Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The history of the Cholera Cemetery also known as the Lake and Wabash Burial Site in 1832 Chicago.

This burial site, now the northwest corner of Lake and Wabash, was used in 1832 to quickly bury soldiers from Fort Dearborn who died of Cholera. The Chicago Tribune of August 8, 1897, described the location as the west side of Wabash, between Lake and South Water Streets. Early reports described the site as being on the same corner as where the Brown & Tuttle's American Temperance House was later built on the same corner of Lake Street and Wabash Avenue.” A later report stated that the "Leander J McCormick Building" was erected on the same corner in 1872.
The Harold Washington City College is on the site of the Cholera Cemetery.
Four steamers, the Henry Clay, Superior, Sheldon Thompson, and William Penn were chartered by the United States Government for the purpose of transporting troops, equipment, and provisions to Chicago, during the Black Hawk War, but, owing to the fearful ravages, made by the breaking out of the Asiatic cholera among the troops and crew on board, the Henry Clay and the Superior, were compelled to abandon their voyage, proceeding no further than Fort Gratiot. The disease became so violent on board of the Henry Clay that nothing like discipline could be observed, everything in the way of subordination ceased. 
During the trip, nearly one-fourth of the soldiers and crew contracted cholera, and several were buried at sea.
As soon as the steamer came to the dock in Chicago on July 10, 1832, each man sprang on shore, hoping to escape from a scene so terrific and appalling. Some fled to the fields, some to the woods, while others lay down on the streets, and under the cover of the riverbank, where most of them died unwept and alone. Eighteen more died and were quickly buried in a mass grave at this site.

In the next four days, 54 more soldiers died of the disease and were also buried here. Reports indicate that a total of 88 soldiers died, and about 72 more were buried at this location. One victim has been identified as 2nd Lt. Franklin McDultie of Rochester, New Hampshire who died on July 15, 1832.

Today the Harold Washington College is on top of where the Cholera Cemetery was.

Further Reading: The Cemetery History of Early Chicago.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Monday, November 11, 2019

The history of the Green Bay Trail also known as the "Old Jambeau Trail."


In historical writing and analysis, PRESENTISM is the introduction of present-day ideas and perspectives into depictions or interpretations of the past. I believe presentism is a form of cultural bias, and it creates a distorted understanding of the subject matter. Reading modern notions of morality into the past is committing the error of presentism. I'm well aware that historical accounts are written by people and can be slanted, so I try my hardest to present articles that are fact based and well researched, without interjecting any of my personal opinions.


Eleven or twelve thousand years ago, it is likely that woolly mammoths traveled along an Ice Age migration path that formed the original Green Bay trail. Geologist Herman Bender of the University of Wisconsin states that geologic and climatic conditions favored the woolly on its northward migration along the Lake Border Moraine (an accumulation of earth and stones deposited by a glacier). Ice Age hunters followed in pursuit; evidence of this exists in Kenosha where spear points and woolly mammoth bones were discovered in the only confirmed woolly mammoth slaughter site east of the Mississippi River.

As Galena, Illinois was the objective of the thoroughfares leading westward from Chicago, so Green Bay was the terminus of the ancient highway to the north. Lying at the mouth of Fox River, on the earliest known water route from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi, La Baye (Fort La Baye was constructed in 1717. The town of La Baye was incorporated in 1754. At the end of the Seven Years' War, it went under British control in 1761 and was renamed Green Bay), as the place was known to the French, was the earliest settlement of white men west of the Great Lakes. To this vicinity in 1634 came the venturesome Jean Nicolet (1598-1642), seeking the long-desired waterway to China and the untold wealth of the Orient. 

Here Louis Jolliet and Père Jacques Marquette paused in the spring of 1673, outward bound on their voyage of discovery to the Mississippi (the Indians pronounced "Mississippi" as "Sinnissippi;" meaning "rocky waters"), and to the Jesuit mission already established here, Marquette returned for rest and recuperation when the momentous expedition had terminated. For three generations La Baye continued to be an important center in the French scheme of empire in the Northwest. Then came the downfall of New France, and although the English promptly established a garrison at Green Bay, it was withdrawn during Pontiac's war of 1763, and never restored.

For half a century Green Bay ceased to be a garrison town. But the old French settlement did not die, and the factor of geography to which its birth had originally been due continued to render Green Bay an important center of Indian trade. Although nominally American soil from the close of the Revolution in 1783, the place remained virtually a British outpost until after the War of 1812. In that struggle, the residents of Green Bay bound up in the Indian trade, sided unanimously with Great Britain, and at its close the government of the United States, determined at last to assert its sovereignty over the Northwest, proceeded to establish Fort Howard (1812-1841) at the mouth of Fox River at Prairie du Chien. This, together with Fort Crawford (first fort 1816–1832, second fort 1832-1856) at Prairie Du Chien, reinforced a dozen years later by the building of Fort Winnebago (1828-1845) at the Fox-Wisconsin Portage, enabled the government effectually to assert its authority over the denizens, tribesmen and traders alike, of Wisconsin.

To the Indians, as later to the white man, Green Bay and Chicago were places of importance, and the two were, of course, connected by well-established trails. These the white man found on his coming to the country and, adopting them for his own, proceeded to develop them into highways of civilized travel. Nowhere in America, perhaps, have clearer statements of the process of this transformation been recorded than in connection with the Green Bay road. 

In 1792, a Frenchman living in Green Bay Wisconsin, who worked for the American Fur Company was assigned to establish trading posts near Indian villages. His name was Jacques Vieau Sr., but Indians had difficulty pronouncing his name so they called him "Jean Beau," or Jambeau. Jambeau's trading post at Skunk Grove, seven miles west of Lake Michigan, was in today's town of Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin. The trail between Green Bay and Chicago became known as the "Old Jambeau trail" and became a set route for travel by horseback and foot alike.

Andrew J. Vieau, whose father came as a trader to Milwaukee in 1795, speaking of the road between Green Bay and Milwaukee in 1837, writes: "This path was originally an Indian trail and very crooked but the whites would straighten it by cutting across lots each winter with their jumpers (a "Jumper" was the type of sled known as a French Train, consisting of a box some six feet long and three feet wide, which was drawn over the surface of the snow), wearing bare streaks through the thin covering, to be followed in the summer by foot and horseback travel along the shortened path."

