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Chapter 9

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Old Fort Crawford
and the Frontier

by
Bruce E. Mahan

The State Historical Society of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa, 1926

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 11

This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

p140 X
Indian Affairs and Treaties 1829‑1831

Although Prairie du Chien had long been a natural center of trade and intercourse for Indian tribes of the Upper Mississippi and had been the scene of the Great Council of 1825 as well as the center of alarm in the Winnebago outbreak of 1827, no other years were so filled with important Indian affairs and treaties as the interval from 1829 to 1831. Two treaties and as many bloody massacres were noteworthy features in the annals of Indian relations near old Fort Crawford during these three years.365

To this straggling frontier village with its nondescript population of Indians, Frenchmen, half-breeds, and a few American settlers came Joseph Montfort Street as Indian agent in the fall of 1827. Street had read law in the office of Henry Clay of Kentucky and had practiced for a time in Kentucky and Tennessee. Then as editor of The Western World at Frankfort he had engaged in the gladiatorial arena of politics for a time. Forsaking journalism he engaged in mercantile pursuits. From Kentucky Street moved to Shawneetown in the Territory of Illinois, where he was clerk of the court for over sixteen years, and also served as postmaster and recorder of deeds for some time. Finding it increasingly difficult to support his large family he importuned his friends in Washington for a government position. In August, 1827, he received a letter from James Barbour, Secretary of War, notifying him of his appointment to the office of w p141Indian agent for the Winnebago at Prairie du Chien, a position made vacant by the accidental death of the veteran agent, Nicolas Boilvin, during the early summer of that year. Street entered upon his duties in November, 1827, shortly after the conclusion of the Winnebago outbreak. John Marsh, who had been sub‑agent under Boilvin, continued in the same capacity under the new agent.366

That same month in a letter to his friend, Governor Ninian Edwards of Illinois, Street described his entrance upon his new duties and traced the causes of the recent outbreak. He asked for Edwards's support in his attempt to have himself appointed as one of the commissioners in the proposed council with the Winnebago about the lands in the lead region. He told of his first meeting with the Indian chiefs of his agency and described the impression made by his grave demeanor and portly look. The officers at Fort Crawford had been very friendly, and Major Fowle had sent workmen to run a partition across the council chamber. In another letter to Edwards dated December 28, 1827, Street complained that only one mail had been received from below since the first of November, and that the freezing of the river had cut Prairie du Chien off from any intercourse with the civilized world. To remedy this situation he proposed the establishment of a regular mail route from Prairie du Chien to Edwardsville. Street felt considerable apprehension over the attitude of the Winnebago toward the confinement of Red Bird and his accomplices. The chief, however, who had visited him had professed their friendship but anxiously inquired as to when their Great Father would "settle the line and mark it between their country and the whites and the mines." A third letter dated p142January 1, 1828, repeated Street's request for Edwards to assist him in securing the appointment as one of the commissioners to treat with the Winnebago the following summer. "I am here", he wrote, "and it w'd be a little mortifying if some person was sent here, over my head, to treat with these Indians."367

Street's hopes, however, to be one of the commissioners were never realized for Governor Lewis Cass and Colonel Pierre Menard received the appointment. Owing to the lateness of the season when the commissioners received their instructions and the difficulty of assembling the Indians at Green Bay so late in the summer, they closed their mission on August 25th with an agreement to the effect that for the present the whites should occupy the country where the mines were located, but a treaty would be made the next year, 1829, with a view to the purchase of the mineral lands of the Indians. In the meantime no white person should cross the boundary line as described in this agreement into new territory to dig for lead ore, but if anyone did so trespass the Indians should not injure the trespasser but the United States would pay the Indians for the damage done. Certain ferries would be established over the Rock River in the Indian country, and furthermore the Indians would be paid twenty thousand dollars at the time and place of the next treaty for trespasses already committed upon their land by the miners.368

Although Street was greeted cordially by the traders at Prairie du Chien and especially so by Joseph Rolette and Hercules L. Dousman, local representatives of the American Fur Company, he soon incurred their hostility by his attempts to improve the conditions of the Indians. The traders resented any interference with the red men p143that would threaten their own control of their habits and customs. Within a few hours after the Winnebago had received their annuities at Prairie du Chien the traders would have all their money and the Indians in exchange would have only a small portion of their annuities in goods while the major portion had been squandered for whisky. When Street endeavored to improve this situation the traders used every means possible to secure his removal, but with Major Kearny at Prairie du Chien and General Clark at St. Louis supporting him and with his many friends in Washington, the traders were unable to effect anything while John Quincy Adams was president. With the election of Andrew Jackson in 1828 and his inauguration in 1829, efforts of the traders and their friends to oust Street continued, but Jackson had ridden circuit with Street in Kentucky, and although the latter was a Whig, the President refused to put him out of office.369

