Thursday, October 19, 2017

William Henry Harrison, Governor of the Indiana Territory, Steals Western Illinois from the Sauk and Fox Indian Tribes.

"...they believe that the Government has treated them more harshly, and with Greater injustice, than any Other Indian nation" wrote Indian trader George Davenport to Illinois Congressman Joseph Duncan in February of 1832. Davenport was trying to explain the bitterness felt by the Sauk and Fox at white encroachment on the area around their principal village of Saukenuk, located at the site of present-day Rock Island, Illinois.

While the Sauk and Fox were in no position to be objective about their mistreatment by the American government, they were not too far off base. The way in which they were stripped of their Mississippi Valley home easily holds its own with better-known tales of how whites used trickery, fraud, and finally, overwhelming force to sweep the Indians out of the way of the relentlessly advancing frontier.

The Sauk were of Central Algonquian stock - Eastern Woodland Indians. Before 1700, they had been driven from Quebec by the powerful Iroquois, had settled first in Michigan, then moved westward to the vicinity of Green Bay, Wisconsin, where they had joined forces with their kinsmen, the Fox. Finally, they moved on to the Upper Mississippi Valley and, about 1760, they established Saukenuk on the Rock River about two miles above that pleasant stream's junction with the Mississippi.

The Sauk were the dominant partners in the alliance, and Saukenuk itself evidenced how well they managed their affairs. It consisted of some one hundred lodges - neatly constructed, rectangular residences laid out in orderly rows on the low ground between the river and a seventy-foot high bluff. They were built with sturdy wood frames covered with strips of elm bark which, as one early settler put it, "turned the rain very well." On lowland along the river, the women raised corn, beans, squash, and melons. The rivers teemed with fish - the prairie groves with birds and small game - and the tribes' winter sojourn to their Iowa hunting grounds produced prodigious hauls of deer, beaver, otter, and raccoon pelts. Everything they had was shared by all, and British adventurer Jonathan Carver noted with surprise and admiration that the Sauk "esteem it irrational that one man should be possessed of a greater quantity than another, and are amazed that any honor should be annexed to the possession of it."

They were also fierce and warlike enough to satisfy the most fevered Hollywood imagination, and they were at pains to look the part. The warriors' faces were painted in fantastic patterns of blue, white, yellow, and black. As if to taunt and defy their enemies, they shaved their heads close except for a bristling scalp-lock which would be adorned for battle or ceremony by a clutch of eagle feathers. War was the principal road to distinction, and tales of exploits by their elders, told and re-told, bred generations of young braves thirsting to prove their mettle. They found ample opportunity to do so in the series of wars in which the Sauk and Fox seized coveted Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri hunting grounds from their weaker neighbors just as they had themselves been ousted from their Canadian home by the powerful Iroquois. It was these wars that led Meriwether Lewis to observe that the Sauk and Fox, while "extremely friendly" to the whites, were "...the most implacable enemies to the Indian nations with whom they are at war; to them is justly attributed the almost entire destruction of the Missouries, the Illinois, the Cahokias, Kaskaskias and Peorias." Carver, perhaps seeking to reconcile his admiration for the Sauk's well-ordered community life with his dismay at their torture and execution of helpless captives, commented: "They are the worst enemies and the best friends of any people in the world."

From the start, their relationship with the Americans was a rocky one. The Sauk had experienced French, British, and Spanish "fathers" and had accommodated, as events demanded, to the varying Indian policies of each. They had found the Europeans to be interested in the fur trade and in military alliances and free with presents and much-prized medals. The Americans were a different story. Henry Goulbourn, one of the British peace commissioners negotiating the Treaty of Ghent which ended the War of 1812, wrote: "Till I came here I had no idea of the fixed determination which there is in the heart of every American to extirpate the Indians & appropriate their territory." The Sauk version was that the Americans were like a spot of raccoon grease on a blanket; barely noticeable at first but spreading irresistibly until the entire blanket was ruined.
Portrait of William Henry Harrison by Rembrandt Peale.
There was no American more determined to move the Indians out of the way then the future hero of Tippecanoe, William Henry Harrison, Governor of the Indiana Territory. Harrison had been given responsibility for Indian affairs in newly acquired Louisiana and had been instructed by the Secretary of War to try to obtain minor cessions of land on either side of the Illinois River. Then, in August of 1804, an incident occurred which gave him the excuse for a much bolder stroke. At the Cuivre River, some forty miles north of St. Louis, white squatters had for some time been trespassing on Sauk and Fox hunting grounds. A fight had broken out between the squatters and some Sauk and Fox, and when it was over, three or four whites had been killed. One version has it that the killings were in revenge for the beating of an Indian who had tried to stop an American from taking liberties with his daughter. Others suggested that fiery young Sauk warriors committed the killings as an act of defiance toward the tribal elders for failing to stand up to the Americans. Whatever the actual facts, there was an immediate war scare along the frontier. Whites fled for protection to forts and blockhouses, and Sauk and Fox living near St. Louis retreated to the relative protection of Saukenuk.

The worried Sauk chiefs sent two of their number to St. Louis to express their regret over the incident, to inquire what satisfaction the Americans demanded, and to express their hope (soon to be dashed) that their new father "would not punish the innocent for the guilty." What the Sauk chiefs actually expected, in keeping with the custom prevalent among their own and neighboring tribes, was that the Americans would demand payment in money or goods to "cover the dead," i.e., to compensate the families of the victims. They were considerably taken aback when advised that the murderers must be delivered up to white justice and that the Sauk must appear at a council with Harrison in St. Louis. No mention was made, however, of a contemplated land cession.

