Saturday, October 20, 2018

Historical accounts report a slave named Manuel burned to death for witchcraft in Illinois in 1779; Is it true?

As reported throughout history: In the Northwest territorial government’s first execution, a slave named Manuel is burned to death for witchcraft. Manuel is the first and only alleged witch executed in Illinois, and the only man put to death by fire on June 15, 1779.
In fact, it is often alleged that nobody has ever been burned at the stake for being a witch in the United States. But that’s demonstrably not true. At least one man was — and it happened in Kaskaskia, Illinois.

Col. John Todd (Mary Todd Lincoln, President Lincoln's wife, was the great-niece of Col. John Todd.) was the first civil governor of what was then the Northwest territory. According to his record book, a black slave named Manuel, “who made a dishonorable sign at the door of the church,” was arrested for practicing Voodooism. He was sentenced June 13, 1779, by Todd to be chained to a post and burned alive with his ashes scattered. Two days later, Sheriff Richard Winston carried out the ghastly execution.

The true story: Around 1878 Edward G. Mason, the secretary of the Chicago Historical Society at that time, found the record book kept by the county Lieutenant, John Todd, in the year 1779, when Todd came to govern the Northwest territory that had been occupied by George Rogers Clark and his Virginians during the Revolutionary War. In this record book Mason found the copy of a 'warrant for the death of a negro, named Manuel, by burning at the stake, which burning was to take place after consolation to the criminal had been given by the parish priest. The copy of the warrant had been crossed out by drawing lines through it. Please bear this fact in mind, since it should have suggested a correct interpretation

Naturally this warrant aroused the imagination of Mr. Mason, and he began to search for an explanation and discovered that about that time in history there was an outbreak of Voodooism among the Illinois slaves and that two slaves had been put to death. He drew the natural conclusion therefore that Manuel had been burned at the stake for the practice of witchcraft. Basing his interpretation upon Mr. Mason's find, a well-known ex-president, Theodore Roosevelt, who among other occupations has dabbled in history, wrote at some length upon this episode and drew a comparison between eighteenth century Catholic Illinois, where for the practice of witchcraft men were burned at the stake with the sanctions of the parish priest and in accordance with French Catholic law, with a similar episode in the history of Puritan Massachusetts in the seventeenth century. 

Fortunately the full record of the court's proceedings by which Manuel was condemned were also located. The judges in the case, although they were obliged to listen to the superstitious accusations of negro slaves, were careful to determine the fact that Manuel and another negro had been guilty of murder by poisoning their master and mistress, Mr. and Mrs. Nicolle, and that it was for this act the two negroes were condemned to death.

Naturally, it might be supposed as Roosevelt did, that this was French law, but there was another possibility, namely that Virginia law in criminal cases would be used by a Virginian magistrate, such as John Todd, per the law of the land at that time period. The Virginia law in the case of murder of a master by a slave was death by burning at the stake so that in the case of Manuel you see that the condemnation was strictly in accordance with Virginia law and not with French law. 

It certainly was a surprise that another warrant for the death of Manuel, issued at a later hour in that day, but by this later warrant the death penalty was changed from burning at the stake to hanging by the neck.

To summarize: Manuel was not condemned for witchcraft but for murder; he was not condemned to be burned at the stake in accordance with French law, but in accordance with Virginia law; and finally he was not burned at the stake at all, but was hung by the neck.

This is an excellent example of the danger of drawing inferences in regard to historic events without enough research and information. There was one fact which both Mr. Mason and Mr. Roosevelt ignored in their interpretation of the warrant. The copy of the warrant was found in a carefully kept record book, and was crossed out by lines being drawn through it. That fact should have made them suspicious of their own interpretation. Records such as this condemnation to death would not be lightly erased by the keeper of a record book. An historical Sherlock Holmes would not have been misled.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 


Question: How many witches were burned during the infamous trials in Salem, Massachusetts?

Answer: None. Nineteen were hanged, and one, Giles Corey, had heavy stones piled on him to try to force a plea. After two days, he died — a week after his 81st birthday. 

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Hanging of Elizabeth "Betsey" Reed in 1845. Illinois' First Female Serial Killer.


In historical writing and analysis, PRESENTISM is the introduction of present-day ideas and perspectives into depictions or interpretations of the past. I believe presentism is a form of cultural bias, and it creates a distorted understanding of the subject matter. Reading modern notions of morality into the past is committing the error of presentism. I'm well aware that historical accounts are written by people and can be slanted, so I try my hardest to present articles that are fact based and well researched, without interjecting any of my personal opinions.


