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Monday, November 11, 2019

Indian Trails - Green Bay Trail, aka "Old Jambeau Trail," Chicago, Illinois to Green Bay, Wisconsin.

In historical writing and analysis, PRESENTISM introduces present-day ideas and perspectives into depictions or interpretations of the past. Presentism is a form of cultural bias that creates a distorted understanding of the subject matter. Reading modern notions of morality into the past is committing the error of presentism. Historical accounts are written by people and can be slanted, so I try my hardest to present fact-based and well-researched articles.

Facts don't require one's approval or acceptance.

I present [PG-13] articles without regard to race, color, political party, or religious beliefs, including Atheism, national origin, citizenship status, gender, LGBTQ+ status, disability, military status, or educational level. What I present are facts — NOT Alternative Facts — about the subject. You won't find articles or readers' comments that spread rumors, lies, hateful statements, and people instigating arguments or fights.

When I write about the INDIGENOUS PEOPLE, I follow this historical terminology:
  • The use of old commonly used terms, disrespectful today, i.e., REDMAN or REDMEN, SAVAGES, and HALF-BREED are explained in this article.
Writing about AFRICAN-AMERICAN history, I follow these race terms:
  • "NEGRO" was the term used until the mid-1960s.
  • "BLACK" started being used in the mid-1960s.
  • "AFRICAN-AMERICAN" [Afro-American] began usage in the late 1980s.


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

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

The word "Mississippi" comes from the Ojibwe Indian Tribe (Algonquian language family) word "Messipi" or "misi-ziibi," which means "Great River" or "Gathering of Waters." French explorers, hearing the Ojibwe word for the river, recorded it in their own language with a similar pronunciation. The Potawatomi (Algonquian language family) pronounced "Mississippi" as the French said it, "Sinnissippi," which was given the meaning "Rocky Waters."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The hazards of such a journey were chiefly those incidents to the hardships and exposure of wilderness travel. Illustrative of these is the record of the first capital surgical operation ever performed at Chicago, the subject of which was an unfortunate Canadian half-breed who had frozen his feet while carrying the mail from Green Bay to this place. This was in 1832 and Dr. Elijah Harmon, who has been denominated the “Father of medicine" in Chicago, had but recently established himself in the old Kinzie house across the river from Fort Dearborn.
Jean Baptiste Pointe de Sable [1] built a cabin just north of the Chicago River near the mouth of Lake Michigan in 1779 (approximately where the Tribune Tower is today) where he established a trading post. Pointe de Sable sold his property to Jean Baptiste La Lime, who in turn sold it to William Burnett, John Kinzie's business partner. In 1804 Kinzie buys the house and property from Burnett and keeps the property until 1828. The house of Antoine Ouilmette is seen in the background.
Illustration from 1827.
To him the sufferer was brought and as Hyde tells the story "the doctor, assisted by his brother, tied the unfortunate man to a chair, applied a tourniquet to each lower extremity, and with the aid of the rusty instruments which he had transported on horseback through sun and shower from Detroit to Chicago, removed one entire foot and a large portion of the other. Needless to say, these were not the days of anesthetics, and the invective, in mingled French and English of the mail carrier's vocabulary, soon became audible to everyone in the vicinity of the stockade. 

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

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

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

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

The road from Chicago to Green Bay dates its beginning from an act of Congress approved June 15, 1832, for the establishment of a postal route between these points. Although it was marshy and nearly impassable for a horse and wagon. Locally the road, marked by trail trees [2], had what was known as a “wet” and “dry” route. The wet route ran along higher ground. The dry route ran closer to the lake near the present-day Sheridan Road.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[1] Jean Baptiste Pointe de Sable: "Pointe" is the proper French spelling, but the final 'e' is almost always dropped in documents. The 'du' of Pointe du Sable is a misnomer (a wrong or inaccurate name or designation). It's an American corruption of 'de' as pronounced in French. "Du Sable" first appears long after his death in 1818. I use the correct spelling in this article.

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

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The History of Clark Street in the Rogers Park Community of Chicago, Illinois.

Long before Illinois statehood, the glacial ridge that is now Clark Street was only seasonably navigable north of today's Peterson Avenue. The original inhabitants of this area that is now Rogers Park and West Ridge included: the Chickasaw tribe, the Dakota Sioux tribe, the Ho-Chunk tribe (Winnebago), the Miami tribe, the Shawnee tribe, and the Illinois tribe (Illiniwek).
The Illiniwek [aka Illini, and the Illinois (pronounced as plural: Illinois')], were a Confederacy of Indian tribes consisted of the Kaskaskia, Cahokia, Peoria, Tamaroa, Moingwena, Michigamea, Chepoussa, Chinkoa, Coiracoentanon, Espeminkia, Maroa, and Tapouara tribes that were all part of the Algonquin family.
The tribes used the higher glacial ridge, now Ridge Boulevard, for travel to and from their villages south of Chicago to hunting grounds in upper Minnesota and Wisconsin, called the Green Bay Trail, aka "Old Jambeau Trail,"  way before it was named Chicago Avenue.

The Treaty of St. Louis signed in 1816 between the United States and area tribes (Potawatomi, Ottawa, the Chippewa) involved the United States obtaining a 20-mile strip of land known as “The Indian Boundary” connecting Lake Michigan to the Illinois River.

Indian Boundary Park in Chicago's West Ridge Community is named after this event. The 1833 Treaty of Chicago following the 1832 Black Hawk War, evicted the Indian tribes from the area.
Map of the Rogers Park and West Ridge communities of Chicago showing Indian Boundary Road. - Interested in the 'LAKE' at Pratt and Kedzie?
Phillip Rogers began buying land from the government in the 1830s, and by the time of his death in 1856, Rogers owned 1,600 acres of government land, part of which formed the basis of Rogers Park. In the beginning, Clark Street, known then as Chicago Avenue, was a mere path connecting the growing settlement of Chicago to the cluster of Ridgevill farms and homes. The growth of the railroad and canals contributed to the development of Chicago and the surrounding communities.

