The History of Jo Daviess County, Illinois

Nearly sixty years have come and gone since white men came to occupy and develop the rich mineral and agricultural lands of the Fever River country. These years were full of changes and of history, and had some of the vigorous minds and ready pens of the early settlers been directed to the keeping of a chronological journal or diary of events, to write a history of the country now would be a comparatively easy task. In the absence of such records, the magnitude of the undertaking is very materially increased, and rendered still more intricate and difficult by reason of the absence of nearly all the pioneer fathers and mothers who came here more than half a century ago. Of those who came here in pursuit of fortunes and homes, between 1821 and 1827, and who founded the City of Galena, only a very few are left to greet those who now come to write the history of their county a county second to none in point of historic interest. The struggles, changes and vicissitudes that fifty years evoke are as trying to the minds as to the bodies of men. Physical and mental strength waste away together beneath accumulating years, and the memory of names, dates and important events become buried in the confusion brought by time and its restless, unceasing changes. Circumstances that were fresh in memory ten and twenty years after their occurrence, are almost, if not entirely, forgotten when fifty years have gone, and if not entirely lost from the mind, they are so nearly so that, when recalled by one seeking to preserve them, their recollection comes slowly back, more like the memory of a midnight dream than of an actual occurrence in which they were partial, if not active, participants. The footprint of time leaves its impressions and destroying agencies upon every thing, and hence it would be unreasonable to suppose that the annals, incidents and happenings of more than fifty years in a community like that whose history we have attempted to write, could be preserved intact and unbroken.

The passage of several years was recorded on the pages of time after the first settlement was made at Galena by white men, before any written records of a public nature were made. The first and only record we were able to find was a poll book of an election hold in Fever River Precinct, Peoria County, August 7, 1826 one year previous to the organization of Jo Daviess County and this record, with the names of 202 voters, was procured from the archives of the County Clerk's office at Peoria. With this single exception the gentlemen entrusted with the duty of writing this history were forced to depend upon the memory and intelligence of the few surviving pioneers for a very large share of facts and information herein presented, until after the organization of the County and the first session of the County Commissioners Court, in June, 1827. For reasons already indicated, it is not to be expected that this volume will be entirely accurate in all its details of names, dates, etc., or that it will be so perfect as to be above and beyond criticism, for the book is yet to be written and printed that can justly claim the meed of perfection; but it is the publishers' hope, as it is their belief, that will be found measurably correct and generally accurate and reliable. Industrious and studied care has been exercised to make it a standard book of reference, as well as a book of interest to the general reader.

In the absence of written records, recourse was had to the minds of such of the " Old Settlers " as have been spared to see the wilds of 1821-'5 reduced from Indian hunting grounds and camping places to the abode of thrift, wealth, intelligence, refinement schools, colleges, churches and cities. In seeking to supply such missing links by personal interviews, different individuals would render different and conflicting, although honest and sincere, accounts of the same events and circumstances. To sift these statements and arrive at the most reasonable and tangible conclusions, was a delicate task, but a task we sought to discharge with the single purpose of writing of incidents as they actually transpired. If in such a multiplicity of names, dates, etc., some errors are not detected, it will be strange, indeed. But, such as it is, our offering is completed, and it only remains for us to acknowledge our obligations to the gentlemen named below for the valuable information furnished by them, without which this history of Jo Daviess County would not be so nearly perfect as it is.


Table of Contents


History Northwest Territory 19
History of Illinois 109
History of Jo Daviess Co. 221
History of Galena 448
History of Towns



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After La Salle's return from the discovery of the Ohio River (see the narrative elsewhere), he established himself again among the French trading posts in Canada. Here he mused long upon the pet project of those ages a short way to China and the East, and was busily planning an expedition up the great lakes, and so across the continent to the Pacific, when Marquette returned from the Mississippi. At once the vigorous mind of LaSalle received from his and his companions' stories the idea that by following the Great River northward, or by turning up some of the numerous western tributaries, the object could easily be gained. He applied to Frontenac, Governor General of Canada, and laid before him the plan, dim but gigantic. Frontenac entered warmly into his plans, and saw that LaSalle's idea to connect the great lakes by a chain of forts with the Gulf of Mexico would bind the country so wonderfully together, give unmeasured power to France, and glory to himself, under whose administration he earnestly hoped all would be realized.