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Chicago Tribune, May 20, 1900
HE Seventh and Eighth Wards are extremely interesting historically. The former is the most “foreign” and picturesque, while the latter contains the site of the first historic spot in Chicago. The Seventh Ward contains the Ghetto, the largest Jewish quarter of any city in the world, while the Eighth Ward contains the site of Father Marquette’s temporary home on the banks of the Chicago River.
Scarcely a single spot in the confines of Chicago has so many historical dates attached to it as this one in the Eighth Ward about where Center avenue reaches the river. It is now housed in with lumber, being in the heart of the great lumber region. It was there, in 1674, that Father Marquette halted on his way to visit the Illinois Indians and passed the winter. It was there he paused again to rest a day in his old cabin in 1675, only a few weeks before he died.
This spot was selected by La Salle for a trading post in 1683. After that its history is a blank. The next chronicle of it relates that in April, 1812, it was the home of a man named Lee, whose first name is not mentioned in any annals of his time that are preserved. It was there that the first murder of white men by the Indians who massacred the garrison of Fort Dearborn occurred, April, 1812, when a Frenchman named Bebou and a man named Liberty White were killed by the Indians, who had just made an alliance with the British, and were eager to show they were deserving the alliance.
Again it was a trading post when Mack & Conant, four dealers, established a branch of their business there in 1817, shortly after Fort Dearborn was rebuilt. A little settlement sprang up around the fur traders’ cabin in the early ’20s and it was given the name of “Hardscrabble.”
One of the earliest taverns of Chicago was established there prior to 1826 by Bernard Laughton, who also opened a store there. In 1826 it had as settlers beside Bernard Laughton, his brother David, Francis La Framboise, a Pottawatomie chief of French blood; Alexander Robinson, a Pottawatomie chief of Scotch blood; and William Walker. That year James Galloway, a newcomer, settled there with his wife and daughter. That daughter, Mary Galloway, is Mrs. Archibald Clybourn, still living in Chicago. She was then a pretty girl of 14 years courted by the officers of the garrison and by the few young men of Chicago, until Archibald Clybourn, the most likely young man of them all, won her heart.
The next chapter in the history of “Hardscrabble” is related in the story of the new lumber district of Chicago, which was established in in 1868. Theretofore the lumber yards of Chicago were scattered. The first lumber district was at the mouth of the river on the North Side. It grew and spread, until it occupied a large part of the river bank on both sides, between Lake and Harrison streets. There was a need for the advantages that could be obtained by having the lumber yards all together. To facilitate this slips or canals were built on the north side of the river and in the south end of the Eighth Ward, which provided three miles of dockage. In less than a year nearly every one of the lumber yards were moved there.
Lumber Yards in Chicago
PRETTY HOMES WERE HERE.
At one time the Seventh Ward was to the West Side what the Twelfth Ward is now. It was the place of homes and pretty residences. Canal street and Jefferson street were considered fine residence streets. Some of the most prominent and successful citizens of Chicago today were born in the Seventh Ward, but then the railroads and factories came and crowded the better class of homes out of it. Today the ward is distinguished by containing a larger Ghetto1 than Amsterdam. It is distinguished also for being the ward with the largest slum area and for being the ward containing more crime, but the Ghetto is not responsible for the last distinction.
There are six synagogues in the Ghetto and it contains at Jefferson and O’Brien streets a Yiddish theater. There are three Yiddish newspapers published in the Ghetto ands the weekly fish market is the largest of the kind in the world. Jefferson street is the principal thoroughfare of the Ghetto, while Halsted street is the principal highway of the ward.
A relic of the better days of the ward is to be found in St. Aloysius’ Academy for Girls, which was established by Father Arnold Damen, the famous Jesuit missioner, in 1867. When founded the big church of the Holy Family and St. Ignatius’ College in Twelfth street he endeavored to build a school for higher education of girls, and established St. Aloysius’, which soon had a daily attendance of 1,000 pupils and was the leading girls’ school in Chicago. It is still a large educational institution, but draws most of its pupils from other wards.
