J. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) Currey.

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had a common interest. Mr. Thompson was especially interested in a measure,
introduced in Congress, to confer medals upon E. W. Spencer, now living at Neenach,
California, and Bishop Joseph C. Hartzell, who as young men had performed ef-
ficient lifesaving work on the shore of Lake Michigan near Evanston, when the
Lady Elgin and other vessels were wrecked during the sixties. At the time of the
rescues it was not customary to give official recognition for such services, as it is at
the present day. This measure had the warm personal support of the President and
the distinguished Secretary of War; but up to the present time the measure has
failed to become a law.

Mr. Thompson received the degree of Doctor of Laws from McKendree College
in 1903. He was considered one of the greatest laymen of the Methodist church.

Original owned ny Chicago Historical Society






At his funeral president-elect Taft sent a floral offering, and many heartfelt trib-
utes were published in the papers, or adopted in the form of resolutions by various
bodies. In the memorial service at St. Louis one of the speakers said that "this
man's influence was given to the cause that lacked assistance, and was thrown
steadily against the wrongs that need resistance."

In the untimely death of Dr. Thompson the church lost a valuable worker, and
the community a shining example of moral worth and of eminent religious character.


The first brick church edifice in the city was built by the Episcopalians on the
North Side, at the corner of Cass and Illinois streets, in 1837. This was built
by the St. James Episcopal church society, which had been organized in October,
1834, and whose meetings had been held in the building known as "Tippecanoe
Hall." The Reverend Palmer Dyer conducted the services at first, but soon after-
wards he went to Fort Snelling as an army chaplain. He was succeeded by Rev-
erend Isaac W. Hallam, who remained until 1843.

On June 25, 1837, the new building was dedicated by Bishop Philander Chase.
The building was Gothic in style forty-four by sixty-four feet in size, with a
square tower in which was a bell, and cost $15,500. One of the features of the
new church, in which the congregation took especial pride, was a large pulpit built
of mahogany, eighteen feet wide, six feet deep, and of portentous height. Before
the pulpit was the reading desk, and farther in front was the communion table.
Above the pulpit were painted on the wall the letters I. H. S., common among
Christian churches, as is well known. As John H. Kinzie was a large benefactor
of the church, having given the lot on which it was built and contributed towards
its construction, the initials above mentioned were mistaken by a visitor at the
services for those of Mr. Kinzie. "How do you like our church?" was asked
of the visitor. "Very much indeed," he replied, "but is it not a little egotistical,
and won't the people think it a little vain in John to put his initials so conspicuously
over the pulpit?"

Bishop Philander Chase, who had been in charge of the diocese since 1835,
was a remarkable man in all respects, a man of great religious zeal, of indomitable
perseverance, and the most successful pioneer of the Episcopal church in the West.
He had been chiefly instrumental in establishing Kenyon College in Ohio some
years before, having made a special journey to England to procure funds for
the purpose. A few lines quoted from a student's song describes his activities in
the early days of that institution:

"He dug up stones, he chopped down trees,
He sailed across the stormy seas.
He begged at every noble's door,
And also that of Hannah More.
The king, the queen, the lords, the earls,
They gave their crowns, they gave their pearls,
Until Philander had enough,
And hurried homeward with the 'stuff.' "


Removing to Illinois, Bishop Chase became interested in the cause of higher
education in this state and founded a college near Peoria, which he named Jubilee
College, where Judge Harvey B. Hurd, well known as the codifier of our Illinois
statutes, received his education. In behalf of this institution Bishop Chase made
another voyage to England and was successful in procuring funds for the new
institution from his many friends across the water.


The bishop was a giant in stature, measuring six feet, four inches in height,
and weighing nearly three hundred pounds. Mrs. Nellie Kinzie Gordon, a daugh-
ter of John H. Kinzie, has written her recollections of him. "He was a zealous
Christian," she says, "who never spared himself in the service of the Lord, but
he was very domineering, irascible, and intolerant of contradiction. . . . There
being no railroads, the bishop was compelled to make the tour of his diocese in
his own big coach, and he generally came to grief on the trip, as the roads were
fearful. When he arrived in Chicago he always came straight to our house, and
usually appeared with broken bones as the result of an upset."

