Urban Legend Debunked
RHS member Joel Morbito recently took issue with the claim that Beverly Hills, California was named after the Beverly Hills neighborhood. The oft-told story is that one of the Silva brothers, early real estate developers in the community, moved to Los Angeles and continued his speculative ways. It was supposedly Silva who provided the sobriquet "Beverly Hills" to the future land of movie stars in honor of his former place of residence.

To quote from the official history of Beverly Hills, CA:

"In 1906, after the oil drilling ventures of the Amalgamated Oil Company proved unprofitable, the Rodeo Land and Water Company was formed under the guidance of Burton E. Green for the development of property as a subdivision. A city was planned with wide streets of easy sweeping curves lined with palm, acacia, eucalyptus and pepper trees. It was named Beverly Hills by Green and his associates, after Beverly Farms, Massachusetts, where Green lived."

We thank Joel for this tidbit of humbling information.


Still Banks of The Ridge
by Harold T. Wolff, Registrar

Still banks, as opposed to mechanical banks, are those little banks - piggy banks, if you like, though they are not usually pigs - in which you just insert money without the intervention of a mechanical device. In mechanical banks, the clown may stick out his tongue to receive your coin, tongue and coin then retracting from the weight to allow the coin to fall into the bank; or there may be a spring-driven device to shoot the coin from one part of the bank to the slot. A still bank may have moving parts so long as they are not part of the mechanism to get money into the bank.

From 1963 until his death in 1986 the foremost modern collector of still banks was a part of our community. He was 1. Andrew Moore (1937-1986), who succeeded Arthur Baer as president of Beverly Bank in July, 1975 and retained that office until his death, March 14, 1986 at the age of 49. Mr. Moore kept his collection of banks in his North Beverly home. From there, he and his wife, Susan, published their 1984 book, The Penny Bank Book: Collecting Still Banks. (The library of Ridge Historical Society has a copy of this book, thanks to the generosity of the late Gary Sauermann.)

The Moore collection of Still Banks was mostly dispersed at auction after Mr. Moore's death and none of it came to the Ridge Historical Society. What RHS does have, however, is a small group of still banks associated with local institutions, given to the Society at various times.

Perhaps the oldest bank in the Society's collection is from the Morgan Park Trust and Savings Bank, given to RHS by David A. Ruhl in 1979. This bank is in the form of a book, is 42" high by 3-3/811 wide and one inch thick. It is made of brass, with a leather cover embossed with the bank's name. On the spine "Book of Thrift" appears at the top while VIII is at the bottom. When unlocked, it opens on hinges like a book.

Most of the other still banks in the RHS collection were issued by the Beverly State Savings Bank of Chicago, as Beverly Bank was known until 1957. Probably the oldest of these is in the form of a barrel with a maximum diameter of 2-1/811 and standing 2-3/411 high. Made of brass, it has the bank's name on the slot end. The bottom carries the message, "A coin in the barrel today starts a barrel of coin on the way

The largest of the Beverly State Bank banks in the collection is in the form of a recumbent dog, ten inches long from toes to tail, 4-3/411 wide and 5-3/4" inches high. It is of composition material, surfaced with flocking to represent fur. Its dog collar has a metal tag bearing the name of the bank. The designer gave the dog a face, half expectant,
half reproachful, looking up at the potential contributors.

We have two examples of Beverly State Bank's calendar bank. These Gerett Allcoin calendar banks were probably actually mechanical banks. One is in its original box which a carries instructions for setting the month and day on its face by putting coins in the controlling slots. The back of each of these banks bears a "conscience slot" for making up short deposits and for inserting paper money.


From Beverly Bank (as the institution has been known since 1957) RHS has an iron liberty bell bank, 3-5/811 in diameter and 4111 high. Joan Wynne Murphy says that Beverly Bank commissioned a 1/5th scale replica of the Liberty Bell from Whiteside Foundry, London, in connection with the American Bicentennial. It was issued in the early 1970s.

Ridge Historical Society also has a bank formed as a horse-drawn Chicago Tribune delivery wagon issued as a premium to new subscribers, probably in the late 1970s. It is 7"2 inches long. Lettering on the sides of the wagon tout the newpaper's "Big Thanksgiving Day Issue."

Thanks to donors like David Ruhl, the Ridge Historical
Society has these examples of still banks with local connections, only one of which was represented in the Moore collection.





Ice & Water: Chicago Before Our Time

By Paul Petraitis

What stops a glacier?

