H.F. Kett.

The History of Jo Daviess County, Illinois, containing a history of the county, its cities, towns, etc., a biographical directory of its citizens, war record of its volunteers in the late rebellion ... history of the Northwest, history of Illinois ... Constitution of the United States online

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Online LibraryH.F. KettThe History of Jo Daviess County, Illinois, containing a history of the county, its cities, towns, etc., a biographical directory of its citizens, war record of its volunteers in the late rebellion ... history of the Northwest, history of Illinois ... Constitution of the United States → online text (page 24 of 109)
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tributed liberally to all public and charitable enterprises. He gave to
Galena the lots on which its public school building stands, and established
the Episcopal Church in Galena. He was and is a part of the history of
Jo Daviess County.

James G. Soulard, now an aged man, still lives amid the scenes of his
earlier life. Of him Hon. E. B. Washburne says: "He still holds that
high place in the esteem, respect and affection of all our people which a
long life of probity and honor have secured to him. Is probably the only
man living who ascended the Mississippi River from St. Louis to Fort
Snelling as early as 1821. What he has lived to see in the development of
this country, surpasses all that which could have been conceived by the wildest

Early in 1827 the name of the Village of Fever River was changed to
Galena, and became generally known by that name. It is said that to i)r.
Samuel C. Muir belongs the honor of giving it this name, suggested by the
name applied to lead ore, but this is doubtful. A public meeting was held
to select a name, in the Winter of 1826-'7, and at that meeting Richard W.
Chandler is said to have suggested the name "Galena," which was adopted.
The first public religious services known to be held in the mines occurred
in 1827, conducted, says Lorrain, by Rev. Revis Cormac. It is said, how-
ever, that an Episcopal clergyman, a chaplain of the Hudson Bay Company
at York Factory; was here, weather bound, in 1826, and preached on Sun-
day in the log tavern then just built opposite the present site of the De Soto

In the Autumn of this year Hugh W. Shannon built a saw mill on
Small Pox Creek, about one mile from its mouth, having received a permit
dated July 17, 1827, from the superintendent of lead mines to occupy 80
acres of land there. This, says Mr. St. Cyr, is the first saw mill known to
be built in this county. Mr. Seymour, in his "History of Galena," pub-
lished in the first directory, 1847, says: "The first mill in this section of
county, carried by water power, was a corn-cracker, erected on Spring
Brook, near the northern limits of the city. The hopper held about a peck,
and the building which sheltered it was a dry goods box." But singularly
enough Mr. Seymour omitted to give the date of this primitive mill. It
is now to be added, however, that this mill was put in operation by Hiram
Imus in 1828. It was the corn-cracker of the pioneers, a cast iron mill,
like a huge coffee mill. These mills were usually run by hand, but Imus
contrived to run his machine by water.

During this year (1827), much sickness prevailed in the Mining Dis-



trict. Dysentery, diarrhoea, or flux, prevailed as an epidemic to an alarming
extent. The few doctors in the county were constantly engaged, but there
was much suffering for the want of medical attendance and proper nursing,
and many deaths occurred in consequence.

In the Winter of 1826-'7 occurred the famous dispute, graphically
described in Lorrain's " Centennial History." In the Summer or Fall of
1826, two boys had discovered a" rich lead. Complying with the reg-
ulations to secure their claim, they concluded to let it rest for a while, and
attend Mr. Lawrence's school. While doing this, an adventurer, who had lost,
as the miners termed it, his " bottom dollar," came across their diggings,
" jumped," and applied to the agent for a permit. Mr. McKnight, discov-
ering that the boys made a prior claim, appointed J. Duncan and James
Higley arbitrators in the case, who decided in favor of the boys. Lorrain

The defeated party, being a great athletic fellow, declared that he would not stand by
the "'decision, but would resort to the law of might. Early the next morning the two lads,
instead of going to school, armed themselves and went out to their claim. They had not
been there long before their opponent also appeared, fully armed. The boys ordered him to
stand, and told him that now was the time to try the case by his code, lie scanned their
countenances for a few moments and then left, never disturbing them again. Both of these
boys are now living, in the persons of Capt. D. S. Harris, of Galena, and his brother, R. S.
Harris, of Dubuque, Iowa.

