History of Ogden
The following articles
appeared in the Suburban Life on
Saturday, July 17, 1999. The library was granted permission to republish
well-traveled: Ogden Avenue: Lifeline to the West.
Interest on Ogden Avenue.
know Ogden, the man behind the name.
School pupils to study history
strip' still haunts Lyons
along Indian trail
a place of different worlds
Coin may be
a clue to other artifacts
Centuries ago, a
dirt path starting at a trading post on Lake Michigan led pioneers and
Native Americans to the west. The trading post would later become Fort
Dearborn and eventually, the city of Chicago. The road, after several
changes of its own, would become known as Ogden Avenue and help drive
development of the western suburbs.
A road well-traveled
Ogden Avenue: Lifeline to the west
By Joseph Sinopoli
It was the unshod hooves of horses and the moccasined feet of their owners
that set its course across the land. It began as an Indian trail, and it
would become one of the major arteries for travel from the settled east to
the wide-open spaces of the yet-to-be west suburbs. A path in the dirt, it
was later made to look like a corduroy ribbon after it was capped with
wooden planks. Then came cobblestones, which were eventually paved over
smooth as a baby's bottom so big, brassy Buicks with wings and DeSotos the
size of an ocean liner could cruise its length. Ogden Avenue, named after
the first mayor of Chicago, courses through, and in some cases provides the
center point, of numerous communities in The Suburban LIFE Citizen area.
Ogden Avenue, which is also known as Route 34 to those who like numbers more
than names, stretches all the way across the Land of Lincoln and beyond. It
begins in Chicago, crosses the state line near Burlington, Iowa, and
continues on across the Great Divide. It brushes past, or cuts right through
about 35 Illinois towns and cities, some small enough to miss with a blink
of an eye. But Ogden Avenue in The LIFE-area was more than just a road to
somewhere. It was a place, a destination for shopping, dining, dancing and
earning a living. It was a place where people would dress up and stroll its
sidewalks with their sweethearts. It was a place where people would come to
work, and in some cases where people would come to be bad for just the
evening or a half-hour. And while it may not have been paved in gold, it
once surrendered a French coin from the 1600s to a lucky treasure-seeker
with a metal detector. It supported the weight and listened to the bell of
the Chicago and West Town Trolley as it carried passengers to Morton High
School and downtown Chicago. At various times in its history, Ogden had
something for everyone. It was a place where residents could pick up dry
goods and groceries, or have repairs made at the blacksmith or the shoe
repair shop. In Lyons, a castle _ actually it was Cream City Amusement Park
once stood along its path where Cermak Pool now stands. And while no royalty
lived behind its walls, it made countless children feel like kings and
queens for a day.
would find their mate for life while dancing in the open-air pavilion of the
long-gone Silver Leaf Park at the corner of Ogden and Leland Avenue. And
when it came to popping the big question, chances are many young men chose
the elegant setting of Chateau Des Plaines with its lighted promenades,
exquisite cuisine and paved road ways, all nestled on 40 acres of
riverfront. Later, those same lovers may have stood as a couple on a fateful
Halloween night, to watch Mangam's Chateau burn to the ground. Today, young
Major League hopefuls, and many of their fathers, come to the same site to
hone their hitting skills at Stella's Batting Cages. People would roll up to
the Millbridge on Ogden and glide across its wooden floor on roller skates.
Ogden has been a place to refresh the soul as well. Several houses of
worship of different denominations took their address on Ogden in Lyons,
Brookfield and La Grange. Schools sprung up at its curbs as well. But in La
Grange, La Grange Park and Western Springs, Ogden become more of a place to
live. Frame and brick houses were built and became a home to families. From
just about Gilbert Avenue, its north side became home to wildlife, as the
Cook County Forest Preserve District established groves that would become a
Mecca for bicyclists, sledders, hikers and nature lovers. Some would argue
Ogden Avenue has seen better days, but this route west has a way of
A ride or walk
along Ogden Avenue through Riverside, Lyons, Brookfield, La Grange, La
Grange Park and Western Springs is not complete without stopping at a few
interesting sites along the way. The following are just a few of them.
Victory Lanes, 7312 W. Ogden Ave., a nearly 100-year-old building, once
home to a biplane factory, is now a six-lane bowling alley built in 1938.
Landmark sign just past former site of Neher's Tavern, 7640 W. Ogden
Ave., one of village's oldest taverns torn down more than 20 years ago. Sign
gives important dates in Lyons history.
