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l6 73- l8 35 




Professor of History in the Lewis Institute 
of Technology 



All Rights Reserved 

Published October igij 

Composed and Printed By 

The University of Chicago Press 

Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. 


There are many histories of Chicago in existence, yet none of 
them supplies the want which has induced the preparation of the 
present work. It has been written under the conviction that 
there is ample justification for a comprehensive and scholarly 
treatment of the beginnings of Chicago and its place in the evo- 
lution of the old Northwest. I have endeavored to produce a 
readable narrative without in any way trenching upon the prin- 
ciples of sound scholarship. To what extent, if any, I have 
succeeded must be for the reader to judge. I may, however, 
claim the negative virtue of entire freedom from the motives of 
commercial gain and family partisanship, which enter so largely 
into our local historical literature. 

In preparing the work I have made as diligent a study of the 
sources as practicable, at the same time availing myself freely of 
the studies of others in the same field. With one exception 
acknowledgment of my obligations to the latter is made in the 
footnotes. The manuscript of a lecture by the late Professor 
Charles W. Mann on the Fort Dearborn massacre was put at 
my disposal. I have used it as far as it served my purpose 
without attempting to cite it in the footnotes. 

In many places I have broken new ground and I can scarcely 
expect my work to be entirely free from error. I am particularly 
conscious of this in connection with chap, xiii on the Indian 
Trade, a subject to which a volume might well be devoted. In 
controversial matters I have written without fear or favor from 
any source. If in many cases my conclusions seem to differ from 
those of other writers, I can only say that the words of a recent 
historian with reference to history writing in the Middle Ages, 
"Recorded events were accepted without challenge, and the 
sanction of tradition guaranteed the reality of the occurrence," 
apply with almost equal force to much of the literature pertaining 
to early Chicago. 


I desire to express my obligation for courtesies rendered, 
or facilities extended, to the Chicago Historical Society, the 
Wisconsin State Historical Society, the Detroit Public Library, 
the Division of Manuscripts of the Library of Congress, the 
Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the War Department. I am 
indebted also for many favors to Miss Caroline Mcllvaine, 
librarian, and Mr. Marius Dahl, record clerk, of the Chicago 
Historical Society; to Mr. C. M. Burton, of Detroit; to the 
descendants of Nathan Heald, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas McCluer 
and Mrs. Arthur McCluer, of O'Fallon, Mo., Mrs. Lillian Heald 
Richmond and Dr. and Mrs. Ottofy of St. Louis, and Mr. and 
Mrs. Wright Johnson, of Rutherford, N. J. ; and to my wife and 
to my father-in-law, Rev. G. W. Goslin, for unwearied assistance 
in the preparation and revision of the manuscript. Finally I 
wish to record my deep obligation to Dr. Otto L. Schmidt, presi- 
dent of the Illinois State Historical Society, for much sympathetic 
advice and encouragement. 


September, 1913 









VII. NINE YEARS OF GARRISON LIFE . . . . . . . . 153 









APPENDIX I: Journal of Lieutenant James Strode Swearingen . . 373 
APPENDIX II: Sources of Information for the Fort Dearborn Mas- 
sacre 378 

APPENDIX III: Nathan Heald's Journal 402 

APPENDIX IV: Captain Heald's Official Report of the Evacuation of 

Fort Dearborn 406 

APPENDIX V: Darius Heald's Narrative of the Chicago Massacre, 

as Told to Lyman C. Draper in 1868 409 

APPENDIX VI: Lieutenant Helm's Account of the Massacre . . . 415 
APPENDIX VII: Letter of Judge Augustus B. Woodward to Colonel 

Proctor concerning the Survivors of the Chicago Massacre . . 422 
APPENDIX VIII: Muster-Roll of Captain Nathan Heald's Company 

of Infantry at Fort Dearborn 425 

APPENDIX IX: The Fated Company: A Discussion of the Names 

and Fate of the Whites Involved in the Fort Dearborn Massacre 428 


INDEX 459 



The story of Chicago properly begins with an account of the 
city's natural surroundings. For while her citizens have striven 
worthily, during the three-quarters of a century that has passed 
since the birth of the modern city, to achieve greatness for her, 
it is none the less true that Nature has dealt kindly with Chicago, 
and is entitled to share with them the credit for the creation of 
the great metropolis of the present day. If in recent years the 
enterprise of man rather than the generosity of Nature has 
seemed chiefly responsible for the growth of Chicago, in the long 
period which preceded the birth of the modern city such was not 
the case; for whatever importance Chicago then possessed was 
due primarily to the natural advantages of her position. 

Since this volume is to tell the story of early Chicago, con- 
cluding at the point where the life of the modern city begins, it 
is not my purpose to dwell upon the natural advantages which 
today contribute to the city's prosperity. Her central location 
with respect to population, surrounded by hundreds of thousands 
of square miles of country as fair, and supporting a population 
as progressive, as any on the face of the globe; her contiguity 
to the wheat fields of the great West; her situation in the heart 
of the corn belt of the United States; the wealth of coal fields 
and iron mines and forests poured out, as it were, at her feet; 
her unrivaled systems of transportation by lake and by rail; how 
all these factors, reinforced by the daring energy of her citizens, 
have combined to render Chicago the industrial heart of the 
nation is a matter of common knowledge. That in the days 
before the coming of the railroad or the settler, when for hundreds 
of miles in every direction the wilderness, monotonous and un- 
broken, stretched away, inhabited only by the wild beast and 
the wild Indian; when only at infrequent intervals were its 


forest paths or waterways traversed by the fur trader or the 
priest, the representatives of commerce and the Cross, the two 
mightiest forces of the civilization before the advance of which 
the wilderness was to give way; that even in this far-away 
period Nature made of Chicago a place of importance and of 
concourse, the rendezvous of parties bent on peaceful and on 
warlike projects, is not so commonly understood. 

The importance of Chicago in this early period was primarily 
due to the fact of her strategic location, whether for the prosecu- 
tion of war or of commerce, at the head of the Great Lakes 
on one of the principal highways of travel between the two 
greatest interior waterway systems of the continent, those of the 
Great Lakes-St. Lawrence and the Mississippi River. The two 
most important factors in the exploration and settlement of a 
country are the waterways and mountain systems the one an 
assistance, the other an obstacle, to travel. 1 The early English 
colonists in America, settling first in Virginia and Massachusetts 
and gradually spreading out over the Atlantic coastal plain, 
were shut from the interior of the continent by the great wall 
presented by the Allegheny Mountains. The French, securing 
a foothold about the same time at the mouth of the St. Lawrence 
River, found themselves in possession of a highway which 
offered ready access into the interior. The importance of the 
rivers and streams as highways of travel in this early period is 
difficult to realize today. The dense forests which spread over 
the eastern half of the continent were penetrated only by the 
narrow Indian trail or the winding river. The former was pass- 
able only on foot, and even by pack animals but with difficulty. 2 
The latter, however, afforded a ready highway into the interior, 
and the light canoe of the Indian a conveyance admirably 
adapted to the exigencies of river travel. By carrying it over 
the portages separating the headwaters of the great river sys- 
tems the early voyageurs could penetrate into the heart of the 

1 Farrand, Basis of American History, 23. 


Proceeding up the St. Lawrence, the French colonists early 
gained the Great Lakes. Their advance rested here for a time, 
but in the last quarter of the seventeenth century, by a great 
outburst of exploring activity, the upper waters of the Mississippi 
were gained and eagerly followed to their outlet in the Gulf 
of Mexico. Thus New France found a second outlet to the sea, 
and thus, even before the English had crossed the Alleghenies, 
the French had fairly encircled them, and planted themselves 
in the heart of the continent. From the basin of the Great 
Lakes to that of the Mississippi they early made use of five 
principal highways. 3 On each, of course, occurred a portage at 
the point where the transfer from the head of the one system of 
navigation to the other occurred. One of these five highways 
led from the foot of Lake Michigan by way of the Chicago River 
and Portage to and down the Illinois. The Chicago Portage 
thus constituted one of the "keys of the continent," as Hulbert, 
the historian of the portage paths, has so aptly termed them. 4 

The comparatively undeveloped state of the field of American 
historical research is well illustrated by the fact that despite 
the historical importance of the Chicago Portage, no careful 
study of it has ever been made. The student will seek in vain 
for even an adequate description of the physical characteristics 
of the portage. Winsor's description, a paragraph in length, is 
perhaps the best and most authoritative one available. 5 Yet, 
aside from its brevity, neither of the two sources to which he 
makes specific reference can be regarded as reliable authorities 

j Winsor, Narrative and Critical History of America, IV, 224. 
Hulbert, Portage Paths: The Keys of the Continent. 

s "What Herman Moll, the English cartographer, called the 'land carriage of Chekakou' 
is described by James Logan, in a communication which he made in 1718 to the English 
Board of Trade, as running from the lake three leagues up the river, then a half a league 
of carriage, then a mile of water, next a small carry, then two miles to the Illinois, and then 
one hundred and thirty leagues to the Mississippi. But descriptions varied with the 
seasons. It was usually called a carriage of from four to nine miles, according to the stage 
of the water. In dry seasons it was even farther while in wet times it might not 
be more than a mile; and, indeed, when the intervening lands were 'drowned,' it was quite 
possible to pass in a canoe amid the sedges from Lake Michigan to the Des Plaines, and so 
to the Illinois and the Mississippi." Winsor, Mississippi Basin, 24. For similar descrip- 
tions see Hulbert, Portage Paths, 181; Jesuit Relations, LIX, 313-14, note 41. 


upon the Chicago Portage. Moll, the cartographer, notable 
for his credulous temperament, 6 relied for his knowledge of the 
Great Lakes region upon the discredited maps of Lahontan. 7 
James Logan, whose description of the portage is quoted, 8 was 
a reputable official of Pennsylvania, but, in common with the 
seaboard English colonists generally, his knowledge of the 
geography of the interior was extremely hazy. This is suffi- 
ciently shown by the fact that he located La Salle's Fort Miami, 
which had stood during the brief period of its existence at the 
mouth of the St. Joseph River, on the Chicago. 

That there should be confusion and misconception in the 
secondary descriptions of the Chicago Portage is not surprising, 
in view, on the one hand, of the unusual seasonal variations in 
its character, and, on the other, of the dispute which very early 
arose concerning it. None of the other portages between the 
Great Lakes and the Mississippi if indeed any in America 
were subject to such changes as this one. The dispute over its 
character goes back to the beginning of the French exploration 
of this region. When Joliet returned to Canada from his 
famous expedition down the Mississippi in 1673, filled with 
enthusiasm over his discoveries, he gave out a glowing account 
of the country he had visited. In particular he seems to have 
dwelt upon the ease of communication between the Great Lakes 
and the Gulf of Mexico by way of the Chicago and Illinois 
rivers to the Mississippi. Joliet's records were lost, but both 
Frontenac, the governor of New France, and Father Dablon 
have left accounts of his verbal report. 9 Frontenac stated 
that a bark could go from the St. Lawrence to the Gulf of 
Mexico, with only a portage of half a league at Niagara. 
Dablon, who seems to have appreciated the situation more 
intelligently than Frontenac, said that a bark could go from 

4 Winsor, Mississippi Basin, 80, 104, in, 163. 

* Moll's map in his Atlas Minor is simply an English copy of Lahontan's map of 1703. 
For the latter see Lahontan, New Voyages to North America (Thwaites ed.), I, 156. 

8 For the substance of Logan's report see the British Board of Trade report of Septem- 
ber 8, 1721, printed in O'Callaghan, Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State 
of New York, V, 621. This will be cited henceforth as New York Colonial Documents. 

' Winsor, Cartier to Frontenac, 246-47; Jesuit Relations, LVIII, 105. 


Lake Erie to the Gulf if a canal of half a league were cut at the 
Chicago Portage. 

Probably Dablon's report represents more nearly than that 
of Frontenac what Joliet actually said, for it seems unlikely 
that he would ignore utterly the existence of the portage at 
Chicago. Even so, however, his description of the ease of water 
communication between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi 
River was unduly optimistic. Its accuracy was sharply chal- 
lenged by La Salle upon his visit to Chicago several years later. 
Joliet passed through Illinois but once, rather hurriedly, know- 
ing nothing of the country aside from what he learned of it 
on this trip. He was ill-qualified, therefore, to describe accu- 
rately the Illinois-Chicago highway and portage; at the most 
he could describe only the conditions prevailing at the time of 
his hasty passage. La Salle, on the other hand, was operating 
in the Illinois country from 1679 to 1683, seeking to establish a 
colony with its capital at the modern Starved Rock, one hundred 
miles from Chicago. He was greatly interested in developing 
the trade of this region, and, while he looked forward ultimately 
to securing a southern outlet for it, for the present he must find 
such outlet by way of Canada. In the course of his Illinois 
career he passed between his colony and Canada several times, 
and from both necessity and self-interest became thoroughly 
familiar with the routes of communication which could be fol- 
lowed. He himself ordinarily came by the Great Lakes to the 
foot of Lake Michigan and thence by the St. Joseph River and 
portage or the Chicago to the Illinois, but he became convinced 
that it would not be practicable to carry on commerce between 
his Illinois colony and Canada through the upper lakes, and that 
a route by way of the Ohio River and thence to the lower lakes 
and Canada was more feasible. 

In discussing this subject La Salle was led to take issue with 
Joliet as to the feasibility of navigation between Lake Michigan 
and the Illinois, and so to state explicitly what the hindrances 
were. 10 The goods brought to Chicago in barges must be 

10 Margry, Dfcouvertes et ttablissements des Franqais dans I'ouest et dans le sud de 
I'Amfrique septentrionale, II, 81-82. This collection will be cited henceforth as Margry. 


transshipped here in canoes, for, despite Joliet's assertions,, only 
canoes could navigate the Des Plaines for a distance of forty 
leagues. At a later time La Salle reverted to this subject, and 
in this connection gave the first detailed description we have of 
the Chicago Portage." From the lake one passes by a channel 
formed by the junction of several small streams or gullies, and 
navigable about two leagues to the edge of the prairie. Beyond 
this at a distance of a quarter of a league to the westward is a 
little lake a league and a half in length, divided into two parts by 
a beaver dam. From this lake issues a little stream which, 
after twining in and out for half a league across the rushes, falls 
into the Chicago River, which in turn empties into the Illinois. 

The "channel" was the main portion and south branch of 
the modern Chicago River. The lake has long since disappeared 
by reason of the artificial changes brought about by engineers; 
in the early period of white settlement at Chicago it was known 
as Mud Lake. La Salle's "Chicago River," into which Mud 
Lake ordinarily drained, was, of course, the modern Des Plaines. 

Continuing his description of the water route by way of the 
Chicago and Des Plaines, La Salle pointed out that when the 
little lake in the prairie was full, either from great rains in summer 
or from the vernal floods, it discharged also into the "channel" 
leading to Lake Michigan, whose surface was seven feet lower 
than the prairie where Mud Lake lay. The Des Plaines, too, 
in time of spring flood, discharged a part of its waters by way 
of Mud Lake and the channel into Lake Michigan. La Salle 
granted that at this time Joliet's proposed canal of half a league 
across the portage would permit the passage of boats from Lake 
Michigan to the sea. But he denied that this would be possible 
in the summer, for there was then no water in the river as far 
down as his post of St. Louis, the modern Starved Rock, where 
at this season the navigation of the river began. Still other 
obstacles to the feasibility of Joliet's proposed canal were pointed 
out. The action of the waters of Lake Michigan had created a 
sand bank at the mouth of the Chicago River which the force 

Margry, pp. 166 ff. 

of the current of the Des Plaines, when made to discharge into 
the lake, would be unable to clear away. Again, the possibility 
of a boat's stemming the spring floods of the Des Plaines, "much 
stronger than those of the Rhone," was doubtful. But if all 
other obstacles were surmounted, the canal would still have no 
practical value because the navigation of the Des Plaines would 
be possible for but fifteen or twenty days at most, in time of 
spring flood; while the navigation of the Great Lakes was 
rendered impossible by the ice until mid-April, or even later, by 
which time the flood on the Des Plaines had subsided and that 
stream had become unnavigable, even for canoes, except after 
some storm. 

Thus there was initiated by La Salle a dispute over the char- 
acter of the water communication from Lake Michigan to the 
Mississippi by way of the Chicago Portage which has been 
revived in our own day, and in the decision of which property 
interests to the value of hundreds of thousands of dollars are 
involved. 12 Of the essential correctness of La Salle's descrip- 
tion there can be no question. Considering its early date and 
the many cares with which the mind of the busy explorer was 
burdened, it constitutes a significant testimonial to his ability 
and powers of observation. It may well be doubted whether 
any later writer has improved upon if, indeed, any has equaled 
La Salle's description of the Chicago-Des Plaines route. 
From its perusal may be gathered the clue to the fundamental 
defect in the descriptions of the Chicago Portage which modern 
historians have given us. Overlooking the fact that the Des 
Plaines River was subject to fluctuation to an unusual degree, 
they err in assuming that the portage ceased when the Des 
Plaines was reached. The portage was the carriage which must 
be made between the two water systems. Hulbert is quite 
right in saying, as he does, that none of the western portages 
varied more in length than did this one. 13 In fact his words 

" The United States of America vs. The Economy Light and Power Company. The 
evidence taken in this case constitutes by far the most exhaustive study of the character 
and historical use of the Chicago Portage that has ever been made. 

"Hulbert, Portage Paths, 181. 


possess far more significance than the writer himself attaches 
to them; for the length of the carriage that must be made at 
Chicago varied from nothing at all to fifty miles or, at times, to 
even twice this distance. At times there was an actual union 
of the waters flowing into Lake Michigan with those entering 
the Illinois River, permitting the uninterrupted passage of 
boats from the one system to the other. At other times the 
portage which must be made extended from the south branch 
of the Chicago to the mouth of the Vermilion River, some 
fifty miles below the mouth of the Des Plaines. 

It is doubtless true that "truth, crushed to earth, will rise 
again," but the converse proposition of the poet that error dies 
amid its worshipers requires qualification. Certainly in the 
matter under discussion La Salle as early as 1683 dealt the errors 
of Joliet with respect to the Chicago Portage a crushing blow. 
Yet these self-same errors were destined to "rise again," and in 
the early nineteenth century it was again commonly reported 
that a practicable waterway from Lake Michigan to the Missis- 
sippi could be attained by the construction of a canal a few 
miles in length across what for convenience may be termed the 
short Chicago Portage, from the south branch of the Chicago 
River through Mud Lake to the Des Plaines. Even capable 
engineers threw the weight of their opinion in support of this 
fallacy. 14 But the young state of Illinois learned to her cost, in 
the hard school of experience, the truth of La Salle's observations. 
The canal of half a league extended in the making to a hundred 
miles and required for its construction years of time and the 
expenditure of millions of dollars. 

We may now consider the dispute between Joliet and La Salle 
over the character of the Chicago Portage in the light of the 
information afforded by the statements of later writers. It will 
follow from what has already been said that the secondary 
statements, whether of travelers or of gazetteers and other 
compendiums of information, made in the early part of the 
nineteenth century, must be subjected to critical examination. 

E.g., Major Stephen H. Long. For his report see the National Register, III, 


The only way in which this may be done is by a resort to the 
sources; and our conclusions concerning the Chicago-Illinois 
Portage and route must be based upon the testimony of those 
who actually used it, or were familiar with the use made of it by 
others. A study of these sources makes it clear that the Des 
Plaines River was subject to great fluctuation at different seasons, 
or even as between periods of drought and periods of copious 
rainfall, and that the length and character of the portage at any 
given time depended entirely upon the stage of water in the 
Des Plaines. During the brief period of the spring flood boats 
capable of carrying several tons might pass between Lake 
Michigan and the Des Plaines and along the latter stream with- 
out meeting with obstacles other than those incident to the high 
stage of the water. The extreme range of the fluctuation was 
many feet. 15 Its effect upon the character of the Des Plaines 
was to cause it to pass through all the gradations from a raging 
torrent to a stream with no discharge, dry except for the pools 
which marked its course. There were times, then, in connection 
with these fluctuations, when the stream might be navigable 
for canoes, although it would not permit the passage of boats 
of greater draft. 

The duration of the spring flood was put by La Salle at 
fifteen or twenty days. At this time the flood was heavier than 
that of the Rhone, and a portion of it found its way through 
Mud Lake and the south branch of the Chicago River into 
Lake Michigan. The effect of this on the portage, obvious in 
itself, is described in many of the sources. Marquette, who 
was flooded out of his whiter camp on the South Branch in the 
latter part of March, 1675, found no difficulty, aside from the 
obstacles presented by the floating ice, in passing from that 
point down the Des Plaines. 16 He reports the water as being 
twelve feet higher than when he passed through here in the late 

" Schoolcraft estimated its depth in the seasons of periodica ^oods at eight to ten 
feet (Summary Narrative of an Exploratory Expedition to the Sources of the Mississippi River, 
in 1820, 398). See also Marquette's description of the spring flood of 1675, in Jesuit 
Relations, LIX, 181. 

16 Marquette's Journal, Jesuit Relations, LIX, 181. 


summer of 1673. In 1821, in a time of high water, Ebenezer 
Childs passed up the Illinois and Des Plaines rivers to Chicago 
in a small canoe. 17 No month or date is given for this trip, 
but Childs expressly states that there had been heavy rains for 
several days before his arrival at the Des Plaines. He was 
unable to find any signs of a portage between the Des Plaines 
and the Chicago. When he had ascended the former to a point 
where he supposed the portage should begin he left it and taking 
a northeasterly course perceived, after traveling a few miles, 
the current of the Chicago. The whole intervening country 
was inundated, and not less than two feet of water existed all the 
way across the portage. Two years later Keating, the his- 
torian of Major Long's expedition to the source of the St. Peter's 
River, which passed through Chicago in early June, 1823, was 
informed by Lieutenant Hopson, an officer at Fort Dearborn, 
that he had crossed the portage with ease in a boat loaded with 
lead and flour. 18 Of similar purport to the testimony of Childs 
and Hopson is the account given by Gurdon S. Hubbard of his 
first ascent of the Des Plaines with the Illinois "brigade" of the 
American Fur Company in the spring of iSig. 19 The passage 
from Starved Rock up the river to Cache Island against the heavy 
current was difficult and exhausting. From this point, with a 
strong wind blowing from the southwest, sails were hoisted and 
the loaded boats passed rapidly up the Des Plaines and across 
the portage to the Chicago, "regardless of the course of the 

With the subsidence of the spring flood the Des Plaines fell 
to so low a stage as to become unnavigable, even by the small 
boats ordinarily employed by the fur traders and travelers, 
except at such times as the river was raised by rains. Accord- 
ing to La Salle, it was "not even navigable for canoes" except 
after the spring flood, and it would be easier to transport goods 

17 Wisconsin Hist. Colls., IV, 162-63. 

' Keating, Expedition to the Source of St. Peter's River, . ... in the Year 1823, 1, 166. 

" Hubbard, Gurdon Saltonstall, Incidents and Events in the Life of, 60. MS in the 
Chicago Historical Society library. This work will be cited henceforth as Life. 


from Lake Michigan to Fort St. Louis by land with horses, than 
by the use of boats on the river. 20 

This statement of La Salle is corroborated by many other 
observers. St. Cosme's party of Seminary priests which passed 
from Chicago down the Illinois in the early part of November, 
i698, 21 was compelled to portage eight leagues or more 22 along 
the Des Plaines, in addition to the three leagues across from the 
Chicago to that stream, and almost two weeks were consumed 
in passing from Chicago to the mouth of the Des Plaines, a 
distance of about fifty miles. 23 In describing the journey St. 
Cosme states that from Isle la Cache to Monjolly, a space of 
seven leagues, "you must always make a portage, there being 
no water in the river." 

In September, 1721, Father Charlevoix, touring America 
for the purpose of reporting to his king the condition of New 
France, came to the post of St. Joseph. His ultimate destina- 
tion was lower Louisiana; from St. Joseph to the Illinois River 
proper two alternative routes were presented for his considera- 
tion, the one by way of the St. Joseph Portage and down the 
Kankakee River, the other around the southern end of Lake 
Michigan to Chicago and thence down the Des Plaines. His 
first intention was to follow the latter, but this was abandoned 
in favor of the route by the Kankakee, partly because of a storm 
on Lake Michigan, but also for the additional reason that since 
the upper Illinois, the modern Des Plaines, was a mere brook, he 
was told it did not have, at this season, water enough to float a 
canoe. 24 In his passage down the Kankakee the traveler 
observed at the mouth of the Des Plaines a buffalo crossing the 

"Margry, II, 168. 

" Shea, Early Voyages Up and Down the Mississippi, 45 ff 

" The distances given in St. Cosme's detailed account total this amount. La Source's 
general statement is that the party portaged fifteen leagues (ibid., 83), but this, apparently, 
included the distance between the Chicago River and the Des Plaines. 

>J The party left Chicago October 29, and reached the mouth of the Des Plaines 
November n. 

34 Charlevoix, Histoire et description gentrale de la Nouvelle France, avec le journal 
hlstoriQue d'qn voyage fait par ordre dtt roi dans I'Amlrique septenlrionale, VI, 104. 


stream. Although sixty leagues from its source, Charlevoix 
noted that the Des Plaines was still so shallow that the water 
did not rise above the middle of the animal's legs. 25 

A hundred years after Charlevoix's passage down the Illinois, 
in midsummer, 1821, Governor Cass and Henry R. Schoolcraft 
came up that stream in a large canoe en route for Chicago. The 
observant Schoolcraft has left a careful and detailed narrative 
of their experiences, and a description of the Illinois River as 
continued in the Des Plaines. 26 The party was compelled to 
abandon the canoe at Starved Rock, and the remainder of the 
journey to Chicago was made on horseback. The route taken 
was in general along the banks of the river, although the actual 
channel was observed only occasionally. The result of this 
observation was the conclusion that the "long and formidable 
rapids" seen by the travelers completely intercepted navigation 
at this sultry season. This conclusion was further confirmed 
by meeting several traders on the plains who were transporting 
their goods and boats in carts from the Chicago River. They 
thought it practicable to enter the Des Plaines at Mount Joliet, 
thus necessitating a portage of about thirty miles, but School- 
craft in recording this opinion points out that his own party 
had experienced difficulties far below this point. Although 
himself an enthusiast on the subject of the future commercial 
importance of Chicago, and of the utility of a canal connecting 
the Chicago and Illinois rivers, Schoolcraft's experience on this 
journey led him to call attention to the error of those who 
supposed a canal of only eight or ten miles in length would be 
sufficient to provide a navigable highway between Lake Michi- 
gan and the Illinois. This opinion was approved by Thomas 
Tousey of Virginia, another enthusiast on the subject of the 
canal, who explored the route of the Des Plaines on horseback 
in the autumn of 182 2. a? Although the water was uncommonly 

"Op.cit., 118. 

* Schoolcraft, Travels in the Central Portions of the Mississippi Valley, 313 ff. 

17 Schoolcraft, Personal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the Indian Tribes 
on the American Frontiers, 170-80. 


high for the season, Tousey's investigation, while imbuing 
him with a "more exalted" opinion of the country and the pro- 
posed canal communication, convinced him that it would be 
attended with greater expense to open than he had formerly 

The conditions encountered by John Tanner in a journey 
from Chicago down the Illinois River in the year i82o 28 were 
similar to those described by Schoolcraft the following year. 
Tanner was traveling from Mackinac to St. Louis in a birch- 
bark canoe. Some Indians who were accompanying him 
turned back before reaching Chicago, on receiving from others 
whom they met discouraging accounts of the stage of the water 
hi the Illinois. Tanner, however, persevered in his enterprise. 
After a period of illness at Chicago he engaged a Frenchman, 
who had just returned from hauling some boats across the portage, 
to take him across also. The Frenchman agreed to transport 
Tanner sixty miles, and if his horses, which were much worn 
from the previous long journey, could hold out, one hundred and 
twenty miles, the length of the portage at the present stage 
of water. With his canoe in the Frenchman's cart and Tanner 
himself riding a horse belonging to the latter, the overland 
journey began. Before the first sixty-mile stage had been 
completed the Frenchman became ill. He turned back, there- 
fore, and Tanner and his one companion attempted to put their 
canoe in the water and continue their journey. The water was 
so low that the members of the party themselves were compelled 
to walk, the men propelling the canoe by walking, one at the 
bow and the other at the stern. After three miles had been 
laboriously traversed in this fashion a Pottawatomie Indian 
was engaged to take the baggage and Tanner's children on horse- 
back as far as the mouth of the Yellow Ochre River, 29 while 
Tanner and his companion continued to propel the now lightened 

" Narrative of the Captivity and Adventures of John Tanner, 256-59. This work will 
be cited henceforth as Tanner's Narrative. 

" The similarity of names and distance from Chicago render it probable that Tanner 
here refers to the Vermilion River. 


canoe as before. On reaching the Yellow Ochre a sufficient 
depth of water was found to permit the further descent of the 
Illinois in the loaded canoe. 

Perhaps the most interesting account of the passage of the 
portage in the dry season, and in some respects the most detailed, 
is the one contained in the autobiography of Gurdon S. Hub- 
bard. 30 Beginning with 1818, for several years, with a single 
exception, Hubbard accompanied the Illinois "brigade" of the 
American Fur Company on its annual autumnal trip from Macki- 
nac by way of Lake Michigan and the Chicago Portage to the 
lower Illinois River. Only the first crossing of the portage, in 
October, 1818, is described in detail. Leaving Chicago the party, 
comprising about a dozen boat crews, camped a day on the 
South Branch near the present commencement of the Illinois and 
Michigan Canal, preparing to pass the boats through Mud Lake 
to the Des Plaines. Mud Lake drained both ways, into the 
Des Plaines, and through a narrow, crooked channel into the 
South Branch, and only in very wet seasons, Hubbard states, 
did it contain water enough to float an empty boat. The mud 
was very deep and the lake was surrounded by an almost impene- 
trable growth of wild rice and grass. 

From the South Branch the empty boats were pulled up the 
channel leading from Mud Lake. In many places where there 
was a hard bottom and absence of water they were placed on 
short rollers, and in this way were propelled along until the lake 
was reached. Here mud, thick and deep, was encountered, but 
only at rare intervals was there any water. Four men stayed 
in the boat while six or eight more waded in the mud alongside. 
The former were equipped with boat-poles to the ends of which 
forked branches of trees had been fastened. By pushing with 
these against the hummocks, while the men in the mud lifted 
and shoved, the boat was jerked along. The men in the mud 
frequently sank to their waists, and at times were forced to cling 
to the boat to prevent going over their heads. Their limbs 
were covered with bloodsuckers which caused intense agony 

"Hubbard. Life, 39-41. 


for several days, and sleep at night was rendered hopeless by 
the swarms of mosquitoes which assailed them. Yet three 
consecutive days of toil from dawn until dark under such condi- 
tions were required to pass all the boats through Mud Lake and 
reach the Des Plaines River. 

The passage down the Des Plaines and the Illinois as far as 
the mouth of Fox River consumed almost three weeks more. 
Until Cache Island was reached the journey was comparatively 
easy, although even in this portion of the Des Plaines progress 
was frequently interrupted by the necessity of making portages 
or passing the boats along on rollers. 31 From Cache Island to 
the Illinois River the goods were carried on the men's backs 
most of the way, while the lightened boats were pulled over the 
shallow places, often being placed on poles and thus dragged 
over the rocks and shoals. In the autumn of 1823 Hubbard 
was sent to a post on the Iroquois River. To shorten his journey 
and "avoid the delays and hardships of the old route by way 
of Mud Lake and the Des Plaines" he resolved to travel to his 
destination by way of the St. Joseph Portage and the Kankakee 
River. A year later he was placed in charge of the Illinois 
River posts of the American Fur Company. He thereupon 
proceeded to execute a plan he had long urged upon his predeces- 
sor. The boats were unloaded on their return from Mackinac 
to Chicago, and scuttled in the swamp to insure their safety 
until they should be needed for the return voyage to Mackinac 
laden with furs the following spring. The goods and furs were 
transported between Chicago and the Indian hunting-grounds 
on pack horses. Thus "the long, tedious, and difficult passage" 
through Mud Lake into and down the Des Plaines was avoided. 

It is evident, then, that the chief factor in determining the 
character and length of the Chicago Portage was the Des Plaines 
River, and that during a large part of the year the portage that 
must be made extended much farther than simply from the 
Chicago to the Des Plaines. Schoolcraft and Cass in 1821 
were compelled to abandon their canoe at Starved Rock, almost 



one hundred miles from Chicago. The traders whom they 
met in the course of their horseback journey were apparently 
planning to put their boats into the DesPlaines at Mount 
Joliet, after a portage of thirty miles. Whether, in view of 
Schoolcraft's own experience, they succeeded in entering the 
river at this point may well be doubted. The transcript of 
names from the account books kept by John Kinzie at Chicago 32 
contains several entries of charges for assisting traders over the 
portage; some of these show that the portage was made from 
Mount Joliet, while one, in June, 1806, shows that it extended to 
the "forks" of the Illinois. Tanner's experience presents the 
extreme example, if his statement of distances can be relied on, 
of a portage of one hundred and twenty miles. 33 The varying 
length of the portage necessary at different seasons is well 
described in an official report made in 1819 by Graham and 
Phillips. 34 At one season there is an uninterrupted water com- 
munication between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi; at 
another season a portage of two miles; at another a portage of 
seven miles, from the Chicago River to the Des Plaines; and at 
still another, a portage of fifty miles, extending to the mouth of 
the Des Plaines. 

These fluctuations in the state of the Des Plaines and in the 
length of the portage influenced materially the plans of the 
traders and travelers who had occasion to traverse this route. 
For obvious reasons in times when the Des Plaines was known 
to be low and the portage correspondingly long the Chicago 
route would be avoided if practicable. Thus Charlevoix pre- 
ferred the Kankakee to it in 1721. A hundred years later, the 
Indians who had set out with Tanner upon learning of the low 
stage of the water in the Illinois, abandoned the journey and 

11 Barry, Rev. Win., Transcript of Names in John Kinzie's Account Books, MS in the 
Chicago Historical Society library. This will be cited henceforth as the Barry Transcript. 

" If, as suggested above, the Yellow Ochre was the same stream as the Vermilion 
River, the distance from Chicago to its mouth was about one hundred miles. 

" Stale Papers, Doc. No. 17, i6th Congress, ist Sess. Senator Benton claimed in 1847 
that he had written this report from data supplied him by Graham and Phillips (Niles' 
Register, LXXII, 309). 


returned to their homes. St. Cosme's party in 1698 sought to 
reach the Illinois from Lake Michigan by the Root and Fox 
rivers, desisting from the effort only under the belief that this 
would necessitate a portage of forty leagues. Compelled to 
follow the Chicago route, the prospect of the long and difficult 
passage down the Des Plaines to navigable water on the Illinois 
induced them to leave all of their goods but one boat-load at 
Chicago in charge of a member of the party. This made neces- 
sary a return from the lower Mississippi for them the following 
spring, but even this was preferred to the arduous undertaking of 
transporting them over the long portage at Chicago in the dry 

More significant, perhaps, is the fact that those who had 
occasion to cross the Chicago Portage, and were informed con- 
cerning the seasonal fluctuations of the Des Plaines, planned 
their business so as to take advantage, as far as possible, of the 
seasons of high water. Colonel Kingsbury, who in 1805 con- 
ducted a company of soldiers from Mackinac to the Mississippi 
by way of the Illinois River to establish Fort Belle Fontaine, 
was ordered to proceed to Chicago with them on the first vessel 
in the spring. 35 The Illinois River traders in the employ of the 
American Fur Company in the period from 1818 to 1824 so 
planned their business as to bring their boats laden with furs 
up the Des Plaines in the season of the spring flood. 

La Salle had early contended that it was more feasible to 
transport goods between Chicago and Starved Rock with horses 
than by boats on the river. There arose very early a demand 
for another means of transportation between the two places at 
such times as the use of the Des Plaines in boats was impracti- 
cable, whether from excess or from deficiency of water. Lahontan 

" Gushing to Lieutenant-colonel Kingsbury, February 20, 1805. This letter belongs 
to the collection of letter books, letters, and other papers of Jacob Kingsbury in the Chicago 
Historical Society library. Kingsbury was in command of Detroit, Mackinac, and other 
northwestern posts from 1804 on, and for a time was the superior authority in charge of a 
group of posts including Fort Wayne, Fort Dearborn, Mackinac, and Detroit. His letters 
and papers constitute a source of prime importance for this period of northwestern history. 
They will be cited henceforth as the Kingsbury Papers. 


represents, in his famous narrative of his Long River expedi- 
tion, 36 that he returned by way of the Illinois River and Chicago 
Portage. To lessen the drudgery of "a great land carriage of 
twelve great leagues," he engaged four hundred Indians to 
transport his baggage from the Illinois village to Lake Michigan, 
"which they did in the space of four days." Historians have 
long agreed in denouncing the pretended Long River discovery 
as fraudulent, but there is nothing improbable about the state- 
ment of the necessity of a land carriage of twelve great leagues 
at the Chicago Portage. 

Whether Lahontan ever in fact employed four hundred 
Indians to transport his baggage over the Chicago Portage 
may well be doubted; but that other travelers employed Indians 
in a similar capacity is certain. The companions of Cavelier, 
La Salle's brother, who passed from Fort St. Louis to Lake 
Michigan in September, 1687, employed a dozen Shawnee Indians 
to carry their goods to the lake, because there was no water in 
the river at this season of the year. 37 Unable to make their way 
from Chicago to Mackinac they returned to the fort to pass the 
winter. In this same autumn of 1687, some Frenchmen en route 
from Montreal to Fort St. Louis with three canoes loaded with 
merchandise and ammunition were halted at Chicago on account 
of lack of water in the Des Plaines. 38 Upon information of this 
being brought to Tonty he engaged the services of forty Shawnee 
Indians, women and men, by whom the goods were transported 
to the fort. 

When horses were first employed on the Chicago Portage can- 
not, of course, be stated. We have seen that La Salle advocated 
their employment, but he himself was never in a position to use 
them. That such use began very early, however, is indicated 
by a tradition preserved by Gurdon S. Hubbard of an adventure 
of a trader named Cerre on the Des Plaines. 39 The Indians 
sought to force him to pay toll to them, but he defied them; 

* Lahontan, Voyages, I, 167 ff. 

" Joutel's Journal, in Margry, III, 482, 484. 

- Ibid., 497. Hubbard, Life, 41-43. 


the controversy ended happily, however, and the Indians trans- 
ported Cerre's goods on their pack horses from Cache Island 
to the mouth of the Des Plaines. The date of this incident is 
not recorded, but Cerre first came into the Illinois country in 
1756. If the Indians were accustomed thus early to use pack 
horses to transport the goods of travelers it is not improbable 
that the practice may have originated long before. 

The demand for transportation facilities at the portage was 
thus coeval with the advent of the French in this region. In 
the early nineteenth century the satisfaction of this demand 
afforded employment and a livelihood to some of the inhabitants 
of Chicago. The transporting of travelers and their baggage 
across the portage formed part of the business of John Kinzie. 
That it was Ouilmette's principal occupation, at least for a con- 
siderable period, seems probable. 40 Major Stoddard stated in 
1812 concerning the Chicago Portage that in the dry season 
boats and their cargoes were transported across it by teams kept 
at Chicago for this purpose. 41 Several years later Graham and 
Phillips reported that there was a well-beaten road from the 
mouth of the Des Plaines to the lake, over which boats and 
their loads were hauled by oxen and vehicles kept for this purpose 
by the French settlers at Chicago. 42 Schoolcraft and Cass 
procured horses to convey them to Chicago from the point 
near Starved Rock where they abandoned their canoe. John 
Tanner's narrative shows that the Frenchman who carried him 
a distance of sixty miles from Chicago to the Illinois River in the 
preceding year was commonly engaged in this business. Prob- 
ably this man was Ouilmette, although Tanner does not give his 
name. If it was someone other than Ouilmette, it is evident 
that at least two Chicago residents were engaged in this business. 

The project of Joliet of a canal to connect Lake Michigan 
with the Illinois River was revived early in the nineteenth 
century. After numerous investigations and reports had been 

" See Post, pp. 143-44; Tanner's Narrative, 257; Barry Transcript. 
41 Stoddard, Sketches, Historical and Descriptive, of Louisiana, 368 S. 
* State Papers, Doc. No. 17, i6th Congress, ist Sess. 


made, the work of construction was at last begun, amid great en- 
thusiasm, in the year 1836. Twelve years later the Illinois and 
Michigan Canal was completed, and therewith the Chicago 
Portage ceased to be. Even without the construction of the 
canal its old importance and use were about to terminate. 
The advance of white settlement sounded the death knell of the 
fur trade. With the advent of the railroad, trade and commerce 
sought other channels and another means of transportation. 
The waterways lost their old importance and the Chicago 
Portage passed into history. Ere this time, however, the New 
Chicago had been born and her future, with its marvelous possi- 
bilities, was secure. 



It seems quite probable that Chicago was an important 
meeting-place for Indian travelers long before the first white 
men came to the foot of Lake Michigan. The portage of the 
Indian preceded the canoe of the white man, and the Indian 
trail was the forerunner of the white man's road. Who the 
first white visitor to Chicago was cannot be stated with cer- 
tainty. The chief incentive to the exploration of the North- 
west was the prosecution of the fur trade, and it is probable 
that wandering coureurs de bois had visited this region in 
advance of any of the explorers who have left us records of 
their travels. Coming to the domain of recorded history we 
encounter, on the threshold as it were, the master dreamer and 
empire builder, La Salle. 

Already interested in the subject of western exploration, in 
the summer of 1669 he set out from his estate of Lachine in search 
of a river which flowed to the western sea. 43 His course to the 
western end of Lake Ontario is known to us, but from this point 
his movements for the next two years are involved in mist and 
obscurity. It is believed by some that he descended the Ohio 
to the Mississippi in 1670, and that the following year he trav- 
ersed Lake Michigan from north to south, crossed the Chicago 
Portage, and descended the Illinois River till he again reached 
the Mississippi. But the claim that he reached the Mississippi 
during these years is rejected by most historians. Probably 
the exact facts as to his movements at this time will never 
be known. We are here interested, however, primarily in 
the question whether he came to the site of Chicago. Even 
this cannot be stated with certainty, but the preponderance of 

" For this expedition and the subsequent movements of La Salle see Winsor, Carter 
to Frontenac; Parkman, La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West; Winsor, Narrative and 
Critical History, IV, 201 ff. 



opinion among those best qualified to judge is that he probably 
did. 44 

The pages of history might be scanned in vain for a more 
fitting character with which to begin the annals of the great 
city of today. La Salle is noted, even as it is noted, for bound- 
less energy, lofty aspiration, and daring enterprise. He com- 
bined the capacity to dream with the resolution to make his 
visions real. "He was the real discoverer of the Great West, 
for he planned its occupation and began its settlement; and he 
alone of the men of his time appreciated its boundless possi- 
bilities, and with prophetic eye saw in the future its wide area 
peopled by his own race." 45 

In strong contrast with the masterful La Salle succeeds, in 
the early annals of Chicago, the gentle, saintly Marquette. 
For a number of years vague and indefinite reports had been 
carried to Canada of the existence, to the west of the Great 
Lakes, of a "great river" flowing westwardly to the Vermillion 
Sea, as the Gulf of California was then known. These reports 
roused in the French the hope of finding an easy way to the 
South Sea, and thence to the golden commerce of the Indies. 

Spurred on by the home government Talon, the intendant 
of Canada, took up the project of solving the problem of the 
great western river. 46 It chanced that for several years Mar- 
quette, a Jesuit missionary, had been stationed on the shore 
of Lake Superior. Here he heard from his dusky charges 
stories of the great river and of the pleasant country to the 
westward. In consequence he became imbued with the double 
ambition of solving the geographical question of the ultimate 
direction of the river's flow, and of seeking in this new region a 
more fruitful field of labor. 47 In the summer of 1672 Talon 

44 Margry was convinced of this and Parkman thought it entirely probable. Winsor 
thought that La Salle came to the head of Lake Michigan, but was in doubt whether he 
entered the Chicago River or the St. Joseph. Shea, who constantly belittles La Salle's 
achievements, believed he "reached the Illinois or some other affluent of the Mississippi." 
See the references given in note 43. 

45 Edward G. Mason, "Early Visitors to Chicago," in New England Magazine, New 
Ser., VI, 180, 

* Winsor, Carrier to Frontenac, 231. " Ibid., 199-201. 


appointed Louis Joliet, a young Canadian who had already 
achieved something of a reputation as an explorer, to carry out 
the new task, and the projected exploration of the great river 
was launched. Joliet proceeded that autumn to Mackinac 
the Michilimackinac of the French period where he spent the 
winter preparing for the enterprise. Hither Marquette had 
come two years before, and here he had established the mission 
of St. Ignace. Proximity and a common interest in the projected 
enterprise combined to draw the two together; so that when the 
expedition set out from Mackinac in May, 1673, tne party was 
composed of Joliet, Marquette, and five companions. Though 
Joliet was the official head of the expedition, it has come about, 
through the circumstance that his records were lost almost at 
the end of his toilsome journey, that we are chiefly indebted to 
the journal of Marquette for our knowledge of it, and have come 
insensibly to ascribe the credit for it to him.- 

From Mackinac the party passed, in two canoes, to the head 
of Green Bay, and thence by way of the Fox- Wisconsin River 
route to the Mississippi, which was reached a month after the 
departure from the mission of St. Ignace. 48 Down its broad 
current the voyagers paddled and floated for another month. 
Arrived at the mouth of the Arkansas, they were told by the 
natives that the sea was distant but ten days' journey, and that 
the intervening region was inhabited by warlike tribes, equipped 
with firearms, and hostile to their entertainers. This informa- 
tion led the explorers to take counsel concerning their further 
course. Deeming it established beyond doubt that the river 
emptied into "the Florida or Mexican Gulf," and fearful of 
losing the fruits of their discovery by falling into the hands of 
the Spaniards, they decided to turn about and begin the home- 
ward journey. 

On reaching the mouth of the Illinois they learned that they 
could shorten their return to Mackinac by passing up that river. 
A pleasing picture is drawn by Marquette of the country through 

"Marquette's Journal of the expedition is printed in Jesuit Relations, Vol. LIX. 
For standard secondary accounts see the works of Parkman and Winsor. 


which this new route led them. They had seen nothing com- 
parable to it for fertility of soil, for prairies, woods, "cattle," 
and other game. The Indians received them kindly, and obliged 
Marquette to promise that he would return to instruct them. 
Under the guidance of an Indian escort the voyagers passed, 
probably by way of the Chicago Portage and River, 49 to Lake 
Michigan, whence they made their way to Green Bay by the 
end of September. 

The following year Joliet continued on his way to Quebec 
to report to Count Frontenac the results of his expedition. 
Marquette remained at Green Bay, worn down by the illness 
that was shortly to terminate his career. In the autumn of 
1674, the disease having temporarily abated, he undertook the 
fulfilment of his promise to the Illinois Indians to return and 
establish a mission among them. Late in October he began the 
journey, 50 accompanied by two voyageurs, Pierre Porteret and 
Jacques, one of whom had been a member of the earlier expedi- 
tion. The little party was soon increased by the addition of a 
number of Indians, and all together made their way down Green 
Bay and the western shore of Lake Michigan, to the mouth of 
the "river of the portage" the Chicago. Over a month had 
been consumed in the journey, owing to frequent delays caused 
by the stormy lake. The river was frozen to the depth of half 
a foot and snow was plentiful. Ten days were passed here, when, 
Marquette's malady having returned, a camp was made two 
leagues up the river, close to the portage, and it was decided to 
spend the winter there. Thus began in December, 1674, the 
first extended sojourn, so far as we have record, of white men on 
the site of the future Chicago. There has been much loose 
writing concerning the character of their habitation. Even 

" It was the contention of Albert D. Hagar, a former secretary of the Chicago His- 
torical Society, that on both this expedition and that of 1675 Marquette passed from the 
Des Plaines River to Lake Michigan by way of the Calumet Portage and River. (Andreas, 
History of Chicago, I, 46.) The evidence, however, seems to me to point to the route by 
way of the Chicago Portage and River. Hagar's argument is refuted by Hurlbut in Chicago 
Antiquities, 384-88. 

" For Marquette's Journal of this expedition see Jesuit Relations, Vol. LIX. Parkman 
and Winsor have written standard secondary accounts. 


Parkman states that they constructed a "log hut," and other 
writers have made similar assertions. There is no warrant for 
this in the original documents, and all the circumstances of the 
case combine to render it improbable. 51 Marquette was too 
sick to travel, and he had but two companions to assist him. 
They made two camps, one at the entrance of the river, and 
the other, a few days later, at the portage. It was already the 
dead of winter, and they could not have been equipped with 
heavy tools. It seems entirely probable that in place of a 
"log hut" they constructed the customary Indian shelter or 
wigwam. 52 

Marquette found that two Frenchmen had preceded him in 
establishing themselves in the Illinois country. He designates 
them as "La Taupine and the surgeon," and says that they were 
stationed eighteen leagues below Chicago, "in a fine place for 
hunting cattle, deer, and turkeys." 53 They were supplied with 
corn and other provisions, and were engaged in the fur trade. 
Apparently their location was selected either because it was 
"a fine place for hunting," or else because of its advantages as a 
trading station, for it is evident from the narrative that they 
were in close proximity to the Indians. 

Who were these French pioneers of the upper Illinois Valley ? 
We know concerning La Taupine the mole that he was a 
noted fur trader whose real name was Pierre Moreau; 54 that 
he was an adherent of Count Frontenac, the governor of New 

51 The French word used by Marquette, cabannez, was commonly employed, whether 
as a verb or a noun, to designate the ordinary temporary encampment of travelers and the 
wigwam of the Indian. In Marquette's Journal of his first expedition (Jesuit Relations, 
LIX, 146), the word is used to designate the cover of sailcloth erected over the voyagers' 
canoes to protect them from the mosquitoes and the sun while floating down the Mississippi. 
Later, on the second expedition, when Marquette, hastening along the eastern shore of 
Lake Michigan toward Mackinac, found himself at the point of death, his companions hastily 
landed and constructed a "wretched cabin of bark" to lay him in (ibid., 194). Numerous 
other instances of the habitual use of the word to indicate a temporary camp might easily 
be cited. 

51 For a further development of this subject see H. H. Hurlbut's pamphlet, Father 
Marquette at Mackinac and Chicago, 13-14. 

"Jesuit Relations, LIX, 174-76. 

"Ibid., 314; Mason, "Early Visitors to Chicago," cited in note 45. 


France; and that he was accused by the intendant with being 
one of the Governor's agents in the prosecution of an illicit 
trade with the Indians. He had been with St. Lusson at the 
Sault Ste. Marie in 1671, and doubtless was possessed of all the 
information current among the French concerning the region 
beyond the Great Lakes. In what year he pushed out into 
this region and established the first habitation and business of 
a white man in northern Illinois will probably forever remain 

The little that Marquette tells us of the companion of La 
Taupine serves only to whet our curiosity. Though these first 
residents were lawbreakers, they were not without redeeming 
qualities. In anticipation, apparently, of Marquette's arrival 
at their station they had made preparations to receive him, and 
had told the savages "that their cabin belonged to the black 
robe." 55 As soon as they learned of the priest's illness at Chicago 
the surgeon came, in spite of snow and bitter cold, 56 a distance 
of fifty miles to bring him some corn and blueberries. Mar- 
quette sent Jacques back with the surgeon to bear a message to 
the Indians who lived in his vicinity, and the traders loaded 
him, on his return, with corn and "other delicacies" for the 
sick priest. Furthermore, the surgeon was a devout man, for 
he spent some time with Marquette in order to perform his 
devotions. Clearly here is a character who improves with 
closer acquaintance. But such acquaintance is denied us. As 
a ship passing in the night the surgeon flashes across Chicago's 
early horizon; whence he came, whither he went, even his name 
will doubtless remain forever a mystery. 

Meanwhile, how fared the winter with the three Frenchmen 
in their primitive camp near the portage ? The picture of their 
life as painted in the pages of Marquette's Journal is not, on the 
whole, unattractive. The fraternal spirit manifested for them 
by the traders has already been noted. The Indians were 

ss Jesuit Relations, LIX, 176. 

56 The Journal records that the Indians were suffering from hunger because the cold 
and snow prevented them from hunting. 


equally friendly. When those living in a village six leagues 
away learned of Marquette's plight, they were so solicitous for 
his welfare, and so fearful that he would suffer from hunger, 
that, notwithstanding the cold, Jacques had much difficulty 
in preventing the young men from coming to the portage to 
carry away to their village all Marquette's belongings. 

The Indians' fears, however, proved groundless. Deer and 
buffalo abounded, partridges, much like those of France, were 
killed, and turkeys swarmed around the camp. The traders 
sent corn and blueberries, and the Indians brought corn, dried 
meat, and pumpkins. The severe whiter produced its effect 
upon the game, some of the deer that were killed being so lean 
as to be worthless. But "the Blessed Virgin Immaculate," 
Marquette's celestial queen, took such care of them that there 
was no lack of provisions, and when the camp was broken up 
in the spring there was still on hand a large sack of corn and a 
supply of meat. 

An intense spirit of religious devotion animated Marquette 
throughout the winter. It was his zeal in the service of his 
Heavenly Master that had led him, in his illness, to brave the 
rigors of a winter in the wilderness. Despite his bodily afflic- 
tion, the observance of religious exercises was maintained. 
Mass was said every day throughout the winter, but they were 
able to observe Lent only on Fridays and Saturdays. On 
December 15 the mass of the Conception was celebrated. Early 
in February a novena, or nine days' devotion to the Virgin, was 
begun, to ask God for the restoration of Marquette's health. 
Shortly afterward his condition improved, in consequence, as 
he believed, of these devotions. An opportunity to give his 
religion a practical application was afforded him in the latter 
part of January. A deputation of Illinois Indians came bring- 
ing presents, in return for which they requested, among other 
things, a supply of powder. Marquette refused this, saying 
he had come to instruct them and to restore peace, and 
did not wish them to begin a war with their neighbors, the 


Toward the end of March the ice began to thaw, but on 
breaking up it formed a gorge, causing a rapid rise in the river. 
The camping-place was suddenly flooded, the occupants having 
barely time enough to secure their goods upon the trees. They 
themselves spent the night on a hillock, with the water steadily 
gaining upon them. The following day the gorge dissolved, 
the ice drifted away, and the travelers prepared to resume their 
journey to the village of the Illinois. 

Eleven days were consumed in this journey, during which 
Marquette suffered much from illness and exposure. 57 Accord- 
ing to Father Dablon he was received by the Indians "as an 
angel from Heaven." He preached to them and established 
his mission, and then, feeling the hand of death upon him, 
began his return journey to the distant mission of St. Ignace. 

And now we come to what may be regarded as the next 
scene in the annals of Chicago. A crowd of the Illinois accom- 
panied Marquette, as a mark of honor, for more than thirty 
leagues, vying with each other in taking charge of his slender 
baggage. Then, "filled with great esteem for the gospel," 
they took leave of him, and continuing his journey he shortly 
afterward reached Lake Michigan. 58 The route followed from 
this point was by way of the eastern side of the lake. But the 
missionary's life was to terminate sooner than the voyage. 
On May 19 he died, on the lonely shore of the lake, and was 

" Marquette's Journal ends abruptly at this point, his last entry being made on April 
6 while the little party was waiting at the Des Plaines River for the subsidence of the ice 
and the cold winds to permit them to descend. For the remainder of the story we are 
indebted to the narrative of Father Dablon, Marquette's superior, whose information was 
derived from the two companions of Marquette. Dablon's narrative is printed in Jesuit 
Relations, Vol. LIX. 

58 The route followed by Marquette and his escort from the Illinois village to Lake 
Michigan is not certainly known. From the fact that after reaching the lake Marquette 
sought to reach Mackinac by following around its eastern shore, it has been argued that 
he ascended the Rankakee to reach Lake Michigan. The evidence seems to me, however, 
to favor the route by the Des Plaines and Chicago. Marquette had gone this way on the 
return from his first expedition, and had returned to the Illinois the same way. If he now 
followed this route, the thirty leagues which the Indians accompanied him would have 
brought them to the vicinity of the portage between the Des Plaines and the Chicago. 
In the period when travel was chiefly by water portages were natural meeting (and parting) 
places. The one argument in support of the Kankakee route is the fact that the further 


buried near the mouth of a small river in the state of Michigan 
which was long to bear his name. 

A successor to Marquette at the mission of the Illinois was 
found in the person of Father Claude Allouez, who was then 
stationed at the mission of St. Francis Xavier at Green Bay. 
In October, 1676, with two companions he set out in a canoe 
for his new field of work. 59 The winter closed down early, 
however, and before they had proceeded far they were compelled 
to lie over until February with some Pottawatomie Indians. 
Then they proceeded once more, in a way "very extraordinary"; 
for instead of putting the canoe into the water, they placed it 
upon the ice, over which a sail and a favoring wind "made it 
go as on the water." When the wind failed they drew it along 
by means of ropes. New obstacles to their progress arose, 
however, so that not until April did they enter "the river which 
leads to the Illinois." , At its entrance they were met by a band 
of eighty Illinois Indians who had come from their village to 
welcome Allouez. The ceremony of reception which ensued 
may well be set forth in the words of the missionary himself, 
in whose honor it was staged. 

"The captain came about 30 steps to meet me, carrying in 
one hand a firebrand and in the other a Calumet adorned with 
feathers. Approaching me, he placed it in my mouth and 
himself lighted the tobacco, which obliged me to make a pre- 
tense of smoking it. Then he made me come into his Cabin, 
and having given me the place of honor, he spoke to me as follows : 

'My Father, have pity on me; suffer me to return with thee, 
to bear thee company and take thee into my village. The meet- 
ing I have had today with thee will prove fatal to me if I do not 

route of the party was along the eastern shore of the lake. But this fact does not obviate 
the possibility of a return to the lake by the Des Plaines and Chicago. Furthermore, by 
the Kankakee route from the point where the Indians turned back Marquette would still 
have to travel upward of one hundred and fifty miles to reach the lake. Yet the narrative 
states that he reached it "shortly after" they left him a statement which harmonizes 
with the supposition that the leave-taking occurred at or near the Chicago Portage. For 
these reasons I have chosen to consider this an event in early Chicago history. 

"The narrative of Allouez is printed in Jesuit Relations, Vol. LX. The quotations 
from it which follow are from the Thwaites translation there given. 


use it to my advantage. Thou bearest to us the gospel and the 
prayer. If I lose the opportunity of listening to thee, I shall 
be punished by the loss of my nephews, whom thou seest in so 
great number; without doubt, they will be defeated by our 
enemies. Let us embark, then, in company, that I may profit 
by thy coming into our land.'" 

It is not to be supposed that the exact words of the " Captain" 
have been preserved, though it may well be that the general 
tenor of his remarks is here set forth. The speech concluded, 
they set out together, and "shortly after" arrived at the Chief's 
abode. We have no clue, further than this, to the location of 
the Indian camp. Probably it was in the vicinity of the portage ; 
for aside from the fact that this furnished a logical stopping- 
place Marquette tells us that during his sojourn here, two years 
before, Indians were encamped in his vicinity during a portion 
of the winter. 

After a brief stay among the Indians on the Illinois, where 
his labors met with great success, Allouez left them, returning 
again the next year. We have no details of these journeys, how- 
ever, and our next account of the presence of white men in this 
region involves us in the schemes and deeds of the masterful 
La Salle. 

La Salle conceived the ambitious design of leading France 
and civilization together into the valley of the Mississippi. 60 
But vast obstacles interposed to hinder him in its execution. 
Canada must be his base of operations, and Canada abounded 
in hostile traders and priests who jealously sought to checkmate 
him at every opportunity. The initiation of his design involved 
the establishment of a colony in the Illinois country. In 1678 
he sent out in advance a party of men to engage in trade for him 
and ultimately to go to the Illinois country and prepare for his 
coming. Meanwhile he himself was busied with further prepa- 
rations for the execution of his project; a sailing vessel was 
constructed close above Niagara Falls, and in August, 1678, its 

40 For the original documents pertaining to La Salle's work see Margry's collection. 
For standard secondary accounts see the works of Parkman and Winsor. I have drawn 
freely upon these in preparing this portion of my own narrative. 


sails were spread upon Lake Erie for the voyage around the upper 
lakes. Arrived at Green Bay, the vessel was loaded with furs 
and started on its return, while La Salle and fourteen followers, 
in four canoes, continued their way down the western shore of 
Lake Michigan. The party laboriously made its way past the 
site of the modern cities of Milwaukee and Chicago and around 
the southern end of the lake to the mouth of the St. Joseph 
River. This had been agreed upon as the place of rendezvous 
with Tonty, La Salle's faithful lieutenant, who with twenty 
men was toiling, meanwhile, down the eastern side of the lake 
from Mackinac. Tonty had been delayed, and La Salle employed 
the period of waiting for him in building Fort Miami on an 
eminence near the mouth of the river. This became, therefore, 
the oldest fort in this region, and constituted an important 
base of operations for the prosecution of his designs. 

At last Tonty arrived, bringing news which rendered probable 
the loss of La Salle's sailing vessel, the " Griffin," with her cargo 
of furs. Early in December the combined party ascended the 
St. Joseph River to the portage leading to the Kankakee, near 
the site of the modern city of South Bend. Down the latter 
river they passed and into the Illinois, until they came to the 
great Indian village, in the vicinity of Starved Rock, where 
Marquette and Allouez had labored as missionaries during the 
past five years. The place was deserted, however, the inhabit- 
ants having departed for their annual winter hunt. The journey 
was resumed, therefore, as far as Lake Peoria, near which place 
a village of the Illinois was found. 

A parley was held with the Indians, in the course of which 
La Salle unfolded his design of building a fort in their midst, 
and a "great wooden Canoe" on the Mississippi, which would 
go down to the sea, and return thence with the goods they so 
much desired. La Salle was successful in overcoming alike the 
suspicions of the natives, the intrigues of his enemies, and the 
disloyalty of his own men. A site suitable for a fort was selected, 
and here in the dead of winter was constructed the first civilized 
habitation of a permanent character in the modern state of 


Illinois; the Indians gave to the fort the name of Checagou, 
but by La Salle it was christened Fort Crevecoeur. 

La Salle had thus established himself in the heart of the 
Mississippi Valley, and had initiated the work of carving out 
what was to become the imperial domain of French Louisiana. 
But the major portion of that work lay yet before him, and 
difficulties were to succeed one another in its prosecution until 
the leader's death at the hands of a hidden assassin was to 
terminate his life in seeming failure. It is not our purpose 
here to attempt a history of La Salle's career; rather our aim 
is to sketch such of its salient features as may be pertinent to 
the unfolding of the story of the genesis of Chicago. The loss 
of the "Griffin" imposed upon La Salle the necessity of returning 
to Fort Frontenac for supplies. Having urged forward the 
construction of his fort and arranged for the departure of 
Hennepin and his associates on what eventuated in their famous 
exploration of the upper waters of the Mississippi, La Salle left 
Tonty in command at Fort Crevecoeur, and himself, in March, 
1680, set forth on his long and terrible journey. In its course 
he again paused near Starved Rock, noted the ease with which 
it might be defended, and passing on to Fort Miami, dispatched 
orders to Tonty to occupy and fortify it. He then crossed on 
foot the trackless waste of southern Michigan in the season of 
spring floods, and came at last to his destination. He spent 
some months in setting his affairs in order, and in August, 1680, 
set out on the return to Illinois, passing by way of Mackinac 
and thence down the eastern side of Lake Michigan to Fort 

Meanwhile, what of Tonty and affairs at Fort Crevecoeur ? 
Faithful to his orders, Tonty, on receipt of the dispatch which 
La Salle had sent forward from Fort Miami, set forth to occupy 
Starved Rock. In his absence the men left at Fort Crevecoeur, 
spurred on by the tales of financial disaster to La Salle related 
by the new arrivals, rose in mutiny. They destroyed the fort, 
stole its provisions, and writing on the side of the unfinished 
vessel the legend Nous sommes tons sauvages "We are all 


savages" departed. Upon the heels of this disaster succeeded 
a still greater menace to La Salle's designs. It was essential 
to their success that the Illinois Indians should retain peaceable 
possession of their territory. But now came against them a war 
party of the terrible Iroquois. They assailed and destroyed 
the village at the Rock and pursued the fleeing Illinois until 
the scattered survivors found refuge across the Mississippi. 

The indomitable Tonty, almost alone in this sea of savagery, 
had done what he could to save the Illinois from destruction. 
His efforts proved vain, and with his few followers he fled from 
impending destruction. Their goal was distant Mackinac, and 
their route was up the Illinois and the Des Plaines to Lake 
Michigan and thence northward along its western shore. Doubt- 
less the forlorn little party passed by Chicago, though we have 
no direct details as to this portion of their journey. Hardships 
and dangers in abundance were endured before the survivors 
found refuge with a band of friendly Pottawatomies at some 
point to the southward of Green Bay. 

Shortly after the destruction of the Illinois La Salle, in 
ignorance of what had happened, came from Fort Miami to the 
relief of Tonty. In the ghastly remains of the village at Starved 
Rock he read the story of this new disaster to his plans. Failing 
to find the bodies of Tonty and his companions among them, 
he followed in the track of the pursued and pursuing savages 
until he reached the Mississippi. Concluding at last that Tonty 
had not come this way he retraced his steps to the junction of the 
Kankakee with the Des Plaines, and turning up the latter stream 
soon found traces of Tonty's party. It was now the dead of 
winter. Convinced of Tonty's escape, La Salle abandoned the 
canoes, which he had dragged with him on sledges thus far, 
and made his way overland through extreme cold and deep 
snow to Fort Miami, where he arrived at the end of January. 

The design was now conceived by La Salle of welding the 
western tribes into a confederation, which, under the guidance 
of himself and his French followers, should oppose the maraud- 
ing incursions of the Iroquois into the West. The year 1681 


was devoted to the furthering of this project and to the gather- 
ing of La Salle's scattered resources for a renewal of his attempt 
at establishing himself in the Mississippi Valley. Late in the 
year he was again at Fort Miami with a considerable party of 
French and Indians, ready for the exploit which has given him 
his greatest fame the descent of the Mississippi to its mouth. 

From Fort Miami the route followed led around the foot 
of Lake Michigan to Chicago; thence across the portage and 
down the Des Plaines, the Illinois, and the Mississippi to the 
Gulf of Mexico. The expedition set forth in two divisions, 
Tonty with the first crossing over to the Chicago River in the 
closing days of December, 1681, where he prepared sledges 
for transporting the canoes and equipment on the ice, and 
awaited the arrival of his chief. La Salle with the second division 
arrived early in January, and after a detention of a few days, 
occasioned by unfavorable weather, the united party set out, 
dragging their sledges on the surface of the frozen rivers until 
open water was reached below Lake Peoria. There they em- 
barked, and three months later, on April 9, 1682, at the mouth 
of the Great River he had descended La Salle took formal posses- 
sion, under the name of Louisiana, of all the vast country drained 
by it and by its tributaries, stretching "from the Alleghenies to 
the Rocky Mountains; from the Rio Grande and the Gulf to 
the farthest springs of the Missouri." 61 

La Salle's discovery of the mouth of the Mississippi caused 
him to broaden his projects. He would establish a colony at 
the mouth of the Great River to serve as an outlet for his colony 
on the Illinois where he hoped to gather the furs on which he 
relied to render his whole vast enterprise commercially successful. 
The prosecution of his designs, therefore, depended ultimately 
on his ability to make the Illinois colony profitable. On his 
return to Mackinac from the descent of the Mississippi, in the 
autumn of 1682, he learned that the Iroquois were about to 
renew their attacks upon the West. The best efforts of himself 
and Tonty were now directed, therefore, to the fortification of 

61 Parkman, La Salle, chap. xxi. 


Starved Rock, which he planned to serve as the center of his 
colony and its rock of defense against the invader. 

Here, on a cliff which rises sheer from the water's edge to a 
height of one hundred and twenty-five feet, with its crest about 
an acre in extent, and accessible only by a narrow pathway in 
the rear, during the winter of 1682 and 1683 the fort was con- 
structed. At the same time the work of alliance with the Indians 
went vigorously forward until from the lofty ramparts of St. Louis, 
the name given by La Salle to his fortress, the leader could look 
down upon the lodges of four thousand warriors, gathered from 
half a score of tribes, and a total population of upward of twenty 
thousand souls. The stability of the colony thus gathered 
depended on La Salle's ability to protect his allies against the 
Iroquois, and to furnish them with goods and a market for 
their furs. 

La Salle's career shows that over natural obstacles and the 
wiles of the red man he could rise triumphant, but that he was 
no match for the intriguing enemies of his own race. By these 
his plans were shipwrecked once more, and for the last time, so 
far as his Illinois career was concerned. Count Frontenac, his 
staunch supporter hitherto, was recalled, and the new governor, 
De la Barre, pursued a policy of unscrupulous hostility toward 
him. His ammunition and supplies to sustain himself against 
the Iroquois were detained, lying reports about him were sent 
to the home government, and finally a force was sent to supersede 
him in command of Fort St. Louis. 

La Salle's only remedy against such an enemy was to appeal 
in person to his monarch. Leaving Tonty in command of the 
colony he went, by way of Canada, to France, whence he em- 
barked upon the enterprise which was to end so disastrously in 
the wilds of Texas. Under the guidance of others Louisiana 
became, in the following century, the fairest province of New 
France. Wrested from French control by the Anglo-Saxon, it 
has come in time to constitute the heart and center of our 
magnificent national domain. The geographical monuments to 
the memory of La Salle are few; a county in Texas, a city and 


a county in Illinois are all, aside from a few insignificant post 
towns, that bear his name. Yet in the eyes of history he will 
always be regarded as the father of Louisiana, a province as 
favored by Nature, as imperial in character, as any the sun 
ever shone upon. 

Since 1678 La Salle's chief lieutenant in the prosecution 
of his enterprises had been the capable and valorous Tonty. 62 
La Salle's mission to the French Court in 1684 na d resulted in 
the restoration of Tonty to command at Fort St. Louis. On 
the death of La Salle he sought to step into his former leader's 
place, and to complete the establishment of the French power 
in the Mississippi Valley. For a dozen years longer he held 
his lofty post of St. Louis, seeking meanwhile to interest the 
French Court in the uncompleted design of his former chief. 
But other and more powerful interests held the ear of the distant 
monarch, and his efforts were in vain. Finally, in 1700 an 
expedition was sent out under the command of Iberville to take 
possession of the mouth of the Mississippi. A settlement was 
made at Biloxi Bay, and hither Tonty came, abandoning his 
fort at the Rock, and joining his efforts in support of the more 
powerful enterprise. After four years more of service in the 
cause in which he had first enlisted under La Salle's banner, he 
died at Biloxi of yellow fever. There in September, 1704, 
"was dug the grave of the most unselfish and loyal, as he was 
one of the most courageous and intrepid, of the many knightly 
men who blazed the path whence entered civilization into what 
later became known as the old Northwest." 63 

During Tonty's occupancy of Fort St. Louis in the period fol- 
lowing the death of La Salle a number of travelers passed between 
Lake Michigan and the Mississippi by the Chicago-Illinois route 
the records of whose experiences are still preserved. One of the 
most interesting of these narratives is that of Joutel, the com- 

" The story of Tonty is told by Parkman in connection with his account of La Salle. 
"Henry de Tonty," a sketch and appreciation of Tonty's career by Henry E. Legler, is 
printed in Parkman Club Publications, No. 3. For an English translation of Tonty's own 
modest narrative of his career to 1693 see French, Historical Collections of Louisiana, I, 52 ff. 

*> Legler, op. cil., 37. 

fn .a 

S 5 

O g 

P/j u 



panion of Cavelier. 64 Their party comprised the sole sur- 
vivors of La Salle's ill-fated Texan expedition who returned to 
France and civilization. They came, a band of five forlorn 
fugitives, up the Mississippi and the Illinois, arriving at Fort 
St. Louis in September, 1687. Carefully concealing the fact of 
La Salle's death, they obtained means to continue their journey, 
and soon set out for Lake Michigan accompanied by a dozen 
savages who carried their goods and baggage, because of the 
lack of water in the Des Plaines. On the twenty-fifth they 
arrived at Chicago and there found a canoe left by some French- 
men who had recently passed down to Fort St. Louis. Their 
lack of experience as canoemen, together with contrary winds 
and bad weather, caused a delay of eight days at this place. 
Meanwhile the season was advancing and their scanty supply 
of provisions was being consumed. The state of mind to which 
they were reduced is naively shown by the record of Joutel that 
one of the party, having shot at some chickens and cracked his 
gun, "was so provoked that it gave him a fever." 

Finally they embarked on the lake and advanced some eight 
or ten leagues along the shore to the northward, striving to come 
to the villages of the Pottawatomies, where they hoped to pro- 
cure a fresh supply of food. The effort was a pitiful failure. 
Starvation lay before them; the loss of a year of time with the 
consequently lessened prospect of affording succor in season to 
the survivors of La Salle's colony in Texas, and the danger of 
the discovery of their guilty secret concerning their leader's 
fate, awaited their return to Fort St. Louis. 

They decided, however, to turn back. It was a dejected 
party, we may well believe, which came early in October to the 
entrance of the Chicago River. Here they made a cache in 
which they concealed their goods, put their canoe upon a scaffold, 
and retraced their steps to Fort St. Louis. In this place they 
passed the winter, and from them we get our fullest description of 

14 For the story of Cavelier's party see JouteFs Journal printed in Margry, III, 80- 
535. An abridged and distorted English translation of the Journal was published in 1714, 
and this was reprinted at Albany in 1906 under the editorial direction of Henry Reed 


the fort, and of the manner of life that prevailed there. Some 
three weeks after their arrival at the fort Tonty returned from 
his participation in Denonville's famous campaign against the 
Iroquois. From Fort St. Louis he had led sixteen Frenchmen 
and two hundred Indians to share in this distant enterprise. 
With a baseness which is difficult to excuse the fugitives deceived 
him concerning the death of La Salle, and after accepting his 
hospitality through the winter secured from him, on the assump- 
tion that La Salle was still alive, a considerable quantity of furs 
and other supplies. 

Taking advantage of the spring floods they set out once 
more for Chicago, March 21, 1688. They arrived on March 29, 
after a toilsome journey. Because of the swiftness of the river 
they were compelled to wade in the water, pulling their canoes, 
much of the way. Joutel avers that he suffered more on this 
short trip than he had done before since his departure from the 
Gulf of Mexico. Again bad weather compelled them to delay 
at Chicago, this time for ten days. There was little game and 
they had only corn meal to eat. But Providence furnished them 
"a kind of manna" to eat with their meal, which appears from 
the description to have consisted of maple sap. They also 
procured in the woods garlic and other edible plants, and Joutel 
records that Chicago takes its name, as they were informed, 
from the profusion of garlic growing in the surrounding woods. 65 

The members of JoutePs party passed on to Canada, and here 
we may leave them to pursue their way, burdened with their 
terrible secret, as best they may. Our interest meanwhile shifts 
to the story of Father Pinet and his mission of the Guardian 
Angel. We have seen that commerce and the Cross entered 
the upper Mississippi Valley together in 1673, in the persons of 
Joliet and Marquette. During the succeeding years the efforts 
of the servants of the Cross to gain control of this region were 
scarcely less zealous than were those of the devotees of trade. 
The missionary accompanied, sometimes even preceded, the 
explorer in his journeys, seeking everywhere to introduce the 

" Margry, III, 485. 


doctrine of the true faith and win the natives to the Church. 
The representatives of the Jesuit order were the most active 
agents of the Church in this work of proselyting. Under its 
auspices Marquette had established the Illinois Mission. Its 
vicissitudes of fortune were as various as those of La Salle 
himself, but, on the whole, it was as successful as any in all the 
annals of Catholic missions to the red man. 66 

We are more particularly concerned with that portion of the 
work of the Jesuits among the Illinois which pertains to the 
mission of the Guardian Angel at Chicago. 67 This was estab- 
lished in 1696 by Father Pierre Pinet, who had been stationed 
at Mackinac for a couple of years. According to the Jesuit 
records, however, Pinet was soon driven from Chicago and his 
mission broken up by no less a person than Count Frontenac. 
governor of New France. 68 An appeal to Bishop Laval resulted 
in a cessation of Frontenac's opposition, which, in the eyes of 
Pinet's associates, amounted to persecution. The mission of the 
Guardian Angel was accordingly resumed in 1698, but two years 
later it was permanently abandoned. 

Pinet was a man of deeds rather than words, and has himself 
left no account of his mission. The statements of his associates 
show that he was successful in his work here; the adult Indians, 
"hardened in debauchery," paid little heed to his teachings, but 
the young were baptized, and even the medicine men, who were 
the most inveterate opponents of Christianity, manifested a 
desire to have their children instructed. 69 It was Pinet's prac- 
tice to spend only the summer season at Chicago. The winters 
he spent with the missionaries lower down on the Illinois, or in 
following his charges on their annual hunt. 70 

" For the history of the Illinois Mission see Shea, Catholic Missions among the Indian 
Tribes of the United, States, chaps, xxii, xxiii. 

67 For a brief biographical sketch of Pinet see Jesuit Relations, LXIV, 278. Various 
references to Pinet scattered throughout the Jesuit Relations have been collected by Frank 
R. Grover in his lecture on Pinet and his mission of the Guardian Angel of Chicago, pub- 
lished by the Chicago Historical Society in 1007. 

" Letter of Gravier to Laval, September 17, 1697, Jesuit Relations, LXV, 52. 

" Ibid., 70; Shea, Early Voyages Up and Down the Mississippi, 53-54. 

* Jesuit Relations, LXV, 70; Shea, op. cit., 53, 59. 


The site of the mission of the Guardian Angel has long been 
a subject of misapprehension. Aside from the general allusions 
to the mission as being at Chicago, the document of chief impor- 
tance in determining its location is the letter of St. Cosme of 
January 2, i699- 71 He had passed during the preceding autumn 
and early winter, in company with a party of associates, from 
Mackinac to the Mississippi by way of Green Bay, the Chicago 
Portage, and the Illinois River route, and the letter is, in fact, 
a report concerning this trip. The party spent some time at 
Pinet's mission, detained by storms and other obstacles. From 
a study of this letter, as printed by Shea, Grover concludes that 
the mission was situated above the modern Chicago on the 
North Shore, near the present village of Gross Point. 72 

Shea's translation of St. Cosme's letter, however, frequently 
departs from the original manuscript. 73 Because of this fact, 
reference to the latter deprives Grover's argument of whatever 
force it might otherwise possess. 74 It shows that St. Cosme's 
party left the site of the modern city of Racine on October 17, 
and having been detained by wind, cabined three days later 
"five leagues from Chikagwa." This they should have reached 
early on the twenty-first, but a wind suddenly springing up from 
the lake obliged them to land "half a league from Etpikagwa." 
Here the priests left their baggage with the canoemen, and went 
"by land" to the house of Father Pinet, which they say was 
built on the bank of the little river, having on one side the lake 
and on the other a fine large prairie. On the twenty-fourth, 
the wind having fallen, they had their canoes brought with 
all their baggage, and, the waters being extremely low, placed 
everything not absolutely necessary for their further journey 
in a cache, to be sent for the following spring. Finally on the 

71 Printed in Shea, op. cit., 45 ff. " Grover, Pinet, 167 ff. 

" This is preserved in the archives of Laval University at Quebec. I have used an 
attested copy made "with the greatest possible fidelity" by Father Gosselin, archivist of 
Laval University, in the Chicago Historical Society library. 

74 Aside from the inaccuracy of Shea's translation of St. Cosme's letter, on which 
Grover bases his argument, he has made it the basis of a number of unwarranted and errone- 
ous conclusions. 


twenty-ninth they started from Chicago and encamped for the 
night at the portage, two leagues up the river. 

It is clear from this account that "Etpikagwa" was a point 
on the lake not more than fifteen miles north of Chicago; that 
here the party landed early on October 21, and the priests, 
leaving the boatmen behind, went by land to Pinet's house. 
Grover says that this shows the mission was not on the lake 
shore, and that they went inland to reach it; and he further 
assumes that they proceeded but a short distance. In fact, 
it shows neither of these things, and since three days elapsed 
before the canoes were sent for, there is nothing in the account 
inconsistent with the supposition that the priests proceeded 
a distance of fifteen miles down the lake shore in coming to the 

On the contrary, the account directly supports this supposi- 
tion. If the mission was inland near the Skokie marsh, as Grover 
supposes, they could hardly have had the canoes brought to 
it on the twenty-fourth. The supposition that it was located 
at the modern Chicago is strengthened by St. Cosme's account 
of the departure from Chicago. Having sent for the canoes on 
the twenty-fourth, the party started from Chicago on the twenty- 
ninth and camped for the night two leagues up the river at the 
beginning of the portage. They had been staying with Father 
Pinet, and Father Pinet was at "Chikagwa." Now they depart 
from "Chikagwa," and two leagues away, "where the little 
river loses itself in the prairies," and at the commencement of 
the portage they camp. Pinet's mission was, then, apparently, 
near the mouth of the Chicago River. Reverting to the descrip- 
tion already given of it as "on the bank of the little river, having 
on one side the lake, and on the other a fine large prairie," we 
find nothing to conflict with this conclusion. 

Finally, St. Cosme records that having made half of the 
portage they were delayed by the discovery that a little boy, who 
had joined the party, had wandered off. St. Cosme with four 
of the men turned back next day to look for him. Their quest 
was unsuccessful, and the next day being All Saints', St. Cosme 


was obliged to go and pass the night at Chicago. Mass having 
been said early, the following day was devoted to the search. 
Evidently the Chicago here referred to was not, as Grover sup- 
poses, located on the North Shore fifteen miles above the mouth 
of the river. On the contrary, it must have been within a reason- 
able distance of the portage where the boy was lost. From every 
point of view the study of St. Cosme's letter leads to the con- 
clusion that the mission of the Guardian Angel was on the 
Chicago River at some point between the forks and the mouth. 

The members of St. Cosme's party proceeded on their way, 
having left a man at Chicago in charge of some of their supplies, 
and without having found the lost boy. After spending the 
whiter among the tribes along the lower Mississippi, the party 
retraced its steps northward. 75 St. Cosme remained among the 
Tamaroas at Cahokia, while his companions continued on their 
way to Chicago, where they arrived on "maundy Thursday." 
One of them records that the boy who had been lost made his 
way to Chicago after thirteen days, utterly exhausted and "out 
of his head." In the spring of 1700 Father Pinet abandoned 
his mission at Chicago and joined St. Cosme at Cahokia, where 
he died a few years later. 76 Therewith Chicago ceased to be a 
place of residence for white men for almost a century. Owing 
to causes which will be set forth in the following chapter, the 
frequent visits made by the French in the seventeenth century 
ceased, and the story of Chicago during the first half of the 
eighteenth century concerns itself almost wholly with the 
terrible Indian wars which desolated the Northwest during this 

Much has been said and written on the subject of a fort at 
Chicago in the French period. In the Treaty of Greenville of 
1795 one of the cessions which General Wayne extorted from the 
tribes was a tract of land six miles square at the mouth of the 

" On the travels and experiences of the missionaries see their letters in Shea, Early 
Voyages Up and Down the Mississippi. 

'* Citations from the Jesuit Relations in Grover, Pinet, 162-64. The date of Pinet's 
death is variously given as 1702 and 1704. 


Chicago River "where a fort formerly stood." 77 Since the Eng- 
lish never had a fort at Chicago, the allusion is obviously to one 
belonging to the French. Thomas Hutchins, the first and only 
civil "geographer of the United States," 78 who himself had 
traveled extensively in the Northwest, placed an "Indian Village 
and Fort" at the entrance of the Chicago River on the map 
which accompanied his famous Topographical Description of 
1778. Many earlier maps might be cited to show the existence 
of a fort at Chicago in the French period. 79 Coming to secondary 
accounts, most of the local histories which treat of early Chicago 
with any degree of fulness credit the French fort tradition. 80 
Mr. Edward G. Mason, a zealous worker in the field of Illinois 
history, even thought there was a fort at Chicago from 1685 
until the end of French control in this region. 81 

Despite these numerous assertions, however, it is extremely 
doubtful whether the French ever had a regular fort at Chicago, 
and it can be shown conclusively that if so it existed for but a 
short period only. La Salle and Tonty passed by Chicago at 
various times and their movements are known during the entire 
period of La Salle's activities in Illinois. But for two exceptions, 
to be noted shortly, they nowhere speak of a fort at Chicago at 
this time, and the evidence that there was none, though negative, 
may be regarded as conclusive. There was no establishment at 

77 American Stale Papers, Indian Affairs, I, 562. 

w Hutchins, Topographical Description of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and 
North Carolina, 7. 

n E.g., Hennepin, Nouvelle decouverte d'un Iris grand pays silut dans I'Amfrique, Utrecht, 
1697, I, (facing) i. This map was frequently copied by others in the years following its 
first appearance. Jean Baptiste Homann's map of North and South America (copy in 
Chicago Historical Society library), of unknown date, but probably about the year 1700; 
Bellin, Carle de I'Amerique septentrionale, 1755; Jean Roque's map of North America. 

'" See among others Mason, Chapters from Illinois History, 163-64; Hurlbut, Chicago 
Antiquities, 164, 171, 360-61, 592; Blanchard, Discovery and Conquests of the Northwest 
with the History of Chicago, I, 68 (this work will be cited henceforth as The Northwest and 
Chicago) ; Davidson and Stuv6, History of Illinois, 260. Many other works and historical 
articles speak more or less briefly of the supposed French fort at Chicago; see for example 
Andreas, History of Chicago, I, 79; Shea, "Chicago from 1673 to 1825," in Historical Maga- 
zine, V, 103. 

"Mason, "Early Visitors to Chicago," 201-2. 


Chicago in 1687 when Cavalier La Salle's party was here vainly 
seeking to push on to Mackinac; nor in 1688 when the same 
party, having wintered at Fort St. Louis, again tarried at 
Chicago while on its way to Canada. There is no evidence that 
such a fort was established in the succeeding decade; and there 
is negative evidence to the contrary, both in the fact that St. 
Cosme makes no mention of a fort at Chicago at the time of his 
visit and that the French government gave only a grudging 
permission to Tonty to continue at Fort St. Louis, limiting his 
yearly operations to two canoes of merchandise, and finally, 
by royal decree, directing the abandonment of the fort. 82 

We have thus arrived at the beginning of the eighteenth 
century. Did the French have a fort at Chicago between the 
years 1700 and 1763? James Logan's report to Governor 
Keith in 1718, upon the French establishment in the interior, 
which was used by Keith in his memorial to the Board of Trade, 
so asserts. By the latter the statements of Logan were incorpo- 
rated in a report to the king, 83 and this, apparently, was the 
source of Popple's representation of a "Fort Miamis" at Chicago 
on his great Map of the British Empire in America of I732. 84 
In spite of this contemporary evidence, which has gained the 
approval of many historians, it may confidently be asserted that 
no such fort existed at Chicago in the eighteenth century. That 
there was no fort here in 1715 is shown by two independent 
sources. In November of this year, Claude de Ramezay, 
acting governor, and Begon, intendant of New France, in a 
report to the French minister dealing in part with the military 
situation in the region between the upper lakes and the Missis- 
sippi, recommended the establishment of several new posts. 85 
Among the number a post at "Chicagou" was urged, "to 
facilitate access to the Illinois and the miamis, and to keep those 

" Legler, "Henry de Tonty"; Winsor, Carder to Frontenac, 340. 

83 Printed in O'Callaghan, New York Colonial Documents, V, 620-21. 

84 Popple states that his map was undertaken with the approbation of the Lords of 
Trade; and that it is based upon maps, charts, and especially the records transmitted to 
them by the governors of the British colonies and others. 

85 Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVI, 327 ff. 


nations in our interests." If a fort already existed at Chicago 
the two highest officials in New France would have been aware 
of the fact, and there would have been no reason for this recom- 
mendation. In this same year, 1715, as part of an elaborately 
planned campaign against the Fox Indians of Wisconsin, the 
French arranged for the rendezvous at Chicago of forces from 
Detroit, from the Wabash, and from the lower Illinois River 
settlements. 86 A series of mishaps caused a complete mis- 
carriage of plans for the campaign; but these very mishaps show 
there was at all events no garrison at Chicago. The three 
parties which were to effect a junction here arrived at different 
times, and, ignorant of the movements of the others, each in 
turn abandoned the expedition and retired. Obviously if there 
had been a garrison at Chicago it would have constituted an 
important factor in planning the campaign; and the various 
bands which were to effect a junction here would have been 
informed, on their arrival, of the movements of the others. 

That there was no French establishment at Chicago in 1721 
is evident from the journal of Father Charlevoix. In this year 
he was touring the interior of America on a royal commission 
to examine and report to his king the condition of New France. 
His letters and history constitute the most authoritative 
eighteenth-century source for the history of New France. In 
the very month of September, 1721, when the British Board of 
Trade report was made, Charlevoix passed from Fort St. Joseph, 
where the city of Niles, Michigan, now stands, down the Kan- 
kakee and the Illinois to Peoria, and beyond. 87 He had first 
intended to pass through Chicago, but a storm on the lake, 
together with information of the impossibility of navigating the 
Des Plaines in a canoe at this season, led him to follow the route 
by the St. Joseph Portage and the Kankakee. His journal is 
detailed and explicit; he carefully describes the various posts 
and routes of communication. He had planned to pass by 

"Ibid., 3136. 

" Charlevoix, Histoire et description gtntrale de la Nouvelle France, avec le journal 
historique d'un voyage fail par ordre du rot dans I'Amtrique septentrionale, letters of September 
14 and 17, 1721. 


Chicago, and had informed himself concerning the portage and 
the Des Plaines River. Yet he gives no hint of a fort here, a 
thing incomprehensible if such a fort had in fact existed. 

There is abundant evidence in the sources pertaining to the 
operations of the French in the Northwest that they had no 
fort at Chicago after 1721. In connection with the Fox wars 
numerous campaigns were waged in which the Chicago garrison, 
if there had been such, would have participated. Yet no such 
force is ever mentioned, and some of the sources make it posi- 
tively evident that there was neither garrison nor fort here. 
In 1727 the holding of a great conference with the Foxes the 
following year at Starved Rock or Chicago was proposed. 88 
If this were done it was deemed necessary for the French to be 
first on the spot appointed for the rendezvous "to erect a fort" 
and otherwise prepare for the council. The project never 
materialized, however, and so the fort was not built. In 1730, 
when the French succeeded in trapping and destroying a large 
band of the Foxes in the vicinity of Starved Rock, 89 parties 
came to the scene of conflict from many directions from 
Ouiatanon, St. Joseph, Fort Chartres, and elsewhere; but none 
came from Chicago, although it was nearer the scene than any 
of the places from which the French forces did come obviously 
because there was no garrison at Chicago. In the early winter 
of 1731-32 a Huron-Iroquois war party passed from Detroit to 
St. Joseph and thence around the southern end of Lake Michigan 
and on into Wisconsin to attack the Foxes. 90 The party paused 
at Chicago long enough to build a fort in which to leave their 
sick. This "fort" was evidently a temporary Indian shelter, 
but it is also evident that if an ungarrisoned French fort had been 
standing here, the construction of such a shelter would have been 
unnecessary. An official list of the commanders of the various 
western posts a dozen years later is preserved in the French 
colonial archives. 91 The posts at Detroit, Mackinac, Green Bay, 
St. Joseph, Ouiatanon, and elsewhere are mentioned, but the 

" Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVII, 3-6. 

"Ibid., 109-30. "Ibid., 148-50. " Ibid., 432-33. 


name of Chicago is not included in the list. Finally an exhaust- 
ive memoir upon the posts and trade of the interior of the 
continent by Bougainville in 1757 includes no mention of a post 
at Chicago, although the neighboring posts which are known to 
have existed at this time receive careful attention. 92 

It is evident, then, that the French had no fort at Chicago 
during the eighteenth century. Did they have one here at any 
time during the seventeenth? Two exceptions to the proposi- 
tion that La Salle and Tonty make no mention of such a fort 
have been noted. In a letter written from the Chicago Portage, 
June 4, 1683, La Salle 93 speaks of a "fort" here, built by two of 
his men the preceding winter. This structure Mason describes 
as a "little stockade with a log house within its enclosure," 94 
and declares it to have been the first known structure of any- 
thing like a permanent character at Chicago. But a log hut 
constructed by two men and never garrisoned by any regular 
force hardly merits the designation of a fort in the ordinary 
acceptation of this term, even though it was surrounded by a 
stockade. Those who speak of a French fort at Chicago in this 
period refer not to this structure but to the "Fort of Chicagou" 
commanded by M. de la Durantaye in the winter of 1685-86. 

Our information concerning this fort is very scanty, being 
confined to a simple mention of it with the name of its com- 
mander, in Tonty 's memoir of i693. 9S At the end of October, 
1685, Tonty started from Mackinac in a canoe on Lake Michigan 
to go to Fort St. Louis on the Illinois River. Because of the 
lateness of the season his progress was rendered impossible by 
the formation of ice in the lake. This compelled him to return 
to Mackinac, whence he again set forth, this time by land, for 
Fort St. Louis. An earlier account of this trip than that of 
1693, but of equal brevity, was written by Tonty in the summer 
of I686. 96 It does not even mention Durantaye's "Fort of 

* Ibid., XVIII, 167 ff. " Margry, II, 317. 
94 Mason, Chapters from Illinois History, 144. 

** French, Historical Collections of Louisiana, I, 67. 

* Letter of Tonty to M. Cabart de Villermont, August 24, 1686, in Margry, III, 560. 


Chicagou," but it adds certain details concerning Tonty's trip 
which are of importance in determining the location of that 

Tonty was, of course, familiar by 1686 with both sides of 
Lake Michigan. In view of this fact it is extremely improbable 
that, having to go by land from Mackinac to Fort St. Louis in 
the winter time, he would make the long detour around the head 
of Lake Michigan and Green Bay and down the western side 
of the lake, rather than follow the shorter route down the eastern 
side and around its southern end. This reasoning finds support 
in the statements of Tonty of the distances he traversed. The 
entire distance from Mackinac to Fort St. Louis he gives as two 
hundred leagues, and states that after traveling one hundred 
and twenty leagues he came to Durantaye's fort. It was, 
therefore, eighty leagues from Fort St. Louis. The usual 
estimate of French travelers of this time of the distance between 
Chicago and Fort St. Louis was thirty leagues; 97 while the dis- 
tance overland from St. Joseph to Fort St. Louis was approxi- 
mately eighty leagues. It is incredible that Tonty would esti- 
mate the distance from Mackinac to Chicago by land at one 
hundred and twenty leagues, and that from Chicago to Fort 
St. Louis at eighty leagues, a distance two-thirds as great. The 
supposition that Durantaye's fort was on the St. Joseph River 
rather than the modern Chicago harmonizes well both with the 
probabilities of the case and the distances given us by Tonty. 

The foregoing reasoning is not, of course, absolutely conclu- 
sive of the location of Durantaye's "Fort of Chicagou." It is 
strengthened, however, by one other consideration. If such a 
fort was hi fact here in January, 1686, what had happened to it 
in the interval between this time and Cavalier La Salle's visit 
in the autumn of 1687 ? Joutel's narrative of the adventures 
of his party is given with a wealth of detail. Both in the autumn 
of 1687 and again in the spring of 1688 the traveler stayed at 
Chicago for several days. Not only does the narrative show 

" See for example St. Cosme's statement in Shea, Early Voyages Up and Down the 
Mississippi, 59. 


that there was no garrison or fort here, but it contains no men- 
tion of such an establishment at any previous time. 

The French had no fort at Chicago in the eighteenth century, 
then, and if they had one in the seventeenth century it could 
only have been a temporary structure which quickly disappeared. 
It remains to suggest an explanation of the origin of the wide- 
spread belief that there was a French fort at Chicago. It 
seems evident that it was due largely to the cartographers, who, 
residing for the most part in Europe, found themselves at a loss 
to interpret correctly the narratives of the explorers, which were 
themselves oftentimes confused and inaccurate, or lacking in 
detail. That the cartographers often labored in the dark, and 
that their work was frequently erroneous, will be apparent from 
a comparison of their maps with those of an authoritative 
modern atlas. The representations of the map-makers can no 
more be relied upon implicitly than can the narratives of the 
time; and there is as much reason in the one case as in the other 
for subjecting them to critical scrutiny. 

In the present instance the erroneous belief in the existence 
of a French fort at Chicago in the eighteenth century probably 
originated with Father Hennepin, the garrulous companion of 
La Salle. He had been at La Salle's Fort Miami on the St. 
Joseph, and had passed thence with his leader down the Kanka- 
kee and the Illinois. Yet his New Discovery, first published 
in 1697, contains a map 98 showing "Fort des Miamis" at the 
mouth of a stream emptying into the southwestern corner of 
Lake Michigan. It is obvious from a comparison of this map 
with the one in Hennepin's earlier work, the Description of 
Louisiana, published in 1683," that this representation is intended 
for the St. Joseph River and La Salle's Fort Miami, which, by 
a stupid blunder, have been transferred from the southeastern 
to the southwestern side of the lake. The New Discovery 

" For a reproduction of this map see Winsor, Narrative and Critical History, IV, 251; 
Hennepin, New Discovery (Thwaites ed.), I, (facing) 22. 

" For a reproduction of this map see Winsor, op. tit., IV, 249; Hennepin, op. tit., 
I, frontispiece. 


enjoyed widespread popularity, and numerous editions were 
issued during the following years, not only in French but also in 
foreign languages. Hennepin's maps, too, were widely copied 
in other works, and so the blunder with respect to the location 
of Fort Miami was perpetuated. Evidently this was the source 
of the error of Logan and of the many who in later times 
repeated his statements. Ignorant alike of the fact that Fort 
Miami had stood at the mouth of the St. Joseph and that it 
had been destroyed nearly forty years before, Logan located it 
at Chicago in 1718, adding the interesting information that 
it "was not regularly garrisoned." 



With the dawn of the eighteenth century the character of the 
annals of Chicago undergoes a radical change. The period which 
had just closed had been marked by great activity on the part of 
the French in the adjoining region. For a quarter of a century 
the Illinois River had constituted their chief highway from the 
Great Lakes to the Mississippi. Upon its placid bosom trader, 
priest, and warrior alike had plied their bark canoes. For the 
time being the Illinois realized La Salle's design for it of furnish- 
ing the connecting link between the two great river systems of 
New France. The Chicago River and Portage thus became an 
important feature in the geography of New France, although it 
shared with the Kankakee the sum total of travel by the Illinois 
River route. 

But already forces were at work which were to effect a com- 
plete readjustment of the Indian map of Illinois and Wisconsin, 
to shift the center of French influence hi this region from north- 
ern Illinois to its lower Mississippi border, and to furnish one of 
the interesting although much-neglected chapters in the history 
of the long struggle between France and England for the suprem- 
acy of the continent. An adequate understanding of the charac- 
ter and operation of these influences necessitates a brief review 
of the circumstances of their origin. 

In the year after the founding of Quebec, Champlain, the 
"Father of New France," engaged in an enterprise which proved 
to be fraught with f ar-reaching consequences for his countrymen. 
To gain the favor of the dusky neighbors of the infant colony he 
accompanied an Algonquin war party on a foray against then- 
ancient foes, the Iroquois. 100 The latter had never seen a fire- 

For this expedition and its results see Winsor, Narrative and Critical History, IV, 
117-21; 167-68. 



arm, and their warriors fled in terror before the death-dealing 
device of the white man. The Algonquins gained a temporary 
triumph, and Champlain gave his name to the beautiful lake 
which still bears it. But of greater moment was it that New 
France, almost at its birth, gained the undying enmity of the 

Before the death of Champlain, and largely due to his zeal, 
the French had extended their explorations and trading-houses 
to the Great Lakes. In 1634 Nicolet passed through the Straits 
of Mackinac to Lake Michigan, traversed Green Bay, and 
revealed to his countrymen the region now known as Wisconsin. 
But now ensued a lull hi the exploring activities of the French, 
and soon they were led to abandon their trading-posts on the 
lakes. The Iroquois had succeeded in establishing friendly rela- 
tions with the Dutch along the Hudson, and by them were pro- 
vided with guns and ammunition. 101 Thus armed they turned 
upon their enemies. The French had at first refrained from 
supplying their red allies with guns, and these now fell an easy 
prey to the combination of Iroquois courage and Dutch guns. 
In the ensuing years the Hurons were ruined, the Eries were 
exterminated, the region to the west, between the Ohio and the 
Great Lakes, was turned into a desert, and life was made a bur- 
den to the French of Canada. 

The expansion of New France was shortly resumed, but the 
hostility of the Iroquois operated powerfully to determine its 
course. By their victories the Iroquois secured possession of 
the upper St. Lawrence and of Lakes Erie and Ontario. The 
French were thus prevented from expanding southward. Their 
natural entrance to the Great Lakes by way of the upper St. 
Lawrence was closed, and they were forced to seek the upper 
lakes by the Ottawa River route to Georgian Bay. The alliance 
with the Algonquins, begun by Champlain, became general, and 
the French control over these tribes in the Great Lakes region 
was firmly established. The fur trade of the great interior thus 

Winsor, op. tit., chap, v; Turner, "Character and Influence of the Indian Trade in 
Wisconsin," 14. 


became the chief financial support of Canada. On the other 
hand the English succeeded to the Dutch trade and friendship 
with the Iroquois, and, working through them as middlemen, com- 
peted actively with the French for the trade of the Northwest. 

The effect of this combination on the execution of La Salle's 
designs has already been seen. The desire of the English to 
share in the fur trade of the Northwest furnished the principal 
motive for fomenting the wars between the French and the 
Iroquois. 102 Protection of his Indian allies against the Iroquois 
war parties was one of the conditions essential to the maintenance 
of La Salle's Illinois colony. The active competition of the Eng- 
lish for the fur trade of the interior shortly produced another 
result. Before the advent of the white man in America the 
Indian had been economically self-sustaining. 103 Contact with 
civilization speedily developed in him new wants and tastes 
without developing the corresponding ability to satisfy them. 
In the fur-bearing animals of his country, however, he possessed 
a source of wealth greatly prized by the European peoples. 
Hence the basis of the barter which constituted the Indian trade. 
In this barter the red man should have occupied a position of 
equality with the white, since each possessed articles valuable 
in the eyes of the other. But, as always in bargaining, where 
the parties are unequally matched, the Indian, less intelligent 
and less shrewd than the white man, and dependent on the 
supplies of the latter for his very existence, got the worst of it. 
As long as the French monopolized the trade of the Northwest, 
so long was their control over the Indians absolute. The 
entrance of the English into competition for this trade, by giving 
the Indian another market for his furs and another source of 
supply of the goods needed, tended to free him from this control. 

About the time of La Salle's death the Fox Indians of Wis- 
consin became disgruntled over the system of trade carried on 

"'Turner, "Character and Influence of the Fur Trade in Wisconsin," in Wisconsin 
State Historical Society Proceedings for 1889, 69. 

American State Papers, Indian Affairs, II, 181, 261; Turner, Indian Trade in 
Wisconsin, 32, 68. 


by the French, and in particular over the attempt of the latter 
to establish commercial relations with the Sioux, their ancient 
enemy to the westward. 104 By means of their strategic position, 
both geographically with reference to the Fox- Wisconsin water- 
way which they controlled, and with respect to their relations 
with the various tribes to east and west, they found it possible 
to deal with the French on somewhat even terms. In 1687 they 
threatened to pillage the post at Green Bay, and before the end 
of the century they had effectually closed the Fox-Wisconsin 
highway to the Mississippi to French travel. St. Cosme's party 
which visited Chicago in 1698 desired to follow this route, which 
would have been both easier and shorter. They were forced to 
take the "Chicago road," however, because the Foxes would 
permit no one to pass the northern route for fear they would go 
to their enemies. 105 

The story of the wars thus opened presents a dreary succes- 
sion of cruel deeds and bloody scenes, broken by intervals of 
inactivity, lasting for half a century. 106 The Foxes guarded with 
grim tenacity the Fox- Wisconsin highway; they seemed deter- 
mined to block every avenue by which the French might reach 
the Sioux, and for many years no one might pass between Canada 
and Louisiana except at imminent risk of his life. In part 
owing to ancient relationship, in part because of the logic of the 
situation, the Foxes entered into friendly relations with the 
Iroquois and were in turn encouraged by them in their contest 

>o4 Turner, op. cit. There were two reasons for their opposition to this trade. By 
supplying the Sioux with firearms and goods the French enabled them to carry on their 
contest with the Foxes on even terms. Furthermore the Foxes desired to play the role of 
middlemen in the trade between the French and the Indians farther west. As early as 
1675, according to Marquette (Jesuit Relations, LIX, 174), the Illinois Indians were trading 
in this way between the French and their own people, and already were acting "like the 
traders" and giving them hardly more for their furs than did the French themselves. 

' Shea, Early Voyages Up and Down the Mississippi, 49. 

