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MAY 2 1 1973 


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6 1981 
JUL 1 1981 

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Reminiscences of Chicago 

During the Forties 

and Fifties 


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of Chicago During th< 

Forties and Fifties 





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' preface 

T^SOLLOWING the practice of the last two 
r^ seasons, the Publishers have chosen as 
the subject for this year's volume of the 
Lakeside Classics additional material concern- 
ing the earlier days in Chicago. In this volume 
they have confined themselves to the forties and 
o fifties to that period between the days of the 
first settlers and the outbreak of the Civil War, 
.when the early pioneers were working out their 
fortunes and establishing the young, growing 
city as the commercial center of the Great 

In the selections by Charles Cleaver, Lieu- 
tenant-Governor William Bross, and Joseph 
Jefferson there is the intimate personal touch 
so delightful in all reminiscences. But a review 
of this period of Chicago's growth, no matter 
how cursory, must place emphasis upon the 
beginnings of that railroad system which has 
made Chicago the greatest railroad center of 
g the entire world. The meeting in Chicago of 
all the early railroad lines from the East, the 
South, and the West made Chicago the great 
distributing point for the fast developing 
Mississippi Valley and enabled Chicago to 
forge ahead of her two rivals, Cincinnati and 
St. Louis. The first railroad built out of 


' preface 

Chicago was the Galena and Chicago, now the 
Galena Division of the Chicago & Northwest- 
ern Railroad. Within a year or so the Illinois 
Central was built into the city from the South. 
As these two railways were the first and were 
projected by Illinois enterprise, the publishers 
have considered them the most typical and 
interesting in connection with early Chicago 
history. It is regretted that it has been impos- 
sible to find original letters or articles by the 
railroad pioneers themselves, giving a compre- 
hensive story of the early days of railroad 
building. The account here reprinted has been 
taken from Andraes's "History of Chicago," 
and it is hoped that what these descriptions 
may lack in personalities will be more than 
compensated by the interest of the subject 
matter itself. 

The Publishers again desire to acknowledge 
their appreciation of the work of Miss Mcllvaine 
in searching out from the mass of material 
collected in the library of the Chicago Historical 
Society the subject matter of this volume, and 
also their appreciation of the courtesy of The 
Century Company in permitting the reprinting 
of a chapter from "The Autobiography of 
Joseph Jefferson." 

It is hoped that this volume will continue to 
fulfill the modest mission of the Lakeside 
Classics to prove that a book can be good and 
"booky" even if manufactured economically, 
to bear witness of the thoroughness of the 

> preface 

instruction and permanency of The School for 
Apprentices of the Lakeside Press, and to 
carry to all the patrons and friends of the Press 
at this season of good wishes, the good wishes 







Extracted from "What I Remember of 
Early Chicago," a Lecture delivered by 
William Bross, Ex-Lieutenant-Gover- 
nor of Illinois, at McCormick Hall, 
January 23, 1876. 


Extracts from articles which appeared 
first in The Chicago Tribune. 


Reprinted from "The Autobiography of 
Joseph Jefferson." 


Reprinted from Andraes's "History of 
Chicago i" 




THE period of the Forties and Fifties in 
Chicago may be briefly characterized as 
the era of "the iron horse and mechani- 
cal man. ' ' The advent of railroads and reapers 
marked the end of isolation and of primitive 
agriculture. Not less real in their effect upon 
the future of Chicago was the inauguration of 
commercial journalism and the establishment 
of a permanent theater. Between the years 
1840 and 1860 the population of Chicago in- 
creased 835 per cent. Who shall say which 
agency did more to make life seem desirable 
in Chicago the railroad, the reaper, the 
newspaper, or the theater? 

It is not our province to attempt an answer 
to this question, but to place before the reader 
certain facts and documents from which he 
may draw his own conclusions. For access 
to all of this material; as well as to many 
unpublished letters, and for the privilege of 
producing in print the Centennial Ode of Joseph 
Jefferson, we are indebted to the Chicago 
Historical Society. 

Mention has been made of reapers in con- 
nection with railroads. A fact not commonly 
realized is that when Cyrus H. McCormick 
had decided upon Chicago as the place to 


build his reaper factory, it was William B. 
Ogden, Chicago's first mayor, who, in 1848, 
for the space of a year, became his partner, 
and financially furthered the enterprise so 
advantageous to the development of agriculture 
and hence of all other enterprises in the West. 
The factory stood on the site of the old Kinzie 
House, on Kinzie Street near the Rush Street 
bridge. It is notable that the first railroad 
out of Chicago started on the line of Kinzie 
Street, running west, in 1848. That was the 
Galena and Chicago Union Road, of which 
Mr. Ogden was first president, and of which he 
prophesied in his first report that it would 
become the nucleus of the Northwestern 
system. An anecdote related to the writer by 
a neighbor, whose father was financial manager 
for Mr. Ogden, illustrates the difference be- 
tween a railroad magnate then and now. It 
became the duty of Mr. Quigg, the aforesaid 
financial man, to ascertain the full amount of 
Mr. Ogden's wealth. After a long investi- 
gation he announced that it was about a million 
dollars. "My God, Quigg, but that's a lot of 
money!" cried Mr. Ogden. 

Just prior to the coming of railroads, the 
Illinois and Michigan Canal had seemed the 
all-important thing. Of this we have heard 
in the previous volume of this series. At the 
very time when railroads were about to revo- 
lutionize the entire question of transportation, 
the stage lines running to and from Chicago 

formed a colossal (!) combination, under the 
name of Frink & Walker. These stages kept 
up an intermittent contact with the neighboring 
states, and, starting from an old shanty 
which stood where the Merchants' Loan & 
Trust Company now is, embraced in their 
itinerary some two thousand miles. As late 
as 1847 measures were being put through the 
legislature for the laying of plank roads, and 
every effort was made to evade "the iron 
horse" as long as possible. Within the city 
there was not a single paved street, and drays 
were frequently abandoned in the downtown 
district, as impossible of recovery from the 
mud. From March until the first of May the 
city was practically cut off from communica- 
tion with the world by reason of the mud, and, 
as there was no telegraph, news from New 
York was sometimes a month in reaching us 
by the overland route. 

To the relief of this beleaguered city came 
at last a champion armed with a pen William 
Bross, who, born in New Jersey in 1813, settled 
in Chicago in 1848, identifying himself first 
with the book-trade, and afterwards with The 
Democratic Press and The Chicago Tribune. 
For many years he made it his business to 
chronicle the state of Chicago's advancement, 
to drop hints at home as to possible improve- 
ments, and to issue an annual statement to the 
world at large, but not on the subject of our 


shortcomings. "Deacon" Bross, as he was 
commonly called, was a member of the Second 
Presbyterian Church. In fact it was some- 
times designated as "Deacon Bross's Church." 
"Deacon" Bross was also an Abolitionist, 
long before that was a popular thing to be, 
and when the Republican party was formed in 
1854 it was "Deacon" Bross who made the 
speech in Dearborn Park nominating Fremont 
for president. "Deacon" Bross proceeded 
with his double mission of blowing the horn of 
Chicago's commercial prosperity and sounding 
the last, trump for the doom of slavery until, 
the war being ended, he was raised to the 
office of lieutenant-governor of Illinois. In 
this capacity, as presiding officer of the Senate 
in Illinois, when the constitutional amendment 
for the abolition of slavery in the United States 
was presented to the several states for ratifica- 
tion, his name led all the rest of signatures 
affixed to that charter of human rights. Finally, 
when, with Vice-President Colfax, he visited 
the Rocky Mountains in 1868, and had ascended 
Mount Lincoln, a neighboring peak was pointed 
out by the miners thereabout, a peak only a 
little lower than Mount Lincoln, and if to-day 
you should ask the name of it you would learn 
that it bears the name of Bross. Hon. William 
Bross, Presbyterian, Republican, Lieutenant- 
governor of Illinois, and Founder of Commercial 
Journalism in Chicago, has left us a priceless 
legacy in the form of a lecture entitled What I 


Remember of Early Chicago. It was delivered 
in McCormick Hall and was reported in The 
Chicago Tribune of 1 8/6. This is here re- 
printed in full. 

Charles Cleaver, Chicago's "Original Soap-fat 
Man, ' ' Tallow Chandler, Founder of Cleaver- 
ville, and all-round observer, in his Early 
Chicago Reminiscences, has given an invaluable 
account of things in general in Chicago and 
the packing industry in particular, dating from 
1833 to about 1857. Of this we reprint the 
portion dealing with the Forties and Fifties. 
Mr. Cleaver, born at Kensington Common, 
London, England, in 1814, came to Chicago in 
1833, an d lived until 1893. Having allied 
himself with the various packers of Chicago as 
a sort of clearing-house for lard, his fortune 
was sufficiently large in 1857 to allow him to 
retire from the office of chief "Renderer, " 
and to enter upon that of real estate dealer. 
His house, erected in 1853 near tne f ot f 
38th Street, became the nucleus of a suburban 
town named Cleaverville. With true feudal 
instinct he promoted the welfare of his tenants, 
even to the extent of building a church for them 
(the first church in Hyde Park), of floating 
houses down the river for their accommodation 
when none were to be found near by, and finally, 
when the Illinois Central was creeping toward 
Chicago he paid them $3800 a year to run trains 
to his settlement. He was one of the organizers 


of Dearborn Seminary, and held the high 
honor of membership in the old Hook and 
Ladder Company No. I, that noble little group 
of men, including Silas Cobb, P. F. W. Peck, 
and others, who used to run to the fires, 
dragging their engine after them, in the Forties 
and Fifties. 

"Joseph Jefferson, Actor" (as his name 
appeared in the first directory of Chicago), 
has told in his Autobiography the story of the 
first real theater in Chicago, and has, in the 
telling, vividly depicted Chicago at the beginning 
of the epoch in question. 

Joseph Jefferson the younger, although we 
claim him as a Chicagoan, was born in Phila- 
delphia, February 2Oth, 1829. At the time 
that he first saw Chicago, just before the 
Forties, he could not have been more than ten 
years old, but since he was already holding the 
audience between the acts with comic songs, 
and "doing" a Roman Senator, in Julius 
Caesar, he must have been rather more than 
an "infant phenomenon." His father, Joseph 
Jefferson the elder, was an actor of experience, 
and his mother a lady of much . grace and 
refinement, as well as an accomplished actress. 
No one that has ever written of Chicago has 
more truly caught the spirit of the place and 
time than has Joe Jefferson, in the breezy 
sketch here given. Not only had he the actor's 
faculty for "taking in the scene," but the 


painter's ability to depict it so that others 
might see it. Who but Joe Jefferson ever told 
us about the "busy little town," with its "bright 
and muddy streets," "gaudy-colored calicoes," 
"blue and red striped ticking," "bar-rooms, 
real-estate offices," and oceans of "attorneys- 
at-law"? Who ever made us hear the "Saw! 
saw! bang! bang!" of "the buildings going up, 
and the sidewalks going down?" It is right 
that his name should appear in the Chicago 
Directory of that year, together with that of 
his father. If he were not a Chicagoan by 
birth, he was one by election. 

The elder Jefferson had come to Chicago to 
found a theater, in company with his brother- 
in-law, Alexander McKenzie, who already 
resided here. Prior to the coming of the 
Jeffersons, Chicago's dramatic endeavors had 
taken place in the abandoned Sauganash, Mark 
Beaubien's old hotel, where Messrs. Isherwood 
and McKenzie had given sporadic perform- 
ances. Having obtained the privilege of using, 
for theatrical purposes, the one-time auction- 
house called the Rialto, Mr. McKenzie had 
induced the Jefferson family to come and inau- 
gurate the enterprise under the name of "The 
Chicago Theater." They opened with The 
Lady of Lyons, with Master Joseph Jefferson 
singing the comic song of Lord Lovel and Lady 
Nancy. Jefferson the elder was manager. 

Mr. Samuel Beach fifty years later wrote of 
this company : ' 'Without the aid of the gilded 


surroundings . . . that are the common ad- 
juncts of the modern stage, our pioneers were 
forced to rely solely upon the sterling merit of 
each actor. . . . The delicate shades and lights 
of life were touched by master hands. . . . 
The purpose was to place the theater among 
the honored institutions of our enlarging civil- 

Writing to J. H. McVicker on Christmas 
Day, 1882, Joseph Jefferson, Jr., said of this 
occasion: "The new theater was quite the 
pride of the city, and the idol of the manager; 
for it had one tier of boxes and a gallery at the 
back. I don't think the seats of the dress- 
circle were stuffed, but I am almost sure they 
were planed. . . . The city had then from 
three to four thousand inhabitants; I can 
remember following my father along the shore, 
when he went hunting on what is now Michigan 

John B. Rice founded his theater in 1847, 
and James H. McVicker built McVicker's 
Theater in 1857. In that same year the 
younger Jefferson was appearing with Laura 
Keane in New York. Our American Cousin 
had a run of 140 nights. In 1860 he sailed 
for England, and with Dion Boucicault re- 
cast Rip Van Winkle, which, as he tells us, he 
had first conceived, as a play, in the barn at his 
summer home. We all know the story of his 
triumphs in that role, as well as in Lend Me 
Five Shillings and The Rivals. In 1892 Yale 


College conferred upon him the degree of 
Master of Arts. 

In a lecture on art which he gave in a 
Chicago studio, in 1903, the writer heard Joe 
Jefferson explain the difficulty of the actor's 
art, in that the effect must be instantaneous. 
No opportunity is given to rub out and begin 
over, as in painting. He also told how difficult 
it is, after one has played a part many times, 
to appear surprised when addressed by one of 
the other actors, and, to illustrate, he got down 
on the floor, without accessories, and, performed 
the awakening scene from Rip Van Winkle. 
So perfect was the illusion created that when 
it was over one was amazed to see standing 
there a man of modern time, clad in the gar- 
ments of to-day, and not the tattered old man 
of the mountain, arising crippled with age and 
haunted by voices of a former generation. 

In his Autobiography]effersoi\ tells that after 
reading Irving's story, he began to put together 
the play of Rip Van Winkle by buying a wig. 
Then he practiced before a glass, until the 
neighbors thought that he had a lunatic housed 
within. He had since learned to do the part 
without the wig, and even with the distracting 
influence of a pair of rather bright blue trousers, 
a yellow waistcoat, black Prince Albert, and 
red necktie. 

The writer's grandfather once met him in a 
little town in Ohio when he was dressed so 
oddly that the hotel clerk was refusing him a 


room. Upon the clerk's being assured that 
he was a friend of grandfather's, and was only 
joking about requiring a room by himself, 
Jefferson was asked to sign the register, which 
he did in a hand like that of John Hancock, 
instantly accepting the hospitality of a total 
stranger, on the ground that they both came 
from Chicago! As a matter of fact Jefferson 
was out of money, and grandfather paid the bill. 
The Chicago Historical Society possesses a 
manuscript poem from Jefferson's pen entitled 
Centennial Ode. It was read by the veteran 
actor on October I, 1903, in the Auditorium 
Hotel on the occasion of the mayor's banquet 
celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of 
the building of Fort Dearborn. By permis- 
sion of the officers of the society it is repro- 
duced here for the first time. 


All hail to Chicago ! We greet you to-night 

On the eve of your hundreth year. 

May our spirits be cheerful, convivial, and bright, 

May our smiles chase away every tear. 

I knew your great city when I was a boy, 

As a man I have witnessed its progress with joy. 

Its early achievements had startled this nation, 

And then came the blow of its sad desolation. 

But she rose like a Phoenix, and spreading her wings 

Sheltered statesmen and merchants like princes and 


Her watchword was "Onward" from every heart, 
In science, in commerce, religion and art. 
She conquered disaster aye, that was the test 
And gained her true title, "The Pride of the West." 
* xxii 


Capt. A. T. Andreas, in his monumental 
History of Chicago, Volume I, has recounted 
the early annals of Chicago's railroad systems 
in a manner so complete as to need no further 
comment here. From this we have made 
liberal selection for the last article in this 


Reminiscences of Chicago 

During the Forties 

and Fifties 

[Extracted from "What I Remember of Early 

Chicago," a Lecture delivered by William 

Bross, Ex-Lieutenant-Governor of Illinois, at 

McCormick Hall, January 23, 1876.] 

THE charter of the city of Chicago bears 
date March 4, 1837, and the first election 
for city officers was held on the first 
Tuesday in May, 1837. Not a few of the men 
and women who saw it when an Indian trading 
post, with Fort Dearborn to defend the 
settlers, are still among us, and the ladies 
certainly would not feel complimented were 
they called old. Hence whatever is said 
about "The Early Times in Chicago" must 
be regarded as relative, for the city had not 
yet numbered thirty-eight years. As I first 
saw Chicago in October, 1846, and commenced 
my permanent residence here on the I2th of 
May, 1848, I can scarcely be called an old 
citizen, and yet in that time it has grown from 
a city of about 18,000 (later in the season the 
census gave us 20,023) to nearly, if not quite, 
450,000 an increase never before equaled by 
any city in the history of the world. From a 
city then scarcely ever mentioned, she has 
become fourth in rank and population upon 
the American Continent. 

ficmim$rrnrc0 of Chicago 

But granting for the moment that I am an 
old citizen, I recognize the duty of placing on 
record as myself and others have doubtless 
often been urged to do what I know person- 
ally of the history of Chicago. Though this 
may require a too frequent use of the personal 
pronoun, your Directors are responsible if I 
bore you with it. If each citizen would do it, 
the future historian could select what best 
suited his purpose, and Chicago would have 
what no other city has, a history from its earliest 
times, written by its living inhabitants. In 
1854 I prepared and published some notes on 
the history of the Town of Chicago in fact, 
going back to the discovery of the site by the 
French Jesuit missionaries, Marquette and 
Joliet, and I shall devote the hour to giving 
you a supplement to what used to be called ' 'Our 
Pamphlet" of 1854. This was ably continued 
by my friend, Elias Colbert, in 1868; but 
neither of them pretends to give much of how 
Chicago appeared to the visitor in the "earlier 
times" of its history. 

Your speaker, as above stated, first arrived 
in Chicago early in the morning of the second 
Sabbath in October, 1846, now of course 
nearly thirty years ago. We landed from the 
steamer Oregon, Captain Cotton, near the foot 
of Wabash Avenue, and, with others, valise in 
hand, trudged through the sand to the American 
Temperance House, then situated on the north- 
west corner of Wabash Avenue and Lake 

Street. Soon after breakfast a tall young 
man, made apparently taller by a cloth cloak 
in which his gaunt figure seemed in danger of 
losing itself, and whose reserved, modest 
manners were the very reverse of what we had 
expected to find at the West, called on the 
clergy of our party and invited one of them to 
preach and the rest of us to attend service in 
the Second Presbyterian Church. That cloak 
would now be well filled by its owner, the Rev. 
Dr. Patterson, who has grown physically as 
well as intellectually and morally with the 
growth of the city, to whose moral welfare he 
has so largely contributed. Of course we all 
went to what by courtesy, as we thought, was 
called a church. It was a one-story, balloon, 
shanty-like structure that had been patched out 
at one end to meet the wants of the increasing 
congregation. It stood on Randolph Street, 
south side, a little east of Clark. It certainly 
gave no promise of the antique but splendid 
church that before the fire stood on the corner 
of Washington Street and Wabash Avenue, or 
that still more elaborate and costly building, 
the Rev. Dr. Gibson's church, at the corner of 
Michigan Avenue and Twentieth Street. 

That afternoon and Monday morning afforded 
ample time to see the city. The residence 
portion of it was mainly between Randolph 
and Madison streets, and there were some 
scattered houses as far south as Van Buren, 
on the South Side, four or five blocks north of 

of Chicago 

the river on the North Side, with scattering 
residences about as far on the West Side. 
There were perhaps half a dozen or more 
wooden warehouses along the river on Water 
Street. The few stores that pretended to be 
wholesale were on Water Street, and the retail 
trade was exclusively done on Lake Street. 
Stores and dwellings were, with few exceptions, 
built in the balloon fashion. To some of my 
hearers this style of building may already be 
mysterious. Posts were placed in the ground 
at the corners, and at proper distances between 
them blocks were laid down singly or in cob- 
house fashion. On these foundations were laid, 
and to these were spiked, standing on end, 3x4 
scantling. On these sheathboards were nailed, 
and weatherboards on the outside of them; 
and lath and plaster inside, with the roof, 
completed the dwelling or store. This cheap, 
but for a new town, excellent, mode of building, 
it is claimed, was first introduced, or, if you 
please, invented, in Chicago, and I believe the 
claim to be true. Of course the fire made sad 
havoc with them at times; but the loss was 
comparatively small, and they were quickly 
and cheaply rebuilt. True, Chicago was 
ridiculed as a slab city; but, if not pleasant, to 
bear ridicule breaks no bones. When our 
merchants and capitalists had grown rich 
enough to build permanent buildings, of course 
they did it. Then there were not as many 
bricks laid in walls in the whole city as there 

are now in single blocks anywhere near the 
business center of the city. Chicago need not 
shrink from comparing them with those in any 
other city upon the continent. 

My first objective point in northern Illinois 
was Batavia, on Fox River, forty miles distant, 
where some Orange County (N. Y.) friends 
resided. As Frink & Walker's stages did not 
pass through the town except on the road 
along the river, the problem was how to get 
there. The streets were full of farmers' teams, 
and in half an hour's tour among them we 
found a man who, for a small sum, agreed to 
land us there Monday evening. It was nearly 
noon before we got started, and as two of my 
traveling companions lived three or four miles 
west of Fox River, and were bound to get 
home that night, they soon began to use all 
their arts to urge our Jehu onward. At the 
old tavern on the west side of the Aux Plaines, 
near the bridge, they treated the old farmer 
freely, and again at Cottage Hill, Babcock's 
Grove, and other places; but sooth to say, the 
whisky, though it had a marked effect upon 
the old man, must then, as now, have been 
"crooked," for the more he got of it inside of 
his vest the slower he stubbornly determined 
to drive his team; but he assured us he would 
"root along" and get to Batavia that evening, 
and he did. Of course, an account of my 
journey to St. Louis and up the Ohio home- 
ward has no place in this lecture. 


*!cmuui5ccncc0 of Chicago 

As a specimen of traveling in 1848, 1 mention 
that it took us nearly a week to come from 
New York to Chicago. Our trip was made 
by steamer to Albany; railway cars at a slow 
pace to Buffalo ; by the steamer Canada thence 
to Detroit; and by the Michigan Central 
Railway, most of the way on strap rail, to 
Kalamazoo; here the line ended, and, arriving 
about eight o'clock in the evening, after a good 
supper, we started about ten in a sort of a 
cross between a coach and a lumber box-wagon 
for St. Joseph. The road was exceedingly 
rough, and, with bangs and bruises all over 
our bodies, towards morning several of us left 
the coach and walked on, very easily keeping 
ahead. In this tramp I made the acquaintance 
of John S. Wright, then, and for many years 
afterward, one of the most enterprising and 
valuable citizens Chicago ever had. He gave 
me a cordial welcome and a great deal of 
valuable information. On Sabbath he called 
and took me to church, and embraced many 
opportunities to introduce me to Mayor Wood- 
worth and other leading citizens, giving me a 
lesson in courtesy to strangers which I have 
never forgotten. I beg to impress it upon you 
all as a duty too much neglected in the hurry 
and bustle that surrounds us on every side. 

