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Full text of "Chicago's highways, old and new, from Indian trail to motor road"

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CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS 
OLD AND NEW 



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CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS 
OLD AND NEW 

FROM INDIAN TRAIL TO 
MOTOR ROAD 



by 

MILO M. QUAIFE 

with an introduction by 
JOY MORTON 



Published by 
D. F. KELLER & COMPANY 

CHICAGO 1923 



Set up and Electrotyped 
August 1923 

Printed October 19*3 

Copyright 1923 by Joy Morton 



Printed in U. S. A. 



Reference 



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CONTENTS 



CHAPTER PAGE 

I. The Birth of a Metropolis ii 

II. The Road to Chicago 29 

III. The Vincennes Trace 51 

IV. The Road to Ottawa and the Southwest .... 72 
V. The Thoroughfares to the Lead Mines 87 

VI. The Green Bay Road 105 

VII. The Plank Road Era 122 

VIII. The Commerce of the Prairies 138 

IX. Stage Coaches and Travel 154 

X. Taverns and Tavern Life 168 

XI. Dangers of the Highway 183 

XII. A Bridal Tour in Pioneer Illinois 205 

Appendix: Guide to the Chief Points of Historical Interest Within 

a Day's Journey of Chicago 217 



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ILLUSTRATIONS AND MAPS 

PAGE 

The Old Ways Frontispiece 

The Highway System of Pioneer Chicago 6 

The Greenville Cession of 1795 at Chicago 12 

The Indian Cession of the Canal Route 16 

The First City Plan of Chicago 18 

Chicago as Seen from the Prairies in 1845 26 

Chicago as Seen from the Lake in 1852 28 

The-Walk-in-the-Water^ First Steamboat on the Upper Lakes . 36 

The First Train on the Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad . . 48 

An Early Advertisement of the Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad 50 

En Route to the Land of Promise 56 

A Night Encampment of Emigrants 70 

A Tavern of the Thirties 78 

Competition in Transportation in the Pioneer Era ... 82 

The Galena Levee in 1844 88 

Scott's Army Trail from Chicago to Beloit 96 

A View of Milwaukee in the Forties 114 

A Typical Stage Line Time Table 120 

Chicago and Vicinity in 1852 132 

An American Stage Coach of the Twenties 154 

The Chicago Stage Office of Frink and Walker . . . . 156 

Rapid Transit on the Chicago-Galena Line in 1841 . . . 160 

A Settler's Log Cabin 168 

Another View of a Settler's Cabin 170 

Some Typical Advertisements of Pioneer Hotels . . . . 180 

The Perils of Pioneer Travel 199 

Points of Chief Historical Interest Adjacent to Chicago . 220 

An Archeological Map of Chicago and Vicinity .... 236 

A Reminder of a Vanished Race 240 

Once the Home of Brigham Young 250 



THE' HIGHWAY SYSTEM 
OF PIONEER CHICAGO 

Adapted from Rees Map of 
1852. The red lines show the 
principal modern thoroug 
fares. They parallel closely 
those laid out by the pioneers. 




FOREWORD 

The period from the incorporation of Chicago to the coming 
of the railroads (from 1837 to 1852), as I view it, was the 
critical period of Chicago's history. Citizens of the village of 
about 3,000 people, surrounded by miles of flat, marshy land, 
had little basis to expect a big town here except the hope of 
a connection with the Mississippi River waterway system 
through a canal, which it was hoped sometime, somehow, 
might be built and which, eleven years afterwards, was, after 
various vicissitudes, completed. 

In the meantime, the town grew steadily. Its exports of 
raw material and imports of manufactured goads, as shown by 
the meagre port records of the time, increased pretty steadily 
and were, at all times, greater in amount than necessary for 
the support of the little town, indicating that, in spite of poor 
roads and bad transportation, its people were doing business 
with the hinterland and making Chicago, in that early day, 
the central market for surrounding territory. 

Dr. Quaife has happily selected this period for his book, and 
in admirable fashion has pictured the life, the travelers, and 
transportation methods before the coming of the canal and the 
railroads; he describes an eventful period which has hereto- 
fore had but little consideration, and has succeeded in linking 
the old with the new in a most interesting way. 

Advertised schedules of the stage lines, in the forties, 
indicate that the promise of about 75 miles per 24-hour day 
was thought to be "rapid transit," but, in practice, half as 
much was considered pretty fair going. In 1850, the "fast" 
packet boats on the Illinois and Michigan Canal made the 
journey from Chicago to La Salle in twenty to twenty-five 
hours. 



FOREWORD 

The period from the incorporation of Chicago to the coming 
of the railroads (from 1837 to 1852), as I view it, was the 
critical period of Chicago's history. Citizens of the village of 
about 3,000 people, surrounded by miles of flat, marshy land, 
had little basis to expect a big town here except the hope of 
a connection with the Mississippi River waterway system 
through a canal, which it was hoped sometime, somehow, 
might be built and which, eleven years afterwards, was, after 
various vicissitudes, completed. 

In the meantime, the town grew steadily. Its exports of 
raw material and imports of manufactured goo^s, as shown by 
the meagre port records of the time, increased pretty steadily 
and were, at all times, greater in amount than necessary for 
the support of the little town, indicating that, in spite of poor 
roads and bad transportation, its people were doing business 
with the hinterland and making Chicago, in that early day, 
the central market for surrounding territory. 

Dr. Quaife has happily selected this period for his book, and 
in admirable fashion has pictured the life, the travelers, and 
transportation methods before th,e coming of the canal and the 
railroads; he describes an eventful period which has hereto- 
fore had but little consideration, and has succeeded in linking 
the old with the new in a most interesting way. 

Advertised schedules of the stage lines, in the forties, 
indicate that the promise of about 75 miles per 24-hour day 
was thought to be "rapid transit," but, in practice, half as 
much was considered pretty fair going. In 1850, the "fast" 
packet boats on the Illinois and Michigan Canal made the 
journey from Chicago to La Salle in twenty to twenty-five 
hours. 



Chicago is somewhat given to boasting of its "I Will'* 
spirit. Doubtless there is now and always has been such a 
spirit here, but it seems to me, after reading Dr. Quaife's ac- 
count of the trials and tribulations of our early Chicagoans, 
that the germ of that commendable spirit originated under 
very adverse circumstances and was most effectually promul- 
gated by the founders and first settlers of this remarkable city. 

It gives me great pleasure to write this sjiort introduction 
and to suggest that Chicago's Highways, Old and New, should 
be read by everyone interested in Chicago's history and partic- 
ularly by every motorist who likes to take his family for a 
week-end outing in the beautiful country within a motor day's 
radius of our Garden City, now so greatly extended by the 
superb hard roads of Illinois. The contrast, as indicated by 
the maps showing the old and the new Illinois, graphically 
illustrates the difference between then and now, and if this 
book serves to quicken a general interest in the historic and 
beautiful country of which Chicago is the metropolis, it will 
indeed have accomplished much. 

Joy Morton 



PREFACE 

Highways are essential to the Hfe of mankind, and no 
people, however primitive, has been able to exist without 
them. From the dawn of civilization their development and 
administration has been one of the chief concerns of govern- 
ment, and It Is no mere coincidence that the architects of the 
greatest state of ancient times were also the greatest road 
builders of the world prior to the nineteenth century. In the 
chapters that follow I have endeavored to reconstruct for the 
entertainment of present-day readers a picture of the now- 
forgotten life of the pioneer highways which made possible 
the development of Chicago In the days before the coming of 
the railroad. The men and women who founded the splendid 
group of commonwealths which now border the shores of Lake 
Michigan endured In performing the task hardships and 
privations to a degree quite unknown to us of the present time. 
To them posterity owes a debt of gratitude which can best be 
discharged by appreciating and further improving the beauti- 
ful land they won from savagery to civilization. It Is my hope 
that the volume here presented may contribute somewhat to 
this end by aiding the reader to gain a better understanding 
of the pioneer beginnings of the country he Inherits. 

The valuable collections of the Chicago Historical Society 
have been freely placed at my disposal In preparing the book, 
and I wish publicly to express my Indebtedness to that In- 
stitution and to Miss Caroline Mcllvalne, Its librarian. In 
particular I have enjoyed the privilege of utilizing the ar- 
cheologlcal maps of Mr. Albert F. Scharf, whose lifetime work in 
the field of Chicago archeology Is deserving of more wide- 
spread recognition than has as yet been accorded him. It 



remains to express my obligation to Mr. Joy Morton of 
Chicago, whose generous interest and support has made 
possible the writing and publication of the volume. To his 
cooperation and intelligent criticisms it owes much of what- 
ever value it may be found to possess. 

MiLO M. QUAIFE 



CHAPTER I 

THE BIRTH OF A METROPOLIS 

THE year that witnessed the close of the World War was 
marked by the death at Chicago of a woman who in 
infancy had begun her residence here in 1826. Difficult 
would it be to find in the annals of history record of a stranger 
transformation than the one compassed by the span of this 
single life. Her early childhood was passed at a remote 
stockade in the wilderness and on her plastic mind were 
stamped indelible memories of scenes of panic fear which 
attended the Indian wars of 1827 and 1832 and the visitation 
of Asiatic cholera. Her aged eyes looked out upon the world's 
fourth metropolis, from whose streets rose a babel of tongues 
stranger and more confusing even than the Winnebago and 
Potawatomi she had learned to lisp in childhood. From its 
consciousness Indian scalping-knife and Asiatic cholera were 
equally remote, while its soldiers, from ranging the valley of 
the Des Plaines in search of Black Hawk's warriors, had gone 
to storm the Hindenburg Line and shatter the might of 
Imperial Germany. 

The growth of modern Chicago has afforded, since its first 
beginnings, food for wondering comment, and its explanation 
has been the occasion of much bewilderment. Seldom has a 
great city arisen amid natural surroundings more unpromising 
than those afforded by the site of primitive Chicago. The 
sluggish river slipped into the lake over a sandbar which 
effectually blocked the entrance to vessels, and nowhere within 
a hundred miles could shipping find shelter from the storms 
which were wont to rage with peculiar violence at this end of 
Lake Michigan. A few miles to the westward ran a continental 
watershed but a few feet in height. The river itself commonly 
ran with no perceptible current, and to the horizon limit the 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

landscape stretched away in one monotonous level of flat 
uniformity. Entrancing, indeed, was the prairie at certain 
seasons of the year, but the melting snows of spring or a heavy 
rain at any time transformed it into a vast, shallow lake, over 
which the canoe of the red man or the occasional bateau of the 
fur-trader plied its way regardless of the course of the river. 

The consequences of such an environment from the view- 
point of human occupation are sufficiently obvious. During 
much of the year early Chicago presented all of the attributes 
of a first-class marsh. Of drainage, as of serpents in Ireland, 
there was nothing until the townsmen in the fifties by a magnif- 
icent exercise of will power and energy lifted the city bodily 
from the morass in which it had been built up to its present 
level. As for highways, during the dry periods in summer one 
might travel anywhere over the prairie sod, which afforded an 
excellent footing for horses. In spring and autumn, however, 
and after a rain at any time the road quickly turned to a bot- 
tomless sea of mud, the despair of all who were compelled to 
traverse it. Little wonder is it that until a recent period the 
western states were dotted with pioneers who were fond of 
recalling that they had come through Chicago on their journey 
west, and that they "wouldn't take a quarter section there as 
a gift." 

From his particular point of view, the pioneer farmer was 
correct in his judgment, yet a wider knowledge would have 
shown him that nature had marked the site of early Chicago 
as the spot where a great city should arise. Cities are the off- 
spring of commerce, and they commonly develop at points on 
the highways of traffic where a break in transportation occurs. 
Even a slight familiarity with the physiography of the interior 
of the continent, combined with a knowledge of the working of 
economic law, would have sufficed to assure the observer of the 
future destiny of Chicago. How the matter presented itself to 
the minds of far-sighted contemporary observers is well re- 
vealed in the story of Arthur Bronson and Charles Butler, who 
first visited the place in the summer of 1833. 




'^^l^'aQf' 



THE BIRTH OF A METROPOLIS 

Bronson and Butler were two shrewd business men of New 
York, whose attention had been directed to the western 
country by the events of the Black Hawk War. They con- 
cluded to investigate the situation with a view to possible 
investments, and their attention was directed to Chicago by 
no less a person than General Scott, whose unhappy expe- 
riences there the preceding summer had not blinded him to the 
future promise of the place. On their arrival, in August, 1833, 
they found a mushroom village of two or three hundred souls 
in the early flush of its first real boom, infested by thousands 
of Indians gathered for the impending council of peace with 
the Great Father. To the east lay the territory of Michigan 
with a population of 20,000 souls, most of them gathered in 
the vicinity of Detroit. The northern half of Indiana as yet 
contained but a few scattered settlers, while between Lake 
Michigan and the Mississippi stretched a vast unoccupied 
expanse of land, covered with luxurious vegetation, beautiful 
to look at in its virgin state, and ready for the plow of the 
farmer. "One could not fail," wrote Butler at a later time, "to 
be greatly impressed with this scene, so new and extraordinary, 
and to see there the germ of that future when these vast 
plains would be occupied and cultivated, yielding their 
abundant products of human food, and sustaining millions of 
population. Lake Michigan lay there, 420 miles in length 
north and south, and it was clear to my mind that the produc- 
tions of that vast country lying west and northwest of it on 
their way to the eastern market — the great Atlantic seaboard, 
would necessarily be tributary to Chicago, in the site of which 
even at this early day the experienced observer saw the germ 
of a city destined from its position near the head of the lake 
and its remarkable harbor formed by the river, to become the 
largest commercial emporium of the United States." 

It is pleasant to record that the statesmanly foresight of 
these men found adequate reward, both of them reaping 
fortunes within a few years from their investments in Chicago 
real estate. Since the world had as yet no comprehension of 

13 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

the astonishing era of railroad development which lay im- 
mediately at hand, this early forecast of Chicago's future was 
uninfluenced by any knowledge of the factor which has con- 
tributed most to the city's present greatness. They took 
immediate cognizance, however, of that other factor so potent 
in the upbuilding of Chicago, its location on Nature's great 
central thoroughfare between the waters of the Great Lakes 
and those of the Mississippi River system. 

The prosperity of Chicago and her possibilities of future 
growth have alike been conditioned, at every period of her 
existence as a city, by the character and extent of her highway 
systems. These have been of a threefold character, comprising 
waterways, country thoroughfares, and railroads. To deal 
with the second of these is the particular task of the present 
volume, but the waterways come first in point of time, if not 
of present importance, and some consideration of them neces- 
sarily enters into every discussion of the origin of Chicago. 

Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that Chicago owes her 
very existence to the fact of her strategic location on one of 
the most important water routes of North America. It was 
no mere chance that led the first white man who ever explored 
the upper Mississippi Valley to the site of future Chicago. In 
the primitive state of the country the waterways possessed an 
importance unknown to the present generation. The Chicago- 
Illinois river route constituted one of the natural thorough- 
fares leading from the St. Lawrence River system to the 
Mississippi, and the Chicago Portage was one of the five great 
"keys of the continent." So low is the continental divide at 
this point that in times of spring floods or heavy rains it was 
frequently covered with water, and the Des Plaines at such 
times discharged through the south branch of the Chicago into 
Lake Michigan, as well as down its normal channel. This 
circumstance a recent generation has turned to account by 
performing the feat, novel in human history, of reversing the 
flow of the Chicago, thereby sending the city's sewage down 

14 



li 



THE BIRTH OF A METROPOLIS 

the Illinois River instead of into the lake, whence its water 
supply is drawn. 

Under such physiographical conditions it is not surprising 
that the first explorer who ever visited this region should 
conceive the idea of connecting Lake Michigan with the 
navigable waters of the Illinois. With statesmanly prevision 
Jolliet, in 1673, called his government's attention to the 
advantages which would accrue from cutting a canal across 
the Chicago Portage. His hasty tour of observation afforded 
him no adequate conception of the difficulty and magnitude of 
the improvement proposed, but his vision was transmitted to 
posterity and almost two centuries later found realization at 
the hands of another race. 

From the first entrance of the American government into 
the Northwest its officials comprehended the strategic impor- 
tance of the Chicago-Illinois waterway. When in 1794 
Anthony Wayne broke the power of the northwestern tribes- 
men in the battle of Fallen Timbers, a portion of the price of 
victory extorted from them in the ensuing treaty of Greenville 
was the free use of this highway, and the cession of reserva- 
tions at Chicago, Peoria, and the mouth of the Illinois on 
which forts might be erected to safeguard it. 

A beginning was made to this end with the construction 
of Fort Dearborn at the mouth of the Chicago in 1803. 
The purchase of Louisiana from France in the same year 
gave to the Illinois river route an added importance for the 
United States. Down it in the spring of 1805 came Colonel 
Kingsbury with a company of troops from distant Mackinac 
to establish Fort Bellefontaine opposite the mouth of the 
lUinois, and Fort Dearborn thereupon became a link in a 
chain of outposts set to guard the frontier from Mackinac 
to the Gulf of Mexico. 

The lUinois and Michigan Canal is peculiar among im- 
provements of this character in the fact that during the 
early years of agitation of the project no local constituency 
was concerned in it. On the contrary, it was visioned as a 

15 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

work of national interest and importance long before the 
territory of Illinois had acquired a corporate existence. The 
exertions made by General Wayne during Washington's 
administration to acquire control of the Illinois waterway 
have already been noted. Following the acquisition of 
Louisiana in 1803, the vision gradually dawned upon the 
country of connecting New York with New Orleans by one 
grand continuous internal waterway. To do this the Hudson 
must be connected with Lake Erie, and Lake Michigan with 
the Illinois. 

As yet the commercial demand for such a work was slight, 
but the disasters on land encountered in the War of 18 12 
served to emphasize anew the military importance of a safe 
and practicable highway from the Lakes to the Mississippi. 
In concluding treaties of peace with the Northwestern tribes 
at the close of the war with England the opportunity was 
improved to secure for the United States the strip of land 
between Lake Michigan and the Illinois through which the 
future canal must be built. Investigations of the route by 
army engineers quickly followed, and in January, 18 19, 
John C. Calhoun, as secretary of war, submitted a report to 
Congress urging the construction of a canal across the 
Chicago Portage. 

Meanwhile Illinois had been admitted to statehood in 
1818, and contrary to the evident design of the framers of 
the Ordinance of 1787 its northern boundary had been 
advanced from the "southerly bend" of Lake Michigan to 
the line of 42° 30', with the avowed purpose of giving the 
new state a northern trend through the possession of a com- 
mercial outlet on Lake Michigan. By this maneuver a local 
interest in forwarding the construction of the canal was 
created, and from this time forward until success crowned 
the enterprise thirty years later, local zeal and enthusiasm 
for the work took precedence over national interests. 

To the canal project the birth of Chicago as a corporate 
entity was directly due. In 1827 Congress granted to the 

16 



iC^O 




THE INDIAN CESSION OF THE CANAL ROUTE 

This cession was secured by a treaty with the allied Tribes of Chippewa, Ottawa, 

and Potawatomi, negotiated at Portage des Sioux, Missouri, in August, 

1816, by William Clark, Ninian Edwards, and Auguste Chouteau. 



THE BIRTH OF A METROPOLIS 

State the alternate sections of land in a five-mile strip along 
either side of the canal for the purpose of aiding its con- 
struction. After some delay, the state legislature in 1829 
made provision for a canal commission of three members, 
with powers appropriate for the work in view. This com- 
mission proceeded to lay out the towns of Chicago and 
Ottawa at either end of the proposed route, and in the sum- 
mer of 1830 the lots at Chicago were offered at auction to 
the public. * 

Under the sheltering walls of Fort Dearborn there had 
gradually developed a,, tiny settlement composed of civilian 
employees of the government, the families of discharged 
soldiers, and the establishments of the fur-traders. Many 
of the settlers were Frenchmen who had taken to themselves 
Indian wives, or were themselves the offspring of such alli- 
ances on the part of an earlier generation. It is not possible 
to determine the precise population of this civilian com- 
munity at any given time, but its approximate size and 
importance is clear. -As early as the spring of 18 12, when 
the Indians murdered two of its members on the South 
Branch, Captain Heald was able to enroll a force of "Chicago 
militia" fifteen in number from the residents of the settle- 
ment without the fort. A fate as tragic as any in our mili- 
tary annals shortly befell this pioneer body of Chicago's 
soldiery. Three of them deserted to the Indians, indicating 
by this act their greater affiliation with that race, while the 
loyal twelve remaining perished to a man in the massacre 
of August 15. 

A new Fort Dearborn arose from the^ ashes of the old in 
the summer of 18 16, and con tempo iratteously therewith a 
second civilian settlement began \o (develop olitside the 
fort. At the time of the Winnebago trouble in 1827 a second 
Chicago militia company was mustered, but its history, 
unlike that of its predecessor, is wholly comic. The fire 
which destroyed the Fort Dearborn barracks at this time 
is said by a contemporary to have been witnessed by about 

17 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

forty spectators; their number Included, we may be sure, 
every soul then present in the community. By 1830 its 
population was probably upwards of three or four score. 

The habitations of the settlement had been built at the 
forks of the river and along the main stream running east- 
ward to the military reservation. This territory was a part 
of Section Nine of the United States land survey, one of 
the alternate sections which by congressional grant had 
fallen to the Canal Commission. In modern terminology, 
this section extended from State Street west to Halsted, 
and from Madison north to Chicago Avenue. On it the 
surveyor employed by the commission, James Thompson, 
proceeded to lay out the town plat; but since considerably 
more than half of the section lies north of the river, he chose 
to plat only that portion of it extending northward from 
Madison to Kinzie streets and westward from State to 
Des Plaines. Within this area of about three-eighths of a 
square mile, forty-eight blocks and fractional blocks were 
laid out on the familiar checkerboard plan with parallel 
streets running north and south and east and west, the only 
irregularities being such as were rendered unavoidable by 
the course of the river. East of the town plat, between 
State Street and the lake, south of the river, lay the Fort 
Dearborn reservation and north of it a fractional quarter- 
section which was entered the next year by Robert Kinzie 
on behalf of the heirs of his father, John Kinzie, the old 
Chicago trader. With the exception of Canal, Market, 
and Lake, and the several Water streets, the derivation of 
which is sufficiently obvious, Surveyor Thompson named 
his streets in honor of national or local characters. Running 
east and west were Washington, Randolph, Lake, South 
Water, Carroll, and Kinzie. North and south streets were 
Dearborn, Clark, Market, East Water, West Water, Canal, 
Clinton, and Jefferson. 

The survey was completed and the town plat filed for 
record on August 4, 1830, which may be taken as the first 

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THE BIRTH OF A METROPOLIS 

definite date in Chicago's corporate history. The public 
land sale, held the following month, developed but a mod- 
erate enthusiasm on the part of bidders over the question 
of real estate values. For 126 lots an average price of $^^ 
was bid, while two eighty-acre tracts lying just beyond the 
limits of the town plat went for $1.25 an acre, and another 
similar tract for a few cents more. Many of the purchasers 
were, of course, residents of the place, who were simply 
buying in their homes which had been built on land to which 
they had no legal title. Aside from these, the purchasers, 
whether residents or outsiders, were evidently actuated by 
speculative considerations. 

There is little to indicate that as yet those most familiar 
with Chicago had any inkling of the revolution in real estate 
values which was so soon to be witnessed here. A delightful 
story in this connection is preserved by Mrs. Juliette Kinzie. 
A few months after the land sale of 1830, roused by such 
developments as had already taken place, Robert Kinzie 
journeyed to the land office at Palestine and there entered, 
on behalf of the Kinzie family, the fractional quarter-section 
lying north of the river and east of State Street which 
included the old Kinzie home. The tract, lying in the angle 
formed by the river and the lake, comprised but 102 acres 
instead of the full quarter-section which a claimant was 
entitled to enter. Kinzie, who might have entered 58 addi- 
tional acres elsewhere, returned home without troubling 
himself to do so. His mother, on learning of this, urged 
him to claim the cornfield at the forks of the river. Although 
Kinzie was a business man his response to her argument 
was a hearty laugh. "Hear mother," he said, **we have 
just got 102 acres — more than we should ever want, or know 
what to do with, and now she would have me go and claim 
58 acres more!" 

The additional acreage was not claimed, because in the 
judgment of this man, who had spent his entire life at Chi- 
cago, it would be a mere waste of effort to do so. That he 

19 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

was not alone in his inability to see the future which Chicago 
held in store, may be seen from a comparison of the prices 
paid at the sale of 1830 for certain tracts of land with the 
value of the same tracts twenty-three years later. Thus, 
the eighty acres which Thomas Hartzell acquired for $124 
in 1830 might have been sold for $800,000 in 1853. James 
Kinzie's eighty, purchased for $140, was valued at $600,000 
at the later date. The lot for which William Jewett in his 
excitement parted with $21 at the land sale of 1830, if 
retained until 1853 would have netted him $17,000; while 
John H. Kinzie's larger investment of $119 multiplied itself 
in the same period to $163,000. 

These figures imply, of course, a great growth in popu- 
lation and a corresponding increase in commercial import- 
ance. For the first few years, however, the growth was 
exceedingly slow, and the speculators of 1830 may well 
have bemoaned, during this period, their recklessness in 
parting with good money in return for titles to town lots 
in the wilderness. The season of 1831 witnessed little out- 
ward change at Chicago, which continued to present the 
aspect of a village of log huts, with not a single frame struc- 
ture in the place. Yet the season was marked by two occur- 
rences significant of the trend of future events. A number 
of settlers passed through the town, intent on finding homes 
in the valleys of the Des Plaines and the Du Page; while 
Cook County was created by legislative enactment, and 
Chicago became the county seat. 

The season of 1832 was in every way abnormal. With 
the spring came the panic occasioned by the incursion of 
Black Hawk's warriors into Illinois. Fort Dearborn had been 
without a garrison since May, 1831, but its walls afforded 
the only shelter available to the settlers of the Des Plaines 
and the Du Page, and to Chicago they fled in wildest terror. 
The normal population of perhaps 100 souls was quickly 
swelled to five times this number, and the confusion and 
crowding were presently intensified by the arrival of detach- 

20 



THE BIRTH OF A METROPOLIS 

ments of Michigan militia and regular soldiers. Housing 
accommodations were strained to the utmost in the effort 
to shelter the fugitives, and even the food supply soon 
became inadequate for the sustenance of the multitude 
which had so suddenly assembled. 

In July came General Scott, bringing several hundred 
soldiers from the East to the scene of the Indian war. With 
him came also the Asiatic cholera, and at the news of its 
approach the Indian peril was forgotten. Townsmen and 
settlers alike betook themselves to sudden flight before 
the dread presence, and over night, as it were, Chicago was 
emptied of its civilian population. Only those remained 
who were compelled by the stern demands of duty, and 
for weeks the place was but a military lazaret whose occu- 
pants were engaged in fighting the plague, and giving hasty 
burial to those who fell before it. 

Ere autumn, war and cholera had alike departed. The 
townsmen returned to their abandoned homes, and life at 
Chicago resumed once more its wonted aspect. Meanwhile, 
far away from the tiny Fort Dearborn community events 
had been preparing which were shortly to terminate, rudely 
and forever, Chicago's long slumber. For a generation, by 
Wilderness Trail and National Road, settlers had been 
pouring over the mountains and down the Ohio into the 
lower West. With the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 
was afforded for the first time a practicable highway con- 
necting the settled East with the Great Lakes. Along it in 
the ensuing years streamed an ever-increasing host of settlers, 
taking possession of western New York and northern Ohio, 
and pouring on into the wilderness of southern Michigan 
and northern Indiana. 

For Chicago, the Indian war had two results of exceeding 
consequence. It brought about the extinction of the Indian 
title to the land between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi, 
and the removal of the red man farther west. Of equal 
significance, perhaps, it caused hundreds of men to be taken 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

upon an enforced excursion through the entrancing wilder- 
ness of northern IlHnois and southern Wisconsin. The 
effect produced upon their minds we have already seen 
illustrated in the case of their commander, General Scott. 
They returned to their homes carrying marvelous tales of 
the country's surpassing beauty, and of the wealth in for- 
ests, mill sites, and farms which awaited the coming of the 
settler. In hundreds of eastern communities these reports 
were absorbed with keenest interest, and the ambition was 
kindled in the breasts of the hearers to become sojourners 
in this new land of promise. 

The first wave of the tide of migration into the new 
Northwest reached Chicago with the spring of 1833. Most 
of the homeseekers passed through the place to find loca- 
tions farther on. Some, however, attracted by the com- 
mercial promise of Chicago, ended their journey here. In 
either event they inade their contribution to the city's 
upbuilding, for its growth depended upon the development 
of its back country, and every homestead established in 
the wilderness west of Lake Michigan involved the addi- 
tion of another source of tribute to Chicago's permanent 
prosperity. 

At the beginning of 1833 the place was still a village of 
log huts, the only frame building being the warehouse of 
George W. Dole, which had been erected the summer before. 
The season was one of feverish activity, however, and at 
its close dozens of new frame buildings might be seen where 
but one had stood before. They were, to be sure, of flimsy 
construction, hastily thrown together in the cheapest and 
rudest manner, but their presence afforded convincing 
evidence that a vigorous, throbbing life had replaced the 
langorous atmosphere of old at the forks of the Chicago. 

Building developments aside, the season was marked by 
two other occurrences of note. A canal implied a harbor 
fur shipping at Chicago. Congress had long since lent its 
countenance to the canal project, but as yet there was no 



THE BIRTH OF A METROPOLIS 

harbor, by reason of the sandbar which blocked the mouth 
of the river. In March, Congress voted $25,000 for a har- 
bor at Chicago, and on July i the work of construction was 
begun. By cutting a channel through the sandbar the river 
was afforded a direct outlet to the lake, and the work begun 
by the army engineers was completed in the spring of 1834 
by the Des Plaines River, which sent its vernal flood down 
the Chicago with such force as to dredge the channel deep 
enough to permit the entrance of the heaviest vessels. Piers 
to north and south of the new river-mouth, extending five 
hundred feet into the lake, completed the work of the engi- 
neers, and for the first time shipping found safe and adequate 
anchorage at the south end of Lake Michigan. 

The other event of importance in the expanding annals 
of Chicago was its incorporation as a village in August, 
1833. At a preliminary election held on August 5 to elicit 
the will of the townsmen on the question, twelve votes had 
been cast in favor of the measure and only one in opposi- 
tion. The negative vote was given by a man who lived up 
the South Branch, several miles away; on what theory he 
was permitted to participate in the election, contempor- 
aries have neglected to enlighten us. Evidently the result 
of the preliminary election was a foregone conclusion, over 
which the majority of the electorate abstained from wast- 
ing valuable time. Far different was it in the election for 
town trustees, held five days later. The entire electorate, 
twenty-eight in number, came to the polls, and thirteen of 
them consented to appear in the role of candidates for 
office. The state law required at least 150 persons to form 
a corporate town, and it seems evident from this first elec- 
tion that Chicago's population was dangerously close to 
the minimum. The arrivals of 1833, however, were prob- 
ably not eligible to vote. 

The council and treaty held with the Potawatomi in the 
early autumn, one of the most picturesque events in Chi- 
cago's annals, brought together, in addition to several thou- 

23 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

sand red men, a motley throng of white men, government 
officials, fur traders, claimants, speculators, and rogues of 
varying degree. In October occurred the sale at auction of 
the "school section," lying immediately south of the town 
plat and embracing the land between State and Halsted 
streets, extending southward from Madison to Roosevelt 
Road. This area embraces today the greater portion of 
Chicago's Loop, probably the most congested business dis- 
trict on the face of the globe. The intersection of State 
and Madison streets at its northeast corner is popularly 
supposed to be the busiest street corner on earth. The 
land had been subdivided into 144 blocks of approximately 
four acres each, and these were sold, mostly on credit, at 
an average price of $6.72 per acre. 

The sum realized is said by one chronicler to have been 
"beyond expectations." Although the price paid marks a 
considerable advance over the $1.25 an acre paid at the land 
sale of 1830, it is evident that "expectations" were still 
far from extravagant with respect to Chicago real estate 
values. The blocks of the school section, cut up into lots, 
afforded, together with the canal lots in Section 9, the lots 
on which the speculative craze of 1835 and 1836 originally 
fed. As the mania grew, however, fresh "additions" were 
hastily platted and thrown on the market to feed the flame. 

We may leave to the professional economist the task of 
expounding the forces which lead men periodically to em- 
bark upon an era of hopeful speculation with its inevitable 
aftermath of financial stagnation and despondency. Here 
it will suffice to note that the middle thirties saw the devel- 
opment of the wildest land craze the country has ever 
undergone, while 1837 ushered in perhaps its severest period 
of depression. At Chicago, the focal point of the western 
migration, the speculative mania raged with peculiar intensity. 
Throughout 1834 the tide of settlers thronged the town, and 
under this stimulating influence signs of a real estate boom 
became evident. Confined within reasonable bounds, such 

24 



THE BIRTH OF A METROPOLIS 

a movement would have been justified by the substantial 
facts of the economic situation. But with the passing months 
legitimate business transactions gave place to frenzied 
speculation for its own sake. Numerous tales of individual 
experiences have been handed down to us by contempor- 
aries, but the underlying spirit of the time is perhaps best 
illustrated by the story, reported in the first issue of Mil- 
waukee's first newspaper, of this conversation between two 
Chicagoans: 

"I say," inquired one of the gentlemen, "what did you 
give for your portrait?" "Twenty-five dollars," was the 
reply, "and I have been offered fifty for it." 

Nor was the speculative mania confined to Chicago real 
estate. All around the shores of Lake Michigan, on every 
inlet and creek, and for scores of miles inland, town-sites 
were platted with enthusiastic zeal, and lots in them were 
bartered with eager abandon at ever-mounting prices. The 
pioneer historian of La Salle County relates that he set out 
some small apple trees on his farm, and stuck a stake in 
the ground by each tree to mark the location. A passing 
stranger soon stopped to inquire the name of the town he 
had laid out. On another occasion he called at a log cabin 
where half a dozen farmers were assembled. They had evi- 
dently been engaged in high speculation throughout the 
day, for one of them, addressing the newcomer, said with 
a complacent slap of the thigh, "I have made 1 10,000 today, 
and I will make twice as much tomorrow." From the further 
conversation it developed that he had been the least suc- 
cessful of the entire company. 

The pretentious scale of these paper towns may be illus- 
trated in the case of Kankakee City, at the junction of the 
Des Plaines and the Kankakee. In its palmiest day this 
metropolis never contained more than seventy inhabitants; 
yet its promoters had provided ten public squares, with 
parks and avenues enough to have afforded a fair nucleus 
for another New York City. The plat, with its many 

25 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

"additions" covered 2000 acres, and in all the prominent 
centers of real estate speculation highly ornamented engrav- 
ings of this city, beautiful with magnificent buildings and 
busy with the traffic of capacious warehouses and crowded 
wharves, were on display. 

When, in 1837, the bubble burst it brought ruin to most 
of those who for a season had been reveling in paper for- 
tunes. For many this meant little loss of real wealth, but 
merely a return to the status from which they had soared. 
An illustration may be seen in the case of John S. Wright, 
long a useful citizen of Chicago. He first landed here, a 
penniless boy of seventeen, in 1832. Four years later, still a 
minor, he was worth $200,000. The panic now ensued. 
Wright was unable to meet his extended obligations, and 
presently he was as penniless as in 1832. Some, shrewder 
or more fortunate than the majority, turned their profits 
into cash in advance of the collapse. Thus Arthur Bronson, 
of whose advent to Chicago we have already taken note, 
in the autumn of 1834 bought a tract owned by Captain 
(afterward General) David Hunter for $20,000. In the 
spring of 1835 he resold it to his friend, Charles Butler, for 
$100,000. Butler caused the tract to be subdivided, and 
offering it for sale within a month, realized the entire pur- 
chase price from one-third of the lots. 

Although the panic brought ruin to numberless individuals, 
and stayed the growth of Chicago for a season, it was of no 
significance in the tale of the city's ultimate growth. The 
conditions determining that growth cannot be better stated 
than in Charles Butler's account, already noted, of the 
impressions he formed in 1833 with respect to the city's 
destiny. With paper fortunes vanishing like the morning 
mist, men awoke to a realization of the fact that some- 
thing more than the art of the lithographer is requisite to 
the building of a city, and after a season of stagnation they 
bent themselves anew to the task. 

The span of Chicago's existence as a village was four years, 

26 



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THE BIRTH OF A METROPOLIS 

from the summer of 1833 to the spring of 1837. In this 
period the population increased from about 150 to 4170. 
The village fathers entered upon their duties with becoming 
gravity, one of their first public acts being the establish- 
ment of a free ferry across the river at Dearborn Street. 
A donation had been made by the state of certain lots in 
Section Nine to aid the new town, and a portion of these, 
set apart for a public square, still remains the seat of county 
and city government. On this square the first prison, a log 
structure, was erected the first autumn, and in November 
a code of ordinances for the government of the aflfairs of 
the village was adopted. The first financial obligation was 
incurred in October, 1834, when the sum of sixty dollars 
was borrowed to drain and otherwise improve State Street. 

In the autumn of 1836, under the influence of the expansive 
ideas of the period, a movement was begun to secure from 
the legislature a charter for a city. It was successful, and 
on March 4, 1837, the change to the new form of govern- 
ment was made. Although the population was but little 
over 4000 the corporate limits of the new city were drawn 
to embrace substantially all of the territory between Twenty- 
second Street and North Avenue, extending westward from 
the lake to Wood Street, an area of ten square miles. 

For three years, after its incorporation, the city stag- 
nated. Vivid, indeed, are the recollections which contempor- 
aries have put on record concerning this trying period. 
Of similar tenor is the evidence afforded by the census sta- 
tistics of 1840. But 300 had been added to the population 
in the three-year period. The city now resumed its onward 
march, and in 1843 the census revealed a population of 
7580, an increase in three years of 3100, or almost 70 per 
cent. Three more years saw the population of 1843 prac- 
tically doubled, and in the ensuing four years it doubled 
again, the census figure of 1850 being 28,269. By 1853 
this figure had considerably more than doubled, the three- 
year increase amounting to 32,400. The next four years 

27 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

saw approximately the same increase and by 1857, the clos- 
ing year of the period under review, Chicago had become 
a city of 93,000 souls. 

In the light of more recent developments this figure does 
not seem particularly impressive. Yet all human values 
are relative in their importance, and the significance of the 
achievement of these two decades in increasing twenty- 
three fold the population with which the city had started 
out in 1837 can scarcely be over-emphasized. Thereby 
Chicago had become the giant of the Northwest, and had 
stamped the country west of Lake Michigan with the seal 
of her commercial supremacy. 

The explanation of this achievement is not obscure or 
difficult. Commerce is the life blood of an industrial city 
like Chicago, and -the city's highways are the arterial sys- 
tem through which it circulates. Eastward from Chicago 
stretched the waters of Lake Michigan, affording throughout 
nine months of the year a natural highway of unlimited 
capacity. Westward, in the beginning, the highways re- 
mained to be created, and it was apparent to all that the 
future of the city was dependent upon her success in making 
connection with the back country. The work of establish- 
ing this connection was begun within a few months after 
the laying out of the town site by Surveyor Thompson in 
1830. It continued throughout the ensuing years until in 
time a series of radial highways stretched out from the 
city in all directions, affording connection with all points 
that lay within practicable distance of Chicago. 

To trace in detail the evolution of these highways and 
describe the life that passed to and fro upon them will be 
the function of the succeeding chapters. The modern physi- 
cian places a drop of blood under the microscope and from 
the examination of it derives important information with 
respect to his patient's welfare. Along Chicago's historic 
highways pulsated the commerce of the time, and from an 
examination of this traffic we may draw a remarkably vivid 
conception of the life of that bygone period. 

28 




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CHAPTER II 

THE ROAD TO CHICAGO 

WHEN, In the thirties, the dweller on the Atlantic 
seaboard began to listen to the call of the great 
West, the choice of route and of time for making 
the journey were among the matters most anxiously debated. 
Numerous guide books had been published, all with the 
purpose of affording the traveler needful information con- 
cerning the West and the several ways of reaching it, yet 
families preparing to migrate thither frequently sent out 
some member to spy out the land, before committing them- 
selves to the momentous project. 

In November, 1831, the editor of the Illinois Monthly 
Magazine published for the benefit of prospective immi- 
grants to this state a collection of ''hints" which afford 
the present-day historian, intent upon his task of recon- 
structing the life of that bygone period, no less enlighten- 
ment than they brought the contemporary reader for whose 
aid and comfort they were written. The season of the year 
for making the journey will depend, we learn, upon the 
mode of conveyance adopted. In springtime, west of the 
mountains, all natural roads are bad from the time when 
the ground thaws until warm weather; as for artificial roads, 
or turnpikes, these are so infrequent in the West as to afford 
but little aid in such a journey and the traveler should leave 
them entirely out of account in planning his migration. 

In the spring-time the bottom lands along the rivers 
are overflowed, the channels of the streams are full, and 
travel in any direction is impeded, and at times wholly pre- 
vented, by high waters. Since "great channels of trade 
and intercourse" are not yet fixed, all roads are new. The 
population is increasing rapidly, and trade fluctuates from 

29 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

one point to another, so that the courses of the roads are 
often changed before a permanent route is adopted. As a 
consequence, few roads in the western country are so fixed 
as to location as to have become beaten by travel or improved 
by art; and the traveler who ventures forth in the spring 
must expect to wade through mire and water ankle deep, 
knee deep, and "peradventure" deeper still. 

But the same reasons make the spring the best season 
in which to travel by water. The streams are now swollen, 
the largest rising thirty to fifty feet above their low-water 
mark. Rocks, snags, and sawyers^ are buried far beneath 
the surface, and the steamboat glides without interrup- 
tion from place to place, ascending small rivers and finding 
its way to points far distant from the ordinary channels 
of navigation. Business becomes active, and the number 
of boats is increased to meet the demand; the traveler by 
water at this season meets with no delay, while "the hap- 
less wight who bestrides an unlucky nag is wading through 
ponds and quagmires, enjoying the delights of log bridges 
and wooden causeways, and vainly invoking the name of 
McAdam as he plunges deeper and deeper into mire and 
misfortune." 

Early in May the waters begin to subside, and for a short 
period the traveler may proceed in comfort, either by land 
or water. But this season is brief, and not to be relied upon 
other than by those who are on the ground and in readi- 
ness to take instant advantage of its propitious moments. 
It is like a cessation of arms in war, or a calm in the political 
world, when the demons of discord are on the fence, ready 
to pounce down upon the unsuspecting public on either 
side. If the spring has been a wet one, the roads are still 
miry, and the traveler who has been allured by the bright 
sun and brilliant flowers to forsake the steamboat, will find 

lA "sawyer" was an uprooted tree, submerged in the channel of the river. Its jagged 
branches, capable of piercing the sides of the flimsily-constructed boats, constituted one 
of the deadliest menaces to the safety of river navigation. 

30 



THE ROAD TO CHICAGO 

the effects of winter "lingering in the lap of May." If, on 
the other hand, the spring has been unusually dry, the 
waters subside earlier than common, and travel by river 
becomes uncertain and precarious. 

In the autumn, west of the mountains, there is ordinarily 
but little rain and the weather is mild and steady. The 
roads become dry and good; many of the smaller streams 
become entirely dry, while others are so diminished in vol- 
ume as to render crossing them at the fording places a safe 
and easy matter. But few rivers can be navigated by steam- 
boats at this season, while all roads are passable, and many 
in excellent condition.! Autumn, too, is the season of abund- 
ance, with ripe crops and fat cattle, when food may be 
cheaply and easily procured. 

Those, therefore, who plan to come west by water should 
make the journey in the spring; those who elect to travel 
in stages or by their own conveyance should set out in 
September. As for midsummer, this season, like the winter, 
is objectionable on account of the inclemency of the weather. 
Considerations of both health and comfort unite to urge 
the immigrant to avoid both of these seasons. With good 
taverns to be found only on main roads and in large villages, 
he must expect to meet with hardships to which his life 
in the East has not accustomed him. Long stages must be 
made at times; the night's shelter may be a one-room cabin, 
filled to overflowing, or no house at all, with consequent 
exposure to the weather. At the best, the journey will prove 
a drain upon his energy and vitality; if made under the 
conditions either of winter or of midsummer this strain is 
needlessly increased. In spring the traveler is saved from 
both personal exertion and exposure to the weather; in 
autumn, the air is mild and salubrious, and such exposure is 
but Httle felt. 

^The reader should not too hastily visualize, from these words, roads comparable to mod- 
ern improved highways; the writer's adjectives are justified only from the relative view- 
point of the superiority of the prairie roads in autumn over their bottomless condition in 
springtime. 

31 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

From this informant we learn that the most expeditious 
route for one setting out from Boston to Illinois ninety 
years ago was to journey by stage to Providence or New 
Haven; thence to New York by steamboat; from here to 
Philadelphia either by steamer or by stage; to Baltimore 
by steamboat, thence to Wheeling by stage over the National 
Road; down the Ohio by steamboat to Louisville, and thence 
by stage to Vandalia, or on to Shawneetown or to St. Louis 
by water. The route to Illinois by way of the Erie Canal 
and Lake, and thence across by connecting waterways to 
the Ohio River, was longer and more circuitous, but prefer- 
able to the foregoing when heavy freight must be trans- 
ported. If an all-water route to Illinois was desired, the 
traveler might journey by sea to New Orleans, and thence 
up the Mississippi and the Illinois or other tributary to 
his ultimate destination. The cost of making the combined 
land and water journey from Philadelphia to St. Louis 
was estimated at $^^y everything being provided. If one 
chose to take "deck passage," however, providing his own 
food and shelter, and indeed everything but the mere vehicle 
of transportation, the journey might be made for a consid- 
erably smaller sum. 

These "hints" were written at a time when settlement 
was confined to the southern half of Illinois, and a traveler 
might journey from Peoria to Chicago without encounter- 
ing a single human habitation other than those belonging 
to the red man. Our interest, however, is more largely 
concerned with the tide of settlement which began pouring 
into the new Northwest at the close of the Black Hawk 
War, coming chiefly from New England and the Middle 
Atlantic states across New York to Buffalo, and thence 
westward to Chicago and points beyond. It requires but 
a glance at the map to disclose that to these immigrants to 
the West the choice of traveling either by water or land 
was open. If they elected to make the journey by water, 
as did most aliens, whose landing port was New York, as 

32 



THE ROAD TO CHICAGO 

well as many residents of the seaboard states, the route 
from New York City was by steamboat up the Hudson to 
Albany, and thence across New York by canal-boat to 
Buffalo. Here the chain of the Upper Lakes, stretching 
away for a thousand miles and more, offered the immi- 
grant an unbroken, albeit circuitous water passage to Chi- 
cago. If he chose to make the journey by land, the Genesee 
Turnpike, evolved from the old Iroquois Trail of the red 
man, afforded a thoroughfare leading across New York 
to Buffalo approximately parallel to the Erie Canal. West- 
ward from Buffalo the road ran along the south shore of 
Lake Erie, and across southern Michigan and northern 
Indiana to the fast-rising city at the forks of the Chicago. 

In actual practice, western travelers made up numerous 
variations and combinations of these two main highways 
to Chicago. Those coming from New England struck the 
main thoroughfare at Albany, while settlers from points 
farther west, in southern New York, western Pennsylvania, 
or Ohio, made connection with it at such points as might 
be most convenient. These minor streams of travel were 
not unlike the tributaries of a river system, which sooner 
or later mingled their current with that of the great parent 
stream pouring westward from Albany to Chicago. Some 
made connection with it at Buffalo, others at some point 
in Ohio, across which state ran several highways connecting 
the Ohio River with Lake Erie. One great affluent, indeed, 
the Michigan Road, entered the parent stream only at 
Michigan City, scarce fifty miles from Chicago. Starting 
at Madison, on the Ohio River, it crossed the entire state 
of Indiana from south to north, affording a highway over 
which thousands of settlers from Virginia and Kentucky, 
Tennessee and North Carolina, made their way to the region 
west of Lake Michigan. At Indianapolis it crossed the 
great National Road, diverting thus a portion of the stream 
of migration along this thoroughfare northward through the 
Chicago gateway. Still another thoroughfare across Indiana 

33 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

ran from Louisville northwest to old Vincennes on the Wabash, 
and thence onward to Terre Haute, where it struck the 
National Road as did the Michigan Road at Indianapolis. 
From Vincennes or Terre Haute the settler might pursue 
his way due north to Chicago or westward into Illinois 
and the trans-Mississippi region. 

For those immigrants who availed themselves of the water 
route at all, Buffalo was the great port of embarkation. 
Once afloat on the Lakes, most travelers continued by water 
until they reached Chicago ;i but the journey across Lake 
Huron and Michigan was long and frequently stormy, and 
many preferred to avoid it by landing at Monroe or Detroit 
and making their way by land across southern Michigan 
and northern Indiana. If this phase of the journey was 
begun at Monroe, the traveler followed the highway known 
as the La Plaisance Bay Road to its junction with the great 
Chicago Road running from Detroit to Chicago. Still a 
final variation in the route remains to be noted, for early 
in the thirties was opened the highway known as the Terri- 
torial Road, crossing Michigan from Detroit to St. Joseph 
by way of Ann Arbor, Jackson, and Kalamazoo.^ Arrived 
at St. Joseph, the traveler crossed the lake to Chicago in 
a schooner or (later) steamboat plying between these points; 
while those who followed the Chicago Road to Niles some- 
times abandoned it here in favor of a passage by boat down 
the St. Joseph and thence across the lake. 

The history of travel on the Great Lakes would in itself 
afford material for an interesting volume. The first vessel 
other than the bark canoe of the red man to plow the waters 
of the Upper Lakes was the tiny sailboat launched by the 
redoubtable La Salle in 1679, within sound of the thunder 
of Niagara, to be used in prosecuting the fur trade. La Salle's 

'Many, destined for Wisconsin points, landed at Milwaukee or some other Wisconsin 
port. But the great line of lake travel was between Buffalo, and Chicago, and many, even 
of those who expected to find homes in Wisconsin, terminated their lake voyage at Chicago. 

'The present track of the Michigan Central Railroad is substantially identical with this 
route as far west as Niles. 

34 



THE ROAD TO CHICAGO 

Griffin sailed as far as Green Bay, but on the return journey 
to Niagara with her maiden cargo, vessel and crew alike 
vanished from human ken. Thus began, with the first sail- 
boat on the Upper Lakes, the still-lengthening role of mari- 
time tragedies which characterizes the navigation of these 
inland seas. Through the French and British periods and 
into the nineteenth century, tiny successors of the Griffin 
continued to sail the lakes in slowly increasing numbers, 
catering to the wants of the fur trade and the remote inte- 
rior garrisons. 

The advent of steam-propelled vessels, which closely 
coincided with the building of the Erie Canal, marked the 
opening of a new era in the navigation of the lakes, and in 
the development of their tributary regions. Although the 
earlier steamboats were but small and of poor construction, 
and equipped with engines so feeble as to be unable at times 
to breast the current of the western rivers or tempests on 
the lakes,! they nevertheless signalized the advent of a 
power which ignored the vagaries of the wind, and given 
stouter vessels and more powerful engines, would ignore 
the violence of the tempest as well. Travel on the lakes 
became, for the first time, a matter of reasoned calculation 
and men laid their plans for a journey with fair assurance 
of completing it according to schedule. 

The first steamboat to make its appearance on Lake 
Erie was the Walk-in-the -Water in 1818 — named not with 
reference to its rate of progress, but in honor of an Indian 
chief. Probably no government inspector could be found 
today so venial or with standards so lenient as to permit 
the Walk-in-the-Water to navigate on a mill-pond; yet for 

'Ludicrous stories abound in the narratives of travelers concerning the construction and 
operation of early western steamboats. The steamer Catfish, which plied the placid Illinois 
in 1836, was capable of attaining a speed of "six miles an hour down stream." The boat 
had acquired its singularly unpoetic name from the close resemblance of its bow — having 
no deck forward and with hold exposed to the elements — to the mouth of a catfish. Noah 
M. Ludlow, pioneer western dramatist, tells of a steamboat journey up the Cumberland 
River in 1822, whereon after repeated vain attempts to breast the current the captain at 
length procured the aid of two yoke of oxen, and the vessel under combined steam and bull- 
power moved triumphantly on her way. 

35 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

several years, until she finally foundered, this tiny vessel, 
plying between Buffalo and Detroit, was the only steam- 
boat on the Upper Lakes. Not until 1827 did a steamboat 
enter Lake Michigan, and five years more elapsed before 
one reached the head of the lake. 

The first steamers that ever made the port of Chicago 
were those composing the tiny fleet which bore General 
Scott's army westward to the scene of the Black Hawk 
War in the summer of 1832. Strictly speaking there was 
then no "port" to make, since the bar precluded entrance 
into the river, and the vessels anchored in the open lake, 
the passengers and baggage being transferred to land in 
rowboats. The following year, however, saw the beginning 
of a harbor at Chicago, coincident with the setting in of 
the first great tide of immigration. Lake traflic, like all 
things else connected with Chicago, rapidly increased, and 
new vessels were put in service to meet the ever-rising demand 
for shipping. For many years, however, the demand con- 
tinued to outrun the supply; sailing vessels continued to 
transport the larger part of the freight on the lakes, and 
even much of the passenger traffic. 

As trade and travel increased, contemporary observers 
found the resources of the language inadequate to afford 
expression to the feelings of admiration and amazement 
excited by the spectacle of the scores of freighters and **pala- 
tial" passenger boats which vexed the blue waters of the 
lakes. For several years Chicago had no appreciable export 
trade, and vessels eastward bound resorted to the sand of 
the lakeshore for ballast. With the filling up of the inte- 
rior, however, and the development of a system of radial 
highways giving it access to Chicago, was begun the process 
which in less than a generation was to make the city the 
greatest provision market, and one of the greatest ports, 
on the globe. Ten years after the first export statistics were 
recorded at Chicago in 1836, there were 1,400 departures 
of vessels from the harbor in a single season, while fifty 

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THE ROAD TO CHICAGO 

years after the coming of the first steamboat there were 
over 26,000 arrivals and clearances of vessels, a number 
greatly in excess of the totals for San Francisco, New Orleans, 
and New York combined. 

Although western steamboats were characterized, in the 
florid newspaper allusions of the time, by such adjectives 
as "palatial" and "magnificent," the emigrant who entrusted 
himself and family to their custody encountered a multi- 
tude of hazards and discomforts unknown to the present 
generation. In particular, to the numerous ills of sailboat 
travel, was added the new and ever-present menace of 
destruction by fire. With no government inspection either 
of the construction or the operation of steamboats, the 
natural greed of unrestrained competition on the part of 
builders and operators alike, led to disasters of appalling 
magnitude and frequency. To elucidate the complaisance 
of the long-suffering public under the accumulated hazards 
and ills to which all who traveled on the lakes were exposed 
would afford the theme for an interesting study; more sig- 
nificant is it here to note, however, that on occasion even 
the easy-going good nature of the age of Jacksonian dem- 
ocracy revolted, and a numerously signed "card" would 
appear in some paper published at the port where the voy- 
age terminated, retailing to the public the woes experienced 
on the passage from the misconduct of the captain, or the 
miserable character of the vessel. 

Whatever their starting point might be, all land high- 
ways leading toward Chicago converged sooner or later 
upon the great thoroughfare between Detroit and Chicago 
familiarly known as the "Chicago Road," which consti- 
tuted, in effect, an extension of the Erie Canal and the 
Genesee Pike. The latter, projected west from Buffalo 
across northern Ohio, crossed the Maumee River at Perrys- 
burg. From this point one route led northward to Monroe 
and Detroit, and another northwestward through Tecumseh 
to a junction with the Chicago Road. The portion of this 

37 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

road through western Ohio was known as the Western 
Reserve and Maumee Pike. Beyond Perrysburg the road 
ran through the famous Black Swamp, which covered much 
of northwestern Ohio. This portion of the route was a source 
of terror to travelers for many years, until at length a 
macadamized highway was built through the swamp. In 
the days before this improvement, the thrifty inhabitants 
of the locality turned the misfortunes of the emigrants to 
their personal profit by providing relief to travelers who 
became stalled in the successive "mudholes." So extensive 
did this industry become, that certain landlords equipped 
themselves with extra yokes of oxen with which to extend 
such assistance, and the rights of residents to the "mud- 
hole" nearest them were mutually recognized. It is even 
recorded that one tavernkeeper, who had long exercised 
undisputed control over one particularly fine "mudhole," 
which he had cultivated with particular care for the profit 
it brought him, offered his interest for sale on preparing to 
leave the country, and actually found a purchaser for his 
self-created franchise. 

The beginning of the story of the Chicago Road is lost 
in the mists of antiquity. Like most great American thor- 
oughfares, it was originally marked out by the red men, if 
not, indeed, by the buffalo. From time immemorial an 
Indian trail had passed southward from Green Bay to Chi- 
cago, and on around the head of Lake Michigan to Detroit. 
Another, known in later years as the Great Sauk Trail, 
passed eastward across Illinois from the Mississippi to the 
head of Lake Michigan, effecting a junction with the trail 
from Chicago as it rounded the head of the lake. At Pare 
aux Vaches — the cowpens — near the modern city of Niles, 
where the Sauk Trail crossed the St. Joseph River, numer- 
ous important trails focused. One ran southward from 
the ancient Ottawa town of L'Arbre Croche above Little 
Traverse Bay; another, from Saginaw Bay southwestward 
across the state of Michigan. Still another came in from 

38 



THE ROAD TO CHICAGO 

Fort Wayne — the Keklonga of the red man — which was 
in its turn the focus of a widespreading system of trails. 

Over the Great Sauk Trail for unnumbered generations 
bands of red men had trooped in single file, intent on mis- 
sions of peace or of arms, until with the passage of time 
they had beaten a narrow pathway deep in the soil. From 
the time of the earliest French occupation of the interior 
the traders had utilized it. La Salle being probably the 
first white man to pass this way. After the establishment of 
military garrisons at Fort Wayne and Chicago, the trails 
between these places and Detroit acquired a new import- 
ance for the white man. Over them passed the earliest post- 
men in the Northwest, soldiers carrying the meager mails 
or official dispatches, between the several posts. School- 
craft, who was at Chicago, in 1820, describes the trail, from 
the point where it left the lake shore at the mouth of Che- 
min River,! as a ''plain horse path, which is considerably 
traveled by traders, hunters, and others." He added that 
numerous cross paths intersected it, leading to diff^erent 
Indian villages, so that a stranger could not follow it with- 
out the services of a guide. 

The Chicago Road, like many another western thorough- 
fare, was originally developed as a military highway con- 
necting the forts at Detroit and Chicago. By the treaty 
negotiated at Chicago in 1821 with the allied tribes of Chip- 
pewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi, the government acquired 
the right to construct and use a road through the Indian 
country from both Detroit and Fort Wayne to Chicago. 
By an act of April 30, 1824 Congress authorized President 
Monroe to have made such surveys and plans of routes, 
of roads and canals as he might deem of national importance 
from either a commercial or a military point of view, or 
needful for transporting the mails. To carry out this work 
the sum of $30,000 was placed at his disposal. Among the 

iChemin River — the river of the road — was called by the English, Trail Creek. It empties 
into the lake at Michigan City, Indiana. 

39 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

routes which the President selected for survey was the one 
from Detroit to Chicago, and one-third of the entire appro- 
priation was apportioned to it. 

The actual survey was begun from the Detroit end in 
1825. The engineer in charge began the work on the plan 
of running the road on nearly straight lines. He soon found, 
however, that this plan, which entailed cutting a vista for 
his compass through the dense timber, and spending much 
time in searching out good routes and eligible river cross- 
ings, would entail a far larger expenditure than the sum 
at his disposal. He therefore hit upon the expedient of 
following the ancient Indian trail. From certain points of 
view this was an excellent plan, since the red men, in laying 
out the trail, had in general avoided the worst marshes 
and sought out the best fording places. They had also 
traversed the most attractive prairies to be found in southern 
Michigan, so that when settlers began to come west along 
the Chicago Road they found the choicest places for settle- 
ment lying directly upon the great interior highway. 

But the trail, viewed as a thoroughfare for the white man, 
had one great drawback; time was of no particular conse- 
quence to the Indian and he wasted no energy in removing 
natural obstacles from his pathway, preferring to go around 
them. The ancient Chicago trail was, therefore, a highly 
sinuous pathway, and if the tales of the pioneers are to be 
credited the survey of the Chicago Road followed its sin- 
uosities with almost meticulous fidelity. Thus, it is described 
by one who came in boyhood to settle with his parents upon 
it as "stretching itself by devious and irregular windings" 
from east to west, looking, when viewed from some eminence, 
"like a huge serpent, lazily pursuing its onward course, 
utterly unconcerned as to its destination." 

From Detroit the Chicago Road passed westward up 
the main channel of the River Rouge and along its southern 
branch to Ypsilanti in Washtenaw County. Here it turned 
to the southwest, passing through the village of Saline and 

40 



THE ROAD TO CHICAGO 

on to the crossing of the River Raisin at Clinton, near the 
border of Lenawee County. From Lenawee the road passed 
into Hillsdale County near its northern boundary, running 
due west to the village of Moscow and thence southwest- 
wardly through Jonesville to Coldwater in central Branch 
County. From here, still bearing to the south, the road 
crossed Bronson Prairie and Township, and shortly after 
entering St. Joseph County came within three miles of the 
Indiana line. From this point to Bertrand on the St. Joseph, 
a distance of fifty miles, sinuosities aside, the route kept a 
due westerly course, passing through the villages of Sher- 
man, White Pigeon, Mottville, Adamsville, and Edwards- 
burg. A few miles west of Bertrand the road crossed the 
state line and traversed the northwest corner of St. Joseph 
County, Indiana. Entering La Porte County, it passed 
southwestward through the famous Door Prairie to La Porte, 
and thence on to the lake shore at Michigan City. From 
this point it followed the beach the remaining sixty miles 
to Chicago. 

Although the government survey of the Chicago Road 
was begun in 1825, the transformation of the Indian trail 
into a highway for civilized travel was made only gradually 
with the settlement of the adjoining country. Not until 
1832 was the survey completed through western Michigan, 
but a semi-weekly stage had been running out of Detroit 
to Ypsilanti and Tecumseh as early as 1830. In 1832 the 
stage line was extended to Niles, the trip between this place, 
and Detroit being made, when no mishaps were encountered, 
in three days' time. This was the year both of the cholera 
and the Black Hawk War, and in consequence of these twin 
scourges settlement and travel along the Chicago Road 
were much retarded. With the increased migration which 
set in the following year, however, stage facilities between 
Detroit and Chicago underwent a marked development. 
A tri-weekly line of stages between Detroit and Niles was 
established, with Concord coaches and stage wagons, and 

41 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

changes of teams at the end of every twelve or fifteen-mile 
section. In September, stage service was established for 
the first time between Chicago and Niks. We are fortu- 
nate in having the narratives of two English travelers who 
went through on the first stage, each of whom went home 
and wrote a book upon his American experiences. So deep 
was the impression made upon each by the vicissitudes of 
the journey from Niles to Chicago that their narration 
occupies no inconsiderable portion of each volume. 

