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HE history of the region, now known in general terms as the North Shore, properly begins with that of the aborigines who occupied the country in the remote period before the occupation of the whites. Mr. Frank R. Grover has made an exhaustive study of the subject, and in 1901 read a paper before the Evanston Historical Society with the title of “Our Indian Predecessors-The First Evanstonians." Some paragraphs from this paper are quoted below. "Every political division of this country, from state to hamlet,” he says, "has a mine of untold facts, which must ever remain undisclosed. Still, the diligent and the curious can, with all due regard to the limitations to truth put upon the honest historian, gather old facts that will in the aggregate be of interest as local history; and with that end in view I wish to tell you what I have been able to learn of our Indian predecessors-the first Evanstonians."

"All the Indians," he continues, "who have held and occupied this part of Illinois as their homes, as far back as history tells us or that can be ascertained during the past four hundred years, were of the Algonquin family; and while scattering bands of the Sacs and Foxes, Miamis, Ottawas, and other Algonquin tribes, and also the Kickapoos and Winnebagoes have at times roamed over, and perhaps for very brief periods in roving bands occupied, the lands lying along the western shores of Lake Michigan in this locality, the Indian ownership, as indicated by extended occupancy, was confined almost, if not entirely, to the tribes of the Illinois and the Pottawatomies."

"It must be borne in mind that Chicago was as important a point to the Indian as it has since been to the white man, partly on account of the portage leading to the Desplaines river; and, as the lake was the great water highway, so also was its western shore an important highway for these Indian tribes when they traveled by land."



The first white men to see this region of country, of whom we have any record, were those in the party of Joliet and Marquette. That party passed by these shores on their northward journey in September, 1673. It will be remembered that Joliet and Marquette had a few weeks before discovered the Upper Mississippi, which they had reached by way of the Wisconsin rivers, and were now making their way back to their starting point at Green Bay through the Illinois, Desplaines and Chicago rivers, and thus into Lake Michigan.

The following year Marquette returned to the Illinois country in fulfillment of a promise he had made to the Illinois Indians that he would visit them again. Marquette was accompanied on this journey by two Frenchmen, a band of Pottawattomies and another band of Illinois, ten canoes in all. This imposing flotilla reached the Chicago River on the 4th of December, 1674. Of special interest to us in this connection, however, is the entry made in Marquette's journal of the day previous, which is as follows: "December 3d, After saying holy mass, we embarked and were compelled to make for a point, so that we could land, on account of floating masses of ice."

Mr. Grover, in his address above referred to, identified the "Point" mentioned in the journal with Gross Point, the present situation of the lighthouse. The journal says that the party reached the “river of the Portage," that is, the Chicago River, on the 4th, and, the distance being about thirteen miles, this stage of the journey would naturally be made in the course of the next day. A glance at a map, showing the shore line of this portion of the coast, will satisfy any one that Marquette was, without doubt, the first white man to set foot on the site of Evanston.


In the year 1696, Father Pierre Francois Pinet, a Jesuit missionary priest, established the "Mission of the Guardian Angel" at a point on the western shore of Lake Michigan, which Mr. Grover has proved to have been located on an inland lake on the site of the swampy tract now known as the "Skokie," some two miles west of the present village of Wilmette. This lake has disappeared in the intervening lapse of years. In St. Cosme's account, given by Shea in his work "Early Mississippi Voyages," this intrepid traveler and missionary says that he and his party, having followed the western shore of Lake Michigan from Green Bay to a point still five leagues distant from the Chicago River, to which they were bound, could proceed no farther. It was late in October, and the weather having become stormy the party disembarked at about the same point, apparently, that Marquette had done many years before. This voyage of St. Cosme's was made two years after the establishment of Father Pinet's mission in 1696.

"We had considerable difficulty in getting ashore," writes St. Cosme, "and saving our canoes. We had to throw everything into the water. This is a thing which you must take good care of along the lakes, and especially on Lake Michigan, the shores of which are very flat,-to land soon when the water swells from the lake, for the breakers get so large in a short time that the canoes are in risk of going to pieces and losing all on board; several travelers have already been wrecked there. We went by land to the house of the Reverend

Jesuit Fathers, our people staying with the baggage. We found there Rev. Father Pinet and Rev. Father Buinateau. I cannot explain to you, Monseigneur, [this account is contained in a letter to the Bishop of Quebec] with what cordiality and marks of esteem these reverend Jesuit Fathers received and caressed us during the time that we had the consolation of staying with them.

"Their house is built on the banks of a small lake, having the lake on one side and a fine large prairie on the other. The Indian village is of over one hundred and fifty cabins, and one league on the river there is another village almost as large. They are both of the Miamis. Father Pinet makes it his ordinary residence except in winter, when the Indians all go hunting. We saw no Indians there, they had already started for their hunt."

The "Mission of the Guardian Angel" is thus determined to have been located on the "Skokie," somewhat north and west of the present city limits of Evanston, within a few hundred yards of the Catholic church of the present village of Gross Point. It is on a spot as nearly as may be determined by these evidences that Mr. Grover has proposed that a tablet shall be erected, to commemorate the historical interest of the locality. The Mission of the Guardian Angel was abandoned a year or two after St. Cosme's visit owing to the opposition of the Canadian authorities. No trace of the mission is in existence at the present day.


"The primeval beauty of that ancient forest that stood on the western shore of Lake Michigan immediately north of Chicago, and covering the ground that now constitutes the northern portion of the city of Evanston and the village of Wilmette, has passed away. Many of its towering elms and great oaks that have stood for centuries of time remain to indicate in some measure what was the real beauty of that forest in the days when this Illinois country was unknown to white men."

