One of the most prominent of Pekin’s community leaders in the earliest years of its existence as a pioneer settlement was Joshua Carmen Morgan (1804-1849), whose name appears repeatedly in the early records of Pekin’s history. He was born 15 July 1804 in Xenia, Ohio, eldest son of Isaac and Margaret (Carmen) Morgan, who were natives of Virginia and Kentucky, respectively.
Turning to William H. Bates’ first-ever history of Pekin (which was included in the 1871 Sellers & Bates Pekin City Directory), we find the several notices regarding Joshua C. Morgan, all of them relating significant facts in Pekin’s early history.
First, on page 12 Bates informs that Morgan held most Tazewell County offices from 1831 to 1836:
“During the time intervening between the removal of the County Seat from Mackinaw to Pekin in 1831 and its removal from Pekin to Tremont in 1836, the offices of Circuit Clerk, County Clerk, Recorder, and Master in Chancery were held by Joshua C. Morgan, who was also post-master. He lived with his wife and four children, a brother and a young lady, and transacted the business of all his offices, in two rooms of the house now occupied by Dr. W. S. Maus. His house was also a great resort for travelers, and our informant says: ‘I have spent the evening at his house when the entire court and bar were there with many others.’”
While we can be grateful that Bates provided us with this description of Morgan and his important role in Pekin’s and Tazewell County’s early days, nevertheless there is a problem with his statement that Morgan’s house was “now” (i.e. in 1870-71) occupied by Dr. W. S. Maus. On page 46 of the same directory, Bates says Dr. W. S. Maus then resided in a home at the northeast corner of Logan St. and Park Ave., a very unlikely location for the home of one of Pekin’s earliest residents during the 1830s. However, Bates also mentions on page 46 that Dr. J.S. Maus then resided at the southwest corner of Elizabeth and Capitol, a far more probable site for Morgan’s home.
The unnamed informant’s recollection of seeing the entire court and bar being entertained in Morgan’s home means that the notable visitors to his house would have included men such as David Davis, John T. Stewart, and Samuel Treat, and later Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln.
The very next paragraph of Bates’ history of Pekin, also on page 12 of the 1871 city directory, named J. C. Morgan among the settlers who had arrived in Pekin prior to 1831 and who had survived the “Deep Snow” of 1830. In addition to this information from Bates’ account, federal land records show that Morgan obtained letters patent for grants of land in Tazewell County on 15 Oct. 1834, 22 Oct. 1835, and 1 Nov. 1839.
At the bottom of page 12, Bates devotes a paragraph to the Black Hawk War of 1832. He does not mention, however, that Joshua C. Morgan himself served in the Illinois Militia during the Black Hawk War. The Illinois Secretary of State’s Illinois Veterans Index says Morgan served in the 5th Regiment of Whiteside’s Brigade, with the rank of Quartermaster, having entered the service at Dixon’s Ferry in what is now Lee County.
On page 13, Bates devotes a paragraph to the terrible cholera outbreak of July 1834 that carried away many of the pioneers not only of Pekin but other parts of Tazewell County:
“With the opening of July, 1834, Pekin was visited by the Asiatic Cholera, and for a time the village was enveloped in a pall of gloom, sorrow and despondency. Quite a number of prominent (sic) citizens, among whom we find the names of Mr. Smith, Mrs. Cauldron, Thomas Snell, Dr. Perry, Mrs. Perry, Mrs. J. C. Morgan, and many others, fell victims ere the terrible malady took its departure.”
Charles C. Chapman’s 1879 Tazewell County history, page 566, relates these same facts in very similar wording (showing that Bates’ account was Chapman’s source).
Mrs. J. C. Morgan was Almeda (Moore) Morgan, who had borne Joshua two daughters, Julia and Caroline, and two sons, Isaac and Frank. Joshua remained a widower for less than a year, for Tazewell County marriage records show that he remarried on 23 April 1835 to Elizabeth Green Shoemaker, who bore him five sons and two daughters, Alphonso, Jerome, Spencer, Charles, Sidney, Florence, and an unnamed daughter who died in infancy.
On 2 July 1835, the residents of Pekin voted to incorporate as a Town, which gave Pekin to right to govern itself through an elected Board of Trustees. This event, however, is not mentioned in Bates’ history of Pekin. As we have previously related, for some reason the incorporation vote was not legally recorded. (Morgan, as we have seen, was then the Recorder of Deeds.) That omission made it necessary for Pekin’s officials to ask the Illinois General Assembly to retroactively legalize the incorporation of the Town of Pekin, which the General Assembly did by a special act passed on 19 Jan. 1837.
Be that as it may, on page 13 of the 1871 directory Bates tells us the results of Pekin’s first Town election:
“‘July 9th, 1835, agreeable to notice given according to law, in the Court House, in the Town of Pekin, Tazewell County, Illinois, for the purpose of electing Five Resident Freeholders of the Town of Pekin, as Trustees of the same, who shall hold their office for one year and until others are chosen and qualified.’ The vote given was for D[avid] Mark, 24; D[avid] Bailey, 24; Samuel Wilson 17; J. C. Morgan, 22; S[amuel] Pillsbury, 24, and S. Field, 12. The five gentlemen first mentioned were elected, and the members were qualified before Alden Hull, a Justice of the Peace. On the 11th of the same month, the Board of Trustees was organized, J. C. Morgan being elected President, and Benjamin Kellogg, Jr., Clerk.”
Probably the most important act of Morgan’s administration as Pekin’s first Town Board President was the removal of the County Seat from Pekin to Tremont. The primary reason for the relocation of the County Seat was the then-prevailing opinion in the General Assembly that a County Seat ought to be geographically central within a county’s borders. Tazewell County was much larger when first erected in Jan. 1827, but by 1835 the county was much smaller due to portions of Tazewell County being reassigned to newly erected counties. Another consideration was that Pekin in the 1830s was something of a swampy place and (especially after the 1834 cholera outbreak) was regarded as sickly.
Bates tells the story of the removal of the County Seat to Tremont on page 14, and concludes his account with:
“The last meeting of the first Town Board was held on the 27th of June, 1836, at which meeting Joshua C. Morgan having removed the courts to Tremont, resigned, and Samuel Pillsbury presided.”
After that, Morgan no longer appears in Bates’ narrative of Pekin history. Although he is known to have acquired additional land in Tazewell County in late 1839, at some point after that he must have joined his parents and other relatives in Lee County, Illinois. He died in Palmyra in that county on 12 July 1849 and was buried in Prairieville Cemetery near Prairieville in Lee County. His widow Elizabeth later moved to Seward, Nebraska, where she died on 20 Oct. 1900 at age 85. She is buried in Clarinda Cemetery, Clarinda, Iowa.
This is a reprint of a “From the Local History Room” column that first appeared in April 2013, before the launch of this weblog.
Pieces from Creve Coeur’s past
By Jared Olar
Among the books in the Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room collection are a few histories of local communities in or near Tazewell County. Of that sort of publication, one recent addition to our collection is Vivian Higdon’s 116-page “Pieces From Our Past: Creve Coeur 1680-1998,” a gift to the library from Tyler Chasco. This week we’ll look back at Creve Coeur’s past with the help of Higdon’s book.
