History of Hammond, IN/IL.
From: History of Cook County, Illinois
By: A. T. Andreas
Published by: A. T. Andreas, Publisher Chicago, 1884


This town, for which its inhabitants entertain the highest hopes as to its future growth and greatness, has indeed, within the past four years, made such rapid progress as to fully justify the predictions of its friends that it is destined at no distant day to become an important commercial city. Although situated mainly in an adjoining State, a small portion of it only jutting over into Cook County, of Illinois. it can justly he classed among the suburban towns of Chicago. In fact, so closely are its commercial and social interests linked with those of the great city, that the Chicago & Atlantic Railway Company intend, during the coming summer, to put on a dummy or suburban train between the two places. Four years ago Hammond had not to exceed five hundred inhabitants. It now has a population of over twenty five hundred, and is still growing with a rapidity astonishing to these who remember it only a few years ago as an insignificant little station on the Michigan Central, then the only railroad in the place.

The first settler in the vicinity of where now stands the town of Hammond, was E. W. Hohman, who located here in 1849. The region hereabout was then an unbroken forest of heavy timber, but which bas long since mainly disappeared, under the aggressive civilization of the white man's ax. Mr. Huhman for many years lived in a little log house, which stood on the north side of the Calumet, In later years he erected a handsome frame dwelling, near the same spot, and which is still standing. He also acquired a great quantity of land, owning at the time of his death in 1878, over eight hundred acres. It is on part of this tract that the village was originally located, and from which the various additions to it have been made, during its recent rapid groth.

Joseph Trackett is also an old settler, coming here a few years subsequent to the arrival of Mr. Hohman. He now lives in the home he orginally built, and which is the oldest within the present village limits, on Dolton Street and the State Line road.

William Sohl came here about the same time with Mr. Trackett. He located some little distance east of the village, on the Michigan City road. Shortly after the Michigan Central Railroad was completed, in 1852, Mr. Sohl opened a small store at the station (Hammond) and was therefore the first merchant in the place.

In 1869 Marcus M. Towle, still a resident of Hammond one of its wealthiest and most influential citizens, and the man, more than any other, to whom it owes its present prosperity, located here and began in a small way the slaughtering business, first erecting, however, a small frame slaughter house about thirty by sixty feet in size, At that time there was no town, in fact no signs of any the railroad, with no side tracks or switches, ran through the woods here, and Hammond had not as yet risen to the dignity of a station. The G. H. Hammond Packing Company, an institution which is the outgrowth of the beginning made by Mr. Towle, to-day has buildings which cover nearly live acres of ground including ice houses, etc. and furnishes employment to over five hundred men. Five to six hundred cattle are slaughtered here daily, while the full capacity of the houses is double these figures. The monthly expenses for stock reach the sum of $1,350,000, while their monthly pay roll amounts to over $20,000. The company is engaged almost exclusively in what is known as the dressed beef traffic. employing a great number of refrigerator cars to transport their meats to Eastern markets. Connected with the packing houses. and operated by the same company, is an extensive oleo margarine oil factory. which turns out daily forty tierces of oil. The G. H. Hammond Packing Company is incorporated under the laws of the State of Michigan. with headquarters at Detroit. The present officers of the company are: George H. Hammond, president; Andrew Comstock, vice-president, and J. D. Standish, secretary and treasurer. The stockholders are M. M. Towle, G. H. Hammond and Andrew Comstock; the paid up capital of the company is $1,500,000.

The M. M. Towle Distilling Company was formed in 1883. for the original purpose of manufacturing syrup from corn, and for making whisky out of the grain after the saccharine substance had been used in the manufacture of the syrup. But as the United States Government forbids the carrying on of any other business in the same building where distilling is done, the original plan was abandoned. The distillery building is a four story frame, 48x89 feet in size, and cost, with the apparatus and machinery necessary to carry on the business. $100,000. It employs twenty five men and has a capacity of 3,000 gallons of alcohol per day. The company is incorporated under the laws of this State. with a cash capital of $150,000. The officers are: M. M. Towle, president, and W. H. Gastlin, superintendent.

The Hammond Lumber Company was started in 1878, with M. M. Towle, proprietor, and J. Krost, superintendent. The yards cover nearly ten acres of ground, with five hundred feet of dockage fronting on the north bank of the Calumet, The company employs thirty men and handled last year over 5,000,000 feet of lumber.

The Tuthiss Spring Company was formed and incorporated in 1883, with a paid up capital of $50,000. Its officers are: Frank H. Tuthill, President; M. M. Towle, vice president; W. H. Tuthiss, secretary, and James M. Young, treasurer.

Hammond has a fine brick hotel, which was built in 1881 by M. M. Towle, at a cost of $30,000. It was completed and opened to the public on Monday, October 30, 1883; Charles Lyon is the first name appearing on its register.

In 1874 M. M. Towle & Co. started the large general store which they still conduct. It has from time to time been enlarged until now they carry a stock valued at $20,000.

The public school building was erected in the winter of 1881. It is a two story brick edifice, and cost $4,000; has eight rooms and employs six teachers. It is at present under tue principalship of Prof. W. C. Belman.

