Newman Hall.

From Liverpool to St. Louis online

. (page 9 of 16)
Online LibraryNewman HallFrom Liverpool to St. Louis → online text (page 9 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

in ambuscade. Many of the party were massacred,
and the remainder kept in captivity till ransomed.

In 1818 only two white families resided at Chicago.
In 1 83 1 about a dozen families constituted, with the
officers and small garrison, the entire population. In
that year there was a great event, for the schooner
Marengo arrived from Detroit, anchoring out in the
lake. This was the commencement of Chicago com-
merce. There was no post office ; but once in two
weeks an Indian was sent to Niles, in Michigan, to
bring all the letters and papers, the journey occupying
six or seven days. The first religious meetings were
held weekly in the fort by a few members of the
Methodist Church, generally the first pioneer of
American evangelization. In 1S32 Chicago was
threatened by a large party of Indians, under " Black
Hawk," who ravaged the neighbouring settlements,
and murdered many of the Whites. The fort of
Chicago was crowded with fugitives. In this year the
first lot of cattle (200 head) ever packed in Chicago
were slaughtered by a Mr. Dole. They cost him us.
per cwt. He also packed 350 hogs, for which he

Chicago. 141

paid 12s. per cwt. This was the commencement of
the enormous trade now carried on in beef and
pork. In 1854 it had amounted to ^300,000 per
annum. In 1832 the total rates were 357 dollars.
In 1854 they were 380,809 dols. ; and as the city is
four times the size now, the present rates doubtless
exceed 1,500,000 dols. In 1833 the "Town of
Chicago " was formally constituted, at the first election
of five Trustees. The total number of electors was
twenty-eight. This town of Chicago is, therefore,
only thirty-six years old. The 26th of September of
the same year is an important date, for a treaty was
signed with the Pottawotamie Indians, 7,000 of whom
had assembled, and who ceded to the United States
all their territory in Northern Illinois and Wisconsin,
amounting to twenty million acres. Growth now
became rapid. Between April and September, 1834,
150 vessels discharged their cargoes. But the city
was still a mere camp in the woods. Bears some-
times invaded its precincts, and many wolves prowled
round the log-huts at night. A great hunt was got
up, and the results of the day's sport were one bear
and forty wolves.

In 1835 the population had increased to above

142 Chicago.

3,000. The grand Illinois and Michigan Canal was
now commenced. By the Illinois river it unites the
waters of the Mississippi with those of Lake Michigan.
The size of the canal allows sailing-vessels of large
tonnage to perform the voyage from New Orleans to
Chicago, and thence to Buffalo, Quebec, and the
Atlantic. This canal gave an immense impetus to
commerce, and in six years the town trebled its popu-
lation. The following numbers of population are a
brief and emphatic history : — In 1830 a dozen
families, amongst savages and wolves; in 1840, 4,000;
1846, 14,000; 1850, 28,000; 1853, 60,000; i868 ?

The character of the people of Chicago is influenced
by its history. " Go-ahead " is written on almost
every countenance, seen in almost every action, heard
in almost every conversation. The people of Chicago
naturally think that " they are the people ! " They
quite look down upon the old folks of Boston, and
even of New York, as behind the age. Travellers
have not seen America who don't go to Chicago.
The cities of the eastern shore are but its suburbs.
Instead of Chicago being " far west," it is the centre
of civilization, the fountain of progress. Would you

Chicago. ^3

know the true genius of America ? Go to Chicago !
Would you see how business should be transacted ?
Go to Chicago ! Would you learn how to perform
impossibilities ? Go to Chicago ! Would you ascer-
tain the direction that political questions will take ?
Ask the people of Chicago ! And if you desire an
example of benevolence and religious zeal in building
churches, providing schools, conducting young men's
Christian Associations— then, also, go to Chicago !

To return to my personal reminiscences. Early on
Monday morning we were honoured by a call from
Mr. Bross, the Lieutenant-Governor of Illinois. He
is the proprietor and chief editor of the principal
newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, and a man of remark-
able intelligence and energy. The result of his visit
was advantageous, as we at once were accommodated
with better quarters, though our remonstrances with
the manager had hitherto been unavailing. Mr. Bross
placed his carriage, and, still better, himself, at our
service for the inspection of the town.

