Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Looking south on Broadway from Wilson Avenue, Chicago. 1910

Looking south on Broadway from Wilson Avenue, Chicago. 1910

The History of Millstadt, Illinois.

Millstadt is a village in St. Clair County, Illinois, at the crossing of Illinois Route 163 (locally known as "Jefferson Avenue") and Illinois Route 158 (locally known as "Washington Avenue"). 

The village is known for its German heritage, with more than half its people of German descent. The population was 3,924 at the 2014 census, an increase of 40% since the 2000 census.

The earliest settlers of the Millstadt area were of English ancestry and had come from the 13 original states. The first land entries in Millstadt Township were first claimed in payment for military services rendered in the late 1700s. These first claims were made to George Lunceford, Thomas Marrs, and Mary Groot, the widow of Sergeant Jacob Groot, who died about 1788. The land was issued to Thomas Marrs and was surveyed in 1782 in Millstadt Township. 

George Lunceford is usually considered the first white settler to have lived near present-day Millstadt. He was a native of Virginia and had been a soldier under George Rogers Clark during the capture of Kaskaskia and Prairie du Rocher in 1778. His land was surveys 429 and 430 in Sugar Loaf Heights. In 1796, Lunceford and Samuel Judy started a farm near Sugar Loaf, which in 1800 became the sole property of Mr. Lunceford. 
The following year in 1801, a group of settlers arrived from Hardy County, Virginia. This group was led by the Baptist preacher David Badgley and included the families of Abraham Eyman, born in Lancaster, PA, William Miller from Virginia, and John Teter. They came by flatboat down the Ohio River to Shawneetown and then overland by horse to this area of St. Clair County, Illinois. In 1802 they were joined by the families of Martin Randleman from Lincoln County, North Carolina and Daniel Stookey from Hagerstown, Maryland.

In 1813, Thomas Harrison is supposed to have erected here one of the first cotton gins in Illinois. It was propelled by horsepower but was soon abandoned. Joshua W. Hughes {ancestor of billionaire Howard Hughes} came from Virginia and was the first blacksmith (1829) and coal operator (1830) in Millstadt Township. His mine was about a half mile southeast of Millstadt. The Hughes family left the Millstadt area around 1851 and settled in Scotland County, Missouri, where Joshua died in 1901.
The first church in Millstadt Township was built in 1819 on five acres of land donated by Phillemon Askins {another ancestor of the late Howard Hughes}. The church was called the Union Meeting House (Methodist Protestant), and it was located about a mile east of Millstadt on Route 158. The church burned on March 31, 1881. Adjoining this church was Union Hill Cemetery, the first cemetery in Millstadt Township. The first burials there were John Ross on October 1, 1823, and Thomas Jarrott on October 16, 1823.

Prior to 1834, the following German settlers, who were mostly farmers, had settled in what is now Millstadt Township:  Johannes Briesacher (1828); Anton Wagner, Johann Adam Krick, Carl Grossmann, Johannes Hax, Peter Vollmer, Johannes Eckert, and J. Christian Lindenstruth (1832); Adam Haas, Nicolaus Hertel, Johannes Freivogel Sr., and John Weible (1833). 
The first large group of German settlers to arrive in the Millstadt area came from villages near Kaiserslautern in the Rhineland-Pfalz area of Germany. According to existing records at the Zion Evangelical Church (a German Church), this first group left Germany on September 4, 1834, and traveled to America on the Ship Ruthelin, which arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana, on  November 17, 1834. The group then traveled by boat up the Mississippi River to St. Louis, where they disembarked for St. Clair County, Illinois. It is recorded that they settled in the Millstadt area on November 30, 1834. 

This first group of settlers included the families of Daniel Mueller from Konken; Daniel Wagner from Doerrenbach; Jacob Dewald from Schellweiler; Jacob Weingardt and Jacob Weber from Rehweiler; Henry Jacob Gerlach from Mittelbach; Jacob Schuff and Johann Nicolaus Schmalenberger from Schrollbach; and Theobald Mueller from Quirnbach. Other settlers that came that same year (1834) were the families of Leonhard Baltz from Gross-Bieberau; Valentine Gruenewald from Rossdorf; George Mittelstetter from Reinheim; William Probst from Koelleda; Heinrich Mueller from Harpertshausen; Leonhard Kropp from Crumbach; and George Kuntz from Alzey. This early group of settlers then attracted large numbers of additional German families.