The Indians, like his white successors, ordinarily had a choice of routes by which to travel to his chosen destination. The terms Green Bay trail and Green Bay road are used in their broad sense to include the more important variants of the route between the two cities.
CLICK MAP FOR A FULL-SIZE VIEW
The trail began at Chicago with two alternative routes, each of which gave rise, in the period of white settlement to an important highway. The first, which is the one more commonly identified with the Green Bay road, started at the north end of the Michigan Boulevard bridge and ran north along the height of land between the lakeshore and the North Branch. The route led north on Rush Street as far as Chicago Avenue and from here northwesterly for a mile to the intersection of Clark Street and North Avenue. In the earlier life of the city, this diagonal path was represented by a road, but modern city building pays little heed to the preservation of Indian trails, and all traces of this diagonal path have long since disappeared. Professor Halsey, the industrious historian of Lake County, records that in 1860 he lived at the southern end of this diagonal, and it was then and for several years afterward known as the Green Bay Road. Continuing northward, the trail kept inland from the lakeshore some distance, coming in sight of it between Chicago and Milwaukee only at Grosse Point. It passed Waukegan three miles inland, Kenosha five miles, and Racine about the same distance.
Chicago area map of the Green Bay Trail.
The alternative trail out of Chicago started from the west side of the forks of the river and ran along the divide between the North Branch and the Des Plaines Rivers for a distance of fourteen or fifteen miles. Crossing the latter river, it kept close to the west bank as far as the Gurnee Ford in Warren Township, Lake County. Here it recrossed to the east side, and running three miles to the northeast joined the trail which has already been described.

This trail from Chicago up the Des Plaines Valley gave rise in the early period of white settlement to two country roads which today find a place on the map of Chicago as important diagonal city streets. One of these was Elston Road [Avenue], which Andreas describes as "a crooked wagon track leading from Kinzie Street through the Township of Jefferson, the western part of Niles and through Northfield towards Deerfield." The other was Milwaukee Road, which has become within the city Milwaukee Avenue. The two streets run parallel for a distance of nine or ten miles when Elston merges into Milwaukee.

The Milwaukee Road, from this point, continued northward through Wheeling, Half Day and Libertyville. A mile north of Libertyville it veered to the northeast, and recrossed the Des Plaines at Gurnee, and joined the Green Bay Road three miles beyond that point.

From Milwaukee to Green Bay there were two distinct trails, both of which became the routes of important roads. The lakeshore route ran in a direct line to Saukville on Milwaukee River, four miles west of Port Washington. From here to Manitowoc Rapids it followed the general course of the lakeshore, although keeping for the most part to the higher ground some distance inland from the beach. At Manitowoc Rapids, it turned sharply inland and ran in a northwesterly direction to Green Bay.

The alternative route ran northwest from Milwaukee past Menominee Falls to Rubicon Post Office in Dodge County. Here it turned due north across Dodge to Fond du Lac at the foot of Lake Winnebago. It then skirted the eastern shore of the lake, through Taycheedah and Brothertown, struck the Fox River opposite Wrightstown, and followed the southern bank through Depere to its termination at Green Bay.

The earliest accounts of travel over the Green Bay Trail are the narratives of the mail carriers who before the coming of the settlers traversed the wilderness between Fort Howard and Fort Dearborn. At first, this task was performed by a soldier, detailed for the purpose by the commander of one of the forts. Despite the early importance of the Green Bay settlement, its remoteness from the rest of the civilized world made the expense of maintaining a mail route too great for the Post Office Department to undertake. Henry S. Baird, who came to Wisconsin in 1824, relates that in summer the mail was conveyed in sailing vessels, and the townsmen were often without news from the outside world for weeks in succession. In winter-time, a mail-carrier was hired to make monthly trips to Chicago, his pay being supplied in part from an allowance by the quartermaster at the fort, in part by popular subscription. How anxiously the arrival of the mail was awaited can today be but dimly imagined. If for any reason the carrier was delayed beyond the expected time, the presumption was that he had been detained by the Indians or fallen a victim to starvation.

The narrative of John H. Fonda, "who ran the mail" between Fort Howard and Fort Dearborn in the winter of 1826, supplies an interesting picture of the conditions encountered on such a journey. Strange indeed would be the figure cut by Fonda and his French-Canadian companion if encountered today on the busy cement-paved highway between Green Bay and Milwaukee or Chicago. Fonda was garbed in "a smoke tanned buckskin hunting shirt, trimmed leggings of the same material, a wolf-skin chapeau with the animal's tail still attached, and moccasins of elk-hide." He carried a heavy mountaineer's rifle with a shortened barrel and a strap so attached that it could be slung over his back. A powder-horn hung by a strap from his shoulder, while a belt around his waist held a sheath knife and a pair of pistols, in addition to a short-handled ax. Attached to the belt, also, was a pouch of mink-skin in which he carried his rifle bullets.

The appearance of Boiseley, the Canadian, was still stranger. He was short and thick-set, while to his long arms were appended huge hands of tremendous grasp. His small head was covered with coarse black hair, while his eyes, small and black, were piercing as those of a rattlesnake. Accoutered in a style similar to the garb of Fonda, he sported a long Indian gun and always carried in his belt a large knife, pistol, and hatchet. His bullet pouch and horn hung under his arm. Like most of the voyageurs, he was superstitious, and tied by sinew thongs to his horn were several charms which were supposed to possess some mysterious power to preserve the wearer from harm. The most important item of the outfit, however, was the receptacle that contained the mail -- a flat tin box or cannister, covered with untanned deer hide. 

