S. B. (Simeon Baldwin) Chittenden.

History of Henry county, Illinois : it's taxpayers and voters; containing also, a biographical directory, a condensed history of the state; map of the county; a business directory...etc online

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Online LibraryS. B. (Simeon Baldwin) ChittendenHistory of Henry county, Illinois : it's taxpayers and voters; containing also, a biographical directory, a condensed history of the state; map of the county; a business directory...etc → online text (page 4 of 78)
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No estimate of the size and power of Chicago would be adequate
that did not put large emphasis on the railroads. Before they came
thundering along our streets canals were the hope of our country. But
who ever thinks now of traveling by canal packets ? In June, 1852,
there were only forty miles of railroad connected with the city. The
old Galena division of the Northwestern ran out to Elgin. But now,
who can count the trains and measure the roads that seek a terminus or
connection in this city ? The lake stretches away to the north, gathering
in to this center all the harvests that might otherwise pass to the north
of us. If you will take a map and look at the adjustment of railroads,
you will see, first, that Chicago is the great railroad center of the world,
as New York is the commercial city of this continent; and, second, that
the railroad lines form the iron spokes of a great wheel whose hub is
this city. The lake furnishes the only break in the spokes, and this
seems simply to have pushed a few spokes together on each shore. See
the eighteen trunk lines, exclusive of eastern connections.

Pass round the circle, and view their numbers and extent. There
is the great Northwestern, with all its branches, one branch creeping
along the lake shore, and so reaching to the north, into the Lake Superior
regions, away to the right, and on to the Northern Pacific on the left,
swinging around Green Bay for iron and copper and silver, twelve months
in the year, and reaching out for the wealth of the great agricultural
belt and isothermal line traversed by the Northern Pacific. Another
branch, not so far north, feeling for the heart of the Badger State.
Another pushing lower down the Mississippi all these make many con-
nections, and tapping all the vast wheat regions of Minnesota, Wisconsin,
Iowa, and all the regions this side of sunset. There is that elegant road,
the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, running out a goodly number of


branches, and reaping the great fields this side of the Missouri River.
I can only mention the Chicago, Alton & St. Louis, our Illinois Central,
described elsewhere, and the Chicago & Rock Island. Further around
we come to the lines connecting us with all the eastern cities. The
Chicago, Indianapolis & St. Louis, the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne &
Chicago, the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, and the Michigan Cen-
tral and Great Western, give us many highways to the seaboard. Thus we
reach the Mississippi at five points, from St. Paul to Cairo and the Gulf
itself by two routes. We also reach Cincinnati and Baltimore, and Pitts-
burgh and Philadelphia, and New York. North and south run the water
courses of the lakes and the rivers, broken just enough at this point to
make a pass. Through this, from east to west, run the long lines that
stretch from ocean to ocean.

This is the neck of the glass, and the golden sands of commerce
must pass into our hands. Altogether we have more than 10,000 miles
of railroad, directly tributary to this city, seeking to unload their wealth
in our coffers. All these roads have come themselves by the infallible
instinct of capital. Not a dollar was ever given by the city to secure
one of them, and only a small per cent, of stock taken originally by her
citizens, and that taken simply as an investment. Coming in the natural
order of events, they will not be easily diverted.

There is still another showing to all this. The connection between
New York and San Francisco is by the middle route. This passes inevit-
ably through Chicago. St. Louis wants the Southern Pacific or Kansas
Pacific, and pushes it out through Denver, and so on up to Cheyenne.
But before the road is fairly under way, the Chicago roads shove out to
Kansas City, making even the Kansas Pacific a feeder, and actually leav-
ing St. Louis out in the cold. It is not too much to expect that Dakota,
Montana, and Washington Territory will find their great market in Chi-

But these are not all. Perhaps I had. better notice here the ten or
fifteen new roads that have just entered, or are just entering, our city.
Their names are all that is necessary to give. Chicago & St. Paul, look-
ing up the Red River country to the British possessions ; the Chicago,
Atlantic & Pacific ; the Chicago, Decatur & State Line ; the Baltimore &
Ohio; the Chicago, Danville & Vincennes; the Chicago & LaSalle Rail-
road ; the Chicago, Pittsburgh & Cincinnati ; the Chicago and Canada
Southern ; the Chicago and Illinois River Railroad. These, with their
connections, and with the new connections of the old roads, already in.
process of erection, give to Chicago not less than 10,000 miles of new
tributaries from the richest land on the continent. Thus there will be
added to the reserve power, to the capital within reach of this city, not
less than $1,000,000,000.