The Methodist church was bult in 1883, at a cost of $4,000. it is a handsome frame structnre, an ornament to the town, and a credit to its builders. Rev. Edward A, Schell is the present pastor.

The Catholic Church was built in 1875 and is the oldest religions society in the place. Father Baumgerther is at present the pastor in charge.

The Evangelical Lutherans have also a church organization and a house of worship, built and dedicarted during the summer of 1883. Rev. H. Wunderlict is the present pastor.

In societies Hammond has a G. A. R. Post, and strong and well organized lodges of Masons, Odd Fellows, and of the Ancient Order United Workmen.

The Hammond Tribune was started in 1879 by M. M. Towle. Two years later it was purchased by Alfred S. Winslow. by whom it is still conducted. The office of the paper was totally destroyed in the fire of December 24, 1883, but its proprietor, with commendable enterprise, did not permit this misfortune to prevent the appearance of a single issue of his paper, The Tribune is a handsome four page weekly, and in appearance and in the character of its contents compares favorably with any county paper in the State.

The town of Hammond was laid out by M. M. Towle, aud located or the northeast quarter of Section 35, Township 37 north, Range 10 west. The original plat was recorded April 12, 1875, and included four blocks, 103 lots, and the following streets: Indiana and Michigan avenues, Plummer and Ives streets, Dolton Road, and the Michigan Central Railroad. Cottage Grove addition bears date of September 2. 1879; was also made by M. M. Towle; has sixty lots, with Michigan Avenue, Chicago and Murray streets. The other additions are: Townsend and Godfrey's, made October 9, 1879, with 125 lots; Hohman's made January 4, 1880; Towle & Young's. made March 3, 1882; the Sohl Estate's addition, March 18, 1882, and Wilcox & Godfrey's, made at the same time.

Hammond was incorporated as a town in November, 1883; but with its present rapid growth it will perhaps be but a short time until this will be changed to a city organization, John F. Krost is the Clerk and Treasurer, and Donald McDonald the Town Attorney.

Though comparatively a new town, Hammond has already experienced the horrors of a great conflagration, On the 24th of December, 1883, it was visited by a most destructive fire, which in a few hours laid twenty one business houses in ashes, destroying property to the value of over $50,000. Owing to the fact that as yet the village has no well organized fire department, it was almost at the mercy of the flames front the moment the fire broke out. Fortunately, however, no lives were lost, while the terrible lesson received on that occasion has fully aroused the people of Hammond to the necessity of providiiig adequate means for future protection. The following account, containing the full particulars of the fire, is taken from the columns of the Hammond Tribune, which was also one among the institutions destroyed on that occasion

"About six o'clock Monday morning the alarm of fire was sounded, and the Commercial Block was the place where the tire was discovered. It originated in E. E. Towle's meat cooler, and in a few minutes the west end of the block was wrapped in flames. In about two hours Commercial Block and the buildings east of it, west of the Chicago & Alton Railroad, were laid low in ashes. As soon as possible the fire engine was brought out, hose attached, and put to work. After the flames had spread to some extent and all hopes of saving the building had flown, the attention of all was turned toward saving the adjoining buildings, in which they were successful.

M. M. Towle owned Commercial Block, which was valued at $15,000, with but $7,000 insurance. This building had not been built two years, and was occupied by six business firms on the first floor, as follows E. E. Towle meat market, well covered by insurance H, Seyfrath, dry goods, loss $2,700, with $2,000 insurance; W. H. Verrill, saloon, loss net known, insurance $1,700; Ed. Harden, gents' furnishing goods, loss and insurance not kuown : E. A. Andrew, druggist, loss and insurance not known; M. Champaigne, loss and insurance not known. Of the above parties only E. A. Andrew and M. Champaigne saved anything before the fire, while all that was in E. E. Towle's safe was all he had left. We are informed that Ed. Harden and W. H. Verrill closed their doors and took nothing out.

"On the second floor they came as follows: Tribune, A. A. Winslow, proprietor; loss, $2,000 insurance, $1,000. There was nothing saved front the office. Ed. Harden's shoe shop came next; loss not known. In the corner of tins block was the office of M. M. Towle, J. N. Young and D. McDonald. The papers in the safe in tins office were well preserved. The remainder of this floor was occupied by the Hammond Furniture Company and the Times office; loss not known. The tlnrd floor was occupied by W. H. Hav. ward's art gallery, fully covered by insurance; the Odd Fellows' hall, which was used by the A. O. U. W., and G. A. R. There were several roomers on this floor. The buildings on the east side of Hohman Street were owned by Condit Smith's beirs and were occupied as follows: Stickler & Son, bankers; J. Schloer, shoemaker; Stamm, jeweler; A. Raushert, harness maker; O. Ousley, hardware, and K. Nathan, tailor. All of the above were insured but Mr. Nathan. Hohman block and C. Mund's. saloon on the south were only saved by great exertion, after being damaged to some extent. On the north G. Gommer's residence was in great danger, and on the west Mrs. Hope's. We believe if a Babcock fire extinguisher had been at hand when the fire first broke out it could have been put out. This is the heaviest fire Hammond ever sustained in her business houses. We believe something tangible should be done toward protection against fire.


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