The round trip of nearly 500 miles usually consumed a month by foot, and since the region traversed was an utter wilderness the men were thrown entirely upon their own resources. For food they chiefly depended upon the Indians and on such game as they might shoot en route; but since both these sources of supply were highly uncertain they carried by way of reserve a bag of parched corn, to be eaten only in case of special need. The nights were sometimes spent in an Indian village, but more commonly before a campfire in the woods, wrapped in the blankets which they carried on their backs. Leaving Green Bay on foot, laden with arms, blankets, and provisions, the two men followed the Indian trail to the southeast, passing through dense woods of pine interspersed with cedar swamps, and now and then a grove of red oak. As they penetrated deeper into the primeval forest the tracks of fisher and mink became more frequent. Herds of deer that had made their "yard" in the heavily timbered bottoms were roused at intervals, while an encounter with an occasional wildcat lent its variety to the journey. At one place they camped for the night on the bank of a small stream which issued from a live spring and flowed over the rocks in several beautiful cascades. Under a projecting bank, Boiseley found the water literally alive with trout and taking from his pack the light camp kettle he dipped out as many as the two men could consume and fried them over the fire. On another occasion, the marks of a bear were observed on the trunk of a large oak. Investigation disclosed that the tree was hollow and the animals had been attracted to it by the store of wild honey concealed within. The men helped themselves to a kettleful, and during the evening ate so much that Fonda could never again taste honey without a feeling of nausea and disgust.

The hazards of such a journey were chiefly those incidents to the hardships and exposure of wilderness travel. Illustrative of these is the record of the first capital surgical operation ever performed at Chicago, the subject of which was an unfortunate Canadian half-breed who had frozen his feet while carrying the mail from Green Bay to this place. This was in 1832 and Dr. Elijah Harmon, who has been denominated the “Father of medicine" in Chicago, had but recently established himself in the old Kinzie house across the river from Fort Dearborn.
Jean Baptiste Point du Sable built a cabin just north of the Chicago River near Lake Michigan in 1779 (approximately where the Tribune Tower is today) where he established a trading post. (claimed to be the first house build in Chicago). Du Sable sold his property to Jean Baptiste La Lime, who in turn sold it to William Burnett, John Kinzie's business partner. In 1804 Kinzie buys the house and property from Burnett and keeps the property until 1828. Illustration from 1827.
To him the sufferer was brought and as Hyde tells the story "the doctor, assisted by his brother, tied the unfortunate man to a chair, applied a tourniquet to each lower extremity, and with the aid of the rusty instruments which he had transported on horseback through sun and shower from Detroit to Chicago, removed one entire foot and a large portion of the other. Needless to say, these were not the days of anesthetics, and the invective, in mingled French and English of the mail carrier's vocabulary, soon became audible to everyone in the vicinity of the stockade. 

But the Indians, though commonly disposed to peace at this period, was ever subject to strange moods, and liable at any time to avenge upon the traveler some injury, real or fancied, which he had suffered at the hands of some other member of the white race. Such a murder was committed in 1836 at Theresa, the victim, Ellsworth Burnet, being totally innocent of any connection with the offense for which he was slain. Burnet was traveling over the trail in company with Captain James Clyman, and the men had stopped to cook their evening meal. Without any warning of impending danger a shot rang out from the bush, and Burnet fell dead in the act of stooping to blow air on the fire. A second shot wounded Clyman, but he escaped and succeeded in making his way to Milwaukee. The murderer, it later developed, was an Indian who took this means of avenging upon the white race the death of a relative who had been killed by a soldier at Fort Winnebago (1828-1845).”

A tragedy of peculiar sadness associated with the Green Bay trail was the killing of Dr. William S. Madison on May 12, 1821. Dr. Madison was the surgeon at Fort Howard. About a year and a half before his death he had married a young woman in Kentucky, and the couple had resided together but a short time when he was ordered to rejoin his regiment. Leaving his young wife at her home, he proceeded through the wilderness to Green Bay. The months passed, and to the absent husband was borne the news that a son had been born. At last, he obtained leave of absence for the express purpose of visiting his wife and child, and on May 11, 1821, he set out over the trail to Chicago in company with the mail carrier. On the afternoon of the second day, they fell in with Ketaukah, an Indian, who attached himself to the party. Toward sundown, when approaching Manitowoc Rapids, they came to a small ravine bordered with shrubbery. In crossing this the mail carrier took the lead, followed by the surgeon, with Ketaukah bringing up the rear. Hearing the sound of a gun, the carrier turned round to find Dr. Madison had been shot through the back, receiving a wound which he pronounced mortal. On receipt of the news at Fort Howard, a detail of soldiers hastened to the place, to find the unfortunate surgeon had already expired.

His body was carried back to Green Bay and interred with due military honors. Meanwhile, Ketaukah was brought in to the fort by the chief of his band and turned over to the soldiery. By them he was carried to Detroit, then the seat of government of what now is Wisconsin, and committed to prison. At the September session of the court, he was convicted of the crime of murder and sentenced to be hanged. Another Indian murderer was sentenced to death at the same time, and the two culprits were confined in a common cell until the end of December when they were taken to the appointed place and publicly hanged. Both men proved model prisoners, who acknowledged the justice of their doom and in their pagan way made careful preparations for death. They walked quietly to the gallows, and after shaking hands with several of the officers ascended the steps with a firm and resolute tread. With a final request for pardon for their crimes, and a last lingering gaze upon the heavens they were plunged into the other world.

The process of transforming the Green Bay trail into a white man's highway was begun by the federal government. A logical complement to the establishment of garrisons at Chicago, Green Bay, Portage, and Prairie du Chien was the construction of roads to make possible the free movement of troops between these points. The first military road in Wisconsin was designed to connect Fort Howard at Green Bay with Fort Winnebago at the Fox-Wisconsin Portage. An appropriation of $2,000 was made by Congress for this purpose in the spring of 1830, but not until October of 1832 was the work of surveying the route begun by Lieutenant Center. As surveyed, the road ran up the south side of the Fox and along the east side of Lake Winnebago, the route being identical as far as Fond du Lac with the Indian trail to Milwaukee, which I already described. The construction of the road was carried out the following season by detachments of soldiers from Fort Howard and Fort Winnebago. The work of improvement chiefly consisted in cutting a narrow track through the forest. Captain Martin Scott, whose fame as a marksman still survives in frontier legend, had the oversight of the twelve-mile section east of Lake Winnebago. He cut the road straight as an arrow for the entire distance, and this section was long known as "Scott's straight cut."

