Past and Present of Will County, Illinois
By W. W. Stevens
President of the Will County Pioneers Association
Assisted by an Advisory Board,
consisting of Hon. James G. Elwood, James H. Ferriss,
William Grinton, Mrs. Kate Henderson and A. C. Clement
Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Dedicated to the Pioneers of Will County
DEATH OF LOVEJOY.
In 1837 occurred the tragedy at Alton, resulting in the death of "the first martyr to liberty," Elijah P. Lovejoy. He was born in Albion, Kennebec county, Maine, November 9, 1802. At the age of twenty-one he entered Waterville College, and after graduating removed to St. Louis. A year or two later he became editor of the St. Louis Times, and advocated the election of Henry Clay to the presidency. In 1833 he issued the first number of the St. Louis Observer, a religious newspaper. In his new labors as editor, he incurred the ill-will of the Catholic Church, by some articles he wrote, opposing the laying of the corner stone of a Catholic Church on Sunday. From that expression of opinion, regarding what he termed the desecration of the Sabbath with "processions, firing of guns and unseemly displays," came the persecutions that afterward followed the man, and finally terminated in his death. His opponents characterized him as an abolitionist, and charged that all his outspoken expressions regarding the Catholics, came from his bitter opposition to slavery. So bitter was the feeling against him in St. Louis that he was compelled to remove his paper and printing establishment to Alton, and it arrived there July 21, 1836. It was on Sunday when the press reached its destination, and Mr. Lovejoy proposed to leave it on the wharf until Monday. That night a mob went to the wharf, broke the press into pieces and threw it into the river. A new press was obtained, and for nearly a year he published his paper with varying fortunes, but a mob entered his office, destroyed the press and threw it, with the type, into the river. He had been frequently warned as to what course he should pursue in the publication of his paper, but he being a free-born citizen, contended "free speech" was his natural free-born right, and continued in his course without the least swerving from the course he had adopted. A new press was ordered, but when it arrived, it was broken up by the mob and consigned to the river with its predecessors. A fourth press was then ordered and the mob openly defied. The press arrived and was stored temporarily in a stone warehouse, and sixty of the citizens of the town volunteered to defend it. On November 7, 1837, a demand was made for the press and the demand denied. One of the mob attempted to climb a ladder with a torch to set the roof of the warehouse on fire, but was shot by one of the defenders. Soon after Lovejoy went out of the building to see that no more such attempts were made, and was shot by the mob, five bullets entering his body. The guard having lost their leader, then surrendered the press and it soon followed its three predecessors into the bed of the Mississippi river. Thus ended the first tragical fight against the institution of slavery, and the first victim to fall was Elijah P. Lovejoy, but he was not the last to fall in the cause by many thousands.
An act for the construction of the canal from the lakes to the Illinois river, at La Salle, was passed, and $500,000 appropriated to commence work, but as we shall treat of that great work in a separate article, we will forbear writing of it at this time.
An act was passed at the same session for a general system of internal improvements. This was such an extravagant measure that Governor Duncan refused to give it his approval, but the Legislature passed it over his head, and it became a law. $10,250,000 was appropriated, all of which ultimately proved a total loss to the state, as not one of the works was ever completed. Among the works projected were nine railroads, while nearly every river of any size in the state was included in the bill to be improved.
Thomas Carlin was inaugurated governor of Illinois in 1838. His policy was to foster internal improvements in every way possible. Bonds to the amount of $12,000,000 had been issued by the state for the improvements voted at the last Legislature, but as no interest was paid on them, they were soon of little value, and the work ordered had been commended, but it was found impossible to carry it on and so it was abandoned. Mr. Edward Smith, a member of the House from Wabash was chairman of the committee on internal improvements, and he portrayed in glowing colors the great benefits that would accrue to the state to carry forward the grand system, of improvements as begun and contemplated, and such was the hold his report had upon the members that they were ready to vote for any amount required to carry forward every work asked for in the state. The Illinois and Michigan canal was not included in the mad schemes, and the work on that proceeded without delay. Mr. Smith died before the next meeting of the Legislature, and with him died all the grand improvements contemplated by him.
In the year 1839 a sect settled in Hancock county, on the east bank of the Mississippi river, and started a town, which they named Nauvoo. They called themselves Mormons or Latter-Day Saints. Their leader, Joseph Smith, claimed to have found some golden tablets or plates, with inscriptions upon them; that he was directed by an angel he called Maroni where to find the plates and how to translate the inscriptions. The Mormons first settled in Independence, Iowa, but their conduct there was such that they were driven out by the authorities, when they removed to and settled in Hancock county. Here they soon got into trouble with the Gentiles, as they called all outside of their sect, or church, which soon after culminated in what is known in history as the "Mormon war," and the death of Joseph Smith and his brother Hiram.
In 1840 the Legislature granted a charter to Nauvoo, with full powers to organize its militia into a Nauvoo legion, establish courts of justice, and elect all necessary officers. Under the charter, Joseph Smith was elected mayor in 1842.
On December 8, 1842, Thomas Ford was duly inaugurated governor, and his first duties were to look after the Mormons. They had become exceedingly arrogant and offensive to the rest of the people in the county, so much so as to have the citizens call upon the governor to suppress them or drive them from the state. The city council in Nauvoo passed an ordinance that if any person should try to arrest any of its citizens on foreign writs, the offender should be imprisoned for life, and should not be pardoned by the governor, unless the mayor of Nauvoo consented. The act practically amounted to the setting up of a separate government within the limits of the state. Other acts equally as notorious and illegal were enacted by the council and mayor, and were attempted to be enforced.
The governor visited the place, and finding that the affairs of the city were even worse than he had been informed of, he ordered arrests to be made, and Joseph Smith and his brother Hiram were arrested and lodged in jail in Carthage, the county seat. After Governor Ford had left, a mob was organized and broke into the jail, and Hiram Smith was killed at the first fire, and soon after, Joseph, the so-called prophet. Brigham Young was elected as successor to Joseph Smith, and hostilities between the Mormons and Gentiles continued as before. But the governor and the leader of the Mormons entered into an agreement in the winter of 1845, by which they agreed to leave there the spring following. During the winter they made the arrangements to leave, and about the middle of May following, sixteen thousand Mormons left Nauvoo for the west, and finally settled in the valley of the Great Salt Lake, where they have since remained.
THE MEXICAN WAR.
