In the month of July 1849, Engineer J. D. Webster, who succeeded Mr. Schlatter, reported to the lieutenant-colonel of engineers plans for a larger and permanent light-house at the end of the North Pier. These plans embraced a foundation forty-four feet square, a base twenty-five feet in height; an iron framework, sixty-five feet in height; for foundations, sunken stone cribs, containing large rubble with small stone and gravel, to make the whole a compact mass; piles to be driven inside and outside of the piers; cut stone or heavy masonry for the base, beginning two or three feet below low water, and carried ten feet above; eight cast-iron columns for the light house frame; superstructure of cast-iron columns twenty feet in length; height sixty-five feet to deck of lantern; weight of iron work 75,000 pounds. This work was undertaken with an original appropriation of $15,000. January 11, 1849, the Illinois Assembly passed an act to deed the lighthouse site to the Government, and the deed was signed November 27, 1849. In April, 1850, Engineer Webster proposed to overcome the difficulty of the constantly accumulating side bars of silt at the ends of the piers, by straightening the mouth of the river, getting a strong and regular current that would carry the deposits out into the Lake, making a single bar some distance out instead of allowing one to form on each side, and leaving the entrance free and clear to the north and south. We quote his own words in this connection:
"I want a natural force to bring about a natural result, and I propose to assist nature rather than attempt to retard the tendency of the currents to form these obstacles to a clear entrance."
To do this, required some dredging, some cutting away of the inner banks of the river, and the curves of the piers were changed slightly; but the improvements were eventually accomplished with beneficial and lasting results to the commerce of the greatest of lake ports.
In July, 1850, claimants to the accretions north of the North Pier put in an appearance, and they even laid claim to the pier itself, and the light-house as well; but Mr. Webster maintained the right of the Government to the land, and protected the interests in his charge. In the spring of 1850, the city made an appropriation for dredging a channel through the north bar, and when this work was carried out, the first pier for the lighthouse foundations, which had been in course of construction, was safely floated to its anchorage at the head of the North Pier, and the light eventually finished but the original plans were amended.
Colonel J. D. Graham, in charge of improvements of works on Lake Michigan, April 7, 1854, to April 14, 1864; station, Chicago, Ill., to August, 1854; Detroit, Mich., to April 14, 1864. Major W. F. Raynolds, in charge April 14, 1864 to October, 1864; station, Detroit, Mich. Lieutenant-Colonel T. J. Cram, in charge October, 1864, to August 3, 1865; station, Detroit, Mich. Lieutenant-Colonel L. Sitgreaves, in charge August 3, 1865, to June 11, 1866; station, Milwaukee, Wis. Major J. B. Wheeler, in charge June 11, 1866, to February 11, 1870; station, Milwaukee, Wis. Captain A. Mackenzie, assistant to Major Wheeler, June 11, 1866, to November 10, 1868; station, Milwaukee, Wis. Lieutenant J. B. Quinn, assistant to Major Wheeler, September, 1866, to September 20, 1867; station, Milwaukee, Wis. Captain D. P. Heap, assistant to Major Wheeler, April 12, 1867, to February 18, 1870; station, Milwaukee, Wis. Captain J. W. Cuyler, assistant to Major Wheeler, November 10, 1868, to February 18, 1870; assistant to Colonel Houston, May 18, 1870, to February 5, 1874; station, Milwaukee, Wis. Major W. E. Merrill) chief engineer on the staff of the Lieutenant-General commanding the Military Division of the Missouri, March 27, 1869, to May 3, 1870; in charge of improvements of harbor at Chicago, February 18, 1870, to May 25, 1870; station, Chicago, Ill. Major D. C. Houston, May 25, 1870, to July 14, 1874; station, Milwaukee, Wis., to April 1, 1871; Chicago, April 1, 1871, to April, 1875. Captain A. M. Miller, assistant to officers in charge of harbor improvement on Lake Michigan, April 1, 1871, to August 12, 1872; station, Milwaukee. Major J. W. Barlow, chief engineer on the staff of the Lieutenant-General of the Military Division of the Missouri, May 3, 1870, to July 14, 1874; station, Chicago, Ill.
LIGHT-HOUSE KEEPERS.--The keeper of the first Chicago Light-House was Samuel C. Lasby, who was followed by William M. Stevens and John C. Gibson, respectively. William M. Stevens then again held the post a second term. Silas Meacham was appointed ' Light-house keeper by President Harrison in 1844, James Long by President Polk, 1845 to 1849. The official list of Light-house keepers appointed subsequently, with their respective term of service, is as follows: Charles Douglas, appointed by President Taylor, in 1850, was retained July 25, 1853. Henry Fuller, appointed October 30, 1853; full term. Mark Beaubien, July 29, 1855; removed in 1859. M. Walsh, October 8, 1859. John Lobstein, May 21, 1860; full term. Leonard Miller, December 6, 1866; removed in 1869. Charles H. Boynton, September 28, 1869; transferred, in 1874, to Grosse Point light. Charles H. Rann, April 9, 1874; resigned in 1875. Antony Hagen, June 23, 1875; full term. During the terms of the above keepers, the first assistant keepers were Joel Westhrach, Mrs. Emily Boynton, Amasa J. Boynton, Oscar B. Gaedme, Amasa J. Boynton, Adilon Benoit, Charles F. Rann, promoted, and Antony Hagen, promoted.
JACOB HARRIS, one of the pioneer contractors and builders of Chicago, was born in the town of Seymour, Ontario, in 1814. His youthful days were spent in working on the farm in the summer and attending school in the winter. At the age of seventeen, he commenced an apprenticeship at the carpenter trade, serving three years' time, during which period he perfected himself in all the details of the business. In the spring of 1837, he made his way to Detroit, Mich., from which place he took a boat for Chicago, the passage occupying three weeks. His first employment in the city was upon the government pier. The following year he engaged in contracting and building for himself, which business he followed successfully for about thirty years. He erected a great many of our prominent buildings, prior to and after the fire--in fact, was closely identified with the growth of Chicago from the date of her incorporation as a village, in 1837, until the time of his death, in 1877. He held the office of alderman from the Fourth Ward under John Wentworth's administration. He was a member of Waubansia Lodge, No. 160 A. F. & A. M. His life was a busy and successful one, he having been one of the pioneer settlers who laid the foundation of this city of over half a million people.
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A selection of marine information and illustrations from this magnificent three volume history of Chicago.