A series of early published maps of the Americas forms an integral part of this chronology. They were selected to show the advance of recorded geographic knowledge, beginning with the first fragmentary recognition by Abraham Ortelius in 1570 of the continental outlines, documenting the penetration of the interior by the early explorers through the gateway of the St. Lawrence River, showing for the first time all five Great Lakes on the map of Nicolas Sanson in 1650, and eventually recording a place called Chicagou in its now familiar position on the map of Guillaume Delisle in 1718.

13.8 billion

The universe is thought to have begun approximately 13.8 billion years ago, according to the Big Bang theory.

4.6 billion

The planet Earth forms.

3.5 billion-570 mill

Precambrian period. At its beginning, the earliest traces of life on Earth, blue-green algae, develop in the oceans; during its later stages, the Earth experiences its first glacial age (800-600 million years ago).

570-500 million

Cambrian period, during which a profusion of plants, sea shells, and trilobites thrives on the ocean floors.

500-440 million

Ordovician period, marked by the development of vertebrate fish. Toward the end of this period, marine or fresh water arthropods begin to colonize the land, the first multicellular animals to do so.

440-410 million

Silurian period. Plants appear on the dry lands. A warm, shallow sea covers what is now Chicagoland and beyond, the deposits of which harden into Niagara limestone, the bedrock that underlies Chicago. Though located at an average depth of 50 to 100 feet, the limestone does outcrop in multiple locations.

410-360 million

Devonian period, during which vertebrate animals (Amphibia) first develop legs and begin to colonize the land. The first insects appear, initially wingless.

360-320 million

Mississippian period, marked by an abundance of marine animals called crinoids.

320-290 million

Pennsylvanian period, which includes the second glacial age. Reptiles develop from amphibians.

290-245 million

Permian period. Reptiles dominate the lands.

245-210 million

Triassic period, marked by the development of both dinosaurs and mammals.

210-140 million

Jurassic period, when dinosaurs dominate and give rise to the first birds (Archaeopterix).

140-65 million

Cretaceous period, ending with a mass extinction of dinosaurs.

65 million

The Cenozoic era begins, during which time mammals diversify and establish dominance.

55 million

Gradual cooling begins (Cenozoic decline), associated with continental drift and the dissolution of Pangaea, the early single continent, first into Gondwanaland, and then into the continents known today.

10 million

Mountain glaciers appear in the Northern Hemisphere, marking the beginning of the third glacial age, which technically continues to the present time, although the Earth currently experiences a warm interglacial period.

4 million

The earliest hominids develop in Africa, south of the Sahara, and will remain restricted to this continent for the next three million years.

2.5 million

The genus Homo emerges with its initial species Homo habilis (`handy man`).

1.7 million

Homo erectus (`upright man`) appears in eastern Africa, the first hominid to devise complex tools and use fire.

1 million

Homo erectus begins its migration from Africa to Europe and Asia.


Homo sapiens (`wise man`) develops and gradually replaces all other ancestral species of man.


Start of a warming period for the Northern Hemisphere and Chicagoland that still continues. With temperatures rising, the Wisconsin glacier, which had covered Chicagoland completely, begins to retreat.


In full retreat, the Wisconsin glacier leaves behind early geographic features: the terminal (Valparaiso) moraine, trapping meltwater that forms Lake Chicago, and gravel and sand; a layer of impermeable clay that causes a high water table and swampland. Indian tribes, now well established in North and South America, are widely dispersed, resulting in a great diversity of languages and cultures; milder temperatures bring migrating Indians, who follow the large game from the central plains east across the Mississippi River and into the Chicago locale.


Lake Chicago overlays the area eventually covered by the City of Chicago [see entries on Lake Chicago in the Encyclopedic and Monument sections]. A near arctic climate prevails and coniferous forests slowly overrun the tundra. Musk ox, caribou, and moose are likely local inhabitants.


latest period of ice age of the Northern Hemisphere (glacial maximum at 18,000 years ago), causing the sea to drop by 500 feet – compared to the current level – with formation of a broad land bridge (paleocontinent of Beringia) between northeast Asia and Alaska. During this period, various groups of people appear in North and South America [see map]. In addition to traditionally recognized Siberians, ancestors of most Indians, the latest anthropological and genetic studies of human remains find strong affinities with Europe, southeast Asia, Australia, and Japan. They seem to have come in small groups, perhaps by sea as well as land; no evidence yet suggests migration away from the Americas. While archaeology confirms habitation as early as 12,500 years ago [Monte Verde site, Chile], later finds at the same site strongly suggest 33,000 years ago. More recently (Nov. 17, 2004), Dr. Albert Goodyear of the University of South Carolina announced that he has found pre-clovis stone tools in a 50,000 year old Pleistocene layer at the Topper site along the Savannah River in South Carolina. If confirmed, this would indicate arrival of humans on the American continents prior to the last ice age.
At approximately 4,000 B.C., the Inuit are the last to arrive.


Lake Chicago, larger and deeper than present-day Lake Michigan, overflows through the Des Plaines and Calumet Sag low areas. As the residual northern portion of the glacier gradually melts over the next 6,000 years, the waters find access to the St. Lawrence River in the north, causing successively lower lake levels (the Glenwood, Calumet, and Tolleston phases), defining shore ridges that will be recognizable throughout the 20th century by the course of the Indian trails they first determined.


Indian presence is established in southwestern Illinois at the Madoc Rock Shelter and elsewhere.


Blue Island, Stony Island, and Mount Forest [Argonne Forest] remain true islands in Lake Chicago; Indian occupation of the Illinois River valley begins.


Lake Chicago`s level temporarily drops to 480 feet. (The current level of Lake Michigan is 580 feet.) Lake Calumet forms from Calumet Bay, dries, then reforms as waters rise again. Local forests change from balsam fir and spruce to oak and hickory.

Anno Domini


The Indian Mississippi culture begins in the fertile flood plains of the Mississippi River valley, particularly near Cahokia, Illinois, where large mounds are constructed and where a community of 20,000 will florish until 1300.

The Norse again reach North America at Vinland, probably Newfoundland, from their colonies on Iceland and Greenland where they lived until the 15th century or later.


Marco Polo returns from his 25-year journey into China and writes his travel account, widely circulated in manuscript, a narrative which plays a major role in making this fabled exotic land of the Orient a place to dream of and to reach.


On April 17, Spain`s King Ferdinand agrees to finance Christopher Columbus` voyage to find the westward route to China. Columbus` first transatlantic expedition leaves the harbor of Palos, Spain, in three small caravels, weighing anchor on August 3. On October 12, Columbus sights one of the islands within the eastern Bahamas, an island he names San Salvador and where he lands, there claiming the territory for Castile (Spain) by raising the flag on October 12.


On November 3, Columbus lands at Dominica in the Lesser Antilles on his second expedition to the new world. After extensive exploration of many islands, large and small, he returns to Spain June 11, 1496.


On June 7, the Treaty of Tordesillas is signed by Castile (Spain) and Portugal, sanctioned by Pope Alexander VI, roughly establishing a meridian of longitude between Portugal and Castilian “Asia,” meaning the Americas. That these were new continents only gradually dawned on Europeans; the Magellan-Del Cano circumnavigation of 1519-22 finally confirmed speculation begun after Columbus` first voyage.


Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot), a naturalized Venetian in English service, reaches the North American mainland, probably northern Maine or Nova Scotia, on June 24, and claims the land for King Henry VII, conflicting with that of Spain [see 1494]. After this single landing he coasts northeasterly for a month and returns to Bristol. On a second voyage, in 1498, Cabot and his ship are lost at sea, but evidence points to a southeasterly passage as far as the Carribean and Cuba.


Amerigo Vespucci accompanies the Spanish conquistador Alonzo de Ojeda on an expedition to the New World. Vespucci`s recognition and description of South America as a continent will lead the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller to name the New World after him.


On September 29, Vasco Núñez de Balboa, Spanish conquistador, reaches the Pacific Ocean upon crossing the land bridge of Panama, and thus confirms the presence of another ocean between America and Asia.


Alonzo de Pineda, Spanish conquistador, explores the Gulf of Mexico and arrives at the mouth of the Mississippi River, but does not pursue the inlet. This large gateway to the North American continent remains unused by Europeans for nearly two more centuries.


On September 7, navigator Juan de Elcano returns to Spain, completing the first circumnavigation of the globe with an expedition that began under Ferdinand Magellan on September 20, 1520.


Waldseemüller’s globe of 1507 for the first time uses the word America, printed across the southern continent. He did not yet know the Central American land bridge to the northern continent. Waldseemüller believed that [see] Amerigo Vespuci had discovered the new continent, and named it after him. The image shows a portion of the gore he had prepared for his globe. [94]


Jacques Cartier, commissioned by King François I, explores the Gulf of St. Lawrence in search of the northwest passage to Cathay and its riches, beginning the process of French discovery that will in time reach Chicagou and beyond. On July 24, he claims for the king this undefined area, over the protest of the local Iroquois leader, Donnacona. By a ruse he kidnaps two of the latter`s sons and takes them back to France for training as interpreters. This treachery sows the first seeds of the growing Iroquois distrust of the French which will become burning hatred and destruction by the late 17th century.


Cartier, on his second voyage, explores the St. Lawrence from Quebec [kebec, meaning “narrows”] to Hochelaga [“beaver dam,” Montreal] with guidance from Donnacona`s sons and others; he learns of the Great Lakes to the West. Both great river entrances to North America, the Mississippi and the St. Lawrence, are now known to Europeans. He and his large crew overwinter, many dying of scurvy before he learns the cure, a vitamin-rich infusion of white cedar bark. The next May Cartier leaves for France with several Iroquois, now including Donnacona, who spins fabulous tales, mostly untrue, of the riches of Canada [kanata, “settlement”].


In this year Sebastian Münster prepared a wood engraving map of the New World, showing the St. Lawrence river inlet behind an early version of Newfoundland [named Corterati]. What is to become Canada is named Francisca in honor of French King Francis I. [94]


Cartier is now merely a subaltern of Jean-François de La Rocque de Roberval, who disastrously fails to comply with a royal commission as the king`s lieutenant-general to found a colony in Canada; the resulting disillusionment and failure to find riches causes France to ignore North America until the time of Champlain, just after 1600.


In this year Nicolas de Nicolai drafted Nouveau Monde, the navigational chart a part of which is here shown [Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris]. The chart incorporates many details of Cartier’s 1534-35 exploration of the St. Lawrence River and Gulf [upper third of image]. The land to the north he calls Labrador. [94]


On August 28 Phillip II, king of Spain, proclaims himself monarch of North America.


Abraham Ortelius publishes Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, the first modern atlas of the world that provides the most accurate depiction of settlement within the Americas. The northeast portion of this map exhibits the extensive geographic knowledge of the coastal region, but there is no hint yet of the Great Lakes of the interior. The mythical region of [see] Chilaga near the upper reaches of the St. Lawrence River is shown. The atlas will be continually revised and expanded well into the next century. [94]


Cornelis van Wytfliet published the first atlas with all its 19 double page maps devoted entirely to America, text in Latin, and titled Descriptiones Ptolomaicae augmentum. Subsequent editions appeared in 1598 and 1603, followed by editions with French text in 1605, [see Maps] 1607, and 1611, which were combined by the publisher with maps from India and Japan under the title Histoire universelledes Indes occidentales (et orientales). The map shown here is a cropped sample from the 1607 edition. The Great Lakes and the extensive upper reaches of the Mississippi were not yet known to van Wytfliet.


Samuel de Champlain, often regarded as the founder of Canada or Nouvelle Franse, begins his career of exploration and colonizing as a passenger on a voyage from France. First as cartographer, then as explorer, shrewd observer, visionary, and (from 1620 to 1636) de facto governor, his reports fill six volumes.


At a large Algonkin village called Stadacona, Samuel Champlain founds the city of Quebec; he discovers Lakes Ontario and Huron; of his maps, none earlier than that of 1612 has been found. His achievements secure Canada and its Indian trade for France.


James I of England grants to the Virginia Company of London an amended charter enlarging its boundaries “from sea to sea, west and northwest,” which becomes the basis for Virginia`s claims to western lands including Illinois, to 41° north, just above Peoria, which it will finally cede to the United States in 1784, as part of the settlement of debts arising out of the American Revolution.


Samuel de Champlain, as governor of Nouvelle Franse, begins to prepare maps documenting the new terrain he is exploring, the first to be published in Paris the following year. This map of 1612, based on his own explorations, is the first to indicate the existence of a chain of great lakes west of the upper St. Lawrence River [only the western half of the map is shown here; see next 1612 entry for the eastern half]. In the years to follow, his maps become more detailed and accurate. [94]


Samuel de Champlain`s map, eastern half.


The first mission among Indians in North America is established near Quebec in Huron territory by French Récollet priests.


Fathers Jean de Brébeuf and Anne de Noue establish the first Jesuit mission among the Huron near Georgian Bay, in Ontario where Récollet priests had earlier labored.


The Jesuit Relations, an annual report on the religious and political activities in Canada, is first published in Paris.


Charles Huault de Montmagny is appointed governor of Nouvelle Franse, the first to bear this title; he succeeds Champlain, the de facto governor since 1620. Montmagny`s name, meaning “great mountain,” is translated by the Iroquois as Onontio, the title given by all Indians to subsequent governors for more than a century.


Jean Nicollet, who lived and traded from 1618 to 1633 among various Indian groups in present Ontario to strengthen fur trade relationships, is sent by Champlain to visit Indians as far west as as the Baie des Puants (Green Bay); he is the first European known to have crossed upper Lake Michigan, searching for the ocean route to China as well. Nicollet ascends the Fox River but does not reach the portage to the Wisconsin River; he learns of the Iliniouek (Illinois) people to the south and returns to Quebec in the autumn of 1635.


The Mission de Sainte-Marie is established by Jesuit priests among Huron tribes near present-day Midland, Ontario. This is the first permanent fortified European mission on the Great Lakes; many more missions follow.


Montreal is founded under the name Ville-Marie at the location of Hochelaga [“beaver dam-at”], where for many years a settlement of some sort had been proposed. The village quickly becomes the hub of the fur trade.


The Iroquois, armed by and allied with the Dutch and English, are deadly rivals of the Huron, associates of the French for the fur trade; they now begin their systematic destruction of the Huron nation. This virtual genocide is completed by 1649, marked by the gruesome martyrdom of St. Jean Brebeuf, the great ethnographer of these people; the surviving Huron take refuge with various other peoples near Quebec.


The Iroquois begin to war against the Huron and their allies, the French.


Nicolas Sanson d`Abbeville, French cartographer, drew the first map of North America that shows all five Great Lakes in 1650 and had it printed in Paris in 1656. See excerpt here and in Maps section.


Médard Chouart Des Groseillers, enterprising trader and explorer, may be the first European to travel the western shore of Lake Michigan, presumably passing the site of Chicago; the exploration was probably inspired by Nicollet`s 1634-35 voyage and his own experiences in the Huron country since 1646.

This portion of Pierre Du Val`s 1655 map of America shows that all five Great Lakes are known, with the western shores of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan not yet delineated. Du Val, son-in-law of the cartographer Nicolas Sanson, borrows much from his famous teacher, but in this instance surpasses him in clarity of arrangement. Lake Huron is called Mer douce [“sweet sea”]; the other lakes are unnamed, although Sanson`s 1656 map will label Lakes Superior, Erie, and Ontario with the names used today, though Lake Michigan is still Lac de Puans. [94]


Louis XIV appoints Jean Baptiste Colbert as minister of the French colonies in North America. Marquis de Tracy is appointed governor and Jean Talon is appointed intendant of Canada, then with a population of 3,000 European civilians and 1,300 French officers and troops.


On April 23, English King Charles II grants Connecticut a charter that allows the extension of its western border to the “South Sea.” This will later become the basis for Connecticut`s claim to Illinois country, which it maintains until September 13, 1786.


Louis XIV, ending more than a century of Nouvelle France`s rule by a series of privately-owned companies, quasi-private rule, declares it a royal province and establishes a government system like that of the French provinces. There is a governor in charge of military and external affairs, Marquis Alexandre de Prouville de Tracy, and an intendent for internal administration, the great Jean Talon; they are key members of the Conseil Souverain, an executive- and legislative-like council and supreme judicial court. Nouvelle France`s population is approximately 2,000.


Minister Colbert sends the first breeding stock horses to the St. Lawrence River colonies. Jesuit Father Allouez founds the Mission de Saint-Espirit and begins missionary work among the Huron and Ottawa at Chequamegon [from Ojibwe zhaagawaamikaang, `place where the bottom of the water is oval`, from the verb zhaagawaamikaa, where the initial zhaagaw- means “oval, extended shape,” -aamik is “bottom of a body of water,” and -aa is the stative aspect marker.] Bay, Lake Superior [near present-day Ashland, Wisconsin]; he remains three years, until relieved by Father Marquette. [464c]


Father Allouez establishes the Mission de Saint-François-Xavier at Point Sable, Wisconsin, but within two years it is moved to present De Pere on the Fox River, a few miles above Green Bay.

Fathers Marquette and Allouez explore the entire shoreline of Lake Superior and create an invaluable manuscript map that, as an engraving, will be published in the Jesuit Relations · 1670-1671. [105aa]


Des Groseillers and his relative Pierre-Esprit Radisson, after suffering unfair treatment by Governor Jean de Lauson, participate in funding the English-financed Hudson`s Bay Company, beginning a series of events leading to the British conquest of 1763.


Fathers Dablon and Marquette found the Mission de Saint-Ignace on the north side of the strait of Mackinac. A small fortified and garrisoned trading post is established at the same location in order to control the Indian fur trade. The 1669 map of Lake Superior is published as an engraving in the Jesuit Relations · 1670-1671.

At Sault Ste. Marie, Simon François d`Aumont, Sieur de St. Lusson, takes possession of the entire interior of the North American continent for France, extending Nouvelle France.


In September, Intendant Talon and Governor Frontenac appoint Louis Jolliet and Father Jacques Marquette to explore westward in an effort to locate the rumored great river. On December 8, Jolliet arrives at the Mission de Saint-Ignace to inform Marquette of his appointment.

The Jesuit Relations, an annual report on the religious and political activities in Nouvelle France that had been published in Paris since 1632, is discontinued as a result of initial suppression of the Jesuits by French authorities.


On May 17, Louis Jolliet and Father Marquette begin their quest from the Mission de Saint-Ignace. They travel in two canoes and in the company of five donnés. After first heading south on Lake Michigan, they travel up the Fox River and portage to the Wisconsin River [Fox-Wisconsin Portage].

On June 17, they discover the Mississippi River by canoing down the Wisconsin River.

On June 25, they make contact with the Peoria-Illinois along the banks of the later state of Missouri.

On July 17, after reaching the Arkansas River and now aware of the Spanish at the lower Mississippi River, they return northward.

On August 25, they enter the Illinois River and find that the Illinois population is concentrated at Kaskaskia; the Indians befriended them, and Father Marquette promises to return.

In September 1673, Chicago`s recorded history begins. Louis Jolliet and Father Marquette portage to the Chicago River and discover the future site of Chicago; this is the first historically confirmed presence of Europeans at Chicago. During this portion of their journey, Jolliet conceives the idea that a canal between the Chicago River and the Des Plaines River can join the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River.

On September 30, Louis Jolliet and Father Marquette reach the Mission de Saint-François-Xavier at Green Bay.

Upon completion of the journey, Father Marquette prepares a map, that documents their exploration.


Jolliet reports the discoveries of his 1673 joint exploration with Father Marquette to Governor Frontenac, and presents him with a map of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basin. Unfortunately, the map was drawn from memory because the original was lost on his return trip to Quebec, in a canoe accident that nearly cost him his life.

On October 25, Father Marquette sets out from the Mission de Saint-François-Xavier on the Wisconsin-Fox River for his second trip to the Kaskaskia village on the Illinois River to establish a mission.

On December 4, Father Marquette arrives at Chicago again, in the company of donnés Pierre Porteret and Jacques Largillier. Early severe blizzards force the group to winter in an improvised cabin near the portage.


Father Marquette, ill from a gastrointestinal infection, is visited at the Chicago hut during the winter by Indians with whom he trades, and by the fur traders Pierre Moreau and The Surgeon [Jean Roussel], who advises the ailing father (Father Marquette`s Winter in Chicago · Richard Fayerweather Babcock, artist [285]).

On March 30, Father Marquette and his two companions leave their winter quarters and travel to Kaskaskia. On arrival during the Easter week, April 11-14, Father Marquette establishes the Mission de la Conception near Starved Rock, Illinois. Marquette`s illness worsening, his companions escort him during the last week of April back to Lake Michigan, then north along the lake`s eastern bank, heading for Saint-Ignace.

On May 18 or 19, Father Marquette dies and is buried near what will later be Ludington, Michigan.

Governor Frontenac grants René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, permission to explore the lands west and south of Lake Michigan and to claim them for the French Crown.


In April Father Claude Allouez, Father Marquette`s successor in the Illinois country, visits the Chicago area. He spends several days in a native village along the Des Plaines River, then moves on to the great village opposite Starved Rock, and carries on mission work with the Kaskaskia Illinois intermittently until 1687.