The steamer Sam Ward, with Captain 

Clement first officer, and jolly Dick Somers as 

steward, afterwards Alderman, brought us to 

the city on the evening of the I2th of May, 


1848, and here, at 121 Lake Street, with Dr. 
Scammon's drug-store on one side and Lock's 
clothing store on the other, the stranger from 
the East settled down quietly as a bookseller. 
The city had added four thousand to its popu- 
lation in the year and a half after I first saw it; 
but it had changed very little in appearance. 
It was still pre-eminently a slab city. The 
Illinois and Michigan Canal had been opened 
the month before, and during the summer 
packets were put on, and, running in connection 
with steamers on the Illinois River, quite an 
impetus was given to travel through the city. 
To them it did not present a very inviting 
aspect. The balloon buildings above spoken 
of were mostly dingy and weather-beaten. 
The only two stone buildings in the city, built 
of blue limestone brought as ballast from the 
lower lakes, stood on Michigan Avenue between 
Lake and South Water streets, on the site 
now occupied by the Illinois Central Railroad 
offices. They were the aristocratic mansions 
of the city. There were a few brick residences 
and stores, but these were the exception. It 
was curious to notice how long some of the 
old balloon buildings would escape the fire. 
The old store in which Mosely & McCord 
commenced business, between Clark and La 
Salle streets, on the north side of Lake, was 
built when the proprietors could look south to 
Blue Island with not a building in front to 
obstruct the view. There it stood, with the 

of Chicago 

sign "Mosely & McCord " just below the roof, 
till it was all surrounded by brick buildings, 
and the insurance on it has cost ten times what 
the building was ever worth. Subtract the 
few scattering brick buildings on South Clark 
Street, in the vicinity of Twelfth Street, and 
the dingy shanties in that vicinity on Clark 
Street and Third and Fourth avenues will best 
represent what most of Chicago was in 1848. 
And here I may as well mention the sources 
from which our fine building materials are 
derived. Till after that year it was supposed 
that we had no good rock for building anywhere 
near the city. The blue-limestone quarries 
from which the stone for the two dwellings 
above mentioned was taken, were thought to be 
our best and cheapest source of supply. 
Besides these, there had been brought from 
the lower lakes some sandstone flagging. It 
lay in front of the Laflin residence block, 
corner of Washington Street and Michigan 
Avenue, where it served for a sidewalk up to 
the time of the fire in 1871. Discussions, held 
for a long time by the trustees of the Second 
Presbyterian Society, when it was proposed to 
build a new church edifice in 1849, resulted in 
their determining to use stone found near the 
western limits of the city. The location has 
become somewhat famous as the site of our 
first artesian well. The rock is a porous lime- 
stone, with sufficient silex mixed with it to 
make it very hard. It seems to have been 

formed under a. bed of bitumen, or coal, for 
the pores in the rock are filled with it, and 
hence some of the less porous stones in the 
church were of a pale creamy color, while 
others were so filled with pitch or bitumen 
that it oozed out in hot weather, and they were 
as black as tar. Hence it was called the 
speckled or spotted church, a name which, 
referring to an unfortunate occurrence in its 
after history, my friend Sam Bowles said was 
derived from its speckled morality . The same 
rock was used in rebuilding the church at the 
corner of Twentieth Street and Michigan 
Avenue. The use of this rock was really the 
first important event of the kind in the building 
history of the city. 

While this material was regarded as a most 
excellent one for church purposes, giving them 
an antique and venerable appearance, it was 
not considered the thing for the Cook County 
Courthouse in 1852 or '53 I did not have 
time in this, as in some other cases, to look up 
the exact date. Our wise men of that ancient 
period, after due deliberation, determined to 
use a rock found at Lockport, New York, a 
bluish-colored limestone. Fortunate it was 
that official plundering had not then, as now, 
been reduced to a science, or the entire county 
would have been forever swamped in the debt 
contracted for the money to build it. This 
was regarded as the cheapest and best rock 
that could be had for building for such 


of Chicago 

structures and was the second really pro- 
gressive step in the building of the city. 

During all this time it is remarkable that no 
one had thought of the limestone quarries 
through which the canal had been cut for 
several miles this side of Lockport. The 
reason probably was that some of the strata 
were not well crystallized and rotted readily; 
but tens of thousands of cords of it that showed 
no signs of decay lay scattered along the canal. 
In 1852 or 1853 some one, if I mistake not, 
ex-Mayor Sherman, built a store on Randolph 
Street, it was afterwards removed to Clark 
Street opposite the Courthouse, facing it 
with this stone. Everybody was delighted 
with its beautiful color. It was found to 
become very hard when seasoned, and pro- 
nounced a marble by President Hitchcock, of 
Amherst College. It very soon came into 
general use. In December, 1853, tne Illinois 
Stone and Lime Company was formed, with 
A. S.' Sherman, now of Waukegan, as its 
efficient manager. The next summer, Harry 
Newhall built two very fine dwellings of it on 
Michigan Avenue between Adams and Jackson 
streets, and M. D. Oilman followed with 
another next to Newhall, and after that its use 
became general. It is conceded to be one of 
the best and most beautiful building materials 
in the world. Cheaply quarried and easily 
accessible by water, Chicago owes much of 
her prestige and prosperity to these Athens 


marble quarries. From it also Chicago con- 
structs the best sidewalks in the world, for, 
resting on an inner and outer wall, they are 
unaffected by frost, and are always smooth 
and pleasant to the pedestrian. Before, and 
especially since the fire, Chicago has drawn 
upon the beautiful sandstone quarries of Ohio; 
the red sandstone of Connecticut and of Lake 
Superior; she has cheap access to the marble 
deposits and the granite of Vermont, Massa- 
chusetts, and Minnesota, 150 miles west of the 
head of Lake Superior, and it is now conceded 
that no city in the world has a better variety 
of building material or is making a more 
judicious and liberal use of it. 

Going back to 1848, after remaining a week 
at the City Hotel, corner of State and Lake 
streets, I was admitted to a most excellent 
home, that of the late Rev. Ira M. Weed, 
corner of Madison and State streets, where 
Buck & Rayner's drug-store now is. This 
was considered far south, and as the sidewalks 
were not all good, the best that could be found 
was south on Dearborn to Madison, where a 
very large sign on a paintshop, where the 
Bank of Commerce now is and directly op- 
posite the Tribune office, reminded me to turn 
eastward. The sidewalks, where such luxuries 
were indulged in, lay in most cases upon the 
rich prairie soil, for the stringpieces of scant- 
ling, to which the planks were originally spiked, 
would soon sink down into the mud after a 

of Chicago 

rain, and then as one walked, the green and 
black slime would gush up between the cracks 
to the great benefit of retailers of blacking. 
One's disgust can be understood when it is 
stated that this meant some minutes of active 
personal service in the morning, for this was 
long before the professional bootblack was 
born certainly before he made his advent in 

In March, 1849, I think March was the 
month, my family having arrived per steamer 
Niagara the August previous, we commenced 
housekeeping on Wabash Avenue between 
Adams and Jackson streets, in a cozy little 
house at the modest rent of twelve dollars per 
month. In May following I bought of Judge 
Jesse B. Thomas forty feet on Michigan 
Avenue, commencing eighty feet south of the 
corner of Van Buren Street, for $1,250. The 
Judge had bought it at the canal sales in the 
spring of 1848 for $800, on canal time; 
viz., as Dr. Egan afterward directed in 
taking his pills, one-quarter down, balance in 
one, two and three years. I paid the Judge 
his profit and what he had advanced on the 
first payment, and assumed the balance due 
the canal trustees, and took the deed to me 
directly from them. It was in a safe place 
during the fire, and of course is now a very 
ancient document. In the fall of 1849 I 
bought a small wood house that I found 
moving along on Wabash Avenue, and moved 


it on my lot. In this modest home we spent 
some six very happy years. Judge Manierre 
lived on Michigan Avenue, corner of Jackson 
Street, where the Gardner House now is. 
Harry Newhall lived on the block north. 
Mine was the only house on block nine, except 
a small tenement on the rear of a neighboring 
lot, where lived an African friend and brother 
named William. There were at first no side- 
walks for a considerable distance north, and 
hence we were not troubled with promenaders 
on the avenue. The lake shore was perhaps 
a hundred feet east of the street. There my 
brother John and myself, rising early in the 
morning, bathed in summer for two or three 
years. We had an excellent cow for we 
virtually lived in the country that, contrary 
to all domestic propriety, would sometimes 
wander away, and I usually found her out on 
the prairie in the vicinity of Twelfth Street. 
I saw a wolf run by my house as late as 1850. 
An incident in the purchase of the lot will 
illustrate the loneliness of our situation. The 
rule of the speculators at the canal sales was 
to buy all the property on which the speculator 
could make the first payment, and then sell 
enough each year to make the others. Judge 
Thomas had followed this plan, and advertised 
a large list of property in the spring of 1849. 
He sold to myself and the Rev. Dr. Patterson 
adjoining lots at $1,250 at private sale; but it 
was agreed that these should be sold with the 


itcminUccnrcs of Chicago 

rest, so as to attract customers, as Michigan 
Avenue had become somewhat popular as a 
prospective place of residence. When my lot 
was struck off to me for $1,300, Harry New- 
hall came across the room, and said, "Bross, 
did you buy that lot to live on? Are you 
going to improve it?" "Yes," was the 
reply. "Well," said he, "I'm glad of it; 
I'm glad some one is going to live beyond me. 
It won't be so lonesome if we can see some- 
body going by night and morning." We then 
lived, as above stated, on Wabash Avenue, 
between Adams and Jackson streets. 

In the winter of 1851-52 my friend, the late 
Charles Starkweather, insisted on selling me 
fourteen acres of land immediately south of 
Twenty-sixth Street, and east of State to 
Michigan Avenue. Captain Clement and my- 
self went out of town to look at it, going across 
lots south of Twelfth Street. It was away 
out on the prairie, and I made up my mind 
that the price ($500 per acre) was too much. 
I could raise the $1,000 to make the first pay- 
ment; but where was the six per cent on the 
balance for the next ten years to come from? 
Captain Clement took the property, paid the 
$1,000, and, in seven months, sold it for 
$ 1,000 an acre, clearing in that time $7,000 
on an investment of $1,000. But the Captain 
let a fortune slip through his hands, for that 
fourteen acres is now valued by James H. 
Reese, Esq., at $560,000, or $40,000 per 

acre. In that case, as in scores of others, I 
too just escaped getting rich; but I have an 
abundance of good company, for hundreds of 
my fellow-citizens have missed opportunities 
equally good. 

Take the following instances: Walter L. 
Newberry bought the forty acres that form 
his addition to Chicago, of Thomas Hartzell, 
in 1833, for $1,062. It is now valued at 
$1,000,000. Major Kingsbury had been off 
on an exploring expedition about this time, till 
his pay as an army officer, above his immediate 
necessities, amounted to some six hundred 
dollars. A brother officer advised him to salt 
this down for his two children. He bought for 
it 160x180 feet corner of Clark and Randolph 
streets, and twenty-seven acres on the North 
Branch. It is now worth from $600,000 to 
$1,000,000. One quick at figures could prob- 
ably show that at compound interest the cost 
of the land would have realized much more 
than it is now worth. In time this certainly 
will be true; but if the rents of the land are 
taken in place of the interest, let him who has 
time to make the figures determine what would 
have been the more profitable investment. 

I said we had no pavements in 1848. The 
streets were simply thrown up as country 
roads. In the spring, for weeks, portions of 
them would be impassable. I have at different 
times seen empty wagons and drays stuck on 
Lake and Water streets on every block between 


of Chicago 

Wabash Avenue and the river. Of course 
there was little or no business doing, for the 
people of the city could not get about much, 
and the people of the country could not get in 
to do it. As the clerks had nothing to do, 
they would exercise their wits by putting 
boards from dry goods boxes in the holes 
where the last dray was dug out, with signifi- 
cant signs, as, "No Bottom Here," "The 
Shortest Road to China." Sometimes one 
board would be nailed across another, and an 
old hat and coat fixed on it, with the notice 
"On His Way to the Lower Regions." In 
fact, there was no end to the fun; and jokes 
of the boys of that day some were of larger 
growth were without number. 

Our first effort at paving, or one of the 
first, was to dig down Lake Street to nearly or 
quite on a level with the lake, and then plank 
it. It was supposed that the sewage would 
settle in the gutters and be carried off, but the 
experiment was a disastrous failure, for the 
stench at once became intolerable. The street 
was then filled up, and the Common Council 
established a grade from two to six or eight 
feet above the natural level of the soil. This 
required the streets to be filled up, and for a 
year or two Chicago lived mostly on jack- 
screws, for the buildings had to be raised as 
well as the streets. Until all the sidewalks 
were raised to grade, people had to go up and 
down stairs from four to half a dozen steps 

two or three times in passing a single block. 
A Buffalo paper got off a note on us to the 
effect that one of her citizens going along the 
street was seen to run up and down every pair 
of cellar stairs he could find. A friend asking 
after his sanity, was told that the walkist was 
all right, but that he had been in Chicago a 
week, and, in traveling our streets, had got so 
accustomed to going up and down stairs that 
he got the springhalt and could not help it. 

The Court-house Square should not be for- 
gotten. On the northwest corner of it stood, 
till long after 1848, the Jail, built "of logs 
firmly bolted together," as the account has it. 
It was not half large enough to hold the alder- 
men that, if standing now, ought to be in it, not 
to speak of the Whisky Ring, and certainly it 
was not strong enough to keep them there. 
The Courthouse stood on the northeast corner 
of the Square a two- story building of brick, 
I think, with offices in the lower story. They 
stood there until 1853, when they where torn 
down to give place to the new building com- 
pleted in that year. 

I said we had no gas when I first came to 
the city. It was first turned on and the town 
lighted in September, 1850. Till then we had 
to grope on in the dark, or use lanterns. Not 
till 1853 or '54 did the pipes reach my house, 
No. 202 Michigan Avenue. 

But the more important element, water, and 
its supply to the city, have a curious history. 


of Chicago 

In 1848, Lake and Water, and perhaps Ran- 
dolph streets, and the cross streets between 
them east of the river, were supplied from 
logs. James H. Wood worth ran a grist-mill 
on the north side of Lake Street near the lake, 
the engine for which also pumped the water 
into a wooden cistern that supplied the logs. 
Whenever the lake was rough the water was 
excessively muddy, but in this myself and 
family had no personal interest, for we lived 
outside of the water supply. Wells were in 
most cases tabooed, for the water was bad, and 
we, in common with perhaps a majority of our 
fellow-citizens, were forced to buy our water 
by the bucket or the barrel from water-carts. 
This we did for six years, and it was not till 
the early part of 1854 that water was supplied 
to the houses from the new works upon the 
North Side. But our troubles were by no 
means ended. The water was pumped from 
the lake shore the same as in the old works, 
and hence, in storms, it was still excessively 
muddy. In the spring and early summer it 
was impossible to keep the young 'fish out of 
the reservoir, and it was no uncommon thing 
to find the unwelcome fry sporting in one's 
washbowl, or dead and stuck in the faucets. 
And besides they would find their way into the 
hot-water reservoir, where they would get 
stewed up into a very nauseous fish chowder. 
The water at such times was not the only 
horror of all good housewives, but it was justly 

thought to be very unhealthy. And, worse 
than all this, while at ordinary times there is a 
slight current on the lake shore south, and the 
water, though often muddy and sometimes 
fishy, was comparatively good, when the wind 
blew strongly from the south, often for several 
days the current was changed, and the water 
from the river, made from the sewage mixed 
with it into an abominably filthy soup, was 
pumped up and distributed through the pipes 
alike to the poorest street gamin and to the 
nabobs of the city. Mind you, the summit 
level of the canal had not then been dug down 
and the lake water been turned south. The 
Chicago River was the source of all the most 
detestably filthy smells that the breezes of 
heaven can possibly float to disgusted olfac- 
tories. Davis' filters had an active sale, and 
those of us who had cisterns betook ourselves 
to rain-water when filtered, about the best 
water one can possibly get. 

As Chicago, with all her enterprise, did not 
attempt to stop the south wind from blowing, 
and her filthy water had become unendurable, 
it was proposed to run a tunnel under the lake 
to a point two miles from the shore, where the 
water was always pure, one of the boldest 
and most valuable thoughts ever broached by 
a civil engineer, but our able fellow-citizen, 
E. S. Chesbrough, not only planned but 
carried out the great enterprise to a successful 
conclusion. Ground was broken March I/, 


of Chicago 

1864; it was completed December 6, 1866, 
but it was not till March 25, 1867, that the 
water was let in and began to be pumped into 
the pipes to supply the city. A few words as 
to the way it was constructed: In digging 
under the city a hard blue clay is reached at 
the depth of a few feet. Experiments proved 
that this bed of hard, compact clay extended 
under the lake. At the foot of Chicago 
Avenue, where it was proposed to sink the 
shore end, a bed of quicksand had to be passed 
through. To do this, cast-iron cylinders were 
procured, nine feet long. The flanges by which 
they were to be bolted together were on the 
inside, so that they could sink smoothly through 
the sand. These were lowered successfully, 
as the material from the inside was taken out, 
till the hardpan was reached. Brick was then 
used. The water two miles from shore was 
thirty-five feet deep. In order to start that 
end of the tunnel an octagonal crib was built 
of square timber, framed and bolted firmly 
together, with several water-tight compart- 
ments and a space in the center 'left open 
sufficiently large to receive the same kind of 
cast-iron cylinders as were used at the shore 
end. The crib was nearly one hundred feet in 
diameter, and, if I mistake not, fifty or sixty 
feet high. It was built in the harbor, and 
during a calm it was towed out two miles and 
anchored due east of Chicago Avenue; then 
scuttled, the compartments were filled with 

stones and it was imbedded firmly into the 
mud at the bottom of the lake. The cylinders 
were bolted together and forced down into the 
hardpan, the water was pumped out and the 
brickwork was fairly commenced. The shore 
shaft was sunk ninety feet, and then at the 
crib eighty-five feet, and then the workmen at 
each end commenced excavating and bricking 
up the tunnel towards each other. Of course 
I need not give more particulars, nor speak of 
the four-mile tunnel to the corner of Ashland 
Avenue and Twenty-second Street, where new 
pumping works are in process of erection 
our works on the lake shore being found only 
capable of supplying the 450,000 people now 
said to be in the city. Chicago may well be 
proud of her water works, for they are truly 
splendid, and furnish her with an abundance 
of as pure water as can be found in any city in 
the world. 

We had no sewers in 1848. The first 
attempts were made a year or two later with 
oak plank, I think on Clark Street. I have no 
time nor space for particulars, but will only 
add that a thorough and effective system has 
been extended through all the more thickly 
settled portions of the city, and the deepening 
of the Illinois & Michigan Canal carries the 
sewage down the Illinois River, and, except 
when ice covers the canal and river for many 
weeks, it does no damage whatever, and does 
not even make itself known by offensive odors. 

of f)icago 

Our mails from the East came by steamer 
from St. Joseph or New Buffalo, or by stage 
from the west end of the Michigan railways, 
till February 20, 1852, when the Michigan 
Southern was opened to this city. Of course 
during severe storms, while navigation was 
open, and during the winter and spring, when 
the roads were about impassable, they were 
very irregular. Sometimes we would be a 
week or two without any news from the 
outside world. Our long winter evenings were 
employed in reading, much more so than 
now, in attending lectures and debates at the 
Mechanics' Institute, in going to church, and 
in social life. Chicago people have always 
had abundant means to employ their time fully 
and profitably. The postoffice stood on Clark 
Street, on the alley where the north side of 
the Sherman House now is. It had a single 
delivery window a foot square, opening into a 
room with a door on the alley, and another on 
Clark Street. All the city could see the flag 
flying from the Sherman House, when the mail 
steamer from the other side of the lake was 
signaled. Each one knew how long it would 
take her to reach her dock and the mails to 
get distributed. For a long time before the 
delivery window would open, the people would 
begin to assemble, the first taking his station 
at the window and the others forming in line 
through the rear door into the alley, often far 
into the street, like a long line of voters at 

election. Here I saw one day an incident 
which I mention as a tribute to one of the best 
and noblest of men, and as an example for all 
of us to follow. At one time when we had 
been without mail for a week or more, I stood 
in the line perhaps a dozen from the window 
and Robert Stewart two or three ahead of me. 
Just as the window opened and the column 
began to move, a woman, poorly clad and 
evidently a foreigner, rushed in at the front 
door, and, casting her eye down that long line 
of men, the muscles of her face twitched and 
she trembled with anxiety. She evidently 
expected a letter from dear ones far away over 
the broad Atlantic. Not a word was uttered 
by the crowd, and there she stood, waiting in 
agony for the crowd to pass by, till it came to 
Mr. Stewart's turn. With a kindly wave of the 
hand he said, "Come here, my good woman," 
and, placing her directly in front of him, she 
grasped her letter, and with a suppressed 
"Thank the Lord and you, sir," she left, the 
most happy person in the crowd. Any man 
might do such an act for a lady in silks; but 
only a noble, Christian gentleman like Robert 
Stewart would do it for a poor, forlorn woman 
in calico. 

There was not a railway entering the city 
from any direction in 1848. Some strap rails 
were laid down that fall, or during the winter 
following, on the Galena & Chicago, now the 
North Western, and in 1850, through the 


of Chicago 

personal endorsement of ex-Mayor B. W. 
Raymond and Captain John B. Turner, men 
to whom Chicago is greatly indebted, it reached 
Elgin, forty miles westward. So cheaply and 
honestly was it built, and from the time it was 
finished to Elgin, forty miles, so large and 
lucrative was its business, that it paid large 
dividends, and demonstrated that Illinois rail- 
ways could be made profitable investments. 
It became, in fact, the parent of the vast 
railway system of the West. It was marvel- 
ous how rapidly railways were projected in all 
directions, and how quickly they were built. 

The Michigan Southern Railway was the 
first great eastern line to reach this city, which 
it did on the 2Oth of February, 1852. The 
Michigan Central was opened May 20th of 
the same year. These gave a very great 
impulse to the growth and prosperity of the 
city. These were times when the coming of 
great enterprises seemed to fill the air, and 
the men were found who where ready to grasp 
and execute them. The necessity of binding 
the South and the North together by iron bands 
had been broached and talked of, in Congress 
and elsewhere in 1848, and a few sagacious 
men had suggested the granting of alternate 
sections of the public lands to aid in the con- 
struction of the road as the only means by 
which it could be built. It had worked admir- 
ably in the case of the Illinois & Michigan 
Canal, and it was agreed that the importance 


of the work would justify a similar grant in aid 
of a great through line from the Lakes to the 
Gulf of Mexico. With the characteristic fore- 
cast and energy of her citizens, Chicago 
furnished the man who combined all interests 
and furnished the friends of the measure in 
Congress the means to carry it. That man 
was John S. Wright, who, as before stated, 
was one of the most far-seeing and valuable 
citizens Chicago ever had. The whirl and 
excitement in which he lived clouded his mind 
toward the close of his life; but if any one 
among our earlier citizens deserves a monu- 
ment to his memory, that man is John S. 
Wright. I had the same office with him in 
1849, and hence know personally of what I 
speak. At his own expense he printed 
thousands of circulars, stating briefly, but with 
sufficient fullness, the arguments in favor of 
building the road, its effect upon the commerce 
and the social and political welfare of the 
Union; that in granting the lands the Govern- 
ment would lose nothing, as the alternate 
sections would at once command double the 
price of both. To this a petition to Congress 
to make the grant was attached. At that time 
such mail matter went free to postmasters, and 
with a small circular asking them to interest 
themselves in getting signers to the petitions, 
or to put them in the hands of those who 
would, Mr. Wright (giving employment to his 
clerk for weeks) sent two or three of them to 

of Chicago 

every postmaster between the Lakes and the 
Gulf of Mexico. In the early part of the 
session of 1849-50 these petitions began to 
pour into Congress by the thousands, and still 
all through the summer of 1849 they kept 
coming. Members from all sections stood 
aghast at this deluge of public opinion that 
seemed about to overwhelm them, unless they 
at once passed a law making a grant of lands 
to the states to open a railway from Chicago 
to the Gulf of Mexico. Our senators, Douglas 
and Shields, and representatives, Wentworth 
and others, saw their opportunity, and the bill 
was passed on the 2Oth day of September, 
1850. On the loth of February, 1851, the 
Illinois Legislature chartered the company, 
and its construction was placed in the hands 
of Colonel R. B. Mason. I need not add that 
a better selection could not possibly have been 

Permit me to say here, by way of paren- 
thesis, that omnibuses and horse-cars were 
introduced nearly ten years after this time. 
The City Railway Company was ' chartered 
February 14, 1859. Pardon the remark, that 
whatever honor attaches to driving the first 
spike belongs to your speaker. It was done 
on State, corner of Randolph. The road 
reached Twelfth Street on the 2 5th of April, 
1859, only seventeen years ago. Now the 
whole city is gridironed with them, and they 
are essential to its business life. 