In the mid-1850s, landowners sold right of way to the Chicago and Milwaukee Railroad, and shortly thereafter a commercial rail line was built, roughly paralleling what is now Clark Street. For its first 15 years of operation, there were no stations on this line in Rogers Park; but there are oral histories that state farmers on the Ridge had worked out a signal with the train engineers to create an informal stop for pickup and delivery of fresh produce and supplies to the Water Street Market (now Wacker Drive). Temperance would also define Rogers Park, as the 1853 charter for Northwestern University established a four-mile alcohol-free zone within the radius of the school. 
In 1869 a tollgate was installed at Rogers and Clark to profit from people traveling to Calvary Cemetery. 1884 Illustration. rpwrhs
With the railroad firmly in Rogers Park, around 1873 the Chicago and Milwaukee Railroad opened its Rogers Park station. An economic center emerged between Lunt and Greenleaf, extending to Clark Street, centered around the new stop on the Chicago and Northwest Rail Line near the location of the modern Metra station. By 1910 the tracks were elevated and a new station was built.

The early structures were wood frame with wooden sidewalks elevated above unpaved and often muddy streets. These were mostly two-story buildings with the storefronts on the bottom, with tenants or the store owners living above. The early businesses on Clark were catering to the new homeowners that were mainly white-collar workers commuting to downtown Chicago offices or railway workers.
Clark and Greenleaf, 1875. rpwrhs
The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 created a housing boom in Rogers Park, leading to denser settlement as well as an increase in economic activity. With a broader tax base and settlement, the Village of Rogers Park was formed in 1878. During this time the western portion of Rogers Park was still dominated by farmland while the eastern side was still undeveloped marsh.

In 1881, a three-story “brick building was erected on the southeast corner of Clark Street and Estes Avenue to serve as the Village Hall.” It also functioned as the police department, jail, and fire department. The first Rogers Park library was on Clark Street.

The oldest dairy that served Rogers Park existed between Rogers and Birchwood, east of Clark, founded by John Francis Ure in 1887 on his grandfather's, John Calder Ure's property. Ure obtained his milk supply from nearby Wilmette and eventually sold his business to the Bowman Dairy Company of Chicago in the early 1920s. 

John donated the right-of-way for Howard Avenue. Howard J. Ure was actually born John James Ure on January 13, 1896, at 5138 N. Clark Street (today, 7527 N. Clark Street). Howard, a banker, became a director of the Howard Avenue Trust and Savings Bank at the early age of 26. The Ure family had a heavy hand in developing the Howard Street district, which is named after Howard Ure (1896-1984) as is the Howard (Ure) Beach, Park.
The John Ure Dairy, 1914. rpwrhs
In 1888, the Weimeschkirch family opened a funeral home at 4861 N. Clark Street, (today, 7066-68 N. Clark Street). At some point, they Americanized their last name to Weimeskirch. They would be open for about 100 years serving the community with caskets and embalming, as well as a funeral hearse and ambulance needs. 
P. Weimeschkirch Undertaker at 4861 N. Clark Street, (today, 7066-68 N. Clark Street). rpwrhs
In 1891, Clark Street was finally paved between Devon and Chase. The 1893 World Columbia Exposition excited Rogers Park residents and some reported “growing support in favor of annexation,” thinking it would improve economic prospects. 
From the Evanston, Rogers Park and Wilmette Directory, 1892.
Weimeschirch funeral home closed in 1988. rpwrhs
In 1893 Rogers Park and the neighboring community of West Ridge were officially annexed to Chicago. The annexation improved infrastructure: streets were paved, gas and electric service were provided, and better sewers were installed, allowing the area east of the original Rogers Park subdivision to be drained and subdivided into parcels for development. Fire and Police services also improved.

A year after annexation into Chicago, Rogers Park had a major fire on August 8, 1894. At 9:30am an entire block of Rogers Park was wiped-out by fire. The Town Hall, Livery Stable, John Lindley's Store, Phillips Mill, Sharp Bros' Store, Drug Store, and Foote's Grocery, along with factories and dwellings, fourteen in all, while ten families were driven out homeless. 
As a product of the fire, stricter building codes were enforced and brick construction was mandated. The fire also illustrated a need to have a dependable water supply and better water infrastructure.  The rest of the decade was marked by a national economic depression; called "The Panic of 1893." In 1896, street light posts and fire hydrants were installed.

A 1901 business directory reflected “the addition of service providers to make goods needed by the new families, as well as support for the growing new housing market."

Residential housing begins to shift during this time from single-family to multi-unit dwellings as “the neighborhood’s suburban qualities faded.” Today you can still spot evidence of these important neighborhood buildings along Clark Street; they are still evolving to suit the community needs.
The Doland Block Building was built in 1900 at 7000 N. Clark Street. It was used as a Masonic Hall and was the original location of the Rogers Park Women’s Club. It became the first Rogers Park Library in 1905 when the Chicago Public Library took over and created a circulating library and deposit station.
By 1900 the population and commercial district were centered around the train station at Greenleaf and Clark.  By 1910 the railroad was elevated.
Railroad Station Greenleaf and Lunt, 1910. rpwrhs
Part of the population boom discussed during this period also had to do with the Northwestern Elevated Railroad (now-CTA Red Line) opening up a Howard Street Station in 1908. Development allowed for more people to easily commute downtown and helped make the far North Side a desirable place to live. The commercial areas near the station stops remain vital to the business community today as well.

Between the 1870s and 1930s local commercial district buildings were between two and three floors. Retail businesses would occupy commercial space on the ground floor while offices or apartments would be above. It was noted that “these buildings should be tightly spaced to maximize square footage. Quality materials and ornamentation were reserved for street elevations. The storefronts themselves were basically large panes of fixed glass supported by wood or metal mullions with a center-of-side entrance.

By 1920, the neighborhood had a population of 27,000 and was upper-middle class. Historians credit the 1920s period in Rogers Park for creating a building boom not matched for the next 80 years. The entertainment district developed on Howard Street around this time which became a hub of nightlife for the entire North Shore. Meanwhile, shops on Clark Street catered to residents, while also complementing the high-end entertainment and social needs of the area. Clark Street continued to be the main shopping district of Rogers Park. Moreover, it contained important institutions such as the police station, post office, and library. 