Thus writes Mr. Frank R. Grover, to whom we are indebted for the material gathered by him in the course of his researches on the subject with which we are here concerned. "The Quilmette Reservation and its former occupants and owners," says Grover, "have been the subject of much solicitude and investigation, not entirely for historical purposes, but more especially that the white man might know that he had a good white man's title to the Indian's land."

"The Reservation takes its name from its original owner, Archange Ouilmette, wife of Antoine Ouilmette, described in the original Treaty and Patent from the United States, as a Pottawattomie woman. The name given the village-Wilmette-originates from Antoine himself and from the phonetic spelling of the French name 'Ouilmette,' and is said upon good authority to have been first suggested as the name of the village by Judge Henry W. Blodgett, late of Waukegan, who was interested in the very early real estate transactions of the village."

Of Ouilmette, Grover says, "This striking figure in our local history, and in the very early history of Chicago, is sadly neglected in most, if not all, the historical writings. Almost every one in this locality knows that the Village of Wilmette was named after him; many misinformed people speak of Ouilmette as an Indian chief; a few of the writers merely mention his name as one of the early

settlers of Chicago, and that has been the beginning and end of his written history."

Antoine Quilmette was at one time in the service of the American Fur Company, and afterwards in that of John Kinzie at Chicago, and, at different times, Indian trader, hunter, and farmer. He married the Pottawattomie woman, Archange, about 1797, as it appears, at Gross Point, where he had found a temporary domicile among his Indian friends; although he did not permanently settle there until about the year 1829, as we shall presently see. Quilmette had a family of eight children. The treaty of Prairie du Chien, dated July 29, 1829, included a grant among its other provisions, "to Archange Ouilmette, a Pottawattomie woman, wife of Antoine Ouilmette, two sections [of land] for herself and her children, on Lake Michigan, south of and adjoining the northern boundary of the cession herein made by the Indians aforesaid to the United States. The tracts of land herein stipulated to be granted shall never be leased or conveyed by the grantees, or their heirs, to any person whatever, without the permission of the President of the United States." Such permission was obtained in later years, and all the lands of the "Reservation" have passed into the hands of other grantees.

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The tract known as the "Wilmette Reservation" extended from a point a little south of Kenilworth (using names familiar to us at the present day) to Central street, in the city of Evanston, with the lake as its eastern boundary, and extending westward some distance beyond the Chicago & North-Western railway. Thus some three hundred acres of the Reservation are within the present limits of the city of Evanston, and the remainder within those of Wilmette village.

When Ouilmette came to take up his permanent residence on the Reservation, he built a substantial log cabin "on the high bluffs on the lake shore, opposite, or a little north of Lake avenue, in the present village of Wilmette." The site on which this cabin stood has long since been washed away, owing to the encroachments of the lake along that shore, though the cabin itself had already been torn down and its material scattered. A view of the cabin has been drawn by Mr. Charles P. Westerfield from his recollection of its appearance, and is printed as a frontispiece in Mr. Grover's pamphlet, entitled "Antoine Ouilmette," from which we have so freely quoted.


Proper acknowledgment should here be made of Mr. Grover's service to the cause of local history, especially that part of it which has to do with the aboriginal occupation, and down to and inclusive of Ouilmette's appearance upon the scene. Mr. Grover's researches have been thorough, and he has established the history of the region on a firm and lasting foundation. Referring to the visits of Fathers Marquette and St. Cosme, the records had indeed shown the details from the time of the ancient writings in the "Jesuit Relations" and elsewhere, but it remained for Grover to point out, in this day of the growing importance of North Shore history, the special interest which these episodes possessed to the historians of the present day.


When the Black Hawk war closed, in 1832, the region lying north of Chicago was an unbroken forest. For the purposes of the settlers, who soon after began to arrive at Chicago in great numbers, the region which we call the North Shore was not as attractive as the open prairie country to the west and south. It is well to remember that the southern portion of the State of Illinois was settled long before the northern portion was. The accessibility of the southern portion of the state to the river systems of the Ohio and Mississippi rendered it easy for the earlier settlers to come from the East by way of those rivers and take up lands near their banks. Gradually the settlements extended inland, and when Illinois was admitted as a state in 1818, with a population of fifty thousand, there were yet scarcely any settlements in the northern portion, which still remained practically in the same condition as it was known to the explorers.


A brief review of conditions at Chicago at this time will enable the reader to form a better idea of that portion of its history we are to outline in these paragraphs.

At the time of the Black Hawk war in 1832 the entrance to the Chicago River had become a convenient landing place for vessels on the lakes, though it was as yet an open roadstead. It was not until some years later that the government dredged out the channel so as to permit larger vessels to enter the river. Steamers, however, had begun to ply the lakes at this period, and a few years later, in 1839, a regular line of steamers was established connecting Buffalo and Chicago. The year 1832, in which the Black Hawk war occurred, was an epoch in the history of Chicago and the regions surrounding it because of the great influx of troops and supplies at this point, under the direction of the government, thus establishing a route which was followed by settlers afterwards when seeking entrance to the fertile prairie lands and woodlands of this portion of the state of Illinois, and the territory of Wisconsin to the north. The war itself was little more than a series of skirmishes with the Indians who were finally driven across the Mississippi, and they troubled the country no more. The accounts of the war caused an immense sensation everywhere throughout the country, and after its conclusion very important consequences followed. The attention of the country was called to the advantages in the soil and climate possessed by Illinois. The officers and men of the army, on their return from the campaign throughout the northern portion of Illinois and Wisconsin, brought home with them wonderful accounts of the country, and settlers began to arrive in a constantly increasing stream which soon became a tide.


An active movement of settlers began from the eastern states, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York state and from farther east. Thus there was an entirely different class of settlers arriving in this region from that which had moved into the southern portion of the state, the latter of whom came largely from Kentucky

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