On one occasion he had arrived on a Friday at the house of Mr. Kinzie, then
situated at the corner of Michigan and Cass streets. He had as usual, met with
an accident between Naperville and Chicago, "which had finished up his last
ribs," as Mrs. Gordon relates. Having taken to his bed, he was supposed to be
disabled from any further duties until he should recover from his injuries. "On
Saturday evening, however," continues Mrs. Gordon, "he came into the library
and remarked to my father, who was the senior warden of St. James church, 'John,
my son, I shall preach tomorrow.' 'Why, bishop,' my father exclaimed, 'I don't
think you will be able to stand that. 5 'I don't mean to stand, my son,' replied the
bishop, 'I shall preach, but I shall sit down, and I desire you to see that a seat
is arranged for me in the pulpit.' "

Upon the small platform in front of the pulpit the wardens placed an old fash-
ioned square wash stand, and draped it with some red moreen. On the top they
placed a cushion, and here the bishop, with the help of Mr. Kellogg, the rector,
and the wardens, was safely boosted. After the services had proceeded a short time
"the bishop unfortunately gave himself a little hitch. It was fatal! Off slipped
one leg of the washstand, the bishop was flung as from a catapult head first into the
middle of the chancel, followed by the washstand, revealed in its nakedness. The
congregation was breathless with horror at the catastrophe, while poor Mr. Kellogg
seemed paralyzed with fright." But the bishop was used to all varieties of falls and
tumbles, and with the help of those who came to his assistance he slowly began to
rear up his massive form, and was again carefully hoisted upon the washstand. and
resumed his discourse, which took him an hour and a half to deliver.

Bishop Chase died in 1852, and was succeeded by Reverend Henry J. White-
house. "Bishop Chase filled the Episcopate of Illinois," says Andreas, "for seven-
teen years. The summary of his acts is as follows: He ordained to the priest-
hood, seven ; to the deaconate, twelve ; he consecrated sixteen churches, and con-
firmed nine hundred and fifteen individuals."



The large increase in membership rendered the brick building, at the corner of
Cass and Illinois streets, too small for its purposes, and in 1857, after twenty
years of occupancy, the St. James society abandoned the old church and took
possession of its new edifice on the southeast corner of Cass and Huron streets,
which had been completed at a cost of sixty thousand dollars, exclusive of the lot
on which it was placed.

An interesting souvenir of the Civil War is the bell now in use on St. Mark's
church, situated at the corner of Thirty-sixth street and Cottage Grove avenue.
During the war the chaplain of the military prison, known as Camp Douglas, ap-
plied to the Government for funds to build a chapel for the use of the prisoners,
and secured $2,300 out of a fund of $60,000, called the "Prisoners' Fund." The
war closed soon after the completion of the chapel. The bell provided for the
use of the chapel was in part made of coins largely contributed by the Confederate
prisoners and other friends. These coins, silver and copper, were melted down
and molded into a bell at Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1864. St. Mark's church
is the direct successor of the little chapel built for the garrison and prisoners dur-
ing the period of the war.


In 1871, Charles Edward Cheney, who had been rector of Christ church (Protest-
ant Episcopal) since 1860, issued a protest against the findings of an ecclesiastical
tribunal which had found him guilty of omitting certain portions of the ritual in
services conducted by him. He was sentenced to be suspended from the ministry
until he should profess contrition. This he declined to do and the protest referred to
became famous in church history under the name of the "Chicago Protest." In this
document he said that he entered his "solemn protest against the constitution, the
mode of procedure, the rulings and the verdict of the ecclesiastical court by which
my so-called trial has been conducted. From its decision and verdict, and from
the sentence this day pronounced, I appeal to the judgment of Protestant Chris-
tianity and the Supreme Tribunal, before which all must appear."

