Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Zenith Radio Store, Chicago, Illinois, 1936.



Console radio units are displayed in model living rooms in two illuminated, floor-to-ceiling windows of this Zenith Radio store in Chicago at the southwest corner of Michigan and Huron in September 1936. 
Personal radio purchases increased after the passage of the Rural Electrification Act [1] in 1936, which coincided with a drop in radio prices and increased sales for the Chicago company.


The southwest corner is now the "City Place" building at 676 North Michigan Avenue and home to the Omni Chicago Hotel.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.


[1] The Rural Electrification Act (REA) of 1936, enacted on May 20, 1936, provided federal loans for the installation of electrical distribution systems to serve isolated rural areas of the United States. REA crews traveled through the American countryside, bringing teams of electricians along with them. The electricians added wiring to houses and barns to utilize the newly available power provided by the line crews. A standard REA installation in a house consisted of:

A 60 amp, 230-volt fuse panel, with:
  • A 60 amp range circuit
  • A 20 amp kitchen circuit
  • Two or three 15 amp lighting circuits
A ceiling-mounted light fixture was installed in each room, usually controlled by a single switch mounted near a door. At most, one outlet was installed per room, since plug-connected appliances were expensive and uncommon. 

A Freak Michigan Avenue Bridge Accident Occurred in Chicago on September 20, 1992.

The closure of the Michigan Avenue bridge threw a monkey wrench into downtown traffic on Monday, and there was little relief in sight. Mayor Richard M. Daley, who visited the scene, said he didn't know when the bridge would reopen.

Meanwhile, crews planned to brace the southeast leaf of the span, one of four comprising the bridge, to make sure it was stable enough to allow removal of debris.

The southeast leaf sprung open unexpectedly Sunday afternoon, sending a construction crane plummeting to the street and slightly injured six people. The crane crashed through Michigan Avenue to Lower Michigan. The span rose with such force that it ripped off its structural mounts and twisted down and back into a concrete counterweight pit.
The Raised South Leaf of the Michigan Avenue Bridge in Chicago.


The Bridge has been undergoing a two-year reconstruction in a $31 million ($58 million today) project that was scheduled for completion by late November. The southeast leaf was the last segment to be renewed.

Because of the work on the leaf and removal of some heavy steel, it has become unbalanced, officials said. But it was not known how it became unlocked, permitting it to spring up.

A section of nearby Wacker Drive from Wabash to Stetson Avenues that was closed after the accident could reopen on Tuesday, officials said.



Jesus Lopez escaped serious injury Sunday when a leaf of the Michigan Avenue bridge suddenly sprang up, causing a 70-foot crane to come crashing to the street, damaging his car and others, and injuring six people.

"We were waiting for the bridge to come down so we could go back to work," said Lopez, a bridge maintenance worker. Lopez was parked on the south side of Wacker Drive sitting in the driver's seat of his Ford Escort when the southeast leaf of the bridge unexpectedly rose and the crane, which was sitting on the bridge, came barreling down. Its cab became wedged in the gap between Wacker Drive and the bridge. The boom, the crane's moveable post, toppled across Wacker Drive. Two traffic-light poles, a crossing gate, and a Chicago police patrol car were damaged.

The huge iron ball and hook attachment to the end of the cable that runs along the boom bounced off the asphalt of Wacker Drive, leaving about a 4-inch crater and smashing through the rear driver's side window of Lopez's car, mangling the door, roof, read quarter panel and back seat.


"I guess I was just lucky," Lopez said, patting a silver cross that hung from his neck and trying to catch his breath. "I'm glad I wasn't sitting in the back seat."

The six who were injured were passengers on a CTA bus. All of them were treated for "bumps and bruises" at area hospitals and released. The Michigan Avenue from Randolph Street to Ohio Street was closed to vehicle traffic according to police.

The accident leads to an acknowledgment on the part of the city that none of its inspectors had the experience or training to determine the proper balancing of weight on a bridge that is under construction.

The contracting team working on the Michigan Avenue bridge at the time of the freak accident bears full responsibility for the costly mishap, experts hired by the city. The investigators exonerated the city bridgetender on the scene when the span's southeast section suddenly flew open. And on December 3, 1992, Chicago Transportation Commissioner J.F. Boyle Jr. asserted the man was "absolutely blameless."

The unnamed employee, a 12-year veteran, insisted to investigators that he did not activate the switch that normally operates a lock on the 1,700-ton bridge section. But even if he hit the switch inadvertently, it was supposed to have been disconnected by the contractors.

The three unsafe conditions were found by engineers included:
  • Two locks-6 1/2-inch thick steel bars located under the rear of the leaf and designed to secure it in the "down" position-were bent instead of straight, robbing them of strength.
  • Motors that engage and disengage the locks were left fully operational.
  • Electrical circuitry connecting lock motors with controls in the bridgetender's tower were fully connected, while safety features were bypassed.
Though the "unsafe construction procedures" set the stage for the accident, it had not been determined what actually triggered the bridge's release. Possibilities include a structural failure of the rear locks or a mechanical or electrical disengagement of the locks. For the bridgetender to fully disengage the locks, he would have had to press a control for eight seconds.

The investigation had gone to the point where they can go no further.

NOTE: The Michigan Avenue Bridge was renamed the "Du Sable Bridge" in October of 2010 to honor the "Father of Chicago," 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) a French Haitian and the city's first non-native settler.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Train Runs Into Open Bridge on September 21, 1941; Engine Stops Short of Plunging into the Chicago River.

The Midnight Special, Chicago & Alton train to St. Louis, Missouri, carrying about 100 Pullman passengers, ran into an open bridge on Sunday, September 21, 1941, at 21st Street and the south branch of the Chicago River. The bridge had been opened to permit a freight boat to pass. There were automatic signal lights guarding the approaches to the bridge.