In 1834, the various interests engaged in operating stages 
upon the Chicago Road were consolidated under the name 
of the Western Stage Company, with headquarters at Detroit. 
The route was soon parceled out into sections, and the 
western portion, between Jonesville and Chicago, placed 
under the superintendency of William Graves, with head-. 
quarters at Niles. Travel had increased so much by 1835 
that daily stages were run from Chicago to Detroit, and 
travelers were compelled to make reservations in advance 
in order to secure seats. So great was the pressure that 
places in the coaches became an object of speculation. Later 
in the season a double daily was put on the road, and in 
addition to this service "extra" wagons were often called 
into requisition to transport the throngs of passengers. 

Of the stream of settlers which poured westward over the 
famous old highway from 1833 onward, interesting glimpses 
have been preserved in the journals of certain travelers of 
the time. The Chicago Road was at this period one of the 
great thoroughfares of the country, and the migration which 
poured along it into the newer West was no less significant 
or picturesque than that which at a somewhat later period 
was to immortalize the Oregon Trail. Some indication of 
its volume may be gained from the figures given us by Amos 
A. Parker, who in 1834 made a tour from New Hampshire 
west to Chicago and southward to Texas. He records that 
80,000 western immigrants embarked from the port of 
Buffalo alone that season; no exact figures could be given 

42 



THE ROAD TO CHICAGO 

of the number who continued the journey by land along 
the south shore of Lake Erie, but an observer informed 
the writer that he had counted 250 wagons in a single day. 
This statement finds support in the record of a pioneer who 
settled at Jonesville in 1836 that "a line of wagons almost 
continuous" passed through the village daily. 

The first real improvement of the Chicago Road came 
with the establishment of stage coach service upon it. This, 
as we have seen, was begun at the Detroit end of the line 
in 1830, and gradually extended westward to Chicago in 
the autumn of 1833. To fulfill their contracts for carrying 
the mail the contractors must send the stages through, and 
they consequently made such minimum improvements as 
were calculated to insure this result. The comfort of the 
passengers was, of course, quite another matter; not even 
the most enthusiastic optimist would have ventured to under- 
write this. 

As late as December, 1836, a Detroit paper described the 
oldest-settled portion of the road lying between that city 
and Ypsilanti, as resembling at times the route of a retreat- 
ing army, "so great is the number of wrecks of different 
kinds which it exhibits." Six months earlier than this, 
in June, 1836, the talented English writer, Harriet Martineau, 
had traveled from Detroit to Chicago, making the journey 
in an *'extra" supplied by the stage company for the use of 
her party. As soon as they entered the woods outside Detroit 
the road became "as bad as roads ever are." Soon some- 
thing snapped, and the driver of the vehicle cried out that 
they were "broke to bits." Repairs were made, and the 
stage proceeded, only to encounter a second breakdown 
before noon. "Juggernaut's car," observes the author, 
"would have been 'broke to bits' on such a road." 

Jonesville was reached on the second day, with no mis- 
hap more serious than running over a hog in the road. But 
the road the third day between Jonesville and Sturgis 
Prairie, proved "more deplorable than ever." The passengers 

43 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

were several times compelled to leave the coach while it 
passed the more dangerous places, and these quagmires 
were, naturally, the places most difficult for pedestrians 
to negotiate. "Such slipping and sliding; such looks of 
despair from the middle of a pond; such shifting of logs, and 
carrying of planks, and handing along the fallen trunks of 
trees'* as ensued, might well have discouraged any traveler 
less persistent than Miss Martineau. 

From Detroit to Michigan City the country through 
which the Chicago Road passed presented the usual alterna- 
tion of woodland and prairie, whose deep rich soil held much 
of promise to the farmer, but of woe to the traveler. From 
Michigan City, where the road gained the shore of Lake 
Michigan, to Chicago the character of the highway was 
completely changed. Nature has made of this section of 
the Lake Michigan shore line a vast accumulation of sand 
hills, whose plant life and geological formations combine 
to produce an environment of peculiar character and interest. 
The ancient trail clung to the sandy shore of the lake all the 
way from Michigan City to Chicago, and for some years 
this was the route of the Chicago Road. Viewed as a high- 
way, its character varied with changing weather conditions, 
from that of a splendid boulevard to the most exhausting 
and tedious roadbed known to civilized travel. "While we 
kept at the water's edge," records an immigrant of 1834, 
"with gentle swells rolling in among the horses' feet, the 
wheels of our stage would hardly leave a mark on the wet 
sand, while fifty feet inland the dry sand was nearly im- 
passable." "After a northwest storm," relates another 
pioneer, "when the sand was packed by the waves, the 
drive was just splendid; but when the sand was dry and 
loose it was just horrible. A good team would make the 
distance [from Michigan City to Chicago] in six hours when 
the way was all right, and it was a six days' good drive 
when the way was all wrong." 

How quickly it might on occasion change from one condi- 

44 



THE ROAD TO CHICAGO 

tlon to the other Is graphically revealed in Charles Fenno 
Hoffman's narration of a trip to Chicago in December, 
1833. Near Michigan City the exhausted horses proved 
unable longer to pull the stage-coach and the travelers, 
despairing at length of making further progress with the 
vehicle, abandoned it and mounted the horses. They gained 
the lake shore just at sunset, and the horses sank to the fet- 
locks in the deep sand, compelling them to proceed as close 
to the water's edge as possible. Before long, however, the 
beach for twenty yards from the surf was frozen hard as 
stone, so that "the finest macadamized road in the world" 
would not compare with it. Over this magnificent highway, 
lighted by the stars of heaven, the travelers rapidly galloped 
the intervening miles to their destination for the night. 

Apparently the way was more often "all wrong" than 
right, however, for before many years the stage abandoned 
the beach in favor of a route by way of Baillytown, Thorn- 
ton, and Blue Island. On both the beach route and the newer 
one the crossing of the Calumet River was a point of much 
concern to travelers. The river itself was unfordable but 
where it debouched into the lake the combined action of 
river and lake currents had caused a sandbar to be built 
up beneath the water of the lake on which it was possible 
for a driver who knew the way to pass around the mouth of 
the stream. Since the location of the bar was continually 
shifting, however, and since strangers could not in any 
event be familiar with it, this excursion into the waters of 
Lake Michigan was always an adventure of no slight con- 
sequence. 

Of one such passage made in the spring of 1835 by a youth 
of nineteen years, a vivid recollection was retained for more 
than half a century. The narrator of the incident had fallen 
in with a Virginian en route to Illinois with a prairie schooner 
which contained, in addition to material trappings, his 
wife and numerous daughters. They had never seen a large 
body of water before, and gratefully accepted our pioneer's 

45 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

offer of assistance in passing the mouth of the Calumet. 
His wagon, drawn by oxen, was first driven successfully 
over its dangerous course. When it came the turn of the 
Virginian's wagon, however, the women begged the guide 
to draw nearer the shore. In response to their pleadings he 
precipitated them into the very danger they sought to avoid, 
for the bar was formed at the point where the river current 
lost its force, and the course of safety lay well out in the 
lake away from the mouth of the river. Veering in too 
close, the wheels sank in the softer sand near the river and 
wagon and freight were stalled. Into the water to his arm- 
pits plunged the guide, an extra yoke of oxen was attached, 
and the wagon with its cargo of panic-stricken women was 
pulled safely to shore. 

When the stage road was moved inland from the lake 
shore, about the year 1837, it crossed the Calumet on a 
bridge of such wondrous construction that memories of its 
passage were stamped indelibly on the minds of the pioneers. 
The structure was over sixty rods long, built of poles through- 
out. Cribs were built of poles for piers, poles were used 
for stringers, and small poles and split timbers were laid 
across these to form the floor. One pioneer, familiar with 
the lake passage around the mouth of the river, had far more 
fear of the **ever-to-be-remembered-by-those-who-crossed-it" 
bridge. The effect produced upon travelers by the first 
sight of the structure is sufficiently indicated in the simple 
record that they commonly walked across it, rather than 
ride over in the vehicle. On one occasion a woman and 
young child came along, and just before reaching the bridge 
encountered a hornet's nest. The maddened horses dashed 
over the crazy, swaying structure at full speed, while the 
woman, unable to check them, in some way managed to 
place the child on the bottom of the wagon and holding it 
down with her feet to save it from being jolted overboard, 
clung grimly to the reins throughout her perilous ride. To 
the chronicler it seemed that a special Providence must 
have intervened to save the couple from destruction. 

46 



THE ROAD TO CHICAGO 

The Chicago Road was the first highway in the North- 
west to yield to the advance of the iron horse, which was 
shortly to relegate the stage coach to oblivion. Across the 
ocean George Stephenson in 1829 had made his famous trial 
trip with the "Rocket" on the Liverpool and Manchester 
Railroad, and in the autumn of 1830 the first regular rail- 
way passenger service in the world was established by this 
line. Within a year and a half from this time the territorial 
legislature of Michigan granted a charter for the construc- 
tion of a railroad from Port Lawrence (now Toledo) north- 
westward to the village of Adrian, and thence to some point 
on the Kalamazoo River. The road was to be known as 
the Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad, and the charter per- 
mitted the use of animals, locomotives, or any other force 
as a motive power. 

For several years after the granting of the charter the 
project slumbered, but in 1836 ten miles of line were put in 
operation and the following year twenty-three miles more, 
completing the road as far as Adrian. Until August, 1837, 
horses supplied the motive power on this, the first railroad 
of the Northwest. Then a locomotive which had been con- 
tracted for in the East was put in operation, and some time 
later a second engine was procured. 

The equipment and operation of this first western rail- 
road bore but a remote resemblance to the railways of the 
twentieth century. The engines were about twenty horse- 
power, and six cars of two tons capacity made a good-sized 
train. The first passenger coach was a three-compartment 
affair of twenty-four passenger capacity, whose appearance 
somewhat resembled a dwelling house of gothic design. 
The engine was a wood burner with an enormous stack, its 
fuel being procured from the forests adjoining the right of 
way and its water from the wayside ditches. The track 
was ironed with flat bars, known as "strap rail." The ends 
of these, torn from the stringers by the passing wheels, 
were not infrequently projected upwards through the bottom 

47 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

of the car with the force of a catapult, impaling with neat- 
ness and dispatch, the traveler who might be so unfortunate 
as to come in their way. 

On receiving its locomotive the railroad company adver- 
tised, with evident satisfaction, "Toledo to Adrian — thirty- 
three-miles — and return the same day!!!!" This schedule, 
however, must be regarded in the light of an ideal rather 
than a regular performance. No time of departure or arrival 
of trains was announced, and the narratives of travelers 
over the line seem to indicate that an old cut which pic- 
tures a farm wagon briskly drawn along by the trotting horses 
in the van of the puffing locomotive was not wholly a matter 
of the artist's imagination. A passenger who made the 
journey in the winter of 1841 relates that ten hours were 
consumed in the outward trip from Toledo to Adrian. The 
return was begun at seven o'clock in the evening and the 
train "worked its way along the ice-covered track until we 
got out of wood and water, when we picked up sticks in the 
woods and replenished the fire, and with pails dipped up 
water from the ditches and fed the boiler, and made another 
run toward Toledo. Passing Sylvania, we got the train to 
a point four miles from Toledo, when being again out of 
steam, wood, and water, we came to the conclusion that it 
would be easier to foot it the rest of the way than try to 
get the train along any farther. So we left the locomotive 
and cars standing upon the track and walked into the city, 
reaching there at about 2:30 A. M." 

But the railroad, however primitive, was a marked im- 
provement upon the highway which it had succeeded. A sig- 
nificant indication of this fact is afforded by the statement 
that immediately upon its completion the price of Syracuse 
salt at Adrian fell from fifteen to nine dollars a barrel. In 
1837 the road advertised that emigrants for Indiana, Illi- 
nois, and western Michigan would save two days' time by 
patronizing it instead of taking the routes hitherto trav- 
eled. At Adrian connection was made with stages "for the 

48 




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THE ROAD TO CHICAGO 

West, Michigan, Chicago, and Wisconsin Territory" — run- 
ning, of course, over the Chicago Road. Although the panic 
of 1837 brought financial embarrassment to the road, its 
demonstrated success as a carrier of passengers and com- 
merce spurred the business men of Detroit to emulate the 
example set them by residents of Adrian and Port Lawrence, 
and in February, 1838, the first train ran from Detroit to 
Ypsilanti over a track which has since evolved into the 
Michigan Central Railroad. 

Meanwhile, in March, 1837, under the urge of the internal 
improvement craze of the time, the legislature had made 
provision for no less than three railroad lines across the 
infant state, a "southern," a "central," and a "northern," 
road. The "central," whose opening as far as Ypsilanti we 
have already noted, was to cross the state on the line of 
the Territorial Road to its western terminus at the mouth 
of the St. Joseph River. The southern road was to run 
from Monroe on Lake Erie to New Buffalo on Lake Michi- 
gan. Work on these several lines was begun hopefully 
enough, but the financial crisis which soon ensued involved 
almost endless delay and difficulty. On the last day of the 
year 1840, notwithstanding, the southern line ran its first 
train into Adrian. 

In May, 1842, the state commission, which had operated 
the road thus far, placed a superintendent in charge of it. 
He proved to be an efficient executive, who brought about a 
material improvement in the condition of the road. Upon 
taking charge he found the line in possession of two loco- 
motives, three passenger cars, and a number of freight 
cars. He succeeded in establishing direct steamboat con- 
nections between Buffalo and Monroe, and promptly put 
forth, for the beguilement of travelers, an expansive adver- 
tisement of the "most direct, expeditious, and, safest" route 
for passengers to Indiana, Illinois, and other western points. 
In September, 1843, the line was opened to Hillsdale, and 
to care for the increased traffic additional cars and a third 

49 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

engine were purchased. Until this time the passenger cars 
in use were built on the plan of the cars first used on the Erie 
and Kalamazoo, having four compartments in each of which 
were two seats facing each other, with room for four persons 
in a seat. The compartment was entered by a side door, 
and had a running board along each side, along which the 
conductor walked when engaged in collecting tickets. The 
new cars were built on the general plan of modern passenger 
coaches, being open from end to end, and having seats on 
either side of a central aisle. 

Hillsdale continued for several years to be the western 
terminus of the road, and from this point travelers for the 
West must still proceed by stage or other conveyance over the 
Chicago Road. In 1846, the state, sick of its experiment 
with railway ownership and operation, authorized the sale 
of the southern line, and in December it passed under the 
control of a private corporation. Under its auspices the road 
finally entered Chicago in the spring of 1852. Although 
some settlers still continued to come West over the Chicago 
Road, its traffic henceforth was chiefly local. As a national 
thoroughfare, with the building of the railroads it passed 
into history. 



50 



ADVKRTl.SKMEXT 




TO EMKIRANTS AND TRAVELERS, 

ie Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad is now in full 
operation between 

XOI^KDO AMD AORIATNF. 

hiring the ensninjjf season trains of cars will run 
^^vWily to Adrian, tliere connecting with a line of 
Stages for the West, Michigan City, Chicago and 
^Wisconsin Territory. 

Emigrants and others destined for Indiana, Illi- 
ij.ois and the Western part of Michigan 

; K^^ ^y^l^ ^^'^^ Two Days^^^^i 

find the corresponding expense, by taking this 
route in preference to the niore lengthened, tedious 
•and expensive route heretofore traveled. 

All baggage at the risk of the owners. 

EllWARD BISSELL,) Commissioners 
W. P. DANIELS, '-E. c^ K. R. R. 
(rEORGE CRANE, ) Co. 

A. HUUIIES, Superintendent Western Stage 
Company. 



AN EARLY ADVERTISEMENT OF THE ERIE A\D KALAMAZOO RAILROAD 

The cut of the passenger coach is purely conventional, being modeled after the earlier 

stage coach. The coaches actually used on this road are shown in the 

following illustration. 



CHAPTER III 

THE VINCENNES TRACE 

THE birth of modern Chicago in 1833 was directly occa- 
sioned by the tide of settlement which poured westward 
by way of the Great Lakes in the years immediately sub- 
sequent to the opening of the Erie Canal. But the earliest 
advance of white settlement into the Chicago area was 
made by men of southern birth and lineage, who about the 
close of the War of 1812 began pouring into the valley of 
the upper Wabash. To them we are indebted for the most 
picturesque and colorful chapter in the life of early Chicago, 
and from the traffic which they carried on have come the 
names of two of the city's most famous streets. 

When, in the latter part of the seventeenth century, the 
French took possession of the interior of the continent, one 
of their main routes of communication between Canada 
and Louisiana ran from Detroit by way of the Maumee, the 
Wabash, and the Ohio to the lower Mississippi. To hold 
this against the encroaching English traders, and to main- 
tain their influence over the native tribes, a line of posts 
situated at strategic points along the route was early estab- 
lished. On a beautiful site 160 miles above the mouth of 
the Wabash was located the post of Vincennes, and this 
became, in the course of half a century, a considerable town, 
ranking with Detroit and Kaskaskia as one of the chief 
centers of French influence in the interior of the continent. 

When New France fell, in 1763, there began for Vin- 
cennes a period of decline, but the glory of the place had not 
yet departed. When, in the Revolution, George Rogers 
Clark laid his plans for the conquest of the Northwest, it 
was his first desire to march directly against Vincennes, 
but conscious of his inability to take the place by direct 

51 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

attack, he turned his course against the Illinois towns. 
These having been taken, and the French inhabitants won 
over to the American cause, Vincennes yielded itself vol- 
untarily to the invaders. A few months later Governor Ham- 
ilton of Detroit descended the Wabash with 500 British 
and Indian allies, and the Union Jack floated once more 
over Vincennes. Upon learning the news of this disaster, 
Clark led his tiny army, consisting largely of French settlers, 
across Illinois in midwinter and suddenly appearing before 
Vincennes captured the British fort, to the great delight of 
the townsmen. Governor Hamilton was consigned to a 
Virginia dungeon as a reward for his inhuman treatment of 
the Americans, and Vincennes passed permanently under 
American control. Thus in the distant valley of the Wabash, 
at a point remote from the English settlements, was per- 
formed a feat which completely broke up the British plans 
for the campaign of 1779, saving the sorely-pressed American 
cause and gaining the Old Northwest for the United States 
in the Treaty of Paris of 1783. 

Under American domination Vincennes attained a new 
importance. In June, 1790, following the organization of 
the Northwest Territory, the county of Knox was created 
with Vincennes as the county seat. Knox County ran from 
the Ohio River on the south to Canada on the north, em- 
bracing, in addition to all of modern Indiana, large portions 
of Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Most of this 
region was a wilderness, of course, inhabited only by the 
Indians. 

On July 4, 1800, Indiana Territory came into existence 
with Vincennes as its capital. It included, besides the mod- 
ern state, all of Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Under 
the vigorous rule of Governor W^illiam Henry Harrison, 
Vincennes was for years the chief center of governmental 
activity in the Northwest. Here was waged the long con- 
test with the great Tecumseh, who had established his 
Indian Utopia at the mouth of Tippecanoe Creek, 150 miles 

5^ 



THE VINCENNES TRACE 

up the Wabash from Vincennes. Repeatedly during the 
years of controversy Tecumseh led his followers down the 
Wabash to pour into the ears of the Governor his scorn 
and defiance of the white man. Yet the latter held steadily 
to his course, which was to eventuate not only in war with 
the red men but with Great Britain as well. In the autumn 
of 1811 Harrison took the field against the tribesmen. 
Advancing up the Wabash, he built Fort Harrison on the 
site of Terre Haute, after which the natives were overthrown 
in the bloody battle of Tippecanoe. It was the opening 
stroke in a war which was to involve the red men in per- 
manent ruin and give to the United States undisputed con- 
trol over the Northwest. To Tecumseh the conflict brought 
a fallen people and a nameless grave; to Harrison, the presi- 
dency of the United States. Of more immediate interest to 
our story, the crushing of the Indian tribes opened the 
valley of the Wabash to the settlers, and with the close of the 
W^ar of 18 12 they began to take possession of it. 

''Over the trail of the savage passes the foot of the white 
man and civilization dawns." So it was with the settlers 
who passed into the valley of the Wabash and thence onward 
to the Kankakee and the Des Plaines. From the falls of 
the Ohio, across southern Indiana to Vincennes ran the 
famous Buffalo Trace, which had been marked out and 
trodden broad and hard by the countless herds of buffalo 
which made their seasonal migrations from the Grand 
Prairie of Illinois to the salt-licks and blue grass meadows 
of Kentucky. Another Indian path ran due south from 
Vincennes, reaching the Ohio River where now is the foot 
of Main Street in the city of Evansville. From Shawnee- 
town, farther down the Ohio, a trail led northward up the 
valley of the Wabash. There were, of course, still other 
routes by which the Indians passed from the Ohio to the 
Wabash, and the latter river was itself a natural highway, 
traversed by the red man and the trader in canoes and by 
the white man in flatboats, broadhorns, and steamboats. 

53 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

The Vincennes Trace was in reality a thoroughfare from 
the Wabash to Chicago. From Vincennes, its southern 
terminus, an ancient trail led northward through eastern 
Illinois to the salt springs of the Vermilion, where the city 
of Danville has grown up. From here it continued north- 
ward, keeping in general to the higher ground which sep- 
arated the streams flowing into the Wabash from the tribu- 
taries of the Illinois. Other trails led up the Wabash from 
Vincennes to the old Wea towns near the site of modern 
Lafayette, and on to the Miami stronghold of Kekionga, 
the site of modern Fort Wayne. From the Kickapoo Falls 
of the Wabash, near Williamsport, Indiana, an important 
Potawatomi trail ran northward through Benton and Warren 
Counties, entering Illinois near the town of Sheldon, Iro- 
quois County. Here it united with the trail from Vincennes 
to Chicago by way of Danville, which in the pioneer period 
came to be known as the Hubbard Trace. At Parish's Grove, 
in Benton County, Indiana, the main Potawatomi trail 
was joined by a feeder which came from the Wea towns. 
In the years when the lordly Potawatomi held sway over 
the region around the south end of Lake Michigan, this 
trail was a thoroughfare of much importance to the nation. 
Running the whole length of the Potawatomi domain, from 
Lake Michigan to the Wabash, it served to unite all the 
villages in this region, led directly to the great fishing and 
hunting grounds of the Iroquois and the Kankakee, and 
connected the different bands with the trading-post at 
Chicago on the north and with the ancient Wabash trade 
centers of Ouiatanon and Vincennes on the south. 

The red man left no record of his travels, other than the 
marks made by his feet in the soil in passing, and for a pic- 
ture of the life of the old trail we must depend largely upon 
the imagination. Over it, undoubtedly, passed the Wea 
war bands to Chicago in 17 15, stirred up by the French 
to aid in the proposed extermination of the Foxes of Wis- 
consin. The hopeful enterprise totally miscarried, but a 

54 



THE VINCENNES TRACE 

few years later, in 1730, warriors from the Wabash partici- 
pated in the great siege and destruction of the Foxes by 
the French and their red allies in the vicinity of Starved 
Rock. An expedition of different character over the ancient 
trace was that of Captain Heald of Fort Dearborn, who in 
the spring of 181 1 brought his charming bride on horseback 
through the wilderness from Kentucky to Chicago. In the 
rooms of the Historical Society one still may see the little 
trunk in which Rebekah Heald transported her wedding 
finery and personal treasures on this journey. With the 
bride came Black Cicely, her slave girl, only to die beneath 
the tomahawk in the massacre of 18 12. For that occasion 
the Potawatomi, knowing the hated foe was at last in their 
power, gathered with eager feet from over all their widespread 
territory. Most implacable of all were the Wabash bands, 
who hastened northward with utmost speed along the ancient 
trail to the anticipated carnival of blood, only to learn on 
approaching their destination that the work of destruction 
was over and they had arrived too late. 

Four years later a new Fort Dearborn rose from the ashes 
of the old; the might of the Potawatomi and the Kickapoo 
had vanished, and although they lingered on for a time in 
their ancient haunts the work of dispossessing them was 
about to begin. The period from 18 16 to 1825 was one of 
unprecedented immigration to Indiana, the settlers crowd- 
ing up the southward-flowing streams well beyond the 
center of the state. Near the spot where in 181 1 Fort Harri- 
son had been established as a wilderness outpost, six years 
later the town of Terre Haute was founded and lots to the 
value of $17,000 were sold in a single day. The Indian 
cession which was known as the "New Purchase," opened 
all the lands south of the Wabash to settlement, and led to 
the founding of Indianapolis to serve as the permanent capital 
of the state. By a cession secured from the Kickapoo in 
1820 the Wabash was opened to settlement as far north as 
Lafayette. In 1824 land sales were begun at Crawfords- 

55 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

ville, and this point became the focus for all settlers north- 
west of Indianapolis. Lafayette was laid out in 1825, and 
a year later became a county seat; while two years later 
Logansport was founded at the mouth of Eel River. 

Over the several highways leading to the Wabash poured 
a steady stream of settlers. "Nothing is more common," 
reported an Indianapolis observer in 1826, "than to see 
fifteen or twenty wagons passing in a single day, each carry- 
ing the little belongings of the family that trudges along 
by its side. Indiana is now teeming with the hordes of immi- 
gration. Their destination is the Wabash country above 
Terre Haute."' In the seven years ending with 1827 twenty- 
one new counties were organized in the New Purchase, and 
already their population amounted to over 80,000. Indian- 
apolis had become what it has ever since remained, the great 
focal center of the state, and through it the immigrant 
stream moved westward over the Terre Haute, Logansport, 
and Crawfordsville trails. "Our streets are one moving mass 
of living men, women, and children, carriages, wagons, 
horses, hogs, and sheep," reported an Indianapolis editor, 
"all joyously wending their way to their habitations. The 
old, middle-aged, and young go together." 

Ere long this tide of travel began to press on beyond the 
Wabash, although settlement in Illinois west of the state 
line naturally followed after that in Indiana. The salt springs 
on the Vermilion River were a lodestone which early drew 
settlers into this portion of the Wabash Valley. Here from 
ancient times had been an important Piankeshaw village, 
and here for unknown generations the red men had made 
salt and wild beasts had resorted from all directions to lick 
up the salty earth at the spots where the mineral water 
welled forth. Attracted by these deposits, several families 
began in 18 19 the settlement which developed into the town 
of Danville. It was an important point on the Chicago- 
Vincennes Trace, being itself the focus of a number of trails. 
By 1830 settlers had located in Iroquois County, at Mil- 

56 



em 




THE VINCENNES TRACE 

ford and Old Bunkum, and others were pushing on by way 
of the Iroquois and the Kankakee to the vicinity of Joliet 
and the lower Des Plaines Valley. On Hickory Creek, a 
tributary of the Des Plaines in northwestern Will County, 
Aaron Friend and Joseph Brown had located as early as 
1829. Comparatively little is known of these men, although 
the settlement they began is of much interest to the story of 
Chicago's historic highways. Friend is described by the 
historian of Will County as a "kind of Indian trader." He 
always had a rather rough set of French half-breeds and 
Indians around him, and when the latter removed to the 
West, Friend followed them. It was at the house of Friend 
that the ball occurred in the winter of 1831, the story of 
which Mrs. Kinzie has preserved in Wau Bun. To Hickory 
Creek on this occasion fared three of the five bachelors who 
then resided at Chicago. With their "city" airs and holiday 
finery they had little trouble in winning the favor of the 
girls of Hickory Creek, to the evident chagrin of the uncouth 
males who lived in that vicinity. But the satisfaction of 
the Chicago youths over their triumph was somewhat lessened 
when on going for their steeds, after a night of merriment, 
to begin the return journey to Chicago, they discovered 
that these faithful brutes had been shorn of their manes 
and tails. 

Of Joseph Brown we know little, saving the information 
that he died in the autumn of 1830. His claim to fame is a 
posthumous one. At the first session of the board of com- 
missioners of the newly-organized Cook County, held in 
March, 1831, three voting precincts were created, desig- 
nated respectively as the Chicago precinct, the Hickory 
Creek precinct, and the Du Page precinct. A month later 
the Board made provision for marking out the first two 
county highways of Cook County, designed to connect the 
three precincts which had thus been created. One of these 
roads ran on the line of Madison Street and Ogden Avenue 
to the house of Barney Lawton at Riverside, and from 

57 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

thence "to the house of James Walker, on the Du Page River, 
and so on to the west line of the county." The other road 
was to run "from the town of Chicago, the nearest and best 
way, to the house of Widow Brown on Hickory Creek." 
It was laid out along the line of State Street and Archer 
Avenue. 

The history of State Street will be forever associated with 
that of the Vincennes Trace. For the modern beginnings of 
this thoroughfare we must go back to the closing days of 
the fur-trade era, and the doings of Gurdon S. Hubbard, 
one of Chicago's greatest pioneers. Hubbard was a native 
of Vermont, whose parents had removed to Montreal. Here, 
while still but a boy, he fell under the romantic spell of the 
fur-trade, with its aroma of adventure in distant wilds. 
Engaging as an apprentice with the American Fur Com- 
pany, he was sent out to Mackinac in the summer of 1818. 
Here he was assigned to the Illinois River superintendency, 
and joined the trading "brigade" which each autumn made 
the long journey in open boats down the eastern shore of 
Lake Michigan to Chicago, and thence by way of the port- 
age down the Illinois River. At various points along the 
river trading stations were established, from which during 
the winter the men carried the goods on their backs to the 
Indian hunting grounds. With the opening of spring all 
assembled on the river and the return journey to Mackinac 
with the season's accumulation of furs was begun. 

The chief obstacle to this traffic was the difficulty of 
passing the Chicago Portage. It was bad enough in spring- 
time, when the boats must make their toilsome way against 
the vernal flood on the Des Plaines at the rate of seven or 
eight miles a day, the men wading frequently to their arm- 
pits in the icy water. But in autumn, when the Des Plaines 
had shrunk to a series of pools scattered at intervals along 
the channel, and Mud Lake, between the Chicago and the 
Des Plaines, had become a stinking morass of ooze and 
filth, through which the men must wade pushing the boats 



THE VINCENNES TRACE 

along by main force, and frequently clinging to them to 
escape being engulfed in the swamp, the passage was infin- 
itely worse. 

In 1825 Hubbard was made superintendent of the Illinois 
river trade and he immediately decided to put in force a 
project he had long urged upon his predecessor. This was 
to leave the boats at Chicago on reaching there in the autumn, 
and transport the goods to the Indian country on pack- 
ponies. By this plan not only would the difficult and weari- 
some passage through Mud Lake and down the Des Plaines 
be avoided, but the goods would be taken directly to the 
Indians at their hunting grounds, instead of being carried 
to them by the men in packs on their backs. 

Hubbard had already spent one winter on the Iroquois 
River, his trading station being at the mouth of Sugar Creek, 
a little below the site of modern Watseka. On becoming 
superintendent of the Illinois trade in the autumn of 1823, 
he again located on the Iroquois, fixing his station this time 
at Old Bunkum, on the site of modern Iroquois. Leaving 
Chicago with a pack-train of fifty ponies, which had been 
purchased from Chief Big Foot's village at the head of 
Lake Geneva, he marked out the trail to his Iroquois 
River post. 

From his station at Old Bunkum Hubbard continued for 
several years to carry on his trading activities. A farm of 
eighty acres was put under cultivation, the first in Iroquois 
County, a log house, together with the necessary outbuild- 
ings was erected, and the establishment became the head- 
quarters for the trade of a wide region. Being a man of 
enterprise and ability, Hubbard opened a line of trading 
stations southward along the Indian trail almost to the 
mouth of the Wabash, the post at Danville being the most 
important inland station. From his headquarters at Bunkum 
he visited the several posts as occasion might require, and 
in the spring the furs acquired during the winter's trade 
were conveyed on pack-ponies to Chicago, and from there 

59 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

sent on to Mackinac in the customary bateaus of the trader. 

As the settlements increased along the line of trading 
posts the Indian trade fell off, and Hubbard gradually gave 
up his southern posts. Those on the Embarras and the Little 
Wabash were abandoned in 1827, and shortly thereafter 
Hubbard built the first frame building — a storehouse — ever 
erected in Danville. For over fifty years this continued to 
stand on the south side of the public square. This became 
the headquarters for the Indian trade for the surrounding 
region. The red men would file into town on their ponies, 
sometimes fifty or a hundred in number, with their furs, 
their squaws, and papooses, and for several days business 
would be brisk at Hubbard's corner of the square. The 
days of the Indian in Illinois were numbered, however, and 
in 1832 Hubbard converted his stock into ''white goods" as 
merchandise for white people was called. The following 
year he removed to Chicago, where for over half a century 
he continued a leading citizen of the place. 

The "Hubbard trail," over which Hubbard carried on 
his fur trade during these years was, of course, but another 
name for the Vincennes Trace. From Chicago it ran south- 
ward a few miles west of the state line, passing through the 
towns of Blue Island, Crete, Grant, Momence, Beaverville, 
Iroquois, Hoopeston, Myersville, and Danville. From Bun- 
kum (or Iroquois) to Chicago it was identical with the 
Potawatomi trail from Williamsport and Ouiatanon. During 
the pioneer period it became a great highway of travel and 
traffic between the Wabash country and Chicago. In 1834 
the legislature caused a state road to be laid out between 
Vincennes and Chicago. The commissioners who located it 
tried hard to get a straighter line and better ground than 
the Hubbard Trail, but were forced to follow the old track 
with but little deviation. It was marked with milestones, 
and was commonly known as the State Road. With the 
coming of the railroads the old state road was superseded 
and abandoned, but within the city of Chicago its name 
still survives in that of modern State Street. 

60 



THE VINCENNES TRACE 

Many of the most picturesque incidents in the history 
of the Vincennes Trace are associated with the masterful 
personality of Hubbard. Alone of the fur-traders of Illi- 
nois he successfully made the transition from the trade of 
the wilderness to the commerce of civilization, and won 
prestige and wealth as a leader of modern business. Strange 
indeed was the contrast between his life as an Indian trader 
and his later business career. The trader's life was one of 
continual hardship and danger, not less from the untutored 
red man than from the natural perils of the wilderness. 
Hubbard was a man of indomitable will, and he possessed 
a constitution of iron. While in the Indian country he 
habitually wore a buckskin hunting shirt or a blue capote 
belted in at the waist with a sash, or buckskin belt, in which 
was carried a knife and sheath, a tomahawk, and a tobacco- 
pouch made of mink or otter skin. In this pouch was a flint 
and steel, together with a piece of punk, to be used in striking 
a fire. Underneath the outer garment was a calico shirt, 
breech-cloth, and buckskin leggings. On his feet were mocca- 
sins and pieces of blanket wrapped around to take the place 
of stockings. His head was bare, and his hair was long and 
matted. In winter he carried a blanket, which he sometimes 
wore in the Indian fashion. Clad in such a garb, with face 
and hands browned by toil and exposure to the elements, 
there was but little in outward appearance to distinguish 
the trader from the savage. 

A notable incident in connection with the Vincennes Trace 
occurred in the year 1827. This was the summer of the 
Winnebago War, and the settlers at Chicago were panic- 
stricken over the prospect of a descent of the hostiles upon 
the place. The nearest settlement from which aid might be 
procured was Danville, 125 miles away. Hubbard, who 
chanced to be at Chicago at the time, volunteered to under- 
take the mission. Starting between four and five o'clock in 
the afternoon, he reached his trading house at Bunkum at 
midnight. Pausing only to change horses, he sped on his way. 

61 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

The night was dark and rainy, and on reaching Sugar Creek 
he found the stream over its banks and his horse refused to 
enter it. There was nothing to do but wait until daylight, 
when he perceived the cause of the animal's refusal; a large 
tree had fallen across the trail in such a way as to render the 
ford impassable. Hubbard swam the stream, and at noon 
rode into Danville. A settler at once set out to sound the 
alarm, calling for volunteers to assemble at Danville the fol- 
lowing evening with five days* rations. 

At the appointed time loo men had assembled and organized 
themselves into a militia company with an old Indian fighter 
as their captain. It was, of course, a motley assemblage. 
Some of the men had flint-locks, others muskets, or squirrel- 
rifles, and some no arms at all. Most of the men were mounted 
on their own or borrowed horses; a few began the march on 
foot, but these were soon compelled by the condition of the 
trail to abandon the enterprise. As for rations, each man 
provided what he saw fit, but it is recorded that none were 
without the indispensable pint of whisky to **mix with the 
slough water" they must drink en route. 

The march of this company of frontiersmen over the Hub- 
bard Trace to Chicago presents a good illustration of travel 
conditions on an Indian trail. Although it was midsummer, 
heavy rains had turned the rivers into raging torrents, and 
the sloughs into open lakes. "We swam the former," records 
a member of the company, and "traveled through the latter 
sometimes almost by the hour. Many of the roads were so 
deep that our men dipped up the water to drink as they sat in 
their saddles." 

The story of the crossing of the Vermilion afl^ords one 
picture of what lay back of the laconic statement "we swam 
the streams." Like all the other rivers encountered on this 
journey, the Vermilion was running bank full with a swift 
current. The men and saddles were ferried over in a canoe, 
and an eflfort was made to compel the horses to swim. When 
the force of the current struck them, however, they would 

62 



THE VINCENNES TRACE 

circle about and return to the bank a few rods below their 
starting point. After several attempts had failed in this 
manner, Hubbard threw off his coat and called for "Old 
Charley," a large, steady-going horse which one of the settlers 
had brought along. Mounting Charley, he plunged into the 
water, the other horses being crowded in after him. In the 
swift current Charley became unmanageable, when Hubbard 
dismounted on the upper side, and ignoring the danger of 
being washed under the animal or struck by his feet and 
drowned, he seized the horse's mane with one hand, and 
swimming with the other, guided him to the opposite side. 

Under such conditions of travel the march from Danville 
to Chicago consumed four days. A week or two of guard duty 
at Chicago were performed, when news was received that a 
treaty had been made with the Winnebago, and the Danville 
soldiers were free to return to their homes. Before their 
departure the grateful Chicagoans knocked in the heads of 
barrels of whisky, gin, and brandy, and all indulged in a 
glorious drinking bout. It is pleasant to be able to record 
that after the lapse of many years the men who took part in 
this campaign were rewarded for their services by the grant 
of eighty acres of bounty land. No textbook heralds to the 
rising generation the fame of Gurdon Hubbard's ride to Dan- 
ville to bring troops to the rescue of imperiled Chicago; yet 
in comparison with it the "midnight ride" of Paul Revere 
was merest child play. 

A character whose memory is forever bound up with those 
of Hubbard and the Vincennes Trace is the gentle Indian 
maid, Watseka, who was born at the Indian village on the 
site of old Bunkum about the year 1810. Competition was 
fierce in the Indian trade, and the trader who could win the 
friendship of a chief enjoyed an advantage over his com- 
petitors which was not to be ignored. In savage, as in civilized 
life, the favor of royalty is best secured and cemented through 
marriage alliances. In accordance with the custom of the 
forest, therefore, Hubbard entered upon a marriage of con- 

63 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

venience by taking to wife a relative of Tamin, chief of the 
Kankakee band of Potawatomi. It was Tamin's first desire 
that Hubbard should wed his own grown daughter, but for 
reasons which may easily be imagined the latter declined this 
alliance. Instead he indicated his willingness to marry 
Tamin's niece, Watseka, then a child of ten years of age. A 
pledge to do so was given, and when the girl had arrived at 
the age of fourteen or fifteen years she was brought to Hubbard 
by her mother and the marriage was consummated. 

Over this union, as over the career of Watseka, hovers much 
of pathos and tragedy. Watseka was a beautiful and intel- 
ligent girl, and Hubbard in after years testified to the ideal 
character of his union with her. It lasted about two years, 
during which a daughter was born and died. The advancing 
tide of white settlement spelled the doom of the Indian trade, 
however, and Hubbard, who possessed abundant foresight 
and shrewdness, laid his plans for abandoning his calling. 
This would involve severing his connection with Watseka's 
tribe and taking up life anew in a civilized community. 
Under these circumstances the couple separated by mutual 
agreement, "in perfect friendship," according to Hubbard. 
His account of the transaction is entitled to entire credit, 
yet one can readily imagine that it was dictated more by the 
strong-willed husband, member of the dominant race and 
sex, than by the submissive wife. Viewed from any angle 
it was a hard situation, and Watseka doubtless had the sense 
to perceive that acquiescence in her husband's wishes was 
the only course open to her. After the separation from 
Hubbard she became the wife of Noel Levasseur, whom 
Hubbard left in charge of his post at Bunkum on his own 
withdrawal from the place. After living with Levasseur for 
almost a decade and bearing him several children, this union 
was also dissolved, apparently much as the one with Hubbard 
had been. Watseka, still a comparatively young woman, now 
joined the remnant of the tribe in Kansas, while Levasseur, 
like Hubbard, remained in Illinois and contracted a new 

64 



THE VINCENNES TRACE 

marriage alliance, this time with a white woman. About 
the year 1863 Watseka is said to have made the long journey, 
alone and on foot, from Kansas to her childhood home, 
there to brood over the graves of her people. Sad indeed 
must have been the pilgrimage, and poignant the memories 
awakened by the sight of the scenes of her childhood. Her 
memory is permanently preserved in the town of Watseka 1 
which was named in her honor. 

For many years the only market for the produce of the set- 
tlements on the Wabash was distant New Orleans and thither, 
on flat boats, nine-tenths of all the surplus produce of the 
state of Indiana prior to 1840 was carried. Early in the 
spring, in almost every inland community, the carpenters 
would begin the work of building the arks employed in the 
river trade. The finest poplars of the forest, some of them 
eighty feet or more in length, were selected for the gunwales. 
By the first of March the boats must be completed and at the 
landing in readiness to receive their cargo. The work of load- 
ing them was a stirring community event. The boat-owners 
watched the stage of the river, and at the proper time word 
was sent out over the neighborhood to bring in the produce 
for shipment. Men and women alike turned out, the latter 
to cook for the workers and to assist in wrapping and stow- 
ing away the goods. A barrel of whisky stood open on the 
bank with a dipper conveniently near for all to drink at 

^An Indian tradition concerning the significance of Watseka's name is so charming as 
to deserve preservation. It relates that on one occasion an Iroquois war-party fell upon 
the Potawatomi village situated on the banks of the river a few miles below Watseka, and 
drove out the occupants with great slaughter. The fugitives were collected in the night- 
time some distance away, engaged in lamenting their disaster. A woman of great spirit 
and resolution urged the men to return and attack the Iroquois, who would be rioting in 
the spoils of victory and unexpectant of danger. Since the warriors refused to respond to 
the woman's urging she at length said she would raise a party of squaws and lead them to 
attack the Iroquois; and that since death or captivity on the morrow would be the lot of 
the women, they might as well perish in the attempt to regain their homes. The bravery of 
their wives and daughters inspired the warriors with renewed courage, and returning to 
the field of combat they surprised and utterly defeated the Iroquois. 

The heroine who suggested and bore an active part in the enterprise was Watch-e-kee. 
To perpetuate the story of her heroism the warriors decreed in solemn council that after 
her death her name should be bestowed upon the most accomplished maiden of the tribe, 
and in this way be handed down through successive generations. The last person to bear 
the name — transformed by the whites into its present form of Watseka — was she who became 
the wife of Hubbard. 

65 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

pleasure, and with much bustle and gayety the great work 
was accomplished. 

An indication of the extent of this down-river traffic is 
afforded by the record that as early as the spring of 1826, 152 
flat boats passed Vincennes loaded for New Orleans. A 
decade later it seems apparent that several hundred annually 
cleared from the Wabash. For the boatmen the journey 
was fraught with hardship and danger. River pirates infested 
the downward way, a particularly notable rendezvous of 
these bandits being the celebrated Cave-in Rock on the 
Ohio, near the mouth of the Wabash. The long and tedious 
return journey on foot led through a sparsely settled region 
where lurked highwaymen the recital of whose malodorous 
deeds causes the blood of the listener even yet to run cold 
with horror. Yet for many an inland dweller, like youthful 
Abraham Lincoln, the voyage was an enchanting adventure, 
affording a first glimpse of the great world which lay beyond 
his backwoods horizon. 

The development of a market at Chicago in the early 
thirties afforded the dwellers on the Wabash a new outlet 
for their wares. The down-river trade did not cease, but 
youthful Chicago entered into vigorous competition with 
ancient New Orleans, and more and more the produce of the 
Wabash found its way over the Vincennes Trace to the lake- 
shore market in the huge prairie schooners of the Hoosiers, 
the direct offspring of the famous Conestoga wagons of 
Pennyslvania. 

The extent of this traffic in the early years of Chicago's 
development seems at first sight astonishing. Few western 
communities produced any surplus for export in the earlier 
years of settlement, while most were compelled frequently 
to import even such staples as meat and flour. As lands were 
cleared and farms developed this situation tended to change, 
of course, but so great was the stream of migration into the 
country around Lake Michigan that for years there was a 
steady demand for the staple articles of consumption, which 
the Chicago market was depended upon to supply. 

66 



THE VINCENNES TRACE 

Since the Wabash country had a large annual surplus avail- 
able for export the Hoosiers turned, as a matter of course, to 
the Chicago market. Thither from a distance of 200 miles 
or more they drove their livestock on foot, and hauled their 
wheat and other produce in their huge, slow-moving, covered 
wagons. Their advent was a welcome event to all classes of 
people in the lake-shore city, not least to the small boys, 
whose characteristics were akin to those of the street urchin 
of all times. "The Wabash was our Egypt," wrote one of 
these in after years. "Not only did we derive from there our 
supplies of smoked hams, bacon, poultry, butter, lard, etc., 
but also our dried and green fruit which was brought to us 
principally in the old-fashioned, huge Pennsylvania mountain 
wagons, drawn by eight or ten yoke of oxen or five or six 
span of horses." 

Between the Hoosier wagoners and the city urchins existed 
a deep-seated cause of strife, and the latter labored con- 
scientiously to transfer to their pockets a portion of the 
schooner's cargo of fruit. *Tt seemed cruelty to animals," 
continues the writer already quoted; "to stick a beautiful 
apple or luscious peach on a prong or dangle it by a string 
at the point of a canvas roof, as a sample of what the whole 
load was, and drive through a village with a big whip in the 
hands of a skilful Hoosier. Those Wabash fellows had never 
read 'lead us not into temptation' or they would not have 
done so. Of course they in turn deserved punishment for not 
reading the Lord's prayer. If they read it and deliberately 
disregarded it, they certainly should suffer. The justice- 
loving boys gaily assumed the responsibility of inflicting the 
penalty by filching the fruit." 

The Hoosier in Chicago was as an alien in a foreign land. 
Lanky, good-natured, rustic, and uncouth, of lineage hailing 
from Kentucky, Virginia, or perchance the Carolinas, he was 
the standing butt of the witticisms of the sophisticated 
Yankees of the city. Lumbering along the street "with a tar 
bucket in one hand and a sheet of gingerbread in the other," 

67 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

inquiring of the passing citizen where an ox-yoke or a bucket 
of tar could be purchased, he was hkely to be directed to a 
dressmaking or millinery store; while it was a favorite pastime 
of the city auctioneer to inveigle a slow-witted Hoosier into 
bidding against himself for the possession of some such 
treasure as a red bandanna handkerchief. 

At times, however, the Hoosier turned the tables on the 
more nimble-witted Yankee. A story of one such occasion 
has to do with the building of the First Presbyterian Church 
of Chicago. The infant society had in some way secured 
possession of a lot at the corner of Lake and Clark streets, on 
which plans were made to erect a temple of worship. One 
morning before the work was actually begun, the members of 
the church awoke to find that some enterprising claim- 
jumper had erected during the night a small building on the 
front portion of the lot, and throughout the day the work of 
construction went steadily forward. But the children of 
light proved on this occasion more guileful than their de- 
spoilers. A member of the church sought out the lake-shore 
camp of the Hoosiers and held with a group of its denizens a 
mysterious conversation; its purpose became apparent on the 
following day, when the claim-jumpers awoke to find their new 
store building standing in the middle of Lake Street some dis- 
tance from the church lot on which they had erected it. In the 
darkness of night a party of Hoosiers had quietly yet ex- 
peditiously fastened their heavy chains to the sills of the 
building, and under the motive power of numerous yokes of 
oxen it had proceeded to its new resting place. Immediately 
after this event the members of the church society erected a 
new board fence around their recovered premises. 

The dwellers by the lake-shore might gibe at him, yet the 
slow-going Hoosier brought to early Chicago almost its only 
touch of romantic association. The picture he implanted on 
the memory of one pioneer resident is thus expressed: "Their 
large covered wagons, curved at each end like a Roman 
galley, are seen in our streets no more. The loud crash of their 

68 



THE VINCENNES TRACE 

far-reaching whips is lost in the metropolitan din. The 
whoa-haw, gee as the patient oxen draw their heavy loads, is 
merged in the shriek of the engine that does their labor for 
them. The tinkling of the many bells, suspended from their 
horses' heads, is the charming music of the shadowy past. 
The fires where they bivouaced on Michigan Avenue have gone 
out forever. The scent of their fried bacon and corn dodgers 
is lost in the evil odors of a mighty city." 

The Vincennes Trace was a great thoroughfare leading into 
Chicago from the south. Like the road from the east it 
received many tributaries in its northward course. The 
Indian trail, as we have seen, led almost due north through 
eastern Illinois, receiving at Bunkum a great affluent in the 
Potawatomi trail leading from Williamsport and the Wea 
towns. Illinois in 1834 laid out the state road from Vincennes 
to Chicago, following approximately the course of the Indian 
trail. Indiana as early as 1829 made provision for extending 
the state road from Indianapolis to Crawfordsville over the 
Potawatomi trail to the Illinois line. From Crawfordsville 
the road was to run by Williamsport and "from thence to the 
State line, in a direction to Chicago." Thus was established 
what has ever since been locally known as the ''Chicago 
Road." From Williamsport it ran northwestwardly past the 
site of the modern town of Boswell to Parish's Grove, and 
on to the state line near Raub. An extension of the road west 
of the line joined the Vincennes-Chicago State Road at 
Bunkum, the site of Hubbard's old trading post. 

Although statistics are lacking, it seems not unlikely that 
the eastern affluent provided the major portion of the travel 
on the Vincennes Trace between Bunkum and Chicago. Over 
it, from an early date, a stream of emigrant wagons poured 
northward into the counties of northwestern Indiana and on 
to the still-vacant lands of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa. 
There were whole months, says a local authority, when "at 
any time, on any day," prairie schooners might be seen travel- 
ing across the plains northward from Parish's Grove. "The 

69 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

old trail suddenly assumed a national importance. From 
Ohio, Kentucky, and all Indiana south of the Wabash, a 
tide rolled on that ultimately filled all the groves and prairies 
north of the Wabash, and overflowed into the newer ter- 
ritories to the north and west." 

To accommodate this travel, and to supply the wants of the 
farmers and wagoners who piloted their schooner-laden 
caravans to the Chicago market, taverns and camping places 
were established at intervals of a few miles all along the route. 
The wagoners commonly cared only for a camping place 
where they could tether and feed their animals. They carried 
their own provisions, frying their rasher of bacon, and boiling 
their coffee over the camp-fire around which they passed the 
night. In Chicago their common camping ground was the 
open stretch of dry land between State Street and the lake, 
shore. An observer records that on one occasion, from the 
roof of a warehouse at the corner of State and South Water 
streets he counted i6o Hoosier wagons assembled on this 
ground. Colorful, indeed, must have been the scene presented 
at such times by the fitful light of the many evening fires 
falling upon the white-topped wagons and the clumsy, con- 
tented oxen. The association of the Hoosier wagoners with 
this vicinity has been handed down to present-day Chicago in 
the name of Wabash Avenue, which, like State Street, takes 
its cognomen from the traffic of the old Vincennes Trace. 

On his return journey the Hoosier carried back from 
Chicago such groceries and other "store goods" as the simple 
wants of his family, or the condition of his purse, might 
dictate. Frequently, too, he hauled a stock of goods for the 
village merchant, which had been purchased in New York or 
Boston and brought west to Chicago by way of the Erie 
Canal and the lakes. These things aside, the great staple of 
the return cargo was salt. 

For a dozen years after the Vermilion salt works were 
opened by white settlers they continued to be a profitable 
source of business, and their product supplied the wants of the 

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THE VINCENNES TRACE 

population over a wide extent of country. Prior to their 
opening, salt had been brought from Kentucky, chiefly by 
flat-boats up the Wabash and its tributaries, but the expense of 
this upstream transportation was so great that the use of the 
article was much restricted. Although loo gallons of water 
must be evaporated at the Vermilion works to make a bushel 
of salt, it could be produced much more cheaply than it could 
be transported from Kentucky. People came to the works 
from a long distance in wagons or on horseback to procure it, 
readily paying ^1.25 or $1.50 a bushel for it. Much of the out- 
put was transported down river, also, in flat-boats or pirogues 
to supply the lower country. The improvement of the Chicago 
harbor, however, dealt the industry a fatal blow. Salt from 
Syracuse could now be shipped by canal and lake-boat to 
Chicago, and hauled thence to the Wabash by the Hoosier 
wagoners more cheaply than it could be produced at Danville. 
Hence it came about that the Vermilion works fell into decay 
and the schooners returning from Chicago to the Wabash were 
commonly freighted with cargoes of salt. 



71 



CHAPTER IV 

THE ROAD TO OTTAWA AND THE SOUTHWEST 

OF all the thoroughfares out of Chicago the one of which 
the white man's knowledge was most ancient carried 
the heaviest volume of travel. The first white 
travelers in Illinois were the explorers, Jolliet and Marquette, 
who in the summer of 1673 came up the Illinois River and 
across the Chicago Portage to Lake Michigan. The ancient 
highway from Chicago to the southwest was also unique 
among early Chicago thoroughfares in being a combined land 
and water route, and its story can be adequately told only in 
connection with that of travel on the Illinois River and, 
later, on the lUinois and Michigan Canal. 

Two factors combined to give this early Chicago highway 
the importance it enjoyed. In the first place it was the avenue 
of local communication between Chicago and the older-settled 
communities of central and southern Illinois. In addition to 
this it was a great national thoroughfare, since from about the 
year 1840, with the increase of commerce and travel on the 
Great Lakes, it became a favorite highway between the 
eastern states and the lower Mississippi Valley. An indication 
of this factor is seen in the large number of narratives of 
travel over this route which were published during the period 
reviewed by the present volume. 

The conditions of travel between Chicago and southwestern 
points were determined by the geographical conditions affect- 
ing the Chicago Portage. The portage was, of course, the land 
transit that must be made in the period of travel by bark 
canoe and fur-trade bateau, between the Chicago River and 
the Illinois. At certain times, particularly in the spring when 
the rivers were flooded by the melting snow, boats could pass 
without interruption from Lake Michigan down the Des 

72 



THE ROAD TO OTTAWA AND THE SOUTHWEST 

Plaines and the Illinois. But during much of the year they 
must be transported across the divide between the South 
Branch and the Des Plaines, or even to the mouth of the 
Vermilion, a distance of one hundred miles. 

Coming to the period of modern settlement and travel, the 
utmost point to which steamboats could ascend the Illinois 
was Ottawa, at the mouth of the Fox River. During much of 
the season, however, they could ascend no farther than Peru, 
some fifteen miles below, and when the canal was constructed 
Peru became, much to the disappointment of speculators in 
Ottawa real estate, its terminus. Ottawa or Peru, therefore, 
according to the condition of navigation, was the point of 
transfer from river boat to overland vehicle in the stage 
coach era; and although many travelers ignored the river 
service altogether, going through to their destination by land, 
at Ottawa the thoroughfares between Chicago and the South- 
west centered. 

One of the most interesting accounts of travel from Chicago 
down the Illinois in the primitive period is the narrative of 
Father St. Cosme, the Seminary priest, who came with a 
party of associates from Canada in the autumn of 1698 to 
spread the gospel among the tribes of the lower Mississippi. 
From Mackinac the party traveled in open canoes down the 
western shore of Lake Michigan. On nearing Chicago a sud- 
den gale on the lake compelled them to throw all their baggage 
overboard and draw the canoes ashore in haste to save them 
from destruction. Leaving their servants to look after the 
boats, the three priests proceeded on foot to the house of 
Father Pinet, who had established at Chicago the Mission of 
the Guardian Angel. His house was built "on the banks of 
the small river, having the lake on one side and a fine large 
prairie on the other." Nearby was a Miami village of over 
150 cabins, and a league up the river was another almost as 
large. Here lived Chicago's earliest resident clergyman, except 
in winter when, the natives being absent on their annual hunt, 
he went to spend the season among the Illinois. The visitors 

7a 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

record that little impression was being made on the adults, 
"grown up and hardened in debauchery," but the young were 
being instructed and baptized, "so that when the old stock dies 
off there will be a new Christian people." 

Perceiving that the waters were extremely low, the priests 
made a cache on the lake shore and buried most of their 
baggage, to be sent for in the spring. On October 30 they 
began making the portage to the Des Plaines, but when they 
had gotten half way across they discovered that a little boy 
who had been entrusted to their care had become lost, and 
several days were spent in searching for him. 

The advancing season at length compelled them to give 
over the search, and resume their journey. With extreme 
toil the little party made its way down the Des Plaines, 
carrying baggage and boats much of the way. Arrived at the 
junction with the Kankakee, they were still compelled by the 
low state of the water to proceed on foot, while the men towed 
the boats along, as far as Starved Rock. As an offset to their 
labors, however, game of all kinds was abundant, so that 
there was no lack of fresh meat. A few miles below the mouth 
of the Des Plaines they came upon the buffalo and from this 
point to the Arkansas these beasts were encountered every 
day. 

At Peoria the travelers caught up with Father Pinet and 
another Jesuit priest. Here, even at this early date, was 
evidently a considerable settlement of Frenchmen. These 
bushrangers had taken to themselves Indian wives, whom the 
Jesuits had converted to the faith, so that the visitors were 
much edified "by their modesty and by their assiduity in 
going several times a day to the chapel to pray." 

In all, some five weeks were consumed in the journey from 
Chicago to the mouth of the Illinois. Many villages of natives 
were encountered, who with but a single exception welcomed 
the Frenchmen cordially. "One cannot fast in this river," 
writes the chronicler, "so abundant is it in game of all kinds, 
swans, geese and ducks. It is skirted by very fine woods, 

74 



THE ROAD TO OTTAWA AND THE SOUTHWEST 

which are not very large, so that you sometimes meet fine 
prairies, where there are numbers of deer." 

In the summer of 1821, a century and a quarter after St. 
Cosme's journey and on the eve of the white settlement of 
Illinois, Governor Lewis Cass came up the Illinois from St. 
Louis to negotiate at Chicago a treaty with the allied tribes 
of Chippewa, Ottawa and Potawatomi for the cession of 
several million acres of land in southern Michigan. The jour- 
nal kept by his secretary, Henry R. Schoolcraft, affords our 
last picture of the Illinois River route in its primitive condi- 
tion. 

Between the mouth of the river and Peoria a few miserable 
huts of squatters were encountered, but from Peoria to Chi- 
cago there was at this date not a single white habitation. 
Peoria itself consisted of the ancient French village, begun in 
the days of La Salle. At Starved Rock the canoe was aban- 
doned, and the remainder of the journey to Chicago was made 
on horseback. For a guide the party enjoyed the services of 
Peerish, a half-breed Potawatomi chief, who had passed over 
the route an uncounted number of times and was perfectly 
familiar with every stage of it. In general the trail, which is 
described as **a deep-cut horse path," followed the course of 
the river, although seldom within sight of it, until the Des 
Plaines was forded above Joliet. From this point to their 
destination the travelers were accompanied by an ever-in- 
creasing cavalcade of natives, converging from all directions 
upon Chicago, where the grand pow-wow with the "Great 
Father" was to be held. Mounted on horses and apparelled 
in all their savage finery, with decorations of medals, silver 
bands, and feathers galore, the jingling of their ornaments 
combined with their spirited horsemanship to produce a spec- 
tacle as novel as it was exciting. 

The fur traders, equipped only for water transportation, 
had necessarily clung to the river, but with the white settle- 
ment of Illinois and the change to transportation by land the 
need arose for another and more direct thoroughfare. Even 

75 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

before 1830 a few settlers had located in the valley of the Du 
Page near the northern border of modern Will County, the 
nucleus of the settlement being the beautiful grove just south 
of Plainfield which was long known as Walker's Grove. The 
Du Page settlement was included within the borders of the 
newly-created Cook County, and one of the first two highways 
established by the County Board in the summer of 1831 ran 
by way of modern Madison Street and Ogden Avenue to the 
house of Barney Lawton and from thence to James Walker's 
on the Du Page. 

Lawton was a trader, who dealt particularly with the Pota- 
watomi. As such, it behooved him to locate on a highway of 
Indian travel, and so he had established himself at the point 
where an important Potawatomi trail from the southwest 
crossed the Des Plaines River. His location was twelve miles 
from Chicago on the site of modern Riverside. James Walker 
had located at Walker's Grove in 1828, being perhaps the first 
actual settler in Will County. From Chicago to Ottawa on 
the Illinois in almost a direct route ran the Potawatomi 
thoroughfare known to the early settlers as the "high prairie 
trail," crossing the Des Plaines at Lawton's and passing 
through Plainfield, Plattville, Lisbon and Holderman's Grove. 
The action taken by the Cook County Board in 1831, there- 
fore, was the first step in the transformation of the Indian 
trail into a white man's highway. 

Over this route, on January i, 1834, was despatched the 
first stage coach which ever ran west out of Chicago. Its 
proprietor. Dr. John L. Temple, had secured the government 
contract for carrying the mail between Chicago and St. Louis, 
and for the service he had procured from New York an 
"elegant, thorough-brace post carriage," which had been 
shipped around the lakes from Buffalo before the close of 
navigation. The establishment of mail and stage-coach service 
between these points was a great event in the life of budding 
Chicago, one fairly comparable in importance and public 
interest to the building of a new railroad line at the present 

76 



THE ROAD TO OTTAWA AND THE SOUTHWEST 

day, and the honor of driving the first stage was given to a 
rising young attorney of Chicago, John D. Caton, later and 
long famous as the chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court. 

How far this first coach actually ran is a matter of some 
doubt, but it is clear from the narrative of Charles Fenno 
Hoffman, who essayed to travel from Chicago to St. Louis 
two weeks later, that as yet stage-coach transportation be- 
tween the two points existed as an ideal rather than as a 
material achievement. On a bright winter morning he set 
out from Chicago in a "handsome four-horse coach;" but the 
weather was cold and the snow abundant, and a few miles of 
travel sufficed to demonstrate the unsuitableness of the post- 
coach as a conveyance under such conditions. At Lawton's 
where was the first stage-station on the route, the driver was 
persuaded by the passengers to abandon the coach for a rude 
but substantial sled, in the bottom of which a plentiful bed 
of hay was placed. Reclining on this, and wrapped in buffalo 
robes, the travelers continued the journey in comparative 
comfort. The wisdom of exchanging vehicles was made mani- 
fest when drifts were encountered in which the horses plunged 
to their cruppers, and through which the heavy-wheeled 
vehicle could not have been pulled at all. 

