Harbor and Marine [v. I, to 1857]
Table of Contents

Title Page
Harbor and Marine [v. I, to 1857]
Chicago Harbor
Marine Interests
From 1857 until the Fire of 1871
Harbor And Marine [v. III, 1871 to 1885]
Table of Illustrations

Marine Interests

The pioneer of everything in this country of the Northwest is traced to some one of the French explorers. Thus in 1679 LaSalle built the first sailing vessel of the Upper Lakes, and, launching it from Cayuga Creek, a tributary of the Niagara River, departed from "Buffalo harbor" for Green Bay. The figure-head of this crude sailing-craft -- a "griffin" -- indicated its name. The "Griffin" was therefore the father of the numerous progeny which now cover the Great Lakes, and stretch their wings toward Chicago. The next navigating craft which should be dignified by the name of the "marine of the lakes" were suggested by the requirements of the fur trade, which called for a heavier vessel than the light bark canoe of the early explorers and missionaries. The Mackinaw barge therefore appeared upon the lakes and with it the voyageurs.

"A wild-looking set were these rangers of the woods and waters," says a well-known writer. "Their wierdness [sic] was often enhanced by the dash of Indian blood. Picturesque, too, they were in their red flannel or leather shirts, and cloth caps of some gay color, finished to a point, which hung over on one side with a depending tassel. They had a genuine love for this occupation, and muscles that seemed never to tire at the paddle and oar. From dawn to sunset, with only a short interval, and sometimes no midday rest, they would ply these implements, causing the canoe or barge to fly through the water like a thing of life; but often contending against head-winds and gaining but little progress in a day's rowing. But how sweet was the rest, when a favoring breeze sprung up enabling the little craft to carry sail. Then in came the oars, down lopped each, and in a few minutes all were in the enjoyment of a sound snooze. The morning and evening meal consisted, almost universally, and from choice, of bouillon, a soup made from beans, peas or hulled corn, with a piece of pork boiled in it, and hard bread, or sea-biscuit. To the Northern voyageurs rations were generally served out of one quart of hulled corn and half a pint of bear's grease or oil, this being the daily and only food. The traveler, Henry, says (1776): 'A bushel of hulled corn, with two pounds of fat, is reckoned to be a month's subsistence. No other allowance is made, of any kind, not even salt, and bread is never thought of. After supper, pipes were lighted, and, seated on logs, or squatted around the camp-fire, they chatted until bed-time. This came early and required little preparation. To wrap a blanket around the person, placing coat or shoe-pacs beneath the head, and a little greasy pillow--the only bed that was carried--constituted the whole ceremony; and speedy and sound was the sleep, beneath the watchful stars. The labor of the oar was relieved by songs, to which each stroke kept time, with added vigor. The poet Moore has well caught the spirit of the voyageurs' melodious chant in his "Boat-song upon the St. Lawrence." But to appreciate its wild sweetness one should listen to the melody, as it wings its way over the waters softened by distance, yet every measured cadence falling distinct upon the air. These songs usually half ballad or ditty, and love, of course, the main theme, express the natural feelings of a people little governed by the restraints of civilization.'"