The commotion coming from inside a dilapidated cabin in the heart of the forest near Lawrenceville, Illinois, on the Embarras River in late December 1824 was loud enough to keep all manner of wildlife at bay. A clay pitcher shattered through a dirty window, and the sound of two people arguing echoed over the ancient mass of pine and fir trees surrounding the crude dwelling.

Elizabeth Fail, a painfully thin, fifteen-year-old girl, flung the door of the cabin open and tried to exit. Her face was swollen and bruised, and her lip was bleeding. She was halfway outside when she was jerked back into the cabin by an unshaven brute of a man with eyes inflamed by whisky. He knocked Elizabeth onto the floor and kicked her hard in the side. She struck a table filled with dishes, food, and a kerosene lamp, and they fell onto the floor as she struggled to crawl to a corner of the shabby, one-room structure. The plates, cups, and lamp broke into pieces when they hit the hard ground and the kerosene spilled out of the busted glass dome. 


The enraged man picked up a Barlow style pocket knife protruding out of a hunk of cooked deer meat lying on the floor and advanced toward Elizabeth. Her eyes were wide with terror. She screamed as he carved the left side of her face with the knife. Blood gushed everywhere. In between stabbings Elizabeth managed to punch him in the throat with all the strength she had. The out of control thug grabbed his throat and dropped the knife. His knees buckled and he gasped for air. Elizabeth quickly made her way to the stone fireplace and snatched up a long, iron rod, the end of which had been lying in the fire and was flaming red hot. She held the piece of metal out in front of her, ready to strike the man should he get on his feet again and come after her. 

Antique Barlow Pocket Knife.
Elizabeth was a fountain of blood as she raced to the door. The injured man caught her leg before she could leave, and she hit him over the head with the iron rod. He let go of her and slowly sank into the floor. Elizabeth anxiously waited for him to come to, but he was unconscious and motionless. She threw the iron rod down next to the table and the spilled kerosene. The heated end ignited the liquid and set the table on fire. Panicked, Elizabeth turned and hurried out the cabin.  

Leaves from low hanging tree limbs smacked Elizabeth’s arms and bleeding face as she ran away from the violent scene. A flash of light and the sound of roaring flames prompted her to stop and look back. The cabin was engulfed by fire. The man Elizabeth left behind staggered out the door of the cabin, brutally burned. She watched in horror as he collapsed, still burning, and died.


Elizabeth "Betsey" Reed
A Daguerreotype (1840s and 1850s)
photograph which came before Tintype photos.
Elizabeth “Betsey” Fail was born in Purgatory Swamp[1], south of Palestine, Illinois, in the fall of 1807. She was the youngest among seven children her parents Abraham and Sarah had, and history records her life as difficult from the moment she entered the world. The Fails were poor farmers. The fertile land near the Wabash River where they lived was stubborn and could only be subdued with vigorous cultivation. Crops were often washed away by flood waters or overtaken by insects. Abraham struggled to keep his family clothed and fed. By the time Elizabeth turned nine her parents decided that anyone in the home unable to strenuously work the fields as needed would have to go. A peddler traveling through Lawrence County in 1815 offered to take Elizabeth with him if the Fails were willing. Sarah agreed but demanded a cast-iron skillet and five pounds of lard in exchange for her daughter. 

The green-eyed, auburn-haired girl scarcely understood what the peddler expected of her when she was traded again to another man at a make-shift camp near the Embarras River. Elizabeth’s new guardian was a gambler who mistreated her. After several years of being abused, she fought back. The physical altercation resulted in the gambler’s death. Elizabeth fled the burning cabin where he lay and hid herself in the woods at various points along the river’s bank. In time the deep cuts on her face healed; a long scar that extended from her left cheekbone to the center of her chin bore witness to the struggles she had endured. 


Elizabeth found employment at a boarding house in Logansport, Indiana, some one hundred and eighty miles from the place she was born. The establishment was a frequent stop for immigrants traveling up and down the Wabash and Eel Rivers that converged near the town. Historians speculate this is where she met her first husband John Stone. The couple was married for ten years. Stone had a series of odd jobs. Elizabeth educated herself in the practice of midwifery and learned how to cure a variety of ailments using herbs and other natural remedies. Quiet and aloof, she kept her pale and scarred face covered with a bonnet and handkerchief style veil. Her conspicuous manner of dress and reserved demeanor made her a mysterious figure to those she came in contact.


