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meadows. Tlie origin of these has been attrib-
uted to various causes, such as some peculiarity of
the soil, absence or excess of moisture, recent
upheaval of the surface from lakes or some other
Ijodies of water, the action of fires, etc. In many
sections tliere appears little to distinguish the
soil of the prairies from that of the adjacent
woodlands, that may not be accounted for by the
character of their vegetation and other causes,
for the luxuriant growth of native grasses and
other productions has demonstrated that they do
not lack in fertility, and the readiness witli
which trees take root when artificially propa-
gated and protected, has sliown that there is
nothing in the soil itself unfavorable to their
growth. Whatever may have been the original



cause of the prairies, liowever, tliere is no doubt
that annually recurring fires have had nmi-h to
ilo in perpetuating their existence, and even
extending their limits, as the absence of the same
agent has tended to favor the encroachments of
the forests. While originally regarded as an
obstacle to the occupation of the country by a
dense population, there is no doubt that their
existence has contributed to its rapid develop-
ment when it was discovered with what ease
these apparent wastes could be subdued, and how
productive they were capable of becoming when
once brought under cultivation.

In spite of the uniformity in altitude of the
State as a whole, many sections present a variety
of surface and a mingling of plain and woodland
of the most pleasing character. This is espe-
cially the case in some of the prairie districts
where the undulating landscape covered with
rich herbage and brilliant flowers must have
presented to the first explorers a scene of ravish-
ing beauty, which has been enhanced ratlier than
diminished in recent times by the liand of culti-
vation. Along some of the streams also, espe-
cially on the upper Mississippi and Illinois, and
at some points on the Oliio, is found scenery of
a most picturesque variety.

Animals, etc. — From this description of the
country it will be easy to infer what must have
been the varieties of the animal kingdom which
here found a home. These included the buffalo,
various kinds of deer, the bear, panther, fox,
wolf, and wild-cat, while swans, geese and ducks
covered the lakes and streams. It was a veritable "
paradise for game, both large and small, as well
as for their native hunters. "One can scarcely
travel," wrote one of the earliest priestly explor-
ers, "without finding a prodigious multitude of
turkeys, that keep together in flocks often to the
number of ten hundred." Beaver, otter, and
mink were found along the streams. Most of
these, especially the larger species of game, have
disappeared before the tide of civilization, but the
smaller, such as quail, prairie chicken, duck and
the diff'erent varieties of fish in the streams, pro-
tected by law during certain seasons of the year,
continue to exist in considerable numbers.

Soil and Climate.— The capabilities of the
soil in a region thus situated can be readily under-
stood. In proportion to the extent of its surface,
Illinois has a larger area of cultivable land than
any other State in the Union, with a soil of supe-
rior quality, much of it unsurpassed in natural
fertility. This is especially true of the "American
Bottom," a region extending a distance of ninety



344



HISTORICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ILLINOIS.



miles along the east bank of the Mississippi, from
a few miles below Alton nearly to Chester, and
of an average width of five to eight miles. This
was the seat of tlie first permanent white settle-
ment in the Mississippi Valley, and portions of it
have been under cultivation from one hundred to
one hundred and fifty years without exhaustion.
Other smaller areas of scarcely less fertility are
found both upon the bottom-lands and in the
prairies in the central portions of the State.

Extending through five and one-half degrees of
latitude, Illinois has a great variety of climate.
Though subject at times to sudden alternations
of temperature, these occasions have been rare
since the country has been thoroughly settled.
Its mean average for a series of years has been 48°
in the northern part of the State and 56° in the
southern, differing little from other States upon
the same latitude. The mean winter temper-
ature has ranged from 25° in the north to 34° in
the south, and the summer mean from 67° in the
north to 78° in the south. The extreme winter
temperature has seldom fallen below 20° below
zero in the northern portion, wliile the highest
summer temperature ranges from 95° to 102°.
The average diflference in temperature between
the northern and southern portions of the State
is about 10°, and tlie difference in the progress of
the seasons for the same sections, from four to six
weeks. Such a wide variety of climate is favor-
able to the production of nearly all the grains
and fruits peculiar to the temperate zone.