As noted in this column previously, Creve Coeur is best known for its ties to Fort Crevecoeur, which was built by French explorer Rene Robert Chevalier de La Salle in January 1680. Consequently, Creve Coeur can boast a history much longer than any other Tazewell County community.
That’s not to say that the modern Village of Creve Coeur has an unbroken history tracing back to 1680, of course. It was not until May 5, 1921, that the community voted to incorporate as the Village of “Crevecoeur.” Later, as Higdon explains, Mayor Carroll Patten in 1960 petitioned to have the official spelling of the village changed to “Creve Coeur,” because he mistakenly believed “Crevecoeur” was a misspelling.
The village’s name was chosen because it included the site that traditionally was believed to be where La Salle’s stockade fort had briefly stood. Others doubt they had correctly identified the fort’s location, and Dan Sheen of Peoria in 1919 offered compelling arguments that the correct spot was a site in what is today East Peoria. Despite the contending theories of historians and archaeologists, the story of Fort Crevecoeur is integrally connected with Creve Coeur’s history and heritage, which is commemorated through Fort Crevecoeur Park and, in the past, at the events held there each year.
Prior to the incorporation of Crevecoeur, the community was known as Wesley City, an unincorporated settlement on the Illinois River which was first platted in 1836. An echo of the name of Wesley City lingers on in the name of Creve Coeur’s Wesley Road that tracks the riverfront. With the shifting of the Illinois River over the years, however, most of the streets of the original Wesley City are today submerged.
Wesley City had grown up near the site of an old French trading post which was established perhaps as early as 1775, nearly a century after La Salle’s ephemeral fort. Among the French Catholic fur traders who lived and worked there were Toussant Tromley and Louis Buisson (or Besaw), “both of whom were well-known to some of the pioneers” of Tazewell County, according to Charles C. Chapman’s 1879 history of the county.
The trading post at Wesley City, located about three miles south of the Bob Michel Bridge, carried on a prosperous business with the Native Americans and white settlers until Pekin and Peoria established themselves, after which the old fur trade dwindled away. Also called “Opa Post” or Trading House, the log building was the home over the years to several French families, some of whom took Native American wives. When the State of Illinois expelled all the Indians after the 1832 Black Hawk War, some of these intermarried French-Indian families left Tazewell County and accompanied their Native American kin to reservations in Kansas.
In the meantime, a Methodist preacher named Phillips and a few other settlers built a grist and sawmill near the trading post, which led to the founding of the community that they named Wesley City, after the Methodist leader John Wesley. Around that same time, the Rusche family arrived in Illinois from Alsace-Lorraine and settled in Wesley City. Over the generations, the Rusches had a prominent role in the development of their community, and their place in the history of Wesley City/Creve Coeur is commemorated with the naming of Rusche Lane.
We have previously recalled the life of Pottawatomi leader Shabbona (c.1775-1859), who is mentioned in early Pekin historical accounts as briefly encamping with his family and a band of Pottawatomi at the site of Pekin circa 1830, pitching his wigwams just to the south of Jonathan Tharp’s cabin at the foot of Broadway.
As noted in an earlier “From the History Room” post, Shabbona (whose name is also spelled Shaubena and Shabonee, etc.) was prominent not only in the early history of Pekin and Tazewell County but also played a significant role in the wider history of Illinois, the Midwest and the U.S. At the time that Jonathan Tharp settled at the future site of Pekin in 1824, Shabbona’s camp was in the vicinity of Starved Rock, but Pekin pioneer historian William H. Bates indicates that around 1830 Shabbona and his family had set up a small village of Pottawatomi just south of Tharp’s cabin, between McLean Street and Broadway. But not much later, during the Black Hawk War of 1832 Shabbona and his family were camped in northern Illinois.
Though he fought against the U.S. alongside Tecumseh during the War of 1812, after Tecumeh’s defeat and death, Shabbona spent the rest of his life striving to remain at peace with his white neighbors, and during the Black Hawk War of 1832 he not only counseled the Pottawatomi not to support Black Hawk, but he aided the Illinois militia forces as a scout and on May 15 he and his son Pypegee and his nephew Pyps made a desperate early morning ride across northern Illinois to warn settlers on the prairie that Black Hawk’s war parties were on their way.
Shabbona’s ride is recounted by Nehemiah Matson in chapter 10 of his 1878 book “Memories of Shaubena,” based in part on Matson’s personal interviews of Shabbona. Matson writes,
“The first house Shaubena came to was squire Dimmick’s, who lived at Dimmick’s Grove, near the present site of La Moille. On notifying Dimmick of his danger, he in reply said, ‘he would stay until his corn was planted,’ saying, ‘he left the year before, and it proved a false alarm, and he believed it would be so this time.’ To this statement Shaubena replied, ‘If you will remain at home, send off your squaw and papooses, or they will be murdered before the rising of to-morrow’s sun!’ Shaubena had now mounted his pony, and on leaving, raised his hand high above his head, and in a loud voice exclaimed, ‘Auhaw Puckegee’ (You must leave!); and again his pony was on a gallop to notify others. Shaubena’s last remark caused Dimmick to change his mind, consequently he put his family into a wagon, and within one hour left his claim, never to return to it again.”
In this way, Shabbona saved the lives not only of the Dimmicks, but also the families of Chamberlin, Smith, Epperson, Moseley, Musgrave, Doolittle, and others. His brave and noble effort is the subject of a ballad written in 1927 by Thomas C. MacMillan of LaGrange, Illinois, entitled, “A Flag Creek Ballad: The Pottawatomies’ Last Camp and Shabbona’s Ride,” or “Shabbona’s Ride” for short.
“They told of brave Shabbona’s daring ride / When he warned the pioneers
Of Chief Black Hawk’s plans / With his hostile clans,
To ravage the wide frontiers.
“How he spurred by day, and sped in the dark. / On prairie, past treacherous swamp,
Where lurked the grim bear, / Near the fox’s lair,
And the ravening wolf-pack’s camp. . . .
“May the story of this bold soul survive / In the annals of our state,
Place Shabbona’s name / On its roll of fame
With the brave, and true, and great!”
As related at this weblog previously, after the Black Hawk War the State of Illinois resolved to clear the state of its remaining Native Americans – but for his friendship and help during the war, Shabbona and his family were granted a small reservation at Shabbona’s Grove. Even so, Shabbona at first wished to be with his people on their reservation in Western Kansas. That, however, was not to be, for the aid that Shabbona, Pypegee, and Pyps provided to white settlers in 1832 had made them enemies among other Indian tribes. As Matson relates:
“Shaubena’s band located on lands assigned them by the Government in Western Kansas, and here the old chief intended to end his days, but circumstances caused him to do otherwise. Soon after the band went West, the Sacs and Foxes were moved from Iowa to this country, and located in a village about fifty miles from Shaubena’s. Neopope, the principal chief of Black Hawk’s band, had frequently been heard to say that he would kill Shaubena, also his son and nephew, for notifying the settlers of their danger, and fighting against them in the late war. Shaubena had been warned of these threats, but he did not believe that Neopope would harm him.