The history of the Seventh Ward began with the survey for the Illinois and Michigan Canal in 1830. In what is now Chicago three town sites were laid out. One was Bridgeport, the other was Canalport, and the third was Chicago. When the people of Chicago Village went down the river to Bridgeport to see the first shovelful of dirt turned for the digging of the canal on July 4, 1836, the river procession stopped at Canalport, where a part of the celebration was held. There was a building there called “the new house.” The Declaration of Independence was read and speeches were made and the procession resumed its way to Bridgeport. A road was built by the commissioners to connect with the old road that ran from Durantye’s Fort, whose site id the west end of the Indiana avenue bridge, to Hardscrabble and on to the Desplaines River. A part of the course of this old road is defined today by Canalport avenue, which is about the only reminder left of the Village of Canalport, which was to be one of the towns along the waterway from Ottawa to Lake Michigan. It has been swallowed up in the greater Chicago and forgotten.
In addition to its past, the Eighth Ward has much of living interest. Its lumber region is great enough to be considered a city in itself, and not only occupies all of the south end of the Eighth Ward, but a part of the Seventh and Ninth Wards. The Eighth Ward contains a part of the Bohemian quarter, with its large institutions of the Benedictine Fathers of St. Procopius Abbey. These fathers have the big church of St. Procopius, with a school for biys, another for girls, and a college for young men. The boys’ parochial school of the Holy Family Parish is in the Eighth Ward, with a daily attendance of 1,600 boys. There are four public schools, with several branch schools, in the ward, and a high school.
Maxwell Street Police Station and police court is in the Eighth Ward, in which more crime is dealt with than in any other outlying police district. The name of Maxwell street has, however, disappeared from the maps. That thoroughfare is officially designated now as Thirteenth place, but to the people of the Eighth Ward it will forever be known as Maxwell street.
The Original Maxwell Street Market was an impromptu Ghetto market established in the late 19th century by newly arrived Jewish residents from Eastern Europe. A Sunday-only affair, it was a precursor to the flea market scene in Chicago. The market was officially recognized by the city in 1912. This image has been colorized and is taken from a souvenir guide to Chicago printed in 1908. Note the signage in Yiddish that reads “Fish Market”.
SCENE OF RAILROAD RIOTS.
The great railroad riots of 1877 were the occasion of violent outbreaks in widely scattered sections of the city. The principal battle grounds, however, were along Halsted street from Twelfth street south to the river and in the vicinity of the old Chicago, Burlington and Quincy roundhouse, at the corner of Sixteenth and Canal streets.
On Wednesday, July 25, a hard fight between rioters and police occurred at the roundhouse. After a pitched battle lasting half an hour, during which five of the rioters were shot dead, the mob was finally dispersed.
On the next day the fighting was renewed in Halsted street. By this time the troops had been called out and over 20,000 armed men ready to protect the city from the effects of mob violence. Slowly and with great difficulty the rioters were driven south until at last they made a determined stand at the Halsted street bridge. Here the police again were obliged to stand the brunt of the fighting. Bullets filled the air and the opposing forces charged back and forth across the bridge. It was the fighting at this point which inspired and imaginative reporter to declare that:
Molten humanity surged and thundered about the bridge, while the pale air was streaked with blood.
When the mob was finally dispersed, it was found that nine rioters had been killed and forty-five seriously wounded, while on the side of the police there were nineteen casualties.
There are other wards in Chicago with more greatness to boast, but none is so old as a settlement for white men and none has a history with so much romance.
Fight between the Military and the Rioters at the Halsted Street Viaduct.
Harper’s Weekly, August 1877
FATHER MARQUETTE’S VISITS.
Since Father Marquette set up his cabin to rest for the winter of 1674-’75 Chicago has made many volumes of history, but all these as they multiply have the effect of setting out in clearer light the magnificence of the perilous undertaking of the gentle Jesuit missionary and of magnifying the importance of his explorations. It was Marquette who blazed the way for the millions who now find comfort and plenty in all of the land lying west of Lake Erie.