' For a brief summary of the Fox wars and their results see Turner, Indian Trade 
in Wisconsin, 34-39. Fuller and more important accounts are given by Parkman, A Half 
Century of Conflict, and Hebberd, Wisconsin under the Dominion of France. The latter 
takes issue with Parkman in certain important respects. A large number of the original 
documents pertaining to the subject are printed in O'Callaghan, New York Colonial 
Documents, Vols. IX, X, and in Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vols. XVI, XVII. 


with the French. For a like reason they made war upon the 
Illinois, the faithful allies of the French, raiding their territory 
again and again, sometimes even to the walls of Fort Chartres, 
the great French stronghold of the upper Mississippi Valley. 
The Foxes were fewer but no less courageous than the terrible 
Iroquois, and the role they now played in the West was curiously 
similar to that so long enacted on a larger scale by the Iroquois 
toward the French. Their opposition became so intolerable to 
the French that repeated attempts were made to exterminate 
them. The Foxes were terribly punished, and for a long time 
their power seemed fairly broken, the survivors being driven to 
abandon their homes in Wisconsin and seek refuge beyond the 
Mississippi. But they were not exterminated, and the French 
were at last compelled to give up the attempt. The dominion 
of France in the Northwest was itself drawing to a close; and 
to its downfall the long struggle with the Foxes, with its conse- 
quent drain upon the treasury of Canada and the disaffection 
for the French engendered by it among the northwestern tribes, 
materially contributed. 

The first great event in the fifty-year contest occurred at 
Detroit in 1712. Before this post there appeared hi the early 
summer of that year a band of a thousand Outagamies or Foxes, 
three hundred of them warriors, the remainder women and 
children. Of the siege, and the destruction of the Foxes at the 
hands of the French and their red allies, which ensued, two 
accounts differing widely from each other have come down to 
us. 107 The official report of Dubuisson, the French commandant 
at Detroit, represents that the Foxes came with hostile intent, 
which was manifested in their conduct from the moment of their 
arrival. This report has been accepted by Parkman, whose 
account of the siege is in effect a paraphrase of it. 108 Yet in 
many respects its reliability is open to question. The very fact 
that the Fox warriors came incumbered with seven hundred 
women and children suffices to show that they were not engaged 

' For the documents see Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVI, 267 ff. 
' Parkman, Half Century of Conflict, chap. xii. 


in a hostile expedition. The other contemporary account of the 
affair, by DeLery, asserts it was due to a plot on the part of 
the French, designed to lure the obnoxious tribe to its destruc- 
tion. 109 This account differs from Dubuisson's report in other 
respects as well; among other things DeLery represents that the 
Foxes evacuated their fort on the eighth day of the siege, while 
Dubuisson states that this occurred on the nineteenth day. It 
seems impossible at this day, in view of our limited information, 
to decide between the two conflicting versions. Concerning the 
main facts of the destruction of the Foxes, however, the two 
accounts agree fairly well; since Dubuisson's is that of an eye- 
witness who was at the same time the commander of the French, 
and moreover since it is much more detailed than DeLery 's 
account, the following narrative of the siege is based upon it. 

The Foxes constructed a fort within fifty paces of the French 
post and began to conduct themselves with great insolence. 
Since Dubuisson's allies were absent upon their hunting expedi- 
tion, he felt compelled to submit to their indignities, until a 
party sought to kill two of the French within the fort itself. 
Then the commandant interfered and cleared the fort, but he 
was still compelled to temporize until the arrival of the Ottawa 
and other bands for whom he had hastily sent. 

Six hundred of the allied warriors shortly arrived, burning 
with for the destruction of the hated Foxes, whose warfare 
had been directed in turn against all the northwestern tribes 
except the Sacs, Kickapoos, and Mascoutens, their allies." The 
French distributed arms and ammunition to the warriors and 
the contest was promptly joined. Their war cries "made the 
earth tremble," but evidently the Foxes were not similarly 

" Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVI, 293-95. 

" The story of an affair which occurred in the vicinity of Chicago affords a concrete 
illustration of the misdeeds by which these tribes incurred the enmity of their neighbors. 
Three Miami squaws who had been captured by the Iroquois had effected their escape in 
consequence of the defeat administered to the Senecas by Denonville's expedition in 1687. 
Returning to their homes, the squaws encountered at the River "Chikagou" some Mas- 
coutens, who shortly before had assassinated two Frenchmen. The fear that the women 
would reveal this affair led the assassins to "break their heads." To add insult to injury 
they carried away the scalps of the women and gave them to the Miamis to eat, saying 


affected, for they replied in kind less than a pistol shot away, and 
the firing began. The Foxes were badly outnumbered and in 
sore straits for food and water, but their ancient reputation for 
bravery was not belied. The French erected towers from which 
they fired down into the hostile camp, driving the Foxes to seek 
refuge in holes in the ground. In this fashion the siege was 
pressed for nineteen days, with alternations of hope and despair 
on the part of the contestants. 

At one time the Foxes, perishing from thirst, adopted a ruse 
which smacks of the Homeric age. Covering their ramparts 
with scarlet blankets and erecting twelve red standards to 
attract attention, they addressed their opponents with taunting 
speeches. The great war chief of the Pottawatomies mounted 
one of the towers and began an eloquent reply, in which the 
character of the English, who were regarded as the sponsors of 
the Foxes, was severely handled. Meanwhile under cover of 
this oratorical contest the Foxes had crept out to secure a supply 
of water; seeing which, Dubuisson cut short the speech with an 
order to recommence firing and the chieftain's further opinion 
of the English was forever lost to the world. 

The Foxes soon made overtures to surrender, but the red foe 
was implacable for their destruction and the French commander, 
reflecting that they had been set on by the English to destroy 
him, and that "war and pity do not well agree together," 
abandoned them to their fate. Taking advantage of a stormy 
night the survivors made their escape and fled. Dubuisson 
spurred on the pursuit, however, and they were brought to bay 
a few miles away. A second siege ensued, terminating four days 
later in an abject surrender. No quarter was granted to the 
vanquished warriors; all but a hundred were killed, and these 
were tied, being reserved, evidently, for future torture. This 

that they were scalps of the Iroquois. For thus causing the Miamis to eat their own flesh 
the Great Spirit afflicted the Mascoutens with a malady which caused them and their 
children to die. Not satisfied with this divine vengeance, however, a party of Miamis came 
to Perrot in 1690 to tell him their story and obtain his assistance in a war against the Mas- 
coutens. The French were still engrossed in their struggle with the Iroquois, however, 
and the Miamis were compelled to nurse their vengeance until a more opportune time 
(Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVI, 145-46). 


pleasure was denied the victors, however, for all succeeded in 
making their escape. The conquerors returned to the fort with 
the enslaved women and children, where "their amusement was" 
to shoot four or five each day. The Hurons spared not a single 
one of their captives. "In this manner," concludes Dubuisson, 
"came to an end, Sir, these two wicked nations, who so badly 
afflicted and troubled all the country. Our Rev. Father 
chaunted a grand mass to render thanks to God for having pre- 
served us from the enemy." 

But this pious thanksgiving proved premature. The Foxes 
had suffered a great disaster, but only a portion of the tribe had 
been involved in it, and of this portion one-third of the warriors 
had escaped. The immediate result was that they turned on 
their foes with redoubled fury. Father Marest, writing only a 
week after Dubuisson's report was made, points out that, with 
their allies, the Foxes still number five hundred warriors. The 
French in this region will always have cause to fear an attack 
and travelers will always be in danger; "for the Foxes, Kicka- 
poos, and Mascoutens are found everywhere, and they are a 
people without pity and without reason."" 1 

The good Father's fears were amply justified. DeLery tells 
us that as soon as the Mascoutens and Kickapoos of the larger 
villages heard of the destruction of their allies, they sent out 
war parties to Green Bay, Detroit, and to all the routes of travel. 
Their Indian foes fled hi terror before them, and this went on 
until Louvigny brought about peace four years later. 112 These 
are the statements of an enemy of Dubuisson, but they are 
amply corroborated by official sources." 3 So great was the fear 
of the Foxes on the part of the other tribes that they preferred 
death from starvation in their cabins to the risk of meeting them 
on their hunting expeditions. It was this interference with the 
prosecution of the fur trade that chiefly excited the anger of the 
French. Ramezay, the acting governor of Canada, observes in 

Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVI, a8g. 

" Ibid., 2Q3-95. 

" See letters of Ramezay and Veudreuil, ibid., 300-307. 


a letter of September, 1714, that the merchants will this year 
have a gloomy confirmation of these conditions, seeing how little 
peltry has come down to Mackinac. 

In this same year the Foxes fell upon the Illinois and killed 
or carried off seventy-seven of them. 114 Veudreuil, the governor, 
had decided the preceding year that the Foxes must be destroyed 
and had intrusted the task to Louvigny, the former commander 
at Mackinac. 115 It was planned to establish peace between the 
Miamis and the Illinois, who were enemies in common of the 
Foxes, and then to lead all the northwestern tribes friendly to 
the French against the Foxes and their allies." 6 This project 
failed of execution, however, owing to the illness of Louvigny. 117 
De Lignery was therefore substituted as the leader, and a more 
elaborate campaign was devised. The Miamis, Ouiatanons, 
Illinois, and Detroit Indians were to rendezvous at Chicago under 
French leadership in the summer of 1715, while the coureurs de 
bois, the Ottawas, and the other northern tribes were to be 
gathered at Mackinac under De Lignery. The departure of the 
forces from these places was to be so timed that both would 
arrive at the Fox fort at the end of August. The detachment 
which arrived first was to invest the fort and then await the 
arrival of the second corps before attempting its reduction. To 
complete the plan, agents had been sent to the Sioux to urge 
them not only to refuse the Foxes an asylum, but to join the 
French in making war upon them. 

The campaign thus elaborately projected utterly miscarried, 
but its story deserves a place hi the history of early Chicago, 
none the less. The choice of Chicago as the place of rendezvous 
of the southern tribes was due, aside from the obvious conveni- 
ence of its location, to the game of all sorts which abounded 
here, on which the savages could easily subsist while awaiting 
the arrival of the Detroit contingent." 8 An epidemic of measles 
assailed the Ouiatanons, and the fickle savages promptly charged 

" Parkman, Half Century of Conflict, chap. xiv. 

"s Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVI, 298. 

"*Ibid., 303-7; 319-20. Ibid., 312-14. * Ibid., 319. 


the deaths which resulted to the French, who had come to lead 
them to the place of rendezvous." 9 They were cajoled into 
promising, however, that such as were able would go to Chicago, 
and a half-dozen Frenchmen were left among them to insure 
their arrival by the tenth of August. The remainder of the 
French went on to rouse the Illinois and lead them to the 

Meanwhile the measles continued to afflict the Ouiatanons, 
the death rate mounting to fifteen or twenty a day. Instead of 
the two hundred warriors that had been promised, the little band 
of Frenchmen were forced to depart on the overland march to 
Chicago with only one-tenth as many. 120 Their food supply was 
scanty, and the savages were restrained from hunting along the 
way by their fear of the Foxes, whose war trails leading toward 
Detroit were encountered. When they reached Chicago they 
found the Illinois and Detroit savages had not yet arrived; nor 
were there any signs of the canoes which were to have come from 
Mackinac to inform them regarding the march against the Foxes 
from that point. To add to their troubles two of their party 
were attacked by the measles, whereupon the whole band of 
Indians deserted the Frenchmen and returned to their homes. 
The latter, after waiting four or five days beyond the time set 
for the arrival of their comrades with the Illinois contingent, set 
out to meet them. In this they failed because of their ignorance 
of the route, and the little party found rest for the time being 
with the Indians at Starved Rock. 

Meanwhile, what had happened to the Illinois Indians ? The 
Frenchmen who had gone from the Ouiatanons to rouse the 
Illinois received a royal welcome from the Indians of the Rock, 
and, collecting their warriors, led a band of four hundred and 
fifty to Chicago, which was reached on the seventeenth of 
August. The leader was much mortified to find no one there 
and to get no news from Mackinac. To divert the savages and 
if possible to obtain news, scouts were sent out to a distance of 

11 Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVI, 322-25. 


thirty leagues. Their efforts were fruitless, however. On their 
return ten days later without any tidings, the Indians could 
be restrained no longer. They dispersed and the Frenchmen 
returned to Starved Rock, where they found their countrymen 
whom they had left among the Ouiatanons. 

One further act remains to complete this series of misfor- 
tunes. The coureurs de bois assembled at Mackinac, but the 
failure of the supplies which were expected from Montreal to 
arrive led to the abandonment of the northern end of the expedi- 
tion. 121 This explains the non-arrival of the canoes at Chicago, 
which had so disappointed the Ouiatanon and Illinois detach- 
ments. In ignorance of these various miscarriages the Detroit 
contingent arrived. From Chicago they proceeded to the 
Illinois village at the Rock, expecting to find there the French 
leaders of the enterprise. 123 They, however, were now at Kas- 
kaskia, overcome with illness. They could only send a mes- 
senger to urge the Illinois to join the Hurons and others who 
composed the expedition in a foray against the Mascoutens and 
Kickapoos, allies of the Foxes, who were hunting "along a cer- 
tain river." This was done, and in November the combined 
bands, accompanied by only two Frenchmen, fell upon the 
Mascoutens. The report of what followed must be taken with 
the usual allowance for statements which have an Indian 
origin. 123 According to their story they attacked the Mascoutens, 
who were stationed on a rock, and after a sharp battle forced 
their position, killing one hundred warriors and taking forty- 
seven prisoners, without counting the women and children. To 
conceal the route of their retreat the party went down the river 

' Ibid., 339- 

"Ibid., 341. That they came to Chicago is not directly stated, but I consider this 
a fair inference from this and the preceding documents. 

It is true there were two Frenchmen with the party, as already stated. But these 
had a direct interest in permitting the Indian reports to go uncorrected; one of them was. 
in fact, promoted for his participation in this expedition, and the other was an outlawed 
bushranger among the Illinois, whose "reprobate life" had been the subject of an indignant 
letter from the governor to the French ministry only the year before (Wisconsin Historical. 
Collections, XVI, 302-3). Now, apparently, a virtue was made of necessity, and he was 
urged to use his influence over the Illinois to induce them to join the Hurons in the proposed 


in canoes a distance of twenty-five leagues. In spite of this 
precaution they were overtaken on the eleventh day by four 
hundred men, "the elite of the Reynards." Though they num- 
bered but eighty, and were incumbered by the prisoners and 
wounded, they asserted that in a battle lasting from dawn till 
three o'clock in the afternoon they defeated the Foxes with 
great loss and pursued them for several hours. 

In the following year, 1716, the delayed project against the 
Foxes was executed. Louvigny was again intrusted with the 
command. 124 He left Montreal the first of May with two hun- 
dred and twenty-five Frenchmen, and two hundred more were 
to join him at Mackinac. 125 While en route they were joined 
by about four hundred Indian allies, and the whole party pro- 
ceeded by way of Mackinac and Green Bay to the country of 
the Foxes. The latter had gathered to the number of five 
hundred warriors and three thousand women and children in a 
fort protected by three rows of oaken palisades and a ditch, 
located on the Fox River some distance from Green Bay. This 
Louvigny besieged in regular European fashion, with trenches 
and mining operations. The Foxes fought with spirit, although, 
according to Charlevoix, both besiegers and besieged believed 
them to be on the brink of destruction. At the end of three 
days, however, a surrender was arranged, terms were granted 
the besieged, and the invading army marched away. 

The reason for this surprising outcome of the great expedition 
remains a matter of doubt to the present day. Louvigny 
asserted that the terms he imposed were so harsh that no one 
believed the Foxes would accede to them; and further, that his 
allies approved of the arrangement made. 126 The first of these 
statements is not worthy of serious attention, and the last the 
French Indians themselves indignantly denied. 127 The Fox 

4 Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVI, 328-30. 

"s Ibid., 342. For secondary accounts of this expedition see Hebberd, Wisconsin 
under the Dominion of France, 94 ff.; Charlevoix, History of New France (Shea transl.), 
V, 305 ff. 

Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVI, 343. 

"' Charlevoix, History of New France, V, 306. 


chieftain, Ouashala, later asserted that they could easily have 
escaped by means of a sortie by night, and that this had already 
been resolved upon. Possibly the real truth is that Louvigny 
was hampered by his instructions and that he feared to press the 
Foxes to the last extremity. It may be also that the reported 
approach of three hundred allies of the Foxes influenced his 
decision. Whatever the reason, the results from the expedi- 
tion were meager. The Foxes did not fulfil the terms of 
their agreement with Louvigny, and although they refrained 
from making war on the French Indians for a time, the situ- 
ation in the Northwest continued to be as intolerable to the 
French as ever. 

The lull which followed Louvigny's expedition was soon 
broken, and the restless feuds between the Illinois and the Foxes 
and their allies were renewed. In 1719 the Foxes were again at 
war with the Illinois, who seem this time to have been the aggres- 
sors. 128 When Charlevoix passed down the Kankakee and 
Illinois rivers in 1721, he devoted a considerable portion of his 
journal to a description of the dangers encountered along the 
way. 129 At Starved Rock he was filled with horror at the spec- 
tacle of the remains of two prisoners who had been burned 
recently. At Lake Peoria he was informed by some Canadians 
that his party was in the midst of four Fox war parties. A band 
of Illinois had recently encountered one of them, and each party 
had taken a prisoner. Here as at Starved Rock the priest was 
horrified by the spectacle of the wretch whom the Illinois had 
tortured to death. Notwithstanding Charlevoix's sturdy escort, 
commanded by the gallant St. Ange, 130 it was considered danger- 
ous for the party to proceed. It was strengthened somewhat 
and the resolution was formed to press on, but the horrors he 
had seen and heard so affected the good Father that for a week 
he was unable to sleep soundly. 

" Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVIII, 381, 429, 445, 447. 

" Charlevoix, Histoire . . . . dela Nouvelle France, VI, letters of September 17 and 
October 5, 1721. 

" For an account of St. Ange's career in Illinois see Mason, "Illinois in the Eighteenth 
Century," in Chapters from Illinois History. 


The Illinois now captured and burned the nephew of Oua- 
shala, the principal war chief of the Foxes. The latter avenged 
this by laving siege the next year to the Illinois stronghold of 
Starved Rock. They starved the defenders into a surrender, 
and then, to placate the French, spared their lives. 131 Returning 
to their own territory the leaders hastened to Green Bay to 
justify to the French commandant their action in going to war. 
Montigny blustered and assured them that whenever Onontio 132 
wished it they should "indeed die and perish without resource." 
To the French minister, however, Veudreuil admitted, in a 
report of the following year, that the Illinois directly, and indi- 
rectly the French, through their neglect to secure justice to the 
Foxes, were responsible for the hostilities. 133 It is evident from 
the reports of the French themselves that the Foxes were fre- 
quently treated unjustly by the French and their Indian allies, 
and that hi spite of this and their natural ferocity, they at times 
displayed admirable patience in enduring the impositions heaped 
upon them. 

For several years following 1725 divided counsels prevailed 
among the French with respect to the policy to be pursued 
toward the Foxes. 134 Some argued that they should be destroyed. 
Others agreed as to the desirability of this, but, dubious as to its 
practicability, counseled a policy of conciliation. The French 

For the original documents pertaining to this affair see Wisconsin Historical Collec- 
tions, XVI, 418-22, 428-31. 

"* The Indian designation for the French Governor. It was later applied also to the 
French King. 

Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVI, 420-30. An inaccurate description of the 
affray at Starved Rock is given by Charlevoix (History of New France, VI, 71). He states 
that the Illinois beat off the Foxes with a loss of one hundred and twenty men, having 
themselves lost only twenty. He adds that the attack determined the Illinois to abandon 
the Rock and Lake Peoria, and join their kinsmen who had already sought refuge at Fort 
Chartres. No check whatever now existed to the raids of the Foxes along the Illinois 
River, and communication between Canada and Louisiana by this route became more 
impracticable than ever. It is plain, however, in spite of Charlevoix's statements, that 
there were Illinois at the Rock during the following years. For references to them between 
1730 and 1736 see Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVII, no, 183, 251. At the latter date 
the Illinois village numbered fifty warriors. 

' See Parkman, Half Century of Conflict, chap. xiv. For the original documents see 
Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XVI. 


king first ordered their destruction, and then that they be let 
alone. A fitful peace was patched up for a time, but the receipt 
of information that the Foxes had promised English emissaries 
to kill all the French decided the latter to make war in earnest. 135 

The Foxes resisted desperately the attempt to exterminate 
them. 136 De Lignery led an expedition from Montreal in 1728, 
which on its arrival in Wisconsin numbered five hundred French- 
men and over a thousand Indians. To this invasion of her 
future sister state Illinois contributed a force of twenty French- 
men and five hundred Indians, who came by way of the Chicago 
Portage. The results of this great effort, however, were but 
slight. The Foxes abandoned their villages and retired before 
the French, who succeeded in capturing two squaws and an old 
man. The former were enslaved and the latter was roasted at 
a slow fire, to the scandal of Father Crespel, who expressed his 
surprise to the tormentors at the pleasure they derived from the 

Having burned the villages and ravaged the cornfields De 
Lignery retired, confessing his failure and placing the responsi- 
bility for it on the Illinois contingent, who should have come by 
way of the Wisconsin Portage instead of by Chicago, and thus 
have taken the Foxes in the rear. The forts upon Lake Pepin 
and Green Bay were evacuated, and Wisconsin was temporarily 
abandoned to the red man. The only recourse now before the 
French was to rouse against the Foxes the neighboring tribes, 
who by constantly harassing them might gradually wear them 
down. 137 This policy proved effective, and in 1729 the Foxes 
sued for peace. It was not granted, however, and meanwhile a 
chain of circumstances arising from De Lignery's humiliation 
of 1728 was weaving for them a disaster more terrible than that 
which had befallen them at Detroit in 1712. 

' Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVI, 476-77. 

* For the facts about ,the ensuing period see Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. 
XVII, editorial introduction and accompanying documents. Father Crespel's report of 
De Lignery's expedition is printed in Smith, History of Wisconsin, I, 330 ff . 

"7 Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVIII, xiii. 


When the French evacuated Fort Beauharnois 138 on Lake 
Pepin in 1728, they attempted to escape down the Mississippi 
to Fort Chartres, but were taken captive by the Kickapoos and 
Mascoutens, hitherto the allies of the Foxes, who had settled in 
eastern Iowa. 139 During the long captivity that ensued Father 
Guignas, one of the prisoners, succeeded in inducing their cap- 
tors to desert the Foxes and sue for peace with the French. 140 
Weakened by this defection the Foxes sought, by passing around 
the southern end of Lake Michigan and through the country of 
the Ouiatanons, who were well disposed toward them, to escape 
to the Iroquois. 141 The Kickapoos and Mascoutens reported this 
design to the nearest French posts, but, doubting the fidelity 
of their new allies, the settlers around Fort Chartres for a time 
declined to take the field. 

Confirmation shortly arrived in the shape of information that 
the Foxes had captured some of the Illinois near Starved Rock 
and had burned the son of the great chief of the Cahokias. On 
this St. Ange, the commandant of Fort Chartres, conducted an 
expedition against them. Parties of French and of savages 
gathered from all directions. From Fort St. Joseph came 
De Villiers and his son, the latter a mere youth, destined, a 
quarter of a century later at Fort Necessity, to defeat and cap- 
ture the youthful George Washington. 

In all some twelve or thirteen hundred French and Indians 
surrounded the doomed Foxes. The latter had intrenched 
themselves in a grove on the bank of a small river, some distance 
to the southeast of Starved Rock. 142 Under the direction of the 

Named for Charles Beauharnois, governor of New France from 1726 to 1747. He 
was reputed to be the natural son of Louis XIV, and it has sometimes been said, though 
apparently incorrectly, that the Empress Josephine was descended from him. 

J Narrative of De Boucherville, Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVII, 36 ff. 

"Ibid., 36 ff., no. 

M For the documents pertaining to this affair see Wisconsin Historical Collections, V, 
106-7; and XVII, 100-101, 109-30. 

Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVII, in, 115, 129. J. F. Steward (Lost Mara- 
mech and Earliest Chicago) locates this fort on the Fox River, in Kendall County, Illinois. 
This does not harmonize, however, with Hocquart's letter to the French minister, January 
iS 1731. describing the place and the destruction of the Foxes. 


elder De Villiers the siege was pressed with vigor. Both forces 
suffered from lack of food, but the necessity of the Foxes was 
naturally the greater. On the twenty-third day of the siege, 
under cover of a cold and stormy night they attempted to make 
their escape. Their design was revealed by the crying of the 
children and the besiegers promptly pursued them. As soon 
as daylight made it possible to distinguish friend from foe an in- 
discriminate slaughter began. The Fox warriors, weakened by 
hunger and long exertion and surrounded by overwhelming 
numbers, maintained their courage to the end. The women and 
children and old men walked in front, and the warriors stationed 
themselves in the rear between them and the enemy. But their 
line was speedily broken. Two hundred of the warriors were 
killed, besides an equal number of women and children. Some 
four or five hundred of the latter were taken prisoners and scat- 
tered as slaves among the various tribes. A few of the warriors, 
by throwing away their arms and ammunition, succeeded in 
escaping, but in such a plight that their fate was little preferable 
to that of the slain. 

The triumph of the French over the foe that had defied them 
for a generation was, apparently, complete. Even their Indian 
allies had been moved to pity by the plight of the Foxes, but no 
humane sentiment animated the subjects of the Most Christian 
King. 143 The extirpation of the hated race was decreed, and the 
savage allies were spurred on to the work of destruction. By 
drawing in the slaves from the nations to which they had been 
distributed, 144 the surviving Foxes managed to assemble a village 
of forty-five cabins the year after their overthrow at the hands 
of De Villiers. The Hurons of Detroit, ancient enemies of the 
Foxes, assumed the task of destroying this remnant of the tribe, 
and sent an invitation to the band of Christian Iroquois at the 
Lake of the Two Mountains to join them in the work. They 
accepted, and in the autumn of 1731 a band of forty-seven 

MI Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVII, xiv, 167-60,. 

'"The Illinois furnished an exception; their captives had all been put to death 
(ibid., 163). 


appeared at Detroit where they were joined by seventy-four 
Hurons and four Ottawas and the whole set out for Wisconsin. 143 

They followed the Indian trail to the mouth of the St. Joseph 
River and thence around the southern end of Lake Michigan to 
the Chicago Portage, where they built a fort and left in it some 
sick men with a guard to protect them. Some chiefs of the St. 
Joseph Pottawatomies came to them while here and promised 
if they would defer their expedition until spring they would join 
them. They declined to assent to this, and pushed on westward 
to the village of the Mascoutens and Kickapoos located on Rock 
River. According to the boastful report of the Indians, made 
on their return from the expedition, these were asked to join 
them but refused in terror. They were persuaded, however, to 
furnish guides to conduct the party to their former allies, but 
these prudently turned back before the village of the Foxes was 

Winter had now arrived and the party was suffering from 
hunger and the fatigue caused by the deep snow. A council was 
held and the old men favored turning back. The young men 
declined to accede to this, however, and so the party divided. 
The old men returned to Chicago, while the others to the number 
of forty Hurons and thirty Iroquois pushed on toward the Wis- 
consin, where they expected to find their quarry. After several 
days they came upon the Foxes, who promptly took to flight. 
For the story of what followed we have only the report of the 
victors, which is manifestly unreliable. It is repeated, there- 
fore, rather as furnishing a typical illustration of an Indian 
report of such an encounter than because of faith in the trust- 
worthiness of its details. 

The warriors, in hot pursuit of the fleeing quarry, were aston- 
ished on reaching the top of the hill at seeing in the valley before 
them, on the bank of the Wisconsin, the main village of the 
Foxes comprising forty-six cabins. From these the men streamed 
forth, arms hi hand, to the number of ninety, to meet them. 

Parkman (Half Century of Conflict, chap, riv) tells the story of the expedition. For 
the original documents pertaining to it see Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVII, 148-69. 


The chiefs of the attacking party exhorted their young men, 
volleys were exchanged, and the assailants threw aside their 
guns and with tomahawk and dagger drove the Foxes back into 
the village with great slaughter. One hundred and fifty were 
killed and an equal number made captive, while but ten escaped ; 
and these, quite naked, died of cold. 

This overwhelming victory is partly accounted for by the 
explanation that both parties to the contest fought on snow- 
shoes, and the Foxes, being less expert in the use of these than 
were the Hurons and the Iroquois, were placed at a great dis- 
advantage. Before the conflict the heathen Hurons, in spite of 
the remonstrance of the Christian Iroquois, "made medicine" to 
protect them from the hostile bullets and arrows. At the first 
volley the chief medicine man and four or five others of the 
Hurons were killed, while the Iroquois, who had prayed assidu- 
ously during the whole expedition and had placed all their 
reliance in the Master of Life, escaped unscathed. 

After the battle the victors released a wounded Fox warrior 
and sent him with six of the women to carry the pleasant mes- 
sage to the remaining villages that their chief village had just 
been eaten up by the Hurons and the Iroquois, who would 
remain there for two days; the Foxes were welcome to follow 
them, but as soon as they should see them they would "break 
the heads" of their women and children and make a rampart 
of their dead bodies, and would endeavor to complete the work 
by piling the remainder of the nation on top of them. Strangely 
enough it does not appear that this invitation was accepted. 

As usual the Fox version of this action was never told. We 
may well believe that another serious defeat was dealt them, for 
the war party returned to Detroit with one hundred captives 
and reported having killed some fifty on the way. Further than 
this we cannot safely go. The tribe was not exterminated, 
however much its power was broken. After the decisive over- 
throw of the Foxes in 1730 the French re-established the post of 
Green Bay, and hither, in 1733, came De Villiers, the leader in 
that conflict. In this same year Beauharnois, the governor, had 


again resolved that the Foxes must be exterminated. 146 De 
Villiers rashly attempted to seize some who had taken refuge 
with the Sacs and in the melee that ensued the commandant, 
together with his son and a number of the French, was slain. 147 
The Sacs, retreating, were followed by the French and a drawn 
battle ensued. 

The consequences of this embroilment were far-reaching. 
The Sacs were kinsmen of the Foxes, but hitherto they had held 
aloof from them and had submitted to French control. Together 
with the Foxes many now withdrew from Wisconsin and estab- 
lished themselves west of the Mississippi within the boundaries 
of the modern state of Iowa. From this time, therefore, dates 
the confederation of the two tribes. This migration did not end 
the struggle, however. The French felt that the affair at Green 
Bay must be avenged if they would retain their influence over 
the tribes of the Northwest. It was recognized that De Villiers' 
foolhardiness, rather than misconduct on the part of the Sacs, 
had occasioned his death, and it was therefore determined to 
pardon them on condition that they abandon the Foxes and 
return to their French allegiance. If they refused this repara- 
tion they were to be destroyed. 

In August, 1734, sixty Frenchmen under the command of the 
Sieur De Noyelles set out from Montreal for a winter expedition 
against the distant tribes. 148 The party was to go to Detroit, 
and from thence either by way of Mackinac or "in a strait line 
overland," according to circumstances. In addition to his sixty 
Frenchmen De Noyelles was accompanied by bands of Iroquois 
from the Lake of the Two Mountains and Hurons from Detroit, 
and in case he decided to follow the overland route from Detroit 
he was to arrange a rendezvous with Celeron who was to lead 
a mixed force of French and Indians from Mackinac. 

The ultimate failure of the expedition was decreed even before 
it started. The chief reliance for the punishment of the Sacs 

Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVII, 182. 
On this affair see ibid., pp. xv, 188-91, 200-204. 

For the documents pertaining to this expedition see Wisconsin Historical Collections, 
XVII, 206 ff. 


and Foxes was placed in the friendly Indians, who largely out- 
numbered the French. To provide even the small number of 
the latter which had been decided upon necessitated stripping 
Canada of one-tenth of her armed defenders. 149 The policy 
which had been determined upon with respect to the Sacs has 
already been indicated. In accordance with it De Noyelles was 
ordered to grant peace to them on condition that they give up 
the Foxes; otherwise he was to destroy both nations and to let 
his red allies "eat them up." 150 The expectation of enjoying 
this pleasure was the sole inducement for the Huron and Iroquois 
contingents to engage in the enterprise; yet they were deceived 
by De Noyelles as to the nature of his orders. When the Hurons, 
in council, stated that they would not march unless he had 
orders to destroy the Sacs as well as the Foxes, he replied, with- 
out further explanation, that he had orders "to Eat up both 
nations." 151 When this deception was discovered, the Hurons 
and Iroquois declined to assist De Noyelles further, and this, as 
will be seen, caused not only the failure of the expedition, but 
came near resulting in the complete destruction of the Frenchmen 
engaged in it. 

When De Noyelles reached Detroit it was decided to con- 
tinue overland. This involved passing around the southern end 
of Lake Michigan and through the tribe of the Ouiatanons, 
located on the upper Wabash. 152 Here it was learned that six 
cabins of the Sacs had established themselves on the St. Joseph 
River, having taken refuge here, in a region where the French 
influence was strongest, in token of their desire for peace. 
De Noyelles' Huron and Iroquois allies, however, having come 
out in search of Sac and Fox scalps, immediately declared their 
intention of going to "eat up" these six cabins. De Noyelles 
protested against this, explaining to them, apparently for the 
first time, his instructions to spare the Sacs who made their sub- 
mission to the French. In spite of all he could do the Hurons 

< Ibid., 208, footnote. Ibid., 200-10. ' Ibid., 256-57. 

"* The French established a fort near the site of the modern city of Lafayette, Indiana, 
about the year 1720. For its location and history see Oscar J. Craig, "Ouiatanon," in 
Indiana Historical Society Publications, Vol. II, No. 8. 


persisted in their design, and departed in a body to execute it. 
The Iroquois stayed with De Noyelles, but their disaffection, 
which in the end was to bring the expedition to naught, dates 
from this incident. 

The documents left us do not permit a detailed statement 
concerning the route followed from the country of the Ouiata- 
nons to the Mississippi. De Noyelles had planned to go by way 
of the Illinois, but this was given up because of the long detour 
it would necessitate. From the Ouiatanons he proceeded to the 
Kickapoo tribe, on leaving which five Sacs en route to the St. 
Joseph River were captured. Under threat of torture these were 
forced to guide the party to the Fox village. It is clear that the 
expedition rounded Lake Michigan and traveled in a general 
northwesterly direction. It is possible and even probable that 
it passed by the site of Chicago, as did the Huron-Iroquois party 
of 1731; but since the party was traveling overland on snow- 
shoes, and was thus not bound to follow the river courses, the 
route taken by it cannot be definitely known. 

From the prisoners it was learned that the Foxes had left 
their posts on the Pomme de Cigne River the modern Wap- 
sipinacon where they had established themselves on retiring 
from Wisconsin after the death of the two De Villiers, in 1733, 
and had withdrawn to the river Des Moines. On crossing the 
Mississippi, the supply of provisions having become low, the 
party was forced to content itself with one "very inferior" meal 
each day. On March 12 the Fox fort was reached; it was 
deserted, but the intense cold compelled a halt of two days, 
during which the party was entirely without food. Meanwhile 
reconnoitering parties had been sent out, and these now returned 
to report that they had seen smoke. The little army moved 
forward by night, crossing several rivers with the water up to 
the men's waists. A halt was made behind a hill and the men, 
wrapped in their robes, tired, wet through, and hungry, awaited 
the dawn. They then advanced again; the Indians, believing 
the goal was at hand, and that the hostile village numbered only 
four cabins, eager to have the honor of arriving first, proceeded 


at a run for four or five leagues, the Frenchmen following as 
best they could. The race ended on the bank of a wide and rapid 
river, full of floating ice. On the opposite bank stood the village 
they had come so far to seek ; but in place of four or five cabins 
it numbered fifty-five. 

The river was the Des Moines, the largest western tributary 
of the Mississippi above the Missouri; and the point where the 
village stood was sixty leagues from its mouth, in the vicinity, 
probably, of the modern capital of Iowa. Nontagarouche, the 
Iroquois war chief, proposed to De Noyelles that the whole party 
should swim across. This the latter declared to be impossible, 
on account of the cold. He further pointed out that they had 
only sixty men at hand, the others having scattered in search 
of the village, the tracks of whose occupants they had been 
following; and that, even if it were possible, the enemy would 
kill them as fast as they landed. He proposed, therefore, to 
reassemble the party and, as they were still undiscovered, to go 
higher up the river and construct rafts on which to cross over. 
They would then be in a position to attack the enemy with arms 
in their hands, and with some prospect of success. Nontaga- 
rouche replied that De Noyelles "was no man." At this the 
brave Frenchman's anger blazed forth. "Dog," he cried, "if 
thou art so brave, swim over and let us see what Thou wilt do." 

The chief did not immediately avail himself of this invitation, 
but his insubordination destroyed the last hope of a successful 
issue of the campaign. The details of the action that followed 
are not entirely clear, though its main features may be followed 
with assurance. The Iroquois, with some of the French, left the 
commander, who proceeded along the river about a league. 
Meanwhile others of the army, probably some of those who had 
spread out in search of the hostile village, had crossed the river 
on a jam of driftwood and logs, and joined battle with the 
enemy. The advance party, consisting of seven Frenchmen and 
twenty-three Indians, thus found itself confronted by two hun- 
dred and fifty Sacs and Foxes. Onorakinguiah, an Iroquois 
chief from the Sault St. Louis, cried out: "My French and 


Indian brothers, we are dead men, but we must sell our lives very 
dearly and not let ourselves be captured." They fought so 
fiercely that the foe was at first driven back. On perceiving the 
small number of their opponents, however, they pressed forward 
with the design of surrounding them, seeing which the French 
and Iroquois in turn retreated, fighting as best they might. One 
of them ran to report the situation to De Noyelles, who had 
crossed the river and returned to the village which he found had 
been deserted. On receiving the report of the plight of the 
advance guard he sent forward all of the men who were with 
him, with word that he would join them with the main body as 
soon as it should arrive. A half -hour later he moved forward 
with such as had joined him in the meantime, and the combat 
was continued for several hours. 

Toward nightfall the Foxes attempted to scalp the wounded 
on the other side. This led De Noyelles to order his force to 
fall back in search of a suitable spot to fortify. A detachment 
of fifty men was made to continue the fighting and cover the 
work of the remainder while constructing the fort. Meanwhile 
the contingent of Kickapoos observed the contest from a near-by 
eminence, debating, as De Noyelles feared, whether they should 
join forces with the enemy. 

The next day through the instrumentality of the disaffected 
Iroquois a council was held with the Sacs. They informed 
De Noyelles that but for the fact that the French had attacked 
them, and for the small number of Frenchmen, they would have 
surrendered; but that as the French were inferior in number to 
the Iroquois they feared the latter, when they were at a distance 
from the Foxes, would "put them in the Kettle." According 
to his own story, De Noyelles adopted in reply the tone of a 
conqueror. The Sacs were told they might come forth in per- 
fect safety, and were promised protection from the Iroquois. 
In truth, De Noyelles had so little control over his allies that he 
could not protect his own soldiers from being beaten by them 
before his face. This fear removed, however, the Sacs discovered 
other obstacles. The weather was too cold for their women and 


children to travel; if the Sacs really had any desire to join the 
French the project was effectually prevented by the Foxes. 
They informed their allies that in case they deserted to the 
French they would immediately "eat" their women and children. 

For four days longer the French faced their foe. During 
this time they were sorely beset by hunger, their menu consisting 
of twelve dogs and a horse; this supply being exhausted, they 
were reduced to eating their moccasins. The Iroquois now 
proposed to abandon them, and De Noyelles was forced to give 
up the enterprise. He covered his failure as well as possible by 
sending a "collar" 153 to the Sacs offering to grant them their 
lives on condition that they desert the Foxes and return to their 
old homes at Green Bay. This the Sacs promised to do. The 
French then retired and made their way to Fort Chartres. 154 

The expedition had extended over seven months of time 
during which the party had traversed hundreds of miles of wilder- 
ness in the dead of winter, exposed to the inclemency of the 
elements, and much of the time in immediate peril of starvation. 
At the end, confronted by two hundred and fifty Sacs and Foxes, 
and with disaffection rife among his Indian allies, De Noyelles 
had been compelled to give up and retreat. The only immediate 
result was the infliction of a slight loss upon the enemy in the 
battle, and the promise of the Sacs to abandon the Foxes and 
return to Green Bay. Both the governor and the intendant 
joined in approval of the conduct of De Noyelles, the inten- 
dant expressing his surprise that Frenchmen should be able to 
endure the hardships which his party had surmounted. 155 The 
governor declared that the savages admitted the courage of the 
French to be equal to every obstacle, and that they would seek 
the enemy "at the end of the world." 156 

'" A belt to accompany a formal communication of a public character. 

For the narrative of this expedition I have drawn chiefly upon the report of De 
Noyelles, printed in Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVII, 221-30. It differs from the 
report of Hocquart, the intendant, in some respects, but aside from the fact that De Noyelles 
was the leader of the expedition while Hocquart remained in Canada, the latter had an 
interest in misrepresenting the facts, in order to minimize as much as possible the failure 
which had occurred. 

ss Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVII, 232. Ibid., 219. 


With the failure of De Noyelles' expedition the French felt 
constrained to resort to a policy of conciliation. Grave fears 
were entertained for a time lest the failure should have a disas- 
trous effect upon their authority throughout the Northwest 
generally. If the dispatches of the governor and the intendant 
of Canada are to be credited, however, no such result manifested 
itself. But scattered here and there throughout the dispatches 
of this period are intimations that all was not going well with the 
French, and the truth seems to be that the long contest with the 
Foxes, with its attendant consequences, had greatly weakened 
their hold upon the northwestern tribes. It is plain from their 
own dispatches that the French did not dare to attempt the 
extermination of the Sacs; nor, even after all the disasters 
which they had suffered, to prosecute further the policy of exter- 
minating the Foxes. The latter sued for peace, but at the same 
time succeeded in entering into a new alliance with the Sioux 
who promised them an asylum in case of need. 157 Beauharnois, 
the governor, sagely concluding that "there Was danger in 
driving the Reynards to despair," offered to pardon them on 
condition that they disperse among the other tribes and that no 
mention ever be made of the name of the Reynards, "who had 
so often Disturbed the earth." 158 

The French found it impossible, however, to carry out even 
the new policy of mildness toward the obnoxious tribe. Their 
efforts to compel the Sacs to return to their old home near Green 
Bay were unsuccessful. Various excuses were given: the land 
had lost its fertility on account of its being stained with the blood 
of the French and of themselves. Probably the real reason, how- 
ever, was the one given by some spokesmen of the Sacs and 
Foxes who had settled on Rock River, at a conference held in the 
spring of 1739. They stated that they had determined to return 
to "LaBaye" as Onontio had desired them, but they had been 
told by many French and savages that the French desired their 
return only in order that they might the more easily slaughter 

IT Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVII, 258-59. *>' Ibid., 258, 275-76. 


them, and that an army of French and their allies was already 
prepared for this purpose. 159 

Whatever truth there may have been in this at the time, the 
Foxes could hardly be blamed, in view of what had gone before, 
for their suspicions. Their alliance with the Sioux was con- 
tinued and the tribes in common made war upon the Chippewas 
and the Illinois, both allies of the French. 160 The Foxes took 
the further precaution of entering into an understanding with 
the Iroquois, similar to that already entered into with the Sioux, 
which secured them an asylum hi time of need. 161 They were 
thus prepared, in case of a new French attack, to retreat in either 
direction to safety. 

That these precautions, and the suspicions of French treach- 
ery toward them, were not without reason, is shown by the dis- 
patches of Beauharnois. In a speech to the representatives of 
the Sacs and Foxes at Montreal in July, 1743, the Governor 
assured them he had no hostile disposition toward them, and 
urged them not to listen to the "evil words" that came to them 
from the St. Joseph River. 162 He further directed that the bands 
located at Chicago, Milwaukee, and on Rock River should join 
those who had returned to their old home near Green Bay. 163 
Yet he had secretly planned an expedition for the year 1742 to 
destroy them, and the project had been approved by his advisers 
on the ground that for several years the French Court had had 
"nothing so much at heart" as the destruction of the Foxes. 164 

That the French did not dare to execute this program is 
sufficiently evident. Their power in the Northwest was totter- 
ing, and in 1743 Beauharnois confessed that he was powerless 
to hinder the union of the Sioux with the Foxes. 165 The tribe 

'"Ibid., 320. 

Hebberd, Wisconsin Under the Dominion of France, 147. 
161 Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVII, 339. 

161 This refers to the French who came from the St. Joseph to carry on a trade, appar- 
ently illicit, with the Foxes at Chicago and Milwaukee. 
163 Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVII, 404-5. 
' Ibid., 338-39- I6s Ibid., 43S-38- 


whose destruction had so often been decreed and so many times 
attempted could at last defy the French with impunity. A few 
years later the disaffection among the Indians for the French 
culminated in a widespread revolt. 166 Even the Illinois, with 
whom allegiance to the French had become proverbial, for a time 
inclined to join it. The danger was surmounted for the time 
being but the struggle of the French to maintain themselves 
was shortly transferred to a far wider field. In the upper Ohio 
Valley they joined in deadly combat with the English. The 
immediate stake was the control of the Indian trade of the Mis- 
sissippi Valley, and so, appropriately enough, the contest was 
inaugurated by a descent on Pickawillany, the center of influence 
of the English traders in the Northwest, by a band of French 
Indians led by the young Wisconsin half-breed fur trader, 
Charles de Langlade. 167 The larger stake was the commercial 
and political supremacy of three continents and all the seas. 
The struggle was accordingly waged on a world-wide scale. 
When it ended the dominion of France in North America had 
passed forever. We shall have occasion still to deal with the 
French, whose influence long persisted in the Northwest, but 
henceforth the shaping of the destiny of Chicago and the tribu- 
tary region rested with the Anglo-Saxon. 

i6 Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVII, 456-69, 478-93. 
6? Turner, Indian Trade in Wisconsin, 40-41. 



The years from 1754 to 1760 witnessed the overthrow of the 
power of France in the new world. For the fourth time in two 
generations England and France had joined in deadly combat. 
Twice the issue ended in a drawn contest; twice France was 
overwhelmed, and the English gained a decisive victory. Each 
of these great wars had its American counterpart, and the out- 
come of each was reflected in the disposition made in the treaty 
of peace of the territories of the warring nations in America. 
At the close of the two drawn contests there were no territorial 
changes. By the Treaty of Utrecht, which closed the Spanish 
Succession War, however, England made substantial territorial 
gains in North America at the expense of her defeated rival. 
Finally, by the Treaty of Paris of 1763, which registered the 
results of the Seven Years' War, France lost all of her vast 
American possessions on the mainland. Canada passed into 
the hands of the English, while the imperial domain of Louisiana, 
in the establishment of which La Salle and Tonty and many 
another intrepid Frenchman had toiled and died, was divided; 
all that lay west of the Mississippi was given to Spain, while the 
portion drained by the eastern tributaries of that stream fell to 
the English. 

What the dividing line between Canada and Louisiana had 
been in the French period is not easy to determine. Nor is it 
necessary to our purpose to do so, for whether it had belonged 
to Canada or Louisiana, the region tributary to Chicago, since 
known as the old Northwest, was now the property of England. 
Her civilized rival crushed, however, another foe arose to resist 
the assumption by England of possession of her new-won terri- 
tory. The idea of passing under the control of the English was 
extremely distasteful to a large proportion of the northwestern 



Indians. Under the leadership of Pontiac a conspiracy was 
formed in the spring of 1763 to wipe out in a day all the English 
posts from Pennsylvania to Lake Superior. 168 The execution of 
this terrible project stopped short of complete success. Fort 
Pitt and Detroit withstood the attacks of the savages. But 
Green Bay and Sault Ste. Marie were abandoned; the forts at 
Mackinac, Sandusky, Miami, St. Joseph, Ouiatanon, Presqu' 
Isle, and Venango were taken; and over two thousand frontier 
settlers were slain. 

The storm had not broken entirely without warning, and the 
effort to relieve the posts that still held out and to subdue the 
obstreperous savages was promptly begun. In August Colonel 
Bouquet threw a relieving force into Fort Pitt, having beaten 
off the savages at Bushy Run in a bloody battle of two days' 
duration. The following season two armies were sent into the 
Indian country between the Great Lakes and the Ohio. A force 
under Bradstreet passed by way of Niagara and the southern 
shore of Lake Erie to Detroit, from which place detachments 
were sent out to take possession of Sault Ste. Marie, Mackinac, 
and Green Bay. In the fall of 1764 Bouquet with the second 
army crossed the Ohio River and advanced into the valley of 
the Muskingum where, in November, the tribes of the surround- 
ing region were forced to subscribe to the terms of peace which 
the invader imposed upon them. 

Not until another year had passed did the English gain 
possession of the country bordering on the Illinois and the 
Wabash. 169 A force of four hundred men with which Major 
Loftus attempted to ascend the Mississippi to Fort Chartres in 
the spring of 1764 was defeated and driven back, when only two 
hundred and forty miles above New Orleans. A year later 
Lieutenant Fraser was sent down the Ohio from Fort Pitt to 
warn the tribes and the French of the prospective approach of 

The classic account of these events is Parkman's Conspiracy of Pontiac. For a 
brief narrative see Winsor, Mississippi Basin, chaps, xxii, xxiii. 

' For the facts given here I have relied on Winsor, Mississippi Basin. Edward G. 
Mason has written charmingly of these events in his Chapters from Illinois History. 


a force of troops which was to follow after him. He succeeded 
in reaching the Illinois villages, but was glad to flee in disguise 
down the Mississippi. He owed his life to the protection of 
Pontiac, but before granting it that terrible chieftain had "kept 
him all one night in dread of being boiled alive." 170 A second 
herald now set out, in the person of the redoubtable George 
Croghan, to descend the Ohio from Fort Pitt to Fort Chartres. 
Near the mouth of the Wabash, however, he was seized by a 
band of Indians and carried prisoner to Vincennes. He was 
subsequently released at Ouiatanon, and made a treaty with 
the neighboring tribes; proceeding to Detroit he repeated his 
success with the savages there, and then returned to Niagara. 
On the receipt of Croghan's report of his success in treating with 
the Indians, a force of one hundred and twenty Highlanders of 
the famous Black Watch Regiment proceeded down the Ohio 
from Fort Pitt, and on October 10, 1765, at Fort Chartres of 
the Illinois, in the heart of the Mississippi Valley, the last banner 
of France east of the Mississippi was hauled down. "The lilies 
of France gave place to the red cross of St. George, and the long 
struggle was ended." 171 The control of the British over this 
region which was thus at last established was to continue 
unchallenged by a civilized power less than a decade and a half. 
The old Northwest, to which Chicago belonged, did not par- 
ticipate actively in the Revolutionary struggle during its earlier 
stages. At the beginning of the war the British were, of course, 
in possession of all the Northwest. The vantage points from 
which they directed the affairs of this region were, in general, 
the old French posts, now occupied by British garrisons. Among 
these may be named Detroit, Mackinac, Fort Gage, and Cahokia. 
The first named of these was easily the most important center 
of British influence in the Northwest, being looked upon as the 
headquarters of the posts and the key to the fur trade and to 
the control of the Indian tribes of this region. 173 The fort was 

" Mason, op. cit., 234. Ibid., 235. 

172 James, "Indian Diplomacy and Opening of the Revolution in the West," in 
Wisconsin State Historical Society, Proceedings, 19(39, 125. 


defended by a palisade of pickets and contained at the beginning 
of the year 1776 a garrison of one hundred and twenty men. 
In the town and country adjoining were three hundred and 
fifty men, mostly French, capable of bearing arms; and to com- 
plete the tale of Detroit's military resources, there floated in the 
river opposite the fort several tiny public vessels with crews 
aggregating thirty "seamen and servants." 

The only other considerable centers of white population in 
the Northwest were the old French posts on the Wabash, 
Ouiatanon and Vincennes, and, most populous of all, the settle- 
ments along the eastern shore of the Mississippi from the mouth 
of the Missouri to the mouth of the Ohio, on what later came to 
be known as the "American Bottom." At Ouiatanon, at the 
beginning of the Revolution there were about a dozen French 
families. 173 Vincennes had, in 1776, according to the report of 
Lieutenant Fraser, about sixty farmers. 174 This would imply a 
total population of between two and three hundred, and this 
estimate is borne out by a "census" of Indiana of 1769. This 
lists the names of sixty-six "Inhabitants" and states that in 
addition there are fifty women and one hundred and fifty chil- 
dren "belonging to the Inhabitants." 175 There were, at this 
time, fifty men capable of bearing arms, and during the next 
half-dozen years the population increased somewhat. 

In the Illinois settlements of the American Bottom in 1778 
there was a population of about one thousand whites, and as 
many Indians and negroes. 176 The more populous settlements 
were Cahokia, with three hundred white inhabitants, and 
Kaskaskia, with five hundred whites and almost as many 

" Indiana Historical Society, Publications, II, 338. 
74 Ibid., 410. 

ITS Ibid., 439. Hamilton, who captured the place in 1778, states, however, that he 
found 621 inhabitants of whom 217 were able to bear arms (Michigan Pioneer and Historical 
Society Collections, IX, 495). This work will be cited henceforth as Michigan Pioneer 

'" For an account of these settlements see the introduction to the Cahokia Records, 
Illinois Historical Collections, II, pp. xiii ff. 


For the rest, the vast region which now teems with a popula- 
tion as prosperous and as highly civilized as any on the face of 
the globe was a wilderness. The Indian tribes could muster, 
according to the usual estimates, about eight thousand warriors, 
which would imply a total population several times as large. 177 
The Chippewas alone numbered over half of this total. Our 
interest, however, is concerned rather with certain of the smaller 
tribes. Around the southern end of Lake Michigan, with a 
village at Chicago but with their principal seat on the St. Joseph 
River, were the Pottawatomies, numbering some four hundred 
warriors. To the south and southeast of these, in the modern 
states of Indiana and Ohio, were the Miamis, Shawnees, and other 
tribes, who were to contest the possession of the Northwest with 
the Americans even more fiercely than did Great Britain herself. 
To the north, at Milwaukee, was located a "horrid set of refrac- 
tory Indians," according to the picturesque language of Colonel De 
Peyster, which seems to have been composed of the off-scourings 
of various tribes and bands. To the west and northwest, in 
northern Illinois and the state of Wisconsin, were the descend- 
ants of the Sacs and Foxes, the Winnebagoes, and other tribes. 

The advancing wave of English settlement pouring into the 
upper Ohio Valley had precipitated the French and Indian War. 
As yet this tidal wave of civilization had not crossed the Ohio, 
although it had spread out along its eastern valley as far south 
as Tennessee. The most important point along this extensive 
frontier was still, as in the days of the old war, Fort Pitt at the 
Forks of the Ohio. 178 It was the center, therefore, from which 
radiated the American efforts to control the northwestern tribes, 
just as, at a later date, it afforded the principal gateway through 
which the flood of civilization poured into this region. 179 

The Americans at first strove to secure the neutrality of the 
Indians in the impending contest. But the disposition of the 

" James, op. tit., 137; Walker, The Northwest during the Revolution, 12. 
" James, op. tit., 126. 

"On the rival efforts to control the northwestern tribes in the early period of the 
Revolution see ibid., 1 25 ff. 


red man did not permit him to stand idly by while a war was 
going on, and the British more wisely directed their efforts to 
securing his active support. This policy was shortly copied by 
the Americans, and soon the perplexed red men were being plied 
with rival solicitations for alliance, accompanied by correspond- 
ing threats of punishment and prophecies of disaster which were 
to follow their failure to comply. The British urged them on to 
assail the outlying settlements of the American frontiers, counsel- 
ing humanity to the vanquished, but effectually nullifying this 
counsel by offering rewards for all scalps brought in. Lieutenant- 
governor Hamilton at Detroit was particularly zealous in hound- 
ing the Indians on to the work of devastation. 180 The Americans, 
to their honor, offered rewards for prisoners but none for scalps. 
Two courses of action were open to the Americans in view of 
this situation. They might endeavor to punish the hostile 
Indians by launching retaliatory expeditions against them; or 
they might by capturing Detroit, from whence issued alike the 
supplies for the marauders and payment for the scalps they took, 
destroy the opposition at its fountain-head. 181 The latter course 
was urged by Colonel Morgan, the Indian agent for the Middle 
Department, a man of much experience among the Indians of 
the Northwest. The reasons which he advanced in support of 
this policy and against the alternative one were telling, 182 but 
his advice went unheeded. Seeing this, and believing a general 
Indian war was about to be precipitated, he resigned his office; 
the control of the Western Department passed into incompetent 
hands, and it seemed probable that the western frontier was 
about to be overrun by the British and Indians when an impor- 
tant diversion occurred. The advent of the Virginia "Hanni- 
bal," George Rogers Clark, in the Illinois country, compelled the 
British at Detroit to turn their attention to the defense of the 
Northwest, and shortly of Detroit itself, against the invader. 

" James, op. cit.; Thwaites, How George Rogers Clark Won the Northwest, 8-10. 
Hamilton himself vigorously denied the charges of inhumanity which the Americans pre- 
ferred against him. Michigan Pioneer Collections, IX, 400. 

" James, op. cit., 141-42. "' For a statement of them, see ibid. 


In 1776 Clark had cast in his lot with the young settlements 
of Kentucky. 183 These were nominally a part of Virginia, but 
in fact they were too remote to receive much protection from the 
mother colony. It was congenial, too, to the spirit of the Ameri- 
can frontiersman to depend upon himself, and Clark, who had 
come to the conclusion that the only means of obtaining safety 
was to carry the war into the enemy's country, was one of those 
who favored action independently of authorization from the 
government of Virginia. 

Other counsels prevailed, however. The protection of the 
parent colony was sought, and as a result the Virginia Assembly 
declared the extension of its authority over the region and in 
December, 1776, created the county of Kentucky. 184 The next 
summer Clark learned from spies whom he had sent into the 
Illinois settlements that the French settlers were lukewarm in 
their allegiance to Great Britain and that only a few of them 
were participating in the raids against the Americans, which, 
fomented from Detroit, made these settlements their starting- 
point and base of operations. Fired by these reports with the 
purpose to conquer the Illinois settlements, he proceeded the 
same summer to Virginia. Here he laid his project before 
Governor Henry and received his authorization to raise and 
equip a force of troops for the work, and with this and a scanty 
supply of money he returned to Kentucky and launched the 

In the spring of 1778 Clark collected a little army of about 
one hundred and fifty men at Redstone, now Brownsville, 
Pennsylvania, and dropped down the Monongahela and Ohio, 
taking on supplies and reinforcements at Pittsburgh and other 
places along the way. At the Falls of the Ohio, where the 
metropolis of Kentucky now stands, he paused long enough to 

Ig 3 Many of the original documents pertaining to Clark's career in the Northwest have 
been printed in the Illinois Historical Collections, Vol. I; the Michigan Pioneer Collections; 
and the Wisconsin Historical Collections. Among the secondary accounts may be men- 
tioned Dunn, Indiana; Winsor, Westward Movement, chap, viii; Thwaites, How George 
Rogers Clark Won the Northwest. 

8 Winsor, Westward Movement, 116. 


build a blockhouse on Corn Island. On June 24, while the sun 
was obscured by a great eclipse, the journey was renewed, the 
objective being Kaskaskia, the principal settlement of the Illi- 
nois country. At Fort Massac the little party landed and began 
the overland march of one hundred and twenty miles to Kas- 
kaskia. On the way the hunter who had been engaged to guide 
them lost his bearings. This created some excitement, and 
caused Clark, who suspected treachery, to threaten him with 
death unless he found the way that evening. In this he suc- 
ceeded, and accordingly the afternoon of July 4 found the party 
within three miles of the goal. 

Clark halted his little army until nightfall, when he advanced 
to a farmhouse a mile from the town, and seizing the family 
secured information of the conditions that prevailed there. 
Thus armed, the party moved forward in two divisions and 
surrounded the place. We may safely dismiss to the limbo of 
myth the romantic story of Clark's appearance, alone, at the 
ball where garrison and villagers were disporting themselves, and 
his dramatic announcement to the merrymakers that the dance 
might go on, but it must be under the banner of Virginia. 185 
The story betrays too conspicuously the handiwork of the 
romancer. It is clear, however, that garrison and townsmen 
were completely surprised, and surrendered without a blow being 
struck or a gun fired. By a judicious mixture of bluster and 
leniency Clark soon succeeded in gaining the hearty support of 
the villagers. One of his most effective allies was the priest, 
Father Gibault, who assured Clark that although, by reason of 
his calling, he had "nothing to do with temporal business, that 
he would give them such hints in the Spiritual way, that would 
be very conducive to tnc business." 186 

"s On this see Thwaites, op. dl , 28-31. I have drawn freely on this reference and on 
Winsor, Westward Movement, for the facts concerning Clark's expedition. 

i<6 Thwaites, op. cit., 33. That he kept his promise is sufficiently attested by Hamilton, 
who describes him as a "wretch," "who absolved the French inhabitants from their alle- 
giance to the King of Great Britain," and "an active agent for the rebels & whose vicious 
& immoral conduct was sufficient to do infinite mischief in a country where ignorance & 
bigotry give full scope to the depravity of a licentious ecclesiastic." Michigan Pioneer 
Collections, XIX, 487. 


The Cahokians readily followed the lead of the Kaskaskians 
in submitting to Clark's rule; so, too, did the inhabitants of 
Vincennes, to whom Father Gibault went as an emissary of 
Clark. Thus far Clark's success had been unchecked; as far 
as the French settlers were concerned, the British power had 
crumbled. But the Indians were still to be reckoned with, and 
the British at Detroit to be heard from, and Clark's resources 
were pitifully inadequate for the task in hand. Even a large 
part of his Virginia troops abandoned him on the expiration of 
their term of enlistment. With such as consented to remain, 
augmented by enlistments on the part of the French whom he 
had come to conquer, Clark maintained his position throughout 
the winter. None knew better than he how to combine in the 
right proportions terrible energy, braggadocio, tact, and cajolery. 
Friendly relations were established with De Leyba, the Spanish 
commander at St. Louis. The Indians were handled so adroitly 
that an "Amazeing number" flocked in from five hundred miles 
around to treat for peace and learn the will of the Big Knife 

Meanwhile on August 6, 1778, the news had come to Hamilton 
at Detroit of the capture of Kaskaskia, and he promptly began 
preparations for the recovery of the posts that had been lost. 187 
On October 7 he set out from Detroit by boat with nearly two 
hundred whites, chiefly volunteers, and three hundred Indians. 
The destination was Vincennes, and the route followed led up 
the Maumee and down the Wabash River. Although expedition 
was all-important, the progress made was tedious and slow. 
Not until December 17 was Vincennes reached. On the news 
of Hamilton's approach the French militia of Captain Helm, 
Clark's representative, deserted him. Again, as in the case of 
the capture of Kaskaskia by Clark, a melodramatic tale is told 
of the capture of the fort. Helm, with his garrison dwindled to 
a single man, is represented as standing, lighted match in hand, 
by a well-charged cannon which he has placed in the fort gate, 

"" For Hamilton's own narrative of his course see Michigan Pioneer Collections, IX, 
489 ff. His correspondence is printed in Illinois Historical Collections, I, 330 ff. 


halting the British force, and surrendering with the honors of 
war. The story is without adequate historical foundation and 
may properly be dismissed as a pleasing bit of fiction. 

Although Vincennes surrendered without resistance, the 
delays which had been encountered proved fatal to Hamilton's 
project. If he had pushed on to Kaskaskia at once it seems cer- 
tain that Clark must have succumbed. But winter having now 
arrived, Hamilton decided to remain at Vincennes until spring, 
when he would not only retake the Illinois settlements but turn 
the tables on the invaders by sweeping the Americans from 

Pending the arrival of spring, the greater part of Hamilton's 
force was dispersed. Not until the last of January did full news 
of the situation at Vincennes and the projected vernal attack 
upon Kaskaskia come to Clark. As soon as he had quelled the 
panic which the tidings caused among the Kaskaskians, he pro- 
jected a counter-assault upon Vincennes. An armed galley was 
sent around by water, down the Mississippi and up the Ohio and 
the Wabash to a point ten leagues below Vincennes, where it was 
to await the arrival of Clark, who, meanwhile, would lead a force 
overland across Illinois. The story of the difficulties encountered 
and vanquished on the march of this little force across the Illinois 
swamps and prairies surpasses many a flight of fiction. It was 
February and a thaw that had set in had flooded the lowlands 
and driven away the game. To the fatigues and discomforts of 
wading swollen rivers and marching through boggy and often- 
times "drowned" land in midwinter were added the pangs of 
hunger. The last stage necessitated the crossing of miles of 
bottom land overflowed to the depth of three feet and upward 
by the swollen waters of the rivers. Here the sufferings of the 
party were such that Clark avers that the bare recital of them 
would be "too incredible for any Person to believe except those 
that are well acquainted with me." 

It had been Clark's purpose to take the garrison by surprise 
but on learning from some villagers whom he captured that the 
force of British and French largely outnumbered his own, and 


that the villagers were not ill-disposed toward the Americans, 
he changed his plan. Fearing that in the fight that would doubt- 
less ensue some of the French and Indians would be slain and 
that this would embitter the rest, he determined to bluff the 
garrison and the town into a surrender. Halting his little army 
in sight of the town, but concealed from the view of the garrison, 
he sent a menacing letter ahead, designed to awe the townsmen 
into submission. At nightfall, with the garrison still ignorant 
of his approach, Clark's men moved into the village. The 
Creoles greeted them with enthusiasm, and the fickle Indians, 
who made up the larger portion of Hamilton's force, either 
offered to join Clark or drew aside to await the issue of the 
contest between the palefaces. 

The British had been attracted by the commotion and the 
discharge of guns, but not until a sergeant received a bullet in 
the breast did they know whether to attribute the cause to some 
jollification or to the arrival of the "Virginians." Throughout 
the night and early morning Clark's riflemen harassed the gar- 
rison. About eight o'clock, while his men stopped for breakfast, 
a summons to surrender was dispatched to Hamilton. It was 
received by the garrison with mingled feelings of defiance and 
despair. According to Hamilton, the British assured him they 
would stick to him "as the shirt to my back," while the French 
"hung their heads." The firing was resumed, but later in the 
day Hamilton agreed to surrender. The next morning, February 
25, 1779, the fort changed hands and name as well, for the 
Americans now christened it Fort Patrick Henry, in honor of the 
governor of Virginia. 

Clark's ultimate goal was the capture of Detroit, but with his 
small force and scanty supplies he could not at once move for- 
ward. While waiting for reinforcements he applied himself 
vigorously to the work of governing his newly won territory, 
establishing satisfactory relations with the Indians, and preparing 
the way for the greater exploit which he was destined never to 
perform. To this work the ensuing spring and summer were 


Meanwhile certain events were taking place in the region 
west of Lake Michigan and the vicinity of Chicago which now 
demand our attention. When Hamilton began preparations for 
his expedition in the autumn of 1778, he sent word to De Peyster, 
who commanded at Mackinac, to raise the Indians tributary to 
that post and co-operate with him by an expedition down the 
Illinois River. 188 Many of the Indians who frequented Mackinac 
had dispersed, however, and the lateness of the season rendered 
those who could be reached indisposed to engage in such an enter- 
prise. Nevertheless De Peyster, whom Winsor describes as "a 
somewhat rattle-brained person, given to writing illiterate letters, 
but in some ways an enterprising and prudent commander," 189 
did what he could. He sent Langlade, the man who had 
destroyed Pickawillany in 1752, to the Ottawas and Chippewas 
in Michigan, and Gautier to the Pottawatomies of St. Joseph, 
to lead them to Hamilton's assistance. At the same time he 
suggested to Haldimand the project of sending an Indian party 
from Green Bay by way of the Fox-Wisconsin route and the 
Mississippi, directly against the Illinois posts. The Grand 
River Indians declined to start until spring, and Gautier did not 
reach St. Joseph until December. What few Pottawatomies 
could then be raised were taken on by Louis Chevalier, a trader 
who resided among them; Langlade returned to Green Bay and 
Gautier to his station on the Mississippi, carrying speeches and 
belts to exhort the Indians to be ready for an expedition in the 
spring. 190 

During the winter Hamilton sent orders to Langlade at 
Green Bay requiring him and Gautier to join him early in the 
spring in an attack upon Kaskaskia. 191 Langlade was to proceed 
from Green Bay down Lake Michigan, and thence by way of 
the Illinois River, while Gautier was to gather the Indians from 
the upper Mississippi and descend that stream. Thus a grand 

Illinois Historical Collections, I, 364. 

i! Winsor, Westward Movement, 130. 

190 Wisconsin Historical Collections, XI, 122-23. 

'' Illinois Historical Collections, I, 436-38. 


converging attack from three directions would be made on the 
Illinois settlements. How Hamilton took and then lost Vin- 
cennes has already been seen. In ignorance of the latter occur- 
rence, Langlade set out from Green Bay with a band of Indians, 
and proceeded as far as Milwaukee. 192 Here they learned the 
news of Hamilton's capture, which so disheartened the Indians 
that they refused to go farther. Clark's emissaries were in the 
neighborhood, purchasing horses and threatening to be at 
"Labaye" soon with three hundred men, but Langlade's Indians 
were so disaffected that he was unable to capture them. 193 

Gautier's experience was even more discouraging. With a 
party of two hundred Indians, made up of Foxes, Ottawas, and 
others, he crossed by the Fox and Wisconsin rivers to the Mis- 
sissippi, and proceeded down that stream as far as the mouth of 
the Rock. 194 Here a party of Sacs whom he stopped to harangue 
not only mocked his arguments and threats but had the "insol- 
lance" to force him to release one hundred and twenty of his 
followers. Other bands whom he addressed replied by threaten- 
ing to carry news of his measures to the "Bostonnais," as the 
Americans were called. Like Langlade, therefore, he was forced 
to return to Green Bay. 

The news of Hamilton's surrender filled the British at Detroit 
and Mackinac with forebodings of an immediate attack. Appeals 
were sent to Haldimand for reinforcements, while the defenses 
at the two posts were put in readiness to withstand an assault. 195 
The Indians reported to De Peyster that the "Virginians" were 
building boats near Milwaukee, and also that they were near 
Chicago, but it shortly developed that these statements were the 
inventions of some "evil minded" Indians. 196 De Peyster pro- 
fessed not to care how soon "Mr. Clark" might appear, provided 
he "come by Lake Michigan & the Indians prove staunch & 

ibid. ibid. 

M Wisconsin Historical Collections, XI, 126. 

"s Michigan Pioneer Collections, IX, 387 et passim; James, " Some Problems of the 
Northwest in 1779," in Essays in American History, 62. 

"* Illinois Historical Collections, I, 436. 


above all that the Canadians do not follow the example of their 
brethren at the Illinois who have joined the Rebels to a man." 197 
Since there was little likelihood that these conditions would be 
realized, it is evident his confidence was not very deep-seated. 

Meanwhile Clark, as a part of his preparations for the pro- 
jected attack upon Detroit, dispatched Captain Linctot, a 
trader who had recently joined the Americans, and who was 
influential with the Indians, up the Illinois River with a company 
of forty men to secure the neutrality of the Indians, and to cover 
the design of his main expedition. 198 On learning this, and that 
Linctot had reached Lake Peoria, De Peyster sent Gautier with 
a party of Indians with orders to burn the fort, hoping thus to 
intimidate the Americans from attempting an expedition by 
this route. 199 A few days after receiving this information a 
report came to De Peyster from St. Joseph to the effect that the 
Americans were about to send seven hundred men against 
Detroit by way of the Wabash River, and four hundred cavalry 
under Linctot were to come up the Illinois and thence by St. 
Joseph to co-operate with them. 200 In consequence of this intel- 
ligence he detached Lieutenant Bennett with twenty men from 
his little force to go, with sixty traders and canoemen and two 
hundred Indians, to intercept Linctot, or to harass the "Rebels" 
in any way possible. 201 At the same time Langlade was ordered, 
July i, 1779, to raise the savages of 1'Arbre Croche, 202 Milwaukee, 
and other places along the shore of Lake Michigan and join 
Bennett at Chicago, or if he should have passed that point, to 
hasten to join him before he should reach Peoria. 203 

Bennett carried a war belt a yard and a half long, containing 
twelve thousand wampum beads, and early reports received from 

" Illinois Historical Collections, I, 437. 

Michigan Pioneer Collections, IX, 389; James, "Some Problems of the Northwest 
in 1779," op. cit., 378 

'" Michigan Pioneer Collections, IX, 389. 

" Ibid., 300. "' Ibid. 

"' A mission village on Little Traverse Bay, at this time occupied by a band of Ottawas. 
See Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVIII, 253, 375. 

"j Ibid., 375-76. 


him were to the effect that the savages were joining it "fast." 204 
De Peyster himself accompanied Langlade as far as 1'Arbre 
Croche, where, on July 4, he harangued the assembled Indians. 
At a later date he gave vent to his poetical propensities by turn- 
ing this speech into rhymed verses which constitute one of the 
literary curiosities of the English language. 205 Its chief interest 
for the history of Chicago consists in the allusion to Baptiste 
Point Du Sable, who is said to have already established himself 

From Peoria Linctot and his party crossed the country to 
Ouiatanon, there to join Clark in his advance. He reached 
there in August, accompanied by a large concourse of Indians. 206 
By this time Clark had abandoned the idea of an immediate 
advance on Detroit. Linctot, therefore, conceived the idea of 
attacking St. Joseph, to which place Bennett's party had mean- 
while come. 207 He sent a message to Vincennes for reinforce- 
ments, but the French refused to respond, and the projected 
attack was abandoned. 208 

Bennett was sufficiently involved in difficulties, however, 
without interference from Linctot. On reaching St. Joseph, 
July 23, he threw up a slight intrenchment and sent out bands 
of Indians toward Peoria, Ouiatanon, and the Miamis, to learn 
of his opponents' movements and harass them if practicable. 209 
These parties shortly returned in a disaffected state without 
having seen the enemy. On July 26 Bennett sent a message to 
Detroit informing Captain Lernault of his movements and offer- 
ing to co-operate with him in any practicable operation. While 
waiting an answer the greater portion of his Indians, having 

> Michigan Pioneer Collections, IX, 391 ; Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVIII, 390. 

"i Printed in De Peyster's Miscellanies; it may also be found, with editorial notes, 
/h Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVIII, 377-90. 

"' Said to have numbered 6,000, but this is obviously a gross exaggeration. (Wis- 
consin Historical Collections, XVIII, 376.) 

" Ibid., 286, 398. 

Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVIII, 376; Michigan Pioneer Collections, 
XIX, 467. 

Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVIII, 398. 


consumed his supplies and rum, deserted. Langlade, meanwhile, 
arrived with sixty Chippewas, who conducted themselves with 
even greater insolence than the others. Finding himself helpless 
to accomplish anything Bennett abandoned St. Joseph about the 
middle of August and returned to Mackinac. 210 

Active military operations in the Northwest for the year 
1779 were now at an end. Late in the year De Peyster was sent 
to Detroit to take the place of Hamilton, who had been sent 
by his captors to languish in a Virginia prison. Lieutenant- 
governor Patrick Sinclair was sent by Haldimand to succeed 
De Peyster at Mackinac. 2 " On the American side Clark had 
retired to the Falls of the Ohio, his first base of operations in the 
Northwest. Upon the declaration of war against Great Britain 
by Spain in 1779, the British proceeded to plan a comprehensive 
campaign which would sweep the whole western American 
frontier from Canada to Florida and result in destroying the 
power of both Spain and the colonists in the Mississippi Valley. 212 
From Pensacola in the South and Detroit in the Northwest as 
centers of operation, the British forces were to converge upon 
lower Louisiana, having taken St. Louis en route. Meanwhile, 
to cover these operations, De Peyster from Detroit was to ad- 
vance on Clark at the Falls of the Ohio by way of the Maumee 
and Wabash rivers. The execution of this comprehensive 
program was rendered impossible, even before its initiation, by 
the enterprise of Galvez, the Spanish governor at New Orleans. 
In a series of operations extending over two years of time, he 
cleared the British out of the lower Mississippi Valley, concluding 
the process by the capture of Pensacola in May, i78i. 213 

Meanwhile, ignorant of the successes of Galvez in the South, 
the British forces stationed in the Northwest began, early in the 
year 1780, the execution of their part of the general plan of 

"' I have drawn this narrative from Bennett's Journal, in Wisconsin Historical Col- 
lections, XVIII, 398-401, and the other sources cited above. 

" Winsor, Westward Movement, 142. 

a F or a statement of this project see James, "Significance of the Attack on St. Louis," 
in Mississippi Valley Historical Association Proceedings, II, 199 ff. 

"i Ibid., 203-4. 


operations. The campaign was initiated by Sinclair, who early 
in February sent a body of Indians to engage the noted Sioux 
chief, Wabasha, to descend the Mississippi to Natchez with his 
two hundred warriors. 214 About the middle of the same month 
Sinclair ordered Emanuel Hesse, a trader who had formerly 
served in the British army, to assemble the Sacs, Foxes, and 
other Wisconsin Indians at the Fox- Wisconsin Portage and pro- 
ceed with them to the mouth of the Wisconsin, where the Indians 
from the upper Mississippi would join them in a descent upon 
St. Louis. 215 The services of Matchekewis, who had massacred 
the garrison at Mackinac in 1763, but who now was zealously 
serving the British, were also enlisted, 216 and it was planned that 
Langlade with a chosen band of Canadians and Indians should 
join a party gathered at Chicago and lead them down the Illinois 
River. Another party was to "watch the Plains" between the 
Wabash and the Mississippi, 217 while still another and larger 
expedition from Detroit under the command of Captain Henry 
Bird was to descend the Wabash to "amuse" Clark at the Falls 
of the Ohio. 218 Sinclair believed St. Louis could easily be sur- 
prised and taken, and that the traders who would profit by the 
English thus gaining control of the rich "furr Trade" of the 
Missouri River would give their assistance to the enterprise. 219 
On May 2, 1780, the force gathered at the mouth of the Wis- 
consin, consisting of about a thousand men, Indians, traders, 
and servants, began the descent of the Mississippi. 220 The news 
of its approach was carried to St. Louis by a trader, and the 
Spaniards made hasty preparations for defense. 221 De Leyba, 
the governor, ordered a wooden tower to be erected at one end 

" For a secondary account of this campaign see ibid. For the original documents 
pertaining to it see Wisconsin Historical Collections, III, XI, XVIII; Michigan Pioneer 
Collections, IX; Missouri Historical Collections, II, No. 6. 

"> Wisconsin Historical Collections, XI, 147-48. 

'Ibid., 151. i Ibid. 

" Winsor, Westward Movement, 171; Michigan Pioneer Collections, X, 372, 377, 305. 

* Wisconsin Historical Collections, XI, 148. 

MO James, " Significance of the Attack on St. Louis," in Essays in A merican History, 205. 

>" Missouri Historical Collections, II, No. 6, 45; Wisconsin Historical Collections, 
XVIII, 407. 


of the town in which he placed five cannons, and intrenchments 
were constructed at the other exposed places. To man these 
defenses he had a force of twenty-nine regular soldiers and two 
hundred and eighty-one countrymen. On May 26 the hostile 
forces appeared and a vigorous firing began, to which the besieged 
replied with their cannon. "Then were to be heard the con- 
fusion and the lamentable cries of the women and children who 
had been shut up in the house of the commandant, .... the 
dolorous echoes of which seemed to inspire in the besieged an 
extraordinary valor and spirit." 222 Finally the besiegers aban- 
doned the assault on the town itself, and devoted their attention 
to ravaging the surrounding country, where they killed or cap- 
tured a number of farmers and their slaves. The Spaniards 
reported a loss of twenty-nine dead and wounded and twenty- 
four prisoners at St. Louis itself, in addition to forty-six taken 
captive in minor forays which attended the invasion. 233 Sinclair, 
on the other hand, reported that sixty-eight of the enemy were 
killed at St. Louis and eighteen taken prisoners." 4 

The attack having failed, the British began their retreat. 
According to Sinclair the defeat was caused by the treachery of 
the traders and part of the Indians. The attempt to surprise 
the Spaniards was a failure, and in the actual assault the Sacs 
and Foxes, led by certain of the traders, proved treacherous. 223 
Another, and possibly the chief, reason for the retreat of the 
British was the arrival of George Rogers Clark at Cahokia with 
a small body of men shortly before the attack on St. Louis 
began. 226 Although he took no part in the fight at St. Louis, his 
presence at Cahokia across the river was probably an important 
factor in determining the British to give up the enterprise, and 
he promptly organized an expedition to pursue and punish the 
retreating forces. 

*" Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVIII, 408. 

M Ibid., 409. The British while proceeding down the Mississippi had captured an 
armed boat with thirteen men near the mouth of the modern Turkey River, and in a side 
expedition to the lead mines seventeen more were taken (Wisconsin Historical Collections, 
XI, 151). 

" Wisconsin Historical Collections, XI, 156. 

"s Ibid., 155-56. "'James, op. cit., 210-13. 


The British forces retreated in two divisions, one up the Mis- 
sissippi, the other overland to Lake Michigan and Mackinac. 227 
Clark now learned of the advance of the force from Detroit upon 
Kentucky and made haste to return to its defense, having ordered 
Colonel Montgomery to follow and harass the forces retreating 
from St. Louis while the Indians were still demoralized from 
their recent defeat. 228 Montgomery with three hundred and fifty 
men advanced up the Illinois River as far as Lake Peoria, 229 and 
then crossed to Rock River, destroying the crops and villages of 
the Indians on his way. At this point he was compelled to stop 
through lack of provisions, and his retreat to the French settle- 
ments was attended with great hardship and suffering. 

The fortunes of the party led by Langlade by way of Chicago 
remain to be told. While proceeding down the Illinois it learned 
of the advance of Montgomery's force and thereupon beat a 
hasty retreat. 230 At Chicago the party was rescued from 
threatened destruction at the hands of a band of Indians in the 
"Rebel" interest by a relieving party which Sinclair had sent 
down Lake Michigan in two small vessels. Sinclair reported to 
Haldimand that five days after the vessels left Chicago two 
hundred Illinois cavalry arrived there, 231 but this was evidently a 
mistaken rumor caused by the advance of Montgomery's expedi- 
tion, which, as has been seen, came no farther than Lake Peoria. 

The fugitives from the St. Louis expedition had no sooner 
gained shelter at Mackinac than Sinclair began to plan for a 
new attack on the Illinois settlements 232 the following year. The 

"' Michigan Pioneer Collections, IX, 558. 
" Virginia State Papers, III, 443. 

"'Montgomery says he went "to the Lake open on the Illinois River" (Virginia 
State Papers, III, 443). Peoria was variously designated at this time as the Pee, Pey, 
Opie, etc. This designation is said- to have originated as a corruption of the French words 
au pied, used with reference to the foot of the lake. Montgomery's "Lake open" was, 
apparently, but another variant of the original French form. 

ao Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVIII, 411; Michigan Pioneer Collections, XI, 558. 
" Michigan Pioneer Collections, XI, 558. 

J The settlements on both sides of the Mississippi were referred to as the settlements 
of the Illinois. In Navarro's official report concerning the attack on St. Louis in 1780 that 
place is designated "San Luis de Ylinoises" (Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVIII, 407). 


services of Wabasha were engaged anew, and Sinclair assured 
Haldimand that one thousand Sioux would be in the field under 
his leadership by April, lySi. 233 To insure that secrecy the 
absence of which had proved so disastrous to the expedition of 
1780, Wabasha came in person to Mackinac to make the neces- 
sary arrangements for the enterprise. But the attempt at se- 
crecy proved futile for in December, Cruzat, the new governor at 
St. Louis, 234 was reporting to his superiors the news that Wabasha 
was returning to his tribe from "Michely Makinak" with a 
great quantity of merchandise to arouse his own and the neigh- 
boring tribes. 235 At the same time Cruzat announced that he 
had decided upon measures for checkmating the British design, 
but refrained from telling what they were until after they should 
be executed. 

Whether Cruzat alluded to the mysterious project of De la 
Balme against Detroit, which had even then come to an unfor- 
tunate end, or to the forthcoming Spanish expedition against 
St. Joseph must remain a matter of conjecture. De la Balme 
was a French officer who appeared in the Illinois villages in the 
summer of 1780, and rousing the villagers with the story that 
their former king was coming to their assistance, announced his 
own purpose to lead them in an assault on Detroit and thence 
on Canada itself. 236 With a little band of French and Indians, 
about eighty in number, flying the banner of France at its head, 
he moved upon the British post of Miami near the modern Fort 
Wayne, and captured and plundered it. The Indians, however, 
shortly attacked De la Balme's party in turn and defeated it, the 
commander being numbered among the slain. 237 This occurred 
at the beginning of November, 1780. 

i Michigan Pioneer Collections, IX, 559. 

De Leyba had died shortly after the British attack of 1780 and before the arrival 
of the news that his government had promoted him for his conduct on that occasion (Wis- 
consin Historical Collections, XVIII, 410). 

3j Ibid., 414. 

On De la Balme's mission see Burton, " Augustin Mottin de la Balme," in Illinois 
State Historical Society Transactions, 1909, 104 ff.; Illinois Historical Collections, II, Ixviii- 
xciv; Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVIII, 416; Missouri Historical Review, II, 202-3. 

'" Michigan Pioneer Collections, XIX, 581-82. 


Thus ended De la Balme's projected invasion of Canada. 
But the episode of his advent in the Northwest was attended 
by further interesting consequences. Before his departure for 
Detroit he had sent a detachment from Cahokia under command 
of Jean Baptiste Hamelin against the post of St. Joseph. 238 
There had been no regular garrison here since the massacre of 
the British soldiers at the time of Pontiac's war; but the post 
was advantageously located for trading purposes. It possessed 
a further importance as the gathering-place of the Pottawatomie 
war parties sent out to harass the Americans, while the fact that 
a large stock of goods had been stored here by the British traders 239 
served to increase the zeal of Hamelin's men for the assault. 
According to a census that has been preserved, St. Joseph con- 
tained in June, 1780, a population of forty-eight French and 
half-breeds. 240 During the summer some of the inhabitants had 
been carried off to Mackinac by Sinclair's orders, so that at the 
time Hamelin fell upon it the post contained a smaller population 
than it had in June. 

Hamelin's foray was so timed as to reach St. Joseph early in 
December, 1780, when the Indians were absent on their first 
hunt. 241 The party numbered only seventeen men; but they 
overpowered the traders, loaded their goods on packhorses, and 
with twenty-two prisoners beat a hasty retreat around the lake 
toward Chicago. 242 Their triumph, however, was short lived. 
In the spring of the year De Peyster, who now commanded at 
Detroit, had stationed Lieutenant De Quindre at St. Joseph to 
look after the interests of the British in that region. He was 
temporarily absent at the time of Hamelin's attack, but, return- 
ing shortly afterward, he assembled a party of Pottawatomies 
and set out to punish the audacious intruders. Hamelin was 
overtaken on December 5 at a place called Petite Fort, a day's 

" Missouri Historical Review, II, 204. 

" According to a memoir by the traders to Haldimand for indemnity these amounted 
to 62,000 livres in value (Michigan Pioneer Collections, X, 367). 
Ibid., 406-7. 
'Ibid., XIX, 591. 
Ibid.; Virginia State Papers, I, 465. 


journey beyond the River Chemin, 243 and in the fight that ensued 
all but three of his party were killed or taken prisoners. 

This comparatively insignificant affair, which terminated at 
Chicago's back door, as it were, was quickly followed by a second 
attack upon St. Joseph, the echoes of which were heard in dis- 
tant Europe. The preparations which the English were making 
for a new descent upon St. Louis in the spring of 1781 excited 
the genuine alarm of Cruzat, the new Spanish governor. 244 
Profiting, possibly, by the example set by George Rogers Clark, 
in his attack upon Vincennes, Cruzat determined to anticipate 
the blow. On January 2, 1781, less than a month after the 
disaster to the Americans at the Petite Fort, a Spanish expedi- 
tion set out from St. Louis for St. Joseph. 245 It consisted in the 
beginning of thirty Spaniards from St. Louis and twenty residents 
of Cahokia. On the way across Illinois these were joined by a 
dozen Spanish soldiers who had been sent up the Illinois River 
in the preceding November to serve as an outpost against the 
British in that direction. 246 In addition to this, and of greater 
importance doubtless, the party was joined by two hundred 
Indians. Included in the latter were the "runagates" from 
Milwaukee under the leadership of Siggenauk and Nakewoin, 
whose tendency to side with the Americans had long disturbed 
the British commanders in the Northwest. 247 In 1779 De 

" The stream at the mouth of which Michigan City, Indiana, now stands. Petite Fort 
has been said to have been near the Calumet River. I have not succeeded in locating it 
more definitely than is indicated above. 

< Missouri Historical Review, V, 223. 

*s Three detailed studies of this expedition have been made. The conclusions of the 
first, by Edward G. Mason, were generally accepted by scholars as valid until Professor 
Clarence W. Alvord's study appeared. His conclusions differ materially from those 
reached by Mason. More recently Frederick J. Teggart has challenged Alvord's conclu- 
sions. For his study, with references to the earlier studies and the sources, see "The 
Capture of St. Joseph, Michigan, by the Spaniards in 1781," in Missouri Historical Review, 
V, 214 ff. 

"'Teggart, op. cit., 216. 

47 De Peyster's characterization of them as "a horrid set of refractory Indians" has 
already been mentioned (Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVIII, 384). Probably it was 
this band which had threatened to destroy the British force at Chicago retreating from 
St. Louis in the preceding summer. For a sketch of Siggenauk's career see Wisconsin 
Historical Collections, XVIII, 384. 

O U 



Peyster, then at Mackinac, had bribed a chief, Chambolee, to 
capture Siggenauk by fair means or foul and turn him over to 
the English, promising that in the event of success he would be 
"weall rewarded." 248 This attempt to secure the obnoxious 
chieftain proved vain, however. At another time, whether 
before or after this does not appear, De Peyster tried the plan 
of buying off the "Runagade chiefs," but this too proved 
futile. 249 Some time after the St. Joseph expedition, however, 
Siggenauk turned against the Americans. 

The expedition proceeded up the Illinois River as far as 
Lake Peoria. 250 Here, the river having frozen, it was found 
necessary to leave the boats behind and continue the journey 
on foot. It was midwinter, and before the Spaniards lay three 
hundred miles of wilderness infested with savages, who ( might 
at any moment fall upon them. At the end of their march lay 
the prospect of a hostile force surrounded by savages friendly 
to it and hostile to them, with their base of supplies, and their 
refuge in case of defeat, four hundred miles away. Naturally 
our only knowledge of the experiences of the party on the march 
comes from the Spaniards themselves. We may well believe, 
however, that they suffered "the greatest inconveniences from 
cold and hunger," 251 not to mention the labor of carrying through 
the trackless wilderness provisions for themselves and a supply 
of goods to be used in placating the Indians. 

Three weeks were consumed in the march from Lake Peoria 
to St. Joseph. On February n at nightfall the party was within 
two leagues of its destination. It had had the good fortune to 
secure the assistance of Louis Chevalier, who was intimately 
acquainted with the St. Joseph Indians, his father having been 
the principal trader and resident of St. Joseph for many years, 
until his arrest and removal by Sinclair's order in the summer 

Wisconsin Historical Collections, XI, 210. 
Michigan Pioneer Collections, X, 454-55. 
Missouri Historical Review, V, 216. 

"'Madrid Gazette, March 12, 1782, quoted in Missouri Historical Review, II, 195. 
For further details of the march see Teggart, op. cit. 


of 1 78 1. 252 While the party halted an emissary was sent on to 
the Indians at the post, and by promises of sharing the booty 
with them a pledge of neutrality on their part was secured. 
Early the next morning, February 12, the Spaniards crossed the 
river on the ice and made themselves masters of the post without 
a blow being struck. De Quindre was absent at the time, and 
all circumstances conspired to render the traders an easy prey 
to the invaders. The goods were divided between the St. 
Joseph Indians and those accompanying the expedition, and a 
supply of corn, gathered in expectation of the coming attack 
upon St. Louis, was destroyed. The party remained at St. 
Joseph only twenty-four hours, but during this time the Spanish 
flag was kept flying and formal possession was taken of the 
country in the name of the king of Spain. A hasty retreat was 
then begun, and the party arrived at St. Louis early in March 
without the loss of a man. On the day after its departure from 
St. Joseph De Quindre returned to that place. He sought to 
rouse the Indians, as he had done on the former occasion, to 
pursue the invaders, but this time without success. Their zeal 
for such exploits had evaporated, and they insisted on being led 
in the opposite direction to Detroit, to make their excuses to 
De Peyster for having allowed their traders to be carried off. 

The importance which later came to be attached to this 
expedition was due to its bearing upon the political rather than 
upon the military situation. It has generally been supposed by 
historians that the expedition was inspired by the Spanish Court 
to furnish the basis for laying claim in the peace negotiations to 
the British Northwest. The latest student of the subject rejects 
this supposition, 253 as also the further one that when the news of 
the successful termination of the exploit became known in Spain 
the Court proceeded to turn it to political advantage by founding 
extravagant claims upon it. That Vergennes, the French minis- 
ter, and Aranda, the representative of Spain in the negotiations 
for the treaty, made such use of it is admitted. In 1780, 

For the elder Chevalier see Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVIII, 372. 
'" Teggart, in Missouri Historical Review, V, 220-23. 


the year before the expedition against St. Joseph occurred, the 
French minister, Luzerne, announced to Congress the view of 
the Spanish king that the territory east of the Mississippi and 
north of the Ohio belonged to Great Britain and was a proper 
object of Spanish conquest. Two years later, in the summer of 
1782, in discussing with Jay the boundary between the posses- 
sions of Spain and the United States, the Spanish representative 
argued that the western country had belonged to Great Britain 
until by conquest during the Revolution it came into the pos- 
session of Spain. The contention was not established, but the 
evident design of France and Spain to advance the interests of 
the latter in America at the expense of the United States induced 
the American negotiators to conclude a separate treaty with 
England, in violation not only of their instructions but also of 
the treaty of alliance between the United States and France in 

The remainder of the story of the Revolution in the North- 
west can quickly be told. Clark still dreamed of an expedition 
against Detroit, and both Jefferson, governor of Virginia, and 
General Washington looked with favor upon the project and 
held out promises of the necessary assistance. 254 For the year 
1781 a force of two thousand men was promised Clark, and 
Colonel Brodhead at Fort Pitt was ordered by Washington to 
assist him with troops and supplies. But Clark was doomed 
again to disappointment. Jefferson resigned the gubernatorial 
office, and Washington was engrossed in his contest with Clinton 
and Cornwallis which was to end in the capture of the latter at 
Yorktown. The British on their part manifested great activity 
during 1781 in raiding the settlements along the Ohio River. 
The harassed settlers, less far-sighted than Clark, were little 
disposed to engage in a distant expedition; a force of over one 
hundred men descending the Ohio to join Clark was cut to pieces 
in August by a combined British and Indian force sent out from 
Detroit by De Peyster, every man being killed or captured. 

Winsor, Westward Movement, chap, xi; James, " George Rogers Clark and Detroit, 
1780-1781," in Mississippi Valley Historical Association, Proceedings, III, 291 ff. 


The victors even considered the project of attacking Clark, who 
was now in his stockade fort at the Falls of the Ohio, impatiently 
awaiting the assembling of the forces for his projected expedition. 
By order of the Virginia Assembly this was again postponed. 
Clark's disappointment was keen, for as far as any positive 
action was concerned, his projects for the year had completely 
failed. From another point of view, however, the prospect was 
less dismal. If he had failed to take Detroit, the failure of the 
British plans for ousting the Americans from the Northwest had 
been no less signal. And the sequel proved that Clark's stubborn 
retention of the grip on this region, which he had gained in 1779, 
was the principal factor in securing it to the United States in 
the negotiations which resulted in the treaty of 1783. 



Long before the issue of the military struggle a contest of 
another sort for the possession of the Northwest had begun. 
France and Spain had entered into the conflict between Great 
Britain and her American colonies from no love of the latter, but 
rather from a desire on the one hand to humble Great Britain, on 
the other to advance their own interests. With the opening of 
the peace negotiations, therefore, an effort was made by these 
countries to limit the boundary of the new nation on the west to 
the Allegheny Mountains, and to give the dominant influence 
over the vast territory stretching thence to the Mississippi, 
together with the exclusive navigation of that stream, to Spain. 
That the project failed, and the Mississippi was made the western 
boundary of the new nation, was due in part to the shrewdness 
and persistence of the American diplomats, in part to the com- 
plaisance of Great Britain herself. Her representatives did not 
hesitate to reject the temptation offered of an alliance with the 
two continental monarchies for the purpose of advancing their 
own projects at the expense of her former colonies, in favor of 
such a settlement with the latter as would, by making possible 
their future development, secure their friendship and good will. 
By the terms of the treaty, therefore, the Northwest was secured 
to the United States, its boundaries being a middle line through 
the Great Lakes, and on the west the Mississippi River. 

The prospect thus opened for an early reconciliation between 
the mother country and her revolted colonies did not, unfortu- 
nately, materialize. The war had left Great Britain burdened 
with a vast debt, her dominion curtailed by more than a million 
square miles of her finest territory, her prestige no less seriously 
damaged, and her ancient foe across the Channel glorying in 
the humiliation which had overtaken her. It was, perhaps, too 



much to expect, in view of all these things, that the mother 
country should at once receive the disobedient daughter to her 
bosom, without attempting in any way to manifest her resent- 
ment for the humiliation she had suffered. 

Furthermore, conditions in America at the close of the war 
were such as to breed irritation and hostility between the two 
countries. The Revolution had been in a very real sense a civil 
war. Upward of one- third of the American colonists had sided 
with the British, and in their ranks were to be found the major 
portion of the colonists who were endowed with wealth, good 
birth, and education. Between these loyalists, or " Tories," and 
the "patriots," whose cause had now triumphed, the most intense 
feeling of bitterness existed. Even as wise and conservative a 
man as Franklin shared the general feeling of resentment toward 
the loyalists and was ready to justify the confiscation of their 
estates. Yet they had risked their all for the sake of the mother 
country, and Great Britain's honor was involved in securing 
them against being punished for their loyalty and devotion to her 
interests. A futile attempt was made during the peace negotia- 
tions to insure their protection, and its total failure, while natural 
enough in view of the circumstances, furnished one of the ele- 
ments making for discord later on between the two countries. 

There were other causes of discord and, in fact, neither the 
United States nor Great Britain honestly tried to fulfil all the 
obligations they had entered into. One of the leading sources 
of trouble pertained to the situation in the Northwest. Great 
Britain had agreed to withdraw her armies from all places in the 
United States "with all convenient speed." This obligation was 
kept elsewhere, but it was calmly and deliberately broken as far 
as the northwestern posts were concerned. 255 The demands of 
the American government for evacuation were met by evasion 
and, later, by open refusal, and even an explanation of the 
reasons for this course was long withheld. Finally the pretense 

2 " The standard study of this subject is McLaughlin's " Western Posts and the British 
Debts," in American Historical Association, A nnual Report, 1894, 413 ff. See also Roosevelt, 
Winning of the West, Vol. IV. 


was urged that the posts were being held as a guaranty of the 
fulfilment by the Americans of their own treaty obligations. 
That we were justly chargeable with failure in this respect is 
clear; but it is equally clear that the British determination to 
retain the posts antedated our infractions of the treaty, and that 
the claim that they were being held because of American viola- 
tions of the treaty was a mere afterthought, put forward by way 
of excuse for a policy in itself indefensible. 

The real reasons for the British policy with reference to the 
Northwest were the desire to retain control of the fur trade and 
of the Indian tribes of that region. In one sense these two 
reasons coalesce, but to some extent they may be distinguished. 
The fur trade constituted Canada's chief commercial asset, and 
the Canadians had looked upon the concessions contained in the 
treaty of 1783 as needlessly generous to the Americans and fatal 
to their own prosperity. To retain this trade the Americans 
must be shut out of the Northwest, and to this end the posts 
must be retained. Further than this, it was an obvious fact 
that in time of war the Indian would side with the party 
with whom he traded in time of peace. By her control of 
the Indian trade and the exclusion of the Americans from 
the Northwest Great Britain assured herself that in case of 
a future war with America or Spain the tomahawk and scalp- 
ing knife might once more be called into requisition against 
her enemy. 256 

To these considerations was joined another, which proved 
potent to fill the Northwest with strife and bloodshed for a dozen 
years after the close of the Revolution. It shortly became the 
aim of Great Britain to secure to the powerful tribes in western 
New York and in the territory west and north of the Ohio River 
the retention of their lands. They would thus serve the purpose 
of a buffer state between the United States and Canada, and 
would, by proper management of the Indians, render permanent 
the grip which the Canadian merchants had on the fur trade. To 
secure these ends the British sought to keep the Indians united 

McLaughlin, op. cit., 430. 


and to influence them not to yield too readily to the blandish- 
ments or threats of the Americans. The attempt was made to 
establish a sort of guardianship over the Indian tribes and to 
require that interviews between them and the Americans be held 
in the presence of Canadian officials or in places where the British 
influence might be made manifest. In all this the home govern- 
ment refrained from instigating the Indians to war upon the 
Americans, and steadily instructed its representatives to encour- 
age them to keep the peace. But it is none the less true that its 
attitude toward them was productive of a state of affairs and an 
attitude of mind on the part of the Indians which made war with 
the Americans inevitable. 257 At last the British officials lost 
their earlier solicitude for the preservation of peace, and in the 
period immediately preceding Wayne's victory of 1794 they 
openly encouraged the Indians to make war on the Americans, 
and supplied them with the guns, ammunition, and other pro- 
visions which made their long resistance possible. 258 

We may now turn to a consideration of the relations between 
the Americans and the Indians on the northwestern frontier in 
the period which falls between the close of the Revolution and the 
Treaty of Greenville of 1795. By the close of the Revolution two 
important steps had been taken in the direction of opening the 
Northwest to settlement. The claims of the various states to 
a portion or all of this region had been ceded to the national 
government, and by the Treaty of Paris the sovereignty of the 
United States as against foreign nations had been recognized. 
It remained to quiet the Indian title to the lands in question, and, 
in this connection, to overcome their opposition to their settle- 
ment by the whites. 

Encouraged by the British officials, the Indians at first strenu- 
ously resisted the American claim to sovereignty north and west 
of the Ohio River. In the course of a few years, however, 
various treaties were entered into between the United States and 
the different tribes providing for the cession to the former of lands 

's? McLaughlin, op. oil., 435. 

Ibid., 436; Roosevelt, Winning of the West, Vol. IV, passim. 


beyond the Ohio. 259 Such treaties were made at Fort Mclntosh, 
January 21, 1785, and at Fort Finney, January 31, 1786. But 
only a portion of the tribes concerned participated in these 
treaties; those who opposed the cessions saw in them only an 
incitement to hostilities. In the summer of 1786 the disaffected 
ones gathered in council at Niagara, and an ineffectual effort was 
made to unite them in a war upon the Americans. Meanwhile 
raiding went on along the border, and Congress was impotent to 
protect it by waging war upon the hostile tribes. 260 Thereupon 
the Kentuckians to the number of twelve hundred gathered under 
the leadership of George Rogers Clark to chastise the tribes on 
their own account. But the force was poorly organized. Clark 
had lost the qualities of dauntless leadership for which he had 
been distinguished a few years before, and the expedition accom- 
plished little or nothing. 261 

Meanwhile the rush of settlers into the lands west of the 
Alleghenies went on apace. Owing to the Indian menace north 
of the Ohio, for the first few years following the close of the 
Revolution this settlement was practically confined to the region 
south of that river. It was only a question of time, however, 
when the Indian barrier would be broken down. The famous 
ordinance of 1787 made provision for civil government and for 
the ultimate formation of states in the Northwest. In the same 
year Congress sold to the Ohio Company five million acres of 
land, and provision was made for a territorial government, of 
which General St. Clair was to become the first chief executive. 
In 1788 the Ohio Company formally inaugurated its enterprise by 
founding Marietta at the mouth of the Muskingum, and the tide 
of immigration into the Northwest may be said to have fairly 
begun. 262 The opposition of the Indians was, naturally, not con- 
ciliated by these developments. In 1789 St. Clair negotiated a 

For an account of these treaties see Winsor, Westward Movement, 267 ff. The 
treaties themselves are printed in American Slate Papers, Indian Affairs, Vol. I, and in the 
various collections of treaties between the United States and the Indian tribes. 

"" Winsor, Westward Movement, 274. * Ibid., 275. 

'<" For a description of this movement see ibid., chap. xiv. 


treaty with certain of the tribes at Fort Harmar, which, in effect, 
confirmed the grants to the United States north of the Ohio 
which had been made by the treaties of Fort Mclntosh and Fort 
Finney. 263 But a large portion of the tribes affected held aloof 
and took no part in the treaty. 

