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J. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) Currey.

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that three ships laden with tea had arrived in Boston harbor, the Lebanon club
"repaired to Boston, where they were joined by others; and twenty-four of them,
disguised as Indians, hastened on board, twelve armed with muskets and bayonets,
the rest with tomahawks and clubs." The tea was thrown into the harbor, together
with the similar cargoes on the two other ships, and the "tea party," which had in-
creased to some hundred and forty participants, returned to the landing place and
marched in perfect order into the town, preceded by drum and fife. It is related
that the British admiral was at the house of a Tory during the time that the tea
was thrown overboard, and that when the party marched from the wharf he raised
the window and said: "Well, boys, you've had a fine, pleasant evening for your In-
dian caper, haven't you? But mind, you have got to pay the fiddler yet!" "Oh,
never mind," shouted Pitts, the leader, "never mind, squire. Just come out here, if
you please, and we'll settle the bill in two minutes." The populace raised a shout,
the fifer struck up a lively air, and the admiral shut the window in a hurry.

Kennison's name is mentioned by Lossing, in the list of those who were members
of the famous "Boston Tea Party." In the sketch given of him Lossing, comment-
ing upon the great age to which he had attained, says that he was descended from
a long-lived race. "His great-grandfather, who came from England at an early
day, and settled in Maine, lived to a very advanced age; his grandfather attained
the age of one hundred and twelve years and ten days ; his father died at the age
of one hundred and three years and nine months ; his mother died while he was
yet young. . . . He was taught to read after he was sixty years of age, by his
granddaughter, and learned to sign his name while a soldier of the Revolution.
He was in active service during the whole war, only returning home once from the
time of the destruction of the tea until peace had been declared. He participated
in the affair at Lexington, and, with his father and two brothers, was at the
battle of Bunker Hill, all four escaping unhurt.

KENNISON AT BUNKER HILL

"He was within a few feet of Warren when that officer fell. He was also en-
gaged in the siege of Boston ; the battles of Long Island, White Plains, and Fort
Washington ; skirmishes on Staten Island, the battles of Brandywine, Red Bank,



CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS 371

and Germantown; and, lastly, in a skirmish at Saratoga Springs, in which his com-
pany (scouts) were surrounded and captured by about three hundred Mohawk In-
dians. He remained a prisoner with them one year and seven months, about the
end of which time peace was declared. After the war he settled at Danville, Ver-
mont, and engaged in his old occupation of farming. He resided there about eight
years, and then removed to Wells, in the state of Maine, where he remained until
the commencement of the last war with Great Britain. He was in service during
the whole of that war, and was in the battle of Sackett's Harbor and Williams-
burg. In the latter conflict he was badly wounded in the hand by a grape-shot, the
only injury he received in all his engagements.

"Since the war he has lived at Lyme and at Sackett's Harbor, New York. At
Lyme, while engaged in felling a tree, he was struck by one of the limbs, which
fractured his skull and broke his collar-bone and two of his ribs. While attend-
ing a 'training' at Sackett's Harbor, one of the cannon, having been loaded (as
he says) 'with rotten wood,' was discharged. The contents struck the end of a
rail close by him with such force as to carry it around, breaking and badly shatter-
ing both his legs midway between his ankles and knees. He was confined a long
time by this wound, and, when able again to walk, both his legs had contracted per-
manent 'fever sores.' His right hip has been drawn up out of joint by rheumatism.
A large scar upon his forehead bears conclusive testimony of its having come in
contact with the heels of a horse. In his own language, he 'has been completely
bunged up and stove in.'

"When last he heard of his children, only seven of the twenty-two were living.
These were scattered abroad, from Canada to the Rocky Mountains. He has en-
tirely lost all trace of them, and knows not that they are still living.

MOVES TO CHICAGO

"Nearly five years ago he went to Chicago with the family of William Mack
[given in Fergus' list of 'Old Settlers prior to 1843,' as William Champion Mack],
with whom he is now living. He is reduced to extreme poverty, and depends upon
his pension of ninety-six dollars per annum for subsistence, most of which he pays
for his board. Occasionally he is assisted by private donations. Up to 1848, he
has always made something by labor. 'The last season,' says my informant, 'he
has gathered one hundred bushels of corn, dug potatoes, made hay, and harvested
oats. But now he finds himself too infirm to labor, though he thinks he could walk
twenty miles a day by 'starting early.'