“In the fall of 1837, Shaubena, with his two sons and nephew, accompanied by five others, went on a buffalo hunt about one hundred miles from home, where they expected to remain for some time. Neopope thinking this a good time to take his revenge, raised a war party and followed them. During the dead hour of the night, when all were asleep, this war party attacked the camp, killing Pypegee and Pyps, and wounding another hunter who was overtaken in his flight and slain. Shaubena, his son Smoke, with four other hunters, escaped from camp, but Neopope was on their trail and followed them almost to their home. After traveling over hundred miles on foot without gun or blanket, and without tasting food, the fugitives reached home on the third day. Shaubena, knowing that he would be killed if he remained in Kansas, left it immediately, and with his family returned to his reservation in De Kalb county.”
They remained on their Illinois reservation for the next 12 years. However, while visiting his kin in Western Kansas in 1849, his reservation was seized and declared forfeited. Upon his return in 1851, he found that he and his family were homeless.
George Armstrong of Morris, Illinois, former sheriff of Ottawa, promised him, “While I have a bed and home you shall share them with me.” The people of Ottawa then bought him some land on the south bank of the Illinois River about two miles upriver from Seneca, where he lived until his death on 17 July 1859.
Regarding the genealogy of Shabbona and his family, Matson says in the first chapter of his book:
“Shaubena, according to his statement, was born in the year 1775 or 1776, at an Indian village on the Kankakee river, now in Will county. His father was of the Ottawa tribe, and came from Michigan with Pontiac, about the year 1766, being one of the small band of followers who fled from the country after the defeat of that noted chief.”
Other sources state that Shabbona’s father Opawana was Chief Pontiac’s nephew. (Allan W. Eckert’s “A Sorrow in Our Heart: The Life of Tecumseh,” page 373, says Opawana fought beside Pontiac at the Siege of Detroit in 1763.) Continuing, Matson writes:
“Shaubena, in his youth, married a daughter of a Pottawatomie chief named Spotka, who had a village on the Illinois, a short distance above the mouth of Fox river. At the death of this chief, which occurred a few years afterwards, Shaubena succeeded him as head chief of the band.”
The number and identity of Shabbona’s wives is uncertain. Matson lists three wives: 1) an unnamed daughter of Spotka, 2) Mi-o-mex Ze-be-qua, and 3) Pok-a-no-ka. However, cemetery records and other sources show that Mi-o-mex was the same person as Pok-a-noka, while Shabbona’s last wife was a young Kickapoo named Nebebaquah (by whom Shabbona had a son named Obenesse; she died in 1878). In the court case “27 Ind. Cl. Comm. 187,” Sho-bon-ier (Shabbona) is referred to as the son-in-law of Topenebe (i.e. Daniel Topinabe Bourassa), a Pottawatomi chief in Michigan near Chicago. Topinabe’s daughter was called Mimikwe – cf. Mi-o-mex. She would then be distinct from Shabbona’s unnamed first wife, daughter of Spotka.
Later in his book, in chapter 20, Matson provides the following account of Shabbona’s family:
“Shaubena, in his youth, married a daughter of a Pottawatomie chief, and by her he had two children. A few years afterward, this squaw and children died, and were buried at the grove; a pen of small timbers marked their resting place. In later years, Shaubena was in the habit of taking visitors to the graveyard and pointing out the graves of loved ones, while tears would trickle down his tawny cheeks.
“After the death of his first squaw, Shaubena married another, named Mi-o-mex Ze-be-qua, and by her he had a number of children. In accordance with Indian customs, some years afterward he married another squaw, and for a time lived with both of them. The latter was a young squaw of great personal attractions, named Pok-a-no-ka, and by her he had a large family of children. The old and young squaw did not live together in perfect harmony, and their quarrels would sometimes lead to open hostility. On account of these disagreements, Pok-a-no-ka in later years left the family and lived with her people in Kansas.
“The oldest son of Shaubena, whose Indian name was Pypegee, but known everywhere among the early settlers as Bill Shaubena, was a fine intelligent youth, spoke English quite well, and, like his father, frequently visited the cabins of settlers. He tried to court a daughter of one of the early settlers, and it appeared to have been the height of his ambition (as he expressed it) to marry a white squaw. In the fall of 1837, Pypegee was killed, in Kansas, by a party of Sacs and Foxes, on account of his fidelity to the whites, as previously stated.
“Shaubena’s second son, named Smoke, possessed a fine commanding figure, very handsome, and a great favorite among the whites. In 1847, Smoke, while returning from Kansas, where he had been on a visit, was taken sick in Iowa and died among the whites, and by them received a Christian burial.
“The youngest son, Ma-mas, became dissipated, and is now living with his band in Kansas.
“Shaubena had many daughters, two of whom were young and unmarried at the time of his death. One of his daughters married a Frenchman named Beaubien, who lived near Chicago, but Ze-be-qua was his beautiful daughter who at one time was the belle of the settlement.
“Shaubena’s family, while at the grove, consisted of twenty-five or thirty persons, including his two squaws, children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, etc. He would frequently take the little ones to church with him on the Sabbath day, and take much pains to keep them quiet during the service.
“While at the grove, Shaubena had a niece living with him, a young squaw of about fifteen years of age and of prepossessing appearance, but, like other daughters of Eve, was not free from faults. For some indiscretion she was punished in accordance with Indian custom, which the following story, told by an early settler, Isaac Morse, will illustrate. One morning, Mr. Morse, on going into the timber to work, noticed a high pen built of poles around a large burr oak tree, in which was this Indian maiden. He asked her many questions, to which she made no reply, appearing sad and ashamed of her situation. At noon he offered her some of his lunch, but she would neither eat nor speak. Next morning, finding her still in the pen, Mr. Morse again tried to converse with her, and commenced pulling down the pen from around her. She then said that she was a bad Indian, consequently must stay there another day, and commenced repairing the pen around herself.
“Shaubena had a grandson named Smoke, a bright, intelligent lad, about thirteen years of age at the time of his death, and to him was bequeathed the chieftainship of the tribe. Smoke went to Kansas after his grandfather’s death, and is said to be chief of the band.
“Shaubena has a nephew, a half-breed, named David K. Foster, who received a college education, and is now a Methodist preacher at Bradley, in Allegan county, Michigan. Also, another nephew, a half-breed and a college graduate, by the name of Col. Joseph N. Bourassa, now living at Silver Lake, Kansas. From each of these men I have received many letters, and to them I am indebted for many items given in this work.
“A few years before Shaubena’s death, he gave all his family Christian names, in addition to their Indian names, assuming the name of Benjamin himself.”
Following his death on 17 July 1859, Shabbona was a given a grand public funeral on 19 July and then buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Morris, Illinois. On 30 Nov. 1864, his widow Mi-o-mex and his granddaughter Mary Oquaka, age 4, accidentally drowned together in Mazon Creek in Grundy County. They were buried by his side.
Efforts to raise money for a grave monument were interrupted by the Civil War, so it was not until 1903 that a large inscribed boulder was placed at their final resting place. According to the 1886 compilation “Abraham Lincoln’s Vocations,” some years later Shabbona’s daughter and her son, John Shabbona, came from the reservation at Mayetta, Kansas, and visited Shabbona’s Grove, viewing photographs and documents pertaining to Shabbona in DeKalb and Chicago. In 1903, when Shabbona’s monument was laid, John Shabbona again returned to Chicago along with members of several of the expelled tribes of Illinois for a special Indian encampment recognizing the original peoples of Chicago (see “City Indian: Native American Activism in Chicago, 1893-1934,” 2015, by Rosalyn R. LaPier, David R. M. Beck, page 64).
