Frank Grover

"In the early days of Evanston, and even as late as 1870, had any curio hunter climbed the farm fence that then ran east and west in what is now Greenleaf Street and carefully examined the ground bounded at the present time on the South by Lee Street; on the East by Sheridan Road and on the West by Michigan Avenue he would have found scattered over about an acre of ground, among the gravel that lay close to the surface, quite a deposit of flints, large and small, and a close inspection would have disclosed that some red man of the stone age or some later time had been there engaged into chipping some of these flints into arrow and spear heads."

This is how Frank Grover described a favorite childhood activity in a paper presented to the Evanston Historical Society in 1901. The artifacts of previous inhabitants were found everywhere and in some places in great abundance. Up until 1910 anyone with interest and effort or plain ready cash could accumulate a large collection of axes, arrow points, and spear heads. They still turn up today where the earth is turned during construction, landscaping, and gardening.

Frank Grover was a noted collector and local historian with a special interest in prehistoric antiquities. He was an attorney and as first corporation counsel for the city of Evanston wrote many of the local laws and ordinances. He rallied resistance to the repeated attempts around 1900 to annex Evanston to the city of Chicago. Grover attained brief national notice in 1912 when he identified Indian Hill in Winnetka as the site of Guardian Angel Mission, first recorded European settlement at Chicago. It was controversial and few others agreed with him. Location of the mission is still in dispute, no one knows for sure where it was.

Frank Grover helped organize the Evanston Historical Society and is given credit for first proposing the idea in a letter to the local newspaper in 1897. It was a time when the original settlers had reached advanced age and few remained to tell first hand what life was like sixty years before. Much of the written record we have of that time was collected and preserved by Grover and other members of the historical society.


Evanston Antiquity by John Epler