In late January, La Salle and Tonti build the short-lived Fort Crevecoeur at the lower end of Lake Peoria, the first such structure built by Europeans in the Illinois River valley.


Melchisédech Thévenot, Paris-based French scholar and chronicler of explorations in the New World, publishes the first map to mark the Jolliet-Marquette discoveries of 1673, and also the earliest to attach the name Michigan (Michigami) to one of the Great Lakes.


In January La Salle, with Tonti, Father Membré, the physician Jean Michel, and others, begins a Mississippi expedition from Chicago by way of the portage and the Illinois River. On February 5, the expedition enters the Mississippi, and on April 9, the men reach the Gulf of Mexico where La Salle stakes France`s claim to the entire Mississippi River valley, the province of Louisiane.


During the winter of 1682-83, La Salle`s engagé Antoine Brassard selects the site, probably at Hickory Creek near present New Lennox, Illinois, where André Eno (Hunault) and Jean Filatreau were briefly in a small shelter “at the portage of Chicagou,” enlarged in the spring and garrisoned by about 20 of La Salle`s men. This location fits La Salle`s notation in his letter of June 4, 1683, that it is 30 leagues (72 miles) from Fort St. Louis and is about 20 miles south of the main Chicagou portage des chênes, which La Salle disliked and avoided after his 1681-82 southward journey.

Tonti and crew build Fort St. Louis on Le Rocher [Starved Rock]; La Salle visits here and returns to his Chicagou fort, from which a portage route leads to the Calumet River system and Lake Michigan. La Salle writes three letters from this fort to the governor of Nouvelle France. Meanwhile, unknown to La Salle, the new Governor de La Barre, replacing his sponsor Frontenac, joins with Montreal merchants jealous of La Salle`s Illinois monopoly and sends troops and traders to take over Fort St. Louisunder joint command with the experienced Tonti. La Salle learns of this treachery en route to his Chicagou fort, for which he has requisitioned munitions and falconets (small cannons), but his pleas are ignored by de La Barre, who has trade plans of his own. La Salle abandons the Hickory Creek fort in September and, taking with him his Indian friends Ouiouilamet and Nanangouci, leaves for France to ask the king to oust de La Barre`s people from Illinois and back his expedition to colonize and secure the mouth of the Mississippi. De La Barre is silent partner of trading ventures with the Iroquois and even encouraged them to attack other French traders; this duplicity is the final detail which prompts his removal from office; Denonville replaces him.


La Salle`s colonizing expedition arrives at Matagorda Bay in Spanish Texas, which in no way resembles the mouth of the Mississippi. Through his blunders and the incompetence of others, his ships and most of the colony`s supplies and equipment are lost. He founds a short-lived colony, in which most of the inhabitants eventually die of sickness and attacks by Indians who are constanly lurking nearby. [One of La Salle`s lost ships, La Belle, has recently been found, raised, and preserved by marine archaeologists.]


La Salle gets royal authority and financing for a three-ship, 300-person expedition to establish a French colony on the mouth of the Mississippi. He is also granted a royal order returning his Louisiana interest. The flotilla finally sets sail on August 1 and, after a series of hardships largely caused by La Salle`s intransigence, sails past her destination, the mouth of the Mississippi.

Oliver Morel de la Durantaye, French commandant at Michilimackinac, comes south to Illinois with 60 of his men to assist Tonti, who commands at Fort St. Louis (Starved Rock), against Iroquois attacks. Durantaye builds a post or fort at Chicagou, and is there visited by Tonti the following year. Within less than a year, Durantaye returns to Michilimackinac, and the post likely becomes a depot (French Fort at Chicago, 1685 · Edgar Spier Cameron, artist [285]).


Jean-Baptiste Louis Franquelin, royal hydrographer, revises his 1684 map of North America, marking the Chicagou settlement on the west side of the south branch of the river, thereby putting Chicago on a map for the first time.

La Salle desparately, but unsuccessfully, tries to find the Mississippi by overland excursions and loses several of his best men during the effort; this produces lasting enmity towards him which leads to his assasination the next year by mutinous members of the expedition. Meanwhile Tonti, hearing at Fort St. Louis vague news of La Salle`s Texas difficulties, goes to the Gulf with 25 Frenchmen and 18 Indians, in an unsuccessful search east and west of the Mississippi, leaving a letter for La Salle with the Mongoulascha (La Salle`s Quinipissa) Indians near present Venice, Lousiana, which in 1699 will help convince d’Iberville that he has found the mouth of the Mississippi by ship (which he knows only under its local name, Malbanchya). On his return, Tonti passes through Chicagou just before the Iroquois raid it. [Tonti`s rescue mission, though unsuccessful, acquainted many of the French with the Mississippi and the Gulf coast and must have stimulated informal private travel in advance of official settlement beginning in 1699.]

About July 1, Iroquois destroy the French-Miami settlement and post at Chicagou, scattering its people.


After La Salle`s murder on March 19, six survivors of his expedition, including their leader Joutel, set off by land route from Texas for Canada to send rescuers to the dying colony, but it is destroyed, and most people, including Father Membré, will be killed by the local Indians. Joutel`s memoirs, published in French but not fully in English, are an essential record of this harrowing trip.

Joutel and his five companions [Père Anastase Douay, Abbé Jean Cavelier {La Salle`s brother}, Jean Baptiste Cavelier {no relation}, a pilot named Tessier, and a young Parisian named Bathelemy] reach Fort St. Louis on September 14, where they meet Father Allouez and Tonti, from whom, at Father Cavelier`s insistence, they conceal the death of La Salle. Joutel sketches the geography of the Chicagou area and the history of Allouez`s short-lived Chicagou settlement at the time Durantaye maintained a fort here, but not its destruction by Iroquois about July 1, 1686. He arranges for interpreter-guides to lead them to Chicagou, which they reach on September 25. Joutel learns that Chicagou is named for the local woodland wild garlic, Allium tricoccum, which he tastes and describes the following spring. After spending a week in the area, which Joutel describes minutely (including the site for the canal proposed by Jolliet), they set off up Lake Michigan`s western shore but Cavelier, with his hidden agenda, frightens them into returning to the reluctant hospitality of the now-crowded Fort St. Louis.

Governor Denonville organizes a massive French-Indian raid on the Seneca, in part as retaliation for Iroquois attacks on French traders and settlements, including the destruction of the Chicagou settlement, which presumably scattered Durantaye`s garrison as well as its French and Miami settlers. Denonville`s raid destroyed Iroquois crops and heightened their hostility toward the French. Tonti returns to Fort St. Louis from the Denonville raid and becomes well acquainted with Joutel, a retired fellow soldier. Joutel had unwisely invested, and ultimately loses, his life savings in La Salle`s chimerical scheme. Father Cavelier promises to reimburse Joutel but ignores him once they return to France. But Cavelier also loses his investment; his ploy to conceal his brother`s death and be paid from his bankrupt estate will be defeated when creditors finally learn the truth.


On March 29, Joutel and his party once again reach Chicago and remain until April 5. Joutel finalizes his research of the name Chicagou, en route to Canada and France, where they arrive too late to arrange rescue of La Salle`s Texas colony.

Franquelin prepares a new map of North America, prominently showing “Fort Checagou” and “Ft. Crevecoeur,” both of which were already destroyed at the time of publication, but evidence to the world of France`s occupation in support of her claim to Louisiana.

Vincenzo Maria Coronelli, the Venetian cartographer to Louis XIV, prepares a map and globes incorporating reports of Jolliet, Marquette, La Salle, Tonti, and others.


Miami settle at Chicago, locating their village on the main part of the river; a second settlement soon forms on the south branch. French traders, soldiers, and missionaries will follow shortly.


Baron Lahontan, a French officer and unreliable historian, travels in the Great Lakes region and later publishes a report in which he claims to have passed through the Chicago portage des chènes on April 24.

A Spanish party investigates reports of La Salle`s illegal Texas colony given by two survivors. The party finds the place in ruins, many unburied bodies, and the remains of Joutel`s vegetable garden.


Constantly lurking Iroquois raiders seen around Fort St. Louis prompt Tonti, with the advice of Indian leaders, to set up a new fort among eight Indian villages at the wide south end of Peoria Lake, on the Illinois River`s east bank. Tonti calls it Fort St. Louis de Pimiteoui (or Pimiteewi), meaning “place of fat game,” from the multitude of animals drawn to the pastures and shallow waters along the beach in front of the fort. De Liette, Tonti`s cousin, describes in his writings the game of lacrosse played by the Indians on the extensive meadow behind these villages. The elevated location of the fort commands river traffic through the outlet of the lake, and is used for successive forts until 1763, when the last French garrison was withdrawn; its charred ruins were well known 10 and more years after that. The United States built Fort Clark opposite this site, on the west bank, in 1813, in the middle of a French village begun by Jean Baptiste Maillet about 1790.


Lt. Nicolas d’Aillebout, Sieur de Mantet is dispatched by Governor Frontenac [whom the King had reappointed for a second term, following Denonville] to the Chicagoland area to set up a fort and deal with Indian troubles. He builds and commands the fort which is shown on the map he and Louvigny, former commandant at Michilimackinac, draw in 1697, on which it is called fort des françois et 8iatanons [8iatanon, or Ouiatanon, an early name for Wea, a subtribe of the Miami].

In April, Pierre You de la D`couverte, one of La Salle’s men on the 1682 trip to the mouth of the Mississippi, is married at Chicagou to an Indian woman, Chicago’s first recorded marriage.

Also that month, La Forêt sells half of his share in the Illinois colony’s exclusive trading rights to Michel Accault at “Checagou,” payment to be made there in August, making it Chicago’s first recorded business transaction and the potentially largest of all time — one-quarter of Illinois’ trade.


The Jesuit Mission de l’Ange Guardien is established at Chicagou by Father Pierre François Pinet, probably on the present site of the Merchandise Mart. Two Miami villages exist nearby.

During his time at the Chicagou mission Father Pinet begins to write a French/Miami-Illinois dictionary that is to survive over 300 years.

A glut of furs prompts Louis XIV to suspend the fur trade and withdraw the garrisons of the Great Lakes posts, including Mantet’s at Chicagou; Tonti is exempted from this order.


Louis de la Porte de Louvigny drew a map of the Mississippi River [see Maps section and entry on Louvigny for further detail]; seen here is the Illinois River and Lake Michigan detail of this map.

Tonti, Michel Accault, and François de La Forêt receive permission from Governor Frontenac to establish a fortified trading post at Chicagou that is managed by Pierre de Liette, Tonti’s cousin, and lasts until c.1705.

Probably in this year Antoine Laumet, who had acquired the title of nobility “Antoine de la Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac” under questionable circumstances, then commandant at Michilimackinac, visited the Great Lakes posts, including Chicagou, “on the Garlic River” with the Miami village, and writes a report of his findings.

The Mission de l’Ange Gardien is closed for one year by order of anti-Jesuit Governor Frontenac.

Pierre Le Moyne, Seigneur d`Iberville, an explorer, fierce soldier, and Indian diplomat, is selected by Pontchartrain, minister of marine, to find the mouth of the Mississippi and secure the river and Louisiana against Spanish and English incursions.


D`Iberville’s expedition to the Gulf of Mexico is outfitted at Brest, France. In aid of his search, he had interviewed experienced travelers, including Joutel, who declined to join him; he also has many Spanish navigational charts and aids, and he reads or takes along the mostly inaccurate reports of Hennepin and others as well as knowledge gathered by La Salle and Tonti. The Spanish, apprehensive of d`Iberville’s mission, hasten to strengthen Pensacola Bay and prevent him from landing there. Ironically, when d`Iberville arrives in 1699, the ill-supplied Spaniards, many of them convicts, must beg food from the better provisioned French.

The Mission de l’Ange Gardien at Chicagou is reopened. Governor Frontenac, protector of La Salle and Tonti, and silent partner of many trade enterprises, dies.


On New Year’s Eve 1698, Pierre Le Moyne, Seigneur d`Iberville, on orders of King Louis XIV, sets sail from St. Domingue (Haiti) determined to find the mouth of the Mississippi [which La Salle had discovered traveling downstream in 1682 but could not find by sea in 1684] and establish French control of the water route between Nouvelle France (Canada) and Louisiane by building a fort on or near the Gulf of Mexico; he begins his methodical search at Choctawhatchee [hatchee, meaning ‘stream’] bay in late January and on March 2 finds the three mouths of the locally named Malbanchya river, which La Salle had described under its upriver name, Mississippi, when claiming Louisiane for France in 1682. For three more weeks he explores the river to Baton Rouge and beyond, and interviews Indians, some of whom remembered La Salle and Tonti. A 1686 letter, written by Tonti to La Salle, is retrieved from the local Mongoulascha (La Salle’s Quinipissa) Indians, which clinches d’Iberville’s identification of the Malbanchya (its Choctaw name) as the Mississippi. Now convinced that he has found his objective, he returns to his anchorage at Ship Island opposite present Biloxi, Mississippi, and establishes Fort Maurepas (commonly called Fort Biloxi) at present Ocean Springs, Mississippi. This first French habitation in Louisiane is a military base, not a settlement, and its garrison of 80 soldiers under sub-Lieutenant M. de Sauvole, plus a few civilian officials with their families, is in place by May 2 when d`Iberville leaves for France. It is in effect the capital of Louisiane until abandoned for Fort Louis on Mobile Bay in April 1702, where a civilian village is soon established.

In March, the Mission de Sainte Famille de Caoquias (later also called Mission de Saint-Sulpice) is established by Father Pinet at Cahokia.

On October 21, Abbé St. Cosme, en route from Quebec to the Illinois River for the purpose of planning further missionary work among the Indians, visits the Chicagoua Mission de l’Ange Gardien under Fathers Pinet and Bineteau. With him are Rev. de Montigny and Abbé Davion, with Tonti as their guide. The party stays until October 24 and visits again on its return trip to Canada during the Easter week of 1700. In his report, Abbé St. Cosme mentions two large Miami villages near the mission house.


In February, alarmed by English exploration and trade on the Mississippi, d’Iberville builds and garrisons Fort Mississippi [also called Fort La Boulaye], near present Phoenix, Louisiana, below New Orleans. M. de Sauvolle, commandant at Fort Maurepas, has written to the Illinois country to invite workers to the coast, and in February several come from Fort St. Louis de Pimiteouiand Cahokia bearing furs they sell to d’Iberville, who sells them at New York on his way back to France. Thus is begun the major trade route down river from Illinois to lower Louisiane and New Orleans, first for furs and ultimately for food. Canada and Louisiane are now linked, as Jolliet and La Salle had envisioned, forming a major element of French strategy and potential containment of English expansion.

In early September, Father Jacques Gravier visits the Mission de l’Ange Gardien while on a trip to the Mississippi River by way of the Chicago portage.

By this time an estimated 16,000 French people live in the huge portion of North America then claimed by France. The territory extends from the arctic tundra south to New Orleans and the Appalachian Mountains, from the Rockies east to the Atlantic Coast, past New England. Quebec, the capital of Nouvelle France, had been founded in 1608. Reports by early visitors, such as Father St. Cosme, suggest that a few Frenchmen with Indian wives already live at Chicago in 1700; their names, however, are unrecorded.


Antoine Laumet, the self-styled Cadillac, persuades the king to let him establish Detroit and Fort Pontchartrain and abandon Michilimackinac, where he had commanded. He also forces the Jesuits, whom he dislikes, to abandon their mission there; the autocratic Laumet is essentially a dictator and rules with an iron hand. Many French settlers are induced to come; Laumet forces many Indians to leave their homes and move to Detroit, which intensifies a long period of inter-tribal conflict, especially the Fox wars, and assured that the Fox would be permanent enemies of the French. Henri Tonti’s brother Alphonse commands the garrison.

At this time Chicagou is merely a trading post with a few French habitants; as the Fox wars begin, the Illinois River route becomes hazardous even for the French traders, who increasingly favor the Maumee-Wabash-Ohio river route to the Illinois country, ultimately to be secured by posts at Les Miamis (Fort Wayne), Ouiatanon (Lafayette), and Vincennes, all in present Indiana; Chicagou village becomes intermittently deserted. These wars last until 1740, and control of the portage will remain in the hands of often hostile Indians until the Treaty of Greenville in 1795.


Guillaume Delisle, royal cartographer to Louis XIV, completes his map of North and Central America and the Caribbean, incorporating all documented reports of travelers to date.


Joseph Kellogg of Deerfield, Massachusetts, captured there at age 13 by Indians in a 1704 raid and abducted to Caughnouaga, Quebec, has learned Indian ways and joins six French voyageurs on a trading trip to the Mississippi. They spend the winter at Michilimackinac. In the spring of 1711, they pass through “Chigaquea,” finding no settlers, then down the Illinois River to Cahokia and Kaskaskia, French villages which he later describes, and to the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi, whence they return to Canada. Kellogg is the first Englishman known to have visited Chicago.


French soldiers establish a fortified post and trade center at Michilimackinac [later Mackinaw City] on the southern coast of the strait of Mackinac. This French outpost will flourish until 1760; in 1761 British troops will take over the fort.

In November the acting governor of Nouvelle France, Claude de Ramezay, and Intendant Begon recommend that a fort be built at Chicago to facilitate access to the Illinois country. The recommendation is not acted upon.


John Melish of Philadolphia published in 1816 the first wall map of the entire United States with the Contiguous British & Spanish Possessions [shown here is the Chicago area detail of the 1820 edition of this map].


On September 27, most of Illinois country becomes a district of the French province of Louisiane. Illinois country is now ruled by the governor at New Orleans, who appoints all officials of the military-style Illinois government at Fort de Chartres. The boundaries of Louisiane are never clearly defined, but the northern line runs north of Peoria and Ouiatanon; Chicagou remains part of Nouvelle France.


In January, John Law’s Compagnie des Indes receives from the French Crown exclusive rights to organize, import slaves into, and commercially exploit Louisiane, of which southern Illinois is then the northernmost portion.

In June, Guillaume Delisle’s map of Louisiane and the Mississippi River basin notes the location of Chicagou and accurately traces its river’s course.

James Logan, British agent from Pennsylvania who surveys French routes in the West, reports coming through Chicago where he finds only ruins of a “fort” [possibly de Liette’s trading post, abandoned by 1705].


In November, the Virginia legislature creates the county of Augusta, which technically includes the Illinois country.


On his 1744 map of the Great Lakes, of which a Chicago area detail is presented here, Jacques Nicolas Bellin shows a portage between the north branch of the Chicago River and the Des Plaines River. Two such portages are known to have existed [see Portage in Encyclopedia section], although the major Chicago portage connected the south branch with the Des Plaines River.


In early October, Louis Amiot is born along the Des Plaines River near Chicago and is baptized at Mackinac the following June.


Beginning of the French and Indian War.


Englishman John Mitchell produces a map of the British and French Dominions in North America that provides the most up-to-date information of its time, becoming the standard for the last half of the 18th century.


In July, Fort Niagara falls to the British, marking the end of French dominance on the Great Lakes.

On September 18, the French surrender Quebec to the British and on November 29, Detroit. The French era in Chicago officially ends, but most French settlers remain and French influence lingers.


In November an expedition under Capt. Henry Balfour, Eightieth Regiment, comes through the Chicago region, mapping Lake Michigan’s coastline as part of the effort to incorporate the previously French territory into the British empire.

Also in this year, British Lt. Dietrich Brehm maps the “Chigago” locale. An excerpt of his map shows the “Chigago River and village,” and portrays with fair accuracy the portage, Mud Lake, and the Des Plaines and Illinois rivers.

The British reestablish Fort St. Joseph, abandoned by the French in the previous year, and establish a naval shipyard on the Niagara River.


Thomas Hutchins, British cartographer and captain of engineers, traverses the extensive terrain of the Great Lakes region from 1762 to 1769 to prepare maps of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina and Illinois that included a map of what became known as the American Bottom [see here], and an early map of the “Chikago” region, noting an Indian village and fort at the entrance of the unnamed river [see Hutchins, Thomas, in the Encyclopedia section; both maps to be printed in London, 1778].


On February 10, the Treaty of Paris is signed. Great Britain has won the French and Indian War, and France renounces all North American mainland east of the Mississippi River, excluding the New Orleans area. Canada comes under the British crown and with it, Chicagoland. However, the French will continue to govern the district north of the Ohio River until 1765, when the British take over.

Spain acquires the territory of Louisiane from the French and holds the land until 1802, when Napoleon regains the province in a secret treaty.


The English take possession of Illinois and the Great Lakes region; Chicago comes under English rule although its people are still French.


Pontiac is murdered by a Peoria Indian in front of the Brynton, Wharton & Morgan store at Cahokia. Contrary to legend, there is no record that this provoked massive retaliation against the Illinois Indians; the 1723 seige which gave Starved Rock its name was an episode in the Fox wars.


A tornado strikes near the Chicago Portage, uprooting trees and crosses Lake Michigan to destroy a swath of trees two arpents(384 feet) wide at the Rivière du Chemin (site of Michigan City). At the mouth of the Chicago River are a few minor unnamed French traders and a small village of Mascouten.


