Biographical Sketches of the Leading Men in Chicago, Photographically Illustrated by John Carbutt, 1868, Pages 625-626, No Portrait
The Hon. Francis C. Sherman is another of the comparatively few persons who were participants in laying the foundations of the city, and yet take an active part in its business and growing greatness. He was born in Newtown, Connecticut, in the year 1805, and came to Chicago Avith his family in April, 1834. Shortly after he reached here, he built, Avith the aid of a fellow-workman, a frame dwelling on Randolph street, between LaSalle and Wells street. This building, which is still standing, was originaliy twelve feet high, and eighteen by thirty-four in width and depth. Here he opened a boarding-house, and every nook in the building was occupied. The next year he had purchased a wagon and pair of horses, and, in the absence of stage coach facilities, carried passengers from Chicago to Joliet, Ottawa, Galena, Peoria, or other places, generally getting a return load to Chicago. In 1835, he moved “out on the prairie,” being on Adams street, near Market, and comiiicnced I trick-making, using the clay and erecting his kilns on that part of the city lying between jNIarket street, Adams street, the river, and the present site of the Madison street bridge. In 1835-6 he built for himself the first four-story brick building erected on Lake street, being near Clark street, and on the lot now used by Matson & Hoes’ jewelry store. Mr. Sherman continued in the business of brick-making and building for over fourteen years, during that time acquiring and improving much valuable property, and building many houses and blocks for others. In 1850, lie retired from that business, but in the management of a large estate and in the improvement of it he has passed, and continues yet to pass, a life of more than ordinary activity.
Mr. Sherman, in 1836-7, erected, on the corner of Randolph and Clark streets, a three-story brick building, which was known as the “City Hotel.” This be afterwards remodeled, making it a five-story building, eighty by one hundred feet, which was called the Sherman House, and this, in 1860, he pulled down, in order to build the present Sherman House, which is unsurpassed by any hotel edifice in the country. It measures one hundred and eighty-two by one hundred and sixty-one feet.
Mr. Sherman, from almost his first arrival in Chicago, has taken an active part in public affairs, and has enjoyed public confidence to the fullest extent. He was selected as one of the first Board of Trustees of the town of Chicago, and served until Chicago was incorporated as a city. He served in the first Board of Aldermen under the city government, and repeatedly thereafter. He served also a.s a member of the County Commissioners’ Court, and in various county trusts and offices. He was also one of the Board of Appraisers of the Canal Lands. He took an active part in preserving the Court House Square for public purposes. He was a Supervisor from one of the city wards, and enjoyed the full confidence of the country members. He was made President of the Board at the time when the sale of the Public Square was ordered; the policy being to use the proceeds to build public offices on less expensive sites. Mr. Sherman’s personal influence probably defeated this scheme. His efibrts induced the city to contribute largely to the erection of the present Court House building, thus securing the Square for all time for public purposes.
Mr. Sherman has always been a man of practical ideas. His opponents have charged him with a want of polish and a deficiency of education, but the people of the city have disregarded all this, because of their confidence in his strong practical sense and personal integrity. His wealth has been the result, not of speculation, but of honest, hard-working and persevering industry. He was elected a member of the State Legislature as early as 1843, and subsequently. He was also elected and served as a member of the State Convention, which, in 1847, framed the present Constitution of the State. During his life, except for one year, he has been an active member of the Democratic party. In 1856, he was nominated by the opposition as a candidate for Mayor, and was defeated. In 1858, he was a Democratic candidate for the Legislature, and was defeated by a few votes. In 1862, he was the Democratic candidate for Mayor of Chicago, and was elected over C. N. Holden, Esq. In 1863, he was re-elected for two years, over T. B. Bryan, Esq., after the fiercest local contest ever known in this city. In 1862, he was the Democratic candidate for Congress, and in 1865 and 1867 the Democratic candidate for Mayor.