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ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES


The Illinois and Michigan Canal, 1827–1911

A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives


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DOCUMENT 37
LETTER FROM STAR FOOT TO WILLIAM GOODING CONCERNING HIS RESIGNATION AS CANAL INSPECTOR
April 8, 1850




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Explanation

William Gooding had been the canal's chief engineer for twelve years when he was sacked by Governor Ford for charged incompetence in March of 1848. This blow came within a month of the passage of the first boats through the canal. But when Robert Stuart, the trustees' secretary, died in October of that year, Gooding was hired back to fill the secretary's position. The bondholders' two trustees put more faith in the man than the governor did.

Star Foot had arrived in Chicago in 1833. He was an early manager of the first Tremont Hotel which stood at the northwest corner of Lake and Dearborn Streets. In its earliest incarnation the Tremont was a combination saloon and boarding house. Due to increased traffic the dual position of collector of tolls and inspector of canal boats at Chicago was separated into two jobs on May 16, 1849. John H. Kinzie remained as collector (see document 36) and Star Foot became inspector. The inspector basically was the collector's assistant. After Foot resigned Frederick Doyle on May 18, 1850 was appointed to replace him. Sometime thereafter Samuel H. Macy became the inspector. Macy in turn resigned on October 1, 1851. Star Foot had returned to Chicago by this time and he was chosen to replace Macy.

Star Foot along with Henry Norton and Alfred P. Wurts, all well-known Chicago residents, had traveled together to California by a water route. From Chicago they took a steamer across the Great Lakes to Buffalo and from there they passed along the Erie Canal to Albany where they transferred to a steamer packet for the trip down the Hudson River to New York City. From New York they boarded a larger vessel which took them all the way down to the Isthmus of Panama. There they crossed by land to the Pacific Ocean where they boarded yet another ship which brought them up to San Francisco. The entire trip could take less than a month. Gone less than a year and a half, Star Foot saw a good deal of the world but obviously was unsuccessful in his quest for gold. See also document 38

Points to Consider

Which two things was Star Foot doing with this document?
Why was William Gooding the secretary of the I and M in 1850 (see document 12, document 13, document 17, document 20, document 21, document 22, and document 24)?
Why would Mr. Foot have traveled all the way to California in 1850?
How would he have gotten there?


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