He Stands By The Ship

George W. Streeter Declines to Leave His Neighbors

N.K. Fairbank Wins His Suit Against the Captain, but the Latter Is Still Determined Not to Move His Shanty - He Will Stay Until the Supreme Court Orders Him Out, and Even Then He Will Defend His Belongings with His Bulldog.


 

Nathaniel K. Fairbank won his suit of forcible detainer against Capt. George W. Streeter yesterday afternoon but Capt. George W. Streeter was still detaining his shanty at the foot of Superior street last night. He intends to detain it lawfully until the Supreme Court of the State of Illinois undertakes to put him out, and then he will detain it otherwise - namely: with a shotgun, with a white bulldog and a stout heart withal.

"If the State ever puts me out," says Capt. Streeter, "I'll make the Government put the State out."

"Faith, we'll do worse nor that," said Mrs. Streeter, "we'll sit Shpot on it."

Spot is the white bulldog. If Spot ever fastens his teeth in the leg of the State of Illinois the State of Illinois will limp forever afterward. Spot lay asleep under the table in Capt. Streeter's home last night. It was thick outside and the Tribune reporter who was sent over to the North Side to talk to the bold mariner who had been fighting millionaires and is only waiting for bigger game stumbled into the cabin before he knew he had arrived. In the daytime the shanty is not so hard to find. Anybody who wants to go down to the foot of Superior street by daylight in summer can see the shanty of the Streeters and the companion shanty of Olaf Larsen. In the winter they are so deep under snow that the pieces of stovepipe which serve for chimneys are just visible. Mr. Larsen's has the street front. In fact, it has the street itself, for it projects clear out into the roadway. Capt. Streeter's is next door. It is a good-sized scow about thirty feet long. It has the ground for a foundation and it is roofed in with oak planks well-tarred by the Captain's skillful hand. There is a back porch where the prow of the scow used to be, and the front entrance, which will overlook Sheridan Drive, is reached through a hole in the stern. This is no caprice of the Captain. It is the way the boat landed when a storm rolled it ashore two years ago. That is where the story comes in.

"I've been a sailorman for twenty-five years," the Captain said last night. He was in the one living-room of the scow and his wife was frying sausage on the stove. Some friends of the Captain were sitting about smoking corncob pipes and a lamp without a chimney was also smoking. Captain Cuttle might have lived in this room. It smelled deliciously of tar and oakum, not to speak of the sausage, which was no small item, and it was hung around with yellow sou'westers and canvas jackets and long rubber boots. The dog was asleep under the chair.

"I've been a sailorman twenty-five years," said the Captain, jamming his tobacco into his pipe with his thumb, which is a trick all seamen know, "an' my name is G.W. Streeter - George W. Streeter."

"George Wellington Streeter," said Mrs. Streeter.

"But I'm no Englisher."

"'Dade ye ain't, ye'd never'v married me," said Mrs. Streeter.

"'Vast," said the Captain. "I've been a sailorman twenty-five years. I sailed the steamer Catherine to South Chicago until she went ashore at Grosse Point. I was on the Miss'ippi until I sold the boat to a man in Kans' City who never paid me."

"The thafe," said Mrs. Streeter.

"'Vast," said the Captain. "I allus live 'board a boat. I ain't used to livin' nowhere else. I built the Routan - she was sloop rigged - an' sailed her round for a sort of pleasure yacht for people till she was driv' ashore by a nor'east blow about three years ago this time. Blowed me into four feet of water and pounded me into the sand. When the wind feel I looked around me and sez I: 'I'll stop here,' I sez. I didn't have money enough to get the boat off, and I liked the location. It was ten or fifteen rods from shore an' I had a small boat to pull in an' do my tinkerin' aland. Nobody raised no objections then an' we lived quite comfortable an' easy. About two years ago there was another blow, an' one night in comes this here old tub an' stuck about one hundred an' fifty feet from shore. She was bigger'n the 'Routan,' an' I moved into her."

"More commodjous," said Mrs. Streeter.

"'Vast," said the Captain. "I put on a roof an' tarred it, an' me an' the girl lived here since. When they began to fill up the lake I didn't say nothin' until it come they had filled in for 400 feet from the old water line. Then the dudes said I had their riparian rights. They ordered me off. I wouldn't go. They asked the Health Department to fire me, an' I fired the Health Department. They sent the Harbormaster to put me off, an' that didn't work. Mr. Fairbank, he said he'd burn me down and I said I'd shoot Mr. Fairbank's whiskers off if he tried it. I would, too. Then Mr. Fairbank came in his carriage one day an' he was howlin' mad. I sez, sez I: 'Mr. Fairbank, you look here. I'm an American citizen an' you can't come no British Lord business over me.' I sez. 'An' moreover, Mr. Fairbank, you can't work no Johnny Bull on me,' sez I, 'because I was born in Michigan,' I sez, 'an' your ripearian rights is nothin' to me, Mr. Fairbank,' I sez."

"Our rights is more riper than his; more by token that we was here first," said Mrs. Streeter.


Is Going to Defend His Rights

 

"'Vast," said the Captain. "An' I'm goin' to defend my rights. I'm goin' to claim all this made land as a squatter. I'm goin' to carry it up to the Circuit Court an' to the App'late Court and to the Soopreme Court an' if the Soopreme Court tries to hist me, there's my government papers to run a boat, an' if Uncle Sam don't fight 'em off this ain't no land of freedom."

"It's unconstitootinal," said a man with earrings, rising to spit into the cookstove.

"It ain't roight," said Mrs. Streeter.

"'Vast," said the Captain, and he rose and took down from the wall a long-barreled shotgun unpleasantly loaded with ten-penny nails and aroused the dog.


He Has Aristocratic Neighbors

 

The house is situated in an aristocratic neighborhood. Many prominent men are neighbors of the Captain. From his front window he can hear the boom of the lake and see the breakers piling in shore. From his back stoop he can watch the carriages of the haughty in the distance. He has only to turn over in bed to hear the chimes of St. James. The Newberry library will stand within hailing distance of his cookstove. Moreover, the made land which he lays claim to is worth many hundreds of thousands.

No wonder he doesn't want to move.

 

[from the Chicago Tribune, Sept. 10, 1890 - page 1]


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