Contest for Occup.\.tion. — Three powers
early became contestants for the supremacy on
the North American Continent. The first of
these was Spain, claiming possession on the
ground of the discovery by Colimibus ; England,
basing her claim upon the discoveries of the
Cabots, and France, maintaining her right to a
considerable part of tlie continent by virtue of
the discovery and exploration by Jacques Cartier
of the Gulf and River St. Lawrence, in 1534-35,
and the settlement of Quebec by Champlain
seventy -four years later. The claim of Spain
was general, extending to both North and South
America; and, while she early established her
colonies in Mexico, the West Indies and Peru,
the country was too vast and her agents too busy
seeking for gold to interfere materially with her
competitors. The Dutch, Swedes and Germans
established small, though flourishing colonies, but
they were not colonizers nor were they numeric-
ally as strong as their neighbors, and their settle-
ments were ultimately absorbed by the latter.
Both the Spaniards and the French were zealous



in proselyting the aborigines, but while the
former did not hesitate to torture their victims
in order to extort their gold while claiming to
save their souls, the latter were more gentle and
beneficent in their policy, and, by their kindness,
succeeded in winning and retaining the friend-
ship of the Indians in a remarkable degree. They
were traders as well as missionaries, and this fact
and the readiness with which they adapted them-
selves to the habits of those whom they found in
possession of the soil, enabled them to make the
most extensive explorations in small numbers
and at little cost, and even to remain for un-
limited periods among their aboriginal friends.
On the other hand, the English were artisans and
tillers of the soil with a due proportion engaged
in commerce or upon the sea; and, while they
were later in planting their colonies in Virginia
and New England, and less aggressive in the
work of exploration, they maintained a surer
foothold on the soil when they had once estab-
lished themselves. To this fact is due the per-
manence and steady growth of the English
colonies in the New World, and the virtual domi-
nance of the Anglo-Saxon race over more than
five-sevenths of the North American Continent —
a result which has been illustrated in the history
of every people that has made agriculture, manu-
factures and legitimate commerce the basis of
their prosperity.

Early Explorations.— The French explorers
were the first Europeans to visit the "Country of
the Illinois," and, for nearly a century, they and
their successors and descendants held undisputed
possession of the country, as well as the greater
part of the Mississippi Valley. It is true that
Spain put in a feeble and indefinite claim to this
whole region, but she was kept too busy else-
where to make her claim good, and, in 1763, she
relinquished it entirely as to the Mississippi
Valley and west to the Pacific Ocean, in order to
strengthen herself elsewhere.

There is a peculiar coincidence in the fact that,
while the English colonists who settled about
Massachusetts Bay named that region "New
England," the French gave to their possessions,
from the St. Lawrence to the mouth of the Mis-
sissippi, the name of "New France." and the
Spaniards called all the region claimed by them,
extending from Panama to Puget Sound, "New
Spain. " The boundaries of each were very indefi-
nite and often conflicting, but were settled by the
treaty of 1763.

As early as 1634, Jean Nicolet, coming by way
of Canada, discovered Lake Michigan — then



UISTUHICAL ENCYdLUPKDIA t>F ILLINOIS.



•245



called by the French, "Lac cles Illinois" — entered
Green Bay and visited some of the tribes of
Indians in that region. In 1641 zealous mission-
aries had reached the Falls of St. Mary (called by
the French "Sault Ste. Marie"), and, in 1658, two
French fur-traders are alleged to have penetrated
as far west as "La Pointe"' on Lake Superior,
where they opened up a trade with the Sioux
Indians and wintered in the neighborhood of the
Apostle Islands near where the towns of Ashland
and Bayfield, Wis., now stand. A few years later
(1665), Fathers Allouez and Dablon, French mis-
sionaries, visited the Chippewas on the southern
shore of Lake Superior, and missions were estab-
lished at Green Bay, Ste. Marie and La Pointe.
About the same time the mission of St. Ignace
■was established on the north shore of the Straits
of Mackinaw (spelled by the French "Michilli-
macinac"). It is also claimed that the French
traveler, Radisson, during the year of 1658-59,
reached the upper Mississippi, antedating the
claims of Joliet and Marquette as its discoverers
by fourteen years. Nicholas Perrot, an intelli-
gent chronicler who left a manuscript account of
his travels, is said to have made extensive explor-
ations about the head of the great lakes as far
south as the Fox River of Wisconsin, between
1670 and 1690, and to have held an important
conference with representatives of numerous
tribes of Indians at Sault Ste Marie in June.
1671. Perrot is also said to have made the first
discovery of lead mines in the West.