The Clark Devon Hardware at 6401 North Clark Street opened in 1924, the first of five Clark Street locations, by founder, William Walchak. The building had been at various times, a theater, a dance hall, an indoor soccer stadium, and a film production studio before it became a hardware store. The store moved from the corner to Clark and Wallen. From there it moved to 6339 North Clark Street. Then came the move to Clark and Highland, 6333 North Clark. In 1984, third-generation owners, Ken and Ed Walchak orchestrated the store’s move, back to the corner where it started and the store’s name once again matched its location and remains a local iconic store.
A 2-ton, lighted, stainless steel clock, added in 2012, on the building's southwest corner has already become a neighborhood icon.
The Rogers Park Chicago Library branch location was opened in 1917 at 6957 North Clark Street and lasted until 1922 when a more suitable location was built at 1731 West Greenleaf. The Greenleaf location would eventually be destroyed in a fire in 1951.
The Rogers Park Library at 6957 N. Clark Street. A Prudential Insurance office is on the second floor. rpwrhs
The number of people using public transportation through Clark Street remained a stabilizing force for local businesses. In 1910 the Chicago and North Western rail bed was elevated and a new station was built above street level.  This embankment cut off the retail activity on Market Street and divided Ravenswood into a light industrial area on the East and residential on the West. Another change to local transportation occurred in 1913 when the electric streetcars that ran along Clark were consolidated into the Chicago Surface Lanes.

The Devon Avenue car barn located at 6454-64 North Clark, was built in 1901 and housed the streetcars that cruised through Rogers Park. These streetcars housed the Clark #22, Broadway #36, and Western #49B lines. In 1922, a major fire devastated the building destroying a large part of the fleet. The facility was closed in 1957, and the site is now occupied by the 24th District Police Department. The Clark #22 bus is still an active line that connects Rogers Park to downtown Chicago.
Bus Barn, 6454-64 N. Clark Street, 1930. rpwrhs
As Rogers Park was growing into a wealthy community, residents had disposable income to spend on entertainment. While Howard Street was the official entertainment district, Clark Street had two movie houses. These were the Casino Theater 7053 North Clark, and the Adelphi Theater, 7074 North Clark at Estes. The Casino Theater (1915-1918), was the oldest motion picture theater in Rogers Park. Local historian Larry Shure mentions “for a small admission you could enter and stay as long as you like. A typical nickelodeon might show short features 16 hours a day, from 8 a.m. until midnight."

By 1918 the nickelodeon-type “Photo Play” was going out of style as real “Movie Palaces” started to appear. The death of the Casino Theater was the beginning of the construction of the luxurious  Adelphi Theater which was built at Estes and Clark in 1917, 14 years after the deadly Iroquois Theater fireThe original owners of the Adelphi theater were the Ascher Brothers who operated the theater between 1917-1927. A bowling alley would occupy the second floor from 1922-1927. The Adelphi would be torn down in 2006.
Adelphi Theater, 1917. rpwrhs
Adelphi Theater Interior, 1917. rpwrhs
Resident Edward Mogul reflected on the Adelphi Theater in the 1940s and 50s:
“I went to the Adelphi with my neighbors on a regular basis, usually arriving early on Saturday  morning. We would spend hours there watching thirty cartoons in a row and then Flash Gordon and Superman and we would come out of the theater with our eyes crossed.”
Chicago theaters designed by J. E. O. Pridmore (1867-1940):
  • National Theater (1904)
  • College Theater (1907)
  • Oak Theater (1910)
  • Columbia Theater (1911)
  • The Victoria Theater (1912)
  • Lexington Theatre (1912)
  • Empress Theater (1913)
  • Adelphi Theater (1917)
  • Sheridan Theatre (1927)
  • Nortown Theater (1931)
  • Evanston Theater (1937)
ADDITIONAL READING: Chicago's Rogers Park and West Ridge Communities Movie Theaters History.

Resident Edward Mogul reflected on the Adelphi Theater in the 1940s and 50s:
“I went to the Adelphi with my neighbors on a regular basis, usually arriving early on Saturday  morning. We would spend hours there watching thirty cartoons in a row and then Flash Gordon and Superman and we would come out of the theater with our eyes crossed.”
After the Second World War, a housing shortage created a residential building boom that wouldn’t taper off until the 1960s. This housing shortage was not only local — it was a part of a national trend that led to the rapid rise of suburbs. The white flight also resulted in many urban whites moving into the new suburban areas.

Rogers Park saw an influx of Russian and Eastern European immigrants which added to the local mix of stores and restaurants. By the 1960s Jews were the largest ethnic group in Rogers Park. Clark Street incorporated these new immigrants and remained an essential economic stretch of land. At the same time, redlining started to creep into the neighborhood, making bank financing inaccessible particularly for blacks.

The Romanian Kosher Sausage Company opened in 1957 at 7200 North Clark Street. Prior to its existence as a butcher shop, the location was an A&P grocery store. A&P started closing locations in the 1950s because they were failing to compete with the larger more modern supermarkets. 
Romanian Kosher Sausage opened when the Jewish population of Rogers Park was at its height. It remains a neighborhood icon today, serving the large Jewish population that resides in neighboring West Ridge,  Skokie, and surrounding suburbs.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.
Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society, Contributor.

Monday, November 18, 2019

An Examination of the Birth of Chicago.

In historical writing and analysis, PRESENTISM introduces present-day ideas and perspectives into depictions or interpretations of the past. Presentism is a form of cultural bias that creates a distorted understanding of the subject matter. Reading modern notions of morality into the past is committing the error of presentism. Historical accounts are written by people and can be slanted, so I try my hardest to present fact-based and well-researched articles.

Facts don't require one's approval or acceptance.

I present [PG-13] articles without regard to race, color, political party, or religious beliefs, including Atheism, national origin, citizenship status, gender, LGBTQ+ status, disability, military status, or educational level. What I present are facts — NOT Alternative Facts — about the subject. You won't find articles or readers' comments that spread rumors, lies, hateful statements, and people instigating arguments or fights.