The road from Chicago to Green Bay dates its beginning from an act of Congress approved June 15, 1832, for the establishment of a postal route between these points. Although it was marshy and nearly impassable for a horse and wagon. Locally the road, marked by trail trees [1], had what was known as a “wet” and “dry” route. The wet route ran along higher ground. The dry route ran closer to the lake near the present-day Sheridan Road.

A report made to the Secretary of War in October of 1833, states that the fund appropriated had been applied to the purpose intended, while a later report indicates that the survey was completed the following year. Andreas' History of Chicago states that stakes were driven and blazed along the line, and that as far as Milwaukee the road was "somewhat improved" by cutting out the trees to the width of two rods and laying puncheon and log bridges over the impassable streams; but it seems apparent from other sources of information that most of this improvement dates from a later period. Horace Chase, who with two companions left Chicago for Milwaukee in December of 1834, states that they followed the route of the Indian trail and crossed twenty-four streams, big and little, "getting mired in most of them." When this happened they would carry the baggage ashore and pull the wagon out by hand, their single horse having all he could do to extricate himself. Another person who made the journey in the spring of 1835 relates that from Waukegan to Milwaukee the road was still a primitive Indian trail.

Another visitor to Milwaukee this same summer records that after crossing Root River the road became worse. The horse mired and they were compelled to loosen him from the wagon and help him out, after which they pried the wagon from the mud with handspikes. Two miles farther on they again became stalled and had to repeat the process. The road now became better but was still so bad that the men had to walk all the way to Milwaukee, where they arrived after sundown.

The newcomers found the Milwaukee of July of 1835, a town of several stores and dwellings where none had been at the opening of the season. Strictly speaking, not one town but several had been started, and the rivalry engendered between the promoters and upholders of the several settlements long survived to disturb the peace and welfare of the future metropolis. Near the mouth of the river, where it was one of the busiest industrial centers in the world, the newcomers found a marsh of several hundred acres, so wet that one could not travel through it, while to get around it entailed a detour of seven miles. Real estate speculation was the all-absorbing interest of the populace. "No one," records the observer, "thinks of raising anything on the land, but makes claims as fast as they can by going on and cutting a few trees, spade up a little ground, and perhaps plant corn. They are just as likely to plant corn now [July 15th] as at the proper season." Even the missionary preacher who had been sent out by the good people of New England to minister to the heathens in Wisconsin had become "a little tinctured" with the spirit of speculation.

The forecast recorded by these writers in July of 1835, that Milwaukee would eventually become a "place of considerable business" found speedy fulfillment, for with the following spring began a period of rapid growth which before long made the town a formidable rival of Chicago for the commercial supremacy of Lake Michigan. Yet even between two such commercial centers, the improvement of the highway proceeded with manifest deliberation. As late as January of 1839, Bishop Jackson Kemper records that the stage, which left Chicago at two in the morning, required more than twenty-four hours to reach Kenosha, although its schedule called for less than half this time; while the hundred-mile journey to Milwaukee entailed forty hours of travel. Milwaukee was then three years old, having 1000 inhabitants and the appearance of a "thriving and well-built town." The panic of 1837 had about run its course, leaving the community ample time to reflect upon the follies of the speculative era of 1836; yet the Bishop was led to conclude, from all that he could see and hear, that the town would soon recover its prosperity and renew its growth. The natural advantages of Milwaukee, combined with the enterprising character of the inhabitants, left no room for doubt concerning the "future commanding station" of the place.

Meanwhile, in 1838, Congress had appropriated $15,000 ($357,200 today) for the construction of a road from the Illinois state line northward to Green Bay, and the report of Lieutenant Cram, the army engineer, to whom the task of making the preliminary surveys was intrusted, sheds considerable light upon the conditions of the road and the country through which it passed. The projected road would open a "convenient" highway 158 miles in length along the west shore of Lake Michigan, chiefly through an excellent wooded district. From the Illinois line to Saukville, a distance of sixty-eight miles, the belt of woodland along the route of the road was chiefly settled; between Milwaukee and Sheboygan rivers there were several settlers. Between Sheboygan and Green Bay, an extent of sixty-three miles, there was no settlement other than the one which had been begun at Manitowoc Rapids.

Yet the route was the "principal mail route" from the south and east to the Green Bay District, and over it three times a week the mail was carried to Milwaukee on the backs of men. It was impossible to drive a wheeled vehicle on the route farther north than Milwaukee, and nowhere between Milwaukee and the Illinois line could a span of horses haul an empty wagon at a greater speed than twenty-five miles a day; while to transport the mail from Green Bay to the Illinois boundary, 158 miles, required five days' travel.

The plan of improvement called for a highway four rods wide, banked in the middle to the width of fifteen feet. Within this space, all trees were to be cut off close to the ground, while outside it and within a space two rods in width trees of less diameter than ten inches were to be cut. To complete the work as planned. Lieutenant Cram estimated that an additional appropriation of $33,381 would be required. According to the historian of Manitowoc County, there was much mismanagement in the prosecution of the work, and although it afforded "the principal means of communication by land with the outside world," the extension of settlement along the northern portion of the road proceeded slowly. The alternative route from Milwaukee to Fond du Lac, where a connection was made with the military road constructed in 1832-33, remained but a primitive Indian trail until the winter of 1841. Then the citizens of Milwaukee subscribed to a small sum of money which was paid to William R. Hesk for cutting a wagon road between  Milwaukee and Fond du Lac. A capital narrative of a winter journey over this highway in February of 1843, two years after its opening, has been left by Increase A. Lapham of Milwaukee, Wisconsin's pioneer scholar and scientist. Sleighing was good at the time, and the journey was made in a cutter, drawn by a single horse. As far as Menominee Falls, fifteen miles from Milwaukee, the track had been worn hard and smooth by the loggers and farmers hauling their products to the Milwaukee market. At Vaughn's, seventeen miles out, the settlements began to be more scarce, and such few houses as there were had all been erected within the past year. Juneau's trading establishment at Theresa, forty-six miles from Milwaukee, was reached at sundown. Here was living a band of about 100 Menominee Indians, whose chief had taken an active part on the British side in the War of 1812 and had been one of the leaders in the Chicago Fort Dearborn massacre.