"He was evidently a very muscular man. Although not large, his frame is
one of great power. He boasts of 'the strength of former years.' Nine years ago,
he says he lifted a barrel of rum into a wagon with ease. His height was about
five feet ten inches, with an expansive chest and broad shoulders. He walks some-
what bent, but with as much vigor as many almost half a century younger. His
eye is usually somewhat dim, but, when excited by the recollection of his past event-
ful life, it twinkles and rolls in its socket with remarkable activity.

"His memory of recent events is not retentive, while the stirring scenes through
which he passed in his youth, appear to be mapped out upon his mind in unfad-
ing colors. He is fond of martial music. The drum and fife of the recruiting



372 CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS

service, he says, 'daily put new life into him.' 'In fact,' he says, 'it's the sweetest
music in the world. There's some sense in the drum, and fife, and bugle, but these
pianos and other such trash I can't stand at all.'

"Many years ago he was troubled with partial deafness; his sight also failed
him somewhat, and he was compelled to use glasses. Of late years both hearing
and sight have returned to him as perfectly as he ever possessed them. He is'
playful and cheerful in his disposition. 'I have seen him,' says my informant, 'for]
hours upon the sidewalk with the little children, entering with uncommon zesJ
into their childish pastimes. He relishes a joke, and often indulges in 'cracking
one himself.'

"At a public meeting, in the summer of 1848, of those opposed to the extension
of slavery, Mr. Kennison took the stand and addressed the audience with marked
effect. He declared that he fought for the 'freedom of all,' that freedom ought to]
be given to the 'black boys,' and closed by exhorting his audience to do all in their
power to abolish slavery."

KENNISON'S CALL ON THE EDITOR OF THE DEMOCRAT
The Democrat, in its issue of September 19, 1848, printed the following notice.
"We had a call yesterday from David Kennison, the only surviving participant in
throwing the tea overboard in Boston harbor. ... We consider him the great-
est curiosity of the day, and almost the last link between the American colonies and
the United States."

KENNISON'S ACCOUNT OF HIMSELF IN A LETTER TO THE DEMOCRAT

Kennison addressed the following communication to the Democrat, some time
in the year 1848, which recites the leading events of his career, some of which is
a repetition of the foregoing account printed in Lossing's book.

"Sir: As several persons have been to see me to know how I was going to
vote, I wish to get from you the use of the Democrat to tell the people what con-
clusion I have come to in the present condition of my country, as I probably shall
never have another opportunity of voting. I have thought much of the subject,
knowing my responsibility to God and my country. If I live till the 17th day of
November next, I shall be one hundred and twelve years old.

"I was born at Kingston, New Hampshire, and my father moved to Lebanon,
Maine, when I was an infant. I was a citizen of that place when, at the age of
about thirty-three [he must have been thirty-seven in the year 1773, when the
event he is about to mention occurred], I assisted in throwing the tea overboard in
Boston harbor. I was at the battle of Bunker Hill and stood near General Warren
when he fell. I also helped roll the barrels, filled with sand and stone, down the
hill as the British came up.

"I was at the battles of White Plains, West Point, and Long Island. I helped
stretch the chain across the Hudson River to stop the British from coming up. I
was also in battles at Fort Montgomery, Staten Island, Delaware, Hudson, and
Philadelphia. I witnessed the surrender of Lord Cornwallis, and was near West
Point when Arnold betrayed his country and Andre was hung. I have been
under Washington (for whom I frequently carried the mails and dispatches), Pres-




MEMORIAL IX LINCOLN PARK TO DAVID KENN1SON. A MEMBER OP
"THE BOSTON TEA PARTY."



CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS 373

cott, Putnam, Montgomery and Lafayette. I now draw a pension of eight dollars
a month for services in the Revolutionary war.

"When the last war broke out [War of 1812], I was living at Portland, Maine,
when I enlisted and marched to Sackett's Harbor, and was in battle at that place,
and also at other places, and now bear the marks of a wound received in my hand
in that war. I voted for Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Van
Buren and Polk, and have thought that I ought to vote for Mr. Van Buren at this
time. I am a strong 'free soil' man and spoke at the free soil meeting in this city
on the Fourth of July last. I have always been a Democrat and think it is too late
to change now, even if I had a disposition, which I have not. I have made up my
mind that Mr. Van Buren stands no chance of an election, and that voting for him
will endanger the success of the other Democrats in this field, and so give us a
Whig for president; hence I shall cast my vote for General Lewis Cass for presi-
dent and General William O. Butler for vice-president, and advise all other Demo-
crats to do the same. DAVID KENNISON."

