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ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES


Early Chicago, 1833–1871

A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives


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DOCUMENT 21
COMMUNICATION REGARDING MR. KEITH'S HOG PEN
July 25, 1851




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Explanation

The following communication, dated July 11, 1841, was found in the same file as was the reproduced document:

To His Honor the Mayor and the Council of the
  City of Chicago – It is respectfully represented–

That the neighbourhood of the ninth ward-especially
near the South East corner of it, has for years been
annoyed and injured by the most annoying and disgusting
effluence arising from feeding of pigs, etc. at the
distillery, etc., that when the wind is easterly the
stench is so intolerable that the windows have to be
shut down however warm and that when the air is
calm the same noxious impurities are generating
and permeating the surrounding atmosphere making
it a hotbed of disease–
  That from an abstract of the sanatory report of
Great Britain just published, (and amply confirmed every
where) it is found–
  1. That the mortality varies in different districts
from 1 in 27 to 1 in 65 yearly of the population
  2. That every where we can trace the forms of
disease caused by atmospheric impurities - damp
and filth, etc., just as surely as such conditions prevail
  3. That the frequency and intensity of such diseases as
cholera fever, etc., can be abated, by means of drain-
age proper cleansing and diminishing atmospheric im-
purity- etc., where the removal of the noxious agencies
appears to be complete - such diseases almost entirely
disappear.
  That the neighbourhood for years has been
annoyed and injured and always some new dodge
proposed to make the stench less unpleasant - or the
fine imposed has been paid - but for all these the
stench is just as bad as before, the district
which, from its dry sandy soil, ought to be the
healthiest, has been early affected with cholera.
  We therefore beg to call your particular at-
tention to this matter-that the nuisance may
be abated, and the saturated locality purified,
and any further experiments how to keep swine
without filth stench tried elsewhere - as fines
do not remove the stench and nothing short of
abating the cause can cure the consequences.
                    July 11, 1841
(signed by sixteen petitioners)

Points to Consider

Can you trace the path of the hog dung in relation to the city's drinking water?

What were the duties of a health officer?

What was the central problem presented by this document?

Which kinds of zoning laws did Chicago have at this time?

See Related Document: 12, 14, 15, 17, 30, 31, 32, and 41


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