Better than any history compiled from the fragmentary statements of
after years better even than unaided memory, striving often in vain to
recall the events of lit'ty years ago, are the letters and memoranda \vritten
at that time by intelligent men, who lived here, and knew whereof they
wrote. Dr. E. G. JS'ewhall has permitted the following copy of a letter,
written by his honored father, Dr. Horatio Kewhali, to his brother Isaac
Newhall, Esq., of Salem, Mass., to be taken expressly for this work. It will
be valuable to the people of this county, both on account of the information
it conveys, and because the writer, nowpassed away, is tenderly enshrined
in their memories.



Nov. 20, 1827. )
Dear Brother:

I received, by the last mail brought here by steamboat "Josephine," a newspaper
from you, on the margin of which were endorsed the following words: "Write a full
account.'' I was rejoiced to see once more a Massachusetts paper, and presume you meant
by the endorsement, a full account of " Fever River." This would puzzle me or any other
person on the River. It is a nondescript. It is such a place as no one could conceive of,
without seeing it. Strangers hate it, and residents like it. The appearance of the country
would convince any one it must be healthy; yet, last season, it was more sickly than Havana
or New Orleans. There is no civil law here, nor has the Gospel been yet introduced; or, to
make use of a common phrase here, " Neither law nor Gospel can pass the rapids of the Mis-
sissippi." The country is one immense prairie, from the Rock River on the south to
the Ouisconsiu on the north, and from the Mississippi on the west, to Lake Michigan on
the east. It is a hilly country and abounding with lead ore of that species called by miner-
alogists " galena," whence is derived the name of our town. The lead mines of the Upper
Mississippi, as well as those ot Missouri, are under the control of the Secretary of War.
Lieutenant Thomas is superintendent. He resides at St. Louis : a bub-agent resides at this
place. Any person wishing to dig gets a permit of the agent to do so, by signing certain
regulations, the principal of which is that he will sell his mineral to no one but a regularly
licensed smelter. He has all the mineral he can raise, and sells it at $17.50 per thousand
(pounds), delivered at the furnaces. Any person who gets a permit stakes off two hundred
yards square. This is his lot so long as he works it, and no one can interfi-re with his dis-
coveries. Any person who will give bond to government for $5,000 can have half a mile
square, on condition that he employs 20 laborers, and pays government ten per cent of lead
made from mineral raised on his survey, or sells his mineral to a public smelter. The pub-


lie smelters, of which I am one, give bond for $20,000 to pay government one tenth of all
lead manufactured. They buy mineral of any person who lias a permit to dig, manufacture
it into lead, pay government one tenth, monthly, and are the great men of the country. The
mineral, lead, and cash all go into their hands. H. Newhall & Co. got their furnace in
operation 1st of Sept., 1827. I made, by the 15th, twenty tons of lead. My men became
sick, and I made but 14,000 pounds until 1st of November, since which time I have manu-
factured about 17,000 pounds every week. I have a store of goods, in Galena, for the sup-
ply of those with whom I have dealings, and never sell anything for less than 50 per cent
advance. My furnace is on the Sinsinawa River, three miles from Galena, a stream naviga-
ble for boats to my furnace. * * * The privilege of working these mines, you know,
was first given by the government to Col. Johnson, of Kentucky, five years ago (in 1822).
He did but little and sunk money. Not much lead was made here till last year. There were
then four log buildings in Galena. Now there are one hundred and fifteen houses and stores
in the place. It is the place of deposit for lead and provisions, etc., for all the mining coun-
try. There is no spot in America, of the same size, where there is one fourth of the capital,
or where so much business is done. There was manufactured here, in the year ending Sep-
tember last, five million seven hundred and forty pounds of lead. The population consists
mainly of Americans, Irish and French (that is, in the diggings). There are but compara-
tively few females. Hence, every female, unmarried, who lands on these shores, is
immediately married. Little girls, fourteen and thirteen years old, are often married here.
Three young ladies, who came, fellow passengers with me, in June, and the only ones on
board, are all married months since. Du' Buque's Mines, on the opposite side of the Missis-
sippi, are worked by the Fox Indians. They, however, merely skim the surface. The
windlass and bucket are not known among them. Du' Buque's Mines is a delightful spot,
particularly the Fox Village, on the bank of the Mississippi. But of all the places in the
United States, which I have seen, Rock Island, at the lower rapids of the Mississippi, called
the Rapids of the Des Moines, is by far the most beautiful. Fort Armstrong is on this
island. At the mouth of Fever River is a trading house of the American Fur Company.
Their trading houses are scattered up and down the Mississippi, on the River Des Moines,
St. Peters, etc. Their capital is so large, and they gave such extensive credit to the Indians,
that no private establishment can compete with them. An Indian debt is outlawed, by their
own custom, in one year. The fur company credits each Indian hunter a certain amount
from one to five hundred dollars, according to his industry and skill in hunting and trapping.
If, when they return in the Spring, they have not furs and peltry enough to pay the debt, the
trader loses it. But on the goods sold to the Indians there is a profit of two or three hundred
per cent made, and a profit on the furs received in payment.