KENNISON RANKS AMONG THE CHARACTERS

Kennison was one of the "characters" in Chicago in the early times. He came
here in 1842, having then attained the age of one hundred and six years. In a
sketch written by Mr. Stanley Waterloo for the Chicago Tribune, September 5,
1909, he describes his appearance. "Tall and erect, and with white hair that stood up
like that of Andrew Jackson, though it curled slightly, with keen eye, and com-
posed manner, he was one to attract attention. . . . He was consulted often
as an authority on matters beyond the direct knowledge of most living men, and
numerous were his contributions to and corrections of the history of the revolution."

One of his still surviving children, a daughter whom he had entirely lost sight
of, rejoined him in his last years and was with him to the end. On the publication
of Lossing's "Field Book of the Revolution" in 1848, in which is given an extended
account of the Boston "Tea Party" and the participants therein, this daughter was
made acquainted with her father's place of residence and that he was still living.
She came at once to Chicago where "she smoothed the patriarch's pillow in his pass-
age to the grave."

At the time of his death in 1852, the Democrat gave an account of his last hours,
and suggested that the wish he had expressed for a military funeral should be re-
spected. These wishes were regarded to the letter. Waterloo says in his article
above quoted from: "The council voted him a lot in the city cemetery. His
funeral in the Clark Street Methodist church was an imposing one; and to the
music of drum and fife and band, escorted by the local military companies, and
'the Pioneers' in bearskin caps and carrying axes, his body was borne to the
cemetery, where the military rites concluded with the prescribed volley over the
grave."

A HERO OP TWO WARS

Like many others among the pioneers whom we have met with in this history,
Kennison was rude and unlettered, but he was one of the thousands who bore
arms in the war establishing our liberties, and in the "Second War of Independence"



374 CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS

he bore an humble but effective part. It was an appropriate act on the part of
the Sons and Daughters of the Revolution to seek out and mark the grave of this
Revolutionary hero with a granite boulder and tablet of bronze; and it is a privilege
to have his grave and monument in our most lovely park, and for us here to record
the story of his life.



CHAPTER XIX

RELIGIOUS HISTORY

RELIGIOUS LIFE IN THE EARLY DAYS FIRST SERMOX PREACHED IN CHICAGO THE
CATHOLIC CHURCH IN CHICAGO ST. MARY'S CHURCH ORGANIZED DEDICATION OF
FIRST ST. MARY'S THE EARLY MISSIONARIES ST. MARY'S JUBILEE CATHOLIC
ACTIVITIES MEMORIES OF OLD ST. MARY'S THE PAULI8T FATHERS THE LAETARE
MEDAL FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH DEDICATION ADDRESS GOING TO CHURCH
IN 1834 PROGRESS OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
THE METHODIST CHURCH EARLY EDIFICES METHODIST CHURCH BLOCK PASTOR8
. OF THE FIRST METHODIST CHURCH DIAMOND JUBILEE OF THE FIRST CHURCH
THE NORTHWESTERN CHRISTIAN ADVOCATE EDITORS OF THE ADVOCATE ST.
JAMES EPISCOPAL CHURCH BISHOP PHILANDER CHASE REFORMED EPISCOPAL
CHURCH FIRST UNITARIAN CHURCH CHURCH OF THE NEW JERUSALEM JEWISH
CONGREGATIONS A. D. FIELD'S RECOLLECTIONS PIONEER PREACHING.

RELIGIOUS LIFE IN THE EARLY DAYS

Sip N LOOKING over the period of the building up of the small community,
a natural question is one concerned with its religious life, if there were
any here at the time. We have seen how the voyage of discovery in
1673 was in part a missionary enterprise, and that the presence here of
Father Marquette, working among the Indians in the winter of 1674-5,
was the first regular ministration of religion. Father Marquette's death, in the
spring of 1675, left a blank in the record until the appearance of Father Pinet and
Father Bineteau, in 1699. Their house was built on the banks of a small lake,
"having the lake on one side and a fine large prairie on the other," as described by
St. Cosme, this locality being identified by Mr. Frank R. Grover as at the place
since known as the "Skokie." This mission was abandoned two years later. Here
and there through the records, we obtain glimpses of occasional visits of the mis-
sionary priests passing to and from the Illinois, but no regular mission station was
established at this place for a century or more.

