Saturday, September 14, 2019

Chicagoan Marie Connolly Owens, America's First Female Police Officer.

Marie Connolly Owens joined the Chicago Police Department in 1891 with the title of Detective Sergeant, full arrest powers, and a badge. She was on the department payroll and received a police pension when she retired in 1923 after 32 years on the force.

Marie Connolly was born the daughter of Irish famine immigrants in Bytown (later renamed Ottawa), on December 21, 1853. She married gas fitter Thomas Owens in 1879, and they moved to Chicago soon thereafter. Together they had five children before Thomas died of typhoid fever in 1888. Marie was widowed with five mouths to feed; her youngest was just a couple of years old. As she told the Chicago Daily Tribune in 1904, up until this point she had never "earned a penny" in her life.

She entered the workforce with a bang the next year. In 1889, the city of Chicago passed an ordinance prohibiting the employment of children under 14 years old unless they had extraordinary circumstances requiring them to work. To enforce the ordinance, the city hired five women as sanitary inspectors to monitor conditions in stores, factories, and tenements. Women, all of them married or widowed mothers, got the jobs because dealing with children was deemed to be in their natural purview. Mrs. Owens, Mrs. Byford Leonard, Mrs. J.R. Doolittle, Mrs. Ada Sullivan, and Mrs. Glennon formed the first board of sanitary inspectors in the country to be given official authority by the city. They reported to the Commissioner of Health and were paid salaries of $50 a month ($1,410 today).
Sanitary inspector Marie Owens dove into her work with a passion, removing illegally employed children from their workplaces, helping them find other means of support and even paying out of her own pocket to help their destitute families. She soon earned a reputation for zeal and effectiveness tempered by a diplomatic approach to parents, children, and business owners that made her as popular as someone in her role could be.

In 1891, the newly appointed Chief of Police, Major Robert Wilson McClaughrey—a tireless reformer with a particular interest in the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders—took notice of Mrs. Owens's efforts in tracking down wife deserters—men we now call deadbeat dads. Owens saw first-hand how many children were forced to seek employment to keep the family from starving after the father abandoned them. She was relentless in ferreting these men out and turning them in to the police, so much so that McClaughrey decided to employ Owens in the detective bureau.

Marie Owens was now Sergeant No. 97, with the rank, salary, badge, and arrest powers of any detective (although she made infrequent use of the latter two). She was detailed to the Board of Education where her brief was enforcing child labor, truancy, and compulsory education laws. She wrote for the July 28, 1901, issue of the Chicago Daily Tribune, Owens described her early days on the job:

The sights to be seen in the slums today can in no way compare with those of ten years ago and the suffering due to the inability of the older members of the family to work is, indeed, pitiable. Children were found working in factories all over the city, the frail little things in many cases being under 7. The pittance of 75 cents or $1 a week, however, helped to buy food for a sick mother, though it was at the cost of health and education.

When the work was first begun a woman wearing a police sergeant's star was a novelty. Manufacturers in some cases were not inclined to admit me to their workshops, but armed with the strong arm of the law and the will to do good, I soon found that in most cases the merchants met me halfway and rendered me great assistance. As a result, the children were gradually thinned out, and the employers became accustomed to asking for affidavits required by law before work was given to children. Mothers had to depose as to the children's ages, and with these papers, the latter were enabled to get employment in the larger factories and stores.

Owens, like Baldwin and Wells after her, made a point of differentiating what she did from the work of male police officers. In almost every contemporary news article about her, her success in law enforcement was subsumed under her femininity, maternal instinct, charitable nature, and kind heart. A 1906 story in the Chicago Daily Tribune assured its readers that this lady police sergeant "has lost none of her womanly attributes and other detectives in the central office lift their hats when they chance to meet her." If that wasn't relief enough for anyone concerned about the dangers of masculinized womanhood, the words of Sergeant No. 97 herself were sure to soothe:

"I like to do police work," said Mrs. Owens. "It gives me a chance to help women and children who need help. Of course, I know little about the kind of work the men do. I never go out looking for robbers or highwaymen. That is left for the men. My work is just a woman's work. In my sixteen years of experience, I have come across more suffering than ever is seen by any man detective. Why it has kept me poor giving in little amounts to those in want. I have yet the time to come across a hungry family that they were not given food."

Her superior officer, Captain O'Brien, gave her more credit than she gave herself in that article. "Give me men like she is a woman," he said, "and we will have the model detective bureau of the whole world."

Despite Owens's effectiveness, a woman wearing a police sergeant's star was supposed to remain a novelty. In 1895, Chicago adopted new civil service rules requiring all cops to pass the civil service exam (Owens scored a 99 percent) and allowing for appointment of women as regular factory, tenement, or child labor inspectors independent of the police force. Had those rules been in effect in 1891, Mrs. Owens would probably have been made a government inspector rather than a police detective. Because she was so great at her job and had an unblemished service record, she was kept on the police force after the new rules were in place instead of being transferred. In an article in the August 7, 1904, Chicago Daily Tribune, the new rules were assumed to have made women police officers obsolete. The civil service rules "will forever prevent the appointment of more feminine patrolmen. Mrs. Owens will undoubtedly remain as she has been for fifteen years, the only woman police officer in the world."

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

The brief history of Chicago's 19th century public police force.

In 1825, prior to the creation of Cook County was in Putnam County. 
1825 Illinois County Map
Archibald Clybourn was appointed to be Constable of the area between the DuPage River and Lake Michigan. Clybourn went on to become an important citizen of the city, and the diagonal Clybourn Avenue is named after him. When the town of Chicago was incorporated to become a city in 1837, provisions were made to elect an officer called the High Constable. He, in turn, would appoint a Common Constable from each of the six city wards.

