Chicago History | Summer 1980

Page 1

This 1789 letter, handwritten by George Washington 's secretary and signed by the president, accompanied a first printing of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 sent to George Walton, governor of Georgia. Although the Continental Congress had passed the Ordinance in 1787, the first president had to present it to the newly created U. S. Congress, which did not convene until the states had ratified the Constitution in 1789. This letter and the Ordinance it accompanied (see page 120) are a recent gift to the Society from Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Tieken. CHS, ICHi-14187.

Chicago History The Magazine of the Chicago Historical Society Summer 1980 VOLUME IX, NUMBER 2

Fannia Weingartner Editor Gail Farr Casterline Associate Editor Roberta Casey Editorial Assistant Karen Kohn Designer Walter W. Krutz Paul W . Petraitis Photography

Front Cover : Ambrotype of Potawatomi chief Shabbona (1775?-1859) taken in 1857. Gift of Roger W. Barrett . CHS. Back Cover : Daguerreotype of early Chicago settler, Mark Beaubien, owner of the Sauganash Tavern . Gift of Frank Beaubien and Mrs. Emily Beaubien LeBeau. CHS.

Copyright 1980 by the Chicago Historical Society Clark Street at North Avenue Chicago, Illinois 60614 Articles appearing in this journal are abstracted and indexed in Historical Abstracts and America: History and Life


James Thompson's Plat of Chicago: A 150-Year Perspective


The Launching of Chicago: The Situation and the Site by Harold M. Mayer


The Military Frontier: Fort Dearborn by Arthur H. Frazier


Chicago, September 14, 1833: The Last Great Indian Treaty in the Old Northwest by James A. Clifton


Goodbye, Madore Beaubien: The Americanization of Early Chicago Society by Jacqueline Peterson


The Rise and Fall of Hiram Pearson: Mobility on the Urban Frontier by Craig Buettinger


Renovating the Society's Fort Dearborn Exhibit by Carole Krucoff


The Society: Acquisition of a First Printing of the Northwest Ordinance


Manuscript Sources on Frontier Chicago by Archie Motley

James Thompson's Plat of Chicago: A 150-Year Perspective




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Manuscript copy of James Thompson 's 1830 plat of Ch icago , auth enti cat ed by the comm issioners of the Illinois and Michigan Canal in May 1837, The origin al boundaries of the town-Kin zie, Desplaines, Madison , and State street-mbraced an area of about th ree-e ighths of a . square mile. Gilt of P. W, Kunn ing of t he Association of Commerce and Industry. CHS, ICHi-141 92,




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Chicago History is special in a number of ways. Its very title, Frontier Chicago, suggests beginnings, as does this plat, the first effort to give form and boundaries to that swampy, low-lying area designated Checagou on the early maps of the Old Northwest. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the platting of Chicago, we decided to devote an entire issue to the city's formative years. We invited contributions from scholars who have been working with new sources on the early period and who, in addition, represent a variety of disciplines. We asked the contributors to stress different aspects of the theme, hoping that their cumulative effort would create a multi-dimensional view of frontier life. In his introductory essay, geographer and Great Lakes historian, Harold M. Mayer, addresses the basic question of why a major metropolis grew up at this particular spot. Hydrographer Arthur H. Frazier presents material on the building of the first Fort Dearborn. Anthropologist James A. Clifton and social historian Jacqueline Peterson throw new light on the complex interaction between the Indians of the Old Northwest and the French, English, and American traders, settlers, and officials. Using contemporary accounts they write not only as social scientists but also as humanists, aware of the tragic and comic elements in the lives of individuals swept up in the march of historical events. Historian Craig Buettinger offers a case history on one of the city's real estate speculators. Contributions from the Society's own staff members include D irector Harold K. Skramstad's comments on a first printing of the Northwest Ordinance, recently given to the Society; an account of the renovation of the Fort Dearborn exhibit by Education Associate Carole Krucoff; and a survey of manuscript sources on frontier Chicago, by the Curator of Manuscripts, Archie Motley. The theme of the issue provided an opportunity for the Society to re-examine its collections and sources on early Chicago. The fruits of this effort are reflected in the maps, manuscripts, prints, artifacts, and costumes which illustrate this issue and, we hope, bring to life the frontier era of our city's his.tory. The Ed itors THIS ISSUE OF


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The Launching of Chicago: The Situation and the Site By Harold M. Mayer

In due time we reached the Des Plaines river where) for the first time) I caught a view of Lake Michigan. Away in the distance I espied a little dot on the horizon) which proved to be the flag that floated over Fort Dearborn.)) ÂŤ

James M. Bucklin, Chief Engineer, Illinois and Michigan Canal, on Chicago in 7830

on August 4, 1830, of a plat for a 267-acre portion of Section 9 of Township 39 North, Range 14 East of the third principal meridian, may be considered as marking the beginning of Chicago. The platted area was small, amounting to considerably less than a half square mile, but it wasand is-one of the most significant and strategic areas on the North American continent. The act of filing that plat established the foundation for legal titles to the nucleus of Chicago. The site was not promising as the locus of an urban settlement: it centered upon the junction of the north and south branches of the Chicago River, the waters of which flowed a mile eastward toward Lake Michigan. Thus the platted area consisted of three parts, separated by the waterways. The low-lying land, barely above the river and lake level, was subject to flooding each spring. At the time that the area was platted, it was part of a treeless plain, unbroken landward to the horizon without interruption to the monotonous uniformity of the landscape. Eastward, the river flowed slowly, turning south to avoid a sandbar built up and maintained by the southward-flowing currents of the lake. A dozen log cabins were visible in the river fork vicinity, while to the THE FILING, BY JAMES THOMPSON

Harold M. Mayer is Professor of Geography and Urban Planning and Senior Scientist of the Center for Great Lakes Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is well known for his work on the history of the Great Lakes and as the co-author of Chicago: Growth of a Metropolis (1969).


east was the palisaded Fort Dearborn with a small military contingent. The residents of the area, in addition to the military, numbered scarcely forty or fifty, and the small cluster of cabins southeast of the fork were connected to the fort by a primitive road. The cabins north and west of the fork were accessible only by primitive ferry. To understand the significance of the location, it is necessary to look both backward and forward in time. In contrast to the unpromising character of the particular site, the situation of the land for which Thompson filed the plat was, and is, little short of ideal for the development of a metropolis of continental and world significance. Geographers of an earlier generation would have predicted that a great city was destined to develop near the mouth of the Chicago River, at the southwesternmost penetration of the Great Lakes into the heart of the continent. Modern geographers hold a somewhat different point of view, believing that nature offers opportunities and imposes constraints, but that people individually, and collectively as societies, determine the extent to which opportunities will be utilized and constraints overcome, within very elastic limits. Choices are made among many alternatives, and are subject to the changing social, economic, political, and technological conditions of the society. In the 150 years since the platting of Chicago's nucleus, the metropolis has developed as the result of many choices made by the generations that followed. It turned out that the choice of location in 1830

The Chicago Portage route linking the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River is clearly marked on this French edition of John Mitchell 's " Map of the British and French Dominions in North America ," first published in London in 1755. From the collections. CHS, ICHi-14168.


Launching Chicago

The compass and drafting instruments used by James Thompson in surveying and platting Chicago in 1830 are on exhibit in the Society's Chicago History Galleries. CHS.

was, indeed, a good one, in spite of the immediate disadvantages of the site. Nature had set the stage. The succession of continental glaciers which covered much of northern North America, including the site of Chicago, scoured out a series of basins which became the Great Lakes. About twelve thousand years ago, during the most recent--or Wisconsin-glaciation, a basin somewhat larger than the present Michigan was filled with meltwaters as the northeastward recession of the great glacier took place. The preglacial drainage toward the northeast, through the St. Lawrence valley, was consequently blocked. As the glacial front slowly receded, with some interruptions lasting hundreds of years, the ponded waters eventually sought an alternative outlet. These waters formed a lake, called Lake Chicago, between the glacier's front and the moraine-the ridge of deposited material brought clown by the glacier-which was parallel to and some miles to the west, southwest, and south of the present lake shore. The generally level and poorly drained plain which was the bottom of glacial Lake Chicago is now occupied by the city and some of its suburbs. The low-lying land of that plain is drained by the Chicago and Calumet rivers and their branches, the outer limit of which is in 70

the form of a low, almost imperceptible divide that separates the Great Lakes drainage basin from that of the Mississippi River system. Nowhere in orth America is this sub-continental divide closer to any of the Great Lakes shores than in the vicinity of Chicago and northward toward Milwaukee. Thus, the two great waterways of North America-the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence toward the northeast and the Missisippi system to the southwest- almost meet in the vicinity of Chicago. These two routes formed the principal axis of settlement of the trans-Appalachian west in the years preceding and following the American Revolution. The early explorers found several places where the waterways on the two sides of the low sub-continental divide were sufficiently close to make a short portage possible. In 1673, Pere Marquette and Louis Jolliet, searching for the Mississippi, journeyed from a mission station at De Pere, on Wisconsin's Fox River, up that river and across the portage to the Wisconsin River, thence down the Wisconsin and Mississippi to what is now Arkansas. The crossing of the sub-continental divide was where the city of Portage, Wisconsin, now stands. On their return, Marquette and Jolliet voyaged up the Illinois and Des Plaines rivers, portaged to the South Branch of the Chicago River near

Launching Chicago



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Engraving based on a drawing by explorer Henry Schoolcraft, who passed through Chicago in 1820. It was said to include "every house in the vii Iage." From Chicago Magazine, May 1857. CHS, ICHi-05626.

the present southwest boundary of the City of Chicago, thence down the South Branch and main stem of the Chicago River to Lake Michigan. Thus, they were probably the first persons of European origin to visit the site of Chicago. A year later Marquette returned south; illness and the onset of winter forced him to make camp from December 1674 to March 1675 near the Chicago Portage, approximately where Darnen Avenue now crosses the South Branch of the Chicago River. There are two other routes within the Chicago region which Marquette and Jollier could have used to cross the drainage divide. One is the Calumet Sag,• between the Calumet River and the Des Plaines; the other is in nearby northwestern Indiana, between the Calumet and the Kankakee rivers (the Kankakee JOms the Des Plaines southwest of Chicago to form the Illinois River). The strategic location of Chicago at the place where the two great inland waterways of the continent are separated only by a low portage, later breached by a canal, has been a major factor in its development as the most •The Calumet Sag, like the Chicago Portage route, is followed by a modern sewage drainage and barge canal. The term sag refers to a low place along the drainage divide.

important transportation node and first-ranking city of inland North America. Before the industrial revolution of the mid-nineteenth century, the waterways furnished the easiest transportation route: overland travel was slow, dangerous, and expensive. The early railroads were essentially feeders to the waterways. Once established, the settlements which were oriented to the waterway routes, and especially the nodes and transfer points on these routes, could easily compete with later settlements not so favored. The colonies along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts were more easily in contact with their respective mother countries across the Atlantic Ocean than they were with each other. The Atlantic colonies of Britain, and later the original states, developed coastal shipping, in part stimulated by the existence of protected sounds, bays, and lagoons. The French settlements were strung out along the St. Lawrence-Great LakesMississippi waterway, thus hemming in the westward advance of the British beyond the Appalachians. The present landscape of the continental interior, characterized by long narrow fields, is the land subdivision pattern characteristic of the French occupance in regions as far apart as the lower St. Lawrence, the lower Wabash valley of southern Indiana and 71

Launching Chicago Illinois, and the lower Mississippi delta of Louisiana. Although the treaty ending the American Revolution was signed in 1783, it was not until 1796 that the British abandoned the forts controlling Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac, thus opening up large-scale fur trading in the territory west of the lake. And fur trading was the original lure that brought the first settlers-French and French Canadian-to the area around Chicago which had for many centuries been occupied by American Indians. The year 1803 was a momentous one for Chicago in several respects. The Louisiana Purchase transferred to the United States the vast territory west of the Mississippi. Lewis and Clark were sent to explore the newly-acquired territory, which doubled the nation's area. And Fort Dearborn was established at the mouth of


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the Chicago River, marking the point of access between the Great Lakes and the region to the west and southwest. While the prospect of permanent settlement was anathema to the French and FrenchCanadian fur traders, it was not long after the Great Lakes and Mississippi regions passed into the possession of the United States that it became evident that more profits were to be gained from land speculation than furs. But the Indians still had possession of the land around Chicago at the time, and the outlook for land speculation and subsequent pennanent settlement would remain clouded until they could be satisfactorily accommodated. Meanwhile, the resumption of hostilities between Great Britain and the United States in 1812 led to the evacuation of Fort Dearborn by the American garrison and the subsequent massacre of the early Chicagoans by British-

Launching Chicago inspired Indians. In 1816 a second Fort Dearborn was established and a trickle of settlers followed. However, until 1830, the residents of Chicago, few in number and living under primitive pioneer conditions, were squatters. Legal ownership, consequent upon sale of the land which was in the public domain, had to await survey and platting. Two circumstances, among others, were relevant to the platting of Chicago's nucleus in 1830: the situation, which gave rise to the prospect of a canal across the drainage divide linking the two great inland waterway routes in the vicinity; and the federal land survey system, which controlled the nature of the original and subsequent plats as settlement of Chicago and its hinterland proceeded. The canal across the portage from the Sou th Branch of the Chicago River to the head of navigation on the Illinois was not a new idea:

Marquette had suggested the possibility in his journal on the journey in 1674-75. The importance of the route was underscored by the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, by which the Indians ceded to the United States "one piece of land six miles square at the mouth of the Chikago river emptying into the southwest end of Lake Michigan, where a fort formerly stood." The portage route, as well as the North Branch of the Chicago River and its tributaries, furnished access to the hinterland where the furs could be obtained. In 1805 a government fur trading post-competing with private fur traders-was established near the mouth of the river. The private traders, however, competed effectively with the government trading system because they offered credit, and because they followed the Indians to the hunting grounds. Moreover, to promote access to

Left: Agitation for river improvements led the U.S. government to have the Chicago River and Harbor surveyed. This 1830 survey map by William Howard shows his plan for cutting through the sandbar obstructing the entrance to the lake. National Archives, Washington, D.C. Below: View of Chicago from the Southwest, 1834, by Justin Herriott c. 1902. Gift of William H. Gale. CHS, ICHi-03045.


Launching Chicago the hunting areas, they offered the Indians liquor, which the government agents were not permitted to do.• Decline in the government trading operation finally forced its termination in 1822. The leading private trader was John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company, a giant organization in its day. The advantages of a canal leading into the hinterland of Lake Michigan appeared so great that when Illinois was admitted as a state in 1818, the boundary with Wisconsin was shifted northward from the latitude of the southern end of Lake Michigan to include the site of Chicago as well as the ten present counties of northern Illinois. Thus, Illinois was given not only a Lake Michigan shoreline, but also the entire prospective canal route. The new state was to finance the canal by sale of alternate square-mile sections of land five miles on each side of the proposed route. This land was granted to the state by the federal government on March 2, 1827. A commission was appointed and a survey of the prospective canal route was made by its chief engineer, James M. Bucklin. Town lots were to be surveyed at the two terminals of the canal in Chicago and in Ottawa, where the canal was to join the Illinois River. It was this survey of Chicago, conducted by James Thompson, which constituted the original plat-the nucleus-of the future city of Chicago. Another canal furnished much of the impetus for the advocates of the Illinois and Michigan Canal project. That was the Erie Canal-commenced by New York State in 1817 and completed in 1825-between the Hudson River and Lake Erie, connecting the Atlantic coastal settlements with the Great Lakes. The Hudson-Mohawk lowland furnished a natural route across the Appalachian barrier, between the Catskill Mountains on the south and the Adirondacks on the north, which was much more favorable than the trans-Appalachian routes of the competitor seaports of New York City. Philadelphia was planning a system of canals utilizing the Juniata River watergaps through the folded Appalachians, while Balti•George Washington had first recommended the establishment of such government trading "factories" to guard the frontiers. The Chicago one was set up shortly after the founding of Fort Dearborn.


more and Washington were developing the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal to reach the Ohio River. Both were designed to connect the Atlantic seaboard with the Ohio River, which had long been the principal avenue of settlement in the trans-Appalachian area. At a time when Chicago consisted of a few log huts, sophisticated urban communities were growing along the Ohio: Pittsburgh, Wheeling, Marietta, Cincinnati, and Louisville among others; while inland settlements, not favored by river transportation, such as Lexington and Frankfort, Kentucky, grew much less rapidly. The Ohio had earlier been an axis of French settlement, from Fort Duquesne-which became Pittsburgh-to settlements on the major Ohio River tributaries, such as Terre Haute and Vincennes, Indiana, on the lower Wabash, to Cape Girardeau, Ste. Genevieve and St. Louis on the Mississippi above the junction of the Ohio. To connect the latter settlements with the Great Lakes through Illinois was one of the objectives of the proposed Illinois and Michigan Canal. The Erie Canal had stimulated growth of settlements along the south shore and in the hinterland of Lake Erie. The Connecticut Western Reserve in northeastern Ohio, for example, owes much of its early growth to the all-water transportation made possible by the Erie Canal. The cost of transporting produce to Eastern cities was reduced to about ten percent of its former level. Cleveland, founded in 1797, was a small settlement, not unlike the Chicago of three decades later, until the opening of the Erie Canal. The state of Ohio authorized a system of several canals connecting Lake Erie with the Ohio River, in order to open up the interior of the state; Akron, for example, was connected to Cleveland in 1827, when its development began. The Erie Canal was the original and principal instrument by which the main axis of pioneer settlement, and along with it the early urban development, shifted from the Ohio Valley axis to the Great Lakes region. In the mid-1820s the canal era was at its height. Chicago's Illinois and Michigan Canal was one of the last of the era; when it was finally opened in 1848, the first stretch of railroad had already been built westward from Chicago, and

Launching Chicago four years later two Eastern railroads reached the city around the southern end of Lake Michigan. By 1854 the Mississippi was reached by rail, at Rock Island, and by 1856 Chicago had already become the greatest railroad center of the continent, if not of the world. Passenger

James M. Bucklin (1802-1890), chief engineer of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, 1915. Illinois State Historical Library.

packets operated on the canal for only four years, between its opening in 1848 and the opening of the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad to Ottawa in 1852: but the canal continued to carry bulk freight for many years, reaching a peak of just more than one million

tons in 1882. (Completion of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in 1900 finally ended commercial navigation on the Illinois and Michigan Canal, by then hopelessly outmoded.) The Illinois and Michigan Canal boats connected the Great Lakes route with the head of steamboat navigation on the Illinois River, and thus with the Mississippi. In addition to freight barges, the canal was a major route for settlers and other passengers during its first four years. The American Railway Guide and Pocket Companion of 1851 indicated that the 100-mile stretch between Chicago and La Salle was served by three daily packet boats in each direction on regular schedule. Two of the boats were "expressly for passengers" at a fare of $4.00 for the total distance, leaving each terminal at 8 A.M. and 5 P.M. and "through in about 22 hours." A third, Express Freight Packet, was scheduled "for the conveyance of emigrants and movers with their furniture etc., and other light freights. Fare, including board, $3.00, and in proportion for less distances." These packets were advertised "to connect at La Salle with one or more daily lines of Steam Packets for St. Louis and intermediate places on Illinois River." The through fare was $9.00, and the time "from 60 to 72 hours." The situation of Lake Michigan astride the main east-west transportation corridor of the continent forced the Eastern railroads to converge around the south end of the lake in order to reach Chicago. Thus, the city at the junction of the lake system with the inland waterway system-opened up originally by the Illinois and Michigan Canal-became the transcontinental gateway between the agricultural Midwest and the urban-industrial East: the greatest inland port and at the same time the dominant railroad gateway, both of which positions it has retained since the mid-nineteenth century. At the same time, Chicago's central position relative to the major transportation routes stimulated many of the agriculturallybased industries that would dominate the met~ ropolitan region's economy during most of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These included meatpacking, other food processing, the manufacture of agricultural machinery, and the furnishing of the many supplies required in the burgeoning settlements of the 75

Launching Chicago 4

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"Entree de la Riviere de Chicago," based on a sketch by Francis de Castelnau who visited Chicago in the late 1830s. From Vues et Souvenirs de L'Amerique du Nord, Paris, 1842. Gift of Dr. Otto L. Schmidt. CHS, ICHi-14175.