Night brought them to Walker's Grove, where now is the 
town of Plainfield, but which then consisted of two or three 
log huts ''sheltered from the north wind under an island of 
tall timber." In one of these the party found shelter, the 
evening being passed before a huge open fire, whose flames 
shot up the enormous wooden chimney. In the morning, 
after a fruitless attempt by the driver to proceed with one 
team of horses a second span was attached, and the vehicle 
launched out upon the boundless expanse of prairie. The 
passengers, whose number was now reduced to two, beguiled 
the monotony of the long ride through the snow-covered waste 
by playing **prairie loo." This game consisted merely in 
betting upon the number of wild animals which either passen- 
ger should see on his side of the sleigh, a wolf or deer counting 

77 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

ten, a prairie chicken one. The one who first counted one 
hundred won the game, and enough wild animals were seen 
to permit the playing of several games before noon. 

An all day's journey, in the course of which tremendous 
drifts of snow were encountered, through which the horses 
floundered with utmost difficulty, brought the party at sunset 
to Ottawa. On the following day, on stopping for dinner and 
a change of horses at a log house on the prairie, it was found 
that no arrangements had as yet been made for the public 
conveyance going farther. Accordingly Hoffman, who was 
traveling for pleasure, devoted a day to an excursion to Starved 
Rock. Meanwhile the mail contractor, arriving opportunely 
at the cabin, learned the plight of the passengers and at once 
made arrangements to send them forward the next morning. 
They accordingly proceeded in a four-horse wagon with a good 
driver. In crossing a deep frozen brook later in the day the 
hind wheels broke through the ice, and the horses gave such 
a frantic leap, in the effort to free themselves, that the double- 
tree bolt was broken. A substitute was tinkered up, but in 
crossing another stream one of the horses broke through the 
ice and the driver, attempting to jump, was immersed to his 
knees in the icy water. The nearest house was several miles 
away, and although the horses were driven furiously, before it 
could be reached the poor man's feet were almost frozen. 
Fortunately a physician chanced to be at this place, and with 
his intelligent care not only were the driver's feet saved, but 
he was able the next day to begin his return journey. 

In addition to the route from Chicago to Ottawa by way of 
Plainfield, there were two other routes which attracted a 
heavy travel. One of these was identical with the Plainfield 
route as far as Brush Hill; from here it ran west through 
Naperville and thence southwestward through Oswego, York- 
ville, and Newark, following the general course of Fox River, 
until it regained the Plainfield road a few miles northeast of 
Ottawa. As far as Naperville this route was identical with the 
southern stage route from Chicago to Galena, opened in 1834. 

78 



THE ROAD TO OTTAWA AND THE SOUTHWEST 

The junction of these two important thoroughfares made 
Naperville an important center of travel, and here in 1834 
was built the Preemption House, one of the noted taverns of 
the day. The Preemption House is still conducted under its 
original name, being probably the oldest tavern in the state. 
Between the traffic to which it catered in the olden time, how- 
ever, and the travel of the present day a wide gulf lies. Over 
the great thoroughfares leading from Springfield in central 
Illinois and Galena the capital of the mining country, passed 
a constant stream of huge Pennsylvania wagons bearing the 
produce of the interior to Chicago. Naperville was a far- 
famed stopping place and the local historian records that dur- 
ing the season of travel more than fifty "prairie schooners" 
would anchor there every night. Whisky was twenty cents a 
gallon, and they had merry times. Far along the verge of the 
grove their shouts rent the air, and their campfires gleamed 
through the darkness till a late hour. 

The other route between Chicago and Ottawa ran down 
the Des Plaines by way of Lockport and Joliet. The distance 
to Ottawa by this route was eighty-five miles, being several 
miles longer than the more direct roads by way of Plainfield 
and Naperville. Nevertheless much of the travel from Chicago 
to Ottawa and points beyond went by way of Joliet during 
certain years of the stage-coach era. The original line between 
the two points, established by Mr. Temple in 1834 followed 
the more direct route across country and this was the line 
taken by Frink and Walker's stages when they succeeded 
Temple in 1837. Just when the stage route by Joliet was es- 
tablished, or how long continued, it is difficult at this late day 
to say, but Mrs. Eliza Steele's charming narrative shows that 
it was in operation in the summer of 1840, and William Cullen 
Bryant followed it six years later. 

Bryant was a traveler of much experience, having journ'^yed 
to all parts of the world, but he lacked the courage to encounter 
a second time the hazards of the stage ride between Chicago 
and Ottawa, and for the return journey he hired a private con- 

79 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

veyance. His complaints against the public stage were varied, 
and applying the pragmatic test of his own trial thereof, well- 
founded. The vehicle itself, "built after the fashion of the 
English post-coach, set high upon springs," he considered the 
most absurd kind of carriage that could be devised for the 
roads of Illinois. It seemed to be set high in the air in order 
that it might the more easily overturn, and this catastrophe, 
he avers, was narrowly escaped as many as a dozen times in 
the eighty-five mile journey. 

Once, indeed, it was not escaped, for reasons which we may 
permit the famous author to state in his own words. The 
stage had left Chicago in the morning, and toward sunset was 
about to cross for the second or third time the channel of the 
canal below Mount Joliet. ''There had once been a bridge at 
the crossing place, but the water had risen in the canal, and 
the timbers and planks had floated away, leaving only the 
stones which formed its foundation. In attempting to ford 
the channel the blundering driver came too near the bridge, the 
coach wheels on one side rose upon the stones, and on the other 
sank deep into the mud, and we were overturned in an instant. 
The outside passengers were pitched head-foremost into the 
canal, and four of those within were lying under water. \Ye 
extricated ourselves as well as we could, the men waded out, 
the women were carried, and when we got on shore it was 
found that, although drenched with water and plastered with 
mud, nobody was either drowned or hurt. 

"A farm wagon passing at the moment forded the canal 
without the least difficulty, and taking the female passengers, 
conveyed them to the next farmhouse, about a mile distant. 
We got out the baggage, which was completely soaked with 
water, set up the carriage on its wheels, in doing which we had 
to stand waist high in the mud and water, and reached the 
hospitable farmhouse about half past nine o'clock. Its owner 
was an emigrant from Kinderhook on the Hudson, who claimed 
to be a Dutchman and a Christian, and I have no reason to 
doubt that he was either. His kind family made us free of 

80 



THE ROAD TO OTTAWA AND THE SOUTHWEST 

their house, and we passed the night in drying ourselves and 
getting our baggage ready to proceed the next day." 

The second day of travel "over a specially rough road," 
brought the stage coach to Peru late in the night, the remain- 
der of which the travelers spent at an inn on the bank of the 
river, "listening to the mosquitoes." In the light of the 
writer's experience it is perhaps little to be wondered at that he 
declined for the future to venture within an Illinois stage coach 
or that he took pains solemnly to warn all future travelers 
between Chicago and Peru against crediting the "glozing 
tongue" of the agent, promising that the journey would be 
made in sixteen hours, since "double the number" would be 
nearer the truth. 

An incident of the year 1837 which has long since been for- 
gotten pleasantly associates the Ottawa-Chicago road with 
America's greatest orator, Daniel Webster. Disappointed over 
the course of political events, Webster, toward the close of 
President Jackson's administration, planned to terminate his 
public career and begin life anew as a farmer on the prairies of 
Illinois. With this in view he purchased a thousand acres of 
land near La Salle and sent out his son, Fletcher, to begin 
the work of developing an estate. The project which would 
have transformed Massachusetts' most famous statesman into 
a Sucker farmer never materialized, but Webster's interest in 
the western country led him to embark in the spring of 1837 
upon an extensive tour in the course of which he proceeded as 
far west as St. Louis, from which point he began the return 
journey by way of Chicago. Everywhere upon the tour the 
great statesman was received with transports of enthusiasm 
by the westerners, who assembled in vast throngs to greet 
him. The details of his journey from St. Louis to Chicago 
have unfortunately perished, but the traveler can hardly have 
failed to pay a visit to his incipient estate near La Salle, which 
he had named Salisbury in honor of his New Hampshire birth- 
place. He left St. Louis June 14, and reached Chicago at the 
close of the month. On his approach the joyful townsmen went 

81 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

out in a great cavalcade ten miles to the Des Plaines to escort 
him into the city. Before the Lake House a great crowd as- 
sembled to listen to an address on the issues of the day. 
Although the speech has not been preserved it undoubtedly 
dealt largely with the financial panic which had burst upon 
the country since Webster's departure from the East, and 
which was to bring woe and ruin to a large proportion of his 
audience. On July i Webster left Chicago by boat for Michi- 
gan City, where he took up the stage journey to Detroit. 

The journal of a traveler is commonly a two-fold mirror, 
reflecting the writer's own character and standards of conduct, 
no less than it reveals those of the country described by him. 
Of the many travelers who essayed to describe the life of 
pioneer Illinois, none was more sprightly, or more tolerant of 
new manners and customs than Mrs. Eliza Steele, whose 
Summer Journey in the West was made in the year 1840. 
When, at Peoria, she listened to a sermon by a backwoods 
preacher who drew all his similes from rural scenes, she "re- 
joiced that the Lord had placed such a faithful servant in these 
fair prairies." Or when some marvelous yarn was spun for 
the particular delectation of strangers, she listened with good- 
natured incredulity, although even she succumbed to the 
fiction-weaving talent of one uncouth farm boy, who unfolded 
a tale of his wolf-hunting horse who indulged the habit of 
chasing these quadrupeds down on the prairie and slaying 
them *Vith one stroke of his hoof." 

At Chicago Mrs. Steele and her husband had purchased pas- 
sage to Peoria, bed and board included, for the sum of eleven 
dollars each. The stage left Chicago at nine o'clock at night, 
and a twenty-four hour ride brought the travelers to Peru, 
where the steamboat Frontier was waiting to receive them. 
According to schedule they should have reached Peoria early 
in the morning, but a heavy fog held up the boat, and break- 
fast time found them many miles short of their destination. 
At Peoria the "Chicago line" terminated, and the travelers 
were delayed a day awaiting the arrival of a boat for St. Louis. 

82 



r Cawlsota to Ta*avclB«rs, 

r^iR:AVELL!:RS de5i.isi.or to go west \rm 
I i.l '"Chicago bv slaao lo Peru, and ilieace to 
[.Poorinby the JVluil Boat, »re cauiioned ngam-t 
t)u; .!<^ct'!t u ed Jit \hc. "TRiiMONT House," in 
I Cilice; ;>. i.y fho uirent o « lino riinnins; to Peoria, 
[ liy L!!x;;i.'s Ferry, ulio ••?/i«re" lias his ofTicc as 
s;»ii ajrenr will by equivocation and indirect false- ! 
hood give iutormalion leading to the boliet' that 
I there is no regular tta^o direct to Peru, and nl • 
I though he v^ill porhap; avoid direct tidaehood.he 
1 will «o manajie aa lo deceive ihoso who are uiu 
; acqur.intci, and who make no far(her inquiries,) 
\ for the purpose ol gctiinsj tliem to travel in his 
I line round by iJixon to gel to Peoria. As such 
! deceit was .■mcmpicd to be prartioed upon me by 
I said sgerit, iitid by and with the knowledge of 
I the Ck:rk or P.ar keeper of '.he Tremoxt Ilousii. | 
' who knew I wished to go to Peru and Peoria.. | 
Idircc:, and of whom 1 niude inquiry fur the Peru | 
1 oificc. I deem it a duty I ov/c to the Tru.eiliiig-j 
i i'ublic, to put them on their guard, as ihcy wiUJ 
; be iniormcd at the •■Treniont Hout-"e," if iht y | 
; make an inquiry for ih</ Porn oiT.ce, ihut t' is is ; 
the Btnge rdlicc, M;d that we do not kow run toi 
: Pern, owing lo the low s'ate of tl;c river, but go j 
sto Peoria. The oflice ol the mail lino to Peoria 1 
|via Peru, I found near the cornei of Lake and 
I Clarke s:ree's, noiwithsta;uling I w:ia! informed 
iattiie " 'i'renionl IJou^e" thil "//m' was ''the" 
|office— and am informed thai the mail boat 
t; running between Peru and Pe.iria, has not loet 
la trip this season on uccouiU oi low vv.uer. ' 

1 W.S. BROWN, : 

I Of Nfc>.v York. ' 

■ ^Chtcnr:o, Sept. 15,'4I/ d&.w3w } 

\ 0° Advertiser a :id Krce Press at Detroit. Biif. .' 
^faio Adreiti-cr and Grdena Gazette are request- • 
tcd to publish the above 3 weeks and eeod a mod- 1 
terate bill to thi.ss office. ? 

L ... - , J 



COMPETITION IN TRANSPORTATION IN THE 
PIONEER ERA 

A "caution" to travelers between Chicago and Peoria. Repro- 
duced, by courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society, 
from the Chicago American of September, 1841. 



THE ROAD TO OTTAWA AND THE SOUTHWEST 

It proved to be the steamer Home, evidently one of the better 
class river boats of the day; yet some of the things observed on 
it sound strange enough to modern ears. 

On going aboard voyagers were presented a book in which 
to record their name, place of residence, destination and 
politics. Possibly this last detail was due to the intense public 
interest in the "hard cider" presidential campaign of 1840, 
which was then being waged. Turning from the register, the 
eye of the traveler fell upon the printed rules of conduct, 
framed in pink satin and hanging on the wall of the cabin. 
Among other things, gentlemen were forbidden going to the 
table in their shirt sleeves, or from defacing the furniture, with 
pencils or otherwise. "Otherwise" alluded, evidently, to the 
prevalent American custom of whittling. Moreover, no gentle- 
man was to lie down in his berth with his boots on, nor enter 
the ladies' cabin without permission from the lawful occupants 
of that retreat. 

Indications that the travelers were nearing the Southland 
were found on the Home in the form of liquors on the table, 
gambling in the men's cabin, and a black chambermaid, who 
was a slave belonging to the captain. There was also a well- 
known "blackleg" on board, who traveled on the river boats 
during the summer, separating unwary passengers from their 
money by means of games of chance, and in winter retired to 
St. Louis or New Orleans to revel upon his dishonest gains. 
Among the passengers was an old woman who had removed 
from Kentucky to Illinois several years before. She was so 
rejoiced to see a slave again, that she quickly became intimate 
with the chambermaid, and the two would sit together on the 
deck, smoking and chatting by the hour. 

Some statistics recorded by Mrs. Steele shed interesting 
light upon the traffic of the Illinois River at this early period. 
The captain of the Home stated that in the season of 1839 
he had made fifty-eight trips between St. Louis and Peru and 
carried 10,000 passengers. In 1828, the first year for which a 
record was kept, there were nine arrivals and departures of 

83 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

Steamboats at Naples; in 1832, from March to June, there 
were 108; while at Beardstown there were 436 during the 
season of 1836. With the growth of the western country this 
traffic steadily increased, of course, until it was diverted from 
the river to the railroads. 

The opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal to traffic in 
the summer of 1848 worked a revolution in the travel and 
commerce of the Illinois River route. Until this time the 
entrepot of the latter had been St. Louis, but after the opening 
of the canal the trade of the Illinois River became tributary 
to Chicago. Wheat, corn, oats and sugar (the latter from 
New Orleans) were the chief commodities carried northward 
to Chicago, while merchandise from the eastern cities and 
lumber from the forests of Michigan and Wisconsin comprised 
the major portion of the cargoes carried in the opposite direc- 
tion. A steadily increasing proportion of the passenger traffic 
between the East and the West selected the all-water route 
from Buffalo to St. Louis by way of Chicago and the Illinois 
River. To accommodate this travel the canal was provided with 
packet boats, equipped to accommodate seventy-five or one 
hundred passengers. On the river, larger and faster boats 
were provided to transport the traffic between Peru and St. 
Louis. Until 1852 steamers in the Illinois River trade made 
weekly trips between these two points. Now, however, a new 
combination of rivermen reduced the schedule to five days, 
and from this circumstance the organization, known as the 
"Five Day Line," took its name. Among the boats in the 
service of the Five-Day Line might be found such colorful 
names as the Amazon^ the Cataract, the Belle Gould, the 
Garden City and the Prairie Bird. Gould, the historian of 
western steamboat travel, avers that these boats were among 
the finest and fastest of their day on western rivers. But their 
glory soon passed, for by the middle fifties the railroad paral- 
leled canal and river alike, and the through passenger travel 
promptly deserted the boats for the new and speedier mode of 
travel. 

84 



THE ROAD TO OTTAWA AND THE SOUTHWEST 

The change in highway travel southwest of Chicago which 
the opening of the canal brought about was as far-reaching as 
the change on the river. Chicago had afforded the only market 
for the farmers of Grundy and La Salle, and other counties 
even more remote. Now, in effect, the farmer found the Chi- 
cago market suddenly brought to the nearest accessible point 
on the river or canal. Along this route warehouses were erected 
and a market for grain of all kinds was brought within easy 
reach, while goods and supplies of all sorts needed by the 
farmer were easily secured. For the farmers within reach of 
the canal or river, the tedious and expensive trips to the 
Chicago market, which they had long been compelled to make, 
became a thing of the past. 

Passenger travel, also, between Ottawa and Chicago aban- 
doned the highways for the canal. The Red and Green packet 
lines which were quickly put in service were regarded as a 
marked improvement over the older method of land travel. 
"Traveling was placed among the luxuries," writes the his- 
torian of La Salle County. "The change from the ox team to 
the packets was as great to the early settlers as that from the 
boat to the parlor cars has been to later generations." 

Canal-boat travel has long since been relegated to the limbo 
of the past, but we are fortunate in having a detailed descrip- 
tion by an intelligent English traveler who toured the United 
States in 1850, of the luxuries of packet-boat transportation 
on the Illinois and Michigan Canal. The vessel, the "Queen 
of the Prairies," was scheduled to make the journey to La Salle 
in twenty hours, but on this occasion it consumed twenty-five. 
The cabin of the boat was 50 feet long, 9 feet wide, and 7 high, 
and in this space ninety passengers were to live, eat and sleep. 
Their baggage was stored on the roof and covered with a can- 
vas for protection from the weather. 

For the first few miles the "Queen of the Prairies" was 
towed, in company with three other canal boats, by a small 
steamer, but after passing the locks steam power gave place 
to horses, which traveled at the rate of five miles per hour. 

85 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

Soon after leaving Chicago supper was served, "with the never- 
failing beef steak as tough as usual." The meal despatched, 
all the male passengers were ordered on deck while the cabin 
was transformed into a sleeping room. In less than half an 
hour they were permitted to return. In this brief space of 
time fifty berths had been erected, and beds for twenty spread 
on the floor. One end of the cabin had been curtained off for 
the ladies, and the sleeping places consisted of three tiers of 
shelves placed three feet apart along the entire length of both 
sides of the cabin. 

The narrator, being a stranger, was politely offered first 
choice of berths, but "where all appeared equally uncomfort- 
able," he found the process of selection difficult. The other 
passengers made selection in the order of their ticket numbers, 
and all clambered into bed as best they could. With all 
windows tightly closed, the air in the cabin soon became in- 
tolerable. In those days "night air" was commonly believed 
to be highly unhealthy, and although our traveler awoke in 
the morning with a severe headache, the result of the nauseous 
atmosphere, he found consolation in the reflection that he had 
avoided contamination from breathing the "malarious" air 
of the marshland adjoining the canal. 

Sliding from his shelf at early dawn, he washed in a water 
bucket on deck before his fellow-passengers had arisen. 
Shortly after breakfast the junction of the Des Plaines and 
the Kankakee was reached, and about nine o'clock the boat 
arrived at Morris. Continuing at this sedate rate it tied up at 
La Salle at six o'clock in the evening, twenty-five hours after 
the departure from Chicago. . 



86 



CHAPTER V 
THE THOROUGHFARES TO THE LEAD MINES 

THE development of the thoroughfares leading west- 
ward from Chicago was intimately associated with the 
mining districts of northwestern Illinois and south- 
western Wisconsin, whose chief commercial center was 
Galena, situated at the head of navigation on the Fever River. 
Galena is one of the oldest and most interesting cities in the 
upper Mississippi Valley. The existence of rich lead deposits 
in this vicinity was known to the French before the close of 
the seventeenth century. The map of Father Hennepin in 
1687 shows a lead mine in the vicinity of Galena, while the 
journal of Henri Joutel, who spent the winter of 1686-87 at 
Starved Rock, records that travelers to the upper Mississippi 
country have found mines of "very good lead" there. 

A generation later all France was convulsed by an orgy of 
mad speculation whose basis was the supposed mineral wealth 
of the upper Mississippi. This episode, known to history as 
the Mississippi Bubble, soon passed, and although the Indians 
seem to have worked the Illinois mines in their crude way from 
an early period, the earliest white miner of whom we have any 
considerable knowledge is the trader, Julien Dubuque. The 
red men were very jealous of white intrusion in the mines, 
but at a council with the Sauk and Foxes held at Prairie du 
Chien in 1788 Dubuque obtained permission to mine lead 
**tranquilly and without any prejudice to his labors." There- 
after for almost a quarter of a century, from his headquarters 
near the Iowa city which bears his name, he traded with the 
Indians of the adjoining region, buying their furs and lead 
and himself carrying on extensive mining operations. Dubuque 
enjoyed great favor with the natives and before his death in 
1 8 10 he had accumulated a fortune from his combined trading 
and mining operations. 

87 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

Although the Indians had thus admitted Dubuque and his 
French-Canadian employes to the mines, until well into the 
nineteenth century it was exceedingly dangerous for an 
American to establish himself in this region, and it is reported 
that several who essayed to do so paid with their lives for 
their temerity. Following the close of the War of 1812, how- 
ever, the Indians were forced by a treaty negotiated near 
St. Louis in August, 18 16, to assent to American occupation 
of a tract of mining country five leagues square on the eastern 
side of the Mississippi. Since the negotiators were somewhat 
hazy as to the situation of the mines, the more precise loca- 
tion of the reservation was to be left to designation later by 
the President of the United States. This same year George 
Davenport, an agent of the American Fur Company, opened 
a trading post near the mouth of the Fever River and from, 
here he shipped to St. Louis the first flat-boat cargo of ore 
which ever avowedly came from the Galena mines. 

Davenport soon abandoned his location but in 1819 Jesse 
ShuU, who had been trading at the Dubuque mines, on 
receiving assurance that the Indians would not molest him, 
crossed over to Fever River. Several other Americans came in 
about the same time, and this year marks the permanent 
beginning of Galena, and of American occupation of the 
Illinois mines. 

Since this work is not a history either of Galena or the lead 
mines it is sufficient for our purpose to note briefly some of the 
more outstanding facts in the development of the region. 
For several years following 18 19 the mines developed slowly. 
Soon, however, the pace accelerated, and the lead region 
became a center of attraction for enterprising spirits from all 
over the United States, and even from points across the sea. 
The mines of ancient Cornwall supplied their quota, and there 
are today in southwestern Wisconsin thousands of descendants 
of Cornishmen who found their way to the lead mines during 
the second quarter of the nineteenth century. From Missouri, 
Kentucky, and Tennessee a horde of squatters and prospectors 

88 




p^ 



a, 



Z .23 









V PQ 

O 5? 

5 >- 



HJi £ 



o 



O 



THE THOROUGHFARES TO THE LEAD MINES 

came up the Mississippi to Galena, while many from Indiana 
and southern Illinois came overland, following for the most 
part the old Indian trail from Peoria, which after 1825 was 
developed into a wagon road known as the Kellogg Trail. 

Until 1827 the only government was that of the United 
States, administered by the superintendent of the lead mines. 
In this year, however, Jo Daviess County was organized, and 
about the same time the principal settlement on Fever River 
assumed the name of Galena, by which it has ever since been 
known. Here, on July 8, 1828, was begun the publication of 
the Miner s Journal, the first newspaper in the new Northwest. 
Not until more than five years later did Chicago's first 
newspaper issue from the press, and it was eight years after 
the birth of the Miner s Journal before a printing press was 
established at Milwaukee. 

But the period of Galena's glory came with the decade 
beginning about the year 1845. "It was then [from 1845 to 
1856] the most important commercial metropolis in the 
Northwest", writes General Augustus L. Chetlain in his 
Recollections of Seventy Years. "Its trade, which began in the 
later thirties, continued to increase steadily as the country 
developed until beyond the middle of the fifties .... Lines 
of fine steamboats plied between St. Louis and Galena, bring- 
ing in merchandise and general supplies and taking back lead 
and farming products. Then a line of first-class steamboats 
ran between Galena and St. Paul .... I have known in 
the busy season twelve to fifteen steamboats lying at the 
wharf at Galena at one time loading and unloading freight." 

But the same factors which made possible the greatness of 
modern Milwaukee and Chicago sealed the doom of Galena's 
prosperity. Its able and aggressive bankers and merchants had 
developed a wide-ranging wholesale trade, but they paid 
practically no attention to the fostering of manufacturing 
estabhshments. When, in the middle fifties, two lines of 
railroad were pushed from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi, 
one from Milwaukee to Prairie du Chien, the other from 

89 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

Chicago to Galena, the old line of commercial transit by way 
of the Mississippi, on which the prosperity of Galena had been 
built up, was cut across, and the trade of the upper Mississippi, 
instead of following the course of the river as of old, now 
found its way to the East over the new avenues of transit. 
The change proved fatal to Galena; her commercial dominance 
over the upper Mississippi swiftly departed, and the place 
fell back to the position it has ever since retained as a center of 
merely local retail trade. 

Although the railroads spelled the doom of Galena, a stern 
economic contest for the control of the trade of the mines 
had long been waged between the eastern and southern 
routes to the seaboard. The New Orleans market, distant 
and difficult of access as it was, was at best a way-station 
between Galena and the northern seaboard cities which were 
the ultimate source of her commerce. There was, of course, 
an important alternative route by way of the Ohio River and 
thence across the mountains to Baltimore or Philadelphia, 
but this route involved a tedious and expensive land carriage. 
Accordingly, with the birth of Chicago and Milwaukee in 
the middle thirties, the commerce of the mines began to seek 
the new route to the East by way of the lakes and the Erie 
Canal. Although the river route maintained its dominance 
for a decade longer, more and more the lead of the mining 
country and, later, its livestock and farm produce found 
their way overland to Chicago or Milwaukee, the teamsters 
loading their wagons for the return journey with those 
articles of merchandise for which the interior cities and 
towns afforded a constant market. 

We are here observing a contest whose importance far 
transcends any mere local interest, for on its outcome de- 
pended no less a result than the life of the American nation. 
If the Mississippi River had continued to offer to the states 
of the upper Mississippi Valley their sole outlet to the sea- 
board, their economic welfare and therewith their sympathies 
must have remained permanently bound up with that of the 

90 



THE THOROUGHFARES TO THE LEAD MINES 

slave States. The opening of new and better highways to 
the East in the decade immediately preceding i860 freed the 
Northwest from its dependence on the southern route to the 
sea and made possible the stand it took for the preservation 
of the Union in the years from 1861 to 1865. 

The earliest impulse toward opening an overland highway 
between Chicago and Galena came, as might be expected, 
from the latter point. At the time the settlement of the 
mines was begun, the country between Galena and Chicago 
was an unexplored land, which only gradually became known 
to the white man. An indication of this is seen in the fact that 
when Major Long's exploring expedition came to Chicago in 
the summer of 1823 it was only after much delay and dif- 
ficulty that a guide could be procured to conduct the party 
to Prairie du Chien. Six years after this, in August, 1829, 
J. G. Soulard, a Galena business man, despatched a wagon 
laden with lead to Fort Dearborn. According to the Galena 
Advertiser of contemporary date this was the first wagon ever 
to pass between the Mississippi and Chicago. The route 
taken from the mines was to Ogee's Ferry on Rock River, 
eighty miles; thence an east course sixty miles to the mis- 
sionary establishment on the Fox River of the Illinois; and 
thence in a northeasterly course sixty miles to Chicago. 
Ogee's Ferry was on the site of modern Dixon, and the mis- 
sionary establishment referred to was the Methodist mission 
to the red men located near Plainfield, Illinois. The distance 
traveled by this route was 200 miles. The outward trip with 
3000 pounds of lead consumed eleven days, while the return 
journey was made in eight days. 

Whatever the returns of this particular venture may have 
been, the time had not yet arrived for any considerable traffic 
between Galena and the lakes. Not until a port should be 
developed at Chicago, and the machinery evolved for con- 
ducting regular commercial exchanges with the seaboard 
cities, could the trade of the interior find its way thither. 
These things were brought to pass as consequences of the 

9» 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

Black Hawk War of 1832. In its train followed not only the 
birth of modern Chicago, but with the dispossession of the 
Indians the settlers began moving into the country stretching 
westward to the Mississippi. In connection with this process 
the middle thirties witnessed the development of two great 
thoroughfares running west from Chicago with Galena as 
their common destination. For the remainder of this chapter 
it will be convenient to distinguish them as the Northern 
and Southern routes to Galena. 

The first white men to locate in the beautiful valley of Rock 
River were attracted thither by the lure of profits to be 
gained from trading with the Indians. The earliest one of 
whom we have any considerable knowledge was Stephen Mack, 
a native of Vermont, who about the year 1822 found his way 
west to Green Bay. There he was told of the advantages for 
trade which the Rock River Country held out, and procuring 
an Indian pony he pushed through the wilderness to a 
Potawatomi village near the site of modern Grand De Tour. 
Here he located, married the daughter of the chief of the 
band, and for two or three years carried on trade with the 
natives, disposing of his furs at Chicago and procuring his 
supplies of merchandise there. Despite his matrimonial 
alliance with the band, however, some of its members con- 
ceived a dislike for the trader and laid a plot to kill him. 
Hononegah, his wife, learned of this, and apprising her 
husband of the impending danger, the pair sought refuge in 
the Winnebago village at Bird's Grove, where they received 
a hearty welcome and for some years made their home. 

The story of Mack's relation with his dusky wife, 
Hononegah, affords a pleasing contrast to the usual sordid 
tale presented by such unions between the traders and the 
Indian women. She was devoted to her husband and family 
and he repaid her with a like degree of loyalty and affection. 
With the coming of white settlers, her position naturally 
became more difficult, but she won the friendship and respect 
of the newcomers and performed many acts of kindness to 

92 



THE THOROUGHFARES TO THE LEAD MINES 

such as were overtaken by sickness or other misfortune. At 
the same time she did not despise her own race, and while her 
Potawatomi relatives remained in Illinois they often came to 
visit her. To the end of her life she wore the native dress, in 
the contriving of which she exhibited both taste and skill. 
In 1840, to settle any question that might arise over the 
legality of his union with Hononegah, Mack remarried her in 
due form before a justice of the peace. She died in the summer 
of 1847, leaving besides her husband a large family of children. 

In 1832 when the wily Black Hawk was bending every 
effort to induce the Winnebago to make common cause with 
him. Mack exerted all his influence to persuade the band with 
which he lived to reject the war belt. The situation became 
so tense in consequence of this course that Mack's life was 
endangered, and the story has come down that for a time he 
was forced to hide himself on an island in the river, now 
known as Webber's Island, where Hononegah supplied him 
with food until it was safe for him to venture abroad. 

Mack foresaw that a speedy settlement of the Rock River 
country would follow upon the close of the war. Believing the 
junction of the Pecatonica River with the Rock offered an 
eligible site for a town, he located here and in 1835 laid out 
the village of Macktown. He had the town site platted and 
at one time valued a corner lot at |iooo. In 1838 he estab- 
lished a ferry and several years later replaced it with a 
bridge, the first to be built across Rock River in the state of 
Illinois. But with the progress of settlement travel was 
diverted to other lines and the village of Macktown dwindled 
until now nothing but the name is left. 

The honor of founding a great city in the Rock River 
Valley was reserved to Germanicus Kent and Fletcher Blake, 
two Yankees like Mack, who in the early thirties had found 
their way west to Galena. In the summer of 1 834 these men 
explored the Rock River country and determined to locate on 
the present site of Rockford. It was then fondly believed 
that Rock River was destined to become a great highway of 

93 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

commerce, and the newcomers had fixed upon the point on 
the stream supposed to be equally distant from Galena and 
Chicago. Under this belief they gave to their settlement the 
name of Midway. 

Meanwhile other settlements were being established, and 
in January, 1836, the state legislature authorized the laying 
out of a state road from Meacham's Grove in Cook County 
to Galena. The act directed the commissioners appointed 
for this purpose to "view, survey, and locate" the road in 
such fashion as to take in "Elgin on Fox River in Cook 
County, Belvidere on Squaw Prairie, in the county of La 
Salle, and Midway at the ford on Rock River, in the county 
of Jo Daviess." Soon after this, the name Midway gave place 
to Rockford, the derivation of which is sufficiently obvious. 
Meacham's Grove was modern Bloomingdale in Du Page 
County, to which point from Chicago there was already an 
established road. Thus was the course of the northern route 
to Galena officially determined, and the names of State 
Street in Belvidere and State Street in Rockford record the 
fact that they were formerly portions of the old state road. 

The history of both northern and southern roads to Galena 
is interestingly associated with an important episode of the 
Black Hawk War. Andrew Jackson, who was president of 
the United States, was himself one of the staunchest Indian 
fighters the country has ever known. Although Jackson 
had once challenged General Scott to a duel, his impatience 
over the blundering misconduct of the war by the volunteer 
forces was such that he ordered Scott to proceed with a 
force of regulars to the scene of warfare and there assume 
charge of further operations. Late in June, therefore, he set 
out from Fortress Monroe with nine companies of regulars. 
The route taken was by way of Buffalo and thence around the 
lakes to Chicago, which was reached in a remarkably short 
space of time. En route, however, the Asiatic cholera, which 
was then sweeping over the country, made its appearance 
among Scott's soldiers. Scores died, and scores more deserted 

94 



THE THOROUGHFARES TO THE LEAD MINES 

in wild fear of the dread disease. The contagion had not yet 
spent its force when the expedition reached Chicago in early 
July. Fort Dearborn was turned into a hospital and all 
thought of taking the field was given over for the present. 

Within the next few days, ninety more soldiers were con- 
signed to shallow graves on the sandy lake shore. As soon as 
the epidemic began to abate its violence, General Scott moved 
out over the Ottawa Road to the site of modern Riverside, 
where a camp was established overlooking the Des Plaines, 
until the men should be once more in condition for active 
service. Meanwhile on June 29, Scott himself set out for the 
front, accompanied only by two or three staff officers and an 
escort of a dozen men, having left orders for bringing the 
main force on to Prairie du Chien as soon as possible. The 
route taken by Scott was the old Indian trail leading westward 
by way of Naperville to Dixon's Ferry on Rock River, from 
which place he followed the Kellogg Trail, now a well-estab- 
lished road, to Galena. 

Less than a year after Scott's passage, the route he followed 
became a state road — the first from Chicago to Galena. 
Beginning at the corner of Lake and West Water streets, 
Chicago, the surveyors ran the line 102 miles to Dixon, from 
which point they followed the "general line of the present 
road" to Galena. The conception of road making then cur- 
rent is revealed incidentally in their report, which states 
that as far as Dixon the route is over "high and dry" prairie, 
and no expense is needed other than for bridging the streams. 
From Dixon to Galena the route is very hilly but a "tolerably 
good road," and "$500 will probably be sufficient for a good 
road the whole distance." Over this state road was started, 
in 1834, the first mail coach between Chicago and Galena, 
and thus the southern thoroughfare to Galena was established. 

Some days after Scott's departure from Riverside, the camp 
on the Des Plaines was broken up and with a train of fifty 
wagons the army began its advance to the Mississippi. 
Instead of following in the footsteps of Scott, however, the 

95 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

army moved up the Des Plaines to Maywood. Here it turned 
westward, crossing the Fox River at a ford about three miles 
below the site of Elgin. From here the march was continued 
in a northwesterly direction across Kane and Boone counties 
to the Winnebago Indian village on the site of modern 
Beloit. At this place the army rested a week, during which 
time news was received of the destruction of Black Hawk's 
army in the battle of the Bad Axe. There being no occasion 
for further advance, the army now proceeded down Rock 
River to Rock Island, where conquerors and conquered alike 
assembled to fix upon terms of peace. 

As far as Beloit the army had followed an ancient trail 
running from Chicago to the Winnebago village. The track 
made by the heavy wagons in passing over it was shortly 
turned into a highway by the incoming settlers, and was long 
known as the Army Trail. Hezekiah Duncklee, a settler 
who with two companions came west from his native New 
Hampshire in the autumn of 1833, relates that on crossing 
the Des Plaines at Maywood they came upon a "well traveled 
road" bearing westwardly across the prairie. After camping 
for the night in the midst of 500 Potawatomi who were 
assembling at Chicago for the great pow pow which resulted 
in the noted treaty of 1833, the settlers resumed their west- 
ward journey, following this road which was, of course, the 
Army Trail. From Maywood it passed into the southeast 
corner of modern Addison Township, Du Page County, a mile 
or so northeast of Elmhurst, crossed Salt Creek at the village 
of Addison, and passed on through Bloomingdale to the 
crossing of the Fox River south of Elgin. Toiling along their 
way in this narrow path "between two oceans of green," 
the settlers came upon the grave of one of Scott's soldiers, 
buried the year before. Farther west, at Salt Creek, were 
found the tent poles still standing as the army had left them. 

Duncklee and his companions went no farther than Bloom- 
ingdale, which became, three years later, the starting point 
of the state road to Galena. The settlement on the site of 

96 



I 



THE THOROUGHFARES TO THE LEAD MINES 

Elgin was made in the spring of 1835 by James and Hezekiah 
Gifford, two brothers from New York, who could not resist 
the combined attractions of good soil and potential water 
power which the place offered. Other settlers soon joined 
them and within a few months a number of cabins dotted 
the vicinity. The army trail, it will be remembered, crossed 
the Fox some three miles farther down the stream. The 
founders of the new settlement, therefore, staked out a road 
from Elgin east to Bloomingdale, to connect with the trail 
and afford an outlet to the Chicago market. The first im- 
provement of the new highway was made on July 4, 1836. 
On this day the assembled populace of Elgin cut down a large 
tree and with several yokes of oxen hauled it halfway to 
Meacham's, as Bloomingdale was then called. The citizens 
of Meacham's meanwhile were "improving" their half of the 
route in like fashion, and at the point where the two parties 
met the road was formally declared open, and all joined in a 
"grand Independence dinner" of corn bread, bacon, and 
cold coffee. 

Thus usefully did the townsmen of Elgin observe the city's 
first Independence Day. As yet the place had no name, 
although some of the citizens had begun to call it "State 
Road" in the hope, apparently, that a state road would some 
time reach it. Chiefly to the enterprise of James Gifford was 
due the realization of the prophecy expressed in the name of 
the place. By 1836 settlers were pushing on west of Elgin, but 
as yet there was no road other than the army trail. Gifford 
desired to make Elgin a great point on the thoroughfare from 
Chicago to Galena, and he realized that positive effort was 
required to divert travel thither from the line of the army 
trail. To this end he undertook to mark out a road west of 
Elgin for the use of emigrants, and he persevered in his task 
until a route had been surveyed and blazed as far as Belvidere. 
When the commissioners came to lay out the state road from 
Bloomingdale to Galena they adopted, as far as Belvidere, the 
line which Gifford had blazed. 

97 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

Traffic over the Chicago-Galena highway increased, of 
course, with the increasing settlement of the interior until 
diverted to the railroad, which began pushing its way westward 
from Chicago in 1848. Precisely when stages were first run 
over the northern route is not entirely clear. The history of 
Elgin relates that Mrs. Giftord, who in 1835 had ridiculed her 
husband's idea that he would live to see stage coaches running 
to the place, in 1837 could see from her cabin door not one, 
but two, daily stages enter the village with "horns blowing the 
announcement of their arrival." 

Probably the first stage-coach to reach Rockford was on 
January i, 1838, for on that date not only the villagers but 
large numbers from the surrounding country assembled to 
witness the arrival of the stage. The proprietors of the line 
were the well-known firm of Frink and Walker, with head- 
quarters at Chicago. At first their stage ran only as far as 
Rockford, and the schedule time for the journey from Chicago 
was twenty-four hours. From Rockford on to Galena the stage 
was conducted for a time by John D. Winters, whose home 
was at Elizabeth in Jo Daviess County. Probably from this 
circumstance, the stage route at first passed through Eliza- 
beth. Subsequently it followed the more direct route by way 
of Freeport, the stopping-place between Freeport and Rock- 
ford being at Twelve-Mile Grove. 

Travel conditions over the Galena highway did not differ 
materially from those of other western roads in the stage-coach 
period. There was no bridge at Elgin until 1837, and none at 
Rockford until the summer of 1845. At Rockford a ferry was 
maintained prior to the building of the bridge, but at Elgin 
travelers crossed the raging Fox as best they could. In this 
connection an interesting story of pioneer ingenuity is recorded. 
A number of teamsters had congregated, unable to cross the 
river, which was filled with blocks of floating ice. Instead of 
tamely waiting upon the processes of nature, they proceeded 
to throw quantities of straw from cake to cake and then pour 
water over the straw. This froze, the ice became one solid 

98 



THE THOROUGHFARES TO THE LEAD MINES 

mass, and over the bridge thus contrived the teamsters passed 
triumphantly. 

Mrs. Oscar Taylor, who as a young woman traveled over the 
Galena road from Chicago to Freeport in the autumn of 1 839, 
has left a sprightly narrative of this, her first journey in Illinois. 
The stage, which she describes as a "commodious affair," left 
Chicago at two o'clock in the morning, having as passengers, 
aside from Mrs. Taylor, ten young men, all of whom were 
coming west to seek their fortunes. In the darkness of the 
first few hours nothing could be seen of the country, but the 
continued splashing caused by the four horses gave the im- 
pression of low land nearly under water. "At daybreak," 
continues Mrs. Taylor, "we reached a country tavern, where 
we breakfasted on Rio coffee, fried fat pork, potatoes boiled 
with their jackets on, with hot saleratus biscuits, the color 
and odor of which warned us what to expect in flavor. But the 
gay spirits and vigorous appetites of my traveling companions 
added piquant sauce to the emigrant fare. 

"On emerging from the stuffy little breakfast room into 
the fresh air of the morning, there before me lay the great 
prairies of the West, seen for the first time in the full splendor 
of a magnificent sunrise, the seas of green stretching unbounded 
in every direction, the vast expanse unbroken by any sign of 
habitation. 

"The curtains of our stage were rolled up (and) as we drove 
on through the beautiful morning I was entranced. I had 
heard of the western prairies, I had imagined them, I had read 
of them with Cooper, my father had written of them, but I 
had not formed the slightest conception of the actual vision 
of this country, which was then almost as it had been a century 
before, when the red men roamed over it at will. Gradually 
the flat levels changed to a more billowy surface, and small 
groves of oak appeared. Sometimes we passed through what 
seemed veritable gardens, so gorgeous were the fields of yellow 
golden-rod, broken by the deep purple and snowy white of the 
wild aster. And the gentians, blue and purple, fringed and 

99 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

closed, bloomed in bewildering beauty, while the great cloud 
shadows floating across the scene continually altered the face 
of the landscape. I looked to see deer or wolf, or some other 
wild creature start up as we passed, but in that I was dis- 
appointed. 

*'Our late lunch had been a repetition of breakfast and I, 
tired and hungry, fell asleep as darkness gathered, to be aroused 
by a shout from the driver, *Rockford! Rockford! Here you 
can get a good Yankee supper.' Most welcome news! It 
wasn't a Yankee supper after all, but a most delicious supper 
of native prairie chicken, cooked, however, with the skill of 
the traditional eastern housewife. At midnight we left Rock- 
ford, crossing the river by ferry, to me a frightful experience 
in the black darkness. Hardly were we on solid earth before 
the driver announced that the passengers must leave the stage 
and climb the sand bank just ahead, as the horses could not 
pull the load up the bank. I think I should have been buried 
in the sand had not one of the young men gallantly assisted 
me. 

The story of the southern road to Galena is closely bound up 
with the history of Kellogg's Trail. Prior to 1825 residents of 
lower Illinois who desired to visit the lead mines had followed 
a circuitous route to the Mississippi and thence along its 
banks to Galena. In the spring of 1825 Oliver W. Kellogg 
of Peoria set out for Galena with a team and wagon. Instead 
of pursuing the usual route he followed an ancient Indian 
trail which led from the mines to Fort Clark. Blazing the way 
as he went, Kellogg crossed Rock River about three miles east 
of Dixon and passed through the prairie lying between Polo 
and Mount Morris, touching the western part of West Grove 
and continuing northwestwardly to Galena. Other travelers 
to the mines quickly followed the path which Kellogg had 
blazed, and thus the famous Kellogg Trail came into existence. 

Although Kellogg had opened a fairly direct route from 
Peoria to Galena it was soon perceived that it bore too far to 
the east. This defect was corrected by John Boles, who came 



THE THOROUGHFARES TO THE LEAD MINES 

over the trail in the spring of 1826. Leaving the beaten track 
some distance south of Rock River, he crossed the river just 
above the present Illinois Central Railroad bridge at Dixon, 
passed northward about a mile east of Polo, and through White 
Oak Grove, about a half mile west of Foreston, and Crane's 
Grove to Galena. This rectification of Kellogg's track was 
adopted by others, and the site of Dixon at once sprang into 
importance. 

This importance was primarily due to the fact that the 
heavy traffic which quickly developed over the Kellogg Trail 
must here find passage over a broad, deep river. The Winne- 
bago Indians who dwelt hereabout were the original ferrymen. 
For a suitable consideration they were willing to put travelers 
across the river, although their equipment for doing so was 
somewhat meager. Two canoes placed side by side were made 
to do duty for a ferry boat, the two wheels of one side of the 
wagon being placed in one canoe and the other two in the 
other. The teamster's horses or oxen were made to swim the 
stream. 

But the Indians were frequently absent, or indisposed to 
labor, and an enterprising resident of Peoria concluded to 
establish a regular ferry at Dixon. To this end he sent up a 
man to erect a small shanty on the bank, and following him a 
carpenter to build the boat. The red men, however, who 
regarded the ferry privilege as their own peculiar monopoly, 
watched the proceedings with sullen gaze; when the boat was 
about half completed they set it on fire and urgently advised 
the workmen to betake themselves to Peoria. 

The advice was acted upon without delay, and for a year 
or two longer the natives continued to enjoy their monopoly. 
In 1828, however, a half-breed Frenchman, Joe Ogee, who had 
long associated with the Indians, and had taken to wife the 
half-breed daughter of the trader Lasaliere, started a ferry at 
Dixon, and him the natives permitted to continue unmolested. 
Considered as a business man Ogee was not a conspicuous 
success. His ferry boat was propelled by poles, the pass- 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

engers generally taking poles and assisting in the work. It 
started from the south bank of the river and landed wherever 
luck and the strength of the current might combine to dictate. 
Ogee, too, was addicted to liquor, and his attendance upon 
the ferry, like that of the red man before him, was some- 
what irregular. 

This situation was doubtless partly responsible for bringing 
to the place in 1830 John Dixon, one of the most remarkable 
men of his day in Illinois. Dixon was a native of New York 
who in 1805 had located in New York City as a merchant 
tailor. He was a religious man, and throughout a long and 
busy life maintained a character above reproach. In 1820 
Dixon came west by ox team and flat boat to Illinois, locating 
in Madison County. He later removed to Peoria, where in 
addition to holding numerous county offices he engaged in 
business as a mail contractor. Dixon was a brother-in-law of 
Charles S. Boyd, who settled Boyd's Grove in Bureau County, 
and to this point Dixon himself removed in 1828. About this 
time he had taken the mail contract between Peoria and 
Galena, the mail being carried by his son. In 1830 Ogee trans- 
ferred the ferry to Dixon, who removed to the place and from 
whom it received its permanent name. Meanwhile Oliver 
Kellogg had located at Kellogg's Grove in Stephenson County, 
and later at BuflFalo Grove on the site of modern Polo. The 
Boyds, Kelloggs, and Dixons were the first permanent white 
settlers between Peoria and Galena, and their places of settle- 
ment were all points on the Galena road. 

Of the importance of Kellogg's Trail, and of Dixon in par- 
ticular, in this early period, Stevens, the historian of the Black 
Hawk War, thus writes: "Famous old days were those in the 
West, and famous men traveled that trail in those old days! 
From the miner and prospector to the merchant; from the 
mail carrier to the soldier; from the circuit preacher to the 
circuit law rider following a peripatetic court. From Peter 
Cartwright the energetic Methodist preacher who swam 
swollen streams and rivers to keep his word, and who, if rumor 

102 



THE THOROUGHFARES TO THE LEAD MINES 

be true, brought in more than one obstreperous recruit with a 
flogging, to Col. James Strode, the then noted but erratic 
criminal lawyer of Galena; from Lieut-Col. Zachary Taylor, 
who afterwards became president of the United States, and 
Gen. Winfield Scott, who wanted to be, to Lieut. Jefferson 
Davis who was president of the southern Confederacy, and 
Capt. Abraham Lincoln, who dissolved it, we find them all 
associated with the old trail and eating and lodging with mine 
host Dixon, singly and together; those who were later to be- 
come cabinet ministers. United States senators, representa- 
tives, governors and soldiers, and statesmen without number. 

"White men and Indians alike made their pilgrimages along 
that trail, stopping over with Mr. Dixon to strengthen the 
inner man and replenish their stock of supplies. With the 
Indians he was particularly popular, insomuch that he became 
their counselor and arbitrator, and likewise their banker. In 
turn, as a recognition of his many and friendly offices, the 
Winnebago adopted him into their tribe, naming him Nachusa 
(Long-whi te-hair) . ' ' 

Over Kellogg's Trail, almost from the moment of its 
opening, passed a heavy traffic. An indication of its vol- 
ume as early as the spring of 1827 is afforded by the story 
of Elisha Doty, who in March of that year left Peoria for 
Galena. At Dixon he tried to cross the river on the ice, 
but finding this impossible he gave up the journey and re- 
turned home. While tarrying on the south bank of the river 
before starting on the return journey, no less than two hun- 
dred teams collected, all northward bound for Galena. With 
the further development of the mines, of course, the traffic 
over the Kellogg Trail steadily increased. 

As today thousands of laborers flock each summer to the 
wheat fields of Kansas and the Dakotas, so ninety years ago 
hundreds of men from Indiana, Kentucky, and southern 
Illinois resorted annually to the lead mines, going out in the 
spring and returning to their homes with the approach of 
winter. Many came up the Mississippi by boat, but for 

103 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

thousands the Kellogg Trail afforded the most direct and 
cheapest route. Especially was this true of the teamsters, for 
whose services there was an insistent demand in the mining 
country. Since they must take their wagons and horses with 
them, it was cheaper to travel the overland route in their 
own conveyance than to go by boat up the Mississippi. Often 
on returning south in the autumn the teamster turned the 
journey to incidental profit by bringing a cargo of lead to 
the St. Louis market. 

The opening of the southern stage route between Galena 
and Chicago in 1834 marks the turning point in the life of the 
Keliogg Trail. With the rising importance of Chicago as a 
business center, travel between Galena and Peoria decreased, 
and more and more the old trail fell into disuse. Today it 
exists but in memory, while the thoroughfare from Chicago to 
Dixon still exists but slightly altered from its original course. 
But the wagon track across the prairie sod, along which the 
pioneer plodded behind his clumsy oxen, has become a fairy 
pathway of cement over which rolls ceaselessly a procession 
of vehicles of speed and luxury such as the pioneer in his 
wildest flights of fancy never even imagined. 



104 



CHAPTER VI. 
THE GREEN BAY ROAD. 

AS Galena was the objective of the thoroughfares leading 
westward from Chicago, so Green Bay was the termi- 
^ nus of the ancient highway to the north. Lying at the 
mouth of Fox River, on the earliest known water route from 
the Great Lakes to the Mississippi, La Baye, as the place 
was known to the French, was the earliest settlement of white 
men west of the Great Lakes. To this vicinity in 1634 came 
the venturesome Nicolet, seeking the long-desired waterway 
to China and the untold wealth of the Orient. Here Jolliet 
and Marquette paused in the spring of 1673, outward bound 
on their voyage of discovery to the Mississippi, and to the 
Jesuit mission already established here Marquette returned 
for rest and recuperation when the momentous expedition had 
terminated. For three generations La Baye continued to be 
an important center in the French scheme of empire in the 
Northwest. Then came the downfall of New France, and 
although the English promptly established a garrison at Green 
Bay, it was withdrawn during Pontiac's war of 1763, and never 
restored. 

For half a century Green Bay ceased to be a garrison town. 
But the old French settlement did not die, and the factor of 
geography to which its birth had originally been due continued 
to render Green Bay an important center of Indian trade. 
Although nominally American soil from the close of the 
Revolution in 1783, the place remained virtually a British 
outpost until after the War of 18 12. In that struggle the 
residents of Green Bay, bound up in the Indian trade, sided 
unanimously with Great Britain, and at its close the govern- 
ment of the United States, determined at last to assert its 
sovereignty over the Northwest, proceeded to establish Fort 

105 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

Howard at the mouth of Fox River. This, together with Fort 
Crawford at Prairie Du Chien, reinforced a dozen years later 
by the building of Fort Winnebago at the Fox-Wisconsin 
Portage, enabled the government effectually to assert its 
authority over the denizens, tribesmen and traders alike, of 
Wisconsin. 

To the Indian, as later to the white man. Green Bay and 
Chicago were places of importance, and the two were, of 
course, connected by well-established trails. These the white 
man found on his coming to the country and, adopting them 
for his own, proceeded to develop them into highways of 
civilized travel. Nowhere in America, perhaps, have clearer 
statements of the process of this transformation been recorded 
than in connection with the Green Bay road. Andrew J. 
Vieau, whose father came as a trader to Milwaukee in 1795, 
speaking of the road between Green Bay and Milwaukee in 
1837, writes: "This path was originally an Indian trail and 
very crooked but the whites would straighten it by cutting 
across lots each winter with their jumpers^, wearing bare 
streaks through the thin covering, to be followed in the sum- 
mer by foot and horse back travel along the shortened path." 

The Indian, like his white successor, ordinarily had a 
choice of routes by which to travel to his chosen destination, 
and in the present chapter the terms Green Bay trail and 
Green Bay road are used in their broad sense to include the 
more important variants of the route between the two cities. 

The trail began at Chicago with two alternative routes, 
each of which gave rise, in the period of white settlement to 
an important highway. The first, which is the one more 
commonly identified with the Green Bay road, started at 
the north end of the Michigan Boulevard bridge and ran 
north along the height of land between the lake shore and 
the North Branch. The route led north on Rush Street as 
far as Chicago Avenue and from here northwesterly for a mile 

'A "Juniper" was the type of sled known as a French Train, consisting of a box some six 
feet long and three feet wide, which was drawn over the surface of the snow. 

106 



THE GREEN BAY ROAD 

to the intersection of Clark Street and North Avenue. In the 
earlier life of the city this diagonal path was represented by a 
road, but modern city building pays little heed to the pres- 
ervation of Indian trails, and all traces of this diagonal path 
have long since disappeared. Professor Halsey, the industrious 
historian of Lake County, records that in i860 he lived at the 
southern end of this diagonal, and it was then and for several 
years afterward known as the Green Bay Road. Continuing 
northward, the trail kept inland from the lake some distance, 
coming in sight of it between Chicago and Milwaukee only 
at Grosse Point. It passed Waukegan three miles inland, 
Kenosha five miles, and Racine about the same distance. 

The alternative trail out of Chicago started from the west 
side of the forks of the river and ran along the divide between 
the North Branch and the Des Plaines for a distance of four- 
teen or fifteen miles. Crossing the latter river, it kept close 
to the west bank as far as the Gurnee Ford in Warren Town- 
ship, Lake County. Here it recrossed to the east side, and 
running three miles to the northeast joined the trail which 
has already been described. 

This trail from Chicago up the Des Plaines Valley gave rise 
in the early period of white settlement to two country roads 
which today find place on the map of Chicago as important 
diagonal city streets. One of these was Elston Road, which 
Andreas describes as "a crooked wagon track leading from 
Kinzie Street through Jefferson, the western part of Niles 
and through Northfield towards Deerfield." The other was 
Milwaukee Road, which has become within the city Milwaukee 
Avenue. The two streets run parallel for a distance of nine or 
ten miles, when Elston merges into Milwaukee. 

The Milwaukee Road, from this point, continued northward 
through Wheeling, Half Day and Libertyville. A mile north 
of Libertyville it veered to the northeast, and recrossed the 
Des Plaines at Gurnee, and joined the Green Bay Road three 
miles beyond that point. 

From Milwaukee to Green Bay there were two distinct 

107 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

trails, both of which became the routes of important roads. 
The lake shore route ran in a direct line to Saukville on 
Milwaukee River, four miles west of Port Washington. From 
here to Manitowoc Rapids it followed the general course of 
the lake shore, although keeping for the most part to the 
higher ground some distance inland from the beach. At Mani- 
towoc Rapids it turned sharply inland, and ran in a north- 
westerly direction to Green Bay. 

The alternative route ran northwest from Milwaukee past 
Menominee Falls to Rubicon Post Office in Dodge County. 
Here it turned due north across Dodge to Fond du Lac at 
the foot of Lake Winnebago. It then skirted the eastern shore 
of the lake, through Taycheedah and Brothertown, struck the 
Fox River opposite Wrightstown, and followed the southern 
bank through Depere to its termination at Green Bay. 

Our earliest accounts of travel over the Green Bay Trail 
are the narratives of the mail carriers who before the coming 
of the settlers traversed the wilderness between Fort Howard 
and Fort Dearborn. At first this task was performed by a 
soldier, detailed for the purpose by the commander of one of 
the forts. Despite the early importance of the Green Bay 
settlement its remoteness from the rest of the civilized world 
made the expense of maintaining a mail route too great for 
the Post Office Department to undertake. Henry S. Baird, 
who came to Wisconsin in 1824, relates that in summer the 
mail was conveyed in sailing vessels, and the townsmen were 
often without news from the outside world for weeks in 
succession. In winter-time a mail-carrier was hired to make 
monthly trips to Chicago, his pay being supplied in part from 
an allowance by the quartermaster at the fort, in part by 
popular subscription. How anxiously the arrival of the mail 
was awaited can today be but dimly imagined. If for any 
reason the carrier was delayed beyond the expected time, the 
presumption was that he had been detained by the red man 
or fallen a victim to starvation. 

The narrative of John H. Fonda, "who ran the mail" be- 

108 



THE GREEN BAY ROAD 

tween Fort Howard and Fort Dearborn in the winter of 1826, 
supplies an interesting picture of the conditions encountered 
on such a journey. Strange indeed would be the figure cut by 
Fonda and his French-Canadian companion if encountered 
today on the busy cement-paved highway between Green Bay 
and Milwaukee or Chicago. Fonda was garbed in "a smoke- 
tanned buckskin hunting shirt, trimmed leggings of the same 
material, a wolf-skin chapeau with the animal's tail still 
attached, and moccasins of elk-hide." He carried a heavy 
mountaineer's rifle with shortened barrel and a strap so 
attached that it could be slung over his back. A powder-horn 
hung by a strap from his shoulder, while a belt around his 
waist held a sheath knife and a pair of pistols, in addition to a 
short-handled axe. Attached to the belt, also, was a pouch of 
mink-skin in which he carried his rifle bullets. 

The appearance of Boiseley, the Canadian, was still stranger. 
He was short and thick-set, while to his long arms were 
appended huge hands of tremendous grasp. His small head 
was covered with coarse black hair, while his eyes, small and 
black, were piercing as those of a rattlesnake. Accoutered in 
a style similar to the garb of Fonda, he sported a long Indian 
gun and always carried in his belt a large knife, pistol, and 
hatchet. His bullet pouch and horn hung under his arm. 
Like most of the voyageurs he was superstitious, and tied by 
sinew thongs to his horn were several charms which were 
supposed to possess some mysterious power to preserve the 
wearer from harm. 

The most important item of the outfit, however, was the 
receptacle which contained the mail — a flat tin box or can- 
nister, covered with untanned deer hide. 

The round trip of nearly 500 miles usually consumed a 
month, and since the region traversed was an utter wilderness 
the men were thrown entirely upon their own resources. For 
food they chiefly depended upon the Indians and on such 
game as they might shoot en route; but since both these 
sources of supply were highly uncertain they carried by way 

109 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

of reserve a bag of parched corn, to be eaten only in case of 
special need. The nights were sometimes spent in an Indian 
village, but more commonly before a campfire in the woods, 
wrapped in the blankets which they carried on their backs. 
Leaving Green Bay on foot, laden with arms, blankets, and 
provisions, the two men followed the Indian trail to the 
southeast, passing through dense woods of pine interspersed 
with cedar swamps, and now and then a grove of red oak. 
As they penetrated deeper into the primeval forest the tracks 
of fisher and mink became more frequent. Herds of deer that 
had made their "yard" in the heavily timbered bottoms were 
roused at intervals, while an encounter with an occasional 
wildcat lent its variety to the journey. At one place they 
camped for the night on the bank of a small stream which 
issued from a live spring and flowed over the rocks in several 
beautiful cascades. Under a projecting bank Boiseley found 
the water literally alive with trout, and taking from his pack 
the light camp kettle he dipped out as many as the two men 
could consume and fried them over the fire. On another 
occasion the marks of bear were observed on the trunk of a 
large oak. Investigation disclosed that the tree was hollow 
and the animals had been attracted to it by the store of wild 
honey concealed within. The men helped themselves to a 
kettleful, and during the evening ate so much that never 
again could Fonda taste honey without a feeling of nausea 
and disgust. 

The hazards of such a journey were chiefly those incident to 
the hardships and exposure of wilderness travel. Illustrative 
of these is the record of the first capital surgical operation 
ever performed at Chicago, the subject of which was an un- 
fortunate Canadian half-breed who had frozen his feet while 
carrying the mail from Green Bay to this place. This was in 
1832 and Dr. Elijah Harmon, who has been denominated the 
^'Father of medicine" in Chicago, had but recently established 
himself in the old Kinzie house across the river from Fort 
Dearborn. To him the suflPerer was brought and as Hyde 

no 



THE GREEN BAY ROAD 

tells the story "the doctor, assisted by his brother, tied the 
unfortunate man to a chair, applied a tourniquet to each 
lower extremity, and with the aid of the rusty instruments 
which he had transported on horseback through sun and 
shower from Detroit to Chicago, removed one entire foot and 
a large portion of the other. Needless to say, these were not 
the days of anesthetics, and the invective, in mingled French 
and English of the mail carrier's vocabulary, soon became 
audible to everyone in the vicinity of the stockade. 

But the red man, though commonly disposed to peace at 
this period, was ever subject to strange moods, and liable at 
any time to avenge upon the traveler some injury, real or 
fancied, which he had suffered at the hands of some other 
member of the white race. Such a murder was committed in 
1836 at Theresa, the victim, Ellsworth Burnet, being totally 
innocent of any connection with the offense for which he was 
slain. Burnet was traveling over the trail in company with 
Captain James Clyman, and the men had stopped to cook 
their evening meal. Without any warning of impending 
danger a shot rang out from the bush, and Burnet fell dead 
in the act of stooping to blow the fire. A second shot wounded 
Clyman, but he escaped, and succeeded in making his way 
to Milwaukee. The murderer, it later developed, was an 
Indian who took this means of avenging upon the white race 
the death of a relative who had been killed by a soldier at 
Fort Winnebago. 