The first thing noticeable is that the pavements are
about six feet higher than the roads. How is this ?
The town was built on low flat land. Difficulty was
found in draining; a sufficient fall could not be

144 Chicago.

secured. So it was resolved to lift up the houses.
One special "block" was pointed out to me. There
were about a dozen very large hotels and warehouses,
six or seven stories high, and solidly built of stone.
The walls at the bottom having been cut from the
foundation, 10,000 jacks were placed below. One
man was stationed to every six, and at an appointed
signal every man gave his six screws half a turn.
Then the whole block imperceptibly but surely rose
up. It was all done so quietly that business was not
suspended for a moment ; the dining and sleeping at
the hotels going on without interruption, most of the
guests perhaps unaware how they were being elevated.
The pavements had, of course, to be raised on a level
with the doors, and, when walking, we were frequently
reminded of the warning, "use your intellect," as a
fall of many feet into the roadway would be the result
of a sudden attempt to cross over to the shops on the
opposite side, or of not observing the steps at the end
of every block, by which passengers descend into the
street, to mount again on the other side of the

As the city spreads it is often found desirable to
remove buildings in order to raise others more suited


W>. 145

to the site. But the old buildings must not be
wasted or injured. How can the difficulty be met?
It is almost the case of the Irish magistrates who, it
is said, passed a resolution to build a new gaol from
the materials of the old one; and another resolution,
that the old gaol should not be pulled down till the
new one was ready. Almost, but not quite. The
people of Chicago put the old gaol on rollers and
take it off elsewhere, prisoners and all • so that the
new one can be erected on the site of the old, and
yet the old gaol not be taken down. I was told of a
church, steeple included, which was thus taken from
one end of the city to the other. I saw a specimen
of house-removal in the town of Buffalo. A wooden
dwelling, three stories high, was slowly passing along
a street, entirely filling it, the trees of the avenue
being injured by the house tearing off many branches
on its way. A woman was nursing a baby at an
upper window, calmly surveying the scene as she
passed along. The method was as follows. A strong
rope was fastened to the bottom of the house, and
was wound, by a single horse, round a windlass which
was planted in the middle of the street. A number
of men were at work conveying the rollers from the


146 Chicago.

rear to the front. From time to time the windlass
was planted farther up the street as the house
advanced. Of course, for the time, all other traffic
was stopped in the street thus occupied. I was glad
to witness for myself what might have seemed an
exaggeration. This is a frequent occurrence in

Chicago is, perhaps, the largest emporium for grain
in the world. Our honourable guide said, " You may-
go 200 miles through the prairie, and never be out of
sight of corn-fields." He took us to see one of those
great buildings for the warehousing of grain, called
" Elevators." It could hold a million bushels. The
grain, on being shovelled in from the waggon, is
lifted by an endless chain of buckets to the very top
of the building, nearly 100 feet. There it enters
various bins, where it is weighed, and by troughs,
which are placed in all directions and are moveable,
descends into other bins, where it is stored. When
it is to be sent out, it is raised as before, and weighed
again, for the weight diminishes in proportion to
quality and age. It weighs itself, for in descending
it is arrested by a valve, which gives way when a
certain quantity has accumulated, and lets the grain

Chicago. 147

down while the supply is stopped. The machine is

self-registering. The grain then descends by the

moveable troughs to the hold of the ship alongside.

A large vessel may receive its entire cargo in one

hour. I copy a statement given me of the receipts

and shipments of grain during forty-eight hours, with

the corresponding quantities on the same date of the

preceding year : —

1847. 1846.

Flour io,853 barrels 8,951

Wheat 135.573 bushels 132,340

Corn (maize) 148,480 ,, 143,240

Oats I33.0H >> 38,145

Rye 16,086 ,, 10,050

Barley ... 39,428 ,, 8,498

Grass seed 1,370 lbs. 133,355

We drove to the new water-works. Half a mile
out in the lake a shaft is sunk, where the water is
35 feet deep. The shaft descends 50 feet below the
bed of the lake, and rises 20 feet above it, i.e., within
15 feet of the surface. The water, supposed to be
most free from all impurities at this depth, here enters
the open shaft. On the shore another shaft is sunk
of 90 feet, thus giving 5 feet fall. The tunnel along
which the water flows has 50 feet of clay and mud
above it. It is thus safe from injury by ships

148 Chicago.

and anchors. An engine of 800-horse power sends
the water to the top of a lofty tower, whence it is
distributed all over the town. This water-supply is
estimated as sufficient for two millions of people, a
population which Chicago will possess in twenty
years, at the same ratio of increase as at present.