Midwest and the western hinterland. As a result, Chicago developed as the leading trading center for agricultural produce, as exemplified by the growth of the Chicago Board of Trade and several major commodity markets.

Geographers often differentiate the situation of a location (its external relationships) from the site conditions (the internal, within the site). The site conditions of the original plat of Chicago-the internal spatial pattern of the platwere governed by the federal Land Ordinance pattern of 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which applied the pattern of the federal land survey specifically to the Midwest trans-Appalachian region. Together, these ordinances outlined the spatial pattern of land subdivision which largely continues to control the layout and landscape of Chicago and the Midwest in general. Along the Eastern seaboard, boundaries of properties were generally established by "metes and bounds" surveys, which proceeded from point to point and produced very irregular parcels. The "prior survey," in which a system of 76

boundaries was to be established and surveyed in advance of land sales, was a new concept when introduced to the Midwest. The newlyestablished national government had determined upon a policy of not recognizing titles to land west of the Appalachians until a systematic survey was made, and of then transferring title in accordance with boundaries related to the survey. Thus, James Thompson's platting of the original nucleus of Chicago, along with subsequent platting, resulted in a rectangular set of blocks and lots which constitute the physical framework for settlement and development of the Chicago region. The Land Ordinance of 1785 provided for the land to be divided by rectangular coordinates, bounded by parallels and meridians. The parallels were to be surveyed relative to the equator, and were designated as township lines (not to be confused with the "townships" which were areas forming the basis of governmental units). These parallels, or township lines, were to be designated as north or south of certain base parallels, and located six miles apart. They would be intersected by north-south meridians, also six miles apart, crossing the parallels at

Launching Chicago right angles. Such meridians were designated as "range" lines, east or west of certain "principal meridians." In accordance with this procedure, Thompson's plat was designated as Township 39 North, Range 14 East of the third principal meridian. Because meridians converge at the north and south poles, in order to obtain relatively constant distances between the meridians, certain baselines and correction lines were established along the parallels, where the meridians were offset. Within the parallels and meridians, areas of 36 square miles-six miles along the township lines and six miles along the range lines-were to be designated as "townships." These townships were, of course, not all exactly equal in area because of convergence of the meridians and inevitable surveying errors. They were to constitute "survey townships," and as settlement took place, local governments were established by "civil" townships. Counties, consisting of several townships, were in turn generally bounded by the parallels and meridians. Within each township, "sections" were to be surveyed, bounded by "section lines" spaced one mile apart north-south and east-west, and numbered consecutively, beginning in the northeast corner of each township. Thus, the Thompson survey was of a portion of Section 9. Within each section, rectangular boundaries were to be established for each lot and parcel offered for sale. This system of land survey was applied to the trans-Appalachian area northwest of the Ohio River, by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, thus determining the settlement pattern. The ordinance also provided for the system of government to be applied to the territory, which was to constitute five states when sufficiently populated: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Subsequently, the survey pattern was extended to other areas, and eventually furnished the model for surveys in many other parts of the world settled during the nineteenth century. A significant feature of the survey was that a strip of land 33 feet wide was to be reserved around the periphery of each section for use as public road . Since the strips bordering adjacent sections are contiguous, the rights-of-way for roads throughout the Midwest are 66 feet

wide, the length of an English surveying "chain." Thus was the basic framework for both rural and urban settlement throughout the Midwest established. In rural areas, this pattern resulted in scattered farmsteads, each along a section line road, in contrast to the nuclear village pattern of rural occupance in most of the world. In turn, this led to excess roads, which today constitute major drains upon the finances of many township and county governments, in contrast to the traditional irregular metes and bounds patterns of roads and rural occupance in the older areas of the country along the Eastern seaboard. The blocks of the original Thompson plat were rectangular within the limits of the platted area. This was bounded by what is now Kinzie Street on the north, State Street on the east, Madison Street on the south, and Desplaines Street on the west. The first sales of lots within this area took place on September 4, 1830, and the highest price-for an 80-by-180 foot lot fronting on the river-was only $100. For the first two years after the initial land sales, Chicago did not grow. There were twelve houses in 1830, and there were still only twelve houses near the end of 1832. By the end of that year, however, there were thirty buildings and several hundred settlers. Log bridges connected the three portions of the settlement; one bridge crossed the South Branch near Randolph Street and another crossed the North Branch at Kinzie Street. In the following year about 150 buildings were erected, including commercial structures along the south bank of the river's main stem (South Water Street, now Wacker Drive), and on the north side, small industries serving the local needs. These included a tannery, a meatpacking plant, a soap factory, and a brickyard. Settlers and supplies came in by lake vessel. Seven such vessels arrived in 1831, 45 in 1832, and 120 in 1833. At first they anchored in the lake offshore, but the first harbor improvement, with $25,000 appropriated by the federal government, began in the latter year, permitting vessels to enter the river. The little settlement, with a population of about 350, was incorporated as a town on August 12, 1833. With the resolution of the Indian occupance after 1833," the beginning of¡local government, •By the Chicago Treaty. See page 86.


Launching Chicago and definite prospects for a start on the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, land speculation on a large scale became prevalent and accompanied the subsequent rapid growth of the settlement. Its population grew from about 2,000 in 1834 to 3,264 in 1835, 3,820 in 1836, and 4,179 in 1837, at which time Chicago was incorporated as a city. The lots in the Thompson tract were soon sold, and before long adjacent areas were platted, and speculation drove up the prices very rapidly. By midi 836, the area within the Thompson plat was estimated to be worth $2,650,000, a thousandfold increase since 1830. North of the river, Kinzie's Addition east of State Street was platted in 1833, and Wolcott's and Bushnell's additions, in 1835. Especially noteworthy was the School Section-the square mile southwest of the original plat, bounded by Madison Street on the north, State Street on the east, Twelfth Street (now R oosevelt Road) on the south, and Halsted Street on the west. The Northwest Ordinance had reserved Section 16 of each survey township for educational purposes, and the School Section was one of them. On October 4, 1833, the 142 blocks in this section were sold at an average price of $60 per acre, as contrasted with their val ue of $1.25 per acre three years earlier. T his School Section includes most of the present Loop area, containing some of the most valuable land in the nation, if not the world, but education in Chicago received inconsequential benefit from it because of its hasty sale in 1833.

Chicago's situation as the southwesternmost terminal of the St. Lawrence-Great Lakes route, sign ificant since the earliest fur-trading days, continued to play an important role in the city's development during subsequent years. T he advantage of the city's location was reinforced with the opening of the enlarged St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959. The present seaway is not a new route, but is rather the most recent improvement of a centuries-old one. Following the War of 1812, the British developed the first of a consecutive series of canals to circumvent the rapids of the St. Lawrence R iver and Niagara Falls. Through these canals Chicago 78

exported its first full cargoes of produce directly, without transhipment, in the 1850s. Small ocean-going vessels reached Chicago from time to time in subsequent years, and in 1933 the first regularly-scheduled small cargo liners connected the city with overseas ports. The opening of the present seaway permitted medium-sized ocean-going cargo vessels, carrying both general cargoes and bulk commodities, to operate to and from Chicago. General cargo peaked in the early 1970s, then declined rapidly, but late in the decade there were indications of a revival of scheduled liner services, although changes in both water and land transportation technology indicate that the general cargo movement, on regularly scheduled vessels, will probably never again reach



AUllll:J~.ilUa:.1 OJ' VESSELi AT CHICAGO , 1835.

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Sehr. Swan. Duncan , St. Jo11cph. Au11terlitz, , Buffalo. 29 " 29 " Franklin, Bluck.ler, do, 29 " Phillip• , Howe, Mill walke6. 30 " Hellnn, Chue, SL Joeeph. 31 " Indiana, M'Queon, Buffalo. 31 " Swan , Duncan, St. Jo1oph. June 1 S. B. Uncle Sam, Lu11dy, Buffalo. 2 Sehr. LlewcUyn, Clark , St. Jo11eph. Chicago became an important shipping center early in its history, as this listing from the Chicago Democrat of June 3, 1835, shows. CHS, ICHi-14182.

the peak of a decade ago. By contrast, bulk cargoes--especially export grain--carried in "tramp" or unscheduled vessels, still constitute a major cargo. Some grain is carried in "lakers" for transhipment in the lower St. Lawrence to ocean-going ships, but a substantial portion of such cargo is moved directly from Chicago in salt-water vessels. Waterborne traffic in Chicago Harbor and the adjacent river has been declining for many years. Since 1906 Calumet Harbor and River have handled more than Chicago Harbor and River. This reflects the shift from the passenger and package freight vessels of an earlier period, to the ever-larger bulk commodity movements associated with industrialization of the Calumet district of South Chicago and northwestern In-

Launching Chicago diana. Before the St. Lawrence Seaway opened, the Chicago Regional Port District developed a terminal complex in Lake Calumet to handle both lake and ocean traffic on the one hand, and the anticipated increase in barge traffic with enlargement of the Calumet Sag route on the other. After a quarter-century of attempts to secure a more satisfactory location for a general cargo terminal than Lake Calumet (which is six miles inland from Lake Michigan), the Port District has this year completed development of a modern container terminal, Iroquois Landing, at the Calumet River entrance on the Lake Michigan shore. The ports of metropolitan Chicago handle about 80 million tons of waterborne traffic each year, divided approximately equally between the Illinois and Indiana portions of the metropolitan complex. Most of it is internal Great Lakes bulk traffic, but in recent years about two million tons of overseas cargo--bulk commodi ties and general cargo--have moved through the metropolitan harbors annually. Within the metropolitan region, the Chicago-northwestern Indiana port complex includes six lakefront harbors-Chicago Harbor, Calumet Harbor, Indiana Harbor, two private harbors (Buffington and Gary, Indiana), and the more recently completed Burns Waterway Harbor east of Gary. It also includes the Calumet River, navigable for six miles into Lake Calumet for ocean and lake vessels, and the two inland waterway connections: the Chicago River-Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal route, and the Calumet Sag route.

Chicago's role as the most important inland port of North America in large measure springs from the decision to construct the canal connecting Lake Michigan with the Illinois River. The more immediate outcome of that decision was the platting of the area at the junction of the branches of the Chicago River in 1830 to make possible the sale of lots to finance the canal. Having developed as the major port in the l\Iidwest, the settlement then attracted other transportation modes: the railroads in the last half of the nineteenth century, the highways in the twentieth, and finally, the air carriers, culminating in the development of

Chicago O'Hare International Airport, which last year handled more passengers than all three of the major airports of the New York region. Thus, two interrelated developments-the first platting of land for sale in Chicago, and the Illinois and Michigan Canal, which was to receive the proceeds of that land sale-were major elements in the determination of the physical and economic development of what was to become the foremost city and major focus of the interior of North America. Selected Sources Andreas, Alfred T. History of Chicago . 3 vols. Chicago: A. T. Andreas, 1884-86. Berry, Brian J. L. et. al. "Chicago: Transformations of an Urban System." In Contemporary Metropolitan America. Vol. 3: Nineteenth Century Inland Centers and Ports edited by John S. Adams. Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger Publishing Company, 1976. Chicago Department of Development and Planning. Historic City: The Settlement of Chicago. Chicago, 1976. Chicago Plan Commission. Chicago: Forty-four Cities in the City of Chicago. Chicago, 1942. Cutler, Irving. Chicago: Metropolis of the Mid-Continent. 2d ed. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall / Hunt Publishing Company, 1976. Fryxell, F. M. The Physiography of the Region of Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1927. Hansen, Harry. The Chicago. Rivers of America Series. New York: Rinehart & Company, 1942. Holt, Glen E. and Pacyga, Dominic A. Chicago: A Historical Guide to the Neighborhoods: The Loop and South Side. Chicago: Chicago Historical Society, 1979. Hoyt, Homer. One Hundred Years of Land Values in Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1933. Krenke!, John H. Illinois Internal Improvements 18181848. Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Torch Press, 1958. Mayer, Harold M. Chicago: City of Decisions. The Geographic Society of Chicago, 1955. - - , and Wade, Richard C. Chicago: Growth of a Metropolis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969. Pattison, William D. Beginnings of !he American Rectangular Land Survey System, 1784-1800. University of Chicago Department of Geography Research Paper No. 50 (1957). Pierce, Bessie Louise. A History of Chicago. 3 vols. New York: A. A. Knopf, 1937-57. Putnam, James William. The Illinois and Michigan Canal: A Study in Economic History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1918. Quaife, Milo M. Checagou: From Indian Wigwam to Modern City, 1673-1835. Chicago: Uni,•ersity of Chicago Press, I 933. Weik, Je se W. "An Unpublished Chapter in the Early History of Chicago." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 7 (January 1915). Reminiscences of James Bucklin, chief engineer 'of the Illinois and Michigan Canal.


The Military Frontier: Fort Dearborn By Arthur H. Frazier

"I know .of nothing that will check this murderous temper among the Indians, unless it be an active, exterminating war on our part-or the location of a large military force ... at Michilimackinac-at Green Bay & at Chicago." William Woodbridge, Acting Governor of Michigan T erritory, to A. J. D allas, Acting Secretary of War, May 70, 7875

Captain John Whistler's drawing of the first Fort Dearborn (left), and a portion of his "Index Annexed to the Draught." Prepared for the secretary of war in 1808, these documents are now in the National Archives, Washingt on, D.C.


Fort Dearborn ON MARCH 9, 1803-just two months before the conclusion of the Louisiana Purchase-Henry Dearborn, secretary of war under President Thomas Jefferson, sent orders to Colonel John Hamtramck, commandant at Detroit, to dispatch an officer and six men to explore the region surrounding the mouth of the Chicago River. This site, surrendered to the United States at the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, was still dominated by Indian bands and their French and British allies. And so began the first attempt to protect and defend American interests in this area. John Whistler, grandfather of the famous artist James A. McNeil! Whistler, was selected to perform that investigation, and to build a post at Chicago if the circumstances warranted it. ,vhistler's previous military experience was somewhat complicated. He had first come from Britain with Burgoyne's army to fight against the Americans, and was taken prisoner at the Battle of Saratoga. After being returned to England, he fell in love with Ann, the daughter of Sir Edward Bishop. When the latter objected to their marriage plans, the couple eloped to America. Once there, ¡whistler joined the American army, serving under General St. Clair, and later under the general known as "Mad" Anthony Wayne. Eventually he was assigned to serve in Detroit. Following receipt of the orders from Washington, John Whistler was appointed to head an expedition to survey an overland route to Chicago. Several months later the party returned to Detroit and helped organize the deployment of men and goods needed to establish a post at the mouth of the Chicago River. Early in the morning of July 14, 1803, two parties left Detroit for the site. Lieutenant James Strode Swearingen and a company of soldiers started out on the old Sauk Trail across Michigan; a second party, which included John and Ann Whistler, their son William and his bride, and two of John's younger children, boarded the tiny schooner Tracy. The vessel also carried two pieces of artillery as well as sundry tools and equipment. The Tracy arrived at the mouth of the St. Joseph River on

August 12, 1803, where John and William Whistler transferred to a smaller boat which could take them closer to the shore, since the sandy shoals bordering the southern part of Lake Michigan made it hard to see the inlet at Chicago from any distance. Although Whistler had assisted m fortbuilding while serving under St. Clair and Wayne, this was the first time that he had sole responsibility not only for selecting the site but also for de igning and erecting the entire establishment. Fort Dearborn, as it was called, was Chicago's first public building, and its construction turned out to be a remarkable accomplishment. In 1809 William Johnston, traveling from Fort Wayne to Chicago, reported in his journal that Fort Dearborn was "the neatest and best wooden garrison in the country," one that "reflects great honor to Captain .John Whistler, who planned and built it." B. J. Lossing, in his Pictorial Field-book of the War of 1812, reported that "In building Fort Dearborn, Major Whistler worked so economically that the fort did not cost the government over fifty dollars." During this period the Chicago River veered southward at what is now Michigan Avenue. Here, on the southern side of the bend (near what is presently Wacker Drive), the party built the military compound. Construction was all but completed by 1808 when Whistler prepared a drawing of the fort and its surrounding to submit to the secretary of war. Now in the possession of the National Archives, this sketch first came to public attention in 1897 when the Chicago Historical Society enlisted a Mr. D. 0. Drennan, a clerk employed by the War Department, to assist in a search for original documentation concerning the structure. Although the drawing is rough (even the precise location of the river is not well indicated), it was accompanied by a key from which it is possible to determine the dimensions and function of each building. Thus we have a surprisingly good picture of the fort just as it looked in its prime. Described in the Chicago Tribune on November 28, I 897, Whistler's plans show

A retired hydrographer for the United States Geological Survey, Arthur H. Frazier is an Honorary Research Associate of the Smithsonian Institution.

two blockhouses, one at the southeast corner, the other at the northwest. On the north is a subterranean passage, leading to the river, designed


Fort Dearborn

Kidnapped by the Miami Indians in his boyhood and raised by the famous Chief Little Turtle, William Wells fought against the American troops until 1791, when he transferred his allegiance to the United States. As Indian agent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, he enjoyed the confidence of both races, having secured his kinship ties by marrying an Indian wife. Following the outbreak of the War of 1812, the U.S. army appointed Captain William Wells to help evacuate Fort Dearborn, where he became one of the more than forty victims of the Fort Dearborn Massacre .

The relationship between Wells and Sweet Breeze is not entirely clear. According to Eva Spaulding Shaw, the donor of this silhouette and a descendant of the We lls family, Sweet Breeze was Wells's wife. But several historians, including Joseph Kirtland , have said that she was Wells's daughter. This miniature of Captain Wells and the silhouette of Sweet Breeze are part of the Fort Dearborn exhibit at the Chicago Historical Society. CHS.


Fort Dearborn as a means of escape or for procuring water for the garrison in time of siege. About it is the strong stockade and around that, a feature not shown in previous pictures, the outer palisade of diamond shape, enclosing narrow strips of ground swept by the guns of the blockhouses.