Many of these early settlers attended the German church of Zion Evangelical Church, which was first located in Section 21 of Millstadt Township. Zion was founded on Jan. 17, 1836, at the log cabin home of Johannes Freivogel. The first minister was Rev. Johann Jacob Riess, who served at Zion from 1836 to October 1846. He arrived in St. Clair County in November 1835. Rev. Riess was sent by the Basel Missionary Society in Switzerland because of letters sent to that society by the German settlers in the county who wanted a German-speaking minister. 
Rev. Riess preached throughout St. Clair County, and services were first held at Zion only once a month. At the same time, he was also serving congregations at Dutch Hill, Turkey Hill, and Prairie du Long. In nice weather, the members met in the forest and in bad weather in the Freivogel cabin. The first log church of Zion was dedicated on June 26, 1837, and was built along very simple lines. Freivogel Cemetery, consisting of 40 acres, was deeded to the Zion congregation in April 1838 by Johann Nicolaus Schmahlenberger and his wife, Mary Katherine. 

The early German Catholic settlers in the area worshipped at a log church that was built about two miles southwest of Millstadt. It was called St. Thomas the Apostle Chapel and was dedicated on November 26, 1837, by Bishop Joseph Rosati of St. Louis, who on that same day opened the parish register. The present-day location would be in Section 20 of Millstadt Township, near the intersection of Illinois Route 158 and Bohleysville Road. The 1958 dedication program for St. James' new school states the log church was on the farm of Edward Roenicke. The place was also called Johnson Settlement. It is also reported that a few parishioners were buried around this first log church. It is recorded by Rev. J. F. R. Loisel of Cahokia that he said the first mass for the new congregation of St. Thomas in the home of James Powers on Nov. 17, 1836. The first 3 trustees of St. Thomas were elected on Jan. 24, 1837, and were John O'Brien, James Powers & Bernard Slocy. St. Thomas was a mission church and did not have a resident priest but was served by priests from the surrounding area. The first baptism was recorded on December 10, 1837, by R. Loisel. St. Thomas gradually declined after a new brick church was built in Millstadt in 1851. The new congregation was called St. James. 
Additional German immigrants continued to settle here in the 1840s, with a second large wave beginning in 1848 after political turmoil in Germany. There were also numerous families who settled in this area that came from the Alsace-Lorraine area. The ownership of that area in Europe varied between France and Germany. Still, the residents usually spoke German and fit in with other Germans who had settled previously in the Millstadt area. 

Many of these early German settlers were farmers who came here seeking better farmland and better economic conditions. Many of the settlers were also escaping the political, social, and economic turmoil that the German states were experiencing at that time. Most wanted a better life for themselves and more opportunities for their children. This German immigration was so large in the Millstadt area that the 1881 History of St. Clair County reported that “only seven families of English descent” were still residing there. 

Most of the first Germans who settled in this area did not know the English language, and few had the time or opportunity to learn it. Many preferred to use their native German in almost everything that concerned their life, including business, social organizations, church services and records, public notices, tombstone inscriptions, letters, and wills. Some of the earlier English-speaking settlers did not always get along well with their newly arrived German neighbors; some called the Germans clanish and unfriendly.
The founding of the town of Millstadt dates back to 1836 when Simon Stookey was having a barn built a short distance north of present-day Millstadt. Joseph Abend and Henry Randleman were helping him, and it was proposed to Randleman that another piece of his land in Section 9 would make a most eligible town site. Abend proposed the name “Centerville” for the new town since it would be seven miles from Belleville, seven miles from Columbia, and seven miles from Pittsburg Lake. Henry agreed, and the town of Centerville was platted and surveyed on March 13, 1837. It originally consisted of only 40 lots. That part of town was bounded roughly by Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe streets. Some of the earliest purchasers of lots were: John & George Briesacher on September 4, 1837; George Heckler on August 28, 1838; and Evan Baird on November 26, 1839. Later additions to the town were made as the existing lots were sold out. 

Although the village name was officially spelled as “Centerville” in the records of the Recorder of Deeds of St. Clair County, the German settlers usually used the European spelling of “Centreville.” George Kuntz was appointed the town’s first postmaster on June 7, 1843. When the application was first made for a post office at “Centreville,” that name was rejected in Washington, DC, since there was already a post office in Centreville in Wabash County, Illinois. 

It is reported that the petitioners then translated the name “Centreville” into German and came up with the name 'Mittlestadt' or 'Middlestadt.' Either the writing was not clear, or the officials in Washington could not read the German writing because the name that was approved was “Millstadt."

