History of Lee County with Biographical Matter, Statistics, Etc.
Chicago by H.H. Hill and Company Publishers 1881

The Black Hawk war broke out in 1832, when Dixon’s Ferry, where the city of Dixon is now located, became the rendezvous of the United States troops and the raw levies that were raised for the defense of the frontier, as it proved to be a central position for the speedy and successful manueuvreing of troops and their supplies. “A treaty had been made in 1804 with the Sacs and Fox Indians, in which those powerful tribes ceded to the United States all their lands lying east of the Mississippi, and agreed to remove to lands west of that river. Black Hawk and other chiefs not being present when the treaty was made, refused to be bound by it.” It is but just that the noble warrior, Black Hawk, be heard respecting this treaty, and the relation of his people to tho origin of the war which followed. In his account given to Antoine Leclair, United States interpreter for the Sacs and Foxes, and published in the “Life of Black Hawk,” by J. B. Patterson, of Rock Island, in 1834, he said : 44 One of our people killed an American and was confined in the prison at St. Louis for the offense. We held a council at our village to see what could be done for him, which determined that Quiish-qua-me, Pa-she-pa-ho, Ou-che-qua-ka, and Ha-she quar-hf-qua should go down to St. Louis, see our American father, and do all they could to have our friend released by paying for the person killed, thus covering the blood and satisfying the relations of the man murdered. This was the only means with us of saving a person who had killed another, and we then thought it was the same way with the whites. The party started with the good wishes of our whole nation, hoping they would accomplish the object of their mission. The relatives of the prisoner blacked their faces and fasted, hoping the Great Spirit would take pity on them and return the husband and father to his wife and children. Quash-qua-ine and party remained a long time absent. They at length returned, * * * and gave to us the following account of their mission:

“On their arrival at St. Louis they met their American father and explained to him their business, and urged the release of their friend. The American chief told them he wanted land, and they had agreed to give him some 011 the west side of the Mississippi and some on the Illinois side opposite the Jeffreon. When the business was all arranged they expected to have their friend released to come homo with them, but about the time they wore ready to start their friend was let out of prison, and ho ran a short distance and was shot dead. This is all they could recollect of what was said or done. They had been drunk the greater part of the time they were in St. Louis.

“This is all myself or nation knew of the treaty of 1804. It has been explained to me since. I find, by that treaty, all our country east of the Mississippi and south of Jeffreon was ceded to the United States for one thousand dollars a year. I will leave it to the people of the United States to say whether our nation was properly represented in this treaty, or whether we received a fair compensation for the extent of country ceded by those four individuals. I could say much about this treaty but will not at this time. It has been the origin of all our difficulties.

After the treaty of peace between the United States and Groat Britain, Black Hawk and his chiefs went down to St. Louis to confirm the treaty of peace, and “Hero,” says Black Hawk, “for tho first time I touched tho goose quill to the treaty,— not knowing, however, that by that act I consented to give away my village. Had that been explained to me I should have opposed it and never would have signed their treaty. What do we know about the laws and customs of the white people. They might buy our bodies for dissection and we would touch the goose quill to confirm it without knowing what we were doing. This was the wise with myself and people in touching tho goose quill the first time.” Black Hawk also claimed that they did not cede their Tillage to tho government This village was situated on the north side of Rock river, at its mouth, on the point of land between this river and the Mississippi. Their corn-fields extended up the Mississippi for two miles, where they joined the Foxes on the north. Rock Island was tho summer resort for their young people, their garden which supplied them with berries and fruits, and the rapids of Rock river furnished them with the finest fish. “A good spirit had care of it, who lived in a cave in the rocks immediately under the place where the fort now stands (1834) and has often been seen by our people. He was white, with large wings like a swan’s, but ten times larger. We were particular not to make much noise in that part of the island which he inhabited for fear of disturbing him; but the noise of the fort has driven him away and no doubt a bad spirit has taken his place.” It is not to be thought strange that those native tribes would be unwilling to leave this beautiful and rich country, the home of their fathers for more than a hundred years. And besides Black Hawk claimed, as did also Quash-qua-me, who conducted the treaty, that their Rock Island village had not been sold, as claimed by the government. On this they predicated their claims and all their troubles. The whites, however, occupied their village, and Black Hawk says 44 they brought whisky into our village, and made our people drunk, and cheated them out of their horses, guns and traps!” It may be noted here that the first temperance crusade in this country was headed by Black Hawk, chief of the Sacs. He says: “I visited all tho whites (in the village) and begged them not to sell whisky to my people. One of them continued tho practice openly. I took a party of my young men, went to his house, and took out his barrel and broke in the head and turned out the whisky.” He then adds: “Bad and cruel as our people were treated by the whites, not one of them was hurt or molested by any of my band. I hope this will prove that we are a peaceable people, having permitted ten men to take possession of our corn-fields, prevent us from planting corn, burn and destroy our lodges, ill-treat our women, and beat to death our men without offering resistance to their barbarous cruelties. The whites were complaining at the same time that we were intruding upon their rights! They made themselves out the injured party, and we the intruders ! and called loudly to the great war-chief to protect their property! How smooth must be the language of the whites when they can make right look like wrong and wrong look like right!”