The "famous village of Fond du Lac" Lapham found to consist of two houses, and one of these was a blacksmith shop. Taychedah, which still existed as a deserted village, was then the metropolis of the vicinity, with a store and half a dozen houses. At the town of Stockbridge, seventeen miles beyond Fond du Lac, the traveler put up at the house of William Fowler, and here during the evening a prayer meeting was conducted by the civilized Indians of the settlement. A ride of forty-two miles the following day brought him to Green Bay.

The traffic of the Green Bay road differed materially from that of all the other thoroughfares radiating from Chicago. The Detroit road was a great highway of travel for settlers pouring into the West. All the others were avenues by which the products of the interior found outlets to the markets of the eastern seaboard, and over which flowed the return stream of merchandise of all kinds which the western people consumed in vast quantities but of which they produced little or nothing. Through the Chicago, gateway passed this double stream of traffic and from her merchants took a toll which became ever richer as the population of the interior increased.

The Green Bay road, on the contrary, throughout almost its entire extent was paralleled by the shore of Lake Michigan, distant at most, not more than half a dozen miles. Along this shoreline were scattered at easy intervals such aspiring communities as Manitowoc, Kenosha, Racine, Milwaukee, and Sheboygan, into whose harbors came, or might come, the same ships that found their way to Chicago. On the Green Bay road, therefore, were witnessed no long processions of farm wagons plodding their weary way to the distant Chicago market. Nor could one see on it the steady stream of emigrant schooners which characterized the Detroit road. Many of these, it is true, set forth from Chicago on the northward route, but for the most part before long they turned into the interior in search of the particular destination which choice or fancy might dictate. The reason for this is obvious. If the settler followed the overland route to the West, he was liable to be diverted into the interior soon after he reached Chicago. If he came by water, and his destination was some point in Wisconsin, he naturally landed at the point, usually Milwaukee, from which he could most easily proceed to it. In this connection, it is pertinent to remember that to the early settler Wisconsin meant that portion of the modern state lying south and east of the Fox-Wisconsin waterway. All above this line was a wilderness covered by a practically unbroken forest, into which no one but the lumberman and the Indian trader ever thought of penetrating. Even as late as 1847, it was gravely asserted in the convention which framed the constitution for statehood that the section of western Wisconsin lying between the Wisconsin River and modern St. Paul and Minneapolis was a "cold barren wilderness" which would be "forever uninhabitable."

In eastern Wisconsin, the forest belt crossed the Fox and advanced to the lakeshore, as far south as Milwaukee. Because of its accessibility, probably, sturdy Dutch and German settlers did not hesitate to plunge into this forest and begin the work of carving out the splendid farms with which this section is now covered. But even here, aside from the immediate lakeshore, settlement proceeded much more slowly than it did in the more open country south and west of Milwaukee.

The traffic of the Green Bay Road, therefore, in the period we are discussing, was largely confined to two classes, local travel, and travel between such points as Chicago and Milwaukee and Milwaukee and Green Bay. Its volume, too, particularly that of the latter class, was naturally affected by the season of the year. When navigation was open and the journey could be made by water much of the through travel between Chicago and the upper lake points went by water. The schedules of the stage managers, of course, took cognizance of this situation.

The first stage service between Chicago and Milwaukee is said to have been instituted in the spring of 1836, the proprietor of the line being Lathrop Johnson, who kept the New York House in Chicago. For transporting the mail and such passengers as might choose to entrust themselves to his oversight, Johnson provided an open lumber wagon. To give character to the service, however, it was drawn by four horses instead of two.

The Chicago Business Directory lists a tri-weekly stage service between Milwaukee and Chicago in summer and daily service in winter. Coaches were scheduled to make this journey in one and one-half days, stopping at Kenosha overnight. An announcement by Frink and Walker’s Stage Lines in the Little Fort (now Waukegan) Porcupine Newspaper for December 3, 1845, advertised that "four-horse post coaches and stage sleighs" leave that place for Chicago each morning, and Milwaukee each evening. On appropriate notice being received, the Company would call for citizens at their homes and leave passengers off at any place where they might desire to stop.
Frink and Walker's stage office was on Lake Street two doors east of Dearborn Street just off the southwest corner. 1844 Illustration.
Although Frink and Walker's dominated the stage and mail service of northern Illinois for a decade and a half, they were not entirely free from competition. Thus, in Little Fort Porcupine Newspaper on November 5, 1845, J. J. and E. M. Dennis made the following Interesting announcement: "Express line from Southport (now Kenosha) to Chicago. Through by daylight. The subscribers intend starting a semi-weekly express between the above places on the tenth of November next, to continue regularly through the winter; leaving the Mansion House in Southport on Mondays and Thursdays at 10:00 AM and the Brown & Tuttle's American Temperance House on the northwest corner of Lake Street and Wabash Avenue in Chicago on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 6 o'clock AM. The above express will pass through Little Fort each way taking the lake road from Southport to Chicago. Covered carriages with steel springs will run during wagoning and covered sleighs during the winter. If good teams, careful drivers, speed, and convenience are inducements to the traveling public, the subscribers flatter themselves they will receive a good share of patronage."
The northern end of the "Old Jambeau Trail" or the "Green Bay Trail."
Apparently, the subscribers did not "flatter" themselves in vain, for a later announcement states that the express will be run hereafter three times a week. A portion of their success was doubtless because the Frink and Walker stages ran over the Milwaukee Road as already described, and hence did not adequately serve the population immediately tributary to the lakeshore. In April of 1845, The Little Fort Porcupine Newspaper complained that from Waukegan to Chicago, a distance of forty-five miles, there was no post office or post road and that a "thickly settled" district, from five to ten miles wide, which was entirely without mail facilities. It urged that a tri-weekly mail service be established on the shore road to alternate with the existing service on the Des Plaines road. A week later, abandoning this ground, the Little Fort Porcupine Newspaper complained that the people of this district with more mail than all the rest of the country, "yet are left dependent on a post station called Otsego, five miles out of town on the nearest route from Chicago to Milwaukee The fact is, the stage ought to run on the Lake road and the Otsego mail should be carried from Little Fort instead of vice versa as at present. We stick up to be the most Democratic village of the banner Democratic state, yet Racine and Kenosha have a daily steamboat mail." We have already seen that the longing of Little Fort's denizens for a mail route was satisfied the winter after this complaint was heralded to a sympathetic world.

