George Washington Smith.

A history of southern Illinois : a narrative account of its historical progress, its people, and its principal interests (Volume v.1) online

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of the older states, the governor and judges acting as the law-making
branch of the Indiana territory, on September 22, 1803, passed "A
Law Concerning Servants." It provided that a person coming into
the territory "under contract to serve another in any trade or occu-
pation shall be compelled to perform such contract during the term
thereof." The contract was assignable to any citizen of the terri-
tory, if the servant consented.

Intimately related with this subject of slavery in the Indiana ter-
ritory, was the question of advancement to the second grade of terri-
torial form of government. This indenture law of 1803, was not re-
garded as a very safe guarantee to the southern slave holder, and few
slaves were brought in. Notwithstanding this timidity on the part of
the slave owner to migrate into the Northwest territory, there was a
constant stream of people coming from the non-slaveholding states
and also non-slaveholders from the slave states. There can be little
doubt that Harrison and his friends were favorable to some plan by
which slavery could be introduced, but unless something could be
done soon there would be no chance as the whole territory would be

The law of congress creating the Indiana territory, also provided
that the government might at any time be changed to the second class
when the majority of the people favored such a change. It was ar-
gued that laws passed by a representative legislature would be re-
garded with more consideration than those enacted by the governor
and judges. Besides they would have a delegate in congress who
while not being allowed to vote would yet be of great service to the
people of the territory. The governor, therefore, issued a call for an
election to test the wish of the people as to the change from the first
grade of government to the second grade. The election was called
August 4, 1804, to be held September 11; and the complaint was made
that the time was too short for even all the voters to learn of the
election. Certainly something worked against a full poll of the terri-
tory as only four hundred votes were cast. The majority in favor of
the change was one hundred and thirty-eight.

The governor called an election for members of the legislature.
The election was held on January 3, 1805, and on February 1, they
convened at Vincennes. There were nine members of the lower
house. Randolph sent Dr. George Fisher, while St. Clair sent Shad-
rach Bond and "William Biggs. The council was selected in the usual
way. Pierre Menard represented Randolph and John Hay was St.
Clair 's representative in that body. The full legislature met July
29, 1805. The first thing was the election of a representative or dele-
gate to congress. Benjamin Parke was chosen. The next thing was


to pass "An Act concerning the introduction of negroes and mulat-
toes into this territory." This was an indenture law. It provided
that any slave-holder might bring his slave into the territory, and
enter into an agreement with the slave as to the length of time the
slave was to work for the owner. If the slave refused to enter into
a contract, the owner had sixty days in which to return him to a slave
state. The "indenture" was acknowledged before the clerk of the
court and placed on record. The slave was then known as an indented
slave or an indented servant. If the slave-holder has slaves under
fifteen years of age he may simply register them with the clerk of the
court. The males must then serve the owner till they are thirty-five,
and females till they are thirty-two. Children born of indented par-
ents must serve their masters males till they are thirty-two, females
till they are twenty-eight.


From the day the Indiana territory was set off from what came to
be the state of Ohio, the people of Illinois began to agitate the mat-
ter of dividing the Indiana territory. The Illinois people complained
that it was a great inconvenience to go so far to the seat of govern-
ment. In a petition to congress the Illinois people complained that
the road to Vincennes was a hundred and eighty miles through an
uninhabited country which it was really dangerous to travel.

Another argument was that the governor, William H. Harrison,
appointed only friends to office and that all important places were
filled with the governor's Indiana friends.

A third argument in favor of the division was that the people in
the Illinois region were favorable to slavery while the Indiana people
were quite indifferent to the subject of introducing slavery. The Illi-
nois people thought if they could get a separate territorial govern-
ment, they could manage many problems peculiar to the Illinois peo-
ple better than could the legislature as then composed.

In the session of the legislature in Vincennes in 1808, a delegate
to congress was to be elected. Mr. Jesse B. Thomas, the presiding
officer, promised the Illinois members if they would vote for him as
delegate to congress, he would secure the division. The bargain was
made and carried out.