On October 27th, another Sauk deputation appeared at St. Louis led by a minor chief, Quashquame, with three or four other members and with one of the supposed murderers in tow. The presumed culprit was promptly clapped behind bars, and Quashquame and his delegation spent much of the following week vainly pleading for his release - the rest of it forgetting their troubles in St. Louis taverns and grog shops. On November 3rd, confused, intimidated, and either drunk or hung over, Quashquame and the others were assembled before Harrison and his retinue. An interpreter read to the befuddled Indians a 2,000-word treaty between the United States and the Sauk and Fox to which the Indians were to subscribe by making their mark.

What they heard (along with a number of less important provisions) was that the Sauk and Fox were received into the "friendship and protection" of the United States and that they were to cede to their friend and protector their rights to some 23,000 square miles of western and northwestern Illinois, southwestern Wisconsin, and a sizable chunk of eastern Missouri. In exchange, the Sauk and Fox would receive a one-time payment of goods worth $2,234.50 and, each year thereafter, additional goods worth $1,000. Considering that their winter fur catch was reputed to have brought the Sauk and Fox as much as $60,000 in a single season, the deal was preposterous on its face.

Quashquame, who spent the rest of his life being condemned as the man responsible for the misfortunes of the Sauk and Fox, always claimed that neither he nor his associates ever "touched the pen." More likely, he simply had no clear memory of what had taken place. That he and the others were drunk virtually all of that week in St. Louis is supported by Isaac Galland, an exotic frontier character who practiced law and medicine, edited a number of newspapers, and speculated in land (it was Galland who sold Joseph Smith the site for the Mormon settlement at Nauvoo). Galland reported that the money paid to the Sauk and Fox upon signing the treaty was used to pay the Indians' grog shop bills and went on to observe, "The writer has no doubt, from his own personal knowledge of Quas-quaw-ma, that he would have sold to Gov. Harrison at that time, all the country east of the Rocky Mountains, if it had been required." Professor Cecil Eby of the University of Michigan has observed that had Harrison undertaken to transfer the Indiana Territory to the Sauk and Fox, his action would have been repudiated as that of a madman. The equally absurd cession by Quashquame and his companions of an area about as large as Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey combined, was serenely accepted by the United States as a legal and binding act.

Having maneuvered a handful of drunken Indians into agreeing to a cession which they had no authority to make, Harrison took the further precaution of employing a bit of legal camouflage to ensure that nothing would upset the formalized larceny that he had planned. Article 7 of the treaty was cleverly designed to put to rest any troubling questions that might occur to Quashquame or his associates as they listened to the interpreter droning on: "Art. 7. As long as the lands which are now ceded to the United States remain their property, the Indians belonging to the said tribes, shall enjoy the privileged of living and hunting on them."

Like most American Indians, the Sauk and Fox had little or no concept of private land ownership. The tribe itself held dominion over their villages, fields, and hunting lands. It was natural that they would assume the same to be true with the Americans, and accordingly, Article 7 meant to them that, under American dominion, they could expect to live and hunt on the land forever. Unfortunately there was no pro bono lawyer present to point out that in fact it meant exactly the opposite. As soon as the government sold the land to settlers, the Indians would be evicted. Of course, had the draftsman of the treaty been concerned with clarity, he could have said just that. Clarity was not what the United States had in mind. Eby rightly calls the document signed that day "one of the most notable swindles in American history."

When the Sauk and Fox tribal leaders learned what had taken place at St. Louis, there began a steady stream of Indian protests aimed at the treaty's irregularity and at the pitifully meager compensation it provided. Thanks to Article 7, there was little awareness shown of the fact that Quashquame and the others had put their mark to a paper which signed away the tribes' land forever.

The question did not present itself squarely for most of the next two decades during which northwestern Illinois remained largely an unsettled wilderness, and the tribes continued to occupy their fields and villages undisturbed. Then, in the 1820s, development of the lead mines at Galena and Dubuque brought the first significant influx of whites to the Upper Mississippi Valley. With them came the familiar demands for westward removal of the Indians. Now, the Treaty of 1804 was trotted out, and there was no mistaking the American view of its meaning and effect. The land around Saukenuk was offered for sale, and Illinois Governor Ninian Edwards blustered, fulminated and threatened to lose his militia on the Sauk and Fox unless the Federal government saw to it that they were promptly moved out of the way of the lead miners, settlers, and land speculators who crowded the decks of the steamboats headed upriver from St. Louis.
Late nineteenth-century photograph of Chief Keokuk.
The pragmatic Sauk leader, Keokuk, saw no choice except to bow to the inevitable, and most of the Sauk and Fox sadly followed him across the Mississippi to Iowa, but a naive, courageous, and idealistic warrior who was woefully uninformed about the extent of American power, refused to concede. His name was Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak, Black Sparrow Hawk, shortened by the whites to Black Hawk. He and his followers had fought for the British during the War of 1812 and had been known to the Americans ever since as the "British band" of Sauk and Fox.

Black Hawk's view of the Americans was expressed in his observation that the British made few promises but kept them faithfully; the Americans made many promises but kept none of them.

