In our history of the Northwest Territory we have alluded very briefly to this most intrepid and distinguished explorer, in whose honor our flourishing city was named, and who as the leader in the great expedition with Father Marquette, 1673, was the discoverer of not only the Mississippi river, in its entirety, but also was the first white man to set foot upon the soil of what is now the Prairie state, and if the theories and conjectures are true as regards their voyage up the Illinois river to Lake Michigan, that they passed up the Desplaines to the portage across the lake, and hence they were the first white men to set foot upon the present site of our city.
It is certain that Father Marquette, after his winter of sickness in the lone cabin on the banks of the Chicago river, in the winter of 1674 and 1675, that on recovering somewhat he started to visit the Kaskaskia Indians, in the village on “Illinois Lake,” near the present site of Utica, on the 27th of March, 1675, going by way of Mud lake and Desplaines river, and reached the village on the 8th of April following, and the strong probability is that, having passed up that river and over the portage with Joliet on his return from the Mississippi expedition in 1673, he selected it for his return to the Illinois.
Louis Joliet was born in Quebec, September 21, 1645. He was a son of Jean Joliet, an humble mechanic of very limited means. When of proper age he was placed in a Jesuit seminary, in his native town. There he made excellent progress in his studies and evinced a special taste for hydrography, and greatly excelled the other members of his class in that art. Completing his studies at the seminary in 1666, he took some minor orders in the church, but soon discovered that he had no call for the priesthood and therefore turned his attention to the occupation of a trader. He went to France in 1667 and remained there a year, when he returned to Quebec with a young companion, commissioner by the Intendant of France, M. Talon, to look for copper mines in the western region of Lake Superior, but he returned with the least of success in his mission.
The selection of Father Marquette as the companion of Louis Joliet in his proposed exploration of the Mississippi river, was on recommendation of the superior general of the Jesuits of Quebec. He was doubtless chosen on account of his known zeal for the conversion of the western Indians and his proficiency in the dialects of the different tribes. Father Marquette was delighted with the proposal, and during the ensuing winter they made the necessary preparations for their journey. They took all necessary precautions regarding their hazardous undertaking, resolved that if it was hazardous it should not be foolhardy. They therefore obtained from the natives who had visited those regions all possible information regarding the new country, and from their accounts traced a rude map of it, marking down the rivers on which they were to sail, the names of the tribes of natives through whose countries they were to pass, the course of the great river, and what course they should take to get to it. This map was afterwards found to be of the greatest value to them in their journey, and in the main was quite correct.
We have already given our readers a history of the first voyage of the hardy explorers down the Father of Waters, and of their return up the Illinois and Lake Michigan to St. Ignace, and the mission on Green Bay. There the two explorers separated, never to meet again on earth. Of the subsequent career of this most remarkable man there is little to be said. October 16, 1675, he married Claire Frances Bissot, daughter of a wealthy Quebec merchant, who was extensively engaged in trade with the northern Indians. In 1679 he made a journey of exploration to Hudson bay, going by way of the St. Lawrence and Saguenay rivers. The year following, after his return, the provincial government gave him as compensation for his valuable services the large but barren island of Anticosti, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. He took possession in 1681 and erected a fortified house upon it, and removed his family there. But in 1681 his house was destroyed by a naval force from New England, under the command of Sir William Phipps, who was on his way to attack Quebec, and Joliet’s wife and mother-in-law were made prisoners and held for some months. In 1693 he was appointed the royal pilot of the St. Lawrence river, and the same year explored and mapped the bleak coast of Labrador. April 30, 1697, he was invested with the “Seigneury of Jolliette,” a large and since valuable estate lying on the north side of the St. Lawrence river, below Montreal, which is still held by his posterity.
Louis Joliet died in May, 1700, and was buried on one of the Magnan islands, in the St. Lawrence river. He was not what might be called a very brilliant man, but he was an intelligent, well educated man, ambitious and enterprising, undaunted by difficulty or danger, and faithful in the performance of every duty. Few, if any, of his contemporaries contributed more than he did to the geographical knowledge of this continent. His name has been fittingly preserved in our now most flourishing city, and in many other localities, especially in the Dominion of Quebec. His descendants seem to have inherited his talents, as well as his many virtues, and several of them hold positions of trust and responsibility, civil and ecclesiastical, in the Dominion.
Louis Joliet is described as a man of medium stature, with a lithe, agile figure, black hair and eyes, sharply cut features, and a somewhat swarthy complexion, the same being the physical characteristics of the average French Canadian.
Joliet Fifty Years Ago
In 1856 Rev. Henry R. Walworth, then the pastor of the Universalist church in this city, published a small pamphlet entitled, “Progress, Resources and Prospects of the City of Joliet, Will County, Illinois.” The pamphlet has maps of the city, as it then was, with the railroads all centering there. There are nine railroads marked on the map, but only three were then completed. It is quite interesting to note the great changes in the city since this little pamphlet was published. In order to give the reader some idea of what Joliet then was, we will give some extracts from Mr. Walworth’s little booklet:
Means of Access
Joliet can be reached from every quarter—east, west, north and south, by means of railroads. It is destined to be one of the most important railroad centers in the Union. There are already built and in process of building nine railroads, eight of which terminate in Joliet. Three of these are now finished and in operation.
The oldest road is the Chicago & Rock Island, which passes from Chicago through Joliet, and strikes the Mississippi at Rock Island. From Rock Island the line of travel is continued westward by the Mississippi & Missouri railroad, so that persons intending to go farther west than this place can not do better than to pass through this city.
Another important line of travel is the Chicago, Alton & St. Louis railroad, which commences at the city of Joliet and strikes the Mississippi river at Alton, twenty-four miles north of St. Louis. Here the communication is opened with the whole south. The Joliet & Northern Indiana railroad, or ‘cut-off,’ strikes this southern route at Joliet, and there is no detention of travelers. This road has by means of the Chicago & Rock Island, formerly, and at present, by means of the ‘cut-off’ and Illinois Central track, the privilege of forwarding passengers without change of cars or baggage, and with no delay whatever.
The most important railroad for eastern travelers is the Joliet & Northern Indiana railroad, known as the ‘cut-off,’ so-called because in going to the west and south it is forty miles shorter than to go by way of Chicago, and it cuts off a great expense which the stoppage in that city taxes all travelers. It connects by way of Detroit all the great eastern routes of travel, and is the most direct line for persons going to St. Louis, to northern Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska or Kansas. All eastern people destined for those places must inevtitably pass through Joliet, and they can save travel and money by coming direct to this place and shunning the crooked route and expensive charges of Chicago.
Unfinished Railroads Chartered and Contemplated.
- Joliet & Elgin.
- Joliet & Mendota.
- Joliet & LaFayette.
- Joliet & Terre Haute.
- Joliet & Freeport.
- Joliet & Chicago.
Of these six roads, only one was ever built, and that was the Joliet & Chicago. That was completed in 1857 and is now a part of the Chicago & Alton system.
Mr. Walworth then goes on to speak of the population of Joliet and of the business done here, as follows:
In order to give a correct idea of the city of Joliet it will be requisite to go back a short period. The first settlement in this region was made a little over twenty years ago, and on the maps of the Illinois & Michigan canal it will be found as ‘McGee’s Mill Dam,’ while the village of Lockport, just north of us, flourished in capitals. But both places from that time up to within four years of the present grew but slowly. They were villages of a hundred or two houses. Lockport remains nearly where it was at that time, while Joliet has progressed rapidly since the first railroad was finished. The village, or rather what is now the city of Joliet, according to the census of 1850, contained a little less than 2,000 inhabitants. In 1851 the number had diminished rather than increased, but in 1852 the village began to feel the impulse of the enterprising citizens who had struggled for the Rock Island railroad and the name of Joliet began to be mentioned as a thriving town. The greater portion of its growth, however, has been during the past two years and a half. During this period it has more than doubled in population. The city proper now contains 5,200 inhabitants by actual enumeration, while the town and city have 5,900. The city is still increasing very rapidly, buildings are continually going up in all directions, and not a single habitable place but has its occupants. The demand for stores and dwellings is constant, and many fine buildings will be erected this spring and summer.
The best feature of this growth in numbers is to be seen in the character of the population. They are mostly industrious, enterprising citizens from the eastern states, and from central and western New York. A person coming from any portion of the east almost invariably meets some neighbor or friend in our city. The appearance of the people and place will be familiar at once, with the single exception that he will see innumerable dwellings and stores in process of erection here, in strong contrast with eastern towns where growth is so slow and orderly.
In speaking of the buildings in the city, the old court house and the two school houses, it says:
We have the court house of Will county, a capacious stone building, situated on the public square. Our Union school houses, the one of stone and the other of brick, are large buildings, the last of which, built in 1855, costing upwards of $15,000. Our churches are all that could be expected from a city as young as ours. The First Universalist society have made arrangements for building the coming season a fine edifice of blue stone, to cost at least $15,000. Our woolen factory is a large stone building at the foot of the lower basin, on Jefferson street, east side of the river.
The foundry and plow factory is a fine establishment, at the cost of several thousand dollars, in the northern limits of the city. A fine new flouring mill of extensive proportions, the machinery of which is already built, is to be erected on the grounds adjoining the foundry.
The water power of Joliet consists of three distinct dams across the Desplaines river. Two of these, sixteen feet each, are built by the Illinois & Michigan canal, which at this city unites with the Desplaines river, and for one mile the river forms two large basins in the heart of the eity. The third dam, fourteen feet fall, is that of the flour and saw mill, just south of the point at which the canal leaves the Desplaines river.
The three dams form a water power at least equal to any in the west. The extensive basins are all that is needed to carry on a vast commerce, and should the deep cut be made for the canal Joliet will be as advantageously situated to command the lake commerce as any of the lake cities. Joliet is the point to which all communication with the east and west would most naturally come. It only needs a proper investigation by men of capital, and by persons of business tact and energy to make it one of the largest and most populous cities of the west.
The character of our present population can not be better set forth than in a short history of the improvements which have taken place during the past few years, and the obstacles which the people have met and overcome.
When it was proposed to build the Chicago & Rock Island railroad the city of Chicago was deeply interested in the road to Galena, and threw its whole influence against the Rock Island road. It was looked upon by them as an attempt to injure Chicago and build up Joliet at its expense. Joliet then put forth all her energy and through the great exertion she made the road was successfully carried forward. Now Chicago comes forward and calls it one of the roads built by her liberality. Had our citizens waited for her cooperation we should have been to this day without the Rock Island railroad. It is the evidence of the enterprise of the citizens of Joliet triumphing over all the opposition of Chicago.
When the Chicago, Alton & St. Louis railroad was to be extended towards Chicago, that city used every means in its power to prevent its coming to Joliet. They desired it to run east of this city, and for this purpose besieged the Legislature and engaged in the most underhand maneuvers, annexing a railroad charter to coal mining companies, and by these methods hoped to kill Joliet. But our citizens had not lost all their enterprise, nor their wisdom. They had once experienced the opposition of their powerful neighbor and they worked steadily on, regardless of their machinations, and obtained the termination of the road for their city.