Thus from 1843-1878, the people in town lived in Centreville but got their mail at the Millstadt Post Office. On September 14, 1878, the Board of Trustees of the Village of Centreville passed a revised ordinance to change the village's name to the ‘Village of Millstadt,” so the village name and the post office name were the same. 


  1. Miles Henry Davis - Father of jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, he owned a 160-acre estate in Millstadt.
  2. John Kasper - Member of the 1998 USA Olympic Bobsled Team.
  3. Garrett Schlecht - Baseball player, an outfielder for the Chicago Cubs. 

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

The History of the City of Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium.

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease of the lungs and other organs. Once considered incurable, the disease caused its victims to slowly waste away, so it was called "consumption." With a mortality rate of approximately 18 per 10,000 people, tuberculosis was a leading cause of death within the city of Chicago at the turn of the twentieth century.

Early attempts at controlling tuberculosis in Chicago focused on home sanitation, public health education, and patient isolation. Private hospitals took a few tuberculosis patients, but public consumptive facilities were unavailable.

To raise public awareness, the Visiting Nurses Association and physician Theodore Sachs spearheaded an antituberculosis movement in the early 1900s. This eventually resulted in the passage of state legislation, the Glackin Tuberculosis Law, in 1909, giving the city of Chicago the ability to raise funds for treating and controlling tuberculosis through a special property tax.

In 1911, Chicago bought 158 acres to establish the Sanitarium in today's North Park Village Nature Center on Bryn Mawr at Pulaski. It operated from 1915 through the 1970s. 
In 1914, there were 10,000 registered cases of Tuberculosis (TB). The number of deaths due to TB in Chicago that year was 3,384. Yet there were only 300 public beds available in the city for patients who could not afford to pay for treatment. In March 1915, the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium opened its doors to the citizens of Chicago suffering from tuberculosis, and treatment was free to residents of Chicago.
At its opening, MTS was the largest Sanitarium of its kind and the first to have a Maternity Ward and Nursery. There were 32 buildings completed when it opened, and the main ones were connected by an underground tunnel. More buildings were added in later years. The TB Sanitarium was located on Chicago's North Side, on the grounds of what is now Peterson Park and North Park Village.
Some buildings are still standing, looking the same on the outside as in 1915. The Sanitarium was designed as a place for quiet and rest on the city's outskirts, and significant consideration was given to the exterior of the buildings and beautiful grounds.

By the 1950s and 1960s, the disease incidence was drastically reduced through improved public hygiene, vaccines and antimicrobial drugs. When the Sanitarium became under-used by the 1970s, Chicago redeveloped the property as North Park Village to include senior citizen housing, a school for the developmentally disabled, a nature preserve, and parkland. In 1977, the Chicago Park District began leasing and redeveloping the site. 

Read the 1915 "Municipal control of tuberculosis in Chicago. City of Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium, its history and provisions." Report to the Mayor.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Chicago Daily News Fresh Air Fund Sanitarium. (1920-1939)

Designed in 1913 and constructed in 1920, the "Theatre on the Lake" was originally built as the Chicago Daily News Fresh Air Fund Sanitarium. It was preceded by two successive open-air "floating hospitals" in Lincoln Park that was built between the 1870s and the 1900s on piers on Lake Michigan. 

The breezes through these wooden shelters were believed to cure babies suffering from tuberculosis and other diseases. In 1914, the Chicago Daily News offered to fund a more permanent sanitarium building.
The Chicago Daily News "Fresh Air" Sanitarium.
Constructed in 1920 on a landfill area, the impressive Prairie style structure was one of several Lincoln Park buildings designed by Dwight H. Perkins of the firm Perkins, Fellows, and Hamilton. Perkins, an important Chicago social reformer and Prairie School architect designed several Lincoln Park buildings including Café Brauer, the Lion House in the Lincoln Park Zoo, and the North Pond Café.
Empty hammocks hanging from the ceiling and baby carriages parked against a wall inside the Chicago Daily News Sanitarium. 
Women reaching toward a child lying in a hammock inside the Chicago Daily News Sanitarium.
The Chicago Daily News Sanitarium building was constructed in brick with a steel arched pavilion with 250 basket baby cribs, nurseries, and rooms for older children. 
Nine female nurses holding babies, standing and sitting on a wall in front of the Chicago Daily News Sanitarium.
Free health services, milk and lunches were provided to more than 30,000 children each summer until 1939, when the sanitarium closed.
Children playing a circle game on a slope of grass with the Chicago Daily News Sanitarium in the background across Lake Shore Drive.
Major reconstruction of Lake Shore Drive led to the demolition of the building's front entrance. During World War II, the structure became an official recreation center for the United Service Organization (USO). 

