Monday, March 25, 2019

The checkered past of Cave-In-Rock on the Ohio River in Hardin County, Illinois.

Hardin County in Illinois was formed in 1839, but the natural centerpiece of the whole county was first seen by European eyes a hundred years before. In 1739, the French explorer & surveyor, M. Chaussegros de Léry, charted the course of the Ohio River, found, mapped and named it "Caverne dans Le Roc" or in English, the Cave-In-Rock.

The cave had, of course, been in existence for thousands of years. It was worn into the bluffs by Ohio River flooding, probably extensively during the melting following the Wisconsin Ice Age which ended about 10,000 years ago. The effects of the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquake (7 and 7.5 on today's Richter scale) may have further contributed to the formation of the cave.
Many caves are the topics of stories told about the happenings in and around the premise. Possibly no cave, though, has more stories and legends told about it than this cave! Cave-In-Rock outlaws, pirates and counterfeiters reined for fifty years beginning in 1790. As is true with most legends, facts are few and sometimes even local folklore is hard to document in any credible way. However, legend holds that notorious counterfeiters Philip Alston and John Duff used the cave as a meeting place in the 1790s. 

Through a relationship with Duff, Samuel Mason moved his base of operations to Cave-In-Rock in 1797. Mason had been a Revolutionary War militia captain and later served as an associate judge in Pennsylvania, before moving his family to Kentucky. After arriving in Kentucky, Samuel Mason became the leader of a gang of river pirates and highwaymen outlaws who wreaked havoc around Cave-In-Rock, Stack Island (a point on the Mississippi River about 200 miles north of New Orleans) and along the Natchez Trace. Mason’s gang’s practice was to rob travelers going down the rivers. They also pirated boats carrying merchandise and supplies down the rivers. It was common practice for men to move supplies down the rivers, abandon the flatboats at the end of their journey, then return home along the Natchez Trace. If the Mason gang missed robbing them on one of the great rivers, they’d have yet another opportunity to rob them on land along the Natchez Trace.

Samuel Mason used Cave-In-Rock as a central point of his base of criminal operations which stretched all the way to New Orleans. His tavern in the cave created an easy lure for travelers to stop as they passed by, but the combination with gambling den, brothel and refuge for criminals made it the perfect trap.

There is some belief that the first recorded serial kills in American history might have spent time at Cave-In-Rock. Micajah and Wiley Harpe, known as “Big” and “Little” Harpe, were active during the last decade of the 18th Century. The Harpe brothers (who may actually have just been cousins) spread killing and despair wherever they went. While they operated primarily in Kentucky and Tennessee, there are some accounts of their horrible activities on the Illinois side of the Ohio River.

“Big” Harpe was the first of these three bandits to lose his head to captors, but eventually Samuel Mason and “Little” Harpe were captured, killed and beheaded. Their heads and skulls were left in strategic places in plain view to deter any future outlaws. Their departure only made way for the next generation of thieves and counterfeiters!

In the early 1800s, the Sturdivant Gang and the Ford’s Ferry Gang made appearances in the region. The Sturdivant Gang originated in Colonial Connecticut and by 1810, third generation counterfeiter Roswell S. Sturdivant lead his gang, which was primarily based in St. Clair County Illinois, but also occupied a fortress in nearby Pope County. The Ford’s Ferry Gang had a more local foundation. James Ford (1770-1833) was a business and community leader in Kentucky and Southern Illinois, in the areas on both sides of the Ohio River. The other side of his dual personality was that of a gang leader, and his bandits high-jacked flatboats for a couple decades!

Two of the most colorful characters in our story are perhaps Isaiah Potts and his wife Polly who owned a tavern, Pott's Inn, near Ford’s Ferry. Ferry goers would depart the boat then take the short trek to the tavern as they ventured inland. It was a common occurrence for the travelers to be attacked, robbed and killed along the route to the tavern. 
This photograph of Pott's Inn, was taken in the 1920s by Cave-In-Rock.
Although one descendent of Isaiah and Polly believe their behavior has been highly exaggerated over the years, there is one story that seems to live on. Did they murder their own son, when he returned after having been gone for years? While there is no credible evidence, legend holds that young Billy Potts left home after having been caught by locals while in the act of murder. Young Potts changed his ways and prospered. He returned home after many years, but his parents didn’t recognize their well-dressed son and lured him to the infamous spring for a drink, robbed and murdered him. They buried him, as they had often done, in a shallow nearby grave. The next day, friends of Billy Potts came looking for him and described having seen him the day he got off the ferry. Isaiah and Polly realized what they had done. They dug up his grave and found a young man bearing a birthmark just like their son had. If it is true; it is a sad ending.

Happily, outlaw folklore isn’t the only history associated with Cave-In-Rock! Although not too highly revered today as a highly educated researcher or author, in 1833 Josiah Priest wrote about cave paintings he observed at Cave-In-Rock. Priest described the paintings to include plants, animals, humans and the sun, moon and stars. He described the humans as wearing clothing similar to that worn by the early Greeks or Romans. He wrote, "On the Ohio, twenty miles below the mouth of the Wabash, is a cavern, in which are found many hieroglyphics, and representations of such delineations as would induce the belief that their authors were, indeed, comparatively refined and civilized."

In 1848, another writer visited the cave. William Pidgeon was a well-known antiquarian and archaeologist. He became famous for his 1858 work, Traditions of Dee-Coo-Dah and Antiquarian Research, although at a later time his work was critically deemed to be partly almost science fiction. He described the curious pictographs at Cave-In-Rock as humans that looked like ancient Egyptians. Pidgeon wrote about his belief because of artifacts he had found, that there was an entire network of a mound-builder race occupying sites in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota. At the time, many in the science community made fun of him. In the past 150 years, history and prehistory have unfolded themselves and we now know that the Ohio River Scenic Byway region was just such a place!

The pictographs described by Pidgeon and Priest have long been destroyed, but more recent graffiti tells the stories of other visitors to the cave. In 1913, the Ohio River flooded and B.C. Cole paddled his boat into the cave, stood up and carved his name into the ceiling of the cave.

In 1929, Illinois bought the 64.5 acres of land that includes the cave. Additional parcels were purchased later and all combined form the current 200-acre Cave-In-Rock State Park. The beautiful park stretches from the Ohio River’s shoreline to the top of a 60 foot tall bluff. It is maintained by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the lodge and cabins are managed by Marty Kaylor, a Cave-In-Rock lifetime resident. Kaylor recently reported that IDNR reports that in 2012, 514,000 visited Cave-In-Rock State Park. Kaylor said number that showed a significant increase over the 2010 number of 227,000 people.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Wonderland (Amusement) Park, Danville, Illinois (South) / Tilton, Illinois

Wonderland Park was built circa 1903, by William B. McKinley, chief executive of the Illinois Traction System.
Wonderland Amusement Park was only open on Sundays. Round trip fare was 10 cents. Admission was free if you presented your round trip ticket for the interurban train. There were baseball games during the week but none of the rides or other attractions were open.
Note the misspelling of "Shoot the Chutes" on this postcard.
There was a Minor League Baseball team (class D), the "Danville Old Soldiers" listed as playing in Wonderland Park in 1906. 

