William Henry Perrin.

History of Jefferson County, Illinois online

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decay of the system in moving to the sea-
board the enormous crops of the "West.
Within the past few years it has become
quite common to see direct shipments to
Europe and the, "West Indies going through
from the second-class towns along the
Mississippi and Missouri.

As to popular education, the standard
has of late risen very greatly, and our
schools would be creditable to any section
of the Union.

More and more as the events of the war
pass into obscuritj' will the fate of the
Northwest be linked with that of the

Our public men continue to wield the
full share of influence pertaining to their
rank in the national autonomy, and seem
not to forget that for the past sixteen years
they and tlieir constituents have dictated
the principles which should govern tlie

In a work like this, destined to lie on
the shelves of the library for generations,
and not doomed to daily destruction like a
newspaper, one can not indulge in the
same glowing predictions, the sanguine
statements of actualities that till the col-
vimns of ephemeral publications. Time
may bring grief to the pet projects of a
writer, and explode castles erected on a
pedestal of facts. Yet there are unmistaka-

ble indications before us of the same radical
change in our great Northwest which char-
acterizes its history for the past thirty
years. Our domain has a sort of natural
geographical border, save where it melts
away to the soutiiward in the cattle raising
districts of the Southwest.

Our prime interest will for some years
doubtless be the growth of the food of the
world, in which branch it has already out-
stripped all competitors, and our great rival
in tliis duty will naturally be tlie fertile
plains of Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado,
to say nothing of the new enipire so rapid-
ly growing up in Texas. Over these regions
there is a continued progress in agriculture
and in railway building, and we must look
to our laurels. Intelligent observers of
events are fully aware of the strides
made in the way of shipments of fresh
meats to Europe, many of these ocean car-
o-oes being actually slaughtered in the West
and transported on ice to the wharves of the
seaboard cities. That this new enterprise
will continue tliere is no reason to doubt.
There are in Chicago several factories for
the canning of prepared meats for European
consumption, and the orders for this class
of goods are already immense. English
capital is becoming daily more and more
and more dissatisfied with railway loans
and investments, and is gradually seeking
mammoth outlays in lands and live stock.
The stock yards in Chicago, Indianapolis
and East St. Louis are yearly increasing
their facilities, and their plant steadily
o-rows more valuable. Importations of
blooded animals from the progressive coun-
tries of Europe are destined to greatly im-
prove the quality of our beef and mutton.
Nowhere is there to be seen a more enticing



display in this line than at our state and
county fairs, and the interest in the matter
is on the increase.

To attempt to give statistics of our grain
production would be useless, so far have we
surpassed ourselves in the quantity and
quality of our product. We are too liable
to forget that we are giving tlie world its
first article of necessity — its food supply.
An opportunity to learn this fact so it nev-
er can be forgotten was afforded at Chicago
at the outbreak of the great panic of 1873,
when Canadian purchasers, fearing the pros-
tration of business miijht bring: about an
anarchical condition of affairs, went to that
city with coin in bulk and foreign drafts to
secure their supplies in their own currency
at first hands. It may be justly claimed by
the agricultural community that their com-
bined etforts gave the nation its first impe-
tus toward a restoration of its crippled
industries, and their labor brought the gold
premium to a lower depth than the govern-
ment was able to reacii by its most intense
etforts of legislation and compulsion. The
hundreds of millions about to be disbursed
for farm products have already, by the an-
ticipation common to all commercial nations,
set the wheels in motion, and will relieve
us from the perils so long shadowing our
cfi'orts to return to a health}' tone.

Manufacturing has attained in the chief
cities a foothold which bids fair to render
tliu Northwest independent of the outside
world. Nearly our whole region has a dis-
tribution of coal measures which will in
time support the manufactures necessary to
our comfort and prosperity. As to trans-
portation, the chief factor in the production
of all articles except food, no section is so
magnificently endowed, and. our facilities

are yearly increasing beyond tiiosc ot any
other region.

