Founding of Fort Dearborn
In the summer of 1803, Captain John Whistler, U. S. A., then stationed at Detroit, was ordered, with his company, to Chicago, to occupy the post and build a fort.
The soldiers were conducted by land to their destination by Lieutenant James S. Swearingen. In the U S. Schooner "Tracy," came from Detroit to the mouth of the St. Joseph River, Captain Whistler, wife and
young son, George; also his eldest son, Lieutenant William Whistler, with his young bride. This party left the schooner at St. Joseph River, and came thence to Chicago in a row boat. Mrs. William Whistler, who visited Chicago in the fall of 1875, states that on her arrival, in 1803, there were here but four cabins, or traders' huts. These were occupied by Canadian French, with their Indian wives. She mentions the names of three: LeMai, Ouilmette and Pettell. Possibly the other was the " house," mentioned by William Burnett. In the spring of 1804, John Kinzie, then residing at Bertrand, or Pare aux Vaches, near Niles, Mich., purchased the property of LeMai, and, with his wife and infant son, John H. Kinzie, came to live at Chicago. On his arrival, he immediately moved into the old cabin of Le Mai. which he gradually enlarged and improved, until, as years rolled by, it was transformed into a comfortable, hospitable home—the only home of a white settler in Chicago for many years. In this house, which stood! on the north side of the Chicago River, where it bent to the south, so that from its piazza "the Indian canoes could be seen going down and into the lake" at the foot of what is now Madison Street, Mr. Kinzie lived until late in 1827, except during the four years, from the summer of 1812 to the summer or fall of 1816—the time intervening between the destruction and rebuilding of Fort Dearborn.
Fort Dearborn, named in honor of Henry Dearborn, was a United States fort built on the Chicago River in 1803 by troops under Captain John Whistler. It was on the site of the present-day city of Chicago. The site of the fort is a Chicago Landmark and part of the Michigan–Wacker Historic District.