Samec's, a circa-1930 bar and restaurant open only on Sunday afternoons two
blocks south of Ogden at 40th Street and Haas Avenue. Once in Ripley's
``Believe it or Not'' for having two bars in same building.
Cermak Park, 7601 W. Ogden Ave., former site of Cream City amusement park.
World War II cannon and eternal flame outside Water Department building,
7835 W. Ogden Ave.
Hofmann Tower, built in 1908 for George Hofmann Jr. to resemble European
castles, on Barrypoint Road just north of Ogden at Joliet Avenue.
Lyons Cave, 8110 W. Ogden Ave., tavern actually looks like a cave from the
outside. Inside once had stalactite-looking ceiling.
Plank Road Meadow at northeast corner of Ogden and First Avenue, bears one
of the early names of Ogden Avenue.
Citibank, 9009 W. Ogden Ave., an unusual blue-brick, round bank.
Colony Motel, 9232 W. Ogden Ave., 1950s-era, over-nighter and one of the few
places you can buy postcards to send to friends for 25 cents each.
Former Congress Park Community Hall, 9509 W. Ogden Ave., now a panel window
In La Grange:
Former location of Cock Robin Restaurant, now a storage barn for nearby
Aramark Services, just past overpass on south side of Ogden across from Rich
Phillips 66 service station at southwest corner of Ogden at La Grange Road,
historic looking building with just two pumps and attendants who still wash
your car windows.
Leitch farmhouse, built in early 1800s at Peck and Ogden avenues, two rooms
of original house still exist. Robert Leitch was the first person to have a
deed to land in La Grange.
In La Grange Park
Caddie Shack, 201 Dover Ave., all that is left of the former 9-hole
Edgewood Country Club Golf Course west of Brainard Avenue.
Nazareth Academy, Brainard at Ogden avenues, Catholic high school, also
former site of St. Joseph's Military Academy and Our Lady of Bethlehem
School for girls.
In Western Springs
Salt Creek Nursery, east of Wolf Road and north of Ogden Avenue, believed
to be onetime site of Woodland Indian encampment.
Bemis Woods, east and west of Wolf and north of Ogden, one of only two sites
in Cook County where you can enjoy tobogganing in the winter.
Camp Natoma, a Girl Scout cabin and camp site, once located in what is now
lush green woods north of Ogden. Cabin was active back in 1920s.
Getting to know Ogden, the man behind the name
By Kimberly Menna and James Pluta
Had the outcome
of the 1837 Chicago mayoral election been different, Route 34 may have been
known as Kinzie Avenue. But Ogden Avenue it is, named after the first mayor
of Chicago, William Butler Ogden. And more than 120 years after his death,
his last name remains in everyday use in the Chicago area. Mayor Ogden was
born in Walton, N.Y., on June 15, 1805. He planned to attend law school, but
his father's deteriorating health led him to drop out of school and take
over his father's business affairs, according to the book, Chicago's
Distinguished Citizens, published in 1881. At the age of 21, he became
involved in the mercantile business and soon after served one term in the
New York state Legislature and was a postmaster. By 1835, he had come to
Chicago after purchasing large tracts of land there and inextricably getting
involved in politics as a result. Just two years later, Ogden ran against
John Kinzie for mayor and won. Ogden set the precedent for Chicago's
reputation by his presiding over the City Council in a room in a saloon at
the southeast corner of Lake and Clark streets in Chicago, according to
information supplied by the La Grange Area Historical Society. During his
term in office, the city fell into a financial panic when a nationwide
depression hit. Ogden went against the current, riding horseback to raise
money from farmers to fund the city's first rail line, the Galena and
Chicago Union Railroad. But while the ``panic of 1837'' _ likened in modern
times to the Depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s _ crippled him, he
did not let it cripple Chicago and helped keep the city from bankruptcy. In
his life, Ogden served as president of Rush Medical College, the Galena &
Chicago Union Railroad Co., the Chicago & Wisconsin Railroad Co. and the
Chicago and Northwestern Railway. A committee headed by Ogden also saw the
adoption of the official Chicago city seal in 1837, which appropriately
characterized the period. The seal is of an infant reposing on a sea shell,
an Indian with a bow and arrow, a ship in full sail and the Latin
inscription Urbus Horto, meaning city of gardens. Ogden died Aug. 3, 1877,
five years after Route 34 was named after him. Defeated mayoral candidate
John Kinzie also wasn't forgotten however. Kinzie Avenue is a north-south
street in Chicago.