The name Wonderland Park was changed to Wayside Park in 1907.

An article in the Danville Daily Democrat of June 16, 1907, describes it this way: 
"With pretty flowers, green grass, newly painted buildings, a handsome merry-go-round, which has cost $3,000 to place, practically new roller-coaster, a penny arcade not excelled outside of Chicago, a handsome new Nickelodeon, a theater filled with the stellar lights of comic opera, four additional small shows, cages of fine animals from the provinces of Brazil, eating-stands and dozens of new features which have been added to the old ones which stood in Wonderland Park last year, the new Wayside far overshadows anything ever shown in this or any other city in the state, even twice the size of Danville."
According to an article in the Danville Press-Democrat, Wayside Park was dismantled in April of 1909

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.


Thank you Leann Stine of the Danville Public Library, for adding information about Wonderland Park. 

Marguerite Stitt Church, Congresswoman.

After years of assisting the political career of her husband, Ralph Church, and working for various charities, Marguerite Stitt Church won election to the House of Representatives to succeed Congressman Church after his death in 1950. Congresswoman Church sought and gained a seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, traveling to more than 40 countries and seeing firsthand how U.S. foreign aid was employed in them.
Marguerite Stitt was born in New York City on September 13, 1892, the daughter of William and Adelaide Stitt. She developed an interest in foreign countries at an early age when her parents took her abroad each summer as a child. She attended St. Agatha School in New York City and, later, as a member of Phi Beta Kappa, earned an A.B. in psychology with a minor in economics and sociology from Wellesley College in 1914. After graduation, she taught a biblical history course at Wellesley for a year before enrolling in a masters program in economics and sociology at Columbia University. She completed her graduate degree in 1917 and worked for a year as a consulting psychologist with the State Charities Aid Association of New York City. 

In 1918, she traveled to Chicago and met Illinois state legislator Ralph Church. The couple married that December and settled in Evanston, Illinois, where they raised three children: Ralph, William, and Marjory. Marguerite Church worked in a succession of organizations devoted to family and children’s welfare. In 1934, Ralph Church was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives to the first of seven terms in a seat representing the densely populated suburbs just north of Chicago. Marguerite embarked with him on investigative trips, making her own speaking tour on behalf of Republican presidential campaigns in 1940 and 1944. During and after World War II, at her husband’s request, she made several inspection tours of Europe. In Washington she served as president of the Congressional Club, a group of wives and daughters of Members of Congress, the Cabinet, and the Supreme Court. But she later recalled that while he was alive she never seriously considered a political career. “My political life was one of adaptation to his life,” Church observed. Nevertheless, her experience as a congressional spouse was critical to her later success, making her “a realist as regards the practical operation of Congress.”

Ralph Church died suddenly of heart failure during a House committee hearing in March 1950. Shortly thereafter, GOP leaders in Illinois persuaded Marguerite Church to run for her husband’s vacant seat. “If a man had been nominated and made a mistake, you would have said he is stupid,” Church said at the time. “If I make a mistake, you will say she is a woman. I shall try never to give you reason to say that.” In the general election that fall, she defeated Democrat Thomas F. Dolan with 74 percent of the vote. In her next five re–election bids, she was never seriously challenged, winning between 66 and 72 percent of the vote. “The [local GOP] organization, of course, never considered anybody else after I got in,” Church recalled. “They just went along.” Much of her success was due to her attention to district needs. She returned to Illinois frequently, opened her home to voters, and personally dictated replies to an average of 600 letters per week. Her cardinal rule was if anyone came asking for help, “never let yourself ask, ‘Is he a Republican or a Democrat?’…We never made any political distinction whatsoever, and I think that was one reason that in the long run people began to trust me.” Church’s independence also earned her the respect of colleagues.

When Church took her seat in the 82nd Congress (1951–1953), she was assigned to the Committee on Expenditures in Executive Departments (later Government Operations), where she chaired a special subcommittee investigating President Dwight Eisenhower’s reorganization of the Council of Economic Advisers. Church was instrumental in helping to pass recommendations offered by the Second Hoover Commission on efficiency in government. In 1957, Church supported the Civil Rights Bill. She also was one of the first Members to bring African–American guests into the House dining room, when she treated six young newsboys to lunch. Capitol staff told her she would never get through the door. “Well,” she replied, the boys have worked hard selling newspapers “and I certainly do not intend to tell them they can’t luncheon in the dining room of their own Capitol.” The group ate lunch in the dining room. Though not “militant about a woman’s rights,” Church supported women’s rights legislation, including the Equal Pay Bill. She encouraged women entering politics to think of themselves as public servants rather than advocates of feminism. She believed in “equal protection under the law for both men and women, period.”

Church left Government Operations in the 84th Congress (1955–1957) to focus exclusively on her Foreign Affairs Committee assignment (which she had received two years earlier). After winning re–election in 1952, she had been offered a spot on the prestigious Appropriations Committee, where her husband once sat and, in fact, where only one woman had previously served. The committee chairman made the offer, but Church declined. “I’m awfully sorry,” she replied. “I’ve spent all summer trying to persuade people that it would be a loss to the country if they didn’t put me on the Foreign Affairs Committee. That has become my major interest.” She later claimed that she did not want to accept an assignment that, she believed, was made partly as a tribute to her husband. She served on Foreign Affairs until she retired from Congress.

Church’s chief interests and influence flowed from her work on the Foreign Affairs Committee, where she was assigned to the Subcommittee on Foreign Economic Policy. She was a skeptic of large foreign–aid bills appropriated for many of America’s Cold War allies in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. “The idea that you can win friends and influence people merely by pouring out millions—and it’s amounted by this time to billions—never caught my attention or my faith,” she recalled. As a member of the Subcommittee on the Far East and the Pacific, she traveled widely to witness firsthand the implementation of American programs. “Some officials protested that this was no place for a lady,” Church told a reporter. “I told them I was not a lady. I was a Member of Congress.” In 1959, while Ranking Republican Member on the Foreign Economic Policy Subcommittee, she logged more than 40,000 miles in 17 countries. Her experience with a group of tribal women in a remote sub–Saharan African village shaped her view of how foreign aid should be targeted. “These women, I found, didn’t want guns; they didn’t want atomic plants; they didn’t want navies,” Church said. “They wanted someone who could show them the next step up from where they were to where they’d like to be.”