It is clear today, as it was to those actually on the frontier at 
the time, that with both parties determined to possess the North- 
west war in earnest between the red men and the white was 
inevitable. When once the issue was fairly joined the ultimate 
outcome could hardly remain a matter of doubt, yet the govern- 
ment entered upon the war with extreme reluctance, and only 
after a flood of appeals from the frontier for protection had been 
poured upon it. 264 Several causes operated to produce this hesi- 
tation. The new government, feeble and lacking in resources, 
dreaded the expense. The hostile tribes were more numerous 
and formidable than any combination the red race had ever yet 
brought into the field against the white. They gathered in 
bodies so large as fairly to deserve the name of armies, and 
fought pitched battles with American armies as large as those 
commanded by Washington at Trenton or by Greene at Eutaw 
Springs. 265 Finally the government was actuated by an honest 
desire to promote the welfare of the Indians and to discharge 
scrupulously all of its treaty obligations toward them. 266 

In 1790 the hovering war cloud burst. The Indians forced 
the issue by intercepting and plundering the boats conveying 
settlers down the Ohio, the main avenue of travel into the western 
country. In July St. Clair, the governor of the Northwest 
Territory, called upon the state of Kentucky for troops, author- 
ized the raising of the militia of the western counties of Pennsyl- 
vania and Virginia, and set his own forces in motion. The main 
expedition was sent from Fort Washington against the Miamis, 

>3 Winsor, op. cit., 308-10. 

a"4 Roosevelt, op. cit., IV, 9, 18, 27 el passim. 

"s Ibid., IV, 17-18. 

'" Ibid., 9, 17; see, also, documents pertaining to the establishment by the govern- 
ment of Indian trading houses, in American State Papers, Indian Affairs, Vols. I and II, 


under command of General Harmar. 267 In October he set out 
with fourteen hundred men for the hostile villages. Rumor 
going in advance multiplied the numbers of his little army, so 
that the Indians made no attempt at resistance. The towns at 
the junction of the St. Mary's and St. Joseph rivers were found 
deserted and were destroyed. At this point Harmar divided his 
force, sending out detachments in various directions. These 
were severely handled, though they inflicted perhaps an equal 
loss upon the Indians. The whole body shortly made a dis- 
orderly retreat, and the campaign was ended. No great disaster 
had been suffered, but the army had lost two hundred men and 
the net result had been a "mortifying failure." 

That the Indians were not cowed by Harmar was shown by 
the prompt renewal of their marauding expeditions. Early in 
the year 1791 they raided the New England settlements near 
Marietta, killing a dozen persons and carrying half as many more 
into captivity. 268 This is but typical of further raids which 
continued throughout the winter. Meanwhile the Americans 
were preparing another expedition. Washington asked and 
received permission from Congress to raise three thousand troops 
to be placed under St. Clair's command. To protect the frontier 
while this army was being made ready, bodies of rangers 
composed of the more capable and daring bordermen were 
employed. 26 ' Moving in small parties and fighting the Indian 
in his own fashion, they performed much effective service. In 
addition to this measure the Kentuckians were authorized to 
conduct two raids upon the enemy. Each expedition consisted 
of several hundred mounted volunteers under experienced lead- 
ers. Each succeeded in harrying a number of villages, with 
almost no loss to the raiders themselves. 

The gathering-place for St. Clair's expedition was, as in the 
case of Harmar, Fort Washington. According to the plan 
adopted he was to have here three thousand effective troops by 

" For Harmar's expedition see Winsor, op. tit., 417-20; Roosevelt, op. tit., Ill, 

* Roosevelt, op. tit., IV, 19-20. Ibid., 28-30. 


July 10, 1791. But not until July 15 did the first regiment of 
three hundred men arrive, and it was October before he could 
count two thousand effective men. 270 From beginning to end, 
this first great military enterprise of the new government was 
woefully mismanaged. The supplies provided were poor, the 
commissary department was both inefficient and corrupt, the 
commander was sick and incapable, and the troops themselves 
were "wretched stuff." 271 Aside from two small regiments of 
infantry, the army was composed of six months' levies, and of 
militia enrolled for this particular campaign. In its desire to 
economize Congress had fixed the net pay of the soldiers at two 
dollars and ten cents a month. The judgment passed by one who 
observed the force that "men who are to be purchased from 
prisons, wheelbarrows, and brothels at two dollars a month will 
never answer for fighting Indians" was amply justified by the 
sequel. 272 

Early in October the advance began. 273 St. Glair's instruc- 
tions required him to establish a permanent fort at the Miami 
village and to maintain such a garrison in it as would enable him 
to detach five or six hundred men for special service as occasion 
should require. He advanced at a snail's pace, the army march- 
ing but five or six miles a day. In this way, stopping now and 
then to build a fort or delayed by lack of food, the commander 
sick, the troops disorderly and demoralized, with almost no effort 
to prevent surprise, the army stumbled northward through the 
wilderness. At the end of October, with the enemy in striking 
distance, some sixty of the militia deserted in a body, and the 
unfortunate commander made the fatal blunder of sending back 
one of his two regiments of regulars after them. 

Perhaps it was just as well, for a larger force would have 
resulted only in a greater slaughter. On November 3 the army 
encamped on a branch of the Wabash near the middle point of the 

' Winsor, op. cit., 428. " Roosevelt, op. cit., TV, 30. 

171 Winsor, op. cit., 426. 

" Roosevelt (Winning of the West, IV, 30-52) gives a detailed and graphic account 
of St. Clair's campaign, with references to much of the important source material. For 
St. Clair's official reports see American State Papers, Indian Affairs, I, 136-38. 


western boundary of Ohio. The main body of the army huddled 
together on the eastern bank of the stream, while the militia 
camped on the opposite side. Shortly after sunrise the next 
morning the Indians fell in fury upon this exposed detachment, 
and a battle ensued similar in character and in magnitude of 
horror and disaster to the defeat of the ill-fated Braddock. Con- 
cealed behind logs and trees the savages poured a steady fire upon 
the doomed army. The troops drawn up in close array, unable 
even to see their foe, fired vain volleys into the forest. A heavy 
pall of smoke soon overhung the army, under cover of which the 
agile savages darted again and again into the lines of the troops, 
tomahawking their chosen victims and slipping deftly away 
before the enraged but slower soldiers could retaliate. The 
officers displayed conspicuous bravery, encouraging their men 
and leading them again and again in bayonet charges against 
their tormenters. But the savages only retired before their 
advance to fall upon them the moment they turned; and at times 
the charging parties, isolated from the main body, fought their 
way back with difficulty. 

A more terrible scene can scarcely be pictured. The bravery 
and exertions of the troops were all in vain against such a- foe. 
For two hours the slaughter went on, while the wounded were 
gathered to the center and the officers strove to keep the lines 
intact. At last the men became demoralized. In ever larger 
numbers they deserted their posts to huddle terror stricken 
among the wounded. Seeing that all was lost and that the army 
could be saved from complete destruction only by an immediate 
retreat, St. Clair gathered such fragments of battalions as he 
could and ordered a charge to regain the road by which the army 
had advanced. 

A vigorous charge drove the Indians back beyond the road, 
and through the opening the demoralized troops pressed, to use 
the expressive phrase of an eyewitness, "like a drove of bul- 
locks." 274 The pursuit was delayed for a short time, apparently 
because the Indians failed at once to grasp the significance of the 

" Roosevelt, op. cit., IV, 44. 


new movement; they soon fell upon the rear, however, and 
slaughtered without hindrance the terror-stricken fugitives, 
whose only thought was to get away. In the mad rout the 
soldiers, crazed by fear, threw away their weapons as they ran; 
the stronger and swifter rode down the weak; while the slower 
and the wounded fell to the rear, and by furnishing occupation 
for the tomahawk and the scalping knife purchased temporary 
respite for their more fortunate comrades. The savages drew off 
after they had followed the fleeing mob in this way for about four 
miles, possibly because for once they were satiated with slaughter, 
more probably because lured by the plunder of the camp. The 
soldiers continued their flight for twenty-five miles pursued only 
by the terrors evoked by their superheated imagination. At 
nightfall they streamed into Fort Jefferson; here some of the 
wounded who had escaped were left, and the army continued to 
flee till Fort Washington, the starting-point of the campaign, 
was reached. 

Thus terminated the most disastrous campaign ever waged 
by an American army against the Indians. St. Clair had lost 
in killed and wounded over nine hundred men. There were no 
prisoners, practically, for the savages slew all but a few of those 
who fell into their hands. Only about one-third of St. Glair's 
men actually engaged in the battle of the fatal fourth of Novem- 
ber escaped uninjured. Yet during the battle the Americans 
had scarcely seen the foe. St. Clair, judging from the destruc- 
tive rifle fire poured in upon his ranks, reported that he had 
been overwhelmed by numbers, but this may well be doubted. 
Neither the number nor the loss of the red men is known with any 
certainty; that the latter was slight is, however, apparent, and 
Roosevelt's estimate that it may not have amounted to one- 
twentieth that of the whites seems not at all improbable. 275 

Fighting with the victors were two men whom we shall meet 
again in the annals of early Chicago. The one was Little Turtle, 
the famous Miami chieftain, who is generally supposed to have 
been the leader of the Indians this day; the other, his son-in-law, 

" Roosevelt, op. cit., IV, 47. 


Captain William Wells, member of a prominent Kentucky 
family, who had been taken prisoner by the Indians in boyhood 
and adopted into the tribe. In this battle he is said to have slain 
several of the Americans with his own hand. 276 Soon after this 
he abandoned the Indians, and henceforth fought valiantly in 
behalf of his native race until he fell gloriously, over twenty years 
later, in the Fort Dearborn massacre. 

The overthrow of St. Glair's army made necessary another 
campaign against the triumphant tribesmen unless the United 
States was to surrender her pretensions to that sovereignty over 
the Northwest which had been recognized in the treaty of 1783. 
Yet three years now elapsed before the final blow was struck 
against the Indian power in this region. Their easy triumph over 
St. Clair resulted in a great accession both to the number and 
spirit of the warring bands. Encouraged by the British, whose 
attitude toward the Americans during this period, as manifested 
by such officials as Simcoe and Lord Dorchester, became increas- 
ingly hostile, they maintained the attitude that they had not by 
any valid treaty surrendered any portion of the territory north 
of the Ohio, and continued to send their war parties in ever- 
increasing numbers against the "deluded settlers" of the north- 
western frontier. The United States again tried vainly to secure 
peace by negotiation. The sanctity which hedges an ambassador 
about, familiar even to savages, was violated in the murder of 
Colonel Hardin and Major Trueman, who were sent as envoys to 
the hostile tribes in the spring of 1792. Despite this, the effort 
to bring about a peace was vainly continued throughout the year 
1792 and the spring of i r jg$. 2r! At last, there being no other 
alternative, the government made definite plans for a new 

The preparations had already been begun and Anthony 
Wayne had been chosen by Washington, though with great re- 
luctance, to succeed St. Clair as commander. 278 In Washington's 

" Ibid., 79. " Ibid., 52 ff . 

" On the selection of Wayne to succeed St. Clair see Winsor, Westward Movement, 


opinion he was vain, open to flattery, easily imposed upon, 
and "liable to be drawn into scrapes." In spite of this he was 
considered the best man available, and his conduct following his 
appointment brilliantly refuted the prevalent opinion of his lack 
of judgment. If there ever had been ground for Washington's 
low opinion of Wayne's prudence, certain it is that he afforded 
none by his measures in this crisis in the history of the Northwest. 
His bravery was questioned by no one, and he had long been 
recognized as the most active and enterprising officer in the army. 

In the autumn of 1792 Wayne established a camp on the Ohio 
about seven miles below Pittsburgh, and began the difficult task 
of organizing the remnant of St. Clair's army and the new 
recruits that were being enlisted into an efficient "legion," 
which should be able to face the red foe with some prospect of 
success. 279 During the winter his troops, which by springtime 
numbered twenty-five hundred men, were drilled incessantly. 
In May, 1793, he moved down the Ohio to Fort Washington, 
near which place he established a camp and called on the 
Kentucky volunteers to come to his assistance. The govern- 
ment was still carrying on futile negotiations with the hostile 
tribes, and not until October was Wayne given permission to 
launch the campaign. He then advanced about eighty miles 
north of Cincinnati to a place six miles beyond Fort Jefferson, 
where a second winter camp was established to which he gave 
the name of Greenville. From this place a detachment was 
sent forward to occupy the site of St. Clair's defeat and there 
build a post, to which the significant name of Fort Recovery 
was given. 

The winter was spent in further drill, and in perfecting the 
preparations for a decisive conflict in the spring. The Indians 
harassed the posts, attacking convoys, and killing the com- 
mander of Fort Jefferson within three hundred yards of the fort. 

" For standard secondary accounts of Wayne's campaign see Winsor, op. cit., chap, 
xx ; Roosevelt, op. cit., IV, chap. ii. Original documents pertaining to the campaign, 
including Wayne's report of the attack on Fort Recovery and the battle of Fallen Timbers, 
are printed in American State Papers, Indian Afair$, I, 487-95. Wayne's Orderly Book, 
covering the period from 1792 to 1797, is printed in the Michigan Pioneer Collections, xxxiv, 


Ere spring the regular troops had developed into a finely drilled 
army, with confidence in their leader and in themselves. The 
natural contempt of the frontiersman for a regular force, height- 
ened as it was by the disasters of the army in the last few years, 
gave way to genuine admiration for Wayne's troops. The 
cavalry had been trained to maneuver over any ground, and the 
infantry to load while on the run. By constant practice the 
soldiers had become as good marksmen as were the frontier 
hunters themselves, and Wayne, who had become famous in the 
Revolution for his reliance on the bayonet, had imbued his men 
with his own zeal for coming to close quarters with the enemy. 

Prominent among the causes 'which had contributed to St. 
Clair's overthrow was the absence of an efficient corps of scouts 
to bring him information of the enemy's movements and protect 
his own army against surprise. The preparation of Wayne in 
this respect, and the skilful use which he made of his force of 
scouts, was in marked contrast to the course of his unfortunate 
predecessor. One of the leaders of this force was William Wells, 
the son-in-law of Little Turtle, who three years before had 
assisted his dusky relative to overthrow St. Clair. Since then he 
had rejoined the whites, to whom by reason of his long life on the 
frontier, and his intimate acquaintance with the very Indians 
against whom Wayne was marching, his services were invaluable. 
His scouts covered Wayne's front so effectively that the Indians 
were unable to obtain any correct information concerning his 
numbers or movements. 

On June 30 an assault was made on Fort Recovery by two 
thousand Indians, but they were beaten off with considerable 
loss, which caused some of them to leave for their homes in 
despair. 280 On the other hand, Wayne's forces were augmented 
by the arrival of General Scott at the head of sixteen hundred 
Kentucky mounted volunteers. Having further deceived the 
enemy as to his intentions by making demonstrations to right 
and left, Wayne marched by a devious route to the Indian 
villages at the junction of the Glaize and the Maumee rivers, in 

so Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVIII, 444-45. 


the heart of the hostile country. 281 Here he had hoped to strike 
a telling blow, but the timely information of a deserter enabled 
the Indians to flee before his arrival. But their villages, stretch- 
ing for several miles up and down the river, with cornfields more 
extensive than Wayne had ever seen before, "from Canada to 
Florida," fell into his hands without striking a blow. He spent 
some time in building here a strong stockade fort, which he 
grimly named Defiance, and in sending a last futile overture to 
the Indians for peace. It was now the middle of August, and on 
learning of the failure of his embassy, Wayne set forth on the 
final stage of his campaign. 

The defiance to which his fortress gave expression was not 
directed against the Indians alone, for the British officials in the 
Northwest were now co-operating almost openly with the natives. 
In February, 1794, in the course of a speech to an Indian delega- 
tion, Lord Dorchester asserted that he would not be surprised if 
war between his country and the United States should begin 
during the year. This speech caused an immediate furore at 
Montreal, where it was construed to indicate that Dorchester had 
private intelligence which rendered him confident that such a 
war would shortly begin. 282 During the ensuing weeks it was 
actively circulated among the western tribes, 283 who were incited 
to collect their forces and assured that in the event of war they 
would have an opportunity to make a new boundary line. At 
the same time Simcoe, acting under Dorchester's orders, pro- 
ceeded from Detroit to the Rapids of the Maumee, a few miles 
above the modern city of Toledo, with three companies of British 
regulars, and constructed a fort to serve as an outpost for the 
defense of Detroit against Wayne's advance. There is nothing 
improbable in the assertion that the Indians were given to under- 
stand that its gates would be open to shelter them, in case of 

>ii Wayne to the Secretary of War, August 14, 1794; American State Papers, Indian 
Affairs, I, 490. 

" Michigan Pioneer Collections, XX, 331. For an account of Dorchester's speech and 
its results see Roosevelt, op. cit., IV, 57-60, 62. 

'> See, for example, Lieutenant-colonel Butler's speech to the chiefs of the Six Nations 
at Buffalo Creek, in April, 1794, printed in Michigan Pioneer Collections, XX, 342-43. 


need, from Wayne's army, and it is clear that both the Indians 
and the Americans believed that the British were to all intents 
and purposes co-operating with the former. Wayne had learned 
of Simcoe's advance early in June, and since then he had received 
information from his scouts that the British had participated in 
the attack on Fort Recovery. It was therefore with the expec- 
tation of having a double foe to deal with that he planted and 
named Fort Defiance, preparatory to beginning the descent of 
the Maumee to the Rapids, where the British fort was located 
and near which the Indians had taken their stand. 

The advance from Fort Defiance was begun on August 15, 
and three days later Wayne's army was within striking distance 
of the enemy. Here a halt was made and a temporary fortifica- 
tion thrown up. The savages had elected to defend a place 
known as Fallen Timbers, where the ground was thickly strewn 
with tree trunks as the result of a former tornado. This 
furnished an ideal covert for their mode of warfare, and at the 
same time, as they believed, rendered it impossible for Wayne's 
dreaded cavalry to act. Behind this shelter about two thousand 
warriors lay on the morning of August 20 awaiting Wayne's 
approach. The Indians were far from confident of repeating 
their success of three years before against St. Clair. Little 
Turtle, the leader on that occasion, had urged the acceptance of 
the peace overtures of "the chief who never sleeps," but in this 
he was overruled. Already some of the northern tribes had 
slunk away, disheartened by their discomfiture at Fort Recovery. 
The southern Indians had sent encouraging messages, but had 
failed to back them up with their warriors, and the sole hope of 
assistance rested with the British, who in similar crises in times 
gone by had failed them. 284 

In the ranks of the two armies, about to join combat, were a 
number of men who are famous in the history of the Northwest. 
General Wayne had acquired fame in the Revolution as a daring 
leader of men, but this campaign furnishes the climax of his 
military career and his surest claim upon the grateful remem- 

*> Winsor, Westward Movement, 457. 


brance of posterity. From the most unpromising of raw material 
he had fashioned an army fit to cope with the red man in his lair, 
and had imbued it with his own dauntless confidence and enthu- 
siasm. He had transformed such men as St. Clair had with 
difficulty held together in the absence of the enemy, and who had 
proved so helpless in his presence, into the peers of the frontiers- 
men themselves in marksmanship and dexterity in the saddle; 
and had made them submissive to an iron discipline which ren- 
dered them immeasurably superior to the latter for the conduct 
of a campaign or battle. 

On the other side were a score or more of chieftains of vary- 
ing degrees of importance and influence. If Little Turtle had 
favored a fight his rank and reputation would probably have 
given him the position of chief importance. Blue Jacket's advice 
had prevailed in the council before the battle, however, and as 
the result he occupied the position of commander. Two young 
men, one in either army, possess a peculiar interest for us by 
reason of their later careers. The one, a lieutenant in Wayne's 
army and aide-de-camp to the General, William Henry Harrison; 
the other, the warrior Tecumseh. Each distinguished himself 
according to the fashion of his race for bravery in the battle ; each 
rose shortly to the position of leader of his race in the Northwest, 
and this leadership involved them in a deadly rivalry. In the 
long contest between them the red man went down to defeat; his 
projects for the resuscitation of his people were forever blasted at 
Tippecanoe, and two years later the battle of the Thames marked 
another victory for Harrison and Tecumseh's final defeat. For 
the one the reward was the Presidency, for the other a ruined 
people and a nameless grave. Yet who shall say that, measured 
by the standards of his race, Tecumseh was not the equal in 
greatness and ability of his victorious rival ? 

At eight o'clock on the morning of August 20 Wayne's legion 
advanced in columns in open order, its front, flanks, and rear 
protected by detachments of the Kentucky mounted volunteers 
and of Indians. After traveling a distance of five miles the 
mounted battalion in advance encountered the Indians, disposed 


in three lines stretching a distance of two miles at right angles 
to the river. The Kentuckians were driven back and the firing 
became general, but they had accomplished their purpose of 
giving the army timely notice of the position of the savages. 
Wayne's dispositions were quickly made. The infantry was 
drawn up in two lines. The whole force of mounted volunteers 
was sent by a circuitous path to turn the right flank of the 
savages, and the legionary cavalry under Captain Campbell was 
ordered to fall upon their left. At the same time the infantry 
moved forward with trailed arms to a bayonet charge, with orders 
to deliver their fire at close range after the Indians had been 
roused from their coverts, and then continue the charge, so as 
to give them no opportunity to reload. 

The value of the months of careful drilling was now quickly 
manifested. Campbell's dragoons plunged forward over the 
difficult ground and fell upon the astonished savages, who 
delivered a single volley and fled. Campbell was slain and a 
dozen of his men killed or wounded, but the cavalry swept on, 
Lieutenant Covington, who succeeded to the command, cutting 
down two of the red men with his own hand. The infantry 
moved forward with equal impetuosity, driving the dismayed 
savages before them through the thick woods a distance of two 
miles in less than an hour. So quickly was the combat over that 
the second line of infantry and the Kentucky volunteers, despite 
their "anxiety" for action, were unable to reach their positions in 
time to share in the fight. The surviving savages and their 
Canadian allies scattered in flight, the Americans pursuing them 
as far as the walls of the British fort. Wayne reported a loss of 
one hundred and thirty-three in killed and wounded and esti- 
mated the loss of the enemy at more than double his own. The 
woods were strewn for some distance with the dead bodies of the 
Indians and their white auxiliaries, the latter armed with British 
muskets and bayonets. 

The battle over, three days were spent in ravaging the sur- 
rounding fields and villages. The houses and stores of the British 
traders and agents shared the fate of the Indian villages, while 


the garrison looked on in impotent rage. Fortunately a con- 
flict between the two armies, the danger of which was very real, 
was averted, the commanders contenting themselves with an 
exchange of verbal hostilities. A week after the battle the 
victorious army moved leisurely back to Fort Defiance, laying 
waste the villages and cornfields of the savages for a distance of 
fifty miles on either side of the Maumee. After two weeks spent 
in strengthening the fort, while waiting for supplies from Fort 
Recovery, the army moved up the river to the Miami villages at 
the mouth of the St. Mary's where Harmar's force had been 
rebuffed four years before. Here some weeks were spent in 
destroying the surrounding villages and fields and in building a 
fort which was named for the commander, Fort Wayne. At the 
end of October the army retired to Greenville where it went into 
winter quarters. Since the opening of the campaign it had per- 
formed "one of the most weighty and important feats in the 
winning of the West," 285 

The Indians were discouraged by their defeat and their 
abandonment by the British. The agents of the latter strove to 
reanimate them and prolong hostilities, 286 and for some time the 
issue was doubtful. Some of the savages were in favor of con- 
tinuing the war, but the majority finally inclined to peace, and in 
February, 1795, Wayne entered into a preliminary agreement 
with a number of the tribes for the negotiation of a permanent 
peace on the basis of the terms of the treaty of Fort Harmar of 
January, 1789. The tawny diplomats straggled slowly in to the 
place appointed for the council. The council fire was kindled on 
June 16, 28y but owing to the tardiness of the various delegations 
a month elapsed before the formal negotiations were begun. 
Three weeks later, on August 10, the treaty was concluded. In 
all eleven hundred and thirty warriors had assembled. To the 
torrent of savage oratory which their spokesmen poured forth 

Roosevelt, Winning of the West, IV, gi. 

.86 Winsor, op. cit., 460-61; American Stale Papers, Indian Affairs, I, 547-58, 568. 

For Wayne's report of the proceedings attending the negotiation of the treaty see 
American State Papers, Indian Affairs, I, 562-83. 


during the weeks of discussion Wayne replied in kind, showing 
himself as much at home in the council chamber as when on the 
field of battle. 

On July 3 Wayne called the chiefs together to explain to them 
the significance of the impending celebration of Independence 
Day, so that they might not be alarmed when the roar of the big 
guns should " ascend into the heavens." Twelve days later the 
council was formally opened. Wayne displayed his credentials 
to the assembled chiefs, explained the occasion of the meeting, 
and closed by suggesting an adjournment of two or three days " to 
have a little drink" and consider the situation. The chief issue 
of the conference was immediately raised by. Little Turtle, who 
professed ignorance of the treaty of Fort Harmar and denied that 
the Miamis had had any part in it. As the negotiations pro- 
ceeded this chief strenuously opposed the cessions demanded by 
Wayne. In a speech delivered July 22 he expressed his regret 
over the division of opinion manifested by the assembled Indians, 
and claimed for his tribe all of the territory bounded on the east 
by a line from Detroit to and down the Scioto River to its mouth, 
on the south by the Ohio from this point to the mouth of the 
Wabash, and on the west by a line from the mouth of the Wabash 
to Chicago. He questioned the good faith of the Americans, 
saying they claimed the land in dispute now by cession by the 
British in 1783, now by that of the tribes who took part in the 
treaty of Fort Harmar. When, five days later, Wayne read the 
list of reservations which he proposed to embody in the treaty, 
including a tract six miles square "at the Mouth of Chikago 
River .... where a Fort formerly stood," Little Turtle 
answered that his people had never heard of it. On this par- 
ticular point the facts of history favored the red man, for there 
is no satisfactory evidence that the French had ever had a fort 
here. But force and the logic of events favored the white leader, 
and in the final draft of the treaty was included the cession of 
"One piece of Land Six Miles square at the Mouth of Chickago 
River emptying into the Southwest end of Lake Michigan where 
a fort formerly stood." 


Among those most disposed to accept the terms offered by 
Wayne were the Wyandots, to whom was intrusted one of the 
two copies of the treaty that were engrossed on parchment. 
Their leader, Tarke, responded to Little Turtle's reflections upon 
the cession made at Fort Harmar and upon those who disagreed 
with him, with a burst of eloquence characteristic of Indian 
oratory and of the figurative language which it habitually 
employed. Addressing his "Elder Brother," General Wayne, he 

"Now listen to us: The Great Spirit above has appointed 
this day for us to meet together. I shall now deliver my senti- 
ments to you, the .Fifteen Fires. I view you lying in a gore of 
blood; it is me, an Indian, who has caused it. Our tomahawk 
yet remains in your head; the English gave it to me to place 

"Elder Brother: I now take the tomahawk out of your head; 
but with so much care, that you shall not feel pain or injury. I 
will now tear a big tree up by the roots, and throw the hatchet 
into the cavity which they occupied, where the waters will wash 
it away where it can never be found. Now I have buried the 
hatchet and I expect that none of my color will ever again find 
it out 

"Brothers: Listen! I now wipe your body clean from all 
blood with this white soft linen [white wampum], and I do it 
with as much tenderness as I am capable of. You have 
appointed this house for the chiefs of the different tribes to sit in 
with you, and none but good words ought to be spoken in it. I 
swept it clean; nothing impure remains in it 

"Brother: I clear away yon hovering clouds, that we may 
enjoy a clear, bright day, and easily see the sun, which the 
Great Spirit has bestowed on us, rise and set continually " 

The negotiations were at length satisfactorily concluded, and 
all professed themselves satisfied with Wayne's demands. The 
treaty recognized the American title to the lands north of the 
Ohio bounded by a line drawn from the mouth of the Kentucky 
River to Fort Recovery, thence in a general easterly direction to 


the Muskingum, and along this river and the Cuyahoga to Lake 
Erie; in addition various reservations, aside from the one at 
Chicago, were made, most of them for the establishment of forts, 
and the free passage of the rivers and portages connecting the 
proposed chain of forts was guaranteed. In Illinois the grant 
included reservations at Chicago, at Lake Peoria, and at the 
mouth of the Illinois, and the free use of the Chicago Harbor, 
River, and Portage, and the Illinois River. On the other hand 
the Indian title to the soil was recognized, some twenty thousand 
dollars worth of presents were distributed, and the payment to 
the Indians of annuities aggregating nine thousand five hundred 
dollars was promised. 

The treaty brought to an end forty years of warfare in the 
valley of the Ohio, during which it is estimated five thousand 
whites were killed or captured. 288 For three years past the war 
had cost the government of the United States over a million 
dollars a year. The peace which Wayne brought to the frontier 
endured for fifteen years, being broken only by Tecumseh's, 
war, which shortly merged into the greater struggle between 
Great Britain and the United States in 1812. By that time the 
in-rush of settlers and the passing away of the older generation had 
wrought a material change in the condition of the Northwest; so 
that the Treaty of Greenville may fairly be said to have endured 
until the conditions which called it forth had passed away. 

While Wayne was pushing his campaign against the north- 
western Indians, which the British officials feared would end in 
their overthrow at Detroit, Washington dispatched John Jay on 
a diplomatic mission to England which was to result in the 
peaceable surrender of the northwestern posts. The differences 
between the two countries which had arisen from the unfulfilled 
treaty of 1783 had now become so serious that there was grave 
danger of a warlike termination. In the hope of preventing this 
calamity, therefore, Washington appointed Jay, in the spring of 
1794, as a special envoy to England to treat of the matters in 

" Winsor, op. cit., 494. 


During the summer the negotiations with the British govern- 
ment went slowly forward and in November a treaty was con- 
cluded. By the Americans its terms were received with bitter 
disgust, and there is even yet a difference of opinion among 
students over the question of the wisdom of Jay's conduct of the 
negotiations. The western Americans were especially loud in 
their denunciation of Jay and the treaty. 289 Yet they obtained 
by it the surrender of the British posts in the Northwest, a 
measure which constituted the logical completion of Wayne's 
work and was absolutely essential to the permanence of the peace 
so recently established on the frontier. It was stipulated that 
the posts should be evacuated on June i, 1796, and Washington 
appropriately appointed Wayne to superintend the taking pos- 
session of them by the United States. As the appointed time 
drew near the British were more ready to make the surrender 
than were the Americans to receive it. At our own request, 
therefore, possession was retained until the arrival of the reliev- 
ing forces at the various posts. During the summer and fall 
the transfers were made, the last post which was taken over 
by the Americans being Mackinac in October. Our boundaries 
in the Northwest, nominally established by the Treaty of Paris 
of 1783, were at last achieved in reality. The Indians had been 
conquered and Great Britain had retired; the Northwest was 
won for the United States. 

Roosevelt, op. cit., IV, 194-97. 



The strategic value of Chicago as a center of control for the 
region between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi had been 
recognized long before our government took the step of estab- 
lishing a fort there. On more than one occasion during the 
French regime recommendations were made to the French 
government in favor of a fort at Chicago. As early as 1697 two 
Frenchmen, Louvigny and Mantet, conceived the project of 
making a combined trading and exploring expedition from 
Canada toward Mexico by way of the Mississippi River, and to 
this end petitioned the French minister of war for a post at 
Chicago to serve as an entrepot for their enterprise. 290 The 
importance of Chicago in the struggle between the British and 
the Americans during the Revolution has already been shown. 
After Wayne's triumph at Fallen Timbers in August, 1794, the 
British officer, Simcoe, proposed to the Lords of Trade a plan for 
shutting American traders out of the Mississippi Valley by 
establishing British depots along the portages leading to it, 
particularly at the Chicago Portage. 291 The British control of 
the Northwest which Simcoe was striving to perpetuate was, 
however, about to cease, and nothing came of his project. 
Wayne's appreciation of the importance of Chicago was shown 
by his demand in the Treaty of Greenville that the Indians cede 
to the United States a tract of land six miles square at the mouth 
of the Chicago River, to serve as the site for a future fort. 

Two facts, both of them of great importance in American 
history, account for the establishment of Fort Dearborn, eight 
years after Wayne thus acquired from the Indians the title to its 
site. One was Wayne's victory over the northwestern tribes, 
the results of which were registered in this same Treaty of 

Margry, IV, 9 ff. a " Winsor, Westward Movement, 461. 



Greenville; the other, the acquisition of Louisiana by the United 
States in 1803. Probably the first of these would alone have 
been sufficient to determine the establishment ere long of a fort 
at Chicago, but the influence of the two combined rendered delay 

The victory of Wayne, by removing the menace of Indian 
hostilities, made possible the rapid settlement of the region 
northwest of the Ohio. During the next few years a veritable 
flood of immigration poured into this Northwest Territory, the 
portion nearest at hand being, as was natural, first occupied. 
Within five years of the Treaty of Greenville this portion of the 
territory was ready for statehood. In 1800, therefore, Congress 
provided for the separation of the Northwest Territory into two 
parts, and two years later the eastern section was admitted into 
the Union as the state of Ohio. The remaining portion became 
the territory of Indiana with William Henry Harrison, then a 
young man of twenty-seven, as governor. During the following 
years the line of white settlement advanced steadily, though more 
slowly, into the North and West. The two military posts 
farthest advanced in this direction were Detroit and Mackinac. 
Neither of these was advantageously situated for the adminis- 
tration of the country stretching from the upper lakes to the 

With every passing year the necessity of exercising a firmer 
control over this region became greater. The settlers must be 
protected from Indian depredations, and the lawlessness of the 
traders and other frontiersmen must be curbed. One fact of 
great importance pertained to the British control of the Indian 
trade of the Northwest. The surrender of the posts in 1796 had 
not broken the grip of the traders on this region. Until the close 
of the War of 1812 and in the remoter portion of the Northwest, 
for some years after this the influence of the Canadian traders 
over the Indians was paramount. It was impossible, therefore, 
for the United States to exercise an effective control over them, 
and a garrison to the west of Lake Michigan was needed to assist 
in wresting this commercial supremacy from the British traders. 


The acquisition of Louisiana advanced our western boundary 
from the Mississippi to the crest of the Rocky Mountains. If 
before it had been difficult to control our westernmost frontier 
from Detroit and Mackinac, with this advance it became utterly 
impossible. New outposts must be established in order to keep 
pace with both the advancing boundary and the swelling wave of 
settlement. Chicago, still far in advance of the latter, was the 
logical place for the new establishment. A garrison here in the 
heart of the Indian country would serve to protect the settle- 
ments of Indiana and lower Illinois, would perfect the com- 
munication between the latter and the posts of Detroit and 
Mackinac, and constitute a convenient center of control for the 
region between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi. 292 

Rumors of a purpose to establish a post at Chicago preceded 
by some years its actual consummation. In the winter of 1 797-98 
William Burnett, a French trader on the St. Joseph River, in- 
formed the Montreal house from which he obtained his supplies 
for the Indian trade of the expectation that a garrison would be 
established at Chicago the following summer. 293 What the basis 
for this expectation was does not appear, but evidently Burnett 
considered it probable, for in August, 1798, he wrote that he now 
had reason to expect the garrison would arrive in the fall. The 
shrewd trader's interest in the matter was due to the fact that, 
having already a house at Chicago, and "a promise of assistance 
from headquarters," he would have occasion for "a good deal 
of liquors," and some other articles, for that post. Thus rum 
attended the birth, and, as we shall see, was prominent at the 
downfall, of old Fort Dearborn. 

The "promise of assistance from headquarters" furnishes a 
possible clue to the source of Burnett's information. Though five 
years were yet to elapse before the project materialized, the letter 
is of some importance as showing that among those most inter- 
ested it had long been regarded as a probability of the near 

' See on this point the letter from Mackinac, September 6, 1803, printed in Relf's 
Philadelphia Gazette and Commercial Advertiser, November 19, 1803. 

' Hurlbut, Chicago Antiquities, 66. 


future. Early in 1803 the matter was at last determined. A 
letter from the Secretary of War, 294 dated March 9, to Colonel 
Hamtramck of the First Infantry, who was then stationed at 
Detroit, directed that an officer and six men be sent to make a 
preliminary investigation of the situation at Chicago and the 
route thither from Detroit. The party was to go by land from 
Detroit to the mouth of the St. Joseph River, marking a trail 
and noting suitable camping-places for the company which was to 
follow. Inquiry was to be made concerning the supplies of pro- 
visions which Burnett and the other traders could furnish, and a 
suitable "scite" was to be selected at St. Joseph for a temporary 
encampment of the company until preparations could be made at 
"Chikago" for its reception. In case the overland route should 
be found to be practicable for a company with packhorses for 
carrying provisions and light baggage, Colonel Hamtramck 
should order it to go, under command of a "discreet, judicious 
captain," and should send around the lakes the necessary tools 
and other equipment for the erection and maintenance of a strong 
stockade post at Chicago, together with two light fieldpieces and 
the necessary supply of ammunition. 

Six weeks later the appointment of Captain John Whistler as 
commander of the new post had been made and, soon after, he 
departed with six men to examine the route and report to Major 
Pike. 295 At the same time the firm of Robert and James Abbott 
of Detroit was considering the advantages of the post as a possible 
trading center. They report that Whistler desired them to 
establish a store there, and it is possible that the sentiment the 
culmination of which is recorded in the quaint announcement of 
Whistler to Kingsbury in November, 1804, of the marriage of his 
eldest daughter to a "gentleman of my old acquaintance (James 

Copy, by Daniel 0. Drennan, of letter of Inspector-general Gushing to Hamtramck, 
March 14, 1803, in Chicago Historical Society library. Mr. Drennan, as agent of the 
society, made exact copies of a large number of documents in the files of the War Depart- 
ment at Washington pertaining to Hull's campaign and to Fort Dearborn and early Chicago. 
These will be cited henceforth as the Drennan Papers. 

" Letter of Robert and James Abbott of Detroit to Abbott and Maxwell of Mackinac, 
April 30, 1803, copied in Chicago from 1803 to 1812, by James Grant Wilson, MS in the 
Chicago Historical Society library. 


Abbot)" 296 was already blossoming. If, as seems likely, Ham- 
tramck was responsible for Whistler's appointment to the new 
command it must have been almost his last official act, for he 
died on April n, less than a month after the issuance by the 
Inspector-general at Cumberland, Maryland, of the order for the 
establishment of the fort. 297 

At half-past five o'clock on the morning of July 14, 1803, the 
troops set out from Detroit under command of Lieutenant James 
Strode Swearingen of the artillery, then a youth of twenty-one. 298 
Swearingen had volunteered to lead the troops to Chicago for 
Captain Whistler, on account of the infirm state of the latter's 
health. Whistler and his family, together with his son Lieutenant 
William Whistler and his young wife, embarked on the schooner 
"Tracy," commanded by Lieutenant Dorr, which had been 
ordered to proceed around the lakes with provisions and military 
stores for the new post. We have the journal which Swearingen 
kept on the trip, containing observations on the country, timber, 
camping-places, and water courses. 299 The daily march varied 
greatly in length. Sometimes the start was made before five in 
the morning and the march ended by two in the afternoon; at 
other times bad weather or other obstacles necessitated a late 
start and a march of only a few miles. The route followed was 
that of the old Chicago Trail, later known as the "Chicago 
Road." It led the troops across the Rouge and Huron rivers, 
past the site of the modern city of Ypsilanti to the upper waters 
of Grand River, which flows into Lake Michigan. Thence the 
route lay across country to the St. Joseph and down this river to 
its mouth. 

a 6 Kingsbury Papers, Whistler to Kingsbury, November 3, 1804. 

' Hamtramck was a veteran soldier, having joined Montgomery's army before 
Quebec in 1776. He served throughout the remainder of the Revolution, and at its close 
continued in the army, rising by successive promotions to the rank of colonel. He was 
stationed on the northwestern frontier for many years prior to his death. At the battle of 
Fallen Timbers he commanded the left wing of the legion, and received special mention in 
Wayne's official report of the battle. 

> For an account of Swearingen's career see report of an interview with him in 1863, 
together with his own sketch of his life, preserved in the MS volume of Proceedings of the 
Chicago Historical Society, 1856-64, 348. 

' Printed as Appendix I. 


On July 25 we find Swearingen at "Kinzie's improvement" 
on the St. Joseph. The site today is occupied by the sleepy 
hamlet of Bertrand, a short distance south of Niles, and the 
highway that crosses the river here is still called the Chicago 
Road. Here the party was detained for a day while boats were 
being procured. On July 27 the expedition proceeded down the 
river, the baggage and seventeen of the men in the boats, the 
remainder of the men marching by land. From July 28 to 
August 12 the troops were encamped at the mouth of the St. 
Joseph, awaiting the arrival of the "Tracy" with needed pro- 
visions. Swearingen estimated the distance from Detroit to the 
mouth of the St. Joseph at two hundred and seventy-two miles. 
The distance by rail today is considerably less, but the expedition 
had followed the tortuous Indian trail and then the course of the 
meandering St. Joseph. The remainder of the march around the 
lake to Chicago was accomplished in three days, the troops 
marching along the lake shore. The distance according to 
Swearingen's estimate was ninety miles, and in this he was not 
far astray. Probably the rapidity of the march, averaging thirty 
miles each day, may be explained by the supposition that the bag- 
gage continued to be transported by boat, for the journal records 
that the start from St. Joseph was delayed two days by the rough- 
ness of the lake. Unless the boats continued on to Chicago this 
would, apparently, have been of no concern to the expedition. 

While the land detachment was thus marching across the 
wilderness of southern Michigan and northern Indiana, the 
"Tracy" was conveying the artillery, provisions, and heavy 
baggage around the lakes. A short stop was made at the mouth 
of the St. Joseph where the troops were supplied with provisions. 
Here the Whistlers, father and son, disembarked, and continued 
their journey to Chicago in a row-boat. 300 We have several 
accounts, each of them more or less fragmentary, of what 
happened upon the arrival of the troops at Chicago. Some of 
them are of contemporary origin, while two which will demand 

"> This circumstance was related over seventy years later by the wife of Lieutenant 
William Whistler (Hurlbut, Chicago Antiquities, 25). The reason for such a proceeding is 
not apparent. 


As a youthful lieutenant of twenty-one he led the troops to Chicago in 1803 
(By courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society) 


consideration were written over half a century later by two sur- 
viving participants in the founding of the first Fort Dearborn. 301 
Of these Swearingen's Journal is easily the most authoritative, but 
unfortunately it confines itself largely to describing the physical 
situation. The other reports help out the story by the addition 
of various details. The troops reached the Chicago River at two 
o'clock on the afternoon of August 17, after a march of twenty- 
four miles from their last camping-place on the Little Calumet. 
They found the Chicago a sluggish stream thirty yards in width 
at the bend where the fort was to be constructed. The river 
was eighteen feet or more in depth, but a sand bar at its mouth 
rendered the water dead and unfit for use. The existence of the 
bar made it possible for the troops to cross the river "dry shod" 
and encamp on the other side a short distance above its mouth. 
The river bank was eight feet high at the point where the fort 
was to be built, a half-mile above the mouth of the stream. The 
opposite bank was somewhat lower, while farther up the stream 
both banks were very low. 

Swearingen's Journal says nothing of the Indians, but in the 
sketch of his life written sixty years later he records that the 
troops were greeted on their arrival by many Indians, all of 
whom were friendly. The wife of Lieutenant Whistler, who 
came a matron of sixteen summers to the site of the future 
metropolis, relates that while the schooner was here some two 
thousand natives gathered to see the "big canoe with wings." 
Doubtless their souls were stirred at the sight by emotions even 
stronger than those which today animate their more sophisticated 
successors at sight of the schooners of the air. Three weeks later 
a Mackinac letter-writer reported to the eastern press that the 
natives opposed the commander's design of building a fort 
and threatened to collect their warriors and prevent it. 302 The 

3" Swearingen's Journal, Appendix I; his statements made in 1863 preserved in the 
Chicago Historical Society, Proceedings, 1856-64, 348; letter from Mackinac, September 6, 
1803, printed in Relf's Philadelphia Gazette, November 19, 1803; letter of Dr. William 
Smith from Fort Dearborn, December 9, 1803, to James May of Detroit, MS in Detroit 
Public Library; story of the wife of Lieutenant Whistler in 1875, Hurlbut, Chicago Antiq- 
uities, 23-28. 

'" Relfs Philadelphia Gazette, November 19, 1803. 


writer's source of information was evidently someone on board 
the "Tracy," which touched at Mackinac on its return voyage to 
Detroit. 303 Since a hostile attitude on the part of the Indians 
is not mentioned by Mrs. Whistler, and is expressly denied by 
Swearingen, we may safely ascribe the statement to the desire of 
someone to tell an interesting story. 

The construction of the stockade and a shelter for the troops 
was the commander's first care. Mrs. Whistler relates that 
there were no horses or oxen at hand, so that the soldiers were 
compelled to perform the work of dragging the timbers to their 
required positions. It seems likely, however, that there were 
some animals, though their number was probably inadequate. 
The original order for the establishment of a fort contemplated 
the use of packhorses by the troops on their overland march, and 
Whistler, writing to Kingsbury in July, 1804, complains of the 
scarcity of corn. 304 The public oxen had had none all summer, 
and when he first came here he could obtain but eighteen bushels. 
Evidently, then, the commander had oxen before many months 
elapsed, if not from the beginning. There was, however, another 
source of annoyance. If the natives did not threaten to prevent 
the building of the fort, we may be sure they made life a burden 
to the troops by their begging and petty thievery. The Illinois 
Indians had an ancient reputation, dating back to the early 
French period, for being expert thieves. When the second Fort 
Dearborn was built a dozen years later, begging and stealing by 
the Indians became such an intolerable nuisance that if we are to 
credit the assertion of Moses Morgan, who aided in its construc- 
tion, it required more men to mount guard by day to keep the 
squaws and papooses away than at night. 305 

Swearingen's statements in 1863, in Chicago Historical Society, Proceedings, 1856- 

* Kingsbury Papers, Whistler to Kingsbury, July 27, 1804. 

Moses Morgan's narrative, preserved by William R. Head, MS in Chicago His- 
torical Society library. Head was, until his death in 1910, a worker in the local historical 
field. Most of his papers have been destroyed, but a few of them are in the Chicago 
Historical Society library- and a considerably larger number are owned by his widow. 
They will be cited henceforth as the Head Papers. 


We have no such detailed account of the building of the first 
fort, but at least one characteristic incident has been preserved 
for us by Thomas G. Anderson. Anderson, who later fought on 
the British side in the War of 1812, was at this time a fur trader 
at Milwaukee. In his old age he prepared a long narrative of his 
life in the West. 306 It is vainglorious and unreliable in many 
respects, but with proper care one may glean much of interest 
and something of value from it. He relates that on learning of 
the coming of the troops to Chicago, he mounted his horse and 
went to pay a neighborly call. 307 He found Captain Whistler's 
family ensconsed temporarily in one of the wretched log huts 
which belonged to the traders, while his officers and men were 
living under canvas. Anderson accepted an invitation to dine 
with Whistler. The table was spread and the guests were 
seated, when through the door strode a band of painted warriors. 
The women shrieked and fled, leaving the men to play the r61e of 
hosts alone. The leader of the savages, unperturbed by this 
reception, proceeded to help himself to the bread on the table 
and distribute it among his warriors. Anderson berated him 
for his conduct and succeeded in inducing the band to leave; 
whereupon the doughty trader assumed to himself the credit 
of having averted a massacre of the garrison. It may seem 
hazardous to attempt to extract the kernel of truth in this tale 
from the chaff which surrounds it; however, the opinion may be 
ventured that some such scene may have occurred, but that the 
element of danger, and therewith the credit which Anderson 
assumes for his action, was wholly lacking. 

The work of construction progressed but slowly. Soon after 
their arrival the troops suffered much from bilious fevers. 308 
These abated with the coming of cold weather, but in December 
the garrison was still sheltered in small, temporary huts, and the 

For Anderson's narrative, together with a biographical sketch of the author, see 
Wisconsin Historical Collections, DC, 137 B. The narrative is unreliable in many ways, and 
its statements should be used with caution. 

>' Wisconsin Historical Collections, DC, 154-55. 

Letter of Dr. William Smith to James May, December 9, 1803. 


fort was described as "not much advanced." Fortunately the 
autumn persisted long. On December 9 the surgeon wrote to a 
friend in Detroit that there was neither snow nor ice, there had 
been but little rain or frost, and the season had been "remarkably 
fine." 30 ' 

Before leaving the subject of the building of Fort Dearborn, 
it may be well to refer to another tale in connection therewith 
which has often been repeated. 310 It is to the effect that the 
government, having decided to establish a fort on Lake Michi- 
gan, sent commissioners to St. Joseph with a view of locating it 
there; they selected a site and began preparations for erecting a 
fort, when the Indians objected, and so the commissioners passed 
on to Chicago, where Fort Dearborn was constructed. No evi- 
dence has been offered in support of this story, notwithstanding 
its improbability. In the light of documents discovered in recent 
years it is possible to suggest an explanation of its origin. We 
have seen that Colonel Hamtramck was directed to send a detail 
to explore the route and select a site at the mouth of the St. 
Joseph for a temporary camp; and that Swearingen's company 
halted here for two weeks on its way to Chicago. It is possible 
that the natives, not knowing that the camp was but a temporary 
one, protested against it and believed their protest responsible 
for the removal of the troops to Chicago. 

We may now turn our attention to the civilian population of 
Chicago at the time of the establishment of Fort Dearborn, and 
in this connection to what is known of the first white man who 
settled at this point. Here as elsewhere, in connection with the 
history of early Chicago, the truth has been obscured by a mass 
of tradition, fostered in large part by family pride. The effort 
to fix upon any certain person the distinction of being the first 
resident of Chicago is idle. Traders and other travelers passed 
through the place more or less frequently from the time of 
Marquette on, and at various times individuals, ordinarily 

> Letter of Dr. William Smith to James May, December 9, 1803. 
"The earliest publication of the story which I have found occurs in the Michigan 
Pioneer Collections, I, 122. 


traders, established themselves here for a shorter or longer period. 
The story of Father Pinet's mission of the Guardian Angel at 
Chicago near the close of the seventeenth century has already 
been noted. 3 " After this there are several more or less shadowy 
traditions of dwellers on the banks of the Chicago River during 
the second half of the eighteenth century. The earliest of these 
deals with a remarkable woman, whose career as painted for us 
by Reynolds would be difficult to parallel elsewhere in history. 312 
Born of French parents of the name of La Flamme at St. Joseph 
on Lake Michigan in 1734, she first migrated to Mackinac. 
From thence with her husband, Pilette de Sainte Ange, she 
removed to Chicago about the year 1765. After some years' 
residence here her husband died and she removed to the French 
settlement of Cahokia, where she married a Canadian named 
La Compt and reared a large family of children. Widowed 
again, she became in due time the wife of Tom Brady. No 
issue resulted from this union, and Mrs. Brady was destined to 
still another widowhood, dying at Cahokia in 1843 at the a g e f 
one hundred and nine years. 

Governor Reynolds knew Mrs. La Compt, as she was com- 
monly known after Brady's death, for thirty years, and describes 
her as a woman of strong mind and an extraordinary constitu- 
tion, and endowed with the courage and energies of a heroine. 
The Indians were her neighbors from her infancy until extreme 
old age; she became familiar with their language and their char- 
acter, and over the Pottawatomies and other tribes she developed 
a remarkable influence. This she frequently exerted during the 
stormy days of the Revolution to protect the French settlers 
from attack by the hostile warriors, and later, in the early days 
of American domination in Illinois, she continued to shield the 
white settlers. Reynolds avers that on numerous occasions she 
was awakened in the dead of night by her Indian friends to give 
her warning of an impending attack in order that she might leave 

>" Supra, pp. 38-42. 

" Reynolds, Pioneer History of Illinois, 168-69. The story is told, also, with certain 
variations and additional details, by Wm. R. Head (Head Papers, owned by his widow). 


Cahokia. Instead of seeking her own safety, however, she 
would set out alone to meet the hostile war party, and never 
failed to avert the storm and prevent bloodshed. She sometimes 
remained with the warriors for days, appeasing their anger and 
urging wise counsels upon them. In due time the anxious 
villagers, who had been watching meanwhile with arms in their 
hands for the expected attack, would see Mrs. La Compt ap- 
proach at the head of a band of warriors, their angry passions 
stilled and their war paint changed to somber black to manifest 
their sorrow for having entertained hostile designs against 
their friends. A feast would usually follow, cementing the 
reconciliation which Mrs. La Compt had been instrumental in 
effecting, and the warriors would disperse. 

That tradition has exaggerated the influence and services of 
Mrs. La Compt is quite probable. But making due allowance 
for this, the impression remains that she was a woman of unusual 
vigor and strength of character, and it seems appropriate that 
her name should head the ever-lengthening list of white women 
who have been residents of Chicago. The next tangible tradition 
of white occupation of Chicago is contained in a story told to 
Gurdon S. Hubbard by the trader, Antoine De Champs. 313 He 
pointed out to the youthful Hubbard the traces of corn hills on 
the west side of the North Branch, and related that as early as 
1778 a trader by the name of Guarie had lived here, from whom 
the river had taken its name. Hubbard gives further details 
concerning Guarie's trading house, taking pains to point out, 
however, that the statements are based on oral tradition. But 
this tradition is corroborated in one respect at least, for as late 
as 1823 the North Branch was called the "Gary" river by the 
historian of Major Long's expedition. 314 

Our only knowledge of Guarie's residence at Chicago is con- 
tained in the story recorded by Hubbard, but with the mixed- 
breed negro, Baptiste Point Du Sable, we reach more solid 
ground. The traditional account of his Chicago career, first 

j' For it see Blanchard, Discovery and Conquests of the Northwest, 757-58. 
Keating, Narrative of an Expedition to the Sources of the St. Peter's River .... 
in 1823, 1, 172. 


recorded by Mrs. Kinzie 315 and afterward repeated and enlarged 
upon by others, 316 must be regarded as largely fictitious and 
wholly unauthenticated. But by assembling the information 
contained in a number of documents widely scattered as to date 
and origin it is possible to learn much about him. 317 The usual 
accounts, following Mrs. Kinzie, represent Du Sable to have been 
a native of San Domingo. Matson, on the other hand, states that 
he was a runaway slave from the vicinity of Lexington, Kentucky, 
and describes his coming to Chicago and his supposed doings here 
with much circumstantial detail. 318 Much of this is obviously 
imaginary, and the two accounts are probably equally unworthy 
of credence. In general, Du Sable's occupation seems to have 
been that of a trader, though according to his own testimony he 
had improved a thirty-acre farm at Peoria as early as zySo. 319 

As a trader he moved from place to place and the date of his 
settlement at Chicago and the regularity of his stay here are alike 
uncertain. De Peyster says that he was here in 1779, and also 
darkly hints at some punishment meted out to him by Langlade, 
the reputed "father of Wisconsin." 320 In the summer of that 
year, however, we find him established with a house on the River 

"s Mrs. John H. Kinzie, Wau Bun, the "Early Day" in the Northwest, Caxton Club 
edition. This work has been reprinted several times since its first appearance in 1856. 
Page references to it in this work are to the Caxton Club edition of 1901. 

i4 See, for example, Mason, "Early Visitors to Chicago," in New England Magazine, 
VI, 205-6. 

" The following sources, on a study of which the accompanying account of Du Sable is 
based, contain practically all the information I have been able to collect concerning him: 
Kinzie, Wau Bun, 146; De Peyster's allusion, in speech to the Indians at PArbre Croche 
July 4, 1779, in Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVIII, 384; McCulloch, Early Days of 
Peoria and Chicago, 91-92; "Recollections of Augustin Grignon," in Wisconsin Historical 
Collections, III, 292; Lieutenant Bennett's report of arrest of Du Sable, August, 1779, in 
Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVII, 399; inventory of goods taken from Du Sable by 
Bennett, in Michigan Pioneer Collections, X, 366; Journal of Hugh Reward (MS original 
owned by Clarence M. Burton of Detroit; I have used the copy in the Chicago Historical 
Society library); Schoolcraft, Personal Memoirs, 478; Draper Collection, S, Vols. XXI 
and XXII, passim; McCulloch, "Old Peoria," in Illinois State Historical Society, Trans- 
actions, 1901, 46. 

3' 8 Matson, N., French and Indians oj Illinois River, 187-91. Matson's information 
purports to have been obtained from a grandson of Du Sable. 

>' McCulloch, Early Days of Peoria and Chicago, 91. 

" Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVIII, 384; see also in this connection ibid., 
399, note 98. 


Chemin, later known as Trail Creek, probably on the site of 
Michigan City, Indiana. Here he was arrested by Lieutenant 
Bennett, who had been sent by De Peyster toward Vincennes to 
forestall an anticipated attack on Mackinac by George Rogers 
Clark. 321 Du Sable's offense seems to have consisted only in his 
attachment to the American cause, and even his captor speaks 
highly of him. Curiously enough, he was in the employ of a 
British trader, Durand, at Mackinac, who this same summer had 
undertaken to guide a British war party to the Illinois country to 
co-operate with Bennett. The goods which Bennett seized from 
Du Sable belonged to Durand, who proceeded to file a claim with 
his government for their value. Because of this circumstance 
there is preserved an itemized inventory of Du Sable's stock in 
trade. 322 Perhaps the most interesting entry, aside from the 
quaint designation of Du Sable as a "naigre Libre," is the rum, 
ten barrels of twenty gallons each, with a value nearly twice as 
great as all of the remainder of the stock. 

Whatever his nativity may have been, Du Sable proved, at 
least to the satisfaction of a government commission, that he 
was a citizen of the United States. In pursuance of a series of 
congressional acts and resolutions providing for grants in the 
Illinois country to citizens of the United States who had made 
improvements or who were heads of families, Du Sable made 
proof that both before and after 1783 he had resided at Peoria, 
that he was the head of a family, and that he had improved a farm 
of thirty acres at Peoria as early as lySo. 323 The commission 
therefore reported that he was entitled to eight hundred acres of 
land. How long after 1783 he continued to reside at Peoria does 
not appear, but in 1790 we find him established at Chicago near 
the mouth of the river. Whether, as Mrs. Kinzie suggests, he 
went into politics and sought election as a chief of the Pottawat- 
omies is dubious, 324 but when Heward passed through Chicago 

Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVIII, 399. 
"' Michigan Pioneer Collections, X, 366. 
McCulloch, Early Days of Peoria and Chicago, 91. 

< Mrs. Kinzie's brief statement on this point is greatly enlarged and improved upon by 
Matson, French and Indians of Illinois River, 188-91. 


in the spring of 1790, he was entertained by Du Sable. The 
traveler exchanged some cotton cloth with him for a supply of 
food, and also borrowed his boat. Four years later he was still 
here, if Grignon's recollections are to be trusted. Alexander 
Robinson in his old age related that Du Sable, who had long lived 
at Chicago and was prominent among the Indians, came to 
Mackinac about the year 1796, accompanied by quite a band of 
Indians in several birch-bark canoes. The British greeted him 
on his arrival by the discharge of cannon. 325 

The accounts we have of the personality and character of Du 
Sable are for the most part highly creditable to him. Robinson 
describes him as tall and of commanding appearance. Another 
observer, Stephen Hempstead, who was acquainted with him in 
his old age, describes him as quite gray and venerable, about six 
feet in height, with a well-formed figure and a very pleasant 
countenance. 326 De Peyster, himself a rhymster and a friend of 
Robert Burns, calls him " handsome" and well educated. 
Doubtless in this case allowance should be made for poetic 
license and for the fact that the poet probably never actually saw 
the subject of his verse. Grignon recalled that Du Sable "drank 
pretty freely," and Robinson stated that he danced and caroused 
with the Indians and "drank badly." By way of palliation of 
this charge it may be noted that drinking was a habit common 
alike to Du Sable's age and his profession. There is a much 
larger mass of testimony in Du Sable's favor to offset this venial 
habit. Hempstead, who has already been quoted, says that he 
was not degraded, and that he appeared to be respected by those 
who knew him. Long years after his death the observant 
Schoolcraft recorded the information received from Mrs. La 
Framboise, an aged metif lady at Mackinac, that he was "a 
respectable man." 327 But the strongest praise comes from Lieu- 
tenant Bennett, Du Sable's captor in 1779. He reported to 
De Peyster that since his imprisonment Du Sable had behaved 

Interview with Lyman C. Draper, Draper Collection, S, XXI, 276. 

"Interview of Lyman C. Draper with Hempstead, Draper Collection, S, XXII, 177. 

J" Schoolcraft, Personal Memoirs, 478. 


in every respect as became a man in his situation, and that he 
had many friends who gave him a good character. 

According to the tradition preserved by Mrs. Kinzie, Du Sable 
withdrew from Chicago to the home of a friend in Peoria, where 
he terminated his career. Alexander Robinson stated that he 
went off to the region of St. Louis and died there, probably before 
the beginning of the War of i8i2. 328 A more specific and, appar- 
ently, reliable account of his last years is furnished by Hemp- 
stead. 329 He states that Du Sable had no goods in these last 
years, but spent his time hunting and fishing and lived by himself. 
He had a hut near the mouth of the Osage River, and here he 
died, probably about the year 1811. 

When the troops came to Chicago in 1803 they found four huts 
or cabins here, belonging to some French Canadian traders. 330 
One of these was occupied by Le Mai, who had bought out Du 
Sable, one by Ouilmette, and a third by Fettle. The fourth, 
apparently, belonged to Kinzie and was at this time vacant. 
Doctor Smith, the first surgeon at Fort Dearborn, and John La 
Lime shortly secured possession of it for the winter and fitted it 
up in a comfortable manner for their joint occupancy. 331 

Our information concerning Fettle is meager. According to 
Mrs. Whistler he was a French Canadian living here with an 
Indian wife when the garrison came in 1803 . 33Z The entries in 
John Kinzie's account books show that his first name was Louis, 
and that he either dealt in furs or himself hunted them. 333 His 
name occurs at intervals down to 1812, showing that he was a 
resident of Chicago during the entire period. With the last 
entry of his name in Kinzie's account book he disappears from 
history. Possibly it may have been his fate to fight and die 
with the Chicago militia at the baggage wagons on the fatal day 
of evacuation in the summer of 1812. 

" 8 Interview with Lyman C. Draper, Draper Collection, S, XXI, 276. 

> Ibid., XXII, 177. 

" Hurlbut, Chicago Antiquities, 25. 

Letter of Dr. Smith to James May, December 9, 1803. 

Hurlbut, Chicago Antiquities, 25. > Barry Transcript. 


Ouilmette claimed to have come to Chicago in I7QO. 334 He 
was illiterate, and the statement, uncorroborated as it is, must 
be accepted with caution. We know, however, that when the 
soldiers came to establish the fort he was living with his Indian 
wife in one of the four huts which they found here. 335 When 
Doctor Cooper came to Fort Dearborn as post surgeon five years 
later, there were still but four houses on the north side of the 
river, of which Ouilmette's was one. 336 Ouilmette's chief de- 
pendence for a livelihood, apparently, was on the transporta- 
tion of travelers and their baggage across the portage. It has 
already been shown that the French settlers at Chicago carried on 
this business in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. 337 
That Ouilmette was engaged in this work was stated by Mr. 
Bain to Rev. William Barry, founder and first secretary of the 
Chicago Historical Society. 338 An entry in Kinzie's account 
book charges him for the use of a wagon and oxen to transport 
goods over the portage to the "Fork" of the Illinois River. 339 

In the summer of 1820 John Tanner, who had been for thirty 
years a captive among the Indians, passed through Chicago with 
his family, going by canoe from Mackinac to St. Louis. 340 His 
progress was halted here for a time by the low stage of water in 
the Illinois River. During this time he suffered greatly from 
illness and destitution; he was rescued from his plight by a 
Frenchman who had been to carry some boats across the portage. 
His wife, who was an Indian, usually accompanied him on such 
expeditions. Although his horses were much worn from their 
long journey, he agreed for a moderate price to transport Tanner 
and his canoe sixty miles, and, if his horses should hold out, twice 
this distance, the length of the portage at this stage of the river. 
In addition he lent Tanner, who was weak from illness, a young 
horse to ride. Before the sixty miles had been traversed the 

Ouilmette to John (H.) Kinzie, June i, 1839, in Blanchard, The Northwest and 
Chicago, I, 574. 

"sHurlbut, Chicago Antiquities, 25. "'Barry Transcript. 

M Wilson, Chicago from 1803 to 1812. '"Ibid., entry for June 14, 1806. 

M7 Supra, p. 19. Tanner's Narrative, 257-58. 


Frenchman was himself taken sick, and as there was now some 
water in the river Tanner dismissed him and attempted to 
descend the river in his canoe. That this Frenchman was 
Ouilmette seems probable. If so, the narrative throws an inter- 
esting light upon both his business and his character. It shows 
that the transporting of travelers over the portage was a common 
occupation of Ouilmette, and further that he was not inclined 
to take an unfair advantage of a weak and destitute traveler. 

Mrs. Kinzie represents that in 1812 Ouilmette was "a part 
of the establishment" of John Kinzie, and relates a remarkable 
story of the rescue by his family of Mrs. Helm and Sergeant 
Griffith from impending slaughter at the hands of the Wabash 
Indians. 341 That Ouilmette may have been employed more or 
less by Kinzie is not unlikely; but the details of the rescue story, 
however creditable to his family, are so improbable as to challenge 
belief. It has been said that Ouilmette remained in Chicago 
after the massacre, being the only white inhabitant during the 
next few years. 342 However this may be, the new garrison which 
came in 1816 found him living here in serene possession. 343 
With him, too, was the half-breed chief, Alexander Robinson, 
and the two were engaged by the soldiers to harrow the ground 
for a vegetable garden for the garrison. That Ouilmette con- 
tinued to reside here after this time is shown by the occasional 
mention of his name by travelers and others as one of the 
inhabitants of the place. 344 In 1825 he was credited with taxable 
property to the amount of four hundred dollars, according to the 
earliest known Chicago assessment roll, and his name is found 
the following year on the first Chicago poll list. 345 

But little can be said of the character of Ouilmette. His deal- 
ings with Tanner, which have already been recounted, argue well 

w Kinzie, Wau Bun, 182-86. 

"Hurlbut, Chicago Antiquities, 452; Andreas, History of Chicago, I, 184. I have 
found no indication of the authority on which these statements rest. 

i Head Papers, Narrative of Moses Morgan. 

See, for example, Hubbard, Life, 37; John H. Fonda, "Recollections," in Wisconsin 
Historical Collections, V, 216. 

> Blanchard, The Northwest and Chicago, I, 516-17. 


for his fairness and humanity. That he was possessed of more 
thrift than was the typical frontier French habitant of this period 
would seem to be attested by the facts already noted. Moses 
Morgan, who was employed in the construction of the second 
Fort Dearborn, had a poor opinion of Ouilmette and described 
his appearance as that of a "medium sized half starved Indian." 
He was a Roman Catholic and signed the petition for the 
establishment of the first Catholic church in Chicago. 346 

We are now ready to consider the reputed "father of 
Chicago," John Kinzie. According to Mrs. Kinzie, the family 
historian, he was born at Quebec in 1763. Shortly afterward his 
parents moved to Detroit, where the father died while John was 
still in infancy. His mother later married William Forsyth, 
who removed to New York City, where the boy's early childhood 
was passed. At the age of ten or eleven he ran away from home, 
and, making his way to Quebec, fell into the hands of a silver- 
smith from whom he learned enough of the trade to enable him 
to make the ornaments which so delighted the simple red man. 
Meanwhile his mother's family returned to Detroit where, later, 
it was rejoined by the runaway son. In time he engaged in the 
Indian trade, carrying on operations in various places. The same 
authority states that his earlier establishments were at Sandusky 
and Maumee, 347 and this is confirmed by two independent sources. 
About the time of St. Glair's defeat Joseph Brant, the famous 
Iroquois chieftain, purchased a horse and other supplies from 
"Mr. Kinzie, Silver Smith at the Miami." 348 Henry Hay, who 
passed the winter of 1789-90 at the Miami settlement, makes 
frequent mention of Kinzie in the journal which he kept of his 
travels. 349 According to the journal Kinzie had both a house 
and a shop and "apprentices." Hay draws an interesting 
picture of the life of the little settlement. Neither social nor 

M Andreas, History of Chicago, I, 289. For additional data about the Ouilmette 
family see Grover, Some Indian Landmarks of the North Shore, 277 ff. 

Kinzie, Wait Bun, 149. ' Michigan Pioneer Collections, XX, 336. 

Journal from Detroit to the Miami River, MS in the Detroit Public Library. The 
journal is anonymous, but Mr. Clarence M. Burton, who has a typewritten copy of it, 
ascribes it to Henry Hay. 


religious consolation was lacking, and Hay played his flute and 
Kinzie his fiddle indifferently for drinking bout and mass. At 
times the two classes of entertainment followed each other so 
closely that the musicians went reeling from one to the other. 
"Got infernally drunk last night with Mr. Abbot and Mr. 
Kinzie," wrote the journalist on one occasion. "Mr. A. gave 
me his daughter Betsy over the bottle. Damnation sick this 
morning in consequence of last night's debashe eat no break- 
fast. Kinzie & myself went to mass and played as usual. Mrs. 
Ranjard gave us a Cup of Coffee before mass to settle our heads." 
During these years Kinzie was, of course, in league with the 
enemies of the United States. Hay makes frequent mention of 
the bringing in of American prisoners by the Indians, and of the 
presence of Little Turtle, Blue Jacket, and other chiefs hostile to 
the Americans, at the village. In the autumn of 1 793 Kinzie was 
still at the Maumee Rapids, where he incurred the suspicion of 
the Indians by his communications with Wells, one of Wayne's 
chief scouts. 350 Probably his establishment was destroyed, along 
with those of the other British traders, by the American army 
following the battle of Fallen Timbers. The family historian 
states that he removed to the St. Joseph River about the year 
i8oo, 3SI but he must have located there at an earlier date, for 
William Burnett in 1798 speaks of him as "Mr. McKenzie of 
this place." 352 Apparently, however, while carrying on trade 
with the Indians at these places Kinzie retained some connection 
with Detroit. Hurlbut found evidence in the Wayne County 
records that he was doing business there in 1795 and again 
in I797. 353 In 1798 he married Mrs. Eleanor McKillip, 354 the 

Michigan Pioneer Collections, XX, 342, 347. Kinzie, Wau Bun, 349. 

Hurlbut, Chicago Antiquities, 67. Kinzie is a corruption of the Scotch name 
Mackenzie, which was the name of Kinzie's father. 

j Hurlbut, Chicago Antiquities, 469. 

Kinzie had formed an earlier connection with a woman of the same family name as 
his own, Margaret McKenzie. The story that has been handed down to us of her career, 
while doubtless idealized through dint of repetition, well illustrates the possibilities for 
adventure of life on the American border a century and a quarter ago. In the course of 
Lord Dunmore's war, Margaret and Elizabeth McKenzie were carried away from their 
Virginia home into captivity among the Indians. The children were adopted by a Shawnee 


widow of a Detroit militia officer in the British Indian service 
who had been slain on the Maumee during Wayne's campaign 
against the northwestern tribes. Mrs. McKillip had a daughter, 
Margaret, whom we shall meet later as the wife of Lieutenant 
Helm of the Fort Dearborn garrison. 

In the spring of 1804 Kinzie became a resident of Chicago. 
The last entry in his account book at St. Joseph bears date of 
April 30, 1804, while the first at Chicago occurs on May 12. 
The hut which Du Sable and Le Mai had in turn occupied now 
became the habitation of Kinzie. His business prospered and 
he conducted trading "adventures" at Peoria, on the Kankakee, 
and elsewhere, in addition to the main establishment at 
Chicago. 355 By the massacre and the train of events brought on 

chief who lived near the Indian town of Chillicothe in western Ohio. Years later, when they 
had grown to womanhood, Margaret, the elder, accompanied her foster parent on a hunting 
expedition to the vicinity of the modern Fort Wayne, Indiana. Here a young brave sought 
to force her to marry him. Spurning his attentions, she mounted a horse by night and fled 
through the forest a distance of seventy-five miles to her Indian home. The horse is said to 
have died from the effects of the wild ride, but the maiden was made of sterner stuff. At 
length Margaret McKenzie became the wife of John Kinzie, and her sister, Elizabeth, the 
wife of a Scotchman named Clark. Whether the two white men rescued the women from 
captivity and were rewarded for this service by their respective hands, or the old chief 
voluntarily brought them to Detroit on a visit, where the marriages were brought about in 
the usual way, depends upon which faction of Kinzie's descendants tells the story. So, too, 
it is still a matter of dispute whether or not the union was cemented by a formal marriage 
ceremony. Whatever the truth in these respects may be, the unions endured for a number 
of years, two children being born to the Clarks and three to the Kinzies. With the restora- 
tion of peace to the northwestern frontier in ijgs Isaac McKenzie, the father, learned of the 
whereabouts of his long-lost children. He journeyed to Detroit to see them, and when he 
returned to his home in Virginia his daughters with their children accompanied him, leaving 
their woodland husbands behind. 

Conflicting explanations, colored in each case by partisan pride, have been given of the 
reasons for this untimely breaking-up of the two families. Since the only evidence in the 
premises is family tradition, it seems vain to seek to determine where the truth lies. 
Margaret Kinzie later married Benjamin Hall, while her sister became the wife of Jonas 
Clybourne. Two of the former's children by Kinzie, James and Elizabeth, in later years 
came to Chicago; so, too, did the Halls and the Clybournes; and these various family 
groups comprised a considerable proportion of the population of Chicago in the later 
twenties. On the subject of this footnote see Blanchard, The Northwest and Chicago; 
Hurlbut, Chicago Antiquities; Andreas, Chicago; Gordon, John Kinzie, the "Father of 
Chicago." For obvious reasons the Kinzie family historian makes no mention in Watt Bun 
of this feature of her father-in-law's career. Mr. Clarence M. Burton has a genealogy 
(MS) of the Kinzie family to which descendants respectively of John Kinzie's first and 
second families have contributed their views concerning the legitimacy of the former. 

M Barry Transcript; Kinzie, Wau Bun, 150. 


by the War of 1812, however, Kinzie's property was largely 
destroyed and his business was ruined. After his return to 
Chicago in 1816 the formidable competition of the American 
Fur Company combined with other causes to prevent him from 
achieving the degree of success which he had attained during the 
years from 1803 to 1812. 

The propriety of designating Kinzie the "father of Chicago" 
is dubious. No one individual can properly claim exclusive right 
to this title. The event which, more adequately than any other, 
signalizes the beginning of modern white settlement here was the 
founding of Fort Dearborn; and the man who with more pro- 
priety than any other may be regarded as the "father" of the 
modern city is Captain John Whistler, who built the first fort and 
for seven years dominated the life within and around its walls. 
He came in obedience to an order, of course, as an officer in the 
army. Kinzie, on the other hand, came nearly a year later to 
conduct the usual Indian tradinghouse. There is no reason to 
suppose that he would have come to Chicago at all, but for the 
prior establishment of the garrison. Yet several other traders 
had established themselves here, not only before Kinzie, but 
also before the garrison came. 

It has been stated that for nearly twenty years Kinzie was the 
only white inhabitant of northern Illinois outside the military. 356 
So far is this from being true that there was never a moment of 
time during his residence at Chicago when he was the only civilian 
here. Particularly during the latter years of his life, a number of 
civilians were living in Chicago and in the immediate vicinity. 
The undue prominence in this period of Chicago history which 
Kinzie has come to hold in the popular mind is due to the fact 
that he gained, after his death, a daughter-in-law who possessed 
the literary skill to weave a romantic narrative celebrating the 
family name and deeds. 

The name of Kinzie is unpleasantly associated with two other 
characters of these early years, John La Lime and Jeffrey Nash. 
La Lime was at St. Joseph in 1787, apparently in the employ of 
William Burnett. 357 Whether he located at Chicago before the 

s Kinzie, Wan Bun, 146-47. ' Hurlbut, Chicago Antiquities, 55. 


garrison came is not apparent; if not, he came the same year. 
Shortly after the arrival of the garrison he and Doctor Smith, the 
surgeon, began living together; they secured Kinzie's house for 
the first winter and fitted it up "in a very comfortable man- 
ner." 358 The fourth name entered in Kinzie's account book after 
his removal to Chicago in May, 1804, is that of La Lime. 359 In 
the same month he signed as witness the articles of indenture of 
Jeffrey Nash to Kinzie and Forsyth, "Merchants of Chicago." 360 
When Cooper came to Fort Dearborn as surgeon in 1808, La 
Lime was living in one of the four houses on the north side of the 
river and acting as government Indian interpreter. 361 He con- 
tinued to serve in this capacity until his death shortly before 
the massacre in the summer of 1812. 

But for a single exception, all the reports concerning La 
Lime's character which have come to light are highly creditable 
to him. His few remaining letters show him to have been a man 
of some education. The esteem in which Jouett held him is 
shown by his naming a son after him. 362 Doctor Smith, who was 
living with him in the winter of 1803-4, described him as "a very 
decent man and a good companion." 363 

In the summer of 1812, a few weeks before the massacre, 
La Lime was stabbed to death by Kinzie in a personal encounter 
just outside the entrance to Fort Dearborn. Unless new sources 
of information shall come to light, the responsibility for this 
affray will never be determined. La Lime's side of the story 
has not been preserved, except in the form of unreliable verbal 
tradition, which pictures Kinzie in the light of aggressor and 
murderer. 364 The Kinzie family tradition represents that La 
Lime, insanely jealous over Kinzie's success as a trader, treacher- 
ously attacked him, armed with a pistol and dirk, and was 

Letter of Dr. William Smith to James May, December 9, 1803. 

js9 Barry Transcript. 

jThis document is preserved in the Draper Collection, Forsyth Papers, I, Doc- 
No. I. 

><" Wilson, Chicago from 1803 to 1812. *' Hurlbut, Chicago Antiquities, 108. 

ji Letter of Dr. William Smith to James May, December 9, 1803. 

i< Head Papers. Head was acquainted with various pioneer Chicagoans, and his 
statements purport to be drawn from such sources. His methods of work were such, how- 
ever, that but little confidence can be had in his statements. 


stabbed to death by Kinzie in self-defense. 365 Practically all 
writers on Chicago history hitherto have accepted this version, 366 
but it is as little worthy of credence as the contrary one. The 
interest in the killing of La Lime must, in the nature of things, 
have soon given place to the general anxiety over the situation 
produced by the hovering war cloud which was now about 
to burst. Within four months came the massacre, 367 as the 
result of which over half of the inmates of the frontier settle- 
ment were slain and the remainder scattered far and wide. 
But few of them ever returned to Chicago, and these, like 
Rip Van Winkle, drifted back after the passage of years, as 
to a new world. That the fate of La Lime should be oblit- 
erated by the horrors and confusion of a three years' war was 
only natural. When in a later generation interest in his fate 
was revived only the version of it originating with the relatives 
and friends of the slayer gained the public ear, and this, for 
obvious reasons, put the onus of the affray on the slain. The 
fact of La Lime's death at the hands of Kinzie is clear; the 
responsibility for it cannot, in the light of existing information, 
be determined. 

On May 22, 1804, articles of indenture were entered into 
which bound Jeffrey Nash, a "Negro man," to serve John Kinzie 
and Thomas Forsyth, " Merchants of Chicago," for the term of 
seven years. 368 The instrument describes Nash as an inhabit- 
ant of Wayne County, although it was executed, apparently, at 

>' The details of the affair vary, naturally, in the different accounts. For the Kinzie 
family tradition see Eleanor Kinzie Gordon, John Kinzie, the "Father of Chicago," 8-9; 
letter of Gurdon S. Hubbard, in Wentworth, Early Chicago, Fergus Historical Series, No. 16, 
83; Mrs. Porthier's narrative in Andreas, History of Chicago, I, 105. Hubbard procured his 
information from the members of Kinzie's family. Mrs. Porthier, who in old age claimed to 
have been an eyewitness of the killing of La Lime, was an inmate of the Kinzie household 
for several years following 1816. 

" See for example Wentworth, Early Chicago; Kirkland, The Chicago Massacre; 
Andreas, History of Chicago. 

j" I have not been able to determine the exact date of the death of La Lime. It could 
not have been earlier than April 13, however, since on this date he wrote to Captain Wells of 
Fort Wayne an account of the murders at the Lee farm on April 6 (Louisiana Gazette, May 
30, 1812, copied by Lyman C. Draper, Draper Collection, S, Vol. XXVI). 

>" Draper Collection, Forsyth Papers, I, Doc. No. i. 


Chicago. 36 ' The Chicago of 1804 was located in Wayne County, 
Indiana Territory, whose county seat was Detroit, over three 
hundred miles away. In return for meat, drink, apparel, washing, 
and lodging "fitting for a Servant," Nash bound himself to the 
maintenance of an utterly impossible standard of conduct. 370 
Doubtless the quaint language of the indenture simply followed 
the customary form of such documents ; it can scarcely have been 
expected that the bound man would live up to its numerous 

Nash signed the instrument by making his mark. It might 
reasonably be concluded, even in the absence of other informa- 
tion concerning him , that this indenture practically reduced him 
to slavery. That Kinzie and Forsyth chose to so regard Nash's 
status is shown by their treatment of him. He was taken to 
Peoria, Forsyth's place of residence from 1802 until 1812, and for 
many years held by the latter as a slave. 371 At length he ran 
away from his bondage and made his way to St. Louis, and 
eventually to New Orleans, where he was said to have had a wife 
and children. Forsyth and Kinzie sought to recover possession 
of him and to this end a suit was instituted in the parish court ; 
the case went ultimately to the Supreme Court of Louisiana, 
where an interesting decision was rendered. 372 

> That the indenture was entered into at Chicago I infer from the facts that Kinzie 
opened his account books here on May 12, and numerous entries in them were made during 
the ensuing ten days, and that the name of John La Lime, one of the witnesses of the 
indenture, occurs among the entries for May 12. 

>' Among the other things it was agreed that for the space of seven years "the said 
servant his said Masters shall faithfully serve their Secrets keep their lawfully Command 
everywhere gladly Obey. He shall do no damage to his said Masters. He shall not wast 
his Masters goods nor lend them unlawfully to others. He shall not commit Fornication nor 
contract Matrimony within said Term. At dice Cards or any unlawful game he shall not 
play where by his said Masters may be damaged with his own goods or the goods of others 
during the said Term without licence of his said Masters he shall neither buy nor sell he shall 
not absent day nor night from his said Masters Service without their leave nor haunt 
Taverns or any place or places without permission from said Masters but in all things 
behave as a faithful Servant ought to do during the said Term." 

" Draper Collection, Forsyth Papers, Vol. I, copy of decision of the Supreme Court of 
Louisiana, June 5, 1816, in the case of Kensy and Forsyth, plaintiffs, versus Jeffrey Nash, 

j" The summary given here is based on the manuscript copy of the decision in the 
Forsyth Papers. The case is reported in Martin, Louisiana Reports, II, 180. 


The plaintiffs submitted two lines of evidence in support of 
their contention that Nash was their lawful slave. A number of 
witnesses testified that for a term of years he had lived at Peoria 
as Forsyth's slave, being " known and reputed" as such by the 
villagers. Furthermore the plaintiffs produced a bill of sale of 
Nash to them, dated at Detroit, September 5, 1803, and there 
recorded and duly authenticated. In view of the fact that the 
articles of indenture whereby Nash bound himself "voluntarily 
as a servant" to Kinzie and Forsyth for a term of seven years 
were executed in May, 1804, there seems to be no escape from 
the conclusion that the bill of sale was a forgery, fabricated for 
the use to which it was now put. Although it deceived the court, 
the fraud brought no profit to the plaintiffs. The judges 
declared that since the Ordinance of 1787 prohibited slavery in 
the Northwest Territory unless under two exceptions, the plain- 
tiffs' "alleged possession" of Nash could only have been lawful 
at the time the bill of sale was produced on two grounds. There 
could be complete ownership and slavery only in case the person 
claimed had been convicted of a crime by which his freedom was 
forfeited. Or, if the defendant were a fugitive from involuntary 
servitude in another state, he might be seized and returned to 
servitude there. 

The plaintiffs did not claim Nash on this latter ground, how- 
ever. Their contention was for the absolute right to hold Nash 
during his natural life and dispose of him as they pleased. Their 
conduct toward him showed that they unlawfully attempted to, 
and did successfully, exercise for years the right of absolute con- 
trol over him, until he at last sought safety in flight. Since no 
evidence had been produced to show that Nash had forfeited his 
freedom because of conviction for crime, the decision was given 
for him with costs. Thus did the Supreme Court of the slave 
state of Louisiana uphold the free character of the soil of Illinois, 
and rescue a free man from bondage, at a time when slavery 
openly flourished here, and slaves were bought and sold and held 
in bondage even by such prominent characters as the governor 
of the territory. 



The privations and loneliness of life at the new post on the 
Chicago River in the years following 1803 can be imagined by 
most readers only with difficulty. Only those who have expe- 
rienced the deadly dulness of military routine at an isolated 
station can appreciate it properly. All witnesses agree in testify- 
ing to the overpowering loneliness of life under such conditions 
as prevailed at Fort Dearborn from 1803 to 1812. "In compas- 
sion to a poor devil banished to another planet," wrote Governor 
St. Clair, from Cincinnati, to Alexander Hamilton, in 1795, 
" tell me what is doing in yours, if you can snatch a moment from 
the weighty cares of your office." 373 One day in October, 1817, 
a year after the establishment of the second Fort Dearborn, 
Samuel A. Storrow, who was making a tour through the North- 
west, appeared on the north bank of the Chicago River, and 
shortly after entered the fort, where he was received "as one 
arrived from the moon." 374 A British officer, writing from 
Mackinac in 1796, laments as follows: "You talk of your 
place being duller than ever, &c, believe me it cannot be put 
in competition with ours for dullness, jealousy, and envy, 
with all the etceteras mentioned in yours." 375 And Captain 
Heald, writing from Fort Dearborn in June, 1810, within a 
few days of his taking command there, announces that unless 
he can obtain a leave of absence to go to New England the 
coming autumn he will resign the service, and leave the com- 
mand to another. It is a good place for a man with a family, 
who can be content to "live so remote from the civilized part 
of the world." 

j Smith, The St. Clair Papers, II, 318. 
Wisconsin Historical Collections, VI, 179. 
"s Michigan Pioneer Collections, XII, 211. 



The little establishment at Fort Dearborn constituted a 
miniature world, with interests and ambitions quite detached 
from those of the larger world outside. The principal means of 
contact with the latter was afforded by the traders who passed 
through Chicago, proceeding with their merchandise to the 
Indian country or returning therefrom with the fruits of their 
barter. They brought the news of the outside world to the 
inmates of the garrison and surrounding cabins. Each year a 
vessel from Detroit or Mackinac brought a supply of merchandise 
to the traders at Milwaukee, Chicago, and St. Joseph, and took 
back the stock of furs accumulated by them. 376 Aside from these 
visits there were official communications from time to time 
between the commanding officers of the little group of north- 
western posts, to which Fort Dearborn belonged, and advantage 
was taken of the opportunity thus presented to transmit letters 
and items of private import. Occasionally, too, the brig, 
"Adams," constituting the chief part of Commodore Brevoort's 
"navy of the lakes," would pay a visit to Chicago. It must 
have been an occasion of rare excitement in the lives of the 
inmates of Fort Dearborn when Kingsbury passed through 
Chicago with a company of troops in the spring of 1805, on his 
way to superintend the establishment of Fort Belle Fontaine 
near the mouth of the Missouri River. 377 

Only belated rumors of the events of the outside world 
ordinarily penetrated the seclusion of Fort Dearborn. From 
November until May it was as isolated as though on another 
planet. We have in epitome the story of the failure of one 
attempt, made by Captain Whistler in December, 1809, to 
break this isolation. He obtained a month's leave of absence 
to journey to Cincinnati. 378 Today the round trip may be made 
and a fair day's business transacted in twenty-four hours. 
Whistler left Chicago the last of November and reached Fort 
Wayne December 10, "much fatigued after n days wairy travel- 

"* Antoine le Claire's statement in Wisconsin Historical Collections, XI, 239-40. 
"i For the facts concerning this expedition see the Kingsbury Papers, letter book, 

"'Ibid., Whistler to Kingsbury, December 12, 1809. 


ing through rain and snow." The water was so high that his 
further progress was prevented. Finding it impossible, should 
he proceed, to be back at his post by the end of the month, he 
prepared to return to Fort Dearborn, grateful to his superior 
for the opportunity accorded him as though he had succeeded 
in making the journey. 

Kingsbury's letter books, whose contents relate to the several 
northwestern posts in general, are the best source of information 
upon the conditions that prevailed at Fort Dearborn in this 
period. In October, 1804, Kingsbury writes from Mackinac 
to an eastern correspondent urging him to reply immediately, 
in which case the answer will reach Mackinac by the first vessel 
in the spring, which will probably arrive in May or June. 379 
The answer is to be directed to Detroit, the postmaster there 
having agreed to forward his mail to him at Mackinac. A year 
later, when Kingsbury is at Fort Belle Fontaine, a St. Louis 
friend sends him a bundle of newspapers, but requests him to 
preserve them in order that the writer may have a file of " Steady 
Habits" to peruse in a " Hypochrondichal hour." 380 How the 
inmates of Fort Dearborn sometimes received their mail is shown 
by a letter of William Burnett, the St. Joseph trader, to his 
Detroit correspondent in January, 1804, in which, among other 
things, he mentions the receipt of the letters and newspapers 
for "the doctor at Chicagou" and promises to forward them at 
the first opportunity. 381 

The observations of the frontier officers upon the public 
news of the outside world constitute an interesting part of their 
correspondence. In August, 1805, Kingsbury is informed by a 
Mackinac correspondent that the French and English fleets have 
not met, "which we consider an Unfortunate Circumstance," 
as no doubt is felt of the triumph of the British in the event of a 
combat. 382 The French have captured a rich American ship 
near Charleston, and the public prints are full of complaints 

" Ibid., Kingsbury to Benjamin Ellis, October 16, 1804. 

si'Ibid., E. Hempstead to Kingsbury, October 17, 1805. 

3" Michigan Pioneer Collections, VIII, 547- 

3" Kingsbury Papers, David Mitchell to Kingsbury, August 24, 1805. 


against the President for suffering such depredations upon 
American commerce. Bonaparte has gone to Italy "to extort 
much money from the Italians." Another correspondent of 
Kingsbury sends news late in February, 1805, of the election 
of Jefferson to the presidency. 383 An item which has a familiar 
ring relates that "Congress have done nothing since in Session 
worth mentioning that have come to our knowledge." 384 

Thus the public news items run. Bonaparte has been pro- 
claimed "Emperor of the Gauls"; 385 the death of Hamilton is 
announced, with regret. Burr has fled from New York, fearing 
assassination. The probabilities of a war with Spain and of a 
revolt in Louisiana are gravely discussed. The traders, too, 
had their disputes. Shortly before Kinzie removed to Chicago, 
he became involved in a business dispute with an associate 
named Pattinson. The latter addressed an acrid letter to him 
"dictated in such terms of impertinency that he pointly brings 
in question Kenzie's character, relative to their concerns. In a 
word he calls him everything but a gentleman." 386 Burnett of 
St. Joseph who, though not directly implicated in the Pattinson- 
Kinzie quarrel, seems to have sympathized with the latter, also 
became involved in the dispute. Pattinson claimed that Burnett 
had insulted him by speaking disrespectfully to his brother of 
his government, and by calling his house a "hog-sty." Burnett 
replied that it was not his intention to have "hurted their tender 
feelings," but that in the course of an argument over the relative 
greatness of Great Britain and America, in which Pattinson had 
made extravagant claims for the former, he took it upon himself 
to contradict "this high flier." It is refreshing to discover that 
at a time when our government was humiliating itself before 
those of Great Britain and France, the honor of America was 
thus valiantly upheld in an obscure corner of the northwestern 

>*> Kingsbury Papers, Clemson to Kingsbury, February 24, 1805. 

3< Ibid. 

>** Ibid., Kingsbury to Whistler, September 10, 1804. 

j 6 Michigan Pioneer Collections, VIII, 546-47. 


The garrison at Chicago made what progress it might to 
complete the fort and prepare for the coming winter. The work 
of construction was seriously impeded, however, by the lack of 
necessary tools, and even the supplies of provisions and clothing 
for the men were inadequate. In July, 1804, a year after the 
arrival of the troops, Kingsbury learned from Major Pike and 
Doctor Smith that Whistler's men were almost destitute of 
clothing. 387 That the destitution extended to other things as 
well is shown by his letter to Whistler informing the latter that 
he has ordered a supply of clothing, kettles, stationery, hospital 
stores, a whip-saw, and other things to be sent to Chicago by 
the brig, "Adams." At the same time Kingsbury congratulates 
Whistler upon having accomplished so much with his meager 
resources, with "no clothing for the men," and without the 
necessary tools with which to work. 

That the construction of the fort was not yet completed 
would seem to be indicated by numerous entries in Kinzie's 
account book during the summer of 1804 of the names of men who 
are designated as sawyers. 388 Two weeks after Kingsbury's 
letter informing Whistler of the shipment of supplies, the latter 
writes that they have been received. 389 But the whip-saw can 
be of little use without files, for oak is the only saw timber avail- 
able at Chicago. There is clothing for the sergeants, but no 
invoice of it has been sent, and until this arrives the clothing 
cannot be used. Fifty-six suits of clothing have been received, 
but he has sixty-six men to supply. He has two fifers but t je 
only fife has been lost. Watch coats are needed very badly. 
There has been no corn for the public oxen all summer and none 
can be procured here. All of these things may be sent by Kinzie, 
who is coming from Detroit in about a month. 

Along with these homely details of toil and privation are 
others of more private interest, ranging in character from grave 
to gay. On the first of November, 1804, occurred the first 

Kingsbury Papers, Kingsbury to Whistler, July 12, 1804. 

i" Barry Transcript. 

3 Kingsbury Papers, Whistler to Kingsbury, July 26 and 27, 1804. 


recorded wedding of white people at Chicago. It was, too, a 
society affair, for the contracting parties were Sarah, the eldest 
daughter of Captain Whistler, and James Abbott, the Detroit 
merchant. The proud father-in-law in announcing the event, 
states that he has long known and "had a great opinion of" the 
bridegroom. 390 The family genealogist records that the marriage 
ceremony was performed by John Kinzie, and that the bridal 
couple indulged in an overland wedding journey to Detroit, 
traveling on horseback and tenting at night. 391 

The next day after Chicago's first wedding the family of 
Kingsbury at Mackinac was gladdened by the appearance of a 
new daughter. 392 In announcing the event to Colonel Hunt at 
Detroit, the happy father hopes to hear of the latter being in a 
similar situation, unless he happens to prefer that Mrs. Hunt 
should present him with a son. Shortly afterward Kingsbury 
ordered from Detroit, by the first vessel in the spring, some wal- 
nut and cherry boards and a cow and calf. 393 He had already 
requested Whistler to send him some walnut planks from 
Chicago. 394 Whistler responded by sending him two, but 
explained that these were all he could procure and that he had 
not yet made a single table for himself. 395 

Less pleasing than the marriages and births are the reports 
of fever and other ills which beset the occupants of the garrisons 
in the new country. Fort Dearborn was only a year old when 
Whistler reported that more than half of his men had been ill. 
Whipple at Fort Wayne, writing in September, 1804. praises his 
new surgeon; since his arrival the sick list which had numbered 
twenty-five has been materially reduced. 396 "We have all been 
sick since you left this," wrote Clemson from Detroit in October 
of the same year. 397 The writer had not yet recovered from the 

Kingsbury Papers, Whistler to Kingsbury, November 3, 1804. 

1 Whistler family genealogy, MS in the Chicago Historical Society library. 
1 Kingsbury Papers, Kingsbury to Hunt, November n, 1804. 

i Ibid., Kingsbury to Clemson, November 21, 1804. 
Ibid., Kingsbury to Whistler, October 16, 1804. 
'Ibid., Whistler to Kingsbury, November 3, 1804. 
' Ibid., Whipple to Kingsbury, September i, 1804. 
' Ibid., Clemson to Kingsbury, October 27, 1804. 


severe attack of the fever, but expected with the assistance of 
the frosty nights to regain his strength. At the same time Lieu- 
tenant Rhea's little garrison on the Maumee was in a desperate 
condition. On July 31 he reported that in addition to himself 
ten men out of his force of twenty-one were ill. 398 A month 
later the number of sick men remained about the same; the wife 
of a corporal was at the point of death, and Rhea had sent to 
the River Raisin for a physician, expecting to pay the expense 
himself. 399 He appeals urgently for help and for removal. The 
"musketoes" are so thick that a well person cannot sleep at 
night; the place was never intended "for any Christian to be 
posted at." 

A year later, in July, 1805, a pathetic letter from Whistler 
at Fort Dearborn announces that Mrs. Whistler is at the point 
of death. 400 She is in constant pain, and frequent bleeding is the 
only thing that affords her any relief. The anxious husband 
bravely reflects that while there is life there is hope, but laments 
his unhappy state, with so large a family of children, should he 
lose "so good a companion." 

In Captain Heald's journal 401 occurs the entry, "On the 4th 
of May, 1812, we had a son born dead for the want of a skilful 
Midwife." The picture of the sorrow and tragedy concealed 
behind these few words may appropriately be left, as it has been 
by the parent, to the imagination. Three months later the young 
Kentucky bride, still grieving we may well believe over the loss 
of her first-born, conducted herself with such spirit during the 
terrible scenes of the massacre as to arouse the admiration of 
even the savage foe. 

The diversions of the garrison were, naturally, but few. 
Fishing and hunting, and an occasional athletic contest with the 
Indians who visited the fort were the chief outdoor amusements. 
From its first discovery by the French until well into the nine- 
teenth century the region around Chicago was a perfect hunter's 

*Ibid., Rhea to Kingsbury, July 31, 1804. 

"Ibid., Rhea to Kingsbury, August 31 and September 8, 1804. 

4o Ibid., Whistler to Kingsbury, Julv 12. 1805. 

For it see Appendix III. 


paradise. When Cooper came to Fort Dearborn in 1808 the 
officers and most of the civilians possessed horses, cows, and 
dogs. 402 Cooper himself had two good saddle horses, two cows, 
and a hunting dog. There was an abundance of game in the 
immediate vicinity. Within a week of Cooper's arrival, his 
dog and several others chased three deer past the post into the 
river. A young soldier who was in a canoe without any weapon 
sprang into the water as the deer were swimming past, caught 
one by the neck, and held its head under water until it was 
drowned. Cooper's dog seized the second, but the third, a large 
stag, gained the north bank and escaped. 

Not long after this Cooper and Captain Whistler, while 
riding out together, came upon a large wolf within half a mile 
of the fort. Their dogs took up the chase and soon brought 
him to bay. The officers had no pistols, and the dogs mani- 
fested a wholesome respect for the formidable looking teeth of 
the wolf, and so they were called off and the animal allowed to 
go his way without further molestation. The howling of wolves 
at night was a common occurrence during these years. Grouse 
and other game birds were abundant, as were fish in the river 
and lake, so that in the hunting season the officers spent much 
of their leisure time with gun and rod. 

We are indebted to Surgeon Cooper for the story of a notable 
athletic contest at Chicago, the description of which stirs the 
blood, even after the lapse of a hundred years. 403 Lieutenant 
William Whistler was a splendid specimen of physical manhood, 
over six feet in height and famous for his strength and powers 
of endurance. Among the visitors at Fort Dearborn was a 
Pottawatomie chief of similar physique and about the same age 
as Whistler. He was a great runner and enjoyed the reputation 
of never having been defeated in a race. A five-mile foot race 
between the two men was arranged, Whistler wagering his 
horse and accouterments against the horse and trappings of the 
chief. Both the red men and the soldiers of the garrison were 

Wilson, Chicago from 1803 to 1812. Ibid. 


confident of the prowess of their respective champions. The 
Indians staked their ponies and other available property on the 
chief and the soldiers accepted the wagers as fast as offered. 
The contest, which was witnessed by several hundred Indians 
and the entire garrison, was won by Whistler, after a superb 
struggle, by a margin of a few yards. 

The final sequel of the race, according to the same authority, 
came some years later and was even more thrilling. During the 
War of 1812 the same chief, now serving with the British, sent a 
challenge to individual combat to Lieutenant Whistler or any 
officer or soldier in his command. It was promptly accepted 
by Whistler himself, and as the result of the ensuing hand-to- 
hand combat with knife, sword, and tomahawk, firearms 
not being allowed, the red man departed for the happy hunting 

An account of the garrison life at Fort Dearborn in this 
period would be incomplete without some reference to a drearier 
subject than any yet mentioned. The personnel of the army 
at this time was far from high. A considerable proportion of 
the men were foreigners, 404 and a far larger number were 
illiterate. 405 The life at the frontier posts was monotonous, 
drinking and desertions were common, and the punishment 
for infractions of discipline was atrocious. We have no record 
of the court martial proceedings at Fort Dearborn, but the 
records for some of the other northwestern posts are painfully 
abundant, and a sketch of their contents will answer as well 
for Fort Dearborn. The orderly book of Anthony Wayne, 
who has been well described as a "furious disciplinarian," 406 

< Of the fifty-nine men in Captain Whistler's company at Fort Detroit in 1812 eight- 
een were foreigners. Of the fifty men in Captain Rhea's company at Fort Wayne in 1810 
fourteen were foreigners (Kingsbury Papers, quarterly returns of the companies in question). 

4s Approximately 60 per cent of the members of Captain Heald's company at Fort 
Dearborn at the close of the year 1811 were unable to sign their names to the payroll 
receipts (payroll receipt of Fort Dearborn garrison for last quarter of the year 1811, in 
Heald Papers, Draper Collection, U, VIII, 92). 

Detroit Tribune, April 5, 1896. 


presents a picture of corporal punishments meted out to the 
soldiers at Detroit in 1797, worthy of the palmiest days of 
the army of Frederick the Great. 407 

The commonest offense charged was drunkenness, the usual 
penalty for which was the public infliction of from twenty-five 
to one hundred lashes, and in the case of petty officers reduction 
to the ranks. Occasionally resort was had to other methods to 
punish and humiliate the guilty one. One culprit, a corporal, 
charged with desertion, was sentenced to walk the gauntlet 
six times between double ranks of soldiery, both ranks striking 
at the same time. 408 Two camp followers, a man and a woman, 
charged with selling liquor to a soldier were sentenced to be 
drummed out of camp to the tune of the Rogues' March, with a 
bottle suspended around the neck of each and the man's left 
hand tied to the woman's right. In this plight they were to be 
paraded past the citadel and through the barracks of the soldiery 
and the principal streets of the town. 409 The man's sentence 
was remitted, but that against the woman was carried into 
execution the same afternoon. Still another culprit, guilty of 
enticing a soldier to desert, was ordered to be given fifty lashes 
with "wired Catts," to have the left side of his head and his 
right eyebrow close shaved, and to be drummed with a rope 
around his neck through the citadel and fort and the principal 
streets of the town. 410 

It may be supposed that the punishments inflicted under 
Wayne's command were severer than those meted out at Fort 
Dearborn a few years later. Yet they show what might be done 
by an army officer at that time in the maintenance of discipline. 
The records of courts martial at Fort Detroit under Kingsbury's 
regime, after Whistler's removal thither from Fort Dearborn 

'The orderly book is printed in Michigan Pioneer Collections, XXXIV, 341-734. 
It covers the five-year period from 1792 to 1797. The cases which I have chosen for 
illustration all occurred at Detroit in the last-mentioned year. 

Ibid., 704. 

Ibid., 701-9. 

"Ibid., 715. 


in 1810, probably reflect fairly the state of affairs at Fort Dear- 
born. 4 " In general the punishments are milder than those 
formerly meted out under Wayne. The common crimes were 
still drunkenness and desertion. For the former sentences of 
from twenty-five to fifty lashes on the "bear back" were com- 
monly decreed. It should be noted that Whistler and Helm, 
both of whom served at Fort Dearborn, were often members of 
the court by which these sentences were imposed. 

Two specific instances will be cited, in both of which Captain 
Whistler acted as president of the court martial. On May 23, 
1811, Peter Sendale, a private soldier, was tried for drunkenness. 
The accused pleaded guilty, but advanced the ingenuous excuse 
by way of extenuation that he had worked hard all day in the 
Colonel's garden, that he had the latter's permission to go and 
get a drink, and that he "took a little too much." Notwith- 
standing this plea he was sentenced to receive twenty-five lashes 
on the "bear back." In the other case two men were charged 
with desertion. They admitted the offense, but pleaded in 
mitigation of it that they had repented of the act and were 
returning to their post of duty when arrested. The testimony 
given satisfied the court of the truth of this, yet the prisoners 
were sentenced to pay the cost of their apprehension and to be 
confined at hard labor with ball and chain for a period not to 
exceed one year. The court took occasion to observe that the 
punishment was not proportioned to the heinousness of the 
offense, and that its mildness was due solely to the testimony 
concerning the prisoners' belated repentance. 