The ]ieriod from a central point of the
war to the outbreak of the panic was
marked by a tremendous growth in oui-
railway lines, but the depression of the
times caused almost a total suspension of
ojierations. Now that prosperity is return-
ing to our stricken country we witness its
anticipation by the railroad interest in a
series of projects, extensions, and leases
which bid fair to largely increase our
transportation facilities. The ])rocess of
foreclosure and sale of incumbered lines is
another matter to be considered. In the
case of the Illinois Central road, which
formerly transferred to other lines at Cairo
the vast burden of freight destined for the
Gulf region, we now see the incorjioration
of the tracts connecting through to New
Orleans, every mile co-ojaerating in turninn-
toward the northwestern metropolis the
weight of the interstate commerce of a
thousand miles or more of fertile planta-
tions. Three competing routes to Texas
have established in Chicago their genera!
freight and passenger agencies. Four or
five lines compete for all Pacific freights
to a point as iar as the interior of Nebraska.
Half a dozen or more splendid bridge
structures have been thrown across the
Missouri and Mississippi Rivers by the
railways. The Chicago and Northwestern
line has become an aggregation of over
two thousand miles of rail, and the Chicago,
Milwaukee and St. Paul is its close rival in
extent and importance. The three lines
running to Cairo via Vincennes form a
through route for all traffic with the States
to the southward. The trunk lines being
nuiinly in operation, the progress made in



the way of shortening tracks, making air-
line branches, and running extensions does
not show to the advantage it deserves, as
this process is constantly adding new facili-
ties to the established order of things. The
panic reduced the price of steel to a point
where the railways could hardly afford to
use iron rails, and all our northwestern
lines report large relays of Bessemer track.
The immense crops now being moved have
given a great rise to the value of railway
stocks, and their transportation must result
in heavy pecuniary advantages.

Few are aware of the importance of the
wholesale and jobbing trade of Chicago.
In boots and shoes and in clothing, twenty
or more great firms from the East have
placed here their distributing agents or
their factories ; and in groceries Chicago
supplies the entire Northwest at rates

presenting advantages over New York.

Chicago has stepped in between New
York and the rural brinks as a financial
center, and scarcely a banking institution
in the grain or cattle regions but keeps its
reserve funds in the vaults of our com-
mercial institutions. Accumulating here
throughout the spring and summer months,
they are summoned home at pleasure to
move the products of the prairies. This
process greatly strengthens the northwest
in its financial operations, leaving home
capital to supplement local operations on
behalf of home interests.

It is impossible to forecast the destiny
of this grand and growing section of the
Union. Figures and predictions made at
this date might seem ten years hence so
ludicrously small as to excite only derision.


The name of this beantiful Prairie State
is derived Iruni Illini, a Delaware word
signilyiiig Superior Men. It has a French
termination, and is a symbol of how the
two races — the French and the Indians —
were intermixed during tlie early history
of the country.

The appellation was no doubt well ap-
jilied to the primitive inhabitants of the
t-oil whose prowess in savage warfare long
withstood the combined attacks of the
fierce Iroquois on the one side, and the no
less savage and relentless Sacs and Foxes
on the other. The Illinois were once a
powerful confederacy, occupying the most
beautiful and fertile region in the trreat
Valley of the Mississippi, which their en-
emies coveted, and struggled long and
hard to wrest from them. Ey the fortunes
of war, they were diminished in numbers,
and finally destroyed. " Starved Eock,"
on the Illinois Hiver, according to tradi-
tion, commemorates their last tragedy,
where, it is said, the entire tribe starved
rather than surrennei-.


The first European discoveries in Illi-
nois date back over two hundred years.
They are a part of that movement which,
from the beginning to the middle of the
seventeenth century, brought the French

Canadian missionaries and fur traders into
the Valley of the Mississippi, and whicli
at a later period establislied the civil and
ecclesiastical authority of France, from the
Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexi-
co, and from the foot-hills of the Alleghe-
nies to the Rocky Mountains.