This brave and proud warrior would not surrender his village until the last hour, when the United States soldiers were on the ground for the purpose of forcing him to terms. The night before the day appointed by Gen. Gaines to remove them, the chief and his people crossed the Mississippi and encamped below the mouth of Rock river. Black Hawk went to their agent and requested that a house be built for him, and a field plowed in the fall, as he desired to live retired. This being promised, lie went to the trader and obtained permission to be buried in the graveyard in their old village. “I then returned,” said Black Hawk, “to my people satisfied.” He had not remained long in quiet retirement when in 1831 the restless chief and his band (known as the British Band of Sac Indians) crossed the river to their old homes at the mouth of Rock river, but after preparations of war were made for his extermination he negotiated a treaty and returned to the west side of the Mississippi, receiving liberal presents of goods and provisions from the government, and promised never to return without the consent of the president of the United States or the governor of Illinois.

Here he remained quietly until the following year, when discontent was created by the bad counsel of British officers on the upper Mississippi; and on April 6, 1832, he again recrossed the Mississippi with his entire band and their women and children, and soon commenced his march up the river, intending to take possession of the Kishwaukee country on the upper Rock river, claimed to have been given him by the Pottawatomies.

Black Hawk’s policy was to ascend the Rock river in peace, until he had the expected reinforcements from the Ottawas, Chippewas, Pottawatomies, and Winnebagoes, from the upper Rock river and lake region, as he had been told. Ascending the river to Prophetstown, he received an order from Gen. Atkinson (White Beaver) to return or he would pursue him and drive him back. The chief refused, sending word to the general if he wanted to fight to come on, and moved on up river.

Mr. John Dixon, then proprietor of Dixon’s Ferry, was advised of the approach of the Black Hawk band of Indians, and would have abandoned his home, and sought safety elsewhere, but his faith in humanity was of that kind that “Hopeth all things, of all men”— even the Indians. A leading Winnebago chief, Pachinka (Crane in English), had told him that the Winnebagoes held possession of the lands through which the Sacs would have to move, and that they would not dare injure the white friends of his nation. So Father Dixon was here when the savage army passed early in May. He so arranged his family and hired help as to ascertain the force of the hostiles. This ho accomplished without exciting their suspicions. His estimate gave them 000 men. The band encamped at a spring a few hundred yards above the ferry, now submerged by reason of the dam.

The war chief had not forgotten the kindness of Mrs. Dixon during the preceding winter, when he, a chief from Rock Island, and the prophet from Prophetstown, met in council with the Pottawatomies at Dixon's Ferry, when Black Hawk negotiated for the occupancy of Spotted Arms’ Town near the present site of Rockford. During their stay the chiefs at the council tire were regularly invited as guests to Mrs. Dixon’s table. She served them as waiter, and even sat down and ate and drank with them. Black Hawk not only reminded her of his appreciation of her kindness, but called the attention of the other chiefs to her care for them.

On May 12 Governor Reynolds was at Dixon’s Ferrv, with about 900 mounted riflemen, under command of Gen. Whitesides, awaiting the arrival of Gen. Atkinson’s forces of the regular army, coining up the river with army stores, provisions, and the general impediments of a moving army.

Immediately after the arrival of the forces at Dixon’s Ferry Gen. Whitesides sent a party of four men, a guide and interpreter, under command of Capt. John Dement (then state treasurer), to Shabbona’s Grove, just within the borders of the present county of De Kalb, to warn the friendly Pottawatomie chief, Shabbona, who lived there upon a small reservation with his family and a few followers, not to allow Black Hawk to come upon his lands to live.”

Having lost their way they were, toward the close of the second day out, approaching a grove to the northwest of Shabbona’s Grove, which they were seeking, when Peter Manard, the interpreter of the party, who was familiar with Shabbona and his people, approached the grove in advance of the party expecting to meet the friendly Pottawatomies. Crossing a small stream he entered the grove, where ho found an unoccupied lodge. Alighting from his pony, he was trying to strike a fire preparatory to an encampment for the night, when Capt. Dement, who was approaching the grove at another point, descried some Indians in tho timber trying to conceal themselves in the thicket, leaving his party to watch the movements of the savages he rode down the grove to see what had become of Manard, whom he found in possession of his lodge, happily anticipating a good smoke in his efforts to strike a fire; but at the word from the captain he mounted and joined the party. The Indians soon rushed from the grove with veils and menaces of war. The scouting party fearing the presence of superior numbers galloped away over the prairie; but discovering that only two or three Indians were following them they reined up their horses when the Indians came up, laughing and pretending friendship.

From these Indians they learned that Black Hawk and his band were encamped on a stream but two miles away, and that they were going over to Mud lake to hunt. They invited the captain and his party to lodge with them for the night, promising to feast them on fresh venison. The captain declined their hospitality, preferring a long horseback ride in the night, though weary from the long travel of the day. He turned toward Shabbona’s grove to mislead the red-men should they attempt to follow or intercept them, and when beyond their view the party headed toward Dixon's Ferry and rode all night, reaching Inlet grove in early morning. After halting a short time at this point they continued their march to Dixon’s Ferry, and reported the result of their expedition to the commanding general.
Just before Capt. Dement and his party returned to Dixon's Ferry from Shabbona’s grove Maj. Stillman was permitted to advance up the river and spy out the hostile camp. Maj. Stillman was at the ferry when Gen. Whitesides arrived; he had command of a small battalion of green volunteers, who, in their inexperience, were eager to get a shot at an Indian. On the evening of May 15 or l6 Stillman encamped on a small stream near Kishwaukee creek, in what is now Ogle county, about thirty miles from Dixon. He was about five miles distant from Black Hawk’s camp on Kishwaukee creek, but did not know it.”