It is not known how old Elizabeth was when Stone left her, only that she returned to Lawrence County after he departed. She then met and married Leonard Reed a native of Barren County, Kentucky, who owned a small farm south of Palestine, Illinois. According to the August 18, 1932, edition of the Lawrence County News, Reed was a “thin, frail man with salt and pepper hair, an oversized nose and a perpetual smile.”  Born in 1795, Reed was twelve years older than Elizabeth. In addition to raising wheat and corn he was also a trapper. The pair lived in a rustic cabin and apart from Leonard’s niece, sixteen year old Eveline Deal; few knew much of anything about the Reed’s personal life. It wasn’t until the summer of 1844 that the pair became the focus of attention. (
Some newspaper accounts of the incident state that Eveline Deal was not related to the Reeds but that she was simply a neighbor and friend helping to care for Leonard.)
Elizabeth was peculiar to most in the community. Because she concocted treatments for various sicknesses using items such as bark from trees and bits of the internal parts of animals, and because she kept her face mostly hidden, some believed she was a witch. When Reed was not seen for a long period of time working his land or tending to his traps, it was rumored that Elizabeth had put a hex on him to make him violently ill. Reed was sick, but Eveline told curious neighbors that dark magic was not to blame. She did suspect her aunt was responsible. She claimed that Elizabeth and her uncle had quarreled and that Elizabeth had poisoned him. After Reed languished for three days, a Lawrence County doctor named James Logan was called to the home to examine him.  The doctor determined the man was close to death but could not find a reason for his declining health. He prescribed some medicine for Reed and asked his wife and niece to make sure he took it. Doctor Logan promised to call on his patient again in a few days to monitor his condition. 

Eveline sat beside her uncle on the bed and dabbed beads of sweat off his tortured face with a damp cloth. Elizabeth prepared a pot of sassafras tea and helped her husband drink a cup of the brew. His situation did not improve. He died on August 19, 1844.


Arsenic Powder
According to the Mt. Vernon Register News, Reed’s funeral was well attended. Neighbors expressed their sympathy to his widow. Elizabeth nodded politely but said very little about her husband and his passing. After the ceremony she returned to the cabin alone. She barely had a time to adjust to life without Reed when Eveline made a public accusation that her aunt poisoned her uncle and that she had witnessed the crime. The teenager told law enforcement officials that Elizabeth slipped some white powder into Reed’s tea. Eveline suspected the powder to be arsenic, and she gave police a small piece of butcher paper she said contained the deadly powder. When tested by authorities the paper proved to have contained arsenic. 

Elizabeth looked on in silence as Eveline escorted the sheriff and his deputies into the cabin and walked them through what occurred the night she believed her uncle was given the dose of poison that took his life. She said her aunt kept paper filled with arsenic in the cupboard. After depositing the fatal dose into Reed’s tea, Eveline noticed Elizabeth toss the paper out of the cabin. Eveline’s suspicions were greatly aroused, and she snuck outside after dark and retrieved the paper. The authorities searched the crude home thoroughly and found a similar piece of paper with a small amount of arsenic left inside. 


According to court records, authorities decided to arrest Elizabeth after two county physicians had Reed’s body exhumed, examined, and then determined he had died as a result of chronic arsenic poisoning. In order for physicians to establish that he had been poisoned, they had to convert body tissue and fluids into arsenic gas. It was estimated that Reed was poisoned over the course of a week and died in great agony. The doctor’s report combined with the witness’ statement was enough to take Elizabeth into custody. Further investigation led to the discovery of the location where Elizabeth purchased the arsenic. The druggist at a mercantile in Russellville, a village in Lawrence County, Illinois, remembered selling Elizabeth the poison. He claimed she was in disguise when she came into the store, but authorities believe he mistook her natural state of dress, the low hanging bonnet and kerchief style veil over her face, as a disguise. 


Court records show that all evidence compiled by authorities was presented to a grand jury, and they found that Elizabeth was responsible for Reed’s death. According to their report, “Elizabeth Reed, not having the fear of God before her eyes but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the Devil” had murdered her husband with a mixture of white arsenic and sassafras tea.”  The motivation for the crime was not clear, and Elizabeth did nothing to help the case that was against her. She offered no defense and refused to speak to anyone who asked her questions about her late husband. Public sentiment was not in her favor either. Many of the people in the area saw her as cold-blooded and unfeeling. They didn’t doubt she murdered Reed. 