Now, Black Hawk clung stubbornly to the belief that their homes and fields could not be taken from the Sauk and Fox by a piece of paper to which the tribes had never agreed. In 1831, he and his followers asserted their ownership of Saukenuk in outright defiance of the treaty and demanded that the whites leave. When they were confronted by 1,500 militiamen called out by another Indian-hating Illinois governor, John Reynolds, the outnumbered Indians slipped away in the night. The frustrated militiamen burned Saukenuk to the ground for consolation.

The following spring, unwisely relying on the predictions of Wabokieshiek, the Winnebago Prophet, that the Winnebagos, Potawatomis, and even the British would come to his aid if he stood up to the Americans, Black Hawk determined to try again. On April 5, 1832, he led some 1,000 Indians, about half of them women and children, across the Mississippi to re-occupy Saukenuk and to plant corn for the coming season. There followed what we know as the Black Hawk War.
Map of the territory acquired from the Sauk and Fox in the
Treaty of 1804 as prepared by Ernest Royce.
In Wisconsin, the acquisition stopped at the Wisconsin River.
It was not really much of a war. It began with the fiasco of Stillman's Run in which some forty or fifty Sauk warriors sent 275 panicked militia fleeing thirty miles across the Illinois prairie to Dixon's Ferry where the main American force was encamped. There, they breathlessly recounted their miraculous escape from thousands of bloodthirsty savages. Black Hawk was astonished at this unexpectedly easy victory, but he also knew that his plight was now even worse than before the encounter. The allies promised by the Prophet had not materialized. He was burdened with hundreds of women and children. There was little or nothing to eat except what could be gathered or obtained by hunting and fishing while fleeing from a pursuing army, and that army - now embarrassed and more determined than ever to punish him - refused to allow him to surrender. Indeed, Stillman's Run had been precipitated by the first of what were to be many futile attempts at surrender. The remainder of the "war" was little more than the pursuit and hunting down of a dwindling band of starving, miserable Indians who kept trying to surrender but whose pursuers either did not understand or did not want to understand.

It ended where Wisconsin's tiny Bad Axe River joins the Mississippi, some thirty miles north of Prairie du Chien. There, many of the remnant of Black Hawk's band were slaughtered as they tried to get across the river to the west where the Americans presumably wanted them to be. That no longer mattered. No one was spared. Braves, old men and women, and mothers in the water with their infants lashed to their backs as they tried to swim to safety were all fair game for the troops on the bank and for the steamboat Warrior cruising up and down the shoreline blasting away with its six-pounder cannon. Nor was there any sanctuary for the few who managed to make it across. They were hunted down by the Sioux who had been commissioned by the Americans to make sure that no one escaped.

The massacre at the Bad Axe River was the final act in the tragedy that had begun twenty-eight years earlier with William Henry Harrison's unconscionable Treaty of 1804. While it differs only in detail from dozens of other instances of egregious mistreatment of the American Indian, it needs to be remembered as an example of what we did to those unfortunate people who had the bad luck to find themselves in the path of Manifest Destiny.

By Herbert S. Channick
Editing by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Story of Chicago's Dunning Asylum. A 'Tomb For The Living.'

For a long time, Chicagoans were scared of Dunning. The very name “Dunning” gave them chills. People were afraid they would end up in that place.

Today, the Chicago neighborhood, out on the city’s Far Northwest Side, looks like a middle-class suburb. “If peace and quiet are what you seek, look no further than Dunning,” the Chicago Tribune wrote in 2009. Some of the area’s younger residents have no idea what used to be there: an insane asylum, a home for the city’s poorest people, and cemeteries where the poor were buried.

“I grew up in this area,” says Michael Dotson, who is 29. “I’ve passed by this vicinity a hundred times, and never knew anything about it.” Dotson recently stumbled across a website that mentioned the old Dunning asylum. And then he saw a headline claiming that 38,000 bodies might be lying underneath the old Dunning grounds, their burial places unmarked.

That prompted Dotson to pose this question: 
What’s the history behind Cook County’s former Dunning Insane Asylum and the people buried near there?
It’s a long history with many dark chapters. Curious City can’t detail the entire history, so we focused on finding out who lived at Dunning — and who is still lying in Dunning’s unmarked graves. In both life and death, the people who ended up at Dunning were some of Chicago’s least fortunate residents.

Here’s how historian Perry Duis describes Dunning’s reputation in his 1998 book “Challenging Chicago”: 
For many generations of Chicago children, bad behavior came to a halt with a stern warning: “Be careful, or you’re going to Dunning.” The prospect sent shivers down the spines of youngsters, who regarded it as the most dreaded place imaginable.
Chicago resident Steven Hill, who is 60, recalls: “It was a term used in the ’50s and ’60s — ‘If you and your brothers and sisters don’t behave, we’ll send you to Dunning.’ And that used to scare kids, because they knew that it was a mental institution.”
The Cook County Insane Asylum at Dunning in the late 1800s.
Mundelein resident Ross Goodrich, who is 81, heard a similar expression growing up on the West Side in the 1930s and ’40s. “Whenever anyone would act a little nutsy, any of the kids, we’d say, ‘Oh, gotta send them to Dunning.’ It was a pretty common expression,” he says.
Hill and Goodrich are interested in the history of Dunning because both of them had great-grandparents who died in the institution in the early 1900s.

The complex occupied 320 acres of land between Irving Park Road and Montrose Avenue, stretching west from Naragansett Avenue to Oak Park Avenue.

It was never actually named Dunning. But the property just south of it was owned by the Dunning family — so when the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway extended a line to the area in 1882, the stop was named Dunning Station. And then people started calling the institution “Dunning.” (In its early years, people sometimes called it “Jefferson,” since it’s part of Jefferson Township.)