Add to all this transporting power the ships that sail one every nine
minutes of the business hours of the season of navigation ; add, also, the
canal boats that leave one every five minutes during the same time and
you will see something of the business of the city.


has been leaping along to keep pace with the growth of the country
around us. In 1852, our commerce reached the hopeful sum of
20,000,000. In 1870 it reached $400,000,000. In 1871 it was pushed
up above $450,000,000. And in 1875 it touched nearly double that.

One-half of our imported goods come directly to Chicago. Grain
enough is exported directly from our docks to the old world to employ a
semi-weekly line of steamers of 3,000 tons capacity. This branch is
not likely to be greatly developed. Even after the great Welland Canal
is completed we shall have only fourteen feet of water. The great ocean
vessels will continue to control the trade.

The banking capital of Chicago is $24,431,000. Total exchange in
1875, $659,000,000. Her wholesale business in 1875 was $294,000,000.
The rate of taxes is less than in any other great city.

The schools of Chicago are unsurpassed in America. Out of a popu-
lation of 300,000 there were only 186 persons between the ages of six
and twenty-one unable to read. This is the best known record.

In 1831 the mail system was condensed into a hlf-breed, who went
on foot to Niles, Mich., once in two weeks, and brought back what papers
and news he could find. As late as 1846 there was often only one mail
a week. A post-office was established in Chicago in 1833, and the post-
master nailed up old boot-legs on one side of his shop to serve as boxes
for the nabobs and literary men.

It is an interesting fact in the growth of the young city that in the
active life of the business mea of that day the mail matter has grown to
a daily average of over 6,500 pounds. It speaks equally well for the
intelligence of the people and the commercial importance of the place,
that the mail matter distributed to the territory immediately tributary to
Chicago is seven times greater than that distributed to the territory
immediately tributary to St. Louis.

The improvements that have characterized the city Jlre as startling
as the city itself. In 1831, Mark Beaubien established a ferry over the
river, and put himself under bonds to carry all the citizens free for the
privilege of charging strangers. Now there are twenty-four large bridges
and two tunnels.

In 1833 the government expended $30,000 on the harbor. Then
commenced that series of maneuvers with the river that has made it one


of the world's curiosities. It used to wind around in the lower end of /
the town, and make its way rippling over the sand into the lake at the
foot of Madison street. They took it up and put it down where it now
is. It was a narrow stream, so narrow that even moderately small crafts
had to go up through the willows and cat's tails to the point near Lake
street bridge, and back up one of the branches to get room enough in
which to turn around.

In 1844 the quagmires in the streets were first pontooned by plank
roads, which acted in wet weather as public squirt-guns. Keeping you
out of tlie mud, they compromised by squirting the mud over you. The
wooden-block pavements came to Chicago in 1857. In 1840 water was
delivered by peddlers in carts or by hand. Then a twenty-five horse-
power engine pushed it through hollow or bored logs along the streets
till 1854, when it was introduced into the houses by new works. The
first fire-engine was used in 1835, and the first steam fire-engine in 1859.
Gas was utilized for lighting the city in 1850. , The Young Men's Chris-
tian Association was organized in 1858, and horse railroads carried them
to their work in 1859. The museum was opened in 1863. The alarm
telegraph adopted in 1864. The opera-house built-in 1865. The city
grew from 560 acres in 1833 to 23,000 in 1869. In 1834, the taxes
amounted to $48.90, and the trustees of the town borrowed $60 more for
opening and improving streets. In 1835, the legislature authorized a loan
of $2,000, and the treasurer and street commissioners resigned rather than
plunge the town into such a gulf.