Black Hawk says that at about this time “ the Pottawatomie chiefs arrived at my camp. I had a dog killed, and made a feast. When it was ready I spread my medicine bags, and the chiefs began to eat. When the ceremony was about ending I received news that three or four hundred white men on horseback had been seen about eight miles off. I immediately started three young men with a white flag to meet them, and conduct them to our camp, that we might hold a council with them, and descend Hock river again.” These three men, according to Black Hawk, were captured by the whites and taken to their camp. One of them was shot, and the other two escaped to their own camp.

After Black Hawk had started the three, as above, he sent five more young men to follow after and see what the result would be. These proceeded to a mound about a mile and a half from Stillman's camp where they displayed a flag of truce. “They were discovered by some of the men. who, without reporting to their commander, and without orders, hastily mounted and rode toward the Indians. These, not understanding this sudden movement, and apparently suspicious, commenced to retreat toward the camp of their chief. The whites dashed after them, fired and killed two of their number and captured two more, the others escaped, still pursued by the reckless volunteers. When Black Hawk and his war chief, Ne-o-pope,saw them dashing down upon their camp, their Hag of truce disregarded, they raised the terrible war-whoop and prepared for the fray.” Black Hawk says, “ When they came in with the news I was preparing my flags to meet the war chief. The alarm was given. Nearly all my young men were absent, about ten miles off. I started with what I had left (about forty), and had proceeded but a short distance before we saw a part of the army approaching. I immediately placed my men in front of some bushes, that we might have the first fire. They halted some distance from us, when I gave another yell, and ordered my braves to charge upon them, expecting that we would all be killed. They did charge. Every man rushed and fired, and the enemy retreated in the utmost confusion and consternation before my little but brave band of warriors. I found it useless to follow them, as they rode so fast, and I returned to my encampment with a few of my braves, about twenty-five having gone in pursuit of the enemy. I lighted my pipe, and sat down to thank the Great Spirit for what he had done for my people.”

Our own historian says of the defeat, when Black Hawk met the charging volunteers. 44 It was now the turn of the volunteers to retreat. which they did with wonderful celerity. Supposing they were pursued by a thousand savage warriors, the flying soldiers rushed through the camp, spreading terror and consternation among their comrades. The wildest confusion ensued, there was 4 mounting in hot haste*: and the efforts of the officers to rally the troops were without avail. The panic was complete; every man seemed bent upon saving his scalp, and fled, never stopping until they reached Dixon’s Ferry, or some other place of safety. It is said that the first man to reach Dixon was a Kentucky lawyer, not unknown to fame in Jo Daviess county, who reported that every man in Stillman’s command had been killed except himself. Nearly every man, as he came straggling back to the Ferry during the night, had a like report to make.”

The narrative continues: “ It is a well known fact that Stillman’s men were well supplied with whiskey, and that many of them were drunk, which may account for their rash act in firing upon the white flag in utter disregard of all rules of warfare recognized, even among the Indians. On the approach of day the order was given for a forced march to the fatal field, and about eight hundred of the volunteers moved out, leaving two hundred men to guard the ferry; but the enemy had gone, the main body moving northward, and the rest scattering in small bands to avenge the death of their people upon unoffending settlers. Eleven of Stillman’s men were killed. Their mutilated remains were gathered and buried, and the place is known as 44 Stillman’s Run ” to this day It is supposed that nearly all of those who were killed were not in the first melee, as all but two or three of the bodies were found on the side of the creek upon which Stillman camped; they were probably unable to get to their horses before the savages dashed through their camp. Being out of provisions the pursuing army were obliged to return to Dixon’s Ferry, to await the arrival of the boats. This defeat was the opening of hostilities, and justice compels the impartial historian to record that the whites were the aggressors.”

Had the counsel of Captain Dement been followed, at this time a conflict and loss of valuable lives might have been averted. On the captain’s return with his scouting party to Dixon’s Ferry, he informed the commanding general of the situation of Black Hawk, and the friendly attitude of those of his army they had met. No blood having been shed, he thought that the chief could have been induced to return peaceably to his home in Iowa; and the account afterward given by Black Hawk indicated that the captain was correct in his judgment of the situation.

Said Black Hawk: “Never was I so much surprised in my life as I was in this attack. An army of three or four hundred, after having learned that we were suing for peace, to attempt to kill the flag-bearers that had gone, unarmed, to ask for a meeting of the war chiefs of the two contending parties to hold a council, that I might return to the west side of the Mississippi, to come forward, with a full determination to demolish the few braves I had with me, to retreat, when they had ten to one, was unaccountable to me. I sent a flag of peace to the American war chief, expecting as a matter of right, reason and justice, that our flag would be respected.” The expected provisions having reached Dixon’s Ferry, the army again moved north, following the Indians to Fox river.

“The term of enlistment having expired, the volunteers demanded to be dismissed. They were mustered out May 26 or 27, and a new call issued for volunteers. Whitesides and two or three hundred volunteers remained in arms for the protection of the settlers until the new levies could be organized. These, with several companies of regulars, made their headquarters at Dixon’s Ferry. Hanging companies were formed to keep up communication between the lead mine region and more southern counties. Maj. Riley, of the United States army, converted the former residence of D. W. Kellogg, at Kellogg’s Grove, thirty-seven miles northeast of Dixon, into a small, well appointed stockade, and other temporary fortifications were raised in different localities.”