We may now direct our attention to Fort Dearborn itself 
and to those persons who composed its official family from 
1803 to 1812. There exist two contemporary pictures of the 
fort and its surroundings in the year 1808, one the verbal account 
of Surgeon Cooper as recorded by James Grant Wilson, 412 the 
other a diagram carefully drawn to scale by Captain Whistler, 

" Kingsbury Papers, records of court martial proceedings, passim. 
" Wilson, Chicago from 1803 to 1812. 

1 64 


and accompanied by a summary verbal description. 413 The 
river at that time made a sharp turn about an eighth of a mile 
from the lake, and after running in a general southerly direction 
lost itself in the lake a mile south of its present mouth. The 
fort was built on a slight elevation close to the bend of the river, 
which enveloped it on its northern and eastern, and to some 
extent on its western, sides. The barracks and other structures 
for the accommodation of the garrison were built around the 
four sides of a quadrangle, facing inward toward the center. 
Two blockhouses, one containing two small cannon, the other 
containing one, stood at the northwestern and southeastern 
corners of the quadrangle, and the whole was inclosed within a 

" The original is in the files of the War Department at Washington. Because of its 
historical value the verbal description which accompanies the drawing is reproduced here: 



Block Houses 

2 Port Holes for Cannon 

3 Loop Holes for small arms 

4 Magazine 

5 Inward Row of pickets 

6 Outward Row of pickets 

7 Main Gate 

8 Wicket Gate 

9 Guard House 

10 Comm'g Officers Barracks 

11 Officers Barracks 
1 2 Soldiers Barracks 

13 Contractors Store 

14 Hospital Store 

15 Asst. Military Agt. Store 

it) Small Houses in the garrison 


17 Agents House 

18 Factors House 

19 Interpreters House 
ao Armerers Shop 

21 Merchants Shop 

12 Bake House 

23 House in Factors Dept. 

24 Stables 

25 River Cheykago 

26 Banks of said River 

27 Wharf of said River 

28 Low ground between said bank & River. 

29 Beach between Sd. River and Lake. 

30 John Kinzie Esq. House on the opisite side 


31 Gather Dwelling Houses on opisite side River 

32 Old Grist Mill Worked by Horses 

NOTE, the Barracks are two storeys high with shingled Roofs and Galliaries fronting the 
parade. The measurement of the Garrison including the Block Houses And Barrick are laid down at 
twenty feet to the Inch the Cupolas are not yet built on the Block Houses as laid down. The Dwell- 
ing houses mentioned in the Indian Department are laid down at forty feet to the Inch, the oather 
houses without any Regular rule. The River is not regularly surveyed but still gives a strong Idea 
of Its Courses it is about six miles in length, except in high water, at which time there is no portage 
to the Illinois River. 

The distances from the denrant places to the Garrison as mentioned with Red Ink on & 
red lines, are accurately measured, but not laid down by a scale. The woodland on the reserve Lyes 
on the north, & west, sides of the Garrison except a small strip of woods about one mile in length 
and two hundred yards in breadth, Lying on the bank of the river south west of the Garrison. Along 
the Margin of Said Woods, is good medow and supplyes the Garrison with hay. On the North and 
west sides of the Garrison there has been a quantity of underwood and shruby Bushes such as prickly 
Ash &c. they are now cut down and cleared off, all within one Fourth of a Mile of the Garrison. 

On the south and southwest sides of the Garrison is a large parraria on which stands The afore- 
said strip of woods as laid down in the Draught, and the distance from the Garrison three fourths of a 
Mile. On the East side is the Lake. There has been A picket fence on the Opisite side of the river, 
northwest of the Garrison as laid Down, this fence might serve as a Barrier against the Garrison as 
the pickets were five feet in length, sufficient in thickness to prevent a Musket Ball from doing execu- 
tion to an Enemy lying behind them. I thought it proper for the safety of the Garrison to have them 
taken up and replaced with a common rail fence. At this time the Garrison (except the Houses on the 
Opisite side of the river being somewhat in the way) is perfectly secure from any ambuscade or Barrier. 

The Branch that emptys into the Cheykag is considerably the longest, and has the greatest 
current. The parraria on the south and southwest as already mentioned is of great extent. 

Fort Dearborn Feb.y 1808. J. Whistler Capt. 


From the original draft by Captain Whistler in the archives of the War 

Department at Washington 


double row of palisades, so arranged that the blockhouses 
commanded not only the space without the four walls, but also 
that inclosed between the two rows of palisades. Thus if an 
enemy should scale the first row he would only find himself within 
a narrow inclosure between that and the second which was swept 
at every point by the fire from the blockhouses. From the 
northwest corner of the stockade to the river was a distance of 
eighty feet, and from a point midway of the eastern side it was 
sixty yards. 

Within the stockaded inclosure were the barracks for the 
officers and men. They were two stories in height, with shingled 
roofs and covered galleries, and occupied the middle of each side 
of the inclosure facing toward the parade ground, in the center 
of which stood a lofty flagstaff. The commanding officer's 
quarters stood on the east side, and directly opposite were those 
for the subordinate officers. The main gateway of the stockade 
was at the middle of the south side and was flanked on either 
side by the main barracks for the common soldiers. The building 
opposite was in part devoted to barracks for the soldiers and in 
part to housing the contractor's store of supplies. Between this 
building and the northwestern blockhouse stood the magazine, 
a small structure made of brick. This alone defied the fire 
which destroyed the fort at the time of the massacre. Two 
small houses, one near the northeast corner of the inclosure and 
the other in the corner diagonally opposite, completed the list 
of structures within the stockade. The parade ground was 
surrounded by gutters for carrying off the water. A small wicket 
gate in the stockade gave ingress and egress near the north- 
western blockhouse. From the northeast corner of the stockade 
a covered way led to the river, securing thus to the garrison access 
in safety to the water in time of attack. 

To the south of the fort were the commanding officer's 
gardens in which, in Cooper's time, melons and other small 
fruit and vegetables were raised. Somewhat to the east, between 
the fort and the mouth of the river, was a smaller garden and 
an Indian graveyard. A short distance to the southwest were 


two log houses, one occupied by Matthew Irwin, the United 
States factor, and the other by Charles Jouett, the Indian 
agent. On the north side of the river, almost directly opposite 
the fort, was the house of John Kinzie, with outbuildings and a 
"Kitchen" garden. Whistler's diagram represents three houses 
to the westward of Kinzie's establishment, but omits the names 
of their owners. The omission is supplied by Cooper, however, 
who says that in his time there were four houses on the north 
side, occupied by Kinzie, Ouilmette, La Lime, and Le Mai. 
La Lime and Ouilmette were Frenchmen; Le Mai was a half- 
breed, married to a Pottawatomie squaw. 

In addition to these houses Whistler's drawing represents a 
considerable number of houses and outbuildings ranged around 
the fort devoted to various purposes. Among these are houses 
for the interpreter and for the factor's department, an armorer's 
shop, a merchant's shop, and a bake shop, besides several stables 
on the south side; and on the north side, near Kinzie's place, a 
"Grist Mill Worked by Horses." 

In the rear of the group of houses on the north side, the 
space between the lake and the north branch of the river was 
covered with timber. Along the east side of the South Branch, 
stretching southward from the forks of the river, was another 
strip of timber, two hundred yards in width and a mile long. 
Except for this strip of woodland, the area to the south and south- 
west of the fort constituted what Whistler quaintly designates 
as "a large Parraria." Along the inner margin of this woodland 
lay a good meadow which supplied the garrison with hay. Close 
to the forks on the south side of the main river a small field of 
eight or nine acres had been reduced to cultivation and made to 
serve as the company gardens and public cornfield. 

It is evident from Whistler's description that he took careful 
measures to prepare the fort against the possibility of a hostile 
attack. The ground to the north and west was clear as far as 
the woodland mentioned, which lay at a distance of three-fourths 
of a mile from the fort. The east side was protected, of course, 
by the river and the lake. To the west and the north the ground 


had originally been covered with an undergrowth of prickly 
ash and other scrubby bushes, but this had been cleared away 
to a distance of a quarter of a mile from the stockade. On the 
north side there had been erected a heavy picket fence, four feet 
in height and sufficiently strong to afford an enemy protection 
against musketry fire from the fort. This Whistler caused to be 
removed and replaced by a common rail fence. At the time of 
making this diagram, in the winter of 1808, Whistler announced 
with satisfaction that the garrison was now perfectly secure 
from an ambuscade or barrier, except for the houses on the 
north side, which were somewhat in the way. 

It is evident that the number of civilians clustered around 
the fort in the years prior to the massacre was considerably 
greater than has ordinarily been supposed. Cooper says there 
was a house a mile to the southeast of the fort, owned by a 
farmer who supplied the garrison with butter and eggs, and one 
near the forks of the river occupied by a man named Clark who 
was a cattle dealer. Whistler's drawing represents two houses 
at the forks, one occupied by a discharged soldier, and a house 
and inclosed field north of the river, belonging to Mr. "Coursoll." 
There were two Courselles, one of them a well-known trader, but 
the only other record of either of them being at Chicago is the 
recurrence of their names in Kinzie's account books. The 
farmer mentioned by Cooper was probably Lee, at whose farm 
on the South Branch the preliminary massacre of April, 1812, 
occurred. But Cooper does not mention the Burns family, which 
Mrs. Kinzie describes as living on the North Side at the time of 
the massacre. In addition to these were the houses which 
Whistler shows belonging to the Indian agent's and the factor's 
departments. The conclusion drawn from these various bits of 
evidence concerning the number of dwellers around Fort Dear- 
born is confirmed by the fact that after the murders at the Lee 
farm. Captain Heald enrolled fifteen militiamen from the civilian 
population outside the fort. It should be noted, too, that three 
of the long-time residents of Chicago, La Lime, Ouilmette, and 
Kinzie, were not included in this number. 


Of the officers stationed at Fort Dearborn before the massacre, 
the regime of Captain John Whistler was the longest and in 
many respects the most important. Whistler was descended 
from an old English family, but he himself was born in Ireland, 
whither his immediate ancestors removed, in I758. 414 In a 
youthful freak he ran away from home and joined the army, 
coming to America during the Revolution with the troops under 
Burgoyne. He was thus one of the members of that general's 
ill-fated army captured by the Americans at Saratoga. On his 
return to England Whistler received his discharge from the army, 
and soon after, forming an attachment for the daughter of one 
of his father's friends, eloped with her, coming a second time to 
America and settling at Hagerstown, Maryland. He entered 
the American army in 1791 and served continuously on the 
northwestern frontier under St. Clair, Wayne, and others, from 
that time until the breaking out of the War of 1812. He was 
commander at Fort Dearborn from 1803 to 1810, when he was 
transferred to Fort Detroit, under circumstances which will 
shortly demand our attention. He served under Hull in 1812 
and, if family tradition is to be credited, was so enraged over the 
capitulation that he broke his sword rather than surrender it to 
the enemy. 

The founder of Fort Dearborn thus enjoyed the unique 
experience of having been captured, along with the British army 
in which he served, by the Americans, and thirty-five years later, 
as a member of Hull's army, of being taken by the British. His 
connection with Chicago history is not limited to building and 
commanding Fort Dearborn. His eldest son served under him 
here as lieutenant for several years; his eldest daughter, as we 
have seen, became Chicago's first bride; and another daughter 
married Lieutenant Joseph Hamilton, who also served under 
Whistler at Fort Dearborn. 

William Whistler came with his father to Fort Dearborn as 
second lieutenant in 1803, accompanied by his bride of a year. 
She was even now but sixteen years of age, and was destined to 

<< Whistler family genealogy, MS in Chicago Historical Society library. 


be the last surviving witness of the building of the first Fort 
Dearborn. After several years of service here, Lieutenant 
Whistler was transferred to Fort Wayne. His term of service 
in the army lasted sixty years, during which time he had, accord- 
ing to Mrs. Whistler, but six short furloughs. 415 Like his father 
he was captured along with Hull's army at Detroit. In 1845 
he became colonel of the Fourth Infantry, the regiment to which 
General Grant belonged during the Mexican War; and in after 
life the famous general told many anecdotes concerning his 
former commander. 416 

Two other descendants of Captain John Whistler demand at- 
tention at this point. George Washington Whistler was a toddling 
child three years of age when the commander brought his family 
to the new home in the summer of 1803. Here, on the banks 
of the Chicago River, during the next few years the child devel- 
oped into sturdy boyhood. At the age of nineteen he graduated 
from West Point and was assigned to the artillery branch of the 
service. Until 1833, when he resigned his commission, he was 
engaged largely in engineering and topographical enterprises. 
After his resignation from the army he rose to eminence as an 
engineer, and during the remainder of his life was engaged in 
many important enterprises. In 1842 he went to Russia to enter 
the service of the Czar in the construction of the railroad from 
St. Petersburg to Moscow. In recognition of his services in 
this and other engineering enterprises in Russia Emperor 
Nicholas in 1847 conferred upon him the decoration of the 
Order of St. Anne. 417 

A son of the famous engineer, James Abbott McNeil Whist- 
ler, achieved in the realm of art an even greater reputation than 
had his father in that of engineering. Whistler's artistic achieve- 
ments are so well known that there is no need to discuss them 
here. His connection with Fort Dearborn is not so commonly 

Hurlbut, Chicago Antiquities, 27. 

Heitman, Dictionary of the United States Army, I, 470, 1026; Wilson, Chicago from 
1803 to 1812. 

"i On George Washington Whistler see Vose, Sketch of the Life and Works of George W. 
Whistler, Civil Engineer. 


understood, although the very names he bore served constantly 
to advertise it. James Abbott was Chicago's first bridegroom, 
who, as we have seen, married Sarah Whistler here in the fall of 
1804. The artist himself never saw Chicago, but with the excep- 
tion of West Point there was no other place in the United States 
in which he was so much interested. 418 He regarded his grand- 
father as the founder of Chicago, and more than once lamented 
his failure to visit the place. 

The connection of James Strode Swearingen, the youthful 
second lieutenant who conducted the troops from Detroit to 
Chicago in the summer of 1803, with Fort Dearborn was but 
brief. Because of the physical infirmity of Captain Whistler, 
Swearingen offered to lead the troops from Detroit to Chicago 
for him, and this made it possible for Whistler to proceed around 
the lakes on the sailboat, "Tracy." 419 With the arrival of the 
troops at Chicago Swearingen's duty was discharged. He 
accordingly returned to Detroit on the "Tracy" and there 
rejoined his company. He retired from the army in 1815, 
owing to the importunity of his wife, and settled at Chillicothe, 
Ohio, where he lived in affluence until his death in I864. 420 

Doctor William C. Smith, the first surgeon at Fort Dearborn, 
was succeeded in 1808 by John Cooper, who was sent here 
immediately after he entered the service. Cooper's grandfather 
fought under Wolfe at Quebec, and was near his leader when he 
fell. 421 The grandson was born at Fishkill, New York, in 1786. 
He came to Fort Dearborn by way of Albany and Buffalo, where 
he boarded the brig, "Adams," commanded by Commodore 
Brevoort. The voyage across Lake Erie consumed a week, 
and another week, including stops, was spent in passing through 
the River and Lake St. Clair and on to Mackinac. After several 

' Statements of General James Grant Wilson, January 7, 1908, in letter to Chicago 
Historical Society library. Wilson was a personal acquaintance of Whistler. 

Swearingen's account of the expedition from Detroit to Chicago in 1803, MS in 
Chicago Historical Society library, Proceedings, 1856-64, 348. 

" Heitman, Dictionary of the United Stales Army, I, 939; Wilson, Chicago from 1803 
to 1812. 

" Wilson, op. cit. 


days' delay at the latter place the brig proceeded by way of 
Green Bay to Chicago, which was reached in three days. After 
three years' service at Fort Dearborn, Cooper resigned from the 
army and returned to the East by way of the overland route to 
Detroit, which had been followed by the troops under Swearingen 
eight years before. The journey to Detroit required fourteen 
days. From Detroit he went by way of Fort Wayne and 
Pittsburgh to Poughkeepsie, New York, where he made his 
home and practiced his profession for over half a century, 
dying in iSd^. 423 

The year 1810 saw the culmination at Fort Dearborn of a 
garrison quarrel which resulted in the dispersion of the official 
family far and wide and the appearance of a new set of officials 
at the post. It might be supposed that the sense of isolation and 
the need of mutual assistance would bind together the little 
group of inmates of a frontier post, such as Fort Dearborn, as 
with bands of steel. But, alas for erring human nature, all too 
often conditions quite the contrary prevailed. "When society 
is thin," wrote the same British officer from Mackinac whose 
complaint in 1796 of the dulness, envy, and jealousy in existence 
there has already been noted, "I agree with you. They should 
make the most of it, but I don't know how it is. I have always 

found it the reverse "^ "The Amusements have not 

been general this Winter in Detroit. Indeed there has been 
none worth mentioning, Society a good deal divided," runs a 
letter to Kingsbury in the winter of i8o5- 424 

As early as the autumn of 1804 a quarrel developed among 
the garrison officers of Fort Dearborn. The details left us are 
meager, but we know that Lieutenant Campbell raised charges 
against Doctor Smith, 425 who in turn preferred charges against 
Lieutenant Whistler, 426 and that Captain Whistler placed Smith 

<" Ibid. Michigan Pioneer Collections, XII, an. 

< Kingsbury Papers, Clemson to Kingsbury, February 24, 1805. 

< Ibid., Smith to Kingsbury, November 3, 1804; Clemson to Kingsbury, October 27, 

** Ibid., Clemson to Kingsbury, October 27, 1804. 


under arrest. 427 Thus, to quote from a contemporary letter, 
"a flame" was "kindled at Chicago." 428 Unfortunately for the 
historian, Captain Whistler found the affair "to disagreeable" 
for him to report, further than the bare announcement of the 
surgeon's arrest. 429 Possibly the difficulty was settled by the 
elimination of Lieutenant Campbell, for he resigned from the 
army a few months later, 430 while both Smith and the Whistlers 
continued to serve at Fort Dearborn for several years. 

The feud which culminated in 1810 was far more serious. 
Our sources of information are scanty as to the origin of the 
quarrel, but fuller and more satisfactory for its course and con- 
clusion. That there existed a rivalry at Fort Dearborn over the 
garrison trade, and that this rivalry was the cause of the feud, 
is clear. As early as the summer of 1807 Kinzie and John 
Whistler, Jr., a younger son of the commander, entered into a 
partnership for the purpose of supplying this trade. 431 The 
connection lasted until August 21, 1809, when for some reason 
not now known it was dissolved. 432 That some discord had 
developed is, however, reasonably apparent from what fol- 
lowed. Six weeks after the dissolution, Doctor Cooper, who 
had become the firm friend of Captain Whistler, 433 sought and 
obtained permission from the Secretary of War to suttle for 
the garrison. 434 

" Kingsbury Papers, Whistler to Kingsbury, November 3, 1804. 

Ibid., Clemson to Kingsbury, October 27, 1804. 

" Ibid., Whistler to Kingsbury, November 3, 1804. 

Heitman, Dictionary of the United States Army, I, 276. 

' Barry Transcript, entry for July 26, 1807; Kingsbury Papers, Matthew Irwin to 
Kingsbury, April 29, 1810. That it was John Whistler, Jr., who was Kinzie's partner is 
apparent from the county records at Detroit cited by Hurlbut, Chicago Antiquities, 469. 

Barry Transcript, entry for August 21, 1809. 

" Wilson, Chicago from 1803 to 1812. On leaving Fort Dearborn in 1810, Whistler 
presented Cooper a pistol and a copy of Shenstone's poems. The latter was given by 
Cooper to General James Grant Wilson, and he in turn presented it to the Chicago His- 
torical Society. Cooper wrote to Kingsbury at the time of the quarrel that he was willing 
to sell his life to prove Whistler's innocence of the charges against him (Kingsbury Papers). 
The date and salutation of this letter have been cut off, but it was evidently written soon 
after May 26, 1810. 

< Drennan Paper*, Nicoll to Whistler and Cooper, November i, 1809. 


To "suttle" meant to supply the soldiers with articles not 
furnished them by the government. Shortly after Cooper's 
arrival at Fort Dearborn Matthew Irwin had been appointed 
Government factor, to conduct the Indian trading establishment 
at Chicago. 435 He seems also to have held, as did Varnum, the 
former factor, the appointment of Government contractor for 
supplying the garrison with such provisions as were furnished 
the soldiers by the government. 436 The privilege which Cooper 
had obtained of suttling for the garrison interfered not only with 
Irwin's profits but also with those of Kinzie, who, until the 
dissolution of the partnership with the younger Whistler, had 
enjoyed this trade. Irwin and Kinzie soon drew together in 
opposition to Captain Whistler, whom they seem rightly to have 
regarded as the real power behind Cooper. For some reason 
Jouett, the Indian agent, and Lieutenant Thompson joined the 
Irwin-Kinzie coalition; Lieutenant Hamilton, who was Whist- 
ler's son-in-law, of course sided with the latter, and the quarrel 
soon became furious. 

Irwin claimed that Whistler and his adherents combined in a 
policy of persecution calculated to force him to give up his posi- 
tion as contractor in order that Whistler's son might regain it. 437 
Whistler, on the other hand, asserted that the " malignant 
wretches" opposed to him, particularly Jouett, were guilty of 
defrauding the public; as for Lieutenant Thompson, he was a 
mere tool in the hands of his associates, who despised him even 
while they used him. 438 Jouett had told of his running away to 
escape paying his landlord, and Whistler stated he had acknowl- 
edged himself a "Liar" in the presence of all the gentlemen of 
the fort and its vicinity. Cooper bore a challenge to a duel 
from Lieutenant Hamilton to Kinzie, which the latter declined 

*>s Wisconsin Historical Collections, XIX, 326. 

"'That Irwin held this appointment is shown by his letters to Kingsbury; e.g., see 
letter of April 29, 1810, in Kingsbury Papers. My conclusion that Varnum had been con- 
tractor as well as factor is based on certain entries in the Barry Transcript. 

' Kingsbury Papers, Irwin to Kingsbury, April 29, 1810. The obnoxious conduct 
of Whistler, Hamilton, and Cooper is detailed at considerable length in this letter. 

*Ibid., Whistler to Kingsbury, May 27, 1810. 


to accept, contenting himself with roundly cursing both principal 
and second. 439 Half a century later Cooper described the trader 
as a man of ungovernable temper, who frequently engaged in 
bitter quarrels. 

The opposition to Whistler, determined to drive him from 
Chicago if not from the army, preferred charges against him 
to Kingsbury and demanded a court martial. Among other 
things, aside from the claim that he had conspired with Hamilton 
and Cooper to force Irwin to give up his office, it was claimed 
that he had beaten a soldier for not trading with his son, 440 and 
had defrauded the government by raising ten acres of corn, 441 
apparently by the labor of soldiers. On the other hand Cooper 
preferred charges against Thompson which he believed would 
inevitably "brake" him. 442 It is not possible with the informa- 
tion available to decide the question of right between the two 
warring parties, but it is significant that Whistler and later 
Captain Heald, both of whom incurred the enmity of Kinzie, 
repeatedly received testimonials of confidence from their brother 
officers. Captain Heald, who succeeded Whistler at Fort 
Dearborn, reported that he had found everything in good 
condition and believed that Whistler had paid " particular 
Attention to every Part of his duty" during the time he had 
commanded there. 443 He also refuted the charge of Whistler's 
enemies that he had been in the habit of raising large quanti- 
ties of corn. Kingsbury, Whistler's immediate superior, also 
testified to his belief in his integrity, and in the falsity of the 
charges against him, and Varnum, who had been factor at Fort 
Dearborn from 1805 to 1808, expressed approval of Whistler's 
conduct during that time. 444 In harmony with this favorable 

Wilson, Chicago from 1803 to 1812. 

Drennan Papers, Kingsbury to Nicoll, February 15, 1811. 

Kingsbury Papers, Heald to Kingsbury, May 31, 1810; Kingsbury to Heald, 
June ii, 1810. 

Kingsbury Papers, letter of Cooper to Kingsbury cited in note 433. 

Ibid., Heald to Kingsbury, May 31, 1810. 

Drennan Papers, Kingsbury to Nicoll, February 15, 1811. 


testimony are the observations of William Johnston, 445 who 
journeyed from Fort Wayne to Chicago in the spring of 1809. 
He recorded that Fort Dearborn was "the neatest and best 
wooden garrison in the United States," a fact which did "great 
honor to Capt. John Whistler who planned and built it." The 
observant visitor also records that Whistler had under him, at 
the time of his visit, the same men as when he built the fort. 
Although their term of enlistment had expired they had all 
re-enlisted a sure sign that Whistler was a good officer. 

The outcome of the quarrel was, on the whole, a triumph for 
Whistler's enemies. Rather than bring Whistler and Thompson 
to trial on the charges preferred against them, the War Depart- 
ment decided on a general scattering of the officers at Fort 
Dearborn. In April, 1810, Whistler was sent to Detroit, and 
Hamilton to Fort Belle Fontaine. Captain Rhea, whose company 
at Detroit was given to Whistler, was sent to Fort Wayne to 
relieve Captain Nathan Heald, who, in turn, succeeded Whistler 
at Fort Dearborn. 446 Thompson and Cooper remained at Fort 
Dearborn, but the latter's privilege to suttle was withdrawn by 
special order of the Secretary of War. 447 Jouett and Irwin, the 
Indian agent and the factor, remained at Fort Dearborn. The 
atmosphere was now thoroughly uncongenial to Cooper, who 
soon resigned from the army in disgust, being unwilling to remain 
in a service where one could be so easily injured in the opinion 
of the heads of the department. 448 

Thus in gloom and defeat departed the man who, with more 
propriety than any other, may be called the father of Chicago. 
That he felt keenly the blow that had been dealt him is shown 
by his letters to Kingsbury. 449 He was old and infirm, his wife 

s "Notes of a Tour from Fort Wayne to Chicago, 1809," MS in Chicago Historical 
Society library. 

' Kingsbury Papers, Kingsbury to Irwin, June n, 1810; Drennan Papers, Nicoll to 
Heald, April u, 1810; Nicoll to Whistler, April n, 1810; Nicoll to Kingsbury, April n, 
1810; Nicoll to Gansevoort, April 12, 1810. 

* Drennan Papers, Nicoll to Whistler, March 30, 1810. 

"' Kingsbury Papers, letter of Cooper to Kingsbury cited in note 433. * 

' Kingsbury Papers, Whistler to Kingsbury, May 27, 1810; Drennan Papers, Kings- 
bury to Nicoll, February 15, 1811. 


was ill, and he had a large family of young children to support, 
with little property, and burdened with debt. 

Nathan Heald, the new commander at Fort Dearborn, was 
born at Ipswich, New Hampshire, in i775. 4S He entered the 
army as an ensign in 1799, serving continuously at various places 
on the frontier and in the recruiting service until January, 1807, 
when he was promoted to the rank of captain and given command 
at Fort Wayne. That he was chosen to succeed Whistler 
at Fort Dearborn under the circumstances which have been 
described may fairly be regarded as an indication of confidence 
on the part of his superiors in his ability and good judgment. 
Rhea, who succeeded him at Fort Wayne, reported that he 
found everything had been going on "very correct" there, and 
that he intended to "take the Track of Captain Heald" as nearly 
as possible. 451 Rhea was much pleased with his new post and 
expressed the hope he might continue there. Heald, on the 
contrary, was dissatisfied with Fort Dearborn, and at once 
announced his intention of spending the coming winter in 
New England. 452 If the necessary leave of absence were not 
granted him he would resign the service rather than remain at 
Fort Dearborn. 

Unfortunately for Heald the furlough was granted, 453 and 
thus he returned to Chicago to participate in the massacre two 
years later. After spending the winter in Massachusetts, Heald 
returned to the West by way of Pittsburgh and the Ohio River, 
stopping at Louisville to marry Rebekah Wells, the daughter of 
Colonel Samuel Wells and the niece of Captain William Wells, 
with whom Heald had long been associated at Fort Wayne. 454 
The wedding occurred on May 23, 1811, and in June the com- 

Nathan Heald's Journal printed as Appendix III. The original is among the 
Heald papers in the Draper Collection. 

' Kingsbury Papers, Rhea to Kingsbury, May 17, 1810. 

s* Ibid., Heald to Kingsbury, June 8, 1810. 

sj Heald's Journal; Kingsbury Papers, Heald to Kingsbury, December 31, i8io f 
and May i, i3n; Wentworth, Early Chicago, 88. 

'" Heald's Journal; Darius Heald's narrative of the Chicago massacre, in Magazine 
of American History, XXVIII, 114- 


mander reached Chicago with his bride, after an absence of seven 
months. The bridal journey was made from Louisville to 
Chicago on horseback through the wilderness which lay between 
the two places. Mrs. Heald's slave girl, Cicely, accompanied 
them on their journey, and was an inmate of Fort Dearborn 
from this time until the massacre the following year. The 
statement preserved in the Heald family chronicle that the bridal 
party was received by the garrison with all the honors of war 
may well be believed, for the addition of a woman like Mrs. 
Heald to the garrison circle was an event of rare interest in the 
life of the little community. 

In March, 1811, George Ronan, a young cadet direct from 
West Point, was given the rank of ensign and ordered to repair 
at once to Fort Dearborn. 455 On the fourth of the same month 
Lieutenant Thompson died. With him the last military officer 
involved in the quarrel of the preceding year disappeared from 
Fort Dearborn. Three months later his place was filled by the 
transfer of Lieutenant Linai T. Helm from Detroit to Fort 
Dearborn. The transfer was made at Helm's own request, the 
reasons for his desiring it being, apparently, his straitened 
financial circumstances and the cheaper cost of living at Fort 
Dearborn as compared with Detroit. 456 During the summer the 
place made vacant by Doctor Cooper's resignation was filled by 
the appointment of Isaac Van Voorhis, like Cooper a native of 
Fishkill, New York, born a few years after his predecessor, but 
a member of the same class in college. 457 The officers of Fort 
Dearborn were now the same as on the fatal day of evacuation, 
August 15, 1812. 

Drennan Papers, Nicoll to Ronan, March 27, 1811; Nicoll to Heald, March 27, 
1811; Heitman, Dictionary of the United States Army, I, 844. 

Drennan Papers, Kingsbury to Nicoll, April 18, 1811; Nicoll to Kingsbury, May 24, 
1811; Kingsbury Papers, Helm to Kingsbury, March 16, 1811. 

457 Van Voorhis, Notes on the Ancestry of Wm. Roe Van Voorhis, 143. 



Meanwhile time and the fates were weaving a fatal web about 
the almost defenseless frontier. The western Indians, awed into 
submission for a time by the masterful hand of Wayne, were 
again stirred by a great unrest. There were, among others, three 
important causes for this condition : the rapid occupation of their 
hunting-grounds and the deterioration of the natives by contact 
with civilization; the steadily increasing influence of the British, 
to secure advantages in trade or help in case of war; and 
finally, a patriotic movement toward race unity among the 
Indians themselves, which had for its object a revival of the 
older and happier existence of their forefathers. This movement 
was full of danger for the West and of hope for the British. 

In the first place, the red and white races were totally differ- 
ent in physical habits and in processes of thought by which 
perceptions become opinions. The Indian had an incomplete 
and indefinite notion of a treaty when he signed it, and was 
utterly unable to comprehend its final effect; the white man 
exacted to the utmost all possible advantages from these agree- 
ments. The ideas of the two races with respect to the ownership 
and transmission of title to land differed markedly. The white 
man appeased his omnipresent land hunger by inducing repre- 
sentatives of the tribes to make a cession, usually for a paltry 
consideration, of the land which was at the moment desired. 
The usual method of procuring such cessions was to call the 
leaders of the tribe affected together in solemn conclave, where 
they were plied with whisky and cajolery, and by alternate 
threats and appeals to their cupidity the bargain was extorted 
from them. 458 If the government did not itself directly supply 

' For an excellent description of the scenes attending a typical treaty see Latrobe, 
Rambler in North America, II, chap. xi. 


the liquor which befuddled the brain and weakened the will of the 
red man, it was at least guilty of permitting its subjects to do 
so. 459 How the transaction appeared to the Indian, when he had 
had time to reflect upon it, is well shown by an appeal of the 
Wyandot tribe in 1812 to be allowed to retain possession of the 
lands they were then cultivating, which had been ceded to the 
United States by a prior treaty. Their description of the process 
of obtaining cessions from the tribes can scarcely be improved 
upon for clarity and succinctness. "When the United States 
want a particular piece of land, all our natives are assembled; a 
large sum of loney is offered; the land is occupied probably by 
one nation only; nine-tenths have no actual interest in the land 
wanted; if the particular nation interested refuses to sell, they 
are generally threatened by the others, who want the money or 
goods offered to buy whisky. Fathers, this is the way in which 
this small spot, which we so much value, has been so often torn 
from us." 460 

Thus the land hunger of the white man and the discord pro- 
duced by the operation of two totally divergent conceptions of 
land ownership and alienation furnished the basis for a conflict 
between the two races which was probably inevitable under any 
circumstances. To the shame of the more enlightened race, how- 
ever, it must be said that its relations with its less civilized 
neighbor were marked by a policy of persistent abuse and a dis- 
regard of justice and treaty obligations which operated time and 
again to goad the red man into impotent warfare, and this, in 
turn, became the excuse for further spoliation. No government 
ever entertained more enlightened and benevolent intentions 
toward a weaker people than did that of the United States toward 
the Indian, but never in history, probably, has a more striking 
divergence between intention and performance been witnessed. 

There is practically no limit to the number of sources which might be cited in support 
of this statement. See for example Latrobe, op. cit., II, chap. xi. At the second Treaty of 
Greenville, July, 1814, the government agents seem to have deliberately adopted the policy 
of intoxicating the Indians in order to bend them to their wishes (Dillon, "The National 
Decline of the Miami Indians," in Indiana Historical Society, Publications, I, 136-37). 

A merican State Papers, Indian A fairs, I, 795-96. 


The failure was due partly to ignorance, but also, in large part 
at least, to the inability or unwillingness of the government to 
restrain its lawless subjects, who, filled with an insatiable cupidity 
and animated by a wanton disregard of justice, hesitated at no 
means to possess themselves of the land and other property of the 

The truth of these statements is so notorious as scarcely to 
require demonstration, were it not for the fact that with the 
passing of the relations that prevailed between the two races on 
the frontier a century ago our knowledge of them threatens to 
disappear. Almost any number of witnesses of unimpeachable 
authority might be cited to show the unjust administration of the 
regulations governing the intercourse between the two races. 
Said Hamtramck to St. Clair in 1790 : "The people of our frontiers 
will be the first to break any treaty. The people of Kentucky 
will carry on private expeditions and will kill Indians whenever 
they meet them, and I do not believe there is a jury in all Ken- 
tucky who would punish a man for it." 461 This opinion was 
substantially repeated by Washington, who affirmed that the 
"frontier settlers entertain the opinion that there is not the same 
crime (or indeed no crime at all) in killing an Indian as in killing 
a white man." 462 

No man understood better the conditions that prevailed on 
the northwestern frontier than did General Harrison. His let- 
ters and messages abound in accounts of acts of violence and 
other crimes committed against the Indians, and of the impossi- 
bility of obtaining justice for them. By the treaties the Indians 
guilty of murder were to be surrendered to the whites, and what- 
ever the form of trial were practically certain of punishment, 
while, as Hamtramck observed, western juries almost invariably 
acquitted white men guilty of the same offense. "The Indian 
always suffers, and the white man never," said Harrison to the 
Indiana legislature in 1806, in a message appealing for a redress 
of this grievance. 463 A year later, in discussing the subject of 

Winsor, Westward Movement, 421. 

* Ibid. *"' Dillon, History of Indiana, 424. 


Indian unrest, the Governor returned to the same theme, 
expressing the opinion that the utmost efforts of the British 
to incite the Indians to make war upon the Americans would 
be unavailing "if one only of the many persons who have 
committed murders on their people, could be brought to 
punishment." 464 It had even come to pass from the partiality 
shown the whites in the enforcement of the laws that the 
Indians proudly compared their own observance of the treaty 
stipulations with that of their boasted superiors. 465 

An event reported by General Harrison in 1802 well illustrates 
the workings of the prejudice which rendered persons guilty of 
acts of violence against the Indians immune from punishment. 466 
An Indian was barbarously murdered by a white man. The 
offender was a man of infamous character for whom no sympathy 
was felt, and the evidence of guilt was incontestable. Yet the 
jury, in obedience to the sentiment that no white man ought to 
suffer for the murder of an Indian, in a few minutes brought in 
a verdict of acquittal. A case which attracted a good deal of 
attention and served to embitter the minds of the Indians 
occurred about the beginning of the century. An entire party 
consisting of several persons, men, women, and children, was 
foully murdered by three white villains for the sake of a paltry 
fifty dollars' worth of peltry which they owned. The murder 
was revealed through the boasting of the murderers themselves. 
Governor Harrison made strenuous efforts to secure their punish- 
ment, but because of the active sentiment against punishing white 
men for killing Indians these were rendered of no avail. 467 In a 
similar manner in 1812 a trader who had killed an Indian at Vin- 
cennes was acquitted by the jury almost without deliberation. 468 

'< Dawson, Historical Narrative of the Civil and Military Services of Major-General 
William H. Harrison, 97. 

<* Governor Harrison to the Indiana legislature, printed in Dillon, History of Indiana, 
424. In a letter to Harrison from the War Department (unsigned), July 17, 1806, relative 
to the murder of an Indian occurs the following: "It is excessively mortifying that our 
good faith should so frequently be called in question by the natives who have it in their 
power to make such proud comparison in relation to good faith." Indian Office, Letter 
Book B, 240. 

" Dawson, Harrison, 45. * Ibid., 7-8, 31-32. 

" Drake, Life of Tecumseh, 134. 


Shortly after this the house of a white man was robbed by a 
Delaware Indian. To the demand that the culprit be given up 
for trial the chiefs of the tribe replied that they would never sur- 
render another man until some of the white murderers of their 
own people had been punished; they would, however, punish him 
themselves, and this promise they kept by putting him to death. 469 
Another illustration of the sense of injustice felt by the Indians 
over the one-sided administration of justice as between the two 
races, is afforded by the spirited speech of Main Poc, the Potta- 
watomie chief who lived near the junction of the Des Plaines and 
the Kankakee rivers, to the agent of Governor Edwards in 1811. 
To the latter's demand for the surrender of certain red men 
accused of committing murders among the whites Main Poc 
replied: "You astonish us with your talk. When you do us 
harm nothing is done, but when we do anything you immediately 
tie us by the neck." 470 

Thus to the native mind there were two kinds of justice, one 
red and the other white, and moreover the red man was keen 
enough to observe that most of the faults for which he was visited 
with punishment had been learned from the palefaces. In par- 
ticular the white man's fire-water had for him a fatal fascination, 
leading him into depths of degradation and crime which beggar 
description. There is no more mournful picture in English 
literature than that of the steady destruction of the Indian race 
by this poison dealt out to the red man by the white trader for 
the sake of paltry gain. The efforts of Catholic and Protestant 
missionaries, and of the governments of France, Great Britain, 
and the United States to suppress the accursed traffic were all 
alike in vain. The narratives of travelers and the letters and 
reports of government officials abound in portrayals of shocking 
scenes of debauchery indulged in by the Indians while under the 
influence of liquor. 471 " I have witnessed the evils caused by that 

< Dawson, Harrison, 178. Edwards, Life of Ninian Edwards, 49. 

<" For examples see Volney, View of the Soil and Climate of the United States of America, 
354; Latrobe, Rambler in North America, II, chap, xi; Keating, Narrative of an Expedition 
to the Sources of the St. Peter's River, I, 124-27; Charlevoix, Letters to the Duchess of 
Lesdiguieres, 228-29; and citations collected by Dillon, in Indiana Historical Society, Pub- 
lications, I, 131-38. 


liquor among the Indians," wrote Denonville, governor of New 
France, in an official memoir in i69o. 472 "It is the horror of 
horrors. There is no crime nor infamy they do not perpetrate in 
their excesses. A mother throws her child into the fire; noses 
are bitten off; this is a frequent occurrence. It is another Hell 
among them during these orgies, which must be seen to be 

credited Those who allege that the Indians will remove 

to the English, if Brandy be not furnished them do not tell the 
truth; for it is a fact that they do not care about drinking as long 
as they do not see brandy; and the most reasonable would wish 
there had never been any such thing; for they set their entrails 
on fire and beggar themselves by giving their peltries and 
clothes for drink." "This passion for drink," said General Cass 
to the chief, Metea, at the Chicago Treaty of 1821, "has injured 
your nation more than any other thing more than all the other 
causes put together. It is not a long period since you were a 
powerful independent tribe now, you are reduced to a handful, 
and it is all owing to ardent spirits." 473 And Governor Harrison, 
pleading for a law to protect the Indians against the liquor traffic, 
thus addressed the Indiana legislature in 1805: "You are 
witnesses to the abuses; you have seen our towns crowded with 
furious and drunken savages, our streets flowing with their blood, 
their arms and clothing bartered for the liquor that destroys 
them, and their miserable women and children enduring all the 
extremities of cold and hunger. So destructive has the progress 
of intemperance been among them, that whole villages have been 
swept away. A miserable remnant is all that remains to mark 
the names and situation of many numerous and warlike tribes. 
In the energetic language of one of their orators, it is a dreadful 
conflagration, which spreads misery and desolation through their 
country, and threatens the annihilation of the whole race." 474 

At an earlier date than the foregoing, in an official communi- 
cation to the Secretary of War, Harrison described the general 

i O'Callaghan, New York Colonial Documents, IX, 441. 

< Schoolcraft, Travels in the Central Portions o the Mississippi Valley, 351. 

4" Dawson, Harrison, 73. 


effect upon the Indians of their intercourse with the whites in 
these words: 

"Killing each other has become so customary amongst them 
that it is no longer thought criminal. They murder those whom 
they have been most accustomed to esteem and regard their 
chiefs and their nearest relatives fall under the stroke of their 
tomahawks and their knives All those horrors are pro- 
duced to those unhappy people by their too frequent intercourse 
with the white people. This is so certain that I can at once tell, 
upon looking at an Indian whom I chance to meet, whether he 
belongs to a neighboring, or to a more distant tribe. The latter 
is generally well clothed, healthy, and vigorous; the former, half- 
naked, filthy, and enfeebled by intoxication; and many of them 
without arms, except a knife, which they carry for the most 
villanous purposes." 475 

The red men were not unconscious of the evils of intemper- 
ance, and often made pathetic appeals to the whites to protect 
them from temptation. " The Indian Chiefs complain heavily of 
the mischiefs produced by the enormous quantities of whisky 
which the traders introduce into their country," wrote Harrison 
to the Secretary of War in i8oi. 476 In 1810 the Fox nation 
requested General Clark, Indian agent at St. Louis, to prevent 
whisky from coming among them as it made them "verry 
poor." 477 In a speech to the President of the United States in 
1802 Little Turtle dwelt on the demoralization wrought among 
his people by liquor, and urged that its sale be prohibited. 
"Your children are not wanting in industry," he said, "but it is 
the introduction of this fatal poison which keeps them poor. 
Your children have not that command of themselves which you 
have, therefore, before anything can be done to advantage, this 
evil must be remedied." 478 

" Dawson, Harrison, 10-11. 

" Edwards Papers, MSS in Chicago Historical Society library, L, 77; Maurice 
Blondeau to Clark, August 25, 1810. 

American Stale Papers, Indian Affairs, I, 655. 


The conditions which were working the ruin of the tribes were 
borne by the Indians with astonishing patience. 479 "They will 
never have recourse to arms," said Harrison in 1806, "unless 
driven to it by a series of injustice and oppression." 480 Yet 
often there were pathetic protests. "I had not discovered," 
wrote Black Hawk of the spring of 1812, "one good trait in the 
character of the Americans that had come to the country. They 

made fair promises, but never fulfilled them Why did the 

Great Spirit ever send the whites to this island to drive us from 
our homes, and introduce among us poisonous liquors, disease, 
and death?" 481 

With the government demanding more lands and the advan- 
cing line of white settlement pressing ever forward, the game upon 
which the Indians subsisted became scarcer, and many of the 
tribes were reduced to destitution. Then came the remarkable 
attempt of Tecumseh, the Indian Moses, and his brother, the 
Prophet, to rescue their people from the impending doom. The 
story of Tecumseh, the greatest man of the native race, begins 
with the birth of three boys to the Cherokee squaw of a Shawnee 
warrior about the year 1770, in an obscure village near the 
present site of Springfield, Ohio. 482 In the nature of things not 
much can be known with certainty of his earlier years. His 
brother, the Prophet, has spun a fanciful tale of his descent from 
the union of a Creek warrior with the daughter of one of the 
colonial governors, but both this and the stories of his youthful 
precocity and prowess may be regarded with equal suspicion. In 
the same light must we view the story of the effect produced upon 
Tecumseh by the first spectacle, for him, of the burning of a 
prisoner, and his persuading his associates to abandon the 
custom, 483 though it is true his later career was marked by a 
humanity toward the vanquished foe quite unusual in an Indian. 

' Statement of Harrison to the Secretary of War, July 15, 1801, Dawson, Harrison, 9. 

Dillon, History of Indiana, 423. 

"" Black Hawk, Life, 34-35. 

' Drake, Tecumseh, chaps, i and ii. 

' Ibid., 68-69. 


The young warrior doubtless participated in various warlike 
forays during the stormy years prior to Wayne's victory at Fallen 
Timbers in 1794. He fought in that battle, but refrained from 
attending the council which resulted in the Treaty of Green- 
ville. 484 During the next few years he assumed the dignity of a 
chief and gradually attracted to himself a considerable following. 
Before long his fame as an orator and a man of influence among 
his fellows had spread even to the white settlers. In 1805 several 
scattered bands of the Shawnee tribe, Tecumseh's among the 
number, united and settled at Greenville, where Tecumseh's 
brother began the career which has caused him to be known in 
history as the "Prophet." 

Tecumseh was always an enemy of the Americans, but he 
based his enmity upon the losses and ills suffered by his people. 
Evidently the Great Spirit was angry with his red children, for 
they were being driven from their hunting-grounds, were losing 
their health and vigor, and sinking into the lowest depths of 
poverty and depravity. For all these evils there were two 
remedies; the first to recover the lost hunting-grounds, the sec- 
ond to reform the conduct of the warriors; and no European 
statesman ever faced an impossible task with greater courage or 
used his resources with greater skill than did Tecumseh. 

The leading role was taken for some time by Tecumseh's 
brother the Prophet, who now took upon himself the name 
Tenskwautawau, meaning the "Open Door," signifying that he 
would point out to the Indians the new mode of life they should 
pursue. 485 From the village of the assembled bands near 
Greenville was sent out far and wide to the tribes in the year 
1806 this revelation by the Prophet of the will of the Great 
Spirit: "I am the father of the English, of the French, of the 
Spaniards, and of the Indians. I created the first man, who was 
the common father of all these people, as well as yourselves; and 
it is through him, whom I have awaked from his long sleep, that 
I now address you. But the Americans I did not make. They are 
not my children, but the children of the evil spirit. They grew from 

Drake, Tecumseh, 81-83. Ibid., 86. 


the scum of the great water where it was troubled by the evil 
spirit, and the froth was driven into the woods by a strong east 

wind. They are numerous, but I hate them I am now 

on the earth, sent by the Great Spirit to instruct you. Each 
village must send me two or more principal chiefs to represent 

you, that you may be taught Those villages which do not 

listen to this talk, and send me two deputies, will be cut off from 
the face of the earth." 486 

A religious enthusiasm was thus enkindled which soon 
developed into a frenzy. The Prophet's teachings in the main 
were sound, from the red man's point of view, but they were 
attended by the excesses inevitable to such a movement. 487 
Witchcraft, drunkenness, and intermarriage with the whites 
were declared against, and community of property, respect for 
the aged and infirm, and adherence to the native dress and 
customs were advocated. To all who would adopt these precepts 
the recovery of the comforts and happiness enjoyed by their fore- 
fathers before they were debased by their connection with the 
whites was promised. Among the first manifestations of the 
influence of the new teachings was the outbreak of a witchcraft 
delusion, similar in all essential respects to that in Massachusetts 
in 1692. 488 Under the influence of torture those accused confessed 
the possession of supernatural powers, and to aerial journeyings by 
night; but where staid and civilized Salem had been content to 
hang her victims, the untutored red man burned his at the stake. 

This delusion was soon ended, partly by the good sense of the 
Indians reasserting itself, partly through the influence of Gover- 
nor Harrison, who sent a ringing protest against it. 489 But the 
influence of the Prophet continued to wax, and by the summer of 
1807 hundreds of Indians from far and near had come to visit him 
and to listen to his instruction. 490 The British, who feared an 

American State Papers, Indian Ajfairs, I, 798. 

" For a statement of the Prophet's teachings at this time see Drake, Tecumseh, 87-88. 
Ibid., 88-80; Dawson, Harrison, 82-83. 
Dawson, Harrison, 83-84. 

Captain Wells at Fort Wayne estimated that up to May 25, 1807, fifteen hundred 
Indians had passed that point going to visit the Prophet (Dawson, Harrison, 91). 


outbreak of war and an invasion of Canada by the Americans 
following the Chesapeake affair of 1807, sought to foster the 
excitement and to turn it to their own ends by attaching the 
Indians to their cause in the impending conflict. Messengers 
were sent to all the tribes to summon them to Maiden, 491 where 
for years presents of guns, ammunition, and other supplies had 
been distributed to the Indians with a prodigal hand. 492 Hull at 
Detroit did his best to counteract the effect of the meetings at 
Maiden, but with indifferent success. 493 The British urged the 
Indians to join actively in the expected war with the Americans. 
Hull, on the other hand, tried to win them to a policy of neu- 
trality, a role entirely foreign to their savage nature. Many of 
them stopped at Detroit on their return from Maiden, and 
showed great readiness in inventing excuses for their conduct. 
"When you first sent for us," said one, "we immediately pre- 
pared to come to see you. Captain McKee prevented us from 
coming then; he renewed his promise of presents to us, and gave 
us a keg of spirits ; that fatal keg stopped us. We were stopped 
a second and a third time; at last, without his knowledge, we 
crossed the river. We are now happy on your shore and safe 
under your protection." 494 

Meanwhile Tecumseh's plans steadily developed. In June, 
1809, he established himself with his brother, the Prophet, and a 
considerable number of warriors gathered from various tribes on 
the "Great Clearing," where Tippecanoe Creek empties into the 
Wabash. 495 For three years this town was the center of Indian 
intrigue and turbulence in the Northwest. One hundred miles to 
the northwest was Fort Dearborn; about the same distance to 
the northeast Fort Wayne guarded the approach to the Maumee ; 

Michigan Pioneer Collections, XV, 44-45, 47-48; American Slate Papers, Indian 
Affairs, 1, 797 ff. 

w For a description by a British partisan of the distribution of goods to the Indians at 
Maiden, see Weld, Travels through the States of North America, II, Letter 34. 

<3 American State Papers, Indian Affairs, I, 745-46; Michigan Pioneer Collections, 
VIII, 568-71. 

< American Stale Papers, Indian Affairs, I, 745. 
"s Dawson, Harrison, 106-7. 


while one hundred and fifty miles to the south Vincennes pro- 
tected the Illinois frontier. The new Indian town occupied the 
center of the triangle formed by these three posts. Here was 
to be worked out, for weal or woe, the great experiment on the 
outcome of which depended the future of the red race. That 
Tecumseh's was the master mind which guided the enterprise 
cannot be doubted, although he made clever use of the influence 
wielded by his brother, and at times seemed to shrink into the 
background in comparison with the latter. Here at Tippecanoe 
the Indians proceeded to exemplify the Prophet's teachings, 
which shall be given in his own words. 

''The Great Spirit told me to tell the Indians that he had 
made them and made the world that he had placed them in it 
to do good, and not evil. I told all the redskins that the way 
they were in was not good, and that they ought to abandon it. 
That we ought to consider ourselves as one man, but we ought to 
live agreeable to our several customs, the red people after their 
mode, and the white people after theirs; particularly, that they 
should not drink whisky, that it was not made for them, but the 
white people, who alone know how to use it; and that it is the 
cause of all the mischiefs which the Indians suffer; .... Deter- 
mine to listen to nothing that is bad. Do not take up the 
tomahawk, should it be offered by the British, or by the Long 
Knives. Do not meddle with any thing that does not belong to 
you, but mind your own business and cultivate the ground, that 
your women and your children may have enough to live on." 496 

The extent to which this advice was followed is astonishing, 
in view of the fact that it necessitated a complete revolution in 
the lives and habits of the natives. The influence of the 
Prophet's religious teachings was felt from Florida to Sas- 
katchewan. Most marvelous of all, the love of liquor which had 
been the bane of the Indians from the beginning of their inter- 
course with the whites was for a time completely exorcised. 497 
Seeking to test the strength of the Prophet's influence over his 

<* Speech to Governor Harrison, August, 1808; Dawson, Harrison, 108-9. 
7 Wisconsin Historical Collections, XIX, 322. 


followers, Harrison tempted them with whisky in vain. 498 Even 
among the distant tribes to which the Prophet's emissaries came, 
drunkenness and warfare fell into disfavor. 499 The Ottawas of 
FArbre Croche were reported in 1807 to be adhering strictly to 
the "Shawney Prophet's" advice. The whisky and rum of the 
traders had become a drug on the market, not a gallon a month 
being purchased. Even when the white men sought to tempt 
the natives by urging liquor upon them as a present they refused 
it "with disdain." 500 

The settlers on the frontier were filled with apprehensions of 
danger from Tecumseh's movement, and protests and appeals for 
protection poured in upon Harrison. Yet the brothers protested 
that they had no hostile designs against the Americans. In the 
summer of 1808 the Prophet visited Harrison at Vincennes and 
succeeded in convincing him, apparently, that he desired only 
peace and the upbuilding of his race. 501 Meanwhile Tecumseh 
was conducting missions far and wide among the Indians, urging 
upon them his design of a confederation of all the tribes. In the 
famous Vincennes Council of i8io 502 he frankly informed Harri- 
son that his purpose was to form a combination of all the Indian 
tribes of the surrounding region, to put a stop to the encroach- 
ments of the whites, and to establish the principle that the lands 
should be considered the common property of all the tribes, never 
to be sold without the consent of all. There was nothing original 
in this, for exactly the same design and contention had been 
advanced by the northwestern tribes in their general council at 
the mouth of the Detroit River in i786. s 3 The American 
government had, of course, ignored their pretensions. Much 
dissatisfaction was expressed by the tribes with the treaties of 
Fort Mclntosh and Fort Harmar, subsequent to their enact- 

s Drake, Tecumseh, 107. 

For evidence on this point see Tanner's Narrative, 155-58; Wisconsin Historical 
Collections, XIX, 322-23. 

Wisconsin Historical Collections, XIX, 322-23. 
i" Dawson, Harrison, 107-9. 
i" For an account of this council see ibid., 155-59. 
> Michigan Pioneer Collections, XI, 467-69. 


ment, many of them refusing to recognize the validity of the 
cessions made by these treaties until compelled thereto by 
Wayne, in 1795. At the Treaty of Greenville in that year most 
of the northwestern tribes were represented; but many indi- 
viduals belonging to them held aloof, and among these Tecumseh 
himself was numbered. 

With the rapid advance of white settlement following Wayne's 
victory, new cessions of land were from time to time demanded. 
That the red man must go down before this advancing tide of 
invasion was inevitable. That he should struggle against his 
impending fate was but natural. The plan advanced in 1786 
offered the only prospect of even temporarily holding back the 
whites, and this the more far-sighted among the Indians were 
shrewd enough to perceive. Harrison reported in 1802 the 
existence among them of an agreement that no proposition 
relating to their lands could be acceded to without the consent 
of all the tribes. 504 Nevertheless several treaties carrying large 
cessions of land were made during the next few years. One of 
these, in particular, made by the Piankeshaws and Delawires in 
August, 1804, excited the anger of the other tribes. 505 Others 
negotiated by Harrison in 1808 and 1809 again aroused them. 
To an agent of Harrison Tecumseh stated, in the summer of 1810, 
that the continuance of friendship with the United States was 
impossible unless the encroachment should cease. 506 "The Great 
Spirit," he said, "gave this great island to his red children, he 
placed the whites on the other side of the big water; they were 
not contented with their own, but came to take ours from us. 
They have driven us from the sea to the lakes, we can go no 
farther." This was repeated to Harrison himself a few weeks 
later at the Council of Vincennes, and the determination was 
proclaimed to put to death all the chiefs who had been parties to 
the late treaties, and to take away from the village chiefs the 
management of their tribal affairs and place it in the hands of 
the warriors. 507 

s Dawson, Harrison, 19. * Ibid., 153. 

ss Ibid., 61-3. ' Ibid., 155. 


The Council of Vincennes closed with an ultimatum on the 
part of Tecumseh that the President must either agree to give up 
the lands recently purchased and promise never to make another 
treaty without the consent of all the tribes, or else prepare for 
war. Harrison agreed to transmit Tecumseh's demands to the 
President, but assured him there was no probability of their 
acceptance; to which the red leader's grim rejoinder was that in 
that event "you and I will have to fight it out." A year passed, 
however, and war was not yet begun. In 1811 another council 
was held between the leaders of the rival races. 508 Some murders 
had been committed in Illinois for which Harrison demanded 
satisfaction. Tecumseh professed himself unable to afford it. At 
the same time he informed the Governor that he had succeeded 
in uniting the northern tribes, and at the close of the council 
would set out for the south to bring the southern tribes also 
into union. 

Tecumseh departed on his mission, but returned to find his 
hopes of realizing the red man's Utopia forever blasted. The 
settlers of Indiana, frantic with fear of the threatened destruction, 
demanded that the government take steps effectually to avert 
it. 509 Equipped at last with an adequate military force, Harrison 
determined to forestall the anticipated blow by striking first. 
The fight of Tippecanoe followed in November, 1811, and the 
Prophet's shrill battle song on that field was at once the death 
song to Indian unity and to peace on the frontier. Henceforth, 
if the dream of Tecumseh was to be realized, the Indians must, 
as he had threatened, throw in their lot with the British, and 
improve the opportunity afforded by a war between the two 
white nations. 

Thus the agitation fostered by Tecumseh kept the north- 
western frontier in a turmoil for several years, and constitutes for 
that region the prelude to the War of 1812. At Chicago there 
were no actual hostilities during this time, but the Indians of this 
vicinity shared the unrest which existed among their fellows on 
the Wabash. In June, 1805, representatives from several of the 

s For an account of this council see ibid., 182-85. 
5 Ibid., 187-00. 


northwestern tribes journeyed to Maiden to solicit the assistance 
of their British Father against the encroachments of the Ameri- 
cans. Among the speakers were two chiefs from Chicago, one of 
them the notorious Black Bird to whom Captain Heald seven 
years later surrendered the survivors of the Fort Dearborn 
massacre. The burden of their complaint was that the Long 
Knives were pressing on them so that they deemed it time to take 
up the hatchet. Both the Chicago chiefs professed an attach- 
ment to peace hitherto, but seeing "the White Devil with his 
mouth wide open" ready to take possession of their lands by any 
means whatever, they had determined to join with their fellows 
in opposition. 510 

A year later, in June, 1806, a French trader informed Captain 
Wells at Fort Wayne that a plot had been formed by the Chippe- 
was, Ottawas, and Pottawatomies to surprise Detroit, Mackinac, 
Fort Wayne, and Chicago. 5 " In 1808 Jouett, the agent at 
Chicago, reported that the neighboring Indians were planning a 
visit to the Prophet. 512 He feared that the meeting would be 
attended with serious consequences, and advised that it be fore- 
stalled by the apprehension of the Prophet. About this same 
time the followers of Main Poc made threatening demonstra- 
tions at Fort Dearborn, stirred up, as Doctor Cooper was told, 
by some act of alleged injustice on the part of the government 
contractor. 513 

From threatened hostilities to the commission of acts of 
violence was a step easily taken. In 1810 the Indians of Illinois 
committed a series of depredations and murders along the 
Mississippi border. 514 In July four white men were killed near 
Portage des Sioux by a band of marauding Indians engaged in a 
horse-stealing expedition. Two of the murderers shortly took 
refuge with the Prophet. 515 Both Governor Edwards and 
Governor Harrison endeavored to secure the surrender of the 
offenders, but without success. 516 One of the culprits was 

s' Michigan Pioneer Collections, XXIII, 30-42. 

s" Dawson, Harrison, 85. >" Wilson, Chicago from 1803 to 1812. 

s" Ibid., 105. Edwards, Life of Ninian Edwards, 37. 

sis Edwards Papers, 56-57; Edwards, Life of Ninian Edwards, 37. 

s' Dawson, Harrison, 182-84; Edwards, Life of Ninian Edwards, chap. iii. 


Nuscotnemeg, who later bore a prominent part in the Chicago 
massacre . SI 7 Main Poc , who had made the demonstration against 
Fort Dearborn in 1808, seems to have been the most active 
marauder during the next few years. In May, 1811, La Lime, 
the interpreter at Fort Dearborn, reported that two of Main Poc's 
brothers had been engaged in stealing horses from the settle- 
ments of southern Illinois. 518 In August Gomo informed Gover- 
nor Edwards' representative that Main Poc had gone to Detroit 
where he would remain until fall. 519 The nature of his mission is 
revealed by a letter of Captain Wells the following February. 520 
He had been stationed near Maiden since August, visiting the 
British headquarters there every few days. He had with him 
one hundred and twenty warriors, disposed in bands of ten or 
fifteen each to allay the suspicion of the Americans, ready to take 
the warpath the moment hostilities between the British and 
Americans should begin. Thus alarming reports poured in upon 
the government from every part of the frontier. 521 British agents 
in Canada co-operated with those in the West to secure the 
allegiance of the Indians, and early in the year 1812 attacks were 
proposed upon the border settlements of Louisiana and Illinois. 522 
It was due mainly to Robert Dickson, one of the most astute and 
influential British traders in the Northwest, that these plans were 
not fully carried out, and that the hostile bands were transferred 
to the territory about Detroit and the Canadian frontier. 523 
The Americans urged upon the Indians a policy of neutrality in 
the impending war between the whites, 524 while the British, with 
greater success, sought to enlist them actively in their support. 
The opening of the year 1812 found the Indians only awaiting 
the co-operation of the British to devastate the frontier with 
blood and slaughter. 

1 Edwards Papers, 57; Wisconsin Historical Collections, XI, 320. 
1 Kirkland, Chicago Massacre, 187; Edwards, Life of Ninian Edwards, 286-87. 
Edwards, Life of Ninian Edwards, 39. 
American Slate Papers, Indian Ajfairs, I, 805. 
1 For further examples see ibid., 797-811. 
i" Edwards Papers; Edwards, Life of Ninian Edwards, passim. 
s" Michigan Pioneer Collections, Vol. XV, passim; Black Hawk, Life, 30-35. 
Black Hawk, Life, 34 ff; Michigan Pioneer Collections, XV, 196-98; Edwards, Life 
of Ninian Edwards, 57. 



The indecisive outcome of the battle of Tippecanoe seemed to 
necessitate the continuation of the war which Harrison's cam- 
paign had precipitated. But Tecumseh's plans were not yet 
matured, and his British advisers steadily warned him against 
the mistake of making a premature beginning of the struggle 
with the Americans, which would permit them to crush the 
Indians before the British should be ready to come to their assist- 
ance. He chose, therefore, to make light of the affair at Tippe- 
canoe, and continued to protest that there would be no war with 
the Americans unless they themselves forced it. 525 One thing 
had, however, been rendered certain by the Tippecanoe campaign : 
sooner or later the Americans must renew the attack upon the 
Indians; and a war with the British would bring an Indian war 
also upon the Northwest. 

Finally after long debate the country blundered hesitantly 
and half-heartedly into the War of 1812. The people of New 
England were so bitterly opposed to this step, and to the party in 
power, as to give rise to suspicion of their loyalty to the Union. 
The middle and southern states were, on the whole, favorably 
disposed toward the war. But in no other section were the 
people as eager for war to begin as in the West. Here, on the 
frontier, the traditional enmity toward England was compara- 
tively untouched by the commercial advantages which com- 
mitted New England to a policy of peace. Revival of commerce 
had little effect upon the West with its desultory cultivation and 

s In a speech delivered at a council of the tribes at Massassinway on the Wabash, in 
May, 1812, Tecumseh disclaimed responsibility for the fight of Tippecanoe, referring to it as 
"the unfortunate transaction that took place between the white people and a few of our 
young men at our village." He stated that the trouble between his followers and Governor 
Harrison had been settled, and further that had he been at home there would have been no 
bloodshed (D'awson, Harrison, 266-67). 



crude and inadequate means of transportation, but the spirit of 
expansion was strong and the greed for land was unappeased. 
To -this sentiment was added the belief, firmly held by the 
westerner, that the British were primarily responsible for the 
insecurity of the frontier. In part this was justified by the facts 
of the situation, but not to the extent which the American 
frontiersmen believed it was. Whether well founded or not, the 
belief filled them with resentment toward the British and ren- 
dered them keen for war. "I cannot but notice," wrote Surgeon 
Van Voorhis from Fort Dearborn in October, 1811, in a letter to 
a friend, "the villainy practiced in the Indian country by British 
agents and traders ; you hear of it at a distance, but we near the 
scene of action are sensible of it. They labor by every unprin- 
cipled means to instigate the Savages against the Americans, to 
inculcate the idea that we intend to drive the Indians beyond the 
Mississippi, and that in every purchase of land the Government 
defrauds them ; and their united efforts aim too at the destruction 
of every trading house and the prevention of the extension of our 
frontier. Never till a prohibition of the entrance of all foreigners, 
and especially British subjects, into the Indian Country takes 
place, will we enjoy a lasting peace with the credulous, deluded, 
and cannibal savages." 526 

The West looked forward to war, not only as a solution of the 
Indian problem, but also as the means of securing Canada. Yet 
greater danger threatened the Northwest, in the event of war, 
than any other portion of the United States. Of the territories 
Michigan was the most defenseless and exposed to attack. 
There were in all ten settlements scattered over a wide extent 
of country, the distance between the closest of them being 
thirty miles and that between the two extremes over ten times 
as great. 527 The entire population, counting British, French, 
Americans, negroes, and the troops of the garrison at Detroit, 

s" Van Voorhis, Ancestry of Major Wm. Roe Van Voorhis, 144-45. 

" Memorial of the inhabitants of Michigan Territory to the President and Congress, 
December 8 and 10, 1811, in American State Papers, Indian Affairs, I, 780-82; Michigan 
Pioneer Collections, XV, 61-63. 


was less than five thousand, four-fifths of them being of French- 
Canadian descent. The chief source of danger arose, however, 
from the exposed situation of the settlements, rather than from 
lack of numbers. Ordinarily the frontier was the extreme line 
of white occupation and was backed by settlements whose popu- 
lation became denser in proportion to their distance from it. 
Michigan, however, presented the phenomenon of a double 
frontier, open on one side to the British and on the other to the 
savages; furthermore the settlements were so scattered as to 
render effectual co-operation between them in case of attack out 
of the question. 

Separated from even the southernmost of the Michigan settle- 
ments by a wide extent of wilderness, which contained the 
stronghold of the budding Indian confederacy, were the white 
settlements of Indiana. They had a population of about thirty 
thousand, clustered principally in two groups, the one around 
Vincennes, the other on the Ohio opposite Louisville, with one 
hundred miles of wilderness between them. 528 From the Wabash 
to the Illinois and Kankakee, stretching far to the southward, 
was the great wedge of lands still held by the Indian tribes. 
Beginning with the old French town of Vincennes, then Harri- 
son's headquarters, the line of the frontier followed the Wabash 
River nearly fifty miles to Fort Harrison, opposite the present 
city of Terre Haute. Extending north from Fort Harrison to the 
Michigan settlements and westward to the Mississippi were the 
Indian villages and hunting-grounds. The principal settlements 
of Illinois were still, as in the old French days, clustered along its 
lower Mississippi border. A line drawn from Vincennes to the 
mouth of Rock River on the Mississippi would have had south 
of it practically all of them. The total white population of the 
territory was probably less than half that of Indiana. 

To protect this extensive northwestern frontier the United 
States had, in the early part of 1812, some half-dozen feeble 
garrisons, with an average strength of about seventy-five men. 

>" Henry Adams, History of the United Slates, VI, 68. 


At Detroit, the largest and most important military station in the 
Northwest, were ninety-four men; 529 at Mackinac, three hundred 
miles away, were seventy-nine; at the opposite end of Lake 
Michigan and about an equal distance from both Mackinac and 
Detroit was Fort Dearborn with a garrison of fifty-five men; at 
Fort Wayne and at Fort Harrison, the new stockade on the 
Wabash, were about as many. All of these were one-company 
posts except Detroit, which had two companies. The fortifica- 
tions had not been designed for, nor were they expected to be 
capable of, defense against the forces of a civilized nation. They 
were supposed to possess sufficient strength to withstand an 
attack by Indians alone, and, providing the supply of provisions 
held out, this expectation would ordinarily have been realized. 
Even so, however, they could do nothing toward defending the 
scattered settlements against the attacks of the Ind'ans, and the 
sequel showed that the garrisons were not even able to defend 
themselves. Mackinac surrendered without resistance to a com- 
bined force of Indians and Canadian traders; Fort Dearborn was 
abandoned, and the garrison was destroyed while seeking to es- 
cape; and Fort Wayne was saved from impend ng capture only by 
the approach of a large force of militia under General Harrison. 
Against this frontier could be launched, in the event of an 
Indian war alone, several thousand warriors. 530 If war were 
joined with Great Britain at the same time, it was believed by 
both sides, and with good reason, that several thousand men 
employed in the Indian trade and in sympathy with the British 
would co-operate in the attack on the American frontier. 531 
Potentially the Americans possessed in the population of Ohio 
and Kentucky resources vastly greater than those their oppo- 
nents could bring to bear on the Northwest; and in the end the 
superiority of population made itself manifest in the triumph of 

s*' American State Papers, Indian Affairs, I, 781. 

In the memorial cited above (note 527) of the inhabitants of Michigan Territory to 
the President and Congress, December 8 and 10, 1811, the number of warriors that might be 
brought against Detroit was estimated at five thousand. 

"" Michigan Pioneer Collections, XV, 61-63, 70-72; Drennan Papers, Hull to Eustis, 
March 6, 1812. The Americans estimated the number of traders who would assist the 
British at four thousand. 


the American cause in this region. But this triumph came only 
after more than a year of fighting, during the greater part of 
which the Americans met with disaster after disaster. For the 
immediate present the northwestern frontier was practically 
undefended while in the traders and Indians the British possessed 
a force immediately available for action which constituted to all 
intents and purposes a formidable standing army. 

That this force was not such as could safely be despised both 
the words and actions of the frontiersmen gave testimony. In 
more recent years on the western plains the forces of the regular 
army of the United States have time and again manifested their 
superiority over the Indians in open battle; and only rarely, 
when the advantage of numbers or position was greatly in their 
favor, have the red men won a victory over them. But in the old 
Northwest, where advantage could be taken of the heavy timber 
which covered so much of the country, the Indian warriors fight- 
ing on their own ground were superior, man for man, to any 
regular force that could be sent against them. In fifty years of 
warfare with the whites the northwestern Indians had never been 
defeated in open battle where the strength on both sides was 
nearly equal, 532 while time and again the forces of the whites had 
succumbed to inferior numbers. The one decisive American 
victory over these tribes down to the War of 1812 was that of 
Fallen Timbers in 1794. But this victory was won by a largely 
superior force under the command of the ablest general, with the 
possible exception of Clark, that the Americans had ever sent 
into the Northwest, and after two years of arduous preparation 
for the contest. 

The battle of Tippecanoe afforded the most recent illustration 
of the prowess of the native warriors. Harrison was probably 
better fitted to command in a campaign against the Indians than 
any other man in the Northwest, and in this campaign he had a 
force of one thousand soldiers 533 of as high quality, on the whole, 

"' Adams, op. cit., VI, 100; Dawson, Harrison, 216, 250. 

"j The number of Harrison's troops cannot be stated with entire precision. For 
a discussion of this point see Adams, op. cit., VI, 96, and note 534 below. 


as America could produce. In the actual battle his force out- 
numbered the Indians in the proportion of two to one. 534 Yet it 
was only with extreme difficulty and at the cost in killed and 
wounded of one-fourth of his army that the Indian attack was 
beaten off. Even this success was due in part to good fortune 
for the savages had purposely neglected far more favorable 
opportunities for attacking Harrison than the one they finally 
embraced. Furthermore, even Harrison's advocate grants that 
they fought with inferior arms and under circumstances which 
sacrificed the advantages which their style of fighting ordinarily 
afforded. 535 But for the absence of Tecumseh and the reluctance 
of the Indians to fight at all, it is not improbable that Harrison's 
army would have been overwhelmed. 536 

An indecisive blow had thus been struck, after which Harri- 
son's forces were disbanded or scattered, and the frontier again 
became as defenseless as before the Tippecanoe campaign. 
With the series of depredations and murders which marked the 
spring of 1812 the settlers became panic-stricken. Large num- 
bers abandoned their farms and either took refuge in temporary 
stockade forts or fled to a safer retreat in the older settlements. 537 
The peril from which they fled was graphically painted by the citi- 
zens of Detroit in their appeal to the government for protection, in 
December, 1811. "The horrors of savage belligerence, descrip- 

s" Harrison himself stated his number in the battle as " very little above seven hundred 
men," aside from sixty dragoons whom he omitted from consideration because they were 
" unable to do us much service." They were present in the battle, however, and it is obvious 
that the mere fact of Harrison's failure to make effective use of them does not justify their 
omission from a statement of the strength of his army. The statement of Dawson, his 
biographer, therefore, that on the day before the battle he had "something more than eight 
hundred men," may be regarded as approximately correct. The number of the Prophet's 
followers can only be estimated. Harrison was "convinced that there were at least six 
hundred," but he admits that he had no data from which to form a correct statement. 
Henry Adams, allowing for "the law of exaggeration," concludes that there were not more 
than four hundred Indians in the battle. On the size of the two armies see American State 
Papers, Indian Afairs, I, 778; Dawson, Harrison, 216; Adams, op. cit., VI, 104-5. 

ss Dawson, Harrison, 211-12, 236-37. 

* See in this connection the account of the campaign, and particularly of the plight of 
the army after the battle, in Dawson, Harrison, 233, 238-39; see also, Adams, op. cit., VI, 
chap. v. 

537 Adams, op. cit., VI, no; Dawson, Harrison, 236. 


tion cannot paint. No picture can resemble the reality. No 
effort can bring the imagination up to the standard of fact. Nor 
sex, nor age, have claims. The short remnant of life left to the 
hoary head, trembling with age and infirmities, is snatched away. 
The tenderest infant, yet imbibing nutrition from the mamilla of 
maternal love, and the agonized mother herself, alike await the 
stroke of the relentless tomahawk. No vestige is left of what 
fire can consume. Nothing which breathes the breath of life is 
spared. The animals reared by the care of civilized man are 
involved in his destruction. No human foresight can divine the 
quarter which shall be struck. It is in the dead of the night, in 
the darkness of the morn, in the howling of the storm, that the 
demoniac deed is done." 538 

The nation entered upon the war in June, 1812, with a large 
portion of its best citizens and one entire section of the country 
bitterly opposed to the measure. Apathy and opposition com- 
bined with the incompetence of the administration at Washington 
to produce a state of unpreparedness which, in view of the 
seriousness of the situation, seems today incredible. Congress 
voted men for the army, but there was little disposition on the 
part of the country to supply them. The money that was no 
less essential to the conduct of a war not even Congress was 
willing to vote, except to a ludicrously inadequate degree. 539 
Great Britain had stood undaunted for years between Napoleon 
and the realization of his ambition of European if not of world 
supremacy. Through generations of warfare her people had 
become habituated to devoting their treasure to this end, and 
had developed a strong military tradition. Both government 
and army had been brought to the greatest possible state of 
efficiency for the conduct of war by the experience gained in the 
two decades of practically constant warfare which the French 
Revolutionary era had opened. That the greater part of this 
schooling had been gained in combat with Napoleon, the greatest 

53< American State Papers, Indian Affairs, I, 781. 

ss On this whole subject see Adams, op. cit., Vol. VI, passim; Babcock, Rise of Ameri- 
can Nationality, chaps, iv and v. 


military genius of modern times, did not detract from its value. 
On the sea the power of England was superior to that of all the 
rest of the world combined. 

The contrast presented by the United States in 1812 in all 
that pertained to military affairs could hardly have been more 
striking. That the Americans were brave and potentially capable 
of making good soldiers does not, of course, admit of question. 
But this is equally true of the members of the mob which flees in 
terror before a detachment of regulars one-tenth as numerous as 
itself. The lack of a well-trained army was less serious, however, 
than was the absence of a disposition to submit to the labors and 
discipline necessary to create one. Of capable military leaders 
we had none. Yet this, while deplorable enough, was not so 
serious, probably, as was the contempt which all Americans out- 
side the army itself evinced for regular military training and 
experience. Even after the bitter lessons taught us on land by 
the War of 1812, a sixteen-year-old runaway boy could convince 
as intelligent a man as Calhoun that he had a greater claim to 
preferment in the army than had the graduate of West Point. 540 
And in the early stages of our next war with a civilized nation the 
President of the United States deliberately determined to appoint 
all of the officers of a newly created regiment from civil life, on 
the double ground that since he could not promote all of the 
officers of the existing army he would not promote any of them, 
and that it was "generally expected that they should be selected 
from citizens." 541 

On the sea we opposed sixteen ships, 542 excellent enough for 
their class, to the eight hundred odd of England. Their showing 
in the ensuing war is worthy of all praise. Yet it was probably 
as genuinely a matter of surprise to the Americans as it was to 
the British themselves. The glamor which resulted from the 

"'Andrews, Biographical Sketch of James Watson Webb, 5-7. 

s Diary of James K. Polk, I, 412. The same contempt for trained military leaders, 
and preference for political appointees, was manifested during the early years of the Civil 

s Adams, op. cit., VI, 362. This statement omits from consideration the gunboats of 
Jefferson's mosquito fleet. 


success of the Americans in a number of single-ship duels has 
blinded the eyes of later generations to the facts that during the 
greater part of the war the British vessels maintained a close 
blockade of the American coast, insulting our sea ports with 
impunity, and that the navy committed blunders almost as 
serious as those of the army on land. 

The army, when war was declared, was partly in the field and 
partly on paper. 543 The former portion consisted of ten old 
regiments with ranks partly filled, scattered in numerous garri- 
sons from New England to New Orleans. The latter consisted of 
thirteen new regiments which had been authorized by Congress 
in January, but although recruiting began in March, only four 
thousand men had been secured by the middle of June. Shortly 
after the declaration of war Congress fixed the regular establish- 
ment at thirty-two regiments with a strength of thirty-six 
thousand seven hundred men, yet at this time, including the 
four thousand new recruits, there were but ten thousand men 
under arms. In February the raising of fifty thousand volun- 
teers for one year was authorized, and in April the President 
was given power to call out one hundred thousand state militia. 
But in June less than one-twelfth of the volunteers had been 
enrolled, and whether the states would heed the call upon them 
for militia, or whether the militia when raised would serve beyond 
the frontier, no one yet knew. 

The main reliance of the Americans must obviously be the 
militia. Fighting within their own boundaries, under competent 
officers of their own choosing, and in their own way, they were 
capable of excellent, and at times even brilliant service; Benning- 
ton, King's Mountain, and New Orleans are sufficient evidence 
of this. But for prolonged service in a national and offensive 
war they were of very little account. In subservience to impulse 
and impatience of discipline they rivaled the Indian himself. 
Said Amos Kendall, after witnessing a temporary muster in 
Kentucky in the summer of 1814: "The soldiers are under no 

n> On the state of the army at this time see McMaster, History of the People of (he United 
States, III, chap, xxiii; Adams, op. cit., VI, chap, xiv; Babcock, op. cit., chap. v. 


more restraint than a herd of swine. Reasoning, remonstrating, 
threatening, and ridiculing their officers, they show their sense of 
equality, and their total want of subordination." 544 Even so 
popular and experienced a frontiersman as Harrison, leading the 
citizens of his own territory in defense of their own homes, found 
great difficulty in controlling the militia in the short Tippecanoe 
campaign. His biographer repeats with evident pride that he 
relied upon his persuasive eloquence, rather than his authority, 
to prevent a general desertion. 545 

Equally typical of the volunteer militia of this period was the 
action of the Ohioans on receipt of the news, in the summer of 
1812, that Fort Wayne was in imminent danger from the Indians. 
Their ardor to serve was such that "every road to the frontiers 
was crowded with unsolicited volunteers." 546 Yet this zeal, 
praiseworthy as it was in itself, only resulted in the consumption 
of the provisions which by General Hull's orders had been 
accumulated at the outposts for his use. When Harrison was 
finally ready to start upon the expedition for the relief of Fort 
Wayne he paraded his troops, "read several articles of war, pre- 
scribing the duty of soldiers, and explained the necessity for such 
regulations," and gave those who were unwilling to submit to 
them an opportunity to withdraw from the force. The enthu- 
siasm of the troops was such that only one man availed himself 
of this opportunity; and he was conveyed astride a rail by his 
disgusted associates to the banks of the Big Miami, "in the 
waters of which they absolved him from the obligations of cour- 
age and patriotism." Yet not all of Harrison's eloquence sufficed 
ten days later to prevent the Ohio militia from abandoning his 
army in a body and returning to their homes with the campaign 
but half completed. 547 

However excellent the quality of the rank and file may have 
been, it still would have availed little in the absence of competent 
leaders. The painful experience of the government in the early 

Quoted in Babcock, op. cit., 79-80. 

5Dawson, Harrison, 230-31. Ibid., 288. 

s" McAfee, History of the Late War in the Western Country, 128. 


years of the Civil War has burned this lesson deeply into the 
consciousness of the American people. Though the War of 1812 
was waged on a far smaller scale, the lack of competent generals 
in the earlier years is even more painfully apparent. The officers 
appointed by the President to command the army in 1812 have 
been well described as "old, vain, respectable, and incapable." 548 
Of the two major generals and five brigadiers the youngest was 
fifty-five years of age, and the average age was fifty-nine. Most 
of them were veterans of the Revolutionary War, and only one 
had ever commanded a regiment in the face of an enemy. 

The general plan proposed by Dearborn for the campaign 
provided for a main expedition against Montreal by way of Lake 
Champlain, flanked by invasions of Canada from Detroit, 
Niagara, and Sackett's Harbor. Such a plan vigorously pushed 
with proper forces would have compelled the British forces to 
stand strictly on the defensive, the Indians would have had no 
encouragement to rise, and the northwestern frontier might have 
been spared the horrors of the warfare that soon broke upon it. 
But while a force was sent to Detroit under Hull to begin the 
campaign in that quarter, elsewhere hostilities lagged. Hull's 
campaign, therefore, on the issue of which hung the fate of the 
Northwest, may receive our undivided attention. 

Hull had neither sought nor desired the appointment to the 
command of the army in the Northwest. As a soldier of the 
Revolution and in various capacities since that war he had 
acquitted himself with credit, when, in 1805, he was appointed 
by Jefferson governor of the newly created Michigan Territory. 
In this office he remained when the War of 1812 began, notwith- 
standing the fact that his career as governor had been marked 
by discord and disappointment, due largely to Hull's inability to 
adjust himself to the environment, new to him, of the frontier. 549 
He had urged upon the government the desirability of rendering 
Michigan defensible from a military point of view, advocating 
as essential to this end the control by armed vessels of Lake 

s McMaster, United States, III, 546. 

s* On Hull's career as governor see Cooley, Michigan, chap. viii. 


Erie. 550 In the early part of 181 2 he was in Washington urging the 
same subject again upon the government. While thus engaged 
the military appointment of commander of the forces in that 
quarter was tendered to him by Madison and declined. SSI Colonel 
Jacob Kingsbury, who had commanded at Detroit, Mackinac, 
and Belle Fontaine from 1804 to 1811, and was now on leave of 
absence, was ordered to the West to resume his old command. 
He was, however, incapacitated by illness, whereupon Hull, urged 
a second time by the administration, accepted the appointment. 

From every point of view this was a calamity. Hull's opin- 
ion that the control of the lakes was essential to the safety of 
Detroit and the Northwest had been repeatedly expressed, the 
last time as recently as March 6, 1812. Since that control had 
not been gained, it followed that Hull believed himself at the 
mercy of the enemy in the event of war. Holding such views it 
was impossible for him to enter upon the invasion of Canada with 
.any confidence or determination. Kingsbury had seen much 
of the Northwest. Having had years of military service there, 
he was familiar with Heald, Whistler, and the other post com- 
manders, and was possessed of energy and decision of character. 
Under him, even though the invasion of Canada had not been 
carried out, it is not likely t.iat Detroit would have surrendered 
without a frght, and Fort earborn have been left to its fate. 

The force put at Hull's disposal consisted of three regiments 
of Ohio militia, the Fourth United States Infantry, which had 
constituted the nucleus of Harrison's force at Tippecanoe, a troop 
of Ohio dragoons, and some scattering companies of volunteers, 
amounting in all to about two thousand men. With this force he 
must cut a road through the wilderness of northern Ohio, estab- 
lish blockhouses to protect his line of communication for two 
hundred miles through the Indian country, protect the settle- 
ments, and, according to the expectations of the government, 
conquer Upper Canada. The mere statement of the task is 

" Cooley, Michigan, 164; Hull, Campaign of 1812, 19-21; Drennan Papers, Hull to 
Eustis, March 6, 1812. 

55- Cooley, Michigan, 167; Hull, Campaign of 1812, 14-18. 


sufficient to demonstrate the impossibility of executing it with 
the means at his disposal. 

On April 25 Hull reached Pittsburgh on his way to the West, 552 
and twelve days later was at Cincinnati, having come from 
Baltimore, a distance of over eight hundred miles, in sixteen 
days. 553 Meanwhile Governor Meigs with praiseworthy expedi- 
tion was recruiting and organizing the regiments of militia. On 
May 25 he turned them over to Hull with a spirited speech 
worthy of Napoleon's best style and containing withal much 
good advice. 554 The failure of the dragoons and the regiment 
of regulars to arrive was causing Hull much anxiety, but he 
announced his intention to proceed without them. 555 At last, on 
June 10, the regulars joined him at Urbana. 556 The whole army 
marched out a mile to meet and escort them ceremoniously into 
camp. A triumphal arch had been erected near the camp, with 
the American eagle displayed on the keystone, and inscribed in 
capitals on one side the word "Tippecanoe," and on the other 
" Glory." In the place of honor at the head of the army, pre- 
ceded only by the troops of mounted dragoons, the regulars 
made their way into camp. Arrived at the arch, the cavalry 
opened out, allowing them to pass beneath it, while the militia 
regiments passed by on the outside, "hoping soon to be entitled 
to similar honors." 

This pleasing ceremony ended, and permission having been 
gained from the Indian chiefs to open a road through their 
country and protect it with blockhouses, 557 the advance was 
pressed with vigor. The obstacles to be overcome were many : a 
new road fit for the passage of an army must be cut, blockhouses 
were to be erected at intervals of twenty miles through the Indian 
country, and the provisions needed for the army must be brought 

Drennan Papers, Hull to Eustis, April 26, 1812. 
as Ibid., Hull to Eustis, May 8, 1812. 

554 Ibid., Meigs's address to the "First Army of Ohio," May 25, 1812; Hull to Eustis, 
May 26, 1812. 

H* Ibid., Hull to Eustis, May 17, 1812. " 6 Ibid., Hull to Eustis, June n, 1812. 
55' The agreement entered into is given in Drennan Papers, Hull to Eustis, June 9, 181 2 


forward from the settled portion of Ohio. The equipment of the 
army was notably deficient in certain important respects. On 
reaching Cincinnati, Hull had found the supply of powder so 
inadequate as to necessitate sending at once to Lexington for 
more. 558 The guns were in such poor condition that to render 
them fit for use Hull was compelled to carry a traveling forge 
and create a company of artificers to repair them as the army 
advanced. In this way they were rendered serviceable at the 
rate of fifty a day. 559 

Hull reported the spirit of the army as excellent, yet a serious 
case of insubordination occurred at Urbana over a grievance, real 
or fancied, on the part of the militia with respect to their pay. 560 
The officers had promised the men an advance for the year's 
clothing, which was not forthcoming. Papers were accordingly 
posted on trees the night before the departure from Urbana, 
warning Hull not to march until the army had been paid. He 
announced his determination to proceed, and when the assembly 
beat all but one company obeyed the order. A detachment from 
the Fourth Regiment of regulars was immediately marched 
toward it, which cowed the mutineers into submission. Three 
of the ringleaders were tried by a court martial which sentenced 
them to have one-half their heads shaved, their hands tied behind 
their backs, to be marched around the lines with the label 
"Tory" between the shoulders, and be drummed out of the army. 

This exhibition of firmness on Hull's part seems to have had 
the desired effect. The culprits felt the disgrace keenly, con- 
sidering the punishment worse than death, and at the solicitation 
of their officers Hull consented to pardon them. 561 Heavy and 
incessant rains, combined with the other obstacles, prevented 
the army from making the progress the commander desired. 563 
On June 26, when Hull received a message warning him of the 
impending hostilities and urging him to press forward with all 

a* Drennan Papers, Hull to Eustis, May 8, 1812. 

u'lbid., Hull to Eustis, June n, 1812. 

fi'Ibid., Hull to Eustis, June 18, 1812. Ibid. 

f 6 * Ibid., Hull to Eustis, June 24 and 26, 1812. 


possible speed, he had covered only about seventy-five miles 
from Urbana and was still thirty-five miles from the Maumee 
Rapids. 563 He reached this point four days later, and thereupon 
committed his first blunder. To save transportation, his per- 
sonal baggage, papers, hospital stores, and other material were 
embarked on a schooner for Detroit. Meanwhile war had been 
declared by Congress on June 18; and the British forces at 
Maiden, receiving prompt notice of this, seized the schooner 
with all it contained. Thus they became apprised of Hull's 
strength and of his instructions from his government. 

On July 5 Hull reached Detroit, and four days later received 
word from \Vashington to begin the invasion of Canada. 564 His 
reply expressed confidence in his ability to drive the British from 
the opposite bank of the river, but he did not believe he could 
take Maiden. A week later he crossed the river and occupied 
Sandwich, the British retiring before him without a blow. From 
Sandwich a proclamation was issued to the Canadians, designed 
to secure their acquiescence in the American conquest. 565 To 
some extent this hope was realized, and numbers of the Canadian 
militia deserted to the Americans. Instead, however, of pressing 
the attack on Maiden at once, from this time Hull delayed until, 
with the enemy growing stronger and his own position more pre- 
carious, he lost all hope of success and retreated to Detroit. 
The factors responsible for this decision were the news of the 
capture of Mackinac with the prospect of the approach of a large 
number of traders and Indians upon Detroit in his rear, and the 
attacks by Tecumseh's Indians upon his line of communications 
with Ohio. 

While Hull had thus been conducting affairs at Detroit, 
Dearborn, who had command of the army in New York, was 
dallying at Boston and Albany, doing nothing to engage the 
British by pushing the attack upon Canada from New York, a 
measure which was essential to Hull's success. On August 9 he 
even entered into an armistice with the British which bound him 

* Adams, United States, VI, 298-99; Drennan Papers, Hull to Eustis, June 26, 1812. 
< Adams, op. cil., VI, 302. *t Ibid., VI, 303-4. 


to act only on the defensive until the government at Washington 
should decide upon the effect of the repeal of the obnoxious 
orders. This inactivity in the East left Brock, the British com- 
mander in Upper Canada, entirely free to direct his attention to 
Hull; and the attack upon Niagara on which Hull on July 19 
had declared all his own success would depend was not made. 
Moving with a vigor and daring conspicuously wanting in the 
American generals, Brock transferred all of his available forces 
from the Niagara frontier to Maiden. On arriving there he 
quickly determined to cross the river and assail Hull in Detroit. 
Although Hull's force was the larger, the audacity of Brock, 
combined with the senility displayed by Hull, rendered the move- 
ment a complete success. Without awaiting the assault, Hull 
surrendered his entire army, together with Detroit and Michigan 
Territory, to the British. 



On the issue of Hull's campaign hung the fate of Fort Dear- 
born. With the Indian, war was a passion, at once his greatest 
pleasure and his chief business in life. He could not remain an 
idle spectator of such a war as had now been joined between the 
white races, but must be a participant on one side or the other. 
The exhortations of the Americans that the red man hold aloof 
from the war, which did not concern him, and let the whites 
fight out their own quarrel, would be heeded only on one condi- 
tion. The Americans must manifest such a decided superiority 
over the British as to convince him that theirs was the successful 
cause. Both disposition and self-interest urged the Indian to 
take his stand on the winning side. As long as appearances led 
him to believe that this was the American, he would hold aloof 
from the war, since the United States did not desire his assistance. 
In the contrary event both inclination and self-interest would 
lead him to side with the British. 

There were exceptions, of course, to these generalizations. 
Tecumseh's hostility to the Americans was independent of any 
such adventitious circumstances. But with Hull triumphant at 
Maiden the tribes to the west of Lake Michigan would have 
possessed neither the courage nor the inclination to rise against 
the Americans; with the British flag waving over Detroit the 
whole Northwest as far as the Maumee River and the settle- 
ments of southern Indiana and Illinois would, as Hull pointed 
out to the government before the war began, pass under British 
control. 566 

Alarming reports of Indian hostility and depredations came 
to Chicago during the winter of 1812. Early in March Captain 
Heald received news from a Frenchman at Milwaukee of hos- 

" Drennan Papers, Hull to Eustis, March 6, 1812. 



tilities committed by the Winnebagoes on the Mississippi. 567 On 
April 6 a band of marauders who were believed to belong to the 
same tribe made a descent upon Chicago. 568 Shortly before 
sunset eleven Indians appeared at the farm of Russell and Lee 
some three or four miles from the fort up the South Branch. 
Lee is said to have settled at Chicago about the year 1805, hav- 
ing received the contract to supply the garrison with provisions. 569 
He lived with his family a short distance southwest of the fort, 
and carried on his farming operations at the place on the South 
Branch which was later known as Hardscrabble. Russell was 
evidently the partner of Lee, but aside from this fact nothing is 
known about him. The farm was under the immediate super- 
intendence of an American named Liberty White, who had lived 
at Chicago for some time. 570 At the time of the descent of the 
marauding war party there were three other persons, in addition 
to White, at the farm house, a soldier of the garrison named John 
Kelso, 571 a boy whose name no one has taken the trouble to 
record, and a Canadian Frenchman, John B. Cardin, who had 
but recently come to Chicago. 

Soon after the arrival of the visitors Kelso and the boy, not 
liking the aspect of affairs, "cleared out" for the fort. White 
and Cardin, less apprehensive of a hostile disposition on the part 
of the Indians, remained and were shortly murdered. The 
former was "shockingly butchered." He was tomahawked and 

*' American State Papers, Indian Ajjairs, I, 806. 

5" Short reports of the attack by Matthew Irwin and by Captain Heald are printed in 
Wentworth, Early Chicago, 40-50. Longer and more valuable accounts are contained in the 
letters of Heald and John La Lime to Captain William Wells, dated April 15 and 13 respec- 
tively, printed in the Louisiana Gazette for May 30, 1812. I have made use of the copies of 
these letters made by Lyman C. Draper, in the Draper Collection, S, Vol. XXVI. The best 
known account is Mrs. Kinzie's narrative in Wau Bun, 155-60, but its statements require 

* 6 ' Statement of William R. Head in his Annals of Chicago, MS owned by his widow. 
I have not been able to verify it. 

i7o Wau Bun, 157. That his first name was Liberty is stated by Heald. That he 
had lived at Chicago for some time is evident from the occurrence of his name in Kinzie's 
account books. 

" La Lime's letter to Wells, as printed in the Louisiana Gazette, May 30, 1812, gives 
the name of John Kelson. From the similarity of names I infer that the man was John 
Kelso, a private in Heald's company. 


scalped, his face was mutilated and his throat cut from ear to 
ear, and he received two balls through his body and ten knife 
stabs in his breast and hip. It was with reason that Heald 
declared him to be "the most horrible object I ever beheld in my 
life." Cardin was shot through the neck and scalped, but his 
body was not otherwise mutilated. It was Heald's belief that 
the Indians "spared him a little" out of consideration for his 

Following the murder of White and Cardin, the garrison and 
the civilian residents of Chicago endured for some time what may 
fairly be described as a state of siege. 572 The murderers were 
supposed to belong to the Winnebago tribe, but the efforts of the 
commander to learn from the neighboring Indians whether the 
supposition was correct were in vain. Accordingly he forbade 
the Indians to come to the place until he should learn to what 
nation the murderers belonged. Kinzie moved his family into 
the fort, and all of the other residents of the place outside the 
garrison fortified themselves in the house formerly occupied by 
Jouett, the Indian agent. Those able to bear arms, fifteen in all, 
were organized by Heald into a militia company and furnished 
with arms and ammunition from the garrison store. 573 Parties of 
savages lurked around, and the whites were forced to keep close 
to the fort to avoid the danger of losing their scalps. A few days 
after the murders three of the militia, two half-breeds and a 
Frenchman, deserted, thus reducing the membership of the com- 
pany to twelve, the number present at the time of the massacre. 
The deserters were believed to have gone in the direction of 
"Millewakii," taking ten or a dozen horses with them. 

On May i Francis Keneaum, a British subject who lived at 
Maiden, reached Chicago attended by two Chippewa Indians, 
en route for Green Bay. 574 The party was arrested on suspicion 
that Keneaum was a British emissary, and he subsequently made 

571 The narrative at this point is based on the letters of La Lime and Heald to Captain 
Wells, April 13 and 15, 1812. 

5" Letter of Heald to Captain Wells, April 15, 1812; letter of Sergeant William 
Griffith to Heald, June 13, 1820, Draper Collection, U, VIII, 88. 

"< Edwards, Life of Ninian Edwards, 324. 


an affidavit showing that he had been engaged by the brother-in- 
law of Matthew Elliot, the British Indian agent, to go on a secret 
mission to Robert Dickson, the most active and influential British 
emissary among the tribes west of Lake Michigan. The Indians 
had taken the precaution to conceal the letters intrusted to them 
in their moccasins and to bury them. 575 After their release from 
detention they proceeded on their way and delivered them to 
Dickson, who was passing the winter at the Fox- Wisconsin 
Portage. The message which Captain Heald thus failed to inter- 
cept was from no less a person than General Brock, who was 
seeking to establish communication with Dickson; and it was 
due to the communication thus established that Dickson led his 
northwestern bands to St. Joseph's to co-operate in the attack on 
Mackinac, and in that descent upon Detroit which had such a 
fatal effect upon Hull's campaign. 576 

We have seen already 577 how that campaign progressed to its 
disastrous close, and that on its issue hung the fate of Fort 
Dearborn and the Northwest. With so much of importance in 
the immediate vicinity of Detroit to demand his attention, Hull 
had little time or thought to devote to the remote posts at 
Mackinac and Chicago. News of the declaration of war was 
received at Fort Dearborn toward the middle of July. 578 The 
tradition was current at Chicago long afterward that the news 
was brought by Pierre Le Claire, a half-breed who figured in the 
negotiations for the surrender of the garrison on the day of the 
massacre, who walked from the mouth of the St. Joseph River to 
Fort Dearborn, a distance of ninety miles, in a single day. 579 

On July 14 Hull wrote to Eustis, the Secretary of War, that 
he would cause the brig, " Adams," which had been launched ten 
days before, to be completed and armed as soon as possible for 

* Edwards, Life of Ninian Edwards, 333. 

" This conclusion is based on the letters, in addition to those already cited, of Captain 
Glegg to Dickson printed in Michigan Pioneer Collections, XV, 180-82, 193-95, and the com- 
munications between Glegg and Dickson printed in Wisconsin Historical Collections, XII, 

5" Supra, chap. ix. 

"' Lieutenant Helm's narrative of the massacre says July 10. 

s7Hubbard, Life, 126-27. 


the purpose of supplying the posts of Mackinac and Fort Dear- 
born with the necessary stores and provisions, if they could be 
obtained at Detroit. 580 Exactly two weeks later, however, two 
Chippewa Indians reached Hull's camp at Sandwich bringing 
news of the surrender of Mackinac. The report seemed so 
improbable that at first Hull refused to believe it, but close ques- 
tioning brought forth so many circumstantial details as to remove 
his doubt. On the same day, July 29, he wrote to the Secretary 
of War, "I shall immediately send an express to Fort Dearborn 
with orders to evacuate that post and retreat to this place or 
Fort Wayne, provided it can be effected with a greater prospect 
of safety than to remain. Captain Heald is a judicious officer, 
and I shall confide much to his discretion." 581 

With the evacuation impending, we come upon some of the 
most important questions in the history of Fort Dearborn. The 
nature of Hull's order for the evacuation, the demeanor of the 
savages around the fort immediately prior to the evacuation, the 
relations subsisting between Captain Heald and the officers and 
men under his control, the degree of sanity and sense displayed 
by the commander in dealing with the difficult situation which 
confronted him all these things require careful consideration. 
In the accounts of the massacre that have been written hitherto, 
these matters have commonly been presented in such a way as to 
place the responsibility for the tragedy solely on Captain Heald's 
shoulders, and to represent his administration of affairs as stupid 
and incompetent to the verge of imbecility. But there is abun- 
dant reason for suspecting that these accounts, which all proceed, 
directly or indirectly from a common source, do Heald grave 
injustice. 582 If an examination of the available sources of 
information confirms this suspicion it is quite time, a century 
after the massacre, to correct the popular impression of the affair 
and do belated justice to the leader of civilization's forlorn hope 
on that day of savage triumph. 

Drennan Papers, Hull to Eustis, July 14 and 19, 1812. 
*" Ibid., Hull to Eustis, July 29, 1812. 
*** See, on this point, Appendix II. 


Hull's letter to Eustis of July 29 expressed an intention to 
confide much to Heald's discretion in the matter of the evacua- 
tion. But his letter to Heald, although written on the same 
day, does not fulfil this intention. The order to evacuate was 
positive, 583 and the reason assigned for this step was a want of 
provisions. Heald was also peremptorily enjoined to destroy the 
arms and ammunition. The only thing confided to his discretion 
was the disposition of the goods of the government factory, 
which he was authorized to give to the friendly Indians, and to 
the poor and needy of the settlement. 

Unfortunately for Captain Heald's reputation with posterity, 
the evacuation order was lost to sight for almost a century. 
Lieutenant Helm's labored account of the massacre, written in 
1814, states that the order to Heald was "to Evacuate the Post 
of Fort Dearborne by the route of Detroit or Fort Wayne if 
Practicable." 584 Helm's narrative, like the evacuation order, was 
unknown to the public for almost a century; his version of Hull's 
order, however, was preserved in the form of tradition in the 
family of Kinzie, the trader, to which Mrs. Helm belonged, and 
thus after the lapse of a third of a century it appeared in print in 
Mrs. Juliette Kinzie's account of the massacre 585 which was after- 
ward incorporated in her book, Wau Bun. 

* Lost to the world for almost a century, Hull's order was brought to light a few years 
since among the Heald papers in the Draper Collection at Madison, Wisconsin. It was first 
published by the author in " Some Notes on the Fort Dearborn Massacre," in the Mississippi 
Valley Historical Association, Proceedings for 1910-11, 138. The order reads as follows: 

SANDWICH July zpth 1812 
Capt. Nat. Heald. 

Sir: It is with regret I order the Evacuation of your Post owing to the want of Provisions only 
a neglect of the Commandant of [word illegible-possibly Detroit]. 

You will therefore Destroy all arms & ammunition, but the Goods of the Factory you may give 
to the Friendly Indians who may be desirous of Escorting you on to Fort Wayne & to the Poor & 
needy of your Post. I am informed this day that Makinac & the Island of St. Joseph will be Evacu- 
ated on acct of the scarcity of Provision & I hope in my next to give you an acct. of the Surrender 
of the British at Maiden as I Expect 600 men here by the beginning of Sept. 

I am Sir 
Yours &c 

Brigadier Gen. Hull. 
Addressed; Capt. Nathan Heald, Commander Fort Dearborn by Express. 

' Appendix VI. 

s5 According to Mrs. Kinzie the order was "to evacuate the fort, if practicable, and in 
that event, to distribute all the United States' property contained in the fort, and in the 
United States' factory or agency, among the Indians in the neighborhood." Wau Bun, 162. 

<n^ ^t^c^%^x-A^- ^*fn- ^ 


(By courtesy of the Wisconsin State Historical Society) 


The evacuation order closed with the expression by Hull of 
the hope, destined never to be realized, of being able to announce 
in his next communication the surrender of the British at Maiden. 
Instead of this, on August 8 he abandoned Sandwich and re- 
crossed the river to Detroit. The next day the Indian runner, 
Winnemac, delivered to Captain Heald at Fort Dearborn his 
order for the evacuation. 586 Hull also sent word of the intended 
evacuation to Fort Wayne, ordering the officers there to co- 
operate in the movement by rendering Captain Heald any infor- 
mation and assistance in their power. 587 In consequence of this 
Captain William Wells, the famous Indian scout, set out for 
Fort Dearborn at the head of thirty Miami warriors to assist in 
covering Heald's retreat. 