Dec. 7, 1827.

Fever River was closed with ice on the 21st of November, and, of course, navigation
is ended, and I have not sent my letter. I now have an opportunity to forward it by private
conveyance to Vandalia. We are now shut out from all intercourse with the world until the
river opens again in Spring. We have no mail as yet, but shall have a mail once in two weeRs
to commence the 1st of January next. I have not received a letter from one of my friends
since I have been in Fever River. I hope you will write me before 1st of January, or as
soon as you receive this letter. Sincerely yours,


This letter was mailed at Vandalia Dec. 25, and by it is established the
fact that although Fever River post-office was established in 1826, it was
not regularly supplied, even once a fortnight, until the Spring of 1828.
Mails were brought by steamboat in the Summer, and in the Winter the
people had none.

In the Fall of 1827, Strader & Thompson brought a keel-boat load of
general merchandise, including a quantity of flour and pork, from St. Louis.
Mr. Bouthillier, whose trading house was on the east side of the river,
near the present site of the railroad station, purchased the entire cargo to
secure the flour, as that was scarce, even then. Winter set in without a suffi-
cient supply of provisions to supply the wants of the miners. Nearly all the
flour obtainable was held by Bouthillier. It was sour and hard. He chopped
it out of the barrels with hatchets, pounded it, sifted it loosely into other
barrels, filling two with the original contents of one, and then sold it for
$30 per barrel. Even then, the settlers saw with alarm, that there was not
enough to last until Spring. The Winter of 1827-'8 was mild and open


until Jan. 6 ; the streets had been muddy, and " not freezing in the least,
even at night " but the river froze over then. Word had reached St. Louis
that the people in the mines were destitute of provisions. The steamboat,
"Josephine," Capt. Clark, was loaded with flour and started oif to take
her chances of getting as near as possible to the mines. Slowly she
made her way up the Mississippi, and when she reached the mouth of Fever
River, the warm weather had weakened the ice, and she made her way, un-
heralded, to Galena. The date of her arrival is fixed by the following entry
in a memorandum book, kept by Dr. H. Newhall: " Feb. 25, 1828, arrived
steamboat ' Josephine ;' broke the ice to get up Fever Biver." Farther
corroborated by a letter from Dr. Newhall to his brother, dated. March 1,
1828, in which he says: " To our astonishment, on Monday last, a steam-
boat arrived from St. Louis." The people rushed to the bank, rejoiced and
amazed to see a steamboat loaded with flour, except Bouthillier. The day
before, Mr. Gratiot had offered him $25 a barrel forall the flour he had, and
the offer was refused. Mr. Gratiot now asked him what he would take for his
flour, and Bouthillier, with a shrug, replied: "Dam! hell ! suppose, by
g.ir ! what man tinks one steamboat come up Fever River in mid de
Wint?" Feb. 27, the river froze over, and March 5 the boat was still
detained by ice, but arrived at St. Louis about March 14.

The following extracts from a letter from Dr. H. Newhall to his
brother, dated March 1, 1S28, will give some idea of social life in the
mines 50 years ago:

We have had but two mails this Winter. It has been pleasantly warm here during
Winter, and the 'Heavy rains caused the ice in the river to break. * * Ithas been extremely
cold for four days ; the river is closed with ice, and the boat (the " Josephine," which an ived'
on tne 25ih), consequently detained. We have been almost completely isolated from the rest of
tlie world this Winter. We have received the President's Message and proceedings of Congress
up to the 2Gth of December, since that time we have had nothing. We, in Galena, enjoyed our-
selves well during the Winter. There have been ten or twelve balls, the last was on the
22d of February. At noon a salute was fired from the cannon received during the Winne-
bago War. In the evening a ball was given at the Cottage Hotel (the name applied by Dr.
N. to the log tavern on the west side of Main Street, corner of Green), in a hall (building)
sycty feet in length, ornamented with evergreens. * * There were sixty ladies and
ninety gentlemen present. The ladies were elegantly dressed, and many of them were
handsome. The ball was managed with a degree of propriety and decorum scarcely to be
expected in this wild countiy. Had I been suddenly transported into the ball-room, I
should have imagined myself in some eastern city, rather than in the wilds of the upper
Mississippi. Little should I have dreamed that within five miles was the home of the
savage, and that only twelve miles off is a large Fox village, where I have witnessed the
Indian dance around a fresh taken scalp. .March 5. The steamboat (" Josephine ") is
still detained by ice. * * The Miners' Journal, a newspaper, will be commenced
at Galena by 1st of May next. The proprietor, in his prospectus, calls it the Northern
Herald. He altered the'name at my suggestion. * * " Old Buck," the Fox chief,
who discovered (?) the famous " Buck Lead," has been encamped all Winter within a mile of
my furnace (on the Sinsinawa, three miles from town). Himself and sons often visit me in

