Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The John Rawle Cut-Stone Contractor, Chicago, Illinois. 1872

John Rawle, cut-stone contractor (or quarryman), was born at Exford, Somersetshire, England, on May 3, 1843, and is a son of John and Mary (Poole) Rawle. He received a common school education in the vicinity of his birthplace, and then learned the trade of a stone cutter and carver, which he followed in his native country for several years; he was also a draughtsman in the office of Sir Charles Fox, who was the engineer of the first London World's Exposition, in 1851, and of a number of railroads in Russia, China, Japan, and South America.

In 1868, Mr. Rawle came to America, landing at Portland, Maine, in May. He there worked at his trade for a time, and subsequently removed to St. Louis, where he remained until the fall of 1868, when he came to Chicago. He shortly afterward went to New York, and from there to England, where he remained until the spring of 1869, and then returned to Chicago, of which city he has since been a resident, with the exception of a short time that he was engaged in business at Washington, Daviess County, Indiana
In the spring of 1872, he established himself in the business John Rawle Cut-Stone Contractors located at 570-598 South Morgan Street (today: Morgan & 14th Place), Chicago, and has since held a prominent position with the architects, builders, and contractors, having, in the course of his business, furnished cut-stone for many of the finest buildings in Chicago and throughout the United States. His extensive business occupied 377 feet on Morgan street and 215 feet on Henry street (today: 14th Place).

Mr. Rawle, like many others, sustained heavy losses, nearly losing his all in the great panic of 1873[1], and it was only by his indomitable energy, perseverance, tireless industry and the most rigid economy in the man agement of his business that he was able to weather the storm.

He purchased the Carbondale brownstone quarry and later the Southern Illinois brownstone quarry, both of which were located at Bosky Dell, Jackson County, Illinois.

He took an active part in the formation of the Carbondale Brown-Stone Company, of which he was president and treasurer. The product of this company is largely in demand from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from Lake Superior to the Gulf of Mexico. Its yards at present occupy Nos. 468-478 Fifth Avenue. Of the sixty-five firms which started in business in 1872, there are but two other firms besides his that have retained their existence until the present time, which is due to his attention to business and the superior quality of his workmanship. In 1884, he married Miss Augusta E. Zick, a native of this city and a daughter of Daniel and Augusta Zick and had three children.

Rawle also invented a unicycle which experts claimed would revolutionize the world of wheels.
Click for a full size image.

Click for a full size image.

SPECIFICATION forming part of Letters Patent No. 482,100, dated September 6, 1892.
Application filed August 30, 1891. Serial No. 404,333. (No model.)

[1] The Panic of 1873 was a financial crisis that triggered a depression in Europe and North America that lasted from 1873 until 1879, and even longer in some countries (France and Britain). The Panic of 1873 and the subsequent depression had several underlying causes, of which economic historians debate the relative importance. American post-Civil War inflation, rampant speculative investments (overwhelmingly in railroads), the demonetization of silver in Germany and the US, a large trade deficit, ripples from economic dislocation in Europe resulting from the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71), property losses in the Chicago (1871) and Boston (1872) fires, and other factors put a massive strain on bank reserves, which plummeted in New York City during September and October 1873 from $50 million to $17 million in US dollars.

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