The wonder of today becomes commonplace tomorrow; this aphorism finds fresh illustration in the case of the mail service of Waukegan. A local historian relates that the appearance of the first mail stage in the city "was an event creating a profound sensation." Half a dozen years later the Gazette nonchalantly reports that "five to six coaches pass daily through Waukegan, full inside and out."
The Stagecoach wasn't as glamorous as the movies made them out to be.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.


[1] Trail trees, trail marker trees, crooked trees, prayer trees, thong trees, or culturally modified trees are hardwood trees throughout North America that Native Americans intentionally shaped with distinctive characteristics that convey that the tree was shaped by human activity rather than deformed by nature or disease.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Magikist Rug Cleaners; What happened to those three famous Magikist signs on Chicago highways?

From the early 1960s to the late 1980s, three neon Magikist signs in the shape of lips stood sentry by the expressways near the northern, southern and western entrances to the City of Chicago.
In the Chicago area, the Magikist Lips (in the form of huge signs on the Edens Expressway, Dan Ryan Expressway, Kennedy Expressway, and Eisenhower Expressway which lit up and flashed) were well-known landmarks. The signs were 75 feet wide and 40 feet high at the lips pucker. Travelers from the early 1960s through the late 1990s tended to use them as landmarks to figure out how much longer it would take to arrive at their destination.
Kennedy Expressway, Chicago.
The sign was particularly special to Minnie Gage of Arlington Heights because those lips were hers.

In the mid-1940s her husband, the late Bill Gage, owned Austin Rug Cleaners, a business he founded in a converted blacksmith's shop in 1929. In casting about for a promotional gimmick, Gage settled on the slogan "the kiss of beauty" and the company's new name, Magikist. He had Minnie apply extra lipstick and kiss a piece of paper; a commercial artist turned the imprint into a logo.

In Magikist's heyday, the lips appeared on hundreds of local billboards and more than 1,000 buses, as well as the three spectacular signs. Chicago musician/artist Wesley Willis frequently mentioned Magikist in his song lyrics, although he used the word as a term of high praise, akin to "magician."

When the Gage family sold the Magikist business to a West Coast firm in 1985, it was the beginning of the end for the signs.

The demise of the Magikist signs:

Sign #1) The Magikist lips at 85th Street and the Dan Ryan Expressway was razed in 1992.

Sign #2) The lips at Cicero Avenue and the Eisenhower Expressway came down with no fanfare at some point several years after that.

Sign #3) The final pair rose 80 feet above a parking lot where Montrose Avenue meets the Kennedy Expressway just south of the junction with the Edens Expressway was removed in late 2003.


WBBM Channel 2 - "Magikist Wedding Proposal"

There are just three surviving Magikist outlets: independent carpet-cleaning businesses in Milwaukee and Sheboygan, Wisconsin and Oak Forest, Illinois. They all are still using the lips logo.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Sixteen western Illinois counties wanted to secede from the Union to create the Republic of Forgottonia.

Forgottonia (also spelled Forgotonia) represented a protest against inequalities in Illinois State and Federal funding of infrastructure (e.g. transportation), communications and economic development in the region after World War II. It was the name given to a 16-county region in Western Illinois in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

In 1955, during the formation of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, the Chicago to Kansas City interstate route through the heart of this region was eliminated due to objections from Iowa and St. Louis as well as various granger railroads serving this region. In 1956, Missouri selected St. Louis based corridors to Joplin (US 66), Will Rogers Turnpike and Kansas City (US 40), Kansas Turnpike. A northern Missouri corridor (US 36) was viewed as a St. Louis by-pass and not supported. Carthage College, in Hancock County, relocated its educational campus to Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1964.

Federal highway bills throughout the 1960s that included funding for a Chicago–Kansas City Expressway were defeated and removed from the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1968. which added 1500 miles to the Interstate system (Interstate 15E in southern CA and Interstate 27 in northwest Texas). George H. Mahon, Texas member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1935 to 1979 and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee after 1964, helped secure funding for the Interstate 27 route. The reintroduction of the Chicago to Kansas City Expressway was again defeated in the US Congress in 1972. These political and congressional actions resulted in the exodus of the region's businesses, long-time industries, and population by 1970. Those significant events were the catalysts for more vocal public protests by residents.
One of the three districts (or "tracts") created to meet the warrants given in the War of 1812. "The Tract" was within a triangle of the Illinois Territory between the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. This area was included with Illinois' territory upon the achievement of statehood in 1818.
This geographic region forms the distinctive western bulge of Illinois that is roughly equivalent to "The Tract," the Illinois portion of the Military Tract in 1812, along, and west of the Fourth Principal Meridian. Since this wedge-shaped region lies between the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, it has historically been isolated (river bridge access) from the eastern portion of Central Illinois.
The name Forgottonia was created by Jack Horn, son of civically-minded Coca-Cola regional bottler Frank “Pappy” Horn; John Armstrong, Macomb Chamber of Commerce Board Member; and Neil Gamm, a Western Illinois University theatre student and a graduate of VIT (Vermont-Ipava-Table Grove) High School. The initiative grew from frustration among the citizens and public officials of western Illinois due to the lack of support for regional transportation and infrastructure projects. Federal funding for a highway from Chicago to Kansas City routed through the heart of western Illinois was defeated by the U.S. Congress (1955, 1968, 1972), passenger rail service from Quincy and Macomb to Chicago was dropped in 1970. Carthage College packed up and moved to Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1964.