On November 26, the Roman Catholic Jesuit order is officially suppressed in France, although its missionary activity in North America will continue until the end of the century.


On March 5, Spain takes possession of New Orleans from the French.


The British establish a shipyard and headquarters at Detroit, enabling them to effectively dominate the upper lakes for years to come, even after they lose the Revolutionary War.


William Murray, of Kaskaskia, forms the Illinois Land Company, which acquires from the Indians two very large tracts of land in exchange for trade goods; one of the tracts includes the present site of the city of Chicago. The deed will later be reversed by Congress, making land purchases from the Indians by private individuals illegal.

Patrick Kennedy, a Kaskaskian trader, ascends the Illinois River and observes the ruins of the French fort at Peoria; he finds no French people in the village. His description is important, because it refutes the legend, later fabricated by land speculators around 1801, that Jean Baptiste Maillet, militia commander at Peoria, granted land there to Jean Baptiste Point de Sable in 1773


On April 19, the American Revolutionary War against the British begins at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts.


On December 9, Virginia claims a corridor of western lands to the Mississippi River, including Illinois country, which becomes its “County of Illinois.”

In this year or earlier, a French trader named Guillory from Mackinac establishes a trading post on the west bank of the north branch of the Chicago River, at the Forks. English occupation of Montreal severely reduces trade via the Great Lakes, and in 1778 and 1779, the Potawatomi and Guillory may be the sole inhabitants of Chicagou.

The armed British sloop, Archangel, is the first modern ship of record to enter Lake Michigan since the loss of Le Griffon in 1679.


In January, the remnants of Fort St. Joseph are captured by a band of 65 men and some 200 Indians under the leadership of Don Eugenio Pourre and briefly occupied in the name of the King of Spain.

On October 19, the British Gen. Lord Cornwallis surrenders to Gen. George Washington after the Battle of Yorktown.

This year, and again in 1783, British licenses are issued at Montreal for traders going to the Grand Calumet River at the south end of Lake Michigan. These are the only such licenses for any place near Chicago since about 1700. In fact, there is no record of any licensed trade to Chicago except a 1770 scouting mission by French trader Jean Orillat and voyageurs which carried no trade goods.


On September 3, America and Britain sign the definitive peace articles in Paris, ending the Revolutionary War. Britain’s claim to the Illinois country is thus terminated, and the land becames part of the United States.


On June 7 Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, proposes to the Continental Congress a resolution calling for a declaration of independence from Britain.

On July 4, the Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence. Chicago becomes American.

There are still a few French at Chicagou as evidenced by a French-language pass issued on July 4 by George Morgan, colonial Indian agent at Pittsburgh, promising safe conduct to its inhabitants and those of Illinois (Kaskaskia and Cahokia) who wish to apply.


On October 3, the British sloop, Felicity, sails past Chicago in an effort to keep supplies from rebellious American colonists along the shoreline of Lake Michigan.


Jean Baptiste Gaffé of Cahokia sends boats with trade goods to Chicagou to establish a trading post where none had been since about 1778. De Peyster, British commander at Detroit, sends a party to evict Gaffé but results are not recorded. As recently as 1779, French traders occasionally visited Chicagou but did not live there.


Virginia cedes her claimed western territory, including Illinois [see 1609], to the United States as part of the settlement for her debts incurred during the Revolution; the deed of cession reserves the right of French and other settlers to their “titles and possessions,” which were never clearly defined.

Notwithstanding the 1783 Treaty of Paris, British officials in Canada develop clandestine strategies to keep the United States out of what will soon become the Northwest Territory, Illinois included. Designed to control the Indians and the fur trade, the principal element of the Canadian economy, these plans include placement of secret Indian agents at important locations and the [unrealized] creation of an Indian “buffer state.”


The Illinois and Chicagou rivers have become safe for trade and travel; Peoria settlers and traders, who had fled to Cahokia or Vincennes during the Revolution, have returned, and perhaps in this year [possibly as early as 1784, but certainly no later than 1788] Jean Baptiste Point de Sable, the founder of modern Chicago, moves there from near Detroit. Illinois country is not yet sufficiently organized by United States authorities to block or expel a known agent of the British Indian Department.


On September 3, Connecticut surrenders to the United States its claim to western lands, including Illinois country and Chicago [see 1662].


On August 7, Congress establishes the Department of War and Indian Administration, and Henry Knox becomes the first secretary. Congressional policy is set forward in Article 3 of the act, part of which reads as follows: “The utmost good faith shall always be observed toward the Indians; their land and their property shall never be taken from them without their consent, and their property, rights and liberty shall never be invaded or disturbed, unless in just and lawful wars authorized by Congress, but laws founded in justice and humanity shall from time to time be made, for preventing wrongs being done to them, and for preserving peace and friendship with them.”


On July 13, under President Washington, the U.S. Congress unanimously passes an ordinance creating the “North West Territory” out of all United States territorial possessions northwest of the Ohio River, including Illinois country. The same ordinance provides for a governor of said territory, for a system of representation in Congress “as soon as there shall be five thousand free male inhabitants, of full age,” and further provides for the elimination of slavery within the territory, a provision that will not be enforced for decades to come. These territories are to be admitted in due time to the Union “on an equal footing with the original states.” The North West Territory eventually becomes Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota.

Point de Sable and Catherine, his Indian wife of many years, travel from Chicagou to Cahokia to have their marriage solemnized by Father St. Pierre at the Mission de Sainte Famille de Caoquias.

On July 17 Gen. Arthur St. Clair, newly appointed governor of the Northwest Territory, inaugurates the territorial government.


In May Gen. Arthur St. Clair, appointed Governor of the Northwest Territory by President Washington mid 1787, finally reaches the area and starts to organize its government. He organizes St. Clair County, in present southern Illinois. First at Kaskaskia, he appoints officials and militia officers, and adopts laws without authorization to do so. He then removes to Cahokia and does likewise. In June, Governor St. Clair organizes Knox County to include Peoria and Chicago.

Governor St. Clair and Winthrop Sargent, Secretary of the Northwest Territory, compile lists of French and American settlers in Illinois and at Vincennes, under a controversial 1788 law of the Continental Congress which was enacted to carry out the 1784 promises, in Virginia’s cession of western lands to the United States, to protect these settlers in their “titles and possessions.” These lists, and further lists compiled 1795-1797, open the floodgates for hundreds of fraudulent land claims, particularly at Peoria, by unscrupulous land spectulators, including the future governor of Illinois, John Reynolds, and attorney Isaac Durneille, who created documents that, if authentic, would make him the sole owner of Peoria.

On May 10 Hugh Heward, Detroit trader on his latest trip to Cahokia, visits Point de Sable at Chicagou for two days, trading cloth for food and leaving his birchbark canoe in exchange for the use of a pirogue for the balance of his voyage. In mid May Heward visits Peoria and lists 10 men “settled among the Indians” there, including Jean Baptiste Maillet, commander of the St. Clair County militia.

Lt. John Armstrong, U.S. Army, makes his second trip to Illinois, a top secret mission in trader’s guise to evaluate the feasibility of U.S. travel and trade up the Mississippi River from its junction with the Illinois River. Prominent people at Cahokia discourage him, and Governor St. Clair confirms. Armstrong’s report of June 2 to Secretary of War Henry Knox, includes a copy of a French map of western North America and a narration of his 1789 trip to Chicago and down the Illinois River, accompanied by a copy of a map of the river basin from Chicago to the Mississippi, the most accurate of its kind for another 30 years or more.

On June 20, Chicago becomes part of newly formed Knox County, Northwest Territory.

On July 16, the District of Columbia is established as the seat of the United States government.

Antoine Ouilmette locates in Chicago on the north side of the river, near Point de Sable’s homestead.


On April 2, Congress authorizes establishment of the U.S. Mint.

In total disregard of the Treaty of Paris, the British create Kent County, of the Province of Upper Canada, in which they include Chicago. Although this move is in conflict with the Northwest Ordinance adopted by the U.S. congress in 1787, England will remain in de facto control of Illinois county until the year 1796.

Jean Lalime and his Potawatomi wife, Nokenoqua, settle in Chicago north of the river near the Ouilmette family.


On August 20, Gen. Anthony Wayne defeats the Indians at Fallen Timbers in northwestern Ohio, reducing Indian pressure that had made settlement precarious. This makes the Treaty of Greenville possible.

On November 19, Jay’s Treaty is signed in London, resolving multiple serious Anglo-American diplomatic issues. Most difficulties have been the result of Great Britain’s resistance in meeting all agreements of the definitive Treaty of Paris of 1783, and its clandestine agitation against the United States with the Indian tribes now in American territory.


On August 3 the Treaty of Greenville is signed; by this treaty the federal government acquires, among other large tracts of land ceded by the Indians, “one piece of land six miles square at the mouth of the Chicago River.”

On October 27, the Treaty of San Lorenzo between the United States and Spain settles Florida’s northern boundary and gives navigation rights on the Mississippi River to the United States.

Jean Baptiste Point de Sable and Antoine Ouilmette are the only Chicago residents in this year; see map.


On July 6, the Catholic priest Michel Levadoux travels from Cahokia to Detroit by way of the Illinois River and Chicago.

On August 15, Chicago becomes, until 1800, part of Wayne County, Northwest Territory.

On October 2, British troops leave Michilimackinac, the last frontier post to be evacuated under the terms of Jay’s Treaty; this opens the upper lakes to American commerce.

On October 8, Eulalia Pelletier, granddaughter of Jean Baptiste Point de Sable and daughter of Jean Baptiste Pelletier and his wife Suzanne, is born at Chicagou; Suzanne and her daughter will be baptized at St. Louis in 1799.

During the summer Gen. Victor Collot visits Illinois country and later records his impressions in the book A Journey in North America which includes his map of the “American Bottom” [see image].


In early May John Kinzie arrives from St. Joseph on horseback. With him are his wife, Eleanor, their son, John Harris, aged six months, and Eleanor’s daughter, Margaret. Kinzie purchases the Point de Sable estate from Lalime and Burnett.

In the autumn the United States Indian Agency opens its first office at Fort Dearborn, with Indian agent Charles Jouett in charge. An attorney by training, Jouett becomes Chicago’s first lawyer. He brings his wife, Eliza, and they will live in the agency house soon to be built by the soldiers.

On November 3, the Treaty of St. Louis is concluded between the United States and various leaders of the Sauk and Fox tribes, resulting in cession to the government of 14,803,500 acres of land in Missouri, Illinois, and southern Wisconsin. The Indians receive in return $22,234 and the right to live on the land as long as it is owned by the government. Later this treaty will be bitterly denounced as unfair by the Sauk leader Black Hawk, and his defiance will lead to the Black Hawk War in 1832, involving Fort Dearborn and Chicago.

In early November John Kinzie, recently appointed justice of the peace, performs the first marriage ceremony at Chicago for James Abbott and Sarah, Captain Whistler’s daughter, in the rude and unfinished fort. Abbott, a young Detroit merchant, journeys to the fort to marry; afterward the couple immediately ride back to Detroit.

On December 27 Ellen Marion Kinzie, the first known child of European descent, is born at Chicago, the daughter of John and Eleanor Kinzie.


The first U.S. factor, Ebenezer Belknap, arrives early in the year and remains until December.

In the spring Col. Jacob Kingsbury stops shortly at Fort Dearborn with a company of troops on his way to superintend the establishment of Fort Belle Fontaine, near the mouth of the Missouri River.

The first U.S. Indian Agency house is built by the Fort Dearborn soldiers on the south bank of the river, immediately west of the fort.

In the autumn Meriwether Lewis Whistler, son of Lt. William and Mrs. Mary Julia Whistler, becomes the first known boy child of European descent born at Chicago.


Captain Whistler struggles to keep the garrison adequately supplied in the spare wilderness; see his following letter to Secretary of War Gen. Henry Dearborn:

Fort Dearborn 6th Jany 1807

Sir On the 11th of November last I left this fort, having leave of absence from Col Burbach for a few weeks to visit Detroit & I took Fort Wayne in my rout, for the purpose of seeing the Contractor Agent ther as he is impowered to furnish this post, with the article of meet,—At the time I left here there was not more than was sufficient for two months Issues of that article on hand, this was the occasoin of my making Fort Wayne in my rout, on my arrival ther which was on the twenty first of novemr I informed the agent, of the situation of this post as wanting the articl of meat in particular, he replyed it was not in his power to remedy the evil accept with a few poor Beeves, ninteen in number these were sent in Dec. and arrived here in the latter part of that month I made Fort Wayne in my rout on my return purposely to gain infermation looking for better success the said agent informed me that it was not in his power to make a purchase as the bills in favour of the Contractor were protested, and the people would not sell there property without some other means than his bills, he also informed me, he was not able to Furnish Fort Wayne or this post, Capt Whipple also informed me he was under the necessity himself of procuring some Hogs (that happened thereabout) for the use of his Garrison as the agent could not supply it—These circumstances were alarming to me as being in so remoat a part of world where little could be purchased I informed the agent, I should be under the necessity of purchasing that article of my arrival at Fort Dearborn if to be had there—on my arrival I found by making a survey of what meat was in store including the ninteen head already mentioned ther was not a suffient quantity for three months Issues finding no hoaps of a further suply, I nade inquiry and found a small quanty of hoch for sail I made a purchase of it on as reasonable terms as posiable, for which I inclose the acct with my Certificate annexed therto hoaping you will acknowledge it as suffient for discharging the acct in favor of the persin of whom I made the purchase, I am Ignorant of the manner in shich I aught to draw for the payments of such purchase, but finding mysilf under the necessity of acting under the 3d and [?], article of your agreement with Olivre Phelps Esqr of the 6th June 1806 I mad the purchase and that being not suffient I have entered into an agreement with a man that happined here from Staunton for Beer, a Copy of which I have taken the liberty also to inclose this last I hoap will be a suffient quanty with what ws already on hand for six months commencing the first instant,—I am happy to find that the Contractor is gainer for what he looses on the first purchase, he gains much more on the latter—Sir I have the Honor to be your most Obt & Humb J Whistler Capt

The Honorable Henry Dearborn Secrettary of War

N.B. I have given a draught to the person whom I mad the purchase from—but whether it is in form or not I am not a judge—

In September Maria Indiana Kinzie is born to John and Eleanor Kinzie at Chicago


On January 25 Capt. John Whistler dates a prepared draft of Fort Dearborn I and its environs and submits it to the secretary of war [It is now at the National Archives, Washington, DC; see reproduction of said draft with this entry].


Dr. John Cooper arrives on the Adams to succeed Dr. William Smith, becoming the second physician at Fort Dearborn.

See map showing the location of Chicago`s first public ferry, established across the North Branch—an Indian ferry attended by the man of the house to the east.


On February 9 Chicago, formerly in the Indiana Territory, becomes part of the new Territory of Illinois, with Kaskaskia as the capital.

On March 3 part of Indiana Territory, including St. Clair County with Chicago, becomes the new Territory of Illinois, with Kaskaskia as its capital.

On April 28, Chicago becomes part of the new St. Clair County of the Territory of Illinois.

In late June, William Johnson journeys from Fort Wayne to Fort Dearborn and records his observations of the land he traverses, portaging, the fort and its officers.

On October 29, Charles Lalime Jouett is born to Indian agent Charles Jouett and his second wife, Susan.


A bitter feud develops between the trader John Kinzie and many officers of the fort. Among the issues is Captain Whistler’s attempt to stop Kinzie’s distribution of liquor to the Indians. Politics allow Kinzie to prevail, resulting in the removal of Captain Whistler and the principal officers from the garrison in April.

In June, Capt. Nathan Heald succeeds Captain Whistler as commandant of Fort Dearborn until its disastrous evacuation on August 15, 1812.

In the summer Matthew Irving succeeds Joseph Varnum as U.S. factor.

Violent actions by Indians begin to be reported from many locations on the western front.


On April 1, Dr. John Cooper resigns his commission, and Dr. Isaac Van Voorhis fills the vacancy to become the third surgeon at Fort Dearborn.

Aggressive actions by local Indians begin. On May 26 Jean Baptiste Lalime, interpreter at Fort Dearborn, sends a letter of complaint to General Clark at St. Louis, regarding horse stealing by Indians.

In June Lt. Linai Helm arrives at the fort, transferring from Detroit, filling the vacancy created by the death of Lt. Seth Thompson on March 4. With him is his wife Margaret, stepdaughter of John Kinzie.

On July 7, Jean Lalime sends a letter to Fort Dearborn, complaining of Indian depredation near Fort Dearborn.

On October 1, the U.S. Indian agent Charles Jouett removes to Kentucky and does not return until 1816.

On November 7, Gen. William Henry Harrison, governor of the Indiana Territory, defeats the Shawnee at Prophetstown on Tippecanoe Creek in northern Indiana. But the victory is indecisive and most of the Indians will join the British in the War of 1812.

Within his account book on December 16, John Kinzie notes an earthquake occurring at Chicago.

In this year, Jean Baptiste Beaubien moves permanently to Chicago and builds his first house on the east side of the south branch


See Chicago housing map of 1812 prior to the Fort Dearborn Massacre.

On April 6, marauding Winnebago kill Liberty White and Jean Baptiste Cardin on Leigh’s farm at Hardscrabble.

In early June, John Kinzie kills Jean Lalime during a quarrel just outside the fort. He goes north into hiding, but returns to his residence once an investigation by Fort Dearborn authority “exonerates” him during his absence.

On June 18, the U.S. Congress approves war with England. The struggle does not initially go well for the United States.

On July 12, U.S. forces invade Canada; Mackinac is lost on July 17.

In late July, Captain Heald receives instructions to encourage “the Chiefs of the different nations in the vicinity of Chicago to go” to a council at Piqua; John Kinzie assists and “… 17 Chiefs &c; of the Potawatimies, Ottowas, Chippewas & Winebagoes set out, well satisfied, from chicago ….” [Thomas Forsyth, Sept. 7, 1812]

On August 9 the Potawatomi messenger, Winnemac, brings orders from Gen. William Hull at Detroit to Captain Heald that Fort Dearborn is to be evacuated because of a possible large scale attack by Indian tribes.

On August 13, at “… a place called Terre Coupee, distant from Chicago about 90 miles …,” the Indian chiefs meet the Indian agent William Wells from Fort Wayne, with Cpl. Walter Jordan and “Winemege or Catfish a Potawatimy Chief,” escorted by 20 or 25 friendly Miami, en route to Fort Dearborn with orders to assist the beleaguered inhabitants. The chiefs are directed to join them and “[a]ll returned back to Chicago, where they found a very great number of Indians.”

August 15, the day of the Fort Dearborn massacre; see next entry.

On August 16, Fort Dearborn is burned by Indians and General Hull surrenders Fort Detroit.

On September 14 Chicago, formerly in St. Clair County of the Illinois Territory, becomes part of Madison County.

On October 3 an article appears in The Weekly Register, published in Baltimore by H. Niles: “Fall of Fort Dearborn at Chicaugo.—Yesterday afternoon, the Queen-Charlotte arrived at fort Erie, in 7 days from Detroit. A flag of truce soon landed at Buffaloe creek maj. Atwater and lt. J. L. Eastman, who gave the following account of the fall of fort Dearborn. On the 1st Sept. a Potawatamie chief arrived at Detroit, and stated, that about the middle of Aug. capt. Wells, from fort Wayne, (an interpreter) arrived at fort Dearborn, to advise the commandant of the fort to evacuate it and retreat. In the mean time a large body of Indians of different nations had collected and menaced the garrison. A council was held with the Indians in which it was agreed that the garrison should be spared, on condition that all property in the fort should be given up. The Americans marched out but were fired upon and nearly all killed. There were about 50 men in the fort besides women and children, and probably not more than 10 or 12 taken prisoners. Capts. Wells and Heald (the commandant) were killed. …” Buffaloe Gaz.

Ten or more private homes have existed at Chicago during this year, among them those belonging to Kinzie, Ouilmette, Buisson, and Burns, who lived on the north side of the river. Leigh lived south of the fort, with a farm four miles southwest of the fort on the south branch of the Chicago River. Clark lived near the Forks. LaFramboise and Robinson lived on the west side of the south branch and Beaubien on the east side; see map.

1812, August 15

Fort Dearborn massacre. Soon after the garrison’s evacuation of the fort, as the retreating party advances south 1.5 miles along the beach on the way to Fort Wayne, an attack by c.500 Indians kills a large number of soldiers and dependents. Survivors are taken prisoner. Aided by friendly Indians, the Kinzie family escapes to Detroit. The map of contemporary Chicago, prepared by Juliette Kinzie in 1844, shows the place of combat in its lower left corner. [342a, 405, 544]


The Chicago community is (and will remain for years) severely decimated by the Indian attack; see 1812 post-attack housing map.

On March 22, Robert Dickson comes to the Fort Dearborn site and observes: “There remains of this Garrison, Two Pieces of Brass Ordnance – three pounders – one in the River with wheels & the other dismounted. I shall endeavor to get them conveyed to Michilimackinac. The Powder Magazine is in a state of high Preservation & the Houses on the outside of the Fort are well constructed & will be excellent for lodging troops should it be found necessary to make any establishment here.”