During the latter part of the winter of 1828‑1829 Agent Street and Major Kearny endeavored to put a stop to individuals going upon the Indian land and obtaining lumber. Both the commandant and the Indian agent considered this a violation of United States laws and, moreover, the Indians were bitterly complaining of this trespass. When word came to Street that Daniel Whitney of Green Bay with a party of Stockbridge Indians had gone upon Winnebago land he sent Sub‑agent Marsh to Major Twiggs at Fort Winnebago with a request to remove the trespassers with troops if necessary. This was done and Whitney commenced suit against Street and Twiggs for damages. After causing them much annoyance the suit was dismissed.370 But in a similar attempt to stop Jean Brunet from cutting timber and making p144lumber on Indian land above Prairie du Chien, Street and Kearny were less fortunate. Brunet and his party were stopped and the lumber seized by Major Kearny for use in the new Fort Crawford. Thereupon Brunet sued Street and Kearny for damages and in due time won his case in the court of Judge James D. Doty, formerly of Prairie du Chien. Eventually Congress passed a bill to relieve Street and Kearny but the amount was only sufficient to pay judgment and costs. The defendants were compelled to pay their attorney's fees out of their own means. One of the lawyers employed by the defendants was Stephen Hempstead, later Governor of Iowa.371

The agreement with the Winnebago made by Cass and Menard at Green Bay in the late summer of 1828 was ratified by the senate on January 7, 1829. Congress likewise passed an act appropriating $20,000 to purchase goods for the Indians in accordance with a clause in the agreement, but could not agree on an appropriation to defray the expenses of the forthcoming treaty. Shortly after Jackson became president on March 4, 1829, he appointed General John McNeil and Colonel Pierre Menard commissioners to carry out the provisions of the agreement of the previous summer.372

In a letter dated March 30, 1829, John H. Eaton, Secretary of War, informed General McNeil and Colonel Menard that their principal task was to extinguish the Indian title to certain mineral lands claimed by the Winnebago, Pottawattamie, Ottawa, and Chippewa Indians east of the Mississippi and south of the Wisconsin. He recommended that the council should be held on the Iowa side of the Mississippi opposite Rock Island, a place contiguous to a military post which would save the necessity p145of detailing an escort, and also where the commissioners could guard the council against the introduction of spirituous liquors.373 Rock Island, itself, was selected as the site for the impending council, but the choice raised a storm of protest from the Winnebago who wanted the meeting to be held at Prairie du Chien. Naw Kaw, a noted Winnebago chief, voiced his protest to President Jackson in no uncertain terms. "I am not pleased with this arrangement", he said, "and if the Treaty should be there neither myself, nor any principal men of our Nation will be able to attend it." This protest together with the fact that the amount of surplus provisions at Fort Crawford was far in excess of the quantity at Fort Armstrong led the Secretary of War to direct the commissioners to hold the council at Prairie du Chien.374

In May, 1829, Caleb Atwater of Ohio was added to the commission and leaving his home immediately after receiving his instructions he took passage on a steamboat to St. Louis to join McNeil and Menard. Arriving at St. Louis on June 12th he directed the purchase of goods as presents for the Indians and hastened preparations for the impending council. Charles S. Hempstead was selected as secretary for the commission.375

When the Illinois Indians learned that the place of the meeting had been transferred from Rock Island to Prairie du Chien they raised as vigorous a protest as the Winnebago had made earlier. "See‑na-cha‑wame", chief of the united tribes of Illinois Indians, voiced the feelings of his people to Peter Menard, Indian agent at Peoria, by saying they were too poor to go that far. "When you asked us to go to Rock Island we were glad", he told the agent, but insisted that he and his people could not go to Prairie du Chien. As soon as the commissioners heard p146of the attitude of the Illinois Indians they sent Jacques Metté as special messenger to induce them to change their minds. He was instructed to visit Peter Menard at Peoria, Henry Gratiot at Gratiot's Grove, and Henry Dodge on the Wisconsin, and to enlist their coöperation in giving the Indians assistance in reaching Prairie du Chien. Metté succeeded in persuading many Indians who had objected to the change of site to go to the conference.376

