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History of Tazewell county, Illinois ; together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history; portraits of prominent persons and biographies of representative citizens. History of Illinois ... Digest of state laws online

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Online Librarypub Chas. C. Chapman & Co.History of Tazewell county, Illinois ; together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history; portraits of prominent persons and biographies of representative citizens. History of Illinois ... Digest of state laws → online text (page 5 of 79)
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dom, intelligence, and morality. Thus the great heart of the nation
was prepared to save the union of States, for it was this act that was
the salvation of the republic and the destruction of slavery. Soon
the South saw their great blunder and tried to have the compact
repealed. In 1803 Congress referred it to a committee, of which
John Kandolph was chairman. He reported that this ordinance
was a compact and opposed repeal. Thus it stood, a rock in the
way of the on-rushing sea of slavery.


With all this timely aid it was, however, a most desperate and
protracted struggle to keep the soil of Illinois sacred to freedom.
It was the natural battle-field for the irrepressible conflict. In the
southern end of the State slavery preceded the compact. It ex-
isted among the old French settlers, and was hard to eradicate.
That portion was also settled from the slave States, and this popu-
lation brought their laws, customs, and institutions with them. A
stream of population from the North poured into the northern part
of the State. These sections misunderstood and hated each other
perfectly. The Southerners regarded the Yankees as a skinning,
tricky, penurious race of peddlers, filling the country with tinware,
brass clocks, and wooden nutmegs. The Northerner thought of the
Southerner as a lean, lank, lazy creature, burrowing in a hut, and
rioting in whisky, dirt, and ignorance. These causes aided in
making the struggle long and bitter. So strong was the sympathy
with slavery that, in spite of the ordinance of 1787, and in spite of
the deed of cession, it was determined to allow the old French set-
tlers to retain their slaves. Planters from the slave States might



bring their slaves if they would give them an opportunity to choose
freedom or years of service and bondage for their cliildren till they
should become thirty years of age. If they chose freedom they
must leave the State within sixty days, or be sold as fugitives.
Servants were whipped for offenses for which white men were fined.
Each lash paid forty cents of the fine. A negro ten miles from
home without a pass was whipped. These famous laws were im-
ported from the slave States, just as the laws for the inspection of
flax and wool were imported when there was neither in the State.


On October 5, 17S7, Maj, Gen. Arthur St. Clair was, by Congress,
elected Governor of this vast territory. St. Clair was born in Scot-
land and emigrated to America in 1755. He served in the French
and English war, and was major general in the Revolution. In
1786 he was elected to Congress and chosen President of that body.


After the division of the jSTorth western Territory Illinois became
one of the counties of the Territory of Indiana, from which it was
separated by an act of Congress Feb. 3, 1809, forming the Territory
of Illinois, with a population estimated at 9,000, and then included
the present State of "Wisconsin. It was divided, at the time, into
two counties, — St. Clair and Randolph. John Boyle, of Ken-
tucky, was appointed Governor, by the President, James Madison,
but declining, Ninian Edwards, of the same State, was then
appointed and served with distinction; and after the organization
of Illinois as a State he served in the same capacity, being its third


For some years previous to the war between the United States
and England in 1812, considerable trouble was experienced with the
Indians. Marauding bands of savages would attack small settle-
ments and inhumanly butcher all the inhabitants, and mutilate
their dead bodies. To protect themselves, the settlers organized
companies of rangers, and erected block houses and stockades in
every settlement. The largest, strongest and best one of these was
Fort Russell, near the present village of Edwardsville. This stockade


was made the main rendezvous for troops and military stores, and
Gov. Edwards, who during the perilous times of 1812, when Indian
hostilities threatened on every hand, assumed command of the Illi-
nois forces, established his headquarters at this place. The Indians
were incited to many of these depredations by English emissaries,
who for years continued their dastardly work of " setting the red
men, like dogs, upon the whites."