During this time Black Hawk was making the best possible way north to the Four Lakes, to find safety for his women and children. “The fatal act of Stillman’s men precipitated all the horrors of Indian border warfare upon the white settlements in Jo Daviess county, as it then existed, and in the adjoining portions of Michigan Territory. Nor is it certain that all the outrages were perpetrated by the “British Band.” It is certain that young Pottawatomies and Winnebagoes joined Black Hawk, and, after the war suddenly closed at Bad Axe, it was ascertained that many of the murders had been committed by these Indians. Among the first results of “ Stillman's defeat” was the descent of about twenty-five Indians upon an unprotected settlement at Indian creek, where they massacred fifteen men, women and children, and captured two young women, Sylvia and Rachel Iiall. These girls, seventeen and fifteen years old respectively, were afterward brought in by Winnebagoes to Gratiot Grove, and were ransomed for $2,000 in horses, wampum and trinkets. Part of the compensation agreed upon by Gen. Dodge for their ransom was paid to “Whirling Thunder, ” one of the Winnebago chiefs, at Dixon’s Ferry.

“The atrocities perpetrated by the Indians upon the bodies of their victims aroused the vengeance of the settlers and miners, many of whom had previously felt that the Indians were not so much in fault, and had needlessly been provoked to bloodshed. Unexpected and mortifying as the beginning of this war had been, its relinquishment was not dreamed of, and every effort was made to ensure future protection. A fair wagon road was made from Dixon’s Ferry to Rock Island, which was the base of supplies. Another road, but more imperfect, was made from Rock Island to Fort Koshkanong (near Madison, Wisconsin,) and to other temporary fortifications. Conforming to the inevitable, a fort was constructed on the north side of the river, consisting of two block houses within an inclosure made by a breastwork of sod and earth four and a half feet high, and abutting on the river a few rods west of the ferry. The northeast block house was two stories high, and was so arranged as to command the north and east sides of the fort. Were Captain Palmer was stationed with one company of United States infantry to guard the ferry, thus affording a safe and speedy passage to passing troops at all times, endearing himself to citizens and soldiers alike by his gentlemanly bearing and deportment.

“ On Saturday, May 19, Sergeant Fred Stahl (now a respected citizen of Galena) and four privates, with John Winters, the mail contractor, for guide, left Galena to bear dispatches to Gen. Atkinson, who had arrived at Dixon's Ferry. On the evening of that day they were ambuscaded by Indians just at the edge of Buffalo Grove, now in Ogle county. One of the party was instantly killed and the others narrowly escaped to Galena.

“ May 23, Felix St. Vrain, agent for the Sacs and Foxes, bearer of dispatches, left Gen. Atkinson’s headquarters, at Dixon's Ferry, accompanied by six men. At Buffalo Grove they found the body of the volunteer that had been killed a few days before, and buried it. The next day (24th) they were attacked by a party of thirty Indians, near “ Kellogg's old place". St. Vrain and three others were killed. The remaining three escaped and arrived at Galena on the morning of the 26th.

“On the 15th of June the new levies of 3,000 volunteers, in camp at Fort Wilburn, near La Salle, were formed into three brigades, under command of Gen. Atkinson. The first brigade was commanded by Gen. Alexander Posey; the second by Gen. Milton 11. Alexander, and the third by Gen. James D. Henry. They moved to Dixon’s Ferry a few days after.

“ Capt. John Dement was elected major of an independent spy battalion, consisting of three companies of about 140 men, belonging to Gen. Posey’s brigade. Maj. Dement was sent in advance of the main force to report Indian depredations that had been committed in the Bureau woods, to Col. Taylor at Dixons Ferry. After scouring the woods ho arrived at the river the evening of the second or third day. He arrived just after two companies of regulars had been driven in from an attempt to keep open the road between Galena and Dixon. Taylor met Dement as he arrived, and informed him that lie had come just in time—that he had just the place for him, and directed him to swim his horses across the river in the morning and receive his orders. In Maj. Dement’s command were men who had held nearly every office in the state from governor down. His men were fatigued from their long ride and expected a short rest when they arrived at the river. Dement, although ready to do his duty without flinching, was desirous of not appearing anxious to get his men prematurely into a fight, when the regulars could not hold their own, and a large force of volunteers were so soon to arrive; he therefore requested Col. Taylor, when he should deliver him his orders, to read them to his men, that they might know that he (Dement* was not responsible for the movement. As they were ready to start, Taylor read the orders, and then addressed the men in a very abrupt manner, alluding to the unfortunate propensity of the Illinois militia for running away, and said that if they wished to sacrifice the reputation of the militia, already so poor, they had an opportunity to do so. Maj Dement replied that the discontent Col. Taylor alluded to was greatly exaggerated, and its cause by no means understood, and allusion to the courage of the soldiers, unjust and entirely uncalled for from men who, with the experience of the regular army would entrench themselves behind walls and send to the front men who had never seen service. Then telling his men that none need obey his orders to march that didn’t wish to go, he moved off, and all, save ono man, followed, and he came up alter they had gone a short distance. By evening of the second day they arrived at the stockade at Kellogg’s Grove, and encamped. In the morning, learning chat an Indian trail had been seen four or five miles from the grove where they were encamped, the major called for twenty-five volunteers to go and investigate. These were immediately forthcoming. and among them were the only captains he had in his command.