The days following the ninth of August were, we may well 
believe, filled with care and busy preparation for Captain Heald 
and all the white people in and around Fort Dearborn. Their 
situation in the heart of the wilderness was an appalling one, 
well calculated to tax the judgment and abilities of Heald, on 
whose wisdom and energy the fate of all depended, to the utmost. 
Apparently Kinzie sought to dissuade Heald from obeying Hull's 
order to evacuate. There must be powerful reasons to justify 
him in taking this step, yet if sufficiently convincing ones 
pertaining to the safety of the garrison existed, it is clear that 
Heald should have assumed the responsibility on the ground that 
the order had been issued in ignorance of the facts of the situation 
confronting the Fort Dearborn garrison. 

There were several reasons to be urged against an evacuation. 
The fort was well situated for defense. With the garrison at 
hand it could probably be held indefinitely against an attack by 
Indians alone, providing the supply of ammunition and pro- 
visions held out. The surrounding Indians outnumbered the 
garrison ten to one, it is true, but success against such odds when 
the whites were sheltered behind a suitable stockade was not 

Heald's Journal, Appendix III; his report of the massacre, Appendix IV; Lieu- 
tenant Helm's narrative of the massacre, Appendix VI. 

*" Heald's report, Appendix IV; Brice, History of Fort Wayne, 206. 


unusual in the annals of border warfare. The red man possessed 
little taste for besieging a fortified place, and if the first assault 
were beaten off, his lack both of artillery and of resolution to 
persevere in such a contest rendered his success improbable, 
unless the odds were overwhelmingly in his favor, or the pro- 
visions of the besieged gave out. Moreover, whatever the odds 
might be at Fort Dearborn, the probability of making a success- 
ful defense behind the walls of the stockade was immeasurably 
greater than it would be in the open country. Both Governor 
Edwards of Illinois and Harrison of Indiana were vigorous 
executives, and if the fort were held, relief might reasonably 
be expected before long from the militia which was then be- 
ing collected in southern Illinois and Indiana, or even from 

The situation was complicated, too, by the private interests 
at stake. Evacuation would mean financial ruin to Kinzie, the 
trader, and Lee, the farmer. These considerations Heald 
properly ignored of course. But the danger to the families of the 
soldiers and of the civilians clustered around the fort was greater 
and more appalling than to the garrison itself. There could be 
no thought of abandoning these helpless souls, yet the attempt to 
convey them away with the garrison would render the retreat 
exceedingly slow and cumbersome. Kinzie at Chicago and 
Forsyth at Peoria were well known and esteemed by the resi- 
dent natives, and many of these were well disposed toward the 
Americans; the hostile bands might be expected to disperse after 
a period of unsuccessful siege, and the property of the settlers and 
the lives of the garrison would be saved. 

On the other hand, most of these things were as familiar to 
Hull as to Heald himself. Practically the only feature of Heald's 
situation about which Hull's knowledge might be presumed to be 
deficient was that concerning the number and demeanor of the 
Indians around Fort Dearborn. But in the provision of his order 
authorizing Heald to distribute the goods of the factory "to the 
Friendly Indians who may be desirous of escorting you on to 


Fort Wayne " was a clear indication of the commanding general's 
will in case this contingency should be realized. Obedience to 
orders is the primary duty of a soldier. He may not refrain from 
executing the order of his superior, however ill advised it may 
appear to him, unless it is evident that it was issued under a 
misapprehension of the facts of the situation, and that the com- 
mander himself, if aware of these facts, would revoke it. The 
truth of this proposition is so obvious that it would scarcely be 
worth while to state it, were it not for the fact that there has been 
a practically unanimous chorus of condemnation of Captain 
Heald on the part of those who have hitherto written of the Fort 
Dearborn massacre because he acted in accordance with it and 
obeyed his superior's order. Heald's own view of his duty is 
clear, both from the course he followed and from the narratives of 
himself and of his detractors. The latter shows that he paid no 
attention to the protests against the evacuation made by Kinzie 
and such others as the trader was able to influence; while in his 
own official report of the massacre Heald does not even discuss 
the question of holding the fort or of his reason for evacuating it, 
further than to recite the order received from Hull to do so. 

The time until the thirteenth of August was doubtless spent 
in preparation for the wilderness journey, though actual details 
are for the most part wanting. Some slight indication of the 
commander's labors is afforded by an affidavit he made in 1817 
in behalf of Kinzie and Forsyth's claims against the government 
for compensation for the losses sustained by them in the massacre. 
In this Heald stated that, being ordered to evacuate Fort Dear- 
born and march the troops to Fort Wayne, he employed sundry 
horses and mules, with saddles, bridles, and other equipment, the 
property of Kinzie and Forsyth, to transport provisions and other 
necessities for the troops. 588 On August 13 Captain Wells arrived 
from Fort Wayne with his thirty Miami warriors to act as an 
additional escort for the troops in their retreat. Probably on 
this day a council was held with the Indians at which Heald 

i Affidavit of December 2, 1817, Draper Collection, Forsyth Papers, Vol. I. 


announced his intention to distribute the goods among them 
and evacuate the fort, and stipulated for their protection upon 
his retreat. 589 On the fourteenth the goods in the factory were 
delivered to the Indians, together with a considerable quantity 
of provisions which could not be taken along on the retreat. 
The stock of liquor was destroyed, however, as were also the 
surplus arms and ammunition. The one was calculated to fire 
the red man to deeds of madness, while for the whites to give him 
the other would have been to furnish him with the means for 
their own destruction. 

To the resentment kindled among the Indians by the destruc- 
tion of these stores the immediate cause of the attack and 
massacre on the following day has often been ascribed. That 
the disappointment of the red man was keen is self-evident. Yet 
that but for the destruction of the powder and whisky there 
would have been no attack on the garrison seems most improb- 
able. Heald stated under oath several years later that prior to 
the evacuation the Indians had made "much application" to him 
for ammunition, and expressed the opinion that but for the 
destruction which took place not a soul among the whites would 
have escaped the tomahawk. 590 

All was now ready for the departure, which was to take place 
on the morning of the fifteenth. At this juncture there came to 
the commander a belated warning. Black Partridge, a Potta- 
watomie chief from the Illinois River, came to him with the 
significant message that "linden birds" had been singing in 
his ears and they ought to be careful on the march they were 
about to make. At the same time he surrendered his medal, 

' Heald's report does not mention the holding of a council; Helm's narrative repre- 
sents that Wells held the council with the Indians. This is probably correct as to the main 
fact that a council was held, but untrue in representing Wells, rather than Heald, as the prin- 
cipal participant in it on the part of the whites. A few months after the massacre the 
Superintendent of Indian Trade was initiating measures for recovering from the War Depart- 
ment indemnity for the goods of the Chicago factory destroyed at the time of the massacre 
on the ground that they were delivered by Heald to the Indians "under a kind of treaty" 
between the two (Indian Office, Letter Book C, Mason to Matthew Irwin, February 9, 1813). 

s Affidavit of December 2, 1817, Draper Collection, Forsyth Papers, Vol. I. 


explaining that the young warriors were bent on mischief and 
probably could not be restrained. 591 

It was now too late to withdraw from the plan of evacuating 
the fort, even if the commander had desired to do so. The next 
morning dawned warm and cloudless. Inside the stockade the 
last preparations for the toilsome journey had been made. No 
chronicler was present to preserve a record of the final scenes, 
but the imagination can find little difficulty in picturing them. 
With all its rudeness and privation, the Chicago they were leaving 
was home to the members of the little party for some the only 
one they had ever known. Here the Lees had lived for half a 
dozen years; here their children had been born, and had passed 
their happy childhood. Here the Kinzies had lived for an even 
longer time, and had long since attained a relative degree of 
prosperity. Here the soldiers had hunted and skated and fished, 
and gone through their monotonous routine duties until they had 
become second nature to them. Here the talented young Van 
Voorhis had dreamed dreams and seen visions of the teeming mil- 
lions that were to compose the busy civilization of this region in 
the distant future. Hither in the spring of 1811 the commander 
had brought his beautiful Kentucky bride, the niece of Captain 
Wells; here, true to her ancestry, she had fallen in love with the 
wilderness life; and here, three months before, her life had been 
darkened by its first great tragedy, the loss of her first-born son, 
"born dead for the want of a skilful Midwife." We may not know 
the thoughts or forebodings that filled the mind of each member 
of the little wilderness caravan, but doubtless home was as dear, 
and anxiety for the future as keen, to the humbler members of 
the party as to any of those whose names are better known. 

Without, in the marshes and prairies and woods that stretched 
away from the fort to south and west and north, the representa- 

> There are two contemporary versions of this incident; one is contained in Lieutenant 
Helm's narrative of the massacre, the other in McAfee's History of the Late War, 98. 
McAfee's informant was Sergeant Griffith of Heald's company. Both of the accounts are 
very brief. They agree in the main fact that Black Partridge gave the warning to the inter- 
preter, but Helm alone mentions the surrender of the medal. 


tives of arfother race were encamped. Several hundred red 
warriors, many of them accompanied by their squaws and 
children, had gathered about the doomed garrison. For them, 
doubtless, the preceding days had been filled with eager debate 
and anticipation. The former had concerned the momentous 
question whether to heed the advice of the Americans to remain 
neutral in the war between the white nations, or whether to 
follow their natural inclination to raise the hatchet against the 
hated Long Knives and in behalf of their former Great Father. 
The latter had hinged about the visions of wealth hitherto 
undreamed of to flow from the distribution of the white man's 
stores among them; or about the prospect, equally pleasing to 
the majority, of taking sweet if belated revenge for the long train 
of disasters and indignities they had suffered at the hands of the 
hated race by the slaughter of its representatives gathered here 
within their grasp. As day by day the runners came from the 
Detroit frontier with news of the ebbing of lull's fortunes and 
with appeals from Tecumseh to strike a blow for their race, the 
peace party among them dwindled, doubtless, as did the hope of 
Hull's army. Now, at the critical moment, on the eve of the 
evacuation when, if ever, the blow must be struck, had come a 
final message from Tecumseh with news of Hull's retreat to 
Detroit and of the decisive victory of August 4 over a portion of 
his troops at Brownstown. With this the die was cast, and the 
fate of the garrison sealed. The war bands could no longer be 
restrained by the friendly chiefs, to whom was left the role of 
watching what they could not prevent and saving such of their 
friends as they might from destruction. 

And now the stage is set for Chicago's grimmest tragedy. 
Before us are the figures of her early days. Let us pause a 
moment to take note of some of the actors before the curtain is 
lifted for the drama. John Kinzie, the trader, vigorous and 
forceful and shrewd, with more at stake financially than anyone 
else in the company, but, of vastly greater importance, with a 
surer means of protection for the lives of himself and family 
in the friendship of the Indians. Chandonnai, the half-breed, 


staunch friend of the Americans, whom all authorities unite in 
crediting with noble exertions to save the prisoners. The 
friendly Pottawatomie chiefs, Alexander Robinson, who was to 
pilot the Healds to safety at Mackinac, and Black Partridge, who 
had warned Captain Heald of the impending attack, and who 
soon would save the life of Mrs. Helm. Among the hostile 
leaders were Black Bird, probably the son of the chief who had 
assisted the Americans in plundering St. Joseph in 1781; and 
Nuscotnemeg, or the Mad Sturgeon, already guilty of many 
murders committed against the whites. 592 There were, of course, 
many other chiefs of greater or less degree and reputation. 
Then there were the officers and their wives. Heald, the com- 
mander, old in experience and responsibility if not in years; his 
beautiful and spirited young wife, whose charm could stay the 
descent of the deadly tomahawk, and whose bravery extort the 
admiration of even her savage captors; Lieutenant Helm and his 
young wife, who preferred to meet the impending danger by the 
side of her husband. Of the younger men, Van Voorhis and 
Ronan, the former has left of himself a winning picture, sketched 
in a letter a fragment of which has been preserved ; 593 the latter is 
painted in the only description we have of him, in the pages of 
Wau Bun, as brave and spirited, but rash and overbearing and 
lacking a due sense of respect for his superiors in age and respon- 
sibility. These faults of youth, if in fact they existed, were soon 
to be atoned by the bravery with which he met his fate, fighting 
desperately to the end. 

Sadder, however, than any of these was the situation of some 
of the humbler members of the party. That a soldier and officer 
should face death with composure was to be expected; that a 
soldier's wife should brave danger by his side was not an unknown 
thing in the annals of the frontier. But the officers' wives were 
mounted, and whatever might happen on the weary march; they 
were certain to receive the best care and attention the resources 
of the company could afford. There were, too, in their case no 

" Wisconsin Historical Collections, XI, 320; Washburne, Edwards Papers, 57. 
For it see pp. 196, 387. 


children for whom to provide or worry. But what of the state 
of mind of those members of the Chicago "militia," who in addi- 
tion to abandoning their homes were burdened with wives and 
children, and with inadequate means of providing for them ? 
What of Mrs. Burns and Mrs. Simmons with their babes of a few 
months and the hardships of the march before them ? What of 
the other mothers' forebodings for their loved ones ? What of 
the wife of Fielding Corbin, with the pangs of approaching 
maternity upon her and the prospect of the dreary journey before 
her ? Perhaps it was a mercy a period was so soon to be put to 
her trials. Finally, what of the innocent babies whose bright 
eyes were looking out, doubtless, in uncomprehending wonder, 
upon the unwonted scene of bustle and excitement around 

With them but not of them was William Wells, the famous 
frontier scout, the true history of whose life surpasses fiction. 594 
Member of a prominent Kentucky family, the brother of Colonel 
Samuel Wells of Louisville, he was kidnaped at an early age by 
the Indians and adopted into the family of Little Turtle, the 
noted Miami chieftain. He became a noted warrior and fought 
by the side of his red brothers in the campaigns of 1790 and 1791, 
when they defeated the armies of Harmar and St. Clair. After- 
ward, whether because of a belated consciousness of his true race 
identity or of the solicitations of his white relatives and the 
pleading of his beautiful niece, Rebekah Wells, he threw in his lot 
with the whites. His fame as a scout and fighter soon became as 
great among them as it had formerly been with the Indians. He 
was a perfect master of woodcraft and of the Indian mode of 
warfare, and as head of a special force of scouts he rendered 
most efficient service in Wayne's campaign. 

Perhaps the most notable tribute to his character is the fact 
that despite this change of allegiance he continued to retain the 

s< On the career of Wells see Kirkland, Chicago Massacre, 173-78; Roosevelt, Winning 
of the West, IV, 79 ff.; Wentworth, Early Chicago, 45-46, 56-57; speech of Little Turtle in 
American State Papers, Indian Affairs, I, 583; letter of Governor Harrison to the War 
Department, October 3, 1809, MS copy in Chicago Historical Society library. 


esteem of his former associates; and that in this period of fierce 
rivalry between the two races he enjoyed at one and the same 
time the esteem and confidence of such men as Little Turtle on 
the one side and Anthony Wayne and William Henry Harrison 
on the other. At the conclusion of the Treaty of Greenville 
Little Turtle made a speech on behalf of the Indians, expressing 
his satisfaction with it; in the course of which, adverting to the 
subject of the traders, he especially requested that Wells be 
stationed by the government at Fort Wayne as resident inter- 
preter, saying that he possessed the confidence of the Indians as 
fully as he did that of the whites. Fort Wayne remained his 
place of residence for the remainder of his life and during most of 
the time he was serving in the government Indian Department. 
In 1807 Nathan Heald came to Fort Wayne as commander of 
the post, and here met and wooed Rebekah, the daughter of 
Samuel, and favorite niece of William Wells. Now at the 
summons of love and duty, heedless of the danger to himself, the 
latter had hastened with his friendly Miamis from Fort Wayne to 
rescue her and assist in the retreat of the garrison. He alone of 
all the company, therefore, was present from choice rather than 
from necessity. His arrival at Fort Dearborn on the thirteenth 
must have afforded the only ray of cheer and hope which came to 
the settlement in this time of trial and danger. 

All preparations being complete, about nine o'clock the 
stockade gate was thrown open and there issued forth the saddest 
procession Michigan Avenue has ever known. 595 In the lead 
were a part of the Miamis, and Wells, their leader, alert and 
watching keenly for the first signs of a hostile demonstration. 
In due array followed the garrison, the women and children who 
were able to walk, and the Chicago militia, the rear being brought 
up by the remainder of the Miamis. Most of the children, being 
too young to walk, rode in one of the wagons, accompanied, 

ss The account of the battle and the massacre which follows is the result of a study of 
all the known available sources of information. Since Appendix II is devoted to a con- 
sideration of the principal sources of our knowledge of the massacre, I have deemed it 
unnecessary to cite my authority in each instance for the statements made here. 


probably, by one or more of the women. Mrs. Heald and Mrs. 
Helm were mounted and near or with their husbands, though 
each couple became separated early in the combat. The other 
women and children were on foot around the baggage wagons, 
which were guarded by Ensign Ronan, Surgeon Van Voorhis, the 
soldiers who had families, and the twelve Chicago militia. 

The route taken was due south, parallel with the river until 
its mouth was reached and then along the beach, not far, prob- 
ably, from the present Michigan Avenue, for most of the land to 
the east has been filled in since the beginning of modern Chicago. 
On the right of the column moved an escort of Pottawatomies. 
Below the mouth of the river began a row of sand hills, or ridges, 
which ran between the prairie and the beach, parallel to the latter 
and distant from it about one hundred yards. When these were 
reached the soldiers continued along the beach, while the 
Pottawatomies disappeared behind the ridges to the right. The 
reason for this soon became apparent. When a distance of 
about a mile and a half had been traversed by the soldiers Captain 
Wells, who with his militia was some distance in advance, dis- 
covered that the Indians had prepared an ambush for the whites 
and were about to attack them from their vantage point behind 
the bank. Aware of a favorable position for defense a short 
distance ahead, he rode rapidly back toward the main body to 
urge Heald to press forward and occupy it, swinging his hat in a 
circle around his head as he went, as a signal that the party was 
surrounded. The heads of the warriors now became visible all 
along the line, popping up "like turtles out of the water." The 
troops immediately charged up the bank, and with a single volley 
followed home with a bayonet charge scattered the Indians before 
them. But this move proved as futile as it was brave. The 
Indians gave way in front only to join their fellows in another 
place, on the flank or in the rear, and the fight went on. 

Meanwhile a deadlier combat, which we may perhaps think 
of as a separate battle, was raging around the wagons in the rear. 
Here it was that the real massacre occurred. Apparently in the 


charge up the sand hills and in the ensuing movements the main 
division of the regulars under Heald became separated from the 
rear division, and yet it was precisely here, where the provisions 
and the helpless women and children were placed, that protection 
was most urgently needed. The Indians, outnumbering the 
whites almost ten to one, swarmed around, some, apparently, 
even coming from the front to share in the easier contest at this 
point. Here were the junior officers, Ronan and Van Voorhis, 
and here, apparently, Kinzie had elected to stay. Around the 
wagons too were the militia, twelve in number, comprising the 
male inhabitants of the settlement capable of bearing arms, who 
had been organized and armed by Heald at the time of the April 
murders. The combat here was furious, being waged hand to 
hand in an indiscriminate melee. Fighting desperately with 
bayonet and musket-butt the militia were cut down to a man. 
But one, Sergeant Burns, escaped instant death, and he, griev- 
ously wounded, was slaughtered an hour after the surrender by 
an infuriated squaw. Ronan and Van Voorhis shared their fate 
as did the regular soldiers, Kinzie being the only white man at 
the wagons who survived. Even the soldiers' wives, armed with 
swords, hacked bravely away as long as they were able. In the 
course of the melee two of the women and most of the children 
were slain. 

The butchery of these unfortunate innocents constitutes the 
saddest feature of that gory day. The measure which had been 
taken to insure their welfare was responsible for their destruction; 
for while the conflict raged hotly, a young fiend broke through 
the defenders of the wagons and climbing into the one containing 
the children quickly tomahawked all but one of them. Of the 
women slain one was Mrs. Corbin, the wife of a private soldier, 
who is said to have resolved never to be taken prisoner, dreading 
more than death the indignities she believed would be in store for 
her. Accordingly she fought until she was cut to pieces. The 
other was Cicely, Mrs. Heald's negro serving-woman. She and 
her infant son, who also perished, afford two of the few instances 


of which we have authentic record of negroes being held in 
slavery at Chicago. 596 

While this slaughter was going on at the wagons Captain 
Wells, who had been fighting in front with the main body of 
troops, seems to have started back to the scene to engage in a last 
effort to save the women and children. His horse was wounded 
and he himself was shot through the breast. He bade his niece 
farewell, when his horse fell, throwing him prostrate on the 
ground with one leg caught under its side. Some Indians 
approaching, he continued to fire at them, killing one or more 
from his prostrate position. An Indian now took aim at him, 
seeing which Wells signed to him to shoot, and his stormy career 
was ended. The foe paid their sincerest tribute of respect to his 
bravery by cutting out his heart and eating it, thinking thus to 
imbibe the qualities of its owner in life. Wells was the real hero 
of the Chicago massacre, giving his life voluntarily to save his 
friends. The debt which Chicago owes to his memory an earlier 
generation sought to discharge by giving his name to one of the 
city's principal streets. But to its shame a later one robbed him 
in large part of this honor, by giving to that portion of the street 
which runs south of the river the inappropriate and meaningless 
designation of Fifth Avenue. 

The close of another brave career was dramatic enough to 
deserve separate mention. During the battle Sergeant Hayes, 
who had already manifested the greatest bravery, engaged in 

The printed sources of information concerning Cicely and her child are Darius 
Heald's narrative of the massacre in Magazine of American History, XXVIII, 1 1 1 ff ., and the 
Heald petition to the Court of Claims for compensation for property lost in the massacre, in 
Chicago Tribune, December 8, 1883. The author has a memorandum prepared by Mrs. 
Heald for the guidance of her son, Darius, on the occasion of his visit to Chicago in 1855 
for the purpose of procuring testimony in support of the claim for compensation for the 
Heald property lost in the massacre. It contains the following allusions to Cicely and her 
son: "John Kinzie at Chicago .... he knew the negro girl Cicely. He came to buy the 
negro girl offered me $600. he probably knows about the horses three in number. He 
knows about the negro woman being killed and also her male infant killed in the battle by 

the Indians Mrs. Baubee [Beaubien] Knew Capt. Heald and his wife and 

the negroes and horses which they had in possession at the time of the defeat, knows of the 

killing of the negroes Mrs. Helium [Helm] Get these two Ladies to relate 

all their knowledge as regards the loss of the two slaves the horses and other personal 
property in their possession " 


individual combat with an Indian. The guns of both had been 
discharged, when the Indian ran up to him with uplifted toma- 
hawk. Before the warrior could strike Hayes ran his bayonet 
into his breast up to the socket, so that he could not pull it out. 
In this situation, supported by the bayonet, the Indian toma- 
hawked him, and the foemen fell dead together, the bayonet still 
in the red man's breast. 597 

Meanwhile what of Captain Heald and the troops under his 
immediate direction ? The Miamis had abandoned the Ameri- 
cans at the first sign of hostilities. After a few minutes of sharp 
fighting Heald drew off with such of his men as still survived to a 
slight elevation on the open prairie, out of shot of the bank or 
any other cover. Here he enjoyed a temporary respite, for the 
Indians refrained from following him, having no desire, appar- 
ently, to grapple with the regulars at close range in the open. 
The fight thus far had lasted only about fifteen minutes, yet half 
of the regulars had fallen, Wells and two of the officers were dead 
and the other two wounded, and the Americans were hopelessly 
beaten. The alternatives before them were to die fighting to the 
last, or to surrender and trust to the savages for mercy. After 
some delay the Indians sent a half-breed interpreter, who lived 
near the fort and was friendly with the garrison, and who in the 
commencement of the action had gone over to the Indians in the 
hope of saving his life, to make overtures for a surrender. Heald 
advanced alone toward the Ind'ans and was met by the inter- 
preter and the chief, Black Bird, who requested him to surrender, 
promising to spare the lives of the prisoners. The soldiers at first 
opposed the proposition, but after some parleying the surrender 
was made, Captain Heald promising, as a further inducement to 
the Indians to spare the prisoners, a ransom of one hundred 
dollars for every one still living. The captives were now led 
back to the beach and thence along the route toward the fort 
over which they had passed but an hour or so before. On the 
way they passed the scene of the massacre around the wagons. 

"1 Schoolcraft, Narrative Journal of Travels from Detroit . ... to the Sources of the 
Mississippi River in the Year 1820, 392. 


Helm records his horror at the sight of the men, women, and 
children " lying naked with principally all their heads off." In 
passing the bodies he thought he perceived that of his wife, with 
her head severed from her shoulders. The sight almost overcame 
him, and we may readily believe that he "now began to repent" 
that he had ever surrendered. He was happily surprised, how- 
ever, on approaching the fort to find her alive and well, sitting 
crying among some squaws. She owed her preservation to the 
friendly Black Partridge, who had claimed her as his prisoner. 

In the action the white force numbered fifty-five regulars and 
twelve militia in addition to Wells and Kinzie, the latter of whom 
did not participate in the fighting. 598 Against these were pitted 
about five hundred Indians. The white men were better armed, 
but the Indians had the advantage of position and of freedom 
from the incumbrance of baggage and women and children to 
protect. Under the circumstances the odds were overwhelmingly 
in their favor, and their comparatively easy victory was but a 
matter of course. Their loss was estimated by Heald at about 
fifteen. The Americans killed in the action comprised twenty- 
six regular soldiers, the twelve militia 599 and Captain Wells, with 
two of the women and twelve children. A number of the sur- 
vivors, too, were wounded. 

Following the surrender came the customary scenes of 
savage cruelty. The friendly Indians could answer only for the 
prisoners in their possession. Some of the wounded were 
tortured to death, and it is not improbable that some of the 
prisoners were burned at the stake. The more detailed story of 
their fate, along with that of the other survivors of the battle, is 
reserved for the following chapter. For the remainder of the 
day and the ensuing night the victors surfeited themselves with 
the plunder and the torture. The following day the plundering 
of the fort and the distribution of the prisoners were completed, 
the buildings were fired, and the bands set out for their several 

* On the number of the regulars and others engaged in the combat see Appendix IX. 
Including Burns, who was wounded in the action and killed by a squaw about an 
hour afterward. 


villages. The corpses on the lake shore, bloody and mutilated, 
were left to the buzzards and the wolves, and over Chicago 
silence and desolation reigned supreme. In March, 1813, 
Robert Dickson passed through Chicago on a mission to rouse 
the northwestern tribes against the Americans. He reported 600 
that there were two brass cannon, one dismounted, the other on 
wheels but in the river. The powder magazine was in a good 
state of preservation and the houses outside the fort were well 
constructed. He urged the Indians not to destroy them, as the 
British would have occasion to use them if they should find it 
necessary to establish a garrison here. 

Michigan Pioneer Collections, XV, 262. 



Twenty-nine soldiers, seven women, and six children remained 
alive at the close of the battle among the sand dunes to face the 
horrors of captivity among the Indians. These figures do not 
include Kinzie, the trader, and the members of his family, who 
were regarded as neutrals and were not included by the Indians 
in the number of their prisoners. Concerning the fate of some 
of the survivors we have full information, but of others not even 
the names can be given with certainty, and of their fate we can 
speak only in general terms. 

The student of the Fort Dearborn massacre finds himself 
hampered by a notable dearth of official records. This is due hi 
part to the destruction, at the time of the massacre itself, of such 
as existed at Chicago; to an even greater extent, perhaps, to the 
destruction of the records of the War Department at the time of 
the looting of the Capital by the British in 1814. Finally, by a 
departmental ruling promulgated in 1897, the historical inves- 
tigator has in recent years been denied the cold comfort of access 
to such fragmentary records as do in fact exist in the files of the 
War Department. 601 For such official documents as have been 
available for this study, therefore, the writer is indebted to other 
sources. Some of them were copied by earlier investigators in 
the field, before the War Department files were sealed to the 
student, and have been printed in various places. Others have 
been found in manuscripts or in printed works existing outside 
the government archives. 

The last existing muster-roll of the Fort Dearborn garrison 
prior to the massacre has hitherto been supposed to be that for 

' This prohibition was removed in 1912, too late, however, to be of any advantage to 
the author in the preparation of this work. For this reason the statements made have been 
allowed to stand unchanged. 



December, iSio. 602 However, the Heald papers belonging to the 
Wisconsin State Historical Society include the muster-roll for the 
period ending May 31, I&I2. 603 It shows a garrison strength of 
fifty-five men, which was probably the number present at the 
time of the massacre. No list of those slain in the massacre has 
ever been made, nor is there any comprehensive account of the 
names and fate of the survivors. The attempt to construct 
one 604 from the various fragmentary sources of information in 
existence has proved more successful than could perhaps have 
been reasonably anticipated. Yet it reveals certain discrep- 
ancies which cannot be harmonized until additional sources of 
information shall be uncovered. This is not surprising in view 
of the confusion attendant upon the massacre, and the scattering 
far and wide of the survivors following it. The passage of time 
and the absence of records make it impossible at this date to 
check up the errors and fill in the gaps in our information. The 
hardships endured or the adventures encountered by those whose 
experiences have been recorded may have been no greater or 
more noteworthy than by those whose fate is now buried in 
oblivion. Yet the historian must deal with the information he 
can obtain, and this chapter of necessity concerns itself largely 
with a comparatively small number of the survivors whose story 
has been preserved. 

The battle and the massacre proper had barely ended when 
the dreary work of torture began. It had been stipulated by 
Captain Heald that the lives of the prisoners should be spared, 
but this agreement was promptly violated. We cannot speak 
with much assurance of the details of the tortures, but concerning 
the main fact there is no doubt. One man, Burns, who had been 
wounded in the battle, was killed by a squaw about an hour after 
its conclusion. 605 Possibly this is the man whom Mrs. Helm 

Printed in Wentworth, Early Chicago, 88. 

The muster-roll is printed for the first time as Appendix VIII. 

M For it see Appendix IX. 

Letter of Sergeant Griffith to Heald, January 13, 1820, Draper Collection, U, VIII, 
88; Judge Woodward to Proctor, October 7, 1812, Appendix VII. 


refers to as having been stabbed to death with a stable fork in her 
presence. 606 In Judge Woodward's letter to General Proctor 
upon the survivors of the massacre, Burns is spoken of as a 
"citizen," and he is similarly designated in Helm's account of the 
massacre. A letter of Sergeant Griffith to Captain Heald in 
1820 clears up the question of his identity. 607 It shows that he 
was a sergeant in the Chicago militia, enrolled by Heald after the 
murders at the Lee farm in April, 1812. It confirms the fact of 
his death at the hands of his captors after the surrender, and 
incidentally throws a pleasing light upon his character, recalling 
to Heald's mind " the Soldierlike conduct of .... Burns while 
engaged with an unequal force of Savages, and the manner in 
which he was inhumanly murdered (hi your presence) after he 
was a prisoner." The Wau Bun narrative represents the Burns 
family as living at the time of the massacre on the north bank of 
the river some distance above the Kinzie house. 608 Apparently 
Burns was a discharged soldier who had made Chicago his per- 
manent home, for the Fort Dearborn muster-roll for November, 
1 8 10, shows that he was then a member of the garrison and that 
his term of enlistment would expire in June, 1811. 

The various accounts generally agree that a number of the 
prisoners were put to death during the night following the 
massacre. Judge Woodward's letter to Proctor, which, written 
October 7, 1812, and based on information given by Heald and 
Sergeant Griffith, is the most reliable source of information on 
this particular point, states that five soldiers were known to have 
been put to death at this time. The Wau Bun narrative, 
written many years later, makes the same statement. The 
Darius Heald narrative states that the Indians were believed to 
have gone off down the lake shore on the evening of the massacre 
day to have a "general frolic," torturing the wounded soldiers. 
Woodward gives the names of two of these victims, Richard 
Garner and James Latta, both private soldiers. By a process of 
comparison of all the sources concerning those who perished in 

6o Kinzie, Wau Bun, 176. 

'' Cited supra, note 605. ' Kinzie, Wau Bun, 155, 159. 


captivity we get the names of the other three, Micajah Denison, 
John Fury, and Thomas Poindexter. 609 But one account at- 
tempts to tell us how they died, and this, of more than dubious 
validity, suggests rather than describes their fate. A half-breed 
Frenchwoman, who had remained in her hut on the north side of 
the river during the battle and massacre, made her way after its 
conclusion to a point opposite the Indian village north of the fort. 
Here she could see the "torture ground" where the squaws had 
three men, and the warriors one white woman, undergoing the 
most fearful torture and indignities, "such as she had never 
heard of in Canada." 610 Perhaps after all it is just as well that 
we have no more detailed description. The fate of the victims 
was no more awful than that customarily meted out to the van- 
quished white man in the course of his contest with the red man 
for the possession of this continent and it is better that the gory 
details should sink into oblivion. 

On the day after the massacre, the fort having been burned 
and the plunder and the prisoners divided, the bands began to 
scatter to their various homes. The dreary story of the hard- 
ships endured by the captives and the indignities and cruelties 
meted out to them by their masters is relieved, happily, now and 
then by some act of kindness or generosity calculated to prove 
that gentleness and humanity were qualities not entirely un- 
known, even to the savage red man. Ultimately the majority 
of the prisoners were to find their way back to civilization, but 
for several death offered the only avenue of escape from their 
captivity. For some, indeed, death must have come as a wel- 
come relief from sufferings far more dreadful. 

Such must have been the case with Mrs. Needs, the wife of 
one of the soldiers. Her husband, her child, and herself all sur- 
vived the massacre, only to die in captivity. The husband died 
in January, 1813; the brief record left us contains no indication 
of the cause of his death. 6 " Annoyed by the crying which 

' For the way in which these names are determined see Appendix IX. 
io Head Papers, in Chicago Historical Society library. 
<"' Niles' Register, June 4 1814. 


hunger forced from the child, the savages tied it to a tree to 
perish of starvation or to become the prey of some wild beast. 
Still later the wretched mother perished from cold and hunger. 
Another prisoner, William Nelson Hunt, was frozen to death. 612 
Hugh Logan, an Irishman, unable to walk because of excessive 
fatigue, was tomahawked; such, also, was the fate of August 
Mortt, a German, and for a similar reason. 613 

With relief we turn from these tragic details to the story of 
the efforts which were making to restore the captives to civiliza- 
tion. On September 9 Proctor communicated to General Brock 
the news of the massacre at Fort Dearborn, expressing regret over 
its occurrence and denying that the British had known anything 
of the intended attack, or that the superintendent of the Indian 
Department had any influence over the Indians. 614 At the time 
of writing this letter Proctor believed that Captain Heald and his 
wife and Kinzie were the only survivors of the massacre, and no 
suggestion was made by him of measures for the relief of the 

" Niks' Register, June 4, 1814. The name is printed as Nelson; it does not occur in 
any of the other accounts of the massacre, nor on the muster-roll of Heald's company of 
May 31, 1812. The latter does contain the name of William Nelson Hunt, however, and 
he is probably the man designated as Nelson in the newspaper account. 

' The following letter written by Thomas Forsyth to Nathan Heald, April 10, 1813, 
suggests a different reason for the killing of Mortt. The letter is reproduced in full for the 
sake of the information it gives concerning the massacre and the affairs of some of the 
participants in it. The original manuscript is the property of Mrs. Lillian Heald Richmond, 
of St. Louis, Mo. 

ST. Louis xoth April 1813. 

SIR: I had the honor to receive from the hand of Gov. Howard, your letter to him of the 24th 
February last, in answer to his to you respecting Kinzie & Forsyth Claims for losses sustained ist 
August at Chicago, in your letter you mention that you gave Mr. Kinzie a quantity of gunpowder for 
hire of horses to carry provisions, &c to Detroit, in that case, the gunpowder was from you to us, for 
hire of horses for public use and of course the gunpowder became our property, after the delivery of 
the gunpowder to Mr. Kinzie, I understood from him (K-) that either you or the late Captain Wells, 
and perhaps both, told him, that if he, (K) would destroy all his gunpowder and Whiskey, that he 
should be paid for his losses by the U. States all of which was certainly destroyed; in your letter to 
Gov. Howard, you say you seen the Whiskey destroyed and that you have no doubt but the gunpowder 
was also destroyed; In that case I would thank you if you would forward on to me at this place, a 
certificate of what you know about the destruction of those articles, also the prices of gunpowder, 
Whiskey, mules & horses, at Chicago. I have claimed for each horse $60 Mules $90 Whiskey $2 
per gallon, gunpowder $2 per Ib. this you know was the current price for Whiskey and Gunpowder; I 
paid myself, this price for Gunpowder bought out of the Factory of that place, as for the horses and 
Mules they are by no means high; our losses in horn cattle, hogs, merchandise &c are very great for 
which we demand nothing for. Depain and Buisson wintered at Chicago last winter with goods from 
Mackinaw, they have bought of[fl Mrs. Leigh and her younger child, and another woman which I 
expect is Mrs. Cooper or Burns, Old Mott was a prisoner, and became out of his head last Winter 
and was killed by the Indians. 

Please give my respects to Mrs. Heald. 

And Remain your most Obedt Servt 


4i Michigan Pioneer Collections, XV, 144. 


captives. Soon, however, Captain and Mrs. Heald and Sergeant 
Griffith reached Detroit, bringing information that nearly half of 
the garrison and a number of women and children were captives 
among the Indians. Detroit and Michigan being in the hands 
of the British, in the absence of any official representative of the 
American government Judge Woodward assumed the duty of 
procuring the initiation of measures for the relief of the prisoners. 
On the strength of the information furnished by Heald and 
Griffith he addressed a letter to Proctor, representing that over 
thirty Americans had been taken by the Indians. 615 He urged 
that immediate measures be taken for their relief, suggesting the 
sending a special messenger overland to Chicago, charged with the 
duty of collecting the captives who still survived and information 
of those who had perished, and supplied with the means of convey- 
ing the former to either Detroit or Mackinac. He further urged 
that Captain Roberts, the commander at Mackinac, be instructed 
to co-operate in the efforts to rescue the Americans, and assured 
Proctor that the funds necessary for the work would be repaid 
either by the American government or by private individuals. 

In consequence of this bold and manly appeal, tardy measures 
were instituted by Proctor which resulted in the rescue of a num- 
ber of the captives. Woodward was assured that all possible 
measures would be taken to secure their release, and two weeks 
later Proctor, in reporting the correspondence to his superior, 
announced that the chiefs of the tribe concerned in the massacre 
had been informed of his desire that the captives be brought to 
him. 616 Weeks passed, however, and it was not until the depar- 
ture of Robert Dickson for the West in February, 1813, that any 
active measures were taken to recover them. 

Dickson, as we have already seen, 617 had led a motley band of 
northwestern Indians to the assault on Mackinac in the summer 

6 <s The original draft of this letter is printed in Appendix VII; the statements in the 
text are based on the letter as actually sent. This differed in some respects from the 
rough draft. 

' Proctor to Woodward, October 10, 1812, Michigan Pioneer Collections, XV, 163; 
Proctor to Evans, October 28, 1812, ibid., 172. 
61 Supra, p. 214. 


of 1812. In November he proceeded to Montreal and Quebec 
to lay before the authorities there a plan he had conceived for se- 
curing the active co-operation of the northwestern tribes in the 
prosecution of the war against the Americans. 618 He proposed 
that large stores of supplies be sent to Chicago and Green Bay 
in the spring of 1813, which points were the most convenient for 
rendezvous. He himself, if given the necessary authority and 
assistance, would proceed by way of Detroit and Chicago to the 
Mississippi and collect the warriors at these points, whence they 
could be led to the seat of war around Detroit in time to par- 
ticipate in the operations of 1813. 

This plan was accepted by the military authorities and Dick- 
son set out for the West. On February 15 he was at Sandwich 
and a month later was among the Pottawatomies of St. Joseph. 619 
Here he was informed that the Fort Dearborn captives still in 
the hands of the Indians numbered seventeen men, four women, 
and several children. He at once took steps to secure them, and 
expressed confidence that he would succeed in getting them all. 
On March 22 he was at Chicago, and here penned the descrip- 
tion of the fort to which reference has been made in a preced- 
ing chapter. 620 From this point he hastened on toward the 
Mississippi. Early in June he was back at Mackinac at the head 
of six hundred warriors, and in addition to these he reported the 
dispatch of eight hundred by land to Detroit. 621 That, in the 
face of such exertions as these achievements imply, he should 
have found any time to bestow on the Fort Dearborn captives, 
speaks well for both his energy and his humanity. 

Apparently in the press of other matters Dickson neglected 
to report further as to his measures for the relief of the captives. 
In May, 1814, however, nine surviving members of the Fort 
Dearborn garrison arrived at Plattsburg, New York, from 
Quebec. 622 The story they told was that after the massacre they 

611 For Dickson's project see Michigan Pioneer Collections, XV, 180-82, 202-4, 208-11, 
t 16-21 et passim. 

'"Ibid., XV, 250, 258. '" Michigan Pioneer Collections, XV, 321-23. 

6 " Supra, p. 631. '" Niks' Register, June 4, 1814. 


had been taken to the Fox River country and there distributed 
among the Indians as servants. In this situation they remained 
about nine months, when they were brought to Chicago, where 
they were purchased by a "French trader" acting under the 
instructions of General Proctor. Doubtless the "trader" was 
Dickson, whose arrival at Chicago, March 22, 1813, falls in the 
ninth month after the massacre. From Chicago the captives 
were sent on to Amherstberg, or Maiden, and thence to Quebec, 
where they arrived November 8, 1813. 

The names of the nine men who were thus restored to their 
countrymen almost two years after the massacre deserve a place 
in our narrative. They were James Van Horn, Dyson Dyer, 
Joseph Noles, Joseph Bowen, Paul Grummo, Nathan Edson, 
Elias Mills, James Corbin, and Fielding Corbin. With the 
exception of Grummo, no record has been found of the further 
career of these men. His story, written down over four score 
years after the massacre, possesses considerable interest, and 
contains, moreover, certain details not preserved elsewhere. 

In later life Grummo, or De Garmo, as he seems to have been 
known, settled at Maumee City, a few miles from Toledo, Ohio. 
Here on a small reservation in the early thirties was the gathering- 
place and council house of the surviving remnants of the Potta- 
watomie, Wyandot, and other tribes. Here, too, gathered 
various traders, among others Robert Forsyth, and James 
Wolcott, whose brother, Alexander, was Indian agent at Chicago 
until his death in 1830. From 1837 until about the year 1841 
Charles A. Lamb, to whom we are indebted for the preservation 
of the story, was the nearest neighbor of Grummo at Maumee 
City. 623 He describes him as a tall, well-built man, who always 
insisted that he was a participant in the Fort Dearborn massacre. 

As Lamb remembered his story, Grummo represented that he 
was employed as a scout in the summer of 1812, carrying dis- 
patches between Fort Dearborn and Fort Wayne. After the 
battle he was adopted by a chief whose son he had killed in the 

6 Letter of Charles A. Lamb, August 24, 1893, MS in Chicago Historical Society 


contest. His new-found father took him, in company with 
others, in a northwesterly direction. After traveling many days, 
they crossed the Mississippi above the Falls of St. Anthony, the 
object of their journey being to induce the tribes to join them in 
the war against the Americans. Returning from this mission, 
Grummo's captors sold him to the British at Detroit, "or some- 
where around there." By them he was taken to Louisburg 
where he was kept till the close of the war, when he found his way 
to New York. 

Such, in brief, was Grummo's story as recorded by Lamb a 
half-century after he had heard it. In some respects it is per- 
plexing, and many of its details are untrustworthy. There is 
no reason to question Lamb's sincerity. He frankly admits his 
liability to error in telling it after the lapse of so great a time. It 
is evident, too, that Grummo drew a long bow in relating his own 
experiences. This, however, is so common a characteristic of 
old soldiers' stories that it need occasion no particular surprise. 
Lamb further records that though Grummo, whose story he has 
related only briefly, added many things to prove his veracity, yet 
he was never able to secure a pension. Both General Cass and 
General John E. Hunt exerted their influence in his behalf, but on 
the records of the War Department he had been set down as 
a deserter, and this charge could not be disproved. 

The fortunes of the officers, Heald and Helm, and their 
wives, may be followed with less difficulty, though even here 
we encounter at times perplexing contradictions. The Indians 
who secured possession of Captain Heald and his wife at the 
close of the battle belonged to different bands. Owing to 
the entreaties of Mrs. Heald, however, and the efforts of Chan- 
donnai, the two were brought together. 624 On the day after 
the battle their captors set out with them for the St. Joseph 
River, coasting around the southern end of Lake Michigan in 

" The details as to Chandonnai's agency in the matter vary somewhat in the different 
accounts; it is clear that he exerted his influence, whether by purchasing Mrs. Heald from 
her captives or otherwise, to bring the Captain and his wife together, and that the Healds 
afterward regarded him in the light of a benefactor. 


a canoe. 625 The trip consumed, according to Heald's journal, 
three days, although the distance is only about one hundred 

Practically the only details recorded of this journey are con- 
tained in the narrative of Darius Heald to Kirkland in 1892. 
That these details, based on second-hand information and written 
down at so late a date, cannot be relied upon is obvious. Yet 
they are of sufficient interest to merit inclusion here. Both 
Heald and his wife were badly wounded, the former being shot in 
the thigh and through the right forearm, and the latter having 
a half-dozen wounds in all, no one of which, apparently, was 
dangerous. After the party had traveled for many hours around 
the end of the lake a young deer was seen, coming down to the 
water in a clump of bushes to get a drink. The travelers drew 
close to the shore and the deer was shot by an Indian. They 
then pitched camp and dressed the animal. Using the hide as a 
kneading board Mrs. Heald stirred some flour which they had 
brought along in a leather bag into a stiff paste which she wound 
around sticks and toasted over the fire. Captain Heald after- 
ward declared that this was the best bread he ever ate. 

At the mouth of the St. Joseph, which was reached on August 
19, the party halted. The Healds were permitted to stay in the 
house of Burnett, the trader, and their wounds were dressed and 
given medical attention by an Indian doctor. 626 After a few days 
most of the Indians trooped off to participate in the attack on 
Fort Wayne. In their absence an avenue of escape opened to 
the captives. A friendly Indian, Alexander Robinson, was pre- 
vailed upon to conduct them to Mackinac in his birch-bark canoe. 

The principal sources for the captivity of the Healds are the following: Heald's 
official report of the massacre (Appendix IV); his Journal (Appendix III); the Heald 
papers in the Draper Collection; the Darius Heald narrative of the massacre as reported, 
first, to Lyman C. Draper (Appendix V); and second, to Joseph Kirkland (Magazine of 
American History, XXVIII, 111-22). A brief account gained from Sergeant Griffith, the 
companion of the Healds until they reached Pittsburgh, is contained in McAfee, History of 
the Late War, 100-101. 

" 6 Among the Heald papers in the Draper Collection is a certificate of Captain Heald 
"on honor" that he paid ten dollars to an Indian for attendance and medicine while sick of 
his wounds at the St. Joseph River. 


He was assisted by his squaw and, possibly, by one or two half- 
breeds, and for the service Heald paid him one hundred dollars. 

The distance to Mackinac was three hundred miles along the 
eastern shore of Lake Michigan, and the journey consumed 
sixteen days. The treatment accorded to the fugitives by Cap- 
tain Roberts on their arrival there forms one of the bright spots 
in the story of the wearisome captivity. He extended them 
every kindness within his power to render their condition as 
comfortable as possible. Both Captain Heald and Captain 
Roberts were Masons, and, as Mrs. Heald told the story in after- 
years, they retired to a private room together, when Heald told 
his story and asked for help and for protection from the Indians, 
who, he feared, were in pursuit of him. Roberts felt doubtful of 
his ability to protect the fugitives, but Heald was given his parole 
and permission to proceed to Detroit. Sergeant Griffith was 
permitted to attend him, and Heald agreed to deliver him up to 
the British officer in command upon reaching Detroit. It is of 
interest to note that one of the witnesses of Heald 's parole was 
Robert Dickson, the vigilant and enterprising foe of the Ameri- 
cans in the Northwest. Probably due to the influence of Captain 
Roberts, the captives secured passage to Detroit on a small sail- 
boat, paying to Robert Irwin, the master, seventeen dollars for 
their transportation thither. Before parting from Captain 
Roberts the latter took out his pocket-book and urged Heald to 
help himself, saying he might repay the money if he ever reached 
home; if not it would not matter. It was not necessary to 
accept the generous offer, however, for before the evacuation 
Mrs. Heald had taken the precaution to sew a sum of money in 
her husband's underclothing, and this he had succeeded in retain- 
ing when stripped of his uniform by his captors. 

On reaching Detroit at the close of September, Heald reported 
to General Proctor and was permitted by him to rejoin his 
countrymen. Griffith, also, was allowed to continue to attend 
him " to the U. States," on Heald's promise to do all in his power 
to prevent his serving in arms against the British until regularly 
exchanged. The party left Detroit October 4 for Buffalo, to 


which place they had been provided with transportation by 
Proctor. Curiously enough the vessel which bore them was the 
"Adams," Kingsbury's erstwhile "navy of the lakes," which had 
often journeyed to Chicago on friendly missions during the life 
of the first Fort Dearborn. In July Hull had attempted to fit it 
out for one more trip to carry provisions to Mackinac and Fort 
Dearborn. The successful execution of this project might have 
rendered Heald's present journey unnecessary. With the cap- 
ture of Detroit the "Adams" had fallen into the hands of the 
British, and, as a British vessel, bore the defeated commander to 
Buffalo. From Buffalo the party journeyed by land to Erie, and 
thence by water to Pittsburgh, which was reached October 22. 
The movements of Griffith from this time are unrecorded. The 
Healds remained here sixteen days, during which time the 
commander wrote his official report of the massacre and of his 
subsequent movements. Resuming their journey down the Ohio 
on November 8 they reached Louisville, the girlhood home of 
Mrs. Heald, eleven days later. In their captivity and flight 
three months of time had been consumed, and a circuit of nearly 
two thousand miles had been traversed, almost all of it by water, 
much of the way in a canoe or open boat. 627 The distance from 
Chicago to Louisville by rail today is less than one-sixth as long 
as Heald's route, and can be traversed in thrice as many hours as 
the number of months he required. 

At the home of Mrs. Heald's parents the fugitives were 
greeted as people risen from the dead. Part of the booty 
captured by the Indians at the time of the massacre had been 
taken down the Illinois River and sold to the whites. It chanced 
that Colonel O'Fallon, an old friend of the Healds, saw and 
recognized certain articles which had been their personal prop 
erty. He had ransomed them and sent them to Samuel Wells 
at Louisville, as a memento of his brother and daughter who 
were both supposed to have been killed. Most of these ar- 
ticles, including Heald's sword, a comb, finger ring, brooch, and 

'" The estimate of the distance made by Heald in his Journal was nineteen hundred 
and seven miles. Of this only ninety miles, from Buffalo to Erie, were traveled by land. 


table spoons of Mrs. Heald, are still in the possession of her 

Captain and Mrs. Heald spent the winter at her father's 
home, and in the spring of 1813 went to Newport where the 
ensuing summer was passed. They shortly returned to the 
vicinity of Louisville, where in 1814 they purchased some land 
and began the erection of farm buildings, into which they moved 
late that fall. Three weeks after the massacre, while he was 
pushing his weary flight in an open canoe along the desolate 
eastern shore of Lake Michigan to Mackinac, Heald had been 
promoted to the rank of major. 628 His wounds, which never 
ceased to trouble him, incapacitated him for further service, and 
at the consolidation of the army in 1814 he was discharged. In 
1817 he was granted a pension of twenty dollars a month, to date 
from the time of his discharge from the army in i8i4. 629 During 
this year he removed to Stockland, now O'Fallon, Missouri. 
Here he purchased a farm from Jacob Zumwalt which had been 
granted to the latter by the Spanish government toward the close 
of the eighteenth century. 630 Here Major Heald continued to 
reside until his death in 1832, and Mrs. Heald until her demise a 
quarter of a century later. Shortly before Heald's death his old 

Drennan Papers, Gushing to Heald, November 9, 1812. 

> The following letter from William Turner regarding the granting of Heald's pension 
discloses a creditable aspect of the latter's character. The original letter is the property 
of a granddaughter of Heald, Mrs. Edmonia Heald McCluer. 


25th January 1817 

DEAR MAJ: I have taken the liberty without your approbation or knowledge with the assistance 
of my friend General Parker to procure you a full pension as Capt. We were at first in hopes to 
procure it as full pay for a Maj. but on examining the list of Officers we found that your promotion 
as Maj. took place eleven days after you received your wound. 

It will take effect from the icth June 1814 at twenty dollars per month which will be six hundred 
dollars up to the 3ist Dec 1816. 

You will excuse me for the liberty I have taken in procuring this pension without your knowledge 
and will explain that I always feel it my indisputable duty to render assistance to my fellow citize ns in 
all cases but more particularly^ to a brother officer who has served his country as faithfully as you have 
and whose increasing friendship for myself & family have been so conspicuous. 

Should you feel any delicacy in receiving the pension which I trust you will not as you are so 
greatly entitled to it, permit me to suggest the propriety of bestowinfg] it on your child or children, 
which will be of service to them at some future period. 

General Parker will enclose to you the warrant or certificate for the pension with instructions 
how you are to obtain the money already due. 



Letters of Mrs. Rebecca Heald McCluer, granddaughter of Nathan Heald, to the 
author, May 7 and June i, 1912. 

O a 




benefactor, Chandonnai, paid him a visit, accompanied by a 
chief and a number of other Indians. The members of the party 
were on their way to Kansas to view the country and report to 
their people upon its desirability. They visited with Major 
Heald, who caused a sheep and a beef to be killed for their enter- 
tainment and talked over with them the story of the captivity. 
The Heald estate is still intact in the hands of the grandchildren. 
The old homestead, built by the original proprietor of hewn 
walnut logs, with the flooring held in place by wooden pegs, still 
stands. Within its walls the first Methodist sacrament in 
Missouri is said to have been administered in 1807, by Rev. Jesse 
Walker, the pioneer of Methodism in Chicago. For many years 
the house has been unoccupied, but it is still in a partial state of 
repair. Recently two of its rooms have been fitted up to serve 
as the meeting-place of local chapters of the society of Daughters 
of the Revolution. 

The fortunes of the Kinzie family after the massacre are 
recounted with much detail in the family narrative, Wau Bun. 
Unfortunately, however, the details are untrustworthy. Some 
of the incidents recited undoubtedly possess a certain basis of 
fact, and the broader outlines of the itinerary of the family may 
in the main be accepted as correct; but these things aside, 
accuracy of statement is no more to be looked for than in a 
mediaeval historical romance. 631 Several days after the battle 

" Probably there was a kernel of fact around which the story of the rescue of the 
family by Billy Caldwell from impending slaughter at the hands of the Wabash band of 
Indians was developed. Forsyth's letter to Heald, January 2, 1813 (infra, note 632), 
recounts the disappointment of "them murdering dogs from the Wabash," who reached 
Chicago shortly after Heald's departure therefrom. It is not improbable that they sought 
to vent their displeasure upon the Kinzies, nor, if so, that Caldwell, who was a firm friend 
of Kinzie, intervened to protect them. That Mrs. Helm may have sought refuge with 
Ouilmette's family is equally consonant with probability; but here as elsewhere it is evident 
from a critical reading that the bulk of the narrative is the product of the author's literary 
imagination. The account of the rescue of Sergeant Griffith must be regarded in a similar 
light. A careful reading of the story, accompanied by the reflection that Griffith was an 
experienced frontiersman and soldier, suffices to convince one of this. Instead of being on 
the north side of the river during the battle, Griffith was a participant in it. Necessarily 
then, the greater part of the narrative is invalid. Yet Helm's brief entry concerning 
Griffith, "Supposed to be a Frenchman and released," seems to indicate that Mrs. Kinzie's 
narrative had some incitement in fact. 


the family proceeded by boat to the St. Joseph River 632 where it 
remained some weeks with the friendly Pottawatomies, when 
Mrs. Kinzie and her children journeyed to Detroit under the 
escort of Chandonnai, while John Kinzie remained behind for a 
time in the hope of collecting some of his scattered property. 

Mrs. Helm shared the fortunes of her mother's family as far 
as Detroit. Meanwhile her husband, Lieutenant Helm, was 
taken by his captors down the Illinois River. Befo " leaving 
Chicago, apparently, Mrs. Kinzie interceded with he* jn-in- 
law's captors in his behalf; her speech had "the desired effect," 
and within a few weeks Thomas Forsyth succeeded in ransoming 
Helm by the payment of two mares "and a keg of stuff when 
practicable." 633 After spending some time with his rescuer at 
Peoria, Helm proceeded down the river, arriving at St. Louis 
October 14, two months after the massacre. Thence he made his 

> According to the family narrative on the third day after the battle. The following 
letter from Thomas Forsyth to Heald, January 2, 1813, shows that in fact it was the fifth 
day. The letter is primarily concerned with the property losses of Forsyth and Kinzie, but 
incidentally it supplies some interesting data concerning the massacre and certain of the 
survivors. The original manuscript is owned by Mrs. Lillian Heald Richmond of St. 
Louis, Mo. 

ST. Louis, and Jany. 1813 

SIR: I have forwarded on to the City of Washington our Claims against the U. States for our 
Whiskey Gunpowders and horses that was lost at Chicago in August last. Lt. Helm (who I got off 
from the Indians) has proven by affidavit, to the Quantity of Gunpowders and Whiskey, but by a 
neglect in drawing up his affidavit it does not say that Lt. Helm saw the Gunpowder and Whiskey 
destroyed, say 850 Lbs. gunpowder and 1,200 Gallons Whiskey. I therefore would thank you if you 
would forward on to the City of Washington, to Gov. Howard of this place, who is gone on to that 
City, and has our claims with him, a Certificate or affidavit stating simply the destruction of the 
Gunpowder and Whiskey, (as Lt. Helm has proven that he saw the Horses and Mules in possession of 
the Indians when he was a prisoner) will be sufficient. 

The day after the horrid affair, and I believe the very day you left Chicago for St. Joseph's I 
arrived there (Chicago) I remained four days with Kinsie and his family, and I left Chicago the same 
day Kinsie left it for St. Joseph's, and I have not heard of him since, you was certainly very fortunate 
in getting of from Chicago the moment you did, as I can assure you that a very few days longer and 
probably you would never have left Chicago, as them murdering dogs from the Wabash, was very 
much displeased when they you was gone, and said it would be needless to follow you, as the wind was 
fair and they could not overtake you, was they to follow the boat. 

Lynch & Suttenfield was badly wounded, and were both killed before the Indians arrived at 
River Aux Sable. Crosier was taken off from River Aux Sable to Green Bay by a Chipeway Indian, 
an old friend of his, and therefore he is free. When you send on the deposition to Gov. Howard, direct 
your letter to him at Lexington Kentucky and should he not be there his friends will forward it on to 
the Seat of Government. 

Please give my respects to Mrs Heald. 

And remains 

Your most Obedient 




6 " Helm's narrative of the massacre, Appendix VI; letter of Forsyth to Heald, January 
2, 1813, supra, note 632; Forsyth to John Kinzie, September 24, 1812, in Magazine of 
History, March, igi2, p. 89. 


way to his father's home in New York, where he rejoined Mrs. 
Helm, who had arrived there shortly before. For some reason 
not now in evidence, five months elapsed between Helm's arrival 
at St. Louis and the conclusion of his journey, the reunion with 
Mrs. Helm occurring in March, 1813, seven months and one 
week after their separation. 634 

The story of Mrs. Simmons and her infant daughter is in 
some respects the most interesting and heroic of the narratives of 
the Fort Dearborn captives. 635 Her husband was one of the little 
band of soldiers who died fighting in defense of the wagons. 
Among the children in the wagon was his son, David, two years 
of age, who perished beneath the tomahawk of the young fiend 
who slaughtered the children collected there. Mrs. Simmons on 
foot survived the massacre and succeeded in preserving her 
daughter, Susan, a babe of six months, whom she carried in her 
arms. Perceiving the delight which the savages derived from 
tormenting their prisoners, she resolved to suppress any mani- 
festation of anguish. If the family narrative may be credited, 
her resolution was promptly put to a terrible test. The slain 
children were collected in a row, among them the gory corpse of 

6 In Wau Bun, p. 187, occurs a moving story of Mrs. Helm's journey from Detroit to 
Fort George on the Niagara frontier. It represents that Helm rejoined his wife in Detroit, 
where both were arrested by order of the British commander and sent on horseback in the 
dead of winter through Canada to Fort George. No official appeared charged with their 
reception, and on their arrival they were forced to sit waiting outside the gate for more than 
an hour, without food or shelter, notwithstanding the fact that Mrs. Helm was a delicate 
woman and the weather was most cold and inclement. When Colonel Sheaffe learned of 
this brutal inhospitality he expressed his indignation over it, and treated the prisoners 
kindly until they were exchanged, when they made their way to their friends in New York. 
Aside from the improbability that Helm, finding himself safe among his own countrymen at 
St. Louis, would voluntarily go to Detroit to become a prisoner of the British, the truth of 
Mrs. Kinzie's detailed narration is disproved by the explicit statement of Helm in his 
narrative of the massacre that after separating from his wife near the fort on the day of the 
massacre they met again at his father's home in the state of New York, "she having 
arrived seven days before me after being separated seven months and one week." 

For the story of the captivity of Mrs. Simmons the principal source is the family 
narrative, Heroes and Heroines of the Fort Dearborn Massacre. A Romantic and Tragic 
History of Corporal John Simmons and His Heroic Wife, by N. Simmons, M.D. The book 
is of value only for its story of the experiences of Mrs. Simmons and her daughter. The 
Fort Dearborn muster-roll for May, 1812, shows that Simmons was not a corporal as stated, 
but only a private. In general the book must be used with great caution. 


her son, and she was led past them in the effort to discover from 
her bearing whether any of them had belonged to her. She 
passed through the ordeal without a sign of recognition, and 
according to the same account, endured the long months of her 
terrible captivity without once shedding a tear. 

In the division of the captives Mrs. Simmons fell along with 
others into the hands of some savages from the vicinity of Green 
Bay. On the morning after the massacre they crossed the 
Chicago River and began the homeward march. The weather 
was warm and the hardship of the journey for Mrs. Simmons, 
aside from the fatigue of the travel, consisted mainly in being 
compelled to do the drudgery of her captors, such as gathering 
fuel and building fires. On the march she walked, carrying her 
baby the entire distance, two hundred miles or more. The hard- 
ships of the march were as nothing in comparison with the 
reception which awaited its conclusion. Runners were sent in 
advance to announce the approach of the war party to the mem- 
bers of the tribe in camp, and as it drew near the women and 
children streamed forth to meet it. They saluted the captives 
with a fusillade of insults, kicking and otherwise abusing them. 
Arrived at the village, they were put under close guard until the 
following day. 

In the morning the village was early astir, and preparations 
were made for subjecting the captives to the ordeal of running 
the gauntlet. A long double line was formed by the women and 
children in an open space before the wigwams, and each of the 
soldiers was compelled to run between the lines, receiving the 
blows dealt out with sticks and clubs by those composing them. 
Mrs. Simmons' hope of being spared this ordeal proved vain, and 
she was led to the head of the line. Wrapping her babe in her 
blanket, and enfolding it in her arms to shield it, she ran rapidly 
down the path of torment and reached the goal, bleeding and 
bruised, but with the infant unharmed. 

At this stage of her persecutions the mother encountered an 
unexpected act of kindness. An elderly squaw led her into her 
wigwam, washed her wounds, and gave her food and an oppor- 


tunity to rest. The new-found friend continued her kindly 
services as long as Mrs. Simmons remained in the same camp 
with her; and the captive ever afterward spoke of her as her 
"Indian mother," and regretted her inability to repay the favors 
received from her. 

Meanwhile Robert Dickson was collecting the western tribes 
to lead them to the scene of war on the Lake Erie frontier. The 
warriors rendezvoused at Green Bay, from which place the 
chieftain, Black Hawk, destined to play a prominent role in the 
Northwest twenty years later, led a party of five hundred south- 
ward around Lake Michigan, past the slaughtered garrison of 
Fort Dearborn, and onward to the frontier. 636 The band to 
which Mrs. Simmons belonged seems to have participated in 
this movement of the western tribes. The captive retraced her 
weary way from Green Bay to Chicago and the bones of her mur- 
dered husband, carrying her baby as before. From Chicago her 
captors led her around the lake to Mackanic; the length of the 
entire journey was about six hundred miles, and winter closed 
in before it was completed. Scantily clad, suffering from cold, 
weariness, and hunger, the mother strove desperately to save her 
child, and accomplished the almost incredible exploit of carrying 
it in safety to Mackinac. 

Here she was cheered by the prospect of ransom or exchange; 
but the sequel proved that her trials were as yet but half sur- 
mounted. To accomplish her release she was sent to Detroit. 
The terrible march was again resumed, this time in the dead of 
winter. The route led through three hundred miles of wilder- 
ness; deep snows with occasional storms impeded the progress; 
her clothing was in rags, and food was so scarce that she was 
often constrained to appease her hunger by eating roots, 
acorns, and nuts, found under the snow. The child, now a 
year old, had much increased in weight, while the mother's 
strength was diminishing. But the prospect of release at the 
end of the journey buoyed up her hopes and she continued 
to struggle on. 

'j* Black Hawk, Life, 40-42. 


From Detroit to her parental home near Piqua, Ohio, the 
journey was comparatively easy. The first stage took her to 
Fort Meigs, then in command of General Harrison, where she 
arrived late in March, 1813. Here she learned that a supply 
train which had recently come from Cincinnati was about to 
return, and that it would pass within a few miles of her father's 
home. She accordingly secured passage in one of the govern- 
ment wagons. She still had over a hundred miles to travel over 
wet and swampy roads in early spring time; but in comparison 
with her earlier travels this stage of the journey must have seemed 
luxurious enough. About the middle of April she left the train 
at a point within four miles of her home, walked to the blockhouse 
where her parents had taken refuge from marauding Indians, 
and rejoined the family circle which had long mourned her as 
dead. Three years before, with husband and baby son, she had 
set out for her new home at Fort Dearborn. Both husband and 
son were dead and she now returned a widow, but with another 
child, who had been born at Fort Dearborn in February, 1812. 
Safe among her former friends, the brave woman at last broke 
down; to use her own language she "did nothing but weep for 

There were still other dangers and trials, however, for Mrs. 
Simmons to pass through. In August a murderous attack was 
made by some marauding Indians upon the family of Henry 
Dilbone, who had married the sister of Mrs. Simmons. Mr. and 
Mrs. Dilbone were working together in the flax field, with their 
four young children close at hand. Near the close of the day's 
work their dog raised an alarm, and at almost the same instant 
the husband fell shot through the breast. The savage sprang 
forward from his place of concealment to take his victim's scalp. 
But the latter though mortally wounded was not dead, and 
gathering his remaining strength he rose, ran to the edge of the 
field, and leaped the fence which separated it from an adjoining 
swamp, where he fell among the bushes. The Indian abandoned 
the pursuit and turned back after Mrs. Dilbone, who had fled 
for concealment into the neighboring corn. Her flight was vain, 


however, for she was soon overcome, tomahawked, and scalped. 
The slayer now turned his attention to the four children, the 
eldest of whom was ten years of age and the youngest seven 
months. They, meanwhile, had been making what progress 
they could toward the house. Instead of pursuing them the 
warrior made off into the forest, fearing probably that the noise 
caused by the discharge of his gun and the screams of Mrs. 
Dilbone would attract rescuers to the spot. 

The neighbors were quickly aroused and a company went in 
search of Mr. and Mrs. Dilbone. The corpse of the latter was 
found and carried together with the children to the blockhouse of 
the Simmons family. The search for Mr. Dilbone was given over 
for that night, through fear of an ambuscade. In the morning it 
was resumed and he was soon found, too weak to move or even 
to cry out. He, too, was borne to the blockhouse, where he 
expired the following day. Thus after her own escape from 
captivity and death at the hands of the savages, Mrs. Simmons 
found herself once more in the midst of bloodshed and slaughter 
her sister and brother-in-law slain, her nephews orphaned. To 
such perils were the people on the northwestern frontier exposed 
during these troublesome and bloody years. 

The story of the later career of Mrs. Simmons and her 
daughter can quickly be told. The latter in due course of time 
grew to womanhood and became the wife of Moses Winans. The 
couple first settled in Shelby County, Ohio, but in 1853 they 
removed to Springville, Iowa. Mrs. Simmons, who had previ- 
ously taken up her abode hi her daughter's family, removed with 
them to Iowa, and died at Springville in i857- 637 Mrs. Winans' 
husband died in 1871, and seventeen years later she went to 
Santa Ana, California, to make her home with her younger 
daughter. She lived to become the last survivor of the Fort 
Dearborn massacre, dying at Santa Ana, April 27, 

For this and the following facts concerning Mrs. Winans see the letters and affidavits 
pertaining to the securing of a pension for Susan Simmons Winans in the Chicago Historical 
Society library. 

> Gale, Reminiscences of Early Chicago, 133. 


An interesting although necessarily incomplete narrative of 
the fortunes of the surviving members of the Burns family may be 
constructed by assembling the facts contained in several widely 
scattered sources of information. The killing of the husband, 
Thomas Burns, an hour after the surrender has already been 
described. 639 A son of Mrs. Burns by a former marriage, Joseph 
or James Cooper, was also a member of the slaughtered militia. 640 
To complete the tale of the mother's bereavement, her two chil- 
dren next in age perished in the massacre. The mother with two 
children, one of them an infant, alone survived to undergo the 
horrors of captivity among the Indians. 641 Concerning this 
captivity we have two accounts, both of them brief and unsatis- 
factory. Mrs. Kinzie relates in Wau Bun that Mrs. Burns and 
her infant became the prisoners of a chief, who carried them to his 
village. His wife, jealous of the favor shown by her lord and 
master to the white woman and her child, treated them with the 
greatest hostility, and on one occasion sought unsuccessfully to 
brain the infant with a tomahawk. Soon after this demonstra- 
tion the prisoners were removed to a place of safety. The author 
further relates that twenty-two years after the massacre she 
encountered a young woman on a steamer, who, hearing her 
name, introduced herself and raising the hair from her forehead 
displayed the mark of the tomahawk, which so nearly had been 
fatal to her. 642 

The other narrative was given to John Wentworth in 1861 by 
the son of Abraham Edwards, who was hospital surgeon in Hull's 
army at Detroit in i8i2. 643 He settled at Detroit in 1816, and 
there the family made the acquaintance of Mrs. Burns. Her 
daughter, Isabella Cooper, became an inmate of the Edwards 
home, and thus the younger Edwards became familiar with the 
story. Together with her mother and sister she had been an 

' Supra, pp. 227, 234. 

' Letter of Griffith to Heald, January 13, 1820, Draper Collection, U, VIII, 88. 

'< Griffith speaks of three children of Mrs. Burns. Helm's account of the massacre 
and the letter of Abraham Edwards to John Wentworth, which will be considered presently, 
mention only two, and this harmonizes with Heald's list of the survivors. 

'" Kinzie, Wau Bun, 188-89. 6 " Wentworth, Early Chicago, 54-60. 


occupant of one of the wagons when the evacuation of Fort 
Dearborn took place. A young Indian pulled her out of the 
wagon by her hair, but the child, though only about nine years of 
age, fought him to the best of her ability, biting and scratching. 
Finally he threw her down, scalped her, and was about to toma- 
hawk her, when an old squaw who had frequently visited at her 
father's house intervened and saved her life. The rescuer later 
took the child to her wigwam where she cared for her and healed 
her wound, although a spot on the top of her head the size of a 
silver dollar remained bare. She and her mother and sister re- 
mained among the Indians two years, when they were taken to 
Mackinac, purchased by some traders, and sent to Detroit. 

The narrative thus told by Edwards to Wentworth fifty 
years after the massacre is confirmed in part by a letter of 
Sergeant Griffith to Captain Heald in i82o. 644 Griffith had 
recently been to Detroit, and wrote to Heald, then living on his 
farm in Missouri, to enlist his support in procuring a pension for 
Mrs. Burns. She was then living in Detroit, supporting herself 
and her three surviving children by her own labor. A number of 
officers and others had interested themselves in the project of 
obtaining a pension for her. Her husband had been enrolled by 
Heald as a sergeant in the militia, in which capacity he had served 
for several months and finally given up his life. Of all this the 
government had no record or knowledge, however, and so Heald's 
certificate as to the nature of Burns's services was needed. In 
the absence of any knowledge concerning the success of the pen- 
sion project, we may hope that the government ministered to the 
needs of the widow who had suffered so grievously in the Fort 
Dearborn massacre. Edwards records that Mrs. Bums died at 
Detroit about the year 1823. He also states that the daughters 
were living as late as 1828, at which time he left Detroit, and that 
he had since heard they were living in Mackinac. With this, 
except for the brief notice by Mrs. Kinzie of a meeting with one 
of them, which has already been mentioned, our knowledge of 
them comes to an end. 

' Letter of Griffith to Heald, January 13, 1820, cited supra, note 640. 


Hovering on the border between myth and history are a num- 
ber of stories concerning the fate of others who went through the 
massacre. Some of these may be true, while some are certainly 
without foundation in fact; they are grouped together here be- 
cause of the impossibility of confirming their claim to validity. 
The story of little Peter Bell will probably forever remain an 
unsolved mystery. In September, 1813, a British officer, 
Captain Bullock, addressed an inquiry from Mackinac to General 
Proctor concerning the disposition to be made of certain prisoners 
whom the Indians had surrendered to the British at that post. 645 
Among others he mentioned Peter Bell, a boy of five or six years 
of age, "whose Father and mother were killed at Chicagoe." He 
had been purchased from the Indians by a trader and brought to 
Mackinac in July, 1813, in accordance with the orders of Robert 
Dickson. The mystery concerns the identity of the child. The 
time and manner of his rescue harmonizes with what is known of 
Dickson's work for the relief of the Chicago captives. But in 
none of the accounts of Fort Dearborn and the little settle- 
ment around its walls prior to 1812, is there any mention of 
a Bell family. The various accounts of the massacre establish 
conclusively the proposition that there were nine women among 
the whites on that day. Two of these were killed; the names 
of all of them are known, and the list contains no Mrs. Bell. 
Moreover, it is clear from the sources that six children survived 
the massacre. The names of all these are known, but that 
of Peter Bell is not among them. The only explanation of 
the child's identity which suggests itself is that he was taken 
captive at some other place than Chicago and that his captors for 
some reason, perhaps because of the ransom offered, saw fit to 
surrender him as one of the children taken at Fort Dearborn. 
Whatever the true explanation may be, a mournful interest 
attaches to the forlorn little waif who thus appears for a moment 
amidst the wreck of battle, only to sink again into oblivion. 

The fate of the Lee family is recorded in the pages of Wau 
Bun. 646 All of its members except the mother and an infant 

Michigan Pioneer Collections, XV, 392. '< Kinzie, Wau Bun, 189-91. 


child were killed during the battle. The fate of the girl, twelve 
years of age, was particularly pathetic. On leaving the fort, 
she had been placed upon horseback, but being unused to 
riding she was tied to the saddle for greater security. During 
the battle her horse ran away and the rider, partially dis- 
mounted yet held by the bands, hung dangling as the animal 
ran. From this predicament she was rescued by Black Par- 
tridge, with whom she had been a great favorite; but finding 
her badly wounded, he terminated her sufferings with a blow 
of the tomahawk. 

The mother and her infant child were taken by Black Par- 
tridge to his village. There the infant fell ill and Black Partridge 
fell in love, instituting a campaign for the hand of his captive. 
Unable to cure the sick child, he took it during the winter to 
Chicago, where a French trader had established himself since the 
massacre. The trader, M. Du Pin, not only prescribed for the 
child, but learning of Black Partridge's designs upon its mother, 
proceeded to ransom her and then in turn to marry her. 647 This 
story is repeated with embellishments by Matson, who, with 
curious disregard for consistency, includes an important feature 
not found in the original. He avers that the child who was 
dragged by the horse and afterward tomahawked was Lillian 
Lee, ten years of age; and that she had a sister two years older 
who escaped unharmed, was taken by her captors to the 
Kankakee, and the following spring was carried to St. Louis, 
where she married a man named Besson, and was still living in 
East St. Louis at the time Matson's book was written. 648 

The story of David Kennison, a survivor of the Fort Dearborn 
garrison, is worthy of preservation, if only because of the remark- 

' In his letter to Heald, April 10, 1813 (supra, note 613), Forsyth stated that "Dupain 
and Buisson wintered at Chicago last winter with goods from Mackinaw, they have bought 
of[f] Mrs. Leigh and her younger child, and another woman which I expect is Mrs. Cooper 
or Burns." 

Matson, Pioneers of Illinois, 257-62. The book was published in 1882. Notwith- 
standing the author's statement that he had interviewed Mrs. Besson and " listened to her 
thrilling narrative," there is much in his account to excite distrust. It recites many details 
which are obviously purely imaginary, and for the rest follows, in the main, the account in 
Wau Bun. 


able career of the man. 649 Born in New Hampshire in 1736, if 
his own story of his age is to be accepted, a member of the 
Boston Tea Party, a participant in Lexington and Bunker Hill 
and many another battle of the Revolution, he had reached the 
respectable age of seventy-one when, in March, 1808, he enlisted 
in the army for the regular term of five years. Probably this 
was a re-enlistment, for Kinzie's account books show that he was 
at Chicago as early as May, 1804. The garrison muster-roll for 
May, 1812, shows that he was present for duty at that time. 
The supposition that he was a participant in the massacre three 
months later rests upon inference, for his name is nowhere ex- 
pressly mentioned in connection with that event. Presumably 
he was one of the small number of survivors who returned 
from captivity concerning whom no definite record is left. In 
his old age Kennison told of further service in the War of 1812, 
but it is evident that his memory had become confused upon 
the subject. 

After the war Kennison settled in New York, and in the 
ensuing years of peace met with physical injuries far more numer- 
ous and serious than in all of his years of warfare. A falling tree 
fractured his skull and broke his collar bone and two ribs; the 
discharge of a cannon at a military review broke both of his legs; 
and the kick of a horse on his forehead left a scar which dis- 
figured him for life. Notwithstanding these accidents, Kennison 
succeeded in becoming a husband four times and a father twenty- 
two, and in living to the mature age of one hundred and fifteen. 
Late in life he became separated from all his children, and in 1845 
he came to Chicago where his last years were spent. He drew a 
pension of eight dollars a month for his Revolutionary services, 
and until 1848 eked out this means of support by manual labor. 

6 <The account given here of Kennison is drawn from the following sources: the 
Chicago Democrat, November 6 and 8, 1848, and February 25, 26, 27, 1852; the Chicago 
Daily News, December 19, 1903; the Fort Dearborn garrison payroll for the quarter ending 
December 31, 1811, and the muster-roll for the period ending May 31, 1812, both among 
the Heald papers in the Draper Collection (for the latter see Appendix VIII); the garrison 
muster-roll for December, 1810, printed in Wentworth, Early Chicago, 88. Many of the 
details concerning the career of Kennison are, of course, of doubtful validity. 


Becoming incapacitated for the latter, however, he entered the 
Chicago Museum ; in his card to the public announcing this step 
he explained that the smallness of his pension obliged him to take 
it to provide himself with the necessary comforts of life. For the 
last twenty months of his life the veteran was bedridden, but his 
sight and hearing, which for a time had been deficient, became 
perfect again, and he retained his ordinary faculties to the end. 
His death occurred February 24, 1852. 

It was fitting that such a character should receive an imposing 
funeral. On the day before his death, in response to a request 
presented in his behalf that he be saved from the potter's field, 
the City Council had voted that a lot and a suitable monument be 
provided for him in the City Cemetery. The funeral was held 
from the Clark Street Methodist Church, and several clergymen 
assisted in the services. At their conclusion a procession moved 
in two divisions from the church to the cemetery, to the accom- 
paniment of cannon booming at one-minute intervals. In the 
procession were the mayor and the councilmen, a detachment 
of the United States army, the various military companies and 
bands of the city, companies of firemen, and others. Upon this 
spectacle and that of the interment, which was marked by the 
usual military honors, a large proportion of the population of the 
city gazed. The cemetery occupied a portion of the ground now 
included in Lincoln Park. When the use of this for burial pur- 
poses was abandoned a number of years later, nearly all of the 
bodies interred in it were removed. Kennison's was one of the 
few left undisturbed. For many years the site of his grave had 
practically been forgotten, when, in 1905, with appropriate cere- 
monies it was marked by a massive granite monument, erected 
by a number of patriotic societies. Thus it has come to pass 
that Kennison's burial place possesses a prominence of which 
the humble soldier in life can hardly have dared to dream. 
Veteran of our two wars against Great Britain, participant in the 
Boston Tea Party and the Fort Dearborn Massacre, he enjoys 
the unique distinction of a grave in Chicago's most famous park, 
overlooking the blue waters of Lake Michigan. 


Another massacre story, concerning the mythical character of 
which there can be no doubt, is noticed here because of the use 
that has been made of it by a historian of acknowledged worth 
and ability. Among the beautiful sheets of water which dot the 
surface of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan is Diamond Lake 
near the town of Cassopolis. In its midst lies Diamond Lake 
Island, a wooded expanse of perhaps forty acres in extent. This 
was occupied in the early days of white settlement in Cass County 
by an aged recluse who bore the prosaic name of Job Wright, but 
who was often more romantically designated as the hermit of 
Diamond Lake Island. The hermit eked out a living by fishing, 
hunting, trapping, and basket-weaving. Since he was of an 
uncommunicative disposition, his neighbors were free to give rein 
to their imagination in constructing the story of his past, and the 
scars upon his face furnished a visible support for the rumor that 
he had been a soldier. 650 

Another character of note in Cass County three-quarters of a 
century ago was Shavehead, the erstwhile leader of a band of 
renegade Indians. Shavehead's peculiar cognomen was due to 
his fashion of dressing his head ; the hair at the base of the head 
was shaved off, and the rest gathered in a bunch and tied at the 
top. He had been throughout his lifetime the persistent foe of 
the whites, and among the early settlers of Cass County he 
enjoyed a reputation for knavery and villainy which must, if he 
was aware of it, have delighted his heart. 

With old age Shavehead fell upon evil days. His followers 
disappeared, and with the advance of white settlement and the 
disappearance of game the old chief was reduced to sore straits 
for food. At times, however, he succeeded in securing a supply 
of firewater sufficient to obliterate for the time being the memory 
of his troubles. On one occasion the hermit, visiting Cassopolis 
to dispose of his wares, had his attention attracted by a group of 
men and boys on the village street who were being harangued by 
an Indian. Shavehead, for it was he, partially intoxicated, was 

For the story of Job Wright see Mathews, History of Cass County, Michigan, 65-66; 
Michigan Pioneer Collections, XIV, 265-67. 


gesticulating wildly, relating the warlike exploits of his stormy 
past. As the white man paused to listen, the old chief was 
describing the massacre at Fort Dearborn, and the slaughter of 
the women and children around the baggage wagons. As he 
proceeded with his boastings the hermit muttered words of 
recognition, and involuntarily drew his gun from his shoulder as 
though to terminate Shavehead's recital together with his life; 
he, too, had fought near the baggage wagons. Changing his 
mind, however, he listened patiently to the end, but when at 
sundown the Indian left the town the soldier followed on his 
track. "The red man and the white passed into the shade of the 
forest; the soldier returned alone. Chief Shavehead was never 
seen again. He had paid the penalty of his crime to one who 
could, with some fitness, exact it." 6si 

Such is the story of Shavehead and the hermit of Diamond 
Lake Island. So complete is it in its tragic fitness that one would 
fain believe it. Yet, though it received the approval of Edward 
G. Mason, it must be pronounced purely mythical, at least so 
far as its connection with Fort Dearborn is concerned. That 
Shavehead and Job Wright are historical characters in the early 
settlement of Cass County is clear. That the former took part 
in the Fort Dearborn Massacre is possible, and even probable. 
But that he met his death at the hands of Job Wright there 
is no proof whatsoever. Various other accounts exist, in fact, 
having apparently an equal claim on our credulity with the one 
already cited, of the manner in which Shavehead met his end. 6s * 
Furthermore there is no evidence that Job Wright was a member 
of the Fort Dearborn garrison in 1812. On the contrary, that he 
was not may be stated with a positiveness bordering on certainty. 
That he was not a member of Heald's company is shown by the 
muster-roll of the garrison for May 31, 1812, while the possibility 
of his belonging to the militia is negatived by the positive 
statements of both Heald and Helm that all of the latter were 

Mason, Chapters from Illinois History, 321. 
s' Michigan Pioneer Collections, XIV, 266-67. 


It remains to relate what is perhaps the strangest tale of all, 
concerning the survivors of the massacre. For it we are indebted 
to Moses Morgan, whose share in the building of the second Fort 
Dearborn has already been explained. 6 " In October, 1816, two 
of the men detailed to select timber for the work of construction 
proceeded in a skiff far up the North Branch, when they came 
upon a half-concealed Indian hut. They were first apprised of 
its proximity by the shrill shrieks of the squaws, who had seen their 
boat as it approached. As they turned their skiff to retreat they 
heard the voice of a white man, imploring them to stop and talk 
with him. The man spoke good English, indifferent French, 
and poor Winnebago. He informed them that he was one of the 
members of Heald's company. He had been wounded in the 
battle, but was mercifully saved by an elderly squaw, whom he 
had often provided with something to eat. She prevented the 
Indians from scalping him, and with the help of her girls moved 
him across the river and put him under some bushes. Here they 
cared for him, attending to his wounds, although both they and 
he suffered much from lack of food. As soon as he could be 
moved the women tied him onto a flat piece of timber taken from 
the burnt fort, and dragged him to a small lake some forty miles 
to the northward. Here he found himself compelled to take the 
old squaw for a wife or perish from starvation. Upon her sud- 
den death, a year before the visit of the sawyers, he had taken 
the two oldest girls to be his squaws. There was a third girl, 
younger than these, and the three women and himself com- 
prised the inmates of the hut. 

When the sawyers reported their discovery at the encamp- 
ment it was feared the squaws would spirit away their common 
husband. On the following day the surgeon, Doctor Gale, 
accompanied the sawyers to the hut, taking a boat load of 
presents for the squaws. It appeared that the inmates were 
about to change their location, and as a preliminary step the 
soldier had taken the youngest girl to be his third wife. She was 
then one hundred and fifty moons, or thirteen years old, but had 

6 Supra, p. 134. 


desired to be married before leaving the vicinity of her mother's 
burial place. 

Doctor Gale examined the man's wounds and found that they 
had healed, but with unnecessarily poor results, one leg being 
shortened and one arm of little use. The doctor took down his 
name and other personal details, and listened to his story of 
the massacre. He refused to return to civilization as long as 
the squaws would live with him and care for him; but he 
promised to bring them to visit the encampment, exacting, 
however, a promise that the little squaw should not be ridiculed 
by the soldiers. Nothing more was ever seen of the man, a fact 
not much to be wondered at. The surgeon wrote out his account 
of the interview and handed it, together with the memoranda he 
had made, to the adjutant, by whom in some manner it was lost. 
That the story did not, like the wounded soldier, pass into com- 
plete oblivion is owing to the quite accidental circumstance of its 
narration by Moses Morgan to Head, whose interest in Chicago 
history led him to preserve it. 



The British negotiators of the Treaty of Ghent which brought 
the War of 1812 to a close made strenuous efforts to compel the 
renunciation by the United States of its sovereignty over all of 
that portion of the old Northwest not included within the line 
drawn by the Treaty of Greenville of 1795. The avowed object 
of this provision was to erect a permanent barrier between the 
United States and the possessions of Great Britain in that region 
by forever securing the territory thus surrendered by the former 
to the Indians. The American representatives refused even to 
consider this proposition, however, and in the end the British 
were compelled to abandon it. Their contention that the Indian 
should be admitted as a party to the treaty was also abandoned, 
and, as finally agreed upon, it provided for a better definition of 
the boundaries between the two nations, but for no surrender 
of territory on either side. 

The counterpart for the Northwest of the Treaty of Ghent 
was the negotiation during the summer of 1815, by two commis- 
sions representing the United States, of over a score of treaties 
with the various tribes of that region. 654 One commission, con- 
sisting of Governor Edwards of Illinois and Governor Clark of 
Missouri Territory and Auguste Chouteau, the St. Louis Indian 
trader, met the diplomats of the red race at Portage des Sioux 
near the mouth of the Illinois River; the other, composed of 
General Harrison, General Duncan McArthur, and John Graham, 
conducted its negotiations at Spring Wells near Detroit. Except 
for the Sacs and Foxes, who manifested a belligerent attitude for 
some months longer, the autumn of 1815 witnessed the con- 
clusion of treaty making and the formal restoration of peace to 

For the treaties and accompanying documents see American Stale Papers, Indian 
Aairs, II, 1-26. 



the harassed northwestern frontier. But the British influence 
over the tribes was still powerful, despite the bitterness of the 
red men over their desertion, as they chose to regard it, by their 
former ally. The American influence over the tribes of Wiscon- 
sin and the territory farther west was as yet but slight. 655 Though 
nominally this region had long acknowledged the sovereignty of 
the United States, in fact it had remained commercially depend- 
ent upon Great Britain; and the British possessed, as a matter 
of course, the sympathy and affection of the red man. 

With the restoration of peace, therefore, it remained for the 
Americans to establish an effective control over the northwestern 
tribes. The dominance of the British trader over them must be 
broken, and to this end garrisons must be scattered throughout 
the country to overcome the tribes and give countenance to the 
American traders in their efforts to compete successfully with 
their British rivals. 

How the situation was viewed by well-informed Americans 
may be learned from a letter written by Lewis Cass to the 
Secretary of War in the spring of i8i6. 6s<s Calling attention to 
the indications of a renewal by the British Indian Department 
of its old aggressive attitude with reference to the Indians of 
the United States, Cass pointed out the existence of three great 
channels for carrying on trade between Canada and the Indians 
of the Mississippi and Missouri country. These were, first, by 
way of Chicago and the Illinois River; second, by Green Bay 
and the Fox- Wisconsin waterway; third, from Lake Superior to 
the headwaters of the Mississippi. Of these the great channel 
at that time was the second. Through it great quantities of 
goods were smuggled into the Indian country of the United 
States. This practice could be cut off, Cass urged, so far as the 
Illinois and the Fox- Wisconsin river routes were concerned, by 
the establishment of garrisons at Green Bay and Chicago. To 
stop smuggling altogether, however, there must also be a post 
near the Grand Portage. 

*5s Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVIII, xii. 
M Ibid., XIX, 376-79- 


Almost a year before this John Kinzie had transmitted to 
Cass an argument in favor of the re-establishment of a garrison 
at Chicago to take the place of the one that had been destroyed 
in the massacre of i8i2. 6sv Kinzie was, of course, greatly in- 
terested in the adoption of this proposal, for it would make 
possible the renewal by him under favorable conditions of the 
pursuit of a livelihood at Chicago. He pointed out that the 
hostility for the Americans of the tribes around Lake Michigan, 
between Mackinac and the southern end of the lake, was mainly 
due to their intercourse with the traders of the Southwest 
Company, who were hostile to the American traders. Because 
of lack of game these tribes were forced to migrate at certain 
seasons to the waters of the Fox, Chicago, and Illinois rivers, 
and as an incident to this migration they generally rendezvoused 
at Chicago in the spring. For this reason a garrison there was 
necessary to preserve order among the Indians and to restrain 
the British traders, whose influence would ever keep them hostile 
to the United States. 

Before the close of the summer of 1815 the government 
determined not only to establish garrisons at Chicago and Green 
Bay, but to reoccupy Prairie du Chien and erect a new fort at 
Rock Island on the Mississippi, and another in the vicinity of 
the Falls of St. Anthony. 658 At the same time it was planned to 
restore the government factory at Chicago for the conduct of 
the Indian trade, and to establish new factories at Green Bay 
and Prairie du Chien. 659 To the Third Infantry under Colonel 
Miller, then stationed at Detroit, was allotted the duty of gar- 
risoning the forts at Mackinac, Green Bay, and Chicago. 660 
Colonel Miller with his station at Mackinac was to have com- 
mand of the three posts. Two companies, Bradley's and Baker's, 
were destined for Chicago. In the absence of Major Baker, the 

' Kinzie to Cass, July 15, 1815; Indian Office, Book 204, Letter Book I, 90. 

6 s Flagler, History of the Rock Island Arsenal, 14-16; Wisconsin Historical Collections, 
XIX, 376-89. The decision to restore Fort Dearborn was reached at least as early as June, 
1815 (ibid., 384). 

Wisconsin Historical Collections, XIX, 380-84. 

* Drennan Papers, Department orders dated Detroit, June 7 and 8, 1816. 


ranking officer, Captain Hezekiah Bradley, commanded the 
detachment. The companies comprising the Green Bay con- 
tingent were ordered to embark June g. 661 Whether the Chicago 
detachment accompanied them on their way does not appear, 
but on June 30 it was on board the schooner "General Wayne" 
off the "Manitoo" Island in Lake Michigan. Here the first 
inspection was held, and a roster of the companies was made. 662 
Of the one hundred and thirty-three men enrolled in the two 
companies one hundred and twelve were present on this expe- 

On July 4 the expedition arrived at Chicago. The public 
buildings were found to have been entirely destroyed with 
the exception of the magazine, which was badly damaged. 663 
Numerous small parties of Indians visited the soldiers during 
the first few weeks, but no hostility was manifested by them. 
But one account preserves the details of the events attending 
the construction of the new Fort Dearborn, and this one is 
rambling and unreliable. 664 It relates that some Detroit traders, 
foreseeing a demand for vegetables upon the arrival of the 
garrison, had sent some Canadian half-breeds to Chicago in the 
spring of 1816 to start a truck garden. Upon the arrival of the 
"General Wayne" the troops landed and a temporary camp for 
the protection of themselves and the stores was established 
in a pasture near the old fort. Some garden seeds had been 
brought along, and one of the first tasks was to prepare a garden. 
Two half-breeds, Alexander Robinson and Ouilmette, and their 
squaws with their ponies were engaged to prepare the ground. 
With the aid of the soldiers the task was soon accomplished; 
but whether from the lateness of the season or for some other 
reason, the gardening experiment was not a success. The 
Canadian gardeners, who had planted in May about four miles 

" For a short account of the establishment of the fort at Green Bay see Neville, 
Historic Green Bay, chap. vi. 

<*' Drennan Papers, Fort Dearborn post returns. 
Ibid., Bradley to Parker, August 3, 1816. 
" Head Papers, narrative of Moses Morgan. 


up the South Branch, brought in vegetables for sale to the 
garrison at high prices. 

Meanwhile the construction of the fort was being prosecuted. 
In addition to the garrison, pit-sawyers and other workmen had 
been brought from Detroit. A grove of pine trees near the 
lake shore about four miles north of the river was selected, and 
the logs were rolled into the lake and rafted down to the mouth 
of the river and up the stream to a point opposite the site of the 
fort. Bands of Indians straggled around the buildings to gaze 
at the work of construction, beg for tobacco, and pilfer any 
unguarded tools that might be concealed under their blankets. 
The visits of the squaws and their papooses to the camp became 
so frequent and obnoxious that a heavier detail was required to 
mount guard by day to keep them away from the tents than was 
necessary by night. A detail of soldiers guarded the pit-sawyers 
at the pine grove on the north shore, who were engaged in cutting 
out the sawn lumber for roofs and floors. The Indians remained 
peaceable, but the sawyers' fears of them were easily excited. 
From this unpromising situation a real romance shortly developed. 
The disappearance of two of the Canadian pit-sawyers, who when 
last seen were in the company of an Indian, intensified the fears 
of their associates. Their anxiety was soon relieved by the 
reappearance of the men accompanied by two young squaws 
whom they had taken to wife. They had determined to take up 
their abode with a band of Indians residing on the Calumet, and 
had returned to demand their saws and the wages that were due 
them. Their requests were satisfied and they were allowed to 
depart, but not until the adjutant had read the marriage serv- 
ice to them and the garrison and workmen had celebrated the 
occasion with a holiday. 

A few months after the arrival of the garrison Major Long 
of the engineer department of the army, who was to acquire 
fame several years later as an explorer, came to Chicago in search 
of information for a topographical report which he was preparing 
on the region roughly corresponding to the modern states of 


Illinois and Indiana. 665 He found that the construction of the 
fort had been pushed with commendable industry, and reported 
that it would probably be brought to completion in the course 
of the following season. It was on a point of land formed by a 
bend in the river about eight hundred yards from its mouth. 
Curiously enough he reported that a more eligible site for the 
fort was afforded on the opposite side of the river, .on the point 
of land between it and the lake. This location would more 
completely command the entrance to the river, and would also 
command the anchorage to a considerable extent. Perhaps the 
reason for this dissent from the judgment of the officers who had 
located the first and second forts may be inferred from Long's 
recommendation that the position he approved should be fortified 
in a manner calculated to resist any naval force that might be 
brought against it. Evidently he had in contemplation the 
possibility of another war with Great Britain, while both the first 
and second Fort Dearborn were designed to afford protection 
against Indian attacks only. 

With the fort constructed and the garrison re-established, 
life at Chicago assumed in the main the aspects which it had 
borne before the massacre. Fort Dearborn was no longer, as in 
the old days, the farthest outpost of the United States in the 
Northwest, but it was still only an isolated wilderness station. 
Fort Wayne was the nearest post-office, and between this place 
and Chicago the mail was carried by foot soldiers once or twice 
a month. 666 Other agencies for maintaining connection with the 
outside world were few and irregular. The conduct of the 
business pertaining to the garrison and the operations connected 
with the prosecution of the fur trade were responsible for most 

* The report is printed in full in the National Register, III, 193-98. 

* In describing Chicago in 1818 Hubbard says (Life, 38) once a month. A report of 
the Post-Office Department, January 14, 1825 (American State Papers, Vol. XV, Post- 
Office Department, 136), shows that at that time the mail was carried between Fort Wayne 
and Green Bay once a month. J. Watson Webb, who was post adjutant at Fort Dearborn 
in 1821-22 states (Letter to John Wentworth, October 31, 1882) that he sent a sergeant 
and a private to Fort Wayne fortnightly to bring the mail for Chicago and Green Bay, and 
that a similar detail from the latter place was always on hand to receive and carry forward 
the mail destined for that place. 


of them. The provisions for the garrison were for the most part 
brought around the lakes in schooners, although the live stock 
destined to supply the soldiers with fresh meat was sometimes 
driven overland to Chicago. 667 The historian of Major Long's 
expedition reported in 1823 that the total annual lake trade of 
Chicago, including the transportation of supplies for the garrison, 
did not exceed the cargo of five or six schooners. 668 

The existence of war interrupted but did not entirely prevent 
the conduct of the Indian trade at Chicago. The business of 
the American traders was broken up, but their lives were safe, 
even in the midst of the slaughter which attended the massacre. 66 ' 
The winter following the massacre two French traders, Du Pain 
and Buisson, established themselves with a stock of goods in the 
abandoned house of John Kinzie. 670 What success they met 
with, or whether they returned in the following years, does not 
appear, but the needs of the Indians were supplied to some 
extent by Robert Dickson, whose plans for stirring up the north- 
western tribes against the Americans necessitated the sending of 
large quantities of goods to Chicago to distribute among his red 
allies. 671 The restoration of Fort Dearborn was the signal for 
the return of the American traders to Chicago. Among the 
early arrivals was John Crafts, the representative of a Detroit 

"' Keating, Expedition to the Source of St. Peter's River, I, 183. A letter from Captain 
Bradley of Fort Dearborn in the winter of 1816 (Drennan Papers, Bradley to McComb, 
December 3, 1816) announces that "a drove of hogs consisting of about three hundred 
recently arrived here for the contractor." At the time of the Chicago Treaty of 1821 two 
hundred head of cattle were driven from Brownstown to Chicago to supply fresh meat for 
the Indians in attendance on the negotiations (Schoolcraft, Travels in the Central Portions 
of the Mississippi Valley, 375). In June of this same year Rev. Isaac McCoy, while travel- 
ing from the mouth of the St. Joseph River to Fort Wayne, met a party engaged in driving 
cattle through the wilderness to Chicago (McCoy, History of Baptist Indian Missions, 

M * Keating, op. tit., I, 164. 

Kinzie and all his family passed through the massacre unscathed. Thomas 
Forsyth came to Chicago the day after the massacre and remained with the Kinzies 
several days (supra, note 632). 

Supra, note 613. Mrs. Kinzie gives the name as Du Pin (Wau Bun, 100). Her 
story of his rescue of Mrs. Lee and her baby from captivity and threatened matrimony at 
the hands of Black Partridge has already been told (p. 255). 

'" For a list of the goods to be sent from Mackinac to Chicago for Dickson at the 
opening of navigation in the spring of 1813 see Michigan Pioneer Collections, XV, 224. 


firm, who is said to have established himself at Chicago some 
time during the year i8i6. 672 His trading house was on the 
South Branch, not far from the Lee Cabin, where the murders 
of April, 1812, occurred. Crafts pursued his calling with success 
for several years, but the competition of the American Fur 
Company at last proved too strong, and in 1822 his establish- 
ment passed into its possession. Crafts became its employee 
at the same time, and continued to reside at Chicago until his 
death, several years later. 

John Kinzie's interest in the restoration of Fort Dearborn 
has already been noted. The exact date of his return to Chicago 
is uncertain, but it apparently occurred during the latter half 
of the year 1816. In an affidavit made September 14, 1816, 
Kinzie described himself as "of the city of Detroit." 673 The 
last entry in his account book at Detroit bears date of June 16, 
1816, and the first entry at Chicago occurs on January 10, follow- 
ing. 674 From the same source we learn that the revival of 
Kinzie's commercial activities at Chicago was coincident with 
the return of the garrison; for under date of June 13 occurs the 
invoice of a "Chicago Adventure," followed three days later by 
a second. The principal items of the first invoice are butter and 
whisky four kegs and ten pounds of the former, and two 
barrels, containing sixty-eight gallons, of the latter. The con- 
tents of the second invoice pertain wholly to live stock, the 
principal items being five head of oxen and a mare and colt. 

The Kinzie family was again established in the old home 
and the trader resumed his calling. He seems never to have 
recovered, however, the leading position as a trader which he 
held before the war. Within a few months after his return to 
Chicago he arranged with Varnum and Jouett to act as inter- 
preter for both the factory and the Indian agency, and relin- 

"On Crafts see Hurlbut, Chicago Antiquities, passim; Andreas, History of Chicago, 
Vol. I, passim. It is usually said that he was in the employ of Mack and Conant of Detroit, 
but Hurlbut suggests (Chicago Antiquities, 409) that Abraham Edwards was his employer. 

7j Copy of affidavit concerning the wounds received by Heald in the Chicago massacre, 
MS in possession of Mr. Wright Johnson of Rutherford, New Jersey. 

" Barry Transcript. 


quished his trade with the Indians. 675 He continued to act as 
interpreter for some time, and several years later, when Wolcott 
had succeeded Jouett as Indian agent at Chicago, Kinzie was 
appointed subagent, receiving separate compensation for each 
appointment. 676 In addition to his services with the govern- 
ment he again entered into the Indian trade during these years, 
part of the time on his own account, and later, according to 
Hubbard, as an employee of the American Fur Company. 677 

An important part of the life at Chicago in this period 
centered in the government Indian establishment, the restora- 
tion of which was coincident with the return of the garrison to 
Fort Dearborn. During the year 1815 Charles Jouett received 
the appointment of Indian agent, and Jacob B. Varnum was 
designated as factor. 6 '' 8 Jouett had been agent at Chicago for 
several years prior to the War of 1812, but had resigned in the 
year 1811 and settled in Mercer County, Kentucky. 679 He now 
returned to the government service and to his old position at 
Chicago. His residence during this second incumbency was a 
log house on the north side of the river, possibly the same house 
which had sheltered the Burns family in the period before the 
massacre. It was far from adequate to the needs of Jouett's 
family, and in 1817 he complained bitterly of it and of the 
indifference of the officers of the garrison concerning his plight. 680 
The house he described as "a little hut that a man of humanity 
would not suffer his negroes to live in." It was fourteen feet 
square, with but a single chair, which Jouett had brought with 
him from Kentucky, and there were nine persons in the family, 

'" Indian Department, Letter Book, Cass Correspondence, Kinzie to Cass, January 
25, 1817; Jouett to Cass, January 25, 1817. All of the Indian Department letter books to 
be cited are preserved in the Pension Building at Washington. 

*' 6 American State Papers, Indian Afairs, II, 365. 

'" Hurlbut, Chicago Antiquities, 31. 