This is a revised version of a “From the Local History Room” column that first appeared in May 2014 before the launch of this weblog, republished here as a part of our Illinois Bicentennial Series on early Illinois history.
Abraham Lincoln slept, stood and walked here
By Jared Olar
The Union barely had time to celebrate Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865, before the nation was horrified by the assassination of its Commander-in-Chief, President Abraham Lincoln, at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C., on April 14 – a mere five days later.
One of Pekin’s pioneers was in Washington, D.C., during those days of sorrow: Seth Kinman, who formerly operated a hotel in downtown Pekin, claimed to have been an eye-witness of the president’s assassination, and contemporary newspaper accounts say Kinman took part in Lincoln’s funeral cortege.
As a result of his assassination, Lincoln came to be revered as a martyr for the cause of preserving the Union and for the abolitionist cause. The people of Illinois in particular have held his memory in the highest esteem ever since. It is in the state capital, Springfield, where he is entombed, and in towns and cities throughout the state Illinoisans are still proud to point to buildings and locations where Lincoln once lived, worked, or stayed. This is especially true of communities in central Illinois.
One of our county’s Lincoln sites unfortunately was destroyed by fire in May 2014 – the approximately 180-year-old Lilly Inn in eastern Tazewell County, one of the county’s oldest buildings, was a local link to President Abraham Lincoln, who stayed at the inn while riding the circuit as an attorney in central Illinois from the 1830s to the 1850s.
The Lilly Inn was, of course, far from the only site in our area with ties to Lincoln. For example, his work as a lawyer sometimes brought to him Mason County, where he is known to have stayed in the home of his friend Samuel C. Conwell on Washington Street in Havana. Conwell’s home, which he built in the early 1850s, is still standing.
In Tazewell County, Washington also boasts of its connection with Lincoln. At the old Washington Hotel, which stood where a BP parking lot is today, Lincoln made a stump speech during a stop on the way to Galesburg to debate Stephen A. Douglas. Some years ago, Washington placed five Bronze footprints at locations in Washington where Lincoln is known to have stopped in his travels.
Lincoln’s work brought him to Tazewell County two or three times a year, and he represented clients at the county’s courthouses in Tremont and Pekin. Naturally this work produced numerous Tazewell County legal documents bearing Lincoln’s signature or handwriting or name, and most of these precious mementos of Lincoln’s life, while remaining the possession of Tazewell County, are now in the keeping of the state of Illinois in Springfield.
One of Lincoln’s more important cases was Bailey vs. Cromwell (1841), in which Lincoln appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court in Springfield and won the freedom of Nance Legins-Costley (“Black Nance”) of Pekin, a slave of Pekin pioneer co-founder Nathan Cromwell. Lincoln successfully argued that Costley and her children had to be recognized as free under Illinois law since there was no legal documentation establishing that they had ever been the property of the principals involved in the case, or that Costley had ever agreed to a temporary contract of indentured servitude.
When he came to Pekin for court, Lincoln often stayed at the old Tazewell House hotel, which stood from 1849 to 1904 at the corner of Court and Front streets (Gene Miller Park today). After the Tazewell House hotel was demolished, its threshold was preserved at the Tazewell County Courthouse, and was inscribed with words commemorating the fact that “Hereon trod the great Abraham Lincoln – Stephen A. Douglas – John A. Logan – Robert G. Ingersoll – David Davis – Edward D. Baker and others.”
Tazewell House presumably was the Pekin hotel in the lobby of which, according to Tom Wheeler’s article, “The First Wired President,” published on a New York Times blog in May 2012, Lincoln first saw a telegraph key in 1857.
Lincoln’s legal career created another tangible link between Lincoln and Tazewell County – Lincoln sometimes would purchase his clients’ land and hold it for them in his name, later returning it when cases were concluded. That’s how Lincoln came to own several parcels of land in Tazewell, including the land at the intersection of Allentown and Springfield roads (where Morton has held the annual Punkin Chuckin event).
This 2008 Pekin Daily Times informational graphic chart describes 22 sites in Pekin that have direct or indirect links to President Abraham Lincoln. The list was researched and compiled by Dale Kuntz.
In 2008, retired teacher Dale Kuntz of Pekin, who served on the Tazewell County Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission preparing for the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth in 1809, proposed that the city of Pekin create a historical “Lincoln Walk” in downtown Pekin to help visitors and residents learn more about Lincoln’s ties to the city.
Kuntz’s historical research had identified 22 sites along the proposed route that can be shown to have direct and indirect Lincoln connections, starting at the bank of the Illinois River where Lincoln had landed in 1832 when his oar broke while he returned from the Black Hawk War, then heading along Front Street south to Cynthiana, then east to Broadway, out to Sixth Street, then back west along Court Street to end at Gene Miller Park, the former site of the Tazewell House hotel.
As previously noted in this column, the city of Pekin was established at the site of a Native American village of about 100 wigwams located on Gravel Ridge along the eastern shore of Pekin Lake (near the location of the Pekin Boat Club). Pekin’s first European settler, Jonathan Tharp, built his cabin in 1824 to the south of that village, at or very near the spot where the former Franklin School stands today, at the foot of Broadway.
The Indians who lived along Gravel Ridge in the 1820s and 1830s were primarily Pottawatomi, but much of Tazewell County also was home to Kickapoo bands. In a letter dated in May 1812, Illinois Territorial Gov. Ninian Edwards wrote, “At Little Makina, a river on the south side of [the] Illinois, five leagues below Peoria, is a band, consisting of Kickapoos, Chippeways, Ottaways and Pottowottamies. They are called warriors, and their head man is Lebourse or Sulky. Their number is sixty men, all desperate fellows and great plunderers.”
While Sulky was a Kickapoo, his other name “Lebourse” is French, for he was, like many Native Americans in Illinois during that period, partly of French descent, even as his own band was made up of warriors from three other tribes besides the Kickapoo. The name of the river that Gov. Edwards said was the location of Sulky’s village – “Little Makina” – might suggest that they were living on the shores of the Mackinaw River south of Pekin. However, the distance “five leagues below Peoria” indicates a spot about 17 miles downriver from Peoria Lake, which is the river distance between Peoria and Pekin, so “Little Makina” must refer to a stream or creek that flows into the Illinois (perhaps Lick Creek?). That would mean Sulky and his band were living at the future site of Pekin around May of 1812.
Another Kickapoo chief in Tazewell County, mentioned by Gov. Edwards in a letter written July 21, 1812, was Pemwotam (or Pemwatome), whose village was at the northeast end of Peoria Lake in Fondulac Township, to the north of the McClugage Bridge. On his raid of the Indian villages of Peoria Lake in Oct. 1812, Gov. Edwards destroyed a Kickapoo village that is said to have been Pemwotam’s. In his 1879 “History of Tazewell County,” Charles C. Chapman gives a somewhat lengthy account of Edwards’ raid, describing the destruction of the Kickapoo village in Fondulac Township and of Pottawatomi chief Black Partridge’s village in Woodford County.