The Miner's Journal, to which allusion is made, was not started at
the time fixed. The first number was issued July 8, 1828, by James
Jones, proprietor, under the editorial supervision of Dr. Newhall. The
first printing in the first printing office established at Galena, by Jones, is
said to have been an invitation to a ball and excursion, of which the follow-
ing is a fac simile as to style, orthography and punctuation:





M The pleasure

of your company is respectfully solicited to a Party to
be given on board the Steam-Boat Indiana, on Friday
the 4th day of July, at 8 o'clock, A. M.








Galena June 24*A, 1828.

The date of the highest water in the Mississippi within the period of
the occupation of this county by the whites, lias been variously stated by
historians, and men's memories differ. It has been fixed by Seymour,
Lorrain and others as occurring in the Summer of 1826. Careful inquiry,
however, seems to establish the fact that while the water in the river was
high in 1826, it was still higher in 1827, and the highest flood occurred
June, 1828. Capt. D. S. Harris, H. B. Hunt, Allan Tomlin, H. H. Gear,
and others who were here at that time, agree on the statement that the
highest water was in 1828, when, says Capt. H., " the Indians informed
me that it was two feet higher' than they had ever known it." Steamboats
crossed the Portage in ten feet of water, passed along over the bottom where
Main Street now is located (the street has been raised considerable since
then), took on lead at Meeker's Point, near the present Court House, ran up
Meeker's Branch and loaded lead at Miller's tavern, etc. The water backed
up to Hughlett's furnace. Capt. Harris states that in " 1826 there was a
heavy freshet on the Wisconsin River, which submerged Prairie du Chien,
but it did not extend to the upper Mississippi or to the other tributaries,
hence was not felt here very much." lie also states that the water was
always higher in the Mississippi, and, of course, in Fever River, in those
earlier years than it is now.

The arrivals at the minea during 1828 were very numerous. The
Sucker trails were full of teams, and steamboats and keel-boats were loaded
with emigrants. Among the numerous throng may be mentioned George
Ferguson, B. C. St. Cyr, W. Townsend, Jesse Morrison, and hundreds of
others. Daniel Wann, Frederick Stahl, Emily C. Billon (who subsequently
married John Atchison), C. S. Hempstend, and Rev. Aratus Kent, are among
the arrivals of 1829. Mr. Wann has been intimately connected with the
history of this region from that day to the present. He was formerly
largely engaged in trade and in river navigation, but for the last 25 years
has been Surveyor of the Port of Galena, and, says Mr. Washburne, " has
always performed his duty with so much satisfaction to the Government
and the people, through all administrations, that, in all the desire for office,
no man has ever sought to displace him." Mr. Kent organized the first
Presbyterian Church, Oct. 23, 1831, with six members, as follows: Abraham
Hathaway, Abraham Miller, Eliza Barnes, Ann Crow, Susan Gratiot and


Isabella McKibbins. Mr. Stahl engaged in trade, and, so far as known,
took the first lead by wagon to Chicago, in 1833, at the time the
Potawattomie Treaty was made. He loaded two eight-ox teams, belonging
to Hiram Edes, with 3,500 pounds of lead each. The route was via
Dixon, and, says Mr. Stahl, these teams made the first heavy Wagon
trail on that route, although some light government wagons had passed over
the route in 1832.