These barges and sailors were known at Chicago for many years, but about the year 1830 both boats and voyageurs ceased to visit the settlement, as the sloops and schooners then introduced monopolized the lake trade. As regards local marine interests, they, of course, commenced with the arrival of the first vessel at the mouth of Chicago River, after the Government had determined to establish a post and a fort here. In 1795, by treaty with the Indians, the Government came into possession of a tract of land six miles square at the mouth of that river. To this locality, in the summer of 1803, Captain John Whistler's company was ordered from Detroit to build a fort. While the troops under Lieutenant Swearingen went overland to this point, the schooner "Tracy," under its master, Dorr, was dispatched with supplies, having also on board the family of Whistlers. At St. Joseph River they left the vessel and took a row boat to Fort Dearborn.(11) On arriving at Chicago the "Tracy" anchored about half a mile from the shore, and sent her cargo ashore in boats. A sandbar shut up the mouth of the river, but there is no recollection of a sandy island at the mouth, sometimes spoken of. The schooner remained here four or five days, the stores she brought, which were sufficient to last the garrison a twelvemonth, being placed in tents. The soldiers soon made a stockade to protect the supplies from the Indians. While the vessel was there, some two thousand Indians visited the locality, being attracted by so unusual an occurrence as the appearance in these waters of "a big canoe with wings." Lieutenant Swearingen returned with the "Tracy" to Detroit. Being the first vessel of any size which visited Chicago, it is not out of place to say that this schooner and a brig were owned by the Government and were the only craft under national control on the lakes. On its return voyage, the "Tracy" stopped at Mackinaw. A boisterous storm nearly destroyed the little schooner, of only about ninety tons burden, but she finally reached Detroit in safety. In 1809 Ramsey Crooks arrived at the fort on board the "Selina." In 1814 the first merchant brig "Union" was placed on the lakes, but being considered too large (96 tons) she was laid up until the growth of trade called her again into service. Late in November, 1816, the schooner "Hercules" was wrecked in the lake between the two Calumet rivers, and all on board perished.(12) The first intelligence of the fatal catastrophe was communicated by finding the wreck of the vessel, and the bodies of the passengers strewed along the shore. Several days, however, had elapsed before this discovery was made, and the bodies were so beaten and bruised by the spars of the wreck, that the deceased could not be recognized by their features. Among these was Lieutenant William S. Evileth, an intelligent and promising young officer of engineers, whose death was much lamented. He had been employed in the rebuilding of the fort, and had embarked the day previous to the shipwreck, at Chicago, to return to his friends, after a summer spent in arduous and useful service. When the unfortunate young man was found, his face had been so gnawed by wolves that he could not have been identified, had it not been for the military buttons of his clothes.

The "marine interests" of Chicago during these early years were centered in the Mackinaw trading-boats, which belonged to the American Fur Company, and an occasional craft which stopped at the fort on Government business. During a few years succeeding the rebuilding of the fort, quite a number of vessels were built for lake service, but they mostly plied below Niagara Falls. In 1817, very soon after Fort Dearborn had been reconstructed, the schooner "Heartless" arrived off the lake shore. Attempting to run up the river she was beached in the sand. Efforts to float her proved unavailing, and there she remained, a complete wreck, and the first one which occurred within sight of Fort Dearborn. A great event in the history of the marine of the upper lakes was the trip made by the first steamboat in the fall of 1818. The "Walk-in-the-Water," built at Black Rock, arrived at Detroit on August 27, her general appearance being that of a schooner with an engine and two side-wheels. Her engine was not powerful enough to take her from the wharf at Black Rock up the rapids to the lake; so a dozen yokes or so of oxen were employed to assist. The "Walk-in-the-Water" was wrecked in Buffalo Bay, November 1, 1821. That boat left Detroit July 31, of this year, and arrived at Green Bay August 5.(13) Her tonnage was three hundred and forty-two, and her engines were what are known as "low pressure." Some time previous to 1819, a few months before Jean Baptiste Beaubien was transferred from the American Fur Company's post at Milwaukee to Chicago, the United States revenue cutter "Fairplay" arrived outside the bar, and then proceeded to enter the river. This task was successfully accomplished, and for the first time a sailing vessel, other than a yawl or Mackinaw boat, was anchored in the river just north of Fort Dearborn. A few years after the "Walk-in-the-Water" had been wrecked, various schooners, such as the "Chicago Packet" and the "Virginia," plied in these waters. In 1829, an Ohio distiller, who had touched at Mackinaw, Detroit and Milwaukee, in a vain attempt to dispose of a load of whisky, reached Chicago in his boat. After ridding himself of all but ten barrels, he proceeded on his way to Grand River. But it was not this brisk trade of 1829 which gave an impetus to lake interests; the opening of communication between Lakes Ontario and Erie was what accomplished it. Communication was first established in 1831, via Port Robinson and Chippewa, thence via Niagara River to Lake Erie. The first vessels which passed through were the "Erie" and the "Ontario," two American schooners, followed by the Canadian craft, "Anne and Jane."

