Friday, February 26, 2016


The Chicago Daily Tribune of September 26, 1907, carried the following story:


Drainage Board Celebrates Beginning
of Construction of Evanston Canal.

Towns Hail Enterprise

Evanston and Wilmette Welcome Effort to Clear Waters 
Along the North Shore.

With the flashing of a nickel plated spade in the afternoon sunlight, turned once into a new tin pail, the celebration of the beginning of the Evanston Drainage Channel was completed in Wilmette yesterday.

The official spade was wielded by Miss Louise Elizabeth Paullin, the 12 year old daughter of George W. Paullin, the north shore representative on the board of sanitary trustees.   Clad in crimson, relieved at the throat and sleeves by white, the child stepped forward and performed her office with a quiet dignity that brought cheers from the 500 witnesses.

In the absence of President R. R. McCormick of the drainage board, Trustee Wallace G. Clark acted as chairman of the celebration, which was held at the foot of Central avenue, Wilmette, in the center of what is to be the opening of the auxiliary canal, and as close as possible to the 100 foot breakwaters which have already been constructed.  He was introduced by John C. Williams, and after a few preliminary remarks presented Isham Randolph, consulting engineer of the board, to whom the general scheme of the development of the sanitary district is ascribed.

Tells of Fight for Channel.

Mr. Randolph reviewed the history of the drainage canal, dwelling upon the first breaking of ground on the line between Cook and Will Counties fifteen years ago, when Frank Wenter was president of the board and Carter H. Harrison was mayor of Chicago.  He spoke of the attempt of St. Louis and the state of Missouri in the federal Supreme court to prevent the use of the channel for which Chicago had spent millions of dollars and of the struggle which continued until January 17, 1900, when the beaver trap dam was opened and the waters of the great lakes again flowed westward.

He closed his address with the following paragraph:
"I, who have had so much to say of the past, must not be adjudged unmindful of the future.  The past is the empire of memory, the future the broad and bright domain of hope.  What the original sanitary canal has been to Chicago, a boon, a health giver, this adjunct will be to Evanston, Wilmette, and the whole north shore.  It will save the bright waters of your lake form pollution and it will carry away those causes of offense which now excite your apprehension and your disgust.  Let us pray the work so auspiciously begun, may be pressed to a speedy and successful issue, and let us each and all lend a willing hand to every effort which will advance it."

Paden Promises Co-operation.

Mayor Joseph E. Paden of Evanston brought forward the necessity of maintaining the beauty and symmetry of the north shore suburbs and the danger of the importation of a class of men used to the customs of the neighborhood, but for his city he promised the most hearty good will for the success of the enterprise.  State Representative L. J. Pearson spoke in a similar tone for Wilmette.

H. F. Erdmann, chairman of the finance committee of the drainage board mentioned the difficulties that opposed the beginning of actual work on the new channel, and craved the patience of the north shore residents.  George W. Paullin spoke of the historic interest of the location of the channel mouth and of its future advantages.

Chief Engineer George Wisner summed up the actual work to be done in the digging of the canal by a statement that 5,000,000 cubic yards, or the equivalent of 2,000,000 wagon loads of dirt must be excavated, that nineteen highway and three rail bridges must be built, and that the total cost will be about $4,000,000.

Anyone who lives in or visits Evanston is well aware of the North Shore Channel (or as we always referred to it "the canal").  It's one of those things that has always been there for most people alive today, so we take it for granted.  In fact, whether a canal was needed, and then where it should go, was quite controversial in the years leading up to the story related above.  An entire book could probably be written on the events leading up to the opening of the North Shore Channel, and perhaps one already has been written, but I am instead going to tell you the story of the girl chosen to dig the first shovelful of dirt for the channel, Louise E. Pullin Ingraham.

Louise Elizabeth Paullin was born January 10, 1895 in Evanston, Illinois to George Washington Paullin (1864-1933) and his wife Mary Hamilton, nee Garwood (1858-1946).  George was originally from Philadelphia, and Mary from New Jersey.  They married February 2, 1866 in Jersey City, New Jersey, but shortly after their marriage relocated to Evanston.  The Garwood family was already well-established in Evanston, and in 1875 local druggist William Garwood invented the ice cream sundae.

George Paullin was a furrier by trade, and he knew that Evanston women of means would be good customers for his warm furs during Chicago's frigid winters.

In addition to Louise, George and Mary Paullin had three other daughters:  Frances Ann (1887-1977), Laura Virginia (1889-1986), and Little Florence (1890-1891). 

The 1890 US Census for Evanston is, of course, lost, but the Paullin family shows up on the 1900 US Census, living at 1837 Wesley Avenue in Evanston.

1837 Wesley, Evanston
The family consisted of George and Mary and their three daughters, but remembering Little Florence, Mary told the census taker she had given birth to four children; three of which were still alive in 1900.

The need for a drainage canal for Evanston and Wilmette had been recognized almost from the time the area was first settled.  Sewage used to flow out into Lake Michigan, but since the lake was also the source of the area's fresh drinking water, continuing this practice could end up a serious health hazard.  In fact, one of the primary reasons for the merger of the Village of South Evanston with the City of Evanston in 1892 was that South Evanston's sewage outflow was too close to its water intake. South Evanston had two sewer outflow pipes - one pipe was one block north of the water intake, and one pipe was one block south of the water intake.  As the incidence of typhoid outbreaks became more frequent it became obvious that this was a primary cause.  After the merger, South Evanston could tap into Evanston's water supply, but something still needed to be done eventually about the sewage.