I should like to give you the history of the 
Rock Island, the Alton & St. Louis, the Bur- 
lington & Quincy, the Pittsburgh & Fort 
Wayne, and other roads, but time and space 
forbid. For several years succeeding 1854 
the leading men of Chicago had to endure a 
great deal of eating and drinking, as our rail- 
ways were opened to cities in all directions; 
and for this service, as for all others, they 
showed a capacity and willingness, as well as 
a modesty, which has made them distinguished 
all over the country. On the lOth of May, 
1869, the Central and Union Pacific railways 
joined rails at Promontory Point, thus com- 
pleting the grand railway system across the 
continent. And here I may be permitted the 
incidental remark that we who live with them, 
and enjoy the first fruits of their enterprise, do 
not sufficiently honor the men who bridge our 
great rivers and bind every section of the Union 
together in bands of iron and steel, never to be 
broken, ^such men as Wm. B. Ogden, John 
B. Turner, R. B. Mason, Thomas C. Durant, 
Leland Stanford, and scores of others that 
might be named. History shows that it was 
not only the men who bore the victorious eagles 
of old Rome through distant nations, but who 
built roads to connect them with the Eternal 
City, that received the highest honors. Thus 
it was that great national thoroughfares were 
built thousands of miles long, from the North 
to the Black Sea, and as in that case all roads 

of Chicago 

pointed towards Rome, so at least nine-tenths 
of all the roads in all this broad land point to 
Chicago. Do you know that the title even 
now worn by the Pope of Rome has come 
down to him from those old road-builders? 
Pontifex Maximus simply means the greatest 
bridge-builder, the proudest, and thus far the 
most enduring, title ever worn by earthly 
monarch. Let our city honor the men for 
making Chicago commercially in this centen- 
nial year what imperial Rome was politically 
in past ages. While we give all honor to 
these men, let not the name of John S . Wright 
be forgotten, who, addressing himself to even 
the greater work, in 1849, combined and gave 
direction to the political and moral forces that 
enabled them to complete the grandest system 
of improvements ever made in the history of 
the world. 

You will expect me to say something of the 
press of the city. In 1848 the Journal had 
rooms in what was then the Saloon Building, 
on the southeast corner of Clark and Lake 
streets. The Gem of the Prairie, and the 
Tribune, as its daily, maintained a precarious 
existence in an old wooden shanty on the 
northwest corner of Lake and Clark streets. 
Messrs. Wheeler, Stewart, and Scripps were 
the. editors. It was burned out, and then 
located at No. 1 71^ Lake Street. My friend 
the Honorable John Wentworth published the 
Democrat in very aristocratic quarters at 

Jackson Hall, on La Salle Street, just south 
of Lake. He had the only Hoe power press 
in the city. In the fall of 1849, finding I 
preferred my old occupation of using books 
rather than of selling them, I disposed of my 
interest in the book-store to my partners. It 
was the original of the great house of Jansen, 
McClurg and Company. The leading member 
of the firm now my brother-in-law I left 
in the store a mere boy, whose duties were to 
sweep out, carry packages, and generally to 
do a boy's business. I mention this as an 
example for the boys who hear me to follow. 
I then formed a partnership with J. Ambrose 
Wight, then editor of the Prairie Farmer, 
a most valuable paper owned by John S. 
Wright, and we bought out the Herald of 
the Prairies, a religous paper, the organ alike 
of the Presbyterians and Congregationalists of 
the Northwest. The latter half of the concern 
survives in the Advance. It was then published 
on Wells Street, on the corner of the alley 
between Lake and Randolph streets. We 
soon moved to 17 1 Lake Street, next door to 
the Tribune; and in the rear building, on an 
old Adams press, the first power press ever 
brought to the city, we printed our own paper, 
and also the Tribune, for Messrs. Stewart, 
Wheeler & Scripps. The press was driven 
by Emery's horsepower, on which traveled, 
hour by hour, an old black Canadian pony. 
So far as my interest in the splendid machinery 

of Chicago 

of the Tribune is concerned, that old blind pony 
ground out its beginnings, tramping on the 
revolving platform of Emery's horse-power. 

By the autumn of 1851 Mr. Wight, a man 
who, as editor of the Prairie Farmer, did 
very much toward laying the foundations of 
the rapid progress and the great prosperity of 
the West, and now pastor of the Presbyterian 
Church at Bay City, Michigan, and myself, 
found out by sad experience that the Prairie 
Herald, as we then called it, could not be 
made to support two families, for we had 
scarcely paid current expenses. I therefore 
sold out to Mr. Wight, taking in payment his 
homestead lots on Harrison Street. That 
winter rather than have nothing to do I 
remained in his office with him, working for 
the large sum of one dollar per day. After a 
vacation of a few months, the late John L. 
Scripps and myself formed a partnership and 
issued the first number of the Democratic 
Press on the i6th of September, 1852. We 
started on a borrowed capital of $6,000, which 
all disappeared from sight in about six weeks. 
We put in all our services and profits, and 
about all the money we could borrow, never 
drawing a cent from the firm till after the 
first of January, 1855. This required nerve 
and the using up of funds, to a very consider- 
able amount, which we had obtained from the 
sale of real estate; but we thought we could 
see future profit in the business and we 

worked on, never heeding discouragements 
for a moment. The hard times of 1857-58 
brought the Democratic Press and the Tribune 
together, and Dr. Ray, J. Medill, John L. 
Scripps and myself became equal partners, 
with Mr. Cowles as business manager. Dr. 
Ray and Mr. Scripps have ceased from their 
labors, but not till they had done most effective 
and valuable work in the development and 
progress of Chicago. Mr. Scripps was post- 
master during Mr. Lincoln's first adminis- 
tration. Both he and Dr. Ray were able and 
very cultivated gentlemen, and the memory of 
them should have a high place in the esteem 
and gratitude of their fellow-citizens. Mr. 
Medill, Mr. Cowles, and myself still stand 
by the old Tribune, with what efficiency and 
success the reading public can best judge. 

I should like to have an hour to pay a 
passing tribute to the men who gave character 
to Chicago in 1848 and the years that followed. 
To Thomas Richmond, still with us; to John 
P. Chapin, Charles Walker and Captain Bristol, 
heavy dealers on Water Street; to Judge Giles 
Spring, Judge George Manierre, S. Lisle 
Smith, William H. Brown, George W. Meeker, 
Daniel Mcllroy, James H. Collins, and others 
of the bench and bar; to Drs. Maxwell, Egan 
and Brainard; to Editors Dick Wilson, T. A. 
Stewart, John E. Wheeler, and James F. 
Ballantyne, as well as to Ray and Scripps; to 
the Rev. Dr. Tucker, Parson Barlow, and 

of Chicago 

perhaps several others of the clergy. I should 
like to speak of Mayors F. C. Sherman, James 
Curtiss, J. H. Woodworth, and Thomas Dyer, 
all of whom have been relieved of earthly cares. 
Many of our oldest citizens still linger among 
us. Of these Colonel Gurdon S. Hubbard 
first came to Chicago in 1818, the year Illinois 
became a state. Still hale and happy, may he 
long bless Chicago with his presence. Of 
our ex-mayors previous to 1860, William B. 
Ogden, the first, Buckner S. Morris, B. W. 
Raymond, Walter S. Gurnee, Charles M. Gray, 
Isaac L. Miliken, Levi D. Boone, John Went- 
worth, and John C. Haines are still living. 
Of the clergy we still have the Rev. Dr. R. 
W. Patterson, "Whose praise," like one of 
old, "is in all the churches." Of our leading 
citizens we still have a host, almost too nu- 
merous to mention. The names of Jerome 
Beecher, General Webster, Timothy and Walter 
Wright, S. B. Cobb, Orrington Lunt, Philo 
Carpenter, Frederick and Nelson Tuttle, Peter 
L. Yoe, C. N. Holden, Charles L. and John 
Wilson, E. H. Haddock, E. D. Taylor, Judge 
J. D. Caton, J. Y. Scammon, Grant Goodrich, 
E. B. and Mancel Talcott, Mahlon D. Ogden, 
E. H. Sheldon, Mat. Laflin, James H. Reese, 
C. H. McCormick and brothers, P. W. Gates, 
A. Pierce, T. B. Carter, General S. L. Brown, 
Peter Page, William Locke, Buckner S. Morris, 
Captain Bates, and many others, will at once 
recur to our older citizens. 

Some of these gentlemen were not quite so 
full of purse when they came here as now. 
Standing in the parlor of the Merchants' 
Savings, Loan and Trust Company, five or six 
years ago, talking with the president, Sol. A. 
Smith, E. H. Haddock, Dr. Foster, and per- 
haps two or three others, in came Mr. Cobb, 
smiling and rubbing his hands in the greatest 
glee. "Well, what makes you so happy?" 
said one. "Oh," said Cobb, "this is the first 
day of June, the anniversary of my arrival in 
Chicago in 1833." "Yes," said Haddock, 
"the first time I saw you, Cobb, you were 
bossing a lot of Hoosiers weatherboarding a 
shanty-tavern for Jim Kinzie." "Well," 
Cobb retorted, in the best of humor, "you 
needn't put on any airs, for the first time I 
saw you, you were shingling an outhouse." 
Jokes and early reminiscences were then in 
order. It transpired that our solid president 
of the South Side Horse Railway left Mont- 
pelier, Vermont, with forty dollars in his pocket, 
but by some mishap when he reached Buffalo 
he had only nine dollars left. This was exactly 
the fare on the schooner to Chicago, but the 
captain told him he might buy some provisions, 
and if he would make no trouble and sleep on 
deck the boy could come to Chicago for what 
was left. Cobb got some sheeting, which 
some lady fellow-passengers sewed up for him, 
and he filled it with shavings, and this made 
his bed on deck. He got a ham, had it boiled, 


of Chicago 

bought some bread, and, thus equipped and 
provisioned, he set sail for Chicago. There 
was then no entrance to the Chicago River, 
and the vessel anchored outside, a long way 
out, and the cabin passengers went ashore with 
the captain in a Mackinaw boat. A storm 
springing up, the mate lay off for three days 
between Michigan City and Waukegan. When 
the vessel returned, a cabin passenger, who had 
returned for baggage, was surprised to find 
Cobb still aboard. Cobb told him that the 
captain had gone back on him, and would not 
let him go ashore without the other three 
dollars, and what to do he did not know. This 
gentleman lent him the three dollars, and Cobb 
gladly came ashore. Though he knew nothing 
of the carpenter's trade, he accepted a situation 
to boss some Hoosiers, who were at work on 
Mr. Kinzie's excuse for a hotel, at $2.75 per 
day, and soon paid his friend. From that time 
to this he has seldom borrowed any money. 
Mr. Haddock also came to Chicago, I think, 
as a small grocer, and now these gentlemen 
are numbered among our millionaires* Young 
men, the means by which they have achieved 
success are exceedingly simple. They have 
sternly avoided all mere speculation; they have 
attended closely to legitimate business and 
invested any accumulating surplus in real estate. 
Go ye and do likewise, and your success will 
be equally sure. 

Having seen Chicago in 1848 with no 


railways, no pavements, no sewers, scarcely 
an apology for waterworks a mere city of 
shanties built on the black prairie soil the 
temptation to imagine for her a magnificent 
future is almost irresistible. 

I beg leave with characteristic Chicago 
modesty to refer to a prophecy which I ventured 
to make in 1854. I had just written and 
published the first exhaustive account of our 
railway system, followed by a history the 
first also of the city. In the closing paragraph 
I had the following sentences. The city had 
then not quite completed the seventeenth year 
of its existence, and I asked: 

' 'What will the next seventeen years accom- 
plish? We are now (1854) in direct railroad 
connection with all the Atlantic cities from 
Portland to Baltimore. Five, at most eight, 
years will extend the circle to New Orleans. 
By that time also we shall shake hands with the 
rich copper and iron mines of Lake Superior, 
both by canal and railroad, and long ere 
another seventeen years have passed away we 
shall have a great national railroad from 
Chicago to Puget Sound, with a branch to 
San Francisco." 

By the time the building of the road was 
fairly undertaken, San Francisco had grown so 
largely in wealth and population that the main 
line was forced to that city. But in June, 1 869, 
two years before the thirty-four years in the 
life of the city had passed away, I rode from 


ilfmimsccnf f e" of Chicago 

Chicago to Sacramento with my good friend 
George M. Pullman in one of his splendid 
palace cars, with a dining car attached, and no 
one could possibly fare better than we did on 
the entire trip. Another line was open from 
Sacramento to Vallejo, nearly right across the 
bay from the City of the Golden Gate, so that 
practically the prophecy was literally fulfilled. 
Perhaps it was only a fortunate guess, and as 
I was educated in New England, you will 
permit me to guess again, and to bound the 
city for you on the nation's second centennial; 
viz., on the 4th of July, 1976. I think the 
north line will probably begin on the lake shore 
half-way between Evanston and Winnetka, and 
run due west to a point a least a mile west of 
the Aux Plaines River; thence due south to 
an east and west line that will include Blue 
Island, and thence southeast from Blue Island 
to the Indiana State line, and thence on that 
line to Lake Michigan. With my eye on the 
vast country tributary to the city, I estimate 
that Chicago will then contain at least 3,000,000 
of people, and I would sooner say 4,000,000 
than any less than 3,000,000. I base "my 
opinions on the fact that the gastronomic 
argument controls mankind. Men will go and 
live where they can get the most and best food 
for the least labor. In this respect what city 
in the world can compete with Chicago? And 
I also assume that the nation for the next 
hundred years will remain one united, free and 
happy people. 


But, gentlemen, in order to realize the 
magnificent destiny which Providence seems to 
have marked out for our city, permit me to 
say, in conclusion, that the moral and religious 
welfare of the city must be carefully guarded 
and promoted. Philo Carpenter (still among 
us) and Captain Johnson established the first 
Sunday school here July 30, 1832, and the 
Rev. Jeremiah Porter (also still living) organized 
and became pastor of the First Presbyterian 
Church (now Dr. Mitchell's) on the 26th of 
June, 1833. Brave old Jesse Walker, the 
pioneer Methodist, also preached sound doctrine 
in the earliest years of the Town of Chicago. 
All other denominations were also on the 
ground early, and through all her former history 
our people seemed as active and earnest in 
religious efforts as they were enterprising and 
successful in mercantile and other businesses. 
Let all our churches address themselves 
earnestly, faithfully, to the work of moralizing 
if you please, converting 'the people, working 
as their Divine Master would have them work; 
let respectable men, honest men, and especially 
religious men, go to the polls, and banish from 
places of trust and power those who are steal- 
ing their substance and corrupting, aye, even 
poisoning, the very life-blood of the city; let 
us all, my friends, do our whole duty as 
citizens and as men, ever acting upon the 
Divine maxims that ' 'Righteousness exalteth a 
nation," that "Godliness is profitable for all 

of Chicago 

things," and with God's blessing Chicago, as 
in the past, so in the future, shall far outstrip 
in wealth, population, and power all the antici- 
pations of her most enthusiastic and sanguine 

[Extracts from articles which appeared first in 
The Chicago Tribune.] 

TO the south of the village was an almost 
interminable prairie, said to be three 
hundred miles in length, with only one 
small belt of timber to break the monotony of its 
level surface, reaching, as we were told, to the 
most southern point of the state, to which you 
could travel by crossing only that one small 
belt of timber, before mentioned, not a quarter 
of a mile in width. The country immediately 
around the village was very low and wet, the 
banks of the river not being more than three 
or four feet above the level of the water. More 
than one-third of the river was covered with 
wild rice, leaving but a small stream in the 

Parties informed us that in the spring we 
should find it almost impossible to get around 
for the mud truth very forcibly illustrated 

1 Mr. Cleaver came to Chicago in 1833, and 
although we have in the main taken the portion 
of his reminiscences dealing with conditions in the 
forties and fifties, occasionally items of an earlier 
period occur. At the point where our selections 
begin, he had been leading up to the gradual 
emancipation of Chicago from the level of Lake 
Michigan. ED. 


fteminigcenceg of Chicago 

when a. few months later I got into a wagon 
to go about a mile and a half northwest, to a 
house Daniel Elston was building on the west 
side of the river. It was with the greatest 
difficulty that two good horses could pull the 
empty wagon through the two feet of mud and 
water across the prairie we had to pass. I 
once heard Mr. Elston's place called "The 
Mud Farm," not an inappropriate name for it 
at that time. A year or two later I saw many 
teams stuck fast in the streets of the village. 

I remember, once, a stage-coach got mired 
on Clark Street, opposite the present Sherman 
House, where it remained several days, with 
a board driven in the mud at the side of it 
bearing this inscription: "No bottom here." 
I once saw a lady stuck in the mud in the 
middle of Randolph Street at the crossing of 
La Salle. She was evidently in need of help, 
as every time she moved she sank deeper and 
deeper. An old gentleman from the country, 
seeing the situation, offered to help her, which 
had such an effect upon her modesty that with 
one desperate effort she drew her feet out minus 
her shoes, which were afterward found over a 
foot deep in the mire, and reached the side- 
walk in her stockings. I could tell innumerable 
tales of the dreadfully muddy roads we had to 
encounter, but a few such will suffice. 

In 1838 or 1839 the only way two of our 
most fashionable young ladies from the North 
Side could get to the Presbyterian Church on 


Clark Street near Lake was by riding in a 
dung-cart, with robes thrown on the bottom 
on which they sat. I once saw those same 
ladies dumped on the sidewalk in front of the 
church through the negligence of their driver 
in not putting in the bolt. 

Another story, told in a lecture given by 
James A. Marshall, is rather more than 1 can 
vouch for. It was this: That our minister, 
who was then a young bachelor, in walking 
home with a young lady from Wednesday even- 
ing meeting, got into a slough, and in their 
endeavors to extricate themselves kept sinking 
deeper and deeper, until they were more than 
waist-deep in mud and water, and that it was 
only from their screaming for help that assist- 
ance came and saved them from a muddy and 
watery grave. 

I know of no slough that was deep enough 
for that except one running south from the 
river about State Street, gradually lessening to 
about Adams Street. There was also a very 
wet spot, or slough, on Clark Street south of 
Washington. The village trustees, wishing to 
drain it and having no fund on hand, applied 
to Strachan & Scott, the first brokers that 
came here, for a loan of $60; but the wary 
Scotchmen refused to let them have it unless 
E. B. Williams endorsed it, which he did. This 
was probably the first loan made by the city 
of Chicago. Compare it with the millions she 
has borrowed since. What a contrast! 

of f)ifago 

Before leaving the subject, I must say a 
few words respecting the early efforts of our 
city fathers to effectually drain the village. As 
I have said before, Chicago was very low and 
exceedingly wet. The first effort made was on 
Lake Street, where, after mature deliberation, 
our village solons passed an ordinance for the 
digging out of the street to the depth of three 
feet a little the deeper in the center. This 
naturally drained the lots contiguous to it, and 
on being covered with long, heavy planks, or 
timber, running from the sidewalk to the center 
of the roadway, for a few months after it was 
finished made a very good street; but it was 
soon found that heavy teams going over it 
worked the timbers into the mud, and it was 
consequently squash, squash, until at last, in wet 
weather, the mud would splash up into the 
horses' faces, and the plan was condemned as 
a failure. It was tried two or three years, 
when the planks were removed, and it was filled 
up two or three feet above the original surface. 
This was found to work better, as it naturally 
would, and the same system of filling up has 
been continued from time to time, until some 
of the streets are five or six feet above the 
original surface of the prairie. The filling up 
answered a double purpose, as it not only made 
better roads, but it enabled the owners of the 
adjoining lots to have good cellars without going 
much below the level of the prairie, thus getting 
a drainage into the river. 

The first year or two we were here there was 
not a cellar in Chicago. A good joke was told 
about the first brick Tremont House that was 
put up. Of course it was at first built to the 
grade of that period; but as the grade was every 
now and then established higher and still higher, 
it at last left the hotel three or four feet below 
the surface of the road in front of it, and steps 
were built around it both on Lake and Dearborn 
streets for the convenience of persons going 
there or passing along the sidewalk. 

A wag of a fellow from New Orleans, while 
visiting here, wrote back to his paper that they 
need not talk any more about the low land of 
New Orleans, for Chicago had got a brick hotel 
five stories high that was so heavy that it had 
sunk into the soft soil several feet, and had 
forced the ground up into the street around 
it. I must say it had that appearance. The 
building was afterward raised eight feet, bring- 
ing it up to the grade, and making cellars 
and basements underneath. It was the first 
brick building ever raised in Chicago, and the 
raising was done at a cost to the proprietors, 
Ira and James Couch, of some $45,000. The 
contractor, I think, came from Boston, and 
many were the prophecies that the building 
would fall down during the process; but it 
was raised without the breaking of a pane of 
glass, although it was 160 by 180 feet. After 
the success attending the raising of the Tremont 
many others were raised to grade, and at last 


ftmunigccnceg of f)icago 

one-half of a block of heavy buildings on Lake 
Street were successfully raised. It took 5,000 
screws and 500 men to accomplish it. 

The North Side between the river and North 
State Street was very wet, the water lay six 
to nine inches deep the year round, and on 
the West Side for ten miles out the water lay 
in places two feet deep, and in wet weather 
the whole surface was covered with water, with 
the exception of the two ridges between the 
city and the Des Plaines River. I built, in the 
fall of '36, on the corner of Washington and 
Jefferson streets, and many a time had to wade 
ankle-deep in water to get there before I cut a 
ditch to the river to drain it. 

On taking a trip to the Northwest in the spring 
of '35, the water was so deep a little north of 
Fullerton Avenue, on the Milwaukee road, that 
it came into the wagon-box several times before 
we reached the ridge at Jefferson. In going 
out to a convention, June I, 1849, there was 
so much water on the prairie west of the city 
that it took us nearly the whole day to reach 
Doty's Hotel, on the ridge about ten miles 
west of the courthouse. We were, of course, 
traveling in wagons, as that was long before 
the era of railroads. But I have said enough 
to show the character of the soil of Chicago 
and surrounding country. It certainly was 
decidedly a very low and wet spot on which 
to build a city before it was drained and sewered, 
and the only wonder is that it has become the 


magnificent city that we boast of at the present 
day, with blocks of buildings far surpassing 
in elegance of structure, durability, and size 
any that can be found in the business parts of 
either London or Paris. 

In 1836 I drove up to Milwaukee, when the 
most of the village was on the west side, at 
Kilbourne Town, although they had made a 
beginning to build up the Cream City even at 
that early day. The Milwaukee House, a large 
frame hotel, was just opened, being built on 
one of the highest hills in the city. It has 
since been lowered about fifty feet, to bring it 
on a level with the rest of the town. From 
my first visit for twenty years I went there 
continually, marked its growth, and many a 
time listened to the boasts of its citizens that 
it was going to rival Chicago in its growth, and 
did actually contain as many inhabitants as the 
Garden City. The runners from the hotel 
would go on board the Eastern boats and tell 
passengers such tales of the dreadful sickness 
and daily deaths in Chicago that many a one 
was frightened and deterred from coming here. 

I was with Captain Ward on the first steamer 
that ever entered the river, which was then 
filled with nymerous mud banks, on which we 
grounded several times before getting up to 
where the wharves now are. The citizens were 
about crazy with delight at seeing the boat 


enter, and got up quite an impromptu glorifi- 
cation. Waukegan was not then settled. 
Kenosha, or Southport, as it was called, was 
just laid out, and Root River, on which is 
located Racine, was crossed about three miles 
from its mouth. In 1842 or 1843 I first visited 
Galena, then quite a city of note, doing a larger 
wholesale business than Chicago. It was the 
center of the mining district for lead, and was 
the point at which all the shipments were made 
for the South and East, being the distributing 
point for the upper Mississippi and Northwest. 
From there Chicago received its first ship- 
ment of clarified sugar, bought from the agent 
of the St. Louis refinery, who was stationed 
there. It was only sixty barrels, but was the 
forerunner of an immense trade afterward done 
with St. Louis, through an agent appointed 

In the fall of 1842 I made two trips to 
St. Louis for the purchase of sugar and molas- 
ses, being the first ever brought into the city 
direct from the South. The route was from 
here to Peru by stage, and from there- by boat. 
The water was very low so much so that there 
were only two small boats running, out of about 
twenty in the trade. The rest were stuck on 
the different sandbars, some ten or twelve 
being at Beardstown. The small boat on which 
I took passage only drew about two feet of 
water. Consequently she continued her trips, 
but was a whole week reaching St. Louis. 