February 3, 1809, congress passed an act separating the Indiana
territory, by a line running north from Vincennes to Canada, into
the two territories of Indiana and Illinois.

ILLINOIS (1809-1812)


The bill which passed congress and was signed by the President
February 3, 1809, contained eight sections. The first "Be it enacted.
. . . That, from and after the first day of March next, that part
of the Indiana territory which lies west of the Wabash river, and a
direct line drawn from Post Vincennes due north, to the territorial line
between the United States and Canada, shall, for the purpose of tem-
porary government, constitute a separate territory and be called Illi-
nois." The second section provided for a government of the first class
a governor, three judges, a secretary. The third provided for their
appointment by the president. The fourth allowed the governor to
call an election for the purpose of determining the desire of the people
to enter the second grade of territorial government. And if favorable
then he was to carry such desire into effect. Article five prohibited
Indiana officials from exercising authority in Illinois. Article six
provided that all suits and proceedings in process of being settled should
be completed as if the division had not been made. Article seven guar-
anteed to the Indiana government the current taxes due from lands
lying in Illinois. Article eight fixed the seat of government at Kas-
kaskia until such time as the legislature should locate it elsewhere.

Nathaniel Pope was appointed secretary April 24. He was, for four
or five years previous to his appointment, a resident of St. Genevieve
but practiced law in Illinois. Ninian Edwards was appointed governor
also on April 24, 1809. He was a judge of the court in Kentucky. The
judges were Alexander Stuart, Obadiah Jones, and Jesse B. Thomas.
Judge Stuart was transferred to Missouri, and Stanley Griswold filled
the vacancy.

Governor Edwards was a man of unusual parts. He had a collegiate
training and was a man of wonderful resources. Henry Clay is said
to have indorsed Judge Edwards for this place, saying, "I have no
doubt that the whole representation from the state (Kentucky) would
concur in ascribing to him every qualification for the office in question."

Nathaniel Pope, who was at Kaskaskia much earlier than Governor
Edwards, issued a proclamation establishing the two counties of Ran-
dolph and St. Clair. Governor Edwards arrived in June and imme-
diately called a legislative session of the governor and judges. The
laws first provided were those previously in force in the Indiana terri-
tory. The action of the secretary in appointing local officers was con-



firmed. Among these territorial officers we may mention Robert Morri-
son, adjutant general, Benjamin Stephenson, sheriff of Randolph, and
John Hays, sheriff of St. Clair. Other minor positions were filled in
the two counties.

The government of the Illinois territory was now completely organ-
ized and the people had realized what was for many years a buoyant
hope. They said in favor of division, that it would increase immigration
and bring prosperity to a lagging and unremuneratve industrial life.
They argued that towns would spring up, farms would be opened, and
that commerce would be greatly augmented. Their prophecy was ful-

By a law of congress, passed March 26, 1804, there were established
three land offices one at Kaskaskia, one at Vincennes, and one at De-
troit. When the United States came into possession of the public do-
main, there was no thought of attempting to dispose of it in smaller
tracts than many thousands of acres. It was supposed that large com-
panies and wealthy individuals would buy these large tracts and then
go into the retail business. When Mr. Harrison was a delegate in con-
gress, he got a bill through which reduced the tracts to one square mile
640 acres. The price fixed was $2.00 per acre, one-fourth to be paid
in cash and three-fourths on credit. Later the size of the tract was re-
duced; so also was the price. The establishing of the land office at
Kaskaskia in 1804 greatly increased the immigration to the Illinois
country. So much so that the population of Illinois grew from 2,500
in 1800 to 12,282 in 1810, by the census of those dates.

When Governor Edwards came to take charge of affairs in the Illi-
nois territory, or shortly thereafter, in addition to the number of settle-
ments in the two counties of Randolph and St. Clair, there were settle-
ments in the territory composing the counties of Jackson, Union, John-
son, Massac, Pope, Gallatin, Monroe. In spite of the complaints made
of the drawbacks of the undivided territory prior to 1809, there had
been a great increase in population, in industries, in home-making, and
in all the activities which were destined eventually 'to make Illinois a
great state.