But perhaps the most decided evidence of the enterprise of our citizens is to be found in the consummation of the Joliet & Northern Indiana railroad, which is known by the name of the ‘cut-off’ all over the world. This was the title thrown upon it by the Chicago press. It is a title of which we are now proud. It expresses just what it is, a ‘cut-off,'” saving time, trouble, expense, charges of baggage, and other annoyances to all travelers who may come to the west, and who are going further than Chicago.”
Mr. Walworth concludes his pamphlet by summing up the advantages to be derived from settling here. The taxes were low, living and fuel cheap, and lands could be bought within a short distance of the city for about ten dollars an acre, and even improved farms were held but little above that figure.
The First Steel Plow
The first steel plow ever made in the United States was one made by the late John Lane, Jr., of Lockport, assisted by Levi Hartwell. It was in 1834 or 1835, up in the town of Homer. They took the blade of a saw mill saw, cut it into strips, and then welded the edges together, so as to make a perfectly smooth moldboard, and wide enough to turn the furrow. It was made for Comstock Hanford of that town and used by him for many years with the most perfect success. After the steel part of the plow was complete John Griswold of Lockport made the wood part of it, and it was then complete. At the time the plow was made there was no steel manufactured in the United States suitable for such workall such steel came from Germany. Afterwards Mr. Lane went into the business of making steel plows, having his shop in Lockport. Mr. Hartwell has all the tools used by Mr. Lane in making the plows, such as hammer, drills, etc.
In the early fifties Mr. Lane formed a partnership with Jasper D. Loomer and they did a large business in the making of steel plows. He got his invention patented and advertised his plows as “Lane’s Cast Steel Plows,” “Lockport Clippers,” and “Sod Breakers.” For many years Mr. Lane purchased his steel of Prime & Kimberly, hardware dealers in Chicago, and hauled it to Lockport by ox teams.
Mr. Lane also invented a patent drain plow that was drawn through low ground to the depth of about three feet, and a large pointed bulb-shaped plow, at the lower end of a strong steel blade made the drain. It worked well for a while, but the drain soon filled up and that was the end of the drain.
An Old-Time Merchant
One of the old-time merchants of Joliet was T. J. Kinnie. He was a jeweler who took life easy, and did not worry himself about the future. He was a great friend of the then well known actor, C. W. Couldock, and many a good time did these old cronies have together. If the actor ever came this way he was sure to call upon his old friend, Tom Kinnie. As Tom once remarked when speaking of his friend, “If he ever comes within a hundred miles of me he always stops.”
In the summer of 1857 Tom prevailed upon Couldock to come to Joliet with his company and they gave several excellent performances in the old court house, and they proved a rich treat—the house being filled to overflowing each evening.
Tom was an excellent shot, and in “chicken time” was always on hand for the sport. One day he prevailed upon Couldock to go out shooting with him. They were well provided with “ammunition” of all kinds, and off they started for the Kankakee river country, then a famous place for the sport. They had excellent luck. Tom afterwards declared that they killed and threw into the wagon either eighty-four, or a hundred and eighty-four, he could not remember which. About dark they started for home, their wagon being one of the “democrat” kind, with an end board. The two friends were extremely happy over their good luck and on their way home laid many plans as to how they would dispose of all their game. Couldock had many actor friends around the country, and to each he proposed to send at least a brace of their birds. But what was their consternation on reaching home to find there was not a bird or anything else left in the wagon but themselves and their guns. The end board had fallen down from being insecurely fastened and the chickens and all else scattered over the seventeen miles of road they had traveled.
Another of Tom’s mishaps, as he afterwards told it himself, was, we think, the same season. Tom had for a crony an old man living in town by the name of Bullock. He was a large, fleshy man, no hunter, but he had a good team and would take Tom into his wagon and they would then scour the country for game. Tom would do the hunting while his friend would drive, and as it was then mostly open praire where they hunted they could of course go almost anywhere. One day they were out down by the lone trees east of Channahon village. Tom was out following his dog, while Bullock was not far away with his team. A chicken started up from the grass and flew around directly towards the team. Tom fired and what shot did not hit the chicken did hit Bullock and the horses. Bullock was wholly unprepared for any such assault, and before he could gather up his reins the horses were off across the prairie in mad flight. Bullock managed to stay in the wagon for awhile, but soon a big ant hill did the business for him and he was set a-rolling across the prairie like a big ball. Tom saw in a moment the mischief he had done, and, dropping his gun, started in pursuit of the runaways as fast as his duck legs would let him. But when he reached within speaking distance of his partner he was almost paralyzed, for of all the language ever employed in denouncing a human being Tom heard coming from his friend. He declared that even the prairie grass all turned a deep blue from the fearful oaths that were launched against him by the irate Bullock. They did not see the team again until they reached Joliet, and it took several days for him to find his gun where he had dropped it in the grass. Tom declared it was their last hunt together, as Bullock would accept of no apology from Tom for the accident. Tom died in 1860, leaving many friends to mourn his death.
The Old Plank Road
There was a day of plank roads in Illinois, and every town in the state of any importance had the fever of the age, more or less, and strove to have those roads that would reach out into the country and bring in trade from the farming community. The age existed for some ten years from 1845 to 1855, and although short lived yet it was active while it did exist, and comparatively popular with the traveling public.
Joliet was in the pool with the rest, of course, and that, too, with a vim. Plank roads were projected in every direction, and it looked for a while as though every important road in the county would be planked. The old black dirt roads were often impassable to vehicles of any sort, and planked ones seemed to be the only remedy.
The opening of the canal in the spring of 1848 suggested to the good people of the village that then was the proper time to branch out and build up a big town here. A meeting of some of the leading citizens was held, and a committee appointed to take the matter in charge and prepare a bill to present to the Legislature that was to meet the following January for its action, authorizing the building of a plank road from Oswego, in Kendall county, through Joliet to the Indiana state line. The late Nelson D. Elwood of Joliet was the chairman of that committee and prepared the bill. The road was called the Oswego & Indiana Plank Road company, with a capital stock of $100,000. H. D. Risley, G. D. A. Parks, Uri Osgood, John W. Chapman and George W. Bradley were named in the bill as commissioners to receive subscriptions to the stock. The bill was passed and approved February 12, 1849. There was a clause in the bill authorizing the company to organize and choose directors whenever $20,000 of the capital stock had been subscribed. But it was not until April 14, 1851, that the desired amount of subscription was obtained. A meeting of the stockholders was called at the National hotel in Joliet, on the 10th of May following, and J. A. Matteson, M. H. Demmond, H. D. Risley, Isaac Cook and Uri Osgood elected directors of the company. The directors then met and chose H. D. Risley, president; Uri Osgood, treasurer; and J. E. Streeter, secretary of the company. Mr. Risley was appointed superintendent of the construction of the road and through his energetic labors the road was soon completed from Joliet to Plainfield, and that was as far as it ever went in that direction. The road was simply graded and planks eight feet long and three inches thick were laid upon the dirt, without stringers. A dirt road was constructed alongside of the plank for use in turning out and in dry weather. The right of way was obtained quite easily. The Legislature allowed the company to take the state lands free, and where the land was owned by individuals, if they would not grant the right of way free to the company three commissioners were appointed to assess the damages and appraise the benefits accruing to the owner, and if those balanced, as they usually did, nothing was allowed.
The rates of toll for traveling on the road were fixed at two cents a mile for two animals and vehicle, one way, or three cents both ways, and as the distance from Joliet to Plainfield was nine miles the toll was eighteen cents, or twenty-seven cents for the round trip. But it was afterwards reduced to fifteen and twenty-five cents, more or less animals being charged for in same proportion.
Toll gates were located at Joliet and Plainfield and gatekeepers appointed at each gate. The road was opened for travel December 1, 1851, and continued in use until March 15, 1869, when the plank, toll houses and other property were sold. The road never paid but two dividends on the stock and those were of five dollars each, on each share, and when the property was sold the debts paid there was $693.68 to be divided among the shareholders, so that each received less than twelve dollars on each one hundred dollars he had paid for his stock.
There was a plank road built from the court house square south on Chicago street to Jackson Creek, six miles, and while it was not under the same charter as the Plainfield road, yet it was built by the same company, and managed by the same officers. When the road was sold in 1861 the toll house was sold, and the best of the plank used to repair the road to Plainfield. The road was a godsend in its day to the farmers south of the city, as it passed over a flat country of black-soil, with many sloughs to cross, which were quite impassable, except in dry weather.
There was a plank road built from Lockport to Plainfield in 1855, which was known as the Lockport, Plainfield & Yorkviile road. But it was a failure financially, like the others, as the farmers would go miles out of the way in dry weather to avoid paying toll.
There was a clause in the charter of the Oswego & Indiana Plank Road company that authorized the company to build “rail or steam roads” over their line, and under that clause the Joliet & Northern Indian railroad was organized. The plank road company had previously obtained the right of way from Joliet to the Indiana state line and that right of way was used for the railroad.
The company was organized in the summer of 1854, with a capital of $1,000,000. The late Nelson D. Elwood was one of the leading and most active of the promoters in the organizing and building of the road, and was for several years one of its principal officers. This road is now known as the Joliet Cut-Off and is leased to the Michigan Central Railroad company for a long term of years, and is a valuable tributary to that road by way of business.
The old plank roads had their day, though comparatively but a short one. They were built from necessity, but it was a short-sighted policy making them plank roads, when gravel would have lasted so much longer and have answered the purpose so much better. The Plainfield road passed over one of the finest beds of gravel in the state, and that material could have been utilized to a much better advantage, have cost much less, and lasted indefinitely.
In building and planking the roads the promoters used a large amount of valuable timber that should have been preserved for future use, and which would be of immense value to the owners of today if they now possessed it. The twenty-one miles of plank roads in the county consumed nearly all of its best oak timber, and a large quantity of its black walnut. The groves of the county were stripped, and since that day those groves have had but few of the trees of the first or original growth.
After the first year the planks decayed rapidly and had to be replaced, hence there was a constant call for planks to keep the roads in repair. But they have now passed away and for good. They answered their purpose well for the time, and afforded the farmer a means of getting to market, or to town to trade, when it would have been impossible to travel with a load without them.
A Hickory Creek Tragedy
In 1840 an old man, fully six feet tall, came through the Hickory Creek settlement, making his way to his former home in the east. He was troubled with fits and when in one was entirely helpless and at the mercy of anyone who might find him. He was found in a fit in an old blacksmith shop, near the residence of Samuel Haven, and it was then discovered that he had quite an amount of money with him. He was taken to the house of one McLaughlin, not far distant, where he was left. After recovering he went on his way and when near Skunks Grove, a few miles away, he had another fit, and in his mutterings spoke of being robbed. Upon being searched no money was found on his person. He died in a few days and was buried by charity. Suspicion was directed to McLaughlin as having robbed the old man, and Cornelius C. Van Horn openly charged him with the robbery. Mr. Van Horn was one of the most esteemed and respected men in the county, a man of intelligence, but outspoken in his views, and especially when crime had been committed. The grand jury took up the matter and the son of McLaughlin was indicted for the robbery, Mr. Van Horn being instrumental in the finding. The son gave bail and soon after started for the court for trial, but never reached there. Mr. Van Horn said he had run away to avoid a trial, while Mr. McLaughlin charged Mr. Van Horn with having made away with him, fearing to have the trial come off, for fear of being found concerned in it himself. Excitement ran high. Old man McLaughlin spent days wandering around the country, pretending to be searching for the body of his son, and some sympathizers joined in the search.
