A few weeks ago my dedicated neighbor George’s efforts to till the central part of the Bluecircle came to an abrupt halt when the rotary tiller encountered a 6″ honey locust stump. A few hours and a greasy mess later he was able to repair the broken chain drive, but collateral damage included a broken tine on the tiller. Worse yet, the gear box emits a nasty clacking and will need further diagnostics by the local repair shop. As George put it, “No matter what college you go to, you have to pay tuition”. A Google search of this phrase produces 4,120,000 hits, but it appears to be a unique bit of Chicago construction site wisdom.
We will be in the stump-removal business before any more work tilling in this area, and add the tiller repairs to lessons learned in the field. I think I may also mark the remaining stumps a bright Hoosier Red as a reminder of this entry-level course in field preparation.
Downtown Chicago 1906 near Abraham's hotel.
In 1922 Sebastian Smith sold his remaining farm and orchard land to Abraham F. Botto and his wife Katherine, both of Chicago. Based on 1890 census data Abraham was born Antonio Botto, and at that time was a Chicago saloon keeper. A vignette of him is found in Best’s Insurance Reports 1902: “Botto, Abraham F, is one of three heirs of a wealthy Italian, who left property valued at several hundred thousand dollars. He formerly ran a saloon at 331 W Madison street but has retired from active business and is now engaged in looking after his property. He lives in the second story of a frame building on W. Madison street over a cigar store in property owned by himself and also owns the La Fayette Hotel at the corner of Madison and Des Plaines. He is estimated worth $50,000 clear.” In October 1903 he married Katherine Schomer, who was then 37. Nineteen years later they would be credited with developing Smith’s Landing and adjacent land into a plat of 145 lots in Section 14 of Watervliet Township, and naming it Fair View. The plat was bordered to the south by an unnamed bay at the natural outlet of Paw Paw Lake, and to the north by what is now Bluecirclefarm. Unfortunately Mr. Botto did not survive to sign the dedication of the Plat, filed June 23, 1922 and signed by Katie Botto (widow) as proprietor. He has been credited with designating nearly 800 feet of beachfront as “Sunset Park”. A small portion of this park remains open to the public as a Watervliet Twp. park.
1922 Plat of Fair View, Paw Paw Lake
Schwarting Property, 1929
Sebastian Smith was the second owner of the Bluecirclefarm hill. Some of the apple orchards he planted between 1864 and 1890 would last for almost a century. Historians credit him with exporting apples to London in the late 1800s and helping establish the area’s reputation for fruit production. By 1900 Paw Paw Lake had become a popular vacation destination with summer cottages, shoreline hotels and attractions and some of his orchards were replaced by new cottages on Hetherington Hill. He sold the last of his holdings in 1922 to developers. C.J. Schwarting, misidentified on this 1929 map as “Swarting”, served as trustee for the area which would remain orchards for most of the 20th Century and eventually become home to the Bluecircle.
Remnant of Smith's orchard legacy, 1960s
Pomona Point and Hetherington Development, 1903
1887 Map of Property Owners