The commissioners left St. Louis on June 30, 1829, and proceeded up stream without any incidents of note until Keokuk at the foot of the Lower Rapids was reached. Due to the low stage of the water it was necessary to stop here to lighter the cargo over the Rapids. The white painted walls of Fort Edwards some three miles distant on the Illinois made a handsome picture. Atwater described Keokuk as a small place containing perhaps twenty families. The American Fur Company had a store there, and a tavern furnished accommodations for guests. Many Indians were fishing; and at night their lights on the Rapids darting about like fireflies, the constant roaring of the waters, an occasional Indian yell, the glowing flames of their camp-fires on shore, "and the boisterous mirth of the people at the doggery" attracted the attention of the passengers on the steamboat.377 After waiting seven days while the river men were getting the public stores over the Rapids the commissioners proceeded up stream to Rock Island on another steamboat. When Fort Armstrong was reached General McNeil visited the fort while Colonel Menard and Atwater went to the house of Indian Agent Thomas Forsyth where they were met by the Winnebago Prophet and some two hundred of his nation. Five Indian orators p147in succession harangued the commissioners complaining bitterly of neglect for they had been at Rock Island for some time without being fed as they expected — they wanted flour, hog meat, and whisky. Menard and Atwater explained the cause of their delayed appearance. The Indians then objected to the change of place of holding the council and refused to go to Prairie du Chien. The reason for the change was explained to the Indians, and the commissioners purchased from George Davenport, the local representative of the American Fur Company, eleven barrels of flour, several barrels of pork, two hundred pipes, and plenty of tobacco for the dissatisfied tribesmen. Thereupon they agreed to accompany Agent Forsyth to the council.378

Leaving Rock Island the next morning the party negotiated the Upper Rapids without mishap and proceeded to Galena. Here they learned that a large body of Indians had already assembled at Prairie du Chien and were awaiting the arrival of the commissioners. Realizing the necessity of supplying the Indians with food, and knowing that some time would elapse before their supplies would arrive, the commissioners purchased five hundred pounds of corn at Galena, and loading as much of it on board as possible, they proceeded to their destination.379

On the 15th of July the steamboat arrived in sight of Prairie du Chien. As soon as the approaching steamer was discovered by the Indians a few miles below Fort Crawford they fired some fifteen hundred rifles into the air to honor the representatives of the Great Father. To the extreme mortification and regret of the commissioners it was discovered that the powder on board had become wet and no reply could be made to the salute. The p148Indians, some on foot and others on horseback, rushed furiously along the Prairie to be present when the boat landed. Hundreds of tribesmen pressed about the commissioners in an apparently friendly greeting. Dr. Alexander Wolcott with his Chippewa, Ottawa, and Pottawattamie Indians was there from Chicago, and John H. Kinzie, the sub‑agent for the Winnebago at the Portage, had arrived with his delegation. Indeed, all the Indians with whom they had been sent to treat were represented at the Prairie and were anxious for the council to begin. On the day after their arrival Atwater, in company with Agent Street and the other agents and sub‑agents present, met the principal chiefs of the Winnebago and impressed upon them the necessity of keeping their young men under subjection, and arranged the method of procedure for the council. This conference occupied the entire afternoon.380

General McNeil and the officers at the fort supervised the erection of a council shade near old Fort Crawford, and in about three days the commissioners were ready to hold a public council. A delay of two more days was caused by Dr. Wolcott's Indians who claimed that they could not meet in public council until one of their number who had been murdered was buried, and he could not be buried, they finally said, until the relatives of the deceased had received a horse in compensation for his death. Understanding the difficulty at last, "the commissioners gave the horse, the deceased was buried, and the Indians agreed to meet in council the next day."

Finally everything was in readiness for the opening of the conference. Not since the Great Council of 1825 had such a scene been enacted on the Upper Mississippi frontier. The commissioners sat on a raised bench facing p149the Indian chiefs; on each side of them were the officers of Fort Crawford in full dress uniform; while the soldiers in their best attire were drawn up on the sides of the council shade. The ladies belonging to the officers' families, and the best families of the Prairie were seated directly behind the commissioners where they could see all that happened and hear everything that was said. Behind the semi-circle of Indian chiefs, sat the men, women, and children of the Winnebago, Pottawattamie, Chippewa, Ottawa, Sioux, Sauk and Foxes, and Menominee to the number of thousands. They listened "in breathless and death like silence" to every word that was said. When the proposition to sell their land to their Great Father had been delivered to them they asked for a copy of it in writing. Then the council adjourned to the next day. The Chippewa seemed willing to sell, but the Winnebago demanded the $20,000 worth of goods that had been promised to them. "Wipe out your debt", they said, "before you run in debt again to us."381

The goods, owing to the low stage of the river, had not yet arrived, and the Indians believed that the commissioners did not intend to fulfil the agreement of the year before. Indeed, some of the Winnebago threatened to "use a little switch" on them, in other words, to assassinate everyone outside the fort. But the timely arrival of some two hundred friendly Sauk and Foxes under Keokuk and Morgan who began their war dance for the United States stopped the threats of the Winnebago. Keokuk brought with him two deserters from the garrison whom he had captured on his way up the Mississippi, and the presence of these friendly allies gave new courage to the commissioners. The belated arrival of the goods and provisions, too, silenced the complaining Indians.382