The first visit to what is now Chicago made by Marquette was from the land side. He came up the Illinois and Desplaines rivers and across the portage to the South Branch of the Chicago River. It is probable that what is now the Twenty-eighth Ward was the first one trod by the famous explorer. That was in 1673.
Marquette came to Chicago again. The second time he came by way of the Lac des Illinois, now called Lake Michigan. This was eighteen months later, in the fall of 1674. It was then that he decided to go into winter quarters because he was ill. The spot he selected was on the north bank of the South Branch where Center avenue comes to the river. He lived in this cabin in the Eighth Ward from Dec. 14, 1674, until March 29, 1675. He returned to this spot again in May of that year. He was so sick his companions would have him halt there again, but he wished to continue his journey to the mission of St. Ignace, across from Mackinac, but he was not destined to reach there, for he died on the shore of Lake Michigan May 19, 1675.
The discovery of the Chicago River by Marquette was made when he was returning from his great journey of exploration and discovery of the upper Mississippi. The life of this heroic and self-sacrificing priest reads like a page out of the lives of the saints. The diary of his journeys is one of the most charming journals ever written. Throughout the gracefully written pages he gives evidence of his modesty and simplicity of character. He oputs his companions before himself at all times, as if he were the humblest of men. He was born in Laon, in Picardy, and was one of the most scholarly of all the learned disciples of Loyola who volunteered for the work of the Indian missions of Canada while it was a territory of France.
After his arrival in the new country he had been engaged in the missions along the St. Lawrence and was preparing for that of the Monteagnais Indians at the mouth of the Saguenay in Canada when he received orders to make ready for the Ottawa mission on Lake Superior, which was at that time in charge of Father Aliouez. He left Quebec on April 21, 1668, and sailed with the Ottawa flotilia to Sault Ste. Marie. When he reached Lake Superior he was sent to found a new mission in the Chippewa village at the Sault. He built a church there, and the next year he was transferred to the western shore of Lake Superior to succeed Father Allouez. The place was called Le Pointe and was the farthest west the French had penetrated.
With no companions but the “Hurons and Ottawas, driven from the east, and the Christian Kiskadons and scoffing Onatonks,” he labored there for a year and a half, “busily employed from the morning until night” instructing the Indians in Christianity and in useful pursuits. In 1670 he was directed to the mission of the Illinois. He was attracted to the labor by some roaming bands of the Illinois, who visited him at La Poinre and asked him to come to work among their people. These Illinois Indians told him of as great river nearly a league in width which they had traversed in coming to La Pointe. In his journal Marquette says he desired much to visit this river. He also wished to gain knowledge of the “southern or western sea.” In hi journal he says of these Indians:
The Illinois are eighty days’ journey by land from LaPointe, by a difficult road; they lie southwest from it. On the way you pass the nation of the Ketchigamins (a tribe of the Mascoutins), who lived in more than twenty large cabins. They are inland and seek to have intercourse with the French, from whom they hope to get axes, knives, and ironware. . . You pass then to the Miamiwek (Miamis) and by great deserts reach the Illinois, who are assembled chiefly in two towns containing more than 8,000 or 9,000 souls. When the Illinois come to La Pointe they pass a large river almost a league wide (the Mississippi). It runs north and south and so far that the Illinois, who do not know what canoes are, have never yet heard of its mouth. The Illinois are warriors, they make many slaves, whom they sell to the Ottawas for guns, powder, kettles, axes, and knives. They were formerly at war with the Nadouessi, but having made peace some years since—I confirmed it—to facilitate theft coming to La Pointe, where I am going to await them in order to accompany them to their country.
He did not go to the Illinois in 1670, because the Nadouessi were so alarming the Ottawas fled eastward, and with the Hurons he embarked on Lake Superior and they sailed its length in fral canoes and passed down the Strait of St. Mary’s to Mackinac. For a home they selected the jut of land on the northern side of the strait, naming it Point St. Ignace. He built a chapel of logs and the Indians erected a palisade fort about it, and Father Marquette remained with them until 1673.