Nearly half of the locomotive went beyond the end of the bridge approach and slanted perilously over the water. Had it gone a few feet farther the engine would have fallen off the track and plunged into the river.

The train had left Union Station at 1 o'clock a.m. At about the same time a boat, tentatively identified as the Canadian freighter, "Lavaldoc," was clearing the railroad bridge, which is owned by the Pennsylvania system. The bridge was still raised as the Alton train approached. The engineer jammed on the brakes, and brought the train to a stop but not until the small front wheels and the first drive wheels had left the rail ends. No one was injured, police said. Four sleeper cars were detached and taken back to Union Station.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

The History of the Morton House Restaurant that was in Morton Grove, Illinois.

The Morton House, formerly the "St. Cloud House," at Miller's Mill, had been thoroughly renovated and refurnished in 1869. They offered room and board for $5 per week and $6  suites. The area attracted Roadhouses, pickle farms, and rose gardens.

The Morton House opened in October 1869 as a stagecoach stop and grocery. The Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad track was laid through what would become the Village of Morton Grove in 1872. The whistle-stop (later station) at what had been Miller's Mill was named Morton Grove to honor one of the railroad's New York financiers, Levi Parsons Morton, who became the 22nd vice president of the United States from 1889 to 1893 for President Benjamin Harrison. Morton Grove became well known as a stagecoach stop. The village formally incorporated as Morton Grove on December 24, 1895.

The little frame building grew with the railroad, adding more rooms. It had become a tradition with the Morton House, (on today's Lincoln Avenue at Lehigh, just south of Dempster), that when the Milwaukee Road train would approach the crossing near the restaurant, the bartender would rush out with his lantern, signal the train to a stop and serve the engineer a beer. The practice was continued for years until the high-speed modern trains made it impossible.
In the U.S., during the 17th to 20th centuries, Groceries, Saloons, Taverns, Public Houses, and Hotel Bars sometimes issued tokens that could be used in payment for future drinks. When buying a round of drinks for friends, the bartender would give a token to those patrons already having a drink, and collect the full sum from the round-buyer. The owner would collect the money immediately, and the drinkers would have a token for later use. As the token cost less to produce than the value of the drink, there was a significant profit to the bar owner. Sometimes, drinkers would take the token home, and forget to bring them back — which was pure profit. This has been cited as the reason bar owners loved tokens, and they were found in virtually every drinking establishment. Tokens were also used as change where the price of the drink was odd. For example, in frontier America, drinks were two for 25¢, (or one bit, 12.5¢) each, thus tokens exist in one-bit denominations. Early tokens were usually made of brass or tin.



Thru the years it has been an Inn, a country store, and an ice cream parlor. In 1936 it was purchased by Emil and Otis Dohl and converted into a popular family-type restaurant, serving German and American Fare. 
Dohl's Morton House, 6401 Lincoln at Lehigh, just south of Dempster.



The original frame house, a then landmark in the northwest suburban community for more than half a century burned down in 1953. It was rebuilt and enlarged, opening on December 4, 1954.
Dohl's Morton House



The dining rooms just seem to go on and on. There are 3 rooms that seat about 25 people, each on the main floor. These could be closed into smaller spaces or opened up to accommodate a large crown. They were completely private for parties. Downstair was the warm and attractive Anchorage room, complete with a bar that could accommodate up to 125 persons. The main dining room could seat 275 diners.
Dohl's Morton House
Dohl's Morton House
Dohl's Morton House






When the Dohl family retired in 1968 the Morton House was sold to Ray Castro and Edison Dick and considerable remodeling was done. They left the name of the restaurant "The Morton House." 

In April of 1970, Dohl's Morton House was acquired by the famous Jacques French Restaurant, 900 N Michigan Avenue, Chicago. They kept the Dohl name.

In June 1972 the Hoffman Brothers, Kenneth & Howard, lifetime residents of Morton Grove, purchased the restaurant. In 1975, the Hoffman's remodeled the restaurant. Incidentally, as a Morton Grove fireman, Howard Hoffman was one of the men who fought the Morton House fire in 1953.
Hoffman's Morton House - Copper Hooded Fireplace Dining Room.


Hoffman's Morton House became famous for its tableside Chateaubriand service.

The 1973–1975 recession differed from many previous recessions where high unemployment and high inflation existed simultaneously and took about 5 years to recover. Restaurant operators began cutting corners to try to keep prices down. At the Morton House, it was soup or salad, not soup and salad.
Hoffman's Morton House, hosted the Fourth Annual Morton Grove Oktoberfest on September 17, 18, 19, and 24, 25, 26, of 1976. The flexible walls of a giant tent adjoining Hoffman's Morton House will shake with the nightly musical performances, Yodelers, sing-alongs, dancing, and more.

Howard Hoffman died at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston on July 17, 1985.

The restaurant property sold and the equipment and fixtures are auctioned off on March 7, 1991. It's the end of a 122-year legacy.


The Grand Opening of the new Morton House Condominiums happened on January 02, 1993. For $161,900 to $189,900 ($250.00 in 2021) you get a 2 bedroom, 2 bath, in-unit laundry, elevators, and heated parking.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Who Were Abraham Lincoln's Siblings?

