Online Edition Transcribed by Nancy Piper
The First Settlers
The first white settler in the county, since the French occupation, was Dr. Davidson. By birth he was said to have been a Virginian, and by occupation a physician, but while he lived here he was known as an Indian trader. His cabin stood on the south bank of the Illinois, opposite the west end of Buffalo Rock, near the salt marsh. He came in 1823 and died in his cabin in 1826.
In 1823 Rev. Jesse Walker came into the county, and the following year formed a mission among the Indians on the Fox River, within the present town of Mission. This mission included section 15, town 35, range 5. At an early day it came into the possession of the Bourbonnas, and the grove was known by that name for a long time. According to the fourth article of the treaty of Prairie Du Chien, perfected July 29, 1829, the section on which the mission was located and the adjacent fields were reserved from the general transfer of lands, to Francois Bourbonna, Jr., by whom it was sold to Mern E. Bowen and Hon. J. S. Armstrong.
In 1824 Mr. Thomas R. Covil came and settled on the creek that now bears his name. Also the following settlers established themselves in the county: Joseph Brown, George Brown, Lewis Bailey, Enos Pembroke, Pierce Hawley, James Beresford and Warner Ramsey. In the spring, 1825, Moses Borth, Christopher Long, Geo. Sprague, Horace Sprague, the Pembrokes - Jeremiah, David, and Calvin - Mr. Ransom and Edmond Weed. In the fall of that year Wilbur F. Walker brought a keel-boat load of provisions up the Illinois. This was the first commercial enterprise in the county.
In the fall of 1826 Dr. David Walker, father of Geo. E., Wilbur F. and David Walker, established himself at Ottawa. From this time until the Black Hawk war settlements were not very rapid, among which may be mentioned Wm. Richey, in 1828, on the land now owned by Wm. C. Moore, section 17, township 33, range 3. Mr. Richey, in the winter of 1831, made a permanent settlement within the present limits of Marseilles, and was the first settler in that place.
The Greens and "Green Mills"
The Greens, John, the father, and David and Jesse, the sons, established themselves on Fox River, in 1829 or 1830. They came from Ohio, and traveled as far south as Vandalia, but appreciating the advantages to be derived from water-power on the rapids of Fox River, located themselves there. Having brought with them saw-mill machinery and competent workmen, they built a saw-mill, and afterward a small grist-mill. At that time, however, the latter was considered quite an improvement on the hominy block, or even the horse mill. At first there was but one run of stone, manufactured by the millwright, Wm. Stadden, from a granite boulder taken from the river. The first grist of wheat was ground July 4, 1830. The was the pioneer mill, and for a number of years the place about it was known as "Green Mills." It was not uncommon to see a number of camp-fires about the mill at night. People came from fifty to a hundred miles to get grinding done, and were obliged to wait their turn, oftentimes for weeks.
Josiah Fulton, one of the early inhabitants of Peoria (1819) states, that one year the Green settlement was destitute of provisions, but did not lack means to purchase if it was possible to obtain them. Word was brought from the Sangamon settlement at Springfield, that if they (the Greens) would send a keel-boat by way of the Illinois and Sangamon rivers, the settlers along the banks of the latter would load it with provisions. Rev. Jesse Walker obtained a boat at Peru, and with Fulton as pilot, reached the vicinity of Springfield, and having loaded it, returned to Starved Rock (as far as they could go up the river) from whence they (the provisions) were conveyed by wagons to the settlement. They arrived in time to do the most good.
Perhaps is would not be out of place to give the narrative of the trials and difficulties incident to a journey of an early settler into the county. The cloth-covered wagons, known as prairie schooners, are no rarity at the present day. Their methods of camping, also, are quite familiar. Essentially, the same experience occurred to those who immigrated to this county in an early day. Making the journey around the lakes, however, is quite another affair.