In the summer of 1811 a peace convention was held with the
Pottawatomies at Peoria, when they promised that peace should
prevail; but their promises were soon broken. Tecumseh, the great
warrior, and fit successor of Pontiac, started in the spring of 1811,
to arouse the Southern Indians to war against the whites. The pur-
pose of this chieftain was well known to Gov. Harrison, of Indiana
Territory, who determined during Tecumseh's absence to strike and
disperse the hostile forces collected at Tippecanoe. This he success-
fully did on Nov. 7, winning the sobriquet of " Tippecanoe," by
which he was afterwards commonly known. Several peace councils
were held, at which the Indians promised good behavior, but only
to deceive the whites. Almost all the savages of the Northwest
were thoroughly stirred up and did not desire peace. The British
agents at various points, in anticipation of a war with the United
States, sought to enlist the favor of the savages by distributing to
them large supplies of arms, ammunition and other goods.

The English continued their insults to our flag upon the high
seas, and their government refusing to relinquish its offensive course,
all hopes of peace and safe commercial relations were abandoned,
and Congress, on the 19th of June, 1812, formally declared war
against Great Britain. In Illinois the threatened Indian troubles
had already caused a more thorough organization of the militia and
greater protection by the erection of forts. As intimated, the In-
dians took the war-path long before the declaration of hostilities
between the two civilized nations, committing great depredations,
the most atrocious of which was the


During the war of 1812 between the United States and England,
the greatest, as well as the most revolting, massacre of whites that
ever occurred in Illinois, was perpetrated by the Pottawatomie In-
dians, at Fort Dearborn. This fort was built by the Government,
in 1804, on the south side of the Chicago river, and was garrisoned



by 54 men under command of Capt. Nathan Heald, assisted by
Lieutenant Helm and Ensign Ronan; Dr. Voorhees, surgeon. The
residents at the post at that time were the wives of officers Heald
and Helm and a few of the soldiers, Mr. Kinzie and his family, and
a few Canadians. The soldiers and Mr, Kinzie were on the most
friendly terms with the Pottawatomies and Winuebagoes, the prin-
cipal tribes around them.

On the 7th of August, 1812, arrived the order from Gen, Hull, at
Detroit, to evacuate Fort Dearborn, and distribute all United States
property to the Indians. Chicago was so deep in the wilderness


that this was the first intimation the garrison received of the dec-
laration of war made on the 19th of June. The Indian chief who
brought the dispatch advised Capt. Heald not to evacuate, and
that if he should decide to do so, it be done immediately, and by
forced marches elude the concentration of the savages before the
news could be circulated among them. To this most excellent ad-
vice the Captain gave no heed, but on the 12th held a council with


the Indians, apprising them of the orders received, and offering a
liberal reward for an escort of Pottawatomies to Fort Wayne. The
Indians, with many professions of friendship, assented to all he
proposed, and promised all he required. The remaining officers re-
fused to join in the council, for they had been informed that treach-
ery was designed, — that the Indians intended to murder those in
the council, and then destroy those in the fort. The port holes were
open, displaying cannons pointing directly upon the council. This
action, it is supposed, prevented a massacre at that time.

Mr. Kinzie, who knew the Indians well, begged Capt. Heald
not to confide in their promises, or distribute the arms and ammu-
nitions among them, for it would only put power in their hands to
destroy the whites. This argument, true and excellent in itself,
was now certainly inopportune, and would only incense the treach-
erous foe. But the Captain resolved to follow it, and accordingly on
the night of the 13tli, after the distribution of the other property, the
arms were broken, and the barrels of whisky, of which there was a
large quantity, were rolled quietly through the sally-port, their
heads knocked in and their contents emptied into the river. On that
night the lurking red-skins crept near the fort and discovered the
destruction of the promised booty going on within. The next morn-
ing the powder was seen floating on the surface of the river, and
the Indians asserted that such an abundance of " fire-water" had
been emptied into the river as to make it taste " groggy." Many
of them drank of it freely.

On the 14th the desponding garrison was somewhat cheered by
the arrival of Capt. Wells, with 15 friendly Miamis. Capt. Wells
heard at Fort Wayne of the order to evacuate Fort Dearborn, and
knowing the hostile intentions of the Indians, made a rapid march
through the wilderness to protect, if possible, his niece, Mrs. Heald,
and the officers and the garrison from certain destruction. But
he came too late. Every means for its defense had been destroyed
the night before, and arrangements were made for leaving the fort
on the following morning.

