Thursday, August 30, 2018

Fort Nonsense, Will County, Joliet, Illinois (1832)

While the Black Hawk war was raging in 1832, the few settlers who remained to keep their homestead claims, built a fort in the present city limits of Joliet, which they called "Fort Nonsense." The fort was labeled “Fort Nonsense” because it was constructed without provision for obtaining basic necessities such as food, fuel, and fresh water.

The fort was built on the homestead of Mr. Jesse Cook, which stood on a bluff overlooking the west side of the Desplaines River in today's Joliet, near the current site of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church and School at 310 N. Broadway Street. The fort was near the “old settler’s cave,” used for protection against Indians in the early settlement of the area.
The fort was of the stockade order, approximately 100 square feet in size, with a blockhouse at the northeast corner and fenced in upright logs (vertically) set in the ground, and about eighteen feet high.
"The hill was the shape of a round knob; difficult to ascent in those days. The bluff at the right was broken and abrupt, and a silvery cascade during some seasons of the year, with a cedar lined dell, formed a picturesque background. The fort was of the stockade order, with a blockhouse at the northeast corner, projecting beyond the stockade, with portholes for downward as well as "straight-out" shooting. This was built by a part of the regiment which was sent to the relief of the settlers from Danville, through the efforts of Gurdon S. Hubbard, who was there at the time." (unknown author)

The fort was torn down soon after it was built, but ironically, the blockhouse of Fort Nonsense was used as one of Joliet’s first schoolhouses. The first school was taught in Mr. Reeds cabin in the winter of 1832. For the 1833 school year, Miss Persis Cleveland taught school in the Fort Nonsense blockhouse.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

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