Chicago Tribune, June 10, 1900
HE group of wards formed by the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Sixteenth of the city’s political divisions contains some the sites of some of the first things that contributed to Chicago’s history. The first butcher Chicago ever had built the first mansion Chicago ever saw in what is now the Fifteenth Ward. This was Archibald Clybourn, for whom Clyborne avenue and Clybourne place are named. The mansion he built would be called a pretentious residence if it were standing anywhere in Chicago today. It was torn down only a few years ago.
In the Sixteenth Ward the first saw mill ever established within the present bounds of Chicago was erected. At a point on the west bank of the North Branch, just below West Division street, and opposite Goose Island, was the mouth of Hickory Creek. This was a little brook that meandered from the west through a heavy oak oak woods which at the time covered nearly all of the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Sixteenth Wards. At the mouth of the creek Gurdon S. Hubbard established a saw mill in 1832 to saw planks for the building of the government pier, which was erected where the north pier now stands at the mouth of the Chicago River. The timber was so plentiful there and to be had for the chopping of it that other sawmills were started. Thus it came about that Chicago’s first lumber district was in what is now the Sixteenth Ward.
The history of Chicago from the time it began to be a town until the beginning of the civil war could not well be written if the affairs of Archibald Clybourn and Gurdon S. Hubbard were left out. Archibald Clybourn first came to Chicago from Virginia in 1823, and a year later he brought his parents here and established his home on the North Branch, but on the east side of it, in what is now the Twentieth Ward. He built a slaughter-house and began to kill cattle for the garrison at Fort Dearborn.
BEGINNING OF THE MEAT INDUSTRY.
Clybourn being the first man to slaughter cattle and fill contracts for beef in Chicago, his place may be regarded as the beginning of the great meat packing industry that has created a city in itself in the South Side. He increased his business until his government contracts caused him to increase the size of the little slaughter-house until it was so large that three men were employed there, and he was shipping meat as far as Mackinac. He built a log residence on the West Side of the river in the Fifteenth Ward in 1834, and two years later he began the construction of the mansion, which was built of brick. It was a large, two-story house with a broad veranda, and was a wonderful place for those early days. It was taken out of the possession of his heirs in later years by reason of some technical flaw in the title, and the widow, who still lives with her daughter in the Twentieth Ward, was disposed of it, and eventually it was torn down to make way for a big iron working establishment. It stood on the east side of Elston avenue, just south of Clybourn place.
This first butcher and meat shipper of Chicago was also the first constable. In 1826 he was elected to this office. At that time Chicago was in Peoria County, and Peoria was the county seat. The first election precinct of the county embraced all of the territory in the north end of the State lying east of the Du Page River.
In 1829 Clybourn, in partnership with Samuel Miller, was licensed to run a ferry across the south of the Kinzie street bridge. He paid a license of $2 a year for the privilege, and gave a bond of $100 to guarantee that he would run a ferry at convenient times. The county records show that the rate of ferriage was “to be one-half of the sum charged by John L. Bogardus for ferrying men and animals at his ferry in Peoria.”
Other honors came to Clybourn, for in the latter part of 1829 he and Samuel Miller and Jean Baptiste Beaubien were made the first school trustees of Chicago, and two years later he was a justice of the peace. He died in the old mansion in 1872. Mrs. Clybourn is still in vigorous health, and her memory of early days is still clear. Her home is with her daughter, Mrs. John C. Parker, 135 Seminary avenue, in the Twentieth Ward. She lived in Chicago when the Indians were troublesome. She was Miss Mary Galloway, and her father was James Galloway, who came from Sandusky, O., in 1826, bringing his wife and daughter and a stock of goods. The American Fur company confiscated his goods as soon as they were landed from the schooner, on the ground that the company had the exclusive right to sell goods to the Indians, who were about the only people in Chicago then who bought goods. Mr. Galloway went to live on a little farm in “Hardscrabble,” the spot of the Eighth Ward made dear to historiams of the city by Father Marquette’s cabin.
Mary Galloway was then 16 years old and very beautiful. She was courted by the young officers of the fort and the other eligible young men thereabouts. Archibald Clybourn was dashing young fellow then, the constable of the whole north end of Illinois and prosperous government, and meat contractor. He was the successful suitor. One son, James A. Clybourn, continues the butcher business at 434 North Clark street, preserving the continuity og the first butcher establishment in Chicago.
THE FIRST SAWMILL.
Gurdon S. Hubbard, the first sawmill man in Chicago, lived to be the last survivor of the men who were pioneers in this country. He came to Chicago in 1818 as a courier for the American Fur company. He afterwards established a business for himself, and continued it until 1834, when the Indians were driven out of the country. Then he devoted himself to other industries.
The first great manufacturing industry in Chicago was located in the Fifteenth Ward in 1857, when the North Chicago rolling mills were established. They were built for the purpose of rerolling iron rails. It was found that the rails of early railroads, which were made of iron, did not wear long, and Captain E. R. Ward of Detroit was the first man with enough capital for the enterprise, who saw the possibilities of making money for working over the old rails. He established the mills, and immediately the “Rolling Mill Community” sprang up around them. For a long while the industry kept pace with the times, once it ran ahead of them.