Antoine Ouilmette and Louis Buisson farm around the ruins of the fort; see map.


On June 4 an article appears in the Baltimore Niles` Weekly Register: “CHICAGO. Among the prisoners who have recently arrived at this place, (says the Plattsburg paper of the 21st ult.) from Quebec, are James Van Horn, Joseph Knowles [Noles], Paul Grummow [Grummo], Elias Mills, Joseph Bowen, Nathan Edson, Dyson Dyer, James Corbin, and Phelim [Fielding] Corbin, of the 1st regiment of U. S. Infantry, who survived the massacre at fort Dearborn or Chicago, on the 15th of August, 1812. It will be recollected that the commandant at fort Chicago, captain Heald, was ordered by general Hull to evacuate the fort and proceed with his company to Detroit—that having proceeded about a mile and a half the troops were attacked by a body of Indians, to whom they were compelled to capitulate.—Captain Heald, in his report of this affair, dated October 23, 1812, says, `Our strength was 54 regulars and 12 militia, out of which, 26 regulars and all the militia were killed in the action, with two women and 12 children. Lieut. Lina T. Helm, with 25 non-commissioned officers and privates, and 11 women and children, were prisoners when we separated.` Lt. Helm was ransomed. Of the 25 non-commissioned officers and privates and the 11 women and children, the nine persons above mentioned, are believed to be the only survivors. They state that the prisoners who were not put to death on the march, were taken to Fox River, in the Illinois Territory, where they were distributed among the Indians as servants.—Those who survived remained in this situation about nine months, during which time they were allowed scarcely a sufficiency of sustenance to support nature, and were then brought to Fort Chicago, where they were purchased from the Indians by a French trader, agreeable to the direction of gen. Proctor, and sent to Amherstburg, and from thence to Quebec, where they arrived on the 8th of Nov. 1813.
John Neads [Needs], formerly of Virginia, who was one of the prisoners, died among the Indians, between the 15th and 20th of January, 1812[3].
Hugh Logan, an Irishman, was tomahawked and put to death, he not being able to walk, from excessive fatigue.
August Mott, a German, was killed in the same manner for the like reason.
A man by the name of Nelson was frozen to death while a captive with the Indians. He was formerly of Maryland.
A child of Mrs. Neads [Needs], the wife of John Neads, was tied out to a tree to prevent its following and crying after its mother for victuals.—Mrs. Neads afterwards perished with hunger and cold.
The officers who were killed on the 15th of Aug. had their heads cut off and their hearts taken out and broiled in the presence of the prisoners.
Eleven children were massacred and scalped, in one waggon.
Mrs. Corbin, the wife of Phelim [Fielding] Corbin, in an advanced stage of pregnancy, was tomahawked, scalped, cut open, and had the child taken out and its head cut off.”

On November 28, Chicago becomes part of Edwards County, Illinois Territory.

On December 24, the War of 1812 formally ends with Britain’s defeat when the United States and Britain sign the Treaty of Ghent. The United States now begins rebuilding relations with the tribes of the western Great Lakes and the Mississippi River valley.


John Dean, army contractor, arrives and builds a house at the mouth of the Chicago River, south of the fort’s ruins.

The number of French Catholics known to be living at Chicago is significant; reporting to the Holy See, Bishop Flaget of Bardstown, KY, writes: “… in the very midst of the Indians [are] four French congregations belonging to my diocese; one on the upper Mississippi, another in a place usually designated as Chicagou, still another on the shores of Lake Michigan and a fourth toward the source of the Illinois River [Peoria]; ….”


In September Maj. Stephen H. Long, of the Corps of U.S. Topographical Engineers, explores a proposed route for the canal and visits Fort Dearborn. He submits a map of the “Illenois River” with his survey report to the acting secretary of war, George Graham, and writes: “… a canal uniting the waters of the Illinois with those of Lake Michigan, may be considered of the first importance of any in this quarter of the country.” [On the map detail shown here, the black line N of Mud Lake represents the “portage road” followed by Major Long`s expedition.]

1816 On July 4, Capt. Hezekiah Bradley arrives on the schooner, General Wayne, with two companies of the Third Infantry and begins reconstruction of Fort Dearborn on the same site. With him is the fourth Fort Dearborn military surgeon, Dr. William Gale.

Charles Jouett, who had previously been the fort’s Indian agent, is reappointed and arrives with his family. Lt. Taliaferro will later recall: “[s]o hostile were the Winnebagos and others that the Quartermaster had to move daily with an armed party for the security of the men engaged in felling and hewing lumber for the post.”

At the Treaty of St. Louis, on August 24, the Fox and the Sauk cede to the United States, among other lands, a 20-by-70-mile strip of land, running southwest from the shore of Lake Michigan to the Fox River, its midline coinciding with the outlet of the Chicago River. This strip includes the historic portage route, and its acquisition facilitates the later construction of the Illinois & Michigan Canal. Outside this corridor, its borders known as the Indian Boundary Lines, the land is still owned by Indians.

In the autumn the Kinzie family returns from Detroit, and John Kinzie becomes the first Chicago agent of the American Fur Co. William Cox teaches school to the children of John Kinzie and others from the fort in an old bakery building on the Kinzie property.

Also in this year, the Detroit firm Conant & Mack sends John Crafts to establish a trading house at Hardscrabble on the south branch.

On October 13 the new U.S. factor, Jacob Varnum, arrives with his bride, Mary Ann. On December 31, Chicago becomes part of Crawford County, Illinois Territory.

The U.S. Army establishes several new garrisons in the upper Northwest, in addition to rebuilding Fort Dearborn: Fort Howard at Green Bay; Fort Crawford at the mouth of the Wisconsin River; and Fort Edwards and Fort Armstrong on the Mississippi River.


In May Maj. David Baker, Third Infantry, replaces Capt. Hezekiah Bradley as commandant at Fort Dearborn.

In this year, the schooner Heartless attempts to navigate the passage from the lake into the Chicago River, but is grounded on the sand bar and cannot be freed, becoming Chicago’s first shipwreck.

From October 2 to 4, Samuel Appleton Storrow, Judge Advocate Major of the Northern division, U.S. Army, under Major General Jacob Jennings Brown, visits Fort Dearborn and recounts the following:
… On the 2d of October, after walking for three or four hours, I reached the River Chicago, and after crossing it, entered Fort Dearborn, where I was kindly entertained by Major Baker and the officers of the garrison, who received me as one arrival from the moon. At Chicago I perceived I was in a better country. … At some remotely future period, when a dense population enables the husbandman to apply artificial warmth to his grounds, means of life may be extracted from this soil which are latent at present. It requires industry, and is capable of repaying it. … The river Chicago (or, in English, Wild Onion river) is deep, and about fifty yards in width, before it enters the Lake, its two branches unite—the one proceeding from the north, the other from the west, where it takes its rise in the fountain of the De Plein, or Illinois, which flows in an opposite direction. The source of these two rivers illustrates the geographical phenomenon of a reservoir [Mud Lake] on the very summit of a dividing ridge. In the autumn they are both without any apparent fountain, but are formed within a mile and a half of each other by some imperceptible undulations of the Prairie, which drain it and lead to different directions. But in the spring, the space between the two is a single sheet of water, the common reservoir of both, in the centre of which there is no current towards either of the opposite streams. … The ground between the two is without rocks, and, with little labor, would admit of a permanent connection between the waters of the Illinois and Michigan. … The site and relations of Fort Dearborn I have already explained. It has no advantage of harbor, the river itself being always choked, and frequently barred, from the same causes that I have imputed to the other streams of this country. In the rear of the fort is a prairie of the most complete flatness, no sign of elevation being within the range of the eye. The soil and climate are both excellent. Traces yet remain of the devastation and massacre committed by the savages in 1812. I saw one of the principal perpetrators, Nes-cot-no-meg. … On the 4th of Oct. I left Chicago for Fort Wayne …. Our course was to lay, for about 60 miles, on the beach of Lake Michigan, from thence inclining eastwardly to the St. Joseph’s of the Lake, and thence due south to the Miami of Lake Erie. On the night of the 4th I slept on the beach, after having forded the little Kennomick. I call it after the Indian pronounciation—Calumet is probably the name. On our right lay an expanse of flat prairie, extending, as I supposed, to the Illinois. ….


Captain Smith of the U.S. Department of Engineering prepares a map of the Chicago River from the confluence of its two major branches to its mouth, indicating the exact location of Fort Dearborn and the properties of Antoine Ouilmette and John Kinzie.

In April Nathaniel Pope, delegate from the Illinois Territory to the U.S. House of Representatives, convinces the assembly that the state-to-be must have its northern border extended northward by an additional 41 miles, deviating from the stipulation of the original ordinance, thereby providing access to Lake Michigan. Chicago is thus included in the state of Illinois.

On April 18, President James Monroe signs the bill that converts the former Illinois Territory into the 21st state of the Union. Chicago is now in Crawford County, Illinois. Also on this day, the U.S. Senate confirms Dr. Alexander Wolcott’s appointment as Indian agent; he immediately leaves for Chicago to succeed Charles Jouett.

On August 26, the first constitutional convention for the state of Illinois, attended by 33 delegates, completes its task at Kaskaskia.

On October 4, the schooner Hercules is wrecked between the two Calumet River mouths after leaving Chicago; all aboard perish, including Lt. William Evileth, who had assisted in the construction of the second Fort Dearborn.

On October 6 Shadrach Bond, from St. Clair County, becomes the first governor of the state of Illinois.

On November 1, 16-year-old Gurdon Hubbard makes his first visit to Chicago in his new job as apprentice clerk for the American Fur Co.

On December 3 Illinois, previously part of the Illinois Territory since March 1, 1810, becomes the 21st state of the Union.

In this year, Dr. John Gale, Fort Dearborn surgeon, is succeeded by J. Ponte Coulant Mc Mahon, M.D., the fifth physician at the fort.


On March 22, Chicago becomes part of Clark County, Illinois.

John C. Sullivan, a U.S. government surveyor, prepares a detailed map of the Chicago portage area and the 20-by-70-mile corridor acquired from the Indians through the Treaty of St. Louis, for which canal construction is proposed.


On January 1, Indian agent Wolcott records that the ice is 14 inches thick in the river; later on February 2, it is 18 3/4 inches thick. On January 31, 22 inches of snow falls.

In June Capt. Hezekiah Bradley, Third Infantry, reassumes command at Fort Dearborn.

On August 29, Henry Schoolcraft arrives at Fort Dearborn as a member of a government expedition under Lewis Cass that has explored the Northwest.

Before leaving, he sketches the much-copied “View of Chicago,” showing the lakefront with Fort Dearborn at the center, Kinzie’s house on the right, and Indians with canoes at the sand bar in the foreground. Excerpts of Schoolcraft’s account of the visit follow:
The next day’s journey, 28th, carried us forty miles, in which distance, the most noticeable fact in the topography of the coast was the entrance of the Racine or Root River; its eligible shores being occupied by some Pottawattomie lodges. Having reached within ten or twelve miles of Chicago, and being anxious to make that point, we were in motion at a very early hour on that morning of the 29th, and reached the village at 5 o’clock a.m. We found four or five families living there, the principal of which were those of Mr. John Kinzie, Dr. A. Wolcott, J.B. Beaubien, and Mr. J. Crafts, the latter living a short distance up the River. The Pottawattomies, to whom this site is the capital of their trade, appeared to be lords of the soil, and truly are entitled to the epithet if laziness, and an utter inappreciation of the value of time, be a test of lordliness. Dr. Wolcott, being the U.S. Agent for this tribe, found himself at home here, and constitutes no further a member of the expedition. Gov. Cass determined to return to Detroit from this point, on horseback, across the peninsula of Michigan, accompanied by Lt. Mackey, U.S.A., Maj. [Robert Allen] Forsyth, his private secretary, and the necessary number of men and pack horses to prepare their night encampment. This left Capt. Douglass and myself to continue the survey of the Lakes, and after reaching Michilimackinac, and rejoining the party of Mr. Trowbridge, to return to Detroit from that point. The preparations for these ends occupied a couple of days, which gave us an opportunity to scan the vicinity. We found the post (Fort Dearborn) under the command of Capt. Bradley, with a force of one hundred and sixty men. The River is ample and deep for a few miles, but is utterly choked up by the lake sands, through which, behind a masked margin, it oozes its way for a mile or two til it percolates through the sands into the lakes. Its banks consist of a black, areneceous, fertile soil, which is stated to produce abundantly, in its season, the wild species of cepa or leek. This circumstance has led the natives to name it the place of the wild leek. Such is the origin of the term Chicago. … The country around Chicago is the most fertile and beautiful that can be imagined. It consists of an intermixture of woods and prairies, diversified with gentle slopes, sometimes attaining the elevation of hills, and it is irrigated with a number of clear streams and rivers, which throw their waters partly into Lake Michigan and partly into the Mississippi River. As a farming country, it presents the greatest facilities for raising stock and grains, and it is one of the most favored parts of the Mississippi Valley. The climate has a delightful serenity, and it must, as soon as the Indian title is extinguished, become one of the most attractive fields for the emigrant. To the ordinary advantages of an agricultural market town, it must add that of being a depot for the commerce between the northern and southern sections of the Union, and a great thoroughfare for strangers, merchants, and travellers.

On November 6, having returned with Schoolcraft in late August from the four-month Cass expedition that had included himself as physician, Indian Agent Wolcott writes to his brother-in-law in Middleton, Connecticut:
… You wanted me to write some account of my domestic affairs. The principal part of my stock consists in two horses, ten milch cows (two yoke of oxen belonging to Uncle Sam) and about ten head of young cattle. Mr. Kinzie planted for me during my absence six acres of corn from which I gathered three hundred and seventy measured bushels, more than sixty bushels to the acre, a pretty good crop that, considering the season. I intend next spring to enclose a pasture of about a hundred acres to keep my cows and twenty sheep. … [Am now] digging a space for an ice house as I find my old one will not answer my purpose. During the winter & spring I propose to build an additional kitchen, a store-house, a blacksmith’s shop, a council house, and office, an old fashioned connecticut corn-barn, a poultry house, a smoke-house, a milk-house, and a root-house, besides putting up enclosure of palings around my yard &c.; &c.; Do you see I do not propose to be idle between this & the next planting season. If Uncle Sam lets me stay on this farm of his for five or six years I intend to make it one of the most convenient and inviting little posts in the country.

In this year, Dr. William S. Madison succeeds Dr. McMahon to become the sixth Fort Dearborn military surgeon.


In January Maj. Alexander Cummings, Third Infantry, assumes command at Fort Dearborn.

On January 31, Chicago becomes part of Pike County, and the capital of Illinois reverts back to Kaskaskia from Vandalia.

On June 18, John Walls, of the U.S. General Land Office, Washington, D.C., created a survey of the Illinois & Michigan Canal Route with the Chicago River, Mud Lake and Part of the Des Plaines; 18 June.

On August 29, a treaty is concluded in Chicago between the United States and various Indian tribes which, among other large land cessions [approximately five million acres], gives the United States the right-of-way to construct the Chicago Road between Detroit and Chicago. About 3,000 Indians are in Chicago for the occasion to receive in return an immediate distribution of merchandise, grants of small parcels of land to certain individuals, government-provided instructions for the Indians in blacksmithing, agriculture, &c.;, and the assurance of certain annuities in perpetuity. The treaty clears the way for the Illinois & Michigan Canal project. Note John Walls` survey.

In September, Dr. M.H.T. Hall replaces Dr. Madison at Fort Dearborn, to become the seventh military surgeon. He remains two months and is followed by Dr. Thomas P. Hall, the eighth military surgeon, who will serve until 1823, when the garrison will be withdrawn.

In October Lt. Col. J. McNeil, Third Infantry, assumes command of Fort Dearborn and serves until July 1823.

During this year, Ebenezer Childs of Green Bay passes through Chicago and reports the following later:
In 1821, I made a trip to St. Louis in a bark canoe. … [There] I remained two weeks, did my business, when I was advised to return by way of the Illinois River. … We continued up the Illinois to the junction of the Kankakee and the Eau Plaine, and thence up the Eau Plaine to where I supposed we had to make a portage to Chicago River; but I could not see any signs of the portage. There had been heavy rains for several days, which had so raised the streams that they overflowed their banks. I concluded that I had gone far enough for the portage, so I left the Eau Plaine and took a northeast direction. After travelling a few miles, I found the current of the Chicago River. The whole country was inundated; I found not less than two feet of water all across the portage. That night I arrived at Chicago, pitched my tent on the bank of the Lake, and went to the Fort for provisions. … There were, at this time, but two families residing outside of the Fort at Chicago, those of Mr. Kinzie and Col. Beaubien. …


In March, the U.S. Congress makes available property for the Illinois & Michigan Canal and appropriates $10,000 for a canal survey.

In this year, Rev. Isaac McCoy establishes an Indian Baptist mission and school where Niles will develop in the Michigan Territory. Several Chicago children attend the school as boarders, among them Josette Ouilmette and Madore Beaubien.

A military burial of the 1812 massacre victims’ remnants is held sometime this year; until then the bones have remained scattered among the sand dunes south of Fort Dearborn.

During the summer, U.S. government agent Charles C. Trowbridge travels to Fort Dearborn to fulfill provisions of the Chicago Treaty of 1821, stating specifically: “… the establishment of a teacher, farmer, and blacksmith, for the period of fifteen years, among the Pottawattamies of the St. Joseph river, and a like establishment among the Ottawas for ten years on the Grand river; and the object of the journey [is] to select suitable places for their location.”

On the first Monday of August, the second election for governor and lieutenant-governor of Illinois takes place; Edward Coles, from Madison County, is elected governor.


Fielding Lucas publishes his General Atlas Containing Distinct Maps of All the Known Countries in the World, in which he shows the Indian boundery lines of northern Illinois and details the progress of the ongoing subdivision into survey townships, including Chicago; see map.

On January 28, Chicago becomes part of Fulton County, Illinois.

On February 14, Governor Coles and the Illinois legislature create an Illinois and Michigan Canal Commission, charged with having the canal lands surveyed and with estimating the cost of canal construction.

On June 5, Maj. Stephen H. Long revisits Fort Dearborn (then under the command of Lt. Col. John McNeil), this time as leader of an expedition to explore the valleys of the Red and Minnesota rivers and the border country between the former river and Lake Superior, later described by the expedition’s historian-geologist-mineralogist William H. Keating. Arriving with Major Long is the blacksmith and gunsmith David McKee, who settles in Chicago, initially as an employee of the Indian Agency.

On July 20 John Hamlin of Peoria, returning from Green Bay on business, obliges Dr. Wolcott and Ellen Kinzie and performs a marriage ceremony between them.

In July Capt. John Green, Third Infantry, assumes command at Fort Dearborn to serve until its evacuation in October 1823.

On August 5, Archibald Clybourne arrives as a permanent Chicago resident; other members of his family follow.

On September 1, a Fulton County election is held at the Kinzie house to choose a major and company officers for the Seventeenth Regiment of the Illinois militia.

In October, Fort Dearborn is evacuated and left in the charge of Indian Agent Dr. Wolcott until its reoccupation.

The first personal property tax is levied on Fulton County residents, Chicago included. The tax rate is “5 mils to the dollar,” exempting only household furniture. Amhurst C. Ransom, justice of the peace, serves as collector; he collects $11.42 in Chicago. Assuming collection of all tax due, the total valuation of the settlement was $2,284.

During this year, David Hall and James Kinzie build the Wolf Point Tavern at the Forks, on the west bank of the river. Chicago’s first pub and inn will soon have its own ferry service, the “grapeline ferry” for the convenience of patrons.


The U.S. Congress passes the General Survey Act, which gives the president the power to plan improvements on the Great Lakes, such as harbor or canal construction, although Congress must approve the cost. As a consequence of this act—but not until 1831—$5,000 will be appropriated for a Chicago lighthouse, and, in 1833, $25,000 for harbor improvement.

Col. René Paul and Col. Justus Post, both engineers from St. Louis, begin a survey and cost estimate of a proposed canal connecting the Chicago River with the Illinois River at La Salle, completing their work the following year. Their estimate is $639,946 to $716,110. [When eventually built from 1836 to 1848, the cost ran over $700,000,000; eds.]

In June Joseph Bailly, believing he is in Michigan Territory, builds a home and trading post on the bank of the Calumet River [near Chesterton, Indiana], becoming the first settler in the Calumet region.

On August 22 W.T. Barry, postmaster general, requests proposals “for carrying the mail of the United States from Chicago, Ill. to Green Bay, M.T. and back once a week, on horseback, for three years, from 1st January, 1825.” [The advertisement appeared in the Chicago Democrat between Sept. 17 and Dec. 24, 1834, possibly to highlight the community’s growth in 10 years; eds.]

On December 1, John Quincy Adams is declared president of the United States by the House of Representatives, following a four-way electoral deadlock among Adams, Andrew Jackson, William Crawford, and Henry Clay.

The Erie Canal is under construction and will open in the following year; see map.