Elizabeth was held at a jail in Palestine, Illinois. Those who believed the dark, brooding woman was guilty of the crime of murder stood outside the building and demanded that the authorities release Elizabeth to them so they could lynch her. She watched the angry crowd from her cell window, never voicing an objection.


Although she did not display any emotion to the public over her desperate circumstances, she was anxious to escape the ordeal. The proof of that came when she attempted to break out of jail by setting fire to it. The blaze was subdued before it got out of control and Elizabeth could get away. Deputies who had searched the prisoner before placing her in the cell claimed to not know how she started the fire. Supposedly she had nothing in her possession that could set off even a spark. When news that she apparently started a fire from nothing reached Palestine, residents were all the more convinced Elizabeth was a witch. Court records note residents believed Elizabeth was “practicing in the art of the occult and had summoned flames from the pit of hell.”  

People were afraid of Elizabeth, and her attorneys, August French and Usher Linder, did not believe any impartial individuals could be found in Palestine to serve on a jury. They petitioned the court for a change of venue. Before it was granted authorities kept Elizabeth chained to a bed in the sheriff’s cabin. Since she attempted to burn down the jail there was no other place to keep prisoners. 
After more than a nine month wait, Elizabeth was transferred to Lawrenceville. The prosecution and defense teams estimated the hearing would take three days to complete. According to the Mt. Vernon Register News, Judge William Wilson oversaw the case, and the prosecuting attorney was Aaron Shaw. Wilson was a farmer as well as judge from Carmi, Illinois. He was a well-respected chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court and the father of ten children. 

News of Elizabeth’s trial spread throughout Illinois and even reached papers in the New York area. Readers of the article were shocked by the tale of such calculated murder and followed the case closely as it progressed. According to the court records witnesses testifying against Elizabeth were James Logan, the attending physician, Eveline Deal, and the two physicians who examined Reed after his death. Logan was the first to take the stand when the trial started in late April 1845. He told the jury that Reed died of “inflammation of the stomach, induced by some poisonous drug.”  He reported that when he examined Reed the day he passed away that his stomach was in a state of “incipient mortification.”  Although he had no personal knowledge that Elizabeth purchased arsenic from the store in Russellville, he felt certain she did acquire poison from the location.


Eveline Deal’s statement about Elizabeth’s actions leading up to her uncle’s alleged murder proved to be most damning. “I saw Mrs. Reed take a small paper of white powder and she put it in a cup of sassafras tea and she gave it to Mr. L. Reed,” she testified. “That seemed to make him very sick and caused him to vomit immediately…she emptied the powder from the paper. I believe she intended to throw it out of the door but it fell on the doorstep. I took up the paper and looked between two glass tea plates that sat in the cupboard and the same place that I saw her take the powder from and there I found another paper… the same kind of paper… along with pieces of an old book leaf that was considerably smoked. The first opportunity I gave them [the pieces of paper] to authorities.”


Once Eveline left the stand the two physicians that examined Reed after his demise were called to tell what they knew. Both testified that Reed’s death was caused by the internal use of arsenic. Court records do not show that anyone was called to champion Elizabeth. She was not allowed to take the stand because her lawyer felt she might incriminate herself, but she vehemently declared her innocence from the defendant’s table where she sat during the trial. No amount of protesting could sway the opinion of the judge and the all-male jury. On April 29, 1845, Elizabeth was found to be guilty of murder and sentenced to be hanged. Confined to the small jail cell until the date of her hanging on May 23, 1845, Elizabeth decided the wait to be intolerable. In an effort to expedite her death she began eating rocks and pieces of mortar from the cell walls. The desperate actions did not bring about her death; it only caused her to become sick.


Her confession was published in a small pamphlet which was not distributed until after her death. The pamphlets were sold, but not a copy can now be found.

Victims (according to “confession” report):
1. Child No. 1, starved to death.
2. Child No. 2, starved to death.
3. Unknown name adult No. 1, poisoned to death.
4. Unknown name adult No. 2, poisoned to death.
5. Nephew, murdered.
6. August 15, 1844 – Leonard Reed, husband, died

Just after daybreak on May 23, 1845, Elizabeth was led to the gallows located a mile from the courthouse where her trial was held. According to eye witnesses at the scene Elizabeth was transported to the spot she was to be hanged on the back of a wagon. She was dressed in a long, white robe given to her by the local minister and his wife. The garment was reported to have once belonged to one of the members of a religion known as the Millerites. The Millerites, who lived and worshipped in the Lawrenceville area, believed the second coming of Christ was to occur in 1843. They each made white robes for their journey. When the event did not come about on that exact date the group disbanded. The minister who attended to Elizabeth’s spiritual needs during her incarceration felt it was fitting she wear one of the robes to meet her Maker. It was his contention that Elizabeth had “confessed her crimes to him, sought and was granted forgiveness from the creator.”