When it opened in 1854, it wasn’t an insane asylum. The Cook County Infirmary was a “poor farm” and almshouse. County officials opened its doors to people who had fallen on hard times and found themselves unable to earn a living.

“They didn’t provide very many services,” says Joseph J. Mehr, a Springfield clinical psychologist who wrote about Dunning in his 2002 book, “An Illustrated History of Illinois Public Mental Health Services.”

“What they really provided were a place to sleep and food,” he says. “And that was pretty much the extent of it.”

But from the very beginning, many of the poor people who were sent to live at the almshouse had mental illnesses. “In some ways, it’s almost similar to what we have today,” Mehr says, “in that we have a lot of people who are homeless and living on the streets, and a significant portion of them are people who are mentally ill.”

So the county added an “Insane Department” at the almshouse. And then, in 1870, it built a separate Cook County Insane Asylum on the grounds.

“The feeling was it’s better to isolate the population of the mentally handicapped, the indigent, and keep them far away from the city proper,” Chicago historian Richard C. Lindberg says.

But Mehr sees another motivation behind the asylum’s location, far from downtown Chicago. “The idea was to get people who were disturbed out of stress-inducing situations,” he says. “Asylums were built out in the country, and they were really pastoral, bucolic places where people could relax.”

That was the idea, anyway. In reality, Dunning was chronically overcrowded, and patients were neglected and abused.

“You could think of this place as the prototypical evil dark asylum of literature,” Mehr says. “There wasn’t much treatment. People … weren’t fed well. The food was terrible — weevil-filled. … People didn’t get the kind of medical care that they ought to get. … For many, many years, it was really a terrible place.”

Abuse and corruption 
In 1874, a Tribune reporter described Dunning’s poorhouse as “a shambling, helter-skelter series of wooden buildings” where dejected-looking people with matted hair and tattered clothing were “crowded and herded together like sheep in the shambles, or hogs in the slaughtering-pens.”

“The rooms swarm with vermin,” an attendant told the reporter. “The cots and bed-clothing are literally alive with them. We cannot keep the men clean, and we cannot drive the parasites away unless they are clean.”

The reporter couldn’t take the smell in the room, exclaiming: “For Heaven’s sake let us get out; this stench is unbearable.”

Political corruption was part of the problem at Dunning. County officials treated it as a patronage haven, hiring pals and cronies who had no expertise in handling mental patients. Employees got drunk on duty, partying and dancing late at night in the asylum. Some of the asylum’s top authorities used taxpayer money to decorate their offices and hold lavish parties while patients were suffering in squalor.

“Everybody was a political hiree,” says Al Opitz, a neighborhood historian. “So consequently, they had nobody to report to other than the political boss.”

In an 1889 court case, Cook County Judge Richard Prendergast described Dunning as “a tomb for the living.” He criticized the asylum for squeezing 1,000 patients into a space better suited for 500. “The presence of so many lunatics in a room irritates all,” Prendergast said. “Fighting among the patients at night is frequent.”

That same year, two attendants at the Dunning asylum were charged with murdering patient Robert Burns. They’d kicked him in the stomach and given him a gash on the head. A defense attorney claimed these “blows and kicks … were beneficial to the insane man, as they were a sort of stimulus or tonic,” according to the Tribune. Jurors acquitted the attendants, blaming Dunning’s overcrowding rather than the actions of individual employees.

Even under the best of conditions, doctors didn’t have many effective treatments for people suffering from mental illness. The only drugs they had at their disposal were sedatives. “If a person was terribly agitated, they might dose them with chloral hydrate, which would pretty much knock them out,” Mehr says. “That’s the ingredient in what used to be called a Mickey Finn in a bar.”

According to an 1886 state investigation, one of the sedatives used at Dunning was a mixture containing chloral hydrate as well as cannabis, hops and potash. The investigation also found that Dunning was serving two kegs of beer a day; patients as well as employees were apparently drinking the beer.

The same state probe harshly criticized the food Dunning served to its inmates. A lack of fruit and fresh vegetables had caused an epidemic of scurvy, with about 200 patients suffering from the illness. “The cooking, we are convinced, was bad,” the investigators said.

In spite of all their appalling discoveries, the investigators quoted one doctor who said “there were some attendants who were most excellent, who were conscientious, and endeavored to mitigate the sufferings of the insane in every way possible.” But these employees were in the minority, and they felt intimidated by Dunning’s irresponsible workers.

The situation inside the Dunning poorhouse seemed somewhat better by 1892. A journalist who visited that year didn’t encounter the same horrors others had witnessed in earlier times. But she reported that many of the poorhouse residents were “too old and infirm to do anything except sit about in joyless groups.” The superintendent told her that many people ended up in the poorhouse as a result of alcoholism. “Whisky brings the most of them,” he said, adding, “They’re foreigners mostly.”

Insanity cases in the news 
In that era, Chicago newspapers often reported the stories of local people suffering from mental illness, openly describing their symptoms and sometimes publishing their names. In many of these stories, patients were taken first to the Cook County Detention Hospital (at the northwest corner of Polk and Wood streets), where judges ordered them committed at Dunning.