There is another water-supply, which came un-
expectedly. An artesian well was sunk for petroleum
oil. When a depth of 700 feet had been reached,
water gushed forth. It is said that the spring thus
discovered is of itself sufficient for the supply of

We were shown an interesting relic of the late war,
in the shape of some tattered flags which had been
carried by the Chicago contingent. One of these, of
which little was left but the staff, had been carried by
eight men successively in one battle. The first who
held it was six feet seven inches high. The very first
shot fired killed him; he was too good a mark.
Another man caught the flag ; he, too, was struck
down. Then another and another followed, the flag
never touching the ground. The citizens at home
did not forget those in the front. One day a mes-
senger came on 'Change telling of the necessities of

Chicago. 149

the army. Within, an hour dollars were pouring in by
thousands, and that evening a heavy luggage-train
went off, conveying all sorts of stores to " the brave
boys in the front." The bodies of those of the
Chicago regiments who fell in battle were brought
home to be buried.

As we drove about, the Lieut-Governor enter-
tained us with much interesting information, personal
and local. His father was a rich man — rich only in
this, that he had nine boys and two girls. He him-
self had risen gradually from nowhere to his present
position. He had a brother who commanded a
regiment of negro troops in the siege of Richmond.
He led them into the breach made by the explosion
of the mine at Petersburg!!, but, owing to some error
of the generals, the order was too long delayed, and
the enemy had time to prepare. His brother was
shot down among his coloured soldiers, who behaved
with the utmost gallantry. Most were killed; few
came out unscathed. In illustration of the rapid
increase in the value of land, he told us that a friend
of his bought 14 acres for 7,000 dols., andjvvithin
eight months sold the plot for twice that sum. He
himself had bought \oo> feet of land in the city for

150 Chicago.

25,000 dols., which he could have sold for 50,000
within the year. Coal was found 175 feet below the
surface. Illinois was full of coal, and in a hundred
years would supply the Britishers. He was evidently
a lover and patron of the fine arts. The ceiling of
a large reception-room in his private house was
adorned with an elaborate fresco-painting, Agricul-
ture being represented on one side, Commerce (by-
ships and railways) on the other. There were several
good pictures of scenes in California which he
had visited, and gigantic trees he had himself mea-
sured. There was a view of the Yo Semite Valley,
where the rocks are from 3,000 to 6,000 feet per-
pendicular; and a waterfall comes over in an un-
broken leap of 1,600 feet. The valley in some
places is only one mile wide. He had seen a plank
twelve feet wide. He had driven through a tree,
which was partially burnt, and was lying in the road.
He had measured one which was thirty feet in diame-
ter. The forest fire gets into the bark, and thus into
the centre of the tree, which it often hollows, the tree
still growing. Fifteen ladies and gentlemen on
horseback had been inside such a tree at once, with
foliage 250 feet above them. There was a tree lying

Chicago. 151

on the ground, against which were 26 steps for mount-
ing the side. Another was 63 feet in circumference,
and 305 in height. He had measured another which
was 27 feet in diameter without the bark. Another
was 87 feet in circumference, and, above all, the
" Father of the Forest" was 112 feet in girth. The
bark was from 16 to 20 inches thick, and the estimated
age from 2,500 to 3,000 years. The seed-cone of
this giant vegetable is very small. I simply report
these figures given me by Mr. Bross in illustration of
his pictures, and as the result of his personal inspec-

In order not to impede the navigation of the river,
the carriage-road is carried under it by a tunnel,
where the water is 20 feet deep. Along the river-side,
stacks of "lumber," i.e., sawn timber, extend a distance
of three miles. We saw many prairie-chickens at the
poilterer's, and at supper-time found their flavour
excellent. They may rank with our pheasant. We
saw a large water-melon in a store-window, and ascer-
tairedthat it weighed 56^2 lbs. We noticed a placard
on a house — "Small-pox is here," a regulation of the
authorities to guard the unsuspecting from contagious
disases, which it might be well to imitate. We went

