ALEXANDER McDANIEL

Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois with Portraits 3rd ed. revised and extended (Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 188-189.

ALEXANDER McDANIEL, of Wilmette, is now living a retired life, enjoying a rest which he has truly earned and richly deserves.  He has for many years resided in Cook County, and is so widely and favorably known that he needs no special introduction to the readers of this volume.  This work would be incomplete without the record of his life, which is as follows:  He was born February 13, 1815, in Bath, Steuben County, New York, and is a son of Daniel McDaniel, who was of Scotch descent, but was born in the State of New York and made farming his life work.  He married Rachel Taner, a lady who was born and reared in the Mohawk Valley, and was a descendant of the Mohawk Dutch.  They became the parents of seven children, four sons and three daughters.

Alexander McDaniel is the eldest son.   The days of his boyhood and youth were spent in his parents’ home and he became familiar with all the duties of farm life.   He aided in the cultivation of the old homestead until he had attained his majority, when he started out for himself, and, leaving the East upon the tide of emigration which was steadily moving westward, he came to Chicago, arriving in this city on the 27th of May, 1836.  Here he worked until the 14th of August, when he went to New Trier Township, spending several days looking up lands on the Ouilmette Indian reservation.  He then returned to Chicago, where he continued until October, when he again came to New Trier Township, and pre-empted one hundred and sixty acres of Government land where the town of Winnetka now stands.  The land in the reservation had not then been surveyed.  Mr. McDaniel deposited the price of the property with the Government agent until it should be surveyed and placed upon the market, which was four years later.  He built a log cabin, one of the first four houses which stood between Chicago and the present site of Winnetka, and there he kept bachelor’s hall for four years.  The only neighbors he had for the first year, except Erastus Patterson, were Indians, and he was the only young man in that locality.  Speaking of the Indians, he said the Ouilmettes were quite enlightened and good neighbors, always being peaceable.  Mr. McDaniel purchased three forty-acre tracts of land, paying the usual price of $1.25 per acre, and forty at twenty shillings per acre.  Upon this land a part of the town of Evanston now stands.  When he first came to Cook County there were only three small log cabins north of Chicago, and many of the now thriving villages and cities had not sprung into existence, while the work of progress and civilization seemed hardly begun.

On the 27th of November, 1842, an important event in the life of Mr. McDaniel occurred, his marriage with Miss Emeline Huntoon.  The lady was born in Champlain, New York, March 11, 1824, and is a daughter of George W. and Lucinda (Bowler) Huntoon, whose family numbered ten children.  The father was a ship carpenter, and was born in Vermont, December 9, 1791.   The mother was born January 9, 1796.  With their family they came to Cook County in 1840, settling on the present site of South Evanston.  Mr. and Mrs. McDaniel became the parents of six children.  Jane, who was the wife of William H. Kinney, Postmaster of Wilmette, is now deceased; Ellen, widow of A. B. Balcam, resides with her parents; Charles, who enlisted at the age of sixteen and served three years in the Eighth Illinois Cavalry, is now a carpenter and contractor of Wilmette; George is interested in mining in Colorado; Henry is a policeman of Wilmette; and William Grant is a fireman on the North-Western Railroad.

Mr. McDaniel exercises his right of franchise in support of the Republican party.  His first vote was cast on the 4th of May, 1837, for William B. Odgen, first mayor of Chicago, and his first presidential vote supported William Henry Harrison.  Soon after the village of Wilmette was started, he was appointed the first Postmaster, holding the office for nineteen successive years, when he resigned in favor of Mr. Kinney, the present incumbent.  He has never sought or desired political preferment, his time and attention being largely occupied by his business interests.  His wife, a most estimable lady, holds membership with the Methodist Episcopal Church, and takes an active part in its work and upbuilding.  For twenty-six years Mr. McDaniel has been a resident of Wilmette.  His first home at this place, located on Center Avenue, was the fourth house built in the town, and in it he resided for twenty-three years.  In 1891, he erected a more substantial and modern dwelling on the same street, and there spends his declining days.  He has witnessed almost the entire growth and development of the county, the best interests of the community ever find in him a friend, and his hearty support and co-operation are given to those enterprises which are calculated to advance the general welfare.  His sterling worth and strict integrity have made him a leading citizen of the community and one well worthy of representation in this volume.

                                -- Submitted on 9/12/99 by Sherri Hessick ( slhessick@crosswinds.net )