History of Lorenzo D. BradyHistory of Lorenzo D. Brady

History of Lorenzo D. Brady

Imagine standing on your front porch at North Lincoln Avenue and Spring Street in Aurora, watching puffing steam engines come and go at the foot of the Spring Street hill–and saying to yourself, “Well, I did the spade work that made all of this possible.” For a long time, Lorenzo D. Brady could do just that, as he looked down the Spring Street hill, 30 plus years before the railroad elevation was put in and even before the Spring Street viaduct was built.

For years he could look down the hill from his big frame house, gone now but imposing on its corner for more than 75 years, and see the railroad shops just north of Spring Street and the red brick passenger and freight station south of Spring Street. Lorenzo D. Brady was the Kendall County storekeeper-turned-state-legislature who authored the charter for a railroad to run from Aurora to Turner Junction, now called West Chicago, and he persuaded his fellow state legislators to pass the charter so some hopeful railroad builders could get going. Brady introduced a bill to charter the Aurora Branch Railroad on Jan. 25, 1849, and Gov. Augustus French signed it Feb. 12, 1849.

Brady was born in New Castle, N.Y., on Jan. 19, 1810. The family moved to New York City and by the time Lorenzo was 19 (in that day of young men) he had bought a grocery store. In 1837, the year McCarty’s Mill, Ill., was getting its new name of Aurora, Brady and his wife of a year, Susannah, sold out and came west. They bought 700 acres of farmland in Big Rock Township, Kane County, and lived business beckoned again. Brady formed a partnership with George E. Peck to run a general store in Little Rock, Kendall County. After Peck’s death, Brady carried on the business until 1848 when Aurora beckoned.

In the fall of the same year he moved to Aurora, Brady ran for a seat in the Illinois Legislature and was elected. The stockholders of the new little railroad- to-be made Brady a director of their company for his work in getting a charter. Like many a new business, the Aurora Branch Railroad had to make do with some shortcuts and compromises. For lack of cash, the new little railroad bought some obsolete flat strap rails from the Buffalo and Niagara Railroad. The directors and ordered a locomotive and some cars but neither arrived by the time the rails were down between Batavia and Turner Junction, so the owners had to borrow a wood-burning locomotive, “The Pioneer,” and some cars to meet their kick-off date of Sept. 2, l850. The first train out of Aurora sounded its whisle at 7 a.m. on Oct. 21, 1850, and sped to Batavia (top speed 25 mph), then to Turner Junction and on in to Chicago over the rails of the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad, arriving at 11 a.m. Aurora railroad historian Carl O. Hendricksen, who worked for the “Q” for 49 years, said the new little railroad had it first strike on May 1, 1850, before the junkyard-salvaged rails ever even got to Aurora.

The track-laying crew said the 75 cents a day they were getting wasn’t enough, but settled their differences when the company came up with a 12 and half cents-a-day raise. (The Chicago Historical Museum has “The Pioneer,” bright and shiny and just as exciting as it must have been to the Aurorans of 1850.) Brady entered into a partnership with E.R. Allen and opened a store at the north east corner of Broadway and Main Street (now East Galena Boulevard). The partnership ended a few years later and Brady sold his store business in 1871. Brady turned to other interests like the Aurora Fire Insurance Co. which lost heavily in the Great Chicago Fire of that same year but paid its liabilities at the rate 47 cents on the dollar.

He was a stockholder and director of the First National Bank when it was organized, a director of the Aurora national for a time and is credited with being the first to suggest the erection of Aurora’s Civil War memorial building.

He served for many years as an East Side school trustee, which resulted in the L.D. Brady School 600 Columbia St. being named in his honor. He served Aurora as president of its board of trustees before it was chartered as a city in 1857, was chairman of the first Congressional Republican convention held in Illinois in l854 (where many claimed the Republican Party was first named) and 1880 was elected mayor for one term.

Brady’s wife, Susannah, died in l844, leaving no children. He married Caroline Kennon on Feb. 20, l845, and raised a family of five children. Caroline died in l883 and Lorenzo died Feb. 27, l892, with a list of accomplishments few could match.