Now the city embraces 36 square miles of territory, and has 30 miles
of water front, besides the outside harbor of refuge, of 400 acres, inclosed
by a crib sea-wall. One-third of the city has been raised up an average
of eight feet, giving good pitch to the 263 miles of sewerage. The water
of the city is above all competition. It is received, through two tunnels
extending to a crib in the lake two miles from shore. The closest analy-
sis fails to detect any impurities, and, receded 35 feet below the surface,
it is always clear and cold. The first tunnel is five feet two inches in
diameter and two miles long, and can deliver 50,000,000 of gallons per
day. The second tunnel is seven feet in diameter and six miles long,
running four miles under the city, and can deliver 100,000,000 of gal-
lons per day. This water is distributed through 410 miles of water-

The three grand engineering exploits of the city are: First, lifting
the city up on jack-screws, whole squares at a time, without interrupting
the business, thus giving us good drainage ; second, running the tunnels
under the lake, giving us the best water in the world ; and third, the
turning the current of the river in its own channel, delivering us from the
old abominations, and making decency possible. They redound about


equally to the credit of the engineering, to the energy of the people, and
to the health of the city.

That which really constitutes the city, its indescribable spirit, its soul,
the way it lights up in every feature in the hour of action, has not been
touched. In meeting strangers, one is often surprised how some homely
women marry so well. Their forms are bad, their gait uneven and awk-
ward, their complexion is dull, their features are misshapen and mismatch-
ed, and when we see them there is no beauty that we should desire them.
But when once they are aroused on some subject, they put on new pro-
portions. They light up into great power. The real person comes out
from its unseemly ambush, and captures us at will. They have power.
They have ability to cause things to come to pass. We no longer wonder
why they are in such high demand. So it is with our city.

There is no grand scenery except the two seas, one of water, the
other of prairie. Nevertheless, there is a spirit about it, a push, a breadth,
a power, that soon makes it a place never to be forsaken. One soon
ceases to believe in impossibilities. Balaams are the only prophets that are
disappointed. The bottom that has been on the point of falling out has
been there so long that it has grown fast. It can not fall out. It has all
the capital of the world itching to get inside the corporation.

The two great laws that govern the growth and size of cities are,
first, the amount of territory for which they are the distributing and
receiving points ; second, the number of medium or moderate dealers that
do this distributing. Monopolists build up themselves, not the cities.
They neither eat, wear, nor live in proportion to their business. Both
these laws help Chicago.

The tide of trade is eastward not up or down the map, but across
the map. The lake runs up a wingdatn for 500 miles to gather in the
business. Commerce can not ferry up there for seven months in the year,
and the facilities for seven months can do the work for twelve. Then the
great region west of us is neajjy all good, productive land. Dropping
south into the trail of St. Louis, you fall into vast deserts and rocky dis-
tricts, useful in holding the world together. St. Louis and Cincinnati,
instead of rivaling and hurting Chicago, are her greatest sureties of
dominion. They are far enough away to give sea-room, farther off than
Paris is from London, and yet they are near enough to prevent the
springing up of any other great city between them.

St. Louis will be helped by the opening of the Mississippi, but also
hurt. That will put New Orleanson her feet, and with a railroad running
over into Texas and so West, she will tap the streams that now crawl up
the Texas and Missouri road. The current is East, not North, and a sea-
port at New Orleans can not permanently help St. Louis.

Chicago is in the field almost alone, to handle the wealth of one-


fourth of the territory of this great republic. This strip of seacoast
divides its margins between Portland, Boston, New York, Philadelphia,
Baltimore and Savannah, or some other great port to be created for the
South in the next decade. But Chicago has a dozen empires casting their
treasures into her lap. On a bed of coal that can run all the machinery
of the world for 500 centuries ; in a garden that can feed the race by the
thousand years; at the head of the lakes that give her a temperature as a
summer resort equaled by no great city in the land ; with a climate that
insures the health of her citizens ; surrounded by all the great deposits
of natural wealth in mines acid forests and herds, Chicago is the wonder
of to-day, and will be the city of the future.


During the war of 1812, Fort Dearborn became the theater of stirring
events. The garrison consisted of fifty-four men under command of
Captain Nathan Heald, assisted by Lieutenant Helm (son-in-law of Mrs.
Kinzie) and Ensign Ronan. Dr. Voorhees was surgeon. The only resi-
dents at the post at that time were the wives of Captain Heald and Lieu-
tenant Helm, and a few of the soldiers, Mr. Kinzie and his family, and
a few Canadian voyageurs, with their wives and children. The soldiers
and Mr. Kinzie were on most friendly terms with the Pottawattamies
and Winnebagos, the principal tribes around them, but they could not
win them from their attachment to the British.