The great river of the West liad been
discovered by i)e Soto, the Spanish con-
queror of Florida, three quarters of a cent-
ury before the French founded Quebec in
16(18, but the Spanish left the country a
wilderness, without further exploration or
settlement within its borders, in which con-
dition it remained until the Mississip])i
was discovered by the agents of the French
Canadian government, Joliet and Mar-
quette, in 1(J73. These renowned explor-
ers were not the first white visitors to Illi-
nois In 1(371 — two years in advance of
them — came Nicholas Perrot to Chicago.
lie had been sent by Talon as an agent of
tiie Canadian government to call a great
peace convention of Western Indians at
Green Pay, ])reparatory to the movement
for the discover}' of the Mississippi. It
was deemed a good stroke of policy to se-
cure, as far as possible, the friendship and
co-operation of the Indians, far and near,
before venturing ujjon an enterprise which
their hostility might render disastrous, and
which their friendship and assistance would



do so much to make successful; and to this
end Perrot was sent to call together in
council, the tribes throughout the North-
west, and to promise them the -commerce
and protection of the French government.
He accordingly arrived at Green Bay in
1671, and procuring an escort of Pottawat-
omies, proceeded in a bark canoe upon a
visit to the Miamis, at Chicago. Perrot
was therefore the first European to set foot
upon the soil of Illinois.

Still there were others before Marquette.
In 1672, the Jesuit missionaries. Fathers
Claude Allouez and Claude Dablon, bore
the standard of the Cross from their mis-
sion at Green Bay through western Wis-
consin and northern Illinois, visiting the
Foxes on Fox River, and the Masqiiotines
and Kickapoos at the mouth of the Mil-
waukee. These missionaries penetrated on
the route afterwards followed by Marquette
as far as the Ivickapoo village at the head
of Lake Winnebago, where Marquette, in
his journey, secured guides aorcss the
portage to the Wisconsin.

The oft repeated story of Marquette and
Joliet is well known. They were the
agents employed by the Canadian govern-
ment to discover the Mississippi. Mar-
quette was a native of France, born in
1637, a Jesuit priest by education, and a
man of simple faith and of great zeal and
devotion in extending the Roman Catholic
religion among the Indians. Arrivino- in
Canada in 1666, he was sent as a mission-
ary to the far Northwest, and, in 1668,
founded a mission at Sault Ste. Marie. The
following year he moved to La Pointe, in
Lake Superior, where he instructed a branch
of the Hurons till 1670, when he removed
south and founded the mission at St. Ignace,

on the Straits of Mackinaw. Here he re-
mained, devoting a portion of his time to
the study of the Illinois laiijjuau;e under a
native teacher who had accompanied him
to the mission from La Pointe, till he was
joined by Joliet in the spring of 1673.
By the way of Green Bay and the Fox and
Wisconsin Rivers, they entered the Mis-
sissippi, which they explored to the mouth
of the Arkansas, and returned by the way
of the Illinois and Chicago Rivers to Lake

On his way up the Illinois, Marquette
visited the great village of the Kaskaskias,
near what is now Utica, in the county of
La Salle. The following year he returned
and established among them the mission
of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, which
was the first Jesuit mission founded in
Illinois and in the Mississippi Valley. The
intervening winter he had spent in a hut
which his companions erected on the Chi-
cago River, a few leagues from its mouth.
The founding of this mission was the last
act of Marquette's life. He died in Mich-
igan, on his way back to Green Bay, May
IS, 1675.


The first French occupation of the terri-
tory now embraced in Illinois was effected
by La Salle in 16S0, seven years after, the
time of Marquette and Joliet. La Salle,
having constructed a vessel, the " Griftin,"
above the falls of Niagara, which he sailed
to Green Bay, and having passed thence in
canoes to the mouth of the St. Joseph
River, by which and the Kankakee he
reached the Illinois, in January, 16S0,
erected Fort Crivecmur, at the lower end
of Peoria Lake, where tlie citj- of Peoria



is now situated. The place where this an-
cient fort stood may still be seen just below
the outlet of Peoria Lake. It was destined,
however, to a temporary existence. From
this point. La Salle determined to descend
t!ie Mississippi to its mouth, but did not
accomplish this purpose till two years later
— in 1GS2. Hetuniing to Fort Frontenac
for the purpose of getting materials with
which to rig his vessel, he left the fort in
charge of Toiiti, his lieutenant, who during
his absence was driven off by the Iro(jUois
Lidians. These savages had made a raid up-
on the settlement of the Illinois, and had left
nothing in tlieir track but ruin and desola-
tion. Mr. Davidson, in his History of
Illinois, gives the following graphic account
of the picture that met the eyes of La Salle
and his companions on their return:

