If you head to the mouth of the Chicago River to see the DuSable statue, you’ll notice several historical plaques along the wall behind the statue. Walk northeast along that wall to see the plaques. As mentioned in my previous post, this spot is rich in history. Thousands of people stroll by daily, heading to working or seeing the city, but many may not have a moment to fully appreciate the river. Consider what was there and then take a moment to look at what is there.
About fifty paces north along that wall you’ll see a historical marker commemorating the site of DuSable’s home. According to that marker, DuSable’s homesite was dedicated as a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service in 1977. Near that is another marker for the Kinzie mansion which stood in the same location after DuSable left the river for Missouri. It’s interesting to note, Kinzie had a mansion and DuSable had a cabin, even though John Kinzie, “purchased the DuSable home and lived there until is death in 1828,” according to a placard at the Chicago History Museum. (Kinzie, his mansion, and the street named after him will be a post in the near future.) Much of the early information about DuSable came from first volume of Alfred Theodore Andreas’s three-volume History of Chicago. It contains an illustration that portrays DuSable’s home as a simple cabin although that same home somehow later became the Kinzie mansion. There’s more of that grey area between black and white in Chicago. (You can look up the drawing through the Encyclopedia of Chicago website.)
The other prominent plaque along the same wall refers to a point even further back in time and remembers Father Pere Jacques Marquette. He traveled with Louis Jolliet and mapped much of the Northern part of the Mississippi River. Portions of Father Marquette’s 1673 diary can be viewed online through the Wisconsin Historical Society. Like Kinzie, I will examine more on their local history, memorials and monuments. If you look at the photograph of the plaque, you’ll see it was, “Erected by Illinois Society Daughters of Colonial Wars.” I’ve never heard of that group before and it is the kind of name that gets my curiosity wondering and wandering. Put it on the list as something else to research.
As I said before, the mouth of the Chicago River overflows with history, but if you’re looking for something else DuSable related for DuSable week, just head 2 miles north. On Clark at North avenue stands the Chicago History Museum. In their “Crossroads of America” exhibit they cover early Chicago life and history. There you’ll find more information about DuSable and Marquette.
Our last stop for DuSable week will be the DuSable Museum of African-American History which I’ll post about on Saturday. Check out the photographs below about Chicago from the Chicago History Museum.