The outer palisade consisted of a wall twelve feet high, extending southward to enclose an armorer's shop, stables, and a sizeable garden. The commanding officer's barracks were located on the east side of the quadrangle. The officers' quarters stood directly west across the parade grounds, while the soldiers' barracks ad joined the main entry to the stockade through the south wall. Formidable as this installation may have looked, life for its inhabitants was for the most part peaceful, even if not idyllic. The isolation of the fort, combined with the ever-present danger of Indian attack, brought army officers into conflict with John Kinzie, a local fur trader whose liberal distribution of liquor to native residents ran directly counter to Whistler's charge to keep order in the vicinity. By 1810 the feud between the two men had reached such a point that the War Department was called upon to settle their differences. Since such disputes were by no means rare in Great Lakes military affairs, the Department had a stock plan for dealing with them: namely, to transfer the army officers involved to widelyseparated stations. Thus, Whistler was ordered back to Detroit; his son, William, was transferred to Fort Wayne; and his son-in-law, Lieutenant Hamilton, to Fort Bellefontaine in Missouri. Their removal may well have saved their lives. In August 1812, following the outbreak of war between America and Great Britain, a band of Indians descended on a company of 96 soldiers and civilians attempting to evacuate the fort . More than half the party died in the massacre. Except for the small brick magazine, Fort Dearborn was burned to the ground. After the close of the war, the commanders at Detroit sent another detachment which, under the command of Captain Hezekiah Bradley, arrived in Chicago on July 4, 1816, to begin construction of a second fort. This time the plans included but one blockhouse, immediately east of which were barracks for the soldiers, 84

Captain Louis Thornton Jamison, painted by an unidentified artist c. 1836. Jamison served at Fort Dearborn when it was regarrisoned during the early 1830s. Gift of Mrs. Eleanor Quackenbush. CHS.

storehouses, and other buildings, all surrounded by high palisades. That same year the army established several new garrisons in the Upper orthwest: Fort Howard at Green Bay; Fort Crawford at the mouth of the Wisconsin River; and Fort Edwards and Fort Armstrong on the Mississippi River. o longer the sole outpost in this region, Fon Dearborn was closed by military order in August 1823-only to be regarrisoned five years later following the outbreak of war with the Winnebago Indians near Prairie du Chien. In the spring of 1831 the fort was again abandoned, but troops returned in 1832 when Black Hawk led his raid through southwestern Wisconsin. The defeat of Black Hawk marked the end of Indian resistance in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, ending-once and for all-Fort Dearborn's military career. But the fort had an interesting retirement.

Fort Dearborn

The second Fort Dearborn, 1856. With the exception of the officers' quarters, most of the buildings were demolished in 1857. CHS, ICHi-03054.

When the federal government decided to straighten the Chicago River in the early 1830s, engineers demolished the northern half of the fort to create a new channel. (As a consequence, the river now flows over ground once occupied by two of Chicago's earliest historic landmarks.) In 1837 the remaining buildings were taken over by the Superintendent of Harbor Works and used by various government departments. Twenty years later these structures were also demolished, except for a few buildings adjacent to the blockhouse (including the officers' quarters). These finally fell victim to the 1871 Fire. Fortunately a few public-minded citizens saw fit to salvage the logs from the 1857 demolition, and these passed into the possession of the Chicago Historical Society in 1912. The logs, a handful of recollections, and a few priceless photographs are among the best reminders we have of what was, for more than half a century,

a compelling symbol of American military presence on the vanishing frontier. Selected Sources Material on Fort Dearborn in the Chicago Historical Society reference file. Commission on Chicago Historical and Architectural Landmarks. Summary Information on the Site of Fort Dearborn. Chicago, 1971. Edmunds, R. Da,¡icl. The Potawatomis: Keepers of the Fire. orman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1978. Heitman, F. B. Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army from Its Organization, 1789 to 1889. Washington, D.C., 1890. Hurlbut, Henry H. Chicago Antiquities. Chicago, 1881. Prucha, Francis Paul. A Guide to the Military Posts of the United States, 1789-1895. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1964. - - - . The Sword of the Republic: The United States Army on the Frontier 1783-1846. New York: Macmillan, 1969. Quaife, Milo M. Checagou: From Indian Wigwam to Modern City, 1673-1835. Chicago: UniYersity of Chicago Press, 1933.


Chicago, September 14, 1833: The Last Great Indian Treaty in the Old Northwest By James A. Clifton

Under the treaty protocols dramatized in speeches and debatings and beneath the apparently tawdry exchanges ef the market place was an arrangement. All those who had worked to make Chicago an American place were being rewarded.

for an autumnal steamboat jaunt from Detroit to Mackinac Island but the late season frustrated this pleasant excursion. Hearing of plans for a momentous Indian Treaty to the west, the itinerant Huguenot instead mounted a buckboard and jolted six days across the Michigan prairies toward that "little upstart village," that "mushroom town" Americans called Chicago. There, in the place Potawatomi Indians named Gigak, the travel writer witnessed an astonishing spectacle, one never to be replayed in the Old Northwest. Part tragedy, part comedy, part solemn ceremony, part angry burlesque, the scenes Latrobe scribbled in his journal joined the on-stage niceties of diplomatic ritual to hard-fisted haggling backstage over who would profit how much from the pageant. Those who made up the assembly drawn together for the week were many and varied. For Chicago's population had truly mushroomed from the fewer than fifty residents of a wayside trading station in 1830 to the more than eight thousand Americans and Indians who flocked there in mid-August 1833. Awed by the diverse kinds of actors he saw, Latrobe took care to minutely inventory those CHARLES LATROBE HOPED

James A. Clifton, Professor of Anthropology and History at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, has written numerous essays, monographs, and books concerning American Indians, including The Prairie People: Continuity and Change in Potawatomi Indian Culture 1665-1965. His "Billy Caldwell's Exile in Early Chicago," appeared in Chicago History, Winter 1977-78. 86

present. There were few kinds of stationary "proprietors," he noted-a doctor or two, two or three lawyers, a land agent, five or six hotel keepers, the storekeepers and merchants, and added temporarily to these, a little knot of officers and troopers in Fort Dearborn's slender garrison. But there were the "birds-of-passage," those many walk-on late arrivals come only for treaty week; the emigrants and land-speculators as numerous as the sa nd ... horse-dealers, and horse-stealers, -rogues of every description, white, black, brown , and redhalf-breeds, quarter-breeds, and men of no breed at all; -dealers in pigs, poultry, and potatoes; - men pursuing Indian claims, some for tracts of land, others like our friend Snipe, for pigs which the wolves had eaten; -creditors of the tribes, or of p articular Indians, who know they have no chance of getting their money, if they do not get it from the Government agents; sharpers of every degree; pedlars, grog-sellers; Indian agents and Indian traders of every description, and Contractors to supply the Pottawattomies with food. . . . [Charles J. Latrobe, The Rambler in North America, 1835]

This motley crew was totally surrounded by six thousand Potawatomi, old and young, man, woman, and child, with "companies of old warriors" to be seen "sitting; smoking under every bush; arguing, palavering, or 'pow-wowing' with great earnestness." Latrobe's "friend Snipe" can tell us in part what truly serious business the American players were conducting behind the tragicomic scenes Latrobe portrayed. A back country hog

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This is the first page of signatures of the Indian Treaty negotiated in Chicago in September 1833. The names of the Indian representatives appeared next to their mark. Alongside the latter, government official s affixed diamond -sh aped seal s certifying that the names were correct. National A rchives, Washin gton , D.C.


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Portion of "A Map of the North Western Territory," published in 1795. "Chickago" can be discerned at the southern part of Lake Michigan. From the collections. CHS.

breeder near Niles, he had lost half his herd to Michigan timber wolves the previous winter. Having heard of the treaty he had traveled west in the hope that the commissioners would accept his claim that the Potawatomi, not wolves, had eaten his much-prized swine and would compensate him for his loss. Like all the other "birds-of-passage" in Chicago that August, Snipe saw the treaty-grounds as an odd sort of emporium, a strange multicultural bazaar, a unique kind of exchange. Pressed hard by American officials, the Potawatomi came to Chicago to make a peculiar market. They placed on the block five million acres-near eight thousand square miles-of prime prairie lands, deep loamed farmsteads, green wooded valleys, streams, lakes, marshes, town sites, and beaches. Snipe was one of the least ambitious of his fellows, but all came with 88

visions of windfalls. The huge Potawatomi estate was being converted into liquid wealth, driblets and buckets of which could be shaken out and carried away by anyone quick and nimble enough to find the right purchase. Everything from a grubstake to a comfortable pension to a moclest fortune lay awaiting anybody able to persuade the three treaty commissioners of the righteousness of their claims against the Potawatomi. The commissioners appointed by Secretary of War Lewis Cass to represent the United States government were George B. Porter, governor of Michigan Territory, Thomas Owen, an Indian agent, and William Weatherford, a minor political luminary from Illinois. Officials of high repute-if questionable ethics-the commissioners distributed over half a million dollars in cash and goods: 1833 dollars, hard round silver and

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Manuscript copy of the Treaty of Greenville, 1795, in which Indian tribes delivered to the U.S. governmentamong other lands-a six-mile square tract at "the mouth of the Chikago river." From the collections. CHS.

gold coins, many of which changed hands several times. Another half million dollars was appropriated for later annuity payments, educational and development funds to be paid the Potawatomi in subsequent years once they took up residence in their new reservations on the Missouri River. For the Potawatomi were being urged not only to sell their lands but to abandon the Great Lakes area entirely. There would be other treaties of cession in later years for other tribes of the Old Northwest, but none so large or costly that it would in one stroke cause the final evacuation of the last of a state's native Indian population. Behind these events lay two centuries of changing relationships between the Potawatomi and the French, Spanish, British, and Americans. Heavily involved with the French during the early fur trade years and through the French

and Indian wars, the Potawatomi rapidly expanded their territory, reaching down into northern Illinois and Indiana. It was during these years that the Potawatomi solidified their hold on the Chicago region. Following the British victory over the French in Canada in 1763, the Potawatomi shifted their alliances to the victors. Nonetheless, the French relationship remained strong through the years of the Revolutionary War, particularly so for the westernmost Potawatomi bands of Wisconsin and Illinois. These Western Potawatomi shifted their support to the Spanish authorities at St. Louis, aiding the American effort to break the British hold on the Upper Great Lakes region.• After 1783 the Potawatomi quickly came to realize that the scene was changing, that the development of the new American nation was predicated on a pattern of population expansion, westward migrations, and the acquisition of Indian lands for agricultural purposes. This led them to become involved in the Britishsponsored Western Indian Confederacy and in attempts to block the establishment of American settlements in the Ohio Valley. A period of extensive border warfare followed, with the Potawatomi participating in successive defeats of American military expeditions that ended, only temporarily, in 1794, when General Anthony Wayne overwhelmed the assembled tribes at Fallen Timbers, near present Toledo. Even before this date the Potawatomi had already become involved in treaty negotiations with the United States for the cession of lands in Ohio·. But it was at the 1795 Treaty of Greenville, negotiated by Wayne after his victory, that the Potawatomi first sold parcels of land in the heart of their vast territory. At Greenville they delivered to the Americans a six-mile square tract at the "mouth of the Chikago river ... where a fort formerly stood," along with several similar plots in the Illinois country. Between I 795 and 1812, as settlers moved down the Ohio and up the valleys of the Mississippi, Illinois, and Wabash rivers, the Potawat•Spain acquired the Territory of Louisiana from the French in 1763 and kept it until 1802, when Napoleon regained it for France in a secret treaty. Fearing that the French might settle the area and establish a colony in the heart of America, Thomas Jefferson negotiated the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, thus ·a ssuring American control of this Yast region.


Chicago Treaty of 1833 omi joined other tribes such as the Miami, Kickapoo, and Kaskaskia in ceding even more lands south of Lake Michigan. These cessions, coupled with further American expansion, created great strain and further border warfare, with the Potawatomi once more joining the Western tribes in a rejuvenated military alliance against the United States. This western Indian war was well under way even before growing tensions between Great Britain and the United States brought about the War of 1812. Hence the Illinois Potawatomi with their allies near Lake Michigan were well prepared when news of the outbreak of war reached them, and they quickly fell upon Fort Dearborn's small garrison while its commander was trying to evacuate that isolated post. Joined by their allies, the Potawatomi were successful in holding northern Illinois and Wisconsin securely on the British side through 1815, when the Treaty of Ghent brought peace. At this point American control of Wisconsin and northern Illinois, until then tenuous and symbolic, became a reality, and the Chicagoarea Potawatomi had only two decades remain-

ing in their occupation of these rich blue-stem prairielands. Well before the outbreak of the War of 1812 Americans had begun thinking through a new solution to the Indian problem in the Great Lakes area, a policy that would soon be given the name of Indian Removal. Conceived first by Thomas Jefferson in 1803 upon acquisition of the Louisiana Territory, it was an idea that had to wait until after the War of 1812 to be carried into effect. Until the 1820s Indians east of the Mississippi were too formidable to be easily persuaded into evacuating their lands in exchange for reservations west of the Mississippi River. American settlement pressure then was not as great as it was in later years, and, while the Louisiana Territory was under nominal American sovereignty, its lands were not in the public domain. They had first to be purchased from the tribes occupying them before a place could be made for immigrant Eastern Indians. It was in 1825 that President James Monroe joined the idea of Indian Removal to plans for the rapid internal development of a compact

This British loyalty medal, a symbol of friendship, was given to Chief Blackbird, who led the attack on Fort Dearborn . From the collections. CHS.

An ally of the British in the War of 1812, Potawatomi Chief Metea took part in the Fort Dearborn Massacre. I. T. Bowen, lithographer; F. W. Greenough, publisher. CHS, ICHi-08733.


Chicago Treaty of 1833 United States east of the Mississippi River. Eastern tribes were to be strongly encouraged to sell out and to emigrate westwards. Their lands, passing into the public domain, would be sold to settlers and speculators. The proceeds of these sales would pay the costs of the program, while the surplus would be invested to help fund canals, roadways, and other development projects. Under Monroe, and later John Quincy Adams, many tribes did cede portions of their estates and some, in whole or part, moved to new reservations in the West. After 1815 the Illinois Potawatomi came under intense pressure to part with large portions of their estate. Out of the lands ceded between 1795 and 1818 the state of Illinois was formed to join Indiana and Ohio, already carved out of the Old Northwest Territory. The 1816 treaty is of special interest because it transferred ownership of a twenty-mile swath, including the six-mile square at Chicago, beginning on Lake Michigan and running southwest to the Illinois River. This cession acknowledged the critical importance of water transportation for the development of the region, intended as it was for the site of a canal linking the Great Lakes to the Mississippi Valley. By 1830 the Potawatomi had already sold most of their estate, but none had accepted the invitation to abandon the Great Lakes habitat for reservations on the tall-grass prairies in the West. Instead they had begun concentrating on their remaining lands, on small reservations in Michigan and Indiana, and on the huge, rich tract they still occupied in Wisconsin and northern Illinois. At that moment large events caught up with them. What had been a trickle of American immigrants became a flood when the Erie Canal and improved overland transportation routes were completed. Then, in 1828, Andrew Jackson captured the presidency on a platform demanding massive, systematic removal of all Eastern Indians, and in the spring of 1830, his Indian Removal program became law. Even before passage of the Removal Act the Potawatomi-in 1829-sold most of their remaining lands northwest of Chicago. Next, in 1831, the Menomini gratuitously transferred to the United States another huge swath of Potawatomi real estate, the tract stretching north of

the Milwaukee River to the Door Peninsula, territory the Potawatomi had occupied continuously since the 1650s. And in 1832 the Kankakee River bands conveyed their remaining lands in east central Illinois. That same year the Potawatomi witnessed, indeed cooperated in, the crushing defeat of Black Hawk's rebellious band of Sauk, Fox, and Kickapoo when that aggressively ambitious Sauk leader attempted to reoccupy part of their old territory on the Rock River in militant defiance of Jackson's removal policy. With interest of settlers, miners, developers, and speculators in the region already strong, the national publicity that accompanied Black Hawk's pursuit and defeat sharply increased awareness of the attractions of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. The region was now seen as fully pacified and thousands of young militiamen and regular army troopers had first-hand knowledge of its potential. At the same time anti-Indian sentiment in the region became stronger. The aftermath of the Black Hawk War left the now densely concentrated Potawatomi highly vulnerable. But they were hardly cowed or demoralized. By 1833 their resourceful elders had experienced numerous reverses and misfortunes but they were well adapted to living on a tense frontier and to hard dealings with Americans. Before 1833 they had already negotiated twenty-four treaties with the Kitchimkoman, or Long Knives (as they called the Americans), and another half-dozen with Great Britain. In these transactions they had regularly demonstrated themselves to be tough, capable, skilled negotiators, increasingly adept at the difficult art of extracting the best advantage they could from an impossible situation. Moreover, the Potawatomi concentrated in northern Illinois and Wisconsin were the most conservatively independent of all the Potawatomi band-villages, much less subject to the manipulation of the missionary-trader combines that had already irretrievably divided and weakened their cousins in Indiana and Michigan. Their leaders fully recognized that they would have to evacuate the region. The only issues they could realistically negotiate were when, under what conditions, with what compensation to themselves, and for which 91

Chicago Treaty of 1833


Black Hawk, whose defeat at the Battle of Bad Axe in 1832 marked the end of Indian resistance in northern Illinois. I. T. Bowen, lithographer; F. W. Greenough, publisher. CHS, ICHi-08714.