During March, 1831, after the United States engineers had suggested a plan for the improvement of the harbor, an appropriation of $5,000 was obtained for the erection of a light-house. Before it was fairly completed, however, on October 30, of that year, the structure fell. A few hours before it toppled over, so confident were many there was no danger of its falling, that several went upon the top of it, some of the visitors being women. The walls were three feet thick, and the tower had been raised to a height of fifty feet. Samuel Jackson was the contractor. He claimed that the light-house was built on quick sand, which caused the building to settle and fall; others held that the cause was the defective manner in which it was built. Another tower, forty feet high, was begun and completed by Mr. Jackson in 1832. It boasted of a fourteen-inch reflector. Samuel S. Lasby was the first, and Mark Beaubien the last, keeper of the old light-house. During the year 1831 three vessels arrived in Chicago. The first, which came May 20, took away the troops to Green Bay, leaving the garrison in charge of Colonel T. J. V. Owen, the Indian Agent. The year 1832, however, may be considered the commencement of the importance of the lake marine. Not only had communication been fairly established between the Upper and the Lower lakes, but the excitement of the Black Hawk War had caused considerable travel, soldiers coming from the East to the scene of the troubles, and fugitives scattering from the western country towards the East. This Black Hawk campaign was the occasion of the arrival of Chicago's first steamer, the "Sheldon Thompson," in command of Captain A. Walker. He brought a boat load of General Scott's soldiers, July 10, 1832; also the Asiatic cholera, whose ravages are sufficiently detailed in the article on sanitary affairs. At that time there was a fleet of vessels at anchor in the offing. Some eight days after the arrival of the "Sheldon Thompson" the "William Penn" appeared in Chicago harbor, with troops and supplies. From the year 1832 different steamboats made occasional trips to Chicago, the "Daniel Webster," "Monroe," "Columbus," "Anthony Wayne," "Bunker Hill," and others. In the year 1833, three brothers, Leonard C, Peter D., and Hiram Hugunin, sailed a yacht, named the "Westward Ho," from Oswego to Chicago. After a voyage of nearly three months, they in August arrived outside the sandbar, went ashore, hired eight yoke of oxen, and hauled their vessel over the barricade into the river. The "Westward Ho" may therefore be considered the first lake boat, belonging to private parties, to fairly enter the river. The next year, when immigration to Chicago was active, the vessel interests received added impetus. Early in April a schooner arrived from St. Joseph, Mich., and two vessels cleared for that port. Between the 20th and the 30th of that month no less than one hundred immigrants arrived by boat at Chicago. The most noted of early steamers was the old "Michigan," built by Oliver Newberry, of Detroit, who, for many years, was largely engaged in the commerce of the lakes. This was the first steamboat which entered the river below Dearborn Street, arriving in June, 1834. The appearance of the first schooner, as it sailed up the river to Wolf Point was greeted with even more enthusiasm than hailed this craft. The date was July 12, 1834, and about nine o'clock in the morning the hearts of Chicago's citizens, in the language of the Democrat, were gladdened by the appearance of the splendid schooner "Illinois," as she came gliding up the river into the heart of the town, under full sail. She was a vessel of nearly one hundred tons, launched during the spring, at Sackett's Harbor, N. Y., and commanded by Captain Pickering. Her topmast was covered with streamers, and her canvas was spread to invite the gentle breeze, the banks of the river were crowded with a delighted crowd, and as she reached the wharf of Newberry & Dole, where she stopped, she was greeted with loud and repeated cheers. Her decks were immediately crowded by the citizens, all anxious to greet her commander with a warm and hearty welcome. The draw-bridge was soon raised, and she passed on to the upper end of the town, came to Ingersoll's wharf in front of the Western Stage Company. On her passage up the river more than two hundred visitors were on board. Two days after the arrival of the "Illinois," came the "Phillip." In the fall of 1834 the "Illinois" made her return trip from Cleveland, bringing provisions to the settlers at Chicago and Milwaukee. The old steamer "Michigan," made one or more pleasure trips around Lake Michigan, and she, with her veteran commander, Captain Blake, were great favorites with the traveling public. In 1834 three steamboats landed at Chicago and two at Green Bay. Such was the advent of steamers and schooners into Chicago River, and the heart of the growing town was at last connected with the navigable heart of the great Northwest. Soon afterward a large class of steamers commenced making regular trips from Buffalo, touching most of the intermediate ports. Among the number was the "James Madison," owned by Charles M. Reed, of Erie, and built with particular reference to the upper-lake trade. Her capacity for freight and passengers was the largest upon the lake at that time. Still later in 1837 came the steamer "Illinois," owned and built by Oliver Newberry and designed for the Chicago trade. She combined strength, speed and beauty, and, under Captain Blake was a favorite for many years. Says Captain Walker (formerly of the "Sheldon Thompson") in regard to the development of steamboat navigation:

