the pine woods of the North. But 
still the firemen kept at work fighting the flames stupidly and 
listlessly, for they had worked hard all of Saturday night and 
most of Sunday, and had been enervated by the whisky which 
is always copiously poured on such occasions. .1 stepped in 
among some sheds south of Ewing Street; a fence by my side 
began to blaze; I beat a hasty retreat, and in five minutes the 
place where I had stood was all ablaze. Nothing could stop 
that conflagration there. It must sweep on until it reached a 
broad street, and then, every body said, it would burn itself 

" Ewing Street was quite a thoroughfare for that region. It 
is a mere alley, it is true, but is somewhat broader than the sur- 
rounding lanes. It has elevated board sidewalks, and is passa- 
ble for teams in dry weather. On that night it was crowded 
with people pouring out of the thickly-settled locality between 
Jefferson Street and the river, and here the first panic began. 
The wretched female inhabitants were rushing out almost naked, 
imploring spectators to help them on with their burdens of bed- 
quilts, cane-bottomed chairs, iron kettles, etc. Drays were thun- 
dering along in the single procession which the narrowness of 
the street allowed, and all was confusion. 

" When the fire had passed Ewing Street, I hurried on to Har- 
rison, aware of the fact that the only hope for the staying of tne 


conflagration was in the width of that street, and hoping that 
some more effective measures than squirting of water would be 
taken at that point. The same scene of hurry and confusion 
was repeated at Harrison on a larger scale than at Ewing ; and 
that same scene kept on increasing in terror all night long, as 
the fire moved northward. The crowd anxiously watched the 
flames as they approached the street, and the universal remark 
was: 'If it passes this, nothing can stop it but last night's 
burned district.' At length the fire reached the street, and 
broke out almost simultaneously for a distance of two squares. 
The two fire-engines which stood in Harrison Street fled in ter- 
ror. Brands of fire, driven on by the gale, struck the houses 
on the north side of the street. Though mostly of brick, they 
ignited like tinder, and the fire swept northward again. 

"Again I passed into Jefferson Street, keeping on the flank 
of the fire. In a vacant square, filled with refugees from the 
fire and their rescued effects, I stopped a few minutes to watch 
the fiery ocean before me. The open lot was covered with peo- 
ple, and a strange sight was presented. The fire had reached a 
better section, and many people of the better class were among 
those who had gathered a few of their household goods on that 
open space. Half a dozen rescued pianos were watched by deli- 
cate ladies, while the crowd still surged in every direction. Two 
boys, themselves intoxicated, reeled about, each bearing a small 
cask of whisky, out of which he insisted upon treating every 
body he met. Soon more casks of whisky appeared, and scores 
of excited men drank deeply of their contents. The result was, 
of course, that an equal number of drunken men were soon im- 
peding the flight of the fugitives. 

" When I reached Van Buren Street, the southern limit of 
the Saturday night fire, I paused to see the end of the confla- 


gration. A. single engine stood on Van Buren Street, doing 
what seemed to me good service in preventing the fire from eat- 
ing its way westward, against the wind, which it was apparently 
determined to do. Suddenly the horses were attached to the en- 
gine, and, as soon as the hose was reeled, it disappeared, whirling 
northward on Jefferson Street. What did it mean? I caught 
the words, ' Across the river/ uttered doubtingly by a bystander. 
The words passed from mouth to mouth, and there was uni- 
versal incredulity, although the suggestion was communicated 
through the crowd with startling rapidity. There was a gen- 
eral movement northward and out of the smoke, with a view to 
discover whether it was really possible that the fire had been 
blown across the river, and had started afresh on the south side. 
I went with the rest, crossed the burnt ground of the night be- 
fore, stood on the embankment that had been Canal Street, and 
perceived, through the clouds of smoke, a bright light across 
the river. I rushed to the Adams-street viaduct and across the 
bridge. The Armory, the Gas-works, ' Conley's Patch/ and 
Wells Street, as far north as Monroe, were all on fire. The 
wind had increased to a tempest, and hurled great blazing 
brands over our heads. 

" At this point my duty called me to my home in the West 
Division; but within an hour I was back again to witness the 
doom of the blazing city, of which I then had a full presenti- 
ment. The streets on the west side were as light as broad noon. 
I looked at my watch and saw that it was just two o'clock. As 
I ran down Monroe Street, with thj| burning town before me, I 
contemplated the ruin that was working, and the tears rose t(T 
my eyes. I could have wept at that saddest of sights, but I 
choked down the tears, and they did not rise again that night. 

" When I crossed the river, I made a desperate attempt to 


reach my office on Madison Street, beyond Clark. I pressed 
through the crowd on Randolph Street as far as Lasalle, and 
stood in front of the burning Court-house. The cupola was in 
full blaze, and presented a scene of the sublimest as well as most 
melancholy beauty. Presently the great tower was undermined 
by the fire below, and fell to the bottom with a dull sound and a 
heavy shock that shook the earth. Somebody called out, 'Ex- 
plosion!' and a panic ensued, in which every thing and every 
body was carried westward. Then I went to Lake Street, and 
found a torrent of sparks sweeping down that avenue. But I 
pulled my hat about my eyes, buttoned up my coat-collar, and 
rushed eastward, determined to reach my office. I turned down 
Dearborn, and leaped through a maelstrom of scorching sparks. 
The fiery storm at length drove me into an open store, from 
which the occupants had fled. I seized a large blanket which 
they had left on the floor, wrapped it around my head and body, 
and sallied forth again. I went as far as Washington Street, 
but any attempt at further progress would have been madness. 
I beat a hasty retreat to Lake Street, and came down Lnsalle 
again to the immediate neighborhood of the fire. 

"And now. the scene of confusion had reached its height. 
Wagons were rushing through the streets, laden with stocks of 
goods, books, valuable papers, boxes of money, and every thing 
conceivable; scores of men were dragging trunks frantically 
along the sidewalks, knocking down women and children ; fab- 
ulous sums of money were offered truckmen for conveyances. 
The scene was indescribable. 

" But, as large as was the number of people who were flying 
from the fire, the number of passive spectators was still larger. 
Their eyes were all diverted from the skurrying mass of peo- 
ple around them to the spectacle of appalling grandeur before 


them. They stood transfixed, with a mingled feeling of horror 
and admiration, and while they often exclaimed at the beauty 
of the scene, they all devoutly prayed that they might never 
soe such another. The noise of the conflagration was terrific. 
To the roar which the simple process of combustion always 
makes, magnified here to so -grand an extent, was added the 
crash of falling buildings and the constant explosions of stores 
of oil and other like material. The noise of the crowd was 
nothing compared with this chaos of sound. All these things 
the great, dazzling, mounting light, the crash and roar of the 
conflagration, and the desperate flight of the crowd combined 
to make a scene of which no intelligent idea can be conveyed 
in words. 

"When it became too hot in Randolph Street, I retired to 
the eastern approach of the bridge on that street. A knot of 
men had gathered there, from whom all signs of excitement 
had disappeared. It was then almost four o'clock, and what- 
ever excitement we had felt during the night had passed away. 
Wearied with two nights of exertion, I sat upon the railing 
and looked down on the most appalling spectacle of the whole 
night. The Briggs House, the Metropolitan House, Peter 
Schuttler's wagon manufactuory, Heath & Mulligan's oil estab- 
lishment, stored five stories high with exceedingly inflammable 
material, the Nevada Hotel, and all the surrounding buildings, 
were in a simultaneous blaze. The flames, propelled by varia- 
ble gusts of wind, seemed to pour down Randolph Street in a 
liquid torrent. Then the appearance was changed, and the fire 
was a mountain over our heads. The barrels of oil in Heath's 
store exploded with a sound like rattling musketry. The great 
north wall of the Nevada Hotel plunged inward with hardly a 
sound, so great was the din of the surrounding conflagration. 


The Garden City House burned like a box of matches; the 
rapidity of its disappearance was remarked by every body. To- 
ward the east and north-east we looked upon a surging ocean of 

" Meanwhile a strange scene was being enacted in the street 
before us. A torrent of humanity was pouring over the bridge. 
Madison-street bridge had long before become impassable, and 
Randolph was the only outlet for the entire region south of it. 
Drays, ex press- wagons, trucks, and conveyances of every con- 
ceivable species and size, crowded across in indiscriminate haste. 
Collisions happened almost every moment, and when one over- 
loaded wagon broke down, there were enough men on hand to 
drag it and its contents over the bridge by main force. The 
same long line of men dragging trunks was there, many of them 
tugging over the ground with loads which a horse would strain 
at. Women were there, looking exactly like those I had seen 
all night, staggering under weights upon their backs. Whole 
establishments of ill-fame were there, their half-dozen inmates 
loaded into the bottoms of ex press- wagons, driven, of course, by 
their ' men.' Now and then a stray schooner, which, for want of 
a tug, had been unable to escape earlier from the south branch, 
came up, and the bridge must be opened. Then arose a howl 
of indignation along the line, which, being near, was audible 
above the tumult. A brig lay above us in the stream, and the 
capf iin was often v/arned by the crowd that he must make his 
exit at once, if hr wished to save his craft a suggestion the 
force of which he doubtless appreciated, as he stood upon the 
quarter-deck calling frantically to every tug that passed. 

" I saw an Undertaker rushing over the bridge with his mourn- 
ful stock. ]J/ had taken a dray, but was unable to load all of 
his goods i 1 Se vehicle. So he employed half a dozen boys, 






gave each of them a coffin, took a large one himself, and headed 
the weird procession. The sight of those coffins, upright, and 
bobbing along just above the heads of the crowd, without any 
apparent help from any body else, was somewhat startling, and 
the unavoidable suggestion was that they were escaping across 
the river to be ready for use when the debris of the conflagra- 
tion should be cleared away. But just as men in the midst of 
a devastating plague carouse over each new corpse, and drink to 
the next who dies, so we laughed quite merrily at the ominous 

" At last it became too warm to be comfortable on the east side 
of the river. The fire was burning along Market Street, and 
many were the conjectures whether Lind's block would go. The 
buildings opposite burned with a furnace-heat, but Lind's block 
stands now, a monument to its own isolation. 

"And then the question was every-where asked, 'Will Chi- 
cago ever recover from this blow?' Many suggestions were 
offered on this subject The general opinion was that the city 
could never again obtain a foothold. Said one old gentleman, 
' Our capital is wiped out of existence. You never can get what 
money is stored up out of those vaults. There is n't one that 
can stand this furnace-heat. Whatever the fire consumes to- 
night is utterly consumed. All loss is total ; for there will not 
be an insurance company left to-morrow. The trade of the city 
must go to St. Louis, to Cincinnati, and to New York, and we 
never can get hold of it again. We could n't transact any busi- 
ness even if we had customers, for we have n't got anywhere to 
transact it. Yes, sir, this town is gone up, and we may as well 
get out of it at once.' Thus all seemed to talk, and there was 
none of that earnest, hopeful language of which I have heard 
BO much since, and have been rejoiced to hear. But what else 


could I expect? Those men stood facing the burning city. 
They saw those great hotels and warehouses toppling, one after 
another, to the ground. Their spirits were elastic, as subsequent 
events have proved, but on that terrible night they were drawn 
to their utmost tension, and the cord came near breaking. 

" Tired with my two nights' work and of the sad sight before 
me, I joined the crowd, crossed the river, went up Canal Street 
and lay down on a pile of lumber in Avery's yard. My posi- 
tion was at the confluence of the north and south branches, di- 
rectly opposite the middle of the main river, and exactly on the 
dock. All solicitude for the remaining portion of the city, and 
all appreciation of the magnitude of the tragedy that was being 
acted across the river, had left me. I did not care whether the 
city stood or burned. I was dead, so far as my sensibilities 
were concerned. Half a dozen fellows strangers were with 
me on the lumber-pile, and were as listless as myself. The 
chief matter which seemed to interest them was the probable 
weight of one of their party a fat fellow, whom they called 
Fred. I became quite interested in the subject, and joined in 
the guessing. Fred kept us bursting in ignorance awhile, and 
then, in a burst of confidence, told us he weighed 206, and 
begged us not to mention it. Meanwhile, Wells-street bridge 
took fire, and, as affording something novel, attracted our at- 
tention for a few minutes. The south end of the bridge caught 
alight, and then the north end. But the north end burned less 
rapidly than the south, and soon outbalanced the latter, when, 
of course, the whole structure tipped to the northward, and 
stood fixed, one end in the water, at an angle of about sixty 
degrees. Then the fire communicated with the whole frame- 
work, till the bridge looked like a skeleton with ribs of fire. 
But presently the support underneath burned away; then the 


skeleton turned a complete summersault and plunged into the 
river, as if, warmed into life, it had sought refuge from the flames 
which were consuming it." 

[Our contributor here details his adventures upon the north 
side, which were not of particular moment.] 

" When I had regained a footing in the favored West Divis- 
ion, it was seven o'clock. Then a curious-looking crimson ball 
came up out of the lake, which they said was the sun ; but oh 
how sickly and insignificant it looked! I had watched that 
greatest of the world's conflagrations from its beginning to al- 
most its end; and although the fire was still blazing all over 
the city with undiminished luster, I could not look at it. I 
was almost unable to walk with exhaustion and the eflects of 
a long season of excitement, and sought my home for an hour's 
sleep. As I passed up West Madison Street, I met scores of 
working girls on their way ' down town,' as usual, bearing their 
lunch-baskets as if nothing had happened. They saw the fire 
and smoke before them, but could not believe that the city, 
with their means of livelihood, had been swept away during 
that night." 



Narrative of Alexander Frear A fond mother's mishaps Scenes on the 
Avenues Rifling the dry goods palaces How a pious soul prayed 
herself to death Asking too much of Providence Human diabolism 
Cheapness of life. 

'R.ALEXANDER FREAR, a New York alderman,. seems 
to have seen as much of the fire and its concomitants as" 
any other person in the city; and he tells his adventures in a 
plain and straightforward way which is at the same time very 
graphic. The beginning of his narrative, as we quote it, finds 
Mr. Frear upon the west side of the river, endeavoring to com- 
fort his brother's wife (his brother being absent from the city) 
by assuring her (what proved to be the fact) that her house, on 
Ewing Street, would not be touched by the flames. Neverthe- 
less, she would not be appeased until her goods and children 
had been sent over to the house of a friend on Wabash Avenue. 
Then, presently, the anxious mother had to follow in a coach, 
procured half a mile away, and with her satchel full of valuables 
in her hand. After a hard drive, through a roundabout route, 
they were stopped by the jam at the corner of Wabash Avenue 
and Washington Street. The narrative proceeds : 

"In the confusion it was difficult to get any information; 

but I was told that the block in which the Kimballs lived (the 


refuge of Mrs. Frear's children) was burning, and that the peo- 
ple were all out. To add to my distress Mrs. Frear jumped 
out of the vehicle and started to run in the direction of the fire. 
Nothing, I am satisfied, saved her from being crushed to death 
in a mad attempt to find her children but the providential ap- 
pearance of an acquaintance, who told her that the children 
werr all safe at the St. James Hotel. ... I found 
that Mrs. Frear's acquaintance had either intentionally or unin- 
tentionally deceived her. The children were not in the house. 
AY hen I informed her of it she fainted. AYhen she was being 
taken up stairs to the parlor I found she had lost her satchel. 
AYhether it was left in the cab when she jumped out, or 
was stolen in the house, I can not say. It contained two gold 
watches, several pins and drops of value, a cameo presented to 
her by Mrs. Stephen A. Douglas, a medal of honor belonging 
to her husband (who was an officer in the First Wisconsin Vol- 
unteers during the war), and about $200 in bills and currency 
stamps, besides several trinkets of trifling value." 

Leaving his charge in the care of some ladies, Mr. Frear 
proceeded in search of the children. He went to the Sherman 
House, where all was panic. " I looked out," he says, " of one 
of the south windows of the house, and shall never forget the 
terribly magnificent sight I saw. The Court-house Park was 
filled with people who appeared to be huddled together in a 
solid mass, helpless and astounded. The whole air was filled 
with the falling cinders, and it looked like a snow-storm lit by 
colored fire. The weird effect of the glare and the scintillating 
light upon this vast silent concourse was almost frightful. AVhile 
in the corridor of the Sherman House I encountered my nephew, 
and he asked me if I wanted to see the fire, saying he had one of 
George Garrison's horses and only wanted a rubber blanket to 


throw over him to protect him from the sparks. I told him 
about Mrs. Frear, but he thought there was no reason to worry. 
He got a blanket somewhere, and we started off in a light wagon 
for Wabash Avenue, stopping at Wright's, under the Opera 
House, to get a drink of coffee, which I needed very much. 
There were several of the firemen of the Little Giant in there. 
One of the men was bathing his head with whisky from a flask. 
They declared that the entire department had given up, over- 
worked, and that they could do nothing more. While we stood 
there an Irish girl was brought in with her dress nearly all 
burnt from her person. It had caught on the Court-house 
steps from a cinder. When we went out a man in his shirt- 
sleeves was unhitching the horse; and when we came up he 
sprung into the wagon, and would have driven off in spite of 
us if I had not caught the horse by the head. He then sprang 
out and struck my nephew in the face, and ran toward State 

" We drove as rapidly as we could into Wabash Avenue, the 
wind sweeping the embers after us in furious waves. We passed 
a broken-down steamer in the middle of the roadway. The 
avenue was a scene of desolation. The storm of falling fire 
seemed to increase every second, and it was as much as we could 
do to protect ourselves from the burning rain and guide the 
horse through the flying people and hurrying vehicles. Look- 
ing back through Washington Street, toward the Opera House, 
I saw the smoke and flames pouring out of State Street, from 
the very point we had just left, and the intervening space was 
filled with the whirling embers that beat against the houses and 
covered the roofs and window-sills. It seemed like a tornado 
of fire. To add to the terrors the animals, burnt and infuriated 
by the cinders, darted through the streets regardless of all hu- 


man obstacles. Wabash Avenue was burning as far down as 
Adams Street. The flames from the houses on the west side 
reached in a diagonal arch quite across the street, and occasion- 
ally the wind would lift the great body of flame, detach it en- 
tirely from the burning buildings, and hurl it with terrific force 
far ahead. All the mansions were being emptied with the 
greatest disorder and the greatest excitement. Nobody en- 
deavored to stay the flames now. A mob of men and women, 
all screaming and shouting, ran about wildly, crossing each 
other's paths, and intercepting each other as if deranged. We 
tried to force our way along the avenue, which was already 
littered with costly furniture, some of it burning in the streets 
under the falling sparks, but it was next to impossible. Twice 
we were accosted by gentlemen with pocket-books in their 
hands, and asked to carry away to a place of safety some valu- 
able property. Much as we may have desired to assist them, 
it was out of our power. Women came and threw packages 
into the vehicle, and one man with a boy hanging to him 
caught the horse and tried to throw us out. I finally got out 
and endeavored to lead the animal out of the terrible scenes. 
When we had gone about a block I saw that the Court-house was 
on fire, and almost at the same moment some one said the St. 
James had caught on the roof. I was struck on the arm by 
a bird-cage flung from an upper window, and the moment I 
released the horse he shied and ran into a burning dray-load 
of furniture, smashing the wheel of the wagon and throwing 
my companion out on his shoulder. Fortunately he was only 
bruised. But the horse, already terrified, started immediately, 
and I saw him disappear with a leap like that of a panther. 

"We then hurried on toward the St. James Hotel, passing 
through some of the strangest and saddest scenes it has ever 


been my misfortune to witness. I saw a woman kneeling in 
the street with a crucifix held up before her and the skirt of 
her dress burning while she prayed. We had barely passed her 
before a runaway truck dashed her to the ground. Loads of 
goods passed us repeatedly that were burning on the trucks, and 
my nephew says that he distinctly saw one man go up to a pile 
of costly furniture lying in front of an elegant residence and 
deliberately hold a piece of burning packing-box under it until 
the pile was lit. When we reached the wholesale stores north 
of Madison Street the confusion was even worse. These stores 
were packed full of the most costly merchandise, and to save 
it at the rate the fire was advancing was plainly impossible. 
There was no police, and no effort was made to keep off the 
rabble. A few of the porters and draymen employed by these 
stores were working manftilly, but there were costermongers' 
wagons, dirt carts, and even coaches backed up and receiving 
the goods, and a villainous crowd of men and boys chaffing each 
other and tearing open parcels to discover the nature of their 
contents. I reached the St. James between two and three o'clock 
on Monday morning. It was reported to be on fire, but I did 
not see the flames then. Mrs. Frear had been moved in an 
insensible state to the house of a friend on the north side. I 
could learn no other particulars. 

"The house was in a dreadful state of disorder. Women 
and children were screaming in every direction, and baggago 
being thrown about in the most reckless manner. I now con- 
cluded that Mrs. Frear's children had been lost. It was re- 
ported that hundreds of people had perished in the flames. 

" There was a crowd of men and women at the hotel from 
one of the large boarding-houses in the neighborhood of State 
and Adams Streets, and they said they barely escaped with their 





lives, leaving every thing behind. At this time it seemed to me 
that the fire would leave nothing. People coming in said the 
Sherman House was going, and that the Opera-house had caught. 
Finally word was brought that the bridges were burning, and 
all escape was cut off to the north and west. Then ensued a 
snene which was beyond description. Men shouted the news, 
and added to the panic. Women, half-dressed, and many of 
tuem with screaming children, fled out of the building. There 
was a jam in the doorway, and they struck and clawed each 
other as if in self-defense. I lost sight of my nephew at this 
time. Getting out with the crowd, I started and ran round to- 
ward the Tremont House. Reaching Dearborn Street, the gust 
of fire was so strong that I could hardly keep my feet. 

" I ran on down toward the Tremont. Here the same scene 
was being enacted with tenfold violence. The elevator had got 
jammed, and the screams of the women on the upper floors was 
heart-rending. I forced my way upstairs, seeing no fire, and 
looked into all the open rooms, calling aloud the names of Mrs. 
Frear's daughters. Women were swarming in the parlors; in- 
valids, brought there for safety, were lying upon the floor. 
Others were running distracted about, calling upon their hus- 
bands. Men, pale and awe-struck and silent, looked on with- 
out any means of averting the mischief. All this time the upper 
part of the house was on fire. The street was choked with peo- 
ple, yelling and moaning with excitement and fright. I looked 
down upon them from an upper window a moment, and saw far 
up Dearborn Street the huge flames pouring in from the side- 
Btreets I had traversed but an hour ago, and it appeared to me 
that they were impelled with the force of a tremendous blow- 
pipe. Every thing that they touched melted. Presently the 
smoke began to roll down the stairways, and almost immedi- 


ately after the men who had been at work on the roof came 
running down. They made no outcry, but hurried from the 
house as if for their lives. I went up to the fourth story, look- 
ing into every room, and kicking open those that were locked. 
There were several other men searching in the same manner, 
but I did not notice them. "While up here I obtained a view 
of the conflagration. It was advancing steadily upon the hotel 
from two or three points. There was very little smoke; it burned 
too rapidly, or what there was must have been carried away 
on the wind. The whole was accompanied by a crackling 
noise as of an enormous bundle of dry twigs burning, and by 
explosions that followed each other in quick succession on all 

" From the street-entrance I could see up Dearborn Street as 
far as the Portland Block, and it was full of people all the dis- 
tance, swaying and surging under the reign of fire. Around 
on Lake Street the tumult was worse. Here for the first time 
I beheld scenes of violence that made my blood boil. In front 
of Shay's magnificent dry goods store a man loaded a store- 
truck with silks in defiance of the employes of the place. 
When he had piled all he could upon the truck, some one with 
a revolver shouted to him not to drive away or he would fire 
at him, to which he replied, 'Fire, and be damned!' and the 
man put the pistol in his pocket again. Just east of this store 
there was at least a ton of fancy goods thrown into the street, 
over which the people and vehicles passed with utter indiffer- 
ence, until they took fire. I saw myself, a ragamuffin on the 
Clark-street bridge, who had been killed by a marble slab 
thrown from a window, with white kid gloves on his hands ; 
and whose pockets were stuffed with gold-plated sleeve-buttons, 
and on that same bridge I saw an Irish woman leading a goat 


that was big with young, by one arm, while under the other she 
carried a piece of silk. 

" Lake Street was rich with treasure, and hordes of thieves 
forced their way into the stores and flung out the merchandise 
to their fellows in the street, who received it without disguise, 
and fought over it openly. I went through the street to Wabash 
A venue, and here the thoroughfare was utterly choked with all 
manner of goods and people. Every body who had been forced 
from the other end of the town by the advancing flames had 
brought some article with him, and, as further progress was 
delayed, if not completely stopped by the river the bridges of 
which were also choked most of them, in their panic, aban- 
doned their burdens, so that the street and sidewalks presented 
the most astonishing wreck. Valuable oil-paintings, books, pet 
animals, musical instruments, toys, mirrors, and bedding, were 
trampled under foot. Added to this, the goods from the stores 
had been hauled out and had taken fire, and the crowd, break- 
ing into a liquor establishment, were yelling with the fury of 
demons, as they brandished champagne and brandy bottles. 
The brutality and horror of the scene made it sickening. A 
fellow, standing on a piano, declared that the fire was the frieua 
of the poor man. He wanted every body to help himself to the 
best liquor he could get, and continued to yell from the piano 
until some one, as drunk as himself, flung a bottle at him and 
knocked him off it. In this chaos were hundreds of children, 
wailing and crying for their parents. One little girl, in par- 
ticular, I saw, whose golden hair was loose down her back and 
caught fire. She ran screaming past me, and somebody threw 
a glass of liquor upon her, which flared up and covered her 
with a blue flame. It was impossible to get through to the 
bridge, and I was forced to go buck toward Randolph Street. 


There was a strange and new fascination in the scenes that I 
could not resist. 

" It was now daylight, and the fire was raging closely all 
about me. The Court-house, the Sherman House, the Tremont 
House, and the wholesale stores on Wabash Avenue, and the 
retail stores on Lake Street, were burning. The cries of the 
multitude on the latter streets had now risen into a terrible 
roar, for the flames were breaking into the river streets. I saw 
the stores of Messrs. Drake, Hamlin, and Farwell burn. They 
ignited suddenly all over in a manner entirely new to me, just as 
I have seen paper do that is held to the fire until it is scorched 
and breaks out in a flame. The crowds who were watching 
them greeted the combustion with terrible yells. In one of the 
stores I think it was Hamlin's there were a number of men 
at the time on the several floors passing out goods, and when 
the flames blown over against it enveloped the building, they 
were lost to sight entirely; nor did I see any effort whatever 
made to save them, for the heat was so intense that every body 
was driven as before a tornado from the vicinity of the build- 
ings. I now found myself carried by the throng back to near 
Twake Street, and determined, if possible, to get over the river. 
I managed to accomplish this, after a severe struggle and at the 
risk of my life. The rail of the bridge was broken away, and 
a number of small boats loaded with goods were passing down 
the stream. How many people were pushed over the bridge 
into the water I can not tell. I myself saw one man stumble 
under a load of clothing and disappear; nor did the occupants 
of the boats pay the slightest attention to him nor to the crowd 
overhead, except to guard against any body falling into their 

From the north side, Mr. Frear made his way to the west 


side, where he fell down and slept in the hall of his brother's 
house; but was aroused in half an hour to join in another res- 
cue of Mrs. Frear, whose refuge on the north side was about to 
be burned. This accomplished, just in time to save the lady 
from the flames, Mr. Frear and the friend who had told him 
of her whereabouts hauled her, shrieking with hysterics, in a 
baker's wagon, some four miles, over much debris, to the home 
where she ought to have staid in the first place. Her property, 
including the jewelry, money, and relics, were all gone; but the 
children were soon heard from. They were safe at the River- 
side suburb. 



Narrative of Horace White, Esq. How the " bloated aristocrats " took it 
A parrot equal to the emergency Sheridan in the fray The gunpow- 
der cure. 

A MONG the severest sufferers by the general calamity was 
-^-*- Horace White, Esq., editor of the Tribune, who lost, be- 
sides other property, his elegant home on Michigan Avenue, 
containing a remarkably select and scholarly library, for which 
he would not have taken $25,000. Mr. White, on discovering 
that the fire was one of unusual magnitude, arose from his bed 
for the purpose of going to the Tribune office and writing an 
editorial paragraph perhaps advising every body to build ab- 
solutely fire-proof edifices like the Tribune building. He thus 
describes the scene which met him as he passed out upon the 
street : 

"Billows of fire were rolling over the business palaces of the 
city and swallowing up their contents. Walls were falling so 
fast that the quaking of the ground under our feet was scarcely 
noticed, so continuous was the reverberation. Sober men and 
women were hurrying through the streets, from the burning 
quarter, some with bundles of clothing on their shoulders, others 
dragging trunks along the sidewalks by means of strings and 
ropes fastened to the handles, children trudging by their sides 


or borne in their arms. Now and then a sick man or woman 
would be observed, half concealed in a mattress doubled up aud 
borne by two men. Droves of horses were in the streets, mov- 
ing under some sort of guidance to a place of safety. Vehicles 
of all descriptions were hurrying to and fro, some laden with 
trunks and bundles, and others seeking similar loads and im- 
mediately finding them, the drivers making more money in one 
hour than they were used to see in a week or a month. Every 
body in this quarter was hurrying toward the lake-shore. All 
the streets crossing that part of Michigan Avenue which fronts 
on the lake (on which my own residence stood) were crowded 
with fugitives, hastening toward the blessed water." 

After a season at the office of the Tribune, during which the 
editorial was written (but never printed), Mr. White went home 
to breakfast, noticing as he went that the employes of Messrs. 
Field, Leiter & Co.'s immense dry goods store were showering 
that massive pile of pure marble and iron with water from 
their own pumping engines. He felt sure that that building, 
as well as the Tribune, First National Bank, and Illinois Cen- 
tral Railroad Depot, would, with every thing to the east of them, 
be reserved from the destruction of the flames. This was, per- 
haps, a good calculation, from his point of view; but he would 
not have made it if he could, from a balloon, or from a high 
vantage point to the south-west, have marked the general 
course and scanned the mighty plan (as it seemed) of the de- 
vastating monster. Mr. White's narrative continues: 

"There was still a mass of fire to the south-west, in the 
direction whence it originally came, but as the engines were all 
down there, and the buildings small and low, I felt sure that the 
firemen would manage it. As soon as I had swallowed a cup 
of coffee and communicated to my family the facts that I had 


gathered., I started out to see the end of the battle. Reaching 
State Street I glanced down to Field, Leiter & Co.'s store, and 
to ray surprise noticed that the streams of water which had 
before been showering it as though it had been a great arti- 
ficial fountain, had ceased to run. But I did not conjecture 
the awful reality, viz: that the great pumping engines had been 
disabled by a burning roof falling upon them. I thought that 
perhaps the firemen on the store had discontinued their efforts 
because the danger was over. But why were men carrying out 
goods from the lower story ? 

"This query was soon answered by a gentleman who asked 
me if I had heard that the water had stopped? The awful 
truth was here! The pumping engines were disabled, and 
though we had at our feet a basin sixty miles wide by three 
hundred and sixty long, and seven hundred feet deep, all full 
of clear green water, we could not lift enough to quench a 
cooking-stove. Still the direction of the wind was such that I 
thought the remaining fire would not cross State Street, nor 
reach the residences on Wabash and Michigan Avenues and 
the terrified people on the lake-shore. I determined to go down 
to the black cloud of smoke which was rising away to the south- 
west, the course of which could not be discovered on account 
of thehight of the intervening buildings, but thought it most 
prudent to go home again and tell my wife to get the family 
wearing apparel in readiness for moving. I found that she had 
already clone so. 

" I then hurried toward the black cloud, some ten squares 
distant, and there found the rows of wooden houses on Third 
and Fourth Avenues falling like ripe wheat before a reaper. 
At a glance I perceived that all was lost in our quarter of the 
city, and I conjectured that the Tribune Building was doomed 


too, for I had noticed with consternation that the fire-proof 
post-office had been completely gutted, notwithstanding it was 
detached from other buildings. The Tribune was fitted into a 
niche, one side of which consisted of a wholesale stationery 
store, and the other of McVicker*s Theater. But there was now 
no time to think of property. Life was in danger. The lives 
of those most dear to me depended upon their getting out of our 
house, out of our street, through an infernal gorge of horses, 
wagons, men, women, children, trunks, and plunder. 

"My brother was with me, and we seized the first empty 
wagon we could find, pinning the horse by the head. A hasty 
talk with the driver disclosed that we could have his establish- 
ment for one load for twenty dollars. I had not expected to 
get him for less than a hundred, unless we should take him by 
force, and this was a bad time for a fight. He approved him- 
self a muscular as well as a faithful fellow, and I shall always 
be glad that I avoided a personal difficulty with him. One 
peculiarity of the situation was that nobody could get a team 
without ready money. I had not thought of this when I was 
revolving in my mind an ofier of one hundred dollars, which 
was more greenbacks than our whole family could put up if our 
lives had depended on the issue. This driver had divined that 
as all the banks were burned, a check on the Commercial Na- 
tional would not carry him very far, even though it should carry 
me to a place of saiUty. All the drivers had divined the same. 
Every man who had any thing to sell had perceived the same. 
'Pay as you go' had become the watchword of the hour. 
Never was there a community so hastily and completely eman- 
cipated from the evils of the credit system." 

A quantity of trunks, etc., was thrown into the wagon, and 
Mr. White, taking in his hand a cage containing what he calls 


"a talented parrot" the family pet left his brother and wife to 
prepare the next load, and started off for a friend's house, half 
a mile to the southward. They were an hour or more on the 
way, owing to the jam, and were at one time deterred by a 
howling German, who declared that he had lost every thing, 
and others ought to do the same. 

"Presently," Mr. White continues, "the jam began to move, 
and we got on perhaps twenty paces and stuck fast again. By 
accident we had edged over to the east side of the street, and 
nothing but a board fence separated us from Lake Park, a strip 
of made ground a little wider than the street itself. A benevo- 
lent laborer, on the park side of the fence, pulled a loose post 
out of the ground, and with this for a catapult, knocked off the 
boards and invited us to pass through. It was a hazardous 
undertaking, as we had to drive diagonally over a raised side- 
walk, but we thought it was best to risk it. Our horse mounted, 
and gave us a jerk which nearly threw us off the seat, and sent 
the provision basket and one bundle of clothing whirling into 
the dirt. The eatables were irrecoverable. The bundle was 
rescued, with two or three pounds of butter plastered upon it. 
We started again, and here our parrot broke out, with great 
rapidity and sharpness of utterance, 'Get up, get up, get up, 
hurry up, hurry up, it's eight o'clock,' ending with a shrill 
whistle. These ejaculations frightened a pair of horses close to 
us, on the other side of the fence, but the jam was so tight that 
they could n't run. 

"By getting into the park we succeeded in advancing two 
squares without impediment, and might have gone farther had 
we not come upon an excavation which the public authorities 
had recently made. This drove us back to the avenue, where 
another battering-ram made a gap for us, at the intersection of 


Van Buren Street, the north end of Michigan Terrace. Here 
the gorge seemed impassable. We were half an hour in passing 
the terrace. From this imposing row of residences the mil- 
lionaires were dragging their trunks and their bundles, and yet 
there was no panic, no frenzy, no boisterousness, but only the 
haste which the situation authorized. . . . Arriving at 
Eldridge Court, I turned into Wabash Avenue, where the crowd 
was thinner. Arriving at the house of a friend, who was on 
the windward side of the fire, I tumbled off ray load and started 
back to get another. Half way down Michigan Avenue, which 
was now perceptibly easier to move in, I discovered my family 
on the sidewalk, with their arms full of light household effects. 
My wife told me that the house was already burned, that the 
flames burst out ready-made in the rear hall before she knew 
that the roof had been scorched, and that one of the servants, 
who had disobeyed orders in her eagerness to save some article, 
had got singed, though not burned, in coming out. My wife 
and mother and all the rest were begrimed with dirt and smoke, 
like blackamoors every body was. The f bloated aristocrats' 
all along the street, who supposed they had lost both home 
and fortune at one swoop, were a sorry but not despairing con- 
gregation. They had saved their lives at all events, and they 
knew that many of their fellow-creatures must have lost theirs. 
I saw a great many kindly acts done as we moved along. The 
poor helped the rich, and the rich helped the poor (if any body 
could be called rich at such a time) to get on with their loads. 

"Presently we heard loud detonations, and a rumor went 
around that buildings were being blown up with gunpowder. 
The depot of the Hazard Powder Company was situated at 
Brighton, seven or eight miles from the nearest point of the fire. 


At what time the effort was first made to reach this magazine, 
and bring powder into the service, I have not learned, but 1 
know that Colonel M. C. Stearns made heroic efforts with his 
great lime wagons to haul the explosive material to the proper 
point. This is no time to blame any body, but in truth there 
was no directing head on the ground. Every body was ask- 
ing every body else to pull down buildings. There were no 
hooks, no ropes, no axes. 

" I had met General Sheridan on the street in front of the 
post-office two hours before. He had been trying to save the 
army records, including his own invaluable papers relating to 
the war of the rebellion. He told me that they were "all lost, 
and then added that the post-office did n't seem to make a good 
fire. This was when we supposed the row of fire-proof build- 
ings, already spoken of, had stopped the flames in our quarter. 
Where was General Sheridan now? every body asked. Why 
did n't he do something when every body else had failed ? 
Presently a rumor went around that Sheridan was handling 
the gunpowder; then every body felt relieved. The reverbera- 
tions of the powder, whoever was handling it, gave us all heart 
again. Think of a people feeling encouraged by the fact that 
somebody was blowing up houses in the midst of the city, and 
that a shower of bricks was very likely to come down on their 

The experience of Mr. White and his family is perhaps the 
average one of the wealthier classes of the South Division. 
That of the same classes in the North Division (represented in 
the narrative of Mr. Arnold, contained in the next chapter) 
was much rougher, from which may be deduced an inference 
as to that of the fifty times more numerous poor families, who 


had no twenty dollars to give to an exceptionally liberal cart- 
man, no sympathizing friends down the avenue to afford them 
shelter and other comforts, and generally no hour's or even a 
half hour's time in which to calculate upon the means of escape 
from the devouring element. 



Hon. Isaac N. Arnold defends his castle A vain contest Overpowered and 
routed Running the fire blockade. 

AMONG the many beautiful homes destroyed in the North 
Division of the city, few, if any, were at once more ele- 
gant and home-like than that of the Hon. Isaac N. Arnold, 
the friend and biographer of Lincoln. The house was a large, 
plain, brick mansion, occupying with its grounds the whole 
block bounded by Erie, Huron, Pine, and Rush Streets. The 
grounds were filled with the most beautiful shrubbery and trees, 
and entirely secluded by a very luxuriant lilac hedge. Perhaps 
the most noticeable feature was the vines of wild grape, Virginia 
creeper, and bitter-sweet, whicli hung in graceful festoons from 
the massive elms, and covered with their dense foliage piazzas 
and summer-houses. There was a simple but quaint fountain, 
playing in front, beneath a perfect bower of overhanging vines. 
A great rock, upon which had been rudely carved the features 
of an Indian chief, had been pierced, and through this a way 
had been made for the water, and over the head of the old chief 
the water of Lake Michigan was always throwing its spray. 
On one side of the entrance was a little greenhouse, always gay 
with flowers. Two vineries of choice varieties of foreign grapes, 


and a large greenhouse and bam, constituted the out-buildings. 
On the lawn was a sun-dial with the insciiption: 

" Horas non numero nisi serenas." * 

Alas! the tablet vindicated its motto but too well. It was 
broken by the heat or in the melee which accompanied the fire, 
and the dark hours which have followed pass by without its 

But pleasant as was the outside, it was the interior wherein 
its great attractions lay; and the chief of these was the library. 
Here were the collections of the lifetime of a man of taste, 
wealth, and culture a law library and a miscellaneous library 
of seven or eight thousand volumes. Many of the books were 
specialties, and the objects of pride and affection. Among them 
were the speeches of Burke, Sheridan, Fox, Pitt, Erskine, Cur- 
ran, Brougham, Webster, Wirt, Seward, Sumner, etc., all su- 
perbly bound ; a pretty full collection of English literature and 
history; the Abbotsford edition of Scott's novels, in full Russia 
binding; Pickering and Bacon, in tree calf; a full set of the 
British poets; all of Bonn's libraries, etc. In American liter- 
ature and history the library was rich, including beautiful edi- 
tions of the works of Cooper, Irving, Paulding, Willis, Bryant, 
Longfellow, Prescott, Holmes, the writings of Washington, Mad- 
ison, Jefferson, Hamilton, Marshall, Story, Bancroft, and others. 

Mr. Arnold had a very complete collection of the proceed- 
ings of Congress and the debates, from the organization of the 
Government down to the present day. In his library also was 
j>erhaps as full a collection of the books and pamphlets in rela- 
tion to slavery, the rebellion, the war, and President Lincoln, as 

* "I number none bat sunny hours." 


existed in any private hands. He had also ten large volumes 
of manuscript letters, written by distinguished military and oivil 
characters during and since the war of the rebellion, including 
many from Lincoln, McClellau, Grant, Farragut, Sherman, Hal- 
leek, Seward, Sumner, Chase, Colfax, and others, of great per- 
sonal and historic interest. 

For the last ten years, Mr. Arnold had been collecting the 
speeches, writings, and letters of Lincoln for publication, and 
had many volumes of manuscripts and letters, the material for a 
strictly biographical work upon Abraham Lincoln, several chap- 
ters of which were ready for publication. These, with many rare 
and curious relics, prints, and engravings, have all perished. 

The pictures were not numerous, but of very decided merit. 
There were landscapes by Kensett, Brown, and Mignot; fam- 
ily portraits by Healy ; the original study of Webster's reply to 
Hayne, now in Faneuil Hall, Boston, in which were forty por- 
traits of distinguished Americans, many of them from life; a 
portrait of Webster, by Chester Harding, etc. 

The failure of Mr. Arnold to save any thing, was the result 
of a most determined effort to save every thing, and his too 
confident belief that he could succeed. Nor did this confidence 
seem to be unreasonable. His house, standing in the center of 
an open block, with a wide street and the Newberry block, with 
only one house, in front, and the Ogden block, with only one 
house, to the right, directly in the pathway of the flames, it is 
not surprising that he believed he could save his house. Be- 
sides, he had connections by hose with hydrants, both in front 
and rear of his house. Mrs. Arnold had placed what proved 
a better estimate upon the danger; and, calling up the family, 
and dressing little Alice, a child of eight years, she left the 
house and went to her daughter's (Mrs. Scudder), leaving Mr. 


A. and the remainder of the family consisting of an older 
daughter, a lad of thirteen, a school-girl of fifteen, and the 
servants to fight the battle with the flames. 

There was a sea of fire to the south and south-west; the 
wind Mew a perfect gale, carrying smoke and sparks, shingles, 
pieces of lumber and roof, directly over the house. Every 
thing was parched and dry as tinder. The leaves from the 
trees and shrubbery covered the ground. Mr. A. turned on 
the water to the fountains, to wet the ground and grass, and 
attached the hose to the hydrants. He stationed the servants 
on each side of the house, and others on the piazzas, and for an 
hour and a half perhaps two hours was able, by the utmost 
vigilance and exertion, to extinguish the flames as often as they 
caught. During all this time the fire was falling in torrents. 
There was literally a rain of fire. It caught in the dry leaves; 
it caught in the grass, in the barn, in the piazzas, and as often 
as it caught it was extinguished before it got any headway. 
When the barn first caught, the horses and the cow were re- 
moved to the lawn. The fight was successfully maintained 
until three o'clock in the morning. Every moment flakes of 
fire,falling upon dry wood, would be kindled by the high wind 
into a rapid blaze, and the next instant they would be extin- 
guished. Every moment the contest grew warmer and more 
desperate, until, by three o'clock, the defenders of the castle 
were becoming seriously exhausted. At the hour mentioned, 
young Arthur Arnold called to his father, "The barn and hay 
are on fire!" "The leaves are on fire on the east side!" said 
the gardener. "The front piazza is in a blaze! "cried another. 
"The front greenhouse is in flames!" "The roof is on fire!" 
"The waffr has stopped!" was the last appalling announcement. 
" Now, for the first time," said Mr. A., " I gave up all hope of 


saving my home, and considered whether we could save any 
of its contents. My pictures, papers, and books could I save 

An effort was made to cut down some portraits a landscape 
of Kensett Otsego Lake, by Mignot it was too late! Seizing 
a bundle of papers, Mr. Arnold gathered the children and serv- 
ants together, and, leading the terrified animals, they went forth 
from their so dearly-cherished home. But whither? They were 
surrounded by fire on three sides; to the south, west, and north 
raged the flames, making a wall of fire and smoke from the 
ground to the sky. Their only escape was eastward to the lake- 
shore. Still leading the horses and cow, they went onward to 
the beach. Here were gathered thousands of fugitives, hemmed 
in and imprisoned by the raging element. The Sands, from 
the Government Pier north to Lill's Pier, a distance of three- 
quarters of a mile, were covered with men, women, and chil- 
dren some half-clad, in every variety of dress, with the mot- 
ley collection of effects which they sought to save. Some had 
silver, some valuable pnpers, some pictures, carpets, beds, etc. 
One little child had her doll tenderly pressed in her arms; an 
old Irish woman was cherishing a grunting pig; a fat woman 
had two large pillows, as portly as herself. There was a singu- 
lar mixture of the awful, the ludicrous, and the pathetic. 

Reaching the water's edge, Mr. A. says he paused to exam- 
ine the situation and determine where was the least danger. 
South-west, toward the river, were millions of feet of lumber, 
many shanties and wooden structures yet unburned, but which 
must be consumed before there could be any abatement of the dan- 
ger. The air was full of cinders and smoke ; the wind blew the 
heated sand worse than any sirocco. Where was a place of refuge? 
W. B. Ogden had lately constructed a long pier north of and 


parallel with the old United States pier, which prolongs the 
left bank of the river out into the lake, and this had been filled 
with stone, but had not been planked over ; hence it would not 
readily bum. It was a hard road to travel, but it seemed the 
safest place, and Mr. Arnold and his children worked their way- 
far out upon this pier. With much difficulty the party crossed 
from the Ogden slip in a small row-boat and entered the 
light-house, where they, with Judge Goodrich, Mr. E. I. Tink- 
ham, and others, were hospitably received. 

The party remained prisoners in the light-house and on the 
pier on which it stood for several hours. The shipping in the 
river above was burning, the immense grain elevators of the 
Illinois Central and North-western Railroads were a mass of 
flames, and the pier itself, some distance up the river, was slowly 
burning toward the light-house. A large propeller, fastened to 
the dock a short distance up the river, took fire and burned. 
The danger was that as soon as the hawsers by which it was 
moored should be burned off, it would float down stream and 
set fire to the dock in the immediate vicinity of the light-house. 
Several propellers moved down near the mouth of the river, and 
took on board several hundred fugitives and steamed out into 
the lake. If the burning propeller should come down it would 
set fire to the pier, the light-house, and vast piles of lumber, 
which had escaped in consequence of being directly on shore 
and detached from the burning mass. A fire company was or- 
ganized of those on the pier, and with water dipped in pails 
from the river, the fire was kept at bay. But all felt relieved 
when the propeller went to the bottom. The party were still 
prisoners on an angle of sand, and the fire running alon^ the 
north shore of the river. The river and the fire prevented an 
escape to the south. West and north the flames were still rag 


ing with unabated fury. The party waited for hours, hoping 
the fire would subside. The day wore on noon passed one, 
two o'clock, and still it seemed impossible to escape to land. 
Mr. Arnold, scouting to the northward, found his gardener right 
where he had left him, sitting upon the horse, fur out in the 
lake, and holding on faithfully to the pony by its halter, and 
to the cow by her horns. The escape to the north was pro- 
nounced impracticable for the ladies. And all the while they 
were in great danger and great anxiety concerning the fate of 
the missing mother and child. 

Between three and four o'clock P. M., the tug " Clifford " 
steamed down the river, having escaped from the burning dis- 
trict, and tied up to the dock near the light-house. Could she 
return, taking the party up the river, through and Beyond the 
fire to the west side? The captain thought he could. The 
bridges at Rush, State, Clark, and Wells Streets had all burned, 
and their fragments had fallen into the river. .The great ware- 
houses, stores, elevators, and docks along the river were still 
burning, but the fury of the fire had exhausted itself. The party 
determined to go through this narrow channel to run the gaunt- 
let of the fire to a point outside of the burnt district. This was 
the most dangerous experience of the day. The tug might take 
fire herself her woodwork had been blistered by the heat as she 
came down. The engine might become unmanageable after she 
got inside the line of fire; or she might get entangled in the 
floating timbers and debris of the fallen bridges. However, 
the party determined to make the attempt. A full head of 
steam was gotten up, the hose was attached to the pumps, so 
that if the boat or the clothes of its passengers took fire they 
could be readily put out. The ladies and children were placed 
in the pilot-house, the windows shut, and the boat started the 


men crouching close to the deck in the shelter of the bulwarks. 
At the State Street bridge the pilot had to pick his way very 
carefully through a mass of debris, and the situation began to 
look exceedingly hazardous. But it was too late to turn back, 
and so the voyagers pushed on, shooting as rapidly as possible 
past th: hottest places, and slowing where the danger was from 
below. As they were passing State Street bridge the pumps 
gave .>ut, and they now ran great risk from fire. Arthur's hat 
blew away, and his father covered his face and head with a 
handkerchief which he had dipped in the water. Finally they 
passed the Wells Street bridge, and were still unscathed. 

"Is not the worst over?" asked Mr. Arnold of the captain. 

" We are through, sir," was the answer. 

" We are safe, thank God ! " came from hearts and lips, as the 
boat emerged from the smoke into the clear, cool air outside the 
fire lines. 

Search for the missing ones was immediately commenced. 
Mr. Arnold spent over twenty-four hours in driving and wan- 
dering in pursuit of his wife now passing among the throng 
of refugees at Lincoln Park and peering into every grimy 
countenance now getting a clue, whether true or false, and 
dashing off by a train into a suburb now baffled entirely and 
compelled to commence the search entirely anew. Some time 
during the following afternoon his efforts were rewarded by 
learning that his wife and child were at the house of Judge 
Drummond, of the U. S. Circuit Court, at a suburb called Win- 
field ; and there, during the evening of Tuesday, the family 
were reunited and joined in thanks to God for their mutual de- 

We have given this sketch of a single family's experience in 


this terrible ordeal, not because it is more thrilling than that 
of thousands of other families, but rather because it is a speci- 
men of the whole, and because Mr. Arnold is well known in 
the West. There were many homes in the North Division 
which, like this one, were noted for their exclusive elegance 
their aristocratic seclusion, one might say and which gave the 
inhabitants of this quarter a just pride in their locality. The 
three residences mentioned in the present chapter the New- 
berry, the Ogden (Wm. B.), and the Arnold places, with the 
famous McCagg place, on North Clark Street, and one or two 
others, occupied territory which alone was worth at least a 
quarter of a million to each place, and this gave the proprietors 
some such prima facie title to aristocracy as landed estates do 
to their owners in England. They indicated at once that the 
occupant must possess a mine of wealth in the form of stores 
over-town, in order to maintain such homesteads in the face of 
constant offers of hundreds of dollars per foot of their street 
front. But they are all gone now, stores and giant elms 
together! Mr. McCagg, who was away in Europe at the time, 
lost, besides his mansion and its contents, which included many 
precious paintings and a library of rare works, one of his 
greenhouses, the finest in the West. Mr. Perry H. Smith, 
the well known railroad manager and capitalist, lost a library 
valued at $50,000, and noted for the superb bindings of its 
volumes, many of which Mr. Smith had but just brought from 



Flood and Same A hopeless sortie A ghostly bivouac Separation of fam- 
ilies Days and nights of suspense and anxiety Nothing to eat 

T I HIE fire raged all day in the North Division, and nightfall 
-- of Monday found the thousands of fugitives in the places 
of refuge which they had first sought the oj>en prairie to the 
north-west of the city, the cemetery and Lincoln Park at the 
north-east, and the beach and piers near the mouth of the river. 
Those in the last-named localities had suffered a great deal dur- 
ing the day from the advancing rigors and dangers of the heat. 
They were pent up in their uncomfortable prison by the wall 
of fire which still presented an impassable barrier. At times 
this approached so close as to drive the shrinking refugees far 
into the water, where they could keep their bodies submerged 
and their heads constantly drenched, as their only protection 
against the scorching air and shower of burning brands. This 
process was sometimes very dangerous, however,. for if the panic 
on shore should become too great, the people farthest out in the 
lake many of them mothers with babes in their arms would 
be forced beyond their depth and drowned. On the piers, and 
on the shore of the basin, which is quite abrupt, this danger 
was very serious, especially at night; and it was reported that 
a number were drowned from this cause. 



On the Sands, too, there were great numbers of animals, which 
Lad fled or been taken from their stables, and which constantly 
threatened to trample down the women and children, and greatly 
increased their terror. 

Nor were the four-footed beasts the only brutes that congre- 
gated on that unhappy beach. There were many of the vilest 
inhabitants of the city swarming there among their vermin- 
haunted bedding, which they had tugged in, with great ado, 
and they were storming the sensibilities of the gentler victims 
by their mingled curses and carousals for they had saved 
astonishing quantities of vile whisky, and many of them had 
become beastly drunk. Others were at the fighting stage, and 
made both night and day hideous with their bowlings, and 
threaten ings, and obscene utterances. 

During the afternoon of Monday, the fire advancing into the 
collection of shanties which approaches the lake along the 
Sands, a sortie was organized by the men, with water in hats 
and all manner of improvised buckets, in the hope that the 
progress of the fiery wave might be stayed. As well attempt 
to beat back, with a puny broom, the breakers which sometimes 
come dashing in from the lake with almost earthquake force! 
The poor shanties were little and worthless enough, God knows; 
but the appetite of the flames was not yet appeased, and it de- 
manded more. Therefore the shanties went into the monster's 
maw, along with all the noble blocks and magnificent homes 
that had gone before; and the men retreated, exhausted, to the 
brink of the lake. 

Hunger had, by this time, added its terrors to those of ex- 
posure, fear of death, and anxiety for missing relatives and 
friends. None of the fugitives had tasted food since early on 
Sunday evening, and the most of them had to fast until some 


time on Tuesday; so that the night of Monday, although less 
turbulent and exciting than that of Sunday, was one of greater 
suffering after all; suffering which the victims, exhausted by 
hunger, blistered with heat, and chilled by water, still in terrible 
suspense about missing ones, and deprived of the unusual stim- 
ulus of the sudden onset of the night before indeed weakened 
by the reaction of that excitement, as well as by the other causes 
mentioned were but poorly able to bear. 

From all these horrors there was no avenue of escape, except 
for the few who were able to reach and board a tug or propeller, 
and find rest and refuge on the capacious bosom of the lake. 
The outlet to the west or north being shut off by fire, and that 
to the south by water, the prisoners had only to stand their 
ground, keep their vitality aglow as best they could, and trust 
to God "to deliver them from the fiery furnace." 

At Lincoln Park and the old cemetery to the south of it, and 
along the Lake-shore Drive, the number of refugees was much 
greater and their sufferings much less. They were not impris- 
oned by the hostile elements; they were not threatened with 
death. They had merely lost all their property even l>eing 
compelled to see the household gods and valuables which they 
had moved into the cemetery or the park burn up before their 
eyes. They had only to lament the probable fate of a missing 
father or brother, or to hope against hope for his safe return. 
As to physical condition, they were simply blinded by smoke, 
weakened by hunger, and choking with thirst at every gland 
and pore that was all. So these Lincoln Park and cemetery 
victims might be pronounced very comfortably off! 

The scene in the cemetery was a very weird one, as may be 
imagined. It is an old burial-ground, from which many of the 
bodies had been removed, leaving some old headstones scattered 


about, and many, with their mounds, still standing among the 
thick undergrowth of grass and small oak trees. By nightfall 
on Monday there could not have been less than thirty thousand 
men, women, and children, huddled within this ghostly inclosure. 
Some had sat here all day, seeing the devilish flame? advance 
from street to street, from mile to mile, and others now rushed 
in breathless, dragging a trunk, or carrying some bundle, piece 
of furniture, or household utensil. Almost all the new-comers 
ran rapidly about, crying for a brother, sister, child, or friend. 
As twilight became dusk, and dusk reddened into the mock 
daylight furnished by the conflagration, the assembled thou- 
sands, tired of searching for friends, disconsolately sought rest- 
ing-places for the night among the grass-grown graves. 

To quote the description of a writer in the World: " The eyes 
of all looked as if they suffered from ophthalmia black and 
red with smoke and cinders till they were almost blind. There 
were piles of every sort of furniture that ever came to the city. 
There were pails, bureaus, chairs, tables, trunks, tubs, clocks, 
great plate mirrors leaning against the trees and flashing back 
the illumination, a few bedsteads in need of reconstruction, 
clothes in little piles, carpets, pictures, rolls of cloth here and 
there, new shoes on strings, and suspicious-looking boxes that 
had been 'saved' from jewelry stores by the wrong man. Here 
is a group of girls wailing in a poor, heart-broken way for their 
mother their sick mother whom they left in a burning bed- 
room. Here is a refined and handsome lady, all alone, with a 
bundle of dresses on her right arm, and a caster laid by her side 
on the ground. Here is a strong, able-bodied man, recogniza- 
ble as a banker, sitting sadly on a grave, with his hat over his 
aching eyes, gazing thoughtfully into a frying-pan which he 
holds in his hand. Every- where are rushing crowds, exclama- 


tions, salutations of woe in every language under heaven, and 
weeping aloud by those who have lost their friends and will not 
be comforted. Here comes a young man who exhibits an ice- 
pitcher, and laughingly declares that it is all he possesses in the 
world. There are no strangers here. There are no ceremonies. 
The cement of a kindred sorrow has done its work. Every body 
speaks freely to any body, and even the churl finds his human 
side and turns it genially toward us. 

"Meantime the roaring ocean of flame nears us. It bom- 
bards even this sacred necropolis with its hellish missiles. 
Every-where among the dead leaves fall the blazing embers. 
The torches alight head first upon the hollow graves. Groups 
dodge and run, and here and there a fire is kindled by the 
brands, and there is a struggle to stamp it out. The fire howls 
up to heaven, and bends and bows over the cemetery like an 
iris of doom. The park is lighted up as by a million fire-bal- 
loons, sailing over in endless succession. Now the dead-house 
is afire, and a shudder of horror runs through the multitude. 
It defies the extinguishers. It burns until it is consumed. But 
it was, happily, tenantless. At the head of the graves stands 
usually a cheap pine head-board, and these in many instances 
are burned up, and in a few cases the fire burrows down into 
the peaceful tenement beneath, for the drought has been so se- 
vere that the very soil is combustible. At last the raging sea 
sweeps by to the northward, following the line of houses, and 
the most reckless or courageous of these elfin junketers lie down 
upon the graves to sleep the queerest camp that ever gathered 
under heaven. At two o'clock came the blessed rain, and the 
multitude shivered with chill while they welcomed it. It was a 
dreadful night in the cemetery. A muffled moan of discomfort 
went through it from night to morning, and hundreds doubtless 


contracted fatal diseases in the exposure. It was a night not to 
forget in this world or the next a night in which the demon 
of fire invaded the realm of the quiet angel of death." 

The scene on the prairie to the westward of the city, whither 
t\e fugitives had been thronging all through Sunday night and 
Monday, was much the same, minus some of the weird features. 
There was the same contrast of classes Mr. McCormick, the 
millionaire of the reaper trade, and other north-side nabobs, 
herding promiscuously with the humblest laborer, the lowest 
vagabond, and the meanest harlot. There was the same com- 
munity of suffering, which brought them all to the level of 
weak mortals, humbled before a power whose superiority, how- 
ever they might have ignored it heretofore, they must now ac- 
knowledge. There was the same terrible suspense about absent 
ones, whose fate, through many, many hours, was unknown to 
those who held them most dear. 