Dr. Cheney was tried again for "contumacy/' because he continued to officiate
as rector of Christ church in obedience to the resolution adopted by the warders
and vestrymen of that church to continue as such. One of his defenders in this
trial was Melville W. Fuller who, associated with other counsel, objected to the
jurisdiction of the court, but the objection was overruled. The charges against
Cheney were sustained and he and the congregation of his church were thus
forced into an alliance with the Reformed Episcopal church, which soon after be-
came a separate branch of the denomination. Dr. Cheney was consecrated mis-
sionary bishop of the Northwest in December, 1873; and in 1878 he was made
bishop of the Synod of Chicago which position he holds at the present time.

In 1875, Samuel Fallows became rector of St. Paul's Reformed Episcopal
church, Chicago, and soon came to be recognized as one of the most eloquent pul-
pit orators of the day. Under his charge St. Paul's church has become prosper-
ous and influential among the churches of the city. In 1876, Dr. Fallows was
elected bishop having the jurisdiction of the West and Northwest, which was
afterwards made a part of the Synod of Chicago. He has been elected eight times


presiding bishop, and is now the Coadjutor-Bishop of the Synod of Chicago. Bishop
Fallows is known not only as an able and impressive public speaker but enjoys also
a high reputation as an author of a number of learned works in various fields of

Among some of the more important works written by Bishop Fallows may be
mentioned "Synonyms and Antonyms," "The Life of Samuel Adams," "Popular and
Biblical Encyclopedia," "Science of Health," and "Health and Happiness."


The First Unitarian society was organized June 29, 1836, and eight hundred
dollars was at once subscribed for the purchase of a lot. Meantime services were
held at various places, at first in the Lake House on the North Side. Miss Harriet
Martineau was on a tour through the West at this time, and attended these serv-
ices, which she refers to as follows: "We were unexpectedly detained over Sunday
in Chicago, and Dr. F. [Dr. Charles Follen] was requested to preach. Though
only two hours' notice was given, a respectable congregation was assembled in the
large room of the Lake House, a new hotel then building. Our seats were a few
chairs and benches, and planks laid on trestles. The preacher stood behind a rough
pine table, on which a large Bible was placed. I was never present at a more
interesting service, and I know that there were others who felt with me."

In October, 1839, Reverend Joseph Harrington became pastor of the society,
and the next year set to work to build a church. A lot was purchased on the south
side of Washington street, between Clark and Dearborn streets, eighty by one hun-
dred and eighty feet in size, for which the sum of five hundred dollars was paid.
On this lot was built in 1841, the church edifice, forty-two by sixty feet, at a
cost of forty-two hundred dollars. The building was ornamented with a spire in
which was a bell, which, with the exception of the small bell on St. Mary's church,
was the first church bell in Chicago. "It was the first bell in Chicago," says
Andreas, "that could be heard to any considerable distance, and was depended
upon by other churches to denote the time of Sunday services; It was also used as
a fire alarm bell until 1853, when the First Baptist church was erected at the
corner of Washington and La Salle streets, and the bell belonging to it, being a
larger and more powerful one, superseded the 'little bell' on the Unitarian church
in case of the necessity of sounding a fire alarm." The bell in the Baptist church
spire was used for this purpose until the courthouse was completed in 1856, in the
tower of which was hung a heavy bell which thenceforward discharged the func-
tions of a fire alarm bell.

The Reverend Robert Collyer often preached in this church during the follow-
ing years. In 1862 the building of the First Unitarian church was destroyed by
fire, and soon after a new location was sought on Wabash avenue, near Hubbard
court, on which a new building was erected in 1863. In 1866, Reverend Robert
Laird Collier became pastor. The similarity of the name of the latter to that
of Robert Collyer, the famous pastor of the Unity church both belonging to the
same denomination, has caused endless confusion with readers, and even with
writers who had no personal knowledge of the men, both preachers being men of
force and great ability and often mentioned in the public prints.


Unity church was an offshoot from the First Unitarian society, and in 1859 a
building was erected on the corner of Chicago avenue and North Dearborn street
(as it was then called), and Robert Collyer became its pastor. In 1867 a new
location was found on the corner of Walton place and Dearborn avenue, where a
beautiful structure of cut stone with double spires was erected. This church met
the common fate in the fire of 1871, but was afterwards re-erected on the same
lines, and stands to the present time, though devoted to other uses.