Think of Abraham Lincoln's family, and Tad or Mary is likely to come to mind. So don't blame yourself if the names Sarah or Thomas Lincoln don't exactly ring a bell. But though they're much less known, both of Lincoln's siblings helped make him the man—and president—he eventually became.
Portrait of Nancy Hanks Lincoln


Thomas and Nancy Hanks Lincoln had three children: Sarah, Abraham, and Thomas (Tommy). (Yes, Lincoln was a middle child, a fact that makes his future rise to fame even more noteworthy.) Sarah was born in 1807, two years earlier than Abraham. In 1812 (some accounts say 1813), tragedy struck the Lincolns when their third child, Tommy, died at just three days of age. It is not certain why Tommy died, but infant mortality was high in that era, especially on the frontier. Lincoln only mentioned Tommy a single time during his public career, but his death must have deeply grieved the family.

Before leaving Kentucky, Abraham Lincoln and his older sister Sarah (1807-1828) were sent for short periods, to ABC schools (also known as 'Blab' schools). Together, Abraham and Sarah attended what was known as Blab or ABC schools, a kind of early primary school common in frontier states like Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois. Instead of featuring age-separated classrooms or expensive books or pencils, such schools used a strictly oral curriculum. The "blab" part came from teachers who recited rote lessons to the kids, who in turn blabbed them back. That back-and-forth didn't necessarily provide a great education (and given that the school charged tuition, it probably cost the Lincolns dearly to send them there), but it was enough to instill the basics in both Lincoln kids.

But more grief was on its way for the Lincolns. Just two years after making the rough journey to Little Pigeon Creek and building a cabin there, Abraham Lincoln’s mother, Nancy, contracted "milk sickness" after drinking milk from a cow that had been poisoned by White Snakeroot, and died.

Abraham and Sarah were devastated. Though she was only two years older than her brother, Sarah tried to be a mother to Abraham. She also inherited the chores expected of the woman of the house, caring for her brother, father, and a cousin who lived with them.

Just a year later, their father left brother, sister, and 18-year-old cousin at home as he hunted for another wife. When he returned with a new wife, Sarah Bush Johnston, both brother and sister were so dirty and unkempt that she scrubbed them clean. Johnston had three children of her own, and with the help of a new mother and in a house with three stepsiblings, the Lincoln children went back to a life of hard work.
Sarah Bush Johnston


Sarah thought in some respects like her brother. She lacked Abraham's stature was thick-set, had dark-brown hair, deep gray eyes, and an even disposition. In contact with others, she was kind and considerate. Her nature was one of amiability, and God had endowed her with that invincible combination—modesty and good sense. Sarah was known in the community as gentle, intelligent, and kind. 

Sarah married Aaron Grigsby, a member of the leading family of Gentryville, Indiana, in August of 1826, whose family were neighbors of the Lincolns. At the wedding, the Lincoln family sang a song, "Adam and Eve's Wedding Song," composed in honor of the event by Abraham himself. It was a tiresome doggerel (comic verse composed in an irregular rhythm) full of painful rhymes. Sarah became pregnant. But during her delivery, she died at age 21, on January 20, 1828. 

The joint wedding celebration of Aaron's brothers Reuben, who married Betsy Ray, and  Charles who married Matilda Hawkins, or 'Tilda' as her mother called her, on the same day. 

When the invitations to the festivities were issued Abraham was left out, and the slight led him to furnish an appreciative circle in Gentryville with what he was pleased to term "The First Chronicles of Reuben." The incident created a rift between Lincoln and the Grigsbys.

The following day they with their brides returned to the Grigsby mansion, where the elder Reuben Grigsby gave them a cordial welcome. Here an old-fashioned affair, with feasting and dancing, and the still older fashion of putting the bridal party to bed, took place. 

In revenge, Lincoln had shrewdly persuaded a friend who was on the inside at the affair to slip upstairs while the feasting was at its height and change the beds of Betsy with that of Matilda, which Mamma Grigsby had carefully arranged in advance. The transposition of beds produced a comedy of errors that gave Lincoln as much satisfaction and joy as the Grigsby household embarrassment and chagrin. On this occasion some sense of mischief afoot disturbed the heart of the elder Mrs. Grigaby, and, hastening up-stairs, just after the attendants had returned downstairs, she cried out in a loud voice and to the great consternation of all concerned, "WHY RUEBEN, YOU'RE IN BED WITH THE WRONG WIFE!" 

Lincoln then wrote a description of the incident known as "The First Chronicles of Reuben" as payback, composed in what purports to be the style of the Scripture, the prose narrative was followed by a poem about Billy Grigsby, another of Aaron's brothers. The coarse poem ridicules the failed attempts of Billy to woo girls. The original text of "The First Chronicles of Reuben" does not survive [1].
 
Though Sarah is thought to have affected Abraham deeply with her intelligence and commitment, he seems to have been less impressed by his stepsiblings. In 1851, he wrote his stepbrother John Daniel Johnston a scathing letter denying him a loan of $80 and observing that "I doubt whether since I saw you, you have done a good whole day's work, in any one day."

The letter was tinged with humor amidst the bitterness, like many of Lincoln's missives, but it suggests that his non-Lincoln siblings never stole his heart the way his big sister did. Though Sarah never lived to see his accomplishments, she helped him mature into the person he eventually became—one who met life's challenges with perseverance and, when needed, a bit of sarcastic wit.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.


[1] The original chapter in Lincoln's handwriting came to light in a singular manner after having been hidden or lost for years. Shortly before my trip to Indiana in 1865 a carpenter in Gentryville was rebuilding a house belonging to one of the Grigsbys. While so engaged his son and assistant had climbed through the ceiling to the inner side of the roof to tear away some of the timbers, and there found, tucked away under the end of a rafter, a bundle of yellow and dust-covered papers. Carefully withdrawing them from their hiding-place he opened and was slowly deciphering them, when his father, struck by the boy's silence, and hearing no evidence of work, enquired of him what he was doing. "Reading a portion of the Scriptures that haven't been revealed yet," was the response. He had found "The First Chronicles of Reuben." 

