J. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) Currey.

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indicated by extended occupancy, was confined almost, if not entirely, to the
tribes of the Illinois and the Pottawatomies."

"It must be borne in mind that Chicago was as important a point to the In-
dian as it has since been to the white man, partly on account of the portage lead-
ing to the Desplaines river; and, as the lake was the great water highway, so
also was its western shore an important highway for these Indian tribes when
they traveled by land."




The first white men to see this region of country, of whom we have any record,
were those in the party of Joliet and Marquette. That party passed by these
shores on their northward journey in September, 1673. It will be remembered
that Joliet and Marquette had a few weeks before discovered the Upper Missis-
sippi, which they had reached by way of the Wisconsin rivers, and were now making
their way back to their starting point at Green Bay through the Illinois, Des-
plaines and Chicago rivers, and thus into Lake Michigan.

The following year Marquette returned to the Illinois country in fulfillment
of a promise he had made to the Illinois Indians that he would visit them again.
Marquette was accompanied on this journey by two Frenchmen, a band of Potta-
wattomies and another band of Illinois, ten canoes in all. This imposing flotilla
reached the Chicago River on the 4th of December, 1674. Of special interest to
us in this connection, however, is the entry made in Marquette's journal of the
day previous, which is as follows: "December 3d, After saying holy mass, we
embarked and were compelled to make for a point, so that we could land, on
account of floating masses of ice."

Mr. Grover, in his address above referred to, identified the "Point" mentioned
in the journal with Gross Point, the present situation of the lighthouse. The
journal says that the party reached the "river of the Portage," that is, the Chi-
cago River, on the 4th, and, the distance being about thirteen miles, this stage
of the journey would naturally be made in the course of the next day. A glance
at a map, showing the shore line of this portion of the coast, will satisfy any one
that Marquette was, without doubt, the first white man to set foot on the site of


In the year 1696, Father Pierre Francois Pinet, a Jesuit missionary priest,
established the "Mission of the Guardian Angel" at a point on the western shore
of Lake Michigan, which Mr. Grover has proved to have been located on an inland
lake on the site of the swampy tract now known as the "Skokie," some two miles
west of the present village of Wilmette. This lake has disappeared in the inter-
vening lapse of years. In St. Cosme's account, given by Shea in his work "Early
Mississippi Voyages," this intrepid traveler and missionary says that he and his
party, having followed the western shore of Lake Michigan from Green Bay to
a point still five leagues distant from the Chicago River, to which they were
bound, could proceed no farther. It was late in October, and the weather having
become stormy the party disembarked at about the same point, apparently, that
Marquette had done many years before. This voyage of St. Cosme's was made
two years after the establishment of Father Pinet's mission in 1696.

"We had considerable difficulty in getting ashore," writes St. Cosme, "and
saving our canoes. We had to throw everything into the water. This is a thing
which you must take good care of along the lakes, and especially on Lake Michi-
gan, the shores of which are very flat, to land soon when the water swells from
the lake, for the breakers get so large in a short time that the canoes are in
risk of going to pieces and losing all on board; several travelers have already
been wrecked there. We went by land ... to the house of the Reverend


Jesuit Fathers, our people staying with the baggage. We found there Rev. Father
Pinet and Rev. Father Buinateau. ... I cannot explain to you, Monseigneur,
[this account is contained in a letter to the Bishop of Quebec] with what cordiality
and marks of esteem these reverend Jesuit Fathers received and caressed us dur-
ing the time that we had the consolation of staying with them.

"Their house is built on the banks of a small lake, having the lake on one
side and a fine large prairie on the other. The Indian village is of over one
hundred and fifty cabins, and one league on the river there is another village
almost as large. They are both of the Miamis. Father Pinet makes it his
ordinary residence except in winter, when the Indians all go hunting.
We saw no Indians there, they had already started for their hunt."