When I write about the INDIGENOUS PEOPLE, I follow this historical terminology:
  • The use of old commonly used terms, disrespectful today, i.e., REDMAN or REDMEN, SAVAGES, and HALF-BREED are explained in this article.
Writing about AFRICAN-AMERICAN history, I follow these race terms:
  • "NEGRO" was the term used until the mid-1960s.
  • "BLACK" started being used in the mid-1960s.
  • "AFRICAN-AMERICAN" [Afro-American] began usage in the late 1980s.


The growth of modern (Chicagoua) Chicago since its first beginnings has resulted in much bewilderment over the decades. Seldom has a great city arisen amid natural surroundings more unpromising than those afforded by the site of primitive Chicago.

The sluggish river slipped into the lake over a sandbar that effectually blocked the vessel entrance, and nowhere within a hundred miles could shipping find shelter from the storms, which raged with peculiar violence at this end of Lake Michigan. A few miles to the west ran a continental watershed but only a few feet in depth. The river itself commonly ran with no perceptible current, and to the horizon limit, the landscape stretched in one monotonous level of flat uniformity. The prairie at certain seasons of the year was entrancing, but the melting snows of spring or heavy rain at any time transformed it into a vast, shallow lake, over which the canoe of the Indian or the occasional bateau of the fur-trader plied its way regardless of the course of the river.

The consequences of such an environment from the viewpoint of human occupation are sufficiently obvious. During much of the year, early Chicago presented all of the attributes of a first-class marsh. Nothing was done about drainage until the townsmen in 1858, by a magnificent exercise of willpower and energy, raised Chicago out of the mud from the morass it had been built up to its present level. As for highways, during the dry periods in summer, one might travel anywhere over the prairie sod, which afforded an excellent footing for horses. In spring and autumn, however, and after rain, at any time, the road quickly turned to a bottomless sea of mud, the despair of all who were compelled to traverse it. It's no wonder that pioneers were fond of recalling that they had come through Chicago on their journey west and that they "wouldn't take a quarter section there as a gift."

From his particular point of view, the pioneer farmer was correct in his judgment, yet a wider knowledge would have shown him that nature had marked the site of early Chicago as the spot where a great city should arise. Cities are the offspring of commerce, and they commonly develop at points on the highways of traffic where a break in transportation occurs. Even a slight familiarity with the physiography of the continent's interior, combined with a knowledge of the workings of economic law, would have sufficed to assure the observer of the future destiny of Chicago. How the matter presented itself to the minds of far-sighted contemporary observers is revealed in the story of Arthur Bronson and Charles Butler, who first visited the place in the summer of 1833.
Chicago in 1833
Bronson and Butler were two shrewd businessmen from New York whose attention had been directed to the Western country by the events of the Black Hawk War. They concluded to investigate the situation with a view to possible investments, and their attention was directed to Chicago by no less than General Winfield Scott [1], whose unhappy experiences there the preceding summer had not blinded him to the future promise of the place. On their arrival in August of 1833, they found a village of about two hundred people in the early flush of its first real boom, "infested" by thousands of Indians gathered for the impending council of peace with the Great Father (President of the United States). 

To the northeast lay the territory of Michigan, with a population of 20,000 souls, most of whom gathered near Detroit. The northern half of Indiana contained only a few scattered settlers, while between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi stretched a vast unoccupied expanse of land, covered with luxurious vegetation, beautiful to look at in its virgin State, and ready for the farmer's plow. "One could not fail," wrote Butler at a later time, "to be greatly impressed with this scene, so new and extraordinary, and to see there the potential of that future when these vast plains would be occupied and cultivated, yielding their abundant products of human food, and sustaining millions of population. Lake Michigan lay there, 420 miles in length, north to south. It was clear to my mind that the productions of that vast country lying west and Northwest of it on their way to the eastern market, the great Atlantic seaboard, would necessarily be tributary to Chicago, in the site of which even at this early day the experienced observer saw the possibility of a city destined from its position near the head of the lake and its great harbor formed by the river, to become the largest commercial emporium of the United States." 

The foresight of these men found an adequate reward, both of them reaping fortunes within a few years from their investments in Chicago real estate. Since the world had as yet no comprehension of the astonishing era of iron-horse (railroad) development that lay immediately at hand, this early forecast of Chicago's future was uninfluenced by any knowledge of the factor that has contributed most to the city's greatness. They were aware, however, of that other factor so potent in the upbuilding of Chicago, its location on nature's great central thoroughfare between the waters of the Great Lakes and those of the Mississippi River system.

Chicago's prosperity and possibilities of future growth have been conditioned by the character and extent of her highway systems at every period of her existence as a city. These have been threefold, comprising waterways, country thoroughfares, and railroads. The channels come first in point of time, if not of present importance, and some consideration of them necessarily enters into every discussion of the origin of Chicago.

Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that Chicago owes its very existence to its strategic location on one of North America's most critical water routes. It was no mere chance that led the first white man who ever explored the upper Mississippi Valley to the site of the future Chicago. In the primitive State of the country, the waterways possessed importance unknown to the present generation. The Chicago-Illinois River route constituted one of the natural thoroughfares leading from the St. Lawrence River system to the Mississippi, and the Chicago Portage was one of the five great "keys of the continent." So low is the continental divide at this point that in times of spring floods or heavy rains, it was frequently covered with water, and the Des Plaines River at such times discharged through the south branch of the Chicago River into Lake Michigan, as well as down its normal channel. This was rectified in 1887, a novel in human history, by reversing the flow of the Chicago River, thereby sending the city's sewage down the Illinois River instead of into Lake Michigan, where its water supply is drawn.

Under such physiographical conditions, it is not surprising that the first explorer who ever visited this region conceived the idea of connecting Lake Michigan with the navigable waters of the Illinois River. With statesmanly precision, Louis Jolliet, in 1673, called his government's attention to the advantages of cutting a canal across the Chicago Portage. His hasty tour of observation afforded him no adequate conception of the difficulty and magnitude of the improvement proposed. Still, his vision was transmitted to posterity and almost two centuries later found realization.

