Biographical Sketches of the Leading People of Chicago
The following two biographies of Mr. Gurdon S. Hubbard were written about three years apart. The first, written in 1883 (published in 1884), by A. T. Andreas, in his comprehensive History of Chicago books, while the second was written by The Chicago Tribune after his death on September 14, 1886.
History of Chicago, A. T. Andreas, 1884
Gurdon S. Hubbard
At the age of ten years he left home and went to North Bridgewater, Mass., where he was a pupil in the school of Rev. Daniel Huntington for nearly three years. In the spring of 1815 he returned to his parents at Windsor, and soon thereafter removed with them to Montreal, Canada. Soon after this removal the youth began life on his own account. He evinced a wonderful aptitude and taste for trade and traffic, even at this early age. His first ventures were in the poultry trade between northern Vermont and Canada, which as a mere boy without capital or to bring him a living and something In the fall of 1816, he gave up the traffic and entered the hardware store of John Frothingham, of Montreal, as a clerk, where he continued until 1818. In the spring of that year, being then sixteen years of age, hi for five years, sum of $120 to William W. Matthews, then the agent for the American Fur Company. Under this new engagement, he left Montreal for the wilds of the great Northwest, May 13, 1818.
He was one of a party consisting of thirteen clerks, and one hundred and twenty men besides, the latter being all Canadians. The party traveled in thirteen batteaux. The destination was Mackinac on the lakes. The route was long and the journey dangerous. The party without accident ascended theSt.Lawrence and in due course of time reached Toronto, then called Yorktown. So many of the Canadian voyageurs had deserted the expedition tn route, that at this point Mr. Matthews the commander decided to change his plans, and instead of continuing to coast Lake Ontario, he hired teams to haul his boats and goods over the Young-street road to Lake Simcoe, then embarking and taking on board two yoke of oxen. He coasted Lake Simcoe to the point nearest the Nottawasaga River, and then with the aid of the oxen made another portage to that river about six miles; then re-embarking they proceeded to the mouth of the river and continued their voyage, coasting along the shores and around the islands of Georgian Hay and Lake Huron to Mackinac Island, which they reached July 4. 1818. Mr. Hubbard is the only surviving white man who was an inhabitant of the vast region from Mackinac to far south of Chicago at that early period. Young Hubbard remained at Mackinac, working in the company’s warehouse, until the middle of September, when, joining the Illinois Brigade, consisting of one hundred men, under the agent, Antoine Des Champs he set out, via Lake Michigan, for the Illinois countrv. The party had a full stock of supplies, such as would be required in trade with the Indians, and the fleet consisted of twelve batteaux. Passing through the straits, they crept along the east shore of Lake Michigan, stopping only when compelled to do so by heavy or head winds on their voyage. On the last day of October or first of November, 1818, the party reached Fort Dearborn, then all there was of Chicago. Mr. Hubbard remained there three days, being the guest of John Kinzie, at his house on the North Side. He then, with the partv, pushed into the interior country. They went, via the South Branch and through Mud Lake (near Bridgeport), and laboriously carrying their goods upon their backs, and dragging their batteaux across the intervening land, came to the Desplaines River, which they descended to the Kankakee, and thence down the Illinois River. Mr. Hubbard was ordered to the trading-post at the mouth of Bureau River, then in charge of a Frenchman named Bebeau, who could neither read nor write. Young Hubbard was detailed to keep the accounts and assist in the details of the business of this post, by Mr. DesChamps. lie reached his appointed post early in November, but was allowed by the agent to proceed down the river to St. Louis, where he met his father and brother, who were on their way to Arkansas. On the trip he saw no white men, except members of his own party, until he reached Portage de Sioux, about eighteen miles above St Louis, then a town of some six hundred inhabitants. About the middle of November he returned to Bebeau’s trading-post, where he remained performing his clerical duties until spring. At that time, the trade with the Indians being over, he returned bv the same weary route, in the same batteaux, now laden with furs, and manned by many of his companions and voyageurs of the downward trip, to Mackinac, the headquarters of the American Fur Company. From that timetill 1823, his duties during the summer months spent at Mackinac were to assist Mr. Matthews, who had charge of that department, in receiving, assorting and packing the furs and peltries of the American Fur Company, and shipping them to New York. John Jacob Astor of that city being the president of the company. He made trips to the interior every winter, returning to Mackinac each summer. During the winter of 1819-20, he was in charge of a trading-post at the mouth of Muskegon River. The following winter he spent in charge of a post near Kalamazoo, Mich. In the late fall of 1821 he again visited Chicago con his way to Crooked Creek, a tributary of the Illinois River, skirting the northern boundary of what is now Brown County, and emptying into the river a few miles below the present town of Beardstown. He spent the succeeding three winters in charge of the business of the company at Iroquois.