It was the desire if France that all the lake region in the Northwest should be explored, so when Marquette started to visit the Illinois in the spring of 1673 he had companions and among them was Louis Joliet. The latter was eager to find the great river and to discover the mythical land of Quivira—a land reputed to be rich with gold and precious stones, and to lie in the path to the California sea. The desire if Marquette in undertaking the journey was “to seek new nations toward the south sea and to teach them of the great God whom they have hitherto unknown.”
The first visit to the site of Chicago made by Father Marquette was on his return from the land of the Illinois. In company with Louis Joliet, one other Frenchman, and five Indians, they set out from the mission of St. Ignace, opposite Mackinac, May 17, 1673. They sailed in canoes along the west shore and into Green Bay, thence up the Fox River, drew their boats across the portage, and sailed down the Mississippi River, June 17, 1673. They proceeded down the river for a week when they discovered an Indian trail leading from the bank. They put ashore and leaving their companions, Marquette and Joliet proceeded inland until they came to an Indian village. The Indians came forward to meet them. Marquette addressed them in Algonquin, asking who they were. The Indians answered saying:
We are Illinois.
and held out the pipe of peace. After a short stay the explorers proceeded down the river until they reached the mouth of the Arkansas. Then they returned, paddling up the Mississippi until they came to the Illinois, into which they turned their course. At the Village of Kaskakia they were well received by the Indians. A chief of the Indians with a band of warriors accompanied the explorers as far as Lake Michigan, the route being up the Illinois, Desplainesm and Chicago Rivers. The portage from the Desplaines was to a point in the South Branch, at what is now the foot of Center avenue, where, on his return the next year, Father Marquette built a cabin, in which he passed the winter.
In making his second visit to Chicago he started from Green Bay on Oct. 25, 1674, and followed the west shore of the lake to the mouth of the Chicago River. On Dec. 14 they reached the point in the South Branch where it was no longer navigable, and they drew out their boats to make the portage to the Desplaines on their way to the land of the Illinois. Marquette was sick, and when the boats were drawn out on the river bank he was unable to proceed.
During the winter months the pious priest employed himself, when he was able to sit up, in teaching the Indians, and on occasions he would arise and celebrate mass in the little cabin which was the first house of Christian worship in what is now Chicago.
His third visit to Chicago was in the month of May, when he was returning from the land of Illinois drooping with fatal illness. He passed over the portage and up the Chicago River and had proceeded a week’s journey along the east shore of the lake, going back to his beloved mission of St. Ignace, when he was seized with a violent illness on May 19, 1675. They ran the canoes ashore and lifted the sick priest out. They built a hut of bark for him, but that night he died. The next year, however, a party of Kiskadon Indians came from St. Ignace in a fleet of canoes and disinterred his bones and bore them back with them, forming the strangest funeral cortege the Western world has ever seen. His body was laid t rest with solemn ceremonies beneath the floor of the little chapel of St. Ignace.
Joliet’s Map of New France (1674).—Gabriel Gravier, President de la Societe Normande de Geographie, who first published a fac simile of the original map in the French Geographical Review of February, 1880, believes this to be Joliet’s earliest map, drawn by him at Montreal directly after his return from his Mississippi voyage. It was dedicated to Frontenac, then Governor of New France, and the names, Buade, given to the Mississippi, Outrelaise to the Illinois, and LaFrontenacie, to the territory between the Wisconsin and Illinois rivers—all complimentary to Canadian authoritiies—indicate it was the one first presented to Frontenac. Joliet’s later maps are dedicated to Colbert, and in them the Mississippi is named in his honor. A map bearing similar names to the above is mentioned by Parkman as being the work of Raudin, Ciount Frontenac’s engineer.
1 Ghetto: A quarter of a city in which Jews were formerly required to live. The term was originally used in Venice to describe the part of the city to which Jews were restricted and segregated but has since been applied in various contexts. Ghettos in many cities have been nicknamed “the hood”, colloquial slang for neighborhood.