Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Willard F. Myrick (1809-1889), a brief biography of a Chicagoan.

Willard F. Myrick arrived in Chicago in October of 1836 from the shores of Lake Champlain, Vermont, where he was born. Soon after his arrival in Chicago, he bought 70 acres on the lakefront between the present 35th and 43rd streets.
Myrick's stockyard on 28th Street is an ancestor of Union Stock Yards. He opened "Myrick's House" in 1839 which was a noted stop for drovers and cattlemen to buy food and drinks and enjoy shadier entertainments. Over the next few years, Myrick added a hotel, barrack style apartments, a betting parlor, and a racing track at 29th and Cottage Grove. All flourished in the rapidly growing city, often to the dismay of respectable citizens. 
The drawing depicts Myrick's operation in the mid-1840s.
Chicago's first census shows 398 dwellings, grocery [EXPLANATION], and provisions stores and 29 (green) groceries. Taverns outnumbered churches but not lawyers.

In 1854 John B. Sherman bought it and expanded the operation. All the local stockyards were eventually acquired by Sherman and consolidated to form the massive Union Stockyards in 1865.

Myrick Avenue, now Vernon Avenue, was named after Willard F. Myrick. Myrick is buried in the Oak Woods Cemetery, Chicago.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

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