A tragedy of peculiar sadness associated with the Green 
Bay trail was the killing of Dr. William S. Madison on May 
12, 1 821. Dr. Madison was the surgeon at Fort Howard. 
About a year and a half before his death he had married a 
young woman in Kentucky, and the couple had resided 
together but a short time when he was ordered to rejoin his 
regiment. Leaving his young wife at her home, he proceeded 
through the wilderness to Green Bay. The months passed, 
and to the absent husband was borne the news that a son had 
been born. At last he obtained leave of absence for the 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 



express purpose of visiting his wife and child, and on May ii, 
1 82 1, he set out over the trail to Chicago in company with the 
mail carrier. On the afternoon of the second day they fell in 
with Ketaukah, an Indian, who attached himself to the 
party. Toward sundown, when approaching Manitowoc 
Rapids, they came to a small ravine bordered with shrubbery. 
In crossing this the mail carrier took the lead, followed by the 
surgeon, with Ketaukah bringing up the rear. Hearing the 
sound of a gun, the carrier turned round to find Dr. Madison 
had been shot through the back, receiving a wound which he 
himself pronounced mortal. On receipt of the news at Fort 
Howard a detail of soldiers hastened to the place, to find the 
unfortunate surgeon had already expired. 

His body was carried back to Green Bay and interred with 
due military honors. Meanwhile Ketaukah was brought in to 
the fort by the chief of his band and turned over to the 
soldiery. By them he was carried to Detroit, then the seat of 
government of what now is Wisconsin, and committed to 
prison. At the September session of the court he was con- 
victed of the crime of murder and sentenced to be hanged. 
Another Indian murderer was sentenced to death at the same 
time, and the two culprits were confined in a common cell 
until the end of December, when they were taken to the 
appointed place and publicly hanged. Both men proved 
model prisoners, who acknowledged the justice of their doom 
and in their pagan way made careful preparations for death. 
They walked quietly to the gallows, and after shaking hands 
with several of the officers ascended the steps with a firm 
and resolute tread. With a final request for pardon for their 
crimes, and a last lingering gaze upon the heavens they were 
plunged into the other world. 

The process of transforming the Green Bay trail into a 
white man's highway was begun by the federal government. 
A logical complement to the establishment of garrisons at 
Chicago, Green Bay, Portage, and Prairie du Chien was the 
construction of roads to make possible the free movement of 



THE GREEN BAY ROAD 

troops between these points. The first military road in 
Wisconsin was designed to connect Fort Howard at Green 
Bay with Fort Winnebago at the Fox-Wisconsin Portage. 
An appropriation of $2,000 was made by Congress for this 
purpose in the spring of 1830, but not until October, 1832 was 
the work of surveying the route begun by Lieutenant Center. 
As surveyed, the road ran up the south side of the Fox and 
along the east side of Lake Winnebago, the route being 
identical as far as Fond du Lac with the Indian trail to 
Milwaukee, which has already been described. The construc- 
tion of the road was carried out the following season by 
detachments of soldiers from Fort Howard and Fort 
Winnebago. The work of improvement chiefly consisted in 
cutting a narrow track through the forest. Captain Martin 
Scott, whose fame as a marksman still survives in frontier 
legend, had the oversight of the twelve-mile section east of 
Lake Winnebago. He cut the road straight as an arrow for the 
entire distance, and this section was long known as "Scott's 
straight cut." 

The road from Chicago to Green Bay dates its beginning 
from an act of Congress approved June 15, 1832, for the 
establishment of a post road between these points. A report 
made to the Secretary of War in October, 1833, states that 
the fund appropriated had been applied to the purpose in- 
tended, while a later report indicates that the survey was 
completed the following year. Andreas' History of Chicago 
states that stakes were driven and blazed along the line, and 
that as far as Milwaukee the road was "somewhat improved" 
by cutting out the trees to the width of two rods and laying 
puncheon and log bridges over the impassable streams; but it 
seems apparent from other sources of information that most 
of this improvement dates from a later period. Horace Chase, 
who with two companions left Chicago for Milwaukee in 
December, 1834, states that they followed the route of the 
Indian trail and crossed twenty-four streams, big and little, 
"getting mired in most of them." When this happened they 

"3 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

would carry the baggage ashore and pull the wagon out by 
hand, their single horse having all he could do to extricate 
himself. Another person who made the journey in the spring 
of 1835 relates that from Waukegan to Milwaukee the road 
was still a primitive Indian trail. 

Another visitor to Milwaukee this same summer records 
that after crossing Root River the road became worse. The 
horse mired and they were compelled to loosen him from the 
wagon and help him out, after which they pried the wagon 
from the mud with handspikes. Two miles farther on they 
again became stalled and had to repeat the process. The 
road now became better but was still so bad that the men had 
to walk all the way to Milwaukee, where they arrived after 
sundown. 

The newcomers found the Milwaukee of July, 1835, a town 
of several stores and dwellings where none had been at the 
opening of the season. Strictly speaking, not one town but 
several had been started, and the rivalry engendered between 
the promoters and upholders of the several settlements long 
survived to disturb the peace and welfare of the future 
metropolis. Near the mouth of the river, where now is one of 
the busiest industrial centers in the world, the newcomers 
found a marsh of several hundred acres, so wet that one could 
not travel through it, while to get around it entailed a detour 
of seven miles. Real estate speculation was the all-absorbing 
interest of the populace. "No one," records the observer, 
"thinks of raising anything on the land, but make claims as 
fast as they can by going on and cutting a few trees, spade up 
a little ground, and perhaps plant corn. They are just as 
likely to plant corn now [July 15] as at the proper season." 
Even the missionary preacher who had been sent out by the 
good people of New England to minister to the heathen in 
Wisconsin had become "a little tinctured" with the spirit of 
speculation. 

The forecast recorded by these writers in July, 1835, that 
Milwaukee would eventually become a "place of considerable 

114 




'"ifilliPifiii! ifi* 



THE GREEN BAY ROAD 

business" found speedy fulfillment, for with the following 
spring began a period of rapid growth which before long made 
the town a formidable rival of Chicago for the commercial 
supremacy of Lake Michigan. Yet even between two such 
commercial centers the improvement of the highway pro- 
ceeded with manifest deliberation. As late as January, 1839, 
Bishop Jackson Kemper records that the stage, which left 
Chicago at two in the morning, required more than twenty- 
four hours to reach Kenosha, although its schedule called for 
less than half this time; while the hundred-mile journey to 
Milwaukee entailed forty hours of travel. Milwaukee was 
then three years old, having 1000 inhabitants and the appear- 
ance of a "thriving and well-built town." The panic of 1837 
had about run its course, leaving the community ample time 
to reflect upon the follies of the speculative era of 1836; yet 
the Bishop was led to conclude, from all that he could see 
and hear, that the town would soon recover its prosperity 
and renew its growth. The natural advantages of Milwaukee, 
combined with the enterprising character of the inhabitants, 
left no room for doubt concerning the "future commanding 
station" of the place. 

Meanwhile, in 1838, Congress had appropriated $15,000 for 
the construction of a road from the Illinois state line north- 
ward to Green Bay, and the report of Lieutenant Cram, the 
army engineer, to whom the task of making the preliminary 
surveys was intrusted, sheds considerable light upon the 
conditions of the road and the country through which it 
passed. The projected road would open a "convenient" high- 
way 158 miles in length along the west shore of Lake Michigan, 
chiefly through an excellent wooded district. From the 
Illinois line to Saukville, a distance of sixty-eight miles, the 
belt of woodland along the route of the road was chiefly set- 
tled; between Milwaukee and Sheboygan rivers there were 
several settlers. Between Sheboygan and Green Bay, an 
extent of sixty-three miles, there was no settlement other 
than the one which had been begun at Manitowoc Rapids. 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS— OLD AND NEW 

Yet the route was the "principal mail route" from the south 
and east to the Green Bay District, and over it thrice a week 
the mail was carried to Milwaukee on the backs of men. It 
was impossible to drive a wheeled vehicle on the route farther 
north than Milwaukee, and nowhere between Milwaukee and 
the Illinois line could a span of horses haul an empty wagon 
at a greater speed than twenty-five miles a day; while to 
transport the mail from Green Bay to the Illinois boundary, 
158 miles, required five days' travel. 

The plan of improvement called for a highway four rods 
wide, banked in the middle to the width of fifteen feet. Within 
this space all trees were to be cut off close to the ground, while 
outside it and within a space two rods in width trees of less 
diameter than ten inches were to be cut. To complete the 
work as planned. Lieutenant Cram estimated that an addi- 
tional appropriation of $33,381 would be required. According 
to the historian of Manitowoc County there was much mis- 
management in the prosecution of the work, and although it 
afforded "the principal means of communication by land with 
the outside world," the extension of settlement along the 
northern portion of the road proceeded but slowly. The alter- 
native route from Milwaukee to Fond du Lac, where connec- 
tion was made with the military road constructed in 1832-33, 
remained but a primitive Indian trail until the winter of 1841. 
Then the citizens of Milwaukee subscribed a small sum of 
money which was paid to William R. Hesk for cutting a wagon 
road between Milwaukee and Fond du Lac. A capital narra- 
tive of a winter journey over this highway in February, 1843, 
two years after its opening, has been left by Increase A. La- 
pham of Milwaukee, Wisconsin's pioneer scholar and scientist. 
Sleighing was good at the time, and the journey was made in 
a cutter, drawn by a single horse. As far as Menominee Falls, 
fifteen miles from Milwaukee, the track had been worn hard 
and smooth by the loggers and farmers hauling their products 
to the Milwaukee market. At Vaughn's, seventeen miles out, 
the settlements began to be more scarce, and such few houses 

116 



THE GREEN BAY ROAD 

as there were had all been erected within the past year. 
Juneau's trading establishment at Theresa, forty-six miles 
from Milwaukee, was reached at sundown. Here was living 
a band of about loo Menominee Indians, whose chief had 
taken an active part on the British side in the War of 1 8 12 and 
had been one of the leaders in the Chicago massacre. 

The "famous village of Fond du Lac" Lapham found to 
consist of two houses, and one of these was a blacksmith shop. 
Taychedah, which still exists as a deserted village, was then 
the metropolis of the vicinity, with a store and half a dozen 
houses. At the town of Stockbridge, seventeen miles beyond 
Fond du Lac, the traveler put up at the house of William 
Fowler, and here during the evening a prayer meeting was 
conducted by the civilized Indians of the settlement. A ride 
of forty-two miles the following day brought him to Green 
Bay. 

The traffic of the Green Bay road differed materially from 
that of all the other thoroughfares radiating from Chicago. 
The Detroit road, we have seen, was a great highway of travel 
for settlers pouring into the West. All the others were avenues 
by which the products of the interior found outlets to the 
markets of the eastern seaboard, and over which flowed the 
return stream of merchandise of all kinds which the western 
people consumed in vast quantities but of which they pro- 
duced little or nothing. Through the Chicago gateway passed 
this double stream of traffic and from it her merchants took a 
toll which became ever richer as the population of the interior 
increased. 

The Green Bay road, on the contrary, throughout almost 
its entire extent was paralleled by the shore of Lake Michigan, 
distant at most not more than half a dozen miles. Along this 
shore line were scattered at easy intervals such aspiring 
communities as Manitowoc, Kenosha, Racine, Milwaukee and 
Sheboygan, into whose harbors came, or might come, the same 
ships that found their way to Chicago. On the Green Bay 
road, therefore, were witnessed no long processions of farm 

117 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

wagons plodding their weary way to the distant Chicago 
market. Nor could one see on it the steady stream of emi- 
grant schooners which characterized the Detroit road. Many 
of these, it is true, set forth from Chicago on the northward 
route, but for the most part before long they turned into the 
interior in search of the particular destination which choice 
or fancy might dictate. The reason for this is obvious. If the 
settler followed the overland route to the West, he was liable 
to be diverted into the interior soon after he reached Chicago. 
If he came by water, and his destination was some point in 
Wisconsin, he naturally landed at the point, usually Milwau- 
kee, from which he could most easily proceed to it. In this 
connection it is pertinent to remember that to the early settler 
Wisconsin meant that portion of the modern state lying south 
and east of the Fox-Wisconsin waterway. All above this line 
was a wilderness covered by a practically unbroken forest, 
into which no one but the lumberman and the Indian trader 
ever thought of penetrating. Even as late as 1847, it was 
gravely asserted in the convention which framed the con- 
stitution for statehood that the section of western Wisconsin 
lying between the Wisconsin River and modern St. Paul and 
Minneapolis was a "cold barren wilderness" which would 
be "forever uninhabitable." 

In eastern Wisconsin the forest belt crossed the Fox and 
advanced to the lake shore, as far south as Milwaukee. Because 
of its accessibility, probably, sturdy Dutch and German 
settlers did not hesitate to plunge into this forest and begin 
the work of carving out the splendid farms with which this 
section is now covered. But even here, aside from the imme- 
diate lake shore, settlement proceeded much more slowly 
than it did in the more open country south and west of 
Milwaukee. 

The traffic of the Green Bay Road, therefore, in the period 
we are considering, was largely confined to two classes, local 
travel, and through travel between such points as Chicago 
and Milwaukee and Milwaukee and Green Bay. Its volume, 

118 



THE GREEN BAY ROAD 

too, particularly that of the latter class, was naturally affected 
by the season of the year. When navigation was open and the 
journey could be made by water much of the through travel 
between Chicago and the upper lake points went by water. 
The schedules of the stage managers, of course, took cogni- 
zance of this situation. 

The first stage service between Chicago and Milwaukee 
is said to have been instituted in the spring of 1836, the 
proprietor of the line being Lathrop Johnson, who kept 
the New York House in Chicago. For transporting the 
mail and such passengers as might choose to entrust them- 
selves to his oversight, Johnson provided an open lumber 
wagon. To give character to the service, however, it was 
drawn by four horses instead of two. 

The Chicago Business Directory lists a tri-weekly stage 
service between Milwaukee and Chicago in summer, and 
a daily service in winter. Coaches were scheduled to make 
this journey in one and one-half days, stopping at Kenosha 
overnight. An announcement by Frink and Walker in the 
Little Fort (now Waukegan) Porcupine for December 3, 
1845, advertised that "four-horse post coaches and stage 
sleighs" leave that place for Chicago each morning, and 
Milwaukee each evening. On appropriate notice being 
received, the Company would call for citizens at their homes 
and leave passengers off at any place where they might 
desire to stop. 

Although Frink and Walker dominated the stage and 
mail service of northern Illinois for a decade and a half, 
they were not entirely free from competition. Thus, in 
the Little Fort Porcupine November 5, 1845, J. J. and 
E. M. Dennis make the following Interesting announcement: 

"Express line from Southport (now Kenosha) to Chicago. 
Through by daylight. The subscribers intend starting a 
semi-weekly express between the above places on the tenth 
of November next, to continue regularly through the winter; 
leaving the Mansion House in Southport on Mondays and 

119 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

Thursdays at io:oo A. M. and the American Temperance 
House in Chicago on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 6 
o'clock A. M. The above express will pass through Little 
Fort each way taking the lake road from Southport to 
Chicago. Covered carriages with steel springs will run 
during wagoning, and covered sleighs during the winter. 
If good teams, careful drivers, speed, and convenience are 
inducements to the traveling public, the subscribers flatter 
themselves they will receive a good share of patronage." 

Apparently the subscribers did not "flatter" themselves 
in vain, for a later announcement states that the express 
will be run hereafter three times a week. A portion of their 
success was doubtless due to the fact that the Frink and 
Walker stages ran over the Milwaukee Road as already 
described, and hence did not adequately serve the popula- 
tion immediately tributary to the lake shore. In April, 
1845, tl^e Porcupine complained that from Waukegan to 
Chicago, a distance of forty-five miles, there was no post 
office or post road, and that a "thickly settled" district, 
from five to ten miles wide, was entirely without mail facili- 
ties. It urged that a tri-weekly mail service be established 
on the shore road so as to alternate with the existing service 
on the Des Plaines road. A week later, abandoning this 
ground, the Porcupine complained that the people of this 
district with more mail than all the rest of the country, 
"yet are left dependent on a post station called Otsego, 
five miles out of town on the nearest route from Chicago 
to Milwaukee The fact is, the stage ought to run on the 
Lake road and the Otsego mail should be carried from Little 
Fort instead of vice versa as at present. We stick up to be 
the most Democratic village of the banner Democratic 
state; yet Racine and Kenosha have a daily steamboat 
mail." We have already seen that the longing of Little 
Fort's denizens for a mail route was satisfied the winter 
after this Macedonian plaint was heralded to a sympathetic 
world. 

120 



?! ! lAX'A r; KtF. DIUECTOK V, 



IfiO 






^ ^- *» "^i^ N5j(/ 55^ S-«| ^,^. ^.■^■.3 



cr;3 




iJ' \hi 




■i 




Lea%'es the General Sta;rTc Office,: No. i3, Wisconsin street 
tor Galena, via-Prairieville, DelafieW, Summit, Concord, Az- 
talan, Lake Mills, Cottage Grove, Madison, Dodgeville, Min- 
erril Point, and Plalteville to Galena. ■ . . 

With a branch running from- AVatertowii, peaver Dam-, 
Pox Lake, Fond du Lac, to .Green* Bay. 

Leaves tlic same oflice for Galena, via New Berlin, Muk- 
wanago, Easi T^jy, Troy, Johnsto\y'n, Janssville, Monroe, 
Wiota, Sluillsbur^ifb, and White Oak Springs to Galena. 

With a branch running from Jancsville, via Union to Mad* 
koi], in line, eouut:etioii with the Galena, line. . ■- 

AIs.}, a Ijrruich running from Janesville via Detroit, Roscoe, 
and Rocidord to Dixon y connecting with tJie Chicago,: and 
Galena Lines, at Rockford and Dixon. . 

Lcavc:5 Racine every Monday, Wednesday and Friday^ for 
■■'•'inesviHo '; Also, leaves Southport for Madison and Galena 
same days. ■ ' ' ' ' ■,■ ■ . 

Leaves the same office for Chicago, via. Oak Creek, Ra- 
'^^fif'. Southport, Little Fort and Wheeling, to Chicago— con- 
'•t'Xihi^r !it Chicago, with l!ie St. Louis and Michigan Stages. 
L'lvca the sanieotficc for Sheboygan, via Mequon, Hamburg: 
"' '•KvlUe, Port Washington; and Shebovgan Falls to Sheboy. 
s -^- JOHN FRINK & Gov Piopriotors. 

Miiwaukee," 1843. ' 



A TYPICAL STAGE LINE TIME TABLE 

Advertisement of Frink & Company's Wisconsin Stage Lines in 1848. 
Reproduced from the Milwaukee City Directory. 



^ 



THE GREEN BAY ROAD 

The wonder of today becomes commonplace tomorrow; 
this aphorism finds fresh illustration in the case of the mail 
service of Waukegan. A local historian relates that the 
appearance of the first mail stage in the city "was an event 
creating a profound sensation." Half a dozen years later 
the Gazette nonchalantly reports that "five to six coaches 
pass daily through Waukegan, full inside and out." 



121 



CHAPTER VII 
THE PLANK ROAD ERA 

1IKE death and taxes the demand for better highways 
^ is omnipresent. Leaving the Indian out of account, 
it began with the advent of the first settler in the 
wilderness, and has continued to the present moment. Nor 
is it to be expected that the completion of any highway 
program now under contemplation will permanently solve 
the problem, for in any progressive society the existing 
standard of highway achievement will ever be made the 
starting point from which to measure new advances. 

The first step in the establishment of any new commun- 
ity in the western wilderness was ordinarily the laying out 
of a road. Indeed, the road usually preceded the settler, 
for without some avenue of entrance the immigrant could 
not get into the country at all. But when speaking of pioneer 
roads the modern reader should carefully free his mind from 
its accumulated conceptions of twentieth-century highways. 
The pioneer settler of Illinois could no more have imagined 
the splendid thoroughfares of cement which are fast criss- 
crossing the state than could the pastoral king of some 
desert tribe of ancient Arabia have conceived the glory and 
might of the modern British Empire. To the pioneer, a 
road was any kind of a track leading to a designated point. 
Often, indeed, it was not even a track, and so the route would 
be identified by plowing a furrow or dragging a tree across 
the prairie. 

But with the progress of settlement would arise the demand 
for improvement of the highways by which connection was 
had with the outside world. The streams would be bridged 
and the swamps corduroyed, while in timbered sections trees, 
and ultimately even stumps, would be removed from the 



THE PLANK ROAD ERA 

path. Spurred on by the commercial rivalry between differ- 
ent cities, the pioneer would even on occasion undertake 
to improve the road by "turnpiking" it; it must be admitted, 
however, that in the early period this last improvement 
was seldom encounted. 

But the foregoing did not long suffice to meet the insistent 
transportation needs of the country. The soil of pioneer 
Illinois was as rich and black — its mud as deep and clinging — 
as today, while it was saturated with moisture to a degree 
quite unknown to the present generation. It followed that 
during much of the year the highways were impassable, 
while most of the remaining time they could be traversed 
only at an enormous expenditure of time and effort. A story 
told by Robert Dale Owen of New Harmony, Indiana, in 
his treatise on the construction of plank roads aptly illus- 
trates the situation. With one companion he had traveled 
by stage to Mount Vernon, on the Ohio. It required four 
active horses to convey them, with two small trunks, a dis- 
tance of fifteen miles; the fare was three dollars per person, 
and the charge, at this, was moderate, for the horses "sunk 
literally to their girths" in the frequent mud holes, and the 
round trip of thirty miles was a hard two days' job for a 
four-horse stage. 

Another illustration of the excessive tax imposed upon a 
community by the poor roads of the pioneer era is afforded 
by Owen in the same discussion. "Last winter," he says, 
"the inhabitants of McLeansboro, a small town in southern 
Illinois, some forty or fifty miles northwest of Shawneetown, 
found themselves, in consequence of the miserable condition 
of the roads around them, cut off from all supplies, and 
thus deprived of coffee, sugar, and other necessities of life. 
Tempting offers were made to several teamsters, but none 
of them would stir from home. At last a farmer of the 
neighborhood declared that he had a team of four horses 
which no road could daunt, and that he would risk a trip 
to Shawneetown, and bring back the necessary supplies. 

123 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

Ten days elapsed, and his empty wagon was slowly and 
painfully dragged into town by two drooping and jaded 
horses scarcely to be recognized as part of the fresh and 
spirited team that started on this expedition. Their owner, 
by great exertion had reached Shawneetown, where he 
took in about half a load. Two of his horses were killed in 
the attempt to return; his load was left, perforce, on the 
road, and the surviving horses so worn down by the trip 
as to be unfit for use the rest of the winter." "The tax, 
in this case," concludes Owen, "was a severe one; consid- 
erably exceeding a hundred dollars for the trip." To which 
we may add the pertinent observation that in 1850 south- 
eastern IlHnois had been settled for a generation, during 
which time Shawneetown had been its principal entrepot 
of trade and commerce. 

But the city merchant was affected no less disastrously 
than was the farmer by such stoppages of transportation. 
"Now that the trade of the city is completely prostrated 
by the late unfavorable weather," said the editor of the 
Chicago Democrat in December, 1850, "does not the fact 
of the want of facilities of communication with the coun- 
try strike everyone most forcibly. The city is completely 
dependent upon, and in fact a mere agency of the surround- 
ing country. It derives every pulsation of its life, and every 
breath of its existence from the agricultural region of which 
it is the depot." 

The citizens of early Chicago had long been aware of the 
importance of improved highways leading into the interior. 
Without them the city could not prosper; with them there 
seemed no limit to its growth. The problem of road-building 
was common, of course, to all new communities, and the 
burden entailed by it was appalling enough. But the task 
which Chicago faced in this connection was in one respect 
unique, for around it, as we have seen, stretched for many 
miles a prairie so low and marshy as to reduce the roads 
across it to a condition peculiarly villainous. 

124 



THE PLANK ROAD ERA 

"The Whiskey Point road," says Edwin O. Gale in his 
ReminisceJ^ces of Early Chicago,' over which I traveled so 
much, was a fair sample of them all. When the summer 
birds were singing in southern skies, when the frosts had 
come and the flowers gone, when the rains had filled the 
ground with moisture and the waters covered the face of 
the earth, making every depression a slough, without a 
ditch anywhere to carry off the accumulated floods; then 
the wheels sank to the hubs, and the hearts of the drivers 
sank accordingly; then blows and coaxing were alike unavail- 
ing to start the tired teams and the settling loads 

"The spring was worse, if possible, than the fall. The 
snow was deep and the ground was frozen, and during that 
time, as far as the eye could see, the whole outlook was a 
shallow, dismal, cheerless lake, without a house from the 
ridge to the engulfed city, and from Whiskey Point to the 
engulfed Widow Barry Point, six miles to the south of it. 
Nothing arrested the vision but a dismal waste of water, 
with the road submerged and so cut up that, whereas it had 
been almost impassable before, it was now utterly abandoned. 
Woe to the farmer then who should presume to transport 
anything without a caravan of neighbors to assist with 
extra teams, to 'pack' the bags of grain from one stalled 
wagon to another." 

Although the road to Barry's Point was the one great 
thoroughfare from Chicago to the southwest, it remained 
for several years but a track across the prairie, the passage 
of which called for special preparations on the part of stage 
proprietors. This is well set forth by the English traveler, 
J. S. Buckingham, who published at London in 1842 a three- 
volume journal of his tour in America. In June, 1840, his 
party ascended the Illinois by steamer to Peru, from which 
point they took the stage for Chicago. After numerous 
vicissitudes, including an all-night detention on the prairie, 
through the foundering of the coach in a slough, they arrived 
at midnight at Barry's Point, the last stage station before 

125 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

reaching their destination. Here, the travelers found, not 
only were the horses to be changed but the coach as well. 

"The object," says the writer, "was to give us a much 
heavier vehicle with broad wheels like a wagon, as the road 
was said to be so much worse between this and Chicago 
than on any other part of the route, that a narrow wheel 
would sink up beyond the axle, and only very broad ones 
could sustain us. While this change of coaches was making, 
we had to wait in the bar-room of one of the most filthy 
and wretched houses we had yet seen, in which the smell 
of rum and tobacco, mingled with other powerfully dis- 
agreeable odors, was most offensive; the hideous-looking 
bar-keeper appeared like a man who never washed or combed, 
and none of whose garments had ever been changed since 
he had first put them on; altogether, nothing could be more 
revolting 

"At length, the broad-wheeled and lumbering coach being 
ready, we all seated ourselves, and at a creeping pace left 
this last stage, the horses walking slowly all the way, at 
the rate of about two miles an hour, with baitings at every 
pit and slough to survey the road, before crossing it, and 
with the wheels scarcely ever less than six inches, and oftener 
a foot deep in mud and water. Altogether, this last night 
was by far the most disagreeable that we had ever spent in 
journeying through the United States. We had all the evils 
of bad roads, thick darkness, suffocating heat, a crowded 
stage, disagreeable companions, filthy stage-houses, ven- 
omous mosquitoes, and continual apprehensions of being 
upset in the mire, and then left to grope our way to the 
nearest house for shelter 

"When daylight opened upon us, we obtained a distant 
sight of the white houses of Chicago a long way off on the 
plain; but, distant as they still seemed, never did weary 
mariner hail the first opening of the harbor, into which 
he was running to escape shipwreck or storm, with more 
joy than did we welcome these first tokens of our approach 

126 



THE PLANK ROAD ERA 

to a place of rest. It was past sunrise before we reached the 
town, having been six hours coming the last twelve miles, 
and forty hours performing the whole journey of ninety- 
six miles." 

A determined effort to secure relief from these intoler- 
able conditions was now about to be made. In June, 1840, 
the selfsame month of Buckingham's harrowing experience 
with the Barry Point Road, the citizens of Cook and adjoin- 
ing counties assembled at Chicago to consider measures 
for the improvement of the thoroughfare to the southwest. 
The Chicago Daily American accompanied the printed 
notice of the meeting with a vigorous editorial, entitled 
"The Nine Mile Swamp," whose spirit is strangely reminiscent 
of present-day fulminations on the local transportation 
system. The "dismal swamp" stretching from Chicago to 
Barry's Point was viewed as a "great impediment" to the 
prosperity of Chicago, and the urgent need of a turnpike 
"passable at all seasons," was forcefully presented. "So far 
as our experience has extended," continues the editor, "we 
have never seen worse roads than that to Barry's Point and 
five miles west to Doty's on the Naperville Road. In an 
enterprising community like ours, such obstacles to com- 
merce and inland trade ought to be removed, and if our 
citizens and the surrounding inhabitants understand their 
true interests it will be removed. If individuals are not 
able to do the work, let them instruct the County Commis- 
sioners to do it. If the Commissioners of this county will 
not do it, let them authorize the city to make the road. . . . 
But at all events let the road be made. Public convenience 
and public prosperity demand it." 

The meeting was held, and a committee of three appointed 
to consider ways and means, and report to an adjourned 
meeting of the citizenry, appointed for June 15, "the best 
mode of construction of the road from this city to the sand 
ridge, the probable expense, the mode of construction with 
the probable amount that could be raised by subscription 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

for the construction of said road, and all other necessary 
information that may be required to carry into operation 
this most important improvement." Apparently the enter- 
prise foundered temporarily on the rock of inadequate popu- 
lar subscriptions, for ten days later a fresh editorial in the 
American urges anew the need of constructing the road, and 
suggests that as "the people have now begun to think some- 
what" on the matter, a new popular meeting be called and 
a fresh start taken. 

The result is revealed in a report made public by the 
"Executive Committee on the road between Chicago and 
the sand ridge." The committee had taken popular sub- 
scriptions to the amount of $2,480, and had let contracts 
amounting to $2,750. In addition a ditch was to be con- 
structed, which would increase the deficit to $500. "One- 
half mile of the road is finished," the report continues, "and 
all but about a mile and a half in the wettest part of the 
route through the swamp is progressing slowly but surely. 
This section of very wet road had to be re-let, at an addi- 
tional cost of about thirty-two cents per rod. The road will 
be elevated about lyi feet above the natural surface of the 
ground, and five feet above the ditch. The Committee feels 
that the road will surpass in usefulness all expectations 
that have been formed of it." Almost two years later, in 
September, 1842, the American announces the comple- 
tion of the turnpike to Barry's Point. But "All of the sub- 
scription money could not be collected, and it is asked that 
the subscribers step forward and keep their word so that 
the contractors, who have done such good work, may 
be paid." 

The new turnpike was perhaps an improvement over the 
natural swamp through which it ran, but unless the "expecta- 
tions" which the townsmen had formed concerning the 
improvement were exceedingly modest, they were doomed 
to disappointment. A turnpike made of the rich black soil 
of Illinois may be an excellent highway in dry weather, but 

128 



THE PLANK ROAD ERA 

at such times, so also, was the natural prairie. Its condition 
in wet weather requires Httle description to anyone who 
has ever undertaken to drive a farm wagon over the dirt 
roads of Illinois after a heavy rain. "The turnpike," writes 
Gale in his reminiscences, "was never a success. The mud, 
when in its normal, plastic condition always seemed to be 
several feet deeper than on the prairie. The clay of which 
it was composed appeared to have a grudge against every 
living thing, horse, ox, or man, and threw its tenacious 
tentacles around all things, to draw them down to its infernal 
level. Human ingenuity could invent no rougher or more 
detestable roads to travel over than the pike at such times. 
Once on it there was no escape to the side, save at the peril 
of your life. 

"Even when some of our courageous citizens tried in their 
desperate moments to improve it, and made a toll road of 
it, they found, alas, the task too much for them; the ruts 
were too deep, the mud too bottomless. Huge stones were 
hauled, from year to year at a great expense to the dis- 
gruntled taxpayers, and it was hoped that these would form 
a good foundation for the improvement. But they only 
stuck out at every point, sad monoliths of the little ones 
buried among the broken wheels and axlesof defunct wagons. 
There they stood in stubborn stateliness, while the largest 
of them defied the best efforts of the corporation to reduce 
them to cobbles. The curses heaped upon the pike for so 
many years, and which the brute seemed to enjoy, were 
now divided between the road and the citizens who had the 
preposterous audacity to try to reform that which was not 
meant to be reformed. The band of presumptuous men 
were finally glad to relinquish their hopeless charge to the 
anathemas of the teamsters and the public, who had no 
alternative but to continue to drive their sad, galled, pre- 
maturely old, broken-down teams over its ever-changing 
surface." 

From the land of distant Russia by way of backwoods 

129 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

Canada came at length the solution of Chicago's problem 
of bridging the morass which nature had thrown around 
her. An English official, Lord Sydenham, from long years 
of residence in Russia had become familiar with the prac- 
tice there of building plank roads to afford an outlet across 
marshy ground for the produce of certain mines. Later, 
on becoming governor-general of Canada, he persuaded 
the inhabitants of the utility to be derived from adapting 
the Russian device to their own particular situation. Begin- 
ning in 1839, when the first Canadian plank road was built, 
the idea spread with rapidity until, within a decade, upwards 
of 500 miles had been constructed. 

From Canada the plank-road idea spread, after consid- 
erable delay, to the United States, but once introduced, 
the avidity with which communities seized upon it was 
fairly astounding. New York took the lead, the first plank 
road company to receive a charter in this country being 
one from Central Square to Saline, opened for traffc in 
July, 1846. Its success was immediate, and the flood of 
applications to the state legislature for charters for similar 
companies became so great as to threaten to monopolize 
the entire attention of that body. To remedy this, a general 
law was passed in 1847 governing the incorporation of plank- 
road companies, being the first of its kind in the United 
States. 

From New York the plank-road furor swept westward. 
An exhaustive report on the subject in the Wisconsin legis- 
lature of 1848 reached the conclusion that not only was it 
good policy but "an incumbent duty'* for the legislature to 
"encourage the construction of this class of public thor- 
oughfares throughout the length and breadth of Wiscon- 
sin." Illinois and Indiana followed suit by enacting the 
following year general laws for the incorporation of plank 
roads. 

As the Barry Point road was the first highway out of 
Chicago on which any real attempt at road building was 

130 



THE PLANK ROAD ERA 

ever made, so it became the route of the city's first plank 
road. The contract for the initial section from Chicago to 
Doty's Tavern at Riverside, ten miles in length, was let 
January 20, 1848, and the road was opened to traffic early 
in September. It consisted of a single track, eight feet wide, 
made by laying down two stringers and covering them with 
three-inch plank, the stringers being bedded in the earth 
so that the weight of the plank rested directly upon it. 

Financially this first plank road out of Chicago proved a 
great and immediate success. The cost of construction was 
approximately 1 16,000. A four-horse vehicle paid 21/^ cents 
toll for the privilege of traversing the ten-mile highway; a 
single team paid 25 cents and a horse and rider half as much. 
Despite the fact that the short length of the highway and 
bad roads at either end of it combined to handicap traffic, 
the receipts from the first month's operation amounted to 
$1,500. In the Democrat of October 9 one observer reported 
that 96 persons had passed through the toll gates in a single 
hour; "and this, we are told, is no ordinary spectacle." 
The enthusiastic reporter went on to calculate that this 
meant a return of *'$i^ per hour on a road costing $16,000." 

To draw any general deduction from a single observa- 
tion would be, of course, absurd, but the fact is clear that 
for a time the road returned to the stockholders a profit on 
their investment which could not fail to stimulate the desire 
of outsiders to put their money into similar projects. In the 
illustration which has already been cited Robert Dale Owen 
demonstrates that one dollar would have been a fair charge 
for his fifteen-mile stage-coach journey if made over a good 
road; the remaining two dollars was the tax paid **for the 
privilege of wading, at the rate of three miles an hour, 
through mud under which our wheel-hubs were continually 
disappearing." The Southwestern Plank Road bridged the 
ancient "nine-mile swamp" between Riverside and Chicago, 
and the farmer gladly paid the toll of 25 cents exacted for 
the privilege of using it, avoiding thereby the far heavier 

131 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

tax In time and labor which hauling his load through the 
morass entailed. "The rate of toll allowed by law is two and 
one-half cents per mile," wrote the editor of the Prairie 
Farmer in March, 1849, to an inquiring Iowa subscriber, 
"and the whole amount is charged hitherto, but it is far 
too high and will be reduced. The public do not as yet 
complain, because they are glad to get the road at any rate." 
Two years later the editor of the Democrat was "credibly 
informed that some of the plank roads from the city are 
paying from 30 to 40 per cent." Little wonder he closes 
with the succinct comment, "the best investment afloat." 

Within the next few years after the building of the road 
to Barry's Point, the citizens of Chicago and the adjoining 
country had constructed a net-work of plank roads radiating 
out from the city like spokes from the center of a wheel. 
The Southwestern Road, whose beginnings we have already 
noted, was completed as far as Brush Hill, a distance of 
sixteen miles, early in 1850. By the close of 1851 it extended 
to the vicinity of Naperville, where it connected with a 
road under construction to Oswego. Three miles east of 
Naperville it also made connection with the St. Charles 
and Warrenville Plank Road, two and one-half miles of 
which were completed in 1851. Still other roads were built 
from Naperville to Sycamore, and from Oswego to Little 
Rock, so that the Southwestern Road with its connections 
constituted a net-work of improved roads throughout the 
rich country to the southwest of Chicago. 

In similar fashion the Northwestern Plank Road con- 
nected the city with the upper Des Plaines Valley. It left 
the city on Milwaukee Avenue, the line of the old Mil- 
waukee Road, with Wheeling as the ultimate destination. 
Begun in 1849, the Democrat of September 4 reported that 
plank had been laid as far as Oak Ridge, eight miles out. 
During the next two years the main line was run three miles 
beyond Dutchman's Point (or modern Niles) in the direc- 
tion of Wheeling, with two shorter feeders thrown out to 

132 




CHICAGO AND VICINITY IN 1852 
Drawn to show the city's Plank and Rail Road Systems. 



THE PLANK ROAD ERA 

the Des Plaines River. The cost of the twenty-three miles 
of road thus built, together with toll houses, gates, and 
one bridge, was reported to be $51,000. From the North- 
western Road at Oak Ridge the Western Plank Road ran 
west to the boundary of Du Page County, where it con- 
nected with the Elgin and Genoa Plank Road which ran 
through Elgin to Genoa in Kendall County, a distance of 
fifty miles from Chicago. 

Less important than the foregoing were the Northern and 
Southern plank roads. The latter road had been planned 
to run as far as Middleport in Iroquois County, a distance 
of seventy-five miles. It was actually constructed by way 
of the line of State Street as far as Kyle's Tavern, ten miles 
out, in 1 85 1, at a cost of $21,000. Here the shadow of the 
future fell across the enterprise, for the location of the pro- 
jected Chicago branch of the Illinois Central Railroad led 
the promoters of the plank road to abandon all thought of 
extending it farther. Yet even the short fragment built 
proved immediately remunerative, for at the close of 1851 
the directors were enabled to declare a 14 per cent dividend 
from the results of the first year of operation. 

From the junction of North Avenue with Clark Street, 
at the time the city limits, the Lake Shore Road ran parallel 
with the lake shore to Hood's Tavern on the Green Bay 
Road, a distance of about five miles. From the viewpoint 
both of length and of traffic this was the least important 
member of Chicago's plank road system. 

It remains to speak of the Blue Island Avenue Road, the 
latest addition to the system of plank roads built out of 
Chicago. It ran from Blue Island due north on the line of 
Western Avenue to its junction with Blue Island Avenue 
which in 1854, the year of the road's construction, was the 
southwest corner of the city. Turning northeast at this 
point, it followed Blue Island Avenue into the heart of the 
city. The length of the road was thirteen miles, and its 
strategic importance consisted in the fact that it afforded 

i33 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

a direct route to the city for the heavy travel from the south 
which concentrated at Blue Island. In the annual review of 
Chicago's commerce published by Governor Bross in 1854, 
the Blue Island Road, then under construction, is spoken 
of in glowing terms. The earth excavated from the large 
ditches cut by the drainage commissioners along the road 
made a high and splendid grade, while the ditches them- 
selves rendered the adjoining land dry and arable at all 
times. The Avenue across the prairie, 120 feet in width, 
was to be lined with trees on either side; moreover, "as by 
this road cattle could be driven to the city without danger 
of fright from locomotives, and as two of the principal 
roads entering the city meet at Brighton (modern Archer and 
Western Avenues), with abundant water at all times, and 
pasture and meadow lands in almost unlimited quantities 
beyond, no one can doubt its favorable position for becom- 
ing the principal cattle market of Chicago." 

Thus did the sapient editor of the Chicago Tribune essay 
the role of prophet less than seventy years ago. Today the 
"town of Brighton" exists but in memory, while for miles 
beyond its ancient site the "pasture and meadow lands" of 
old have been metamorphosed into city streets and squares. 
Two miles to the eastward lies the "principal cattle market" 
not only of Chicago but of all the earth. But instead of 
plodding along a tree-bordered country road as of old, un- 
vexed by the sight of the puffing locomotive, today the 
patient cattle from a thousand miles around ride to their 
doom in "palace" cars drawn over roads of steel by the iron 
horse itself. 

The decline of the plank roads was almost as rapid as 
their rise, and the present generation has lost all knowledge 
of this "improvement" which to the men and women of 
1850 seemed nothing short of revolutionary. To under- 
stand the change which led so quickly to their abandon- 
ment it is necessary to take some note of the manner of 
constructing, and the problems encountered in operating 

134 



THE PLANK ROAD ERA 

them. As commonly constructed, a roadway sixteen feet 
in width was graded and on this eight-foot planks were laid 
crosswise. This was deemed sufficient for a single-track 
road, the remaining portion of the grade being available 
for teams to turn out on in passing. Lengthwise of the road 
two rows of girders, sometimes as small as two by four 
inches, were laid, imbedded in the earth in such fashion 
that the planks rested directly upon it. The planks were 
not nailed to the girders, nor were the latter intended to 
support their weight. Their main function was to prevent 
the tendency of the planks, particularly when the roadbed 
was new and soft, to tilt or turn when struck by the heavy 
wheels. From the supporting roadbed all water was to be 
excluded, and the planks, resting directly on the compact 
earth, were expected to afford an unyielding support for 
whatever burden might be brought upon them. 

The kind of timber employed, and the cost of construct- 
ing such a road, varied with local conditions. The two 
chief factors of cost were the lumber and the labor of grading. 
Pine and hemlock were sometimes used for planking 
but oak and black walnut quickly demonstrated their supe- 
riority for the purpose. The Southwestern Plank Road 
was first planked with pine, but within a year or two the 
planks began to give out, and thereafter, around Chicago, 
oak seems to have been exclusively employed. 

The roads were constructed by private corporations and 
had, therefore, aside from their public function, a private 
commercial aspect. As worked out at Chicago the cost of 
construction was about $2,000 per mile. The rates of toll 
which might be charged were prescribed by law, and col- 
lections were made by the keepers of toll-gate houses scattered 
at intervals of five or six miles along the line. The law in 
Illinois copied closely the features of the New York law, 
but the tolls which the company was permitted to charge 
were considerably higher in the newer western states than 
in New York. What rates were charged on the first Chicago 

135 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

road we have already seen. In the beginning, according to 
the editor of the Prairie Farmer, the public was "glad to 
get the road at any rate/' but this Arcadian state of mind 
did not long persist. 

With a satisfied public, and with stockholders receiving 
dividends running as high as thirty or forty per cent, one 
might suppose the solution of Chicago's transportation prob- 
lem had been attained. To some degree it had, for there 
can be no doubt that the plank roads were a marked improve- 
ment over anything that had been known before. But actual 
experience revealed many drawbacks which the roseate 
imaginations of the promoters had not foreseen or painted, 
and these, combined with an amazing degree of short- 
sightedness on the part of the operating companies, ere long 
caused the public to utterly abominate the very name of 
plank roads. 

Chiefly, the difficulties encountered concerned themselves 
with the matter of maintenance of the roadway. In theory 
the planks were to rest on a hard road-bed, from which all 
water, and even space for air, was to be rigorously excluded. 
Thus situated, the planks were expected to remain sound 
for a considerable period of years; in time, of course, the 
impact of traffic would wear them out, but the means for 
renewing them would be greater the heavier the volume of 
traffic. But experience quickly demonstrated that over an 
Illinois prairie the road-bed could not be kept free from 
water. To facilitate this the builders had dug ditches on 
each side of the road, but of what avail were ditches when 
they were full? "They are improving the Southwestern 
Plank Road on the low prairie," notes the Chicago Journal 
less than a year after the construction of that thoroughfare, 
"transforming what has at times been a raft into a road''; 
while a letter from Belleville a year or two later anxiously 
urges that some method be devised for fastening the planks 
to the earth. A flood there had floated oflF many, while 
more had been taken up and stacked in piles to avert this 
catastrophe. 

136 



THE PLANK ROAD ERA 

With water under the planks, the impact upon them of 
loaded vehicles caused them to slip, and a cavity soon devel- 
oped. In addition to the extra strain and wear which resulted 
from this condition, the presence of air caused the planks to 
decay on the under side. In the first enthusiasm of plank- 
road construction it had been assumed that three-inch white 
oak plank would last from twelve to fifteen years before 
renewal became necessary and that the annual cost for repairs, 
meanwhile would not exceed ten dollars per mile. This 
estimate proved ridiculously incorrect; but under its influ- 
ence the companies paid out in dividends the large income 
received during the first few years, and no adequate sum was 
set aside for maintenance, or reserve built up for renewal 
of the planking when this should become necessary. 

The consequences of such a course are fairly obvious. 
Before many years, roads became more a source of discomfort 
and danger than of advantage to travelers. Under such 
conditions the public objected to paying the tolls which 
were exacted, or even to using the road at all. The decay of 
one link in the Chicago system, the road from St. Charles 
to Sycamore, is thus described by the historian of DeKalb 
County: **For about one season the road was a decided 
convenience, but soon the hardwood plank became warped 
by the sun ; the road was as rough as the old-fashioned cordu- 
roy; no one used it when they could avoid it; the neighbor- 
ing inhabitants finally confiscated the plank and the road 
was abandoned." The historian of Lake County records 
that in the early sixties he drove almost daily over the 
Lake Shore Plank Road; "it was an even choice between 
jouncing over a causeway with every other plank gone, or 
taking the deep sand on either side." A decade had sufliced 
to span the rise and fall of the plank-road system. **God 
bless the man who invented the plank roads" wrote "Philan- 
thropos" to the Peoria Press in 1853; his feeling on the sub- 
ject ten years later could not have been permitted expression 
in public print. 

137 



CHAPTER VIII 
THE COMMERCE OF THE PRAIRIES 

THE growth of Chicago from the mushroom village 
of 1833, enjoying its first incipient boom, to a city 
of 60,000 twenty years later can be comprehended 
only in the light of the commerce which passed over its sys- 
tem of radiating highways. However poor these thorough- 
fares were, they performed for the growing city an indis- 
pensable service, without which its development would 
have been impossible. 

The best approach to a consideration of the commerce 
of Chicago's early thoroughfares is through an examination 
of the annual port statistics. In the period before the rail- 
road all through shipments of goods between Chicago and 
eastern points went, of course, by water. Two considerations 
however, render it impossible to compile complete and 
definite figures of the annual trade of the city. In the first 
place it was not, in this period, a legal port of entry, and 
such figures as we have of the value and quantity of com- 
modities which annually passed through the Chicago gate- 
way are based in part on contemporary estimates. More 
important than this, however, is the fact that Chicago was 
itself an important center of consumption and distribution 
locally of commodities of western origin, so that an important 
proportion of the products which came overland to the 
city from interior points never found its way eastward by 
water, and therefore finds no place in the city's port statistics. 
It is certain, for example, that none of the salt which the 
Hoosier teamsters hauled from the Wabash to Chicago ever 
found its way to the East; while an abundance of pioneer 
tales make clear the fact that the livestock which was driven 
on foot to Chicago from such points as Bloomington and 

138 



THE COMMERCE OF THE PRAIRIES 

Danville might find its ultimate market at Mineral Point 
or Green Bay, instead of the eastern seaboard. Of finished 
articles of merchandise the West produced practically noth- 
ing, nor did it, in the beginning, have an exportable sur- 
plus of such commodities as it did produce. There was 
urgent need for lumber in every new community, and in 
the forests of Michigan and Wisconsin stood the finest body 
of white pine on earth; yet lumber was long a scarce and 
costly article, and there were even instances of completed 
houses being towed by river from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin. 

Thus it came about that Chicago offered from the begin- 
ning of its growth an important market for eastern mer- 
chandise, while its exports, particularly in the earlier years, 
were comparatively slight in volume. Not until 1836 were 
any exports recorded and then only to the total value of 
$1,000; while the imports of the same year were valued at 
$325,000. The volume of exports gradually gained upon 
imports until by 1847 the respective figures were $2,295,000 
and $2,641,000. With the following year came the open- 
ing of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, and thereafter the 
trade of Chicago increased by leaps and bounds, the prog- 
ress being still further accelerated by the construction, 
within the next few years, of the city's pioneer railroad 
lines. 

Since we are here primarily concerned with the era before 
the railroad and the canal, it will be most profitable to select 
for further examination of the city's commerce, the years 
of the middle forties, immediately before the canal was 
opened. In an extensive review of the business of Chicago 
published by J. W. Norris in 1846, the export trade is stated 
to consist "almost exclusively in produce, raised in the sur- 
rounding country and conveyed to this market by the pro- 
ducers in wagons." 

Easily foremost in volume of these commodities was 
wheat. In 1847, the last year before the canal was opened, 
nearly 2,000,000 bushels were shipped from Chicago, besides 

139 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

32,600 barrels of flour. The only other considerable exports 
of grain were corn, 671,300 bushels, and oats, 38,900 bushels. 
Next to grain came meat and dairy products. The figures 
for these disclose that Chicago had already become an impor- 
tant packing center. Approximately 49,000 barrels of beef and 
pork were shipped in 1847, besides considerable quantities 
of lard, tallow, and hams. Among other items may be noted 
411,000 pounds of wool; 28,000 of tobacco, and 200 barrels 
of whitefish. The existence even at this late date of a consid- 
erable trade in furs is revealed. Sixty bales of buffalo robes, 
and over 28,000 pounds of deer skins, besides 278 pack- 
ages of furs of unnamed variety, are among the export 
items of 1847. Another commodity to which an historical 
interest attaches was ginseng, 3,600 pounds. 

Some general indication has already been afforded of the 
character of the commodities imported to Chicago in the 
period under consideration. By 1847 the place had already 
become an important lumber market, with imports valued 
at more than |26o,ooo. Other bulky imports were salt, 
25,000 barrels, and coal, 16,000 tons. Dry goods and clothing 
were first in value among more finished articles of merchandise, 
followed in respective order by groceries and hardware. These 
items comprised 80 per cent in value of all the merchandise 
imported in 1847. Significantly absent from the list is fur- 
niture; the western immigrant either brought this with him 
or contented himself with rude articles of home manufac- 
ture. Although all paper came from the East the modest 
total of $7,284 sufficed for the needs of Chicago's printing 
trade in 1847. Almost the same sum measured the importa- 
tion of printing presses, types, and materials, while for 
"drugs and medicines," fourteen times as much was spent. 
Although drinking habits were practically universal the 
value of liquor imported was less than that of drugs and 
medicines — the explanation being, of course, that the west- 
ern pioneer drank chiefly whiskey, which was manufac- 
tured in his home community. 

1 40 



THE COMMERCE OF THE PRAIRIES 

The excursion we have just made into the field of sta- 
tistics supplies the background for a more detailed consid- 
eration of the commerce of the prairies three-quarters of a 
century ago. Toward Chicago, from a radius of 200 miles 
around, poured — in seasons when the highways were pass- 
able — a steady stream of wagons laden with the produce of 
the countryside; wheat, corn, oats, beans, barley, lead from 
the Galena mines, and a variety of forest products, besides 
green and dried fruits from the Wabash. In addition droves 
of cattle and hogs — the latter lean, long-limbed, and wild — 
wended their way by converging routes to their common 
doom in the slaughter yards of the incipient metropolis 
beside the sluggish Chicago. Returning, the wagons con- 
veyed such supplies of coffee, salt, and groceries, stoves, 
crockery, or other merchandise as might be needed to sup- 
ply the farmer's household, or perchance to replenish the 
retail stock of the storekeeper of his home community. 

The vehicle of transportation — the predecessor of the 
modern freight car — was, of course, the wagon; but of this 
there were two types, so distinct in origin and appearance 
as to proclaim, far as they might be seen, the antecedents 
and place of origin of their possessors. 

One was the Hoosier wagon, some mention of which has 
already been made; the other, the "Yankee wagon." The 
"Yankee" was an eastern man who came from New York 
or New England. In either case he bore the more prom- 
inent characteristics of the New Englander, and these found 
outward expression in his vehicle of transportation. "He 
was marked," writes a local historian, "as far as his caravan 
could be seen, by a long-coupled, low-boxed, two-horse 
wagon, provided with a seat, from which with double lines 
the driver guided his lightly-harnessed pair of horses. There 
was about each part of the outfit evidence of the close cal- 
culation of means to an end, and an air of utility which 
left no room for doubt as to the purpose of the maker in 
every part of it." 

141 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

More picturesque far was the Hoosier wagon, which 
elicited wondering comment from almost every traveler 
of the time. The term Hoosier today is synonymous with 
Indianian, but in the pioneer period it was more loosely 
applied to anyone from Pennsylvania or any of the states 
lying to the southward of that commonwealth. The Hoosier 
wagon originated in Pennsylvania about the middle of the 
eighteenth century, where in the course of time it came 
to be known as the Conestoga wagon. This was developed 
to meet the needs of the large German population in the inte- 
rior settlements without water transportation, and until 
the era of the canal and railroad was regarded as the highest 
type of freight vehicle in America. 

The settlement of the Ohio Valley created a demand for 
the transportation of large quantities of groceries and dry 
goods to supply the wants of the western region, and a great 
teaming business between Philadelphia and Pittsburg grew 
up. During the War of 1812 these teamsters rendered essen- 
tial service to the government in transporting munitions 
and supplies to the armies on the western frontier. 

Developed in a hill country by a Germanic population, 
the Conestoga wagon reflected the characteristics of the 
two. Ponderous of construction, with massive wheels and 
hubs, the huge wagon-bed had a decided curve in the bot- 
tom, analogous to that of a canoe, the object being to pre- 
vent the cargo from slipping either backward or forward 
in ascending or descending hills. Over it was a white can- 
vas cover stretched on bows which at front and rear pro- 
jected outward at an angle of forty-five degrees. The vehicle 
was drawn either by four or six heavy draft horses, usually 
black, and always fat and sleek. The pride of the teamster 
in his outfit found expression both in the care he gave to his 
horses and in the trappings and decorations placed on them. 
The massive harness, with its heavy, clanking chain-traces, 
was frequently decorated in a fashion bordering upon extrava- 
gance. On the hames were heavy bearskin coverings, the 

142 



THE COMMERCE OF THE PRAIRIES 

harness glittered with brass-headed rivets, rings and other 
ornaments, while red plumes nodded from the headband, 
and above the broad backhand or over the points of the 
hames hung bows of melodious bells. The teamster rode 
the "high wheeler," and guided his spirited steeds with a 
single rein. 

Such was the Conestoga wagon at its best, commanding 
the attention and admiration of all beholders. Its use spread 
to Virginia and Carolina, and over the famous National 
Road it moved westward into Ohio and Indiana, where it 
found a second domicile in the valley of the Wabash, and 
even pressed onward to the plains of Illinois and the lead 
mines of Wisconsin. But the Hoosier wagon of the western 
states differed from the Conestoga in its glory in certain 
subtle yet obvious ways. The massiveness of construction, 
and to a certain degree the love of ornamentation, were 
retained, but the Hoosier lacked much of the pride and 
thrift of the Conestoga farmer; above all he lacked the 
splendid horses of Pennsylvania, although his wagon, drawn 
oftentimes by oxen, might still be an impressive thing. 

Between the trim "Yankee" wagon of the New Eng- 
lander and its massive Hoosier rival was waged on the 
prairies of Illinois a significant struggle which found its 
counterpart in the fields of politics and government. In the 
beginning the Hoosier wagon dominated the commerce of 
the prairies, for Illinois was for many years essentially a 
southern state. With the inrush of settlement by way of 
the Lakes in the thirties and forties, however, the Yankee 
element came to the fore, and gradually crowded the Hoosier 
wagon off the highways of the state. "At the eastern line 
of Grundy County," says the local historian whom we have 
already quoted, "the civilization of the broad-tread wagon 
and the narrow-tread met. With all the other inconveniences, 
the farmers of this section found that their wagons had a 
hard road to travel, even when it was well constructed, one 
wheel being on the unbroken or unsettled roadway all the 

143 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

time. This was soon remedied by the adoption of narrow- 
tread wagons, but the other difficulties still remained." 

In these brief sentences our writer has described a revolu- 
tion which the statesman of the time might have pondered 
with profit. With the triumph of Yankee efficiency, as typi- 
fied in the "narrow-tread civilization," Illinois became a 
northern state, and in the persons of Grant and Lincoln 
supplied the two great leaders who saved the nation in the 
struggle of the sixties. 

From the pioneer narratives that have come down to us 
an accurate picture can be drawn of the manner of life of 
the teamsters who drove the long caravans of produce to 
the Chicago market. Then, as now, the farmer eagerly 
watched for a favorable price to dispose of his crops. When 
this condition chanced to coincide with a state of weather 
which rendered the highways passable, the grain and other 
produce was promptly started to market. Starting out alone, 
perhaps, with his single wagon, the driver would from time 
to time fall in with others until he found himself part of a 
caravan which grew ever larger as he approached his destina- 
tion. There was practical n^ed of such companionship, for 
the stalling of a wagon in a slough was of frequent occur- 
rence, and the aid of fellow teamsters in unloading the wagon 
and drawing it from the morass was indispensable. Such 
aid was rendered as a matter of course, for every driver 
knew that it would soon be his turn to call for help. The 
jovial Hoosier wagoners even developed a well-recognized 
law of the road whereby he who succeeded in extracting a 
stalled wagon with the same number of horses as his unfortu- 
nate neighbor drove, was entitled to appropriate the string 
of harness bells of the latter, by way of signalizing his tri- 
umph and the prowess of his steeds. 

Since produce was hauled to Chicago from a radius of 
two hundred miles around, the teamster must be absent 
from home a period of days, or even weeks. If the proceeds 
of his load were to exceed the expense of making the journey, 

'44 



THE COMMERCE OF THE PRAIRIES 

therefore, he must travel and live exceedingly cheap. This 
end was attained by carrying most of his food with him, 
and camping out at night. There remained the need for 
certain accommodations which he could not supply, par- 
ticularly in winter, and all along the line of the main thor- 
oughfares leading to Chicago inns were developed which 
catered to the special needs of the teamster. 

An intelligent youth of Yankee antecedents, whose par- 
ents settled near Belvidere in 1843, has left us an intimate 
picture of his experiences as a teamster between that point 
and Chicago, covering a period of several years. His sum- 
mers were devoted to work on the farm and his autumns 
and winters to hauling wheat or other produce to market. 
The distance, in this case, was eighty miles, and a definite 
schedule was adopted. The driver would leave home early 
on Monday morning with a load of forty or fifty bushels. 
Traveling at the rate of thirty miles a day, he would reach 
Chicago some time after noon on Wednesday. The wheat 
would be disposed of and the merchandise for the return jour- 
ney, if any, purchased before night. With an empty, or 
lightly loaded wagon the return journey could be made in 
two days, the stop for the night being usually made at Elgin. 

With wheat at forty cents a bushel, the amount realized 
for the load would be from $16 to ^18, while the cost to the 
driver of his five-day trip, if no unusual delay or disaster 
were encountered would be about three dollars. The farmer, 
therefore, for the produce of two or more acres of wheat 
plus five additional days toil of man and team hauling it to 
market, received scarcely more than does the modern skilled 
workman for a single day's labor. How with such returns 
men could live and rear families, even on land procured 
from the government, is difficult for the present generation 
to comprehend. 

How a man and team could pass five days and four nights 
away from home with an expenditure for food and shelter of 
but three dollars, likewise requires elucidation. The teamster 

>45 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

carried from home enough grain to feed his horses, and food 
for his own noon luncheon. For supper, lodging, and break- 
fast for himself and stable room and hay for his team, the 
country tavern charged fifty to seventy cents, while the like 
accommodations for the one night spent in Chicago might 
run as high as a dollar. 

Our narrator always put up at the Chicago Temperance 
House, which stood on Wells Street between Lake and 
South Water. This was a four-story structure, the entire 
top floor of which was given over to teamsters and farmers. 
It consisted of a single room, with a double row of beds 
running the entire length of the chamber. In winter it was 
**as cold as if there were no fire within a thousand miles"; 
in summer the temperature stood at the opposite extreme. 

The conduct of the teamster while on the road was gov- 
erned by the state of the weather. Whenever the tempera- 
ture permitted he rode on his load; when he became cold, 
or in danger of freezing, he walked beside it. When, as some- 
times happened, the mercury sank far below zero, the driver 
did not ride at all, since only by constant exercise could 
he keep from freezing. It is to be remembered, in this con- 
nection, that such articles of dress as felt boots, overshoes, 
and underwear were to him undreamed-of luxuries. 

In order to make his scheduled distance, the teamster was 
frequently on the road until eight or nine o'clock in the 
evening. Then, numbed with cold and weary from hours 
of monotonous toil, with appetite ravenous from long abstin- 
ence, it was "mighty fine" to draw up at the tavern, care 
for his horses, and enter the bar-room with its rousing fire 
and atmosphere of good fellowship. As many as fifty team- 
sters might put up for the night at the same tavern. All 
day long they had been traveling in procession, the men 
walking beside the wagon track, usually talking and getting 
acquainted. Entertainment for the night included as much 
whiskey as one might care for, a practice that conduced to 
much drinking. When the teams had been cared for and the 

146 



THE COMMERCE OF THE PRAIRIES 

men had entered the tavern someone would call for drinks 
all around. If it was cold, the pretext would be "take some- 
thing to warm up"; in hot weather the excuse of drinking 
to cool off came with equal ease. 