Before Chicago ever became a city, the town of Chicago was authorized by the General Assembly of Illinois to establish its own police force, which was set up a constabulary. Men wore civilian clothes adorned with a leather badge. They carried heavy canes by day and batons by night and were provided with “creakers,” a noisemaker device, with which to call for assistance in case of distress. The first “officers” were unpaid citizen volunteers that would patrol the urban city streets looking for drunkards and watching for fires.
Chicago Constable Star (Replica). In-Service; 1828 to about 1900.
After the town was incorporated as a City in 1837, the city Charter authorized the hiring of two constables who were paid through a fee system that was based on the number of warrants served, but citizens were largely responsible for protecting their own property.  Constables had a variety of non-law enforcement functions that they performed, including lighting and extinguishing street lamps, serving as land surveyors, and verifying the accuracy of weights and measures.
Chicago Leather Police Star (Replica). In-Service; March 10, 1857, to March 1, 1858. Then police used a Chicago Plain Brass Star from March 2, 1858 – March 5, 1860. Back to the Chicago Leather Police Star used from  March 6, 1860, to March 25, 1861.
If a crime was committed, the citizen would notify the constable who would obtain a warrant from the magistrate or justice of the peace and serve the criminal with a summons to appear before the court to answer the citizen's complaint. There was no organized system of crime detection or prevention. A Sheriff was the officer in charge of the court’s business and responsible for enforcement of criminal laws. But the sheriff and his deputies did not patrol or serve as night watchmen.

In 1839, Chicago established a night watch system, and a marshal was appointed to oversee them.  Though the general duties of the watchman were straightforward: They preserved order, which was broadly defined, and raised the “hue and cry” [1] if they discovered criminal offenses or discovered a fire; and, on occasion, they detained suspicious and disorderly persons, the implementation of those duties often proved unsatisfactory. The whole constabulary watch system was viewed as fragmented, inefficient, incompetent and corrupted. Moreover, the public police lacked the training and ability to prevent disorder, particularly civil unrest and riots, or control crime.
Patrolman Star. In-Service; March 26, 1861, to 1904
In 1855, the newly elected city council passed ordinances to formally establish the Chicago Police Department. Chicago was divided into three police precincts, each served by a station house. Station No. 1 was located in a building on State Street between Lake and Randolph streets. Station No. 2 was on West Randolph Street near Des Plaines Street. Station No. 3 was on Michigan Street (since then renamed Hubbard Street) near Clark Street. Political connections were important to joining the force; formal requirements were few, until 1895. After 1856, the department hired many foreign-born recruits, especially unskilled, but English-speaking, Irish immigrants.

In 1860, the detective forces were established to investigate and solve crimes. In 1861, the Illinois General Assembly passed a law creating a police board to become an executive department of Chicago autonomous of the mayor. The mayor was effectively stripped of his power to control the Chicago Police Department. Authority was given to three police commissioners. The commissioners created the office of the superintendent to be the chief of police. The title is again in use today.

The first African American officer was appointed in 1872, but black police were assigned to duty in plain clothes only, mainly in largely black neighborhoods. In 1875, the Illinois General Assembly found that the police commissioners were unable to control rampant corruption within the Chicago Police Department. The legislature passed a new law returning power over the police to the mayor. The mayor was allowed to appoint a single police commissioner with the advice and consent of the city council.

In 1896, the Lumière Bros. filmed one of the first Chicago films ever shot in Chicago. (Watch this 45 second Film.)

Women entered the force in 1885, as matrons, caring for female prisoners. Marie Connolly Owens is believed to have been the first female police officer in the U.S., joining the Chicago Police Department in 1891, retiring in 1923. Holding the rank of Sergeant, Owens enforced child labor and welfare laws.

Despite centralized policies and practices, the captains who ran the precincts or districts were relatively independent of headquarters, owing their jobs to neighborhood politicians. Decentralization meant that police could respond to local concerns, but graft often determined which concerns got the most attention. In 1895, Chicago adopted civil service procedures, and written tests became the basis for hiring and promotion. Standards for recruits rose, though policing remained political.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.


[1] "Hue and cry" (adopted from England common law) is a process by which bystanders are summoned to assist in the apprehension of a criminal.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Big-T Burger, Devon and Milwaukee Avenues, Chicago.

Charles "Chuck" Nichols ran a Tastee Freeze franchise (still serving the "Big Tee Burger"), which closed every winter when ice cream lost its appeal. In order to operate year-round, Nichols renegotiated the lease with the building's owner and turned the space into a burger business. To attract teens from nearby Taft High School, he dubbed the restaurant "Big-T Burger." 
Looking North from Devon at Milwaukee from the southwest corner.
Nichols worked there seven days a week. He overcame competition from a nearby McDonald's and Burger King as well as Superdawg across the street. On the last day of business, before he was forced to close Big-T Burgers at Devon and Milwaukee, he told his sons to be at their "very best." That was his philosophy every day. 
Nichols gave more than his time to the business. Homeless men often wandered into Big-T Burger, and Nichols knew every one of them by name. He would give them a hot dog and a cup of coffee when they came in.

Mr. Nichols, 89, of Park Ridge, died on October 26, 2003.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The History of Chippewa Park in Chicago, Illinois.

Chippewa Park, 6758 North Sacramento Avenue (at Pratt Boulevard) in Chicago, was one of four parks created by the Ridge Avenue Park District, established in 1896. The park district's other properties were Indian Boundary Park, Pottawattomie Park, and Morse Park (now Matanky {Eugene} Park).

In 1931, the park district purchased property in the southwest corner of the district, built a one-story brick fieldhouse designed by Clarence Hatzfeld, and designated the new park Chippewa.
The five-room fieldhouse, including a kitchen, sits on 3.26 acres with a new "ChicagoPlays!" playground, and a water spray feature.
Looking NW at the Chippewa Park Fieldhouse on Sacramento Avenue, with Pratt Boulevard just to the right, but out of the picture. (March 30, 1936)
The name recognized the Chippewa Indian tribe that lived in the Great Lakes region when Europeans arrived. Between 1600 and 1760, the Chippewas made their home along the northern shores of Lakes Michigan and Superior and numbered between 25,000 and 30,000. The Chippewa formed a loose confederacy with the Ottawa and the Potawatomi. By the 19th century, the three tribes were known as "the Three Fires." 

The name Chippewa is an adaption of the word Ojibway, "to roast till puckered up," a reference to the puckered seams of their moccasins.

Today, the park offers Interaction for toddlers. Classes for preschoolers include Early Childhood Recreation, as well as Playschool Activities.
Don't forget to feed the Bunnies!
Classes for youth include Arts & Crafts and Fun and Games. Choose from Soccer, T-ball, Flag Football, Snag Golf and Outdoor Tennis for multi-ages. Chippewa also offers a fun-filled day camp for ages 5-8, which runs for 6 weeks.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

A 3-Wheel Velocipede (Handcar) in Effingham, Illinois.