During the first year of the John F. Kennedy administration, that memory factored into her championing of the Peace Corps, which sought to provide educational and technological support to developing countries through the work of trained college–aged American volunteers. During a September 14, 1961, debate, seven–term Representative H.R. Gross of Iowa launched a verbal diatribe against the Peace Corps program. Gross described it as a “Kiddie Korps,” reminiscent of Hitler’s youth corps in Nazi Germany, and a “utopian brainstorm” that would exacerbate the U.S. deficit. In response, Congresswoman Church entered the well of the House to speak on behalf of the program, recounting her numerous trips abroad where she had seen foreign–aid dollars misspent and misdirected in the battle for the developing world. “Here is something which is aimed right,” Church told colleagues, “which is American, which is sacrificial—and which above all can somehow carry at the human level, to the people of the world, what they need to know; what it is to be free; what it is to have a next step and be able to take it; what it is to have something to look forward to, in an increase of human dignity and confidence.” A GOP colleague recalled that Church’s floor speech was critical in persuading a number of reluctant Republicans to support the measure. “You quite literally could see people who had been uncertain or perhaps who had already decided to vote against the Peace Corps sit there, listen to her very quietly and start to rethink,” Representative Catherine May of Washington State said.” Later that afternoon, the Peace Corps legislation passed the House by a wide margin, 288 to 97.

In 1962, as an advocate of mandatory retirement for Members of Congress and facing reapportionment in her district, Church set her own example by retiring at age 70 after the close of the 87th Congress (1961–1963) in January 1963. She worked on behalf of the Republican presidential campaigns of Barry Goldwater in 1964 and Richard M. Nixon in 1968. She later served on the boards of directors for the Girl Scouts of America and the U.S. Capitol Historical Society. In 1971, President Nixon selected Church to serve on the planning board for the White House Conference on Aging. 

Marguerite Church resided in Evanston, Illinois, where she died on May 26, 1990 at 97 years old.

By History, Art & Archives
Editor; Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Friday, March 15, 2019

The history of Illinois Training School for Nurses at Cook County Hospital, Chicago.

The Illinois Training School for Nurses (ITSN) was established September 21, 1880 by a group of prominent Chicago women dedicated to the prospect of training young women to care scientifically for the sick.
The old Cook County Hospital. Original building when school entered on May 1, 1881. Administration building (center) finished in 1882.
Twenty-five directors, all female, headed the project. Prominent among these were Sarah L. Wright, Dr. Sarah Hackett Stevenson, Margaret Lawrence, Lucy L. Flower, and Elizabeth B. Carpenter.
Illinois Training School for Nurses - Nurses Home.
Considerable political opposition to the plan was based on the belief that modest young women of good moral character were not suited for a profession which required a rigorous education, long hours of work, and intimate contact with strangers. However, on November 13, 1880, the Chicago Medical Society passed a resolution affirming its support for ITSN. On December 1, the Cook County Commissioners and the Training School reached an agreement that the county would pay the school to provide trained instructors and student nurses to staff one medical and one surgical ward of the Cook County Hospital.
Illinois Training School for Nurses student's room.
Illinois Training School for Nurses student's room.
On May 1, 1881 the first pupil nurses began working in the wards, replacing untrained male nurses who had held their positions through political appointments. Later that year, the school began providing nurses for the lying-in ward[1]. Other wards followed shortly: in 1882 all remaining female and medical wards; in 1883 the surgical wards; in 1893 the contagious disease hospital; in 1897 the skin and venereal wards. Eventually, ITSN provided nursing service for every ward of Cook County Hospital. Working so closely with one of the world's largest public hospitals, the Illinois Training School for Nurses attracted many prominent pioneers in nursing education. Superintendents of ITSN included Mary Brown and Edith Draper from New York's Bellevue Training School, Mary C. Wheeler, an early ITSN graduate, and Laura Logan, who helped establish the University of Cincinnati school of Nursing. Under the leadership of women like these, ITSN gradually added to its curriculum many special programs and pioneering innovations, including private nursing, a visiting nurses service, post-graduate and dieticians' programs, and affiliation with other nursing schools.

First graduates from the Illinois Training School for Nurses; Spring & Fall of 1883.
1) Sophie Falk, 2) Melissa J. Bartles, 3) Angie Bean, 4) Phebe Brown,
5) Anna Steere 6) Helen Nutting 7) Janet Topping
Private nursing was begun in April, 1883 as a service to the sick outside the hospital. Trained student nurses were dispatched to work full time in private homes, thus filling a genuine need within the community while simultaneously raising additional funds for the school.

Crerar nursing, begun in the fall of 1892 through a bequest of John Crerar, was a particularly important service in the years before the widespread activities of the Visiting Nurses Association. Crerar nurses, who were ITSN students, provided nursing care in the homes of low-income families who paid a minimal fee to the school. In this way, ITSN was able to provide a community service as it trained students. Private nursing and Crerar nursing were important public relations measures that helped create public support for a school which increasingly depended on contributions and bequests to purchase buildings and expand services and training.
Illinois Training School for Nurses - Nursery
In May, 1885, ITSN agreed to provide nurses for the Presbyterian Hospital. This service was interrupted in November for financial reasons but was resumed in 1888. It continued for fifteen years until 1903, when the increasing size of both Presbyterian and Cook County Hospitals made it impossible for ITSN to staff both facilities.

In 1895, ITSN began admitting a few post-graduate nurses. In 1920 a post-graduate course for dieticians was established, for which a college degree was a pre-requisite.
Medical staff including Dr. F.A. Besley holding infants at the Illinois Training School for Nurses.
Affiliation was begun in 1905. This program allowed students from smaller schools to spend their final year of training at ITSN, working in the wards of Cook County Hospital and gaining a breadth of experience unavailable in smaller hospitals. Dixon Hospital, Brokaw Hospital of Bloomington, Passavant of Chicago, and the Moline Hospital were some of the early participants in the program.

With its many special programs and innovations in the field of nursing education, ITSN was long interested in improving education for nurses and elevating their professional status. The quality of education at ITSN was consistently upgraded over the years through the addition of more required medical and scientific coursework, a greater breadth of practical experience in the hospital wards, and an increase in the length of time required to receive the nursing certificate, from 24 months to 36 months.
Illinois Training School for Nurses
Graduation Pin
In 1926, after much exploration of the issue, ITSN reached an agreement to merge its corporate identity with the University of Chicago (U of C). In return, U of C would later establish a nursing school which would award its graduates with a Bachelor of Science degree. ITSN continued to operate independently until 1929, when the merger took effect and ITSN ceased to exist. All ITSN property and assets reverted to the University of Chicago and ITSN contracts with the Cook County Commissioners were terminated.

The County Commissioners, who had relied almost entirely upon ITSN nurses to staff the Cook County Hospital, established its own training school to perform the same function. The County rented the former ITSN facilities from their new owner, the University of Chicago, hired the former ITSN faculty to staff the school, and allowed ITSN students to transfer with full credit to the Cook County School of Nursing (CCSN). Although CCSN appeared to be a continuation of ITSN, the Illinois Training School had actually ceased to exist as a corporate identity upon its legal merger with the University of Chicago. The name of the Illinois Training School for Nurses was to be perpetuated in a scholarship fund for the University of Chicago's School of Nursing.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

[1] Lying-in (or confinement) is an old childbirth practice involving a woman having bed rest in the postpartum period after giving birth.