Here’s a sample of several cases reported in 1897: 
  • Frank Johnson was committed to Dunning after he cut off his right hand in a fit of religious mania. “I think he will grow again,” he told a judge.
  • John E.N., 28, believed he was Jesus Christ.
  • Timothy O’B. became “a raving maniac” after a policeman struck him in the head.
  • William Mitchell, 43, an extremely emaciated African-American man, said he was hearing “the voices of spirits” and believed that people were “after him for murderous purposes.”
  • Theresa K., 35, was sent to Dunning after she refused to eat, declaring that her food was poisoned.
  • Catherine T., 56, “was something like a wild cat.” Maggie Mc., who may have fractured her skull five years earlier, was described as “silly, helpless, Irish, very poor, and 28 years of age.”
  • Fredericka W., 35, who was unkempt with a weather-beaten complexion, was sent to Dunning after a policeman found her sitting in a park. She said she “was searching for a prince, who had promised her marriage.”
  • William L., 45, was arrested when a policeman found him “wandering about the boulevards ogling women and girls.” After hearing the details of the case, a judge declared, “Dunning.” As the bailiff quickly hustled William L. toward the door, the patient turned around and shouted, “It doesn’t take long to do up a man here!”

Patients like these were sent by train from the Cook County Detention Hospital to Dunning. “It was a hospital car, and they had a doctor aboard and a couple of nurses,” Opitz says. “The train was called the ‘crazy train.’ … There was a guard on both ends so people couldn’t get out.”

About half of Dunning’s patients suffered from “chronic mania,” according to the asylum’s annual report for 1890. Other patients had conditions described as melancholia, impulsive insanity, monomania and circular insanity. The doctors listed masturbation as one of the most common “exciting causes” of insanity among Dunning’s male patients. According to the report, other patients had become insane as a result of religious excitement, domestic trouble, spiritualism, sunstrokes, disappointment in love, alcohol, abortion, narcotics, puberty and overwork.

Dunning’s unmarked graves 
Throughout its early history, Dunning also included cemeteries — not only for poorhouse residents and asylum inmates who died, but also for anyone who died in Cook County and whose family couldn’t afford to pay for a burial. Some bodies were moved to Dunning from the Chicago City Cemetery, which was underneath what is now Lincoln Park. The people buried at Dunning include 117 victims of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and Civil War veterans — including Thomas Hamilton McCray, a Confederate brigadier general who moved to Chicago after the war and died in 1891.
One of the most notorious people buried at Dunning was Johann Hoch, a bigamist who was believed to have married 30 women and murdered at least 10 of them. After he was hanged at Cook County Jail in 1906, other cemeteries refused to accept his body. “In that little box that they had made at the jail, the remains of Hoch were buried anonymously somewhere on the grounds at Irving and Naragansett,” says Lindberg, who told the story in his 2011 book “Heartland Serial Killers.”

The same fate befell George Gorciak, a Hungarian immigrant who died penniless in 1895, succumbing to typhoid. His family took his body to Graceland Cemetery, apparently unaware that they needed to pay for a plot there. By the end of the day, they’d hauled his coffin out to Dunning, where burials were free in the potter’s field.

The burials at Dunning included many orphans and infants — and adults whose identities were a mystery. In 1912, an “Unknown Man” who’d apparently stabbed himself to death was placed in the ground at Dunning.

Scandals sometimes erupted over bodies being stolen from Dunning’s cemetery by people who wanted them for anatomy demonstrations. In one 1897 case, four bodies were taken as they were being prepared for burial. Henry Ullrich, a watchman who worked at Dunning, was convicted of selling the corpses to Dr. William Smith, a medical professor in Missouri.

The professor claimed that the watchman had offered to kill a “freak” and sell him the body. Smith recalled telling Ullrich, “I only want the dead ones.” Ullrich supposedly replied, “That’s all right, Doc … he’s in the ‘killer ward’ and they’d just think he’d wandered off. They’re always doing that, you know.”

County officials denied the existence of a “killer ward.”

State takes control 
In 1910, Dunning’s poorhouse residents were moved to a new infirmary in Oak Forest. And in 1912, the state took over the Dunning asylum from Cook County, changing the official name to Chicago State Hospital.

Conditions had already been improving at Dunning over the previous decade, Mehr says. One reason was the construction of smaller buildings to house patients. And a civil service law passed in 1895 had decreased the problems with patronage. After the state took control, Mehr says, “It ended the scandals around the issue of graft and corruption.” But incidents of patients being abused still made news from time to time, he says.

Ross Goodrich says his great-grandmother, an immigrant from Prague named Fannie Hrdlicka (pronounced Herliska), was placed in Dunning when she became depressed after one her children died.
This February 1947 photo, taken inside the Chicago State Hospital, shows the poorly ventilated, narrow and congested hallways where some patients slept. (Chicago Daily News)
According to the family story, he says, “When the baby died, my great-grandmother rocked the baby for a couple of days, and wouldn’t let it out of her arms. And then she was placed in Dunning because they thought she was a little crazy. But we suspect it could have been a case of postpartum depression. … If she was having mental difficulties of any kind, I’m not sure that there were any other places available in those days for her to go.”
Hrdlicka was released from Dunning and then readmitted. She died there in 1918.

Steven Hill says he doesn’t know why his great-grandfather, John Ohlenbusch, was living at Dunning when he died in 1910. But the death certificate says he had dementia, so Hill suspects Ohlenbusch may have had what later became known as Alzheimer’s disease. Hill says his grandmother never discussed her father’s death at Dunning.

“People did not talk about the rough lifestyles they had and how poor they were,” Hill says. “But I do know they had a very, very tough life.”