Near the mill pond of the old red mill a wagon track was found running in the direction of Van Horn’s house by a blind trail. A track of a wheelborrow was found leading from the wagon track to the pond and in the mill was found a wheelbarrow with hair upon it. The mill pond was dragged and the body of a man found in a very much decomposed condition. Search was then made for the grave from which the body was taken, and it was found to be the body of the old man who died at Skunk’s Grove. The old man McLaughlin was informed of finding the body in the pond and claimed that it was that of his son. The postoffice was watched and soon a letter came directed to the old man. It was opened by consent of the postmaster and it was found to be from the son. The tide of opinion then turned against McLaughlin and the crowd was as eager to hang him as it had Van Horn a few days before. It was found that he and his son had conspired to ruin Van Horn, and had taken his wagon to haul the body from the grave to the pond, so as to cast suspicion on him. The old man got wind of the turning of opinion against himself and made his escape before he could be arrested.
A real fake murder case occurred in 1858. On April 30th of that year the body of a woman was found in a ravine at the south end of Richards street, near where the street now crosses the old stone quarry. The body was covered with stones and rubbish and had the appearance of having lain there for some time. The authorities were notified and the body brought to the city, where an inquest was held. The body was found to be badly mutilated, the hands and feet cut off, and were lying near the body. There were several wounds on the body, and it was the unanimous opinion of the jury that a murder had been committed, but who committed it was to the jury unknown.
A few days after the inquest a Mrs. Cook, living on North Bluff street, came to J. C. Van Auken, then city marshal, and told him that her daughter Maney was missing and she believed that the body found was that of her daughter. The body was taken up and the Cook woman at once identified it as that of her missing daughter. She stated that one Joseph Richardson was acquainted with the girl and had been quite intimate with her, and she believed he had made away with her. A warrant was procured and Richardson arrested. He was taken before Judge O. L. Hawley and Alanson Williams, a justice at the court house, where an examination was held. F. A. Bartleson and J. E. Streeter appeared for the people and E. C. Fellows defended Richardson. Mrs. Cook swore that her daughter was just sixteen years old, and had been missing three weeks. She described her daughter as to her size, the clothes she wore, and was positive that the body found was that of her daughter. She told the court of Richardson’s intimacy with the girl and had made her presents.
J. C. Van Auken was sworn and was positive as to the identity of the body being that of Maney Cook. Several other witnesses were called for the prosecution, among them being Dr. J. H. Reese, a well known Bluff street doctor, who knew the girl well, and was equally as positive as the others that the body found was her body. The prosecution then rested and Dr. Bailey was called. He was of the opinion that the body was that of a woman at least thirty-five or forty years old, and that she must have weighed in life at least one hundred and fifty pounds, while the girl could not have weighed more than one hundred. Drs. McArthur and Heise swore substantially to the same factsthat the body was that of a woman at least thirty-five years oldthat the person was a large, muscular woman, and that she certainly died of disease, there being no wound on the body that would cause death.
That closed the testimony and Attorney Streeter spoke for the prosecution, then Fellows arose and commenced his argument for the defense. Just then Constable John Roberts walked into the court room with a veiled lady on his arm. They walked up in front of the justices and the lady removed her veil, and lo! it was Maney Cook. That of course ended the case, and the prisoner was at once discharged. The body found proved to be that of a Mrs. Schemmerhorn, the wife of a lock tender on the old canal. Grave robbers had robbed the grave of the body and taken it to Dr. Heise, who had dissected it as long as he desired, and he then hired parties to bury the body again, but they had taken it to the place where it was found and left with some stones and rubbish thrown upon it.
Richardson left town soon after his discharge, but where he went was never known, as he was not again heard of here. He was a man of good education, being a graduate of Norwich (Vermont) Academy.
The First Execution
The first execution that ever took place in the county was the hanging of George P. Chase, at the jail, for the murder of Joseph Clark, deputy warden of the prison, in April, 1864. Chase struck the deputy warden on the head with a club, fracturing his skull. He lived for several weeks after the injury and finally died. Chase was tried at the January term of the Circuit for the murder, found guilty, and sentenced to be hung, and the sentence was carried out by the then sheriff, John Reid, on July 27, 1866.
The second execution was the hanging of Andrew J. Perteet, on December 19, 1873, for wife murder, and the third was the execution of Henry Jacobs, a farmer living near Lockport, for the murder of his wife in the summer of 1874. He was executed for the crime January 21, 1876.
Old Time Physicians
Dr. Albert W. Bowen was Juliet’s first practicing physician. He came here early in 1834, and soon became a most useful citizen. It was through his aid and influence, and that of James Walker, that the county was set off from Cook county. They went to Vandalia, then the state capital, with a petition of the citizens, asking for the forming of a county by itself, and they stayed there until the object of their long journey was fully accomplished. The original town of Juliet had been laid out and platted by James B. Campbell as Juliet, and the year following Dr. Bowen laid out and platted the first addition to the town on the east, as “Bowen’s Addition to Juliet.” The Doctor was then a resident of Joliet until 1848, when he removed to Wilmington, and that was his home until his death in that city. November 21, 1881.
In 1836 Dr. R. E. W. Adams came to the village and hung out his sign and soon obtained a very good practice. He was a brother of William Adams, so long the well known and popular host of the National hotel, and of Micajah L. Adams, the builder of the first foundry here. The doctor was a strict temperance man, and would allow nothing to be administered to a patient of his that had the least tincture of alcohol in it. Mr. Woodruff, in his “Forty Years Ago,” tells a good story of the doctor, which was so characteristic of him of the temperance question that we must here relate it.
Mr. Woodruff and the doctor rode to Chicago together at an early day, overland, of course, as there were then no other means of conveyance, when they stopped for dinner at a place called “Flag Creek.” The place was kept by a temperance man, but there were rumors that the “critter” could be obtained there when desired by the thirsty. While the host was out taking care of the horse, the doctor mentioned the rumor, and suggested that they search for it and ascertain if the rumor was a true one. In one corner of the room was a little closet, which was locked, but the doctor found a key that would unlock it, and lo, there was a decanter well filled with a liquid that smelled very much like whiskey. The doctor took his medicine case from his pocket and therefrom took a small vial and poured the contents into the decanter, and, shaking it well, replaced it, then went into dinner as coolly as though he was conscious of having performed a very good act. The contents of the vial were not by any means a deadly poison, but Mr. Woodruff was of the opinion a drink from the contents of that decanter afterward cured several persons of the love of whiskey. The doctor started a drug store soon after coming hereit being the first in the village. He removed to Springfield some ten years later, and has since deceased.
Dr. Alexander Comstock was another of the old-time physicians, who not only practiced medicine, but preached salvation as well, thus laboring to save the soul as well as to cure the body. The doctor was an odd character, yet a man of good sound sense, who had an unlimited confidence in the people and they in him. He could practice his chosen profession six days in the week and preach on the seventh day with the greatest ease and pleasure. His oddity consisted in his going around among his neighbors, whether to visit the sick or on a friendly call, he never was known to knock or in any way announce his approach, but would walk right in and make himself at home wherever he happened to go. He died of cholera in September, 1854.
Dr. M. K. Brownson was another of the good old-fashioned kind of doctors. He came to the village in 1836, and this was his home for many years. He built a residence on Ottawa street, where McFadden’s livery stable is now located. He was a homeopath, or, as they were called in that day, “little pill doctors”; but he also practiced allopathy when the case demanded it. He was postmaster under Fillmore, when the village was made into a city, and also held the office of public administrator. The doctor was a good physician, an excellent citizen, and an honest and upright man. He died in California, May 25, 1879.
Dr. Schofield was another of the old physicians, who came here in the thirties, and was the village clerk when the village of Juliet was organized. He went west a few years later, where he died some thirty years ago.
Wallace A. Little was another of the physicians. He came here in 1840. He went into partnership with Dr. Schofield, and they started a drug store on Chicago street, which they sold in 1846 to Mr. Brown, and that was the beginning of “Brown’s Drug Store,” that has held such a prominent place in the business of the city since that time.
Dr. J. W. H. Davis, another pioneer doctor, was one of those physicians who believed in adopting or using any remedy that would cure or accomplish the desired result. Hence he would keep on hand a good supply of roots, herbs, and other simples, such as he could really use in cases of necessity. He had a very large practice, especially among the poorer classes, as he was the true and trusty kind that answered all calls for his aid, whether the call was from the rich or poor.
He came here in 1850 and in 1852 built himself a home on the corner of Ottawa and Van Buren streets, opposite the News building, in the rear of which he had his office. The office was sort of an apothecary shop, with its vials and bottles, bags of herbs, bundles of dried bark and roots, and almost eveiything else needed by him in the practice of his chosen profession.
Many good stories are told of the good doctor’s application of the most simple remedies for apparently the most desperate cases. One of these was that of a woman living on the west side of the river, who, though apparently sound and healthy, got the idea that she was afflicted with nearly every disease to which flesh is heir. Her friends tried to reason with her, and supplied her with every comfort, but it was all of no avail. She insisted that she was very sick and should certainly die unless relief was obtained soon, and that the only doctor who could held her was Dr. Davis. The doctor was finally sent for, and, of course, responded at once. He took a diagnosis of the case, and found that there was absolutely nothing the matter with the woman, except a sort of morbid depressing feeling had possessed her mind, and she brooded over her imaginary sickness until it seemed to her a terrible reality. The doctor was, however, shrewd enough not to tell her she was not sick, as he well knew that it would be of no use, as she could not be made to believe it. On the contrary, he told her she was a very sick woman, and that unless she got relief at once she could not recover. He said he had a remedy that he had tried in many cases like hers, and it had never failed of a cure, and he was positive it was just what she needed. He went back to his office, procured a loaf of newly baked bread, and from the softer part made a large number of bread pills. These he rolled in a little jalep powder and took them over to the woman and told her she must take one every half hour when awake, and she must be very prompt to the minute in taking them, or they would do no good. She gladly took the pills, having the utmost confidence in their efficacy. The result was that by the time the pills were gone she was a well woman and went about her work as usual. Instead of brooding over her fancied sickness she had watched the clock to be sure and take the pill on the exact minute, and thus her mind was diverted and a cure effected. The doctor, several years after, told of the imposition practiced in order to effect a cure, and as he was a man of truth, no one doubted its entire reliability. Another case told by the doctor was that of a farmer, not far from the city, who was greatly troubled with inflammatory rheumatism in his knee. At times it was very bad, and the pain severe, but usually some remedy would be applied and relief from the pain obtained. The man, however, had a more severe attack of the malady than usual, and the doctor was sent for, and as he well knew what the trouble was, he took his remedies out with him, which consisted of certain roots and herbs, ground up together, and made into a poultice, and applied to the diseased part. He told the good wife of the man how to make the poultice, that it must be large enough to cover the entire diseased part, and applied quite hot.