ADDITIONAL READING
"History of the Illinois Training School for Nurses, 1880-1929." Published 1930.
In my Digital Research Library of Illinois History®

Anna Pierce Hobbs Bixby (1812–1873) was a midwife, frontier doctor, dentist, herbologist, and scientist in southern Illinois.

Anna Bixby
Anna Pierce was the daughter of farmers, who had moved from Philadelphia and in 1828 settled in southeastern Illinois, close to what would become the village of Rock Creek. After finishing school, Anna travelled to Philadelphia to train in midwifery and dentistry, but on her return to Illinois she became the first physician in Hardin County and consequently, a general practitioner for her community. Anna Bixby may also have been the first female doctor in the state of Illinois. Others claimed she was a midwife from Tennessee. She married to her first husband, Isaac Hobbs.

She did thorough research of milk sickness, which was causing a good deal of fatality among both people and calves, including Anna's mother and sister. Noting the seasonal nature of the disease and the fact that sheep and goat milk were not affected, she reasoned that the cause must be a poisonous herb. However, she was unable to determine the precise cause.
Dr. Anna Pierce Hobbs Bixby discovered that White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) or Milkweed  was the cause of milk sickness from grazing cows eating the wild plant which fatally poisoned the milk consumed by frontier settlers.
The solution to the problem came almost by accident when she chanced to meet in the woods an elderly Indian woman that the local people called “Aunt Shawnee.” She was a herbalist and healer and showed Anna a plant, White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima), that we now call “milkweed,” which had caused the same symptoms as the milk sickness did in her own tribe. The plant had killed many of the Shawnee cattle and she told Anna that it was probably what she was looking for.

Experiments on a calf confirmed the toxic effect of Snakeroot. When cattle consume the plant, their meat and milk become contaminated and cause the sometimes fatal condition milk sickness. The milk cows themselves did not fall ill but the other cattle, and the people, who drank their milk fell victim to the toxin.

One of the most notable and tragic cases of the "milk sickness" was that of Abraham Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, who died at 34 years old in 1818. As hard as she worked though, she was unable to stop the scourge.

The plague was finally wiped out. However, despite Bixby's efforts, it was not until 1928 (55 years after her death) that research confirming her discovery was published. Her position as a frontier doctor and a woman would have made it hard for her to gain respect from the medical profession of the time.

After Isaac Hobbs died, Anna Pierce Hobbs married her second husband, Eson Bixby, who turned out to be a notorious outlaw around the region of Cave-In-Rock, on the Ohio River.

Anna Hobbs Bixby died in Rock Creek, Hardin County, Illinois in 1873.

THE LEGEND OF ANNA BIXBY: Buried Treasure & Ghost
According to local legend, Anna Bixby left a treasure trove concealed in a cave named after her. The treasure is supposedly buried in Rock Creek, Hardin County, Illinois, and has never been found. 

The next great incident in Anna’s life, which took place during her second marriage to Eson Bixby, who it is believed was involved in a number of criminal enterprises. The legend does have some elements of truth, which originated in the book "The Ballads of the Bluff" by Judge W.M. Hall, who allegedly had a diary that belonged to Anna Bixby. Historians have since disputed much of the story, although it was believed that Hall was simply passing along stories that he had heard. Here is the basic version of the story:
Legend holds that John Murrell and his gang, along with James Ford and other disreputable characters, distilled whiskey and made counterfeit money (coiners) in Cave-in-Rock in Hardin County that has since become known as Bixby’s Cave. Enos Bixby, Anna’s husband, took over after these men were driven out or killed and continued their operations, along with committing robberies (river pirates) and stealing timber. Bixby married Anna when she was an old woman because he hoped to steal her money from her. Finally, he attempted to kill her by tying her up with ropes and heavy chain and pushing her off a bluff. As it happened though, she fell into a tree and managed to escape. Not long after, Anna died suddenly and she was buried with the rope and chain that her husband tried to kill her with. Her ghost has haunted her burial site ever since, often appearing as a shimmering light.
But, despite the popularity of the tale, it only contains elements of the truth. The time period when all of this allegedly occurred seems to be the biggest problem with the story. Bixby’s Cave did (and does still) exist, however after 1811 it is unlikely that it would have been big enough to house a moonshine distillery and certainly not a counterfeiting operation. The cave was heavily damaged in the 1811 earthquake that rocked the New Madrid Fault at that time and afterward was much less accessible than it had been before. Several of the men who were involved in the criminal aspects of the story were dead long before Anna married Eson Bixby and others who allegedly worked together were children during the time of the opposite criminal’s heyday. If the story had involved these men, then it would have had to have taken place in the 1820’s. This seems odd since Anna’s first husband died in 1845 and Anna survived to until 1873. 

On the other hand, recent historians believe that the story may have occurred in some fashion but it was told and re-told using well-known outlaws as the key players in the tale, when the real culprits may have been much lesser known. There were counterfeiters (coiners) operating in Hardin County at the time and it has been learned that Anna’s second husband was involved with criminals. 
Counterfeiters used a coin die, for the making counterfeit coins from cheap metals or restamping Mexican coin denomination.
In 1935, the Hardin County Independent newspaper published what was likely a more accurate account of Anna’s escape from her murderous husband. The writer of the account, Charles L. Foster, had left Hardin County in the 1880’s but had grown up in the Rock Creek area, a few homes away from Anna Bixby. He had been born in 1863 and vaguely remembered Eson Bixby when he was alive, which seems to date the escape to the late 1860’s, in the years following the Civil War. 

According to the account, a rider came to the Bixby household late one night during a terrible thunderstorm. He called out to the house that someone needed Anna’s medical skills and of course, she immediately came out. She mounted the rider’s second horse and they rode into the woods. The trail was shrouded in darkness, thanks to the heavy storm clouds overhead, and Anna soon became disoriented and unsure of their route. However, at one point during the ride, she looked over and when a flash of lighting illuminated the night, Anna saw the identity of the mysterious rider -- it was her husband Eson.

When he realized that she had discovered his identity, Bixby brought the horses to a halt and he quickly bound her hands and gagged her. It was obvious that he intended to do away with her and Anna began to panic. When she heard the jingle of chains being removed from his saddlebags, Anna became so frightened that she began to run, dashing into the dark woods. As she plunged into the forest, her fear became even stronger as she realized that she had no idea where she was. The storm continued to rage, sending rain lashing down on her and causing the wind to whip through the trees in a wild fury. Anna ran for some distance and then suddenly, the ground beneath her vanished and she tumbled over a large bluff and crashed to the ground far below. The fall broke the ropes that bound her hands but also broke some of her bones, seriously injuring her. Nevertheless, she managed to crawl a short distance to a fallen tree and slithered in behind it.