Chapman mentions another Kickapoo chief of Tazewell County named “Old Machina,” whose name is also spelled “Mashenaw.” Machina’s village was near Mackinaw, and Chapman related the pioneers’ recollections of Chief Machina’s displeasure at the new wave of settlers who arrived in the 1820s.
Another Native American name associated with early Pekin history is that of a Pottawatomi leader named Shabbona, whose name is also spelled Shaubena and Shabonee. He was prominent in the early history of Pekin and Tazewell County and played a significant role in the wider history of Illinois, the Midwest and the U.S. At the time that Jonathan Tharp settled at the future site of Pekin, Shabbona’s camp was in the vicinity of Starved Rock, but Pekin pioneer historian William H. Bates indicates that around 1830 Shabbona and his family had set up a small village of Pottawatomi just south of Tharp’s cabin, between McLean Street and Broadway. But not much later, during the Black Hawk War of 1832 Shabbona and his family were camped in northern Illinois.
Pottawatomi leader Shabbona, shown in a daguerreotype printed in John Leonard Conger’s “History of the Illinois River Valley,” 1932.
A member of the Ottawa tribe, Shabbona was born about 1775, but his place of birth is uncertain. In his 1879 “History of Tazewell County,” Charles C. Chapman said Shabbona “was born at an Indian village on the Kankakee river, now in Will county,” but others say he was born in Ontario, Canada, or on the Maumee River in Ohio.
Shabbona was the grandnephew of the great Ottawa Chief Pontiac, and his father had fought alongside Pontiac in Pontiac’s War of 1763. His name comes from the Ottawa word zhaabne (related to the Pottawatomi word zhabné) which means “hardy” or “indomitable,” and interpreted by white settlers as “built like a bear.” The Ottawa originally lived in Ontario, Canada, but were driven out by the Iroquois, moving to Michigan where they joined with the Ojibwa and Pottawatomi, and afterwards migrating with their kinsmen the Pottawatomi to Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Around 1800, Shabbona married Pokanoka (Coconako), daughter of a Pottawatomi chief in Illinois named Spotka (Hanokula), and upon the death of his wife’s father he succeeded him as leader of Spotka’s Pottawatomi band.
Chapman devoted a few pages of his 1879 history to the life of Shabbona, whom he praised as “The kind and generous Shaubena” and “that true and generous hearted chief.” In his account of the Black Hawk War of 1832, Chapman wrote:
“At the time the war broke out he, with his band of Pottawatomies, had their wigwams and camps on the Illinois within the present limits of the city of Pekin. Shaubena was a friend of the white man, and living in this county during those perilous times, and known by so many of the early settlers, that we think he deserves more than a passing mention. . . . While young he was made chief of the band, and went to Shaubena Grove (now in De Kalb county), where they were found in the early settlement of that section. In the war of 1812 Shaubena, with his warriors, joined Tecumseh, was aid to that great chief, and stood by his side when he fell at the battle of the Thames.”
Shabbona’s experiences in the War of 1812 convinced him of the futility of armed resistance to white encroachment, and for the rest of his life he strove to live in peace with the white settlers who were flooding into Illinois. Many Native Americans in Illinois called him “the white man’s friend” – and they didn’t mean it as a compliment.
Together with a fellow Pottawatomi leader named Wabaunsee, Shabbona kept the Pottawatomi out of the Black Hawk War, despite two attempts of Sauk war leader Black Hawk to persuade him to join the fight. “On one of these occasions,” Chapman wrote, “when Black Hawk was trying to induce him and his band to join them and together make war upon the whites, when with their forces combined they would be an army that would outnumber the trees in the forest, Shaubena wisely replied ‘Aye; but the army of the palefaces would outnumber the leaves upon the trees in the forest.’ While Black Hawk was a prisoner at Jefferson Barracks he said, had it not been for Shaubena the whole Pottawatomie nation would have joined his standard, and he could have continued the war for years.”
This artist’s depiction of Black Hawk was published in From John Leonard Conger’s “History of the Illinois River Valley,” 1932.
The Black Hawk War was the last, desperate attempt of Native Americans living in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin to resist their displacement before the wave of encroaching white settlers. The war is named for a Sauk warrior named Black Hawk (Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak, 1767-1838), who had refused to accept the treaties with the U.S. by which the Sauk people had agreed to move from Illinois and Wisconsin to Iowa. Black Hawk repeatedly led hunting parties from Iowa into Illinois, and in 1832 when he was ordered to cease his “incursions,” he attempted to forge a confederacy of tribes to resist white settlement. But by 1832 it was already too late for the Indians of Illinois – though the war opened in April 1832 with a victory for Black Hawk caused by American incompetence at Stillman’s Run (in which Pekin co-founder Isaac Perkins was killed), Black Hawk’s efforts were futile and the war was over in months, having been nothing more than an occasion for whites and Indians to commit some brutal massacres. Black Hawk retreated to Prairie du Chien in Wisconsin, where he surrendered on Aug. 27, 1832, and bringing Illinois’ leaders to the conclusion that all remaining Native Americans should be expelled from the state. How differently things may have turned out for the Indians of Illinois if Black Hawk had taken an approach more like that of Shabbona and of his fellow Sauk chief Keokuk.
Chapman commented, “To Shaubena many of the early settlers of this county owe the preservation of their lives, for he was ever on the alert to save the whites.” But, Chapman said, “by saving the lives of the whites (he) endangered his own, for the Sacs and Foxes threatened to kill him, and made two attempts to execute his threats. They killed Pypeogee, his son, and Pyps, his nephew, and hunted him down as though he was a wild beast.” After the surrender of Black Hawk, for their alliance with the U.S. Shabbona and Wabaunsee were rejected by their people, who instead chose as their leader Kaltoo, also called Ogh-och-pees, eldest son of the late Pottawatomi war chief Senachwine (Sen-noge-wone).
After the Black Hawk War, new treaties were negotiated so Illinois would be cleared of all Native American tribes. The Pottawatomi of Indiana and Illinois, including those who had lived at Pekin, were deported to Nebraska and Kansas, and, and we noted before, the agonizing march of the Indiana bands is remembered as the Pottawatomi Trail of Death. Shabbona, however, was allowed to have a reservation of two sections of land at Shabbona’s Grove. But “by leaving it and going west for a short time the Government declared the reservation forfeited, and sold it the same time as other vacant land. Shaubena finding on his return his possessions gone, was very sad and broken down in spirit, and left the grove for ever,” Chapman wrote.
The people of the town of Ottawa then bought him some land near Seneca in Grundy County, where Shabbona stayed until his death on July 17, 1859. “He was buried with great pomp in the cemetery at Morris,” Chapman wrote. His widow Pokanoka drowned in Mazen Creek, Grundy County, on Nov. 30, 1864, and she was laid by his side. Efforts to raise money for a grave monument were interrupted by the Civil War, so it was not until 1903 that a large inscribed boulder was placed at their final resting place. According to the 1886 compilation “Abraham Lincoln’s Vocations,” some years later Shabbona’s daughter and her son, John Shabbona, came from the reservation at Mayetta, Kansas, and visited Shabbona’s Grove, viewing photographs and documents pertaining to Shabbona in DeKalb and Chicago. In 1903, when Shabbona’s monument was laid, John Shabbona again returned to Chicago along with members of several of the expelled tribes of Illinois for a special Indian encampment recognizing the original peoples of Chicago (see “City Indian: Native American Activism in Chicago, 1893-1934,” 2015, by Rosalyn R. LaPier, David R. M. Beck, page 64).