Among those who came here prior to 1830, whose names'have not been
mentioned, were James Jones, who established the Miners' Journal, Dr.
Addison Philleo, John L. Bogardus (1826), Benj. Mills, one of the most
brilliant lawyers of his time, Dr. A. T. Crow, Samuel Scales, Robert
Graham, the' Gra^ brothers, Abneu\Field, Jthe Argent family, and *Gen. 4
Henry Dodge. yk*%*/Mv* yj*~< A>lliJ-/V (LAwX^ f^ I > A 7 / ^ / ^

In 1 829, David G. Bates built a small steamboat at Cincinnati and
called her the " Galena," to run between Galena and St. Louis. In the
Spring or Summer of that year, Robert S. Harris went to Cincinnati and
came up on her first trip as engineer. She run only a short time and was
lost./ /Cv> 0-*vW\vW fw ftfo. ff%6**jfa

October 10, 1829,* hat sturdy pioneer, who had done so much for the
infant settlement; who had made the first farm in Northern Illinois; who
had seen the little hamlet on Fever River suddenly expand, in the short
space of six years, into a town of no little commercial importance JAMES
HARRIS died suddenly of cholera, the second victim, it is said, of that terri-
ble scourge in the " mines," and the second to be borne to his final resting
place under Masonic honors (Thomas H. January being the first, Dec. 1,
1828). Mr. Harris enjoyed the entire confidence of the. people among
whom he lived and died. He was one' of the first commissioners of
Jo Daviess County, and one of the first justices of the peace in the
county. He was faithful to the interests confided to him by the people,
and was the first man in the county who died in office. James Harris was
born in Connecticut, October 14, 1777; married Abigail Barthrick, of Kin-
derhook, N. Y. (born March 24, 1782), November 9, 1797. Subsequently
removed to Ohio, thence to Fever River. By the death of her husband
Mrs. Harris was left with six children at home to rear and train, the eldest
of whom was then but twenty years old. The brave women who accom-
panied their pioneer husbands to this wild country at that early day, of
whom Mrs. Harris was one of the first, are entitled to a conspicuous place
in history. They were indeed the mothers of the frontier, the worthy com-
panions and counselors of those noble and fearless men the advance guard
of civilization destined ere long to occupy the whole country. Mrs. Harris
was a woman of sterling worth, a consistent Christian, affable, charitable,
and universally beloved and respected. She lived to see her children become
useful and honored members of society, and died July 9, 1844.

In the Winter of 1832-'3, Captain D. S. Harris and his brother, R. S.
Harris, built the first steamboat built on Fever River, at the Portage, and
called her the " Jo Daviess." These men were among the earliest pioneers
in Galena stearnboating. No men on the Upper Mississippi were ever
better known or more highly esteemed and respected. They were perfect
masters of their- profession, and as engineers, pilots and commanders, had
no superiors. They run the "Jo Daviess " themselves, and prior to 1840
, bought out the " Heroine," the " Frontier," the " Smelter," the " Relief,"
the " Pizarro," the " Pre-emption," and the "Otter."


Negro slavery existed in the mines for some years. Many of the early
miners were from slave-holding states, and brought their slaves with them.
In 1823, when Captain Harris arrived, there were from 100 to 150 negroes
here. Under the ordinance of 1787, slavery was forever prohibited in the
Northwestern Territory, but Illinois sought to evade this organic law by
the enactment of statutes by which these slaves could be held here as
" indentured " or " registered servants," and these statutes were known as
the Black Laws. As late as March 10, 1829, the commissioners of Jo
Daviess County ordered a tax of one halt'per cent to be levied and collected on
" town lots, slaves, indentured or registered servants" etc.* There is now
living in Galena a venerable old colored man, Swanzy Adams, born a slave,
in Virginia, in April, 1796, who moved to Kentucky, and thence, in April,
1827, to Fever River, as the slave of James A. Duncan, on the old steamer
" Shamrock." His master "hired him " to Captain Comstock, for whom he
worked as a miner. He subsequently bought himself for $1,500 (although
he quaintly says, " good boys like me could be bought in Kentuck for
$350 "), and discovered a lead on Sunday that paid it,. but he was compelled
to serve five years longer as a slave, and was once kidnapped and taken to
St. Louis. "Old Swanzy," as he is familiarly called, is the sole survivor of
the slaves held under the Black Laws of Illinois, then in force, but which
have long since been swept from her statute books. It is pleasant to add
that, by hard labor, industry and economy, since he owned himself,
" Swanzy " has secured a comfortable home and competence against want in
his declining years.

For many years, and as late as 1856-'7, the only money current in the
mines consisted of British sovereigns and French five-franc pieces. The
former were rated at $4.90 often passing for $5, and the latter were cur-

Online LibraryH.F. KettThe History of Jo Daviess County, Illinois, containing a history of the county, its cities, towns, etc., a biographical directory of its citizens, war record of its volunteers in the late rebellion ... history of the Northwest, history of Illinois ... Constitution of the United States → online text (page 24 of 109)