In the year 1830 the town of Chicago was laid out into lots by Commissioners appointed by the State. At this time the prices of these lots ranged from ten to sixty dollars.
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Mr. Kinzie, who, from the geographical position of this place, and the vast fertility of the surrounding country, had always foretold its eventual prosperity and importance, was not permitted to witness the realization of his predictions. He closed his useful and energetic life on the 6th of January, 1828, having just completed his sixty-fifth year.
Chicago was not, at the period of my first visit, the cheerful, happy place it had once been. The death of Dr. Wolcott, of Lieutenant Furman, and of a promising young son of Mr. Beaubien, all within a few weeks of each other, had thrown a gloom over the different branches of the social circle.
The weather, too, was inclement and stormy beyond anything that had been known before. Only twice, during a period of two months, did the sun shine out through the entire day. So late as the second week in April, when my husband had left to return to Fort Winnebago, the storms were so severe that he and his men were obliged to lie by two or three days in an Indian lodge.
Robert Kinzie, Medard Beaubien, and Billy Caldwell had gone at the same time to the Calumet to hunt, and, as they did not make their appearance for many days, we were persuaded they had perished with cold. They returned at length, however, to our infinite joy, having only escaped freezing by the forethought of Robert and Caldwell in carrying each two blankets instead of one.
Our only recreation was an occasional ride on horseback, when the weather would permit, through the woods on the north side of the river, or across the prairie, along the lake shore on the south.
When we went in the former direction, a little bridle-path took us along what is now Rush Street. The thick boughs of the trees arched over our heads, and we were often compelled, as we rode, to break away the projecting branches of the shrubs which impeded our path. The little prairie west of Wright’s Woods was the usual termination of our ride in this direction.
When we chose the path across the prairie towards the south, we generally passed a new-comer, Dr. Harmon, superintending the construction of a sod fence, at a spot he had chosen, near the shore of the lake. In this inclosure he occupied himself, as the season advanced, in planting fruit-stones of all descriptions, to make ready a garden and orchard for future enjoyment.
We usually stopped to have a little chat. The two favorite themes of the Doctor were horticulture, and the certain future importance of Chicago. That it was destined to be a great city, was his unalterable conviction; and in deed, by this time, all forest and prairie as it was, we half began to believe it ourselves.