The fatal morning of the 16th at length dawned brightly on the
world. The sun shone in unclouded splendor upon the glassy waters
of Lake Michigan. At 9 a. m., the party moved out of the south-
ern gate of the fort, in military array. The band, feeling the solem-
nity of the occasion, struck up the Dead March in Saul. Capt.


Wells, with his face blackened after the manner of the Indians, led
the advance guard at the head of his friendly Miamis, the garrison
with loaded arms, the baggage wagons with the sick, and the women
and children following, while the Pottawatomie Indians, about 500
in number, who had pledged their honor to escort the whites in
safety to Fort Wayne, brought up the rear. The party took the
road along the lake shore. On reaching the range of sand-hills
separating the beach from the prairie, about one mile and a half-
from the fort, the Indians defiled to the right into the prairie, bring
ing the sand-hills between them and the whites. This divergence
was scarcely effected when Capt. Wells, who had kept in advance
with his Indians, rode furiously back and exclaimed, "They are
about to attack us. Form instantly and charge upon them!"
These words were scarcely uttered before a volley of balls from
Indian muskets was poured in upon them. The troops were hastily
formed into line, and charged up the bank. One veteran of 70 fell
as they ascended. The Indians were driven back to the prairie, and
then the battle was waged by 54 soldiers, 12 civilians, and three or
four women — the cowardly JVFiamis having fled at the outset —
against 500 Indian warriors. The whites behaved gallantly, and
sold their lives dearly. They fought desperately until two-thirds
of their number were slain; the remaining 27 surrendered. And
now the most sickening and heart-rending butchery of this calam-
itous day was committed by a young savage, who assailed one of
the baggage wagons containing 12 children, every one of which fell
beneath his murderous tomahawk. When Capt. Wells, who with
the others had become prisoner, beheld this scene at a distance, he
exclaimed in a tone loud enough to be heard by the savages, " If
this be your game, I can kill too;" and turning his horse, started
for the place where the Indians had left their squaws and children.
The Indians hotly pursued, but he avoided their deadly bullets for
a time. Soon his horse was killed and he severely wounded. With
a yell the young braves rushed to make him their prisoner and re-
serve him for torture. But an enraged warrior stabbed him in the
back, and he fell dead. His heart was afterwards taken out, cut in
pieces and distributed among the tribes. Billy Caldwell, a half-
breed Wyandot, well-known in Chicago long afterward, buried his
remains the next day. Wells street in Chicago, perpetuates his


In this fearful combat women bore a conspicuous part. A wife
of one of the soldiers, who had frequently heard that the Indians
subjected their prisoners to tortures worse than death, resolved not
to be taken alive, and continued fighting until she was literally cut
to pieces. Mrs. Heald was an excellent equestrian, and an expert
in the use of the rifle. She fought bravely, receiving several wounds.
Though faint from loss of blood, she managed to keep in her saddle.
A savage raised his tomahawk to kill her, when she looked him full
in the face, and with a sweet smile and gentle voice said, in his
own language, " Surely you will not kill a squaw." The arm of
of the savage fell, and the life of this heroic woman was saved.
Mrs. Helm had an encounter with a stalwart Indian, who attempted
to tomahawk her. Springing to one side, she received the glancing
blow on her shoulder, and at the same time she seized the savage
round the neck and endeavored to get his seal ping-knife which
hung in a sheath at his breast. While she was thus struggling, she
was dragged from his grasp by another and an older Indian. The
latter bore her, struggling and resisting, to the lake and plunged
her in. She soon perceived it was not his intention to drown her,
because he held her in such a position as to keep her head out of
the water. She recognized him to be a celebrated chief called
Black Partridge. When the firing ceased she was conducted up
the sand-bank.