The "Mission of the Guardian Angel" is thus determined to have been located
on the "Skokie," somewhat north and west of the present city limits of Evanston,
within a few hundred yards of the Catholic church of the present village of
Gross Point. It is on a spot as nearly as may be determined by these evidences
that Mr. Grover has proposed that a tablet shall be erected, to commemorate the
historical interest of the locality. The Mission of the Guardian Angel was aban-
doned a year or two after St. Cosme's visit owing to the opposition of the Canadian
authorities. No trace of the mission is in existence at the present day.


"The primeval beauty of that ancient forest that stood on the western shore
of Lake Michigan immediately north of Chicago, and covering the ground that
now constitutes the northern portion of the city of Evanston and the village of
Wilmette, has passed away. Many of its towering elms and great oaks that have
stood for centuries of time remain to indicate in some measure what was the real
beauty of that forest in the days when this Illinois country was unknown to white

Thus writes Mr. Frank R. Grover, to whom we are indebted for the material
gathered by him in the course of his researches on the subject with which we
are here concerned. "The Ouilmette Reservation and its former occupants and
owners," says Grover, "have been the subject of much solicitude and investiga-
tion, not entirely for historical purposes, but more especially that the white man
might know that he had a good white man's title to the Indian's land."

"The Reservation takes its name from its original owner, Archange Ouilmette,
wife of Antoine Ouilmette, described in the original Treaty and Patent from the
United States, as a Pottawattomie woman. The name given the village Wil-
mette originates from Antoine himself and from the phonetic spelling of the
French name 'Ouilmette,' and is said upon good authority to have been first sug-
gested as the name of the village by Judge Henry W. Blodgett, late of Wau-
kegan, who was interested in the very early real estate transactions of the village."

Of Ouilmette, Grover says, "This striking figure in our local history, and in
the very early history of Chicago, is sadly neglected in most, if not all, the his-
torical writings. Almost every one in this locality knows that the Village of
Wilmette was named after him; many misinformed people speak of Ouilmette as
an Indian chief; a few of the writers merely mention his name as one of the earlv


settlers of Chicago, and that has been the beginning and end of his written

Antoine Ouilmette was at one time in the service of the American Fur Com-
pany, and afterwards in that of John Kinzie at Chicago, and, at different times,
Indian trader, hunter, and farmer. He married the Pottawattomie woman,
Archange, about 1797, as it appears, at Gross Point, where he had found a tem-
porary domicile among his Indian friends; although he did not permanently settle
there until about the year 1829, as we shall presently see. Ouilmette had a family
of eight children. The treaty of Prairie du Chien, dated July 29, 1829, included
a grant among its other provisions, "to Archange Ouilmette, a Pottawattomie
woman, wife of Antoine Ouilmette, two sections [of land] for herself and her
children, on Lake Michigan, south of and adjoining the northern boundary of
the cession herein made by the Indians aforesaid to the United States.
The tracts of land herein stipulated to be granted shall never be leased or con-
veyed by the grantees, or their heirs, to any person whatever, without the per-
mission of the President of the United States." Such permission was obtained
in later years, and all the lands of the "Reservation" have passed into the hands
of other grantees.

The tract known as the "Wilmette Reservation" extended from a point a little
south of Kenilworth (using names familiar to us at the present day) to Central
street, in the city of Evanston, with the lake as its eastern boundary, and ex-
tending westward some distance beyond the Chicago & North- Western railway.
Thus some three hundred acres of the Reservation are within the present limits
of the city of Evanston, and the remainder within those of Wilmette village.

When Ouilmette came to take up his permanent residence on the Reservation,
he built a substantial log cabin "on the high bluffs on the lake shore, opposite,
or a little north of Lake avenue, in the present village of Wilmette." The site
on which this cabin stood has long since been washed away, owing to the en-
croachments of the lake along, that shore, though the cabin itself had already been
torn down and its material scattered. A view of the cabin has been drawn by
Mr. Charles P. Westerfield from his recollection of its appearance, and is printed
as a frontispiece in Mr. Grover's pamphlet, entitled "Antoine Ouilmette," from
which we have so freely quoted.