" At the great town of the Illinois they
were appalled at the scene which ojjencd to
their view. No hunter appeared to break
its death-like silence with a salutatory
whoop of welcome. The plain on which
the town had stood was now strewed with
charred fragments of lodges, which had so
recently swarmed with savage life and hi-
larity. To render more hideous the ]>icture
of desolation, large numbers of skulls had
been placed on the upper extremities of
lodge- poles which had escaped the devour-
ing flames. In the midst of these horrors
was the rude fort of tlie spoilers, rendered
friglitfnl bv the same ghastlv relics. A
near approach showed that the graves had
been robbed of their bodies, and swarms of
buzzards were discovered glutting tiieir
loathsome stomachs on the reeking corrup-
tion. To complete the work of destruction,
the growing corn of the villa^'e liad been
2Ut down and burned, while the pits con-

taining the products of previous years, had
been rifled and their contents scattered with
wanton waste. It was evident the suspected
blow of the Iroquois had fallen with relent-
less fury."

Tonti had escaped. La Salle knew not
whither. Passing down the lake in searcli
of him and his men. La Salle discovered
that the fort had been destroyed, but the
vessel which he had partly constructed was
still on the stocks, and but slightly in-
jured. After further fruitless search, failing
to find Tonti, he fastened to a tree a painting
representing himself and part}' sitting in a
canoe and bearing a pipe of peace, and to
the painting attached a letter addressed to

Tonti had escaped, and after untold pri-
vations, taken shelter among the Potta-
wattomies near Green Bay. These were
friendly to the French. One of their old
chiefs used to say, "There were but three
great captains in the world, himself, Tonti
and La Salle."


"We must now return to La Salle, wliose
exploits stand out in such bold relief. He
was born in Houen, France, in 1643. His
father was wealthy but he renounced his
patrimony on entering a college of the
Jesuits, from which he separated and came
to Canada a poor man in 1666. The priests
of St. Sulpice, among whom he had a
brother, were then the proprietors of Mon-
treal, the nucleus of which was a seminary
or convent founded by that order. The
Superior granted to La Salle a large tract
of land at La Chine, where he established
himself in the fur trade. He was a man
of daring genius, and outstripped all his



competitors in exploits of travel and com-
merce with the Indians. In 1669, he vis-
ited the headt[iiarters of the great Iroquois
confederacy, at Onondaga, in the heart of
New York, and obtaining guides, explored
the Ohio River to the falls at Louisville.

In order to understand the genius of
La Salle, it must be remembered that for
many years prior to his time the mission-
aries and traders were obliged to make
their way to the Northwest by the Ottawa
Eiver (of Canada) on account of the fierce
hostility of the Iroquois along the lower
lakes and Niagara Eiver, which entirely
closed this latter route to the UpperLakes.
They carried on their commerce chiefly by
canoes, paddling them through the Ottawa
to Lake Ni]>issing, carrying them across
the portage to French River, and descend-
ing that to Lake Huron. This being the
route by which they reached the Northwest
accounts for the fact that all the earliest
Jesuit missions were established in the
neio-hborhood of the Upper Lakes. La Salle
conceived the grand idea of opening the
route by Niagara River and the Lower
Lakes to Canadian commerce by sail vessels
connecting it with the navigation of the
Mississippi, and thus opening a magnificent
water communication from the Gulf of St.
Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico. This
trulv grand and comprehensive purpose
seems to have animated him in all his
wonderful achievements and the matchless
difficulties and hardships he surmounted.
As the first step in the accomjilisliment of
this object he established himself on Lake
Ontario, and built and garrisoned Fort
Frontenac, the site of the present city of
Kingston, Canada. Here he obtained a
o-rant of land from the French crown, and

a body of troops by Mjhich he beat back the
invading Iroquois and cleared the passage
to Niagara Falls. Having by this m;isterly
stroke made it safe to attempt a hitherto
untried expedition, his next step, as we
have seen, was to advance to the Falls with
all his outfit for building a ship with which
to sail the lakes. He was successful in
this undertaking, though his ultimate pur-
pose was defeated by a strange combination
of untoward circumstances. The Jesuits
evidently hated La Salle and plotted against
him, because he had abandoned them and
co-operated with a rival order. The fur
traders were also jealous of his superior
success in opening new channels of com-
merce. At La Chine he had taken the trade
of Lake Ontario, which but for his presence
there would have gone to Quebec. While
they were plodding with their bark canoes
through the Ottawa he was constructing
sailing vessels to command the trade of the
lakes and the Mississippi. These great
plans excited the jealousy and envy of the
small traders, introduced treason and revolt
into the ranks of his own companions, and
finally led to the foul assassination by which
his great achievements were prematurely