It was during Governor Ford's administration that war was declared by the government against Mexico. The people of that little republic, after centuries of servitude and misrule under the Spanish yoke, in 1822, under the leadership of Santa Anna, threw off that yoke and declared their independence. The nation struggled along for the next two decades, with contested rulers, styled presidents, each one endeavoring to outdo the other in the role of dictator. Texas, which was a part of the Republic until 1836, declared its independence of the mother country, and in 1837 was recognized by this country as a Republic, and then by Belgium, France and England. Mexico attempted to regain Texas, but was defeated. In 1845 Texas was annexed to the United States. That Mexico resented, and the result was a war between the two countries. The claim of $6,000,000 which this country had against Mexico, and which that country had acknowledged and agreed to pay, but afterward refused, was in part, also a cause in the declaration of hostilities. In that war, one hundred thousand men volunteered for service, of which Illinois furnished in all, eight regiments. Mexico was badly punished for his delinquencies, for in the treaty of peace she relinquished all sovereignty over New Mexico, Arizona and upper California.
THE CONSTITUTION OF 1848.
On December 9, 1846, Augustus C. French was inaugurated governor. A proposition had been submitted to the people for a call of a constitutional convention, and the vote was largely in favor of such a call. A special election of delegates was called for the third Monday in April, 1847, and these were to meet at Springfield on the first Monday of June following. The delegates met in convention at the time set by the call, and on August 31, of that year, finished its labors. The constitution, as made by the convention, was submitted to the people at an election held March 6, 1848, and was ratified by a large majority.
Governor French was re-elected in 1848, and re-inaugurated January 8, 1849. The population of the state in 1850 was 851,470.
THE ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD.
In 1851 the Illinois Central Railroad was incorporated. Congress had the year previous granted lands for the construction of a railroad from Chicago to Mobile, and the act of the Legislature authorized the construction of a road from the southern terminous of the canal at La Salle to a point at the city of Cairo, with branches. The act of Congress gave alternate sections of land for six miles in width, upon each side of the road, to aid in the building of it. A company was formed that agreed to build the road within the time limited, and agreed to give seven per cent of its gross earnings to the state for the benefit of common schools. The seven hundred miles of road was completed before the close of the year 1856, and thus two and one-half millions of wild lands became homes of thousands of actual settlers.
Joel A. Matteson was inaugurated governor in January, 1853. It was during his administration that the great political changes took place, not only in the state, but in the country at large. The old Whig party ceased to exist at the defeat of General Scott in 1852, and in 1856 the great Republican party sprang into existence. It was defeated that year, but in 1860 it rallied in its strength and won the battle with a good majority.
The history of the state under the administration of Governor Matteson was that of unexampled prosperity. The financial depressions that had for years hung over it and greatly hindered its development and progress were swept away, and the state came to the front as one of the most favored and prosperous of all the great states of the Union.
William H. Bissell succeeded to the office of Governor, January 12, 1857. He was a veteran of the Mexican war and a man of integrity and ability. It was during his administration that a new penitentiary was ordered to be built in the northern part of the state. Three commissioners were appointed, one of them being the late Hon. Nelson D. Elwood, of Joliet. These were to select the place for the new prison and take charge of its erection. Joliet was the place selected. Governor Bissell died at Springfield, March 18, 1860, and John Wood, the lieutenant governor, filled out the unexpired term.
The population of the state in 1860 was 1,711,951.
DOUGLAS AND LINCOLN.
In 1854 Stephen A. Douglas, then a United States Senator from Illinois, advocated and brought about the repeal of the Missouri compromise. This was an act passed by Congress in 1820, and was designed to reconcile the pro-slavery and the anti-slavery parties of that day. By this act it was determined that Missouri should be admitted into the Union as a slave-holding state, but that slavery should never be established in any state, to be formed in the future, lying north of latitude thirty degrees and thirty minutes. That was the act repealed in 1854, and that left the question open, whether Kansas, which is north of that degree of latitude, should be admitted as a free or slave state.
The repeal of that act brought Mr. Lincoln into prominence in the political history of the state. He was an able debater, an ardent Republican, who was among the first in the organization of the party in its first campaign in 1856. Mr. Douglas' term as Senator in Congress expired in 1858, and Mr. Lincoln entered the lists as the opponent of Mr. Douglas in his candidacy for re-election. Each had received the nomination of his party, and therefore they stood on equal grounds in their contest for the office. Mr. Lincoln challenged Mr. Douglas for a joint debate of the questions involved. Mr. Douglas accepted, and seven places were selected, one in each congressional district in the state, except in two district's where speeches had already been made. In that debate, slavery was the main question to be debated. Douglas contending that every new state, whether north or south of the old compromise line, that applied for admission to the Union, should determine for itself whether it should be a slave or a free state, while Mr. Lincoln insisted that slavery should be put in a "course of ultimate extinction." Mr. Douglas won the prize, and was the nominee of his party in the campaign of 1860 for the presidency, while Mr. Lincoln was the nominee for the Republicans. Mr. Douglas lost through the division of his party, the southern wing having put John C. Breckinridge in nomination against him. Mr. Lincoln was inaugurated President March 4, 1861. The South seceded, then came four years Civil war, the emancipation of the skives, and after a most desperate struggle, in which many thousands of lives were sacrificed, the South surrendered, and the Union was again restored.
Richard Yates became governor in 1861. He was the war governor, as during his administration the Civil war was fought and won. He was a vigilant, active and patriotic governor, who did not shrink from performing his whole duty in aiding the general government in its life and death struggle in maintaining the Union from secession. 259,092 soldiers were raised in the state for military service in suppressing the rebellion.
Richard J. Oglesby became governor January 16, 1865. The war had closed, but there were grave matters yet to be settled, and Illinois must perform its full share. In January. 1867, the fourteenth amendment to the constitution of the United States, conferring citizenship upon persons without regard to color, was ratified by Illinois. Another measure was passed by the same Legislature, which was of great interest to the agricultural community, the establishing of an agricultural or industrial college at Urbana, in Iroquois county. Congress had made donations to the several states for the purpose, of which Illinois received nearly half a million acres. A new state house was provided for to be built at Springfield, the cost of which was not to exceed $3,000,000.
January 1, 1869, John M. Palmer was inaugurated governor. The people of the state had voted to call a constitutional convention to revise the constitution of the state, and the delegates met in convention at Springfield, December 13th of that year. The most important change was that making it a fundamental law prohibiting special legislation, that having been the principal business of the legislatures of the state previous to that time. The constitution was ratified by the people July 2, 1870. The population of the state that year was 2,539,891.
THE GREAT CHICAGO FIRE.
