Reminiscences of Bureau County : in two parts.
Matson, N.. Princeton, Ill.. Republican Book and Job Office. 1872.

Online Version Transcribed By Nancy Piper

Chapter XIV

Pages 124-135


It may of interest to the reader to know by what means many of the facts relating to the Indians of this county were obtained, as some of them were unknown to the early settlers, therefore an explanation of this matter becomes necessary:

A few years ago, while in the city of Washington, I met a number of Pottawatamie chiefs, from Western Kansas, among whom as Col. Barrassa, an educated half-breed, and author of a book, entitled "Indian Life and Customs." Through the politeness of Col. Barrassa, I was introduced to two other chiefs, and from whom many of the incidents related in this story were obtained. One of these chiefs was the well known Half Day, a son of Autuckee, and the other represented himself as a son of Girty, the outlaw. These chiefs said they were born on Bureau, but left it while in boyhood; nevertheless they has a distinct recollection of some of the early settlers, and described the personal appearance of Michael Kitterman, Elijah Epperson, and others.

These chiefs inquired if I was connected with any of the people killed by the Indians; and being answered in the negative, they went on to describe the manner of killing Phillips, Sample and others. These acts were justified by the chiefs, contending that they were done in defense of their rights. On hearing these chiefs describe the manner of killing women and children on Indian creek and burning at the stake of Squire Holly, as well as Sample and his wife, I said to them their people were really savage barbarians, to which they replied, "No act of their's was so barbarous as that of the soldiers at the battle of Bad Axe, all of which is a matter of history. When squaws, with infants in their arms, asked for quarter, their appeals were disregarded, being shot down like brutes. A soldier ran his bayonet through the body of an infant, holding it up above his head, on the end of his gun, while the child was screaming in the agonies of death, and this act of barbarity was applauded by his comrades. Many of the squaws, on finding no quarter could be obtained from the soldiers, threw themselves in toe river and there met a watery grave.*

Eight or ten small children took refuge under the river bank, but were found by the soldiers, and murdered in cold blood."

*I have heard it stated by an eye-witness, an it is also a matter of history, that a squaw named Ne-wa-se, a sister of a distinguished chief, during the hottest of the battle, wrapped a blanket around her infant, and holding it in her teeth, plunged into the Mississippi, seized hold of the tail of a pany, whose rider was swimming the river, and by that means she was taken safely across.


A few years after the Black Hawk war, Shaubena, with his band of followers, consisting of about one hundred and forty in number, were encamped for some weeks on Bureau, near the crossing of Dixon road. At that time the writer was living close by Shaubena's encampment, and was frequently in his wigwam, and from him learned much of his history, as well as other facts relating to the Indians of this county. Shaubena said that he was of the Ottawa tribe, but in his youth he married the daughter of a noted Pottawatamie chief, whom he succeeded at his death, which occurred a few years afterwards, as one of the principal chiefs of the tribe. In 1811 he accompanied Tecumseh in his mission to the Creek Indians, in Mississippi, and was with him at the council of Vincennes. At the time of the British war, in 1812, he was made a war chief, was an aid to Tecumseh, and stood by his side when he fell at the battle of the Thames.+ Shaubena was a fine looking Indian, tall and straight, with broad shoulder, a large head, and a stranger could see by his general appearance that he was no ordinary personage. He spoke the English language very imperfectly, and was not celebrated as a great orator in his native tongue, but his superior knowledge of men and things, gave him great influence over his people. After the death of Senachwine and Black Partridge, no chief between the lake and Mississippi exercised so much influence over the Indians, as Shaubena. His home was at Shaubena Grove, now DeKalb county; but for thirty years he had made Bureau his hunting ground, and was well known by many of the early settlers. Shaubena had two wives, one of whom was the partner of his youth, and by her he had many grown up children. At a later period, he had married a young squaw, and by whom he had three small children. Between the old and young squaw, quarrels were very common, some of which would result in open hostility. One day Shaubena said to the writer, it was strange that his squaws could not agree, as there were only two of them, while other chiefs could have a dozen or more, and all of whom would live together in perfect harmony.