On January 13, Chicago becomes part of Putnam County, Illinois, but is administered by Peoria County. The property value for all of Chicago’s 14 land owners is assessed at a total of $9,047, of which $5000 is assessed against John Crafts, the local representative of John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company. At 1%, Astor pays $50 in tax.

On May 15, John Crafts dies; Jean Baptiste Beaubien assumes responsibility as the American Fur Co. agent.

On July 28, John Kinzie is commissioned justice of the peace of Peoria County, the first Chicagoan to hold this office.

On September 8, the Peoria Court appoints Archibald Clybourne constable for the Chicago district of Peoria County.

On October 9, the visiting Rev. Isaac McCoy gives the first Protestant sermon in Chicago.

On October 25, the Erie Canal opens as America’s first man-made waterway, and establishes a new route for trade with and emigration from the settled East.

In December, William H. Wallace opens a trading post at Hardscrabble on the south branch.

Also in this year, Heinrich Rothenfeld, first German settler, comes to Chicago, but settles further west at what will soon become Dunklee’s Grove. Alexander Robinson opens his tavern on the west bank of the river, near the Forks. Note map of the housing pattern.

John H. Fonda, trader and mail carrier of Prairie du Chien, passes through Chicago and will later record his experience:
[Lake Peoria] … At length the councils were concluded, and our [Indian] guide signified his willingness to procede. Under his direction we paddled along until we came to the Des Plaines river, from which we passed into a large slough or lake [Mud Lake] that must have led us into a branche of the Chicago river, for we followed a stream that brought us opposite Fort Dearborn. At this period, Chicago was merely an Indian Agency; it contained about 14 homes, and not more than 75 to 100 inhabitants at the most. An Agent of the American Fur Company, named Gurdon S. Hubbard, then occupied the Fort. The staple business seemed to be carried on by Indians and run-away soldiers, who hunted ducks and muscrats in the marshes. There was a great deal of low land, and mostly destitute of timber. The principal inhabitants were the agent, Mr. Hubbard, a Frenchman by the name of Ouilmette, and John B. Beaubien. It never occurred to me that a large city would be built up there. … But to go on with my story, we departed from Fort Dearborn in a fishing boat and proceded north along the Lake shore toward Green Bay.


On July 29 Elizabeth, John Kinzie’s daughter from his first marriage, marries Samuel Miller, with her father officiating as justice of the peace.

On August 7, a state election is held by the Chicago precinct of Peoria County at Indian agent Wolcott’s house and 35 ballots are cast to chose a governor [Ninian Edwards], lieutenant-governor, and a member of Congress [Daniel Cook].

In this year, Mark Beaubien arrives with his wife, Monique, and children, purchasing a small log cabin on the south bank near the Forks from James Kinzie.

Stephen J. Scott settles at Grosse Pointe with his family. David and Bernardus Laughton open a trading post on the south branch at Hardscrabble, but within a year move to the Des Plaines River to build and maintain a trading post and tavern.


On March 2, by an act of Congress, the federal government grants to the State of Illinois alternate sections, six miles wide, of public land along both sides of the proposed route of the Illinois & Michigan Canal. The money realized in land sales will be used to meet canal construction costs.

On May 18, Deborah Watkins files Chicago’s first divorce proceedings in a Peoria court against her spouse, Morrison Watkins, for being “an habitual and excessive drunkard who sought the companionship of women contrary to his marriage vows &c.; &c.;”

During the summer [June to August], the Winnebago uprising in Wisconsin causes much concern in the Chicago settlement, where Fort Dearborn has been ungarrisoned since 1823. A company of militia is organized in July under the command of Jean B. Beaubien. Gurdon Hubbard goes to Danville and returns with 100 men for reinforcement, the “Vermillion Rangers,” but no action occurs.

In early July, the unoccupied Fort Dearborn is struck by lightning; the barracks on the east side, the storehouse at the south gate, and part of the adjoining guard house are destroyed.

In this year, the brothers John and Samuel Miller build their tavern on the projection of land between the north branch and the main channel of the Chicago River, opposite Wolf Point. Archibald Clybourne builds the first slaughterhouse for cattle to supply the garrison.


John H. Fonda returns again during the winter and later shares:
… I was mail-carrier in the North-West before there was a white settlement between Prairie du Chien and Fort Snelling. … It was the winter of 27, that the U.S. Quartermaster, having heard of me through some of the men with whome I was a favorite, came to me one day and asked me if I could find the way to Chicago. I told him it wasn’t long since I made the trip by the Lake. He said he wanted a person who was not afraid to carry dispatches to the military post at Fort Dearborn. I said I had heard that the Indians were still unfriendly, but I was ready to make the attempt. … [willing to] carry the mail between Fort Howard, at Green Bay, and Fort Dearborn, commanded by Capt. Morgan, that stood on a point now forming a part of the City of Chicago. … I chose a companion to go on the tramp with me. He was a Canadian, named Boiseley, a comrade with me for many years. It was in the company of this Boiseley that I presented myself before the Quarter-Master, and reported ourselves ready for the start. He intrusted me with the—not mail-bag, but a tin canister or box of a flat shape, covered with untanned deer-hide, that contained the dispatches and letters of the inhabitants. … One noon we arrived at the southern terminus of our journey at Fort Dearborn —after being on the way for more than a month. It was in January, … and with the exception that the Fort was strengthened and garrisoned, there was no sign of improvement having gone on since my former visit [1825]. This time I was on business, and I advanced up to the sally-port with a sense of my importance, was challenged by the sentry, and an orderly conducted me to the Adjutant’s office, where I reported myself as the bearer of dispatches for the commanding officer. Captain Morgan was in the office, and, advancing, intimated that he was that person and took the case of letters, directing me to await his further orders. Getting a pass, I went outside the pallisades to a house built on the half-breed system —partly of logs and partly of boards. This house was kept by a Mr. Miller, who lived in it with his family. Here Boisely and I put up during the time we were in the settlement. I received my orders from Morgan about the 23d of January, and prepared to return with other letters. We started up one branch of the Chicago river, and after leaving this we followed the Des Plaines, taking pretty much the same way we had come.


On January 6, John Kinzie dies hours after suffering a cerebral stroke.

On May 11, a Peoria County election for constable is held at the agency house; nine votes are cast; elected are David Hunter and Henley Clybourne.

On August 4, the Chicago precinct casts 33 votes in a congressional election.

On August 28, Alexander Doyle is elected justice of the peace. David Hunter and Henley Clybourne are reelected as constables.

On October 3, Fort Dearborn is reoccupied with a military garrison. The commanding officer is Capt. and Bvt. Maj. John Fowle, Fifth Infantry. With him is Dr. Clement Alexander Finley, who becomes the ninth Fort Dearborn physician.

On October 20, 69 men—among them 61 from Chicago—petition the Illinois General Assembly to set off a new county from Peoria County to be named Michigan County; proposed boundaries embrace all territory in Illinois north of the Kankakee River and east of the Fox River. The legislature does not act on the petition.

On November 3, U.S. presidential elections are held at J.B. Beaubien’s house; 40 votes are cast. Andrew Jackson captures the presidency on a platform demanding massive, systematic removal to the West of all eastern Indians.

The Department of Indian Affairs builds the first frame house in Chicago as an award to Billy Caldwell (Sauganash) for his services on behalf of the U.S. government; the house is constructed near the corner of the later Chicago and Wabash avenues.

An aerial view of Wolf Point as the forks may have looked in 1828 was painted by James Herriot in c.1900. [56]


On January 22, the Illinois legislature creates the Canal Commission, with powers to undertake the task of construction; the first three canal commissioners are Dr. Gershom Jayne, a druggist and physician of Springfield, Edmund Roberts of Kaskaskia, and Charles Dunn of Chicago.

In June, the first ferry across the Chicago River is licensed by the commissioners of Peoria County. It is built and initially run by Archibald Clybourne and Samuel Miller, later by Mark Beaubien. The main landing is on the east bank of the south branch [where Lake Street would later reach the river], allowing for crossing both to the west and to the north bank of the main river; the ferry will be replaced by a log bridge in 1832. See map.

In the summer, the first wagonload of lead, from the recently discovered lead mines at Galena, arrives in Chicago, the trip taking 11 days.

On July 29, a treaty is concluded at Prairie du Chien between the U.S. government and the Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi; ceded are five million acres of additional Illinois territory. Several Chicago area residents are awarded compensation at this treaty.

On September 18, Justice of the Peace Alexander Doyle marries David Hunter and Maria Indiana Kinzie.

On October 2, Lt. Jefferson Davis of the First Infantry (later president of the Confederacy) visits Fort Dearborn from Fort Winnebago, where he is stationed, in search of some deserters.

On November 27, the Welland Canal is completed, linking Lakes Erie and Ontario, bypassing Niagara Falls.

On December 8, the Peoria County Commissioners Court grants Archibald Caldwell Chicago’s first tavern license for Wolf Point Tavern.

In this year, Mark Beaubien, who has lived on the south bank near the Forks since 1826, begins to take in guests and calls his house the Eagle Exchange Tavern. His daughter, Emily, later recalls: “… and then came along a man that considered himself a sign painter and he painted a blue eagle for the Eagle Exchange … the ‘Old Blue Eagle,’ we called it.”


On February 24, William Howard and Frederick Harrison, Jr., complete a map (represented) of proposed piers for construction of the harbor at the mouth of the Chicago River.

On March 26, Lt. J.G. Furman writes one of several letters from Fort Dearborn to the editor of a Maryland periodical, sharing details of an earlier hunt, beginning: … The day was lovely—’the scy so cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful, that God alone was to be seen in heaven,’—the broad blue face of the lake, unruffled by a breath of air, shone in the morning sun like one vast mirrow of polished silver. And the woods were so silent, that the cheering cry of the huntsmen and the wild melody of the hounds were echoed from a thousand points. Everything thus being propitious, we crossed the Chicago, and persued our route through the thick woods on its north side.

On April 19, the first canal lot sells to Henry Rotley in Chicago, consisting of 80 acres at $1.25 per acre, totaling $100, “being the highest bid therefore.”

Certificates of purchase are being exchanged for land patents from the governor.

In May, Dr. Elija Harmon comes to Chicago, and in December begins to serve as the 10th medical officer of the Fort Dearborn garrison, continuing to attend private patients in the village.

On June 9, Reverend See is issued a license by the Commissioners Court of Peoria County to maintain a ferry across the mouth of the Calumet River, which Johann Mann operates for him.

In June, Stephen Forbes and his wife, Elvira, begin teaching school to some 25 students in a log building belonging to J.B. Beaubien, engaged for this purpose by Beaubien and Lt. David Hunter. The children are partly from the garrison and partly from the settlement.

During the summer William Guyon, Henry Belin, and Frederick Harrison conduct surveys in northern Illinois in preparation for construction of the Chicago harbor and the Illinois & Michigan Canal.

On July 24, a special election for justice of the peace and for constable is held at James Kinzie’s house; 56 votes are cast. John S.C. Hogan becomes justice of the peace and Horacio Smith is elected constable.

On August 2, 32 people vote in the general election of Peoria County. James Kinzie’s house again serves as the polling place for the Chicago precinct; John Reynolds from St. Clair County is elected governor. The poll list of voters includes Jonathan Bailey, J.B. Beaubien, Madore Beaubien, Leon Bourassa, James Brown, Billy Caldwell, Jean B. Chevallier, John L. Davis, Russell E. Heacock, John S.C. Hogan, James Kinzie, B.H. Laughton, Joseph LaFramboise, Stephen Mack, John Mann, David McKee, Alexander McDale, Rev. William See, Stephen J. Scott, Joseph Thibeaut, David Van Eaton, Rev. Jesse Walker, Peter Frique, Mark Beaubien, Laurent Martin, Jean B. Secor, Joseph Bausky, Michael Welch, Francis Ladusier, Lewis Ganday, John Van Horn, and Peresh Le Clerc [likely Pierre Le Claire; eds.]. The clerks who preside are Jesse Walker and Madore B. Beaubien; the judges of the election are John B. Beaubien, James Kinzie, and Russell E. Heacock, who is appointed by the former two to take the place of another who has failed to attend.

On August 4 James Thompson, canal surveyor for the commissioners of the Illinois and Michigan Canal Company, completes the first survey and plat of Chicago. The plat covers canal Section Nine, bordered by Madison, State, DesPlaines, and Kinzie streets, embracing approximately three-eighths of a square mile, the “original town.” What was once referred to as the “Fort Dearborn settlement,” now rapidly becomes Chicago in everyone’s mind. Ottawa [atâwe, meaning ‘to trade’], at the other end of the planned Illinois & Michigan Canal, is also platted this year.

With Thompson’s new street pattern, Mark Beaubien realizes that his Eagle Exchange Tavern now stands in the middle of a street; he moves the building to the southeast corner of Market and Lake streets.

On September 4, the first auction sale of canal section lots, as laid out on Thompson’s plat, is held. Each lot sale averages $35, though the highest price is $100 for an 80-by-180-foot riverfront lot. Thus settlers, who until then had the status of squatters on government land, for the first time acquire legal title to their property, marking the beginning of Chicago as an organized community. The sale receipts will provide funds for the planned construction of the Illinois & Michigan Canal.

On October 26, Dr. Alexander Wolcott dies.

On November 13 the Illinois Intelligencer republishes the following observation: “Town of Chicago—About one hundred lots in this town situated on the Chicago river and at the head of the contemplated Canal from Lake Michigan to the Illinois river have recently been sold by the Canal Commissioners. The net sum arising from the sale is about $5,000 for which no credit was extended. The lots comprise one-third of the town; the remainder will hereafter be offered for sale, whenever the wants of the emigrants may require it.” [Printed earlier in the Missouri Republican]

On November 25, a Peoria County election is held for justice of the peace. Twenty-six votes are cast and Stephen Forbes defeats William See.

On December 14, First Lt. David Hunter, Fifth Infantry, assumes command of Fort Dearborn.

In this year, Walter Newberry visits Chicago and buys, as a speculative investment, 40 acres of land just north of the river. John Dixon, an Indian trader and the only permanent settler in a vast area held by the Sauk and Fox, assumes control of the ferry where the Chicago-Galena road crosses the Rock River. John Mann and his wife, Arkash, establish a tavern on the east bank of the mouth of the Calumet River, where he runs a ferry. Elijah Wentworth, Sr., opens an inn on Sand Ridge, eight miles north, and Russell Heacock opens “Heacock’s Point,” a tavern on the south branch. That the fur trade east of the Mississippi is rapidly declining is now evident to all concerned.


The winter snow covers the Chicago area for several weeks at a four-foot depth, and the temperature remains at minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit for three weeks; the season is remembered as the “winter of the deep snow” by the earliest settlers.

James Thompson – Plat of the Original Town, Chicago [authenticated MS copy, 1837].


“Chicago In 1831” (lithograph published in Morton S. Peto`s The Resources and Prospects of America, 1866). [537a]

On January 15, Cook County is created by an act of the Illinois General Assembly, with Chicago as the permanent county seat. This new county also includes all or portions of Lake, McHenry, Du Page, and Will counties.

On March 3, the U.S. Congress approves an appropriation of $5,000 to build the first lighthouse on Lake Michigan, to be built within the year at Chicago.

On March 7, the first county commissioners are elected: Samuel Miller, Gholson Kercheval, and James Walker; Richard J. Hamilton is elected first judge of the Probate Court. They are sworn in by Justice of the Peace John S.C. Hogan when they meet the following day, and the commissioners then grant licenses to sell merchandise, keep tavern, run an auction house, and operate a ferry. In addition, William See is appointed city clerk and Archibald Clybourne is appointed county treasurer.

On March 31, Jonathan Bailey is appointed Chicago’s first postmaster by William T. Barry, postmaster general under President Jackson. Bailey then lives in the old Kinzie house, out of which he conducts the first postal activities; soon after, he opens a post office at the Forks.

In April, the Cook County commisssioners order the first two county roads to be mapped out, one by way of Madison Street and Ogden Avenue to the Des Plaines River [Riverside], the other along State Street and Archer Avenue “to the house of widow Brown on Hickory Creek.”

On May 20, the troops are withdrawn from Fort Dearborn under Lt. David Hunter’s command, until the Black Hawk scare prompts reoccupation. During the hiatus, Indian Agent Thomas J.V. Owen becomes custodian.

In June, the state grants Cook County permission to sell 24 canal lots separately, the proceeds of which will be used for the erection of public buildings.

On July 15, the Napier brothers, Joseph and John, arrive on the schooner Telegraph with their families and friends, and soon move west to form the Napier settlement.

In late September, c.4,000 Indians come to Chicago for their annual annuity, which is distributed by Colonel Owen, John Kinzie and Gholson Kercheval assisting. Potawatomi chief Big Foot attempts to use the occasion to agitate for war against the settlers, but finds few supporters.

On October 4 and 5 Probate Judge Richard J. Hamilton gathers the signatures of most Chicago residents on the reverse side of the Badin-Owen Petition, registering committed agreement.

In October, Richard J. Hamilton is appointed commissioner of Cook County’s school lands.

On October 30, Chicago’s lighthouse collapses. Construction had been completed by a Samuel Jackson only days earlier. A replacement will be built the following year, immediately west of Fort Dearborn on the military reservation, to remain a prominent landmark until 1857.

In December James Herrington circulates a petition among settlers seeking signatures to support the return of the federal Fort Dearborn Reservation to the citizens of Cook County for civic purposes; 74 registered voters in three county precincts sign the request.

Also in this year, George Bickerdyke and Mark Noble, Jr., begin building a sawmill just north of Lake Street on the east bank of the Des Plaines River. The mill, reportedly the only one within 20 miles of Chicago, will become vital to the settlement and growth of the Oak Park and River Forest communities. A tannery building is constructed, owned, and operated by John Miller and Benjamin Hall at the Forks, just north of Millers’ Tavern. Dexter Graves builds the Mansion House hotel on the north side of Lake Street, near Dearborn Street. Mark Beaubien adds a two-story frame house adjacent to his cabin and calls the new structure “Sauganash Hotel” in honor of his friend Billy Caldwell. Thomas Jefferson Vincent Owen succeeds the late Dr. Wolcott as Indian agent. Chicago’s first ferry service is licensed to transport passengers across the river. Mark Beaubien is appointed ferryman; he pays a $50 license fee, with James Kinzie posting a $200 surety bond. The first Cook County property tax assessment in Chicago for the year 1831, one-half percent “[o]n town lots, on pleasure carriages, on distilleries, on all horses, mules and neat cattle above the age of three years, on watches with their appurtenances, and on all clocks,” yields $148.29. Three sailing ships visit Chicago during the year, the Napoleon, the Telegraph, and the Marengo.


The settlement is dominated by métis families, with a unique cultural blend that has survived the military defeat of France at the end of the French and Indian War by more than two generations. Village life centers not around the fort but, rather, the cluster of inns at `the Forks`, where the north and south branches meet: Indian Chief Robinson`s Trading House and Tavern [7], built approximately in 1825; Miller`s Tavern [8], built in 1827; Wolf Point Tavern [9], built in 1828; Sauganash Tavern [10], built in 1831. The officers of the fort can be found here at night. [Jane Meredith, 1987 {183}]

On December 31, Indian Agent Owen notes to Illinois Senator Elias Kane that “Chicago is … growing rapidly into notice, and consequently the tide of emigration is flowing to this point. The old barracks afford a convenient asylum for persons emigrating with their families to the northern part of the State, and they are constantly filled with this description of persons, particularly during the summer and fall seasons of the year. ….”


A debating society is organized during the winter and meets regularly at the fort, Jean Baptiste Beaubien presiding.


Chicago In 1832. [12]

In March the first “public building” is erected with county funds ($12), a roofless construction built by Samuel Miller [who asks for $20 but settles for $12]; it is the so-called estray-pen, used for temporary holding of runaway farm animals, and located on the southwest corner of the public square.

On April 4, Cook County’s first financial statement shows that for the preceding year, the tax collected on real estate and personal property amounted to $148.29.

On April 5, the aging Sauk Chief Black Hawk leads approximately 1,000 Sauk warriors and their families eastward across the Mississippi into Illinois and Wisconsin, forbidden territory previously ceded to the United States by the Indians; hostilities begin in mid-May. By August, an overwhelming force of 7,000 U.S. soldiers under Generals Atkinson and Scott will have dispersed and destroyed the Indian band, with all hostilities ending by September 30 in the complete rout of the Indians.

On April 25, the county surveyor Jedediah Woolsey is instructed to lay out a street connecting the settlement with the lakeshore and does so by extending South Water Street eastward.

On May 20, in preparation for the construction of the harbor and the Illinois & Michigan Canal, “Map No. 1 of the Survey of the Michigan & Illinois Canal,” completed by Henry Belin in 1831, is filed with the Topographical Bureau of the Engineer Department in the U.S. Army.

In late May, Rev. Adam Payne, an itinerant preacher who has shared a well appreciated sermon at the fort just two days earlier, is killed by Indians on his westward journey, becoming one of the first victims of the Black Hawk War.