It was late on Sunday-evening, October 8, 1871, that a fire was discovered burning in a small stable west of the south branch of the river, and about a mile southwest of the business portion of the city. A strong wind was blowing from that direction, and soon the fire was communicated to the surrounding buildings, and spread rapidly toward the very heart of the city. The fire continued to advance and spread until nearly all of the business portion of the city was destroyed, and one hundred thousand people rendered homeless. The loss by fire was two hundred million dollars, while a large number of citizens lost their lives in the holocaust. The world at large came at once to the aid of the stricken city in its terrible distress. It was a dire calamity to the young and growing city, but its enterprising citizens rallied to the work of restoring it, and soon it arose from its ashes a better and more substantial city than before.
Mr. Oglesby was re-elected for a second term, and on January 13, 1873, was duly inaugurated as governor. The session of the Legislature that met that month elected him Ignited States Senator, and John L. Beveridge, the lieutenant governor, then became governor. But little was done during his administration of note. The state continued to grow in population, its agricultural and commercial resources were developed and expanded, and the people of the state contented and prosperous.
Shelby M. Cullom was duly elected governor at the November election in 1876, and inaugurated January 8, 1877. It was at that session of the Legislature that Gen. John A. Logan became involved in a contest for re-election as United States Senator. His opponent was Judge David Davis. Logan was the regular Republican candidate, while Davis was a Democrat. There were enough independents in the Legislature to hold the balance of power, and it was not until the fortieth ballot that the long contest was decided in favor of Judge Davis, and he became General Logan's successor.
It was during Governor Cullom's term of office that the great railroad strike occurred. It began in Pittsburg, Pa., where the center of the various railroad employes was located, with branches all over the country. Illinois, as a great railroad state and mining center, felt the disturbances which reached every part of the state, and especially Chicago, where many of the railroads terminated. Troops were called out, the rioting quelled, and in a few days order was restored, and business began to enter its usual channels. The population of the state in 1880 was 3,077,871.
Mr. Cullom was re-elected in 1880, and duly installed into office January 10, 1881. In his message to the Legislature, he favored the cession of the canal to the general government, but the Legislature failed to act on his recommendation at the regular session, but a special session was called by the governor for that purpose, and among other things of re-apportioning the state into congressional and senatorial districts, and at that session an act was passed ceding it to the general government. The government, however, never accepted the gift, nor took any steps whatever toward controlling it, and so the ceding came to naught.
January 16, 1883, the Legislature elected Governor Cullom United States Senator, and it was at that session of that body the so-called Harper high license law was enacted, making the license for dram shops not less than $500, and $150 for the sale of malt and vinous liquors only.
Richard J. Oglesby was elected governor in November, 1884, for the third time, and was sworn into office January 13, 1885. The great riot at Haymarket Square, Chicago, occurred May 4, 1886. A meeting was being held there by the labor element to consider the eight-hour question, and much noise and confusion took place. The police were called to quell the disturbance, and a bomb was thrown among them. Seven of their number were killed instantly and many wounded. Eight of the rioters were arrested for the crime, tried, found guilty, and seven of them sentenced to be hung, while the eighth was sentenced to the penitentiary for fifteen years. One of the prisoners committed suicide while in jail, four were hung, and the sentence of the other two was commuted to imprisonment for life.
On January 14, 1889, Joseph W. Fifer was inaugurated as governor, and it was at that session of the Legislature that the sanitary district of Chicago was created and the construction of the drainage canal ordered.
The great Columbian exposition was to be held at Chicago in 1893, and the Legislature was convened in the summer of 1890, to grant to the government the authority to hold it there, and also to grant such other aid as was deemed necessary to hold the celebration and enable it to be devoted to exposition purposes.
The population of the state in 1890 was 3,826,351.
John P. Altgeld was elected governor in 1892. He was the first foreign born governor of the state, having been born in Germany in 1848. He was the first democratic governor since the election of Governor Matteson in 1852. About his first acts after being installed into office was the pardoning of the Haymarket Square prisoners, then confined in the penitentiary. This act provoked a large amount of criticism from ail classes all over the state, and even in other states, and so bitter was the feeling for this act of clemency on the part of the governor that it hopelessly divided his party, and he was most overwhelmingly defeated for re-election. During his administration the World's Columbian exposition, before alluded to, took place in Chicago. It was opened May 1 and closed at the end of October. The exposition was a great success in every particular and reflected much credit upon its managers.
John R. Tanner was the next governor and was inaugurated in January, 1897. The Cuban war, so-called, occurred during his administration, which resulted in wresting that island from Spanish rule and giving it independence, and also the acquisition of Porto Rico and the Philippine islands to the American government.
THE CUBAN WAR.
The destruction of the warship Maine while on a friendly visit in Havana harbor, and the great loss of American seamen, was the direct cause for the declaration of war with Spain. The news of the terrible tragedy, as they were flashed across the wires, aroused the nation to activity to avenge the insult to the nation's flag, and steps were at once taken to investigate the cause of the destruction of the vessel and the blame was laid upon the Spanish authorities. A demand was made upon Spain for a redress of the wrong. She refused to admit any liability in the catastrophe, and the war was the result. Troops were at once called for by the president, and a noble response was made by every state in the union. Seven regiments was the quota assigned to Illinois and these were quickly raised and sent to the front, where they performed most excellent service for their country.
STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
On May 23, 1900, the Illinois State Historical society was incorporated with the following object: "To excite and stimulate a general interest in the history of Illinois; to encourage historical research and investigation, and secure its promulgation; to collect and preserve all forms of historical data in any way connected with Illinois and its people."
The population of the state in 1900 was 4,821,550.
Richard Yates was inaugurated as governor of the state in January, 1901. He was the first native born governor, having been born in Jacksonville, Illinois, December 12, 1860. The legislature that met in January, 1901, re-apportioned the state into twenty-five congressional and fifty-one senatorial districts and appropriated $250,000 for the purpose of erecting a building and presenting exhibits of the state at the Louisiana Purchase exposition, to be held in St. Louis in 1904.
Charles S. Deneen was elected governor in November, 1904, and was duly installed into office in January, 1905. He was the second native born governor and was born at Edwardsville, Illinois, May 4, 1863. He is a graduate of McKendree college and the Union College of Law, now the Northwestern Law School. Governor Deneen is the present incumbent of that office.
In retrospect, we will now go back to early times, and refer to some of the interesting incidents, and matters that occurred when the state was young.
THE VISIT OF LAFAYETTE.