The term Forgottonia was used again in the 1980s by Congressman Dick Durbin, who represented the southern portion of the region, in stump speeches as he ran as a Democrat for the U.S. House of Representatives seat. He expanded the definition to include communications (educational television, fiber-optic routes, etc.) and infrastructure services (private and public). While the region's name is less popular today, the exodus of population and industries has continued. Some counties in this region have reached federal poverty levels, for the first time in the state's history.

In the 1970s, there were six Illinois River highway bridge crossings south of Peoria (Pekin, Havana, Beardstown, Meredosia, Florence, and Hardin), plus two free Illinois River ferries at Kampsville, and Brussels. The Valley City Eagle bridge for the Central Illinois Expressway in the southern section of the region was not completed until the late 1980s. There were issues with eagles nesting in the Paul Norbit State Fish and Wildlife Area, through which the highway passes.
Toll Bridge over the Illinois River, into Forgottonia.
"Region of Little Return on Tax Dollars!"
The Mississippi River highways bridges at that time were Toll bridges with a few exceptions and owned by railroads or cities along the river. The one toll ferry across Mississippi River at Canton, Missouri serves Adams County, Illinois.
Western Illinois University student Neil Gamm was named governor of Forgottonia. He is standing in front of the Capitol building in the unincorporated community of Fandon.
Variously described as a new U.S. State or an independent republic, Forgottonia eventually became a fictional political secession movement in the early 1970s conceived by residents of McDonough County, in the heart of this region. Western Illinois University student Neil Gamm was named governor, and the hamlet of Fandon, an unincorporated community, near Colchester, Illinois, was to be Forgottonia's capital. The name would catch on because the region appeared to be "forgotten" by politicians and business developers.

Due to the loss of train service in 1971, with the creation of Amtrak, the State of Illinois intervened at the request of the region's residents, Quincy University, and Western Illinois University and public officials. This became part of the 1971 "Illinois Service" initiative and is partially funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Adams, Brown, Calhoun, Cass, Fulton, Greene, Hancock, Henderson, Knox, McDonough, Mercer, Morgan, Pike, Schuyler, Scott. and Warren counties were on Neal Gamm's original list of 16 counties. These Illinois county governments joined the movement in 1972.

The unincorporated village of Bernadotte, in Fulton County, which is four miles north of Ipava on the Spoon River, has the distinction of having once been considered as the site for the capital of Illinois, prior to the capital being located at Vandalia in 1820. Vandalia was selected over Bernadotte by the difference of one vote.

The 2010 US Census population of Forgottonia (16 counties) was 354,709 residents.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Illinois' portion of the Cannon Ball Route.

The Cannon Ball Route was a historic motorcar trail that ran from Kansas City, Missouri east-northeast to Chicago, Illinois by way of Hannibal, Missouri and Quincy, Illinois. A branch of the route connected the Missouri section of the highway to Des Moines, Iowa by way of Leon, Iowa. The Chicago Auto Club marked the Illinois segment of the highway in 1913.
The Cannon Ball Wabash River one-lane bridge.
By 1915, the route was considered "one of the best-marked highways between Quincy and Chicago," and an extension from Quincy to the St. Louis – Kansas City highway at Monroe City was posted. The highway routing closely parallels the Hannibal-Quincy to Chicago branch of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad.

The route was included in the 1917 Map of Marked Routes provided by the Illinois State Highway Department, a precursor to the modern-day Illinois Department of Transportation. The route stayed west and north of the Illinois River, so this route never had to cross the limited number of Illinois River bridges in 1917.

The Missouri portion of the route ran from Kansas City to Quincy by way of Hannibal. The route also passed through La Belle, Edina, Kirksville, Milan, Harris, Liberty, Excelsior Springs, Richmond, Carrollton, Chillicothe, Trenton, and Princeton.

In 1917, the Illinois Section of the Cannon Ball Route was marked as running north from Quincy along modern-day Illinois Route 96 with the Rushville & Quincy Trail. It turned east at modern-day U.S. Route 24, before turning north at Camp Point. It eventually followed modern Illinois Route 61 to Bowen, where the route ran east. The route follows Illinois 61 to its terminus at U.S. Route 136 near Tennessee.
The Cannon Ball Wabash River one-lane bridge.
The route follows U.S. 136 east as the main road through Macomb to Bardolph, where the route diverts from U.S. 136, it turns north on modern-day Illinois Route 41. The Cannon Ball Route passes through Bushnell paralleling the CB&Q railroad north to Galesburg and ran largely on what is now U.S. 34 from Galesburg to Chicago, except for diversions to the city centers of Buda, Leland, and Bristol.

Near Yorkville, the route turns northeast onto Cannon Ball Trail to Bristol. The route then passed through downtown Montgomery and Aurora before running east-northeast to Naperville. Here, the Cannon Ball Route may have followed any of a number of streets before joining the Chicago-Kansas City-Gulf Highway in Maywood for the remainder of the journey into Chicago.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Chicagoland: How did the name originate?

As the editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune for most of the first half of the 20th century, Colonel Robert Rutherford McCormick usually gets credit for coining the term “Chicagoland.”
Colonel Robert Rutherford McCormick (1880-1955), was named the President of the Chicago Tribune Company in 1911 and he held this position until his death in 1955. 
The first use of the term "CHICAGOLAND" was in the McHenry Plaindealer Newspaper on April 23, 1849, in an article about new railroad lines coming into Chicago. WGN 720 AM, first used "CHICAGOLAND" as a name of a radio show playing from 8:30pm to 9pm in September of 1928.

In McCormick's time, it referred to the city and its grain, timber, and livestock hinterlands covering parts of five states (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Iowa), all of which were served by rail delivery of the colonel's newspaper. Later in the century, it came to mean a smaller, denser area of city and suburbs in three states stretching from northern Indiana to southern Wisconsin.
Blanchard's map of Chicago and Suburbs. (1910)
CLICK MAP FOR A FULL-SIZE READABLE MAP.
Chicagoland is a term that carries several common misconceptions. It is believed by many people that Chicagoland, or more formally the "Chicago Metropolitan Area" is restricted to only the areas within the Illinois state boundaries. However, due to the fact that a metro area is based on cultural and employment patterns and similarities, this is simply not true.

