Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Chicago Firsts Through 1880.

The first Negro slave in Chicago, of which we have heard, was "Black Jim," owned by John Kinzie and brought here by him in 1804.

The first coroner's inquest was over the body of a dead Indian.

On April 6, 1812, Indians murder the first settlers in cold blood at Lee's Place / Hardscrabble.

One of the buildings, Pointe de Sable (the "du" of Point du Sable is a misnomer. It is an American corruption of "de" as pronounced in French, "Jean Baptiste Point de Sable" and first appears long after his death) had built was the first bakery that supplied Fort Dearborn with fresh bread.

First election, Aug. 7, 1826.

The first ferry was established at Lake Street. 1829.

The first ferryman was Mark Beaubien.

First bridge across the south branch, near Randolph Street crossing, 1830.

The first county roads were established (State Street, Archer Avenue, Madison Street, and Ogden Avenue) in June 1831.

First postoffice, 1831.

The first bridge over the north branch, 1832.

First Issue of the Chicago Democrat, Nov. 26, 1833.

First shipment from the port of Chicago, 1883.

First Drawbridge, Dearborn Street, 1834. 

First fire company formed. Pioneer, 1834. 

First railroad chartered, Chicago & Galena Union, Jan. 16, 1836. 

The first theater opened in October 1837.

First Chicago steamer, James Allen, built 1838.

Chicago Daily American was issued on April 9. 1839.

The permanent establishment of public free schools, 1840.

Clark Street Bridge was built in 1840. 

Wells Street Bridge was built in 1841.

First Negro sold at auction Nov. 14, 1842.

Chicago Daily Journal issued April 22. 1844.

Chicago was first lit with gas Sept. 4, 1850

First Cook County murderer hanged July 10. 1840, three miles south of the city, on the fake shore. His name was John Stone. The crime was committed in the Town of Jefferson. 

The first civil execution among the whites here was that of John Stone, who was hanged on July 10, 1840, for the murder of Mrs. Thompson. The place of execution was the racecourse, some three miles south of the river, near the lakeshore, back of Myrick's Tavern. A portion of Col. Beaubien's 60th Regiment was improvised as a guard for the occasion, the command of which Col. J.B. Beaubien transferred to Lieut. Col. Seth Johnson. The return of the procession brought back the body of Stone, which was given by the sheriff to the doctors for dissection. [We will here refer to what was probably the last execution at this place of an Indian by his comrades. It occurred in the fall of 1832, or the ensuing winter, after a council or their form of a trial. Being adjudged worthy of death, the man was taken outside, into the brush, south of Randolph Street, near where Market Street is now (Today’s Wacker Drive), and executed, probably by shooting. Our informant, who was an early settler here, says such was the statement confidently told at the time, though he had no personal knowledge of the matter beyond the assurance of others.]

The first map of Chicago was by James Thompson, the surveyor employed by the State Canal Commissioners to lay out the village. This map bore the date August 4, 1830, and the original was in the Recorder's Office and was probably burned. It is understood that the first plat of the village gave Chicago a public levee upon the plan of the western river towns. Our levee was located on the south side, from South Water Street to the river. But the lake vessels could not find it expedient to conform to the ways of the shallow draft of the Mississippi valley waters, and so the Chicago levee was abandoned, and the ground was sold, docked, and built upon.
Original plat map of Chicago by James Thompson, 1830.

The first street leading to Lake Michigan was laid out on April 25, 1832; it commenced at what was called the east end of Water Street and is described by Jedediah Wooley, surveyor, as follows: "from the east end of Water Street" (at the west line of the Reservation, or State street?) in the town of Chicago, to Lake Michigan; direction of said road is south 88½ degrees east, from the street to the lake, 18 chains 50 links. Said street was laid out 50 feet wide. The viewers on this occasion also believe that said road is of public utility and a convenient passage from the town to the lake." 

The first extended highway regularly laid out in Chicago was "The Green Bay Road," in 1835, under the direction of Gen. Scott, U.S.A.