Friday, March 26, 2021

Abraham Lincoln's Boyhood; Raised in the Poorest of Circumstances.

Abraham Lincoln passed his boyhood in three places and in three states, he was born at Nolan's Creek in Kentucky and lived there till he was eight years old. 
An illustration of the Kentucky log cabin that Abraham Lincoln was born in on February 12, 1809.


Then his father Thomas, moved to Pidgeon Creek, near Gentryville, in Southwestern Indiana in 1816. Here young Lincoln lived till he was twenty-one, a grown man.
The Lincoln family log home in Indiana.


The family moved once more to Sangamon Creek, in Illinois. 
Twenty-one-year-old Abraham Lincoln moved to Illinois with his family in March 1830.
Digital image from an 1865 b&w film negative.


All his homes were log structures, and he was to all intents and purposes a pioneer boy.

No boy ever began life under less promising auspices than young Abraham Lincoln. The family was very poor! His father was a shiftless man, who never succeeded in getting ahead in life. Their home was a mere log cabin of the roughest and poorest sort known to backwoods people. The rude chimney was built on the outside, and the only floor was the hardened earth. It was not so good and comfortable as some Indian wigwams. Of course, the food and clothes and beds of a family living in this way were of the miserable kind.

The family lived as did most pioneer families in the backwoods of Indiana. Their bread was made of cornmeal. Their meat was chiefly the flesh of wild game shot or trapped in the woods. Pewter plates and wooden trenchers were used on the table. 
A hand-hewn wooden trencher (a serving bowl or plate).


The drinking cups were of tin. There was no stove, and all the cooking was done over the fire of the big fireplace. Abraham's bed was simply a couch of leaves freshly gathered every two or three weeks.

At that time Indiana was still part of the wilderness. It had just been admitted to the Union as a state. Primeval woods grew up close to the settlement at Pidgeon Creek, and not far away were roving bands of Indians, and also wild animals—bears, wildcats, and panthers. These animals the settlers hunted and made use of for food and clothing. Young Abraham spent the larger part of his time out of doors. They hunted and fished and learned the habits of the wild creatures, and explored the far recesses of the woods. The forest lore Abraham never forgot, and the life and training made him vigorous and tough and able to endure in days after the troubles and trials that would have broken down many a weaker man.

Lincoln was fortunate in his mothers. His own mother died when he was nine years old, but she had done her best to start her boy in the world. Once she said to him: "Abraham, learn all you can, and grow up to be of some account. You've got just as good Virginian blood in you as George Washington had." Abraham never forgot this. Years afterward he said, "All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my blessed mother." His stepmother, Sarah Bush, was a kind-hearted, excellent woman, and did all she could to make the poor, ragged barefooted boy happy. She was always ready to listen when he read, to help him with his lessons, to encourage him. After he had grown up and become famous, she said of him: "Abraham never gave me a crossword or look, and never refused to do anything I asked of him. Abraham was the best boy I ever knew." 

There was a backwoods schoolhouse quite a distance away, which Abraham attended for a short time. Abraham Lincoln's first and second school teachers were Zachariah Riney and Caleb Hazel Sr.

These log schoolhouses in Lincoln's day had large fireplaces, in which there was a great blazing fire in the winter. The boys of the school had to chop and bring in the wood for the fire. The floor of such a schoolhouse was of rough boards hewn out with axes. The schoolmasters were generally harsh, rough men, who did not know very much themselves. Abraham soon learned to read and write, however, and after a while, he found a new teacher, and that was himself. When the rest of the family had gone to bed he would sit up and write and cipher by the light of the great blazing logs heaped upon the open fireplace. So poor were this pioneer family that they had no means of procuring paper or pencil for the struggling student. Abraham used to take the back of the broad wooden fire shovel to write on, and a piece of charcoal for a pencil. When he had covered the shovel with words or with sums in arithmetic, he would shave it off clean and begin over again. If his father complained that the shovel was getting thin, the boy would go out into the woods and make a new one. As long as the woods lasted, fire shovels and furniture were cheap.

There were few books to read in that frontier cabin. Poor Abraham had not more than a dozen in all. These were Robinson Crusoe, Pilgrim's Progress, Aesop's Fables, the Bible, and a small history of the United States. The boy read these books over and over till he knew a great deal of them by heart, and could repeat whole pages from them.

One book that made a great impression upon him was "The Life of George Washington, by M. L. Weems, [pub:1800]." This book he borrowed from a neighbor, who loaned it to him on the condition of his returning it in as good a condition as he received it. And this the young student intended to do. But one night there was a great storm, and it rained down in the cabin and seriously injured the precious volume. Lincoln was very much troubled and informed the neighbor of what had happened. The surly old man told him that he must give him three days' work shucking corn and that then he might keep the book for his own. It was the first book that Lincoln ever owned. No one knows how many times he read it through. Washington was his ideal hero, the one great man whom he admired above all others. How little he could have dreamed that in the years to come his own name would be coupled with that of the Father of his Country by admiring countrymen. 

By the time the lad was seventeen, he could write a good hand, do hard examples in arithmetic, and spell better than anyone else in the country. Once in a while, he would write a little piece of his own about something which interested him. Sometimes he would read what he had written to the neighbors when they would clap their hands and exclaim: "It beats the world what Abe writes!"

So Lincoln was all the time learning something and trying to make use of what he did know. Perhaps the great success of his life lay in the fact that in whatever position he was placed he always did his best. The time when the boy could no longer stay in the small surroundings of Pidgeon Creek came. He tried life on one of the river steamboats, then he served as a clerk- in a store at New Salem, where he began at odd moments to study law. In a short time he was practicing his profession, and people in the West were talking of the tall, lank young lawyer and of what a future he had before him. 