Up to this time, however, no white man appears
to have reached the "Illinois Country," though
much had been heard of its beauty and its wealth
in game. On May 17, 1673, Louis Joliet, an enter-
prising explorer who had already visited the Lake
Superior region in .search of copper mines, under
a commission from the Governor of Canada, in
company with Father Jacques Marquette and
five voyageurs, with a meager stock of provisions
and a few trinkets for trading with the natives,
set out in two birch-bark canoes from St. Ignace
on a tour of exploration southward. Coasting
along the west shore of Lake Michigan and Green
Bay and through Lake Winnebago, thej' reached
the country of the Mascoutins on Fox River,
ascended that stream to the portage to the Wis-
consin, then descended the latter to the Mis-
sissippi, which the}' discovered on June 17.
Descending the Mississippi, which they named
"Rio de la Conception, " they passed the mouth of
the Des Moines, where thej' are supposed to have
encountered the first Indians of the Illinois
tribes, by whom they were hospitably enter-



tained. Later they discovered a rude painting
upon the rocks on the east side of the river,
which, from the description, is supposed to have
been the famous "Piasa Bird," which was still to
be seen, a short distance above Alton, within the
present generation. (See Piaaa Bird, The
Legend of.) Passing the mouth of the Missouri
River and the present site of the city of St.
Louis, and continuing past the mouth of the
Ohio, they finally reached what JIarquette called
the village of the Akanseas. which has been
assumed to be identical with the mouth of the
Arkansas, though it has been questioned whether
they proceeded so far south. Convinced that the
Mississippi "had its mouth in Florida or the Gulf
of Mexico, " and fearing capture by the Spaniards,
they started on their return. Reaching the
mouth of the Illinois, they entered that stream
and ascended past the village of the Peorias and
the "Illinois town of the Kaskaskias"' — the
latter being about where the town of Utica, La
Salle County, now stands — at each of which they
made a brief stay. Escorted by guides from the
Kaskaskias, they crossed the portage to Lake
Michigan where Chicago now stands, and re-
turned to Green Bay, which they reached in the
latter part of September. (See Joliet and Mar-
quette. )

The next and most important expedition to Illi-
nois — important because it led to the first per-
manent settlements — was undertaken by Robert
Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, in 1079. This eager
and intelligent, but finally >infortunate, discov-
erer had spent several years in exploration in
the lake region and among the streams south of
the lakes and west of the AUeghenies. It has
been claimed that, during this tour, lie descended
the Ohio to its junction with the Mississippi ;
also that he reached the Illinois by way of the
head of Lake Michigan and the Chicago portage,
and even descended the Jlississippi to the 36th
parallel, antedating Mai'quette"s first visit to
that stream by two years. The chief authority
for this claim is La Salle's biographer, Pierre
Margry, who bases his statement on alleged con-
versations with La Salle and letters of his friends.
The absence of any allusion to these discoveries
in La .Salle's own papers, of a later date, addressed
to the King, is regarded as fatal to this claim.
However thismaj- have been, there is conclusive
evidence that, during this period, he met with
Joliet while the latter was returning from one of
his trips to the Lake Superior country. With an
imagination fired by what he then learned, he
made a visit to his native country, receiving a



246



HISTORICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ILLINOIS.