It was in 1825 that the Marquis de LaFayette came to Kaskaskia, while on his tour through the western country. That was one of the great events in the monotony of western life, and served the pioneers with food for friendly gossip for years thereafter. The General Assembly having learned of his arrival in America, addressed a resolution of welcome to him at its session in December, 1824, in glowing terms of admiration for his patriotic services for the country, and earnestly invited him to extend his visit to the western country to Illinois. The address, with a personal letter from Governor Coles, who became acquainted with LaFayette in France in 1817, was forwarded on the 9th of December to LaFayette, and on January 16, 1825, he expressed his gratification for the honor done him by Illinois and then added: "It has ever been my eager desire, and is now my earnest intention, to visit the western states and particularly the state of Illinois. The feelings which your distant welcome could not fail to excite have increased that patriotic eagerness to admire on that blessed spot the happy and rapid results of republican institutions, public and domestic virtues, I shall, after the celebration of the 22d of February, anniversary day, leave this place for the southern states, of even New Orleans to the western states, so as to return to Boston on the 14th of June, when the cornerstone of Bunker Hill monument is to be laid—a ceremony sacred to the whole union, and in which I have been engaged to act a peculiar and honorable part."
The general arrived at St. Louis on the steam¬boat Natchez, April 28. An immense concourse entered the boat at the landing to greet and honor the patriot and hero. The greeting of the general in St. Louis was a most hearty and loyal one, and one well worthy of the patriot and his hosts. April 30th the Natchez took Gen. LaFayette and a large concourse of distinguished visitors down the river to Kaskaskia, where the entire population assembled to bid him welcome. A dinner was prepared at the hotel, kept by Col. Sweet, and the entire company of distinguished guests were entertained. In the evening a grand ball was given in his honor at the large and commodious house of William Morrison, Esq. At the ball was a squaw whose father had served under Gen. LaFayette in the Revolutionary war. To identify herself she had brought a letter written by the General to her father many years before, and which the father left to the daughter as a precious legacy.
Gen. LaFayette, after the ball, went to Nashville, but returned in a few days to Shawneetown, where he was again greeted with enthusiasm on the part of the citizens that brought tears, and his answer to their address of welcome was given with much emotion. A salute was fired at his departure, and he then returned to the east.
WHY SOUTHERN ILLINOIS WAS CALLED EGYPT.
Mr. Charles Robertson, in the Chicago Journal, under date of February 8, 1872, says that the southern part of the state was called Egypt from the following: He writes that "Fifty years ago, or in the summer of 1821, there was not a bushel of corn to he had in all central Illinois. My father settled in that year twenty-three miles west of Springfield. We lived for a time on venison, blackberries and milk, while the men were gone to Egypt to harvest and procure breadstuffs. The land we improved was surveyed that summer, and afterward bought of the government by sending beeswax down the Illinois river to St. Louis in an Indian canoe. Dressed deerskins and tanned hides were then in use, and we made one piece of cloth out of nettles instead of flax, cotton material well for a decade, until the deep snow of 1830."
Thus the southern part of Illinois received the appellation of "Egypt," as therein indicated, because, being older, better settled and cultivated, it gathered corn as "the salt of the seas, and the settlers in the central part of the state, after the manner of the children of Israel in their wants, "went to Egypt to buy and bring from thence that they might live and not die."
THE "SUCKERS"—WHY SO NAMED.
Why all native Illinoisans are called "Suckers" originated at an early date, and there are two versions, both of which we will give our readers, and they can select from the two which to them seems the most probable and correct.
In 1804, Governor Harrison bought of the Sac and Fox tribes a tract of land at the mouth of the Fever river, where Galena is now located, fifteen miles square. It was called "lead lands," for upon the tract in many places lead had been found, and several mines opened, and it is said that the origin of the name "Sucker" as applied to the native miners, and the Illinoisans, was first heard and used in those mines. Mr. George Brunk of Sangamon writes: "Late in the fall of 1826 I was on board of a steamboat bound down the river, when a man from Missouri stepped up and asked, 'Boys where are you going?' The answer was, 'Home' 'Well,' he replied, 'you put me in mind of suckers; up in the spring, spawn and all return in the fall." The name stuck to the Illinoisans, and when Judge Sawyer came up to the mines on circuit court duty, he was called the "king of Suckers." Those who stayed at the mines over winter—most of them from Wisconsin—were called "Badgers." The next spring the Missourians poured into the mining region in great numbers, and the state was said to have taken a "puke," and the offensive appellation of "Pukes" was applied to all the miners from that state.
JUDGE DOUGLAS TELLS WHERE THEY GOT THE NAME OF "SUCKER."
It was on the occasion of a pleasant entertainment of Judge Douglas at Petersburg, Virginia, that he gave the following humorous account of the term "Suckers," as applied to Illinoisans; the account is valuable further, and confers a proud distinction upon Illinois, in that it clears up all doubts regarding the discovery of that important and inspiring beverage called "mint julep." A very momentous question that for years has been covered with obscurity and beset with very many doubts, but in the light of the facts then disclosed by the learned judge, happily placed at rest. It is not improbable that a glass of the animating beverage served to quicken the memory of the honorable senator from Illinois on that occasion.
Judge Douglas said: "About the year 1777, George Rogers Clark applied to the governor of Virginia and suggested to him that as peace might be declared at any time between the colonies and Great Britain, and it would be well for us to be in possession of the northwest territory, so that when the commissioners came to negotiate a treaty we might act on the well known principle in law that possession was at least nine parts, each party holding all that they had in possession. He suggested to the governor to permit him to go out to the northwest, conquer the country, and hold it until the treaty of peace, when we would become possessed of it.
The governor consented and sent him across the mountains to Pittsburg. From there he and his companions floated down the Ohio on rafts to the falls, where Louisville now is. After remaining there a short time they again took to their rafts, and floated down to the Salines, just below the present site of Shawneetown, Illinois. Here they took up their march across the country to Kaskaskia, where the French had an old settlement, and by the aid of a guide they reached Oquaw, and encamped near Peter Menard's house, some little distance from the town. You see, I am well acquainted with the locality. (Laughter.) Next morning Clark got his little army of ragmuffins together, for they had no army wagons with supplies, no sutler and no stores, and by this time looked ragged enough, and took up his line of march for the little French town of Kaskaskia. It was summer and a very hot day, and as he entered the town and saw the Frenchmen sitting quietly on their little verandas in front of their houses, sucking their juleps through straws, he rushed upon them, crying, "Surrender, you suckers you." (Great laughter.) The Frenchmen surrendered, and from that day to this Illinoisans have been known as 'Suckers.' (Applause.)
"That was the origin of our cognomen, and when George Rogers Clark returned to Virginia he introduced the julep here. (Laughter.) Now. I want to give you Virginians fair notice, that when they claim the honor of a Jefferson, of a Madison, of a Marshall, and of as many other distinguished sages and patriots as the world ever saw, we yield; when you claim the credit of a cession of the northwest territory, that out of it sovereign states might be created, we yield; when you claim the credit of never having polled a vote against the Democratic party, we yield; but when you claim the glory of the mint julep, hands off, Illinois wants that." (Shouts of laughter and applause.) ILL. Reg. Sept. 9, 1860.
