Early Lee County, Illinois

This is not an effort to write a history of any man or any locality. The sole purpose of the work is the collection and preservation of the scarce and almost inaccessible evidence of some of the men and events prominent in the early days of Lee County. It was not prepared to sustain any theory or tradition, but every effort within my power has been made to learn all the facts concerning these men and events and state them correctly.

Some old traditions have been shattered, but they were not sustained by the facts, and many of them had no foundation except the loose talk of persons who were ignorant of the matters of which they spoke. Some of my old beliefs, held and cherished since early childhood, have been dispelled, but they were founded upon misinformation.

Reference is made to some public record, report or document whenever one could be found. When such evidence could not be had, my resort was to newspapers, private letters or records or books written or published about that time, in the belief that such contemporaneous statements are more likely to be free from error than those made years afterwards. In some instances the private records and the public records differ, and the latter are followed, the entries being contemporaneous with the event. Every statement of fact is based on evidence of one of the kinds mentioned, though references have been omitted in some places.

All Indian words appearing on John Dixon's account books are given in the form used there. Other Indian words are given as shown in the Eighteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, except when in quotations.


Table of Contents

La Sallier 1
Stephen Mack 11
Fur Trade at Grand Detour 31
Joseph Ogee and his Ferry 40
Old Account Books 69
Kinzies at Dixon 78
Old Central Railroad 82
John Dixon v. Oron Hamlin 95
Dixon Hotel Company 103
Illinois and Bock River R. R. Co 105
First Baptist Church 111
Lee County's First Physician 112
Early Politics 114
Amboy 124
Genesis of Lee County 130


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In 1835, Joseph Crawford found some decaying logs and other ruins of an old habitation at the Grand Detour on the bank of Franklin Creek, about thirty-five rods from Rock river. There was plainly visible an excavation as though made for use as a cellar, and other evidences of the existence, at an earlier date, of a log cabin.

On the authority of a statement made to him by Gurdon S. Hubbard, Eufus Blanchard told the writer that one La Sallier, a Frenchman, built a trading post on the south side of the river, near Grand Detour, in 1822, and occupied it for some time. The location is shown on Blanchard 's Historical Map of Illinois. The writer called Mr. Crawford's attention to this statement of Blanchard, and it was then that Mr. Crawford told me of his discovery.