On his second visit to Chicago he found the same inhabitants outside the fort as at his former visit, John Kinzie and family, and Antoine Ouilmette, his Indian wife and half-breed children. F’rom that time he became identified with the history of Chicago, although he did not become a permanent resident until many years after. For the four succeeding years he passed through the region now known as Chicago, and then as a geographical point called Fort Dearborn, many times each year. His supplies were all brought by water navigation to that point, and nearly all his furs were shipped from there. Chicago was the objective point of the Indian trade during those years, ind voung Hubbard, then the most active and vigorous agent of the company, became known to every man, woman and child at the fort. Subsequent to 1822. no person lived about the mouth of Chicago River who did not know this young, brave, and vigorous fur-trader.
Mr. Hubbard remained in the employ of the American Fur Company two years beyond the term for which he was bound—seven years in all—during which time he had accumulated some wealth, and had acquired what was better, the entire confidence of every man connected with the trade of the Northwest, both American and Indian. Mis wages, as has been stated, were, during the five years of his indenture only nominal—$120 per year1—but, for the succeeding two years, while he remained in the employ of the company, he received $1,300 per year and was, during the last year of his engagement a special partner. He severed his connection with the American Fur Company in the spring of 1827. During the last year of his engagement, he, at his own solicitation, was allowed to open up an inland trade, on the Iroquois, his station being at the site of the present town of Watseca. While there he laid his plans, afterwards carried out, for an immense trade all along the line of what afterwards became famous as Hubbard’s trail.
During the period of Mr. Hubbard’s engagement with the American Fur Company, he made twenty-six voyages to and from his interior posts and via Chicago, to the headquarters at Mackinac. In 1827, having purchased of the company its franchises and good-will, he commenced business for himself. He no longer confined his trade to the water-ways as had been formerly done, but, scuttling his boats for safety within the South Branch of the Chicago River, he fitted out what at that time might be termed a most formidable caravan, consisting of nearly fifty heavily-laden ponies, which he had bought of the Pottawatomie chief Big Foot at his village fifty miles away, at the head of what is now known as Geneva Lake, Wisconsin. With this outfit he moved south toward the Wabash River, and established trading-posts all along the line, nearly to the mouth of the Wabash, at intervals of thirty to fifty miles. The trail thus first marked out by Hubbard’s caravan, and for years after traveled between his trading posts, became familiarly known as “Hubbard’s trail,” and was for fifteen years the only well known and constantly traveled road between Chicago and the Wabash country. Danville, now the shiretown of Vermillion County, was the principal inland depot of supplies, and there Mr. Hubbard made his home for several years, although his business kept him mostly on the trail between his various posts. Thus it happened that, although not at the time a resident of Chicago, he was present at the partial burning of the fort in 1827; and, during the ” Winnebago scare ” which succeeded, made his memorable ride from Chicago to the Wabash country for help, the particulars of which are related elsewhere.
