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                                      JESSE SPALDING
                                         Biography
                                    Cook County, Illinois

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Information contributed for use in Cook County ILGenWeb by
        Sherri Hessick, added May 2001.



JESSE SPALDING

Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County,
Illinois with Portraits 3rd ed. revised and extended
(Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 7-9

JESSE SPALDING is a descendant of one of the oldest American
families. The environment of the New England fathers was
calculated to bring out and develop all that was sturdy and
vigorous in both mind and body, and their descendants
continue to manifest the traits of character which enable
them to survive the hardships which they were compelled to
endure, and which rendered prosperity possible in the face
of the most forbidding conditions.

The town and family of Spalding are known to have existed in
Lincolnshire, England, in the twelfth century. Between 1630
and 1633, Edward Spalding left that town and settled in
Braintree, in the then infant colony of Massachusetts. From
him the line of descent is traced through Joseph, Nathaniel,
Joseph, Joseph and John to Jesse.

The Spalding family first settled in southern Connecticut,
early in the seventeenth century. Its members shared in the
work of subduing the wilderness, as well as defending their
homes from the aboriginal savages. Some of them achieved
distinction in the heroic defense of Fort Groton,
Connecticut. Many served in "King Philip’s War," and
fifty-two were active in the Revolution, of whom nine
participated in the battle of Bunker Hill, where one fell
from his dying horse.

Joseph Spalding, grandfather of Jesse, was born in
Plainfield, Connecticut. He was an officer of the
Revolutionary army, and removed to Pennsylvania in 1780,
settling on land near Athens, Bradford County, on the upper
waters of the Susquehanna River. This land was claimed by
both Connecticut and Pennsylvania, and Mr. Spalding was
obliged to pay tribute to both commonwealths before he could
secure a clear title. This was a great hardship, but he went
to work with characteristic energy, and shortly thereafter,
despite all discouragements, became a prosperous farmer and
leading citizen of the community.

John, father of Jesse Spalding, was active and influential
in Bradford County affairs, and at one time occupied the
office of Sheriff, winning universal approbation by the
intrepid and vigorous manner in which he discharged his
official (and often perilous) duties in a new and somewhat
lawless community. His wife, Elizabeth, was a daughter of
Dr. Amos Prentiss, a distinguished physician of Groton,
Connecticut, and a representative of a prominent Colonial
family.

Jesse Spalding was born at Athens, Pennsylvania, April 15,
1833. While assisting his father in farm work, he found time
to acquire such education as the common schools and the
academy of his native town afforded. On attaining his
majority he engaged in lumbering on the north branch of the
Susquehanna, and became a woodsman and raftsman. At the age
of twenty-three he began to deal in lumber on his own
account, and was successful. His product was rafted to
Middletown, Columbia and Port Deposit, and marketed in
Washington, Alexandria, Norfolk and Richmond, Virginia, and
other points.

Foreseeing the rapid growth of the young city of Chicago, he
removed hither in 1857, and soon after bought a sawmill at
Menekaunee, at the mouth of the Menominee River, in
Wisconsin, where he commenced the manufacture of lumber.
This mill was burned in 1870, rebuilt and burned in 1871,
rebuilt in 1872, and is now finely equipped with gang, band
and circular saws and modern machinery, being thoroughly
complete in all its appointments. For a time business was
conducted by the firm of Wells & Spalding, the firm name
later becoming Spalding & Porter, and subsequently Spalding,
Houghteling & Johnson. In 1871, the concern was incorporated
as the Menominee River Lumber Company, and in 1892 Mr.
Spalding purchased the interest of his partners, and has
since been the sole owner. Shortly after he bought out the
New York Lumber Company at Menekaunee, he secured a milling
property at the mouth of Cedar River, about thirty miles
above the city of Menominee, and in 1882 he organized the
Spalding Lumber Company, of which he became President, being
at the same time its active manager. His purchases of
timber-lands in Wisconsin and Michigan to supply the mills
of these companies with logs have aggregated two hundred and
sixty-five thousand acres. Besides its value for timber,
this land has proven rich in iron ore, and three mines are
now successfully operated on the property. The output of the
mills at Cedar River is shipped in boats owned by the
Spalding Lumber Company direct to Chicago, whence it is
distributed from the Chicago yards to the western and
southwestern markets in Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and
Missouri. Lumber has also been shipped recently, in large
quantities, direct from the mills at Menekaunee to Detroit,
Buffalo, Rochester, Albany and Boston. The companies of
which Mr. Spalding is the head are among the largest of
their kind, and annually produce from sixty to seventy-five
millions of feet of lumber.