The wife went to work at once to prepare the poultice and the doctor returned to the city. But not to remain long, for in a few hours he was sent for to go out there again in hot haste. It seems that after the doctor had left the man grew worse and was in extreme agony from pain; the wife hurried to get the poultice ready, according to directions, and in her haste to relieve the pain had applied the poultice too hot, and the result was a big blister that covered the knee and leg wherever the poultice was applied. The man did not realize that the application was so hot on account of the severity of the pain. But when the doctor arrived, however, he found that he had a much more serious case than before, as the leg was not only blistered, but pretty well cooked. The application, however, cured the rheumatism entirely, but it was several weeks before the man had much use of the blistered leg.
Dr. A. W. Heise was another of the old-time physicians, and one of the best surgeons in the state. He was a native of Germany and had received a most thorough education in every branch of the science, so that he was competent to take charge of any case, however serious. He was the surgeon of the 100th regiment when it went into the service in the Civil war and was soon after appointed to take charge of all surgery in his brigade, which duty he performed with the most eminent ability and to the entire satisfaction of the service.
Joliet Forty Years Ago
Of the citizens of forty or more years ago, much that is interesting could be written. The city was then comparatively small, writh but few strangers, and almost everyone knew everybody else. The bringing of the prison here in 1858 brought with it some strangers. Still there was but the same familiar faces to be seen on our streets as a rule, and if a stranger did appear the great wonder would be as to who he was. The farmers would come to town over the old plank roads and bring their grain or produce to market, unhitch their teams and feed them, and eat their lunches upon the vacant lots, for Joliet had no restaurants, and but few feed stables in those days, and the farmer had to take care of himself as well as his team. Showmen would come to town and erect their tents on the court house square, or what was then a more desirable place, the lot at the corner of Jefferson and Ottawa streets, where the old Masonic hall and other buildings now stand.
To name all of the good people who were residents here then would be too much of a task, but there were some among them that we can not now overlook. They have long since passed from the scene of action, and hence kind mention of some of them will not prove amiss. In other parts of this work we have briefly alluded to some who adorned the law and the medical professions, and still there are others whose memories we cherish with the fondest love and pleasure.
Among these old residents of the long ago are the names of Henry D. Higinbotham, Charles E. Munger, Colonel William Smith, Charles H. Macomber, Dr. John P. Casey, Fenner Aldrich, James T. McDougal, Fred Sehring, S. W. Stone, Judge Weeks, and many others. They were all good men and an honor to the community in which they lived so long, and where they were so well known.
“Uncle Henry,” as Mr. Higinbotham was well known to all, came to Joliet in 1834 and purchased a farm on Hickory creek, two and a half miles east of the city. There he lived until 1854, when he erected for himself and family a handsome residence on East Cass street, and that became his home until his death in March, 1865. He was a man greatly beloved by all who knew him and an honor to the town and city of his adoption.
Mr. Munger was a Vermont yankee, a great lover of sport and recreation, and would indulge in them whenever opportunity offered.
Mr. Macomber was direct from the Hub, and as much a lover of sport as was Mr. Munger. He went to California among the early gold seekers of 1849, going by way of Cape Horna six months’ voyage. He returned, however, in 1854 and came direct to this county, settling down in Wilmington. When Mr. McIntosh was elected circuit clerk in 1856 he appointed Mr. Macomber his deputy, and at the expiration of his term of office, in 1860, he opened a real estate and loan office in Joliet, and that was his business until his lamented death in September, 1876.
As we have stated above, both “Charleys” were fond of sport, and especially fishing, and were often seen wending their way to some favorite pool where they could indulge in the pastime of fishing to their hearts’ content. It was away back in the late fifties that the two with a party of friends went down to Rock Run for a few days’ sport. Fishing, as well as hunting, was in its prime in those days, and the Run was a favorite resort for sportsmen. Macomber was the cook of the party, and he made a good one. But he was liable sometimes to make mistakes. We think that it was on that occasion that he make one that came near proving to be a serious one. He had bought his groceries in the city, and among the rest was a package each of sugar and salt. They were wrapped up in the same kind of paper, and when the party reached the camping place, Charley set about preparing the supper. It was quite dark, but a good fire was started, water was procured for the coffee from a spring, nearly half a mile away, and when everything was pronounced as ready all started in to enjoy the supper. But soon some one tasted of the broiled steak, and declared it had been sweetened; about that time another took a sip of his coffee, and declared it had been salted, and it was even so. Charley, in his haste, had salted the coffee and sweetened the beefsteak.
At another time the two Charleys went to Treats island for a fish. There was a party of four or five, and the tent was erected on the island and arrangements made for a stay of several days. It was quite early in the spring, the water was still cold as well as the weather, but it was a good time to catch cat-fish, and that was what the party went after. Near the camp was a deep pool, just the place for that kind of sport. Munger was the first of the party to have a well baited hook in the water. But it was too chilly to hold his pole and fish, and so he concluded to set the pole and let it do its own fishing. The pole was set, as he supposed, secure, and so he went back to the fire to get warm. But he had no sooner reached than, looking back, he saw his pole going out into the river. “Good heavens,” said Charley, “there goes my pole,” and before anyone could stop him, he ran and, giving a flying leap, landed out in the water where it was quite up to his neck. He secured the pole, but had to have help from the rest of the party to get him out of the river. He secured a good sized catfish, too, but it took several hours to get him warm enough to do any more fishing.
Another time a party of four was formed to spend several days camping down on the Kankakee, of which Munger and Macomber formed two of the party. Just before reaching the river, as they were driving along, a farmer was seen to be harvesting a lot of onions near the road, and Macomber insisted on haviug some of them. He said he was a great lover of onions, and especially of fried onions, and he was bound to have some. So he was delegated to get a supply, which proved to be a good half bushel. He declared he would have gotten more, but said it was not far back there and more could be had when wanted.
The party went into camp near the river. A bountiful supper was provided and partaken of, and then all retired to the tent for a game of cards. That was kept up until near midnight, when Macomber arose and declared himself hungry for fried onions, and he was going to have some. Of course, all joined in to get them ready, and soon a very large frying pan was filled, with the onions nicely peeled and sliced, and with plenty of lard to fry them in. They were soon pronounced ready for the table, and all fell to and went for them. They soon disappeared and it was said at the time that the cook got more than his share of the fragrant vegetable. Soon all retired within the tent, and for awhile all was quiet and peace there. It was not many hours, however, for it was still dark, when one of the party awoke with a feeling that he was standing on his head, and the joke of it was he seemed to be fastened up there in that position. However, he managed to find after awhile that he was not only horizontal, but deathly sick, and just then he heard the most death-like groans all around him. The air seemed to be filled with them. He managed after considerable effort to crawl outside of the tent, and there he found Macomber some little distance away, all doubled up, trying to disgorge his fried onions, and between spasms declaring that his hour had certainly come, and that he could not possibly survive but a few minutes longer. The other two of the party soon crawled out, and such a time as it was then all around is hard to describe. Each one was so sick that there was no thought of helping anyone else. Daylight came, and still the terrible sickness continued. It was fully noon before any of the party was in a condition to do anything, and then some good strong coffee was made and drunk, and then all felt better, but as soon as Macomber was able to walk he was seen to take the balance of those onions and, carrying them to the river, consign them to a watery grave. Not one of the party was known to partake of fried onions again for many a long year.
Juliet and Joliet
Some three years ago William Grinton, our worthy compeer and fellow partner in the preparation of this work, published a small booklet with the above title Grinton, William. Juliet and Joliet. Printed by Joliet News Printing Co. 1904., and there are so many good as well as true things in the little volume that we can not forbear culling therefrom certain extracts for the benefit of the readers of this work. Mr. Grinton was then a school boy here, perfectly familiar with the little town, as it was fifty or more years ago in fact, knew it well from one side to the other, in all its bearings, and we can not do better than to adopt a few of his many ideas of it.
First Masonic Temple
The three-story frame building on the northwest corner of Bluff and Exchange streets was erected about ’49 by W. A. Strong and Edmund Wilcox, and John D. Paige says that it is, by actual test, the only fireproof building in Joliet.
The building is rich in historical interest to both Masons and Odd Fellows, for it was their first temple in this city. For obvious reasons, it is impossible to give any inside details of those old lodge rooms on the third floor.
The acacia has been laid upon and Pleyell’s hymn sung over the graves of most, if not all, of the men who were made Master Masons in the old lodge rooms.
The corner store has been continuously occupied as a hardware store ever since its erection. In ’49 T. P. Dunham & Co. were selling a long list of things not to be found in modern hardware stores, such as ox yokes, ox chains, broad axes, cant hooks, grain cradles, wolf traps, candle molds, snuffers, spinning wheels, well buckets, tar buckets, lineh pins, bullet molds, lancets, hunting knives, wanning pans, bootjacks, tin lanterns (with no glass, the light shining through the holes in the tin).
Up to about the middle of the fifties Edmund Wilcox occupied the adjoining building with a genuine old-fashioned department store and sold almost everything in the line of merchandise. The clerks were called counter jumpers, and the dexterity with which one of these men could place his hand on the counter and vault over when he wanted to go to another counter on the opposite side added much to his usefulness and popularity, especially with the ladies, buying muffs as big as nail kegs, hoods, sunbonnets, bombazine dress patterns and gimp to trim them with, or changeable silks, warranted to match and harmonize with any old complexiononly a matter of point and view of light. For the men, those counter jumpers had to be good “mixers”; they had not only to be friendly and social with the farmer, but had to know how to mix a “black strap,” a concoction of whiskey and molasses, which was furnished by every merchant, gratis, if he wanted to compete with his rival in trade down at the Lock, Colonel Curry, who made a specialty of “black strap,” and whose two counter jumpers, Zim Supplee and Si Walton, were both of them expert mixers. Located as the colonel’s store was, right at the lock, he had first chance to catch the canal boat trade. The boatman could leave his measure for a towing line on Bluff street in the store built by Martin H. Demmond, order his groceries, run down to Hatton’s meat market, and while Dave Ward was cutting a steak, take a drink at Paddock’s saloon, next door, all while the boat was passing up and down in the lock.
In those days loaf sugar was hung up on the ceiling, and was called loaf sugar from the fact that it came in solid, cone-shaped loaves, in five and ten-pound sizes, wrapped first with fine white paper and an outside wrapper of heavy, purple-covered paper, and tied with strong twine. For illuminating purposes the store sold burning fluid, lard oil and candles of different, grades, from tallow up to wax. Camphene was a most villainous concoction of quintessence of turpentine and alcohol, and found to be so explosive and hazardous to human life, that its use was abandoned and kerosene took its place.
From the beginning, in ’35, all through the forties and the first half of the fifties, Bluff and Exchange streets practically comprised the “congested district” of Juliet and Joliet, and the property owners, with Martin H. Demmond in the lead, were optimistic in their belief of the congestion’s permanency.