On June 17, Fort Dearborn is formally regarrisoned for the Black Hawk War with two companies of regulars from the Second Infantry, arriving from Niagara under Commandant Maj. William Whistler. With them is Dr. Samuel G.J. DeCamp, the 11th Fort Dearborn surgeon, who relieves Dr. Harmon.

Late on July 10, to fight Black Hawk and his warriors, troops arrive in Chicago from Detroit on board the Sheldon Thompson, the first of two steamboats under the command of Gen. Winfield Scott. With them arrives the cholera and Fort Dearborn becomes a hospital. The sick are treated by Drs. DeCamp and Harmon, but with no adequate treatment for cholera available, one in four patients dies—58 soldiers die, and are buried at a site that will later become the northwest corner of Lake Street and Wabash Avenue, although at least 20 are committed to a sea burial. General Scott makes “Rat Castle” (nickname for the Wolf Point tavern) his headquarters. Most civilians flee the settlement.

On July 28 an article appears in Niles` Weekly Register, published in Baltimore by H. Niles: “… From the army, &c;. Of the 220 men conveyed up the lake in the steamboat Sheldon Thompson, 1 officer and 51 privates had died and 80 were on the sick list, when she left [on the 15th] Chicago. The inhabitants of the village had generally abandoned the place. … Five officers, including gen. Scott, had been attacked by the cholera, but were considered out of danger. ….”

On August 6, Philo Carpenter opens the first drugstore, likely in Mark Beaubien’s small log cabin on the southeast corner of Lake and Market streets, adjacent to the Sauganash Tavern.

On August 19, the first meeting of a Sunday school class is held under Philo Carpenter’s direction in an unfinished log building on the Fort Dearborn reservation; 13 children and five adults attend.

In August, a Cook County election is held and 114 votes cast: Joseph Duncan of Jacksonville is elected to Congress, James M. Strode of Galena as state senator, Benjamin Mills of Galena as state representative, Stephen Forbes as sheriff, and Elijah Wentworth, Jr., as coroner.

On September 15, the so-called “Black Hawk Purchase” is signed at Fort Armstrong with the defeated Sauk and Fox, but also with the Winnebago, ceding their remaining homeland in southeastern Wisconsin and northwestern Illinois, as well as a 50-mile-wide strip of land in Iowa, along the west bank of the Mississippi. By eliminating the Indian threat to homesteaders on the Illinois prairies, this treaty contributes much to the steady stream of newly arriving Easterners in Chicago.

In the autumn, the number of new arrivals in Chicago reveals a rapid increase, fanned by (1) the relative safety from Indian attacks, resulting from the victory over Black Hawk and the subsequent Treaty of Fort Armstrong; (2) glowing reports of the fertile lands of Illinois, spread by soldiers returning east from the Black Hawk War; and (3) the developing Illinois & Michigan Canal fever. Most immigrants continue west from Chicago following refreshment, inquiry, and supply acquisition, but a significant number recognize the settlement’s potential and remain.

On October 20, another treaty is concluded with the Potawatomi; a large area of land south of Chicago, between Lake Michigan and the Illinois River, is ceded to the United States. Annual annuities are promised and monetary claims are paid to many Chicagoans.

On November 2, John S.C. Hogan, co-owner and manager of a variety store at the northeast corner of South Water and Lake streets, becomes the second postmaster, following Bailey. Hogan subdivides the store with separate doors and uses the eastern half as a post office.

Also during this year, the first two bridges across the Chicago River are built, both made of floating heavy logs strung together, and capable of being detached to let river traffic pass. Samuel Miller builds the first one across the north branch at the present Kinzie Street level, replacing the 1829 ferry. The brothers Anson and Charles Taylor build the second bridge across the south branch just north of Randolph Street. Heavier than Miller’s bridge, it supports wagons, and will be in service until 1840; see maps. The first major surgical procedure is performed in Chicago by Dr. Harmon, who removes the frozen foot of a métis mail carrier. The German born John Planck comes to Chicago with the Ebinger brothers; by the year 1834 they will have all removed to Dutchman’s Point [Niles], where Planck will open his tavern in 1835.


On February 3 Dr. Philip Maxwell arrives as the 12th of the Fort Dearborn surgeons, replacing Dr. DeCamp and serving at the fort together with Dr. George F. Turner, who is the 13th and last physician appointed to the fort. Dr. Maxwell will later become a private medical practitioner in town.

In February, Kinzie’s Addition to Chicago is platted by George W. Snow, acting under Captain Hunter’s direction and in the presence of John H. Kinzie; bounded on the south by the river (with the sand bar at the river’s mouth understood by some to be included), west by State Street, east by the lakeshore, and north by Chicago Avenue.

In March, the U.S. Congress votes and President Andrew Jackson signs an appropriation of $25,000 for construction of a Chicago harbor.

Also in March, a state road connecting Chicago with the left bank of the Wabash River, opposite Vincennes, is completed.

On April 17, the first shipment of western produce (287 bbls. beef, 14 bbls. tallow, 152 hides [4,659 lbs.], and 2 bbls. beeswax) leaves the port of Chicago for the East on Oliver Newberry’s schooner Napoleon.

On May 1 Father St. Cyr arrives, the first Catholic priest permanently assigned to Chicago; on May 5 he conducts his first Mass, then proceeds to organize St. Mary’s parish.

On May 14, Capt. and Bvt. Maj. John Fowle, Fifth Infantry, reassumes command at Fort Dearborn to serve until June 19.

On May 19, Presbyterian minister Rev. Jeremiah Porter, recently accompanying a troop transfer from Fort Brady to Fort Dearborn, preaches his first sermon in the fort’s carpentry shop; on June 26 he organizes the First Presbyterian Church with nine settlers and 17 others from Fort Dearborn.

Spring weather revives Chicago’s marked acceleration of population growth that had begun in the preceding fall, slowing during the winter; the population will increase exponentially for the next three years.

Also in the spring, the lake schooner Austerlitz, owned by Oliver Newberry, carries east the first shipment of pork from Chicago.

The brick manufacturer Tyler Blodgett arrives and builds a kiln on the north bank between Clark and Dearborn streets, employs the German immigrant brickmaker Heinrich Lampmann, and together they operate the first brickyard.

On June 19, Maj. George Bender, Fifth Infantry, assumes command at Fort Dearborn to serve until October 31. On the same day, John Dean Caton arrives and soon opens his law office in Dr. Temple’s building on Lake Street; within six months, Caton will be appointed town attorney.

On July 1, construction of the Chicago harbor begins under the supervision of Maj. Bender, with the building of a set of piers through the sand bar that blocks the harbor mouth. The military has little experience or expertise in such matters, and six years of on-and-off work will be necessary to complete the project, at a cost overrun of more than $100,000.

In late July, at a meeting of the “Qualified Electors” of the Chicago precinct of Cook County in the Peter Pruyne & Co. drugstore, a 12-to-1 vote is cast for the incorporation of the “Town of Chicago” [pursuant to the Act of Incorporation of February 12, 1831], Thomas J.V. Owen, presiding; Dr. Edmund S. Kimberly, secretary; voting for incorporation: Owen, Kimberly, John S.C. Hogan, C.A. Ballard, George W. Snow, Richard J. Hamilton, Dr. J.T. Temple, John W. Wright, George W. Dole, Hiram Pearsons, Alanson Sweet and Mark Beaubien; against: Russell Heacock.

On August 5, a notice is posted of an election to be held on August 10, for the purpose of choosing five trustees for a village board.

On August 10, the first village board, consisting of five trustees, is elected and meets in the Sauganash Hotel to organize the town government. The trustees are: Indian Agent Thomas J.V. Owen, George W. Dole, Madore B. Beaubien, John Miller, and Dr. Edmund S. Kimberly. The board defines the town limits as follows: “Beginning at the intersection of Jackson and Jefferson streets; thence north to Cook street, and through that street to its eastern extremity in Wah-bon-seh; thence on a direct line to Ohio street in Kinzie’s addition; thence eastwardly to the lake shore; thence south with the line of beach to the northern United States pier; thence northwardly along said pier to its termination; thence to the channel of the Chicago River; thence along said channel until it intersects the eastern boundary line of the town of Chicago, as laid out by the canal commissioners; thence southwardly with said line until it meets Jackson street; thence westwardly along Jackson street until it reaches the place of beginning.” [Ordinance 1, extended on November 6] Also see map.

On August 12, the new village board of trustees elects Col. Thomas J.V. Owen as its president and appoints Isaac Harmon as village clerk.

Also during August, Colbee C. Benton, a traveler from New Hampshire, visits Chicago and later prepares a detailed journal of this trip:
(Tuesday Aug 20) — I have had a good opportunity to view the town and country about, and I find Chicago a very pleasant place, as I have before thought. It is situated on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Chicago River, and already it has the appearance of considerable business. It is laid out into lots on each side of the river, and between the two branches, which come together about one mile from the lake. The lots are mostly owned by the United States government and the state of Illinois. and can not be sold until the legislatures meet again, which will not take place until sometime in 1834. The lots being owned as they are is of great disadvantage to the place and to the appearance of it. It prevents the erection of good buildings, for no one would be willing to risk a large amount of property on public land which must be brought into market and sold under the hammer. … At present the town presents a singular and very peculiar appearance. The lots, many of them, are improved with temporary buildings, some not more than ten feet square, and they are scattered about like cattle on the prairie. They are mostly new. I believe there has been one hundred built this year, all without any regard to beauty, and they are set on blocks so that they can move them at the shortest notice. It will depend some on the length of the purse of the occupant whether the building shall be moved at the time the lots come into the market. … The north side of the river is partly owned by individuals, but it is not much settled yet; some few buildings near the lake. The settlements are in the forks of the river (which consists of one new tavern house two stories high, one other old-looking tavern, one large store building, and a number of log dwellings), and on the south side is the most, which consists of two large, two-story taverns, three or four large storehouses, and a great number of small dwellings and shops. This street [originally Water Street, now Upper Wacker Drive] extends to the land occupied for the Fort, and is the principal place of business. … The Fort and public buildings are situated on the shore of the river and lake, and it is much the most pleasant part of the town, rendered more pleasant on account of its being elevated a little higher than the rest of the land about. Fort Dearborn, as it is called, is an old fort and it has that appearance, except that the buildings have lately been whitewashed, which makes it appear a little more respectable. It is surrounded by a post fence which would not be much protection against a few pieces of heavy cannon. It answers, and has answered very well, however, as a good and safe refuge from the revenge and cruelty of the savages. It is occupied at present by two companies of forty-eight men each, but in all probability they will soon be unnecessary residents. If emigration continues at the same rate it has done the past season, the country will very soon be able to defend themselves; when that time comes the soldiers will be removed to some other station and the land will be sold and laid out and made to constitute a part of the town. The inhabitants are a singular collection of beings. “All nations and kindred and people and tongues.” Black and white and red and grey, and they live in all manner of ways. Some men do their own cooking. I saw one little hovel which contained a family, and near it was two stakes and a pole across it where they hung on the pot and done all their cooking, & all of it in the principal street. I was surprised to observe the masculine appearance of the women. They were in the street as much as the men, and seemed to prefer a seat outside of their dwelling places rather than to sit down under their own roof. And finally I have seen a good deal to surprise, interest, and amuse me for the few days that I have remained here.

In August Chicago’s population stands at between 150 and 200. Among these are four physicians: Assistant Surgeon Philip Maxwell (at Fort Dearborn), Dr. Elijah D. Harmon, Dr. Edward S. Kimberly, and Dr. John T. Temple. There are also nine lawyers: Russell E. Heacock, Richard J. Hamilton, Lewis C. Kercheval, Robert Nelson Murray, Giles Spring, John Dean Caton, Alexander N. Fullerton, Edward W. Casey, and Peter D. Hugunin.

Also in August, the New York land speculators Arthur Bronson and Charles Butler visit Chicago and in time proceed to buy 19 town blocks and 80 acres of adjoining land, later selling most of it at enormous profits before the collapse of land prices in 1837.

On September 4, George W. Dole is named treasurer of the town of Chicago by the town board of trustees.

On September 26, a treaty is signed in Chicago between the United States and an assembled c.6,000 members of the so-called United Bands of Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi, who surrender their remaining claims to Illinois land [c.5,000,000 acres] and agree to be relocated to reservations west of the Mississippi River by the end of 1835, in exchange for half a million dollars in cash, with an equal amount allocated for annuities to be paid later.

Also in September, two visitors from the East, Charles J. Latrobe and Patrick Shirreff, arrive and witness the town and the ongoing land cession treaty with the Indians; Latrobe left an account of what he observed in his book, The Rambler in North America, and Shirreff in his book, A Tour Through North America; Together with a Comprehensive View of the Canadas and the United States, as Adapted for Agricultural Emigration. Excerpts of Latrobe’s experience follow: Meanwhile, the village and its occupants presented a most motley scene. The fort contained within its palisades by far the most enlightened residents in the little knot of officers attached to the slender garrison. The quarters here consequently were too confined to afford place of residence for the Government Commissioners, for whom and a crowd of dependents, a temporary set of plank huts were erected on the north side of the river. … Next in rank to the Officers and Commissioners may be noticed certain store-keepers and merchants resident here, looking either to the influx of new settlers establishing themselves in the neighborhood, of those passing yet farther to the westward, for custom and profit, not to forget the chance of extraordinary occasions like the present. Add to these a doctor or two, two or three lawyers, a [government] land agent, and five or six hotel keepers. These may be considered as stationary, and proprietors of the half a hundred clapboard houses around you. Then for the birds of passage, exclusive of the Pottawatamies, of whom more anon, and emigrants and land speculators, as numerous as the sand. You will find horse-dealers and horse stealers—rogues of every description—white, black, brown, and red; half-breeds, quarter-breeds, and men of no breed at all; dealers in pigs, poultry, and potatoes; men pursuing Indian claims, some for tracts of land, others, like our friend ‘Snipe,’ for pigs which the wolves had eaten; creditors of the tribes, or of particular Indians, who know that they have no chance of getting their money if they do not get it from the Government Agents; sharpers of every degree; peddlars, grog-sellers; Indian Agents and Indian traders, of every description, and contractors to supply the Pottawatamies with food. The little village was in an uproar from morning to night, and from night to morning; for during the hours of darkness, when the housed portion of the population of Chicago strove to obtain repose in the crowded plank edifices of the village, the Indians howled, sang, wept, yelled, and whooped in their various encampments. With all this, the whites seemed to me to be more pagan than the red men. You will have understood, that the large body of Indians collected in the vicinity consisted not merely of chiefs and warriors, but in fact the greater part of the whole tribe were present; for where the warrior was invited to feast, at the expense of the Government, the squaw took care to accompany him; and where the squaw went, the children or papooses, the ponies, and the innumerable dogs followed, and here they all were living merrily at the cost of the Government. … The interior of the village was one chaos of mud, rubbish, and confusion. Frame and clapboard houses were springing up daily under the active axes and hammers of the speculators, and piles of lumber announced the preparation for yet other edifices of an equally light character. Races occurred frequently on a piece of level sward without the village, on which temporary booths afforded the motley multitude the means of ‘stimulating,’ and betting and gambling were the order of the day. Within the vile two-storied barrack, which, dignified as usual by the title of hotel, afforded us quarters, all was in a state of most appalling confusion, filth, and racket. The public table was such a scene of confusion that we avoided it from necessity. The French landlord was a sporting character, and everything was left to chance, who, in the shape of a fat housekeeper, fumed and toiled round the premises from morning to night. Within there was neither peace nor comfort, and we spent much of our time in the open air. A visit to the gentlemen at the fort, a morning’s grouse-shooting, or a gallop on the broad surface of the prairie, filled up the intervals in our perturbed attempts at reading or writing indoors, while awaiting the progress of the treaty. …

In September, Eliza Chappel opens a school in the log cabin that had been the initial store of John S. Wright, at the southeast corner of Lake and Market streets.

In the autumn, the first jail is built on the northwest corner of the public square, existing until 1853.

On October 8, Asahel Pierce arrives and soon opens a blacksmith shop on the west bank (Lake and Canal streets) to manufacture his “bull plow.”

On October 16, John Calhoun arrives with his two apprentices and printing equipment, and moves into an unfinished building at the southwest corner of South Water and Clark, from which he will soon begin to publish the Chicago Democrat.

On October 19, Rev. Allen B. Freeman, who had come two months earlier with his wife, organizes the first Baptist church of Chicago.

Between October 20 and 24, by order of the County School Commissioner Colonel Hamilton, all but four of the 144 blocks in the school section [Section 16; immediately south of the town, between Madison Street and Roosevelt Road] go on public sale at an average price of $6.72 per acre, and bring $38,865—a larger than anticipated yield. John Bates is the auctioneer.

On October 23, Charles Cleaver arrives and later will build a soap factory on the south side. Also that day, George David arrives from the East and records:
Oct. 23. Completed today the remaining 13 miles of our journey and entered the long looked for town of Chicago at night fall, and after much trouble in seeking for an asylum; put up by the recommendation of Mr. Winson at Brown’s boarding house, thus terminating our wanderings and here we found a resting place, here we “lit on the spot we could call ‘home.’ ” The day had been fine & mild, hardly a zephyr breathed to ripple the glass surface of the lake, but when we reached the open prairie the wind arose and before morning it blew so hard that I fancied the roof of the boarding house in which we were would have fallen about my ears but the roof being stronger than my faith it was in the same elevated condition when I awoke as when I went to sleep.

On October 31, Capt. D. Wilcox, Fifth Infantry, assumes command at Fort Dearborn and serves until December 18.

Also in October, St. Mary’s Church opens its door as the first Catholic church.

On November 6, the town board of trustees extends the town’s boundaries by adding to the existing official town area the tract bounded by State Street on the west, Ohio Street on the north, the lakeshore on the east, and Jackson Street on the south.

On November 7, the town board of trustees adopts the first code of local laws; the document bears no seal but is attested by “Isaac Harmon, Secretary.” The ordinances will be published in the Chicago Democrat, beginning on December 10.

On November 8, Gov. John Reynolds of Illinois acknowledges Town President Owen’s request for a special session of the legislature to consider construction of a railroad from Chicago to the Illinois River.

On November 16, the carpenter and shipwright Nelson R. Norton moves to Chicago; in the spring of 1834 he will build the Dearborn Street drawbridge.

On November 26, the first issue of the Chicago Democrat appears.

On December 4, John Dean Caton is appointed town attorney by the board of trustees; George W. Snow is appointed town assessor and surveyor; and a committee for bridges and ferries is selected, consisting of G.W. Dole, Madore Beaubien, Dr. Kimberly, and John Miller.

On December 10, the Chicago Democrat prints the first village ordinances.

On December 18, Maj. John Green, Fifth Infantry, assumes command at Fort Dearborn and serves until Sept. 16, 1835.

On the same day, Granville T. Sproat opens the private English and Classical School for Boys in a small building on South Water Street, corner of Franklin.

On December 31, the Chicago Democrat prints additional new ordinances.

Also in this year, Gurdon S. Hubbard formally moves from Danville, Illinois, but in preceding years he has spent so much time in Chicago that the villagers already consider him as one of their own.

The stonemason Alanson Sweet and the plasterer William Worthingham build Chicago’s first brick house under contract for John Noble on the north side of the river [Kinzie Street], on a lot adjacent to the later Lake House Hotel.

The first Tremont House is built and then run by Alanson Sweet at the northwest corner of Lake and Dearborn. Dexter Graves and Rufus Brown open their boarding houses, and Wentworth’s Buckhorn Tavern opens on Flag Creek.

Silas B. Cobb builds the two-story Green Tree Tavern for James Kinzie, later to be called Chicago Hotel, and later yet, Lake Street House.

George W. Dole, as agent for Oliver Newberry, opens the first slaughterhouse; in the following year, the first beef will be exported to the East.

Jerry Church revisits Chicago from Cleveland; an excerpt from his journal of impressions and commentaries follow: We there took the beach of the Michigan lake and followed it to Chicago, and there we found a large town built up in three years; for it was only three years since we were there with the black oxen and wagon, and at that time there were but half a dozen houses in the place. It was very surprising what improvements had been made in the western country in that short time. Look at an Indian wigwam town changed into an American city in the course of three or four years! I know of a number of places in the west that would have been improved in the same way, if the government had let the currency alone, and had not taken what I call the one thing needful from us. The consequence now is, the land lies uncultivated, and nothing but a wild Indian sitting wrapped up in a red blanket on a log, where we might have had a good native American, or at least some imported voters from “the land of steady habits,” to have been the cultivators at this time.

John Bates remembers that “… [i]n 1833 the settlement of the new town, so far as buildings showed, was mostly on what is now Water Street. … Up and down Water Street, between what is now State and Wells streets, now Fifth Avenue, all the business houses and stores were built. Also nearly all the cabins for dwellings. You could from every store and dwelling, look north across the river, as there were no buildings on what is now the north side of that [South Water] street. At that time a slough [Frog Creek] emptied into the river, at what is now the foot of State Street, and was a sort of bayeau of dead water through which scows could be run up as far as Randolph Street, near the corner of Dearborn, and there was a dry creek up as far as where the Sherman House now stands. There was a foot-bridge of four logs run lengthwise across the creek near the mouth of the creek.”

