Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The 1816 Treaty of St. Louis and the 1821 and 1833 Treaties of Chicago.

The Treaty of 1816 of St. Louis is one of the names of a series of fourteen treaties signed between the United States and various Native American tribes from 1804 through 1824. All of the treaties were signed in the St. Louis, Missouri area.

The 1816 Treaty of St. Louis was signed by Ninian Edwards, William Clark, and Auguste Chouteau for the United States and representatives of the "Council of Three Fires" (also known as the People of the Three Fires; the Three Fires Confederacy; or the United Nations of Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi Indians) residing on the Illinois and Milwaukee rivers. It was signed on August 24, 1816 and proclaimed on December 30, 1816. 
Despite the name, the treaty was conducted at Portage des Sioux, Missouri,
located immediately north of St. Louis, Missouri.
These treaties were to form the legal basis in which native tribes were to be relocated west of Missouri in Indian Territory and which was to clear the way for the states to enter the Union.

By signing the treaty, the tribes, their chiefs, and their warriors relinquished all right, claim, and title to land previously ceded to the United States by the Sac and Fox tribes on November 3, 1804. By signing the treaty, the Council of Three Fires also ceded a 20 mile strip of land to the United States, which connected Chicago and Lake Michigan with the Illinois River.

The specific land given up included:
The said chiefs and warriors, for themselves and the tribes they represent, agree to relinquish, and hereby do relinquish, to the United States, all their right, claim, and title, to all the land contained in the before-mentioned cession of the Sacs and Foxes, which lies south of a due west line from the southern extremity of Lake Michigan to the Mississippi river. And they moreover cede to the United States all the land contained within the following bounds, to wit: beginning on the left bank of the Fox river of Illinois, ten miles above the mouth of said Fox river; thence running so as to cross Sandy creek, ten miles above its mouth; thence, in a direct line, to a point ten miles north of the west end of the Portage, between Chicago creek, which empties into Lake Michigan, and the river Deplaines, a fork of the Illinois; thence, in a direct line, to a point on Lake Michigan, ten miles northward of the mouth of Chicago creek; thence, along the lake, to a point ten miles southward of the mouth of the said Chicago creek; thence, in a direct line, to a point on the Kankakee, ten miles above its mouth; thence, with the said Kankakee and the Illinois river, to the mouth of Fox river, and thence to the beginning: Provided, nevertheless, That the said tribes shall be permitted to hunt and fish within the limits of the land hereby relinquished and ceded, so long as it may continue to be the property of the United States.
Many of the chiefs and warriors signed the treaty with an “X”; one wonders whether they fully understood what the treaty would mean, given that they were told they could continue to hunt and fish there forever.

In exchange the tribes were to be paid $1,000 in merchandise over 12 years. The land was surveyed by John C. Sullivan and this land was originally intended as land grant rewards for volunteers in the War of 1812. Many of the streets in the survey run at a diagonal that is counter to Chicago's street grid.

The 1821 and 1833 Treaties of Chicago:

The first treaty of Chicago was signed by Michigan Territorial Governor Lewis Cass and Solomon Sibley for the United States and representatives of the Ottawa, Ojibwe, and Potawatomi (Council of Three Fires) on August 29, 1821, and proclaimed on March 25, 1822. The treaty ceded to the United States all lands in Michigan Territory south of the Grand River, with the exception of several small reservations. Also ceded by the Native Americans was a tract of land, easement between Detroit and Chicago (through Indiana and Illinois), around the southern coast of Lake Michigan, while specific Native Americans were also granted property rights to defined parcels.