In 16S2, La Salle, having completed his
vessel at Peoria, descended the Mississippi
to its confluence with the Gulf of Mexico.
Erecting a standard on which he inscribed
the arms of France, he took formal posses-
sion of the whole valley of the mighty
river, in the name of Louis XIV, then
reigning, in honor of whom he named the
country' Lotjisi.^NA.

La Salle then went to France, was ap-
pointed Governor, and returned with a
fleet and immigrants, for the purpose of


planting a colony in Illinois. Thej' arrived
in due time in the Gulf of Mexico, but
failing to find the month of the Mississippi,
up which La Salle intended to sail, his
supply ship, with the immigrants, was
driven ashore and wrecked on Matagorda
Bay. With the fragments of the vessel he
constructed a stockade and rude huts on
the shore for the jirotection of the immi-
grants, calling the post Fort St. Louis.
He then made a trip into New Mexico, in
search of silver mines, but, meeting with
disappointment, returned to find his little
colony reduced to forty souls. He then
resolved to travel on foot to Illinois, and,
starting with his companions, had reached
the valley of the Colorado, near the month
of Trinity river, when he was shot by one
of his men. This occurred on the 19th of
March, 1687.

Dr. J. W. Foster remarks of him :
" Thus fell, not far from the banks of the
Trinity, Robert Cavalier de la Salle, one
of the grandest characters that ever figured
in American history — a man capable of
originating the vastest schemes, and en-
dowed with a will and a" judgment capable
of carrying them to successful results. Had
ample facilities been placed by the King
of France at his disposal, the result of the
colonization of this continent might have
been far different from what we now


A temjiorary settlement was made at
Fort St. Louis, or the old Kaskaskia village,
on the Illinois River, in what is now La
Salle County, in 1682. In 1690, this was
removed, with the mission connected with
it, to Kaskaskia, on the river of that name.

emptying into the lower Mississippi in St.
Clair County. Cahokia was settled about
the same time, or at least, both of these
settlements began in the year 1690, though
it is now pretty well settled that Cahokia
is the older place, and ranks as the oldest
permanent settlement in Illinois, as well as
in the Mississippi Valley. The reason for
the removal of the old Kaskaskia settle-
ment and mission, was probably because
the dangerous and difficult route by Lake
Michigan and the Chicago portage had been
almost abandoned, and travelers and traders
passed down and up the Mississippi by the
Fox and Wisconsin River route. The}' re-
moved to the vicinity of the Mississippi in
order to be in the line of travel from Can-
ada to Louisiana, that is, the lower part of
it, for it was all Louisiana then south of
the lakes.

During the period of French rule in
Louisiana, the population probably never
exceeded ten thousand, including whites
and blacks. Within that portion of it now
included in Indiana, trading posts were es-
tablished at the principal Miami villages
which stood on the head waters of the
Maumee, the Wea villages situated at
Ouiatenon, on the Wabash, and the Pian-
keshaw villages at Post Vincennes; all of
which were probably visited by French
traders and missionaries before the close of
the seventeenth century.

In the vast territory claimed by the
French, many settlements of considerable
importance had sprung up. Biloxi, on
Mobile Bay, had been founded by D'lber-
ville, in 1699; Antoine de Lamotte Cadillac
had founded Detroit in 1701; and New
Orleans had been founded by Bienville,
under the auspices of the Mississippi Com-



pany, in 1718. In Illinois also, considera-
ble settlements had been made, so that in
1730 they embraced one hundred and forty
French families, about six hundred "con-
verted Indians," and many traders and
voyageiirs. In that portion of the country,
on the east side of the Mississippi, there
were five distinct settlements, with their
respective villages, viz.: Cahokia, near the
mouth of Cahokia Creek and about five
miles below the present city of St. Louis;

Online LibraryWilliam Henry PerrinHistory of Jefferson County, Illinois → online text (page 8 of 76)