Charles Cleaver recounts: … There was very little visiting done among the ladies, as they had all they could attend to at home, servant-girls being very scarce: in fact the house of those days were not well calculated for company, most of them being about 16×20, a story and a-half, with a lean-to. The house we lived in that winter, on the corner of Kinzie and Rush Streets, was about as large as any in town: but unfortunately it was not completed, being neither lathed nor plastered, not even sheathed, and we had nothing to protect us from the weather when the thermometer marked near 20 degrees below zero but rough siding nailed on the studs. Fortunately we had warm clothing and would almost roast in front of a huge woodfire in the large chimney, common in those days, while our backs were covered with thick cloaks to keep from freezing. I actually had my cup freeze to the saucer while sitting at the table at breakfast. Stoves were not to be had, and cooking was done under great disadvantages. Pots were boiled from a hanging hook over the fire, and bread baked in a baking pot, with hot wood-ashes above and below it. … Then the water was brought from the river in pails. … Before spring flour became so scarce that $28 a barrel was given for it, and it was a favor to get it at that. It was the same with other commodities that we now think absolutely necessary for our tables. Potatoes were not to be had: butter the same: and we were at last reduced to beef, pork, and corn-meal. I think the molasses did hold out, but corn-meal cakes were generally eaten with pork fat. … [145]


“A mild autumn is followed by a severe winter, with the temperature dropping to minus 29 degrees.”

Charles Cleaver remembers: The fact is, that in the winter of 1833-34 amusements of any kind were few and far between, although we made the most of what there were. One fine moonlight night, when the ice was good, the whole of Chicago turned out for a skate and a frolic, and we had it. There must have been at least a hundred persons on the river between Wells Street and the Forks. Then we had good sleighing for a short time, and you would have laughed to have seen the splendid turnouts improvised from crockery crates and sugar hogheads. There were only two cutters [small, light sleighs, drawn by one horse] in town, but it did not take many tools or much time to make something that would glide over the frozen snow. A good handy fellow with an ax, drawing-knife, and augur would go into the woods, cut down two straight young saplings, shave off a little where they bent up for the thills [shafts for hitching horses], bore six or eight holes, in which they drove the standards a foot high, put cross-pieces on, on which they laid the crate, filled that with hay, and the sleigh was ready for use in less than half a day. The same plan was pursued with the sugar hoghead, only that was cut half-way down in front and a seat put across in the back, and you had a sleigh which, covered with robes, was as warm and as comfortable as the best of cutters. … Then the young bloods of the town—we used to have such even in those days—got up a splendid sleighing party, I think it was on the 1st of January, when they came out with the government yawl-boat on runners, drawn by four good horses, and covered with robes, with as many bells jingling on the harness as they could find in the village, and thus equipped they made the streets ring again with their merriment and laughter. [145]


On January 1 Charles Fenno Hoffmann, author and visitor from New York, arrives in Chicago. Of his visit he left an account in A Winter in the Far West, by a New Yorker; he writes in the New York American, No. XVIII, 1834:
Chicago, Jan. 10, 1834—I have been here more than ten days, without fulfilling the promise given in my last. It has been so cold, indeed, as almost to render writing impracticable in a place so comfortless. The houses were built with such rapidity during the summer as to be mere shells; and the thermometer having ranged as low as 29 below zero during several days,

it has been almost impossible, notwithstanding the large fires kept up by the attentive landlord, to prevent the ink from freezing while using it, and one’s fingers become so numb in very few moments when thus exercised, that, after vainly trying to write in gloves, I have thrown by my pen, and joined the group composed of all the household around the bar-room fire. This room, which is in an old log cabin aside of the main house, is one of the most comfortable places in town, and is, of course, much frequented, business being, so far as one can judge from the concourse that throng it, nearly at a stand still. Several persons have been severely frostbitten in passing from door to door; and, not to mention the quantity of poulty and pigs that have been frozen, an ox, I was just told, has perished from cold in the streets at noonday. An occasional Indian, wrapped in his blanket, and dodging about from store to store after a dram of whiskey, or a muffled Frenchman, driving furiously in his cariole on the river, are almost the only passengers abroad; while the wolves, driven in by the deep snows which preceded this severe weather, troop through the town after nightfall, and may be heard howling continually in the midst of it. … The situation of Chicago, on the edge of the Grand Prairie, with the whole expanse of Lake Michigan before it, gives the freezing winds from the Rocky Mountains prodigious effect, and renders a degree of temperature which, in sheltered situations, is but little felt, almost painfull here.
—The bleak winds
Do sorely ruffle; for many a mile about,
There’s scarce a bush. H

On January 7, the publication date of the seventh issue of the Chicago Democrat, Nelson P. Perry, a “man of color,” announces that he is in town for the next three weeks and “at all times ready to furnish music.”

On January 28, the 10th issue of the Chicago Democrat announces meetings of the Chicago Temperance Society at the Presbyterian meeting house and of the Polemic Society of Chicago, to debate the issues of Congress and of internal improvements. From the editorial in that issue, reflecting the sudden momentum acquired by the town’s growth rate during the past year, John Calhoun writes: In some of the first numbers of our paper we made some very general remarks, respecting Chicago and vicinity, but we find from the many letters of inquiry, &c.; that arrive in every mail from all parts of the United States, that our observations were far too limited; and having become more acquainted with the surrounding country, from longer residence in it, we shall again resume the subject in a more particular manner. … Chicago is situate on the river of the same name, which is divided into the north and south branches, about three-quarters of a mile from its mouth. These branches come from nearly opposite directions, from whose junction the river runs in nearly a due east course, till it empties into the Lake. The River from the junction to the Lake, is over two-hundred feet in width, and from twenty to thirty feet in depth, and both branches are navigable for several miles for vessels of any size. The town is situate on both sides of the river and branches, extending from the Lake some considerable distance west of the junction. … The Spring of 1833, may be marked as a new era in the history of Chicago, and in fact all the Northern parts of the State of Illinois: or indeed that may be referred to as the commencement of their improvement. At that time Chicago did not contain more than five or six regular stores, and now may be counted from twenty to twenty-five; then it did not contain over one hundred and fifty inhabitants, whereas now there are from eight to ten hundred; then it did not contain more than thirty buildings, now may be seen over one hundred and eighty. … During the past summer, eighty vessels have arrived, bringing goods and property to a vast amount: yet notwithstanding the immense importation of merchandize during the past season, hardly three good assortments could now be made out in this place. After the fall stock of Goods had arrived, every store was crowded to excess—now they look quite empty. But the mercantile business has not alone flourished; indeed that in the business of Chicago, has been of but small moment. Building and real improvements have been the great order of the day. To describe the want that has been for building materials and mechanics, would be only to incite incredulity.

Also in January, Ashbel Steele keeps the Eagle Hotel in town.

On February 2, the 11th issue of the Chicago Democrat announces the appointment of Lt. James Allen as superintendent of harbor.

On February 11, the 12th issue of the Chicago Democrat announces the schedule of mail arrival and departure from all directions, and informs the public that the village board has again revised the town boundaries to include all land east of State Street, from Chicago Avenue on the north to 12th Street on the south, excepting the military reservation of Fort Dearborn.

On Saturday, February 15, the Chicago River rises three feet and swells to an unusual volume and force, due to heavy rains on the two preceding days. The occurrence is fortuitous—in conjunction with the southern pier that had been constructed in 1833, under Major Bender, the freshet facilitates ongoing harbor construction, under Lt. James Allen, by cutting a 30-foot-wide and 10-to-12-foot-deep channel through the large sand bar that had accumulated in front of the river outlet.

On February 18, the 13th issue of the Chicago Democrat announces: a new post office opening at Walker’s Grove [Plainfield]; a citizens’ “voice of people” meeting to discuss the communication between Lake Michigan and the Illinois River by canal or railroad, led by P.F.W. Peck and Richard J. Hamilton; and evening entertainment, arranged by Mr. Bowers, “Professeur de tours Amusant,” at Dexter Graves’ boarding house, on Monday, February 24.

On March 4, in the 15th edition of the Chicago Democrat appear the following notices: a new post office opens at the Napier settlement; and James Allen, agent, solicits offers of timber for harbor construction.

On March 28, the 17th edition of the Chicago Democrat carries the following notices: Rev. John M. Peck advertises his Guide for Emigrants, and announces the upcoming publication of his Gazettier of Illinois; Lt. E. Kirby Smith, post adjutant at Fort Dearborn under Major Green, announces a $30 reward to anyone who can provide information leading to the capture of William W. Morin, a soldier who has deserted.

On April 8, the 19th edition of the Chicago Democrat notifies its readers that an eclipse of the sun will take place on November 13, and that post office clerk Bates is looking for a man with some knowledge of gardening.

On May 4, the Michigan becomes the first steamboat to enter the Chicago River and pass through the recently completed Dearborn Street drawbridge; see map.

On May 14, the 24th edition of the Chicago Democrat announces that all free, white, male citizens over 18, under 45, are to meet “on the first Saturday in June” [June 2], at noon, at the house of the sheriff of Cook County, S. Forbes, on the west bank of the Des Plaines River, for the purpose of electing a colonel to organize the militia of Cook County. [Jean Baptiste Beaubien was elected, and the losing candidate was John Mann; eds.]

On May 21, the 25th edition of the Chicago Democrat informs readers that 250 to 600 people have arrived at Chicago during the past week, and that Edmund S. Kimberly will be a candidate for representative of the Illinois house.

In May regular sessions of the Circuit Court of Cook County begin in Chicago, under the Hon. Richard M. Young. Also this month the first divorce under local Chicago jurisdiction takes place, namely between Daniel and Angelina Vaughan (née Herbert), with Angelina suing.

On June 11, the second recorded public commercial entertainment performance takes place, that given by Mr. Kenworthy, ventriloquist.

The Chicago Democrat of June 18 publishes the first advertisement for Joshua Hathaway’s map: “Lithographic Maps of Chicago. * Mr. Jno. H. Kinzie procured while in New York a few copies of Lithographic maps of this Town. They are beautifully executed, and contain the Town Plat, together with the School Section, Wabansia, and Kinzie’s Addition.”

On June 19, Chicago’s first public concert is given by Mr. C. Blisse.

On June 21, Cyrus Hall McCormick is granted a patent for his reaping machine. [He did not remove from Cincinnati to Chicago until 1847; eds.]

There had been intermitent Methodist sermons since 1826, but this summer the congregation is formally organized, and on June 30 a contract is signed for building the First Methodist Church at the corner of North Water and Clark streets, to be built by John Stewart and Rev. Henry Whitehead at a cost of $580. On the same day Miss Catherine Bayne, from Scotland, opens a boarding and day school for young ladies on Randolph Street, between Clark and Dearborn.

On July 12, the Illinois becomes the first major sailing vessel to enter the river under full sail, “her top-masts covered with flags and streamers,” passing the Dearborn Street drawbridge and docking at Newberry & Dole’s wharf.

On July 14, John D. Caton is elected justice of the peace with a vote count of 172 to 47. Judge Caton would later remember that it was not until the spring of 1834, that Chicago streets became a reality, though platted four years earlier: “… There was not even a wagon track upon any street in Chicago. Every one drove where he pleased across the Prairie from one building to another. It was early in that spring of 1834 that I found myself at the crossing of Dearborn and Lake streets looking west; and for the first time I could see where the street was by the line of buildings on either side of it. This was the first time I ever noticed a street in Chicago made perceptible by the buildings on both sides of it. Then for the first time could I fully realize that our little settlement was assuming the appearance of a town.”

In the summer, Postmaster Hogan moves the post office from Lake and South Water streets to a blacksmith shop, which he rents from Mathias Mason, on the southwest corner of Franklin and South Water streets, where Thomas Watkins becomes postal assistant.

On August 11, John H. Kinzie is elected president of the town board of trustees, replacing Thomas J.V. Owen; elected with him as board members are G.S. Hubbard, E. Goodrich, J.K. Boyer, and John S.C. Hogan.

On August 26, Aaron Russell and Benjamin H. Clift open Chicago’s first book and stationery store on South Water Street, between Wells and LaSalle.

On September 1, the town trustees pass the first Sunday liquor law, providing for a $5 fine for the offence of keeping a tippling house or grocery store open on Sundays, with half of the amount going to the complainant.

On September 25, the town is divided into four wards, and a firewarden is appointed for each: first ward—W. Worthington; second ward—E.E. Hunter; third ward—Samuel Resique; and fourth ward—James Kinzie.

On October 2, the town trustees authorize the borrowing of $60, Chicago’s first loan on the faith of the community; the funds are intended to drain and improve State Street.

On October 6, John Sweeney shoots the last bear [400 pounds] in Chicago, in the woods near Randolph Street, between LaSalle and the river; occasional sightings continue to be reported near the town as late as 1837.

The first murder trial occurs in early October. The laborer John Fitzpatrick had beaten his wife, Elizabeth, and she died from the injuries; attorney James Collins’ excellent defense causes the jury to acquit the defendant.

On October 12 Rev. Palmer Dyer, who had arrived two days earlier, gives Chicago’s first Episcopal service to the newly organized St. James Episcopal congregation at the Presbyterian Church, by the gracious invitation of Rev. J. Porter. Soon thereafter, John Kinzie furnished a building on the southeast corner of State [then Wolcott] and Kinzie streets as a place of worship; in 1840, this building will become known as “Tippecanoe Hall.”

On October 21 the following notice appeared in the Chicago Democrat:
On Saturday last [October 16], about 10 o’clock a.m., a building on the corner of Lake and LaSalle streets, and the one attached, were discovered to be in flames. Our citizens repaired to the scene of conflagration with a promptitude worthy of commendation and succeeded in arresting its progress, after distroying [sic] two other buildings adjoining. The wind being high at the time, threatened the destruction of a number of the surrounding houses, but, by the exscertion [sic] of our citizens, were saved from the devastation. The loss of the sufferers will be severely felt, as some of them lost their all. A building on the corner, occupied as a dwelling, loss $300. There was in the house $220 in money, $125, being in Jackson money, was found in the ruins. The remainder, the rag currency, was destroyed. A building owned and occupied as a cabinet shop, and another building as a grocery by H. Rhines, together with dwelling, furniture and tools, loss $1,200. A building owned and occupied as a dwelling by James Spence, loss $500. The fire commenced by a coal from a shovel in carrying from one building to another. The want of suitable officers to take charge and oversee in cases of fire is much felt, and we understand the Trustees have suitable regulations in respect to it.

On October 18, a Chicago Cemetery Association is organized for the purpose of finding sufficient burial space, other than the then common practice of burying deceased relatives on private family property.

On the evening of October 24, a spontaneous meeting of prominent citizens is held at the Presbyterian Church to adopt measures to suppress gambling. Col. R.J. Hamilton opens the meeting, Col. John H. Kinzie presides, and Hans Crocker is appointed secretary. A committee of nine is appointed to ascertain the extent of gambling in the town and to identify those engaged, while another committee of five is appointed to draft resolutions. On October 25 all meet again and adopt seven prepared resolutions, acting under authority of existing anti-gambling laws of the state of Illinois. The resolutions are published in the next Chicago Democrat [October 29].

On October 28 a large number of Indians gather in Chicago to receive their annual annuity in trade goods, in accordance with the provisions of the Chicago Treaty of the previous year. Poorly organized, the distribution of goods becomes tumultuous. A brief description appears in the Chicago Democrat of November 5: “On Monday of last week, the Indian annuities were paid. Considerable drunkenness among the Indians was observed, but we are informed that the evil was greatly diminished from last year. A number died while there, and two Indians were killed by being stabbed by others.”

John Calhoun’s 1854 eyewitness account of the 1834 distribution of the promised annuity of trade goods follows.
About $30,000 worth of goods were to be distributed. They assembled to the number of about 4000. The distribution took place by piling the whole quantity in a heap upon the prairie on the west side of the river near the corner of Randolph and Canal streets. The Indians were made to sit down upon the grass in a circle around the pile of goods—their squaws sitting behind them. The half-breeds and traders were appointed to distribute the goods, and they leizurely walked to the pile and taking an armful proceeded to throw to one and another of those sitting upon the grass, and to whom they were appointed to distribute, such articles as they saw fit, and then returned to the pile to replenish. Shortly the Indians began to show an anxiety not to be overlooked in the distribution and at first got on their knees, vociferating all the time in right lusty Indian gibberish. Then they rose on one foot, and soon all were standing, and they began to contract the circle until they finally made a rush for the pile. I saw then a manner of dispersing a mob that I never saw exemplified before or since. The crowd was so great around the pile of goods that those who were back from them could not get to them and the outsiders at once commenced hurling whatever missiles they could get hold of, literally filling the air and causing them to fall in the center where the croud was most dense. These, to save a broken head, rushed away, leaving a space for those who had hurled the missiles to rush in for a share of the spoils.

In the autumn, a cholera vigilance committee is appointed by the town trustees. No cholera materializes, but the committee becomes the forerunner of the first Chicago Board of Health, to be established in 1835.

On November 10, the digging of a public well is authorized in the Kinzie Addition on the north side of the river (corner of Cass [Wabash] and Michigan [Hubbard] streets) at a cost of $95.50; this is the first community effort to provide villagers with pure water. Horse carts (backed into the lake and filled with water by means of a bucket) deliver the water, with prices varying from one shilling or five to 10 cents per barrel. [Not until January 18, 1836, will the Illinois State Legislature pass a law incorporating the Chicago Hydraulic Company, of which George W. Dole will be the president; the real estate panic of 1837 delayed organization and action of the company until 1840.]

On December 2, the Chicago Lyceum for Social and Intellectual Pursuits is formed by a group of book-oriented intellectuals. They hold weekly meetings in the courthouse for debating cultural subjects and for the purpose of accumulating a library.

Also this year, Mark Beaubien opens his second hotel, the Exchange Coffee House, later called the Illinois Exchange, and sometimes the New York Exchange, on the northwest corner of Lake and Wells; the establishment is initially run by Mr. and Mrs. John Murphy.

Lathrop Johnson and George Stevens begin building the New York House on the north side of Lake Street; they will open for business in 1835.

Charles Butler of New York organizes the American Land Co., through which he channels large funds to Chicago, fueling the land boom that began in 1833.

Shown is part of a manuscript map of Chicago that resulted from surveys John S. Wright adapted in this year. It formed the basis of the first printed map of the town. The large rectangular portion borded by Kinzie, Wolcott (now State), Madison, and DesPlaines streets represents the original town as surveyed four years earlier by James Thompson. It is flanked on its east by the Fort Dearborn reservation. North of Kinzie Street are shown part of the Kinzie Addition (east, with the unnumbered “Kinzie Block” between blocks 10 and 12) and the triangular Wabansia Addition, borded by Kinzie and Jefferson streets and the north branch of the river. Blocks and lots of real estate are systematically numbered. When trying to identify a numbered lot, one first needs to find the block. If the lots within a given block are not numbered, one can refer for guidance to the numbering system used in a nearby block within the same section. Also see Maps section, 1834, John S. Wright.


“A mild winter with little snow—front doors are open throughout the season, and cows graze on the river banks.”


On January 31, the state of Illinois authorizes Chicago to establish its own police force; prior to this time, law enforcement was a function of military authorities, the U.S. Indian agent, and later the county sheriff. Yet not until August 15 does the town board appoint the first police constable.

1835 May 26

This 1835 map of early Chicago housing distribution was assembled by Ron Mounce from information provided by Edwin O. Gale in his book, Reminiscenses of Early Chicago and Vicinity. [266]


Charles Cleaver notes: In the winter of 1835 and 1836, weekly dancing parties were inaugurated at the Lake House, and four-horse sleighs and wagons sent around to collect the fair ladies who attended them. … From this time society seemed to take upon itself a more decided form, rising from the chaos in which it had been before. … [145]

“Regular weather, pleasant winters—a few cold days in 1836—fields covered with plenty, no failures of crops known; fruit abundant; peaches fine.”


Peter Leslie comes to “Chicago on Lake Michigan” from Philadelphia, and in his letter home he describes the construction and the bustle of the new town. Hotels are springing up, land fever is in the air and ambition is everywhere. “The people of the West have a town-making mania,” he writes. “This one must succeed. The town has more natural advantages than any place I have yet seen and is destined to be the N. York of the West.”

On February 6, the General Assembly of Illinois approves the Chicago School System.

On February 11, the Illinois General Assembly endorses the Articles of Incorporation of the Town of Chicago which the town trustees had voted on August 10, 1833.

On February 12, the Illinois legislature grants a charter to the State Bank of Illinois, a branch of which will open in Chicago mid-December; this will be the first banking facility in town, with John H. Kinzie as president.