liberal grant from the French Government which
enabled him to carry out his plans. With the
aid of Henry de Tonty, an Italian who afterward
accompanied him in his most important expedi-
tions, and who proved a most valuable and eflB-
cient co-laborer, under the auspices of Frontenac,
then Governor of Canada, he constructed a small
vessel at the foot of Lake Erie, in which, with a
company of thirty-four persons, he set sail on
the seventh of August, 1679, for the West. This
vessel (named the "'Griffon") is believed to have
been the first sailing-vessel that ever navigated
the lakes. His oliject was to reach the Illinois,
and he carried with him material for a boat
which he intended to put together on that
stream. Arriving in Green Bay early in Septem-
ber, by way of Lake Huron and the straits of
Mackinaw, he disembarked liis stores, and, load-
ing the Griffon with furs, started it on its return
with instructions, after discharging its cargo at
the starting point, to join him at the head of
Lake Michigan. With a force of seventeen men
and three missionaries in four canoes, he started
southward, following the western shore of Lake
Michigan past the mouth of the Chicago River,
on Nov. 1, 1679, and reached the mouth of
the St. Joseph River, at the southeast corner of
the lake, which had been selected as a rendez-
vous. Here he was joined by Tonty, three weeks
later, with a force of twenty Frenchmen who
had come by the eastern shore, but the Griffon
never was heard from again, and is supposed to
have been lost on the return voyage. While
waiting for Tonty he erected a fort, afterward
called Fort Miami. The two parties here united,
and, leaving four men in charge of the fort, with
the remaining thirty-three, he resumed his
journey on the third of December. Ascending
the St. Josepli to about where South Bend, Ind.,
now stands, he made a portage with his canoes
and stores across to the headwaters of the Kan-
kakee, which he descended to the Illinois. On
the first of January lie arrived at the great Indian
town of the Kaskaskias. which Marquette had
left for the last time nearly five years before, but
found it deserted, the Indians being absent on a
hunting expedition. Proceeding down the Illi-
nois, on Jan. 4, 1680. he passed through Peoria
Lake and the next morning reached the Indian
village of that name at the foot of the lake, and
established friendly relations with its people.
Having determined to set up his vessel here, he
constructed a rude fort on the eastern bank of
the river about four miles south of the village.
With the exception of the cabin built for Mar-



quette on the South Branch of the Chicago River
in the winter of 1674-75, this was probably the
first structure erected by white men in Illinois.
This received the name "Creve-Cceur — "Broken
Heart" — which, from its subsequent history,
proved exceedingly appropriate. Having dis-
patched Father Louis Hennepin with two com-
panions to the Upper Mississippi, by way of the
mouth of the Illinois, on an expedition which
resulted in the discovery of the Falls of St.
Anthony, La Salle started on his return to
Canada for additional assistance and the stores
which he had failed to receive in consequence of
the loss of the Griffon. .Soon after his depar-
ture, a majority of the men left with Tonty at
Fort Creve-Coeur mutinied, and, having plundered
the fort, partially destroyed it. This compelled
Tonty and five companions who had remained
true, to retreat to the Indian village of the Illi-
nois near "Starved Rock," between where the
cities of Ottawa and La Salle now stand, where
he spent the summer awaiting the return of La
Salle. In September, Tontj-'s Indian allies hav-
ing been attacked and defeated by the Iroquois,
he and his companions were again compelled to
flee, reaching Green Bay the next spring, after
having spent the winter among the Pottawato-
mies in the present State of Wisconsin.

During the next three years (1681-83) La Salle
made two other visits to Illinois, encountering
and partially overcoming formidable obstacles at
each end of the journey. At the last visit, in
company witli the faithful Tonty, whom he had
met at JIackinaw in the spring of 1681, after a
separation of more than a year, he extended his
exploration to the mouth of the Mississippi, of
which he took formal possession on April 9, 1682,
in the name of "Louis the Grand, King of France
and Navarre." This was the first expedition of
white men to pass down the river and determine
the problem of its discharge into the Gulf of
Mexico.

Returning to Mackinaw, and again to Illinois,
in the fall of 1682, Tonty set about carrying into
effect La Salle's scheme of fortifying "The Rock, "
to which reference has been made under the
name of "Starved Rock. " The buildings are said
to have included store-houses (it was intended as
a trading post), dwellings and a block-house
erected on the summit of the rock, and to which
the name of "Fort St. Louis ' %vas given, while a
village of confederated Indian tribes gathered
about its base on the south which bore the name
of La Vantum. According to the historian,
Parkman, the population of this colony, in the



HISTORICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ILLINOIS.