The Chicago Park District converted the building to Theatre on the Lake in 1953, located at Fullerton Avenue and Lake Shore Drive, that offers breathtaking views of Lake Michigan.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Flavel Moseley Social Adjustment School at 24th Street and Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.

A year after Montefiore was opened, the Flavel L. Moseley School was designated as a second "social adjustment school." Moseley was built in 1856 at a cost of $25,445 ($734,000 today) and was the oldest school building in the Chicago public system. 

Flavel Moseley School was named after the first president of the Chicago school board and founder of the high school library system. The 10 room building had an initial enrollment of 600 elementary pupils in classes which started in February 1857. When an addition was built in 1857, the Moseley school became the south division high school. 

According to Edward Stullken, Isabella Dolton (the assistant superintendent of schools), promoted the establishment of additional social adjustment schools, "but the politicians got control of the system in 1933 and controlled the budget. They also bounced her out, demoting her to the principal of Farragut High School." However, she (and other "forces") was successful in getting the Board to establish a special school in the heart of Chicago's "black belt" (the original site of the Moseley was 2348 South Michigan Avenue.

In fact, with the establishment of Moseley as a second social adjustment school, a rough dividing line was initially drawn: Montefiore receiving transfer students from those schools North and West of the Chicago River and Moseley receiving transfer students from schools South and East of the river at Cermak Avenue. Personal interview with Lawrence J. Casey. (Casey retired from the Chicago Public School System in 1976, having spent 45 years in the system, 40 of those years at Montefiore.) However, even in its first year of operation as a special school, the Moseley transferred students to (and received from) Montefiore; as it would continue to do, until the Fall of 1980. 
Moseley School. The photo was taken on 24th Street and the Wabash Avenue side of the school. 1922
Class in session at the Moseley School, 24th and Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. 1900
The school building was demolished in 1959.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Track-side tenements on the south side of Chicago. (1944)

Track-side tenements on the south side of Chicago. (1944)
You can see Comiskey Park in the background.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The History of the Martha Washington Candies Company.

Mr. Elie Sheetz, a confectioner, and founder of the "Martha Washington Candies Company," was born in Pennsylvania, he began business in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in June of 1892, moved to Washington D.C., and continued doing business in serving each customer in such a way as to bring another customer. Generous to a fault in impulse and purpose, he soon understood how to cater, not only to the Sweet-tooth but to create a sweet and wholesome atmosphere in his store and among his customers.

His candy soon gained popularity because it was good candy, made of pure materials. It was christened by a happy circumstance; one of the boys selling his candy reported that a lady had jokingly asked for some more of that “Martha Washington” candy. To Mr. Sheetz, it was as tho the First Lady of the Land herself had spoken. He at once grasped the possibilities of making goods worthy of the name.
The business grew and grew but Elie Sheetz is not all business. He is first and last... just a real man. His factory and store are pervaded with the family spirit; all aglow with the suggestion of just buying the candy at home. On the walls are historical pictures, portraits of the various Presidents, and many rare prints and photographs of Lincoln and his times.
The collection of mirrors makes his home and office a veritable museum in itself. All this Elie Sheetz enjoys with his friends and his customers. He is the sort of man that I could not conceive of being anything but a friend to everybody.
The brand name "Martha Washington Candies" was trademarked in Washington DC on July 23, 1906.
79th Street and Halsted, Chicago, Illinois
Martha Washington Candies soon began selling ice cream along with their variety of candy confections.
A Fort Worth, Texas Store.
Elie Sheetz and E.M. Hunt sold their interests in the Martha Washington Candies Company on August 13, 1932. Both will retain their interest in the "Elie Sheetz Candies Company" of Maryland which operates in several eastern states. The chain has grown to control 15 factories and 200 retail shops. The Midwest business was founded by Mr. Hunt in 1911.

One of the company's factories, "kitchens and retail store" was located at 3823-29 North Broadway in Chicago. Elie Sheetz, died on November 11, 1932. By the end of 1936, almost all of the 150 nationwide stores were temperature-controlled.