Goodrich and Hill would like to find out more about what happened to their ancestors at Dunning, but documents are not easy to find. The Illinois State Archives in Springfield has Chicago State Hospital’s admission and discharge records from 1920 to 1951, but you need a court order to see them. Some early Cook County records, showing patients who were sent to Dunning between 1877 and 1887, are available for anyone to see in the state archives branch at Northeastern Illinois University.

Changing mental health treatments 
In the first half of the 20th century, Chicago State Hospital used several different treatments for mental illness. Hydrotherapy used hot or cold water to soothe people who were depressed or agitated. Fever treatments induced high temperatures to kill off bacteria in the brains of patients with syphilis.

Lobotomies were not performed at Chicago State Hospital, but Mehr says the hospital did send some of its patients elsewhere for the treatment, which cuts the brain’s frontal lobe. “That’s like shooting someone in the head with a shotgun,” he says.

For a time, some patients at Dunning and other Illinois hospitals were given electroshock therapy “once a day, every day for years, which is just an absolute abomination,” Mehr says. “That was a terrible thing to do.”

A new era of psychiatric treatment began in 1954, with the discovery Thorazine, the first in a new wave of drugs that directly affected the symptoms of mental illness.

Mehr, 71, worked for a year at Chicago State Hospital, during an internship from 1964 to 1965. He says the conditions he witnessed were vastly superior to the travesties of Dunning’s early history. “My impressions weren’t all that bad,” he says. And yet, he adds, “The problem … was that these state hospitals were overcrowded.”

Chicago State Hospital’s buildings closed after it merged in 1970 with the nearby Charles F. Read Zone Center, which had opened on the west side of Oak Park Avenue in 1965. Since 1970, it has been known as Chicago-Read Mental Health Center. Today, for better or worse, fewer people with mental illnesses stay for prolonged periods of time in hospitals.

Bodies discovered in 1989 
In the years after Chicago State Hospital closed, the state sold much of the property. Today, the land includes the Dunning Square shopping center, which is anchored by a Jewel store; the campus of Wright College; the Maryville Center for Children; and houses and condominiums.

State officials apparently didn’t realize that human bodies were buried underneath a section of the Dunning land when they sold it to Pontarelli Builders, which began work putting up houses. In 1989, a backhoe operator working on the project found a corpse. The state had recently passed a law requiring archaeological assessments before construction is allowed on any property where human remains have been found, so archaeologist David Keene was hired to examine the site. Keene was on the faculty at Loyola University at the time, and now he runs his own company, Archaeological Research.
“The area was just littered with human remains, with human bone all over the place, where they had disturbed things,” he says.

Keene has a vivid recollection of that corpse found by the backhoe. It appeared to be a Civil War veteran. Much of the body was still intact, probably because it had been embalmed with arsenic, a common treatment at the time, which would kill any organisms that would try to consume the flesh.

“He was cut in half at the waist by the backhoe,” Keene says. “His skin was in relatively good condition … I mean, you could see his face. But there was considerable deterioration on the face. You could see the mustache. You could see his hair. He had red hair, but it was patchy. The other distinguishing features of the face were no longer there. And he had a jacket on … it was obviously a military jacket. We only saw it briefly. We didn’t spend a lot of time with it — mostly because the odor was unbelievable, to say the least.”

Keene guided a careful excavation of the land around this gruesome discovery — stopping the digging whenever a coffin or human remains were revealed. He determined that a five-acre cemetery was hidden, just northwest of the current-day corner of Belle Plaine and Neenah avenues. As a result of Keene’s findings, that property was set aside as the Read-Dunning Memorial Park, which was dedicated in 2002. Construction was allowed on the land south of it.

This was just the second-oldest of three cemeteries on the Dunning grounds. The earliest cemetery was near the original poorhouse, just west of Naragansett Avenue and north of Belle Plaine. County officials had supposedly moved the bodies out of that cemetery into the second graveyard, but Keene says bodies did turn up there during another construction project. “We found a little over 30 individuals there, and we were able to remove them so (the developer) could build his building there,” Keene says.

And when Wright College was under construction on the former asylum grounds in the early 1990s, scattered human remains surfaced there, too, Keene says.

“A femur would pop up,” he says. “And it wasn’t associated with a grave of any sort. It was just mixed in with the soil from previous construction and removal of buildings in the past. In this area, you can walk into any one of these yards and dig in the flowerbeds and come up with human remains. They’re part of the scattered remains from construction activity that took place in the ’20s, ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. Every time they built a building, human remains would go flying.”

As Keene explains, state officials constructed hospital buildings between 1912 and the 1960s on this land without any regard to whether people had been buried there.

“The state came in and — as far as we can tell, from the archaeological evidence — removed any surface evidence of burials in the entire area,” Keene says. “They actually built right on top of graves.”

The third Dunning cemetery was located farther west — underneath what is now Oak Park Avenue near Chicago-Read Mental Health Center. While Keene was conducting his investigation in 1989, some workers walked over and told him they’d found human remains while they were working on a broken water main at Chicago-Read’s entrance.

“So we just walked over there,” Keene recalls. “And sure enough, there were human remains everywhere. And so we began doing some research there to figure out what the boundaries were.”

Keene says it’s obvious that someone must have known about the existence of those graves when the road was put on top of them. “It’s pretty clear,” he says. “When we were there — and this is just the plumbers trying to get to the leak — they were cutting right through coffins. So somebody had to cut through some of those coffins in order to put the original lines in.”