Ogden Avenue School
pupils to study history
By Kimberly Menna
fall as part of their social studies classes, first-graders at Ogden Avenue
School in La Grange will use the school's Web site to learn more about the
area and the history of the school at 501 W. Ogden Ave. Kennette Bledsoe,
learning resource center director, gathered information from the La Grange
Area Historical Society and assembled it for first-graders to comprehend.
She calls the curriculum ``It's all about Ogden.'' Part of the pupils'
assignment will be to compare the school named after Ogden Avenue in the
past to how it looks and is run today. Principal Cynthia Boudreau said
school history is highly interesting to first-graders as they begin feeling
they are a part of the school. ``This is an understandable concept, and
there is a rich history. ... We shouldn't lose it,'' Dr. Boudreau said. The
following are some of the facts collected on the Web page. In 1860, a small,
red schoolhouse was built on the prairie just west of Brainard Avenue and
north of Ogden Avenue. In 1910, Ogden Avenue School was built in the shape
of an ``H.'' It had 12 classrooms, but people were most excited that it was
heated and had drinking fountains and electricity. From 1910 to 1919, pupils
who lived farther away would catch rides at the West Lyons train station
with farmers who were picking up milk and ride on the plank road to school.
From 1920 to 1929, doctors would come to the school to examine pupils' eyes,
ears, teeth and tonsils.
My Uncle's Place,
and its promise of ``Girls, Girls, Girls,'' closed in the late 1980s.
mid-1960s through the late 1980s, Ogden Avenue through Lyons had a
reputation for raunchy bars and as a place for men to go for a good time
when they couldn't make it to Las Vegas or, say, Calumet City. Night clubs
with such names as Saints and Sinners, Bobbie and Clyde's, Gigi-a-Go-Go and
The Mineshaft, as well as strip clubs with names like Piccadilly Circus and
Michael's Magic Touch dominated the Ogden landscape. Prostitution and drug
sales flourished; gambling was a mainstay; and, as the federal government
proved in a number of trials that took down several bar owners in the late
1980s, the more seedy establishments were linked with the Chicago mob. Club
Algiers, The Petite Lounge, My Uncle's Place and Michael's Magic Touch all
saw their demise just a few years after the federal raids shut them down for
prostitution and credit card fraud. One of the most notorious of them was
Michael Russo of Riverside, owner of Michael's Magic Touch, the last bar of
its kind to remain standing into this decade. He allegedly had close ties
with organized crime and at least one former village official, who he was
accused of paying off and bribing with trips and sexual favors. Bartenders
in Lyons today, at least those who are willing to talk about the past, tell
stories about how they still do battle with customers who don't seem to
understand that Lyons is no longer ``like it used to be.'' There was the
French 75 on Harlem Avenue just off Ogden, which had a wooden cutout of a
scantily clad female dancer out front; Johnny Merola's Club Algiers on the
bend west of Joliet Avenue, which burned down after he sold it and went to
prison; the Petite Lounge where Del Russo's Deli now is at Ogden and Leland
Avenue; My Uncle's Place at Plainfield Road and Ogden; and Gigi-a-Go-Go's
where the Country Market Buffet now attracts diners. Then there was
Michael's Magic Touch, where Burger King now stands at First Avenue. The
front window of Michael's gave motorists a sneak peak of what was inside,
that is until a minister complained enough for it to be covered up. On the
same night the FBI conducted raids on the Lyons' strip clubs in August 1984,
one of the village's most notorious homicide investigations also got under
way when former Lyons Police Chief Allen Scheffelbein was found in his home
shot in the head. Police at the time called the officers' death a suicide.
But many still have their doubts. Bar opponents never spoke louder than they
did in the early to mid-1980s, when they collectively caused the naughty
bars to go away, their owners to be put away and for all bars in town to
make last call two hours earlier than they used to.
Avenue some six miles west to County Line Road, Ogden Avenue is home to
countless mom-and-pop stores, car repair shops, churches, schools, bars,
restaurants and forest preserves. But take a closer look at the beaten path,
and you will find the onetime Indian trial turned stagecoach and streetcar
route is a history book waiting to be opened. Ogden remained a meager dirt
road for decades, until it was made an 8-foot-wide plank road in 1848 to
allow voters easy access to polling places, extending from Chicago to Lyons.
