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10:41 PM

Redbone Families in Kaskaskia

Kaskaskia District 


JAMES TRUSLOW ADAMS Editor in Chief R. V. COLEMAN Managing Editor
Algonquin (ALGONKIN) THE, is a generic term for a linguistic stock or basic group of Indians having a wide distribution, their territory reaching from Newfoundland to the Rocky Mountains and from isolated areas in California to Pamlico Sound. This great family embraced numerous tribes and groups of tribes having a common linguistic affinity. The Algonquin were first met in Canada where the Weskarini provided the name now applied to the whole. The western group embraced the Blackfoot confederacy and the Arapaho and Cheyenneqqv; the extensive northern division the Chippewaqv, the Missasaga, Nipissing, Abittibi, Algonkin and probably the Creeqv. The northeastern division embraced the Montagnais group, the Abnakiqv, including the Micmac, Malecite, Passamaquoddy, Arosaguntacook, Sokoki, and Norridgewock. The central division embraced the Sauk, Fox, Kickapoo, Mascoutin, Pottawatomie, the Illinois branch of the Miami group which included the Peoria, Kaskaskia, Cahokia, Tamaroa and Michigamea, the Miami group proper, including the Miami, Piankashaw and Weaqqv. The eastern division embraced all the Atlantic coast Algonquian tribes, such as the Pennacook, Massachusetts, Wampanoag, Narragansett, Nipmuc, Montauk, Mohegan, Mahican, Wappinger, Delaware, Shawneeqqv, Nanticoke, Conoy, Powhatan and Pamlico.
The Algonquian tribes were the first to sustain the shock of French and English penetration and suffered greatly from wars with the Iroquoisqv Most of the tribes except those of the north were sedentary and carried on agriculture with varying degrees of intensity. They possessed a degree of manual skill and their mental qualities are not to be despised. Among their great leaders, were such men as Tecumseh, Pontiac, Samoset, Massasoit, King Philip, Powhatan and Nimham. Many eastern tribesmen embraced Christianity early in the colonial period.
[ Hodge, Handbook of American Indians.]
American Bottom, THE, narrow Mississippi River flood plain extending roughly 100 miles between Chester and Alton, Ill., took its name jointly perhaps from the first American settlers in the Old Northwestqv and from serving as part of the territorial boundary before the Louisiana Purchaseqv. Site of pre-eminent burial and ceremonial mounds, the bluff-hemmed strip became a lifeline of white population in the wilderness with settlements at Cahokia, Kaskaskia, Fort de Chartres, Bellefontaineqqv, and Prairie du Rocher among others. Frontier travelers found the pond-dotted flat "miasmatic" but "extremely fertile."
[ L. C. Beck, Gazetteer of Illinois and Missouri; H. I. Priestly , The Coming of the While Man; W. K. Moorehead and M. M. Leighton, The Cahokia Mounds; C. W. Alvord , Cahokia Records, 1778-1790.] IRVING DILLIARD
Backwoods and Back Country. The term backwoodsman was not applied to those who, in the first century of our colonization, settled in the wilder portions of New England. It did not become common until pioneers began advancing the frontier farther south-moving into and beyond the mountains of Pennsylvania, Virginia and the Carolinas, regions which came to be known to the Coast states as the back country. For generations after the great westward movementqv beginning about 1769-70, this back country, comprising the present Middle West, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and other inland areas farther south, was predominantly forest. Until after 1800 roads fit for wheeled vehicles were rare and short, and most traveling was done by water or mere horse trail. There were still only a few small cleared areas in what is now Kentucky in 1776 when the settlers chose two agents to ask protection of Virginia, with the result that "Kentucky County"qv was created, and in the following year sent two burgesses to the Virginia legislature. Backwoodsmen under George Rogers Clark (see Clark's Northwest Campaign) took Kaskaskia and Vincennesqqv. In Tennessee they first organized the Watauga Association and then the State of Franklinqqv. An undisciplined but, as usual, efficient army of them annihilated Ferguson's force at the Battle of King's Mountainqv. Later, under their idol, Andrew Jackson, they fought the Creek War and won the Battle of New Orleans.qqv Their prowess in war bred in them a group consciousness and pride. When Jackson was inaugurated in 1829 they flocked to Washington and made the occasion, including the White House reception, so turbulent and uproarious that old Federalists and Whigsqqv thought the era of mob rule had come. The word backwoodsman acquired during that period an opprobrium which it never afterwards lost.
[ Theodore Roosevelt, The Winning of the Wist; E. Douglas Branch , Westward; Seymour Dunbar, History of Travel in America.]
[ C. W. Alvord, Kaskaskia Records, 1778-1790; C. W. Alvord , The Illinois Country, 1673-1818.]