A few moments later, a light appeared in the darkness at the top of the bluff and Eson Bixby came into view carrying a burning torch. He climbed down from the top of the rocks and searched around for Anna, but he did not find her. After a few minutes, he returned to his horse and rode away. 

Once he was gone, Anna began crawling and stumbling out of the forest. It took her until sunrise to find a nearby farmhouse but when she reached it, she found herself at the doorstep of friends -- only a few houses away from her own. They quickly took her in and she told them the story of what had happened.

Bixby was soon arrested and taken to the jail in Elizabethtown. He escaped though and vanished for a time. He was later captured again in Missouri, but once again, he escaped. This time, he disappeared for good and was never seen again.

Anna lived in the Rock Creek community of Hardin County until 1873 when she died, she was buried next to her first husband and only a simple “A” was inscribed on her headstone. But there are those who believe that Anna, or at least her spirit, lives on.

The legend of Anna Bixby states that her husband wanted to do away with her because of a fortune that she had managed to collect over the years. What may have amounted to a “fortune” in those days may have been much smaller than what we would consider to be a fortune today, but most believe that it was a large amount of money. The legend further states that when Anna learned of Eson’s greed, she hid the money away somewhere, just before he attempted to do away with her. It is believed that the hiding place for the treasure was the cave beside Rock Creek in Hooven Hollow, which was also said to have been the hiding place of outlaw gangs. 

The cave is still known as Anna Bixby Cave today. Along the bluff, in the vicinity of the cave, where people have reported seeing a strange light appear over the years. The large, glowing light moves in and out of the trees and among the rocks, vanishing and then re-appearing without explanation. It is believed that the light may be that of Anna Bixby, still watching over the treasure that she hid away years ago.

One of the most detailed accounts of the Bixby ghost light was collected by folklorist Charles Neely in his 1938 book Tales & Songs of Southern Illinois. The story of the spooklight was told by Reverend E.N. Hall, a minister who once served the Rock Creek Church and who had a number of the brushes with the uncanny in this part of Hardin County. One evening in his younger days, Hall and a friend of his named Hobbs, walked over to a nearby farm to escort two of the girls who lived there to church. When they got to the house, they found no one home. It appeared that the girls left without them and the two young men stood around for a few moments, wondering what to do. 

They stood at the edge of the yard as they talked and looked toward the darkened house. The house itself stood on a short knoll with a hollow that ran away from the gate to the left for about 100 yards and then joined with another hollow that came back to the right side of the gate. Hobbs was looking eastward along the bluff when he saw what appeared to be a “ball of fire about the size of a washtub” going very fast along the east hollow.

At first, the young men thought that it might be someone on a horse carrying a lantern, then realized that it was moving much too fast for that. The light followed the hollow to the left of the gate and along a small curve where one hollow met the other. It followed the opposite hollow and came right up the bank where the two men were standing. It paused, motionless, about 30 feet away from them and began to burn down smaller and smaller and then turned red as it went out. Finally, it simply vanished.

The two young men decided not to go to church. They went directly to the farm where they had been working and went to bed. The next morning, at the breakfast table, they told Mr. Patten, the farmer they had been working for, what they had both seen the night before. He laughed at them and said that it had just been a “mineral light” carried by the wind. He had no explanation though for how fast the light had moved or for the fact that there had been no wind the previous evening. He could also not explain why the light seemed to follow the two hollows and then stop in place and burn out.

Later, Hall had the chance to speak with the woman who owned the farm, a Mrs. Walton, and to ask her what the light might have been. She then told him the story of Anna Bixby, who had owned the property before she had, and explained that to protect her money from her criminal husband, she had hidden her fortune in a cave that was located on the property. Mrs. Walton always believed that the spooklight was the ghost of Anna Bixby checking to see that her money was still hidden away. She had seen the light herself on many occasions, always disappearing into the cave.

Hall asked her, if she knew so well where Anna’s money was hidden, why she had never bothered to go and get it. “I would,” Mrs. Walton answered, “if I thought that Granny Bixby wanted me to have it.”

A historical marker has been mounted in Anna Bixby's honor at Cave-in-Rock, Illinois, near her home. 

In southern Illinois, the Anna Bixby Women's Center in Harrisburg, Illinois, gives shelter and services to area abused women and children.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Dr. Richard Eells', house was an Underground Railroad stop in Quincy, Illinois.

On Aug. 21, 1842, Dr. Richard Eells heard another knock at his back door. This time it was Charley standing there, his clothes still wet from his swim across the Mississippi River.
Dr. Richard Eells House, 415 Jersey Street, Quincy, Illinois, it is the oldest standing two-story brick house in Quincy, and used as an Underground Railroad Stop.
A few days earlier, the slave had run away from his owner, Chauncey Durkey of Monticello, Missouri. Dr. Eells had to act quickly, for he knew the slave catchers would be coming soon. Eells told Charley to wait for him in the carriage house. Eells then ran upstairs to his bedroom to get dry clothes for Charley.

Quincy was Stop Number One on the northern route of the Underground Railroad out of Missouri. From Quincy, slaves were quickly and secretly moved from one "station" (hiding place) to another, heading north and east to Chicago and eventually Canada, where slavery was no longer permitted. All "conductors" who helped the slaves go from one station to the next risked their own freedom and fortune, for aiding an escaped slave was breaking federal law.

Eells knew he could not hide Charley in his home at 415 Jersey Street. Just across the river lay Missouri, a slave state. At this time it was legal for slave catchers to leave their state and enter a free state (Illinois) to capture runaway slaves. The doctor had long been associated with the abolition movement in Illinois. In 1839 he had been elected as president of the Adams County Anti-slavery Society. In 1843 he would be elected president of the state anti-slavery society. His home would be the first place the slave catchers would look for the runaway slave.

Charley changed into the dry clothes while Eells prepared the carriage. They then headed east toward present-day 24th Street. The carriage turned north along the cemetery (today's Madison Park), apparently headed to the Mission Institute near 25th and Maine. The Mission Institute was run by Dr. David Nelson who trained Christian missionaries there.

At night it was a meeting place for abolitionists. Slave catchers were already near the area watching for the runaway. They saw the carriage of Dr. Eells approach, and saw Charley lift his head from beneath a buffalo robe. The men tried to stop the carriage, but to no avail. Charley jumped out of the carriage and ran across the cemetery. He was captured later that night and turned over to the brother of Chauncey Durkey. Dr. Eells swiftly turned his carriage around and returned home. Sadly, we know nothing more of what happened to Charley.

The Quincy Whig of Saturday, Aug. 27, 1842 reported: "The second day after the occurrences alluded to above – which was Tuesday last – a warrant was issued for the apprehension of Dr. Richard Eells – an old and respectable physician of this city, a well known abolitionist; in fact, one of the principal head men of this misguided sect in this county, and one of their candidates for the Legislature at the late election, on the charge of harboring, secreting, and assisting the slave spoken of to run away from his lawful owner."