Some of the Chicagoland store locations:

11 South Kedzie Avenue, Chicago
17 East Hubbard Place, Chicago
17 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago
24 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago
31 West Washington Street, Chicago
51 East Adams Street, Chicago
79th Street and Halsted, Chicago
180 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago 
505 12th Street, Chicago
844 East 63rd Street, Chicago
1016 Wilson Avenue, Chicago
3823-29 North Broadway, Chicago
4755 North Broadway, Chicago 
808 Hillgrove Avenue, Western Springs, Illinois

If you know of any other Chicagoland or Illinois locations, please comment below.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

April 26, 1951, General McArthur Day in Chicago, Illinois.

General of the Army, Douglas MacArthur, visits Chicago after his return from Korea in 1951. On April 26, 1951, 15 days after he was relieved as military commander in Korea by President Truman, he visited Chicago on his triumphal tour of the nation.
Chicago welcomes General MacArthur with a parade, State Street, April 26, 1951.
The city afforded "The Old Soldier" the greatest and most spontaneous welcome in its history. The Tribune reported: "Chicagoans never saw the equal of the welcome given Gen. Douglas MacArthur yesterday... The acclaim of the throngs was deafening." Police estimated that more than 3 million persons jammed the official parade route on State Street and Michigan Avenue in the downtown area. Hundreds of thousands more lined the motorcade route from Midway airport to the Loop. Crowds overwhelmed police ranks and surged into State street, cutting off the first 12 cars of the motorcade, as they cheered MacArthur.

Gov. Adlai Stevenson, Mayor Martin Kennelly, and Gen. Robert E. Wood, chairman of the welcoming committee, had greeted the general as he stepped from his four engine Constellation aircraft, the "Bataan," at Midway airport. A 17 gun salute by a field artillery battalion followed, and the motorcade from the airport to the Loop began.

One of the loudest receptions along the parade route occurred where railroads cross over 55th street. Locomotives which had been stationed there blew their whistles as Gen. MacArthur passed.

That night as 50,000 people assembled in Soldier Field in 40 degree temperatures, the hero of the Pacific made a fighting defense of his stand on the Korean war as he challenged the policies of President Truman and called for "a positive and realistic policy for Korea... one designed to bring the war to an early and honorable end." A fireworks display was presented at 8:50pm.

The next day, thousands of persons lined the north shore as he drove to Milwaukee to be honored.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

The History of Bob Farrell and Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour Restaurants.

Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour opened for business on Friday, the 13th of September, 1963. The first parlour was located at 21st and W. Burnside in Portland, Oregon. Bob Farrell and Ken McCarthy were the founders and proprietors of this unique parlour restaurant. "When we opened our first store, we had 32 employees, $1,300 in the bank and owed $26,000," remarks Ken about that first day.
From the beginning, the concept was pretty much established, from the player piano in the corner of the dining room to the red-flocked wallpaper on the walls. Tiffany lamps adorn the dining room, while “cherub” fixtures hang on the walls.
The concept was so simple yet ingenious. Provide a wholesome, fun place for families, kids, couples, and school groups to come to celebrate their successes. Provide a simple menu of burgers, sandwiches, and creative ice cream treats. The menu was printed in a tabloid-style newspaper. The largest 50-scoop sundae, the "Zoo," was delivered with great fanfare by multiple employees carrying it wildly around the restaurant on a stretcher accompanied by the sound of ambulance sirens. 

Throw in a candy store for that old-fashioned effect, and make the place fun for everyone.
The ice cream parlour concept was based on the New York City parlours of old; the rest came from Bob Farrell’s upbringing in New York, with delicatessens and corner candy stores. Apparently, it worked - people came in droves.
Bob Farrell recollected the first day in his book: "We ran out of ice cream and bananas. We bought all the hamburgers the store above us could grind. We cleaned out every hamburger bun, head of lettuce and tomato we could get from area stores."
In 1970 a new retail growth industry had just begun to boom - the enclosed shopping center. From Farrell’s standpoint, this was a perfect vehicle for growth - a captive market of mall shoppers, less up-front capital costs to construct a parlour, and all exterior maintenance handled by the shopping mall in exchange for a nominally higher rent. It was a win-win situation for Farrell. A lease agreement was signed for Woodfield Mall.

