The following was extracted from Where The Trails Cross - Volume 26:1 Fall of 1995
By Brad L. Bettenhausen
The following was extracted from the New Bremen News - Vol.8 Number 2 March 1992
The following was contributed by Ronald Travis of Manteno Illinois.
(we received the following correspondence from Don B. Crandall of San Francisco, California. His great-grandfather was Mark Crandall who, along with his brothers David, Herman, and Alva, were among the first settlers in Bremen Township. The "thirties" referred to are the 1830s.)
A copy of this newspaper article was sent to my grandfather, Albert W. Crandall by an "east coast Crandall researcher" about 1925. It's not certain what date the article actually appeared. But by following the dates and time intervals.....it can be assumed that the article appeared on Jan 6, 1898 or Jan 6, 1899. In August 1989 my wife, Shirley, and I spent some time in the Chicago Public Library researching old newspaper files to try to find the original article. Unfortunately, we found no copies of the Chicago Record of that time period. In copies of the Chicago American, dated June 13, June 20 and June 27, 1835, we did find accounts of the land sale and the emotional fever that surrounded it. There was no mention made of the "notorious" Crandall brothers, however. Mark Crandall in the article is my great-grandfather.
- Don B. Crandall
Fighting For Claims - Chicago In The Thirties
Son of the first hotel keeper at Blue Island recalls days when the site of a future metropolis was subject to pre-emtion.
Special Correspondence Chicago Record
Centralia, Ill., Jan. 6th: P.D. Rexford of this city furnishes some unpublished reminiscences of land and grain speculations in Chicago early days. Mr. Rexford is son of Norman Rexford who opened and kept the first hotel at Blue Island in 1835. The hotel consisted of five log buildings. Mr. Rexford finally succeeded his father as proprietor of this hotel. He relates some of the interesting events in which the early settlers came in collision with the land speculators, who were operating at Chicago even at that early state of the city's development. He said: "There were a good many settlers who had pre-empted land, and had made many improvements, but had not satisfied the law in that respect. Some had been too late to make all the required improvements. The holdings of these persons, as well as vacant lands, were sought in purchase by the speculators. My Uncle Stephen and my Father had both settled on land, claim to which had not been perfected, when in June 1835 a public sale of land west of the Indian boundary was announced. The sale was to take place between Water and Lake Streets, on the west side of Clark. Mr. Rockwell represented the Government in the sale of the land."
Hostility Is Undisguised
The spirit of speculation at that time was wild. On the part of the settlers, who had partly perfected their claims, there was open hostilities against the coterie of men who, it was rumored, proposed to bid on settlers claims. There promised to be war to the knife. There was a family of four brothers, some of whom had walked as many as half dozen times from Chautauqua County, New York, to settle land in Illinois. It was cheaper to walk those days than ride. The Crandalls were David, Herman, Alva and Mark. 'Dave' was a powerful fellow, with a voice like a fog-horn, and was chosen as the spokesman for the settlers. The sale took place June 20th, 1835. Hotel accommodations were insufficient, so the settlers camped on the Lake front from Randolph Street south. There the ox teams were turned loose to graze. The settlers gathered for the sale, greatly alarmed at the prospect of the speculators bidding more than $1.25 an acre for the land on which they had established themselves. They held a meeting and passed resolutions to the effect that the actual settler should have his land at $1.25 an acre, whether he had pre-empted it fully or not. This they proposed to have peacefully if they could, forcibly if they must. When this resolution was ready, Dave Crandall in thundering tones shouted out, 'And blood not excepted.' Settlers have a lusty champion.
Knocks Down A Bidder
"There was one man who did make a bid. He was said to be a Preacher who had been commissioned to do the bidding for a Township. No sooner had he got up to $1.30 than Alva Crandall ran out of the door, and knocked him down. The Preacher was carried away insensible. After the sale the people came to Dave in tears. They couldn't do too much for him, and wanted to chip in and pay for his land, but he would not allow them to do so. Dave was fond of good liquor. At that time Eli B. Williams kept a grocery and liquor shop on Clark Street. Williams took the big fellow back in his store, pointed to a shelf on which was the choicest vintage of the day and region, and told him to help himself.
On the morning of the sale the settlers had got a tip from the sheriff that allayed their fear of any interference from him. Ed Sherman was sheriff. He was a brother of Frank Sherman who built the Sherman House. That morning Ed took Crandall aside and said, 'Dave, I've got to go out in the country today. I hope you will get along smoothly and have no trouble while I am gone.' Crandall and the settlers took this to mean that they were to go ahead and clean out the speculators if they wanted to. Crandall did not remain in the neighborhood long. Things became too tame for him, and he moved to southwestern Missouri where there was more excitement."
Mr. Rexford is said to be the oldest hotel man in the state, if not in all the West. After succeeding his father in keeping the Old Blue Island Hotel, he sold it, and went to what then was called Calument Station, but which now is known as Kensington. There he served as the agent of the Michigan Central and Illinois Central, keeping a railroad eating house at the same time. In 1871 he went to Cairo, where he kept the St. Charles, and where he remained until 1874. In that year he went to Joliet, taking the old Robinson House, which burned out in the following July. He returned to Cairo keeping the Planters for two years, then moving to Centralia, where he has kept a Railroad Hotel continuously for twenty one years. He is said to have a large collection of relics and historical data pertaining to the early history of Chicago.
The following was extracted from the Southern Cook County and History of Blue Island before the Civil War by Ferdinand Schapper 1917 (Ref 977.31 SCH) (Blue Island Library)
Advertised letters from the Chicago Post Office
Name: Crandall, Alva