POLITICS AND POLITICIANS.
The manner of conducting political campaigns in the days of yore was similar in some respects to that of more modern times, and yet in other respects radically different. Politics entered into some of the campaigns to a great extent, and yet in others they were almost entirely ignored. Governor Ford in his history of Illinois says of those days: "Up to the year 1840, I can say with perfect truth that considerations of mere party, men's condescensions, agreeable carriage and professions of friendship had more influence with the great body of the people than the most important public services." These considerations have always been of more consequence in a majority of cases than any public services rendered, no matter how valuable those services may have been to the people or country.
There were many adventurers among the old pioneers, with whom governmental affairs had but little thought. When aroused to the exercise of the great privilege of a citizen—the elective franchise—by demagogues interested in some intrigue, no other consideration entered into the act of the voter than to either help a friend or punish an enemy. There were no great political questions to divide the people prior to the early thirties. They called themselves whigs and democrats without the least thought or care regarding any of the questions of public policy, tariff or any of the great questions that were brought forward at a later date.
The use of whiskey for electioneering purposes was almost universal, and the custom of "treating," as it was called, during a political campaign was indisputable to success. It was a common custom for the candidates, to go to the saloons and leave orders to treat free all who came on certain days, called "treating days," at their expense. "Treating days" were usually on Saturday, and then the voters for miles around would all congregate at the saloons, many of them get drunk, and often engage in rough and tumble fights. The candidates would usually be there too, and in some shady grove put forth their claims for office. The favorite platform from which their speeches would be made was the stump of some large tree, and hence the phrase of "stump speech." The vital questions "having been discussed," the meeting would break up and the audience disperse to their homes, to sober up and get ready for the next treating day.
The real pioneers of that day were the leaders in all such meetings and sports. They were in many instances extremely ignorant, governed by passionate prejudices, and usually opposed to every public policy which looked to the elevation of society. They arrayed themselves in buckskin breeches, leather moccasins, raccoon caps, and red shirts, belted at the waist, and with a large knife in the belt, hence they were called "butcher boys." They would proclaim their great bravery upon every occasion, and swear that they were "half horse and half alligator," meaning that they could not be overcome in combat.
Such to a great extent were a large number of the early settlers of southern Illinois. When in liquor they were veritable demons, but at home, when away from the influence of drink, were quiet and peaceable, and good neighbors.
The making of salt in the early history of the Illinois country is one of the most interesting subjects of the time. The salt springs, or "salines" as they were called, were located near Equality, in Gallatin county. When discovered, there was every indication that they had been worked by a prehistoric race, long before the whites had penetrated the Illinois wilds. The evaporating kettles used by them were found near Equality, and near the Negro Salt Springs. The kettles were between three and four feet in diameter, made of clay and pounded shells, and were moulded in a kind of basket work, or cloth, which left the impression upon the outside of the kettle, and looked like artistic handwork. Nothing is known as to how long the springs had-been worked by the Indians, but there was every appearance of having been used in the process of making salt for ages.
In 1812 congress assumed control of the springs, and on the 12th of February that year an act was passed setting apart six square miles of land to support the Equality Salines. They were then leased to work, and slaves were employed to perform the work, they having been brought from Kentucky and Tennessee for that purpose. Many of these negroes, by extra work, saved enough money to buy their freedom, and from these are descended the large number of those who resided in Gallatin and Saline counties before the Civil War. There was a monopoly in the salt trade after the act of leasing the springs, and the common price of it was five dollars a bushel, and even at that price a ready market was always found in all the adjoining country. People would come for hundreds of miles and carry it away in sacks on horseback. When Illinois was admitted into the Union, these Salines were ceded to the state, and thenceforward they were state property, and ceased as such February 23, 1847, by an act of the general adssembly, the Saline lands were all sold to the school trustees of the township. They have since been very productive, producing when worked to their fullest capacity two hundred barrels of salt per day.
IMPROVEMENTS IN AGRICULTURE.
The wonderful improvements made for cultivating the soil are most marvelous, and are to be seen on every hand.
Seventy-five to eighty years ago the plows were made with mouldboards of wood, and these were sometimes covered with straps of iron to prevent wearing out too rapidly. In those days plows were about the only implement used in stirring the soil. Harrows with wooden teeth were used for covering the grain after sowing, but they were poor affairs, and easily broken. Corn was planted by hand wholly. The barefooted boys and girls dropping the seed, which was then covered with a hoe. Sickles were about the only implement used in cutting the grain, although grain cradles were introduced about that time. Grass was always cut with a scythe and raked together with the hand rake. Wheat and all kinds of grain was tramped out with horses. The bundles were laid with the heads inward in a circle, the horses were driven around on it until it was tramped out, and then the grain winnowed and cleaned in the wind.
But all this has been changed, and that, too, for the benefit of the farmer. Gang and sulky plows of steel now turn over the sod, and thus increase the capacity for human labor, and greatly decrease its severity. Machinery has been utilized to drill in the grain, cut and bind it, thresh and winnow it, and also cut, pitch and load the hay and put it into stacks.
The farmers were slow at first in adopting the machinery for farm work, but it gradually gained in favor, until now it has almost superseded labor by hand. The farmer guides from his seat behind his team, and the machinery performs the labor, and that, too, much quicker and far better and more satisfactorily than it could possibly be done by hand.
PROGRESS IN THE STATE.
Illinois has made wonderful progress as a state in internal improvements, agriculture and commerce. In 1837 the first railroad was built in the state. It was but six miles in length, with small cars drawn by horses or mules; the rails were but wooden joists, laid on ties, and upon these joists strap iron was spiked with spikes, made by the local blacksmiths. From that small beginning the railroads in the state have been extended until 1903, when the last report was made, there were 11,502 miles in operation, permeating every part of the state. The mileage of railroads exceeds that of every other state in the Union. The nearest approach to it being the state of Texas, with 11,256 miles. Pennsylvania has 10,784 miles, the Empire state 8,180, while all New England has but 7,609 miles, or only about two-thirds as much mileage as the state of Illinois. In population it ranks as the third state in the Union, while in 1830 it was the twentieth.