In 2019, the World's last Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour closed.
The Illinois Locations:
    • Ford City Shopping Center, 7451 S. Cicero Avenue , Chicago, IL.
    • North Riverside Shopping Center, 7501 W. Cermak Rd., North Riverside, IL.
    • Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg, IL.
    • Northwoods Mall, 126 Northwoods Mall, Peoria, IL.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

About Robert "Bob" Farrell
Robert "Bob" Farrell, who co-founded a popular chain of ice cream parlours that were the home of countless children's birthday parties, died Friday, August 14, 2015, in Vancouver after an extended illness.

His death was announced by Farrell's Ice Cream Parlours on its Facebook page late Friday. The company said Farrell passed away with his wife, Ramona, and family by his side. He was 87 years old.

Farrell, who was originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., opened the first Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour in Portland in 1963. By 1970, he had opened 55 shops throughout the West. The chain later expanded to more than 130 shops after it was sold to the Marriot Corp. in 1973, and Farrell remained the company's spokesman until just prior to its sale to an investment group in 1985. Several Farrells still operate in Southern California under a new company.

Later, Farrell became a part-owner of Pacific Coast Restaurants Inc. and helped build a string of Stanford's and Newport Bay restaurants in Oregon, Washington, and Northern California. In 1995, Farrell left the restaurant business and became a customer service consultant, speaking to employees of companies such as Nordstrom, Nike, and Safeway about putting customers' interests first.

And Farrell loved to talk about customer service, including an infamous anecdote about a diner who once was charged for an extra pickle at one of his restaurants. In the story, a regular customer had been receiving a free extra pickle whenever he asked for it, and was angered when a new waitress charged him a nickel for the extra pickle. The customer wrote Farrell, saying he would stop coming to the restaurant because of the charge. Farrell made amends with the customer by writing him a letter and offering a free ice cream sundae. The phrase "Give 'em the pickle" became a customer service motto for the company.

"The customer is the boss," Farrell said in 1989, recalling the incident. "There are three little words we always want them to say -- 'I'll be back.' There's not a better job in the world than making someone happy."

Farrell was born in 1927 in Brooklyn, New York, and joined the Air Force in 1945 after graduating from high school. After World War II ended, he served at radar stations in the Pacific Northwest. After completing his business degree, he worked as a salesman and manager for the Libby Foods company before opening his first ice cream parlour in Portland in 1963. Farrell made an appearance on TV's "The Merv Griffin Show," and in 1976, he received the Horatio Alger Award from Norman Vincent Peale. At one point, Farrell's held the record for the World's Largest Sundae in the Guinness Book of Records.

Farrell's ice cream shops had an old-fashioned feel to them and were a popular spot for birthday celebrations, which featured free sundaes and waiters singing "Happy Birthday."

One of the stories he would tell in his customer service presentations involved a birthday party gone awry not long after the first Farrell's opened. An upset customer came to pay his bill. Farrell learned that the man's son was celebrating his sixth birthday, but nobody had given him his free sundae or singing "Happy Birthday."

Farrell went straight to the fountain and made a sundae, topping it with a birthday candle. Then he asked the boy his name, stood up on a table, and yelled for everybody in the restaurant to be quiet.

"We made a mistake," Farrell said. "We didn't sing Happy Birthday to Alex, and I want all of you to help us sing it now."

The result was one ecstatic boy who became a loyal customer. Farrell said he continued to see Alex years later and that he still had the birthday photo taken at the restaurant.

"I didn't sell ice cream," Farrell said of his years with the ice cream parlour. "I sold a good time. The ice cream was the vehicle." 

The Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour Restaurants Story.

Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour Restaurants Commercial.

Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour Restaurants Crew Delivering Farrell's 'Zoo.'

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Oldest Settlements, Villages and Towns in Illinois.

This is a short history of some of the oldest villages and towns in what is now the State of Illinois. Click on the hyperlinks for an in-depth history of the settlement.