" Wisconsin Historical Collections, XIX, 380-95. Jouett was first appointed agent 
at Green Bay and Colonel John Bowyer agent at Chicago; at Jouett's request, however, a 
change was made in the appointments, Jouett going as agent to Chicago and Bowyer to 
Green Bay (Wisconsin Historical Collections, XIX, 391-92, 399). 

6 ' On Jouett see Hurlbut, Chicago Antiquities, 102 ff.; Andreas, History of Chicago, 87. 

" Indian Department, Letter Book, Jouett to Cass, February i, 1817, 


including servants, to be accommodated. Jouett's indignant 
appeal produced little result, however. When Wolcott succeeded 
him as agent in 1819 he found the agency house a "mere shell," 
which necessitated rebuilding entirely to make it habitable. 681 

Jouett was a lawyer by training,- and both before and after his 
second residence at Chicago he held the office of judge, the first 
time in Kentucky, the second in Arkansas Territory. He was 
a man of remarkable physique, six feet three inches in height, 
broad-shouldered and muscular. Among the Indians he was 
known as "the White Otter," and it is said that he possessed a 
commanding influence over them. His daughter recalled in 
after years that the red men were frequent visitors at her father's 
home, and that the dusky callers were especially kind to the 
children, her sister and herself. Their nurse was an Indian girl, 
a faithful and devoted servant, who afterward married a soldier 
of the garrison. In 1819 Jouett again resigned the Indian 
agency and returned to Kentucky. His place was filled by the 
transfer to the Chicago agency of Doctor Alexander Wolcott, 
who had been appointed "Agent to the Lakes," in April, i8i8. 682 

Jacob B. Varnum, Chicago's only government factor after 
the War of 1812, belonged to an old and prominent New England 
family. 683 Through the family influence Varnum secured, when 
but twenty-three years of age, the appointment as government 
factor at Sandusky, Ohio. 684 He remained there until the news 
of Hull's surrender at Detroit, causing the precipitate retreat of 
the Ohio militia from Sandusky, compelled the abandonment of 
the factory. Varnum thereupon entered the army and served 
until the close of the war. On the return of peace, finding 
himself without an occupation, he applied for a position in the 

" Indian Department, Cass correspondence, Wolcott to Cass, January i, 1820. 

" Indian Office, Letter Book D, 241, Calhoun to Wolcott, April 22, 1818; ibid., 277, 
Calhoun to Wolcott, March 27, i8ig. 

*> For it see Varnum, The Varnums of Dracutt. James Mitchell Varnum was a 
brigadier-general during the Revolution. His brother, Joseph B. Varnum, was speaker 
of the lower house of Congress from 1807 to 1811, and United States senator from Massa- 
chusetts, from 1811 to 1817. 

68 < The account which follows is based upon the journal of Jacob B. Varnum. 


Department of Indian Trade, and in the summer of 1815 was 
appointed factor at Chicago. 

At this time it was the expectation of the department to 
establish the factory before the winter set in. 68s On receiving 
the news of his appointment Varnum set out for Erie by way of 
Buffalo, where he met Matthew Irwin, who had been factor at 
Chicago before the war and was now en route to establish the 
new factory at Green Bay. After a rough passage from Buffalo 
to Erie, in "a miserable apology for a schooner," the officials 
learned that the goods for the Indian trade, which were to have 
preceded them thither, had not arrived, and that the movement 
of the military to Chicago and Green Bay had been postponed 
to the following year. This involved the postponement of the 
establishment of the factories as well; nevertheless the naval 
commander at Erie resolved to take the goods, should they 
arrive in time, on to Mackinac that season, there to await the 
departure of the military expedition in the spring. Irwin there- 
upon returned to his home, while it was agreed that Varnum 
should go on to Mackinac in charge of the goods. 

Varnum's narrative of the autumn voyage through the lakes 
from Erie to Mackinac presents a vivid picture of the discom- 
forts and dangers of travel on the Great Lakes a century ago. 
The expedition consisted of two government vessels, the "Por- 
cupine" and the "Ghent." The naval officers considered them- 
selves insulted and degraded by the menial service of transport- 
ing merchandise. They therefore took no pains to protect the 
goods from ruin by water, and but little, apparently, to promote 
the comfort of the luckless factor. At Detroit a lady was given 
passage to Mackinac. In order to make room for her Varnum 
had to surrender the berth he had occupied thus far, and received 
in exchange for it one so near the bottom of the vessel that in 
rough weather the bilge water would spurt into it, keeping it 
wet most of the time. 

The commander was a "perfect tyrant," as far as his power 
extended, and Varnum avers that during the four weeks they 

" Varnum's Journal; Mason to Varnum, August 20, 1815, Wisconsin Historical 
Collections, XIX, 391-95- 


were together he witnessed the infliction of more severe and often 
undeserved punishments than during all the remainder of his 
life. The stories of the floggings meted out by the commander's 
orders sicken the reader, after the lapse of a century, as they did 
the helpless witness at the time. On the second day out the 
negro cook, with whom the commander professed he would not 
part for his weight in gold, was given a dozen lashes because his 
master conceived the meat was not sufficiently cooked. A sailor 
possessed of an undue propensity for liquor had been unmerci- 
fully flogged for getting drunk, and threatened with a hundred 
lashes upon a repetition of the offense. Notwithstanding this 
the offense was repeated. The delinquent was ordered stripped 
and lashed to the shrouds. Varnum went below to escape 
witnessing the scene. In due time the commander came down, 
raging because the culprit had borne the torture so stoically. 
After receiving a hundred lashes without uttering a groan the 
tyrant demanded of him a promise not to repeat the offense, 
under pain upon refusal of receiving a second hundred on his 
now raw and bloody back. The torture proceeded and seventeen 
lashes had been administered when the victim gave in, making 
the promise required and begging for mercy. At the entrance 
to Lake Huron the rapid current made it difficult for sailing 
vessels to steer an even course. Dissatisfied with the helmsman's 
efforts the commander ordered a fresh man to the wheel, and the 
one who had been relieved received a dozen lashes. The new 
steersman promptly encountered the same difficulty and was as 
promptly relieved and flogged; and this routine was kept up 
until every seaman on board had taken his turn at the wheel 
and received his quota of lashes before the vessel got into the lake. 
At Mackinac Varnum opened and dried the goods which had 
been wet, and then settled down to pass the long winter. Despite 
the extreme cold, and the desolation produced by the recent war, 
the winter's confinement proved to be one of the pleasantest 
periods of his whole life. He had a comfortable room with a 
good stove and plenty of firewood. The days were spent in 
reading, or, in pleasant weather, in excursions to the nets of the 


fishermen or elsewhere. The evenings were devoted to social 
amusements participated in by the merchants and the officers 
of the garrison. Among the latter were two brothers of Franklin 
Pierce, afterward President of the United States, one of whom, 
Captain Benjamin K. Pierce, wooed and married a half-breed 
French and Indian girl. 686 

Among the arrivals on the first vessel in the spring was a 
beautiful young woman from Detroit who came to visit her aunt. 
Varnum became enamored of her, and a romance began which 
was to culminate sadly enough at Chicago only a year later. 
The impression which the fair stranger made upon him was thus 
graphically set forth after the lapse of half a century: "She was 
a girl of polished manners, tall and graceful in her walk, and of 
striking symmetry of form. Her hair was auburn; her eyes 
dark blue, and remarkably transparent skin blended with a due 
proportion of red. I thought her in point of beauty quite equal 
to any lady I had seen." 

That the young girl's beauty had a real existence, apart from 
the imagination of the fond lover, is shown by the reminiscences 
of Mrs. Baird of her childhood days at Mackinac. After a lapse 
of seventy years she alluded to her as "a beautiful woman, who 
was married at Mackinac." 687 Three months after the first 
meeting the beautiful girl became Varnum's bride, the marriage 
being solemnized by Major Puthuff in the absence of any minister 
of the gospel at Mackinac. A few days later the couple embarked 
with the factory goods on the "Tiger" bound for Chicago, 
whither the troops under Captain Bradley had recently preceded 
them. On their arrival the skeleton of a log hut on the south 
side which had survived the destruction in 1812 was assigned to 
Varnum to serve both as a store and as a dwelling. It was about 
twenty feet square, a story and a half in height, and without a 
floor. Varnum caused a floor of puncheons to be laid, made of 
logs split out four or five inches thick and roughly hewed on the 
face, and procured the erection of a lean-to for a kitchen. A 

' Varnum's Journal; Wisconsin Historical Collections, XIV, 36, 40-41. 
Wisconsin Historical Collections, XIV, 26. 


large portion of the goods were stored in the loft, the remainder 
being deposited with Kinzie for retail purposes. 

In this hovel the brief period of the wedded life of the young 
couple was passed. According to the chronicler the winter 
passed "pleasantly enough." But for him there was the diver- 
sion of his business, and for recreation he indulged in frequent 
hunting excursions. For the young wife no relief from the lonely 
monotony and the grinding hardship of such an existence was 
possible. With the coming of spring she fell ill from approaching 
maternity. They had no servants, and there was no possibility 
of procuring any, but fortunately Mrs. Varnum's sister came on 
a visit and afforded assistance during the time of trouble. In 
June, 1817, the birth occurred, but the child was stillborn, and 
the trial killed the mother. The simple words of the husband 
written long afterward may well be permitted to terminate our 
recital of the pathetic tragedy: "Its long suffering mother 
survived but a few moments. Thus was I bereft of a beloved 
wife and the anticipated hope of a family. The mother with 
the child in her arms was buried a few yards from my house, 
where they rested when I left Chicago, 1822." 

Two years passed, when Varnum joined a horseback party on 
a trip to Detroit. With the hot season the Indian trade ceased 
and the recreation of hunting was suspended. Diversions wholly 
failed, and the principal occupation consisted in fighting mosqui- 
toes. The journey would involve a ride of seven hundred miles in 
fly time, yet Varnum gladly entered upon it to escape the deadly 
monotony of life at Chicago. Aside from Varnum the party con- 
sisted of Major Baker, John Dean, who had come to Chicago 
as an army contractor in 1816, and a guide. The route taken was 
by way of Fort Wayne and thence down the Maumee River and 
on to Detroit. The destination was reached after eleven days of 
travel, Varnum making his entry into Detroit after nightfall, cov- 
ered with mud from head to foot as the result of being thrown 
from his horse into a swamp almost at the end of the journey. 

Detroit was at that time a small village where each person 
interested himself in the affairs of all the rest. Upon the arrival 


of Varnum with no ostensible business the ready conclusion was 
reached that he had come in search of a wife. Although he 
denied such an intention, within two months he confirmed the 
expectation of the villagers by contracting a second marriage 
alliance. In the autumn of 1819 he embarked with his wife 
and her sister on a schooner for Chicago. The weather was 
pleasant and the company jovial. Arrived at Chicago the new 
wife began housekeeping under more favorable circumstances 
than her predecessor had done. The soldiers had constructed 
a new dwelling for the factor, under Varnum's superintendence; 
Mrs. Varnum had brought with her two servants, and the society 
of the place had improved somewhat. Several of the officers 
had brought on their families, and a spirit of friendliness and 
sociability prevailed, evening parties with dancing and other 
amusements being frequently held. 

Among the inhabitants of Chicago during this period were 
several who had figured prominently in the massacre of 1812. 
About the time of Kinzie's return came Lieutenant Helm and 
his wife. 688 In 1817 they were living on the south side of the 
river in a small square house without a floor. 689 In lieu of this 
a tarpaulin was spread down, and tarpaulin was also hung about 
the walls. No one has taken the trouble, apparently, to record 
the duration of this domestic establishment. Mrs. Helm con- 
tinued a resident of Chicago for many years, and frequent men- 
tion of her later doings is made by the family historian in the 
pages of Wau Bun. No mention of Lieutenant Helm occurs, 
however, and even the fact of his existence is ignored. The 
reason for this silence is perhaps revealed by certain court records 
of Peoria County, within whose boundaries Chicago was for a 
time included. These show that in 1829 Helm was still living, 
residing, apparently, in Clay County, Illinois. 6 " In October 
of this year Mrs. Helm received a divorce from him together with 
alimony and the custody of their child. 

" Helm's name appears in Kinzie's account book in January, 1817, and again in 
January, 1818. 

Recollections of Mrs. Baird, Wisconsin Historical Collections, XIV, 26. 
McCulloch, Early Days of Peoria and Chicago, 108. 


To what extent Jean Baptiste Chandonnai made Chicago 
his home in the period of the second Fort Dearborn is also 
somewhat uncertain. It is related by Mrs. Baird that he was 
here in the employ of Kinzie shortly after the return of the troops, 
and his wife, coming to join him, was a passenger from Mackinac 
on the same schooner which brought Mrs. Baird and her mother 
to Chicago. The date of this visit is given as 1816, though it 
seems probable it actually occurred the following year. During 
the next few years Chandonnai was engaged in the fur trade in 
the region tributary to Chicago. 691 What the Indians received 
from him hi exchange for their furs is perhaps sufficiently 
indicated by a consignment of goods sent to him from Mackinac, 
September 19, 1818, consisting of four barrels of whisky and six 
barrels of flour. Evidently the order had called for a larger 
quantity of fire-water, for the consignment was accompanied by 
the explanation that no more liquor could be promised because 
of its dearness and "uncommon scarcity." The next year 
Chandonnai betrayed the confidence reposed in him by the 
American Fur Company, by selling his furs to John Crafts and 
refusing to pay the company for the merchandise with which 
he had procured them. 692 The latter appealed to Kinzie to exert 
his influence in its behalf. That he did so with good effect seems 
evident from a later letter expressing gratitude for his exertions 
in securing the payment of a portion of the claim against Chan- 
donnai. The writer urges a continuance of these efforts, and asks 
if a mortgage cannot be secured on the lands granted to Chan- 
donnai by the Indians. What was, apparently, the sequel to 
this claim appeared fourteen years later in a clause of the Chicago 
Treaty of 1833. Among the grants of money made to individuals 
was the sum of two thousand five hundred dollars to Chan- 
donnai, one thousand of which "by the particular request" of 
the latter was to be paid to Robert Stuart, agent of the American 
Fur Company. 

See on this point the letters of Ramsey Crooks printed in Andreas, History of 
Chicago, I, 94-95. 
"Ibid., I, 95- 


Perhaps the most picturesque character in the little group 
of civilian residents of Chicago in the decade which began with 
the restoration of Fort Dearborn was Jean Baptiste Beaubien. 
He was descended from an old Canadian family, one of whose 
members is said to have been a follower of La Salle. About the 
middle of the eighteenth century a branch of the family estab- 
lished itself at Detroit, where the future citizen of Chicago was 
born in the year lySy. 693 He early engaged in the Indian trade, 
and according to the custom of the time married a squaw. He 
is said to have had a daughter born at Chicago as early as 1805, 
but the details both of his early migrations and of his marriage 
alliances are rather hazy. In 1814 he married Josette La Fram- 
boise, who was a servant in the family of John Kinzie at the 
time of the massacre. How soon after this Beaubien made 
Chicago his permanent place of residence is not certainly 
known, but in 1817 he purchased a house of John Dean, the 
army contractor, and thenceforth continued to reside on the 
Fort Dearborn reservation until, in the early thirties, his at- 
tempt to gain title to it precipitated the struggle over the 
Beaubien Land Claim which became famous in the annals of 
early Chicago. 

An interesting feature of the life of Chicago and the adjoining 
region during the period under consideration was afforded by the 
periodical visits of the Illinois "brigade" of the American Fur 
Company. From its headquarters at Mackinac each autumn 
a number of trading outfits departed for the various trading 
posts scattered throughout the Northwest. Each brigade was 
composed of voyageurs organized into boat crews, the number 
of the latter varying with the importance of the station which 
constituted the destination of the brigade. 694 The goods were 
transported in bateaux, each manned by half a dozen men and 
carrying about three tons of merchandise. The Illinois brigade 
consisted of a dozen boats carrying, including the families of the 
traders, about a hundred persons. 

> Beaubien family genealogy, MS in Chicago Historical Society library. 

'< On the operations of the American Fur Company see Hubbard, Life, passim. 


Each autumn for a number of years this fleet made its way 
from Mackinac down the eastern shore of Lake Michigan and 
around its southern end to Chicago. From the south branch of 
the river the boats and goods were forced at the expense of much 
toil and hardship across the portage and down the Des Plaines 
until navigable water was reached on the Illinois River. Here 
the brigade broke up, small parties going to the various trading 
stations of the Illinois and its tributaries, and the winter was 
passed in bartering the goods for the furs of the Indians. With 
the opening of navigation in the spring the outfit reassembled 
and the return journey to Mackinac was begun. The boats, now 
laden with furs, were forced up the Illinois and the Des Plaines, 
the difficulty on the latter stream arising now from the excess of 
water, rather than from its scarcity, and the labor of stemming 
the raging current of the swollen stream. The remainder of the 
journey from Chicago, around the lake to Mackinac, was made 
with comparative ease. 

We are indebted to the recollections of Gurdon S. Hubbard 
for an intimate picture of the life and activities of the traders 
who composed the Illinois brigade. Hubbard first visited the 
Illinois country as a youth of sixteen in the autumn of 1818. 
Approaching Chicago, the brigade spent the night at the mouth 
of the Little Calumet River. At dawn the party set out, in 
holiday attire and with flags flying, upon the last twelve miles 
of the lake voyage. At Douglas Grove young Hubbard landed, 
and climbing a tree gazed in wonder upon the first prairie he had 
ever beheld. In the foreground was a sea of waving grass, inter- 
mingled with a profusion of wild flowers; in the distance the 
groves of timber at Blue Island and along the Des Plaines 
River. A herd of wild deer appeared in view, while a pair of 
red foxes emerged from the grass within gunshot of the enrap- 
tured youth. To the northward could be seen the whitewashed 
walls of Fort Dearborn sparkling in the sunlight, while on the 
blue surface of the lake the brawny voyageurs urged onward 
the fleet of bateaux, their flashing oars keeping time with the 
music of the boat song. 


Descending from his observation point, Hubbard made his 
way toward the fort, and found the traders encamped on the 
north side of the river to the west of Kinzie's house. Here he 
was entertained and a firm friendship between him and the 
Kinzie family soon developed. The young visitor was to return 
to Chicago frequently during the following years, until in 1834 
he made it his permanent home and shortly became one of the 
foremost citizens of the struggling but optimistic young city. 

Interesting glimpses of the manner of life in and around the 
new Fort Dearborn are afforded by the accounts of travelers 
who occasionally visited this frontier station. The reception of 
Storrow at Fort Dearborn in 1817, "as one arrived from the 
moon," has already been mentioned. 695 Storrow was greatly 
impressed with the strategic advantages possessed by Chicago, 
which he thus early pointed out marked it as the future place of 
deposit for the whole region of the upper lakes. 696 He described 
the climate and soil as excellent, although not all visitors of this 
early period agree with him in this opinion. At the time of his 
visit traces of the massacre yet remained, and Storrow encoun- 
tered one of the "principal perpetrators," Nuscotnemeg, or the 
Mad Sturgeon. 

From the pen of Mrs. Baird, whose visit to Chicago was 
probably made in the same year as that of Storrow, we get a more 
detailed description. 697 The vessel which transported her from 
Mackinac had for its cargo "the familiar load of pork, flour, and 
butter." There were no ports of call on the western side of Lake 
Michigan, and the master after seeking in vain at Chicago for a 
return cargo had finally to take on a ballast of sand and gravel. 
Mrs. Baird draws a pleasant picture of the household of her host, 
John Kinzie. The establishment included a number of "men 
and women retainers." There was as yet no bridge across the 
river, the only means of passage being a canoe or dugout, as in 
the days before the massacre. In this craft, with the two Kinzie 

s Supra, p. 153. 

<> Wisconsin Historical Collections, VI, 183-84. 

' Ibid., XIV, 25 fi. 


children, eight and ten years of age, acting as her crew, Mrs. 
Baird first crossed the Chicago River. 

In the summer of 1820 Governor Cass of Michigan Territory, 
returning from a voyage of exploration to the sources of the 
Mississippi River, arrived in mid-August at Chicago with a 
party of sixteen men in two canoes. 698 At Chicago the party 
separated. Cass with several attendants proceeded on horse- 
back along the Indian trail to Detroit, while the scientists of 
the expedition, Captain Douglas and Henry R. Schoolcraft, 
completed the circuit of Lake Michigan by continuing around 
its eastern shore to Mackinac. Schoolcraft, like Storrow, was 
greatly impressed with the natural advantages possessed by 
Chicago, and predicted for it a glowing future. With the extin- 
guishment of the Indian title to the surrounding country immi- 
gration would flow in, and Chicago would become the depot 
for the inland commerce between the northern and southern 
sections of the Union, and "a great thoroughfare for strangers, 
merchants, and travelers." 

No little discernment was requisite thus to perceive the 
future destiny of the rude frontier hamlet which according to 
Schoolcraft's estimate contained, exclusive of the military, but 
ten or a dozen houses and a population of sixty souls. Quite 
different from Schoolcraft's description was that of the historian 
of Major Long's expedition to the sources of the St. Peter's 
River three years later. 6 " He described the climate as inhos- 
pitable, the soil sterile, and the scenery monotonous and unin- 
viting. The village consisted of a few huts of log or bark, low, 
filthy, and disgusting, displaying not the least trace of comfort, 
and inhabited by "a miserable race of men," scarcely equal to 
the Indians from whom they were descended. Nor could the 
chronicler perceive the brilliant future in store for Chicago which 
Schoolcraft had foretold. He granted that "at some distant 
day," when the country between the Wabash and the Mississippi 

'' For an account of the expedition see Schoolcraft, Narrative Journal of Travels from 
Detroit . ... to the Sources of the Mississippi River in 1820. 

<" Keating, Expedition to the Source of St. Peter's River, I, 163-65. 


should become populated, Chicago might become a point in the 
line of communication between the Great Lakes and the Mis- 
sissippi; but even the intercourse which would be carried on 
through this channel would, he thought, be at all times a limited 

From September, 1821, until June, 1823, the commander of 
Fort Dearborn was Lieutenant-colonel John McNeil. 700 Colonel 
McNeil was a man of interesting personality in many ways. 
Physically he was the rival of General Scott for being the tallest 
and heaviest man in the army, and the equal in size of "Long 
John" Wentworth, Chicago's well-known editor, mayor, and 
congressman. 701 He was a soldier of the War of 1812, during the 
course of which he was twice brevetted for gallant conduct, the 
first time in the battle of Chippewa and the second in the battle 
of Niagara. 702 Mrs. McNeil was a half-sister of Franklin Pierce, 
later President of the United States. She was described over 
half a century later, by one who as a young soldier had come 
under her influence, as a "most estimable woman," whose 
kindness and wise counsels had had a beneficial influence on his 
whole life. 703 For a daughter born to Mrs. McNeil at Fort 
Dearborn the father subsequently claimed the distinction of 
having been the first child born in the new fort. 704 Their only 
son, Lieutenant J. Winfield Scott McNeil, who died in 1837 of 
wounds received in a battle with the Seminole Indians, 705 was a 
young boy during the time his father was stationed at Fort 

James Watson Webb, who later acquired national renown as 
editor, politician, and diplomat, was stationed at Fort Dearborn 
as a young lieutenant during a part of the period of McNeil's 
incumbency as commander. The descendant of an old New 

* Drennan Papers, Fort Dearborn post returns. 

"> Wentworth, Early Chicago, 24-25. In 1857 Wentworth was said to be the tallest 
man in Chicago, measuring about six feet and a half and weighing two hundred and thirty 
pounds (Chicago Magazine, I, 399). 

Heitman, Dictionary of the United States Army, I, 679. 

Van Cleve, Three Score Years and Ten, 31. 

Wentworth, Early Chicago, 24. ' Ibid., Heitman, op. cit., I, 679. 


York family, Webb ran away from home at the age of seventeen, 
and going to Washington secured as the result of a personal inter- 
view with Calhoun, then Secretary of War, a commission in the 
army. In October, 1821, he joined the Fort Dearborn garrison 
and remained here until the following June. Webb's service 
at Fort Dearborn was marked by a bold and arduous exploit. 
Toward the end of January, 1822, John Kinzie, who was then 
acting as sub-Indian agent, communicated to Colonel McNeil 
information which he had received from a friendly Chippewa 
chief of a plot on the part of the Sioux and Fox Indians to over- 
whelm the garrison at Fort Snelling on the upper Mississippi 
the following spring. 706 It was desirable to send word to Fort 
Armstrong of the plot, from which place the news could be 
forwarded up the Mississippi to Fort Snelling. Lieutenant 
Webb, though barely twenty years of age, volunteered for this 
service. Accompanied by a sergeant and a Pottawatomie guide, 
he set out on February 4, intending to proceed to the post of a 
French trader on the Rock River and there secure a Winnebago 
guide for the remainder of the trip. Upon reaching there, how- 
ever, he found the Winnebagoes celebrating their war dance. 
To secure a guide from them was out of the question. During 
the night Webb and his companion set out, ostensibly to return 
to Chicago, but in reality to make their way across the prairie 
to Fort Armstrong. The weather was bitterly cold and they 
were exposed to the double danger of death from freezing and of 
being intercepted by the Indians. Neither materialized, how- 
ever, and in due time Webb's message was delivered to the 
commander at Fort Armstrong. 

In May, 1823, an order was issued from Washington for the 
evacuation of Fort Dearborn, and the following autumn the 
garrison departed. 707 Doctor Alexander Wolcott, who had 
succeeded Jouett as Indian agent at Chicago, continued to serve 

rod For Webb's account of the affair see his letter to John Wentworth, October 31, 
1882, in Chicago Historical Society library, and Andrews, Biographical Sketch of James 
Watson Webb, 11-15. For Kinzie's report of the plot to Cass, February i, 1822, see Indian 
Department, Cass correspondence. 

Wentworth, Early Chicago, 47; Drennan Papers, Fort Dearborn post returns. 


in this capacity until his death in 1830. In July, 1823, he 
married Ellen Marion, the eldest daughter of John Kinzie's 
second family, 708 and upon the removal of the garrison took up 
his residence in the fort. The circumstances of Wolcott's 
marriage well illustrate the primitive conditions which prevailed 
at Chicago in this period. There was no justice of the peace, 
minister of the gospel, or other person at Chicago authorized 
to solemnize marriages. It chanced that William S. Hamilton, 
son of the famous statesman, Alexander Hamilton, who had 
adopted a roving life in the wilderness of northern Illinois, had 
taken a contract to supply the garrison at Fort Howard with beef 
cattle. John Hamlin, one of the early residents of Peoria who 
held a commission as justice of the peace, had accompanied 
Hamilton on a trip to Green Bay with a drove of cattle. On 
the return journey he reached Chicago about July 20, and 
advantage was taken of his presence by the prospective bride 
and groom to have their marriage ceremony performed. 

With the garrison departed most of the life at Chicago. 
During the next few years little occurred to interrupt the monoto- 
nous course of existence. Rarely a new settler, attracted by 
the presence of relatives who had gone before, or lured westward 
by the hope of improving his material condition, would direct 
his steps to Chicago. Periodically the Indians, who still held 
possession of the country tributary to Chicago, would assemble 
to receive their annuities, the payment of which had been stipu- 
lated in various treaties. At such times the place teemed with 
savages and excitement for a few days, during which the traders 
reaped a golden harvest. Finally in 1827 occurred the Winne- 
bago War, which for a time furnished plenty of excitement for 
Chicago, and led eventually to the reoccupation of Fort Dearborn 
by a garrison of United States troops. 

;' McCulloch, Early Days of Peoria and Chicago, gg. 



To omit from the history of early Chicago an account of the 
Indian trade would be like giving the play of Hamlet with the 
principal character left out. Its origin is coeval with the advent 
of the white man in this region; and until almost the close of the 
period covered by this volume it constituted the basis of the com- 
merce of the region tributary to the upper Great Lakes and the 
Mississippi Basin. With the advance of the settler into the 
Northwest the wild game receded before him ; and its disappear- 
ance marked the passing of the Indian trade, soon to be followed 
by the red man himself. As a rule, the first white man to pene- 
trate the wilderness was the trader, and the Indian's conception 
of the white race was based upon his intercourse with the traders, 
the class of whites with whom he was most familiar. Upon these 
he was dependent for the gun, ammunition, and other supplies 
which quickly became essential to his existence ; and most of the 
problems which grew out of the contact of the two races centered 
around the conduct of the Indian trade. 

As early as 1675, Marquette found French traders had 
entered Illinois and established themselves below Chicago, in the 
vicinity, apparently, of the junction of the Des Plaines River 
with the Kankakee. 709 Thus early, too, certain of the Indians 
themselves had turned traders, and Marquette was attended, on 
his second visit to Illinois, by a party of Illinois Indians who 
were returning from Canada with merchandise to trade with the 
members of their own race for furs. 710 One of the party, named 
Chachagwessiou, was "greatly esteemed" among his nation 
because, in part at least, he was engaged in the fur trade; and 
this, in spite of the fact that he and his associates subjected their 
kinsmen to the same extortion as did the white traders. That it 

"> Jesuit Relations, LIX, 175 ff. " Ibid., LIX, 165, 167, 175 el passim. 



was primarily for the sake of the fur trade that the French valued 
the country is a fact easily demonstrable. The economic 
foundation of La Salle's colony was the Indian trade which he 
expected to develop. For its exclusive possession he sought and 
obtained the royal license, and against interlopers upon his 
privileged monopoly he waged relentless warfare. With his 
death the license to carry on trade at Fort St. Louis passed to 
his faithful lieutenant, Tonty. For many years from his lofty 
stronghold he continued to trade with the Indians of the sur- 
rounding region. But the French government looked upon the 
enterprise with a jealous eye, and early in the eighteenth century 
at its request Tonty's establishment at the rock of St. Louis was 
abandoned and he himself departed for lower Louisiana, where he 
shortly met his death. 

During the greater part of the eighteenth century there was, 
as far as known, no civilized establishment at Chicago. That 
traders may have established themselves here for a shorter or 
longer time is entirely possible, but there was no regular French 
post here as has often been stated. Until the end of the French 
regime the trade of the territory around Chicago found outlet at 
the neighboring posts. The nearest of these was St. Joseph, but 
there were others at Mackinac, Green Bay, Ouiatanon, and in 
the French settlements of lower Illinois. 7 " 

The first trading establishment at Chicago of which we have 
any certain knowledge was that of Baptiste Point du Sable in the 
latter years of the eighteenth century. Hugh Reward, who in 
1790 passed from Lake Michigan by way of the Chicago Portage 
to the Illinois, tarried at Chicago a day to prepare for the 
further journey. He exchanged his canoe for a pirogue belonging 
to Du Sable, and bought from him a quantity of flour and pork, 
for which he gave in exchange thirteen yards of cotton cloth. 712 
How long Du Sable continued to reside here or how extensive was 
his trade is somewhat conjectural. It is evident that during the 

" For the posts of the interior and their trade, toward the close of the French regime, 
see Bougainville's memoir in Wisconsin Historical Collections, XVIII, 167 ff. 

'" Heward, Journal. 


closing years of the century the St. Joseph traders, Burnett and 
Kinzie, at times extended their trading operations around the lake 
as far as Chicago. It is evident, too, from the fact that when the 
garrison came in 1803 there were four traders' huts here, that still 
other traders had established themselves at Chicago for a shorter 
or longer period. 713 

So far as existing records are concerned, the first quarter of 
the nineteenth century marks the heyday of the Indian trade 
at Chicago. The establishment of the garrison here not only 
attracted traders and others, as in the case of Kinzie, but it also 
resulted in the handing down of more numerous and extensive 
accounts of the trading activities of this region than had ever 
been done before. Perhaps the most important private source of 
information for the period prior to 1812 is the transcript of names 
in Kinzie's account books. 714 Far overshadowing this in impor- 
tance for the whole period from 1805 to 1822, however, are the 
records of the Department of Indian Trade, which maintained a 
government factory at Chicago. 

The trading operations of Kinzie during the first period of his 
residence at Chicago were evidently of considerable importance. 
An entry at St. Joseph in April, 1804, less than a month before 
the removal to Chicago, shows that the sum of two hundred and 
forty-five pounds was invested in a single " adventure " at Peoria. 
That similar enterprises were being simultaneously conducted 
appears from an entry a week later concerning "Billy Caldwell's 
adventure." At Chicago, in addition to the trade he himself 
conducted and the " ad ventures" he financed, Kinzie was in 
partnership with his half-brother, Thomas Forsyth, during the 
entire period prior to 1812. Although the articles of indenture 
of Jeffrey Nash describe Kinzie and Forsyth as "Merchants of 
Chicago," 715 Forsyth was stationed at Peoria until his establish- 
ment was broken up by Captain Craig's militia in the late 
autumn of 1812. In Kinzie's account book under date of June 13, 

" See in this connection the letters of William Burnett, the St. Joseph trader, in 
Hurlbut, Chicago Antiquities, 49-70, passim. 

" Barry Transcript. " Supra, p. 150-52. 


1806, settlements with four individuals, amounting in all to 
fourteen hundred and thirty-one pounds, are noted. The names 
of these men, Sigrain, Bourbonnais, LaVoy, and Maisonneuf, 
furnish a typical illustration of the nationality of the men who 
conducted the Illinois fur trade in the first decade of the nine- 
teenth century. 

Some individual entries taken at random from Kinzie's ac- 
count books may be of interest as showing the prices that pre- 
vailed at Chicago a century ago. Thirty bushels of corn sold in 
1805 for forty-five dollars. The same year, however, two bushels 
were sold by Kinzie to Ramsey Crooks for five dollars. Another 
entry for 1806 states that tobacco sold at fifty cents a pound; 
whisky at fifty cents a quart; powder at $1.50 a pound; and 
shot at thirty- three cents a pound. In May of this year butter 
was quoted at fifty cents, the same price which Kinzie paid at 
Detroit ten years later for a shipment of ten pounds sent on his 
first Chicago adventure after the return of the garrison to Fort 
Dearborn. This same "adventure" included two barrels of 
whisky invoiced at ten shillings or $1.25 a gallon. A compari- 
son of this with the selling price already noted of fifty cents a 
quart would seem to indicate that the profit from the sale of fire- 
water proceeded mainly from the dilution of it with water, which 
the traders customarily practiced. Returning to 1806, flour is 
priced at ten cents a pound, while the pay of six boatmen, hired 
to assist in pulling a trader's craft up the river, is fifty cents a day. 
In 1810 raisins sold for four shillings and tea for twenty shillings 
a pound; while the price of " i tyson" which Jouett ordered was 
thirty shillings. "A silver brooch for six rats," "2 large silver 
crosses, $7.50," and "Francis Bourbonnae Dr. to i negro wench 
sold him by Indenture 160" are entries which suggest their 
own explanation. 

It seems evident that the fur trade of Illinois in the period 
under consideration was of considerable magnitude. "I had no 
idea of there being so extensive a trade carried on in that quar- 
ter," wrote Colonel Kingsbury to Captain Whistler in the fall of 
1804, in reply to an inventory which the latter had sent him of 


peltries passing Fort Dearborn the preceding spring. 716 The 
operations of Kinzie and Forsyth could have constituted but a 
small part of the fur trade of Illinois at this period. In the spring 
of 1805 Kingsbury was himself at Chicago, seeking to conduct a 
company of soldiers down the Illinois River to establish a new 
fort near the mouth of the Missouri. 717 Whistler had been 
ordered to secure suitable boats for the transportation of the 
detachment, but his efforts to do so had been unavailing. Upon 
Kingsbury's arrival at Chicago, however, he succeeded in secur- 
ing two traders' bateaux on condition that the goods, amounting 
to one hundred packs of peltry and ten bags, should be trans- 
ported to Mackinac in the brig "Adams," which had brought the 
troops to Chicago. A few entries from Kinzie's account book 
will serve further to show the extent of the trade which passed 
through Chicago. June 14, 1806, Ouilmette is charged with the 
hire of a wagon and oxen to transport a trader's goods to the 
forks of the Illinois River. Three weeks later Hugh Pattinson 
and Company become indebted to Kinzie for the labor of four men 
for six days each pulling boats up the river, and at the same time 
for the portage of one hundred and fifty-six packs of peltries. In 
July, 1807, Kinzie transported forty-six packs across the portage 
for James Aird, and in the same month on two occasions trans- 
ported enough for Auguste Chouteau to incur charges of almost 
forty pounds. A similar entry in July, 1808, charges Chouteau 
with two hundred and fifty-six dollars for carrying one hundred 
and twenty-eight packs from Mount Joliet to Chicago. 

The government factory or trading house constituted a not- 
able feature of the Indian trade at Chicago after 1805. The 
policy of the government toward the red man which found 
expression in the factory system was fraught with such signifi- 
cance, not only for the Indian trade, but also for the larger subject 
of the relations between the two races, that it seems desirable at 

Kingsbury Papers, Whistler to Kingsbury, August 14, 1804; Kingsbury to Whistler, 
September 10, 1804. 

'" For this expedition see ibid., Gushing to Kingsbury, February 20, 1805; Kingsbury 
to Smith, June 2, 1805; Smith to Kingsbury, June i, 1805; Kingsbury to Brevoort, June 2, 
1805; Kingsbury to Williamson, July 10, 1805, et passim. 


this point to present a somewhat comprehensive account of it. 
The origin of the policy of government trading houses dates from 
the early colonial period. In the Plymouth and Jamestown 
settlements all industry was at first controlled by the common- 
wealth, and in Massachusetts -Bay the stock company had re- 
served to itself the trade in furs before leaving England. 718 In 
the last-named colony a notable experiment was carried on during 
the first half of the eighteenth century in conducting "truck 
houses" for the Indians. About the close of this period 
Benjamin Franklin, whose attention had been called to the abuses 
which the Indians of the Pennsylvania frontier suffered at the 
hands of the private traders, investigated the workings of the 
Massachusetts system and recommended the establishment of 
public trading houses at suitable places along the frontier. 719 

The first step toward a national system of Indian trading 
establishments was taken during the opening throes of the 
Revolution. The establishment of friendly relations with the 
Indians appeared to the second Continental Congress a matter of 
the "utmost moment." 720 Accordingly it was resolved, July 12, 
1775, to establish three Indian departments, a northern, a middle, 
and a southern, with appropriate powers for supervising the rela- 
tions of the United Colonies with the Indians. In November of 
the same year a committee, of which Franklin was a member, was 
directed to devise a plan for carrying on trade with the Indians, 
and ways and mean for procuring the goods proper for it. 721 

Acting upon the report of this committee, in January, 1776, 
the Congress adopted a series of resolutions outlining a general 
system of governmental supervision of the Indian trade, and 
appropriating the sum of forty thousand pounds to purchase 
goods for it. 722 These were to be disposed of by licensed traders, 
acting under instructions laid down by the commissioners, and 

" Turner, Indian Trade in Wisconsin, 58. 

" Franklin, Works, II, 221. The letter is not certainly by Franklin, but he is sup- 
posed to have been its author. See ibid., 217, footnote. 

' Journals of the Continental Congress, II, 174. 

' Ibid., Ill, 350, 365, 366. 7 ibid., IV, go-o8. 


under bond to them to insure compliance with the prescribed 
regulations. The following month Congress further manifested 
its good intentions toward the native race by passing resolutions 
expressing its faith in the benefits to accrue from the propagation 
of the gospel and the civil arts among the red men, and directing 
the commissioners of Indian affairs to report suitable places in 
their departments for establishing schoolmasters and ministers of 
the gospel. 723 Owing to the exigencies of the war, however, these 
plans for the establishment of a trading system and for the 
civilization of the Indians were alike frustrated. The struggle 
with the mother country absorbed all the energies and resources 
of the Revolutionary government. How this affected the prose- 
cution of the plans for the Indian Departments, which had been 
entered upon so hopefully in the beginning of the war, is suffi- 
ciently shown by the fact that the expenses of the government 
in behalf of the Indians fell from two hundred and sixty-one 
thousand dollars in 1776 to thirty-five hundred dollars in 1779; 
and the total amount for the five years from 1779 to 1783 inclu- 
sive was less than one- tenth the sum spent in the single year 
I776. 724 

During the period of the Confederation the subject of the 
Indian trade was frequently acted upon by Congress, but no 
systematic effort was made to regulate it until 1786. In that 
year an ordinance was passed dividing the Indian Department 
into two districts and appointing a superintendent and a deputy 
for each. 725 They were to execute the regulations of Congress 
relating to Indian affairs, and to grant licenses to trade with the 
Indians. Only citizens of the United States whose good moral 
character had been certified to by the governor of a state were 
eligible to licenses; they were to run for one year and to be 
granted upon the payment of fifty dollars and the execution of a 

iIbid., IV, in. 

" American State Papers, Indian Affairs, II, 210. The sum spent in 1776 was 
$261,783.44; for the five years from 1779 to 1783 inclusive it was $25,641.34. 

' For a sketch of the relations of the government with the Indians see the report of 
Calhoun, Secretary of War, to Congress in 1816 (American State Papers, Indian Affairs, II, 
181 ff.); for the act of 1786 see ibid., I, 14. 


bond to insure compliance with the established regulations. To 
engage in trade without a license incurred a penalty of five 
hundred dollars and forfeiture of goods. 

This was, apparently, a judicious system, but the government 
of the Confederation had about run its course, and the general 
paralysis which overtook it, and the confusion incident to the 
change to a new form of government, prevented the new policy 
toward the Indians from being carried into effect. Prominent 
among the problems which the new national government found 
pressing upon it for solution was the subject of Indian relations 
and, in this connection, the question of the regulation of the 
Indian trade. In 1790 the licensing system of 1786 was tempo- 
rarily adopted, but shorn of some of its valuable features. There 
was no prohibition against foreigners and no fee was required for 
a license. This system was continued without essential change 
until 1816, when an act was passed prohibiting foreigners from 
trading with Indians of the United States, except by special per- 
mission of the President and under such regulations as he should 

The young government shortly entered upon the most serious 
Indian war in all its history, and not until one of its armies had 
been repulsed and another destroyed did Anthony Wayne suc- 
ceed, in 1795, in bringing the hostile red men to recognize the 
superior might of the nation he represented. At the close of this 
war Congress, at the instigation of Washington, determined to 
experiment with another system of conducting the Indian trade. 
In the session of 1795, stirred up by the repeated recommenda- 
tions of Washington, that body debated a bill for the establish- 
ment of Indian trading houses. 726 Though the bill was defeated 
at this time its purpose as stated by its supporters is worth 
noting. It was regarded as constituting a part only of a com- 
prehensive frontier policy; this policy embraced the threefold 
design of the military protection of the frontier against Indian 
invasions, the legal protection of the Indian country against 
predatory white incursions, and the establishment of trading 

" Annals of Congress, 3d Congress, 1262-63. 


houses to supply the wants of the Indians and free them from 
foreign influence. It was believed that these three things em- 
braced in one system would bring about the great desideratum, 
peace on the frontier; but that without the last the other parts 
of the plan would prove totally ineffectual. 

The defeat of the advocates of the system of government 
trading houses in 1795 was neither final nor complete. Their 
principal measure had failed of passage, but at this same session 
Congress appropriated the sum of fifty thousand dollars to begin 
the establishment of public trading houses, 727 and two were 
accordingly started among the Cherokees, Creeks, and Chicka- 
saws of the Southwest. The next year a second act was passed, 
carrying an appropriation of one hundred and fifty thousand 
dollars, in addition to an annual allowance for the payment of 
agents and clerks. 728 The President was authorized to establish 
trading houses at such places as he saw fit for carrying on a 
"liberal trade" with the Indians. The agents and clerks 
employed were prohibited from engaging in trade on their own 
account, and were required to give bonds for the faithful per- 
formance of their duties. The act was to run for two years, and 
the trade was to be so conducted that the capital sum should 
suffer no diminution. 

Notwithstanding the appropriation and act of 1796, for 
several years no extension of the system of trading houses beyond 
the two experimental establishments of 1795 was attempted; nor 
did the government avail itself, to any considerable extent, of the 
money appropriated for this purpose. The total amount appro- 
priated in 1795 and 1796 was two hundred thousand dollars. In 
December, 1801, the Secretary of War reported that only ninety 
thousand dollars of this amount had been drawn upon, and that 
the number of trading houses was still limited to the two 
that had been first established. 729 Even the act authorizing 

"' Ibid., 4th Congress, ist session, 152; American State Papers, Indian Affairs, I, 583. 
" Annals of Congress, 4th Congress, ist session, 282-85; for the act itself, see ibid., 
4th Congress, zd session, 2889-90. 

" American State Papers, Indian Affairs, I, 653-55. 


the system had expired in 1799, and in spite of repeated 
recommendations to Congress in the matter no action had 
been taken to renew it. 

In the debates over the passage of the Act of 1796 it was made 
evident that even the supporters of the measure regarded it in the 
light of an experiment. 730 The recent war had cost one and a 
half million dollars annually; it was worth while to try another 
method of securing peace on the frontier. Since the Canadian 
trading company was too powerful for individual Americans to 
compete successfully with it the government must assume the 
task. If upon trial the plan should prove a failure, it could 
be abandoned. On the other hand it was objected that public 
bodies should not engage in trade, which was always managed 
better by individuals; fraud and loss could not be guarded 
against; nor should the people be taxed for the sake of main- 
taining trade with the Indians. In spite of these objections and 
prophecies, the report of 1801 showed that the original capital had 
suffered no diminution, but had, in fact, been slightly increased; 
this, too, despite losses that had been incurred through the fail- 
ure of the sales agent, to whom the peltries had been assigned, to 
dispose of them before many had become ruined. 

It remains to speak of the degree of success achieved in the 
broad objects for the attainment of which the system had been 
inaugurated. Concerning this the report of the Secretary of War 
in 1801 was entirely favorable. 731 As far as it had been estab- 
lished the effects of the system upon the disposition of the Indians 
had been very salutary. The several tribes were desirous of 
participating in its advantages, and no doubt was felt that its 
extension would be attended by all the good effects originally 
contemplated by the government, and this without any diminu- 
tion of the original fund. 

Two years later, in January, 1803, Jefferson stated in a 
message to Congress that private traders, both foreign and 
domestic, were being undersold and driven from competition, 

"Annals of Congress, 4th Congress, ist session, 220-32. 
" l American State Papers, Indian Affairs, I, 653-55. 


that the system was effective in conciliating the good will of the 
Indians, and that they were soliciting generally the establish- 
ment of trading houses among them. 732 At the same time the 
Secretary of War reported the establishment of four new sta- 
tions, at Detroit, Fort Wayne, Chickasaw Bluffs, and among the 
Choctaws, to which the remainder of the money appropriated in 
1796 had been applied. 733 This remained the number until 1805, 
when four more were established : at Arkansas on the Arkansas 
River, at Nachitoches on the Red River, at Belle Fontaine near 
the mouth of the Missouri, and at Chicago. 734 The following 
year a trading house was established at Sandusky on Lake Erie, 
and in 1808 three more, at Mackinac, at Fort Osage, and at 
Fort Madison. 735 Meanwhile the two original houses had been 
removed to new locations and two others, those at Detroit and 
at Belle Fontaine, had been abandoned. 

From 1808 until the beginning of the War of 1812 there were 
thus twelve factories in operation. At each was stationed an 
agent, or factor, and at most an assistant, or clerk, as well. The 
salaries of the former prior to 1810 ranged from $750 to $1,250, 
in most cases not exceeding $1,000; the pay of the latter from 
$250 to $650; in both cases subsistence was granted in addition. 736 
In 1810 the superintendent of the trade estimated that of the 
total amount of $280,000, which had been invested in the 
business, $235,000 still remained; the loss in the capital in- 
vested to this date was therefore, in round numbers, $45,ooo. 737 
The four-year period ending in 1815, on the other hand, in 
spite of the disturbance to trade which attended the operations 
of the War of 1812, produced a profit of almost $60,000. 738 
Approximately three-fourths of this gain was swallowed up in 
the destruction, during the war, of the factories at Chicago, 
Fort Wayne, Sandusky, Mackinac, and Fort Madison; but 

" Ibid., I, 684. ' Ibid., I, 683. 

<Report of John Mason, Superintendent of Indian Trade, April 12, 1810, ibid., I, 
768 fi. 

' Ibid. " Ibid. " Ibid. 

" Report of Crawford, Secretary of War, March 13, 1816, ibid., II, 26-28. 


this was the fortune of war and not in any way the fault of 
the system. 

The establishment of a factory at Chicago was determined 
upon in the spring of 1805, and on March 19 Ebenezer Belknap 
of Connecticut was commissioned as factor. 739 The factory at 
Detroit was to be abandoned and the goods and furniture for the 
factor's dwelling to be removed to Chicago. 740 To supplement 
the stock of goods for the Indian trade removed from Detroit an 
initial invoice of new goods to the value of eight thousand dollars 
was ordered to be sent to Detroit for the Chicago factory. 741 
Belknap's instructions shed much light upon the practice followed 
when a new factory was to be established. He was to receive a 
salary of $1,000 a year and in addition to this $365 in lieu of sub- 
sistence. 742 He was empowered to employ, if necessary, a 
''principal clerk" at a salary not to exceed $500; if a young man 
could be procured for the place at a salary of $200 or $30x3, this 
was to be done. When a new factory was established an allow- 
ance to the factor of $200 for household furniture and domestic 
utensils and $25 yearly for the same purpose after the first year 
was made. Since Belknap was to take over the outfit of the 
Detroit factory his initial allowance for this purpose was reduced 
to $100. 

The establishment of the Chicago factory was not unattended 
with difficulties. Munroe, the Detroit factor, was indisposed to 
surrender the public property in his possession, and much em- 
barrassment was experienced on this account. 743 Scarcely had 
Belknap had time to proceed to his destination when warning 

" Belknap's commission, Indian Office, Letter Book B, 69. In some cases two or 
more of these letter books are designated in the same way. In such cases the volume in 
question can be determined by taking account of the dates of the contents. 

if Ibid., 72, War Department (unsigned) to Belknap, April 12, 1805; ibid., 438, 
DearboVn to John Johnston, June 3, 1805. 

w Ibid., 68, John Smith to William Davy, April 12, 1805. 

' Belknap's commission, ibid., 69; his instructions, April 12, 1805, ibid., 72. 

' Various letters in the Indian Office letter books refer to this difficulty, particularly 
one from the War Department (unsigned) to William Davy, Superintendent of Indian 
Trade, May 17, 1805 (Letter Book B, 76). I have not been able to learn how the trouble 
was finally settled. 


came to the War Department that his character was not what it 
should be. 744 Our information concerning the difficulty is but 
scanty, but the outlines of the situation are clear. An investiga- 
tion into the fitness of Belknap for the position was instituted, 745 
and as a precautionary measure it was decided to appoint a 
"suitable character" as his assistant, with instructions to report 
faithfully to the War Department concerning the character and 
conduct of his superior. 746 Apparently the investigation con- 
firmed the charges against Belknap, for before the end of Novem- 
ber the choice of a successor to him was being considered, 747 and 
on December 31, 1805, the luckless factor's services at Chicago 
terminated. 748 He was superseded by Thomas Hayward, who 
had been acting as his assistant since the third of the preceding 
October. Belknap proceeded to Washington, and in a prelimi- 
nary interview with his superiors gave such an account of himself 
as to imbue them with the belief that partisan rancor had been 
responsible for the charges preferred against him. 749 With this 
our information concerning the matter abruptly terminates, and 
we can only hope that the fuller investigation established his 
innocence of the charge against him. 

Thomas Hayward continued in charge of the Chicago factory 
until the spring of 1807, when he resigned his appointment. No 
successor could be found at once, and accordingly Jouett, the 
Indian agent, was asked to take temporary charge of the fac- 
tory. 750 A few weeks later the President of the United States 
<v approbated" the appointment of Joseph B. Varnum, a clerk in 
the War Department, to the vacant position. 751 Varnum came 

' Indian Office, Letter Book B, 104, War Department to William Davy, August 
31, 1805- 

Ibid., 104, War Department to Davy, August 31, 1805; ibid., 136, War Department 
*o Davy, November 22, 1805. 

M* Ibid., 104, War Department to Davy, September 26, 1805. 

' Ibid., 136, War Department to Davy, November 22, 1805. 

' Indian Office, Letter Book A, 94, John Mason to Davy, March 10, 1808. 

' Indian Office, Letter Book B, 218, War Department to Davy, May 12, 1806. 

Ibid., 304, War Department to General John Shee, Superintendent of Indian Trade, 
May 12, 1807; ibid., 314, War Department to Jouett, May 19, 1807. 

' Ibid., 318, War Department to Shee, June 6, 1807. 


highly recommended by his superiors, and his services as factoi 
gave equal satisfaction to his new employer. "No young man 
possesses] more purity of morals or integrity of Character," 
wrote his superior at the time he was appointed to his new posi- 
tion, and he further expressed the conviction that Varnum would 
perform his new duties with "perfect fidelity." 752 

Varnum took up his new work at Chicago the last of August. 
The invoice of the household furniture belonging to the factory 
made on this date by Jouett and Kinzie is still preserved. 753 
His predecessors had not made use of the full $200 allowed for 
this purpose, apparently, for the invoice shows the total original 
cost of the equipment to have been $142.87. The appraisers 
estimated the present value of the articles at about 80 per cent of 
the original cost. The meager equipment included six chairs, one 
table, and one camp and two cot bedsteads; the most prominent 
items among the kitchen utensils being two brass and four tin 
kettles, valued at fifteen dollars. 

In 1808 it was decided to establish a factory at Mackinac. 
Under the impression that Varnum preferred this station to the 
one at Chicago the appointment was made, and Matthew Irwin 
of Philadelphia was designated to succeed Varnum at Chicago. 754 
Varnum, too late, protested against his transfer, preferring to 
remain at Chicago, but the appointment of Irwin had already 
been made, and it was decided that the arrangement could not be 
altered. Irwin's salary and subsistence was fixed at $1,165, $200 
less than his predecessor had been given. 755 He was expected to 
proceed to Chicago at once, and to arrive there in time to permit 
Varnum to open the factory at Mackinac the same season. This 
plan miscarried, however. Irwin in charge of a consignment of 
goods went as far as Albany; here the goods were stored and the 
factor returned to Philadelphia to pass the winter. In the spring 

" J Indian Office, Letter Book B. The letter is unsigned but probably was written 
by Dearborn. 

'" Department of Indian Trade, Chicago invoice book. 

Indian Office, Letter Book A, 196, John Mason to Matthew Irwin, August 8, 1808; 
Letter Book B, 436, War Department to Irwin, May 6, 1809. 

in Indian Office, Letter Book A, 196, Mason to Irwin, August 8, 1808. 


of 1809 he again started for Chicago. 756 His tenure as factor 
lasted three years. The outbreak of war in 1812 terminated the 
usefulness of the factory for the time being, and Irwin proceeded 
to wind up its affairs. The stock of furs on hand was sent by 
vessel to Mackinac, only to fall into the hands of the British. 
On July 5 Irwin left Chicago, having closed the storehouse and 
delivered the keys to Doctor Van Voorhis. 757 

With the plans for the restoration of the Chicago factory after 
the war Irwin was again appointed factor, but before the factory 
had actually been established his appointment was changed from 
Chicago to Green Bay. His was the only incumbency of the 
latter factory, his service there continuing from its establishment 
in 1 8 1 6 to the abandonment of the factory system six years later. 
Irwin returned to Pennsylvania, his native state, where he died 
in 1845. 7s8 He was of medium height, well proportioned, "of 
pleasing deportment, and quite interesting and popular in his 

From the records of the Department of Indian Trade, and the 
reports of the Superintendent printed in the volumes of the 
American State Papers devoted to Indian affairs, considerable 
information concerning the operations of the Chicago factory can 
be gleaned. The buildings of the factory cost $1,000, and the 
value of the furniture prior to the war was placed at $134. 31. 7S9 
The operations for the four-year period ending September 30, 
1811, produced a profit of $3,454. 24. 76 This favorable showing 
was due to the fact that the peltries received at the Chicago 
factory consisted chiefly of hatters' furs on which a profit was 
made, and shaved deer skins, which deteriorated comparatively 
little in handling. 761 For the year ending April i, 1812, the busi- 
ness done at Chicago showed a profit of $1,773 .94, a larger gain 
than for any similar period thus far. 76j At the last mentioned 

6 Ibid., 348, Mason to Irwin, May 6, i8og. 

T Indian Office, Letter Book C, 131, Mason to Irwin, February 9, 1813. 

is> For a sketch of Irwin's life see Wisconsin Historical Collections, VII, 269-70. 

American Slate Papers, Indian Affairs, I, 770, 792. 

Ibid., 792. !" Ibid., 788, 792. Ibid., II, 40. 


date the stock on hand amounted to almost $12,500, and the total 
value of the stock, buildings, peltries, and other assets was 
$13,727 . 15. When Fort Dearborn was evacuated in the follow- 
ing August, Captain Heald distributed the merchandise of the 
factory, amounting in value to more than $6,000, among the 
Indians. Prior to this nearly $5,000 worth of peltries and furs 
had been shipped to Mackinac, all of which, like the peltries 
belonging to Kinzie and Forsyth, fell into the hands of the 
British. Together with the loss incurred through debts owed by 
the Indians or by members of the Fort Dearborn garrison, and 
the destruction of the buildings and furniture of the factory, the 
total loss of the Chicago factory was $I3,O74.47. 7<53 

That the operations of the Chicago factory prior to the War 
of 1812 were, on the whole, successful, can scarcely be doubted. 
The realization of a profit from the Indian trade had never entered 
into the calculations of the founders of the factory system, yet, 
as has been shown, a steady profit was realized from the Chicago 
factory, at least from the year 1807 on. How well the factory 
fulfilled its primary function of regulating the prices of the private 
traders is significantly shown by the unconscious testimony of 
Black Partridge and Petchaho, the latter the brother and 
successor of Gomo, the head chief of the Illinois River Potta- 
watomies. In 1814 they complained to Thomas Forsyth, who 
visited them as a representative of the United States Indian 
Department, of the high prices of goods in the sutler's store at 
Fort Clark. They pleaded that the United States take pity on 
them and establish a factory at Fort Clark, and expressed 
the hope that they would be able to get goods as cheap in 
this way "as they formerly did in the factory at Chicago." 764 
At another time Forsyth himself, than whom no one was 
more familiar with the conditions affecting the Indian trade 
in Illinois, stated that no one who bought his goods in this 
country could sell them as cheaply as the factories. The 
British traders only could oppose the factories, and this was 

American State Papers, Indian Affairs, II, 59. 
** Wisconsin Historical Collections, XI, 337. 


From a daguerreotype taken in later life 

B courtesy of Mrs. Lillian Heald Richmond, St. Louis, Missouri) 


possible because of their extensive credit, and the superior 
quality of their goods. 765 

From the time of its re-establishment in 1816 the factory- 
was conducted at Chicago until the abolition of the government 
trading-house system in 1822; but the Chicago factory did not 
acquire during this time the trade and influence enjoyed by the 
first factory in the period before the War of 1812. The reasons 
for this failure to recover the old-time influence will be set forth 
in connection with the consideration of the failure and abolition 
of the factory system as a whole. 

We have seen that the system of government trading houses 
was entered upon as an experiment, and that as such it was 
renewed from time to time. Congress never abolished the earlier 
system of licensed private traders, and never gave a whole- 
hearted support to the competing system. Herein lay the chief 
cause of the ultimate failure of the experiment, and here, too, is 
to be found the principal reason for the limited degree of influence 
and success achieved by the government trading houses during 
its continuance. Upon the formation of the American Fur Com- 
pany by John Jacob Astor, that powerful corporation, operating 
from Mackinac as a center, undertook to monopolize the Indian 
trade of the Northwest. There ensued for a few years the most 
vigorous exploitation of the fur trade which this region ever 
witnessed. The American Fur Company, in connection with 
other private traders, was antagonized by the government factory 
system, and consequently left no stone unturned to overthrow it. 
Partly because of this, but in part from the operation of other 
factors, to be noted in their place, the trade of the Chicago and 
Green Bay factories largely disappeared prior to 1820; and it had 
been decided, in fact, to discontinue them and establish a new one 
on the St. Peter's River when Congress, under the urging of 
Senator Benton, decided in 1822 to abolish the entire factory 

The system of government trading houses had been estab- 
lished under the influence of a twofold motive. The primary 

d., XI, 344. 


consideration of the government's Indian policy was the mainte- 
nance of peace on the frontier. This could best be accomplished 
by rendering the Indian contented, and by freeing him from the 
influence of foreigners. Not merely his happiness, but his very 
existence depended upon his securing from the whites those 
articles which he needed but which he himself could not produce; 
and since the private traders took advantage of his weakness and 
ignorance to exploit him outrageously in the conduct of the 
Indian trade, it was argued that the welfare of the Indian would 
be directly promoted, and indirectly the peace of the frontier, be 
conserved, by the establishment of government trading houses 
upon the principles that have been indicated. 

The theory underlying the government factory system seemed 
sound, but in practice several obstacles to its successful working, 
powerful enough in the aggregate to cause its abandonment, were 
encountered. Not until 1816 was an act passed excluding 
foreigners from the trade, and even then such exceptions were 
allowed as to render the prohibition of little value. 766 The 
amount of money devoted to the factory system was never suffi- 
cient to permit its extension to more than a small proportion of 
the tribes. However well conducted the business may have been, 
this fact alone would have prevented the attainment of the larger 
measure of benefit that had been anticipated. 

Another and inherent cause of failure lay in the difficulty of 
public operation of a business so special and highly complicated 
in character as the conduct of the Indian trade. Great shrewd- 
ness, intimate knowledge of the native character, and a willing- 
ness to endure great privations were among the qualifications 
essential to its successful prosecution. The private trader was at 
home with the red man, his livelihood depended upon his exer- 
tions, and he was free from the moral restraints which governed 
the conduct of the government factor. Above all he was his own 
master, free to adapt his course to the exigencies of the moment ; 
the factor was hampered by regulations prescribed by a super- 

7 See report of the Committee on Indian Affairs to Congress in 1817, in American 
Stale Papers, Indian Affairs, II, 127; Irwin-McKenney correspondence and report of 
Jedediah Morse in Wisconsin Historical Collections, VII, 269 ff. 


intendent who resided far distant from the western country; 
and he, in turn, by a Congress which commonly turned a deaf ear 
to his repeated appeals for amendment of the act governing 
the conduct of the trade. The factor's income was assured, 
regardless of the amount of trade he secured; nor was he affected 
by losses due to errors of judgment on his part, as was the private 
trader. Too often he had, at the time of his appointment, no 
acquaintance with the Indian or with the business put in his 
charge. To instance a single case, Jacob Varnum at the time of 
his appointment to the Sandusky factory was a native of rural 
New England, who had neither asked for nor desired such an 
appointment. It is doubtful whether he had ever seen an 
Indian, and he was certainly entirely without mercantile experi- 
ence; yet he had for competitors such men as John Kinzie, 
Thomas Forsyth, and Antoine De Champs, men who had spent 
practically their whole lives in the Indian trade. 

The goods for the government trade must be bought in the 
United States, and the peltries secured in its conduct must be 
sold here. This worked disaster to the enterprise in various 
ways. From their long experience in supplying the Indian trade 
the English had become expert in the production of articles suited 
to the red man's taste. It was impossible for the government, 
buying in the United States, to match, in quality and in attract- 
iveness to the Indian, the goods of the Canadian trader. Even 
if English goods were purchased of American importers, the 
factory system was handicapped by reason of the higher price 
which must be paid. On the other hand the prohibition against 
the exportation of peltries compelled the superintendent of the 
trade to dispose of them in the American market. Experience 
proved that the domestic demand for peltries, particularly for 
deer skins, did not equal the supply; so that the restriction 
frequently occasioned financial loss. But there were further 
restrictions in the act of 1806 which narrowed the choice of a 
market even within the United States. 767 That these restrictions 

'" Repor 1 of the Superintendent of Indian Trade, January 16, 1809, American State 
Papers, Indian AJfairs, I, 756; for the act of 1806 see Annals of Congress, gth Congress, ist 
session, 1287-90. 


would operate to diminish the business, and accordingly the 
influence of the government trading houses, is obvious. 

Another group of restrictions worked injury to the factory 
system through their failure to accommodate the habits and 
desires of the Indian. To trade with the government the Indian 
must come to the factory. The private trader took his goods to 
the Indian. The red man was notably lacking in prudence and 
thrift, and was careless and heedless of the future. He was, too, 
a migratory being, his winters being devoted to the annual hunt, 
which frequently carried him several hundred miles away from 
his summer residence. Before setting out on such a hunt he 
must secure a suitable equipment of supplies. Since he never 
had money accumulated, this must be obtained on credit and be 
paid for with the proceeds of the ensuing winter's hunt. The 
factor was prohibited, for the most part, from extending such 
credit; the private trader willingly granted it, and furthermore 
he frequently followed the Indian on his hunt to collect his pay as 
fast as the furs were taken. In such cases as the factor did 
extend credit to the Indian, the private trader often succeeded in 
wheedling him out of the proceeds of his hunt, leaving him 
nothing with which to discharge his debt to the factor. 

The greatest advantage, perhaps, enjoyed by the private 
trader involved at the same time the most disgraceful feature 
connected with the Indian trade. From the first association of 
the Indian with the white race his love of liquor proved his 
greatest curse. The literature of the subject abounds in narra- 
tions of this weakness, and the unscrupulous way in which the 
white man took advantage of it. For liquor the Indian would 
barter his all. It constituted an indispensable part of the trader's 
outfit, and all of the government's prohibitions against its use in 
the Indian trade were in vain, as had been those of the French 
and British governments before it. The Indians themselves 
realized their fatal weakness, but although they frequently pro- 
tested against the bringing of liquor to them, they were powerless 
to overcome it. The factor had no whisky for the Indian, and 
consequently the private trader secured his trade. 


The remedy for this state of affairs is obvious. Either the 
government should have monopolized the Indian trade, at the 
same time extending the factory system to supply its demands; 
or else the factory system should have been abandoned and the 
trade left entirely to private individuals under suitable govern- 
mental regulation. The former course had been urged upon 
Congress at various times, but no disposition to adopt it had ever 
been manifested. The time had now arrived to adopt the other 
alternative. Soon after Thomas Hart Benton entered the Senate 
he urged upon Calhoun, then Secretary of War, the abolition of 
the factory system. Calhoun's opinion of the Superintendent 
of Indian Trade, Thomas L. McKenney, was such that he did 
not credit Benton's charges of gross mismanagement, and 
accordingly he refused to countenance the proposition. 768 This 
refusal led Benton to make an assault upon the system in the 
Senate. 769 In this two advantages favored his success: as the 
inhabitant of a frontier state he was presumed to have personal 
knowledge of the abuses of the system he was attacking; and 
as a member of the Committee on Indian Affairs he was specially 
charged with the legislative oversight of matters pertaining to 
the Indians. 

Benton believed and labored to show that the original purpose 
of the government trading houses had been lost sight of; that the 
administration of the system had been marked by stupidity and 
fraud; that the East had been preferred to the West by the 
Superintendent of Indian Trade in making purchases and sales; 
in short that the factory system constituted a great abuse, the 
continued maintenance of which was desired only by those 
private interests which found a profit therein. In view of all the 
circumstances of the situation his conclusion that the government 
trading houses should be abolished was probably wise; but the 
reasons on which he based this conclusion were largely erroneous. 
His information was gained from such men as Ramsey Crooks, 

" Benton, Thirty Years View, I, 21. 

" For the debate see Annals of Congress, ryth Congress, ist session, I, 317 ff. For the 
documents see American State Papers, Indian Affairs, II, passim. 


then and for long years a leader in the councils of the American 
Fur Company. This organization had a direct interest in the 
overthrow of the factory system. Its estimate of the value of the 
latter was about as disingenuous as would be the opinion today 
of the leader of a liquor dealers' organization of the merits of the 
Prohibition party. In view of the charges of Crooks it is perti- 
nent to inquire why, if the factory system was so innocuous, the 
American Fur Company was so eager to destroy it; and if a 
monopoly of the fur trade was so repugnant to the sense of fairness 
why was Crooks willing to see his company replace the govern- 
ment of the United States in the enjoyment of that monopoly ? 77 
Benton's charge of fraud on the part of the superintendent 
and the factors failed to convince the majority of the senators 
who spoke in the debate, and the student of the subject today 
must conclude that the evidence does not sustain them. There 
was more truth in his charges with respect to unwise management 
of the enterprise; but for this Congress, rather than the super- 
intendent and factors, was primarily responsible. It is evident, 
too, that in spite of his claim to speak from personal knowledge, 
Benton might well have been better informed about the subject 
of the Indian trade. One of his principal charges concerned the 
unsuitability of the articles selected for it by the superintendent. 
But the list of items which he read to support this charge but 
partially supported his contention. 771 Upon one item, eight gross 
of jews'-harps, the orator fairly exhausted his powers of sarcasm 
and invective. Yet a fuller knowledge of the subject under dis- 
cussion would have spared him this effort. Ramsey Crooks could 
have informed him that jews'-harps were a well-known article of 
the Indian trade. Only a year before this tirade was delivered 
the American Fur Company had supplied a single trader with four 
gross of these articles for his winter's trade on the Mississippi. 772 

" Chittenden, American Fur Trade of the Far West, I, 18. 

IT Annals of Congress, lyth Congress, ist session, I, 319. 

" American Fur Company invoices of goods sold to traders, MSS in the Detroit Public 
Library. For similar invoices see Wisconsin Historical Collections, XI, 377-79; Michigan 
Pioneer Collections, XXXVII, 300-11. Mr. Lewis Beeson of Niles, Michigan, has several 
dozen jews'-harps in his collection of relics from the site of old Fort St. Joseph. 


Although Benton's charges so largely failed of substantiation, 
yet the Senate approved his motion for the abolition of the fac- 
tory system. The reasons for this action are evident from the 
debate. 773 Even his colleagues on the Committee of Indian 
Affairs did not accept Benton's charges of maladministration. 
They reported the bill for the abolition of the trading-house 
system in part because of their objections to the system itself. 
It had never been extended to more than a fraction of the Indians 
on the frontier; to extend it to all of them would necessitate a 
largely increased capital, and would result in a multiplication of 
the obstacles already encountered on a small scale. The com- 
plicated nature of the Indian trade was such that only individual 
enterprise and industry was fitted to conduct it with success. 
Finally the old argument which had been wielded against the 
initiation of the system, that it was not a proper governmental 
function, was employed. The trade should be left to indi- 
viduals, the government limiting itself to regulating properly 
their activities. 

Benton's method of abolishing the factory system exhibited 
as little evidence of statesmanship as did that employed by 
Jackson in his more famous enterprise of destroying the second 
United States Bank. In 1818 Calhoun, as Secretary of War, 
had been directed by Congress to prop>ose a plan for the abolition 
of the trading-house system. In his report he pointed out that 
two objects should be held in view in winding up its affairs: to 
sustain as little loss as possible, and to withdraw from the trade 
gradually in order that the place vacated by the government 
might be filled by others with as little disturbance as prac- 
ticable. 774 Neither of these considerations was heeded by 
Benton. He succeeded in so changing the bill for the abolition 
of the system as to provide that the termination of its affairs 
should be consummated within a scant two months, and by 
another set of men than the factors and superintendent. 773 

" See, for example, the arguments of Johnson and Lowrie, Annals of Congress, i?th 
Congress, ist session, I, 330-44. 

American State Papers, Indian Afairs, II, 181-85- 

=>* Annals uf Congress, lyth Congress, ist session, I, 318, 351, 354. 


That considerable loss should be incurred in winding up such 
a business was inevitable. Calhoun's suggestions would have 
minimized this as much as possible. Benton's plan caused the 
maximum of loss to the government and of confusion to the 
Indian trade. According to a report made to Congress in 1824 
on the abolition of the factory system, a loss of over 50 per cent 
of the capital stock was sustained. 776 

The journal of Jacob Varnum sheds some light upon the losses 
sustained at the Chicago factory, by reason of the operation of 
Benton's amendments. Varnum relates that A. B. Lindsay, "a 
hanger-on about the offices for an appointment for years," super- 
seded him in charge of the factory. "After remaining in Chicago 
as long as his instructions would permit without making any sale 
or collecting the debts, he packed all the goods and shipped them 
to Detroit, where they were again offered for sale; and were 
finally auctioned off without a guarantee of any kind as to pay- 
ment. They sold at good prices the purchasers, not intending 
to pay, were indifferent as to the prices offered, and, what was 
foreseen in Detroit, no satisfaction of value was received by the 
government, and Lindsay, a man without a single business 
qualification, got credit for the prompt and satisfactory manner 
with which he had closed the business, and subsequently received 
an appointment in the Custom service." 

These statements, coming from an interested source, should, 
of course, be subjected to due scrutiny; but in at least one respect 
they receive confirmation from Lindsay himself. In 1823 in the 
course of a congressional investigation into the closing up of the 
Indian trading houses, under cross-examination at the hands of 
McKenney, the deposed superintendent, Lindsay stated that he 
had never been engaged in the Indian trade, and that he did not 
know the proper weight of a three-point northwest blanket, nor 
what its dimensions should be. 777 It further appears from the 
financial statement rendered by him that though the property at 
Chicago invoiced nearly $16,000 he turned over to the govern' 
ment less than $1,250 in cash, the two principal items in his 

" American State Papers, Indian Affairs, II, 513. '" Ibid., 420. 


account consisting, in round numbers, of bills receivable to the 
amount of $5,000 and losses on sales of $7,ooo. 778 

The failure of the trading-house system constitutes but one 
chapter in the long and sorrowful story of the almost total failure 
of the government of the United States to realize in practice its 
good intentions toward the Indians. The factory system was 
entered upon from motives of prudence and humanity; that it 
was .productive of beneficial results cannot be successfully dis- 
puted; that it failed to achieve the measure of benefit to the red 
race and the white for which its advocates had hoped must be 
attributed by the student, as it was by Calhoun, "not to a want 
of dependence on the part of the Indians on commercial supplies 
but to defects in the system itself, or in its administration." 779 
The fatal error arose from the timidity of the government. 
Instead of monopolizing the field of the Indian trade, it entered 
upon it as the competitor of the private trader. Since its agents 
could not stoop to the practices to which the latter resorted, the 
failure of the experiment was a foregone conclusion. Yet it did 
not follow from this failure that with a monopoly of the field the 
government would not have rendered better service to the public 
than did the private traders. Lacking the courage of its con- 
victions, it permitted the failure of perhaps the most promising 
experiment for the amelioration of the condition of the red man 
upon which it has ever embarked. 

d., 518. "'Ibid., 181-85. 



Almost a dozen years had passed since the coming of Captain 
Bradley's troops to Chicago to plant again the banner of civiliza- 
tion on the spot where savagery had triumphed in 1812, and 
nearly half as many since the garrison had been withdrawn 
from Fort Dearborn in 1823, when the humdrum quiet of the 
little settlement was broken by new rumors of war. Two 
Indian wars and a visitation of war's twin scourge of humanity, 
the plague, coming in quick succession, served to relieve the 
monotony of life at Chicago during the next few years. 

The first of the Indian outbreaks, the Winnebago War, 
occasioned little actual fighting, but it filled the frontier settle- 
ments with alarm, caused the movement of several hundred 
soldiers, many of them for hundreds of miles, and was con- 
cluded by a formal treaty between the United States and the 
disaffected tribes. That it was not attended by more bloodshed 
was due to the prompt display by the government of an over- 
whelming military force which awed the red man into submission. 

Driven to desperation by the encroachments and aggressions 
of the whites, and encouraged, possibly, by the removal of the 
garrisons from Chicago and Prairie du Chien, the Winnebagoes 
in the summer of 1827 were in a mood for war. The first out- 
break occurred on the upper Mississippi toward the end of June. 
A keelboat, returning from a trip to Fort Snelling with provisions 
for the garrison at Fort Crawford, was attacked by the Winne- 
bagoes near the mouth of the Bad Axe River. On the same day 
a murderous assault was made upon the family of a Canadian 
half-breed named Gagnier, living a short distance from Prairie 
du Chien. 780 The nature of the immediate provocation for the 
attack upon the keelboat is a matter of dispute. The assault 

' On these events see Wisconsin Historical Collections, passim. 



upon the family of Gagnier, however, was deliberately planned 
by a band of Winnebagoes, which had suffered great indignities at 
the hands of the whites. 781 The leaders of the band deliberated 
over their wrongs and resolved to enforce the native law of 
retaliation. The choice of the agent to commit the act fell upon 
Red Bird, a chief who was beloved by the Indians and respected 
and admired by the whites. Noted for his friendly disposition 
toward the whites, Red Bird undertook the commission of his 
band with the intention of pretending to fulfil it and reporting 
to his tribe that he had been unable to find a victim. 

This plan, unfortunately, miscarried. Being upbraided for 
his conduct and taunted as a coward, Red Bird resolved to 
redeem his reputation and set out for Prairie du Chien, accom- 
panied by WeKau and a third Indian, determined to execute his 
commission in grim earnest. The chance presence of an old 
trader at the house of Mr. Lockwood, which the party first 
visited, caused them to refrain from committing there the 
intended violence. 782 Crossing the prairie they came to the 
house of Gagnier. about three miles from the town. Here they 
found the husband, his wife, a babe of eleven months, and a 
discharged soldier named Lipcap. The presence of the visitors 
at first excited no particular comment. They asked for food and 
Mrs. Gagnier had turned to provide it when the bloody work 
began. Gagnier was shot by Red Bird and Lipcap by the third 
Indian, while Mrs. Gagnier engaged in a struggle with WeKau 
in which she succeeded in wresting from him his gun. He turned 
and ran and she pursued him, but overcome by excitement or 
fear, and finding herself powerless to fire the gun, she made her 
way to the village and gave the alarm. Meanwhile WeKau 
again entered the cabin and scalped the babe, apparently exe- 
cuting the horrible task with deliberation in order to secure as 
much hair with the scalp as possible. When a posse arrived 
from Prairie du Chien the murderers had departed; the babe 
was still alive and, strangely enough, recovered from its ghastly 
wounds and grew to womanhood. 

: Ibid., V, 201 ff. Ibid., II, 161; V, 199. 


In the same month of June, 1827, Governor Cass and Colonel 
Thomas L. McKenney were sent to negotiate on behalf of the 
United States a treaty with the Winnebagoes and other tribes 
of Wisconsin respecting the boundaries which had been provided 
for in the Treaty of Prairie du Chien of 1825. 783 On reaching 
Butte des Morts on Fox River, the place designated for the 
council, the commissioners found but a single band of Winne- 
bagoes represented, and learned at the same time of the hostile 
disposition of the tribe and of the outrages committed on the 

In this emergency Cass decided on a bold and energetic 
course. Leaving the camp at Butte des Morts in charge of 
Colonel McKenney, he himself set out in a large canoe manned 
by a dozen boatmen for the seat of trouble. 784 The route to 
Prairie du Chien led through the midst of the disaffected tribe. 
In his descent of the Wisconsin River Cass came upon the 
Winnebago encampment. Undaunted by the manifest signs of 
hostility which were displayed on his approach he landed and 
harangued the savages and persuaded them to smoke the calumet. 
As he turned to leave, a young brave sought to assassinate him, 
but the attempt was frustrated by an older man striking his gun 

On reaching Prairie du Chien on the morning of July 4 
Cass did what he could to encourage the terrified settlers, who 
were gathered in the abandoned Fort Crawford in momentary 
expectation of an attack, and took into the service of the United 
States the impromptu military company which had been organ- 
ized. 785 He then passed quickly down to Galena, the center of 
the lead-mining district. The news from Prairie du Chien of 
the Indian hostilities had spread terror and dismay among the 

" Smith, Life and Times of Lewis Cass, 185; Young, Life of General Cass, 93; School- 
craft, Personal Memoirs, 265-67. 

"On Cass's trip see Schoolcraft, Personal Memoirs, 266; Smith, Cass, 185-00; 
Young, Cass, 93-96; Hubbard, Life, 150-51; Wisconsin Historical Collections, II, 166, 330; 
V, 156-57- 

"5 For the occurrences at Prairie du Chien see James H. Lockwood's narrative, 
Wisconsin Historical Collections, II, 157 fl. 


miners, who with one accord fled in wildest panic to Galena. 786 
The roads were lined with men, women, and children in momen- 
tary fear of the dread tomahawk or scalping-knife, and the 
encampment of the fugitives on Apple River on the first night 
of the alarm was said to have extended four miles and numbered 
three thousand persons. Such was the state of confusion and 
panic when Cass arrived at Galena on July 6. Quickly enrolling 
a company of riflemen, it was dispatched on a keelboat for 
Prairie du Chien, while Cass's canoemen sped onward in the 
opposite direction to carry the news to St. Louis and set the regu- 
lars under General Atkinson's command at Jefferson Barracks 
in motion. The destination was reached in record time, 787 and 
soon Atkinson at the head of seven hundred troops was proceed- 
ing up the Mississippi River by steamer to the scene of hostilities. 

Instead of returning with the regulars, Cass and his party 
ascended the Illinois River to Chicago. Fortunately for them 
heavy rains had raised the Des Plaines to such a height that it 
was possible to pass up it and across the portage to Chicago 
without disembarking from the canoe. In the course of this 
passage nightfall overtook the party in Mud Lake. Fearful of 
staving a hole in their birch-bark canoe, the boatmen anchored 
it by thrusting their paddles into the mud on either side. In 
this dreary spot, tormented by mosquitoes and with the rain 
descending in torrents to the accompaniment of intense thunder 
and lightning, the future senator, cabinet officer, and presidential 
candidate passed the hot July night. 

The arrival of Cass at Chicago the following morning has 
been described by Gurdon S. Hubbard, who chanced to be in 
Chicago at this time, at the home of his friend, John Kinzie. 788 
The inmates of the household were at breakfast when the sound 

* Ibid., II, 329. 

' On the rapidity of Cass's descent of the Mississippi see Young, Cass, 96; Smith, 
Cass, 189-90; Schoolcraft says (Personal Memoirs, 267) that the entire circuit from Butte 
des Morts to Saint Louis, and back again by way of the Illinois River and Chicago, was made 
"in an incredible short space of time." 

"'Hubbard, Life, 150-51; Caldwell and Shabonee, in "Fergus Historical Series," 
No. 10, 41-46; Wisconsin Historical Collections, VII, 341-43. 


of the Canadian boat song was heard, faintly at first, but gradu- 
ally growing louder. Kinzie recognized the leading voice as 
that of his nephew, Robert Forsyth, private secretary to Gov- 
ernor Cass, and made his way to the front porch, followed by 
the rest of the company. Looking up the river they beheld 
Cass's canoe bearing rapidly down upon them, the boatmen 
keeping time with their paddles to the music of the song. It 
was soon at hand and during the brief stay which Cass made 
the Chicagoans learned for the first time of the outbreak of war 
and the outrages on the Mississippi. They learned, also, the 
reason of the unusual conduct of Big Foot's band of Indians at 
Chicago a few days before. 789 The buildings of the abandoned 
Fort Dearborn were at this time under the custody of the Indian 
agent, Doctor Alexander Wolcott. With his family he was living 
in one of them, while the others were occupied by several French 
and American families. The annual payment to the Potta- 
watomies had drawn to Chicago a large number of Indians. 
Upon receiving their annuity all had departed except a portion 
of Big Foot's band, who lived at the modern Lake Geneva. 
In the night following the payment, during a violent storm of 
wind and rain, the soldiers' barracks were struck by lightning 
and destroyed, together with the storehouse and a portion of the 

The alarm of fire soon roused the little settlement, and men 
and women to the number of about forty turned out. The 
barracks and storehouse were seen to be doomed and so the 
attention was devoted to saving the remaining structures. 
Robert Kinzie, wrapped in a wet blanket, mounted to the roof 
of the guardhouse, which was already on fire, while the others 
formed a line to the river along which water was passed to him 
in buckets and other available utensils. Despite his burns and 
the danger he ran, Kinzie maintained his position until, about 
dawn, the fire was subdued. During all this time Big Foot's 
followers idly viewed the struggle, ignoring the appeals made to 
them for assistance. The next day they started for their homes, 

' American Historical Collections, loc. cit. 


but the subject of their strange behavior furnished food for 
discussion at Chicago, until the information brought by Cass 
a few days later explained it and their disaffection. 

With the departure of Cass the inhabitants of Chicago 
assembled for consultation. 790 It was determined to send the 
chiefs, Shabbona and Billy Caldwell, to Big Foot's village to 
gather information concerning the plans of the Winnebagoes 
and the intentions of Big Foot's band. The friendly chiefs at 
once departed upon their mission. On reaching Lake Geneva 
they separated; Caldwell secreted himself near the town, while 
Shabbona entered it, and was promptly imprisoned on the 
charge of being a spy and a friend of the Americans. This 
he denied, pretending that having heard of the threatened 
hostilities with the whites he had come to take counsel with 
Big Foot's followers concerning the course of his own people. 
By dint of argument and dissimulation he finally obtained 
permission to return, accompanied by a number of Big Foot's 
band, to his village. Both Caldwell and Shabbona separately 
made their way back to Chicago and reported the result of 
their mission. 

Their report plunged the settlement into a state of panic 
akin to that which had earlier seized upon the inhabitants of 
Prairie du Chien and Galena. A consultation was held, in the 
course of which Hubbard suggested that a messenger be sent to 
the settlements on the Wabash for assistance. Volunteers for 
this service were called for, but no one except Hubbard himself 
appeared desirous of undertaking it; against his going the objec- 
tion was raised that in his absence no one else could control the 
voyageurs, most of whom were in his employ. Notwithstanding 
this, it was finally decided that Hubbard should go. He left 
Chicago in the afternoon and reached Danville, one hundred 
and twenty miles away, on the following day, having changed 
mounts about midnight at his trading house on the Iroquois 
River. The news of his mission was spread abroad, and a force 
of fifty men or more was quickly raised to march to the relief 



of Chicago. 791 Before starting five days' rations were cooked. 
Many of the volunteers were without horses of their own. Most 
of these were supplied with mounts by neighbors who were to 
stay at home, but the number of horses available was insufficient 
to supply all the men and five set forth on foot. In other respects 
the company's equipment was even more inadequate. The 
food supply was insufficient and the arms were most hetero- 
geneous in character. Squirrel rifles, flintlocks, old muskets, 
"or anything like a gun" that could be found had been seized, 
and some of the men had no guns at all. The latter, as well as 
those whose arms were insufficient, were supplied by Hubbard, 
who also issued flour and salt pork, from his trading house on 
the Iroquois River. 

The march to Chicago was completed, after numerous vicissi- 
tudes, near the close of the fourth day. The Vermilion River 
was up, running bank full and with a strong current. The men 
and saddles were taken across in a canoe and an effort was made 
to compel the horses to swim. When the force of the current 
struck them, however, they would circle about and return to 
the bank. Provoked at the delay Hubbard mounted "old 
Charley," a large, steadygoing horse, and plunged in, the other 
horses being driven in after him. In the swift current "Charley" 
became unmanageable, when Hubbard dismounted on the upper 
side, and seizing him by the mane with one hand and swimming 
with the other guided him toward the opposite shore. During 
the march rain fell most of the time. The condition of the 
streams and the intervening country compelled some of the 
footmen to turn back, and two of the men with horses also 
abandoned the expedition. 

The company reached Chicago in the midst of a tremendous 
thunder storm. The welcome extended by the settlers, who 
had been in momentary expectation of an attack, was naturally 
most hearty. If the narrator's reminiscences may be trusted, 

Wisconsin Historical Collections, narrative of Hezekiah Cunningham, in "Fergus 
Historical Series," No. 10, 47 ff. Cunningham, who was a member of the Danville com- 
pany which marched to Chicago, says it numbered fifty men, while Hubbard gives the 
number as one hundred. 


a touch of genuine burlesque was now added to the warlike scenes 
of the last few days. During Hubbard's absence the settlers 
had organized a military company composed of a few Americans 
interspersed among a considerable number of Canadian half- 
breeds. The former, perceiving that the Danville company was 
a better-looking crowd than their own, proposed to abandon 
their associates and join it. This feeling stirred up a quarrel, 
but the officers quelled the disturbance and the discontented men 
remained with their own command. The Danville company 
remained at Chicago a number of days, keeping guard day and 
night, until news arrived from Green Bay that a treaty of peace 
had been made with the Winnebagoes. In their joy over the 
good news the citizens brought forth barrels of whisky and 
other liquors and a general drinking bout ensued. 

Thus hilariously ended Chicago's part in the Winnebago 
War. Its speedy and bloodless conclusion was due primarily 
to the energetic measures of Governor Cass. From Chicago he 
had passed up the western shore of Lake Michigan to Green 
Bay, and entering the Fox River had come again to the place 
of council at Butte des Morts, after a circuit of eighteen hundred 
miles. The prompt movement of troops from every direction 
upon the country of the Winnebagoes quickly convinced them 
of the hopelessness of resistance. From Jefferson Barracks, 
Fort Snelling, and Fort Howard, detachments of regulars con- 
verged upon the disaffected tribesmen, while a force of volun- 
teers from Galena under General Dodge marched overland 
toward the Wisconsin Portage. On August n Cass concluded 
with the tribes concerned the treaty of Butte des Morts, which 
settled, for the time being, the boundary questions which had 
grown out of the Treaty of Prairie du Chien of i825. 792 Although 
the Winnebagoes were parties to the treaty, the liberty was 
reserved by the United States of punishing the perpetrators of 
the recent outrages and exacting from them guaranties of good 
conduct in the future. 

Treaties between the United Stales of America and the Several Indian Tribes, from 
1778 to 1837, 412-15. 


The treaty concluded, Cass returned to Detroit, while the 
military continued its task of running down the culprits wanted. 
On September i the troops from Fort Howard under command 
of Major Whistler encamped at the Fox- Wisconsin Portage. 793 
The following day three separate messages arrived from the 
hostile Winnebago encampment announcing that the murderers, 
WeKau and Red Bird, would be surrendered the day after, and 
begging the military not to strike. The murders at Prairie du 
Chien had been committed deliberately in accordance with the 
Indian law of retaliation. From their standpoint the murderers 
had perpetrated no crime, but had performed a meritorious and 
public-spirited act. Yet now that the white man's armies were 
at hand, they voluntarily surrendered themselves to save their 
countrymen from further punishment. 

About noon of the following day a body of Indians was 
descried approaching Whistler's camp. As they drew nearer 
the voice of Red Bird singing his death song could be heard. 
The military was drawn out in line to receive the delegation 
and a dramatic ceremony ensued. On the right and slightly 
advanced was the band of musicians. In front of the center, 
at a distance of a few paces, stood the murderers, Red Bird and 
WeKau; on their right and left, forming a semicircular group, 
were the Winnebagoes, who had accompanied them. All eyes 
were fixed on the magnificent figure of Red Bird: six feet in 
height, erect, and perfectly proportioned, his very fingers 
"models of beauty"; on his face the most noble and winning 
expression; his every movement imbued with grace and state- 
liness; his dress of barbaric splendor, consisting of a suit of 
white deer skin appropriately fringed and decorated, and over 
the breast and back a fold of scarlet cloth ; no wonder he seemed 
to the spectators, even of the hostile race, "a prince born to 
command and worthy to be obeyed." 

The effect of Red Bird's presence was heightened by the 
contrast, in all outward respects, presented by the miserable 
WeKau. "Meagre cold dirty in his person and dress 

" Thomas L. McKenney's narrative, Wisconsin Historical Collections, V, 178 fi. 


crooked in form like the starved wolf, gaunt, hungry, and 
bloodthirsty," his entire appearance accorded with the con- 
ception of a fiend who could scalp a babe in the cradle. 

Red Bird stood erect without moving a muscle or altering 
the expression on his face. The music having ceased and all 
being seated except the speakers, the latter began their address. 
Its substance was that two of the murderers had voluntarily 
surrendered themselves in response to the white man's demand; 
as their friends they had come in with them, and hoped their 
white brothers would agree to accept the horses they had brought 
in satisfaction of the offense. They asked kind treatment for 
their friends, and urged that they should not be put in irons. 
The spokesman for the whites replied with much advice, which 
was doubtless excellent from the white man's point of view. 
They were told that the prisoners should be tried by the same 
laws as the white man, and the promise was given that for the 
present they should not be put in irons. 

At the conclusion of the harangue Red Bird stood up facing 
Major Whistler. In physique and bearing the latter the same 
magnificent athlete who had bested the champion of the natives 
in the Fort Dearborn foot race a score of years before was a 
worthy representative of his race. After a moment's pause 
the words, "I am ready," came from the lips of Red Bird. 
Advancing a step or two he paused, saying, "I do not wish to 
be put in irons. Let me be free. I have given away my life it 
is gone" stooping and taking some dust between his fingers 
and thumb, and blowing it away "like that. I would not 
take it back, It is gone." Throwing his hands behind him to 
indicate that he was leaving all things behind, he marched 
briskly up to Major Whistler, breast to breast. A platoon 
wheeled backward from the center of the line of soldiery, Whistler 
stepped aside, Red Bird and WeKau marched through the line^ 
and were conducted by a file of men to a tent prepared for them 
in the rear, and the ceremony was concluded. 

The fate of Red Bird may quickly be told. Together with 
seven others of his tribe who had surrendered themselves to the 


whites he was taken to Prairie du Chien and imprisoned to 
await trial on the charge of murder. 794 Their imprisonment was 
regarded by the Indians as a punishment worse than death itself. 
Red Bird bore his confinement hardly and at length sickened 
and died. WeKau and another of his associates were finally 
brought to trial, in September, 1828. They were found guilty 
and sentenced to be hung on December 26, but before the time 
set for the execution arrived both were pardoned by President 
Adams. The other prisoners were discharged for lack of evidence 
to convict them. 

Although the Winnebago War was thus easily ended, it was 
not without important consequences. The Indians had been 
cowed, but not conciliated. The original cause for their dis- 
satisfaction had not been removed; the aggressions of the lead 
miners continued, and the specter of white domination still 
menaced them as before the uprising. The confinement and 
death of Red Bird, whom they believed to have been poisoned 
by the Americans, 795 did not tend to alleviate their dissatisfaction, 
while the withdrawal of the troops after the brief summer cam- 
paign of 1827 emboldened them again. At the close of the 
year 1827 Joseph Street, the Indian agent at Prairie du Chien, 
reported to Governor Edwards of Illinois that the Winnebagoes 
were greatly dissatisfied, and would, in his opinion, resist the 
execution of Red Bird if they could induce any other tribe to 
join them. 796 The following spring news was carried to the 
British post at Drummond's Island, to which place many of the 
American Indians resorted annually for presents, that several 
of the northwestern tribes were planning an uprising against 
the Americans. 797 

To restrain the dissatisfied tribes between Lake Michigan 
and the Mississippi by the presence of an adequate military 

'< Wisconsin Historical Collections, XI, 366-68; VIII, 264-65; Smith, History of 
Wisconsin, I, 250-51. 

i" Speech of Nayocantay at Drummond's Island, June 30, 1828, Michigan Pioneer 
Collections, XXIII, 146. 

'* Wisconsin Historical Collections, XI, 366-68. 

797 Michigan Pioneer Collections, XXIII, 144-51. 


force, it was determined permanently to regarrison Fort Craw- 
ford and Fort Dearborn, and in addition to establish a new post 
at the Wisconsin Portage. 798 To the latter was given the name 
of Fort Winnebago, and its garrison muster-rolls during the 
next few years contain the names of many men who later won 
national fame and reputation. 799 Our primary interest, however, 
is centered in Chicago. On October 3, 1828,- after an interval 
of five years, Fort Dearborn was reoccupied by a regular garrison 
of about sixty men, comprising companies A and I of the Fifth 
Infantry, under command of Major John Fowle. 800 The Fifth 
Regiment had been stationed at Jefferson Barracks prior to the 
Winnebago outbreak. In connection with the general shifting 
of troops and the re-establishment of garrisons occasioned by 
that trouble, to which allusion has already been made, the 
garrisons at Sault Ste. Marie, Mackinac, and Fort Howard, 
consisting of detachments of the Second Infantry, were moved 
down the lakes to Fort Gratiot and Fort Niagara, while the 
Fifth Regiment relieved the Second in garrisoning the places 
named and in addition sent two companies to reoccupy Fort 
Dearborn. 801 The latter probably came up the Illinois River 
route. The remaining eight companies moved up from St. 
Louis by way of the Wisconsin and Fox Rivers, with the expecta- 
tion that the march of so large a body of soldiery through the 
heart of their territory would produce a quieting effect upon the 
minds of the Winnebago and other tribes. 802 

For two and one-half years companies A and I of the Fifth 
Infantry continued to garrison Fort Dearborn. Major Fowle 
remained in command until December, 1830, when he was 
granted six months' leave of absence and Lieutenant Hunter 

' Wisconsin Historical Collections, XIV, 70-71. 

Among others may be mentioned Jefferson Davis, David E. Twiggs, William J. 
Worth, E. V. Summer, and E. Kirby Smith. See on this the "History of Fort Winnebago " 
in Wisconsin Historical Collections, XIV, 75 ff. 

Drennan Papers, Fort Dearborn post returns, October, 1828. 

toi Wisconsin Historical Collections, XIV, 70; Wentworth, Early Chicago, 27. 

" On the movement of the troops see Wisconsin Historical Collections, XIV, 70; 
Wentworth, Early Chicago, 27; statement of General Hunter in Hurlbut, Chicago Antiq- 
uities, 490. 


succeeded to the command. He later became prominent in his 
profession and during the Civil War rose to the rank of major- 
general. At this time he was a West Point graduate of eight 
years' standing, who since his arrival at Fort Dearborn in the 
autumn of 1829 had wooed and married Maria Indiana, the 
daughter of John Kinzie. Captain Martin Scott, another 
member of the little group of officers in this period, was noted 
for his eccentricities. 803 He was famous for his skill as a marks- 
man and passionately fond of hunting. Probably because of 
this trait, he maintained a numerous array of dogs. Both 
Scott and Hunter had been stationed at Fort Snelling, where 
each acquired a reputation for firmness, not to say obstinacy, 
in adhering to views which had once been formed. Upon one 
occasion they determined to find out by actual experiment 
which could abstain the longer from eating. At the end of two 
days Scott surrendered unconditionally; it was the general 
opinion of the garrison that Hunter would have perished rather 
than yield. 

Notwithstanding the scare which had caused the regarrisoning 
of Fort Dearborn, the months passed into years without any 
occasion for the actual services of the soldiers arising. In the 
spring of 1831 the fort was again abandoned, the garrison being 
ordered to Green Bay. 804 Less than a year later, however, 
Major Whistler, who had seen the first Fort Dearborn built in 
1803, was ordered from Fort Niagara to Chicago with two 
companies of the Second Infantry. 805 He arrived on June 17, 
1832, and for the third time since its rebuilding, less than a score 
of years before, Fort Dearborn housed a garrison. The order 
for its reoccupation was issued in February, but before Whistler's 
force arrived the Black Hawk War had begun and Chicago and 
Fort Dearborn were crowded with panic-stricken settlers. The 
disaffected Sac leader, Black Hawk, on April 6, at the head 

' For an intimate characterization of Captain Scott see Van Cleve, Three Score 
Years and Ten, chap. iii. 

< Wentworth, Early Chicago, 30. An account of the breaking-up of the garrison is 
given by Mrs. Kinzie in Wau Bun, chaps, xxiii and xxiv. 

Wentworth, Early Chicago, 30. 


of five hundred warriors and their squaws and children, had 
crossed the Mississippi River and begun the invasion of the 
state of Illinois. Therewith began for Illinois her last Indian 
war, and for Chicago and Fort Dearborn a period of excite- 
ment and activity on a greater scale than the place had ever 

The Black Hawk War constitutes one of the saddest chapters 
in all the long story of the spoliation of the red race at the hands 
of the white. Notable for the number of men of national promi- 
nence in American history who participated in it, it is no less 
notable for the blundering and unworthy course pursued by the 
whites, first in bringing it on and second in waging it to a con- 
clusion. The names of two Presidents of the United States, 
Abraham Lincoln and Zachary Taylor; of the only President of 
the Southern Confederacy, Jefferson Davis; of a presidential 
candidate, and for a full generation the most notable soldier in 
America, Winfield Scott; of senators and governors and generals 
in profusion A. C. Dodge, Henry Dodge, John Reynolds, 
George W. Jones, Sidney Breese, Henry Atkinson, Albert Sydney 
Johnston, Joseph E. Johnston, David E. Twiggs, S. P. Heintzel- 
man, John A. McClernand, E. D. Baker, William S. Harney, 
and Robert Anderson, among others furnish ample evidence 
that no other Indian war in American history was participated 
in by so many notable men. 806 

The history of the war may be found in many places, and the 
design of the present narrative is limited to a recital of it from 
the point of view of its bearing upon Chicago and the results 
for Chicago's development which proceeded from it. 8 7 Black 
Hawk had planned his return to Illinois under the belief that the 
Winnebagoes, Pottawatomies, and other tribes and even the 

This list of participants is drawn from the Drennan Papers, Fort Dearborn post 
returns, and Stevens, Black Hawk War, passim. 

Many contemporary narratives are printed in the volumes of the Wisconsin His- 
torical Collections; for the most part they should be used with discrimination. For a sane 
and useful brief account of the war see Thwaites, "Story of the Black Hawk War," in Wis- 
consin Historical Collections, XII, 217-65. Stevens, Black Hawk War, is a detailed and 
valuable narrative. In using it due allowance must be made for the author's too evident 
anti-Indian bias 


British would ally with him against the Americans. 808 Before 
the actual crossing he was partly disabused of this idea, but only 
in part. His immediate purpose was to raise a crop of corn on 
Rock River, with the Winnebagoes of that locality, and prepare 
for active warfare in the fall. This design was frustrated by the 
action of the whites. Governor Reynolds promptly called out 
the Illinois militia, and early in May four regiments, numbering 
sixteen hundred men, accompanied by Governor Reynolds him- 
self, were at Fort Armstrong, ready to co-operate with the small 
force of regulars under Atkinson in the pursuit and overthrow 
of Black Hawk's band. 809 

Meanwhile Black Hawk had learned in a council with the 
Pottawatomies that while Big Foot and some others were hot 
for war, the bands of Shabbona and Wabansia were determined 
to remain at peace with the whites. The news of Black Hawk's 
incursion spread rapidly among the scattered settlements, carry- 
ing in its train confusion and panic. Many of the settlers 
abandoned their homes and fled for protection to the larger 
settlements; some left the country never to return; others 
gathered for mutual protection within rude stockade forts, which 
were hastily improvised. On May 14 an advance division of the 
pursuing army under Major Stillman encountered Black Hawk 
and a small number of his warriors, and in the engagement that 
ensued the whites sustained a disgraceful defeat. 810 The raw 
Illinois militiamen, filled with zeal for the killing of Indians, 
rushed headlong into the contest, regardless of the efforts of 
their officers to restrain them. Although they outnumbered the 
Indians in the proportion of eight or ten to one, 8 " their flight, 
upon receiving the first fire of the latter, was no less precipitate. 
For all but a handful, who fell fighting bravely to cover the 
retreat, the flight continued to Dixon's Ferry, twenty-five miles 

Wisconsin Historical Collections, XII, 227, 231. 

'Ibid., XII, 232-34- 

" On the battle of Stillman's Run see ibid., XII, 236-39; Stevens, op. cit., chap, xix 

" Stillman's force numbered three hundred and forty-one men; Black Hawk stated 
that he had forty followers, and Reynolds credited him with not to exceed fifty or sixty 
(Wisconsin Historical Collections, XII, 235, 237). 


away, and many did not pause even here, but pressed madly on 
to their homes. 

In comparison with the panic which ensued upon the news 
of Stillman's overthrow, the earlier panic of the settlers, from 
which they had already recovered in a measure, seemed trivial. 8 " 
The terror excited by the exaggerated stories of the militia spread 
consternation, not only throughout the frontier immediately 
affected, but eastward into Indiana and southern Michigan. 813 
Rumor multiplied many fold the number of Black Hawk's 
followers. From Dixon's Ferry, on the day after the defeat 
of Stillman, Governor Reynolds "by the light of a solitary 
candle" penned a call for two thousand more volunteers. 814 
Shabbona and his friends, at the risk of their own lives, set 
forth to warn the settlers of their danger. 815 Most of them fled 
to cover. At Chicago, where the citizens had organized a 
militia company early in May, the whole surrounding popula- 
tion gathered within Fort Dearborn, with two hundred armed 
men on guard. Yet in the terror of the first panic an appeal was 
dispatched to the acting governor of Michigan for assistance. 816 

Of the scenes of wild confusion and fear which attended the 
flight of the settlers to Chicago and other points, and the hard- 
ships endured at Chicago, a graphic description has been left 
by one of the participants, Rev. Stephen R. Beggs. 817 He had 
recently settled at Plainfield, Illinois, when "the inhabitants 
came flying from Fox River, through great fear of their much 
dreaded enemy. They came with their cattle and horses, some 

8 " Ibid., XII, 238-40; Beggs, Early History of the West and Northwest, 97 B. 