The deck hands on board were all slaves, and 
the way the poor fellows were treated was 
really shameful. After meals in the cabin 
everything was swept off the plates into tin 
pans and then taken below, when the darkies 
would scramble for the contents like so many 

At Beardstown the boat grounded, and the 
darkies were driven into the water to float a 
hundred barrels of whisky over the bar. When 
thus lightened, they pried her over; and yet, 
with this wretched treatment, they were the 
jolliest, merriest set of fellows ever seen, sing- 
ing and playing when they were not at work, 
as if they had not a trouble or care in the 
world. Just opposite Alton, at the entrance 
to the Mississippi, she struck a snag and nearly 
sank, but, after running ashore, they stuck 
their jackcoats into the hole and continued 
their journey as if nothing had happened, 
reaching the city a few hours afterward with- 
out further mishap. A second trip I made 
soon after took over two weeks on the river. 

There is one other episode in my early travels 
which I must relate, particularly as it was 
made with others, and was, I think, the first 
political convention ever attended by Chica- 
goans. It was in the presidential canvass of 
1840 the year Harrison was elected. Some 
seventy of us were nominated to attend a 
convention to be held at Springfield, and, as 
we wished to make a sensation, we determined 


of Chicago 

to get the thing up in style. Great prepa- 
rations were made. We secured fourteen of 
the best teams in town, got new canvas covers 
made for the wagons, and bought four tents. 
We also borrowed the government yawl the 
largest in the city had it rigged up as a two- 
masted ship, set it on the strongest wagon we 
could find, and had it drawn by six splendid 
gray horses. Thus equipped, with four sailors 
on board, a good band, and a six-pound can- 
non to fire occasional salutes, made quite an 
addition to our cavalcade of fourteen wagons, 
we went off with flying colors, amid the cheers 
and well-wishes of the numerous friends that 
accompanied us a few miles out. Major-Gen- 
eral, then Captain, Hunter, was our marshal, 
and the whole delegation was chosen from the 
best class of citizens, of whom but few, very 
few, remain: Gurdon S. Hubbard, Stephen 
F. Gale, Thomas B. Carter, Robert Freeman, 
and, Mr. Carter informs me, two of the musi- 
cians are still living, being all we could call to 
mind. It was June 7, I think, that we started, 
leaving the city between nine and ten. o'clock. 
From the Three-Mile House to the ridge, ten 
miles from town, took us about the whole day 
to accomplish. It was past five o'clock before 
we got our tents pitched. 

The prairie was covered with water, and the 

wagons would often sink up to the axles in 

mud, making it a most tedious and fatiguing 

journey. But on reaching the tavern, and 



finding an old coon there, with a barrel of hard 
cider, on the stoop emblems of the Whig 
party we soon made ourselves jovial around 
the camp-fire, over which some of our party 
were busy cooking supper, as it was under- 
stood, before starting, that none of the party 
were to go to taverns, but all fare alike, sleeping 
under the tents. We were, of course, well 
supplied with buffalo-robes and blankets. 
These, with a little hay under them, made 
comfortable beds. We set a watch in true 
military style, though it was hardly thought 
necessary so near to the city. 

We were astir by sunrise the next morning, 
and, after partaking of breakfast, started again 
on our journey, reaching Joliet, where we again 
encamped for the night. During the evening 
we were visited by a few of the citizens, who 
advised us to put on a strong guard during the 
night, as a party of Irishmen at work on the 
canal had determined to burn our vessel. On 
receiving this information we took measures at 
once for its protection. The wagons were 
placed in a circle, the vessel in the center, and 
the horses corraled in the enclosure. Then we 
doubled the guard, which was relieved every 
two hours, and, thus prepared for any emer- 
gency, sought our tents. About twelve or one 
o'clock the guard arrested two men found 
sneaking under the wagons, and held them until 
morning. With that exception we passed a 
quiet night, but in the morning received decisive 



information that we should be attacked in 
fording the river. 

When all preparations were made for a start, 
our marshal rode along the line, telling those 
who had not already done so to load their arms, 
consisting of shot-guns and* old horse-pistols 
(revolvers being then unknown), but to be 
sure and not fire until he gave the word of 
command. Fortunately we escaped without 
bloodshed, but it looked very serious for about 
half an hour. When we reached the ford we 
found a party of two hundred or three hundred 
men and boys assembled to dispute our 
passage. However, we continued our course, 
surrounded by a howling mob, and part of the 
time amid showers of stones thrown from the 
adjoining bluff, until we came to a spot where 
two stores were built one on either side of 
the street and there we came to a halt, as 
they had tied a rope from one building to the 
other, with a red petticoat dangling in the 
midst, used by the Democrats to show dis- 
respect to General Harrison, whom they called 
the "Old- Woman Candidate." Seeing us 
brought to a stand, the mob redoubled their 
shouts and noise from their tin horns, kettles, 
etc. General Hunter, riding to the front, took 
in the situation at a glance. It was either 
forward or fight. He chose the former, and 
gave the word of command, knowing it would 
be at the loss of our masts in the vessel. And 
sure enough, down came the fore-and-aft 

Cjjarleg Cleaber 

topmast with a crash, inciting the crowd to 
increased violence, noise, and tumult. One 
of the party got so excited that he snatched a 
tin horn from a boy and struck the marshal's 
horse. When he reached for his pistols, the 
fellow made a hasty retreat into his store. 
After proceeding a short distance, we came to 
the open prairie, and a halt was ordered for 
repairs. It took less than half an hour for our 
sailors to go aloft, splice the masts, and make 
all taut again. Then it became our turn to 
hurrah, which we did with a will, and were 
molested no further. But the delegation that 
were to join us from the village, being deterred 
from fear, were set upon by the mob and pelted 
out of town with rotten eggs. This was 
Democracy in '40 we were Whigs. From 
that time forward we had no further trouble 
from our opponents. In fact, the farmers 
along our route treated us with the greatest 
hospitality and kindness. One in particular, I 
remember, met us with a number of hams, 
bread, etc., in his wagon, and when we arrived 
at his home said, "Now, boys, just help your- 
selves to anything you want; there is plenty of 
corn in the crib, potatoes in the cellar, and two 
or three fat sheep in the flock," which he had 
killed for us. In the morning he escorted us 
on our journey some miles, with twenty or 
thirty of his neighbors. In fact, with the 
exception before mentioned, we met with 
nothing but kindness the whole of our trip. 

of C&icago 

It took us about seven days to reach Spring- 
field, where we met some 20,000 fellow-citizens 
from the central and southern portions of the 
state. There was one part of the procession 
that I shall never forget. It was a log-house, 
some twelve by sixteen feet, built on an 
immense truck, the wheels made of solid wood 
cut from a large tree. This was drawn by 
thirty yoke of oxen. A couple of coons were 
playing in the branches of a hickory tree at 
one corner of the house, and a barrel of hard 
cider stood by the door, with the latch-string 
hanging out. These were all emblems of the 
party in that year's canvass. 

With the above exception, Chicago took the 
lead in everything. What with the vessel 
a wonder of wonders to the Southerners, who 
had never seen, or perhaps heard of, a sailing- 
vessel before the natty tents fixed up with 
buffalo- skin seats, interspersed with blue and red 
blankets, and festooned with the national flag 
and bunting, made such a display that the young 
ladies of the city paid us a deal of attention, 
making numerous visits, and during fhe early 
part of the evening complimented us with a 
serenade, which we returned later. One person, 
a Mr. Baker, threw open his house after mid- 
night, and entertained us in good style with cake 
and wine. We stayed two or three days, 
making many friends, and enjoyed ourselves 
greatly. But there was six. or seven days' travel 
to reach home again, which was not so pleasant. 


We were delayed by two public dinners on 
our route back one given at Bloomington by 
a right jolly lady, who made a capital speech. 
We returned by way of Fox River, avoiding 
Joliet, traveling through Oswego, Aurora, and 
Naperville, and, though enjoying our three 
weeks' trip very much, we were glad to meet 
a large number of citizens to escort us again to 
our homes in Chicago. Such was a convention 
in old times. What a change forty years has 
brought about! By rail, the journey would 
take one night, a day or two spent in Spring- 
field, and by night home again in luxurious 

I have previously written several articles 
describing the difficulties the first settlers had in 
reaching Chicago, as well as their experiences 
in the first few years of residence here. I will 
now give you some idea of the trouble and 
difficulties they found in providing timber and 
material with which to build even the small 
houses and stores that were put up in those 
early days. There were no well-filled lumber- 
yards, with an office adjoining, into which you 
could enter, as now, and leave your order for 
all the different kinds wanted. The whole 
stock of pine lumber in the village when I 
came here amounted to 5,000 or 6,000 feet of 
boards, and that was held at $60 a thousand. 
Previous to 1833 most of the houses had been 
built of logs, some round, just as they came 

of Chicago 

from the woods; while the more pretentious, 
belonging to the officers of the army and the 
great men of the village, were built of hewn 
logs. There was a small sawmill run by water 
about five or six miles up the North Branch, 
where they had built a dam across the stream, 
getting a three or four foot head of water; 
there was also a small steam sawmill, run by 
Captain Bemsley Huntoon, situated a little south 
of Division Street, at the mouth of a slough 
that emptied itself into the river at that point, 
in both of which they sawed out such timber 
as grew in the woods adjoining, consisting of 
oak, elm, poplar, white ash, etc. Of such 
lumber most of the houses were built, and any 
carpenter that has ever been compelled to use it, 
particularly in its green state, will appreciate 
its quality. In drying it will shrink, warp, and 
twist in every way, drawing out the nails, and, 
after a summer has passed, the siding will gape 
open, letting the wind through every joint. 
Such was the stuff used for building in 1833 
and 1834. Some even did worse than that, 
and went into the woods for their scantling, 
cutting down small trees and squaring one side 
of them with the broadax. One of the largest 
houses built that winter, by Daniel Elston, was 
built with that very kind, both for uprights 
and rafters. 

During the summer of 1834 the supply of 
pine lumber was greatly increased, and the 
price much lower. I think the most of it came 


from Canada, but even as late as 1837 timber 
was so scarce (and heavy timber was used in 
large buildings in those times, the frame being 
pinned together by mortise and tennon) that, 
wanting considerable of it to put up a factory, 
I found it cheaper to purchase ten acres of 
land, ten or twelve miles up the North Branch, 
from which I cut the necessary logs, hauled 
them into the city on sleighs, and had them 
squared on the ground with the broadax. But 
heavy timber for frame buildings soon after 
that came into disuse, as it was found the 
present way of putting up frame buildings was 
much stronger and better. It used then to be 
called balloon framing. G. W. Snow, an old 
settler, had the credit of first originating the 

Lumber in 1837 had got to be more plentiful 
at $i 8 to $20 a thousand. I put up a building, 
30 by 40 feet, two-story and basement, on the 
corner of Washington and Jefferson streets. 
It was the largest building on the West Side 
south of Lake Street, and, standing there alone 
for years, served as a beacon for many a 
belated traveler over the ten miles of prairie 
between the village and the Des Plaines River. 
At that time it seemed a long way out of 
town. There was but one shanty between it 
and Lake Street Bridge, and it really seemed 
quite a walk over the prairie to reach it. 

The West Side at that time contained but 
few inhabitants. When a year or two later 


ftcmmigcenceg of Chicago 

the village took upon itself city airs, the Third 
Ward, extending from the center of Lake 
Street south, and all west of the river, contained 
but sixty voters, the majority of whom were 
Whigs. It was a Whig ward, but that did not 
prevent the Democrats of that early day from 
colonizing about fifteen Irishmen from the 
North Side to try and carry it. I merely 
mention this fact as showing that the Democrat 
of 1839 was very much like his brother Dem- 
ocrat of 1880. I might tell a good joke of two 
prominent politicians of that time how they 
cursed and swore at us when they found we 
positively refused to receive their Irish votes, 
after they had furnished them for ten days 
with whisky and board; but as they are still 
living in the city, I will not mention names. 

From 1838 to 1843 people began gradually 
to build a house here and there on the streets 
adjoining, between the location I had selected 
and the river; but the progress made was very 
slow. We were right in the midst of the panic 
which commenced in 1837. I changed my 
location in 1843, and built on Canal Street, 
just south of Madison, and still had an unob- 
structed view of the bridge at Lake Street, and 
walked to it over the greensward of the prairie. 
At this point it was foolishly supposed by many 
to be a good location for a residence, as it 
was a dry, good soil on the bank of the river, 
which was then a clear, running stream, and 
really looked pleasant. I built a brick house, 

surrounded it with a garden, and had fine, 
growing fruit-trees; so, also, did two or three 
others, among whom were Charles Taylor and 
George Davis, whose widows are still living on 
the West Side; but before we reaped the fruits 
of it, business drew near us. Gates & Co. 
started a foundry within a block of us, and in 
1848 a lumber-yard was established on the 
adjoining lot. That settled our idea as to 
residence property, and in 1852 I moved to 
the corner of Thirteenth Street and Michigan 
Avenue. Here I rented a house and garden 
that was nearly surrounded with prairie. But 
business again followed us, and six months 
after we settled there the Michigan Central 
Railroad put up a temporary depot directly 
opposite on the east side of the street. To 
be sure we had the pleasure of seeing the iron- 
horse make its daily trips to the city of our 
choice, but that hardly compensated us for the 
annoyance we continually received from the 
tramps and others that came on the cars 
begging for food and water; so we determined 
once more to pull up stakes, and selected a 
place on the lake shore two miles south of the 
city, in the grove, where Fortieth Street now 
is. But before speaking of that I will give you 
some idea of the expansion of the city in a 
southerly direction of what is called the South 

I think it was in 1836 or 1837 that the old 
Tremont was put up on the northwest corner 

ncmimsrcuccs of Chicago 

of Lake and DeaVborn streets, owned and kept 
by Ira and James Couch, though in a very 
different style to what it has been kept the 
last twenty-five years. It was then a common 
country tavern, for the accommodation of 
farmers and others visiting the city. I have 
many a time met one of the proprietors on the 
prairie bringing a load of wood from the Dutch- 
man's Point, twelve miles up the North Branch, 
and once or twice, when business was slack, 
met him on the road to Milwaukee, with a 
sleigh-load of butter, dried apples, etc., to 
trade off to the denizens of the Cream City 
and turn an honest dollar. In 1838 the city 
had got as far south as Madison Street. Two 
of my friends built on the south side of 
Madison, directly facing Dearborn Street. 
This was the very outskirts of the city and 
seemed a long way from the center of business 
Clark and South Water streets. But it kept 
creeping southward, until in 1850 it had reached 
Twelfth Street, where, on the northwest 
corner of that and State Street, stood the 
Southern Hotel. In 1849 I was offered the 
ten acres adjoining, running from Twelfth to 
Fourteenth Street and west of State, for $1,200. 
Mathew Laflin tells me he purchased it for 
$1,000. It is part of the property that has 
lately been sold to the railroad for a depot at 
$200 to $300 a foot. 

In 1851 I was offered, by the Marine Bank, 
twenty acres, running from State Street to the 


lake, for $500 an acre. A year or two later 
I was one of a committee to locate Dearborn 
Seminary. I urged them to locate between 
Wabash and Michigan avenues, just south of 
Fifteenth Street, which was offered us for $25 
a foot, both fronts; but it was rejected with 
scorn, inquiring of me where I expected to get 
the young ladies to fill the school in that 
neighborhood. At this time there was only 
a single buggy track running in a direct line 
across the prairie from the corner of State and 
Twelfth streets to the "oak woods," as the 
groves south of Thirty-first Street were then 
called. In driving to that point we only 
passed two houses Mr. Clark's on Michigan 
Avenue and Sixteenth Street, who owned a 
farm there, and Myrick's Tavern at Twenty- 
ninth Street, who owned sixty or seventy 
acres from Twenty-seventh or Twenty-eighth 
to Thirty-first Street. Then we came to the 
Graves' tract of sixty or seventy acres, situated 
near the lake in the beautiful grove between 
Thirty-first and Thirty-third streets, on which 
was a house of resort called "The Cottage." 
The adjoining property of the same description, 
south of Thirty-third and north of Thirty-fifth 
streets, was, in 1852, purchased by Senator 
Douglas, who donated ten acres of it to the 
Chicago University. This tract of seventy 
acres was owned before Douglas bought it by 
some bank in Philadelphia, and was offered 
for $7,000. I urged its purchase by the city 



for a park through the papers of that day, but 
had my communications returned to me, with 
the remark that it certainly would benefit 
Cleaverville, but they did not think it would 
benefit the citizens of Chicago, being so 
far out. From Thirty-fifth to Thirty-ninth 
Street was the Ellis farm of 2OO acres, owned 
by Samuel Ellis, who lived in a clapboard 
house on the southwest corner of Thirty-fifth 
Street and Lake Avenue, where they had kept 
tavern for years, it being formerly the first 
station out of Chicago for the Detroit line of 
stages. It was about half a mile from "The 
Cottage" and three-quarters from Myrick's. 
These were then the only houses south of 
Thirteenth Street, except one or two small 
places on the river; but it was upon the Ellis 
farm that I determined to build a factory, and 
for that purpose purchased twenty acres of 
him, on the lake shore, from the center of 
Lake Avenue to the lake, between Thirty- 
seventh and Thirty- ninth streets. It was 
thought to be a wild scheme, and many a time 
I was laughed at, and asked with a smile if I 
ever expected Chicago to reach as far south 
as that, being then two miles beyond the city 
limits, which were at Twenty-second Street. 
However, that did not deter me, even when I 
got out plans for a three-story building and 
cellar, 80 by 160 feet, and was informed that 
it would take IOO cords of stone and 400,000 
brick to complete it. But it did become a 


matter of grave importance how I was to get 
the brick, stone, lumber, etc., on the ground, 
as the brick-kilns were on the West Side, 
near Twentieth Street, and there was no 
bridge south of Madison Street. But being 
accustomed to face difficulties, and, after 
looking the matter over, concluded the cheapest 
way was to build a scow and run a ferry over 
the river about Twenty-second Street, which I 
did for three or four months. But the trouble 
was not then over. Before the teamsters had 
been hauling thirty days the road track in some 
places got so deep in sand that they informed 
me that they should have to throw up the con- 
tract (which I think was only $i a thousand) 
unless I would build some half mile of plank 
road, which I accordingly had to do, and also 
build a bridge in front of the university over a 
slough 150 feet in length. The stone I had but 
little difficulty with, as I contracted to have that 
taken down by tug on canal-boats. But for 
the heavy oak timbers and joists which were 
needed I built another smaller scow and towed 
it down the lake shore with horses. This was 
before the Illinois Central Railroad had put 
any piling or crib-work in the lake, when the 
shore was a beautiful sandy beach, extending 
many feet from the high land to the water. I 
had, previously to this, put up several houses 
on the west side of the river, on the North 
Branch, near Division Street, for the use of my 
workmen, and wanted those moved to the lake 


shore at Thirty-eighth Street. The problem to 
be solved was how to get them there. Many 
difficulties were in the way of taking them by 
water; yet that seemed the only feasible plan. 
One great objection was that Chicago Avenue 
Bridge had no draw in it to let a boat pass; 
but, after taking advice upon the subject, I 
notified the city authorities they must remove 
it, as they had no right or authority to obstruct 
a navigable stream. They removed it after a 
day or two's delay. But that delay cost me 
the loss of one of the boats employed in moving 
the houses. I hired two canal-boats, lashed 
them abreast of each other, and chained two 
houses crossways on them. In this way we 
found no difficulty in going to the mouth of 
the river. But a storm had come up on the 
lake, which compelled us to wait three days 
until it subsided. A man who had been left 
on board as watchman, getting tired of such a 
solitary life, of his own accord hailed a passing 
tug, and by himself braved the rolling waves 
of Lake Michigan; and, though the storm had 
in a great measure abated, yet there was a 
heavy swell washing shoreward, and the conse- 
quence was, the minute the tug cast them off 
a couple of hundred feet from land they began 
to drift in broadside to the shore, and were 
soon driven up on the beach, the outer boat 
sinking, leaving the houses, to all appearances, 
pitching into the lake. But, fortunately, the 
chains held them, and, without further damage, 


they were landed on the shore. But we were 
not so fortunate with the boat, which was 
wrecked the following day before we could get 
a tug to lay hold of it. Two other trips were 
made, and four more houses safely landed 
without further loss. 

Those houses are still standing, just north of 
Pier or Thirty-eighth Street, on Lake Avenue, 
and are the same that were floated down in 
1851, more than thirty years ago, and, with the 
brick building and slaughter-house erected the 
same year, were the commencement of the 
large settlement in that neighborhood. The 
following year I built several more cottages, 
and soon found it almost a necessity to build a 
meeting-house, which I did in 1854, in which 
school was kept and the Gospel was preached 
for many years. This building was afterward 
removed to Hyde Park, and I think is now 
used as the Village-Hall. In 1857 one hun- 
dred acres were platted and laid out as the 
Village of Cleaverville so named by the 
reporter for one of the papers of that day 
and has since kept its cognomen, legally, at 
all events, although from the station on the 
Illinois Central Railroad being called Oakland, 
it has gradually been known by that name, 
until many suppose that to be the legal appella- 
tion, and want their title-papers so designated. 

It was but a year after I erected the factory 
on the lake shore that the Michigan Central 
came thundering along with their rails and 

ftcnnmeccnrrs of Chicago 

iron horse, within IOO feet of the building, thus 
rendering it almost useless for the purpose for 
which part of it was erected viz., a slaughter- 
house for the city butchers to kill in. They 
began killing there, but the cars frightened the 
cattle so they dropped off one after the other, 
although Colonel Hancock made his debut in 
it as a Chicago packer, killing a few hundred 
head of cattle that Winter. But others as well 
as myself soon recognized the locality as one 
of the most beautiful around Chicago for resi- 
dence purposes, and I soon had an offer for a 
lot to build on, by Mr. Farrington, the well- 
known wholesale grocer, who was the first, 
except myself, to erect a building on the village 
tract. Others soon followed, and, on the 
Illinois Central putting on a train to run three 
times a day, citizens began to be attracted by 
the beauty of the location, and the first week 
of their running I sold five or six lots. In 
1853 I built a house for myself, where I have 
since resided, and still live to see the gradual 
but wonderful change that has taken place in 
the country around; from a farm, fenced in 
with a rail fence, to a populous neighborhood, 
filled up with elegant stone, brick, and frame 
houses, acknowledged by all to be one of the 
most beautiful suburbs of the city, with its 
large brick school-houses, containing hundreds 
of children each, churches of all denominations, 
and improvements of every kind. 

