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J. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) Currey.

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to see the Patrol brought to a stage of development which even he, possibly, never
at the beginning dreamed of. ... It has grown to be an organization com-
manding from convenient points the entire city, and though the cost of its main-



288 CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS

tenance is upwards of $75,000 annually [in 1897], its saving to the insurance
companies in salvages is often, at a single fire, as much or more than that large
sum."

Captain Bullwinkle proved to be the genius who gave practical effect to the
wise designs of the promoters. He was "the embodiment of force and enthusiasm.
He put his whole soul into the work; he made record time and set the pace for the
rapid handling of fire apparatus. Under his skilful management the Patrol was
placed on a basis of splendid efficiency which it has more than maintained," says
a recent writer, "to this day under its present superintendent [Edward T. Shep-
perd]. Its history for forty years has been a continuous record of excellent ser-
vice and fine achievement, its members never faltering in performing their duty
even at the sacrifice of their lives."

The present equipment of the Fire Insurance Patrol, as appears in the his-
torical sketch of the Chicago Board of Underwriters, written by R. N. Trimingham,
its secretary, in 1911, is as follows: Eight companies with a total of one hun-
dred and seven men, fourteen horses, six motors, ten wagons, and one chemical
engine.

The Chicago Board of Underwriters during its half century of existence has
changed its name on three different occasions, though without essentially changing
its character and purposes. In 1885, the name was changed to "The Chicago
Fire Underwriters' Association," which took over the records of the former body,
and continued its functions in the regulation of rates. This continued until 1894
when the Chicago Fire Underwriters' Association became a thing of the past, "after
a most useful career of almost nine years, in which it did much for the elevation
of fire underwriting." At that time the name of the "Chicago Underwriters' As-
sociation" was adopted. In 1906, the Board resumed its original name and is
now known as the Chicago Board of Underwriters.

A TRAGIC BALLOON ASCENSION

A tragic and thrilling event occurred in July, 1875, in connection with a bal-
loon ascension. Barnum's circus, advertised as the "Great Roman Hippodrome,"
its "grand pavilion occupying all the vacant ground on the lake front," was pres-
ent in the city at that time. Among the attractions were three balloon ascensions
which were to take place on three days in succession, the starting place to be at
Dearborn Park, the present site of the Chicago Public Library. Professor W. H.
Donaldson, a well known aeronaut of the day, who had one hundred and thirty-
six ascensions to his credit, was to make the ascensions in the "largest balloon ever
seen in the West." The professor was to be accompanied on these ascensions by
"several members of the Chicago press."

The balloon, which bore the name of "P. T. Barnum." made its start under
favorable conditions on the afternoon of Wednesday, the 14th, the aeronaut being
accompanied by a "quartette of confiding newspaper representatives," in the pres-
ence of an immense throng of spectators. The balloon floated over the city for a
time and presently took an eastward course directly over the lake. Fortunately,
however, another current of air brought the great balloon back towards the land
and it made a safe landing in the rear of the Exposition building.



CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS 289

THURSDAY'S ASCENSION

When the time arrived for the next day's flight it was found that the great bal-
loon had lost some of its buoyancy owing to its having stood filled for two days,
and but one passenger could be taken on the proposed trip. The crowd in attend-
ance was even greater than that of the previous day. "Such a thievish, rowdy,
reckless crowd," said the Tribune reporter, in the account published, "belongs
only to a metropolis. New York and Philadelphia alone could otherwise turn out
such snarling and disagreeable proletariats." The car or basket suspended be-
neath the giant balloon was littered with sand bags, and a mass of cordage hung
overhead. Into the basket climbed two newspaper men at first, one of whom was
Newton S. Grimwood, of the Chicago Evening Journal, and the other James Mait-
land of the Post and Mail. It became apparent however that the balloon did not
have sufficient buoyancy to support two passengers and it was decided that Mait-
land should get out. This it is said in some of the accounts was in consequence
of drawing lots to decide who would be the passenger.