Peoria was settled in 1680. French explorers René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle (Sieur du La Salle is a title only: translating to "Lord of the Manor.") and Henri de Tonti built Fort Crevecoeur. But there is strong evidence that this area was inhabited as far back as 10,000 BC by Paleo-Indians.
Main Street, Peoria, Illinois
Considering Cahokia was bustling in the early 
9th century, this is the oldest community in Illinois. This settlement was the most sophisticated pre-Columbian civilization north of Mexico. French Cahokia, founded in 1699, was not the first French outpost, but it was the earliest settlement that survived more than a few years. At its height, Cahokia had a higher population than London, England did during the same time period.
Cahokia Mounds
The Alton area was home to Native Americans for thousands of years before the 19th-century founding by European Americans of the modern city. Historical accounts indicate the occupation of this area by the Illiniwek or Illinois Confederacy at the time of European contact. An early native settlement is demonstrated by archaeological artifacts and the now famous prehistoric Piasa bird painted on a cliff face nearby. The image was first written about in 1673 by French missionary Father Jacques Marquette who described seeing this mythical creature. Alton was developed as a river town in 1818 by Rufus Easton, who named it after his son. Easton ran a passenger ferry service across the Mississippi River to the Missouri shore. Alton is located amid the confluence of three significant navigable rivers: the Illinois, Mississippi, and Missouri
On July 31, 1837, the State legislature incorporated Alton as a city, with John Marshal Krum elected as Alton's first mayor. It was the site of the last Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debate in October 1858.
The Carved and Painted Piasa Bird in Alton, Illinois
Kaskaskia was a majorly important French colonial village. Its first stone church was built in 1714. It was then taken over by the Virginia militia during the Revolutionary War. Kaskaskia was designated as the capital of the Northwest Territory (1784-1800), and it even served as the capital of Illinois briefly.
Kaskaskia, Illinois - First Stone Church, Built in 1714.
The village of Shawneetown was established in 1748 by the Pekowi Shawnee. Pekowi was the name of one of the five divisions (or bands) of the Shawnee Indians. Some 60 years later, it was visited by Lewis and Clark. In 1816, the first bank chartered in Illinois was in Shawneetown. A devastating flood went through the area in the 1930s, leading to a near abandonment of "old Shawneetown."
When the State Bank of Illinois was built in 1839-1841 in a Greek Revival style, the building featured five Doric columns, which is the view as unusual as normally, buildings would have an even number. The building was built to house the offices of the Bank of Illinois at Shawneetown. When the bank opened its doors in 1841, banks had the right to print and issue their own paper money. A piece of bank-issued paper money was called a "banknote." The Bank suspended operations in 1843, but the building housed numerous financial institutions from 1854 to the 1930s. Note the water tank for public drinking.
Edwardsville holds the distinction of being the third oldest city in Illinois. In 1805, Thomas Kirkpatrick moved up to this area and named it after his good friend, Ninian Edwards, hence Edwardsville. Five Illinois governors have come from Edwardsville.
Frank Catalano stood in front of his "Hi-Way Tavern" in Edwardsville, Illinois for this photograph while Route 66 was being repaved in 1939.
More of the oldest towns in Illinois: 
  • Illinoistown; was a central Mississippi river crossing settlement to the west.
  • Prairie du RocherAccording to Jesuit history, Prairie du Rocher was incorporated into a village in the year 1722. 
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

History of Chicago's Shipbuilding Industry.

Shipbuilding in Chicago has always been tied to the city's status as a port. When Chicago flourished as a port it was the site of a thriving shipbuilding industry. As the port has waned so has shipbuilding.

The first ship built in Chicago, the Clarissa, was begun in the spring of 1835 by Nelson R. Norton, but was not completed, or launched, until May 18, 1836. The Detroit, Capt. John Crawford, was built at Milwaukee in 1836-37 for the Chicago trade, at a cost of $50,000. This vessel was lost off Kenosha, Wisconsin in November, 1837, after only six months service. Around 1836, an association of the then young, energetic and enterprising citizens was formed, and they commenced the building of the steamer James Allen. It was completed in 1838, Capt. C. H. Case having charge of its construction. The shipyard was on "Goose Island." The Allen was built to be fast, and to run across Lake Michigan from St. Joseph to Chicago, in connection with the stage and mail line. Her hull was narrow and sharp in form, and light in material.' Two powerful, low pressure, horizontal engines were put on the guards, on the main deck. The boilers were small, and, on trial, proved to be in sufficient. When the Jim Allen had steam up and started on her trial trip for St. Joseph, she went out of Chicago at a speed that pleased, as well as astonished, her owner and designer. The first fourteen miles were run inside of an hour. Then the engines began to " slow up, " and the voyage took about ten hours. Every effort was made to keep up the supply of steam to the two large engines, but the result was the same as experienced during the outward trip. To use the expression of her commander, she would run the first thirty minutes "like a skeered dog," then her speed would gradually slacken to about seven miles an hour, and nothing could coax her to do any better. For two seasons, notwithstanding the utmost exertions taken, there was no improvement in the Allen's average rate of speed, and she was then sold and taken to the lower lakes.