Shaubena said at the commencement of the Black Hawk war, seventeen of his young warriors ran off and joined the Sacs and Foxes, two of whom participated in the Indian Creek massacre, as well as the killing of Phillips. For this offense he never forgave them, and they were not allowed after the war to join his band. One of these only, a brother of his young squaw, he pardoned, and again reinstated him in favor with the band. This Indian was tall and lank, with a savage look; had one hand shot off in the battle of Wisconsin river, and was present at the Indian Creek massacre; and through him the writer obtained many facts relating to that event.

At the commencement of the Black Hawk war, Shaubene went to Dixon's ferry, to offer the services of himself and warriors of his band to Gov. Reynolds, to fight against the Sacs and Foxes. Mounted on his pony and along, he arrived at Dixon's ferry on the same day that Stillman's army reached there. The soldiers, believing Shaubena to be an enemy in disguise, dragged him from his pony, took away his gun and tomahawk, and otherwise mistreated him, telling him that had left home to kill Indians, and he should be their first victim. A man, running at the top of his speed, came to Dixon's house, and told him that the soldiers had taken Shaubena prisoner, and were about to put him to death. Mr. Dixon, in all haste, ran to the rescue, when he found the soldiers (who were somewhat under the influence of liquor) about to stain their hands with innocent blood. Dixon, claiming the prisoner as an old friend, took him by the arm and conducted him to his own house, when he was afterwards introduced to Gov. Reynolds, Gen. Atkinson, Col. Taylor and others.

Shaubena, with his warriors, joined Atkinson's army and participated in all the battles during the war. In the fall of 1836, he and his band abandoned their reservations of land at the grove, giving way to the tide of emigration, and went west of the Mississippi.

But Shaubena's fidelity to the whites, caused him to be persecuted by the Sacs and Foxes. In revenge, they killed his son and nephew, and hunted him down like a wild beast. Two years after going west, in order to save his life, he left his people, and with a part of his family returned to this county. For some years he traveled from place to place, visiting a number of eastern cities, where he was much lionized, and received many valuable presents. Many of our citizens will recollect his last visit to Princeton in 1857, while on his was eastward. At that time Shaubena came to the residence of the writer, and an old acquaintance of twenty-two years standing was renewed. He inquired after many of the old settlers of his acquaintance, and on being told that they were in their grave, tears filled his eyes. Saubena died in July, 1859, on the bank of the Illinois river, near Seneca, in the eighty-fourth year of his age; and contrary to his wish, he was buried in Morris cemetery. No monument marks the last resting place of this friend of the white man.

*This name has been spelled in various ways; such as Shaubena, Shabbona, and Shawbonne. The former mode of spelling has been adopted, on account of its appearing so in the Indian treaties.

+When Dick Johnson was Vice President, Shaubena visited Washington and had an interview with him, in relation to the killing of Tecumseh. After this interview, the Vice President took the old warrior by the arm, introducing him to the heads of the departments. On separating, Johnshon gave Shaubena a heavy gold ring, as a token of friendship, which he wore on his finger until the day of his death.

Shaubena's Adventure At Chicago

Shaubena, while in conversation with the writer, gave an account of a visit to Chicago, in 1812, at the time of massacreing the troops under Capt. Heald. He said "It was in the afternoon of the fatal day, a few hours after the battle, when in company with twenty-two warriors, he arrived at Chicago. Along the beach of the lake, where the battle was fought, lay forty-one death bodies - the remains of soldiers, women and children, all of which were scalped, and more or less mutilated. The body of Capt. Wells was lying in one place, and his head in another; these remains were gathered up by Black Partridge, and buried in the sand where he fell. The prisoners were taken to the Indian encampment and closely guarded, to prevent their escape. John Kinzie, an Indian trader, whose house stood on the north side of the river, opposite Fort Dearborn, had been for some years trading with the Indians, and among them he had many friends. By special favor, he was allowed to return to his own house, accompanied by his family, and the wife of Lieut. Helm, who was badly wounded."