The Mt. Vernon Register News reported that more than twenty thousand people were on hand to witness the execution. They watched Elizabeth ride to the scene seated on the very coffin in which she was to be buried. It was a bright and balmy morning, and Elizabeth was singing hymns of praise as she was led to the gallows. 


John Seed, a well-known Methodist preacher, delivered a ninety minute sermon to the crowd of on-lookers about the need for their salvation. At the conclusion of the message a noose was placed around Elizabeth’s neck and a black hood was draped over her head. When the executioner activated the lever attached to the trap door, the accused fell through to her death. The Mt. Vernon Register News noted that she “revolved several times, but did not struggle much.”  


After Elizabeth’s passing the community debated over a motive for why she killed her husband. According to the Mt. Vernon Register News, some insisted she was involved with another man and wanted Leonard out of the way so she could live a new life. Some stated that Leonard found out Elizabeth was an outlaw who had murdered a man and burned his remains, and still others maintained it was Leonard that was involved with another, and Elizabeth had caught him in the act. 


Betsey's body was moved to a small cemetery, called Baker, outside of Heathsville. She was buried next to her husband Leonard and they share a headstone. Under Leonard's name, it reads 'death by murder', while under hers, it reads 'death by hanging'.

Elizabeth Reed was the first woman in the United States to be publicly executed and the only woman executed by hanging in Illinois. 

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.



[1] Purgatory Swamp was flooded land between the Wabash and Embarras Rivers. It was difficult and dangerous to pass through at any season of the year. The building of levees to confine the waters of these rivers successuflly drained the prairie land leaving the land with very fertile soil.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Fort LaMotte (1812-1817) and Fort Foot (1813-?), Palestine, Illinois.

FORT LAMOTTE
This area reminded Frenchman John LaMotte of Palestine, the land of milk and honey. While a member of the René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle (or: René-Robert de La Salle) exploring party, he became separated from the group, traveled down the Wabash River, and first gazed upon the region in 1678. Other French settlers came during the 18th Century. John's property was known as the LaMotte Prairie.
There were two Fort LaMottes. When the first settlers moved into this area they would have constructed a blockhouse for their safety. There are letters from William Henry Harrison Sr., the future 9th President of the United States, dated 1807, the Governor of the Indian Territory (1801-1812) requiring all settlements to have a small fort or blockhouse constructed.
A typical settlement fort and blockhouse from the turn of the 19th century.
Fort LaMotte recreation - Palestine, Illinois.
The first American settlers arrived on LaMotte Prairie in the Palestine area in 1809. Palestine was chartered in 1811 making it one of the oldest communities in the state of Illinois.

The earliest benchmark we have of a defense on LaMotte Prairie is in the John Tipton papers. Tipton was part of Spire Spencer’s mounted rifle corps known as the Yellow Jackets. They were from Harrison County, Indiana. They protected the west flank of Harrison’s army as it moved from Vincennes up to Tippecanoe and protected the barge that was going up the Wabash River with heavy supplies.

Tipton kept a diary and noted that on Sept. 28, 1811, they crossed LaMotte Creek and saw a blockhouse on the prairie. This was day two of the Tippecanoe campaign. So there was a settlement in the Palestine area at least prior to Sept 28, 1811. The blockhouse was burned on Sept. 21, 1812.

Then, in 1812, the westward moving Americans began constructing Fort LaMotte which was a fort built by Baptists at Palestine, Illinois, for protection from hostile Indians. It was a durable, sturdy stockade enclosing approximately 100 feet x 100 feet with a single blockhouse in one corner, a commander's cabin, two lean-to shelters, and a water well. 

The pioneers farmed the adjoining land but stayed within easy reach of the protective walls. It was the site of the Battle of 'Africa Point'[1] in the War of 1812, one of few battles of the war in the Illinois Territory. During the War of 1812 there were 26 families living in Fort LaMotte, and 90 rangers under the command of frontier officer Captain Pierce Andrews.
Fort LaMotte has been re-created at Palestine in Crawford County.
Settlers families only "Forted" during Indian scares. One of the undesirable "agonies" of the time was moving to and from away from the Fort in responses to succeeding alarms. They also had to move their livestock, pets and personal belongings -- back and forth. The life of settlers on the frontier was one of constant peril and alarm.