Proper acknowledgment should here be made of Mr. Grover's service to the
cause of local history, especially that part of it which has to do with the aboriginal
occupation, and down to and inclusive of Ouilmette's appearance upon the scene.
Mr. Grover's researches have been thorough, and he has established the history
of the region on a firm and lasting foundation. Referring to the visits of Fathers
Marquette and St. Cosme, the records had indeed shown the details from the
time of the ancient writings in the "Jesuit Relations" and elsewhere, but it
remained for Grover to point out, in this day of the growing importance of North
Shore history, the special interest which these episodes possessed to the his-
torians of the present day.



When the Black Hawk war closed, in 1832, the region lying north of Chicago
was an unbroken forest. For the purposes of the settlers, who soon after began
to arrive at Chicago in great numbers, the region which we call the North Shore
was not as attractive as the open prairie country to the west and south. It is
well to remember that the southern portion of the State of Illinois was settled
long before the northern portion was. The accessibility of the southern portion
of the state to the river systems of the Ohio and Mississippi rendered it easy for
the earlier settlers to come from the East by way of those rivers and take up
lands near their banks. Gradually the settlements extended inland, and when
Illinois was admitted as a state in 1818, with a population of fifty thousand,
there were yet scarcely any settlements in the northern portion, which still re-
mained practically in the same condition as it was known to the explorers.


A brief review of conditions at Chicago at this time will enable the reader
to form a better idea of that portion of its history we are to outline in these

At the time of the Black Hawk war in 1832 the entrance to the Chicago
River had become a convenient landing place for vessels on the lakes, though
it was as yet an open roadstead. It was not until some years later that the
government dredged out the channel so as to permit larger vessels to enter the
river. Steamers, however, had begun to ply the lakes at this period, and a few
years later, in 1839, a regular line of steamers was established connecting Buffalo
and Chicago. The year 1832, in which the Black Hawk war occurred, was an
epoch in the history of Chicago and the regions surrounding it because of the
great influx of troops and supplies at this point, under the direction of the gov-
ernment, thus establishing a route which was followed by settlers afterwards when
seeking entrance to the fertile prairie lands and woodlands of this portion of
the state of Illinois, and the territory of Wisconsin to the north. The war it-
self was little more than a series of skirmishes with the Indians who were finally
driven across the Mississippi, and they troubled the country no more. The
accounts of the war caused an immense sensation everywhere throughout the
country, and after its conclusion very important consequences followed. The
attention of the country was called to the advantages in the soil and climate pos-
sessed by Illinois. The officers and men of the army, on their return from the
campaign throughout the northern portion of Illinois and Wisconsin, brought home
with them wonderful accounts of the country, and settlers began to arrive in a
constantly increasing stream which soon became a tide.


An active movement of settlers began from the eastern states, Ohio, Penn-
sylvania, New York state and from farther east. Thus there was an entirely
different class of settlers arriving in this region from that which had moved into
the southern portion of the state, the latter of whom came largely from Kentucky


and Virginia. Chicago began to grow rapidly and to become important as a depot
of supplies for the settlers moving out to the country to the west.

While the importance of Chicago as a trading center for the surrounding ter-
ritory began to be apparent to many far-seeing individuals, other places seemed
preferable to most of the arriving settlers as places of residence and permanent
settlement. There were places south and west of this point which were thought
to have advantages superior to the wretched little settlement on the low flat lands
at the mouth of the Chicago River.

However, the course of events during the Black Hawk war had clearly shown
the importance of this point as a base of supplies, and likewise its natural ad-
vantages as a trading point. During the progress of that war, there was landed
at Fort Dearborn the force of United States regulars to the number of one thou-
sand men under General Winfield Scott, which took part in the campaign. After
the hostile Indians had been driven out of the state the few frightened settlers
who had taken refuge at the fort returned to their holdings. Chicago began to
increase in population after this time, and, in 1835, there were some fifteen hun-
dred inhabitants, though the importance of the place was much greater than
might be inferred from its small population.