This velocipede[1] was built by the railroad for track inspectors whose job it was to check the tracks and fill the track signals with fuel which would last six to seven days.
Where the girl is riding is where the fuel was carried for filling the signals. The picture was taken in Southern Illinois. Man is George Frazer, who worked for C&EL Railroad, born in 1875 in St. Elmo and died in 1945 in Altamont, buried in Union Cemetery.

The lady is Marie (Sidwell) Frazer, who was born in 1882 in Sefton Township and died in 1956 in Altamont and is buried in Union Cemetery. She was a school teacher in Effingham, Illinois. In the picture, she is carrying a gun as she always did. Many ladies carried some form of protection in those days.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.


[1] Velocipede: The term "velocipede" is today, however, mainly used as a collective term for the different forerunners of the monowheel (the unicycle), the bicycle, the dicycle, the tricycle and the quadracycle developed between 1817 and 1880.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The history of the Chicago Fresh Air Hospital in the West Ridge community. (1912-ca.1960)

The Chicago Fresh Air Hospital was located at 2451 West Howard Street in Chicago (Tel: Rogers Park-0321). It was built in 1912 on 20 acres of the Peter Gouden Farm near the southwest corner of Howard Street between Maplewood and Western Avenues.
The Chicago Fresh Air Hospital building's
footprint is highlighted in green.
It was built by doctors from Augustana Hospital who wanted to build a sanitorium for tuberculosis patients. This was prompted because Augustana would not accept such patients at that time.
Photo courtesy of the Rogers Park West Ridge Historical Society.
The building was constructed at the cost of $126,000.
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease of the lungs and other organs. Once considered incurable, the disease caused its victims to slowly waste away, which was why it was called “consumption.” With a mortality rate of approximately 18 per 10,000 people, tuberculosis was a leading cause of death within the city of Chicago at the turn of the 20th century.

Early attempts at controlling tuberculosis in Chicago focused on home sanitation, public health education, and isolation of the patient. Private hospitals took in a few tuberculosis patients, but public facilities to care for the affected were not available.

In order to raise public awareness, the Visiting Nurses Association and physician Theodore Sachs spearheaded an antituberculosis movement in the early 1900s. This eventually resulted in the passage of state legislation, the Glackin Tuberculosis Law, in 1909, giving the city of Chicago the ability to raise funds for the treatment and control of tuberculosis through a special property tax.

In 1914, there were 10,000 registered cases of Tuberculosis (TB). The number of deaths due to TB in Chicago that year was 3, 384. Yet there were only 300 public beds available in the city for patients who could not afford to pay for treatment. In March 1915, the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium opened its doors to citizens of Chicago suffering from tuberculosis. Treatment was free to residents of Chicago.
The Chicago Fresh Air Hospital later became known as Bethesda Hospital and, at one time, was affiliated with Mount Sinai Hospital (now Sinai Health System).

In 2005 a Korean American gentleman by the name of Park has converted the former hospital into a condominium complex.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Fox River Picnic Grove (Amusement Park) in Fox River Grove, Illinois. (1900 to Mid-1970s)

In the 1850s and early 1860s, Indian tribes camped in the rolling hills south of the Fox River. The women traded beadwork and purses with local settlers, and the men trapped muskrat and mink and sold the pelts in nearby Barrington. The men also made fenceposts for local farmers in exchange for being allowed to camp on their land during the winter. When spring came, they packed up their belongings on sleds and traveled north on the frozen river to their summer lands in Wisconsin.

In 1869, Frank Opatrny purchased 80 acres of land on the southern shore of the Fox River. In the 1870s, city dwellers from Chicago began to discover the pleasures of hunting and fishing along the Fox River, and the region developed a reputation as an ideal vacation spot. Cottages and small resorts were built, and many people who came to the area during the summer enjoyed it so much that they became full-time residents.

Frank's son Eman Opatrny bought the land from his father in 1900. The area's resort trade was booming and country picnics were very much in fashion. Eman decided to transform the family homestead into a pleasant picnic area, and the Fox River Picnic Grove was born.

Eman Opatrny built several cottages and a restaurant near the shore. He installed boat docks, set up a picnic area with shelters and planted 2,200 trees. He built a railroad spur track directly to the park, hired a promoter and convinced the railroad to run special excursion trains from the city. 
   
In 1902, a luxury hotel was built on the hill. Known as the Castle Pavilion and Resort Hotel, this building featured windows displayed during Chicago's 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.
The Castle Pavilion and Resort Hotel.
It contained the area's first player piano, as well as a dance floor where dances were held regularly. According to a 1914 guidebook published by the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, the Castle Pavilion had accommodations for 60 guests.
The Grove Dance Pavilion.
Many improvements were added to the picnic grove during the 1900s. They included a large restaurant, six bars, and numerous refreshment stands. Recreational items included a shooting gallery, dance platform, bowling alley, boathouse, photo gallery, rowboat rental, horse track, steam-powered excursion boat, and baseball fields. During the 1910s, motion pictures were shown in the Castle Pavilion. The 1900s were peak years for the picnic grove. It was a popular destination for company picnics and weekend visitors from the city. The spur track brought as many as 22 trainloads of visitors each weekend.

Many of the buildings in the Picnic Grove were destroyed by fire in 1918, but the Picnic Grove remained open through the 1920s and 1930s. The spur track was removed and with most of the attractions that visitors enjoyed in the early 1900s were no longer present, it remained a popular spot for picnics. During this time, the park was referred to as Opatrny's Woods and Opatrny's Grove.
Opatrny's Grove from the opposite shore. 
Built in 1923 and first known as the Fox River Grove Pavilion and Cernocky's Pavilion before finally being named the Crystal Ballroom was an eight-sided dance hall adorned with a flashing electric sign at the top, showing a golden pheasant with many colors.
The Crystal Ballroom at Fox River Grove.
The spur track was removed, and although most of the attractions that visitors enjoyed in the 1900s were no longer present, it was still a popular spot for picnics. Visitors also enjoyed swimming, boating, baseball and dancing at the pavilion. Cottages were available for longer visits.