But shortly after Governor Edwards arrived in the new territory,
the peace and safety of the ten thousarid inhabitants were threatened.
The Indians had, in recent years, ceded nearly all their claims to land
in Indiana and Illinois, and they now became dissatisfied, and their
minds were inflamed. Tecumseh and the Prophet were busy inciting
the Indians to deeds of violence. Almost constant interviews were go-
ing on between the Indians and those in authority in the two territories.
The battle of Tippecanoe was fought on the 6th of November, 1811,
and while Illinois had no military organization in the battle, yet there
were individuals from around the salt works and Shawneetown who
took part in the engagement. Col. Isaac White of Shawneetown, a
lessee of the salt works, was a personal friend of Governor Harrison.
He took part in the camapign and was killed in the battle above re-
ferred to.

Those who favored separation of Illinois from Indiana had argued
that it would greatly increase the immigration into the territory and
in other ways greatly benefit the territory. These prophecies were ful-
filled. The land offices spoken of above greatly stimulated the sale of
land to actual settlers.


When Governor Edwards had gotten fairly settled in his official
home as governor of the new territory, the citizens of Kaskaskia and
Randolph counties presented him with a memorial pledging him their
hearty support in the discharge of his official duties. In this address
they call particular attention to the hard fight they had gone through
to get the territory separated from Indiana. They mention the hang-
ing of Jesse B. Thomas in effigy at Vincennes in condemnation of his
efforts to secure the separation, and also the assassination of an advo-
cate of separation in Kaskaskia. Governor Edwards says when he came
to the territory he found it divided into violent political factions. He
endeavored, and really succeeded, in holding himself aloof from these
ruinous factional quarrels.

But Governor Edwards had harely gotten the civil and military
organizations well established before there began a series of difficulties
with the Indians which were a source of great anxiety not only to the
governor, but to the whole people. Several massacres occurred in the
region of the Illinois river, and there followed long interviews and
exchanges of linguistic courtesies. The Indians were greatly disturbed
everywhere in the west. The battle of Tippecanoe was fought in 1811,
and in 1812 war broke out between the United States and England.
The Indians throughout the west and particularly around the lakes
sided with the British.

WAR OF 1812

We may state here that while the territory was absorbed in the War
of 1812, the people voted to pass from a territory of the first class to one
of the second class.

Governor Edwards was active in his efforts to provide defenses for
the American settlements in the Illinois territory. A line of block-
houses was built reaching from west to east. Unfortunately it is difficult
to locate these block-houses and forts accurately. In some counties either
by tradition or by records some of them can be located. They were some-
times quite extensive affairs. The block-house was often enclosed by a
stockade large enough to shelter the stock of the neighborhood. The
block-house was often nothing more than a strong log house with port-
holes. From the best information now available block-houses, forts, or
stockades were erected at or near the following places : One at Carlyle ;
one near Aviston in Clinton county called Journey '& or Tourney 's fort ;
two in the western part of Bond county, called Hill's fort and Jones'
fort; one at the edge of Looking Glass Prairie on Silver creek in St.
Clair county, called Chamber's fort; two, Middleton's and Going's, on
the Kaskaskia; Nat Hill's fort on Doza creek; Jordan's block-house in
the northwestern corner of Franklin county ; one southwest of Marion,
Williamson county ; one southeast of Marion on Saline river ; Stone Fort
on the Saline river; one at the mouth of the Illinois river on the west
side ; one nineteen miles above the mouth of the Illinois ; and lastly Fort
Russell which was probably the most complete and pretentious fortifi-
cation in the state in this war. It was located about one and a half
miles northwest of Edwardsville. It included a substantial palisade with
buildings for supplies, headquarters, and barracks for soldiers. Some
cannon were brought there from old Fort Chartres. This fort was
named after Col. William Russell of Kentucky who had command of
the rangers in the War of 1812.