Few of the new arrivals from the east, however, remained at Chicago. It
was "too uninviting," one relates. Its aspect was forbidding, and immigrants
moved on to more attractive locations. A postoffice had been established in 1831,
and for some time afterward the entire country for fifty miles around became
tributary to Chicago for its postal facilities. Thus the prairie lands to the west
were rapidly taken up, and it was not until the middle "thirties" that settlers
began to turn their attention to the wooded regions lying to the north.

But even in the "twenties" there were occasional instances of occupation of
the country towards the north. A mail route between the military posts at Green
Bay and Chicago, over which a carrier passed once a month, was in use as early
as 1825. About this time a man named John K. Clark, generally known as
"Indian Clark," built a cabin some distance up on the Xorth Branch, at North-
field, a few miles west of where Winnetka now stands, and devoted himself to
hunting and horse trading. Archibald Clybourn had a farm and slaughtering
establishment about four miles up the North Branch, near the spot now known
as Clybourn Junction, and furnished vegetables and meat to the military post at
Fort Dearborn. Clybourn's farm for a long time was the limit of settlement
to the north. "Indian Clark" was a half brother of Archibald Clybourn. He
was often seen by the pioneers, going through the woods from one point to an-
other leading a string of ponies, one tied to another's tail, and on their backs would
be seen deer and other game which he had secured as he came along. He was
a picturesque character and he is often encountered in the early annals of this
region. Indeed, there is material enough in the career of "Indian Clark" to fill
many a page of romance and story.



On August 26, 1826, Stephen J. Scott and his family arrived in the schooner
"Sheldon" off Gross Point, as the locality now known as Evanston was then
called. Casting anchor, Mr. Scott went ashore in a small boat to view the place.
He had been a seafaring man on the Atlantic coast, but had determined to seek
a new home in the western country. At Buffalo oh his way westward he had pro-
cured the schooner to convey his goods by lake. He had no destination especially
in mind, and in passing Gross Point was attracted by the beauty of the place.

Well pleased with the outlook at this point, and deciding to settle here, he
brought his goods ashore, and left the schooner in charge of her captain. He
built "a rude habitation of posts, poles and blankets," which may be said to
have been the first civilized dwelling on the spot we now call Evanston. Mr.
Scott's son, Willard Scott, who was eighteen years old at the time of the land-
ing, three years afterward became the first settler of Naperville, having married
a young woman whose parents lived in that neighborhood. Some few years later
still, in 1838, the elder Scott followed his son to Naperville, and his history
henceforth belongs to that of Du Page County.


A point of land forming an obtuse angle projects into the lake about thir-
teen miles north of the mouth of the Chicago River, and here the land rises into
bluffs of a moderate height. This was called Gross Point by the early voyageurs,
and in common with many other names up and down the lakes also of French
origin, the name has remained as a picturesque remnant of the period when all
this extensive lake region was a part of the dominion of the French kings. The
wooded shores of the lake wore a lovely aspect to the passing voyageur or sailor,
and Gross Point especially loomed up as a most attractive spot and became known
by the romantic name of "Beauty's Eyebrow." The point, however, was a place
to be dreaded in storm and darkness, and there is a long list of wrecks and losses
of life associated with its history. In 1874 a tall lighthouse with a revolving
light was built by the government and now serves as a landmark and guide to the

The name of Gross Point, as applied to this portion of the North shore, is
in use almost exclusively by lake navigators at the present time. In the early
time the name became applied to the entire surrounding region, and it was known
legally as the "Gross Point Voting District." In 18-16, a postoffice was established
here with the name of Gross Point. The general locality also became popularly
known as the "Ridge," and when a township came to be formed in 1850, it was
called Ridgeville township, and about the same time the name of the postoffice
was changed from Gross Point to Ridgeville, the residents at whose instance the
change was made, evidently regarding the latter as a more euphonious name.