As the settlements increased along the line of trading-posts established, the Indian trade gradually languished, and, one after another, Mr. Hubbard abandoned them on the south, until, after the extinction of the Indian title in 1833, and the certainty that his Indian customers would leave the country within two years, he abandoned the trade altogether, and became a permanent resident of Chicago, transferring his wonderful energy to his new home. This occurred in 1834. The intimate connection of Mr. Hubbard with the history of Chicago since that date is apparent on nearly every page, and in nearly every topic. It is unnecessary to repeat. He stands prominent as one of the foremost merchants for the succeeding twenty years, during which period, besides carrying on one of the largest shipping, commission, packing, and forwarding trades in the city, he held nearly every office of trust and honor that his fellow-citizens could thrust upon him. It may be said here that he never violated any trust bestowed, and, in his old age, he lives among the scenes of his active and useful life, with a character above reproach and a reputation untarnished by the business vicissitudes of half a century.
In the spring of 1831 Mr. Hubbard married Elenora Berry, daughter of Judge Elisha Berry, of Urbana, Ohio. They had one child, Gurdon S. Hubbard, Jr., who was born in Chicago, February 22, 183S, and is now (1883), an honored citizen of the town where he was born. Mrs. Hubbard died February 28, 1838.
In 1843 Mr. Hubbard married Miss Mary Ann Hubbard, daughter of Alhira Hubbard, Chicago, who, with her honored husband still lives after forty years of married life, the worthy wife of the oldest and one of the worthiest of Chicago’s citizens.
Chicago Tribune, September 15, 1886
Gurdon S. Hubbard was born at Windsor, Vt., Aug. 22, 1802. At the early age of 13 he left his native town and went to his aunt’s in Massachusetts the same month. Young Hubbard remained there till May, 1818, when he engaged to the American Fur Company. With headquarters at Mackinac, he was wont to coast along the western shore of Lake Michigan, and before he gave up his business for a permanent residence in the future metropolis he had accomplished the trip from Mackinac to Chicago, in an open boat, twenty-six times. It os now about fifty-seven years ago since hem for the first time, entered the mouth of the creek which has since been dignified into one of the word’s great harbors. Mr. Hubbard has—or, at least, had before the fire—a private map representing Chicago at that date, and it discloses two and one-half habitations all told. The habitation per se was a stockade known as Fort Dearborn; the other was the block-house of the Indian trader, John Kinzie; and the half was a roofless concern occupied by a forlorn half-breed. Mr. Hubbard did not immediately make the marshes of Fort Dearborn his local habitation, but in the language of Abraham Lincoln, who was an intimate friend of the subject of this sketch, he “browsed around a good deal.” and often made it his headquarters for a considerable period.
Mr. Hubbard’s income at this stage of his life was not gigantic. He had contracted with the fur company for five years at $120 a year, and this could scarcely have sufficed to keep him in moccasins and tobacco, the two essentials of that period. He continued with the company under salary until 1826, when he took charge of the trade in this State, south of Chicago, taking one-half interest in profits or losses. By this year he had accumulated sufficient wealth to stock Mackinac boats at the straits with merchandise, and with them he proceeded to the mouth of the Chicago River. This was the greatest enterprise of that period and marked an era in the commerce of Chicago It was equal to what would now be the landing of a thousand cargoes from Great Easterns. Up to this time the Indian country back of Chicago had never been disturbed. When the red man wanted anything he came to the goods, but the goods never gone to him. Now the order was to be reversed. Indian ponies for pack purposes being scarce in this immediate vicinity, Mr. Hubard sent a party of his men to the camp of the Chief Bigfoot, at Bigfoot Lake—now known by the euphonious appellation of Lake Geneva—and there secured about fifty of these shaggy, wiry little animals and after loading each one with about 250 pounds of merchandise scuttled his boats in the North Branch—that he might recover them on his return—and struck out boldly for the wilds of prairie and forest. As he proceeded he established permanent trading-posts every fifty miles along the route, which included among other districts all the territory lying between the zIllinois and Wabash Rivers. The way thus broken was for years known as “Hubbard’s Trail,” and when, several years afterward, the Wabash country began to settle and Chicago became its chief trading point “Hubbard’s Trail” was the common highway.