Potawatomi Chief Metea gave the following speech in defense of his land at the signing of the Treaty of Chicago:
Chief Metea
“My Father,—We have listened to what you have said. We shall now retire to our camps and consult upon it. You will hear nothing more from us at present. [This is a uniform custom of all the Native Americans. When the council was again convened, Metea continued.] We meet you here to-day, because we had promised it, to tell you our minds, and what we have agreed upon among ourselves. You will listen to us with a good mind, and believe what we say. You know that we first came to this country, a long time ago, and when we sat ourselves down upon it, we met with a great many hardships and difficulties. Our country was then very large; but it has dwindled away to a small spot, and you wish to purchase that! This has caused us to reflect much upon what you have told us; and we have, therefore, brought all the chiefs and warriors, and the young men and women and children of our tribe, that one part may not do what others object to, and that all may be witnesses of what is going forward. You know your children. Since you first came among them, they have listened to your words with an attentive ear, and have always hearkened to your counsels. Whenever you have had a proposal to make to us, whenever you have had a favor to ask of us, we have always lent a favorable ear, and our invariable answer has been ‘yes.’ This you know! A long time has passed since we first came upon our lands, and our old people have all sunk into their graves. They had sense. We are all young and foolish, and do not wish to do anything that they would not approve, were they living. We are fearful we shall offend their spirits, if we sell our lands; and we are fearful we shall offend you, if we do not sell them. This has caused us great perplexity of thought, because we have counselled among ourselves, and do not know how we can part with the land. Our country was given to us by the Great Spirit, who gave it to us to hunt upon, to make our cornfields upon, to live upon, and to make down our beds upon when we die. And he would never forgive us, should we bargain it away. When you first spoke to us for lands at St. Mary’s, we said we had a little, and agreed to sell you a piece of it; but we told you we could spare no more. Now you ask us again. You are never satisfied! We have sold you a great tract of land already; but it is not enough! We sold it to you for the benefit of your children, to farm and to live upon. We have now but little left. We shall want it all for ourselves. We know not how long we may live, and we wish to have some lands for our children to hunt upon. You are gradually taking away our hunting-grounds. Your children are driving us before them. We are growing uneasy. What lands you have, you may retain forever; but we shall sell no more. You think, perhaps, that I speak in passion; but my heart is good towards you. I speak like one of your own children. I am an Indian, a red-skin, and live by hunting and fishing, but my country is already too small; and I do not know how to bring up my children, if I give it all away. We sold you a fine tract of land at St. Mary’s. We said to you then, it was enough to satisfy your children, and the last we should sell: and we thought it would be the last you would ask for. We have now told you what we had to say. It is what was determined on, in a council among ourselves; and what I have spoken, is the voice of my nation. On this account, all our people have come here to listen to me; but do not think we have a bad opinion of you. Where should we get a bad opinion of you? We speak to you with a good heart, and the feelings of a friend. You are acquainted with this piece of land—the country we live in. Shall we give it up? Take notice, it is a small piece of land, and if we give it away, what will become of us? The Great Spirit, who has provided it for our use, allows us to keep it, to bring up our young men and support our families. We should incur his anger, if we bartered it away. If we had more land, you should get more; but our land has been wasting away ever since the white people became our neighbors, and we have now hardly enough left to cover the bones of our tribe. You are in the midst of your red children. What is due to us in money, we wish, and will receive at this place; and we want nothing more. We all shake hands with you. Behold our warriors, our women, and children. Take pity on us and on our words.”
The second Treaty of Chicago granted the United States government all land west of Lake Michigan to Lake Winnebago in modern-day Wisconsin in 1833. The treaty included lands that are part of modern-day Illinois, as well. The treaty Native Americans (Potowatomi) in return received promises of various cash payments and tracts of land west of the Mississippi River.
160 years after the explorations of Marquette and Joliet, Native Americans signed away all rights to their land east of the Mississippi River in the 1833 Treaty of Chicago.
At the concluding ceremony for the treaty in 1835, just prior to the evacuation of the Native Americans, five-hundred warriors gathered in the then nascent city (town of Chicago founded in 1833). In full dress, and brandishing tomahawks, they danced the last recorded war dance in the Chicago area.

