William Henry Perrin.

History of Jefferson County, Illinois online

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fore they came thundering along our
streets, canals were the hope of our coun-
try. 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 into this center all


the harvests that might otherwise pass to
the north of us. If you will take a map
and kx)k 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, swing-
ini;- around Green Bay for iron and copper
and silver, twelve months in the year, and
reaching out for the wealth of the great
aarricultural belt and isothermal line trav-
ersed by the Northern Pacific. Another
branch, not so far north, feeling for the
heart of the Badger State. Another push-
ing lower down the Mississippi — all these
make many connections, and tapping all
the vast wheat regions of Minnesota, Wis-
consin, Iowa, and all the regions tliis 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
Chiciigo, Alton & St. Louis, ow Illinois
Central, described elsewhere, and the Ciii-
ca<ro & Eock Island. Further around we
come to the lines connecting us with all
the Eastern cities. The Chicago, Indian-

apolis & St. Louis, the Pittsburg, Fort
Wayne & Chicago, the Lake Shore &
Michigan Southern, and the Michigan
Central 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 Pittsburg 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
(Tolden 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 aiul
San Francisco is by the middle route. This
passes inevitably 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, Tuakingeven 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 Chicago.



But these are not all. Perhaps I had
better notice here the ten or fifteen new
roads tliat have just entered, or are just
entering, our city. Their names are all
that is necessary to give. Chicago & St.
Paul, looking up the Red River country to
the British possessions ; the Chicago, At-
lantic & Pacific ; the Chicago, Decatur &
State line ; the Baltimore & Ohio ; the
Chicago, Danville & Vincennes ; the Chi-
cago & La Salle Railroad ; the Chicago,
Pittsburgh & Cincinnati ; the Chicago and
Canada Southern ; the Chicago and Illi-
nois River Railroad. These, with their con-
nections, 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,-

Add to all this transporting power the
ships that sail one every nine minutes of
the business hours of the season of naviga-
tion; 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 $i50,000,000, and in 1875 it touched
nearly double that.

One half of our imported goods come di-
rectly to Chicago. Grain enough is export-
ed 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
ereat ocean vessels will continue to control
the trade.

The schools of Chicago are unsurpassed
in America. Out of a population 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 half-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.

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

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 Madi-
son 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 wil-


lows 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 the mud, they com-
promised by squirting the mud over you.
Tlie wooden-block pavements came to Chi-
cago 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 tire-engine in 1859. Gas was util-
ized for lighting the city in 1850. The
Young Men's Christian Association was
organized in 1858, and horse railroads
carried them to their work in 1859. 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 com-
missioners resigned rather than plunge the
town into such a gulf.

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 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
gallons per day. This water is distributed
through 410 miles of watermains.

The three grand engineering exploits of
the city are : First, lifting the city up on
jack-screws, whole squares at a time, with-
out 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 re-
dound about equally to the ci-edit 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 ever}' 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 awkward,
their complexion is dull, their features
are misshapen and mismatched, 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 proportions. 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 abil-
ity 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. Ba-
laams are the only prophets that are disap-
pointed. 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
disti-ibuting 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 Chi-


The tide of trade is eastward — not up or
down the map, bat across the map. The
lake runs up a wingdam 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 re-
gion west of us is nearly all good,productive
land. Dropping south into the trail of
St. Louis, you fall into vast deserts and
rocky districts, 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 spring-
ing up of any other great city between

St. Louis will be helped by the opening
of the Mississippi, but also hurt. That
will put New Orleans on her feet, and with
a railroad runnino; 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 seaport at
New Orleans can not permanently help St.

Chicago is in the field almost alone, to
handle the wealth of one fourth of the ter-
ritory of this great republic. This strip of
seacoast divides its margins between Port-
land, 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 em-
pires casting their treasures into her lap.
On a bed of coal that can run all the ma-
chinery of the world for 500 centuries; in
a garden 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 bj' all the great de-
posits of natural wealth in mines and forests
and herds, Chicago is the wonder of to-day,
and will be the city of the future.


