podcast

Episode 8 : The First Settler

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines settler as, “a person who goes to live in a new place where usually there are few or no people”. Native Americans have lived in the greater Chicago area for approximately 10,000 years dating back to the last ice age. Dependent on long lost oral histories we have no clear records of the future city’s earliest peoples, though archeological efforts and early French documents seem to indicate no native villages existed within today’s Chicago city limits. There have been significant native villages in the suburbs surrounding Chicago, but no evidence of native settlement on the Chicago River has ever come to light.

The last seven episodes of the Windy City Historians Podcast has attempted to relate the first hundred plus years of Chicago’s earliest recorded history from the first westerners to pass through the area; be it Nicolet somewhere between 1628 and 1634 or Jolliet and Marquette in 1673. We now unveil this story of Chicago’s very first settler connecting us to the permanent and continuous settlement of the City of Chicago.

This man, a man of color, and his family has long been swept under the rug while the trader and opportunist John Kinzie was held up as the town’s founder, a man we can best describe as Chicago’s first scoundrel. We hope you will enjoy this in depth conversation with historians John Swenson and professor Courtney Pierre Joseph Ph.D. relating the life, times, and impact the very first settler made on the site and city that would follow in his footsteps. This is the story of the trader, gentleman farmer, and Chicago’s founder — Jean Baptiste Point de Sable. Mr. Point de Sable, and yes, that is the proper French spelling of his full surname, is a fascinating character we hope you will enjoy learning about as much as we have.

Links to Research and History Documents

Episode 7: Jolliet & Marquette by Reenactment

Perhaps nothing in Chicago history is as fundamental as Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette’s expedition of 1673. Their voyage by canoe from St. Anglace down Lake Michigan to the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers and the mighty Mississippi was of epic scale. On the way back north they paddled up the Illinois River passing through the place the Indians called “Chicagoua.” If the City of Chicago had a Mount Rushmore, Jolliet and Marquette would be on it. For Father Marquette the trip was to evangelize the Native Americans, while Jolliet’s focus was exploration, potential trade, as was the first to suggest a short canal to connect the waterway between Lake Michigan and the Illinois River.

With the tricentennial of this historic feat approaching it appeared nothing was planned to commemorate it. For Ralph Frese, Chicago’s “Mr. Canoe” this was unconscionable. So he set out the idea of reenacting the Jolliet & Marquette Expedition, picked the crew to paddle it, and built the canoes, while remaining entirely behind the scenes to receive little or no credit.

For this podcast, Chris and Patrick were thrilled to sit down with three key crew members of this 1973 re-enactment, Chuck McEnery and brothers Ken & Reid Lewis. Listen as this lively discussion unfolds commemorating the early origins of Chicago history. Filled with laughter and travails they persevered to set the stage for later historical reenactments, like the La Salle II expedition of 1976-77 recounted in Episodes 4 & 5. The re-telling 46-years later still feels fresh as the splash of paddles and songs of the Voyageurs wash across the waters of time.

Links to Research and History Documents

Episode 3: Urbs in Horto?

Released Friday, May 31, 2019 – What’s in a name? “Urbs in Horto” or as translated from Latin “City in the Garden” is the motto on the seal of the City of Chicago, which nicely ties together the third interview with historian and retired attorney John Swenson. Swenson presents the final and most amazing piece of early Chicago history revealing the details of this ancient place called Chicagoua and the platform mound two-leagues from the Chicagoua Portage, the area’s earliest known civic and cultural center some 40 miles from today’s downtown Chicago!

We visit the mound, twice, and interview Adler Planetarium Astronomer Mark Hammergren regarding the astronomical significance of the mound, and learn some fascinating insights into Chicago’s ancient culture and peoples. This brand-new history and discovery grew out of Swenson’s passion for horticulture, history, and etymology. His initial dig into Chicago’s origin story and the wild allium the city was named for has grown into an entirely new landscape for Chicago history, the City in the Garden and hence the name of our third Episode: “Urbs in Horto?”

PREVIEW OF EPISODE 3: Urbs in Horto?

Episode 2: The Place Called Chicagoua

Listening to the first episode you learned the ground-breaking, new story of Chicago’s discovery and who truly was the first European to pass through Chicago.  In this second part of our interview with historian John Swenson, he says, “if you know where the portage is, then Marquette tells you where he was,” and that is place the Indians called “Chicagoua.”  And this place Chicagoua has nothing to do with the city of today.  Adding the account of Henri Joutel (La Salle’s chronicler) he confirms where this place is.

The Windy City Historian’s interview with retired attorney and historian John Swenson will make Chicago history. 

 

Links to Research and History Documents

In the second Episode – The Place Called Chicagoua we continue our interview with retired lawyer and historian John Swenson about the place the Indians called Chicagoua. Below are links to historic items we discussed and some additional relevant research for those interested in a deeper dive into the history.

Episode 1: Who Was First?

Released Friday, March 29, 2019 – On the 344 Anniversary of Father Marquette getting flooded out of his winter camp in 1675, at the place the Indians called Chicaogua.

In real estate it’s all about “Location, Location, Location.”  So what happens if our Chicago isn’t really in Chicago? Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet explored a land that Native Americans called “Chicagoua” in 1673 and left clues to where this place can be found. It took historian John Swenson over three decades to unravel the mystery of the location of Chicago, and the evidence he found – remarkably – calls into question the story told by most 19th century historians.

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