As an epilogue, in 2001 the Department of Interior’s Solicitor wrote an opinion that Shabbona’s Grove was never lawfully forfeited and therefore is a reservation owned by the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. The case is still pending, however.
For the first 19 years of its existence, from 1830 to 1849, Pekin was a pioneer town, with much of the character that is associated with the Wild West rather than a modern semi-rural Midwestern city. A Native American village even thrived near the new town until 1833, first located on the ridge above Pekin Lake and later on the south shores of Worley Lake.
However, as Pekin’s pioneer historian William H. Bates tells in the 1870-71 Pekin City Directory, it was in that first period of Pekin’s history that the crucial groundwork was laid for Pekin’s civic development.
Thus, Bates tells us that Pekin’s nascent economy got a boost in Pekin’s first year with the opening of two stores – one belonging to Absalom Dillon and the other to David Bailey – and a hotel or tavern operated by Pekin co-founder Gideon Hawley. Religion in the new town also made its debut in 1830, with the construction of Rev. Joseph Mitchell’s Methodist Church on Elizabeth Street between Third and Capitol.
The following year, Thomas Snell built the town’s first school house, located on Second Street between Elizabeth and St. Mary. Thomas’ son John was the school teacher. The same year, Thomas built Pekin’s first warehouse.
The most significant of 1831’s milestones for Pekin was the transfer of the county seat from Mackinaw to Pekin. When the Illinois General Assembly created Tazewell County in early 1827, Mackinaw was designated as the county seat because it was near what was then the geographical center of Tazewell County. But Pekin’s location as a port on the Illinois River meant Pekin was less remote than Mackinaw. That greater accessibility gave Pekin better prospects.
Another thing that may have played a role in the decision to move the county seat was a memorable extreme weather event: the incredible “Deep Snow” of Dec. 1830, a snowfall and sudden freeze that had turned life on the Illinois prairie into a desperate fight for survival. Pekin was closer to other, larger towns and settlements than Mackinaw, and therefore safer for settlers.
With such considerations in mind, the county’s officials decided to relocate to Pekin even though Illinois law still said Mackinaw was the county seat.
Pekin remained the de facto county seat for the next five years. During that time, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Samuel D. Lockwood presided over the Circuit Court in Tazewell County. Court at first took place in the Snell school house, but later would convene in the Pekin home of Joshua C. Morgan, who simultaneously held the offices of Circuit Clerk, County Clerk, Recorder of Deeds, Master in Chancery, and Postmaster. That house was later the residence of Pekin pioneer doctor William S. Maus.
The Black Hawk War, Illinois’ last conflict with its Native American population, broke out in 1832. The war lasted only a few months. It began disastrously for the Illinois militia with the debacle at Stillman’s Run in northern Illinois, where the untrained and undisciplined militia recruits quickly succumbed to panic and fled, leaving behind the few brave men in their number to be butchered and scalped. As Bates sardonically put it, “The balance of the command, so history hath it, saved their scalps by doing some exceedingly rapid marching to Dixon on the Rock River.” Among the fallen was Pekin co-founder MajorIsaac Perkins.
The town of Pekin itself was not directly affected by the fighting, although the townsfolk did build a stockade around the Snell school house as a precaution, renaming it Fort Doolittle. The fort never had to be used, however, which was a very good thing, because, as Bates commented, it “was so constructed, that in case of a siege, the occupants would have been entirely destitute of water.”
Despite the war’s inauspicious start, the Illinois troops quickly gained the upper hand and Sauk war leader Black Hawk (Makataimeshekiakiak) was forced to give up the struggle. The outcome of the war was the greatest calamity for the remaining Indian tribes of Illinois, who beginning in 1833 were almost to a man forcibly relocated to reservations west of the Mississippi – including the Pottawatomi and Kickapoo bands who lived in Tazewell County. Tazewell County’s Pottawatomi were soon joined by the harried remnants of their kin from Indiana, whom state militia soldiers forced to march west from their homes in Indiana in 1838 along a route that is remembered as the Pottawatomi Trail of Death.
In July 1834, an epidemic of Asiatic cholera struck Pekin, causing the deaths of several pioneers, including Thomas Snell and the wife of Joshua C. Morgan. The victims were hastily interred in the old Tharp Burying Ground, the former site of which is now the parking lot of the Pekin Schnucks grocery store.
Given the challenges and upheavals of the first five years of Pekin’s existence, it should not be surprisingly to learn that there are no surviving records of the town’s elections prior to 1835. On July 9, 1835, the townsfolk elected five men as Trustees: David Mark, David Bailey, Samuel Wilson, Joshua C. Morgan, and Samuel Pillsbury. Two days later, Pekin’s newly elected Board of Trustees organized itself, choosing Morgan as its president and Benjamin Kellogg Jr. as clerk.
One of the first acts of the new board was passing an ordinance on Aug. 1, 1835, specifying the town’s limits. At the time, Pekin’s boundaries extended from the west bank of the Illinois River in Peoria County eastward along a line that is today represented by Dirksen Court, reaching out as far as 11th Street, then straight south along to 11th to Broadway, then westward along Broadway back across the Illinois River to Peoria County. It is noteworthy that land in Peoria County has been included within the limits of Pekin ever since 1835.
This detail from an 1864 map of Pekin has been cropped to match the town limits of Pekin as they stood in 1835 — extending from the west bank of the Illinois River eastward to what is today 11th Street, and from Broadway north to what is today Dirksen Court. Many of the 1864 streets did not yet exist in 1835, of course.
Pekin’s first Board of Trustees continued to meet until June 27, 1836, when the county seat was formally relocated by Illinois law to Tremont, where a new court house had been built. Pekin then elected a new board on Aug. 8, 1836, the members of which were Samuel Pillsbury, Spencer Field, Jacob Eamon, John King, and David Mark. King was elected board president and Kellogg was again elected clerk.
Board members served one-year terms in those days, so Pekin held elections every year. Getting enough board members together for a quorum was evidently a real challenge. The board addressed that problem by passing of an ordinance on Jan. 4, 1838, stipulating that any board member who was more than 30 minutes late for a board meeting would forfeit $1 of his pay.
Another notable act of Pekin’s board around that time was a resolution of Dec. 29, 1840, adopting “an eagle of a quarter of a dollar of the new coinage” as the official seal of the town of Pekin.
On Dec. 29, 1840, the Pekin Board of Trustees officially adopted an American eagle like the one shown on this mid-19th century quarter as the seal of the Town of Pekin.
Throughout these years, Pekin continued to see economic developments. The first bank in town, a branch of the Bank of Illinois, was established in 1839 or 1840 at the rear of a store on Second Street. There was not yet a bridge across the Illinois River, but ferries were licensed to operate. Alcohol distilleries also were established in the area that is still Pekin’s industrial district, and around those years Benjamin Kellog also built the first steam mill near the river between Margaret and Anna Eliza streets.