The lot of a teamster in winter seems dreary enough at 
the best; but when, as on occasion happened, a "January 
thaw" descended, tribulations multiplied upon the unhappy 
driver. A case in point is related by a Grundy County 
pioneer. Some drovers were driving a lot of hogs to Chi- 
cago, when near Old Mazon some of the animals gave out 
and it was necessary to slaughter them. The owners there- 
upon hired the near-by farmer for twelve dollars to take a 
load of the dressed animals to Chicago. In company with 
another team he set out, going by way of Morris. Here 
they crossed the Illinois River on the ice, but immediately 
thereafter the mercury began to climb and the rain to descend, 
with the result that soon the jaded horses could no longer 
pull the wagons through the mud. About half way to the 
city the drivers were compelled to leave half their load by 
the way, covering it with hay to prevent the meat from 
becoming spoiled. With desperate exertions the half-loaded 
wagons were hauled to their destination, but a second trip 
had now to be made for the remainder of the meat, and the 
mud became steadily deeper until on the return journey 
the wheels sank to the hubs most of the way. On reaching 
Morris, with a thousand feet of pine lumber which the drivers 
had taken on at Chicago, the river was found running bank 
full and crossing was out of the question. To utilize the 
time until the weather should change and the river freeze 
again the wagons were loaded with coal which was hauled 
to some blacksmiths in Kendall County. 

On their return they found that ice had formed in the 
middle of the river, but at either margin was a strip of open 
water which defied passage. Impatient of further delay, 
the men resorted to the dangerous expedient of bridging 
the open water with the lumber brought from Chicago. 

147 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

The wagon was then pushed by hand on to the ice, where 
one horse was hitched to the tongue and the other led behind 
the wagon to distribute the weight as much as possible. 
Arrived at the south bank, the bridge gave way and wagon, 
horses, and driver were immersed in the freezing water. 
The leading horse swam out, pulling the wagon to land, 
but the other animal refused to swim, and was rescued 
only by strenuous exertions on the part of the driver. 
This, and the work of collecting the lumber kept him 
in the water an hour or more. Piling the lumber up 
on the bank, he made his way home half-frozen and 
with empty wagon, just three weeks after setting out for 
Chicago. 

More colorful, if not more exciting, are the early narra- 
tives of teaming in the summer season. Then the driver, 
especially in the earlier years, camped out nights along the 
way. His equipment consisted of a blanket or two, a coffee 
pot and frying pan, coffee and bacon enough for the entire 
journey, and bread sufficient to last him to Chicago. At 
night a group of wagons would usually assemble, and around 
the evening fire stories would be told or athletic feats indulged 
until time to "turn in." Although the Middle West seems 
never to have developed a class of professional teamsters, 
there are traces here and there of the beginning of such a 
development. The drivers on the Chicago-Bloomington 
road, a pioneer records, were considered a tough class of 
men, who helped themselves to corn and other provisions 
of the farmers along the route. The latter seldom protested 
against this practice, since their only recourse was to take 
their pay "out of the hide" of the teamster, and this pro- 
ceeding promised more of danger than of profit. A favorite 
pastime of the jovial teamsters on this route was that of 
"crowding" the Frink and Walker stage coaches, whenever 
the latter were encountered. The stage drivers soon learned 
to avoid with care the massive hubs of the teamsters six-ox 
wagons. From as far south as Springfield produce was 

148 



THE COMMERCE OF THE PRAIRIES 

hauled to Chicago along this thoroughfare, the trip requir- 
ing, even when all went well, from two to three weeks. 

More and more as the years passed and inns sprang up 
along the thoroughfares, the teamsters resorted to them for 
entertainment over night. Both food and labor, the princi- 
pal items of expense to the innkeeper, were abundant and 
cheap, and since the teamster was not a fastidious customer, 
there was keen rivalry for his patronage. Yet he had his 
own methods of appraisal and would sometimes drive until 
a late hour at night in order to reach a favorite tavern. 
A common test, when the driver was traversing the road 
for the first time and unacquainted with the taverns, was 
to look out for a fat dog and a well-trodden corral. The 
latter indicated that the place was patronized by teamsters, 
the former that a bountiful table was set, since otherwise 
there would have been nothing left over for the dog. 

The drover, unlike the teamster, was seldom in danger 
of being mired, but this freedom was perhaps counterbal- 
anced by other troubles peculiar to his calling. The farmer 
of today will be at a loss to understand how hogs could 
be driven 200 miles or more to the Chicago market as was 
commonly done three-quarters of a century ago. The explana- 
tion lies in the character of the hogs, which were quite a 
different breed from the blooded and pampered porkers of 
the twentieth century. Hogs, especially, came from the 
Wabash country to Chicago, although southern and central 
Illinois also furnished a respectable quota. The Hoosier 
farmer allowed his hogs to run at large in the forest, foraging 
acorns and such other provender as might be turned up. 
The owner oftentimes did not see his stock for months 
together, and the animals might even be born in the woods 
and grow up without having known the fostering care of men. 
Under these conditions they became half-wild creatures, 
and there are even stories of early travelers being attacked 
by them. Long of limb, gaunt, and tough, they might run 
in the woods for two or three years before the owner adjudged 

149 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

them ready for market. The process of corraling the animals 
was not unattended with difficulty. They might be led to 
captivity with the aid of corn judiciously distributed; or 
it might be necessary to hunt them down one at a time with 
dogs. Once penned, they were subjected to a mild process 
of taming and fattening for a few days and then started for 
market. Whoever essayed to drive such a herd of half-wild 
creatures two hundred miles through forest and plain must 
be a person of resource and experience. At times, of course, 
the hogs were slaughtered on the farm, and the carcasses 
hauled to Chicago in wagons. Dressed pork was, indeed, 
one of the comparatively few farm products for a load of 
which the farmer could get enough to make possible his haul- 
ing it to a market 150 or 200 miles distant. 

One important phase of prairie commerce which eddied 
about, rather than through, Chicago, has been completely 
lost to the knowledge of the present generation. I allude to 
the extensive teaming business of the mining country, which 
annually drew large numbers of men from the settled regions 
of Indiana and southern Illinois. Allied to this was the 
"breaking" of the newly settled prairies of northern Illi- 
nois and southern Wisconsin, which likewise drew hundreds 
of Hoosiers and Suckers to this section each season. In the 
spring, therefore, the roads leading to the lead mines would 
be crowded with teamsters from Indiana, Kentucky, and 
lower Illinois, all passing northward with their covered 
wagons drawn by four, six, or even more horses or oxen. 
Especially heavy was this traffic on the Peoria-Galena road. 
With the approach of winter the roads were again crowded, 
this time with teamsters passing southward to spend the 
winter in their home communities. Commonly, in the min- 
ing country, these migratory teamsters were known as 
"suckers," and it seems fairly probable that to them the 
state of lUinois is indebted for the popular name of "sucker" 
state. For the "sucker shoot," as the act of going south 
to winter was known in the mines, might be made by schooner 

150 



THE COMMERCE OF THE PRAIRIES 

overland as readily as by steamboat on the river; and it 
seems certain that the number of teamsters who made the 
seasonal migration far exceeded that of those who traveled 
to and from the mines by Mississippi River steamers. 

For the breaking of the prairies, as the first plowing of 
the virgin soil was known, the Hoosier seemed to have a 
special talent; at any rate he was a familiar figure in all the 
counties of Illinois and Wisconsin as far north as the Wis- 
consin River. In plows as in wagons the Hoosier mind 
worked out a massive creation, and the Hoosier plowman 
in action was a sight to inspire the pen of a poet. The plow 
itself has been often described, but never better than by the 
Rev. Alfred Bronson, pioneer of Methodism in Wisconsin. 
"It was among common plows," he records, "like an ele- 
phant among cows and oxen. The wooden mold-board was 
about four feet long with a wind sufficient to turn the sod 
completely over; the steel share was some two and a half 
feet long, and would cut a width of two feet, the sod being 
turned flat bottom upwards. It required from five to ten 
yoke of oxen to drag such a plow through the sod, the roots 
of the grass being very thick and tough. The share was 
thick, stiff, and sharp enough — kept so by filing — that if 
the root of a tree or bush of any size from four inches down 
came in the way it was cut square off. The sod was usually 
cut from three to four inches deep, and being turned over 
smooth and even, each succeeding furrow exactly fitted the 
space left by its predecessor, so that the whole field would 
be as level and smooth as before it was plowed." 

In Will County, Illinois, lived a famous blacksmith, John 
Lane, especially noted for his breaking-plows. "On many 
and many an acre of Will County," writes the pioneer his- 
torian, "did Lane's plows upturn the sod, drawn by four to 
eight yoke of oxen and steers, and propelled by a ten-foot 
ox-gad mounted with a lash perhaps as long, the snap of 
which wielded by the Hoosier driver resounded like the 
crack of a rifle. On, on, over the prairie swells, with steady 

151 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

but ruthless tread, moved the long breaking team; and on, 
on, came the giant plow, cutting the turf with its sharp 
coulter, and turning over with its mold-board the rich earth 
in long, black ribbons; before it blooming and fragrant herb 
and beautiful flowers; behind it a dreary waste of black, 
fat humus, inviting the steps and stimulating the hopes of 
the sturdy planter. Ah! Breaking teams, plows, Hoosier 
drivers, prairies, and old Lane himself are now things of 
the past!" 

Another familiar character who has been crowded from 
the highways by the changes time has wrought was the old- 
time itinerant peddler. Traveling his periodical round, he 
brought to the lonely women and children of the pioneer 
villages and farms glimpses of the luxury and romance of 
the mysterious outside world. Of one such character of the 
forties a charming picture is preserved in Helen Bingham's 
History of Green County, Wisconsin. An imaginary observer 
is looking on at the dance in the dining-room of the village 
tavern. "Occasionally, in the pauses of the dance, he hears 
the people say, in joyful manner, "Tomorrow we shall know; 
I'll have mine tomorrow; the peddler comes tomorrow." It 
is Mr. Ludlow upon whose coming these expectations hang. 
To his energy the people are indebted for many comforts and 
conveniences otherwise unattainable. His route is from 
Chicago to Madison, via Rockford, Belvidere, and Monroe; 
and though there are only blazed trees and Indian trails to 
mark the way, he makes the trip every month. In the sum- 
mer, he crosses the river in ferry boats. In the spring and fall, 
when the strength of the ice is uncertain, he first walks across. 
If there are no signs of danger, he crosses with one horse. If 
it still seems safe, the wagon is taken over. His customers are 
always watching for him at the appointed time. Hastening 
to meet him, they ask; 'Did you remember my tobacco? 
Have you brought some pretty calico?' And he is always 
able to say he has remembered and brought whatever they 

wish." 

151 



THE COMMERCE OF THE PRAIRIES 

Through this same character, Peddler Ludlow, we gain a 
glimpse of another industry which has long vanished among 
the shadows of the past. Because of the superstitious ideas 
of a slant-eyed oriental race living io,cx50 miles away, the 
ginseng which grew wild in the Wisconsin woods was a 
highly-prized article of commerce. It chanced that Green was 
a famous "sang" county, and men women, and children 
devoted their leisure hours to digging the root, which grew 
abundantly in this vicinity. A letter written from Monroe, 
the county seat, in August, 1846 says; "Flour is three dollars 
a barrel, wheat can't be sold. Oats are 12^ cents and corn 
20 cents a bushel. Wild hay is $21.50 per ton. A boy from 
Maine has dug 500 pounds of ginseng within three months 
and sold it for 22 cents a pound." 

The natural consequence followed that within a few years 
the supply of ginseng was exhausted. Meanwhile, Ludlow had 
purchased all that was offered and shipped it to New York 
where he sold it at a handsome profit. By this and other 
transactions in a few years he accumulated capital enough to 
permit him to abandon the highway and settle in Monroe, 
where he opened a store. 



CHAPTER IX 
STAGE COACHES AND TRAVEL 

THE counterpart, three-quarters of a century ago, of 
the twentieth century passenger train was the stage 
coach, which might vary in character from the ordinary 
farmer's wagon impressed into service for the conveyance of 
travelers, to the ornate and aristocratic Concord coach. To 
this was accorded in the realm of passenger travel the position 
of primacy which among freight vehicles was held by the 
lordly Conestoga wagon. It stands for all time in America 
as the acme of achievement in horse-drawn passenger vehicles, 
and when toward the middle of the nineteenth century the 
superiority of steam over horse flesh as a motive power was 
demonstrated, the early passenger cars were modeled in 
conscious imitation of the vehicle which they were about to 
crowd into oblivion. 

The story of the development of the Concord coach is one 
of the most satisfactory in the annals of American industry. 
In August, 1 8 13, Lewis Downing, a young artisan from 
Lexington, Massachusetts, through the columns of the 
weekly Concord Patriot "respectfully" informed the towns- 
men that he had opened a wheelwright's shop in Concord 
where he flattered himself that "by strict and constant atten- 
tion to business" he would "merit the patronage of the 
public." For a dozen years the business progressed in a 
small way, until in 1826 the industrious proprietor decided 
to add to it the building of coaches. To this end he engaged 
J. S. Abbott, a young artisan of Salem, to come to Concord 
and build for him three coach bodies, the rest of the work 
being done by Downing's own workmen. In July, 1827, the 
first coach was completed and sold to a local stage driver. It 
was the pioneer of a long and famous line, for within the next 

154 



STAGE COACHES AND TRAVEL 

generation Concord coaches found their way to the ends of 
the earth. In California, Peru, Australia, the Transvaal — 
wherever advancing civilization pushed its way — the Concord 
coach became a familiar sight. Before the advance of rail- 
road construction the famous vehicle was forced to retire to 
ever more remote and inaccessible regions, until at length the 
advent of the gas-propelled wagon wrought its final doom. 
Detroit replaced Concord as the center for the production of 
passenger highway vehicles, and now only in an occasional 
museum can a specimen of the old-time coach be found. 

In its final form, which was reached, apparently, about 
1830, the Concord coach represented the product of a seventy- 
five year period of evolution. The body was oval, but flattened 
on top to permit the carrying of baggage. Within were three 
cross seats, each designed to hold three passengers. Those on 
the front seat faced the rear, the others toward the front of 
the coach. The driver sat on an elevated seat in front of the 
covered body, while at the rear was a triangular, leather- 
covered space known as the "boot," wherein such baggage 
was bestowed as did not ride on top. The enclosed body was 
supported by heavy "thorough braces," made of numerous 
strips of leather riveted together. By this device, instead of 
the constant bumping which had attended the traveler in the 
older stage wagon, the passenger was subjected to a succession 
of oscillations whose violence was directly proportioned to the 
roughness of the road. 

The coach-body was brightly painted in shades of green, 
yellow, or red, and the panels were decorated with paintings 
of landscapes, or of noted historical characters. The interiors, 
too, were attractively painted and upholstered, while the 
individual coach bore the name of some noted statesman or 
other character. With the coming of the railroads this custom 
was transferred to the early locomotives, and it survives 
today in the naming of Pullman cars. The stage driver was 
a man of consequence in the community, and he never 
omitted an opportunity to impress this fact upon all with 

155 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

whom he came in contact. He carried a trumpet which he 
loudly blew to announce the arrival of the stage at a tavern, 
and both arrival and departure were made with his four-horse 
team lashed into a run. Such was the Concord stage at its 
best, and the impression it made on the community is well 
set forth in the following narration by a western man of 
certain recollections of his boyhood: "He was fresh from a 
small western farm, and had often been to the village near by, 
and with wide open eyes and bated breath had seen the 
great old Concord stage come into town with four prancing 
horses and was nearly blinded in looking upon the great man 
who held the lines and the beautiful long whip — the observed 
of all, the glass of fashion and the mold of form. He had at 
one time the temerity to clamber up and look into the coach, 
with its brass furnishing and leather. What an Aladdin's 
cave met his eyes. . . . He had seen the stage tavern, the 
only one in the place, and envied the royal high-life of its 
boarders — the village lawyer and doctor and hatter, and a 
merchant, and others who worked at their tools in the little 
town. All these were favored, even great, people, but their 
lights paled when the whip stepped forth with that peculiar 
swagger, now a lost art to the world, of a stage driver, chewing 
tobacco, and who always wore a broad leather belt instead 
of suspenders. He was the man of authority with whom even 
the schoolmaster would esteem it a most distinguishing 
honor to have been found in company or in confidential 
conversation." 

Back of this glorious creation was, of course, a business 
organization which attended to such prosaic but necessary 
details as arranging stage schedules and routes, and providing 
the requisite supplies of horses, hay, grain, equipment of all 
kinds, repair shops, and even the monthly pay of the auto- 
cratic drivers. In the early period of settlement in Illinois 
stage lines were few in number, and the work of administering 
them was correspondingly simple. With the increase of 
travel, however, came the demand for more capital to supply 

,56 



STAGE COACHES AND TRAVEL 

the public needs, and therewith for a more elaborate business 
organization. 

Towering above all competitors in the Chicago area was 
the firm of Frink and Walker, which for years enjoyed a 
practical monopoly of passenger transportation over a large 
portion of the Middle West. John Frink, who seems to have 
been the dominant figure in the partnership, was a veritable 
Connecticut Yankee, having been born at Ashford in 1797. 
Early in life he entered upon the stage business, one of his 
first ventures being a line between Boston and Albany. A 
branch line to New York City was soon added, and this grew 
at length into a line from New York to Montreal. Frink was 
thus an experienced man of affairs when in 1836 he migrated 
to Chicago. Here he purchased the stage line running to 
Ottawa, and from this beginning in the West his operations 
extended until they covered most of the state of Illinois, 
with widespread ramifications in all of the neighboring states. 

An inseparable accompaniment of the stage business in 
this period was the transportation of the mails. Indeed, the 
United States Postoffice Department commonly pioneered the 
way for the stage lines of the West, by establishing post roads 
through newly settled regions and letting contracts for the 
carrying of the mails over them. The substantial aid which 
this subsidy provided was frequently indispensable, partic- 
ularly in the earlier period of settlement, to the establishment 
and maintenance of stage routes, and the bidder who gained 
the coveted contract thereby attained a position which 
enabled him to bid defiance to all competitors, at least as far 
as the route in question was concerned. 

The firm of Frink and Walker proved singularly successful 
in obtaining mail contracts from the government, and in the 
absence of other records the data concerning these now 
afford the best indication of its activities. Thus in June, 1850, 
when the firm was probably near the height of its business 
development, a Washington correspondent reported to his 
St. Louis paper that its mail contracts in Illinois aggregated 

157 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

,000 a year. Besides these, it had contracts in the states 
of Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan amount- 
ing to $50,000; and the total sum of its contracts was shortly 
to be increased to $150,000 annually. In a day when the spoils 
principle was accorded universal recognition in the realm of 
politics, it is evident that someone connected with the firm 
must have been possessed of no mean order of political talent 
to obtain, year after year, the extensive contracts of which 
the figures cited afford evidence. Apparently this man was 
the senior partner, John Frink, for his biographer states that 
he spent much of his time in Washington. That such influence 
was exerted, was freely charged by unsuccessful competitors 
for the contracts. Probably the firm of Frink and Walker 
discharged the duties assumed at least as well as their critics 
would have performed them, had they been successful in the 
bidding, but success, particularly on a widespread scale, 
ever stirs up envious comment, and contemporary newspaper 
criticism of the "huge monopoly," which, having broken down 
all opposition, proceeded to do as it pleased, sound curiously 
modern to the twentieth-century reader. 

The scanty records available concerning John Frink inspire 
the reader with a desire to know more about him. Of an 
aggressive temperament, he would brook no opposition in 
business and competitors were ruthlessly driven from the 
field. The story of one famous contest of this kind in the 
middle forties, carried down to us in the memory of a pioneer 
settler, is worth retelling here. 

The contest grew out of the circumstance that for once, at 
least, Frink had encountered a better politician than himself. 
When the letting of the mail contracts for the ensuing year 
was announced, it appeared that all the contracts which 
Frink and Walker had previously enjoyed had been captured 
by an outsider. General Hinton of the Ohio Stage Company. 
The partners recognized, of course, that without the contracts 
the operation of their stage lines would be attended with 
loss, and Walker, beset with anxiety over the situation, urged 

158 



STAGE COACHES AND TRAVEL 

Upon Frink that they should endeavor to arrange with Hinton 
for some division of the field, or failing this, should sell off 
their property and retire from business. 

Frink, however, rejected with disdain this proposal, declar- 
ing that no interloper should take over his territory without 
a fight, and that he would show the authorities at Washington 
that if the mails were to be carried at all it would be by the 
firm of Frink and Walker. In due time General Hinton 
appeared on the scene with a caravan of coaches and horses 
and began operations. The public, however, sympathized 
with the "old line," and the Hinton stages were not over- 
burdened with business. To attract patronage, therefore, the 
proprietor made a cut in fares. This was promptly countered 
by Frink and Walker making a still lower cut, which Hinton 
followed in turn until travel over the rival lines became 
practically free, with meals thrown in for good measure. 

The rival coaches traveled the same route at the same 
hours, and races were of frequent occurrence. In those days 
wealthy southern planters often came north by river boat to 
Cairo or St. Louis, whence they took stage to Chicago, pro- 
ceeding thence around the lakes to some eastern resort. It 
need scarcely be said that they greatly enjoyed these im- 
promptu races over the prairies, urging on their own driver 
by liberal promises of money and liquor, and hurling wild 
jeers at the passengers and driver of the rival coach. The 
spirit of Frink rose to the combat and orders were given to 
his drivers never to permit a Hinton coach to pass them. 
When, as on occasion happened, a Frink and Walker coach 
came in last, the unfortunate driver was soundly berated for 
his failure to observe the order. If he ventured the excuse 
that he did not wish to kill his horses, Frink would retort 
with an oath, 'T find horses, I want you to find whips." 

Both lines maintained headquarters and veterinary stables 
and hospitals in Chicago, and Frink, whose home was in 
Peoria, took his station at that place to direct operations. 
Horses were frequently disabled, of course, and those of the 

159 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

Hinton line were brought in to Chicago by day for treat- 
ment. Frink, however, directed that his disabled horses should 
be brought to the hospital only by night; and when questioned 
as to why his line had no disabled animals, while the opposi- 
tion had so many, he gave the ready explanation that this 
difference was due to the superiority of the drivers. They 
knew the country, and when a coach was mired in a slough, 
knew how by quiet command, to extricate it without injuring 
their animals. The "green fellows from Ohio," on the con- 
trary, when in a similar dilemma would begin to swear and 
lash the horses, causing one to spring forward while the others 
hung back, and thus the driver came out with an injured 
animal. 

The merry war was still at its height, with people traveling 
over the country cheaper than they could live at home, when 
Frink by quiet inquiries in Chicago and St. Louis learned 
that Hinton had been borrowing considerable money from 
the banks on notes that were about to mature. Fortified 
with this information he went grimly on with the war until 
Hinton at length sent an agent with an offer of compromise. 
Walker was eager to settle the difficulty on any terms obtain- 
able, but Frink swore roundly that Hinton had begun the war 
and must end it at his own cost; if he wanted Frink and 
Walker out of the way, he must pay them a good price to 
withdraw. 

After some days of negotiation, Hinton agreed to buy the 
property of the rival firm at an extravagant valuation, pay- 
ing a small sum in cash and giving a series of long-time notes 
for the remainder of the debt. When the parties met with 
their lawyers to conclude the transaction, Frink inquired 
who was to be the backer of Hinton's notes. Hinton answered 
that nothing had been said about a backer, and asked whom 
Frink wanted. "I want Billy Neeley of the Ohio Stage Com- 
pany," was the answer. "Why," replied Hinton, "Mr 
Neeley wouldn't be my backer. We quarreled before I left 
Ohio, or you wouldn't have had me here in Illinois." 

1 60 




! Grutioi'u 



[; , FDBLIG NOTICi:, 

f^F«E3i> f«f€REASffi:i> &, FAKI^ 

^■^ ~ TIIF. Chicago and Galoufi 
Mail ''r-t-^pa, v/ill hcreafipr 

„-._- Je-iyp Ci;JoagQ: via Kigin, 

'cOoToy Fr€ep(>rt/ Vi'^ddain'^ Grovo 
'0 and ¥/hite OukSprin/rR to Galc- 
no «Tej7 TufiSdaj, *' hurciday nnd .Sunday at. 7 
o'ciuck A, M% and wi'J arrive at Ga';or.a ne-xf 
fIfiYi: byS o'clock P,"r>I., 

Rciuroingwiil leave the Galena Rolcl even' 
Tueadr.y, Thursday mid Srnday, nt 3 o'clock A. 
M. findnfrive at Chicago next days by 8 o'clock 
P. M., making the routo each way. m two dnys, 
in FourHdrfe Post Cbaclios, (not waoons) ex- 
pediting the nutil o^•E. PAY, two trips, at.d two 
DAVs tho third i lip, each week. Tare !hro;iji!i 
?♦ doUar.3,, and frora .Chicago and Galena to 
and from Rockfoid each 5, An eniiro nev,' 
stock ofprofiertyliaahecn placed on llio route 
from .Rock for a to Galena, .with^ stoady and ex- 
periencod dnvoi'B. The public arc invited to 
T)- the same, and ju(It;c for thcniaelvea of its' 
merits, aud tlio acooiiunoda'ioua. ou the route. — 
For eoals apply at.Uio Gcncial'Sta<;e Office, cor- 
nor.pl' Lskoaii.d. Chirk rta., Chicago, and at the 
Crrilinri (lot^. I, G ilciM, whcio correct inforrna. 
lion and proir.jio uUcntion will at al! times be 
giv(!(i. . 

FRINK, WALKER, v^- Co. 

Proprioiora. 

Chicago, Juno 7, 1841. d.^ v,!l 



RAPID TRANSIT ON THE CHICAGO-GALENA LINE 

IN 1841 

This advertisement, reproduced by courtesy of the Chicago 

Historical Society, was published in the Chicago 

American of June, 1841 



i 



STAGE COACHES AND TRAVEL 

"By God, that Is just what I wanted to know, and I will 
run you to hell," retorted Frink, and abruptly terminating 
the Interview strode out of the office. Within a short period 
HInton's notes matured. Being unable to meet them, his 
property was attached; the unfortunate proprietor, seeing 
all was lost, fled to Texas, then a favorite resort of adventurers 
and outlaws from the states, and his stage line went to ruin. 
For weeks the malls went unearned, until the contracts were 
relet to the old firm of FrInk and Walker. 

The first stage line to enter Chicago was the one from 
Detroit In 1833. The following winter Dr. Temple opened 
the line to St. Louis, and thereafter the development of stage 
lines In the region tributary to Chicago kept pace with the 
growth of settlement. Some Interesting facts on the extent 
of the development In the first dozen years are found In the 
business directory of 1846, when Chicago had already become 
the wonder-city of the West, with a population of over 14,000 
souls. Four steamboats arrived and departed daily during 
the season of navigation, carrying an average of 430 pas- 
sengers, the estimated total for the season being 92,020. 
There were eight arrivals and departures of stages daily, 
having an average number of fifteen passengers, amounting 
to 120 a day and 43,800 for the entire year. 

Pursuing the inquiry further, we find that at this time 
there was a daily stage service between Chicago and Peoria. 
Tri-weekly stages ran to Galena, both by way of Dixon and 
over the northern route through Freeport and Rockford. 
Between Chicago and Detroit and Chicago and Milwaukee 
the stage service was modified by the existence of water 
transportation. In the season of open navigation stages ran 
tri-weekly to Milwaukee; when navigation closed, a daily 
schedule was established. By 1846 the Michigan Central 
Railroad was In operation as far as Kalamazoo, and the 
Michigan Southern as far as Hillsdale. Between Chicago and 
these points a daily stage service was maintained during the 
season closed to navigation, while In summer a steamboat 

161 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

ran daily between Chicago and St. Joseph, from which point 
travelers proceeded by stage to Kalamazoo. 

On the more important lines the old-time stage, like the 
modern steam train, ran night and day. This involved, of 
course, the maintenance of relay stations at intervals of 
twelve or fifteen miles where fresh horses were in readiness 
to take the place of the jaded arrivals, and inns for the ac- 
commodation of the passengers. The source already alluded 
to affords interesting information concerning the stage 
schedules and rates of fare. The journey to Peoria, 175 miles, 
might be made in two days, the cost to the traveler being 
$10 in winter and $8 in summer. The distance to Galena by 
the northern route was 160 miles, and by the southern 170; 
in both cases the fare was $8 and the time consumed two days. 
From Chicago to Milwaukee, a distance of 97 miles, the 
traveler might ride in summer for $3, while in winter he paid 
$5. The trip required i}4 days' time, the stage stopping 
overnight at Kenosha. In general it may be said that stage 
passenger fares ran from five to six cents per mile. The 
unusually low summer rate between Chicago and Milwaukee 
was due to the existence of water transportation, which 
was commonly preferred by travelers to stage coach. In 
some sections of the country stage fares were regulated in 
accordance with the size of the passenger, the assumption 
being that the normal traveler should weight 100 pounds; 
one who weighed 200, therefore, found himself under the 
necessity of paying double fare. If this custom ever prevailed 
in the Chicago area the records are silent concerning it. 

The traveler who embarked upon an extended journey by 
stage committed himself to a venture whose outcome no man 
could foresee. To be sure the stage company had a schedule 
for the journey, but the factors making for uncertainty were 
numerous, and between schedule and performance there was 
frequently a wide gulf fixed. Oftentimes the stage company 
was not properly blamable for its failure to convey the 
traveler comfortably and promptly to his appointed destina- 

162 



STAGE COACHES AND TRAVEL 

tion. The ability to do this depended chiefly on the condition 
of the road, and this in turn was governed by the state of the 
weather, for which no one could be held responsible. But the 
discomforts, not to say the hazards of travel, were oftentimes 
due in large measure to failure on the part of the stage com- 
pany to provide adequate equipment, or even to a clear 
absence of desire to fulfill the obligations it had assumed. 

Illustrative of all of these conditions is the experience of 
Moses Strong, who essayed a journey from Milwaukee to 
Mineral Point in May, 1845. Milwaukee was the metropolis 
of Wisconsin, and the route, which led by Madison, the 
capital city, was one of the most important stage lines In the 
Territory. Strong was one of its leading citizens, lawyer and 
legislator combined; accompanying him as far as Madison 
were his sister-in-law, Mrs. Temple, and her daughter. When 
the driver called at the Milwaukee House for the party at 
early dawn, they found the vehicle, by courtesy called a 
"stage wagon," was nothing but a rickety lumber wagon with 
some canvas drawn over the top. Eight or nine miles out a 
rear wheel collapsed, and the occupants were deposited 
"bag and baggage" In the mud. All plodded forward on foot 
for half a mile, where the driver succeeded after two hours' 
delay in procuring a common lumber wagon without springs, 
in which they were jolted to Troy, a distance of twenty-five 
or thirty miles. Here they were placed In a coach with a 
kicking, fractious horse, which the driver, much to the 
relief of his apprehensive passengers, succeeded in piloting 
to Richmond without further mishap. 

Here, however, their troubles commenced in earnest. It 
was already dark, with a cloudy sky, and before them lay 
twenty miles of open prairie where on previous night journeys 
the stage had often become lost. Notwithstanding the 
urglngs of the passengers that he light his lamps, the driver 
set forth without doing so (they learned subsequently that he 
lacked the proper supplies) and despite momentary peril 
succeeded in advancing a number of miles. Then he ran 

163 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

the Stage off the side of a bridge, tipping it entirely over and 
bruising and injuring the occupants. They succeeded in 
righting the vehicle, and again got in (Mrs. Temple first 
walking half a mile). Within a mile it tipped over again, 
this time on the other side, injuring the occupants more 
severely than before. They now determined to ride no more 
till daylight, and walking on in much pain came at length to 
a farmhouse where they found shelter until morning, when 
they were taken on to Janesville by a stage which came along. 

The stage continued on to Madison but Strong and his 
companions were compelled to lie over at Janesville to recover 
from their bruises. The next day Strong procured an open 
buggy to take them to Madison, and although it rained all 
day and the women had only their umbrellas for protection 
they preferred this mode of conveyance to entrusting them- 
selves again to the mercies of the stage coach. 

Leaving his companions at Madison, Strong took the stage 
for his home at Mineral Point. Although the horses provided 
were entirely worn out, the agent filled the coach so that they 
were able to pull it only at a walk. At the end of half a mile 
Strong and all the other passengers except one, a lady, got 
out and walked ahead for three miles, beating the coach by 
half an hour. Despairing of such progress. Strong and two 
other passengers now hired a private conveyance to take them 
to Mineral Point, where they arrived towards midnight. 
Aside from all the delay and discomfort undergone, the extra 
expense entailed upon him by the delinquencies of the trans- 
portation company amounted to more than twenty-three 
dollars. 

It may be supposed by the present day reader that expe- 
riences such as the one described were by no means normal 
incidents of stage coach travel. To some degree, perhaps, 
such a supposition would be true, yet the narratives of the 
time leave no room for doubt that they were of distressingly 
frequent occurrence. On the matter of overturning, an 
English traveler in America at a somewhat earlier date, 

164 



STAGE COACHES AND TRAVEL 

relates that passengers were trained to respond to the driver's 
frequent requests to lean on one side or the other, to aid in 
preventing the upsetting of the coach in the deep ruts with 
which the road abounded. "Now gentlemen to the right," 
the Jehu would call, and immediately the passengers would 
project their bodies halfway out of the coach in the direction 
indicated. "Now gentlemen to the left," would be heard, 
and all would throw themselves in this direction. 

Even on the great National Road, the most famous high- 
way of the country, stage upsets were not unknown. When 
Black Hawk was taken on his tour of the East, following the 
disastrous war of 1832, at Washington, Pennsylvania, the 
horses attached to the coach which was conveying the noted 
chief and several of his red companions ran away. The coach 
capsized, after a mad dash down the hill, and the noble red 
men were badly bruised and shaken. Black Hawk was the 
first to emerge, and to the crowd which quickly gathered he 
gave vent to his feelings in loud and vehement tones. 

Although no record was made of the red warrior's address, 
the observation of Henry Clay, made on a similar occasion, 
affords one of the most delightful examples on record of the 
great statesman's ready wit and unfailing good humor. Near 
Uniontown, Pennsylvania, the coach upset. The driver, 
catapulting from his elevated station, landed on his head, 
and righted himself with a broken nose. Clay, however, 
emerged from the vehicle unhurt, and with the smiling 
remark that the Clay of Kentucky had been mixed with the 
limestone of Pennsylvania. 

Judged by present-day standards of comfort and con- 
venience, stage-coach travel in the pioneer West was arduous 
enough even when performed under the most favoring con-, 
ditions. At other times it was an experience to be under- 
gone only at the behest of grim necessity. Nor did the condi- 
tions of travel materially improve to the end of the stage- 
coach era. As evidence of this, let us note the experience of 
Mrs. Ellet on a journey from Chicago to Galena in 1852. By 

165 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

this time the railroad ran as far west as Cherry Valley, seven 
miles southwest of Rockford, where the journey by stage 
was begun. At Rockford there was a pause of an hour for 
dinner, but fifty minutes were consumed in the preparation 
of the meal, leaving the passengers but ten in which to eat it 
and secure their places in the crowded stage. The heat was 
oppressive and the dust stifling, while ever and anon the 
lumbering vehicle plunged into a dangerous mud-hole from 
which it emerged with a violent jerk, to the utter discomfort 
of the "trembling, grumbling passengers." At Freeport a 
miserable supper awaited the travelers with the same delay in 
preparing and hurry in despatching it as at dinner. 

The night ride which followed was one of prolonged torture 
to all concerned. The dust, indeed, abated, for a steady rain 
came on, which soon turned the prairie road into a morass, 
appearing, under the fitful glare of the oil lamps, as **a long 
line of black mud, checkered by holes at one side or another 
while now and then a tumble-down bridge came in view. 
But let no one imagine," continues Mrs. EUet, "that the 
mere view can give the least idea of a prairie slough, or mud 
hole. You may see one deceitfully covered with green turf, 
and suspect no danger till your horses' feet, or one of your 
wheels, shall be sunk so far as to render recovery impossible 
without the aid of stakes and ropes brought to the rescue. 
The story of the pedestrian's cap moving just above the black 
ooze, while the rider and horse were below, appears no fable. 
Then the mud — it is a peculiar quality, coal black, and 
tenacious as tar. 

"After our coach had plunged and slipped along an hour or 
two, lurching almost to an overturn first on one side, then on 
another, the voice of the driver calling for a light — for he 
could not see an inch, and never drove over this road before — 
did not tend to reassure those disposed to think of accidents, 
particularly as the information was added that a night seldom 
passed without some stage being overset. The pockets of 
cigar smokers were searched for matches but vain was the 

166 



STAGE COACHES AND TRAVEL 

attempt to light the lamp, till the last match had been used. 
Presently the driver in front roared out *to take care of 
the bridge/ which his wheels had just demolished; a caution 
withheld till we were in the act of going over it, bringing the 
stage down with a swing from which it seemed impossible to 
recover it. Next our driver called in great alarm for help; 
one of the horses had slipped, and lay sprawling in the mud. 
A succession of such agreeable incidents during the whole 
night kept before our minds the probability of having limbs 
broken, or of spending the rest of the hours of darkness on 
the lone waste prairie, miles from any human habitation, with 
the wet grass for a couch. These not very exhilarating cir- 
cumstances were rendered intolerable by the most shocking 
profanity on the part of the drivers. Ours kept up a soliloquy 
of oaths, and when an accident or a stoppage brought him 
into the fellowship of his companions, the concert of blas- 
phemies was absolutely terrifying." 



167 



CHAPTER X. 
TAVERNS AND TAVERN LIFE 

NO less essential than stage coaches to the comfort of 
the pioneer traveler were the taverns and other 
stopping places where he found food and shelter. In 
the general lack of accommodations which characterized the 
beginnings of settlement in the West, it was customary for 
travelers to seek shelter at any house they might come to, 
and the settler commonly opened his home to all comers. 
With the progress of settlement, however, and the increasing 
complexity of society, the old custom fell into gradual disuse 
and travelers resorted to taverns and inns for food and shelter. 
This change, of course, took place sooner in towns and along 
thoroughfares where travel was heavy than it did in the more 
remote communities. 

It follows as a consequence that one who undertook a 
journey in the pioneer West encountered a wide variety of 
living accommodations, and but few generalizations can be 
made about them that are universally valid. The early 
settler was commonly poor, and his home life and surroundings 
crude or even poverty-stricken. The stranger who, notwith- 
standing, sought shelter in his home accepted with equanimity, 
if sensible, such accommodation as could be offered him. If 
unwise or unsophisticated he might vent his spleen upon his 
involuntary hosts, or returning to his home across the sea 
write a book in which the manners of the Americans were ex- 
posed to public ridicule. 

Life on the frontier was rough and ready enough, and men 
had but little energy left over from the absorbing task of 
reducing a wilderness to civilization to devote to the conven- 
tions of intercourse which characterize older and more settled 
communities. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that 

168 



TAVERNS AND TAVERN LIFE 

in a society newly-drawn from the four quarters of the globe 
social conventions were largely non-existent. In time, of 
course, the West developed conventions of its own, the prod- 
uct of the local environment, many of which seemed shocking 
enough to the newcomer from the older East or from Europe. 
Western men, for example, were undoubtedly much given to 
profanity, a practice which had developed in their absence for 
years from the restraining influence alike of women and of 
older men. 

Perhaps the commonest complaint in contemporary narra- 
tives of travelers is the lack of privacy, particularly with re- 
spect to sleeping accommodations. The Westerner cheerfully 
shared his room, and even his bed, with whomsoever he might 
chance to be thrown; to the traveler from the East or from 
Europe this seemed an abhorrent thing, and if he published a 
book about his tour he rarely neglected the opportunity to 
wail aloud to heaven over it. Yet the western custom was 
easily defensible whether on the score of modesty or of common 
sense. An eastern woman newly-removed to Illinois has 
recorded her mingled surprise and admiration on being told by 
a young woman that she had swept three houses that morning. 
She was yet to learn that on the Illinois prairies the words 
house and room were synonymous. At a time when houses 
were few and those who must find shelter in them were many 
it became a matter of practical necessity that people, even if 
unrelated or strangers, should share the same sleeping-room 
or even the same bed. Necessity, in this matter, became the 
mother of a convention, which once established became a 
perfectly proper thing. 

Mrs. Kinzie, who came west to Fort Winnebago, Wisconsin, 
in 1830, relates in Wau Bun her first encounter with this 
aspect of frontier life. In the winter of 1831 she accompanied 
her husband on a horseback journey to Chicago. On the third 
day out they reached Hamilton's Diggings, a group of log 
cabins belonging to a son of the famous statesman, Alexander 
Hamilton. Each cabin consisted of a single room, and there 

169 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

was but one woman in the place, the wife of one of the miners. 
In the cabin occupied by her were two uncurtained beds stand- 
ing against the wall, the only sign of sleeping quarters. The 
newcomer's speculations as to how they were to be accommo- 
dated for the night were set at rest when the housewife pro- 
duced a cord and stretching it between the two beds threw 
over it some petticoats to serve as a curtain, and indicated to 
the travelers the bed they were to occupy. The eastern woman 
wrapped her cloak around her without undressing and lay 
down with her face to the wall. The miner and his wife, with 
a better display of judgment, undressed and retired in their 
usual manner. So quickly does fastidiousness yield to reason, 
however, that on the following night when Mrs. Kinzie found 
the sleeping room of herself and husband was to be shared by 
six other men, all fellow-travelers, her only feeling was one of 
thankfulness that each bed was furnished with a set of curtains. 

We have been dealing thus far with private homes to which 
wayfarers resorted for shelter, but the earlier taverns offered 
but little more in the way of accommodations. Thus William 
Cullen Bryant, who spent a night at the tavern in Jacksonville 
in 1832, was **shown into an upper apartment in which were 
seven huge double beds, some holding two brawny hard- 
breathing fellows, and some only one." A philosophic English- 
man who had toured the West a few years earlier than this 
affords a good explanation of such conditions. He attributes 
them to the remoteness of these states from the older sections 
of the United States, and deplores the custom of English 
travelers, on their return from America, of imputing a like 
want of comfort to every part of the country. As well might 
one who had met with bad accommodations in the Orkneys 
abuse the whole of Great Britain. "Woods are not cut down, 
and good inns established in a day nor even in a year," he con- 
cludes, *'and he who cannot put up with some inconveniences 
will do well to avoid traveling in a new country." 

That the inconveniences were numerous need not be denied. 
Reverting to the matter of sleeping accommodations, the 

170 



f 




TAVERNS AND TAVERN LIFE 

traveler we have just quoted encountered a pair of clean sheets 
but thrice in all his western tour. "In general," he reports, 
"the beds were altogether without sheets; and the blankets 
had probably, since their manufacture, never experienced the 
renovating effects of a good washing. Sometimes, indeed, 
there would be one sheet, and occasionally two; but cleanliness 
in this particular I had almost despaired of." 

More unique was the experience of Mrs. Kirkland, the 
charming novelist of western life, at a village tavern in southern 
Michigan. She had been in the kitchen and found it full of 
newly-ironed sheets spread out on chairs and other furniture. 
On preparing to retire, however, she observed with disappoint- 
ment that her sheets were not of the number seen in the 
kitchen. 

"How is this?" she inquired of the chambermaid, "these 
sheets have been used." 

"O, yes ma'am," simpered the girl, "we haint no new 
sheets." 

"But I must have clean sheets," replied Mrs. Kirkland, 
"sheets that have not been slept in since they were washed." 

"Oh, yes, I dare say," answered the girl. "But you see, 
ma'am, we've had sich lots of company. There was the Dimo- 
cratic Whig convention — and there was this here Log Cabin 
celebration — and so all of our sheets but these is a drying in 
the kitchen, not aired enough yet to put on the beds, and we 
thought you'd like these better because they're so much 
healthier. You know damp sheets is dreadful unwholesome — 
and there ha'nt nobody slept in these beds but some very 
nice gentlemen." 

An equal trial to the traveler of fastidious tastes was the 
necessity of sharing his couch with an insect host of a kind 
seldom mentioned in polite society. Their presence was ren- 
dered inevitable by the very manner of living of the western 
settler. "This indoors calamity is so universal in the back- 
woods," writes Morris Birkbeck, founder of the noted English 
Settlement in Illinois, "that it seems to be unavoidable, and 

171 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

is submitted to as such with wondrous equanimity." But even 
for this pest the tolerant writer found excuse, and optimistically 
foretold a time when the spirit of cleanliness would gain ad- 
mission, and the miseries which always accompany filth and 
disorder would be banished away "as the plagues of Egypt 
were charmed by Aaron's rod." 

Less complaisant was Eliza Farnham, the talented author 
of Lije in Prairie Land. On her first journey west, coming 
up the Illinois River in a steamer she asked the chambermaid 
to prepare her berth. The maid responded by advising her 
to abandon her stateroom for a place in the cabin, "Kase the 
bugs aint a touch in hyur to what they be in yander." Mrs. 
Farnham, notwithstanding, went to bed in her stateroom, 
but the vermin turned out in force, prepared to "make a 
night of it," and after four or five hours contest she yielded 
the field to them and sat up the remainder of the night. 

Closely akin to this trial was the pest of flies, which haunted 
kitchen and dining-room, alike of tavern and private house. 
Even today this nuisance has been measurably eradicated only 
in the more enlightened and progressive sections of the coun- 
try. In the pioneer period modern sanitation was as yet a 
thing undreamed of; the rudely constructed houses were inno- 
cent of screens, and the house fly, like the bed bug, was en- 
endured with "wondrous equanimity." So rarely did some 
fastidious soul revolt against the pest that a grave scientist like 
Increase A. Lapham, father of the weather bureau, took the 
trouble to put on record the device of a western housewife at 
whose home he tarried in the course of his travels, of shielding 
the food until the moment of serving the meal by covering the 
several dishes with neatly folded paper caps. 

Some interesting data on our topic are supplied by the 
author of Illinois in the Fifties in the course of describing the 
village tavern. There were, he relates "Flies everywhere! 
Flies in everything! Flies ow everything! But little wonder, 
for at no great distance from the kitchen door was a big manure 
pile — an ideal incubator for hatching these household pets." 

172 



TAVERNS AND TAVERN LIFE 

To combat them, in private homes as meal-time approached, 
someone procured from a convenient bush or tree a branch well 
supplied with leaves, and by plying this vigorously during 
the meal the flies were to some extent kept from the table. 
People in better circumstances signified their station by sub- 
stituting for a branch from a tree a brush made of ostrich 
feathers. In the tavern, still another device was employed. 
"About three feet above the dining-room table and extending 
its whole length was a strong cord to which was attached strips 
of paper that nearly reached down to the dishes. At meal 
time it became the duty of someone to manipulate this cord 
in such a way that the papers hanging below it were set in 
motion and the flies kept for the time being from alighting 
on the food." 

But the qualifications by which above all others a tavern 
was judged was the character of its meals. Here again the 
traveler encountered a wide variety, depending on the enter- 
prise of the landlord, the culinary skill of his wife and daugh- 
ters, the resources in food supplies of the community, and 
numerous other factors. A wayfarer who lodged at a tavern 
in southern Michigan in the year 1830 records that he had a 
hearty supper of "biscuits, buttermilk, fried pork and venison," 
while breakfast was much like supper except for the substitu- 
tion of corn-meal griddle-cakes in place of biscuits. After 
breakfast he indulged in a glass of cider and called for his bill, 
and these were the items: "Supper, 6 cents; lodging, 6 cents; 
breakfast, 6 cents; cider 3 cents; total, 21 cents." 

To modern ears the prices quoted seem unbelievably low. 
Although they tended to increase in later years, to the end 
of the stage-coach era they remained low in comparison with 
present-day standards. Ample light is shed by the records on 
this particular subject, for then as now the tavern keeper must 
procure a license, and unlike the present-day practice, the 
authorities provided maximum rates of service that might be 
charged. Interesting in this connection is the schedule adopted 
by the commissioners of Cook County in 1831 for the first 

173 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

taverns — then two in number — of the town of Chicago. For 
lodging, the maximum rate of iiy^ cents was imposed; for 
supper and breakfast 25 cents each, while for dinner the inn- 
keeper was allowed to charge twice as much. There followed 
a detailed schedule of rates for various kinds and quantities 
of strong drinks, such as wine, rum, brandy, and whiskey. 
The rate per pint for the last-named drink was 18^ cents. 
Beer, it is interesting to note, finds no place in the schedule. 
Its popularity as a beverage was yet to be developed. 

If a generalization may be attempted in connection with a 
subject where in practice so much of variation was found, it 
would be that the food served in pioneer taverns was abundant 
as to quantity; commonly, however, there was little variety in 
the menu, and both quality and manner of service left much 
to be desired. Charles Cleaver, a prominent citizen of Chicago, 
who came west in 1833, records that the staple bill of fare of 
the typical tavern was bread, butter, potatoes, and fried pork, 
but variations, both seasonable and otherwise, were occasion- 
ally encountered. A traveler who journeyed from Chicago to 
St. Louis in 1835 gives a detailed description of the first tavern 
southwest of Chicago near modern Riverside. It was a primi- 
tive log structure, the public portion of which comprised two 
rooms. In one of these were numerous guests, several of them 
ill with fever. Not much could be expected from such sur- 
roundings, yet the call to breakfast in the adjoining room dis- 
closed an abundance of food. Of milk there was none, and 
the butter was of the worst quality. The coffee, however, was 
excellent, the pork steaks, "tolerable," and the bread, both 
corn and wheat, was good. In the center of the table stood a 
huge stew from which fragrant incense ascended. Of this all 
partook liberally, speculating the while as to its component 
elements. One guessed venison, another turkey, another 
prairie chicken; at length it was discovered to be stewed 
rabbit. 

Closely related to the matter of food was the question of 
culinary equipment wherewith to prepare it. Particularly 

174 



TAVERNS AND TAVERN LIFE 

in the early period of settlement, this was oftentimes of the 
scantiest description. Cleaver, whom we have already quoted, 
describes the taverns of Chicago in the winter of 1834; "a pot 
hung over a wood fire, a frying pan, and a baking-pot" com- 
prised the list of kitchen utensils. 

Modern housewives may wonder how with such equipment 
a meal could be prepared for a crowd of hungry travelers. 
How the miracle was performed in one instance is entertain- 
ingly told by an eastern woman who in 1840 traveled from 
St. Louis to Springfield. On the journey the passengers 
arrived at Carlinville just at dawn, and inquired of the young 
woman who met them if they could have breakfast at once. 
She answered "Yes," and gave them a seat by the fire until 
the meal should be prepared. "First she took out a long- 
handled frying-pan, and resting the handle on a chair before 
the wood fire in the fireplace, she put in some coffee which 
she quickly parched. Removing the coffee and washing out 
the frying pan, she made a *pone* of corn bread and put it in 
to bake. Then she ground and prepared the coffee, which she 
proceeded to make in a pot over the fire. Then the performance 
was varied by the movement of first one curtain and another, 
from behind which came men who had been guests of the cabin 
over night, and each as he emerged took the wash basin and 
went out of doors to perform his ablutions, and returned 
ready for breakfast. 

"After the *pone' was done, the lady of the house cut some 
bacon, put that in the pan and fried it, and then asked me if 
I would like some eggs, which she fried, and in a few minutes 
we were called to breakfast — for which we paid four shillings 
apiece, and which I must say I ate with a good appetite, for 
its novelty was interesting to me. The table was a plain wood- 
en one and while I had a cup and saucer, the rest of the guests 
had tin cups." 

It must not be too hastily assumed from narratives such as 
this that primitive accommodations and rude manners were 
things entirely peculiar to the West. No doubt western ways 

»75 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

were in general cruder than those of the older East. Yet few 
narratives of western ways, however bizarre, excel this picture 
left us by Dr. Richard Lee Mason, a cultured Philadelphian, 
of a tavern on the great Pennsylvania Road fifteen miles west 
of Gettysburg in the autumn of 1 8 19. He found "The landlord 
drunk, the fare bad, and the house filled with company who 
had more the appearance of penitentiary society than gentle- 
men. Hard scuffle for breakfast. Ran an old hen down. 
'Moir cut off the head with an axe. An old sow and a starved 
dog made a grab before the feathers were stripped. One got 
the head, the other the body. Then all hands were mustered 
to join in the chase, landlord and 'Moll' with the broom, the 
hostler with his spade, and all the boys with sticks and stones. 
In about ten minutes, after hard fighting, the materials for 
breakfast were recovered, and in fifteen minutes the old hen 
made her appearance on the breakfast table, large as life." 
A feature of American tavern life of this period was the 
custom, apparently universal, of serving meals in common to 
all who might present themselves. This practice accorded 
well with the democratic manners of the time, but it was less 
commendable from certain other points of view. That the 
public manners of western Americans were commonly bad, 
and that at meal time they were peculiarly shocking, is the 
general testimony of most travelers of the period. A New 
Englander who ventured into the West in 1834 has left this 
picture of his first hotel meal in Detroit: "When the bell rang 
for dinner, I hardly knew what it meant. All in and about the 
house jumped and ran as if the house had been on fire. I 
followed the multitude, and found they were only going into 
the hall to dinner. It was a rough and tumble game at knife 
and fork, and whoever got seated first and obtained the best 
portion of dinner, was the best fellow. Those who came after 
must take care of themselves the best way they could; and 
were not always able to obtain a very abundant supply." 
Nor were contemporary manners in Chicago much better, if 
we may trust the observations of James Logan of Edinburgh, 

176 



TAVERNS AND TAVERN LIFE 

who found his way thither in 1836 and put up at the United 
States Hotel. **At breakfast," he relates, "there were a very- 
large party, who occupied two tables, and exhibited the usual 
American celerity of eating and drinking. No change of 
knife, or fork, or plate, no spoon for the sugar-basin; no 
ceremony whatever observed, every man for himself, and 
none for his neighbor; hurrying, snatching, gulping, like 
famished wildcats; vituals disappearing like magic." 

We may well leave to another traveler of the period, Mrs. 
Eliza Steele, the task of defending such practices. In her 
western travels she constantly sought to find the inner sig- 
nificance of the surface phenomena encountered from day 
to day. Thus fortified, she regarded with unfailing good 
humor even the food and table manners of the frontiersman. 
She drank contentedly the miserable beverage which mas- 
queraded under the name of coffee, and instead of reviling 
the uncouth manners of the men who sat down to dine with- 
out their coats and with shirt-sleeves rolled up, she endeavored 
to account for such behavior. "When we consider," she 
observes, "what a life these early settlers have led, we should 
only wonder that things are as decent as they are. The man 
comes out here in his youth with an axe upon his shoulder, 
hews him a space in the forest and erects a log hut — here upon 
its floor, spread with the skin of a beast, perhaps, he sleeps, 
his only companion a dog or an Indian — he gradually acquires 
furniture of his own making, and when he comes to eating 
from a table instead of a stone or a stump he thinks himself 
very comfortable. A table-cloth is such a luxury that he 
scarcely remarks when it gets soiled, as even then it is cleaner 
than his log table, and knives of the coarsest description are 
treasures to him." 

In addition to its primary service of supplying food and 
shelter to travelers, the old-time tavern discharged many 
other functions. In the general dearth of churches and 
other public buildings, it served as the gathering place of 
the community for almost all events of a public character. 

177 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS— OLD AND NEW 

Here the itinerant preacher held his religious services and 
here, commonly, the first church organizations of the com- 
munity had their birth. The dining-room of the tavern was 
frequently utilized for the holding of court, and when, as 
on rare occasions happened, a strolling company of actors 
came along, it was with equal facility metamorphosed into 
a theater, where crowded audiences listened with rapt atten- 
tion to such plays as **The Lady of Lyons," and made the 
rafters ring with applause of the ever-popular song, **The 
Hunters of Kentucky,'* celebrating the virtues of the Ken- 
tuckians in the battle of New Orleans. The first election 
in the incorporated town of Chicago was held at the old 
Sauganash Hotel in 1833, and in the same structure four 
years later was witnessed Chicago's first dramatic perform- 
ance. The place stood "out on the prairie," at the corner 
of Lake and Market Streets and the optimistic enterprise 
of the promoters in bringing a dramatic company to Chi- 
cago at this early day is sufficiently indicated by the follow- 
ing incident. For some unruly conduct a young Irishman 
who belonged to the company was told by the manager to 
go. "Where can I go," he replied, "with Lake Michigan 
roaring on one side and the bloody prairie wolves on the other?" 

The Fourth of July was always celebrated with great 
enthusiasm by our forefathers, and a common feature of 
the celebration was a great banquet prepared by the local 
inn-keeper. This was often served in an open-air bower, 
and the dinner, attended by the elite of the community, 
was prolonged by the drinking of numerous toasts. 

Independence days and theatrical troupes, however, were 
of infrequent occurrence. The chief recreation of the com- 
munity was dancing, which might be enjoyed at any time. 
For this amusement the chief requisite was a room sufficiently 
large to accommodate the company, and this the tavern 
stood ready to supply. With the later forties, the cruder 
log taverns of the earlier period began to give way to larger 
buildings, and these were frequently equipped with a spe- 

178 



TAVERNS AND TAVERN LIFE 

cial floor, laid independently of the walls in such fashion 
that under the feet of the dancers it yielded like thin ice. 

A cultivated eastern woman has described for us a dance 
which she witnessed at the American House in Springfield 
during the session of the Illinois Legislature in December, 
1840. The ladies' parlor was turned into a dressing room, 
and here the narrator sat and observed the guests as they 
came in. **A number of the ladies carried bundles in their 
arms," she writes, and were accompanied by maids. "The 
bundles, which were a mystery to me, were deposited on the 
bed, where the mystery soon developed, for the bundles 
began to kick and squeal, as hungry babies will. The mothers 
after performing their maternal duties, wrapped the infants 
up again and left them with many charges to the nurse-maids 
not to mix them up. The ladies were handsomely dressed, 
but not in the latest style. They wore handsome gowns of 
silk and satin, made with low necks and short sleeves.** 

A few weeks later the same writer put up at a poor coun- 
try tavern which she describes as "shocking place.** Appar- 
ently it was a typical log tavern of the period, for her room 
was reached by means of a ladder going up from the summer 
kitchen. During her stay here a dance was held, which 
was attended by the principal residents of the vicinity, and 
for the event much preparation was made. *Tn the morning, 
before breakfast, the big turkey gobbler was put in a tre- 
mendously big pot over the fire, and I was informed that 
I would not have any dinner, but just a 'piece* at noon. 
The gobbler boiled until afternoon, when he was taken out 
of the pot and put Into the oven before the fire to roast for 
supper, and there was a cake of fearful and wonderful con- 
struction. The guests having arrived, the supper was eaten 
at early candle light. The room was illuminated by numer- 
ous 'dips,* and the guests being happy and hilarious, the 
supper passed off much to their satisfaction. The table was 
quickly cleared, and the fiddlers making their appearance, 
the crowd was soon arranged for the dancing. Each woman 

179 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

carried a very large pocket handkerchief, which she held 
out by both hands stretched out in front of her, except when 
one hand was given to the partner in the dance. I was 
invited to dance, but not understanding these dances I 
declined, but was a highly-amused looker-on. I retired 
at about ten o'clock, but I think the gayety was kept up 
until nearly morning." 

A feature of the old-time tavern about which an inter- 
esting narrative might be written was the sign which adver- 
tised the place to the passer-by. Particularly in the West, 
these were sometimes fearfully and wonderfully made. At 
Seward, Kendall County, the realistic landlord hung out a 
stuffed prairie wolf before his tavern, and the sign, of course, 
gave the name to the place. Two of Chicago's early tav- 
erns, the Green Tree Inn and the Wolf Tavern, were named 
in like fashion. Since the artist who painted the signs was 
commonly a jack-of-all-trades who turned his hand to the 
avocation of sign-painting only on infrequent occasions 
when some special demand for his service was presented, 
the product of his brush was often ludicrous enough. 

Instructive in this connection is the handiwork of Samuel 
S. Rooker, the first sign-painter of Indianapolis, whose lack 
of artistic skill was only equalled by his ignorance of orthog- 
raphy. One of his early signs, executed for the Eagle Tavern, 
was supposed to depict the national bird; although the paint- 
ing gave satisfaction to the landlord, by hilarious critics it 
was declared to resemble a turkey. Another tavern sign 
painted by Rooker bore the figure of a life-sized lion; when 
completed, the artist was hard pressed to prove it was not 
a prairie wolf. Even more remarkable, however, was the 
portrait of General Lafayette, in full uniform, which Rooker 
was commissioned to paint for another tavern. The board 
on which it was painted was not long enough for the heroic 
scale on which the picture was begun, and the artist solved 
the dilemma by cutting short the legs and attaching the 
feet where the knees should have been. 

1 80 



WESrEHMllOllL. 

fi. t',l!lt fl.s ll itl.-O is .-Jtu It.;, I ,,ll i; Ul l.-ljlll :iimI C u;:i1 
Mr->-fls,:> ro.v roi^ ['•i.tii III' S nil !i Ur.iilf i Hi i.ltM-, cvr 
wfiii-h iii'isf (iT th- r';ii.:i-.'.. ir/ivrl |) i--"<. wlur.li iii,iK..s ji 
■,i f.>nv-.i\\" It. St >|>^)i;i',' |il:i.:i! I'nr ill Tumi ts .-imiI !iu-iir.-v^ 
mi-iiur lllinol? .v!i i m ly lnv-> !)ii-i iriss t.) tr.uisnot in ilu- 
city. Xniintiis will Ih- .--i).!!-!;!! liy t!i'- sirh-.-rilicr tii ri'ii- 
ili-r his ipiitsii II o-ifortalilo aiii] plensniit slDiipiin; |.hu:c- 
to all pi'-rsKii?- . 

A f\ ic ;t(hlo i<CTni\''CtC'l with t'm liou?''' :iMtl liis (isf;,'i ? 
arc atlt!>iiiv.< anil never ubsout froin the •<(•,, l>|p. 

E. -H. GK-KGOUV. 
— ChicTS-o,.Tuly 21,TP4 3. ;..j.-, 




IJiiafcil States Hotel. 

'^r^IlF. oihsnribcr would respectfully :<iinouiic P to hisold 
A friijjKly mul tlu; public jriMXMully lliul lif Inifrctiiru 
Oil to lii.s 111 ij mill |)i)|)iiliir.-itur)il, vvh'^ii; lie llr>[)i:s hy iiiire 
iniltiitl ^ttoiitioM to 111'- ( (unriirt a;iil wi'.lfnrc uf his j.'iirst»i 
t.i» r<'i,rivc thill -li:\ic <>f their pitroiiiij."' tli:il lus<-xiTliiin> 
111 ly lufiit. Thr hniisc has bcoii tlii.ioii^'hly rinnv it.'d, 
i.leuiiM'<l;iiiil piiiitud, with a irood yMrd and Ijarn altiif.hf'd, 
t)ir riuii;is iri- airy, jileasaiil aiid airrooabjo. His bar uill 
br siii)|ilit:d with tlie choicest wiiios ;. iid liiliiors, Iii-s table, 
with all the .^i.b.^t.aijtial.-- and dclicaeies.of the season. HIm 
'servants attentive and iiliedient , and he pleilges himself 
thaliiolhiii!^ sliall l>o wanting' to roiider their stay plea- 
,:iiitaiidcomfov(alde. JOHN MURl'IIY. 

