a) Fiddle - wooden violin with attached chin rest, and 3 metal strings which are wrapped with red and blue thread at the bottom. b) Violin case - black wooden case that opens on side hinges. Case has two metal closings, metal lock and handle on the side that opens. Case is lined with brown paper and red cloth. Back of case is marked: ORIGINAL/GSB/IMPROVED. c) Violin bow - wooden violin bow has mother of pearl inlay on handle.
This fiddle was reportedly used by Mark Beaubien, an early settler of Chicago. The donor, Mrs. Hicks, is the granddaughter of Alfred Mathieu, who was the son of Louis Mathieu. Louis Mathieu was a nephew by marriage to Mark Beaubien. According to family tradition, the instrument was given to Mathieu by Beaubien around 1860.
This fiddle was reportedly owned and played by Mark Beaubien, a French Creole who moved from Detroit to Chicago in 1825. In 1829, Beaubien established the Sauganash Tavern at Wolf's Point, one of Chicago's earliest hotels and gathering places, near the fork of the Chicago River. The tavern also served as a hotel and restaurant, offering hearty food and drink, along with gambling and dancing to the lively sounds of Beaubien's fiddle. This particular fiddle, which, according to family tradition, was used by Beaubien in his later years, serves as a testament to the vivacity that Beaubien brought to Chicago's frontier era.