From the first entrance of the American government into the Northwest, its officials understood the strategic importance of the Chicago-Illinois waterway. When in 1794, Anthony Wayne broke the power of the northwestern tribesmen in the battle of Fallen Timbers, a portion of the price of victory extorted from them in the ensuing treaty of Greenville was the unrestricted use of this highway and the cession of reservations at Chicago, Peoria, and the mouth of the Illinois River on which forts might be erected to safeguard it.

A beginning was made to this end with Fort Dearborn's construction at the Chicago River's mouth in 1803. The purchase of Louisiana from France in the same year gave the Illinois River route added importance for the United States. Down it in the spring of 1805 came Colonel Kingsbury with a company of troops from distant Mackinac to establish Fort Bellefontaine opposite the mouth of the Illinois River, and Fort Dearborn thereupon became a link in a chain of outposts set to guard the frontier against Mackinac to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Illinois and Michigan Canal is peculiar among the improvements of this character. In the fact that during the early years of agitation of the project, no local constituency was concerned with it. On the contrary, it was visioned as a work of national interest and importance long before the territory of Illinois had acquired a corporate existence. The exertions made by General Wayne during Washington's administration to acquire control of the Illinois waterway have already been noted. Following the acquisition of Louisiana in 1803, the vision gradually dawned upon the country of connecting New York with New Orleans by one grand continuous internal waterway. To do this, the Hudson must be connected with Lake Erie and Lake Michigan with the Illinois River.

The commercial demand for such a work was slight. The disasters on land encountered in the War of 1812 served to emphasize anew the military importance of a safe and practicable highway from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River. In concluding treaties of peace with the Northwestern tribes at the close of the war with England, the opportunity was improved to secure for the United States a strip of land between Lake Michigan and the Illinois River through which the future canal must be built. Investigations of the route by army engineers quickly followed. In January of 1819, John C. Calhoun, as secretary of war, submitted a report to Congress urging the construction of a canal across the Chicago Portage.

Meanwhile, Illinois had been admitted to statehood in 1818. Contrary to the evident design of the framers of the Ordinance of 1787, its northern boundary had been advanced from the "southerly bend" of Lake Michigan to the line of 42° 30', with the avowed purpose of giving the new State a northern trend through the possession of a commercial outlet on Lake Michigan. Through this maneuver, local interest in forwarding the construction of the canal was created, and from this time forward until success crowned the enterprise thirty years later, local zeal and enthusiasm for the work took precedence over national interests. 
To the canal project, the birth of Chicago as a corporate entity was directly due. In 1827 Congress granted to the State the alternate sections of land in a five-mile strip along either side of the canal for the purpose of aiding its construction. After some delay, the state legislature in 1829 made provision for a canal commission of three members, with powers appropriate for the work in view. This commission proceeded to lay out the towns of Chicago and Ottawa at either end of the proposed route, and in the summer of 1830, the lots at Chicago were offered at auction to the public.

Under the sheltering walls of Fort Dearborn, a tiny settlement had gradually developed composed of civilian government employees, the families of discharged soldiers, and the establishments of the fur traders. Many of the settlers were Frenchmen who had taken married Indian wives or were themselves the offspring of such alliances on the part of an earlier generation. It is impossible to determine this civilian community's precise population at any given time, but its approximate size and importance are clear. As early as the spring of 1812, when the Indians murdered two of its members on the South Branch of the Chicago River, Captain Heald was able to enroll a force of "Chicago militia" fifteen in number from the residents of the settlement without the fort. A fate as tragic as any in our military annals shortly befell this pioneering body of Chicago's soldiery. Three of them deserted to the Indians, indicating their greater affiliation with that race by this act, while the loyal twelve remaining perished in the Fort Dearborn Massacre of August 15, 1812.

A new Fort Dearborn arose from the ashes of the old in the summer of 1816, and contemporaneously therewith, a second civilian settlement began to develop outside the fort. At the time of the Winnebago trouble in 1827, a second Chicago militia company was mustered, but its history, unlike that of its predecessor, is wholly comic. The fire that destroyed the Fort Dearborn barracks at this time is said by a contemporary to have been witnessed by about forty spectators; their number Included every person then present in the community. By 1830 the population was probably upwards of three or four scores (a score equals 20).

The habitations of the settlement had been built at the forks of the river and along the mainstream running eastward to the military reservation and into Lake Michigan. This territory was part of Section Nine of the United States land survey, one of the alternate sections that had fallen to the Canal Commission by a congressional grant. In modern terminology, this section extended from State Street West to Halsted and from Madison North to Chicago Avenue. On it, the surveyor employed by the commission, James Thompson, proceeded to lay out the town plat. Still, since considerably more than half of the section lies north of the river, he chose to play only that portion of it extending northward from Madison to Kinzie streets and westward from State to Des Plaines. Within this area of about three-eighths of a square mile, forty-eight blocks and fractional blocks were laid out on the familiar checkerboard plan with parallel streets running north and south and east and west, the only irregularities being such as were rendered unavoidable by the course of the river. East of the town plat, between State Street and the lake, south of the river, lay the Fort Dearborn reservation and north of it a fractional quarter-section which was entered the next year by Robert Kinzie on behalf of the heirs of his father, John Kinzie, the old Chicago trader. With the exception of Canal, Market, and Lake, and the several Water streets, the derivation of which is sufficiently obvious, Surveyor Thompson named his streets in honor of national or local characters. Washington, Randolph, Lake, South Water, Carroll, and Kinzie ran east and west. North and south streets were Dearborn, Clark, Market, East Water, West Water, Canal, Clinton, and Jefferson.
The survey was completed, and the town plat was filed for record on August 4, 1830, which may be taken as the first definite date in Chicago's corporate history. The public land sale held the following month developed only moderate enthusiasm on the part of bidders over the question of real estate values. For 126 lots, an average price of $35 was bid, while two eighty-acre tracts lying just beyond the limits of the town plat went for $1.25 ($59.50 today) an acre, and another similar tract for a few cents more. Many of the purchasers were residents of the place who were simply buying in their homes, which had been built on land to which they had no legal title. Aside from these, the purchasers, whether residents or outsiders, were evidently actuated by speculative considerations.

