ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES
The Illinois and Michigan Canal, 1827–1911
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
CANAL LAND SALE CERTIFICATES, CHICAGO
September 27, 1830
The second public sale of canal lands took place in Chicago over September 27-29, 1830 (see document 2 and document 3). In all 132 Chicago town lots were sold to thirty-six purchasers. The average lot measured eighty feet across and 150 feet deep and sold for $34.00. Of the canal commissioners Charles Dunn and Edmund Roberts each purchased a Chicago lot.
Mark Beaubien had been born in Detroit in 1800. He moved his young family in 1826 to Chicago where his brother had resided since 1812. After the town was surveyed and platted in 1829, canal lands were sold at public auction the following year. Mark Beaubien bought the southeast corner of Lake and Market (now West Wacker) Streets and subsequently erected a two story framed dwelling known as the "Sauganash," a combination family residence, tavern, and hotel. Beaubien was a renowned fiddle player and much of Chicago's early social scene was centered at his place. Beaubien lived a robust life until his death in 1881 at his daughter's home in Kankakee. At this writing lots 3 and 4 in block 31 are covered by a ground level parking lot.
Alexander Wolcott had been born in East Windsor, Connecticut in 1790. After graduating from Yale in 1809 he traveled to the West where he became adept in local Indian languages. He secured an appointment as the U.S. Indian agent at Chicago in 1820. The agency house was located in what is now the block just north of the Chicago River and bounded by Dearborn, Kinzie, and State Streets. Wolcott died in the fall of 1830 shortly after making this land purchase. Today block one is dominated by the Marina City Towers complex.
To locate Chicago lots and blocks, see Exhibit B.
Points to Consider
Locate the Chicago town lots specified in these two documents.
Why was what is now downtown Chicago being sold off as canal lands in 1830?
Who were Mark Beaubien and Alexander Wolcott?
Describe Chicago as it was on September 27, 1830.