In spite of a scarlet fever epidemic in winter of 1843-44, these economic developments were signs of Pekin’s continuing growth and progress, notwithstanding the loss of the county seat to Tremont. The pioneer town was poised to attain the status and rank of a city.
Pekin officially has been organized as a city since 1849. That year was important in Pekin’s history for other reasons, as the 1949 “Pekin Centenary,” page 9, explains:
“The year 1849, just 100 years ago, was the turning point in Pekin’s development. The Smith Wagon company, an enterprise which was then to become one of the city’s key enterprises and builders came into being at 301 Margaret street that year, and Jonathan Haines invented an improved mechanical reaper and built a reaper factory at Broadway and Ninth streets, the forerunner of the great steel and farm implement factories of this area.”
We have already told the story of the Smith Wagon company, but what can we learn about Jonathan Haines and his reaper factory?
Quite a lot, as it happens. But to tell the tale properly, first we must turn to Charles Bent’s 1877 “History of Whiteside county, Illinois,” in which a biographical sketch of Jonathan Haines’ life was published on page 302. Haines is mentioned many times in Bent’s history, but for our purposes we need only notice his biography, which reads as follows:
“JONATHAN HAINES was a native of Butler county, Ohio, and came to Illinois in 1826, first settling in Tazewell county. In 1835 he came to Whiteside county on his way to Galena, and being so well pleased with the location of what is now known as Jacobstown, and the water privileges there, made a claim and erected a cabin. His purpose in going to Galena was to use his steam ice boat, which he had recently patented, in navigating the Upper Mississippi during the winter, feeling sanguine of carrying the United States mail, and keeping up trade with St. Paul, and the upper forts. He made a few trips to Dubuque. In the winter of 1835, Felix French lived in the cabin, and took care of the mill claim, Mr. J. T. Atkinson boarding with him during the time while he was making rails and cutting logs on his claim near by. Mr. Haines returned in 1836, and built a saw mill on his claim, on the opposite side of the creek from the present mill. This mill, however, was washed away by a freshet after one log had been sawed, and in 1837 he erected another one on the same site, to which he afterwards added a pair of burrs for grinding grain. In 1847 he invented the ‘Illinois Harvester,’ and put up machine shops at Unionville, where he manufactured them until his removal to Tazewell county, in 1849. These Harvesters have since been somewhat improved, and are now extensively used in all the Western States. Union Grove Precinct was named by Mr. Haines, J. T. Atkinson, and Henry Boyer, in the spring of 1836. Mr. Haines was quite a prominent man in Whiteside county at an early day, and held several positions of public trust. He was a useful citizen, a kind and generous neighbor, and endeared himself to all who became acquainted with his many excellent traits of character. He died in Pekin, Tazewell county, February 22, 1868, of apoplexy.”
As one of the earliest pioneers of Tazewell County in 1826, it’s no surprise that Jonathan Haines is also mentioned in Charles C. Chapman’s 1879 “History of Tazewell County.” Somewhat disappointingly, though, he is mentioned in that volume only once, on page 261, where he is said to have seen action but escaped with his scalp still in his possession at the military debacle of Stillman’s Run at the start of the Black Hawk War in 1832. An online memorial at Find-A-Grave shows a photograph of his grave and grave markers in Lakeside Cemetery, Pekin, and the inscription on his weather-worn gravestone says he had died “in the 60th year of age” and identifies him as “PVT CO 6 MTD REG (IVC) BLACK HAWK WAR.” An early photographic portrait of Jonathan Haines has also been uploaded to his Find-A-Grave memorial by Sue Durst. The memorial also says Jonathan was born Oct. 3, 1808, in Ohio, one of the many sons and daughters of Joseph and Sarah (Long) Haines. Jonathan’s oldest brother was none other than William Haines (1801-1834), one of the four co-founders of Pekin. Jonathan’s wife was named Sarah Hinsey (1814-1886), and they had at least two children, a daughter Rose Frances (1836-1917) and a son Murray J. (1844-1884)
Jonathan Haines (1808-1868) IMAGE FROM SUE DURST VIA FIND-A-GRAVE
Despite the absence of any biographical information in Chapman’s 1879 history that might have told of what Haines did while living and working in Tazewell County from 1849 to his death in 1868, details from the story of Haines’ life and labor in Pekin can be gleaned from city directories, maps, and atlases in the Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room. An account of Haines’ business dealings in both Whiteside and Tazewell counties may also be found in Sam Moore’s article, “Acme Hay Harvester Company: Giant Among Farm Equipment Manufacturers Nearly Lost to Farm History,” published May 2010 in the online magazine “Farm Collector.”
It was in 1847 that Jonathan obtained a federal patent for his hay harvesting machine, which he called the Illinois Harvester. As mentioned above, at first Jonathan manufactured his invention in Whiteside County, but in 1849 he returned to Pekin and built a factory there.
The 1861 Root’s City Directory of Pekin, pages 30 and 79, shows that by that year Jonathan was in a partnership with his brother Ansel. The directory identifies their firm as “HAINES A. & J., manufacturers of Haines’s Illinois Harvester, agricultural implements, steam engines, and mill work, se. cor. Fleet and Campbell.” The names of Fleet and Campbell streets are no more, but the streets are still there – they are Broadway and Ninth. The Haines’ factory was located at a spot just across the street from James Field today, catty corner to the former West Campus. It’s a subdivision known as (naturally) the Haines Addition, where Benson’s Maytag and various residences are today. Jonathan and Ansel had built homes in Colts Addition, just south of St. Joseph Catholic Church and School. The land of Jonathan and Ansel is today bisected by Haines Avenue. (The 1861 city director shows that another Haines brother, Pekin attorney James Haines, also lived in Colts Addition at this time, and James’ house, which may have belonged to Jonathan before his death in 1868, is still there today.)
An 1864 wall map of Tazewell County published by “Surveyor & Map Publisher” of Dundee, Ill., shows “HAINS ADD” (Haines Addition) just east of Colts Addition, and in Haines Addition are shown five buildings identified as “Machin Works” (machine works), at the southeast corner of Fleet and Campbell.
This detail from an 1864 wall plat map of Pekin shows Jonathan Haines’ factory (“Machin Works”) in Haines Addition, where Haines’ patented invention, the Illinois Harvester, was manufactured. The area is across the street from James Field and catty-corner to the former location of West Campus.
The 1872 map of Pekin in the 1873 “Atlas Map of Tazewell County” shows “Haine’s Manufactory” (sic) in “HAINE’S ADDn” (sic) consisting of five buildings. The property of Jonathan and Ansel in Colts Addition is also marked on the map as “J. HAINES” and “A. HAINES,” although Jonathan had died four years earlier (the “J. Haines” property by then was certainly the home of their brother James Haines). The map indicates that Jonathan Haines’ factory was still operating even after his death. Sam Moore’s “Farm Collector” article explains what became of the Haines factory, telling of a man named:
“. . . Andrew J. Hodges, who also invented a header harvester during the early 1870s, and started the Hodges Header Co. in Pekin to build the thing. At that point, events are murky, but based on one account it appears that the Haines and the Hodges firms were combined, retaining the Hodges Header Co. name.”