Cahokia, the first permanent white settlement of consequence in Illinois, was founded in March, 1699, when priests of the Seminary of Quebec established there the Mission of the Holy Family. Their chapel, which became the nucleus of the village, was located near the left bank of the Mississippi a short distance south of the present city of East St. Louis. Cahokia took its name from the adjacent Indian village, which in 1699 contained about 2000 Tamaroa and Cahokia.
The mission at Cahokia quickly attracted French settlers, principally from Canada, occasionally from Louisiana. Their number, however, was never large. A census in 1723 enumerated only twelve white residents, while at Kaskaskia and Fort de Chartresqqv, the other principal settlements, 196 and 126 were counted. In 1767, after many French had removed to St. Louisqv because of the cession of the Illinois countryqv to Great Britain, Cahokia contained 300 whites and 80 Negroes-about half the population of Kaskaskia. By 1800, however, its population had increased to 719, while that of Kaskaskia had dropped to 467.
Throughout the 18th century Cahokia exemplified several of the features of a typical French village. There was a common pasture land and a large common field divided into strips for cultivation. The church was the center of village life and the priest the most influential resident. Although a few families were distinguished by education and cultivated manners, most of the inhabitants were coureurs de bois, voyageursqqv and traders who mingled freely with the Indians. English and American travelers usually criticized their squalor and lack of enterprise, but they noted also a carefree gaiety impervious to the hardships and uncertainties of their way of life.
Although Cahokia became the seat of St. Clair County, the first county organized in Illinois, its growth was not commensurate with that of the territory. With the removal of the county seat in 1814, decline commenced. By 1900 all vestiges of village life had disappeared.
[ Gilbert J. Garraghan, New Light on Old Cahokia, Illinois Catholic Historical Review, Oct., 1928; C. W. Alvord , Cahokia Records, 1778-1790; History of St. Clair Couny, Illinois.]
Charlevoix's Journey ( 1721) to America was an attempt on the part of the French authorities to discover a route to the Western Sea, through the continent of North America. The regent of France, not wishing to have his purpose known, disguised the journey as a tour of inspection of the posts and missions of interior America. Charlevoix left France in July, 1720, arrived at Quebec in September, too late to join the flotillas that ascended to the "Upper Country." In May, 172t, he went around the Great Lakes, arriving in Mackinacqv in time to accompany the new commandant at La Bayeqv to his post.
There he conversed with Sioux Indiansqv on their knowledge of the Western Sea. Finding it too late for an excursion into Lake Superior, Charlevoix decided to visit Louisianaqv. He entered Illinoisq' by the St. Joseph-Kankakee route, and at Kaskaskiaqv spent the winter interviewing traders from the Missouri. Thence he went down the river to New Orleansqv where he spent fifteen days, and continued to Biloxiqv where in February, 1722, he fell ill. Not being able to remount the Mississippi as he had planned, he returned to France, where he arrived in December, 1722. His recommendations to the regent resulted in a post among the Sioux, established in 1727. His experiences in America he wrote in Journal Historique which was published in 1744, first translated into English in 1761 and republished and edited for the Caxton Club, Chicago, 1923, by the author of this sketch.
[ Louise Phelps Kellogg, French RĂ©gime in Wisconsin and the Northwest.]
Chartres, Fort de ( 1719-72), seat of civil and military government in the Illinois countryqv for more than half a century, stood near the present village of Prairie du Rocher in Randolph County, Ill. Named in honor of the son of the Regent of France, it was commenced in 1719 and completed the following year. Built of wood, and exposed to the flood waters of the Mississippi, the fort quickly fell into disrepair. In 1727 it was rebuilt, but by 1732 it was so dilapidated that St. Ange, the commandant, built a new fort with the same name at some distance from the river. By 1747, when a general Indian uprising seemed imminent, this too had fallen into such bad condition that repair was considered impossible and the garrison was withdrawn to Kaskaskiaq.