On May 16, the following article appears in the Niles’ Register: The public mind being at this time directed with considerable interest toward the town of Chicago in Illinois, as a place destined to take rank very soon among the first commercial cities of the west, a few remarks relating to the prospects of this place may not be uninteresting to the public: Chicago contains at present between three and four thousand inhabitants. Three years since it was only a military station. The state is rapidly settling with emigrants of industry and character as well as of means, and will soon out-run Ohio. Chicago is one of the finest harbors on Lake Michigan, and there can not be a finer one anywhere: twenty to twenty-five feet of water in front of the town, and completely embayed from any lake winds; and at the same time the town is not half a mile from the lake. Nature has done every thing to render Chicago the finest city of the west. It will command the trade of the Illinois River and Mississippi by means of the canal; and the west and east by the navigation of the lakes, and, as Hoffman says in his winter in the west, it is destined to be the New Orleans of the west. – It is stated, that New York has extended her long-armed speculation to Chicago—and that about 150 building lots, 40 feet front and of suitable depth, have been sold in that city, for $300 or $400 each.

Capt. Jack Wagstaff anchors the Illinois offshore near the north bank of the Chicago River on May 25 to unload cargo and a few families. The following day the Gale family arises and Edwin remembers: “We were ready for an early breakfast of fried perch and bass just out of the river, and venison steak, and griddle cakes with wild honey and maple syrup. We made haste with our meal, eager to get out for a stroll in order to view our surroundings, and become acquainted with the place that we felt was to be our future home. – What strikes us especially on going out is the entire absence of streets, of which, properly so called, there is not one, no, not even a ditch to mark the roads. Moreover, there is nothing to indicate where they ultimately will be, save the surveyor’s stakes. And, as there are no streets, so there are no sidewalks. Occasionally, near the houses, we come across stepping-blocks, short pieces of cord wood thrown down to keep pedestrians out of the mud, but by their use in the spring, they had, in most cases, been pressed down to near the level of the adjoining path.”

On May 28, the U.S. Land Office opens for the sale of land obtained through the 1833 Indian Treaty; the office is located above Thomas Church’s grocery store on the east side of Lake Street, between Clark and Dearborn. Receipts for land sales during the first two weeks exceed $500,000. Also this month, J.B. Beaubien purchases 75 acres of the Fort Dearborn reservation at the U.S. Land Office for $94, but the purchase will later be declared invalid by the Supreme Court (“Beaubien land case”).

On June 6 the following article appears in the Niles’ Register: Three years ago the number of inhabitants in Chicago was fifty-four,—now it is four thousand, including about forty merchants. Five churches have been erected, of various sizes, and for various denominations. A steamboat communication, twice a week, is established with Buffalo, and by sloops and schooners, flour is transported from one place to the other at a freight of 25 cents per barrel. Water lots, 45 feet deep by 200, have been sold at from two to seven thousand dollars. So much for the enterprise of freemen.

Also on June 6, Capt. William Gordon of the U.S. Army, in charge of an exploring party of Potawatomi and several white men, acquires supplies from Capt. J.B.F. Russell, disbursing agent in Chicago; soon after the party travels westward as far as Fort Leavenworth to scout suitable locations for Indian resettlement, an agreement of the 1833 Treaty at Chicago.

On June 8, the first issue of the second Chicago weekly, the Chicago American, appears; the date on the issue mistakenly reads May 8, a result of a printer’s error. The paper is published by editor and owner T.O. Davis, located on South Water Street, near the drawbridge.

On June 13 the Chicago American prints: “The actual amount of population of Chicago we cannot estimate with any degree of accuracy, but it is now supposed to be between 2500 and 3000. Strangers, to the amount of some hundreds more, fill our public houses and streets, our wharves are covered with men, women and children, just landed from the vessels, and even some storehouses have been thrown open to receive the unsheltered emigrants, who had else remained under the open sky upon the wharves.”

On June 19, the first board of health forms, replacing the Cholera Vigilante Committee; the board receives inadequate funding and is minimally active.

Also this month, the third town board election takes place. Hiram Hugunin becomes president, and elected as board members are W. Kimball, B. King, S. Jackson, E.B. Williams, F.C. Sherman, E. Loyd, and George Dole.

On June 29, the Michigan docks with the Hon. Lewis Cass, secretary of war, on board; leading townsmen, T.J.V. Owen and R.J. Hamilton, immediately invite him to a public dinner, though circumstance renders departure within hours; graciously he responds: “… But I beg leave to return my sincere thanks for the honor you have conferred on me, and for the favorable sentiments you have been pleased to express.”

On July 4, Postmaster Hogan announces new post office hours in the Chicago American: 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., adding “N.B. [nota bene, note well] Postage of Letters must be paid when taken: hereafter no credit will be given.”

On July 6, the Illinois Secretary of State A.P. Field certifies the Articles of Incorporation of the Town of Chicago, originally passed by the town trustees on August 10, 1833.

In the July 18, Chicago American editor Thomas Davis reports that “[t]he amount of money received at the Land Office in this town for lands sold from the 28th May till the close of the land sale is a little over 386,500 dollars, of which about 353,500 were for lands sold at auction, and the balance under the pre-emption law. The exact amount cannot as yet be ascertained.”

During the summer, the first building erected for specific school purposes is financed by John S. Wright and built by Joseph Meeker on the Presbyterian church’s property; Ruth Leavenworth is the teacher.

On August 5, a new town ordinance outlaws as a fire hazard the stacking of feed hay in the town’s central area.

On August 7, John Calhoun bills the town of Chicago $5, “To printing 100 bills [handbills] ‘Laws and Ordinances.’ ”

On August 15 the third village board appoints Orsemus Morrison as the first police constable, and the town surveyor is directed to lay out the first two cemeteries: 10 acres of land on the north side of the river (for Protestants; east of Clark Street, near Chicago Avenue), and 16 acres on the south side (for Catholics; at the foot of 23rd Street); each will be fenced in September, and thereafter burial will be forbidden elsewhere.

Also on that day, the Chicago American lists the first brewery among as many as 95 business enterprises in town—little doubt the Chicago Brewery, begun in June by the Crawfords.

On August 18, the Chicago Bible Society is organized and chooses Rev. Isaac T. Hinton as its first president; the society’s mission is to make Bibles available to all who can read.

Also that day, the last war dance of the Potawatomi takes place. The Indians had come to Chicago to receive their last annuity in preparation for their westward relocation. John D. Caton’s eyewitness description follows: … I shall close this paper with an account of the great war dance which was performed by all the braves which could be mustered among the five thousand Indians here assembled. The number who joined in the dance was probably about eight hundred. Although I can not give the precise day, it must have occurred about the last day of August, 1835. It was the last war dance ever performed by the natives on the ground where now stands this great city, though how many thousands have preceded it no one can tell. They appreciated that it was the last on their native soil—that it was a sort of funeral ceremony of old associations and memories, and nothing was omitted to lend to it all the grandeur and solemnity possible. Truly, I thought it an impressive scene, of which it is quite impossible to give an adequate idea by words alone. … They assembled at the council-house, where the Lake House now stands, on the north side of the river. All were entirely naked, except a strip of cloth around the loins. Their bodies were covered all over with a great variety of brilliant paints. – On their faces, particularly, they seemed to have exhausted their art of hideous decoration. Foreheads, cheeks, and noses were covered with curved stripes of red or vermillion, which were edged with black points, and gave the appearance of a horrid grin over the entire countenance. The long, course, black hair, was gathered into scalp locks on the top of their heads, and decorated with a profusion of hawk’s and eagle’s feathers, some strung together as to extend down the back nearly to the ground. They were principally armed with tomahawks and war clubs. They were led by what answered for a band of music, which created what may be termed a discordant din of hideous noises, produced by beating on hollow vessels and striking sticks and clubs together. They advanced, not with a regular march, but a continued dance. Their actual progress was quite slow. They proceeded up and along the bank of the river, on the north side, stopping in front of every house they passed, where they performed some extra exploits. They crossed the North Branch on the old bridge, which stood near where the railroad bridge now stands, and thence proceeded south along the west side to the bridge across the South Branch, which stood south of where Lake Street bridge is now located, which was nearly in front, and in full view from the parlor windows, of the Sauganash Hotel. At that time this was the rival hotel to the Tremont, and stood upon the ground lately occupied by the great Republican wigwam where Mr. Lincoln was nominated for the presidency—on the corner of Lake and Market streets. It was then a fashionable boarding-house, and quite a number of young married people had rooms there. The parlor was in the second story fronting west, from the windows of which the best view of the dance was to be obtained, and these were filled with ladies as soon as the dance commenced. From this point of view my own observations were principally made. Although the din and clatter had been heard for a considerable time, the Indians did not come into view from this point of observation till they had proceeded so far west as to come on line with the house, which was before they had reached the North Branch bridge. From that time on they were in full view all the way to the South Branch bridge, which was nearly before us, the wild band, which was in front as they came upon the bridge, redoubling their blows to increase the noise, closely followed by the warriors, who had now wrought themselves into a perfect frenzy. … The morning was very warm, and the perspiration was pouring from them almost in streams. Their eyes were wild and blood-shot. Their countenances had assumed an expression of all the worst passions which can find a place in the breast of a savage; fierce anger, terrible hate, dire revenge, remorseless cruelty, all were expressed in their terrible features. Their muscles stood out in great hard knots, as of wrought to a tension which must burst them. Their tomahawks were thrown and brandished about in every direction, with the most terrible ferocity, and with a force and energy which could only result from the highest excitement, and with every step and every gesture they uttered the most frightful yells, in every imaginable key and note, though generally the highest and shrillest possible. The dance, which was ever continued, consisted of leaps and spasmodic steps, now forward and now back and sideways, with the whole body distorted into every imaginable unnatural position, most generally stooping forward, with the head and face thrown up, the back arched down, first one foot thrown far forward and then withdrawn, and the other similarly thrust out, frequently squatting quite to the ground, and all with a movement almost as quick as lightning. Their weapons were brandished as if they would slay a thousand enemies at every blow, while the yells and screams they uttered were broken up and multiplied and rendered all the more hideous by a rapid clapping of the mouth with the palm of the hand. … To see such an exhibition by a single individual would have been sufficient to excite a sense of fear in a person not over nervous. Eight hundred such, all under the influence of the strongest and wildest excitement, constituting a raging sea of dusky, painted, naked fiends, presented a spectacle absolutely appalling. … When the head of the column had reached the front of the hotel, leaping, dancing, gesticulating, and screaming, while they looked up, with hell itself depicted in their faces, at the “chemokoman squaws” [chemokoman, meaning ‘great-knife,’ ‘American’] in the windows, and brandished their weapons as if they were about to make a real attack in deadly earnest, the rear was still on the other side of the river, two hundred yards off; and all the intervening space, including the bridge and its approaches, was covered with this raging savagery glistening in the sun, reeking with steamy sweat, fairly frothing at their mouths as with unaffected rage, it seemed as if we had a picture of hell itself before us, and a carnival of the damned spirits there confined, whose pastimes we may suppose should present some such scenes as this. At this stage of the spectacle, I was interested to observe the effect it had on the different ladies who occupied the windows almost within reach of the war clubs in the hands of the excited savages just below them. Most of them had become accustomed to the sight of naked savages during the several weeks they had occupied the town, and had even seen them in the dance before, for several minor dances had been previously performed, but this far excelled in the horrid anything which they had previously witnessed. Others, however, had just arrived in town, and had never seen an Indian before the last few days, and knew nothing of our wild western Indians but what they had learned of their savage butcheries and tortures in legends and in histories. To those most familiar with them, the scene seemed actually appalling, and but few stood it through and met the fierce glare of the savage eyes below them without shrinking. It was a place to try the human nerves of even the stoutest, and all felt that one such sight was enough for a lifetime. The question forced itself on even those who had seen them most, what if they should, in their maddened frenzy, turn this sham warfare into a real attack? How easy it would be for them to massacre us all, and leave not a living soul to tell the story. Some such remark as this was often heard, and it was not strange if the cheeks of all paled at the thought of such a possibility. However, most of them stood it bravely, and saw the sight to the very end; but I think all felt relieved when the last had disappeared around the corner as they passed down Lake Street, and only those horrid sounds which reached them told that the war dance was still progressing. They paused in their progress, for extra exploits, in front of Dr. Temple’s house, on the corner of Lake and Franklin streets; then in front of the Exchange Coffee House, a little further east on Lake Street; and then again in front of the Tremont, at that day situate on the northwest corner of Lake and Dearborn streets, where the appearance of the ladies in the windows again inspired them with new life and energy. From thence they passed down to Fort Dearborn, concluding their performanse in the presence of the officers and soldiers of the garrison, where we will take a final leave of my old friends, with more good wishes for their future welfare than I dare hope will be realized.

In the September 5 Chicago American, editor Davis notes that “Carpenters, Masons and Laborers are still very scarce in this town, and command high wages. Many buildings intended to be erected this season will have to lie over for want of mechanics to put them up.”

On September 9, a post office is opened in the community of Calumet.

In the September 12 Chicago Democrat, Capt. J.B.F. Russell requests “for the removal of the Indians. FROM 10 to 40 OX TEAMS. The waggons to be strong and well made, with good canvass or cotton covers, to keep every thing within dry—to carry with it a bucket for tar or grease—to be supplied with an axe, or hatchet, hammer and nails. Each wagon to have two yoke of Oxen, to carry 1500 lbs, if required, and to travel daily twenty miles, if necessary. …”

On September 16, Capt. D. Wilcox, Fifth Infantry, reassumes command at Fort Dearborn, serving until August 1, 1836.

On September 19, the first fire department commences with the town board’s resolution to acquire two engines and 1,000 feet of hose.

On September 21, Christian B. Dobson’s wagon train of ox teams leaves Chicago to rendezvous with the Potawatomi encamped on the Des Plaines River, 12 miles away. The Indians number less than 1,000, well under the several thousand people anticipated. Four groups form—led by Alexander Robinson, Billy Caldwell, Waubonsee, and William Holiday, assisted by Robert Kinzie and Gholson Kercheval. All leave on September 28, “emigrating to the land allotted them west of Mississippi.” In western Missouri, the Indains will refuse to go farther and settle, until removed by force in the summer of 1837.

On September 29, the town is organized into four school districts at a meeting held at the First Presbytarian Church by leading citizens, among them John H. Kinzie, R.J. Hamilton, John Wright, and John Watkins.

Throughout the autumn, a Grecian style one story brick courthouse with basement, that includes Corinthian columns and broad steps, is erected on the northeast corner of the public square, corresponding to the southwest corner of Clark and Randolph streets; the structure houses the courtroom, with county offices below.

In the October 7 Chicago Democrat, editor John Calhoun acknowledges: “We would be wanting in our duty to the officers engaged in the work, were we not to notice the great improvements which have been made in the streets of our town the past season. They are alike credible to this new place and the officers engaged in superintending them.—We have not, as yet, paved streets; but one year since we had nothing in the shape of a street in the place beyond the sticking up of stakes, and here and there a building on the line, showing where a street was intended to be. Now the principal streets are well turnpiked, and so graduated and ditched as to drain them thoroughly.”

On October 31, many townspeople gather in the Presbyterian church “for the purpose of expressing views and sentiments in relation to propriety and necessity of our Legislature adopting some more effective and energetic measures for the immediate construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, than what has heretofore been done.” A committee forms to draft resolutions that express the citizens’ sense of urgency.

In the November 4 Chicaco Democrat, John Calhoun reaffirms that “[o]ur merchants are, without an exception, prosperous, and extending their imports. The bustle of our docks, & the number of waggons thronging the streets for merchandise, are indications of prosperity which cannot be mistaken. Give us the canal, and we shall, as if by magic, assume an attitude of importence, both in numbers and wealth, which will not only make Chicago the pride of the state, but the wonder of the west.” He says that 20 tons of coal were within the week received from Albany, shipped by way of the lakes, another “fact to demonstrate to our southern citizens, that they have great need of the canal.” On the same day the village board, compounding its commitment to a fire department, creates a detailed ordinance with 52 sections concerning fire codes. In December the newly organized volunteer department will purchase its first fire engine at a cost of $894.38 from Hubbard & Co., and construction of a frame engine house (24 by 12 feet) will begin on the LaSalle Street side of the public square.

On November 18, the Chicago Democrat publishes “PUBLIC NOTICE. Leases of the Wharfing Privileges on Lots in the Town of Chicago, for the term of 999 Years,” and the ordinance adopted in regard to such privileges. In response, townspeople meet the following Saturday morning at Trowbridge’s Coffee House, the “largest group of citizens ever witnessed,” and organize under S.B. Morris; Giles Spring presents a set of resolutions that condemns the town council’s measures and advocates substitution. Citizens’ claims, applications and petitions for wharfing privileges flood the clerk’s office for many weeks.

The results of a census recently taken are reported in the November 28 Chicago American, listing Cook County’s as 9,773, up 300 percent in two years.

Sometime this autumn, Dr. Daniel Brainard has come to town on horseback, dismounting and opening an office; in two years he will obtain a charter for Rush Medical College [now Chicago’s Rush-Presbyterian-St. Lukes Medical Center].

On December 5, the officers of Chicago’s first banking facility are announced in the Chicago American, with John H. Kinzie as president; called “Chicago Branch of the State Bank of Illinois,” it opens for brisk business sometime in mid-December at the corner of LaSalle and South Water streets. The concern will fail in 1837. The Marine Journal listing this day notes that there have been no arrivals or clearances, “[t]he river is filled with ice.”

The Chicago Lyceum sponsors a debate on December 8 at 7 o’clock at the Presbyterian church: “Is the removal of the Indians west of the Mississippi by the United States Government, consistent with faith, humanity and sound Policy?” The disputants are Dr. J.T. Temple (affirmative) and T.A. Harding (negative).

In the December 9 Chicago Democrat, the editor reports that “[t]he population of Chicago, according to the last census is 3279. There are 44 stores (dry goods, hardware and groceries) 2 book stores, 4 druggists, 2 silversmiths and jewelers, 2 tin and copper manufactories, 2 printing offices, 2 breweries, 1 steam saw mill, 1 iron foundary, four storage and forwarding houses, 3 taverns, 1 lottery office, 1 bank, 5 churches, 7 schools, 22 lawyers, 14 physicians, a lyceum and a reading room. Nine brick buildings have been erected the past season, among which, are a tavern, three stories high, and a county clerk’s office. The foundations of two churches (episcopal and baptist) were laid, but could not be completed owing to the want of materials.” Continuing, he writes that the many buildings made of brick are the result of the lack of materials of proper quality, but because “there has been discovered on the North Branch, two miles from Chicago, a superior quality of clay, free from lime stone, which has been the great defect in the clay heretofore used,” the brickmaking business may become more extensive.

The Chicago Harmonic Society gives the second public concert on December 11 at the Presbyterian church; tickets cost 50 cents. Among the selections for several performers are “Wreath” and “Oh! Lady fair,” glee for three voices, and a violin solo: “Spring of Shillalah, with variations,” by Samuel Lewis.

On December 12 the “Fire Kings,” the first engine firefighting company, is organized; Hiram Hugunin, then president of the town board of trustees, is soon after elected chief of the fire department.

George P. Delaplaine, later U.S. general, visits the town this month and will write the account of his experience that follows:
Left Cincinnati in December, 1835, then a lad, in the company of Capt. Garret Vliet, a well known surveyor, who was coming to Wisconsin on service for the government. We went to Milwaukee overland via Terre Haute and Chicago. There were only two taverns in Chicago, at the time, and everything was in a decidedly crude condition. I remember one incident, trivial in itself, but illustrative of our experience during our brief stay. The guest who had preceded me in the occupancy of my room in the hotel, had caught a muscrat in the adjoining marsh and taken it with him to his quarters, as a pet. He went off and forgot the animal, which fed upon one of my boots during the night, for want of better provender.

The Chicago American on December 19 reports that “Capt. Russel, who left here some weeks since in charge of the emigrating Indians, has returned.” William Montgomery advertises “CHRISTMAS PRESENTS.—- 12 setts splendid Ear Drops, 21 setts splendid Breast Pins, 12 Finger Rings, Necklaces, Lockets, Safety Chains, &c.;”

“The Prairies around Chicago are still burning.” [Chicago Democrat, December 30]

Throughout this year, many new hotels and inns have opened: in town—the New York House, the Steam Boat Hotel, Flusky’s Boarding House, Fay’s Boarding House, Ike Cook’s Saloon, Hollis Newton’s Tavern and Hotel, Kelsey’s Boarding House, Lincoln’s Coffee House, and the Western Hotel; on access roads to Chicago—Ellis Inn (S), Kettlestrings’ Tavern [Oak Park], Planck’s Tavern at Dutchman’s Point, Half-Way-House [Plainfield, Ottawa Road], Castle Inn [Brush Hill Trail], and Patterson’s Tavern [Winnetka].

A speculative mania for land within and beyond Chicago has begun, prompted by the plans of the federal government to build the Illinois & Michigan Canal. Large amounts of money flow in from the East through investors who include Arthur Bronson, Charles Butler, and Edward Russell. The auctioneer Augustus Garrett reports sales of $1,800,000 worth of real estate in 10 months.

Observations within a New York Times article, reprinted in the Chicago Democrat [December 9], reads “… Lands in that place and its vicinity, are constantly rising in price, and business is uncommonly action. Success to the new city of the West. Her flourishing condition may, in a great degree, be attributed to New York enterprise; and we should take an interest in every thing that concerns her prosperity.” The crash will come in 1837.