Dr. Eells was released on bail and was to appear at the Circuit Court the next month. When his wife became ill, Dr. Eells requested that the trial be delayed. The state of Missouri, under Gov. Thomas Reynolds, requested that Eells be tried in Missouri, a dangerous situation for any abolitionist, to be tried in a slave state. Eells then used the Underground Railroad himself to go to the Chicago area for a while. In January 1843, Gov. Ford of Illinois signed the extradition order, to send Eells to be tried in Missouri, but because of so much abolitionist pressure within his own state, he rescinded the order in February 1843. Eells returned to Quincy. In April, 1843, Judge Stephen A. Douglas found Dr. Eells guilty and fined him $400. The case was to be appealed to the Illinois State Supreme Court. In February 1844, the State Supreme Court upheld the lower court's ruling, with three justices dissenting.

Dr. Eells died on a steamboat near Cincinnati, Ohio, on October 4, 1846. Abolitionists appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court in an attempt to end slavery. The executors of the Eells estate were represented by Salmon P. Chase and William Seward (later secretaries of the treasury and state respectively in the Lincoln administration). In 1852, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Illinois State Supreme Court's rulings. This is the first case from Quincy that went to the United States Supreme Court. A copy of the Supreme Court case can be seen at the Eells house today and on the Historical Society's website.

Because of its significance to the history of the Underground Railroad, and because all the information is documented in the county, state, and federal courts, the National Park Service has designated the Dr. Richard Eells House at 415 Jersey Street, Quincy, an official Historic Underground Railroad Site.

History vindicated Eells long ago, but it wasn't until Wednesday, December 31, 2014 that the law did the same. As part of a wide-ranging clemency action, Gov. Pat Quinn formally pardoned Eells and two other 19th-century abolitionists convicted of assisting escaped slaves.

"It's important for all of us to remember heroes who spoke up and acted at great risk to themselves for what was right, even when they knew it was not what the law would support," said Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, who helped to lead the clemency effort. "I think we need more reminders of that."

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Frances Willard was the first Dean of Women at Evanston's Northwestern University and long-time President of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union.

Frances Elizabeth Caroline Willard was born September 28, 1839, in Churchville, New York. She lived there with her parents, Josiah Willard and Mary Thompson Hill Willard, and her older brother Oliver, until 1841 when the family moved to Oberlin, Ohio. In 1846 the family, with the addition of sister Mary, moved to southeastern Wisconsin to a farm near Janesville. Willard spent most of her childhood there. She was almost entirely educated at home by her mother, but did attend a one-room school for a short time and then Milwaukee Female College for one term.
Frances Willard at 23 years old.
In 1858, at age 18, Willard moved with her family to Evanston to attend North Western Female College, a Methodist-affiliated secondary school, (not affiliated with Northwestern University). She graduated in 1859 and began a teaching career that included both one room schools in nearby towns and, as her reputation grew, more prestigious positions in secondary schools in Pennsylvania and New York. During this time she was engaged to Charles Henry Fowler, an Evanston resident and classmate of her brother, and later had a romance with a fellow teacher at Genessee College in New York. Neither relationship culminated in marriage, though, and Willard remained single throughout her life.

In 1871 Willard became president of the newly formed Evanston College for Ladies. When this college merged with Northwestern University in 1873, Willard became the first Dean of Women of the Women’s College. In 1874, after months of disagreement with university President Charles Henry Fowler (her former fiancé) over her governance of the Women’s College, Willard resigned. That summer she began to pursue a new career in the fledgling woman’s temperance movement, traveling to the east coast and participating in one of the many crusades. When she returned to Evanston, she was asked to be president of the Chicago group supporting the crusades.

In November 1874 Willard participated in the founding convention of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and was elected the first corresponding secretary of the WCTU. As such she was given the task of corresponding with and traveling to many of the small towns and cities in the United States, working to form local Unions and build support for the WCTU’s cause. In 1877 she met Anna Gordon and asked her to be her personal secretary. Gordon was a great help to Willard for the rest of her life, providing key organizational expertise as well as friendship. Willard worked hard during these early years to broaden the WCTU’s reform movement to include such things as woman’s suffrage, woman’s rights, education reforms and labor reforms. She later became an anti-lynching advocate as well. The support for this broader view of the WCTU’s reform work became clear when Willard was elected President of the WCTU in 1879.

Under Willard’s leadership the WCTU grew to be the largest organization of women in the nineteenth century. She saw the WCTU both as a means for accomplishing societal reform and as a means for training women to accomplish this reform. She urged WCTU members to become involved in local and national politics, to advocate for the causes in which they believed, to make speeches, write letters, sign and distribute petitions, and do whatever they could (since they couldn’t vote) to create support for change. She also saw the WCTU as part of a wider reform movement, especially regarding issues of alcohol and woman’s suffrage, and created a broad network of friends and coworkers who advocated for the same reforms as she did.
Frances Willard in the 1890s.
After her mother died in 1892, Willard began to suffer from increasing ill health and began to spend more time abroad, staying in England at the home of her friend Lady Isabel Somerset and working on founding of the World’s WCTU from there. Her absence from the United States raised questions about her ability to lead the National WCTU, but support for her leadership never entirely faded. Willard was by this time one of the most famous women in the world, and through her, the WCTU was able to mobilize women and gain the support of men for their causes. By this time the WCTU had a membership of 150,000 and was considered a powerful force in social reform.

In late 1897, Willard’s health began to deteriorate rapidly. She went on a pilgrimage to her birthplace in Churchville, New York and her childhood home in Janesville, Wisconsin, and returned briefly to the house in Evanston. In February 1898, she was preparing to sail to England to stay with Lady Isabel Somerset when she fell ill with influenza in New York City. She died in the Empire Hotel on February 17, 1898, at the age of fifty-eight. Many were stunned by the suddenness of Willard’s death. Accolades from around the world poured in and Willard’s funeral in New York City, as well as the memorials held in towns between New York and Chicago, where her casket was returned for burial, were crowded with mourners. She lay in state in the WCTU headquarters building in downtown Chicago for one day and twenty thousand mourners paid their respects. After a ceremony in Evanston at the Methodist Church, her remains were cremated and her ashes were placed in her mother’s grave in Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago.
This statue of Frances Willard was given to the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol by the State of Illinois in 1905. Her statue was the first honoring a woman to be chosen for the collection. Artist: Helen Farnsworth Mears

History of the Frances Willard House Museum
The history of Willard house tells the fascinating story of the flexible use of a house as a private residence, dormitory, workspace, memorial and museum. Its rooms were constantly adapted to the present needs of their occupants. Frances Willard began this tradition by re-using her father’s office as her own, and then later moving to the maid’s room and giving her office to Anna Gordon. She continued this with the construction of the Annex for her brother’s family, and when the Annex was no longer needed as a residence, she adapted it for use as office and dormitory space for the WCTU. When she died, the WCTU, through Anna Gordon, continued this tradition, moving their headquarters to the house, and adapting the private rooms as a memorial to Willard’s life. After a new headquarters building was built behind the house, the house began to be used as a museum and residence for the WCTU.
Frances Willard House Museum and Archives.
After Frances Willard died in 1898, during the President’s Address in the Twenty-Sixth Annual Meeting in October 1899, it was determined that WTCU Headquarters be moved to the Annex (where they remained until 1922 when they relocated to the new headquarters built on the west side of the property, behind Rest Cottage). Noting the significance of Rest Cottage for the WCTU, Lillian M. N. Stevens (the WCTU president after Willard), spoke of the house as a holy place, one befitting pilgrimages from WCTU devotees:

"It is a privilege that cannot be too highly estimated that our national offices should be there, that our prayers, our plans and our daily work…should have the consecration of such surroundings and that Rest Cottage should thus continue to be the center from which our influence as a NWCTU can most widely radiate, a Mecca for the prayerful thought and devoted love of white ribboners everywhere."