Thomas L. McKenney of the Ind ian office noted in 1829 that pe ace medals " are, besides indications of Government Fr iendship, badges of power to [the Indians] and trophies of renown ." From the collections. CHS.

destinations. It was in this mood that six thousand Potawatomi flocked to the Chicago Treaty grounds in early September, determined to secure the best possible bargain. The hard bargaining and the conciliations, the parleying and dickering that occupied Potawatomi and American representatives during the third week of August were not without form or design. In the preceding forty years American officials and the tribes of the Old Northwest had worked out a system of mutually understood, well-meshed protocols for conducting such negotiations. And if it created an odd sort of market it also produced a unique spectacle. For there were not many true spectators present. Aside from Charles Latrobe and a few other disinterested novices there was no proper audience for the affair. Nearly everyone present, following the outline of the customary compact and accepted rules of etiquette, had a significant role to play; and all stood to benefit or to lose in some fashion, large or small, short-term or long. Custom required arrangements for the treaty to begin well before the congregating of partici-

pants. Pressured by their constituents, tribal leaders might themselves signal willingness to discuss a cession or, as in 1833 was more frequently the case, American officials, responding to lobbying by settlers, traders, local officers, or land dealers, would make a preliminary announcement sounding out a tribe's interest. With an official American invitation in hand, councils of tribal elders and leaders would meet to debate the matter before sending out word of the coming negotiations to their people at large. Meanwhile the president had to appoint commissioners and provide them their instructions before formal announcements could be dispatched. While this was being done, up to the date of the treaty, Indian leaders would continue to meet, debating the possible terms of a treaty and its advisability. American officials in the Old Northwest fully appreciated that such critical decisions could not legitimately be reached without these extensive preliminaries. Part of their explicit protocol was the principle that valid treaties could not be made by a few "chiefs" or even a group of elders by them-


Chicago Treaty of 1833 selves. Well-experienced frontier statesmen such as Thomas Forsyth, Lewis Cass, and William Clark understood that these tribes were "perfectly republican," that power lay in the hands of the many, not the few, and that the Indians of the Northwest would not accept treaty arrangements .as properly done until all had participated in the doing. Hence both American and Potawatomi officialdom required full prior discussions and open public debate and agreement at the council grounds proper. After the Potawatomi signaled their willingness to negotiate they would begin assembling at the designated location, as did the treaty commissioners, their retinues, and other interested participants. At this point the main negotiators could begin their discussions. On the Potawatomi side a large representative sampling of the groups involved-leaders, elders, men, women, and children, clustered by band and village-ran their own councils discussing the terms and issues alongside but separate from the joint sessions. These were the bunches of old warriors and others that Latrobe noted sitting smoking in the shade, arguing, palavering, agreeing. From these separate councils came a consensus-in whole on some matters and in part on others-that comprised the formal instructions for their speakers at the joint meetings with their American counterparts. When the outline of the treaty was agreed to, its terms translated and publicly explained, it was properly engrossed and then, with full ritual, signed by a long representative list of leaders and elders. After copies had been delivered to Potawatomi delegations, the original was sent to Washington for the approval of the president and the Senate. The process did not simply stop there, for the Senate often amended the treaty and altered its terms, which required that the modified document be returned for final approval by the tribe concerned. Thus, the Chicago Treaty was not ready for proclamation by the president for another eighteen months, because the Senate had substituted a reservation in western Iowa for the original lands in Missouri and had otherwise exercised oversight, changing some of the terms of payments to individuals. However, at the treaty grounds, once the document was formally signed, the Potawatomi

expected-and the Americans complied in delivering-large amounts of cash payments and goods. It was by then well into autumn. Winter was fast approaching, and the Indians had imperative short-term needs to meet. Their lands and resources greatly diminished, they wanted the wherewithal to meet the strains of the coming cold, hungry season. These unwritten principles of right action for land cession negotiations accepted by Americans and Potawatomi did not, of course, cover all eventualities. Nor did they fully regulate the conduct of every actor. Hidden agendas and rule-bending prevailed on all sides. The public interest and the private motives of both Americans and Potawatomi were seldom equivalent, often diverse, and sometimes in open conflict. Consequently, the actual conduct of negotiations and subsequent distributions of payments were less than ideal or fully impartial. The Chicago Treaty was negotiated by several different groups of Potawatomi communities, for instance, and each had interests and aims not shared by the others. The so-called United Bands of Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi were from villages in northern Illinois and south-central Wisconsin. The use of this designation by Americans was misleading, since all those involved were Potawatomi in social identity and political organization. The cover name merely recognized the fact that numerous Ottawa and fewer Chippewa had earlier been assimilated into the Potawatomi communities, and that the Potawatomi proper had long standing alliances with these other societies. In addition, the United Bands had the largest stake in the negotiations, for the greatest share of the lands being sold were occupied by them, and these were the last they owned in the region. Nonetheless, the United Bands had expressed acquiescence to the idea of westward removal. However, the southern Michigan Potawatomi, many fewer in number, selling their last three small reservations, vehemently opposed abandoning the Great Lakes area. They demanded and received the option of moving north to live among the Catholic Ottawa at L'Arbre Croche. The even fewer Potawatomi from the villages north of the Milwaukee River arrived indignant, to insist on justice and payment for the Menomini's cession of their lands in 1831. Still living re93

Chicago Treaty of 1833 mote from American settlements, they were not concerned with the idea of removal and in fact avoided the issue in later years by slipping away to Canada or the forests of northern Wisconsin. The wants, motives, and roles of the American participants were even more diverse than those of the Potawatomi and less subject to immediate public sanction and control. Indeed, some of the Americans, including several commissioners, were carried away by the prevailing windfall ambience and managed to convert civic authority and responsibility into illicit private gain. Surrounding these officials was an over-eager mass of clamoring claimants, each pressing demands upon the commissioners, other agents, and the Potawatomi themselves. Latrobe's assessment of those gathered m Chicago on September 14, 1833, was sound as far as it went. But it was incomplete, and he failed to see the forest for the trees. Included among the "birds of passage" that he failed to mention were a variety of other walk-on characters looking for fast profits: hucksters of various wares and services, land sharpers, war-claim agents, counterfeiters, short-change artists, patent-medicine salesmen, journalists, prostitutes, portrait-painters, and confidence men. But these were fly-by-nights of the sort likely to show up at any major American happening where purses were full and excitement high. In the aggregate they composed little more than a fresh category of pioneers foreshadowing the arrival of a new urban frontier. Yet such penny-ante scoundrels had much less influence on diminishing the contents of the boxes of silver coins at the treaty grounds than a larger and diverse assortment of figures long associated with life and Indian affairs in the Chicago region. These Latrobe never quite got into understandable focus . They included aging agents grown feeble in the Indian Service looking for funds to soften their retirement years-men such as Thomas Forsyth. They included soon-to-be disemployed American appointed "chiefs" such as Billy Caldwell, Alexander R obinson, Shabbona, and Pokagun, all faced with premature retirement once the treaty was done and their services no longer needed, all seeking recompense for services rendered and a portion for severance pay. They included elderly old-time small merchants and 94

Indian traders as well as vigorous representatives of the powerful American Fur Company (and their debtors, assigns, and heirs), all demanding that the government act as paymaster for Potawatomi debts, whether minor or immense. They included old residents such as Antoine Ouilmette and Mrs. Linai T. Helm, wanting their due for injuries or losses suffered during the Fort Dearborn Massacre, as well as more recent sufferers such as Rachel and Sylvia

Principal war chief of the Potawatomi of the Prairie, Waubansee was a British ally in the War of 1812. Later he represented his people at various treaty negotiations with the U.S. government, including the treaty signed in Chicago in September 1833. I. T. Bowen , lithographer; F. W. Greenough, publisher. CHS, ICHi-08755.

Hall, desiring compensation for privations experienced during the Black Hawk War. They also included the rising new traders, the Robert A. Forsyths and the William Ewings, desiring payments of recent debts. They included principals from the Choctaw Academy soliciting scholarships for future Potawatomi students, and missionaries seeking to finance their visions of an Indian Canaan. They included companies of frontier characters of ob-

Chicago Treaty of 1833 scure antecedents and marginal means who had long made their livings in the interstices between American and Potawatorni institutions. They included regiments of Joseph Napoleon Bourasses, Pierre N avarres, and Louis Grignons, the very old line French-Canadians, Metis (part India.n, part French) voyageurs-the traditional hewers-of-wood, drawers of water, teamsters, boatmen, interpreters, market gardeners-who for ages had served first French, later English, and then American interests on this frontier. Many of these men would, now that the frontier was passing and their place in it evaporating, shortly become convert Potawatomi "chiefs" and rise as a new elite class in the West. They included, as well, a miscellaneous sundry of heirs, children, assigns, retainers, servants, employees and associates of all of the above. And they included a good number whose dreams of harvesting the windfall were unrealized, including Latrobe's friend Snipe, who never did recoup his losses for hogs strayed or eaten by Indians. Indeed, the long lists of payees appended to the Chicago Treaty excluded very few who had anything at all to do with affairs in the Chicago region in the half-century before the 1833 treaty. Perhaps this is why Snipe went unsatisfied. He did not belong. He was not an old settler. He had not contributed his tithe of living to developing the Chicago frontier. It is too easy to become lost in long lists of names or even classes of individuals who benefitted from the Chicago Treaty. No sense at first seems to emerge from such enumerations. It is entirely too simple, also, to pity the poor Potawatomi for the fiscal wrongs done to them that August. Little satisfaction accrues from such latter-day judgments, particularly so because the Potawatomi then did not complain about the fairness of the distribution. And there is little genuine profit of understanding in the puritanical posture adopted by recent historians of these transactions, who regularly look down their moral noses freely accusing all or various payees-whether American, Potawatomi, FrenchCanadian, in-between, mixed, or alternating in their identities-of assorted derelictions and sins: bribery, peculation, fraud, greed, dishonesty, corruption and embezzlement. Such trials by history miss and avoid a simple

truth. The circumstances of living and the conditions for surviving in Chicago in 1833 were vastly different from those obtaining a century and a half later, with none of the social services and securities later made available to those who had done their part in creating community. Under the treaty protocols dramatized in speeches and debatings and beneath the apparently tawdry exchanges of the market place was an arrangement. All those who had worked to make Chicago an American place, rather than a Potawatomi or a French or an English district, were being rewarded. The relative scale of compensation may not have been fully equitable, but rather than fraud it may be better to see well-earned commission, instead of bribe hard-won pay, in place of embezzlement valid perquisite, in lieu of greed authentic reparation or indemnity, and as alternative to dishonesty legitimate reward. Such judgment may better mirror the values and purposes of the time and place, pointing us thereby to a finer gauging and a weightier measuring of the historical meaning of the event. If there was any larger symbol in the 1833 Chicago Treaty it was that it marked the end of an era-the passing of the Indian frontier. Soon the Potawatorni departed, many h~ading west to the high plains where for decades they chased the buffalo and fended off the Sioux, American missionaries, and officials demanding new treaties. Others went north into Wisconsin's forests. More went eastward seeking refuge on the shores of Lake Huron in Canada. Billy Caldwell accompanied his Potawatomi employees to Missouri and Iowa and aided them until his death there in 1841. Alexander Robinson and his family retired to a life of obscurity in the forest preserve that bore his supposed Indian name, Che-Che-Pinqua. The American Fur Company abandoned the region as did small traders one after the other. The Chicago Indian Office was closed. Memories of the Potawatomi, of Indian days, thereafter lingered on only in the tales that soon turned history into legends, tailored to fit the needs of a new generation of urbanites who had not participated in the events. Memories of the Potawatomi also lingered on, faintly, in Chicago area place names: Michigan-the Great Lake, Caldwell Avenue, Half95

Chicago Treaty of 1833 Wanted for the Removal of Intlians, ROM 10 to 40 OX TEAMS. TJic wag1on11 to lie atrong .~nd well made, with good canvua or cotton covers, \(I keep every thing within dry-to eany with it a bucket for ta.r or greeec-t.Q. be .s1_1pplied with an axe, or hal.chet, hammer,·and nails. Each "aggon to have two yoke of Oxen, to f?tlJ'fy' 1500 lbl. i( N · quired, and to tn'!el daily twenty ~ilea, ii ~ecenuy. · A per diem allowance will be pauf, commencinJ on the day the team is tlecepted, which will include all lLUowance•, except to the ttanurten, a pound of bread and moat will be issued and forage to the Oxen. Thi.• allowance lo ciontinue until the arrivtl of the pllrty at the country allotted to the Inttian1 we• t, and a day' a -pay for each twentf miles for their return to Chicago. The Uwted . Sta.te• will not be resp0neible for any accident that may accrue.The teamstera &n,1 ~plici~:: oWy all rea.onable ordera and direetiotU the gc,verameqt agents. No te&mater under 18 years of will be accepted. It i9 rese"ed to the 1o•emment agent 1n charge of the party, to discharge a team at any time by a.llowinr him hia return pay u above stipulated. fro·p onJa •t.o be made to the subscriber, at his office, in Col. John H. Kinzie' • at.ore, on or.before the 19tb of September. · J. B. f'. RUSSELL, «;:apt. U. 8; Army, lfili~ Diab'.g, Agent. Cl&icallo , ~~1836.~ l · .



.. Bg t1e ·_ Pruiualoj t/ae Uirittd :Bl<del.


purauauc:e of law, l, A1Jn&sw J&cJUO!f~ Pl'ffident of the United Statae of America, do hereby declare and mue known, that a public ale will be held at !he Lud Oflice at Green Bay, in , tbe 'l'erritory of Michiaru. commen-· cing on Monday the sixteenth da7 of November aert, tbr. Ute cfia~ o( the public Janda

• 1toate wi\hin l&e lim1ta of the 111ulennentioned

The Chicago Democrat, September 16, 1835, carried thi s advertisement for oxen to be used for the removal of Indians from the area. CHS, ICHi-14179.

Day Road, Waukegan, Yellow Head, Waupansee, Skokie, Senachewinne, Che-Che-Pinqua Woods, Winneconna, Kiswaukee, Shabbona, Paw Paw, Black Partridge, Chicago itself. Selected Sources Treaty with the Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi Indians, 1833. In General Records of the U.S. Government, Record Group 11, Ratified Indian Treaties (M668), 1ational Archi\'es, Washington, D .C. Included in Charles J. Kappler, eel., Indian Treaties 17781883 (Reprint edition: Interlancl Publishing Company, 1975). Correspondence and Documents of the Chicago Treaty. In Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Documents Relating to the Negotiation of Ratified and Unratified Treaties with Various Indian Tribes, 1801 - 1869 (T494) , National Archives. Clifton, James A. "Captain Billy Caldwell's Exile in Early Chicago." Chicago History 6 (Winter 1977-78). - - . "Merchant, Soldier, Broker, Chief: A Corrected Obituary of Captain Billy Caldwell." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 71 (August 1978). - - . A Place of Refuge fo1· All Time: Migration of the American Potawatomi into Upper Canada. Ottawa: National Museum of Man, Mercury Series No. 26, 1975. - - . The Prairie People: Continuity and Change in Potawalomi Indian Culture, 1665-1965. Lawrence: Regents Press of the University of Kansas, 1977. Dowd, James. Built Like a Bear. Fairfield, ,vashington: Ye Galleon Press, 1979. Biography of Shabbona. Gerwing, Anselm J. "The Chicago Indian Treaty of 1833." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 57 (Summer 1964). Latrobe, Charles Joseph. The Rambler in North Ame,·• ica. 2 ,·ols. London: R. B. Seeley, 1835. Quaife, Milo M. Chicago and the Old Northwest, 16731835. Chicago: Uni\'ersity of Chicago Press, 1913. - - . "Documents: The Chicago Treaty of 1833." Wisconsin Maga%ine of History I ( March 1918). Shirreff, Patrick. A Tour through North America. Edin • burgh: O!iYer & Boyd, 1835.

War cl ub presented to Stephen F. Gale by Half Day in 1835 as a memento of the Potawatomis' departure from Chicago. Gift of Stephen F. Gale. CHS.


Chicago Treaty of 1833

This Article of Agreement , July 4, 1837, between the U.S. government and Christian B. Dodson, provided for the latter to furnish animals and services to be used in "the removal of Emigrating Party of Pottowatamie tribe of Indians west of the Mississippi. " From the collections. CHS.


Goodbye, Madore Beaubien: The Americanization of Early Chicago Society By Jacqueline Peterson

Many of Chicago's first settlers were of mixed ancestry, having married or grown to maturity in households sharing at least two languages, two sets of kin, and a culture that combined elements of Indian and EuroAmerican societies.

ABOUT MIDNIGHT ON NOVEMBER 13, 1833, blazing meteors fell from the winter sky illuminating the eastern half of North America. In the Midwest, the astral showers were accompanied by a remarkable atmospheric change. Warm winds throughout November and December prevented Lakes Michigan and Huron from freezing as far north as Mackinac Island, and Indians thereabouts were said to be making maple sugar (a spring occupation) in December. Sky-gazers interpreted these marvelous occurrences variously, but Indians viewed "the falling of the stars" with alarm, believing it a dreadful omen, a sign of doom. The preceding summer, the last Indian resistance movement in the Great Lakes had been quelled, Black Hawk defeated, his people cut down on the mudflats of the Mississippi or at the hands of enemy Sioux. Only two months earlier, in September 1833, the United Band of Potawatomi, Ottawa, and Chippewa had ceded 5,000,000 acres of remaining lands in Illinois and Wisconsin for a thinly-disguised exile in the West. Now, settlers, land speculators, hopefuls, and hangers-on of every stripe were beginning to swarm into northern Illinois. At Chicago, the community of fur traders

Ja cqueline Peterson, a recent Ph. D. in history from the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle, is a research associate for the Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History project at The Newberry Library. H er "'Wild Chicago': The Formation and Destruction of a Multiracial Community on the Midwestern Frontier, 1816-1837," forms the first chapter of The Ethnic Frontier (1977) edited by Melvin Holli and Peter d'A. Jones.


slumbered in the shadow of Fort Dearborn. If the meteoric display were a portent, few, if any, of the town's old settlers recognized this at the time. Despite the momentous happenings of the preceding two years and a widening trickle of Eastern migrants, Chicago appeared little changed from the unprepossessing village Thompson surveyed in 1830. The population had tripled, perhaps, growing from about 100 to 300 persons. But aside from the single commercial thoroughfare-muddy South Water Street with its hastily thrown-up storefronts and shanties-Chicago sprawled in seeming disorder. The low-slung, white-washed log and bark-covered cabins of its early residents followed the meanderings of the river's branches, rather than sitting smartly in neat platted rows. According to Thompson's survey, which laid down the square imprint of a grid upon this curving and unfettered landscape, Mark Beaubien's tavern, the Sauganash, sat smack in the middle of a newly created road. But Mark Beaubien, like other early settlers, "didn't expect no town." Nor did they want one, at least not the sort of place that Easterners envisioned. In the early 1830s, Chicago was still remarkably free of the institutional trappings associated with American town life: it possessed no viilage square, no grassy mall, church steeple, sundial, schoolhouse, or jail. Roads hued to the contours of the land, rather than crossing at right angles, and titles to house and fenced cornfields were, for the most part, unwritten. Yet this was no random sprawl. Lifeways at Chicago were waterways. Households occupied the high dry ridges of the Chicago River's

Wolf Point 1833 as depicted by Justin Herriott c. 1902. The large building in the foreground is Mark Beaubien's Sauganash Tavern. Gift of William Gale. CHS, ICHi-05946.

triumvirate arms, gardens and outbuildings straggling into the thin stands of scrub oak, poplar, and hemlock behind. Moreover, even for so small and dispersed a community, family and clan units had carved out territorial divisions. On the north side, the two branches of John Kinzie's descendants reigned. The Anglophile fur-trading branch from Detroit-the primary Kinzie line-controlled portions of what would later be known as the Magnificent Mile and the Gold Coast, although in the 1830s most of "Kinzie's Addition" was swamp and sand dune. The other branch-Kinzie's children by an early "country" wife, Margaret fackenzie, and their Virginia relatives-settled further west, their farms, distilleries, and stockyards stretching up the north arm of the Chicago River. On the south side, the log dwellings of the Beaubien brothers-fur trader Jean Baptiste

and the younger Mark-and their burgeoning families, flanked Fort Dearborn. Both homesites had been shrewdly located. In acquiring the former Dean house, a jerry-built five room structure at the foot of Madison Street where the Chicago River took its last sluggish turn into Lake Michigan, Jean Baptiste Beaubien positioned himself so as to intercept the bateaux brimming with trade goods when they first arrived from Mackinac Island via Lake Michigan. Similarly, Mark Beaubien's tavern, situated at the juncture of the river's branches and opposite Wolf Point, caught the eye of land and water traffic from three directions. A few miles up the south branch, at the entrance to I\Iud Lake and the portage, a fluctuating population of traders and voyageurs and their families clustered at Hardscrabble (now Bridgeport). The names usually associated with this location included Robinson, 99

Goodbye, Madore Beaubien

John Jacob Astor (1763-1848), founder of the American Fur Company, dubbed "a self-invented money-making machine." From Gallery of Eminent Americans, 1862. ct-:s, ICHi-09440.

Jean Baptiste Beaubien (1787-1863), a French-Canadian creole, came to Chicago in 1817 as an employee of the American Fur Company. CHS, ICHi-14135.

Chevalier, Bourassa, LaFramboise, and sometimes Ouilmette, although the latter's permanent home and trading station was to be found on a ridge above Lake Michigan at Grosse Pointe (now Wilmette) on the road to Waukegan and Milwaukee. Here, by the early 1830s, Antoine Ouilmette's children were also settling with their spouses, as had a few newcomers like Stephen J. Scott. The closest Indian settlements were located on the Des Plaines near Laughton's tavern (Riverside) and near Alexander Robinson's and Billy Caldwell's encampments in the environs of present Sauganash. However, when the intense July heat dried the wetlands about Chicago many Potawatomi families moved closer in to trade, bringing their belled ponies to feed untethered on the luxuriant grasses and pitching their cool summer lodges on the prairie just west of Wolf Point, were the arms of the river joined. The dispersed nature of early Chicago often caused outsiders to denigrate its significance, if not to miss the settlement altogether. Yet this was a community, similar in design, human com-

position, and culture to dozens of other settlements established in the Great Lakes region prior to the 1830s. While there was no grid, old settlers at Chicago instinctively chose to congregate at the center, making Wolf Point a social and economic core. Here, fair weather trading stores proliferated, the Wolf and Green Tree taverns rose to accommodate Chicago's early travelers, and the town's first tannery and meeting house were erected. The Point functioned as a kind of free zone where clan rivalries, social classes, and masterservant relationships momentarily dissolved as diverse races and ethnicities commingled. The Anglo-American Kim:es, French-Canadian Beaubiens, the Potawatomi, and others all gathered here, swapping tales, bartering produce and peltry for trade goods, gambling, racing horses and carioles, and occasionally attending the exhortations of an itinerant minister. Whatever their private animosities and prejudices, a common dependence upon the Indian trade and a liberal use of the universal solvent-whiskey-brought these folk


Goodbye, Madore Beaubien


John Harris Kinzie (1803-1865), son of trader John Kinzie, was first an Indian subagent, then a Chicago businessman. CHS, ICHi-10967.