During the war of 1S12, 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.
Yoorhees was surgeon. The only residents
at the post at that time were the wives of
Captain Heald and Lieutenant Helm, and
a few of the soldiers, Mr. Kinzie and his
family, and a few Canadian voya^eurs,
with their wives and children. The sol-
diers and Mr. Kinzie wereon most friendly
terms with the Pottawatomies and Win-



nebagoes, 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. Kin-
zie came rushing into the house pale with
terror, and exclaiming: "The Indians! the
Indians!" *' What? where? " eagerly in-
quired Mr. Kinzie. " Up at Lee's, killing
and scalping," answered the frightened
mother, who, when the alarm was given,
was attending Mrs. Barnes (just conMned)
living not far oif. 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 con-
veyed. The rest of the inhabitants took
shelter in tlie fort. This alarm was caused
by a scalping party of Winnebagoes, 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 Pottawatomie chief
who brought the dispatch had more wisdom
than the commanding general. He ad-
vised Captain Heald not to make the
distribution. Said he: "Leave the fort
and stores as tiiey are, and let the Indians
make distribution for themselves; and
while they are engaged in the business,
the white people may esca])e to Fort

Captain Heald held a council with the In-
dians on the afternoon of the 12th, in which
his officers refused to join, for they had been

informed that treacherv 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 di-
rectly 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 iiands 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 dis-
tribution 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 iroino' to
take." On that 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 complaints 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 impending 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 Mianiis, of whose
tribe he was chief, having been ado]ited bv
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 destro3'ed the night be-
fore, and arrangements were made for leav-
ing the fort on the morning of the 15th.

It was a warm, bright morning in the
middle of August. Indications were posi-
tive 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 occasion,
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 Captain 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 Pottawatomie escort, under the lead-
ership of Blackbird, tiled 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 exclaiming, "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 mur-
derous attack. The white troops charged

upon the Indians, drove them back to the
prairie, and then the battle was waged be-
tween 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 toma-
hawk 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 tow-ards the
Indian camp, where they had left their
squaws and papooses, hotly pursued by
swift-footed young warriors, who sent bul-
lets 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 re-
serve 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 sqiuiw, when the en-
raged 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 ex-
cellent equestrian and an expert in the use
of the rifle. Slie fought the savajres bravely,
receiving several severe wounds. Though
faint from the loss of blood, she managed to
keep her saddle. A savage raised his toma-
hawk 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 In-
dian, 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
struiTgling she was drao;o;ed from her antaij-
onist 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 per-
ceived 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, whicli the Indians coveted, and
several of them attacked her with the butts
of their guns, for the purpose of dismount-
ing her; but she used the sword which she
had snatched from her disabled husband so
skillfully that she foiled them; and, sud-
denly wheeling her horse, she dashed over
the prairie, followed by the savages shout-

ing, "The brave woman! the brave woman!
Don't hurt her!" They finally overtook
her, and while she was fighting them in
front, a ])0werful savage came up behind
her, seized her by the neck and dragged
her to the ground. Horse and woman
were made captive. Mrs. Hok was a long
time a captive among the Indians, but was
afterward 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 twentv-eight stragsliug
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 ])rairie 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 forward and met Blackbird on
the open prairie, where terms of sur-
render were 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 ex-
changed for ransoms as soon as practicable.
With this understanding captives and cap-
tors started for the Indian camp near the
fort, to which Mrs. Helm liad been taken
bleeding and sufi'ering by Black Partridge,
and had met her step-father and learned
that her husband was safe.

A new scene of horror was now opened
at the Indian camp. The wounded, not
being included in the surrender, as it was
interpreted by the Indians, and the British


general, Proctor, having offered a liberal
bounty for American scalps, delivered at
Maiden, nearly all the wounded men were
killed and scalped, and price of the trophies
was afterward paid by the British govern-

This celebrated Indian chief, Shabbona,
deserves more than a passing notice. Al-
though he was not so conspicuous as
Tecumseh or Black Hawk, yet in point of
merit he was superior to either of them.

Shabbona was born at an Indian village
on the Kankakee River, now in Will County
about the year 1775. While young he was
made chief of the band, and went to Shab-

Online LibraryWilliam Henry PerrinHistory of Jefferson County, Illinois → online text (page 11 of 76)