Much of that murkiness can be dispelled with the help of the Pekin city directories from that time. The Haines and Hodges firms certainly were combined, probably after Jonathan’s death. In the 1870, 1876, and 1887 Pekin city directories, we find the “A. J. Hodges & Co. Haines Harvester” factory located at the same spot as the old Haines Harvester factory, at the corner of Fleet and Campbell. However, the Hodges firm does not appear in any later Pekin city directories. It was in 1890, according to Moore’ article, that Acme Hay Harvester Co. bought the Hodges firm, and thus we find in the 1891 Tazewell County atlas plat that the old Haines factory had become the “Acme Harvester Works” at the site of the old Haines factory. (Moore does not say whether or not Wile E. Coyote ever bought one of Acme’s harvesters.)
Acme does not appear in the 1893 Pekin City Directory nor in any later Pekin directory. From Moore, we learn that Acme moved to Peoria and built a large factory complex there, so it must have been about 1892 that Acme closed the Pekin factory and moved all operations to Peoria. During its heyday, Acme was one of the chief competitors of International Harvester, but finally lost its fight with IH and went out of business in 1917. Thus ended a tale that began with Jonathan Haines’ 1847 patent for the Illinois Harvester.
The Black Hawk War of 1832 is a significant moment in Illinois history, for it was the last time white settlers faced any kind of sustained, violent resistance from Native American tribes in Illinois.
The surrender of Black Hawk at Prairie du Chien on Aug. 27, 1832, not only brought an end to hostilities in the brief war – it marked the end of all Native American habitation in the state. Over the next few years, the Illinois government systematically cleared the state of American Indians, deporting them to reservations far to the west of the Mississippi. With the removal of the native tribes, Illinois saw a new influx of white settlers to the northern and western parts of the state.
As we’ve noted several times in this column space, both native inhabitants and white settlers in Tazewell County – such as Pekin co-founder Isaac Perkins, as we recalled last week – were among those caught up in the events of the Black Hawk War.
Two brigades of the Illinois Militia were organized in Tazewell County. One of them, under the command of Capt. John Giles Adams and Gen. Samuel Whiteside, commander of the Illinois Militia, was organized at Pekin. Shabbona, leader of the Pottawatomi who dwelt along Gravel Ridge at Pekin, is also remembered for the aid he gave to white settlers in central Illinois during the war. Believing violent resistance to be futile, Shabbona and his people refused to join Black Hawk’s uprising, and Shabbona earned the enmity of Black Hawk’s Sac and Fox Indians by riding across the countryside to warn white settlers of their danger.
As this column has previously noted, there are a number of publications and resources in the Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room collection that provide information about the Black Hawk War and how it affected the early history of Tazewell County and Pekin. A recent addition to the Local History Room collection conveniently presents various historical materials on that subject. Entitled, “Tazewell County in the Black Hawk War 1832,” this publication is a 155-page comb-bound book that collects together essays, maps, and illustrations from older books now in the public domain and previously published on the Internet.
The first 21 pages provide muster rolls of the Tazewell County brigades, biographies of Adams and Whiteside, and information about the debacle at Stillman’s Run. Then follow 33 pages of historical essays on the Black Hawk War by Dr. James Lewis, Ph.D., and two pages of information about the Black Hawk State Historic Site in Rock Island. The final section of the book, covering 99 pages, is a reprint of the 1833 “Autobiography of Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak, or Black Hawk” along with J. B. Patterson’s 1882 “Life, Death and Burial of the Old Chief, Together With A History of the Black Hawk War.”
This artist’s depiction of Black Hawk was published in From John Leonard Conger’s “History of the Illinois River Valley,” 1932.
Twice before in this column space, we have spotlighted the life and death of one of Pekin’s co-founders, Major Isaac Perkins, who was killed in the battle known as Stillman’s Run on May 14, 1832, during the Black Hawk War. We first looked at Perkins in a column published on Aug. 3, 2013, and again examined Stillman’s Run in a column published last summer, on July 25, 2015.
This is the signature of Major Isaac Perkins on the pages of minutes from the 1829-1830 planning meetings for Pekin’s founding. Perkins was one of the four original platholders of Pekin. IMAGE COURTESY OF TAZEWELL COUNTY COURTS ADMINISTRATOR COURTNEY EETEN
Our first look at Major Isaac Perkins presented some of the findings of the genealogical research of the family of Cathie Butler Pipkins of Olympia, Wash., who is a descendant of Perkins’ youngest son James. (Incidentally, Pipkins is the sister of Tim Butler, Illinois House Representative for the 87th district, which includes the part of Tazewell County where their ancestors Isaac and Jane Barker Perkins were pioneer settlers.)
But despite great progress in reconstructing Isaac Perkins’ life and ancestry, one question remained unanswered: Why did the standard histories of Tazewell County and Pekin refer to him as “Major” Isaac Perkins when he had only the rank of “Private” during his Illinois State Militia service in the Black Hawk War?
Pipkins recently emailed the Pekin Public Library with the news, “Mystery on the ‘Major’ title solved!”
In her email, she wrote, “According to the index card catalog at the Illinois State Archives in Springfield, he was commissioned as Major of the Illinois Militia, Peoria County Battalion, 22 Sept. 1826. Source: Illinois Executive Record, 1818-1832, Vol. 1, p.138. Also, in the Governor’s Correspondence, Vol. 2, 27 July 1827, there’s a record of Isaac Perkins as Major commanding the Peoria odd battalion.”
Prior to Pipkins’ discovery, the best guess is that Perkins had held the rank of Major during earlier militia service. That’s exactly what the information from the State Archives shows.
Pipkins also found some records that document another detail of her ancestor’s life mentioned in old Tazewell County histories – namely, that Perkins had served as Tazewell County Recorder of Deeds.
“Also, in the index file is a record of his nomination as recorder for Tazewell Co. He was commissioned as Tazewell Co. Recorder on 14 Feb. 1827. Source: Illinois Executive Record, 1818-1832, Vol. 1, p.151. His resignation as Tazewell Recorder is noted in the Senate Journal, 1828-29, p.165, but no date is given on the index card of which I have a copy.”
Another fascinating record of Isaac Perkins’ family is the obituary of his daughter Elizabeth “Lizzie” Perkins Uhl High, who died April 15, 1898 in Peoria and is buried in Springdale Cemetery. Her obituary was published on two successive days, in the April 16-17, 1898, issues of The Peoria Herald. The obituaries help shed further light on the experiences of Tazewell County’s pioneers. Here is the second one, headlined, “Funeral of Mrs. High – First White Child of Tazewell County is No More.”
“The funeral services of Mrs. Elizabeth High, wife of J. R. High, and the first white child of Tazewell county, was held yesterday afternoon at the home, 302 Hayward street, Rev. L. Kirtley, of the First Baptist church, officiating. The services were largely attended by many of the real old settlers of this city and from around her old home at Circleville, Tazewell county. She was the first female white child born in Tazewell. Her father, Major Perkins, helped drive out the Indians during the Black Hawk war. [Note: Though Perkins was killed at Stillman’s Run, the result of that war was the clearing of all Native American tribes from Illinois.] She was born between Pekin and Circleville, October 21, 1827, and was married about forty years ago. Her father conducted a relief station at Circleville. The Indians murdered the travelers, but never harmed Major Perkins or his family. Several times little Miss Perkins was stolen from the family, but was never harmed. She was returned in a few days loaded down with beads and presents.”