Cliici\iro, Aug 1.'), ISM 6-38 

' "" ' €OLtJ.is iia^iiV laoiJsSE^ 

Corner of Smth Wutcrnn'd Wells st. Chicago. III. 
|WlHEsiibsoriber.s>, would inform llieii frienih 
'jn_ andthe triiveling cointnnuily, lliat they 
hare refiiteii and nponed the above e.stablish 
inont, and iiro mnv prepared to. Eccominoda:*' 
ihn.-jc poison.'' whj in.iy (avor tlicih wiili ilicir 
f:atrona?e on as reasunablo leriiih as cuti be 
airordcd in Ihe city. 

G.)(jd .slal)Iit)-r, jtiiwplio'/ Willi Flvdralic waler. 
IJiii'-'ai'f lalvcn lu and iV ui Hual.s iivc of 

^ch:n^X '' L. A. DOOLITTLK, vS: CO. 

: Cbif-ajTo, July I, l.Sl;i. 7-i:yivr 



SOME TYPICAL ADVERTISEMENTS OF 
PIONEER HOTELS 

Reproduced, by courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society, 
from the Chicago American of July, 1843. 



TAVERNS AND TAVERN LIFE 

Sometimes the imagination of the sign painter was per- 
mitted a wider sweep. Before one Indianapolis tavern hung 
a sign made like a gate, on the slats of which stood this 
inscription: 

This gate hangs high 
and hinders none, 
Refresh and pay, 
then travel on. 
Another, on the Mukwanago road in southeastern Wis- 
consin thus advertised the excellence of the water supplied 
by the tavern well: 

Stop, gentlemen, as you pass by. 
My water tank is free. 
Its source is on the mountain high. 
Its course is to the sea. 
Competition for the custom of travelers was often keen 
between neighboring inn-keepers, and sometimes was car- 
ried to absurd extremes. A narrative of one such contest 
is preserved among the chronicles of the Kellogg Trail. 
North of Dixon the first settlement on the trail was at Buf- 
falo Grove, on the site of modern Polo. Hither came John 
Ankeney from southern Illinois in the spring of 1829, and 
located his claim by marking some trees on Buffalo Creek 
near the point where the bridge on the Galena road was 
afterwards built. Having done this, he went back to bring 
out his family. While absent on this mission Isaac Chambers 
came down from Galena to Buffalo Grove and took possession 
of Ankeney's claim, building a house at a fording place 
in the creek, a few rods above the old bridge. He planned, 
too, to change the line of travel from the prairie to pass 
through the grove, where he would build a tavern for the 
entertainment of travelers. 

With two inns thus provided, it remained to bring the 
travelers to them. To this end the rival proprietors each 
proceeded to mark out a new road from Dixon northward, 
the two lines of stakes running parallel and being at no 



TAVERNS AND TAVERN LIFE 

Sometimes the imagination of the sign painter was per- 
mitted a wider sweep. Before one Indianapolis tavern hung 
a sign made like a gate, on the slats of which stood this 
inscription: 

This gate hangs high 
and hinders none, 
Refresh and pay, 
then travel on. 
Another, on the Mukwanago road in southeastern Wis- 
consin thus advertised the excellence of the water supplied 
by the tavern well: 

Stop, gentlemen, as you pass by, 
My water tank is free. 
Its source is on the mountain high. 
Its course is to the sea. 
Competition for the custom of travelers was often keen 
between neighboring inn-keepers, and sometimes was car- 
ried to absurd extremes. A narrative of one such contest 
is preserved among the chronicles of the Kellogg Trail. 
North of Dixon the first settlement on the trail was at Buf- 
falo Grove, on the site of modern Polo. Hither came John 
Ankeney from southern Illinois in the spring of 1829, and 
located his claim by marking some trees on Buffalo Creek 
near the point where the bridge on the Galena road was 
afterwards built. Having done this, he went back to bring 
out his family. While absent on this mission Isaac Chambers 
came down from Galena to Buffalo Grove and took possession 
of Ankeney's claim, building a house at a fording place 
in the creek, a few rods above the old bridge. He planned, 
too, to change the line of travel from the prairie to pass 
through the grove, where he would build a tavern for the 
entertainment of travelers. 

With two inns thus provided, it remained to bring the 
travelers to them. To this end the rival proprietors each 
proceeded to mark out a new road from Dixon northward, 
the two lines of stakes running parallel and being at no 

181 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

point more than a half a mile apart. North of the grove 
they came together and after running thus a considerable 
distance, rejoined the older-established route of the Kellogg 
Trail. Ankeney's road, of course, ran by his tavern, and 
Chambers' ran by his. No difficulty was found in persuad- 
ing travelers to abandon the old trail, but the burning ques- 
tion was, which of the proposed roads should they take? 
There ensued between the two inn-keepers a desperate com- 
petition for the public favor. Not content with efforts to 
make his house more attractive, each did his best to injure 
the custom of the other by felling trees across his highway 
and similar acts. Such conduct, of course, did not tend to 
promote peace and harmony in the neighborhood. After 
two years of turmoil. Chambers, finding he was waging a 
losing battle, sold his place to Oliver Kellogg, himself moving 
farther north to Chambers' Grove. 



CHAPTER XI 
DANGERS OF THE HIGHWAY 

CHANGING social and industrial conditions are quickly 
reflected in the field of transportation. The past 
century has witnessed more improvement in this 
realm than the preceding twenty taken together. Although 
the twentieth-century highway is not free from peril to 
the traveler — a fact to which the frequent casualty lists in the 
daily news-columns bear witness — he proceeds to his chosen 
destination with a degree of comfort which would have aston- 
ished his forefathers no less than the celerity of his progress. 

Discomfort, on the old time highway, was the normal 
state of the traveler. The dangers he faced might proceed 
from many causes, but those more commonly encountered 
were three in number; upsets of the stage, the menace of un- 
bridged or swollen streams; and peril from highwaymen 
and other criminals. 

Of stage upsets, something has already been said in pre- 
ceding chapters. They might be due to the character of the 
highway, but were not infrequently occasioned by the stage- 
horses running away. The spilling of Chief Black Hawk is 
a case in point. Another, which had a somewhat amusing 
ending, is related by that delightful chronicler of early Ameri- 
can travel, John Davis. While proceeding down Market 
Street in the city of Baltimore, a front wheel of the coach 
suddenly came off. The stage-driver, on whose presence of 
mind the safety of his passengers depended, deserted his 
post and leaped to the ground. The horses, free from all 
restraint, broke into a furious run and Davis, to escape what 
he regarded as certain death, threw himself from the coach 
into the street, followed shortly by two other passengers. 
Bruised and shaken from the fall they rose from the ground 

183 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

and set out in the track of the runaway coach solicitous to 
know the fate of a sailor and a boy who had remained inside. 
They were overtaken, unhurt, holding the panting animals, 
which had come to a stop on the ascent of a hill. Davis 
congratulated them on their escape, and asked the sailor 
why he had not jumped from the coach. "Avast there," 
was the tar's reply, "more people are lost by taking to the 
boat than sticking to the wreck; I always stick to the wreck." 

Ordinarily, however, the traveler spent little time worry- 
ing over possible runaways, but the menace of bridgeless or 
swollen (frequently bridgeless and swollen) streams was ever 
before him. In older-settled communities bridges are taken 
as a matter of course, and only on the frontier of civilization 
does one come to realize the essential role they play in the 
life of the community. The point is well stated by Mrs. Till- 
son, whose honeymoon tour in 1822 took the form of a trip 
by buggy from Massachusetts to distant Illinois. All through 
Ohio they had met with continuous rain, and at Cincinnati 
the question presented itself of the possibility of getting 
through Indiana with a carriage. The situation was one 
for which the eastern woman's experience had afforded her 
no preparation. "When they talked about the streams in 
Indiana not being fordable," she observes, "I for the first 
time received the idea as a reality that there was such a 
thing as an inhabited country without bridges — my educa- 
tion was just beginning." 

It was an education common to every western man. The 
historian of early LaSalle County, himself a pioneer, relates 
that up to the time of building the first bridge over the 
Vermilion River he had a record of twenty-five persons who 
had been drowned in fording this one stream within a dis- 
tance of ten miles of the crossing. "Many were the hair- 
breadth escapes which most of the early settlers can recall," 
he continues, "and which in later years were never referred 
to without a thrill of emotion. It was a common remark 
that when a man left home in the morning, it was very 

184 



DANGERS OF THE HIGHWAY 

uncertain whether his wife's next dress would be a black 
one, or of some other color." 

But familiarity ever breeds indifference and, through 
constant exposure, the pioneer stage-driver acquired an 
easy contempt for the perils encountered in crossing bottom- 
less sloughs and raging torrents. Noah M. Ludlow, pioneer 
promoter of the drama in the West, relates an illustration 
in point. On one of his numerous journeys he had occasion 
to travel by stage from Pittsburg to Sandusky. The road 
across northern Ohio proved incredibly bad, running for 
many miles through a low country subject to recurrent over- 
flows from Lake Erie. The effort to get through by stage 
was finally abandoned, after a long and painful struggle, 
and the few remaining passengers mounted the horses and 
with the driver to guide them rode the last fifteen miles 
through a dark night into Sandusky. Before the ride was 
half completed the horses were wading in water to their 
knees, and Ludlow anxiously inquired of the driver whether 
they were not likely to mistake their way and ride into 
Lake Erie without knowing it until the horses should begin 
swimming. The driver made light of the suggestion, saying 
he had often driven his horses through the overflow from 
the lake and "never met with an accident but once, and 
that wasn't much of an accident." 

Curious to know what the mishap might have been, Lud- 
low pressed for the story. *'Well," said the driver, "it was 
a cloudy night, no moon or stars, and it was raining very 
hard. Something frightened the horses, and they jumped 
suddenly on one side, and before I could hold them up, 
sprang forward and dragged the whole concern into a deep 
pond, where the horses came near being drowned; but I 
cut them loose, and they swam out. The passengers got on 
the roof of the coach and came out safe, except one but he 
was only a nigger; the damned fool didn't know how to swim." 

"And did he drown?" inquired the dramatist of the driver, 
who had paused as though his tale were done. 

185 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

**0h, yes!" responded Jehu. "He was setting on the seat 
with me, and as the horses jumped into the pond he sprung 
off into the water, and that was the last I saw of him, but 
I heerd they found his body afterwards." 

The want of bridges was directly felt by every person in 
the community, and the bridging of the more important 
streams never failed to arouse widespread interest. But 
often years went by before the resources of the communi- 
ties were adequate to the task, and during this period trav- 
elers must either ford or be ferried across. 

The right to conduct a ferry was granted in organized 
counties by the county commissioners, and in unorganized 
territory by special act of the state legislature. The ferry- 
man paid a license, the fee being commonly a small one, 
but it accomplished the two-fold object of securing to the 
holder a monopoly of transporting travelers across the 
stream, and of enabling the state or local governing body 
to prescribe rates and other conditions connected with the 
enterprise. 

At Rockford the river was not bridged until 1845, ^^^^ 
years after the founding of the town. A ferry license had 
been granted to one of the founders of the place, however, 
in September, 1836. The license fee paid was ten dollars 
a year, and the following rates of ferriage were established: 
for each one-horse vehicle, 37^ cents; two-horse vehicles, 
62^ cents; man and horse, 25 cents; footman, 6% cents. 
For horses or cattle, 123^ cents per animal; hogs or sheep, 
2^ cents per animal. To residents of the town the ferry 
was free, the operators being reimbursed from the village 
treasury for this service. The first ferry at Chicago was es- 
tablished in the spring of 183 1 by the new board of commis- 
sioners of Cook County. The license fee was fifty dollars, and 
the holder, jovial Mark Beaubien, was required to transport 
gratis citizens of the county with their "traveling apratus." 

To bridge the placid Chicago was a simple matter, and 
as early as 1832 a bridge replaced the ferry across the South 

186 



DANGERS OF THE HIGHWAY 

Branch. Its cost was $486.20, to which sum, for some myste- 
rious reason, the Potawatomi Indians were made to con- 
tribute $200. 

Engineers were scarce in the western country, and the 
early bridges were rude structures, oftentimes of wonderful 
architecture. Some were known as "shaking bridges," 
others as "floating bridges.** One of the latter type spanned 
the Des Plaines on the Chicago-Elgin road in the early 
forties. It was composed of planks, laid down without 
nailing, on stringers which floated on the water. A teamster 
who for many years hauled grain to the Chicago market has 
left this description of its passage: "The horses' front feet 
would settle the planks about six inches, the hind ones 
about a foot or six inches more, the forward wheel about 
a foot and a half, and the hind ones about two feet in the 
water. It did not seem possible to cross safely on the con- 
cern. Every time a team crossed, every plank had to be 
replaced before the next one could cross." Thomas Moore, 
the English poet, had encountered bridges like this in Vir- 
ginia a generation earlier, and of them he wrote: "Mahomet, 
as Sale tells us, was at some pains to imagine a precarious 
kind of bridge for the entrance of Paradise, in order to en- 
hance the pleasures of arrival. A Virginia bridge, I think, 
would have answered his purpose completely." 

But the hazard of the actual crossing was oftentimes 
matched by . that attending the approach to the bridge. 
A case in point is related by the editor of the Chicago Ameri- 
can, who in 1839 made a visit to southern Illinois. Among 
the places visited was Vandalia, from which point he took 
the stage for St. Louis. The destination should have been 
reached about four o'clock in the afternoon, but en route 
the driver found the Cantine Creek out of its banks and 
the bridge washed away. He therefore set out over a side 
road for another bridge lower down the stream. Before 
long this road was found submerged, and in attempting 
to pass through the water the vehicle became stuck. The 

187 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

passengers were compelled to disembark and make their 
way on foot through the water three or four feet deep to 
dry land, whither the horses at length succeeded, after 
much floundering, in pulling the empty coach. The expe- 
rience undergone, however, proved but the beginning of 
their troubles. The lower bridge was found cut off by a 
body of water, in attempting to cross which the stage again 
became **completely stuck" in the swirling flood. Since in 
addition it manifested "fearful demonstrations" of over- 
turning, the six passengers hastily climbed out on the upper 
side, where they saved themselves from being swept away 
by the impetuous current only by clinging to the coach. 
Meanwhile the leaders got down in the water and to save 
them from drowning the driver hastily cut them loose from 
the harness. In doing so, however, he was swept head over 
heels down stream and saved himself from drowning only 
by catching hold of a sapling that stood in his way. He 
finally gained the shore, and the travelers were rescued from 
their precarious position. All made their way to a one- 
room farm house where they found shelter for the night. 
The coach was drawn from its watery bed by two yokes of 
oxen, and the next day proceeded on its way to St. Louis. 

The persistent myth with respect to the "good old times" 
in which our forefathers lived finds little support from an 
examination of crime in Illinois during the period in which 
we are interested. It is difficult, if not impossible, to estab- 
lish a statistical basis for one's study of the subject, but 
from extensive reading in the sources of information avail- 
able the impression is clear that in proportion to popula- 
tion criminal practices were much more prevalent eighty 
years ago than they are at the present time. 

There are fashions in crime as in all things else, and the 
evils which vexed the society of our forefathers were, of 
course, the product of their own particular environment. 
As in all frontier communities, the arm of the law was weak, 
and crimes of violence might be committed with but little 



DANGERS OF THE HIGHWAY 

danger of detection. "Illinois is the hiding place,** wrote a 
traveler of 1819, **for villains from every part of the United 
States, and, indeed, from every quarter of the globe. A major- 
ity of the settlers have been discharged from penitentiaries 
and gaols or have been the victims of misfortune or impru- 
dence. Many of those will reform, but many, very many, 
are made fit for robbery and murder." 

The picture may be overdrawn somewhat, but the fact 
is clear that throughout the pioneer period crimes of vio- 
lence were alarmingly prevalent. Foremost in the catalog 
was robbery, and northern Illinois in the forties was infested 
by organized bands of cut-throats who over wide stretches 
of country brought terror to the peaceful and law-abiding. 
Although their places of rendezvous were often known to 
the public, yet whole communities were terrorized into sub- 
mission to their lawless misdeeds. The two kinds of prop- 
erty commonly sought were horses and money. Murder 
might be an accompaniment of either form of robbery, but 
it was unlikely to occur in connection with horse-stealing, 
Horses were easily passed on to confederates in some section 
remote from the crime for disposal to innocent purchasers. 
The farmer knew only that he had been robbed; he had 
slight prospect of tracing his property, or of proving owner- 
ship, even if found. 

The stealing of money involved either robbery from the 
person or the burglarization of homes. In cases of the latter 
kind the method of operation was simple. There was a 
widespread and well-merited distrust of banking institu- 
tions, and anyone possessed of surplus funds commonly 
concealed them in his home. This circumstance was likely 
to be known, or at least suspected by his neighbors, who 
would also be aware of the plan of the house and the move- 
ments of members of the family. Some neighbor possessed 
of criminal inclinations would convey this information to a 
professional cut-throat, whose operations commonly extended 
over a wide area; equipped with it, the latter would commit 

189 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

the robbery and depart for other fields, having first paid the 
local resident a sum of money for his share in the villainy. 
If all went well, the crime would be one of simple burglary; 
if some member of the household chanced to interrupt the 
robber, however, or if the latter was disappointed in his 
search for money, murder was likely to follow. 

The operations of these cut-throats imperiled all honest 
men, but over strangers and travelers an especial menace 
hung. A man might be robbed or killed in his home com- 
munity, but this could hardly be done without the fact 
becoming known to his neighbors, who were likely to set 
in motion such agencies as the law possessed to avenge the 
crime. The traveler from some eastern state, however, 
was almost completely cut off from those who knew him. 
If his appearance and conversation were such as to con- 
vey the impression that he was possessed of some means, 
he offered a promising "sight" to the villains who infested 
the taverns and highways, and who might make way with 
him with comparative impunity. 

So common did such outrages become, and so widespread 
the fear of them on the part of travelers, that danger was 
often apprehended where none in fact existed. A letter 
from Chicago in March, 1843, by a member of a family 
engaged in migrating from Ohio to Wisconsin, recites a lurid 
tale of a night spent some miles east of Michigan City. This 
neighborhood was the headquarters of a gang of horse- 
thieves and counterfeiters, of which fact the emigrants had 
received advance warning. They planned, therefore, to pass 
through the **infested district" in a single day's drive, but 
the heavy state of the roads defeated this project, and they 
were compelled to put up for the night at a tavern which 
was reputed to be a kind of headquarters for the gang. 

The aspect of the place seemed to the apprehensive trav- 
elers fully to confirm its evil repute. The landlord was fan- 
tastically garbed in garments of red and green, while his 
bloated face and bloodshot eyes bespoke intimate acquaint- 

190 



DANGERS OF THE HIGHWAY 

ance with the "redeye" whiskey for which the region was 
noted. Inside, the newcomers found half a dozen men of 
like appearance to the host, who looked equal to the com- 
mission of any crime. 

The emigrants, fearful of losing their horses and perhaps 
their lives, determined to keep guard through the night. 
The barn was in view from their room, and all night long 
the men of the little party, each armed with a hickory cane 
and a pistol, watched the barn and listened intently for 
the expected assault. Yet the morning came without it, 
and after a comfortable breakfast "all the inmates of the 
house looked better" to the travelers, who departed feeling 
they had done their hosts an injustice. 

Equally unfounded were the apprehensions of Mrs. Morri- 
son from whose account of tavern experiences in Illinois 
in 1840 we have already quoted. With her father she had 
occasion to spend a night in Athens, a small village near 
Springfield. Soon after Mrs. Morrison had retired for the 
night her father came and aroused her, saying: "Get up as 
quick as you can and dress yourself. There are very strange 
noises, and something strange is going on downstairs. Take 
this bowie knife and defend yourself, if necessary. I have 
my sword cane, and we will do the best we can." 

Strange noises were indeed rising from below, and the 
travelers passed a night of terror, but with the dawn came 
enlightenment. The head of the household, an old man, 
had died during the night, and the sounds heard were caused 
by the grief of the family, and by neighbors coming to pre- 
pare for the funeral. The danger was non-existent, yet it 
is not without significance that the strangers should inter- 
pret in the way they did the innocent proceedings of the 
night, or that the father, a respectable New York merchant, 
should think it incumbent on him to travel about the state 
of Illinois armed with a bowie knife and a sword cane. 

That in general the traveler had ample ground for appre- 
hension concerning his safety, the records of the time make 

191 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

painfully clear. "Organized bands of counterfeiters, horse 
thieves, and desperate men, versed in crime of every char- 
acter, abounded," writes the biographer of Samuel J. Low, 
who was twice elected sheriff of Cook County in the early 
forties. "The Regulators had at best been only scotched, 
not killed. For every head of the serpent crushed, another 
was raised. The Davenport murderers were in their glory, 
the Driscolls flourishing and banded for evil with their 
brothers in infamy throughout the wide West. Every grove 
from Inlet and Paw Paw to the Wabash might have been 
said to contain caches of stolen goods and horses, and the 
cellar of many a tavern the bones of murdered men." 

The allusion to the Driscolls in the picture we have just 
quoted, calls attention to one of the most notorious bands 
of criminals in the annals of Illinois. For several years in 
the Rock River Valley it committed crimes in wholesale 
fashion against property and life, and the agencies of jus- 
tice seemed powerless to protect the harassed citizens. Since 
horses comprised the form of property most easily stolen 
and most readily concealed, the activities of the gang were 
largely directed to this particular crime. So widespread 
was the menace, that for several years in De Kalb, Lee, and 
adjoining counties it was a common custom for the settler 
who owned a good horse to sleep in the stable in order to 
protect his property. 

But horse stealing, while perhaps the commonest, was 
not the worst activity of the bandits. The circulation of 
counterfeit money was actively prosecuted, and it was 
widely believed that they were the perpetrators of darker 
and fouler crimes. Thus, when the Brodies, who were mem- 
bers of the gang living in western De Kalb County, finally 
fled the country, among the eflr'ects they left behind were a 
suspiciously large number of travelers* trunks, peddlers* 
cases, and similar property. This circumstance was gen- 
erally believed to account for the fate of peddlers and other 
travelers who at various times had been known to come 

192 



DANGERS OF THE HIGHWAY 

into the community and In the vicinity of Brodie's Grove 
had mysteriously vanished from sight. 

So numerous were the bandits, and so profitable their 
operations, that they were long able to conduct their activi- 
ties with impunity. Specific proof against them was diffi- 
cult to obtain, and in cases where the evidence seemed clear, 
the accused rested easy in the knowledge that the presence 
of a confederate in the jury box would result in a hung jury. 
An occasion where the usual program went awry occurred 
at the town of Oregon in 1841. Seven of the band had been 
arrested and placed in jail here awaiting trial. To defeat 
this, on the night preceding the day set for the trial to open, 
associates of the rogues assembled and burned the court- 
house and jail to the ground. But the prisoners did not 
escape; three of them were placed on trial, and the evidence 
submitted was conclusive of their guilt. Another confed- 
erate, however, had found a place on the jury, and he fol- 
lowed the usual custom of voting for acquittal. The eleven 
honest jurors, enraged by this procedure, fell upon the 
recalcitrant one and threatened to lynch him in the jury 
room unless he gave his assent to a verdict of guilty. He 
yielded, and the accused were sentenced to prison for the 
term of a year. All, however, broke jail and escaped. 

The reign of crime at length wrought a desperate cure. 
In the spring of 1841 a group of Ogle County settlers met 
and formally organized the Ogle County Lynching Club. 
Its membership soon included several hundred men from 
Ogle, Winnebago, Lee, and other counties, sworn to run 
the criminals out of the country. Numerous meetings of 
the Regulators, or Lynching Clubs, were held throughout 
the spring and summer, and armed bands traversed the 
several counties warning those on whom their displeasure 
fell to leave the country on pain of lynching. 

Today, the term **lynch" means to put to death, but at 
that time it involved ordinarily some form of physical chas- 
tisement, and the term "whipping clubs" conveys to the 

193 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

modern reader a more accurate idea of the designs of the 
Regulators than the name they themselves adopted. As 
always in the history of such movements, rascals managed 
to mingle with the honest men, and in the reign of terror 
which followed much of injustice was undoubtedly committed. 

This aspect, indeed, strongly features the most notorious 
act of the entire regime of the Regulators. Prominent among 
the reputed leaders of the criminal gang were John Dris- 
coll, who lived in northeastern Ogle County, and his sons 
William and David, who had homes a few miles away. The 
whippings and decrees of banishment meted out by the 
Regulators naturally roused the gangsters to madness. 
But the odds against them were overwhelming, and open 
resistance was out of the question. Resort was had, there- 
fore, to cunning. The first captain of the Regulators, one 
John Long, was a miller. His mill was soon burned, and 
Long, discouraged, resigned his position. In his place was 
chosen John Campbell, a devout Scotch Presbyterian and a 
man of iron resolution. Campbell led a large band of armed 
men into western De Kalb County, and Judge Ford, who 
was holding court at Sycamore, sent out a formal embassy, 
composed of the Sheriff, Probate Judge, and other officials, 
to inquire their intentions. Campbell stated frankly their 
purpose to drive the criminals from the country, and to 
this the officials made no objection. The incident sealed 
the death warrant of Campbell, however. At a secret meet- 
ing of the outlaw leaders it was determined to assassinate 
him, in the hope, thereby, of breaking up the Regulators 
and terminating their obnoxious crusade. 

A few evenings later Campbell was shot down at his home 
in the presence of his wife and son by two assassins whom 
the witnesses believed to be David and Taylor Driscoll. 
The news of the murder roused the country and from every 
direction bands of Regulators turned out to hunt down the 
perpetrators. David and Taylor Driscoll had vanished, but 
John Driscoll was taken and his house burned to the ground, 

194 




THE PERILS OF PIONEER TRAVEL 

Title page of Edward Bonney's narrative of how he ran to earth a notori- 
ous gang of cutthroats who infested Illinois in the early forties. 



DANGERS OF THE HIGHWAY 

while another band seized William Driscoll and his young 
brother. Pierce. The two were taken to the home of Camp- 
bell, where over the corpse of her husband the widow confi- 
dently stated that they were not the assassins. But the hue 
and cry had been raised against the Driscolls, and a great 
rendezvous of the lynching clubs had been appointed for 
the morrow. The prisoners were kept, therefore, for disposal 
by the larger assemblage. 

Under all the circumstances there could be little doubt 
as to their fate. The next day John Driscoll and his two sons 
rode to the appointed place in a single wagon with ropes 
around their necks. A barrel of whiskey was procured from 
a nearby distillery, and while the bands awaited the arrival 
of the Rockford Club, they imbibed freely the maddening 
liquor. With the arrival of the Rockford party, a circle 
was formed and a lawyer named Leland, was chosen pre- 
siding officer. John Driscoll was given a farcical trial, and 
unanimously condemned to death. William was then led 
into the ring, and accusations against him were invited by 
the judge. There was little that could be said, while a 
number of citizens from Sycamore, convinced of his inno- 
cence, strove manfully to procure his acquittal. But to 
no avail, for his defenders were silenced by a storm of hisses, 
and his fate was sealed by a general cry from the crowd of 
"shoot him, shoot him.'* 

The boy. Pierce, was now put up, but his youth, com- 
bined with an entire absence of evidence against him, moved 
the maddened throng to mercy, and he was discharged. 
The two condemned men were given an hour to prepare for 
eternity, and a Methodist preacher, who was present as 
leader of the band from Oregon, after drinking a dipper of 
whiskey from the open barrel, knelt down and began a 
lengthy prayer. William Driscoll joined him in this, but the 
old man gave no heed to the proceedings. At the appointed 
time he was blindfolded and made to kneel upon the grass. 
The lynchers formed in a long line, the command to fire 

195 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

was given, and a hundred bullets riddled his body. William 
was now made to kneel beside the bloody corpse of his sire 
and undergo the same fate. The two bodies were thrown 
into a brush heap, and the Regulators dispersed to their 
homes. 

The lynching clubs provided a crude, yet efficacious rem- 
edy for a terrible disease. An innocent man, in all proba- 
bility had been done to death, yet the wiping out of the 
DriscoU family, together with the attendant whippings and 
banishings, broke up the criminal gang and restored a sem- 
blance of peace to the sorely tried community. Among the 
throng that put John and William Driscoll to death were 
doctors, lawyers, postmasters, and town and county officials. 
Although they struck out blindly, committing incidental 
injustice, they sought the preservation of orderly society 
rather than its overthrow. 

The events under review belong to a single episode of the 
history of Illinois in the forties, yet they throw a flood of 
light on the social conditions of the period. The society of 
the frontier had many attractive aspects, but ease and safety 
of travel were not numbered among them. At one period or 
another almost every part of the state was subjected to the 
depredations of bands of cut-throats, who were driven out 
of business only with the development of a more settled 
condition of society. The incredible badness of the earlier 
period is strikingly illustrated in the journal of Richard Lee 
Mason, a Philadelphia doctor, who in 1819 traveled across 
Illinois from Vincennes to St. Louis. With his recital we 
may fittingly close the present chapter. In perusing it, the 
reader should remember that this was the route over which 
in 1 821 the great stage line from Louisville to St. Louis 
was established. 

"Sunday, Nov. 7. — Left Vincennes at 7 o'clock. Crossed 
the meandering stream, Wabash, into Illinois. This river 
abounds in fish, ducks, and geese. Traveled thirty miles 
over rich and elegant prairies. Passed but very few houses 

196 



DANGERS OF THE HIGHWAY 

in this distance. Our poor horses and ourselves almost 
famished for water. Traveled eighteen miles without a drop, 
and then compelled to use it out of a stagnant pool, where 
thousands of insects considered the water private property. 
Arrived at McDermott's on the Fox River. Obtained a 
list of cut-throats and murderers, whose names are as fol- 
lows on the list: Gatewood, Rutherford, Grimberryy Cain, 
Young, Portlethwaite, etc. This chain of villains extended 
for eighty miles through all the dreary and lonesome prairies. 
We were informed that when they were not engaged in 
robbing or murdering they were very industriously employed 
in manufacturing bank notes, which they imposed on trav- 
elers at every opportunity. It may be worthy of remark 
that all the country for forty miles around where those 
banditti have taken possession belongs to the United States. 
For the convenience of travelers, a new road has been made 
through this country, instead of going by Shawneetown, and 
those villains have posted themselves along the road under 
the name of tavernkeepers, watching for their prey when- 
ever it may pass. Indeed, I conceive it impossible for any 
man who has cash enough to make him worth killing to travel 
this road alone. Called to see Gatewood, the first man on 
the list of cut-throats. He was from home. Saw his wife, 
a handsome, young, dejected-looking woman, who appeared 
very uneasy at her husband's being inquired for by a man 
almost as well armed and not much out of the style of Rob- 
inson Crusoe. Saw a bloody cravat on the end of the log 
on which his house was built. We intend to call and see 
the balance of the fraternity out of curiosity. Traveled 
over prairies just burned and through woods on fire. Smoke 
and dust together with the want of water, almost produced 
suffocation, families sending miles for water to drink. The 
prairies extend for miles. Indeed, as far as the eye can 
reach, level as a plank floor. The soil generally is a bed of 
manure, the land uncultivated and without any person to 
claim it. The few inhabitants found in this part of the 

197 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

country are impolite, lazy, and disobliging. Passed many 
families traveling to the west, and met a few bound to the 
east. There has been no rain in this part of the country for 
nearly seven months. Many of the farmers have lost stock 
in consequence of the drought. A few years ago this part 
of Illinois was inhabited only by the rude and uncivilized 
savage. The scalping knife and tomahawk graced their 
bark dwellings and were often used in the most inhuman 
manner. The murdering of women and children whom 
they viewed as their enemies was not an uncommon occur- 
rence. But who could have believed that when the red men 
of the forest had retired from this beautiful country their 
places would have been supplied by persons whose char- 
acters would be softened by the appellation of savage — peni- 
tentiary outcasts and murderers. Who could believe that 
a human being could be so depraved as to fall upon a defense- 
less and unoffending traveler and murder him under the 
pretence of sheltering him from the storm and giving him 
a hearty welcome at his table. Who could believe that even 
devils in human shape could cut the throats of two travel- 
ing strangers to obtain two watches, $80 and a pair of sad- 
dle-bags? I shudder at the blackness of the crime. It occurred 
only yesterday, and we are at this moment near the spot 
where the horrid deed was committed. Two other murders 
have lately been committed near this place. A stranger was 
found hung on a tree and a traveler was murdered near 
Shawneetown by the same men whose names have been 
mentioned. 

-'During last summer a traveler was found murdered near 
one of those prairies, but he had been dead so long it was 
impossible to ascertain who he was. 

"Monday, Nov. 8. — ^Left McDermott's at 7 o'clock. Crossed 
a prairie five miles wide. Met with a new species of game 
called prairie hens. They are very much like the pheasant, 
and I am of the opinion that they are the grouse. Plenty of 
deer and turkeys. Crossed a prairie twelve miles broad and 



DANGERS OF THE HIGHWAY 

arrived at the house of Rutherford, the second man on the 
cut-throat list. We had time enough to pass this house, 
but having a Hst of desperadoes, and being disappointed in 
seeing Gatewood, curiosity induced us to spend the night. 
This was a piece of comedy for information which was near 
ending in tragedy. Our traveling party consisted of four 
persons. Dr. Hill, myself, and two young men, strangers 
from Kentucky. As we traveled in a little carriage, and 
with a pair of horses, we placed our fellow-travelers' bag- 
gage with our own, which made a considerable show. On 
our arrival a man dressed like a Quaker pretended to be 
hostler until he ascertained the quantity of our baggage. 
I recognized him as an engraver from Philadelphia, who 
had been a candidate for the pentitentiary for forgery. We 
called for the landlord, and were informed by Mrs. Ruther- 
ford that he was not at home, but we could be well enter- 
tained and made comfortable in every way. Mrs. R. is 
a young and beautiful woman, possessing a delicacy of 
features and elegance of shape but seldom to be met with 
in those cabins of misery. The lily and the rose appeared to 
vie with each other to gain the ascendency on her cheeks. 
Her teeth were even, beautifully white, and well placed. 
Her hair curled in irregular ringlets down her neck. She 
smiled on all. Her eyes were quick, black, sparkling and 
full of impudence and bold and disagreeable looks. 
**0 woman, if by simple wile 

Thy soul has strayed from honor's track. 

'Tis mercy only can beguile. 

By gentle ways, the wanderer back. 

Go, go, be innocent and live! 

The tongues of men may wound thee sore, 

But heaven in pity can forgive. 

And bids thee go and sin no more." 
"We spent our time very agreeably for about two hours. 
My friend was so much fascinated with this western beauty 
that I began to conclude his common stock of gallantry had 

199 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

much improved since his arrival in this fertile country. 
Indeed, they appeared mutually pleased and the fleeing 
hours seemed almost too short for the full enjoyment of 
each other's conversation. Myself and fellow-travelers en- 
joyed the mirth and jokes. Little did my friend dream a 
frightful cloud was hovering over him which threatened to 
darken all his bright prospects. We were suddenly startled 
by the shrill Indian war-whoop, which proceeded from a 
thicket near the house. It may not be amiss to mention 
here this war-whoop was what my friend had never before 
heard. It appeared to pass over his frame like an electric 
shock, and from his being an elegant man, six feet high, 
and in a lover's attitude, he was reduced to about three 
feet in height, with knees as high as his chin and the points 
of his shoulders higher than his head. In this situation he 
perspired very freely. We were not kept long in a state of 
suspense. Rutherford and three sturdy fellows, armed, 
entered the house, all half-drunk. They took no notice of 
us, but eyed our baggage, which was heaped upon the floor. 
They drank freely of whiskey, and appeared in fine spirits. 
As one of our companions was passing a small log house, 
in which food was kept, he heard the men whispering, which 
he informed me of. I immediately got a candle. Searched 
the house, but did not see any person. However, as I was 
returning, I found two tall men hid in the chimney, who, on 
being spoken to, went into the house, making six all together, 
and most of them very tall. They were armed with rifles 
and butcher knives, without coats or hats, their sleeves 
rolled up, their beards long and their faces smutted, such 
as the braves are represented in the play **The Foundling 
of the Forest." We had been anxious to see some of these 
banditti, but we did not contemplate seeing so large a com- 
pany or having so full a visit from the fraternity. Ruther- 
ford disguised himself and denied that he was landlord, 
or that he lived at the place. It was not long before we 
were informed of the business of those devil-like looking 



DANGERS OF THE HIGHWAY 

visitors. Some of their private consultations were over- 
heard. Robbery and murder was contemplated. They 
would frequently whisper and pinch each other and give a 
number of private signals which we did not understand. 
One observed "the trap door was too open," "that the boards 
were too wide apart," in a loud tone of voice. The reply 

was: "By G , it should be screwed up tight enough before 

morning!" They often mentioned the names of the cut- 
throats we had on our list as their particular friends and 
associates. They also spoke of the two men who had been 
murdered the day before, and acknowledged that they ate 
their last meal in the home we were in. Laughed at the 
manner in which the throats of one of these unfortunate 
men was cut, and many other circumstances which would 
swell this memorandum too much. Convinced us beyond a 
doubt they were of the banditti that had been described 
to us. Our own safety now became a matter of serious con- 
sideration, and our party of four held a consultation after 
the robbers' consultation was over (which was held in the dark a 
little way from the house) . The two strangers that we overtook 
on the road were firm-spirited, and declared we would die 
side by side or conquer if attacked. I am almost ashamed 
to add that a man whom I have named as friend in my 
memorandum, whom I have known for years, and with 
whom I have traveled i,ooo miles, expressed himself to the 

following effect: "By G , instead of joining us he would 

take care of himself!" and insinuated that he would join 
the strongest side, and immediately went into the house 
and placed himself among the ruffians. 

"Monday, Nov. 8, 1819. — ^The disappointment experienced 
from the unmanly conduct of Dr. Hill had a happy effect 
on our little company. It bound us more firmly and nearer 
together, and I may add with truth, almost fitted us for 
the field of battle. The hour of 9 o'clock had now arrived, 
the night uncommonly dark and cloudy. On our going into 
the house one of the strangers went into the yard and gave 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

the Indian war-whoop three times very loud. About lo 
o'clock they took their six rifles, went into the yard with a 
candle and shot them off one by one, snuffing the candle 
at forty yards with every shot. They then loaded afresh, 
primed and picked their flints. A large horn was then taken 
from the loft and blown distinctly three times very loud. 
All those signals (which we had been told of) brought no 
more of the company. They then dispatched two of their 
own party, who were gone until 12 o'clock. They stated 
to their comrades "they could not be had." It may be read- 
ily imagined, after what we had overheard, seeing such 
preparations and observing many of their private signals, 
being warned of our danger previous to stopping at the house 
together with the recent and cruel murders which had been 
committed, in a strange country, where every man made 
and executed his own law to suit himself — I say it cannot 
be a matter of wonder that our situation began to put on a 
character of the most unpleasant kind. However, we were 
well armed, having pistols, dirks, knives and a gun, and 
were determined, if necessity should require, to be mur- 
dered in the house and not to be dragged into the woods, 
there to have our throats cut. It being a little after 12 
o'clock the bravos proposed to take a drink and lie down on 
the floor to rest, which they did and upon their arms. The 
house being very small they almost covered the floor of one 
room. The small back room was intended for us. There 
was no door to the partition, and the logs were about six 
inches apart. We were under some apprehension that in 
case of an attack they would be able to fire on us through 
the logs. After they were all still, myself and companions 
lay down in reach of each other, our clothes on, our dirks 
unsheathed, the guards oflF our pistols and three extra bullets 
in our gun, and agreed if a signal was given to fight the 
good fight. I had like to have forgotten Dr. Hill. He had 
placed himself on the far side of the bed upon which I lay 
and had got out of the wall a small log, but not of sufficient 

202 



DANGERS OF THE HIGHWAY 

size in case of accident to allow him to make his escape. 
Although the evening was cool the drops of sweat stood 
upon his forehead as large as peas. He complained of great 
pain about the kidneys and that his head hung loose upon 
his shoulders. Knowing that those fellows were expert 
at cutting throats, from their conversation on that subject^ 
I determined to put them to as much trouble as possible. 
Took off my cravat and twisted my silk handkerchief and 
tied it round my neck. In this situation we spent the night. 
We lay on our arms ready for the word. But little sleep. 
When they would move we did the same. If they coughed 
we followed the example. In this dreadful way the night 
was spent. I have no hesitation of declaring that if we had 
not been well armed or kept a strict watch we should have 
been robbed and murdered, and nothing but the fear of our 
killing a part of them kept their hands off. Could they 
have added to their numbers by their signals, our fate would 
have been certain. It is probable that the balance of their 
party was engaged in some other enterprise. About the 
break of day the signal of rising was given by our visitors. 
We were on our feet in a minute, and our hands upon our 
arms. Three of them examined their rifles, and, after having 
some conversation with their comrades, proceeded up the 
road we had to travel. I presume to place themselves behind 
trees and fire upon us without the risk of being killed. We 
lost no time in placing our baggage in our carriage and 
getting ready to leave this robbers' den. After paying our 
bill and being ready for a start, one of the brotherhood begged 
I would take my saddle bags into the house again; that he 
wanted a dose of medicine for one who was very sick. This 
I declined doing, suspecting his object, and advised him to 
call on some person with whom he was better acquainted. 
We then bid adieu to Mr. Rutherford, his family, the ban- 
ditti and the edge of the twelve-mile prairie. Wo had not 
traveled more than half a mile when we fell in with four 
travelers going to St. Louis, which increased our number 

203 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

to eight persons, and placed us out of danger. In making 
a memorandum of this unpleasant transaction, many im- 
portant circumstances and some facts have been omitted. 
To have given a full detail would have taken more time 
than is in my power to devote at this time." 



204 



CHAPTER XII 



A BRIDAL TOUR IN PIONEER ILLINOIS 



ONE of the brilliant preachers of the pioneer West 
was William H. Milburn, who despite the handicap 
of almost total blindness, was elected chaplain of 
Congress at the early age of twenty-two. The circumstance 
which led to this election well illustrates the character of the 
man. Finding himself on an Ohio River steamboat, he was 
invited to preach to the assembled passengers. Several 
members of Congress were present, returning to Washing- 
ton for the approaching session, who had been passing the 
time with gambling, drinking, and profane conversation. 
At the conclusion of his more formal discourse the young 
preacher addressed himself directly to these men, adminis- 
tering to them a severe rebuke for their unseemly conduct 
while on the boat. 

The boldness and evident sincerity of the young preacher 
evoked the admiration of those whom he had rebuked. 
While he was sitting in his room, reflecting with some trepi- 
dation upon the probable consequences of his action, a 
spokesman from the group of Congressmen knocked at the 
door, and being admitted, presented in their name a hand- 
some purse of money together with the information that if 
Milburn would consent to accept the position of chaplain 
of Congress they would take pleasure in securing it for him. 

The proffer was accepted, and at the opening of the ses- 
sion in December, 1845, Milburn assumed the duties of his 
new station. Congress adjourned August 10, 1846, and 
three days later he was married in Baltimore, and with his 
bride immediately set out for Paris, Illinois, to attend the 
annual conference of his church. 

The route of travel taken was by way of New York and 

205 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS— OLD AND NEW 

Buffalo to Chicago. There was then no direct stage connec- 
tion between Chicago and Paris, and accordingly the trav- 
elers proceeded from Chicago to Peoria, from which place 
a stage line ran east to Danville. Here the stage line ended 
and a private Conveyance was procured in which to con- 
tinue the journey to Paris. The story of this bridal journey 
was published by Mr. Milburn a dozen years after its occur- 
rence in his book Ten Years of Preacher Life. It affords 
such an excellent picture of the varying conditions which 
the traveler in Illinois in this period might reasonably expect 
to experience as to deserve reprinting here: 

After a quiet Sabbath, spent with an old friend, we started 
bright and early in a stage coach with eleven passengers — 
(in those days Chicago had no railroads) — for Peru, the head 
of navigation on the Illinois River. The distance was a 
hundred miles, and we accomplished it in about twenty- 
four hours. The Illinois was very low, and only the smallest 
boats could navigate it. A sort of mud shallop, dignified 
by the appellation of a stern-wheel steamer, awaited our 
arrival at Peru, and according to the fashion of western 
boatmen, several hours after everything was in readiness 
for our departure the captain rang the bell and we started. 
Our fare at dinner was, of course, the never-eaten roast 
beef, roast pig and sole-leather pudding; and for breakfast 
and tea, a dark colored witch's broth that reminded one of 
Mr. Randolph's retort upon a waiter in hearing of the pro- 
prietor of a Richmond hotel. "Boy," said the beardless 
lord of Roanoake, "If this is coffee, bring me tea; and if 
this is tea, bring me coffee — I want a change." 

An experience of twenty-four hours upon the wretched 
little craft made us glad to exchange sailing for staging, at 
Peoria. Bidding adieu to our traveling companions, my wife 
and I started, sole occupants of a coach, for a long ride 
across the State from west to east. Eleven miles out of town 
we were informed that we must leave the stage, with its 
four horses, and take a wagon with two, as "they only kept 

206 



A BRIDAL TOUR IN PIONEER ILLINOIS 

the Stage for grandeur, to run into 'Peory.' " But we were 
young and light-hearted, and as the weather was fine, thought 
we could put up with rough accommodations. Placing a 
trunk in the rear of the wagon — which, by the way, had 
only wooden rings — to make a more comfortable seat than 
the rough unplaned board, we jolted off. At the house where 
we stopped to dine my wife was for the first time introduced 
to all the mysteries of a western kitchen. The chickens 
were killed, picked and cleaned, cooked and served before 
our eyes, and the leaden biscuits and half-raw corn bread 
were kneaded and baked under our inspection. Mine was 
a hearty meal, but hers was very slender. I had the advantage 
of her in being accustomed to such fare, and withal, as she 
averred after starting for our afternoon's ride, in the fact 
that I couldn't see what I was eating. "Eyes," she thought, 
"were very much in the way of people who proposed to travel 
"out West." Indeed, one of the precepts of the country is 
"Shut your eyes and go it blind," and it may have sprung 
from the amount of dirt intermixed with some man's dinner. 
Toward sundown we were approaching the town of Bloom- 
ington, where we were to lie over until two the next morn- 
ing in order to make connection with another stage line. 
I inquired of our driver what sort of accommodations 
we should find at the hotel in town. He assured us that we 
should get nothing fit to eat, and that if we attempted to 
sleep, the bedbugs would eat us up. Not disposed to run 
this gauntlet, I asked him to drive me to the door of the 
Methodist that lived in the largest and most comfortable 
house. As we stopped at the gate, the clatter of knives, 
forks, and plates within, and the sound of merry voices, 
announced that the family were at supper. "Halloo the 
house!" cried I. "Halloo yourself; what do you want?" 
was the reply. "I am traveling with my wife, and learn- 
ing that the quarters at the hotel are bad, have come to 
get some supper and spend a part of the night with you." 
As I said this, I was making the word good by getting out 

207 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

of the wagon. The man of the house came striding toward 
the gate, saying in an angry tone, ''Look here, stranger, 
we don't keep a tavern, and if you're a traveler, you must 
put up with traveler's fare and go to the hotel." "Don't 
be so savage," said I, "have you never heard the saying, 
'be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for some have thereby 
entertained angels unawares?'" "Oh, ho," said he, "that 
sounds like preaching, you ain't a preacher, are you?" I inti- 
mated that I was, and mentioned my name. Eying me from 
head to foot, he exclaimed: "Well, I never! Who would 
have taken such a poor dried-up specimen as you for that 
man; we've thought of trying to get you here as our preacher!" 

Of course we received a hearty welcome, and ere long were 
seated at a bountiful board. But we had not finished supper, 
when a messenger came in hot haste with the request that I 
should go to visit a dying man and administer the last offices 
of religion to him. I spent a couple of hours by his bedside, 
and in attempting to console his heart-broken wife, then 
by ten o'clock was fast asleep. At two, we were roused by 
the elemental strife, by the horn and shouts of our stage 
driver. We were soon seated in our miserable wagon, with 
no protection from the driving rain but a tow-linen cover, 
through which the water dripped in showers. We had been 
overtaken by a furious equinoctial storm, which began 
about midnight, and our plight was pitiable enough. The 
temperature had fallen about forty degrees; the night was 
pitchy dark, only relieved by frequent flashes of lightning, 
most vivid and sometimes appalling, instantly followed by 
sharp and stunning reports of thunder; but the flashes helped 
to light our driver on his way, or would have done so, had 
they not showed the whole prairie, a pool of water. After 
a time we reached a little belt of timber, indicating our 
approach to a creek. As we crossed the bridge, we heard 
the now-swollen torrent rushing through a deep ravine, 
when the broad glare revealed our position. 

"By Jove!" shouted the driver with glee. "Weren't that 

208 



A BRIDAL TOUR IN PIONEER ILLINOIS 

lucky? a half minute more and we'd have all been smashed. 
I never was so near going over a bridge; half an inch more, 
and we'd been over and salt would't have saved us." To the 
rather timid question of my wife, as to whether there were 
any more bad bridges to cross before daylight, he replied: 
*'0h yes, several; but you musn't be skeered; we must all 
die sometime, you know." 

At length day broke and revealed the dismal picture of 
a cold, leaden sky, from which torrents still poured upon the 
low prairie, that appeared a lake. It seemed as if chaos 
had come again, and that the waters under the firmament 
were united to the waters above the firmament, and the 
dry land had disappeared. We floundered on through the 
water until, several hours behind time, we reached the break- 
fast house. It was a log cabin of a single room, and the only 
habitation within many miles. The front door was nailed 
up, and entering by the back one, we found the entire fam- 
ily stretched out upon beds and shake-downs. "What's 
the matter?" I said. "Oh," answered a saffron-colored, 
shrivelled old woman, at the same time crawling out of her 
bed, "we've all got the ager, bilious and congestive." "Have 
any died?" I said. "Yes, two or three," she answered, "and 
I reckon the rest of us will be dead soon, for there ain't 
one well enough to wait upon another." "I suppose there's 
no chance for breakfast then." "If you're willing to take 
what you can ketch, we wouldn't like to see you starvin'." 
She gave us the best her larder afforded, and offering a 
prayer with the miserable people, we pursued our weary 
way, and late in the afternoon reached a place called Mount 
Pleasant, evidently to show how great is the difference 
between names and things. It was a wretched hamlet, con- 
sisting of a tavern, a groggery, and a blacksmith shop, squatted 
upon the edge of a low prairie. Here we had to lie over again 
for another stage connection, and I advised my wife to 
improve the interval by seeking needed repose. She stretched 
herself upon the bed and I took the floor; but scarcely were 

209 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

we composed, before a great rat, who had probably been 
enjoying a siesta, started from the neighborhood of her 
pillow and springing over her head, landed near me. Of 
course, sleep refused to visit her eye-lids in that house. 
Toward nightfall a carriage stopped at the door, and we 
found ourselves joined by a New England gentleman, his 
wife, and several children, who, we were not long in dis- 
covering, were on their way to the neighborhood of Peoria, 
as missionaries. I confess to the wickedness of rather enjoy- 
ing their lugubrious estate. 

In common with my brother Methodist preachers on the 
frontier, I had become prejudiced against a very worthy 
class of orthodox evangelists, who are accustomed to enter 
the new countries, and before doing any real service or facing 
many of the hardships and privations of border life, hasten 
back to their native land to tell long and gloomy stories 
concerning the destitution and heathenism of the great 
West, and to raise collections for sending the Gospel to those 
pagan parts. They seemed to think that because they had 
failed to stay and do their duty, there were no ministers 
or church in prairie land; while we had been there from the 
earliest settlements; had preached to the Indians and the 
first squatters, had borne the heat and burden of the day, 
and thought, according to the course of nature, that these 
sprigs of theological seminaries had no right to represent us, 
though inferior to them in the matter of Hebrew and Greek 
roots, as little better than the wicked. Yielding to the 
impulse, I was not sorry to find the newcomer very much 
depressed, nor was I very much disposed to help him toward 
a more cheerful frame of mind, but thought as he left his 
native land to be a missionary, his heroic purpose should 
have the benefit of a thorough test. He related the doleful 
way he had come, how the roads were almost impassable 
and the people, in every house, sick and dying; he had heard 
that a man, seized by a congestive chill, would sometimes 
die in an hour, and the victims never survived a third attack. 

2IO 



A BRIDAL TOUR IN PIONEER ILLINOIS 

I told him that so far as I knew, this was true, and in reply 
to his eager questions as to the condition of the country- 
through which I had come could only assure him that it was 
quite as bad as that through which he had traveled, and if 
possible worse. While he and his wife were holding an anxious 
consultation, as to whether they should not, with the mor- 
row's dawn turn their backs upon this region of horrors our 
stage drove up and we embarked, for judging from the rain- 
covered earth you might almost as well say that it was sail- 
ing as riding. Our conveyance tonight was an improvement 
upon the last, but it was not much to boast of; only an old 
broken-down coach, with both the windows out, and a mass 
of wet mail bags piled upon the front seat. Nevertheless, 
we made ourselves comfortable as might be, my wife taking 
possession of the back seat, while I, doubled up in as small 
compass as possible, lay upon some hay on the floor. Plung- 
ing through mud and mire, sometimes stalling in a particu- 
larly bad place, and at the best getting forward only at 
snail's pace, I was suddenly roused from a fitful nap by the 
sound of a man's voice, in angry conversation with the 
driver. Our lamps disclosed a man in his shirt sleeves, riding 
a horse and leading another. His mouth was filled with 
blasphemous oaths, and he was the very impersonation of 
unbridled rage. He proved to be the driver of a coach coming 
from the opposite direction. His team had mired some 
distance back, and he had no alternative but to unharness 
and go a dozen miles for help, leaving his stage and the 
mails in the slough. An hour afterward we reached the 
foundered coach, and by way of giving myself something 
to do, I shouted at the top of my voice, "Halloo! the stage!" 
When to my surprise, for I had not dreamed that a human 
being save ourselves was near, there came forth the reply in 
a cheery tone — "halloo, yourself, and tell me how you like 
it." "Who are you?" I asked, "and what are you doing 
there?" "Only a passenger, and taking it comfortably," 
he answered. His composure was as imperturable as the 

211 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

driver's wrath had been boisterous. Toward dayHght, we 
suddenly drew up again, and the driver shouted, "Out! 
out! for your lives! I am on a bad bridge, and I reckon 
we'll go through!" I opened the door, sprang out in the 
darkness, and found myself performing a series of somer- 
saults down an inclined plane of mud, and landed in a swamp. 
"You don't expect my wife to get out here, I hope," I said 
as soon as I could get breath. "Do you want her neck broke?" 
he asked. "Not exactly, for I am just married; you lubberly 
fellow, why don't you get down and carry her to the bridge? 
it will hold her if it won't the team." "Hold the horses 
then," said he, and I managed to crawl to their heads, keep- 
ing them steady, while he deposited my wife on the shaking 
timbers, drenched by the falling rain, while the swollen 
torrent rushed and roared through the black chasm beneath 
our feet. There we stood for an hour, while he backed his 
team down, and drove off to find a ford across the swollen 
current. At length he returned, and we, chilled to the bone, 
wet to the skin, capital subjects for congestive fever, made 
our way back to our places, thankful to be alive, with whole 
bones. Another dreary day came at last, and an early din- 
ner-time found us established before a blazing fire in the 
hotel of Danville. Having partaken of the bacon and greens, 
my wife thought she would try to take a nap, while I went 
out to look for a conveyance to Paris, distant about forty 
miles, for the stage route terminated here. It was not long, 
however, before my search for carriage and horses was 
arrested by a hurried message, requesting that I should 
visit a brother preacher who lay dying with congestive 
fever. He was a noble fellow, thoroughly enlisted in his 
work, had joined the conference at the same time I did, and 
was now ceasing at once to work and to live. He was col- 
lected and peaceful, for the sting of death was gone. As I 
bade him farewell he said, "you will see the brethren to- 
morrow, but I shall never see them again until we meet 
before the throne. Tell the conference that I died at my 
post." A little while after, he entered his rest. 

212 



( 



I 



A BRIDAL TOUR IN PIONEER ILLINOIS 

It took me two full hours to arrange for our start, pro- 
curing a horse from one man, a second from another, a set 
of harness from a third, another set from a fourth, a carry- 
all from a fifth, and after much difficulty I succeeded in 
persuading a blacksmith to act as driver. All things being 
in readiness, I drove up to the hotel for my wife, supposing 
that I should find her refreshed by a good nap, but she had 
hardly lain down when two-thirds of the ceiling of the room 
fell with a crash, barely missing her head. 

After that, sleep was of course out of the question. The 
night came down upon us still twenty miles from Paris, 
and in front of a rather good-looking house, which our driver 
assured us was the only one fit to stop on the whole road. 
I requested him, therefore, to inquire if they could accommo- 
date us with supper and bed. They answered, "No, they 
could not take strange travelers." The driver said that it 
was impossible to go on to Paris, that he did not know the 
road, and we would be sure to get lost, for the night was 
going to be pitchy dark. I was not disposed to endure hunger 
and cold and darkness for twelve mortal hours to gratify 
the inhospitable churls; so, alighting, I bade the driver take 
off the luggage, and started for the house, but was met, 
before reaching the door by its master. 

"Didn't I send you word you couldn't stay here," he 
began. "Of course you did," I answered, "but I am going 
to stay all the same. Are you savage enough to make a 
woman spend the night on the prairie, and you sleeping 
with a house over your head? The Indians ain't as mean 
as that." "Well, I reckon you'll have to stop; you're a right- 
determined creetur." Once in the house, they made us com- 
fortable. When bedtime arrived, I said, "I am a Metho- 
dist preacher." "You," interrupted our host, "who'd ha' 
thought such a looking little thing as you was a preacher!" 
"Yes, I am a Methodist preacher," I continued, "and it is 
my custom to have prayers with the family in which I stay, 
if there be no objection." "I'm agreeable, fire away," said 

213 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

the landlord. Our devotions over, we prepared to retire. 
There were two sleeping apartments; one belonging to the 
family, consisting of a dozen grown people besides sundry 
children; the other, through which, by the way, the entire 
brigade had to pass on their way to and from bed, was 
assigned to us. There happened to be a young woman visit- 
ing the family, and she was shown to a second bed in our room. 
She and my wife had gone in to undress, when the latter, 
feeling sympathy for a girl in such delicate circumstances 
said in a commiserating tone, "I am sorry you are obliged 
to sleep in this way." "Yes," replied the other feeling the 
bed clothes, "it is kinder uncomfortable when a body's 
been used to sleeping between blankets, to have to lay on 
a sheet." Bright and early next morning we were roused 
by the heavy-shod platoon marching by us on their wav to 
their day's work. Prayers and breakfast over, we were 
ready for the road, when I said to mine host, "What's your 
bill?" "The damage, you mean? Will you pay me what 
I ask?" "Certainly, if I can." "Well, if you ever come 
within ten miles of us agin, give us a call and stay over night; 
I'll be consarned if I don't like seech a chap as you are." 

High noon found us in Paris. This was Saturday; we had 
left Chicago on Monday. You can leave it by rail, after a 
comfortable breakfast, and take a late dinner the same 
afternoon in Paris. Conference had been in session since 
Wednesday, and you can well fancy that the meeting with 
old friends after a year's separation was a joyous one. 

One of my cronies, Billy Rutledge, as we called him, as 
genial, warm-hearted and lovable a Methodist preacher as 
ever carried a pair of saddle bags, had brought a carriage 
to Paris to take us to my father's home, a three days' drive. 
The first evening we reached the edge of the grand prairie, 
where stood a single cabin, consisting of two rooms. About 
twenty-five preachers were in our company, and this was 
the only house at which we could put up. The people received 

ai4 



7 

f 

I 



A BRIDAL TOUR IN PIONEER ILLINOIS 

US gladly, notwithstanding the disparity between our num- 
bers and their accommodations, and said they would do 
their best for us. The horses were cared for, and active 
preparations made for supper. One party filed in to the 
supper table as another left it. In due time we all ate and 
were filled; then, gathering around the huge fireplace in the 
other room, our venerable friend Dr. Akers, occupying the 
seat of Gamaliel, expounded such knotty points in divinity 
as were proposed by the juniors. It was a picturesque scene 
as the ruddy glare of the pine knots, shining from the chim- 
ney corner, lit up the eager, generous faces of a score of 
devoted itinerants, to whom hardship and privations were 
known as nothing and unrewarded toil a pleasure. It would 
have done your heart good, in the pauses of graver dis- 
course, to listen to their good stories, followed by the peals 
of hearty laughter; then as bedtime drew near, and the 
lesson had been read, to hear their full voices join in the 
evening hymn, followed by fervent responses to the prayer 
which commended them and all they loved to the care of 
Him who never slumbers. There was one bedstead in the 
room, for my wife and myself, she being the only woman 
of the party; while shuck-mattresses and buffalo skins were 
laid upon the floor for the men, some of the juniors repair- 
ing to the haymow, no unusual chamber for a circuit rider. 
These arrangements completed, the room was vacated to 
afford my wife an opportunity of undressing. The pine- 
knots were then extinguished, and every man found his 
couch as best he might in the dark. Our next halting place 
was to be on the other side of Grand Prairie. We were up 
at three o'clock, and not a bit too soon, for my wife was 
hardly out of bed before a heavy shower poured through 
the roof upon the very spot where we had lain. 

Our hospitable entertainers furnished an ample break- 
fast and abundant provision for our lunch, but refused to 
receive a picayune, saying they would expect their house 
to be struck by lightning if they took pay for feeding Metho- 

215 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

dist preachers and their horses. A hard day's drive without 
seeing a habitation or the least sign except the road to tell 
that man had ever been on this boundless prairie, brought 
us by nightfall to a stopping place much like the last. Next 
morning about ten o'clock we drew up for breakfast before 
a house which I had been accustomed to visit when travel- 
ing the district with the presiding elder. The old people 
were from home but a rosy-cheeked, bouncing damsel, 
calling her brothers to her aid soon prepared a bountiful 
repast. That breakfast lives in our recollection until this 
day, for the house in which it was prepared, the vessels in 
which it was cooked, the table on which it was served, and 
the bright-eyed, cherry-lipped damsel were all clean, and 
cleanliness at that day was something for a traveler in the 
West to take note of and be thankful for. 



216 



APPENDIX 

A Guide to the Chief Points of Historical Interest 
Within a Day's Journey of Chicago 

I. POINTS IN WISCONSIN 

I. Green Bay and Vicinity: 

Around Green Bay, lying at the northern end of the his- 
toric Fox-Wisconsin waterway between the Great Lakes 
and the Mississippi, clusters much of historic interest. As 
early as 167 1 the mission of St. Francis Xavier was estab- 
lished by the Jesuits at Depere and here Jolliet and Mar- 
quette paused in 1673, outward bound on their famous 
voyage of discovery. Here, too, Marquette remained during 
the interval between the return from the first voyage and 
his second visit to Illinois in the winter of 1674-75. The 
French fort of La Baye was established at Green Bay in 
1717, and this was an important center of French activities 
during the next three decades in numerous campaigns against 
the Foxes. In 176 1 the British garrisoned La Baye, changing 
the name to Fort Edward Augustus. Their stay was of 
short duration, the garrison being withdrawn in Pontiac's 
War and never restored. In 18 16 the important American 
post of Fort Howard took the place of its French and Eng- 
lish predecessors, and here, in the following years, were sta- 
tioned many men who are famous in our military annals. 
Aside from its military history, Green Bay was for genera- 
tions an important center of the fur trade, and in the early 
American period it gave Wisconsin many of her most noted 
men. Among present-day points of interest may be noted 
the important historical collections in the Kellogg Public 
Library; the boulder placed by the Chicago and Northwestern 
Railway to mark the site of the British, French, and Ameri- 

217 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

can forts; a tablet on the Beaumont Hotel marks the battle 
in which Coulon de Villiers and other French officers were 
slain in September, 1733. In South Park is the Tank cot- 
tage, the oldest building in Wisconsin, now used as a branch 
of the city library. A tablet on the Wisconsin Public Service 
building marks the site of the homes of Augustin de Lang- 
lade and his son Charles, the latter a famous leader of Wis- 
consin Indians in the numerous wars of the eighteenth 
century. 