The name, Gross Point, being of French origin should, if correctly written
in French, have a final e at the end of both words. There is a Grosse Pointe,
thus written, near Detroit, a name having a similar derivation meaning a high
point of land, in the spelling of which the final e is retained in both words.
The general usage here is to spell the two words without the final vowel on either.



About 1834, a man named Abraham Hathaway built a cabin within the limits
of the present city, of Evanston, at the southeast corner of Grove street and Chicago
avenue, just inside the small park known as Raymond Park. It was a log house
as most of the houses were at that time. Here he kept liquor for sale, and the
place soon became the headquarters of counterfeiters and fugitives from justice,
and generally speaking, a vile resort. Up to within a few years the spot was
marked by a number of old willow trees, since cut away. There is no vestige
of the building left now, however. Some of the old pioneers remember Hatha-
way and his cabin distinctly.

A strange story is told by the old settlers which strongly hints at a tragedy.
One evening a peddler with a horse and wagon stopped at Hathaway's. In
the morning it was observed that the man had disappeared, but the horse and
wagon as well as the peddler's goods still remained at Hathaway's place. In
answer to questions Hathaway explained that he had bought the peddler's outfit
and the man himself had gone on his way afoot. The next day Hathaway was
seen filling up a fine well of water, and when asked why he did it, said that the
water was bad and he was going to dig another, which he did accordingly. Some-
time in the early "forties" Hathaway left these parts, and the story of the peddler's
disappearance and possible murder aroused so much interest, that some of the
residents got together and thought they would find out for themselves if there
was any truth in the story, then having become widely circulated, of the peddler's
being buried in the well. A party armed themselves with picks and shovels and
began digging out the well which it was seen had been thoroughly filled and cov-
ered. They proceeded with the excavation until they came to a mass of stones,
sticks and rough filling material. About this time they began to think they were
on the eve of solving a mystery which might involve them all in a lot of legal com-
plications, long journeys to the city and possible detentions as witnesses. So they
came to the conclusion that they had better go no farther in the matter, and ac-
cordingly the party shouldered their shovels and picks and went to their homes,
leaving the mystery as deep as ever.

Mr. B. F. Hill, however, who remembered him well, testifies that Hathaway
had neighborly traits and was held in esteem by some of the early settlers. He
says that Hathaway kept a stock of pigs, and gave out word among the newly
arrived settlers that to each one of those who would come to his cabin on a certain
day he would give a young pig as long as his supply lasted. The Hill family
were thus enabled to make a start in live stock raising, so important to the wel-
fare of the pioneer farmers. But Hathaway, although under a cloud of suspicion
due to his strange and apparently lawless life, returned again in a few years
and was a resident of the neighborhood in 1850, at which time he became a
member of the party that crossed the plains to California, as we shall see farther
on in this history.


In the year 1835, Major Edward H. Mulford came to Chicago and engaged
in the jewelry business with his son James who had preceded him a year. Mul-


ford's jewelry store was one of the first, if not the first, of its kind in Chicago.
It is an interesting fact that Major Mulford obtained his title of "Major" by
virtue of a commission as paymaster in the New York state militia, signed by
Governor De Witt Clinton of New York, and dated 1826. This document is
now in the possession of the Evanston Historical Society. Soon after his arrival
in Chicago, Major Mulford "took up" one hundred and sixty acres of land within
the present limits of the city of Evanston, on the Ridge road opposite Calvary,
and upon this tract he erected a rough board cabin. He did not live in this
house or cabin until two years later, it being occupied at first by the Hill family,
as we shall presently see.

Settlers began to arrive in the following year in rapidly increasing numbers.
During the year 1836, came George and Paul Pratt, John and James Carney,
James B. -Colvin, Henry Clarke and others. Also came that year Arunah Hill

Online LibraryJ. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) CurreyChicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth (Volume v.2) → online text (page 43 of 55)