At all events Grimwood remained as the sole passenger, and, with Donaldson
as the pilot, the two men began the journey from which they never returned. From
a great height Grimwood could be seen standing upright and waving his hat to
the people below. In a very short time the balloon passed out of sight in the
direction of Lake Michigan over which hung clouds threatening a storm. The wind
was already quite strong blowing towards the northeast, and it continued to in-
crease until later in the evening it blew a hurricane, lasting throughout the night.
The captain of a small schooner, coming into port late in the evening, reported
that at seven o'clock, when off Gross Point, some twelve miles north of Chicago,
and while some thirty miles from the shore, he had seen the balloon dropping its
car once in a while into the lake. The captain headed his schooner in its direc-
tion, but before he could overtake it the balloon, which was bounding along at a
rapid rate on the water, suddenly shot upward, having apparently lost one of its
occupants, and disappeared in the gloom of the night and storm.

The Tribune of the 17th (Saturday) describes the storm of the previous Thurs-
day night as "one of the most sudden and furious gusts that ever occurred at this
season of the year." It was at the close of a hot July day, the wind reached such
a velocity that everything light and movable was swept before it, and the tents of
the hippodrome on the lake front were saved only by taking away their supports
and anchoring the canvas to the ground. In this dreadful storm the ill-fated aero-
nauts were driven to their doom.

THE SEARCH FOR THE LOST BALLOONISTS

By the following Monday, no certain tidings having reached the city, there
were announced several rewards for the finding of the aeronauts, one by the man-
ager of Barnum's Hippodrome of five hundred dollars, one by the Evening Journal
of one hundred dollars, and another by Samuel A. King, a well known aeronaut.
But no definite news arrived from the missing aeronauts, although inquiries were
sent to every port and town on the east shore of the lake. Many reports were
received from passengers on vessels arriving, but none of them resulted in any
definite intelligence. Many theories were advanced, some of them to the effect

Vol. II 19



290 CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS

that the men were probably lost in the woods of Michigan or in Canada. One
man wrote to the paper that perhaps they were marooned on some island in Lake
Michigan, though there are no islands in the lake anywhere within two hundred
miles of the course they could have taken.

The Journal sent a member of its staff to various points along the east shore
of the lake hoping to find either the wreckage of the lost balloon or the bodies
of its occupants, or both; and to investigate the numerous rumors that had been
received. An industrious and painstaking investigation was made, but all efforts
were unsuccessful and at length they were abandoned as hopeless.

Grimwood was a young man i but twenty-two years of age at the time he em-
barked on his venturesome voyage in the ill-fated balloon. He had only recently
become a reporter for the Chicago Evening Journal, having come from Joliet but
a short time before where he had been engaged in newspaper work. His parents
lived at Bristol Station in Kendall County which had been his boyhood home. He
was spoken of as a young man of great promise, and his untimely end was deeply
mourned by all who knew him, and, indeed, the public shared to a remarkable
degree in the grief felt by his relatives and friends.

So deep an impression was made on the public mind by the sad fate of young
Grimwood that at a matinee performance given at the Adelphi theatre a tableau
was prepared of the "Lost Balloon," which became the leading feature.

A MEETING OF PRESS MEMBERS

A meeting of members of the Chicago press was called for the purpose of pass-
ing suitable ' resolutions in memory of young Grimwood, and was held at the of-
fice of the Journal on the 20th of August. In the Tribune's report of the meeting
in the next day's issue we find that Elias Colbert of the Tribune 'was chairman, and
W. K. Sullivan secretary. Others present at the meeting were Guy Magee of the
Inter-Ocean, C. A. Snowden 'of the Times, Andrew Shuman of the Journal, John
F. Finerty of the Tribune, and James Maitland of the Post and Mail, the man who
at the last moment left the balloon before its ascension. Appropriate resolutions
were passed and several persons made addresses. Mr. Shuman spoke highly of
the young reporter who had lost his life in so tragic a manner. He said he was
among those who had seen Grimwood depart with Donaldson, and could never for-
get the impressiveness of the scene. "The youth, after the balloon was cut loose,"
he said, "took a slow, lingering look around, as if conscious that he was taking a
last farewell of life and all that was dear to him. Even those who had not known
young Grimwood personally could not help feeling touched by the lonely and
dreadful circumstances surrounding his fate."

GRIMWOOD'S BODY FOUND

At the time of the meeting of the press representatives spoken of above there
had been no certain intelligence received of the fate of the aeronauts, as we have
seen. But a few days later word was received that a body had been discovered
lying on the beach near Whitehall, Michigan, and that there was no doubt it was
that of young Grimwood. Again a member of the Journal staff, this time Mr. E.
E. Wood, was dispatched to the scene to gather all the facts.



CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS 291

In the issue of the Chicago Weekly Journal of August 25th, the files of which
are preserved in the Newberry Library, are given the results of Mr. Wood's in-
vestigations. Wood's dispatches gave the details of the finding of the body iden-
tified as that of Grimwood. The discovery was made by a mail carrier passing
along the lake shore, and when the body was found a life preserver was fastened
about the waist which was broken and was seen to have no sustaining power. In
the pockets were found letters and cards bearing the unfortunate man's name,
sheets of paper upon which he had commenced to write the account of his trip,
and a watch which had stopped at twenty minutes after eleven o'clock. This gave
the Journal occasion to say, "For the first time in almost five weeks of harrowing
anxiety an affirmative answer can be returned to the question repeated so many
times every day, 'Have you heard from the .lost balloon?'"

Thus after this lapse of time, during which all had been speculation and theory,
not a single fact, other than the report of the schooner's captain who saw the bal-
loon skipping along the surface at seven o'clock in the evening, had been ascer-
tained. People pictured the possibility of Donaldson and Grimwood still alive
and floating about, buoyed up by their life preservers, or wandering in the forests
of Michigan or Canada; but gradually the conviction became general that the"man-
devouring lake," as Lake Michigan was called in an old Indian legend, had en-
gulfed them and left no sign. Professor King, the aeronaut, had held firmly to
the belief that the balloonists were still alive but lost in the wilderness. So had
the managers of the Hippodrome. So widespread had become the interest during
this period of uncertainty that reports came from many points of balloons seen
floating in the air, such reports coming from regions near and remote, even from
as far away as Canada. Every speck in the sky was magnified into a balloon. As
proof of the utter unreliability of these reports not one of the supposed balloons
thus reported ever landed or were afterward heard of. Then came the finding
of bottles enclosing messages, also scraps of cloth imagined to be part of the
wrecked balloon, but all these evidences lacked credibility, and the mystery had
remained as deep as ever until the discovery of poor Grimwood's body.

The body was found, says the report printed in the Journal, "on the Michi-
gan shore near Stony Creek, . . . about fifteen miles from Whitehall," at a
point almost exactly east of Milwaukee. The finder was a mail carrier by the
name of A. Beckwith. The body was divested of the outer clothing and boots,
and a life preserver fastened in place. In one of the pockets a small field glass
was found, a gold watch, and a small fruit knife having engraved on it the in-
itials, "N. S. G." There were also found some notes he had made while in the
balloon. As the words of a man uttered or written in the presence of death pos-
sess a strange and melancholy interest these words, though the writer was at the
time unconscious of impending doom, seemed like a voice from the grave.

The notes were as follows: "From the earliest days of childhood, I have al-
ways had a presentiment that some time sooner or later, I was bound to rise.
There are some people who make sport of presentiments but, after all, a presenti-
ment is a handy thing to have around. Where would I have been to-day if I hadn't
had a presentiment? In accordance with my presentiment, I have risen, as it
were, to a 'point of order.' Like a great many politicians, I rise by means of
gas. I regret the fact that there are only two of us Professor Donaldson and



292 CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS

myself- as I would like to belong to the 'upper ten.' Professor Donaldson seems
to be a very pleasant gentleman, although a philosopher and an aeronaut. Although
it is scarcely an hour since I struggled into eminence, the restraints of my position
are already beginning to be irksome to me and wear upon my spirits. I cannot
help reflecting that if we fall, we fall like Lucifer, out of the heavens, and that
upon our arrival upon earth, or, rather, upon water for we are over the middle
of Lake Michigan we would be literally dead."

Before starting away on the journey Grimwood had remarked that he intended
to write a humorous account of the trip, and this was the manner of its beginning.
It is abruptly broken off, interrupted in all probability by the threatening storm
and the impending danger.

Mr. Wood had the remains of young Grimwood brought to Chicago where thev
were taken in charge by his grief stricken father, Mr. William Grimwood, who
accompanied them to his home at Bristol Station, Kendall county, Illinois, where
they were laid in the village burying ground.

