Early Andersonville - Ante fire (1871)

Vol. XVIII No. 3 - FALL 2007

Before there was Edgewater and Andersonville, there was the township of Ridgeville, which was formed in 1848. The plat map set the boundaries from what is now central Evanston south to Irving Park Road which was then called Graceland. There was no government, just a designation on a map. In this time period the land between Argyle and Foster from Clark Street west to Ravenswood was platted as the town of Andersonville. The names found on the Plat of the property were Dalieden, Fletch and Orr. One section was set aside for a school, the Andersonville school built in 1854. The early owners eventually subdivided their large lots (see map on page 4) into many smaller lots sometime after the 1880s.

In 1854, Ridgeville was altered because the people of Lakeview organized themselves as a town. They set their boundaries at Devon on the north and Fullerton at the south. They held an election and Robert Edison was elected Supervisor; Conrad Sulzer assessor; Nicholas Kransz collector; John Mauritzen Township Clerk; Isaac Shippey, Justice of the Peace; Lewis Brown, Jacob Wolf and Francis Baer Commissioner of Highways, John Rees, Constable and John Burger, Overseer of the Poor. Ridgeville was reconstituted in 1857 as the township of Evanston.

The township of Lakeview was divided into to two districts, Fullerton to Irving Park Road and Irving Park to Devon. The Western boundary was either the Chicago River or Western Avenue. It was recognized as a town in 1865. A town hall which was built in 1872 at the corner of Addison and Halsted.

In the area we know as Andersonville and Edgewater, there were mostly small farms and greenhouses. Some report there were cherry and apple orchards and others say onion and cabbage farms. In 1859, the subdivision of Mount Pleasant was defined as extending from the south side of Foster to Berwyn on the north. Eventually, Ebenezer Lutheran Church was built in this area beginning in 1905. Some of the early settlers were Swedish and some were Luxembourgers who came to Chicago between 1844-1847 and settled in the area known as the “Ridge” because of the high ground and good drainage. St. Henry Parish at Ridge and Devon was founded as a Luxembourg parish in 1850.

Lakeview gradually expanded building schools in many areas and even a high school in 1874 (it was destroyed by fire and rebuilt). The Andersonville school was used as an ungraded school because there were so few children in the area. Later it was an outpost of the Goudy school, which stood at Foster and the Chicago Milwaukee and St. Paul RR tracks. Though the settlement was clearly named Andersonville with an “o” the photo of the school shows the “e” in the name.

In 1886, Louis Henry filed an addition to Summerdale called Summerdale Park in the area from Berwyn to Balmoral and then in 1891 north to Catalpa. Part of this subdivision extended to Clark Street. The northernmost section of West Andersonville from Catalpa to Bryn Mawr was labeled Edgewater Heights in 1896. This was just a few years after John Lewis Cochran’s fourth addition to Edgewater in 1894. It was also just a few years after some land owners in Mount Pleasant began to subdivide that area.

The main arteries of the community were the Green Bay Road (now Clark Street) which was an original trail from Fort Dearborn to Fort Howard (in Green Bay) and the Little Fork Road, which is now Lincoln Avenue. Another road along the shoreline was the road to Evanston, now called Broadway.

Transportation was a factor in the slow development of parts of Lakeview. The Chicago & North Western tracks had few local stations. One was established at Rosehill for use by the cemetery. Louis Henry’s subdivision Summerdale was given a stop at Berwyn [Editor’s note: should be "between Foster and Farragut".] But local transportation was limited. Horse drawn cars were available at Fullerton to Diversey. From Diversey there was a steam engine that pulled “dummy cars” as far as Irving Park Road along Clark Street. This refers to the small engine that pulled a trolley car that had no power. These were not around for long before the electric trolleys ran on Chicago streets.

As the population grew, the land was subdivided. There was a big boom in Andersonville after the Chicago fire. Many Swedish came to the area in the 1880s.

Along Clark street, businesses sprang up. There were restaurant/bars, blacksmiths and drug stores. There were a few small grocery stores. In 1889, The city of Chicago proposed incorporating the township of Lakeview into the city. This proposed expansion of the city was brought to four towns surrounding the city, including Hyde Park, Lake and Jefferson. In Lakeview, a vote was taken and the town of Lakeview was dissolved. It became a part of Chicago. What happened next is unclear but it seems that the property records from the town of Lakeview did not make it into the city archives. So homes built before 1889 are difficult to trace unless individual homeowners passed the records on to new owners.

By 1900, the name Andersonville was in common usage as another name for “Swede town,” which was often used by local residents to refer to the Clark Street shopping district. The Andersonville School stood at Clark and Ashland until the Trumbull School was built as a replacement in 1908. Next year is the 100th anniversary of Trumbull.

In the 1920s, a survey of the entire city divided the city into 75 community areas. Number one was Rogers Park and number two was Uptown. The dividing line was at Bryn Mawr. Edgewater and Andersonville ceased to exist as far as the City of Chicago was concerned.

In the early 1950s, the Andersonville merchants who were part of the Uptown Business Men’s Association worked with the City of Chicago to change the name of the Clark Street merchants group to the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce. By the mid 1960s, the neighborhoods surrounding the street formed associations that were called the East Andersonville Residents Council and the West Andersonville Neighbors Together. Later, the neighbors who lived in homes in the original Andersonville formed a community association called the Andersonville South Neighborhood Association.

Today, Andersonville is a well known community in the City of Chicago. It is remarkable that the name put on a plat map in the 1850s has become so well known.

Click here to see the original Andersoville subdivision map.