Because Chicago is such a large city on its own, it boasts a much wider metro area than most others in the country, save for New York and Los Angeles. Dating back to 1950, when statistical analysis for metro areas emerged, Chicagoland included the eight collared counties of Cook, DuPage, Will, Lake, McHenry, Kane, Kendall, and Grundy as well as Lake County in Indiana which to many a Chicagoan's surprise physically borders the city. Over the years, due to Chicago's expansion, the definition has also widened to include four more Indiana counties (Porter, LaPorte, Newton, and Jasper) as well as Kenosha County in Wisconsin.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Globe Tavern, where Newlyweds Abraham and Mary Lincoln rented a small apartment from 1842-1844.

The newlyweds Abraham and Mary Lincoln rented a small apartment in The Globe Tavern, 315 E. Adams Street, Springfield, Illinois, paying $4 a week ($105 today) for room and board. The Lincoln's lived here from November 4, 1842, until August of 1844. Their oldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln, was born at the Globe Tavern on August 1, 1843.
The Globe Tavern, photo by S.M. Fassett 1865. Note the length of the building at this time.
The Globe Tavern in 1886 shows only the portion of the Globe Tavern left standing.
The building was significantly larger (see photograph above) when the Lincolns lived there. The Globe was demolished in the 1890s.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Recipe: Fried Matzah and/or Matzah Brei, the Chicago way.

Most people don't know this dish even exists. And just to be clear, for any food snobs, don’t pronounce this “bree” as in brie cheese; it’s not nearly that sophisticated. It’s pronounced “bry” as in “bribe” or, more relevantly, “fry.”

Matzah Brei, in Hebrew and in Yiddish, literally means “fried matzah” (var. matzoh, matzah or matzo).

The development of Fried Matzah, in which crumbled pieces of matzah and beaten egg is combined before cooking, is attributed to the influence of Eastern European Jewish immigrants to New York and Chicago. The introduction of the first matzah–baking machine in 1857, produced slightly thicker and flakier matzah than those made by hand. It is the ideal type of matzah to use for this dish.
Fried Matzah is scrambled in the pan.
Matzah Brei as a fried matzah-and-egg dish originated in North America. Egg-based recipes began to be published in early Jewish-American cookbooks, including Aunt Babette's (1889 edition) and The Settlement Cook Book (1901). These early recipes called for whole matzahs or large, broken pieces of matzah to be dipped in beaten egg and then fried (like today's French toast). 
Matzah Brei is baked and served pancake-style.
Decide which style of this recipe you wish to serve:
    Fried Matzah or Matzah Brei

Ingredients for one or two servings:
    3 matzah sheets (for each additional matzah sheet - ADD one egg)
    4 large eggs 
    Salt - to taste
    White Pepper - to taste
    Oil / Butter / Chicken schmaltz (you choose)
    Example: (Serves 4 people - use 6 matzah and 7 eggs)

Fried Matzah Directions:
    1) Wet both sides of the matzah sheets completely, under the running faucet.
    2) Pat the excess water from the wet matzah (lay flat on a kitchen towel or paper towel).
    3) beat eggs.
    4) break up the matzah sheets into medium-sized pieces.
    5) combine matzah and eggs in a bowl and stir lightly to coat all the matzah.
    6) In a frying pan, coat lightly with oil.
    7) Pour the mixture into a hot frying pan on medium heat.
    8) Fry and gently stir until the eggs are not runny any longer (soft) or to the desired
        consistency.

Matzah Brei Directions:
    1) Preheat oven to 375°F.
    2) Follow above directions #1 to #5.
    3) Pour the mixture into buttered glass bakeware, size depending upon serving size.
    4) Bake uncovered for 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve immediately.

Traditional: Serve with grape jelly (or your choice of jam, jelly or preserves)

Variation: Serve with Sour Cream or Apple Sauce or both
Variation: Serve with Honey
Variation: Serve with natural Maple Syrup
Variation: Use Onion Matzah or Egg Matzah
Variation: Add onions
Variation: Add Apples & Cinnamon
Variation: Add Nuts

Recipe by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Wally's Kosher Deli in the Milk Pail, Lincolnwood, Illinois.

I fondly remember working part-time after High School for "Wally's Deli" in the Milk Pail on Devon Avenue just west of McCormick in Lincolnwood, Illinois.
Wally Brin owned the Deli from 1970 until 1986, when he retired and his son Steve took control.
 
Wally passed away in 1988 and Steve renamed the business, "Wally’s Milk Pail and Deli." With a new partner, Harry Friedman, Steve turned the establishment into a strictly-kosher deli and grocery store.

Steve starting working there in high school in 1970 and worked there until he sold the business in 1999. Steve said, "It broke my heart when we sold this business, but many things change regardless of what you do to make improvements."

I worked part-time after High School for Wally's Deli in the Milk Pail, which was 5 blocks from my house, for 4 years, most nights but some weekend opens too.

It was a great job and great pay, especially for a high school student. Wally and Steve were nice people to work for. We cooked the best brisket corned beef around, 15 at a time in the back room of the deli. 

We were allowed to eat anything we wanted from the deli for free, except for the Lox and Smoked Chubs (fish), which I ate nearly every night for 4 years. They knew!

Rosens Rye Bread was delivered into a locked box in the back of the building, every morning around 4 o'clock. They were so hot, you needed gloves to handle the loaves. Chopped chicken liver was another customer favorite, along with their meat, cheese, or fish Lazy Susan Trays, many tray orders were for 4 or more trays. 

Two summers in a row, Wally found me a part-time day job with one of his restauranteur friends. One was a fast-pace breakfast and lunch restaurant downtown which had a deli/sandwich counter. Another job was with the "Bagle Nosh" which was on Rush Street. 

Wally was always upbeat and treated everybody kindly. You knew he was genuine because Steve was just like his Dad.

Not to be confused with the Milk Pail Restaurant in Dundee, Illinois.

By Neil Gale, Ph.D.