No positive evidence of the fate of Professor Donaldson was ever discovered.
A report was received of a body seen floating in the lake, but nothing further was
ascertained in regard to it, nor was anything seen of the balloon itself. Diligent
search was made along the shore where Grimwood's body had been - found but
without result.

An item in an issue of the Journal some months later makes this sarcastic ref-
erence to the tragic event: "Barnum is going round telling people about 'The
World, and How to Live in It.' The way not to live in it is to go up in one of his
balloons."



CHAPTER XXXVI

RAILROAD RIOTS OF 1877

HARVEY D. COLVIN ELECTED MAYOR REFUSES TO YIELD OFJFICE TO SUCCESSOR

HOYNE DE FACTO MAYOR MONROE HEATH ELECTED HARD TIMES OF THE MIDDLE

SEVENTIES PITTSBURGH STRIKES CONDITIONS AT CHICAGO MASS MEETING OF

WOHKINGMEN INCENDIARY SPEECHES STREETS THRONGED BY CROWDS AU-
THORITIES LOSE CONTROL OF SITUATION MENACING CONDUCT OF MOBS INADE-
QUATE POLICE FORCE VIGOROUS MEASURES RESORTED TO PROPOSED MEETING ON

WEDNESDAY EVENING PREVENTED BATTLE AT THE ROUND HOUSE VOLLEYS AND

CHARGES MOBS AT HALSTED STREET VIADUCT MASS MEETING OF CITIZENS CON-
FLICTS CONTINUED AT THE VIADUCT TURNER HALL ON TWELFTH STREET MOBS

GATHER IN THE STREET CHARGED BY THE POLICE REFUGE SOUGHT IN THE HALL

RIOTERS COMPLETELY ROUTED ARRIVAL OF UNITED STATES TROOPS STRIKE

ENDED AND ORDER RESTORED WARM PRAISE FOR THE POLICE COMMERCIAL CLUB

OF CHICAGO LIST OF CHARTER MEMBERS MERCHANTS CLUB UNITES WITH THE

COMMERCIAL CLUB RECORD OF WORK DONE BY THE CLUB OLIVER WENDELL

HOLMES' POEM ON CHICAGO.

THE POLITICAL SITUATION IN 1875 AND 1876

PARVEY D. COLVIN was elected mayor of the city on November 4th,
1873, and in the usual course his term would have expired in November,
1875. But the question of the reorganization of the city under the gen-
eral incorporation act of the State having been submitted to the people
at an election held April 23rd, 1875, and carried affirmatively, operated
to keep the mayor in office until the third Tuesday in April of the following year,
the date fixed by the new charter for holding the municipal elections.

When the time came for the elections to be held in the spring of 1876, the
Council passed an order for the election of city officials to be held, but omitted to
mention in the list the office of mayor. Colvin set up the claim that as there
was no vote for mayor provided for he was entitled to hold the office until the next
date for a city election, that is until the spring of 1877.

The people became much excited over this proposed act of usurpation, and at
a mass meeting convened at the Exposition building, attended by some twenty-five
thousand citizens, it was resolved that a mayor should be elected, and Hon. Thomas
Hoyne was named as the candidate. On election day Hoyne, being the only can-
didate, received 33,064 votes, with only 819 scattering votes opposed. Excepting
for the mayoralty, there were two complete tickets in the field, of which one was

293




294 CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS

the Colvin or Democratic ticket, while the other was the Municipal Reform or
Opposition ticket. The latter ticket won.

In passing upon the election returns the Council refused to recognize the
vote for mayor. But on the following 8th of May the newly elected aldermen took
their seats, and the opposition being now in the majority, the vote for mayor was
canvassed and Hoyne was declared elected. One of the most exciting and hazard-
ous periods in the history of the city government now ensued. Mr. Hoyne waited
on the "hold over mayor" at the old City Hall, known as "The Rookery," and de-
manded that he surrender the office of mayor. This Mr. Colvin declined to do.
The mayor's office was guarded by police and a serious conflict between the rival
bodies of supporters seemed imminent. On the 18th of May Mr. Hoyne assumed
the chair as presiding officer of the Council. He was recognized by all the de-
partments except those of the Police and Comptroller. The dispute of authority
was finally referred to the courts where the case was decided in favor of Colvin. A
short time later the Council issued a call for a special election for July 12th. At
this election Monroe Heath received a large majority of the votes cast and he
entered upon the duties of his office without further opposition.

