1876 Kankakee City Directory - pages 96 to 100
ILGenWeb Project

1876 Kankakee City Directory
pages 96 to 100

Kankakee County, Illinois
Return to the web table of contents for 1876 Kankakee City Directory
back to pages 91 to 95 forward to pages 101 to 105


and Bacon's Addition, lying west of the Central railroad. In 1855 Edward Chappel laid off that part of the city known as South Kankakee, lying on the south side of the river. In the same year Samuel M. Ayers and L. Boyd laid off the South addition to Kankakee. Knight's Addition, also lying south of the river, was laid off by Solon Knight. The largest addition was laid off by Ketchum and Gray, and was and still is called the Associate's Addition. It lies mostly east and north of the Court House. Vanmeter and True's Addition, laid off in 1854 lies east of the Associate's Addition. The name of the original town, Bourbonnais, was changed by an act of the Legislature, February 15th. 1855, to Kankakee City, and several years subsequently, to that of the City of Kankakee, by which title it has ever since been designated.

In 1858 Ketchum and Gray surveyed and platted the beautiful cemetery lying north of the city. These same liberal and enterprising gentlemen also donated theCourt House block to the county, and gave $5,000 in cash towards building (sic) the Court House. They also built, at their own expense, the arched bridge over the Central railroad on Court street, so long called the "railroad bridge." Its cost was $6,000.

The city of Kankakee has an area of a little more than two miles square. The city was incorporated in February, 1855, and on the second Tuesday of April ensuing the first election of city officers was held, resulting as follows: C.R. Starr, Pres., Hiram Whittemore and Clark R. Strong, Trustees of the first ward, and Samuel L. Knight and Cyrus B. Ingraham, Trustees of the second ward. (At the bottom of this page in personal handwriting is an arrow pointing to C.R. Starr, Pres., it states: information incorrect - Thomas Bonfield was the first city president.)


During the session of the Illinois Legislature, in the winter of 1850 and '51, the charter of the I.C.R.R. was granted; in the summer of 1851 the road was located; July, 1853, the first freight was received here, being a consignment of lumber to Mr. Solin Knight; and in the summer and fall of the latter year that Railroad company erected their freight house and passenger depot. In September, 1853, Mr. Samuel L. Knight was appointed by President Peirce the first postmaster for the city, but the same of the post-office was called Clarksville. Elder James Gay in 1848, A.M. Wylie in 1849, and Edward Chappel in 1850, were the first settlers that occupied territory within the present city limits. Chas. R. Starr in July, 1853, and Hon. Ara Bartlett in September of the same year, were the first regularly settled attorneys in Kankakee. The first store erected here was the Clark & Robert's store, on Court street, south side, on the site now occupied by the new Pallissard building. It was built in the summer of 1853. Mr. A. B. True, in the fall of 1852, had the credit of erecting the first dwelling house. During the building of the court house, in 1854, Mr. True's house was converted into a public stopping-place, and was called the "Half-Mile House," being so named on account of its supposed distance from the court house site.The first term of the Kankakee county circuit court was held in the upper rooms of the (then) Central freight house, in Nov., 1853, Judge Henderson, of Joliet, presiding. The second term of this court was held in the stone part of the old Vanmeter Hotel, near Entrance avenue, Judge Randall, of Jol-


iet, presiding. After this the new court house, built at a cost of $27, 000, was occupied by court and county officers. It has been asserted by some that Dr. J. M. Mack was the first physician -- we know he was a very early settler -- but it is quite possible that they forget that Dr. C.W. Knott was practicing in this region as early as 1846, who, although he resided at Bourbonnais, gave a large share of medical attention to his patients in Kankakee, when a "Kankakee" came to exist.

Speaking of Dr. Knott, we are reminded of the times, as described by him to us many years ago, when the cholera visited this portion of Illinois. The Doctor saysit made its appearance at Bourbonnais in June, 1851. a party of 20 or 30 French immigrants from Canada came to Bourbonnais on the 1st. bringing with them the body of a child that had died of cholera the day before, at Joliet. The next morning, one of the number was stricken down by the terrible scourge. The weather being very warm, these immigrants lodged in Mr. Vasseur's barn, By 11 o'clock the same day, eight or ten more were taken, and before 10 o'clock that night fifteen of the number had been seized, and all died. The panic created was such, that when a member of a family was stricken down, the rest fled and left thehelpless victim to perish alone. Travelers passing to and fro, between Joliet and the Wabash valley, went 20 or 30 miles out of their direct course to avoid the cholera district of Bourbonnais. The cholera was more or lest prevalent in this region for three years, and the Doctor affirms that he was nearly all that time the only physician attending cholera patients.


When the city was planned and its prompt building up was projected, a lively hunt was made for proper materials, but some time elaped (sic) before it was found that a great wealth of excellent buildingstone lay buried in the ground all around and underneath the coming city. At the time the Illinois Central Railroad was built through this place, nothing was known of the exhaustless beds of stone underlying the surface of the earth in this immediate locality. The stone for the railroad piers at the river crossing, for culverts and bridges up and down the road, for the Court steet (sic) bridge, and even for the railroad culvert over Soldier Creek, was quarried down the river some five or six miles, in the town of Limestone, and was obtained at much trouble and expense; while stone of a superior quality, infinte (sic) in quantity, and as good as any in the State existed but a few feet below the surface of the earth, even in the very locality of the Soldier Creek culvert. The first lumber yard was opened up by Mr. Solom Knight in July, 1853; and in June, 1856, Messrs. Knight & Co. were the first to open the stone and lime business, on land in the northwestern part of the city, west of the Central track, and situated on both sides of Soldier Creek. They forthwith began to furnish the long-wished-for supplies, the ancient earth was delved into foot by foot, and the solid rock exhumed form its dark hiding-place, soon to swell in the fine proportions of stately edifices. In August, 1856, the company built a large lime kiln of C.D. Page's celebrated patent, which would burn 100 bushels per day. Since other and better ones have been constructed, with a capacity for burning 60,000 bushels per year, if required. The annual shipments of stone and lime from the quarries average form 800


to 1,000 car loads, besides supplying a heavy home demand. There is also burnt and sold 40, 000 bushels of lime per year. The business requires the constant employment of 20 or 30 workmen, whose yearly wages average from $15,000 to $18,000. The stone is a fine-grained, compact limestone, and is capable of fine finish and elaboration under the hammer and chisel. Suffice it to say, no better stone can be found in the State for all purposes.

On the 20th of June, 1854, John P.& E. P. Gamble located in Kankakee, and commenced blacksmithing and wagon making. They built the stone shops on Soldier Creek, on the road leading to Bourbonnais. Soon after, MR. Drake became associated with them in business, under the name and style of J.P. Gamble & Co. Sept. 22d, 1854 e. P. Gamble died. The first plow made in Kankakee was in March, 1855, and the first wagon was made in April following. In April 1856 the first carriage and buggy were made by the firm of Gamble & French. The first church building erected was in 1854, by the Presbyterians, on the north side of Court street, between Dearborn and Indiana avenues. The Rev. Wm. B. Mack, father of Col. A.W. Mack, both deceased, was the first settle pastor of this church. A careful account of newspaper journalism in Kankakee may not be out of place in a sketch of this kind, which is intended more as a historical statement than merely a literary production. The Kankakee Gazette, being the first newspaper published here, is entitled to the first recognition. It was established about the 1st of August, 1853, by Augustine Chester,

Transcribed by Andrea Spenard

Return to the web table of contents for 1876 Kankakee City Directory
back to pages 91 to 95 forward to pages 101 to 105