There is little to indicate that those most familiar with Chicago had any inkling of the revolution in real estate values that was soon to be witnessed here. A delightful story in this connection is preserved by Mrs. Juliette Augusta Magill Kinzie. [John H. Kinzie's wife]. A few months after the land sale of 1830, roused by such developments as had already taken place, Robert Allen Kinzie (1810-1873) journeyed to the land office at Palestine in Crawford County, Illinois. On behalf of the Kinzie family, they entered the fractional quarter-section lying north of the Chicago River and east of State Street, which included the old Kinzie home.
The Kinzie Mansion. The House in the background is that of Antoine Ouilmette. Illustration from 1827.

Successive owners and occupants of the Kinzie Mansion:
  • Jean Baptiste Pointe de Sable: circa 1796, fur trader/farmer. Moved from his 1790 farm on the Guarie River [1] (the north branch of the Chicago River). He departs Chicago in 1800.
  • Jean Baptiste La Lime: 1800-1803, owner {{a careful reading of the Pointe de Sable-La Lime sales contract indicates that William Burnett was not just signing as a witness, but also financed 100% of the transaction, therefore being the owner}}.
  • Dr. William C. Smith with Jean Baptiste La Lime: 1803. (Kinzie forced Métis[2] Jean La Lime to relinquish De Sable's large house, which he then occupied with his family. When La Lime protested the loss of his property, Kinzie first quarreled with the man and then killed La Lime.)
  • John Kinzie's Family: 1804-1828 (except during 1812-1816).
  • Widow Leigh & Mr. Des Pins: 1812-1816.
  • Anson Taylor: 1829-1831 (residence and store).
  • Dr. E.D. Harmon: 1831 (residence & medical practice).
  • Jonathan N. Bailey: 1831 (residence/post office).
  • Mark Noble, Sr.: 1831-1832.
  • Judge Richard Young: 1832 (circuit court sessions).
  • Unoccupied and decaying in 1832.
  • Nonexistent by 1835.
The tract, lying in the angle formed by the river and the lake, comprised but 102 acres instead of the full quarter-section which a claimant was entitled to enter. Kinzie, who might have entered 58 additional acres elsewhere, returned home without troubling himself to do so. On learning of this, his mother urged him to claim the cornfield at the river forks. Although Kinzie was a businessman, his response to her argument was a hearty laugh. "Hear mother," he said, "we have just got 102 acres, more than we should ever want or know what to do with, and now she would have me go and claim 58 acres more!"

The additional acreage was not claimed because, in the judgment of this man, who had spent his entire life at Chicago, it would be a mere waste of effort to do so. That he was not alone in his inability to see the future that Chicago held in-store may be seen from a comparison of the prices paid at the sale of 1830 for certain tracts of land with the value of the same tracts twenty-three years later. Thus, the eighty acres that Thomas Hartzell acquired for $124 in 1830 might have been sold for $800,000 in 1853. James Kinzie's (son of John Kinzie and his first wife Margaret McKenzie) eighty acres, purchased for $140, were valued at $600,000 at a later date. The lot for which William Jewett, in his excitement, parted with $21 at the land sale of 1830, if retained until 1853, would have netted him $17,000, while John H. Kinzie's (eldest son of John and Eleanor Kinzie) larger investment of $119 multiplied itself in the same period to $163,000.

These figures imply a great growth spurt in population and a corresponding increase in commercial importance. For the first few years, however, the growth was exceedingly slow, and the speculators of 1830 may well have bemoaned, during this period, their recklessness in parting with good money in return for titles to town lots in the wilderness.

The season of 1831 witnessed little outward change at Chicago, which continued to present the aspect of a village of log huts, with not a single frame structure in the place. Yet the season was marked by two occurrences significant to the trend of future events. Several settlers passed through the town, intent on finding homes in the valleys of the Des Plaines River and the DuPage River; Cook County was created by legislative enactment, and Chicago became the county seat.

The season of 1832 was in every way abnormal. With the spring came the panic occasioned by the incursion of Black Hawk's warriors into Illinois. Fort Dearborn had been without a garrison since May of 1831, but its walls afforded the only shelter available to the Des Plaines River and DuPage River settlers, and to Chicago, they fled in wildest terror. The normal population of perhaps 100 persons was quickly swelled to five times this number, and the confusion and crowding were intensified by the arrival of detachments of Michigan militia and regular soldiers. Housing accommodations were strained to the utmost in the effort to shelter the fugitives, and even the food supply soon became inadequate for the sustenance of the multitude that had so suddenly assembled.

In July of 1832 came General Winfield Scott, bringing several hundred soldiers from the East to the scene of the Indian War. With Scott came Asiatic cholera, and at the news of its approach, the Indian peril was forgotten. Townsmen and settlers alike took sudden flight before the dread presence, and overnight, as it were, Chicago was emptied of its civilian population. Only those remained who were compelled by the stern demands of duty. For weeks, the place was but a military lazaret (a building set apart for quarantine purposes) whose occupants were engaged in fighting the plague and giving hasty burials in the Cholera Cemetery, also known as the Lake and Wabash burial site to those who died from it. 

Before autumn, war and cholera had alike departed. The townsmen returned to their abandoned homes, and life at Chicago resumed once more. Meanwhile, far away from the tiny Fort Dearborn, community events had been prepared, which were shortly to terminate, rudely and forever, Chicago's long slumber. By Wilderness Trails and the National Road, settlers had been pouring over the mountains and down the Ohio River into the Lower West for a generation. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 afforded for the first time a practicable highway connecting the settled East with the Great Lakes. Along these trails, it streamed an ever-increasing number of settlers in the ensuing years, taking possession of western New York and northern Ohio and pouring on into the wilderness of southern Michigan and northern Indiana. 

For Chicago, the Indian War had two results exceeding the consequences. It brought about the extinction of the Indian title to the land between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi and the removal of the  Indians farther west. Of equal significance, perhaps, it caused hundreds of men to be taken upon an enforced excursion through the entrancing wilderness of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. We have already seen the effect produced upon their minds illustrated in the case of their commander, General Winfield Scott. They returned to their homes carrying marvelous tales of the country's surpassing beauty and of the wealth in forests, mill sites, and farms that awaited the coming of the settler. In hundreds of eastern communities, these reports were absorbed with the keenest interest, and the ambition was kindled in the breasts of the hearers to become sojourners in this new land of promise.