Some 20,000 years ago the Laurentide Ice Sheet, centered on Hudson's Bay, extended an icy finger southward, now called by geologists the Wisconsin lobe. This massive glacier, more than a mile high at its thickest, carved out the Lake Michigan basin, scouring the bedrock and pushing millions of tons of rock and dirt ahead of it. When the combined effects of this ever-increasing burden and ever warming temperatures began slowing the glacier as it passed the future site of Chicago 14,500 years ago, there was a major climatic shift that raised temperatures five to ten degrees in a relatively short geologic time. The mighty Wisconsin lobe began to break up, calving into small icebergs that were soon borne away by the rising waters of melted ice. The glacier gave its last gasp and deposited its burden where it stood, forming the massive Tinley Valparaiso Moraine--everywhere but here.

Our ridge was a fluke. What apparently happened was a major calving took place just east of the ridge, and a huge chunk of ice, with its share of rock and sand, just stopped there and stubbornly made the rest of the Wisconsin lobe proceed around it, pushing onward towards Palos, melting to slush.

In addition to leaving the Blue Island ridge, our glacier, in its demise, deposited thousands of boulders forming a "bowlder belt" (as geologist William C. Alden spelled it in 1902) that extended from Park Ridge south to Parvey. Referred to as "fieldstones" by early pioneers, they proved to be useful resources for building foundations or fences. Mostly they were a pain, needing to be dragged away before farming could commence.

The earliest surveyors, in the 1820s and '30s noted their presence. State Road surveyors apparently used fieldstones to mark the route of Vincennes Road in 1833-34. Only a few of these so-called "milestone markers" have been located and identified. Finding others is where Newsletter readers can help.

Send Ridge Historical Society a photograph and/or description of the big old rock or rocks on your property. Include whatever you know about them. Does such a rock delineate your property line? Does it appear to have been moved from another location? Does it have any marking carved into it?

Trail marker stones further south are reported to have markings describing how many miles to Vincennes, Indiana. We are already informed about the commemorative boulders at 92nd and Pleasant and at 112th and Lothair. Others need to be located and documented.

RHS Also solicits readers for stories about underground streams (it seems everyone has them), seasonal ponds and those mysterious deep holes found in some residential yards. They might be old wells or even cooling cellars for early breweries. Pre-pioneer history is all around us.

Ridge Historical Society Newsletter, June-July, 2001



Local Indian Lore

By Paul Petraitis

Before Mike Stachnik left Ridge Historical Society he and I began compiling facts on local Indians. Tribes associated with the Chicago/Calumet area include the Illinois, Pottawatomies, Miami, Ottawa, Chippewa (Ojibwa), Mascoutin, Fox and Winnebago. As historians tell us, Indian history and geography is confusing because they had no concept of personal property and the tribes led a peripatetic lifestyle, following game south during winter months.

Major villages, occupied nearly year around, could be found just south of St. Francis Hospital in Blue Island, at the north end of the Ridge in Dan Ryan Woods and on "Acme Bend" near 127th and Michigan Avenue. The dozens of summer camps that dotted the area were usually sited on wooded ridges.

Lest we think that history happens someplace else, it should be recalled that it was in our very neighborhood that Pottawatomie War Chief Main Poc (who had his villages south of Blue Island) assembled his "troops" here preparatory to the Ft. Dearborn massacre.

(For further reading try R. David Edmunds' epic titled The Pottawatomies: Keepers of the Fire.)

Ridge Historical Society Newsletter, April-May, 2001.



Morgan Family Initiatives Launched Community

by Paul Petraitis

The Morgans (of Upwood fame) were, at one time, the largest landholding family in southern Cook County. Only Stephen Douglas, around Lake Calumet, and the Andrews brothers, along the Calumet River east of Blue Island, came close. (The Andrews family bible is part of the Pioneer Exhibit at RHS.)

The Morgans transported the world of the English gentry to the Illinois prairie, injecting a significant element of upper class British culture to the mix of American wild west stage coach types, some merchants and German and Irish farmers that were fencing in the wilderness.

The nearest neighbor was Richard Bingle who located on the Ridge in 1842 following several years when Chicago actually lost population. The failure of many mid-western state banks had caused the so-called Panic of 1837, bringing a halt to work on much needed internal improvements like the Illinois-Michigan Canal. The Bingle house later became the William Morgan residence, and for years was located on the grounds of Mt. Olivet Cemetery before being moved to another location.

The Morgans, originally from Surrey, England (where Elton John and Eric Clapton and other gentry currently maintain substantial mansions) made their money in the diamond mines of South Africa. They had a household staff and hired a tutor for their children. They embraced the local shepherd economy with its early center in nearby Blue Island that, for a time, surpassed Chicago in the production of wool.

After draining the swamps along 95th Street and rerouting the Vincennes Road around their farm, the Morgans built a substantial stone sheepcote into the ridge to protect their flocks. None of their neighbors could afford such luxury, and the flocks of those without the means to construct a huge barn suffered poaching by wolves.

Wolf hunts, organized by the Morgan and Andrews families, pretty well rid Wolf Ridge (a wooded bluff near 115th and Racine) of these varmints by 1870. These forays resembled Surrey fox hunts. Soon all the game that had been in the area was gone. Interestingly, coyotes are currently making a comeback in the forest preserves and around Harbor Point International golf course on Lake Calumet.