Considering frontier conditions, Fort LaMotte occupied a vital position nearby, two common routes of travel. One route was by the Wabash River and the other by an old buffalo trail used by Indians and whites, which had been in existance far back in time. That was "The Vincennes Trace." There was another related trail sometimes called the same name, between Vincennes and the Mississippi but it has possibly been referred to by other names more often. The two trails merged into one at Vincennes, extending with branches again, far into the south. Buffalo crossed the Wabash at about the site of the Clark Memorial Bridge, some of the beasts going west and others taking a fork going north towards salt licks around Danville on the Vermillion River and tempting prairie grasses all along their path to Lake Michigan for the Buffalo. The only reminder of "The Vincennes Trace" is in Chicago where a street on the old path is named "Vincennes Avenue." In this connection a short street in Palestine, called "Vincennes Avenue" may also stand in tribute to the old buffalo road.

The Fort LaMotte was in use through 1817. After the War of 1812 ended in 1815 and the Indian threat diminished, the inhabitants of the fort became the nucleus of Palestine.


The exact location of Fort LaMotte has never been marked, however, the approximate location has been well established. It was on farmland east of Leaverton Street, Palestine's current eastern corporate boundary; and it was a short distance east and slightly south of that end of East LaMotte Street. LaMotte Street must surely have been given its name because it led to Fort LaMotte although no record can be found supporting this speculation.


Platted in 1818 by Joseph Kitchell and Edward Cullom, the settlement served as the Crawford County Seat 
until 1843. The growth of the town lagged until a United States Land Office, opened in 1820 and operated until 1855. Settlers from as far as Chicago came here to file on Homesteads.

Young Abraham Lincoln passing through Palestine in 1839 with his family in emigrant wagons. At Palestine, on the Illinois side of the Wabash, Lincoln remembered seeing a large crowd around the United States Land Office, and a travelling juggler performing sleight-of-hand tricks. The Lincoln family stayed over night, then moved on to Decatur, Illinois.
The Lincolns crossed the Wabash River from Vincennes, Indiana to Palestine on the Illinois side; known as "The Vincennes Trace." Looking west across the Wabash River towards Illinois.
The Land Office continued to give prominence to Palestine. Robert A. Kinzie (the son of John Kinzie) came in 1831 to purchase 102 acres for $127.68, an area which became the nucleus of Chicago. Augustus C. French (1808-1864) served as a Receiver in the Land Office from 1839 to 1843. A native of New Hampshire, he was the first "Yankee" to be elected Governor of Illinois. Chosen in 1846, French was forced to stand for re-election under the new Constitution of 1848 and won.

The railroad came through Palestine in the 1870s bringing increased traffic and trade to the area. The village grew and prospered. In addition to the railroad, Palestine possessed a depot, roundhouse, a busy train yard, a river port and a grain mill.

FORT FOOT

As Fort LaMotte filled with settlers quickly, a second fort was completed in the spring of 1813. The William Eaton family and other pioneer families desiring more room moved a few miles to the Northwest and established the "LaMotte Station," or as written in territorial papers "Fort Lemot," which was constructed on a site at IL-33 (East Main Street) at the west city limits. It's unknown when Fort Lemot became know as Fort Foot.

The family trait of the Eatons was large feet which led to the name of Fort Foot.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.



[1] Battle of Africa Point - On April 18, 1813, during the fortification phase of Fort LaMotte, two barrel coopers Isaac Brimberry and Thomas Kennedy went up 'Africa Point,' a knoll surrounded by swamp on the Wabash River, to procure some wood suitable for making barrels. They came across Indian canoes pulled on the shore of the river. Both Brimberry and Kennedy reported their sightings to the Fort LaMotte commander, Captain Pierce Andrews.


Andrews sent up a squad of skirmishers with the timber party to keep an eye on the Indians. The rangers divided themselves into two groups, a six-man party going in advance while the others stayed back and acted as a reserve. On 'Africa Point' the advance group was ambushed and fired upon by the Kickapoo Indians. During the ensuing battle, the American party retreated suffering 4 dead and the 2 badly wounded who escaped back to the fort. Upon hearing rifle fire, the rear guard fell back to the fort as well. Five Indians were killed.