Portions of the road were bricked over shortly before 1900, and it was paved
in 1920. The road sported a toll booth in the mid-1800s at what is now
Joliet Avenue. While that is long gone, some images of the past remain
undisturbed. Margaret Neher, 93, lives in the same house on Ogden in Lyons
she and her husband, Walter, moved into in 1927 _ next door to what was once
Neher's Tavern. Her house was built in 1896, and the bar was erected under
another name, Hauser's, in 1870. Neher's once hosted picnics and clam
chowder ``skilly'' parties daily in the summer, she said, adding it was one
of many picnic groves that dotted Ogden. ``I wish it was still back in those
days. It was nice back then,'' she said. ``We had a big, beautiful picnic
grove, and everybody knew each other.'' Neher's, across from Cermak Woods,
was torn down 22 years ago, but it was once the first place someone could
stop as they made their way west toward La Grange or even Naperville. In
1927, Cermak Pool was built where Cream City amusement park had opened for
business 20 years earlier. Next to Cermak Park once stood a blacksmith shop
run by early Lyons Village President George Frimmersdorf. Legend has it the
Village Hall was built nearby to make it easier on him. Keep an eye out when
viewing such landmarks; many of them reveal when they were erected. In
Brookfield, there is the Congress Park Community Hall, 9509 Ogden. Now a
panel window company, it was built in 1922, the same year ground was broke
for the town's famous zoo. Across the street was Congress Park Grill, owned
by the Brixie family. The building at 9441 Ogden was Krause's Dry Goods
store when it was erected in 1926, and the corner of Ogden and Deyo Avenue
has been home to many drug stores. One local stomping ground for teen-agers
in the 1950s and 1960s was the Brown Cow soda fountain, 8900 Ogden, now the
Brookfield Restaurant. While most Lyons and Brookfield residents did their
shopping in town over the years, many traveled by streetcar to Fifth Avenue
(now La Grange Road) in La Grange, where department and clothing stores once
reigned. ``It's kind of interesting as you pass La Grange because there used
to be nice large homes up and down Ogden, going back to when it was a dirt
road,'' said Mary Anne Sward of the La Grange Area Historical Society.
Pictures on file there show many of the large homes that were around when La
Grange was incorporated in 1879. There also are many old schools that dot
Ogden as they did generations ago, including Ogden Avenue School, built in
1910, and Nazareth Academy, where Our Lady of Bethlehem and St. Joseph
Military School used to be. ``Ogden was called the Chicago and Dixon Road,
and it was a muddy mess most of the time,'' said history buff Marilyn Faber
of La Grange Park. ``The buggies used to have a hard time driving through
here.'' Early village developer David Brainard Lyman lived in a mansion at
the intersection of La Grange and Ogden, where a Rich Port YMCA parking lot
now is. Next door was his neighbor, J.A. Philo, a onetime village treasurer.
On the northwest corner was a home that later served as an Elks Club. One of
the more interesting aspects is where Edgewood Golf Club, the predecessor to
Edgewood Valley Country Club a few miles south, was first located. The white
caddy shack for the original 9-hole golf course just west of Brainard Avenue
still stands at 201 Dover Ave. Nearby, St. Francis Xavier Church stands
between Spring and Waiola avenues where it has been since 1902. Grace
Lutheran Church on Catherine Avenue was formerly at Kensington Avenue in
what is now Grace Truth and Gospel Church built in 1889. Park Junior High
School was once part of Nazareth Academy in La Grange Park. Just as
noteworthy is the 1881 Robert Leitch farmhouse at Peck Avenue and Ogden, a
small part of which remains today. Leitch, who owned a 440-acre cattle farm,
was the first land owner in what is now La Grange. Home owner Janet Stauffer
said ever since her family moved to the Leitch house in 1981, they felt ``a
sense of responsibility'' to restore it. ``When we first came here, it was
empty and kind of spooky looking, ... but it had been so altered,
historically, there was really nothing left,'' she said, as she stood in one
of two rooms that were the front of the original farmhouse built in 1847.
``Few people know this was the first house around here,'' she said. ``There
is a real sense of history here.'' Just steps away, Cook County's Salt Creek
Nursery appears off-limits to passers-by, but neighborhood joggers know it
as one of only a few pristine farmlands left in the area. The nearly 90-acre
grove north of Ogden at Howard Avenue is home to a watchman's residence and
nursery. What few people know is the land was once a Girl Scout campground
in the 1920s and home to the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. And
it has only been 41 years since the Tri-State Tollway was built between
Western Springs and Hinsdale. ``There were a couple of little gin mills out
there on the north and south side of Ogden right where the expressway goes
through now,'' said Ted Sward, 70, of La Grange Park. The land near the
Interstate 294 was once an open, often swampy, field, according to Sward,
who lived on nearby Garden Avenue from 1928 until 1965. ``We always called
that area the no-man's land,'' Sward said. ``When I was in high school, I
used to get up early and hunt pheasants and rabbits out there.''