The first wave of the tide of migration into the new Northwest reached Chicago in the spring of 1833. Most of the home seekers passed through the place to find locations farther on. Some, however, attracted by the commercial promise of Chicago, ended their journey here. In either event, they made their contribution to the city's upbuilding, for its growth depended upon the development of its backcountry, and every homestead established in the wilderness west of Lake Michigan involved the addition of another source of tribute to Chicago's permanent prosperity.

At the beginning of 1833, the place was still a village of log huts, the only frame building being the warehouse of businessman George W. Dole, which had been erected the summer before. The season was one of feverish activity, however, and at its close, dozens of new frame buildings might be seen where but one had stood before. To be sure, they were of flimsy construction, hastily thrown together in the cheapest and rudest manner. Still, their presence afforded convincing evidence that a vigorous, throbbing life had replaced the laid-back atmosphere of old at the forks of the Chicago River. 

Building developments aside, the season was marked by two other occurrences of note. A canal implied a harbor for shipping at Chicago. Congress had long since lent its countenance to the canal project, but as yet, there was no harbor because of the sandbar blocking the mouth of the river. In March of 1833, Congress voted $25,000 ($656,350 today) for a harbor at Chicago, and on July 1st, construction began. The river was afforded a direct outlet to the lake by cutting a channel through the sandbar. The work by the army engineers was completed in the spring of 1834 by the Des Plaines River, which sent its spring flood down the Chicago River with such force as to dredge the channel deep enough to permit the entrance of the heaviest vessels. Piers to the north and south of the new river mouth, extending five hundred feet into the lake, completed the work of the engineers, and for the first time, shipping found a safe and adequate harbor at the south end of Lake Michigan.

The other event of importance in the expanding annals of Chicago was its incorporation as a town on August 12, 1833. At a preliminary election held on August 5th to elicit the will of the townsmen on the question, twelve votes had been cast in favor of the measure and only one in opposition. The negative vote was given by a man who lived down the South Branch, several miles away; on what theory he was permitted to participate in the election, contemporaries have neglected to enlighten us. Evidently, the result of the preliminary election was a foregone conclusion, over which the majority of the electorate abstained from wasting valuable time. Far different was it in the election for town trustees, held five days later. The entire electorate, twenty-eight in number, came to the polls, and thirteen of them consented to appear in the role of candidates for office. The state law required at least 150 persons to form a corporate town, and it seems evident from this first election that Chicago's population was dangerously close to the minimum. The arrivals of 1833, however, were probably not eligible to vote.

The council and treaty held with the Potawatomi in the early autumn, one of the most picturesque events in Chicago's annals, brought together, in addition to several thousand  Indians, a motley throng of white men, government officials, fur traders, claimants, speculators, and rogues of varying degree. In October, the sale at auction of the "school section," lying immediately south of the town plat and embracing the land between State and Halsted streets, extending southward from Madison to Roosevelt Road. This area embraces today the greater portion of Chicago's Loop. The intersection of State and Madison streets at its northeast corner is popularly supposed to be the busiest street corner on earth. The land had been subdivided into 144 blocks of approximately four acres each, and these were sold, mostly on credit, at an average price of $6.72 per acre. 

The per-acre price is said by one chronicler to have been "beyond expectations." Although the price paid marks a considerable advance over the $1.25 an acre paid at the land sale of 1830, it is evident that "expectations" were still far from extravagant with respect to Chicago's real estate values. The blocks of the school section were cut up into lots afforded, together with the canal lots in Section 9, the lots on which the speculative craze of 1835 and 1836 originally fed. As the mania grew, however, fresh "additions" were hastily platted and thrown on the market to feed the flame.

A professional economist's task is to expound upon the forces which lead men to embark upon an era of hopeful speculation with its inevitable aftermath of financial stagnation and despondency. Here, it will suffice to note that the middle 1830s saw the development of the wildest land craze the country has ever undergone. At the same time, 1837 ushered in perhaps its severest period of financial depression, commonly known as the Panic of 1837 [2].

At Chicago, the focal point of the Western migration, the speculative mania raged with a peculiar intensity. Throughout 1834, the tide of settlers thronged the town, and under this stimulating influence, signs of a real estate boom became evident. Confined within reasonable bounds, such a movement would have been justified by the substantial facts of the country's economic situation. But with the passing months, legitimate business transactions gave place to frenzied speculation for its own sake. Numerous tales of individual experiences have been handed down to us by contemporaries. Still, the underlying spirit of the time is perhaps best illustrated by the story, reported in the first issue of Milwaukee's first newspaper, of this conversation between two Chicagoans:
"I say," inquired one of the gentlemen, "what did you give for your portrait?" "Twenty-five dollars," was the reply, "and I have been offered fifty for it."
Nor was the speculative mania confined to Chicago real estate. All around the shores of Lake Michigan, on every inlet and creek, and for scores of miles inland, town sites were platted with enthusiastic zeal, and lots in them were bartered with eager abandon at ever-mounting prices. The pioneer historian of La Salle County relates that he set out some small apple trees on his farm and stuck a stake in the ground by each tree to mark the location. A passing stranger soon stopped to inquire about the name of the town he had laid out. On another occasion, he called at a log cabin where half a dozen farmers were assembled. They had evidently been engaged in high speculation throughout the day, for one of them, addressing the newcomer, said with a complacent slap of the thigh, "I have made $10,000 today, and I will make twice as much tomorrow." From further conversation, it developed that he had been the least successful in the entire company.

The pretentious scale of these paper towns may be illustrated in the case of Kankakee City, at the junction of the Des Plaines and Kankakee Rivers. In its prosperous days, this city never contained more than seventy inhabitants. Yet, its promoters had provided ten public squares, with parks and avenues enough to have a fair nucleus for another New York City. The plat, with its many "additions," covered 2,000 acres. In all the prominent centers of real estate speculation, highly ornamented engravings of this city, beautiful with magnificent buildings and busy with the traffic of capacious warehouses and crowded wharves, were on display.