In the spring of 1900 invitations were sent out to hundreds of people formally inviting them to the opening of the new WCTU headquarters at Rest Cottage. More than 200 people attended the ”Dedicatory Service” held Saturday afternoon, April 21, 1900 at 3pm. Newspaper reports from the time described the opening, the prayer service and speeches given, and also the new offices. They also described a tour of parts of the house that had up until then been private rooms. Although the invitations had not announced it, Rest Cottage was officially opened as a museum of and memorial to the life of Frances Willard that day. The newspapers reported that the south side of the house, especially the “Den” where “most of the famous white-ribboner’s literary work was done,” was being kept “in the condition in which Miss Willard left it” and was now open for public viewing.
The house served as headquarters for the WCTU until 1910 when the ”Literature Building” was constructed on a back portion of the lot behind the house. All of the offices for the WCTU were moved into the new building. The first floor of the north side of Willard house was converted into a museum of WCTU artifacts and archival materials, and the second floor was used as bedrooms for WCTU workers. The south side of the house continued to be used as a museum of Willard’s private life, and the residence of Anna Gordon. The house continued to be used in this manner until Gordon’s death in 1931. The first floor remained as museum space, but the second floor bedrooms, on both the south and north-sides, were then used as sleeping space for WCTU workers.

It is the goal of the Frances Willard Historical Association, established in 1994 to care for and manage the house, and to tell all of the stories of Willard House. Frances Willard House Museum and Archives is located at 1730 Chicago Avenue in Evanston Illinois.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

How the City of Newton and Jasper County, Illinois, got their names.

The City of Newton, Illinois.
Sergeant John Newton (1755–1780) was a soldier of the American Revolutionary War who was popularized by Mason Locke Weems, better known as Parson Weems (an American book agent and author who wrote the first biography of George Washington immediately after his death) in his school books in the early 19th century. Newton served under Brigadier General Francis Marion, the famous "Swamp Fox." Today Newton appears to have been a very minor figure. However, place names across the United States demonstrate his former fame. He is considered one of the popular fictionalized heroic enlisted men of the American Revolution.
            1875 map of Jasper County, Illinois and the County Seat of Newton.
Parson Weems' has Sgt. Newton bravely save a group of American prisoners from execution by capturing their British guards at the 1779 Siege of Savannah. However, no contemporary account of this rescue exist, and the only source is the very unreliable Parson Weems. In fact, according to Lieutenant Colonel Peter Horry, who took part in the campaign, "Newton was a thief and a villain"

Sgt. Newton's tale is similar to the true story of Sgt. William Jasper, who was a genuine hero but was exaggerated by Weems. 

The County of Jasper, Illinois.
Sergeant William Jasper (1750-1779)was called to Sullivan's Island to help protect Charles Towne Harbor. There he served under Colonel William Moultrie, who was in charge of the defense of Charleston against the British Navy. A few days before the British were due to arrive, Colonel Moultrie decided to build a fort to protect the harbor. His officers were sent local plantation owners, to borrow their slaves to help with the creation of the fort. Soldiers, slaves, and volunteers banded together to chop down palmettos and use them in its construction.

Initially called Fort Sullivan, some time after the battle the fort was renamed to Fort Moultrie. The British arrived before the fort was finished, its whole back remaining incomplete. The Moultrie flag was raised over the structure, and a ten-hour siege began.

Low on ammunition, the 2nd South Carolina Regiment only fired when ships closed in on the fort. The flag, designed by Moultrie himself at the behest of the colonial government, was shot down, and fell to the bottom of the ditch on the outside of the fort. Leaping from an embrasure, Jasper recovered the flag, which he tied to a sponge staff and replaced on the parapet, where he supported it until a permanent flag staff had been procured and installed. With this rallying point, the colonists held out until sunset, when the British retreated. They did not succeed in taking Charleston until several years later.

Because of Jasper's heroism, Governor John Rutledge presented him with his personal sword, and offered him a lieutenant's commission. He did not accept the offer to become an officer, saying that he would only be an embarrassment since he could neither read nor write. He was also presented with two silk flags by Mrs. Susannah Elliott.

Data:
Newton is the largest, oldest and only city (although several there are villages) in Jasper County. Because of its favorable location within the county, it was named county seat in 1835. Jasper County was formed in 1831 out of Clay and Crawford Counties and approved on December 19, 1834.

Several states have a Newton and Jasper county adjacent to each other, as though they were regarded as a pair. Several other states have a Jasper County with a county seat of Newton, or vice versa. There are twelve Jasper cities/towns and five Jasper counties; fourteen Newton cities/towns and four Newton counties that are located in the United States. 

Surely, these men were widely remembered.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Women and their place in the Illiniwek Indian tribe.


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.


During the last years of the seventeenth century and the early decades of the eighteenth century, the French reported that Illiniwek men spoke disparagingly when they referred to women; the Europeans even concluded that Illiniwek women were the slaves of the men. Indian women have been referred to as the "Hidden Half" because the documentary records provided such a cloudy view of the female arena. The gender roles and status issues concerning Illiniwek women, however, have been made reasonably clear by Pierre Delliette, a nephew of LaSalle's lieutenant, Henri Tonti, other French officials, and various Jesuit priests. The considerable significance of women to the Illiniwek Indian tribe comes into focus through an examination of their role, power, and status.

{{The Illiniwek Indian tribe was a Confederacy of tribes [aka: Illinois (pronounced as plural: Illinois') and Illini]; consisted of the Kaskaskia, Cahokia, Peoria, Tamaroa, Moingwena, Michigamea, Chepoussa, Chinkoa, Coiracoentanon, Espeminkia, Maroa, and Tapouara tribes.}}
Woman and their place in the Illiniwek Indian tribe.
An investigation of absolute gender boundaries, complementary or secondary functions, and parity functions reveals the female role. Absolute boundaries, for example, clearly separated the gender functions. Women did not use male weapons, bows and arrows; did not engage in raiding war or the hunt; did not use the male accent; did not eat before or with the men; did not attend councils; did not dance in such ceremonies as the calumet dance or "the discovery" at funerals for important men; did not injure unfaithful husbands or expel them from the home; did not wear male clothing, tattoos, or hair styles; did not marry more than one spouse at a time; did not live in the home with men during menstruation or childbirth; did not bury other women with great ceremony; and did not torture prisoners until after men had finished. Women, however, did function effectively in a system their society reserved for them.