In 1939 a fire of suspicious origin broke out in the ballroom so a night watchman was placed on guard while the fire was being investigated. A week later, six men came during the night, and while four of them saturated the ballroom with kerosene, the other two abducted the night watchman and a visiting fire marshal at gunpoint. They fled in their cars and drove towards Barrington, Illinois while two bombs were detonated in the ballroom. The captives were released near Palatine, Illinois. The resulting fire from the explosions gutted the ballroom but didn't damage the roof or the adjoining shops. The interior of the ballroom was repaired, but the ballroom never reopened for dancing.
Motor Boats.
The Grove Belle.
In 1942, the Picnic Grove land was purchased by Louis, Jr., and Clara Cernocky. Louis was a successful local businessman and Clara was the daughter of Eman Opatrny. Cernocky improved the Picnic Grove with the addition of amenities including a dance pavilion and air-conditioned cocktail lounge, refreshment stands, outdoor fireplaces, a bathhouse, restrooms, a baseball diamond, and a 300-foot sand beach. Also added was a kiddie park called Funland, featuring a 10 seat Ferris wheel, their major attraction, and a handful of carnival-type kiddie rides. The "Tunnel of Love," was a favorite for couples of all ages. The "Krazy Movie Pop Corn Stand" also sold snacks and beverages. Louis dubbed the park "40 acres of paradise." 

In 1947, dances were held at the pavilion every Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
    
These images are from a circa 1960 brochure.
   
In the 1960s, the Grove Belle Showboat was available for excursions on the Fox River. Groups of 40 or more could hire the boat for private two-hour trips. Music, dancing, drinks, and food were optional.
Grove Belle Showboat.
Additional acreage was purchased in the early 1960s. A ski hill was established, complete with two rope tows, a vertical drop of 145 feet and a ski shop. This came to be known as the Barberry Hills Ski Area. The two ropes and the ski shop are gone, but the hill is still a popular winter destination as a sledding hill.
Fox River Grove, Illinois, Chicago & Northwestern R.R. Depot. 1961
The Grove Marina opened in 1961. This building featured a restaurant, cocktail lounge, live entertainment, boat launch, marine supplies and boat slips for rent. Lifeguards were always on-duty.
Louis Cernocky retired from the picnic grove business in 1966. He entered into an agreement for deed with a developer doing business as Barberry Hills Inc. The park, ski hill, and marina retained their names and continued much as they had before. Operation of the Grove Marina lounge and restaurant was taken over by Wilbert Hanke and Eldon Chewning, who had recently opened the Branded Steak House in Crystal Lake.

The new developer planned to build a hotel on the property, and the agreement stipulated that a major hotel chain such as Hilton or Holiday Inn would make a suitable tenant. However, these plans fell through.

The ski hill and picnic grove remained open until the early 1970s when they fell into disuse. The Grove Marina stayed in business until being destroyed by fire in the mid-1970s.

The land changed hands several times between 1976 and 1993 but remained unused. In 1987, a proposal to build a Holiday Inn on the property and rename it Holiday On The Fox stalled when the developer passed away before plans could be completed.

In 1994, a state grant and an agreement with a new developer made it possible for the village of Fox River Grove to purchase 40 acres along the river. The rest of the land was sold to Picnic Grove LP and became the Picnic Grove Subdivision. The plat was recorded and the first lots were sold in 1995.

Today, the 40 acres owned by the village are known as Picnic Grove Park. It is one of the last remaining public areas on the Fox River. It contains a playground, picnic shelter, gazebo, boat docks, boat launch, grills, picnic tables, and a sledding hill. The only traces of the park's former life are the original roadways and a concrete slab where the Grove Marina once was located. 

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.
Researcher, Lisa Cummings

Searching for the true location of the Jean Baptiste Point de Sable farm of 1790 Chécagou.

The first book reporting the early history of Chicago was written by Juliette Augusta Magill Kinzie (married to John Kinzie's son, John H. Kinzie in 1830) titled: Wau-Bun, The `Early Day` In the North-West (in pdf) which was published in 1856. In the book is the following entry relating to the earliest event in Chicago`s long history:
“Point-du-Sable [Jean Baptiste Point 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 du Sable" first appears long after his death.)] had made some improvements at Chicago, which were taken possession of by a Frenchman named Le Mai, who commenced trading with the Indians. After a few years Le Mai`s establishment was purchased by John Kinzie, Esq., who at that time resided at Bertrand, or Parc aux Vauches, as it was then called, near Niles in Michigan.”
The statement, that the De Sable farm passed from De Sable to a man named Le Mai and then to John Kinzie, was an accepted fact in Chicago history for the next 65 years, but with the discovery of the so-called “bill of sale” in Detroit, in 1921, it was learned that De Sable didn’t sell the farm to a man named Le Mai, but to a man named Jean Baptiste La Lime — the same Jean La Lime that John Kinzie, Esq., murdered in 1812. Although the Wau-Bun statement on page 221 was a factual lie (fabricated by Juliette Kinzie’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Eleanor Kinzie, the widow of John Kinzie, Esq.), the part about De Sable owning the farm which became John Kinzie’s property was held to be absolutely true, and that this farm was the only farm that De Sable occupied since coming to Chicago in 1784 and departing from Chicago in 1800.

The essay you are about to read is speculation that De Sable occupied two different farms at Chicago and that he didn’t own either one of them, but speculation based on both factual and historical information and a few new facts recently discovered.

A statement was made in an issue of the "Chicago Portage Ledger" that the trading post known as the Kinzie Mansion was not the same building that was occupied by Jean Baptiste Point de Sable for the first ten years of his residency at Chicago — from 1788 to 1798. Although actual written proof of this statement may be lacking, the proof of such depends on how we interpret the known facts. Let's begin with the claim that De Sable was Chicago’s first permanent resident. In Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard’s book, “The Autobiography of Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard (in pdf),” published 1911, there is the following quote relating to Hubbard’s first visit to Chicago in 1818:
“What is now known as the North Branch [of the Chicago River] was then known as River Guarie, named after the first trader that followed La Salle. The field he cultivated was traceable on the prairie by the distinct marks of the cornhills.”
A further explanation appears in two of Milo Milton Quaife’s books.

