History of Will County, Illinois

Wm. LeBaron, Jr., & Co.,

First Ball

Mrs. Kinzie, in her "Waubun," gives an account of a ball on Hickory Creek, in 1831.  She does not tell us at whose house it was held, but we have ascertained that it was at Mr. Friend's.*  Three out of the five single gentlemen, then resident at Chicago, came down to this ball on horseback, of course.  One or two of them were officers  from the Fort.  Parties of this kind were not very frequent, the guest had to be collected from great distances, and consequently they were somewhat prolonged.  This one opened with a sumptuous repast at noon, at which every lixury which the country then afforded was dispensed in profusion.  As the art of printing had not then been introduced into this region, we have no menu of the feast, but we know what the possibilities of the time were.  The piece de resistance was undoubtedly a haunch of venison roasted, which might have been supported with fried bacon and prairie chickens.  The entrements might have been pumpkin pie, crab-apple sauce, or stewed wild plums, and the fruit was probably melons and wild grapes.  There was, also, no doubt, an abundant supply of corn dodgers, saleratus biscuit and wild honey.  The ball opened at 2 o'clock, and was kept up, with a short recess for supper, until the next morning.  But the gay scene was terminated by a tragedy.  The Chicago gentlemen, it is presumed, were more stylishly dressed and put on city airs, and were so agreeable and forward in their attentions to the country belles that the native beaux were eclipsed and compelled to take back seats.  The Chicago bloods were highly elated with the manner in which they carried off the favors of the girls.  Their satisfaction was, however, greatly dampened on dicovering, when they got out their fine horses, iiin the early dawn, preparatory to their return, that by some strange visitation they (the horses) had lost their manes and tails.  

* In "Forty Years Ago," we hazarded the conjucture that it was probably at Kerchival's.  We are glad of this opportunity to make the correction, not only because we desire to be correct and reliable historian, but because we wish to do justice to both the families named.  On the one hand, Mrs. Kerchival was, we are glad to say, a very religious wooman, and would not be likely to encourage a ball; and, on the other, Mr. Friend and family should not be deprived of the honor of being the first to plant the institution in Will County.  We do not suppose that they ought to be held responsible for the melancholy denouement.

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