These men started just before sunrise, leaving Maj. Dement giving instructions to those who remained, and on reaching the edge of the grove they discovered seven Indians a few hundred yards on the prairie. The cry of "Indians!” was raised, when the men in the grove sprang to their horses in confusion, and by the time Maj. Dement had brought them to order and finished his instructions, the volunteers were a mile out on the prairie in pursuit. Being splendidly mounted Maj. Dement rapidly overtook a number of them, but several were too far in advance; the Indians making for another grove some three miles away, where Dement was convinced a large number of Indians lay concealed. Finding it was impossible to overtake some five or six who wore in advance, on arriving at a ridge some 400 yards from the grove to which the Indians were running, he haired the remainder of his men and formed line. As he feared, on nearing the grove those in advance were received with a warm fire, which killed two and wounded a third, and with hideous yells a large body of Indians poured from the grove, extending to the right and left, to outflank the little band, and rapidly approached. They were all mounted, stripped to the skin, and painted for battle. As the Indians reached the bodies of the dead soldiers a large number surrounded them, clubbing and striking the lifeless remains. A volley from the rifles of Maj. Dement’s men killed two or three at this point, but by the time two or three men had reached the ridge, the Indians were close upon them, and were on both flanks. Then came an exciting race for the grove, Indians yelling, bullets flying, and woe to the man whose horse stumbled or gave out!

“Here occurred an unfortunate circumstance: Three men whose horses had strayed during the night had, early in the morning, gone out in search of them, and were now caught on one of the flanks. The Indians swept over them, killing every one.

“The men in the grove hearing the firing and yelling, instead of remaining in ambush as they had been instructed, mounted in hot haste and started to The rescue of their comrades. On discovering the superior force of the Indians, they fell back again and reached the grove with 970 men, and almost neck and neck with the Indians, sprang from their horses and occupied the log house and barn there situated. On the least exposed side of the house was a work bench ; over this Dement threw his bridle rein, and most of the horses instinctively huddled together at this house as if conscious of danger. As the Indians swarmed into the grove and covered themselves, an ominous stillness for some minutes prevailed, which was soon broken by the sharp crack! crack! of many rifles. The best marksmen and best rifles were placed at the port-holes and a lively fire was kept up by the little garrison. The Indians finding they made no impression turned their attention to shooting the horses, some twenty- five of which they killed. It was unpleasant to the volunteers, who rode their own horses, to hear the crack of the rifle and the heavy thud of the bullet and see some favorite horse spring as the ball struck it. After a sharp contest of an hour or two, the Indians withdrew, leaving nine dead and losing probably several others killed and wounded. Reinforcements were sent for the relief of Dement from Dixon’s Ferry, but too late to assist him or follow the retreating body of Indians.

“It is a remarkable tact that this was the first instance during this war where the Indians were defeated and the position of the volunteers held until reinforcements came up. Previous to this the detachments of troops were always driven back to the main army by the overwhelming numbers of Indians. After this fight the Indians would not come to open battle of their own volition with the whites, and the only fights that occurred were when the soldiers overtook the Indians in their retreat ; which style of warfare continued until hostilities ceased with Black Hawk’s surrender in August.”

Black Hawk described the battle in which he claimed to have two hundred warriors in the following manner: “ We started in a direction toward sunrise. After marching a considerable time I discovered some white men coming toward us. I told my braves that we would get into the woods and kill them when they approached. We concealed ourselves until they came near enough and then commenced yelling and tiring^and made a rush upon them. About this time their chief, with a party of men, rushed up to rescue the men we had fired upon. In a little while they commenced retreating and left their chief and a few braves who seemed willing and anxious to light. They acted like braves, but were forced to give way when I rushed upon them with my braves. In a short time the chief returned with a larger party. He seemed determined to fight and anxious for a battle. When he came near enough I raised the yell and firing commenced on both sides. The chief, who seemed to be a small man, addressed his warriors in a loud voice, but they soon retreated, leaving him and a few braves on the battle-field. A great number of my warriors pursued the retreating party and killed a number of their horses as they ran. The chief and his few braves were unwilling to leave the field. I ordered my braves to rush upon them, and had the mortification of seeing two of my chiefs killed before the enemy retreated. This young chief, Col. Dement, deserves great praise for his courage and bravery. During the attack we killed several men and about forty horses, and lost two young chiefs and seven warriors." Gen. Atkinson commenced his slow and cautious march up the river about the 25th of June,and finally reached lake Koshkanong, Wisconsin, where he was joined by Gen. Alexander’s brigade, and then continued his march to White river, or Whitewater, where he was joined by Posey’s brigade and Maj. Dodge. Gen. Alexander, Gen. Henry and Maj. Dodge were sent to Fort Winnebago for supplies. Here they heard that Black Hawk was making his way toward the Wisconsin river, and. disobeying orders. Henrv and Dodge started in pursuit (Gen. Alexander and his brigade returned to Gen. Atkinson), struck the broad fresh trail of the Indians, and followed them with tireless energy. Black Hawk was overtaken at the Wisconsin river, and his braves offered battle to enable the women and children to cross the river. The battle of Wisconsin Heights was fought on July 22,1S«32, at which the Indians were badly whipped. Skirmishing commenced a little after noon, but the heaviest fighting was about sunset. About ten o’clock the men bivouacked for rest on their arms.