After much debate, the canal was finally authorized in 1903 by the North Branch Sanitary and Improvements Association.   As a long-time advocate of the canal, George W. Paullin, Louise's father was elected to what was then called the "Drainage Board" in 1905.  There was continued controversy, however from those who wanted the channel to be open to shipping, to Canadian water authorities who feared that the canal would take too much water out of Lake Michigan and harm the other Great Lakes.  While all this played out, the Drainage Board was quietly buying up all of the lands and rights-of-way needed for the channel.  When private interests moved to get an injunction to keep the channel from being dug, the Drainage Board decided to act swiftly and have the work begin. Things happened so fast that the president of the Board, Robert R. McCormick was not even in town when the ceremony was held.  Board member George W. Paullin decided that his daughter Louise would be the prefect person to turn over the first shovel of dirt.  The 7.7 mile North Shore Channel was finally completed in 1910.       

The 1910 US Census finds the Paullin family living at 1908 Sheridan Road in Evanston:

1908 Sheridan Road Evanston

Today 1908 Sheridan Road is part of Northwestern University.  The Paullin family still consisted of George and Mary and their three daughters, Frances, Laura and Louise.  Surprisingly, this time around Mary Paullin told the census taker that she had given birth to three children and all three were still alive.  Could she have forgotten poor little Florence?  She must have.  

Louise attended the Evanston Academy of Northwestern University from 1910-1914.  Here is a photo of her from the 1912 yearbook from Evanston Academy, the "Bear" when she was Second Semester president of her class:

Here's a photo of Louise from the 1914 "Bear:"

She was again a class officer, this time the First Semester Secretary.

Louise Paullin graduated from Evanston Academy in 1914 and then enrolled at Northwestern University in Evanston where she majored in Botany, with minors in Zoology and French. While at Northwestern she became a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority. She graduated with a B.S. in 1918. 

Here's a photo from her freshman year at Northwestern where she was Chairman of the Social Committee:

In her senior year (1918) she worked on the Northwestern Candle magazine:

And here is Louise Paullin's entry from her senior yearbook in 1918:

On August 20, 1919, the Evanston News-Index published the following item:

Miss Louise Paullin succeeds Mr. Lee as city editor of The News-Index. Her appointment follows about a year and a half of work on Mr. Lee's staff and is an expression on the part of the publishers that women if properly trained and if endowed with the necessary enthusiasm and perseverance can do equally as well as men the work which heretofore has been called exclusively men's field.

The 1920 US Census shows the Paullin family still living at 1908 Sheridan Road in Evanston.  George lists his occupation as "Fur Manufacturer" (I thought the animals "manufactured" the furs...); Laura is a teacher in a private school and Louise is the editor of a daily newspaper, as mentioned above.  The third sister, Frances, had married Raymond S. Pruitt in 1914.

In the years after her graduation, in addition to being the Editor of the Evanston News-Index, Louise assisted in the Botany laboratory and continued to take classes at Northwestern, in subjects as diverse as Chemistry, Art and English.  Louise's two sisters, Frances Anne and Laura Virginia, also graduated from Northwestern - Frances in 1912 (Liberal Arts) and Laura in 1933 (Education).

The 1930 US Census shows the Paullins are still at 1908 Sheridan Road.  George Paullin indicated that they owned the house and assigned a value of $37,000 to it.  Sixty five year old George listed his occupation as "Retired," and Laura as a "Teacher in a Public School."  Surprisingly, Louise specified "None" as her occupation.

Louise's father, George W. Paullin, died in Evanston on November 18, 1933.  Here is his obituary from the Chicago Daily Tribune of November 19, 1933:

The 1940 US Census finds Louise Paullin living with her widowed mother Mary and her sister Laura, still living at 1908 Sheridan Road, which they now say is worth $40,000.  This time both Laura and Louise list their occupation as "Grade School Teachers."

Louise's mother, Mary Hamilton Garwood Paullin, died in Evanston on September 24, 1946.  She was eighty seven years old.  The Chicago Daily Tribune reported that she left an estate of just under $1 million to her three daughters.

On a happier note, Louise Paullin married the then-mayor of Evanston, Mr. Samuel Gilbert Ingraham on January 23, 1947. (Mr. Ingraham retired from his position as mayor in 1953, due to ill health.)

Mayor S. G. Ingraham

Samuel Ingraham died September 15, 1955, following a long illness. He is buried in the churchyard of Christ Church (Episcopal) in Winnetka. Not in their renowned cremation gardens but in the oldest part of the cemetery which featured in-ground burials:

Louise Paullin Ingraham was a member of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church and the Evanston Daughters of the King, and served as a director of Canterbury House at Northwestern and on the Women's Board at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary.  She was active in the local community as a member of the Evanston Historical Society, where she once gave a lecture, and the Women's Club of Evanston.  Her community interests extended beyond Evanston as well to include membership in the Chicago Historical Society, the Mid-Western Antique Association, the Women's Republican Club of the 13th Congressional District, and the Fort Dearborn chapter of the D.A.R.

Louise Paullin Ingraham died in Lake Forest Hospital on October 18, 1990.  Here is her obituary from the Chicago Daily Tribune of October 22, 1990:

The St. Mary's chapel at St. Matthew's held special significance, because in 1950 Louise and her two sisters donated the small gothic lannon-stone chapel as a memorial to their late parents George and Mary Paullin.

Louise's obituary failed to mention that she had turned over the first shovel full of dirt for the construction of the North Shore Channel.

She is not buried at Christ Church next to her husband - she is in the Paullin family plot at Rosehill Cemetery:

The Paullin Family Plot - Rosehill Cemetery

Here is her tombstone - again nothing about her and the canal:

Louise Paullin Ingraham did not live to see it, but proponents of the canal got the last laugh.  In 1999 the North Shore Channel was named the "Monument of the Millennium" by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Louise Paullin 1923 Passport photo

Louise Elizabeth Paullin Ingraham - who turned the first shovelfull of dirt for the North Shore Channel - may she rest in peace.

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