When, in 1837, the bubble burst, it brought ruin to most of those who, for a season, had been reveling in paper fortunes. For many, this meant little loss of real wealth but merely a return to their previous status. An illustration may be seen in the case of John S. Wright, long a useful citizen of Chicago. He first landed here, a penniless boy of nearly seventeen in 1832. Four years later, still a minor, he was worth $200,000. The panic ensued. Wright was unable to meet his extended obligations, and he became penniless in 1832. Some, shrewder or more fortunate than the majority, turned their profits into cash in advance of the collapse. Thus, Arthur Bronson, of whose arrival to Chicago we have already discussed, in the autumn of 1834, bought a tract owned by Captain (afterward General) David Hunter for $20,000. In the spring of 1835, he resold it to his friend, Charles Butler, for $100,000. Butler caused the tract to be subdivided, and by offering it for sale within a month, the entire purchase price was realized from one-third of the lots.

Although the panic brought ruin to numerous individuals and stunted the growth of Chicago for a season, it was of no significance in the tale of the city's ultimate growth. The conditions determining growth cannot be better stated than in Charles Butler's account of the impressions he formed in 1833 concerning the city's destiny. With paper fortunes vanishing like the morning mist, men realized that something more than the art of the lithographer is requisite to the building of a city. After a season of stagnation, they focused anew on the task.

The span of Chicago's existence as a village was four years, from the summer of 1833 to the spring of 1837. In this period, the population increased from about 150 to 4,170. The village fathers entered upon their duties. One of their first public acts was the establishment of a free ferry across the river at Dearborn Street. A donation had been made by the State of certain lots in Section Nine to aid the new town, and a portion of these, set apart for a public square, still remains the seat of county and city government. On this square, the first prison, a log structure, was erected the first autumn, and on August 12, 1833, a code of ordinances for the government of the affairs of the town was adopted. The first financial obligation was incurred in October of 1834 when the sum of sixty dollars was borrowed to drain and otherwise improve State Street. In the autumn of 1836, under the influence of the expansive ideas of the period, a movement was begun to secure from the legislature a charter for a city. It was successful, and on March 4, 1837, the change to the new form of government was made. Although the population was little over 4,000, the corporate limits of the new city were drawn to embrace substantially all of the territories between Twenty-second Street (2200S) and North Avenue (1600N), extending westward from the lake to Wood Street (1800W), an area of ten square miles.

For three years after its incorporation, the city stagnated. Vivid are the recollections that contemporaries have put on record concerning this trying period. Of similar tenor is the evidence afforded by the census statistics of 1840. Only 300 residents had been added to the population in the three-year period. The city now resumed its onward march, and in 1843 the census revealed a population of 7,580, an increase in three years of 3,100, or almost 70%. Three more years saw the population of 1843 practically double, and in the ensuing four years, it doubled again. The census figure of 1850 was 28,269. By 1853, this figure had considerably more than doubled, the three-year increase amounting to 32,400. The next four years saw approximately the same increase, and by 1857, the closing year of the period under review, Chicago had become a city of 93,000 persons.

This figure does not seem particularly impressive in light of recent developments. Yet all human values are relative in their importance, and the significance of the achievement of these two decades in increasing twenty-threefold the population with which the city had started out in 1837 can scarcely be over-emphasized. Thereby, Chicago had become the giant of the Northwest and had stamped the country west of Lake Michigan with the seal of her commercial supremacy.

The explanation of this achievement is not obscure or difficult. Commerce is the lifeblood of an industrial city like Chicago, and the city's highways are the arterial system through which it circulates. Eastward from Chicago stretched the waters of Lake Michigan, affording nine months of the year a natural highway of unlimited capacity. Westward, in the beginning, the highways remained to be created, and it was apparent to all that the city's future depended upon her success in connecting with the backcountry. The work of establishing this connection was begun within a few months after the laying out of the townsite by Surveyor Thompson in 1830. It continued throughout the ensuing years until, in time, a series of radial highways stretched out from the city in all directions, connecting all points that lay within a practicable distance of Chicago. 

To trace in detail the evolution of these highways and describe the life that passed to and fro upon them is covered in my articles: The Green Bay Trail, aka "Old Jambeau Trail," and The Vincennes Trace.

The modern physician places a drop of blood under the microscope and, from the examination of it derives important information with respect to his patient's welfare. Along Chicago's historic highways pulsated the commerce of the time, and from an examination of this traffic, we may draw a remarkably vivid conception of the life of that bygone period. 

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

[1] In 1832, President Andrew Jackson ordered Winfield Scott to Illinois to take command of the Black Hawk War conflict. General Winfield Scott led 1,000 troops to Fort Armstrong to assist the U.S. Army garrison and militia volunteers stationed there. While General Scott's army was en route along the Great Lakes, his troops contracted Asiatic cholera before they left New York; it killed most of his 1,000 soldiers. Only 220 U.S. Army regulars from the original force marched from Fort Dearborn in Chicago to Rock Island, Illinois. Winfield Scott and his troops likely carried the highly contagious disease with them; soon after their arrival at Rock Island, a local cholera epidemic broke out among the whites and Indians around the area of Fort Armstrong. Cholera microbes were spread through sewer-type, contaminated water, which mixed with clean drinking water, brought on by poor sanitation practices of the day. Within eight days, 189 people died and were buried on the island. 

By the time Scott arrived in Illinois, the conflict had come to a close with the army's victory at the Battle of Bad Axe. Also known as the Bad Axe Massacre it was a battle between Sauk (Sac) and Meskwaki (Fox) Indians and United States Army regulars and militia that occurred on August 1st and 2nd of 1832. This final Black Hawk War battle occurred near present-day Victory, Wisconsin.

[2] The Panic of 1837 was a financial crisis or market correction built on a speculative fever in the United States. The end of the Second Bank of the United States had produced a period of runaway inflation. On May 10, 1837, in New York City, every bank began to accept payment only in specie (gold and silver coinage), forcing a dramatic, deflationary backlash. This was based on the assumption by the former president, Andrew Jackson, that the government was selling land for state banknotes of questionable value. The Panic was followed by a seven-year depression, with the failure of banks and then-record-high unemployment levels.