In 1848, the Illinois and Michigan Canal was built on the ceded land, and in 1900, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

Today, Indian Boundary Park in Chicago's West Ridge community commemorates this Treaty.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Gurdon Hubbard, a true Chicagoan, arrived well before the Town of Chicago was incorporated in 1833.

Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard (1802-1886) was born in Windsor Vermont.

Hubbard became an entrepreneur in 1813 at the age of eleven when his father moved the family to Montreal. Gurdon borrowed twenty five cents from a friend and began buying “the remnants of (farmer’s) loads of poultry, butter, cheese, etc. and peddling them… realized from eighty to one hundred dollars, all of which went into the family treasury.”

While his early life in the fur trade was filled with high adventure and feats of daring and strength, Hubbard was always focused on improving and expanding his businesses. 

Prior to his arrival in Chicago, he had made the acquaintance of Morris Kinzie, who gave Hubbard a letter of introduction to his father, John Kinzie. 

As a young man, Hubbard became friends with a Kickapoo chief, Waba, who adopted him as his son. Hubbard also went on to marry a Potawatomi woman, Watseka. The two divorced after two years and she went on to marry Noel LaVasseur.

Hubbard settled in Danville, Illinois in the early 1820s. Beginning in 1822, Hubbard began moving his trade goods by pack ponies from his 80 acre farm on the Iroquois River north of Danville, south along an old buffalo trace, known as the Vincennes Trail.  He took his hogs and cattle to sell at the population, transportation and market center of Vincennes, Indiana on the Wabash River.
At one point, upon learning that a band of Indians were planning a raid on Danville, Hubbard walked 75 miles to Danville in a single night, earning the nickname “Pa-pa-ma-ta-be,” or “Swift-Walker.” As stories of his feat spread, a local Indian tribe questioned the veracity of the story. According to legend, Hubbard challenged the tribe to put up a champion and succeeded in beating him in a race by several miles.

Following that he would use the trail to carry traded goods from Chicago to the south, and to bring his furs north.  He established trading posts every forty to fifty miles.  Over the following years traffic increased as settlers from the east moved into the Indiana and Illinois farmlands.  Hubbard’s livestock, and their wagons, widened and hardened the trail into a road. It began to be known as "Hubbard’s Trace 'or Hubbard’s Trail.

While serving in the Illinois General Assembly in the 1830s, Hubbard lobbied to have the Illinois & Michigan Canal built to connect the Chicago River to the Illinois River, defeating a competing proposal to build the canal from the Calumet River to the Illinois. Hubbard would eventually go on the serve as a director of the I&M Canal Board.

In 1834 the state legislature designated the Hubbard Trail as the first State Road. It was marked with milestones from Vincennes to Chicago. On most of the old trail’s route through Illinois today it is still marked as State Route 1. At its northern end in Chicago, Hubbard’s old trail is known as State Street.
Seeing the vast potential of Chicago's location, Hubbard and his second wife Eleanora moved from their Iroquois River farmhouse to Chicago on January 4, 1834. It took them six days to travel up Hubbard’s Trail to Chicago in a procession of cattle, hogs and horse drawn sleighs. Winter weather made travel over the frozen trail, and passage over the frozen rivers, easy.

After moving to Chicago in 1834, Hubbard opened a land office and began reaching out to East Coast investors. 

Hubbard built a three story brick warehouse in the winter of 1843 while his freshly killed hogs were preserved on the ice of the Chicago River. In the spring his building was finished. It had a large insulated room for keeping meat cold through the warm months with ice cut from the river and nearby marshes  It was the first brick warehouse built in the small town and detractors labeled it “Hubbard’s Folly." Within a few years his businesses had outgrown the building on the north side of the Chicago river, near modern-day LaSalle Street, and in 1836 he built an even larger warehouse (for $44,000) on the north bank.

To his meat packing business he added warehousing, freight forwarding and “lightering" (moving cargo and passengers between shore and ships anchored in the lake). In 1860, one of his ships, the Lady Elgin, sank off the coast of present-day Highwood.