"From year to year emigration to Illinois and Wisconsin continued to increase, until a daily line of boats was established between Buffalo and Chicago, while at the same time the public demands were such as to require a still further advance, and a different class and style of boat with better accommodations and increased facilities, suited to the condition and circumstances of a large class of the more refined and wealthy, who were then emigrating and settling throughout your and the adjoining states. And hence the necessity of introducing the upper-cabin boat. When the ' Great Western ' first made her appearance upon the lakes, and during the two years in which she was being built, many, who claimed to be judges, expressed doubts of the practicability and seaworthiness of that class of boats. But in a few trips she became a favorite with the public, and, notwithstanding the opinions and prejudices of a few, was the means of bringing about an entire revolution in the constrution [sic] of our steam marine upon the lakes, causing all the boats in commission and contemporary with her, to convert their lower-cabins in steerages and freight-holds, and substitute the upper-cabin. * * * It is proper here to say that the ' Great Western ' was built expressly for the upper-lake trade, and continued to make regular trips for ten successive years. Of the estimation placed upon her during those years, it is not my province here to speak, more than to say that she was designed, modeled by, and under my command during that period. At that time (1838) the principal forwarding houses in the city were Kinzie & Hunter, Newberry & Dole, Gurdon S. Hubbard, Esq., Bristol & Porter, the latter of whom were then agents and consignees for the above-named boats, Mr. Hubbard being the agent for the "Great Western." Subsequently she ran to the docks of Messrs. Walker, Smith and others as her agents and consignees."

A regular line of steamboats was established between Chicago and Buffalo in July, 1839, a boat leaving and arriving at Chicago every alternate day during the season of navigation. On the 6th of that month General Winfield Scott arrived at Chicago on the steamer "Illinois." The "Thomas Jefferson," "James Madison," "Buffalo" and "Illinois" were put upon the route.

Ship building, according to Captain Peter F. Flood, who arrived from Oswego in June, 1835, commenced in Chicago during that year. The "Clarissa" was begun in the spring of 1835, by Nelson R. Norton, but was not completed, or launched, until May 18, 1836. The "Detroit", Captain John Crawford, was built at Milwaukee in 1836-37 for the Chicago trade, at a cost of $50,000. This vessel was lost off Kenosha in November, 1837, after only six months' service. About this time (1836) an association of the then young, energetic and enterprising citizens was formed, and they commenced the building of the steamer "James Allen." It was completed in 1838, Captain C. H. Case having charge of its construction. The boat was built for a company comprising George W. Dole and J. H. Kinzie. Captain Pickering was master of the steamer. The ship-yard was on "Goose Island." The "Allen" was built to be fast, and to run across Lake Michigan from St. Joseph to Chicago, in connection with the stage and mail line. Her hull was narrow and sharp in form, and light in material. Two powerful, low pressure, horizontal engines were put on the guards, on the main deck. The boilers were small, and, on trial, proved to be insufficient. When the "Jim Allen" had steam up and started on her trial trip for St. Joseph, she went out of Chicago at a speed that pleased, as well as astonished, her owner and designer. The first fourteen miles were run inside of an hour. Then the engines began to "slow up" and the voyage took about ten hours. Every effort was made to keep up the supply of steam to the two large engines, but the result was the same as experienced during the outward trip. To use the expression of her commander, she would run the first thirty minutes "like a skeered dog," then her speed would gradally [sic] slacken to about seven miles an hour, and nothing could coax her to do any better. For two seasons, notwithstanding the utmost exertions taken, there was no improvement in the "Allen's" average rate of speed, and she was then sold and taken to the lower lakes.

The "George W. Dole" was also built by Captain Case, soon after the completion of the "James Allen," and the two run together over the St. Joseph and Michigan City route. The former was sunk at Buffalo, in 1856, having previously been changed into a sailing vessel. These were the first and only steamers built in Chicago previous to 1842. Captain Case afterward went to St. Louis.