Such was the humble boyhood of Abraham Lincoln, but its very simplicity and the hardships he endured and overcame made him a strong man, a successful man. Later, when he came to be President and the leader of a Nation through a great civil war, we find that it was these same qualities of perseverance and courage, and fidelity that enabled him to triumph over difficulties and become the savior of a Great Republic. His life is a lesson and an inspiration to all aspiring boys.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

The first Fallout Shelter signs are installed in Chicago's Loop on November 11, 1962.

The public information officer of the Chicago District of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Thomas Hicks, says that signs have been posted in 13 Loop buildings that have been designated as fallout shelters.  


The Chicago Loop Buildings Include:
  • 13 West Wacker Drive.
  • 160 North Franklin Street.
  • 162 North Franklin Street. 
  • 174 Randolph Street. 
  • 177 West Lake Street. 
  • 190 North Wells Street. 
  • 236 West Lake Street. 
  • 30 North Wells Street. 
  • 310 North Michigan Avenue. 
  • 314 West Washington Street.
  • 316 West Randolph Street.
  • 417 South Dearborn Street.
  • 78 East Washington Street, Main Chicago Public Library.
The buildings will provide enough space for 6,200 people with “basement and upper floor shelter space to reduce radiation effects within the shelter to one-one hundredth of that outside,” according to Hicks. 
A 1962 Orginal Tin Fallout Shelter sign from my personal collection.
TEXT AT BOTTOM OF SIGN: DOD FS NO 1 - Not to be reproduced or used without Department of Defense Permission.


These buildings are the first of 495 Loop buildings and 2,500 buildings in the city that have been selected as fallout shelters. Most Chicago Public Schools will serve as Fallout Shelters. Loop shelters will provide space for 2.3 million people while 4.7 million people could be handled in shelters in the rest of the city.  It is expected that the posting of signs on the shelters will be completed within four months.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

The Oak Street tunnel from Michigan Avenue to Northbound Lake Shore Drive Opened on October 5, 1964.

The junction of Michigan Avenue, Oak Street, and Lake Shore Drive before the tunnel was constructed. Circa 1920s.

The $5 million tunnel at Oak Street was designed to move northbound traffic on Michigan Avenue onto a ramp providing access to northbound Lake Shore Drive, which opened for its first rush hour. The tunnel eliminates a bottleneck that has plagued Lake Shore Drive at Oak Street for years.


The tunnel extends under new northbound and southbound strips of Lake Shore Drive. The 27-foot wide underground roadway will handle only northbound traffic, which has been using a detour over what will become the new southbound segment of the drive.
The area today with the tunnel peeking out in the lower-left corner of the photo.



Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The First Chicago Project by Daniel Burnham (1909) Began on November 14, 1910.

The Chicago City Council takes the first step in implementing Burnham's 1909 Plan of Chicago when it voted to widen Twelfth Street ('12th' Street was renamed Roosevelt Road on May 25, 1919), from Ashland Avenue to Michigan Avenue.  
Twelfth Street, Chicago, before widening the street. Circa 1895.


The Chicago Plan was underwritten by the Commercial Club of Chicago as a framework for beautifying the city while, at the same time, making it run more efficiently.  Improving Twelfth Street directly relates to several of the plan’s goals. It will improve a major artery to and from the central business district while providing a more efficient way to view an improved lakefront, one of the major goals of the plan. The Tribune reports, “From even the more western sections citizens could make their way by such a broad, beautiful boulevard directly to Grant Park, and it is for that reason that it is one of the first changes urged for completion by the plan commission.” 

Although the council’s move is not in the form of an ordinance, it does charge the Board of Local Improvements with the responsibility of drafting an ordinance to obtain a strip of property 52-feet wide along the south side of Twelfth Street between Ashland and Michigan, providing the space necessary for a boulevard that will be 118 feet wide. It took some time to get there, but this, the first step forward in implementing a pathway to the “City Beautiful,” led to the street we know today as Roosevelt Road being widened in 1917.
Looking west on Roosevelt Road from Halsted Street, Chicago. 1940




Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Chicago's First Post Office Opened on March 31, 1831.

The United States government establishes a post office in the tiny hamlet of Chicago and appoints Jonathan N. Bailey as postmaster on March 31, 1831. 
Illustration of Chicago's First Post Office in 1833







The postoffice log building was near the present site on the west side of the Lake Street bridge. The north branch of the Chicago River is on the left behind the Postoffice, and the main branch veers off to the right. In the middle of the river fork is Wolf Point and the Wolf Point Tavern


Before the establishment of the post office, mail was brought to Chicago every second week or so from Niles, Michigan. The small outpost of Chicago had about a dozen families at the time, along with the garrison at Fort Dearborn. Post-Master Bailey served in his position until November 2, 1832, when his son-in-law, John S. C. Hogan, took over the job, moving the post office to today's southwest corner of Franklin and Wacker Drive.

Mail carriers were men of tough fiber and strong nerve, for, burdened as he was with his pack, mail pouch, and loaded musket, he was forced to keep on his feet day and night wading through snow so deep at times as to require snowshoes. When overcome with sleep he wrapped himself in his blanket and lay down in a snow-bank, taking such rest as he could with wild animals and wolves howling around him.