The next morning not an Indian remained on the east wide of the Wisconsin. Gen. Henry pushed back for supplies, and Gen. Atkinson’s forces coming up. the pursuit was renewed and the battle of Bad Axe was fought August 2, 1832. This terminated the war, and Black Hawk’s surrender, subsequent visit to Washington, and return to his people in Iowa, are events familiar to the reader. Black Hawk claimed : “ In this skirmish with fifty braves I defended and accomplished my passage over the Ouisconsin (Wisconsin) with a loss of only six men, though opposed by a host of mounted militia.” At the close of the war the United States troops that had not previously been discharged were mustered out at Dixon’s Ferry. The pack horses from all the territory between Dixon and the Wisconsin river, the mining region and the scene of Black Hawk’s defeat were gathered and eorraled here, preparatory to being driven farther south for sale in more densely settled portions of the state. The wounded and sick soldiers were brought here and carefully nursed and cared for.

By the terms of Gen. Scott’s treaty at Rock Island the Winnebago Indians were to have -10,000 rations of bacon and flour, as a remuneration for the sufferings they had endured during the summer by the occupation of their hunting grounds. The rations for the Rock river band of that nation were moved hero in boats from Rock Island, and Father Dixon appointed to distribute it to the Indians at his discretion.

It is an interesting circumstance that at this remote outpost of civilization there met a number of men since famous or infamous in their country’s service: Gen. Scott, Col. Zachary Tavlor, subsequently president of the United States ; Gov. Reynolds, and Gen. Atkinson; Lieut. Robert Anderson, the defender of Fort Sumter; Maj. John Dement, now of Dixon ; private Abraham Lincoln, afterward president, of the United States during the rebellion ; and Lt. Jeff. Davis, afterward the leader of the rebellion. These were all here in their country’s service.

When Maj. Anderson visited Washington after the evacuation of Fort Sumter, during a conversation the president said : “Major, do you remember of ever meeting me before?” “No,” replied Anderson, “I have no recollection of ever having that pleasure." My memory is better than yours,” said Lincoln, “You mustered me into the U. S. service as a high private of the Illinois volunteers at Dixon’s Ferry in the Black Hawk war.”

During this war. and, in fact, for years after, Father Dixon’s log house was a “house of call” tor the traveler and the wandering tribes of red-men. There might have been seen the raw-boned Hoosier bound for the lead mines, yellow-breeched Sucker with his boat-shaped “prairie schooner,” with four, five or six yoke of oxen; the tramping hunter, the Pottawatomie, the cunning Winnebago, or the treacherous Sioux ; all these were welcomed under the hospitable roof of the white-haired pioneer, whom the Indians called Na-chusa —the white-haired—and were made to keep the peace with one another about the friendly fireside of him whom both the red and the white man loved and respected.

Early in the spring of 1833 the Winnebago Indians became restive, and many families again abandoned the homes to which they had so recently returned. Father Dixon's old counselor could not talk so assuring of his own tribe as in 1832. He frankly admitted the trouble that was likely to follow, and faithfully said that the temper of his people was too uncertain for assured peace. The peaceful family in the old log house was broken up, and mother Dixon, with the children, went to Peoria county, and remained there until the war-cloud passed over. The last of the Indians left in 1830. During the Black Hawk war Father Dixon had the contract for supplying the army with beef from the time the Wisconsin river was crossed until the final battle of the Bad Axe river. His place on the march was in th*c rear of the army, and many times he was left so far behind as to be out of supporting distance. It so happened on the march, that at one time midnight was passed before he came to camp. He was hailed by the sentinel with the snap of the lock of the gun in the sentinel's hands and the words: “Who comes there?” Father Dixon replied: •* Major of the Steer Battalion.” The soldier gave the order: “Major of the Steer Battalion, inarch in.” This sally of wit on both sides was the foundation of Father Dixon’s military title. Another time he had been off the trail hunting one of his beeves, and on again returning to the trail he suddenly found himself face to face with two Indians, who were as much astonished at the meeting as he was. It was no time for ceremony. All were armed ; Father Dixon lowered his gun and, walking about five rods, gave his hand to the nearest savage, saluting him in Winnebago. The Indian replied in Winnebago. Father Dixon and both the Indians were alike overjoyed at this unexpected good fortune— Father Dixon, that he was permitted to save his scalp for another day; the Indians, that they had found some one understanding their own language, under whose influence they could safely be introduced to Gen. Atkinson, for whom they had important dispatches. Their life was endangered to be seen by a soldier, and they felt their peril and were in serious embarrassment about how to approach the army.

The Black Hawk Canoe.—On the surrender of Black Hawk at the battle of Bad Axe his canoe was captured and afterward broken into pieces and carried off as relics. One fragment of black walnut timber fell into the hands of Mr. Geo. J. Anderson, of Dixon, who worked it into three walking-sticks, and on the occasion of an old settlers’ reunion at Dixon, one, which had been mounted with a golden head, was publicly presented to Col. John Dement as a memento of his conflict in battle with the brave warrior during the Black Hawk war. The presentation was made by Dr. Oliver Everett, of Dixon. It was a complete surprise to Col. Dement, and awakened emotions through vivid recollections of the scenes of early military life. Mr. Anderson holds in possession one of the three canes, for which ho has refused the liberal sum of ten dollars, although it is unfinished and unmounted with gold or silver.