*<> For a semi-humorous account of the panic in southwestern Michigan see Henry 
Little, "A History of the Black Hawk War in 1832," in Michigan Pioneer Collections, V, 
152 ff. On the scare in Indiana see, e.g., [Banta] History of Johnson County, Indiana, 


Stevens, op. cit., 139. 

s Ibid., 148; Wisconsin Historical Collections, XII, 39; Matson, Memories of Skau- 
bena, 114 ff. 

816 The muster-roll of the Chicago company is printed in Wentworth, Early Chicago, 
64-65. For the appeal to the acting governor of Michigan for assistance see letter of 
Thomas Owen, Indian agent at Chicago, May 21, 1832, printed in the New York Mercury, 
June 6, 1832. 

" Beggs, op. cit., 97 ff. 


bareheaded and others barefooted, crying, 'The Indians! The 
Indians!'" Those of the adjoining settlements who were able 
fled with all speed for Danville, only a few of the men remaining 
behind to look after their property as best they might. Some 
friendly Indians shortly came to allay their fears, but believing 
them to be hostile, without allowing them an opportunity to 
explain, the settlers mounted horses and fled after those who had 
gone before. The Indians pursued, seeking vainly to correct 
the mistake, but this served only to increase the terror of the 

The residents of Plainfield at first determined to defend 
themselves. The house of Beggs was turned into a fort, the 
outbuildings being torn down to furnish logs for the construction 
of a breastwork. Here one hundred and twenty-five people, old 
and young, assembled. Ammunition was scarce, however, and 
they had but four guns among them. As the next best means 
of defense a supply of axes, hoes, forks, and clubs was requisi- 
tioned. A few days later the Chicago militia to the number of 
twenty-five, hearing of their plight, came, accompanied by an 
equal number of friendly Indians, to the rescue. The next day 
militia and Indians in separate companies set forth to recon- 
noiter along the Fox. At nightfall one of the whites and a few 
of the Indians returned, bringing "fearful stories" of having 
been captured by the Indians, and the warning that Fort Beggs 
would be attacked that night or the next at the latest. 

This information precipitated a fresh panic. "The stoutest 
hearts failed them, and strong men turned pale, while women 
and children wept and fainted, till it hardly seemed possible to 
restore them to life, and almost cruel for them to return from 
their quiet unconsciousness to a sense of their danger." Imme- 
diate flight, either to Ottawa or Chicago, was debated, but after 
discussion was dismissed as impracticable, and the resolution 
was reached to remain in the fort and sell their lives as dearly 
as possible. Two days passed with occasional alarms, when 
every man was ordered to his post to prepare to meet an attack. 
Instead of the enemy, however, the Chicago militia appeared. 


The joy of the inmates of Fort Beggs was tempered by the news 
they brought of the terrible Indian Creek massacre a dozen 
miles north of Ottawa. 818 The Chicagoans advised the imme- 
diate abandonment of Fort Beggs and retirement either to 
Ottawa or Chicago. The latter destination was decided upon, 
and the ensuing night was spent in busy preparation for the 
march. Early the next morning the company set out. escorted 
by the Chicago militia, and by sunset had completed the forty- 
mile journey to Chicago and safety. 

Although Chicago afforded the fugitives a safe refuge, there 
was for them no cessation of hardship. The place was crowded 
to overflowing. Beggs and his wife were compelled to take up 
their abode in a room fifteen feet square, already occupied by 
several other families. The plight of the inmates under such 
conditions may easily be imagined. One afternoon in the midst 
of a violent thunderstorm a stroke of lightning broke open the 
end of their room and passed down the wall to the room beneath, 
leaving a charred seam within a few inches of a keg of gunpowder. 
The next morning Mrs. Beggs gave birth to a child. If the 
chronicler's statistics are accurate, fifteen infants were born 
during their stay at the fort. 

Whatever apprehensions of danger the refugees at Chicago 
were still under must have been materially relieved by the 
arrival on June 12 of a force of Michigan militia under General 
J. R. Williams. Assembled at Detroit and other points in the 
latter part of May, they had finally pushed forward, after 
numerous vicissitudes arising from incompetent leadership, to 
Chicago, where they assumed for a short time the responsibility 
of the defense of Fort Dearborn. 819 This service was terminated 
by the arrival successively, on June 17, of the two companies 
of regulars under Major Whistler from Fort Niagara, and five 
days later of a regiment of three hundred mounted militia from 

" This occurred on Tuesday, May 20, 1832. Beggs states (op. cit., 101) that the 
Chicagoans brought the news of it to Plainfield on Wednesday evening. For an account 
of the massacre and the narrative of the captivity of the Hall girls, the only prisoners taken, 
see Stevens, op. cit., 146 ff . 

' On the movements of the Michigan militia see Stevens, op. cit.., chap, xxxvii. 


Indiana. The Michigan troops were thereupon ordered to 
embark on board the "Napoleon" for transportation across the 
lake to St. Joseph, whence they were to be marched to Niles and 
mustered out of the service. Many of the settlers who had taken 
refuge at Fort Dearborn shortly began to depart, some of them 
under armed escort, for their homes. 820 Meanwhile from the 
seat of government at Washington the military had been set in 
motion for the scene of war, and Chicago became the appointed 
rendezvous for a larger body of soldiery than had ever yet been 
gathered here. From Fortress Monroe, Fort McHenry, Fort 
Columbus, Fort Niagara, Fort Gratiot, Fort Brady, and other 
places infantry and artillery to the number of one thousand men 
were started for Chicago, and General Winfield Scott was ordered 
from the seaboard to take charge of the operations against Black 
Hawk. 821 Three weeks after the arrival of Major Whistler's 
detachment General Scott arrived. With him, too, came a 
peril before which the menace of the hostile Indians paled into 
insignificance. Instead of peace and tranquillity, the settlers 
were plunged anew into panic by the appearance in their midst 
of the dreaded Asiatic cholera. 

From Europe where it had prevailed for many weeks the 
cholera crossed the ocean, making its first appearance in America 
at Quebec in the early part of June. 822 From here it quickly 
passed up the St. Lawrence to Montreal and then southward to 
Albany. The legislature of New York met in special session, 
June 21, to devise measures for preventing the spread of the 
disease, but less than two weeks later it reached New York City, 
and by July 4 eleven deaths from it had occurred there. The 
next day was observed as a day of fasting and prayer by many 
of the churches of the city but the plague rapidly increased in 
virulence and in the two weeks ending July 28 over fourteen 
hundred deaths occurred. By the end of August the disease 

'" Beggs, op. cit., 104. 

Drennan Papers, copies of orders to the various detachments, and post returns of 
the troops sent to Chicago; Wisconsin Historical Collections, XII, 241. 

'"New York Mercury, June 20, 1832, November 21, 1832, et passim. 


had practically spent its force in New York, but meanwhile the 
pestilential wave was passing southward and westward over the 
country. By late autumn it was estimated that one thousand 
deaths from cholera had occurred at Philadelphia and an equal 
number at Baltimore, and at New Orleans over a hundred 
persons a day were dying from cholera and yellow fever combined, 
a rate which, if continued, would depopulate the city in a year's 
time. 823 

During the latter part of June the various detachments 
of regulars from the Atlantic Coast were proceeding toward 
Chicago. 824 At Buffalo the troops embarked on board the 
steamers, "Henry Clay," "Superior," "William Penn," and 
" Sheldon Thompson." 825 While passing up the lakes the cholera 
made its appearance among the soldiers. More potent than the 
hostile red man, it disrupted the expedition. 826 Two of the 
vessels got no farther than Fort Gratiot, where the virulence of 
the pestilence compelled the soldiers to land. 827 The others 
continued, after a period of delay, to Chicago, where the troops 
were compelled to halt until the pestilence had spent its force 
and the survivors were again fit for the field. 

The ravages among the men of the detachment of Colonel 
Twiggs which was landed at Fort Gratiot were so awful as to 
banish discipline to the winds. 828 Those of the command who 

Ibid., November 21, 1832. 

M Drennan Papers, Fort Dearborn post returns. Six companies of artillery from 
Fortress Monroe left New York June 26, and on June 30 were at Clyde in that state. Com- 
pany E, Fourth Artillery, started from Fort McHenry, June 18. The route followed by 
the seaboard companies was by way of New York City to Buffalo and thence by vessel 
around the lakes. 

'* Letter of Captain A. Walker, October 30, 1860, in Chicago Weekly Democrat, 
March 23, 1861. 

116 For an account of Scott's expedition and the cholera outbreak see Stevens, op. cit., 
chap, xxxvi; Scott's own narrative is given in his Memoirs, I, chap, xviii; additional 
material occurs in Wentworth, Early Chicago, passim; Niles' Register, Vols. XLII and 
XLIII, passim; the New York Mercury for 1832, passim. 

'"Letter of Captain A. Walker in Chicago Weekly Democrat, March 23, 1861; letter 
from an officer on the Henry Clay, in New York Mercury, July 18, 1832. 

Letters of John Nowell in Niles' Register, July 28, 1832; of Captain A. Walker in 
Chicago Weekly Democrat, March 23, 1861; letters from Detroit (unsigned) in New York 
Mercury, July 18, 1832. 


were not stricken dispersed in every direction. Many, stricken 
later, died in the woods or along the roadway, the terrified 
inhabitants refusing them shelter or assistance. According to 
a letter from an officer of the Second Infantry, dated July n, 
of Twiggs' three hundred and seventy men, twenty or thirty had 
died and about two hundred had deserted. 829 From another 
contemporary newspaper report it appears that the detachment 
consisted of both infantry and artillery, and that the great 
majority of desertions occurred in the former branch of the 
service. 830 Of two hundred and eight recruits, thirty had died 
and one hundred and fifty-five had deserted; while of one 
hundred and fifty- two artillerymen, twenty-six had died and but 
twenty had deserted. 

No fatalities occurred on the "Sheldon Thompson," the 
steamer on which General Scott had embarked, until Mackinac 
had been passed and Lake Michigan entered. Before setting 
out for the Northwest Scott, anticipating an outbreak of the 
plague, had taken lessons from Surgeon Mower, stationed in 
New York, upon its character and treatment. 831 On Scott's 
particular steamer the disease broke out suddenly and with fatal 
violence. The only surgeon on board became panic-stricken, 
drank a bottle of wine, and went to bed sick, and, to quote the 
commander's grim comment, "ought to have died." In this 
crisis Scott himself turned doctor, applying as best he could the 
medicine and treatment suggested by Surgeon Mower. He him- 
self states that his principal success consisted in preventing a 
general panic. From beginning to end of the cholera visitation 
he set the example to his subordinates of exhibiting no sign of 
fear concerning it, visiting and personally attending to the wants 
of the afflicted. In comparison with this exhibition of fearless- 
ness, the courage required on the field of battle seems trivial. 832 

"New York Mercury, July 18, 1832. 

'" N ties' Register, August n, 1832. ' Scott, Memoirs, I, 218 ff. 

>>' The terror of the troops and of the citizens in the vicinity of Detroit has already 
been noticed. A concrete instance of the dread which the cholera inspired is given by 
Mrs. Kinzie, who was at Green Bay when the news of the approach of the plague reached 


Some time after the Mexican War, Scott told John Wentworth 
that he had often been in the midst of danger and suffering, but 
"he had never felt his entire helplessness and need of Divine 
Providence as he did upon the lakes in the midst of the Asiatic 
Cholera. Sentinels were of no use in warning of the enemy's 
approach. He could not storm his works, fortify against him, 
nor cut his own way out, nor make terms of capitulation. There 
was no respect for a flag of truce, and his men were falling upon 
all sides from an enemy in his very midst." 833 

The "Sheldon Thompson" reached Chicago on the afternoon 
of July io. 834 Since there was no harbor, and the bar at the 
mouth made it impossible for the vessel to enter the river, the 
troops must be landed in small boats, which was done the next 
day. The troops under Major Whistler, who had been occupying 
Fort Dearborn since June 17, were promptly moved out and 
on July 1 1 the fort was converted into a general hospital for the 
use of Scott's men. 835 During the night which elapsed between 
the arrival at Chicago and the landing of the troops the following 
morning three more of the company died and their bodies were 
consigned to the bottom of the lake. Years afterward the 
captain of the steamer recalled that their forms could plainly 
be seen through the clear water from the deck, exciting such 
disagreeable sensations in the minds of the beholders that it was 
deemed prudent to weigh anchor and shift the vessel a sufficient 
distance from the spot to shut out the gruesome sight. 836 

For several days the pestilence raged at Fort Dearborn with 
violence similar to that previously manifested at Fort Gratiot. 
The official medical report shows that two hundred cases were 

that place. She relates (Wait Bun, 340) that the news was brought to her by a relative, 
"an officer who had exhibited the most distinguished courage in the battlefield, and also 
in some private enterprises demanding unequalled courage and daring." When he had 
broken the news he "laid his head against the window-sill and wept like a child." This 
effect was produced, not by the actual presence of the pestilence, but by the news of its 
ravages at Detroit and the fear of its advent at Green Bay. 

" Wentworth, Early Chicago, 37. 

j Scott to Governor Reynolds, July 15, 1832, in Niks' Register, August n, 1832. 

" Drennan Papers, Fort Dearborn post returns, October, 1832. 

*i 6 Letter of Captain A. Walker, in Chicago Weekly Democrat, March 23, 1861. 


admitted to the hospital in the course of six or seven days, fifty- 
eight of which terminated fatally. 837 The terror which the 
cholera inspired was due as much, apparently, to the rapid 
progress of the disease as to the high percentage of mortality 
which prevailed among its victims. The first soldier who 
perished on the "Henry Clay" was stricken in the evening of 
July 5 and died seven hours later.* 3 * On Scott's vessel, the 
"Sheldon Thompson," men died in six hours after being in 
perfect health. Sergeant Heyl "was well at nine o'clock in the 
morning he was at the bottom of Lake Michigan at seven 
o'clock in the afternoon."* 39 The author of the statement 
which has just been quoted gives a graphic description of his 
own illness, from which at the time of writing he was in process 
of recovering. He was serving as officer of the day when the 
"Sheldon Thompson" arrived at Chicago, and superintended 
the landing of the sick on board the vessel. "I had scarcely got 
through my task," he wrote two days later, "when I was thrown 
down on the deck almost as suddenly as if shot. As I was walk- 
ing on the lower deck I felt my legs growing stiff from my knees 
downward. I went on the upper deck and walked violently to 
keep up the circulation of the blood. I felt suddenly a rush of 
blood from my feet upwards, and as it rose my veins grew cold 

and my blood curdled My legs and hands were cramped 

with violent pain."* 40 

Some interest attaches to the methods employed by physi- 
cians in treating the disease, especially in view of what transpired 

* Hyde, Early Medical Chicago, i8-ig. I have not had access to the original report 
on which this statement is based. Hyde says these two hundred cases occurred among 
"the Entire force of one thousand." This statement, which does not include Whistler's 
two companies, is evidently erroneous. The entire force ordered to Chicago numbered 
only a thousand men, and several hundred of these had already been dissipated through 
death and desertion, or by delaying at Fort Gratiot and elsewhere. I have not learned 
the number of men at Fort Dearborn at this time, but evidently it was much less than one 
thousand; the rate of sickness and mortality was, of course, correspondingly greater. 

j New York Mercury, July 18, 1832. 

'"Letter from an officer of Scott's command, dated Fort Dearborn, July 12, N ties' 
Register, August n, 1832. 



at Chicago. In general it may be said that on both sides of the 
ocean the medical profession was helpless to stay its course. 
In London over one-half of the twenty-three hundred and 
eighty- two cases which occurred prior to April 12 terminated 
fatally. 841 At the same time the deaths in Paris from cholera 
numbered several hundred daily. It was everywhere noted 
that persons addicted to intemperance were especially prone 
to fall before the disease. The first six victims among the 
soldiers on the "Henry Clay" were all intemperate men. 842 
The surgeon who attended Scott's men at Fort Dearborn treated 
all cases with calomel and blood-letting. This proved so 
efficacious, according to his report, that he regarded the disease 
as "robbed of its terrors." 843 In view of the nature of the 
remedies employed, and the fact that fifty-eight of the two 
hundred cases admitted to the hospital terminated fatally, in 
addition to the deaths which occurred on board the steamer, 
the grounds for his satisfaction are not entirely clear. But few 
fatalities occurred among the men of Major Whistler's two 
companies, who had been removed some distance from the 
fort and were attended by another physician, Doctor Harmon. 844 
Strangely enough he attributed his success to the fact that he 
did not employ calomel in the treatment of the disease. That 
some of the soldiers who came with Scott to Chicago were 
subjected to other treatment than the blood-letting and calomel 
described in the surgeon's report seems evident from the state- 
ments of the officer whose sudden seizure on board the "Sheldon 
Thompson" has been described. The doctor administered eight 
grains of opium to him and made him rub his legs as fast as he 
could; he was also made to drink a tumbler and a half of raw 
brandy. At the time of writing the patient described himself 
as "out of danger," but whether because of this treatment 
would be hazardous to affirm. 

New York Mercury, May 23, 1832. 

Letter from Fort Gratiot dated July 7, 1832; ibid., July 18, 1832. 

' Hyde, Early Medical Chicago, 19. 

> Ibid., 14. 


The spread of the contagion at Chicago was checked before 
the end of July, and on the twenty-ninth of the month Scott 
set out, accompanied by a few officers, along the Chicago- 
Galena trail for the seat of war, leaving orders for Lieutenant- 
colonel Eustis to follow him with all of the troops who should 
be able to move by the third of August. Scott reached Prairie 
du Chien and assumed command of the army on August 7, 
only to find that the war had been brought to a close. The 
Illinois militia under Henry and Dodge and the regulars under 
Atkinson had roused Black Hawk's band from the wilderness 
fastness to which it had retired in the neighborhood of Lake 
Koshkonong, and hotly pursued it across southern Wisconsin, 
through the beautiful Four-Lakes country where the capital of 
the state has since been located, to the Mississippi River about 
forty miles above the mouth of the Wisconsin. Here on August 2 
in the battle of the Bad Axe, which shortly degenerated into a 
massacre, Black Hawk's band was practically destroyed, and the 
war concluded. The red leader himself, seeing the end at hand, 
had deserted his party the night before the battle, and with a 
few followers had fled eastward to the Dalles of the Wisconsin. 845 
About three hundred of his deserted band succeeded in escaping 
across the Mississippi, either before or during the affair at the 
Bad Axe, but half of these were shortly slaughtered by a party 
of one hundred Sioux, whom General Atkinson had sent after 
them. Of the band of nearly one thousand persons who had 
crossed the Mississippi in April not more than one hundred and 
fifty lived to tell the tragic story of the Black Hawk War, "a 
tale fraught with dishonor to the American name." 846 

General Scott's first act after assuming command of the army 
was to order the discharge of the volunteers. 847 On August 10 
he started down the Mississippi by steamer to Fort Armstrong, 
intending there to bring the war to a formal close by the negotia- 
tion of a treaty of peace. The troops from Chicago, who were 

'"Thwaites, "Story of the Black Hawk War," in Wisconsin Historical Collections, 
XII, 258. 

''Ibid., XII, 261. Stevens, op. cit., 247-48. 


making their way, meanwhile, across Illinois to the seat of war 
in obedience to Scott's orders, were met at Dixon's Ferry by 
news of the termination of the war, and orders to change their 
destination to Fort Armstrong. Here, while awaiting the 
bringing-in of the prisoners, and examining those brought in 
to determine their share of responsibility for the war, Scott 
was once more confronted by the enemy that had wrought such 
havoc among the troops in the journey around the Lakes and at 
Chicago. About August 26 the cholera again broke out among 
his troops with all the virulence of a first attack. 848 Four 
companies of United States Rangers had been enlisted, one 
from Illinois, two from Indiana, and one from Missouri. 849 The 
Illinois company, while proceeding to the seat of war, had been, 
like Eustis' detachment of regulars from Chicago, directed to 
make its way to Rock Island. On the way down Rock River 
from Dixon's Ferry, the soldiers were attacked by cholera; 
some were left behind, ill, on the march, and others died after 
reaching camp near Rock Island. Whether or not it was 
brought by these troops, the disease soon made its appearance 
in Rock Island, the first death occurring August 27. 8s 

The outbreak of the plague halted, for the time being, the 
progress of arrangements for the treaty. The Indians who had 
not yet assembled were directed to remain away until a new 
summons should be sent them, and those at hand were permitted 
to disperse. In this connection there occurred a striking exhibi- 
tion of the red man's devotion to his code of honor. Among the 
prisoners whose cases were awaiting disposition were three Sacs 
who were accused of having murdered some Menominees in 
accordance with the Indian law of retaliation. Scott set them 
at liberty to seek safety in the prairies from the pestilence, having 
first exacted a promise that in response to a prearranged signal, 
to be hung out from a dead tree on the subsidence of the pest, 
they would return to stand their trial. The cholera having 

' Scott, Memoirs, I, 221; Wisconsin Historical Collections, X, 231. 

' Wisconsin Historical Collections, X, 231. 

Scott's Order No. :6, August 8, 1832, printed in Stevens, op. cit., 248-49. 


passed away the signal was displayed, and a day or two later 
the murderers presented themselves. 851 It is pleasing to be able 
to add that an appeal which Scott had already dispatched to 
Washington in their behalf met with a favorable response and 
that it was not necessary to take the lives of the men who 
esteemed their honor so highly. 

Scott's measures for coping with the cholera at Rock Island 
were no less energetic and courageous than those he had already 
taken in dealing with the earlier outbreak of the plague. In a 
characteristic order to his troops, issued the day after the first 
death occurred, he recited the facts of the situation and com- 
manded a strict observance of the proper sanitary regulations. 852 
He stated that having himself seen much of the disease, he knew 
the generating cause of it to be intemperance. Every soldier, 
therefore, who should be found intoxicated after the issuance 
of this order would be compelled, as soon as his strength should 
permit, to dig a grave large enough for his own reception, as 
such grave could not fail soon to be wanted "for the drunken 
man himself or some drunken companion." This order was 
given, it was added, as well to serve for the punishment of 
drunkenness as to spare good and temperate men the labor of 
digging graves for their worthless companions. 

The troops were camped in tents in close order exposed for 
several days to cold rains. 853 The groans and screams of the 
afflicted, audible to everyone, added to the horror of the scene. 
In the face of this situation the hearts of the stoutest quailed. 
Through it all General Scott ministered personally to the wants 
of the afflicted, officers and privates alike, freely exposing him- 
self to disease and death in the most terrible form, and by his 
example exciting confidence and courage in all. 854 The ravages 
of the cholera were finally checked by removing the troops from 

Stevens, toe. cit., Scott, Memoirs, I, 221-23. 
Stevens, op. cit., 248-49. 

Captain Henry Smith's narrative, in Wisconsin Historical Collections, X, 165. 
The author was himself an officer in General Atkinson's brigade during the war. 

m Ibid.; Scott, Memoirs, I, 230-32. 


their camp on Rock Island to small camps on the bluffs on the 
Iowa side of the Mississippi. 8ss 

On September 15 and 21, 1832, treaties were concluded by 
General Scott and Governor Reynolds, acting on behalf of the 
United States, with the Winnebago and the Sac and Fox Indians 
respectively, which formally terminated the war. 856 The former 
were compelled to cede their lands in southern Wisconsin to the 
United States, and accept in their stead a new home west of the 
Mississippi in the modern state of Iowa; the latter surrendered 
an important tract of their territory on the western side of the 
Mississippi, extending northward from the northern boundary 
of Missouri. Thus was punishment meted out by the victors 
to the Sacs and Foxes for their active participation in the war, 
to the Winnebagoes for the sympathy and covert assistance 
extended by them to the former. Black Hawk, the leader of 
the forlorn red hope in this disastrous foray, was taken, after 
several months' imprisonment, upon a tour of the East, with 
the design of imbuing him with a conviction of the futility of 
further resistance to the whites. Upon his return, shorn of all 
political power, he was permitted to live out the remainder of 
his life in retirement, the quiet and peace of which contrasted 
strangely with the tempestuousness of his active career. No 
better defense of his action in going to war with the whites can 
be made than he himself offered in the course of a Fourth of July 
speech shortly before his death: "Rock River was a beautiful 
country. I loved my towns, my cornfields, and the home of my 
people. I fought for it." 857 

Upon the conclusion of peace the troops which had been 
gathered at Rock Island were dispersed in various directions. 
The survivors of the six companies of artillery which had left 
Fortress Monroe in June for the seat of war returned to that 
place in November. Their return route from Rock Island was 
down the Mississippi and up the Ohio and the Kanawha to 

Flagler, Rock Island Arsenal, 22; Wisconsin Historical Collections, X, 166. 
s Treaties .... from 1778 to 1837, 503 ff. 
s' Stevens, op. oil., 271. 


Charleston and thence across Virginia to the final destination. 8 * 8 
On September 23 six companies of infantry of the Second and 
Fifth Regiments under Lieutenant-colonel Cummings left Rock 
Island for Chicago. 859 Seven days later the detachment was 
in camp, on the east branch of the "River du Pagan" near 
Chicago. 860 Evidently the "Du Pagan" was the modern Du 
Page. The next day Major Whistler's two companies of the 
Second Infantry, which were included in the detachment, moved 
into Chicago and once more took up their quarters in Fort Dear- 
born. Two days later, October 3, Lieutenant-colonel Cummings 
left Chicago for Fort Niagara with the two companies of the Fifth 
Infantry which had come from that place four months before to 
take part in the war. The destination of the remaining com- 
panies of the detachment which had marched from Rock Island 
to Chicago is not in evidence. 

Thus the Black Hawk War passed into history. It remains 
to speak of the momentous results for Chicago and the country 
west of Lake Michigan which accrued from it. By the war the 
beautiful region of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin was 
first fairly made known to the whites. "The troops acted as 
explorers of a large tract of which nothing had hitherto been 
definitely known among white men." 861 It has even been said 
that portions of the country which the armies traversed had 
previously been as little known to the Indians themselves "as 
the interior of Africa was to Stanley when he first groped his 
way across the Dark Continent." One of the Illinois militiamen 
wrote of the Four-Lakes country that if these lakes were any- 
where else they would be regarded as among the wonders of the 
world. 862 On the shores of one of them stands today the capital 
of Wisconsin, and on the very spot over which the troops of 

* Niks' Register, November 17, 1832. 

Drennan Papers, Fort Dearborn post returns for 1832. 


Thwaites, "Story of the Black Hawk War," in Wisconsin Historical Collections, 
XII, 264. 

" Wakefield, quoted in ibid., XII, 252. 


Dodge and Henry pressed in hot pursuit of the fleeing red men 
has grown up one of America's greatest universities. With the 
close of the war the East was flooded with books, pamphlets, 
and newspaper articles describing the newly discovered paradise. 
The result of this thorough advertising was a rush of immigrants 
to take possession of it. No other point in all the West profited 
by this as did Chicago. Her position at the foot of Lake Michi- 
gan, on the great highway of trade and travel between the lakes 
and the Mississippi, which it was expected the construction of 
the canal from the Chicago River to the Illinois, long under 
agitation, would shortly open up, secured to her commercial 
advantages which no other point in the Northwest could rival. 
Chicago became, therefore, the great entrepot for the onrushing 
tide of immigrants. In turn the development of her hinterland 
provided the substantial basis for a trade, growing ever vaster, 
of which Chicago constituted the natural outlet and center. 
The fulfilment of the prophecy made by Schoolcraft a dozen 
years before that Chicago would become the depot for the inland 
commerce between the northern and southern sections of the 
Union, and "a great thoroughfare for strangers, merchants, and 
travellers," was at hand. The lethargy of a century and a half 
was about to be thrown off, in the birth of a new Chicago whose 
name was to become the synonym for energy, enthusiasm, and 



The Treaty of Paris of 1783 which closed the Revolutionary 
War gave the new nation whose birth it marked the Mississippi 
River for its western boundary, and a line through the middle of 
the Great Lakes and extended thence to the Mississippi, as its 
boundary on the north. Until Wayne's victory over the north- 
western tribes in the battle of Fallen Timbers, in August, 1794, 
however, the grip of the red man upon the territory north of the 
Ohio River was practically unbroken. Certain treaties had been 
made, it is true, carrying cessions of land to the whites in this 
region, 863 but their validity was contested by powerful tribes and 
factions among the Indians, and the tide of white settlement was 
still confined to the country closely bordering upon the Ohio 
River. By the Treaty of Greenville, a year after his victory over 
the Indians, Wayne secured the cession by them to the United 
States of about twenty-five thousand square miles of land, com- 
prising roughly the southern half of the present state of Ohio 
together with a long and narrow strip of land in southwestern 
Indiana. 864 At the same time, however, the Indian ownership of 
the remainder of the Northwest, aside from certain reservations 
which were specially excepted, was conceded. The extinguish- 
ment of the Indian title, thus formally recognized, to the soil of 
the Northwest required two score years of time and the negotia- 
tion of dozens of treaties. Its consummation marked the passing 
of the red man from the imperial domain of the old Northwest. 

From the beginning of his term as governor of Indian Terri- 
tory, Harrison pursued the policy of procuring by treaties of 
cession the Indian lands. This policy was pressed by him, and 
later by other representatives of the national government in the 

See supra, pp. 109-10. 

For a further account of the terms of the treaty see pp. 124-25. 



Northwest, at every suitable opportunity. To the omnipresent 
land hunger of the whites the development of the agitation led by 
Tecumseh, and his brother, the Prophet, was primarily due. 
The treaties negotiated by Harrison at Fort Wayne in September, 
1809, by which almost three million acres of land was conveyed 
to the whites, especially angered Tecumseh, who threatened to 
put to death the chiefs who had signed them. 865 His purpose to 
form an Indian Confederacy to stay the farther advances of the 
whites and the alienation of the lands belonging to the Indians 
was boldly avowed to Harrison at Vincennes in August, 1810. 
He viewed the policy pursued by the United States of purchasing 
the red man's lands as "a mighty water ready to overflow his 
people," and the confederacy he was forming among the tribes to 
prevent any individual tribe from selling without the consent of 
the others was the dam he was erecting to resist this mighty 
water. 866 

Tecumseh's dam, however, proved ineffectual to accomplish 
its purpose. As well might he seek to turn back the waters of 
the Mississippi as to stay permanently the westward tide of white 
settlement. By treaty after treaty the red man's birthright was 
pared away, until he had lost possession of practically all of the 
old Northwest. The methods pursued in the negotiation of all 
these treaties were similar. They will be sufficiently illustrated 
in the account of the two Chicago treaties of 1821 and 1833. 

About the middle of the year 1804 the Sac Indians murdered 
three Americans who had settled above the mouth of the Missouri 
River. 867 Governor Harrison journeyed to St. Louis to demand 
from the representatives of the tribe to which the murderers 
belonged satisfaction for the offense. Advantage was taken of 
the situation to obtain from the Sacs and Foxes a cession of 
lands. By a treaty concluded November 3, 1804, in return for 
an insignificant consideration, 868 the two tribes ceded over fifty 

'* Supra, p. IQI. 

IM Drake, Tecumseh, i zg. ' Dawson, Harrison, 58 ff . 

Goods to the value of $2234.50 were given to the Indians, and the payment of an 
annuity of $1,000 was promise^ 1 


million acres of land in Missouri, Illinois, and Wisconsin to the 
United States. The portion of the cession east of the Mississippi 
included all the land between that stream and the Illinois River 
and its tributary, the Fox, extending northward to a line drawn 
from the latter stream to a point on the Wisconsin, thirty-six 
miles above its mouth. But this magnificent cession was ulti- 
mately to cost the Americans far more than the paltry sum 
stipulated in the treaty. Black Hawk and others of his faction 
among the Sacs protested that the chiefs who made the cession 
had acted without the authorization or knowledge of their 
people, 869 and the disputes engendered over the terms of the 
cession furnished the principal cause of the Black Hawk War. 

In August, 1816, the Indian title to that portion of the Sac 
and Fox cession lying north of a line drawn due west from the 
southern extremity of Lake Michigan was revived. 870 At the 
same time the United States secured possession of a strip of land 
lying along Lake Michigan ten miles north and ten miles south of 
the mouth of the Chicago River, and extending thence in a 
general southwesterly direction to the Fox and Illinois rivers, so 
as to give the whites control of the route by the Chicago River 
and Portage to the Illinois. Control over this strip of land was 
desired to facilitate the building of the proposed canal. "Of all 
the Indian treaties ever made, this will be remembered when all 
others, with their obligations, are forgotten." 871 The sectional 
surveys of the country lying on either side of the zone included 
in this cession of 1816 were made at different times. The section 
lines were not made to meet each other, and diagonal offsets 
along the entire length of the Indian grant resulted. So long as 
the present system of land surveys endures, all sectional maps of 
this portion of Illinois will be disfigured by the triangular fractions 
which resulted from this error in the original surveys. 

The various treaties by which the United States acquired the 
Indian title to the land of the Northwest were held at such places 

Black Hawk, Life, 27-28. 

"> Treaty of August 24, 1816, Treaties .... from 1778 to 1837, 197. 

" Blanchard, The Northwest and Chicago, I, 491. 


as best suited the convenience of the parties to the transaction. 
Two notable ones were concluded at Chicago, the first in 1821, the 
second twelve years later. Fortunately for the historian the 
scenes attending the negotiation of each of these treaties have 
been described by witnesses possessed of unusual narrative skill. 

The purpose of the Treaty of 1821 was to secure from the 
Pottawatomies a considerable tract of land in southern Michigan 
extending from Grand River southward to the northern boundary 
of Indiana. The United States Commissioners, Governor Cass 
and Solomon Sibley, accompanied by Henry R. Schoolcraft as 
secretary, left Detroit for Chicago July 3, 182 1. 872 The route 
from Detroit to Chicago usually followed at this time was the 
overland trail, which necessitated a journey of about three 
hundred miles; the alternative was to go by schooner or other 
vessel around the lakes, which entailed a journey twice as long. 
Cass's party pursued neither of these routes, however. Partly 
because of business on the Wabash, partly from a desire to explore 
the country, it was decided to travel in a large canoe by way of 
the Maumee and the Wabash rivers to the Ohio and thence to 
and up the Illinois to Chicago. 873 

Several weeks later the party was at Starved Rock on the 
Illinois. Here the canoe was abandoned because of the impossi- 
bility of proceeding farther by water and the journey was con- 
tinued on horseback. The last few miles of the way the travelers 
were almost constantly in the company of parties of Indians, 
dressed in their best attire and decorated with medals, feathers, 
and silver bands; all, like Cass's party, were making their way 
to Chicago to participate in the negotiations over the treaty. 874 
The gaudy and showy dresses of the Indians, with their spirited 
manner of riding and the jingling caused by the striking of their 
ornaments, created a novel and interesting scene. Since they 
were converging upon Chicago from all parts of an extensive 
circle of country, the nearer Cass and his associates approached 
the more compact the assemblage became, and they found their 

" Schoolcraft, Travels in the Central Portions of the Mississippi Valley, 15 ff. 
T Ibid., 9. Ibid., 335. 


cavalcade augmented and the dust, confusion, and noise increased 
at every bypath which intersected their way. 

In all three thousand Indians gathered at Chicago to attend 
upon the work of treaty making. To accommodate this assem- 
blage an "open bower" had been erected on the north side of the 
river under the guns of the fort to serve as the council house. 875 
At the first formal session of the council, which occurred on 
August 17, Cass set forth in a short speech, the delivery of which 
was punctuated at every point by the "hoah," indicative of 
attention, the object of the government in calling the red men 
together. Without in any way indicating their attitude, the 
chiefs adjourned for deliberation. Two days later they were 
ready with their answer, which was delivered by the Wabash 
chieftain, Metea, the greatest orator of the Pottawatomies. 
With a mixture of boldness and humility he advanced a number 
of reasons for aversion on the part of the red men for making the 
cession desired, and concluded with a flat refusal of Cass's 
proffer. Speech-making in profusion followed, interspersed with 
frequent adjournments, in the course of which day after day 
passed away. From the point of view of the Indians there was 
no reason for hurry. They were being entertained and fed at the 
expense of the government, and it was natural that they should 
improve the opportunity to the utmost. Not only was the 
occasion an enjoyable one, but by assuming a recalcitrant atti- 
tude and prolonging the council a better bargain might be driven. 

Some misapprehensions concerning the terms of a former 
treaty were effectually dispelled by the commissioners, the 
wavering and the stubborn were won over, and on August 29 the 
treaty was concluded. 876 The Ottawa tribe was to receive an 
annuity of one thousand dollars forever, while the Pottawato- 
mies were to be paid five thousand dollars annually for twenty 
years. On behalf of the Ottawas the government agreed, also, 
to expend fifteen hundred dollars annually for ten years for the 
support of a blacksmith and a teacher and the promotion of the 

Schoolcraft, op. cit., 337 ff. 

' For it see Treaties .... from 1778 to 1837 297 ff. 


arts of civilization. In similar fashion the sum of one thousand 
dollars was to be expended annually for fifteen years for the 
maintenance of a teacher and a blacksmith among the Potta- 

The foregoing provisions were of general application. The 
treaty contained in addition a list of special reservations of tracts 
of land which were granted to individuals, usually of mixed 
descent. The story of the influences responsible for these 
provisions of the treaty afford a view of the methods by which the 
terms of such cessions in the Indian treaties of this period were 
ordinarily devised. The provisions for supporting the work of 
instructing and civilizing the Indians were due to the exertions of 
Rev. Isaac McCoy, the founder of Carey's Mission among the 
Pottawatomies, near the modern city of Niles. Unable himself 
to come to Chicago, he sent a representative to urge upon both 
the commissioners for the United States and the Indians the 
recognition of his project for establishing a mission among the 
latter. 877 Of more importance, he enlisted the support of Colonel 
William A. Trimble, who had recently resigned his office in the 
army and become a United States senator from Ohio. On his 
way to Chicago to attend the council he stopped at Carey's, and 
having listened to McCoy's unfolding of his plans and his need of 
aid to realize them, promised to exert his influence in the mission- 
ary's behalf at Chicago. Largely because of this championship, 
apparently, the provisions already recounted for the support of 
blacksmiths and teachers among the tribes involved in the 
cession were made. Shortly afterward McCoy received the 
appointment as teacher of the Pottawatomies, and his associate, 
Mr. John Sears, the similar appointment among the Ottawas, 
while the selection and control of the blacksmiths was also 
confided to McCoy. 878 

" To bring about such an arrangement as this," wrote McCoy, 
"had cost us much labor, watchfulness, and anxiety. Others, in 
their intercourse with the Indians, had money and goods with 

" McCoy, History of Baptist Indian Missions, 113. 
" Cass to McCoy, July 16, 1822, ibid., 145 ff- 


which to purchase their consent to measures to which they other- 
wise felt disinclined; but we had neither money nor consciences 
that could be thus used." 879 The significance of this statement 
becomes evident upon examination of the list of special reserva- 
tions provided for by the treaty. The traders and their half- 
breed families and their descendants, shrewder and more influ- 
ential than the full-blooded Indians, provided for their future 
welfare by procuring the reservation to themselves of generous 
tracts of land. That these special grants of land were obtained 
by the use of improper methods and influences, as McCoy has 
charged, can scarcely be doubted. 880 One of the witnesses to the 
treaty was Jean Baptiste Beaubien, the Chicago trader. It can 
hardly be deemed a mere coincidence that among the grants to 
individuals are included one half-section of land to each of his 
sons, Charles and Madore, by his Ottawa squaw, Mahnawbun- 
noquah, who had by this time been dead for many years. To the 
chieftain Peeresh, or Pierre Moran, who guided Cass's party 
from Starved Rock to Chicago, 881 and whose racial affiliations 
are sufficiently indicated by his name, was granted one section 
of land at the mouth of the Elkhart River, while two more 
sections were reserved for his children. "To William Knaggs, or 
Waseskukson, son of Chesqua, one-half of a section of land," reads 
another clause of the treaty. Reference to the list of witnesses 
who signed it reveals the name of "W. Knaggs, Indian Agent," 
and this individual acted as interpreter during the negotiation of 

"McCoy, op. cit., 113-14. 

The policy of bribing the leaders among the Indians was deliberately adopted by the 
agents of the government, including such men even as Lewis Cass. On January i, 1821, 
Alexander Wolcott, the Chicago agent, thus addressed Cass relative to the contemplated 
Indian treaty and the expenses of his agency for the ensuing year: "To induce the Pottawato- 
mies to sell their lands, particularly the district of Saint Joseph's to which they are much 
attached it will be requisite to bribe their chief men by very considerable presents and 
promises; and that should be done, in part at least, before the period of treating arrives, so 

that time may be given for its effects to spread through the body of the nation In 

short, it appears to me that a small portion of the sum appropriated to the treaty can be 
disposed of in the best and most efficient manner in conciliating and securing before hand 
the principal men of the nation" (Indian Department, Cass Correspondence, Wolcott to 
Cass, Jan. i, 1821). Cass in reply expressed his approval of the proposal. 

181 Schoolcraft, op. cit., 321. 


the treaty. 882 Pierre Le Clerc, or Le Claire, the half-breed who 
had assisted in negotiating the surrender of the defeated Fort 
Dearborn garrison in August, 1812, now received a section of 
land on the Elkhart, and his brother, Jean B. Le Clerc, half as 
much. Another participant in the Fort Dearborn massacre, Jean 
Baptiste Chandonnai, whose activities as a trader at Chicago 
and elsewhere have already received our attention, 883 was 
granted two sections of land. 

Among the most highly favored recipients of special grants 
by this treaty were the traders Burnett and Bertrand, and their 
families. Burnett had married KawKeemee, the sister of the 
Pottawatomie chieftain, Topinabee, and Bertrand had also 
married a squaw. The success of these families in securing 
special favors for themselves from the Indians and the govern- 
ment is evidenced by the recurrence of their names in many 
treaties. Both Burnett and Bertrand were present at Chicago 
and exerted their influence in support of the commissioners at a 
critical stage in the negotiations. 884 John Burnett received by 
the treaty two sections of land, and four of his children one 
section each, near the mouth of the St. Joseph River. To the 
wife of Bertrand was given one section of land, and to each of her 
five children one half -section. To John La Lime, son of Noke- 
noqua, a half-section of land was granted. Presumably he was 
the son of the Fort Dearborn interpreter slain by John Kinzie in 
1812. The latter was now sub-Indian agent, and assisting in the 
negotiation of the treaty. Whose influence was responsible for 
the special grant to young La Lime can only be conjectured. 

The fatal love for liquor which was working the ruin of the 
Indians was significantly manifested during the course of the 
negotiations over this treaty. To their honor the commis- 
sioners determined not to supply the Indians with liquor until 
the negotiations should be concluded. This did not meet the 
approval of the latter, however, and in his speech of August 
22 Metea gave expression to their dissatisfaction. 885 Cass 

" Ibid., 365. Schoolcraft, op. cit., 352-53. 

"i Supra, p. 277. "s Ibid., 350. 


answered him with a spirited rebuke, repelling the implication of 
parsimony and showing that the liquor had been denied the 
Indians out of regard for their own welfare, that they might be 
able to keep sober and protect their interests in the negotiations. 
He concluded by painting the baneful influence of whisky upon 
them, and appealing to them to wait, if they were determined to 
drink, until a proper time. The rebuke was effective in quieting 
their importunities upon the subject until the negotiations were 
concluded a week later. Then their pent-up thirst for the 
liquor, which they had stipulated should accompany the distri- 
bution of goods, overcame their power of self-control. The aged 
Topinabee pleaded with Cass for the "milk" he had brought for 
them, but was told that the goods were not yet ready to be issued. 
"We care not for the land, the money, or the goods," he rejoined; 
"it is the whisky we want give us the whisky." The whisky 
was shortly provided, and within twenty-four hours ten shocking 
murders had been committed. 886 

The inrush of white settlers which followed the close of the 
Black Hawk War made necessary the early removal of the 
Indians from northern Illinois. The Pottawatomies and allied 
tribes still held title to a large tract of land between Lake 
Michigan and Rock River and extending northward from the 
line drawn due west through the southernmost point of Lake 
Michigan. With a view to securing the cession of this land and 
the removal of its owners to some point west of the Mississippi, 
the last and greatest Indian council ever held at Chicago was 
convened in September, 1833. It was meet that every warrior of 
the tribes concerned in the proposed negotiation should attend 
the grand pow wow, bringing his squaws, papooses, ponies, ard 
dogs with him, and accordingly several thousand Indians 
assembled. 887 From far and near, too, gathered "birds of 

886 Schoolrcaft, op. cit., 387-88; McCoy, op. cit., 116, 146-47. 

8 " Latrobe (Rambler in North America, II, 201) says the number was estimated at five 
thousand. Shirreff says (Tour through North America, 227) "it was supposed nearly 8,000 
Indians were assembled." Porter says (Earliest Religious History of Chicago, 71) that on 
the appointed day "Indians began to pour in by thousands." All three writers were in 
Chicago while the treaty was being negotiated. 


passage" of the white race, representing every gradation of 
character from rascality to respectability. 

The Chicago of September, 1833, was "a mush-room" village 
of a few score houses. 888 Most of them had been hastily erected 
since the preceding spring and were small and unsubstantial. 889 
"Frame and clapboard houses were springing up daily," wrote 
Latrobe, the English traveler, who visited Chicago while the 
council was in progress, " under the active axes and hammers of 
the speculators, and piles of lumber announced the preparation 
for yet other edifices of an equally light character." 890 The one 
business street of the place was South Water Street, along which 
a row of one-story log houses sprawled westward from the reser- 
vation, its monotony only slightly broken by the two or three 
frame stores which the village at this time boasted. 891 The 
unwonted concourse of visitors in attendance upon the treaty 
taxed the accommodations of the place to the utmost. There 
were "traders by scores and hangers-on by hundreds." 892 
According to one observer, a stranger to America, a "general 
fair" and "a kind of horse market" seemed to be in progress. 893 
Large wagons drawn by six or eight oxen and heavily loaded with 
merchandise were arriving and departing. In the picturesque 
language of Latrobe there were "emigrants and land speculators 
numerous as the sand, horse dealers and horse-stealers rogues 
of every description, white, black, brown, and red half-breeds, 
quarter-breeds, and men of no breed at all; dealers in pigs, 
poultry, and potatoes; men pursuing Indian claims, some for 
tracts of land, others for pigs which the wolves had eaten; 
creditors of the tribes, or of particular Indians, who know they 
have no chance of getting their money if they do not get it from 
le government agents; sharpers of every degree; peddlers, 

" Shirreff (op. cit., 226) gives the number of houses as about one hundred and fifty. 
Latrobe (op. cit., II, 206) speaks of "the half a hundred clapboard houses." 

88 ' Latrobe, op. cit., II, 209; Hoffman, Winter in the West, I, 199, 202; letter of Charles 
Butler in Andreas, History of Chicago, I, 129-30. 

Latrobe, op. cit., II, 209. 

Porter, Earliest Religious History of Chicago, 70. 

> Ibid., 71. '" Shirreff, op. cit., 228. 


grogsellers; Indian agents and Indian traders of every descrip- 
tion, and Contractors to supply the Pottawatomies with food." 894 

The few primitive hotels were, of course, utterly unable to 
accommodate comfortably the crowds of strangers who clamored 
for board and lodging. Latrobe characterizes his hotel, which 
was, apparently, the Sauganash, kept by Mark Beaubien, as "a 
vile, two-storied barrack," within which "all was in a state of 
most appalling confusion, filth and racket." 895 The public table 
was such a scene of confusion that the traveler felt compelled to 
avoid it. The French landlord was "a sporting character" and 
"everything was left to chance, who in the shape of a fat house- 
keeper, fumed and toiled around the premises from morning 
to night." 

The character of the impression which the traveler forms 
is determined as much by his standard of judgment as by the 
conditions he actually encounters. Latrobe was a cultivated 
English gentleman, habituated to another manner of life than 
that which prevailed upon the American frontier. The picture 
drawn by Shirreff, himself a sturdy farmer, of Chicago's inns in 
September, 1833, is perhaps fairer than that of Latrobe; yet even 
when measured by his more lenient standards the conditions 
described seem crude enough. 8 ' 6 His hotel was so disagreeably 
crowded that the landlord could not positively promise a bed, 
although he would do his best to accommodate his guests. His 
house was "dirty in the extreme, and confusion reigned through- 
out," but the traveler temperately observes that the extraor- 
dinary circumstances of the village went far to extenuate this. 
The table was amply supplied with substantial provisions, 
although they were indifferently cooked and served "still more 
so." At bedtime the guest was assigned to a dirty pallet in the 
corner of a room ten feet square which contained two small beds 
already occupied. But he was not to enjoy even this poor retreat 
without molestation. Toward morning he was aroused from a 
sound sleep by "an angry voice uttering horrid imprecations," 

'< Latrobe, op. cil., II, 206. 

s Ibid., II, 209. * Shirreff, op. cit., 228-29. 


accompanied by a demand to share the bed. The lighted candle 
in the hands of the speaker showed that the intruders were 
French traders. Shirreff checked their torrent of profanity with 
a dignified rebuke, which caused them to withdraw from the 
room, leaving him in undisturbed possession of the bed. 

The thousands of savages congregated to barter away their 
birthright presented an extraordinary spectacle. 897 Although 
several different tribes were represented, their dress and appear- 
ance depended upon individual caprice and the means of gratify- 
ing it. rather than upon tribal customs and distinctions. Those 
who possessed the means generally attired themselves in fantastic 
fashion and gaudy colors. As a rule the warriors were attired 
more gaily and were more given to dandyism than were the 
squaws. All of the men, except a few of the very poorest, wore 
breechclouts and blankets. Most of them added to these articles 
leggings of various colors and degrees of ornamentation; while 
those who were able disported themselves in loosely flowing 
jackets, rich sashes, and gaudy shawl or handkerchief turbans. 
The squaws wore blue or printed cotton cloths and the richei 
ones had embroidered petticoats and shawls. The various 
articles of clothing of both men and women were covered with 
gewgaws of silver and brass, glass beads, and mirrors, such as 
had from time immemorial been supplied to the Indians by the 
traders. The women wore ornaments in their ears and occasion- 
ally in their noses, while the faces of both sexes were bedaubed 
with paint, blue, black, white, and vermilion, applied according 
to more or less fanciful designs. 

On every hand the camps of the natives were to be seen. The 
woodlands and prairies surrounding the village, and the sand 
hills along the lake shore, were studded with their wigwams, 
while herds of ponies browsed in all directions. Along the river 
were many groups of tents, constructed of coarse canvas, 
blankets, and mats, surrounded by poles supporting meat, 
moccasins, and rags. The confined area within was often covered 

"' For the picture that follows I have drawn on the works of Latrobe, Shirreff, and 
Porter, already cited. 


with half-rotten mats or shavings, over which men, women, 
children, and baggage sprawled promiscuously. 

The treaty-making offered to the red man an opportunity of 
indulging in an extended carousal. Supplied with food by the 
commissioners and with liquid refreshment by the traders, for 
the present his cup of contentment overflowed. Gossiping, gam- 
bling, racing, and loafing were the order of the day. "Far and 
wide the grassy Prairie teemed with figures; warriors, mounted 
or on foot, squaws, and horses. Here a race between three or 
four Indian ponies each carrying a double rider, whooping and 
yelling like fiends. There a solitary horseman with a long spear, 
turbaned like an Arab, scouring along at full speed; groups of 
hobbled horses; Indian dogs and children, or a grave conclave of 
grey chiefs seated on the grass in consultation." 8 ' 8 

Of one of these "grave conclaves" a story has been handed 
down which smacks strongly of the age of chivalry. 8 " Two 
finely built young men who were the best of friends, the sons of 
two chiefs, Seebwasen and Sanguanauneebee, were courting the 
same young squaw, the daughter of Wampum, a Chippewa chief 
from Sheboygan. The lovers had proposed to decide the ques- 
tion as to which should possess the girl by fighting a duel. Their 
fathers had submitted this proposition to a council for decision. 
The result of the weighty deliberation was that the youths should 
fight to the death, the survivor to take the girl. They were 
brought before their elders and informed of this decision. Their 
ponies were brought forth, their manes and tails were decked 
with ribbons, and the saddles and the duelists themselves with 
beads, brooches, and other ornaments. After the ponies had 
been driven once or twice around the council place, the duelists 
and their friends set out for the place of encounter, swimming 
their horses across the river, and drew up at an open spot on the 
north side. Crude flags attached to poles stuck up in the sand 
gave notice that a fight to the death was impending, while guards 

'' Latrobe, op. cit., II, 210. 

For it see Wisconsin Historical Collections, XV, 460-63. The story as at present 
preserved was told to the secretary of the Wisconsin Historical Society by the son of the 
Milwaukee trader, Jacques Vieau, who attended the negotiation of the treaty. 


were placed to clear a ring for the encounter. Outside the ring, 
alone, her arms akimbo and her attitude one of indifference, 
stood the girl over whom the duel was to be waged. The time 
was an hour before sundown, and four or five hundred spectators, 
Indians and white men, were gathered around. 

One of the duelists wheeled to the right and the other to the 
left. Then their horses were brought sideways together, head to 
tail and tail to head. As the signal was given each fighter drew 
his long-bladed knife. A hubbub arose among the spectators as 
they clashed, the squaws rending the air with their cries. Thrust 
followed upon thrust, the blood spurting forth as each blow was 
given. The bloody work could not continue long, of course. 
Soon Sanguanauneebee's son cried out in his death agony and 
toppled over backward, his arm raised for a blow, his opponent's 
knife in his spine. A moment later Seebwasen's son fell over 
and died. The girl, bereft of both her lovers, at last manifested 
some concern, and wrung her hands in frenzy. The assemblage 
dispersed and the primitive tragedy was ended. 

It is painfully evident from a study of the treaty and of the 
descriptions of the scenes attending its negotiation which have 
come down to us, that the public sentiment of the frontier had 
become demoralized by the opportunities for dishonest gain 
afforded by the cession of the lands belonging to the red man. 
Unscrupulous individuals were never lacking to take advantage 
of these opportunities, and others, who under a proper system of 
administration of affairs pertaining to the Indians would have 
scorned corrupt practices, permitted their honesty to be under- 
mined by the influence of the example of their fellows in the mad 
scramble for plunder. The Treaty of 1833 afforded the last, and 
at the same time the greatest, opportunity at Chicago for indi- 
viduals to enrich themselves at the expense of the Indians or of 
the government of the United States. Since both the red man 
and the government submitted meekly to the process, a carnival 
of greed and graft ensued. 

A set of temporary plank huts had been erected on the north 
side of the river for the accommodation of the commissioners and 


their dependents, and a "spacious open shed" had been con- 
structed, also on the north side, to serve as the council house. 900 
The commissioners were Governor George B. Porter of Michigan, 
Thomas J. V. Owen, Indian agent at Chicago, and William 
Weatherford. About the middle of September they assembled 
the chiefs in a preliminary council and Governor Porter explained 
the purpose of the assembly, urging upon them the wisdom of 
acceding to the government's wishes. The chiefs received the 
proposal without enthusiasm, disclaiming any desire to part with 
their lands. The request that they return a prompt answer to 
the government was negatived with equal decision. The next 
day they indulged in a "begging dance" through the streets of 
the town. Half a hundred painted Indians on horseback 
followed some thirty naked savages on foot, as they danced, 
whooped, and shouted from the fort down South Water Street, 
stopping before each door to receive whisky, tobacco, or bread. 
To the pioneer minister of the gospel who reports the scene they 
appeared like the very incarnation of evil. Several days passed. 
In vain the signal gun from the fort boomed out its daily notice 
of the assemblage of the council, for the chiefs would not assemble. 
At length, on the afternoon of September 21 they were induced to 
come together. The council fire was kindled and the commis- 
sioners and interpreters gathered at one end of the chamber, 
while twenty or thirty chieftains occupied the other. The rela- 
tive positions of the groups of white and red men representing 
the two races seemed to typify their relation to each other: 
"The glorious light of the setting sun streaming in under the low 
roof of the council-house, fell full on the countenances of the 
former as they faced the West while the pale light of the East 
hardly lighted up the dark and painted lineaments of the poor 
Indians whose souls evidently clave to their birth-right in that 
quarter." 901 

For a few days longer the Indians refused the proffered 
terms. At length, urged by the agents and traders, the chiefs one 

For the further account of the negotiations I have drawn upon the works of Latrobe, 
Shirreff, and Porter, as before; chiefly, however, upon Latrobe. 
" Latrobe, op. cit., II, 214. 


after another submitted to the inevitable, until, on September 
26, the treaty was concluded. The real significance of the 
submission cannot be better stated than in the words of 
the talented Latrobe, who was a keen-sighted spectator of the 
proceedings. "The business of arranging the terms of an Indian 
Treaty," he observed, "lies chiefly between the various traders, 
agents, creditors, and half-breeds of the tribes, on whom custom 
and necessity have made the degraded chiefs dependant, and the 
Government Agents. When the former have seen matters so far 
arranged that their self-interest, and various schemes and claims 
are likely to be fulfilled and allowed to their heart's content the 
silent acquiescence of the Indian follows of course; and till this 
is the case the Treaty can never be amicably effected." 902 

The treaty 903 provided that the Pottawatomies and allied 
tribes should cede their lands to the west of Lake Michigan and 
their remaining reservation in southwestern Michigan, supposed 
to contain about five million acres, to the United States, and 
within three years' time remove beyond the Mississippi River. 
In return they were to receive five million acres of land in the 
West for their new home; the United States was to transport 
them thither and pay the cost of their support for one year after 
their arrival; and the expenditure in their behalf of sums of 
money aggregating almost a million dollars was agreed upon. 
These provisions were regarded as very liberal on the part of the 
United States. 904 In comparison with similar treaties of the time 
this view was doubtless justified; but an examination of the 
disposition of the money which the United States was to pay 
confirms Latrobe's account of the influence by which the terms 
of the treaty were shaped. Except for a few minor bequests the 
entire sum appropriated was devoted to six principal purposes 

Ibid., II, 215. An editorial in the first number of the first newspaper published iu 
Chicago, commenting on the difficulties encountered by the commissioners in the early 
stages of the negotiations, says: "The various and clashing interests of the Traders were 
powerfully operating, and altogether seeme d, for some days, to render doubtful the accom- 
plishment of this great and vastly important object" (Chicago Weekly Democrat, November 
26, 1833). 

> For it see U.S. Statutes at Large, VII, 431 ff. 

< Porter, op. cit., 72. 


which fall naturally into two groups of three each. The sum of 
three hundred and twenty thousand dollars was devoted to the 
payment for twenty years of an annuity of sixteen thousand 
dollars. For the erection of mills, blacksmith shops, and houses, 
the employment of physicians, blacksmiths, and mechanics, and 
the promotion of civilization generally, one hundred and fifty 
thousand dollars were set aside; while the sum of seventy 
thousand dollars was devoted to educational purposes and the 
encouragement of the domestic arts. 

This group of provisions, which were calculated to redound 
to the advantage of the red man, requires no discussion. The 
second group, from which he derived little or no advantage, calls 
for extended consideration. It was agreed that goods and pro- 
visions to the value of one hundred and twenty-five thousand 
dollars should be distributed to the Indians, one portion at the 
conclusion of the negotiations, the residue during the ensuing 
year. The sum of one hundred and ten thousand dollars was 
devoted to the satisfaction of " sundry individuals in behalf of 
whom reservations were asked, which the Commissioners refused 
to grant." A list of the persons thus favored, together with the 
amount granted to each, was appended to the treaty as Schedule 
A. Finally, provision was made for the payment of one hundred 
and seventy-five thousand dollars to various individuals to satisfy 
claims made by them against the tribes concerned in the treaty, 
" which they have admitted to be justly due." The list of 
claimants with the amount allowed in each case constituted 
Schedule B of the treaty. 

It was in connection with the contents of Schedules A and B 
that the most striking display of greed and dishonesty occurred. 
Judged by the standards of the time, some of the requests for 
reservations were doubtless proper; measured by the same 
standards, too, some of the claims advanced were probably valid; 
yet there is no room to doubt that a large proportion of the grants 
to individuals under these two heads were improperly made. " It 
was an apportionment," remarks Andreas of the one hundred 
and seventy-five thousand dollars granted under Schedule B, "of 


the ready money of the tribes among all the whites who could 
bring a claim against an Indian. The honest debtor and the 
unjust and dishonest claimant absorbed the fund. How large a 
portion of it represented robbery, theft, and perjury will never be 
known until the great book is opened at the last day." 905 

Doubtless this is true, yet the impropriety of many of the 
claims allowed is patent even today. The story of " Snipe" and 
his claim for pay for hogs which the wolves had eaten is probably 
fairly typical of the groundlessness of most of these claims. 
"Snipe," whose real name, unfortunately, has not been recorded, 
was a farmer from the St. Joseph country, who came to Chicago in 
the same stage which brought Latrobe and Shirreff , to prosecute 
a claim against the Indians, which on his own statement of the 
case was improper. 906 He had intended to make a great deal of 
pork that season, but upon collecting his hogs from the woods, 
where they had run for five months, he could number only 
thirty-five instead of fifty-five. The Indians had been hunting 
hogs, he stated, and he expected the government agents to allow 
his claim for the twenty which were missing. 

Due provision was, of course, made for the influential chiefs, 
who were frequently half-breeds, and either themselves engaged 
in the Indian trade or the descendants of traders. To Billy 
Caldwell and Alexander Robinson life annuities of four hun- 
dred and three hundred dollars respectively were granted. In 
addition, each was to be given ten thousand dollars, although 
before payment this sum was cut in half in each case. Besides 
these provisions Caldwell's children were granted six hundred 
dollars, and the children of Robinson four hundred. Pokagon, 
the St. Joseph River chieftain, received two thousand dollars. 
The families of Burnett and Bertrand, the St. Joseph traders, 
were well provided for. The various members of the latter 
family alone received grants aggregating thirty-nine hundred 
dollars. Jean Baptiste Chandonnai received one thousand 
dollars under schedule A, and two thousand five hundred under 

Andreas, History of Chicago, I, 126-27. 

' For the story of "Snipe" see Latrobe, op. cit., II, 188-89; Shirreff, op. cit., 220. 


Schedule B. Joseph La Framboise, a Chicago half-breed who 
ranked as chief, was the recipient of numerous favors. By the 
Chicago Treaty of 1821 he had been granted a section of land. 
Now, aside from a life annuity of two hundred dollars, he 
received one grant of three thousand dollars and he and his 
children another of one thousand. Numerous other bequests 
were made to individuals bearing the name of La Framboise, 
whose precise relation to Chief Joseph it does not seem worth 
while to attempt to determine. 

Another pioneer Chicagoan whose Indian affiliations now 
proved valuable to him was Antoine Ouilmette. By the Treaty 
of Prairie du Chien of July, 1829, he had been given eight 
hundred dollars for losses sustained at the time of the Chicago 
massacre, and by the same treaty his wife and children were 
granted two sections of land a few miles north of Chicago. 907 
Now he again received the sum of eight hundred dollars. 
Whether this was in payment of the same damages already 
recompensed by the Treaty of Prairie du Chien is not recorded, 
but in view of the identity of the sums involved, and the way in 
which the claims of others against the Indians which had long 
since been settled were repaid at this treaty, the supposition that 
such was the case does not seem at all improbable. To one 
daughter, Mrs. Mann, was given one thousand dollars and to 
another, Mrs. Welch, two hundred dollars; a third daughter, 
Josette, also received two hundred dollars, although this was 
probably at the instigation of John H. Kinzie. Finally, still 
another allowance of two hundred dollars was made to Ouil- 
mette's "children." 

Since the identity of "Snipe" is unknown, it is not possible to 
say whether his effort to secure compensation for his hogs "which 
the wolves had eaten" was successful. That a large number of 
traders and other persons were influential enough to gain more 
than generous recognition at the hands of the commissioners, 
however, is quite apparent from a study of Schedules A and B. 
Thus Jean Baptiste Beaubien obtained recognition on more than 

' U.S. Statutes at Large, VII, 321, 604. 


one count. His sons, Madore and Charles, were granted three 
hundred dollars each under Schedule A. His wife, Josette, 
received five hundred dollars under the same schedule, and her 
children, of whom, presumably, he was the father, received one 
thousand dollars. In addition to these grants, both Madore and 
his father received sums of money in payment of claims against 
the Indians. 

But few of the traders who shared in the distribution of the 
public funds can receive individual mention. The disappoint- 
ment of James Kinzie over the denial of his request for a reserva- 
tion might be supposed to have been measurably assuaged by the 
five thousand dollars granted him in lieu thereof. Since Kinzie 
was of pure American descent, it is difficult to justify this grant 
on any ground of recognized propriety. The same may be said 
of the aspiration of Robert A. Forsyth for a reservation, which he 
was forced to forego for the more paltry donation of three thou- 
sand dollars. A claim which he preferred for the same amount 
under Schedule B was allowed, however, as well as another 
claim for thirteen hundred dollars, and in addition to all this he 
was made trustee of grants to various individuals amounting to 
many hundred dollars more. 

It can hardly be regarded as a mere coincidence that the 
names of many of those who signed the treaty as witnesses on 
behalf of the United States should be enrolled in the list of 
beneficiaries under it. Thus, of those already mentioned, Robert 
Forsyth, James Kinzie, and Jean Baptiste Beaubien were 
witnesses of the treaty. William Ewing was secretary of the 
commission, and to him and G. W. Ewing a claim of five thousand 
dollars was allowed. Luther Rice and James Connor acted as 
interpreters. Rice received two thousand five hundred dollars 
under Schedule A, while various sums were granted to individuals 
bearing the name of Rice, whose relation to the interpreter there 
is now no means of determining. Connor was allowed a claim of 
twenty- two hundred and fifty dollars; and in conjunction with 
another man of the same name received seven hundred dollars 
under Schedule A. Thomas Forsyth witnessed the treaty and 


was allowed payment of a claim of fifteen hundred dollars. " J. 
C. Schwarz Adj.M.M." likewise witnessed the treaty, and "John 
C. Schwarz," who was doubtless the same person, received forty- 
eight hundred dollars by it. In like manner "Laurie Marsh" 
signed the treaty and a claim of "Lowrian Marsh" for thirty- two 
hundred and ninety dollars was recognized by it. George Hunt, 
another witness, who had been engaged in the Indian trade at 
Chicago a short time before, was given nine hundred dollars in 
satisfaction of a claim and seven hundred and fifty dollars in lieu 
of a reservation which he had requested. B. B. Kercheval, still 
another signer of the treaty, secured fifteen hundred dollars. 
Gholson Kercheval, who was the sub-Indian agent at Chicago, 
was one of the few witnesses, aside from the commissioners and 
the officers of the garrison, who received nothing from it. A 
year later, however, October i, 1834, by an amendatory treaty 
signed at Chicago by a small number of chiefs he was granted two 
thousand dollars for services rendered the Indians in the Black 
Hawk War." 08 

It is, of course, conceivable that this payment was a proper 
one, even though the propriety of requiring the friendly Potta- 
watomies to pay for the services of the captain of the Chicago 
militia company in the Black Hawk War is not at this late day 
apparent. The largest single beneficiary by the treaty under 
Schedule B was the American Fur Company. Robert Stuart 
had come on from Mackinac to attend the negotiations and look 
out for the interests of his company in connection therewith. 909 
Of the success of his mission some indication is afforded by the 
fact that over one-tenth of the total sum of one hundred and 
seventy-five thousand dollars awarded to individuals in payment 
of claims against the Indians went to the American Fur Com- 
pany. 910 In addition to this, of the sum allotted to Jean Baptiste 

U. S. Statutes at large, VII, 447. 

Stuart was among those who signed the treaty. For his attendance upon it see 
Porter, op. cit., 72; also Porter (Mary), Eliza Chappell Porter, 100. 

" Robert Stuart, as agent of the company, received seventeen thousand dollars, and 
James Abbott, also on behalf of the company, twenty-three hundred dollars. 


Chandonnai under Schedule A, one thousand dollars were, by his 
"particular request," to be paid to Robert Stuart, agent of the 
American Fur Company. While engaged in the Indian trade at 
Chicago fourteen years before, Chandonnai had received goods 
from the American Fur Company on credit, for which he after- 
ward refused to pay. A part of the debt thus repudiated had 
been secured through Kinzie's influence. Apparently advan- 
tage was now taken of the opportunity presented by the cession 
of the Pottawatomie lands to secure payment of the remainder, 
ostensibly from the Indians but in reality from the government. 
The impropriety of requiring either party to pay the debts of 
Chandonnai is self-evident. Notwithstanding his "particular 
request," Chandonnai evidently could not be trusted himself to 
pay the debt, with the money of the government given into his 
possession, and so it was arranged it should pass directly from the 
agent of the United States to the American Fur Company. 

The dubious character of the claims presented and allowed at 
this treaty is still further exemplified by the r61e played in it by 
the heirs of John Kinzie, Both of his sons, John H. and Robert 
A. Kinzie, attended the negotiation and signed the treaty as 
witnesses. The latter was at the time proprietor of a trading es- 
tablishment at Chicago. John H. Kinzie, the elder brother, had 
a wide acquaintance throughout the Northwest, with the Indians 
and whites alike. He had been at different times in the employ 
of Robert Stuart of the American Fur Company, secretary 
to Governor Cass, and sub-Indian agent at Fort Winnebago. 9 " 
He had recently resigned the latter position, laid out the land 
pre-empted by the family into town lots, and thrown in his 
fortune with that of the nascent Chicago. The interests of the 
Kinzie heirs, therefore, were advocated by influential spokes- 
men. Even the welfare of numerous half-breed dependents of 
the family was provided for. To the old family servant of John 
Kinzie, Victoire Porthier, 912 and her children, the sum of seven 

A sketch of Kinzie's career written by his widow is printed in Andreas, op. cit., I, 

" For her connection with Kinzie see ibid., I, 105. 


hundred dollars was given under Schedule A. Her brothers, Jean 
Baptiste and Thomas Mirandeau, and her sisters, Jane and 
Rosetta, received among them the sum of twelve hundred 
dollars with the provision that John H. Kinzie should act as 
trustee of the fund. Thomas is the "Tomah" of Wau Bun, the 
lad who had been taken by Kinzie to Fort Winnebago the 
preceding winter to become a member of his household. 913 
That Jean Baptiste had also been a servant of the Kinzies 
at Chicago is stated by the author of Wau Bun. 914 Another 
member of John Kinzie's household for whom a grant of money 
was secured was Josette, the daughter of Antoine Ouilmette. 
Like ' 'Tomah" she was a mere child. 915 She had been a mem- 
ber of Kinzie's household since the spring of 1831. She was 
granted two hundred dollars and Kinzie was appointed trustee 
of the fund. 

Of the one hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars paid 
out under Schedule B, over one-eighth was given to the four sons 
and daughters of John Kinzie and to his stepdaughter, Mrs. 
Helm. To the latter the sum of two thousand dollars was 
granted, while twenty thousand dollars were divided in equal 
portions among the former. In addition to all this, a second 
claim of Robert A. Kinzie for twelve hundred and sixteen dollars 
was allowed. Although there is no record in the treaty of the 
grounds on which the various demands presented were based, 
the improper character of these claims seems obvious. Whatever 
the basis of the smaller claim of Robert Kinzie may have been, 
the twenty thousand dollars apportioned in equal amounts 
among the four brothers and sisters must have been claimed by 
virtue of some inheritance from the father. The facts that two 
of the claimants were women, who of course had never engaged 
in the Indian trade, and each of whom had been for some years 
the wife of a government official; that the claims of all were equal 
in amount; and that Robert Kinzie presented a second claim, 

" Andreas, op. tit., I, 105; Kinzie, Wau Bun, 376. 

Kinzie, Wau Bun, 376. 

She was ten years old in 1831 (ibid., 233). 


which was allowed, all point to this conclusion. A claim for 
damages at the hands of the Indians inherited from John Kinzie 
must necessarily have been based on the losses he sustained in 
connection with the Chicago massacre. The losses of Kinzie 
and Forsyth at that time had been severe, and Forsyth at least 
had made strenuous efforts to obtain compensation from Congress 
for them. 916 Whatever ground there may have been for com- 
pensation from this source, there was none whatever for claiming 
it from the Indians in connection with the cession of their lands. 
The losses sustained were due to acts of war, for which, at the 
close of the War of 1812 mutual forgiveness and oblivion had been 
pledged in the treaties between the United States and the various 
northwestern tribes. 917 John Kinzie lived until 1828, and was 
for several years interpreter and sub-Indian agent at Chicago. 
He assisted in negotiating various treaties, 918 yet notwithstand- 
ing ample opportunity he apparently made no effort to secure 
compensation from the Indians for his losses. In the space of a 
few months after his death, however, his family twice secured 
from the government, through the medium of an Indian treaty, 
the sum of thirty-five hundred dollars. By the treaty with the 
St. Joseph River Pottawatomies negotiated at Carey's Mission 
in September, 1828, Robert Forsyth was granted the sum of 
twelve hundred and fifty dollars and the widow and heirs of John 
Kinzie thirty-five hundred. The allowance to the latter, it was 
stated, was "in consideration of the attachment of the Indians to 
her deceased husband, who was long an Indian trader, and who 
lost a large sum in the trade by the credits given to them and also 

" See, e.g., his letters to the Secretary of War in Wisconsin Historical Collections, XI, 
3SI-S5; also his letters to Captain Heald, January 2 and April 10, 1813, supra, notes 613 
and 632. 

" See, e.g., the Treaty of Portage des Sioux, July 2, 1815, with the Illinois River 
Pottawatomies. Article I provides that "every injury or act of hostility by one or either 
of the contracting parties against the other shall be mutually forgiven and forgot." About 
a dozen treaties concluded at this time with the various tribes contain this same provision 
American State Papers, Indian Affairs, II, 2 ff. 

Treaty with the Wyandots and other tribes concluded at St. Mary's, September 17, 
1818; treaty with the Delawares at the same place, October 3, 1818; treaty with the Miamis 
October 6, 1818; treaty with the Pottawatomies at Chicago in 1821. 


by the destruction of his property." 919 It was further explained 
that this money was in lieu of a tract of land which the Indians 
gave to John Kinzie, and upon which he lived. 

It is unnecessary to speculate upon the question of the loca- 
tion of this land, for the Indians were powerless to alienate their 
land to individuals, a fact which was, of course, well known to the 
commissioners who negotiated the treaty. It is worth noting, 
however, that two of the signers of the treaty were Alexander 
Wolcott, son-in-law of Kinzie, and Robert Forsyth, the bene- 
ficiary of the smaller grant. Less than a year later, at the treaty 
concluded at Prairie du Chien with the Ottawas, Pottawatomies, 
and Chippewas, in July, 1829, the heirs of Kinzie again claimed 
and received the sum of thirty-five hundred dollars. The claim 
this time was "for depredations committed on him [Kinzie] by 
the Indians at the time of the massacre of Chicago and at St. 
Joseph's, during the winter of i8i2." 920 The treaty stipulated 
that the sums paid to claimants were "in full satisfaction" of the 
claims brought by them against the Indians. Alexander Wolcott 
assisted in negotiating this treaty also, and both he and his 
brother-in-law, John H. Kinzie, signed it. Thus in 1829 the 
heirs of Kinzie obtained "full satisfaction" from the Pottawato- 
mies and allied tribes for the losses sustained in 1812, despite 
the fact that by solemn treaty between the United States and the 
Indians mutual forgiveness and oblivion for the hostile acts of 
each had been decreed. But the payment in full in 1829 was as 
little successful in disposing of the matter as the treaty of 1815 
had been, for the self-same claimants utilized the opportunity 
presented by the Pottawatomie cession of 1833 to raise them- 
selves to comparative affluence by extracting, ostensibly from 
the Indians but in reality from the government, the sum of 
twenty thousand dollars more. 

Nor is the grant of two thousand dollars to Mrs. Helm by the 
Treaty of 1833 less dubious in character. Lieutenant Helm had 

' For the treaty see U.S. Statutes at Large, VII, 317-19. For the schedule of sums 
granted to individuals see ibid., 603-4. 

For the treaty see ibid., 320-22; for the schedule of claims see ibid., 604. 


come to Fort Dearborn in the summer of 1811 in straitened 
financial circumstances. 921 Since his pay was but twenty-five 
dollars a month, he can scarcely have increased his fortune 
materially in the ensuing period of a little over a year. In fact, 
during this time, his account with the government factory 
steadily increased, and when the store was closed by Irwin in 
July, 1812, was one of the largest on the factor's books. 922 In the 
nature of things he could not have lost any great amount of 
property at the time of the massacre. Whatever it was, however, 
Mrs. Helm had already been compensated for it. By the Treaty 
of Prairie du Chien of July, 1829, she received eight hundred 
dollars "for losses sustained at the time of the capture of Fort 
Dearborn, in 1812," with the stipulation, of course, that this 
payment was "in full satisfaction" of all claims. Like her 
half-brothers and sisters, however, she now again received com- 
pensation, and her claims, like theirs, had waxed greater with 
the passage of time and the increase of opportunity for collecting 
them. The ignoring of Lieutenant Helm's interest in the money 
collected for the destruction of his property was due to the fact 
that in the summer of 1829 Mrs. Helm obtained a divorce from 
him. 923 The decree provided that she should hold in her own 
right, as a part of the alimony allowed her, all of the money or 
other property granted to her as one of the heirs of John Kinzie 
in the late treaty of Prairie du Chien. Although the latter ante- 
dates the granting of the divorce decree by almost eleven weeks, 
it is evident that Mrs. Helm's spokesmen at the negotiation of 
the treaty had arranged its terms, as far as they related to her, 
with this provision of the decree in view. 

A few days after the treaty had been concluded the distribu- 
tion of goods to the Indians for which it made provision was 
begun. Of the one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars' 
worth of goods which the Indians were to receive, eighty thousand 
dollars' worth were distributed at this time, in addition to the 

' See supra, p. 177. 

" Indian Trade Department, Chicago Petty Ledger, MS volume in Pension Building. 

" McCulloch, Early Days of Peoria and Chicago, 108. 


payment of the annuity in cash. But little reflection is required 
to show that the Indians themselves profited little by the wealth 
bestowed upon them. The greater part of it quickly passed from 
their hands to the coffers of the traders, much of it in exchange 
for bad whisky; and the red man was probably more injured than 
benefited by the mess of pottage for which he had surrendered 
his birthright. 

Jeremiah Porter, the pioneer preacher, has left a vivid 
description of the proceedings which accompanied the payment 
to the Indians. 924 The money and goods were paid to heads of 
families according to the number in each household. The 
money was paid in silver half-dollars, and some heads of families 
received four hundred of these coins, which were thrown into the 
corner of their dirty blankets and "carried off in triumph." 
The scenes attending the payment were full of excitement. The 
distribution was continued on Sunday the same as during the 
week. "Thousands of human , beings some sitting, some 
standing, others lying on the grass in all imaginable positions, 
some riding, some fighting, and one bleeding to death, the main 
artery of his arm being cut off, while his murderer stood a 
prisoner, struggling in the arms of a female avenger of blood" 
such were the scenes enacted that Sabbath day. Meanwhile the 
minister preached to his little flock from the text, "And he 
kneeled down and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin 
to their charge, and fell asleep." 

In preparation for the payment the traders had ordered large 
quantities of whisky, anticipating a golden harvest. To their 
chagrin, however, a strong south wind prevailed for many days, 
so that no vessels could come up the lake while the Indians were 
here. Temperance men and Christians rejoiced, while the 
traders were correspondingly disappointed. In consequence of 
this "Divine protection" of the Indians, they carried away from 
Chicago a large amount of the silver which, but for the contrary 
wind, would have been wasted in revelry and debauchery. 925 

' Porter, Earliest Religious History of Chicago, 72-74. 

"5 Porter, who wrote many years after the event, states that the amount paid in silver 
was fifty thousand dollars, and estimates that the savages took away thirty thousand dollars 
among them. 


Two years passed when in the summer of 1835 the natives 
assembled at Chicago to receive the last payment of their annuity 
and to prepare for the long journey to their new home beyond the 
Mississippi. Chicago had long been a favorite resort with the 
Pottawatomies. Here they had come to hold their councils and 
to receive their annuities. Here almost a quarter of a century 
before they had gained their most signal triumph over the race 
that was crowding them ever westward. Since the last great 
gathering two years before, the sprawling village had developed 
into what, to the unsophisticated red man, must have seemed a 
veritable metropolis. The signs of civilization which it presented 
to their wondering gaze, although crude enough from the point of 
view of the twentieth century, must have brought home to them 
the realization that their birthright had passed into the possession 
of a mightier race; already they were strangers in the land of 
their nativity. 

As on happier occasions of meeting, however, the Indians 
danced and sang and drank and fought. Several thousand had 
assembled, 926 and much the same picturesque and motley scenes 
were presented as had attended the gathering of 1833. "Some 
were well dressed, well mounted, and dignified," wrote Porter. 
"These were, I suppose, civilized and Christianized Indians from 
St. Joseph. Others were ragged, dirty, half-naked, and drunk, 

singing their fiendish songs Thousands are around us. I 

can hardly raise my eyes to my window without seeing them in 
some form men racing on horseback or women riding by with 
their heavy panniers full of flour, or beef, or children. Many of 
the horses have bells on them that are ringing all day. Some of 
the men and some of the women also have bells on their limbs 
which ring with each step they take." 927 "A more motley group 
eye never beheld," wrote the reporter for Chicago's only news- 
paper, the Weekly Democrat. "Their clothing is of every color, 

"'Jeremiah Porter wrote in his journal at the time, "thousands are around us" 
(Chicago Times, December 19, 1875). The Chicago Weekly Democrat, August 19, 18.35, 
estimated the number present at from two thousand to four thousand. John Dean Caton, 
who was a resident of Chicago and deeply interested in the Indians, puts the number (Mis- 
cellanies, 139) at five thousand. 

'"Journal of Jeremiah Porter, in Chicago Times, December 19, 1875. 


bright red predominating, and bedizened with bracelets, ribbons, 
and feathers." The reporter dismisses the entire subject of the 
gathering in a single paragraph, however, in the course of which 
he nonchalantly imparts the information that "On Monday, we 
understand that one was tried by his tribe for the murder of a 
squaw, and sentenced to death. He was shot by the chief a 
short distance from town." 928 

Before quitting forever their ancient council ground the 
warriors indulged in a last great war dance. The matchless 
charm of Irving has immortalized the Moor's farewell to his 
beloved land. More dramatic in its picturesque savagery, and 
worthier far of the life he had led, was the Pottawatomie's fare- 
well to Chicago. Driven westward by the advancing tide of 
civilization, in the final moments of their expiring tenure of their 
homeland the warriors gave a demonstration of their devotion to 
their ancient ideals, by staging before their conquerors such an 
exhibition of savagery as appalled the stoutest hearts. 

As many warriors as could be mustered, about eight hundred 
in number, assembled in the council house on the north side of the 
river. 929 Then- only covering was a strip of cloth about the loins 
and a profusion of paint of brilliant colors with which the face 
and body were hideously decorated. Their hair, long, coarse, 
and black, was gathered into a scalp lock on top of the head and 
profusely decorated with hawk and eagle feathers, some strung 
together so as to extend down the back nearly to the ground. 
Led by a band of musicians, the procession moved westward from 
the council house along the bank of the river until the North 
Branch was reached. Crossing this on the old bridge, it turned 
to the south along the West Side to the bridge across the South 
Branch, not far from Lake Street. This was crossed in turn, and 
the procession moved eastward on Lake Street and came to an 
end in front of Fort Dearborn. 

Every effort was made to render the dance, which to the 
participants was "a funeral ceremony of old associations and 

Chicago Weekly Democrat, August 19, 1835. 

" For the ceremony I have drawn upon the graphic description of Caton (Miscella- 
nies, 141-45), who was an eye-witness of the proceedings. 

f < e 

fa 8 

I* O -C 

fc & 

O ^ 


memories," impressive and solemn. The procession moved 
slowly, the warriors advancing with a continual dance. In front 
of every house along their course a stop was made and extra feats 
were performed. The musicians produced a discordant din of 
hideous noises by beating on hollow vessels and striking sticks 
and clubs together. 

The Sauganash Hotel at that time stood on the corner of Lake 
and Market Streets, where a quarter of a century later Abraham 
Lincoln received that nomination for the presidency which 
involved the nation in civil war. From its second-story parlor 
windows a group of spectators, chiefly ladies, gazed out upon the 
strange exhibition. From this vantage point John D. Caton, a 
future chief justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois, looked down 
upon the dance. It was mid-August, the morning was very 
warm, and the exertions of the warriors caused the perspiration 
to pour forth almost in streams. " Their eyes were wild and 
blood-shot," writes Caton, "their countenances had assumed an 
expression of all the worst passions which can find a place in the 
breast of a savage; fierce anger, terrible hate, dire revenge, 
remorseless cruelty, all were expressed in their terrible features. 
Their muscles stood out in great hard knots, as if wrought to a 
tension which must burst them. Their tomahawks and clubs were 
thrown and brandished about in every direction with the most 
terrible ferocity, and with a force and energy which could only 
result from the highest excitement, and with every step and every 
gesture they uttered the most frightful yells, in every imaginable 
key and note, though generally the highest and shrillest possible. 
The dance, which was ever continued, consisted of leaps and 
spasmodic steps, now forward and now back or sideways, with 
the whole body distorted into every imaginable unnatural 
position, most generally stooping forward, with the head and face 
thrown up, the back arched down, first one foot thrown forward 
and then withdrawn, and the other similarly thrust out, frequently 
squatting quite to the ground, and all with a movement almost 
as quick as lightning. Their weapons were brandished as if they 
would slay a thousand enemies at every blow, while the yells 


and screams they uttered were broken up and multiplied and 
rendered all the more hideous by a rapid clapping of the mouth 
with the hand." 

The impression produced upon the spectators by such an 
exhibition can readily be imagined. Many of those who had 
gathered at the Sauganash were recent arrivals from the East 
and knew nothing of the Indians but what they had been told of 
their butcheries and tortures. Others, like Caton himself, had 
been for some time familiar with the red men. But the spectacle 
tried the nerves of even the stoutest, and all felt that one such 
sight was sufficient for a lifetime. From the Sauganash parlors, 
whose windows faced the west, the parade was visible some time 
before it reached the North Branch bridge, and from this place 
all the way to the bridge across the South Branch and down Lake 
Street to the hotel itself. As they came upon the bridge, the 
wild band of musicians in front redoubled their blows to increase 
the noise. When the head of the column had reached the front 
of the hotel, "leaping, dancing, gesticulating, and screaming, 
while they looked up with hell itself depicted on their faces, at the 
chemokoman squaws in the windows, and brandished their 
weapons as if they were about to make a real attack in deadly 
earnest, the rear was still on the other side of the river, two 
hundred yards off; and all the intervening space including the 
bridge and its approaches, was covered with this raging savagery 
glistening in the sun, reeking with streamy sweat, fairly frothing 
at their mouths as with unaffected rage, it seemed as if we had a 
picture of hell itself before us, and a carnival of the damned 
spirits there confined, whose pastimes we may suppose should 
present some such scene as this." 

Thus did the red man play his savage r61e to the end. It was 
a brave show which he enacted that summer morning, but it was 
nothing more. For him the scepter of power had departed, and 
this was his final farewell. A few weeks later he took up his 
weary journey toward the sunset, and Chicago knew him no 
more. The red man had vanished, and Chicago and Chicago's 
future were committed to the care of another and mightier race. 






DETROIT, July, i4th, 1803. 

Left this place this morning at half past five o'clock, for Chicago 
and proceeded about 26 miles and encamped at five o'clock p.m., on 
a small branch of bad water. The land is generally good timbered, 
with large oak, ash, and hickory. A great deal of underbrush. 
Crossed no waters except the river Roush. 

FRIDAY, July, i5th. 

Proceeded on our march at half past four a.m., 20 miles, and 
encamped at i o'clock P.M., on the river Huron, which is very low. 
The land is generally level and wet. Several swamps, badly tim- 
bered, and the road very bad on account of being so wet. Fine 

SATURDAY, July, i6th. 

Proceeded on our march at 6 o'clock a.m., 18 miles, and encamped 
at a small Indian village near three small lakes and branch, at 2 
o'clock, p.m. The land is generally level and poor, timbered with 
oak, several prairies, not of a good quality. The weather is warm. 
Clear days. 

SUNDAY, July, iyth. 

Proceeded on our march at 7 o'clock a.m., 20 miles, and encamped 
at 5 o'clock P.M., on a handsome branch of cool, good water, near a 
spring of clear, fine water. The land is generally poor and hilly. 
Passed a lake of about 2 miles in length and one half in breadth, and 

> The Journal was kept by Swearingen while en route to Chicago in temporary com- 
mand of the company of United States soldiers going to establish the first Fort Dearborn 
in the summer of 1803. The original manuscript is at present the property of a grandson 
of Swearingen, Mr. James S. Thatcher, of Dallas, Tex. Since access to it was impossible 
the text presented here is taken from a typewritten copy of the original made for the Chicago 
Historical Society in 1903 by another descendant of Swearingen, Miss Marian Scott Frank- 
lin, of Chillicothe, Ohio. 



a spring and a handsome branch of fine water. At this branch, there 
is every appearance of a large bed of iron ore. Fine weather. 

MONDAY, July, i8th. 

Proceeded on our march at 15 minutes past 2 o'clock p.m., 18 
miles and encamped on Grand river, at 7 o'clock, p.m., near a village. 
Crossed two small branches, passed several ponds of water. Grand 
river is about 30 feet wide and tolerably rapid. At this time it is 
shallow. The land is poor, hilly, and barren, except the river bot- 
tom, which is about a half mile wide and well timbered, with ash, 
oak, and beech. Weather fine and cool. 

TUESDAY, July, igth. 

Proceeded on our march at 6 o'clock, a.m., 25 miles, and encamped 
on the river Kehanimasoo, at 15 minutes after 6 o'clock. The river 
is about 60 feet wide, tolerable rapid, and not deep. The banks are 
low, no bottoms. The land is hilly, poor and barren. About four 
and a half miles from the river, there is a handsome spring and large 
branch. This day we crossed several handsome branches of tolerable 
good water, several large swamps, praries, &c. &c. The weather is 
warm and fine. 

WEDNESDAY, July, aoth. 

Proceeded on our march at half past 6 o'clock, a.m., 27 miles and 
encamped on the river Kehanimasoo, at 6 o'clock p.m. This day we 
crossed Little Kehanimasoo, at 6 miles from our encampment, and 
several other small branches. The land is tolerably good in places, 
remainder open, oak land, soil thin. Fine weather. 

THURSDAY, July, 2ist. 

Proceeded on our march at half past 6 a.m., 15 miles, and encamped 
on the river Kehanimasoo, at 3 o'clock, p.m. The land is broken and 
barren, timber generally small oak, except the last four miles, which 
is fine rich land well timbered. Crossed several small branches and 
passed near some handsome lakes and praries, some of which, are low 
and swampy. Fine, cool weather. 9 o'clock, p.m. smart shower. 

FRIDAY, July, 22nd. 

Proceeded on our march at 15 minutes past 7 o'clock a.m. The 
land in places, tolerably good. Most of this day's march, is through 
level barrens, large praries 9 miles through, soil not good. Crossed 2 
branches in the morning. Fine weather. 


SATURDAY, July, 23rd. 

Proceeded on our march at 9 o'clock a.m., 12 miles and encamped 
near an Indian village at 2 o'clock, p.m., near the edge of a small lake 
of very bad water. The la nd in general, tolerably good, well timbered, 
with ash, oak, beech, sugar trees, etc. Several large grass swamps, 
roads very bad on account of fallen timber. 9 o'clock p.m., heavy 
storm of rain and wind. 

SUNDAY, July, 24th. 

Proceeded on our march at 7 o'clock a.m., 19 miles and encamped 
in a prarie near a creek at 6 o'clock p.m. The land is part very good, 
timber, ash, beech, and sugar trees. Greater part very poor and 
barren, several large creeks, praries, swamps. A handsome spring in 
the edge of a wet prarie, 12 miles from encampment. 

MONDAY, July, 2$th. 

Proceeded on our march at 15 minutes past 8 o'clock a.m., 12 
miles to the river St. Josephus and encamped on the bank near 
Kinzey's Improvement, at i o'clock p.m. The first mile is through a 
very handsome prarie, through a small piece of tolerable woodland. 
One mile to the river Limmonet, Crossed a handsome branch at the 
mouth and proceeded down this river about two miles, crossed it, 3 
miles through tolerably good oak land, timber tall and handsome, to 
an Indian village, on the river near the mouth, crossed it at this 
village, and proceeded up the river St. Josephus, 5 miles, crossed 
several handsome branches. Several showers of rain. The land 
from the village is barren and poor. 

TUESDAY, July, 26th. 

Detained her[e] on account of sending for [boats ?] to the Kenka- 
kee river, which is 6 miles from this place. Portage 4 miles, from 
St. Josephus river to the Kenkakee river. Kenkakee is a branch of 
the Illinois and is navigable, a short distance above this, for small 
crafts. In the spring there is no portage, the two waters connect. 

WEDNESDAY, July, 27th. 

Proceeded down the river, 15 minutes past 12 o'clock with 17 men 
and baggage, 36 miles, and encamped on the river bank, at half past 
6 o'clock, p.m. The remainder of the men, marched by land. This 
river is generally very rapid and shoal bank very good. 


THURSDAY, July, 28th. 

Proceeded down the river at half past 6 a.m., 40 miles and 
encamped at the mouth, at 2 o'clock p.m. The bank at this place is 
about 60 feet high, level oak land back. From Kinzey's, to this 
place, by land, is 36 miles. Detained at this place until the i2th of 
August. The weather was generally very good. Distance from 
Detroit to this place is 272 miles. 

FRIDAY, August, i2th, 1803. 

Proceeded on our march up the lake at 6 o'clock a.m., 14 miles 
and encamped at i o'clock, p.m., on account of the roughness of the 
lake. Several very heavy showers of rain. 

SATURDAY, August, i3th. 

Detained on account of the roughness of the lake. High winds. 

SUNDAY, August, i4th. 

Still detained on account of the roughness of the lake and high 

MONDAY, August, i$th. 

Proceeded on our march at 5 o'clock, a.m., 39 miles and encamped 
at half past 5 p.m. near an old fort. Heavy storm of wind and rain, 
in the night. 12 miles from encampment is a handsome Indian 
village, 3 miles to a river about 20 yards wide, shallow, 12 miles to a 
small river, then 12 miles to plain [place?] of encampment. 

TUESDAY, August, isth. 

Proceeded on our march at 15 minutes past 5 o'clock a.m. 33 miles, 
and encamped on the Little Calamac river, at 16 minutes past 5 
o'clock, p.m. Crossed the Grand Calamac river, at 8 o'clock a.m., 
12 miles from encampment. 

WEDNESDAY, August, i7th. 

Proceeded on our march at 6 o'clock a.m., 34 miles and encamped 
on the Chicago river, at 2 o'clock p.m. This river is about 30 yards 
wide where the garrison is intended, to be built, and from 18 feet and 
upwards, deep, dead water, owing to its being stopped up at the 
mouth, by the washing of sand, from the lakes. The water is not 
fit to use. The bank where the fort is to be built is about 8 feet high 
and a half mile above the mouth. The opposite bank is not so high, 
not being a difference, of more than two feet, by appearances. The 


banks above are quite low. The distance from Detroit, to the mouth 
of the St. Josephus, is 272 miles. From the mouth of the St. Josephus 
to Chicago, 90 miles, making in the whole 362 miles. 


A portage from the Chicago river, so as to get into the Illinois 
river, which is 400 miles from the lakes, or the mouth of Chicago. 
This portage is 6 miles above the mouth and a short distance, across 
into a small creek, which discharges itself into the river, 16 miles from 
this place, at a village, from thence, into a small lakes and creeks, 
until intersected, by the Illinois river, from thence into the Missis- 
sippi. In the spring or time of high water, small crafts, may pass 
without any land carriage. 



The history of lost manuscripts, even in so new a country as the 
United States, contains not only much of interest to the curious, but 
much of profit to the serious, who are genuinely interested in the work 
of preserving the records of the past. Various have the fortunes of 
these precious documents been. Some have been used by frugal 
housewives to cover jelly glasses or pack eggs, others have gone to 
feed the paper mill or the furnace; while all the time our libraries 
and historical societies are longing for the opportunity to secure such 
materials for preservation for the use of future generations. At times, 
however, the very measure of placing manuscripts within the protect- 
ing walls of an institution has been responsible for their oblivion. 
Either the document has been mislaid and its resting-place forgotten, 
or actual destruction has come upon it. 

The history of manuscripts pertaining to the Fort Dearborn 
tragedy furnishes numerous illustrations of these various contin- 
gencies. One of the most important of them, a document of several 
hundred pages, disappeared, apparently for all time, from the home 
of the Heald family a half-century ago. Another, Lieutenant Helm's 
massacre narrative, after being lost to sight for three-quarters of a 
century, was discovered a few years since in the Detroit Public 
Library. A third, the fatal order of Hull to Captain Heald for the 
evacuation of the fort, long supposed to have been destroyed, has 
been for over forty years, unknown to historical workers, a part of 
the Draper Collection, now the property of the Wisconsin State His- 
torical Society. Still other documents gathered with loving care 
within the walls of the local Historical Society by citizens of Chicago, 
by reason of this fact were doomed to perish in one or other of the 
fires which have twice consumed the Society's archives. Such was 
the fate of the papers of Lieutenant Swearingen, destroyed in the 
great fire of 1871, a few years after he had presented them to the 
Society. Such was the fate, also, of John Kinzie's account books 



with their unique picture of early Chicago in the years from 1804 
to 1824. 

Fortunately in both these instances a remnant of the original 
has been preserved to us through the very fact of its retention in 
private hands. Swearingen retained part of his private papers, and 
some of these, including the original journal of the march of the 
troops from Detroit to Chicago in 1803 to establish the first Fort 
Dearborn, are still in the possession of his descendants. 931 Of Kinzie's 
account books a transcript of the names together with some additional 
data is all that remains. 932 Its preservation is due to the fortunate 
circumstance that ten years before the Chicago Fire the list was 
copied for the use of a historical worker, who carried it with him when 
he left Chicago to enter the Union army. More than forty years 
later, on the occasion of the centennial of the founding of Fort Dear- 
born, the original books having been destroyed, it was returned to 
the Historical Society. 

A source of equal regret to the investigator is the fact that many 
of the documents pertaining to the massacre which actually remain 
to us are a disappointment in one respect or another. Captain Heald, 
who of all men was best qualified to speak with authority, left a report 
of only a page to cover the entire period from the preliminary mas- 
sacre at Chicago in April until his arrival in Pittsburgh late in October. 
Lieutenant Helm, who should have been the best qualified witness 
after Heald, labored long and arduously upon a narrative which goes 
into minute detail with respect to the massacre itself; on examination, 
however, it becomes evident that much of the author's labor was 
directed to the end of misstating rather than revealing the facts. 
McAfee, one of the best historians of the War of 1812, deriving his 
information from Sergeant Griffith, a participant in the massacre, saw 
fit to devote but three pages to his account of the fall of Fort Dearborn. 
Finally, in Mrs. Kinzie, the author of Wau Bun, the youthful Chicago 
gained a writer of more than usual charm, who from her position in 
the Kinzie family and her proximity to the massacre in point of time 
enjoyed an opportunity now gone forever to gain from eye-witnesses 
of the events attending the massacre information for an authoritative 
narrative; yet her account is perhaps the most disappointing, from 
the historical point of view, of any with which we have to deal. 

"' For the Journal see supra, Appendix I. 

"' The allusion is to the Barry Transcript, which has been cited in various footnotes. 


It is our immediate task, however, to estimate the sources of 
information that remain to us for what they are worth. First in 
order must be placed the report of Captain Heald to the government. 
His official rank, the concise yet inclusive manner of expression, the 
early date, October 23, 1812, all unite to give it priority of considera- 
tion. Hull's terse compliment, " Captain Heald is a judicious officer, 
and I shall confide much to his discretion," Heald's record in the 
service, the peculiar circumstances under which he took command at 
Fort Dearborn, and the few papers of his in existence, show him to 
have been an officer of merit and of judgment. In striking contrast 
with the narratives of some of his detractors, Heald's report is marked 
by an air of candor and plain common sense. He gives not the slight- 
est intimation of any feeling of prejudice or hostility toward anyone 
in the garrison or settlement. Kinzie, the trader, who looms so large 
in the Wau Bun narrative, is not even mentioned. No statements 
calculated to challenge the reader's credulity are made. From any 
point of view the report must be ranked as historical material of a 
high order of excellence, our only ground for disappointment pro- 
ceeding from its brevity. 

Heald's official report is supplemented to some extent by his 
journal, which sketches the main events of his life until after his 
retirement from the army, and by a number of letters and papers in 
the Draper Collection and in the possession of his descendants. The 
second important source is the narrative of Lieutenant Helm, written 
in the summer of 1814. It is approximately three times as long as 
Heald's report, and describes the actual battle with much detail. 
Written by the officer second in command of the troops, it would 
be of inestimable value to the student in supplementing Heald's 
report, were it not for the fact that in this instance the author's 
candor is as conspicuous by its absence as it is by its presence in 
the former one. 

Further consideration of Helm's narrative is reserved for the 
present. After these accounts of the two ranking officers, who were 
also the only ones to survive the battle, must be placed the narratives 
of their wives as recorded by their descendants. These are the rela- 
tion of Rebekah Heald as told to her son, Darius Heald, and his 
family, and the Helm-Kinzie account embodied in Mrs. Juliette 
Kinzie's Wau Bun. 


Rebekah Heald was the only one, apparently, of those concerned 
in the massacre who took the trouble to write a comprehensive account 
of her life in Chicago. Before her death in 1856 she dictated to a 
niece a large number of facts connected with her early life. The 
manuscript was foolscap and contained, according to her son's recol- 
lection of it, several hundred pages. 933 During the Civil War the 
Heald residence in St. Charles County, Missouri, was ransacked from 
cellar to garret by a band of Union soldiers. Among other things 
which were taken by the marauders was Captain Heald's sword, and 
Mrs. Heald's manuscript. The sword was recovered by a negro boy, 
but the manuscript has never since been seen, and was probably 
destroyed at the time. 934 . 

Fortunately we have an indication of the character of its contents 
in the recital by Darius Heald of his mother's story as he remembered 
it from hearing her tell it "a hundred times." His narrative has 
been recorded in two forms, with an interval of many years between 
them. In 1868 he was interviewed by Lyman Draper, the famous 
collector in the field of western history, who at the time was on one 
of his tours in search of historical information. Draper's record of 
the interview was, however, buried away among his papers, and has 
until the present time been unknown to workers in the field of Chicago 
history. 935 In ignorance, therefore, of the Draper interview, Darius 
Heald was again interviewed, almost a quarter of a century later, by 
Joseph Kirkland, and the story which he obtained was considered by 
him sufficiently important to lead him to write his book, The Chicago 
Massacre. 6 A comparison of the two versions affords in some degree 
a test of the reliability of the Darius Heald narrative. It reveals, as 
might be expected, discrepancies in matters of detail, but the final 
impression left by the comparison is that neither Darius Heald nor 
his mother was animated by any conscious purpose to deceive. Pro- 
duced under such circumstances as have already been described, the 
limitations of the narrative are obvious, and proper caution must be 

" For the history of this manuscript, together with Darius Heald's recital to Kirkland 
of his mother's story of the massacre, see Magazine of American History, XXVIII, 111-22. 

" Curiously enough, if Darius Heald's impression is correct, it was a Chicago regiment 
which perpetrated the act of destruction (ibid., 122). 

* The narrative is printed for the first time as Appendix V. 

6 The entire narrative is printed in the Magazine of American History, XXVIII, 
in-22. For the use which Kirkland made of it see his book, The Chicago Massacre. 


preserved and due allowance for error made in the use of it. Subject 
to these limitations it may be regarded as a valuable contribution to 
our knowledge of the massacre. 

We may now direct our attention to the Kinzie family narrative 
of the tragedy as told by Mrs. Juliette A. Kinzie, the daughter-in-law 
of John Kinzie, the trader. Like the narrative of Rebekah Heald, as 
told by her son Darius, it comes down to us in two forms. Put forth 
at first anonymously in pamphlet form in 1844,'" it appeared twelve 
years later as a part of the author's book Wau Bun, or The Early Day 
in the Northwest. It was published at a time when the consciousness 
of Chicago's future destiny was already dawning on its citizens. To 
a developing popular interest in the city's past was joined a general 
lack of information concerning her greatest tragedy. Mrs. Kinzie's 
narrative, claiming to be based on the testimony of eye-witnesses, 
spoke with assurance and precision on a subject about which all others 
were ignorant. Its statements have commonly been accepted with- 
out question or criticism, and have constituted the foundation, and 
usually the superstructure as well, of almost all that has been written 
upon the Fort Dearborn massacre. Sober historians and fanciful 
novelists alike have made it the quarry from which to draw the 
material for their narratives. Says Moses in his Illinois, published 
in 1889: "Without exception, historians have relied for their facts 
in regard to the massacre upon the account given of the event 
by Mrs. Juliette A. Kinzie . . . ."; and although he points out 
the possibility of an undue criticism of Captain Heald, he concludes 
that its statements "bear upon their face the appearance of truth 
and fairness." 938 While it is true that some dissent from the 
general chorus of confidence in Mrs. Kinzie's narrative has been 
voiced, 939 the statement made by Thwaites in 1901 that it "has 
been accepted by the historians of Illinois as substantially accurate, 

9" Narrative of the Massacre at Chicago, August 15, 1812, and of Some Preceding 
Events (Chicago, 1844). 