The prisoners were taken back to the Indian camp, when a new
scene of horror was enacted. The wounded not being included in
the terms of /the surrender, as it was interpreted by the Indians,
and the British general, Proctor, having offered a liberal bounty for
American scalps, nearly all the wounded were killed and scalped,
and the price of the trophies was afterwards paid by the British
general. In the stipulation of surrender, Capt. Heald had not
particularly mentioned the wounded. These helpless sufferers, on
reaching the Indian camp, were therefore regarded by the brutal
savages as fit subjects upon which to display their cruelty and satisfy
their desire for blood. Keferring to the terrible butchery of the
prisoners, in an account given by Mrs. Helm, she says: "An old
squaw, infuriated by the loss of friends or excited by the sanguin-
ary scenes around her, seemed possessed of demoniac fury. She
seized a stable-fork and assaulted one miserable victim, who lay



groaning and writhing in the agonies of his wounds, aggravated by
the scorching beams of the sun. With a delicacy of feeling, scarcely
to have been expected under such circumstances, Wan-bee-nee-wan
stretched a mat across two poles, between me and this dreadful scene.
I was thus spared, in some degree, a view of its horrors, although I
could not entirely close my ears to the cries of the sufferer. The
following night live more of the wounded prisoners were toma-


That evening, about sundown, a council of chiefs was held to
decide the fate of the prisoners, and it was agreed to deliver them


to the British commander at Detroit. After dark, many warriors
from a distance came into camp, who were thirsting for blood, and
were determined to murder the prisoners regardless of the terms of
surrender. Black Partridge, with a few of his friends, surrounded
Kinzie's house to protect the inmates from the tomahawks of the
bloodthirsty savages. Soon a band of hostile warriors rushed by
them into the house, and stood with tomahawks and scalping-knives,
awaiting the signal from their chief to commence the work of death.


Black Partridge said to Mrs. Kinzie: "We are doing everything
in our power to save you, but all is now lost; you and your friends,
together with all the prisoners of the camp, will now be slain," At
that moment a canoe was heard approaching the shore, when Black
Partridge ran down to the river, trying in the darkness to make out
the new comers, and at the same time shouted, "Who are you?"
In the bow of the approaching canoe stood a tall, manly personage,
with a rifle in his hand. He jumped ashore exclaiming, " I am
Sau-ga-nash." " Then make all speed to the house; our friends are
in danger, and you only can save them." It was Billy Caldwell,
the half-breed Wyandot. He hurried forward, entered the house
with a resolute step, deliberately removed his accouterments, placed
his rifle behind the door, and saluted the Indians: " How now, my
friends! a good day to you. I was told there were enemies here,
but am glad to find only friends." Diverted by the coolness of his
manner, they were ashamed to avow their murderous purpose, and
simply asked for some cotton goods to wrap their dead, for burial.
And thus, by his presence of mind, Caldwell averted the murder of
the Kinzie family and the prisoners. The latter, with their wives
and children, were dispersed among the Pottawatomie tribes along
the Illinois, Rock and Wabash rivers, and some to Milwaukee.
The most of them were ransomed at Detroit the following spring.
A part of them, however, remained in captivity another year.


By the middle of August, through the disgraceful surrender of
Gen. Hull, at Detroit, and the evacuation of Fort Dearborn and
massacre of its garrison, the British and Indians were in possession of
the whole Northwest. The savages, emboldened by their successes,
penetrated deeper into the settlements, committing great depre-
dations. The activity and success of the enemy aroused the people
to a realization of the great danger their homes and families were
in. Gov. Edwards collected a force of 350 men at Camp Russell,
and Capt. Russell came from Yincennes with about 50 more. Being
oflicered and equipped, they proceeded about the middle of October
on horseback, carrying with them 20 days' rations, to Peoria. Capt.
Craig was sent with two boats up the Illinois, with provisions
and tools to build a fort. The little army proceeded to Peoria
Lake, where was located a Pottawatomie village. They arrived late


at night, within a few miles of the village, without their presence
being known to the Indians. Four men were sent out that night
to reconnoiter the position of the village. The four brave men who
volunteered for this perilous service were Thomas Carlin (after-
ward Governor), and Robert, Stephen and Davis Whiteside. Thej
proceeded to the village, and explored it and the approaches to it
thoroughly, without starting an Indian or provoking the bark of a
dog. The low lands between the Indian village and the troops were
covered with a rank growth of tall grass, eo highland dense as to
readily conceal an Indian on horseback, until within a few feet of
him. The ground had become still more yielding by recent rains,
rendering it almost impassable by mounted men. To prevent de-
tection, the soldiers had camped without lighting the usual camp-
fires. The men lay down in their cold and cheerless camp, with
many misgivings. They well remembered how the skulking sav-
ages fell upon Harrison's men at Tippecanoe during the night. To
add to their fears, a gun in the hands of a soldier was carelessly
discharged, raising great consternation in the camp.