Madore Beaubien (1809-1883), part Ottawa Indian, was known as the "handsomest man in Chicago." He later settled on the Potawatomi reserve in Kansas. CHS, ICHi-14153.

into community. If tensions flared, they were soothed by the lighthearted strains of Mark Beaubien's fiddle, for with the opening of the pretentious two-story, blue-shuttered Sauganash in 1826, frolicking and jigging became, next to drinking, Chicago's favorite preoccupations. There was something else which set these insouciant folk apart from their American counterparts to the east in the early 1830s: a naive and ultimately devastating disregard for "progress." The members of Chicago's early fur trade community shared in common a belief system, or a way of looking at the world, which valued harmony and unanimity over competition; leisure over excess productivity; family and clan over economic interest and class; hospitality over exclusivity; generosity over saving; and today over tomorrow. It made no sense to attempt to bottle time or alter the natural bent of things. Life was a circle. Such ideas and values lent a suspiciously Indian cast to Chicago's old settlers, and for good reason. The vast majority of these folk were of mixed Indian and white ancestry, the product of two

cultures. They had either married into or grew to maturity within households sharing at least two languages, two sets of kin, and a material culture which innovatively combined elements valued by both Indian and EuroAmerican societies. Such a community was unprepared for the events set in motion by Thompson's coming in 1830. Although the more astute English-speaking Kinzies privately entered their claim to 102 north side acres in 1831, the platting of the town and downstate interest in building the Illinois and Michigan Canal failed to inspire a public-spirited drive or entrepreneurial schemes. For a time, bidding for town lots appeared more as novelty than shrewd business investment, and the lots themselves as possessions to be swapped, given away, or to put up at horse races rather than hoarded. But then momentum from elsewhere began to build. In 1833, Robert Allen Kinzie returned from a buying trip back East with the astonishing news that New York speculator Arthur Bronson had paid .$20,000 for Kinzie family lands on the north side. By early 101

Goodbye, Madore Beaubien August, coached through the unfamiliar legal procedures by experienced Yankee newcomers, 28 Chicagoans gathered at Mark Beaubien's tavern to incorporate their settlement as a town, and to elect a president and board of trustees. In bowing to downstate pressures and by organizing a town government with powers to heap regulations upon their lives, Chicago's old settlers unwittingly provided a formal mechanism for their own undoing. Within a few short years, the harmonious multiracial trading community straddling the Chicago River's arms was metamorphosed into a straight-laced, institution-ridden, class-conscious urban metropolis which could have been anywhere. Momentarily, however, the original inhabitants held onto the reins, as the elections of 1833 and 1834 demonstrated. Madore Benjamin Beaubien (1809-1883), elected to the first board of town trustees in 1833, and John Harris Kinzie (1803-1865),

second town president from 1834 to 1835, were second-generation scions of Chicago's two most important early lineages. Their fathers, Jean Baptiste Beaubien and John Kinzie, had been fur trade associates and intimates. The sons, under normal circumstances, would have been expected to assume the mantle of their fathers' social and economic position. But Chicago was not a normal or stable place to be in the 1830s. Instead, the destinies of these young Chicago men abruptly separated, just as the new town split and spun away from the old. This was no coincidence. To a remarkable degree, the life histories of these two figures-Madore Beaubien, of French-Indian and Catholic heritage, and .John Harris, Anglo-Saxon and Protestantwere to mirror the contradictions and strains underlying the growth and transformation of early Chicago into a modern city. But in order to understand how that remarkable change came about, we will have to go back to the

Mackinac Island , headquarters of the American Fur Company. From Vues et Souvenirs de L'Amerique du Nord , Paris, 1842. Gift of Dr. Otto L. Schmidt. CHS, ICHi-14177.


Goodbye, Madore Beaubien beginning of Chicago's history.

The place called Chicago-a windswept glacial plain marked by patches of scrub oak and poplar, sandhills, and low-lying marshes-had been, from the 1690s forward, the habitation of a small, shifting population of fur traders and adventurers. Such antiquity should not mask the secondary, "backwater" characteristics of the spot, however. In the larger eighteenth and early nineteenth century world-a fur trade universe stretching from the counting houses of London, New York, and Montreal to the warehouses of Mackinac Island and Detroit, and to the vast fur fields beyond-Chicago was only one of dozens of subsidiary trading hamlets dotting the waterways of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River drainage systems. Prior to the American Revolution, Chicago functioned as one of the northernmost trading

outposts of French- and later Spanish-controlled Louisiana. Traders like Chicago's first settler, the well-heeled Santo Domingan mulatto, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, who occupied a commodious French-style house with numerous outbuildings at the mouth of the Chicago River until 1800, were drawn northward from the Illinois country and Peoria to the vicinity of the Chicago portage. By the 1790s, however, the locus of influence had shifted toward British Canada and the newly-created United States. The Montreal pedlars of the British North West Company rarely penetrated as far south as Chicago; however, most independent traders who exploited Chicago as a "jack-knife" or subsidiary wintering post after 1800 were supplied by British merchants at Detroit and Montreal. While the French-Canadian employees, or engages, of such traders built trading huts along the river's branches, it was not until Fort Dearborn rose at the site in 1803 that men

Receipt for furs delivered to the American Fur Company in Chicago, 1826. By this time, dwindling wildlife had all but ended the fur trade in the area. CHS.




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Goodbye, Madore Beaubien of higher rank and of Anglo-Saxon heritage migrated permanently to Chicago. John Harris Kinzie's father, old John Kinzie, was not the founder of Chicago but he does own the distinction of being its first Englishspeaking resident. Kinzie Sr. was born in Quebec in 1763 of British parents, but after his father's early death, his mother married a Scots-Irishman, Thomas Forsyth, who kept a tavern and a farm in the Grosse Pointe district of Detroit. Thus, John was raised within the old French-Canadian fur trading community along the straits connecting Lakes Ontario and Huron, a community where British influence and intrigue persisted well beyond the American Revolution. Aged forty in 1803, the year of Fort Dearborn's founding, John Kinzie had already acquired a considerable reputation as a trader among the Potawatomi on the St. Joseph River in southwestern Michigan, as well as in the Sandusky and Fort Wayne environs. Indians knew and respected him primarily for his silverworking abilities, but Detroit merchants recognized his keen business sense. In company with his half-brother, Thomas Forsyth, Kinzie and a coterie of frontier entrepreneurs nearly wangled an illegal Indian cession of lands in Michigan and Indiana before General Anthony Wayne could complete the Treaty of Greenville in 1795. Sometime during his late teens or early twenties, Kinzie and a fellow trader, Alexander Clark, set up housekeeping near Sandusky with two Giles County, Virginia, girls--Margaret and Elizabeth Mackenzie. These were no ordinary wives. During Lord Dunmore's War in the early 1770s, Margaret and Elizabeth had been captured by the Shawnee and raised among them. Years later, when given to or purchased by Kinzie and Clark, they served as able Indian interpreters and intermediaries for their novice trader husbands. By the end of the American Revolution, Kinzie and Margaret had three children: James, William, and Elizabeth. Clark named his only son by Elizabeth, John Kinzie, after his associate and friend. Kinzie's marriage terminated abruptly when the elder Mackenzie arrived at Detroit to retrieve his stolen daughters. The reasons for Margaret's rejection of Kinzie are obscure, but 104

the sisters packed up their children and fled to Virginia, where they promptly found new husbands in Jonas Clybourne and Benjamin Hall, Giles County men. This "southern" Kinzie line would eventually come back to haunt John Kinzie at Chicago, but in 1803, he had embarked upon a second marital adventure, marrying Elizabeth McKillip, the Detroit widow of a British officer. Their first child, a son named John Harris Kinzie, was born in July.

Mark Beaubien (1800-1881), the French creole fiddler who followed his older brother Jean Baptiste to Chicago in the 1820s. CHS, ICHi-09485.

Significantly, in Elizabeth McKillip, Kinzie acquired another "white captive" familiar with Indian custom, language, and values and thus a useful helpmate to an ambitious Indian trader. 'While Kinzie and his wife would later be regarded as the first "white" family at Chicago, Kinzie had twice spurned traditionally reared and protected American or Englishwomen in favor of ladies with Indian affinities or attributes. This was not unusual. Prior to 1816,

Goodbye, Madore Beaubien every successful trader operating in southwestern Michigan, Chicago, and Milwaukee had hued to the custom of the country within fur trade society. That is, they took to wife, often informally, a woman of Indian descent, thus forging an alliance with her male kin. Even Kinzie's half-brother Thomas Forsyth temporarily married a Chippewa woman early in his career. By 1803, John Kinzie had won the trust of his Indian clients, but marriage to

Daguerreotype of Rebekah Wells Heald (1776-1857). Arriving in 1811 as the bride of Captain Nathan Heald, commandant at Fort Dearborn, she was one of the first white women to settle in the Chicago area. CHS, ICHi-13957.

Elizabeth McKillip was a fair compromise. In partnership with his half-brothers, Thomas and Robert Forsyth, Kinzie now schemed to get the jump on less astute competitors. The harvest around Chicago of valuable winter peltries such as beaver and marten had notoriously yielded a poorer return than other trading sites. However, in Kinzie's view, the posting of soldiers at Fort Dearborn promised a tidy traffic in sundries and necessities. Hoping to

combine this with a monopoly on the Potawatomi trade in northern Illinois, Kinzie and entourage traveled overland, skirting the sandhills which lined the lower bowl of Lake Michigan to the tiny hamlet of Chicago. John Harris was carried in a Tipinagan-a Chippewa child's house or cradleboard-on the back of an Indian servant who probably was also his wetnurse. Shouldering aside French-speaking Canadians and French-Indians like the interpreter Jean Lalime, Kinzie set himself up in Du Sable's establishment near the lakeshore on the north bank of the Chicago River. Soon constructing a trading house on the opposite bank, near the fort, Kinzie quickly emerged as the undisputed "big man" of Chicago. First in partnership with the Forsyths and later as an independent agent for the Southwest Company, the volatile redbeard cast a long shadow. Prior to the outbreak of the War of 1812, nearly everyone at Chicago was either in Kinzie's debt or his employ. Yet he did contribute to the village's growth by importing employees like Billy Caldwell and Alexander Robinson from the St. Joseph region, and by persuading Milwaukee traders Mirandeau and LaFramboise to apprentice their part-Potawatomi children to him as household servants. Even the fort felt Kinzie's presence. Not only did he render laughable the U.S. Factory, established by the government to undersell independent traders like himself and thereby end their insidious influence among the Indians, but he wangled his way into becoming supplier to the fort-a very lucrative office indeed. Available cash at Chicago flowed in Kinzie's direction. When the garrison's pay failed to arrive on schedule the shrewd trader was able to advance the soldiers' wages, knowing full well that the specie would soon return to his till. Kinzie's four children-John Harris, Ellen Marion, Maria Indiana, and Robert Allen-all born between 1803 and 1810, basked in their father's light. Indisputably, they were members of Chicago's wealthiest and most powerful family. Moreover, they were white, a fact of no weighty moment in the first decade of the nineteenth century, but one which gained them social entrance to the officers' quarters at Fort Dearborn and the attention of American officials. The War of 1812, which called British sympa105

Goodbye, Madore Beaubien thizers into question, caught the Kinzie fami ly off guard, however. By 1813, in the wake of the Fort Dearborn Massacre, old John Kinzie languished in a Quebec jail, his fina n ces in shambles, and h is wife and children dependent upon relatives at Detroit. During the war years, the Kinzie estate fell into ruin. Only the Ouilmettes and Alexander R obinson remained at Ch icago, earning a meager livelihood by cultivating the corn fields and gardens of the former garrison. In 18 16, wi th the rebuild ing of Fort Dearborn, the repatriated John Kinzie and his fami ly retu rned to a village seemingly untouched except for the macabre reminders of the massacre lyi ng among the sandhills south of the fort. Yet, the final defeat of British efforts to h ang on to the Great Lakes fur traffic set in motion devastating social repercussions. Increasingly, Chi cago was to become a town of im poverished midd lemen directed from the America n Fur Company's big house on Mackinac Island, as its formerly independent trade employees were drawn into the ravenous maw of J ohn J acob Astor's fur trade monopoly. Kinzie, who had worked for Astor's pre-18 12 Sou thwest Company, never regained his forme r economic status or influence. When he proved un able to best John Crafts, an independent trader irritati ngly lodged at Hardscrabble after 1816, Astor's managers at Mackinac Island transferred a young FrenchCanadi an trader-J ean Baptiste Beaubienthen working at Milwau kee, to Chicago. ln 18 17, Ch icago's second founder (and father of Madore Beaubien) moved into the old government warehouse beneath the pickets of Fort Dearborn. J ea n Baptiste Beaubien was born in 1787, a full generation after Kinzie, into the same G rosse Point d is tr ict of Detroit. Yet unlike the newcomer Forsyths, Beaubien hailed from a proli fic and highly respected French-Canadian creole fami ly, whose roots at Detroit wen t back th ree generations. H is aun t, Angelique Cuillerier Beau bien, was the heroine of Pon tiac's R ebellion, revealing the Indian plot to the Br itish at Detroit and thus thwarting an intended massacre. Clannish, devou t pillars of the Ca tholic Church , small farmers and orch ard tenders, the Beau biens were among the 106

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by the Second Arti.~ cle of the Treaty of Chicago, of tbe-26~ o( Septe.~ ber,· 1833, it is provided that 1U United Natiopa of Chippewa, Ottawa, and '. fot&a~ lndiaos, ,hall be permitted to retain p<>!lie•ion of an. that part of the country ced~d, lying North of the boundary lia. of Uie State of ltlinos,, for the term of three years, ·without molestation or interruption, and u_oder the protection of the laws of the U oiled States. Tllerefore PaMie. Notice


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Goodbye, Madore Beaubien more distinguished families in post-American Revolutionary Detroit, years when American and British enterprise worked to reduce the string of tiny riverfront farms to a Frenchspeaking ghetto. Jean Baptiste was something of a prodigy. His entry into the fur trade coincided with the tightening of the upper ranks of the occupation against French Canadians, but it is doubtful that he was aware of this. Nor did his early career reflect the growing ethnic prejudice which made of the voyageur and engage ranks virtually a French-Canadian and French-Indian caste. Prior to 1800, while barely a teenager, he had served as an apprentice clerk to Joseph Bailly at St. Joseph and Grand rivers. By 1804, his trading sphere had enlarged to include Milwaukee, Chicago, and Mackinac. In that year he turned seventeen. Beaubien followed the usual diplomatic protocol in establishing a commercial relationship with a tribe or hunting band. In marrying Mahnobunoqua, a Grand River Ottawa woman, Beaubien not only won the favor of her extended kin, but also a trading relationship and lifelong friendship with Shabbona, head of a band in the Chicago area. Their first child, Marie, was born at Chicago in 1805, followed two years later by Charles Henry. The third, Madore, was born at the mouth of Thorn Creek in Michigan during July of 1809, probably in a small birthing hut erected behind his father's trading house. The clan name bestowed upon this boychild by his mother's relatives has not survived; however, his father memorialized a brother or uncle by naming him Medard. Chicago residents later made a double entendre of the name, calling this gracefully featured half-Ottawa boy Madore, meaning "love me!" Madore's first recollections of Chicago conjured up the charred remains of Fort Dearborn and the scattered bones of the massacre victims. He later claimed that this visit occurred when he was four, in 1813, but his recollection that old John Kinzie guided the Beaubien family through the ruins was surely mistaken. More likely the visit occurred in 1811. By 1813, Madore's mother, Mahnobunoqua, had been dead for at least two years, and harnessed with three small children, two of which probably had not yet been weaned, Jean Baptiste

sought an immediate replacement. He made a fortunate choice in Josette Laframboise, a Kinzie houseservant and part-Potawatomi daughter of Milwaukee trader Frarn;ois Laframboise. This happy partnership, which produced fourteen children and endured until Josette's death in 1854, solidified Beaubien's standing with the Potawatomi and Ottawa on both sides of Lake Michigan and linked him to a sizeable fur trading family whose members resided on Grand River and Mackinac Island in Michigan as well as at Milwaukee and later Chicago. Although a French Canadian and Kinzie's junior, Beaubien's prior success as a trader and his influential kin connections won him appointment as the American Fur Company's number one man at Chicago in 1817. But even though Beaubien 's credibility was bolstered by the simultaneous migration of the Laframboise clan from Milwaukee, he ultimately proved no more adept at curtailing the trade of the company's independent rival, John Crafts, than old John Kinzie. Finally, Astor, in a well-calculated move, bought out Crafts, turned the Chicago trade over to him, and demoted Beaubien to a secondary slot. The successful Easterner's ascendancy embarrassed both Beaubien and Kinzie. Upon Crafts's untimely death in 1825, Kinzie and Beaubien jointly represented the company on shares (Beaubien holding the lesser one-third), but by this time the dwindling wildlife about Chicago was hardly worth the effort. Kinzie began to look to government appointment through the recommendations of his Indian agent son-in-law, Yankee Alexander Wolcott. Mercifully, perhaps, old John Kinzie died in 1828, the same year that Astor sold the American Fur Company's Illinois interests to Gurdon S. Hubbard, company trader on the Wabash. These events signaled the waning importance of the fur trade at Chicago-the chief activity that had brought the community into being, organized its social relations, and provided the only livelihood most old settlers knew well how to pursue or to pass on to their sons.