One evening in April, 1812, Mr. Kinzie sat playing on his violin and
his children were dancing to the music, when Mrs. Kinzie came rushing
into the house, pale with terror, and exclaiming: "The Indians! the
Indians!" "What? Where?" eagerly inquired Mr. Kinzie. "Up
at Lee's, killing and scalping," answered the frightened mother, who,
when the alarm was given, was attending Mrs. Barnes (just confined)
living not far off. Mr. Kinzie and his family crossed the river and took
refuge in the fort, to which place Mrs. Barnes and her infant not a day
old were safely conveyed. The rest of the inhabitants took shelter in the
fort. This alarm was caused by a scalping party of Winnebagos, who
hovered about the fort several days, when they disappeared, and for several
weeks the inhabitants were undisturbed.

On the 7th of August, 1812, General Hull, at Detroit, sent orders to
Captain Heald to evacuate Fort Dearborn, and to distribute all the United
States property to the Indians in the neighborhood a most insane order.
The Pottawattamie chief, who brought the dispatch, had more wisdom
than the commanding general. He advised Captain Heald not to make
the distribution. Said he : " Leave the fort and stores as they are, and
let the Indians make distribution for themselves ; and while they are
engaged in the business, the white people may escape to Fort Wayne."


Captain Heald held a council with the Indians on the afternoon of
the 12th, in which his officers refused to join, for they had been informed
that treachery was designed that the Indians intended to murder the
white people in the council, and then destroy those in the fort. Captain
Heald, however, took the precaution to open a port-hole displaying a
cannon pointing directly upon the council, and by that means saved
his life.

Mr. Kinzie, who knew the Indians well, begged Captain Heald not
to confide in their promises, nor distribute the arms and munitions among
them, for it would only put power into their hands to destroy the whites.
Acting upon this advice, Heald resolved to withhold the munitions of
war ; and on the night of the 13th, after the distribution of the other
property had been made, the powder, ball and liquors were thrown into
the river, the muskets broken up and destroyed.

Black Partridge, a friendly chief, came to Captain Heald, and said :
" Linden birds have been singing in my ears to-day: be careful on the
march you are going to take." On that dark night vigilant Indians had
crept near the fort and discovered the destruction of their promised booty
going on within. The next morning the powder was seen floating on the
surface of the river. The savages were exasperated and made loud com-
plaints and threats.

On the following day when preparations were making to leave the
fort, and all the inmates were deeply impressed with a sense of impend-
ing danger, Capt. Wells, an uncle of Mrs. Heald, was discovered upon
the Indian trail among the sand-hills on the borders of the lake, not far
distant, with a band of mounted Miamis, of whose tribe he was chief,
having been adopted by the famous Miami warrior, Little Turtle. When
news of Hull's surrender reached Fort Wayne, he had started with this
force to assist Heald in defending Fort Dearborn. He was too late.
Every means for its defense had been destroyed the night before, and
arrangements were made for leaving the fort on the morning of the 15th.

It was a warm bright morning in the middle of August. Indications
were positive that the savages intended to murder the white people ; and
when they moved out of the southern gate of the fort, the march was
like a funeral procession. The band, feeling the solemnity of the occa-
sion, struck up the Dead March in Saul.

Capt. Wells, who had blackened his face with gun-powder in token
of his fate, took the' lead with his band of Miamis, followed by Capt.
Heald, with his wife by his side on horseback. Mr. Kinzie hoped by his
personal influence to avert the impending blow, and therefore accompanied
them, leaving his family in a boat in charge of a friendly Indian, to be
taken to his trading station at the site of Niles, Michigan, in the event of
his death.