For the first ten or twelve years of my 


residence there I had to depend on myself 
for everything that was done to improve the 
neighborhood. There were no Hyde Park 
officials, and the city would have nothing to 
do with us, so far as making streets and sewers 
were concerned. I well remember the making 
of Thirty-ninth Street. It was such a swamp, 
west of Cottage Grove Avenue, that I had to 
employ men to shovel it up, as a team could 
not work it. In fact, all the swales between 
the ridges were covered with water the summer 
through, breeding mosquitoes by the million, 
which was supposed to be one of the greatest 
draw backs to the settlement of the neighbor- 
hood. But with the drainage of the land they 
soon decreased, and on running a sewer from 
the lake in 1867, west on the street mentioned 
to Langley Avenue, thus draining all the lots 
contiguous to it, they disappeared altogether. 
When this part of the country was first 
settled there were no public conveyances of 
any kind. For years I drove in and out of the 
city in a buggy. Then came the first omnibus, 
running to Twelfth Street every hour. It was, 
after a year or two, extended to the city limits 
at Twenty-Second Street, and gradually more 
'busses were put on. Then some public-spirited 
individual put on a four-horse omnibus, to run 
to Myrick's Tavern, on Thirtieth Street That 
continued until about 1855 or !856, when, I 
think, the horse-cars began to run, first to 
Twelfth, then to Twenty-second, extending 

ncmini0'crncc of Chicago 

soon to Thirty-first, where they stopped for 
several years, until 1867, when the track was 
laid to Thirty-ninth, its present terminus. 
All who ride on them now know what success 
they have met with, as they are continually 
filled to overflowing, though running every 
three or four minutes for sixteen hours out of 
the twenty-four. Could Doctor Egan and 
Senator Douglas arise from their graves, they 
would indeed look on with astonishment. I 
mention them, as the doctor was the first to 
get a charter through the legislature for a 
horse-railroad from the Calumet River to 
Chicago. He, the senator, and myself organ- 
ized a company to build the road some time 
before it was commenced, but were defeated 
in the city council by their refusing us the 
right to lay down tracks in the city. Some 
two or three years after, the privilege was 
granted to others. 

While writing of public improvements, I 
will mention the water-supply. Citizens, the 
first year or two of my residence here, went 
to the river-bank and dipped it up by the pail- 
ful. Then for a few years it was carted from 
the lake shore, in water-carts, and sold at ten 
cents a barrel. After that, if I remember 
right, a stream was pumped from the shore 
into a tank or reservoir adjoining the steam 
flouring-mill built on the northeast corner of 
Lake Street and Michigan Avenue, run, if I 
remember right, by the late James H. Wood- 

worth. The two tanks were certainly not over 
twelve feet deep, and stood probably four feet 
above the level of the ground, and from this 
water was distributed through log pipes to a 
small portion of the city. This continued 
until about 1855-56, when J. H. Dunham 
called a meeting of the citizens to meet over 
his store on South Water Street, to take into 
consideration the need of a better and purer 
supply of water. At that meeting there were 
only five individuals present, but it was the 
first of a series that at last accomplished the 
object sought, and was the commencement of 
the present system of supply throughout the 
city. For many years it was pumped from the 
shore at the present site of the waterworks, but 
finding at length that they pumped about as 
much small fish as they did water, the tunnel- 
ing of the lake to the crib, two miles from 
shore, was conceived and successfully accom- 

Seeing in your valuable paper the late statis- 
tics published by you of the business done in 
this city, for the past year, both in Packing 
and in Grain, I thought it would be interesting 
to those connected with the trade to know from 
what small proportions it originally sprang. I 
will commence with the butchering and packing 
business, and to do that must go back to the 
early days of 1833, when Archibald Clybourn 
had a small log slaughter-house on the east 

of Chicago 

side of the North Branch, a little south of the 
bridge now known by his name. He then 
killed weekly a few head of cattle, supplying 
the garrison, and also the townspeople, and 
was one of the first who afterward put up both 
beef and pork for the surrounding country and 
villages, north and west of us. He did quite 
an extensive trade as early as 183637, and 
was reputed to be a wealthy man in those days, 
not only from success in his business, but also 
from his land speculations. 

It was about that time, or probably a year 
or two later, that he made his famous trip to 
Milwaukee on horseback. He rode an old 
favorite gray horse of his, making the trip in 
ten or twelve hours, to secure a certain eighty 
acres of land, in or near the city, by which 
transaction he made some $20,000, con- 
sidered a large amount in those times, and 
ever after gave his faithful old horse free 
fodder in his barns and pastures. In the 
winter of 1842-43, he slaughtered and packed 
for William Felt & Co. two or three thousand 
head of cattle, to ship to New York City 
the first beef ever packed in this city for an 
Eastern market. The same season Gurdon 
S. Hubbard packed some cattle for the East, 
and perhaps he is entitled to the first place in 
Chicago packing, as he had a drove of about 
three hundred hogs brought in and sold to the 
villagers as early as 1833, and from that time 
for many years was largely identified with the 


packing interests of the city, continuing in the 
business as late as 1855 or '56, perhaps later. 
Mark Noble also killed a beast now and then, 
and sold among the people in the early days of 
1833-34, keeping it up for two or three years 
later when he married and left for Texas, 
making several trips to the city years after 
with large droves of cattle. His brother, John 
Noble, still resides on the north side of the 

Sylvester Marsh also started a butcher-shop 
on Dearborn Street, between Lake and South 
Water streets, as early as 1834, carrying it on 
until 1836 or 1837, when, from his success in 
the business and land speculations, he thought 
he was rich enough and left for Dunkirk, N. Y., 
where in some unaccountable way he soon lost 
all he had, and in two or three years was back 
in Chicago, in partnership with George W. 
Dole, under the firm name of Dole & Marsh. 
They did quite an extensive business, both in 
killing for market and also in packing for them- 
selves and others, at their slaughter-house on 
the South Branch. 

It was with this firm that Oramel S. and R. 
M. Hough served their apprenticeship to the 
packing business, who, for many years after, 
were extensively known among those connected 
with the packing interests of Chicago as Hough 
& Co., and Hough, Brown & Co. Sherman 
(Orin) & Pitkin (Nathaniel), an extensive dry- 
goods firm of 1842-43, also went heavily into 

ftcnumsrnucs of Chicago 

hog-packing that winter, keeping it up for 
several seasons thereafter; they went into it 
when pork was at the lowest price ever known in 
Chicago. I bought several loads of dressed 
hogs out of farmers' wagons that winter as low 
as $1.25 a hundred. Packing in those early 
days was quite an experiment, and few were 
found willing to risk their money in it, as they 
had to carry everything packed till spring and 
then ship East by vessel. William and Norman 
Felt, extensive farmers near Rochester, N. Y., 
were the first to make a regular business of it, 
as they continued killing at different packing- 
houses in the city until about 1858 or 1859, 
and after that for years were the most extensive 
shippers of live stock from this place. Moshier 
& Clapp (Wm. B.) also packed largely of pork 
for the Eastern market as early as 1844 or 1845 ; 
they packed for a time in a store of Col. Gurdon 
S. Hubbard, in the centre of the city, used by 
him for that purpose. They kept in the busi- 
ness for several years, until the death of Mr. 
Clapp, about 1850. 

In connection with the slaughtering business 
of the city, I must not forget Absalom Funk, 
later Funk & Albee, who for years kept the 
largest and best meat-market in the city. Mr. 
Funk had also several large farms near Bloom- 
ington, 111., where he raised and fattened cattle 
for his own killing, making semi-monthly trips 
between the two places on horseback, following 
his droves of cattle. When railroads com- 


menced bringing cattle to the city, rendering his 
riding unnecessary, he soon felt the want of 
his customary exercise, sickened and died, his 
partner, Cyrus P. Albee, following him some 
years later. Reynolds (Eri) & Hayward (John) 
were also early packers of Chicago, taking 
Dole & Marsh's packing-house, on the South 
Branch, where they carried on the business 
quite extensively for many years, packing for 
themselves and others. 

Tobey (Orville H.) & Booth (Heman D.) 
commenced business in their present location 
on the corner of i8th and Grove streets, quite 
early. Mr. Tobey commenced first melting 
in a small rendering concern he bought of 
Sylvester Marsh, and moved there from the 
North Side, and from that worked themselves 
up to be the most noted shippers of pork to 
the old country, still keeping up their reputa- 
tion to this day for curing the best meats. 

Col. John L. Hancock came to the city about 
1853, making his first venture in packing by 
killing some i, 500 head of cattle in my slaughter- 
house, on the lake shore at Thirty- eighth Street, 
but soon became one of the largest packers in 
the state, carrying on an extensive business at 
Bridgeport, both in beef and pork, for many 
years; and I believe is still there at his old 
trade. I have mentioned all of the first packers 
of Chicago; at all events, all I remember. 

I think there were only about 35,000 head 
of cattle slaughtered during the season from 


October to January as late as 1857, an d per- 
haps about 150,000 hogs;* this seems a small 
business when compared with these times, when 
hogs are counted by the million, but it was 
then thought to be a very large trade. Up to 
this time, 1857, 1 had taken all, or nearly all, the 
tallow and lard from the various packing-houses 
of the city, rendering it in the melting-house 
adjoining my factory, on the lake shore at Thirty- 
eighth Street, where I used to manufacture it 
into soap, candles, lard oil, neat's-foot oil, etc., 
supplying the country west and north of us, 
and also in the later years shipping tallow and 
oil to New York and Montreal. 

I commenced in the fall of 1834, when a few 
hundred pounds a week was all I could get 
from the different butchers; it kept increasing 
slowly until 1843, when Felt and G. S. Hubbard 
commenced shipping beef, and Sherman & 
Pitkin pork, when, rinding it coming in faster 
than I could melt it by the old process by fire, I 
conceived the idea of rendering by steam. 
John Rogers had tried it a year before in a 
small way, but did not make a success of it; 
but I found no trouble in bringing it into prac- 
tical use, and from that day to this it has been 
used for all melting purposes; and at this late 
day has been brought to such perfection, in 

*BEEF PACKING. Capital invested, $650,500; 
number of cattle slaughtered, 2800; barrels packed, 
97,500. Annual receipts, $824,000. Chicago Direc- 
tory, December, 1850. 


the close tanks made of boiler-iron, putting on 
steam at eighty to one hundred pounds to the 
inch, that a tank of lard or tallow can be melted 
in a few hours. The first tanks I used were of 
wood, and took twenty hours to render out. 
P. W. Gates & Co., who had just then started 
as boiler-makers and machinists, set up the 
first boiler for me, with all the necessary coils, 
pipes, etc., and, from that time until 1856-57, 
I did the melting, or nearly all of it, for all 
the packers then in the city. 

A firm from Cincinnati, Johnson & Co., 
put up extensive melting-works on the^ake 
shore, north of Thirty-first Street, where they 
purchased five acres of Willard F. Myrick, in 
1853, and spent some $40,000 in setting up 
their iron tanks, etc., but had not capital enough 
to carry it on, and it became a dead fail- 
ure; but after it had stood idle for many 
years, Johnson came on and commenced suit 
against the Illinois Central Railroad Co. for 
ruining their business by putting their tracks 
between the building and the lake, and managed 
to get a check out of the company for $50,000 
damages. Gurdon S. Hubbard did his melt- 
ing there for two or three years. Hough & Co. 
were the next to put tanks and boilers into 
their packing-house at Bridgeport, about the 
year 1854-55; others soon followed; and in 1857 
I gave up the business, and from that time all 
the different packing-houses have had their 
own tanks and melting apparatus, and there I 


of Chicago 

leave all reminiscences of early packers and 

I will now give my readers some idea of the 
beginnings of the present grain trade of the 
city of Chicago which has now reached such 
enormous proportions that it is counted by the 
millions of bushels; in speaking of its growth 
it will be well to divide it into four different 
eras, which will also mark the prosperity and 
growth of the city. 

For the first three or four years, or until 
about 1837, we were indebted to other states 
for the larger part of what was consumed in 
the village and surrounding country; that 
would comprise the first era. From that time 
to 1842 or 1843 farmers began to raise enough 
produce for themselves and their neighbors' 
consumption, as well as supplying the citizens 
of Chicago with all that was necessary; but 
those years began to show the necessity of 
having some foreign market to take off their 
surplus produce, for in the winter of 1842-43 
farmers' produce of all kinds was so low it 
was hardly worth raising; for instance; dressed 
hogs sold as low as ten to twelve shillings a 
hundred, lard three dollars and a half a hundred, 
tallow six and a quarter, flour three dollars a 
barrel, oats and potatoes ten cents a bushel, 
eggs four to five cents a dozen, dressed chickens 
and prairie hens five cents each. Such a state 
of things could not last, as farmers found it 
impossible to raise it for the money, and gradu- 



ally all classes of produce were held till spring, 
for shipment round the lakes by vessel to New 
York; this would end the second era. 

From that period prices gradually improved; 
but the hauling of it so many miles took off 
nearly all the profit. Farmers living on Rock 
River would take five days to market thirty 
bushels of wheat, finding when they got home 
not over ten or twelve dollars left out of the 
price of their load; but for some purposes 
they had to have a little cash, and so continued 
to bring it. This lasted until 1850 or 1851. 
Previous to that time I have seen fifty teams 
in a line crossing the prairie west of us with their 
loads of grain for Chicago. 

There was also another class of farmers 
from the south that used, in a measure, to 
supply the city with necessaries in the shape 
of green and dried apples, butter, hams, bacon, 
feathers, etc. These men would bring their 
loads two or three hundred miles, camping out 
on the way, cooking their rasher of bacon and 
corn-dodgers, and boiling their pot of coffee 
over the camp-fire, sleeping in their wagons at 
night and saving money enough out of their 
load to purchase a few bags of coffee, and the 
balance in salt this was the invariable return- 
load of all Hoosiers, who used to come in great 
numbers in their curious-shaped covered wag- 
ons, known in old times as prairie-schooners. 
I have seen numbers of their teams camped out 
on the dry ground east of State Street. I once 

ftcmimsrcnccs of Chicago 

counted one hundred and sixty from the roof of 
Bristol & Porter's warehouse, on the corner of 
State and South Water streets; this closes the 
third era, about 1852, when the iron horse made 
its triumphant entry into the city from the East, 
snorting forth its volume of steam and smoke, 
a blessed day indeed for the Great West, for 
without the railroad what could we have done? 
Before the Michigan Southern and the 
Michigan Central railroads entered Chicago 
from the East, the Galena & Chicago Union 
Railroad Company was laying its tracks and 
pushing on to the West, making its first 
stopping-place at the Des Plaines River, then 
at Wheaton, then the Junction, then on to 
Elgin, Pigeon Prairie, Belvidere, Rockford, and 
other stations, until at last it reached Freeport, 
relieving the farmers at every stopping-place 
from their long and tedious journeys by team, 
and enabling them to utilize their own labor and 
the service of their teams in improving their 
farms, and adding every season to the amount 
of grain sown, until with the great increase in 
the last few years of farm-machinery,, and the 
facilities for moving and storing grain, there 
seems to be no end to the amount forwarded; 
and although railroads have stretched their 
iron arms through every county in the state, 
and thousands of miles into other states and 
territories west of us, it is as much and more 
than they can do to relieve the farmer of his 
surplus produce. What will be done with it 
in the next fifty years time alone will reveal. 

, Ctycagoan 

[Reprinted from "The Autobiography of Joseph 
Jefferson," by permission of The Century Co.] 

IN the year 1838 the new town of Chicago 
had just turned from an Indian village into 
a thriving little place, and my uncle had 
written to my father urging him to join in the 
management of the new theater which was 
then being built there. As each fresh venture 
presented itself, my father's hopeful nature 
predicted immediate and successful results. 
He had scarcely finished the letter when he 
declared that our fortunes were made, so we 
turned our faces towards the setting sun. In 
those days a journey from Albany to Chicago 
was no small undertaking for a large family 
in straitened circumstances; certain cherished 
articles had to be parted with to procure 
necessary comforts for the trip. I really do 
not know how, but we got from Albany to 
Schenectady, where we acted for a few nights 
with a company that was playing there. 
Several of the actors, who had received no 
salary for some time, decided to accompany 
my father and seek their fortunes in the West. 
As I remember it, our journey was long, but 
not tedious. We traveled part of the way in 
a fast-sailing packet-boat on the Erie Canal, 


of Chicago 

the only smoke issuing from the caboose stove- 
pipe. I can remember our party admiring this 
craft with the same enthusiasm that we now 
express in looking at a fine ocean steamer. 
She was painted white and green and enlivened 
with blue window blinds and a broad red stripe 
running from bow to stern. Her name was 
the Pioneer, which was to us most suggestive, 
as our little band was among the early dramatic 
emigrants to the far West. The boat resem- 
bled a Noah's ark with a flat roof, and my 
father, like the patriarch of old, took his entire 
family on board, with this difference, how- 
ever: he was required to pay his passage, it 
being understood between him and the captain 
that he should stop a night in Utica and one 
in Syracuse, give a theatrical entertainment in 
each place, and hand over the receipts in pay- 
ment of our fare. 

We acted in Utica for one night, and the 
receipts were quite good. My father and 
mother were in high spirits, and there is no 
doubt that the captain had hopes that the next 
night's entertainment in Syracuse would liqui- 
date our liabilities, for there was a visible 
improvement in the coffee at breakfast, and 
an extra piece of pie all around for dinner. 
The next night, unfortunately, the elements 
were against us; it rained in torrents and the 
attendance was light, so that we were short of 
our passage money about ten dollars. 

The captain, being a strict member of the 

Church, could not attend either of the 

performances, and as he was in his heart most 
anxious to see what acting was like, he pro- 
posed that if the company would "cut up" for 
him and give him a private show in the cabin 
he would call it "square." Our actors, being 
highly legitimate, declined; but my mother, 
ever anxious to show off the histrionic qualities 
of her son, proposed that I should sing some 
comic songs for the captain, and so ransom 
the rest of the actors. The captain turned it 
over in his mind, being, I am afraid, a little 
suspicious of my genius, but after due con- 
sideration consented. So he prepared himself 
for the entertainment, the cook and my mother 
comprising the rest of the audience. The 
actors had wisely retired to the upper deck, as 
they had been afflicted on former occasions. 
I now began a dismal comic song called "The 
Devil and Little Mike." It consisted of some 
twenty-five stanzas, each one containing two 
lines with a large margin of "whack fol de 
riddle." It was never clear whether the cap- 
tain enjoyed this entertainment or not. My 
mother said he did, for, though the religious 
turn of his mind would naturally suppress any 
impulse to applaud, he said even before I had 
half finished that he was quite satisfied. 

On our arrival in Buffalo we found another 
pioneer company, under the management of 
Dean and McKenney. Here we stayed over 
two or three days, waiting for the steamer to 


of Chicago 

take us up the lakes. Marble was starring 
there; he was one of the first and best of the 
Yankee comedians. In those days the stage 
New Englander was acted and dressed in a 
most extravagant manner. I remember see- 
ing Marble play, and his costume was much 
after the present caricature of Uncle Sam, 
minus the stars but glorying in the stripes. 

In a few days we steamed up the beautiful 
lakes of Erie, Huron and Michigan. The 
boat would stop sometimes for hours at one of 
the stations to take in wood, or a stray pas- 
senger, and then the Indians would paddle out 
to us in their canoes, offering their beadwork 
and moccasins for sale. Sometimes we would 
go ashore and walk on the beach, gathering 
pebbles, carnelians, and agates. I thought 
them of immense value, and kept my treasures 
for years afterwards. What a lovely trip it 
was as I remember it ! Lake Huron at sunset 
is before me now a purple sky melting into a 
golden horizon; rich green foliage on the 
banks; yellow sand with many-colored pebbles 
making the beach of the lake; the clear and 
glassy water; groups of Indians lolling on the 
banks, smoking their pipes and making baskets; 
the hills dotted with their little villages of 
tents made of skins and painted canvas; blue 
smoke curling slowly up in the calm summer 
air; and all the bright colors reflected in the 
lake. I stood there as a boy, skimming flat 
stones over the surface of the water, and now 

, Cftfcagoan 

as I write in the autumn of my life these once 
quiet shores are covered with busy cities; the 
furnaces glow with melted iron, the locomotive 
screams and whistles along the road where 
once the ox-teams used to carry the mail, and 
corner lots and real-estate agents "fill the air." 
When we think that all these wonderful changes 
have taken place within the last fifty years, it 
is startling to speculate upon what the next 
half-century may bring about. 

So day by day passes, till one night a light 
is espied in the distance, then another, and 
then many more dance and reflect themselves 
in the water. It is too late to go ashore, so we 
drop anchor. At sunrise we are all on deck 
looking at the haven of our destination, and 
there in the morning light, on the shores of 
Lake Michigan, stands the little town of 
Chicago, containing two thousand inhabitants. 
Aunt, uncle, and their children come to meet 
and welcome us. Then there is such a shaking 
of hands and a kiss all around, and "Why, how 
well you are looking!" and "Is that Charlie? 
How he has grown!" "Why, that's not Joe! 
Dear me, who'd have believed it?" And then 
we all laugh again and have another kiss. 

The captain said he had enjoyed a splendid 
trip such fun, such music and singing and 
dancing. "Well, good-bye all!" "Good 
luck ! ' ' and off we go ashore and walk through 
the busy little town, busy even then, people 
hurrying to and fro, frame buildings going up, 

of Chicago 

board sidewalks going down, new hotels, new 
churches, new theaters, everything new. Saw 
and hammer saw! saw! bang! bang! look 
out for the drays! bright and muddy streets, 
gaudy-colored calicos, blue and red flannels 
and striped ticking hanging outside the dry- 
goods stores, bar-rooms, real-estate offices, 
attorneys-at-law, oceans of them! 

And now for the new theater! Newly 
painted canvas, tack-hammer at work on 
stuffed seats in the dress circle, planing boards 
in the pit, new drop curtain let down for 
inspection, ' ' beautiful ! ' ' a medallion of 
Shakspere, suffering from a severe pain in his 
stomach, over the center, with "One touch of 
nature makes the whole world kin" written 
under him, and a large, painted, brick-red 
drapery looped up by Justice, with sword and 
scales, showing an arena with a large number 
of gladiators hacking away at one another in 
the distance to a delightful Roman public; 
though what Justice had to do with keeping 
these gladiators on exhibition was never clearly 
explained by the artist. There were two 
private boxes with little white-and-gold balus- 
trades and turkey-red curtains; over one box 
a portrait of Beethoven and over the other a 
portrait of Handel upon unfriendly terms, 
glaring at each other. The dome was pale 
blue, with pink-and-white clouds, on which 
reposed four ungraceful ballet girls representing 
the seasons, and apparently dropping flowers, 

snow and grapes into the pit. Over each 
season there floated four fat little cherubim "in 
various stages of spinal curvature." 

My father, being a scenic artist himself, was 
naturally disposed to be critical, and when the 
painter asked his opinion of the dome, he 
replied : 

"Well, since you asked me, don't you think 
that your angels are a little stiff in their 

"No, sir; not for angels. When I deal with 
mythological subjects I never put my figures 
in natural attitudes; it would be inharmonious. 
A natural angel would be out of keeping with 
the rest of the work." 

To which my father replied that it was quite 
likely that such would be the case. "But why 
have you made Handel and Beethoven frown 
at each other? They are not mythological 

"No, no," said the painter. "But they are 
musicians, you know; and great musicians 
always quarrel, eh? Ha ha!" 

"Yes," said my father; "but as Handel 
died before Beethoven was born, I don't see 
how any coolness could have existed between 

The foregoing dialogue, while it may not be 
verbatim, is at least in the spirit of the original. 
I could not possibly remember the exact words 
of the different conversations that will naturally 
occur through these chapters; but I have placed 

of Chicago 

them in their present form, as I believe it is 
the clearest and most effective way to tell the 
story. Many of the conversations and incidents 
are traditional in my family; I have good reason 
to take them for granted, and I must ask the 
reader to share my confidence. 

The greenroom was a perfect gem, with a 
three-foot wavy mirror and cushioned seats 
around the wall traps under the stage so con- 
venient that Ophelia could walk from her grave 
to her dressing-room with perfect ease. 

With what delight the actors looked forward 
to the opening of a new theater in a new town, 
where dramatic entertainments were still 
unknown repairing their wardrobes, studying 
their new parts, and speculating on the laurels 
that were to be won! 