p150 On one day when no session of the council was held, the young men of the Winnebago, Chippewa, Ottawa, and Pottawattamie requested the commissioners to deliver to them two live steers instead of the beef of two oxen as had been the case every day previously. They wanted to hunt the cattle as they would bison. The request was granted and early in the morning some sixty or seventy young Indians on horseback, armed with bows and arrows, started the oxen about three miles below Fort Crawford and pursued them over the Prairie toward Prairie du Chien. With the oxen running at full speed, sometimes piteously bawling, and the Indians painted in their best manner riding furiously on their ponies in pursuit, aiming to strike the animals on the side just back of the fore shoulder, the whole spectacle resembled a buffalo hunt. Sometimes the pursuers would cluster together as they followed the cattle, and again they would spread out in fan‑like formation over the Prairie. Many spectators from the fort and village watched the sport from places that commanded a good view of the undulating Prairie now covered with a profusion of wild flowers. The oxen were not killed until they had run nearly three miles. The Indians were highly gratified at the sport allowed them and the white people enjoyed the exhibition no less.383

Now the task of the commissioners was completed in short order. On the 29th of July a treaty was concluded with the Chippewa, Ottawa, and Pottawattamie; and on August first another was completed with the Winnebago. By these treaties there were added some 8,000,000 acres to the public domain through purchase. The western boundary of the three tracts ceded extended from the p151upper end of Rock Island to the mouth of the Wisconsin. A strip was also secured along the Wisconsin and Fox Rivers so as to give a passage across the country from the Mississippi to Lake Michigan. The south line of the purchases ran from Rock Island to Lake Michigan. Certain reservations for the Indians were retained within this area and they were allowed to hunt upon the land until it was needed for settlement. In exchange for this immense tract the Indians were to be given a stipulated amount of money in goods plus annuities for a period of years. The Indians were loaded down with the huge stock of goods which the commissioners had brought, and with the firing of a cannon at the fort as a parting salute the tribesmen departed band by band. The question of the ownership and settlement of the lead mining region below the Wisconsin seemed to be settled.384

After the departure of the Chippewa, Ottawa, Pottawattamie, and Winnebago from Prairie du Chien the commissioners held a conference with the Sauk and Foxes to ascertain if they would sell their mineral lands in Iowa, and if so, upon what terms. Keokuk complained that certain white men had settled upon the Indian land along the Mississippi to supply persons navigating the river with poultry, butter, eggs, and milk, and cordwood for steamboats. Moreover, he said the United States had cultivated gardens for the garrison at Fort Crawford and built a sawmill on their lands across the river. Making them liberal presents the commissioners deferred the whole subject for consideration, and attempted to adjust their grievances. Some days later the Indians departed in a friendly manner and descended the river to their homes.385

But Indian relations in the region about Prairie du p152Chien were far from being settled. Early in 1830 a party of Sauk and Fox Indians killed some Sioux rivals near the head of Cedar River in Iowa. Captain Richard B. Mason was dispatched from Fort Crawford to the scene of the disturbance with a body of troops, but when they arrived at the place of the encounter, the Indians had fled and everything was quiet. There was nothing to do but return to the fort.386

Later in the spring a conference was arranged by Agent Street of the Winnebago and Sub‑agent Wynkoop Warner of the Sauk and Foxes for representatives of these tribes to meet at Prairie du Chien to settle their difficulties in a friendly council.387

It is generally believed that Sub‑agent John Marsh inadvertently gave the Sioux information of the coming of the Sauk and Foxes, and on the day when the latter were due to arrive, a war party of Sioux came to Prairie du Chien and joined forces with some Menominee warriors already there. Together they proceeded down the Mississippi to the lower end of the Prairie du Pierreaux, some twelve or fifteen miles below Prairie du Chien, where a narrow channel of the Mississippi ran close to the end of the Prairie. Hiding themselves among the trees, grass, and bushes they lay in ambush for their enemy. Between sunset and dark the unsuspecting Sauk and Foxes arrived and prepared to encamp. The party, it is said, consisted of old Chief Kettle, a squaw, a boy about fourteen years old, and a number of warriors all from the region of Dubuque's Mines. After the Indians had landed, and were carrying their goods on shore, leaving their guns and war clubs still in the canoes, the hidden warriors bounded to their feet "with a horrible yell, and fired a murderous volley at the surprised p153party." All fell except one brave and the boy, who putting off in a canoe carried word of the massacre to their village, which was immediately abandoned in fear of an attack, and the inhabitants fled to Rock Island. The victims of the ambuscade were horribly mutilated, and parts of their bodies were taken as trophies by the victors. On the next day the victorious Sioux and Menominee paraded the streets of Prairie du Chien, dancing their scalp-dance, and displaying on poles the scalps and dismembered fragments of their victims. After roasting and eating the heart of the murdered chief to inspire them with courage the warriors left Prairie du Chien and ascended the Mississippi unmolested.388