Among the early ship chandlers were Hugunin & Pierce, Foster & Robb and Dodge & Tucker. George F. Foster came to Chicago in July, 1837, and with his nephew, George A. Robb, opened a sail loft in the attic of a two-and-a-half-story building on North Water Street. In the spring of 1839 they bought out the old firm of Hugunin & Pierce, ship chandlers and grocers, and established the first sail-making house in the West. His sons still continue in the same business.

William Avery, who built the steamboat "Chicago" arrrived [sic] at Chicago, February 25, 1837. He was a prominent steamboat builder from 1837 up to the time of his death in 1840.

In 1842 Captain James Averell established a shipyard, on the North Side, just below Rush-street bridge,(14) and very soon after Thomas Lamb commenced business near the same place. In July of that year the "Independence," the first propeller built on Lake Michigan, and the third one ever run on the lake, was launched from this ship-yard. She was a large vessel for those days, being of two hundred and sixty-two tons burden. Abaft the cabin in the "after-run" was placed an engine with which to run a propeller wheel, in case of head winds. The "Independence" was for years a successful sailing vessel, and it is claimed that she was the first steam barge of the lakes. She was wrecked on Lake Superior in 1853. In 1845-46 Captain Averill built the brigantine "S. F. Gale" for George F. Foster. He also constructed many other vessels, and of large size for those days. Among them were the schooner "Maria Hilliard," the brigs "Sultan," "Minnesota," and "Mary," the barque "Utica" and the scow "Ark," one of the first, if not the pioneer craft of that character ever constructed to navigate Lake Michigan.

Until 1841 the steam marine held sway over the lakes, and steamboats were the favorites. The old "North America," "Commodore Perry," "Illinois" and "Michigan," are well remembered. The great line between Buffalo and Chicago, with such masters as Captains Blake and Appleby, served to sustain the reputation of that kind of craft for speed and safety. "It was sometimes positively thrilling," says Levi Bishop, "to see old Captain Blake on the upper deck in a storm, as he maintained his perfect self-possession and directed the ship beneath him. * * The owner of the ' Illinois ' was a well known citizen. He was popularly known as the 'Commodore of the Lakes.' He was a Whig of the Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and John J. Crittenden school. He was a patriotic citizen, and, as expressing his sentiments and the true spirit of the State and National government, he placed at the masthead of the ' Illinois,' a steamer nearly or quite forty feet long, with the words, ' State Sovereignty and National Union' inscribed upon it in large and conspicuous letters. That old steamboat and the national sentiment were the pride of Oliver Newberry, as well as the pride and boast of all beholders."

The fall of 1841 was marked by a series of obstacles and disasters in communicating with the lower lake ports, and public opinion commenced, especially to be set against steamboat navigation. Many of the boats had already served their day, and their large and ungainly sidewheels were evidently too good marks for the heavy waves of the lakes to miss. The old steamers "United States" and "Chesapeake" and other ancient craft, on their way from Lake Erie to Chicago, were disabled more or less, and in August occurred the burning of the "Erie."

Commencing with 1843, the steamboat had a serious competitor to contend with -- the propeller. The "Vandalia," of Oswego, a sloop-rigged craft of one hundred and fifty tons was the first propeller to appear on Lake Erie, and the "Independence," built in Chicago, was launched soon afterward. Within the next two years over twenty new propellers were placed upon the lakes; one, the "A. Rosseter," coming from Chicago. This boat was wrecked on Lake Michigan in 1855.

The ship-yards of Chicago were now beginning to present unusual signs of activity. In 1845 there were constructed the schooners "Maria Hilliard," "J. Young Scammon," and "Ark;" in 1846 the barque "Utica," brig "Ellen Parker" and schooner "N. C. Walton."(15) In 1847 eight schooners had been, or were being built, in Chicago, one brig and one propeller--the "A. Rosseter"--a total tonnage of 4,833. Nineteen schooners, one propeller and one brig owned by Chicago people. The leading ship-builders at this time were Messrs. Jordan, Miller & Conners. The latter afterward formed a partnership with Riordan & Dunn, on the South Side, near Van Buren-street bridge.