In the recollections of A. D. Field, referred to elsewhere, he speaks of the
building erected by the First Unitarian society, as follows: "In the summer of
1841 the Unitarians built the first really elegant church, except the Episcopal,
in the city. It was of frame, but had a tall spire in which was a bell. In 1845
and '46, the city hired a man to ring this bell at 12 o'clock. You could see that
beautiful spire and hear that bell in any part of the city. Years after, I was pass-
ing along and undertook to find that Unitarian church. I had hard work to find
it. On the corner of Washington and Clark, and east on Washington were brick
blocks towering upward, and in a notch between them stood, almost out of sight,
overshadowed by the buildings, that church that was once the land mark of all
the country around."


The Chicago Society of the New Jerusalem was formed on the 7th of Sep-
tember, 1843, at the house of J. Young Scammon, with three members, namely,
Mr. Scammon, his wife, Mary A. H. Scammon, and Vincent S. Lowell, a resident
of Elgin, these being all the "New Church" people in Chicago or its vicinity at that
time. A "platform" was adopted, consisting of the "three essentials" of the
church, as contained in Emanuel Swedenborg's treatise on Divine Providence. These
were, "First, the acknowledgement of the Divinity of Our Lord; Second, the ac-
knowledgement of the Sancity of the word ; and Third, the life which is called
Charity," Charity being further defined in the following language: "According
to the life which is charity every man has faith; from the word is the knowl-
edge of what life must be; and from the Lord is reformation and Salvation." This
denomination, usually spoken of as the Swedenborgian church, "has no uniform
liturgy or discipline," says a writer in the "American Cyclopaedia," "each society
being left to itself, very- much on the Congregational system."

One of the first acts of the society was the securing of a lot on which to erect
a church. The lot obtained was on the northeast corner of Adams street and
Wabash avenue, seventy-six by one hundred and seventy-six feet in size. This
lot was obtained as a gift from the Canal Commissioners, in the following manner:
"There existed in Illinois, in 1843," says Rudolph Williams, the author of a his-
tory of the "New Church," "a law under which, in towns located where there were
Illinois and Michigan Canal lands, organized churches could, without cost, obtain
a title to a lot for a church building. This privilege, it was understood, would
become inoperative in Chicago with the expiration of that "year."

A record of the proceedings of the first meeting of the society was made and
certified. The Reverend John R. Hibbard, who was pastor of the New church
from 1849 to 1877, says in his volume, "Reminiscences of a Pioneer," that when
Mr. Scammon, with the certified record of the organization of the society, applied


to the Canal Commissioners for a lot, "they were rather astonished and inclined
not to give a lot to a church so few in number; but Mr. Scammon insisted, saying
that, although now very small, the New Jerusalem was destined to become the
largest, if not the only church in the world. The trustees yielded and gave the

A large measure of prosperity was enjoyed by the Swedenborgians, and their
numbers increased rapidly. The first person to be baptized after the formation
of the society was Joseph K. C. Forrest, well known in our early annals; and
in the long roll of those who became connected with the church of the New Jeru-
salem are the names of many who were prominent as citizens and in the affairs of


In 1849 the Jews, who had begun to arrive in considerable numbers during
the previous few years, "erected a synagogue on Clark street between Quincy and
Adams streets, on a lot they had leased," says Andreas. "At the expiration of
their lease they bought a lot on the northeast corner of Adams and Wells streets,
upon which they erected a second synagogue. This was in 1855. Here they
remained until 1865, when, the house becoming too small, they sold the property
and bought a church on the corner of Wabash avenue and Peck court. In this
church they worshipped until it was destroyed by the great fire of 1871. The first
minister of this congregation was Reverend Ignatz Kunreuther, who became pastor
in 1849. In 1855 he was succeeded by Reverend G. Schnerdacher, and he was
succeeded in 1856 by Reverend G. M. Cohen. The following gentlemen then suc-
cessively officiated as ministers of this congregation; Reverends L. Lebrecht, L.
Levi, M. Mauser, M. Moses, and L. Adler. The pastorates of all except the last
were quite short. Mr. Adler was called in 1861, and remained until 1880."