To put an end to such clashes the authorities at Washington determined to hold another general council with the Indians at Prairie du Chien. General William Clark of St. Louis, Superintendent of Indian affairs, and Colonel Willoughby Morgan, who had temporarily relieved Lieutenant Colonel Zachary Taylor as commandant of Fort Crawford, were selected as commissioners. Jonathan L. Bean and General Clark's son, William, were sent to summon deputations from the Indians along the Missouri River. The Otoe and Omaha agreed to send delegations but the Yankton Sioux, although starving and dying in their camps, refused to go because they feared further butchering by the Sauk and Foxes who recently had scalped twelve of their women. The Omaha deputations accompanied by Bean and Clark set out overland across the northern Iowa wilderness to Prairie du Chien.389

General Clark left St. Louis by steamboat in June, 1830, en route for the council ground. Although the Sauk and Foxes, with the recent murder of their kinsmen fresh p154in mind, had stubbornly refused to attend the peace negotiations, after Clark had met them at Rock Island and assuaged their graft with a liberal supply of presents to the friends and relatives of the victims, they agreed to go with him up the river. Clark arrived at Prairie du Chien on July first accompanied by deputations of Otoe, Ioway, Sauk and Foxes. Agent Lawrence Taliaferro arrived by steamboat on July 5th, saying that some two hundred Sioux were on their way down the river but had become alarmed at a possible clash with their ancient enemies. A detachment of soldiers from Fort Crawford left immediately on the steamboat to escort the Sioux to the council. Clark's son and Sub‑agent Bean were already on hand with their deputation from the Missouri River.390

Sessions of the council began on July 7th and within three days the tribes represented had agreed to bury the tomahawk. On July 15th, the treaty was concluded which established a neutral zone forty miles wide between the Sioux on the north and the Sauk and Foxes on the south in the Iowa country. Each tribe agreed to cede a strip twenty miles wide on each side of the boundary line between their lands established by the Treaty of 1825. At the same time and place the commissioners acquired from the Otoe, Missouri, and Omaha, and from other tribes with claims to this region, all the lands lying on the Missouri slope of what is now Iowa as far north as the Sioux boundary. The purpose of the government was not to open this land for white settlements but to use it as a reservation for tribes to be moved west of the Mississippi. For these cessions the government promised to pay each of the tribes concerned from $2000 to $3000 annually for ten years, and to furnish them with blacksmiths, iron, p155and farm implements. Schools, too, were to be established to educate their children. The lines of the cessions were to be run as soon as the President deemed it expedient.391 In October the Yankton and Santee bands of Sioux, who had failed to come to Prairie du Chien, met a deputation of Sauk and Fox chiefs at St. Louis, shook hands, smoked the pipe of peace, and approved the terms of the treaty made during the previous July.392 Again it seemed that peace had been restored to the Upper Mississippi frontier.

But the Chippewa who were not present at the council of 1830 at Prairie du Chien soon caused trouble. In the early fall of 1830 Menominee Indians of the band who in May had massacred the Foxes near Prairie du Chien complained to Street that the Chippewa had killed two of their women near Lockwood's mill on the Chippewa River. The Menominee, bent on retaliation, had come for a supply of powder and lead. Street and Colonel Morgan assembled the Indians in a room at old Fort Crawford and persuaded them to return to their hunting grounds peaceably, leaving the matter of punishment in the hands of their Great Father, the President. Street gave the Indians some clothing, while Colonel Morgan gave them two guns, a keg of powder, a barrel of flour, and a barrel of pork. They left Prairie du Chien promising not to retaliate before spring unless they were again struck in their own land.393 The Sioux, too, complained to the authorities at Prairie du Chien that even while the peace council was in session a party of Sauk and Foxes had attacked their people on the distant shore of Spirit Lake.394

Late in September the bands of Winnebago that received their annuities at Prairie du Chien assembled for p156the $3000 due them at that time. In the presence of Colonel Morgan and Captain Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Loomis, Street paid out to the men the amount apportioned to each family, and urged the Indians not to spend their money for whisky, but to save it until cold weather when they would need clothes for themselves and their children. By late afternoon of the next day, Joseph Rolette, a local trader, had acquired $2,300 of the $3,000 paid to the Indians. In exchange the tribesmen had some new blankets and strouds, and many trinkets. The influence of whisky, too, was beginning to be noticeable, although after the agent's warning many braves were saving this commodity to take away with them to their camps. Street maintained emphatically that to pay the Indians in goods, as had been done in 1829, was far better than to give them money. At that time the chiefs and warriors had three blankets each, and every man, woman, and child had two or three suits of clothes. Each band also had seven or eight kegs of powder and so much tobacco that they left part of it at the agency. Now $3,000 had not sufficed to clothe them, and they had not secured one pound of powder for the winter's hunt. Giving money to the Indians worked to the advantage, of course, of the traders, but the tribesmen suffered.395