This general separation of families may at first seem extra- 
ordinary; but it will be recollected that the onset of the fire 
was very rapid, and that it soon had the city divided in twain 
by an impassable stream or wave of flame ; that, in the attempt 
to save property, which the instincts of all prompted, the weaker 
ones would be consigned to some place of supposed safety, while 
the stronger went back to wrestle with the rapacious monster 
for some of the precious possessions on which he had fixed his 
levy ; and that in this attempt so rapidly did the foe advance 
separation was almost inevitable. It is also to be noted that 
the flight, on this occasion, was in all directions the thorough- 
fares being glutted not only with the stream of north-side fu- 
gitives, but with the vast throng which, until the bridges were 
burned, came pouring over from the south side, and also with 
the thousands who rushed in from the west, either as idle spec- 


tutors or to help in the rescue of friends whom they hoped to 
reach. Under these circumstances, it is not to be wondered at 
that hundreds perished in the flames; that almost every family 
became separated, and that each straying member was racked 
with the tortures of a terrible anxiety concerning the fate of 
the missing ones. 

Thus passed the long and weary hours of Monday night over 

a hundred thousand houseless heads. 




Fatalities of the fire How brave men met their death A fatal leap A 
neighborhood swallowed up by flames Scene at the Morgue. 

PTHHE loss of life in this conflagration was less than would 
-*- have been predicted in view of the extent and rapidity of 
the burning. The exact number will never be ascertained. 
The destruction* was in many districts so complete that no ves- 
tige of a human body or skeleton would be discernible among 
the debris of consumed buildings; and in other cases the exca- 
vation and rebuilding went on in such a hurry that no report 
would be made, if indeed notice was taken by the workmen, of 
bones found. Perhaps twenty or thirty persons were known to 
have perished, and were reported in the first issue of the news- 
papers. The coroner found, during the fortnight following the 


fire, the remains of one hundred and seven persons, only a very 
few of which were identified. 

The fire in the West Division resulted, so far as is known, 
in the death of but two persons, Jacob Wolf, an old man, who 
was overtaken in his house on Harrison Street, near Jefferson, 
and Mary Dealm, who perished on Jackson Street, near Clin- 
ton. In the south section of the city it was reported that a 
group of six men, stationed on the roof of a Madison Street 

store to fight fire, were carried down with the building and 


^wallowed up by the flames; also that five men in a cart, passing 
by one of the tall dry goods stores, were killed by fulling walls; 
but we can find no confirmation of these statements in the coro- 
ner's records. Several deaths in this quarter of the city are, how- 
ever, well authenticated. One of the victims was John McDevitt, 
tho noted billiard champion, who was wandering about, intoxi- 
cated, in the neighborhood of the post-office, and who perished, 
a victim to his dissolute habits. Samuel Shawcross, a mer- 
chant tailor who did business on Washington Street, and who 
kept a bachelor's room, was wakened only when surrounded 
by flames. He rushed, half dressed, toward his shop, and 
while passing through the alley by Field & Leiter's immense 
store, was crushed by the falling walls' of that building. An- 
other victim was Henry J. Ullmann, a banker, who rushed 
into his office to save a large quantity of coin and currency, 
and who never came out alive ; though some of his friends feel 
sure that he did escape and was struck down upon the street 
by a ruffian, who escaped with his booty. There were four 
other dead bodies recognized in the South Division of the city 
two of them of notorious cracksmen who were trying to rifle 
a store on South Water Street. Another was that of H. P. 
Dewey, an insurance agent, who perished in an attempt to es- 
cape from a fourth story window, at No. 125 Dearborn Street. 
The scene was witnessed by hundreds of people, including one 
of the editors of the Tribune* who thus describes it : 

"While Madison Street, west of Dearborn, and the west side 
of Dearbom were all ablaze, the spectators saw a lurid light 
appear in the rear windows of Speed's Block. Presently a man, 
had apparently taken time to dress himself leisurely, ap- 

* Mr. Sydney Howard Gay. 


peared on the extension built up to the second story of two of 
the stores. He coolly looked down the thirty feet between him 
and the ground, while the excited crowd first cried jump! and 
then some of them more considerately looked for a ladder. A 
long plank was presently found, and answered the same as a 
ladder, and was placed at once against the building, down which 
the man soon after slid. But while those preparations were 
going on there suddenly appeared another man at a fourth 
story window of the building below, which had no projection, 
but was flush from the top to the ground four stories and a 
basement. His escape by the stairway was evidently cut off, 
and he looked despairingly down the fifty feet between him and 
the ground. The crowd grew almost frantic at the sight, for 
it was only a choice of death before him by fire or by being 
crushed to death by the fall. Senseless cries of jump! jump! 
went up from the crowd senseless but full of sympathy, for 
the sight was absolutely agonizing. Then for a minute or two 
he disappeared; perhaps even less, but it seemed so long a time 
that the supposition was that he had fallen, suffocated with the 
smoke and heat. But no; he appears again. First he throws 
out a bed ; then some bed-clothes, apparently ; why, probably 
even he does not know. Again he looks down the dead, sheer 
wall of fifty feet below him. He hesitates, and well he may, 
as he turns again and looks behind him. Then he mounts to 
the window-sill. His whole form appears, naked to the shirt, 
and his white limbs gleam against the dark wall in the bright 
light as he swings himself below the window. Somehow how 
none can tell he drops and catches upon the top of the windows 
bdow him, of the third story. He stoops and drops again, and 
seizes the frame with his hands, and his gleaming body once 
more straightens and hangs prone downward, and then drops in- A 


stantly and accurately upon the window-sill of the third story. 
A shout more of joy than applause goes up from the breathless 
crowd, and those who had turned away their heads, not bearing 
to look upon him as he seemed about to drop to sudden and 
certain death, glanced up at him once more, with a ray of 
hope, at this daring and skillful feat. Into this window he 
crept to look, probably, for a stairway, but appeared again pres- 
ently, for here only was the only avenue of escape, desperate 
and hopeless as it was. Once more he dropped, his body hang- 
ing by his hands. The crowed screamed, and waved to him to 
swing himself over the projection from which the other man 
had just been rescued. He tried to do this, and vibrated like 
a pendulum from side to side, but could not reach far enough 
to throw himself upon its roof. Then he hung by one hand 
and looked down ; raising the other hand he took a fresh hold 
and swung from side to side once more to reach the roof. In 
vain ; again he hung motionless by one hand, and slowly turned 
his head over his shoulder and gazed into the abyss below him. 
Then, gathering himself up, he let go his hold, and for a second 
a gleam of white shot down full forty feet to the foundation of 
the basement. Of course it killed him. He was taken to a 
drug store close by, and died in ten minutes." 

It was in the North Division, however, that the fatalities 
were the most numerous and shocking. There, -especially in 
the quarter adjoining the river and north of Chicago Avenue, 
which was thickly covered with the cottages of the poor, the 
flames ran along as fast as a man coidd walk, and, what was 
worse, was constantly leaping to new points, both due forward 
and laterally, and propagating itself faster than its victims 
could possibly flee before it, even if they had not attempted to 
save any of their goods. It was in this way that the monster 


devoured hundreds with his fiery breath. Between Townsend 
Street and Wesson, and within three blocks of Chicago Avenue, 
on an area of not more than forty acres, there were found the 
bodies of forty-five poor creatures, none of which were recog- 
nizable, but which were undoubtedly the German and Scandi- 
navian people inhabiting that quarter. The rapidity of the 
flames alone, however, would not have caused the destruction 
of so many lives, but for the combination of other circum- 
stances which worked fatally. There was a general hegira 
across all the bridges leading to the west side. Chicago Av- 
enue was the best of the thoroughfares tending in this direction. 
Through this the people poured like the mountain torrent 
through its too narrow gorge. All at once, when the fiercest 
blasts of the monster furnace had begun to sweep through this 
section with heat which threatened death to thousands, it was 
discovered that the bridge was for the time impassable. The 
people were rushing, tumbling, crowding, storming toward it 
in terribly irresistible numbers. Those who were nearest the 
burning bridge could not turn back because of the pressure of 
the frantic multitude. They attempted to make a stand, by 
passing along the word to beat back the on-surging mass of 
men, and women, and horses, and wagons. But the task was 
simply impossible, as at the rearmost of the crowd were now 
fairly lashed by the flames and could not stop. Whether the 
foremost hundreds would or not, they were forced to turn to 
the northward and attempt to escape through the burning 
streets to North Avenue, half a mile further north, where 
was another bridge. Into the vortex of flame they plunge 
may Heaven send them guidance through it! Out from that 
vortex of flame some two-score of them never emerge. May 
Heaven send sweet mercy to their souls ! Alas ! They knew 


not that those street*?, or lanes, had no outlet for some three 
hundred yards or more. 

This exceptional case of great mortality, caused by people 
being pent up in "no thoroughfares," serves to illustrate how 
lives were saved in other cases by the fact that nearly every 
street in Chicago is a thoroughfare; that they are straight and 
level; and that bridges occur at frequent intervals. Had it 
been otherwise and the fire stretched, as it did, over three miles, 
as the streets run, in barely six hours, the poor citizens would 
have been mown down by thousands. 

One noble fellow, Johnny Beart, perished at Lill's Brewery 
while attempting to rescue the horses which he had been wont 
to drive. Mrs. In ness, a Scotch lady, mother of two Lake 
Street merchants, who, and a sister, made up the family, was 
killed by a falling wall, at Indiana and Erie Streets, after 
becoming separated from her family and lost in the smoke. 
One Andrew Monahan, an old constable, died on North Mar- 
ket Street, from suffocation. Other poor wretches, who had 
evidently been sick or intoxicated, died on the very door-step, 
or the sidewalk, while trying to crawl into the open air. 
Others, who found themselves stifled with the hot breath of 
the flames, insanely sought refuge in confined places. One 
guch was found dead in a water pipe lying on the ground 
near the water-works. In one house on Bremer Street, eight 
bodies were found; evidently a whole family had died to- 
gether. Something remarkable was the devotion to property 
of ten blacksmiths who assembed at the shop at which they 
worked, on Chicago Avenue, broke in the door, rushed in 
for their tools, and were all crushed by falling walls. Others 
died but not many, as was at first reported and widely be- 
lievedon the prairie to the westward, from the effects of the 


exposure which they had undergone in the fire. Maria Bur- 
gess, a woman of the town, died two days afterward from ex- 
posure. Indeed, the cases of death resulting from exposure, as 
well as those of death produced indirectly by the fire, like that 
of W. E. Longworth, a carpenter, who committed suicide on, 
account of the ruin of his property, are numerous, but are not 
capable of being collated. 

The total number of deaths caused by the fire is estimated 
by Coroner Stephens and Dr. Ben. C. Miller, county physician, 
at near three hundred. This does not include still-born chil- 
dren. The amount of illness, and the seeds of disease, perma- 
nent or temporary, traceable to the fire and the exposure, ex- 
citement, etc., incident to it, can not, of course, be computed; 
but it is worthy of remark that some half dozen cases of insan- 
ity, growing out of the dreadful event, have come under the 
notice of the county physician. 

The dead bodies were gathered up as soon as possible by the 
coroner and given interment at the county burying-ground. 
That officer brought in, on the second day after the fire, some 
seventy bodies, or fragments of bodies, which were placed in 
an extemporized morgue and exposed to the view of such of the 
public as chose to see the horrid sight. Over three thousand 
persons availed themselves of the privilege, on that day, all in 
the hope, or rather the dread, of being able to recognize the 
remains of some missing friend. The sight of the charred and 
shapeless fragments was as loathsome as that of the anxious, 
wretched throng was heart-rending. A few, and only a few, 
of the fragments were recognized; and so the mourners of miss- 
ing ones went back to their places of temporary shelter, to hope 
against hope, and to continue the search for that which, all the 
while, they dreaded most bitterly to find. 



The day after the fire A glimpse at the feeling in the country A view 
at daybreak Chicago'8 ghost. 

MONDAY was not a day of blank dismay only. There 
was a prompt manifestation of vitality in the city gov- 
ernment, which showed itself in several practical ways. First, 
the Mayor telegraphed to neighboring cities for aid; for fire- 
engines to help stay the ravages of the fire, and for bread to 
feed the many thousand hungry and destitute. He also got 
together a council of the city officers, consisting of hieelf, the 
Comptroller, and the President of the Police Commissioners, 
who jointly signed a proclamation for the purpose of restoring 
confidence, and organizing measures for relief and protection. 
The head-quarters of the city government were fixed at a 
church, nearly two miles to the west of the ruined City Hall, 
and the authorities immediately commenced to act as the emer- 
gency required. 

Business men were acting, too, on their own individual re- 
sponsibility. Some of them had engaged new quarters before 
the roofs of their old establishments had fallen in. It will not 
do tc say that many of them ordered goods by telegraph on thsit 
day, for, in the first place, the telegraph wires and machinery 
mostly went with the rest so that people were besieging the 



out-of-town offices all day in vain to transmit news of their 
own safety to distant friends; and, in the next place, the dire- 
ful consequences of the conflagration upon the business credit 
of the city were at first overestimated, at home as well as at the 
East. Hence the most that could be done in the way of busi- 
ness on that day was for some heads of houses to dash into the 
surviving district the west side or the extreme south and en- 
gage, at a smart bonus, such quarters as they could find for the 
continuation of their business. 

It was impossible to make visits to the ruins on Monday, on 
account of the great heat and the still tumbling walls. All 
travel between the east and west sides of the river was done 
through Twelfth Street, which thus became gorged with vehi- 
cles and pedestrians. All railroad trains on the south side 
stopped at Twenty-second Street, two miles south of their usual 
terminus. There was no gathering together of the people on 
this day, for there was nowhere to gather. Even the loafing 
power of the city was staggered for the time. There was no 
running f the street-railroad cars, or other of the signs of life 
which usually are visible, even on Sabbaths and holidays. In 
short, the day seemed a dies non a day burnt out of the his- 
tory of the city. 

This was the aspect of the case in the South Division of the 
city. That in the north, where the flames were still raging 
with fury, has already been described. At night, all who had 
beds to lie in or roofs to shelter them, lay down and slept 
heavily, as was necessary to recuperate them from the exhaust- 
ing experiences of the past twenty hours, and to prepare them 
for the duties of the morrow the raising of the new Chicago 
out of the chaos in which all was now en wrapped. 

A citizen of Chicago, who was so unfortunate as to miss see- 


ing the terribly grand spectacle of the fire, thus describes for 
us his impressions on reentering the city on Tuesday morning, 
after the fatal Monday : 

" I was spending a few days at Burlington, Wisconsin, to re- 
cruit my health. This occupation was of course superseded by 
the news of Monday morning; for with Chicago burned, no 
Chicago man could afford to be on the sick list any longer. 
The village mentioned is off on a cross-road, having very poor 
connections with Chicago; yet it did not take fifteen minutes to 
inflame the people with the most intense excitement over the 
great disaster. The panic set in about eleven o'clock in the 
forenoon, and during the rest of the day the post-office and es- 
pecially the telegraph office were thronged with persons eager 
to communicate with relatives in the city, and utterly unable (o 
do so. I could not get a train to Chicago that day, so I went 
to Milwaukee, where communication with the center of interest 
would be easier. At Racine, boarding the train from Chicago, 
I found it doubled in length, and filled with refugees from the 
doomed city at least a thousand of them plunged in all de- 
grees of despondency, and manifesting all degrees of hardship 
and privation. From some of these I learned particulars of 
the conflagration. At Milwaukee we were met at the depot by 
what seemed to be the entire population of the town come to 
hear the latest news, or tender their hospitality to any irieuils 
who might be on board the train. They told me there had IKTU 
no business transacted in the city since the news of the fire oame 
in the forenoon. Every body was carrying water to his house- 
top, and watching for the extras which the newspaper offices 
were issuing nervously every half-hour. 

" Taking a night train, I reached Chicago at daybreak. 
Drawing aside the curtain of my berth in the sleeping-car, I 


gazed upon the scene as we passed along by the remains of the 
North Division. I will confess it, I was at that moment in a 
mood for sight-seeing. But it was soon subdued, I assure you, 
by the scenes upon which I gazed. For half a mile along the 
North Branch, there was little visible but the flames and smoke 
of objects still burning. The way in which the devouring ele- 
ment was left to revel at will in factories, warehouses, and stores 
of fuel, even along the river's bank, told but too plainly how 
complete had been its victory over every capability of resistance. 
There had been copious showers during the night, and the gale 
had died away; yet the fire seemed superior to all these, as well 
as all human obstacles, and continued its work unconcerned. 
But it burned languidly, and tossed off racks and sprays of 
flame in a wanton way, as if the monster had glutted himself 
on human blood and human handiwork, and was now dawdling 
with the relics of his feast, like a sated and stupefied glutton. 
And the ribs of the burning buildings showed against the red 
flame like the naked bones of the monster's victims. 

"Alighting from the car, I took my way, in the gray dawn, 
through the damp and deserted streets. The rain was over, but 
the leaden clouds added a gloom to the already gloomy scene. 
To relieve this gloom there was, if I chose to accept it, the 
bright glow of a mile of burning coal a mountain-range of 
flame along the river containing fuel enough to have made 
cheerful ten thousand households through all the long, cold 
winter. Alas! the waste and the want! It seemed to me at 
that moment as if I should never enjoy again the ruddy glow 
of an evening fire. I passed down Canal Street a forlorn sort 
of thoroughfare, at best a relic of the old Chicago, upon which 
we had all come to look with contempt. To the left was the 
worthless wreck of the new Chicago of all which had begotten 


ihis pride, and this contempt for the ' day of small things/ Its 
black, bleak desolation, its skeleton streets, its sha'peless masses 
of brick and mortar, its gaunt and jagged spires, only remnants 
of walls but yesterday so proud and stately, stared at me from 
every point. 

" The turbid river was encumbered with masses of charred 
wood, with black hulks of vessels, and skeletons of fallen 
bridges. One or two propellers were hugging the hither shore, 
like white doves frightened from their nests, and shrinking to- 
ward what semblance of cover offered itself, if, perchance, it 
might shelter them from the fell pursuer. 

" The hour was early, and so exhausted exhausted or par- 
alyzed had the people apparently become by their excitement 
and suffering, that the streets were almost utterly deserted. I 
was thus left alone with these pitiful ruins; and the intensity 
of the emotion which they excited was doubtless greatly en- 
hanced by the circumstance. There had been a few men at a 
saloon on the way, evidently firemen and watchmen, who had 
availed themselves of the approach of daylight to refresh them- 
selves with a dismal sort of qarouse; but I had left these be- 
hind, and was alone with the ruins. 


" It stared at me till I was fain to hide it from my eyes, and 
to rush on more rapidly. My bosom was heaving with an un- 
wonted emotion ; my eyea were filling, and my throat begin- 
ning to tingle with a feeling to which I have been of late years 
a stranger. 

" Coming upon Adams Street, where the ruins of an iron via- ' 
duct were still standing, I resolved to look the situation in the 
face. The structure, though tottering, bore my weight, and I 

pushed on to its further end. The ruins of the river bridge lay 


in the stream beneath me. The town, or what had been the town, 
lay prostrate -beyond. It was with the greatest difficulty that 
I could trace any semblance by which the various landmarks 
of Chicago could be identified. But for the still erect walls of 
the Court-house, Post-office, and Tribune building, this "would 
have been utterly impossible. The Chamber of Commerce, the 
Sherman House, the elegant stores of State Street, the Palmer 
House, the Opera-house, the new palaces of marble to the south 
of the Post-office all were leveled in the dust, or shattered into 
unrecognizable fragments. The grand Pacific Hotel, which I 
had been accustomed to gaze on with pride each morning from 
this precise point of view, was a jagged and crumbling ruin 
beautiful still, but a hopeless ruin nothing more. My idols 
and I now realized to what an unwise extent I had made 
them my idols were now shattered and scattered at my feet. 
My interests were in some, but I had loved them all, and now 
I mourned them all equally. 

" The scene of Sunday night must have been terrible, but it 
could not, with all its horrors, have been so affecting to the 
tender emotions as this. Then there were flames roaring and 
devouring, men cursing and striving, noble hearts risking them- 
selves to save others, brutes of men plundering and extorting, 
women and children fleeing and screaming, and every thing to 
excite the mind and stimulate the nerves. Here every thing 
tended to subdue and overcome one. Here I saw not a few 
bodies threatened with sudden destruction; I saw the coined 
product of the mind, the muscle, the flesh and bones, the hopes 
and ambitions of a hundred thousand fellow-beings, expended 
through twenty years, all swept into oblivion. There was more 
life represented in those miles of streets, now prostrated, than 
in all that surging, shrieking throng of Sunday night; and here 


it \vas all all confronting me, like a fleshlcss, lifeless ghost, 
and holding up to me, in token of distress to me alone its 
spectral hands; for such seemed the gaunt obelisks which the 
demon had left as monuments of his rage, along with the yel- 
low and raephitic flames which flickered from the coal-heaps 
among the ruins, as if they were traces of the sulphurous domain 
from which the destroyer had come. 

"The mute appeal, the solitude, the hour, all together so 
3vercame my feelings, that I leaned against a column of the 
bridge, and gave way to tears wept as I had not supposed I 
could do, by whatsoever moved. 

"From this condition of feeling I was aroused by the ap- 
proach of a young man, who, though of rather fine mien in 
most respects, bore that unkempt, unshaven, unwashed appear- 
ance which I afterward found to characterize the whole popula- 
tion of the city for the week following the fire. He came with a 
small flask to procure water from the river. He was a stranger 
to me, but somehow he seemed like a brother, so close did the 
great ordeal bring men together. We talked considerably of 
the details of the conflagration. I remarked upon the fearful 
danger to the remainder of the city, resulting from a total fail- 
ure of the water supply/ 

" ' Oh/ he said, cheerfully, ' we '11 have water again in a few 
days. We'll be all right again soon.' 

" ' Yes,' I echoed, though mechanically, ' we '11 be all right 
again soon.' 

" And the sun shone out at that moment from a rift in the 
clouds, at the point where the cloudy arch dipped into Lake 
Michigan, diffusing a rosy light and warmth, as if in confirma- 
tion of our cheerful prophesyings. His brightness seemed to 
foreshadow the future glory of Chicago quite as plainly as the 


paling lamps behind us had suggested the faded luster of her 
past. And with this my Chicago buoyancy came back, and I 
regained such a flow of spirits that it was not for any mere 
purpose of keeping my courage up that I whistled all the way 
past a huge stack of coffins, which some enterprising under- 
taker had saved from the ruins in a capacious wain and left to 
embellish the street which led to my home." 



Property destroyed Can land burn up? Values of business blocks, hotels, 
and other prominent buildings Produce and merchandise destroyed 
Real estate as affected by the fire Uninsurable losses Commerce and 
manufactures The effect on business The grand total. 

A MID such a general wreck, th'e attempt to gather correct 
-^*- statistics of the losses entailed by the great conflagration, 
may well seem a hopeless one. So many records were de- 
stroyed ; so many people driven from the city, who could alone 
give accurate information on some essential point; such a uni- 
versal scattering and destruction among those who remained, 
that it is practically impossible to cover every item in the im-* 
mense aggregate of loss. 

We essay the task with diffidence, notwithstanding the fact 
that we have taken all possible pains in the investigation of 
losses. The following statements are probably very near the 
truth in the aggregate made up of details obtained by per- 
sonal inquiry from many hundreds of the parties most inter- 
ested in the sad exhibit. 

The limiting lines of the area swept by the flames have been 
already indicated, and the position of the burnt district will be 
easily understood by a glance at the accompanying map. 

In the West Division about 194 acres were burned over, 



including 16 acres swept by the fire of the previous evening. 
This district contained several lumber-yards and planing-mills, 
the Union Depot of the St. Louis and Pittsburg & Fort AVayne 
Railroads, with a few minor hotels and factories, several board- 
ing-houses, and a host of saloons. The buildings burned about 
500 in number were nearly all frame structures, and not of 
much value, but were closely packed together. About 2250 
persons were rendered homeless in this division. 

In the South Division the burned area comprised about 460 
acres. The southern boundary line was a diagonal, running, 
from the corner of Michigan Avenue and Congress Street, 
west-south-west to the intersection of Fifth Avenue (Wells) and 
Polk Street. On the other three sides the bounding lines were 
the lake and the river only one block (the Lind) being left in 
all that area. This district contained the great majority of the 
most expensive structures in the city, all the wholesale stores, 
all the newspaper offices, all the principal banks, and insurance 
and law offices, many coal-yards, nearly all the hotels, and many 
factories, the Court-house, Custom-house, Chamber of Commerce, 
etc. as stated more at length in our chapter descriptive of Chi- 
cago in 1871. The number of buildings destroyed in this division 
was about 3650, which included 1600 stores, 28 hotels, and 60 
manufacturing establishments. About 21,800 persons were ren- 
dered homeless, very many of whom were residents in the upper 
stories of the palatial structures devoted, below, to commerce. 
There were, however, many poer families, and a great many hu- 
man rats, resident in the western part of this territory. 

In the North Division the devastation was the most wide- 
spread, fully 1450 acres being burned over, out of the 2533 
acres in that division. And even this statement fails to convey 
an idea of the wholesale destruction wrought there, because the 


territory unburned was unoccupied. Had there been any ex- 
cept widely-scattered structures in the unburned portion, they, 
too, would have been destroyed, as the fire licked up all in its 
path, and paused only when there was no more food whereon 
to whet its insatiable appetite. Of the 13,800 buildings in that 
division, not more than 500 were left standing, leaving 13,300 
in ruins, and rendering 74,450 persons homeless. The build- 
ings burned included more than 600 stores and 100 manufac- 
turing establishments, the latter being principally grouped in 
the south-western part of this division. That part next the 
lake, as far north as Whiting Street, was occupied by first-class 
residences, of which only one was lelt standing that of Mahlon 
D. Ogden. On Chicago Avenue was the Water- works, and this 
was the initial point of a line of breweries that stretched out 
almost to the cemetery. The river banks were piled high with 
lumber and coal, which was all destroyed, except a portion near 
the bend of the river, at Kinzie Street. The space between 
the burned district and the river, to the westward, contained 
but little improved property. Lincoln Park lay to the north- 
ward, on the lake-shore. The fire burned up the southern part 
of this park the old City Cemetery but left the improved 
part untouched, except a portion of the fencing. One of the 
saddest among the many sad scenes that met the eye after the 
conflagration had done its work, was that in the old cemetery 
the flames had even made havoc among the dead, burning 
down the wooden monuments, and shattering stone vaults to 
fragments, leaving exposed many scores of the remnants of mor- 
tality that had smoldered for years in oblivion. 

The total area burned over in the city, including streets, was 
2100 acres, or very nearly 3 square miles. The number of 
buildings destroyed was 17,450; of persons rendered homeless, 


98,500. Of the latter, more than 250 paid the last debt of na- 
ture amid the carnage fell victims to the Moloch of our mod- 
ern civilization. 

To give, a statement of individual losses would be to publish 
a directory, which no one would read. Instead of this we pro- 
pose to give a synopsis of the principal losses, in buildings, 
produce, merchandise, other personal property, on churches and 
schools, public improvements, etc., with the effects of the ca- 
tastrophe on the pecuniary values of the property untouched 
by the fire. Before tabulating, -we may premise that the de- 
preciation in the price of the real estate in the city is estimated 
by the most careful judges to average fully thirty per cent. 
Several sales in the burned district in the South Division were 
made immediately after the fire, at a reduction of about eighteen 
per cent, from previous prices. Since then a reaction has set in, 
and real estate in that district has sold at nearly previous 
prices. Property situated directly south and west of that area 
has slightly increased in selling value, owing to the enhanced 
demand for business purposes. But in the North Division, 
and in the boulevard regions of the "West Division, prices have 
fallen not less than fifty per cent., and not far from thirty per 
cent, on the south side, in the suburban districts. 

The following are approximate estimates of the values of 
seventy-nine principal business blocks, exclusive of their con- 
tents. In the preparation of this table we have received 
valuable assistance from C. N. Holden, Esq., City Tax Com- 
missioner, and Assessor W. B. H. Gray. Of course the value 
of the land is not included : 

Arcade, Clark, near Madison, ...... $75,000 

Berlin, Monroe and State, . . ... 15,000 

Boone's, Lasalle, near Washington, . . . . . 15,000 



Bowen's, etc., Randolph, near Michigan Avenue, 

Bryan, Lasalle and Monroe, ..... 

Burch's, Lake, near Wabash, 

Calhoan, Clark, near Madison, . . . . . 
Chicago Mutual Life Ins., Fifth Avenue, near Washington, 
Cobb's, Lake and Michigan, . . . . 

Commercial, Lasalle and Lake ..... 
Commercial Ins. Co., Washington, near Lasalle, 
Crosby's, State, near Washington, .... 

De Haven, Dearborn, near Quincy, .... 

Depository, Randolph, near Lasalle, .... 

Dickey's, Dearborn and Lake, 

Dole's, South Water and Clark, . . . ^ . 
Drake & Farwell, Wabash and Washington, 
Ewing, Clark, near Kinzie, ..... 

Exchange Bank, Lake and Clark, .... 

Fullerton, Washington and Dearborn, .... 
Garrett, Randolph and State, ..... 

Honore, Dearborn, near Monroe (2), .... 

Keep's, Clark, near Madison, 

Kent's, Monroe, near Lasalle, 

King's, Washington and Dearborn, .... 

Larmon, Clark and Washington, .... 

Lincoln, Lake and Franklin, ..... 

Link's, Ljike and Lasalle, 

Lloyd's, Randolph and Wells, 

Lombard, Monroe and Custom-house Place, . 
Loomis, Clark and South Water, ..... 
McCormick's, Lake and Michigan Avenue, . . 

McCormick's, Randolph and Dearborn, 
McCormick's Reaper Factory, near Rush Street bridge, 
Magie's, Lasalle and Randolph, . 
Major's, Madison and Lasalle, ..... 
Marine Bank, Lake and Lasalle, .... 

Masonic, Dearborn, near Washington, .... 
Mechanic's, Washington, near Lasalle, 







































Mercantile, Lasalle, near Washington, 
Merchants' Ins. Co., Washington and Lasalle, 
Monroe, Clark and Monroe, .. . , 

Morrison, Clark, near Monroe, . .... . ,.,; 

Morrison, Clark, near Washington, ,,,.-. .s. 
Newberry, Wells and Kinzie, . . ," 
Norton, South Water, near Fifth Avenue, 
Newhouse, South Water, near Fifth Avenue, 
Oriental, Lasalle, near Washington, 
Otis, Madison and Lasalle, .... 

Palmer's, State and Washington, . . 

Phoenix, Lasalle, near Randolph, . 

Pomeroy's, South Water, near Lasalle, . 

Pope's, Madison, near Clark (2), . . . 
Portland, Dearborn and Washington, . <.. 
Purple's, Clark and Ontario, . ,- . . 
Raymond's, State and Madison, 
Republic Life Ins., Lasalle and Arcade Court, 
Reynolds', Dearborn and Madison, 
Rice's, Dearborn, near Randolph, . 
Scammon, Randolph and Michigan Avenue, 
Shepard's, Dearborn, near Monroe, . 
Smith & Nixon's, Washington and Clark, . 
Speed's, Dearborn, near Madison, . . . 
Steele's, Lasalle and South Water, ., . 
Stone's, Madison, near Lasalle, 
Turner's, State and Kinzie, ... 
Tyler's, Lasalle, near South Water, 
Uhlich's, Clark, near Kinzie, . . 
Union, Lasalle and Washington, . . 

Volk's, Washington, near Franklin, 
Walker's, Dearborn, near Couch Place, 
Wicker's, State and South Water, . " . 
Wright's, State and Kinzie, , . . 

Lill's Brewery, 

Sand's Ale Brewing Co's. Establishment, 






































Illinois State Savings, $75,0000 

First National Bank, 160,0000 

City National Bank, 50,000 

Total of 79 blocks, without contents, .... $8,015,000 

Public Buildings, etc. Custom-house and Post-office, $650,- 
000 (money in do., $2,130,000); Court-house, $1,100,000- 
Chamber of Commerce (2), $284,000; Armory, $25,000; 
Huron Street Police Station, $14,000; Larrabee Street Police 
Station, $22,000; Gas-works, $50,000; Water-works (parti- 
ally), $200,000; Long John Engine-house, $14,000; J. B. 
Rice do., $7,000; A. C. Coventry do., $7,000; A. D. Tits- 
worth do., $8,000; Fred. Gund do., $14,000; Hook and 
Ladder buildings, $10,800; machinery of Fire Department, 
$26,550; battery of artillery, $10,000; 800 muskets, $10,- 
400; eight bridges, $200,000; lamp-posts, $20,000; damage 
to river tunnels, $6,000; telegraphic apparatus, including 50 
miles of wire, and 60 alarm-boxes,' $50,000. The lineal feet 
of sidewalk burned was 486,029 in the North Division ; 132,- 
662 in the South, and 24,130 in the West ; total, 642,841 feet, 
or 121| miles. The half of this would give 60j as the number 
of miles of street-line burned over; but the street crossings 
make fully one-sixth of the whole; allowing for this we have 
73 miles of streets in the area of the conflagration. This in- 
cluded not far from one-half of all the wooden-block pavement 
in the city, much of which was partially ruined. The destruc- 
tion of streets foots up $500,000, and of sidewalks $940,000, 
involving a loss of about $1,440,000. Total loss on public 
buildings, bridges, and streets, $6,298,750. 

Central Railroad depots and dockage, $775,000; Rock 
Island & Lake-Shore Depot, $450,000; Galena depots, $525,- 
000; West Side Union Depot (damaged), $10,000. Total on 


railroad buildings, and rolling stock, without contents, $1,- 

Newspapers, buildings and newspaper stock Tribune, $325,- 
000; Times, $100,000; Journal, $100,000; Republican (stctck 
$61,000), $186,000; Staats Zeitung, and Post, $160,000; Mail 
and Union (stock alone), $12,000; Volks-Zetiung (stock), $5,000. 
Totd, nine dailies, $888,000. 

Hotels Palmer, $250,000; Sherman, $360,000; Tremont, 
$360,000; Briggs, $200,000; Bigelow, $300,000; Metropoli- 
tan, $100,000; Adams, $125,000; Massasoit, $75,000; Matteson, 
$75,000; City, $60,000; St. James, $120,000; Revere, $150,- 
000; Nevada, $80,000; Hatch, $60,000; Anderson's, $40,000; 
Burke's, $60,000 ; Central, $40,000 ; Clifton, $150,000; Eagle, 
$10,000; European (Rollback's), $40,000; Everett, $30,000; 
Garden City, $50,000; Girard, $10,000; Hess, $20,000; Hotel 
Garni, $50,000; Howard, $10,000; Hutchinson's, $20,000; 
New York, $25,000; Orient, $50,000; Schall's, $40,000; 
Washington, $20,000; Wright's, $10,000. Total loss on enu- 
merated hotels, $2,890,000, without including furniture. 

Theaters, Halls, etc Opera-hcuise, $250,000; McVicker's, 
$75,000; Farwell Hall, $150,000; Hooley's, $35,000; Dear, 
born; $50,000; Museum, $100,000; Metropolitan, $100,000; 
Turner Hall, $25,000 ; Academy of Design, $30,000 ; Olympic, 
$50,000. Total on public halls, $865,000, without including 
furnishing of numerous offices in those buildings. 

Public Schools Jones, $13,170; Kinzie and branches, 
$21,390; Franklin and branch, $77,195; Ogden, $39,- 
675; Pearson Street, $16,750; Elm Street, $16,950; Lasalle 
Street, $32,650; North Branch, $32,000. Total, including 
furniture and heating apparatus, $249,780. 


The following was the loss on churches and church property : 

Baptist North, $15,000; Second German and Swedish 
Churches, 7,000; North Star, 20,000; Lincoln Park Mis 
sion, $3,500; Publication Society, 10,000; "Standard," $25,- 
000. Total, 80,500. 

Congregational New England, 70,000; Lincoln Park, 
2,000 ; other losses, $3,000. Total, $75,000. 

Episcopal Ascension, 20,000; St. Ansgarius, 17,500; St. 
James, 200,000; Trinity, 100,000. Total, 337,500. 

Jewish North Side, Sinai, and Kehilath Benai Sholom, 
30,000 ; hospital, 25,000. Total, 55,000. 

Methodist Episcopate-First (business block), 130,000 ; Grace, 
85,000; Yan Buren Street (German), 10,000; Clybourue 
Avenue (German), 10,000; First Scandinavian, 10,000; 
Bethel (colored), 10,000; Quinu's (colored), 15,000; Garret 
Biblical Institute (property in Chicago), 85,000. Total, 

Scandinavian Lutlieran First Norwegian, and Swedish. 
Loss, $25,000. 

Presbyterian First Church and mission, Second, Fourth, 
Bremer Street Mission, Erie Street Mission, Clybourne Avenue 
Mission; total, 465,000. The University was saved, also the 
Fullerton Avenue Church. 

Roman Catholic Holy Name, $250,000; St. Mary's, $40,000; 
Immaculate Conception, $30,000; St. Michael's, $200,000; St. 
Joseph's, $120,000; St. Louis, $25,000; St. Paul's, $25,000; 
these losses include pastors' residences and schools. Convents 
Sisters Mercy, $100,000; Good Shepherd, $90,000; also, St 
Joseph's Orphan Asylum, $40,000; Christian Brothers' Col- 
lege, $80,000; Alexian Hospital, $60,000; Bishops' residence, 
$40,000; other losses, $250,000. Total, $1,350,000, 


Swedenborgian Temple, $36,000; North Mission, $5,000. 
Total, $41,000. 

Unity Church (Rev. Eobert Collyer), $175,000; Illinois 
Street Mission, $25,000 ; Mariners' Bethel, $5,000. 

Grand total of Church losu (some only estimated), $3,- 

Leading Book Stores Western News Co., S. C. Griggs & 
Co., jrfid Keen, Cooke & Co., books, $600,000; buildings, 
$500,000; others 265,000. 

Law Libraries, . . . . ' $200,000 

Young Men's Library (20,000), . . , , 30,000 

Historical (60,000 books, 145,000 pamphlets), . 200,000 

Academy of Science (5000), books. . . 20,000 

Young Men's Christian (10,000), . . . .12,000 

Union Catholic (5000), . ' .* " \ . \ 7,000 

Franklin (3000), ..... 4,000 

Other public libraries, (10,000) . . . 16,000 

The loss on private libraries can scarcely be estimated; Mr. 
McCagg's was worth fully $40,000; other private libraries 
would foot up a total of over $500,000. Total books, with 
three stores, $2,354,000. 

Grain Elevators Central A, $150,000; National, $80,000; 
Galena, Hiram Wheeler's, and Munger & Co.'s, average, 
$125,000 each. Contents, 1,642,000 bushels of grain, worth 
$1,210,000. Several small- warehouses near them, where 
grain was stored on private terms, swell the aggregate to 

Provisions, 8000 bbls. pork, ' 6000 tierces lard, 1,000,000 
flbs. meats; total, $340,000. Flour, 15,000 barrels, wcrth 

Lumber, 65,000,000 feet in yards, with 2,500,000 feet more 


in planing-mills, and 2,000,000 each of shingles and lath. 
Total, $ 1,040,000. 

Coal burned (80,000 tons), $600,000. 

National Banks (All burned but one.) Clearing-house, 
City, Commercial, Cook County, Corn Exchange, Fifth, First, 
Fourth, German, Manufacturers, Mechanics, Merchants, Na- 
tional Bank of Commerce, Loan and Trust Co., North-western, 
Second, Third, Traders, Union. 

Other Banks Germania ; Hibernian (Savings) ; Marine ; 
Real Estate, Loan & Trust Co.; Union Insurance & Trust 
Co.; Chicago (Savings) ; Commercial Loan Co.; German (Sav- 
ings) ; Merchants, Farmers, & Mechanics (Savings) ; Mer- 
chants (Savings) ; National Loan & Trust Co.; Normal Co.; 
Illinois State Savings Institution, and twenty-one other bank- 
ing firms. 

The loss on personal property of banks, exclusive of build- 
ings, could not be obtained. It was probably about $1,000,000. 
This includes money burned up, but does not include evidences 
of indebtedness in one form or anothe^ as if any of those 
accounts were lost to the banks, it was simply so much less to 
be paid by the debtors. 

Dry Goods, Wholesale O. L. American & Co.; Bo wen, 
Hunt & Winslow; Day, Tilden & Co.; J. V. Farwell & Co.; 
Richards, Crumbaugh & Shaw ; Stetthauers & Wineman ; Field, 
Leiter & Co.; D. "W. & A. Keith & Co.; Rosenfeld, Munzer & 
Co.; Carson, Pirie & Co.; C. Gossage & Co.; Hamlin, Hale & 
Co.; J. B. Shay & Co.; Simpson, Norwell & Co.; Price, Rosen- 
blatt & Co.; Stine, Kramer & Co. Total loss, $10,000,000, of 
which about forty per cent, will be paid by the Insurance Com- 
panies, three-quarters of the stocks being insured. Also, thirty- 


five retail firms; loss, $3,500,000. Total loss, wholesale and 
retail, $13,500,000. 

Drugs, Wholesale (Fuller <fe Fuller escaped.) Burnham & 
Son; Cory, Barrett & Co.; Hurlbut & Edsall; Lord, Smith & 
Co.; Rock wood & Blocki; Tolman & King; Van Schaack, 
Stevenson & Co. Total loss, $750,000; and 45 retail dealers, 
$250,000. Total loss on drugs, $1,000,000. 

Soots and Shoes, Wholesale W. S. Crowley; Phelps, Dodge 
& Palmer; Doggett, Bassett & Hills; C. H. Fargo & Co.; Far- 
num, Flagg & Co.; T. B. Weber & Co.; C. M. Henderson & 
Co.; C. B. Sawyer & Co.; M. D. Wells & Co.; Whitney Bros. & 
Yundt. All the above were manufacturers. Goldman Bros.; 
McAuley, Yeo & Co.; J. F. Morrill & Co.; Cummings & Co.; 
North Bennington Co.; Geo. P. Gore & Co.; C. O. Thompson 
& Co.; Wiswall, Nazro & Thompson; Weage, Kirtland & 
Ordway; Greenfelder, Rosenthal & Co.; and 63 retail dealers. 
The total losses of boots and shoes alone, amounted to $2,500,- 
000 among the wholesale dealers; and about $1,000,000 among 
the retailers, some $"^,000 worth of the stock held by the latter 
being saved. 

The loss in leather and stock, among hide dealers, etc., ag- 
gregated $1,750,000 more; the stock of French skins was much 
less than stated by the Shoe and Leather Reporter. Eighteen 
dealers in hides and leather were burned out, besides the sole 
and upper-leather houses who tanned their own stock. 

Grocers, Wholesale Beckwith & Sons ; Barbour & Son ; Bliss, 
Moore & Co.; Burton & Pierce; Church & Co.; G. C. Cook & 
Co.; F. D. Cossett & Co.; Day, Allen & Co.; J. W. Doane & Co.; 
Downer & Co.; Durand Bros. & Powers, and Durand, Powers 
& Mead; C. E. Durand & Co.; Farringdon, Brewster & Co.; 
Forsyth & Co.; Gould, Briggs & Co.; J. A. & H. F. Griswold 


& Co.; Grannis & Farwell ; Gray Bros.; Hibben & Co.; Harmon, 
Messer & Co.; Hoyt & Co.; Ingraham, Corbin & Blay ; Kellogg 
&Covell; Knowles, Cloyes & Co.; Kussell Bros.; China Tea 
Co.; F. Macveagh ; McKindley, Gilchrist & Co.; Mead & Hig- 
gins; "W. F. McLaughlin ; Knowles, Burdsall & Bacon ; Quan & 
Co.; Reid, Murdock & Fisher; Sayres, Gilmore & Co.; Sibley 
& Endicott; Smith Bros. & Co.; H. C. Smith & Co.; Sprague, 
Warner & Co.; J. W. Stearns & Sous ; Stewart, Aldrich & Co.; 
Taylor & Wright; Wells & Faulkner; Willard & Co.; N. Sher- 
wood & Co.; Bennett, Fuller & Co.; Bittinger & Bro.; M. Graff 
& Co. Total loss, $3,750,000; and 218 retailers, aggregating 
$450,000, making a total loss on groceries, etc., of 4,120,000. 

Clothing, Wholesale Clement, Morton & Co.; Morse, Loomis 
& Co.; H. W. King & Co.; C. P. Kellogg & Co.; Tuttle, Thomp- 
son & Wetmore; H. A. Kohn & Bros.; A. & H. Kohn ; Leopold, 
Kuh & Co.; Cahu, Wampold & Co.; Clayburgh, Ernstein & Co.; 
Meyer, Strauss & Co. Total loss, $3,400,000 ; besides 250,000 
worth of furnishing goods. Whole loss on clothing, etc., at 
wholesale, 3,650,000. 

Hardware, etc., IWiotesale E. Hunt & Sons; Larrabee & 
North; Hall, Kimbark & Co.; Miller, Bros. & Keep; H. W. 
Austin; William Blair & Co.; J. K. Botsford & Son; Brintnall, 
Terry & Belden; Green baum Sons; Hay wood, Cartledge <fe 
Honore; Hibbard & Spencer; J. Leibenstein ; Markley, Ailing 
& Co.; E. A. Mears ; Sieberger & Breakey ; J. L. Wayne & Son ; 
Western H. Manufacturing Co.; Hurlburd, Herrick & Co.; Kel- 
logg & Johnson ; T. B. & H. M. Seavey ; J. A. & T. S. Sexton ; S. 
J. Surdam & Co. Total loss, $4,030,000; and 33 retailers lost 
1480,000. Total loss on hardware and metals, $4,510,000. 

Millinery, Wholesak D. B. Fisk & Co.; Keith Bros.; Gage 
Bros.; Webster Bros.; Mayhon, Daly & Co.; Walsh & Hutch- 


inson, H. W. & J. M. Wetherell, and several smaller firms. 
Loss, $1,500,000. Also, 55 retail dealers lost $1 10,000. Total 
loss, $1,610,000. 

Hats, Caps, and Furs, Wholesale Keith Bros.; Fitch, Wil- 
liams & Co.; Hotchkiss, Eddy & Co.; Carhart, Lewis & Co.; 
David P. Brown; Gimbel <fe Lowenstein; Innes Bros.; King 
Bros. & Co.; Sweet, Dempster & Co. Loss, $940,000. Also, 
38 retail dealers lost $120,000. Total loss, $1,060,000. 

Paper Stock, Wholesale Bradner, Smith & Co.; J. W. Butler 
& Co.; G.H.&L.Laflin; Cleveland^Paper Co.; Oglesby, Bar- 
nits & Co. Loss, $700,000. 

Musical Instruments and Books Root & Cady ; Ly on & Healy ; 
Smith & Nixon ; A. Reed & Sons ; W. W. Kimball ; Julius Bauer 
& Co.; J. H. Foote; Molter & Wurlitzer; and several others. 
Loss, $900^000. 

These, which include the leading lines of wholesale business 
in the city, will give an idea of the proportionate losses in other 
departments. We need not extend the list. 

The following is a summary of losses on buildings. Where 
the contents of the building are included, the fact is indicated 
by a star. The footings do not in all cases correspond to those 
above given. For instance, the Chamber of Commerce is noted 
above as a public building, but it is taxable property ; we there- 
fore include it below in our footings of warehouses, depots, etc., 
which were subject to taxation. National, county, city, church, 
and public school property was not taxed : 

Eighty business blocks (3 book-stores), $8,515,00' 

Railroad depots, warehouses, and Chamber of Commerce, . 2,700,00( 

Hotels (some not enumerated), 3,100,00f 

Theaters, etc., . , . . " ' : . . 865,000 


Newspaper offices (daily),* $888,000 

One hundred other business buildings, . " . . . . 1,008,421 

Other taxable buildings (16,000, average $1,800), . . . 28,800,000 

Churches,* 2,989,000 

1'ublic schools,* 249,780 

Other public buildings not taxed, - 2,121,800 

Other public property 1,763;000 

Total buildings, $53,000,000 

Our estimate of $1,800 each for the 16,000 buildings not 
enumerated is very low; many of them cost from $10,000 to 
$20,000 each. Outside of these, the great majority of the lower 
classes of dwellings were worth $1,000 to $1,200 each. Were 
the data attainable in each case, the loss on buildings would 
probably foot up to more than fifty-five millions. Where ab- 
solute accuracy is not possible, it is best to follow the lead of 
the insurance adjusters, and cut down rather than pile up the 

The losses on produce, etc., may be thus stated : 

Flour, 15,000 barrels. $97,500 

Grain ($35,000 worth in private store), 1,245,000 

Provisions (4,400,000 pounds), 340,000 

Salt, 100,000 

Wool, 100,000 

Lumber (65,000,000 feet in yards), 1,040,000 

Coal (80,000 tons), 600,000 

Wood, 400,000 

Other produce in store and warehouse, 1,340,000 

Total produce, etc., $5,262,500 

Not less than 350 produce commission offices were burned 


The following -were losses on stock and fixtures in business: 

Dry goods, ...... .' ' r | : 'fc' '"* ' ; . . . .$13,500,000 

Drugs, . ... v .,...* .. -. . . 1,000,000 

Boots and shoes, etc., and leather, . . . , -. -. . 5,175,000 

Hardware and metals, 4,510,000 

Groceries and teas, . .... . . . . . . . 4,120,000 

Wholesale clothing, .-.. . . . 3,650,000 

Jewelry, etc., . ' V '. '-** '.'.". . 1,300,000 
Musical instruments and musical books, . . . . 9,00,000 

Books on sale, 1,145,000 

Millinery, . . . . . . . . ". l ' 

Hats, caps, and furs, . . x . . . . . . 

Wholesale paper stock, 

Auction goods, . . . . ... . 

Shipping and dredges, ,> 

Banks (not including buildings), 1,000,000 

Furniture of business offices (including safes), . . . 2,250,000 
Manufactories (stock, machinery, and product), . . . 13,255,000 

Other stocks, . . . "". 22,000,000 

Other publications than daily newspapers, .... 375,000 

Total business (stocks and fixtures), $78,700,000 

The following are losses on personal effects : 

Household property, $41,000,000 

Manuscript work (records, etc.), 10,000,000 

Libraries, public and private * 2,010,000 

Money lost (Custom-house, $2,130,000), . , 5,700,000 

Total personal effects, $58,710,000 

The following is, therefore, our summary of losses by the 


Improvements (buildings), $53,000.000 

Produce, etc., . 5,262,500 

Manufactures, .... .... 13,255,000 

Other business property, . 65,445.000 

Personal effects, 58,710,000 

Miscellaneous, 328,000 

Grand total, ........ $196,000,000 

A few items included by us in improvements in the preced- 
ing pages, should be credited to personal property, as daily 
newspapers for instance. This would make business property 
foot up tp about $85,000,000, and buildings $52,000,000, but 
this change would not affect the grand total of loss. 

This estimate of 196,000,000 loss is much lower than some 
that have been made by prominent parties ; we believe it is as 
near the truth as is possible to be arrived at under the circum- 
stances. It should, however,* be remembered that in this ag- 
gregate we have not included mere evidences of indebtedness, 
for the reason given above, even though property be lost in 
consequence. Neither do we add the enormous sums paid for 
removing personal effects, etc., during the fire, nor the extra 
prices paid for labor and material in rebuilding the city. It is 
evident that what is a loss to one man, in such cases, is a gain 
to another; the result is simply to change the distribution of 
property among holders. The question we have endeavored 
to answer in this chapter is, " How much property was destroyed 
h the fire?" In doing so we could not take cognizance of 
mementoes, etc. ; that class of property, however valuable to 
the owner, like human life, can not be priced. 

Allowing four million dollars as the salvage on foundations 
of prominent blocks, and on bricks that are available for re- 


building, we shall have ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY-TWO 
MILLIONS OF DOLLARS as the value of the property actually 
destroyed by the fire. 

To this total we must, however, add $88,000,000 for the de- 
preciation of 30 per cent, on real estate, making the total of 
pecuniary loss by the fire equal to $280,000,000, or 45 per 
cent, on the total property value of $620,000,000 in the city 
before the fire. 

A still further addition must be made for the loss to com- 
merce and manufactures. "We estimate that the fire has kept 
back some $50,000,000 worth of receipts, which has interrupted 
business to the extent of about $125,000,000 worth of trading, 
wholesale and retail. At eight per cent, of profit a moderate 
estimate this would entail a further loss of $10,000,000, 
making the total loss $290,000,000, or 46f per cent, on the 
entire property value of the city. We may remark that this 
sum total of loss is a little greater than the whole valuation of 
property, real and personal, made by the assessors in 1871, foi 
the purposes of city taxation. 

The number of books destroyed in the fire is estimated at 
nearly two millions. 

The Academy of Design, though recently instituted, had 
become a prominent art center, and its destruction was a great 
blow to art in the West. Rothermel's Battle of Gettysburg, 
on exhibition there, was literally " saved as by fire." Of the 
other art treasures there consumed, Mr. Alvah Bradish writes 
as follows, to an Eastern paper : " There were Drury's large 
and precious collection; Ford's beautiful Ohio wood scenes; 
Deihl's careful studies and designs; Jeuks' conscientious labors; 
Elkin's world of Rocky Mountain studies; Bradish's popular 
* Leather Stocking/ his full length portrait of the late Douglass 


Houghton, and numerous smaller works; Pine's attractive 
group of children ; James Gookin's charming ' Fairy Wed- 
ding/ a gift to the academy. Cogswell's studio contained 
some of his best portraits. Reed & Son's studio was crowded 
with pictures and studies. Pebble's studio contained numerous 
works of high promise. Other young artists, or students, 
occupied rooms and pursued their studies in the building." 
The collection in the academy will not soon be replaced. 



The fire underwriters Better than expected The adjusters Statement 
of assets and losses of companies doing business in Chicago Insolvent 
companies What is essential to real protection against loss by fire. 

ri^HE question of insurance on the fire is not one of absolute, 
-- but of relative loss. So much property was destroyed ; 
the point at issue between insurers and insured was simply who 
should bear the loss, or in what proportion the loss should be 
distributed. If the insurance companies had failed to pay one 
cent, the loss to the community would have been just the same 
as if they had paid every dollar claimed. 

But these two supposable cases would have involved widely 
different conditions to the great mass of those insured ; to them 
it was a question of utter ruin, or a chance to begin the world 
anew. Yet there were many, even among this class, who had 
comparatively little interest in the matter. They were among 
the largest property holders, and that property was insured, but 
they were also large stockholders in the insurance companies, 
and to them the result, either way, could be little else than the 
making of one liability to offset the other, with no avails in 
any event. These were really the most to be pitied of all those 
whose possessions were swept away by the flames. 

The first general thought which succeeded that involved in 


the effort to find a place of safety, was that all fire insurance 
was utterly worthless. Scarcely any one thought that any 
company would pay ten per cent, on its liabilities. It was 
apparent at a glance that the Chicago companies were bank- 
rupt, and few dared to hope that the others would not 

But within two or three days a change was noticeable. First 
one telegram, and then several, came over the wires from the 
seaboard bearing the welcome intelligence that this and that 
company was prepared to pay all losses in full. Some of these 
professions have since proven to be only buncombe, but there 
was a good deal of truth, though some of it needed to be taken 
with a few grains of allowance. Then followed great uncer- 
tainty as to the amounts of loss and liability. Some companies 
understated their losses, in the hope of inspiring confidence and 
securing large accessions of new business, while others overstated 
theirs in the hope of inducing the sufferers to compromise for a 
small per centage of their claims. Meanwhile, the field was taken 
by a whole army of "adjusters," some of whom acted fairly 
enough, while the great majority seemed to have but the one 
aim in view of pressing the poor as closely to the wall as they 
could, under cover of the law. At the date of this writing 
(November 13, 1871), it is not possible to make an exact state- 
ment of the situation. 

The following tables show the net assets of each company 
having risks in the burned district, the figures being taken 
from the sworn statements made by each company at the close 
of 1870, with the real losses as nearly as can be ascertained, 
and the per centage of insurance upon those losses which the 
companies will be able to pay. This may be called the collect- 
able per centage. 



We give the net assets, because the gross assets of a company 
are not always available in payment of losses, though it is 
true that the difference between the two is made up of items 
some of which are arbitrarily established, and sometimes un- 
fairly counted as deductions from the company's ability to pay. 

The figures here given as representing the total losses b/ the 
rire do not correspond, except in a few cases, with the losses 
admitted by the companies after the fire. From the latest 
data available at the time, we have collected and carefully pre- 
pared the figures contained in the following six pages. It is 
only approximate and may be found wide of the truth in some 
instances, but we believe it gives a much nearer approximation 
to the aggregate than any statement compiled from the exhibits 
of the insurance companies themselves. 

In the list of companies continuing business, we have placed 
some whose net assets are not nearly equal to the losses incurred. 
Such companies will undoubtedly pay one hundred cents on the 
dollar, because they can not continue without doing so ; and the 
required amounts will be made up by assessment upon the stock- 
holders, and by the large gains accruing from receipts at the 
present enormous rates of insurance. 

Of course the column of per centage is not intended to show 
a basis on which insurers should settle with the companies for 
their losses. We may have unintentionally overrated or under- 
rated the ability of some companies to pay. The best way for 
the policy-holders to do is to act in concert, in the way indicated 
at the meetings now being held in the city, and ascertain the full 
extent of the losses and resources of each company that refuses 
to pay in full. These facts may not be ascertained accurately 
for some months after our book goes to press. 




Aurora, of Aurora, . . 
Chicago Fire, Chicago, 
Chicago Firemen, Chicago, 
Commercial, Chicago. 
Equitable, Chicago, . , 
Germania, Chicago, . . 
Home, Chicago, 
Illinois Mutual, Alton, 
Merchants, Chicago, . 
Mutual Security, Chicago, . 

Net Assets, 


Jan. 1, 1871. 

Actual Losses. 

per c 
































Great Western, 
Republic, . 

Net Assets, 
Jan. 1, 1871. 

$ 235,556 


Actual Losses, pur cent. 

$225,000 100 
3,500,000 100 

The Republic has made an assessment upon its stockholders 
to meet the^ loss. 


Net Assets, 
Jan. 1, 1871. 

/^Etna, $334,570 

Astor, 206,755 

Atlantic, 361,659 

Beeckman, 230,635 

Excelsior, 239,090 

Fulton, 216,964 

Irving, 251,938 

Lamar, 469,792 

Lorillard, 1,395,063 

Manhattan, 987,350 

Market, ... . . . 473,949 

Actnal Losses, Collectable 
Estimated. per cent. 








Net Assets, 
Jan. 1, 1871. 

North America, ' $545,975 

Security, . . . . . . 1,000,396* 

Washington, 403,863 

Albany City, . . . .'.'.. 165,393 
Capital City, . . . . ' . 266,676 

Buffalo City, . . . . . 251,469 
Buffalo, F. & M. . . .-''.- 326,452 
Western, . . . . . '. 364,679 
Yonkers & New York, . . : . 588,651 

Artiinl T,og*. s, ro'1-rtable 
I'M hunt -d. per cent. 



Net Assets, 

Jn. 1, 1871. Actual Losses. 

Adriatic, . . ,. i ., -.,, ... $206,754 $8,500 

American, .... . * . 361,659 25,000 

American Exchange, . . . . 230,635 58,000 

Buffalo German, '.' J: . ; .-i .. 222,104 5,000 

Citizens, ,.. ' 399,283 35,000 

Columbia, . ..... . _.".. 386,306 3,400 

Commerce (Albany), .... 514,652 450,000 

Commerce (New York). . . . 225,384 26^000 

Commercial, . ... . 259,384 5.000 

Continental, . ' . . '" . . 1,870,297 1,300,000 

Corn Exchange, . . ^ ,...., . 283,861 70,000 

Exchange, 150,604 3,000 

Firemen's Fund, . . . 127,498 20,000 

Firemen's Trust, . f " '"+'. "/. '* 187,951 5,000 

Germania, v p . ' . ., '. 704,517 238,000 

Glen's Falls, / .' '~t' : . ' ' *' 242,225 13,000 

Guardian, ' . 230,411 45,000 

Hanover, . . . . , ' . . . 404,541 250,000 

Hoffmann,. . . .' . . 200,337 30,000 

Home, . . . . . . 3,011,455 2,140,000 


per cent. 


