Indian Hill

The main line north over Indian Hill into Winnetka was known as Church Road because of the Catholic church at Lake and Ridge. It is cut now by the railroad tracks along Green Bay Road but you can still follow the old trail along Maple Street all the way to the lake bluffs. There, at the foot of the steep hill going up to Tower Road, Erastus Patterson built a log house in 1837. He died that same year but his widow and five children ran the Patterson Tavern until they sold it to John Garland ten years later.

His son, John C. Garland, was the first to build on the sand hill later occupied by the Girton School and now by the North Shore Country Day School. Workmen digging the foundations of his house in 1870 found "skulls and bones, along with arrowheads, tomahawks and stone axes". Similar finds were made on the high ground of Indian Hill Country Club. This is from the fifty year history of the club published in 1964:

"The mound where our flagstaff is located (now the 10th tee) was a lookout station, marked on early maps as 'Indian Hill Signal Station.' This mound or knoll was undoubtedly artificially constructed by the Indians. It is very symmetrical for one thing; for another, its soil is of a different character and stratification from the surrounding soil.

"During the construction of the course, and in excavating for the club house, great quantities of relics were uncovered - spear and arrow heads, scrapers, hammers, some very fine specimens and in perfect condition. Many of the early members acquired quite a collection. A particularly fine one was owned by Edward S. Rogers, who was chairman of the Greens Committee at the time. In the first year of the Club's existence, just in walking over the course, he picked up more than a basketful of implements and weapons."

The Rogers collection was on display for many years in the club house and last seen stored there in the basement before World War II. Where now a block of houses stands between the golf club and the school ground was found an Indian cemetery. Albert Scharf quotes Joseph Sherlock of Winnetka.

"I saw the Indian Cemetery. It was upon the crest of the Sandridge which runs west of and in line with Church Street that is the ridge road coming up from Gross Point. The graves were all from Winnetka Avenue north. There were about two dozen in sight. The graves were made east and west and in rows north and south with the ridge." Scharf goes on to say "Indian bones were also dug up as late as 1902 by a plumber near Mrs Barbe's gate which is at the foot of the ridge and on the east side of the street."

Scharf also quotes Anton Clifford who anglicized his family name of Kloepfer. "In the early days the road was through our land and the Garland property on the crest of the ridge about two hundred and fifty feet west of the present Church Street and right through the Indian Cemetery which extended from Winnetka Avenue north to the south line of the present Girton School property. This part of the ridge was covered with all kinds of stone implements and weapons. Many human bones were found here."

The southeast corner of Winnetka Avenue where it deadends at Church Road is the original location of one of the oldest buildings in all of Cook County. Commonly called the Michael Schmidt cabin, no one really knows who built it or even how old it is. Some sources say 1826, others 1820. A two story log cabin with black walnut beams standing in an apple orchard, it was moved in 1919 to 1407 Tower Road when the golf club was built. It can still be seen there today. The tradition is that Winnetka artist Anita Willets Burnham sold a painting for twenty-five dollars and bought the cabin to be her home and studio.


North Shore Antiquity by John Epler