After a short season in Chicago, with the 
varying success which in those days always 
attended the drama, the company went to 
Galena for a short season, traveling in open 
wagons over the prairie. Our seats were the 
trunks that contained the wardrobe those old- 
fashioned hair trunks of a mottled and- spotted 
character made from the skins of defunct circus 
horses: "To what base uses we may return!" 
These smooth hair trunks, with geometrical 
problems in brass tacks ornamenting their sur- 
faces, would have made slippery seats even on 
a macadamized road, so one may imagine the 
difficulty we had in holding on while jolting 
over a rough prairie. Nothing short of a severe 

, Cfjicagoan 

pressure on the brass tacks and a convulsive 
grip on the handles could have kept us in 
position; and whenever a treacherous handle 
gave way our company was for the time being 
just one member short. As we were not an 
express mail-train, of course we were allowed 
more than twenty minutes for refreshments. 
We stopped at farmhouses on the way for this 
uncertain necessity, and they were far apart. 
If the roads were heavy and the horses jaded, 
those actors who had tender hearts and tough 
limbs jumped out and walked to ease the poor 
brutes. Often I have seen my father trudging 
along ahead of the wagon, smoking his pipe, 
and I have no doubt thinking of the large 
fortune he was going to make in the next 
town, now and then looking back with his light 
blue eyes, giving my mother a cheerful nod 
which plainly said: "I'm all right. This is 
splendid; nothing could be finer." If it rained 
he was glad it was not snowing; if it snowed 
he was thankful it was not raining. This con- 
tented nature was his only inheritance; but it 
was better than a fortune made in Galena or 
anywhere else, for nothing could rob him of it. 
We traveled from Galena to Dubuque on 
the frozen river in sleighs smoother work 
than the roughly rutted roads of the prairie ; but 
it was a perilous journey, for a warm spell had 
set in and made the ice sloppy and unsafe. 
We would sometimes hear it crack and see it 
bend under our horses' feet: now a long-drawn 


breath of relief as we passed some dangerous 
spot, then a convulsive grasping of our nearest 
companion as the ice groaned and shook 
beneath us. Well, the passengers arrived 
safe, but, horror to relate! the sleigh contain- 
ing the baggage, private and public, with the 
scenery and properties, green curtain and drop, 
broke through the ice and tumbled into the 
Mississippi. My poor mother was in tears, 
but my father was in high spirits at his good 
luck, as he called it because there was a sand- 
bar where the sleigh went in! So the things 
were saved at last, though in a forlorn con- 
dition. The opening had to be delayed in 
order to dry the wardrobe and smooth the 

The halls of the hotel were strung with 
clothes-lines, and the costumes of all nations 
festooned the doors of the bedrooms, so that 
when an unsuspicious boarder came out sud- 
denly into the entry he was likely to run his 
head into a damp "Roman" skirt, or perhaps 
have the legs of a soaking pair of red tights 
dangling round his neck. Mildew filled the 
air. The gilded pasteboard helmets fared the 
worst. They had succumbed to the softening 
influences of the Mississippi, and were as 
battered and out of shape as if they had gone 
through the pass of Thermopylae. Limp leg- 
gins of scale armour hung wet and dejected 
from the lines; low-spirited cocked hats were 
piled up in the corner; rough-dried court coats 

, Cfpcagoan 

stretched their arms out as if in the agony of 
drowning, as though they would say, "Help 
me, Cassius, or I sink." Theatrical scenery 
at its best looks pale and shabby in the day- 
time, but a well-worn set after a six-hours' 
bath in a river presents the most wobegone 
appearance that can well be imagined ; the sky 
and water of the marine had so mingled with 
each other that the horizon line had quite dis- 
appeared. My father had painted the scenery, 
and he was not a little crestfallen as he looked 
upon the ruins ; a wood scene had amalgamated 
with a Roman street painted on the back of it, 
and had so run into stains and winding streaks 
that he said it looked like a large map of 
South America; and pointing out the Andes 
with his cane, he humorously traced the Amazon 
to its source. Of course this mishap on the 
river delayed the opening for a week. In the 
meantime the scenery had to be repainted and 
the wardrobe put in order; many of the things 
were ruined, and the helmets defied repair. 

After a short and, I think, a good season at 
Dubuque, we traveled along the river to the 
different towns just springing up in the West 
Burlington, Quincy, Peoria, Pekin and Spring- 
field. In those primitive days, I need scarcely 
say, we were often put to severe shifts for a 

In Quincy the courthouse was fitted up, 
and it answered admirably. In one town a 
large warehouse was utilized, but in Pekin we 

of Chicago 

were reduced to the dire necessity of acting in a 
pork-house. This establishment was a large 
frame building, stilted up on piles about two 
feet from the ground, and situated in the open 
prairie just at the edge of the town. The 
pigs were banished from their comfortable 
quarters, and left to browse about on the 
common during the day, taking shelter under 
their former abode in the evening. After 
undergoing some slight repairs in the roof, 
and submitting to a thorough scouring and 
whitewashing, the building presented quite a 
respectable appearance. The opening play 
was "Clari, the Maid of Milan." This drama 
was written by John Howard Payne, and his 
song of "Home, Sweet Home" belongs to the 
play. My mother, on this occasion, played 
the part of C/ariand sang the touching ballad. 
Now it is a pretty well established fact in 
theatrical history that if an infant has been 
smuggled into the theater under the shawl of 
its fond mother, however dormant it may have 
been during the unimportant scenes of the 
play, no sooner is an interesting point arrived 
at, where the most perfect stillness is required, 
than the "dear little innocent" will break forth 
into lamentation loud and deep. On this 
occasion no youthful humanity disturbed the 
peace, but the "animal kingdom," in the shape 
of the banished pigs, asserted its right to a 
public hearing. As soon as the song of 
"Home, Sweet Home" commenced they began 

n, C&icagoan 

by bumping their backs up against the beams, 
keeping anything but good time to the music; 
and as my mother plaintively chanted the theme 
"Sweet, Sweet Home," realizing their own 
cruel exile, the pigs squealed most dismally. 
Of course the song was ruined, and my mother 
was in tears at the failure. My father, how- 
ever, consoled her by saying that though the 
grunting was not quite in harmony with the 
music, it was in perfect sympathy with the 

Springfield being the capital of Illinois, it 
was determined to devote the entire season to 
the entertainment of the members of the legis- 
lature. Having made money for several weeks 
previous to our arrival here, the management 
resolved to hire a lot and build a theater. 
This sounds like a large undertaking, and 
perhaps with their limited means it was a rash 
step. I fancy that my father rather shrunk 
from this bold enterprise, but the senior partner 
(McKenzie) was made of sterner stuff, and, his 
energy being quite equal to his ambition, the 
ground was broken and the temple erected. 

The building of a theater in those days did 
not require the amount of capital that it does 
now. Folding opera-chairs were unknown. 
Gas was an occult mystery, not yet acknowl- 
eged as a fact by the unscientific world in the 
West; a second-class quality of sperm-oil was 
the height of any manager's ambition. The 
footlights of the best theaters in the western 

fteminigccnceg of Chicago 

country were composed of lamps set in a 
"float" with the counter- weights. When a 
dark stage was required, or the lamps needed 
trimming or refilling, this mechanical con- 
trivance was made to sink under the stage. I 
believe if the theater, or "Devil's workshop," 
as it was sometimes called, had suddenly been 
illuminated with the same material now in use, 
its enemies would have declared that the light 
was furnished from the "Old Boy's" private 

The new theater, when completed, was 
about ninety feet deep and forty feet wide. 
No attempt was made at ornamentation; and 
as it was unpainted, the simple lines of 
architecture upon which it was constructed 
gave it the appearance of a large dry-goods 
box with a roof. I do not think my father, 
or McKenzie, ever owned anything with a 
roof until now, so they were naturally proud 
of their possession. 

In the midst of our rising fortunes a heavy 
blow fell upon us. A religious revival was in 
progress at the time, and the fathers of the 
church not only launched forth against us in 
their sermons, but by some political manoeuvre 
got the city to pass a new law enjoining a heavy 
license against our "unholy" calling; I forget 
the amount, but it was large enough to be 
prohibitory. Here was a terrible condition of 
affairs: all our available funds invested, the 
legislature in session, the town full of people, 

, CJicagoan 

and we by a heavy license denied the privilege 
of opening the new theater! 

In the midst of our trouble a young lawyer 
called on the managers. He had heard of the 
injustice, and offered, if they would place the 
matter in his hands, to have the license taken 
off, declaring that he only desired to see fair 
play, and he would accept no fee whether he 
failed or succeeded. The case was brought 
up before the council. The young lawyer 
began his harangue. He handled the subject 
with tact, skill and humor, tracing the history 
of the drama from the time when Thespis acted 
in a cart to the stage of to-day. He illustrated 
his speech with a number of anecdotes, and 
and kept the council in a roar of laughter; his 
good-humor prevailed, and the exorbitant tax 
was taken off. 

This young lawyer was very popular in 
Springfield, and was honored and beloved by 
all who knew him, and after the time of which 
I write he held rather an important position in 
the government of the United States. He now 
lies buried near Springfield, under a monument 
commemorating his greatness and his virtues 
and his name was Abraham Lincoln! 

Chicago's f i m asailroad g^gtemg 

[Reprinted from Andraes's "History of Chicago."] 

IT took many years for the people of Illinois 
to decide that the proper highway over 
which the wealth of the Northwest was to 
pass should be a combination of lake and rail- 
road, rather than of lake, canal and river. 
The river towns had, since the first settlement, 
enjoyed a monopoly of the public favor, and 
even for some time after a few railroads had 
been chartered, these proposed highways 
seemed to push toward the river and to promise 
most of their benefits to the river sections. 
St. Louis, especially, which had for many 
years enjoyed a large river trade, was looking 
for still greater commercial supremacy, whether 
the rich state to the east should decide to 
throw its energies into the improvement of the 
Illinois & Michigan Canal or into the develop- 
ment of a grand railway system. The handi- 
work of this wealthy Missouri town is early 
seen in the legislative proceedings of Illinois. 
The first movement of this state looking toward 
the construction of a railway was an act 
passed in January, 1831, authorizing a survey 
from the bluffs of St. Clair County, along 
the American bottom, to the Mississippi 
River, near St. Louis. Commissioners were 

of Chicago 

appointed for this purpose. At the same 
session the commissioners of the Illinois & 
Michigan Canal were to ascertain whether a 
railroad or a canal would be preferable between 
the Chicago and Desplaines rivers. A canal 
was deemed more desirable. Even the plank 
roads through Illinois seemed to be naturally 
tending toward the great river town. Already 
a state road had been built from Vincennes, 
Indiana, to St. Louis, and was much traveled. 
In 1832 the Springfield & Alton Turnpike 
road was incorporated, its river terminus to be 
in St. Clair County, opposite St. Louis. 
Chicago was, however, early alive to the 
necessity of constructing a system of railways 
which should cut the many ties then binding 
her own legitimate territory to her old rival. 

There was yet another candidate for com- 
mercial supremacy in the field, and the state 
was for some time undetermined as to whether 
the harbor and canal of Chicago would tend to 
develop this city into a greater business center 
than the lead mines would the village of Galena. 
As previously remarked, the friends of Chicago 
saw the necessity of doing something to bring 
her naturally tributary territory into close com- 
munication with herself, and, also, by some 
system which should not pour a flood of ad- 
vantages into the rich city which sat by the 
river, waiting to be made wealthier. The agi- 
tation of a great central railroad through the 
state therefore commenced, which was to be 


f it$t ftailroafc 

operated in connection with the Illinois & 
Michigan Canal, and to strike the southern 
border of Illinois, at or near the junction of 
the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, there to con- 
nect with the railway system of the South. 
The Illinois Central Railroad may be called 
the first great "St. Louis cut-off," and as such,* 
placed Chicago firmly upon her throne as the 
magnificent Queen of the West. The preface 
to this triumphant undertaking was the intro- 
duction of a bill in the state senate, in 1832, 
by Lieutenant-Governor A. M. Jenkins, for 
the survey of a central railroad from Cairo to 
Peru. But public opinion had not yet been 
molded to see its necessity, and there the 
project rested. In 1834 the Chicago and 
Vincennes Railroad was incorporated, but the 
work was not commenced for many years 
thereafter. Interest in the central railroad 
was revived by an enthusiastic letter, which 
appeared in the public prints, written by Sidney 
Breese, circuit judge, afterward judge of the 
state supreme court, and United States senator. 
It is as follows: 

VANDALIA, October 16, 1835. 


Dear Sir, Having some leisure from the labors 
of my circuit, I am induced to devote a portion of 
it in giving to the public a plan, the outline of which 
was suggested to me by an intelligent friend in Bond 
County a few days since (Mr. Waite of Greenville), 
by which the North may get their long-wished-for 
canal, and the southern and interior counties a 


$ttmini$tmtt$ of Chicago 

channel of communication quite as essential to their 
prosperity. In doing so, I have not stopped to 
inquire if my motives may not be assailed, and my- 
self subjected to unkind remarks, believing, as I do, 
that the subject is of so much importance as to 
throw all personal considerations into the shade. 
The plan then is this : At the junction of the canal 
with the Illinois River let a railroad be constructed, 
to extend to the confluence of the Ohio and 
Mississippi, following, as near as may be, the third 
principal meridian, and let the credit of the state be 
pledged for the funds necessary to complete both 
works. This would be doing equal and impartial 
justice to three of the most prominent portions of 
our state, and would create a unity of effort and 
concert of action that would overcome every obstacle. 
The general government also would grant some of 
the unappropriated land on the contemplated road 
throughout its whole extent in aid of the undertaking, 
and that it can be accomplished with the means we 
can raise there can be no manner of doubt. When 
made, its benefits will be incalculable. It will make 
the southern and interior counties, cause them to 
settle, raise the value of their lands (which are 
intrinsically as good as any), and furnish the means 
of transportation for their products either to a 
northern or southern market, of which they are now 
destitute. It is a stupendous project, but one so 
easy of accomplishment, so just, so equal, and 
so well calculated to revive the drooping- energies 
of the South and of the interior, that no doubt can 
be entertained, if our effort is made at the approach- 
ing session of the legislature, but that the canal and 
the road will be under contract in less than six 
months after the loan is authorized. 

No sectional objections can operate successfully 
against the project, nor will the people complain of 
a loan the benefits of which are to be so general 
and so important. Posterity will have no cause of 
complaint if we do leave them a debt to pay, when 

f irgt ftatfroati 

at the same time we leave them the most ample 
means for discharging it. These things have not 
been regarded in the proper light. No objection 
should ever be made to incurring such debts when 
the fund is left out of which to pay them. As well 
might the heir object to taking his estate of half a 
million because encumbered by a mortgage of two 
hundred thousand dollars. By a united, zealous 
effort at the next session, an artificial artery through 
the heart of our state, the fairest and richest in the 
Union, can be made, which will not be surpassed 
by the stupendous achievements of a similar kind 
in the other and older states. To avoid jealousies 
and heartburnings, let the expenditures on both 
works commence at the same time and be prosecuted 
with equal energy, and, when this main artery is 
finished, it will not be long before smaller ones 
branching off to the Wabash and Upper Mississippi 
will be constructed. Then Illinois will rival any 
other state of our vast confederacy, not excepting 
even that which is so proudly, yet so justly, styled 
the "Empire State." 

To ascertain the interests that can be brought to 
bear in its favor, take a map of the state and trace 
upon it the proposed route, and notice the many 
important and flourishing counties and towns it will 
pass through and which it will benefit. 

Assuming Utica or Ottawa as the point at which 
the canal will terminate, the mouth of the Ohio bears 
from it some few miles west. To reach it, the road 
would pass through La Salle, McLean, Macon, a part 
of Shelby, Fayette, a part of Bond, Clinton, Wash- 
ington, Perry, Jackson, Union, and terminate as 
above in Alexander County. Pursuing nearly a 
direct line, it would pass through Bloomington, 
Decatur and Vandalia, where it would intersect the 
National Road, Carlyle, New Nashville, Pinck- 
neyville, Brownsville, Jpnesboro, all seats of justice 
of the counties in which they are situate. Along 
the whole route, especially on the southern portion 


of Chicago 

of it, abundant materials of the best kind can be 
had to construct the work. The distance from one 
extreme to the other, on a straight line, is only three 
hundred miles, and the necessary deviations from 
that course will not make it more than three hundred 
and fifty miles. Three fourths of it (that is to 
say, from Utica or Ottawa to Pinckneyville, in 
Perry County), the surface of the country, so far 
as you can determine by the eye, is level or undu- 
lating; the remainder is hilly, but by no means 

Taking the estimated cost of the Alton & Springfield 
road as data (which is on an average a fraction 
over $7,000 per mile), the cost of this will not exceed 
$2,500,000, a sum insignificant indeed when we con- 
sider the immense benefits to ourselves and to 
posterity that must flow from its expenditure for 
such an object. Allowing fifteen miles an hour as 
the maximum of speed upon it, a locomotive with 
its train of cars can kindle its fire at Ottawa in the 
morning and on the next rekindle it at the junction 
of the Ohio. From this point an uninterrupted 
communication exists at all seasons with every part 
of the world, and when the canal and the lakes of 
the North are locked up by ice the markets of the 
South can be reached with certainty and speed by 
the railway and the Mississippi. Let then the South, 
the interior, and the North unite let the project be 
submitted at the coming session, let the loan be 
authorized, and let us all enter upon if with that 
determined spirit which should characterize all great 
undertakings, and success is certain. They who 
shall be instrumental in its commencement and com- 
pletion will have erected for themselves a monument 
more durable than marble, and throughout all future 
time will receive, as they well deserve, the grateful 
thanks of a generous people. I hope some gentle- 
men may feel sufficient interest in this matter to 
consider it maturely and give the result of their 
deliberations to the public through the newspapers. 


It is a great, magnificent and feasible project. It 
can, it will, be accomplished. 

I am, sir, very respectfully your obedient servant, 

This able tetter renewed the waning interest 
in railroad matters. Meetings were held 
throughout the state, conventions pronounced 
in favor of railroad and canal building, and 
as a result the files of the legislature were lit- 
erally weighed down with bills and notices of 
bills to provide for railroad and canal con- 

Many opposed the enterprise in the central 
part of the state, because it was seen that such 
a north-and-south line would divert much of 
the traffic which that section might derive from 
a road crossing Illinois from east to west. 
Some localities were pledged to the support of 
the Wabash & Mississippi. The line of road 
as traced in Judge Breese's letter did not touch 
Springfield, and therefore was not looked upon 
with great favor by the citizens of that place. 
Those also who were most ardent in their 
support of the Illinois & Michigan Canal feared 
that its construction would be delayed by the 
prosecution of this "stupendous project." 
But Judge Breese never tired in his efforts to 
acquaint the people living along the proposed 
route of the road with the advantages of this 
central artery. He was the prime agent in 
obtaining the support of Senator Douglas. 
Chicago also was stretching her arms out 


$eminicence of Chicago 

toward the South and the West. "Internal 
improvement" was the cry of everyone. With 
the meeting of the legislature at Vandalia, in 
1836, came also the convention which proposed 
wilder schemes (for those times) than the 
" internal improvement ' ' act, which became a 
Taw the next year. And the people and the 
press were with the convention, for, under the 
plans proposed, there was not a "cross-road" 
in the state which would not in some way be 

The first railroad chartered out of Chicago, 
upon which work was immediately commenced, 
and which afterward became an important 
section of her great transportation system, was 
the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad, which 
was chartered January 16, 1836. The docu- 
ment was prepared by Ebenezer Peck and T. 
W. Smith, with the object of increasing the 
value of real estate at both points ; but Galena 
being then the leading village of the West, 
obtained precedence in the naming of the road. 
The capital stock was placed at $100,000, but 
could be increased to $1,000,000,- and the 
incorporators were given the choice of operating 
the road by animal or steam power. They 
were allowed three years from January 1 6, 
1836, in which to begin work. E. D. Taylor, 
Jesse B. Thomas, Jr., J. C. Goodhue, Peter 
Temple, William Bennett, Thomas Drummond 
and J . W. Turner were named as commissioners 
to receive subscriptions. The survey of the 

fit$t foailroafc 

road was begun in February, 1837, by Engi- 
neer James Seymour, with his assistants, from 
the foot of North Dearborn Street, and ran 
due west to the Desplaines River. In June, 
1837, surveyors and laborers were discharged. 
In 1838 work was resumed, piles being driven 
along the line of Madison Street and stringers 
placed upon them. These operations were 
continued under the direction of E . K . Hubbard, 
until the collapse of the enterprise during the 
same year. The ambition of Chicago was 
evidently a little ahead of her means, and the 
Galena & Chicago Union had to wait ten years 
before it was fairly placed upon a successful 

On January 18, 1836 (two days after the 
incorporation of the Galena & Chicago Union), 
the Illinois Central was incorporated. The 
incorporators numbered fifty-eight and they 
were empowered to construct a railroad from 
a point on the Ohio to a point on the Illinois, 
near La Salle, with the object of forming a 
connection between the canal, then projected, 
and the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and thence 
to the Gulf of Mexico. But the charter and 
the fifty-eight incorporators failed to accom- 
plish anything in the way of railroad building 
and the "stupendous project" collapsed, 
remaining in that lamentable condition until 
revived by its immense land grant, in Septem- 
ber, 1850. 

Up to the latter part of 1837 the only road 

ftcmmigcenceg of Chicago 

in the state which had been made a success 
was the "Coal Mine Bluff Railroad," built by 
ex-Governor Reynolds and friends, and extend- 
ing from his coal-fields, six miles from the 
Mississippi River, to East St. Louis. Among 
other difficulties overcome by the energetic 
young men was the bridging of a lake over two 
thousand feet across. The road was worked 
without iron, and with horse-power, was regu- 
larly chartered in 1841, and long afterward 
became known as the "Illinois & St. Louis 
Railroad." Governor Reynolds' railroad is 
claimed to be the first one actually constructed 
in the Mississippi Valley, and, within the cir- 
cumstances, he appropriately asserts that "it 
was the greatest work or enterprise ever per- 
formed in Illinois. But," he adds, "it well 
nigh broke us all." And the experience of 
these pioneers with that little six-mile section 
of road was the experience of hundreds of 
other would-be railroad builders, who made 
more ambitious attempts within the next dozen 
of years. 

But the enthusiasm and the 'sentiment 
most prevalent during 1836-37 are all incor- 
porated in the "Internal Improvement Act" 
of February 27, 1837. The canal was pro- 
gressing; thirteen hundred and forty miles of 
railroad were to be built; rivers and creeks 
were to be rendered navigable, and no less 
than $200,000 were to be distributed throughout 
the townships of the state, which were doomed 
1 02 

f irgt ftatfroafc 

to exist far away from the line of canals, 
railroads or navigable streams. To prove the 
magnificence of this legislative dream, the rail- 
roads were to be begun at both ends at the 
same moment; so that the Illinoisans from 
east and west and from north and south could 
experience the greatest happiness in their 
consciousness of the impartiality and wisdom 
of their legislature. 

The act appropriated $250,000 to the Great 
Western Railroad from Vincennes to St. Louis; 
$3,500,000 for a railroad from Cairo to the 
southern terminus of the canal and to Galena; 
$1,600,000 for a "southern cross railroad" 
from Alton to Mount Carmel and to Shawnee- 
town; $1,850,000 for a "northern cross rail- 
road" from Quincy to Springfield and thence 
to the Indiana line, in the direction of La 
Fayette; $650,000 for a branch of the Central 
road, in the direction of Terre Haute; $700,- 
OOO for a railroad from Peoria to Warsaw, on 
the Mississippi; $600,000 from lower Alton 
to the Central; $150,000 for a railroad from 
Belleville to intersect the Alton and Mount 
Carmel line; $350,000 for a railroad from 
Bloomington to Mackinaw, and a branch 
through Tremont to Pekin. The total amount 
appropriated for railroad building was $9,650,- 
ooo. William K. Ackerman, in a paper read 
before the Chicago Historical Society, February 
20, 1883, gives the following extract from the 
report of Murray McConnel, commissioner, to 

ncmimrrwc0" of Chicago 

the fund commissioners, which is dated August 
II, 1837: 

" 'The kind of iron wanted is of the width and 
thickness that requires twenty-two tons to the mile, 
including plates, bolts, etc. . . . If you should believe 
that iron will decline in price so that the same may 
be bought next year for less than at present, you 
may contract for the delivery of thirty miles, say six 
hundred and sixty tons or thereabouts, as we may 
not want to use more than that quantity in this dis- 
trict through the next season. . . . You will also 
contract for the building of one locomotive of the 
most improved plan, and a suitable number of pas- 
senger and burthen cars to be shipped via New 
Orleans to the house of McConnel, Ormsbee & Co., 
Naples, 111.' 