`Old' Ogden a place of different worlds
By Deanna C. White
In the early
1900s, Mangam's Chateau was among the glitzy restaurants in the area.
When Betty Pletcher was a little girl growing up on Barrypoint Road in
Riverside, life was comfortable and familiar. But on the other side of the
river, near the southwest corner of Ogden and Harlem avenues there was
another life, surrounded by a tall wooden fence, designed to create a gulf
between the community and its exotic open secret. Pletcher wasn't supposed
to see into the gypsy camp in the forest preserve, but she could imagine
what it looked like. She could envision the dark-eyed women stitching their
bright dresses from the material she saw them purchase in local stores. She
still could see the flicker of their campfires under the canopy of trees.
``The fence only made me want to look more,'' Pletcher remembers. If you ask
the people who grew up in the towns along one of Chicago's most infamous
crossroads in the early 1900s, they'll tell you Ogden Avenue always was like
that. Depending on where the traveler stopped, depending on which fence they
peaked behind, from glamorous nightclubs to bawdy barrooms, from elegant
women's clubs to houses of ill-repute, Ogden always offered a glimpse into
an outlandish, enticing world. Today, the physical evidence of those
parallel universes has faded behind a conforming facade of fast-food
restaurants and gasoline stations, but those worlds still exist in the minds
of people who remember their adventures along the former wooden plank road.
People who lived along the easternmost strip of Ogden, where it winds its
way along the back lip of Riverside and through the heart of Lyons and
Brookfield, remember a street that was alternately cosmopolitan or coarse
depending on which doorstep one stopped at.
The glamorous life
In many people's minds, one of the most sophisticated spots along Ogden
Avenue was Mangam's Chateau in Lyons. At this urbane outpost in the western
suburbs, people could dine on lobster while listening to the Jimmy Dorsey
orchestra or sip cocktails while Two-Ton Baker took requests at the piano
bar. Lifetime La Grange Park resident Marilyn Watts said the Mangam's was
the type of elegant nightclub people could normally only find in Chicago.
``There were no blue jeans and sweat shirts,'' she said of the couples who
would pull out their finest attire to carouse at the club. ``This was a very
glamorous treat.'' John Leslie of Riverside was one of the few who had the
chance to see the elegant supper club behind the scenes. A music teacher
during the day, the pianist made extra money gigging with area orchestras on
the weekends. ``Mangam's was really a fabled place,'' Leslie said. ``The
owner had a display case up front where she used to keep unclaimed jewelry.
It looked just like Tiffany's.'' But the job that gave Leslie an backstage
view of the glamorous life also gave him an inside view of the other
societies that frequented Ogden Avenue clubs. Leslie says he'll never forget
the night he got a last-minute call to play a private party in a restaurant
where the Old Country Buffet now stands in Lyons. ``There used to be this
smoky circular dining room with tables ringing the room,'' Leslie said.
``When I walked in, all the women looked like gangster's molls, and the men
were all chewing cigars. ... It was like something out of a Damon Runyon
The other side of the tracks
Pletcher, who lived in Riverside from 1919 to 1943, said Mangam's and the
19th Hole were the only nightclubs she ever frequented but added she had her
fair share of distant exposure to Ogden's saloon trade. As a little girl,
Pletcher lived near a Riverside business that employed most of its workers
from nearby Lyons. She and her sister used to watch the men toddle home past
her front porch after a few post-work beers. The men frightened Pletcher's
sister, but her father told her to take a practical approach to the
nuisance. ``He used to tell her, `Don't worry. If they bother you, just poke
them and they'll fall over,''' she said. Pletcher also remembers a certain
ramshackle roadhouse set back from the street in Lyons. She never saw any of
``Sophie's'' ladies enter or leave the building, but then again she wasn't
allowed near the ``house of ill-repute.''