The country round Terra Haute and Vincennes began to settle about 1828. Befor thus there was scarcely a single white man’s habitation in all that region. In four years considerable settlements were effected, and the pioneer turned so industrious as a trader, each on his own account, that the commerce of that region became unprofitable to Mr. Hubbard, and he withdrew so far north as to make Danville his southern boundary. In 1834 he abandoned the Indian trade altogether, and became not only a permanent but Chicago’s largest and most enterprising merchant for many years thereafter.
The settlement of the Wabash country and other districts having made good progress, Mr. Hubbard, about the year 1832, opened a permanent business in Chicago, then a village of about 150 inhabitants. That Mr. H. was a man more than the equal of his surroundings may be inferred from the fact that at the age of 30 he was elected a member of the State Legislature, which at that period held its sessions at Vandalia.
He was married to Miss Berry of Ohio at Danvill, Ill., and she accompanied him to Vandalia, where he was representing Vermillion County in the Legislature. In the year 1838 the family was bereaved by the loss of his wife and mother, and Mr. Hubbard remained single until the 9th day of November, 1843, when he espoused the lady who still bears the honored name of Mrs. Gurdon S. Hubbard.
When Mr. Hubbard finally settle permanently here it was as a commission merchant. He built the largest store in the place, and, owing to his extensive acquaintance throughout the Wabash country, soon did as much business as all the rest of the stores put together. He was the first to build a warehouse in Chicago, and it was located at the corner of La Salle and Water streets. It was quite a huge affair, built of brick, and the shrewd ones of that day dubbed it “Hubbard’s Folly.” But it was nothing of the sort. On the contrary, it was just what Chicago needed, and soon failed of room to accommodate the rapidly-growing trade of the young city.
In the early days the hardy pioneer could only obtain the necessities of life and dispose of products by means of the “prairie schooner,” an immense covered wagon, modeled after the Pennsylvania make, and drawn by four horses. Its name lumbering up from the Wabash, a distance of over 200 miles, consuming two weeks in the journey, and what in the way of profit could there possibly be left after such a jaunt? And yet it was the best that could be done. Chicago, by the way of the lakes, was the nearest point to civilization, and remained so until the locomotive, one fine morning, came to the poor Hoosiers’ relief.
Chicago presented a busy scene in those days. Comparatively speaking, it was, perhaps, a busier mart that it is now. All day long the “prairie schooner” would be on the move, working its way through mud up to the axle. Caravans would come from the south, the west, and even the north, and at night hundreds of campers would throw their lurid glare over the prairie, a very fantastic picture to look upon.
In 1834, the Wabash trade having assumed really large proportions, two firms—Pratt, Taylor & Co. of Buffalo and Gurdon S. Hubbard & Co. of Chicago—purchased Commodore Perry’s flagship, the bark Detroit, and the Queen Charlotte, the British flagship, both of which were sunk in the Erie harbor at the close of the War of 1812. Having raised them, and added to the list of brigs Indiana and Illinois, they organized in 1835 what was called the Eagle Line. This was really the beginning of our now unprecedented lake commerce.
A few steamers and schooners had come into the harbor before this, but this was the first organized effort looking to an uninterrupted commerce with the East. I this connection it may also be mentioned hat in 1855 Mr. Hubbard organized the first line of steamers to Lake Michigan.
Mr. Hubbard was also the father of the packing interest in Chicago, which has since assumed such immense proportions. He packed the first hogs in his “big” warehouse in the winter of 1835-’36, the “rooters” massacred for the occasion having been driven all the way fro St. Clair County, distant over 200 miles. Mr. Hubbard also packed the first beef ever shipped from this locality, the empty barrels used for that purpose being brought from Cleveland.