* It is believed that a large amount of assets reported by this company- 
are unavailable. 



Net Assets, (Vvl<vta)>ie 

Jan. 1, 1871. Actual Losses, per ceut. 

Howard, $702,762 $473,000 100 

Humbold* . . . ' . . 211,623 20,000 100 

Importers and Traders', . . 271,082 22,500 100 

International, 860,250 547,000 100 

Jefiereon, 360,739 42,500 100 

Kings County, 222,032 30,000 100 

Lafayette, 160,770 8,000 100 

Lenox, . . . . . . 214,271 30,000 100 

Long Island, 347,763 100 

Mechanics', 175,438 22,500 100 

Mechanics' and Traders', . . . 369,926 41,500 100 

Mercantile, . ' . . . . 235,208 112,000 100 

Merchants', ' .' . . . . 332,031 10,000 100 

Nassau, . ... 346,812 100 

National, ...... 254,000 37,500 1UO 

New Amsterdam, .... 364,852 570,000 100 

New York Fire, ..'"." . 328,611 15,000 100 

Niagara, . . . . . . 1,020,598 233,000 100 

Pacific, . . . . . . 367,835 13,500 100 

Phoenix, . '. . ' . ' . . 1,372,946 350,000 100 

Relief, . . . . "; . 249,560 40,000 100 

Republic, 436,457 210,000 100 

Resolute, . . . . . . 204,265 75,000 100 

Sterling, . . ... . . 213,199 7,500 100 

Tradesman's, . . .... 311,226 30,000 100 

Williamsburgh City, . . . v . 389,871 85,000 100 


Atlantic, Providence, R. L, 


Allemannia, Cleveland, 0., 

City, Hartford, Conn., 

Cleveland, Cleveland, 0., 

Net Assets, 
Jan. 1, 1871. 





per ceDt. 






Net Assets, 


Jan. 1, 1871. 


>-r cent. 

Connecticut, Hartford, Conn., . . 




Detroit Fire and Marine, Detroit, Mich., 




Enterprise, Philadelphia, . . . 




German, Cleveland, 0., . . .. 




Hibernia, . . . 




Hide and Leather, Boston, Mass., 




H spe, Providence, R. I., . . . . 




Independent, Boston, Mass., 




Merchants' & Mechanics', Baltimore, Md. 

, 274,962 



Merchants', Hartford, Conn., . . 




North American, Hartford, Conn., 




N. E. Mut Marine, Boston, Mass., 




National, Boston, Mass., . 




Norwich, Norwich, Conn., '. . 




Occidental, San Francisco, ^ . 




Pacific, " ,;. . : 




Putnam, Hartford, Conn., ...- . . 




Providence Washington, Providence, R. I. 

, 315,646 



Roger Williams, Providence, R. I., . 




Sun, Cleveland, O., . . " . . 




Teutonia, " ' % \>;Vi; . ' 





Net Assets. 

Jan. 1, 1871. 


**r ci* 

Bay State, Worcester, Mass., . ' . 




Boylston, Boston, Mass., . . ' . 




Commercial Mutual, Cleveland, O., . 




City, Boston, Mass., ,* . -- f 




Eiiiott, " '/**f!* u ^S- >a 




Fireman's, " ... 




Franklin, " . ". . 




Howard, .. 




Laurence, . _, . 




Manuf'ctur'ra, " . . i 




Merchants', a ... 




Neptune, " ... 






Fireman's Fund, ! 

Merchants', Proyi 
Franklin, Philade 
Ins. Co. N. A. 
Alps, Erie, Penn. 
American Central 
Maryland, Baltim 

jEtna, Hartford, 
Fairfield Co., Nor 
, Hartford, Hartfor 

National, Bangor, 

American, Cincin 

Net Assets. 

Jan. 1, 1871. 


IVr cen 

Boston, Mass., 




tor, Mass., . . 




, Boston, Mass., 
















San Francisco, * 












44 ... 




jlphia, Penn., . 








" . . 







1, St. Louis, Mo., 















tore, Md., 




























walk, Conn., . 




d, Conn., . . 








, Me., 








inati, ()., . . . 




" ... 






















Home, Columbus, O., 

Ohio Valley, 





Brewer's, Milwaukee, 

TV. W. National, 

St Paul F. & M., 

Net Assets, 
Jan. 1, 1871. 

innati, O., . . $140,062 

Losses. per cent. 

$14,000 100 

" ... 14,596 

5,000 100 

... 182,651 

30,000 100 

" ... 118,745 

50,000 100 

" ... 111,573 

40,000 100 

O., . . . 545,193 

300,000 100 

[anufacturer's, Gin., 0., 221,380 

15,000 100 

ncinnati, O., . . 115,111 

30,000 100 

"... 51,541 

5,000 100 

" . . .' 22,969 

50,000 100 

" . . . 111,448 

25,000 100 

"... 132,918 

21,000 100 

" ; 143,346 

28,000 100 

ikee, . . ' . 183,681 

250,000 100 

. ' ~ 191,202 

100,000 100 

. V'4j 280,593 

100,000 100 

n, Ky., . . . -163,543 

35,000 100 


Net Assets, 
Jan. 1, 1871. 

Losses. Per cent. 

ndon and Globe, . $20,136,420 

$3.500,000 100 

L Mercantile, 4,104,598 

2,000,000 100 


150,000 100 

. > ! '^l t 9,274,776 

110,000 100 

n, . ...- 4,000,000 

65 ; 000 100 

Commercial Union, 

Other companies than the above-named, had an aggregate 
of insurance variously stated at five millions and upward. 

Of the enormous assets of the Liverpool, London, and 
Globe, a large portion is credited to the Life Insurance de- 

The losses tabulated above (only approximate in some cases), 
with the others not noted, foot up a total of fully $90,000,000 



worth of insured loss. On this some $40,000,000 is collectable, 
but many of the companies claiming to pay in full are "shav- 
ing" heavily. We estimate that not more than $35,000,000 
will be paid, of which nearly 30,000,000 was adjusted by the 
end of November. The insurance companies will pay about 
eighteen per cent, of the total value of all the property de- 
stroyed, whether insured or not. 

The Spectator, of New York, gives the following as the ag- 
gregate losses of the companies by States, the number of com- 
panies in each State, and the number suspended : 

No. of Aggregate 
State. Companies. capital. 

Total gross 


No. sus- 

New York, . . 












Massachusetts, . 






Pennsylvania, . 






Missouri, . . 






Illinois, . . 






Maryland, . . 

















Rhode Island, . 











Michigan, . 










Wisconsin, . 





Minnesota, . 






New Hampshire, 
Total of U.S., . 








Foreign, . . 
Grand total . 









The managers of the insolvent insurance companies have 
been severely blamed, and not without reason. It was their 
business to provide against just such a contingency as that pre- 
sented by the Chicago fire, though not to anticipate it as likely 
tc occur. Insurance is good for nothing unless it be an abso- 
lute protection to the insured, and those companies whith have 
proven themselves equal to the test will assuredly have no rea- 
son in the future to regret the outlay. We do not claim, as 
some have done, that no company should be permitted to as- 
sume a greater aggregate of risks than the amount of its assets; 
but some measures ought to be taken to prevent the swinging 
of lines of insurance in any one place so enormously dispro- 
portionate to its capital as is presented in the returns of some 

Another lesson taught by the Chicago fire is the folly of local 
action the aim of which is to drive out companies organized in 
other States. The object of insurance is to scatter a loss as 
widely as possible, so that the effects will not be disastrous to 
any one man or class of men; and this end can best be attained 
in fire underwriting by placing the insurance of any city in com- 
panies whose capital is not likely to be destroyed by the very 
same fire on which it is called to meet the loss. Any thing like 
a tax on foreign companies in the future, will be as odious as 
the wild-cat plan of insurance itself, which is only intended to 
bring in dividends, and not to meet losses. 



Tho city not ruined Mistaken advice A statement of profit and loss 
Comparison of 1868 with 1871 The disaster equivalent to a des- 
truction of three years' growth. 

~\Tf 7 HEN the news went forth that Chicago had been swept 
* * almost from one side to the other by the devouring 
flames, there were a few who accepted the statement as a highly 
colored exaggeration. But this view quickly gave place to the 
other extreme. It seemed to be generally accepted as a fact 
that Chicago was blotted out from the number of cities, noth- 
ing remaining but the location and the name. It was conceded 
that the wondrous energy of the people was adequate to the 
task of rebuilding, but it was thought that the work must be 
re-begun ; ab initio. The outside impression was that not only 
the buildings, but even the streets, were obliterated, and the city 
razed as effectually as if it had been taken in hand by one of 
the old-time conquerors its site plowed up, and the laud sown 
with salt. 

And so the good-natured, and really well-meaning, ad- 
visers, who lived and wrote at a distance, filled hundreds of 
newspaper columns with advice that was entirely inappropriate 
to the occasion. The people of Chicago were recommended to 
lay out entirely new street lines, on an improved plan, and 



then to build. The truth is, however, that the streets remain 
almost intact in the burned districts, the damage to the wooden- 
block pavement scarcely exceeding half a million of dollars, while 
the immense systems of sewers, and water pipes, and gas mains 
beneath, are scarcely disturbed. But beyond all this, the 
largest part of the city was unvisited by the conflagration, 
though the burned part was valuable, almost beyond compari- 
4 son with what remained, in a commercial aspect. To remodel 
street lines in the burned district would have involved changes 
elsewhere, and entailed a heavy additional expense upon an 
already impoverished people. However, that is not the 
subject of the present chapter. Our present object is to tell 
what remained besides life and energy, and hope, on that terri- 
ble night, when the fire had well-nigh spent its fury in the 
search after fresh victims, and settled back to the work of feed- 
ing upon the ruins, till every atom of combustible matter 
should be resolved into the original elements. 

The destruction was practically complete in the North Di- 
vision, not more than 500 houses being left out of nearly 
14,000 ; while even a less proportion of the residents were left 
vith homes. The houses unburned were generally of the 
smaller class, and capable of accommodating but a very few 
persons in each one. 

In the South Division the devastation was complete over 
but a comparatively small area, and what remained was enough 
to form a fine city in itself. South of the southern limit of the 
fire, as far as the eye can reach, the streets were lined with 
buildings, all, without exception, of a superior class ; the poorest 
one within two miles of Harrison and east of State scarcely 
cost less than eight to ten thousand dollars. Westward of 
State Street a poorer class of residences prevailed, but the 


streets were generally in good order, and the docks along the 
river were crowded with merchandise and factories. 

Li the West Division the proportion of loss was even less. 
The burned district was the poorest in that section, in regard to 
the character of its buildings, though rich in the products of la- 
bor and the means of providing more wealth. But behind this 
district was an imposing array of fine streets, thickly lined 
with substantial buildings, containing many thousands of the 
well-to-do classes of citizens. 

The city contained a population of 334,270 souls. Of these, 
98,500 were rendered homeless; leaving 235,770, or seventy 
per cent., unharmed. About 40,000 left the city within a few 
weeks, but many of these returned subsequently, and many 
hundreds of workers came in from other places to aid in re- 
building the city. In December, 1871, Chicago contained a 
population of not much less than 300,000. 

The number of buildings burned was 17,450 ; remaining 
42,000, or seventy per cent. The value of* the buildings 
burned was not less than fifty per cent, of the whole saved, 
fifty per cent. 

Of lumber and grain the proportion destroyed was about 
twenty-six per cent., of fuel fifty per cent. Of grain there 
was saved 5,000,000 bushels; of lumber 240,000,000 feet; of 
coal 79,000 tons. 

On mercantile stocks, manufactures, and personal ejfects, the 
loss averaged seventy per cent, of the whole, the saved, thirty 
per cent. 

All the land remains, substantially, as before the fire, and 
the street improvements were but little disturbed, except in the 
matter of sidewalks. 

A comparison of these facts, with the statistics given in pre- 


ceding chapters of this book, leads to startling conclusions, and 
no less cheering than startling. The population of Chicago in 
November, 1871, one month after the fire, was fully equal to 
that of the spring of 1869. Aggregating the losses on prop- 
erty, even after making due allowances for a depreciation in 
the selling price of real estate (much of which can be but tem- 
porary), and adding in to the sum the amounts received and to 
be received by the sufferers, from insurance companies, the 
stocks of which are not held by Chicago men, we have a grand 
total of nearly four hundred millions of dollars, which is con- 
siderably greater than the aggregate of actual values of real 
and personal property in the summer of 1868. Equating 
these two comparisons, we find that : 

The Great Conflagration set back the city of Chicago not 
more than three years in her career of progress. A week after 
the fire she was fully as " well to do," in a pecuniary sense, as 
three years previously. In that triennial period less than 
one-tenth of an-ordinary generation, she had gained all that she 
lost on that eventful day, the 9th of October, 1871. 

If we mistake not, the commerce and domestic manufactures 
of Chicago, in the twelve months next succeeding the fire, will 
be found to exceed those of three years previously, the gold 
dollar being taken as the standard for the comparison of 
money values. 



The first two days after the fire Preparing to resume Extraordinary 
calmness under suffering Working with a will The newspapers 
Meeting of bankers and business men Cheering news from insur- 
ance companies. 

1"N our statement of what was left after the fire, we omitted 
-*- mention of the one great possession which the flames could 
not destroy. The genius that had built up Chicago could not 
be reduced to ashes; that remained stimulated to renewed 
activity by the calamity that had befallen the scene of so much 
effort in the past. The kind of material of which Chicago men 
were made was well typified in the motto on a shingle stuck up 
amid the ruins long before they had cooled, "All gone but wife, 
children, and energy." 

Indeed, if one could but have ignored the presence of the 
smoldering ruins, and drawn a veil over the memory of the 
scene of a few hours previously, it would have been impossible 
to tell by looking in the faces of the people, or noting the tone 
of voice, that any serious loss had occurred. Not only was there 
no tearing of hair, or wild raving about lost fortunes, but abso- 
lutely no reference to the event, on the*part of any business man, 
except as one might speak of a business failure in which the 
individual had no immediate interest. The business portion of 

the community seemed to think it beneath them to utter a word 



of complaint. Several of the telegrams sent East for more 
goods actually contained no word of reference to the disaster 
that had swept away the accumulations of many years; and we 
heard of one who sent word that he would be unable to remit 
for a day or two, his affairs being somewhat deranged by a hasty 
removal. Every body acted as if there was neither time nor 
occasion for grieving. 

The first impulse of those not actually burned out of house 
and home was to care for the real sufferers. This assured, the 
second thought was about growing again. Within two days 
from the date of the fire, a large proportion of the business 
men had secured localities outside the limits of the burned dis- 
trict, or had given orders for temporary structures to be erected 
on the old site, while many had contracted for a rebuilding of 
their property substantially as before. The Board of Trade had 
established itself in west-side quarters, and organized a commit- 
tee of one hundred to aid in distributing the supplies of food 
and clothing; the leading hotel proprietors had secured new 
locations; no one even waiting to see what was saved before 
resolving to go ahead again. Scarcely one, out of the entire 
host, gave up in despair. And it should be remembered that 
fhis steady preparation for new business was proceeded with, 
for several days, amid the greatest uncertainty with regard to 
the grand result. Scarcely any man was able to define his po- 
sition; for even those who had not been burned out of home, 
as well as office, knew not whither they might drift in the gen- 
eral " sea of troubles." It was scarcely expected that any policy 
of insurance would be worth a rush. None knew how much the 
banks might be crippled ; us not only their resources but their 
records were believed to have beon destroyed, in that intense 
furnace-heat which scarcely ever met with a parallel except 


in the infernal regions. Ninety per cent, of the mercantile 
accounts were believed to have been burned up. And, worse 
than all, the destruction of the Court-house had reduced to 
ashes the only recognized evidence of title to property that 
constituted the sole means of support to thousands. Not only 
stocks and building improvements had vanished into smoke 
and thence into thin air, but the record of the one, and the title 
to the site of the other,had departed in like manner. It really 
seemed as if the wail of La Somnambula must be repeated in 
chorus by every one of the residents of the city, " All is lost 

In this respect all was chaos. But there was one point on 
which all were clear. The universal sentiment was, " We will 
square up old business, if possible; if not, we will commence 
anew, and trust to Providence to the end." They had even 
more confidence in the result than had the old lady whose faith 
held out till the breeching broke, and then collapsed. 

The suspense was but short. The first reassurance was given 
by the expressions of practical sympathy that flaslred along the 
wires by the hundred, from places far and near, telling how 
much (in dollars) they felt for the sufferers. Perhaps the sec- 
ond was the statement that several of the insurance companies 
would pay in full. Then a meeting of bankers was held on 
the third day at which it was resolved to "go ahead." Then 
the lumbermen met, and resolved that they would not take ad- 
vantage of the situation to advance the price of lumber. And 
simultaneously the wholesale dealers wheeled into line, while 
the Board of Trade unanimously voted down the proposition to 
repudiate contracts outstanding at the time of the fire. All this 
within one week. Seven days had scarcely elapsed before gen- 
eral confidence was restored, and business was on its feet again. 


Though crippled for the nonce, it was healthy; and business 
men had resolved to make the best of the situation. 

All day on Monday the fire was raging, and none knew dur- 
ing the succeeding night that it would not sweep the entire city. 
But on Tuesday morning it was evident that that conflagration 
had done its worst. Then business men began to work. Early 
that morning the Tribune and Journal found a location on 
Canal Street, west of the river, and began work, the Journal 
issuing that evening, and the Tribune on Wednesday morning. 
All the other dailies were equally enterprising, except the 
Times, the proprietor of which preferred to wait for a couple 
of weeks and start again in "ship-shape." On that Tuesday 
morning the officers of the Board of Trade secured a large room 
at No. 53 South Canal Street, and threw it open for business, 
while many of the commission merchants secured offices near 
that point, and called in all the carpenters, gas-fitters, etc., that 
could be found, to put their places in order. The same enter- 
prise was exhibited by the wholesale dealers, most of whom 
had secured'temporary quarters before nightfall, either in the 
West or South Divisions, within a few blocks of the still burn- 
ing ruins. The prominent hotel keepers were also on the 
alert, the Sherman and Briggs Houses being re-opened on Mad- 
ison Street, a little west of the bridge. 

On Wednesday the principal bankers held a meeting, W. F. 
Coolbaugh presiding, at which it was tacitly resolved to con- 
tinue business, though no formal action was taken. Before 
nightfall not less than twelve of the banks had been tempo- 
rarily located, and announced their intention to recommence 
just as soon as the places chosen could be set in order. It 
was not known exactly how much they would be able to do, 
but their behavior inspired con6dence, which was further 


strengthened by the report that the Bank of Montreal, the 
richest on this continent, had determined to open an agency in 
Chicago. Then carne in the telegrams from the insurance com- 
panies, full of cheer. The Liverpool, London and Globe tele- 
graphed that they could and would pay at least three million 
dollars immediately on adjustment, provided they were liable 
for so much. The Union Insurance Company of San Fran- 
cisco telegraphed to their agent to pay. every dollar of the half 
million lost by them, and immediately called an assessment 
upon their stockholders to keep good their $750,000 in gold 
capital, and $400,000 surplus. The North British and Mer- 
cantile, and two or three other companies whose names do not 
now occur to us, made similar announcements. 

The effect was electrical. The Board had been on the point 
of wiping off all contracts pending at the time of the fire, but 
now a majority of the members were in favor of honoring all 
their engagements, as far as could be ascertained amid the gen- 
eral destruction of accounts ; the decision to this effect was not, 
however, formally made until the following Saturday. On this 
day (Wednesday) the Directors of the Chamber, of Commerce 
decided to rebuild on the old site as quickly as possible, and 
several of the leading merchants obtained permits from the 
Board of Public Works to erect temporary wooden buildings, 
so that they could resume at an early date. Several meetings 
were held by prominent citizens, the object being to prepare 
for the resumption of business; and the head-quarters of the 
city government were temporarily held in the Congregational 
Church, on the corner of Ann and Washington Streets. A 
telegram was also received from Governer Palmer, stating that 
a special meeting of the Legislature had been called for the 


next day to render such aid as could be given by the State to 
Chicago in her dire affliction. 

All this within forty-eight hours after the fire had passed 
into history, long before the smoke had cleared away or the 
cellars stopped burning nearly a week before the great ccal 
heaps ceased to light up the evening sky with a lurid glare that 
made night hideous. All this, too, in addition to the work of 
providing shelter for, and distributing food and clothing to, 
nearly a hundred thousand homeless ones. Talk about energy ! 
AVhy, the people of Chicago themselves never understood till 
then the extent of their own resources, the amount of energy, still 
less their almost superhuman self-possession. There was none 
of the hurry that impedes progress, none of the grumbling that 
interferes with action nay, not even the boasting in which 
some are tempted to indulge when troubled, to hide their fears. 
In those two days scores of thousands of people had lived half 
a century, and the hair of many men had grown precociously 
gray (a sober fact), but there was no despondency in the coun- 
tenance; not even the sternness that some suppose to be neces- 
sary to a successful struggle with misfortune. 



Much sympathy and great expectations The Governor's message The 
canal Hen assumed by the State The new Custom-house and Post- 
office The old land -marks to be renewed. 

rilHE Legislature of the State of Illinois met on the 13th of 
-*- October, the fourth day after the fire, the object of the 
session being to provide for the relief of the sufferers, a far as 
it could be done in a constitutional way. Governor Palmer 
delivered a message in which he strongly recommended that 
the State should relieve the county of Cook and city of Chi- 
cago of the care of their poor, insane, and criminals, and 
release the lien on the canal which the city held for the im- 
provement of that water route. There was, however, no money 
in the treasury with which to carry out these measures ; and to 
the recommendation of the Governor that the money be raised 
by direct taxation of the State, it was replied that the Con- 
stitution prohibited the creation of any State debt beyond 
$250,000, except for the purpose of repelling invasion, sup- 
pressing insurrection, or defending the State in time of war. 
The Governor really discussed these objections in his message, 
arguing that the spirit of the Constitution was that that sum 
might be exceeded in any great emergency, like the destruction 

of Chicago. His arguments were cogent, but the Legislature 



granted no relief except that couched in the assumption of the 
canal debt, in pursuance of a contract entered into between the 
State and the city long before the adoption of the new Consti- 
tution. That contract was to the effect that the State might at 
any time assume the debt incurred by the city in deepening 
the Illinois and Michigan Canal. The cost of that work, with 
interest, amounted to $2,955,340. It was ordered that six per 
cent, bonds, payable in ten years, be issued for this amount; 
that not less than one-fifth, nor more than one-third of the 
money so paid should be applied by the city in constructing 
the bridges, and the other public buildings and structures, 
upon the original sites thereof, and that the remainder should 
be applied to the payment of interest on the bonded debt of 
the city, and to the maintenance of the fire and police depart- 
ments thereof. 

One other measure was passed for the relief of commerce, 
changing the wording of the warehouse bill, which prohibited 
the proprietors of grain elevators from delivering up grain 
without the due surrender of the warehouse receipts issued for 
such grain. Many such receipts had been burned up in the 
fire, and could not be so surrendered. But this measure did 
not involve any pecuniary outlay. Expressions of sympathy 
fell thick and fast from the lips and pens of members of the 
Legislature and Senate, but the wordy discussions in which they 
indulged on the subject lasted till the ardor had cooled down, 
and the Legislature adjourned without action, to meet again in 
the middle of November. 

At the time of this writing the Legislature has met, but ac- 
complished nothing in regard to the Chicago disaster, looking 
toward relief from the State. It is thought that the State and 
county taxes will probably be remitted on the burnt district for 


a year or two nothing more. The proposition to assume the 
expense of conducting the Reform School and the county 
Poor-house will probably be negatived. 

The gravest duty to be performed by the Legislature is in 
regard to the question of titles to property not only in the 
burned district, but all over the county. Not less than one 
million distinct titles were jeopardized, more or less, by the 
destruction of the records in the Court-house. The difficulty 
was all the greater as many owners of real estate wished to sell, 
or mortgage, in order to raise money wherewith to build, or 
resume business, but found that the question of proof of title 
stood in the way. For some weeks the newspapers were liber- 
ally supplied with articles on the subject, and the best legal 
talent in the city was exercised in framing bills that would re- 
move the difficulty. It was found that the books of three ab- 
stract firms had been saved, and it was proposed to make one 
or all of these legal proof of ownership, unless in cases where 
they were defective, or other overwhelming evidence proved 
facts not quoted by them. It was proposed by one eminent 
lawyer to throw the \vhole thing into Chancery, making it 
necessary to prove title at an expense of several hundred dol- 
lars on each piece of property. But this proposal was received 
with such universal disfavor that it was essentially modified by 
the author. 

The latest probability was that all claimants to ownership, 
where such claim was not disputed within a reasonable time,, 
should be determined- to be the real owners, without sepa- 
rate legal process, and that the burden of disproof should 
lie with any one who might afterward dispute that title. It 
was furthermore announced that deeds issued in the place of 
those destroyed by fire, do not need to be stamped according to 


value, if the former deed were properly stamped, and the fact 
of such reissue were recited in the instrument. 

No inconsiderable stimulus was given to the hopes of the 
people by the announcement that the Government of the United 
States would immediately reconstruct its buildings in Chicago 
the Custom-house and Post-office on a grand scale, involv- 
ing the expenditure of four to five millions of dollars in the 
city within the next three years. The supervising architect, 
Mr. Mullet, arrived in Chicago in the early part of November, 
and announced that the work would be speedily proceeded with, 
and that the building would be erected on the old site, though 
some additional ground might be required for the purpose. 

This, and the provision made by the Legislature, that the 
public buildings of city and county should be rebuilt where they 
had stood before the fire, settled matters. A few men, more zeal- 
ous than wise, had advocated the removal of the business center 
of the city to other points, forgetting that the attempt to do 
this would raise a war of contending interests that would have 
made Chicago almost equally odious, in the eyes of the outside 
world, with Paris after the surrender to the German armies. 
Mr. Mullet's answer to some of these pleaders was that the 
Government had determined to put the buildings back where 
they stood formerly, and if the location were not the best, the 
blame would rest with those who had made the original choice. 
It is probable that no better place could be found for the Post- 
office, and the United States Courts, with other offices, except 
the Custom-house that institution ought to be located on or 
near the bank of the river, and as near to the mouth of the 
harbor as possible. It is probable that a separate building will 
yet be erected in that vicinity, for use by the Custom-house 



Business on its feet again The course pursued by the banks A plethora 
of money The Board of Trade, and produce movement Mercantile 
indebtedness Action of Eastern creditors Strength of Chicago's busi- 
ness men Retail dealers in council 

OF course little was done in the way of business during the re- 
mainder of the first week, beyond the retail supply of the 
wants of the people. Chicago was cut off from connection with the 
outside world, for awhile, in a business way. The railroads were 
disarranged by the burning of depots and rolling stock, and the 
personal distresses of their employes, while their crippled facili- 
ties were taxed to bring on the clothing and provisions contrib- 
uted abroad, and to carry away those who wished to flee the city. 
A great many goods were left untouched by the fire, outside the 
limits of the conflagration, but few of the merchants were pre- 
pared to receive them, and all the vehicles at command were 
employed in hauling fuel or provisions for those who had been 
burned out, or in transporting lumber to the places where it 
would be used to rebuild. The Board of Trade could not very 
well resume till the banks were again in running order. 

On Thursday the banks came to the conclusion that they 
would begin at once to pay out fifteen per cent, to depositors, 
and this action was made public in the papers of Friday morn- 
ing. They had little doubt of their ability to pay more at fya 
28 (325) 


outset, but preferred to set this limit as a protection, in the 
event of a run. The Savings Banks also decided to pay out 
twenty dollars to all having that sura or more on deposit, and 
to pay in full those depositors having twenty dollars or less on 
the books. The action of the banks was excepted to by many 
as too close, but it was afterward conceded that their policy was 
a judicious one. They were all sound, but a considerable pro- 
portion of their assets was in the shape of commercial paper, 
which it would have been cruel to press for collection ; and they 
wished also to keep at command a sufficient amount of money 
to keep the wheels of trade in motion by aiding the shipment 
of produce eastward. 

The greater number of the banks resumed on the following 
Tuesday (October 17th), and experienced no trouble in coping 
with the situation. On the contrary, they found that the money 
offered on deposit amounted to more than that withdrawn. This 
was the case even with the Savings Banks. The fact showed 
the utter absence of a panic in Chicago, as other facts had al- 
ready shown that the city, not only had the sympathy but, re- 
tained the confidence of the capitalists of other cities. This was 
markedly instanced by the establishment, on the loth of Novem- 
ber, of a branch of the Bank of Montreal in the city, the prin- 
cipal object of which was to forward the mercantile movement 
by granting credits on the East and on Europe and China. 
The status of the Chicago banks had been inquired into on the 
16th of October by Comptroller Hurlburd, who reported them 
as satisfactory. Indeed, from that time to the date of this 
writing (November 15th), the banks have had more money 
than before the fire. Large quantities of capital were sent on 
from other cities, to be invested in real estate at the reduction 
M(h,ich it was anticipated would ensue. A great deal of money 


was forwarded by insurance companies to pay on losses, and the 

immense relief-fund itself was necessarily deposited in banks 
till such times as the money should be wanted to meet the 

hardships of winter. All these things, operating together, pro- 
duced a perfect flush of bank funds in November, though largo 
quantities of money were sent East in payment of mercantile 
accounts. The banks could have loaned at least twice as much 
money as they did, had the right kind of paper been offered. 
Of course they had many applications for loans which they were 
obliged to refuse, the security tendered being hazardous. 

We have stated that the Board of Trade did no business dur- 
ing that first week, but it is not true that there was nothing 
doing in produce. On the contrary, the grain received during 
that week aggregated not less than 1635 car loads, or 649,000 
bushels, and the shipments amounted to 220,460 bushels, to 
move which required the outlay of fully $165,000. Most of 
these funds were brought direct from New York, but a portion 
of the money was obtained from Milwaukee. 

The Board of Trade formally resumed business on Monday, 
one week after the fire, and thenceforward the trading in pro- 
duce was almost equal in volume to what it had been before the 
fire, while it actually exceeded that of a year preceding. The 
following table of receipts and shipments of breadstuffs for the 
weeks ending as dated, is interesting and instructive : 


NOT. 11, "71. KOT. 4, '71. Nov. 12, '70. 

Flour, barrels, .... 35,272 33,016 36,053 

Wheat, bushels, . . . 390,538 285,502 334,840 

Corn, bushels, .... 817,904 638,907 205,956 

Oats, bushels, .... 270,367 369,856 109,995 

Rye, bushels, .... 26,474 36,883 17,445 

Barley, bushels, . 87,530 91,120 15,350 



NOT. 11, '71. Nov. 4, '7|^ NOT. 12, '70. 

Flour, barrels 10,156 19,597 45,519 

Wheat, bushels, ... 413,909 326,451 511,289 

Corn, bushels, . . 547,834 764,614 402,328 

Oats, bushels, ." . 449,825 529,505 250,504 

Rye, bushels, .... 32,999 116,126 34,474 

Barley, bushels, . . . 107,329 71,611 104,838 

These figures are a sufficient answer to the statement that the 
produce business of Chicago was ruined by the fire. And this 
has been the result, notwithstanding the fact that one-quarter 
of the storage-room, and receiving and shipping facilities, was 
burned up. The immense packing interest was scarcely touched. 
A few small packing-houses were destroyed in the North Divis- 
ion, but the great bulk of this business is carried on at the 
Stock Yards, or on the south branch, far outside the burned 

Except that the Board of Trade occupied more dingy quar- 
ters than six weeks previously, there was little difference at the 
above dates between the volume of business then and before the 
fire. An effort had been made a week after the event to cause 
a division on the question of locality, a portion of the members 
meeting in Standard Hall, on the corner of Michigan Avenue 
and Thirteenth Streets; but the difficulty was soon settled by 
the agreement to remove *back to the old site as soon as the 
edifice could be rebuilt, and the acceptance of an offer made by 
Judge Farwell to meet meanwhile in his new building on the 
east end of Washington Street tunnel, which would be ready 
for occupancy in the early part of December. 

The mercantile community was equally successful in getting 
on its feet again. It was really touching to read some of the 


telegrams sent by Eastern houses to some of the leading mer- 
chants, in the early days of their distress, before any one knew 
the extent to which the calamity would affect them. They 
took it for granted that the Chicago sufferers would commence 
anew, and had full confidence in their ability. The tenor of 
th: dispatches sent was generally about as follows: "We sup- 
pose you are burned out; order what goods you require, and 
pay wben you can ; WE WANT YOUR TRADE." Of course there 
was much of worldly wisdom in this, but it was cheering never- 
theless to those who had so lately seen the accumulations of 
years go up in smoke. Soon theje came from the East a num- 
ber of men to investigate not as- Sheriff's officers, but to learn 
the full extent of the disaster. The result of their inquiries 
was better than they had dared to hope. The great majority 
of the wholesale dealers showed themselves able to pay their 
bills in full, though many asked a short extension of time. A 
very small per centage wished to compromise at less than a 
hundred cents on the dollar ; they wanted to pay up. 

The heaviest losses were sustained by the dry goods interest ; 
they had very large stocks on hand, not less than ten million 
dollars worth, at wholesale, and those stocks were turned over 
much less readily than those in many other lines of trade, in- 
volving longer credits at the seaboard. These facts give espe- 
cial significance to the following in the New York Daily Bulle- 
tin of November 2, 1871 : 

"There are about twenty firms, representing by far the 
greater part of the indebtedness, who pay in full at maturity. 
Another firm, having probably the largest indebtedness of any 
one house there, meets its paper in full, but at an average exten- 
sion of a year and three quarters, and at six per cent, interest. One 
or two other firms, with a comparatively limited indebtedness 


get extensions averaging from nine months to a year, and pro- 
pose to pay in full, but without interest. Four of the leading 
firms, representing aggregate liabilities to the amount of 
$1,500,000, compromise at an average of sixty cents, payable 
at periods ranging from three to twelve months, without inter- 
est. This showing comprises all of the wholesale and larger 
retail Chicago houses that have suffered, and here we ha\e au 
actual loss not exceeding $600,000. Making liberal allowances 
for the possible losses that some of our jobbing houses may 
sustain through the small retailers, therefore we think that it 
may be safely estimated that $1,000,000 will pay all the actual 
losses sustained by our dry goods merchants ; and this estimate 
is entertained by our most intelligent merchants. That this is 
far below what dealers expected may be inferred from the fact 
that on the day after the fire one of our largest jobbing firms 
estimated their losses at about $1,000,000, reckoning among 
the creditors with whom they would have to make liberal com- 
promises several houses who have since announced their ability 
to meet their liabilities in full and promptly at maturity. 
The favorable settlements have had the effect of restoring con- 
fidence among merchants ; and even those most given to croak- 
ing fail to see how the disaster is likely to bring panic upon 
the dry goods interest through their direct losses. The clothing 
trade was largely represented in Chicago, but out of the eight 
or ten large houses there not one, we believe, has asked for an 
extension over any great length of time. The result shows 
the Chicago dry goods merchants to have been more solid, 
financially, than they had been supposed to be by merchants 
generally, although the fact that most of them purchased their 
goods on very short time always made them favorite customers 
in this market. Those who held encumbered real eetate are 


pinched the most by their losses ; but even those are likely to 
be able to weather the storm without sacrificing their property 
at its present depreciated value, by the aid of the liberal exten- 
sions which their creditors have readily accepted." 

And this exhibit of loss was great, in comparison with that 
of any other line of trade, or even of all combined, so far as 
Eastern debts were concerned. 

The situation was the most embarrassing for the smaller busi- 
ness men and women those who had been engaged in the 
smaller retail trade, with a capital of five thousand dollars or 
less, upon which they had traded successfully, without credit, 
in what we may call the pre-igneous period. All that they had 
was swallowed up. TVith no bank account, no credit, no loca- 
tion, they were in sorry plight, and knew not which way to 
turn for relief. In this extremity many of them held two or 
three meetings in the Court-house Square, and resolved that a 
portion of the relief fund should be placed at their service, but 
the utter impossibility of such a thing was too palpable, and 
the movement died out quietly. Some of this class obtained 
help from friends to start again in an humble way, but the ma- 
jority had not been able to re-commence as we go to press. 
Many of these were genuine objects of pity. They wanted to 
earn a legitimate livelihood, but were unable to do so, while those 
higher and lower than they, in the business scale, found little 
trouble in starting again. As a class, these were the last to 
resume business, and on them the calamity laid its heaviest 



Business on the lake-front Wooden and brick structures Loss of time 
Old customers and new friends Railroad earnings Price of lum- 
ber The fire limits How shall the city be rebuilt? 

/CONFIDENCE once restored, business men proceeded 
>-^ with renewed energy in the work of reconstruction. A 
drive through the burned district in the middle of Novem- 
ber showed very many of the edifices partially rebuilt, while 
from the sites of many more the rubbish had been cleared away 
and workmen were busy in re-arranging foundation lines, and 
preparing to raise other piles more durable, if less imposing, 
than those which had so recently succumbed to the fiery ele- 
ment. On several sites temporary wooden structures had been 
thrown up, and "shingles" announced that the occupants were 
ready to do business. These were, however, of the irregular 
order. The general current of endeavor evidently was in the 
direction of getting back permanently to the old place as 
quickly as possible. Hence, those who could not obtain quar- 
ters westward and southward of the burned district, had con- 
structed temporary wooden buildings on the lake-shore, on 
what was known as Lake Park, on the base-ball grounds to 
the northward of that tract, and on Dearborn Park. The 
whole of this area was covered with frame structures, placed 




there by permission of the Board of Public Works, the altitude 
being limited to twenty feet, and the tenure to one year. Most 
of these places were already open, and there the wholesale dry 
goods, and groceries, and boots and shoes, and iron and hard- 
ware merchants displayed their goods, as close to the old theater 
of operations as possible, yet not so close as to interfere with 
the work of reconstruction. The work of rebuilding was pro- 
ceeding with almost equal rapidity in the North Division. 

With all this, there were a great many indications of radical 
changes in the direction of business. It seemed probable that 
while the heavier wholesale houses would return to the old 
quarters, large numbers of the lesser dealers, the banks, etc., 
particularly those handling the lighter classes of goods, would 
become permanently located much farther south than hereto- 
fore, while much of the commission business would remain in 
the West Division, instead of re-concentrating in the neigh- 
borhood of South Water Street. The indication was that the 
center of the business portion of the city would be removed at 
once some five or six blocks farther southward by the fire; it 
was already spreading slowly in that direction previous to the 
date of the great conflagration. 

One noticeable feature of the situation was^the time lost in 
traveling arhong business men. Some f had settled down in the 
South Division, and others in the West, and the journey be- 
tween the two sections was a long one, while it was not of the 
most pleasant, as the streets were filled with heavily laden vehi- 
cles, and deep in mud with every shower. Then there was 
considerable inequality in prices, a fact that was not materially 
remedied by the establishment of several branch offices, by 
bankers and others, in that division in which the main office 
was not located. The effect of this scatteration was shown in 


the middle of November, by the sale of New York exchange 
between banks, on the same day in one place it sold at par, in 
another at a premium of three-quarters of one per cent. 

But there was one cheering fact amid all this; and that was 
that the merchants were all busy, the orders pouring in upon 
them from all quarters to such an extent as to tax all their 
powers to supply the demand. Many of them were actually 
bare of stock, though large consignments had been sent from 
the East; but the delivery of a considerable proportion of these 
goods was delayed by the fact that the railroads, too, were 
taxed to the utmost, and one or two lines were fairly glutted 
with merchandise. It was remarked by many of the leading 
merchants that none of their old customers in the country had 
forsaken them to try the advantages proffered by a thousand 
and one other places, each of which endeavored to seize the 
"opportunity" to make itself great by catching a few of the 
crumbs that had fallen from the table of Chicago. More than 
this: not a few remarked that buyers who had previously 
hovered between Chicago and other points, purchasing a little 
here, and a little there, now sent all their orders to the men 
who had suffered so much, and borne it so bravely. 

The following statement of the October earnings of a num- 
ber of prominent Western railroads shows the effect of the fire 
in Chicago : 


$ 459,577 


$ 475,628 



Illinois Central, 



Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, 
Milwaukee & St. Paul, .... 
Toledo, Wabash & Western, 






The character of many of the structures erected was neces- 
sarily temporary. So much lumber was used that the price of 
common descriptions had advanced more than thirty per cent, 
within a month from $15 to $20 per thousand feet though 
a part of the advance was credited to the destruction of the 
forests by the fires that raged so extensively in the lumber regions 
of Wisconsin and Michigan about the time of the Chicago dis- 
aster. So many wooden buildings had been run up that a uni- 
versal protest went out against the erection of any more, in 
those districts where other buildings would be imperiled by 
their contiguity. Then ensued a lengthy newspaper discussion 
of the case, and the general expression of sentiment that no more 
wooden buildings should be permitted to be erected within the 
boundaries of the city of Chicago. The fire limits were ex- 
tended by the Common Council after the fire. They will prob- 
ably be still further extended to include the \diole city. 

That a stringent fire ordinance is wanted in Chicago, none 
can doubt. Brick buildings are not indestructible by fire, but 
they do not feed the flames like wooden ones ; and are not only 
safer, but cheaper when the ultimate cost is taken into the 
account. No other city of the size of Chicago permits the 
safety of the whole to be jeopardized by frame structures; and, 
with an inexhaustible supply of good clay for brick-making, 
and first-class building stone in her immediate neighborhood, 
there is no necessity for permitting this suicidal policy in the 
future. With a raised grade, which permits better drainage, 
and proper regulations concerning the erection of buildings, the 
future Chicago may prove that she has learned a valuable lesson 
from adversity, and show that she had the good sense to profit 
by it. 



Particular cases Rioted buildings destroyed The Germans How the 
millionaires came out Not a vestige of a law library left Art and 
literary treasures despoiled Who lost and who gained by the fire. 

ri^HE most noteworthy buildings lying within the burnt 
-- district, and consequently falling a prey to the flames, are 
comprised in the following list: 

Churches. Trinity (Episcopal), First Presbyterian, New 
Jerusalem Temple (Swedenborg), North Presbyterian, St. 
James's (Episcopal), New England (Congregational), Unity 
(Unitarian), Grace (Methodist), Cathedral of the Holy Name 
(Roman Catholic), St. Joseph's (Roman Catholic), St. Mary's 
(Roman Catholic), Synagogue (Hebrew), St. Paul's (Universal- 
ist), Sisters of Mercy (Convent), Illinois Street (Union), St. 
Joseph's Priory. 

Public Buildings. Court-house and City Hall, Post-office, 
Water-works, Historical Hall, Chamber of Commerce, United 
States Warehouses, South Side Gas-works, North Side Gas- 
works, Armory (police station), Elm Street Hospital, Franklin 
School, Mosely School, Lincoln School, and many smaller 

Theaters, etc. Crosby's Opera-house, Hooley's Opera-house, 

McVicker's Theater, Dearborn Theater, Farwell Hall, Metro- 


|>olitan Hall, Crosby's Music Hall, German House, Turner 
Hall, Academy of Design, Wood's Museum, Olympic Theater. 

Hotels (first class). Sherman, Pacific, Tremont, Bigelow, 
Palmer, Briggs, St. James, Matteson, Revere, Metropolitan, 
Nevada, Clifton, Adams. 

Railway Buildings. Great Central Depot, Michigan South- 
ern Depot, Galena Depot, Illinois Central Freight Depot, 
Michigan Central Freight Depot, Galena Freight Depot, Gale- 
na Elevator, Wheeler's Elevator, Illinois Central Elevator 
"A," Munger & Armour's Elevator, National Elevator, Pull- 
man's Palace Car Building. 

Principal Business Blocks. Bookseller's Row, Field & Lei- 
tei's Store, Tribune Building, Merchants' Insurance Building, 
First National Bank, Union National Bank, Drake-Far well 
Block, Sturges' Building, Honore Block, McCormick's Reaper 

Among the heaviest individual losers were Messrs. Wm. B. 
Ogden, Cyrus H. McCormick, and Potter Palmer; though Mr. 
Ogden's losses would scarcely have been felt by that large capi- 
talist, had it not been for the nearly simultaneous destruction 
of immense interests in the Wisconsin pineries, in which he was 
an owner to the extent of two million dollars or more. In 
Chicago his principal losses were in railroad buildings, insur- 
ance stock, and north-side real estate, which Mr. Ogden made 
a specialty, and which was greatly depreciated in value by the 
conflagration. Mr. McCormick's losses also mounted into the 
millions, as did those of his brother, L. J. McCormick. Each 
of the McCormicks owned many stores and houses, and among 
their joint property was their extensive reaper works, which 
contained at the time two thousand finished reapers and a large 
store of unfinished machines and materials. Potter Palmer haa 


long been reputed to own a mile of front upon State Street, the 
principal thoroughfare from the river to the south end of the 
city. Upon this avenue he had already erected stores and 
hotels to the value of over three-quarters of a million of dollars, 
and the Grand Hotel, which would swell the amount to two mil- 
lions, was already well upward with its massive walls. Mr. 
Palmer also owned large interests in two or three mercantile 
establishments, and was popularly understood to. have mort- 
gaged all his real estate for carrying on his speculations. On 
the day following the fire it was currently reported and gener- 
ally believed (so prepared was the popular mind for any thing 
wonderful) that Mr. Palmer had gone crazy over his losses, and 
shot himself in a paroxysm of insanity. Nor was this impres- 
sion dispelled until, from a town in New York, whither Mr. 
Palmer had gone to attend the dying bed of a parent, came his 
clarion note : "I will rebuild my buildings at once. Put on an 
extra force, and hurry up the hotel." 

And within a few days the New York merchants received 
his telegram announcing, "The mercantile firms with which I 
am connected, either as special or general partner, will pay in 
full at maturity." 

Another severe sufferer was John B. Drake, proprietor of the 
Tremont Hotel. His furniture, silver, etc., were very rich, and 
his largest building (part of the Drake- Farwell Block) had but 
just been re-occupied, after its fatal destruction of one year ago. 
But Drake was buoyant, like the rest, and was soon ensconced 
in the biggest hotel the flames had left for him to hire, and 
had his workmen overhauling the warm bricks of the twice- 
consumed store. 

It is useless, however, to attempt any enumeration of the 
brilliant ruins which this unparalleled disaster worked. In the 


first place, they are like the goods in the auctioneer's catalogue, 
"too numerous to mention," and in the next place, they will 
not stay ruined long enough to be caught and impaled in the 
cabinet of the historian. 

There were, however, many cases of complete ruin or, at 
least, of such sweeping disaster that it will take years, and in 
some cases more years than the victim has left in him, to re- 
cover any thing like his former foothold. The merchants, as 
a rule, fared as hard as any equally numerous class. Messrs. 
Field, Leiter & Co., the heaviest dry goods dealers, saw 
2,300,000 worth of their goods dissolve before their eyes, with 
DO hope, at the moment, that they would be indemnified for 
any considerable fraction of its value. Messrs. J. V. Farwell 
and C. B. Farwell (M. C.), members of the dry goods firm 
which bears the former's name, saw 1,900,000 of their stock 
go the way a similar amount had gone just a year before. A 
score of other merchants could count up losses scarcely less than 
these. But large dealers have great credits and great facilities 
of other kinds for resuming business. It is the smaller dealers 
who have suffered, proportionately, the worst. 

Professional men suffered severely too even those whose 
homes were spared them. Many of the physicians and all of 
the lawyers had their offices within the burnt district of the 
South Division, and therein were their libraries, apparatus, and 
all their professional outfit. The legal gentlemen of Chicago 
six hundred and fifty in number lost over half a million dol- 
lars worth of law books alone all the law books, in fact, that 
there were in the city. ^ 

Operators in the great characteristic staples of Chicago trade 
grain, provisions, etc. the "commission men," or "Board 
of Trade men," did not suffer so severely. Of many of these 


the stock in trade is of an altogether too unsubstantial sort to 
suffer much by fire. These gentlemen, many of them, deal in. 
actual commodities, but a small proportion of which, fortu- 
nately, was destroyed in this wreck. Many others deal so ex- 
clusively in "options," "puts," and "calls," that a smart shower 
in the country during the summer will make or unmake them 
much more completely than ever so terrible a fire in Chicago. 
Besides this advantage, the most of your Board of Trade men 
have become so accustomed to the vicissitudes of business that 
they bear the buffet ings' of fortune as well as the prize fighter 
bears the bruises which prostrate another. So they can count 
themselves rich on Wednesdays and Saturdays, they are content 
to be "ruined" on Thursdays and Mondays, and "come up 
smiling" every time. 

A class who suffered very severely are the musicians. A 
majority of them lived in the ill-fated North Division, and lost 
their homes. Others lost the churches or the theaters where 
they principally earned their livelihood. Others lost very val- 
uable collections of books, music, and instruments; while those 
who escaped with these, had their public burned away from 
them that is, forced upon such a course of economy as should 
very seriously interfere with the revenues of music teachers and 
all such. Among the prominent musicians who fled before the 
fiery monster were Dudley Buck, the celebrated organist, who 
has gone to Boston ; Hans Balatka, the conductor, gone to Mil- 
waukee; A. J. Creswold, organist, gone to St. Louis; Alfred 
H. Pease, pianist, gone to Buffalo. 

Akin to this subject is that of art and letters generally. 
Chicago had accumulated a much greater wealth of art treas- 
ures than the world generally knew of; much greater than 
any other city of its age ever amassed. Besides the galleries 


of the Academy of Design, and the Opera-house, there were 
the private collections of Albert Crosby, which must have been 
worth $75,000; those of E. B. McCagg, S. M. Nickerson, and 
R. E. Moore, at least $50,000 each ; and those of E. H. Shel- 
don, Perry H. Smith, and others, which approximated these 
values. The gallery of Mr. McCagg contained, among its most 
valuable works, Powers' statue of Pocahontas, and Healy's 
great painting of the Conference at Hampton Roads, both of 
which were lost. Of public libraries, the city had none worth 
mourning after very bitterly. Cincinnati and St. Louis both 
eclipsed her in this respect. The collection of the Historical 
Society books, pamphlets, papers, and paintings was totally 
destroyed. It contained 17,500 bound volumes, 175,000 pam- 
phlets, and complete sets of files of the Chicago newspapers. 
This collection embraced a complete record of the history of 
Chicago from its earliest days to the present. In addition to 
the library, the society owned the original draft of the Emanci- 
pation Proclamation by President Lincoln, a complete set of 
the Chicago battle flags, the Healy Gallery of three hundred 
paintings, Diehl's Hamlet, Couture's Prodigal Son, and Volk's 
bust of Mr. Lincoln, the only one for which Mr. Lincoln ever 
gave a sitting, and the most perfect likeness of the departed 
statesman then extant. We take this memorandum chiefly 
from a pamphlet recently published by the society which there- 
in felicitates itself upon the "splendid fire-proof building" iu 
which its precious archives are stored! 

Reckoned by nationalities, our German fellow-citizens suf- 
fered the worst. They dwelt mostly upon the north side of the 
river, which the satirists were wont to call Nordseit, in their f 
honor. They loved their homes, and invested upon them their 
savings; storing them with household treasures, and investing 


them with the home comforts and luxuries in which the Ger- 
man, more than any other European, delights. Through these 
the billows of flame came sweeping on that fatal morning, a 
hundred times more ruthlessly and ruinously than the warlike 
Frenchman would have swept through other German homes 
had the tide of battle turned otherwise than it did at Worth 
and Saarbruck. And a most bloody invader, and a most piti- 
less forager, the fire-fiend proved to be ! 

The old saw that "it's an ill wind that blows nobody any 
good " did not miscarry in this memorable case. There are 
several classes who have profited materially by the general 
calamity. We have already seen how the cartmen profited, 
temporarily, during the horrible night and day of the fire; nor 
did their profits soon cease; for there was a vast deal of hauling 
and shifting of personal effects following the general upheaval 
of locations. The Relief Society had a world of carting to do, 
too, arffl the drays and express wagons never had so busy a 
month before. Teams and heavy wagons were also in feverish 
demand all winter, and the streets were so full of them as to be 
dangerous to light craft and pedestrians. Builders and their 
employes, especially brick masons, profited by the catastrophe, 
as might be expected ; also brick-makers, from Omaha to Phil- 
adelphia, who sold out their stocks at once at several dollars 
per thousand advance. Insurance agents reaped a harvest 
also, whatever may have been the hardships of their principals 
in settling for losses; for every body wanted new insurance 
after the experience of the 8th and 9th. Lawyers will get plenty 
of business at adjusting insurance, managing land-title cases, and 
other litigation growing out of the commercial earthquake caused 
by the event. The county records having been destroyed with 
the Court-house, and all legal titles to real estate having thus 


been seriously impaired, the lawyers will have plenty of jobs 
at nursing into life the faint glimmers of titles now remaining, 
and to be found chiefly in the abstract books of two or three 
firms devoted to that business. These archives were, fortu- 
nately, saved from the general wreck, and containing, as they 
do, complete chains of title, from the original Government 
patent down to the time of the latest transfer, are expected to 
yield not only much benefit to the public, but comfortable for- 
tunes to their owners. 

Indeed, it is impossible to enumerate the classes who will be 
pecuniary gainers by the great fire; but it is sufficient to say 
that, with the classes already mentioned^ the retail news men, 
some of whom made thousands of dollars during the first fort- 
night after the fire, the shop-keepers of the West Division, the 
holders of leases who sold out at large bonuses, and the dealers 
in safes (each of whom had " the only strictly fire-proof" after 
the fire), and all others similarly favored, there are not less than 
75,000 persons, out of the 300,000 remaining in Chicago after 
the fire, who will be better off next spring than if the city had 
not burned. These did not, except in a very few isolated in- 
stances, willfully extort profit out of the misfortunes of their 
fellows, but merely gained, incidentally, by having something 
to sell, labor or property, the demand for which was enhanced 
by the crisis. The opposite rule of course prevailed much more 
extensively ; and in general it may be remarked that the severest 
losers by the fire were those who had most, or had ventured 
most; those whose property was in the form of buildings, or 
stocks of goods, or investments in the future of Chicago; and 
those whose trade or industry depended upon the patronage of 
the luxurious classes. 



Oases in the desert A dwelling saved with cider Thrilling scene in the 
tunnel How the heat burnt up iron columns and left butter un- 
melted The man at the crib Human nature Good and bad phases 
Drawing the long bow. 

TTUNDREDS of incidents of the Great Conflagration might 
. -**- be related, in addition to the hundreds which have already 
been told in the narratives of eye-witnesses. Indeed, there is 
no limit to the stories, either thrilling or curious, which are 
truthfully told, illustrating the wonderfully rapid progress and 
terrible fury of the flames, or the peculiarities of human nature 
under the influence of extreme excitement. Unfortunately 
there is a limit to our space, which can not be devoted exclusively 
to these incidents at the expense of the more important events 
accompanying or following the conflagration. 

One of the most curious features of the fire was the escape 
of two houses in the midst of the burnt district of the North 
Division. One of these was the residence of Mahlon D. Ogden, 
brother of Wm. B. Ogden, and himself an extensive property 
holder. His house faces Washington Park ; but so doos Robert 
Collyer's Church, and so did other buildings now no more, which 
had the park to the windward, and had also the benefit of stone 

walls, whereas the Ogden mansion is of wood, with an elaborate 


French roof and several combustible out-buildings. The park 
in front, a mere square, had been devoted to the city by Mr. 
Ogden, many years ago; and it proved a valuable breastwork 
against the fire on this occasion, as if in acknowledgment of 
the wisdom and generosity of the gift, and as a hint to other 
landlords to do likewise. It was not, however, without a severe 
struggle that the falling brands were extinguished, and the 
mansion, with its valuable contents,- saved from destruction. 
As another curiosity, one of the elegant conservatories of Mr. 
E. B. McCagg, directly west of Mr. Ogden's house, and close 
upon Lasalle Street, went through the fire without the cracking 
of a glass or the withering of a leaf, while the other green-house 
to the leeward, and the mansion, in the center of the spacious 
grounds both seemingly more protected than the other were 

The other house mentioned is that of a policeman named 
Bellinger, which had apparently little advantage of isolation, 
but was saved by dint of much exertion on the part of its occu- 
pant, aided by a favorable freak of the flames. Bellinger was 
fortunate enough to- have a small quantity of water on hand 
when the supply from the Water-works gave out. He tore up 
a section of sidewalk, and determined to shed the last drop 
not of his blood, but of his water, which, in such a crisis, was 
still more precious in defense of his castle. This he did to 
the best advantage, that is, reserving it until a spark alighted 
on the shingles. He stood his ground manfully until the red 
demon approached threateningly near, and then he redoubled 
his vigilance. Of this there was need, for now the sparks and 
brands fell thicker and faster, and his scant ladlefuls of water 
hissed and went up in puifs of steam as they struck the blister- 
ing shingles. By and by the last ladleful was gone, and the 


flames had not yet ceased to rage around him. If he only had 
a little more water a bucketful merely he thought he could 
save a home for his wife and little ones; the home which he 
had been struggling so long to build foi\thcm. The wish did 
him honor, and the divine source of it sent him a thought which 
proved the wish's realization. In the cellar was a barrel of 
cider, which he had lately got in to drink with the winter's 
nuts and apples. He rightly judged that the red guest who 
now threatened his house with a visit wanted that cider worse 
than he did. To speak in plainer and more policeman-like 
terms, he knew that cider would quench fire as well as water, 
and that his cider was what was wanted on the roof at that 
time. He called to the family to draw and bring to him all the 
contents of the cask. It was done. The libation was poured 
out (in the right spots), and the home was saved. 

There was a thrilling scene in the Washington Street tunnel. 
About three o'clock in the morning of Monday, while the tun- 
nel was filled with people rushing wildly in both directions, the 
gas-works blew up, stopping immediately the supply of gas, 
and causing total darkness throughout the long and narrow 
passage. The situation was a terrible one. The sudden dark- 
ness, the great excitement under which all the persons were 
laboring, and the fact that many were bearing articles of furni- 
ture, etc., with which it would be dangerous to collide, all 
served to increase the danger of a panic such as should inevita- 
bly result in the crushing and killing of many persons per- 
haps in detaining them until all should be suffocated by a blast 
of fiame and smoke. But some one with a quick judgment 
and stentorian voice cried out, " Keep to the right ! " and so 
every one did, the word " to the right ! " being passed along 


from mouth to mouth. But there was not much more going 
through the tunnel to the eastward that night. 

The fact that building stone was every-where baked and 
blislered into mere chips, even where it was used only for side- 
walks or foundations, attests to the fearful heat which prevailed 
cvery-where. But in the interior of buildings the fervor was 
unprecedented ; as witness the melting of the great Court-house 
bell, the burning up of many safes, so that they could be punctured 
with a single touch of the crowbar, and the fusion of metals 
generally. In the stores of Messrs. Heath & Milligan, on Ran- 
dolph Street, filled with paints and oils, the temperature was 
above 3000 degrees, as shown by the melting of white lead 
and other stores requiring that degree of heat to fuse them. 
How much hotter it became, there was no index to determine; 
but this is known : that large masses of iron, such as iron col- 
umns, and the framework of a large elevator,jwere literally burned 
up, so that no trace of them could be found : but (what will 
strike some unthinking ones as curious) the little wire ropes 
which were used to work the elevator were not seriously in- 
jured. Iron wire is, owing to the peculiar process by which 
it is spun, one of the least fusible or combustible of substances. 