"That evening about sundown, a council of chiefs was called to decide the fate of the prisoners; and it was agreed to deliver them up to the British commander at Detroit, in accordance with the terms of capitulation. 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 stipulated terms of surrender. Black Partridge*, with

A few of his friends, surrounded Kinzie's house, to protect the inmates from the tomahawks of these blood-thristy savages" Shaubena further said "that he, with other warriors, were standing on the porch, with their guns crossing the doorway, when a body of hostile warriors, with blackened faces, rushed by them forcing their way into the house."

"The parlor was now full of Indians, who stood with their tomahawks and scalping knives, awaiting the signal from their chief, when they would commence the work of death. Black Partridge said to Mrs. Kinzie, "We have done everything in our power to save you, but all is now lost: you, and your friends, together with all the prisoners at the camp, will 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 newcomers, and at the same time shouted, "Who are you friend or foe?"

In the bow of the approaching canoe, stood a tall, manly personage, with a rifle in his hand; and as the canoe came to shore, he jumped off on the beach, exclaiming, in a loud clear voice, the musical notes of which rang forth on the still night air: "I am the Sau-ga-nash!" +

"Then," said Black Partridge, "hasten to the house, for our friends are in danger, and you along can save them." Billy Caldwell, for it was he, ran to the house, entering the parlor, which was full of hostile Indians, and by threats, and entreaties, prevailed on them to abandon their murderous designs; and by him Kinzie's family, with the prisoners at the fort, were saved from death."

+Billy Caldwell, called by the Indians Sau-ga-nash, was a half-breed, and said to have been a son of Col. Caldwell, a British officer. He was one of the principal chiefs among the Pottawatamies, and was well known by the early settlers of Chicago.

*Black Partridge had a village on the Illinois river, a short distance below the present site of Henry. According to the statement of Shaubena, he was an Indian of more than ordinary intellect, and was always a friend of the whites. The reader will recollect an account of him, given in Mrs. Kinzie's book, saving the life of Mrs. Helm, at the Chicago massacre, by taking her away from a savage, and bearing her off, wounded and bleeding, into the lake. Also his interview with Capt. Heald, on the morning of the fatal day. On entering the fort, Black Partridge said to the commanding officer, Capt. Heald: "I have come to deliver up to you this metal which was given to me by your people, as a token of friendship. Our young warriors are resolved to imbrue their hands in blood: I cannot restrain them, and I will not wear an emblem of friendship while I am compelled to act as an enemy." Notwithstanding Black Partridge's friendship for the whites, a few weeks afterwards, his village and cornfield were destroyed, ponies and camp equipage carried off, many of his people killed, and the remainder of his band driven off to a strange country. A brief account of the destruction of Black Partridge's village, communicated to the writer by an eye-witness, Gen. Whitesides, will be found in another part of this work.

Chapter XV

Pages 135-145

Indian Creek Settlement

Pages 135-141

After Shaubena had warned the settlers on Bureau on their danger, he went to Indian creek and Holderman's grove and gave notice to them also. But unfortunately, some of the settlers disregarded his warning, and thereby paid the forfeit with their lives. This tragedy, which we are about to relate, occurred outside of the limits of Bureau county, and therefore might be regarded by the readers as foreign to our story. But it must be remembered that some of the victims were residents of this county, others had been previously, and the surviving members of the murdered families resided here for many years afterwards; so that it is properly one of the incidents connected with the early settlement of Bureau county. It is also evident that these murders were committed by Indians, who belonged on Bureau, being the same guerrilla band that had searched in vain for victims along Bureau timber, a few days before.

The account of this massacre is taken from statements made to the writer, by the surviving members of the murdered families, a short time after it occurred, and also from the statement of an Indian who participated in the murder.