At the age of 73 Mr. Hubbard was as hearty as most Chicagoans of 50 and was busy at work preparing elaborate memoirs on his eventful early history. He opened a diary of events when he entered the employ of the fur company in 1818 and continued to make notes in it for thirteen years. Much against his will he allowed this diary to pass into the hands of the now deceased Senator McRoberts, who was then writing some sketches for the Vandalia Magazine, and he never afterward to set eyes on it, though he would have given a fortune to have recovered it. Among the noteworthy incidents of his early years among the Indians is one that dates from the Winnebago band in 1828. Mr. Hubbard was then making a prolonged sojourn at this trading-point and stopping with the only man who could boast of a spare bed, John Kinzie. The time was one of those annual powwows when from 3,000 to 4,000 scalpers would collect here to receive their Government dividends, or rather what was left of the pile after the agents had deducted what they naturally considered their share—if Indian agents in those days were at all like their followers of today. It was remarked by the knowing ones in the settlement that the aborigines were unusually sullen on this occasion, held frequent consultations or semi-councils among themselves, and otherwise acted as if some mischief were in the wind. Still the settlers took no special alarm, since they knew of no cause for trouble, not being aware, as the Indians were, that the Winnebagos in Minnesota were on the war-path, and had been taking scalps right and left in those regions. Had they known this fact they would probably have been badly frightened. Neither were they cognizant of the fact, until the danger had gone by, that during this visit of the Indians a grand council of the chiefs was held under an old locust tree near the fort, in which Bigfoot, who was the big mogul of all this region, talked war to the knife, and that before the council adjourned the minor chiefs had decided to sustain him in any movement he might making looking toward coöperation with the war party in the North.
It was while the Indians were still encamped here, during a stormy night, that the fort was struck by lightning and took fire. It was not occupied by troops at the time, having been vacated some years before, and was not again taken possession of by blue-coats until the Black Hawk War, about four years later. The destruction of the stockade was regarded as a great calamity by the settlers, since it was their only refuge in time of danger, and hence they rallied as one man to save it from destruction, and fortunately their efforts were partially successful. Mr. Hubbard and Robert Kinzie, the brother of John Kinzie, the old trader. were on the northwest side at the Kinzie residence when flames were seen to emerge from the stockade. They immediately made for the river, essayed to cross in a canoe; but finding it unmanageable, owing to the fact that it was partially filled with water, they lost no time in useless regrets, but, relying on their ability as swimmers, soon reached the opposite shore and gave their help to saving the stockade. It was occupied at the time by several families, and Mr. Hubbard said that he would never the appearance of Mrs. Rupert E. Heacock, who, with her family, had quarters in the fort, and was thus recklessly driven from shelter. Hoopskirts were not in vogue in those days, the rain was pouring down in i=torrents, and the vision of that night, by the lurid gleam of the burning fort, never again met his eyes until the present pull-back dress came into fashion.
It was a few days after the big powwow, and the Indians had returned to their hunting-grounds, principally situated in the neighborhood of Lake Geneva, that the settlers lounging about the Kinzie hostelrie—it being the only place where a stranger could find a spare bed now and then—heard the song of voyageurs up the river. It came to them in clear, ringing tones, and with one accord all said: “That is Robert Forsyth,” a hardy adventurer, a relative of Mr. Kinzie, who was then acting as secretary to Gov. Cass of Michigan. The boat soon came in sight, and sure enough there was Forsyth, and with him Gov. Cass, while the boat was being driven through the waters at lightning speed by a dozen stalwart oarsmen. The news brought by the Governor was of the most startling character.
He had been commissioned by the Government to hold a treaty with the Indians at Green Bay. He was on hand at the appointed time, but Lo was unanimously absent, and the reason for his absence was soon explained when the news of the massacres on the St. Peter’s River came to hand. Gov. Cass, being the most potent authority in the West at the time, quickly took boat up the Fox River, made a portage into the Wisconsin, thence soon glided into the Mississippi, and with as little ado as possible reached St. Louis, or rather Jefferson Barracks, where he chartered a steamboat, loaded it with troops, and sent it up the river to look after the scalp-takers. Having deep concern for the settlers at Fort Dearborn, he lost no time in taking boat again, paddled up the Illinois, worked his way up the Aux Plaines, through Mud Lake, and, as the reader has seen, brought the news to the settlement.
