History of Lee County, Illinois
In presenting the History of Lee County to the public the editors and publishers have had in view the preservation of certain valuable historical facts and information which without concentrated effort would not have been obtained, but with the passing away of the old pioneers, the failure of memory, and the loss of public records and private diaries, would soon have been lost. This locality being comparatively new, we flatter ourselves that, with the zeal and industry displayed by our general and local historians, we have succeeded in rescuing from the fading years almost every scrap of history worthy of preservation. Doubtless the work is, in some respects, imperfect; — we do not present it as a model literary effort, but in that which goes to make up a valuable book of reference for the present reader and future historian, we assure our patrons that neither money nor time has been spared in the accomplishment of the work. Perhaps some errors will be found. With treacherous memories, personal, political and sectarian prejudices and preferences to contend against, it would be almost a miracle if no mistakes were made. We hope that even these defects, which may be found to exist, may be made available in so far as they may provoke discussion and call attention to corrections and additions necessary to perfect history.
List of Portraits.
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In sketching the history of Lee county we must take the reader back to the early days of the northern part of the State of Illinois, embraced in the great territory lying northwest of the Ohio river. This territory, embracing northern Illinois, was discovered by Jacques Marquette, and Louis Joliet in 1673. Marquette was a French Jesuit missionary, and Joliet was a Quebec fur-trader. These men had penetrated the wilderness of Canada to the upper lakes, each engaged in his appropriate occupation. The French, missionary, while at La Pointe, received information through the Illinois tribes who had been driven by the Iroquois from their hunting grounds on the shores of Lake Michigan to a region thirty days' journey to the west, that there existed a "great river " flowing through grassy plains on which grazed countless herds of buffaloes. The same information had been received by Dablon and AUouez, two missionaries, who were exploring Wisconsin from the Miamis and Maskoutens. This information resulted in the appointment, by the governor of Canada, of Joliet to explore the "Great River. " Pierre Marquette was chosen to accompany him, "for in those days religion and commerce went hand in hand. " Joliet fitted out the expedition, which consisted of "two canoes and five voyageurs, and a supply of corn and smoked meat; and May 27, 1673, the little band left St. Ignace for their perilous voyage through an unknown country, preoccupied by wild beasts, reptiles, and hostile savages. " Coasting to the head of Green Bay, they "ascended the Fox river; crossed Lake Winnebago, and followed up the quiet and tortuous stream beyond the portage; " launched their canoes in the waters of the Wisconsin, and without their Indian guides they swept down this stream until they caught sight of the hills which bound the valley of the "Great River, " and at nightfall landed, to eat their evening repast on the banks of the broad Mississippi, for which they launched their canoes one month before. They floated down the mighty current to the Arkansas, where they were compelled to return because of the hostility of the Indians, who on the lower Mississippi were furnished with rifles by the Spaniards.