History of Lorenzo D. Brady

Imagine standing on your front porch at North Lincoln Avenue and Spring Street in Aurora, watching puffing steam engines come and go at the foot of the Spring Street hill–and saying to yourself, “Well, I did the spade work that made all of this possible.” For a long time, Lorenzo D. Brady could do just that, as he looked down the Spring Street hill, 30 plus years before the railroad elevation was put in and even before the Spring Street viaduct was built.

For years he could look down the hill from his big frame house, gone now but imposing on its corner for more than 75 years, and see the railroad shops just north of Spring Street and the red brick passenger and freight station south of Spring Street. Lorenzo D. Brady was the Kendall County storekeeper-turned-state-legislature who authored the charter for a railroad to run from Aurora to Turner Junction, now called West Chicago, and he persuaded his fellow state legislators to pass the charter so some hopeful railroad builders could get going. Brady introduced a bill to charter the Aurora Branch Railroad on Jan. 25, 1849, and Gov. Augustus French signed it Feb. 12, 1849.

Brady was born in New Castle, N.Y., on Jan. 19, 1810. The family moved to New York City and by the time Lorenzo was 19 (in that day of young men) he had bought a grocery store. In 1837, the year McCarty’s Mill, Ill., was getting its new name of Aurora, Brady and his wife of a year, Susannah, sold out and came west. They bought 700 acres of farmland in Big Rock Township, Kane County, and lived business beckoned again. Brady formed a partnership with George E. Peck to run a general store in Little Rock, Kendall County. After Peck’s death, Brady carried on the business until 1848 when Aurora beckoned.

In the fall of the same year he moved to Aurora, Brady ran for a seat in the Illinois Legislature and was elected. The stockholders of the new little railroad- to-be made Brady a director of their company for his work in getting a charter. Like many a new business, the Aurora Branch Railroad had to make do with some shortcuts and compromises. For lack of cash, the new little railroad bought some obsolete flat strap rails from the Buffalo and Niagara Railroad. The directors and ordered a locomotive and some cars but neither arrived by the time the rails were down between Batavia and Turner Junction, so the owners had to borrow a wood-burning locomotive, “The Pioneer,” and some cars to meet their kick-off date of Sept. 2, l850. The first train out of Aurora sounded its whisle at 7 a.m. on Oct. 21, 1850, and sped to Batavia (top speed 25 mph), then to Turner Junction and on in to Chicago over the rails of the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad, arriving at 11 a.m. Aurora railroad historian Carl O. Hendricksen, who worked for the “Q” for 49 years, said the new little railroad had it first strike on May 1, 1850, before the junkyard-salvaged rails ever even got to Aurora.

The track-laying crew said the 75 cents a day they were getting wasn’t enough, but settled their differences when the company came up with a 12 and half cents-a-day raise. (The Chicago Historical Museum has “The Pioneer,” bright and shiny and just as exciting as it must have been to the Aurorans of 1850.) Brady entered into a partnership with E.R. Allen and opened a store at the north east corner of Broadway and Main Street (now East Galena Boulevard). The partnership ended a few years later and Brady sold his store business in 1871. Brady turned to other interests like the Aurora Fire Insurance Co. which lost heavily in the Great Chicago Fire of that same year but paid its liabilities at the rate 47 cents on the dollar.

He was a stockholder and director of the First National Bank when it was organized, a director of the Aurora national for a time and is credited with being the first to suggest the erection of Aurora’s Civil War memorial building.

He served for many years as an East Side school trustee, which resulted in the L.D. Brady School 600 Columbia St. being named in his honor. He served Aurora as president of its board of trustees before it was chartered as a city in 1857, was chairman of the first Congressional Republican convention held in Illinois in l854 (where many claimed the Republican Party was first named) and 1880 was elected mayor for one term.

Brady’s wife, Susannah, died in l844, leaving no children. He married Caroline Kennon on Feb. 20, l845, and raised a family of five children. Caroline died in l883 and Lorenzo died Feb. 27, l892, with a list of accomplishments few could match.