The most interesting point in the immediate vicinity of 
Green Bay is Red Banks, some eight or ten miles to the 
northeast. Now a pleasant summer resort. Red Banks was 
in ancient times the site of a Winnebago Indian village, 
about which cluster many interesting myths and traditions. 
At this village Jean Nicolet, the discoverer of Wisconsin, 
is supposed to have held a council with the red men, and a 
bronze marker has been placed to commemorate this event. 
Thus, if the historical record be correct. Red Banks is the 
oldest point known to the white man west of the Allegheny 
Mountains, its story antedating by half a century the found- 
ing of Philadelphia. 

Little Rapids, a few miles above Green Bay, is noted as 
the home of the Rev. Eleazer Williams, the famous **Lost 
Dauphin" of France. In reality a descendant of the New 
England captive, Eunice Williams, who was carried cap- 
tive to Canada from the Deerfield massacre of 1704, and her 
Indian husband, Williams, who was a man of great shrewd- 
ness, put himself forward as the ill-fated son of Louis XVI 
and Marie Antoinette, who was done to death by the French 
Revolutionists. His claim attracted nation-wide attention 
and gave rise to a vast amount of discussion. Books have 
been written on the subject, and there are still those who 
believe that Williams was in fact the lost Dauphin. 

Williams undertook, about a century ago, to establish 
an Indian state in Wisconsin and was largely instrumental 
in bringing to the Fox River Valley several hundred natives 

218 



I 



POINTS IN WISCONSIN 

belonging to the Iroquois and other eastern tribes. Prom- 
inent among these were the Oneida and the Stockbridges. 
The Stockbridges located along the east shore of Lake Win- 
nebago in Calumet County, but later removed to a reserva- 
tion in Shawano County, where they still reside. At their 
former home near the town of Stockbridge is an Indian 
cemetery of 150 graves, among them the grave of Austin 
Quinney, chief of the tribe. In the Indian cemetery at Oneida, 
a few miles west of Green Bay, is the grave of Nancy Sken- 
andore, the first Indian trained nurse in America. A tab- 
let to her memory is in the entry of Hobart Church, nearby. 

2. Manitowoc and Vicinity: 

An ancient Indian village occupied the site of Manito- 
woc Rapids, and here in 1909 was erected a monument in 
memory of Waumegesago, its chief in the early nineteenth 
century. He was an important Chippewa chieftain, who 
signed several treaties with the United States Government. 
At the Chicago treaty of 1833 a tragic duel to the death 
was fought with knives by two young Indians who were 
suitors for the hand of Waumegesago's daughter. At his 
village in August, 1821, Dr. William S. Madison, surgeon 
of the garrison at Fort Howard, was murdered by a Chip- 
pewa; the murderer was carried to Detroit (then the capital 
of what is now Wisconsin) and there convicted and hanged 
for the crime. 

At St. Nanzianz, several miles southwest of Manitowoc, is 
a quaint, old-world community, which was first established 
in 1854 as a communistic colony by a band of religious 
zealots from Germany. The colony prospered, but for vari- 
ous reasons its membership gradually diminished until in 
1 891 the property then remaining was taken over by the 
society of the Divine Saviour, which now administers it. 
The first church was built of logs, which for lack of beasts 
of burden were brought together on the backs of men. The 
curiously winding streets of the town are accounted for 

219 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

by a charming legend, redolent of the trustful religious 
faith of the founders. It is too long to narrate here, but the 
visitor to the place should not neglect to ask about it. 

3. Lake Winnebago and Vicinity: 

This region was the historic seat of the Winnebago nation, 
whose name is preserved in that of the lake. On Doty's 
Island at Menasha stood the village ruled by the queen, 
Glory of the Morning, whom Jonathan Carver visited in 
1766. The romantic yet tragic story of Glory of the Morn- 
ing has been woven into a charming play by Professor 
William Ellery Leonard. Two generations after her time 
Chief Four Legs ruled the village. His death and burial 
at Portage in 1830 is interestingly narrated by Mrs. Kinzie 
in her book, Wau Bun. The island takes its present name 
from Governor James D. Doty, one of Wisconsin's greatest 
men, who in an early day made it his home. The long, low 
house he erected still stands, although its builder sleeps at 
distant Salt Lake City, where he died while serving as governor 
of Utah, to which position he had been appointed by Presi- 
dent Lincoln. By local antiquarians it has been supposed 
that the Indian village at Menasha rather than the one at 
Red Banks, was the scene of Jean Nicolet's visit and council 
in 1634. Although the evidence for this seems questionable, 
a monument has been erected here in memory of the event. 

At Little Chute, half a dozen miles northeast of Menasha, 
is the site of the Indian mission conducted in an early day 
by Father Van Den Broek. In 1847, the Indians having 
migrated from the vicinity. Father Van Den Broek went to 
Holland and there persuaded a large number of his former 
countrymen to migrate to America and settle at Little 
Chute. It is today a thriving community of perhaps 1,500 
souls, all descendants of the original Dutch colonists — a bit 
of Old Holland transferred to the banks of Fox River in 
Wisconsin. The most interesting point in the village is 
the church with its towering spire, within whose walls repose 
the bones of the founder of the community. 



POINTS OF CHIEF HISTORICAL INTEREST ADJACENT TO CHICAGO 
The figures correspond to the accomp anying figures in the descriptive text of the appendix 




POINTS IN WISCONSIN 

Oshkosh, famous in a former day as a lumbering center, 
preserves the name of a noted Menominee chief of a cen- 
tury ago. He figured as defendant in the first criminal trial 
in Wisconsin, and on the walls of the Supreme Court chamber 
at Madison hangs a magnificent painting depicting the 
trial. In Menominee Park is a colossal statue of Chief 
Oshkosh by the Italian sculptor, Trenatavo. The soldiers* 
monument in Monument Square is by the same artist. 
Other statues worthy of mention are one of Washington, 
a replica of the famous statue by Houdon in the Virginia 
State Capital at Richmond, and one of Carl Schurz, by Karl 
Bitter. In the city library may be seen busts of many famous 
characters, ancient and modern. 

At Butte des Morts (French for Hill of the Dead), occurred 
in September, 1733, according to local historians, a battle 
between the French and their Indian allies on the one side, 
and the allied Sauk and Foxes on the other. The place where 
the latter made their final stand is still known as Little 
Butte des Morts. An early tradition, telling of a bloody 
encounter between French traders and the natives, gives a 
somewhat different explanation of the origin of the gory 
name of the town. 

4. RiPON: 

Here in the early forties of the nineteenth century enthu^ 
siastic followers of the French philosopher, Fourier, estab- 
lished the communistic colony of Ceresco. It attracted 
widespread attention, and flourished for a number of years, 
but with the increasing settlement of Wisconsin the colon- 
ists tired of their enterprise and about the year 1850 the 
colony was dissolved by mutual consent and the property 
distributed among the members. The picturesque Long House 
of the colony still stands on the outskirts of Ripon, and the 
Community cemetery may be seen a mile or so away. 

Another historical monument of Ripon, of nation-wide 
interest and importance, is the old schoolhouse in which 



ri 



POINTS IN WISCONSIN 

Oshkosh, famous in a former day as a lumbering center, 
preserves the name of a noted Menominee chief of a cen- 
tury ago. He figured as defendant in the first criminal trial 
in Wisconsin, and on the walls of the Supreme Court chamber 
at Madison hangs a magnificent painting depicting the 
trial. In Menominee Park is a colossal statue of Chief 
Oshkosh by the Italian sculptor, Trenatavo. The soldiers' 
monument in Monument Square is by the same artist. 
Other statues worthy of mention are one of Washington, 
a replica of the famous statue by Houdon in the Virginia 
State Capital at Richmond, and one of Carl Schurz, by Karl 
Bitter. In the city library may be seen busts of many famous 
characters, ancient and modern. 

At Butte des Morts (French for Hill of the Dead), occurred 
in September, 1733, according to local historians, a battle 
between the French and their Indian allies on the one side, 
and the allied Sauk and Foxes on the other. The place where 
the latter made their final stand is still known as Little 
Butte des Morts. An early tradition, telling of a bloody 
encounter between French traders and the natives, gives a 
somewhat different explanation of the origin of the gory 
name of the town. 

4. Ripon: 

Here in the early forties of the nineteenth century enthu- 
siastic followers of the French philosopher, Fourier, estab- 
lished the communistic colony of Ceresco. It attracted 
widespread attention, and flourished for a number of years, 
but with the increasing settlement of Wisconsin the colon- 
ists tired of their enterprise and about the year 1850 the 
colony was dissolved by mutual consent and the property 
distributed among the members. The picturesque Long House 
of the colony still stands on the outskirts of Ripon, and the 
Community cemetery may be seen a mile or so ?way. 

Another historical monument of Ripon, of nation-wide 
interest and importance, is the old schoolhouse in which 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

was held the meeting which gave birth to the Republican 
Party, in 1854. It stands on the campus of Ripon College. 

5. Waukesha and Vicinity: 

Waukesha County is famous for its pure-bred dairy cattle, 
and is said to be the greatest dairying county in the United 
States. It is noted also for its fine roads, its rolling scenery, 
and its many beautiful lakes. The city of Waukesha occu- 
pies the site of a former Indian village, and Indian burial 
mounds and corn-hills may still be seen on the campus of 
Carroll College. In slavery days, Waukesha was a prom- 
inent center of AboUtionist influence; in the large stone 
building which stands on Broadway near the Five Points 
the American Freeman, a noted Abolition paper of the forties, 
was published. The large wooden mill opposite and below 
the bridge, was erected in 1839 and is still in use. The Chi- 
cago, Milwaukee and St. Paul freight depot across the river 
was erected in 1851 and here, on Feb. 5, 1852, the first rail- 
road in Wisconsin was formally opened. It then ran from 
Milwaukee to Waukesha; its western terminus has since 
then been advanced to the shores of Puget Sound. In the 
latter years of the nineteenth century Waukesha was a 
noted health and pleasure resort, to which visitors came from 
all over the country and even from Europe. This glory has 
departed, but the wonderful mineral springs which gave it 
birth still make Wisconsin the first state in the Union in 
value of mineral waters produced. 

Wisconsin State Highway No. 59, leading west from Mil- 
waukee, through Waukesha follows the line of the Terri- 
torial stage road to Galena and the lead mines. Four miles 
southwest of Waukesha, on section 26, is a stone mill which 
dates from 1848; flour from this mill took the first premium 
at the Crystal Palace World's Exposition, held in New 
York City in 1855. 

At Delafield is St. John's Military Academy, bordering 
the shores of beautiful Lake Nagawicka, one of the foremost 



POINTS IN WISCONSIN 

schools of its type in the country. Here also may be seen 
two pioneer taverns, built in the forties to accommodate the 
traffic between Milwaukee and the lead mines of southwest 
Wisconsin. Other interesting pioneer taverns are the Martin 
Tavern, in section 13, Vernon Township, and the Jesse Smith 
stone tavern in section 23y both now used as farmhouses. 

A mile west of Delafield is a tall obelisk erected in mem- 
ory of the three Gushing brothers, all of whom won renown 
in the Civil War. Perhaps the most notable single exploit 
of the brothers was the sinking of the Confederate ram, 
Albemarle, by William Cushing in 1862, which elicited a 
special letter of commendation from President Lincoln. 
The Cushing monument was erected by the State of Wis- 
consin, and the plot of ground in which it stands is owned 
and cared for by the state. 

Two miles south of Delafield is a bold promontory, the 
highest in the county, which has been named Lapham Peak 
in honor of the famous scientist who is best known, perhaps, 
as the father of the United States Weather Bureau. His 
home was in Milwaukee, and in later years at Oconomowoc. 
A bronze tablet, suitably inscribed in memory of Lapham, 
occupies the crest of the Peak. From here, on a clear day, 
a magnificent view of the countryside for thirty miles around 
may be had. 

Several miles north of Delafield in southern Washington 
County is Holy Hill, the highest peak in the southeastern 
part of Wisconsin. It occupies section 14, Erin Township. 
According to local legend. Father Marquette in 1673 return- 
ing from the famous voyage of discovery of the Mississippi, 
ascended this hill to pray, and in the name of the Virgin 
Mary dedicated it as holy ground for all time. Whatever 
truth there may be in the legend, the hill has become a noted 
Catholic shrine to which thousands of penitents annually 
resort to make their way on foot — oftentimes on hands 
and knees — to the little church at the crest of the hill, there 
to pray for remission of sins or for healing of their diseases. 

223 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

Mukwonego, in southern Waukesha County, occupies 
the ancient site of the most important Indian town of this 
section; to it ran an important Indian trail from Chicago. 
The name means bear den, or "place of bears." The mod- 
ern village was settled in 1836 by immigrants from Vermont 
and New York, whose sturdy individuality won for the town 
the appellation "kingdom of Mukwonego." 

A short distance south of Mukwonego, in northeastern 
Walworth County, is Potter's Lake. John F. Potter, whose 
home for many years was on the shore of the lake, won 
national renown as a member of Congress in the stormy 
period of the fifties. Northern men, who did not believe in 
dueling, were often browbeaten by southern "fire eaters." 
Potter, although a thorough-going northerner, when chal- 
lenged to a duel by Roger Pryor of Virginia, promptly 
accepted and grimly prescribed bowie knives as the weapons 
for the contest. This was too much for the Virginian and 
his duelling friends, who found a pretext for evading the 
fight on such terms. The incident deluged Pryor in a gale 
of ridicule, while it made a hero of Potter in the eyes of 
northern men, and he was ever after known as "Bowie- 
knife" Potter. In later years his beautiful home was the 
scene of the annual gatherings of the Phantom Club, a not- 
able group of Milwaukeans of literary tastes. 

A few miles east of Potter's Lake, in northern Racine 
County, is Wind Lake. Near its shore, in Norway Town- 
ship, was printed in 1847 ^^ the home of Evan Heg, the 
first Norwegian newspaper published in America. The 
Heg cabin has long since disappeared; the frame house 
which now stands on its site was built by Colonel Hans Heg, 
the leader of the noted Scandinavian (Fifteenth Wisconsin) 
Regiment in the Civil War. A monument in his honor is 
shortly to be erected in Madison by the Norwegians of the 
Northwest. 

6. Milwaukee: 

Milwaukee is one of the leading manufacturing and indus- 

224 



I 
I 



POINTS IN WISCONSIN 

trial centers of the country; it is equally noted for its musi- 
cal and artistic interests. A network of splendid concrete 
highways, radiating outward from the city in all directions, 
affords easy access to the beautiful resort country which 
adjoins Milwaukee. The great Municipal Museum is one 
of the foremost institutions of its kind in the country. Here 
may be seen wonderful collections of specimens illustrating 
the life and the progress of mankind. In Mitchell Park a 
log cabin marks the site of Jacques Vieau's fur trade post 
of 1795. A tablet on the Pabst Building, at the east end of 
Grand Avenue bridge, marks the site of Antoine Le Clair's 
fur trade post of 1800, which was followed by the log cabin 
and trading post of Solomon Juneau in 18 18. Juneau is 
popularly regarded as the "father" of Milwaukee, and a 
monument to his memory stands in Juneau Park. In Lap- 
ham Park is a monument in honor of Increase A. Lapham, 
the scientist and father of the weather bureau (See remarks 
on Lapham Peak above), who lived in Milwaukee most of 
his life. 

7. Lake Geneva and Vicinity: 

With its bold shore line and crystal clear water. Lake 
Geneva is commonly conceded to be the most beautiful 
lake in the Northwest. Its shores are bordered for miles 
with magnificent homes and estates, many of which would 
put to shame a king's palace. The village of Fontana at 
the western end of the lake was occupied a century ago by 
the Potawatomi village of Chief Big Foot, well described 
by Mrs. Kinzie, the author of JVau Bun, who visited it in 
1 83 1. At Williams Bay on the north side of the lake and 
near its western end, stands the great Yerkes Astronomical 
Observatory, the property of the University of Chicago. 

A few miles to the northeast of the town of Lake Geneva 
is Burlington in western Racine County. Just west of the 
town, where the Elkhorn road crosses White River, is the 
site of the Mormon city of Voree, founded by James J. 

225 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

Strang in 1844. Strang claimed to be the divinely-appointed 
successor of Joseph Smith as head of the Mormon church, 
and for twelve years, first at Voree and later at Big Beaver 
Island in Lake Michigan, he maintained a vigorous opposi- 
tion to the Utah faction of the Saints led by Brigham Young. 
On Beaver Island he established in July, 1850, the King- 
dom of God on Earth and for six years maintained his sway 
over several thousand followers until assassinated by two 
who had become disgruntled over certain of his measures. 
The stone house on the north side of the road immediately 
west of the bridge over White River was the home of Strang's 
parents, and to it the Prophet was brought back to die in 
July, 1856. A few rods south of the road near the river bank 
may be seen the remains of the abandoned quarry from 
which the builders of Voree procured the stone for their 
homes, and here were performed the baptisms for the dead. 
Somewhat farther south, on the wooded hillside, were dug 
from beneath an oak tree the golden plates containing the 
divine record of Strang's appointment, whose location he 
claimed was revealed to him by an angel. Across the river 
was begun the building of the temple which Strang's follow- 
ers believed would be the greatest building in the world. 
There are still a few score scattered devotees of the Prophet, 
whose mortal remains rest in an unmarked grave in the Bur- 
lington City Cemetery. 

Four or five miles northeast of Burlington on section 13, 
Rochester Township, stands one of the oldest and most 
interesting churches in Wisconsin. It was erected in 1848 
with money contributed largely in England by relatives 
and friends of the immigrants whose location in this part 
of Racine County gave to the neighborhood the name of 
"English Settlement." The church was organized on the 
joint stock principle, any contributor of five dollars or more 
being entitled to one vote. This unusual plan is still in 
force, many of the present day stockholders being descend- 
ants of the original settlers of three generations ago. 

226 



POINTS IN WISCONSIN 

8. Beloit and Vicinity: 

Beloit was founded in the late thirties by a group of New 
England immigrants, prominent among whom was the 
father of Horace White, famous as an authority on finance 
and as editor of the New York Tribune. In recent years 
an impressive memorial has been erected at Beloit in honor 
of Horace White, whose boyhood and youth were spent 
here. On the campus of Beloit College may be seen a group 
of Indian burial and effigy mounds, visible reminders of the 
time when a Winnebago village occupied the site of the 
modern city. This village was the farthest point attained 
by General Scott's army of U. S. regulars which in 1832 
was sent from the Atlantic seaboard to assist in the over- 
throw of Black Hawk's band. At Beloit in the seventies 
one of America's most useful inventions, the self-knotter 
for twine binders was perfected by John F. Appleby. He 
first conceived the idea of the self-knotter while a mere 
youth on his father's farm near Mazomanie, twenty years 
before. 

In the village of Johnstown, several miles northwest of 
Beloit, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, the popular poet, was born, 
in November, 1851. Living in the village at the time, and 
close friends of the Wheeler family, were Mr. and Mrs. 
A. B. Braley, parents of Berton Braley, the poet. 

9. Fort Atkinson and Vicinity: 

Fort Atkinson is named for General Atkinson of the 
U. S. Army who commanded the regulars in the Black 
Hawk War. A fort (named for him) was then built on the 
site of the modern city, and a monument suitably inscribed, 
now occupies the spot. One of the regular army officers 
in Atkinson's army at this point was Jefferson Davis, while 
a tall private in the Illinois militia bore the name of Abra- 
ham Lincoln. In the outskirts of town may be seen an 
intaglio panther effigy mound, the only intaglio mound in 
Wisconsin and one of but a handful in all North America. 

227 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

A few miles west of Fort Atkinson, on the northwest 
shore of Lake Koshkonong, is Carcajou Point, the site a 
century ago of the Winnebago village ruled over by Chief 
White Crow. A huge granite boulder on the shore of the 
lake has been inscribed to mark the spot. From here vast 
quantities of archeological remains have been unearthed 
and taken to the State Historical Museum at Madison. 
It was White Crow who in 1832 rescued the two Hall sis- 
ters, who had been taken captive at the terrible Indian Creek 
massacre in La Salle County, Illinois. Lake Koshkonong 
is famous for its aquatic life, and for several decades a hunt- 
ing club has been maintained at Carcajou Point to which 
ex-Governor Peck, author of Peck's Bad Boy^ ex-Governor 
Phillip, and other notable Wisconsin men have belonged. 

Several miles north of Fort Atkinson and two miles east 
of Lake Mills is the site of ancient Aztalan. Here are some 
of the most remarkable Indian earth-works in the Mississippi 
Valley. In recent years the tract of land which contains 
them has been made a public park. 

10. Madison and Vicinity: 

Seated on a narrow peninsula separating Lakes Mendota 
and Monona, Madison was created in the wilderness by legis- 
lative fiat to be the capital of Wisconsin. Before this the 
Four-Lake region to which Madison belongs had been from 
time immemorial the heart of the Winnebago domain, and 
the city and environs still retain numerous evidences of 
their occupancy in the form of burial and effigy mounds. 
Many of these have been marked with bronze tablets for 
permanent preservation; among such may be noted the 
mounds in Vilas Park, on West Washington Oval, Edgewood 
Drive, University Hill, Mendota Hospital Grounds, and 
Edgewood Academy Drive. Over Capital and University 
hills in July, 1832 fled the despairing followers of Black 
Hawk so hotly pursued by the white troops that red men 
were shot and scalped within the present city limits. A bronze 

228 



POINTS IN WISCONSIN 



marker on University Hill calls attention to this historic 
campaign. From here to the Wisconsin River near Rox- 
bury where the red men were forced to fight the battle of 
Wisconsin Heights, State Highway No. 12 marks the approx- 
imate route of both armies. 

The natural scenery of Madison is widely noted, and as 
the capital of the state from territorial days the city is asso- 
ciated with many stirring events and interesting figures. 
Camp Randall (now the University athletic ground) was 
the principal recruiting station for Wisconsin's 90,000 Boys 
in Blue and here Old Abe, America's most famous military 
mascot, began his notable career. On the University campus 
may be seen the modest home of the first dairy school in 
America; near by is a fine statue of Governor Hoard, who 
was largely instrumental in revolutionizing the dairying 
industry of the country. In front of Bascom Hall is a statue 
of Lincoln, the only existing replica of the one by Adolph 
Weinman which stands on the farm where Lincoln was 
born. The State Historical Library contains many precious 
manuscripts, and the entire fourth floor is given over to one 
of the Nation's finest historical museums. The state Capitol 
contains many interesting historical paintings, and houses, 
also, a great Civil War historical museum. The executive 
mansion at 130 East Oilman Street has housed the Gov- 
ernors of Wisconsin since 1883. Prior to this date it was 
for many years the home of Ole Bull, the famous violinist, 
and here, Sept. 6, 1870 Bull married Sarah Thorpe, the 
bride being twenty years of age and the bridegroom sixty. 
Among other interesting residences mention may be made 
of the home of Senator La Follette adjoining the Maple 
Bluff Golf Grounds, that of Colonel Wm. F. Vilas (U. S. 
Senator, and Postmaster General and Secretary of the Inte- 
rior under Cleveland) at the northeast corner of East Gil- 
man Street and Wisconsin Avenue; that of Paul Reinsch, 
United States minister to China immediately across the 
street; and the home of General Lucius Fairchild (also gov- 
ernor and U. S. minister to Spain) at 302 Monona Avenue. 



229 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

About twenty miles west of Madison is Blue Mound. 
It is the highest hill in southern Wisconsin, and anywhere 
east of the Hudson would be called a mountain. From 
its rocky summit a magnificent landscape unrolls to the 
eye of the observer. Ebenezer Brigham, the first settler of 
Dane County, located near the slope of Blue Mound in 
1829. Three years later, during the Black Hawk War, his 
house was turned into a fort on which the Indians made one 
attack. The house (or fort) has vanished, but a tablet, 
erected by the State Historical Society, marks the site it 
formerly occupied. 

About four miles southwest of Mount Vernon, in section 
18, Primrose Township, is the birthplace of Senator La Fol- 
lette. The house in which he was born is gone; it stood imme- 
diately adjoining the present country school-house. A short 
distance away is the old school building in which the Senator 
obtained his earlier education, now utilized as a henhouse. 

Nine miles north and one mile west of Madison, in Sec- 
tion 2, Westfield Township, stands the house where Ella 
Wheeler Wilcox, the poet, lived from babyhood (her parents 
removed here from Johnstown when she was still a baby). 
A mile east of the house is the school-house (now named in 
her honor) where she gained her education, "aside from one 
term wasted at Wisconsin University." 

A short distance beyond Roxbury is the battle-ground of 
Wisconsin Heights fought between Black Hawk's followers 
and the white army in July, 1832. The red men were seek- 
ing to escape across the Wisconsin River, but were over- 
taken shortly before sunset. Encumbereci with their squaws 
and children, the warriors, footsore and famishing, found 
themselves shut in between the broad river and the over- 
whelming army of white men. In this dilemma. Black Hawk 
threw out a detachment of warriors who fought oflP the 
whites until the squaws and remaining warriors had crossed 
to an island. The survivors of the rear-guard then made 
their way across. Jefferson Davis, later president of the 

230 



POINTS IN WISCONSIN 

southern Confederacy, was a participant in this battle, and 
in after life he expressed unbounded admiration for the gen- 
eralship displayed by Black Hawk, characterizing the action 
as one of the most brilliant in military annals. The battle- 
ground is about a mile south of the end of the Sauk City 
bridge, on the road leading to Mazomanie, a few rods to the 
left of the point where the highway crosses a little brook. 

II. Portage and Vicinity: 

Within the present city limits the historic portage was 
made, in the days of travel by Indian canoe and fur-trade 
bateau, from the Fox to the Wisconsin River. Here Jolliet 
and Marquette passed on their way to the discovery of the 
Mississippi in the spring of 1673, ^"^ ^ monument has been 
erected to commemorate this first visit by white men to 
the spot. For a century and a half the Fox-Wisconsin water- 
way was a famous highway of trade and travel between the 
Great Lakes and the Mississippi, and over it passed many 
of the explorers who achieved fame in this period. Over it, 
too, passed time and again Indian war parties and British 
and American armies. At length In 1828 the government 
established Fort Winnebago, overlooking the winding Fox, 
to curb the warlike tribe after which it is named. 

The huge well sunk by the garrison in the center of the 
stockade enclosure is still in daily use, and nearby is the mili- 
tary cemetery, maintained by the United States Govern- 
ment. Across the valley from the fort stands the Agency 
House, erected by the government in 1831 for the use of the 
U. S. Indian Agent. The agent at this time was John H. 
KInzie, and Mrs. KInzIe, in her book Wau Bun, presents a 
vivid picture of the life of the time around the old fort. 
The Agency House is probably the oldest structure in Wis- 
consin that is still used as a dwelling. Stationed at the 
fort during the years of its occupancy were many men and 
women who are famous in American history; among them, 
Generals Worth, Sumner, Harney, Marcy, and Confederate 
Generals Twiggs, and Albert Sydney Johnson, and Jeffer- 

231 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

son Davis, president of the Confederacy. Portage is the 
home of Zona Gale, one of the ablest of living American 
writers, and many of her stories depict the life and society 
of this typical middle-western town. 

About ten miles north of Portage, on the road to Monti- 
cello, is a tiny lake now known as Ennis Lake. On its north 
bank formerly stood the home of John Muir's parents, so 
well described by the famous author and naturalist in his 
book ''My Boyhood and Youths (In the book the lake is 
called "Fountain Lake"). The Muirs later removed to the 
southeast part of Section 29, Buffalo Township, nine miles 
due south of the village of Monticello. Here Muir passed 
the later years of his boyhood, and here he contrived the 
many amazing inventions which he relates in his book. The 
second Muir home still stands, somewhat back from the 
highway; of the first home, nothing but the site remains. 

12. Baraboo and Vicinity: 

Around Baraboo and Sauk County centers much both of 
scenic and historic interest. Baraboo itself was long noted as 
the home of the Ringling Brothers, since P. T. Barnum's 
death the world's greatest showmen. In 191 8, however, the 
circus winter quarters were removed to Connecticut. It was 
a Baraboo editor, A. N. Kellogg, who early in the Civil War, 
puzzling over the problem of scarcity of labor as it affected 
country editors, developed the idea of "patent insides." The 
practice soon became universal, and the country editor became 
a millionaire. The Winnebago chieftain. Yellow Thunder, and 
his squaw are buried near the roadside five miles north of 
town, and a monument of stone, with a suitable marker, has 
been erected in their memory. 

Three miles south of Baraboo is Devil's Lake State Park. 
Its scenic and geologic wonders are widely celebrated and 
thousands of tourists, besides numerous parties of geological 
students from many universities and colleges camp here each 
season. 

232 



POINTS IN WISCONSIN 

The lake itself is small, being a declivity scooped out 
between the Baraboo bluffs, through which a river ran in 
former ages, whose course was later dammed by glacial 
deposits. The rocky bluffs which hem in the lake rise to a 
height of 500 feet on one side and over 600 on the other. The 
place is a veritable geological laboratory, its rock formation 
being older, it is supposed, than the Himalaya or the Rocky 
Mountains. 

At Kilbourn, in northern Sauk County, are the famous 
dells of the Wisconsin. According to Indian legend the bed 
of the Wisconsin River was formed by a manitou who took 
the shape of a serpent. He crawled over the land, leaving the 
river bed behind him until he came to the body of rock near 
Kilbourn. Finding a crack he inserted his head and forced 
his way through, producing in his struggles the strange rock 
formations which may still be seen here. The Wisconsin was 
a famous logging stream, and the dells afforded one of the 
most exciting experiences the pioneer raftsmen had to undergo. 
In Kilbourn cemetery is the grave of Belle Boyd, noted spy 
of the Confederacy, who was twice condemned to death by 
the military authorities of the Union, and twice saved 
by the clemency of President Lincoln. 

Some miles to the south of Baraboo, in the southeastern 
part of Sauk County, are the twin villages of Prairie du Sac 
and Sauk City. They occupy the site of the ancient Sauk 
village visited and described by Jonathan Carver in 1766. 
It then contained ninety houses built of plank, each capable 
of holding several families and was described by Carver as 
"the largest and best built Indian village" he had ever seen. 
Back of the modern towns stretches Sauk Prairie, one of the 
most attractive farming regions to be found in the North- 
west. Across the river from Sauk City and a mile down stream 
is the battlefield of Wisconsin Heights which has already 
been described. A mile up river from Prairie du Sac is the 
great Merrimac power dam, with a capacity of 39,000 horse 
power. 

^33 



chicago's highways — old and new 

13. La Crosse and Vicinity: 

La Crosse stands on a prairie adjoining the Mississippi 
where in ancient days the red men were wont to assemble from 
far and near to play their favorite ball game, known to the 
whites as "La Crosse." From this circumstance the prairie 
became known to the early voyageurs as "Prairie La Crosse," 
and the modern city still preserves the name. Near the south 
end of the prairie, a short distance from the city is Mormon 
Coulee. Here Lyman Wight, one of Joseph Smith's twelve 
apostles, established a Mormon colony, an offshoot of the 
parent establishment at Nauvoo. The usual discord between 
the Saints and their Gentile neighbors ensued, and one night 
the Mormons fired their dwellings and departed down river. 
Wight later led a band of zealots to Texas, then a wild region, 
where he endeavored to build a new holy city. 

West Salem, a few miles northeast of La Crosse, is noted as 
the home for many years of Hamlin Garland, one of the fore- 
most living American writers. His autobiographic books, A 
Son of the Middle Border ^ and A Daughter of the Middle Border, 
largely devoted to describing the author's life at West Salem, 
seem likely to be numbered among the permanent classics of 
American literature. 

Several miles up the river above La Crosse is the village of 
Trempealeau and Perrot State Park. Here Trempealeau 
Mountain, the central point in a rough and picturesque 
region, rises from the water's edge. At its foot Nicolas Perrot, 
famous French explorer and fur-trader in the days of Count 
Frontenac and Louis XIV, established his post in 1686, while 
nearby stood from 1731-36 the armed post of Linctot. The 
mountain is detached from the adjoining bluffs, and its 
name, "Trempealeau," is an abridgement of the descriptive 
phrase originally applied to it by the early French explorers, 
which meant "the mountain which laves its feet in the 
water." The park is named in honor of Perrot, the first 
governor of the Northwest, and one of the most notable men 
of New France, who wintered here in 1686-87. 

234 



points in wisconsin 

14. Victory: 

This village, near the mouth of Bad Axe River, com- 
memorates the battle of the Bad Axe, August 2, 1832. This 
closing fight of the Black Hawk War was more like a massacre 
than a battle. The natives, outnumbered and starving, 
desired only to escape their pursuers, but an armed steamboat 
in the river prevented them from crossing the Mississippi, 
and about three hundred, including many women and children, 
were either shot in the fight or drowned in the river. A 
comparatively small number gained the Minnesota shore, 
but a band of Sioux fell on these and slaughtered half of them. 
Black Hawk himself, after witnessing from a neighboring 
bluflF the slaughter of his followers, fled to the dells of the 
Wisconsin where he was seized by the Winnebago and 
taken to Prairie du Chien for surrender to the whites. 

15. Prairie Du Chien: 

In the period when travel was chiefly by water this was 
perhaps the most important center of trade and traflic of the 
upper Mississippi Valley. From time immemorial it was a 
center of Indian traffic and from a very early period an im- 
portant seat of the fur-trade. Prairie du Chien figured in the 
Revolutionary War and the War of 18 12, and at various 
times was the scene of sanguinary conflicts between the 
warring Sioux on the one side and the allied Sauk and Foxes 
on the other. The British captured the American fort in 
1 8 14, and held it until peace was declared a year later. In 
1 8 16 Fort Crawford was erected by the U. S. Government, 
and garrisoned until after the Mexican War. For many 
years Colonel Zachary Taylor, later President of the United 
States, was in command of Fort Crawford, and the house he 
occupied may still be seen. Here Lieutenant JeflFerson Davis 
wooed and won Colonel Taylor's daughter, much to the 
stern warrior's disgust. Fort Crawford was the scene of 
important Indian treaties in 1825 and 1829. A fragment only 
of the old fort still stands, but the quaint military cemetery, 

135 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

maintained by the United States government, is still to be 
seen. The natural scenery along the Mississippi at this point 
is superb, and to commemorate both the scenic and the 
historical associations the state of Wisconsin has established 
Nelson Dewey State Park of several thousand acres. A 
monument to Marquette at Prairie du Chien commemorates 
the discovery of the Mississippi River in 1673. Another 
object of interest is the old American Fur Company trading 
post. 

16. Mineral Point and Vicinity: 

Mineral Point in an early day was the most important point 
in the lead mines north of Galena, and much more important 
than Milwaukee. The mining country was then the most 
populous portion of Wisconsin, and many men of ability and 
local note resided here. In 1832 Fort Jackson was built here, 
an important military storehouse during the Black Hawk 
War. Near Dodgeville, a few miles north of Mineral Point, 
was the home of Henry Dodge, noted as an Indian fighter. 
He was the first and last governor of Wisconsin Territory, and 
one of the first U. S. Senators from Wisconsin. Dodge's 
home near Dodgeville was turned into a temporary fort 
during the war, known in history as Fort Union. The Governor 
brought numerous slaves to Wisconsin when he removed 
here from Missouri. He later gave them their freedom and a 
tract of land each; many of their descendants still live in 
southwestern Wisconsin. 

A few miles southwest of Mineral Point, in northwestern 
La Fayette County, is the village of Leslie, formerly known 
as Belmont. Here, in 1836, was established the first capital 
of Wisconsin, which included, in addition to the modern 
state, all of Iowa and Minnesota and the two Dakotas as far 
west as the Missouri River. The tiny frame capitol building 
from which this vast domain was governed, still stands. For 
many years it was used as a stable by a farmer who lived here. 
In recent years the state has restored the building as far as 

236 



POINTS IN WISCONSIN 

possible to its early condition, and established a state park 
on the site it occupies. 

A dozen miles southeast of Mineral Point, near the north- 
east corner of La Fayette County, is the town of Blanchard- 
ville. Just east of this village (across the line in Green County) 
is the site of Zarahemla, in the early forties a Mormon 
"stake." Zarahemla has long since vanished, but its his- 
torical importance is far greater than that of many a more 
renowned center. After the death of Joseph Smith in 1844, 
the church fell into discord and numerous factions developed; 
of these, two finally emerged triumphant, one the Utah 
faction led by Brigham Young, which now numbers half a 
million followers; the other the Reorganized Church of Latter 
Day Saints, which abominates polygamy, and has its head- 
quarters at Independence, Mo. The Recognized Church 
traces its origin to abandoned Zarahemla: here in a log 
schoolhouse (which stood just east of the present Blanch- 
ardville cemetery) an angel appeared to the assembled 
devotees and gave them instructions which resulted in 
the founding of the Reorganized Church. It is today a 
flourishing organization with 100,000 adherents. In sharp 
contrast to Mormonism in general, the followers of the 
Reorganized Church have always lived in harmony with 
their gentile neighbors. 

17. New Glarus: 

This is the original seat (settled in 1845) of Wisconsin's 
noted Swiss colony, which now spreads over most of Green 
County. The Swiss are frugal and industrious, excelling 
particularly in dairying. More Swiss cheese is produced in 
Green County than in all the remainder of the United States. 
The church at New Glarus is a picturesque old-world structure, 
surrounded by a church-yard in which sleep many of the 
pioneers. A fine monument marks the site of the log hut 
where the infant colony passed the first troubled winter of 
1845-46. 

237 



POINTS IN WISCONSIN 

possible to its early condition, and established a state park 
on the site it occupies. 

A dozen miles southeast of Mineral Point, near the north- 
east corner of La Fayette County, is the town of Blanchard- 
ville. Just east of this village (across the line in Green County) 
is the site of Zarahemla, in the early forties a Mormon 
"stake." Zarahemla has long since vanished, but its his- 
torical importance is far greater than that of many a more 
renowned center. After the death of Joseph Smith in 1844, 
the church fell into discord and numerous factions developed; 
of these, two finally emerged triumphant, one the Utah 
faction led by Brigham Young, which now numbers half a 
million followers; the other the Reorganized Church of Latter 
Day Saints, which abominates polygamy, and has its head- 
quarters at Independence, Mo. The Recognized Church 
traces its origin to abandoned Zarahemla: here in a log 
schoolhouse (which stood just east of the present Blanch- 
ardville cemetery) an angel appeared to the assembled 
devotees and gave them instructions which resulted in 
the founding of the Reorganized Church. It is today a 
flourishing organization with 100,000 adherents. In sharp 
contrast to Mormonism in general, the followers of the 
Reorganized Church have always lived in harmony with 
their gentile neighbors. 

17. New Glarus: 

This is the original seat (settled in 1845) of Wisconsin's 
noted Swiss colony, which now spreads over most of Green 
County. The Swiss are frugal and industrious, excelling 
particularly in dairying. More Swiss cheese is produced in 
Green County than in all the remainder of the United States. 
The church at New Glarus is a picturesque old-world structure, 
surrounded by a church-yard in which sleep many of the 
pioneers. A fine monument marks the site of the log hut 
where the infant colony passed the first troubled winter of 
1845-46. 

237 



chicago's highways — old and new 

1 8. Wiota: 

Wiota is an early lead mine center, settled in the spring of 
1828 by William S. Hamilton, son of Alexander Hamilton, 
the noted financier and statesman. Hamilton became a man 
of consequence in the lead mines and Wiota, or "Hamilton's 
diggings," as his place was known, was for many years his 
home. In 1832 the settlers, led by Hamilton, built a fort a 
half mile south of the village for their protection. It was not 
attacked during the war, but on June 16 Henry Apple, a 
member of the garrison was slain and scalped only half a mile 
away. Colonel Henry Dodge (later general, governor, and 
senator) chanced to arrive at the same time Apple was 
slain, and he immediately announced his determination to go 
in pursuit of the Indians. With about a score of followers he 
came upon them in a bend of the Pecatonica River, in Section 
14, Wiota Township, about five miles southeast of Wiota. 
The Indians concealed themselves in a wooded swamp, which 
Dodge immediately proceeded to storm. All of the red men, 
seventeen in number, were slain, while four of the attacking 
party fell. A bronze marker has been erected on the site of 
the sanguinary battle. 

19. Hazel Green: 

James Gates Percival, the noted poet and geologist, spent 
his later years in Hazel Green. A group of Yale alumni have 
caused a monument to be erected over his grave in the village 
cemetery with this inscription: "James Gates Percival, Born 
in Berlin, Connecticut, September 15, 1795. Graduated at 
Yale College, B. A. 1815, M. D., 1820. State Geologist of 
Connecticut, 1835-1842. State Geologist of Wisconsin, 1854- 
1856. Died in Hazel Green, May 2, 1856. Eminent as a 
poet, rarely accomplished as a linguist, and acute in science. 
A man without guile." 



238 



II POINTS IN ILLINOIS 



1. Galena and Vicinity: 

The ancient capital of the lead mines, Galena was the first 
American settlement on the upper Mississippi, and long the 
commercial capital of the region. The commercial glory of 
Galena vanished with the building of the railroads connecting 
Chicago and other Lake Michigan points with the Mississippi 
and affording thereby an eastern outlet to the commerce of 
the upper Mississippi Valley. In the years immediately pre- 
ceding the Civil War Galena numbered among her citizens an 
astonishing number of men who were destined to achieve 
national fame — General Grant, General John A. Rawlins, 
Elihu Washburn, Bishop Vincent, are but a few of the list. 
The Grant homestead and other interesting relics may still 
be seen. 

The village of Elizabeth, some miles east of Galena, was 
the site of Apple River fort in the Indian war of 1832. On 
June 24 it was assailed by 200 warriors, led by Black Hawk in 
person. Within the fort were many women and children and 
only fifteen or twenty men to defend them. After two hours 
of heavy firing the defenders began to show signs of weakening. 
In this crisis Mrs. Elizabeth Armstrong delivered an impas- 
sioned address, and marshalling the women to her assistance 
assumed direction of the defense. Under the inspiration of 
her heroism it was successfully maintained until the approach 
of reinforcements from Galena compelled the besiegers to 
withdraw. 

2. Kellogg's Grove: 

Western Stephenson County was the scene of some of she 
hardest fighting in the Black Hawk War. At Kellogg's (now 
Timm's) Grove on May 23, 1832, Indian agent Felix St. Vrain 

239 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

and several companions were slain by Chief Little Bear*s 
band. June i6 Captain Snyder fought a pitched battle with 
the Indians near the same spot. On June i8 Captain Stephen- 
son fought the Indians near Waddam's Grove, his several 
charges upon them being characterized by Governor Ford as 
the equal of anything in modern warfare for "desperate 
daring and courage." On June 25 a second battle was fought 
at Kellogg's Grove between 200 whites led by Captain Snyder 
and the Indians led by Black Hawk himself. This battle 
marks the turning point of the war, as Black Hawk never 
again assumed the offensive. The remains of the victims of 
the several encounters noted are interred beneath a massive 
monument of stone, erected on the site, of the Kellogg Grove 
battles in 1886. 

3. Freeport: 

Freeport occupies the site of a former Winnebago Indian 
village, whose ruler, when the whites came into the country, 
was Chief Winneshiek. Here on August 29, 1858 was held one 
of the series of joint debates between Abraham Lincoln and 
Stephen A. Douglas; on this occasion Douglas in response to 
Lincoln's questioning, enunciated his famous **Freeport 
Doctrine," which split the Democratic Party in i860 and 
made possible the election of Lincoln to the Presidency. 

4. Oregon and Vicinity: 

The scenic attractions of the Rock River Valley in the 
vicinity of Oregon have made this a favorite resort for artists 
and nature lovers. Near here, on a bluff overlooking the 
valley, stands Lorado Taft's colossal statue of Chief Black 
Hawk. A short distance above Oregon on the east side of 
the river is Ganymede's Spring, named by Margaret Fuller, 
the famous writer and intellectual leader of New England, 
who visited the place in the summer of 1843 ^^^ ^^^^ wrote 
the poem "Ganymede to his Eagle." 

Half a dozen miles above Oregon near the mouth of Still- 
man's Creek is the battlefield where on May 14, 1832, Black 
Hawk's warriors put to ignominious flight the force of Illinois 

240 




A REMINDER OF A VANISHED RACE 

Indian statue near Oregon; Lorado Taft, Sculptor. The figure, of heroic pro- 
portions, stands on the bluff overlooking Rock River, gazing in 
reverential mood upon the beautiful landscape 
spread out beneath. 



POINTS IN ILLINOIS 

militia led by Major Stillman. The panic-stricken soldiers 
(aside from a handful who were slain while valiantly fighting 
the foe) kept up their wild flight until they were safe at Dixon. 
A monument erected by the state of Illinois in 1902 marks the 
site of the battlefield, and the graves of those who fell in 
the fight. 
5. Dixon and Vicinity: 

The town is named in honor of "Father" John Dixon, who 
settled here in 1830, and conducted the ferry and mail-route, 
kept store and tavern, and traded with the Indians. In the 
Black Hawk War of 1832, Dixon became the base of opera- 
tions of the army in pursuit of Black Hawk in his movement 
up Rock River. A block-house was erected here, and for 
several weeks the regulars lay at this point. To Dixon the 
troops of Major Stillman fled for refuge after their overthrow 
of May 14 at Stillman's Creek. Dixon was for some years 
in the early period of settlement the only place on Rock 
River where a ferry was maintained, and it became a point 
of much importance on both the Kellogg Trail from Peoria 
north to Galena and the mining country, and the Chicago- 
Galena road. A monument has been placed in recent years to 
mark the site of the block-house of 1832. 

Grand De Tour, a few miles north of Dixon, was so named 
by the early French voyageurs (the French name for the great 
bend in the river at this point). The vicinity was a favorite 
resort of the red men, and hence became an early center of 
fur trade operations. On section 19, Nachusa Township, was 
the post of the French trader Lasaliere, early in the nine- 
teenth century (apparently he came here soon after the close 
of the War of 1812). He was succeeded on the same site by 
Stephen Mack, a Yankee, who traded for several years among 
the Potawatomi at this point. Mack married an Indian 
woman, Hononegah, about whose career a novel might well 
be written; notwithstanding this union, however, a plot was 
formed against his hfe, and with his wife, he fled northward to 
find refuge among the Winnebago of Winnebago County. 

241 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS— OLD AND NEW 

6. ZioN City: 

This is the seat of the religious community officially styled 
the "Christian Catholic Church in Zion/' and popularly 
known as the" Dowieites, "John Alexander Dowie, the founder, 
came to America from Australia in 1888, and in 1893 began 
preaching in Chicago near the World's Fair Grounds. His 
success was spectacular for many years. In 1896 he organized 
at Chicago the Christian Catholic Church in Zion. In 1901 
he proclaimed himself Elijah the Restorer, and soon thereafter 
founded Zion City as a home for his devotees. Aside from 
religious matters, the town is noted for its extensive manu- 
facture of fine laces. 

7. Chicago : 

Located on the portage from the Chicago River to the 
Illinois, Chicago has been a point of importance from the 
time of the first coming of the French into the interior. 
JoUiet and Marquette passed this way in 1673, and Marquette 
returning to Illinois to introduce the gospel, spent the winter 
of 1674-75 on the site of Chicago. About the year 1696 the 
Guardian Angel Mission was established by Father Pinet near 
the bank of the river, somewhere between the forks and the 
river mouth. La Salle was early at Chicago, of course, and a 
so-called fort, which seems to have consisted of a stockaded 
log hut was occupied by two of his men in 1683. With this 
exception, however, the French seem never to have had a fort 
at Chicago. The place figures in the Revolution in connection 
with some of the western campaigns, and a tiny battle was 
fought somewhere in the vicinity of South Chicago. In the 
Greenville Treaty of 1795 Anthony Wayne compelled the 
Indians to cede a six-mile square tract at the mouth of the 
river for the establishment of a fort, and in 1803 Fort Dearborn 
was established. It was destroyed in August, 18 12, at the 
time of the massacre, and a new fort built on the same site in 
1816. 

Among the places of historic interest to the visitor in pres- 
ent-day Chicago are the following: 

242 



POINTS IN ILLINOIS 

1. The Chicago Historical Society at Dearborn and 
Ontario streets, whose building houses a wonderful collection 
of museum objects, associated with the leading events and 
persons of the nation's history. 

2. The site of the Kinzie House, oldest in Chicago, marked 
by a tablet on the Kirk Soap Factory at North Michigan 
Avenue and Kinzie Street. 

3. The site of Fort Dearborn (now partly in the river) 
marked by a tablet in the London Guaranty and Accident 
building, south end of Michigan Boulevard Bridge. 

4. The beautiful massacre monument at Eighteenth Street 
and the Illinois Central Railway tracks, on the supposed 
site of the massacre of August 15, 18 12. The dominant theme 
depicted by the monument is the rescue by Black Partridge, 
the Potawatomi chief, of Mrs. Helm from impending destruc- 
tion. 

5. A Cross at the junction of South Robey Street and the 
river, marking the supposed site of Marquette's winter 
sojourn in 1674-75. 

6. The Marquette Building at Dearborn and Adams 
Streets contains a series of beautiful mosaics and reliefs, 
depicting scenes in the life and voyages of Father Marquette. 

7. The banking room of the Central Trust Company 
Building contains a series of paintings of important scenes 
and events in the development of Chicago. Similar paintings 
pertaining to Fort Dearborn are in the lobby of the Fort 
Dearborn Hotel. 

8. The monument and tomb of Senator Stephen A. Douglas 
are in Woodland Park, at Thirty-fifth Street and the Illinois 
Central tracks, facing the lake. The ground is a part of the 
old Douglas homestead, and near here is the site of the first 
Chicago University, for which he donated several acres of 
land. 

9. During the Civil War Camp Douglas at Chicago was a 
great military prison. Many of the unfortunate Confederate 

243 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

soldiers died in prison here, and are buried in Oakwoods 
Cemetery, where a Confederate cemetery is maintained. 

10. In Lincoln Park, near the southern end, is the famous 
monument to President Lincoln by Augustus Saint Gaudens. 
Farther north is an equestrian statue of General Grant. 
Near the junction of Clark and Wisconsin streets is located 
the grave of David Kenison, a veteran of the Revolution and a 
member of the Boston Tea Party. In the Historical Library 
may be seen a small bottle of tea which purports to have been 
saved by Kenison at the time of this historical event. 

11. In Union Park stands the monument commemorating 
the Anarchist outbreak of 1886. The tragedy took place in 
Haymarket Square, about a mile east of Union Park. 

12. At Lake and Franklin Streets a marker shows the site 
of the historic Wigwam where Lincoln was first nominated for 
the Presidency in i860. 

13. At DeKoven and Jefferson streets a tablet marks the 
site of Mrs. O'Leary's residence, where the great fire which 
overwhelmed Chicago in October, 1871, started. 

At Fullersburg, a few miles southwest of Chicago, may be 
seen onejof the few taverns of the stage-coach era still remain- 
ing in Illinois, now used as a private dwelling. Local tradition 
represents that Stephen A. Douglas once delivered a political 
address before this tavern, and that Abraham Lincoln was one 
of the travelers who sought entertainment here. In an upper 
room of the decaying structure Lois Fuller, who achieved 
note as a dancer a generation ago, was born. 
8. Naperville: 

Here was erected Fort Payne in 1832, where the local 
inhabitants took refuge in the Indian war. An interesting 
monument of the pioneer period which is still to be seen is the 
old Preemption House. This tavern, erected in 1834, with 
framework, siding, and interior finish of black walnut, is still 
in an excellent state of preservation, and has been used 
continuously as a tavern since the time of its erection. It is 
an excellent example of the better class of pioneer taverns, 

244 



POINTS IN ILLINOIS 

and is probably the oldest house of public entertainment in 
Illinois, if not in the Northwest. 
9. Plano and Vicinity: 

About two miles south of Piano the supposed site of ancient 
Maramech has been identified by the late John F. Steward, 
who has written a book on the subject of **Lost Maramech and 
Earliest Chicago." Here, at the junction of Big Rock and 
Little Rock creeks, occurred in the year 1730 the siege and 
destruction of the Foxes by an army of French and Indian 
allies. The Foxes, who from their home in Wisconsin had 
long been maintaining a bitter warfare against the power of 
New France, are supposed to have been endeavoring to make 
their way eastward to the country of the Iroquois (likewise 
inveterate enemies of the French) with whom they had 
entered into friendly negotiations. Their design was discovered 
by their enemies, however, and the latter, gathering from all 
directions, hemmed in the Foxes, who were encumbered 
with their women and children, at this place. A bitter siege of 
many days* duration followed, terminating in the utter 
destruction of the Foxes. In 1900 Mr. Steward, who had 
devoted a lifetime to studying the subject, caused a huge 
boulder on the supposed site of the Fox fort to be marked 
with this inscription: "Three hundred warriors, with women 
and children, were besieged here by 1300 French and Indian 
allies, August 17, 1730. Escaped, September 9th. Captured, 
tortured, killed. French trenches on north end of hill. Site 
identified and stone placed by John F. Steward, 1 874-1900." 

Several miles west of Piano, in Shabbona Township, south- 
western De Kalb County, is Shabbona's grove. The grove 
originally comprised 1500 acres of splendid hardwood timber, 
and at its northern end stood the village of Shabbona, the 
famous Potawatomi chieftain. Shabbona, by birth an Ottawa, 
was long a stern opponent of the Americans, and an able 
assistant of Tecumseh until the latter was slain in the battle 
of the Thames in 18 13. Thereupon Shabbona made peace 
with the whites and ever afterward remained their firm 

245 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

friend. Both in the Winnebago outbreak of 1827 and the 
Sauk War of 1832 he repeatedly risked his Hfe to warn the 
settlers of impending massacre; in comparison with his ride 
of 1832 for this purpose, the famous "ride" of Paul Revere 
pales into insignificance. A magnificent life-size portrait in 
oil of Shabbona is owned by the Chicago Historical Society. 
His grave is in Evergreen Cemetery at Morris, marked by a 
huge boulder which was placed over it by white admirers in 
1903. 

10. Harding: 

A short distance from Harding in northeastern La Salle 
County, Shabbona State Park preserves the site of the 
terrible Indian Creek massacre of May 20, 1832. Here were 
slaughtered fifteen men, women and children of the little 
community, while two young women, Rachel and Sylvia Hall, 
were carried into captivity. After a thrilling experience 
they were ransomed by the friendly Winnebago chief, White 
Crow, near Beloit, and restored to their surviving relatives. 
The fifteen victims of the massacre were buried in one common 
grave, over which in 1877 a monument was erected by 
WiUiam Munson. In 1902 the present park oiy}4 acres was 
established, and four years later a fine memorial was erected 
in it by the State. The park is named in honor of Shabbona, 
the friendly Potawatomi chief, who labored valiantly to save 
the settlers from destruction. 

11. Starved Rock: 

About this point, midway between La Salle and Ottawa, 
center some of the most interesting historical associations of 
the Mississippi Valley. Near here in 1674 Father Marquette 
first preached the Gospel in Illinois. A few years later La Salle 
established Fort St. Louis on Starved Rock, and this spot 
became the center of his empire-building operations in the 
West. Around the Rock were encamped at one time many 
thousand Indian allies of La Salle. It was besieged unsuc- 
cessfully in 1682 by the Iroquois Indians, and again a few 
years later. The Foxes laid siege to the Rock in 1722, and 

246 



» 



POINTS IN ILLINOIS 

Starved the defenders into submission. The present name, 
however, is associated with the traditionary siege and destruc- 
tion here in 1770 of the remnant of the lUinois, in revenge for 
the assassination of Pontiac. The first mention of coal in the 
New World (on Thevenot's map of 168 1) occurred in connec- 
tion with this vicinity, and our first knowledge of its actual 
use in America was in the little blacksmith forge of Fort 
St. Louis on the top of the Rock. The natural scenery of the 
vicinity is no less interesting than its historical associations, 
and in recent years the state has set aside 900 acres of wooded 
bluff land lying along the south side of the Illinois, between 
Ottawa and La Salle, as Starved Rock Park, equipped with 
lighting, sewage, and water systems, to constitute a great 
out-door playground. The classic story of the early history 
of the region is Francis Parkman's La Salle and the Discovery 
of the Great West. 

12. Prophetstown: 

This occupies the site of the Winnebago village of White 
Cloud, the Prophet, Chief Black Hawk's "evil genius." In 
April, 1832, Colonel Henry Gratiot came to Prophetstown in 
an effort to dissuade the Winnebago from joining Black 
Hawk's warriors, who were even then being entertained in the 
village. Gratiot escaped with his life, through the connivance 
of White Cloud, but Black Hawk's "heart was bad," and he 
persisted in his advance which precipitated the war that 
followed. A few days after Gratiot's visit, the Illinois 
militia under Whitesides, advancing up Rock River in pursuit 
of Black Hawk (who had now gone to Dixon) reached Pro- 
phetstown, and in their exasperation burned the village. 

13. Rock Island: 

Here was the ancient seat of power of the Sauk and Fox 
tribes. Their town of Saukenauk on Rock River about three 
miles above its mouth was the historical capital of a wide 
region. Here Black Hawk was born and lived his tempestuous 
career, until driven away by the whites in 1831. Rock Island 
figures in three noted wars, the Revolution, the War of 18 12, 

247 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

and the Black Hawk War of 1832. In 1780 George Rogers 
Clark sent Colonel Montgomery with 400 soldiers to chastise 
the British allies on the upper Mississippi, and he occupied 
and burned Saukenauk. In July, 18 13, an American force 
under Captain John Campbell, attempting to ascend the 
Mississippi, was defeated by the Sauk and Foxes in the battle 
of Campbell's Island. A year later, in September, 18 14, an 
American army led by Zachary Taylor, later Mexican War 
hero and President, was defeated by the British and Indians 
in the battle of Credit Island. A monument on Campbell's 
Island commemorates the battle of July 19, 18 14. In the 
spring of 18 16 Fort Armstrong was established on Rock 
Island, and evacuated twenty years later. The fort-site has 
been suitably marked in recent years. In 1863 work was 
begun on the United States arsenal which is now one 
of the great military storehouses of the world. From 
December, 1863, until the end of the war, a prison for 
Confederate soldiers was maintained here. In all, over 
12,000 captives were brought here, and some 2,000 of the 
number died in prison. 

The Modern Woodmen of America, the largest fraternal 
insurance organization in existence, has its headquarters at 
Rock Island. In the rear of the M. W. A. building on 
Fifteenth street, is marked the site of the jail in which the 
infamous "banditti of the prairie" were confined for the 
murder of Colonel Davenport in the forties. A marker on a 
barn on Thirteenth Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues 
calls attention to the spot where the murderers were hung. 

A portion of the mound on which the Sauk Council Lodge 
stood may be seen a short distance west of the bridge over 
Rock River. Black Hawk's Watch Tower, a favorite resort 
of the old chieftain, is now a resort of pleasure seekers, afford- 
ing a magnificent view over the adjoining country. At the 
west end of the Watch Tower Bluff is the grave of Black 
Hawk's children, and the site of the cabin where for months 
he mourned their demise. 

248 



POINTS IN ILLINOIS 

The first bridge across the Mississippi River was built at 
Rock Island, and at Fifth and Rock Island Streets, in Daven- 
port, ground was broken for the first railroad west of the 
Mississippi. Where Frankam Street (Davenport), projected, 
would intersect Fifth Avenue was negotiated in September, 
1832, the treaty for the Black Hawk Purchase, which opened 
eastern Iowa to settlement. At 557 College Avenue is the 
first frame house in Iowa, built by Colonel George Davenport 
in 1833. At 517 West Seventh Street is the site of the first 
College building in Iowa (now Grinnell College). At 223 East 
Second Street is the site of the home of Dr. John Emerson, 
the owner of Dred Scott, over whose possession was waged the 
famous suit which did much to bring on the Civil War. At 
220 Brady Street is the site of the house where Barclay Coppoc, 
one of John Brown's followers at Harper's Ferry, was secreted 
from his Virginian pursuers after his escape from that state. 

14. Bishop Hill: 

Here in 1 846 was founded by Eric Jansen and Jonas Olson 
of Sweden, a communistic society. Two thousand acres of 
land were procured and in the first three years 1200 followers 
came from Sweden to colonize it. Jansen is said to have built 
the first flats in America, two large three-story brick buildings 
erected in 1848 and 1849 for community purposes. In the 
first story of the larger building were the kitchen and dining 
room, in which 1200 persons could be seated; the two upper 
stories were divided up into family dwellings. Jansen was 
murdered at Cambridge in 1850. Some years later financial 
difficulties overtook the colony, and during the Civil War it 
was dissolved and the property apportioned among those who 
had been its members. The buildings erected by the colonists 
are still in existence, interesting reminders of the hopeful 
enterprise which once centered here. 

15. Galesburg: 

One of the debates between Lincoln and Douglas in 1858 
was held here, and the site is appropriately marked by a 
monument. Another monument commemorates the life and 

249 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

services of "Mother" Bickerdyke, famous as a nurse in the 
Civil War. Knox College at Galesburg is the alma mater of 
many noted men. 

1 6. Oquawka: 

Oquawka occupies the site of ancient Yellow Banks, where 
Black Hawk began his fatal invasion of Illinois in 1832. On 
April 6, 1832, the red men crossed the Mississippi at this 
point, and S. S. Phelps, a trader who enjoyed the confidence 
of Black Hawk, vainly sought to persuade the latter to with- 
draw from his mad adventure and recross the river to Iowa. 
Black Hawk persisted in his enterprise however, and the war 
followed. Before the old courthouse at Oquawka in 1858 
Stephen A. Douglas addressed an enthusiastic throng, on the 
Monday before his joint debate with Lincoln at Galesburg. 
On the Saturday following, Lincoln spoke at the same place, 
and spent the night in the home of S. S. Phelps. The house is 
still preserved and the room in which Lincoln slept retains the 
same bed and other furniture. 

17. Nauvoo AND Vicinity: 

Nauvoo is noted as the former seat of the Mormon theo- 
cracy, led by Joseph Smith. The holy city begun here in 1839 
developed with marvelous rapidity, becoming in less than half 
a dozen years the metropolis of Illinois. In 1841 was begun 
the erection of the Mormon Temple, 88 feet wide, 128 feet 
long, and 65 feet high, which was completed in 1846 at a cost 
of $1,000,000. The killing of Joseph Smith and his brother 
Hyrum in 1844, followed by the expulsion of the Mormons 
from Nauvoo and the founding of the commonwealth of Utah 
are matters of common knowledge to Americans. 