The contents of hundreds of safes were utterly consumed. 
Indeed, this was the rule with all safes not in vaults ; while all 
fairly built brick vaults brought every thing intrusted to them 
out safely. A box of matches and linen coat came out of the Tri- 
bune vault as good as new, and a jar of butter preserved its integ- 
rity completely through three or four days of fire in the vault of 
Ihe Fidelity Deposit Company, without once lapsing into the 
melting mood. This fire has shown that brick is the most fire- 
proof of building materials; that brick and air are the only 
trustworthy non-conductors of heat, and that iron is, by reason 


of its tendency to swell and warp, a bad material to use for 
floors, girders or lintels, in the erection of large buildings. 

The " Man at the Crib " is a character dear to public esteem 
in Chicago, though not one in ten thousand of the citizens 
has ever seen him. They all know that he is always there in 
his wave-washed prison, two miles out into the lake, watching 
the mouth of the tunnel from New Year to New Year. On 
this night his vigils were directed toward the atmosphere above 
instead of the water below, for even there his view of the 
burning city, which would otherwise have been splendid, was 
shut out first by black smoke and then by the driving shower of 
fire brands and livid coals which were falling about him, three 
miles from their place of starting. The man had one advantage 
over the inhabitants of the city on that dread night. There 
was no danger of his water supply giving out ; and he used it 
freely, to subdue the flames from which even his lonely, iso- 
lated perch was not exempt. If the house had burned down, 
even to the water's edge, the accident would not have affected 
the water supply ; but it would have been uncomfortable for 
the " Man at the Crib," unless he could have got his boat out 

As already remarked, one of the most interesting features of 
the conflagration was the suddenly clear insight which it af- 
forded of the innermost recesses of men's hearts. If a man was 
a coward, or a selfish knave, he could not conceal it fiom the 
gaze of his fellow-men on that dread night ; while if he was a 
hero (as many and many proved to be, let it be said to the 
credit of humanity !) his sterling metal shone clear and bright 
in the glare and heat of the all-assaying flames. Nor did the 
gentility or social standing of the man always afford the true 
clue to the result. The Rev. Robert Collyer told in the hear- 


ing of the writer, that during the small hours of Monday 
morning, while all was panic and terror, and women and chil- 
dren and invalids were in danger, and heroes were developing 
out. of simple scftils who had never suspected themselves of he- 
roism before, he saw "the biggest man in the city" scampering 
away at his best pace and exclaiming, "It's all going to burn 
up, and I 'm going to get out of this as soon as I can." "And 
so raying," added Mr. Collyer, " he kept on running toward 
the north, and for aught I know he is running yet." 

The opposite kind of cases are more pleasant to contemplate. 
One of the city journals puts such a one on record in this lan- 
guage : 

"On Monday evening, a knot of men, from 35 to 40 years 
of age, stood on Michigan Avenue, watching the fire as it 
fought its way southward in the teeth of the wind. They 
were looking grimy and dejected enough, until another, a broad- 
shouldered man of middle height, with a face that might have 
belonged to one of the Cheeryble brothers shining through the 
over-spreading dust and soot, approached them, and clapping 
one of their number on the shoulder, exclaimed cheerfully: 
'Well, James, we are all gone together. Last night I was 
worth a hundred thousand, and so were you. Now where are 
we?' 'Gone,' returned James. Then followed an interchange, 
from which it appeared that the members of the group were 
young merchants, worth from $50,000 to 150,000. After this, 
said the first speaker, ' Well, Jim, I have a home left, and my 
family are safe; I have a barrel of flour, some bushels of pota- 
toes and other provisions laid in for the winter; and now, Jim, 
I'm going to fill my house to-night with these poor fellows,' 
turning to the sidewalks crowded with fleeing poor, 'chuck full 
from cellar to garret!' The blaze of the conflagration revealed 


something worth seeing in that man's breast. Possibly the 
road to his heart may have been choked with rubbish before. 
If so, the fire had burned it clear, till it shone like one of the 
streets of burnished gold which he will one day* walk." 

A few items are worthy of noting down for their personal 
interest merely. Col. John Hay writes to the New York 
Tribune concerning Mr. Robert Lincoln, son of the late Presi- 
dent: "He entered his law office about daylight on Monday 
morning, after the flames had attacked the building, opened the 
vault, and piled upon a table cloth the most valuable papers 
then slung the pack over his shoulder, and escaped amid a 
shower of falling firebrands. He walked up Michigan Avenue 
with his load on his back, and stopped at the mansion of John 
Young Scammon, where they breakfasted with a feeling of per- 
fect security. Lincoln went home with his papers, and before 
noon the house of Scammon was in ruins, the last which was 
sacrificed by the lake side." Mr. Scammon's house, it may be 
mentioned, was iu the famous Terrace Row, spoken of in Mr. 
White's sketch (Chap. V.), as were also the residences of Ex- 
Lieutenant-Governor Bross, of the Tribune, and S. C. Griggs, 
of the book trade. It was a row of Illinois-marble fronts, five 
lofty stories in height, and eclipsing Buckingham Palace in ele- 
gance, according to the Rev. Newman Hall, of London. 

Among those who fled from the fire was Hon. Lyman 
Trumbull of the United States Senate, who escaped, with a 
trunk full of clothing only, from the Clifton House, where he 
was boarding. There were many theatrical and musical exhib- 
itors at the hotels when the fire came along and settled their 
bills for them. Theodore Thomas .and his famous orchestra 
were at the St. James Hotel, and escaped with their instruments 
only. Mrs. Lander, the tragedienne, was also among the fugi- 


tives. Mrs. Abby Sage (McFarland) Richardson, whose griefs 
and grievances have made her name familiar to the country, 
was sojourning in the city at the time, and intending to become 
a permanent resident ; but the fire altered her determination in 
this regard, and she fled to New York. 

Many celebrated persons own property in Chicago, and lost 
more or less, according to its location; for instance, General 
Buckner and Ex-Governor Magoffin, of Kentucky, among 
noted Southerners, and Madame Parepa Rosa, Mile. Nilsson, 
Mr. Joseph Jefierson, and Mr. Ole Bull, among musical and 
dramatic celebrities. The two ladies named, nevertheless, con- 
tributed liberally to the relief of those made destitute by the 

So far as wonderful and startling incidents go, it would have 
been better (at least more thrilling to the reader), if this 
account could have been made out on the week of the fire ; for 
then a thousand blood-curdling stories were passing current, 
which have since been proved to be without foundation. Here 
is one of them : 

"A wealthy railroad man, on the north side, was holding a 
party at his residence when the conflagration commenced. 
When his house became endangered by the fire drawing near, 
he dispatched his wife and children to a place of safety, and 
'then commenced with a select few a bacchanalian revel. 
When the fire became unbearable, the party moved to the front 
steps of the mansion with their bottles and glasses. There 
they continued the horrible carnival, their demoniac yells and 
wild laughter becoming louder and more boisterous as the fire 
became more threatening. On the south side, the distilleries 
were running their liquors from the buildings. The gutters 
were full of the raw spirits, while men were flocking to them 


with every conceivable manner of vessels, some even wallow- 
ing in the liquor. In some places the fire communicated with 
the alcohol, and the street became instantly a burning sheet of 
flame. In some cases the men drank freely and immoderately, 
sunk into a drunken torpor, and only awoke from their insen- 
sibility to find themselves irretrievably enveloped in flames." 

The writer of the above has been dubbed the champion liar 
by some of the newspapers; yet he is altogether excelled by a 
writer in an Illinois newspaper, who requires his readers to 
swallow (and in all probability they did) the following yarn: 

"The scene now manifested beggars all description. Noth- 
ing like it since the burning of Moscow. The only elevator 
standing is burning underneath its pier. The fire is still burn- 
ing and spreading west. Eight hundred persons were smoth- 
ered to death in Washington Street tunnel. Thirteen hundred 
prisoners in the Bridewell were left to suffocate: not one 
escaped! Seventeen men were shot who were caught firing 
buildings. The whole has been the act of an incendiary clique. 
People are dying for want of water; nothing but the lake re- 
mains with which they can quench their thirst, and that is cov- 
ered with dead bodies, oil, filth, etc. Fifteen thousand people 
to-night lay outdoors without blankets to shelter them. The 
Journal, Tribune, and Times establishments are among the 
ruins. There is not a newspaper left in the city. Potter 
Palmer's loss is over four millions of dollars. Every Insur- 
ance Company in the United States is ruined, and will not be 
called on to pay the losses. What the people want is some- 
thing to keep them from starving. The towns along the Illi- 
nois Central Railroad are doing nobly. Can not you get up a 
car-load and send them to-day. Any thing will do that can be 
eaten, There is not one hundred buildings left within three 


miles of the Court-house in any direction. The loss of lives is 
now estimated at between 9000 and 10,000." 

We can perhaps excuse this writer's enthusiasm in killing 
off thirteen hundred persons in the Bridewell (two miles to 
windward of Chicago), and eight hundred more in the tunnel, 
as his object was obviously to excite sympathy, bring in the 
provisions, and (incidentally) to furnish something relishable 
for the patrons of his paper; but he ought, in the interest of 
the public health, to have forborne to strew the surface of the 
lake with "dead bodies, oil, etc.," thereby injuring greatly the 
quality of the only obtainable water supply ! 

In the art of drawing the long bow, the clergymen were 
scarcely behind the newspaper writers. The Rev. Mr. Eddy 
went from Chicago to Indianapolis, whence he spread a fear- 
fully exaggerated story of the situation in Chicago; and in 
Baltimore he stood up in the pulpit and told his hearers (before 
asking them to contribute their money) how he " saw the black- 
enecl corpses of robbers and incendiaries hanging to gibbets," 
whereas no such hanging took place, except in the imagination 
of the Rev. Mr. Eddy and other persons of excitable tempera- 
ments. One of the several "histories" of the conflagration, 
written by a Chicago clergyman of great piety, treats the 
hangings as actual facts, and solemnly asserts that five hundred 
children were born on the streets and prairies during the night 
of Monday. This last statement is not so bad an exaggeration 
as the others; for it is a matter of fact, or at least founded 
upon a very intelligent estimate, that more than one hundred 
women were brought to labor by the excitement and exertions 
of those fearful nights. Doctor Paul, who himself had six 
cases (another physician having eight), estimates the whole 
number at one hundred and fifty. 



Remarkable revelation Scripture for the occasion Married in the smoke 
of the flames How Robert Collyer and his people fought for their 
church Grandmother's rocking-chair How a coal-dealer saved his 
pile Fire as a curative agency More about the degree of heat 
The divorce business, etc. 

AS a curiosity, this incident, which is strictly authentic, is 
worth recording : Among the ruins of the Western News 
Company's establishment, where an immense stock of periodi- 
cals and books was reduced to ashes, there was found a single 
leaf of a quarto Bible, charred around the edges. It contained 
the first chapter of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, which opens 
with the following words : " How doth the city sit solitary that 
Avas full of people ! how is she become as a widow ! she that was 
great among the nations and princess among the provinces, how 
is she become tributary! She weepeth sore in the night, and 
her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath 
none to comfort her." And that was the only fragment of lit- 
erature saved from the News Company's great depot. 

In elaboration of this idea, the Chicago Times commenced its 
first issue after the fire with this scriptural quotation, which 
many will say was written with a prescience of Chicago's ca- 
lamity : 

. . . Th merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abun- 
dance of her delicacies. 


How much she has glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much sor- 
row and torment give her; for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen and 
am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. 

. . . She shall be utterly burned with fire. . . . 

And the kings of the earth . . . shall bewail her, and lament for 
her when they shall see the smoke of her burning, 

Standing afar off for fear of her torment, and saying, Alas, alas, that 
great city, that mighty city ! for in one hour is thy judgment come. 

And the merchants of the earth shall weep, and mourn over her, for no 
man buyeth their merchandise any more : 

The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, 
and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyne wood, and 
all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, 
and of brass, and iron, and marble : 

And cinnamons, and odors, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, 
and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and 
chariot?, and slaves, and souls of men ; 

. . . The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, 
shall stand afar off ... weeping and wailing, 

And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, 
and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and 
pearls ! 

For in one hour so great riches is come to naught And every ship- 
master, and all the company in ship, and sailors, and as many as trade by 
sea, stood afar off, 

And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city 
is like unto this great city! 

And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, say- 
ing, Alas, alas, that great city wherein were made rich all that had ships 
in the sea by reason of her costliness ! for in one hour is she made deso- 

It may be added, as another incident for the curious, that 
while the great disaster increased greatly the number of births 
and deaths, it seriously diminished the number of marriages 
during the week. Indeed, it might be supposed that at such a 


time of general distress, there would be neither marrying nor 
giving in marriage ; yet such was not entirely the case. The 
books of the County Clerk show that twenty licenses were 
issued during the week commencing with the 8th the usual 
number per week being between ninety and a hundred. The 
reader can readily see that one effect of a common misfortune 
would be to bring all its victims closer together in feeling, as 
well as in fact; and that the natural tendency among betrothed 
pairs would be to become united at once. It seems that this 
tendency prevailed over the drawback of reduced means in the 
proportion of cases named. Among the twenty grooms was the 
son of Chicago's most widely-known divine; and it is no dis- 
paragement of the bride to record that, her bridal trousseau 
having been seized by the flames, along with other more valua- 
ble, but perhaps not more valued possessions, she "stood up" in 
a calico frock, and depended upon friends who were not among 
the " burnt out " for other articles of feminine wear essential to 
the nuptial occasion. 

There were great quantities of movables lost during the 
flight of the people from the pursuing element, which were not 
ultimately consumed. Some of this property was carried off 
by thieves or by treacherous carters, with intent to appropriate 
it to their own uses; some of it left somewhere, the flustered 
and flurried owners knew not where; some of it was taken 
care of by kindly-disposed persons, who saved the property, 
but lost all trace of its owner. Of all such property there was 
a depot soon established at the Central Police Station, where 
were collected a great store of goods wanting owners; some of 
them brought in voluntarily, and others (and much the greater 
part) ferreted out by the police. Within three weeks nearly a 
million dollars' worth of movable property was thus accumu- 


lated and ultimately restored to its owners. Of course this Bu- 
reau of Missing Property was diligently visited by all who had 
reason to hope for any good out of it ; and some of the scenes, 
as the seekers for that which was lost came upojj the object of 
their search, were very interesting. Every article had become 
trebly valuable now; for, in the first place, hard times had come 
on, and possessions of any sort were none too plenty; and, in 
the next place, each article recovered was a tie which bound its 
owner to the dear old home, the dear old times, and the dear 
old Chicago. 

A single incident will illustrate this. Two ladies enter the 
rooms, one of them being in quest of certain lost trunks of 
wearing apparel, etc. They pass through the several rooms in 
a tedious quest, relieved only by feminine satisfaction in inspect- 
ing other people's property. Of this there was an endless va- 
riety. There were oil paintings, trunks, bedsteads, bureaus, car- 
pets, gamblers' tools, chairs, sewing-machines, clocks, clothing, 
silverware, boots and shoes, books, sofas, etageres, billiard-balls, 
guns, and almost every thing conceivable. The place resem- 
bled a magnified pawn-shop, or a demoralized bazaar. At length 
the lady finds that for which she was searching, and goes to the 
office to sign the necessary papers and receive her certificate. 
Meanwhile the other lady continues her stroll through the 
building. Suddenly a glad cry sounds in the furniture-room, 
"Great heavens! that's grandma's rocking-chair!" is heard 
from the lady, and in the next instant she had picked up the 
chair and hugged it in her arms. It was an ordinary-looking 
chair, with rockers, the paint worn off in many places, with 
here and there a bit of iron to brace the joints together; but 
it had been in the family over seventy years. 

" Streaks of good luck " seemed to be rare on this bitter oc- 


casion when all fell together; yet they were not altogether want- 
ing, as for instance: A few weeks before the Great Conflagration, 
there appeared in the morning papers the report of an incipient 
fire in Mr. Holbrook's coal-yard. The loss was but nominal, 
but the mere fact of a fire in a coal-yard led to an investiga- 
tion, and the result was that Mr. Holbrook and several other 
dealers were satisfied the fire was the result of spontaneous 
combustion. One of the dealers present, a Mr. Pratt, having 
thought the matter over, determined, after consultation, to take 
out policies for insurance in the sum of $45,000. Coal- dealers 
very seldom insure their stock; but Mr. Pratt argued that if 
Holbrook's yard caught fire from spontaneous combustion, 
Pratt's yard was liable to the same calamity; hence the insur- 
ance. Then came the great fire, and Mr. Pratt's was one of the 
first coal-yards consumed. He now finds himself the holder of 
policies in Eastern and foreign companies, and will undoubtedly 
receive fully $30,000 in payment of his losses. Very singu- 
larly, he was the only dealer in the city who was insured. 

Per contra, there were numerous narrow escapes from good 
luck, if the expression be allowable. There was, for instance, 
the heaviest firm in the diamond and jewelry line. They had 
always insured in Eastern companies, especially the ./Etna, to 
the exclusion of Western. Quite lately, however, the head of 
the firm had been persuaded to relinquish his staunch adherence 
to Eastern insurance, and patronize home institutions. Then 
the fire came on, and his insurance was burned up with his 
other effects. The safes in which the silver and jewels were 
placed, proved to be no more protection than as if they nad been 
pasteboard. The elaborately carved ornaments of gold were 
reduced to poor little nuggets, and the many trays full of costly 
diamonds were found to have their " life burnt out of them," 


as the jewelers say ; that is, their brilliancy was gone, and they 
were as worthless as glass. The diamond is pure carbon, and 
quite susceptible to heat, though impervious to most other 
destructive influences. 

A paragraph was given, in the preceding chapter, to the 
illustration of the terrible heat which prevailed every-where 
within the. range of the fire. One fact, which perhaps shows 
more forcibly than any other what a fiery furnace was the whole 
atmosphere, is this : that the contents of some safes which were 
taken into the open street were badly singed. It is also 
remarkable, that the massive stone work of the Lasalle Street 
tunnel, standing in the middle of a broad street, was much 
chipped and charred by the heat clear into the arched passage; 
while the iron railing around the unenclosed portion of that 
thoroughfare was so twisted and torn as to show that it must 
have been at a white heat during the worst of the tire. All 
this heat must have been derived by radiation from the build- 
ings thirty feet away. 

Mr. Fred. Law Olmsted, a well-known architect of New 
York, writing on this subject, remarks : " Besides the extent 
of the ruins, what is most remarkable is the completeness with 
which the fire did its work, as shown by the prostration of the 
ruins and the extraordinary absence of smoke stains, brands, 
and all debris, except stone, brick, and iron, bleached to an 
ashy pallor. The distinguishing smell of the ruins is that of 
charred earth. In not more than a dozen cases have the four 
walls of any of the great blocks, or of any buildings, been left 
standing together. It is the exception to find even a single 
corner or chimney holding together to a height of more than 
twenty feet. It has been possible, from the top of an omnibus, 
to see men standing on The ground three miles away, acros* 


what was the densest, loftiest, and most substantial part of the 
city. Generally, the walls seem to have crumbled in from top 
to bottom, nothing remaining but a broad low heap of rubbish 
in the cellar so low as to be overlooked from the pavement. 
Granite, all sandstones, and all limestones, whenever fully 
exposed to the south-west, are generally flaked and scaled, and 
blocks, sometimes two and three feet thick, are cracked through 
and through." 

The fatal effects of the conflagration on human life, and its 
influence in inducing disease, have already been referred to. 
It is also noticeable that many permanent cures were effected 
by the excitement attendant upon the fire aided perhaps, in 
some cases, by the greater necessity for work after the fire. A 
friend of the writer of this chapter bears personal testimony to 
this. He was suffering from a painful local inflammation, which 
had refused for several weeks to yield to medical treatment. 
The fire came on, and the disease was among the things miss- 
ing when the debris was cleared away. Having seen similar 
instances in the army, when even such diseases as incipient 
fever have been cured by a battle, we were not surprised at 
this. The physicians report numerous cases of chronic debility, 
whether local or general, cured by the extraordinary stimulus 
of the occasion. As a bad effect of the same stimulus, many 
went crazy over the event. Of this, two notable instances are 
those of an architect and engineer, and of a safe-dealer, named 
Harris. The latter rushed to the telegraph office, ordered an 
appalling number of safes from the manufactory, and hired the 
ruins of an immense church to exhibit them in, before his 
lunacy was discovered. 

The divorce business, for which Chicago has become some- 
what famed, was revived the moment the Equity Courts re- 


sumcd their sessions ; but the credit for this promptitude is due 
rather to the enterprise of the divorce shysters than to the 
activity of married pairs in promoting this branch of industry, 
for, although the lawyers were promptly out with their adver- 
tisements, announcing "divorces legally obtained without pub- 
licity," and "no fee unless decree is obtained," the people did 
not seem to respond with any enthusiasm, and it it is worthy 
of note that even after five or six weeks had elapsed, the 
applications for divorces did not reach more than one-fifth the 
number before the fire. Perhaps this paragraph properly be- 
longs in the chapter of benefits derived from the disaster. 



Origin of the fire Why it spread so fast and far Was there incendia- 
rism? The Communist story Chicago architecture Chicago admin- 
istration Operations of the Fire Department. 

"TN the first chapter of this history of the Conflagration, we 
*- attributed the origin of the fire to the upsetting of a lamp 
in a cow-barn. No investigation made since that chapter was 
written has disproved the theory therein set forth ; nor has any 
revelation of any achievements or exploits of the Fire Depart- 
ment on the night of the great fire demonstrated the propriety 
of altering any thing which we have written or implied con- 
cerning that force. On the contrary, a statement of the Marshal 
of the Fire Department, taken with a view to setting him and 
his aids right in this history, has but confirmed the opinion that 
the efforts of the department on the night in question were tardy 
in being got on foot, and of the most weak and desultory char- 
acter thereafter. 

It is a sufficient commentary upon the energy and force of the 
Police and Fire Commission of Chicago to mention that at the 
date of furnishing this chapter to the press some five weeks 
after the Conflagration no investigation has been made, or or- 
dered, into the conduct of the Fire and Police Departments on 

that occasion; no recommendations submitted; nobody removed 


for cowardice or incompetency ; nobody promoted for bravery 
or efficiency. 

The causes which contributed to the rapid spread and fearful 
extent of the Chicago Conflagration have already been hinted 
at in various places in this volume. They may be summarized 
thus : 

1. The city was carelessly, and, with the exception of a single 
square mile, very badly built. 

2. The weather at the time was remarkably dry. 

3. The wind blew a steady gale, in the most fatal direction, 
during the whole prevalence of the fire. 

4. The Fire Department, though well equipped, is not well 

5. The Fire Department was particularly demoralized on the 
night of the fire. 

These are, it will be seen, reasons enough to insure the de- 
struction of the city ; and one had but to know them, and to sup- 
ply the initiatory outbreak of flame in the De Koven-street quar- 
ter, to predict the precise programme of the occasion. There 
was no need to kindle an incendiary fire, for scarcely a day 
elapsed without, at the least, three or four outbreaks, and some 
of them were almost certain to happen in the fatal spot. The 
only points lacking to enable one to predict the fire beforehand 
as well as we have all been doing it since, were those hinging 
on the question, how great a degree of heat could be produced 
by so many burning buildings, with such a monstrous blow- 
pipe to furnish the oxygen and^such a mighty bellows to waft 
the brands onward? The data for answering these questions 
had never been furnished by any previous conflagration. They 
will be lacking no longer. 

As to (1), the architecture of Chicago, it may be remarked, 


that while it had been of late years noted for its aiiy elegance 
and its appearance of massiveness, it had been open to serious 
objection, which the city press had not neglected to make pub- 
lic, on account of the profuse use of flimsy ornamentation about 
the cornices and windows, and the inflammable character of 
much of the roofing. It is also a fact that many of the most 
showy and massive-looking front walls were nothing but thin 
brick ones, veneered with the Chicago marble. This marble 
(a limestone which barely misses being marble) is, like other 
limestones, more pervious to heat than brick, sandstone, or 
granite. But when the storm of fire had blown over, and the 
completeness of the ruin was ascertained, even including all the 
buildings which had dispensed with show for the sake of 
strength and the fire-proof quality, it was difficult to say that 
any kind of buildings would have stayed the flames after they 
had gained such terrible impetus in traversing the mile lying 
between the historical cow-stable and the well-built portion of 
the city. 

At all events, the fault which tempted Chicago's fate, lies 
more with the Chicago public than with Chicago architects. 
The temptation in Chicago to build of lumber was very great; 
and such was the hurry of every body to get under cover and 
.commence producing revenue; and such the desire of every 
citizen to see the city grow, and productive enterprise to build 
up, that these tinder-boxes were allowed to be placed wherever 
it happened even in the most dangerous places. As the 
writer of this had the opportunity of saying in one of the daily 
journals, a few days after the fire: "We have been too good- 
natured toward those who have, to save a few hundred dollars 
of their expenses, persistently kept in jeopardy the safety of the 
whole community, by maintaining in the heart of the city great 


numbers of the most inflammable structures. It was the thou- 
sand or so of dry pine shanties and rookeries between the lake 
and the river, and south of Monroe Street, which did the busi- 
ness for Chicago on that terrible night. With these huddled 
around them, and emitting vast clouds of burning brands, which 
the hurricane forced into e^ery cranny and through every win- 
dow, the fine stone rows of the avenues and of the principal 
streets could no more resist the raging element than the chaff 
can resist the whirlwind. There may have been, apd doubtless 
were, occasional weaknesses in the construction of the later- 
built stores and public edifices a too fragile cornice, or win- 
dows too much exposed but the fact that buildings for which 
every thing possible to architecture had been done to make them 
fire-proof went with the rest, tells plainly that the only fault 
the grand fault to which the general destructiveness is trace- 
able was in allowing the fire so much material on which to 
feed until it became too great for human power to resist. We 
had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in spasmodic 
efforts to exorcise the fire fiend from our limits, and yet we 
were all the while furnishing him with the material and the 
space with which to organize for his deadly work. We had been 
industriously feeding him on the only rations whereon he could 
thrive." So far as the question of building is concerned, it 
may be added that the fire at De Koven Street needed only to 
have been .started a mile further to the south and west, among 
the rookeries which there abound, to have swept away nearly 
all the West Division, as well as the North and South. 

The wind and the drought were the dispensations of Provi- 
dence, and were sent in accordance with the All-wise plan and 
the good and beneficent laws of nature. It rested with the 


people to fortify themselves against any such disastrous conse- 
quences of these laws not as defying God, but as using dili- 
gently the intelligence which He has given them to protect 
themselves against such disaster. If Chicago had been de- 
stroyed by an earthquake or a volcano, or any other convulsion 
of the elements which could not be foreseen or provided against, 
it might then have been called a special judgment of Heaven, 
whether of obvious or occult purport; but, coming as it did, in 
a way which made the only wonder why it had not come 
before, it can not be construed otherwise than as a timely 
reminder of the power of God, working through the elements, 
and as a hint to fear Him, love our fellow-men, subdue our 
pride, and make our walls of brick, eschewing wooden roofs. 
A fire-proof building is perhaps as proper a monument to the 
superiority of the Divine power as any we can raise. 

As to (4) and (5) the Fire Department : The principal offi- 
.cers of this body are appointed to their places through political 
influence, which is perhaps saying enough to indicate the 
degree and direction of their talents. They are the creatures 
of one of those independent boards for which Chicago is dis- 
tinguished, and it would not be practicable for any Mayor or 
Council, however faithful, to ferret out and dismiss from the 
roster any officer not actually guilty of a misdemeanor. It 
was said, after the fire, that the Chief Marshal of the depart- 
ment was under the influence of liquor on the night of the fire; 
but careful inquiry has convinced us that this charge is untrue. 
It is a fact that many were the worse for their potations at the 
time the alarm sounded ; it being the habit with many to cele- 
brate all great fires, like that of the previous evening, by a 
good thorough drunk. As a consequence of this and the 
fatigue from the night's work (which should have been slept 


off during Sunday), the men were not in condition to do good 
service on Sunday night brave and willing though they were 
on most occasions. 

After the steamers arrived on the ground and got, at length, 
a stream or two on the fire, there was nothing done but to " fire 
and fall back" as the flames advanced. The Marshal, Wil- 
liams, was in front of the enemy with a part of his force, while 
his first assistant, Shanks, was in the rear. The latter was, of 
course, powerless to do any good in that position. Neither of 
these men saw or communicated with the other during the 
whole progress of the fire. The Marshal and his force kept 
falling back, losing a section of hose here and an engine there. 
It was a running fight, like the retreat of Pope from the Rap- 
pahannock. Nothing was done toward heading off a conflagra- 
tion on the east side of the river, until the buildings near the 
Armory (Adams Street) were actually seen to be in flames. 
Then the Marshal pulled up and hastened, by a roundabout 
route, across the river, where the same story was repeated, viz : 
Lead on a stream here, to be driven out presently by the heat, 
then try it yonder for a few minutes, give it up, then dash off 
and play away, as if at random, upon some building further on. 
It was somewhere near the Sherman House that the contest 
was given up, except that efforts were made, during the day, to 
check the flames as they ate their way back toward the wind, 
in the vicinity of the broad avenues. At Congress Street, a 
few houses were blown up, but no one will say, from looking 
at the situation, the place, and the time, that much was gained 
by the operation. 

The Water-works went before four in the morning of Mon- 
day. It was a sin of some one's that a wooden roof covered 
that precious ark of the city's safety ; yet it is doubtful whether, 


at or after the hour named, much could have been done toward 
checking the progress of the flames, or preserving any particular 
buildings, which was omitted by reason of a lack of water at 
the hydrants. The district burned subsequent to that hour 
was near enough to the river or to the lake to have been saved 
by water from these sources, if engines could have been 
brought to bear, or if any thing could have saved what lay in 
the track of the then irresistible, insatiate flames. But, at 
least, the panic and privation which ensued among the people 
of the city would have been spared, but for the loss of the 

Various theories were set up, chiefly by persons anxious to 
produce a sensation or to fill up a column, concerning the 
reason for the unprecedentedly wide spread of the devastation. 
One of these was invented by a morning paper in Chicago, 
which purported to be the confession of a member of the Inter- 
national Society a Communist of Paris, and one of a gang 
deputed to burn Chicago. The motive for such a deed did not 
appear to be sufficient, nor was the story free from marks 
which betrayed its origin in the brain of a professional newspa- 
per writer. Another theory, equally ridiculous, was that the 
stone used in Chicago buildings was impregnated with petro- 
leum. This theory was founded upon certain Munchausenish 
stories of New York reporters, and upon a statement by Prof. 
Silliman, that a certain stone near Chicago, used to some extent 
in building, contains large quantities of petroleum. But it so 
happens that the only edifice built of the "oil-bearing" stone 
(the Second Presbyterian Church) is the best preserved ruin 
anywhere in the vicinity, while Potter Palmer's immense store, 
of Vermont marble and iron, which stood near by, had scarcely 
one stone upon another on the second day after the fire. 


That there may have been cases of incendiarism which helped 
on the conflagration is not improbable. If so, they were the 
result of the excitement and demoralization produced by the 
terrible event, rather than of any preconcerted plan. It is not 
impossible that the building near the Water- works, from which 
the roof of the engine-house caught, was set on fire by an 
incendiary, or by accident, independent of the general confla- 
gration. Some circumstances would seem to indicate this; yet 
the people who went through the fire and witnessed its awful 
phenomena believe, almost without exception, that this fire also 
was set by a brand from the main conflagration. 

Some of the grounds for anticipating disastrous conflagra- 
tions, and for providing against them by all available means, 
may be found from the following table of fires occurring in 
Chicago during the eight years preceding 1871 : 

Tear. Fires. Losses. Insurance. 




$272 500 


.... 243 

1 216 466 

941 692 


. . . 315 

2 487 973 

1 646 445 



4,215 332 

3 427 288 



3 138617 

1 956 851 




841 392 



2 305 595 

2 052 971 





This enormous total of losses includes only those, sustained 
by the insurance companies of New York and Hartford, leav- 
ing out of the reckoning the home companies, the Cincinnati, 
Cleveland, Buifalo, Albany, and Boston concerns, and the few 
foreign companies which have consented to take risks in Chi- 
cago. The city has the worst fire record of any large city iu 



What they said on Sunday morning, October 8 Prophecies suddenly ful- 
filled "Old and tried" insurance companies tried too much The 
episode in the Tribune office A "red hot" newspaper Cheery 
counsel in trouble How the journals rose from their ashes Curiosi- 
ties of advertising". 

FT is not amiss to devote a chapter to the record of the news- 
-*- papers of Chicago, in connection with the Great Confla- 
gration. They are such powerful, and altogether noteworthy 
establishments, and represent so truly the ambition, the energy, 
and the progressiveness for which the people of Chicago are 
distinguished, that they bear to the aggregate of the city's con- 
stituencies at least the proportions which a chapter of this book 
bears to the whole. Nowhere in the world does the growing 
power of the newspaper press, and the growing disposition to 
use that power independently for good ends, find better illustra- 
tion than in Chicago; and when the fire came and tried the 
stuff of which all of us were made, the newspapers went through 
the crucible with the rest ; and not only did they prove pure 
metal, but they evinced the qualities of the true philosopher's 
stone, transmuting into gold that which seemed to be but ashes; 
or what is more to the point, they acted like quicksilver in re- 
solving out from the dross with which it had become iucrusted, 
the pure gold of many a faltering citizen's heart. 


On the morning of the eighth of October the day of Chicago's 
doom the Tribune (by common consent the acknowledged chief 
of these valiant journals) contained (and this illustrates its 
enterprise) three columns equivalent to eighteen pages of this 
book of description of a fire which had broken out after mid- 
night on the night of the seventh. It contained also over one 
thousand advertisements, all devoted to Chicago business, or 
the "Wants" of Chicago people. It contained sixty long 
columns of matter in all equal to four hundred pages of this 
book, or nearly two complete numbers of any of our first-class 
monthly magazines. Its real-estate article, on that morning, 
commenced with this epitome of the condition of affairs in 
Chicago : 

" There has scarcely been a time for ten years past when there 
seemed to be so many schemes of one kind or another on foot, 
and which, if carried out, will affect the value of real estate in 
nearly all parts of the city and its suburbs. To use the expres- 
sion of one who has been warily watching the growth of the 
various projects for new railroads and new suburban quarters, 
for both residences and manufactories 'Every body seems to 
be swelled up with big schemes.' " 

Further on we read : 

" The new manufacturing enterprises, of which not less than 
six or seven will have been started within the next nine months, 
thus furnishing employment for from fifteen hundred to two 
thousand more mechanics than are at work here now ; these, 
together with the new railroad projects, and the rapid increase 
of population and business from other causes, have stimulated 
the speculative feeling until it has even infected some of the 
coolest and most conservative people who have always held aloof 
from speculation. It is in this that lies the only danger of the 


present situation, and it would be well to remember that when 
prospects look the most flattering, is the very time when it is 
necessary to exercise the greatest caution." 

This was not prophetic, though it almost seems so now; it 
was merely the good advice which had been doled out in moder- 
ate doses to the fortune-chasing Chicagoans, at intervals for 
years, and in spite of which they had gone on and made fortunes. 
But this good advice vindicated itself at last. 

In the same day's issue of the Times the real-estate arti- 
cle commenced thus : 

" There never was a time when there was more going on in 
Chicago in the way of construction than now. New buildings 
are looming up in every direction above the surrounding 
structures, while probably not a day passes without the con- 
struction of new buildings, even though the season is so far 
advanced. The city's growth this year has been unparalleled." 

The Tribune, in the article referred to, went on to describe 
the routes by which three of the five great new lines of rail- 
road contemplating an entrance into the city were going to 
effect that entrance. Thus the newspapers of October 8th, the 
last day of the old Chicago, placed on record the fact that the 
people of the city were never so active, never so prosperous, 
never so ambitious, never so sanguine of the future as on the 
morning of that fatal day. These cheering announcements read 
now like a mockery of the cruel fate that followed so close upon 
their heels. Not so the hint thrown out in this paragraph from 
the introduction to the account of the Saturday night fire : 

" For days past, alarm has followed alarm, but the compara- 
tively trifling losses have familiarized us to the pealing of the 
Court-house bell, and we had forgotten that the absence of rain 
for three weeks had left every thing in so dry and inflammable 


a condition that a spark might start afire which would sweep from 
end to end of the city" Within twenty-four hours that 
prophecy was verified ; the fire was kindled, and the conflagra- 
tion did " sweep from end to end of the city." But it would 
seem as if corporations had not the gift of prophecy, for we 
find in the same issue of the Tribune a paragraph headed " The 
Great Fire," and remarking with regard to that fire and the 
Mutual Security Insurance Company, that " the agents will be 
ready to commence the work of adjusting early on Monday 
morning," that " happily for the stockholders of this sterling 
old company, their ample surplus far exceeds the loss, and 
leaves their handsome capital unimpaired," and that " the re- 
sult is a lesson to property-owners to insure in none but old 
and tried companies." This " old and tried company " which 
had been so brave through the " Great Fire," and which had 
dispatched an agent post haste, after midnight, to insert a 
flaming advertisement and an editorial puff in the morning 
papers, could not find assets enough, twenty-four hours after- 
ward, to pay five cents on each dollar of its losses. 

The journals of that morning announced for the week and 
for the winter an unprecedentedly rich season of stage amuse- 
ments opera, with the world's best prima donnas and the finest 
accessories ever known in America, the opening on the morrow 
of the finest temple of music and the drama to be found on this 
continent, and all manner of feasts for the senses of the luxu- 
rious and the taste of the refined. Chicago had become almost 
another Pompeii in luxury, if not in licentiousness ; she has 
become almost another Pompeii in the suddenness of her fate ! 

The storm struck ; the offices of the journals referred to were 
busy hives on that awful night. Nothing like it had ever been 

known in the city. The city editor and his reporters rose to 


the emergency. Supernumerary reporters were called in and 
given their orders in quick, nervous tones. They sped away 
and reaped a harvest of horrors much more quickly than they 
could bind them for the garnering of the editor. That garner- 
ing never happened at the office of the Times, for the force was 
driven away by the flames before work upon the grand report 
had commenced. At the Tribune it was otherwise. That papei 
rejoiced in a building which was "absolutely fire-proof," and 
Medill, the city editor, was determined to have a seven-column 
description of the gn.nd fire in the morning, whether there wa? 
any town left to read it or not. So he mapped out his magnum 
opus of the year. One after another the reporters came in, with- 
out the usual jocularity, took their places in the " local " room, 
in the top story of the Tribune Building, and commenced desper- 
ately at their task. One or two were set to watch, from the 
roof, the progress of the devastation. Others were writing out 
what they had already seen. Johnny English, the regular 
night reporter, whose chief glory was in a fire of the first mag- 
nitude, came in declaring that he had matter enough to keep 
him writing for a week. To work they all went and resolutely 
wrestled with their task a greater one than mortal will ever yet 
achieve adequately to describe the sublime event. Walls were 
toppling around them, flames mounting above them, the ground 
shaking like an earthquake beneath them, the red foe glaring 
in at the windows and crackling, hissing, and roaring in their 
ears, but still they wrote on. The buildings at the north, across 
the street, were all mown down like grass and still they wrote 
on. The " fire-proof" post-office went and still they wrote on. 
The Reynolds Block ; opposite, was invested by the flames, the 
large plate-glass panes of the Tribune windows began to snap 
under the intense heat and still they wrote on. The limit 



was reached at last of time, not of matter and the brave 
compositors had placed the record in type by the light of the 
incandescent atmosphere; for the gas jets had already ceased to 
flow. In that lurid light, and in the two-fold heat of the fire 
without the building, and the fire within their own breasts, 
these artisans completed their work emptied their last "take," 
and consigned the "turtles" to the pressmen far below. These 
fellows alone proved unequal to the emergency; and pleading a 
lack of water for steam to run their engines (which may have 
been true), they fled, leaving the forms upon the huge press, 
and the candles, suddenly obtained, glimmering uselessly about 
the tables. 

Others had been busy attempting to save the files of the 
paper a very valuable series, embracing some forty volumes ; 
but they were obliged to drop these on the way out and run 
for their lives. The building did not succumb until nearly ten 
o'clock, after every thing in the vicinity had gone down before 
the united force of the fire and the tornado. It was a remarka- 
bly strong building, its walls .being of brick and marble, and 
at least two feet thick. Its ceilings were of corrugated iron, 
arched, between heavy wrought iron " I " beams. These were 
imbedded in cement, over which laid the floors of ash and wal- 
nut. All partition walls were of brick, and all staircases of 
stone or iron, those leading to the second floor having been laid 
up from the ground, in the solidest manner, before ever the 
walls rose. But every Achilles has his vulnerable heel, and 
the Tribune Building proved weak in two places at least not 
strong enough to keep out the waves of the lake of fire which 
had surged around it for seven hours. The basement caught 
first, from under the sidewalk; then the falling of McVicker's 
Theater let in the flames through a window on an alley, whose 


iron shutters the men had been unable to close: Then the fine 
stronghold in which not only its proprietors but all the people 
had proudly confided, fell, and they said "there's no u;-e hop- 
ing any longer. Every thing must go." 

This was a little after ten o'clock, on Monday morning. At 
three o'clock, when the business part of the town was all gone, 
and every Chicago newspaper with it, and fifteen thousand 
buildings were burning simultaneously throughout eight wards 
of the city, and the terror-stricken population were all shrink- 
ing along the margin of the lake or the suburban prairies, the 
Evening Journal, true to the spirit of Chicago journalism, came 
out with a small extra, containing a clear and comprehensive 
account of the conflagration. Some printers of the Evening 
Post establishment rallied at a small job printing shop, on the 
west side of the river, and got out a Post for the emergency. 
The Tribune Building had not ceased to blaze, or rather to 
melt, for there was not much about it to make a blaze of, before 
Joseph Medill, one of its chief stockholders (since elected 
mayor of the city), had sought out a job-office on Canal Street 
a locality where nobody had dreamed there was any thing 
of the sort and bought it out, type, presses, and lease of 
three spacious floors; so that on the morrow the force of the 
Tribune was at work producing a broadside sheet for Wednes- 
day morning. That issue sounded out like a tocsin which 
called every man in Chicago to his duty. It gave a twelve 
column account of the great calamity. It was headed " Chicago 
destroyed;" but this was merely a rhetorical flourish of the 
younger Medill, for the editorial columns abounded in ringing, 
cheering utterances. We can not forbear quoting the principal 
of these : 



" In the midst of a calamity without parallel in the world's 
history, looking upon the ashes of thirty years' accumulations, 
the people of this once beautiful city have resolved that CHI- 

" With woe on every hand, with death in many strange places, 
with two or three hundred millions of our hard-earned property 
swept away in a few hours, the hearts of our men and women 
are still brave, and they look into the future with undaunted 
hearts. As there has never been such a calamity, so has there 
never been such cheerful fortitude in the face of desolation 
and ruin. 

"Thanks to the blessed charity of the good people of the 
United States, we shall not suffer from hunger or nakedness in 
this trying time. Hundreds of train-loads of provisions are 
coming forward to us with all speed from every quarter, from 
Maine to Omaha. Some have already arrived more will 
reach us before tnese words are printed. Three-fourths of our 
inhabited area is still saved. The water supply will be speedily 
renewed. Steam fire engines from a dozen neighboring cities 
have already arrived, and more are on their way. It seems 
impossible that any further progress should be made by the 
flames, or that any new fire should break out that would not 
be instantly extinguished. 

"Already contracts have been made for rebuilding some 
of the burned blocks, and the clearing away of the debris 
will commence to-day, if the heat is so far subdued that the 
charred material can be handled. Field, Leiter & Co. and 
John V. Farwell & Co. will recommence business to-day. The 
money and securities in all the banks are safe. The railroads 
are working with all their energies to bring us out of our afflic- 


tion. The three hundred millions of capital invested in these 
roads is bound to see us through. They have been built with 
special reference to a great commercial mart at this place, 
and they can not fail to sustain us. CHICAGO MUST RISE 


" We do not belittle the calamity that has befallen us. The 
world has probably never seen the like of it certainly not 
since Moscow burned. But the forces of nature, no less than 
the forces of reason require that the exchanges of a great region 
should be conducted here. Ten, twenty years may be required 
to reconstruct our fair city, but the capital to rebuild it fire- 
proof will be forthcoming. The losses we have suffered must 
be borne; but the place, the time, and the men are here, to 
commence at the bottom and work up again ; not at the bottom 
neither, for we have credit in eveYy land, and the experience of 
one upbuilding of Chicago to help us. Let us all cheer up, 
save what is yet left, and we shall come out right. The Chris- 
tian world is coming to our relief. The worH is already over. 
In a few days more all the dangers will be past, and we can 
resume the battle of life with Christian faith and western grit. 
Let us all cheer up !" 

This bugle-call had an electrical effect upon the spirits of the 
people. Perhaps it only echoed the sentiment which they were 
already uttering to each other, as the "soul of a young man 
speaks to another," in Longfellow's Psalm of Life; and the 
refrain of it was the same as that which the poet has made a 
household word : 

" Let us then be up and doing, 
With a heart for any fate; 
Still achieving, still pursuing, 
Learn to labor and to wait." 


But Chicago would not consent to wait any such period as 
their Tribune had set for them; and to-day one can hear no 
longer period than five years appointed among Chicagoans for 
the complete rebuilding of their city. 

The Journal and Post, at the same time, joined in the strain 
with manful utterances. The latter said, on Wednesday : 
" There is now only one way to look ahead. Chicago has a 
future as certainly as it has a past. Upon all the blackened 
walls and tottering towers, upon clinging cornice and ruined 
pavement, is written broadly the cheery word RESURGAM. 
There is manliness enough left here to reconstruct the city even 
in this terrible calamity and this deep desolation. There is 
waste, but there is not despair. The brave hearts of our citi- 
zens, even more than the sympathy of other cities, stands to us 
as a pledge of victory. The land is left, the grand position is 
left, and the men are left who reared the recent magnificent 
city from the prairie mud. They can do it again, and they 
will do it again. The consequences of the most disastrous fire 
the world has ever suffered, will be conquered and forgotten by 
the most intrepid spirit of determination the world has ever 
reared." At the same time the Post had coolness enough to 
interpose a timely word in deprecation of panics, and warning 
against acts of violence, in the name of the law, such as were 
liable to result from the excited , condition of the public mind 
at that time. 

There were but three or four presses large enough to print a 
newspaper of respectable size in the city ; and these were, single 
cylinders, and not in first-rate condition, so that the working 
of the editions was very slow. The Tribune had been accus- 
tomed to two eight-cylinder Hoes, either working 10,000 
sheets per hour, and the other papers had had a four-cylinder 


each ; so that but a small portion, even of the city editions of 
either newspaper could be printed. None were mailed, or even 
sent to city subscribers by carriers, for several days. The price 
of a newspaper for the first few days was twenty-five cents, in- 
variably, except the Tribune, which on the first day sold readily 
for half a dollar, and even a dollar. To obtain them for sale 
upon the street, the boys (and such men as desired) had to 
" fall in," form a queue and wait, perhaps an hour or two for a 
chance to buy. The price at the counting-room was never 
raised above the regular five cents, nor was the price of adver- 
tising raised. Displayed advertisements were refused by the 
Tribune, as more was received than could have been printed in 
the paper, leaving out all other matter. There was never such 
a rush of advertising in Chicago as during the few weeks fol- 
lowing the fire. The lists of missing persons were advertised 
constantly without charge, and on some days filled two columns 
of space. The Republican resumed publication on the 12th, 
and the Evening Mail on the same day. The German papers 
were slower ; while the Times, after announcing an intention to 
suspend for a month rather than issue an inferior sheet, resumed 
on the 18th in good style. 

On the 15th, the Tribune said : 

"When, on last Wednesday, we called upon the people of 
Chicago to cheer up, we did not appreciate or estimate the force 
of character that was in them. Our citizens have displayed a 
noble heroism, worthy of the abounding charity that has been 
showered upon them. They have shown capacity to help 
themselves, and that alone is worth every thing in the way of 
re-establishing their credit and procuring the necessary capital 
to build up again. Let them go on as they have begun, not 
calling on Congress or the gods for donations, or stay laws, and 


they will come out of the fire right side up, and presently we 
shall have our Chicago again, nobler and more beautiful than 
before. . . . With tears for the dead and dying, with sor- 
row and tender care for the maimed and sick, with faith in God, 
and stout hearts in our breasts, we now begin to clear away the 

The newspapers were, indeed, during the terrible week fol- 
lowing the conflagration, among the most necessary articles, 
ranking along with food, water, and fire-engines. Besides fur- 
nishing the facts about the calamity which still hung like a 
spent thunder-cloud in the horizon, and disproving many har- 
assing falsehoods which were circulating about, and which 
thronged like vermin in all the out-of-Chicago papers, they 
served the very necessary purpose of enabling thousands of per- 
sons to announce their whereabouts, and advertise for those who 
were missing; also for announcing the new location of men of 
business a class of announcements which soon became veVy 
numerous. The Tribune of the 22d of October the thirteenth 
day after the fire contained 1536 advertisements, chiefly of 
business and professional men announcing their change of loca- 
tion. The manner of this announcement was as cool as could 
be. It was usually to the effect that "Messrs. A. & B. have 
removed their store to No. C. Street." No reference to any 
fire or other indication that the removal was not entirely a com- 
monplace affair. 

The advertisements of those days will be found valuable 
mementoes of the time whenever in future days the few exist- 
ing files of Chicago papers for October, 1871, shall be over- 
hauled. Some of them indicated the new lines of business 
which had been created by the fire. Thus several scientific 
men announced their readiness to restore charred papers to 


legibility; printers and stationers announced blank "proofs of 
loss" as their main stock in trade; and all the lawyers in town 
were found to have been transformed into "Adjusters." The 
sign-painting interest also looked up wonderfully. The " Per- 
sonal " advertisements of doubtful morality, asking " the beau- 
tiful blonde with the blue parasol who noticed gentleman in 
McVicker's Theater" to "communicate," etc., etc., had all dis- 
appeared given place to appeals of this sort : 

If the gray-whiskered man who was seen removing trunks marked M. 
E. W. & T. C. Welsh, from the open space opposite Lincoln Park, at 
junction of North Wells and Clark Streets, will deliver them at 91 South 
Peoria Street, he will be liberally rewarded, and no questions asked. 

PERSONAL The party that took contents of large trunk, carried away 
email canvas covered trunk, and oil painting, left in carriage on lake- 
shore, foot of Erie Street, last Monday, will be paid more for return of 
same to subscriber, and no questions asked, than they will sell for. 
Address J. D. HARVEY, 36 South Canal Street. 

PERSONAL If A. W. Morgan can furnish information regarding Rillie 
Snow's trunks, or if he has them, and will forward to Rillie Snow, Council 
Bluffs, Iowa, he will be liberally rewarded. 

Some advertisers showed their disposition to smile through it 
all. One firm, dealing in stoves, announced that " the warm 
climate at the old stand, 168 Lake Street, being rather unfavor- 
able to the stove business," the business would henceforward be 
carried on at such a place. A firm of jolly sign-painters an- 
nounced their removal in this choice poetic fashion : 

SINCE the great k- 

Lamity to our pat- 
Rons we would say 

That we are not quite flat 

Broke, but conclu- 

Ded to move our ENTIRE 
STOCK into our new 

Shop (away from the fire). 


111 Desplaines, corner Monroe, 

SIGNS painted at prices 
Remarkably LOW, 

For MORE information see 


A list of the newspapers published in Chicago on the 7th of 
October, 1871, was given in an earlier chapter of this book. 
On the forenoon of the 9th, but one of them, and that an infe- 
rior weekly, could boast an office of publication, or an ounce of 



A day of chaos The exodus from the city No water Nights of terror- 
Fear of incendiarism The citizen patrol Stories of summary venge- 
ance Military law Halt! The relic business Restoration of 
water and confidence. 

mUESDAY, the 10th of October, may be called a day of 
-- transition from chaos to order ; though it looked upon the 
surface like chaos merely. The Mayor and city government 
were busy providing for the re-establishment of quiet and con- 
fidence, and the Board of Trade and other authorities in busi- 
ness were organizing for the resurrection of Chicago ; but little 
of this was apparent to the general observer. The visitor to 
Chicago (that is the unburnt part of it), Tuesday morning, saw, 
perhaps, first of all, an occasional puff of smoke, curling up- 
ward from chimney-tops of houses, and yet not many ; for the 
Mayor's order of the previous night had prohibited all kitchen 
fires, and only the very reckless or the very hungry made bold 
to construe the shower of the previous night as a contravention 
of the order. He saw an occasional face show itself on the 
street, haggard and red-eyed, from the effects of the previous 
twenty-four hours' experience. He saw water-carts moving 
through the streets and being surrounded, every time they 
halted, by men in dressing-gowns and women in their meanest 


wear, bearing buckets and pitchers, to buy, at a shilling a pail- 
ful, the fluid which had suddenly become so precious. He saw 
wagons drive up to church doors, carrying sick or wounded 
or burnt victims of the flames, now first furnished with a shel- 
ter. He saw fire engines, probably from abroad, getting into 
position to play upon the blazing coal heaps along the river; 
their occasional sharp whistle was almost the only sound to 
break the solemn stillness of the morning. By and by, how- 
ever, the people began to stir, and then suddenly all became a 
Babel of confusion. Wagons of every description, and in num- 
bers which no one thought the city could boast, were plying 
hither and thither with reckless speed. The whole male popu- 
lation, apparently, was soon on the street some hastening to 
the places of general congregating, as if to escape from the state 
of apprehension in which the night had been passed some 
seeking for tidings of friends whom they knew to have been 
burned out some on the hunt for a new place of business 
some bound for the burnt district on a tour of curiosity, if for 
no other motive. 

The streets through the burnt district were found some of 
them to be passable for carriages, though there were such ac- 
cumulations of fallen bricks and stones, fragments of tin roofs, 
telegraph wires, and rails of street railways, warped so as to 
stand like huge pot-bails all along the street, that this method 
of locomotion was by no means easy. Only one bridge be- 
tween the east and west sides of the river was passable without 
going far south that at Randolph Street. Across the North 
Branch there was also but one that at Kinzie Street; while 
there was for several days no communication at all across the 
main river, the bridges being all destroyed and the Lasalle 
Street tunnel obstructed. The streets having been, in grading, 


raised from five to twelve feet above the original level of the 
town, stood up like causeways, and conveyed to the senses a 
gloomy impression, like the skinny bones of a wasted invalid, 
whom we had known only as a rotund person. Over these 
cadaverous causeways the population poured, stopping occasion- 
ally to gaze at the ruins of known buildings, or to accost each 
other with the new salutation, " How did you come out of it?'*' 
instead of " How do you do?" 

The appearance of the most conspicuous ruins on this and 
the few following days is correctly portrayed by the cuts which 
are contained in this work; but the sight which confronted the 
people of Chicago the most painfully on that day can not be 
reproduced by the artist. It was the completeness of the 
wreck ; the total desolation which met the eye on every hand ; 
the utter blankness of what had a few hours before been so full 
of life, of associations, of aspirations, of all things which kept 
the mind of a Chicagoan so constantly crowded, and bis nerves 
and muscles so constantly driven. Even the distances seemed to 
have been burned up with all things else, and any of the few 
landmarks left would suddenly come up and confront one, like 
an apparition, when he thought it far away. These landmarks 
were so few, however, that, even in the most frequented quarters 
of the city, which one had never missed sight of for a day, one 
found himself frequently puzzled, and inquiring, " Where are 
we now? "What building was this?" 

The nearest street, outside of the burnt district, at all 
adapted to the purposes of commerce, was Canal Street, run- 
ning along the west side of the river. At right angles with 
this were Randolph and Madison Streets, constituting the 
main thorough fares to the western city limits; and these streets, 
as well as State Street and Wabash Avenue, upon the south 


side, were thronged, during Tuesday and Wednesday, with 
people in search of stores and offices. These jostled each other 
aesperately upon the rough sidewalks of this quarter, as did 
the carts and wagons flying over the pavements, with trunks 
and household goods from the lake-shore and prairies. This 
rush has kept up ever since; but the character of the traffic 
has been changed the wagons being now laden with merchan- 
dise and building materials, and the grimy, smoky, excited 
crowd of citizens having given way, in part, to a current of 
sight-seers from abroad. 

These began to arrive in large numbers on the very day 
following the fire; so that the trains which came into town 
were greatly overloaded; but those which went out were much 
more so. An exodus set in on the 9th, and was followed up 
so well that by the 16th some 60,000 people had left the city ; 
but of these nearly a half came back within the next two or 
three weeks. 

The distractions of the day gave way, as night approached, 
to a dread of further fires, founded upon stories of incendiarism, 
which were rife. Every hour brought new accounts of at- 
tempted arson and of summary justice upon the perpetrator of 
the heinous act. The police reported numerous cases of men, 
women, and children hung to lamp-posts, beaten to death or 
shot down for acts of incendiarism. These were all religiously 
believed, even by those not constitutionally credulous. The gen- 
eral belief was that not only was the town beset by incendiaries 
who burned to plunder, but that a mania for arson had over- 
taken the more desperate and ignorant classes of the commu- 
nity. The consequence was a fearful state of panic on Tuesday 
and the following nights. Fifteen hundred special policemen 
were sworn in on the west side and five hundred on the east 


side, and, armed with pistols, muskets, and such other weapons 
as they could produce, patroled every square in the city, chal- 
lenging every person seen after nine o'clock in the evening. 
There were but few out, however, since there was no longer any 
business, any shows, or any carousing all saloons being closed 
at eight o'clock by the Mayor's order. It will be readily im- 
agined that few citizens slept soundly through these nights of 
panic and alarm. With a remnant of the city far more in- 
flammable than the part which burned, with incendiaries prowl- 
ing about to kindle fires, with plenty of wind prevailing to 
spread them, with no water to check them, and with' the bright 
glare of the burning coal piles to deceive the watcher ever and 
anon into the belief that the dreaded conflagration had actually 
set in, it is no wonder that the people of the West Division 
were kept in a miserable state for the few days and nights suc- 
ceeding the fire, before the military came to their relief, and 
some water from the river was got into the mains, and the 
stories of incendiarism were, for the most part, exploded. 

On the 10th, it was found that the bakers and provision 
dealers were, as might have been expected, putting up the price 
of food. The supply of provisions, it was supposed, had been 
seriously affected by the conflagration ; the wholesale meat mar- 
kets, located on Kinzie Street, were all destroyed; but the 
sharks found Chicago a bad town in which to get up a "corner" 
on provisions, for the supply was not interfered with for a 
day ; and even had not the Mayor come out with a stringent 
proclamation against extortion, * it is not likely that any rise 
in prices of eatables could have been maintained. Not a single 
article of food, or fuel, or wear was, to our knowledge, enhanced 
in price on account of the fire. On the contrary, meats became 

* See Appendix " B," I. 


cheaper than ever on the week succeeding the conflagration, 
and so continued. Perhaps there is not another city in the 
world where such quantities of provisions could have been 
destroyed, with such a result. 

Meantime, what were the constituted authorities of the city 
doing toward restoring order and confidence to the citizens? 
The Mayor (R. B. Mason) had convoked his staff on Monday 
forenoon, and issued a proclamation suited to the exigency, 
pledging the faith of the city for the expenses of relieving the 
suffering, warning all lawless persons against the consequences 
of their acts, and assuring the citizens that the fire had spent its 
force, and that " all would soon be well." The headquarters of 
the city government were fixed in the church on Washington 
Street, a mile west of the river. Other proclamations followed 
in quick succession; one, which appeared on the 10th, giving 
orders relative to police organization, and investing "the mili- 
tary" with full police power. Unfortunately, however, "the 
military" of Chicago was a very limited army the only 
force capable of mustering and arming was two companies of 
Norwegian militia, who were put on duty on Tuesday. 