152 Chicago.

to see one of the great establishments for slaughtering
and packing cattle and pigs. The unpleasant neces-
sity of taking animal life is attended with the minimum
of torture and delay. By a semi-mechanical process,
and the principle of the division of labour, pig after
pig enters at the top of an inclined trough, receives its
one and fatal wound, is killed, scrubbed, divided as it
passes down, and is ready for packing in a few minutes.
The proprietor told me that one day after the clock
struck twelve he received an order for a thousand
hogs. He went and bought them, drove them two
miles to the packing-house, and despatched them in
barrels to New York, whither they were being hurried
along by rail before twelve o'clock the next day.

We were much interested in the method of giving
warning in case of fire. About 150 telegraphic boies
are put up in different sections of the city, the key of
each being kept at the nearest police-station. When
a fire breaks out one turn is given to the handle of the
nearest box. This communicates with the head-ofire,
where persons are always on the watch. The signal
thus given indicates the number of the box from when
it was sent. A general signal is then transmitted|to
all the fire-brigade stations of the city. This wain-

Chicago. 153

ing-bell is followed by the number of the district
where the fire has broken out, and within five minutes
all the fire-engines of Chicago are converging on the
point of danger. It is considered a proof of bungling
if more than two minutes elapse between an alarm and
the starting of an engine. When the bell rings, the
horses_begin to tramp and snort with impatience. The
highest premium paid for insurance was 7^ to 10 per
cent. ; the lowest was 3 per cent.

The churches and schools of Chicago are charac-
terized by the go-ahead spirit which prevails. We
inspected the First Presbyterian church. It has seats
for 1,200, and cost ,£14,000. The pews, or "slips,"
are rated at a certain price, and let annually. Those
who are willing to pay the highest premium, in addi-
tion to the rated price, have the preference. " Slips "
seating five persons are let from 25 to 150 dols.
(about £4. to £20). The gross annual income from
pews is about ^ 2,000. The pews had soft spring
cushions at the back, as well as on the seats, and fans
were in all of them, as part of the church furniture.
The entire floor was handsomely carpeted. So was
the room of the Sunday school. There are few peo-
ple in Chicago who are not well able to contribute to

154 Chicago.

the support of religious worship. Accommodation is
freely offered to all visitors who have no seat of their
own ; and there are several mission churches, where
all the seats are free. All classes of persons attend
the Sunday school. Lincoln's favourite son " Tad " is
a scholar, and we narrowly missed seeing him, with
the other boys, on our visit to the schools the day
before. We saw several coloured children along with
the white scholars. An economical method was
adopted of shaking hands. The children all rose, and
my friend and myself being formally introduced, with
all honours, the children held up their right hands, and
imitated the process of hand-shaking, to which we
responded in like manner ; and so we shook hands
with the whole school without loss of time. We found
the rooms for the Sunday schools provided with
pianos, and the walls hung with maps and sacred

There was no sign that religion was likely to die
out because unsustained by Government. Indications
of pious zeal and generosity met us at every turn.
The incumbent of the First Presbyterian Church spoke
warmly in favour of the American system of Free
Churches. He said that sometimes a rich man would

Chicago. 155

leave an endowment on a church, but it was generally
found to do injury by sending the people to sleep. A
noon prayer-meeting is held daily in the great hall of
the Young Men's Christian Association. It was crowded
by merchants and others, who had come together
to spend half an hour in devotion, in the midst of the
bustle of the day. Any one who chose rose and
offered prayer, or said a few words of exhortation.
No one occupied above three or four minutes. Verses
of hymns were sung with great fervour between the

The Young Men's Christian Association is on a
grand scale. The new building has cost many thou-
sand pounds. It contains about fifty bed-rooms for
as many young men. They pay a moderate rental,
and have the benefit of dining-room, meals at moderate
charges, reading-room, bath-room, and a spacious gym-
nasium on the upper story. There are class-rooms for
evening lessons, and a great hall for lectures and
music. There are also offices of reference, where
young men seeking situations, and employers need-
ing assistants, register their names. This institution
is supported by all denominations, and represents
neither Episcopacy, Presbyterianism, nor Methodism,

156 Chicago.

but the entire Christian Church in its active develop-
ment. One of its organizations is for the relief of
casual poverty and sickness, the funds being contri-
buted specially for the purpose by the merchants and
others of Chicago.