In the spring of 1830, William Davies made a claim on Indian creek, twelve miles north of Ottawa, and had built his cabin close by the creek bank. A few rods from his cabin he had built a blacksmith shop, he being a blacksmith by trade. He had also commenced building a mill, and the dam for that purpose was already completed. Some miles up the creek was an Indian village, and its inhabitants were angry at Davies for building this dam, as it prevented the fish from ascending the stream. Each day the Indians were in the habit of coming down below the dam to fish, and on one occasion they threatened injury to Davies' family if it was not removed, so the fish could come up to their village. A number of days had now passed away since the Indians were down to fish, and none had been seen along the creek, or in the neighborhood. The absence of the Indians caused Davies to fear that they intended revenge on him and family, for what they considered a trespass on their rights. In order to compromise this matter, Davies, accompanied by one of his neighbors, named John Henderson, went up to the village for the purpose of making the Indians some presents, and thereby retain their good will. But on arriving at the village, they found it deserted, and no Indians could be discovered in the vicinity, so they started homeward. On their return home, night overtook them, and in the darkness they lost their way, consequently they were obliged to lay out all night. Daviess not returning at night as was expected, his family believed that he had been murdered by the Indians, and the next morning, before it was light, they left for the fort at Ottawa. When Daviess came home and found his family gone, he followed after and overtook them in their flight, causing the fugitives to return again to their home. On their way homeward, they were met by the family of William Hall, who were also on their way to the fort, but through the persuasion of Mr. Daviess, they returned with him to his house.

William Hall, who is referred to in a previous chapter of this story, had a short time before sold his claim, where La Moille now stands, to Aaron Gunn, and with his family moved to Indian creek. He had been at his new home but a few weeks, having made claims for himself and sons, and was engaged in building a cabin when the war broke out.

Mr. Pettigrew had a claim in the neighborhood, and with his family, had been two days in the fort at Ottawa. Believing that there was no danger of Indian depredations, he returned to Daviess' house, about noon on the day of the massacre. Two young men, Robert Norris and Henry George, were at Daviess house at the time of the massacre. The former lived with Mr. Henderson, a neighbor, and was at the blacksmith shop at the time, in order to have some work done. The latter, Henry George, belonged to the Bureau settlement, owned a claim, and had built a cabin on the present site of Bureau Junction. He was at the time on a visit to Hall's family, and gossip said that he was courting one of his daughters. Mr. Phillips, a millwright by trade, who was engaged in building a mill for Daviess, with his wife and child, were among the victims. Both Daviess and hall had grown up sons, and with the other visitors at the house, they considered themselves of sufficient strength to repel an attack of the Indians.

On the morning of the fatal day, Shaubena, with his pony in a foam of sweat from excessive traveling, called at Daviess' house, and told the inmates that a band of hostile Indians had been for some days on Bureau, and on the evening before they were seen crossing the prairie in the direction of Indian creek timber. On receiving this information, Hall was in favor of leaving immediately for Ottawa, but Daviess, who was a very resolute man, opposed it, saying that he did not fear the Indians, and that no red skin could drive him away from home.

Indians Leave Bureau For Indian Creek

After the murder of Sample an wife, as narrated in a previous chapter, the Indians broke up their camp at the Knox spring, and left for Indian creek settlement. Girty dressed in Sample's clothes, and mounted on his horse, with the scalp of Mrs. Sample suspended from his neck, considering himself "The Big Injun." On arriving at the Indian creek settlement, they secreted themselves in the thick timber, and from here they sent out spies in various directions, to make discoveries. One of these spies visited the residence of Mr. Daviess, and by crawling on his hands and knees through the underbrush, he came close to the house, so that he learned the number of inmates, as well as their means of defense. On returning to his comrades, and reporting his discovery, the Indians mounted their ponies, and followed down the creek timber, until they came within one mile of Daviess cabin. Here, in the thick timber they dismounted, tying their ponies to trees, and then proceeded on foot, in order to carry out their murderous designs; being conducted by two Pottawatamie Indians, who were raised on Indian creek, and who were well acquainted with the surroundings of the house. These Indians led the attacking party with great caution, crawling along under the creek bank, until they approached within a few rods of the house, without being discovered by their victims.