Militia companies from other Illinois citips began to come in 
on Tuesday also six companies in all, from Bloomingtou, 
Springfield, Champaign, and other towns, having arrived by 
Wednesday, under the charge of Adjutant General Dilger, who 
was sent by Governor Palmer for the purpose. Up to this 
time the panic had been increasing. But little confidence was 
felt in the police force, although that body numbered near 400 
regulars, and any number of "specials." The people were in 
such a state that they welcomed the sight of muskets and the 
signs of martial law as heartily as the citizens of this free 
country are generally supposed to abominate such demonstra- 


tions of force. Especially did they hail with acclamation the 
announcement made in a proclamation on the llth that the 
preservation of good order in the city was entrusted to Lieu ten- 
ant-general Sheridan.* 

This gallant officer immediately, by virtue of his authority, 
as commander of the Military Division of the Missouri, ordered 
hither six companies of regular U. S. troops two from Omaha, 
three from Fort Leavenworth, and one from Fort Scott. He 
was also furnished by General Halleck with four companies 
from Kentucky ; so that he had soon a full regiment of troops 
at his command, exclusive of the State militia. The regulars 
were stationed through the Burnt District of the South Divis- 
ion, which being destitute of street lamps and strewn with 
valuable safes two or three score to every block was ex- 
tremely liable to the depredations of thieves. It was currently 
reported that a thousand of these had left New York on the 
evening of the 9th for Chicago. Doubtless there were many 
such who started hither, but the preparations, and the announce- 
ment that Sheridan was at the helm, doubtless demoralized 
their calculations, for few of them were heard from through 
their works. The militia troops were set to patrolling the un- 
burnt division of the city, in which duty they were superseded, 
before Saturday night, by a battalion raised under Colonel 
Frank T. Sherman, ex-postmaster, and sworn in for twenty 
days' service. 

For several days Chicago might be said to bristle with bayo- 
nets. Military rule seemed to be the form of government best 
adapted to the emergency in which the community found itself 
and was unanimously approved by the hearts of the citizens, 
whatever constitutional lawyers and jealous police commis- 

*See Appendix "B," I. 


sioners may have thought of it. Under the shadow of the 
American Eagle's protecting wing, the people went and came 
with equanimity about their business, and at night they lay 
down and slept soundly, lulled by the tread of the vigilant 
sentry. The abnormal susceptibility to excitement about fire 
continued, however, and whenever there was an alarm sounded, 
you might see a sudden rush of the whole population in that 
vicinity, and a very sudden stamping out of the incipient con- 
flagration. Millionaires (those who had been such) would rush 
out to twopenny fires and come back, much blown, with full 
particulars. The Fire Department seemed to have been mus- 
tered out of service, and the old-fashioned era of axes and 
water-buckets to have returned. A gentleman's barn took fire 
on Wabash Avenue, and before an engine could arrive, the 
citizens had formed a line from the lake to the barn, and ex- 
tinguished the fire by passing buckets of water. 

Meantime, however, the engines of the Water-works were 
still disabled, though a hundred men were working on them 
constantly, night and day. A way had been found, however, 
to fill many of the mains by pumping water from the river into 
them. Locomotives all sorts of engines were rigged to 
pumps and set to work with all their might; and with euoh 
success that, in a week after the fire, about a third of the peo- 
ple of the inhabited portions of the city had water such as it 
was in their basements. By this time, however, it was found 
out that the stories about the catching and hanging of incen- 
diaries were all false, and the popular mind was quite easy about 
fires ; especially as copious showers of rain had fallen on the 

The privation resulting from a lack of water for drinking 
and culinary purposes was still seriously felt, however. The 


people were obliged to supply themselves from the artesian 
wells at the western extremity of the city, or from the lake; 
and the progress of the work at the Water-works was anxiously 
watched. The engineer, Mr. Cregier, could not give any posi- 
tive assurance whether the engine at which he was working, 
with his three hundred machinists, would not prove to be so 
swollen or warped by the fire that its delicate pistons and cylin- 
ders would refuse to play. In that case it was not simply u 
week, but a winter without water! On the evening of the 
17th, just eight days after the fall of the insane roof of shin- 
gles, the thousand pieces of the great engine were all put in 
place, and the crucial experiment made on which so much com- 
fort or privation, health or sickness, soberness or intemperance, 
depended. The fires were lighted under the boilers, and a head 
of steam was put on in order to thoroughly test the engine be- 
fore setting it to work. The engineer, and the whole corps of 
tireless men who had toiled to complete the work, stood around. 
It was an anxious moment, and the faces of those present be- 
tokened the intensity of the strain. The word was given, and 
at 8:27 o'clock the machine was set in motion, the giant wheel 
slowly revolved, and once more the iron heart throbbed on 
Chicago Avenue, forcing the precious fluid from the lake at 
each pulsation through the monster arteries away to the city 
limits. And then, once more, the city breathed freely; and not 
only breathed, but drank freely, not considering that the pipes 
had become foul from the deposits of the muddy stream from 
the river. The consequence was much sickness for about two 
weeks, especially among children. 

On the 24th the city was visited by dense clouds of smoke, 
which rendered the atmosphere almost utterly opaque as much 
so as the thickest fog of an autumn morning. It did not come 


from the coal heaps, several of which were burning, for the 
whole country for a radius of a hundred and fifty miles around 
Chicago was visited by the same phenomenon. The smoke was 
doubtless from the burning woods of Michigan, and was brought 
across the lake by a strong caster ; but that it should visit so 
large an area at once, and only for a single day, while no 
similar effect came from the great Chicago- fire, nor from the 
vast burnings then going on in Wisconsin, was somewhat re- 

The relic business came to be a notable feature of the situa- 
tion about these days. This was carried on by boys, who 
gathered relics of the conflagration from the cellars of ruined 
stores melted crockery and steel ware being the staples and 
peddled them at ridiculously low prices to visitors and citizens. 
"Relics of the fire," their regular cry, became a sort of by- 
word ; so that people, advertising for board, in the newspapers, 
would jocularly describe themselves as "relics of the late fire." 
Fragments of the Court-house bell were the relics most sought 
after, and are highly prized by those fortunate enough to secure 
them. The Italians, ever on the lookout for odd branches of 
trade, went into the relic business more elaborately than the 
gamins. Passing along Randolph Street, a week or more after 
the fire, the writer came upon one of these compatriots of Gari- 
baldi, whose countenance, indeed, bore a striking resemblance 
to that reputed hero, except that it had taken on a hard Yankee 
look which almost disguised its nationality until the speech 
of the man betrayed it. He had pre-empted, miner fashion, a 
" claim " consisting of the basement of a crockery store, and 
had excavated a few do/en pieces of demoralized table-ware. 
Surrounded by these and by two large heaps of rubbish, and 
covered from head to foot with a thick sprinkling of ashes, he 


harangued his audience: "Step up, dzentlemen, buy relics of 
the fire. Here's beayoutefool china soocher bool (displaying a 
badly smoked and misshapen article) ; you haf him For only 
twanety-five cents. Here's beayoutefool set cups eight of 'em 
all froze together do for walking-stick;" and he found cus- 
tomers pretty readily. Himself undoubtedly a victim of the 
conflagration, he was a true specimen of the Chicago business 
man ready to do business on no capital if none is at hand, and 
prompt to organize victory out of defeat; to "mount," as the 
poet says, " on stepping stones of our dead selves." 

The period of military rule came to an end on the 23d of 
October. It was doubtless by a melancholy occurrence which 
served to elicit some serious animadversions on the policy of 
employing military usages to the extent which characterized 
this period. Thomas Grosvenor, Esq., prosecuting attorney for 
the city in the police-courts, was shot fatally, on the morning of 
the 21st, by a young man named Treat, belonging to Colonel 
Sherman's "home-guard," and acting as sentinel near the 
Douglas University, of which he is a student. Mr. Grosvenor, 
going home after midnight, was challenged by the sentinel, and 
refused to halt. Treat told him he should fire upon him if he 

did not obey. The reply was "Fire, and be d d." The 

sentinel, true to his word, drew up and fired, shooting Gros- 
venor through the lungs. He was soon after arrested and held 
for the action of the grand jury. The popular voice generally 
sustained the boy, and blamed the victim for his rashness ; but 
a gloom was spread over the community by the event, not only 
because the deceased was a popular man, but because the situa- 
tion had really become such as not to require military aid any 
longer. Accordingly, on the 23d, Mayor Mason, after some 
sharp correspondence with the Board of Police Commissioners, 


who had been piqued from the first at the temporary diminution 
of their consequence, relieved General Sheridan of the duty 
which he had asked him to accept, twelve days before. And 
thus ended the period of dearth, of panic, and of military law.* 

* Unless we are to make a note of a blustering correspondence inaugu- 
rated by Governor Palmer, who considered his prerogatives invaded by 
the "invasion" of his territory by United States troops, and proposed to 
indite General Sheridan for the murder of Grosvenor, this is a phase of 
the afiair not by any means completed at the time of putting this work to 
press. Nor is it of interest, except as a matter of constitutional law, the 
fact being that the people of Chicago, whose welfare was mainly concerned, 
were well satisfied with the action of Mayor Mason in taking the respon- 
sibility at a time when the safety of the people (the "supreme law") 
seemed to demand such action. The main question which the courts, 
when called on, will have to decide is, apparently, the legal right of the 
mayor to put the keeping of the city's peace out of the hands of the police 
authorities, even with their consent, which he claims was obtained. 



The next Sunday Assembling under the ruined walls Robert Collyer'a 
adventures Trying to save Unity Lessons of hope and courage. 

IT was a sad day, the Sabbath after the fire, when the stimu- 
lus of work was off, and quiet meditation was in order. 
The solemnity and suggestiveness of the day were, moreover, 
greatly heightened by the meetings which the worshipers of 
the ruined churches held under the walls of their beloved 
sanctuaries. Chicago had come to be noted for the beauty of 
her church architecture, and the large number of her stately 
churches, built as they were, for the most part, of rough 
ashlars of Illinois gray limestone. A score or more of the best 
churches destroyed in this Conflagration were nearly new, and 
had been built only after great effort. The congregations of 
the most of them gathered on Sunday morning, and were ad- 
dressed in the open air by their pastors. As a specimen of 
these exercises, we will describe those at the church of the Rev. 
Robert Collyer, whose name is the best known of any Chicago 
clergyman's. . Mr. Collyer had labored during five or six years 
very zealously to build up his congregation, and rake together 
funds enough to erect their splendid church, which, with its 
organ, cost $135,000. An account of how they tried to save 
it, Mr. Collyer has written out for us, along with some other 


of his adventures on the night of the fire, in the subjoined 
sketch : 

"You want me to tell you how we lost Unity Church. I 
was roused from a heavy sleep, at half-past one on Monday 
morning, by my wife, who said the fire was increasing on the 
south side, a storm of fire flakes, sweeping over northward 
and eastward, and we must get the children up and dress them 
it was not safe to delay another minute. 

"I was broad awake in an instant, did just as I was bidden, 
and then, when we were all ready, we roused some of the 
neighbors, who dressed their children too, and the policeman on 
our beat told us he had roused up all the people in his district. 
We did not think then there was very much danger the north 
side would take fire, except from these flying embers, and they 
were drifting eastward, toward the lake, more than they were 
northward toward our street. So when the children begged 
me to go with them over the bridge to see the fire, I went. We 
crossed at Wells Street, because that was almost entirely free 
from the falling flakes; the Court-house was afire at 'that time, 
the dome standing almost white with the intense heat, and 
buildings were catching to the eastward rapidly. We wanted 
to cross back by Clark or State Streets, but by that time the 
shower of fire was so heavy on Water Street, eastward of Wells, 
that I durst not take the children down in that direction, so we 
went back as we had come, reaching Clark Street by Michigan. 
By that time the north side seemed to be thoroughly alarmed ; 
there were lights in all the houses, swift moving figures could 
be seen in the rooms, and the people were getting their belong- 
ings into the streets. When we got home I sat down a little 
while, and then went to the corner of State Street and Chicago 
Avenue, to see how the fire seemed across the bridge. As I 


stood there the great unfinished spire on the Church of the 
Holy Name began to lurch eastward in the terrible tornado, 
and, as I watched it, went down with a great crash on the roof 
of the church northward. This must have been an hour before 
the fire swept up as far as that corner. John Wentworth came 
along just then with a boy and two bags, which he said were 
full of papers; I invited him to come in and sit down, as my 
house was near; but he said he should go on, because the whole 
city was going to be burnt up. I did not believe him, and 
walked home ; but presently my little son ran in and said : 
'Papa, the fire has crossed at State Street.' I ran down and 
found it was so. Then there was a light a little south of Lill's 
Brewery the neighbors said it was a cooper's shop. My wife 
had already begun to pack. I took a load on my shoulders 
and started for the church. As I turned the corner a poor woman 
said ' Oh ! Mr. Colly er, that is not what you meant, is it ? ' ' Yes,' 
I said, ' Chicago Avenue is going, but I think we can save the 
church ; you had better all come there and bring your things.' 
By daylight the north side of the church was heaped up with 
the poor belongings of many German families, while they shel- 
tered with their children inside. Our own people came also 
and piled many precious things in the lecture-room, and in my 
study. Indeed, we hindered nobody ; all came in who would, 
and brought what they had. The fire then was sweeping up 
eastward, and a little more slowly westward. Ogden School 
caught from Chicago Avenue, then Chestnut Street from Ogden 
School, and then the New England Church. By this lime we 
had begun to break down the fences, and hammer away at the 
sidewalks with our hands and feet, for we had no tools, except, 
I think, one hatchet and a shovel. A number of young men 
belonging to the church; and some others I did not know, 


worked with all their might. Mr. N. E. Sheldon, who lived 
near, caine up and said: ' Mr. Collyer, I think we can save your 
church the fire will catch in the basement first, where the coal 
and wood is; let us go down there.' So some staid outside to 
fight off the fire, and I went down with Mr. Sheldon, and 
three or four more, to take care of the inside. We pulled back 
the kindling-wood, got water out of the waste-pipe, wet the win- 
dows, and Mahlon D. Ogden generously let us have as much 
more water as we asked for out of his cistern, though he 
knew it was all he had to save his own home, for by that time 
the Water-works had gone. I was very jealous all the while 
lest the fiend should come on us some other way, and take 
us by surprise. There was deadly danger I knew, and a lit- 
tle host of men and boys were carrying my library out of the 
study and tumbling it into the park for fear of the worst. 
When we felt pretty sure that the fire was fought off from the 
lower windows and doors, I went with an armful of books my- 
self, possibly several, I do not clearly remember; but I know 
that as I came back out of the park I saw a little puff of black 
smoke, intensely black, rising above the roof on the north side 
of the church, near the tower. It rose up presently into a 
great cloud ; then I knew we were beaten, shouted to the men 
to come out of the cellar, told what women were left to get 
away with their children as fast as they could, for the church 
would presently be in a blaze, and either then, or a little 
sooner, I think, I went up stairs into my pulpit, where I 
had stood the night before and talked to my people about 
poor, burnt Paris, as I saw it in July, took one great, mighty 
look at it, as you look at a dear friend you know you will nerer 
see again, then I took the Bible, came down stairs, locked my 
study-door, put the key in my pocket, and came away. I have 


the key still, and when we get another Unity Church, I shall 
have a lock made for that key, and the lock put on to my 
study-door. Very truly, yours, 


"P. S. As I read this over, I find I must make a stronger 
mark than I have made against Mr. Sheldon's name. He was 
not a member of my church, I only knew him by sight, but 
when he came among us it was like a captain with an unflinch- 
ing heart coming into a regiment that has half a mind to give 
up the fight. We had fought a hard battle ; he put fresh cour- 
age and pluck into us all, and worked like a hero to save 
our precious pile. If there was a special Providence over 
Mahlon Ogden's house to save it, I think its cool wings must 
have come down and about the place while his kinsman 
(Sheldon) was doing such a grand, unselfish work to save our 
church. R. C." 

"When the next Sunday came, Mr. Collyer, as well as the 
pastors of the New England Church and St. James's Episcopal 
Church, not far off, gathered his hearers under the Avails of the 
sanctuary and addressed them. The preacher stood upon a 
carved stone which had fallen from the arch above, with hi.' 
people gathered about him in a half circle. The scene is de- 
scribed by a spectator as calling to mind the meetings of 
the early saints in caves and subterranean tombs. Plai* 
hymns were sung, and prayers put up, after which the pastoi 

"I wanted to get you to come together this morning, my 
friends, as many as could, who were left of our congregation, 
in order that I might say a word or two to you out from my 


own heart, and then we might go home and think it over, and 
realize something of our altered, and yet unalterable, relations. 
I could not before trust myself to speak to you in regard to 
the great thought nearest to the heart of each ; I could not 
trust you to listen. The calamity was too near, and we all 
broke clown in the effort; that is a subject that we must 
approach no more. 

" Some men of a stronger heart are, perhaps, able to thank 
God for this great affliction. I, myself, have tried to find some 
altitude of soul, some height of moral sentiment, from which I 
might look down and thank God for overshadowing us with 
this great sorrow. To such an elevation I may climb at last, 
but I have not yet attained it. Perhaps I may say, with the 
psalmist, at length: 'It is well that I was afflicted; before I 
was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Thy law/ I 
might, in such an event, find the elements of grace for this 
life and that which is to come, -\fhich could not have been 
found except in such a calamity. 

" But I can not get up to it this morning. I see, as yet, too 
vividly your homes burning, and you all, my poor, dear friends, 
fleeing in mortal terror for your lives, and I wanting to help 
you, and myself powerless to act. Well, well ! It is too near. 
[A pause, and audible sobs in the congregation.] We will thank 
God as soon as we can. These great walls of hinderance are 
about you now. One day, doubtless, we shall be big enough 
in soul, and good enough, to get into this atmosphere of praise 
and thanksgiving for this great sorrow." 

lie then told his hearers how well they could get along 
without the property which they had lost ; how they had once 
been even poorer than they were now; and how Lot's wife 
had been turned into a pillar of salt (which he said meant a 


bitter woman) for turning back and mourning over a burning 
Sodom. Further on he said, with much feeling: 

" The relations between us as pastor and people, dear friends, 
has been of the deepest and truest love ever known. I have 
always felt that it was so, and you have felt it too. Now we 
have received a shock in this relation such as we never 
expected, such as we never could have expected. For two or 
three days after it came I was stunned and did not know 
what to do. I could tell nothing about the future. - 1 think 
I must have been personally injured by my long fight with 
the fire. It was a day or two before I began to look about 
and think with myself what I could say to these, my children. 
At last it came to me in one word and this is what I have to 
Bay about it. If you will stay by me I will stay with you ; if 
you will work with me, I will work with you, and we will 
make the best fight we can against this adverse situation. I 
am not going to be a burden to you. You can not find a 
cheaper man anywhere than I will be. I preached seven years 
for seventy-five cents a year. I won't take any more than 
that if you can't spare any more. I do n't mean to task Unity 
Church, but I mean to stick by you if you will stick by me. 
Never fear for me, I can get along well enough. People will 
give me more for a lecture than they will give some folks, and 
if the worst comes to the worst, I can make as good horse- 
shoes and nails as any man in Chicago." 

It did not become necessary, however, for Collyer to resume 
his hammer and anvil, for gifts poured in upon him and his 
church from all quarters. He himself received as many as a 
hundred and seventeen packages by express in a single day, 
and his church was at once made the care of many wealthy 


societies at the East, which furnished money enough to rebuild 
it. Mr. Collyer went East after a little; and while in Boston 
received many gifts, including an order from a wealthy Uni- 
tarian to draw on him quarterly for a salary of 5,000 a year, 
in addition to the $3,000 which his parish had already voted 



How the world was shocked by the event The excitement in America 
Nothing like it since the war Showers of money and avalanches of 
goods'for the sufferers Scenes and deeds in New York, Boston, Cin- 
cinnati, St Louis, London, and other cities. 

WE can not tell the story of the Relief of Chicago.- We 
can not adequately describe the acts in which all Chris- 
tendom leant over Chicago and poured the precious balm of 
sympathy into her wounds, and bathed with the wine of relief 
her parched and blistered lips. In the first place, to give a 
full account of the measures in aid of the sufferers by the Chi- 
cago fire, would be to write the history of the civilized world 
for a very eventful week; for the whole civilized world was 
mainly absorbed, during that week, in getting news from and 
sending succor to Chicago. Besides, if we had all the facts 
gathered in some series of volumes more bulky than any li- 
brary now left in Chicago, they could not be justly epitomized 
here. Those facts which are at hand are so numerous that we 
can hardly do aught more than to let out a few at random, 
though each presses itself upon us as richly worthy of men- 

If the spread of the flames through the streets of Chicago 
was swift as the wind, the spread of the news of it, and of 

the sympathy which it awakened, was infinitely more so. A 


speaker, addressing one of the ten thousand relief-meetings 
which sprung up in every city and hamlet in America, de- 
scribed this phenomenon well when he said there was no acre 
of the United States but that some cinder from Chicago had 
lighted on it and kindled the fire of sympathy. And yet that 
figure does not express the suddenness and directness of the 
passage of the feeling. Chicago was connected with the world 
more intimately than perhaps any other city. In the first 
place, nearly every county, district, and department in the 
Northern United States, in Great Britain, Ireland, and conti- 
nental Europe, is represented in Chicago by persons who have 
immigrated hither, and left kindred and acquaintances at home. 
In the next place, the rapid growth of the city, and the re- 
markably active, enterprising, ambitious, audacious class of citi- 
zens which has accumulated with that growth, have attracted to 
Chicago the attention of the world, and brought hither travelers 
from all climes. Indeed, the press and the telegraph, which 
make all men travelers, in a sense, had been for the past few 
years so full of Chicago, as a theme, that every body in Christen- 
dom knew Chicago, or thought he did. The average emotion 
toward Chicago was that of admiration; which, at least, was 
not sufficiently offset by any other feeling to prevent the most 
hearty and unalloyed sentiment of regret and practical sym- 
pathy when the news of hef misfortune came flashing along 
the wires. To say nothing now about the veins and arteries 
of commerce, which permeated the whole civilized world, and 
makes the blood ebb away at New York or London whenever 
Chicago bleeds, there is a nervous system, of wires and print- 
ers' types," which connects all together, and which places Chi- 
cago in close rapport with all parts of the world, especially 
Anglo-Saxondom and the greater Germany. The world never 


knew how complete and perfect this system is, until the shock 
at Chicago thrilled through all lands, and made the farthest 
extremities smart with pain or tingle with anxiety. The com- 
munity of language, the community of interests, but revealed 
the community of human nature and human sympathy, one 
touch of which can " make the whole world kin." The proud 
cities of the earth then wept on each other's breast, and found 
that they were rivals no more, but loving sisters. Blessed is 
that affliction which reveals such precious things ! 

The desoiation of Chicago was fully known to all her citi- 
zens at daylight on the morning of the 9th October. Within 
three or four hours it was known in fully ten thousand cities 
and villages of the United States, and ten millions of people 
were bestirring themselves, and asking each other anxiously for 
tidings from the stricken city. Almost the first thought which 
suggested itself was of the destitution which must prevail, 
where a hundred thousand people had been so suddenly made 
homeless, and (as was supposed) their whole stock of provisions, 
'clothing in fact, all the accumulated wealth of the city de- 
stroyed, as it were, in a breath. The heart of every man told 
him what to do at once. 

The West had, fortunately, great stores of provision and 
of comfortable clothing; and these were sped on their way so 
promptly that, by the morning of the 10th, within thirty-two 
hours of the first kindling of the flames in Chicago, fifty car- 
loads of provisions had arrived, to the relief of the destitute, 
some of them coming from towns three hundred miles away; 
and hundreds of thousands of dollars had been contributed, by 
means of the same beneficent telegraph whose agency had both 
communicated the news of distress and quickened to sensitive- 
ness the hearts of its recipients. 


To mention a few instances of generosity: 

At Milwaukee the news of the conflagration was published 
in the morning papers, and by nine o'clock the whole popula- 
tion was on the street discussing the event excitedly, and wait- 
ing for the extras which appeared at short intervals througlu ut 
the day from the newspaper offices. Three fire-engines were 
dispatched by a special train, which did excellent service in 
Chicago, saving, it is believed, a considerable portion of the 
West Division from destruction. Milwaukee itself was greatly 
threatened, by reason of the drought and neighboring prairie- 
fires, and the Mayor issued a proclamation directing the citizens 
how to proceed as a precaution against fire. The Chamber of 
Commerce took action at noon, which resulted in the filling 
of two cars with cooked provisions. These went by the even- 
ing passenger-train, and arrived in Chicago at half-past seven, in 
charge of Messrs. Larkin and Ilsley, who immediately proceeded 
to distribute the food to the hungry victims of the fire. Further 
contributions of money, food, and other necessaries followed. 

St. Louis proved herself a most generous neighbor. Mayor 
Mason, of Chicago, appealed to her during Monday for aid, and 
Mayor Brown, of St. Louis, addressed himself most bravely to 
the duty of supplying it. He called meetings, dispatched fire- 
engines, and proved himself a host in the emergency. Two 
immense meetings were held, at which the Mayor presided, and 
at the first one (at noon) $70,000 were subscribed, and commit- 
tees appointed to canvass every trade, interest, and profession 
in the city for subscriptions. By five o'clock a relief-train was 
on the track, ready to move, and at the evening meeting it was 
announced that eighty tons more of provisions were ready to 
go. Large quantities of bedding and other articles were also 
made up and dispatched, with the provisions, during the night. 


With the first train a committee was sent, of which Hon. Henry 
T. Blow, late Minister to Brazil, was the moving spirit. This 
committee reported at Chicago at daylight on Tuesday morning, 
and became the nucleus of several such committees, which staid 
in Chicago a week, and rendered valuable assistance, especially 
during the few days before the authorities of the smitten and 
shattered city had fully organized the work of relief. The St. 
Louis Common Council appropriated $50,000 to the relief-fund", 
the County Court a like sum, and contributions from other 
bodies and private citizens swelled the sum to over 500,000, 
or about 1.70 from each man, woman, and child in the city! 

Nor was Cincinnati less prompt and generous. Even as early 
as two o'clock on Monday morning, before even the wave of 
fire had passed the Chicago Court-house, and the half of the 
destruction had not been accomplished much less told in Cin- 
cinnati the editor of the Commercial was penning this para- 
graph, which went out as a double-leaded leader in the morn- 
ing's issue : 

" A TERRIBLE CALAMITY. The news from Chicago is most 
distressing. The most awful fire in the history of the city, and 
one of the most destructive that ever took ph?? in the country, 
is, as we write, raging, and our dispatches indicate a degree of 
alarm almost amounting to despair. It is impossible to con- 
jecture the extent of the calamity. Certainly it is appalling. 
Action should be taken here without a day's delay to express 
our profound sympathy, and to render substantial assistance to 
the multitude of houseless people. The latest intelligence is ab- 
solutely portentious. It seems possible that the whole city may 
be laid desolate." 

This fell upon the popular mind like good seed timely sown. 
Of the scenes enacted and deeds done in Cincinnati during that 


and the following days, Mr. Edward Betty, of the Commercial, 
furnishes for these pages the following account : 

"The reception of the news of the great conflagration in 
this city produced the most profound sensation. The effect 
upon the public mind was such as the news of defeat produced 
during the war for the Union. Business was suspended by 
common consent, and the citizens flocked to the newspaper 
offices in crowds that completely blockaded the sidewalks, and 
required the interference of the police to render pedestrianism 
possible. The suspension of telegraphic communication only 
served to heighten the excitement and make more unendurable 
the terrible suspense, for such was the public sense of the 
calamity that every individual felt that in some manner he was 
a sufferer. 

" This was the condition all of Monday and Monday night, 
October the 9th, but in the midst of the wild whirl, sadness, 
and depression, the sympathies of humanity found expression, 
and during the earlier hours of the day the Chamber of Com- 
merce became the theater for such a spontaneous action, for the 
relief of the burning city, as never was witnessed before in Cin- 

" Governor Hayes arrived by the earliest train from Colum- 
bus, and took an active part in putting in motion the sympa- 
thetic movement. The Chamber subscribed five thousand 
dollars, and adopted a resolution requesting the City Council 
to appropriate a hundred thousand. 

" The Mayor called for private subscriptions, and these com- 
menced to tumble in by the thousand, five, three, and two hun- 
dred dollars, with the money paid down rapidly as the secretary 
could record the names. Before the close of the day the private 
subscriptions amounted to sixty thousand dollars. 


, -"In the meantime a special meeting of the City Council was 
convened by the Mayor. Nearly every member of the body 
was in his seat, and a well-worded resolution was adopted, 
appropriating $100,000 for the relief of Chicago. The Mayor 
announced that he had already dispatched by special train 
three first-class steam fire-engines, and four thousand feet of 
hose. Church societies under the direction of noble Christian 
women, were also called into action, and provisions and cloth- 
ing were prepared in immense quantities. Before the day closed 
a committee with a commissary train, loaded with provisions 
and blankets, was sent off on the wings of steam to succor the 
houseless people of the smitten city, which in the hour of her 
calamity forgot to call upon her bounteous sister on the banks 
of 'the beautiful river/ but left her to/ proffer the helping 
hand, and thereby merit the love of Him who 'loveth the 
cheerful giver/ 

" But the aid movement did not cease here. It was renewed 
next day. By the first trains of Tuesday the 10th October, 
more provisions, blankets, and clothing werq forwarded, and 
one of them conveyed an outfit of type sent to the Chicago 
Tribune, by M. Halstead, Esq., ecUtor of the Cincinnati Com- 
mercial, in a spirit of noble liberality, characteristic of the man. 
The Masonic and Odd Fellows bodies, the Medical Colleges, and 
eleemosynary institutions of the city, all proffered substantial 
aid, and made suitable provision for the sufferers who should 
seek a temporary asylum among them. And, indeed, through- 
out the remainder of the week, the movement was kept up. 
On Sunday the entire Protestant pulpit called aloud upon the 
people for the exercise of the most liberal beneficence, and in 
one week from the day the terrible misfortune fell upon Chi- 
cago, the relief fund had reached two hundred and ten thousand 


dollars. Besides this there were liberal donations of furniture, 
hollow-ware, bedding, clothing, and dry goods for domestic 
use. The list of these is interminable. In brief, every hand 
gave, from the millionaire to the little child in the lowest 
grade of the common schools. Every body seemed to realize 
the blessedness of giving, nor is the stream yet dry. Some of 
the benevolent institutions are making daily provision for the 
unfortunates that may come this way, and it is quite safe to say 
that the call of a Chicago sufferer will meet with a generous 

response for many a day to come. 


"CINCINNATI, Nov. 3, 1871." 

Mr. Betty's description of the general scene the eagerness 
for news, the thronging together in the streets, the pall of sad- 
ness over the countenances in the crowds, and the spontaneous 
outpourings of material aid were all repeated in hundreds of 
cities and thousands of villages and hamlets throughout this 
broad land. 

At New York, where,*bwing to the more eastern longitude 
of the place, the news did not arrive in season to work its full 
effect through the morning journals, measures of relief were 
not organized until Tuesday noon. A great excitement set in, 
however, early on Monday, taking effect most violently in that 
place where New York is most sensitive her Stock Exchange. 
In that institution a panic and fever prevailed, rivaling that 
of the memorable Black Friday. Stocks tumbled under the 
influence of the news, and fortunes melted away as if in the 
full blaze of the fire which was raging a thousand miles away. 
Many refused to believe the accounts of the disaster. The city 
was fairly crazy for news, and nothing else was talked of that 
day but the Chicago calamity. 


New York was more vitally interested than any other city in 
the fate of Chicago. Her merchants had all given extensive 
credits there, and had apparently lost not only their accounts 
but their future custom. Her capitalists all had money invested 
there. Her insurance companies all had heavy risks there, and 
twenty of them were made insolvent by the event. Indeed, 
whe loss, so far as dollars and cents go, fell quite as heavily 
upon New York as upon Chicago. Yet was New York the 
most liberal of all in her good Samaritan labors. At the Cham- 
ber of Commerce the next day the work was organized, and a 
committee, headed by Mr. A. A. Low, submitted an eloquent 
and practical appeal for contributions. These were received at 
the Chamber, at the Gold Exchange, at the Stock Exchange, at 
the Herald office, and by committees who passed around among 

the merchants. Within thirty hours' time nearly half a million 

dollars had been raised, and within a fortnight the aggregate 
had exceeded two millions of dollars, or more than two dollars 
for each inhabitant of the city. A. T. Stewart gave $50,000, 
and Robert Bonner, of the Ledger, $10,000. 

In Philadelphia, a hundred thousand dollars was raised by 
the citizens within an hour, and subscriptions were immediately 
set on foot wfnch realized an aggregate of about half a million 
dollars within ten days. 

Boston rallied in force on Tuesday evening at her glorious 
old Faneuil Hall, " Cradle of Liberty," which now proved a 
cradle of charity as well. Senators Sumner and Wilson, the 
Rev. Edward Everett Hale, and other distinguished orators, 
made eloquent speeches, and the old "cradle" resounded with 
the applause of the multitude whenever the speakers touched 
with emphasis upon the future greatness of Chicago, or the im- 
portance of prompt aid. The Rev. Mr. Hale himself sketches 


the scene at Faneuil Hall thus, in a letter to the Chicago Trib- 
une: " Few men have seen more remarkable public meetings in 
Faneuil Hall than I have, as a school-boy, as a reporter for the 
press, and as a citizen generally. I have, therefore, the right 
/to say that, within this generation, there has been no public 
meeting which could so speak for the best life of Boston as the 
assembly which met almost at a moment's warning, in the midst 
of our agony at our first news from you. It was at noon Tues- 
day. There was none of the false grandeur of a packed plat- 
form ; nobody had been invited, except, perhaps, one or two of 
the speakers; and the only call for the. meeting had been the 
published request that every one would come to Faueuil Hall. 
That is our Boston way in a crisis. We fall back on the in- 
stincts of its pure democracy. Well, I think I have never seen 
such an assembly of men together. The floor was crowded from 
floor to ceiling crowded, you remember, by people standing; 
for the characteristic of a true Faneuil-hall meeting is, that no 
one sits down. It means work. I say no one. But the re- 
porters were sitting, and I was 'sitting among them. As I 
looked down upon that l sea of upturned faces ' to repeat the 
words I heard Mr. Webster use in that place long ago the four 
men I recognized first in the dense throng before me were, 
Franklin Haven, President of the largest bank in .Boston; 
Judge Thomas, late of our Supreme Bench, whom we count 
our first jurist; Henry Wilson, of the United States Senate, 
and your old friend, William B. Wright, the minister of the 
largest Protestant church in Boston. Afterward, of course, I 
recognized hundreds of other men whom I knew; but when, 
at the moment of my arrival, I saw these four representative 
men standing in the dense throng in front of the platform, I 
could not but think that little picture was in itself an illustra- 



tion of the true town-meeting." The depth of the interest felt 
in Boston concerning the calamity of Chicago may be inferred 
from the fact that we find in the Transcript, of the 17th, 276 
items of intelligence bearing upon the subject. It is also worth 
while to add ,that fully a third of them are false, like many 
others of the statements published in the out-of-Chicago press 
right after the fire. In Boston the work of securing aid for the 
sufferers was carefully divided up, and more than half a million 
dollars were obtained within a fortnight. 

Pittsburgh and Louisville made noble contributions, each 
about $150,000 in cash, and many car-loads of clothing and 
other articles. In Pittsburgh, on 'Change, the members and 
citizens pulled off their own coats and threw them into the 
boxes, so enthusiastic was the feeling for giving. Detroit 
raised $35,000 at a public meeting on Monday. Cleveland, 
four hundred miles east of us, sent on twenty-three car-loads 
of food and clothing within twenty-four hours after receiving 
the news of our disaster. Cairo, nearly as far to the south- 
ward, had two car-loads of provisions started toward Chicago 
at eleven o'clock on Monday morning. Indianapolis raised 
$8,000 at once, and sent it, with two well-manned steam fire- 
engines by an extra train, and on Monday evening her Council 
appropriated $20,000. Those gifts were followed up for days 
by others from the less impulsive citizens. By Wednesday 
evening, the second day after the fire, Brooklyn had subscribed 
$112,000 for the relief of the sufferers; Buffalo, $100,000; 
Rochester, $70,500; Baltimore, $35,000; Providence, $21,000; 
Portland (mindful of Chicago's generosity toward her in her 
own hour of need), $11,000; Salem and Lynn, $50,000 each; 
Utica, $20,000; and other American cities an aggregate of 
about $2,000,000 in cash ; besides which, and the contributions 


of goods already referred to, must be mentioned the forces of 
policemen and militia, and some twenty-five steam fire-eugines, 
sent from New York, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Detroit, St. Louis, 
Indianapolis, Dayton, Milwaukee, and Racine, and coming like 
" friends in need, friends indeed." 

The societies and orders Masons, Odd Fellows, Knights of 
Pythias, etc., and the various trades unions contributed to 
their own brethren, through their own channels, and relieved 
much distress which probably would not have been reached 
through the more public methods. 

Excepting for the maintenance of the integrity of the Union, 
the people of America have never voluntarily taxed themselves 
so heavily in any behalf, nor given so cheerfully and spon- 
taneously what they did give. And never, since the thrilling 
events which crowded the last two weeks of the war for the 
Union, have the American people been so agitated and ab- 
sorbed by any event, of whatever nature. 

Nor was the excitement, nor were the blessed benefactions 
confined to this continent. The news of the disaster shocked 
Europe as well, and formed the only topic in the clubs and the 
exchanges of London, Hamburg, Paris, Berlin, and all Euro- 
pean capitals. At London meetings of private citizens, espe- 
cially of Americans there sojourning, were held at once, and sub- 
scriptions opened for the relief of the destitute. The Lord Mayor 
of London went so far as to summon his Aldermen together with- 
out their customary period of notice something which had not, 
probably, been done in years for the purpose of inaugurating 
officially a movement for relief. At the meeting of the Council 
sympathetic speeches were made and a thousand guineas voted; 
after which books were kept open at the Mansion House of the 
Lord Mayor, and something over $200,000 subscribed. Similar 


movements were inaugurated at Liverpool, at Manchester, at 
Birmingham, at Bradford, at Dublin, at Wolverhampton, at 
Southampton, at Edinburgh, at Newcastle, and a hundred 
othe towns of the United Kingdom, and at Vienna, Berlin, 
Hamburg, Paris, and other continental cities. The Queen of 
England and Empress of Germany joined heartily in the cause; 
and it was announced as an item of importance (as it doubtless 
is in England) that Queen Victoria reads every line which ap- 
pears in the newspapers on the subject. If so, she had plenty 
of reading, for the London journals had telegraphed to them 
from Queenstown, where the vessels from America were 
boarded, whole broadsides of American papers having a bear- 
ing upon the all-important topic. 

Thus all the civilized world united in one grand work of 
generous good-will. Thus the sweet exhalations from a hundred 
million true souls came down in a blessed rain of charity, to 
soften the stern soil of our adverstty, and swell the bud of hope 
and gratitude. Thus civilization proved that its beauty was 
not of the surface merely, but deep and constant as the Divine 
love from whence it springs! 



Gathering in the homeless Scenes in the churches Caring for the sick- 
The "Relief and Aid Society" Plan of its work History of its 
operations Board and lodging for 60,000 11,000 houses built and 
furnished for $110 each in two months. 

TTOW was the world's munificence applied? How was all 
-L-L this relief administered? Did human nature, which had 
approved itself so nobly in giving, also stand the strain, both 
of honesty and of tact, and dole out the precious trust to the 
best advantage? 

The fate of the city was known at daylight on Monday 
morning, the 9th ; but at that hour, and indeed until past noon 
of that day, the conflagration was still raging, and threatening, 
we may say, all the remaining portion of the city, including 
the most valuable residence portion on the avenues near the 
lake, which it was approaching by a lateral movement nearly 
at right angles with the wind. The Mayor, who had been on 
duty at the Court-house until that edifice began to tumble about 
his ears, was fighting the fire near his own premises, on Wabash 
Avenue. About noon Mr. Mason was importuned by Alder- 
man Holden, President of the Common Council, and a resident 

of the West Division, to cmne over and do something in his 



official capacity toward reassuring the community and securing 
shelter for the houseless victims of the fire. 

In compliance with this request, the Mayor repaired, at about 
two o'clock, to the First Congregational Church, on West 
Washington Street, of which Mr. Holden had taken possession 
as the headquarters of the City Government. Mr. Holden had 
summoned also Commissioner Brown of the Board of Police, 
and one or two Aldermen, the City Clerk, Mr. Hotchkiss, and 
one or two prominent citizens. Together they drew up a proc- 
lamation of assurance, as recorded in a previous chapter, and 
formed a relief committee, consisting of Orrin E. Moore, Prest., 
C. C. P. Holden, Treat., C. T. Hotchkiss, Secy., John Buehler, 
Aid. Devine, John Herting, Aid. McAvoy, and N. K. Fair- 
banks. This Committee, in anticipation of any funds, secured 
teams, which commenced to gather in the sick and wounded. 
For the accommodation of these, and of such others as came 
in, the churches were all thrown open, some of their own mo- 
tion, some by order of the Relief Committee. Orders were 
given to all the bakers left in the city to run their ovens to 
their full capacity in making bread for the hungry. That night 
one carload of food came in from Milwaukee and was dis- 
tributed to such as called for it. There w^p also much food 
carried out upon the prairies and given to the refugees there 
by the benevolent ladies of the West Division. But water 
was the greatest desideratum in this day, and all, housed 
and unhoused, suffered alike for lack of facilities for pro- 
curing it. 

The vigorous work of relief did not fairly commence until 
Tuesday morning. Early on that morning the committees 
from abroad began to come in, bearing their offerings among 
them the committee from St. Louis, headed by Mr. Blow; the 


committee from Cincinnati, headed by Mr. Goshorn, and a 
committee from Louisville, headed by Wm. M. Morris, came 
later in the day. There was now plenty of food (probably some 
fifty carloads had arrived on Tuesday morning), and supplies of 
clothing were coming in rapidly. The task was to reach the 
sufferers with it, or to bring them to points where aid could be 
conveniently distributed. For this purpose, teams were sent 
out to bring the weak and infirm into the city, and gather them 
into the churches. To give them beds, the seats were stripped 
/ of their cushions, and mattresses were brought in from the 
houses of the citizens. Five hundred cots sent from' the 
Planters' House, St. Louis, and a quantity of blankets from 
the army stores, were found of great value now. 

The women of the city came nobly to the rescue. Their first 
impulse, on learning of the state of suffering of thousands on 
the prairie, was to snatch up all the food they had, and all the 
clothing, except immediate wear, and hurry with them to the 
sufferers. Stories of starvation were rife, and were generally 
credited the hearers forgetting, in their warm impulse to suc- 
cor, that people could not starve in twenty-four hour's time, 
and would not, when provisions were so near at hand. There 
was really less suffering from exposure and hunger than the 
world was left to suppose from the news which went out dur- 
ing the first few days after the fire. One of the angels of 
mercy already referred to, a lady of the West Divison, tells an 
amusing story of her hopeless attempt to find some one who was 
really suffering for food or clothing on the Tuesday mentioned. 
She drove among all the fugitives, offering food and clothing. 
The former was a drug in the market, and for the latter she 
could not find suitable customers until she came upon an elderly 
Irish woman, nearly naked, and fairly howling with distress. 


Delighted at the opportunity of relieving such acute suffering, 
the lady hastened to "rig out" the poor creature with a com- 
plete set of apparel clothing which was by no means of the 
"cast-off" variety. She was rewarded by copious tears and 
invocations of blessings from the "Holy Mother/' and on re- 
turning that way a few minutes later, she had the satisfaction 
of seeing her beneficiary stripped again and in the same state 
of howling misery as before, the good clothing having been 
spirited away and stored up, or perphaps sold for whisky! 

Such cases of imposition -as this were, however, the excep- 
tions* and the fact that respectable people were obliged to con- 
sort with such mendicants and imposters as these, and be 
subjected to the same questioning as they, before receiving aid, 
only illustrates one of the most painful phases of the calamity. 

The work of administering succor was systematized as rap- 
idly as possible, and by Wednesday shelter had been provided 
for all who were houseless, and immense depots for the distri- 
bution of food and clothing were in operation at nearly all the 
churches. The cooking and serving was all done by lady vol- 
unteers, and the draft was a very severe one upon the women 
of the city, who not only served as the almoners of the bounty 
from abroad, but carried plentiful stores of delicacies from their 
own larders, in order that the victims of the fire might feel 
their privation as little as possible. The building of commo- 
dious barracks for housing the homeless was commenced at once 
in all the eligible vacant place's in the city, and many of these 
were already occupied by Friday night. 

By this time the work of relief had grown so in magnitude 
(hat it began to suffer seriously for want of organization. A 
responsible head was wanted to receive and account for the mu- 
nificent offerings of the outside world, and a skillful executive 






agency for the just distribution Q the benefits, so that no real 
suffering should go unrelieved, and, if possible, no bounty be 
wasted upon the undeserving. Fortunately, there was already 
existing in Chicago, a Relief and Aid Society which had, for 
several years, made- the succor of the needy its care, and had 
accomplished a vast amount of good in the relief of special cases 
of misfortune. It was an incorporated institution, jts directory 
and officers consisted of men of the very best character, and 
it had a system of seeking out cases of need and administering 
relief, which adapted it happily to the work now before it. Its 
principal officers are, Henry W. King, President; George M. 
Pullman, Treasurer ; Wirt Dexter, Chairman of the Executive 
Committee; and O. C. Gibbs, Superintendent.* The President 
is mainly a figure-head, the others are active; and Mr. Gibfys 
is the only professional philanthropist among the officers that 
is, who receives a regular salary for his services in this line. 
Mr. Pullman is the inventor of the famous palace-cars, and has 
become a millionaire through the revenues of his car system. 
Mr. Dexter is a business lawyer of extensive practice and large 

To this Society the work of relief was intrusted by the 
Mayor on the Friday following the fire. The contributions of 
cash were to be received by David A. Gage, Esq., the City 
Treasurer, and turned over by him, without delay, to the fund 
of the Relief Society, taking the Treasurer's voucher therefor. 
Other contributions were to be receipted for and reported to 
the Mayor. 

Under these conditions, the Relief Society strengthened a 

weak spot or two in its officering or organization, expanded 

somewhat its plan of operations, and addressed itself to the 

mighty task before it, of relieving a hundred thousand des- 



titute persons, many of whom were too sensitive, or, as their 
neighbors would say, "too high toned" to apply for aid; to 
keep out many thousand undeserving applicants who would 
fain avail themselves of an opportunity to feed, lodge, and dress 
at the public expense through the winter; and to satisfy a 
million or more of generous donors, who, knowing the cor- 
ruption to which nearly all administrations in large cities have 
become subject, could not but be jealous upon the matter of 
the distribution of their bounty. The plan upon which this 
was to be accomplished was briefly this : A treasurer to receive 
funds and account for them (necessitating, of course, a very 
complete set of books, and some " red tape ") ; an executive 
committee, to pss upon all questions concerning the general 
policy of the Society, and upon all bills brought against the 
Society; a superintendent to portion out the work in the field, 
and supervise the labors of the district superintendents; seven 
committees beside the executive committee, viz : (1) On receiv- 
ing, storing, and issuing supplies; (2) on shelter; (3) on 
employment; (4) on transportation; (5) on reception and 
correspondence; (6) on distribution of food, clothing, and fuel; 
and (7) on sick, sanitary, and hospital measures. The plan 
further embraced a series of districts, each with a local super- 
intendent, a main depot, sub-districts and sub-depots for 
the distribution of supplies ; also a complete system of house-to- 
house visitation, by which each district superintendent, or cer- 
tain of his aids, should know each recipient of bounty by his 
or her place of abode, as well as face. The method of distribu- 
tion was somewhat similar to that of the quartermaster's 
department in the army, being by rations, and upon requisitions; 
but there was, of course, as there should be, much less "red 
tape," and much more elasticity of operation. A fuller state- 


ment of the plan will be found in Appendix " D," where we 
print the report of Major-General Meade and others, a com- 
mittee sent hither by the Philadelphia contributors to examine 
into the workings of the relief business, and ascertain whether 
their bounty was being faithfully and wisely administered. It 
will be perceived that these gentlemen are very positive and un- 
qualified in their praise of the arrangements for relief; a ver- 
dict, which, with perhaps advantages for observation superior 
to those of the Philadelphia committee, we can conscientiously 

As a matter of ourse, the temptations to exercise favoritism 
in the distribution of benefits is very great in a community 
where almost every person can rightfully put forward some ex- 
cuse for receiving gratuities, and where a general prevalence of 
hard times takes away in many cases the barrier of pride which 
would otherwise deter persons from accepting relief from a pub- 
lic source. To guard against this, very close supervision and 
very trustworthy officers and employe's are necessary ; and, 
though the theory of the system requires that two undeserving 
applicants shall be served rather than one deserving person be 
neglected, the superintendent found himself compelled, in order 
to carry all his pensioners through the winter upon the funds 
in hand, to exercise great precautions against imposition, and 
against fostering habits of dependence and indolence. Accord- 
ingly, Mr. Gibbs found it necessary to issue, on the 24th of 
October, a circular to the employes of the Society under his 
command, of which the following is the body : 

" I am fully justified in saying that, in taking into account the amount 
of relief funds and stores received or reported to date, and those likely to 
be received hereafter, without the most rigid economy in their disburse- 
ment, mid-winter is likely to find us with our treasury bare, with outdoor 


labor to a large extent necessarily suspended, and with a city full of poor 
looking to us for food and fuel. You will, therefore, see the pressing ne- 
cessity that not a single dollar be appropriated for persons able to provide 
for themselves, no matter how strongly their claims may be urged by them- 
selves or others. Every carpenter or mason can now earn from three to 
four dollars per day, every laborer two dollars, every half-grown boy one 
dollar, every woman capable of doing household work from two to three 
dollars per week and her board, either in the city or country. Clerks and 
persons unaccustomed to outdoor labor, if they can not find such employ- 
ment as they have been accustomed to, must take such as is offered, or 
leave the city. Any man, single woman, or boy, able to work and unem- 
ployed at this time, is so from choice, and not from necessity. You will, 
therefore, at once commence the work of re-examination of the cases of 
all persons who have been visited and recorded upon your books, and 
will give no aid to any families who are capable of earning their own 
support if fully employed, except it be to supply some needed articles of 
clothing, bedding, or furniture, which their earnings will not enable them to 
procure and at the same time meet their ordinary expenses of food and 

"No aid should be rendered to persons possessed of property, either 
personal or real, from which they might by reasonable exertion procure 
the means to supply their wants, nor to those who have friends able to 
relieve them. 

" Our aid must be held sacred for the aged, infirm, widows, and orphans, 
and to supply to families those actual necessaries of life, which, with the 
best exertions on their part, they are unable to procure by their labor. 
You will entrust this work of re-examination to your most judicious and 
intelligent visitors, who will act conscientiously and fearlessly in the 
discharge of their duties. 

"This circular is issued with the full approval of the Executive Com- 
mittee, and any failure on the part of any employ^ of the Society to 
conform to the instructions above given will be regarded as sufficient cause 
for his instant dismissal." 

On the same day the treasurer submitted to the public the 
following report, which we give as showing not only the mag- 


nitude of the work, but the proportions of the expenditures for 
different objects: 

Total amount cash received in direct remittances, . . $ 599,276 12 
Total amount for which drafts have been made and sent 

forward for collection, 726,752 16 

Total amount for which drafts have been drawn, and are to 

be forwarded to-morrow, 160,957 78 

Aggregate receipts, $1,486,986 06 

Disbursements to date, 34,449 80 

Balance on hand, $1,452,836 26 

Of this amount there is on deposits in banks of this city, 649,208 10 

In banks of New York, 419,657 17 

In banks of Boston, 128,462 84 

In banks of Montreal, 2,500 00 

Total, $1,199,828 11 

Drafts to be sent on for collection, 160,957 78 

Cash on hand, principally checks, 92,050 37 

Total, $1,452,836 26 

The estimated requisitions for the next thirty days are as 

For houses and barracks, including those already com- 
pleted, $ 850,000 00 

For stoves and furniture, . . . . . . . 150,000 00 

For bedding, 80,000 00 

For fuel, , 100,000 00 

For food, 750.000 00 

For labor and teams, . 45,000 00 

Total, . . . . $1,975,000 00 

The stock of clothing on hand and advised of as being on 
the way, is supposed to be sufficient to supply the demand for 
the next thirty days. 


In the last days of October some scandal was raised concern- 
ing the disposition of certain funds during the provisional ad- 
ministration of the so-called Relief Committee a self-consti- 
tuted body, composed, for the most part, of unquestionably 
honest men, but still having no responsible or tangible or prac- 
ticable organization. One of the members of that committee, 
Mr. Holden, was a candidate for the mayoralty, and the news- 
papers, all of wliich were arrayed against him, came out in 
articles impugning the honesty and disinterestedness of his 
administration as custodian of the relief fund; so that, although 
he disproved their main allegations, and though he was then 
entirely disconnected from the relief business, the stench raised 
over the subject served undoubtedly to deter a few contribu- 
tions which had been raised from coming to Chicago; but the 
friends of the sufferers can have the consolation of knowing that 
the subscriptions were nearly all in at that time, and that com- 
paratively little was lost in this way. On the 28th of October 
Mr. Dexter sent out telegrams to " our friends throughout the 
civilized world," asking complete duplicate reports of all their 
gratuities, with the obvious purpose of tracing up any miscar- 
riages or misappropriations, if there should be such ; but with- 
out any unpleasant discoveries so far. 

On the 7th of November, six weeks after the fire, and five 
weeks after the Society had fairly commenced business, the ex- 
ecutive committee had received 5859 applications for houses, 
and had granted 4299 of these. On that day the committee 
reported further : 

"We are now able to give the amount received to this date, and the prob- 
able amount of the entire subscriptions, with approximate accuracy. We 
have actually received $2,051,023.55. Arrangements have been made by 
which the Society draws 5 per cent, on all balances in bank. So far aa 


our present information goes, and we think we have advices of all sums 
subscribed, the entire fund will vary but little from $3,500,000. This in- 
cludes the funds in the hands of the New York Chamber of Commerce, 
amounting to about $600,000, and the balance of the Boston fund, about 
$240,000, both amounting to about $840,000, not yet placed to the credit 
of this Society, but which may undoubtedly be relied upon to meet the 
needs of the future. As to our disbursements, we can only say that we 
are at present aiding 60,000 people at our regular distributing points. 
Some of this vast number we relieve in part only, but the greater portion 
to the extent of their entire support. This is in addition to the work of the 
special relief committee for people who ought not to be sent to the general 
distributing points, and which is largely increasing upon our hands. It is 
also in addition to the expenditures of the committee on existing charita- 
ble institutions. 

" The great matter pressing upon the committee is shelter for the com- 
ing winter. We may feed people during the mild weather, but where and 
how they are to be housed permanently housed we regard as a serious 
question. To this end we have been aiding those burned out to replace 
small but comfortable houses upon their own or upon leased lots, where 
they can live, not only this winter, but next summer, and be ready to work 
in rebuilding the city. Of these houses which are really very comforta- 
ble, being 16 by 25 feet, with two rooms, one 12 by 16 feet, and one 8 by 
16 feet, with a planed and matched floor, panel doors, and good windows 
we have already furnished over 4000, making permanent houses, allowing 
five to a family, for 20,000 people, and with the 7000 houses which we 
expect to build, shall have rooms for 35,000 people. These houses and 
some barracks, in both of which is a moderate outfit of furniture, such as 
stoves, mattresses, and a little crockery, will consume, say $1,250,000, leav- 
ing $2,250,000 with which to meet all tho demands for food, fuel, clothing 
and general expenses, from the 13th of October last when we took the 
work until the completion of the same, which can not possibly end with 
the present winter. 

"The committee need hardly say, that if the demand should continue as 
great as the present, the fund would be exhausted by mid-winter, but we 
hope to cut this down very largely as soon as we can get people into 
houses, so that they can leave their families and find work. Indeed, this 


is being done already. Within a few days we shall arrive at the exact 
daily expense of food and fuel rations; but the demand, as might be ex- 
pected, is a fluctuating one. If the weather is good and men can work, 
it falls off; if cold and stormy, it at once increases at a fearful rate." 

In addition to the labors of the Relief Society, much was 
done toward succoring the distressed by benevolent and co-ope- 
rative societies, and by individual munificence; and among the 
most wholesome of the agencies called into operation was the 
Ladies Industrial Aid Society, formed for the purpose of fur- 
nishing remunerative labor to those women and girls whose 
self-respect prompted them to earn a livelihood, but who found 
themselves deprived of opportunities by the general contraction 
of business; also the Ladies Christian Union, which labored 
for the same praiseworthy end. 

It is hardly necessary for us to observe, in leaving this sub- 
ject, that there were necessarily many cases of distress, or of 
privation bordering on physical distress, and including a great 
deal of mental distress, which it was impossible to relieve. A 
special bureau, organized for the purpose as a branch of the 
Relief Society, did much in this direction; but it could not do 
all that was simply impossible. Indeed, for those many cases 
of misery which resulted from lost station, or fallen pride, or 
blighted ambition, or bereavement of kindred, it was impossi- 
ble, even if the constituted authorities had the whole wealth of 
London at their command, to administer relief. 

This is, of course, a matter of grave regret; but it must be 
added that a good deal of mawkish sentiment was wasted on 
the cases of those who were " too proud to beg," and yet not 
too proud to accept bounty if it was offered them. Such, it was 
argued, must be sought out and pressed to take little delicacies 
and choice tidbits of charity, and furnished with enough of 





filthy lucre to keep them through the winter in at least a shabby 
genteel manner, as if they were the heirs of the world and 
were kept on a rather stingy allowance until they should come 
into their inheritance. Now pride is a quality, or faculty, or 
habit, quite as simple to regulate as any other faculty for in- 
stance, physical appetite; to indulge it costs money, or ought 
to. If a person values his pride highly enough to do without 
money, or food, he can indulge it at that expense and rejoice in 
the act. If his appetite for food or for gain is stronger than 
his pride, he sacrifices the latter, and rejoices in his bargain all 
the same. Pride is a luxury, and should be paid for like all 
other luxuries. The man who can keep his pride through ad- 
versity has reason to felicitate himself upon it; but he has no 
right to demand that his pride be. kept up for him at the public 
expense. Receiving charity and at the same time affecting to 
despise it, is the meanest kind of hypocrisy, and is moreover as 
foolish as the scheme of the chtld who thought that he could eat 
his cake and have it too. We have no sincerer tears than those 
which flow for the ambitious young Chicagoaus who found 
themselves smitten at once in their purse, pride, and prospects, 
and who therefore had a mental and moral blight added to the 
physical privation which the fire brought on ; but such was the 
fate of many who bore it heroically ; and the man who came 
out of the fire poor, and yet never asked nor received gratuities 
during all the trying period that followed, has the best title of 
all to be proud henceforth. 




Enjoying a bonfire of one's valuables How a lap-dog was saved Burning 
up the freedom of the Negroes "Billy, propose a resolution" The 
first conundrum of the new era The calamitous cow No confidence 
in Chicago as a ruin The pathetic ballad of Eva Boston, etc. 

who think there were no comical or humorous ele- 
-- ments about so vast an affair as the Chicago fire, labor 
under a great mistake. There were many such, and, far from 
the people being overwhelmed by the shocking events of the 
catastrophe, the reaction of the mind from the state into which 
it would be thrown by that scene and its consequences, rather 
heightened the appreciation of the ridiculous. This is not a 
phenomenon it is a simple and very natural fact, which the 
reader has doubtless had occasion to observe before now, that 
the extremely pathetic and the ludicrous often blend with one 
another. Such was the case with a gentleman in the North 
Division, who tells us, between his convulsions of laughter, 
excited by the recollection, how, on the night of the principal 
fire, having found his own house on the verge of destruction, 
and loaded some of his most prized keepsakes, such as an heir- 
loom easy .chair, etc., upon a wagon which his man drove, and 
following after with a small load in his buggy, he was thrown 
into a violent fit of laughter at seeing the goods upon the front 


wagon blazing up in the streets before his eyes, and behind the 
back of the unsuspecting driver. The gentleman is unable to 
this day to tell what there was funny in the sight, but knows 
that it affected him ludicrously, just as the recollection of it has 
ever since. 