In agriculture it has made even greater progress. When the state was admitted into the Union in 1818 it had a population of about 50,000, with some 11,500 farms and 70,000 acres of land under cultivation. At the last census, in 1900, there were 264,151 farms containing 32,794,728 acres, of which 27,699,219 acres were under cultivation. In 1820, two years after it was admitted as a state, 260,000 bushels of corn was raised in the whole state, 63,000 bushels of oats, and no broom corn; while by the last census we find there was 398,149,140 bushels of corn, 180,105,630 bushels of oats, and 60.665,560 pounds of broom corn, equalling 3,330 tons. In 1820 there was not a gallon of fermented liquor made in the state, while in 1904 there were 4,632,726 barrels of it made, just about a barrel for every man, woman and child in the state. The same year there was 41,787,891 gallons of distilled spirits or liquors made, or about ten gallons for every man, woman and child in the state. This far exceeds any other state, for even Kentucky, which is said to use up all the surplus corn and rye into whiskey, only produces 23,114,735 gallons, a little more than one-half of what Illinois produces.
There is another thing in which Illinois beats all other states, and that is in the number of war pensioners, there being 71,647 in the state, and to whom the government pays annually more than ten millions of dollars.
DISCOVERY OF COAL.
The first mention made in the history of the state of coal, or of finding it here, was by Father Hennepin in his journal. It was in 1679, when on a visit, to the Illinois country with La Salle's party. He says, "that, having arrived in the Miami country and while they were seeking for a portage, by which they could reach the Illinois river, LaSalle, while exploring the country, became separated from the rest of the party, and, as he did not return, searching parties were sent out after him. When found, his hands and face were all black with the coal and the wood that he had lighted during the night, as it was cold."
The Miami country, as then understood, was in the vicinity of the headwaters of the Illinois river, where it is formed by the junction of the Kankakee and Desplaines. After giving an account of how they reached the Illinois, he says, "There are mines of coal, slate, iron and lumps of pure red copper, which are found in various places, indicate that there are mines and perhaps other metals and minerals, which will one day be discovered."
These references clearly indicate the location of the extensive coal mines of Will and Grundy counties, which have furnished such vast quantities of coal to the people of the state.
In 1720 Father Charlevoix arrived at the junction of the headwaters of the Illinois, and that lower down the river at the junction of the Illinois with a river that flows from the Mascoutens, the place is called Charboniere, "because they find many coals there." That was in what is now LaSalle county, the river named being the Fox.
In 1773 Kennedy in his journal speaks of being near the site of the old Kaskaskia Indian town at Utica, in LaSalle county. He says, "On the northwestern side of this river is a coal mine that extends for half a mile along the middle of the bank of the river, which is high."
Beck, in a book issued by him in 1823, says, "Coal is found in great abundance in different parts of the state; it is of good quality, and is very valuable on account of the scarcity of timber. Since the time of Father Hennepin's first mention of coal in the state the coal industry has grown and flourished to such extensive proportions that it is now one of our leading industries.
From a summary recently furnished by the secretary of the Illinois Bureau of Labor Statistics it appears that there are now more than one thousand mines in the state, and that nearly forty million tons of coal are mined annually by 59,230 employes. There are one hundred and two counties in the state, and of these fifty-six have coal mines that contribute to the vast amount of coal consumed by the people of the state every year, and of the 56,000 square miles of land in the state 36,000 contain coal.
About the year 1840 a great temperance movement was inaugurated in the east, and it soon spread to Illinois. The temperance people called themselves "Washingtonians," and the movement was quite popular in some localities in the east for several years, but met with a chilly reception in most places out in southern Illinois, among the pioneers. It was all right down there among the women and children, but the lords of the soil would have nothing to do with it.
A society was organized in the small village of Troy, Madison county, a few miles south of Edwardsville, and a committee was appointed to go out among the farmers and solicit them to join the society. The chairman or spokesman of the party was the minister of the little church in the village. On one of their trips around the neighboring towns they came across an old farmer who had taken his whiskey straight for many a year. He was informed of the society and its object and very kindly asked to join it. The old fellow was indignant to think they should want him to join such an organization, and would not listen to them, but they pleaded with him and told him of the misery and ruin whiskey was causing in the country, and added that if the men would join the society it would close up the dram shops and then no one could get any liquor. "What," said the old fellow, "close up the dram shops? I would have you know, sir, that my brother keeps a dram shop up there in Edwardsville, and you want me to help ruin him, do ye? No, I'll see you d—d first, and that I wont." And with that the old fellow turned on his heel and left them, boiling with indignation to think they should ask him to do an act that would aid in ruining his brother's business.
The characteristics of the old pioneers are very forcibly illustrated in an anecdote, related by the late Robert S. Blackwell, the author of "Blackwell on Tax Titles." Mr. Blackwell said that "the old pioneers were great bee hunters, and had the custom of appropriating to the finder all bee trees, on whose land so ever they happened to be growing. When they discovered a bee tree, without leave or license, they entered upon the land, cut it down and made themselves masters of the honey. The owners seldom ventured to complain and when they did the juries were sure to punish their presumption with costs of suit.
"Well, one of the old settlers to whom I allude came to my office one day and stated that he had felled a bee tree upon his neighbor's land. He alluded to the old custom of conferring title by discovery, and that suit was threatened, and asked my advice in the premises. I replied that he had committed a trespass and advised him to compromise the affair. He left the office in high dudgeon, saying as he was departing, 'This country is getting too d—d civilized for me. I'll make tracks for Oregon, or some other country where an old pioneer can get justice."
THE BLACK HAWK WAR.
This war grew out of a disagreement over the provision of a treaty made November 3, 1804, between the national government and the Sac and Fox tribes. The United States had agreed to pay these tribes an annuity of one thousand dollars a year, for which the Indians ceded their lands between the Wisconsin, Fox, Illinois and Mississippi rivers, the Indians retaining the right to live and hunt on the lands as long as they belonged to the government.
There was a great misunderstanding between the natives and whites on the subject of this cession. Some of the land had been surveyed by the government and afterwards sold to settlers, but Black Hawk, the chief of the Sac tribe, denied the right of the purchasers to take possession. He claimed that the treaty of 1804 was a nullity, because it was made with the Indians after they had been made drunk by the whites, while on a visit to St. Louis. When the Indians returned to their tribes and told of the visit, all they remembered was that they had had a big spree and had sold some of their land.