The Massacre*

Page 140-142

It was about four o'clock in the afternoon of May 21st, while the men were at work in the blacksmith shop, and the women busy with their household affairs, unconscious of danger, a dog barked, and on looking out at the door, about seventy Indians, with painted faces , were seen entering the door yard. Mr. Pettigrew, who was in the house, attempted to shut the door, but was shot down while in the act of doing so. Part of the Indians rushed into the house, killing the women and children with their tomahawks and scalping knives, while the others, with deafening yells, attacked the men at the blacksmith shop. The assault was so sudden that the men were unprepared to make a successful defense; although they had their guns with them, there was not sufficient time for their use, as the savages were among them in a moment, using their guns and tomahawks on their victims. William Hall was shot down instantly; Robert Norris had grabbed his gun, and was in the act of shooting, when he too was killed. William Daviess, who was a large, resolute man, defended himself for some time, using the breech of his gun over the heads of the savages, bending the barrel in the struggle, but was at last overpowered and killed. Blood and hair were found on Daviess' gun barrel and the ground where his remains lay showed the marks of a desperate struggle. Near by was a pool of blood, where an Indian was thought to have been killed and carried away by his comrades. Henry George jumped into the mill pond, but was shot while swimming across it.

One of Daviess' sons, a lad of fourteen, was caught by an Indian, while crossing the mill dam, tomahawked, and his remains thrown into the water. John W., a son of William Hall, ran and jumped off the creek bank, as many shots were fired at him. By keeping close under the bank of the creek, out of their sight, he succeeded in making his escape. Three young men, Edward and Greenberry Hall, and a son of Mr. Daviess, were at work in the field, but on seeing the Indians killing their people, they unhitched their oxen from the plow, and fled with all haste of Ottawa, which place they reached in safety. When the Indians entered Daviess' house, they with fiendish yells commenced killing the inmates; some were shot down, others dispatched with knives, spears or tomahawks. Mrs. Phillips was found with her infant clasped in her arms, both having their heads split open by a tomahawk, and were lying in their gore. An Indian snatched an infant out of its mother's arms, and knocked its brains out against the door frame. Sylvia and Rachel Hall and Miss Daviess, jumped on a bed in order to escape the tomahawk of the Indians. Miss Daviess was immediately shot, while Rachel Hall's face was so close to the muzzle of the gun as to burn it to a blister. The Indians afterwards told, with infernal glee, how the women and children squawked like ducks, when they felt the cold steel pierce their bodies.

A short distance from Daviess' cabin lived two families, by the name of Henderson, grandfather and uncle of Gen. Henderson, of Princeton. Two days before the massacre, they were notified of their danger by Shaubena, and had taken their women and children to the fort at Ottawa, while the men returned to work on their claims. On hearing the firing of guns at Daviess' cabin, and knowing that the Indians were murdering their friends, they hurried to their assistance, but on seeing the strength of the attacking party, they knew that assistance would be useless, and only throwing away their own lives, so they turned back and fled for Ottawa.

*Shaubena, in conversation with the writer, stated that the depredations on Indian creek and Fox river, were committed by Indians who belonged on Bureau. In this band were a few Sacs and Foxes, with two warriors, belonging to Shaubena's band, one of whom was his own brother-in-law. Indian chiefs, whom the writer met in Washington, made the same statement, and it is also confirmed by the two Miss Halls, who says that most of the Indians at the massacre were Pottawatamies, two of whom they had seen before.