Chicago and the Old Northwest, 1673-1835" (in pdf)” published 1913:
“The next tangible tradition of white occupation of Chicago is contained in a story told to Gurdon S. Hubbard by the trader, Antoine Des Champs. He pointed out to the youthful Hubbard the traces of corn hills on the west side of the North Branch and related that as early as 1778 a trader by the name of Guarie had lived here, from whom the river had taken its name. Hubbard gives further details concerning Guarie’s trading house, taking pains to point out, however, that the statements are based on oral tradition. But this tradition is corroborated in one respect at least, for as late as 1823 the North Branch was called the ‘Gary’ river by the historian of Major Long’s expedition.”
“Chécagou, From Indian Wigwam to Modern City, 1673-1835,” published 1933:
“Another early resident, the print of whose remembrance has all but vanished, was the trader Guary or Guillory. Gurdon Hubbard, who first visited Chicago as a young fur-trade apprentice in 1818, was told by Antoine des Champs, then a veteran in the Illinois River fur trade, that Guary had lived at Chicago as early as 1778, and the remains of a cornfield cultivated by him were pointed out to Hubbard. Although this story rests on oral tradition, supporting evidence is not wanting. The government exploring expedition of Major Stephen H. Long passed through Chicago in 1823, and its historian designates the north branch as ‘Gary River.’ Since the writer was a professor in the University of Pennsylvania, with no local knowledge of Chicago, some informant here must have told him that this was the name of the river. The trader whose fame was thus celebrated was evidently a member of the Guillory (sometimes spelled Guyari) family of Mackinac. Joseph Guillory came from Montreal to that place prior to 1747, in which year he married Louise Bolon there. The Bolons were long residents of St. Joseph, and Jean Baptiste Guillory, who was probably a son of Joseph, was engaged in trade at both St. Joseph and the Illinois at the time of the American Revolution. In 1778 he was licensed to convey two canoe-loads of goods to ‘Illinois via St. Joseph’; the next year he became one of the proprietors of the general store at Mackinac; and a document of July 21, 1781, shows that he had been operating at St. Joseph in 1779-80. These facts, together with others which might be recited, suggest the probability that the trader whose story the aged Des Champs reported to Hubbard was Jean Baptiste Guillory, and inspire the hope that more definite record concerning this early settler of Chicago may some time be found.”
Contrary to Quaife’s first statement that Hubbard “gives further details concerning Guarie’s trading house,” in the Citadel edition of Hubbard’s book, the Guarie trading post is not mentioned. Only the cornfield is mentioned as being on the property and this is identified by its residual corn-hills. In Robert A. Holland’s book, “Chicago In Maps, 1612 to 2002,” John Whistler’s 1808 map of Fort Dearborn also shows no buildings to be on the west side of the river at the forks of the Chicago River.
Plan of the First Fort Dearborn, drawn by John Whistler in 1808.
CLICK FOR A FULL-SIZED MAP
In Ulrich Danckers and Jane Meredith’s book, “Early Chicago” in an essay by John F. Swenson entitled, “Jean Baptiste Point De Sable, The Founder of Modern Chicago,” Swenson states that:
“Once Point de Sable settled in Chicago, in territory regarded by law as Indian-owned, at the end of the Revolution, he was mainly a farmer. His farm was known, as far away as the nation’s capital, as the only source of farm produce in the area until after he moved away in 1800.”
Again from Milo M. Quaife’s book, “Chicago and the Old Northwest, 1673-1835,” there is the following notation regarding the De Sable farm:
“The first trading establishment at Chicago of which we have any certain knowledge was that of Baptiste Point du Sable in the latter years of the eighteenth century. Hugh Heward, who in 1790 passed from Lake Michigan by way of the Chicago Portage to the Illinois, tarried at Chicago a day to prepare for the further journey. He exchanged his canoe for a pirogue belonging to Du Sable, and bought from him a quantity of flour and pork, for which he gave in exchange thirteen yards of cotton cloth.”
So where was the location of this 1790 De Sable farm? Where in modern Chicago was it located? As per Juliette Kinzie’s book, the De Sable farm-house was the same as that later owned by John Kinzie, but was the Kinzie house of 1804 on the same ground as the De Sable farm-house of 1790?

Again let's go back to the Hubbard quote and interpret what it actually says. The site was shown to Hubbard by Antoine Des Champs, the man in charge of the “Illinois Brigade” of the American Fur Company, and it is he who identifies the west side of the North Branch as being the location of the first trading post in the Chicago area. Only Guarie is mentioned as being its resident, but what is not mentioned is who, if anyone, occupied the site after Guarie left. For certain, De Sable is not mentioned, but this doesn’t mean that he wasn’t there or that Des Champs had no knowledge of him or when he came and left — only the founding person, Guarie, is mentioned. Although there is no cabin on the site, there is a field of residual corn-hills which show that someone had tilled the ground here in the recent past. And it should be emphasized here that Hubbard described the corn-hills as being in a “field,” not a garden, and that the field was on the “prairie.”

A garden may be planted by a trader, but a field is tilled by a farmer. Although Des Champs identified the site as having been founded by Guarie, clearing and tilling a field for growing crops was well beyond the ambition and abilities of a fur-trader. This field may well have been the site of the De Sable farm of 1790, but the proof of that assumption is not at this field’s site but at the site of the Kinzie Mansion which was the site of a “stock-farm,” not a farm for growing crops.

In 1830 the shoreline of Lake Michigan was about 690 feet east of Fort Dearborn and about 596 feet east of the Kinzie Mansion. In 1830 Fort Dearborn occupied a square of ground measuring about 196 feet on each side. The average house-lot in Chicago is 25 feet wide and the length of a city block 660 feet in length, so the Kinzie Mansion was slightly less than one block west of the water-line of Lake Michigan. As per the Howard-Harrison Map, there was also a sand and gravel beach between the lake and the Kinzie house, this being 110 feet in width, thus placing the house about 3/4 of a block west of barren, open ground.