During the period between the building of the first Fort Dearborn in 1803, and
its evacuation in 1812, there is no account of religious activity of any kind. Among
the officers in charge of the fort no mention of a chaplain appears, and if there were
any form of religious exercises they were confined to small groups of which we
find no record. After the rebuilding of Fort Dearborn, in 1816, no sign of religious
life appears until 1822, when the Reverend Stephen D. Badin, a Catholic priest
of Baltimore, visited Chicago, and during his visit baptized Alexander Beaubien,

375




376 CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS

then an infant, in Fort Dearborn. This was the first baptism in the future Chicago
of which we have any knowledge. 1

It may be remarked in this place that it is somewhat hazardous in writing
history to mention any event, building or improvement of any character as the
"first" of its kind, as it is very often found that later information discovers still
earlier instances. Anything that is first is interesting, but, as the Scriptures say,
"Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof."

THE FIRST SERMON IN CHICAGO

The Reverend Isaac McCoy, a Baptist Clergyman, relates in his book, "History
of Baptist Indian Missions," that on the ninth of October, 1825, he preached the
first sermon, as he was informed, "ever delivered at or near that place." 2 It
required a considerable amount of courage in those days, in the rough and ready
life of the frontier, for a man to avow himself a religious man or a believer in any
form of religion; but among the soldiers and inhabitants there were a devoted few
whose countenance and support of religious services and mission work could be
depended upon.

In the year 1831, a Methodist exhorter by the name of William See, employed
as a blacksmith by David McKee, "held forth" on Sundays in the little schoolhouse
at Wolf Point, "less to the edification of his hearers," says Mrs. Kinzie, "than to
the unmerciful slaughter of the King's English." He was a man, however, of
unblemished character. "He did what he could to prepare the way for the more
efficient, though not more meritorious work done by his immediate successors." 8
In this year, the Reverend Stephen R. Beggs came to Chicago from Plainfield,
Illinois, where he was among the first settlers, and held meetings at the fort and
at the schoolhouse before mentioned, the result of which was the formation of a
class. From this beginning the Methodist Episcopal Church in Chicago entered
upon its splendid career of religious prosperity and usefulness. 4

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN CHICAGO

St. Mary's Church is the oldest church organization in Chicago, dating from
the 17th of April, in the year 1833. The priest appointed to take charge of the
newly organized church society, Father St. Cyr, arrived in Chicago from St. Louis,
on the first of May following. We have compiled this account largely from a
history of St. Mary's Church, printed in 1908, by Hon. William J. Onahan, a
distinguished layman in the Catholic church. Mr. Onahan came to Chicago in
1854, and has been prominent in the business and public life of the city, as well
as a devoted son of the church of his faith.

Mr. Onahan has been honored by two Popes with the distinction of Papal Cham-
berlain, and is one of the holders of the Lsetare medal, conferred upon him in
1890, by the faculty of the University of Notre Dame. This medal is bestowed
every year upon a member of the Catholic laity, man or woman, who may be dis-

1 Andreas: "History of Chicago," I, 288.

2 Cited by Hurlbut, "Chicago Antiquities," p. 198.
'Andreas: "History of Chicago," Vol. I, p. 114 .

4 Beggs: "Early History of the Northwest," p. 87.



r-V r, ',t ' ! ;'

"




FIRST ST. MARY'S CHURCH, ERECTED BY
FATHER ST. CYR. 1833




SECOND ST. MARY'S CHURCH



CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS 377

tinguished in furthering the interests of morality, education and citizenship. In
!a later portion of this chapter the history and description of this medal will be
i given.

ST. MARY'S CHURCH ORGANIZED

The Catholic residents of Chicago in 1833 began a movement for the forma-
ition of a church. It must be borne in mind that among the inhabitants at that
time were many Canadian French, brought up in the Catholic faith, as well as
others who were quite willing to aid and support a priest to minister to the wants
of the people of that faith, if he should be sent to them. A petition was prepared
and signed quite numerously, the petition and signatures being given in full, as
follows :

"To the Right Reverend Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of the State of Mis-
souri at St. Louis;

"We, the Catholics of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, lay before you the ne-
cessity there is to have a pastor in this new and flourishing city. There are here
several families of French descent, born and brought up in the Roman Catholic
Faith, and others quite willing to aid us in supporting a Pastor, who ought to be
sent here before other sects obtain the upper hand, which very likely they will
undertake to do. We have heard several persons say and assure were there a
Pastor here they would join our religion in preference to any other. We count
about one hundred Catholics in this town. We will not cease to pray until you
have taken our important request into consideration.