The National Hotel
Was built in ’38, the brick annex in about ’57; it has never changed its name to Hotel De or St. National; it has never had a fire of consequence enough to make a claim on the insurance companies; for over fifty years has not had a bar; the real estate, as the records show, has changed hands but six or seven times, and its landlords, as nearly as can be ascertained, do not exceed eight or nine. Some Joliet hotels have almost beaten that record in single years.
In the palmy days of the packet lines, the passenger dock was just south of the Exchange street bridge, and guests were landed right at the National’s door. For many years this hotel was the social center of Joliet. The Masonic balls, the events of the dancing season took place in the ball room of the National, as did almost all the other big affairs. In the middle ages dancing began early in the evening. They danced the Virginia Reel, Old Dan Tucker, Money Musk and Pop Goes the Weasel until nearly breakfast time, and it took a good sized ball room to accommodate the immense hoop skirts of the ladies and the long-toed boots of the men.
The popular, substantial refreshments generally consisted of oyster stew, ham and tongue sandwiches, with pate de foie gras as the piece de resistanceit would resist the digestive outfit of an ostrich. It may have been that some of the humorous things so often heard when sliced tongue makes its appearance in society originated with the wits of those olden times.
When the Rock Island railroad was completed and got busy with passenger traffic, the National put on a bright new yellow ‘bus, the first one in Joliet, with black Levi Boon for runner, and a fine span of bob-tail grays to drive. Boon, ‘bus and bob-tails made as many as four trips a day to the station to capture passengers and give them free transportation to the hotel. The outfit was not overworked, and the grays were as fat as butter-balls.
At one time, no matter what year, the National had a landlady who did not have the most implicit confidence in her bachelor boarders, or the landlord. She made it a part of her duties to inspect the contents of that yellow ‘bus on its arrival, to see if there were any suspects, anonymous or contraband packages, wrapped in silks, satins, purple and fine linen, for she would not allow any evil communications to corrupt the good manners of her hotel, but ran it on high-toned principles.
The only loud thing about the National was the gong on which Levi Boon rang the changes for breakfast, dinner and supper; and in calm weather, when the wind was in the right quarter, with Levi feeling pretty gay, that gong could be heard, part of the way, from the Upper Basin to Brandon’s Bridge. In the early days the National had its own system of water worksa flowing well or spring in the basement kitchen; its bell system consisted of wires from the rooms to little bells hung on springs in the office; candles in tin candlesticks were kept on a shelf in the office, and at bed time guests took their little candles and lighted themselves to their rooms. The automatic limit of those lights prevented their being worked overtime, and there was no danger from “blowing out the gas.”
The two-story frame building on the north side of Exchange street, at the west end of the canal bridge, was built by Thomas Hatton in ’48, and was known as the Omnibus Block. It had a basement on the towpath, which was occupied by Paddock’s saloon and Hatton’s meat market, with Dave Ward on duty at the meat block, cutting the roasts, chops and steaks, for all of the west side and part of the east side. W. C. Wood was in the store next the canal, selling about everything usually found in a general country store, from codfish to overcoats and hoopskirts. The grocery department was a limited affair as to variety of staple and fancy groceries, when compared with the modern stocks.
Those were the days of salt rising bread, saler-atus biscuit and dried apple pies. The salt rising bread required not only skill but luck. It could be brought out of the oven in perfection only when the moon was in the right quarter and the wind not in the east; while it was rising boys had to tread softly, whistle in a low key and not slam the doors; the cat and dog were shut out, and girls were not allowed to giggle in the kitchen. The bread makers always spoke of having good luck or bad luck, with their baking, and the temper of the lady was usually in harmony with the bread. Eating those saleratus biscuits, with yellow-green lumps and streaks of saleratus running through them, is probably one of those “sins of the fathers, visited on the children even unto the third and fourth generation”of dyspeptics. The dried apple was played to the limit, in sauce and pies, until some poor sin-sick wretch, in the delirium of dyspepsia, broke forth in these pathetically beseeching lines:
“Tread on my corns, or tell me lies, But feed me not dried apple pies.”
In the west store, George H. Woodruff, the historian, was selling drugs and laying away in his memory many of those interesting items of pioneer history, of which he wrote so charmingly in his later days. His was a drug store under the old regime of the lancet and copius doses of nauseous drugs. He sold calomel, quinine and cholera medicines as staples for household use, and made a specialty of selling strychnine for poisoning wolves. His patent medicine shelves were stocked with opodeldoc, Radway’s Ready Relief, Sappington’s Pills and ague cures too numerous to mention. Fever and ague was as common as mosquitoes, in summer and fall, and very much easier to catch. But why it was called fever and ague instead of ague and fever is one of those things no fellow can find out. Anyone who ever had the miserable shakes remembers that the ague came firstthe fever followed, and how in the chills he might have prayed, “Wash me in steep down gulfs of liquid fire,” but when the fever took its turn, prayed his prayer unsaid. Itch ointments and remedies were also in demand, and so was musk hair oil and highly scented toliet soaps.
There was the usual wooden awning and awning posts in front of the Omnibus Block, and there runs a legend that once upon a timeday, month and year not givena clandestine visitor in one of the flats above the stores heard the hostess’ husband coming, unexpectedly, up the stairs. With his boots tied together for emergencies and noiseless flight, the late visitor crept out upon the awning, slid down the post, and, as luck would have it into the arms of acquaintances, who were too full to keep a secret, and the scandal leaked out. Human nature was about the same in those good old democratic times as now, only methods differed; exit, in emergencies, can now be made by fire escapes instead of awning posts.
Merchant’s Row, or Long Stone Block, a famous old landmark and pride of the street in early years, was built by Martin H. Demmond in ’37, and the stores were so much alike they were numbered, to keep the merchants from mistaking their rivals’ stores for their own. The block was not the success in consolidating the business of the street that the owner expected it to be and no one succeeded in establishing as permanent a business there as has been the case in other buildings on Bluff streetfifty and sixty year records.
Even Lee & Doane, proprietors of “The Bee Hive,” had to pass it up, although they were champion hustlers for business, whose flamboyant ads would have sent Egyptian mummies hot foot after new suits of mummy clothif they had been in a position to read them.
The third floor of Merchant’s Row was a seat of learning in ’47; the Joliet Female Seminary occupying a part of it for school purposes.
The well-known reticence of ladies in the matter of time, years and ages, when personally concerned, renders it impossible to get any lady, now on earth, to admit that she was old enough to attend a seminary in ’47; thus tradition and hearsay testimony is all that can be obtained.
Miss E. R. Crowley was principal; useful and ornamental branches were taught; tuition, if paid in advance, $3.00 to $5.00 for a quarter; if not paid in advance, $3.50 to $5.50; music, if paid in advance, $8.00; if at end of term, $10.50, being a liberal discount for spot cash. Board, including bedding and lights, $1.50 per week; boys under ten years were admittedco-education, with an age limit.
The Oneida street hill footpath bears a striking resemblance to the pictures in old school histories of Israel Putnam making impossible jumps on an impossible horse, “Down that steep, where no pursuer dared to leap,” and has just had a new set of steps laid to replace the ones that were trod by George H. Woodruff, Martin H. Demmond, Thomas R. Hunter, William A. Strong, Senior and Junior, Dr. Bailey, Dr. Comstock, William F. Barrett, Charles Demmond, and other residents on Hickory and Broadway, when they wanted to make a short cut to and from their homes. Royal E. Barber, Hamilton D. Risley, H. N. Marsh, and Col. William Smith went up the Western avenue hillan easier grade.
The stone blacksmith shop at the foot of the Oneida hill is doing business at the old stand, as it did when Thomas R. Hunter made the sparks fly and shod fast horses for Henry K. Stevens, Thomas Hatton, Alonzo Leach and Paddock, in the days when 2:30, the record of ’43, was not beaten until Flora Temple came under the wire, in ’59, in 2:19 1/2.
Micajah L. Adams’ steam foundry, built in ’40, became Edward H. Akin’s cooper shop, and was doing a flourishing business until the penitentiary made it impossible for free labor to compete with it in the cooperage line. There was a stone building at the corner of Bluff and Spring streets, built by Robert Stewart for a steam flour and planing mill, which burned in ’49 and was not rebuilt.
The Belz Brewery was a little one-story frame pioneer in the beer business in Joliet, and supplied the home trade with an excellent quality of beer until the big breweries and modern methods put it out of the trade. The east side made whiskey, the west side beer; the distilleries have all disappeared, but behold the breweriessurvival of the fittest, did some one say?
The Merchants & Drovers Bank
The three-story brick building at the northeast corner of the Jefferson street bridge, which escaped the general destruction of old landmarks by the drainage channel, was built in ’52 by Joel A. Matteson for a store and bank. The owner occupied the store for the sale of his woolen mill products and general stock of merchandise. The basement was first occupied by a man named Ferguson, for a restaurant and bar. There was a row of small private rooms, or stalls, along the west side, with windows looking out on the then clear blue water of the Basin, and they were pleasant places to dine in and see the canal boats loaded with grain and lumber poled across to and from the lumber yards and warehouses that lined the eastern bank. The Merchants’ and Drovers’ Bank, the first bank in Joliet, had its elegant suite of rooms on the second floor, with Colonel William Smith, president; Roswell E. Goodell, cashier, and E. Payson Smith, teller.
The Merchants’ and Drovers’ Bank had to do business with the most rotten, treacherous paper currency that ever disgraced a civilized country. It could not be depended on from one hour to another, and the game was to get it off one’s hands as soon as possible. The payee had no recourse upon the payor, for although the bank had failed and the payor knew it, but the payee did not, if he accepted the bill he must stand the loss. Notes, drafts, contracts and checks were drawn “Payable in current funds” or “bankable funds.” There was always a hustling among business men to get the day’s receipts into the bank before four o’clock. Within a short time seventy-nine banks failed in the State of Ohio. All kinds of foreign coin circulated for specie payments; the English gold sovereign and silver three pence, the French Louis d’Or and silver franc, Mexican doubloon and Spanish dollar. The United States had coins running down from the big octagon fifty-dollar gold piece to the copper half cent. The business man had to have Thompson’s Bank Note Reporter and Presbury & Co.’s Counterfeit Detector lying near the cash drawer to test the paper money and a bottle of aqua fortis to test the coins.
Governor Matteson’s Woolen Mill
Joel A. Matteson’s woolen factory was Joliet’s first important manufacturing industry and stood on the south side of Jefferson street, at the east end of the bridge, its water power coming from above the dam, through a head race under the street. There was also a forty-two horse-power engine and boiler, the exhaust steam being used to heat the factorya steam-heated building in Joliet nearly sixty years ago! The factory employed about fifty hands, mostly girls. If there are any of those girls around, will they kindly rise and remain standing until they are counted? The capacity of the factory, and the girls, was over two thousand yards of cloth per week. Wool was received from nearly every county in the state, as it was the custom for neighbors to club together and make up loads of wool, instead of making individual trips.
