An Interesting talk With Mrs. William Lawhorn
Contributed by Alice Horner

Mrs. William Lawhorn, of Lena, is a lady who has stood the ravages of time remarkably well. She lives with her son William and though eighty-one years old enjoys good health and happiness. Nothing gives her more pleasure than to tell of the pioneer days and recount the tragedies of the Black Hawk war.

She is looking forward eagerly to the reunion to be held next week. That reunion, by the way, is destined to mark an important event in the lives of the survivors of the war and already quite a number have written their intention of being present among whom are Hon. Peter Parkinson, of Fayette, Wis., and Halsted Townsend, of Warren. It is also expected that H. D. Dement, son of the gallant Colonel Dement, who so bravely led his forces at the battle of Kellogg’s Grove, will be there. It is proposed to organize and make arrangements for a reunion to be held next year.

Let us glance hurriedly at the early life of Mrs. Lawhorn and then hasten westward with her to live over again the time of trial and of war. She was born and raised in Cacaco, Kentucky, and was married to William Lawhorn at the age of seventeen. Soon after they moved to Sangamon county near where the state capital is now located. They went to Jo Daviess county early in 1832 settling near what is now known as Hanover, Mr. Lawhorn being engaged in farming with Stephen A. Howard.

Black Hawk and his forces were at this time encamped near Dixon and he becoming discontented with the treaty with the whites set out early in June 1832, with his forces to drive them from what he considered his territory. At this time there was a fort at Dixon and also one at Galena protected by a regiment of troops under Major Stephenson. Between these places there was a messenger route and information was soon brought of the danger from Indian attacks. A fort was built at Apple River or what is now known as Elizabeth and the settlers and their families for forty miles around congregated there.


Those who were in the fort at the time, there being twenty men and fourteen women, were: Captain Stone, John Flack, Hebrew Marsh, William Lawhorn, William Johnson, David Mulligan, James, John and Milden Flack, Joseph Bean, Stephen A. Howard, Chas. Ames, Mr. Nutton, Daniel Uton, John Jamison, Moses Uton, David Armstrong, John Jamison Jr., Hezekiah Mulligan, Jefferson Murdick, Mesdames Sarah van Valkenberg, Elizabeth Armstrong, Rebecca Hitt, James Jamison, William Lawhorn, Elizabeth Morris, Sarah Flack, S. A. Howard, Jefferson Clark, David Clark, Killian, Lee, Murdick, and Crain. There were also present at the fort at the time of the attack four express men, Harkell Rhodes, Sydney Welsh and Messrs. Dixon and Kirkpatrick.

The fort was built by splitting logs, setting them on end and making a sort of stockade about twelve feet high. Black Hawk after raiding the vicinity of Hanover suddenly appeared before the fort at Elizabeth with 350 warriors. The battle occurred in the month of June 1832. After three hours of hard fighting the Indians drew off, there having been one man, Harkel Rhodes, killed and two wounded. It was never known how many Indians were killed as they carried off their dead during the battle. Mrs. Elizabeth Armstrong carried the ammunition to the men, and the other women moulded bullets and took care of the children. After the battle a company of volunteers, together with five of Co. Stephenson’s men set out to overtake the Indians, which they did at a point three miles north of Lena, near the Sisson farm. At their approach the Indians took the timber and protected themselves behind trees and logs. Stephen A. Howard and Charles Ames, of Major Stephenson’s company, and a man by the name of Lovest, of Captain Stone’s company, were killed. The dead lay there five days, or until a force came out from Galena to bury them. Howard was wearing a new Mackinaw overcoat belonging to Mr. Lawhorn at the time he was killed and he was buried in it. As the Indians had taken all the clothing in the fort except what was worn Mr. Lawhorn was obliged to go without a coat until he could get one again. After the tree men were killed the whites retreated to Rush Creek at a point now in the township of Derinda. Here the red men camped and replenished their stock of provisions by killing the cattle and hogs of the Flack brothers.

From here the Indians started eastward until they reached Kellogg’s Grove, where a battle was fought with Colonel Dement’s men.

Among the incidents that transpired after the attack on the Elizabeth fort was the false alarm given by John Flack and Hezekiah Mulligan, who had been out building houses on their claims. They heard John Murdick and Jeff Clark, who were calling their hogs; thought the noise was made by Indians, rushed to the fort and gave the alarm, running the whole distance of three miles. John Flack came across a horse, belonging to Captain Stone, standing near the fort, and mounting the animal, he rode pell mell to Galena to warn the people of the supposed danger.

After the war Mr. and Mrs. Lawhorn went to Galena, where they lived for a great many years and then moved to Stephenson County.

From an unknown newspaper probably 1890-91
Alice Horner notes: "It was probably clipped out by my great great-grandfather, Samuel Preston. It came from my Aunt Bessie Downing's farmhouse in Mt. Carroll Township, Carroll County, Illinois, where my mother grew up, but her father's home had been through the cyclone of 1898, and he wouldn't have had this clipping. Whereas Samuel Preston's home wasn't hit."