The Congressional act for the erection of lighthouses was passed March 1, 1847, when $3,500 was appropriated for Chicago.

The year previous Chicago had been changed from a port of delivery, to a port of entry. In 1850 the district was divided so that Milwaukee also became a port of entry.

Chicago's importance as a marine port was further recognized by Congress in an appropriation of $10,000 for the erection of a hospital, the act being passed in 1848. The Marine Hospital was built on the east side of Michigan Avenue, in the north part of Block 5, Lots 2, 3, 4, and 5, and the south ten feet of Lot 1. These grounds were sold to the Michigan Central Railroad Company, and the building was destroyed during the fire of 1871.

From 1850 the building of vessels at Chicago, and for the Chicago trade, and their arrivals and departures formed so large an element of her commerce that it is impossible to trace each craft from the stocks to the bottom of the lake, or to record each arrival and departure, as a noteworthy event. It is not only impossible but unnecessary, and only the most important steps in the growth of the lake marine will hereafter be noticed. In March, 1853, daily communication was established with Milwaukee by a line of boats, and in July two vessels of Ward's line were put on. The opposition line started the steamer "Garden City," August 1, and a few days later direct weekly communications were opened between Chicago and Sault Ste. Marie. The "Garden City" was wrecked on a sunken reef off St. Mary River, May 19, 1854. Fortunately, all the passengers were saved. At this time Chicago had no life-boat, but was obliged to depend, in time of storm, when vessels were grounded on the bar and the lives of the crews in peril, upon such boats as steamers or propellers then in the harbor illicit have to send out. After the terrible storm of April 27, 1854, however, by which seven vessels were wrecked and seven lives lost, almost within sight of Chicago, it was urgently suggested by the Press of the city that the Government furnish a life-boat to the port. The harbor master, Captain Edward Kelly, immediately undertook the circulation of a petition for a boat. In October two life-boats were supplied. Two months previous to the time when they were obtained, Colonel Graham, in charge of the harbor improvements, had perfected his plan for the construction of a light-house. It was proposed to extend from the north pier head, crib work north and then west, in order to protect the light from the influence of storms and from contact with spars of vessels. Within this projection he proposed to build the light-house upon nine iron screw piles, eight of them forming an octagon thirty-three feet in diameter, with one in the center. The light-house was to be in the shape of a right prism, five feet above the water level. Above this it was to assume the form of a truncated pyramid, to the height of fifty-seven feet. Upon this a framework was to be erected supporting the watch-house and lantern, and giving seventy-three feet above the surface of the lake for the focal flame.

The increase of tonnage in the district including Chicago, Waukegan and Michigan City, in 1854, was very great. From the 1st of January to the 15th of May there were enrolled at the custom house forty-six vessels, with an aggregate tonnage of 9,496. With a few exceptions these were all owned in Chicago. The total tonnage of the district was 44,602.

The season of navigation for 1855 was disastrous, the storms raging with unusual fierceness during September and November. Among the casualties of local concern were the wrecking of the brig "Tuscarora" and the explosion of the steam tug "Seneca." The "Tuscarora" went to pieces in the storm of September 18, just outside the harbor, but all the crew were saved. The "Seneca" blew up while passing Randolph-street bridge, October 16, 1855. The explosion tore the upper works of the boat to pieces, and killed the captain and engineer. The "Seneca" was an old boat, having been in use since 1847. The cause of the explosion was not known, owing to the death of the engineer; but from the fact that the boiler was subsequently taken out of the river, and found to be intact, it is supposed that the explosion was due to a defective steam pipe. During October the schooner " Mark H. Sibley" and the barque "Pathfinder" were sunk in the outer harbor. The season of 1856 was even more fruitful of disasters than the previous year. In May the propeller "Bay State," in approaching the harbor, struck a sunken anchor about forty rods from the pier, and went down in five minutes. The steamer "Northern Indiana" took fire near Toledo, in July, and burned to the water's edge. Some Chicago citizens were on board. The brigs "A. R. Cobb" and "Happy Go Lucky" went to pieces on the pier, October 13. During the storm of October 24, several vessels were wrecked outside Chicago harbor. The scow "Yankee," the schooner "General Taylor" and the barque "Quebec" were all more or less disabled. Several vessels were also scuttled and sunk while attempting to enter the harbor during the storm of November 6. The schooners "N. C. Walton" and "Charles Howard" were wrecked on the pier of the outer harbor, December 2, and a few days afterward navigation closed.