Fifteen Persons Killed, Two Girls Captured

After the Indians had completed their work of horror, leaving fifteen dead bodies scalped and dreadfully mutilated, they returned to the place where they had left their ponies. They took with them a number of horses, which belonged to the murdered families, also clothing, provisions, and everything they could use. They shot horses, cattle and hogs; even chickens in the barn yard did not escape their fury. Two daughters of Mr. Hall, Sylvia, aged eighteen and Rachel, aged fourteen, were taken prisoners, and carried off into the Indian country.

When the massacre was completed four Indians took hold of the girls, one holding on to each arm, and hurried them off as fast as possible, through the woods, to where their ponies were tied. Here the Indians had collected together, and over the prisoners they held a council to decide about the disposition of them. Girty was in favor of killing the girls on the spot, and thereby save the trouble of taking them to Black Hawk's camp, which was about ninety miles distant. But the will of Girty was overruled by a majority of the warriors, who had in view, no doubt, the large reward that would be paid for their ransom. The girls were placed on horses, Sylvia on one which belonged to her father, and Rachel on a gray horse, that was owned by one of the Hendersons, and had been rode to the blacksmith shop by Robert Norris, a few moments before the massacre. Two Indians rode by the side of the girls, holding the reins of their horses to prevent their escape, and in this position they galloped away.

A son of Mr. Daviess, named James, a lad seven or eight years of age, was taken prisoner with the Hall girls. But after going a short distance through the woods, in the direction of their ponies, the boy gave out, not being able to travel so fast as the rest of the party, and the two Indians who had him in charge, made him stand up to be shot. Little Jimmy, as he was called, pale as death, stood like a marble statue, without moving a muscle, to receive the fatal shot. While the boy was still struggling in the agonies of death, the savages took off his scalp, leaving the body where it fell, to be devoured by wolves.

Two days after the massacre, a company of rangers many of whom belonged to Bureau settlement, went to Indian creek to bury the dead. All the bodies of the victims were found, and buried, except that of little Jimmy, the fate of which was not known until some time afterwards.

The Sacs and Fox warriors conducted the captive Hall girls to Black Hawk's camp, while the Pottawatamies continued their depredations in other localities.

Page 144-145

Sheriff Walker's Two Indian Prisoners

Next spring, after the Black Hawk war, two Pottawatamie Indians were charged with taking part in the Indian creek massacre, and were indicted for murder by the Circuit Court of La Salle county. Sylvia and Rachel Hall testified that they knew these Indians having been to their house before the war and proposed buying them of their father. These Indians were arrested, and bound over to court, but the time of holding court having been changed, the prisoners, thinking that they would not be wanted, went west with their band. George E. Walker, an Indian trader, was at that time sheriff of La Salle county and he, with others, was security for the appearance of these Indians. Walker went alone in search of the prisoners and found them west of the Mississippi, far out in the Indian country. A council of chiefs was called, and it was decided that the accused Indians should accompany Walker to Ottawa, to stand their trail for murder. The Indians bade farewell to their friends, believing that they would be executed upon their arrival at Ottawa, and to all appearance were reconciled to their fate. For many days the sheriff, with his prisoners, traveled through an Indian country, camping out at night, and all sleeping together. Sometimes the Indians would go off on a hunt, in order to supply the with provisions, and could have made their escape at any time, but they had pledges their honor to give themselves up at Ottawa, and nto even the preservation of their lives, could induce them to forfeit this pledge.

As Sheriff Walker was returning with his prisoners, he was met on West Bureau by Peter Demott, an old pionerr hunter. The party was traveling on the Sacs and Fox trail, mounted on Indian ponies, and carrying guns on their shoulders - the sheriff leading the way, and followed by the Indians in single file. Demott recognized one of these Indians as an old friend, with whom he had hunted on Green river two years before.

This Indian appeared dejected in spirits, saying that he was going to Ottawa to die, expressing himself willing to be shot like a brave, but disliked the idea of being hung by the neck, like a dog.

Court came on, and the Indians were tried, but having their faces painted in such a way that the Hall girls could not swear positively to their identity, consequently they were acquitted, and allowed to return to their friends.

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