It was in 1865 when an epoch in the steel industry was marked in these mills. The new process of making steel rails had been completed in 1865, but had never been tested. In that year, on June 17, a steel rail was rolled there, and it was the first ever made in this country. The mills have been put in new buildings across the river and have become a part, first of the Illinois Steel company and recently the great Federal Steel company, the trust that controls all of the rolling mills hereabouts.
Although Captain Ward was the greatest business-man of the lake regions in his day his name is not familiar to people of Chicago now. It is not commonly known that it is his daughter who has attracted so much attention in two hemispheres recently under the name of Princess Chimay. She was Clara Ward, and after being educated in France she married a Belgian Prince of the ancient Walloon castle town of Chimay. He was a mild mannered man, and dropped into retirement when his American Princess ran off with the gypsy violinist Rigo.
“A WANDERING SCHOOLHOUSE.”
In the Fifteenth and Fourteenth Wards one finds the footprints of the “wandering schoolhouse.” The building was regarded as a fine one when it was erected in 1855 in the Twelfth Ward at Warren and Hermitage avenues, where the Brown School stands. It was called the Brown School while it stood there. In 1858 it was moved to Ashland and Cornelia streets, where it became the Hamilton School, the present Hamilton School standing on the same lot. It remained there until 1866, when it was deemed advisable to replace Hamilton the Hsmilton School with a modern brick building. The old frame house that had been imported from the Twelfth Ward was pushed over into the Fifteenth Ward. It was given a resting place at Ashland and Wabansia avenues, and the children of the rolling mill employees were taught there, and the school was known as the “Rolling Mill School.” It served the purpose of a home for education under that name for six years, and then it was given another push, because the community had got populous and prosperous enough to want a nice big brick school building.
Once more the old school house was put on wheels and started for a new home. It was carted around for a while and finally dropped down in Evergreen avenue, where the Wicker Park School Building now stands. It was then called the Wicker Park School, and was again used by children of the Fourteenth Ward, until a brick building finally replaced it.
The almost forgotten village of Holstein is in the Fifteenth Ward. In the later ’40s, when German emigration first began to pour into Chicago, a settlement was made just beyond the northwest corner of the city limits, as they were then determined. This settlement, which grew rapidly, was bounded on the south by North avenue and on the west by Western avenue. It was called Holstein because most of the settlers were from the principality of Holstein. It had become a thriving, populous village, with schools and other improvements, when the city limits were extended to Western avenue in 1857 and it was taken into Chicago.
The Fourteenth Ward contains more Turner halls than any ward in Chicago. The Turner societies have four halls of their own in that ward and several others not built by themselves that they use. The crowning feature of German pride is also in the Fourteenth Ward, Humboldt Park. It is one of the finest of the large parks in Chicago and contains a handsome bronze statue of the great German naturalist and explorer, Baron Friedrich Heinrich von Humboldt. The oar contains more than 200 acres and has a mineral well of famous water.
Around Milwaukee Avenue and Division Street
A FOREIGN COLONY.
More Polacks live in Chicago than in any city in the world, and more of them are in the Sixteenth Ward than in any other Ward. They have a fine large building devoted to the purposes of the headquarters of the organization of Polish societies of America. They have the largest church building in Chicago—St. Stanislaus Kotska’s Catholic Church, in Noble street, near Bradley. The communicants of this parish number more than 30,000, which is said to be the largest congregation in the world for any Christian church. One of the largest assembly halls in the Northwest Side is the school hall attached to this parish. In the Fifteenth and in the Fourteenth Wards also many thousands of Polish-Americans make their residence.
Before any white men ventured there to make homes for themselves the Sixteenth Ward was the site of a large Indian village. It was peopled by Pottawattamies and centered about the mouth of Hickory Creek, just below Division street. There was a heavy forest covering most of the ward, and it was not only a suitable place of residence for the aborigines, but a good hunting ground.
LAST VESTIGE OF SAVAGERY.
When the Indians gathered about Chicago in 1836 to receive the last payment from the government for the sale of their lands they made a camp in the forest, which was spread out mostly in the Sixteenth Ward. It was the last big tepee village within the territory of Chicago. When the Indians struck their wigwams there they left Chicago forever, except to return as curiosities in traveling shows. The great half-breed chief, Billy Caldwell, the Sauganash, who had been living a civilized life in Chicago, went with them. This chief made his residence in the Twenty-fourth Ward. It was the first frame house built in Chicago. There were two other half-breed chiefs living in Chicago at that time. Caldwell was half Irish, Alexander Robinson, who lived in the Eighteenth Ward, was half Scotch, and Joseph La Framboise, who lived in the First Ward, was half French. All three of them had Pottawattamie mothers. Caldwell’s father was a Colonel in the British army and was stationed in Detroit. The boy was well educated by the Jesuits, but joined his mother’s people, and after serving as chief of staff to Little Turtle and Tecumseh in the two great Indian battles of the Northwest of the early days, he returned to civilization. His reason for going back to his Indian relatives when they left Illinois was that he was dissatisfied and wounded in his feelings by the way the government treated the Indians. He always exerted his influence among the Indians in favor of civilization. The other half-breed chiefs did not go away with the Indians, but remained in Chicago and bought town lots.