James Galloway and the Trip to Chicago
Originally from Pennsylvania, but settled for a short time at Sandusky, Ohio, then a small village, James Galloway learned of the beautiful prairies of Illinois, and determined to see them. Accordingly, in the fall of 1824, he left Sandusky on horseback, and made the trip to Chicago without incident. Here he remained nearly a year, hunting and trapping. In some of his excursions he visited the Grand Rapids of the Illinois. Being pleased with the locality he purchased the claim of Edmond Weed, on section 24, town 33, rang 4, just across and south of the Illinois River from Marseilles. A cabin was here erected, the first in the east end of the county. During the following year (1825) he returned to Sandusky for his family.
At that time it was exceedingly rare for vessels to make the trip to Chicago. In fact, but few had ventured to do so, and pilots were hard to obtain. Mr. Galloway, who was well to do, considering the times, knew the wants of the country where he designed to settle, and purposely laid in a stock of goods, not only for his own use, but for the purpose of trade with the Indians. He purchased twenty barrels of salt, a handful being equal to a mink skin, while the latter sold for 20 cents. Bacon and flour, with 200 traps, besides a variety of household goods, constituted the property he desired to carry to the new country. It would be next to an impossibility to transport this miscellaneous assortment across the country, consequently he waited the arrival of a vessel bound for Chicago.
The Drunken Boat Captain and the Storm
During the month of August, 1826, he learned of one about to sail, and made arrangements to go. He was disappointed in not making the trip in summer, on account of the tardiness of the Captain, who did not seem in any particular hurry. On the first day of October, however, the vessel left the port. The approach of winter had not the slightest effect to hurry the Captain. He laid over a week at Detroit, to indulge his imbibing habits, and another spree was in order at Mackinaw. Every person on the vessel was a stranger to the lake. While they lay at Mackinaw a storm of sleet and wind from the northeast arose. The Captain, just full enough of liquor to be obstinate, persisted in starting, refusing even to listen to the warnings of the inhabitants about the fort. They sailed. About fourteen miles from the fort they were obliged to turn back to Mackinaw. While rounding the point of the island of St. Helena, the vessel suddenly struck a sand bar, and the pitiless waves dashed over her. With great difficulty the crew and passengers made their way to the island; they were utterly shelterless, with the thermometer below the freezing point. There were no means of communicating their distressful condition to the port, a death by starvation and exposure was before them. They were saved by the merest accident.
The American Fur Company's vessel, which, spring and fall, made the trip of the lakes, to recruit the supplies of its posts at Mackinaw and Chicago left the former place three or four days after the departure of the Galloways, came in sight, was hailed and brought to. The salt in the stranded vessel was a total loss, the flour was badly damaged, but a part of it was saved, as well as the bacon, traps and other effects. The Captain of the Fur Company's vessel hesitated about taking such a miscellaneous assortment of goods, destined for a port where one of their posts was established, and opened communication with the agent at Mackinaw, who was disposed to make severe terms. The goods could be carried to Chicago in the company's vessel, but they must be consigned to their agent there, and kept by him until after the 10th of the following May, the end of the trading season. Mr. Galloway felt indignant, and said they might as well throw the goods into the lake. The Captain of the vessel endeavored to appear friendly, and offered to withhold the letter of instructions to the agent at Chicago, until Mr. Galloway had an opportunity to dispose of his goods. Thus reassured, he embarked.
The Treachery of the American Fur Company
The vessel was crowded, every available place being occupied. Besides the two crews and the Galloway family, which, at that time, consisted of James Galloway and wife, Mary, aged thirteen, Jane, aged nine, Susana, aged two years, there were two carpenters on board, who were coming on to do some work at the fort, and a Mr. Arthur and wife, who expected to engage in farming. There were others that cannot be remembered. All felt kindly to Mr. Galloway, and agreed to stand by him in the event of trouble. The vessel landed about opposite Madison street, near the headquarters of the Fur Company, at that time under the control of Jean Baptist Beaubien. The Captain told Mr. Galloway to find a place to store his goods, and he started out to do so. After Mr. Galloway was out of sight, he handed the letter of instructions to Mons. Beaubien, who hastened to secure help to unload the goods and put them in the company's warehouse, an old tumbled-down affair.
Mr. Galloway went to the fort, almost unoccupied, and endeavored to secure storage for his effects, but without success. He was even denied shelter for his family. It was afterward ascertained that the commandant was secretly in league with the fur company. Finding no place and protection for his goods, Mr. Galloway was apprised of the treachery of the captain, and the general determination of the company to usurp the trade of the post. Undecided as to his future course, he retraced his steps to the landing.
