Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Personal Letter Excerpts from Benjamin Barker to his brother Jacob Barker as Chicago incorporates as a town in 1833.

On September 6, 1832, Benjamin F. Barker was renting a cabin for $3 a month at Chicago and by letter to his brother (Jacob) in the East, reported that money was plentiful and requested he send salt and flour. 
By January 1833 he chopped wood to feed his family, the only work available and observed that the situation of the Indians was desperate, thousands were starving. In March he rented a farm eight miles north and asked for a strong wagon and barrels of salt. Barker was listed as a subscriber to the Chicago Democrat in November. Chicago incorporates as a town on August 12, 1833 with a population of 350.

In February of 1834 Benjamin hauled wood to town with a small wagon and oxen and requested a stock of dry goods be sent. By March he owned a shop in town and had built a house for his family. Reporting in May that competition was great and liquor was in great demand. At the end of July he wrote from Juliet [Joliet] - money was scarce in Chicago where a grocery existed on every corner, and the country was delightful.

Letters to Jacob A. Barker are preserved at the Chicago History Museum.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

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