In October Street reported that the Chippewa were becoming daring and saucy. They had robbed and mistreated a soldier who had gone up the Chippewa River to make arrangements for the arrival of a logging party from the fort; and had declared to the Winnebago: "If we do sometimes kill white men, and the murderers keep away from the forts, they will not send into our country to find them. They are afraid they will be killed also."396 Late in the winter the Chippewa killed a Menominee p157brave, and mutual reprisals were frequent between the Sioux and the Chippewa of the Upper Mississippi. An agreement apparently had been reached between the Sioux and the Menominee to send out a war party against the Chippewa in the spring unless their Great Father avenged their wrongs.397

As time went on Indian affairs not only above Prairie du Chien but also at Rock Island began to assume a more threatening aspect. In May Sub‑agent Thomas P. Burnett, who had joined the agency force the previous June, and was acting as agent while Street was absent at St. Louis, informed Clark that Wabasha and his band were at Prairie du Chien complaining that a war party of Sauk and Foxes had invaded their country. Colonel Morgan sent for a delegation of Sauk and Foxes to come to Fort Crawford and have a talk with him. When the Sioux learned of this they put their arms in order saying that if the visitors deported themselves peaceably they would not molest them, but upon any sign of hostility they would strike. On May 21st some fifteen Fox braves from the vicinity of Dubuque's Mines arrived at Fort Crawford in response to Colonel Morgan's request. They denied that any war party had invaded the Sioux land and expressed a desire to continue at peace. They smoked and danced with Wabasha's Sioux, and parted in apparent friendship and harmony. Burnett complained that Morgan had acted alone in this matter without any consultation or coöperation with the agency, and this brought a tart exchange of notes between the commandant and the agent over the incident.398

Now the scene of trouble shifted to Rock Island. By the treaty of 1804 in which the Sauk and Foxes unwittingly gave up their possession in Illinois the Indians were p158allowed to live and hunt on the land until it was needed for settlement. The growing encroachment of the whites upon the land adjoining the Indian village of Saukenuk had led the government to survey the region so that the settlers could gain legal title to their claims. The only concession granted to the Indians was that they might remain on their lands until April 1, 1830. Those who remained after that date would be driven out. Keokuk accepted the ultimatum, and withdrew with his band to the Iowa country, but Black Hawk refused to leave the land of his fathers. When, after the winter's hunt, he returned with his band to Saukenuk in the spring of 1831 to plant corn, frequent clashes occurred with the whites. The squatters complained to Governor John Reynolds of Illinois that the Indians "threatened to kill them; that they acted in a most outrageous manner; threw down their fences, turned horses into their corn-fields, stole their potatoes, saying the land was theirs and they had not sold it". They leveled weapons at the citizens and as a final outrage went "to a house, rolled out a barrel of whiskey, and destroyed it."399

Convinced of the imminent danger of an Indian uprising Governor Reynolds called for volunteers. By June, several hundred citizen soldiers were marching toward the scene of trouble, and General Gaines with ten companies of regulars had arrived by steamboat from St. Louis. Colonel Morgan left Fort Crawford for Rock Island with two companies of regulars accompanied by Major Twiggs with two companies from Fort Winnebago. Previous to this Morgan had called in all the fatigue parties and put his entire command in a course of training. Great alarm prevailed at the lead mines where the people, convinced that the Winnebago of Rock River would join the Sauk p159and Foxes, were arming and preparing for defense. Agent Taliaferro, who had recently concluded a peace at the St. Peter's Agency between the Sioux and the Chippewa, offered to furnish two hundred and fifty of each to aid the government.400

General Gaines held a series of councils, and ordered Black Hawk and his band to remove to the west side of the river within two days. When the time was up the Indians were still in their village. But news of the approach of volunteers who, the Indians realized, would show no mercy led Black Hawk to withdraw his entire band to the Iowa shore during the night of June 25th. In the morning not an Indian remained in the village. The fleeing chief and head men were brought back by General Gaines and in the presence of Governor Reynolds were compelled to sign drastic "articles of capitulation". By this so‑called treaty the Indians confirmed the ancient cession of 1804, and agreed never to cross to the eastern side of the Mississippi without permission of the government.401

But perhaps the climax of Indian relations in the vicinity of Fort Crawford during the years 1829‑1831 was reached on the night of July 31, 1831, only a little more than a year after the assembled tribes had agreed to live in peace and friendship. A party of Menominee braves with their women and children had encamped on an island some four hundred paces above old Fort Crawford, and distant about two miles from the new fort to which the troops had been transferred. Two or three hours before daybreak a large party of Sauk and Foxes slipped quietly across the river from the Iowa shore and crept upon the sleeping camp. Then began an orgy of butchery. The Menominee braves were sleeping off a p160drunken debauch and their women had concealed their weapons to prevent their hurting each other. Within a few minutes the Sauk and Foxes had murdered twenty-five of the Menominee and wounded several more. One Menominee boy shot a Fox brave through the heart, and others of the attacking party were thought to have been killed by a few Menominee who pursued the murderers as they fled down the river.402