We paid a hasty visit to the Common Schools. In
an empty class-room of the high school we noticed
the black boards on which recentflessons had been
illustrated. One had on it a diagram from the 6th book
of Euclid ; another some difficult algebraical sums ; a
third, a poetical exercise. In another school we found
a number of children reading together, with loud
voices and good emphasis. Every child had a chair
and a separate desk. The names were called over,
each child reporting the result of examination,
whether "perfect," or having " one fault," or "two
faults," &c. Judge Trimball was visiting the schools
at the same time, and was asked to address the chil-
dren. He gave them the excellent advice never to
pass a lesson without fully understanding it. The
school was dismissed by a boy coming to the piano
and sounding two chords, on which the eldest class
rose up. Then a march was played, to the sound of
which all the children filed off, keeping time, class

Chicago. 157

after class. About one child in ten proceeds from
the primary to the high school.

The day was extremely hot, the thermometer being
99 in the shade. It must have been more at night,
when the mosquitoes turned out in force. I saw a
man whose face reminded me of small-pox, so dread-
fully had he been punished. In the evening I ad-
dressed a large assembly on the political relations of
Great Britain and America, in the interests of inter-
national peace.

In the course of the day we had called to see
young Mr. Robert Lincoln. We found him up a long
flight of stairs, writing at his desk. He is an attorney.
There was nothing in his manner to indicate that his
father had occupied a higher position than any other
citizen. He cheerfully accepted our invitation to
breakfast with us at our hotel next morning. He
was with us at an early hour on Tuesday ; for his
business had to be attended to. He is about five-ancl
twenty ; modest, quiet, and utterly unassuming. No
one seemed to regard him as possessing any rank, by
reason of his father having been President, nor did
he so regard himself. He laughed heartily at a joke
of ours about his being called " His Royal Highness

158 Chicago.

the Prince Robert." He said that what chiefly as-
tonished and grieved his father during the war, was
that the organs of English opinion which had ridiculed
or censured Americans for slavery, turned round and
condemned them when actual steps were taken for
putting it down. This had greatly tended to destroy
in America all respect for English opinion.

He said he always knew he must get his own living.
He had been from the first brought up for the law,
and he had not allowed his studies to be interrupted
a single day by his father being President. The only
pause had been when, like other young men, he had
served in the army, volunteering as a private. Speak-
ing of the memorials sent from England on the death
of his father, he said the family preserved them all ;
and that there were more from Great Britain than
from his own country. I asked if it was true that the
Queen had written to his mother. He replied, " Yes,
a long letter of four pages. We have been often
urged to publish it, but we have decided not to do so,
as it was evidently written with no idea of publicity,
though it would be greatly to the honour of the
Queen if it were made known ; but it was so evidently
the unrestrained outpouring of sympathy from a full

Chicago. 1 50

heart, that we felt it would be a violation of propriety
to publish it, at least during the life of the writer."
Speaking of the Far West plains, he said they were
worth seeing, only we might get scalped ; and he told
us of a man who had been attacked by the Indians,
shammed dead, was scalped, watched the Indian, saw
him accidentally drop the scalp, and ride off. He
then crept to the place, recovered his personal
property, replaced it, and recovered. Mr. Lincoln
hoped to visit England some day, and we promised
him a hearty reception.

I ought to add that on asking for our hotel bill,
I again received the reply, "It has been arranged";
but by whom I never knew.



Scenery of the Prairies — Prairie Corn, &c. — Bloomington —
Springfield — Lincoln's Grave and House — History and Anec-
dotes of Lincoln — The Mississippi — St. Louis.

ON September 1 8, we left by an early train, on
the St. Louis line. Passing alongside the three
miles of lumber wharves which line the Chicago River,
we came out on the prairie. The vast undulating
plain reminded me of the Roman Campagna. There
was little or no enclosure — no hedges — only here and
there a rude fence. Sometimes we went through the
original grass, as yet undisturbed by the plough. It
was so high that it reached up to, and sometimes

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 11 12 13 14 15 16

Online LibraryNewman HallFrom Liverpool to St. Louis → online text (page 9 of 16)