ARRIVALOF A. F. BEAUBIEN’S KIN
Great Uncle of Waukegan
attorney leaders [sic] in settlement of Chicago
IS IN FIRST BAPTISMAL
Sunday’s issue of The Chicago Tribune contained a halfpage write-up of the late Alexander Beaubien, in connection with a historicalaccount of Chicagosince 1829. Mr. Beaubien was one of thefirst male children born in that town and was the great uncle of Atty.Alexander F. Beaubien of Waukegan.
Concerning this ancestor thepioneer writer of this account says:
One hundred years ago this month onan. [sic] 28, 1822, to be exact, Potawatami Indians, who still made FortDearborn their habit [sic], celebrated the arrival of a male child, whoaccording to all accounts, was the first born on the site of Chicago, in whoseveins mingled the blood of the white and the red men.
His father, Jean Baptiste Beaubien,was a Frenchman, and his mother, Josette La Framboise, was a half-breed Indian.
Five or six times had the stock[?]visited FortDearborn before it brought littleAlexander Beaubien, but on all previous visits it had left behind a fullblooded white child. The Indiansmanifested no interest in these children.
Indians Celebrate Arrival.
But theBeaubien case was different. Word of theevent passed from one tepee to another along the banks of the river, and thebraves and squaws came trooping over to the fort wrapped in blankets and wearingtheir prettiest feathers. They broughtpresents fashioned from leather and beads for the mother and child.
That nightbonfires were kindled on both banks of the river and the Potawatamies danced asthey never danced before in honor of the first wihte [sic] and red papoose bornin Chicago.
AlexanderBeaubien lived to a good old age. In hislatter years it was his custom to give a party on each anniversary of his birthand it was my privilege to be an invited guest at several of these gatherings.
Stories of Early Chicago.
We wouldhave a bite to eat, something to drink, and then “Uncle Alec” would play thefiddle and call off the figures of the quadrille. When the guests tired of dancing, “UncleAlec” would entertain with stories of early Chicago.
In 1804,the year the United Statesbuilt its first fort at Chicago,there was only one white family here, that of John Kinzie. Jean Baptiste Beaubien, father of Alexander,visited Chicagothe same year as a trader, but did not remain. Subsequently Beaubien married an Ottawasquaw named Mah-naw-hun-no-quah.
Soon afterthe FortDearborn massacre of 1812 Mr. Beaubienpurchased a log house from the widow of Charles Lee, who was slain by theIndians. This cabin was a short distancesouth-east of the ruins of the fort. Closeto it was another house occupied by Francis La Framboise. His wife was the daughter of a Potawatamie [sic]chief.
Weds Trader’s Daughter.
At the death of his Indian wifein the latter part of 1811 Mr. Beaubien was left with two children. He was tall and good looking, just the sortan Indian maid would admire. Josette LaFramboise, daughter of the French trader mentioned previously, lost her heartto the widower, and they were married by Father Rechere, a missionary priest.
MissJosette was a nurse in the family of John Kinzie at the time of the massacre,and she accompanied Mrs. Kinzie and her children from Chicago to a place of safety across thelake. Mrs. Kinzie had been appraised[sic] of the contemplated attack by a friendly Indian.
FortDearbornwas rebuilt in 1816. At the same time awarehouse or factory, as it was called, for the storage of goods belonging tothe government designed for distribution among the Indians, also wasre-established. This warehouse, atwo-story structure, was not molested at the time the fort was destroyed. In 1823, when the government abandoned thefactory, it became the property of the American Fur company and was later soldto Jean Baptiste, who occupied it as a dwelling until 1839.
First Baptism in Chicago.
A few weeksafter the birth of Alexander Beaubien, Father Stephen Badin, a Roman Catholicpriest, visited FortDearborn. Father Badin was ordained at Baltimorein 1793, and it is said he was the first Catholic clergyman ordained in the United States. He was sent out as a missionary to theIndians, and he visited the site of Chicagoas early as 1796. That was eight yearsbefore the first white settler took up his abode here.
FatherBadin was hospitably received by Jean Baptiste Beaubien and his wife, both ofwhom were Catholics. Mass was celebratedthe following Sunday at the Beaubien home, and in the afternoon littleAlexander was baptized. This was thefirst ceremony of its kind in Chicago.
Chicago was not much of aplace when Alexander Beaubien first opened his eyes. There were only five or six log houses herebesides the fort, which was garrisoned by about thirty soldiers. Michiganavenue was an Indian trail. Wild animals roamed the woods where nowstands fifteen and sixteen story buildings. Probably no other man in the world’s history could say with him:
“I saw mybirthplace grow from a settlement of half a hundred persons to a metropolis ofmore than 2,000,000,000 [sic] people.”
Fromcopious notes which I made at the birthday parties given by my venerable friendIhave [sic] transcribed those incidents which “Uncle Alec” regarded as the mostinteresting of his early life. Thematter is arranged chronologically.” [sic]
Indians His Playmates.
“Myearliest recollection of FortDearborn are [sic] of thesoldiers stationed here and of my playmeates [sic] who were Indian boys. When I was about 7 years old I began going toschool. My brother Charles, who wasseveral years older than me, was the teacher. He taught only one term.
“Mygrandmother, La Framboise [sic], a full blooded Ottawa, was taught to read and write Englishby her husband. She in turn taught herown children. Consequently she was thefirst school teacher in Chicago.
“The firstdrawbridge across the Chicago river was builtin 1824. It was located at ‘Old Point,’now known as Dearborn street. Everybody in town turned out to see the newbridge the day it was completed. Two orthree years before this bridge was built the first ferry across the Chicago river was established by my Uncle Mark. He was ferryman and tavern-keeper at the sametime.
“Anothermatter of importance took place in 1835. In that year my father purchased sixty-six acres of land which now isthe retail district of Chicago, at $1.25 an acre. The conveyance was made to him by thegovernment land agent. Later thetransfer of the tract was contested and the United States Supreme court decidedagainst him. The citizens held anindignation meeting and a protest signed by al [sic] the early settlers wassent to Washington,but to no avail. That land today, whichrightfully belongs to the eBaubien [sic] heirs, is worth hundreds of millions.[sic]
Mr.Beaubien joined the police force in 1863, but resigned five years later toengage in private detective work. Hereturned to the police department in 1882 and was retired on a pension in 1903. He died March 25, 1907.
Beaubiencourt, a short, narrow street, east of Michigan avenue and extending from Randolph to East South Water street,was named in honor of Alexander Beaubien by the city council a few years beforehis death. The site marks the vicinitywhere he spent his boyhood.
[Retrieved and transcribed by Nanci HeadleyKotowski from
The WaukeganDaily Sun of January 9, 1922, Waukegan, IL.]