(For further reading on local pioneers consult A. T. Andreas' History of Cook County, two copies of which are at Driscoll House.)

Ridge Historical Society Newsletter, April-May, 2001


Illinois and The Glaciers


Much of Illinois topography was created as a result of masses of ice covering it during four major periods of glaciation. Over ninety percent of our state was covered by as least one of these great ice sheets that moved slowly over the land, filling in river valleys and leveling the hills as a giant bulldozer might change the landscape.

Over sixty million years ago, the temperature began to fall rapidly in Illinois. Great amounts of snow began to accumulate, remaining even in the summer. Soon huge mountains of snow up to three miles high had formed. As the weight of the snow in- creased, gigantic sheets of ice began to form and to move gradually southward over the land.

Each of the major periods of glaciation was named for a state where glacial drift-clay, sand, gravel, and boulders-were left in great abundance. The first and oldest glacier to enter Illinois was called the Nebraskan, and the next was the Kansan glacier. Their deposits were obscured by the third and most important glacier, which was named the Illinoisan because it covered so much of this state. It began approximately one hundred to one hundred fifty thousand years ago and reached as far South as Harrisburg and Carbondale before it began to recede. It has pushed farther south than any other glacier in the history of North America. Only in western Illinois near Quincy is there some of the Kansan glacial drift still on the surface.The last of the great glaciers to enter Illinois was called the Wisconsinan, and covered most of the northern and eastern part of Illinois. About fifty thousand years ago, it pushed as far south as Mattoon, and receded some twenty-five thousand years later. After this last glacier melted and left an uneven layer of glacial drift, windstorms blew a thick, fertile layer of new soil over the Prairie State. This rich black topsoil, known as loess, varied in depth from two feet to one hundred feet.

Since the glacial period most of Illinois' surface is level or gently sloping with the exception of a broken, hilly ridge that crosses the southern part of the state and the rugged terrain of the northwestern corner in Jo Davies County. These two sections were not touched by the glaciers, and two other very small areas in the southwestern part of the state also were not touched (see map). The wonderfully rich, level prairie land left from the glaciers has played a major part in the development of Illinois' physical geography.

-[From Clarence Alvord, The Illinois Country, 1673-1818, pp. 17-19; Allan Carpenter, Illinois: Land of Lincoln, pp. 24-27; Robert P. Howard, Illinois: A History of the Prairie State, pp. 7-10; Federal Writers' Project, Illinois: A Descriptive and Historical Guide, pp. 9-10.]

From Illinois History Magazine



Glacial Debris

Thousands of years ago the glaciers that covered much of Illinois left deposits that were scraped from hills and valleys. Geologists call these deposits moraines.

The definition of a moraine, as given by the Encyclopedia Americana, is a "deposit of rock debris, composed of sand, gravel, or clay, made by a glacier." It later states that these materials are un-stratified, or not in layers.
The names of these moraines, or drifts, reveal their location in Illinois, for many are named for the communities built on them such as Bloomington, Shelbyville, Marseilles, LaMoille, Paw Paw, Mendota, West Chicago, Champaign. Chicago is built on glacier deposits, as are most of the other communities of Illinois.

When glaciers moved across this land, they scraped rock, sand, dirt, and other materials off the ground. They carried these along until they stopped advancing. Then they let go of them as the ice melted.

There are basically two different types of moraines: those formed on the ice itself are called lateral, medial, and ablation; those formed in front and around the edges of the glacier are called terminal, recessional, and ground.
A lateral moraine is a ridge of earth and stone scraped from valley walls or collected from avalanches on top of the ice. Where two lateral moraines meet and join, a medial moraine is formed when the ice melts and deposits its debris. The ablation moraine is a collection of soil and rocks which was frozen in the ice but was dropped to the ground as the ice melted.

A terminal moraine forms when a glacier is melting as rapidly as it is advancing; the rocks and soil freed from the melting ice settle as the water flows away. A recessional moraine is formed when a glacier pauses several times in its retreat, leaving debris in rows. Ground moraines are made of the loose debris spread smoothly over a wide area of land as the glacier advances. Most of Illinois' farmland is composed of ground moraines. The northeastern part of Illinois is largely made up of terminal moraines with some ground moraines in between.

-[From Allan Carpenter, Illinois: Land of Lincoln, p. 26; Encyclopedia Americana (1967), Vol. 19, p. 437; Illinois State Geological Survey, Geology and Mineral Resources of the Marseilles, Ottawa, and Streator Quadrangles (1942), Bulletin No. 66, p. 142 and Pleistocene Glaciations in Illinois, pp. 2, 4, 5; maps from Illinois State Geological Survey.]