In 1989, genealogist B. Fleig studied the available records about Dunning and documented that more than 15,000 people had been buried in the graveyards there. But the records are incomplete, and Fleig extrapolated that the total is closer to 38,000.

Opitz says the county’s record keeping was slipshod. “So consequently, the number of cadavers or people that were buried here is somewhat nebulous,” he says.

The exact figure is unknown, but Keene says 38,000 is a reasonable estimate. For Keene, the lesson of the Dunning graveyards is that burial places are not as permanent as many people think they will be.

Neighborhood resident Silvija Klavins-Barshney, 50, says she was shocked when she found out about Dunning’s graveyards a couple of years ago. She serves as the vice president of the church board of the Latvian Lutheran Zion Church, which is located inside a building that was part of Chicago State Hospital.

The Illinois Department of Central Management Services owns and maintains the park.

“The more research I did, the more I felt that the story needs to get out,” she says, “because most of the people … who were buried here are people that were forgotten in life. They were just left. Or disposed of. Or hidden. And if that’s how they lived their lives, how dare we allow them to live their afterlife like that? How can 38,000 people be buried and then forgotten?”

by Robert Loerzel / WBEZ
Editing by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Views looking north, west and south from top of the 333 North Michigan Avenue building, Chicago. (1954)

333 North Michigan is an Art Deco skyscraper located in the Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois. It was constructed in 1927 on the site of Fort Dearbon. Architecturally, it is noted for its dramatic upper-level setbacks that were inspired by the 1923 skyscraper zoning laws. Geographically, it is known as one of the four 1920s flanks of the Michigan Avenue Bridge (along with the Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower and the London Guarantee Building) that are contributing properties to the Michigan–Wacker Historic District, which is a U.S. Registered Historic District.

It was designated a Chicago Landmark on February 7, 1997. The building is embellished by a polished marble base, ornamental bands, and reliefs depicting frontiersmen and Native Americans at Fort Dearborn, which partially occupied the site.

Albright Family Log House, Hubbard Woods, 1258 Scott Avenue, Winnetka, Illinois including Artist Ivan Albright's History.

The Albright family log house and studio was located in Hubbard Woods, 1258 Scott Avenue, Winnetka, Illinois. 
Albright Family Log House, 1910.
Albright Family Log House, 1910.
Albright Family Log House, 1910.
Artist Ivan Le Lorraine Albright, a painter who magnified decrepitude, whos canvases depict men and women overworn by the world. Their flesh is heavy and mottled; stubble sticks out on their chins or kneecaps. Their foreheads are furrowed and eyes encircled.

Albright combined his messages of decay and regret in several titles of his paintings, such as "The Farmer's Kitchen" and "Fleeting Time, Thou Hast Left Me Old."
"The Farmer's Kitchen" by Ivan Albright.
"Fleeting Time, Thou Hast Left Me Old" by Ivan Albright.
The darkness evident in his work seems incongruous with Albright’s background. Even within his family—his father and twin brother were artists—he stands apart.

Twins Ivan Le Lorraine and Malvin Marr were born in 1897 to Clara and Adam Emory Albright in North Harvey, Illinois. Their father, who specialized in impressionistic, sunny paintings of children, designed their log house in Hubbard Woods. The family moved into “Log Studio” in 1910. (The house was demolished in the late 1970s.)
Adam Emory Allbright Oil Painting.
The boys attended New Trier High School. In the 1915 yearbook their photographs are captioned, “The Albright Twins: Two heads are better than one.”

After two years of floundering in college, the twins enlisted in the Army during World War I. Ivan worked as a medical draftsman, documenting soldiers’ wounds.

After returning to the United States the twins enrolled at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. In 1923 Malvin received a degree in sculpture and Ivan one in drawing, painting, and illustration. They both studied for another year in Philadelphia and New York.

Back in Illinois Ivan’s art soon began to move in the direction that would distinguish him. He started to use non-professional models for his portraits. He entered hundreds of juried exhibitions and won numerous awards.

In 1943 Ivan received the commission that put him briefly into the national spotlight. He contracted with MGM to paint the Picture of Dorian Gray for the movie of the same name. Albright’s macabre rendering brought him great media publicity.

A bachelor until the age of 49, Albright married Josephine Medill Patterson Reeve, a newspaper heiress, in 1946. They had four children—two from her previous marriage and two of their own. The marriage ensured Albright’s financial stability. He continued to paint and travel extensively throughout his life. He made a final etching, a self-portrait, just a few days before his death in 1983 at his home in Woodstock, Vermont.

From February to May of this year, The Art Institute of Chicago sponsored an Ivan Albright exhibition. The retrospective displayed more than 120 of his works. It reinforced the opinion that Albright sought not to beautify but to communicate the ravages of life on body and spirit.

NOTE: Ivan Albright was the father-in-law of former U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright.

By Barbara Joyce
Editing by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Illinois Central (IC) Railroad Station [Springfield Union Station] in Springfield, Illinois History.

Springfield Union Station at 5th & Madison was designed in the Richardson Romanesque style in 1896 as a combined passenger terminal for several railroads serving Springfield, including the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Chicago, Peoria and St. Louis Railroad, Illinois Central Railroad, and the St. Louis, Peoria and Northern Railway.
Illinois Central (IC) Railroad Station [Springfield Union Station], 500 East Madison Street, Springfield, Illinois. (1901)
Although the structure was intended to be used jointly by these railroads, the Illinois Central was the predominant carrier. The architect was Illinois Central chief architect Francis T. Bacon. The station was built in 1897-1898 at a cost of $75,000, and opened for business on January 2, 1898. During its 73 years of active service, the station carried substantial passenger train traffic to and from Chicago, St. Louis, and other cities.