In 1751 the French government decided to build a new fort at Kaskaskia, but the engineer in charge, Jean Baptiste Saucier, decided on a location near the old fort. Foundations were laid in 1753; three years later the structure was substantially finished. Costing 200,000 livres, the new Fort de Chartres was an irregular quadrangle with sides 490 ft. long and stone walls 2 ft. 2 in. thick. Ten years after its completion a competent English officer described it as "the most commodious and best built fort in North America." It was capable of housing 400 men, although its garrison rarely exceeded half that number.
Fort de Chartres, transferred to the British on Oct. 10, 1765, was the last French post in North America to be surrendered under the Treaty of Parisqv. Renamed Fort Cavendish, it was the seat of British rule in the Illinois country until 1772 when it was abandoned and destroyed.
[ C. W. Alvord, The Illinois Country, 1673-1818.]
Chartres, Fort de, Treaty ( 1766), is the name given to an agreement made by George Croghan, deputy superintendent of Indian affairs, with the Western Indians, by which the Indians acknowledged the authority of the king of England, and agreed to return prisoners and stolen horses and to permit the establishment of trading posts. The conference was held at Fort de Chartresqv, beginning on Aug. 25, 1766. Twenty-two tribes, including the Kaskaskia, Piankashaw, Kickapoo, Miami, Sacs and Foxesqqv, were present; later three other tribes adhered to the pact. The peace established at this conference lasted for the duration of British rule in the Illinois country.
[ A. T. Volwiler, Croghan and the Westward Movement.]
Clark's Northwest Campaign ( 1778-79). During the early years of the Revolution the British exercised undisputed control over the country northwest of the Ohio River. Their most important center of influence was Detroitqv, the headquarters of the posts and the key to the control of the fur trade and the Indian tribes. From Detroit emanated the influences which dominated the savages of the entire Northwest, and instigated the dispatching of uncounted war parties against the frontier settlements south of the Ohio. So terribly were the settlers of infant Kentucky harassed that they were considering abandoning the country altogether, when George Rogers Clark stepped forward as their leader and protector.
Clark perceived that Kentucky could best be defended by the conquest of Detroit, the center whence the raids were instigated. Too weak to make a frontal attack upon Detroit, or even upon Vincennes, he directed his first blow against the towns of the French in Illinois. Kaskaskiaqv was occupied, July 4, 1778, and the remaining Illinois towns, and even Vincennesqv, were easily persuaded to join the rebel standard. Upon learning of these developments, Lt. Gov. Hamilton of Detroit prepared to effect a counterstroke. Under great difficulties he marched upon Vincennes, which was retaken, Dec. 17; but instead of pushing on against Kaskaskia, Hamilton now dismissed his Indian allies and settled down for the winter.
The situation was thus placed in the balance and victory would favor the leader who struck first. Instantly perceiving this, Clark led his little army eastward across Illinois to tempt his fate at Vincennes. An untimely thaw flooded the prairies and drowned the river bottoms and the story of the difficulties encountered and vanquished surpasses many a flight of fiction. Even Clark himself said the recital of them would be too incredible for belief by any one not well acquainted with him.
A bullet through the breast of a British soldier apprised Hamilton of Clark's arrival. After an investment of thirty-six hours, Hamilton yielded his fort and garrison to the rebel leader, Feb. 24, 1779. Although Detroit, Clark's ultimate goal, was never attained, he retained his grip upon the southern end of the Northwestqu until the close of the war, and this possession proved an important factor in obtaining the Northwest for the United States in the Definitive Treaty of Peace of 1783.qv

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