Old John Kinzie spent his final months in the household and care of Jean Baptiste Beaubien and his wife Josette. This was as close to equality as the two traders from Detroit ever 107

Goodbye, Madore Beaubien came, and there is at least slight evidence that although of differing ethnic and religious background, these men respected one another. The physical proximity of the two families might have presented an opportunity for the development of similar ties between the leading males of the second generation, but in 1828 neither John Harris Kinzie nor Madore Beaubien resided in Chicago. Actually, the life courses of these scions were perpetually unsynchronized. Between 1816 and 1834, they spent only two years-1816 and 1817-in Chicago simultaneously. And in those years, Madore's childish prattle most likely annoyed rather than engaged John Harris, six years his senior. We may surmise, however, that a certain unspoken social relationship had grown up between the two young men. Madore's stepmother, Josette, had lived among the Kinzies as a servant and possibly as a nursemaid at a time when Kinzie wealth and prestige were at their zenith. John Harris's later attitude toward this part-Indian (or Metis) woman, whom he could have viewed alternatively as surrogate mother or Indian servant, probably determined his feelings about the part-Ottawa child Madore. Kinzie and Beaubien both received the usual advantages available to sons of traders of middling rank; but in their earliest educational and occupational experiences one can see discrepancies subtly reflective of their separate cultural and racial identities. First schooling occurred informally, and at home. In Kinzie's case, a spelling book shipped in a tea chest was all that his tutor-cousin Bob Forsyth had to work with. Beaubien probably learned to read and cipher from a family member; his older brother Charles later ran a school for the children of J.B. and Josette Beaubien. Yet, unlike Kinzie, whose Indian education was gleaned primarily from the guarded and often dissembling lips of Metis servants, Beaubien was enveloped in a rich cultural and linguistic tradition openly transmitted to him by his maternal kin. During the wartime exile of the Kinzie family, John Harris received several years of formal instruction at Detroit. His younger brother and sisters were likewise educated at Detroit or Middletown, Connecticut. When Madore's time 108

came, however, his father rejected a French Catholic training at Detroit for the new Protestant missionary establishment at Niles, Michigan, run by Isaac McCoy. This school, ostensibly begun for the benefit of Potawatomi and Ottawa children, primarily attracted their Metis relatives. Madore was a bright pupil; he spent only two years, 1823-24, at the mission. Yet the experience was to fix his identity as an "Indian boy." Ironically, of the two young men, it was Madore who was to receive the college education and Eastern connections most likely to win attention in the rapidly urbanizing milieu at Chicago after 1833. Between 1825 and 1828 he attended Hamilton College in upstate New York. His brother Charles was enrolled at Princeton. The fact seems to have been lost on Madore, however, that it was as "Indian boys" in a philanthropic experiment that McCoy's promising students were shipped to Eastern schools. He arrived back in Chicago in 1829 with aspirations to be a merchant, not an Indian trader like his father. John Harris Kinzie, meanwhile, was learning the mysteries of the Indian trade. The elder John Kinzie's reputation had been sufficient to secure his son an apprenticeship at the big house on Mackinac Island, the inner sanctum of the American Fur Company. Between 1818 and 1823, under the direction of Astor's stern, Presbyterian agent, Kinzie sorted, weighed, and priced skins. He also cut and carted wood, balanced accounts, made up trade assortments, mastered various Algonkian languages and the violin, and learned to manage Indian clients and Canadian employees. All this knowledge came too late, however, and Kinzie could see how the world was turning. Following his long apprenticeship, he spent only three years in the company's employ as clerk and then trader at Prairie du Chien. In 1826, Kinzie hitched himself to the rising political fortunes of Lewis Cass, governor of Michigan Territory and regional superintendent of Indian affairs. For the next three years, while part-Indian Madore affected Eastern airs, Anglo John Harris served as one of Cass's "Indian experts." He accompanied delegations to Washington, assisted at treaty negotiations, collected historical and cultural information

Goodbye, Madore Beaubien

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The first page of the Winnebago grammar prepared by John H. Kinzie while serving as Indian subagent in Wisconsin, 1826. From the collections. CHS, ICHi-14166.

for the superintendency, and compiled grammars and dictionaries. He gained particular familiarity with the Winnebago and in 1829, after Cass became secretary of war, Kinzie was appointed Indian subagent at Fort Winnebago. John Harris's commitment to Indian society was of a differeJ.J.t order from that of his father, however. In 1830 he married Juliette Magill of Middleton, Connecticut, the niece of his brother-in-law, Alexander Wolcott. Three years later, and with some regret on the part of the romance-struck Juliette who had come to regard the Winnebago as her "children," Kinzie resigned his Wisconsin post and struck out for civilization and Chicago. When John Harris Kinzie returned in 1833 to lay out lots in the Kinzie Addition in anticipation of a real estate boom, the city was already experiencing birth pangs. The several

years following incorporation were frivolous, heady, almost frantic. In this unsteady state, the paths of John Harris and Madore finally converged as the two temporarily functioned as culture brokers, interpreters between the old residents and the human deluge pouring in from the East. They were links to the past, thin pegs around which a giddy society whirled. But they were also trying out new roles and wrote permutations on old ones. Beaubien-at one moment the respectable citizen-invested in town lots, built a store on South Water Street, and acquired an American business partner from Pennsylvania, Valentine Boyer. In addition to sitting on the town's board of trustees for a year, he and his father and uncle organized Chicago's first Catholic church. And, in 1835, he married an Eastern seminary girl, his partner's impressionable eighteen-year-old sister, Mary Boyer. Beaubien also exploited his Indian savvy. In feathered headgear, whooping and hollering across the prairie after a pack of startled wolves, Madore captured the imagination of greenhorn Yankees. He was no doubt responsible for dubbing the dances that Chicago's respectable young men sponsored, "Grand Wabanos," after an all-night Potawatomi fire-handling display. Whether in feathers or black cravat, Madore Beaubien was, by all accounts, the "handsomest man in Chicago." And a devilish charmer. Kinzie lacked Madore's studied elegance and youthful panache. But his name, political connections, and seriousness won him respect. Elected town president upon his arrival in Chicago, he established a forwarding and commissioning business with his brother-in-law, David Hunter; organized an Episcopal church, for which he generously donated the property (as the Beaubiens had done for the Catholic church); and set to developing the Kinzie property on the north side. He had a lighter side, as well, and a shrewd understanding of the "at arms length" fashion in which Easterners liked to experience their Indian culture. An accomplished native dancer and mimic, Kinzie billed himself the star in the all-white Indian show which he and a group of Chicago lobbyists for the Canal Bill took to the state _capital in 1835. In that same year, a wedding took place in Chicago which newcomers of 1833-35 delighted 109

Goodbye, Madore Beaubien

Left: Horizontally striped white cotton dress printed in a green and mauve flower pattern, c. 1835. Right: Cream colored dress worn by Eloisa Peet for her marriage to pioneer settler Ira Millard in 1840. Gift of Mrs. Carrie Millard Stryker. CHS.

in recalling years later. It united Therese Laframboise, Metis cousin by marriage to Madore (and daughter of Joseph LaFramboise) with Thomas Watkins, the popular postal clerk and early schoolteacher. Watkins began by running off a few invitations, but the demand was so great that he finally invited the whole town. The affair drew together the disparate elements of the community and found Easterners painted, dressed and dancing like Indians, and reserved Metis women in black stroud and beaded leggings jigging with Irish laborers. It was the last gathering of its kind. Thereafter, the fluid, frontier characteristics of Chicago began to dissipate as the population swelled into the thousands. By 1837, cleavages in the social fabric were apparent. "No trespassing" signs had been posted at Hardscrabble, 110

and calling cards and private dances were beginning to replace the community-wide, comeone-come-all revelries of earlier years. On the north side, increasingly a Yankee preserve, the pretentious brick Lake House, the premiere first-class hotel in Chicago, rose in 1835, followed in 1837-38 by St. James Episcopal Cathedral. The Methodists, most of whom were unlettered Southerners, were "encouraged" to move their church building to the south side, alongside the Catholics. French-Indian families watched their Potawatomi relatives begin the sad trek to the western reservation and began to deliberate among themselves. The speculative insanity which had kept Chicagoans and their hopes aloft for four years collapsed in 1837. The crash shook out the thousands of hapless investors and left a widen-

Goodbye, Madore Beaubien ing chasm between rich and poor at Chicago. It also confirmed the growing separation between old settlers and new. John Harris Kinzie survived the panic, but much diminished. He was perhaps the natural choice for mayor in the year of Chicago's incorporation as a city, but the -election of 1837 went to a finan• cial heavyweight, New Yorker William B. Ogden, a recent arrival in town. Thereafter, Kinzie relied upon a series of patronage appointments from the Democracy such as Collector of Tolls (from the year of the Canal's completion to 1861) and Receiver of Public Monies (1849-1865). A mild and gentle man, whose name has been successfully bolstered by his wife's rosy portrait of the Kinzie family in her romantic history, Wau-bun, John Harris enjoyed a small local renown until his death in 1865. He helped to establish the Chicago Horticultural and the Chicago Historical societies and continued to entertain both visiting Indians and Eastern friends with his recollections. One gets the sense, however, that Chicago's new leaders trotted him out as their "old settler" and Indian expert more for amusement than enlightenment. Madore Beaubien was one of those people who, as the Indians said, was thrown away. By 1838, he was financially embarrassed and deeply in debt to John K. Boyer, the father of his one-time business partner. Another Boyer, his wife, abandoned him shortly thereafter, vanishing from the historical record with their two babies, George and Susan. These events evidently pained Madore deeply. By 1840 he had made a decision. In that year, he cast his fate with the United Band of Potawatomi, Ottawa, and Chippewa, settling at Council Bluffs and accepting employment as an interpreter. Most of the mixed-blood families at Chicago eventually took this route. Subsequently, Madore removed with the Potawatomi to their reserve in Kansas and in 1854 he married his cousin, the handsome widow Hardin, nee Therese LaFrambroise. By the 1860s, after the Citizen Band of Potawa tomi had elected to take up lands and citizenship, Madore founded a townsite at an oxbow in the Kansas River west of Topeka, on the road to California. Numerous other old settlers from Chicago and Milwaukee, long

forgotten in the towns of their birth, came to reside in the township surrounding this ford, euphemistically called "Silver Lake," and Madore was given the honor of election as the town's first mayor. Beaubien's letters and interviews given during a last visit to Chicago for an old settlers' meeting in 1882 hint at a guarded resentment against the city and civilization whose race prejudice discarded him, but he must have taken some small satisfaction in the knowledge that he had been a "big man" somewhere. It was perhaps more than John Harris, surrounded and overwhelmed by the progressive enterprise of white society which claimed him, could say.

Epilogue: A magical change had taken place at Chicago during the 1830s. Few mourned the disappearance of the town's old settlers or the destruction of the fur trade community. Quite to the contrary. By 1840, Joseph Balestier, spokesman for the Eastern newcomers and the author of The Annals of Chicago, could proudly proclaim: Capacious warehouses and commodious dwellings have taken the place of the 'log and bark houses, low, filthy , and disgusting'-'The miserable race of men' have been superseded by a population distinguished for its intelligence and enterprise; and all the comforts of our Eastern homes are gathered around us.

Selected Sources Beaubien Family, Kinzie Family, Madore Beaubien, John Harris Kinzie, Gurdon S. Hubbard , Alexander Wolcott, American Fur Company. Chicago Historical Society. Andreas, A. T. History of Chicago. 3 vols. Chicago, 1884-86. Beaubien , Frank G. "The Beaubiens of Chicago." Illinois Catholic Historical Review 2 (July 1919 and January 1920). Chicago Times. May 16, 1882 interview with Madore Beaubien. Fergus Historical Series, Nos. 1-20. Chicago: Fergus Printing Company, 1876-82. Gale, Edwin 0. Reminiscences of Early Chicago and Vicinity. Chicago: F. H . Revell , 1902. Hurlbut, H enry H. Chicago Antiquities. Chicago, 1881. Peterson, Jacqueline. "'Wild Chicago': The Formation and Destruction of a Multiracial Community on the Midwestern Frontier, 1816-1837 ." In The Ethnic Frontier: Essays in the History of Group Survival in Chicago and the Midwest, edited by Melvin G. Holli and Peter d'A. Jones. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977. MANUSCRIPT COLLECTIONS:


The Rise and Fall of Hiram Pearson: Mobility on the Urban Frontier By Craig Buettinger

ÂŤwe have been celebrating the passage of the Canal Bill for the 3 days and 2 nights- Property is fast advancing.'' Hiram Pearson in a letter to Arthur Bronson, January 76, 7835

FORTUNES IN EARLY Chicago rose and fell mercurially. After the city's founding, real estate increased rapidly in value to the benefit of those who acquired it. Shortly thereafter, however, the Panic of 1837 and the depression from 1839 to 1842 caused men to lose their lands. In 1841, William B. Ogden of Chicago wrote to a relocated friend that "those who were richest when you left are of the poorest now." He added, "Very few of the old stock of '36 are otherwise than deeply embarrassed," predicting that only Richard J. Hamilton, Walter L. Newberry, and himself would come through with their fortunes intact. Of all people in the past, the rich are usually the easiest to study. For they, unlike the lower and middling classes, are likely to have left behind letters, diaries, and business papers for the historian to examine. This is not true of Chicago's "stock of '36," for the Great Fire of 1871 had a democratizing effect upon the city's historical record. The incineration of personal papers by the Fire has left the rich of early Chicago just as anonymous as everyone else. Hiram Pearson was among the many to rise and fall. Pearson, however, is unique because more bits of information have survived about him than about others who shared the same fate. His finances can be reconstructed in some

Craig Buettinger, a graduate student at Northwestern University, is writing his dissertation on the accumulation of for tunes and distribution of wealth in early Chicago. His "Economic Inequality in Early Chicago, 1849-1850," appeared in the Journal of Social History, Spring 1978. 112

detail. Moreover, we can even glimpse Pearson's personality, his reactions to his sudden fortune and his equally sudden misfortune. The case of Hiram Pearson best exemplifies the experiences of the "stock of '36."

Hiram Pearson was born in 1811 in Hopkinton, New Hampshire. His father, Parker Pearson, served as one of the town selectmen in 1814 and again in 1815. But Pearson's origins were not distinguished, even by Hopkinton standards. When he left the town in 1832, Pearson, according to a fellow townsman, was "limited in both property and education." The destination of the twenty-one-year-old was Chicago, the new town laid out only two years earlier by the Illinois and Michigan Canal Commissioners. He applied himself to trades in a desultory way. At one time he was a dealer in cutlery, at another a house painter. In 1835 he purchased a 160-acre farm one mile north of the Chicago River (the tract was bounded by State, North, Sedgwick, and Division), but he never became an active farmer. Occupations did not hold his interest because of his preoccupation: land speculation. Land was the favorite object of speculation in America until the late nineteenth century, when it was surpassed by industrial securities. Land speculation was especially rife on the urban frontier. As a new town in the 1830s, Chicago fostered real estate ventures. Moreover, in 1835 the state of Illinois, after years of halfhearted effort, fully committed itself to con-

AUCTION This .ETenln:, Will be sold at Aaetlcm, at the Room of the subseribers,

40 - LOTS


Those wlsW.. to la,ret.t tlaelr moaey to great IMIF1udage, wllff)o w"J t MU tlak evening, at· hlf past 7 o'elee•• ·, -~ .._ ot 8aile easy. · GARBE'.rr, B.llOWN & BROTHER.

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Auctions like this one, held in 1836, fueled the real estate speculation that made and lost fortunes in Chicago during that period. CHS, ICHi-14152.

structing the Illinois and Michigan Canal. The promise of a canal, of which Chicago was to be the terminus, produced a land boom. Pearson extensively engaged in the buying and selling of Chicago land, as did Lieutenant Louis T. Jamison of the Fort Dearborn garrison, Archibald Clybourne, John S. Wright, and many other residents. Pearson's first venture involved a small lot on South Water Street, which he purchased in August 1832 and sold seven months later. The prices which he paid and received for the lot were doubtlessly not very high, for land values had not yet begun to soar. By the mid-1830s, when land values were inflated indeed, Pearson was engaged in the ambitious subdivision of large tracts. By the survey of blocks and lots and the grubbing and grading of streets, eighty acres on the west side became "Pearson's Addition" to Chicago

in July 1836. To the south, in January 1836, Pearson and Richard J. Hamilton laid out "Canalport," where the Illinois and Michigan Canal was to join the Chicago River. In the spring of 1837, Pearson was accepting bids for work on a projected "North Addition." A man was thought to do a poor business if he did not make one hundred percent profit on his investments in land, concluded the Chicago speculator Buckner S. Morris in 1835. Therefore, it made good sense to borrow money to expand one's speculations. In November 1835, Pearson received a loan of $5,000 from Arthur Bronson, a ew York City banker. Bronson, through William B. Ogden, loaned money to Chicagoans at twelve percent interest, payable semi-annually, with the principal due in five years. (Twelve percent was the legal limit in Illinois.) As security, Bronson required the 113

Hiram Pearson mortgage of real estate worth three times the amount of the loan. To get the $5,000, Pearson mortgaged his farm and three lots on Kinzie Street. Despite the liens on his lands, Pearson "was the lion of society, with his millions." He constructed an "imposing house" for himself. A pulpit in St. James Episcopal Church, which was "about as large as the church itself," was his gift. He was appropriately appointed city treasurer by the Democratic administration in 1837, and, despite his Democratic affiliation, by the Whig administration in 1838. When speaking of Pearson, the Chicago newspapers attached the honorific "esquire" to his name. Pearson returned to Hopkinton frequently in the 1830s and made certain its residents learned of his success. He "talked largely upon the subject of exchanges, drafts, bills of exchange, bank facilities, tc, tc, induced all his connections, father, brother, and brother-inlaw, in this town to sell their property and remove to Chicago and live upon his inexhaustible wealth." Indeed, in the 1830s many young men moved from Hopkinton to Chicago, where riches seemingly awaited.

Pearson, of course, counted on selling lands to pay his debts and other expenses. But in the financial crisis of the late 1830s, lands in Chicago would not sell. To meet his obligations, Pearson borrowed more. In 1837 and 1838, he received large loans from Strachan and Scott of Chicago ($6,500), Hubbard and Carrington of Chicago (amount unknown), Arthur Bronson ($8,000), the State Bank of Illinois (amount unknown), the Cook County School Commissioner ($6,946), and Samuel F. Smith of Philadelphia ($1,000). Each time he borrowed, he mortgaged more property. His lands thus became thoroughly encumbered. When the market for lands failed to revive in time, he missed payment after payment on his loans and faced loss of all his property through foreclosures. Other Chicago speculators acted the same as Pearson when the i837 Panic struck, and fell into the same predicament. By 1840, Pearson's creditors anticipated foreclosure and forced him to execute a "trust deed" placing all his lands in the hands of 114


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Abstract Title to Lots 5, 6, 7, & 8 of the Beaubien Addition to Chicago from the Jean Baptiste Beaubien Papers in the Society's collections. CHS.

John S. Wheeler, his brother-in-law. The purpose of the transfer was to prevent Pearson from in any way compromising the claims of his creditors. Nevertheless, he did . He removed his house from land mortgaged to Bronson, and stripped wood from land mortgaged to the school fund. He also sold three lots to Walter L. Newberry without informing him that Bronson held a mortgage on them. Ogden, Bronson's agent, grasped for terms to express his vexation at such behavior. Pearson, he concluded, "has been a perfect vagabond + looks like the worst species of midnight assassin." Bronson and Ogden were even more infuriated by Pearson's lobby in the Illinois legislature for a "valuation law," the effect of which would be to stop foreclosure proceedings. Under the law, the circuit court, before it

Hiram Pearson

sold mortgaged land to satisfy the claim of a creditor, would select three householders from the proper county to assess its value. When auctioned, the land, unless two-thirds of the valuation were bid, would not be struck off. The law would keep mortgaged lands in the hands of the debtors because sympathetic householders would set high values, and, in the hard times, the requisite two-thirds bid would never be made. Several states enacted valuation laws in the Panic. The proposed Illinois measure was modeled on those already passed by Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Mississippi. ot since the work of John Bach McMaster and Charles Warren have these acts received much attention from historians of the Jacksonian era. However, the laws need to be reconsidered as the mortgagors' response to the hard times.

Pearson encountered Bronson in Chicago in the summer of 1840. The debtor notified the creditor of his determination to secure a valuation law, and arrogantly, as Bronson recalled, "invited my opposition to the passage of such a law, remarking that he would consider that as sufficient to insure its success." Bronson vowed to oppose Pearson, not in the Illinois legislature, but in the Supreme Court of the United States. "An Act Regulating the Sale of Property" in the manner desired by Pearson became the law in Illinois on February 27, 1841. The act passed the General Assembly, which the Democrats controlled, by a partisan vote. Ebenezer Peck, Chicago's delegate and, like Pearson, a man of many mortgages, supported the measure. Moreover, on January 6, 1843, the law was superseded by another of the same name 115

Hiram Pearson

Gurdon S. Hubbard (1802-1886) succeeded in several businesses in Chicago, including meatpacking , insurance, and real estate. He also represented Cook County in the Illinois Legislature. CHS, ICHi-10771.