On the J. Harlen Bretz 1930-32 geology map of the “Chicago Loop Quadrangle," the site of the Guarie trading post, the old cornfield, Fort Dearborn, and the Kinzie Mansion, were all on ground which was the former Ancient Lake Chicago called “Grand Lac,” with a surface soil consisting of “lacustrine silt and sand.” And in Rufus Blanchard’s “Discovery and Conquests of the Northwest with the History of Chicago,” there is a letter written by R.J. Bennett describing the soil on which Fort Dearborn was built:
“The fort stood on a sand mound, some twenty feet above the river, and occupied a tract bounded by a line running along about River street to near the center of the Chicago River as it now is [May 11, 1880], and east, say 150 feet east of Michigan Avenue to the lake beach; thence south, say a like distance south of the present intersection of Michigan Avenue and River Street; thence west to the place of beginning. The enclosure was a stockade formed by setting logs upright and close together, the lower end embedded in the earth, and the upper sharpened like pickets or pikes. Within this enclosure and near the stockade was arrayed the barracks and the officers’ quarters; they were built of hewn logs. Within these and to the south side of the enclosure was the parade ground. In 1857 Mr. A.J. Cross, now connected with the C., B. & Q. R. R., but then in the employ of the city, tore down the fort and lighthouse and leveled the mound by carting the sand to fill Randolph street to grade. One of the buildings was moved, but still within the site of the fort (about the center of the store now owned by W. M. Hoyt, and occupied by the firm of which he is the head). That building stood till the fire of 1871 destroyed it, and thus removed the last of Fort Dearborn.”
This Fort Dearborn photograph was taken in 1856.
It was because of the Fort Dearborn sand mound that the Chicago River made a horseshoe-bend just before entering the lake. Since the Kinzie Mansion was built directly opposite the fort, on the north side of the river, it is quite likely that this building too was built on dune sands with the said sand-dune also extending northward from the house. On the contrary, the Guarie farm field is described by Hubbard as being on the “prairie.” Prairie soils are generally deep and rich and as per Chicago’s geologic history, this particular prairie-land began developing about 2600 years ago.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture in Springfield, Illinois states that corn and wheat could be grown on sandy soil, but only with frequent waterings, made possible in modern times by irrigation. An Agriculturist asked the same question about corn and wheat growing in sandy soil says that six inches of good soil are necessary to grow corn and wheat, while sand by itself would only grow potatoes. During De Sable’s time near the end of the eighteenth century, frequent waterings do not seem to have been probable for a farm field, so the Kinzie site does not appear to have been the same site as the De Sable farm of 1790. Since residual corn-hills were only found west of the North Branch of the Chicago River in 1818, with none found east of that location, it seems probable that the North Branch site was the site of De Sable’s farm of 1788 to 1798.

In the so-called “De Sable bill of sale” in the library of the Chicago Historical Society (today the Chicago History Museum) — the document is actually an affidavit by John Kinzie that a “bill of sale” did exist — the inventory of property for the farm located north of the site of Fort Dearborn, included a horse-mill 36 feet by 20, a pair of millstones of two feet, a plow chain, a plow, seven scythes, and eight good sickles. All the equipment was necessary for a farmer to plant and harvest crops. Thus, it could be argued that this farm at the mouth of the Chicago River was the same farm that was visited by Hugh Heward in 1790. If such were true, then serious questions arise regarding the farming abilities of De Sable and the farm’s true ownership. If this farm at the mouth of the Chicago River was solely owned by De Sable, then why did he choose a site with poor soil over a site with better soil, as was that on the Guillory site? As a farmer, De Sable certainly should have known good soil from the bad. However, if De Sable was not the true owner, but was assigned to this location, then that would explain why he was on a site with poor soil. It was either here or no-where. But, why did the true owner choose a site on poor soil when better soil sites were available and free for the taking? As with many real-estate deals, the answer lies in “location, location, location.” But why was the poor soil location better than the good soil location? Because it was opposite the site of the government fort soon to be built here. Thus, the farm at the mouth of the Chicago River was not the first farm associated with De Sable and not the same farm as that which was visited by Hugh Howard in 1790. That original farm was somewhere else, probably at a place with better soil.

How and why De Sable became associated with William Burnett is not absolutely known, but his role as a farmer in pioneer Chicago fits better on the Guillory site west of the North Branch of the Chicago River than it does on the sand dunes along Lake Michigan.

William Burnett was an American-born fur trader who settled at what is now St. Joseph, Michigan, in 1776 or 1777. He apparently became the dominant trader there in 1782 when he married Kakima, the daughter of Aniquiba, the Potawatomi Indian chief at St. Joseph. Burnett’s trading empire not only included the St. Joseph River (formerly known as the Miami River, so named for the Miami Indians), but also the Wabash River, the Kankakee River, and the Illinois River. Traders associated with him include John Kinzie, Point de Sable, Jean La Lime, Griffin, and Ducharme. Since Guillory (first-name unknown) was also a trader at St. Joseph who traded on the Illinois River in 1778, it is not unreasonable to presume that when Guillory left in 1779 to become one of the proprietors of the general store at Mackinac, his post on the Chicago River fell to Burnett.

Burnett’s association with Point de Sable began about 1784 with De Sable apparently farming at various locations, but by 1788 he was assigned to Burnett’s Chicago River facility at the former Guillory site. Apparently, whenever Burnett founded a post in the wilderness he also sought to clear and cultivate the land and to build numerous outbuildings. As a result, posts were often referred to as “mansions” because of the extent of their total holdings. Such was also probable at the Guillory site as when Hugh Howard visited the farm in 1790, De Sable sold him wheat and pork. Since wheat is produced by grinding wheat kernels in a mill, the De Sable farm of 1790 must have had a horse-mill on the property and a pair of millstones; and pork probably meant that hogs were kept in a wooden sty. But all this farming equipment did not appear overnight. Although Swenson gives De Sable’s arrival at Chicago as 1788, Anson has him moving permanently to Chicago in 1790. Apparently, it took two years — 1788 to 1790 — for all the appurtenances to be built before De Sable could move permanently to Chicago in 1790. Then about 1798 Burnett apparently learned about the government’s intention to build a fort at Chicago, to which he decided to move his farm and re-open it as the home of the fort’s civilian sutler. Everything was moved to the new site, nothing was left behind — except a field of corn-hills. Since said sutler would be keeping records and a book of accounts, illiterate De Sable could not fill that role so he sold his interest in the concern to Jean La Lime in 1800. Thus, quite possibly De Sable never occupied any part of the building later identified with John Kinzie.