After Joel A. Matteson was elected governor, he found it impractical to operate the factory, so it went out of business, was dismantled, and the chimney swallows came and took peaceable possession of the smokeless chimney. Early in the morning when other chimneys were sending forth clouds of smoke, the draft of the old factory chimney sent forth its cloud of swallowsindividual birds at firstthen specks, fading beyond the line of vision, scattering and catching insects in the air. At twilight there was the homecoming of those swift, tireless travelers of the trackless air, and the chimney’s draft seemed downward, as the flocks of swallows eddied round and round each round the circle growing smaller, denser, as the centripetal suction of the whirlpool drew them down into the darkness of the chimney’s blackened walls.
The birds in the chimney excepted, the old factory was for years as a body without a soul, but in the belfry hung the bell that, in the days when the factory was full of souls, had called the hands to their daily labor at its looms.
There was a warning, conspicuously posted on the building, which read: “Any person caught trespassing on these premises will be handled without gloves. W. C. Wood, Agent.” Ignoring this terrible warning, two boys had learned to find their way, in the night time, through the building, up the belfry stairs, and it was the duty and delight of this self-constituted committee of boys, whenever a Union victory was celebrated during the Rebellion, to climb those stairs, seize the frazzled remains of the bell rope, and ring the old bell for all there was in it. One hot summer nisrht in ’63, the city was wild with joy over a Union victory; bells, whistles and everything that could make a noise doing duty, and the boys were at their post, taking turns in making the bell do its duty, when there came a dull, sickening thud of the clapperthe old factory bell had burst with joyous peals, over the Union victory ofGettysburg!
While on earth, “W. C. Wood, Agent,” never knew who cracked the factory bell.
The Canal Driver
In the economy of nature there are always to be found vocations for all kinds of men and men for all kinds of vocations. The canal driver, as a rule, was not a man, but a by-product of the canal, recruited from time to time from the rowdy gang (the word hoodlum was not coined at that time) and averaged from fourteen to eighteen years of age. This unique specimen of concentrated cussedness is now extinct in this section of the country. He was a sort of Ishmaelthat is to say, his hand was against every man, and every man’s hand was against himespecially the hands of the captains and relay station bosses. His leading vices were profanity and pilfering; any portable article along the line of the canal, which he could make use of in his business had to be locked up, or nailed down or watched. His portmanteau or grip was a two bushel grain bag in which he carried the goods, chattels and personal belongings of himself and horses, and it contained a heterogeneous mass, as anyone can testify who ever saw one of these grips dumped.
But profanity was the canal driver’s long suit; he could take the cube root of an oath and, with dexterity and facility acquired by constant practice, raise it to a higher powerfive, six and seven jointed oaths rolling from his throat and tongue as readily as the notes of birds. The captains generally had a well stocked vocabulary of more logical and dignified oaths, which could be hurled at the drivers if they failed to keep the tow line from sagging in the water, or any other old thing went wrong in the propelling department. The captains damned the driversthe drivers cursed the mulesthe curses ended with the mules, just as generation doesnature’s limit.
There were undoubtedly some good canal driversboys who grew to be useful and wealthy citizens, aldermen, perhapsbut they were in a hopeless minority.
As there are offsets for many of the annoyances and ills of life, so there was compensation for the ranting of captains and rancorous cursing of drivers in the melody of the boatman’s warning call to the sleepy or sleeping lock tender, in the stillness of a summer’s night: “Lock ready-y-y-y, lock read-y-y-y-y,” and the sound of the boatman’s horn, sweet and clear as the voice of a far away whippoorwill.
The Wanderer’s Return
After over fifty years of absence, an old man, wandering back to Joliet, would find more familiar buildings on and around old Bluff and Broadway than on all the other streets of the city combined. But he would look in vain for once familiar names on signs and door plates. One by one they have been gathering home; time and again the hearse has stood before the homesteads, while sympathizing friends and neighbors have passed in, through crape-draped doors; breathed the odor of roses and lilies of the valley; heard the voices of ministers repeat the familiar words; “I am the resurrection and the life,” and other voices, sweet, sad, low, singing: “Lead, kindly light, amid the encircling gloom, lead thou me on.” And now those names, once written on wood and metal in perishable paint, are engraved on enduring granite and marble in the surrounding silent cities. The funeral flowers have withered on, the grass has grown over, and birds sang cheerfully, in the tree tops above their last resting placesjust as they will when we are gone.
The first cemetery laid out in the township, was the St. Patrick’s on Exchange street. It was in the year 1836 or 1837 that the ground was selected and consecrated to the burial of the Catholic dead. There were two burials of persons who died in 1836, but whether the bodies were deposited there at the time of death, or were buried elsewhere temporarily, and then afterwards removed to consecrated ground, it is impossible now to determine. But in 1837 there were many burials there, and from that year forward, the burials were numerous. There has been but little pains taken with the city of the dead to keep it in order. The walks in many places are covered with grass and weeds, the head stones at many of the graves, and especially of those of an early date, have fallen down and many of them broken, while on many others moss and lichens have so covered them that it is quite difficult to tell who is buried there or the date of the death.
But St. Patrick’s is sacred to the memory of many of the early deceased of Joliet and Will county, and such it will ever remain. Many of the township’s most active business men and lovely women, many an innocent child, and many a youth and maiden have there found their last resting place, and their bodies returned to the dust from whence they sprung.
The cemetery was incorporated February 12, 1855, and April 15, of that year was the first burial in it. It was handsomely laid out and has been kept in the best possible order since its first organization. The officers of the cemetery are Jacob A. Henry, president; T. A. Mason, treasurer; Jas. G. Elwood, secretary and superintendent; S. E. Ingalls and S. P. Cagwin. There are nearly forty acres in the cemetery grounds, it being the largest in the township.
The Zarley or Desplaines Cemetery, two miles southeast of the city, was used as a burial place in 1845. It is small, only about one acre and is pretty well filled.
The Higinbotham or Mound Cemetery, three miles east of the city, on the New Lenox town line, is another old burial ground, and was first used in the early forties. It is about one acre in extent, and is well filled with the graves of the pioneer dead. It is now a part of the Higinbotham estate, and is controlled by private parties.
The German Lutheran Cemetery, next adjoining Oakwood Cemetery on the west. It is well laid out and kept in good order.
Mt. Olivet, next adjoining Oakwood on the east, is of more recent date, having been laid out and consecrated some twenty years ago. It is the burial place of the Catholic dead and is kept in the best possible order and condition.
First Happenings in Joliet
The first cabin built and the first permanent settlement within the limits of the present city of Joliet, was that of Charles Reed, in the fall of 1832.
The first frame house erected on the site of the city, was that of David Maggard in the spring of 1833.
Captain Robert Stevens cultivated the first land in the township in 1831.
Dr. A. W. Bowen was the first resident physician. He came here in 1834.
Hugh Henderson and E. C. Fellows were the first lawyers here in 1835.
Benjamin Richardson was the pioneer chair maker, he came from Plainfield in 1836.
Thomas Cox was the first merchant. He started a small general store on Bluff street in 1834.
Francis Nicholson and Charles Sayre were the first tailors. They came in 1835.
Charles Reed erected the first grist mill in 1833. James McKee built his mill in 1834.
James McKee was the first Justice of the Peace in West Joliet, and O. W. Stillman the first in East Joliet. Both elected in 1836. Mr. Stillman performed the first marriage ceremony in the county after it was organized.
William Blair was the first tinsmith, and had the first hardware store in 1836.
Deacon C. W. Brandon was the first stone mason in 1835.
Dr. A. W. Bowen was the first postmaster, June 1835.
Rodney House was the first wagon maker in 1835.
Fort Nonsense was erected in the spring of 1832.
The first school was that kept in a room of Charles Reed’s cabin, in the winter of 1832, and the second one was kept by a Miss Cleveland, from Yankee Settlement in Fort Nonsense in the summer of 1833.
The first Fourth of July celebration was in 1836, and was under some oak trees that stood on the present site of the county jail.
Martin H. Demmond erected the first stone building here. It is the one opposite the old National Hotel, at the corner of Bluff and Exchange streets. C. W. Brandon did the stone work.
The first jail and court house was built in 1837.
The first newspaper was the Courier, started in 1839.
Charles Clement had the first lumber yard, and he and John M. Wilson established the grain trade.
The first plank road was completed in 1853, Joliet to Plainfield, nine miles.
Uri Osgood was the first private banker, 1850.
The old woolen mill that stood south of the Jefferson street bridge was built by Mr. J. A. Matteson, in 1845.
The first chartered bank was the Merchants’ & Drovers’ in 1850.
The second court house was built in 1848.
The first death sentence was that of George Chase, April, 1866.
The Rock Island road was opened December 7, 1852, and it run one train each way every day.
The first great accident on that road near Joliet, was that of November, 1854, a little west of the city, when sixteen persons were killed and forty-six injured.
The Chicago & Alton road was opened south from Joliet in August, 1854.
The Joliet & Chicago Railroad was opened in the fall of 1857.
The great accident on that road occurred near Sag, August 16, 1873, resulting in the death of twenty-three persons, and severe injuries to thirty-one others. Four of the killed were from Joliet.
The Cut-Off railroad was finished in 1855.
July 31, 1864, lightning struck the St. John’s Church on North Hickory street, killing five persons and injuring twenty others.
The first celebration of Forefathers Day in Joliet, was held at the First Presbyterian church, December 21, 1870.
The first St. Mary’s Church at the corner of Scott and Van Buren streets, was burned November 26, 1876.
The first brick school house at the corner of Cass street and Eastern avenue, was completed and dedicated, April 27, 1855.
Seventy-five thousand dollars appropriated by the city council for the new rolling mills, May 1, 1869. July 11, 1870, the first rails were rolled at the mills.
In 1846, Hervey Lowe, a merchant, advertised for deers’ skins and wolves’ pelts in exchange for goods.
January 11, 1859, Joliet Gas Works completed and first illumination.
January 13, 1848, the legislature authorized the building of the first bridge across the river at Jefferson street.
First Horse railroad organized in the city, March 28, 1870.
The first Loan & Homestead Association was organized April 27, 1879.
News came of the laying of the first Atlantic cable, August 20, 1866.
December 27, 1859, the first Masonic Hall on the south side of Jefferson street, was dedicated.
The first meeting of the Will County Pioneers Association, was September 9, 1880.
The first Masonic Lodge organized in the village November 13, 1840.
Powhan Lodge No. 29, was the first Odd Fellows Lodge chartered in Joliet, July 13, 1847.
The first division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians was organized here October 1, 1874.
The first lodge of the Knights of Pythias Holy Grail, No. 39, was organized in December, 1872.
The first stone building built on the east side of the river, was the old Wilson store on Ottawa street, in 1835.
The first church edifice in the village was the Methodist which stood where the Rock Island depot now stands, and was erected in 1836.
The first hotel on the west side of the river, the National, was built in 1837.
The first business crash in the village was in 1839, when eggs sold for three cents a dozen, venison for one and a half cents per pound, and other produce in proportion.
The first National Bank in the city is the First National which was organized January 1, 1864, George Woodruff, president.
The first foundry built in the village was that erected by M. L. Adams, in 1837, on the west side of the river.
January 4, 1872, the Grand Duke Alexis passed through the city south over the Alton Road.