William B. Ogden (1805-1877) came to Chicago in 1835 and made a fortune in real estate. He was elected Chicago's first mayor in 1837. Oil painting by G. P.A. Healy, 1855. From the collections. CHS, ICHi-11945.

which was even more protective of mortgagors. It authorized that householders be paid twentyfive cents each if their appraisals were under one hundred dollars, and fifty cents if over. Bronson, the moment he heard of the passage of the act in l 841, filed several bills of foreclosure in the circuit court to test its constitutionality. With Isaac N. Arnold of Chicago arguing for the banker, the issue did come before the Supreme Court and Bronson's case was upheld. On February 23, 1843, the judges struck down the Illinois law as impairing the obligation of contracts. The decision scuttled the valuation law movement in the various states. From Washington, Bronson dispatched a letter to Pearson, lecturing the rebellious debtor on the error of his ways. He hoped that Pearson would "see and acknowledge the impolicy, to say nothing about the injustice, of all such legislative devices, the certain effects of which, in this and all other countries, are to prolong suffering, increase the intensity of distress, corrupt the morals, and produce anarchy." Soon, the courts auctioned Pearson's mort-

gaged lands, as well as those of Jamison, Clyboume, Wright, and other Chicago speculators. Circumstances forced Bronson and other creditors, to their dismay, to be the purchasers. The lands did not bring bids equivalent to the value of the loans, and to protect their investments they had to buy the lands and wait for land values to rise again. Eventually, Pearson's farm became "Bronson's Addition."


When his fortune was gone, Hiram Pearson, with little delay, began to buy land anew. The sale of canal lots on liberal terms in October 1843 afforded him the opportunity. "All the bankrupts in town are active purchasers," Walter L. Newberry sarcastically observed to Arthur Bronson, "our old friend Pearson is among the foremost." In 1850, however, Pearson moved to San Francisco, then a boom town such as Chicago had been in 1832. He knew that to build a fortune men with few funds must seek the advantage of an early presence. The move proved to be a wise one. Pearson came into

Hiram Pearson

"View of Chicago from the West," from the Western Citizen, August 26, 1842. CHS, ICHi-14077.

possession of a large land grant, which made him wealthy once more. His fortune renewed, Pearson became the social lion again. In 1856 he toured Europe to visit the centers of culture. While there he caused several incidents, for the self-made Yankee was not much awed by old world aristocrats. After all, how many of them had the moxie to make and then remake their fortune on the urban frontier? In Vienna, he took offense when the Archduke Charles objected to his admission to the government buildings. Before the difficulty was settled, Pearson had challenged the Archduke to a duel. Later, in Rome Pearson again demonstrated his hard-won self-esteem. The Weekly Chicago Democrat reported: COL. HIRAM PEARSON AGAIN We gave you an account a short time since of the flare up between Col. Hiram Pearson of this city who is travelling in Europe, and the Arch Duke Charles of Austria, in which the Colonel challenged the Duke. We now have news of another little fracus in which the Col. has figured. The Rome correspondent of the New York Evening Post says Colonel Hiram Pearson, of Chicago,

has been fined one thousand piasters for seating himself on the throne of the Pope.

Ambitious investments in real estate brought fortune in early Chicago. Too many untimely mortgages brought misfortune. Many men experienced both. No one, however, rose or fell further than Hiram Pearson. Selected Sources Arthur Bronson Papers, William B. Ogden Letterbooks, Mrs. J. Y. Sanger Reminiscences, Hiram Clement Wheeler Reminiscences. CHS. NEWSPAPERS: Chicago Democrat, Chicago American. Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Twelfth General Assembly (Springfield, 1841). Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Thirteenth General Assembly (Springfield, 1843). Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Supreme Court of the United States, January Term, 1843 (Philadelphia, 1843). Arnold, Isaac Newton. Argument Before the United States Supreme Court (n.p., 1843). Lord, C.C. Life and Times in Hopkinton, New Hampshire (Concord, New Hampshire, 1890). McMaster, John Bach. A History of the People of the United States, Vol. 7. New York: Appleton, 19IO. Warren, Charles. Bankruptcy in United States History. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1935. MANUSCRIPTS:


Renovating the Society's Fort Dearborn Exhibit By Carole Krucoff

is a reference point in Chicago's history. A frontier outpost on the edge of the wilderness, it represents the city's origins. As such, it has been a source of fascination for generations of Chicagoans, each interested in different aspects of its history. The Chicago Historical Society has both shaped and reflected the city's interest in Fort Dearborn. The fort still stood as a crumbling ruin when the Society was established in 1856. John H. Kinzie, a founding member, had lived through every phase of the fort's lifespan. Librarian William Barry and other members of the Society set about collecting the reminiscences of people like Kinzie, asking them to give speeches that were printed and then placed in the library collection. The first mention of an exhibit on Fort Dearborn appeared in the 1880s, when the Society displayed, among other things, a painting of the fort that had been rescued from its place of prominence on the wall in a local tavern. Some twenty years later this was followed by an exhibit featuring a variety of relics, including the supposed remains of Jean Lalime, a Fort Dearborn resident whose death at the hands of another settler was considered to have been Chicago's first homicide. In 1932, when the Society moved from cramped quarters. to its present location in Lincoln Park, there was space to install a major exhibit on Fort Dearborn. Logs from the actual fort were used, creating a fac;:ade that resembled a military blockhouse. Narrow doorways, scaled to the fort's dimensions, led to a display that reflected a prevailing interest in military history. Weapons and military equipment were featured, since the focal point of the exhibit was the tragic event that has come to be labeled the Fort Dearborn Massacre. FORT DEARBORN

Carole Krucoff, Education and Public Programs Associate at the Chicago Historical Society, is coordinating the renovation of the Fort Dearborn exhibit. 118

Since 1932, countless v1s1 tors have seen our Fort Dearborn exhibit. But some have never been able to enter, since the narrow doorways denied access to wheelchairs. To make this important museum experience available to everyone, the Society recently sought and obtained financial support from the Community Development Program of the City of Chicago. Renovation has begun and we will soon be opening a more accessible and expanded exhibit. Structural renovation of the Fort Dearborn exhibit gave us the opportunity to think about other changes we might like to make in our interpretation of Chicago's early years. Recent scholarship has yielded new information and ideas that have enlarged the scope of the material to be covered. Several approaches appealed to us: Fort Dearborn as part of the larger story of America's westward expansion; the impact of the fur trade on both Indians and settlers; and the events of daily life in a frontier community. We knew that our collections contained artifacts to document some of these ideas. We suspected that hidden treasures awaited us if we were willing to search for them. By the fall of 1979 the search was on, with nearly every member of our curatorial and education staff involved. Some tasks were easier than others. Curators, when asked to document the experiences of Chicago-area Indians, immediately produced the daguerreotype shown on the cover of this issue of the magazine. Other special finds came from the manuscript collection, including poignant letters written by people of mixed ancestry who were struggling to make their way in two different worlds. Aspects of daily life were also easy to document. Discoveries include the letters of fur trader Gurdon S. Hubbard, who described a winter so severe that all he had to eat was "corn and grease." And artifacts already on display also lent themselves to new interpretation. For example, a silver ladle formerly displayed only as a relic "belonging to the

A Fort Dearborn exhibit in the Society's home at Dearborn and Ontario, 1906. The cathedral-like case in the foreground allegedly contained the bones of John Lalime, Chicago's first homicide. CHS, ICHi-14171.

Heald family" turned out to be a wedding gift that the young bride of the fort's commander hoped might lend a touch of elegance to her life in the wilderness. Since an exhibit needs to tell a story with objects rather than with text, some ideas seemed difficult, if not impossible, to convey. ,ve had hoped to interpret the Fort Dearborn Massacre as part of a larger struggle that involved the entire nation-the War of 1812. But no artifacts appeared, and we were about to give up, when suddenly we were rewarded for hour after hour of tedious research. Paging through an old folder of newspapers from 1812, we came across a Bucks County, Pennsylvania, headline that read "Events of the War." The next line proclaimed "Capture of Fort Chicago," and the accompanying article was an eyewitness account of the disaster, written by Nathan Heald, the selfsame commander who had surrendered the fort! There were some disappointments. I\Iaterial in the Society's archives made us aware of items that no longer exist because they were

destroyed in the Great Fire of 1871. Some articles of clothing were too fragile for continuing display. But one surprise made up for every disappointment. Unasked, unannounced, a visitor recently appeared at our door to declare that she was a descendant of Mark Beaubien (the early settler pictured on the back cover of this issue). Our visitor then went on to say that she had decided to offer us a family heirloom: the colorful Frenchman's legendary fiddle. With the arrival of this treasure, selection of artifacts for the new Fort Dearborn exhibit came to an end. Now designers and preparators are at work, creating a visually exciting setting for what we feel are our most significant and interesting reminders of Chicago's early years. Yet it seems safe to say that some future exhibit will present other artifacts and interpretations. Seeking answers to different questions, our successors will make new discoveries, and the Society will find itself once again renovating the Fort Dearborn exhibit to. meet the needs and interests of a new generation of visitors. 119


ORDH-iANCE for die GOVERNMENT of RY of the UNlTED STATES, North-Weft




Omo. IT ORDAINJ'D by th• United States in Co,gref, all'i!111bled, Thll the faid tenitory, for tlle putpoCes of 1"11,,.,.' BF1uf govertun\!nr. o~t d1nria; fubjcd, however, to b.:.divi4&:d ia10 nyod11tr,as,. as buvre 0110,mfl&oces man


i:t thi: oprn)Qn of C•n,s:refs, mak~ u e•r,odi.enr. .. Be it ordained by th< authorhy afore aid, Thar 1heef\&1<s both ofrefideot and noo-reiident proptietOn in the faicl ter• rifory,,qy111g inte~•••• lllall dcfcend 10, and be d1llribu11d ,, •hiirchildren, and tbc dd'ccod&nu of• dcteaftd child in •qua! parts; the defcenduts of• dcceafed child or grand-child, 10 take the Illa.«,,£ their dc:ce.fod parent io equal par11 among ,ham : i\ndwhercthero fhall oochildreo ordefcendaou, rJ,tntn "'lual pan• to tho.oat of It.lo, io equal <iegree I and amon~ coll2ttuls tbo cflildrc,1 of a deceafcd. brother or lil\es of ,he inrcibtc., ~Jl11&Te io equtl parn amo11g thtlll 1 thm<l:ceafd !llare1 and,hcre1h1ll iu ao caf~ be a qi1\inttion be1w,.n Jw,<!(ed of the whole and hall.:;:;ad~.• \'ing In all -cafes to the widow of\he iiaeftatc, ~ei third of the real cfhtc for life,;and ooe thir4 pan ol ., sefh~; and thi, 13.w r~ladveto defcents and dowa, fha I remaia in fuU fottt •n•th,H:nt'd by- 'tht ltgiOalUIG of the diftr1~t. ---And until the governor and judges O.all adopt laws as herein tlftcr m~ntioncd, eJl1Ucs m the raid 1enho1y m.iy b:! rlevired or beci.ueath.:d by wills in writing, ligncd and fe~l.!d by him or her, in whom the el\atc 11Jay ~, (bcir.g of full age) aod a1re1lad by 1hree wi1odr« 1 - aoc real eflates may be conveyed by leafc and releafe, or baigain •rul fal!, ligned, f:aled, and dcli\•er~d by the pcrfo.1 being of full age, in whom the e1h,te naay be, and au,d\ed by two wit-. actr.s, provided Cuch wills be duly provtd, and Cuch conveyances be acknowledged, or the esecution thereof iulyl"ovcd. and be recorde:i within one year after proper migiftrates, tourts, and reeillenthaJJ be appoinrcd for that puq;o(c J an.1 }1:!:-fooal frcperty rnJ.y ht trlnsr-!'rrc:d by delivery, faving, however, to thi: Fr~11ch and Canadian i.nh1biranu. and o:h~r fettlen ot 1he K-a<tku:<.ic:s, S;iint Vinctot's, and tht n1:ighbouring villages, who have heretofore proftfTcd lht~fdves chil:ns of Virgi::iia, their law, and cufi.oms now in force &mon&: them, ,dative to tbe dcfccot 1U1d coo.vtyiittlce: oJ pro-



ordained by the authority aforofaid, Thll there lhul be appoiat:d ftomtime ro 111M, by Congref1, • govcsnor, whore coroniilli•n tballcootiQuc in f01oc for the 1cr01of three yearr; 1111ltf1 roooer t,,voked I>)' O,ng refs; he O.all ttlido ln rh.e diftri6:, and have t. freehold rh1:rein, in ooe thoufuu:l acres of land, while in rbe txe1c1fe'Of his office.

Th.:u Oa•II be apµoinred from time ro time, by Cong ref1, a fecr~wy, whofe commiffion Oaa.U tt>ntinue in force for foor yeart, unl,fs Cooner r~•ol<cd. he llaall 1efide io the difi1ill, ehd have a freehold ellue thercig, in five huodrod acre, ofl,nd, whib in the esetcife o( his office; it !hall be !us Jury I(! keop 1'1d prefetve 1he atu aad l•w• paired liy the legifi,tut~, ana th~ pub1rc re<'6ldi of the diftricl, and rheproceedlog, of Iii• aovtrnor ia his e11ecw1ive depart111~n1; and , tranfo1it aurh,nric copies o! fueh acls and ptoeced1ngs, c\"ery !ix mooths, ro 1be fecrtrary of Con,n,fs 1 'l"h,re Jloall alTo be appointed a cout1 10 con fill of three jud~es, any two of whom to form a court, who lhaU Mlle • co'""''"' law ju- , rillllalon, and relide in th,: diflricl, and have each therein a freehold iJhtoi, five hundred acres of land, "While in tbe u~fe of their offices; and 11,,:ir c0111miffioos fhal! conw.ue ia force duri,11 cood behaviour, The governor and jvdg,:,. or a majority of them, Oiall adopt and pubhAI in the difttifr, (ouch law, of if>• ori&inal ftafu, crimin.l,il,. .. Mf b< neceltary, and beJI fuitod to rhe c1Kuaftuces of tlos ~ . #Nln,oll t6 Co1,g1.fs, fw,u ti11 . .,-tOtiffl'!) ...,f-1r" f:1w> tt.u t,.:; 6M r\,14~ .iu ,t.c '1Ultla Uutil di .. 01gmt .. ,nlon of rh" ocncral .trnnbly therein., uoloC1diCapproved of bJ Cott¢, 1 but afienvudt the lqill11<11a lhaJl 1-ve uithori1y "'..t,er i£esn u 1her Guill 1hl•k 61. The govtrnor for rho time being, 1h1R be coh>inabda in chiefIJf the rnifitia, appoint and commiftilm .it oftietn ia the fame, be.low th• rank of general officers I all ceneniJ officers n.all b. . p~ori,d and commiff.onecl by Conare/1, PT,viou, to the orgaoihtion of the gener.l all'esobly.!. the govesoor fhall appoint Cuch magitlrates and other civil of• ficers, in each county or rownfliip, u htO.all fuuf necelfary for the ,Pttfernrion of the peace arul good order in the fan,e: After the c•nera>I aRembly Chall be orgaoi7.ed, the powers ud dunesofruagiJln.tes and othercovil 1>ffic;en61ll be'regu. Jared atld de~ned by llle'faid a6embly ; but all magiArua and other civil officert, aoc ha-eia otherwife diN(l•d, flwJ. duriog the ,onrl,1i.anceof1bis temporary CoYffi'tDCDt, be appointed by IMloY<l'Dor. For 1hepreventi,on of crime, and injuriu, the latn to be adopted Of made 0.allhave Fottein allpan1 ofthediAri8,aad for the necurion ofproceft, criminal aod civil, the fhall 111ake1>"""' diviGP•• rh,;rsf--aad he lhU pr<K..-d from t,ime to ti-, •• Gircumftance• may •~uire, ro outlh, para oi 1M di"'""in wbicb ,he la4ian tid~ W bee• dtlntllialed, Into counties ~•d toinllupt; C,q hotJn-er, 10 fvcb dmariqas as -Y 1loereaf1•r be by the lecillaium So foon asthere O.allbe &,,e thoufaad &et male ialw,lru'ts, of full ate, la r\.c diftri1':, upon givir,w proof theroo{ to the governor, tbey recei.e autborir'f, with tiaoe ud place, to clctt ftf)rd'enra•i,,.. fioro their countin or town11aips, tlO nprefftll rhe,11 in,~. reneral all'enibly ; provided 1h11 for every fin lntodn:d free .,.k ichabitonl5 du.-r• Jh.JI be one rep,ofetuati,e, and Coon prorrdvely with the number of frte male Inhabitants, lhall the ri11ht of repref.11111i<,,1 lnacafe, u11til the number of repreteatariTet lhall amount 10 twenty-five, afrer which the Dumber ancl proportion of rcprwfentari.,.. GiaU be regulated by the ~--iflatun, ; pro,ided that •o perfoo be elieible or qualified to atl u a reprr• fentatin, unlefshe lhall have~• c111ten of one of the United Stales three years and be a rdidtnt in tho dit\ria, or unlef, he Illa.II have relided in the ~in rill three years, and in either cafe fb.U likewife hold in hi, own ri&hr, in fe• f,,-1~. r:wo hundred acre, of land within the fame :.._-Pruvided alfo, that a freehold ia 6fty acm of land ia tho ditlrnt,





A first printing of the Northwest Ordinance, 1787. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Tieken CHS, ICHi-14186. .



The Society Acquisition of a First Printing of the Northwest Ordinance I dou~t whether one single law of any law-giver) ancient or modern) has produced effects of a more distinct) marked) and lasting character. ))


Daniel Webster

of Americana, Thomas W. Streeter, in 1951 organized a private exhibit of some of the most important material in his library. Appropriately, he called it AMERICANA-BEGINNINGS, for it included a number of pieces that were not only important firsts to the antiquarian or bookman, but that also signaled the beginnings of a number of important phases of American history. One of the documents on display was the first printing of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Although somewhat insignificant in appearance, the Northwest Ordinance is anything but insignificant historically. It was developed by the Continental Congress as a way of giving order and political direction to the process by which the vast areas of unsettled lands in the ,vest might join the United States as equals. In addition to establishing a basic political and military structure for the governance of these new lands in the West, the Ordinance broke new ground in its advocacy of public education, asserting that "knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged." The ordinance also clearly went beyond the ambiguity of the Declaration of Independence on the subject of slavery, stating simply "there shall be neither slavery or involuntary servitude in the said territory." What is amazing to note, even after almost two hundred years, is the boldness and clarity with which the Continental Congress was willing to address the challenge of settling the large, almost vacant territory north of the Ohio River. Just as amazing is the degree to which the states in the new federation were willing to yield equality to new states less than a decade after fighting a war of independence to secure political dominance for themselves.