The George W. Dole was also built by Captain Case, soon after the completion of the James Allen, and the two ran together over the St. Joseph and Michigan City route. The former was sunk at Buffalo, in 1856, having previously been changed into a sailing vessel. These were the first and only steamers built in Chicago previous to 1842. In 1842 Capt. James Averell established a shipyard, on the North side, just below Rush street bridge, and very soon after Thomas Lamb commenced business near the same place. The shipyards of Chicago were now beginning to present unusual signs of activity. In 1845 there were constructed the schooners Maria Hilliard, J. Young Scammon, and Ark; in 1846 the barque Utica, brig Ellen Parker, and schooner N. C. Walton. In 1847 eighty schooners had been, or were being built in Chicago, one brig and one propeller—the A. Rosseter—a total tonnage of 4,833. Nineteen schooners, one propeller and one brig owned by Chicago people. The leading ship-builders at this time were Jordan, Miller & Conners. The latter afterward formed a partnership with Riordan & Dunn, on the South side, near the VanBuren street bridge.

By the late 1840s, 82 ships had been built in the city, the overwhelming majority of them schooners. Shipbuilding was of great importance in Chicago during the period 1850 to 1875, when Chicago was the busiest port city in the United States. Wooden ships, both steam and sail, made up the bulk of the lake commercial fleet. Shipbuilders were attracted to Chicago because of its busy port and the fact that it was the lumber center of America. Scores of shipyards were located both along the North Branch and the South Branch of the Chicago River.

The largest and most important shipbuilder was Miller Brothers & Co., located on the Chicago River just above the Chicago Avenue Bridge. The firm built steamships, tugs, canal boats, and schooners. When the shipping industry was booming the Miller Brothers dry docks, the largest on Lake Michigan, were constantly occupied with ships being rebuilt while carpenters were busy with one or more new ships. The busiest time of year for new ship construction was in the late winter and early spring. Sailors idled by the close of shipping joined with the professional ships' carpenters and caulkers to finish new vessels before the navigation season began again in April.

William Wallace Bates, the most influential shipbuilder working on the Great Lakes during the age of sail, operated a shipyard in Chicago in the 1860s and 1870s. Bates turned out a series of clipper schooners renowned for their carrying capacity and speed. Even more important than new shipbuilding was the city's role as a place to repair or rebuild existing ships. With as many as five hundred vessels annually wintering in the Chicago River, the shipyards of the city were kept busy maintaining the fleet. The ship chandlers of the city were also extremely important, as they supplied sails and cordage to the bulk of the Lake Michigan marine.

The decline of wooden shipbuilding brought the decline of Chicago as a construction site. The Chicago River was too small to serve as a building site for the four- and five-hundred-foot-long steel ships demanded by the grain and iron ore trade in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Chicago River shipyards remained active by focusing on small boat or yacht construction. During World War II the Henry Grebe shipyard, on the North Branch of the river, produced the last wooden ships built in Chicago-minesweepers for the U.S. Navy. By that time the servicing and construction of large vessels shifted with the bulk of the city's commercial traffic to the Calumet Region.

The Chicago Shipbuilding Company was the most important of the steel shipbuilding firms in Chicago. Founded in 1890 as a subsidiary of the Globe Iron Works of Cleveland, the company launched in its inaugural year the Marina, the first steel-hulled ship built on Lake Michigan. By 1899 the company was widely regarded as the most progressive and prolific shipbuilder on the Great Lakes. In that year, the company merged with the other large steel shipbuilders on the lakes to form the American Shipbuilding Company. Under the control of the new company the Chicago yards continued to produce new ships, although repair and conversion became an increasingly important part of their business.

Chicago shipyards produced vessels for federal service in the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. With the advent of vessels over a thousand feet long, fewer and fewer ships were capable of meeting the needs of lake commerce. The American Shipbuilding Company limited its Chicago yard to smaller jobs such as scows and barges-taking advantage of Chicago's location at the meeting place of the Mississippi and Great Lakes waterways.
U.S. Navy minesweeper under construction at Henry C. Grebe & Co. shipyard on the west bank of the North Branch of the Chicago River, June 1952.
The opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959 promised a resurgence of the shipping industry in Chicago. Any resurgence was forestalled, however, by the limited size of the seaway's locks and by federal shipping policy. By the late twentieth century, shipbuilding had ceased to be an important activity not only in Chicago but on Lake Michigan. 

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.