Moses, Illinois, Historical and Statistical, I, 251-52. 

939 Notably by Hurlbut, Chicago Antiquities, and Kirkland, Chicago Massacre. Carl 
Dilg and William R. Head, two recent workers in the local antiquarian and historical field, 
both repudiated it. Both men were unscientific in their methods and animated by violent 
prejudices, however. Dilg's papers are now owned by the Chicago Historical Society, 
while most of Head's were destroyed a few months after his death in 1910. A few frag- 
ments are in the Chicago Historical Society library, while a considerably larger number are 
still in the possession of the widow, Mrs. William R. Head, of Chicago. 


and other existing accounts are generally based upon this," 9 * still 
stands as entirely correct. 

A critical examination of Mrs. Kinzie's narrative is, then, essential 
to any study of the Fort Dearborn massacre. The author was born 
at Middletown, Conn., in September, 1806, and seems to have enjoyed 
educational advantages unusual for girls in her generation. Her 
uncle, Doctor Alexander Wolcott, was for almost a dozen years prior 
to his death in 1830 government Indian agent at Chicago. Through 
the circumstance of his having married the daughter of John Kinzie, 
the niece became acquainted with her brother, John Harris Kinzie, 
and in August, 1830, the young couple were married. 941 Shortly after- 
ward the bride was brought by her husband to Wisconsin, where he 
held the position of sub-Indian agent at Fort Winnebago. Here they 
resided until 1834, when Chicago became their permanent home. 
Mrs. Kinzie, therefore, possessed no contemporary or personal knowl- 
edge of the Fort Dearborn massacre, her information being derived 
from members of her husband's family subsequent to her marriage. 
Of these the ones best qualified to give her first-hand information were 
her mother-in-law and her husband's half-sister, Mrs. Helm. Since 
the older woman did not witness the actual conflict, for this part of 
her narrative Mrs. Kinzie purports to quote directly the words of 
Mrs. Helm, though it is evident that not all that passes for direct 
quotation from the latter was actually derived from her. 

In the preface to the pamphlet narrative of 1844 Mrs. Kinzie 
explained that the record had been taken many years since from the 
lips of eye-witnesses of the events described, and written down simply 
for the purpose of preserving to her children "a faithful picture of the 
perilous scenes through which those near and dear to them had been 
called to pass." Her record of the massacre is thus on a footing of 
equality with that of Darius Heald, in that each is based on informa- 
tion derived from participants in the events attending the massacre. 
From the point of view of the historian, however, it possesses at least 
one marked advantage over the latter. The Heald narrative was 
reduced to writing for the first time in 1868, over half a century after 
the occurrence of the events described. The pamphlet edition of the 

Kinzie, Wau Bun, Caxton Club edition, p. xix. 

A sketch of the early life of Mrs. Kinzie by her daughter is appended to the Rand- 
McNally 1903 edition of Wau Bun. 


Kinzie narrative was published in 1844, almost a quarter of a century 
earlier. Aside from this priority in point of time, its author possessed, 
at the time she received her information, the conscious purpose of 
preserving it in written form, if not, indeed, of publishing it. Unfor- 
tunately, however, these obvious advantages possessed by Mrs. 
Kinzie are offset by qualities in her narrative which destroy, in large 
part, the historical value it might otherwise have possessed. The 
evident inability of the author to state the facts correctly is manifest 
throughout the work. It abounds in details that could not possibly 
have been remembered by Mrs. Kinzie's supposed informants; in 
others that could not have been known to them; and in still others 
that could never have occurred. Undaunted by the absence of 
records, Mrs. Kinzie repeats speeches and dialogues verbatim, as she, 
apparently, conceived they should have been recited. Thus the 
warning speech of Black Partridge, the order of Hull for the evacua- 
tion, and the speech of the Miami chieftain at the beginning of the 
fight are given with all the precision of stenographic reports. The 
Black Partridge incident is undoubtedly founded on fact, but Mrs. 
Kinzie's version of his speech is just as certainly the product of her 
own literary imagination. 942 That Hull sent an order for the evacua- 
tion was, of course, a matter of common knowledge; that Mrs. Kinzie 
possessed a copy of it or could pretend to report it literally is so 
improbable that even though the original order had never been recov- 
ered, we might reasonably regard her version of it as unreliable. 
Concerning the speech of the Miami chief, if delivered at all, it could 
not have been in the form which Mrs. Kinzie has recorded; nor could 

Mrs. Kinzie's version of this speech, which has frequently been quoted, affords a 
typical illustration of her practice of embellishing the narrative with details wholly imagi- 
nary. The two source accounts of the incident both agree that Black Partridge sought out 
the interpreter in order to deliver his warning. According to Helm the two waited upon 
Heald, to whom "the Indian gave up his medal & told Heald to beware of the next day 
that the Indians would destroy him & his men." Thus Helm, writing within two years of 
the event, did not attempt to do more than give the substance of Black Partridge's speech. 
Nor could he possibly have done otherwise, if there is any truth in his further statement 
that the warning was concealed from the other officers by Heald and that Wells alone knew 
of it. Despite this handicap and the equally serious one that the warning was uttered by 
Black Partridge in his native tongue, Mrs. Kinzie was able, over thirty years later, to report 
it as follows: " Father, I come to deliver up to you the medal I wear. It was given me by 
the Americans, and I have long worn it in token of our mutual friendship. But our young 
men are resolved to imbrue their hands in the blood of the whites. I cannot restrain them 
and I will not wear a token of peace while I am compelled to act as an enemy." 


Mrs. Helm, from whom it purports to be reported, possibly have 
heard it uttered. 

But a graver fault than the foregoing vitiates the narrative. The 
account of the events attending the massacre is highly partisan, mani- 
festing throughout a bitter antipathy to Captain Heald and a corre- 
sponding idealization of Kinzie. Probably the author is herself 
responsible for the latter feature; the responsibility for the former 
must be shared with her informants. Their representations concern- 
ing the massacre, and the role played by Captain Heald therein, 
would obviously be similar to those of Lieutenant Helm. The extent 
of his antipathy for, and misrepresentations of, his commander will 
be set forth presently. It is probable that the younger Mrs. Kinzie 
never saw his narrative of the massacre, although her own account 
repeats many of the statements contained in it. The fact of their 
occurrence in the earlier narrative, however, does not of itself estab- 
lish their reliability. It merely shifts the responsibility for them to 
Helm and compels an inquiry as to the character of his narrative; 
and the result of such an inquiry is to dispel all confidence in its 
reliability and in the candor of its author. 

Finally the historical value of Mrs. Kinzie's book is lessened by 
the author's fondness for romance and for dramatic effect, which too 
often overshadow her zeal for the simple truth. It was this charac- 
teristic of the book, apparently, which led Kirkland to conclude that 
the author intended it to be regarded as a romance rather than as 
sober history. Whatever the truth may be as to her intention, there 
can be no gainsaying Kirkland's verdict that the book reads like a 
romance. In capacity for adventure its characters rival the tradi- 
tional mediaeval knight; while over it all the author has thrown a 
glamor of romance which was strikingly absent from the crass mate- 
rialism of life on the northwestern frontier a century ago. 

It had been arranged by Kinzie that Mrs. Kinzie and her children 
should be taken across the lake to St. Joseph in a boat in charge of 
the servants and some friendly Indians. Kinzie himself went with 
the troops. The boat was detained at the mouth of the river, how- 
ever, and here Mrs. Kinzie spent the time during the battle and 
massacre. Mrs. Helm had ridden out with her husband, and thus 
was actually present in the battle. She soon became separated from 
her husband and apparently was with the rear division around the 


wagons during the fighting there. According to her own story as 
told in Wau Bun, at the height of the fighting she drew aside and 
with philosophic calmness began to compose herself to meet her end. 
While thus engaged the surgeon, Van Voorhis, came up, wounded 
and panic-stricken, " every muscle of his face quivering with the 
agony of terror." Oblivious of the helplessness and inexperience of 
the young woman, he frantically sought some assurance of safety 
from her. While the battle raged around she strove to discourage 
his hope and to arouse him to meet his fate with manly firmness. 
She even pointed out the soldierly behavior of Ronan, who, though 
mortally wounded and nearly down, was fighting with desperation on 
one knee. This appeal to the example set by Ronan was, however, 
in vain, eliciting from the surgeon only the astonishing rejoinder 
"with a convulsive shudder," that he had "no terrors of the future 
he is an unbeliever." 

The remarkable dialogue was interrupted at this point by a young 
Indian who attempted to tomahawk Mrs. Helm. She dodged the 
blow, and closing with the warrior struggled to secure his knife. 
From this predicament she was suddenly snatched by Black Par- 
tridge, who bore her to the lake and plunged her into the water. 
Instead of drowning her as she expected, he held her in a position 
which permitted her to breathe, and she soon discovered that he had 
taken this way of saving her from the tomahawk. When the firing 
died down he bore her to the shore and up the sand bank, whence she 
was conducted back to the Pottawatomie camp west of the fort on 
the south side of the river. 

Such is Mrs. Helm's narrative of her experience in the massacre 
itself, as reported by Mrs. Kinzie. It is evident that only a portion 
of the tragedy came under her own personal observation, although in 
Wau Bun all the remainder of the narrative, many pages in length, 
is represented as being quoted directly from her. If any portion of 
the Wau Bun account of the massacre is worthy of credence it should 
be this which recites Mrs. Helm's personal experience. Unfortunately 
the credibility of even this portion is dubious. That the actor should 
emphasize her own part in the affair is, of course, only natural. That 
the dialogue with Van Voorhis occurred as represented is, under all 
the circumstances, simply incredible. Unfortunately we have no 
other record of how Van Voorhis met his fate, and so for nearly three- 


quarters of a century his memory has been blackened by this cruel 
tale, thoughtlessly taken up and repeated in the numerous accounts 
of the massacre based on that contained in Wau Bun. The little we 
know of Van Voorhis tends to the belief that he was a young man of 
more than usual spirit and breadth of vision. His friend and college 
classmate, Surgeon Cooper, testified to his personal worth and bravery, 
and to the end of his life protested that the Wau Bun version of his 
death was a cruel slander. 943 More significant is the testimony of the 
fragment of a single letter of Van Voorhis, of which a copy has been 
preserved. Writing from his lonely station in October, 1811, he thus 
foretold the future destiny of this region: "In my solitary walks I 
contemplate what a great and powerful republic will yet arise hi this 
new world. Here, I say, will be the seat of millions yet unborn; here 
the asylum of oppressed millions yet to come. How composedly 
would I die could I be resuscitated at that bright era of American 
greatness an era which I hope will announce the tidings of death 
to fell superstition and dread tyranny." 944 The man who at the age 
of twenty-two could pen these lines is the only one of the whites 
present on the day of massacre who is represented as having behaved 
like a poltroon and a coward. 

The story of the rescue of Mrs. Helm by Black Partridge has come 
to be regarded as a classic in the early history of Chicago. It has 
been made the dominant theme of the massacre monument, and has 
been accepted without question by practically all who have written 
upon the massacre. Yet it may well be doubted whether the event 
as described by Mrs. Kinzie in Wau Bun ever actually occurred. That 
Black Partridge saved Mrs. Helm is probably true, but that the affair 
possessed the romantic aspect which it has come to assume in the 
popular mind, or that Mrs. Helm distinguished herself by her heroism 
seems unlikely. * 

The evidence in support of this conclusion is largely negative. 
Lieutenant Helm's labored narrative, written in 1814, contains no 
mention of the Black Partridge rescue, or of any heroism displayed 
by his wife. Concerning her deportment in the massacre he simply 
records that, having believed her slain, he was astonished on coming 
to the Indian camp to see her "sitting among the squaws crying." 

Wilson, Chicago from 1803 to 1812. 

Van Voorhis, Ancestry of Wm. Roe Van Voorhis, 144. 


In 1820 the careful and scholarly Schoolcraft passed through Chicago. 
He gives us an account of the massacre which he derived chiefly from 
John Kinzie, whose guest he was for several days. 945 He describes, 
among other things, the duel to the death between Sergeant Hayes 
and an Indian. The story is curious and interesting enough to justify 
him in recording and commenting upon it. But it is not more curious 
and thrilling than that of the Black Partridge rescue of Mrs. Helm, 
Kinzie's stepdaughter. Why did Kinzie relate the one and omit to 
relate the other to Schoolcraft? Or if Schoolcraft, who is always 
careful to make note of anything curious or unusual, was told of the 
rescue story, why did he fail to record it ? Was there in fact no such 
rescue, or is the omission due to its commonplaceness ? 

We may now consider the narrative of Lieutenant Helm, sent to 
Augustus B. Woodward, of Detroit, in November, i8i5.' 6 Unfor- 
tunately it adds but little to our knowledge of the massacre why 
will be apparent upon analysis. It is a partisan document for which 
the writer expects court martial. Its purpose is evidently to dis- 
credit Captain Heald. Helm's letter to Woodward shows that he 
had spent some time in preparing it. Yet the manuscript contains 
many erasures and alterations. It is strangely inaccurate with 
respect to dates, and as strangely precise in certain details not likely 
to be noticed or remembered on a battle field. It makes Hull's order 
arrive one day too early, the eighth of August. It also makes 
Winnemac advise Heald, through Kinzie's agency, to evacuate at 
once, the next day if possible, and urge him to change the usual route 
to Fort Wayne. Wells is represented as arriving on the twelfth with 
the report that the Indians about Fort Wayne are hostile and will 
probably interrupt the troops on the march. 

On the day of his arrival Wells held a council with the Indians to 
the amount of " 500 warriors 179 women and children," as a result of 
which he gave the opinion that they also were hostile and would 
attack the garrison on the march. On this date, August 12, Helm 
asserts that the fort had two hundred stand of arms, six thousand 
pounds of powder, four pieces of artillery, an adequate supply of 
shot and lead, and three months' supply of Indian corn, besides two 

** Schoolcraft, Narrative Journal of Travels from Detroit ... to the Sources of the 
Mississippi River in the Year 1820, 300-03. 

* For the narrative, together with Helm's letter to Woodward, June 6, 1814, announ- 
cing it, see Appendix VI. 


hundred head of honied cattle and twenty-seven barrels of salt. In 
addition, three months' provisions had been expended between 
August seventh and twelfth, how or why the writer does not say. 
After the survey had been made, Kinzie (here Kinzie is erased in the 
manuscript and Wells substituted) Wells demanded of Heald if he 
intended to evacuate, and received an affirmative reply. Helm and 
Kinzie now urged Wells to ask Heald to destroy the ammunition and 
liquor. Wells declined, but offered to accompany Kinzie and Helm. 
To their representations Heald replied that he had received positive 
orders to deliver to the Indians "all the Public Property of whatso- 
ever nature/' that it was bad policy to tell a lie to an Indian, and that 
such a crime might irritate the natives and result in the destruction of 
his men. Kinzie thereupon offered to assume the responsibility by 
fabricating an order from Hull; to this scheme Heald assented; 
Kinzie wrote an order "as if from genL Hull" and gave it to Heald, 
and the arms and ammunition were destroyed. 

The account of the battle and massacre then follows. It contains 
some information of value, but unfortunately it is mingled with much 
that is evidently untrue. The attack began at ten o'clock in the 
morning, at a distance of a mile and a half from the fort. In a few 
minutes all but ten of the men were killed or wounded. Helm called 
upon his men to follow him to the prairie, then moved forward under 
heavy fire one hundred and five paces, when he wheeled to the left 
to "avoid being shot hi the back." This careful enumeration, while 
under heavy fire, of the exact number of paces taken by the troops 
can hardly convince the student of the writer's sincerity. Waiving 
this point, however, it is apparent that the Indians on Helm's flank 
were gaining his rear and he wheeled to the south to intercept them. 
The Indians now stopped firing "and nevour more renewed it." 
Helm at once ordered the men to reload their guns. He now dis- 
covered Captain Heald, "for the first time to my knowledge during 
the battle. He was coming from towards the Indians and to my 
great surprise they nevour offered to fire on him," The inference 
which the writer wishes to convey is plain, but it is also evident that 
Heald had been engaged in battle farther south, and that he had 
already taken steps to stop further slaughter by bargaining for sur- 
render. A futile attempt on the part of the soldiers to charge was 
followed by more parleying on Heald's part. Passing over the details, 


Helm represents that while Heald was agreeing with Black Bird upon 
the terms of surrender he himself with the men who were left fell back 
to an elevation near at hand. For a reason hinted at but not explained 
the men now regarded Helm as their commander. Heald repeatedly 
inquires of his subordinate what he intends to do. The men on the 
other hand beg him not to surrender. He urges them not to be uneasy 
for he has already done his best for them and will not surrender unless 
they are willing. 

Even the hostile savages now became aware of the quiet usurpa- 
tion of the command by Helm during the heat of the battle. The 
half-breed interpreter who had conducted the negotiations between 
Captain Heald and Black Bird came running to warn Helm not to 
surrender until a general council of the Indians had agreed to the 
terms. Helm replied that he "had no Ideah of surrender." The 
interpreter now collected the Indians and after haranguing them 
returned with the promise that they would spare the lives of Helm 
and his men if they would surrender. He also informed them that 
the lives of Kinzie and some of the women and children had already 
been spared. This last news enlivened Helm and his men, for they 
"well knew Mr. Kinzie stood higher than anny man in that country" 
among the Indians, and that "he might be the means of saving us 
from utter destruction, which afterwards proved to be the case." 

There follows a description of the scene of the massacre at the 
wagons which filled Helm with horror. There are a number of other 
details that need not be noticed here. The document is of great 
interest and of considerable value, but its partisan character is evident 
throughout. In his desire to cast discredit upon Captain Heald, 
Helm played fast and loose with the facts of the situation. The 
length to which he was willing to go in the effort to impugn Heald's 
judgment is perhaps sufficiently indicated by the story of the forged 
order for the destruction of the arms and ammunition. Even in the 
absence of positive evidence, the inherent improbability of the tale 
is such as to arouse grave suspicion of its validity. The discovery of 
Hull's order for the evacuation changes this suspicion to certainty. 
Since Heald was expressly enjoined to destroy the surplus arms and 
ammunition the whole tale concerning the forged order is obviously 
a sheer invention. Further misstatements occur in connection with 
the account of the supplies on hand at the time of the evacuation. 


Instead of two hundred stand of arms, the last Fort Dearborn inspec- 
tion return shows that there were approximately one-third this 
number; 947 and the number of surplus muskets destroyed did not 
exceed half a dozen. Instead of twenty-seven barrels of salt there 
were, according to a letter of Heald, written six weeks after the 
massacre, but seventeen barrels. 948 That there were seventy muskets 
instead of two hundred, and seventeen barrels of salt in place of 
twenty-seven, is of no particular consequence, for in each case the 
supply was more than sufficient. But the inaccuracy of Helm's 
statements is of some significance, as affording evidence of the untrust- 
worthiness of his narrative, even in matters concerning which no 
adequate motive for misrepresentation is apparent. The connection 
between Helm's narrative of the massacre and that of Mrs. Kinzie in 
the pages of Wau Bun has already been pointed out. The two pro- 
ceed from a common source, and have a common bias against Captain 
Heald. Helm was the original traducer of Heald. Almost a hundred 
years elapsed before his narrative appeared in print, and Mrs. Kinzie 
was probably unaware of its existence. Notwithstanding this its 
spirit is faithfully reflected in the latter's account, and through its 
agency passed into the literature of the Fort Dearborn massacre. 
Thus the partisan statements of a bitter enemy, who did not hesitate 
to pervert the truth in order to discredit his commander, taken up 
and reproduced by others, have been potent to blast the reputation 
of Heald to the present time, a century after the massacre. 949 

MT Heald Papers, Draper Collection, U, Vol. VIII. 

< Heald to Augustus Porter, contractor for the western posts, September 26, 1812. 
MS owned by the author. 

The issues raised by Helm's account of the massacre render it a matter of regret 
that but little authentic information is extant concerning him. Judge Woodward, in his 
letter to Proctor concerning the Chicago captives, speaks highly of Helm (Appendix VII) ; 
there is evidence, however, which tends to invalidate Woodward's estimate of Helm's 
character. The following sheds some light upon the characters respectively of Heald and 
his detractor. Heald was twice wounded in the battle of August 15, receiving a bullet in 
the hip and another through the arm. The former wound never ceased to trouble him 
(Physician's certificates, Heald Papers, in Draper Collection), and he carried the bullet 
which caused it to his grave. Helm received a slight flesh wound in the heel, from which 
he recovered so quickly that within six weeks Forsyth reported him "in good health and 
spirits" (letter of Thomas Forsyth to John Kinzie, September 24, 1812, printed in Maga- 
zine of History, XV, 89; see also, infra, letter of Heald to B. Roberts, December i, 1825). 
Heald refrained from applying for a pension, and when one was procured for him by two 
of his friends without his knowledge, the latter, in breaking the news to him, thought it 


After the sources of information derived from the two surviving 
officers and their wives follow a number of reports of distinctly lesser 
importance which found their way into the newspapers of the time. 
Several of these were preserved from oblivion by being reprinted 
during the few weeks following the massacre in that general repository 
of information, Niks' Register. The number of such reports which 
require consideration here is small. The news of the fall of Fort 
Dearborn was borne to the nearest American settlements more rapidly 
than might, hi view of all the circumstances, have been expected. As 
early as August 28 a report of it was published in the Western Courier, 
of Louisville. 950 It consisted of an extract from a letter received at 
Louisville from an officer of the army who apparently was at or in the 
vicinity of Fort Wayne. It stated correctly enough the leading facts 
that the fort had been evacuated, the garrison attacked after marching 
"about one mile," and that Heald had surrendered on receiving 

worth while to urge him not to decline it, and to suggest that he bestow it upon his children 
in case he felt any delicacy about accepting it himself (supra, note 629). It is apparent 
from the letter of Heald to B. Roberts, December i, 1825 (printed below), that when Helm 
came to apply for a pension he not only made what he might of his wound, but also pre- 
ferred a claim against the government for money advanced by him from his own funds to 
purchase articles for the troops at Chicago. This claim Heald denominated "entirely 
false & without the least foundation imaginable"; and further that any vouchers which 
Helm might submit in support of his claim were fraudulent. Heald's emphatic condemna- 
tion of Helm's assertions and claim find support in what we know of Helm's financial 
situation at the time. See on this supra, p. 365. In view of this it seems unlikely, without 
regard to Heald's testimony, that he was in a position to advance money to buy articles 

for the soldiers. 

[Letter of Heald to B. Roberts] 


i December 1825. 

DEAR SIR, I have reed, your Letter from Russellsville on the_ subject of Capt Helms claims on 
the Government. As to his wound reed, at Chicago I know nothing that can be of service to him 
in order that he may procure a pension, all that I can say of my own knowledge is that I discovered 
he walked a little lame, soon after the action was over, but I had no opportunity to find out the cause 
of it, before we were seperated. I was told about 10 days after the action by Mr. Kinzie, the stepfather 
of Mrs. Helm, that Capt. Helm's wound was very trifling & could not injure him. I have since seen 
Mr. Thos. Forsyth with whom Capt. Helm resided for several mo[n]ths immediately after the action 
and he told me that Capt. Helms wound was of no consequence, & that it appeared to be nothing more 
than a small flesh wound in one of his heals & did not disable him in the least. 

The statement he made to you respecting the artides he says he purchased for the troops & 
advanced the money out of his own funds to pay for them is entirely false & without the least founda- 
tion imaginable. And If he has any vouchers to support the claim, depend upon it Sir, they are 

Should you wish for my deposition stating my own knowledge of Capt. Helms 

Should you wish for my deposition to support Capt. Helms claim for a Pension, I am perfectly 
willing to give it, but I can say nothing more than I have said in this letter of my own knowledge. 

Member of Congress. 

The original manuscript from which the foregoing is taken is the copy of the letter 
retained by Heald, and is owned by his granddaughter, Mrs. Wright Johnson, of Ruther- 
ford, N.J. 

" A copy of this paper is owned by the Chicago Historical Society. 


assurances of mercy for the garrison. It erred, however, in reporting 
Heald and his wife among the slain, as well as all but three of Wells's 
Miamis. From these three survivors, it was stated, the information 
had been gained. 

In similar fashion the news of the massacre was carried to Detroit, 
now in the hands of the British, about the first of September. The 
first printed account from this source is found in NUes' Register for 
October 3, copied from an earlier number of the Buffalo Gazette. 
Considering the source of the information, the brief narrative corre- 
sponds more closely to the facts as we know them than might be 
expected. A Pottawatomie chief had brought the news to Detroit, 
from which place it had been carried eastward by the British warship, 
the "Queen Charlotte"; a flag of truce sent ashore at Fort Erie con- 
veyed the news to the Americans there, from which place, presumably, 
it was carried to Buffalo. The account places the number of survivors 
at ten or twelve, and, like the Louisville report, includes Captain 
Heald among the slain. 951 

More important than either of the foregoing is the report which 
appeared in the Missouri Gazette of September 19, 1812. It repre- 
sents 952 Captain Wells as bringing the order from Hull for the distribu- 
tion of the stores among the Indians and the evacuation of the fort. 
Heald prepared to comply with the order, but thought prudent to 
destroy alt the powder and whisky before distributing the goods. The 
Indians suspected this, overheard the staving-in of the powder kegs, 
and charged Wells with the fact. He denied it, however, and the 
goods were distributed to about eight hundred Indians. Signs of 
discontent were already manifest among the Indians when on the 
fourteenth an Indian runner arrived with a large red belt. He had 
been sent by Main Poc, the inveterate enemy of the Americans, who 
lived on the Kankakee but who was now fighting with Tecumseh's 
forces near Maiden. The message the runner bore acquainted the 
Indians around Fort Dearborn with the British successes and Hull's 
predicament on the Detroit frontier; it added that a vessel would be 
dispatched in a few days for Chicago with goods and ammunition for 
the Indians, and urged them to strike the Americans immediately. 

s> For other early newspaper reports of the massacre see Hurlbut, Chicago Antiquities, 

"' I have not had access to the paper itself, but have made use of the copy of the 
article made by Lyman C. Draper, in the Draper Collection, S, XXVI, 76. 


This message, added to the discontent over the destruction of the 
powder and whisky, precipitated the attack. The next day, about 
ten o'clock, the troops, fifty-four in number, with ten citizens, nine 
women, and eighteen children, evacuated the fort. After they had 
gone about a mile they were attacked by about four hundred Indians, 
and a general slaughter ensued. Thirty soldiers, including the doctor 
and the ensign, all of the citizens, two women, and twelve children 
were torn to pieces. The heart of Wells was torn out and divided 
among the different bands. In the midst of the carnage Mrs. Heald 
had sunk on the ground and an Indian had a war club raised to drive 
into her head, when she was rescued by a young Frenchman who 
purchased her with a mule. Heald's captors gave him his liberty, 
contrary to the wishes of the other savages. The commander and 
his wife were given protection in the house of a trader, where their 
wounds were dressed, and at the time of the report they were in 
process of recovery. 

This early report is worthy of notice for several reasons. It is 
notably accurate in some respects, and as notably incorrect in others. 
The figures given for the participants in the massacre and for the slain 
are surprisingly accurate for so early an unofficial report. On the 
other hand, while the order for the evacuation is given with a fair 
degree of accuracy, the account of its transmission to Fort Dearborn 
and the date of its arrival is entirely wrong. It is to be noted that 
thus early to the destruction of the ammunition and liquor is ascribed 
a large degree of responsibility for the massacre, and that a version of 
the ransoming of Mrs. Heald with a mule appears. It is evident that 
this report must have come from someone familiar with the facts con- 
cerning the massacre. Although it is not susceptible of proof, the 
opinion may be hazarded that this person was Thomas Forsyth, of 
Peoria, Kinzie's half-brother. He came to Chicago the day after the 
massacre, and started to return to Peoria a few days later. 953 He was 
active and enterprising, and not long afterwards was acting as an 
agent of the government among the Illinois River Indians. He was 
well known at St. Louis, and it seems not unlikely that he would have 
forwarded thither at the earliest opportunity an account of what had 
occurred at Chicago. 

Another report of the massacre, published in Niks' Register May 
8, 1813, requires more extended consideration. It purports to be an 

"Letter of Forsyth to Heald, January 2, 1813, supra, note 632. 


extract from a letter of Walter Jordan, "a non-commissioned officer 
of the Regulars at Fort Wayne," to his wife, October 19, 1812. The 
writer claims to have been a member of Wells's relief expedition, and 
thus to have been a participant in the Fort Dearborn massacre. 
According to the letter Wells left Fort Wayne August i, accompanied 
by Jordan and one hundred "Confute" Indians to escort Heald on 
his retreat from Chicago to Fort Wayne, "a distance of 150 miles." 
Wells reached Chicago August 10, and on the fifteenth all was in 
readiness for an immediate march, all the property that could not be 
removed having been burned. The force which evacuated the fort 
consisted of "Capt. Wells, myself and 100 Confute Indians, Capt. 
Heald's 100 men, 10 women, and 20 children in all 232." After a 
ten-minute conflict, in the course of which the "Confute" allies 
deserted to the enemy, all but fifteen of the whites were killed. But 
"thanks be to God," Jordan was numbered among the survivors. 
If his escape was as miraculous as the narrative represents it to have 
been, his thankfulness was not inappropriate. First the feather was 
shot off his cap, then the epaulet from his shoulder, and finally the 
handle from his sword. Unwilling, apparently, to tempt Providence 
further, Jordan now surrendered to "four savage rascals." His good 
fortune did not desert him, however; the Confute chief, taking him 
by the hand, assured him his life would be spared, but invited him 
to "come and see what we will do with your Captain." Leading the 
way to Wells they cut off his head and put it on a pole, took out his 
heart, and, having divided it among the chiefs, "ate it up raw." 
After this the fifteen survivors were parceled out among the victors. 
The band to whom Jordan fell promised, if he would stay with them, 
to make a chief of him; if he tried to escape they would burn him 
alive. Despite this alternative, having gained their confidence with 
a "fine story," Jordan made his escape and reached Fort Wayne on 
August 26, two days before it was blockaded by the Indians. 

If Jordan was in fact a member of Wells's party and this is an 
authentic account of the massacre by an eye-witness, it must be 
regarded as one of our most valuable sources of information. Its 
early date, the detailed description of events, and the precise enumera- 
tion of the forces engaged, combine with its first-hand character to 
give it this rank. If, on the other hand, the narrative is not to be 
accorded this high estimate, it must be dismissed as a mendacious and 


worthless fabrication. The circumstances of the case render the 
assumption of any middle ground between these positions impossible. 

Turning to Jordan's letter, even a casual inspection compels the 
adoption of the latter position. Waiving the question whether such 
a person as Walter Jordan ever in fact existed, the complete silence 
of all other sources as to his presence in Wells's party and at the 
Chicago massacre is enough to rouse grave suspicion concerning the 
truth of his story. His misstatements concerning the expedition of 
Wells and the massacre itself change this suspicion into certainty. 
Neither lapse of time nor second-hand information can be urged in 
extenuation of his false statements about the number of Wells's 
followers and of Heald's party. Aside from this consideration, the 
misstatements as to the time of Wells's trip, the tribe to which his 
followers belonged, and the distance from Fort Wayne to Chicago 
can hardly be explained on any other hypothesis than that of deliber- 
ate fabrication. Surely "a non-commissioned officer of the Regulars 
at Fort Wayne" would not substitute for the Miamis a purely imagi- 
nary tribe of Indians, having no existence outside the pages of his 
letter. A more Falstaffian tale than that of Jordan's miraculous 
escape from death, or a more improbable one than that detailing the 
circumstances attending the death of Wells would be difficult to 
imagine. Further refutation of the narrative is unnecessary, nor 
would it deserve the space that has already been devoted to it but for 
the fact that some have been misled into a belief in its reliability. 

The correspondence of Judge Woodward of Detroit with General 
Proctor relative to the survivors of the massacre constitutes a source 
of information of the highest quality. 954 With the massacre itself, 
however, it deals only incidentally, being limited to a consideration of 
the survivors and the means of rescuing them from captivity. Wood- 
ward was perhaps the most prominent citizen of Detroit and Michigan 
Territory, noted for his eccentricity and his ability. On the arrival 
of Captain Heald and his wife and Sergeant Griffith at Detroit early 
in October, Woodward set himself the task of gaining all the informa- 
tion they could give him concerning the losses in the battle and the 
survivors of the massacre, and this information he incorporated a 
few days later in a vigorous letter to Proctor, the British commander 
at Detroit, appealing to him to take all the measures in his power to 

S4 For Woodward's letter to Proctor, October 7, 1812, see Appendix VII. 


recover the unfortunate captives. It is probable that Heald and 
Griffith could not speak with entire accuracy concerning the losses 
sustained and the number of these survivors, but they were of course 
able to give Woodward valuable information on the subject; and his 
letter to Proctor constitutes one of our most valuable sources of 
information concerning it. 

An account of the massacre drawn in large part from the same 
source as Woodward's information, but written a few years later, is 
contained in McAfee's History of the Late War, published in 1816. 
McAfee was a Kentuckian and himself a soldier in the war, having 
served as an officer in the regiment of Colonel Richard M. Johnson. 
Because of this, and because his information was largely gathered from 
participants in the events described, his history possesses much of 
the flavor of a first-hand narrative. McAfee gives a short account 
of the destruction of Fort Dearborn, based on information received 
from Sergeant Griffith, who was also a member of Johnson's regiment. 
The narrative, being thus second-hand, is open to criticism in certain 
respects, but the chief occasion for regret is that McAfee's purpose 
was satisfied with so brief an account; for the source of his informa- 
tion, the early date of the history, and the character of McAfee as a 
historian all tend to the belief that had it suited his purpose to enter 
more fully into the account of Fort Dearborn, a narrative of great 
value would have been produced. 

We come, after these contemporary accounts, to the recollections 
and reminiscences told in old age by participants, or relatives or 
friends of participants, in the massacre. Some of these have proved 
to be of considerable value for the reconstruction of our story, but in 
most sources of this character the traces of time and of failing memory 
are plainly to be seen. Moreover, some of them are affected by the 
narrator's personal friendships or antipathies, and given in support or 
contradiction of some partisan account. Few of them are or pretend 
to be more than fragmentary accounts of the battle. Among such 
sources may be mentioned the testimony of Black Hawk, 955 of 
Shabbona, 956 of Joseph Bourassa, 957 and of Paul De Garmo. 958 

ss Black Hawk, Life, 42. 

Wisconsin Historical Collections, VII, 416-18. 
Draper Collection, S, XXIII, 165 ff. 

ta De Garmo's story is contained in a letter of Charles A. Lamb, August 24, 1893, 
MS in the Chicago Historical Society library. 


Logically belonging in the same class as the foregoing, but re- 
quiring in each case more extended consideration, are the narratives 
of Alexander Robinson, of Moses Morgan, and of Susan Simmons 
Winans. Robinson was one of the chiefs in the massacre who was 
friendly to the whites and did what he might to save them. He it 
was who piloted the Healds and Sergeant Griffith in their three- 
hundred-mile canoe voyage from the St. Joseph River to Mackinac. 
He was one of the last survivors of the massacre, living in the imme- 
diate vicinity of Chicago until 1872, and well known to the generation 
of Chicagoans before the great fire. For some reason the first genera- 
tion of writers upon early Chicago history did not take the trouble 
to secure from Robinson his version of the massacre. A manuscript 
which purports to contain his story of the affair is, however, in the 
possession of the Chicago Historical Society. The information con- 
tained in it purports to have been secured by Carl A. Dilg in a series 
of interviews with the daughter of Robinson some time after the 
chief's death. Dilg considered it of great importance, but a careful 
study of it compels the conclusion that it possesses practically no 
historical value. It was not put in writing until three-quarters of a 
century had elapsed; more important, Robinson himself was illiter- 
ate, and the story, third-hand at best, was elicited from his daughter 
in a series of interviews extending over several years, by a man whose 
prejudices were so violent and methods of work so unscientific as to 
render confidence in its reliability impossible. 

The account of Susan Simmons Winans, of great value from one 
point of view, must, for the actual affair of the massacre, be classed 
with the story of Robinson. Mrs. Winans, the infant daughter of 
John Simmons, was saved by her mother from the slaughter at the 
wagons. Both mother and child appeared as if from the dead in 
April, 1813, after a series of adventures which recall the age of miracles 
and providential protection. Mrs. Simmons lived until 1857, and 
her daughter, Mrs. Winans, until 1900, being the last known survivor 
of the massacre. Both mother and daughter frequently narrated to 
their relatives the story of their captivity, the daughter's knowledge 
having been derived, of course, from her mother. A relative, Doctor 
N. Simmons, the son of a brother of John Simmons, moved by family 
pride in the narrative and possessed of some slight literary ability, 
published in 1896 a small volume which contained, in addition to the 


story of his kinsfolk, a sketch of the massacre and of the Pottawatomie 
tribe of Indians. 959 The account of the massacre is a reprint of 
Edward G. Mason's narrative in his Chapters from Illinois History, 
and the volume is of value solely for the account it gives of the cap- 
tivity and later life of Mrs. Simmons and her daughter. 

Finally, we may consider the massacre narrative of Moses Morgan 
as preserved by William R. Head. Among the workmen who helped 
to build the second Fort Dearborn in 1816 was Moses Morgan, fore- 
man of a gang of carpenters. He had served as a volunteer in Hull's 
army in 1812, and after his exchange from the captivity consequent 
upon the surrender of Detroit, had re-entered the service as a carpenter. 
He soon became a foreman, and in this capacity assisted in the build- 
ing of Commodore Perry's fleet on Lake Erie. In 1816 he was ordered 
to accompany the troops sent to rebuild the fort at Chicago. In 
later life he became the neighbor at Carlinville, 111., of William R. 
Head, who for many years before his death in 1910 was a resident of 
Chicago. Head early became interested in local history, and for a 
period of forty years was a tireless collector of data pertaining to 
early Chicago and Illinois. Among other things, he recorded the 
story told him by Moses Morgan. It contains many details not 
found elsewhere, and if it were of such a character that these could 
be relied upon, it would constitute an exceedingly valuable source of 

Unfortunately, however, it exhibits many defects. The account 
was written out by Head late in life from notes taken and from recol- 
lections of his various conversations with Morgan many years before. 
Head, like Dilg, was lacking in historical training, while he held a 
number of theories concerning the massacre and possessed a violent 
antipathy for everything connected with the Kinzie family. In his 
old age he undertook a revision of his manuscript, which further 
militated against its reliability; finally, to complete the tale of defects, 
after his death the mass of notes and other material which he had 
accumulated, and by which the correctness of his statements might 
to some extent have been tested, was burned as rubbish by his family. 
Because of the unreliable character of the narrative but little depend- 
ence can be placed upon it, particularly in those portions which 
involve Head's theories or his prejudices. Yet it seems possible to 

Simmons, N., Heroes and Heroines of the Fort Dearborn Massacre. 


trust some of its statements and accordingly some use has been made 
of it in the present work. There is no reason to question the character 
and integrity of either Morgan or Head, or to suppose that either 
consciously misrepresented the facts. The more reliable portion of 
the narrative has been utilized in the chapter on the fate of the sur- 
vivors of the massacre. The part which deals with the tragedy itself 
is given here because of its human interest, in spite of a lack of con- 
fidence in its historical worth. 

When the garrison came, in the summer of 1816, to rebuild the 
fort, many evidences of the massacre were still to be seen. Many 
attempts were made by the officers to get an exact account of the 
destruction of the first fort from the Indians and the half-breeds who 
knew the facts. No dependence, however, could be placed upon 
their statements. Previous to the coming of the troops some of these 
residents had boasted of the part they had taken in the slaughter. 
For obvious reasons their denials were now as strenuous as their 
former boasting had been loud. It was found that tales of the fight 
were being manufactured by the interpreters, and some of them were 
dismissed, but without any favorable results in the form of desired 

One account was obtained by a soldier's wife from Okra, Ouil- 
mette's wife, and a half-breed French woman. These women had, 
they said, watched the departure of the troops from the fort. From 
a favorable vantage point on the north side of the river where Ouil- 
mette's hut stood they had watched the troops march out, the Captain 
and his wife being the last to leave. There were two army wagons, 
one containing the women and children and the personal baggage, 
drawn by Lee's horses; to the other, laden with ammunition and 
provisions, three pairs of steers were yoked. Soon the women heard 
the sound of firing and smelled the powder smoke, but from their 
position on the north side of the river they were unable to see the 

Another and fuller story was obtained from a wounded soldier 
of Heald's command who was found, under circumstances already 
described, 960 living a few miles up the North Branch. In presenting 
the details, it should be noted that they bear throughout the imprint 
of Head's theories and prejudices. There were not provisions enough 

* Supra, pp. 260-61. 


for a long siege. The garrison should not have left so soon. Kinzie 
was not faithful in his interpretations. Lieutenant Helm was so 
drunk on the morning of August 15 that he was not able to retain his 
place in line. There were two wagons, one of which was guarded by 
the militia and the soldiers who had children. The troops marched 
out close to the water's edge, and when the wagons had gone a short 
distance beyond the mouth of the river two half-grown Pottawatomie 
boys began shooting at the animals hitched to the wagons, wounding 
one of the horses and causing it to lie down. The steers attached to 
the army wagon turned quickly around, breaking the wagon-pole, 
and half overturning the wagon. For a time the men about the 
wagons stood patiently in line surrounded by a group of friendly 
Indians. Then the strange Indians, not finding the ammunition and 
provisions in the fort, came rushing down upon the wagons. As they 
came on the men gave three volleys, killing many of them. The sur- 
render was made by the Captain to Black Bird, and the valuables and 
money were given under a promise of protection for the men. The 
Captain and a sergeant were turned over to Robinson to be saved for 
their money. The general opinion when Morgan left Chicago was 
that the delay caused by the Indian boys' attack upon the teams was 
the chief reason why the party did not escape; that the attack upon 
the wagons took place beyond the mouth of the river; and that the 
ensign made a mistake in commanding his men to fire so quickly. 



Nathan Heald, the son of Thomas Heald & Sibyl, his wife, was 
born in New Ipswich in the state of New Hampshire the 24th of 
September 1775, and entered the army of the U. States as an Ensign 
the 2nd of March 1799. In the spring of 1800 went to Springfield in 
Mass, on the Recruiting Service. 

In the spring of 1801 left Springfield with a Detachment of 
Recruits under the command of Capt. Lyman to join the western 
Army, and arrived at Wilkinson Ville on the Ohio early in the fall of 
the same year. Left Wilkinson Ville late in the fall of the same year, 
with a Detachment of 4 Companies of Inf under the Command of 
Capt. R. Bissell & went up Tennessee River 2 or 3 miles above the 
mouth of Bear Creek, built a cantonment &c. 

In the spring of 1802, a part of the Army being disbanded, I went 
to Vincennes with a Detachment of Capt. Lyman's company to join 
that post. 

In the spring of 1803, went on Command to Detroit with Gov'r 
Harrison, & returned to Vincennes the next fall, having been sick at 
Detroit all summer. 

In the beginning of 1804, went to Chilicothe Ohio on the Recruit- 
ing service; spent the summer following at Maysville Ky on the same 
service & returned to Vincennes in the fall of the same year. 

In the spring of 1805, went to Fort Massack where I commanded 
till late in the fall of the same year when I sat out on furlough for 
Concord Mass, and arrived there in January 1806. Attended a Genl. 
Court Martial as a Member on the seaboard in New Hampshire the 
same winter, and went to New London Conn, on the Recruiting 
service with Cap. Stoddard in the spring. Left New London late in 
the summer & went to New Brunswick N.J. on the same service, & 

** Printed for the first time from the original manuscript among the Heald papers in 
the Draper Collection at Madison, Wis. The Journal was kept by Heald in a small blank 
book about 3X6 inches in size. It contains in addition to the autobiographical matter 
presented here a number of pages of memoranda consisting of military data, financial 
entries, medical and household recipes, and so forth. 



in the fall, was ordered to Fort Wayne, by the way of Philadelphia 
where I joined Capt. Stoddard with a Detachment of Recruits & went 
with him to Newport on the Ohio, then by myself to Fort Wayne, 
where I arrived and took the command in Jan. 7 1807. On the 3ist 
of that month & the same year was promoted to a Capt. in ist Reg't 

In the spring of 1807 went to Detroit to sit on a Gen'l Court 
Martial & returned to Fort Wayne in the summer. 

In June 1810 left Fort Wayne & went to Chicago to Command that 
Post, went on furlough to Massachusetts in the fall of the same year 
and returned by the way of Kentucky where I was married to Rebecca 
Wells the daughter of Gen'l Samuel Wells and Mary his wife, on the 
23d of May 1811, and arrived at Chicago in June with Mrs. Heald. 

On the 4th of May 1812, we had a son born dead for the want of 
a skilful Midwife. 

On the gth of Augt, 1812, rec'd orders from Gen'l Wm. Hull to 
evacuate the Post of Chicago and proceed with my Command to 

On the 1 5th Marched for Detroit & was attacked by about 500 
Indians two miles from the Fort and there was killed in the action 
i Ensign, i Surgeon's Mate, 24 Non-Commissioned Officers Musicians 
& Privates, 12 Militia including Capt. Wells of the Indian Department 
at Fort Wayne, 2 Women & 12 Children. Myself, one Lieut. 25 
Non-Commiss. Officers Musicians & Privates and eleven Women & 
Children were captured by the Indians. On the i6th, that is the day 
after [the] action, Mrs. Heald & myself were taken to the St. Joseph 
River by our new Masters. The journey was performed in three days 
by coasting the Lake (Michigan) and we remained with them (both 
being badly wounded & unable to help ourselves) till the 29 of the 
same Month when we took our departure for Michilimackinac in a 
Birch Canoe, with Sergeant Griffith, one of the unfortunate prisoners, 
and 3 Frenchmen & a Squaw. The i4th of Sept. we all arrived safe 
at Michilimackinac. I was there Paroled by Capt. Roberts, the 
British Comma[n]dant, & permitted to proceed to Detroit with Mrs. 
Heald & the Sergeant. 

Left the Island on the igth of the month (Sept.) and arrived at 
Detroit the 22nd was there permitted by Capt. Proctor to proceed 
to the U. States on Parole. Left Detroit the 4th of October, and 


arrived at Buffalon the 8th in the old Brigg Adams. Left Buffalon 
the roth and arrived at Pittsburg the 22nd. 

Left Pittsburgh the 8th Nov. and arrived at Louisville the igth. 
The distance from Chicago to Michilimackinac in coasting the Lake 

on the east side is 400 miles 

Thence to Detroit 300 

Thence to Buffalon 280 

Thence to Erie by land 90 

Thence to Pittsburgh by land but we travelled by water 132 
Thence to Louisville by water 705 

Total 1907 

On the 26th of August 1812, I was promoted to a Major in the 4th 
Regt. Inf 'y. 

The winter of 1812-13 Mrs. Heald & myself spent at her father's, 
and went to Newport in the spring where we spent the summer follow- 
ing & returned to Mr. Jaoob Geiger's near Louisville & spent the 
whiter of 1813-14. The spring and summer following I was engaged 
in putting up buildings on a piece of Land I bought of Mr. Wand 
joining Jacob Geiger's Plantation & moved into the buildings late in 
the fall of 1814. 

At the Consolidation of the Army in 1814 I was disbanded, being 
then a Major in the igth Regt. of Inf'y. 

Mary Sibyl Heald was born at her Grandfather's near Louisville 
on the i;th of Ap'l 1814. 

Margaret Ann Heald born at my House near Louisville the gth 
of Dec'r 1816 Kentucky. 

Feb i $th 1817 sold my House & Lot near Louisville Ky to Mr. 
Jacob Geiger for $3000. 

March 22nd 1817. Left Louisville with my family for St. Charles 
County Missouri Territory and arrived there the i5th of Apl. follow- 

Spent the summer of 1817 at Joseph Batys plantation. 

Nov'r 1817 moved to a Plantation I bought of Jacob Zumwalt 
for $1000. 

Rebecca Hackley Heald was born hi St. Charles County the 7th 
January 1819. 

2ist September 1820. Mr. Geiger's family arrived from Ken- 


Nov'r 2nd Mrs Geiger died of a consumption. (Nov) 6th Mr. 
Geiger with his Children sat out for Kentucky. 

i yth October (1820) Bought a House and lot in St. Charles of 
Antoine Ganis for the sum of $450. cash in hand. 

Rebecca Hackley Heald Died i6th Jan'y 1821, between the hours 
of 8 & 9 P.M. Aged 2 Years & 10 days. 

Darius Heald born on Sunday Jan'y 2yth 1822, at 3 o'Clock in 
the morning. The Moon 5 days old, in the sign of (Aries) State of 
Missouri St. Charles County. 



PITTSBURG, October 23d, 1812. 

SIR : I embrace this opportunity to render you an account of the 
garrison of Chicago. 

On the Qth of August last, I received orders from General Hull to 
evacuate the post and proceed with my command to Detroit, by land, 
leaving it at my discretion to dispose of the public property as I 
thought proper. The neighboring Indians got the information as 
early as I did, and came in from all quarters in order to receive the 
goods in the factory store, which they understood were to be given 
them. On the i3th, Captain Wells, of Fort Wayne, arrived with 
about 30 Miamies, for the purpose of escorting us in, by the request 
of General Hull. On the i4th, I delivered the Indians all the goods 
in the factory store, and a considerable quantity of provisions which 
we could not take away with us. The surplus arms and ammuni- 
tion I thought proper to destroy, fearing they would make bad 
use of it if put in their possession. I also destroyed all the liquor 
on hand after they began to collect. The collection was unusually 
large for that place; but they conducted themselves with the 
strictest propriety till after I left the fort. On the i5th, at 9 
o'clock in the morning, we commenced our march: a part of the 
Miamies were detached in front, and the remainder in our rear, 
as guards, under the direction of Captain Wells. The situation of 
the country rendered it necessary for us to take the beach, with 
the lake on our left, and a high sand bank on our right, at about 
100 yards distance. 

We had proceeded about a mile and a half, when it was discovered 
that the Indians were prepared to attack us from behind the bank. 
I immediately marched up with the company to the top of the bank, 

*" The report has been published in various places, usually with the opening sentence 
omitted. As presented here the report is taken from the Drennan Papers, copied from 
Brannan's Official Military and Naval Letters (Washington, 1823), 84. 



when the action commenced; after firing one round, we charged, and 
the Indians gave way in front and joined those on our flanks. In 
about fifteen minutes they got possession of all our horses, provisions, 
and baggage of every description, and finding the Miamies did not 
assist us, I drew off the few men I had left, and took possession of a 
small elevation in the open prarie, out of shot of the bank or any 
other cover. The Indians did not follow me, but assembled in a 
body on the top of the bank, and after some consultations among 
themselves, made signs for me to approach them. I advanced towards 
them alone, and was met by one of the Potawatamie chiefs, called the 
Black Bird, with an interpreter. After shaking hands, he requested 
me to surrender, promising to spare the lives of all the prisoners. 
On a few moments consideration, I concluded it would be most pru- 
dent to comply with his request, although I did not put entire confi- 
dence in his promise. After delivering up our arms, we were taken 
back to their encampment near the fort, and distributed among the 
different tribes. The next morning, they set fire to the fort and left 
the place, taking the prisoners with them. Their number of warriors 
was between four and five hundred, mostly of the Potawatamie 
nation, and their loss, from the best information I could get, was 
about fifteen. Our strength was fifty-four regulars and twelve 
militia, out of which, twenty-six regulars and all the militia were 
killed in the action, with two women and twelve children. Ensign 
George Ronan and doctor Isaac V Van Voorhis of my company, with 
Captain Wells, of Fort Wayne, are, to my great sorrow, numbered 
among the dead. Lieutenant Lina T. Helm, with twenty-five non- 
commissioned officers and privates, and eleven women and children, 
were prisoners when we were separated. Mrs. Heald and myself 
were taken to the mouth of the river St. Joseph, and being both badly 
wounded, were permitted to reside with Mr. Burnet, an Indian trader. 
In a few days after our arrival there, the Indians all went off to take 
Fort Wayne, and in their absence, I engaged a Frenchman to take us 
to Michilimackinac by water, where I gave myself up as a prisoner 
of war, with one of my sergeants. The commanding officer, Captain 
Roberts, offered me every assistance in his power to render our situa- 
tion comfortable while we remained there, and to enable us to proceed 
on our journey. To him I gave my parole of Honour, and came on 
to Detroit and reported myself to Colonel Proctor, who gave us a 


passage to Buffaloe; from that place I came by way of Presque Isle, 
and arrived here yesterday. 

I have the honor to be yours, &c., 


Captain U3. Infantry. 
Adjutant General. 



In a newspaper account preserved by D. Heald, somewhat frag- 
mentary evidently an obituary notice of Maj. Heald is the follow- 
ing, supplying a few words toward the close in brackets: 

"Maj. Heald was in command of Fort Dearborn, Chicago, in 
1812, when an order was presented to him by a British officer [an 
Indian, Mr. D. Heald believes] from Gen. Hull to deliver up the post, 
with all the public property therein. The officer was accompanied by 
several hundred Indians who, after the troops had left the garrison, 
commenced an indiscriminate massacre of the men, women & children. 
The Major endeavored to rally the few who were armed, but was so 
severely wounded in the very outset as to be deprived of every means 
of resistance. In this situation he was about to be dispatched by 
some of the Indians and was only saved by the interference of a 
young man, a half-breed connected with the Indians by the name 
of Jean Baptist Chandonnis, through whose persuasions & the hope 
of a considerable reward which he held out to the savages, they 
were induced to desist from their murderous design, & to take 
him a prisoner. Mrs. Heald was in the early part of the action 
separated from her husband & fell in company with her uncle, the 
late Maj. Wm. Wells, formerly Indian Agent at Fort Wayne. In 
the running fight which this brave man kept up with a dozen of 
the Indians, & while dying of the wounds he had received, he 
killed three of their best warriors, two with his rifle & the third 
with his dirk. Mrs. Heald was wounded in the breast, in both 
arms and in the side. To her unshaken [firmness] is she indebted 
[for the preservation of her own life and that of] her husband [by 
the aid of] their friend Chandonis." 

** For an account of the two Darius Heald narratives of the massacre see supra, 
p. 381. The earlier narrative of the two, which is presented here, was related in an inter- 
view with Lyman C. Draper in 1868. It is printed here for the first time, from the original 
manuscript in the Draper Collection. It has never been used by historical writers 
hitherto, nor, apparently, has the fact of its existence been known. 



[From Darius Heald] 

Maj. Heald resolved to retire for Detroit. Can't tell when nor 
where the militia came from who were killed. Wells thought there 
would be difficulty, yet thought they might effect their escape, & 
strongly advised the attempt, saying the longer they remained the 
more Indians there would be ready to intercept them when they should 
start, as they would have to do when starved out. Thinks there was 
no opposition to evacuation by any of the officers. Mrs. Heald used 
so to represent it. Capt. Wm. Wells got there perhaps three or four 
days before the evacuation, nothing was then destroyed; the secreting 
the ammunition in the well was after he came, as also the destruction 
of the whiskey, so the Indians should not have it to infuriate them. 

The government Indian goods were distributed to the Indians, 
ttho were receiving them as the garrison left. Capt. Wells & the 
militia were half a mile in advance. The Indians had formed a half 
circle at the east end of the Lake, & the west end of which was left 
open for the Americans to enter. They did enter. This half moon 
trap was about three-fourths of a mile long. Wells discovered them 
as he neared their upper or western line, the advanced party were 
fired on, returned the fire & fell back to the main body. Wells gave 
a signal with his hat before reaching Maj. Heald & the main body. 
Wells & party yet some distance off, mounted on ponies, waving his 
hat, indicating that their march was intercepted. Indians' heads now 
began to pop up all along the line. Then Maj. Heald formed his men 
in battle line on a sand hill, the wagons were made part of the line of 
defence. The Indians would get up as near as they could, behind 
trees, bushes & sand banks to protect them, would fire upon Heald's 
band, who would repel these attacks. Discovering a short distance 
ahead a better position for defence, Maj. Heald got the wagons con- 
taining sick soldiers, women & children between the troops & the Lake, 
made a charge, drove the Indians & secured this more desirable 

The Indians kept crowding up & a running fight took place, 
seemingly from the fort to where the wagons were. Mrs. Heald 
found herself in front & near her uncle, who rode up beside her, saying, 
"My child, I'm mortally wounded." The blood was oozing from his 
mouth & nose. Shot through the lungs. She inquired if he might 
not possibly recover. "No, I can't live more than an hour," and 


added, "My horse is also badly wounded & I fear cannot carry me to 
where the wagons are. I must hasten. " His horse soon fell & caught 
one of the dying captain's legs under him; but Wells managed to dis- 
engage himself. Mrs. Heald now said to him, "See, there are Indians 
close by." He replied, "I care not. I cannot last but a few minutes; 
I will sell my life as dearly as possible; as there is no apparent hope 
for your escape, my dear child, I trust you will die as bravely as a 
soldier." He now fell to the ground & shot as he lay, with his rifle & 
then with his pistol, thus dispatching two Indians; while reloading 
several other Indians came up & laying as if dead he made a last 
effort, raised his rifle & killed another, then hastily bidding his niece 
farewell, adding that he had done all he could in his weakness, the 
advancing Indian host had now come up, readily recognized him, 
though painted black & dressed like an Indian, & while some of them, 
disingenuously, treacherously, spoke of saving him, one of their num- 
ber pointed his gun at Wells' head, seeing which the dying man 
pointed his finger at his heart, & made a circular motion around the 
crown of his head, thus indicating where to shoot him, & take his 
scalp, in another instant he lay in death, when his heart was taken 
out, cut up into small bits, distributed & eaten, that they might prove 
as brave as he. His scalp was then torn off, his body well hacked & 
cut to pieces. 

Mrs. Heald received her wo[u]nds while close by her brave uncle, 
three wounds in one arm, one in the other, one cut across her breast, 
one in her side, only one bone, & that in one of her arms, broken. 
She stuck to her horse, was surrounded by the savages & taken 
prisoner. She had no weapon of defense. Doesn't know what 
Indian took her, except that he was a young chief. She & her horse 
were led off and taken to where the squaws were. On the way the 
Indians charged her with being an Ep-pi-con-yare a Wells. This, 
from supposed policy, she denied. The squaws came out to meet the 
approaching party, and one of these forest ladies at once commenced 
pulling out the blanket from under Mrs. Heald, which was spread 
over the saddle, & on which she sat, when she tried to see if she could 
use her right hand, which was the least disabled of the two, & plied 
her riding whip two or three times smartly over the adventurous 
squaw's bare neck and shoulders, who quickly relinquished her hold 
and retreated beyond the reach of this white squaw warrior. The 


young chief who had her in charge let go the bridle & raised a hearty 
yell of rejoicing at the daring intrepidity of his prisoner, exclaiming, 
"brave squaw! Epiconyare!" He seemed resolved on protecting & 
serving her, & appeared to admire her spirit. He would afterwards 
take the unfortunate squaw, who was supposed to be his wife, & 
exhibit to the Indians the marks on her shoulders & relate the cir- 
cumstances of her receiving them, when they would all raise a hearty 
laugh, which the squaw herself seemed to enjoy as much as the others. 

The chief gave directions to the squaws who lifted Mrs. Heald 
from her horse, to dress the wounds with poultices, which they did, 
& rendered her condition very comfortable. 

In the fight she had observed one of the officers fall, perhaps 
her husband. She inquired as to Maj. Heald's fate, saying she was 
the white captain's squaw. They told her he was wpunded & a 
prisoner to another band, & had not yet marched away. She then 
told them she wanted to see him & share his fate in company with 
him. They told her that she and her husband belonged to different 
parties, and she could not go with him. She insisted that she must 
see him or die. A squaw who had dressed her wounds now addressed 
her as Epi-con-yare, and she now frankly acknowledged the relation- 
ship, and said if she had been a man she would have fought as long 
as a red skin could have been found. 

Now Jean Baptist Chandonnis made quite a speech to the 
Indians of the band who had her, appealing to them in their native 
language, saying that she was an Ep-i-con-yare, that she was not only 
related to a brave man, but was the wife of a brave officer, and had 
proved herself a brave & spirited woman, and ought to be permitted 
to see her husband, and closed with a noble appeal in her behalf. 
He obtained their promise to remain until he could go and see the 
Indian who had Captain Heald as his prisoner. He at once repaired 
to the other camp & informed [Captain Heald] about his wife; & 
prevailed on his Indian captor to mount him on a poney, though 
wounded, & conveyed him to where his wife was, when an affecting 
meeting took place. The good-hearted Chandonnis then tried to 
effect a trade, an arrangement by which the two prisoners should be 
kept together. At length Chandonnis purchased Mrs. Heald from 
her captor for an old mule captured there and a bottle of whiskey, 
and had her placed with her husband. 


In the fight the Indians got in the rear & were killing sick soldiers, 
women and children when Heald & party commenced falling back, 
but they were overpowered, killed and taken. Capt. Heald also 
captured, all at last, in a hand-to-hand fight, all mixed up, whites & 

The Indians used guns, spears, bows & arrows, in the fight. 

Thinks the prisoners, Mr. & Mrs. Heald, were some thirty days 
reaching Mackinaw where Capt. Heald, being a mason, was befriended 
by the British officer in command there, one of the fraternity, & was 
treated very kindly, who offered to loan him any amount of money, 
tendering him his pocketbook even; adding that if he ever reached 
home he could return it if not it would all be right. 

It was believed by Mrs. Heald that it was her spirited conduct 
that induced the Indians to spare her & her husband, both badly 
wounded, & in such condition would be troublesome & cumbersome. 

Mrs. Heald saw & read Mrs. Kinzie's Waubun & said it was 
exaggerated & incorrect in its relation of the Chicago massacre. 
Don't know the name of the Indian who took Capt. Heald. 

Mrs. Heald said the Indians were not drunk. 

Mr. D. Heald thinks the friendly Miamis who came with Wells 
to escort in the troops were what Maj. Heald speaks of as militia 
[which I doubt, as it seems that the friendly Indians took no part in 
the fight, whereas some of the "militia" were killed, as Heald's 
report shows. L.C.D.] 

Thinks Wells painted himself as much to disguise his person as 
for anything else. Mrs. Heald said that she did not see the incident 
of Mrs. Helm (if it was her) being sent by her captor into the edge 
of the lake for safety. 

In 1831, Chandonnis called & visited Maj. Heald & wife, accom- 
panied by a chief, and spent two or three days there, they being cor- 
dially entertained, Maj. H. killing a beef & a sheep & gave them a 
feast of fresh meat, & talked over the story of the eventful captivity. 
Chandonnis & others were then on their way to Kansas as a deputa- 
tion to view the country & report the result of their observations to 
their people. 

Just before the evacuation of Chicago, Mrs. Heald had sewed 
into a wamus, or roundabout, several hundred dollars in paper money, 
& gave the since chief Alex. Robinson $100. for conveying Maj. 


Heald & wife to Mackinaw, which he safely accomplished. This 
garment Maj. Heald wore under his regular military suit, & when his 
outside clothing was stripped from him, the old wamus & money were 
left untouched. 

Page 615 of Peck's edition of Annals of the West, says Mrs. 
Heald was attacked in a boat, this is a mistake. 

The Indians were not troublesome as represented in that work, 
as crowding into the fort before the evacuation. 

Wells arrived the i3th, see Heald's official report in the "Annals." 

Maj. Heald was so disabled that he was not engaged in any other 
active military service subsequently. After a few years his wounds 
gradually grew worse, so that he had to use a crutch & cane, & these 
wounds finally hastened his death, the ball was never extracted. 

Can't say about Capt. Heald first going to Chicago in 1810, 
don't know whether there was then any garrison there or not. 

Mrs. Heald was born in Jefferson Co., Ky., in 1790, was in her 
2ist year when married in May, 1811. 

Mr. Heald has got a small water-color likeness of his grand- 
father, Gen'l Sam'l Wells, and a daguerreotype 964 of Mrs. Rebecca 
Heald. There is no likeness extant of Maj. Heald. 

.< Now owned by his daughter, Mrs. Lillian Heald Richmond, of St. Louis; for a 
reproduction of it see p. 300. 



DEAR SIR : I hope you will excuse the length of time I have taken 
to communicate the history of the unfortunate massicree of Chicago 
it is now nearly finished and in two weeks you may expect it as the 
history cannot possibly be written with truth without eternally dis- 
gracing major Heald I wish you could find out whether I shall be 
cashiered or censured for bringing to light the conduct of so great a 
man as many thinks him You know I am the only Officer that has 
escaped to tell the news some of the men have got off but where they 
are I know not they could be able to testify to some of the principal 
facts I have waited a long time expecting a court of inquiry on his 
conduct but see plainly it is to be overlooked I am resolved now to 
do myself justice even if I have to leave the service to publish the 
history, I shall be happy to hear from you immediately on the receipt 
of this 

I have the honor to be 

with great respect 
Your Obt Hb Servt 

L. T. HELM. 

Washington City. 

* The letter as printed here is copied from the original manuscript in the Detroit 
Public Library. Notwithstanding Helm's statement that the narrative would be ready 
in two weeks, an endorsement on the back of it indicates that it was not received by Wood- 
ward until November 10, 1815. In the meantime Heald had severed his connection with 
the army, near the close of 1814. In view of Helm's apprehensions of being court-martialed 
for his story, it seems not unlikely that there is some relation between Heald's retirement 
and its long-delayed appearance. Words and phrases which have been crossed out in the 
original manuscript of the letter and of the massacre narrative are printed in italics and 
put within brackets. 



[Addressed] Flemirigton [Paid] 17 

Jun 6th. 

Augustus B. Woodward, Esq. 

[Washington City] 


[Endorsed] < 

Helm, Mr. Linah T., 
letter from 

Dated Fleming- 
ton New Jersey 

June 6th. 1814. 
Received at Washing- 



Some time in [March] April, about the yth-io, a party of Winne- 
bagoes came to Chicago and murdered 2 Men this gave a Sufficient 
ground for to suppose the Indians Hostile as they had left every sign 
by scalping them & leaving a weapon say a war mallet as a token of 
their returning in June, Mr. Kinzie sent in a letter from the Interior 
of the Indian country to inform Capt. Heald that the Indians were 
Hostile inclined & only waiting the Declaration of War to commence 
Hostilities this they told Kenzie In confidence on the loth of July 
Capt. Heald got the information of War being declared & on the 8th. 
of august got Genl. Hull's order to Evacuate the Post of Fort Dear- 
borne by the route of Detroit or Fort Wayne if Practicable. This 
Letter was brot by a Potowautemie Chief Winnemeg & he informed 
Capt. Heald through Kenzie to evacuate immediately the next day 
if possible as the Indians were hostile & that the Troops should 
change the usual Route to go to Fort Wayne. [The Evacuation took 
place on the 15 August prior to this] Capt. William Wells arrived from 
Fort Wayne on the i2th August with 27 Miamis and after a council 

** The narrative, like the letter (supra), is copied from the original manuscript in the 
Detroit Public Library. The tabular list of the survivors of the massacre which seems to 
have accompanied the narrative is written in pencil and on paper of a different size than 
that used for the narrative proper. The sheet is in such condition that a number of the 
names would be undecipherable but for the light shed by a comparison with the Fort 
Dearborn muster-roll of May 31, 1812. 




(By courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society) 


being held by him with the tribes there assembled to amount of 500 
warriors 179 women & children he after council declared them Hostile 
& that his opinion was that they would interupt us on our route. 
Capt. Wells enquered into the State of the arms, ammunition & Pro- 
visions [of the fort] we had 200 stand of arms [over them] four pieces of 
artillery 6000 Ib of Powder & a sufficient quantity of shot Lead &c. 
3 Months provisions taken in Indian Corn & all this on on the i2th. 
Of August having prior to this expended 3 month Provisions at Least 
in the interval between the yth & the 1 2th of august, exclusive of this 
we had at our command 200 Head of Horned Cattle & 27 barrels of 
Salt after this Survey [Kinzie] Wells demanded of Capt Heald if he 
intended to evacuate, his answer was he would. Kenzie then with 
Lt. Helm cald on Wells and requested him to call on Capt Heald and 
cause the ammunition & arms to be destroyed but Capt Wells insisted 
on Kenzie & Helm to join with him This being done Capt Heald 
Hestitated & observed that it was not sound Pollicy to tell a lie to an 
Indian that he had received a positive order from Gen. Hull to deliver 
up to those Indians all the public Property of whatsoever nature par- 
ticularly to those Indians that would take in the Troops & that he could 
not alter it, & that it might irritate the Indians & be the means of the 
Destruction of his Men Kenzie Volunteered to take the responsi- 
bility on himself provided Capt Heald would consider the Method he 
would point out a safe one. He agreed, Kenzie wrote an order as if 
from Genl. Hull & gave it into Capt Heald it was supposed to answer 
& accordingly was carried into effect. The ammunition & Muskets 
were all destroyed the night of the i3th, the i5th. we evacuated the 
Garrison & about one and [a] half mile from the Garrison we were 
informed by Capt Wells that we were surrounded & the attack by 
the Indians began, about 10 of the Clock Morning the men in a few 
minutes were with the exception of 10 all killed and wounded the 
Ensign and Surgeons Mate were both killed the Capt and myself 
both badly wounded during the battle I fired my piece at an Indean 
and felt confident I killed him or wounded him badly, I immediately 
called to the men to follow me in the pirara or we would be shot down 
before we could load our guns we had preceded under a heavy fire 
about an hundred & 5 paces when I made a wheel to the left to observe 
the motion of the Indeans and avoid being shot in the back which I 
had so far miraculously escaped Just as I wheeled I received a ball 


through my coat pocket which struck the barrel of my gun and fell 
in the lineing of my coat in a few seconds I received a ball in my right 
foot which lamed me considerably the Indeans happened immediately 
to stop firing and nevour more renewed it I immediately ordered the 
men that were able, to load their guns and commence loadin for them 
that were not able, I now discovered captain Heald for the first time 
to my knowledge during the battle, he was coming from towards the 
Indeans and to my great surprise they nevour offered to fire on him 
he came up and ordered the men to form that his intentions were to 
charge the boddy of indeans that were on the bank of the Lake 
where we had just retreated from they appeared to be about 300 
strong we were 27 including all the wounded he advanced about 5 
steps and not atal to my surprise was the first that halted some of the 
men fell back instead of advanceing we then gained the only high piece 
of ground their was near, we now had a little time to reflect and saw 
death in every direction, at this time an interpiter from the In[d]eans 
advanced towards us and called for the Captain who immediately 
went to meet him (the interpiter was a half indean and had lived a 
long time within a few yards of the fort and bound to Mr. Kinzie he 
was allways very friendly with us all) a chief by the name of Blackbird 
advanced to the interpiter [the capt] and met the Capt who after a few 
words conversation delivered him his sword and in a few minutes 
returned to us and informed me he had offered 100 dollars for every 
man that was then liveing, he sayed they were then decideing on what 
to do, they however in a few minutes called him again and talked with 
him some time when he returned and informed me they had agreed 
if I and the men would surrender by laying down our arms they would 
lay down theirs meet us half way shake us by the hand as friends and 
take us back to the fort. I asked him if he knew what they intended 
doing with us then, he sayed they did not informe him he asked me if 
I would surrender, the men were at this time crouding to my back and 
began to beg me not to surrender. I told them not to be uneasy for I 
had already done my best for them and was determined not to sur- 
render unless I saw better prospects of us all being saved and then not 
without [their being] they were willing the Capt asked me the [third] 
second time what I would doo without an answer, I discovered the 
interpiter at this time running from the Indeans towards us and when 
he came in about 20 steps the Capt put the Question the third time 


the Interpiter called out Lieut dont surrender for if you doo they will 
kill you all for their has been no general council held with them yet 
you must wait and I will go back and hold a general council with 
them and return and let you know what they will doo. I told him 
to go for I had no Ideah of surrender he went and collected all the 
indeans and talked for some time, when he returned and told me [if] the 
Indeans sayed if I would surrender as before described they would not 
kill any [of us] and sayed it was his opinion they would doo as they 
sayed for they had already saved Mr. Kinzie and some of the women 
and children this enlivened me and the men for we well knew Mr. 
Kinzie stood higher than anny man in that country among the Indeans 
and he might be the means of saveing us from utter destruction which 
afterwards proved to be the case we then surrendered and after the 
Indeans had fired of our guns they put the Capt myself and some of 
the wounded men on horses and marched us to the bank of the lake 
where the battle first commenced when we arrived at the bank and 
looked down on the sand beach I was struck with horror at the sight 
of men women and children lying naked with principally all their 
heads off, and in passing over the bodies I was confident I saw my 
wife with her head off about two feet from her sholders tears for the 
first time rushed in my eyes but I consoled myself with a firm belief 
that I should soon follow her, I now began to repent that I had ever 
surrendered but it was two late to recall and we had only to look up 
to him who first caused our existence, when we had arrived in half a 
mile of the Fort they halted us made the men sit down form a ring 
round them began to take off their hats and strip the Capt they 
attempted to strip me but were prevented by a chief who stuck close 
to me, I made signes to him that I wanted to drink for the weather 
was very warm he led me off towards the Fort and to my great 
astonishment saw my wife siting among some squaws crying our 
feelings can be better judged than expressed they brought some 
water and directed her to wash and dress my wound which she did 
and bound it up with her pocket handkerchief, they then brought 
up some of the men and tommyhawked [s0we] one of them before us, 
they now took Mrs. Helm across the river (for we were nearly on its 
bank) to Mr. Kinzies, we met again at my Fathers in the state of 
New York she having arrived seven days before me after being sepe- 
rated seven months and one week she was taken in the direction of 


Detroit and I was taken down the Illinois river and was sold to Mr. 
Thomas Forsyth half brother of Mr. Kinzies who a short time after 
effected my escape, this Gentleman was the means of saveing many 
lives on the Warring frontier I was taken on the i$th of August and 
arrived safe among the americans at St. Louis on the i4th. of October. 

Captain Heald through Kenzie sending his two Negroes got put 
on board a Indean boat going to St. Joseph & from that place got to 
Makinac by Lake Michigan in a Birch Canoe The night of the i4th 
the Interpreter and a Chief black patredge waited on Capt Heald 
the Indian gave up his medal & told Heald to beware of the next day 
that the Indians Would destroy him & his men this Heald never com- 
municated to one of his officers there was but Capt Wells that was 
acquainted with it you will observe Sir that I did with Kenzie protest 
against Destroying the arms ammunition and Provisions untill that 
Heald told me positively that he would evacuate at all Hasards 

15 of August we evacuated the Fort the number of soldiers was 
52 privates & musichn 4 officers & Physician 14 Citizens 18 children 
and 9 women, the baggage being in front with the Citizens Women and 
Children I [could not] & on the [Beach] Margin of the Lake we having 
advanced to gain the Prarie I could not see the massacre but Kinzie 
with Doctor Van Vorees being ordered by Capt Heald to take charge 
of the Women & children remained on the Beach & Kinzie since told 
me he was an Eye witness to the Horred scene the Indians came down 
on the baggage waggons for Plunder they Butchered every male 
citizen but Kenzie two women & 12 Children in the most inhuman 
manner Possible opened them cutting off their Heads & taken out 
their Hearts, several of the women were wounded but not dangerously. 

[Endorsed on back] Mr. Helm. Nov. 10, 1815. 

Nathan Heald i. Released. 

Lina T. Helm 2 Do 

Nathan Edson 3 

Elias Mills 4 

Thos. Point Dexter 5 

August Mort 6 Died Natural 

James Latta 7 Killed 

Michael Lynch 8 Killed 

John Suttinfield 9 Killed 

John Smith Senr. 10 Released 

John Smith Junr. 1 1 



Nathan Hurt 
Richard Garner 
Paul Grumo 
James Vanhorn 
Wm Griffiths 
Joseph Bowen 
John Fury 
John Crozier 
John Needs 
Daniel Daugherty 
Dyson Dyer 
John [Prestly] Andrews 
James Starr 
Joseph Noles 
James Corbin 
Fielding Corbin 

Jos. Burns 

1 2 Deserted 

13 Killed 


1 6 Supposed to be a 

17 frenchman and Released 






j Mortally wounded 
( since killed 


[Names of women on reverse page] 

Women taken prisoners. 
Mrs. Heald Released. 

Mrs. Helm Do 

Mrs. Holt 
Mrs. Burns 
Mrs. Leigh 
Mrs. Simmons 
Mrs. Needs 

Killed in the action j 

Mrs. Corbin 

Mrs. Heald's Negro woman ) 

Children yet in Captivity 

Mrs. Leigh's 2 one Since Dead N D 

Mrs. Burns 2 

Mrs. Simmonfs] i 

13 Children Killed during the action 

1 1 Citizens including Capt. Wells. 

John Kinzie taken but not considered as a Prisoner of War 

54 Rank & file left the Garrison 





MICHIGAN, oct. 7, 12. 

SIR, It is already known to you that on Saturday the fifteenth 
day of August last, an order having been given to evacuate fort dear- 
born, an attack was made by the savages of the vicinity on the troops 
and persons appertaining to that garrison, on their march, and at the 
distance of about [after before they had marched] three miles from the 
fort [three of the survivors of that terrible massacre] and the greater 
part of the number barbarously and inhumanly massacred. Three 
of the survivors of that unhappy and terrible disaster having since 
reached this country I have employed some pains to collect the 
number and names of those who were not immediately slain and to 
ascertain whether any hopes might yet be entertained of saving the 
remainder. It is on this subject that I wish to interest your feelings 
and to solicit the benefit of your interposition convinced that you 
[will ever] estimate humanity among the brightest virtues of the soldier. 
[On the policy of associating uncivilized men in the hostile operations of 
civilized powers, or on the rules and limitations on which a savage force 
if employed at all should be regulated, I will say nothing because I am 
impressed with a strong conviction that if any British officer had been 
present on this melancholy occasion the consequences would have been 
extremely different, infinitely less to be regretted.] 

I find, Sir, that the party consisted of ninety-three persons. Of 
these the [regular] military [forces] including officers, non-commissioned 
officers, and privates, amounted to fifty-four. The [militia] citizens 
not acting in a military capacity consisted of twelve. The number 
of women was nine and that of the children eighteen. The whole of 
the citizens were slaughtered, two women, and twelve children. Of 

*' Copied from the original rough draft of the letter in the Detroit Public Library. 
The letter as actually sent differed slightly from the rough draft. The latter is presented 
here with all its erasures and changes. Words and phrases crossed out in the original 
manuscript are printed in italics and placed within brackets. 



the military twenty-six were killed at the time of the attack, and 
accounts have [reached] arrived of at least [four] five of the surviving 
prisoners having been put to death in the course of [that] the same 
night. There will remain then twenty-[/0r]three of the military, 
seven women and six children, whose fate with the exception of the 
three who have come in, and of two others who are known [under- 
stood] to be in safety at St. Joseph's, remains to be yet ascertained. 
Of these [/ will fur] amounting [to] in all to thirty-one persons I 
will furnish you with the names of all that I have been able to 
identify. First. There is one officer a lieutenant, of the name of 
Linah T. Helm, with whom I have had the happiness of a personal 
acquaintance. His father is a [respectable] gentleman of Virginia & 
of the first respectability who has since settled in the state of New 
York. He is an officer of great merit and the most unblemished 
character. The lady of this gentleman a young and [beautiful] 
amiable victim of misfortune was separated from her husband. She 
was delivered up to her father-in-law, [a British subject,] who was 
present, [but] Mrs. Helm was transported into the Indian country a 
hundred miles from the scene of action and has not since been heard 
of at this place. Second. Of six non-commissioned officers four 
survived the action. [Their names are] John Crozier a sergeant, 
Daniel Dougherty a corporal, and one other corporal by the name of 
Bowen. The other is William Griffin a serjeant who is now here. 
[In addition to] With these may be included John Fifer Smith a fifer. 

Third. Of the privates it is said that five, and it is not known 
how many more were put to death in the night after the action. Of 
those who are said to have thus suffered I have only been able to 
collect the names of two Richard Garner and James Latte. Mr. 
Burns a citizen severely wounded was killed by a squaw in the day 
time about an hour after the action. There will thus remain 
to be accounted for of whom I can only give the following names 
Micajah Dennison and John Fury were so badly wounded in the 
action that [perh] little hope was indulged of their recovery. Dyson 
Dyer, William Nelson Hunt, Duncan McCarty, Augustus Mott, 
John Smith Senior, father of John Smith before named as a fifer, 
James Van Horn. 

Fourth. Of the [six] five women whose fate remains to be ascer- 
tained I am enabled to give the names of all. They were Mrs. Burns 


wife to the citizen before mentioned as killed after the attack. Mrs. 
Holt, Mrs. Lee, Mrs. Needs, Mrs. Simmons. Among these women 
were six children saved out of the whole number which was eighteen, 
part of them belonging to the surviving mothers & part to those who 
were slain. [The] As to the means of preserving them I can only 
suggest the sending a special messenger to that quarter charged with 
collecting the prisoners who may survive and transmitting them to 
Michillimackinac. A communication to Capt. Roberts at that place 
may co-operate. 
[The per mis} 
[Endorsed] Chicago prisoners, Oct. 7. 1812. 








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No comprehensive record of the names and fate of those who com- 
posed the company which marched out of Fort Dearborn under Cap- 
tain Heald on the morning of August 15, 1812, has ever been made. 
Here for the first tune, a hundred years after the massacre, an effort 
is made to supply such a record. Such success as has been achieved 
is due to a study, in addition to the sources of information which have 
been used by previous workers in the local historical field, of several 
new sources unknown to or unused by students hitherto. The most 
important of these is the Fort Dearborn muster-roll for May 31, 1812. 
This, together with the list of survivors given by Lieutenant Helm, 
the data left by Captain Heald, 969 and the letter of Judge Woodward 
to Colonel Proctor constitutes the basis of the present study. 

At the outset of the effort to name and account for the members 
of the fatal company, a difficulty is encountered concerning the pre- 
cise number of regular soldiers in Heald's company. In his official 
Report, Heald stated that his force of regulars numbered fifty-four. 
Whether he intended to include himself in this number is not clear. 
The tabular statement, preserved among his papers, of the composi- 
tion of his force and its fate, which gives the total strength of his 
company as fifty-four, exactly one-half of whom were slain, would 
seem to indicate that he did. Yet the latter document disagrees 
with the Report in the number of slain, which the Report gives as 
twenty-six. Turning to Heald's Journal we find the number of 
soldiers slain in the battle placed at twenty-six, and the number of 
survivors at twenty-seven, which would give a total strength of fifty- 

* Aside from the Fort Dearborn muster-roll for May 31, 1812, the papers left by 
Heald which are of chief importance for our subject are the following: the official report 
of the evacuation (Appendix IV); Heald's Journal (Appendix III); the Fort Dearborn 
quarterly returns for the quarter ending June 30, 1812; the monthly return for June, 1812; 
a tabular statement concerning the troops engaged in the massacre and their fate; a sum- 
mary statement concerning the women, and concerning the men who perished in captivity. 
With the exception of the official report all of these papers are in the Draper Collection. 



three. There is reason for believing that the number of regulars 
slain in the battle was in fact twenty-six, but it is manifestly imprac- 
ticable to determine certainly, from the accounts left by Heald, the 
exact strength of his company on the morning of the massacre. 
Heald had, to the end of his life, the garrison muster-roll for May 31, 
1812, and other contemporary records, and these are still preserved. 
An examination of them suggests an explanation of the reason for 
his conflicting statements. The garrison muster-roll for May 31 and 
the monthly return for June each show a strength of fifty-five men, 
while the quarterly return of June 30 and the inspection return of the 
same date show a strength of fifty-four. The first two agree in show- 
ing four officers and fifty-one non-commissioned officers, musicians, 
and privates present; the third shows three officers and fifty-one of 
lesser rank present, and the fourth four officers and fifty of lesser rank. 
There is disagreement, then, between the contemporary returns over 
the number of the garrison at the end of June; yet it is evident that 
its nominal strength at that time was four officers and fifty-one men 
of lesser rank, although one of the fifty-five may possibly have been 
absent. There is no reason to suppose that there was any alteration 
in this number between the end of June and the fifteenth of August. 
Without venturing to say that there is any unquestionable preponder- 
ance of evidence that the strength of Heald's company, including 
himself, on the latter date was fifty-five rather than fifty-four, from 
a consideration of all the factors involved I incline to believe that it 
was. In the calculations and statements that follow, therefore, it is 
to be understood that the total number of regular soldiers involved 
in the massacre is reckoned as fifty-five. 

Including the commander, then, ninety-six persons comprised the 
doomed company which evacuated the fort on the morning of the 
fifteenth of August. These fall logically into several groups, varying 
greatly as to size : John Kinzie, a neutral and non-combatant; Wells, 
the leader of the Miamis; the nine women and eighteen children of 
the company; the twelve Chicago residents composing Heald's 
"militia" company; and finally the fifty-five regulars. The first two 
of these require but little consideration here, as the fortune of each 
has been discussed elsewhere. Wells was slain, while Kinzie passed 
unscathed even through the carnage around the wagons where not 
another white man escaped with his life. 


There is no uncertainty respecting the fate of the women of the 
company. The subject has already been discussed at length and 
only a brief recapitulation need be given here. 

No. Name Fate 

1 Cicely, Mrs. Heald 's negro slave .... Killed in battle 

2 Mrs. Fielding Corbin Killed in battle 

3 Mrs. Heald Returned to civilization 

4 Mrs. Helm Returned to civilization 

5 Mrs. Lee Returned to civilization (Ran- 

somed by Depain and Buisson 
at Chicago) 

6 Mrs. Holt Returned to civilization (Possibly 

the woman ransomed along 
with Mrs. Lee) 

7 Mrs. Burns Returned to civilization 

8 Mrs. Simmons Returned to civilization 

9 Mrs. Needs Died in captivity of exposure and 


Of the eighteen children in the massacre only a very incomplete 
record can be made from the sources that have come to light thus far. 
Neither Mrs. Heald nor Mrs. Helm had children ; each of the remain- 
ing seven women, with the possible exception of Mrs. Corbin, had 
one or more. Mrs. Burns had several, some of whom bore her former 
name of Cooper; probably several belonged to Mrs. Lee. Black 
Cicely had one child, and Mrs. Simmons two. One child each at 
least, and perhaps more, belonged to Mrs. Needs and Mrs. Holt. 
Twelve of the children perished in the massacre, most of them hi one 
wagon at the hands of a single fiend, and six survived it. One of these, 
the Needs child, met perhaps the saddest fate of all the company, 
being tied to a tree by the savages and left behind to die. The other 
five returned with their mothers to civilization. Two of them 
belonged to Mrs. Burns, and one each to Mrs. Simmons, Mrs. Holt, 
and Mrs. Lee. 

Unless additional sources of information shall come to light, the 
names of most of the members of the Chicago "militia" will forever 
remain unknown. All of the twelve men were killed in the combat 
except the leader, Thomas Burns, who, badly wounded, w r as killed 
a short time later by a squaw. One of his followers was his stepson, 


Joseph, or James, Cooper; Lee, the farmer, must have been another 
although there is no positive record to this effect. Of the others the 
names of but one or two can be conjectured even. If the boy who 
escaped from the April massacre was the son of Lee, he doubtless was 
one of the militiamen. Probably Louis Fettle, who lived at Chicago 
from 1803 to 1812 and then disappeared from recorded history, was 
still another. In this connection the conjecture may be hazarded that 
Pierre LeClaire, the half-breed interpreter, was one of the twelve. 
Griffith represents that he deserted at the beginning of the fight, for 
which Griffith at first intended to kill him, but relented when LeClaire 
pleaded that it was the only way to save his life. If the suggestion 
that LeClaire was one of the militiamen be accepted, the statements 
of Heald and others that all of them perished must be regarded as 
erroneous. This view, however, would explain Heald's statement in 
his Journal, otherwise erroneous, that twelve militia, including Wells 

I have reserved for consideration last the most perplexing prob- 
lem, that concerning the regulars of the Fort Dearborn garrison. The 
names of the fifty-five men are preserved in the muster-roll of May 3 1 , 
1812. The only man who attempted to record the names of those 
who survived the battle was Helm, and his list, while incomplete, 
and inaccurate in various respects, furnishes the most convenient 
starting-point for determining the names of those slain in the battle, 
and the subsequent fate of the survivors. Excluding Burns, the 
militiaman, Helm lists the following twenty-seven survivors: 

1. Captain Nathan Heald 15. Private Paul Grummo 

2. Lieutenant Lina T. Helm 16. Private Wm. N. Hunt 

3. Sergeant John Crozier 17. Private James Latta 

4. Sergeant Wm. Griffith 18. Private Michael Lynch 

5. Corporal Joseph Bowen 19. Private Elias Mills 

6. John Smith, fifer 20. Private August Mortt 

7. Private Prestly Andrews 21. Private John Needs 

8. Private Fielding Corbin 22. Private Joseph Noles 

9. Private James Corbin 23. Private Thomas Poindexter 

10. Private Daniel Daugherty 24. Private John Smith 

11. Private Dyson Dyer 25. Private James Starr 

12. Private Nathan Edson 26. Private John Suttenfield 

13. Private John Fury 27. Private James Van Horn 

14. Private Richard Garner 


As far as it goes the accuracy of this list is confirmed by other sources 
of information, except for Andrews and Starr, concerning whose fate 
there is no mention elsewhere. On the other hand Woodward, whose 
information was obtained from Ileald and Griffith, names Denison 
and McCarty, the former badly wounded, among the survivors; the 
report of the nine survivors who arrived at Plattsburg, New York, in 
1814, adds the name of Hugh Logan; while David Kennison, who 
was buried at Chicago with great civic pomp forty years later, evi- 
dently survived the massacre despite the fact that his name does not 
appear in any of the sources. We have, therefore, the names of 
thirty-one survivors, three more than there actually were. Probably 
two of the names in error are those of Andrews and Starr, mentioned 
above; possibly the third is that of Logan, although obviously there 
can be certainty respecting none of the three. A comparison of this 
list with the complete garrison roll discloses the names of those cer- 
tainly slain in the battle, twenty-four in number, as follows: 

1. Surgeon Isaac VanVoorhis 13. Private Nathan A. Hurtt 

2. Ensign George Ronan 14. Private Rhodias Jones 

3. Sergeant Isaac Holt 15. Private Samuel Kilpatrick 

4. Sergeant Otho Hays 16. Private John Kelso 

5. Corporal Thomas Forth 17. Private Jacob Landon 

6. George Burnett, fifer 18. Private Frederick Locker 

7. John Hamilton, drummer 19. Private Peter Miller 

8. Hugh McPherson, drummer 20. Private Wm. Moffett 

9. Private John Allin 21. Private Wm. Prickett 

10. Private George Adams 22. Private Frederick Peterson 

11. Private Asa Campbell 23. Private David Sherror 

12. Private Stephen Draper 24. Private John Simmons 

There were twenty-six slain, however, according to Heald's Report 
and Journal. The two names needed to complete the list are probably 
those of Prestly Andrews and James Starr. 

We have thus reached, although not with absolute certainty in 
every case, the names of twenty-nine survivors and the twenty-six 
who lost their lives in the battle. It remains to follow the fortunes 
of the former and trace out those who perished in captivity and those 
who finally returned to their countrymen. Helm's list is of little 
assistance here, for his account of the fate of the survivors is both 
incomplete and inaccurate. The fate of twelve of the twenty-seven 
on his list is left a blank ; opposite the names of five stands the word 


"released," and opposite two "deserted." In fact, eleven perished 
in captivity and eighteen returned to civilization. It is evident that 
Helm was ignorant of the arrival of the nine Fort Dearborn soldiers 
at Plattsburg in the spring of 1814, and of the news they brought of 
their comrades who had perished in the wilderness. One of the nine 
he records as killed, one as released, and leaves the fate of the others 
blank. Why Hunt and Crozier should have been set down as deserters 
is not apparent. In fact, the former froze to death in captivity, while 
the latter effected his release through the agency of a friendly Indian. 
The most practicable starting-point for determining the names of 
those who perished in captivity and those who escaped from it is 
afforded by Heald's tabular statement. This indicates that twenty- 
seven survived the battle, nine of whom died in captivity, and eighteen 
returned to civilization. Our study, however, has already established 
the names of twenty-nine survivors of the battle. On the assump- 
tion, which there are strong reasons for making, that the two not 
included in Heald's statement perished in captivity, the names of all 
belonging to the latter class, and of all who were restored to freedom, 
can be determined. Elsewhere Heald gives the names of nine who 
died in captivity. They were: 

1. Richard Garner 6. Hugh Logan 

2. Wm. N. Hunt 7. John Needs 

3. James Latta 8. Thomas Poindexter 

4. Michael Lynch 9. John Suttenfield 

5. August Mortt 

The accuracy of this list is confirmed by other sources with respect 
to all except Poindexter, concerning whose fate there is no mention 
elsewhere. The two names wanting to complete the list of those who 
perished in captivity are Micajah Denison and John Fury, who 
according to Woodward were so badly wounded in the battle that 
but little hope was entertained of their recovery. 

With this list of eleven as our basis it is possible to determine with 
reasonable assurance the names of the men who were tortured to 
death the night following the massacre. Forsyth's letter shows that 
Lynch and Suttenfield, badly wounded, were killed by the Indians, 
while en route to the Illinois River. The report of the Plattsburg 
group of survivors accounts for the death of four others. Hunt froze 
to death; Needs died about the middle of January, 1813, probably 


from the hardships of his captivity; Logan and Mortt were toma- 
hawked because of their inability to keep up with their captors. The 
five remaining, Garner, Latta, Denison, Fury, and Poindexter, are 
evidently the men who were tortured to death at Chicago. Con- 
cerning the first two we have the positive statement of Woodward in 
his letter to Proctor. The belief that this was the fate of the others 
rests, obviously, on inference and deduction. 

To determine the names of the eighteen who returned to civiliza- 
tion it is now necessary only to eliminate these eleven names from the 
list of the twenty-nine survivors already given. Concerning the 
return of twelve of the eighteen there are positive records, while that 
of Kennison may safely be inferred from our knowledge of his later 
life and death at Chicago. Of the other five no mention or record 
has been found, and their names are obtained only by the process of 
analysis which has already been gone through. In the list that 
follows these five are given last: 

1. Captain Nathan Heald 10. Private Elias Mills 

2. Lieutenant Lina T. Helm n. Private Joseph Noles 

3. Sergeant Wm. Griffith 12. Private James Van Horn 

4. Corporal Joseph Bowen 13. Private David Kennison 

5. Private James Corbin 14. Sergeant John Crozier 

6. Private Fielding Corbin 15. Private Daniel Daugherty 

7. Private Dyson Dyer 16. Private Duncan McCarty 

8. Private Nathan Edson 17. John Smith, fifer 

9. Private Paul Grummo 18. Private John Smith (father of 

the preceding) 

Although some doubt necessarily attends the conclusions which 
have been reached concerning the fate of some of the members of the 
Fort Dearborn garrison, practical certainty attaches to the conclusion 
reached concerning the great majority, and it is believed that the 
present study is as accurate and complete as can be made with the 
sources of information at present available. The study may properly 
conclude with a tabular recapitulation, embodying the conclusions 
reached as to the names and fate of the regular soldiers of the Fort 
Dearborn garrison on the morning of August 15, 1812. 

1. Nathan Heald Capt. Returned to civilization 

2. Lina T. Helm and Lieut. Returned to civilization 

3 . George Ronan Ensign Killed in battle near the baggage wagons 

4. Isaac Van Voorhis Surgeon's Killed in battle near the baggage wagons 




i. Isaac Holt 


Killed in battle 

2. Otho Hays 


Killed in battle in individual duel with 

an Indian 

3. John Crozier 


Returned to civilization 

4. Wm. Griffith 


Returned to civilization 

i . Thomas Forth 


Killed in battle 

2. Joseph Bowen 


Returned to civilization 

i. George Burnett 


Killed in battle 

2. John Smith 


Returned to civilization 

3. Hugh McPherson 


Killed in battle 

4. John Hamilton 


Killed in battle 

i. John Allin 


Killed in battle 

2. George Adams 


Killed in battle 

3. Prestly Andrews 


Killed in battle 

4. James Corbin 


Returned to civilization 

5. Fielding Corbin 


Returned to civilization 

6. Asa Campbell 


Killed in battle 

7. Dyson Dyer 


Returned to civilization 

8. Stephen Draper 


Killed in battle 

9. Daniel Daugherty 


Returned to civilization 

10. Micajah Denison 


Badly wounded in battle; tortured to 

death the ensuing night 

n. Nathan Edson 


Returned to civilization 

12. John Fury 


Badly wounded in battle; tortured to 

death the ensuing night 

13. Paul Grummo 


Returned to civilization 

14. Richard Garner 


Tortured to death the night after 



15. Wm. N. Hunt 


Frozen to death in captivity 

1 6. Nathan A. Hurtt 


Killed in battle 

17. Rhodias Jones 


Killed in battle 

1 8. David Kennison 


Returned to civilization; died 


Chicago in 1852 

19. Samuel Kilpatrick 


Killed in battle 

20. John Kelso 


Killed in battle 

21. Jacob Landon 


Killed in battle 

22. James Latta 


Tortured to death the night after 



23. Michael Lynch 


Badly wounded; killed by the Indians 

en route to the Illinois River 



24. Hugh Logan Private 

25. Frederick Locker Private 

26. August Mortt Private 

27. Peter Miller Private 

28. Duncan McCarty Private 

29. Wm. Moffett Private 

30. Elias Mills Private 

31. John Needs Private 

32. Joseph Noles Private 

33. Thos. Poindexter Private 

34. Wm. Prickett Private 

35. Frederick Peterson Private 

36. David Sherror Private 

37. John Suttenfield Private 

38. John Smith Private 

39. James Starr Private 

40. John Simmons Private 

41. James Van Horn Private 

Tomahawked in captivity because un- 
able to walk from fatigue 

Killed in battle 

Tomahawked in captivity 

Killed in battle 

Returned to civilization 

Killed in battle 

Returned to civilization 

Died in captivity 

Returned to civilization 

Tortured to death the night after the 

Killed in battle 

Killed in battle 

Killed in battle 

Badly wounded; killed by the Indians 
while en route to the Illinois River 

Returned to civilization 

Killed in battle 

Killed in battle 

Returned to civilization 



Adams, Henry. History of the United States of America, 1801-1817 (New 

York, 1903-4). 9 vols. 

The standard general authority for the period it covers. Vol. VI. 
1811-13, contains an account of the contest with Tecumseh, the opening 
of the War of 1812, and of Hull's campaign and surrender. 

Alvord, Clarence W. "The Conquest of St. Joseph, Michigan, by the 
Spaniards in 1781," Missouri Historical Review, II, 195-210. 
A critical study, presenting a new interpretation of the expedition. 

Condemns sharply the prior study of the same expedition by Mr. E. G. 

Mason, in his Chapters from Illinois History. 

American Fur Company invoices (MS). 

These papers, in the possession of the Detroit Public Library, are 
useful for the light they shed upon the operations of the American Fur 

American State Papers. Documents, legislative and executive, of the 
Congress of the United States, from the first session of the first to the 
third session of the thirteenth Congress inclusive. 
The two volumes devoted to Indian affairs are the ones of principal 

importance to this work. They contain a large mass of material pertaining 

to the relations between the Indians and the United States during the early 

period of our national existence. 

Andreas, A. T. History of Chicago. From the earliest period to the present 

time (Chicago, 1884). 3 vols. 

One of the best of the type of commercial histories compiled for popular 
consumption. Volume I treats of the period covered by this work. 

[Andrews, George H.] Biographical Sketch of James Watson Webb (New 

York, n.d.). Pamphlet. 

Reprinted from the Morning Courier and Enquirer, September 16, 1858. 
A frankly laudatory sketch by an intimate friend and business associate of 
the subject. 

Babcock, Kendric Charles. "The Rise of American Nationality, 1811- 

1819" (New York, 1906). 

Constitutes Vol. XIII of The American Nation: a History (Albert Bush- 
nell Hart, editor). 

Banta, D. D. History of Johnson County, Indiana. From the earliest 
time to the present, with biographical sketches, notes, etc., together 
with a short history of the Northwest, the Indiana Territory, and the 
state of Indiana (Chicago, 1888). 



Barry, Rev. Wm. Transcript of names in John Kinzie's account books 
kept at Chicago from 1804 to 1822 (MS). 

The original account books, four in number, were burned in the destruc- 
tion of the library of the Chicago Historical Society in the Chicago Fire of 
1871. Before the outbreak of the Civil War James Grant Wilson con- 
ceived the project of writing a history of early Chicago and commissioned 
Rev. William Barry, founder and first secretary of the Chicago Historical 
Society, to make for his use a complete transcript of the names in Kinzie's 
account books. Wilson's project never materialized, owing to the dis- 
arrangement of his plans and occupation caused by the outbreak of the 
war. The transcript came into the possession of the Chicago Historical 
Society in 1902. It consists of about fifty closely written pages containing 
about two thousand names, with brief entries frequently concerning the 
commercial transaction in question. It was jealously guarded by Wilson, 
and since by the Historical Society, and has never been accessible to students 
hitherto. It is a unique and valuable source of information for the period 
with which it deals. 

Beaubien family genealogy (MS). 

Compiled by Clarence M. Burton of Detroit. I have used the type- 
written copy presented by him to the Chicago Historical Society. 

Beggs, Rev. S. R. Pages from the Early History of the West and Northwest. 
Embracing reminiscences and incidents of settlement and growth, and 
sketches of the material and religious progress, of the states of Ohio, 
Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri, with especial reference to the history 
of Methodism (Cincinnati, 1868). 

Beggs was a pioneer Methodist preacher of northern Illinois in the early 
thirties. The book contains a vivid account by a participant of the scenes 
of excitement at Chicago and in northern Illinois in 1832 in connection with 
the Black Hawk War. 

[Benton Thomas H.] Thirty Years' View; or, a History of the Working 

of the American Government for Thirty Years, from 1820 to 1850 

By a senator of thirty years (New York, 1854). 2 vols. 

Benton led the fight in the Senate on the government factory system. 
The book contains a brief partisan account of his activities in this connection. 

Black Hawk. Life of Ma-ka-tai-me-she-hia-kiak or Black Hawk .... with 
an account of the course and general history of the late war .... 
(Boston, 1834). 

The work, edited by J. B. Patterson, purports to have been dictated by 
Black Hawk to Antoine Le Clare, a half-breed interpreter. Its trustworthi- 
ness has been called in question, but for the purposes for which it has been 
cited in this work, at least, it seems worthy of credence. 

Blanchard, Rufus. Discovery and Conquests of the Northwest with the History 
of Chicago (Wheaton, 111., 1881). 

A later edition of this work was brought out at Chicago in i8g8 in two 
volumes. It is carelessly and uncritically written, but contains some 


information obtained by the author in interviews with pioneers which is 
not to be had elsewhere. 

Brice, Wallace A. History of Fort Wayne from the Earliest Known Accounts 
of this Point to the Present Period .... (Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1868). 

Carter, Clarence Edwin. Great Britain and the Illinois Country, 1763-1774 
(Washington, 1910). 
One of the prize essays of the American Historical Association. 

Caton, John Dean. Miscellanies (Boston, 1880). 

Contains a description by a sympathetic and highly intelligent observer 
of the Pottawatomies' farewell to Chicago in 1835. 

Charlevoix, P. de. Histoire et description generale de la Nouvelle France, 
avec le journal historique d'un voyage fait par ordre du rot dans I'Amerique 
Septentrionale (Paris, 1744). 6 vols. 

One of the best of the seventeenth-century accounts of New France. 
The first four volumes comprise the Histoire . . . . de la Nouvelle France; 
the last two constitute the journal and bear the separate title Journal 
d'un voyage fait par ordre du Roi dans I'Amerique Septentrionale; addresse 
a Madame la Duchesse de Lesdiguieres. The Histoire has been translated 
into English by John G. Shea (q.v.) and there are two English editions of 
the Journal. 

Charlevoix, Father. Letters to the Duchess of Lesdiguieres; Giving an Account 
of a Voyage to Canada and Travels through Thai Vast Country, and Louisi- 
ana, to the Gulf of Mexico. Undertaken by order of the present king 
of France (London, 1763). 

Chicago Historical Society. Collections (Chicago, 1882-1910), Vols. I-IX. 
Unlike the usual series of collections of historical societies, the contents 
of each of these volumes pertain in most cases to a single subject. Those 
which have been of use in the preparation of this work will be cited under 
their separate titles. 

Chittenden, Hiram Martin. The American Fur Trade of the Far West. 
A history of the pioneer trading posts and early fur compa