Intense excitement followed these tidings. A council of war was held, and, since it was suspected that Bigfoot was in league with the northern Indians and was only biding his time, the council determined to send out scouts to watch his movements. During these deliberations the Indian Chief Shabanee entered the house. He had not been present at the big powwow, no doubt because he knew there was mischief in the eind and he would rather not be mixed up with it. Shabanee was known throughout all the Indian country as the friend of the white man and well deserved his reputation. Mr. Hubbard spoke of him as the finest specimen of physical manhood it was ever his pleasure to lay eyes upon. He was also a man of noble courage, stood high among the warriors, and had particularly distinguished himself as one of Tecumseh’s aids. Old Shabanee died but a few years ago, and it is due to his fidelity that his grave in Grundy County should be marked with some fitting memorial to commemorate his great services, rendered on this and many other occasions, scores of families owing their preservation to him during the bloody Black Hawk War.
As soon as Shabanee was made acquainted with the situation, which he had more than half anticipated, he instantly volunteered to repair Bigfoot’s camp and sound him on his intended movements. Billy Caldwell, a brave half-breed, offered to accompany him, and the couple started on their journey without further delay. As they neared the camp they observed unmistakable preparations for war going forward, and, as even half a white man might lead to suspicion, Shabanee concluded to try the camp alone, while Billy kept to the bushes. Bigfoot received Shabanee with a surly look, saying: “What do you want; you are a friend of the white man?” It was necessary that Shabanee should have recourse to his best wit to extricate himself, and he proved equal to the emergency. “I am the white man’s friend in peace,” said he; “But now I understand you have called upon all the tribes in this region to aid you in making war, and I have come to see what proposition you have to make.”
Shabanee being at the head of a considerable band, the ruse took, and Bigfoot informed him that his intention was to drive all the settlers out of this Wabash country. Under the pretense that he must first consult with the elders of his tribe before he could make a definite promise, he succeeded in making his way out of the camp, found his companion, Billy, and together they returned to the settlement with the worst of tidings.
In those early days Mr. Hubbard once performed an extraordinary walking feat, before which the most remarkable exploits of such parlor pedestrians as O’Leary utterly sink into insignificance. He once walked seventy-file miles between daylighy and darkness, and when it is taken into account that the feat was performed along an uneven Indian trail, it can scarcely be credited. He had the reputation of being the best footer in the West, and was even so regarded by the Indians. One day in 1826 he was at a camp on the Fox River, and he intended to take the trail to Hennepin the next day some of the chiefs determined that their best walker should accompany him to see if he could not be walked down. But of this nothing was said to young Hubbard, who accepted the companionship of the muscular redskin as a matter of course, presuming that it was a mere accident that he was also bound for Hennepin. But they had not preceded many miles before he suspect that his Indian friend was bound to walk him down, and he then determined to accomplish in one day a task he had set himself to do in two. Before they had concluded half the distance the Indian began to show signs of fatigue; soon he fell behind; finally he was lost to sight, and he reached Hennepin hours behind his white competitor, who thereafter acknowledged the champion pedestrian of the prairies.
From the beginning of his residence in Chicago down to very recent years Mr. Hubbard was one of the most conspicuous figures in certain lines of business. He built the original line of lake boats out of this port. He built for a warehouse on the south bank of the river, near La Salle stret, a huge three-story building of brick manufactured in the county. So huge an enterprise did this appear to the short-sighted inhabitants that they designated it “Hubbard’s Folly.”