The history of Sinai Congregation which follows is based upon Mr. H. Elias-
soff's very interesting and complete account printed in the "Reform Advocate,"
under date of May 6th, 1911.

On Sunday, June 20, 1858, in the office of Greenebaum Brothers, then at Num-
ber 45 Clark street, the "Yuedische Reform Verein" was instituted. Here were
laid the foundation stones of the Sinai Congregation. The main purpose of the
Jewish Reform Society was "to awaken and cultivate truer conceptions of Judaism,
and a higher realization of Jewish religious life."

This movement was agitated from time to time among the Jews of Chicago
until the fall of 1860, when a considerable number of the members of the older
congregations, finding their efforts for reform within the circles of the orthodox
organizations had proved fruitless, withdrew and established the "Sinai Con-
gregation." The charter of the Congregation was dated July 20, 1861. The serv-
ices were held on Saturdays, the Jewish Sabbath, as formerly, the change which
was afterwards made to Sunday not being ventured upon at this time.

A noteworthy section of the constitution adopted by the reform organization
was as follows: "Prayers for the restoration of the Mosaic cult of sacrifices, for
the return of an Israelitish nation as such to Palestine, the coming of a personal








Messiah, the bodily resurrection of the dead, shall not be engrafted in the service
of the Congregation." Dr. B. Felsenthal accepted a call to the spiritual leader-
ship of the young Congregation and became its first Rabbi.

The first temple was a frame building, a former Christian church, located on
Monroe street, between Clark and La Salle. This temple was dedicated on June 21,
1861, by Dr. S. Adler of New York. The first public divine service was then held
by the young Congregation. Dr. Felsenthal occupied the pulpit of Sinai Con-
gregation for three years, and on June 17, 1864, he preached his farewell sermon.


The second temple of the Congregation was located on Third avenue (now
Plymouth place) and Van Buren street, and was dedicated in the spring of 1863.
One of the features of the dedication was that "all members, by common consent,
took off their hats for the first time during divine services," thus definitely breaking
away from the old Jewish custom of keeping hats on at such times.

Dr. Chronik was elected in 1865, and became Rabbi of the Congregation. Dur-
ing the incumbency of Dr. Chronik the transfer of the Saturday Sabbath to Sunday
was advocated by him. In one of his lectures he said that "it was the only remedy
for the preservation and dissemination of prophetic Judaism." Such transfer,
however, was not made until some years later, the Jewish people not yet being
ready to adopt the innovation. Dr. Kaufman Kohler was the next incumbent, ar-
riving on the scene just after the great fire of 1871, when the temple was in ruins
after that disastrous conflagration. A new site was purchased in 1872, at the
corner of Indiana avenue and Twenty-first street. Sunday services were in-
augurated by Dr. Kohler, the Congregation having wisely come to the conclusion
that Sunday services were "a necessity for the preservation of Judaism in America."
It was not until the 8th of April, 1876, that the new temple was dedicated, the
total cost of the new edifice reaching the sum of $128,000. Dr. Kohler resigned
in 1879.


At a special meeting of the members of Sinai Congregation, held February
19. 1880, the following resolution, giving official recognition to Sunday services
(though already in practice), was adopted:

"Resolved, that inasmuch as circumstances over which we have no control pre-
vent a large number of our members and young Israel especially from attending
public worship on the Biblical Sabbath, this Congregation considers it an im-
perative duty to continue to hold services on the common day of rest, and to this
end it shall be the duty of the incoming minister to attend to all functions of his
station on Sabbaths and festivals and to deliver lectures before this Congregation
on every Sunday."

So important is this question of the expediency of holding Jewish services
on Sunday regarded that the opinions of a number of leading men in the Jewish
world are here quoted bearing on the subject. Said Dr. Kohler on one occasion:
"We have no right to say, 'Starve, rather than come on the Christian Sabbath
day to the Synagogue to be fed on Heaven's manna.' " Dr. Sale once said in
substance: "If we believe that we may not observe any other day than the one


that was held sacred by our ancestors, I do not see how we can possibly achieve
the fruits of this Sabbath observance under the conditions of modern society.

Online LibraryJ. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) CurreyChicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth (Volume v.1) → online text (page 55 of 59)