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.
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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.