"[Signed:] J. V. Owen and Family, J. B. Beaubien and Family, J. Lafram-
boise and Family, J. Pothier and Family, A. Robinson and Family, P. Leclere and
Family, R. Laframboise and Family, C. Laframboise and Family, J. Chassut and
Family, A. Ouilmet, L. Bourasse, C. Taylor, J. B. -Maranda and Sisters, L. Che-
valier and Family, P. Walsh and Family, J. Mann and Family, J. Caldwell, B.
Saver, J. B. Babba, J. B. Proulx, J. B. Jalevy, J. B. Durveher, A. Taylor, L.
Franchere, Major Whistler's Family, M. Beaubien, J. B. Bradeur, M. Smith, A.
St. Ours, B. Duplat, Ch. Munselle, J. Hondorf, D. Asgood, Nelson P. Perry, John
Hogan, D. Vaughn."

The original paper is endorsed April, 1833. "Petition of the Catholics of
Chicago; received the 16th, answered the 17th."

RESPONSE TO THE PETITION

The Bishop of St. Louis, Joseph Rosatti, promptly granted the request of the
petitioners, and appointed Father John M. I. St. Cyr, a young man who had just
been ordained to the priesthood, and who was then thirty years of age. This was
his first appointment, and he entered upon it with the enthusiasm characteristic of
the missionary. St. Cyr was born in France and received his education there. He
had only been in America two years when he was assigned to duty as the first
priest at Chicago, and it proved a fortunate selection. He made the journey from
St. Louis, part of the way by boat, and part across country on horseback, and even
on foot on the last stage of the journey.

Father St. Cyr celebrated his first Mass in Chicago, May 5, 1833, in a little
log house, the home of Mark Beaubien, one of the petitioners. The new pastor



378 CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS

at once set to work to provide a suitable church, and within a short time he had
raised the needed funds and obtained the material, the required lumber being
brought on a scow from St. Joseph, across the lake. Augustine D. Taylor was
both architect and builder of the modest edifice, for which he received the munifi-
cent sum of four hundred dollars, which was paid to him, as he subsequently de-
clared, all in silver half dollars. An Indian woman cleaned and prepared the
building for the dedication, or rather for the celebration of the first Mass. John
Wright, a Presbyterian, afterwards a deacon in the First Presbyterian church, as-
sisted Taylor in framing the little Catholic church. The building stood on a loca-
tion near the southwest corner of State and Lake streets.

DEDICATION OF THE FIRST ST. MARY'S CHURCH

Though a small and inexpensive church edifice, it was not completed until Octo-
ber. At the dedication service there were present about one hundred persons. The
walls and ceiling of the church were not plastered, and only rough benches were
made for the congregation, while a simple table served for altar. The outside of
the church was not painted, and it had neither steeple nor bell tower. Some time
later an open tower was placed at one end of the roof, and a small bell, about the
size of a locomotive bell of the present day, was hung within it.

In 1 836 some trouble arose about the title to the land on which the church stood,
and it was removed to a new location at the corner of Michigan avenue and Madison
street. Here the building was enlarged, but soon after it was again removed to
the southwest corner of Wabash avenue and Madison street. A new church, the
pro-cathedral, was built on this location in 1843, and the old structure once more
removed, this time to the westward on the same block. The new church was of
brick, fifty-five feet wide, one hundred and twelve feet long and included a
wide portico, the roof of which was supported by four Ionic columns. The cost
of the new building was four thousand dollars. St. Xavier's Academy, under the
charge, of the Sisters of Mercy, at 131 Wabash avenue, was later built on the adjoin-
ing lot south of the church. 6

THE EARLY MISSIONARIES

While St. Mary's may be regarded as the earliest church organization in the
city, it must not be forgotten that a missionary priest of the Catholic church was
one of the discoverers of the region, wherein is now located the city of Chicago.
Father Marquette celebrated mass in his hut on the banks of the river, during the
winter of 1674-5, at a spot which has been marked with a memorial cross in recent
years. For more than a century Catholic missionaries followed each other in their
visits to this region. As Bancroft says, "not a lake was penetrated, not a head-
land turned in the Northwest, but a Jesuit led the way." The sacrifices made by
these early missionaries, the perils braved by them, and the trials they endured,



Online LibraryJ. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) CurreyChicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth (Volume v.1) → online text (page 52 of 59)