Mail Carriers:
In 1831, the mail was carried on foot once a month.
In 1832, on horseback once a week.
In 1833, by wagon once a week.
In 1834, by stagecoach semi-weekly.
In 1835 and 1836, by stagecoach tri-weekly.
In 1837, by stagecoach daily: and after that time, at increasingly shorter intervals.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Deadly Encounter Between Two Chicago Bridge Tenders. One of the Combatants Badly Wounded. 1867

A desperate struggle, resulting almost in murder, occurred at one o'clock in the morning of November 2, 1867, between two assistant bridge-tenders at the State street crossing. That murder was not committed, was in no way the fault of the combatants, for there was neither a lack of intent nor were the weapons employed impotent to produce such a result.
The first State Street Bridge was completed in 1864. The bridge was 184 feet in length and cost $32,000. It was built of wooden braces and chords. State Street Bridge #1, Looking North from Lake Street in 1868.

Chicago's first horse-drawn streetcar began running along a single railroad track laid in the middle of State Street between Madison and Twelfth Streets on April 25, 1859. (Twelfth '12th' Street was renamed Roosevelt Road on May 25, 1919.) By 1866, the State Street horse car service was extended to South Water Street on the north to 39th street on the south. 

DATING THIS PHOTOGRAPH: John Van Buskirk and David Henry began their partnership in the "wholesale wine and liquors" business at 20 State Street in 1864. During 1867 and 1868, Van Buskirk became a junior partner, and the company name was changed from "Van Buskirk & Henry" to "David Henry & Co." In 1870, David Henry moved his business to 79 Wabash where he was listed as a distiller.


The names of the parties who were engaged in the brutal and desperate affair were John Gannon and Edward Williams, both employed as assistants by Thomas Lewis, the head bridge-tender. Gannon, it appears, was off duty during the early part of the night, and returned about midnight somewhat the worse for the liquor he had imbibed during his vacation.

When he made his appearance at the bridge-house, Williams, his fellow-assistant, who had also imbibed somewhat freely, began to upbraid him in terms more forcible than elegant for returning in a condition that would prevent him from attending to his duties.
State Street Bridge #1, Looking North from South Water Street. 1868


The party thus accused denied the "slander," and retorted in a manner equally impressive. From words, they soon resorted to blows, and a desperate struggle ensued in the little bridge-house, about which a number of persons now began to collect. At first, only blows and kicks were given and taken. However, nature's implements soon failed as mediums which to express their feelings. Willimas, being evidently the soberest of the two, had the advantage from the beginning, and during the struggle succeeded in laying hold of a club, with which he felled his adversary to the floor. However, he was down only for a moment, and the struggle was continued with redoubled fury.

Williams now sprang for an ax, standing in a corner of the little hut, and with this, he dealt a crushing blow on his adversary's skull. This more than sufficed to bring Gannon down. However, not satisfied with the punishment inflicted, Williams was about to repeat the blow and already was the ax descending, when Mr. Lewis and a young man sprang into the hut, and, after a desperate struggle, wrung the weapon out of the hands of the would-be murderer. At this juncture Officers Lull and Layman, who had been attracted to the scene by the crowd, made their appearance and took William in charge. 

The little shanty, after the struggle, presented a fearful scene. The walls, the floor, the bed, and everything about the place was thickly covered with blood, while the prostate body of Gannon was covered with gore from his head to his feet. By means of a generous application of water, he was eventually revived, and, when able to walk, both parties were conveyed to the Armory, where Gannon's wounds received careful attention.

The blow with the ax caused a gash on the back of the skull, and it was not at all improbable that it may prove fatal. His body and face were also terribly beaten and bruised. Williams' injuries were not so severe, although his face was badly cut up. Altogether, the two constitute an exemplary pair of bridge-tenders, who ought to receive promotion. Their case will receive proper attention at the Police Court this morning.  

Chicago Tribune, November 2, 1867
Edited by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Friday, March 19, 2021

The History of Case & Martin's Connecticut Pie Bakery, Mechanical Bakery, and the Troubled Case-Moody Pie Corporation of Chicago.

On April 26, 1869, Elisha W. Case and Stephen E. W. Martin established the "Connecticut Pie Bakery," one of the most extensive pie bakeries in the United States, at 37 N. Wood Street (1934W) at the corner of Lake Street in Chicago. In 1872, they were obliged to enlarge their facilities for manufacturing, and to this end erected the building they occupied. They had three sixteen-feet rotary-ovens, employ about 50-people, and had twelve two-horse wagons. 

Their bakery has a capacity of ten thousand pies daily. The lard used by them was rendered fresh every day; and it was a sufficient commentary on the reputation of Connecticut pies, to say that they bring about 2¢ a pie more than any other brand or bakery. 

During the first year of the Connecticut Pie Bakery's existence, the average number of pies manufactured and sold was seventy-seven daily. At that time, Case & Martin thought of only reaching a sale of 1,000 pies per day; and their anticipations were realized in July 1870, when they sold a daily average of twelve hundred and fifty-three during that month. In 1874, the daily average reached twenty-three hundred and thirty; in 1879, twenty-four hundred and eighty-two; and in 1880, thirty-seven hundred and thirty-seven. The wagons used in delivering pies were brought into use in 1870, are an invention of the junior member of the firm, and since their introduction have been duplicated by firms doing business in a number of Western cities. The wagons were handsomely painted with fruit and forest scenes, having a carrying capacity of two hundred and fifty pies, and cost $700 (Today; $14,534) each.

Charles A. Case and younger brother, Elisha W. Case joined Charles in Norwich, Connecticut in his pie company in 1849. In 1854, Charles Case came to Chicago, bringing his younger brother with him, and established business at 72 Milwaukee Avenue (Today; 332 Milwaukee), near Halsted Street. This location, at that time, was 'way out of town.' The building was formerly an old copper shop, and the Case brothers persuaded John C. Culver, the owner, to turn the buildings front entrance to face Milwaukee Avenue, to put it in excellent repair, and to build an over for them; which he did, and they paid him $25 a month for it until 1858. 