This crucial document-perhaps even more so than the Constitution which followed it by two years--expressed both the broad vision and the desire for order of the founding generation in a way that would structure the American experiment in self-government during the nineteenth century. This was recognized by Daniel Webster when he wrote, "I doubt whether one single law of any law-giver, ancient or modern, has produced effects of a more distinct, marked, and lasting character than the Ordinance of 1787." Streeter, then, was quite right in including the Northwest Ordinance in his exhibit of AMERICANA-BEGINNINGS since it truly provided the basic architecture for a whole series of new beginnings in the West that would expand and then transform the American experience. One of these new beginnings is the subject of this issue of Chicago History. Closely following the Ordinance in time was the Treaty of Greenville of 1795, by which a large tract of Indian land-including the future site of Chicago-was ceded to the United States, and the Northwest Territory greatly enlarged. The Territory (and subsequently the state of Illinois) was one of the first to follow the processes prescribed by the Ordinance. We who are citizens of Illinois and Chicago today are then the beneficiaries of the structured vision of the Ordinance. I am delighted to announce that, thanks to the generous gift of the Society's President Theodore Tieken and his wife, Elizabeth Babson Tieken, Mr. Streeter's copy of the orthwest Ordinance is now in the collections of the Historical Society. We are proud to announce its acquisition in this special issue on frontier Chicago. Harold K. Skramstad, Jr. Director 121

Manuscript Sources on Frontier Chicago By Archie Motley

on the history of Chicago from the establishment of the first Fort Dearborn in 1803 through 1840, when the city's population numbered some 4,500, are not voluminous, but they include very useful materials on military affairs, economic and social conditions, and Indian-white relations. Although this bibliographic essay is not intended to be exhaustive, it offers an overview of these materials with special reference to those on deposit at the Chicago Historical Society. Because of Chicago's early development as a military and trading outpost, pertinent source materials may be found at a number of repositories outside Chicago, particularly the National Archives in Washington, D.C., the State Historical Society of Wisconsin in Madison, and the Burton Historical Collection in the Detroit Public Library. These collections document the activities of army officers and traders stationed at Detroit, Michilimackinac (Mackinac), and other settlements on the northwest frontier and are invaluable for the historian seeking to place Chicago in a regional and national perspective in the early nineteenth century. A few of the most significant pieces in these repositories are mentioned in the following summary, which is arranged, as far as possible, in broad topical categories. Readers should note that materials cited on a given topic, such as military or business papers, are often also relevant to social conditions and other aspects of life in the Chicago area. THE EXTANT MANUSCRIPT SOURCES

The Army and Fort Dearborn The Society's collection of military papers concerning Fort Dearborn yields choice materials. Among the highlights are Lt. James S. Swearingen's diary (original in the Ross County, Ohio, Historical Society) covering his 362-mile journey with a military troop from Detroit to an August 17, 1803, encampment on the Chicago River "where the Garrison [Fort Dearborn] is intended to be built"; a copy of Captain John Whistler's plan of Fort Dearborn, drawn in 1808 (original in the National Archives, Washington, D.C.); the papers of Col. Jacob Kingsbury, commandant at Fort Detroit, which contain valuable letters (chiefly 1810-12) from John Whistler, Nathan Heald, Linai T. Helm, and other officers on military conditions and personal relations and conflicts at the fort.

Archie Motley is Curator of Manuscripts at the Chicago Historical Society. 122

Numerous reports on men and provJSJons at the fort along with inspection returns and informative muster rolls are also present, as is Dr. Phillip Maxwell's Prescription and Diet Book of the Sick and Wounded at Fort Dearborn, 1832-36; the diary of Pvt. Frederick Myers, 1832-33; and random letters of individuals at the fort. Of special interest is the June 11, 1823, letter from Gen. Lewis Cass, governor of the Northwest Territory, to Secretary of War John C. Calhoun in strong opposition to the removal of troops from the fort. Cass protested, "Its evacuation will give a death blow to all hopes of settling that part of Illinois." The Draper Collection ("T" Series, vols. l and 4; "U" Series, vol. 8; "YY" Series, vols. 9 and 13) in the State Historical Society of Wisconsin also contains many outstanding manuscripts regarding life at the fort and related military affairs. The Fur Trade Chicago's earliest business history centered around the fur trade, and we are fortunate to have some record of the traders who made a wide variety of goods available to Chicago's pioneer settlers and the Indians living in the area. The American Fur Company manuscripts preserved at the Chicago Historical Society include a highly informative lot of letters (originals and transcripts) of Ramsay Crooks and Robert Stuart to Chicago traders and Indian agents as well as to John Jacob Astor (head of the company), Lewis Cass, and John C. Calhoun, 1817-26. The Society also possesses an 1821-22 account book from the company's base at Michilimackinac that lists accounts with Jean Baptiste Beaubien, James Kinzie, and other early Chicagoarea fur traders; transcripts of the names in John Kinzie's 1803-22 fur trade account books (the originals of which, as was the case with many other valuable records, were lost in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871); and letters and accounts received by David and Bernardus Laughton, who traded in the Chicago area from 1830 to 1834. The papers of Gurdon S. Hubbard, who became one of Chicago's greatest business and civic leaders, are an especially valuable lot-his early letters to family members back East being most useful in their references to the operations and personnel of the American Fur Company. The "Records of the Office of Indian Trade 1795-1824" in the records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (Record Group 75) in the National Archives are a most important resource in this area of commercial and social history-and so, again, is the

This letter (or manuscript copy) , dated September 1, 1683, is the oldest Chicago-related item in the Society 's manuscript collections. It was written from "Checagou," by Robert Cavelier de LaS<1lle to his friends at Fort St. Louis (near present-day Peoria, Illinois), commenting on affairs at the fort . The Society purchased this item at an auction in Montreal in 1895. CHS.


Manuscript Sources

This travel journal, kept by Lemuel Bryant of Massachusetts, records his trip in the spring and summer of 1832 through the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana, to Chicago. Purchased from Howard Stock, 1963. CHS.

Draper Collection at Wisconsin (particularly the " S" series, vols. 21 and 23, and the "U " series, vol. 24).

Indian Affairs Manuscript sources on Chicago-area Indians range from official records of government agencies specifically involved in commercial and governmental relations with Indians-including the military-to the letters and diaries of Chicago-area traders and pioneers in which they express their personal views on the Indians and their treatment by settlers, the military, and the American government. A number of the Fort Dearborn and fur trade materials mentioned above are highly pertinent to the study of Chicago's Indian groups. The important role of Indians of mixed blood in early Chicago is well documented in these records, and in a scattering of letters by Billy Caldwell, or "Sauganash" (his Indian name) and Chief Alexander Robinson, both of whom were successful merchants and leading figures in the government's treaty negotiations with the various Indian tribes in the 124

I 820s and 1830s. A statement of the situation faced by such men in light of their participation in both white and Indian societies is found in Caldwell's letter of March 17, 1834, to his brother Fra ncis, in which he wrote of his role in the r emoval of Ind ians from the Chicago area in accord with the treaty of 1833: I am perfectly easy in mind about those faults [false) reports aga inst me-I told you all, that I would not be a political Indian, any more than what would be a benefit to my red Brethren-that is to take them over the Mississippi in order to draw them from the sins of destruction (say the habits of the whites intemperance) ... . The correspondence of Indian agent and physician Dr. Alexander Wolcott, Jr., with his family in the East in the 1820s describes the hardships of his life as an Indian trader and the Indians in general, while the detailed diaries kept by Rev. Jeremiah Porter at Mackinac during the 1830s contain considerable reference to the Indians in

Manuscript Sources and around Chicago. Porter later settled in Chicago, where he founded the First Presbyterian Church. A major collection of muster rolls, orders, and military correspondence concerning the last fullscale Indian War in Illinois-the Black Hawk War of 1832-is to be found in the Illinois State Historical Library. A number of these materials are pertinent to the Chicago area as are various manuscripts in the Burton Historical Collection of the Detroit Public Library and in the collections of the Chicago Historical Society, the National Archives, and other repositories. Three series in Record Group 75 (Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs) in the National Archives are essential to a study of Indian relations in the Chicago area: "General Correspondence and Other Records of the Bureau 1801-1839," "Records Relating to Indian Removal 1817-1906," and the "Records of the Office of Indian Trade 17951824." Documentation on the 1833 Treaty with the Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi Indians, signed in September 1833, whereby the Potawatomi relinquished all their remaining Illinois land from Lake Michigan westward to the Rock River and as far north as Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin, is found in Record Group 11 (General Records of the United States Government) in the "Treaties with Indian Tribes and Related Papers 1778-1883" series in the National Archives. This record series also contains the August 29, 1821, treaty signed at Chicago, whereby the Potawatomis ceded to the U .S. government all their lands in southwestern Michigan along with territory in northern Indiana. A final testimony of these events is the signed agreement, dated July 4, 1837 (CHS collection), between Ebenezer S. Sibley for the U.S. Army and Christian B. Dodson, who was contracted to transport the Potawatomi to lands west of the Mississippi River. Commercial Growth Chicago's emergence as a modern commercial city began in 1830 with the platting of the region at the mouth of the Chicago River by James Thompson, a surveyor hired by the commissioners of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. The idea of building a waterway through the Chicago Portage had been considered by state officials for some years, and the prospects for its imminent construction attracted thousands of new residents, many of whom speculated in real estate. Construction of the canal began on July 4, 1836, and continued until 1848, during which time the project formed a major focal point of the local economy. The proposed canal was an ambitious venture even from the most optimistic standpoint-and, coupled with the nationwide financial turbulence of the late 1830s, made Chicago's early business history a lively- if not downright tumultuous-one indeed.

Although Thompson's original plat has not, to date, been located, the Society owns an authenticated manuscript copy made in 1837 as well as copies of several important printed maps published in the 1830s. The major collection of canal records is found in Record Group 491 in the Illinois State Archives in Springfield. Other useful materials are contained in the papers of William B. Ogden (Chicago's first mayor and leading real estate and railroad speculator), Arthur Bronson (a New York City land speculator), and William Swift (president of the canal's board of trustees) on deposit at the Society. The Ogden and Bronson collections are indispensable for the study of the city's real estate development during the 1830s. Both collections are particularly valuable for their documentation of Eastern capital investment in Chicago property and the real estate ventures of many prominent early Chicagoans. Gurdon S. Hubbard's correspondence during the 1830s with Bronson and other Eastern land speculators is a gold mine of information on real estate investment and other business opportunities in the city, revealing an expansion of business interests typical of other Chicago business leaders of the period. The variom records found in the U.S. General Land Office Records for Illinois (Record Group 952 in the Illinois State Archives) are also of prime importance in tracing land ownership and transfer in the Chicago area, as are the reconstructed land records on file at the Chicago Title and Trust Company. Account books containing entries for transactions involving many of the city's early residents are essential to an understanding of the daily lives of frontier Chicagoans, and the Society has preserved a number of these documents. The account books (1831-38) of the storage, forwarding, and commission business of Oliver Newberry and George Washington Dole (Newberry & Dole), sutlers to Fort Dearborn, are an excellent resource, as are an 1831-33 account book of Philo Carpenter (druggist, educator, and religious leader), whose store dispensed drugs, medical equipment, clothing, food staples, and hardware; and the account books of Charles L., Elijah D., and Isaac D. Harmon from their dry goods, grocery, and hardware business in Chicago and Naperville.

Social Life and Culture The study of social life in early Chicago might well begin with an examination of the most basic of all sources: lists, registers, and other records that contain the names of those who settled this frontier community. Population data on Chicago through 1840 is available in the U.S. Federal Census on microfilm for 1840, and in the Illinois State Census records for 1835 and 1840 (Record Series 103.5 and 103.6) in the Illinois State¡ Archives. The Society's collection includes an alphabetical list of 125

Manuscript Sources



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Tax a_ssessment roll for 1825, listing citizens living in the Ch icago Precinct, Peoria County, lllinors, when Chicago was part of that county . Copied from election returns for Peoria County. CHS.


Manuscript Sources persons paying taxes in Peoria County (when Chicago was part of that county), noting their places of residence, property valuation, and taxes paid in 1825; William H. Clarke's listing of residents of Cook County, 1833-38; and the records of two successive Chicago Old Settlers' societies (1855-1903), which provide biographical sketches of pioneer residents and information on the dates of their arrival in the city. Early cultural, social, and religious institutions are documented in a number of small collections and individual items. The account and subscription books (1833-41) kept by John Calhoun, publisher of the Chicago Democrat, the city's first newspaper, and an 1837-41 general expense account book of the Chicago American are of considerable value. Materials on the city's early religious institutions include the minute book of the Sunday School of the First Presbyterian Church in Chicago, 1834-38; a notebook of sermons and other information owned by the Rev. Stephen R. Beggs, a Methodist minister who came to Chicago in 1831; and the Rev. John M. I. St. Cyr's letter of January 19, 1880, to John Wentworth concerning St. Cyr's work as the first Roman Catholic priest in Chicago. Chicago's early schools are covered in transcripts of letters (1833-34) by Dr. Henry Van der Bogart, a Chicago schoolteacher. Madore B. Beaubien's letters (1878-82) to John L. Wilson on a variety of matters in the early history of the city contain a number of references to Chicago schools. The Society's collection of personal correspondence on early local politics and government in Chicago is quite random and limited to a few personal letters. Among them are George Betton's letter of August 7, 1839 (in which he refers to the election victory over the Irish gained by nativeborn voters) and scattered items in collections that primarily relate to the history of Illinois, such as the papers of Ninian Edwards, first territorial governor, and U.S. Senator Elias Kent Kane. Of special interest are transcripts of certificates and poll books for elections held in the Agency House, Chicago, and at the home of Jean Baptiste Beaubien, May-November 1828, and a transcript of a list of voters in an election at the James Kinzie House in the Chicago Precinct, Peoria County (when Chicago was part of that county), August 2, 1830. Other informative collections are available at the Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield, and in Record Group IOI (files of the Governor's Office) in the Illinois State Archives. Early election records may be found in Record Series 103.32 and 103.33 in the Secretary of State files (Record Group 103) in the Illinois State Archives.

Personal Papers and Travelers' Accounts

Researchers at the Society will find a number of

small collections as well as individual letters, diaries, and other manuscripts from the 1820s and 1830s which offer a wide range of commentary on family affairs, work, social activities, and other aspects of daily life. Some of the writers also give their views on economic conditions and opportunities in Chicago, praise and criticize the city as a place in which to live and plan one's future, and comment on its physical appearance and growth. These diverse materials include the highly informative letters of Mayor John Wentworth, Eleanor Kinzie Wolcott, Jean Baptiste Beaubien, Lemuel C. P. Freer, Ebenzer Peck, and similar items written by other men and women settlers. One of the most informative commentators was Benjamin F. Barker, whose small lot of letters chronicles life in Chicago and nearby Joliet from 1832 through 1840. The diaries written by residents and visitors include those of Lemuel Bryant, who commented on the Black Hawk War and cholera-ridden soldiers in 1832; Colbee Chamberlain Benton and Charles Butler of New York City, both of whom visited the city in 1833 (the original of Butler's diary is in the Library of Congress); Captain Morris Sleight, whose revealing diaries and letters document life in Chicago and Naper's Settlement (Naperville, Illinois), 1834-37; Unitarian Minister Augustus H. Conant, who maintained a daybook on his farm on the Des Plaines River from 183653; and an anonymous young man from New York, whose superb diary comments freely on towns and people encountered on his journey to the Midwest in 1839. These contemporary accounts are complemented by a number of reminiscences by Chicagoans which deal with the city's history from 1803 thru 1840, including the recollections of Harriet Newell Dodson, Adeline A. Nichols Heartt, Thomas M. Hoyne, Mrs. J. Y. Sanger, James Watson Webb, and James Grant Wilson. The research notes prepared by Bessie Louise Pierce and her research assistants for Dr. Pierce's three-volume A History of Chicago (1937-57) and the various notes and correspondence compiled by Alfred T. Andreas and his associates for his History of Chicago (1884-86) are also of value for studying the early history of the city, as are other letters on the period which are scattered throughout the Chicago Historical Society's own archives. The manuscripts listed above indicate that despite the loss of materials occasioned by the Great Fire of 1871, enough survived to offer important insights into various aspects of frontier life in Chicago. Such materials have come to the Chicago Historical Society and other institutions from a great variety of sources. The Society's staff has made every effort to identify manuscript acquisitions and to preserve them as a permanent legacy for the future. 127

The Chicago Historical Society Clark Street at North Avenue Chicago, Illinois 60614 Telephone: 642-4600 Officers Theodore Tieken, President Stewart S. Dixon, 1st Vice-President Philip W. Hummer, 2nd Vice-President Gardner H. Stern, Treasurer Bryan S. Reid, Jr., Secretary

Director Harold K. Skramstad, Jr.

Trustees Bowen Blair Mrs. Brooks McCormick Philip D. Block III John T. McCutcheon, Jr. Cyrus Colter Andrew McNally III Emmett Dedmon Arthur E. Osborne, Jr. Stewart S. Dixon Bryan S. Reid, Jr. James R. Getz Harold Byron Smith, Jr. Philip W. Hummer Gardner H. Stern Theodore Tieken Mrs. Frank D. Mayer Mrs. Edgar J. Uihlein

Life Trustees Willard L. King Mrs. C. Phillip Miller Hermon Dunlap Smith

Honorary Trustees Jane Byrne, Mayor, City of Chicago Raymond F. Simon, President, Chicago Park District

The Chicago Historical Society is a privately endowed institution devoted to collecting, preserving, and interpreting the history of the city of Chicago, the state of Illinois, and selected areas of American history. It must look to its members and friends for continuing financial support. Contributions to the Society are tax-deductible and appropriate recognition is accorded major gifts. The Society encourages potential contributors to phone or write the director's office to discuss the Society's needs.

Membership Membership is open to anyone interested in the Society's activities and objectives. Classes of membership and dues are as follows: Annual, $20 a year and Governing Annual, $100 a year. Members receive the Society's quarterly magazine, Chicago History; a quarterly Calendar of Events listing Society programs; invitations to special programs; free admission to the building at all times; reserved seats at movies and concerts in our auditorium; and a 10% discount on books and other merchandise purchased in the Museum Store.

Hours Exhibition galleries are open daily from 9:30 to 4:30; Sunday from 12:00 to 5:00. Research collections are open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 to 4:30 except for July and August when they are open Monday through Friday. The Society is closed on Christmas, New Year's, and Thanksgiving.

Education and Public Programs offers guided tours, assemblies, slide talks, gallery talks, craft demonstrations, and a variety of special programs for all ages, from pre-school through senior citizen.

Admission Fees for Non-members Adults $1; Children (6-17), 50¢; Senior Citizens, 25¢. Admission is free on Mondays. Single copies of Chicago History, published quarterly, are $2.50 by mail; $2 at newsstands, bookshops, and the Museum Store.

The Seal of the City of Chicago 1837-1905 This marble representation of Chicago's first official emblem adorned the walls of the Cook County court house and city hall building from 1885 to I 908. Measuring 32 inches in diameter and weighing more than 100 pounds, it was donated to the Society by Mr. and Mrs. Nathan H . Schwartz in 1954. The design, adopted in 1837, is thought to have been the work of Dr. Josiah Goodhue, alderman from the First Ward. The symbolism, as explained by the Society's late director Paul M. Angle in an earlier issue of Chicago History,

Spring 1954, is straightforward: The sheaf of wheat stands for the fertility of the Illinois prairies, the ship Lake Michigan, and the Indians the original settlers of the Chicago region. "Urbs in Horto"-Garden City-is the motto by which the early city fathers hoped Chicago would be known. Only the slumbering infant baffles us. Anyone can guess that the babe represents a city recently born , but why a Chicago baby should have been pictured in repose instead of bawling lustily is beyond our understanding.

In the seal adopted in 1905 and still in use, the infant "has come up to a .sitting position" and is comfortably ensconced in a shell.

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