The arrival of th schooner at the place had drawn out a large, mixed crowd of Americans, French, half-breeds and Indians. Mr. Galloway, during his former visit, had formed many friends among them, especially of the denizens of a rival settlement called by the euphonious title of Hard-Scrabble, a grove in the vicinity of where Bridgeport now stands. These people, with his fellow passengers, were disposed to dispute the right of the company to control this matter. There forces of each side were counted, and Mr. Galloways's found to be in the majority. This compelled Mons. Beaubien to desist, although he uttered some terrible execrations in mixed French and English, because he could not carry out the instructions of the agent at Mackinaw.
There was no storage to be obtained at the landing. Alexander Robinson, a half-breed chief of the Pottowatamies, said to him, "I have a cabin at Hard-Scrabble which my friend is welcome to if he wants." Mr. Galloway gladly accepted the kind offer. They loaded the flat boat of Mr. Wallace with the goods, and poled it up the Chicago River, four miles from the fort, and landed them near the cabin. It was on the west tributary of the South Branch.
1826 Chicago and Hard-Scrabble
The winter of 1826 and 1827 was severe, and the family suffered much from cold and the crowded condition of their home. They were frequently visited by Indians, their cabin being farthest out from the settlement and near the most frequented trail to the Fox and Desplaines rivers. When the red men were full of whisky they were very unpleasant visitors. The Galloways, recently from civilization, and no doubt remembering the horrors of Indian butchery in early times, as well as unaccustomed to Indian peculiarities, were in much trepidation all winter, Mr. Galloway being at work on his claim, at the grand rapids, most of the time.
The Chicago of 1826 presented a bleak aspect, made up of timber and prairie. Near the mouth of the river, then at the foot of Madison street, was the cabin of Jean Baptiste Beaubien, and a shanty warehouse somewhat nearer the lake. Old Fort Dearborn was farther up the river, near the present site of Rush street bridge. Opposite the fort, a double log house, occupied jointly by John Kinzie and Alexander Walcott. Near this, the blacksmith shop of David McKey and Joseph Parthrick. At the forks of the river was a log house used as a store, owned and occupied by James Kinzie and David Hall, of Virginia.
Hard-Scrabble contained five or six cabins. Several were occupied by the Laframboises, of whom there were four, Francis, Sr., Francis, Jr., Joseph and Claude. One was occupied by Mr. Wallace, another by Barney Lawton, the Galloways were domiciled in one and there was still another. The Clybourns lived in two cabins on the North Branch. These were occupied by Jonah, the father, Archibald and Henly, the sons, and a relative, James K. Clark. This settlement was on Clybourn Place, opposite the North Chicago Rolling Mills.
The Trip to LaSalle County
In the spring Mr. Galloway and Mr. Arthur, whose families had lived together during the winter, for the most of the time, constructed a double boat, or pirogue, from a walnut tree standing on the bank of the river, and, having placed their worldly effects into it, started for their new home. Mrs. Galloway was certainly glad to go, for she spoke of Chicago as "the jumping off place."
The craft was poled up the river into Mud Lake, and across this to the Desplaines, then a feat of no great difficulty, and floated down the river to their future home. Trials by flood with them were over, for the present at least. Settled in their new cabin on the bank of the river, they recounted their experiences and exulted in their happy deliverance. Before them was the Illinois, abounding with fish, and the bark canoes of their swarthy neighbors could be seen upon its bosom almost any hour of the day. The buffalo had disappeared two years before their coming, but their whitening carcasses were to be observed on every hand. (The last of the buffaloes was killed by Samuel Aimes, at Troy Grove, in 1837.) Deer were plenty, and prairie wolves were exceedingly numerous, and impudent. Prairie chickens awakened the settlers in the spring mornings with boomings under their windows. Mr. Galloway, who was exceedingly fond of fishing and hunting, thought he hand found the sportsman's paradise.
The year they settled here (1827) a notable incident occurred. The family had retired for the night, when a loud noise was heard ...........
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