As soon as war was declared by the United States, the Indians in
northern and central Illinois became exceedingly warlike. Governor
Edwards had taken the precaution to have his militia well organized.
Some 500 of them were called into service. Colonel Russell was sent
into Illinois to organize the United States rangers. Colonel Russell was
a Kentuckian. Several companies of the regiment of rangers were en-
listed from Southern Illinois. Two expeditions were made from Fort
Russell northward into the central part of the state. One in 1812 and
one in 1813. Both had Peoria as their destination. But no real battles
were fought with the Indians. The first expedition captured several
families of French who lived about Peoria who were thought to be sym-
pathetic with the Indians. They were brought to a point just below
Alton and there set ashore without food or shelter, and after much suf-


fering they reached St. Louis. The "Life and Times of Ninian Ed-
wards" says they were landed in St. Louis.

The most important event that occurred in Illinois during the War
of 1812, was the Fort Dearborn massacre. Fort Dearborn was a stock-
ade and block-house fort just at the mouth of the Chicago river. It was
occupied by government troops as early as 1803. In 1812 there were
probably a half dozen houses in Chicago outside of the buildings about
the stockade. The officer in command was Capt. Nathan Heald. Other
officers were Lieutenant Liani F. Helm, Ensign George Ronan, Surgeon
Isaac Van Voorhis. John Kinzie was the principal Indian trader.
There were seventy-four soldiers in the garrison. By the middle of the
summer of 1812, the Indians became very demonstrative and two mur-
ders were committed, and other violent conduct engaged in. Captain
Heald had received orders to evacuate the fort and move his command
to Fort Wayne. He was advised by friendly Indians to prepare for a
siege, or 'to leave the fort at once. He did not take this advice but noti-
fied the Indians that he expected to abandon the fort and that he would
distribute the public property among them. This action on the part of
the commanding officer, it was supposed, would greatly please the In-
dians and this would guarantee his safe passage to Fort Wayne. This









Vol. J 8



decision on the part of Captain Heald was strongly opposed by the of-
ficers and Kinzie, the trader. As soon as this word was circulated among
the Indians, they became insolent and treated the authority of Captain
Heald with contempt. By the 12th of August the Indians had gathered
in large numbers and a council was held in which Captain Heald told
the Indians his plans. He proposed to distribute among them all his
public stores, and in return they were to furnish him an escort of 500
warriors to Port Wayne. There immediately grew up in the fort the
greatest fear for the safety of the little garrison. Fear grew to despair,
and open rebellion against the order of the commander was imminent.
Captain Heald decided that he would destroy the guns, ammunition,
and liquor in the fort, as these in the hands of the Indians would only
be the means of death to the garrison.


On the 13th of August the goods were distributed among the Indians.
They soon discovered that there were certain things which they expected
that they did not receive, and they began to show their dissatisfaction
and disappointment. On the 14th Captain Wells, a brother to Mrs.
Heald, arrived with some friendly Miamis. He had been brought up
among the Indians and he knew from what he saw and heard that "all
was not well."

On the morning of the 15th the sun rose gloriously over Lake Michi-
gan. By nine o'clock the little army was ready to depart for Fort
Wayne. Each soldier was given twenty-five rounds of ammunition.
The baggage wagons, the ambulance and the little army proceeded on
their fatal journey.

When a mile and a half from the fort they discovered Indians hidden
behind sand hills, ready to attack. The soldiers were fired upon and
returned the fire. The conflict then became general and lasted for some
time. Finally after nearly half of the soldiers had been killed, the
remnant surrendered. In the agreement to surrender no stipulation was
made as to the treatment of the wounded, and it is said by eye witnesses
that their treatment by the infuriated Indians beggars all description.
Twenty-six regulars, twelve militia, two women and twelve children were


left dead on the field of conflict. The prisoners were scattered here and
there but were finally ransomed.

The fort was destroyed by the Indians, but was rebuilt and occupied
in 1816 or 1817. It was finally abandoned in 1836.