Despite its wild reputation, people who grew up along Ogden remember
there were many places to seek out innocent fun as well. For generations
before they were boarded up, children played in the tunnels left by the
Mueller's Brewery just east of the Des Plaines River and swam in the ``can
of worms'' that was Cermak Pond in Lyons. Watts spent her high school days
in the 1940s ballroom dancing on roller skates at the Millbridge Roller Rink
in Lyons. One memory that all denizens of Ogden seem to cherish, regardless
of where they lived along the strip, are trips on the Chicago and West Town
Railway Trolley's, which ran from La Grange to Cicero. Brookfield resident
Helen Hora said every car on the ``Tunerville Trolley'' had its own potbelly
stove to keep passengers warm. Mary Erskin of Riverside also remembers
taking the trolley to Eight Corners in Brookfield. ``It was really lovely in
the spring, jogging along through the forest preserve with the flowers in
bloom,'' Erskin said. ``But if (the trolley) jumped the tracks, you were
Country cousins to the west
People who grew up in communities like La Grange and La Grange Park say
the Ogden Avenue they remember was a country cousin to Lyons' commercial
strip. Flo Mae Dickson, whose father designed Ogden Avenue School in La
Grange, said she can remember traveling down the country road in a hack, a
taxi with fringe around the top, in the days when the Cossitts and Kemmans
still were fighting over which family first settled the area. Dickson of
Western Springs and her friends used to frequent a ``lovely little city
club'' near the grounds of the Edgewood Country Club, which stretched from
today's Nazareth Academy site almost as far north as 31st street, she said.
``It was very elegant,'' Dickson said. ``There was a private club with
bowling and pool, and women used to have their weekly lunches there.'' Watts
said even as late as the 1940s, as one traveled west along Ogden, the
commercial strip tapered off into the an open country road edged with
The Lincoln connection
In fact, she said she remembers as a little girl a low, two-story brick
building on the south side of the street near the Graue Mill on York Road.
Rumor has it a young Abraham Lincoln used to stay there while traveling
Ogden Avenue between Chicago and Springfield. In the true spirit of Ogden,
the building underwent several retail incarnations. First it became the
Green Shutter Tea Room and then a fried chicken restaurant called the Last
Word. Watts said she doesn't think the building is still there today, but
there are many anonymous places like it along the ``new'' Ogden Avenue just
waiting for someone to nick the surface and peel back the layers of their
story on the strip.
Former La Grange
resident Brian Bardy believes the 1669 coin he came across on Kensington
Avenue near Ogden Avenue may be evidence of other French artifacts to be
found in the area.
Ever since Brian
Bardy found some 500-year-old Indian Woodland pottery washed up along Salt
Creek behind Our Lady of Bethlehem School in La Grange Park in 1979, he has
been unearthing all kinds of area history of the people who walked here
centuries before us. The former La Grange resident and local archaeologist
has been spending the past three years doing research on a 330-year-old,
French copper ``jeton'' coin found just steps away from Ogden Avenue along
Kensington Avenue in La Grange. He hopes he someday will be able to tell
more about the coin than just its value. Bardy, 39, who has investigated
historic sites along the Illinois and Michigan Canal and on a historic Lyons
Township High School-owned parcel in Willow Springs, has done all of his
field work through Northwestern University, Evanston. He believes his latest
``find'' is one of the most vital so far. The coin he has researched, dated
1669, is so rare and scarce, it probably dates back to the Colonial period
of the late 1600s and 1700s, he said. The royal token has an image of King
Louis XIV's wife, Marie-Therese on one side and a setting sun and rolling
French countryside on the other. It is larger than a Washington quarter and
in good condition. In 1996, other area residents unearthed Indian head
pennies dating back to the early 1900s, and Bardy himself found an old brass
coat button he traced to the 1920s. But nothing he knows of was older than
the French coin. ``It's a copper jeton, a coin that was used for counting
actual currency that the French used. It was a part of their accounting
system and how they handled their monetary transactions,'' Bardy said. Now
Bardy, who holds a bachelor's degree in anthropology from Indiana
University, is hoping to get village approval to conduct a university-led,
privately funded excavation of a small section of undisturbed parkway where
the coin was unearthed to see if he can find any other traces of
non-metallic artifacts that may connect it to the French Colonial period.
Although his concept was endorsed by the La Grange Area Historical Society
this spring, it has yet to receive Village Board approval. ``I have a
feeling there were a lot of trails back in those days. Ogden was a trail
many years ago, and when I looked at the government land office maps, ...
that whole area would have made a good location to run through.'' Bardy is
convinced the coin was likely dropped by a French trader, missionary or
soldier. ``I have a feeling very few of these coins could have fallen into
the hands of Indians,'' he said. ``It probably fell out of the pocket of a
French explorer or trader or Jesuit missionary. ``Every site I've researched
were Colonial period sites where Europeans made contact with Native
Americans. And there were a lot of French in the area at this time.''