The procession moved slowly along the lake shore till they reached
the sand-hills between the prairie and the beach, when the Pottawattamie
escort, under the leadership of Blackbird, filed to the right, placing those
hills between them and the white people. Wells, with his Miamis, had
kept in the advance. They suddenly came rushing back, Wells exclaim-
ing, " They are about to attack us ; form instantly." These words were
quickly followed by a storm of bullets, which came whistling over the
little hills which the treacherous savages had made the covert for their
murderous attack. The white troops charged upon the Indians, drove
them back to the prairie, and then the battle was waged between fifty-
four soldiers, twelve civilians and three or four women (the cowardly
Miamis having fled at the outset) against five hundred Indian warriors.
The white people, hopeless, resolved to sell their lives as dearly as possible.
Ensign Ronan wielded his weapon vigorously, even after falling upon his
knees weak from the loss of blood. Capt. Wells, who was by the side of
his niece, Mrs. Heald, when the conflict began, behaved with the greatest
coolness and courage. He said to her, " We have not the slightest chance
for life. We must part to meet no more in this world. God bless you."
And then he dashed forward. Seeing a young warrior, painted like a
demon, climb into a wagon in which were twelve children, and tomahawk
them all, he cried out, unmindful of his personal danger, " If that is your
game, butchering women and children, I will kill too." He spurred his
horse towards the Indian camp, where they hud left their squaws and
papooses, hotly pursued by swift-footed young warriors, who sent bullets
whistling after him. One of these killed his horse and wounded him
severely in the leg. With a yell the young braves rushed to make him
their prisoner and reserve him for torture. He resolved not to be made
a captive, and by the use of the most provoking epithets tried to induce
them to kill him instantly. He called a fiery young chief a squaw, when
the enraged warrior killed Wells instantly with his tomahawk, jumped
upon his body, cut out his heart, and ate a portion of the warm morsel
with savage delight !

In this fearful combat women bore a conspicuous part. Mrs. Heald
was an excellent equestrian and an expert in the use of the rifle. She
fought the savages bravely, receiving several severe wounds. Though
faint from the loss of blood, she managed to keep her saddle. A savage
raised his tomahawk to kill her, when she looked him full in the face,
and with a sweet smile and in a gentle voice said, in his own language,
" Surely you will not kill a squaw ! " The arm of the savage fell, and
the life of the heroic woman was saved.

Mrs. Helm, the step-daughter of Mr. Kinzie, had an encounter with
a stout Indian, who attempted to tomahawk her. Springing to one side,
she received the glancing blow on her shoulder, and at the same instant


seized the savage round the neck with her arms and endeavored to get
hold of his scalping knife, which hung in a sheath at his breast. While
she was thus struggling she was dragged from her antagonist by another
powerful Indian, who bore her, in spite of her struggles, to the margin
of the lake and plunged her in. To her astonishment she was held by
him so that she would not drown, and she soon perceived that she was
in the hands of the friendly Black Partridge, who had saved her' life.

The wife of Sergeant Holt, a large and powerful woman, behaved as
bravely as an Amazon. She rode a fine, high-spirited horse, which the
Indians coveted, and several of them attacked her with the butts of their
guns, for the purpose of dismounting her ; but she used the sword which
slits had snatched from her disabled husband so skillfully that she foiled
them ; and, suddenly wheeling her horse, she dashed over the prairie,
followed by the savages shouting, " The brave woman ! the brave woman !
Don't hurt her ! " They finally overtook her, and while she was fighting
them in front, a powerful savage came up behind her, seized her by the
neck and dragged her to the ground. Horse and woman were made
captives. Mrs. Holt was a long time a captive among the Indians, but
was afterwards ransomed.

In this sharp conflict two-thirds of the white people were slain and
wounded, and all their horses, baggage and provision were lost. Only
t\vi-nty-eight straggling men now remained to fight five hundred Indians
rendered furious by the' sight of blood. They succeeded in breaking
through the ranks of the murderers and gaining a slight eminence on the
prairie near the Oak Woods. The Indians did not pursue, but gathered
on their flanks, while the chiefs held a consultation on the sand-hills, and
showed signs of willingness to parley. It would have been madness on
the part of the whites to renew the fight ; and so Capt. Heald went for-
ward and met Blackbird on the open prairie, where terms of surrender
were soon agreed upon. It was arranged that the white people should
give up their arms to Blackbird, and that the survivors should become
prisoners of war, to be exchanged for ransoms as soon as practicable.
With this understanding captives and captors started for the Indian
camp near the fort, to which Mrs. Helm had been taken bleeding and
suffering by Black Partridge, and had met her step-father and learned

Online LibraryS. B. (Simeon Baldwin) ChittendenHistory of Henry county, Illinois : it's taxpayers and voters; containing also, a biographical directory, a condensed history of the state; map of the county; a business directory...etc → online text (page 4 of 78)