The selections, which people made in their flight, of articles 
to save, was almost invariably ludicrous, or at least remarkable. 
Women for the most part took pets, as canary birds, lap-dogs, 
etc., while men tried to save valuables, but were often greatly 
confounded to find, on escaping from immediate danger, that 
they had brought away an empty cigar-box, or some such rub- 
bish, instead of their title deeds or private ledger. One gen- 
tleman, to our knowledge, rushed up stairs, seized a box of 
paper collars and bore it away, leaving a valuable paid-up life- 
insurance policy in the same drawer; and it is credibly related 
that an exquisite young man was seen emerging from a" board- 
ing house on Wabash Avenue, very fastidiously dressed, and 
bearing solemnly in his hand an article of chamber furniture 
with which, to say the least, he would not have been seen thus 
in his cooler moments. Equally ludicrous was the sight of 
two young women one a mother, evidently, escaping in a 
basket carriage to the west side. They were fashionably 
dressed, aid were lashing their horse to the top of his speed. 
One of them held, clear from the ground with great difficulty, 
a baby carriage, while the other plied the whip. A gentleman 
meeting them, ejaculates, " Your dog, ma'am," bat they dash on, 
unheeding. The object of the gentleman's solicitude a poodle 
of diminutive size was attached to the axle of the carriage 
and bobbing about like a foot-ball. He had been fastened 
with the tenderest care, with plenty of padding about his neck, 
but none, unfortunately, around his head, which was beaten 


nearly to a jelly, the dog being very dead. But the ladies were 
happy in the fallacy that they had saved their precious pet. 

A curious fact (at least the Southern papers tell it for a 
fact), was the notion of the simpler negroes at the South, that 
since the original draft of the Emancipation Proclamation of 
President Lincoln was burned up in the fire, they must all be 
remanded to slavery! The New Orleans Picayune tells of a 
lady in that city who was reading to her servants an account 
of the Chicago fire. The incident of the burning of the 
Emancipation Proclamation arrested the attention of one old 
colored woman, a slave all her life, who viewed the proclama- 
tion much as the Israelites did the Ark of the Covenant. 
"What dat!" she said, "burned up?" "Yes, aunty, burned 
up." "Den what gwine come of us again?" "I don 't know; 
may be you '11 be slaves as before." " Den dis chile gwiue to 
die right now." 

It is related, but we have not been able to trace the story to 
its origin, that an elderly gentleman from Iowa, hearing of the 
calamity, hastened immediately to Chicago to aid his son and 
his family perhaps snatch them from their burning house. 
Hearing at one of the stations that the Water-works had given 
out, he purchased a cask, filled it with water, and brought it 
along with great care. It is even said that he was charged 
forty dollars by an expressman for carrying it to his son's house 
on the west side, which the old man paid willingly, as it had 
not yet occurred to him that water was to be had from the lake 
by going thither 

Some newsboys and bootblacks from Chicago sought refuge 
in New York right after the fire. Their colleagues of that 
metropolis were anxious to do something hospitable for them, 
and so called a meeting at the headquarters of their guild for 


the reception of the afflicted strangers. One of the leaders of 
the fraternity, feeling that the eyes of the country were on them, 
and that a speech, a resolution, or something, was necessary to 
redeem the occasion, rose to the emergency and to his feet, and 
remarked, impressively: 

" Gentlemen : You know about the Chicago fire, and that 
these gentlemen (pointing to the ten Chicagoans) are sufferers. 
I now want to tell 'em that we 're sorry for 'em. Our subscrip- 
tion list is making up, and I heard Mr. O'Connor say 'twill 
amount to 8.25, which they will get, though it 's small, and 
not as much as we 'd like to. That's all I have to say, except 
that if these gentlemen stay here we '11 post 'em." 

Another boy. "Billy, propose a resolution." 

Billy. " I move that we 're awful sorry for the sufferings of 
the newsboys and blnck-a-boots of the Chicago, and that if they 
stay we post 'em, and that any thing we can do we will do to 
help 'em, and that we're sorry it ain't more than $8.25." 

It seems that being " posted," is the sine qua non of hap- 
piness with the newsboy, and that the intention of Billy's 
" resolution " was, therefore, to confer the highest honor upon 
the visiting gentlemen. 

Jokes began to peep out in the columns of the daily papers 
after a few days had elapsed since the fire. It may be set down 
(though, perhaps, upon rather insufficient data) that after a 
great conflagration conundrums will begin to appear in the 
local press after twelve days. At any rate the Tribune, of the 
21st of October, contained this : " The following is, we believe, 
the first conundrum which was raked up from the ashes of the 
great Conflagration. It was brought into the local room of the 
Tribune by a suspicious-looking character, whose hair was com- 
pletely singed off, and whose right cheek was covered with flout 


to conceal a terrible scar left by the fire. He did not wait to 
claim any reward: 

" Conundrum. Whnt is the difference between Theodore 
Thomas and the Emperor Xero? 

" Answer. The one fiddled away t while his Rome was burn- 
ing, and the other roamed away while his fiddles were burning." 

Various squibs soon began to float, having reference to the 
dire cow of De Koven Street; and what purported to be accu- 
rate likenesses of the cow with crumpled horn, that kicked the 
lamp, that lit the straw, that fired the barn, that burned Chi- 
cago up, were published in some of the flash newspapers. The 
name of the lecturers who presently set out through the coun- 
try to tell what they knew about the fire, was legion; and the 
happy thought struck some one, that the notorious bovine 
would be a good " card," if she could be taken around and ex- 
hibited along with somebody's lecture. 

No one was allowed to joke about the fire who had not been 
completely "cleaned out" himself. One of the monthly jour- 
nals, which had fulfilled this condition, had this squib, apropos 
of the oft-repeated remark that Chicago will rise again : 

" We are constantly assured that ' Chicago will rise again.' 
We hope so, and are inclined to believe it, .like the man of 
whom Hood tells, who, being run over by a heavy wagon, 
looked up to the frightened neighbors who had gathered about 
him, and asked if he was flat. On being assured that he was 
not, he remarked : ' Oh, well, then never fear, boys, I'll come 
round again.'" 

The impression that Chicago would "come round again" 
was world-wide; and Punch, of London, urged Englishmen to 
hurry up their donations faster than they were doing, or else 
Chicago would be all built up before their offerings should 


reach her. The same story was told in the American fashion, 
at St. Louis, a few days after the fire, thus : 

"At the East St. Louis depot, on last Monday evening, con- 
siderable confusion occurred among the passengers who were 
boarding the passenger-train for Chicago, by an individual, 
carpet-bag in hand, and very much excited, shoving and push- 
ing the crowd in .his desperate efforts to reach the cars. He 
crowded aside and elbowed men, women, and children, making 
a nuisance of himself generally. Finally a gentleman, whose 
ribs had been crushed by the excited man's elbows, and his tern 
per ruffled by the unceremonious manner in which he haa been 
hustled, inquired in sharp tones : 

"'What the devil is the matter with you, old fellow?' 

"Man in a Hurry. 'Must get that train.' 

" Other Man. l Well, there is plenty of time the train does 
not start for ten minutes; and, besides, there are several other 
people here who want that train.' 

"Man in a Hurry. 'I must get that train, and that's fixed. 
I'll get that train if it costs me my life.' 

" Other Man. ' What in thunder is the necessity of your reach- 
ing Chicago by this train, any way?' 

" Man in a Hurry. ' I must get to Chicago to-morrow, on 
this train, or those people up there will have "built up the whole 
town again, and I won't see them ruins.' " 

The -way in which the town was built up at first, was 
more calculated to spoil the picturesqueness of the old Chicago 
than to inspire admiration for the new. Among the first build- 
ings to "rise phoenix-like from the ashes," as the orators were 
fond of saying, in those days, was the " Burnt District Restau- 
rant," a stately edifice of rough pine boards, one story high. 
" Hammer & Smith's Block " so labelled was a less imposing 


structure about 7 x 9 in dimensions, built at an expense of 
perhaps $40, for a lawyer's office. 

We have referred to the effect of the fire in bringing out the 
salient points of human nature, just as heat brings out the stamp 
of a piece of coin. The weakness of Boston human nature, as 
is well known, is for sounding the praises of Boston on all 
occasions. Some did .this under circumstances which were to 
them doubtless pathetic, while to the unsympathizing they were 
simply ludicrous. A young pair of parents, for instance victims 
of the fire wrote gushingly to a Boston newspaper how they 
owed their lives to Boston on that occasion to a pair of Boston 
blankets, namely (no other kind would have saved them) ; also 
to some Boston crackers, a bundle of baby clothes from Boston, 
and even a nursing bottle for the little child, who was straight- 
way christened Eva Boston and set to sucking tb.e precious 
memento. Whether the poor child had abstained from all 
nourishment until the bottle arrived from BOSTON, we do not 
know, but are left to infer that she did. A syir pathizing poet 
in Milwaukee was so overcome by the recital oi these touching 
events that he immediately sat down and dashed ^ff the follow- 
ing lullaby for little Eva Boston to be sung to a flowing 
accompaniment from the nursing bottle : 

Air Yankee Doodle. 

Boston Boston Boston Boston 

Boston Boston Boston 
Boston Boston Boston Boston 

Boston Boston Boston. 

CHORUS. Boston Boston Boston Boston 

Boston Boston Boston 
Boston Boston Boston Boston 
Boston Boston Boston. 


A newspaper in southern Illinois tells the following good 
story of a Mr. Hudson, a railroad superintendent at Macoupin. 
"Whether it is or is not true in all its particulars, it will at least 
remind many of the readers of this history of their own expe- 
rience in relieving Chicago : 

"Upon hearing of the burning of Chicago, his first act was to 
telegraph to all agents to transport free, all provisions for Chi- 
cago, and to receive such articles to the exclusion of freight. 
He then purchased a number of good hams and sent them home 
with a request to his wife to cook them as soon as possible, so 
they might be sent to Chicago. He then ordered the baker to 
put up fifty loaves of bread. He was kept busy during the day 
until five o'clock. Just as he was starting for home the baker 
informed him the hundred loaves of bread were ready. 

"But I only ordered fifty/' said Hudson. 

" Mrs. Hudson also ordered fifty," said the baker. 

" All right," said H., and he inwardly blessed his wife for 
the generous deed. 

"Arriving at home he found his little boy, dressed in a fine 
cloth suit, carrying in wood. He told him that would not do; 
he must change his clothes. 

" But mother sent all my clothes to Chicago," replied the 

" Entering the house he found his wife, clad in a fine silk dress, 
superintending the cooking. A remark in regard to the matter 
elicited the information that she had sent her other dresses to 

" The matter was getting serious. He sat down to a supper 
without butter, because all that could be purchased had been 
sent to Chicago. There were no pickles the poor souls in 
Chicago would relish them so much. 


"A little "put out," but not a bit angry or disgusted, he 
went to the wardrobe to get his overcoat, but it was not there. 
An interrogatory revealed the fact that it fitted in the box real 
well, and he needed a new overcoat any way, although he had 
paid $50 For the one in question only a few days before. An 
examination revealed the fact that all the rest of his clothes 
fitted the box real nicely, for not a garment did he possess 
except those he had on. 

" While he admitted the generosity of his wife, he thought the 
matter was getting entirely too personal, and turned to her 
with the characteristic inquiry : 

" Do you think we can stand an encore on that Chicago 

There is neat humor, and, at the same 'time a fine touch of 
true feeling, in the following verses, by W. H. McElroy, which 
were printed in the Albany Journal shortly after the fire, and 
with which we conclude this chapter : 


We used to chaff you in other days, 

You had such self-asserting ways, 


By Jove, but you cut it rather fat, 
With your boastful talk of this and that, 
As if America's hub was at 


We Bohemian boys on the Eastern press, 

We lied about you, and nothing less ; 


'T was a way we had without remorse 
To manufacture "another divorce," 
And locate it at as a matter of course 



The star of empire on its wny West, 

You said, concluded that it was best, 


To fix itself in your special sky, 
Unmoved by further claim or cry, 
And you hailed the star as " good for high," 


You called New York so said, at least, 

Called it " Chicago of the East." 


Now, was n't it cutting it rather fat, 
To venture on such a speech as that, 
As if the hub was certainly at 


But we loved you in spite of your many airs, 

If it was n't for wheat there would n't be tares, 


And so as we heard your trumpets blow, 
Loud as theirs were at Jericho, 
We said "Well one thing, she isn't slow" 


And when of your terrible trouble we learned, 

How your fair young beauty to ashes was turned, 


The whole land rose in its love and might, 
And swore it would see you through your plight, 
And " Draw by the million on us at sight, 


We used to remark, of course with pity, 

That you were our champion wickedest city, 


And yet, just now, you very well may 
Insist with reason we can't gainsay, 
That you are the power for good to-day, 



For if unto Charity it is given, 

To hide no end of sins from Heaven, 


The Recording Angel his pen may take, 
And blot out the record we daily make, 
And write on the margin ''for charity's sake* 

At Chicago, 



bonie wholesome effects of adversity Business faults corrected Aristoc- 
racy scotched out How fire purifies How individuals may attain 
improvement How the -body politic How humanity The sublimest 
spectacle of the century. 

HENRY WARD BEECHER, whose ready sympathies 
doubtless entitled him to make such a remark, notwith- 
standing he lost nothing by the fire, declared in Plymouth Church 
on the Sunday following, that " we could not afford to do with- 
out the Chicago fire" that it was revealing to us such cheering 
views of humanity that it was proving a blessing, rather than a 
calamity. Some caviled at this optimist view of the case, and 
likened Mr. Beecher to the oriental prince, who, discovering in 
the ruins of his father's house, which the fire had consumed, the 
carcass of a pig most exquisitely roasted, was so delighted with 
the discovery that he kept burning down his subjects' houses, 
in order that he might enjoy more roast pig. 

This moral salvage from the ashes of the great calamity we 
will leave out of the consideration for the present, and notice 
some of the unquestioned material advantages to be realized as 
a partial recompense perhaps the reader will say a complete 
recompense for the manifold evils which our narration has 

made apparent These advantages lie mainly in the correction 



of besetting faults, which it is fair to assume would not have 
been corrected if the city had not been burned; and their real- 
ization depends in some measure upon the willingness of the 
Chicagoans to receive the lessons of the fire; though not 
wholly, for there are some corrections which they must receive, 
whether they will or no. 

One of the faults of Chicago business, and one which had 
long been notorious, was the artificial inflation of the real estate 
market constantly going on. Hundreds of real estate brokers, 
agents, and speculators (and the number had been rapidly in- 
creasing every year), were striving together to keep prices 
advancing, to bring into market as city property thousands of 
wild acres, miles beyond the city limits, and to "turn over" 
each piece of property as many times a year as possible. To 
forward these plans, rings were formed and public appropria- 
tions secured for the location of parks or public buildings con- 
tiguous to the property of the speculators. The course of the 
market was not left for natural laws to regulate, but was forced 
by artificial means this way or that; and much capital, and still 
more business energy, was kept by this means out of channels 
of enterprise wherein they would have wrought much good to 
the community. These speculators on margins and operators 
in what was called " boulevard property," were, like large num- 
bers of the purely speculative operators on 'change, pretty 
thoroughly scotched out by the flames. Whatever may be said 
about the expansive effect of heat on most materials, the heat 
of this conflagration had a decidedly shriveling effect upon 
suburban real estate; and some "beautiful acre property" in 
the far suburbs was about as effectually burned up as any mer- 
chandise in the center of the town. The destruction of the 
records of the county, at the Court-house, also gave the fire 


another effect which few will lament, viz: to wipe out the evi- 
dences which made tax titles valid, and land high and dry 
many of the sharks who preyed upon the delinquent tax- 

It may also, probably, be scored down to the credit of the 
fire that it checked the too rapid spread of the city in all 
directions, which was bound to result in great sacrifices of 
economy in time and money. The same was true with regard 
to business, which was scattering broadly over the city, the 
warehouses and shops of scarcely any line of business being 
within convenient distance of each other. This made the trans- 
action of business more expensive, both to the jobbers and to 
the country dealers who favored them with their trade. 

The fire is expected to exercise a great reforming effect upon 
the character of the building done in Chicago after the date of 
its occurrence. The very inflammable character of the build- 
ings in most parts of the city has been already adverted to. 
But even in the quarter which has been called " well built" by 
strangers, as well as by citizens, there was altogether too much 
regard paid to show, and too little to utility. Chicago, though 
a mere stripling of a city, already enjoyed the credit of having 
the most elegant business architecture of any city in the world. 
The boast was too bold, altogether, though it had many facts 
for its' foundation. Nevertheless, there was scarcely any of the 
fine buildings of Chicago which were not marred by tawdry 
ornaments, endangering its safety. Many of them were mass- 
ive, looking like very Samsons for strength; but they all had 
the vulnerable heel of Achilles. In the new era it certainly 
may be expected that this fault will be mended, that publio 
opinion will demand laws compelling the erection of strong, 
fire-proof buildings only, and forbidding any man^to place in 


jeopardy the lives and property of his fellow-citizens, in order 
that he may save a few dollars for himself. We piust add, in 
candor, that the outset of the New Chicago is not in the highest 
degree reassuring on this subject, and that, so far as present 
appearances go, people are to be left very much to their own 
devices regarding the style of their building, after the old Chi- 
cago fashion, which allows individuals all rights, and the public 
at large none. But at the writing of this, the new city govern- 
ment, which was elected as a " Fire-proof" government, and upon 
which the people depend for a more firm, upright, and intelli- 
gent conduct of municipal affairs than heretofore, had not as- 
sumed its functions. 

The charter election, which followed soon after the conflagra- 
tion, furnishes one of the finest illustrations of the truism that 
"fire purifies." It was shown in business most unmistakably. 
The fire assayed the metal of which our merchants were made, 
purifying the gold from the dross, showing the great importers 
of the East which was good and which was bad, and leaving 
the name of many a Chicago merchant, who thought himself 
bankrupt, shining more brightly than ever in the ledgers and 
memories of his creditors at the East. It made an in-vincible 
Gideon's band of the stanch tradesmen along South Water Street, 
Lake Street, State Street, etc. But it purified our politics in a 
still more marked manner. When the fire happened, the city 
was on the eve of a charter and county election, with an almost 
certain prospect that the nominations for the offices to be filled 
would, as usual, be conferred on the claes who made it their 
business to seek those offices for the spoils that are in them. 

The citizens felt, however, that this would be too great a mis- 
fortune to endure in connection with the grand calamity which 
they had just undergone. They accordingly set about fortifying 


themselves against the known advantages of the office-seekers, 
chiefly in organization and possession of the active ward-poli- 
ticians. The executive committees of the two political parties 
were induced to compromise with each other upon a ticket, 
every member of which, as nominated by one committee, was 
submitted to the scrutiny of the other committee, and of the 
public, through the press. At length a complete ticket was 
made out, composed of names of the very best class of citizens 
men who had rarely, or never, run for office. An opposition 
ticket, composed, for the most part, of office-seekers, or "bum- 
mers," as they were called, was made up and violently election- 
eered for until election-day; but the "Fire-proof" ticket was 
found to be elected by at least four votes to each one of the op- 
position. Joseph Medill, one of the proprietors of the Tribune, 
was chosen Mayor by this election, and Fred. Gund, one of the 
Fire Commis-sioners under whose administration the city burned 
up, and who had the audacity to run for re-election, was defeated 
by a five-to-one majority. 

Another benefit of the fire was to open people's eyes on. the 
subject of insurance, and enable all to know what was good 
insurance and what was bogus. The experience which many 
obtained proved a very dear school to them ; but it can not be 
doubted that the lesson proved worth, in the aggregate, all it 
cost that is, Chicago and a few insurance towns paid for the 
lesson for the whole country. It taught that insurance in com- 
panies which were doing a large business on a small margin of 
paid-up capital, or which insured unlimited amounts in any one 
city, was no insurance at all ; and it taught capitalists to be 
much more careful than hitherto into what kind of companies 
they put their funds, and underwriters learned by it to limit 
their amounts of insurance in any locality, and make more 


rigid requirements concerning precautions against fire. By this 
means insurance, which was at first thought to have exploded 
completely, will become much stronger than it really was be- 

But the best work which the fire has wrought has been upon 
the character and habits of the people, rather than upon their 
business, political, or other material affairs. The people of Chi- 
cago were, before the fire, fust lapsing into luxury not as yet 
to any such degree as the people of New York but still more 
than was for their good. The fire roused them from this 
tendency, and made them the same strong men and women, of 
the same simple, industrious, self-denying habits, which built up 
Chicago, and pushed her so powerfully along her unparalleled 
career. All show and frivolity were abandoned, and democracy 
became the fashion. People found new and rich fields of useful- 
ness open to them. Young men who, in anticipation of a large 
inheritance, had commenced to lead dawdling lives, now rolled 
up their sleeves and went to work in the store, or organized a 
business of their own out of the salvage of their father's capi- 
tal. Their sisters desisted from the giddy race for pre-eminence 
in dressing, flirting, and other frivolous pursuits, and became 
the comfort and consolation of their parents, or the frugal 
wives of earnest men. Their mothers forsook their brilliant 
match-making, their incessant " shopping," and their schemes 
for surpassing their neighbors in the magnitude and absurdity 
of their assemblies those nonsensical mobs of snobs and na- 
bobs which abound in high city life during the winter season. 
Their fathers, who had been lapsing into a chronic state of gout 
or debility, through lack of nervous stimulus, went back to the 
office to work, and felt much better for it. Many projected 
trips to unwholesome haunts of folly and gilded vice were aban- 


doned, and work work, that sweetener of rest and all 
legitimate enjoyments was resumed in earnest. Business 
men greeted each other gayly in their temporary shanties, 
and said: "Now, this is something like it; we've got 
down to the bed rock now" a miner's phrase, which indi- 
cates a poorer yield of metal ; but the " bed rock " shall prove, 
after all, the best rock on which to build the new Chicago the 
firm foundation rock of her business, the Plymouth Rock of 
her society ! * 

The light of the fire revealed the solidarity of the nation. It 
was only by some such great calamity as the Chicago fire that 
the people of the United States could have been taught how 
closely bound together they were not in language merely 
not in politick merely not in race merely, but in interests of 
apparently the most private and individual nature. This phase 
of the case has already been treated upon in the chapter on 
"Sympathy and Relief." Especially along the great lines of 
railroad and telegraph which connect the East with the West, 
the union was found to be very complete ; so that each wave of 
disaster which was born upon the western shore died not until it 
had reached the eastern. 

But this solidarity of the nation is one of interest merely. 
The fire revealed another, more broadly extending and more 
deeply lying the solidarity of human sympathy. Never be- 
fore did the maxim that " blood is thicker than water," rise to 
such a dignity, or receive such a convincing demonstration. The 
revelation of brotherhood and intimate fellowship between 
"man and man, the wide world o'er," wfs more sudden and 
spontaneous, if not more full, than ever before occurred. 

Were the reader suddenly asked what is the sublimest specta- 
cle of the century, he might at first answer, a vast city 


wrapped in flames; mountains of fire stretching to the heavens ; 
a black empyrean of rolling smoke; a crimson river with car- 
nation bridges over-arching it; a sullen, darkened lake sur- 
rounding it ; a constant thunder of falling walls and exploding 
elements; a constant earthquake shaking the ground ; a hundred 
thousand people rushing, shrieking, struggling, perishing. This 
was, indeed, it seemed to those who witnessed it, the acme of 
sublimity, and of terror as well. But there was a sublimer one 
which followed, and happily blending in its sublimity a world 
of beauty. It was. the sight (too glorious for the physical sense, 
but none the less clearly brought home to the eye of the mind) 
of a world uniting simultaneously in one grand act of love to 
man, and, therefore, worship to God, the source of love. Can 
any thing more impressive to the mind, more melting to the 
heart, be conceived? It was felt at Chicago more profoundly 
far than all our sufferings, or than any common emotion we had 
ever known. Men tried to speak of it to each other in the streets, 
and broke down in the midst of the sentence which they would 
utter. Men who would make a mere jest of their wrecked for- 
tunes, and embrace poverty with a shrug and nothing more, 
wept like children when they came to speak of what the world 
was doing around them. This is already an old theme. Poets 
innumerable have sung of it, armies of preachers have built 
sermons, and hosts of writers in the current press have 
woven it into their daily discourse; but few of these could have 
felt it as we did, here in its focus. 

And it was wonderful ! 

The discordant note, announcing sorrow, death, and devasta- 
tion throughout a fair and prosperous city, went forth in one 
hour throughout the civilized world, shocking and stunning 
whom it struck. In another hour it flowed back, resolved into 


the most delicious chords of love and Christ-like charity. No 
man who felt that heaven-sent strain break in upon his senses 
.can but echo in his heart, however grave his sufferings may 
have been, the words of America's laureate of liberty : 

"Ah! not in vain the flames that tossed 
Above thy dreadful holocaust; 
The Christ again has preached through thee 
The Gospel of Humanity 

"Then lift once more thy towers on high. 

And fret with spires the western sky, 
a To tell that God is yet with us, 
And love is still miraculous I " 



Five years hence Why Chicago will keep marching on Rate of recu- 
peration Railroads and traffic Changes in the appearance' of the 
city Harbor and river Things which will not be improved Popula- 
tion in 1876. 

ONDON, with a population diminished more than one- 
-*-* third by the plague of the previous year, and demoralized 
by the licentiousness of the times of the cavaliers, recovered 
within five years from a destruction quite as complete as that of 
Chicago. - New York was visited in 1835 by a conflagration, 
much less destructive to be sure than this of ours, but it was 
preceded by pestilence in 1832 and 1834, and followed by the 
great commercial revulsion of 1837; in spite of all which disas- 
ters, New York grew in that decade from a city of 202,000 
people to one of 312,000. The argument from this is, that a 
general conflagration is not necessarily fatal to a city, nor even 
a long-continued check upon its forward career. London con- 
tinued to grow rapidly because it had made itself the center of 
an immense ocean commerce, and the metropolis of a prosperous 
country. New York bade defiance to a three- fold disaster for 
a like reason. Chicago has fastened upon the trade of the great 
North-west with chains that can not be unbound, and will there- 
fore grow with that rapidly developing country, and without 


any serious hindrance from what has happened. Individual 
fortunes have been, in some cases, irretrievably lost, though the 
way in which these men rebound, even from out the slough 
of despair, is something wonderful ; but the city must still go 
marching on. The West must have her for uses which no 
other locality can subserve, and which no other city, even if it 
had the advantage of location, could prepare itsetf to subserve 
in thrice the time it will take Chicago to recuperate. The pro- 
duce of the West and the capital of the East are alike inter- 
ested in keeping Chicago the metropolis of the North-west an 
empire already vaster, and much more rapidly growing, than 
that of Great Britain at the time London was destroyed. 

People who come to Chicago and take a survey of her pres- 
ent apparent desolation are shocked by it, and go away saying 
that Chicago can not be rebuilt in less than a generation. They 
forget that Chicago was a generation in attaining her late mag- 
nificence simply because the West was that length of time in 
growing to its present proportions ; and that the question of how 
long it will take to rebuild Chicago the West being still in- 
tact around her is simply a question of how long it will 
require for the country to produce the bricks and the stone to 
lay up her walls withal. It is estimated by those competent to 
judge of this that three years will be adequate to the work; in 
other words, that as soon as the grand buildings of the railway 
corporations, the city, and the United States Government, can 
be completed in a solid manner, they will already be surrounded 
by a complete city, equal in its capacity for the accommodation 
of business to that which fell in the Great Conflagration. The 
population will also, by that time, have shot considerably 
past the mark of September, 1871 ; but as certain fine theaters, 
churches, and residences will still be behind, it is better, in 


order to be within the bounds of moderation, to set the period 
of Chicago's complete recuperation at five years from the date of 
her disaster the eighth of October, 1876. 

We have shown in a previous chapter that the average an- 
nual rate of increase in the value of property in Chicago, dur- 
ing the ten years preceding 1871, has been 10J per cent, which 
compounds at 66 per cent, in five years. Thus, reckoning 
only the ordinary growth of the city, and making no allowance 
for the extraordinary stimulus occasioned by the sudden neces- 
sities of the present crisis, the value of property lost by the 
fire (one-third of the whole) would be more than recovered by 
the fall of 1876. It may be argued that this ratio of incre- 
ment will be diminished, owing to the lack of facilities for doing 
business, and the consequent diversion of trade to competing 
towns; also that these towns, particularly St. Louis, are sharper 
competitors than London had in 1666; but this, if true, applies 
only in a small measure. The country had already elected 
Chicago as the capital of the North-west, and by converging in 
her the many railroads which were built for accommodating the 
traffic of that section, fixed her as the seat of that traffic more 
firmly far than a State statute and a million or two of dollars 
in public buildings, fixes the capital of a State in Albany or 
Springfield. Saying nothing of the $400,000,000 of capital 
still represented in the buildings, lands, and merchandise of 
Chicago, there are $300,000,000 invested in her railroads, every 
dollar of which is vitally interested in keeping the traffic of the 
North-west upon these roads. New York commercial capital is 
interested in the same direction, for Chicago is by all odds New 
York's best customer, and whatever trade should be diverted 
from Chicago to St. Louis, or Cincinnati, would also be diverted 
from New York to Philadelphia. With all these artificial in- 


fluences, and the same powerful natural influences which fixed 
Chicago where she is, working together for her restoration, it 
will not be possible for other influences to distract much of her 
trade or delay her growth in population a single year, or hinder 
the reconstruction of her edifices beyond the date which we 
have set down the eighth of October, 1876. 

The disaster to Chicago will not probably delay at all the 
enlargement of the Niagara and St. Lawrence Canals, and the 
deepening of the channels at each end of Lake Huron, both of 
which measures for the improvement of navigation and the 
substitution of larger vessels (and hence cheaper rates) for the 
grain traffic of the country, are to be undertaken at government 
expense. These measures, though not at the expense of Chi- 
cago, will still benefit Chicago greatly by making the produc- 
tion of grain more profitable to the farmer, who, as a conse- 
quence, will not only raise more grain, but have more money 
to spend in Chicago. At the same time the improvement of* 
this water route will increase Chicago's facilities as an import- 
ing city a function which she had just began to develop ex- 
tensively at the time the disaster struck her. There are also 
two or more trunk railways from the East proposing to enter 
Chicago to compete for -the trade of the North-west. These, 
if completed (and there is no reason why they should be in- 
terrupted by what has happened), will still further increase 
the business of this metropolis, as will also the four or five 
proposed now routes diverging into the grain and stock pro- 
ducing country, and the route via Evansville to Mobile, to be 
finished early in 1872, which ought to bring in bond all the 
West India goods consumed in the North-west, the merchants 
of Chicago deriving from this trade the large profits of the 
importers, instead of the small ones of the simple jobber. 


At the same time that this increase in trade is going on 
(subject to the drawbacks already mentioned), certain lines of 
manufactures may be established to increase considerably, for 
instance, those of all materials nsed in building and furnish- 
ing stores and houses, and those of light articles, the help for 
making which can be recruited from the ranks of the shop 
girls and boys thrown out of employment by the fire, or forced 
by the hard times upon such industrial pursuits. 

The city may be expected, then, to make a greater show of 
railway and shipping warehouses than before the fire. The 
streets, except a few of them, will not be built up with stores 
so continuously as before the fire, but the amount of facilities 
for business especially for wholesale business, will be greater 
than it was; while the public buildings, as the Post-office, 
Custom-house, City Hall, railway passenger depots, Chamber 
of Commerce, etc., will present an appearance corresponding 
to a city three or four times as great as that for which the 
destroyed structures were built. Public libraries and galleries 
of art will have to wait longer, as will also the park improve- 
ments which the citizens were projecting on such a mammoth 
scale; but the theaters, at the date specified will have just about 
recovered the number and magnitude which they had attained 
before the fire, and that, be it recollected, was two-fold greater 
than one year before, and at least four-fold greater than any 
other Western city could boast. 

Let it not be understood, however, that fortunes will be 
rebuilt within any such period, or that the private luxury and 
elegance of yesterday will be re-established. The business 
marts will be humming again simply because they must, but 
in many cases other men will preside over them, while some 
who worked with the head yesterday will work with the hands 


then. The most of the business men of Chicago, however, 
have too much pluck, and also too much of the quality called 
brass for that. They will make a shift indeed two-thirds of 
them have already made a shift to resume their places as pro- 
prietors, and get capital from somewhere the Lord, who 
tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, knows where. A single 
rase illustrates this. The writer, wandering among the mourn- 
ful ruins of the North Division, on the day after that quarter 
was destroyed, met an acquaintance whom he accosted with the 
usual salutation: "How did you come out?" The answer 
was: "Yesterday morning I had a warehouse over there with 
$30,000 worth of wool in it, I had a fine house, well furnished, 
for my home, and two others to help out my income. To-day, 
I 've got what I have on my back ; my wife the same that is 
all.' x "Are you going to give up?" we asked. "No, sir," 
he answered. A fortnight later we encountered the same 
friend dashing down the street at great speed. He had got 
track of a man who would, he thought, put up a building for 
him, and was going to have the contract made before night. 
He was buoyant and enthusiastic. 

Probably the reader of this history who visits Chicago five 
years hence, will find this man in full blast in his new ware- 
house, not with thirty, but with sixty or ninety thousand dollars* 
worth of wool in store, and not with two, but four houses to 
rent ; for it is such pluck as this that wins in the West. 

This visitor will see, besides the twenty railroads which 
already converge at Chicago, the six important lines now pro- 
jected, also entering the heart of the city, probably by sunk 
1 racks, and through viaducts at every street-crossing. He will 
see, let us hope, a consolidation of all the passenger stations 


into three at most, and will be told that the system of omnibus 
tolls upon travelers has been abolished. 

He will see the streets of the central portion of the city (the 
burnt district of the South and part of that of the North Division?) 
raised from two to three feet above their present grade, and from 
ten to fifteen above the original level of the prairie. As a con- 
comitant of this, he will see a good portion of our sewerage 
reversed in its course, as the river has already been served. 
The buildings which line these streets he will find to be chiefly 
of brick, and of soberer appearance than the gay, cream-colored 
stone (treacherous beauty!) which so delighted his eye in the 
summer of '71. He will mark, nevertheless, the solidity and 
substantiality of every thing, and will query if, after all, the 
painted red brick fronts, relieved at intervals by cream-colored 
walls from Milwaukee, or rich, natural red from Philadelphia 
or Baltimore, or light brown sandstone from Cleveland, or 
gray granite from Duluth, or ruddy brown sandstone from Lake 
Superior, or the censured, but not entirely tabooed limestone from 
Joliet, be not, after all, in their endless variety, more cheerful 
ihau the stately monotony of the old era. He will see few man- 
sard roofs or ornate cornices, but will, nevertheless, be pleased 
with the brightness and newness of every thing; and since the 
beauty of a thing consists, in great part, of its fitness for the 
place which it occupies, the visitor will be, or, at least should be, 
inclined to pronounce favorably concerning the beauty of the 
new Chicago. 

He will notice that the pavements are, as in '71, notable fcr 
their smoothness and silence under the wheel, being made of 
wooden blocks, as now, or of the asphalt-rock concrete, in 
making which we are improving so much every day. He will 
see sidewalks built of this material, being laid in the filled dis- 


tricts over brick arches; and lie will find, on passing tinder 
these sidewalks that the vaults, thus formed, are absolutely fire- 
proof receptacles for such articles as may be consigned to them. 

He will see upon the lake shore an inclosed harbor of refuge, 
lined on two sides with slips for the accommodation of vessels 
of greater draft and tonnage than have ever come to this port 
hitherto. Passing up the river (that is, down it toward the 
Mississippi), he will find its docks devoted more to the unload- 
ing and storing of iron, coal, and heavy merchandise than they 
now are, much of the merchandise being brought in on lighter 
scows from the outer harbor. He will look in vain for any 
yards or depositories for lumber within two and a half miles 
of the river's mouth. 

He will not find the business of the great Union Stock 
Yards much increased, though he knows that that was almost 
the only interest which did not suffer by the fire. On asking 
the reason for this, he will learn that, as the country for graz- 
ing has been pushed gradually westward and southward, the 
cities which sprang up thereaway, particularly Kansas City, 
had naturally become, to a considerable degree, the distributing 
points of cattle for the East; but that the increased consump- 
tion of meats in Chicago and the district supplied from Chi- 
cago, had kept up the demand at about the old figures. 

He will see no greater area covered by Chicago than he saw 
five years before, except at the suburbs along the railroads, 
whither people of moderate means will go to build wooden 
houses, and avoid what many will doubtless call the odious fire 
ordinance, which will prohibit all wooden houses within the 
city limits. He will see steam or compressed air substituted 
for horse-power upon the most of the street-railways. 

He will see a population greater' by nearly one hundred 


thousand than that which Uncle Sam's census-taker found in 
1870. These people will look hard-worked, and those of the 
old lot will seem more than five years older than they did on a 
September morning in 1871. They may well be advised, at 
that time, to pause a little in their hard chase after material 
things, and consider those of the heart, the mind, and the im- 
mortal soul ; and if the visitor be of a missionary turn, he can 
not throw his subjects into a tender mood more effectually than 
by reminding them of the night of the 8th of October, '71, 
and of how the world stood by Chicago in that sad time. 

But he will, on the whole, be proud of the new Chicago, 
from whate .rer quarter he may hail. He will find her changed 
from the. Chicago of yesterday in such manner as the wild and 
wanton girl, of luxurious beauty, and generous, free ways, is 
changed when, becoming a wife, a great bereavement, or the 
pangs and burdens of maternity overtake her, robbing her 
cheek of its rich flush, but at the same time ripening her 
beauty, elevating, deepening, expanding her character, and im- 
buing her with a susceptibility of feeling, a consciousness of 
strength, and an earnestness of purpose which she knew not 

When, thus transformed, the new Chicago shall go, on the 
centennial of our nation's birth, to join her sisters in laying the 
laurel wreath upon the mother Columbia's brow, she will be 
greeted with signal warmth by each and all of them, and wel- 
comed back from out her vale of affliction as one who had suf- 
fered that she might be strong. 



IN the year 64, during the reign of the tyrant Nero, the city of Rome, hia 
capital, suffered a terrible conflagration, lasting eight days, and destroying 
ten of the fourteen wards of the city. Several historians maintain that Nero 
eet the fire himself, but there is considerable doubt about this, as also about 
the story of the emperor's fiddling (or playing the flute) while the city 
burned. Either act, however, would have been characteristic of the man. 

Nero was liberal to the sufferers by the fire, and rebuilt the city on a new 
and improved plan, with money which he had extorted from the people. 
He charged the conflagration upon the Christians, many of whom he put to 
death by burning. Gibbon writes graphically of this fire in his "Decline 
and Fall of the Roman Empire." The population of Rome, at the time of 
its burning, was more than a million souls. 


The nearest parallel in history to the Chicago Conflagration is the Great 
Fire in London, which commenced on the 2d of September, 1666, and con- 
tinued five days. As in Chicago, the fire was owing to wooden houses, a very 
dry season, and a high wind ; and, as in Chicago, the pumping works which 
supplied the city with water were very soon destroyed, thereby paralyzing the 
powers of the fire department, and of all who might, with private engines, 
Lave raved their own property, or helped to arrest the progress of the 
flames. Like the fire at Chicago, it broke out upon a Sunday, though at a 
different hour two o'clock in the morning. It originated in a bake-house, 
kept by a man with the quaint name of Farryner, at Pudding Lane, near 
the Tower. At that period, the buildings in the English capital were chiefly 



constructed of wood, with pitched roofs; and in this particular locality, 
which waa immediately adjacent to the water side, the stores were mainly 
filled with materials employed in the equipment of shipping, mostly, of 
course, of a highly combustible nature. The vacillation and indecision of 
the lord mayor aggravated the confusion. For several hours he refused to 
1 .*ten to the counsel given him to call in the aid of the military ; and when 
the probable proportions of the fire were plainly apparent, and when it waa 
clear that the destruction of a block of houses was absolutely necessary to 
the preservation of the city, he declined to accept the responsibility of de- 
stroying them until he could obtain the consent of their owners. He was, 
evidently, like Governor Palmer, of Illinois, a man of high legal punctilio. 

The most graphic and circumstantial account of this fire is that contained 
in the diary of John Evelyn, in his " Diary," published soon after the event. 
Commencing on the second day of the fire, it runs thus : 

" Sept. 3d. The fire continuing after dinner, I took coach with my wife 
and son and went to the Bankside, in Southwark, where we beheld that 
dreadful spectacle the whole city in dreadful flames near ye water side ; all 
the houses from the Bridge, all Thames Street, and upwards towards Cheap- 
side, down to the Three Cranes, were now consumed. 

"The fire having continued all this night (if I may call that night, which 
was as light as day for ten miles round about, after a dreadful manner), 
when conspiring with a fierce eastern wind in a very drie season, I went on 
foot to the same place and saw the whole south part of ye city burning from 
Cheapside to the Thames, and all along Cornhill (for it kindled back 
against the wind as well as forward), Tower Street, Fenchurch Street, 
Gracious Street, and so along to Bainard's Castle, and was now taking hold 
of St. Paule's Church, to wTiich the scaffolds contributed exceedingly. The 
conflagration waa so universal and the people so astonished that, from the 
beginning I know not from what, despondency or fate they hardly strived 
to quench it, so that there was nothing hearde or scene but crying out and 
lamentation ; running about like distracted creatures, without at all attempt- 
ing to save even their goods, such a strange consternation there was upon 
them; so, as it burned, both in length and breadth, the churches, public 
halls, Exchange, hospitals, monuments, and ornaments, leaping after a pro- 
digious manner from house to house and streete to streete, at greate distance 
one from ye other; for ye heate, with a long set of faire and warme weather, 
had even ignited the air, and prepared the materials to conceive the fire, 
>vluch devoured after an incredible manner houses, furniture, and every 
thing. Here we saw the Thames covered with goods floating, all the bargea 
and boats laden with what some had time and courage to save ; as on ye 
other, ye carts, etc., currying out to the fields, which for many miles were 


strewed with moveables of all sorts, and tents erecting to shelter both people 
and what goods they could get away. Oh, the miserable and calamitous 
spectacle! such as haply the world had not scene the like since the founda- 
tion of it, nor to be outdone till the universal conflagration. All the sky 
was of a fiery aspect, like the top of a burning oven, the light scene abrve 
forty miles round about for many nights. God grant my eyes may never 
behold the like, now seeing above ten thousand houses all in one flame; the 
noise, and crackling, and thunder of the impetuous flames, ye shrieking c f 
women and children, the -hurry of people, the fall of towers, houses, an 1 
churches was like an hideous storme, and the aire all about so hot and in- 
flamed that at last one was not able to approach it, so that they were forced 
to stand stille and let the flames burn on, which they did for near two miles 
in length and one in breadth. The clouds of smoke were dismall, and 
reached, upon computation, near fifty miles in length. Thus I left it in the 
afternoone burning a resemblance to Sodom, or the last day. London was, 
but is no more ! 

"Sept. 4th. The burning still rages, and it was now gotten so far as the 
Inner Temple, Olde Fleete Strefg*, the Olde Bailey, Ludgate Hill, War- 
wick Lane. Newgate, Paule's Chain, Watling Streete, now flaming and most 
of it reduced to ashes; the stones of Paule's flew like granados, ye melting 
lead running down the streetes in a streame, and the very pavements glow- 
ing with fiery rednesse, so as no horse or man was able to tread on them, 
and the demolition had slopped all the passages, so that no help could be 
applied. The eastern wind still more impetuously drove the flames for- 
ward. Nothing bnt ye almighty power of God was able to stop them, for 
vaine was ye helpe of man. 

"Sept. 5th. It crossed towards Whitehalle; oh, the confusion there was 
then at that Court ! It pleased His Majesty to command me among the rest 
to looke after the quenching of Fetter Lane, and to preserve, if possible, 
that part of Holborne, while ye rest of ye gentlemen took their several posts 
and began to consider that nothing was so likely to put a stop but the blow- 
ing up of so many houses as might make a wider gap than any had yet 
been made by the ordinary method of pulling them down by engines." 

Then, after a description of the abating of the wind and the gradual dying 
out of the fire, the quaint old diarist continues: 

"The poor inhabitants were dispersed about St. George's Fields and Moor- 
fieldp, as far as High gate, and several myles* in circle, some under tents, 
some under miserable hut) and hovels, many without a rag or any necessary 
utensils, bed, or board, who, from delicateness, riches, and easy accommoda- 
tion in st.itdy and well-furnished houses, were reduced now to eitreoieat 
roirery and poverty." 


And again: 

" I then went towards Islington and Highgate, where one might have scene 
200,000 people, of all ranks and degrees, dispersed and lying along by their 
heapes of what they could save from the fire, deploring their losse ; and, 
though ready to perish from hunger and destitution, yet not asking one 
penny for relief, which to me appeared a stranger sight than any I had vet 

Nearly two-thirds of the entire city were destroyed. Thirteen thousand 
houses, eighty-nine churches, and many public' buildings were reduced to 
charred wood and ashes. Three hundred and seventy-three acres within, 
and sixty-three acres without, the walls were utterly devastated. The occa- 
sion was improved by the preachers of those days, as did the Chicago Con- 
flagration inspire the preachers o. our day. 


The burning of Moscow, by its citizens, in 1812, to prevent its falling into 
the hands of the notorious Frenchmen, is one of the best known of historical 
events. The invading army, under Waporeon, had taken possession, and the 
citizens had fled almost to a man. A few remained behind to fire the city, 
by order of Count Potapchin, the Governor, who had set the example by 
firing his own magnificent country palace on the road to the city, and leaving 
a defiant inscription on its gates. 

The conquering army entered the city on the 15th of September, the 
Emperor taking possession of the Kremlin, the ancient palace of the Czars. 
The events which followed his solemn entry into the tenantless city are thus 
described by Sir Archibald Alison : On the night of the 14th a fire broke 
out in the Bourse, behind the Bazaar, which soon consumed that noble 
edifice, and spread to a considerable part of the crowded streets in the vicin- 
ity. This, however, was but the prelude to more extended calamities. At 
midnight, on the 15th, a bright light was seen to illuminate the northern 
and western parts of the city ; and the sentinels on watch at the Kremlin 
soon discovered the splendid edifices in that quarter to be in flames. The 
vrind changed repeatedly during the night, but to whatever quarter it veered 
the conflagration extended itself; fresh fires were every instant seen breaking 
out in all directions, and Moscow soon exhibited the spectacle of a sea of 
flame agitated by the wind. The soldiers, drowned in sleep or overcome by 
intoxication, were incapable of arresting its progress; and the burning frag- 
ments floating through the hot air began to fall on the roofs and courts of 
the Kremlin. The fury of an autumnal tempest added to the horrors of the 
scene ; it seemed as if the wrath of heaven had combined with the vengeance 
of man to consume the invaders of the city they had conquered. 


But it was chiefly during the nights of the 18th and 19th that the con- 
flagration attained its greatest violence. At that time the whole city was 
wrapped in flames, and volumes of fire of various colors ascended to the 
heavens in many places, diffusing a prodigious light on all sides, and att nded 
by an intolerable heat These balloons of flame were accompanied in their 
ascent by a frightful hissing noise and loud explosions, the effect of the vast 
stores of oil, resin, tar, spirits, and other combustible materials with which 
the greater part of the shops were filled. Large pieces of painted canvas, 
unrolled from the outside of the buildings by the violence of the heat, floated 
on fire in the atmosphere, and sent down on all sides a flaming shower, which 
spread the conflagration in quarters even the most removed from where it 
originated. The wind, naturally high, was raised, by the sudden rarefaction 
of the air produced by the heat, to a perfect hurricane. The howling of the 
tempest drowned even the roar of the conflagration ; the whole heavens were 
filled with the whirl of the volumes of smoke and flame which rose on all 
sides and made midnight as bright as day ; while even the bravest hearts, 
subdued by the sublimity of the scene, and the feeling of human impotence 
in the midst of such elemental strife, sank and trembled in silence. 

The return of day did not diminish the terrors of the conflagration. An 
immense crowd of hitherto unseen people, who had taken refuge in the cel- 
lars and vaults of their buildings, issued forth as the flames reached their 
dwellings ; the streets were speedily filled with multitudes flying in every di- 
rection, with their most precious articles; while the French army, whose 
discipline this fatal event had entirely dissolved, assembled in drunken 
crowds and loaded themselves with the spoils of the city. Never in modern 
times had such a scene been witnessed. The men were loaded with packages 
charged with their most precious effects, which often took fire as they were 
carried along, and which they were obliged to throw down to save them- 
selves. The women had often two or three children on their backs, and as 
many led by the hand, which, with trembling steps and piteous cries, sought 
their devious way through the labyrinth of flame. Many old men, unable 
to walk, were drawn on hurdles or wheelbarrows by their children and 
grandchildren, while their burnt beards and smoking garments showed with 
what difficulty they had been rescued from the flames. Often the French 
soldiers, tormented by hunger and thiret, and loosened from all discipline by 
the horrors which surrounded them, not contented with the booty in the 
streets, rushed headlong into the burning edifices to ransack their cellars for 
the stores of wine and spirits which they contained, and beneath the ruins 
great numbers perished miserably, the victims of intemperance and the sur- 
rounding fire. Meanwhile the flames, fanned by the tempestuous gale, ad- 
vanced with frightful rapidity, devouring alike in their course the palacea 


of the great, the temples of religion, and the cottages of the poor. For 
thirty -six hours the conflagration continued at its height, and during that 
time above nine-tenths of the city was destroyed. The remainder, abandoned 
to pillage and deserted by its inhabitants, offered no resources to the army. 
Moscow had been conquered, but the victors had gained only a heap of 
ruins. It is estimated that 30,800 houses were consumed, and the total value 
of property destroyed amounted to 30,000,000. 

AT NEW YORK, 1835. 

At between eight and nine o'clock of the evening above stated, the fire was 
discovered in the store No. 25 Merchant Street, a narrow street that led from 
Pearl into Exchange Street, near where the Post-office then was. The flames 
spread rapidly, and at ten o'clock forty of the most valuable dry goods stores 
in the city were burned down or on fire. The narrowness of Merchant 
Street, and the gale which was blowing, aided the spread of the destructive 
element. It passed from building to building, leaped across the street be- 
tween the blocks, urged by the gale and in nowise deterred by the feeble 
forces opposing it. The night was bitterly cold, and, though the firemen 
were most energetic, the freezing of the hose and the water in their defective 
engines, combined with their sufferings from the weather, made their efforts 
of little avail. The flames spread north and south, east and west, until 
almost every building on the area bounded by Wall, South, and Broad 
Streets and Coenties slip, was burning, gutted, or leveled to the ground. 
There was not a building destroyed on Broad Street, nor on the block on Wall 
Street from William to Broad Street, the fire taking an almost circular course 
just at the rear of the buildings on the streets named. The scene in the 
night was one of indescribable grandeur, the glare from the three hundred 
buildings that were at one time burning brightly lighting up the whole city. 
In all, five hundred and thirty buildings were destroyed ; they were of the 
largest and most costly description, and were filled with the most valuable 
goods. The total loss, estimated at about 20,000,000, was afterward found 
to be about $15,000,000. Of the buildings destroyed the most important 
were the Merchants' Exchange, the Post-office, the offices of the celebrated 
bankers, the Josephs, the Aliens, and the Livingstons, the Phoenix Bank, and 
the building owned and occupied by Arthur Tappan, then much despised for 
his anti-slavery sympathies. The business portion of the city was alone 
that burned over, so that few poor were rendered otherwise than without 
employment. The disaster was considered so severe that many predicted 
that the city would never recover from the fearful blow which it had sus- 


m * 


Charleston, S. C., was, on the 27th of April, 1838, visited by one of 
the most destructive fires that has ever occurred in any city in this coun- 
try. A territory equal to almost one-half of the entire city was made deso- 
late. The fire broke out at a quarter past eight o'clock on the morning of 
the day mentioned, in a paint-shop on King Street, corner of Beresford, and 
raged until about twelve A. M. of the following day. It was then arrested 
by the blowing up of buildings in its path. There were 1158 buildings de- 
stroyed, and the loss occasioned was about $3,000,000. The worst feature of 
the catastrophe was the loss of life which occurred while the houses were 
being blown up. Through the careless manner in which the gunpowder was 
used, four of the most prominent citizens of the city were killed and a num- 
ber injured. 


Pittsburgh, Pa., was visited by a most destructive conflagration on the 10th 
of April, 1845. By it a very large portion of the city was laid waste, and 
a greater number of houses destroyed than by all the fires that had occurred 
previously to it. Twenty squares, containing about 1100 buildings were 
burned over. Of these buildings the greater part were business houses con- 
taining goods of immense value grocery, dry goods, and commission houses 
and the spring stocks of the latter had just been laid in. The fire com- 
menced in a frame building at the corner of Second and Ferry Streets, and 
the prevailing strong wind urged it with fearful rapidity through the city. 
So short was the time between the discovery of the flames and their spread 
through the city, that many persons were unable to save any of their house- 
hold goods, while others, having got theirs to the walk, were compelled to 
flee and leave them to be seized and destroyed by the element. The mer- 
chants were equally unsuccessful in saving any thing from their warehouses. 
The loss was estimated at $10,000,000. 

AT ST. LOUIS, 1849. 

Flames broke out about ten o'clock on the night of the 17th of May, 1849, 
on the steamboat White Cloud, lying at the leveee between Wash and Cherry 
Street*, nearly in front of a large lard factory. The wind was blowing stiffly 
from the north-east, forcing the boats directly into the shore. The Eudara 
and Edward Batet soon caught, and the latter, drifting into the stream, car- 
ried destruction to nearly all the boats lying south of her. In half an hour 
ifter the fire began twenty-three steamboats had fed the f ry of the flames, 
ftnd nearly $500,000 worth of property was destroyed. Spreading to the 


wharves, where a large quantity of hemp was stored, the whole or part of 
fifteen blocks were destroyed. The fire lasted till between six and seven 
o'clock on the morning of the eighteenth. The supply of water had given 
out early, a strong wind was blowing, and the fire companies, working with 
hand engines, were entirely powerless. The fire involved a large part of 
the business portion of the city, and almost every house destroyed was owned 
by those who were either wealthy enough themselves to build up their prop- 
erty or could readily obtain means to do it. The offices of the Missouri 
Republican, the Reveille, the New Era and the Argus were burned,- together 
with two or three job printing offices. The progress of the devouring ele- 
ment was stayed on Market Street on the blowing up of some buildings with 
powder, whereby a prominent citizen, T. B. Targee, was instantly killed 
and two or three others were seriously injured. The number of steamboats 
destroyed was twenty-three, which, with their cargoes, were valued at $436,- 
000. The total amount of property lost was about $3,000,000. The value 
of the stocks of goods burned was about $1,700,000, of which about $500,000 
was not covered by insurance. Three of the St. Louis insurance companies 
were, however, broken up. 


A conflagration by which an immense amount of property was destroyed 
took place in Philadelphia on the 9th of July, 1850. It began about four 
o'clock on the afternoon of that day, in a store at 78 North Delaware A venue. 
The fire was beyond control when discovered, and soon spread, despite the 
most strenuous efforts to prevent it, to the storehouses adjoining. When the 
fire had reached the cellar of the building in which it had originated, two 
explosions occurred which rent the walls of the building and threw flakes 
of combustible matter in all directions, setting fire to many other buildings. 
Delaware Avenue and Water Street were covered with persons who exhibited 
little fear at these evidences of dangerous substances being stored in the 
building. Suddenly a third and most terrific explosion occurred, by which 
a number of men, women, and children were killed, and several buildings de- 
molished. This disaster caused a panic among the firemen and spectators, 
and in the efforts of all to escape from danger many were trampled upon and 
injured. Some were thrown into the Delaware, and others jumped in to get 
away from the falling bricks and beams sent up from the burning building 
by the explosion. The number of persons who lost their lives by the explo- 
sion was about thirty ; nine persons, who jumped into the river in a fright, 
were drowned, and about one hundred injured. The area over which 
the fire spread contained about four hundred buildings. Its locality waa 
one of the most densely populated in the city, and a large aumber of 


the residents having been poor people, the suffering caused was immense. 
The loss was about one million dollars of property. 


The city of San Francisco was retarded in its progress toward its present 
proud position by many causes, but by nolhing more than fire. The most 
destructive of the many conflagrations which have occurred in that city be- 
gan on the 3d of May, 1851, at eleven o'clock p. M., and was not over- 
mastered until the 5th inst. The -loss that was caused by it amounted to 
$3,500,000, and it destroyed 2500 buildings. The fire began in a paint-shop 
on the west side of Portsmouth Square, adjoining the American House. 
Although but a slight blaze when discovered, the building was within five 
minutes enwrapped with flames, and before the fire-engines could be got to 
work, the American House and the building on the other side of the paint 
shop were also burning. The buildings being all of wood and extremely 
combustible, the fire spread up Clay Street, back to Sacramento, and down 
Clay Street toward Kearney with fearful rapidity. Soon the fire depart- 
ment was compelled to give up every attempt to extinguish it, and to confine 
their work to making its advance less rapid. 

Pursuing this plan, they checked the flames on the north side at Dupont 
Street. But in every other direction it took its own course, and was only 
arrested at the water's edge and the ruins of the houses that had been blown 
up. The shipping in the harbor was only protected by the breaking up of 
the wharves. Thousands of persons were- made homeless, and for a long 
time after lived in tents. The Custom-house, seven hotels, the Post-office, 
the offices of the Steamship Company, and the banking house of Page, Bacon 
& Co., were destroyed. During the continuance of the fire a number of per- 
sons were burned, and others died from their exertions toward subduing it. 

Another large fire devastated a great portion of San Francisco in June, 
1851. It occurred on the 22d of that month, and 500 buildings were de- 
stroyed by it. The loss was estimated at $3,000,000. The result of these 
fires has been the rebuilding of the city in a thoroughly fire-proof manner, 
only second to that of Montreal, which learned wisdom through similar 


The most terrible conflagration of which Philadelphia was the theater 
after that of July, 1850 occurred there on the morning of February 8, 186 . 
Like its predecessor, it brought death to many, and in the most horrible and 
painful manner. The fire originated among several thousand barrels of coal 
oil, that was stored upon an open lot on Washington Street, near Ninth. 


The flames spread through the oil as if it had been gunpowder, and in a very 
short time 2000 barrels were ablaze, and sending a huge volume of flame 
and smoke upward. The residents of the vicinity, awakened by the noise 
of the bells and firemen, and affrighted by the glare and nearness of the fire, 
rushed in their night garments into the streets that were covered with snow 
and slush. The most prompt to leave their homes got off with their lives, 
but those near the spot where the fire commenced, and not prompt to escape, 
were met by a terrible scene. The blazing oil poured into Ninth Street and 
down to Federal, making the entire street a lake of fire that ignited the 
houses on both sides of the street for two blocks. The flames also passed up 
and down the cross streets, and destroyed a number of houses. The fiery 
torch was whirled back and forth along the street at the pleasure of the 
wind, and as it passed destroyed every thing in or near its course. People 
leaving their blazing homes, hoping to reach a place of safety, were roasted 
to death by it. Altogether, about twenty persons were roasted in the streets 
or houses. Firemen making vain endeavors to save the poor creatures from 
their horrible fate were fearfully burned. The loss of property amounted to 
about $500,000, and fifty buildings were destroyed. From Washington Street 
to Federal, on Ninth, every building was burned. 

AT CHICAGO, 1857, '59, '66, '68. 