Although he cannot be said to have been a pioneer in the
lumber business of Chicago, few men have been more closely
identified with its growth than Mr. Spalding. In fact, his
name is indissolubly linked with the political, social and
business interests of the city and the Northwest.
Mr. Spalding is amply fitted by nature and training for the
manipulation of large interests, and his success is in no
small degree due to the fact that he does not despise small
things. All the minutić of his extensive interests are
familiar to him, and his practical experience enables him to
give attention to the smallest details. His investments in
banking and other financial concerns are made with the same
judicious care, and are equally successful with his other
undertakings. He is a director in many large corporations of
the city, and his advice is frequently sought in the conduct
of many important enterprises. It is not strange that his
fellow-citizen should discover in him a capable man of
affairs; and when the city was destroyed by fire in 1871, he
was sought out as one who would be useful in adjusting
public business to existing conditions, and in raising
Chicago from its ashes and reviving business activity. He
was three years in the City Council, and while Chairman of
the Finance Committee, he, by judicious management, aided in
the restoration of the city’s financial credit, materially
furthering the establishment of good municipal government.
In 1861, when the Nation was threatened with destruction,
Mr. Spalding was among its most active defenders. He was
requested by the Adjutant-General of the State of Illinois
to build and equip barracks for the Government soldiers
(afterward known as "Camp Douglas"), besides which he built
barracks the following year on the North Side for returning
soldiers. He furnished all the material for these
structures, receiving in payment the State Auditor’s
warrants, there being no funds in the Treasury to be applied
to this purpose.

Mr. Spalding has been an active worker in the interests of
the Republican party from its inception, because he believed
the weal of the Nation depended upon the success of the
principles maintained by that party. He was a personal
friend of Grant, Arthur and Conkling, as well as other now
prominent National leaders, and gave counsel in many grave
exigencies. He presided at the unveiling of the Grant
monument in Lincoln Park. In 1881 he was appointed by
President Arthur Collector of the Port of Chicago, and
filled that office in a manner most acceptable to the
Government and the people of the city. With him a public
office is a trust, to be executed with the same faithful
care which one bestows on his own private affairs; and when
he was appointed Director of the Union Pacific Railroad on
behalf of the Government by President Harrison, he made a
personal investigation of the property in his own
painstaking way, submitting the report to the Secretary of
the Interior. This report, which gave a careful review of
the resources of the country traversed by the line, and its
future prospects, was ordered printed by Congress, and
commanded careful attention from financiers and those
concerned in the relations of the Pacific roads to the
Government. It was also embraced in the annual report of the
Board of Directors of the Union Pacific Railway Company.
Mr. Spalding was associated with William B. Ogden and others
in the project for cutting a canal from Sturgeon Bay to
Green Bay, by which the danger of navigating "Death’s Door"
(as the entrance to Green Bay is known) could be avoided, as
well as saving a distance of about one hundred and fifty
miles on each round trip between Chicago and Green Bay
ports. This was completed in 1882 by the Sturgeon Bay & Lake
Michigan Ship Canal and Harbor Company, of which Mr. Ogden
was the first President, succeeded on his death by Mr.
Spalding. During the first year of its operations, 745,128
tons of freight passed through the canal, and in 1892 the
business amounted to 875,533 tons. In 1891 4,500 vessels
(trips) passed through, and the next year the number was
5,312. Congress having passed an act to purchase the canal
and make it free to all navigators, it was turned over to
the United States Government in 1893.






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