Less well known, perhaps, is the story of the remarkable 
community of Icaria which succeeded the Mormons at Nau- 
voo. This was founded on a communistic basis by Etienne 
Cabet, Attorney-general of France under the Second Repub- 
lic. Icaria, which took its name from one of Victor Hugo's 

250 



fr^ 




I 



POINTS IN ILLINOIS 

novels, soon became a thriving community of 1200 souls, 
among whom were numbered some of the most talented men 
and women of Europe. As illustrations may be noted one of 
the leading physicians of Vienna, and an architect who (later) 
was intrusted with the erection of the state capitols of Illinois 
and Iowa. In time internal dissensions broke out in Icaria and 
the downfall of the community followed. At Nauvoo may 
still be seen many interesting reminders of the Mormon and 
the Icarian regimes — the first house built in Nauvoo in 1828. 
the former homes of Brigham Young and Joseph Smith, the 
graves of Joseph and Hyrum Smith and of Emma, the wife of 
Joseph, the famous Mansion House, etc. 

At Carthage, a dozen miles southeast of Nauvoo, the Smith 
brothers, Joseph and Hyrum, were put in jail in May, 1844, 
on a charge of treason, and shortly after were murdered by a 
Gentile mob. The former jail where the Saints were slain is now 
used as a dwelling house. Hancock County, of which Carthage 
is the county seat, was the principal seat of the Mormon War, 
and for two or three years following the killing of the Smiths 
was the frequent theater of marching armies, of skirmishes, 
assassinations, and house burnings. 

At Warsaw, which also figured in the Mormon war of the 
forties, is the site of old Fort Edwards, established by Major 
Zachary Taylor in September, 18 14, and abandoned and 
burned the following month. It was soon afterward reestab- 
lished, and garrisoned by the regular army until 1824. In 
1 9 14 a fine monument commemorating the old fort was dedi- 
cated in the presence of 12,000 people. It stands on a lofty 
bluflF overlooking the Mississippi, from which a magnificent 
panorama embracing portions of the three states of Iowa, 
Illinois and Missouri may be seen. Warsaw was the boyhood 
home of John Hay, famous as a statesman and man of letters, 
and here his parents are buried. He was a great admirer of the 
beauty of the country around Warsaw and once stated that no 
European landscape was more beautiful than the one spread 
out before the observer standing on the site of Fort Edwards. 

251 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

i8. Quincy: 

One of the debates between Lincoln and Douglas in 1858 
was held in Washington Square at Quincy, and the site is 
suitably marked. The old colonial homestead of Governor 
John Wood, founder of Quincy, erected in 1835, is now the 
home of the Quincy Historical Society. Here may be seen 
many paintings and other historical objects associated with 
the early history of Quincy and the surrounding region. 

19. Beardstown: 

In the City Hall, which was formerly the county courthouse, 
occurred the famous trial of Duff Armstrong for murder in 
1858. Armstrong was the son of the leader of the Clary's Grove 
gang near New Salem, in the early thirties, whom young 
Abraham Lincoln had defeated in the noted wrestling match. 
Later a close friendship developed between the leader of the 
rowdy gang and the future emancipator, and when Arm- 
strong's son. Duff, was on trial at Beardstown for murder, 
Lincoln, now a noted lawyer, undertook the defense. The 
accused was charged with stabbing another young man in a 
drinking brawl which occurred after nightfall. Lincoln, by 
careful questioning, caused the witnesses for the prosecution 
to fix the precise time of the killing and assert that they had 
seen the act committed by the light of the moon. He then 
produced an almanac and convinced the jury that the testi- 
mony was false, since there was no moon at the time the wit- 
nesses claimed to have observed the act. In after years the 
legend developed that Lincoln "doctored" the almanac in 
order to trick the jury into a verdict of acquittal; but this 
statement which sheds little credit either on the honesty of 
Lincoln or on the intelligence of the Court and prosecuting 
attorney, is without foundation in fact. 

20. Petersburg: 

Near here was the pioneer village of New Salem (now com- 
monly known as "Old Salem"), the home for several years in 
early manhood of Abraham Lincoln. Here he kept store, 
studied law and surveying, began his active political career, 



POINTS IN ILLINOIS 

and was elected captain of the local military company for the 
Black Hawk War. At New Salem lived and died Ann Rut- 
ledge, the heroine of Lincoln's first and most famous love 
affair. Old Salem long since perished as a village, but in 
recent years the State has established here Old Salem Park, 
and has begun the work of restoring the village as it was in 
Lincoln's time. The place bids fair to overtake the destiny 
foretold for it as long ago as 1902 by a local admirer of Lincoln 
as "the Mount Vernon of the West." 
21. Springfield: 

As the capital of Illinois from the early thirties, Springfield 
has many historic associations. Most notable of these, of 
course, are those connected with Lincoln, but the memory of 
Douglas, Shields, Davis, Trumbull, Logan, and scores of other 
worthies are bound up in the history of the town. Of foremost 
interest to visitors are the tomb of Lincoln, and the Lincoln 
homestead at Eighth and Jackson streets. The site of the law 
office of Stuart and Lincoln at 109 North Fifth Street is desig- 
nated by a bronze marker. Tablets also mark the office of 
Lincoln and Logan at the southeast corner of the Public 
Square, and of Lincoln and Herndon on the west side of the 
square. The new Centennial Memorial building occupies the 
site of the old Edwards residence, in which Lincoln was 
married to Mary Todd. The building, begun in 191 8, 
houses the State Historical Library and a Lincoln Memorial 
Hall. A tablet in the C. F. Smith building marks the room 
wherein the First Inaugural address is said to have been writ- 
ten. Another, in the Circuit room of the Courthouse marks 
the site where the "House Divided Against Itself" speech was 
delivered. Here, too, a few years later, Lincoln's body lay in 
state. At the Wabash Freight station. Tenth and Monroe 
streets, is marked the place where the famous "Farewell 
Address" was uttered on leaving Springfield for Washington 
in 1 86 1. The cornerstone of the Capitol building was laid in 
1868. In the grounds are monuments to Lincoln and Douglas. 
At Camp Yates General Grant began his Civil War career. 

^53 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS— OLD AND NEW 

The site of the entrance of the camp, at the corner of Douglas 
Avenue and Governor Street is marked by a stone and tablet. 
In the Lincoln Monument is a memorial room, where many 
objects associated with his career may be seen. The State 
Historical Library, contains many objects and manuscripts of 
historical interest. 
22. Peoria and Vicinity: 

Like Starved Rock, Peoria is associated with the earliest 
activities of the French in the Mississippi Valley. Near here 
La Salle built Fort Creve Coeur in 1680, and from here Father 
Hennepin set forth on his famous journey of exploration of the 
upper Mississippi country. Fort Creve Coeur was soon de- 
stroyed, but Peoria continued to be a seat of missionary 
activities and before many years a mixed French and Indian 
town developed, which continued in existence until merged 
in the modern American city early in the nineteenth century. 
In November, 18 12, the village was burned by Captain 
Craig's militia under the belief (possibly unfounded) that its 
inhabitants were in sympathy with the Indians in the war 
then raging. In September, 18 13, Governor Edwards marched 
to Peoria with 1400 men and built Fort Clark, a stockade 
fortress at the foot of modern Liberty Street. After the war. 
Fort Clark was abandoned, and about 1818 or 1819 was 
burned. With the advance of American settlement up the 
Illinois in the early twenties the modern development of 
Peoria as an American city was begun. Prior to the passage 
of the Eighteenth Amendment, Peoria was the chief center for 
the distilling of liquor in America. 

The exact site of Fort Creve Coeur has long been a matter 
of uncertainty and dispute. In 1902 the Daughters of the 
American Revolution fixed upon a site a short distance above 
Wesley City, on the opposite side of the river from Peoria, 
and caused it to be marked with a large granite boulder. In 
1921 the State Historical Society officially approved this 
location, and a fifteen-acre tract of land embracing it was 
acquired by the State. 

254 



POINTS IN ILLINOIS 



The old courthouse at Metamora, a dozen miles northeast 
of Peoria, is probably the most interesting county building in 
IlHnois. It was erected in 1845 and used as a courthouse until 
1896. For many years Abraham Lincoln attended court here 
while "riding circuit" in Illinois, and it is claimed that this is 
the last remaining courthouse in the state in which he prac- 
ticed law. At different times Lincoln, Adlai Stevenson, 
Robert G. Ingersoll, and Judge David Davis were assembled 
together in this building. Stevenson later became vice-presi- 
dent and Davis supreme court justice of the United States; 
the careers of Lincoln and Ingersoll are matters of common 
knowledge. 

23. Watseka: 

The touching story of Watseka, the Indian girl who lived 
in this vicinity and for whom the town is named, is told in 
Chapter III of this volume. At Iroquois a few miles to the 
northeast of Watseka is the site of Gurdon Hubbard's trading 
post, established in the early twenties of the nineteenth 
century. Its story is also told in Chapter III. 

24. Danville: 

In the primitive period this neighborhood was a noted 
resort of buffalo and other wild game, drawn here by the salt 
deposits. The game, in turn, attracted the Indians. The salt 
springs were also a magnet which drew the earliest white 
settlers of this part of Illinois. An important Indian trail ran 
north from Danville to Chicago, which in the pioneer period 
was followed approximately by Hubbard's Trace, and still 
later by the state road to which modern State street in Chi- 
cago owes its name. In recent years Danville has been best 
known to the outside world as the home of "Uncle Joe" 
Cannon, statesman and patriot. . 



255 



Ill POINTS IN INDIANA AND MICHIGAN 

1. Michigan City and Vicinity: 

At Michigan City the ancient trail from Detroit to Chicago 
gained the lake shore. For this reason the stream which here 
empties into Lake Michigan was known to the French as 
Riviere du Chemin — River of the Road — and later, to the 
English traders as Trail Creek. Baptiste Point du Sable, the 
half-breed negro who has acquired posthumous fame as the 
earliest settler on the site of Chicago, was trading at Michigan 
City during the Revolution, and in 1779 he was seized and 
his goods confiscated by a British officer who charged him 
with being in league with the Americans. 

At Three Oaks, Michigan, a dozen miles northeast of 
Michigan City is the Warren Historical Museum, which con- 
tains a fine collection of objects dealing with the Indian and 
pioneer phases of our history. 

Near Door village, three miles south of La Porte, a large 
boulder has been placed to mark the site where a block house 
was erected by the settlers during the Black Hawk War. 

At Valparaiso a marker on the lawn of the city library 
commemorates the fact that the great Sauk Trail from Rock 
Island, Illinois, to Detroit and Maiden ran across the county 
and through the modern city. The Memorial Opera House, 
built in 1893 in honor of the soldiers and sailors of the Civil 
War, is the headquarters of the Grand Army of the Republic 
and its sister organization, the Woman's Relief Corps. 

2. South Bend and "Vicinity: 

About two miles above the city, in Section 27, German 
Township, began the ancient portage from the St. Joseph 
River to the Kankakee, its western terminus being about five 
miles due west of the starting point, at the western boundary 

256 



POINTS IN INDIANA AND MICHIGAN 

of section 25, Warren Township. This portage route was one 
of the five "keys to the continent/' followed by La Salle in 
1679, by Charlevoix in 1721, and by hosts of red and white 
men before and since these dates. At the western end of the 
portage path stood in La Salle's time a Miami village, and 
near here in May, 168 1, La Salle negotiated a treaty with the 
Miami chieftain. In the court house at South Bend are two 
fine historical paintings, one depicting La Salle's party at the 
portage, December 5, 1679, the other, the treaty with the red 
men in May, 168 1. The St. Joseph County Historical Society 
maintains a fine historical museum. 

Several miles north of South Bend, across the Michigan 
state line is the decayed village of Bertrand. Here the great 
Sauk Trail crossed the St. Joseph. It gave place in time to the 
old Chicago Road, and the highway at this point is still known 
locally as the Chicago Road. Bertrand takes its name from a 
fur trader who settled here toward the close of the eighteenth 
century. By the French it was known as Pare aux Vaches, or 
the buffalo yard. Her^ the ancient Indian trail from Fort 
Wayne northward intersected the Sauk Trail, and this fact, 
combined with the near proximity of the Kankakee portage, 
made the spot a strategic center of trade no less than of war. 
Here John Kinzie, of early Chicago fame, lived and traded for 
several years before his removal to Chicago in 1804. In the 
early period of American settlement of this region Bertrand 
aspired for a time to metropolitan greatness, but this expecta- 
tion was killed by the development of Niles on the north and 
South Bend on the south. A feature of this early period was 
the establishment in the summer of 1844 of the Convent of 
the Sisters of the Holy Cross at Bertrand, which flourished for 
a decade until its removal to South Bend. 

About three miles north of old Bertrand, in the outskirts of 
the city of Niles, is the site of Fort St. Joseph, established by 
the French in 1697 and maintained until the downfall of New 
France, sixty years later. Its strategic importance was due 
to the fact that it was located in the heart of the Miami 

257 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

Valley, at a point sufficiently close to command both the great 
east and west and north and south trails and the St. Joseph- 
Kankakee waterway. From the coming of La Salle in 1679, 
this section had been a center of French activity. At St. Joseph 
Father Allouez established his mission to the Miami in the 
latter years of the seventeenth century, and here he died and 
is buried. Although the site of the grave is unknown, there is 
an interesting local tradition that the first American settlers 
found it marked by a wooden cross, and a large cross still 
stands beside the highway in the southern outskirts of Niles, 
marking the supposed site. On the fall of New France, the 
British promptly garrisoned Fort St. Joseph, but in Pontiac's 
War of 1763 the garrison was massacred almost to a man. 
With the Revolutionary War, Niles again became a center of 
military activity, and in 178 1 a small Spanish force from St. 
Louis plundered the post, and in place of the fallen British 
banner flung aloft the flag of Spain. The site of Fort St. 
Joseph is now under water (due to the building of the power 
dam at Niles) but a huge boulder has been placed on the bluff 
back of the fort site, with the inscription, "Fort St. Joseph, 
1697-1781." 
3. Fort Wayne: 

Situated in the heart of the Miami country and at the point 
where the portage was made from the Maumee of Lake Erie 
to the Wabash, the site of Fort Wayne has been from time 
immemorial an important strategic point. Early in the 
eighteenth century the French established Post Miamis here, 
and the settlement later known as Miamitown developed. 
When, following the close of the Revolution, the new American 
government was compelled to fight the Indian tribes for the 
possession of the old Northwest, the site of Fort Wayne was 
recognized by Washington as the seat of power of the Indian 
confederacy, and every effort was bent on taking it. The 
army led by General Harmar reached the place in October, 
1790, only to meet with a bloody repulse. The army of St. 
Clair, sent against Fort Wayne in 179 1, was completely over- 

258 



POINTS IN INDIANA AND MICHIGAN 

whelmed at Fort Recovery, Ohio. General Wayne, next 
assigned the task, succeeded after two years of preparation 
and fighting, and since 1794 the place has borne his name. 
Fort Wayne was hotly besieged by the red men in the summer 
of 1 8 12, but was saved by an army led by General Harrison. 
That war marked the ruin of the tribesmen in Indiana and 
therewith the end of fighting for the old Miami capital. 

A few of the many points of historical interest in Fort 
Wayne are the following: Equestrian statue of General 
Anthony Wayne, in Hayden Park; Wayne Trace marker, 
placed at the northern end of the trace which led from Fort 
Washington (at Cincinnati) to Fort Wayne. Over it marched 
the armies of General Harmar in 1790; General Wayne in 1794, 
and General Harrison in 1812; marker on Lakeside bank of 
the Maumee, commemorating Harmar's defeat, Oct. 22, 1790; 
marker on supposed site of the grave of the famous Miami 
chief, Little Turtle, who died in 18 12; tablet in Swinney Park 
to memory of John Appleseed (John Chapman), noted for his 
life-long planting of apple trees in the wilderness. The grave of 
Chapman is in Archer Cemetery, three miles from Fort 
Wayne; replica of the log cabin birthplace of Abraham 
Lincoln, in Foster Park; triangular fenced space marked by 
Spanish cannon, on site of old Fort Wayne; monument to Gen- 
eral Henry W. Lawton of Philippine fame in Lakeside Park. 
Fort Wayne was General Lawton's home city; British cannon 
captured by Commodore Perry in battle of Lake Erie (18 13) 
in Hayden Park; boulder and tablet marking the site of a 
French fort erected on site of Fort Wayne. 
4. Rochester: 

A boulder and tablet three miles north of Rochester mark 
the site of the Indian town of Chippewanung, where the 
famous pioneer highway known as the Michigan Road crossed 
the Tippecanoe River. Here in 1836 was signed the treaty 
with the Potawatomi Indians whereby the latter were trans- 
ferred from this region to a new home west of the Mississippi; 
two years later the soldiers camped on this site with 1000 

259 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

Potawatomi whom they were removing to their western homes. 
A bronze tablet on the State Bank Building in Rochester 
marks the intersection of the Indian trail from Fort Wayne 
to Winona with the trail leading from White Pigeon to the 
reservations in Miami County. 

5. Logansport: 

At Old Town on the north bank of Eel River, six miles 
above its junction with the Wabash and about as many north- 
east of Logansport, is the site of the Indian town of Kenapa- 
comaqua, called by the French TAnguille. When, in the 
summer of 1791, General James Wilkinson, afterwards com- 
mander-in-chief of the United States army, led an army from 
Fort Washington (now Cincinnati) northward against the 
hostile towns, Kenapacomaqua was his principal objective. 
On August 7 he surprised the town while most of the warriors 
were absent, and in a brief battle killed or captured all the 
occupants. The following morning he burned the town and 
departed with his prisoners. A bronze tablet now marks the 
site where the first charge was made by Wilkinson's troopers 
in this battle. 

6. Jalapa: 

A mile southwest of town a monument marks the battlefield 
of Dec. 18, 1812. Colonel John B. Campbell had led a force 
of 600 men from Ohio against the Mississinewa towns, which 
were scattered for several miles along the Mississinewa River 
in northern Pleasant Township. On December 17 he destroyed 
in succession four of the towns, camping for the night on the 
site of the battlefield. Here, toward dawn, he was fiercly 
assailed by 300 warriors, and the battle raged for an hour or 
more until daylight enabled the riflemen to close with their 
foes and put them to rout. Fifty of the soldiers were killed or 
wounded. Fifteen dead Indians were found on the field at 
the close of the battle. 

7. Lafayette and Vicinity: 

The country immediately adjoining La Fayette figures prom- 
inently in the Indian and pioneer periods of Indiana history. 

260 



POINTS IN INDIANA AND MICHIGAN 

Here were located the Wea towns in the midst of which Fort 
Ouiatanon was established by the French in 1720. Until the 
end of the Indian period, over a century later, this continued 
an important center of Indian trade, and around the fort the 
usual village developed, composed of the traders and their 
Indian or mixed-blood wives and descendants. A marker, four 
miles south of La Fayette identifies the site of Fort Ouiatanon. 
After the downfall of New France, the British did not garrison 
the place, but the trading settlement continued to exist and 
during the Revolution and the following years it was an active 
center of hostility to the Americans. In 1791 General Charles 
Scott of Kentucky led an army of 750 mounted troops against 
the place. Taking it by surprise on June i, he killed or cap- 
tured a large number of the warriors, together with their wo- 
men and children. The next day he advanced to Tippecanoe, 
about eight miles north of La Fayette, and burned the town, 
which then consisted of seventy houses. Returning, he de- 
stroyed the Wea towns on June 4, and began his retreat to 
Kentucky. 

Early in the nineteenth century Tippecanoe clearing was 
fixed upon by Tecumseh, probably the greatest figure in the 
history of the red race, as the center of the Indian Utopia he 
proposed to establish. Here he developed an important 
town and from it as a center for several years carried on his 
agitation looking to the reformation of the Indians and the 
uniting of the tribes in a great confederation against the white 
race. The immediate representative of the latter in the 
Northwest was Governor Harrison of Indiana, in later years 
president of the United States. From their respective capitals 
at Tippecanoe and Vincennes the leaders of the two races for 
several years waged a duel of wits and statecraft. At length 
it became apparent, as Tecumseh had boldly stated to Harri- 
son, that the two must "fight it out," and in the autumn of 
1811 Harrison led an army of 900 men northward against the 
Indian capital. On November 6 he came within sight of the 
town and encamped for the night on a slightly elevated tract 

261 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS— OLD AND NEW 

of land two miles west of it. Here at dawn he was fiercely 
assailed, and although the Indians were beaten off it was at 
the cost of one-fourth of Harrison's army in killed or wounded. 
After the battle the Indians speedily decamped, and Harrison, 
after burning their town, began a retreat to Vincennes. The 
battle of Tippecanoe was the prelude to the War of 1812, in 
which Tecumseh sided with the English and was defeated 
and slain by Harrison at the battle of the Thames in 1813. 
The Tippecanoe battleground, now state property, is beauti- 
fully kept, and a splendid monument preserves the names of 
those who fell in the fight. The site of the Indian town is 
identified by a marker. 

8. Crawfordsville: 

Indiana is noted in literature, and Crawfordsville the seat 
of Wabash College has been the home of a number of the state's 
best-known writers. Here Lew Wallace lived, and wrote 
Ben Hur, which is said to have had a larger sale than any other 
American novel since Uncle Tom's Calvin. The Wallace home 
is one of the interesting points in the town. Other well-known 
writers of the place are Maurice Thompson (author of A/ice 
of Old Vincennes) and Meredith Nicholson. A soldiers* and 
sailors* monument on the Courthouse lawn contains also the 
name of William Bratton, a member of the famous Lewis and 
Clark exploring expedition of 1803-6, who lived and died in 
Montgomery County. 

9. Indianapolis and Vicinity: 

As the capital and metropolis of the state, Indianapolis has 
many interesting historical and personal associations; of the 
many monuments and historical points in the city, the follow- 
ing are of major interest here: the Soldiers* and Sailors* 
Monument, built at a cost of |6oo,ooo; statue of General 
Henry W. Lawton, in Garfield Park; statue of Benjamin Har- 
rison, President of the United States 1889-93, on East Ohio 
Street at South entrance toUniversity Park; statues of Govern- 
or Oliver P. Morton, Vice-President Thomas A. Hendricks, 
and Robert Dale Owen, on state capitol grounds; statue of 

262 



POINTS IN INDIANA AND MICHIGAN 

Vice-President Schuyler Colfax in University Park; marker 
on site of old Camp Morton, at Alabama and Nineteenth 
streets; monument marking the intersection of the old Na- 
tional and Michigan Roads, at Washington Street and South- 
eastern Avenue; marker commemorating National Road, on 
south side of State House lawn; tablet on Claypool Hotel 
marking site of old Bates House, where Abraham Lincoln 
delivered an address en route to Washington in 1861 ; a bronze 
tablet on south end of Centennial Bridge over White River. 
The inscription reads: "Centennial Bridge, erected to com- 
memorate the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of 
Indianapohs, selected as the State Capital, January 7, 1820, 
and confirmed by legislative enactment January 7, 1821." 
Indianapolis was the home of James Whitcomb Riley, the 
great Hoosier poet; it is also the home of Booth Tarkington, 
one of America's best-known novelists. Recently the city has 
been made the headquarters of the American Legion, to house 
which a magnificent building is to be erected. 

Just east of Plainfield and a few miles southwest of Indiana- 
polis, beside the National Road stands the Van Buren Elm. 
Van Buren while President of the United States vetoed a bill 
for highway improvements. Later, while making a western 
tour, he traveled through Indiana by stage coach along the 
National Road. At this point the stage with its distinguished 
occupant was overturned in a mud-hole — purposely, it is said, 
by the driver, who wished thereby to impress his passenger 
with a sense of the need for internal improvements. 

Greenfield, Hancock County, is distinguished as the birth- 
place of James Whitcomb Riley. In front of the courthouse 
stands a monument to the poet, the gift of the school-children 
of America. 

II. Terre Haute: 

Here Governor Harrison in 18 11 paused in his northward 
march to Tippecanoe to build the fortified stockade which 
was named in his honor. Fort Harrison. Its second commander 

263 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 



was Major Zachary Taylor, who on the night of September 4, 
18 12 beat off a furious Indian assault, and for his conduct was 
recommended by Harrison for promotion to the rank of 
brevet major. When Taylor succeeded in getting a messenger 
through to Vincennes informing Harrison of his plight a 
formidable expedition was sent under General Hopkins to his 
relief. It was to continue to Peoria to chastise the savages in 
that section, but due to insubordination and mismanagement 
it failed to accomplish this object. Fort Harrison continued 
an important military station until after the close of the war. 
It is a curious fact that its first two commanders each became 
president of the United States, and each died in his term of 
office. 
12. Vincennes: 

Perhaps greater historical interest attaches to Vincennes 
than to any other place in Indiana. Post Vincennes, estab- 
lished by the French early in the eighteenth century, was for 
two generations one of the most important outposts of France 
in the Mississippi Valley. A considerable town, second only 
to Detroit and the French settlements of the Illinois, devel- 
oped. In the Revolutionary War, Vincennes was the objective 
of George Rogers Clark's famous campaign across Illinois in 
the winter of 1778-79, as it had been but a short time before of 
Governor Hamilton's campaign from Detroit. With the 
establishment of Indiana Territory Vincennes became the 
capital, and here Governor William Henry Harrison lived 
during his long and notable administration. The fine brick 
residence which he built in 1804 still stands. From Vincennes 
Harrison carried on his long contest with Tecumseh, and from 
here in the autumn of 181 1 he led forth the army which fought 
the battle of Tippecanoe. Fort Knox was established at 
Vincennes for the protection of this portion of the frontier. 
For a time before the War of 18 12 it was commanded by 
Zachary Taylor, who shortly after won deserved distinction 
by his heroic defense of Fort Harrison. The military impor- 
tance of Vincennes vanished with the advance of the frontier 

264 



POINTS IN INDIANA AND MICHIGAN 

and the breaking of the Indian power as a result of the War 
of i8i2; its political importance was likewise dissipated by 
the removal of the capital to Corydon and (later) to Indiana- 
polis. 



265 



INDEX 



ABBOTT, J. S., builder of Concord 

coaches, 154. 
AUouez, Father Claude J., mission- 
ary activities of, 258. 
American Fur Company, trading 

post, at Prairie Du Chien, 236. 
Ankeney, John, pioneer tavern 

keeper, 181-82. 
Appleby, John F., invents self- 

knotter; 227, 
Apple River Fort, attack on, 239. 
Armstrong, Duff, Abraham Lincoln 

defends, 252, 
Armstrong, Mrs. Elizabeth, heroine 

of Apple River battle, 239. 
Army Trail, origin of, 95-96. 
Aztalan, Indian earthworks at, 228. 

BAD axe, battle of, 235. 
Baraboo, and vicinity, historical 

guide to, 232-33. 
Barry's Point, road, described, 125- 

26; improved, 127-29, 
Battles, Fallen Timbers, 15; Butte 

DesMorts, 22i;Pecatonica,238; 

near Kellogg's Grove, 239-40; 

Stillman's Run, 240-41; near 

Piano, 245; Rock Island, 248; 

Harmar's defeat, 258; St. Clair's 

defeat, 258-59; Kenapacoma- 

qua, 260; Mississinewa, 260; 

Tippecanoe, 261-62. See also 

Forts. 
Beardstown, historical associations, 

252. 
Beaubien, Mark, operates ferry at 

Chicago, 186. 
Beaver Island, Mormon kingdom 

on, 226. 
Bedbugs, prevalence explained, 171- 

Bellefontaine, Fort, established, 15. 
Belmont, first capital of Wisconsin, 
236. 



Beloit, and vicinity, historical guide 

to, 227. 
Belvidere, route via, 94. 
Bertrand, historical associations, 

257. 
Bickerdyke, "Mother," memorial 

to, 250-51. 
Big Foot, village of, 225. 
Bingham, Helen, describes pioneer 

peddler, 152-53. 
Bishop Hill, communistic colony. 

Black Cicely, slave girl at Chicago, 

55- 

Black Hawk, stage overturns, 165; 
route of retreat, 228-29; village, 
247. 

Black Hawk War, panic at Chi- 
cago, 20-21 ; results for Chicago, 
21-22; commercial consequen- 
ces, 91-92; General Scott in, 
94-95; Wisconsin Heights bat- 
tle, 230; Bad Axe, 235; Peca- 
tonica, 238; Apple River Fort, 
239; Kellogg's Grove, battles, 
239-40; Stillman's Run, 240-41 ; 
operations around Dixon, 241; 
Indian Creek massacre, 246; 
operations at Prophetstown, 
247. 

Black Hawk's Watch Tower, 248. 

Black Swamp, described, 38. 

Blake, Fletcher, founder of Rock- 
ford, 93-94. 

Blanchardville, historical associa- 
tions, 237. 

Bloomingdale, founded, 96-97. 

Blue Mound, historical associations, 

Boiseley, early mail carrier on Green 
Bay Trail, 109. 

Boles, John, changes route of Kel- 
logg Trail, 1 00-101. 



267 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 



Boyd, Belle, Confederate spy, grave, 

^33- 

Boyd, Charles S., founder of Boyd's 
Grove, 1 02. 

Boyd's Grove, founded, 102, 

Bridges, across Calumet, 46; lack 
of, 186; first at Chicago, 186-87; 
dangers from, 187-88. 

Brigham, Ebenezer, first settler of 
Dane County, 230. 

Bronson, Arthur, on future of Chi- 
cago, 12-13; rs^l estate specu- 
lation, 26. 

Brown, Joseph, founds Hickory 
Creek settlement, 57. 

Brunson, Rev. Alfred, describes 
Hoosier plows, 151. 

Bryant, Wm. Cullen, travels in 
Illinois, 79-81; at Jacksonville, 
170. 

Buckingham, J. S., describes visit 
to Chicago, 125-27. 

Buffalo, as port of embarkation, 
34; travel via, 42-43. 

Buffalo, trails, become highways, 
38. 

Buffalo Trace, route of, 53. 

Bull, Ole, home at Madison, 229. 

Bunkum, Old, fur trade station, 59. 

Burlington, Mormon holy city 
near, 225. 

Burnet, Ellsworth, murdered, in. 

Butte Des Morts, tradition of bat- 
tle, 221. 

Butler, Charles, on future of Chi- 
cago, II-I2; real estate specu- 
lations, 26. 

CALHOUN, John C, favors canal 
at Chicago, 16. 

Calumet River, passage of, 45-46; 
bridge, described, 46. 

Campbell, John, leader of Regula- 
tors, murdered, 194. 

Campbell, Colonel John, victor of 
Mississinewa, 260, 

Campbell, Captain John, defeat of, 
at Campbell's Island, 248. 

Campbell's Island, battle, 248. 

Camp Douglas, Confederate prison, 
243-44- 



Canada, plank-road era in, 130. 
Canals, Illinois and Michigan, built, 

15-17; travel on, 85-86. 
Cannon, Joseph, home at Danville, 

255- 
Carcajou Point, site of White Crow's 

village, 228. 

Carthage, in Mormon war, 251. 

Cartwright, Peter W., pioneer prea- 
cher, 102-103. 

Carver, Jonathan, describes Sauk 
Indian town, 233. 

Cass, Governor Lewis, negotiates 
treaty at Chicago, 75. 

Caton, Judge John D., drives stage, 

Cave-in-Rock, rendezvous of river 

pirates, 66. 
Ceresco, communistic colony, 221. 
Chambers, Isaac, tavern keeper, 

181-82. 
Chase, Horace, early Milwaukee 

settler, 1 12-13. 
Chemin River, at Michigan City, 

39; 

Chetlain, General Augustus L., 
describes early Galena, 89. 

Chicago, birth, 11-28; natural sur- 
roundings, II-I2; commercial 
advantages, 12-13; importance 
of highway systems, 14-28; 
Indians cede land at, 15; canal 
commission plats, 17-18; Indian 
murders, 17; street names, 18; 
land sale, 19-20; becomes 
county seat, 20; in Black Hawk 
War, 20-21; harbor appropria- 
tion, 22-23; incorporated as vil- 
lage, 23; as city, 27; first elec- 
tion, 23,178; sale of school 
section, 24; ferry established, 
27; emigration to, from east, 
29-50; first steamboats, 36; 
harbor begun, 36; early ship- 
ping, 36-37; stage line reaches, 
42; becomes voting precinct, 
57; trade with Wabash, 66-67; 
Daniel Webster visits, 81-82; 
first surgical operation, iio-ii; 
plank road system ^ 1 22-37 j 



268 



INDEX 



built, 131-34; condition of 
early highways, 124-26; im- 
provement of, 127-29; com- 
merce, 138-53; first theatrical 
troupe, 138; stage lines tribu- 
tary to, 161-62; historical guide 
to, 242-44. 

Chicago Portage, importance, 14; 
canal across, 15-16; difficulty of 
passing, 58; abandoned, 59; 
described, 72-73; St. Cosme's 
party crosses, 74. 

Chicago River, described, 11-12; 
reversed, 14; ferry, 186; bridge, 
. 186-87. 

Chicago Road, history, 37-50; Con- 
gress authorizes, 39; survey, 
40-41; sinuosity explained, 40; 
route described, 40-41; stages 
on, 41-46; narrative of Harriet 
Martineau, 43-44; of Charles 
Fenno Hoffman, 45; at Ber- 
trand, 257. 

Chicago Road (in Indiana), affluent 
of Vincennes Trace, 69. 

Chicago Temperance House, resort 
of teamsters, 146. 

Chippewa Indians, sign treaty at 
Chicago, 75. 

Cholera, Asiatic, at Chicago, 21, 

94-95- 
Clark, Fort, at Peoria, 254. 
Clark, George Rogers, campaign, 

51-52. 
Clay, Henry, stage overturns, 165. 
Cleanliness, absence, in pioneer era, 

207, 
Clyman, Captain James, shot, in. 
Commerce, of Chicago, 138-53. 
Concord coaches, history sketched, 

154-55- 

Conestoga wagons, described, 141- 
42. See also Hoosiers. 

Cook County, organized, 20; first 
voting precincts, 57; first high- 
ways, 57-58. 

Cornishmen, in lead mines, 88. 

Craig, Captain, burns Peoria, 106. 

Crawford, Fort, established, 106; 
history sketched, 235. 



Crawfordsville, land sales, 55-56; 

historical associations, 262. 
Credit Island, battle, 248. 
Creve Coeur, Fort, built, 254. 
Crime, prevalence in pioneer period, 

188-92; kinds described, 189- 

204; apprehension of, 190-91; 

career of Driscoll gang, 192-96. 
Cushing Brothers, memorial to, 223. 

DANCES, in taverns, 178-80. 

Dangers, of highway travel, 183- 
204; from stages overturning, 
183-84; horses running away, 
183-84; unbridged streams, 45- 
46, 184; anecdote of, 185-86; 
from bridges, 187-88, 208-09, 
212; criminals, 191-204. 

Danville, salt springs, 54; founded, 
56; trading station, 59-60; in 
Winnebago War, 61-63; his- 
torical associations, 255. 

Dauphin, Lost, story of, 218. 

Davenport, George, trader at Fever 
River, 88. 

Davenport, historical associations, 
103. 

Davis, Jefferson, at Dixon, 103; 
Fort Atkinson, 227; battle of 
Wisconsin Heights, 231. 

Diseases, prevalence of, 209. 

Dixon, John, career, 102-103. 

Dixon, route via, 91, 95, loo-ioi; 
ferry established, 101-102; his- 
torical associations, 241. 

Dearborn, Fort, constructed 15, 
17; massacre, 55, 117; site 
marked, 243. 

Delafield, historical associations, 
222. 

Dells, of Wisconsin, legend, 233; 
Black Hawk captured, 235. 

Depere, Jesuit mission, 217. 

Des Plaines River, valley settled, 
57; as fur trade highway, 58. 

Devil's Lake State Park, 232-33. 

Dodge, General Henry, home near 
Dodgeville, 236; victor of Peca- 
tonica, 238. 

Dole, George W., erects first frame 
building in Chicago, 22. 



269 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 



Doty, Governor James D., career, 

220. 
Doty, Elisha, describes early Dixon, 

102. 
Doty's Island, Indian village site, 

220. 
Douglas, Senator Stephen A., tomb, 

at Chicago, 243; monument, at 

Springfield, 253; debates with 

Lincoln, 240, 249, 252; at 

Oquawka, 250. 
Dowie, John A., religious prophet, 

242. 
Downing, Lewis, builder of Concord 

coaches, 154. 
DriscoU Gang, activities of, 192-96. 
Drovers, experiences of, 149-50. 
Dubuque, Julien, trading activities, 

87. 
Duncklee, Hezekiah, founder of 

Bloomingdale, 96. 
Dutch, colony at Little Chute, 220. 

EDWARD, Augustus, Fort, estab- 
lished, 217. 

Elgin, route via, 94; founded, 97; 
stages reach, 98. 

Elizabeth, historical associations, 

Ellet, Mrs., describes journey m 

Illinois, 165-67. 
Elston Road, origin, 107. 
English Settlement, story of church, 

226. 
Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad, early 

history, 47-50. 
Erie Canal, as highway, 21. 
Executions, of Indian murderers, 

112, 219. 

FALLEN Timbers, battle, 15. 

Ferries, at Dixon, 91, 101-102; li- 
censed, 186; rates, 186. 

Fever River, early mining activities, 
87-88. 

Flat Boats, in river commerce, 
65-66. 

Flies, prevalence explained, 172-73. 

Forts, chain of, 15; at Green Bay, 
217; Wiota, 238; attack on 
Apple River, 239; at Dixon, 



241; St. Louis, 246; Edwards, 
251; Creve Coeur, 254; Clark, 
254; St. Joseph, 257-58; Wayne, 
259; Recovery, 259; Ouiatanon, 
261; Harrison, 263-64; Knox, 
264. 

Fort Atkinson, and vicinity, histor- 
ical guide to, 227-28. 

Fort Wayne, historical associations, 
258-59. 

Fonda, John H., early mail carrier 
on Green Bay Trail, 108-10. 

Fond du Lac, early, described, 117. 

Fourier, Frangois M., disciples of, 
establish communistic colony 
at Ripon, 221. 

Fourth of July celebrations, 97, 178. 

Fox Indians, destruction of, 54-55. 

Freeport, Winnebago village site, 
240. 

French, discover lead mines, 87; 
destroy Foxes, 54-55; battles 
with Indians, 218, 221. 

French Train, 106. 

Friend, Aaron, founder of Hickory 
Creek settlement, 57. 

Frink, John, operates stage lines, 
157-61. 

Frink and Walker, firm established, 
79; stage line to Rockford, 98. 

Fuller, Margaret, at Oregon, 240. 

Fullersburg, pioneer tavern, 244. 

Furs, Chicago market for, 140. 

GALE, Edwin O., describes Whiskey 
Point Road, 125; Barry's Point 
Road, 129. 

Gale, Zona, home, at Portage, 232. 

Galena, early history, 87-91; and 
vicinity, historical guide to, 

^39- 

Galesburg, historical associations, 
249-50. 

Gambling, on Illinois river boats, 
83. 

Garland, Hamlin, home, at West 
Salem, 234. 

Gatewood, cut-throat, 198. 

Genesee Turnpike, highway to Chi- 
cago, 33-37. 



270 



INDEX 



Gifford, Hezekiah, founder of Elgin, 

97- 

Gifford, James, founder of Elgin, 97. 

Ginseng, traffic in, 153. 

Glory of the Morning, village of, 
220. 

Grand De Tour, historical associa- 
tions, 241. 

Grant, General U. S. home, at 
Galena, 239. 

Great Lakes, pioneer travel on, 

34-37- 
Greenfield, birthplace of James 

Whitcomb Riley, 263. 
Greenville, treaty, land cessions in. 

Green Bay, history, 105-106; and 
vicinity, historical guide to, 
217-19. 

Green Bay Road, history, 105-21; 
early mail carriers, 108-10; 
character of traffic, 1 17-19; 
first stages, 119-20. 

Green Bay Trail, route, 38. 

Griffin, first sailboat on Lake Mich- 
igan, 34-35. 

Guardian Angel, mission of, at Chi- 
cago, 73, 242. 

HAMILTON, Governor Henry, 

captures Vincennes, 52. 

Hamilton, Wm. S., son of Alexan- 
der, 169-70; at Wiota, 238. 

Harbors, at Chicago, 22-23, 3^- 

Harding, Indian massacre near, 246. 

Harmar, General Josiah, campaign 
of, to Fort Wayne, 258. 

Harmon, Dr. Elijah, performs first 
surgical operation at Chicago, 

IIO-II. 

Harrison, Benjamin, statue, at In- 
dianapolis, 262. 

Harrison, Wm. Henry, defeats Te- 
cumseh, 53; rivalry with, 261; 
home, at Vincennes, 264. 

Harrison, Fort, at Terre Haute, 
263-64. 

Hay, John, home, at Warsaw, 251. 

Hazel Green, home of James G. 
Percival, 238. 



Heald, Captain Nathan, commands 
Fort Dearborn, 17; brings bride 
to, 55. 

Heald, Rebekah, bridal journey, 55. 

Heg, Colonel Hans, memorial to, 
224. 

Hesk, Wm. R., opens road to Fond 
du Lac, 116. 

Hickory Creek, settlement on 57; 
highway to, from Chicago, 58. 

Highways, importance of, to Chi- 
cago, 14, 27; condition, at dif- 
ferent seasons, 29-32; military, 
39, 1 12-13; dangers of travel, 
183-204; commerce, 138-53. 

Hill, Dr., travels in Illinois, 200-204. 

Hillsdale, terminus of railroad, 50. 

Hinton, General, operates stage 
lines, 158-61. 

Hoard, Governor Wm. D., mem- 
orial to, at Madison, 229. 

Hoffman, Charles Fenno, travels 
Chicago Road, 45; in Illinois, 
77-78. 

Hogs, driven to Chicago market, 

^49; 

Holy Hill, religious shrine, 223. 

Honnonegah, wife of Stephen Mack, 
92-93, 241. 

Hoosiers, haul products to Chicago, 
66-71; wagons, described, 141- 
43; in lead mines, 150; as 
plowmen, 1 51-52. 

Horse stealing, prevalence of, 189, 
192. 

Howard, Fort, established, 105-106, 
217. 

Hubbard, Gurdon S., career, 58-65; 
ride to Danville, 61-62; rela- 
tions with Watseka, 63-64. 

Hubbard Trail, identity with Vin- 
cennes Trace, 60. 

ICARIA, communistic colony, 250- 

Illinois, admitted to statehood, 16; 
northern boundary, 16; Black 
Hawk War advertises, 22; his- 
torical guide to, 239-55. 

Illinois and Michigan Canal, pro- 
jected, 15-17; stage overturned 



271 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 



in, 80; changes produced by 

opening of, 84-85; travel on, 

described, 85-86. 
Illinois River, navigation, 73; travel 

on, described, 82-84, 206. 
Indians, cede land in Illinois, 15, 16; 

in Fort Dearborn massacre, 55; 

leave Indiana, 55; marriage 

with whites, 63-65; 92-93, loi; 

tradition concerning Watseka, 

65; work lead mines, 87-88; 

murders by, 111-12. 
Indian Creek Massacre, 246. 
Indiana, highways across, 33-34; 

Territory organized, 52; tide of 

settlement, 56; historical guide 

to, 256-65. 
Indianapolis, founded, 55; historical 

associations, 262-63. 
Iroquois, trading post, 255. 
Iroquois County, settlers locate in, 

57- 

JACKSON, President Andrew, or- 
ders Scott to end Black Hawk 
War, 94, 

Jalapa, historical associations, 260. 

Jansen, Eric, founds communistic 
colony at Bishop Hill, 249. 

Jo Daviess County, organized, 89. 

Johnstown, birthplace of Ella 
Wheeler Wilcox, 227. 

Joliet, route via, 79. 

Jolliet, Louis, proposes canal at 
Chicago, 15; at Green Bay, 105; 
monument at Portage, 231. 

Jumper, described, 106. 

Juneau, Solomon, "Father" of Mil- 
waukee, 225. 

KANKAKEE City, boom town, 

25-26. 
Kellogg, Oliver W., lays out trail, 

89, ICXD. 

Kellogg's Grove, battles near, 239- 
40. 

Kellogg Trail, use of, 89, 95; history, 
100-104; rivalry of tavern keep- 
ers, 181-82. 

Kemper, Bishop Jackson, early visit 
to Milwaukee, described, 114. 



Kent, Germanicus, founder of Rock- 
ford, 93-94. 
Ketaukah, Indian murderer, 112. 
Kilbourn, historical associations, 

Kingsbury, Colonel Jacob, leads 
troops by Chicago, 15. 

Kinzie, John, heirs enter land at 
Chicago, 18-20. 

Kinzie, John H, Indian agent at 
Portage, 231. 

Kinzie, Mrs. Juliette, author of 
PTau Bun, 57; describes sleep- 
ing accommodations, 169-70; 
life at Fort Winnebago, 231. 

Kinzie, Robert, enters land at 
Chicago, 18-20. 

Knox County, organized, 52. 

Knox, Fort, at Vincennes, 264. 

LA BAYE, French name for 

Green Bay, 105. 
La Crosse, and vicinity, historical 

guide to, 234. 

Lafayette, and vicinity, historical 

associations, 260-62 
La Follette, Hon. Robert M., home, 

at Madison, 229; birthplace. 

Lake Geneva, historical guide to, 

225-26. 
Land, speculation in, 24-26; sales in 

Indiana, 55-56; Indians cede, 

75- , 

Lane, John, plowmaker, 151. 

Langlade, Augustin, home of, at 
Green Bay, 218. 

Langlade, Charles, home of, at 
Green Bay, 218. 

Lapham, Dr. Increase A, travels 
Green Bay Road, 1 16-17; mem- 
orials to, 223, 225. 

Lapham Peak, 223. 

La Plaissance Bay Road, 34. 

La Salle, Robert Rene', sailboat on 
Great Lakes, 34-35; on Sauk 
Trail, 39; builds forts, 246, 254; 
at Chicago, 242. 

Lawton, Barney, Indian trader, 76. 

Lawton, General Henry W., mem- 
orials to, 259, 262. 



272 



i 



INDEX 



Lead mines, highways to, 87-104; 
early history, 87-90; teaming 
business of, 150-51. 

Leslie, first capital of Wisconsin, 
236. 

Levasseur, Noel, marries Watseka, 
64-65. 

Lincoln, Abraham, at Dixon, 103; 
Fort Atkinson, 227, statues, 
229, 244; debates with Douglas 
240, 249, 252; at Oquawka, 
250; associations, at Spring- 
field, 253; in Armstrong murder 
trial, 252; at Metamora, 255; 
replica of birthplace, 259. 

Liquor, drinking, I40, 146-47; 
schedule of prices, 174. 

Little Chute, historical associations, 
220. 

Little Turtle, grave, at Fort Wayne, 
259. 

Livestock, Chicago market for, 138- 
39, 141, 147, 149-50- 

Logansport, historical associations, 
260. 

Long, John captain of Regulators, 
194. 

Louisiana, purchase, 15. 

Low, Samuel J., Cook County sheriff, 
192, 

Ludlow, Noah M., travel experi- 
ences, 185. 

Ludlow, — pioneer peddler, 152-53. 

Lumber, western market for, 139- 
40. 

Lynching clubs, activities, 193-96. 

MARQUETTE, Father Jacques, 
French missionary, at Green 
Bay, 105; Depere, 217; legend 
of Holy Hill, 223; monuments, 
231, 236; at Chicago, 242. 

Mack, Stephen, Rock River trader, 
92-93; at Grand De Tour, 241. 

Mackstown, founded, 93. 

Madison, Dr, Wm. S., murder of, 
111-12, 219. 

Madison, and vicinity, historical 
guide to, 228-31. 



Mails, carriage of, on Green Bay 

Trail, 108-10, 116; competition 

for contracts, 157-61. 
Manitowoc, and vicinity, historical 

guide to, 219-20. 
Manitowoc Rapids, Indian village 

site, 219. 
Maramech, ancient, site of, near 

Piano, 245. 
Martineau, Harriet, experiences on 

Chicago Road, 43-44. 
Mason, Richard Lee, describes tav- 
ern experience, 176, travels, 

in Illinois, 196-204. 
Meacham's Grove, early name for 

Bloomingdale, 94, 97. 
Meals, described, 99; at taverns, 

99-100, 173-77; ^t private 

homes, 207, 209, 215. 
Metamora, historical associations, 

Miamitown, fur trade settlement, 

258. 
Michigan, historical guide to, 256- 

. ^5. . . . 

Michigan City, historical associa- 
tions, 256. 
Michigan Road, as highway to Chi- 
cago, 33. 

Michigan Southern Railroad, built, 

49-50. 
Midway, early name for Rockford, 

94. 

Milburn, Wm. H., bridal tour, 
205-16. 

Milwaukee, early, described, 114- 
15; historical associations, 225. 

Milwaukee Road, origin of, 107. 

Mineral Point, and vicinity, his- 
torical guide to, 236-37. 

Missionaries, early French, 73-74, 
217, 258; speculate in land, 1 14. 

Mississinewa, battle, 260. 

Mississippi, decadence of, as trade 
route, 90-91. 

Monroe, route via, 34, 37. 

Montgomery, Colonel, invades Sauk 
towns, 248. 



273 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 



Mormons, at Burlington, 225; Beav- 
er Island, 226; colony near La 
Crosse, 234; Zarahemla, 237; 
Nauvoo, 250-51. 

Morrison, Mrs., tavern experiences 
described, 179-80, 191. 

Mud Lake, passage of, 58. 

Mukwonego, historical associations, 
224. 

Muir, John, boyhood home, 232. 

NACHUSA, Indian name for John 
Dixon, 103. 

Naperville, routes via, 78; as center 
of travel, 79; historical associa- 
tions, 244. 

Nauvoo, and vicinity, historical 
guide to, 250-51. 

Nelson Dewey State Park, at 
Prairie Du Chien, 236. 

New Glarus, seat of Swiss colony, 
237. 

New Salem, early home of Abra- 
ham Lincoln, 252-53. 

New York, plank road craze, 130. 

Nicholson, Meredith, home, at 
Crawfordsville, 262. 

Nicolet, Jean, discoverer of Wis- 
consin, 105, 218, 220. 

Niles, as focus of trails, 38; stage 
line reaches, 41 ; historical asso- 
ciations, 257-58. 

OGEE, Joe, ferryman at Dixon, 

101-102. 
Ogee's Ferry, early name for Dixon, 

91. 
Ohio Stage Company, General Hin- 

ton's connection with, 158, 

160-61. 
Old Salem Park, 253. 
Olson, Jonas, founder of commun- 
istic colony at Bishop Hill, 249. 
Oneida, Indian cemetery, 219. 
Oquawka, historical associations, 

250. 
Oregon, and vicinity, historical 

associations, 240-41. 
Oshkosh, historical guide to, 221. 



Ottawa, canal commission plats, 
17; road to, 72-86; head of 
Illinois River navigation, 73. 

Ottawa Indians, sign Chicago 
Treaty, 75. 

Ouiatanon, Fort, established, 261. 

Owen, Robert Dale, advocates plank 
roads, 123-24. 

PANIC, of 1837, 24. 

Pare aux Vaches, trails focus at, 38. 

Parker, Amos A., travels of, in 

West, 42-43. 
Pecatonica, battle, 238. 
Peddlers, pioneer, calling described, 

15^-53; murdered, 192. 
Peerish, guides Governor Cass to 

Chicago, 75. 
Peoria, early, described, 75; and 

vicinity, historical associations, 

254-55- 
Percival, James G., home, at Hazel 

Green, 238. 
Perrot, Nicolas, trader, 234; Perrot 

State Park, at Trempealeau, 

234; 

Peru, head of steamboat naviga- 
tion, 73; William Cullen Bryant 
visits, 81. 

Petersburg, historical associations, 
252-53. 

Pinet, Father, at Chicago, 73, 242. 

Pirates, in western rivers, 66. 

Plainfield, early settlement, 76-77. 

Plainfield, story of Van Buren Elm, 
263. 

Plank roads, origin, 129-30; sys- 
tem, at Chicago, 131-34; de- 
cline, 134-37. 

Piano, and vicinity, historical asso- 
ciations, 245-46. 

Plows, prairie, described, 151-52. 

Portage, and vicinity, historical 
guide to, 231-32. 

Potawatomi, Indians, treaty at Chi- 
cago, 23-24, 75, 96; trail to 
Ottawa, 75. 

Potawatomi Trail, route, 54; afflu- 
ent of Vincennes Trace, 69. 



I 



274 



INDEX 



Potter, John F., duel with Roger 
Pryor, 224. 

Potter's Lake, 224. 

Prairies, described, 99-100; com- 
merce of, 138-53; breaking, 

Prairie du Sac, Indian village site, 

.^33- 

Prairie du Chien, historical associa- 
_ tions, 235-36. 

Prairie Loo, game, 77-78. 

Preachers, pioneer, entertained, 207- 
08; prejudice against eastern 
men, 210-11; discussions, 215. 

Preemption House, pioneer tavern, 
79; 244. 

Profanity, of stage drivers, 167; of 
western men, 169. 

Prophetstown, historical associa- 
tions, 247. 

QUINCY, historical associations, 

252. 

RAILROADS, early, in Michigan, 

47-50; destroy prosperity of 

Galena, 89-90. 
Red Banks, historical associations, 

218. 
Regulators, activities of, 192-96. 
Republican Party, birthplace, at 

Ripon, 221-22. 
Riley, James Whitcomb, birthplace, 

263; home, at Indianapolis, 263. 
Ringling Brothers, headquarters, at 

Baraboo, 232 
Ripon, historical associations, 221- 

22. 
Riverside, Barney Lawton at, 76; 

Scott's army at, 95. 
Rochester, historical associations, 

259-60. 
Rockford, founded, 93-94; stages 

reach, 98. 
Rock Island, historical guide to, 

247-49. 
Rooker, Samuel S., tavern-sign 

painter, 180. 
Rutherford, cut-throat, 199-203 
Rutledge, Ann, sweetheart of Abra- 
ham Lincoln, 253. 



SABLE, Baptiste Point du, fur 
trader, 256. 

St. Clair, General Arthur, defeat of, 
258-59. 

St. Cosme, Father, travels of, in 
Illinois, 73-74. 

St. Joseph, Fort, 257-58. 

St. Joseph Portage, route of, 256-57. 

St. Nanzianz, historical associa- 
tions, 219-20. 

Salt, Vermilion River deposits, 54, 
70-71. 

Sandbar, at mouth of Chicago River, 
II, 23; of Calumet, 45-46. 

Sauganash Hotel, scene of first thea- 
trical performance, 178. 

Sauk City, Indian village site, 233. 

Sauk Trail, precursor of Chicago 
Road, 38-39; route, in Indiana, 
256. 

Sawyers, defined, 30. 

Schools, land sold, 24. 

Schoolcraft, Henry R., describes 
Sauk Trail, 39; journey of 
Governor Cass to Chicago, 75. 

Scott, General Charles, campaign 
against Wea towns, 261. 

Scott, Captain Martin, builds mili- 
tary road, 113. 

Scott, General Winfield S., directs 
speculators to Chicago, 13; 
in Black Hawk War, 21, 36, 

94-95> 103- 

Settlers, routes of, to West, 29-50; 
advice to, 29-32; pour into 
western Indiana, ^6; into Illi- 
nois, 56-57. 

Shabbona, career, 245-46. 

Shabbona's Grove, 245. 

Shabbona State Park, 246. 

Shull, Jesse, locates on Fever River, 
88. 

Skenandore, Nancy, Indian nurse, 
grave, 219. 

Slaves, at Chicago, S5i on Illinois 
river boat, 83. 

Sleeping accommodations, on canal 
boat, 86; in frontier homes, 
169-70, 214-15; in taverns, 
170-71. 



275 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 



Smith, Joseph, Mormon prophet, 

at Nauvoo, 250-51. 
Snyder, Captain Adam, battles of, 

with Indians, 240. 
Soulard, J. G., sends first lead to 

Chicago, 91. 
South Bend, and vicinity, historical 

guide to, 256-58. _ 
Speculation, at Chicago, 24-27; 

Milwaukee, 114. 
Springfield, historical associations, 

253-54- 

Stages, on Chicago Road, 41-46; 
reach Chicago, 42; first line 
west of Chicago, 76-78; de- 
scribed, 80; overturned, 80-81, 
164-65, 183-84; on Green Bay 
Road, 1 1 9-21; story of Con- 
cord coach, 154-56; impor- 
tance of drivers, 155-56; Frink 
and Walker lines, 157-61; de- 
velopment of, in Chicago re- 
gion, 161-62; rates of fare, 162; 
vicissitudes of travel, 162-67; 
profanity of drivers, 167; dan- 
gers of travel, 183-204. 

Starved Rock, historical associa- 
tions, 246-47. 

State roads, Vincennes to Chicago, 
69; Indianapolis to Illinois 
line, 69; Chicago to Galena, 

State Street, in Chicago, 58-60; 
Belvidere, 94; Rockford, 94. 

Steamboats, on Great Lakes, 35- 
37; on Illinois River, 82-84. 

Steele, Mrs. Eliza, travels of, in 
Illinois, 82-83; explains west- 
ern customs, 177. 

Steward, John F. identifies ancient 
Maramech, 245. 

Stillman, Major, defeat, 240-41. 

Stockbridge Indians, locate in Wis- 
consin, 219. 

Strang, James J., Mormon prophet, 
founds city near Burlington, 
225-26; establishes kingdom, 
226. 

Strode, Colonel James, Galena law- 
yer, 102. 



Strong, Moses, experiences on stage 

journey, 163-64. 
"Suckers," origin of name, 150-51. 
Swamp, at Chicago, 12; Black, 

described, 38. 
Swiss, Colony in Green County, 237. 

Sydenham, Lord, introduces plank 
roads mto America, 130. 

TAMIN, uncle of Watseka, 64. 

Tarkington, Booth, home, at In- 
dianapolis, 263. 

Taverns, on Vincennes Trace, 70; 
Preemption House, 79, 244; 
meals, 99-100, 173-77; at Dixon 
102-103; Chicago Temperance 
House, 146; teamsters patron- 
ize, 146-47, 149; and tavern 
life, described, 168-82; signs, 
180-81; resorts for criminals, 
190-91. 

Taylor, Mrs. Oscar, travels of, in 
Illinois, 99-100. 

Taylor, Major Zachary, at Dixon, 
103; at Prairie du Chien, 235; 
Rock Island, 248; builds Fort 
Edwards, 251; defends Fort 
Harrison, 264. 

Teamsters, device for crossing river, 
98, 147-48; annual migration to 
lead mines, 103-104; pride of, 
in wagons, 142-43; mutual aid 
given, 144; life of, on road, 
144-49. 

Tecumseh, establishes Indian Uto- 
pia, 52-53; rivalry with Gov- 
ernor Harrison, 261. 

Temple, Dr. John L., establishes 
stage line, 76. 

Terre Haute, founded, 55; historical 
associations, 263-64. 

Territorial Road, described, 34. 

Thompson, James, plats Chicago, 
17-18, 28. 

Thompson, Maurice, home, at 
Crawfordsville, 262. 

Three Oaks, historical museum, 256. 

Tippecanoe, battles, 261-62. 

Tolls, on plank roads, 131, 135-36. 



276 



INDEX 



Trails, as precursors of highways, 
38, 53-55> 89, 95, 96, 105; from 
Chicago to Dixon, 95; Peoria to 
Galena, 89; Chicago to Beloit, 
96; Green Bay, 106- 108. 

Trempealeau Mountain, historical 
associations, 234. 

UNION, Fort, 237. 

VALPARAISO, historical associa- 
tions, 256. 

Van Den Broek, Father, founds 
Dutch settlement, 220. 

Van Buren Elm, story of, 263. 

Vermilion River, salt deposits, 54, 
56, 69-70; crossing of, by 
Danville militia, 62-63, 

Victory, battle of Bad Axe near, 235, 

Vieau, Andrew J., describes Green 
Bay Trail, 105. 

Vilas, Colonel Wm. F., home, at 
Madison, 229. 

Vincennes, history, 51-53; historical 
associations, 264-65. 

Vincennes Trace, history, 51-71. 

Voree, Mormon holy city, 225-26. 

WABASH River, commerce of, 

65-67. 
Wagons, Hoosier, described, 67-69; 

Conestoga, 141-42; use of, on 
prairies, 141-48. 
Walker, James, founder of Walker's 

Grove, 58,76. 
Walker, , operates stage lines, 

157-61. 
Walker's Grove, early name for 

Plainfield, 58,76. 
Walk-in-the-Water^ first steamboat 

on Lake Erie, 35-36. 
Wallace, General Lew, home, at 

Crawfordsville, 262. 
Warsaw, historical associations, 251. 
Watseka, Indian girl, story of, 63- 

65. 
W^atseka, fur trade station near, 59; 

historical associations, 255. 
Waukesha, and vicinity, historical 

guide to, 222-24. 



Waumegesago, Chief of Manitowoc 

Rapids, 219. 
Wayne, General Anthony, gains 

land cessions, 15, 16. 
Webster, Daniel, plans to live in 

Illinois, 81; Chicago visit of, 

81-82. 
West Salem, home of Hamlin Gar- 
land, 234. 
Wheat, hauled to Chicago, 145-46. 
Whiskey, ration for soldiers, 62; 

drinking of, 63, 65. See also 

Liquor. 
Whiskey Point Road, described. 

White, Horace, memorial to, 227. 

White Crow, village site, 228; ran- 
soms captives, 246. 

Wilcox, Ella Wheeler, birthplace, 
227; early home, 230. 

Wilkinson, General James, cam- 
paign against Eel River towns, 
260. 

Wight, Lyman, founds Mormon 
colony, 234. 

Williams, Rev. Eleazer, home, at 
Little Rapids, 218. 

Wind Lake, first Norwegian news- 
paper published at, 224. 

Winnebago, Fort, established, 106, 
231. 

Winnebago, Lake, and vicinity, his- 
torical guide to, 220-21. 

Winnebago War, Chicago's part in, 
61-63. 

Winneshiek, village of, at Freeport, 

240. 
Winters, John D., runs stage line, 

98. 
Wiota, historical associations, 238. 
Wisconsin, historical guide to, 217- 

38. _ 
Wisconsin Heights, battle-ground, 

230. 
Wood, Governor John, home, at 

Quincy, 252. 

Wright, John S., real estate specu- 
lations, 26. 



277 



CHICAGO'S HIGHWAYS — OLD AND NEW 

YANKEES, wagons, described, 141 Yerkes Observatory, 225. 

143-44. Young, Brigham, home, at Nauvoo, 
Yellow Banks, in Black Hawk War, ^S^- 

^50- ZION CITY, seat of Dowieite 
Yellow Thunder, grave, 232. movement, 242. 



I 



278 



(mfm 



Y ■