Peace and quiet were soon restored at Dixon's Ferry, and there were signs of returning travel and consequent prosperity. The first notion store was opened in 1833, in the block-house which stood 011 the north side of the river, by a Mr. Martin, “ where,” says a pioneer writer, “the prime necessaries of life were sold ; such as pipes, tobacco, tea, coffee and sugar were sold to meet the wants of advancing civilization. Life’s luxuries,—shoes, boots and clothes,—were not yet so imperative.”

In the winter of 1833 and 1834 a school was opened in the home partly built by Ogee and finished by Mr. Dixon. This was the first house erected at the Ferry, and this the first school opened in the bounds of Lee county. The pioneer writer, in the History of Dixon, says of this school: “ Unpretentiously it was the pioneer of the more costly school edifices of our town. Its teacher and only one of its scholars survive to live in memory of its feeble infancy. There are structures where better facilities can be had for a sound education, but none are found where a more genuine good will prevails than existed in that old log house.”

Mr. John Dixon having secured under the preemption laws the northeast quarter of section 5, township 21, range 9 east, of 4th principal meridian, he laid out the first plat of the present city of Dixon as early as 1834 or 1835; a Mr. Bennett, from Galena, making the survey. The second house built at Dixon’s Ferry was on the south side of the river, and was built by James Dixon, back of where the Exchange building now stands. It was a log cabin about sixteen feet square, with a small u lean-to ” built against the east side of the house used as the village post-office, where Mr. John Dixon distributed the mail to his neighbors. It is stated by old citizens that this house and the old block-house on the north side of the river disappeared about 1855. The foundation of the latter has just been exposed by the rushing of high waters in the Rock river at this writing, April 1881. After the close of the war the Indians lingered in the vicinity of Lee county until 1836, when the last wandering tribes of the red-men disappeared.

John K. Robinson, who came to Dixon’s Ferry in May 1832, and made his home with Mr. J. Dixon, and who now resides at Mendota, this state, writes : u In 1833, the last week of December, Zachariah Malugin, with myself as his only assistant, built the first house i?i Lee county, outside of Dixon, at the grove that still bears his name. There was no other settlement made in Lee county that year. A few months later the families of Gilmore and Christance came to Malugin’s Grove in the spring of 1835.

In 1833 and 1834 a settlement began in the southern part of the county, in what is now known as East Grove township. Of this neighborhood were Joseph Smith, H. W. Bogardus, Charles Falvey, and F. Anderson, who settled in that early day, built their cabins, and commenced opening up farms for their future homes.

About this time improvements were opened at Sugar Grove, now in Palmyra township, in the northwest part of the county, where, in April 1834, Isaac Morgan and his sons, Harvey and John, commenced the first improvements in that part of the county, and they were joined by a number of families the autumn of the same year, among whom may be mentioned Mr. Wright, Mr. Tomlin, Capt. Oliver Hubbard, and John H. Page. In 1834 Stephen Fellows, with a family of eight, Michael, Simon, Samuel, William, Alfred, George, Albion, and Stephen. Absalom Fender, with a large family, came in 1835, and also W. W. Bethea. To these were soon added C. B. Anthana, Anson Thummel, Geo. L. Herrick, Jack Keplinger, Enoch and Noah Thomas with their father, Nathan Morehouse, two brothers, Sandy and Elkanah Bush, and Martin Kichardson. These families, with others who are worthy of note, but whose names will appear in the chapter on Palmyra, soon attracted attention to the fertile lands and beautiful groves of the northwest neighborhood, and others followed soon to swell the number of the new settlement.

In May, 1834, Adolphus Bliss commenced a settlement at Inlet Grove, to which was added that summer or autumn Ozra Wright and two or three others. About this time Paw Paw Grove attracted the attention of Charles Morgan, J. Alcott and David A. Town, first settlers in Wyoming township. Mr. Harris, the father of Benjamin Harris, who came with his father and brother and a large train of relatives, settled at this grove. These were followed by a Mr. Gillett and Levi Kelso, Esq., who settled at the north side of the grove. During this time, when settlements were springing up like magic in different parts of the county, the settlement at Dixon’s Ferry was by no means neglected, but it being the center of attraction of a large scope of country, because of the United States mail and store supplies reached at this place, there were additions made to the community. In the summer of 1834 a Mr. Bush, brother-in-law of Judge Logan, lately deceased in Chicago, opened a farm below Dixon on the north side of the river, now owned by J. T. Lawrence. The same summer John K. Robinson, now of Mendota, opened a farm on the north side of the river two miles below Dixon, and was joined .afterward by two sons of John Dixon. This farm has been since known as the Graham farm. Probably the third house erected on the south side of the river in Dixon was by Judge Wilkinson, on the corner of Water and Galena streets, and was built near the time James P. Dixon erected his house, mentioned above. Judge Wilkinson purchased the Kirkpatrick place.

In Dixon, as in all places of central interest, the spirit of competition was early manifested. The future of the locality seemed to be impressed upon the minds of some of the most enterprising citizens, and they began to cast about to best establish themselves for the incoming tide. Mr. Bush, below Dixon, established a ferry across the river opposite his farm. A Mr. Kirkpatrick, who settled one and a quarter miles below Dixon, attempted to start a town on his premises called Burlington, but stakes and a euphonious name will not build a city any more than an act of congress, recognizing the Rock river as a navigable stream, will send the great steamers up her channel without legislating a greater supply of water to float the craft with her cargo; so the enterprise, laudable as it may have been, failed, as did also the ferries above mentioned.