The first telegraph office was established in the village March 13, 1851.
May 11, 1853, the First Methodist Church at the corner of Ottawa and Clinton streets, dedicated by Rev. Mr. Reed.
May 30, 1870, was the first observance of Decoration Day.
August 1, 1866, the First Presbyterian Church on Broadway was organized.
Mr. Reed’s Narrative of His Early Experiences in the County
George W. Reed, son of Charles Reed, the pioneer of Joliet and Will county, was born March 2, 1824, in Parke county, Indiana. He emigrated with his father’s family, to what was afterward known as Reed’s Grove, in the town of Jackson, in the spring of 1829. “We left Indiana in February, but the traveling was so bad, it took us six weeks to make the journey. When we reached the Kankakee river, they had to build rafts to cross the river, and it took several days to get over it. Besides father’s family, there were in the party Joseph and Eli Shoemaker, who stopped with father at Reed’s Grove, and George and Henry Linebarger, and Charles Koons, who went on and settled in Jackson’s Grove. We had a post-office at Reed’s Grove for several years. There are many things that happened in my youthful days that I remember very distinctly,of my father going to Vandalia to attend the legislature, of my helping father stake out the state road that runs through Reed’s and Jackson’s Groves to Joliet, of our going back to Indiana when the war began in 1832, and of our going to Joliet to live when we returned that fall. I was then a boy eight years old, and remember well of his building his cabin near a spring on the west side of the river. There was a high ledge of rock not far from our cabin, where Mr. Demmond afterward built a stone store building. Mr. Woodruff in his history was wrong in stating that McKee built a frame addition to our cabin, after he bought it, for I remember well of sleeping in that frame addition in what they called a trundle bed, before father sold out, and of going to the dcor one night and seeing the shooting stars, but I forget whether it was in 1832 or 1833. It was in that frame part that my father hired a Yankee girl by the name of Cornelia Dean, from the Yankee settlement, to teach us children. The following spring five families joined together, and hired a Miss Persis Cleveland to teach us children in the fort upon the bluff, about half a mile above our house. The families, besides father’s, were R. Hobbs, Mr. Blackburn, Mr. Barker and Mr. Caton. I remember well the first pair of boots I ever had. I saw father fording the river with three pairs, for my older and younger brothers, and myself. I remember of herding our sheep down the river, where Deacon Brandon afterward built a small house, and of finding a lot of blue racers there and stoning them. I also remember a negro who had a shanty above the fort, who was a scarey being to us. He made small beer and ginger cakes, and my brother and myself went up there and bought a few dollars worth on tick, and we did not know how he was ever to get his pay, but a few days afterward when we were loading our goods to move back to the Grove, the old fellow came and presented his bill to father, and he paid it, and we then thought it was all right. But the next morning he had a settlement with us boys, and I do not think we run our faces for any more ginger cakes for some time. I also remember, and it is a thing I shall never forget, and that was a certain blue-eyed girl with a black silk dress, and how badly I felt when one of those high-toned educated boys took her from me. It was the first silk dress I had ever seen, and it captivated me at first sight. Sometime before the Indians went away, the old chief came to our cabin, and tried to buy me of father for forty ponies. They made the bargain all right, and I was so scared that I did not get my full growth. I think I should have been some taller than my father had it not been for that scare.
“The first child born there was Elias Shoemaker, my sister’s son, born April 15, 1831. The first wedding in Reed’s Grove was that of Silas Henderson and Lorena Carson. The first preacher was a Methodist by the name of West, but the next, and the most noted, was Rev. Stephen R. Beggs. The first lawyers, I am certain were Osgood and Fellows. A Mr. Barker was the first merchant to bring goods there, but he soon left for parts unknown, and took with him a young widow. Mr. Woodruff was the first clerk. He worked for Demmond, and a Mr. Dodge was the first constable. The Joliet Hotel, was the first hotel there, and it was there in 1836 that I saw the first big drunk. It was when the canal bill passed, and they said that boats would be running through the village in a few weeks, but I believe it was several years before they went through the village. The first church in Joliet was the Methodist that stood south of the court house. I was twenty-five years old before I saw an apple or a pear growing on a tree. Among the relics that I have preserved from olden times, is a pewter tankard, over 285 years old, that belonged to my grandparents, and which they brought from the north of Ireland, and my mother’s old fire shovel, that she used for more than thirty years before the old fire places went out of fashion. Dear, good old mother, she rests now in Reed’s Grove.”
A Brief Statistical Military History of Will County
By Captain James G. Elwood
Since the admission of Illinois as one of the United States on December 3, 1818, her sons have shown their courage and patriotism in no less than four great wars. Their blood has nurtured the flowers and grass, and been spilled upon the rocks and soil of our State, in Mexico, and upon nearly all of the 2,410 various battlefields of the Civil War of 1861-5; and in defense of the rights of a people to be free, in the island of Cuba, and other West Indies, and of the Philippines, the flower of Patriotism was nurtured with the red life blood of Illinois heroes.
In the Black Hawk War in 1831-32; the Mexican War in 1846-48; the Civil War of 1861-65; and the Spanish-American War of 1898; the muster rolls of volunteers, has in each case far outnumbered the quota, demanded of or by the State; and brave men have left our borders to maintain rights, to endure hardships, pledge their lives against their foemen; and to gain an undying record for bravery, endurance and success: and the survivors returned to their homes as peaceful citizens, honored, respected and revered by the people and the State.
Illinois furnished for the Black Hawk War 190 companies of volunteers, numbering from 23 to 151 men each. Of these, one company is credited to Will county, with 60 men.
For the Mexican War, the United States Government accepted but 3,720 recruits out of 8,370 who volunteered in Illinois.
For the Civil War, the quota of troops assigned to Illinois was 244,496, and this State furnished 259,092 volunteers. These troops were organized into 17 regiments of cavalry; two regiments and eight batteries of artillery; 157 regiments and nine companies of infantry a grand total of 176 regiments, nine companies, and eight batteries.
To the Spanish-American War, the State sent nine regiments of infantry of twelve companies each; one regiment of cavalry and one battery of light artillery. There were probably three volunteers offered to one accepted into the service for that war.
Correct data are not obtainable for all soldiers from Illinois who have enlisted in the regular United States service; but it is beyond question that thousands have been mustered into the regular army.
In the glory earned by this great State from the acts of its soldier heroes. Will county can claim a share greater even than her proportionate population. In all of the great wars she has sent her full quota of recruits. During the Black Hawk War, the present Will county was part of Cook county, and while one company of sixty men is credited to this county’s present territory, it is known that many credited to Cook county were also from this section. Will county was organized January 12, 1836. Recruiting offices for the Mexican war in 1846-48 were opened only in Alton, Belleville, Marion, Ottawa, Nashville and Chicago. The place of residence is omitted opposite the names, and the place of enlistment only is given in the reports. What credit is due to Will county of these recruits it is difficult to determine. The writer recalls vividly of over thirty young men marching through the streets of Joliet, armed with sticks and learning the duties and drills of the soldier, who went by canal boat and stage to Ottawa for muster. Like enlisting was going on at the same time in Lockport, Plainfield and Wilmington, and doubtless in other townships in the county.
In the Civil war, with the county’s population of 29,264, there were 3,696 volunteers within its borders mustered into the service. After fair deduction for aged, infirm and minors and for females, this number nearly equaled sixty-five (65) per cent of men who would be subject to military duty. The adjutant general of Illinois reported eligible for military duty in Will county between the ages of 18 and 45 years, 5,310. It is fairly presumable that at least twenty per cent of the enlistments in our county were young men under eighteen years of age; so that fully fifty per cent of those liable for army duty entered the service.
The following is official from the records of the adjutant general’s office at Washington, giving the ages and number of enlistments for the Union in the Civil war:
The number of 10 years and under: 25 The number of 11 years and under: 38 The number of 12 years and under: 225 The number of 13 years and under: 300 The number of 14 years and under: 1,523 The number of 15 years and under: 104,987 The number of 16 years and under: 231,051 The number of 17 years and under: 844,891 The number of 18 years and under: 1,151,438 The number of 21 years and under: 2,159,798 The number of 22 years and over: 618,511 The number of 25 years and over: 46,626 The number of 44 years and over: 16,071
When it is noted that 1,151,438 boys in blue of 18 and under entered the field and served in the navy, and out of nearly 3,000,000 recruits only 46,626 of them were over 25 years of age, the average age of the soldier was a little under 18 years. The now veterans were then really “boys” and they loyally and successfully wore the blue. There were 18 boys of 17 and under to one man of 25 or older, in this service.
The longevity of the men who served in the Civil war is remarkable. The following is quoted from a letter written by Commissioner of Pensions, Eugene E. Ware, giving the status as of July 1, 1905:
“There came out of that great war, as shown by the records of the War Department, 1,727,853 men. There will be living on the first of this coming July 870,000 of these old soldiers, showing that at the end of nearly forty years, over one-half of them are still living, and the mortality is less per annum than is generally given, or is generally supposed.”
“The reason for this is that no such race of people ever found their way into the army, and no such people ever came out of so great a war inured not only to military service but to all the rigors and vicissitudes of life. In short, the mor8tuary rate among the old soldiers of the Civil war is less than among the selected risks of the insurance companies.”
Yet for many years after 1865 the same old soldier was not deemed a desirable applicant for life insurance.
It can not be said in regard to the republic of the United States that it is or has been ungrateful; and that it has not to the letter carried out its contract with its volunteers as faithfully as the same volunteers performed their part. The pension bureau has dispensed to old soldiers and their widows and minor children, since the war, over $3,500,000,000. Within the past year the pensioners numbered over 1,004,000, but at this date the number has fallen to 992,000. On February 7, 1907, congress by a nearly unanimous vote, passed the act granting to survivors of the Mexican and Civil wars pensions of $12.00 per month for those between 62 and 70 years of age; $15.00 per month between 70 and 75 years of age, and $20.00 per month to those of 75 years of age and over. This law is virtually a gratuity, and in no manner covers pensions granted for wounds or other disability. The public seems to consider this action fair; and the “old boys” applications are being placed on file by the thousands daily, as an expression of their approval. One hundred and eighty-five thousand filed within thirty days after the enactment.