"The commissioners' report to Governor Carlin 
of December 26, 1838, gives the estimated cost of 
this four hundred and fifty-seven miles of road 
(which covers only a portion of the present line of 
the Illinois Central) to be $3,809,145, an average 
cost per mile of $8,326. The commissioners, in 
their report to the governor, say: ' In making these 
estimates the board has included all the expenditures 
for superintendence, engineering, and all other inci- 
dental expenses. Easy grades have in general been 
adopted, and in all cases calculations have been 
made for the most useful and durable structures; 
and the board has no doubt but that the- works may 
be constructed upon the most approved plans at the 
cost estimated upon each work. It is believed that 
in every instance the lines may be improved, locations 
changed, and improvements made in construction 
that may lessen the cost far below these prices.' 
The same piece of road has cost, properly built and 
equipped as it stands to-day, $23,950,456, or an 
average of $52,408 per mile. ... If slight defects 
have been found in the law organizing the system, 
or if errors shall have been committed in carrying it 

fit$t ftatfroafc 

into execution, it is what might reasonably have 
been expected in a system so extended. In locating 
1,300 miles of road and performing other duties 
equally difficult, it could not well be otherwise than 
that errors of judgment should occur and that we 
should be brought into contact with private interests 
and become the unwilling (though necessary and 
unavoidable) cause of disappointment to some, and 
the prostration of splendid but visionary schemes of 
speculation in others." 

Engineer T. B. Ransom, in his report of 
December 3, 1838, after noticing the progress 
of work upon the only section of the great 
system ever completed by the state (a portion 
of the Northern Cross Railroad), concludes as 
follows : 

"Believing conscientiously that the future pros- 
perity and happiness of the people will be greatly 
promoted by carrying out the system to its full and 
entire completion, I am bound to advocate it to the 
extent of my abilities. So far from its being too 
large and extended, I believe that it might be enlarged 
with great propriety and decided advantage to the 
general welfare of the whole state (if suitable 
appropriations were made in addition to those already 
granted by the legislature), not only to improve the 
navigation of our rivers, but in connection with the 
same to drain the ponds and lakes, which can be 
accomplished with an inconsiderable expense in com- 
parison to the general utility, health and pecuniary 
prosperity of the whole state. . . . And it appears 
to me that even at a period when steamboats are in 
full operation, the time and risk of life which could 
be saved by traveling on our roads would enable 
them effectually to compete with the river com- 

The Northern Cross Road from Meredosia, 

of Chicago 

on the Illinois River, to Springfield, was com- 
pleted in February, 1842, the survey having 
been commenced in May, 1837. The road 
cost the state for actual construction $ 1 ,000,000, 
was operated for five years at a loss, and in 
1847 realized $21,100 in state indebtedness. 
The attempt to allay local jealousies by starting 
the different roads simultaneously from each 
terminus was one cause of the collapse of the 
stupendous scheme; as, to do this, immediate 
and large appropriations were required. The 
result was that in two years from the passage 
of the act the state was checkered with patches 
of road and had virtually nothing to show for 
the $6,000,000 of indebtedness, except a soli- 
tary locomotive running over a few miles of 
the Northern Cross Road from Meredosia 
eastward. The act which had caused all this 
mischief was repealed in 1839. Far from 
lifting every community into an unexampled 
condition of prosperity, the operations of the 
law laid the basis of the present debt of 
the state, and the formal abandonment of 
the improvements undoubtedly retarded its 

Upon the suspension of operations on the 
Galena & Chicago Union Railroad, the people 
of the Rock River country made several 
attempts to avail themselves of Chicago's in- 
creasing comm ercial importance . First a plank 
road was urged to be built from Chicago to 
the Rock River, at a cost of over $300,000. 


Next, in 1843, a survey was made between 
Joliet and Aurora for a canal to connect the 
Fox River with the Illinois & Michigan Canal; 
and the suggestion was favorably received that 
it would be a plausible undertaking to extend 
the improvements to Rockford. But these 
schemes were abandoned, and in 1846 the 
Chicago and Galena Union was revived by the 
convention held at Rockford in January of that 
year. Delegates to the number of three hun- 
dred and nineteen attended from all the counties 
on the proposed line between Galena and 
Chicago. The officers selected were: Presi- 
dent, Thomas Drummond, of Jo Daviess; vice- 
presidents, William H. Brown, of Cook, Joel 
Walker, of Boone, Spooner Ruggles, of Ogle, 
and Elijah Wilcox, of Kane; secretaries, T. 
D. Robertson, of Winnebago, J. B. F. Russell, 
of Cook, and S. P. Hyde, of McHenry. A 
resolution was adopted that the members of 
the convention obtain subscriptions to the stock 
of the company, if satisfactory arrangements 
could be made with its holders; and resolutions 
Were also passed, presented by J. Young Scam- 
mon, showing the necessity of a general sub- 
scription to the stock by the farmers along the 
proposed route. Galena and Chicago vied with 
each other in the renewed enthusiasm with which 
the enterprise was taken up. But about this 
time Messrs. Townsend and Mather offered 
the improvements, land, and charter of the 
road, to Chicago citizens for $20,000. The 

of Chicago 

offer was accepted under the following condi- 
tions: The payment of the entire sum in full- 
paid stock of the company $10,000 immedi- 
ately after the organization of the board of 
directors, and $10,000 on the completion of 
the road to Rock River, or as soon as a divi- 
dend of six per cent would be earned. On 
December 15, 1846, the persons named above 
subscribed toward the expenses of a survey, 
and had one made during the succeeding year, 
by Richard P. Morgan. 1 

The Alton & Springfield road had been com- 
menced the previous year, and on February 
27, 1847, a charter was granted to the Alton 
& Sangamon Company, now a portion of the 
Chicago & Alton system. On the same day 
the Rock Island and La Salle line was chartered, 
the nucleus of the Chicago, Rock Island & 
Pacific Railroad Company. The "Pacific" 
termination of the name was early foreshadowed 
by the hopeful, public-spirited, and, as it 
seemed to the more conservative, the "crazy" 
sentiment of the times. During the legislative 
session of 1847 the following joint -resolution 
was adopted: 

1 Richard P. Morgan, who died about two years 
ago, was one of the oldest civil engineers in the 
United States, and assisted in laying out many of 
the principal railroads in the Union. He made the 
experimental survey of the Galena Air Line road, 
the first railway emanating from Chicago. At the 
time of his death he was over ninety-two years of 

1 08 

f irgt ftatfroafc 

"Resolved by the House of Representatives of the 
State of Illinois, the Senate concurring herein, that 
we have seen and read with pleasure the very inter- 
esting report of our worthy and intelligent Senator 
Breese, upon the proposition of Mr. Whitney, of 
New York, on the subject of a railroad from Lake 
Michigan to the Pacific Ocean, and heartily concur 
in the sentiments and ideas therein set forth. 

"Resolved further, that our Senators and Repre- 
sentatives in Congress be, and they are hereby, 
requested and instructed to use their influence in 
sustaining the propositions of Mr. Whitney, which 
have been submitted to the Congress of the United 
States for a railroad from Lake Michigan to the 
Pacific Ocean. 

"Resolved, that a copy of the above resolutions 
be transmitted by the Governor of this State to each 
of our Senators and Representatives in Congress." 

. Subscription books were opened at settle- 
ments along the proposed line of the Galena & 
Chicago Union. August 10, 1847, William 
B. Ogden and J. Young Scammon solicited 
subscriptions in the city, but could only obtain 
promises for $20,000 from all the real estate 
men or others particularly interested. Some 
merchants opposed the scheme, fearing it 
would take the sale of goods from Chicago to 
points on the line of the road. Up to April I, 
1848, twelve hundred and six subscribers 
guaranteed $351,800, on which sum payments 
amounting to $20,817.68 were made up to 
that date. Outside the city there was scarcely 
any money, and the payment for subscriptions 
beyond the first instalment of two and one 
half per cent had to depend upon future crops. 

ncmmisrcnrrs of Chicago 

The people subscribed as liberally as their 
limited means would permit, and succeeded in 
raising a fair amount. Railroad meetings were 
not frequent in those days, the settlers residing 
so far apart that they could not assemble on 
short notice, and those interested in placing 
the stock were obliged to travel the county to 
secure its taking. In many settlements the 
residents were found willing to co-operate, the 
ladies vieing with the men in their readiness 
to render assistance. They appreciated how 
necessary it was to have the road built, and 
were prepared to make any personal sacrifice 
to further the undertaking. Many of them 
helped to pay for the stock subscribed for at 
their solicitation from the profits derived from 
the sale of butter, cheese, and other household 
productions, even depriving themselves of the 
means required to educate their children, that 
a railroad might be built for the good of that 
and future generations. 

In the first annual report of the Galena & 
Chicago Union Railroad Company, dated April 
5, 1848, William B. Ogden, the president, 

"The Michigan Central Railroad Company de- 
cided to terminate their road at New Buffalo in July 
last, and steps were taken preparing the way for an 
extension of their road to Chicago about the same 
time. Upon this, your directors proceeded at once 
to announce their intention of opening books of 
subscription to stock, for extension of this continous 
line of railroad from Chicago westward to Galena. 
1 10 


Books were accordingly opened at Chicago and 
Galena, and at the towns intermediate, on the loth 
day of August last and about $250,000 of stock were 
then subscribed. The first expectation of the board 
was to obtain a general subscription from the citizens 
of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin resid- 
ing along the line of the contemplated road and in 
its vicinity, as indicative of their faith in the profit- 
able character of the roads when constructed, and 
of the general interest of the people in its construc- 
tion; and with the aid of this subscription, to open 
negotiations with and solicit other subscriptions or 
loans from Eastern capitalists, sufficient in amount 
to justify the commencement of the work. The 
amount subscribed, however, on the opening of the 
books, was so liberal, and the feeling manifested 
along the line so ardent and so universal, that it was 
quite apparent the country and the people immedi- 
ately interested in the construction of the road, 
were able to, and would, increase their subscriptions 
to an amount sufficient, in connection with the credits 
on iron and engines then offered us, to build the 
road from Chicago to Elgin at once, and own it 
ourselves. Experienced parties at the East, largely 
interested in railroad stock, and decidedly friendly 
to the success of the Galena & Chicago road, 
were consulted and made acquainted with the par- 
ticulars of our position at this juncture, and with 
the proposed plan of obtaining the additional means 
at the East necessary to secure completion of the 
road to Fox River. They were clearly and decidedly 
of the opinion that the wisest and surest way to 
accomplish the speedy extension and completion of 
the entire route to Galena was for the inhabitants 
along the line of the road to raise means themselves 
for its commencement and completion to the Fox 
River and Elgin, forty-one miles, when there was 
everything to assure us that the comparatively small 
cost of construction and extreme productiveness of 
the country tributary to the road would secure such 

l!fmtmrcwc0 of Chicago 

large returns as would enable us to command capital 
from any quarter, or loans or increased subscriptions 
to stock for the extension of the road to Rock Island, 
and to Galena, without delay. This course was 
adopted, the object explained and approved by sub- 
scribers, and further subscriptions solicited and 
obtained on this basis of operation, to an extent 
exceeding altogether the sum of $350,000 (about 
$10,000 of stock subscriptions have since been added) 
and the work was commenced in earnest. A corps 
of engineers was then (September last) immediately 
employed to survey and locate the line from Chicago 
to the Fox River, and prepare it for letting. The 
time occupied in doing so has somewhat exceeded 
what was at first supposed to be necessary, and the 
road, except the first seven miles, was not prepared for 
letting until the first of March last, when the grading 
and bridging of the first thirty-two miles (inclusive 
grading of the seven miles let last fall) was put 
under contract, and on very favorable terms, as 
will appear by reference to the report of the chief 

Under the provisions of the amended charter 
of February, 1847, tne owners of stock met 
April 5, 1848, and elected the following named 
directors: William B. Odgen, president; 
Walter L. Newberry, Charles Walker, James 
H. Collins, J. Young Scammon, William H. 
Brown, John B. Turner, Thomas Dyer, Ben- 
jamin W. Raymond, George Smith, all of 
Chicago; Charles S. Hempstead and Thomas 
Drummond, of Galena; Allen Robbins, of New 
York. Francis Howe was chosen secretary 
and Treasurer. Thomas D. Robertson, of 
Rockford, was elected director vice Allen 
Robbins, resigned, in April, 1849; Dexter A. 


Knowlton, of Freeport, vice J. Young Scammon, 
resigned in 1850. 

The early canvassing along the proposed 
line of the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad 
for subscriptions toward building the road was 
made by Messrs. Ogden and Scammon, who 
traveled the whole distance from Chicago to 
Galena for this purpose, holding meetings and 
obtaining subscriptions at all considerable 
places on the route. Subsequently Charles 
Walker, Isaac N. Arnold, John Locke Scripps, 
John B. Turner, and others canvassed at 
points on the line of the road. B. W. 
Raymond and John B. Turner visited the East 
in 1848, with the object of securing subscrip- 
tions to the stock. Their efforts resulted in 
the sale of $15,000 of stock, and a loan of 
$7,000. This money completed the road 
across the marsh to the foot of Chicago Hill. 
Again they purchased two locomotives, from 
the Baldwin works. In the meantime, Mr. 
Odgen, then a member of the common council, 
had introduced an ordinance into that body, 
which was voted down, proposing to grant the 
right of way to the road from the west into 
the city on a line with Kinzie Street, with the 
necessary privileges for constructing tracks, 
drawbridges, and depots; notwithstanding 
which, the contract for the first thirty-two 
miles of road from Chicago was let March I, 
1848, the first sixteen miles to be finished by 
August I, and the balance by October I, 1848. 

ncmims'ccnrcs" of Chicago 

John Van Nortwick had been appointed 
engineer. George W. Waite, assistant engi- 
neer, drove the first grade-peg, near the corner 
of Kinzie and Halsted streets, in June, 1848, 
then a point outside the city limits. The 
council had refused the entrance of the road 
into the city, but granted leave to build a tem- 
porary track east to the river so that one of 
the two engines could be brought to the head 
of the road. 

In September the management purchased a 
locomotive of the Tonawanda (N. Y.) Com- 
pany, and also one of the Auburn & Syracuse 
Company. These were fitted up with new 
gearing and boilers, and the first one was 
placed on the section between Chicago and the 
Desplaines River, in November. The "Pioneer" 
arrived on the brig Buffalo October 10, 1848. 
The engine was taken off the boat on Sunday 
by Redjnond Prindeville, Wells Lake, George 
W. Waite, George C. Morgan and John Ebert, 
the engineer. This engine was sold by the 
Baldwin Company on commission for the 
Rochester & Tonawanda Railroad - Company. 
It served its purpose well and is in existence 
to-day, as if waiting some signal act of public 

When the Desplaines River division was in 
working order, the rolling stock consisted of 
six old freight cars and the "Pioneer." By 
November 2ist the engine was running daily 
on the ten miles of completed road, west of 


Chicago, conveying materials and laborers to 
carry on the work. The day previous Chicago 
received the first wheat ever transported by 
rail. Upon the invitation of the board of 
directors, a number of stockholders and editors 
of the city took a "flying trip" over Chicago's 
system of railways, then extending ten miles 
west to the Desplaines River! A couple of 
baggage wagons had been provided with seats, 
and at about four o'clock p. M. the train, bear- 
ing away about one hundred persons, moved 
from the foot of North Dearborn Street, where 
a crowd had collected to witness the novel 
spectacle. On the return trip a load of wheat 
was transferred from a farmer's wagon to one 
of the cars, and this was the first grain trans- 
ported by rail to Chicago. This fact soon 
became known to the farmers living west of 
the city, and the company made arrangements 
to accommodate the expected increase of their 
business. They at once placed covered cars 
upon the track, and about a week after the line 
was open to travel the business men of Chicago 
were electrified by the announcement that over 
thirty loads of wheat were at the Desplaines 
River waiting to be transported to the city. 
The expected receipts of the road would 
amount to $15 per day for the winter, and 
wheat-buyers were informed (partly with a 
view of increasing the passenger traffic) that 
they must now take their stations at the 
Desplaines River instead of at Randolph Street 


Bridge. Facts and statistics were pouring in 
from Galena also, showing the benefits that 
would accrue when the line should reach that 
flourishing city. For instance, in January, 
1849, tne public was informed that the arrivals 
in Galena fr&m March 17 to December 6, 

1848, were: Keel-boats, 158; flat-boats, 107; 
that the revenue was $1,950, and the value of 
the exports for 1848 was $1,602,050.40. 
Furthermore that "a large portion of these will 
seek an eastern market by railroad." The 
citizens of Galena were shoulder to shoulder 
with Chicago in the building of this road, but 
rumors were soon afloat that there was a dis- 
position in certain quarters to cut off that 
thriving town from the benefits of the road 
which she was doing so much to build. To 
allay these suspicions, at the annual meeting 
held April 5, 1849, the stockholders resolved 
that Galena was the true terminus of the road 
and that "any diversion would be in violation 
of good faith, a fraud on the stockholders and 
an illegal perversion of the charter. ' ' Of the 
$150,000 loan, authorized in May, 1848, to be 
negotiated, $71,700 had then been expended. 

Henry W. Clarke, DeWitt Lane, now of 
Lane's Island, and Major James Mulford, were 
the commissioners appointed to procure the 
right of way for the Galena & Chicago Union 
Railroad, and to assess damages within Cook 
County. This work was undertaken in March, 

1849. The commissioners were accompanied 



by William B. Odgen, John B, Turner, John Van 
Nortwick, engineer, James H. Rees, "Ogden's 
own surveyor," and a few others. When the 
party reached Harlem, then called Oak Ridge, 
the commissioners agreed that the assessment 
of damages for right of way should be merely 
nominal, and from this agreement resulted the 
offer of six cents to each land-owner along the 
route. This offer was accepted without dis- 
sent, quit-claim deeds were made to the com- 
pany, and the roadway was secured. 

The inner history of the Galena & Chicago 
Union Railroad is most valuable, for the reason 
that it goes into such details as are not 
generally given in annual reports . Such facts as 
a reminiscence could only contain have been 
fortunately noted down by one who was himself 
a most important pillar of Chicago enterprise. 
In J. Young Scammon's biography of William 
B. Ogden, this history appears to be well and 
impartially treated; and, therefore, in justice 
to the men named, is here given so much of 
that sketch as relates to this road and its 
builders. 1 

"In the winter of 1846 a convention was held at 
Rockford, the half-way house between Chicago and 
Galena, to favor the work. There was a large 
meeting, attended by persons from Galena to Chicago. 
Thomas Drummond, then residing at Galena, presided 
over the assembly. The late William H. Brown, 
always a director and subsequently a president of the 
Galena Company and of the Chicago Historical 

1 Fergus's Series, Biography of William B. Odgen. 

of <Clncago 

Society, with Benjamin W. Raymond, our ever public- 
spirited citizen, and more than once mayor of the city, 
and a director of the road till it merged in the North- 
western, and who still remains among us to witness and 
rejoice with others over the success of his faithful 
public efforts, was among the active men there. Isaac 
N. Arnold, so long and favorably known in the politics 
of Illinois, and as a representative in the late War 
Congress of the United States, and long a leader at the 
Chicago bar, now president of the Chicago Historical 
Society and devoting the calm of mature years to 
literary work, with General Hart L. Stewart, one of 
Chicago's oldest citizens, whose whole life has been 
spent in building public works west of Lake Erie, in 
Michigan, upon the Illinois & Michigan Canal and 
elsewhere, and in the public councils of the state or 
official positions under the government, rode in the 
same carriage with the writer, and were active partici- 
pants in the work of the convention, as was Thomas 
D. Robertson, of Rockford, for many years a director 
of the road. We were two days on our journey each 
way, spending the night at Elgin, then a little hamlet. 
The landlord there told us that he was against rail- 
roads. They were bad things for farmers and hotel- 
keepers, but good for ' big fellows at the ends of the 
road.' He 'intended to make money while the 
road was building and then sell out and go beyond 
them.' He declared that Elgin would cease to be 
a place of business as soon as the railroad went 
beyond it. 

"The meeting was harmonious and quite unan- 
imous in its action, the only exception being a 
tavern-keeper at Marengo, who, fearing that his busi- 
ness would be injured by the road, appeared with 
his friends in the convention and denounced railroads 
as 'undemocratic, aristocratic institutions that would 
ride rough-shod over the people and grind them to 
powder. The only roads,' said he, 'that the people 
want are good common or plank roads, upon which 
everybody can travel.' 


fit$t ftatfroafc 

"In the fall of 1847, Mr. Ogden and the writer 
traveled the entire distance from Chicago to Galena 
together, stopping at all the principal intermediate 
places, making speeches for the road, and going into 
the highways to compel men to come in and help the 
enterprise, even if they could not take more than a 
single share of stock. Many farmers and other 
persons, be it said to their credit, did come forward 
and subscribe, though they had to borrow the first 
instalment of two dollars and fifty cents on a share 
and get trusted "till after harvest" for the same. 
Mr. Ogden was in his element in such enterprises. 
His go-aheadativeness here gave full play to his 
imagination, and filled not only himself, but his 
hearers, with high hopes and general courage. When 
it is remembered that it cost five bushels of wheat, 
and often from four days' to a week's journey to 
Chicago with a load of grain to get the first instal- 
ment of a single or a few shares of stock, none can 
doubt the public interest in the enterprise. 