Through a dense fog which prevailed the following morning, the
army took up its line of march for the Indian town, Capt. Judy
with his corps of spies in advance. In the tall grass they came up
with an Indian and his squaw, both mounted. The Indian wanted
to surrender, but Judy observed that he "did not leave home to take
prisoners,^' and instantly shot one of them. With the blood
streaming from his mouth and nose, and in his agony " singing the
death song," the dying Indian raised his gun, shot and mortally
wounded a Mr. Wright, and in a few minutes expired. Many guns
were immediately discharged at the other Indian, not then known
to be a squaw, all of which missed her. Badly scared, and her hus-
band killed by her side, tlie agonizing wails of the squaw were
heart-rending. She was taken prisoner, and afterwards restored
to her nation.


On nearing the town a general charge was made, the Indians
fleeing to the interior wilderness. Some of their warriors made a
stand, when a sharp engagement occurred, but the Indians were
routed. In their flight they left behind all their winter's store of


provisions, which was tcaken, and their town burned. Some Indian
children were found wlio had been left in 1 he hurried flight, also
some disabled adults, one of whom was in a starving condition and
with a voracious appetite partook of the bread given him. He is
said to have been killed bj a cowardly trooper straggling behind,
after the main army had resumed its retrograde march, who wanted
to be able to boast that he had killed an Indian.

About the time Gov. Edwards started with his little band against
the Indians, Gen. Hopkins, with 2,000 Kentucky riflemen, left
Vincennes to cross the prairies of Illinois and destroy the Indian
villages along the Illinois river. Edwards, with his rangers, ex-
pected to act in concert with Gen. Hopkins' riflemen. After
marching 80 or 90 miles into the enemy's country. Gen. Hopkins'
men became dissatisfied, and on Oct. 20 the entire army turned
and retreated homeward before even a foe had been met. After the
victory of the Illinois rangers they heard nothing of Gen. Hopkins
and his 2,000 mounted Kentucky riflemen ; and apprehensive that a
laro-e force of warriors would be speedily collected, it was -deemed
prudent not to protract their stay, and accordingly the retrograde
march was commenced the very day of the attack.


The force of Capt. Craig, in charge of the provision boats, was
not idle during this time. They proceeded to Peoria, where they
were fired on by ten Indians during the night, who immediately
fled. Capt. Craig discovered, at daylight, their tracks leading up
into the French town. He inquired of the French their where-
abouts, who denied all knowledge of them, and said they " had
heard or seen nothing; " but he took the entire number prisoners,
burned and destroyed Peoria, and bore the captured inhabitants
away on his boats to a point below the present city of Alton, where
he landed and left them in the woods, — men, women, and children, —
in the inclement month of November, without shelter, and without
food other than the slender stores they had themselves gathered up
before their departure. They found their way to St. Louis in an
almost starving condition. The burning of Peoria and taking its
inhabitants prisoners, on the mere suspicion that they sympathized
with the Indians, was generally regarded as a needless, if not
wanton, act of military power.




In the early part of 1813, the country was put in as good defense
as the sparse population admitted. In spite of the precaution taken,
numerous depredations .and murders were committed by the In-
dians, which again aroused the whites, and another expedition was
sent against the foe, who had collected in large numbers in and
around Peoria. This army was composed of about 900 men, collect-
ed from both Illinois and Missouri, and under command of Gen.
Howard. They marched across the broad prairies of Illinois to
Peoria, where there was a small stockade in charge of United States
troops. Two days previously the Indians made an attack od the
fort, but were repulsed. Being in the enemy's country, knowing
their stealthy habits, and the troops at no time observing a high de-
gree of discipline, many unnecessary night alarms occurred, yet the
enemy were far away. The army marched up the lake to Chili-
cothe, burning on its way two deserted villages. At the present
site of Peoria the troops remained in camp several weeks. While

Online Librarypub Chas. C. Chapman & Co.History of Tazewell county, Illinois ; together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history; portraits of prominent persons and biographies of representative citizens. History of Illinois ... Digest of state laws → online text (page 5 of 79)