Hubbard was elected as an alderman for the 7th Ward in 1860. He began writing his autobiography, which had grown to more than 800 pages when Hubbard lost his manuscript in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. 

Building his fortune in meats and furs allowed Hubbard to enter into the insurance business, and he was the first underwriter in Chicago. Following the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, he was nearly bankrupted by the insurance payments he had to make, but he was able to survive the setback.

Following the fire, he began to recreate it, but only managed to get to 1829 when he died (although the manuscript has since been published).

With Chicago destroyed by fire, Hubbard set out for the East Coast, where he drew maps of Chicago from memory to interest backers in helping to rebuild the city. His success meant that he was able to rebuild his fortunes before his death.


Hubbard married three times. His second wife was the former Eleanora Berry of Urbana (married from 1831-1840) and his third was his cousin, Mary Ann Ellis Mills Hubbard (married from 1843 until his death). He had one son, Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard, Jr., with Eleanora (b.1838).


Hubbard recovered from his financial setbacks following the Great Chicago Fire, but his health began to deteriorate. In 1883, he became ill and in 1884, he had his left eye removed. The following year, his right eye was removed. Hubbard died on September 14, 1886 and was buried in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois.


Chicago honors 
Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard by naming the street, Hubbard Street for him, as is Hubbard High School and Hubbard’s Cave, the nickname given to a section of tunnel on I90 and I94 highway (the Kennedy Expressway).

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 


At a time when men of virtues were desperately in short supply, the story of Illinois pioneer Gurdon Hubbard is a compelling one. It reaffirms the conviction that integrity, faith, loyalty, courage and a moral sense of responsibility are virtues worth cherishing.

Two books written by Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard are available in PDF format from my Digital Research Library of Illinois History®

1) Autobiography of Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard; pub:1911
2) Incidents and Events in the Life of Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard; pub:1888 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Philippe de Rocheblave, a Military Opportunist in the Illinois Country.

Philippe de Rocheblave
Philippe-François de Rastel de Rocheblave (1727-1802) (commonly known as Philippe de Rocheblave), was a military officer and fur trader in present-day southwestern Illinois in the eighteenth century. His story reveals much about the history of the Illinois Country in the years surrounding the Revolutionary War.

Born in Savournon, Hautes-Alpes, France, Rocheblave came to North America duing the Seven Years War also, known as, the French and Indian War. In 1760, he was a lieutenant with the Royal French Marines at Fort de Chartres (which is about 4 miles west of the Village of Prairie du Rocher), in the Illinois Country. He also established a fur trading business at Kaskaskia, another French settlement on the Mississippi.

After the British took control of Kaskaskia in 1763, he switched allegiances and took command of Fort Sainte-Geneviève, in the Illinois Country for New Spain. In 1774, he switched allegiances once again and took command of Kaskaskia for the British.

In 1778, during the American Revolutionary War, Colonel George Rogers Clark, commander of the Illinois Regiment, Virginia State Forces, captured Kaskaskia for the Americans and took Philippe de Rocheblave prisoner. Rocheblave was sent to Virginia, where he eluded parole and fled to the British forces in New York City.
Philippe de Rocheblave, the commandant of Fort Gage, captured while asleep with his wife, by Colonel George Rogers Clark and the Illinois Regiment, Virginia State Forces, in 1778, who seized the lightly guarded British outpost, of Kaskaskia, in the Illinois Country.
After the American Revolutionary War ended, Philippe de Rocheblave brought his family to Montreal; they later settled at Varennes in 1789. He became involved in the fur trade in the Detroit region. In 1796, Rocheblave was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada for Surrey and was re-elected in 1796 and 1800, serving until he died on April 3, 1802, in Quebec City, Lower Canada.

Rocheblave's story presents a quandary. Was he an opportunist who owed his allegiance to whomever was winning at the time? Was he, alternately, astute in his allegiances, reacting to the often shifting nature of politics on the frontier? Whichever you lean towards, his story is an interesting chapter in the history of Illinois.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.