The Indians under the control of Black Hawk were surly and troublesome and in 1828 Governor Edwards asked the government to have them removed from the state, and in 1829 President Jackson complied with the request of the governor of Illinois and issued the order. Black Hawk refused to comply with the order and rallied his bands together and made raids upon the settlers. The governor was appealed to by the settlers for protection and he applied to the general government for aid. General Gaines was sent with a force of regulars to remove the Indians. He went to Rock Island with his troops, and Governor Reynolds issued a call for volunteers. In the early part of June, 1831, the militia met at Beardstown to the number of 1,500. They marched to the Rock River country and joined forces with the regulars, making an army of 2,500. This large force overawed the natives and they withdrew to the west of the Mississippi On June 30, 1831, Black Hawk entered into a treaty with the government that he and his band would not come over to the east side of the river without permission. But he could not bear to see his lands settled by the whites, and so, April 6, 1832, he came back over the river with his band. Governor Reynolds at once issued a call for volunteers, and in a few days 1,935 men were encamped at Beardstown, to operate with the regulars in the final struggle to remove the Indians from Illinois soil. A junction was effected on Rock river with the government forces. The volunteers were sent forward up the river towards Wisconsin and the regulars soon followed. More volunteers met the advance forces at Dixon and then these volunteers were divided into smaller companies to hunt for Black Hawk. On the 12th of May a battalion under Major Stillman left Dixon to go in search of the enemy and they met Black Hawk and his band at a small creek that has since been known as Stillman's Run. Black Hawk was ready for them and poured his main force on the volunteers. This was too much for the raw troops. They had, started out on a little picnic for a few days and expected to have it, and then return home. Many of the volunteers had never seen an Indian warrior in full dress, with his war paint and breech cloth all on, and when they came to meet, not only one, but a whole band thus arrayed, they turned and fled for home as fast as their legs could carry them. Some of these brave fellows lived down in LaSalle county and they claimed to have made the whole distance of more than one hundred miles without stopping. Their first camp was some four miles from Indian creek, in that country where the Indian massacre occurred two days before they got back into the county. They were met by the citizens, who were out from Ottawa in search for the slain and captives, and entreated the volunteers to assist in the search, but they refused, and kept on until they were safe in the fort at Ottawa.
The regulars and those of the militia that were at Dixon went after Black Hawk and his band and pursued them up into Wisconsin, where, overtaking them, an engagement took place at Bad Axe river and the Indians were badly beaten, a large number of them being killed. Black Hawk, however, escaped, but was soon after captured by some friendly Indians and was delivered over to the government. He was kept a prisoner for a time, but was finally allowed to return to his band west of the Mississippi, where he died in 1838.
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE BUFFALO.
When Illinois was first visited by white men the prairies were one great pasture for countless herds of buffalo. Father Marquette and his companion, Louis Joliet, when they reached the Illinois country on their voyage down the Mississippi, saw upon the banks of that stream vast herds of the animals, and on their return and while going up the Illinois the animals were everywhere to be seen, and as one of the fathers records, they were so numerous as to be countless.
The flesh of the buffalo furnished the natives with the greater part of their food, their skins with clothing, bedding and tents, their sinews for bows, their bones for implements and ornaments, and their hair they wove into a fabric for dress. Hence the disappearance of the buffalo from the country. Deprived, then, of the many necessities of life, the exact time when they disappeared or left the country is unknown, but from the best accounts that can be obtained it was about 1780 they were seen swimming the Illinois river in vast herds. As late as 1778, but a year or two later, there was a big snow storm that covered the ground to the depth of three feet, and upon the top was a thick crust of ice that would bear a man. The next spring a few buffalo, poor and emaciated, were seen going westward, but in many places hundreds of carcasses of the dead animals were to be found lying on the prairie. What few were left went across the Mississippi and it was seldom that one was seen east of that river after that time. Forty years afterward the skulls and bones were to be seen in places extending for miles.
CHEVALIER HENRY DE TONTY.
Few of the writers of the early history of Illinois give much of an account of the life of this most faithful and intrepid companion of LaSalle in his early voyages and explorations in the Illinois Territory. When referred to, he is spoken of as the "Faithful Tonty"; that he was a Frenchman by birth, and had lost a hand in battle. It is our purpose, however, to here give some account of his early life and history.
Chevalier Henry DeTonty was born in Naples in 1650. He was a son of Lorenzo Tonty, a banker and prominent man of that city. He received an excellent education for those times and when eighteen years of age he entered the French army and served one year. But it was an active one, for he was in seven campaigns and although he entered the service as a cadet, yet he was successively promoted as captain, and at Messina, Spain, he was placed in charge of 20,000 men.
During the battle of Libisso, a grenade shot away his right hand and it is told of him that while awaiting the delayed services of the surgeon he, with admirable nerve, amputated the ragged stump with a knife. The lost hand of flesh was replaced by one of iron, which he usually wore with a glove on it. There is some dispute among historians as to whether the hand that replaced that of flesh was that of iron, copper or silver, but whatever it was it served his purpose well, and in some instances was much better than the one he lost. In his dealings with the Indians, it is said, if they became disorderly or unruly he used that hand upon the heads of the contumaceous ones, sometimes breaking them or knocking out their teeth. They, not knowing the secret of the efficacy of the blow, regarded it as a "medicine of the first order."
He was taken a prisoner at Libisso by the Spaniards, and was confined for six months, and his release was effected by exchanging for him the son of the governor of that place. Upon returning to France the king bestowed three hundred livres upon him in recognition of his services.
In 1677 LaSalle reached France from Montreal to seek the aid of the court in the prosecution of the vast designs he had formed for exploring the unknown interior of the continent south of the Great Lakes. Upon the recommendation of Prince Conti, whose favor Tonty seems to have won by his valorous conduct in the French wars, LaSalle engaged the young man as his lieutenant.
They sailed from Rochelle, July 14, 1678, to Quebec, where, after a voyage of two months, they arrived and there La Salle learned to appreciate the many good qualities of which his lieutenant was to give him later on such signal proof. It was there that LaSalle formed the only intimate friendship of his life, and was rewarded by attaching to himself a man whose loyalty and disinterested devotion ceased only with death.
LaSalle had formed a plan to follow up the discoveries of Joliet and Father Marquette, in their voyage down the Mississippi, and to ascertain by descending that river to its mouth, whether it emptied into the Gulf of California, the Gulf of Mexico, or was indeed the long sought medium of communication with Japan and China—the Cipangang Cathay of Marco Polo. They had brought over with them all necessary ropes, anchors and other material for building a vessel to navigate the lakes, expert artisans were also brought along, who were skilled in the construction of vessels.
They at once set about the work of preparing for their long and tedious journey. The marvelous energy and fertility of resources displayed by Tonty astonished as well as delighted LaSalle. In writing to Prince Conti, after landing in Canada, he said, "His honorable character, his amiable disposition, were well known to you, but perhaps you would not have thought him capable of doing things for which a strange constitution, an acquaintance with the country, and the full use of both hands seemed absolutely necessary. Nevertheless, his energy and address make him equal to anything, and now at a season when everybody is in fear of the ice he is setting out to begin a new fort two hundred leagues from this place.