Agent Street was informed of the attack and arrived on the scene of the massacre within an hour and a half after its occurrence. He sent a letter at once to Captain Loomis, then in command of Fort Crawford, giving him the details of the tragedy. Although steps were taken to apprehend the murderers, the fugitives had a sufficient start to make their escape. A messenger was dispatched at once to the commanding officer at Fort Armstrong to inform him of the destruction of the Menominee and to enlist his aid in capturing the violators of the treaty.403

The wounded Menominee were given treatment by Street and the bereaved families partly pacified by presents. Their forlorn situation was pitiable. The chief of the outraged Indians sorrowfully complained that he had lost his wife and brother and children. "Who will revenge me?", he asked. "I see no person going against the murderers." Near the end of October Street wrote that the Menominee seemed satisfied to learn that the government had demanded the surrender of the guilty Sauk and Foxes. Presents of a full suit of clothes and a blanket for every squaw and child under sixteen, a spear for each man, a keg of powder, and one hundred pounds of lead also helped to assuage their graft.404

But the demand of the government that the Sauk and Foxes should deliver up the murderers were unheeded. To p161them the killing of the Menominee was only just revenge for the ambuscade of the Foxes the previous year. When Black Hawk was asked to deliver some of his band for trial he indignantly refused, especially since the Menominee and Sioux had gone unpunished the year before.405 At a conference with the leaders of the Sauk and Foxes held at Fort Armstrong in September, 1831, even Keokuk, the friend of the whites, took a stand along with Black Hawk against surrendering those engaged in the massacre of the Menominee. "If what they did and what we have now done was put in scales it would balance", he boldly affirmed to Major John Bliss and to agent Felix St. Vrain at the council.406

Black Hawk and his band had left their growing crops in Illinois and crossed into Iowa too late to plant anew, and by autumn they were out of provisions. One night some of the Indians silently crossed the river to steal corn from the crops they had left on their old land. They were fired upon by the whites who complained loudly of the theft and the violation of the treaty. The year 1831 closed with the Menominee and Sioux plotting vengeance on the Sauk and Foxes, while Black Hawk vainly dreamed of regaining the land of his fathers in the spring.407


The Author's Notes:

365 The treaties of 1829 and 1830 may be found in the United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VII (Indian Treaties, 1778‑1842), pp323‑325, 328‑332. For details of Indian affairs at and near Prairie du Chien from 1829‑1831, the letters of Indian Agent Joseph Montfort Street furnish contemporary information. One group of Street letters may be found in the Aldrich Collection in the Historical, Memorial and Art Department at Des Moines. Another group of Street letters forms a part of Vol. XXXII of the manuscript books kept by William Clark, Superintendent of Indian Affairs at St. Louis. This volume is in the possession of the Kansas Historical Society at Topeka. Copies of both of these groups of Street letters are among the manuscript collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin at Madison. In these notes the Street letters at Des Moines will be referred to as Street Papers and those at Topeka as Street Correspondence. Photostat copies of papers in the Indian Office Files and the Indian Office Letter Books for 1829, 1830, and 1831 in the library of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin also furnish source material for Indian relations at Prairie du Chien during these years.

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366 Barbour to Street, August 6, 1827, in the Indian Office Letter Books, Vol. IV, pp105, 106. An interesting sketch of Joseph M. Street, written by his son William B. Street, appears in the Annals of Iowa (Third Series), Vol. II, pp81‑105. See also Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XI, pp248, 249, 356, 357, footnotes.

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367 Street to Edwards, November, 1827, December 28, 1827, and January 1, 1828, in the Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. XI, pp356‑362, 362‑368, 368‑369.

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368 Atwater's Remarks Made on a Tour to Prairie du Chien, thence to Washington City, in 1829, p2; United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VII (Indian Treaties, 1778‑1842), pp315‑317.

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369 Annals of Iowa (Third Series), Vol. II, pp85, 86; Kearny to Eaton, February 10, 1830, in the Street Papers, No. 11.

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370 Annals of Iowa (Third Series), Vol. II, pp87, 88; Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. IV, pp175‑180.

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371 Annals of Iowa (Third Series), Vol. II, p88; Street to Clark, October 31, 1831, in the Street Correspondence.

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372 Atwater's Remarks Made on a Tour to Prairie du Chien, p2.

