George Steel

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George Steel
Location Chicago

George Steel was a Chicago building contractor born in Forfarshire, Scotland who was a founding member of the Chicago Board of Trade who served as the third president of the exchange.[1] He followed Thomas Dyer and Charles Walker in the role.[2][3][4]


Steel came to Chicago from Scotland via Canada. He was born in Forfarshire, Scotland in 1797, one of a family of twelve sons and moved to Canada in 1828. Steel was the first President of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society in 1845.[5]

He came to Chicago in 1837, having engaged in a contract to for building a section of the Illinois & Michigan Canal. After stoppage of work on the canal, Steel became a general commission merchant in Chicago and established a pork-packing business on South Water Street.

Steel had an office and warehouse located at the foot of LaSalle Street on South Street. In 1856, a new three-story building was erected on this site and it became the first permanent home for the Chicago Board of Trade. His company built the first steam operated grain elevator in Chicago. It was capable of operating from the canal as well as the railroads. The elevator had a capacity of 100,000 bushels and was located at Franklin and River streets.

Steel served as president of the Chicago Board of Trade from 1852 to 1853. As a member of the CBOT, Steel was among the members that requested a special meeting of the CBOT board to respond to a call by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln for the mustering of 300 thousand troops for fighting in the U.S. Civil War. The CBOT member pledged to use their influence and money to recruit a batter to be known as the "Board of Trade Battery".[6][7][8]

Steel died in March of 1865 in Chicago.


  1. Chicago: Its History and Its Builders, a Century of Marvelous Growth, Volume 3. Google Books.
  2. History of Chicago: From the earliest period to the present time, Volume 1. Google Books.
  4. Annual report of the trade and commerce of Chicago for the year 1859. Chicago Board of Trade.
  5. Scottish Name List S.
  6. Report of the adjutant general of the state of Illinois. Google Books.
  7. History of the Chicago Board of Trade Independant Light Artillery.
  8. Historical sketch of the Chicago Board of Trade Battery, Horse Artillery, Illinois volunteers. University of Illinois.