View All Posts

Apr 20

Lawton's Tavern

Posted on April 20, 2023 at 11:36 AM by Amy Downing

The book "Riverside Then and Now" mentions a story told by Juliette Kinzie in her book "Wau-Bun". Mrs. Kinzie traveled with her husband, John, from Fort Winnegabo to Fort Dearborn in March 1831. They traveled in harsh weather on horseback, relying on the kindness of settlers and Indians along the way. 
 During their travels, they stopped across the frozen Aux Plaines River (called DesPlaines River today) from Lawton's Tavern in what is now Riverside. Mr. and Mrs. Kinzie shouted to attract attention, and finally, a man appeared from the building. It was Cole Weeks, the manager in charge when Lawton was away. Mr. Weeks cut through the ice to bring a canoe to the Kinzies to ferry them to the tavern. 
 Mrs. Kinzie describes Lawton's house as warm and comfortable. However, Mrs. Lawton complained to Mrs. Kinzie about how lonely she felt living in the woods and that this was unexpected when she agreed to move west with her husband. Mrs. Kinzie wondered privately what Mrs. Lawton expected to find in the wild, unsettled country! The Kinzies spent the night at Lawton's house and continued the following day to their destination.  
Lawton's Tavern was successful thanks to a steady stream of pioneers like the Kinzies and other settlers from the South. When the first stagecoach was created in 1834, it ran by Lawton's Tavern, increasing business even more. The Riverside area quickly became an oasis for travelers heading west.  
The exact location of Lawton's Tavern is unknown, but it could have been near the intersection of Barrypoint and Millbridge Roads, which is pictured here. 

Possible Site of Lawtons Tavern