THE ADMINISTRATION OF MONROE HEATH

Monroe Heath was mayor of the city from July 12th, 1876, to the spring of 1879.
Heath was a man of the rough and ready type often found among the western pioneers,
a man distinguished by a certain simplicity and directness that won him a high meas-
ure of confidence among his fellow townsmen, which he gained especially while filling
the office of alderman from the Twelfth ward for several years. Although possessed
of slight educational equipment himself Heath recognized the value of trained and
able men among his associates in the administration, though generally independent
in his judgment. His aim was to maintain the financial credit of the city through
a stormy period, and though lacking in initiative he was a force for a conservative
policy when determined and systematic retrenchment was found necessary.

One keen observer said of him, "he gets through by main strength and awkward-
ness," and while it was no doubt true that a brilliant man in his position might have
accomplished more than he did, his steady resistance to what he considered unreason-
able popular demands was of more value than a so-called "forward policy" could
have been under the circumstances. In the extreme test to which he was exposed
during the railroad riots which occurred while he was mayor, he was subjected to
much criticism for his failure to act promptly in suppressing lawlessness and dis-
order. But though slow to realize the danger he took vigorous measures when once
aroused, appealed to the governor of the state for troops, and called on the citizens
to form themselves into armed organizations to assist the authorities.

At the end of his term of service Mayor Heath retired to private life with the
esteem and favorable regard of the great body of his fellow citizens. Mr. Heath
died at Asheville, North Carolina, October 21st, 189-1, at the age of sixty-seven years.

The causes of the riots above referred to and an account of the accompanying
incidents will be given in the following paragraphs:



CHICAGO: ITS HISTORY AND ITS BUILDERS 295

THE RAILROAD RIOTS OF 1877

The two or three years following the panic of 1873 were marked by much pri-
vation and suffering among the classes which depend upon employment in manufac-
turing and other industries to provide for their living necessities. The winter of
1873-4 was "one of the hardest in the history of Chicago," says John J. Flinn in his
"History of the Chicago Police." The streets were constantly thronged with idlers
and persons not able to procure employment. "But the hard times had not yet seri-
ously affected the morals of the people," and it was not until after two or three years
of pinching poverty among the classes referred to that the strain reached the break-
ing point, and disorders and outrages occurred with great and alarming frequency.

Where employment was to be had wages were low, and in the case of the rail-
roads generally the former wages of employes were reduced. This produced much
discontent and strikes began to take place at some of the great railroad centers.
"Early in the month of July, 1877," says Flinn, "telegrams were printed in the Chi-
cago papers announcing that small bodies of employes, here and there, along the
line of the Baltimore & Railroad, were quitting work. These dispatches were
quite brief, and simply announced that there were differences between the men and
the company as to the question of wages, and for the most part were hidden away
under single headlines, at the bottom of inside columns." We must remember that
Flinn was himself a newspaper man, and his point of view is that of an editor on
one of the great dailies. "There was something, however," he continues, "about
these telegrams which struck the telegraph editors of the different papers as being
peculiar, to say the least. From a three or four line announcement at the start, they
gained in length daily, until at the end of a week twenty lines were consumed.

"The burden of these dispatches was that the employes of the company were dis-
contented with their lot, that many were throwing up their jobs, and that the trouble
was inclined to spread rather than to subside as the days passed. But little atten-
tion was paid to the news here. If it was read at all, it was looked upon simply as
a trivial matter, unworthy of more consideration than is usually given to the vast
number of unimportant telegrams which are printed daily in the newspapers. But
the 'B. & O. trouble,' as it came to be called, would persist in parading itself before
the public. The three line telegram expanded into a twenty-five line dispatch, grew
until it occupied a quarter of a column, and then until it attained the dignity of a
displayed head.

"More than that, it was accompanied now by telegrams from different points in
the Baltimore & Ohio system. Then came the more startling information that the
'B. & O. trouble' had spread to the Pennsylvania and other lines, and now the public
began to take a livelier interest in the situation. Almost as quick as a flash this
news was followed by the information, on July 10th, that a gigantic railroad strike,



Online LibraryJ. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) CurreyChicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth (Volume v.2) → online text (page 40 of 55)