Wednesday, May 8, 2019

May 8, 1882 -- Madison Street Eviction Fight; Go Fish

Gardner Spring Chapin and James Jefferson Gore
May 8, 1882 – There’s a neat place at 63 West Adams Street that was constructed in 1904 to house the distilling company of Chapin and Gore.  Gardner Spring Chapin and James Jefferson Gore first met in the 1850’s and by 1865 had opened a grocery store on the corner of State and Monroe Streets.  At some point they added a liquor department and began selling a whiskey named “1867 Sour Mash”.  Urban legend has it that when the Chicago fire roared through the Loop on October 8, 1871 the enterprising partners hired workers to roll the whiskey barrels into the lake in order to protect the valuable stock.  Supposedly, the partners sold the recovered hooch after the fire, advertising that it was “as smooth as silk” and calling it “Lake Whiskey.” [pre-whiskeymen.blogspot]. The events of this day in 1882 deal with a different event – the effort of Chapin and Gore to gain control of a business property in what is today the 1400 block of West Madison Street.  A caterer by the name of Robert H. Fish had held a lease on the property for his business from Jacob Beidler, but sometime before May 1 Fish was notified that his rent would be raised from $50 per month to $60.  Fish did not object to the raise, but he did ask for a clause to be inserted into the rental contract “giving him the privilege of transferring the lease, should he at any time desire to do so.”  Beidler agreed, and that should have been the end of the matter.  When Fish showed up to sign the contract, though, he was notified that the building had been rented for $100 a month to Chapin and Gore for a saloon. By May 8 goons had thrown Fish out of the premises three times.  Fish responded to each assault by returning his possessions to the store and suing for $5,000 in damages in the Superior Court. On May 8 the process was repeated. Complicating the situation was the fact that Fish’s wife was an invalid “whose condition has been made much worse by the behavior of the mobs who invaded her husband’s premises.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, May 9, 1882].  Fish moved to stop the fourth effort at evicting him and grappled with one of the men at work in throwing his possessions into the street. Both men were arrested.  After posting bond, Fish returned to the establishment to find that his friends in the area had, for the fourth time, returned all of his possessions to their original places.  Although Chapin and Gore claimed they had no knowledge of the raids “it was stated positively that one of their wagons was down to the place while Mr. Fish’s effects were being thrown out, and that the wagon was loaded with saloon stock, but none of it was unloaded … the firm offered no explanation in the matter further than t; Go o say that Mr. Fish would have to go.” 

May 8, 1925 – Ground is broken at Lake Shore Drive and Chicago Avenue for the building of the Alexander McKinlock Memorial campus of Northwestern University. The plan includes five buildings, with donations from prominent citizens funding each of them.  Mr. George A McKinlock is present at the ceremony to turn the first shovel of dirt. McKinlock came to Chicago in 1886 and started the Central Electric Company, eventually selling the firm to the General Electric Company. He also owned substantial real estate properties. After their son, George Alexander, died in World War I, Mr. and Mrs. McKinlock pledged $250,000 to buy nine acres on Lake Shore Drive for a campus for the professional schools of Northwestern University.  McKinlock ultimately pledged more than $500,000 to Northwestern, but most of his fortune evaporated during the Great Depression.  In 1937 the university forgave his debt, cancelled the pledges he had made and returned his contributions to the family.  At that point the family’s name was removed from the campus, and it was renamed the Chicago Campus of Northwestern University. The university continued to purchase land in the area, eventually increasing its holdings to 25 acres.  When Passavant Hospital moved to the campus in 1927, it began the sprawling medical complex that fills much of the area today.  Still standing is a reminder of the gift the McKinlocks gave to honor their 25-year-old son, killed by a sniper near the French village of Berzy-le-Sec on July 21, 1918.  It is the McKinlock gate on the northwest corner of Huron Street and inner Lake Shore Drive, created by artist Samuel Yellin. The photos above show the McKinlock gate as it appeared when the campus was dedicated and as it appears today.

May 8, 1861 – It all could have been worse, as a day later the Chicago Tribune reports under the headline “Whisky and Water” … “The watchman on Rush street bridge yesterday morning just before daybreak heard a cry of distress from the water near the south abutment, and going thither succeeded in saving the life of a gentleman from the rural districts, named Dun, who coming in on the cars got gloriously tight, and suddenly on his travels found himself diluting the whisky he had swallowed with the whole amount of water in the river.  He was saved, damp and damaged, and with a sprained ankle.  He is now in the Hospital.”  This would not be the last time someone from “the rural districts” found himself “gloriously tight” in the city. The photo above shows the bridge at Rush Street in 1860.

May 8: 1929 – After knocking the 600-ton Clark Street bridge from its foundation on April 30 the Sandmaster, a dredging vessel, is singled out by Assistant Corporation Counsels Charles McDonnell and Thomas W. Barrett, who prepare a suit against the owners of the ship. Records indicate that since May 21 of 1926 the wayward Sandmaster has struck 13 city bridges on 44 separate occasions. In these three years the ship rams the Fullerton Avenue bridge 18 times and the Diversey Boulevard bridge 13 times. 

Here are the incidents a search of the records reveal, damages that total an estimated quarter of a million dollars:

May 21:  Fullerton Avenue (damage to bridge ladder)
May 27:  Fullerton Avenue (damage to beams under walk)
June 20:  Diversey Boulevard (sidewalk)
August 10:  Diversey Boulevard (beams under walk)
August 10:  Fullerton Avenue (ladder to pier lights)
November 30:  Lake Street (sidewalk)
December 22:  State Street (sidewalk)
December 27:  Diversey Boulevard (channel lights)
December 27:  Kinzie Street (protection rails)

January 3:  Diversey Boulevard (sidewalk)
January 9:  Western Avenue (protection rails)
January 20:  Cortland Street (bridge house – bridge tender hurt)
January 23:  Fullerton Avenue (iron beam)
February 2:  Diversey Boulevard (protection rails)
February 3:  Western Avenue (cable)
March 9:  Fullerton Avenue (iron walk support)
March 18:  Halsted Street (bridge house door)
May 18:  Diversey Boulevard (sidewalk)
June 2:  Diversey Boulevard (pier light, ladder)

January 15:  Fullerton Avenue (sidewalk)
February 4:  Diversey Boulevard (pier platform)
March 18:  Erie Street (bridge house)
April 18:  Fullerton Avenue (bracket stringer)
April 22:  Fullerton Avenue (sidewalk bracket)
June 12:  Fullerton avenue (sidewalk)
June 15:  Division Street (porch, pier lights)
July 13:  Fullerton Avenue (sidewalk)
July 16:  Diversey Boulevard (platform, pier lights)
September 27:  Diversey Boulevard (protection rails, platform)
September 28:  Diversey Boulevard (protection rails, platform)
October 16:  Fullerton Avenue (sidewalk)
October 18:  Fullerton Avenue (sidewalk)
October 27:  Fullerton Avenue (bracket, stringer)
November 5:  Fullerton Avenue (rail posts)
December 2:  Fullerton Avenue (sidewalks)
December 4:  Michigan Avenue (cables)
December 5:  La Salle Street (cables)
December 8:  Fullerton Avenue (sidewalk brackets)
December 10:  Diversey Boulevard (sidewalk)
December 31:  Fullerton Avenue (two iron brackets)

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