After passenger train service ended, Union Station housed several private businesses before being used for Illinois state offices until September, 2004.
Springfield Union Station is now part of the complex of buildings that together form the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The building was extensively restored as the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library visitor center, which reopened in March 2007. As part of the $12.5 million restoration project, the clock tower was rebuilt, substantially returning the station to its pre-1936 appearance.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Kolze's Electric Park, Chicago, Illinois

Kolze’s Electric Park was located along the south side of Irving Park Boulevard just east of Northwest 64th Street (now Narragansett Avenue) in the sparsely developed Dunning neighborhood of Chicago.
Looking east on Irving Park Boulevard at 64th Street (now Narragansett) in the Dunning neighborhood of Chicago. (circa 1905). The structure with the arches was the entrance to Kolze's Electric Park which dates back to 1896, when hotel, restaurant and tavern (seen in foreground) owner Henry James Kolze decided to create an attraction for riders of newly-reaching streetcar lines. Purchasing wooded land near his inn, Kolze strung large gas lamps to offer a nightly orchestra. It was one of the first parks in Chicago to be illuminated by electric lighting.
Newspaper Advertisement from Sept. 10, 1904
It was operated by Henry James Kolze, who owned a two-story roadside Inn, Restaurant and Tavern on the site to serve visitors to nearby cemeteries and the Cook County Mental Hospital. The extension of streetcar service to the area in 1896 boosted traffic along Irving Park Boulevard and enhanced the commercial possibilities of the site.

Kolze responded by developing a picnic grove in the wooded area behind his restaurant. By 1905, the park featured a dancing pavilion, a shooting gallery, various concession stands, and bright night-time illumination, hence the name "Electric Park." 
Attendance at the park steadily increased during the 1910s and 1920s, leading Kolze to undertake additional expansion of the park. 
Grand  Picnic Newspaper Advertisement from 1918.
By 1924, several new booths and refreshment stands had been added. Records also indicate that Kolze acquired additional property to the south of the original park, pushing its southern boundary to present Byron Avenue. The picnic grove remained in operation until the late 1940s. 

In 1950, the Chicago Park District acquired the property and announced plans to convert the picnic grove into a public park. In subsequent years, the park district demolished 19 of 20 buildings on the site, the only one left standing was the original clapboard tavern as the park's new field house until a new brick facility was erected in 1969. These structure were replaced with athletic fields, tennis courts, and a children’s playground. The new park became known as Merrimac Park.

ONE MILLION READERS - from 11/6/2016 to 10/17/2017 (345 days)

Knights Templar Conclave arch built over Michigan Avenue, Chicago. 1910

The arch and columns were erected to commemorate the 1910 Knights Templar Conclave.
The arch built over Michigan Avenue between 9th and 11th Streets, in Chicago (1910).
Note Grant Park’s Logan Monument in the lower right corner. 
Looking north on State from Van Buren, Chicago (1910).

Monday, October 16, 2017

Looking north on Wabash Avenue from Congress Parkway, Chicago. (1889)

Looking north on Wabash Avenue from Congress Parkway, Chicago. (1889). The Auditorium Building had only been completed one year before. The "L" would be added in 1896.  [Colorized Photograph]

The First Air Conditioned Theater in the U.S. was the Central Park Theater in Chicago.

The Central Park Theater opened in October of 1917 at 3535 W. Roosevelt Road in Chicago changing the movie going experience in America forever.
A.J. Balaban and Barney Balaban along with business partner Sam Katz had big plans to present movies in a magnificence theater, which gave birth to an architectural genre, the “movie palace.”

Central Park Theater was the very first air conditioned movie house in the country. There were seats for 1758 people. B&K pioneering efforts were truly ground breaking. Named for the cross street, the Central Park Theater was the beginning of B&K’s long reign in providing the public with a retreat from the hot, humid days that Chicago is notoriously known for during the summer.

In the beginning, the air conditioning was provided by huge blocks of ice that would be delivered in the early morning hours. Fans would blow the cool, moist air into the theater auditorium. While crude by today’s standards, this feature was a major draw for people looking to escape the heat if even for just a few hours.

Doctors often prescribed a day or two at the theater for those who were suffering from a long list of ailments including heat exhaustion. Nurses were on staff at the larger B&K theaters to address any medical emergencies.

These long gone movie palaces would open around noon and stay open until 11pm. For most people, this was their social activity for the week and one way to escape the heat.

The Theater closed in 1970. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

B&K’s theaters were designed by George & Cornelius Rapp. The brothers went on to design theaters around the country and Canada.

Chicago Balaban & Katz built theaters included: Oriental Theater, Central Park Theatre, Chicago Theatre, Nortown Theater, Gateway Theatre, Riviera Theatre, Tivoli Theater, Norshore Theater, Regal Theater, Southtown Theater, Paradise Theater, Senate Theater, Harding Theater, Gateway Theater, Maryland Theater, and Uptown Theatre.

NOTE: These are the Chicago movie theaters that Balaban & Katz purchased; United Artist; Roosevelt; Tower; Varsity (Evanston); Pantheon; Granada; Marbro; Riviera; Covent; Congress; Belmont; Century; Alamo; Belpark; Berwyn; Biltmore; Crystal; LaGrange; Manor; State; and the Alba.