The brothers found it very difficult to educate the western appetite to appreciate the Connecticut pies. When "The Mechanical Bakery" was started, about 1858, the Case brothers closed out their private business, and took the pie department of that concern, making pies, on contract, for 1¢ each. 

In July 1863, E. W. Case gave up his interest in the bakery and moved to his farm in Clinton County, Iowa, where he spent about three years, and then returned to Chicago. The Mechanical Bakery, in the meanwhile, having closed, Mr. Case started business on his own account, on April 26, 1869, at 37 N. Wood Street (1934W) at the corner of Lake Street in Chicago, with Stephen E. W. Martin, his present partner. The early venture of the Case brothers, and their subsequent connection with The Mechanical Bakery, had established a reputation for Connecticut pies, causing a demand which no one but the original founder could supply. When Mr. Case returned to Chicago, there was no exclusive pie bakery in the city; and pies with old established Connecticut flavor had disappeared altogether. The result was an immediate and prosperous business. Charles A. Case joined the Army during the Civil War, and died at Black River Bridge, Mississippi, in the summer of 1864. Charles Case was a member of the Western Avenue Baptist Church, which he served as Deacon for twelve years.

Stephen E. W. Martin was born in Sidney, Maine, on December 14, 1833. Martin came to Chicago in 1855 and obtained employment as a machinist with H. A. Pitts manufacturer of the Pitts threshing machine. Martin had served no previous apprenticeship to the trade, but his natural adaptability to mechanics enabled him to make himself very useful to Mr. Pitts, and he remained with him for eleven years. Mr. Martin married Miss Susan Lashore of Chicago in 1858.

At the end of that time, his health failed, and with his accumulated earnings, he started a fruit and vegetable stand at 37 N. Wood Street (1934W) at the corner of Lake Street in Chicago, about 1865, and after erecting his building, he found himself with but $1.50 to invest in stock. From so small a beginning he built up a prosperous trade in the incredibly short span of two years. He continued the business for three years, when he opened a grocery store, selling out his stock in 1869, to form a co-partnership with Elisha W. Case. 

Elmer Grant Case, son of Elisha W. Case, born in Wheatland, Iowa, came to Chicago as a boy. The Case & Martin Pie Company, one of the units merged into the $6 million Case-Moody Pie Corporation, was founded by his father in 1869. Case's personal fortune was estimated at $1 million (Today; $19,650,000) or more. He was three times married. His first wife divorced him in 1910 and the second wife died in 1929. I cover his third wife, Doris Case, later in this article.

The Case-Moody Pie Corporation was formed on June 28, 1929, by Elmer Case, and Charles Moody, who shared the role of Chief Executive Officer. Both men came from families that ran pie companies, so they knew pie. Case-Moody Pie Corporation was a very successful wholesale bakery for many years selling baked pastries, pies, and wedding cakes.
Case-Moody Wall/Counter Pie Safe






Prior to June 28, 1929, Elmer Case was president and principal stockholder of the Case Martin Pie Company. On that date, the company entered into an agreement with the Pellar Pie Company, Inc., Patterson Pure Food and Pie Company, and Moody Waters Pie Company whereby it was agreed that these corporations would consolidate under the name of Case-Moody Pie Corporation, which was organized under the laws of Illinois in order to carry on the consolidation as agreed.
Case-Moody Pie Tins


Case-Moody grew quickly at 1807 West Walnut Street on the Northside of Chicago and then they added a second factory at 3548 South Shields Avenue, which was next to Comiskey Park on the southside of Chicago. Case-Moody offered over 30 types of pie, each made fresh daily.

The company’s history, however, is a tale of misfortune including run-ins with the health department, law suites, bizarre fistfights, and suicide.
Elmer Grant Case
Trouble came to Case-Moody in 1934. Elmer Case committed suicide by shooting himself in the head in the basement of the Walnut Street factory. He left a note blaming labor costs but some sources say he had learned he was about to be fired. Case’s much-younger wife Doris, a former employee of Case-Moody, and a member of the board of directors was described as “comely” by the Chicago Tribune, shortly took Elmer's place.

Chicago Tribune, July 13, 1934
Elmer G. Case, Pie Company Head, Kills Self.
Elmer Grant Case, 69 years old, president of the Case-Moody Pie Corporation, shot and killed himself yesterday, July 12th afternoon in the basement of the corporation plant at 1807 Walnut Street. Awaiting him at the time in another part of the building where the company's directors, whom Case credited with the intention of taking his position from him.

When the veteran executive failed to appear for the scheduled meeting at 2 PM the directors waited an hour for him. Then, learning that Case had made his usual noon tour of the bakeries, which are among the largest of their kind in the country, the directors decided to search for him.

Find Body in Basement
Led by James Henderson, 3345 Kamerling avenue, they descended to the basement. The body, with a bullet wound in the left temple and a pistol beside it, lay in the corner. In one of the pockets of Case's coat were two letters, one addressed to the board of directors and the other to his wife and daughter, who resided with him in the Palmer House Hotel.

The first was full of expressions denoting that Case was deeply despondent over his personal financial affairs and his health. His strength and courage, he had written, had been heavily taxed in conducting the company. He added: "Now that I have given all that is in me, and the company has a bright future ahead for the first time in years, my services are no longer required."