On the morning of the 10th of October, 1857, a fire occurred in Chicago 
which, though notable from the amount of property destroyed by it, was 
made awful by the loss of human life which it caused. The fire broke out 
in a large double store in South Water Street, and spread east and west to 
the buildings adjoining, and across an alley in the rear to a block of new 
buildings. All these were completely destroyed. When the flames were 
threatening one of the buildings a number of persons ascended to its roof to 
there fight against them. Wholly occupied with their work, they did not 
notice that the wall of the burning building tottered, and when warned of 
their danger they could not escape ere it fell, crushing through the house 01 
which they were, and carrying them into its cellar. Of the number fourteen 
were killed and more injured. The loss in property caused by the fix* 
amounted to over $500,000. 

A fire, the most disastrous after that of October, 1857, took place on Septem 
ber 15, 1859. It broke out in a stable, and, spreading in different direction? 
consumed the block bounded by Clinton, North Canal, West Lake, and Fultot 
Streets, on which the stable was situated. From this block the fire was com' 
inunicated to Blatchford's lead works and to the hydraulic mills, whence ii 
passed to another block of buildings, all of which were destroyed. Thi 
total loss was about $500,000. 


Property to the amount of $500,000 was destroyed by fire on the 10th of 
August, 1866. The fire originated in a wholesale tobacco establishment on 
South Water Street, and passed to the adjoining buildings, occupied by 
wholesale grocery and drug firms. The first two buildings and contents 
were utterly, while the other was but partially, destroyed. 

A fire, which destroyed several large business houses on Lake and South 
Water Streets, took place November 18, 1866. It originated in the tobacco 
warehouse of Banker & Co., and the loss caused by it was about $500,000. 

The fire which occurred on the 28th of January, 1868, was the most de- 
structive by which Chicago had ever been visited. It broke out in a large 
boot and shoe factory on Lake Street, and destroyed the entire block on 
which that building was situated. The sparks from those buildings set fire 
to others distant from them on the same street, and caused their destruction. 
In all the loss was about $3,000,000. 


The terrible fire which laid in ruins more than half of the city of Port- 
land, Maine, commenced at five o'clock in the afternoon of the 4th of July, 
1866. Beginning in a cooper's shop at the foot of High Street, caused by a 
fire-cracker being thrown among some wood shavings, it swept through the 
city with frightful rapidity. With difficulty did the inhabitants of the 
houses in its path escape with their lives. Little effort was made to save 
household goods when this saving involved a possibility of death. Every 
thing in the track of the flames was destroyed, and so completely that, when 
they had been overcome, even the streets could hardly be traced. For a 
space of one mile and a half long by a quarter of a mile wide, there seemed a 
straggling forest of chimneys, with parts of their walls attached. The utmost 
endeavors of the firemen of the city, aided by those from other cities and 
towns, were of little avail until the plan of blowing up had been carried out. 
One-half of the city, and the one which included its business portion, was 
destroyed. Every bank and all the newspaper offices were burned ; and it 
is somewhat singular to note that all the lawyers' offices in the city were 
swept away. The splendid city and county building on Congress Street was 
considered fire-proof and safe, and was filled with furniture from the neigh- 
boring houses, and then the flames, catching it, laid it in ruins. All the jew- 
elry establishments, the wholesale dry goods houses, several churches, the 
telegraph offices, and the majority of other business places were destroyed. 
The Custom-house, though badly burned, was not destroyed. Most singu- 
larly, a building on Middle Street, occupied by a hardware firm, was left 
unscathed by the sea of flame which surged and devastated all around it. 



Two thousand persons were rendered houseless, and were sheltered in 
churches and tents erected for them. In all, the loss was estimated at 
$10,000,000, which was but in small part covered by- insurance. 


Norfolk, Va., destroyed by fire and the cannon-balls of the British. Prop- 
erty to the amount of $1,500,000 destroyed. January 1, 1776. 

City of New York, soon after passing into possession of the British ; 600 
buildings consumed. September 20, 21, 1776. 

Theater at Richmond, Va. The governor of the State and a large num- 
ber of the leading inhabitants perished. December 26, 1811. 

Washington City. General Post-office and Patent Office, with over ten 
thousand valuable models, drawings, etc., destroyed. December 15, 1836. 

Philadelphia; 52 buildings destroyed. Loss, $500,000. October 4, 1839. 

Quebec, Canada; 1500 buildings and many lives destroyed. May 28, 

Quebec, Canada; 1300 buildings destroyed. June 28, 1845. 

City of New York; 300 buildings destroyed. Loss, $6,000,000. June 
20, 1845. 

St. John's, Newfoundland, nearly destroyed; 6000 people made home- 
less. June 12, 1846. 

Quebec, Canada; Theater Royal; 47 persons burned to death. June 14, 

Nantucket; 300 buildings and other property destroyed. Value, $800,000. 
July 13, 1846. 

At Albany; 600 buildings, steamboats, piers, etc., destroyed. Loss, 
$3,000,000. August 17, 1848. 

Brooklyn ; 300 buildings destroyed. September 9, 1848. 

At St. Louis; 15 blocks of houses and 23 steamboats. Loss estimated at 
$3,000,000. May 17, 1849. 

Frederickton, New Brunswick ; about 300 buildings destroyed. November 
11, 1850. 

Nevada, Cal.; 200 buildings destroyed. Loss, $1,300,000. March 12, 

At Stockton, Cal.; loss, $1,500,000. May 14, 1851. 

Concord, N. H.; greater part of the business portion of the town destroyed. 
August 24, 1850. 

Congressional library at Washington; 35,000 volumes, with works of art, 
destroyed. December 24, 1851. 

At Montreal, Canada; 1000 houses destroyed. LOBS, $5,000,000. July 8, 


Harper Brothers' establishment, New York. Loss over $1,000,000. De- 
cember 10-, 1853. 

Metropolitan Hall and Lafarge House, New York, and Custom House, 
Portland, Maine. January 8, 1854. 

At Jersey City ; 30 factories and houses destroyed. July 30, 1854. 

More than 100 houses and factories in Troy, N. Y.; and on the same day <i 
large part of Milwaukee, Wis., destroyed. August 25, 1854. 

At Syracuse, N. Y.; about 100 buildings destroyed. Loss, $1,000,000. 
November 8, 1856. 

New York Crystal Palace destroyed. October 5, 1858. 

City of Charleston, S. C., almost destroyed. February 17, 1856. 

Santiago, Chili; Church of the Compara destroyed, with 2,000 worshipers, 
mostly women. Conflagration caused by fire communicated by candles, used 
in illumination, to paper decorations about the walls. December 8, 1863. 


At almost the same moment when the great Chicngo fire was breaking out, 
similar disasters, which proved even more fatal to human life, was setting in 
in northern Wisconsin. The worst of its horrors centered in the unfortunate 
village of Peshtigo, a lumbering settlement on Green Bay. The scene which 
occurred there is thus sketched by a Wisconsin journal : 

"Sunday evening, after church, for about half an hour a death-like still- 
ness hung over the doomed town. The smoke from the fires in the region 
around was so thick as to be stifling, and hung like a funeral pall over every 
thing, and all was enveloped in Egyptian darkness. Soon light puffs of air 
were felt ; the horizon at the south-east, south, and south-west began to be 
faintly illuminated; a perceptible trembling of the earth was felt, and a 
distant roar broke the awful silence. People began to fear that some awful 
calamity was impending, but as yet no one even dreamed of the danger. 

"The illumination soon became intensified into a lurid glare; the roar 
deepened into a howl, as if all the demons of the infernal pit had been let 
loose, when the advance gusts of wind from the main body of the tornado 
struck. Chimneys were blown down, houses were unroofed, and, amid the 
confusion, terror, 'and terrible apprehensions of the moment, the fiery 
element, in tremendous inrolling billows and masses of sheeted flame, 
enveloped the devoted village. The frenzy of despair seized on all hearts ; 
strong men bowed like reeds before the fiery blast; women and children, like 
frightened specters flitting through the awful gloom, were swept away like 
autumn leaves. Crowds rushed for the bridge; but the bridge, like all else, 
was receiving its baptism of fire. Hundreds crowded into the river; cattle 
plunged in with them, and being huddled together in the general confusion 


of the moment, many who had taken to the water to avoid the flames were 
drowned. A great many were on the blazing bridge when it fell. The de- 
bris from the burning town was hurled over and on the heads of those who 
were in the water, killing many and maiming others, so that they gave up in 
despair and sank to a watery grave." 

The following account, by an intelligent correspondent who traveled ojrer 
the burnt district after the fires, is the fullest and most circumstantial that 
has been furnished, and we give it entire: 

PESHTIGO, WISCONSIN, November 6, 1871. 

Some ten days since, I started out for the purpose of writing up the scenes 
and incidents connected with the recent destruction of this section, and 
although so much time has elapsed, I now, for the first time, am enabled to 
send your readers any thing. This was not in consequence of there not 
being plenty to write about, but because I had previously concluded not to 
write a line until after personally visiting the scene of devastation, and 
forming my own conclusions from actual observation. 

At Chicago I found the sub-committee from Cincinnati appointed to visit 
this section and report the condition of things generally ; and as we were all 
bound for one point, we concluded to join forces, and, as much as possible, 
travel together. A night's travel brought us to Milwaukee, where the com- 
mitteemen had a very interesting interview with the mayor of that city, Har- 
rison Luddington, Esq., one of the wealthiest and most prominent business 
men of the North-west, who furnished very much information of impor- 
tance. From Milwaukee we passed on to Green Bay, a fine city of some 
five thousand inhabitants, located at the head of Green Bay, a body of water 
some one hundred and thirty miles long and from fifteen to forty miles 
wide. At Green Bay your committee, by special request, met Governor 
Fairchild, Hon. Mr. Sawyer, member of Congress from this district, General 
Bailey, and other prominent persons. The governor could not find words to 
express, in behalf of his people, the gratitude they all felt for the solid evi- 
dences of sympathy shown for the sufferers, and assured your committee 
that the gifts of Cincinnati were fully as large as from any other section. 
The interview with the governor ended by your committee concluding 
to take the several car-loads of goods they had with them right on through 
to Peshtigo, and know for themselves that the sufferers were supplied as rap- 
idly as possible, and not have the much-needed supplies remain in the va- 
rious warehouses of different cities until all the forms of red tape could be 
gone through with ; for if the goods were needed at all, it was to relieve the 
more pressing demands of the moment. Taking the good steamer Geo. L. 
Duulap (I believe that is the way bills of lading read), after a very pleasant 


ride of sixty miles on the bay, we reached Menominee, the point from which 
all persons start out to visit the burnt region. Crossing over the Menominee 
River, we reach Marinette and Menekaune, or, rather, what is left of the 
latter place, as the fire almost blotted it out of existence. The fire came 
sweeping through the forests toward these towns, threatening destruction to 
every thing in its path. At this point Mr. A. C. Brown, the resident partner 
of one of the large mills here, ordered out all his men and teams to a point 
where a street had been cut through the timber a short time previously. 
The teams hauled water, which the men dashed on the ground and trees; 
thus for fourteen hours successfully keeping back the flames from Marinette, 
until all danger was over. While the men were working here the fire 
quickly passed to the left, and in a few minutes almost every house in 
Menekaune was in flames. These included two large mills, a fine Catholic 
and Methodist Churches, a school-house, and, in fact, almost every house in 
the town. When the dames reached the river, not finding any thing else 
to devour, with one bound the fire jumped over the water, which is fully as 
wide as the Ohio at Cincinnati, and consumed a very fine mill. The wind 
now abated, to which fact alone can be attributed the saving of Menominee. 


The main hospitals for the wounded are located are Marinette, and 
through the kindness of Dr. Wright, the surgeon in charge, I visited the 
premises, and saw the many sad sights to be seen. The buildings are made 
of rough boards, very much similar in appearance to the barracks of the 
army. The interior arrangements were made as comfortable as could be ex- 
pected under the circumstances. The first patient on the right as you enter 
is an American, who has with him his wife, babe, and five other children. 
Three of the latter are half-breeds, by a former wife, a squaw of the Stock- 
bridge tribe, whose reservation is located in the burnt district. The story of 
this man is the same in substance as that of a score of others. The fire ap 
proached them so unexpectedly that they had to run for their lives without 
saving any thing but the clothes they had on. They reached a small pool 
of water, where they sat for many hours, or until the fury of the fire had 
passed, when, terribly burned as they were, they managed to reach help, and 
were brought to town and properly cared for. Strange as it may seem, that 
while the half-breed children of this family were the worst burned, they 
exhibited the stoical indifference to pain of their people, while the other 
children, all white, moaned loud enough to be heard all over the room. 
The next patient an old German, seventy-six years of age was from the 
lower bush country. He lost his wife, daughter, son, and eight grandchil- 
dren. The old man bore up with wonderful fortitude under all his afflictions, 


and would tell you, in his own quiet way, all about the fire, until he came 
to where his aged partner lost her life, when the tears would roll down his 
furrowed cheeks, and, with clasped hands, he would say, "Mine Got! is my 
poor frau dead?" We pass on to another bed, where an aged lady in 
writhing in the greatest pain, undoubtedly in a dying condition. She is the 
only one left of a family of ten, and she, too, must go, blotting out from 
existence one large family which, so short time ago, had cause to feel so 
nrich promise for the future. The next three beds are occupied by the 
Hoyt family, or, at least, what is left of it, some half a dozen of them hav- 
ing perished. Those here are all badly burned, one or two past recovery. 
On the next bed is one of the half-breed boys before referred to. He is 
burned on the abdomen until his bowels almost protrude, yet he never com- 
plains, and answers your questions as indifferently as if he was a disinter- 
ested spectator of the scene. The next is a double bed, occupied by two full 
grown men, former members of a Wisconsin regiment. One of them, Lovett 
Reed, started to run'for a clearing, but finding he could not reach it, took 
out his pocket-knife and deliberately attempted to commit suicide by stab- 
bing himself to the heart. After inflicting several severe, though not fatal, 
wounds, he accidentally dropped his weapon, which, owing to the darkness, 
he could not recover, and his design was frustrated. The fire passed over, 
he was only slightly burned, and next day was brought into the hospital, 
where he is slowly recovering. The next three beds are occupied by a Ger- 
man family, or, at least, what is left of it, the mother and one child having 
died since they reached the hospital, and one more little fellow will go before 
many hours. These children are quite bright, polite, and intelligent, plainly 
showing that when their mother passed over into the dark valley they lost 
their best earthly friend. But why particularize the different individual 
cases where there are so 'many? There are now nearly three hundred of 
the burned in Marinette and Menominee. Most of them, however, are 
quartered in private houses. The people of these towns were very prompt 
in offering relief, opening wide their doors to all who came for quarters or 
assistance. The proprietor of the leading hotel, the Dunlap House, at once 
vacated all his rooms, and filled his hotel with the sick and wounded, and I 
had the not pleasant lot of sleeping in a bed which the night before was oc- 
cupied by one of the wounded, and which was still covered with blood. As 
these were the best quarters to be had, I was even glad to get in here. This 
morning, a fine team, the property of Mr. Brown, was at the door ready to 
take us down to Peshtigo, a town which, through its misfortunes, now has a 
national notoriety. A short distance out we reach the inner limit of the 
fire district, and from there to this place every thing is gone; nothing left, 
not even the soil, which was a sort of peat. The tornado took the great 


forests of gigantic nines and leveled them to the ground, as if they had only 
been blades of grass. In their fall the gronnd around their roots was torn 
up, presenting on every hand great barriers of earth, forcibly reminding an 
old soldier of earthworks in the army. Along the road where, before the 
fire, you could only see half a rod to the right or left, you can now see for 
miles in either direction. The trees, uprooted and twisted by the terrible 
wind, in falling have so interlocked that it would cost much more to clear 
the charred trunks away and level the roots than the land is worth, which 
fact adds to the general gloom. Passing ahead, on every side witne^ing as 
sad sights as the human mind could picture, we finally reached Peshtigo, or, 
at least, where it once stood. The town was located on both banks of a 
river, from which it took its name ; the stream being about one-half as wide 
as the Ohio. As you enter, on the left, a few pieces of charcoal, a handful 
of ashes, and a few bricks show all that remains of what was once a very 
fine church; three rods away marks the spot where Ogden, one of the 
millionaires of Chicago, and the president of the rich Peshtigo Lumber 
Company, had his country palace, where he spent his summers. 

The street where we now pass along was lined with the best houses of the 
town. Here stood the fire-engine house, a small frame structure just large 
enough to hold a steam fire engine. The cupola was of open wood-work, but 
so intense was the heat that the bell, weighing several hundred pounds, was 
melted up. A little further along we are shown where a train of platform 
cars loaded with green lumber stood at the time of the fire, all of which w:is 
destroyed excepting the iron wheels, which are partly melted. The force of 
the tornado w-as so great that one car load of the lumber was carried more 
than one hundred feet, where it burned. Here to the right was the company 
store-house, which was an immense building. Jn the debris we find upoons 
by the dozen, all melted together, stove-pipes melted into balls not larger 
than your fist, crockery, china, glass and hardware all run together, showing 
the great intensity of the heat. Some hundreds of feet to the right and renr 
of the lasi ouilding, stands the only house left of the once flourishing town. 
The house had a gable end fronting the river, with an ell on the upper side, 
and was not finished. The fire struck the ell, which was destroyed in almost 
the time it takes me to tell of it, but such was the velocity of the wind that 
after the wing was burned off the fire was actually blown off, passing into the 
timber a few feet away, and the main house was saved. The wooden-ware 
factory is also on this side' of the river, and was the largest of the kind in the 
world. It was some five hundred feet long, by half as great a width, and 
five stories high. The section of the house in which the engine, boilers, and 
machinery were located, was of heavy stones, with stone and grouted floors, 
and was constructed with the idea that it was positively fire-proof. The littl* 


remaining of it is conclusive proof that it went up in smoke, like a tinder- 
box. Among the ruins can be found thousands of dozens of pail and tub 
hoops, melted together like so much lead. 

A few rods down the river from this building were a number of boards in 
the river, forming a platform some twelve feet square, upon which twenty- 
eight persons got for safety. After the fire was over, they discovered that 
their platform was buoyed up by seventeen barrels of benzine, which, fortu- 
nately, did not burst and ignite, or the destruction of life would have been 
frightful, as only a few hundred feet below, on the same side of the river, 
were five hundred people in the water, and the benzine on fire would have 
floated right down among them, and it is my judgment that every one of them 
would have been destroyed. The company had erected a fine bridge across 
the river, which was destroyed, fortunately after most of the people had 
crossed over safely. There is a temporary structure in its place, over which 
we pass, and stop at the barracks, where we find Mr. Burns, the company's 
agent, who extended every favor in his power. Being a man of fine culture, 
his description of the fire was very interesting. I suppose that he took more 
trouble to describe things minutely to me, as I was the first correspondent 
from a distance who had personally visited the town ; the other vivid de- 
scriptions in other papers having been written by writers of great imagina- 
tion, while snugly stowed away in hotels at either Chicago, Milwaukee, or 
Green Bay. In this number, of course, are not be included the writers for the 
two or three weekly papers published in this section of the State. Mr. Burns, 
as soon as the fire commenced, put on the hose, and had the water thrown 
all around the factories, stores, and boarding-houses belonging to the com- 
pany. This was soon abandoned, as the brass couplings of the hose were 
actually melting with the intense heat. Then it was the order was given for 
every man to look out for himself, and Burns ran down to the river's edge, 
and got into the water. Just before doing so he met a friend who was hat- 
less, and almost at the same moment Burns' dog came up with a hat in his 
mouth, which was given to the needy one. The strange part of tlus incident 
is the fact that the dog, a water spaniel, had been locked up in the house, 
and how he escaped, or what induced him at this particular moment to take 
a hat with him, none could tell. 

Burns said the fire came creeping slowly up the main street on the side of 
the town first reached by fire, went up the front door of the Congregational 
Church, hesitated a moment at the door knob, then quickly reached the spire, 
and in three minutes every house in town was on fire, and in one hour all 
that remained of the town was the unfinished house before alluded to. The 
feelings of the hundreds of men, women, and children during the seven fear- 
ful hours they remained in the wa^er, watching the terrific progress of the 


flames, almost perishing from the heat and smoke, can better be imagined 
than described. When the fury of the tempest had passed by, and the heat 
moderated enough to allow a human being to live, it was found that almost 
all of those in the water were so benumbed as to be powerless, and it took 
the few who had nerve enough left a considerable length of time to assist the 
others to land. Their situation was little better now than while they were 
in the water, for they were without any food or clothing, with the roads in 
every direction so blockaded with fallen timber that it was impossible for any 
of those who were able, to go out for help. Here they remained all that 
night and the next day; yet still they did not lose confidence. They felt 
that if any*had been spared they would surely come to their assistance, 
and their hopes were not groundless, for toward evening one of the ladies 
asserted that she could hear the sound of axes, and although none others 
could hear the welcome noise, still the woman with her keen sense would not 
give up. After awhile others heard the noise, and before an hour had 
elapsed a few of the more daring of the noble men of Menominee and 
Marinette had cut their way through the terrible six miles of devastation, 
carrying with them a few provisions and some clothing, and before the sun 
went down wagons of stores arrived with sufficient to make all comfortable. 
The burned were taken back to the last two towns in the empty wagons, and 
were as well cared for as the sudden emergency would permit. The next 
day the balance of the population went to the different towns on the bay, 
where they were kindly attended to. To-morrow I go down to the Sugar 
Bush country, and you may then expect another letter. W. L. 

NEWBERBY'S FARM, November 7, 1871. 

My letter yesterday described the situation at Peshtigo, and to-day I write 
you from the Lower Sugar Bush country, the most desolate part of the burnt 

After a hearty lunch at Peshtigo we again started on our tour of observa- 
tion, our objective point being what is known as the Lower Sugar Bush, 
where the loss of life was far greater than in any other place. A few hun- 
dred yards out from the town, on the right hand side of the road, is the vil- 
lage graveyard, where we had the privilege of seeing an 


There were quite a number of the red faces present, all of whom joined in 
the solemn orgies. The deceased was a leading man of the Stockbridge 
tribe, and had passed over to the beautiful hunting-grounds of his fore- 
fathers after a lingering illness. The body was placed in a plain box coffin, 



which also contained all the little articles belonging to the deceased during 
lifetime, such as the pipe, knife, clothes, etc. The coffin was carried by 
three braves and a like number of squaws, who, with heads uncovered, 
were constantly repeating short Catholic prayers, as all aborigines of the 
Stockbridge tribe belong to that church. After passing around the grave 
several tiifles, the coffin was finally lowered, the grave filled up, and the 
spectators departed, the squaws to the left and the men in the opposite 

It is impossible for the most graphic writer to attempt to picture the utter 
desolation of the scene before us. It was our good fortune to have in company 
with us as our guide Mr. W. P. Newberry, one of the greatest sufferers by 
the fire, who, being thoroughly acquainted with every foot of the ground 
over which we traveled, could point out to us every object of interest, of 
which there are any number. 


About the first farm out from Peshtigo is owned by a one-eyed German, 
who is known the country round as Schwartz, the Hermit. Some twenty 
years since, when this region was an unbroken wilderness, occupied almost 
exclusively by Indians, this man Schwartz came here, built a cabin, and ever 
since has lived entirely alone, apparently caring very little for the outside 
world, or for what other people thought of him. At that time, with the 
exception of the blind eye, Schwartz was a splendid-looking man, and 
blessed with a very superior education. The story of the cause of hia 
abandoning the world and adopting the life of a recluse is the same as has 
been told thousands of times before. He fell in love with a handsome girl 
the story would be spoiled if she was not beautiful was engaged to be mar- 
ried, when she, like too many others of her sex, proved false, and married 
another fellow, a major in the Prussian army. This was too much for our 
hero, who forthwith fled to America, and found consolation for his blighted 
affections in the solitude of these pine forests. He dug, or, rather, burrowed, 
in the ground, where he lived with his chickens, geese, cats, hogs, and dogs, 
presenting as happy a family as can be found in any managerie in the coun- 
try. Schwartz has been very thrifty and industrious since he came here, and 
was considered very wealthy, many even asserting that he had gold stored 
away in every corner of his filthy abode. When the fire came, Schwartz 
and his family ran down to Trout Brook, into which they plunged, and re- 
mained until the fire had spent its fury. The hermit has already commenced 
building another hut, where he will doubtless spend the balance of his days, 
little heeding what'takes place elsewhere. 



About half a mile beyond Schwartz, on the right, and about two hundred 
yards from the road, are the remains of a dwelling which was occupied by 
a family named Hill. The family were all in the house at evening prayers, 
when they were suddenly startled by a loud noise, much resembling contin- 
uous thunder. On going to the door they found themselvos entirely sur- 
rounded by fire, and, as the only means of escape, the whole of them, eight 
in namber, went down into the welL Here they remained in safety until 
the wooden house covering the well caught fire, fell in, and burned the entire 
party to death. Another case exactly similar to the last was that of the 
Davis family in Peshtigo, who were all smothered to death in their well, 
into which they had descended in the vain hope of saving their lives. I 
have heard of qtiiffe a number of such cases, but as the facts were not definitely 
given, I make no mention of them. 


A short distance on, we come to a low stone wall, the foundation of a 
house, the former residence of a family named Lawrence, all of whom 
perished. Immediately in front of this place was the iron-work of a wagon, 
which once belonged to Chas. Lamp. Lamp lived about a mile beyond, and 
when he found the fire approaching his house so rapidly, he hitched up his 
team, and, with his wife and five children, drove with all speed toward 
Peshtigo. In a very few minutes after starting he heard screams in the 
wagon, and looking back, found that the clothes of his wife and children 
were all ablaze; it was certain death to stop, and he therefore urged his 
horses to still greater speed ; but before moving many rods one of the horses 
fell, and finding that he could not get him up, and seeing that all of his fam- 
ily were dead, Lamp started to save his life, which he did after being most 
horribly burned. He is now in the hospital at Green Bay, and is slowly 
recovering. When at the latter place, I saw him, and had a full narrative 
of the bloody tragedy from himself. What little was found of the charred 
remains of the wife and five children were buried in a field not far off. Of 
the wagon not a speck was to be seen, excepting the half-melted iron-work. 

We next come to the Lawrence farm, one of the best on the whole route, 
showing a very high state of cultivation, on which every thing had been 
swept away. Lawrence, with his wife and four children, ran to the center of 
an immense clearing, several hundred yards from any house or timber, with 
the idea that they would be entirely safe there. The fire came, and rushed 
along OQ every side of them, yet they remained unharmed ; at this wgiuent 


one of the great balloons dropped in their midst, and in an instant they 
were burned up, hardly any thing being left of them. 


Your readers may wonder what I mean by fire balloons, and I confess that 
I hardly know myself, and only use the term because it was so frequently 
used by others in conversation with me. All of the survivors with whom I 
conversed said that the whole sky seemed filled with dark, round masses of 
enioke, about the size of a large balloon, which traveled with fearful rapidity. 
These balloons would fall to the ground, burst, and send forth a most brill- 
iant blaze of fire, which would instantly consume every thing in the 
neighborhood. An eye-witness, who was in a pool of water not far off, told 
us about the balloon falling right down on the Lawrence family, and burning 
them up. 

Passing on a mile or more, we reach the edge of a very small stream, on 
the bank of which stood the stately residence of Nathaniel May, one of the 
best farmers of Northern Wisconsin, a man held in the highest estimation by 
all. At the time of the fire a man named William Aldous, with his wife and 
three children, residents of Western New York, were visiting at May's. 
The first intimation that any of them had of the danger was the roaring of 
the flames in the woods, not more than five hundred feet away. They all 
rushed out, but before they could reach the water, fifty feet off, the flames 
struck them, and they all instantly perished. Mr. Newberry, of our party, 
with his family, were in the water, not more than one hundred feet from 
May's, and all they heard was Mrs. May crying out to her daughter: " Lola, 
come this way ; come with mother." A couple of days afterward the burial 
party from Marinette visited the May farm, and found the remains of them 
all close together, with the exception of the little girl, who was some distance 
off, showing that in the darkness she had accidentally been separated. I will 
have more to say about the brook near May's house, but will defer until I 
visit the Newberry farms, which are about one mile further on. 

Henry Newberry, a citizen of Connecticut, came to Wisconsin some fifteen 
years ago, with his family, consisting of a wife and six children. The whole 
of them having the thrift and industry for which the Yankees are so fa- 
mous, they were very prosperous, and soon acquired nearly a thousand acres 
of land, a considerable portion of which they cleared, and had under culti- 
vation. As the children grew up, they married, and had allotted to the a, 
foT their own use, their portions of the farm. In addition to this, they had 
joined forces and built a very good mill, where all of them were employed. 
The only son saved, William P. Newberry, was one of our party, and from 
hiu own lips I had the story of the great disaster. This gentleman waa 


formerly a teacher, for which position, by education and habits, he is 
eminently fitted. Mr. Ncwberry being a man of unusual nerve and sound 
judgment, I concluded to give his statement of the fire as most reliable. 

The fire had been burning down in the swamps, some miles to the west, 
for two or three weeks. But little was thought of it, as it traveled only a 
few feet in a day, and all felt confident that whenever desirable it could be 
: fought out " in a few hours. 

On Sunday night, about 9 o'clock (the same day and hour the Chicago fire 
commenced), they heard a great roaring, and, on going out, Mr. Newbtrry 
found the smoke so suffocating as to be almost unbearable. He started over 
to his brother's house, a few rods oft', to see what must be done, but before he 
had gone far, was forced to return to his house. The noise was now of the 
most appalling character, like one long peal of thunder, or rapid discharge 
of heavy parks of artillery. The rear door was open, and it was only by the 
greatest exertion . that it was closed, which was no sooner done than the 
llames blew through the cracks underneath, clear across the room. Mr. 
Newberry now knew that the only safety was in flight, so, taking their only 
child in his arms, and accompanied by his wife and her sister, they all fled, 
but where, they knew not. At last, coming to the creek known as Little 
Trout, they found a pool of water some six inches deep, about twelve feet 
wide and as many long; and being totally exhausted, here they sat down, 
with their backs toward the fire. In an almost incredible short space of 
time the fire was on all sides of them, the flames from May's barn, and a 
heavy log bridge which spanned the creek, in which they were sitting, almost 
reaching them. Here they were expecting every moment to perish either by 
being burned to death, or suffocated. Once in a while they would feel a 
pleasant breeze from the bay, when they would inflate their lungs to their 
fullest capacity, and then breathe as little as possible while the hot air was 
passing. They constantly threw water over themselves to keep their cloth- 
ing from burning, which proved effectual. Strange as it may seem, the babe, 
which was resting in its father's arms in the water, slept the entire time, over 
six hours, that they were there. When the fire had passed, the party 
crawled up on the side of the creek, and, almost chilled to death, awaited the 
approach of daylight. A little later they heard a man calling for help, who, 
on coming to them, proved to be Charles Lamp, their neighbor, mention of 
whose family burning to death in the wagon has already been made. Lamp 
was blind and powerless, but with help reached *be creek bank. As soon as 
it was light enough, Mr. Newberry started out to see what had become of 
his father, brothers, and sisters. A short distance off the bank of the creek 
were the bodies of two men, and a few feet further on the carcases of several 
hogs and cows. Finding that he was too blind to go on, he cut off sonic 


meat from one of the cows, and took it back to his family, when they cooked 
and ate it. 

Some time during the day a wagon came out and took the family down to 
Peshtigo, where they received attentions from the Marinette people. The 
same party that helped this gentleman went to look after the other branches 
of the family. One brother they found near a barn wall, a hundred yards 
away, curled up around a stake, dead. Two hundred yards off, to the left, 
in the creek, under a bridge, they found Walter Newberry, his wife, and three 
children, and some distance on, alongside the road, they found several other 
members of the 'family. The father was also lost, but his remains thus far 
have not been found, and it is not improbable that they were entirely con- 
sumed. Thus, out of a family of seventeen persons, twelve perished. The 
mother was on a visit to her daughter at Menominee, or she also would have 
been one of the number lost. Near the ruins of Walter Newberry's house 
could be seen the iron-work of a wagon, remnants of a trunk, with daguer- 
reotype frames, buttons, beads, parts of breast-pins, etc., showing conclusively 
that when the danger was discerned the family had loaded their trunks into 
their wagon and started off, but had only proceeded a few feet when they 
were forced to abandon the wagon, and flee down the road to the spot where 
their bodies were found. 

As we went around with Mr. Newberry, and he pointed out to us the 
various places on the farm spots which now have a holy remembrance to 
him we could not but feel how sad must be his thoughts. All the bodies of 
his family are buried on the farm, six in one place, and ten in another, four 
of the latter belonging to another family. In this place I can not forbear 
mentioning a singular fact which our party noticed while standing and look- 
ing at the little pool of "water where the Newberry family were saved. All 
over it were small dead trout floating, which had been boiled to death by the 
action of the heat on the water. We secured some of these boiled fish for 
the purpose of showing them to our citizens. 


Opposite where the Newberry house stood could be seen the debris marking 
the spot where had stood the residence of John Church, the village black- 
smith, a man respected by all. His household consisted of himself, wife, and 
son, the latter a young man just of age. When the hurricane of fire came, 
the old man and wife appeared to despair, but the son started on the race for 
life to save himself. He hnd only ran about ten rods, when, finding escape 
impossible, he deliberately took out his knife and cut his throat from ear to 
ear, dying, as was supposed, almost instantly. The only living tree or plant 
to be seen ill all this region are two or three strawberry plants, on Mr. New- 


berry's farm, which, on account of the direction of the wind, or from some 
other cause, were not burned. Mr. Newberry, in describing the fire, said 
that it seemed to him that the elements were on fire with fervent heat. The 
flames were rolling along hundreds of feet high above the tops of the high- 
est trees, and seemed to travel with lightning speed. I am not surprised 
at any opinion, however exaggerated, but for my own part concluded that 
there was not any outside influence at work. The fire, which had been burn- 
ing for weeks in the marshes, suddenly fanned into power by th force of the 
tornado, reached the heavy pine timber, which, as is well known, contains a 
large percentage of resinous matter, and as it was carried along, gained such 
a momentum that it doubtless did appear that the very heavens were being 
consumed, causing many, even intelligent persons, to conclude that the day 
of judgment, the hour of complete, total destruction was at hand. 

To the west of the Newberry settlement were many very fine farms, and 
of ill the persons who lived in that direction, for about five miles, hardly one 
\wis saved. It seemed to matter little whether they lived near the timber or 
in the center of large clearings, their doom was the same. 

In the westerly and southerly direction, or the point from which the fire 
started, every thing is burned up for some twelve miles in length, and as far 

in breadth. 


In returning, about a mile to the north we came to Adnah Newton's farm, 
where sixteen persons were burned to death. As soon as Newton saw the 
fire he started out to see what was best to be done. Running down to the 
road, he found himself headed off by the flames. Turning back, he saw his 
family and workmen in the yard coming toward him, but when they noticed 
him turn back they also changed their course; in an instant more they were 
all on fire, and must have perished in a moment. Newton happened to notice 
on his right what proved to be a path through the flames, about fifty yards 
wide, for which he rushed, and continued for three-fourths of a mile, when he 
came to a house still occupied by several persons. They all invited him to come 
into the house, but he declined, saying he would rather trust to being saved in 
a small pool of water close by. In another instant the house was on fire, and 
before the inmates could get to him they were all burned to death, while 
Newton escaped pretty well singed. I had a long conversation with Newton, 
and he declared that he had no hankering after another such race. The 
second day after the fire thirty-three remains were found on these three 

Not far from where Newton saved himself was a field, into which two 
bears and several deer had fled for safety ; but they exhibited very little of 
the instinct of self-preservation, as they all smothered to death together, the 


bears not even taking time to take a lunch of deer meat before their de- 

The Doyle family consisted of the husband and father, Patrick, the wife, 
and seven children. The fire came, and not one single trace of any of them 
could be found, excepting a Catholic medal, some nails out of a pair of 
shoes, and some hooks and eyes. Of their bodies not one single thing was 
left, not even the ashes of their bones. Next to the Doyles lived the Pratt 
family, all of whom perished, excepting a small boy, who saved himself by 
jumping into the well. When the burial party arrived, they found the large 
Newfoundland dog watching by the body of his mistress, and it was only by 
force that they could drive him away long enough to bury the corpse. The 
Hill family, consisting of ten persons, lived near by. They had working for 
them a half-grown Indian boy, who was ordered down to hitch up the team. 
The barn getting on fire, the master ordered him to return. Not coming as 
last as Hill desired, the order was repeated in a more peremptory manner, 
when the Indian looked up, and said: "It's every body for himself now," 
and off he started with the speed of a deer. Bushing through the fire, he 
reached a clearing half a mile away, and was saved, while the entire Hill 
family perished. 


In the entire Upper Bush country there is only one house left, the home 
of "old man" Place. Many years ago this man settled here, soon afterward 
marrying a squaw, by whom he has had many children. He has always 
engaged in trading with the Indians, who have had his house as their head- 
quarters. When the fire came about twenty Indians covered his house with 
their blankets, which they kept wet down, thus saving the house. One great 
big fellow stood at the pump for nine hours, showing an endurance possessed 
by very few white men. Strange as it may seem, that while there are about 
as many Indians as whites in this section, at least one thousand of the latter 
perished and not a single Indian. This nifty seem strange, but was vouched 
for by the very best persons here. Whether the Indians could smell the fire 
sooner than their more refined white brethren and escaped in time, I know 
not; but I do know that they were all saved. And the only ones I heard 
of being injured were the half-breed children I spoke of in my last letter. 
To-morrow I travel in the further Bush region. W. L. 

SPEAKS' PLACE, WISCONSIN, November 9, 1871. 

Yesterday, when I wrote from Newberry's Farm, the weather was as pleas- 
ant as could be desired, and to-day a cold norwester makes a heavy overcoat 
very acceptable. As many of your readers may not understand why this is 
called the Sugar Bush country, it may not be out of place to say that there 


are many Swedes and Norwegians residing in this section, who give the name 
"Sugar Bush" on account of the large forests of maples to be found here, 
while in every other direction are only pines and cedars. At Peshtigo 
center three roads ; the left hand one leads to the Lower Sugar Bush, the 
center one to the Middle, and the third to the Upper Sugar Bush, and it is 
from the latter that I now write. 

This farm was owned by a Mr. Louis E. Spear, an excellent citizen, who, 
with his wife and two children, perished while attempting to escape from the 
fearful blast. They only reached a point a few hundred yards from their 
house, when they fell to rise no more, while two Indians, who were at the 
house when the tire commenced, saved themselves by getting into a small 
creek, whith is to be seen a short distance off on the opposite side. They 
had their woolen blankets, which they threw over their heads and kept 
wetted down. That this would preserve them seems very strange, as the fire 
in the timber was not more than twenty feet off from where they sat, and the 
intensity of the heat was so great that a stove in a house not more than three 
rods away was melted. 

The Penegree farm was the next one we visited, where the destruction is 
fully as great as in every other quarter every thing is gone, one total wreck 
not a house, barn, fence, or tree, nay, not even the soil itself being left. The 
Upper Sugar Bush was not so thickly populated as the Lower, but the farms 
were fully as well cultivated, and as much thrift shown as elsewhere, but 
now all the people are gone, the scene one picture of desolation, not a shrub, 
not even a blade of grass growing. We now come to a farm that was occu- 
pied by Philip Weinhardt, wife, and five children, a real good, solid, subs'an- 
tial German family. The first warning any of them had, was the low, 
rumbling noise heretofore described. The wife went to the door, found fire 
on every side of them, and believing the day of judgment was at hand, with- 
out an effort to save themselves, they all perished. This idea of final disso- 
lution was entertained, not by the ignorant only, as the most intelligent 
thought that the noise they heard was the echo of Gabriel's trumpet. Mr. 
Beebe, the Peshtigo Company's Agent, as soon as he saw the fire, declared 
that the last hour had come, and, although repeatedly requested to save him- 
self, refused to do so, and perished without an effort to get away. The last 
eeen of him, he was in his front door, with hands clasped, exclaiming: 
" Great God, Thy will be done ; to Thee I intrust my soul." In the center 
of a large sandy field, hundreds of yards from any timber or house, stood a 
stump, which was entirely destroyed, down even into the roots, leaving the 
ground like just so much honey-comb: A few rods off was the carcass of a 
cow, with the bell which had been around her neck lying near by, in a half- 
melted condition. All of your readers have undoubtedly visited houses 


which have been totally destroyed, and noticed the stoves and other articles 
of iron in the cellars, all of which were in good condition, excepting they 
were, perhaps, warped or discolored, but I doubt whether they ever saw such 
things melted a sight to be seen here, wherever the debris of a house is to be 
found, the iron of the stoves, and even the wrought-iron pipe, being melted 
up. In one cellar, I think that of a house formerly occupied by the Car- 
rough family, I found three smoothing-irons melted together, so as to all lift 
out and adhere together; this was one of the finest specimens to be found 


We next come to a farm, the property of a real honest-looking German, 
who had the good fortune to save all of his family, and his team, bvit every 
thing else was gone. Leaving his wife and family to live on the roasted po- 
tatoes to be found in the cellar, after two days' extraordinary exertions, he 
made his way down to Menominee, where he purchased a saw, hatchet, nails, 
and some lumber, and made his way back home, where he arrived in one day, 
the road having been partially cleared by the workmen of the Peshtigo 
Company. He at once made a cabin about the size of a common pig-pen, 
where that night the good/rau gave birth to another son. This did not deter 
Hans from traveling on in the even tenor of his way, for he has already a 
good comfortable house nearly built, and with the clothing and provisions 
furnished by the committee, he says he can keep his head afloat until next 
harvest. The innocent little Teuton which last made his entry into the 
world, has a fiery red head, which might be attributed to the action of the 
heat, were it not that both the father and mother have heads as red as little 
Myers' face. 


Passing around the road, we come to a country cemetery, where we see a 
half-grown boy busily engaged in digging some graves. Going up to him, 
we enter into conversation, and find that he is the only survivor of a family 
of ten, all the rest having perished in the fire, the boy having saved himself 
by getting down a deep well, and covering his head with a blanket which he 
kept wet. The Marinette burial party had buried this family in rude boxes, 
on the spot where the bodies were found, but this son, with a devotion rarely 
equaled, disinterred the bodies, and put them into good plain coffins, which 
he made himself, and then carried them, one at a time, on his shoulder to 
the cemetery, a distance of nearly one mile. When the young fellow men 
tioned the names of his family his eyes would fill with tears, and he would 
say, " What am 1 to do in the world all alone? " 


In this Bush lived a great many French families, all of whom were in 
comfortable circumstances, and hardly one of them escaped from the fury of 
the blast. Just beyond the cemetery was a stone wail, at least one full mile 
from the nearest timber in the direction from which the fire came, yet so 
intense was the heat that the stones cracked into minute pieces, and in many 
places the sandstones actually melted, leaving a glazed surface, something like 
pottery ware. Near here the road is quite sandy, and the surface melted 
down, leaving a crust on the face of a glassy nature. Wherever the sand 
was blown against the trees, the wood presented a smooth appearance, just 
e if it had been covered with melted glass. As we ride along we are greeted 
with the sight of a fine buck which crossed the road only a short distance 
ahead of us, and when about five rods from the road quietly stopped, and 
stood eyeing us as we passed by. I did not wish the lonesome fellow any 
harm, but I must confess that I saiif to myself that I would willingly pay 
for the chSmpagne if Joseph Glenn, the partner of the " truly good man," 
could have been with us with his pups and gun. Perhaps the deer would 
then have been in as little danger as he was from us. 

Leaving the " hard wood " country, we enter where only a short time ago 
were vast forests of huge pines, fully as large as any I have ever seen except- 
ing in Oregon. The trees are now mostly uprooted, and leveled with the 
ground, presenting as complete an abattis as could be desired by the most 
skillful military commander. I could go on and give any number of sights 
to be seen in this desolated country, but as they are only repetitions of what 
has already been written, therefore content myself by saying that after pass- 
ing through many miles of barren territory, where all was once prosperous, 
we return to Menominee, ready to visit the Peninsula and Michigan, where 
the fires were fully as severe as in this section. 


I know not of any better place to speak of the supply question than the 
present When the first cry for assistance went forth the people all over the 
land, in their excitement, sent here whatever came first. This fact is notice- 
able in any of the general supply rooms, such as the one at Green Bay. When 
we visited them, we found some twenty of the first ladies of the town, headed 
by Mrs. Colonel Chas. D. Robinson, their Chairman, busily engaged assort- 
ing the clothing; and such an assortment. Did the world ever see the like? 
There was Horace Greeley's famous hat, without crown or rim, several cart- 
loads of odd, worn-out shoes, an unlimited quantity of antique, used-up sum- 
mer clothing, just the thing for people where the thermometer often falls to 
fifteen and twenty degrees below zero. One of the beautiful ladies engaged 
in matching the odd shoes, said that " it reminded her of playing ' Old Maid' 


with one of the cards gone." I wondered at the time whether the card she 
referred to was the wedding card. 

Of such useless stuff enough has already been sent to start all the " Cheap 
Johns" in business to - be found throughout the country. And whenever 
second-hand clothing is sent, it is advisable to have it washed first, as it h:is 
to be handled by ladies, who, not being accustomed to the work, are not par- 
tial to the effluvia arising from aged perspiration. What is really needed is 
good, warm, serviceable underwear for the ladies and children, and glovea 
and underwear for the men, who have to work out in the forests chopping 
timber and hauling logs. So far as money is concerned, it is better to keep 
it home, and save it until spring time, when farming implements, provisions, 
seed, grain, etc., will be wanted, none of which any of the farmers now have. 
In fact, the real suffering is yet to come, after the first rush of sympathy has 
gone by and the real substantial are ifceded. 


I have had the pleasure of meeting many of the leading citizens of all the 
places in the North-west where committees have been formed for the purpose 
of relieving the sufferers by the fire, and I must say that, after a full investi- 
gation, I have come to the conclusion that there is too much committee en- 
tirely, and that the work would have been pushed through more rapidly had 
fewer persons been held responsible for the task. 

As it was, boxes and bundles from every section of the land came pouring 
in, directed to almost every town in the State, just as if Wisconsin was the 
size, of "Little Khody," instead of a vast State. To distribute these gifts, 
committees of the eminently respectable gentlemen were organized, who 
went to work in their old-fashioned, even-tempered way, while the poor 
sufferers were shivering with cold and empty in stomach. The snap, the 
fire, the energy having long since left these gentlemen, it was soon found that 
things were not working smoothly and forcibly as desirable, and in many 
instances new men of undoubted "push-aheaditiveness" were selected, and 
went to work right at the marrow of the question, cutting red tape ; and 
when a poor wretch came pleading for clothing to keep him warm, at once 
giving it to him. This new deal has been productive of much good, and 
saved a vast quantity of suffering. For my part, I can not see any sense in 
directing any supplies for the Wisconsin sufferers to any point south of 
Green Bay, which is on the southern border of the burnt region, and whose 
citizens, with one will, are doing all they can to alleviate the misfortunes of 
the unfortunates. They are a whole-soul people, who, without compensa- 
tion, are doing a grand work. All they need are the goods, and they will 
see that only the deserving get any thing. As an evidence of the good work 


they are doing, it will only be necessary to say that the nohle-hearted ladies 
have already made preparations for the taking care of the one hundred and 
seventy-five children made orphans by the fire. This will save these chil- 
dren from being cuffed about in the cold and cruel world, and be the means 
of making them good, useful, and educated people. I hope that the char- 
itable every-where will assist these ladies in their commendable enterprise 
an undertaking of the noblest character. To-morrow I go over to the penin- and, if not too much occupied with other things, may write again. 

W. L. 

Another account says : 

"You can imagine a beautiful and thriving village, with its immense 
manufactories and busy life, now a waste of sand, deserted. The carcasses 
of fifty horses lay in regular rows as they had stood in their stalls, with 
scarcely a vestige of the building remaining. The people only had ten 
minutes' warning of the hurricane of fire, and no time to comprehend the 
situation. They rushed into the streets and started for the river, but were 
overtaken by the storm of fire, and fell in the middle of the streets. One 
man, carrying his wife, approached the river, but the blast drove him over 
some obstruction, and, falling, he was separated from her. He picked up a 
woman, supposing her to be his wife, carried her into the river and saved 
her. It proved to be another man's wife and his own was lost. One- man 
was sick with the typhoid fever; a young man stopping with him took the 
sick man out back of the house and buried him in the sand. He was saved, 
and is fapidly gaining his health. 

The half has not been told ; the whole will never be known. The loss of 
life increases every hour. On Friday last twenty-six dead bodies were found 
in the woods, and, on Saturday, thirty-six. The woods and fields are liter- 
ally full of dead bodies, and many were burned entirely up. We found 
some teeth, a jack-knife and a slate pencil. It must have been all that re- 
mained of a promising Ixiy. Truly in this case the darkness preceded the 
light. On Sunday night, October 9th, just after the churches were closed, 
for half an hour there reigned the stillness of death. The smoke settled 
down so thickly that the darkness, like Egyptian, could be felt. Then came 
light gnats of wind, and in the south wad seen, through the smoke and dark- 
ness, faint glimmers of light. The earth trembled, and the roar of the ap- 
proaching tornado, and the shock of the falling trees broke the awful still- 
ness. No one could realize the approaching danger, when, in almost a 
moment, the holocaust was upon them. The fire, in its maddening rage, 
could not keep pace with the wind, and trees, and houses, and men were 
blown down that they might be more rapidly consumed. Men, women, and 
children rose again to rush like .specters through the flames, and fell separ- 


ated from each other. In this terrible moment men thought the final day 
had come when the earth should be burnt, and they bowed themselves to 
offer their last prayer. More might have been saved if this conviction hud 
not seized them. 

The drouth and tornado which brought disaster to Chicago brought this 
also. These forest fires prevailed the most destructively in Door, Kewan- 
nee, and Oconto counties, Wisconsin, nearly all of which were so completely 
devastated as to leave no vestige of property remaining to its owners except 
the bare land. In open fields the destruction was more complete than in the 
Pine forests, where the trunks of green trees are still standing, though nearly 
worthless. In each of a dozen or more townships from twenty to eighty 
dead bodies were found. Only those who had time and presence of mind 
enough to escape to a freshly plowed area escaped a fiery death. The fatali- 
ties were increased greatly by the suddenness with which the tornado of fire 
swept upon them, and the impression which it made on a majority of the 
people that the day of judgment had arrived, from which there was no es- 
cape. The loss of life in Wisconsin is estimated at one thousand. On the 
east shore of Lake Michigan the City of Manista and Town of Holland were 
almost entirely destroyed. The same fires prevailed throughout all the 
pine country bordering on Lake Michigan, Green Bay, and the southern 
shore of Lake Huron. Governor Baldwin, of Michigan, estimates that at 
least 15,000 people in his state lost homes, clothing, crops, farm stock, and 
all their provisions by the fire. The devastation in Wisconsin was still 
greater. Very extensive and disastrous prairie fires occurred in Western 
and Central Minnesota, just before these calamities set in, thus making the 
first fortnight of October, A. D. 1871, a period wholly without a parallel in 
the history of the world for the extent of the fiery devastations which it wit- 

It should be added that a goodly portion of the world's charity, which 
would otherwise have been bestowed upon Chicago, went to relieve the equal 
or greater distress in these country places, and it poured in so bountifully on 
all that the Governor of Wisconsin issued a proclamation, early .in Novem- 
ber, addressed to the charitable every-where, the purport of which was, 
" Enough 1" 



(Issued early on Monday, 9th.) 

WHEREAS, in the Providence of God, to whose will we humbly submit, a 
terrible calamity has befallen our city, which demands of us our best efforts 
for the preservation of order, and the relief of the suffering ; 

BE IT KNOWN that the faith and credit of the city of Chicago is hereby 
pledged for the necessary expenses for the relief of the suffering. Public 
order will be preserved. The Police and Special Police now being appointed, 
will be responsible for the maintenance of the peace and the protection of 
property. All officers and men of the Fire Department and Health Depart- 
ment will act as Special Policemen without further notice. The Mayor and 
Comptroller will give vouchers for all supplies furnished by the different 
Relief Committees. The head-quarters of the City Government will be at 
the Congregational Church, corner of West Washington and Ann Sts. All 
persons are warned against any acts tending to endanger property. All per- 
sons caught in any depredation will be immediately arrested. 

With the help of God, order and peace and private property shall be pre- 
served. The City Government and committees of citizens pledge themselves 
to the community to protect them, and prepare the way for a restoration of 
public and private welfare. 

It is believed the fire has spent its force, and all will soon be well. 

R B. MASON, Mayor. 
GEO. TAYLOR, Comptroller. 

('HAS. C. P. HOLDEN, President Common Council. 
T. B. BROWN, President Board of Police. 
CHICAGO, October 9th, 1871. 





CHICAGO, October 10, 1871. 

The following Ordinance was passed at a meeting of the Common Council 
of the City of Chicago, on the 10th day of October, A. D. 1871 : 

An Ordinance. 

Be it ordained by the Common Council of the City of Chicago : 
SECTION 1. That the Price of Bread in the City of Chicago for the next 
10 days is hereby fixed and established at Eight (8) Cents per Loaf of 12 
ounces, and at the same rate for all Loaves of less or greater weight. 

SECTION 2. Any person selling or attempting to sell any bread within the 
City of Chicago, within said 10 days, at a greater price than is fixed in this 
Ordinance, shall be liable to a penalty of ten (10) dollars for each and every 
offense, to be collected as other penalties for violation of City Ordinances. 

SECTION 3. This Ordinance shall be in full force and effect from and after 
its passage. 

Approved October IQth, 1871. 

Attest : B. B. MASON, Mayor. 

N. [C. T.] HOTCHKISS, Oity Clerk. 


1. All citizens are requested to exercise great caution in the use of fire in 
their dwellings, and not to use kerosene lights at present, as the city will be 
without a full supply of water for probably two or three days. 

2. The following bridges are passable, to-wit : All bridges (except Van 
Buren and Adams Streets) from Lake Street south, and all bridges over the 
North Branch of the Chicago River. 

3. All good citizens who are willing to serve are requested to report at the 
corner of Ann and Washington Streets, to be sworn in as special policemen. 

Citizens are requested to organize a police for each clock in the city, and 
to send reports of such organization to the police head-quarters, corner of 
Union and West Madison Streets. 

All persons needing food will be relieved by applying at the following 

At the corner of Ann and Washington; Illinois Central Eailroad round- 

M. S. B. B. Twenty-second Street Station. 

C. B. & Q. B. B. Canal Street Depot. 

St. L. & A. B. B. Near Sixteenth Street. 

C. & N. W. B. E. Corner of Kinzie and Canal Streets. 

All the public school-houses, and at nearly all the churches. 


4. Citizens are requested to avoid passing through the burnt districts un- 
til the dangerous walls left standing can be leveled. 

5. All silicons are ordered to be closed by 8 P. M. every day for one week, 
under a penalty of forfeiture of license. 

6 The Common Council have this day, by ordinance, fixed the price of 
bread at eight (8) cents per loaf of 12 ounces, and at the same rate for loaves 
of a greater or less weight, and affixed a penalty of ten dollars for selling or 
attempting to sell, bread at a greater rate within the next ten days. 

7. Any hackman, expressman, drayman, or teamster charging more than 
the regular fees, will have his license revoked. 

8. All citizens are requested to aid in preserving the peace, good order, 
and good name of our city. 

B. B. MASON, Mayor. 
October 10, 1871. 


[The following is not dated. It appeared upon the 10th of October.] 
Let us Organize for Safety in Chicago. 

1. The Mayor's headquarters will be at the corner of Ann and Washing- 
ton Streets. 

2. Police headquarters at the corner of Union and Madison Streets. 

3. Every special policeman will be subject to the orders of the sergeant 
for the district in which he performs duty. The sergeants of districts will be 
appointed by the police superintendent. 

4. Five hundred citizens for each of the districts will be sworn in as special 

5. The sergeant of each district will procure from police headquarters 
rations and supplies for special policemen in his district. 

6. Orders to the police will be issued by the superintendent of police. 

7. The military will co-operate with the police organization and the city 
government in the preservation of order. 

8. The military are invested with full police power, and will be respected 
and obeyed in their efforts to preserve order. 

Health department corner of Ann and Washington. 

K. B. MASON, Mayor. 

[The above are here printed from the original fly sheets, having been 
issued before the journals got under way again. ED.] 




1. All supplies of provisions will be received and distributed by the 
Special Relief Committee, of which O. E. Moore is Chairman and C. G. 
Hotchkiss Secretary. Headquarters of committee on Ann and West Wash- 
ington Streets. 

2. All contributions of money will be delivered to the City Treasurer, 
David A. Gage, who will receipt and keep the same as a Special Relief 

3. All moneys deposited at other places for the relief of the city will be 
drawn for only by the mayor of this city. 

4. No moneys will be paid out of the Special Relief Fund except upon 
the order of the Auditing Committee. 

George Taylor, City Comptroller, Mancell Tallcott, Esq., of the West 
Division, and Brock McVicker, of Ihe South Divison, are hereby appointed 
Biich Auditing Committee. 

5. Railroad passes from the city will be issued under direction of the Relief 
Committee, corner of Ann and West Washington Streets, until further orders. 

Given under my hand this Jlth day of October, 1871. 

R. B. MASON, Mayor. 


From and after the 12th day of October, 1871, the Mayor's Office, City 
Comptroller's, City Treasurer's, and other City Offices, will be at the corner 
of Hubbard Court and Wabash Avenue. 

The Department of the Board of Public Works and other departments of 
the City Government will be located in the immediate vicinity of the other 
city offices. 

Given under my hand this llth day of October, 1871. 

Attest : R. B. MASON, Mayor. 

C. T. HOTCHKISS, OUy Clerk. 


The preservation of the good order and peace of the city is hereby in- 
trusted to Lieutenant-General Philip H. Sheridan, United States Army. 

The police will act in conjunction with the lieutenant-general in the pres- 
ervation of the peace and quiet of the city, and the superintendent of the 
police will consult with him to that end. The intent being to ^preserve the 
peace of the city without interfering with the functions of the city govern- 

Given under my seal this October 11, A. D. 1871. 

R. B. MASON, Mayor, 


Ordered by the full Board of Police that all powers granted to special 
police since Sunday, October 8th, be and hereby are revoked. 

The large military force now iu the city, under the command of Lieuten- 
ant-General Sheridan, co-operating with the regular police organization, is 
now deemed sufficient to maintain good and quietude for the future. 

T. B. BROWN, "\ 
F. GUND, > Commissioners. 



a MII-. Div. 
CHICAGO, October 12, 1871. 


To Hit Honor the Mayor : 

The preservation of peace and good order of the city having been intrusted 
to me by Your Honor, I am happy to state that no case of outbreak or dis- 
order has been reported. No authenticated attempt at incendiarism has 
reached me, and that the people of the city are calm, quiet, and well dis- 

The force at my disposal is ample to maintain order, should it be neces- 
sary, and protect the district devastated by fire. Still, I would suggest to 
citizens not to relax in their watchfulness until the smoldering fires of the 
burnt buildings are entirely extinguished. 

P. H. SHERIDAN, Lieutenant-GeneraL 


CHICAGO, October 17, 1871. / 

To His Honor Mayor Maton, Chicago, IU. : 

I respectfully report to Your Honor the continued peace and quiet of the 
city. There has been no case of violence since the disaster of Sunday night 
and Monday morning. 

The reports in the public press of violence and disorder here are without 
the slightest foundation. There has not been a single case of arson, hang- 
ing, or shooting not even a case of riot or a street fight. I have seen no 
reason for the circulation of such reports. 

It gives me pleasure to bring to the notice of Your Honor the cheerful 
spirit with which the population of this city have met their losses and suf- 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

P. H. SHERIDAN, Lieutenant- General. 



To the Heads of all Departments of the City Government : 

The late fire has, of necessity, caused the suspension of public improve- 
ments, and of much work heretofore done in various departments of the city 
government. It therefore becomes necessary to discharge all employes of 
the city government whose services are not absolutely required. I respect- 
fully request that you, in your several departments, immediately give notice 
of discharge to all such, with a view to the most rigid economy which must 
now be observed in all departments. 