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373 Eaton to McNeil and Menard, March 30, 1829, in "Copies of letters and documents relative to Prairie du Chien Treaty in 1829, as preserved among the papers of Gen. John McNeil one of the commissioners", in the manuscript collection of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

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374 Naw Kaw to President Jackson, March 14, 1829, C. H. Hook to Menard, April 27, 1829, and Thomas L. McKenney to McNeil and Menard, May 18, 1829, in "Copies of letters and documents relative to Prairie du Chien Treaty in 1829".

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375 Atwater's Remarks Made on a Tour to Prairie du Chien, pp54, 55.

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376 Letters from Peter Menard to McNeil and Menard, June 25, 1829, McNeil, Menard, and Atwater to Peter Menard, June 25, 1829, McNeil, Menard, and Atwater to Jacques Mette, June 25, 1829, speech by See‑na-cha‑wame, and letter from Peter Menard to McNeil, Menard, and Atwater, July 20, 1829, in "Copies of letters and documents relative to Prairie du Chien Treaty in 1829".

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377 Atwater's Remarks Made on a Tour to Prairie du Chien, pp56‑58.

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378 Atwater's Remarks Made on a Tour to Prairie du Chien, pp64, 65.

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379 Atwater's Remarks Made on a Tour to Prairie du Chien, p67.

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380 Atwater's Remarks Made on a Tour to Prairie du Chien, pp67‑68.

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381 Atwater's Remarks Made on a Tour to Prairie du Chien, pp69, 70.

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382 Atwater's Remarks Made on a Tour to Prairie du Chien, p70.

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383 Atwater's Remarks Made on a Tour to Prairie du Chien, pp118, 119.

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384 Report of McNeil, Menard, and Atwater, dated Prairie du Chien, August 7, 1829, in "Copies of letters and documents relative to Prairie du Chien Treaty in 1829"; United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VII (Indian Treaties, 1778‑1842), pp320‑325; Atwater's Remarks Made on a Tour to Prairie du Chien, pp71, 173‑175.

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385 Atwater's Remarks Made on a Tour to Prairie du Chien, pp175, 176.

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386 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. V, p256, Vol. II, p170.

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387 Statement of Wynkoop Warner in Senate Documents, 23rd Congress, 1st Session, Vol. VIII, Document No. 512, pp62, 63.

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388 Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp170, 171, Vol. V, pp256, 257, Vol. IX, pp323‑326.

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389 Senate Documents, 23rd Congress, 1st Session, Vol. VIII, Document No. 512, pp91, 93, 96, 97, 183.

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390 Clark to McKenney, July 6, 1830, in the Street Correspondence.

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391 Senate Documents, 23rd Congress, 1st Session, Vol. VIII, Document No. 512, pp77‑79; United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VII (Indian Treaties, 1778‑1842), pp328‑331; McKenney to Clark, July 23, 1830, and McKenney to Clark and Morgan, July 30, 1830, in the Indian Office Letter Books, Vol. VI, pp499, 501, 502.

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392 Senate Documents, 23rd Congress, 1st Session, Vol. VIII, Document No. 512, pp182, 183.

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393 Street to Clark, September 21, 1830, in the Street Correspondence.

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394 Morgan to Commanding Officer at Fort Armstrong, September 7, 1830, in the Street Correspondence.

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395 Street to Clark, September 30, 1830, in the Street Correspondence.

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396 Street to Clark, October 29, 1830, in the Street Correspondence.

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397 Street to Clark, February 2, 1831, and March 2, 1831, in the Street Correspondence.

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398 Burnett to Clark, May 18, 1831, and May 28, 1831 in the Street Correspondence; Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. II, pp248, 249.

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399 Cole's A History of the People of Iowa, pp82, 83; Pease's The Frontier State, 1818‑1848, p158. Black Hawk claimed that he destroy the whisky for fear his people while drunk might kill some of the whites. — Black Hawk's Autobiography (1882 edition), p73.

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400 Pease's The Frontier State, 1818‑1848, p158; Burnett to Clark, June 15, 1831, and Taliaferro to Clark, July 6, 1831, in the Street Correspondence.

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401 Cole's A History of the People of Iowa, p84; Pease's The Frontier State, 1818‑1848, pp158, 159.

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402 Street to Clark, August 1, 1831, in the Street Correspondence.

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403 Street to Loomis, July 31, 1831, and Loomis to Street, August 1, 1831, in the Street Correspondence.

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404 Street to Clark, August 31, 1831, and October 24, 1831, in the Street Correspondence.

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405 Pease's The Frontier State, 1818‑1848, p159.

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406 Journal of a Council Held with the Chiefs and Warriors of the Sac and Fox Indians at Fort Armstrong on the fifth of September, 1831, by Major Bliss, First Infantry, Commanding, and Felix St. Vrain, the U. S. Agent, in Stevens's The Black Hawk War, pp107, 108.

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407 Pease's The Frontier State, 1818‑1848, p159; Street to Clark, November 15, 1831, December 7, 1831, and January 11, 1832, in the Street Correspondence.


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