The letter said that Case was "without funds," that he had expended much of his once ample fortune in protecting the company's interests, and ended by requesting that the board take care of his wife, Doris, and daughter. The second letter was filled with expressions of affection for Mrs. Case and his adopted daughter, Marguerita
Widow of Pie Company Head at Inquest. Mrs. Doris Case (right) testifies at hearing on suicide of Elmer G. Case. At left is Mrs. Case's daughter, Marguerite.
Faced Loss of Leadership
L.R. Tomlinson, secretary of the company and one of the directors, said that Case had had control of the corporate affairs through a voting trust that expired on June 30. He said it had been suggested that Case resign "because of his age." It was likely, Tomlinson admitted, that he would have been displaced later. No action toward his removal was contemplated yesterday, the secretary said.

Chicago Tribune, September 14, 1934.
Choose Widow of E.G.Case to Head Pie Firm.
Directors of the Case-Moody Pie Corporation yesterday elected Mrs. Doris A. Case president to succeed her husband, Elmer G. Case, who killed himself on July 12, of this year. Mrs. Case prior to the formation of the Case-Moody Pie Corp., in 1929 was for many years presidentof the Case & Martin Pie Company (Elmer Grant Case's father's organization), having been one of the city's pioneer pie makers.

Following Mrs. Case's election, the following statement was issued: "Mrs. Case, due to her capable business ability, has been a member of the board of directors of the corporation for several years and her broad knowledge of the pie baking business makes her well qualified to carry on this important work." L.R. Tomlinson will continue on as the corporate secretary.

The following year, Doris became embroiled in a property dispute over a flour mill she owned and was accused of assault and battery. In the incident.

Chicago Tribune, Friday, May 3, 1935
Beating for Case-Moody Key
Warrants for the arrest of John Case, nephew of the late Elmer G. Case, president of the Case-Moody Pie Corp., and one "John Doe," (Frank Tibbitts), sales manager for the pie corp., were issued yesterday by Municipal Judge Edgar A. Jonas in the Women's court.

The complainant is Frank M. Smith, 59 years old, of the Newberry hotel, 817 North Dearborn Street. He alleges that on April 25, Frank Tibbittss and Mrs. Doris Case, widow of Elmer Case. visited his room in search of a key. Failing to find the key, Smith charges, Case and Tibbits sat on Smith while Mrs. Case struck him.

Smith told Judge Jonas that the key was for a flour mill in Morris, Ill., owned by Mrs. Case, but on which Smith claims to hold an option. He is negotiating to sell the flour mill, he said.

The warrant for Mrs. Case was issued at the close of a hearing in which Case and Tibbitts were found guilty on similar charges and were placed on a year's probation. Previously Judge Jonas refused a warrant for Mrs. Case on the ground that she would not have been physically capable of injuring Smith. Mrs. Case was released in her own bond for a hearing on June 10. 

Case-Moody continued on under new leadership but ran into trouble again in the 1950s when the FDA charged that their products “contained insect and rodent filth.” After a merger with Sunkist, the company was bought by Mrs. Wagner’s Pies.

Simon and Garfunkel fans might remember the Mrs. Wagner Pies was named in the song “America.”
America, Simon and Garfunkel, [Verse 1]
Let us be lovers, we'll marry our fortunes together
I've got some real estate here in my bag
So we bought a pack of cigarettes and Mrs. Wagner's pies
And walked off to look for America
Case-Moody’s North Side factory was abandoned in the 1960s and later torn down, and the South Side factory burned down around the same time, which is now part of the U.S. Cellular Field parking lot.
August 2015 — Governor Bruce Rauner signed legislation, passed by the Illinois General Assembly, elevating Pumpkin Pie to the status of the "Official State Pie of Illinois." About 85% of consumed pumpkin in the U.S. comes from Illinois.
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

The Prehistoric Draper's Bluff Stone Fort, Union-Johnson County Line, Illinois.

The Stone Forts of Illinois.
One of the unique prehistoric phenomena of Southern Illinois is the ruins of stone walls which have traditionally been known as "stone forts." They appear in the rough east-west alignment across the hill country and appear to form a broken chain between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. These ruins have similar geographic site characteristics. They are generally located on bluffs, which are often finger-like promontories of land with steep cliffs on three sides and a gradual incline on the fourth. It was across these inclines leading to the top of the bluff that these stone walls are most generally located, hence the theory of a pound or game trap, has been advanced.

Many of the walls have long been torn down and removed for building purposes. Early settlers, in most instances, removed the better slab-like stones for building foundations, leaving only the rubble. These early white pioneers saw the walls and thought of them in terms of their own experiences, particularly from the standpoint of defense against the Indians. Though they called them stone forts, these sites would be very poor places to carry on prolonged fights.

If a small band took refuge behind the wall, they might be pushed over the cliff by a larger attacking force. Or a larger force could lay siege to the place, and the band would be cut off from both food and water and soon starve to death. Although they called them "forts," many people did not accept such a theory, and speculation continued.

Archaeologists believe that particularly in Ohio, the Hopewellian Indians probably were responsible for some of the walls, but the identity is not known. These walls represent a major accomplishment for a people who had only primitive digging implements and methods of carrying or moving heavy stones. These unknown builders piled rock completely across summits, leaving inside enclosures sometimes as large as 50 acres, depending upon the size of the bluff.
The Drapers Bluff Stone Fort in Southern Illinois lies between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.






Drapers Bluff


The most extensive of the prehistoric stone forts is that on Drapers Bluff on the Union-Johnson County line. This, by exact measurement, forms an enclosure of some 15 acres, is 120 feet high, still shows all the earmarks of the prehistoric man, the buffalo, etc. All of these forts are almost on a dead line east and west and on bluffs whose escarpments show that they were at one time the north bank of a mighty river, flowing from east to west. The breaks between Drapers and Turkey Bluff show very plainly where the mighty glacier broke through and piled its debris into the present-day Water Valley. 

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.