De Sable’s part in Juliette Kinzie’s ownership history of the Kinzie Mansion, published in “Wau-Bun” in 1856, is totally fraudulent, although such was not known to its author who was given to believe that the story was true. The fable was apparently a scheme devised by the author’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Eleanor Kinzie, to justify the deceased John Kinzie’s claim of ownership of the mansion after the true owner (William Burnett) disappeared in 1812.

The site of the noted corn-field and the Guillory trading post where De Sable presumably lived from 1788 to about 1798 is near where the Wolf Point Tavern later stood, which today is within the intersection of Fulton and Canal streets in Chicago.

There is no existing historical document stating that the De Sable farm of 1790 was located at the site of the Kinzie house at the mouth of the Chicago River. That site, suggested it was the Guillory site, is based on speculation. However, because the Guillory site meets all the requirements of a working farmstead, while the Kinzie house does not, De Sable was probably at the Guillory site in 1790, not at the Kinzie site.

By Philip E. Vierling
Edited by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Goodyear, Tire & Rubber Company's "Wingfoot Express" dirigible crashed in Chicago's Loop on July 21, 1919.

On July 21, 1919, the Wingfoot Express burned and crashed into the Illinois Trust and Savings Bank building. The very next day a Negro swimmer was murdered at a southside beach which triggered the 1919 Chicago Race Riots that shook the country.
The crowd scene at Illinois State Bank after the Wingfoot Express caught fire.
Eleven persons were killed and twenty-eight injured when a gigantic dirigible on its test flight caught fire and fell 1,200 feet, crashing through the skylight of the Illinois Trust and Savings Bank building at Jackson Boulevard and LaSalle Street, shortly before 5 o’clock in the afternoon.

Nine of the dead were employees of the bank, trapped and burned to death in a withering rain of fire caused by the explosion of the balloon’s gasoline tanks as they hit the floor of the bank rotunda, where over 150 bookkeepers and clerks, nearly all girls, were working.
Wingfoot Express departing from Grant Park.
The blimp, known as the “Wing Foot” express and owned by the Goodyear, Tire and Rubber Company of Akron, Ohio, had been flying above the city intermittently for several hours when the accident occurred. Thousands witnessed it.

When approximately 1,200 feet above the bank a spurt of flame was seen to shoot from the gasbag near the center of the aircraft. The crowds gathered on the streets to watch the flight saw the great machine buckle and quiver as it started on its fatal plunge.

Four of its five occupants, wearing parachutes, jumped. The fifth, unable to get away, was caught in the flaming gasbag and burned and crushed to death on the bank roof. Another’s parachute burst into flames and followed the balloon through the skylight, the man’s body crashing to the bank floor. A third man broke both legs as he landed and the other two, experienced balloonists, landed one on a roof and one in LaSalle street. One of these escaped injuries and the other was only slightly hurt
CLICK FOR A FULL-SIZE ILLUSTRATION. 
There was nothing to warn the hundreds of the institution of the coming tragedy. A shadow passed over the marble rotunda, where 150 were busy, and a terrifying crash followed. The bank’s closing hour for patrons had passed, but the clerks were still at work in various departments.

It seemed, according to the survivors, as if the entire bank was on fire. Breaking through the iron supports holding the glass overhead, the fuselage of the blimp, with two heavy rotary engines and two gasoline tanks, ashed to the floor.

Instantly the tanks exploded, scattering a wave of flaming gasoline over the workers for a radius of fifty feet. A panic ensued. There were only two exits through which they could leave the wire cage which surrounded the rotunda.

Men and girls with clothing flaming fought their way through the exits. Girls on the second floor ran screaming to the window and several jumped to the street.

In an instant the marble rotunda was deserted except for the dead, whose bodies were buried under the flaming mass, licked to a white heat by the gasoline blaze, and the dying, who crawled feebly away from the scorching fire, their clothes burning off.

The intense heat made rescue work impossible until after the fire department arrived and a four-eleven alarm call. It was thirty minutes before the bodies under the craft's could be dragged out. Some were burned beyond recognition.

Meanwhile, ambulances from every hospital and undertaking establishment near the center of the city came, and the police threw a cordon about the place. Many were found to have been more or less seriously cut by the shower of glass which preceded the explosion.

The rescue work was watched by a crowd of 20,000 on LaSalle street and Jackson boulevard, while more thousands took places of vantage on the buildings nearby. The cause of the fire which brought the flaming gasbag plunging down is not known. None of the crew could ascribe a definite reason. Several theories were offered, however. One was that a spark from the rotary motors, a dangerous type to be carried under the inflammable gasbag, set the gas afire. Another was that the was overcharged and the sun's rays caused it to expand and burst, the fire following the contact of the gas with sparks in the gas with sparks to the motors.

A third theory was that the gasbag had been smoldering since the dirigible left Grant park ten minutes previous to the accident. Witnesses to the blimp's takeoff said that a mechanic had applied a blow torch to the propellers just before they were started to burn off the oil from the propeller bearings.

It was intended to charge the bag with a mixture of hydrogen gas, which is not inflammable. It was conjectured, however, that a quantity of oxygen became mixed in the charging process, rendering a highly explosive combination

When J. A. Boettner, an employee of the rubber company and pilot of the craft, saw the flicker of flame he yelled a warning to the other passengers and jumped from the fuselage.

Carl Weaver, the mechanic, followed suit. His parachute caught fire and the dropped like a shot through the skylight, his mangled body falling on the marble floor as the balloon engines and gas tanks struck. Earl H. Davenport, a publicity man for White City Amusement Park, tried to jump, but his parachute was held by the flaming bag and he dropped with the wreck to the bank roof, where his body was found by firemen.

Milton G. Norton, a photographer for a morning newspaper, alighted on LaSalle street, but both of his legs were broken and he received Internal injuries of a serious nature. Harry ‘Wacker, a mechanic, was slightly injured, and Boettner alighted safely.

The others dead were crushed and burned in the rotunda of the bank. The body of one, believed to have been that of Miss Evelyn Meyers, was caught under one of the heavy rotary engines, and could not be dislodged the fire was put out.