247



days of its greatest prosperity, was not less than
30,000. Tonty retained his headquarters at Fort
St. Louis for eighteen years, during which he
made extensive excursions throughout the West.
The proprietorship of the fort was granted to
hini in 1690, but, in 1702, it was ordered by the
Governor of Canada to be discontinued on the
plea that the charter had been violated. It con-
tinued to be used as a trading post, however, as
late as 1718, when it was raided by the Indians
and burned. (See La Salle; Tonty; Hennepin,
and Starved Rock. )

Other explorers who were the contemporaries
or early successors of Marquette, Joliet, La Salle,
Tonty, Hennepin and their companions in the
Northwest, and many of whom are known to have
visited the "Illinois Country, " and probably all
of whom did so, were Daniel Greysolon du Lhut
(called by La Salle, du Luth), a cousin of Tonty,
who was the first to reach the Mississippi directly
from Lake Superior, and from whom the city of
Duluth has been named ; Henry Joutel, a towns-
man of La Salle, who was one of the survivors of
the ill-fated Matagorda Bay colony ; Pierre Le
Sueur, the discoverer of the Minnesota River,
and Baron la Hontan, who made a tour through
Illinois in 1688-89, of which he published an
account in 1703.

Chicago River early became a prominent point
in the estimation of the French explorers and
was a favorite line of travel in reaching the Illi-
nois by way of the Des Plaines, though probably
sometimes confounded with other streams about
the head of the lake. The Calumet and Grand
Calumet, allowing easy portage to the Des Plaines,
were also used, while the St. Joseph, from which
portage was had into the Kankakee, seems to
have been a part of the route first used by La
Salle.

Aborigines and Early Missions. — When the
early French explorers arrived in the "Illinois
Covmtry'' they found it occupied by a number of
tribes of Indians, the most numerous being the
"Illinois," which consisted of several families or
bands that spread themselves over the country on
both sides of the Illinois River, extending even
west of the Mississippi ; the Piankeshaws on the
east, extending beyond the present western
boundary of Indiana, and the Miamis in the
northeast, %vith whom a weaker tribe called the
Weas were allied. The Illinois confederation
included the Kaskaskias. Peorias, Cahokias,
Tamaroas and Mitchigamies — the last being the
tribe from which Lake Michigan took its name.
(See Illinois Indians. ) There seems to have been



a general drift of some of the stronger tribes
toward the south and east about this time, as
AUouez represents that he found the Miamis and
their neighbors, the Mascoutins, about Green Bay
when he arrived there in 1670. At the same
time, there is evidence that the Pottawatomies
were located along the southern shore of Lake
Superior and about the Sault Ste. Marie (now
known as "The Soo"), though within the next
fifty years they had advanced southward along
the western shore of Lake Michigan until they
reached where Chicago now stands. Other tribes
from the north were the Kickapoos, Sacs and
Foxes, and Winnebagoes, while the Shawnees
were a branch of a stronger tribe from the south-
east Charlevoix, who wrote an account of his
visit to the "Illinois Country" in 1721, says:
"Fifty years ago the Miamis were settled on the
southern extremity of Lake Michigan, in a place
called Chicago from the name of a small river
which runs into the lake, the source of which is
not far di.stant from that of the River Illinois."
It does not follow necessarily that this was the
Chicago River of to-day, as the name appears to
have been applied somewhat indefinitely, by the
early explorers, both to a region of country
between the head of the lake and the Illinois
River, and to more than one stream emptying
into the lake in that vicinity. It has been con-
jectured that the river meant by Charlevoix
was the Calumet, as his description would apply
as well to that as to the Chicago, and there is
other evidence that the Miamis, who were found
about the mouth of the St. Joseph River during
the- eighteenth century, occupied a portion of
Southern Michigan and Northern Indiana, ex-
tending as far east as the Scioto River in Ohio.

From the first, the Illinois seem to have con-
ceived a strong liking for the French, and being
pressed by the Iroquois on the east, the Sacs and
Foxes, Pottawatomies and Kickapoos on the
north and the Sioux on the west, by the begin-
ning of the eighteenth century we find them,
much reduced in numbers, gathered about the
French settlements near the mouth of the Kas-
kaskia (or Okaw) River, in the western part of
the present counties of Randolph, Monroe and St.
Clair. In spite of the zealous efforts of the mis-
sionaries, the contact of the.se tribes with the
whites was attended with the usual results-
demoralization, degradation and gradual extermi-
nation. The latter result was hastened by the
frequent attacks to which they were exposed
from their more warlike enemies, so that by the
latter part of the eighteenth century, they were



248



HISTOKICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ILLINOIS.



reduced to a few hundred dissolute and depraved
survivors of a once vigorous and warlike race.

During the early part of the French occupation,
there arose a cliief named Chicagou ( from whom
the city of Chicago received its name) who ap-



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