History of La Salle County, Illinois

The volume here given to the public is the outgrowth of a long cherished feeling of the citizens of La Salle County, often publicly expressed, that the memories of the pioneer settlers should be preserved.That the circumstances with surrounded those who reclaimed the wildness of uncultivated nature, who converted an unproductive waste into fruitful fields, and the rude theatre of savage life to the fit abode of Christian civilization, and the seat of thousands of happy homes, should be truthfully portrayed and handed down for the contemplation of posterity.

To do this, after a lapse of half a century from the time the rude and simple red men retired from the scene, and the incoming race commenced the herculean task they have so well performed, is beset with difficulties that one inexperienced can not appreciate.

The early pioneers have mostly passed away. Twenty years ago many could have told the tale of their toils, whose lips are now forever sealed, and tradition alone hands down to us the story of their experiences.

Human memory is treacherous, and forty revolving years dim and clothe with uncertainty the history told by the third generation. A few of the old pioneers remain, and to them the author has appealed for the facts, and to them he has submitted the statements herein contained for correction; and while he can not flatter himself that no errors have crept in, but is of the opinion it would be impossible to exclude them; yet that the work is substantially correct he verily believes, having spared no effort to make it so. The work was undertaken at the solicitation of the Old Settlers' Association, and rather as a labor of love than with the idea of pecuniary profit.


Table of Contents

Topography 9
Economic Geology 25
Mound Builders 34
French Explorations and Settlements 49
Indian History 57
Early Explorations 73
First Settlement of County 80
Winnebago War 80
Organization of La Salle County 85
Black Hawk War, 1831 88
Black Hawk War, 1832 89
Massacre at Indian Creek 94
Situation at the Close of the War 109
Shabona 110
Indian Character and Customs 116
Personal Narratives 119
Claims and First Improvements 129
Amusements 151
Sickness 155
Hard Winter of 1838 160
Nativity of Customs, Provincialisms, etc 165
Prairie Grasses 171
Hard Times 178
Embarrassment of the State 181
Illinois and Michigan Canal 187
Bandits of the Prairie 192
Irish Rebellion 199
Criminal Record 200
La Salle and Dixon Railroad 203
Recovering from Hard Times 205
Frink and Walker Line of Stages 206
Mexican War 207
Division of the County 207
New Constitution and Two Mill Tax 208
First Court House and Jail 209
Present Court House 209
Illinois Central and Other Railroads 210
Amount Paid to the State 210
County Officers



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The most prominent feature of the topography of the county is the Illinois river, which intersects the county near the centre, running nearly due west; but after leaving the county, its course is southwest to its mouth. The Illinois is a sluggish stream, having about twenty-eight feet fall in a distance of nearly 200 miles, being less than the distance allowed in canal navigation, but in La Salle County there are two rapids, one at Marseilles, and one near Starved Rock, each capable of furnishing an immense water power. The river is deep enough for good sized boats except at the rapids. There was considerable steamboat traffic between Ottawa and St. Louis before the canal was built, but since its completion, terminating at La Salle, the boats seldom acend higher than that place.