"At Galena, business men and bankers were fearful 
of the effect of the railroad upon their town. Among 
its chief advocates there were Judge Drummond, C. 
M. Hempstead, Elihu B. Washburne, and Thomas 
Hoyne. Galena had long been a very prosperous 
town at the head of navigation on Fever River, and 
the great lead mining center and mercantile distrib- 
utor for northwest Illinois and southwest Wisconsin, 
and the country north in the mines. The great 
obstacles we met there were two; one, the local effect 
upon the town, and the other, the fear that before the 
road should be completed the enterprise would break 
down, the small stockholders sacrificed, and the road 
pass into the hands of the large capitalists. We had 
to meet these objections by the promise to respect 
and protect the local interests of Galena, to whose 
capital we were much indebted in starting the work, 
and a pledge that until the stock rose to par, and was 
salable at that price, we would never allow the work 
to proceed faster than its ready means would justify 

&eminicence of Chicago 

without endangering the capital invested. This 
promise was faithfully kept so long as these two 
persons remained in the directory. It has been said, 
in justification of the abandoning of the west end of 
the line to the Illinois Central Railroad, that Galena 
was doomed, and a different course could not have 
saved it. The writer dissents from this proposi- 
tion, and believes that if the pledges Mr. Odgen and 
he made at Galena had been faithfully, energeti- 
cally, and courageously carried out, Galena would 
have been greatly benefited, and its importance and 
business permanently advanced. But whether this 
opinion be correct or not, Galena was a pioneer in 
the work, and the company had no right to sell her 
birthright to the Illinois Central Company. It would 
not have been done had the two most active directors, 
who were among the largest subscribers to the stock 
when the company was re-organized in the writer's 
office on the southeast corner of Lake and Clark 
streets, in the old Saloon Building, in the city of 
Chicago in 1847, remained in their position in its 

"In a paper read before the Chicago Historical 
Society, by Mr. Arnold, December 20, 1881, on the 
occasion of the presentation, by Mrs. Ogden, of a 
portrait of her late husband, it is said 'the officers 
of the road, after he (Mr. Ogden) had been compelled 
to retire, had received a public dinner (I think at 
Elgin) in which they drank toasts to each other and 
everybody except Mr. Ogden. The omission of his 
name, the man who everyone knew had built the 
road, only made him the more prominent.' If such 
an occasion took place, the occasion must have been 
more marked by the absence of the original and 
most efficient projectors of the road than their 
presence. There were officers of the road that were 
engaged in speculating along its line, as was con- 
fessed some years later, when one of them was 
made a scapegoat. Public allusion having been 
thus made to these personal troubles in the board 
1 20 

f it$t ffiatfroafc 

of directors, it becomes proper to explain the same 
somewhat, as in doing so a trait in Mr. Ogden's 
character and conduct presents him in a very bold 
and advantageous relief, when compared with that 
of some of his associates. Chicago at that time 
was a comparatively small and very ambitious city. 
It had three divisions, occasioned by the river and 
its North and South branches, which run almost at 
right angles with the main river, leaving east of 
them the North and South divisions, and west of 
them the West division, extending the whole length 
of the city. Such divisions always create local 
jealousies, and the selfish interests excited are often 
difficult to manage or control. Mr. Ogden resided 
on the north side of the river, as did three other 
directors, Walter L. Newberry, Thomas Dyer and 
John B. Turner. Two, Thomas Drummond and 
Charles M. Hempstead, lived in Galena, and one, 
Thomas D. Robertson, in Rockford, while the five 
others, Benjamin W. Raymond, George Smith, 
Charles Walker, James H. Collins, and J. Young 
Scammon, lived in the South Division, which was 
then, as now, the principal business and commercial 
portion of the town. Mr. Ogden, being especially 
identified with the North Side, could not exercise as 
much influence in obtaining subscriptions to stock 
in the business portion of town as some of the South 
Side directors, as he was accused by those who 
never suppose other than solely selfish motives can 
influence action, of 'wanting to build a railroad that 
would never pay, to help him sell his lots.' The 
gentlemen on the North Side naturally desired the 
road to cross the North Branch, and locate its 
depots or stations in the North Division; while the 
West Siders could see no necessity of expending 
money to cross the river, because the West Side 
was the largest division of the city and the nearest 
to the country. In the railroad work, either because 
Ogden and Scammon had more time to devote to it, 
or for some other reason, they became the specially 

of Chicago 

active representatives of the road on their respective 
sides of the river. The out-of-town directors could 
rarely attend its meetings, or only when very impor- 
tant questions demanded their presence. These two 
men gave very much of their time to the enterprise, 
Mr. Ogden receiving a small salary in stock, and the 
writer no compensation, except for legal services 
when required by the board. Ogden and Scammon 
traveled over the country together, visited Albany 
and Boston in the interests of the road in company 
with the late Erastus Corning, then president of the 
New York Central Railroad and the controlling 
spirit in the Michigan Central, the only road then in 
operation west of Lake Erie. They hoped to interest 
the Boston gentlemen who were stockholders in and 
engaged in extending the Michigan Central to aid in 
building the Galena. They called upon the Michigan 
Central directors, and especially upon William F. 
Weld, an iron merchant in Boston, who had then 
the reputation of being 'the Railroad King.' They 
were very kindly received and entertained by John 
M. Forbes, then a director of the Michigan Central 
and a wealthy East India merchant, and long since 
identified with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy 
road, and one of its principal stockholders. Mr. 
Weld said to us: 'Gentlemen, I do not remember 
any enterprise of this kind we Boston people have 
taken hold of upon statistics. You must go home, 
raise what money you can, expend it upon your road, 
and when it breaks down, as it surely or in all 
probability will, come and give it to us and we will 
take hold of it and complete it, as we are complet- 
ing the Michigan Central.' A resolution was then 
formed, though not publicly expressed, that the 
Galena should not break down. We came home, 
sought and obtained subscriptions to the stock of 
the road upon the pledge that the stock should 
never be endangered until it rose to par, and the 
holders had ari opportunity of selling their shares at 
that price. This pledge was kept. 


f ir^t ilailroatJ 

"An opportunity occurred, as we were commen- 
cing the work, of buying the old strap rail which was 
being removed from the Rochester & Canandaigua 
road, to be replaced with T iron, together with two 
little second-hand passenger cars and two like 
engines, for $150,000, on a credit of five years, if 
the writer recollects correctly, provided two of the 
directors would endorse the bonds. This would 
require each of the thirteen directors to make him- 
self responsible for a little over one sixth part of 
that sum as guarantee of the Galena company. 
There was one director who said 'he never endorsed 
other people's paper,' and declined to do so, although 
he was subsequently made president and claimed 
credit for building the road, with what propriety and 
how justly, in comparison with the endorsers, let 
others judge. All the others made the requisite 
endorsement, with the understanding that we were 
to stick together and re-elect the old board until 
these bonds should be paid. We went ahead with 
the road and had got out west nine or ten miles, 
across the wet prairie, to the sand ridge, where the 
teams from the country met us, and transferred 
their loads to the cars, making the road pay as soon 
as the first section was completed. We were so 
encouraged that we thought there ought to be no 
doubt about raising money to push the work. Mr. 
Ogden, as president, had boldly made some con- 
tracts with McCagg, Reed & Co., and others, for 
ties and lumber, based upon expectations of raising 
money in New York or at the East. A committee, 
consisting perhaps of Messers. Ogden and Raymond, 
went to the East for that purpose. They returned 
unsuccessful. A meeting of the directors was 
called. It looked blue. To go ahead would en- 
danger the stock. To stop entirely would be a 
fulfillment of the Railroad King's prophecy. Mr. 
Ogden was embarrassed. He knew that many of 
the public had no faith in the railroad, and believed 
it to be, on his part, an undertaking to aid him in 

&eminicetue of 

selling his town lots, they saying that he could well 
afford to lose his stock if it would help him to sell 
his land. Most of the other directors were fearful. 
Mr. Raymond was hopeful, and Walker, Collins, and 
Scammon, courageous. The latter said he believed 
arrangements would be made to defer or extend the 
contracts, and to bridge over the time till the instal- 
ments on the stock that would be paid after the 
harvest should be realized, when the work on the 
road could proceed slowly, yet successfully. Mr. 
Dyer, who then owned the Lake House in the North 
Division, and was very anxious that the work should 
go on and the road be extended to the lake, so as 
to benefit his property, lost faith. The writer called 
him 'a doubting Thomas.' He replied, 'If Mr. 
Scammon has so much faith in the road, I move 
that a committee of five be appointed, with full 
power to do anything they deem expedient, in regard 
to the road, and that Mr. Scammon be chairman of 
that committee, and be authorized to appoint his 
associates.' This was agreed to, and a committee, 
consisting of Mr. Scammon, James H. Collins, 
Charles Walker, Thomas Dyer, and Mr. Raymond, 
appointed to have charge of the subject. This 
committee gave the writer carte blanche. He im- 
mediately applied to George Smith, the only banker 
in the place who could make such a loan, for $20,000 
for six months, to enable him to go on with the 
road. Mr. Smith declined, though director of the 
road, and desirous of seeing it completed. He was 
asked why if he had not the money? He replied, 
'Yes, but I do not wish to lose it. I have no con- 
fidence in the road.' Mr. S. rejoined, 'Don't you 
think I can build the road to Elgin with the $363,000 
stock subscriptions we have of farmers, which are 
good and sure to be paid?' He answered, 'Yes, 
but you are not the president of the road.' Mr. 
Scammon rejoined, 'Don't you think Mr. Ogden 
can?' Mr. Smith said, 'He can, but he won't,' 
adding, 'Mr. Scammon, I will lend you the money.' 

f it$t ftatfroafc 

The writer replied, 'Make out your note, and let me 
have it.' He did so, and the money was taken and 
placed in the treasury of the company, no other 
person in the road, except those connected with the 
loan, knowing from whence it came, except the 
treasurer, the late Frank Howe. This, with arrange- 
ments that were made for extending contracts, 
enabled the road to meet its engagements, and 
prevented any suspension of work thereon. The 
road was pushed and completed to Elgin. It did not 
cost much money in those days to build a flat rail- 
road on mostly level land. Yet to obtain the small 
amount necessary required, at that time, more 
courage and perseverance than is now requisite to 
build a road across the continent. The careful 
economy exercised in the building of this forty 
miles was nevertheless very conspicuous. We had 
money enough only to build the track with very few 
accessories. It was a single straight line, hardly 
more. Station houses, sidings, turn-outs and turn- 
tables had to be, for the most part, deferred to the 

"An incident occurs to the writer which may be 
worth recalling. Upon the completion of the road 
to Elgin, a general invitation was given for an 
excursion over the forty miles between Chicago and 
that place. Among the party was an Irish engineer, 
who had published, in Dublin, a work on railroad 
engineering, which he had with him in bright red 
binding. On alighting from the cars in Chicago, on 
our return, the writer asked him what he thought of 
our road. He replied, 'If it is the engineering you're 
asking about, I don't think anything of it. We 
would spend more in the old country upon the 
engineering of a single mile than you have spent 
upon your entire road.' 

"In the meantime rivalries between the west and 

north sides of the river had sprung up, and some of 

the North Side directors became suspicious that Mr. 

Ogden did not want to extend the road across the 


of Chicago 

North Branch into the North Division, because his 
greater interest was on the West Side. The tem- 
porary depot was then there. Some of the directors 
proposed to the writer to accept the presidency of 
the road. Upon this being declined, it was proposed 
to make him treasurer and financial agent. This 
was also declined, for the reason that it would too 
much interfere with professional work, which the 
writer was unwilling to give up. Meanwhile, certain 
officers of the road had been busy misrepresenting 
Mr. Ogden's actions and intentions to Mr. Scammon 
and Mr. Scammon's to Mr. Ogden, until the latter 
was led to believe that there was a conspiracy to 
turn him out of the presidency and elect the writer 
in his stead. A counter movement was therefore 
undertaken by Mr. Ogden and the few who were in 
his confidence. This movement was not discovered 
until a few days before the election. Nine of the 
directors were very much surprised to learn it, and 
all of these nine sided with the writer. What com- 
binations had been made, and how many proxies 
were held by the parties in this movement, were 
unknown. We started for Elgin, where the meeting 
was to be held. Mr. Ogden's party, with Mr. Arnold 
as their attorney, went in one car, the other Chicago 
directors in another. On the way out, the writer 
said to the directors who were in the car with him, 
that he had been thinking over the matter, and had 
come to the conclusion that inasmuch as we did not 
know how strong the other party were, and what 
they intended ultimately to do, the better way would 
be to propose to them that the writer would decline 
a re-election upon condition that all the other direc- 
tors should be re-elected without opposition and he 
said he would name, as his successor, Mr. Knowlton, 
of Freeport; that the other party would be obliged 
to accept this, or lose Mr. Knowlton's and the other 
Freeport votes, which would certainly defeat them; 
that we could not afford to have an open quarrel, 
which might hurt our credit and embarrass the 

frt$t ftailroafc 

progress of the road. The directors with the writer 
replied, if Mr. Scammon is willing to make this 
proposition they thought it would succeed, but no 
one could ask it of him. He replied that he was 
more interested in the completion and success of 
the road than in any personal question : that he had 
worked solely in the interest of the road as a public 
improvement demanded by the country, and had no 
selfish axes to grind, and that he would make that 
proposition, and trust to time for his justification. 
It was made, much to the surprise of the other party, 
and after some hesitation or consideration, as it 
'broke their slate,' it was accepted. Mr. Ogden 
was re-elected president; but no sooner was Mr. 
Scammon out of the directory than all the batteries 
of the conspirators were turned against Mr. Ogden, 
and his place was made so uncomfortable that at 
the end of the year he left the road. Immediately 
after the election, the nine directors called the con- 
spirators to account; and there was a confession 
that the writer had been grossly misrepresented and 
improperly treated, and a promise made that a 
proper explanation should be made. It was never 
done. But William B. Ogden acted otherwise. 
When he learned the facts, and that we had both 
been made the victims of ambitious and designing 
men who wished to get rid of the writer, because he 
had nipped in the bud their first attempt at spec- 
ulation in the location of the road, and prevented 
its repetition, and because they knew that they were 
watched, and so long as he was in the board such 
movements were likely to be detected and defeated, 
Mr. Ogden came directly to the writer, and, on 
learning what statements these parties had made to 
the latter, relative to Mr. Ogden, at once frankly 
acknowledged that in his action he had been misled 
and imposed upon by those he trusted, and that the 
writer's conduct, to which he had taken so grave 
exception that he felt justified in self-defense to 
enter into combination to defeat his re-election, was 

of Chicago 

entirely in the path of right and duty, if the writer 
believed the representations made to him, as he was 
bound to do within the circumstances." 

The Illinois Central Railroad Company, 
Judge Breese's stupendous project, which had 
been lying dormant, but not dead, since the 
bursting of the internal improvement bubble in 
1839, was taken up with renewed energy in 
1848. John S. Wright, who had early taken 
a deep interest in public enterprises, and was a 
man of great foresight, energy and enthusiasm, 
was actively employed in circulating petitions 
and documents in favor of a land grant from 
the general government to assist in the con- 
struction of the road, while the father of the 
enterprise, Judge Breese, was giving his time 
and energies to it in the Senate of the United 

Mr. Wright flooded the country with docu- 
ments laying the matter before every class of 
people. He is said to have distributed at 
his own expense six thousand copies of peti- 
tions to Congress for a grant of land in aid of 
a railroad from the Upper and Lower Missis- 
sippi to Chicago. Three different ones were 
prepared for the South, Illinois, and the East. 
Judge Douglas said they came to Washington 
by the hundreds, numerously signed, and had 
much influence, being the earliest movement 
for this object outside of Congress, except by 
the Cairo Company. Arrangements were then 
(January, 1848) being made to continue the 

fit&t ftailroafc 

Michigan Central Railroad from New Buffalo 
to Chicago, sixty miles, which, with the road 
then building across Canada, would connect 
the city with the east. The Galena & Chicago 
Union Railroad had been surveyed. The pro- 
posed Buffalo & Mississippi road via Chicago 
to the mouth of Rock River was to be extended, 
in time, to Council Bluffs. An ardent admirer 
of this project and a warm practical supporter, 
and a hard worker to make the enterprise a 
success, was Hon. Stephen A. Douglas. The 
Illinois Central from Cairo at the mouth of 
the Mississippi to the canal was designed to 
be a most important link in the great system 
of communication between the lakes and 
the Mississippi, as that river as far south as 
Cairo was open to the gulf at all seasons of the 

The original bills, introduced by Judge 
Breese, as he himself says in a letter to Senator 
Douglas, published in January, 1851, did not 
contemplate a connection with Chicago. They 
confined the roads to the routes from Cairo, 
by Vandalia, Shelbyville, Decatur, Blooming- 
ton, Peru and Dixon, to Galena. In 1847 
Senator Douglas made Chicago his home, and 
he, in connection with other large property 
owners, determined to establish a line binding 
the Northwest with the lakes. Thus many 
friends were secured for the measure in the 
northeastern and middle states, who did not 
favor a proposition having for its natural 

ftcmim$ccncc of Chicago 

tendency the diversion of trade from the Upper 
Mississippi toward New Orleans alone. 1 

The bill was reported by Judge Breese, 
chairman of the committee on public lands, the 
same year, but did not meet with further con- 

General James Shields was sent to Congress 
as the successor of Judge Breese. In Decem- 
ber, 1849, Congressman Shields and Senator 
Douglas, supported by the other Illinois mem- 
bers, prepared the bill, which was introduced 
into the Senate by Mr. Douglas in January, 
1850. It passed the Senate May 2, and the 
House of Representatives September 20, 1850. 
Its triumph in that body was largely due to 
the energy and ability of Hon. John Went worth, 
the Representative of this district, and the 
late Governor Bissell, then a member of the 
House. At the same time a strip of land 
between La Salle and Cairo, two hundred feet 
wide, was granted to the state for the uses of 
road-bed, side-tracks, and stations of the Cen- 
tral Railroad. The main grant, of which this 
was supplementary, was 2,595,000- acres in 
the heart of the state, or alternate sections 
designated by even numbers for six sections 
deep on each side of the main line and its 
branches, and for lands sold or pre-empted 
within those sections, an equal quantity within 
fifteen miles on each side of the line, on condi- 

1 See letter from Senator Douglas to Judge Breese, 
published in Weekly Democrat, March I, 1851. 


tion that the grant would be controlled by 
Illinois, and when the road should be built 
would be free to the general government. 
The minimum price was fixed at $2.50 per 
acre, but in 1852 $5.00 per acre was realized. 
,- x ^T5irring the previous month, November 5, 
1849, tne act to provide for "a general system 
of railroad incorporations" went into effect. 
It provided that not less than twenty-five 
persons might form a railroad corporation, 
and elect directors when $1,000 of stock per 
mile should be subscribed and ten per cent 
paid in. Thirteen directors were to be chosen, 
at least seven of whom must reside in the 
counties through which the road was to run. 
Rules were laid down for the conduct of the 
directors, making the stockholders individually 
liable to the creditors of the company to the 
amount of stock held by them. Every com- 
pany before proceeding to construct its road 
through any county was to make a map of its 
route and file it in the county clerk's office. 
The corporation was not to interfere with 
navigable streams, or obstruct roads and high- 
ways. The compensation for any passenger 
and his ordinary baggage was not to exceed 
"three cents per mile, unless by special act of 
the legislature." Rules were also laid down 
for obtaining the right of way. Each employee 
was to be appropriately "labeled" with his 
company's badge. Annual reports were re- 
quired to be made to the Secretary of State, 

Hcminiacnucief of Chicago 

and the railroad property listed by the proper 
officer, the state having a lien upon appurte- 
nances and stock, for penalties, dues and taxes. 
The act admitted the right of the legislature to 
alter rates, if the profits were not reduced less 
than fifteen per cent per annum on the paid- 
up capital. Three commissioners, appointed 
by the governor, were to fix the rates of trans- 
portation for the United States mail, in case 
the railroad could not agree with the general 
government. Should a passenger not pay his 
fare the conductor was authorized to "put 
him off." Under no circumstances were 
freight cars to be placed behind passenger 
coaches, and at least a thirty-two pound bell 
or a steam whistle was to be placed on the 
locomotive, and worked at least eighty rods 
from a railroad crossing. Penalties were pro- 
vided for a violation of these sections. 
"Warning boards" were to be erected, on 
which were to be painted, in capital letters of 
at least the size of nine inches, "Railroad 
Crossing Look out for the cars while the bell 
rings, or the whistle sounds." This was not 
to apply to city streets. By act of the general 
assembly, approved February 17, 1851, an 
act entitled "An act to incorporate the Great 
Western Railway Company," approved March 
6, 1843; "An act to amend an act entitled an 
act to incorporate the Great Western Railway 
Company," approved February 10, 1849, an d 
"An act to incorporate the Illinois Central 


Railroad Company," approved January 16, 
1836, were repealed. By section 3 of the 
same act the grant of Congress approved 
September 20, 1850, was accepted. 

Prior to the passage of this wholesale re- 
pealing act, a memorial was presented to the 
general assembly. It is dated December 28, 
1850, and signed by Robert Schuyler, George 
Griswold, Gouverneur Morris, of Morrisania, 
Franklin Haven, David A. Neal, R. Rantoul, 
Jr., J. Sturges, Thomas W. Ludlow, and John 
F. A. Sanford. The memorialists offer to 
build a road from Cairo to Galena, with a 
branch to Chicago, on or before July 4, 1854, 
"as well and thoroughly built as the railroad 
running from Boston to . Albany, ' ' agreeing 
furthermore, in consideration of the charter 
and the land grant to ' ' pay annually - per 
cent of the gross earnings of the said road." 
The general reader may be glad to learn that 
this blank was filled with a "seven" and that 
this agreement became one of the corner- 
stones of the financial stability of the state of 
Illinois. 1 

On February 10, 1851, the legislature, de- 
claring that in its judgment the object of 
incorporating the Central Railroad Company 
could not be attained under general laws, passed 
an act incorporating the Illinois Central Rail- 
road Company. The event was celebrated in 

1 The amount thus paid over to the state has been 
over $9,000,000. 


of Chicago 

Chicago by a popular demonstration of favor. 
The corporators were the memorialists men- 
tioned above, and Henry Grinnell, William H. 
Aspinwall, Leroy Wiley, and Joseph W. Alsop. 
These gentlemen, with the governor of the 
state for the time being, were constituted the 
first board of directors. 

To this company the congressional grant of 
right of way and public lands, together with 
' ' the right of way which the state of Illinois 
has heretofore obtained"; the lot of land ob- 
tained by the state within the city of Cairo for 
a depot; "all the grading, embankments, ex- 
cavations, surveys, work, materials, personal 
property, profiles, plats and papers constructed, 
procured, furnished and done by or in behalf 
of the state of Illinois, for or on account of 
said road and branches, and the right of way 
over and through lands owned by the state, ' ' 
were "ceded and granted," and the company 
was required to execute a deed of trust of all 
this property, together with "the railroad 
which may be built," to Morris Ketchum, 
John Moore and Samuel D. Lockwood, trustees, 
to secure to the state the first lien on the 
property so conveyed, the construction of the 
road, and the indemnification of the state 
against the claims of the United States, in 
case the road should not be completed within 
ten years as required by the act of Congress 
of September 20, 1850. Thus the magnificent 
grant to the state was relinquished to a private 


fit$t ftatfroafc 

corporation, not without strong opposition, 
however, for there was a deep feeling against 
the measure. The magnitude of the grant 
was so overpowering to the minds of many 
good cjtizens that they argued earnestly that 
by proper management the state might not 
only build the seven hundred miles of railroad, 
but from the proceeds of the lands pay off a 
burdensome state debt of many millions of 
dollars besides. Doubtless this might have 
been possible, but the opportunities for "steals" 
might not have been easily resisted. John S. 
Wright published a pamphlet in which he in- 
sisted that the state would be "everlastingly 
dishonored if the legislature did not devise 
laws to build the road, and disenthrall the state 
of its enormous debt besides, out of the avails 
of this grant." The company negotiated a 
loan of $400,000, but the money could not be 
realized until there should be a conveyance of 
the lands from the general government. In 
this there was some delay. Justice Butterfield, 
the commissioner of the general land office at 
Washington, who was from Chicago, construed 
the grant as entitling the company to lands for 
the Chicago branch, on a straight line to 
Chicago, which would avoid the junction with 
the Michigan Central. After some vexatious 
delay this construction of the act was over- 
ruled by the President and Secretary of the 
Interior, and in March, 1852, the necessary 
patents were issued, contracts were awarded, 

of Chicago 

work commenced and the road pushed forward 
to completion with little interruption. 

The successive steps by which the Illinois 
Central has obtained a property foothold in 
Chicago commenced with the payment of 
$45,000 to the general government, in October, 
1850, in consideration of which the company 
obtained possession of the unoccupied portion 
of the Fort Dearborn reservation. The rail- 
road company paid the sum under protest, 
claiming that this tract was included in the 
congressional grant. Suit was brought in the 
Court of Claims for the recovery of the money, 
but the decision went against the company. 
In 1852 the legislature empowered the company 
to build a branch from the terminus at Twelfth 
Street to the south pier of the inner harbor, 
and the city council supplemented the action 
of the legislature in June of the same year by 
an ordinance permitting the company to lay 
tracks parallel with the lake shore, the condition 
being that the road should enter the city at or 
near the intersection of the southern limits and 
the lake, and pursue a course along 'the shore 
to the southern limit of Lake Park, to front of 
Canal Section No. 15, and continue due north 
to the proposed site within the Fort Dearborn 
addition to Chicago, between the line of 
Randolph Street and the main river. This 
actually handed over to the company the right 
to use a strip of shore three hundred feet wide, 
east of a line drawn parallel with Michigan 


Avenue, four hundred distant from the west 
line of that thoroughfare. 

In September, 1852, the Illinois Central 
commenced work on the lake shore protection, 
or breakwater, which was completed in two 
years, under the superintendency of Colonel 
R. B. Mason, chief engineer. 

In 1855 the common council gave the com- 
pany permission to use a triangular piece of 
land which lay north of Randolph and a short 
distance west of the land granted in 1852. In 
1856 the city granted a right to use the space 
between the breakwater, from a point seven 
hundred feet south of the north line of Randolph 
Street, branching out and running thence to 
the southeast corner of the company's break- 
water as then established, and thence to the 
river. In February of this year, passenger 
trains over the Illinois Central, the Michigan 
Central, and the Chicago & St. Louis roads 
commenced to run into the new depot of the 
first named company. After that year the 
company continued to improve and possess 
submerged and other lands east of the east 
line of the two hundred feet granted in the 
original ordinance. 

This company was the first to take action in 
the matter of suburban trains. A time table 
was issued June I, 1856, and three trains placed 
on the line between the city and Hyde Park.