The first white man's tannery was that of John Miller. It stood (1831) near to and on the north side of his Brother Samuel Miller's tavern, near the Junction.

The first regularly appointed auctioneer was James Kinzie.

The first Debating Society formed here was organized during the winter of 1831 comprising nearly all the male population, mostly within Fort Dearborn. Col. J.B. Beaubien was chosen  as President.

The first Druggist was Philo Carpenter, who arrived in Chicago in July 1832; his store was a small log building near the east end of the Lake Street Bridge. Mr. Carpenter next occupied a log building, just vacated by Geo. W. Dole, who had moved into his new store. 

The first steamboat fuel furnished by Chicago was in 1832 when Captain Walker of the "Sheldon Thompson" bought an old log cabin and took it on board for his return down the Lake. [She is a neat, substantial three-masted boat of two hundred and eighteen tons burden, driven by a horizontal, low-pressure engine, and commanded by Capt. Walker.]

The first printed list of Advertised Letters was in number seven of Mr. Calhoun's paper, the Chicago Democrat, January 7, 1834. The list comprised one letter, namely, for Erastus Bowen.

The first Fair was held by "the ladies of the Protestant Episcopal Church of this Town" on June 18, 1835, and is referred to in the village newspaper as "a novelty” in Chicago."

Not in 1835 (as stated December 5, 1875, in one of the Chicago Times articles, headed "By-Gone Days" those pleasantly told stories, even though occasionally marred with typographical, accidental, or sensational errors, which we shall notice hereafter) but July 4, 1836, was the first spadesful of earth thrown out in the digging of the Illinois and Michigan Canal.

The first rock for the harbor piers was furnished by John K. Boyer.

The first dray (a cart for delivering beer barrels or other heavy loads, especially a low one without sides) in Chicago was shipped from the Hudson by Philo Carpenter. The first specimen of a pleasure vehicle, "the one-horse dray," which appeared here, was when a gentleman and his bride rode into town in one in the spring of 1834.

The first two-wheeled pleasure carriage seen here was that owned by Col. J.B. Beaubien and brought from the East. It is said that the residence, upon its arrival, paid it distinguished honor, "turning out in procession and parading the streets."

The first engraver on wood or metal was S.D. Childs, Sr.

The first church bell was placed upon the Unitarian Church edifice, 87-93 Washington Street, January 1845.

The first vessel larger than a "shell" built here was the "Clarissa" launched in May 1836.

The first public edifice erected by the County of Cook was an estray pen. [A corral erected with county funds in March 1832 on the southwest corner of the public square, meant to hold lost hogs, cattle, and horses until their owners could claim them, was built by Samuel Miller, who asked $20 for his effort but settled for $12; the estray pen was Chicago’s first public structure.]

The first "Balloon" built in Chicago or elsewhere (a popular style of spike-fastened light-frame buildings, which astonished by their firmness of the old-fashioned mortise and tenon builders) was erected in the fall of 1832 by George W. Snow and stood near the Lakeshore. It was but a slight affair, yet served for a while as his place of business and to protect his goods or freight received by vessel. We may here add that the greater share of said freight was made up of whiskey or other kinds of the ardent.

The first steam engine built in Chicago, was made and put up by Ira Miltimore. It was used to run a sawmill located on the north branch, near the residence of the late Archibald Clybourn.

The first suggestion we think on record (or off) by a Chicagoan or indeed "any other man" for the establishment, in each of our Collegiate Institutions, of a Professorship to occupy "A Chair of Integrity," for the teaching of that ancient and important accomplishment honesty, now so rare in our public men or officials, (not to speak of others,) was contained in an address by the late Hon. William B. Ogden, not long since, before the Board of Trustees of the Chicago University.

The first book printed in Chicago was consumed by fire in the bindery late in 1840. Scammon's Reports, vol.1. Four incomplete copies were not in that fire.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

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