One of the founders of the Union Stock Yards & Transit Company and prominent Chicago businessman.
1825-1902 | Artist: Robert Wadsworth Grafton (1876-1936)
Impact & Accomplishments
Details in John B. Sherman’s biography are difficult to substantiate, since historical documents about Chicago’s earliest stockyard operations are often conflicting. Sherman, born near Beekman, New York, was drawn to California during the Gold Rush of 1849. Upon his return to the east, he observed what seemed to be endless opportunity and land in the Midwestern United States, so he settled on a farm near Chicago.
In 1855 or 1856, he became involved in one or two of the stockyard businesses that are credited as Chicago’s first, the Myrick yards, the Bull’s Head Stockyards, and/or perhaps, the Burlington & Quincy Railroad stockyards. In 1865, Sherman played a major role in consolidating all of the city’s competing yards into one enterprise, the Union Stock Yards and Transit Company.
In the earliest years, John Sherman was vice president, general manager, and director of the company, as it transformed swamp land into a major railroad hub, the world’s largest livestock market, and a multifaceted center for meat processing. He eventually became the company president.
As a member of Chicago’s South Park Commissioners, John B. Sherman helped found the city park system, and Sherman Park is named in his honor. He also helped launch the career of architect Daniel Burnham, who married Sherman’s daughter.
Did You Know?
A view of the Union Stockyard Gate, Chicago. According to the City of Chicago’s Chicago Landmark website, ‘The limestone steer head over the central arch is traditionally thought to represent “Sherman,” a prize-winning bull named after John B. Sherman, one of the founders of the Union Stock Yard and Transit Company.
John B. Sherman House, 2100 S. Prairie Avenue; designed by Burnham & Root (1874).
Daniel Burnham designed the home of John B. Sherman, one of the founders of the Union Stock Yard. Burnham met and then married Sherman’s daughter as a result of this commission. Down the line, he eventually lived in the mansion he’d designed.