E. B. MASON, Mayor. 

[Not dated. Issued the 19th.] 


In view of the recent appalling ^public calamity, the undersigned, Mayor 
of Chicago, hereby earnestly recommends that all the inhabitants of this city 
do observe Sunday, October 29, as a special day of humiliation and prayer ; 
of humiliation for those past offenses against Almighty God, to which these 
severe afflictions were doubtless intended to lead our minds ; of prayer for 
the relief and comfort of the suffering thousands in our midst ; for the res- 
toration of our material prosperity, especially for our lasting improvement 
as a people in reverence and obedience to God. Nor should we even, amidst 
our losses and sorrows, forget to render thanks to Him for the arrest of the 
devouring fires in time to save so many homes, and for the unexampled 
sympathy and aid which has flowed in upon us from every quarter of our 
land, and even from beyond the seas. 

Given under my hand this 20th day of October, 1871. 

K. B. MASON, Mayor. 

The Mayor to General Sheridan. 

Lieutenant- General P. H. Sheridan, U. S. A.: 

Permit me to tender you the thanks of the city of Chicago and its whole 
people for the very efficient aid which you have rendered, in protecting the 
lives and property of the citizens, and in the preservation of the general 
peace and good order of the community. I would like your opinion as to 
whether there is any longer a necessity for the continued aid of the military 

in that behalf. Very respectfully, 

B. B. MASON, Mayor. 
CHICAGO, Oct. 22. 


General Sheridan to the Mayor. 

CHICAGO, 111., Oct. 23. 
To His Honor, R. B. Mason, Mayor of Chicago : 

SIR : I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your kind note of the 
date of yesterday, and in reply I beg leave to report a good condition of 
affairs in the city. If Your Honor deem it best, I will disband the volun- 
teer organization of military on duty since the fire, and will consider myself 
relieved from the responsibility of your proclamation of the llth instant. 
With my sincere thanks for your kindness and courtesy in my intercourse 
with you, I am respectfully your obedient servant, 

P. H. SHERIDAN, Lieutenant- General. 

The Mayor to General Sheridan. 

lAeutenant-General P. H. Sheridan, U. S. A. : 

Upon consultation with the Board of Police Commissioners, I am satisfied 
that the continuance of the efficient aid in the preservation of order in this city 
which has been rendered by the forces under your command in pursuance 
of my proclamation is no longer required. I will therefore fix the hour of 
6 P. M. of this day as the hour at which the aid requested of you shall cease. 
Allow me again to tender you the assurance of my high appreciation of the 
great and efficient service which you have rendered in the preservation of 
order and the protection of property in this city, and to again thank you in 
the name of the city of Chicago and its citizens therefor. I am respectfully 
yours, K. B. MASON, Mayor. 

CHICAGO, Oct. 23. 

Orders of Disbandment. 

CHICAGO, 111., Oct. 24, 1871. / 
Special Orders No. 76. 

1. The companies of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth, and Sixteenth 
United States Infantry, on duty in this city, are hereby relieved, and will 
proceed to their respective stations as follows : 

Companies F, H, and K, of the Fourth, and E, of the Sixteenth, to Louia- 
ville, Ky. 

Companies A, H, and K, of the Fifth, to Fort Leavenworth. 

Company I, of the Sixth, to Fort Hays. 

Companies A and K, of the Ninth, to Omaha. 

The Quartermaster's Department will furnish the necessary transportation. 

By command of Lieutenant-General Sheridan. 

Official : JAMES B. FRY, A. A. 0. 

M. V. SHERIDAN, LL Col. A. D. C. 


5RS M: 
CHICAGO, 111., Oct. 24, 1871. 


General Orders No. 5. 

The First Kegiment Chicago Volunteers, raised with the approbation of 
the Mayor, and in pursuance of orders dated October 11, 1871, from these 
headquarters, is hereby honorably mustered out of service and discharged. 
.... These troops were suddenly called from civil pursuits 
to aid Lieutenant-General Sheridan in preserving peace and good order, and 
in protecting the property in the unburnt portion of the city, a duty in- 
trusted to him during the emergency resulting from the late fire. They came 
forward promptly and cheerfully at a time rendered critical* by the un- 
paralleled disaster which visited the city on the 8th and 9th insts., a calamity 
producing general distrust and distress, leaving a large part of the city in 
smoldering ruins, a large part in darkness by the destruction of the gas-works, 
and the whole of it without water ; and this with a fire department crippled 
and exhausted by the struggle it had gone through. They have performed 
the arduous and delicate duties falling to them under these circumstances 
with marked industry, fidelity, and intelligence. The Lietenant-General 
thanks officers and men of the command for the services rendered, and com- 
mends them to the kind consideration of their fellow-citizens ; and he makes 
special acknowledgment of the valuable aid received from their commander, 
General Frank T. Sherman distinguished upon the battle-fields of the late 
war as well as from his efficient staff, Major C. H. Dyer, Adjutant, and 
Major Charles T. Scammon, Aide-de-camp. 

By command of Lieutenant-General Sheridan. 

JAMES B. FRY, Assistant Adjutant-General. 


CHICAGO, October 25, 1871. / 

To the Adjutant General of the Army, Washington D. C. : 

SIR : The disorganized condition of affairs in this city, produced by and 
immediately following the late fire, induced the city authorities to ask for as- 
sistance from the military forces, as shown by the Mayor's proclamation of 
October 11, 1871. [Copy herewith, marked A.] To protect the public inter- 
ests intrusted to me by the Mayor's proclamation, I called to this city com- 
panies A and K of the Ninth Infantry, from Omaha ; companies A, H and K 
of the Fifth Infantry, from Fort Leavenworth ; company I, Sixth Infantry, 
from Fort Scott, and accepted the kind offer of Major-General Halleck to 
send to me companies F, H and K of the Fourth, and company E of the 
Sixteenth Infantry, from Kentucky. I also, with the approbation of the 

APPENDIX. % 503 

Mayor, called into the service of the city of Chicago, a regiment of volun- 
teers for twenty days. [Copy of this call inclosed herewith, marked B.] 
These troops, both regulars and volunteers, were actively engaged during 
their service here in protecting the treasure in the burnt district, guarding 
the unburnt district from disorders and danger by further fires, and in pro- 
tecting the store-houses, depots, and sub-depots of supplies established for the 
relief of the sufferers from the fire. These duties were terminated on tlie 
23d inst., as shown by letters herewith [marked C, D, and E], and on the 24th 
inst. the regulars started to their respective stations, and the volunteers were 
discharged, as shown by special order No. 76, and general order No. 5, from 
these headquarters. [Copies Herewith.] It is proper to mention that these 
volunteers were not taken into the service of the United States, and no orders, 
agreements, or promises were made giving them any claims against the 
United States for services rendered. 

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

Lieutenant-General United States Army, Commanding. 


General Sherman submitted the foregoing report to the Secretary of War, 
with the following emphatic endorsement : 

The extraordinary circumstances attending the great fire in Chicago made 
it eminently proper that General Sheridan should exercise the influence, 
authority, and power he did on the universal appeal of a ruined and dis- 
tressed people, backed by their civil agents, who were powerless for good. 
The very moment that the civil authorities felt able to resume their functions 
General Sheridan ceased to exercise authority, and the United States troops 
returned to their respective stations. General Sheridan's course is fully ap- 
proved. W. T. SHERMAN, General. 




John M. Palmer, Governor of Illinois, To all whom these presents shall come, 


Whereas, .in my judgment, the great calamity that has overtaken Chicago, 
the largest city of the State; that has deprived many thousands of our citizens 
of homes and rendered them destitute ; that has destroyed many millions in 
value of property, and thereby disturbing the business of the people and 

504 . APPENDIX. 

deranging the finances of the State, and interrupting the execution of the 
laws, is and constitutes" an extraordinary occasion" within the true intent 
and meaning of the eighth section of the fifth article of the Constitution. 

Now, therefore, I, John M. Palmer, Governor of the State of Illinoi, do 
by this, my proclamation, convene and invite the two Houses of the General 
Assembly in session in the city of Springfield, on Friday, the 13th day of the 
month of October, in the year of our Lord 1871, at 12 o'clock noon of said 
day, to take into consideration the following subjects: 

1. To appropriate such sum or sums of money, or adopt such other legisla- 
tive measures as may be thought judicious, necessary, or proper, for the re- 
lief of the people of the city of Chicago. 

2. To make provision, by amending the revenue laws or otherwise, for the 
proper and just assessment and collection of taxes within the city of Chicago. 

3. To enact such other laws and to adopt such other measures as may be 
necessary for the relief of the city of Chicago and die people of said city, and 
for the execution and enforcement of the laws of the State. 

4. To make appropriations for the expenses of the General Assembly, and 
euch other appropriations as may be necessary to carry on the State Govern- 

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the 
[SEAL.] great seal of the State to be affixed. Done at the city of Spring- 
field, this 10th day of October, A. D. 1871. 

By the Governor, 

EDWARD KUMMELL, Secretary of State. 


To the People of Wisconsin : 

Throughout the northern part of this State fires have been raging in the 
woods for many days, spreading desolation on every side. It is reported that 
hundreds of families have been rendered homeless by this devouring element, 
and reduced to utter destitution, their entire crops having been consumed. 
Their stock has been destroyed, and their farms are but a blackened desert. 
Unless they receive instant aid from portions not visited by this dreadful ca- 
lamity, they must perish. 

The telegraph also brings the terrible news that a large portion of the city 
of Chicago is destroyed by a conflagration, which is still raging. Many 
thousands of people are thus reduced to penury, stripped of their all, and are 
now destitute of shelter and food. Their sufferings will be intense, and many 
may perish unless provisions are at once sent to them from the surrounding 
country. They must be assisted now. 


In the awful presence of such calamities the people of Wisconsin will not 
be backward in giving assistance to their afflicted fellow-men. 

I, therefore, recommend that immediate organized effort be made in every 
locality to forward provisions and money to the sufferers by this visitation, 
and suggest to Mayors of cities, Presidents of villages, Town Supervisors, 
Pastors of Churches, and to the various benevolent societies, that they devote 
themselves immediately to the work of organizing effort, collecting contribu- 
tions, and sending forward supplies for distribution. 

And I entreat all to give their abundance to help those in such sore dis- 

Given under my hand, at the Capitol, at Madison, this 9th day of October, 
A. D. 1871. Lucius FAIRCHILD. 


LANSING, October 9th. / 

The city of Chicago, in the neighboring State of Illinois, has been visited, 
in the providence of Almighty God, with a calamity almost unequaled in 
the annals of history. A large portion of that beautiful and most prosperous 
city has been reduced to ashes and is now in ruins. Many millions of dollars 
in property, the accumulation of years of industry and toil, have been swept 
away in a moment. The rich have been reduced to penury, the poor have 
lost the little they possessed, and many thousands of people rendered home- 
less and houseless, and are now without the absolute necessaries of life. I, 
therefore, earnestly call upon the citizens of every portion of Michigan to 
take immediate measures for alleviating the pressing wants of that fearfully 
afflicted city by collecting and forwarding to the Mayor or proper authorities 
of Chicago supplies of food as well as liberal collections of money. Let this 
gore calamity of our neighbors remind us of the uncertainty of earthly pos- 
sessions, and that when one member suffers all the members should suf- 
fer with it. I can not doubt that the whole people of the State will most 
gladly, and most promptly, and most liberally respond to this urgent demand 
upon their sympathy, but no words of mine can plead so strongly as the ca- 
lamitv itself. HENRY P. BALDWIN. 

Governor of Michigan, 


JEFFERSON CITY, October 9, 1871. 
To the People of 3/issouri: 

A calamity unparalleled in the history of our country has befallen the 
great city of our sister State. Half of the houses of the people of Chicago 


are in ashes, and all of its business portion is destroyed. Every bank, rail- 
road depot, insurance office, newspaper establishment, every wholesale house, 
all its accumulated products and food supply, and nearly every trade appli- 
ance and the elevators are reported as utterly consumed. Such disaster will 
move the hearts of our citizens with the profoundest sympathy. Let us unite 
likewise in the most generous emulation, and extend the largest possible aid 
to them in this, the hour of misfortune. I, therefore, recommend all coun- 
ties, cities, towns, and other corporations, to all business and charitable asso- 
ciations, and to the community at large, to take immediate steps to organize 
relief committees to express the deep sorrow which Missouri feels at this 
overwhelming affliction. It was only yesterday that they were united with 
you in congratulating you on your own soil and in your own chief city, 
whilst their own homes were being destroyed. Let us respond by throwing 
open wide our own doors to those who are without shelter, by sending bread 
and raiment at once, and by such contributions ward off further distress, as 
the generous heart of our own great State will be proud to transmit, in recog- 
nition, too, of the warm and intimate feeling that has heretofore so closely 
bound our citizens together. I can not forbear to extend to all who have 
been thus stricken down in the midst of an unbounded prosperity the sincer- 
cst sympathy of Missouri's sons and daughters in their distress. 
Done at the City of Jefferson, this 9th day of October, A. D. 1871. 

B. GRATZ RhowN, Governor of Missouri, 


To the People of Iowa: 

An appalling calamity has befallen our sister State. Her metropolis, the 
great city of Chicago, is in ruins. Over 100,000 people are without shelter 
or food, except as supplied by others. A helping hand let us now promptly 
give. Let the liberality of our people, so lavishly displayed during the long 
period of national peril, come again to the front, to lend succor in this hour 
of distress. I would urge the appointment at once of relief committees in 
every city, town, and township, and I respectfully ask the local authorities 
to call meetings of the citizens to devise ways and means to render efficient 
aid. I would also ask the pastors of the various churches throughout the 
State to take up collections on Sunday morning next, or at such other time as 
they may deem proper, for the relief of the sufferers. Let us not be satisfied 
with any spasmodic effort. There will be need of relief of a substantial 
character to aid the many thousands to prepare for the rigors of the coming 
winter. The magnificent public charities of that city, now paralyzed, can do 
little to this end. Those who live in homes of comfort and plenty must 


furnish this help, or misery and suffering will be the fate of many thousands 
of our neighbors. 



DBS MOINES, October 10, 1871. 


CHICAGO, October 12th. 
To the People of Ohio: 

It is believed by the best informed citizens here that many thousands of 
the sufferers must be provided with the necessaries of life during the cold 
winter. Let the efforts to raise contributions be energetically pushed. 
Money, fuel, flour, pork, clothing, and other articles not perishable, should 
be collected as rapidly as possible especially money, fuel, and flour. Mr. 
Joseph Medill, of The Tribune, estimates the number of those who will need 
assistance at about 70,000. 

B. B. HAYES, Governor of Ohio. 

[Governor Randolph, of New Jersey, and perhaps other Governors of 
States, issued a similar appeal to his people in behalf of the stricken city.] 


October 11, 1871. / 

To Hon. Samuel Hooper, Boston, Mass. : 

Would it not be well for the good people of Boston to dispense with the 
ceremony and expense of a public reception on the occasion of my visit to 
your city, and appropriate such portion of the fund set apart for that pur- 
pose, as is deemed advisable, for the relief of the sufferers by the Chicago 
disaster? I am sure such a course would please me. 



The news having been confirmed of the terrible conflagration by which a 
great portion of the city of Chicago has been reduced to ashes, acd one hun- 
dred thousand people have been stripped of their homes, clothing, and 
means of subsistence, therefore, 

I, Daniel U. Wells, Mayor of Salt Lake City, by the wish and authority 
of the City Council of said city, call upon all classes of the people to assem- 
ble in mass meeting, to-morrow, Wednesday, October llth, at 1 o'clock, P. M., 
at the Old Tabernacle, in this city, for the purpose of making subscription* 


and taking such measures as are demanded for the relief of our fellow-citi- 
zens who are sufferers by this dreadful visitation. 

DANIEL H. WELLS, Mayor of Salt Lake City. 
October 10, 1871. 


To the Worshipful Masters, Wardens, and Brethren of all Lodges of Free and 
Accepted Masons in the State of New YorK : 

Brethren, a calamity, one of the most appalling either of ancient or mod- 
ern times, has befallen one of the fairest and hitherto most prosperous cities of 
our Union. Within a brief space of time the devastating element has swept 
out of existence the public and private edifices of Chicago, destroying mill- 
ions of dollars' worth of property, and leaving homeless and penniless thou- 
sands of its people, among whom are many of our brethren and their fami- 
lies. The cry of distress and the prayer for relief, speedy and sufficient, 
reaches our ears ; our hearts should not be shut to the appeal, nor our hands 
be idle in extending aid. We should show that our ancient order is founded 
upon brotherly love, and that we are ever willing to extend relief to suffer- 
ing humanity. 

Therefore, I, John H. Anthon, Grand Master of Masons of the State of 
New York, desire to lay before the Masons of the State of New York the 
appeal of our suffering brethren in Chicago, and all the desolate and op- 
pressed of that afflicted city, in order that a fund may be raised for their 
immediate relief; and I do fraternally and most earnestly beseech my breth- 
ren to give toward this object as liberally as their means will allow. I suggest 
contributions in money, knowing that relief committees will be organized, 
and that such sums as may be raised will be disbursed by them in a proper 
and efficient manner. Contributions, sent in drafts on New York to the 
order of the Grand Master, at his office, No. 271 Broadway, will be by him 
forwarded to Chicago. 

Grand Master's Office, October 9, 1871. 


CHICAGO, October 9th, 
General Belknap, Secretary of War : 

The city of Chicage is almost utterly destroyed by fire. There is now no 
reasonable hope of arresting it, as the wind, which is yet blowing a gale, does 
not change. I ordered, on your authority, rations from St. Louis, tents from 


Jeffersonville, and two companies from Omaha. There will be many house= 
less people and much distress. 

(Signed) ' P. H. SHERIDAN, Lieutenant- General. 

CHICAGO, October 9<A. 
W. W. Belknap, Secretary of War: 

The fire here last night and to-day has destroyed almost all that was very 
valuable in this city. There is not a business house, bank, or hotel, left. 
Most of the best part of the city is gone. Without exaggeration, all the 
valuable portion of the city is in ruins. I think that not less than one hun- 
dred thousand persons are houseless, and those who have had the most 
wealth are now poor. It seems to me to be such a terrible misfortune that 
it may with propriety be considered a national calamity. 

(Signed) P. H. SHERIDAN, Lieutenant- General. 


WASHINGTON, October IQth. 
Lieutenant- General Sheridan, Chicago: 

I agree with you that the fire is a national calamity. The sufferers have 
the sincere sympathy of the nation. The officers at the depots at St. Louis, 
Jeffersonville, and elsewhere have been ordered to forward supplies liberally 
and promptly. 

(Signed) WILLIAM W. BELKNAP, Secretary of War. 

To the Mayor of Chicago : 

General Sheridan has been authorized to supply clothing, tools, and pro- 
visions from the depots at Jeffersonville and St. Louis to the extent and 
ability of the Department. 

(Signed) WILLIAM W. BELKNAP, Secretary of War. 





[From the New York World, October 11.] 

The appalling calamity which has so suddenly overtaken Chicago like a 
thief in the night, and which fills all imaginations with horror and all 
hearts with oppressive, agonizing pity, has, nevertheless, a hopeful side. It 
is not as if that great city and its inhabitants had been ingulfed by an earth- 
quake. The greater part of the people are spared, and although there will 
he much suffering for want of shelter, this will be but temporary, and con- 
tributions of food are already reaching them from sources of generous, com- 
miserating cities. None of these sufferers will die of starvation, and those 
of them who remain during the winter will have such protection from cold 
as can be given by tents and abundant clothing. By close overcrowding of 
the unconsumed dwellings in the city and suburbs, by the emigration of man- 
ufacturing laborers, by the placing of women and children with distant 
friends, or procuring them board in the country, it Avill not be necessary for 
any but the hardier class of laborers to pass the winter in tents. The stress 
of the suffering will not extend beyond the ensuing ten days, and will con- 
sist chiefly in exposure (especially if there should be cold, pelting rain 
storms), and in the desolating sense of the utter loss of property by people 
whom lives of toil had rendered comfortable. Many individuals are hope- 
lessly ruined, but a very few years will restore the city. 

The growth of Chicago, a city which has risen like an exhalation on the 
south-western shore of Lake Michigan, has been regarded by travelers and 
economists as one of the chief marvels of recent times. It is a phenomenon 


which never had a parallel, but which will be eclipsed and outdone by the 
more astonishing miracle of the reconstruction of the burnt city out of its 
ashes. Forty and two years was this city in building, and yet it will be re- 
constructed in three years. It will rise again from its ruins as if by magic, 
and the wonder of its original growth will be forgotten in the greater wonder 
of its sudden new creation. 

There is not the slightest danger of the transfer of her grain trade and her 
various business to other lake cities. At present the other lake cities have 
not facilities to accommodate it; their elevators, warehouses, mercantile 
establishments, banks, etc., being proportioned to the business they already 
possess. To transact in addition the business of Chicago, they would need 
an enormous increase of structures, accommodations, and capital. But these 
can be replaced in Chicago as quickly as they could be built at Milwaukee 
and other lake ports; and nobody will invest money for them elsewhere with 
the certainty that Chicago will be rebuilt as speedily as multitudes of busy 
hands can do the work. The lake commerce will always tend to one great 
center, and there is no other center which possesses such natural advantages 
as Chicago. These have been increased by costly artificial advantages which 
it has required thirty years of persistent industry to create. All the great 
railroad lines have been constructed with a view to Chicago as a starting 
point and a terminus. It might be easy to build a new town, if that were 
all ; but not easy to reconstruct the railroad system of the West with a new 
point of convergence. 

Chicago has still all the elements of a great city, except the mere build- 
ings. She has her river harbor, which has been dredged and enlarged, and 
her piers and breakwaters, which have been constructed at enormous expense. 
These can not be extemporized in any other place. She has her light-houses 
for the security of navigation. She has her expensive tunnel under Lake 
Michigan for supplying a city thrice her recent magnitude with pure water. 
She has her entensive system of sewerage, which, being under ground and 
constructed of incombustible materials, has not been consumed. She has the 
grading of her streets and the excavation of her cellars and vaults. She has 
the outlying vegetable gardens and milk dairies for supplying her tables. 
Her vast cattle-yards were untouched by the flames. The destruction of her 
great railroad depots will scarcely obstruct travel and traffic, as passengers 
can be received and landed, and freight taken and delivered, in the open air, 
until the depots are rebuilt. 

And what is, perhaps, the most important of all her remaining advantages 
and sources of resuscitation, Chicago has not lost her shrewd, enterprising, 
energetic, indomitable men of business. They can more easily re-establish 
themselves in Chicago than they can form new connections elsewhere. They 


will not break from their creditors in the East, nor from their customers 
in the West. The vast, magnificent North-west must still be supplied 
with goods, and they will continue to furnish the supply. New men in new 
cities have not their business acquaintances, and can not build stores and 
collect stocks as quickly as the Chicago merchants can build and renew 
them. Chicago will restore herself before competitors can come into the 


fFrom the New York Commercial Advertiser, October 14.] 
Chicago will recover, not by gradual steps, but with a bound. The calam- 
ity that befell her, appalling as it is, has only destroyed the results, not the 
causes of her prosperity. Chicago has still all the natural advantages that 
made her what she was. Her position in reference to the great chain of 
lakes, and the great grain-producing, stock-raising, and lumber regions of 
the North-west, with the network of railways connecting her with the 
Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Gulf, made Chicago a great commercial center, 
and must continue to make her so still. The ground on which the city 
stands, the lakes, the rivers, the fields, the prairies, the forest, and the rail- 
ways, which gave her greatness, are all there to give it to her again. Com- 
merce must continue to flow through its natural channels and through the 
artificial ones provided for it. It would be more difficult to stop or divert it 
now than it would be to build a dozen cities. Chicago grew, from four thou- 
sand people in 1840, to thirty thousand in 1850, then to a hundred thousand 
in 1860, and then to three hundred thousand in 1870. The channels that 
poured population and wealth into the great city of the West at this aston- 
ishing rate still exist, and there is no reason to doubt that they will produce 
the same result in the future as in the past. 

ST. Louis' OPINION. 
[From the St. Louis Republican, Oct. 13.] 

That Chicago will be rebuilt, and that with wonderful rapidity, is a truth 
too manifest to be denied. The necessities that led to the erection of a great 
city at the end of Lake Michigan, demand its reconstruction. The de- 
struction of that city creates an immense vacuum, and the first instinctive 
efforts of the great North-west will be directed to filling it. The vast traffic 
that was wont to flow into Chicago will, for a time, be turned aside from it, 
for want of accommodations, and Milwaukee and St. Louis will temporarily 
profit by this diversion ; Milwaukee and St. Louis merchants will be called 
on to do the business which Chicago merchants did ; the great Northwest, 
that sent its blood through the Lake City, is untouched, and possesses all its 


blood unimpaired. It needs only new channels and new reservoirs to supply 
those which have been destroyed ; and it will turn spontaneously to St. Louis 
and Milwaukee to find them. But Chicago was a necessity, and a great city 
on the site where it stood in a necessity now. Things in this country have 
not reached that decayed condition which makes wastes, desolations, and the 
permanent ruin of ancient splendor, possible. The very convergence of 
railroads at Chicago proves the need of a great city there, and tlls us 
the rebuilding of the one which we have seen destroyed will be witnessed. 
The noise of the ax, the hammer, and the saw will shortly be heard in the 
borders of the smitten city as it was never heard before; its palaces and 
temples will rise again from the seared and blackened earth, and in a few 
years the burnt district will be hidden by fair and stately buildings revealing 
no vestige of the great calamity. The sad feature in this bright picture of 
future glory and greatness is that the victims of the calamity will not largely 
participate in the enjoyment of it. The ruined great men of Chicago will 
have given place to others; those of them who have managed to save some- 
thing from the wreck of thejir fortunes will have these fragments to begin 
with again, and will thus be able to keep abreast with competitors in the new 
race about to commence ; but the capital to rebuild the city and to control 
its commerce must come from elsewhere, and be directed by other men ; and 
when the reconstruction shall have been completed, and a towering city 
reared on the site of the destroyed one, we shall find that the new city is in 
the hands of a new generation. 

It will be some years to come before Chicago can again be a center of 
opulence, luxury, and extravagance, but it will be a good place for an indus- 
trious man to go to, if he desires to find profitable employment, and to grow 
up with its growth. 

[From the Milwaukee News, October 16.] 

The year 1880, now less than nine years distant, will find Chicago with 
more than her late greatness, and with scarcely a scar of her present calam- 
ity remaining. Chicago was not an accident, nor the creature of specula- 
tion, nor a mushroom growth. It was brought into existence by the de- 
velopment and necessities of the great North-west, and at the time of its 
destruction no more than fairly represented that development and minis- 
tered to those necessities. It was forty years in its growth, just because 
the North-west was forty years in its growth. But it is now cut off, with all 
its growth, and all these necessities which created it remaining in active ex- 
istence. These necessities represent an omnipotent power. AH the difficul- 
ties you can cite are but flax in the fire or mist in the sun compared with 


the concentrated vigor which must inevitably and necessarily center on this 
spot for recuperation and reconstruction. Where there is a will there is a 
way ; and here there is a will which can not flag, because it proceeds from 
precisely the same causes which have already lifted the city from the prairie 
marsh, and which causes are not obliged to pass again through a forty years' 
growth, inasmuch as they ezist now in all the power and vigor pertaining to 
them before this destruction. 

Nine or ten years at farthest will witness the complete restoration of the 
city, but even this time may be shortened by an energetic grasping and wise 
application of the agencies which would hasten the result. 

Of one thing, let us disabuse ourselves, if we entertain such ideas that we 
can ever be permanently benefited by this disaster remaining without rem- 
edy. As well hope that one part of the human body can be benefited by an 
unhealed sore on another part. Individual fortunes have been swallowed up, 
and many of the sufferers will know no recuperation ; but the time is not dis- 
tant when Chicago, in greatness and wealth, will exceed her late condition. 


[From a New Orleans Paper.] 

Now that the first shock with which the Chicago calamity was received 
has passed away, we are enabled to estimate its magnitude more deliberately, 
and the hopeful promise which pierced the consuming flames of her speedy 
restoration seems to be now dying in the smoke of her smoldering embers. 
The magical growth and stupendous wealth of this great interior metropolis 
was, in the main, due to geographical, commercial, and other causes, which no 
longer exist in their original force. 

The center of a net-work of railroads, all immediately tributary, their 
gradual extension and multiplication, have since brought rivals into nearer 
competition, while the completion of the great national highway to the 
Pacific has materially lessened the importance of her location in trade chan- 

Despite the remarkable boldness and dash manifested by Chicago in her 
outward evidences of prosperity, maintained in great newspapers, marrelous 
hotels, magnificent buildings, and speedy fortunes acquired, it was all seen 
through a glamour of unsubstantiality. The rampant spirit of speculation 
haunted all her operations, and a gloss of dor6 covered all her enterprises. 
The growth of St. Louis, on the other hand, though slower, was more sure 
and solid. Although its buildings extended less rapidly, the value of real 
estate had advanced in a greater comparati ve proportion. Gradually the trade 
of Chicago was being diverted toward the nearer, the more accessible and 


larger market, and already several prominent Chicago business houses had 
Bought footing in the better field. This was the condition of affairs when 
the fire fiend came to sweep the Lake City with his besom of destruction, 
inflictixg a blow from which she will scarcely recover in the present genera- 

Already a large portion of her population has deserted; some, through 
the stress of poverty, have been driven to other localities, while no limited 
number of the more fortunate have seized upon the opportunity of trans- 
ferring their business to St. Louis. 

No doubt, the people of Chicago will struggle earnestly against their ad- 
verse fate, and that a new city will arise speedily from the ashes of the old 
one ; but it will never be the Carthage of old. Its prestige has passed away, 
like that of a man who turns the downward hill of life; its glory will be 
of the past, not the present ; while its hopes, once so bright and cloudless, 
will be to the end marred and blackened by the smoke of its fiery fate. 



[From the St. Panl Press, October 15.] 

This supreme tragedy, in which a hundred thousand human beings 
passed, in a single awful night, by one terrible stroke of Providence, from 
the extreme of human prosperity to the extreme of human misery, has 
melted the heart of Christendom as no other catastrophe of human woe has 
melted it within the memory of man. 

Such a calamity as this tests the quality of our civilization, and tho 
result proves, as all great calamities prove, that men every-where are 
better and nobler than they seem, and that under all the sordid selfishness 
of trade there pulses a fine and sweet humanity, and through all the coarse 
ties which bind together the material interests of States, and cities, and 
Tillages, there run sensitive electric nerves of fraternal love and sympathy 
which weave mankind together in a universal kinship. 

Such a magnificent outburst of human sympathy was never witnessed 
in this country as that which was evoked by the Chicago fire. The whole 
country leaped spontaneously to the rescue, and all its cities and villages 
rose up 00 if by a common impulse of generosity to relieve the victims of 


this sudden and overwhelming blow. Every telegraph line was subsidized 
to convey messages that instant relief was on the way, and thirty railroad 
lines were burdened the same day with the offerings of money, food, 
clothes, and other necessaries forwarded to the sufferers. Jn presence 
of this stupendous catastrophe, human nature rose to its most heroic and 
exalted mood, and never has it shone more brightly since the dark days of 
our civil war, than in the glare of the great Chicago conflagration. The 
aggregate contributions to the relief of the Chicago sufferers must already 
have reached millions. But the generosity of the sympathizing world is 
outdone by the heroism of the sufferers. So great a calamity was never so 
nobly endured. Thousands of men who have been toiling a lifetime for 
wealth or a competence, have seen the accumulations of years swept 
away in a single night, and yet, reduced to beggary, as they are, there is 
no despair not even despondency. The fire has conquered their houses, 
but not their hearts. Their warehouses are low in the dust, but their 
courage and their hopes are still as high as ever and the marvelous en- 
ergy which built Chicago is now already busy clearing away the ashes of 
its ruins to rebuild it, as if it was not much of a fire after all. 


[From the N. Y. Commercial Advertiser, October 20.] 

It is not one of the least effects of the Chicago disaster that it reaches 
deep strata in our social life, as well as in our moneyed circles. 

The bankruptcy of many companies in New York and Chicago has in- 
volved in heavy losses hundreds of private citizens, to whom insurance 
dividends gave a handsome and constant income, but now their stock is 
worth nothing. A case in point occurred in this city last week a young 
lady, inheriting a large fortune, not long ago, invested the bulk of it in 
insurance stocks, attracted by the largo profits of that method of invest- 
ment, but the ftvilnre of the companies since the Chicago disaster has 
reduced her to comparative poverty. Merchants in New York, Boston, 
and elsewhere, who had ventures in Chicago, safe in ordinary times, can 
now look for only partial payments, and in many cases must submit to 
total loss. Private capitalists, who had large resources a month since, and 
were eager to begin new enterprises, have been compelled, by this disaster, 
to alter their plans, and promising projects are set aside. Those who had 
money out on call have been forced to take it up, and the borrowers in all 
branches 'of business have come to grief accordingly. The sudden and 
serious blow to the business of the Stock Exchange has embarrassed a 
very large number, and all investments are less valuable now than they 
were when the month opened. And, to crown all, the terrible shaking up 
of the insurance companies in every part of the country has inspired a 
feeling of distrust in regard to the safety of the risks held upon property 


as yet untouched by fire. So it. is not in one or two circles alone that the 
Chicago blow is felt, but in every community in the Union a direct effect 
is visible. 

To the Editor of the N. Y. Journal of Commerce : 

I was well pleased with the remarks of Governor Bross, of Chicago, 
before the Chamber of Commerce; but there is one point which might well 
be added for the consideration of New York. 

It is this: New York can not afford to have Chicago ruined, or seriously 
injured. Some one well remarked that New York and Chicago were 
members of a firm, and it would not do to have the junior member ruined. 
It might well be said that the two cities are like the Siamese twins when 
one is sick the other is sick also, so intimately are the interests of the two 

What Cincinnati is to Baltimore, Chicago is to New York. Blot out 
Chicago, and the trade she now has would be divided between St. Louis, 
Cincinnati, and Milwaukee. That part of it which St. Louis got would go 
largely to New Orleans and Baltimore. The part which Cincinnati got 
would largely go to Baltimore also, while the part which fell to the lot of 
Milwaukee would be divided between New York and Boston. 

It will readily be seen from the foregoing that the most serious blow 
which New York could receive would be the destruction of Chicago. 

I am speaking more particularly of grocery goods, such as sugar, cof- 
fee, etc. A careful estimate, based upon established facts, shows us that 
Chicago bought last year nine hundred thousand (900,000) barrels of 
sugar, or an average of three thousand (3000) barrels daily for every work- 
ing day in the year. I have not the data for the amount of coffee bought, 
but it was as large in proportion. 

Already.a large part of that trade has been diverted to Baltimore and 
Boston, and with the ruin of Chicago, they, with New Orleans, would get 
the lion's share of it. New York is doing nobly in giving to the sufferers, 
but she must do something to keep up the credit of the junior partner, or 
tbejirm of New York and Chicago will suffer badly. 


[From the New York Time*, October, 23.] 

When the great fire in London occurred, we can not doubt that public 
joy was expressed in Holland and Spain. The calamity of one great 
power was then thought the gain of all others. Now, political economy has 
taught, and religion sanctions the axiom, that the losses of one nation 
are the misfortune of all. Chicago herself feels this great generosity and 


sympathy of the world fur more even than the money contributions, rich 
as those are. They seem to have given her new life and hope in her hard 
struggle. Now, too, for the first time, men have appreciated the precious 
value of that best feature in America a pure family life. In the utter 
beggary of all worldly goods, with years of penury and sacrifice opening 
before them, and all their hard-earned wealth suddenly turned to ashes, 
they have found a new treasure in the love of wife and child, which has 
shone brighter and purer the more utter and crushing the calamity. We 
hear of one wealthy merchant stripped of every thing, who sends his 
children away to his relatives, while his wife becomes his book-keeper, and 
they start in life anew in a single room. But the innumerable instances of 
woman's generosity and sympathy in this hour of man's misfortune, will 
never be known except on the records of heaven. 

It can not but be, also, that a profound moral lesson will reach both the 
West and the whole country from this tremendous calamity. The two 
cities which will suffer from it most have been the centers of national 
gambling and the wildest speculation. New York and Chicago have the 
evil reputation of containing the most insane and untiring hunters for 
wealth, the most unscrupulous speculators in grain and stocks, and the 
most extravagant spendthrifts of wealth suddenly made, who have ever 
been known under modern civilization. This awful misfortune suddenly 
falling on these classes, must touch those sentiments which are never 
utterly dried up in the human breast the desire for other goods than the 
things seen and temporal, and the sense of the nothingness of all worldly 
wealth, compared with the riches unseen and eternal. 


[From the St. Louis Democrat, October 21.] 

That the annihilation of hundreds of millions of wealth in one city can 
absolutely benefit another city, is impossible. Wealth, in its broadest 
meaning, is the material for supplying human needs, and is the product 
of human toil. Its exchangeable character imparts to it a fluid nature, so 
that every important increase of it in one place is sooner or later an actual 
increase in other places, and every material diminution of it in one locality 
is sooner or later an actual diminution of it in others. If ten thousand 
houses are destroyed, all their occupants are not only made houseless, but 
temporarily cease to be producers, buyers, and consumers, to the extent 
that they were, and a blow is given to universal trade. As far as they 
can rebuild, so far the prices of materials and labor are raised, and so far 
the loss falls upon all who need such materials or labor. If active in- 
dustries are paralyzed, so much production is withdrawn from the total 
production, and every consumer ultimately suffers. This line of thought 
may be continued indefinitely, and will show that not even St. Louis, the 



rival of Chicago, can Le actually benefited by the prostration of the latter. 
In a thousand unimaginable ways this disaster will act and react, directly 
and indirectly, upon the essential thrift of some three hundred and forty 
thousand people of our city, and if it brings more money into some men's 
coffers, it will at last tike still more money from the pockets of the masses. 
It is a blow to this whole agricultural region, and through it to the cities 
which that region sustains. That business will seek a level, like water, is an 
old and true adage. Subtract vastly from capital in one locality by send- 
ing it up in flames and smoke to the atmosphere, and the main level is 
lowered, and the prime sources of metropolitan growth every-where are 
reduced. Were it possible for any human being worthy of the name to 
exult in the ruin of a great city, this consideration alone, had he intelli- 
gence enough to pursue it, would prevent such a sentiment 


[From the London Times, October 11.] 

When Mr. Cobden complained that English schoolboys were taught all 
about a trumpery Attic stream called the llissus, but nothing of Chicago, 
it should have been remembered in fairness that at that time Chicago had 
hardly existed long enough to be known by any but merchants. It will 
now not soon be forgotten. We may be confident, however, that the 
natural resources of the place, and the native energy of the Americans, 
will more than repeat the marvels of the original development of the city. 
The novelty and rapid growth of American civilization render the people 
far more indifferent to such calamities than dwellers in older countries 
who are conscious that their possessions are the accumulation of centuries. 
At the same time with the news of the fire the telegraph informed us that 
its mercantile effects were already being discounted in New York, and we 
have no doubt there are numbers <jf enterprising speculators who see their 
way to fortune through the speedy reconstruction of the city. The most 
cordial sympathy will be felt in this country with individual sufferers, and 
we can only wish the great mercantile community of the West the prompt 
recovery which their energy deserves. 


[From the London Telegraph, October 11.] 

It is idle to suppose that such a city is destined to become a Tadmor 
in the wilderness, or to sink into the chronic decadence of Sebastopol 
after the bombardment "Resurgam" might be written upon every brick 
of the burnt-up houses of Chicago. It will rise again, and with a venge- 
ai.ce. Luckily no venerable cathedrals, no historic palaces, no monu- 
ments of art, no hoary relics of antiquity have perished in the colossal 
fire. Chicago has blazed away with the rapidity of lace curtains, or of 


"ornaments" in a drawing-room grate. The articles were handsome and 
expensive, but they can be replaced. To repair the injury done, all that 
is wanted is a certain amount of resources, energy, and pluck; and in pluck, 
energy, and resources the American people will never be bankrupt. 

A swift steamer, laden with warm clothing and body linen, for both 
sexes and for all ages, would be the immediate testimony of our recogni- 
tion that blood is thicker than water, and that, when Americans are in 
distress, we have not forgotten our common parentage. 


[From the London News, October 11.] 

Nowhere in the world not in Manchester, not in London, not in New 
York were busier streets to be found. A river, hardly better than the 
Irwell, flowing through part of the business quarter of the city, and 
spanned by innumerable drawbridges, did, indeed, make hideous some of 
the city scenes, which showed like an uproarious Rotterdam or a great 
commercial Konigsberg. But the streets of shops and banks and theaters 
and hotels might stand a rivalry with those of any city in the world. 
Enormous piles of warehouses, with handsome and costly fronts; huge 
"stores," compared with which Schoolbred s or Tarn's seem diminutive; 
hotels as large as the Langham or the Louvre; bookshops which are 
unsurpassed in London or Paris; and theaters where Christine Nilsson 
found a fortune awaiting her such as the Old World could not offer such 
were the principal features of that wonderful quarter which has just been 
reduced to ashes. Nor was Chicago wholly given up to business. Her 
avenues of private residences were some, we trust, still are as beautiful 
as any city can show. Michigan Avenue and Wabash Avenue were the 
streets where her merchant princes lived ; and there is nothing to be seen 
in Paris, London, or New York to surpass either avenue in situation or in 
beauty. Michigan Avenue is a sort of Piccadilly, with a lake instead of a 
park under its drawing-room windows. The other great avenue was dis- 
tinguished from almost any street of the kind in Europe or the United 
States by the variety of its architecture. Mr. Ruskin himself might have 
acknowledged that in this civilized and modern street, at least, the curse 
of monotony did not prevail, and the yoke of the' Italian style was not 
accepted. Let it be added that Chicago, having the advantage of newness, 
and the warning of all the world before her, had but few narrow streets 
and lanes. The thoroughfares were, as a rule, nearly all of the same 
width. The inexperienced traveler often found himself sadly perplexed 
as he wandered through a city of broad white streets, each looking just 
like another, and any one seeming as well entitled as its neighbor to claim 
the leadership in business or fashion. 

Chicago will not remain in her ruins as an ancient city might have 


done. Already in the thick of all the wreck nnd misery we may be sure 
that active and undaunted minds are planning the reconstruction of many 
a gutted and blackened building, the restoration of many shattered for- 
tunes. It is only a few years since the city of Portland, in Maine, was 
destroyed by fire; and the traveler to-day sees there, a new, busy, and 
solid town, where the story of the conflagration has already become a 
tradition. The people of Illinois are still more energetic and fertile of 
expedient than the people of Maine, and they will not long leave the city, 
which was their pride, to lie in her smoldering ruins. The claims which 
Chicago used at one time to urge for the transference of the National 
Capital to the shore of her lake, are, indeed, put out of court for the pres- 
ent; and her rival, St Louis, will, for some time to come, have the 
advantage of her in the race for commerce, wealth, and population. But 
the city whose rate of growth distanced that of any other on the earth, 
will not be long in recovering the effects even of the present calamity. 
So much at least of consolation may be found. Before the widows and 
orphans whom this catastrophe bereaves, shall have put aside the robes of 
mourning, Chicago will be rising from her ruins, perhaps more magnifi- 
cent than ever. Her restoration, we may feel assured, will be in keeping 
with the marvelous rapidity of her rise, and the awful suddenness of her 

[From the Rushville, Ind., American.] 

Near one- half the city has been laid in ashes, and a hundred and 
fifty thousand people rendered homeless. 

The announcement, at first, seemed incredible. When the telegraph 
confirmed the facts, a thrill of horror and sympathy pervaded the universal 
heart. This fact presents a palliative for many of the outrages and cruelties 
of the past ten years, and shows that human nature has, after all, some 
redeeming traits. It was far different when Sherman's army desolated 
and destroyed the fairest region of the South, robbing and plundering, and 
burning as they went, leaving the people to starve; or, when Sheridan, a 
monster of cruelty, overran and destroyed the valley of Virginia, after- 
ward boasting that a crow would hare to carry its provisions under its 
wings, if it should attempt to fly over it; and thus he brought starvation 
on the old men, women, and children of that region, BO that thousands 
perished of famine. More property, nnd more lives were destroyed in 
these raids than all Chicago put together, and what wns the sentiment of 
the North ? One of exultation and rejoicing. These actn of vandalism 
were paraded as victories, and the heroes were met on their return with 
orations of men ami oblations of kisses from many of tho-gcntfe damsels 


of the North, carried away by the military glory that settled around the 
heads of these vandal chiefs, that was degrading, sickening, disgusting! 
What cared these women for the homeless, houseless, starving mothers and 
children of the South ? Nothing. They exulted in their sufferings ; 
laughed at the story of the ravishment of the daughters of the South, the 
burning and robberies of their dwellings, and slaughter of her strong men; 
shouted hosannahs and threw from the tips of their fingers kisses to the 
perpetrators of these acts of vandalism. 

That waa then ! Now, . that which is not half so horrible, thrills their 
bosom with sympathy, and their hand is quick and liberal to the relief of 
the suflferers. These things prove that man is a good deal lower than the 
angels, and sometimes, at least, a little higher than the devils. Chicago 
has lost, perhaps, three hundred million dollars by the fire. The property 
destroyed in the South is estimated at over one thousand millions. The 
fire in Chicago was the result of accident The destruction of property in 
the South Avas done purposely, by Northern soldiers, and compares exactly 
with the acts of the Goths and Vandals, savages that overran and sub- 
jugated the Roman Empire. But we are living under a higher civiliza- 
tion. Chicago did her full share in the destruction of the South. God 
adjusts balances. Maybe with Chicago the books are now squared 


The Rev. Dr. Bellows gave an eloquent sermon, in his church in New 
York, on Chicago, on the Sunday following the fire, after which a liberal 
collection was made. He said the real Chicago was not burned at all. 
Ten years will not leave one cinder-mark on her robes. Her wealth was 
visibly represented in her great warehouses, but her wealth is in the 
souls, breasts, and irrepressible elasticity of her citizens. She has gained 
a stimulant in activity, and a name which will realize all it has lost. The 
great lesson which Chicago presented is that humanity is loosened from 
its selfishness and shocked into a sense of the nobleness of true riches. 
God has not stirred Chicago for its sins. It is now punished for the sins 
of the world. 

[From the N. Y. Tribune, October 20.] 

The Rev. Granville Moody, of the Methodist Church in Cincinnati, haa 
been preaching an occasional sermon on "Fire," in his preliminary 
prayer alluding to the calamity which had befallen Chicago, and at- 
tributing it to the fact that the city recently gave a majority vote against 
Sunday and the Liquor Laws. The Rev. Mr. Moody likewise found in 
the fire " a retributive judgment on a city which has shown such a de- 
votion in its worship to the Golden Calf," The Rev. Mr* Moody is 


Clearly of the opinion that when cities sink to a certain depth of iniquity, 
the Almighty makes it his particular business to destroy them; and the 
following are cited as instances of those which either have been destroyed, 
or may expect to be destroyed, on account of their sins : 

Cincinnati, Babylon, Sodom, Zeboim, 

New York, Jerusalem, Gomorrah, Herculaneum, 

Boston, Tj re Zoar, Pompeii, 


[From a " Lecture Room Talk " of Rev. H. "W. Beecher, Oct. 13.] 

It has become a matter of remark to those who study the interior of 
history that events move in cycles. In certain years there are riots, or 
commercial troubles, and so it would seem that there are years of ca- 
tastrophes, and this might be called the year of fire. In the burning of 
town after town, of men, women, and children by the scores, there would 
seem to be enough to terrify us, even if it were not for the greater disaster 
of Chicago. This last disaster can be measured by the way in which it 
dwarfs other calamities. I am utterly unable to take in the calamity of 
Chicago. As it is in the case of mountains when first seen, I can not ad- 
just my sight to take it in. It was so during the war. I could feel only so 
much, and then 1 was full, but the events went on. So with this disaster. 
The desolation of a house is as much as you can feel, but take a street 
of houses, and then a ward, and from that to miles, and tens of thousands, 
and fifty thousand, and two hundred thousand people homeless, and it is 
wholly immeasurable. The mass and magnitude of suffering can not be 
estimated. Yet, though we can not measure it and take it in, every in- 
dividual goes on suffering. Chicago is not destroyed ; like another Phoe- 
nix, it will rise again. The strong will take care of themselves ; but O, 
for the poor, the women and children, the aged and the stranger, my 
heart goes out 

Next to the greatness of the calamity is the admirableness of the sym- 
pathy. The whole northern part of the nation has uprisen and stretched 
out its arms and taken that great city to its heart. We know no Catholic, 
no Protestant, no Democrat, no Republican, and the hand of the charity 
of this nation is like God's hand, that sendeth rain upon the just and the 
unjust It is sublime, and when you add that across the sea the kingdom 
of Great Britain and the German nation are sending their gifts, it shows 
how the great element of Christian sympathy has unitized the world. It 
is )ne of the auspicious signs of the times. There is one danger, and thai 
is that our sympathy will be merely emotive, and that as the weary winter 
months more on we shall get tired. Suffering never gets tired. Mr. 
remarked, further on: "I have been struck with the indifferecco 


of some men to the terrific suffering. Some say there can'4 be a devil. 
I have only to say that if there is n't a devil there is very good material 
to make one of, and if God is too good to have a devil in chief, He isn't 
too good to have one in detail. Nothing can exceed the wickedness and 
inhumanity of those men who have taken this occasion to prey upon thei? 


Men said at vespers : All is well ! 
In one wild night the city fell; 
Fell shrines of prayer and marts of gain 
Before the fiery hurricane. 
On threescore spires had sunset shone, 
Where ghastly sunrise looked on none ; 
Men clasped each other's hands and said : 
The City of the West is dead ! 
Brave hearts who fought, in slow retreat, 
The fiends of fire from street to street, 
Turned, powerless, to the blinding glare, 
The dumb defiance of despair. 
A sudden impulse thrilled each wire 
That signaled round that sea of fire ; 
Swift words of cheer, warm heart-throbs came ; 
In tears of pity died the flame! 
From East, from West, from South, from North, 
The messages of hope shot forth, 
And, underneath the severing wave, 
The world, full-handed, reached to save. 
Fair seemed the old ; but fairer still 
The new the dreary void shall fill, 
With dearer homes than those o'erthrown, 
For love shall lay eacli corner-stone. 
Rise, stricken city ! from thee throw 
The ashen sackcloth of thy woe; 
And build, as Thebes to Amphion's strain, 
To songs of cheer thy walls again ! 
How shriveled, in thy hot distress, 
The primal sin of selfishness ! 
How instant rose, to take thy part, 
* The angel in the human heart! 

Ah ! not in vain the flames that tossed 

Above thy dreadful holocaust; 

The Christ again has preached through thee 

The gospel of humanity! 

Then lift once more thy towers on high, 

And fret with spires the Western sky, 

To tell that God is yet with us, 

And luvc is still miraculous! 






The following extracts from a report, made by a committee of the Phila- 
phia benevolent organizations to their constituents, are given, as affording 
not only a clear sketch of the operations of the Chicago Relief Society, but aa 
showing how its work was regarded from an outside standpoint. The account 
of the Committee is correct, except in two minor respects ; the money given 
out by the Bureau of Special Relief is intended as a downright gift, and the 
recipients of houses from the Shelter Committee are not asked to give even 
their notes in payment, except where their circumstances and prospects 
are such as to justify the expectation of their being able to pay. 

The committee, after enumerating the various departments of the Society's 
business, each in charge of a committee, proceeds : 

" To these committees a ninth was added during a visit of your com- 
mittee, entitled the Bureau of Special Counsel and Assistance, to take 
charge of cases which could not be readily disposed of by either of the 
others, its principal functions being to aid those who were suffering in 
silence because they had not made their wants known, and by supplying 
small sums of money, either as donations or as advances in the nature of 
loans, to be repaid if the recipients shall be able to do so in the future, so 
as to aid the beneficiaries in their efforts to take care of themselves. 

" Each of these committees is employed throughout the whole of the day 
in the discharge of its special duties, and the Chairmen of all of them 
meet every night as an Executive Board. At these nightly meetings all 
the proceedings of the various committees are reported, and all information 
of the progress and developments of the work of relief is concentrated. 
Your committee, by invitation, attended one of these meetings i . tire 
Executive Board, where they had ample opportunity to observe its pro- 
ceedings ; and they were also invited to examine the whole work of relief 
critically, and to make suggestions in the way of improvement 

"The business of your committee mainly concerned the Executive Board, 
nnd the subjects of food, clothing, fuel, and shelter. Having been fully and 
satisfactorily advised of the general plan of operations, by the Chairman 
of the Executive Board, your committee next inquired into the faithful, 
intelligent, and impartial execution of the work in its details by the 
-ubordiniUe agencies. To this ond they visited the office of the General 



Superintendent of Distribution of Supplies, Mr. O. C. Gibbs. This gen 
tleinan lias been for a long time the Agent of the Relief and Aid Society. 
Here we found that under the general direction of the Executive Com- 
mittee, of which Wirt Dexter, Esq., is the Chairman, the work of relief 
was in operation under a thoughtfully-conceived and well-regulated and 
methodized system. The city had been divided into districts and sub- 
districts, in each of which there was a carefully selected Superintendent of 
DistributUhr, aided by citizens in whom the people of the districts have 
confidence, and by corps of visitors. Books had been opened and blank 
forms printed, so as to carry on the work with system and accuracy, as 
well as dispatch. Copies of all these printed forms were furnished your 
committee. They could easily see that the system adopted was well calcu- 
lated to prevent imposition on the part of the applicants not entitled to 
relief, to prevent to a great degree the duplication of aid by "repeating," 
to prevent wasteful and improvident application of supplies, and above all to 
make it certain that that meritorious class who suffer patiently, and who are 
reluctant to make their wants known, shall not be overlooked or neglected. 

"Each of the districts and sub-districts has headquarters where applica- 
tions for relief are received, where the claims of the applicants are examined 
according to a printed form of instructions, and where the results are filed 
and recorded. Each one of the districts is also furnished with a depot for 
the storage and distribution of supplies. After an application is approved 
and supplies are issued, the "visitor" for the particular locality in which 
the applicant is lodged, makes a further examination to verify the state- 
ments of the applicants. If they are found to be correct, a report to that 
effect is made: if otherwise, no further supplies are issued. In addition to 
this duty the visitors are charged with another important service. In order 
to find all who need or deserve aid, they have been instructed to go from 
house to house, until the whole of the city has been covered. By these 
means a full registry of all who are either in the receipt of aid, or who need it, 
. had been very nearly completed before your committee left Chicago. In 
the examination of applicants for relief according to the printed instruc- 
tions, every thing essential to the identification of the applicant and the 
verification of his or her necessities are set down in writing on the printed 
forms referred to, and filed for reference at the headquarters, of the dis- 
trict; and in every case where any person or head of a family is recom- 
mended for relief, and supplies of any kind are issued, a regular account 
is opened under the name of the beneficiary in a large ledger specially 
prepared for the purpose. 

"In this account all the particulars concerning the relief granted, what 
the supplies consisted of, the date when they were issued, how many per- 
sons they were to maintain, and how many days the supplies furnished 
ought to last with care and economy, are all noted, and can bo understood 


at a glance. By interchange of these recorded sources of information 
among the several districts, 'there is a reasonable approach to certainty, that 
no persons entitled to relief can procure supplies at more than one place. 
"Thus far your committee had 'ascertained the mode of distribution" 
of food, clothing, and fuel, according to the general plan, and in the details 
of its execution. It remained to them to pursue their inquiries as to the 
subject of shelter. The subject of providing shelter for the hundred 
thousand people whose houses had been destroyed was one of the most 
difficult with which the Relief and Aid Society had to grapple, and the 
way in which it has been dealt with, affords an opportunity to illustrate 
the intelligence, energy, business-like economy, and prompt dispatch with " 
which its executive board does its work. Immediately after the fire, and 
before the Aid Society was intrusted with the work of relief, some of the 
homeless sufferers were taken into the houses of the unburned districts 
among their acquaintances, but the great body of them were housed tem- 
porarily in church buildings, school buildings, empty warehouses, &c. 
There was, of course, intense discomfort, and great risk of disease and 
death from privation, exposure, and overcrowding. Then the authorities 
commenced the hasty construction of barracks in long, close and incon- 
venient rows on vacant ground. These, although better than the crowded 
churches and other large buildings, were still very objectionable ; and 
the Aid Society, immediately upon coming into control of the relief funds, 
adopted a very different and much more effective plan. They procured 
estimates in minute detail for the construction of cheap separate dwellings 
of two kinds, one for families of not more than three persons, and one for 
families of four or five persons. These were immediately printed, with 
diagrams and schedules of particulars embracing all the necessary ma- 
terials. A copy is annexed to this report The dimensions of the house 
for five persons are 16 feet by 20, one story high. The house contains 
two rooms, one 12 feet t>y 16, and one 8 by 16. Wherever a sufferer by 
the fire owned or had a lease upon the lot on which his or her house was 
situated, or could procure the use of a lot, an order was at once issued 
by the Committee on Shelter for all the materials for the construction of 
the house. Every thing was so well arranged in this business that three 
mechanics could put up such a house in two days. It is estimated that 
eight thousand of them in all will be required ; and of these not less than 
three thousand had been erected before your committee left Chicago, And. 
the materials had been issued for at least one thousand more.. The total 
cost of the house for five persons, including a cook-stove, a mattress, bed 
ding, and half a ton of coal, is $110! The house is not furnished to the 
beneficiary aa a gift, but in order to stimulate thrift, to cultivate the sen- 
timent of self-respect, and to guard against imposition, a note for the 
amount without interest is taken, payable iu one your. 


"This plan has worked admirably, nnd that it has been carried out with 
wonderful dispatch nnd economy, the facts your committee have recited 
fully prove. In further illustration of the forethought, energy, and economy 
of the Aid Society's movements, it is worthy of mention that immediately 
upon the adoption of the plan of furnishing separate dwellings for tho 
homeless sufferers, and before the plan was made public, apprehending 
a possible rise in the price of lumber, a member of the Executive Com- 
mittee, under authority of the committee, mounted his horse, visited the 
great lumber depots, and in three hours made contracts for all the lum- 
ber required, at six dollars per thousand feet less than the rise which 
immediately followed. 

" After a.n examination of all these matters, both in their general direc- 
tion and the administration of their details, and after considering informa- 
tion obtained from other trustworthy sources, your committee came to the 
conclusion that 'the mode of distributing' the relief money and supplies 
contributed to the suffering people of Chicago, as at present administered 
under the auspices of the 'Aid and llelief Society' of that city, is admi- 
rably adapted to the purpose, and that its direction is intrusted to able, 
experienced and eminently trustworthy hands. They were strongly im- 
pressed with the superior intelligence, large administrative capacity, and 
high character of the men who plan, direct, and give impulse to the work. 

"More than a hundred thousand people were left without the shelter of 
a roof, most of them without a change of clothes, and at least half of them 
utterly destitute. When your committee reached Chicago, they were 
grateful to hear the assurance that all of those who remained in Chicago 
and who need assistance were housed in some way, and were supplied 
with clothes sufficient for present emergencies. About forty thousand 
persons were being supplied with food on Thursday last, October 26, but 
the number was in course of reduction through the vigilance of the visitors 
and the exertions of the Committee on Employment. It is expected, how- 
ever, that not less than twenty-five to thirty thousand of the destitute will 
have to be carried through the winter and early spring months. The 
severest part of the trial, and the period of greatest distress for all these, 
are yet to come. These considerations suggest continued exercise of the 
benevolence already so generously expressed, and such encouragement and 
support to the excellent society charged with the administration of the 
world's bounty to the ruined city, as will strengthen its purpose to check 
all tendency toward profuse and wasteful distribution, so that its stores 
and resources may be husbanded to meet the wants of the trying season 
yet to come.