In going from Fort Frontenac to Niagara, on Lake Ontario, Tonty experienced the first evidence of the secret hostility directed against LaSalle. The boat in which they came was wrecked through obstinacy of the pilot, who had doubtless been tampered with by the enemies of LaSalle. Niagara, a place above the falls, had been selected as the site for the shipyard. It was the dead of winter, but the work of building the vessel was begun with great energy. They had brought up the St. Lawrence and along the twelve mile portage trail of the Niagara gorge the anchors and other material necessary for the equipment of the vessel they were to build. LaSalle remained long enough to drive the first bolt, and then returned to Fort Frontenac. He left Tonty in command, with full instructions to complete the vessel.
It was a heavy task that was thus imposed upon Tonty. If he had an iron hand, he had a will of steel. The Senecas, an Indian tribe that was in the vicinity, were not only enemies of LaSalle, but they were also suspicious that the ribbed structure growing before their eyes meant menace to their fur trade in the west, which they had heretofore monopolized, and threatened to make a bonfire of the vessel. Provisions were scarce, the wrecked boat having contained the needed supply. But two New England Indians that LaSalle had attached to the expedition became his devoted followers and by their prowess saved the thirty men with Tonty, and Father Hennepin. But it was a long tedious winter and it tried the patience as well as the courage of the ever faithful Tonty to keep the enemies at bay, and at the same time supply his men with food while they pursued their labors on the vessel.
It was under these trying circumstances that the first vessel that ever plowed the waters of Lakes Erie, Huron and Michigan was constructed. The Indians were wily as well as treacherous and as the vessel neared completion they menaced the workmen constantly. They, however, completed it, and in May it was ready to be launched. Amid the roar of cannon and the chorus of the "Te Deum" from the bearded workmen the vessel slid from her docks into the waters of the Niagara river, and it was then safe from all harm or molestation from the hostile natives. It was towed out in midstream and there anchored, as a precaution from any further interference. The five cannon on board peeped out through the port holes upon the Indians on the bank, giving them meaning of the danger should they attempt to make any hostile visits to the vessel.
It was not until summer was well advanced that LaSalle joined the party on board the Griffon, as the vessel was christened. It was so named in honor of Count Frontenac, the governor of New France, as Canada was then called, that monster being his heraldic emblem.
Tonty went in a bark canoe ahead of the Griffon up Lake Erie, in order to look up some men and supplies that LaSalle had ordered at the straits of Detroit. He reached there all right and found his men and the vessel, arriving soon after, they were taken on board and the vessel sailed up the straits toward Lake Huron. Their voyage up that lake was a stormy one. The fall gales that prevail sent the small craft forward, trembling in every part. But they weathered the gale and on the 27th of August they reached Michilimackinac, the Jesuit stronghold for the whole western country.
Early in September the Griffon sailed into Green Bay, mooring at one of the islands, which is thought to have been Washington Isle, whose astonished inhabitants gazed in wonder at the "house that walked on the water." LaSalle loaded the vessel with beaver skins which had cost 60,000 livres ($12,000). The vessel was never seen again. Whether she foundered in a gale or was destroyed by the crew was never known.
LaSalle and Tonty then went up Lake Michigan, as before described, and also their going to Peoria lake, erecting the Fort Creve Coeur, fortifying the Rock, and their return to Green Bay have all been fully given in our history of the northwest.
DEATH OF TONTY.
Tonty toiled for nearly twenty years to maintain Fort St. Louis on the Rock, but was compelled at last to abandon it. It had been the pet scheme of his friend and companion, LaSalle, that a fort should be maintained, there, as it was known to be impregnable to any assault that then could be made, and so recluctantly he obeyed a royal decree and left it forever, and as he floated down the beautiful Illinois river with his few followers he waved back a sad farewell to the bold, high rock upon whose topmost level he had made his home for so many years. That was in the spring of 1699. He was then on his way to the south to join the Louisiana colonies, at old Biloxi, at the mouth of the Mississippi. The colonists received him with open arms and for four years he shared their varied fortunes, aiding them in every way with his knowledge of woodcraft and savage lore. Through his efforts the neighboring Indians were pacified, and many of them became the allies of the colonists in their troubles with other tribes that were hostile to them.
In 1704, a vessel arrived with supplies from Havana. But ere the colonists could rejoice at the acquisition of the stores it was learned that the vessel contained the germs of that terrible scourge, yellow fever. The vessel's crew had been nearly exterminated by it. It spread among the colonists and more than one-half of them lay dead. Tonty nursed the living and helped to bury the dead. But soon he, too, was stricken with the dread disease, and in the month of September, 1704, a grave was dug in the soil of old Biloxi and therein was laid one of the most unselfish and loyal, as he was one of the most intrepid of the knightly men who first blazed a path whence civilization entered into what has since become the great empire of the northwest.
WHERE WAS PONTIAC ASSASSINATED?
In our history of Illinois in this work we have stated that the Indian war chieftain, Pontiac, was assassinated at Cahokia, and we have done so upon what we consider the very best of authorities upon the subject.
Nearly every writer or historian who has alluded to or written of the death of that celebrated chieftain in the several histories of the state, so far as we can learn, with but one exception, all assert that he was assassinated at Cahokia. In fact, there is no mention in any of them that there was any question, but that was the place, and they give in detail all the circumstances attending his death. Moses, in his history of Illinois; Perrin, in his outlines of Illinois history; Dresbach in his "Young People's History of Illinois," and Parish in his "Historic Illinois" all name Cahokia as the place of his assassination. But one of the best authorities on the subject, as we view it, is Osmon's "History of Starved Rock." He not only gives a very clear and comprehensive description of the tragedy, but enters into all the details of the Indian feuds and troubles prior to that time with great exactness.
It is generally conceded by all writers of Illinois history that the Illinois Indians had all left the northern part of the state at the time of Pontiac's last visit to the territory, and had gone to Cahokia or near there. That they had built villages there and were under the protection of the French, who had settled there, and that Pontiac, learning of the fact that the Illinois Indians had collected at Cahokia, went there, as he said, "to have a big spree," but, as it was well thought by the people, to make trouble by inducing the Indians to make war upon the white inhabitants. A barrel of whiskey was a big inducement to an Indian, and he would doubtless have killed almost anyone, even his own squaw or mother, in order to possess it.
On the other hand, Matson, in his History of Illinois, which is a very good authority on most subjects pertaining to the early history of our state, says Pontiac was assassinated at Joliet Mound by an Indian named Kineboo, for revenge, Pontiac at some time having done Kineboo a great wrong. Now, it is for the reader to judge which of the authorities is the most probably correct. To us, the Cahokia story is altogether the most reasonable and plausible. We are aware that Indian revenge will go a long ways in a red man's makeup, but not so far as a barrel of whiskey. It was a terrible inducement to an Indian, and one that no Indian would refuse.