It remains to record a final campaign conducted by Major Zachary
Taylor, later president of the United States, supported by Illinois troops.
It was very necessary to have a strong fort and garrison somewhere in
the region of Rock Island, and the expedition was intended to establish
such fort and garrison. The expedition which moved up the Mississippi
consisted of 40 United States regulars and 294 Illinois troops under
the command of Capt. Samuel Whiteside and Nelson Rector, two noted
Indian fighters the whole under command of Colonel Taylor. The
expedition started August 23, 1814. It moved up the Mississippi and
above Rock Island encountered strong opposition from the Indians, and
learning that British troops were in the vicinity with artillery, the boats
descended the river. The British had been able to bring their cannon to
the banks of the river in time to bombard the retreating vessels. It was
remarkable that the boats were not sunk and all on board killed. Fort
Edwards was built in the present county of Hancock about where War-
saw is, and after holding this point a short time the position was evacu-
ated and the troops returned to St. Louis.

Among the Illinois officers who won distinction in the War of 1812
were William and Samuel Whitesides, cousins, who lived in the Ameri-
can Bottoms, at a place called Whitesides Station, a family fort, prob-
ably of the block-house form. These two pioneers acted as captains in
Russell's rangers and became very noted because of their activity in
the defense of the American families. James B. Moore whose father
was one of the spies sent by General Clark to Kaskaskia in the year 1777,
was a captain in Russell 's rangers. Jacob Short who settled near Belle-
fontaine in 1796 was captain of a ranger company. Others who won
distinction were John Moredock ; William and Nathan Boone, the former
of whom was paymaster for a portion of the rangers. He paid them in
rix-dollars, a foreign silver coin of the value of 60 cents to one dollar and
fifteen cents. William, Stephen, Charles, Elias, and Nelson Rector were
all prominent officers in the war. Nathaniel Journey was an officer part
of the time, but was engaged chiefly in guarding settlers in the vicin-
ity of Carlyle. Willis Hargrave was captain of a company of independ-
ent rangers near the Wabash. Later he was a major in the "Spy Bat-
talion" in the Black Hawk war. Captain Samuel Judy was also an ac-
tive man in the war. In 1816 at St. Louis, Gov. Ninian Edwards of
Illinois territory, Gov. William Clark of Missouri territory, and Auguste
Choteau of St. Louis, consummated a treaty with the chiefs and war-
riors of the Ottawas, the Chippewas, and the Pottawatomies in which
treaty the tribes ceded all lands south of a line running east and west
through the south end of Lake Michigan. They also ceded a strip of
land ten miles in width from the mouth of the Fox river to the lake at
Chicago. This strip of land was acquired by the government with the
expectation that at an early date the government would build a canal
from Lake Michigan to the head of navigation on the Illinois river.
This expectation was realized when the Illinois and Michigan canal was


A study of the roster of officers and men who took part in this bor-
der warfare, reveals a number of names prominent in the history of the
state. Prom the beginning to the end of this struggle there were prob-
ably two or three thousand citizens enrolled in the service. Scores of
lives were lost most of them near their houses. It remains to tell a
story of horrid butchery which occurred on Wood river in Madison
county, on the 10th day of July, 1814. Mrs. Rachel Reagan and two
children went to spend the day at the house of William Moore. In the
afternoon on her way home, she came by another neighbor's house, Cap-
tain Abel Moore. From the latter place she was accompanied by four
small children, two of William Moore 's and two of Abel Moore 's. When
the little company of seven were between the homes of Abel Moore and
Mrs. Reagan, they were attacked by savages and six killed outright ; the
seventh, a little boy, was found alive but died from the effects of his
wounds. William Moore returned home from Fort Butler (near St.
Jacobs) and finding the children absent went in search of them. They
were found but the Indians were still lurking in the immediate locality
and the bodies were not recovered till the next morning. The two forts,
Russell and Butler, were notified and a pursuing party organized. The
savages were followed to a point north of Jacksonville and one of them
killed, the rest escaped. More than fifty non-combatants lost their lives
in Illinois during this war.

Online LibraryGeorge Washington SmithA history of southern Illinois : a narrative account of its historical progress, its people, and its principal interests (Volume v.1) → online text (page 17 of 65)