The central portion of the bank was wrecked. The fire spread through all of the desks in the rotunda and rendered them a huge charred pile.

Where the gasbag lit and burned the roof caught fire, and it was nearly an hour before firemen could quench the flames.
Interior of the bank after Winged Foot Express crash.
The extent of the damage to the bank through the burning of its records is not known. It was declared by an official, however, that a package of $50,000 in government bonds was burned up. There was no attempt to loot the place, and tellers returned with the firemen to lock up thousands of dollars of currency in the huge vaults, untouched by the blaze.

For hours after the crash, the institution took the aspect of a hospital as dozens of employees, many of the girls, with severe cuts and after their hurts were bandaged to help straighten out the confusion.

The stories of the crash were myriad. Yet practically all agreed. That of Miss Harriet Messinger, the telephone operator, who sat tending to her switch hoard on the balcony above the rotunda, was, typical:
“There was a shadow and I looked up to the roof. Instantly a crash sent the glass flying on the heads of those below,” she said."

"The girls hesitated, many of them stunned by the glass or too frightened to run. Then the huge machine came through. It seemed to fill the bank with the flame that searched out every corner. The heavy part with its engines and tanks fell to the floor and exploded."

“I ran to a window and called for help. I started to jump, but no one made a move to catch me, so I ran to the street safely.”
Orris Herb of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, a member of the crew said:
"I was standing in Grant park ‘watching the machine when I saw it ‘take fire. The blaze seemed to start at the top of the bag, which makes the mystery of the accident more deep. Four of the five occupants jumped over the side. The fifth man, Davenport, did not jump. He went to his death with the dirigible."
Boettner, the pilot, was taken to the Chief of Police Garrity when be landed, practically unhurt. He told the following story:
"As we neared State street I felt the machine buckle and there was a tremor throughout the fusilage. I knew something had happened and saw the flames licking the bag. All over the top,’ I shouted. ‘Jump, or you’ll burn alive. I jumped. I landed the falling bag, but was not burned."
The accident occurred on the third flight of the new dirigible. At 9 a.m. it left the hangar at White City Amusement Park and made its way to Grant Park. Shortly after noon, a trial flight was made safely with several passengers. The third and fatal takeoff came after 4 p.m.

They had cruised intermittently over the city for several hours, the center of attention of hundreds of thousands of eyes when the accident happened.

According to E.E. Helm, publicity agent for the rubber company, W.C. Young, manager of the blimp, had asked the photographer and Davenport not to ride with them on the trip because the machine was a new one and untried.

“But they insisted on going, so we took them along,” he said.

The machine he said, was the property of the rubber company. It was a sister ship of the “A-4” which is in the service of the army. It was 186 feet long and about fifty wide and carried a capable of holding ten persons, a crew of two and eight passengers.

It was the intention of the company to establish later a passenger service,” said Helm. “Our hangars at Akron are still In the hands of the army and to make flights we decided to use the hangars at White City Amusement Park, which are the best in the mid-west for our use.

“We shipped the balloon down three weeks ago. Our first flight was on July 21st. The craft was not considered safe until it had been thoroughly tested and that was the purpose of the flights. They left White City Amusement Park yesterday morning, flew around until noon and landed at Grant Park. There had been some army officers as passengers during the morning and it was our intention not to take anyone with us on the later flight, but the photographer and Mr. Davenport pleaded to go, against our warnings, and we allowed them.

“The men at Grant Park who the flight said that there was no intimation of trouble until the flames broke out.”

The scenes at the Central Undertaking company and the Iroquois Memorial and the St. Luke’s hospital were pathetic to the extreme. Here hundreds of relatives of persons employed in the bank and their friends gathered to find out whether their loved ones were dead or alive.

Dozens of injured employes returned to the bank to aid the uninjured in salvaging the records of the institution. As soon as the fire was abated, they dragged hundreds of books and letter files from the smoking pile.

These were taken to a point in the entrance of the bank and piled up to be guarded by policemen. Water from the fire hoses also did considerable damage to the records.

Despite the damage to the bank, the loss was not more than $15,000, according to John J. Mitchell president of the bank. He was reticent in, discussing the property loss in view of the death of his employees with all of whom he was acquainted with. He said the bank will be open as usual today.

“I don’t see how we can blame anyone for this most regrettable accident,” he said. “It was. one of those things that no one could have foreseen or forestalled.

“I am deeply hurt at the death of my employees, all of whom I have known personally. The property lost to the bank is really negligible in the face of the loss of life. I should say that $15,000 will replace the equipment

The Illinois Trust and Savings Bank, thanks to the courageous work of many of the employees, who remained on the job, and, others who came back to work last night in bandages, will be open for business as usual today.” The bank, one of the most beautiful in the city, was ruined throughout its center, while the portions protected by the balcony were untouched. The marble pillars supporting the roof and surrounding the rotunda were cracked and broken by the heat. The marble floors were smashed and caved in where the engines fell.

Herbert A. Byfleld, one of the owners of White City Amusement Park, denied Any liability on the part of the White City Amusement Park company for the accident. He gave a persona] tribute to Davenport who lost his ‘life He said:

"The Goodyear company’s airship the ‘Wing Foot Express,’, was assembled at the Hangar building at White City Amusement Park. This building is historic as being the only available hangar in the United States when war broke out. In it, the Goodyear company built the first two airships used by Uncle Sam for the war, and fourteen kite balloons as well.

With the war over, the White City Amusement Park planned to tear down the hangar and build a picnic grove. This building lying idle was still the only airship hangar in Chicago, and also was used by the Goodyear company in its ill-fated, but earnest effort to stimulate and promote the airship industry in America.

Earl Davenport, publicity director, left White City Amusement Park while the airship was still circling overhead, and was taken to Grant Park. What happened after that is unknown to the White City Amusement Park, but apparently he entered the car as an invited guest of the Goodyear managers.

This is a terrible blow to me personally, as Earl Davenport was one of my closest friends years before he came to White City Amusement Park. He was the best-natured man and had the kindest heart of anyone I have ever known. – .

The White City Amusement Park was not a partner to the Goodyear company and was expressly released from all liability."

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.