“In the autumn of 1834,” says Mr. J. K. Robinson, “Mr. Hollingshead made arrangements for the erection of a log house southeast of Grand Detour, which was built in January 1835.” Mr. Hollingshead, not finding the country congenial to his tastes, returned to Kentucky. Cyrus Chamberlin, Esq., who came to this vicinity in 1835, purchased this farm, on which he lived, occupying the position of county commissioner for a number of years until his death, which he met in a ripe old age.

In the winter of 1834 Grand Detour was taken by Leonard Andruss and W. A. House, where for many years the former ran a plow factory in connection with Mr. Deere, now of Moline.

In 1835 Judge Wikinson built a saw-mill at the foot of Peoria street. Mr. Talmage, and other mechanics from Buffalo, New York, came to Dixon to perform the work. It seems that this mill, however, was run but a short time by Messrs. Huff Thompson, and converted into a distillery and vinegar factory. Tins was the first saw-mill in the bounds of Lee county, and it is to be regretted that it so soon met a sad fate. In the same year Smith Gilbraith also bought in Dixon, and figured largely in the public affairs of the town until his death.

In the spring of this year, 1835, Mr. Joseph Crawford arrived in Dixon, where he still resides, having served as first surveyor in Ogle county, which then embraced Lee, and afterward was first surveyor in Lee county. Mr. Crawford cultivated a farm near the Grand Detour. The Messrs. Cutshaws arrived in Dixon the same year, and were Dixon's first, carpenters. During the previous year, 1834, the township of Dixon was surveyed by the government, although the citizens were not prepared to effect an organization for some years later. About this time, as before stated, Dixon’s Ferry was surveyed and platted for the first, time, and will be more particularly noted in the chapter on the city of Dixon. In prospect of the growing town, and for the accommodation of the traveling public, the first house built by Ogee and Mr. Dixon was converted into a tavern in 1835, and in the early part of 1830 Messrs. Chapman and Hamilton opened a store in the “block” part of this building. Dixon could now boast of a post-office, store, and a house of public entertainment. It was about this time that Mr. John Dixon removed to his farm, which was situated a little southeast of where the Northwestern depot now stands. During 1835 Mr. Hamilton, above mentioned, erected the first frame house built in the town. This residence stood opposite the house of James P. Dixon.

Other improvements in the vicinity of Dixon were made as early as l835. Dr. Forest, from Kentucky, opened the Woodford farm. George A. Martin commenced improvements on the Truman farm. Mr. E. W. Covell was building up on the north side of the river, and Caleb Talmage was improving a farm about one mile south of Dixon. Dr. Forest had erected a log house on the corner of Water and Ottawa streets, and John Wilson had erected a blacksmith shop on Main street. On September 3, 1830, Dr. Oliver Everett came to Dixon, where he still resides as one of the oldest citizens of the city.”

About this time, Mr. Badger, then an aged gentleman, located with several sons near the present city of Amboy, and was soon followed by Benjamin Wasson, L. C. Sawyer, Asa Searls, Joseph Doane, / and John Dexter. The same year Mr. Wily settled in Franklin Grove, and became one of the contestants of an early claim trouble, which was adjusted by arbitration, Mr. John Dixon and two others serving as arbitrators in the case.

Other families were being added to the little settlements begun in other parts of the county. John Gilmore settled in Brooklyn township, and R. Town, B. Harris, and J. Alcott in Wyoming. In the autumn of 1836 the village then consisted of the “old mansion,” the original home of Mr. John Dixon; James P. Dixon’s house before described ; a small frame building opposite Mr. James Dixon’s, built by Mr. Hamilton the previous year; also on the opposite side of the street from this, and a little east, stood a small building which had been erected and occupied by John Wilson, an old bachelor, who occupied a small addition to the smith shop as his residence. In 1837 the latter was finished above, floor laid, and walls plastered, after which it was occupied as a court- house. The first court of Ogle county, which at that time embraced Lee, was held in this building. It was afterward occupied by the engineer corps of internal improvements.

In the winter of 1836 and 1837 Peter McKinney and H. Thompson opened a new hotel, called the Western Hotel, which is now the northern part of the Huntley House. These gentlemen had charge at the same time of the “Tavern” in Dixon's original log house.

In the month of December of this year the original county of Ogle was organized, then including the present territory of Leo county. Referring to the poll list, there were but two hundred votes cast, although it was claimed to be a hotly contested election; and all legal voters of six months residence were entitled to a vote. Up to 1836 the wandering tribes of Indians still lingered in the vicinity of Lee county, but during this year they bid adieu to their former hunting grounds and the graves of their fathers, and turning westward they sought a retreat from the advancing civilization of the white man, beyond the surging waters of the Mississippi. Their removal gave assurance of safety to the homes and families of the pioneers. This change was the signal for the advance of the pioneer corps from Kentucky and Tennesee, who laid off claims by driving stakes, turning a furrow, or beginning a cabin house. By the autumn of 1837 the claims covered all the prairie lands skirting the timber. The holders of this land secured their title to the same from the government under the preemption laws. These claims had to be respected, as the pioneer settlements were a “law unto themselves,” in mutually protecting each others’ interests. The writer has been told of a stranger coining forward to bid in lands that had been covered with a previous claim, when a number of pioneers tied him to a tree and leveled their rifles at him, when he recalled his bid, and on being released he withdrew, leaving the claimants to secure their lands from the government without further competition.

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