The 3,696 volunteers in the Civil war credited to Will county, attached themselves to almost every military organization then mustered in Illinois. The enlistments and organizations with which they allied themselves are as follows:
Hawley’s Light Artillery (Lockport), 100 days: 52 McAllister’s Battery (Plainfield), 3 years: 72 First Regiment Illinois Artillery, 3 years: 78 Second Regiment Illinois Artillery, 3 years: 149 Chicago Board of Trade Battery, 3 years: 1 Chicago Mercantile Battery, 3 years: 36 Cogswell’s Battery (Ottawa), 3 years: 16 Henshaw’s Battery, 3 years: 3 Bridge’s Battery, 3 years: 1 2d Illinois Cavalry, 3 years: 1 3d Illinois Cavalry, 3 years: 17 4th Illinois Cavalry, 3 years: 138 6th Illinois Cavalry, 3 years: 7 8th Illinois Cavalry, 3 years: 111 9th Illinois Cavalry, 3 years: 54 10th Illinois Cavalry, 3 years: 17 11th Illinois Cavalry, 3 years: 13 12th Illinois Cavalry, 3 years: 21 13th Illinois Cavalry, 3 years: 74 14th Illinois Cavalry, 3 years: 4 15th Illinois Cavalry, 3 years: 13 16th Illinois Cavalry, 3 years: 2 17th Illinois Cavalry, 3 years: 10 7th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 4 12th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 7 13th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 5 14th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 2 l5th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 5 19th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 1 20th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 358 22d Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 1 23d Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 10 24th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 3 28th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 1 31st Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 1 33d Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 13 34th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 3 36th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 9 37th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 3 39th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 282 42d Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 12 43d Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 5 44th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 4 45th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 2 46th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 62 51st Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 6 52d Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 4 53d Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 36 55th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 8 57th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 6 58th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 32 59th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 2 60th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 2 61st Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 7 62d Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 9 64th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 298 65th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 20 66th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 26 67th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 4 69th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 4 72d Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 37 73d Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 1 76d Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 7 82d Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 12 88th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 15 89th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 1 90th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 146 91st Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 5 100th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 848 104th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 2 105th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 8 111th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 1 113th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 8 115th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 1 124th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 8 127th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 6 129th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 5 132d Illinois Infantry, (100 day service): 22 134th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 6 138th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 37 146th Illinois Infantry, (One year service): 11 147th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 10 153d Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 15 156th Illinois Infantry, 3 years: 34 In Michigan, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas regiments: 45 And in the marine service, upon staff, detached and other service: 248
Among all of Will county’s citizens, one only is known, whose sympathies with the South were strong enough for him to enlist in the Confederate ranks.
As nearly as can be ascertained, over five hundred patriots from Will county never returned alive from their service in this war. Twenty-eight of them died amid the horrors and diabolical treatment, viler than inhuman, in the prison stockade at Andersonville, Georgia. Just how many died or were confined in other military prisons is a matter of conjecture. Soldiers returning from Andersonville, almost to a man, came back disabled for life, and generally survived but a few years at the most.
The soldiers sent from, Will county, under enlistment in so many different organizations, were scattered into every branch of the service, and into every army in the war. Many belonged to regiments or batteries that served in no less than three of the grand armies; and Will county boys fought in nearly every battle and skirmish in the South from April 12, 1861, to Kirby Smith’s surrender on May 26, 1865.
During the Civil war there were in 1861, 161 engagements; in 1862, 601; in 1863, 649; in 1864, 841, and in 1865, 158, a total of 2,410 engagements officially recognized by the war department, nearly every one of which was of greater magnitude than the battle of Cerro Gordo of the Mexican war.
In the Black Hawk war, in Captain Iles’ company, was Abraham Lincoln, a private, afterwards president of the United States. This company was a part of a regiment commanded by a Will county colonel.
In the Black Hawk war there were nominally forty regiments as well as independent and unaligned troops. Very few of the regiments ever gathered all its companies together into one organization; and many of the regiments were made up of but one company only. In the Mexican war the State sent out six regiments of infantry and four companies of independent mounted troops. For the Civil war and the Spanish-American war the numbers appear above. In numbering the regiments for the Civil war the authorities wisely began with regiment No. 7 (the numbers preceding having served and been credited as such in the Mexican war) and followed consecutively on to the end, in numbering the various organizations to the last enlistments. For some reason unexplained, and liable in the future to create much confusion, the troops from Illinois mustered into the Spanish-American war service were for infantry service numbered one to nine; for cavalry, First and Battery A, First Regiment of Light Artillery. Many States furnishing volunteers numbered their organizations following the last numbered in the Civil war. (This method will surely save confusion when the students of the next generation search for historical facts.)
But two of the organizations with which Will county troops were connected were mustered into the United States service in the county. These were the 20th and 100th regiments of infantry; both mustered in on the old county fair grounds in Joliet. A portion of one battery was, it may be said, likewise taken into the federal service, but a later re-muster was required after its full quota of men was enlisted.
Not all of the patriots of Will county went as sodiers in the Civil war. Many fully as enthusiastic and as patriotic remained here, and they had noble and philanthropic duties to perform. When 3,600 out of 5,300 able-bodied males are taken from a community the necessities exist for manly aid and assistance to be rendered to the needy and helpless mothers and children left at home. The machinery of government, too, could not continue unless guided and directed by brainy and patriotic men at home. To their patriotic and humane efforts was due the fact that the families of the volunteers were generously eared for. Private contributions and pledges of individual support for from one to six families were pledged by men of advanced age and liberal means; while the husbands or sons upon whom they were dependent remained in the service, or until the war closed in case of death or serious disability. And these same men made many visits to the front with words of cheer sending delicate supplies for the sick and the well and also car loads of useful wearing apparel which Uncle Sam was remiss in supplying under army regulations.
As a whole the county of Will appropriated: $235,908.41 Lockport and donations: 13,027.00 Florence: 10,075.00 Troy: 18,271.02 Wheatland: 9,340.00 Joliet: 40,000.00 ——– $326,621.43
These contributions were for bounties, subsistence and soldiers’ families, and are all that were officially reported to the State authorities. Individual contributions are not included in the above. Fifteen other counties only, including Cook county, exceeded this generous outpouring of funds. In proportion to its population this county ranked among the first in its liberality.
And this war produced another class of patriots, who were not permitted by nature nor fitness of things, to march, carry heavy burdens and fight battles. The wives and mothers of the brave men who went into the war were compelled to remain at home. Many of them to give needed care to little ones, to the farm, business and other properties. They did their part well, and for three years and more some of them bore the Cross of Patriotism more heroically and more bravely than their dear ones at the front. The daily routine of home life to them was a monotonous endurance of suffering, anxiety and thought; free from the jollier days the soldiers enjoyed in camp, in march and equalled only by the volunteers’ experiences when in action. Back of the “front” these noble women did their part, and their encouragement and love and work did much to make the soldiers more patriotic and brave. Their part and unmurmuring sufferings rank them equal as heroes with the other sex, and praises will go down to the future for them for honors deserved and earned.
At the outbreak of the Spanish-American war in 1898, most of the now reunited States had fostered national guard organizations of regiments of infantry, cavalry and batteries of artillery. These organizations were fairly complete in equipment, drill and a perfect citizen soldiery. The States fostered and encouraged the idea and furnished money for their maintenance. Illinois, as stated, had eleven organizations of this character, and, like the volunteers of the Civil war composed largely of young men.
Upon the declaration of war with Spain on April 25, 1898 (a sequel to the mysterious and unexplained disaster to our battleship the “Maine” in Havana harbor), the president made a call for 125,000 troops of different arms. To Illinois was assigned the quota of seven regiments of infantry and one of cavalry. On April 26th Governor Tanner wired the secretary of war that “Seven regiments of infantry and one regiment of cavalry completes rendezvous at Springfield at noon, Wednesday, April 27th.” Illinois upon this occasion was the first State in the Union with her men in the field for United States service. On the date mentioned the governor wired as follows: “Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.Seven regiments of infantry and one of cavalry are mobilized at Springfield. Approximate strength eight thousand. Await further orders.”
It would not have been within the range of possibilities to have so promptly effected the mobilization of so large a force, had it not been for the National Guard: for its completeness of organization and for the magnificent patriotism of the individual members. Almost to a man did the militia drop business cares, home ties and environment and become soldiers.
Illinois for this service sent to the front two extra regiments of infantry and one battery of artillery. Nine of the organizations were mustered into the United States service between May 7th and May 21st. All were speedily moved to the South, and at the rendezvous like organizations from all of the States were concentrated; and the sons of the “boys in blue” and the sons of the “men in grey” touched elbows upon the drill ground; and the “bloody chasm” of a third of a century before had been bridged and filled, and all these men were pledged to “do or to die” to save unsullied every star and stripe of “Old Glory.”
In this war Will county was as ever ready to do her part. The headquarters of the Third Regiment were in Joliet, with a large proportion of the field and staff as local residents. The county had one full company in this command, and most of the Will county volunteers were members of it. Thirteen from the county were mustered into other companies of the regiment; ten were officers of field and staff and 113 mustered as “B Company.” Careful examination discloses but three Will county recruits in other State organizations than as above named.
While the National Guard was being mustered as United States soldiers or the regiments moving to the front recruiting offices were opened everywhere in Illinois and tens of thousands of men were enlisted. But, so far as advised, few if any were accepted and the National Guard, as such, upheld the honor of Illinois in the Spanish-American war. The Illinois troops have never quite forgiven the navy for taking such large slices of the honors of war; while they looked on in watchful silence; wistful to breast against the foe. But the honors due them are as great as if with diminished numbers they had returned to their homes, replete with histories of battles’ carnage, and comrades dead or mangled. Their welcomes were just as hearty, and the happiness all the greater. For their work they earned equal commendation, praises and honors as the scarred veterans of many battles.
Only six of the Illinois organizations, our regiment included, crossed the water to Cuba and Porto Rico; and few were in actual battles. Nearly all that participated returned, and but few sodded mounds on the West Indies’ soil or in Illinois cover the remains of patriots who gave their lives to the cause to which they had so gallantly consecrated themselves.
The war in the Philippine Islands was largely carried on with regular troops. Many men from our state joined these forces. How many or from what localities the writer has no advice. Several went from Will county, and many of them are still in service there.
Will county during these several wars has had many of her gallant sons recognized, honored and promoted. To her is credited one brevet brigadier general, one colonel and chief of staff of a large army, four other colonels, one chief of artillery to an army corps and one to a division. Honors have been freely conferred upon many of her men in staff appointments and detached service.
There is no other country upon the earth wherein millions of the people have one day played only the part of citizenship and the next been drawn up in line and fighting battles, the most sanguinary in history. Nor is there a people that on a day’s notice doff the uniform and drop back into the former duties of daily life, quietly performing the peaceful pursuits they so suddenly forsook.
Will county’s soldiers have ever held the high regard and esteem of their fellow citizens; and after service had ended and they had returned to their avocations the public has honored on the bench, the legislature, municipal and almost every other political preferment, the soldier citizen.
Such, in brief, is a statistical review of general outlines of the military achievements and facts of Will county’s soldiers. The survivors are held in esteem and the dead are mourned with unfeigned distress. May the record of the future, should said necessity require it, be as patriotic, bright and manly as has been the past.
It will be obvious that mentions in detail have not been made of regiments, companies or individuals. The humble private doing honest duty is entitled to as full a page of history as his superior officers; and the smallest organization obeying orders have records as distinguished and personal as an army corps. To write about, or even to name individually the five thousand patriotic men who thus served for us, would fill volumes; and to detail movements and describe engagements of the hundred gallant organizations our men were allied with would be equal if not a greater task. Historians and army records have already placed these within the reach of all.
Source: Past and Present of Will County, Illinois, by W. W. Stevens President of the Will County Pioneers Association Assisted by an Advisory Board, consisting of Hon. James G. Elwood, James H. Ferriss, William Grinton, Mrs. Kate Henderson and A. C. Clement ILLUSTRATED Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company 1907.