Mr. Hubbard was also a partner in the historic Lake House on the North Side, which was built in the flush times preceding the panic of 1833, and ran so glorious though so brief a creer. He was also one of the organizers of St. James’ Church in 1834, and in 1835 one of the organizing directors in the first bank in Chicago—the Chicago branch of the Illinois State Bank. He was a director, too, of the Chicago Hydraulic Company, founded in 1836, out of which grew the water-works system. Up to the time of the great fire Mr. Hubbard was the owner of one of the most interesting landmarks of Chicago—of which not even an authentic picture is now preserved. This was the old “Billy Caldwell house.” It may not be generally known that the celebrated half-breed was the owner of the first frame house built in the city. It was erected at the cost of the Government, and presented to Saugenash for long and meritorious services in mediating with the hostile Indians. When, in 1836, Billy took the Pottawatomies west to Kansas, Mr. Hubbard bought the house and dragged it from its original site on Chicago avenue, near State street, to Indiana street, where it stood until the great fire wiped it out. For a number of years it was the Hubbard family mansion.
Mr. Hubbard won all the rewards that were assured to enterprise and industry in those early days, and at one time and another was possessed of a vast deal of property. Some of his real-estate transactions may be mentioned as illustrative of the opportunities which were presented in the early days. In July, 1829, he bought at the first sale of canal lots two lots on Lake and La Salle streets, 80×100 feet, for $66.66. He afterward realized $8,000 for them—less than their present value, but a very reasonable advance on the investment. It may be recalled as an instance of the extraordinary inflation in values which prevailed just before the great panic of 1837 that in 1836 the property was considered worth $100,000. In 1835 Mr. Hubbard bought for $5,000 the tract bounded by the river, Halsted street, Chicago avenue, and Kinzie street. Within a few months he went to New York and sold a half interest for $80,000.
The names given on various tracts of land are those of the primary patentees, or persons by whom entry was made, entered or patented between the years 1828 and 1836. The information is taken from “Book of Original Entry.” Streets are shown were laid out subsequent of 1830.
Arrow indicates Billy Caldwell’s frame house on Chicago Avenue near State street, which Gurdon S. Hubbard purchased. One interesting fact, in 1835 Mr. Hubbard bought for $5,000 the tract bounded by the river, Halsted street, Chicago avenue, and Kinzie street. Within a few months he went to New York and sold a half interest for $80,000.This tract is indicated by the trapezoid in the map above. This property is very close to the location of “Hubbard’s Cave,” so named to its proximity to Hubbard Street and due to the lack of lighting in the underpass gave it a “cave-like” atmosphere. Hubbard Street was originally named Michigan Street.
Chicago Tribune, July 9, 1860
The first frame house in Cook county is still standing and in “good condition.” It is the cottage on the South side of Indiana street (Grand Ave) in the North Division, just west of Cass (Wabash). It was built in 1828 by the United States Government for Billy Caldwell then chief of the Pottawattomies, and then stood on the present site of the Catholic College on Superior street.
Billy lived in it untill 1836. It was afterwards bought by G. S. Hubbard, Esq., who still owns it, and who removed it to where it now stands. The building material of this structure was all brought from Buffalo.
When it was finished it was, as stated above, the first frame house in Cook county, and this was only thirty-two years ago.
Mr. Hubbard also owns another relic of the past, in the shape of the little old frame house on Jackson street near Desplaines in the West Division. This has fallen out of repair. It is a small one story structure, built on its present site in 1834, on the then remote prairie, to be used as an office to pay off the Indians, chiefly Pottawattomies, then some seven thiusand strong in this section of the country. To this single trail lef off diagonally southwest across the prairie from Lake street bridge.
The Cottage at times of payment was surrounded by a file of soldiers, and each Mr. Indian was admitted singky and alone to receive his annual payment of three dollars and fifty cents for each member of his household, which was paid off in half dollar pieces.
In how short a time these old buildings referred to have seen the metropolis of the North West spring up about them.
1Mr. Hubbard’s father died in 1819. Out of the very moderate pittance of $120 per year, during the years of his indenture, he set apart for his widowed mother one-half of his earnings. A letter from the ageift, January 26, 1821, to his mother, then at Middleton, Conn., speaks in the highest terms of her faithful son, and notes the inclosure to her of $75, which he had set apart for her before leaving for his winter trip.
Leave a Reply