It was during this year (July, 1856) that the first direct clearance was made from Lake Michigan for Europe by the steamer "Dean Richmond." The consignor was C. J. Kershaw, of Montreal, who hoped to ship a full cargo of wheat from Chicago; but here he could only obtain 5,000 bushels and was forced to seek the balance--9,320 bushels--at Milwaukee. She left Chicago about July 14, had her full cargo on the 18th, and sailed for Europe on the 19th. The "Dean Richmond" was a new vessel. She arrived in Liverpool on the 29th of September; the trip from her docks at Cleveland to Chicago being her first, and her European voyage her second. The trade between Chicago and Canada was now gathering considerable volume. In 1857 it amounted to over $222,000. The vessels regularly engaged in the trade between Chicago and the other lake ports during this year were those of the American Transportation, Western Transportation, Northern Transportation, the Clement Steamboat, and the Lake Navigation companies; and those of the People's Buffalo and Chicago, Old Oswego, Chicago and Lake Superior lines. Quite a noted foreign arrival was that of the "Madeira Pet," which left Liverpool April 24 and arrived off Chicago harbor July 14, 1857, entering the river in the afternoon and anchoring at the north pier. About this time the Democratic Press describes the measures taken to protect the lake marine as:

"First the light-house, well enough when it was built twenty years ago, but now surrounded and shut from the view of the mariner by a number of higher buildings between it and the lake-- perfectly useless--but lighted up punctually and carefully every night. Then came sundry old houses and any quantity of scows and old dredging machines and piles of timber, rotten and falling to pieces. One cannot help thinking how much good they might have done, if worn out in actual service, or calculating how many dollars were 'sunk' in their construction and accumulation. Then come the piers--gone to decay, under the power of the elements, until it is scarcely possible for sailors to walk along them to carry their lines, and hardly a 'snubbing post' where they can ' take a turn' or 'make fast.' Outside lies the bar. It cannot be seen, it is true, but there it is, and has been these many years, periling property and life, while for more than a year $18,000 unexpended appropriation for this harbor has lain in the treasury, and not even a buoy has been placed to mark out the dangers to the tempest-tossed seeking for safety."

The Press drew attention to the effective work which was being accomplished by the Illinois Central Railroad, in the way of piers, breakwater, etc., and suggested that the company and the city take hold of the harbor improvements and "snap their fingers in the face of niggardly Uncle Sam." This crushing course of procedure, however, was not taken, and eventually Uncle Sam came to his senses.

LIGHT-HOUSE KEEPERS.--The first light-house keeper was Samuel C. Lasby, then William M. Stevens was keeper, then John C. Gibson; then William M. Stevens again held the office. The directories of Chicago give the following as light-house keepers, during the periods specified, and John Wentworth(16) gives the names of the Presidents appointing them, as prefixed to their names : Harrison--Silas Meacham, 1844; Polk --James Long, 1845 to 1849; Taylor--Charles Douglass, 1850 to 1852; Pierce--Henry Fuller, 1853 to 1855; Buchanan--Mark Beaubien, February 19, 1855, to October 7, 1859, at which latter date he resigned.

CUSTOM HOUSE AND COLLECTORS.(17) -- Before the establishment of Chicago as a port of entry, the town was a tributary to the Detroit District, and the revenue was collected by Seth Johnson, formerly an officer of the garrison, with the office at 38 Clark street. Upon April 1, 1846, William B. Snowhook was appointed special surveyor of the port of Chicago, and after the making of Chicago as a port of entry by the act of July 16, 1846, on August 10, 1846, he was appointed Collector of the Port; some time during his administration removing the custom-house to No. 3 Clark Street.

WILLIAM B. SNOWHOOK was born in Raheen, Queen's County, Ireland, on March 25, 1804, and left the land of his birth when only eight or nine years old, for New York. At the printing office of Thomas McElrath, he learned the trade, under the tuition of William F. Porter; William B. Snowhook and Horace Greeley working together in this office for some time. About the age of sixteen, Mr. Snowhook paid a visit to Ireland, where he remained for two years, and then went to New Orleans and engaged in building levees by contract, afterward returning to New York and contracting for the building of a portion of the Morris & Essex Canal. The performance of this work gained him a reputation, and he received a contract for building a portion of the Maumee Canal; upon the completion of which he came to Chicago, in the early part of 1836, and, with William B. Ogden, George W. Snow and others, he took a contract on the construction of the Illinois & Michigan Canal. In the directory for 1844 he is designated as a grocer, with his store on Clark Street, near South Water; about 1848 the firm becoming Lonergan & Snowhook, remaining under this style until about 1851, when Thomas Lonergan retired, and Mr. Snowhook gave his attention to the produce commission business, in which branch of business he was a pioneer. Mr. Snow-hook raised and equipped the Montgomery Guards, of which company he was Fourth Sergeant, warranted April 8, 1842; First Lieutenant, commissioned May 2, 1842, and Captain, commissioned April 3, 1847, and in 1846, during the Mormon disturbances at Nauvoo, Governor Ford commissioned him Colonel on his staff, which military title clung to him until his death. In 1847 he was Alderman of the Eighth Ward. In 1855 he gave up active business to follow the study of the law, and in 1857 was admitted to the Bar, varying his legal studies by running against John L. Wilson for Sheriff, in 1856, by whom he was defeated. He also took a course of lectures in the law department of the Chicago University, graduating from that institution with honor in 1858. In 1860 he associated himself with Samuel A. Irvin. In 1861, at the outbreak of the Civil War, Colonel Snowhook was authorized to recruit men for the volunteer service, and was largely instrumental in raising men for the famed Irish Brigade. For his work in this behalf he received the thanks of the Governor. In 1865 the firm of Irvin & Snowhook was dissolved, and Colonel Snow-hook took George W. Gray as a law partner, the firm subsequently becoming Snowhook, Johnston & Gray, and so remaining until the day of his death, on May 5, 1882. Colonel Snowhook was twice married, his second wife dying in 1870. He left two children, Patrick W. Snowhook, a member of the law firm, and Mrs. Mary Tuttle.

On May 3, 1849, Jacob Russell was appointed Collector, and Valentine A. Boyer was Deputy Collector, which latter position was occupied by James Breck, Jr., in 1850. In 1852 the custom-house was located at 129 South Water Street. Upon March 18, 1853, William B. Snowhook was re-appointed Collector, Philip Conly succeeding him on July 10, 1855; and in the year 1856 the custom-house was removed to 13 LaSalle Street. In 1856, Philip Conly is designated as sub-treasurer of the United States, and in this year Thomas J. Kinsella was Deputy Collector. March 31, 1857, Jacob Fry was appointed Collector, retaining that position until June 15, 1858, when Bolton F. Strother was appointed, at which time Frederick C. Russell was Deputy Collector. In 1836, the exports were $1,000.64, and the imports $325,203.90; while in 1857 the imports from Canada were $326,325, and the duties on imports at Chicago were $143,009.23; while the value of exports, in 1857, was $1,585,096.

In 1843, there was a Government agent resident at Fort Dearborn named Charles L. Schlatter, who was succeeded by William Gamble, in 1845, whose province was to oversee the improvements made in the harbor; William Gamble remained in charge until the work was taken charge of by the topographical engineers.

Notes

11. Chicago "Antiquities," interview with Mrs. William Whistler. Also Colonel James S. Swearingen's statements to Rev. Dr. Barry.

12. See Schoolcraft's Narrative Journal for 1820, pp. 393, 394. By other authorities the wreck is said to have occurred early in October, 1818.

13. Letter of A, H. Edwards, page 42, John Wentworth's "Fort Dearborn."

14. Colbert's "Chicago."

15. Statistics prepared by Jesse B. Thomas, by authority of the River and Harbor Convention of 1847.

16. "Fort Dearborn," by John Wentworth, LL. D., Fergus's Histrical [sic] Series.

17. Hon. Charles T. Folger, Secretary of the Treasury, courteously furnished valuable information on this subject.

 


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A selection of marine information and illustrations from this magnificent three volume history of Chicago.