The labor requirements of the tribe's economic system encouraged the development of complimentary or supportive gender roles. Men hunted and fished and roamed far from their villages. The women gardened and gathered fruits and nuts and remained close to their homes. Europeans saw Illiniwek men as "all gentlemen" because they did no physical labor in their villages. Instead, they danced, gambled, feasted, engaged in religious activities, and manufactured bows and arrows. They earned status by becoming superior warriors and hunters-activities which required great strength and endurance. Women, on the other hand, raised children, gathered wood, tended their homes, tilled fields, prepared food, and dressed skins. They did not work harder than men, although the French thought that they did, and they did not even work as hard as colonial European women. The tribe's very survival, nevertheless, actually depended on female labor during those times when hunters were unsuccessful.

Women served in secondary rather than complimentary gender roles in such activities as warfare, hunting, and certain ceremonies usually associated with men. Because females were denied access to bows and arrows, for example, they did not participate in raids, the military expeditions of limited size which travelled stealthily and ambushed individuals or small groups of the enemy. Armed with clubs, however, women did join men in communal warfare expeditions in which hundreds of participants might noisily travel hundreds of miles to attack entire enemy villages.

Females also engaged in communal hunting, but weapons restrictions limited their participation here, too. The generosity requirements the culture placed on men, which obligated them to surrender possessions upon request, may explain why women would travel to the site of the hunter's kill, and then skin, butcher, and carry the meat back to the village. Even during communal buffalo hunts, custom limited women to preparing and transporting the meat.

Several ceremonies, including a game of lacrosse and the calumet dance, also included women as secondary performers. The summer communal buffalo hunt began with a ritual game of lacrosse, but few women played because the game was physical and dangerous. These female participants played the game in a defensive capacity. The women's part was also limited in the peace and recognition ceremony known as the calumet dance. Women with fine voices sang in choruses, which also included men, during the calumet dance, but they did not dance.
Kaskaskia Tribe of the Illiniwek.
Illiniwek women enjoyed parity with men in one most important venue access to supernatural power. Young girls sought, as did boys, the protection of a manitou (the "essence of supernatural power" represented by a bird, buffalo, or other animal) by participating in a vision-quest or dream-fast exercise. Women also became shamans, or priests and healers, and several times each year both female and male shamans sponsored a public ceremony. The members of this priesthood demonstrated their killing and curing powers during the rites. Shamans, as agents of supernatural power who could cause death, were obeyed because the Illiniwek feared them. The power of female shamans extended to the entire community.

Women clearly exercised power within the female sphere of activity. For example, women led age-groups of females responsible for fulfilling such customs as burying females. Father Jacques Gravier, a Jesuit priest, referred to "Those who govern the young women and the grown girls..." While women did not ordinarily wield leadership in arenas reserved for men and therefore did not become chiefs, the sources do identify one female civil chief for a small winter village. Her position, however, reflected the hunting successes of her male relatives.

The case of this female chief suggests that women generally enjoyed some standing but little real power beyond their own realm. It "is implausible to argue that women may have less visible prestige but an equal claim on dominance," noted anthropologist Nancy Datan, "as it must also be posited that women are content with power so subtle that its effects are difficult to detect.

It is far more parsimonious," she concluded, "though less pleasing, to concede that women have unequal access to power." While women did wield authority in their own sphere, their power in the tribe was simply not equal to that of men.

Several criteria reflected their power and established the status of Indian women: division of labor, plural marriage, marriage gift exchange, divorce, motherhood, and control over sexual activity. The complimentary nature of Illiniwek work roles, where women did not hunt and men did not gather, required that everyone marry. A man's skill as a hunter determined the number of wives he might take, but his secondary wives were the first wife's sisters, nieces, and aunts; a woman did not have more than one husband at a time. Divorce was easily arranged when one or both partners agreed to live apart, but often couples worked through their problems for the sake of their children. A divorced man whose partner was blameless could expect retaliation from the members of the woman's clan if he took a replacement wife from another clan. While men and women shared the right to divorce, both parties were constrained by children and clan privileges.

Although the French saw them as promiscuous, the Illiniwek did subscribe to a concept of simple chastity. Young women were not supposed to even to talk with men in order to maintain status as a potential spouse, but many of them nevertheless did engage in premarital sexual activity. A first wife outranked secondary wives, and the courtship process to select a first wife was indirect and most important. An absent suitor's father or uncle would lead his female relatives loaded with valuable gifts to the prospective bride's home. These gifts included kettles, guns, skins, meat, "some cloth, and sometimes a slave..."

The marriage gifts would be returned if the girl protested or if her parents or brother objected to the union. Negotiations could involve as many as three trips-each with more valuable gifts made by the suitor's family. When a bride accepted a suitor, she and her relatives would travel to the groom's home with their own gifts. Although men did conduct the formal negotiations, the bride and her mother played a prominent role in the decision. The value of the marriage gift exchange delayed and frustrated poor suitors, and illustrating the value of a first wife, a husband continued to send presents to his wife's brother even after marriage. The marriage began without ceremony when the bride and groom agreed to live together.

Women, even married women, did not control their own sexual activities because their brothers motivated by gifts could force them into extramarital relationships. Husbands who punished or killed unfaithful wives or their lovers were often attacked by the families of the injured parties. A feud might be averted only if husbands were "to cover the dead" by providing presents to the grieving families.

Women did punish men who violated clan marriage rights, and these men accepted the discipline without retaliating. As with divorce, a widower who took another bride too quickly from a different clan could find his possessions destroyed by the female members of the original wife's clan. The enforcement of clan rights reflected both the economic importance of marriage and the power of women while protecting their sphere.

Much of the female arena revolved around childbirth and child rearing. Women were not permitted to deliver their babies in the homes of their husbands, and so delivery took place in the small menstrual huts located nearby. New fathers honored new mothers in a ceremonial role reversal: the fathers cleaned the home, shook out the furs, and built a new fire. The Illiniwek loved their children, but the birth rate was low and infant mortality was high. Having a child elevated the status of a woman to the prestigious position of mother.

Mothers enjoyed full control over youngsters because men were absent so often, but they also had full responsibility for protecting them from raiders, animals, and accidents. Diapering infants with moss and swaddling them in skins, mothers attended to their chores with infants fastened to their backs on cradle boards. As they matured, mothers encouraged youngsters to develop those skills required for success as adults. While boys practiced with their weapons and ran, swam, and wrestled, girls acquired those industrious work habits which might attract desirable husbands. Motherhood involved ensuring the continuity of the society.

The role and power available to the men and women in Illiniwek society determined individual status. Men were the ceremonial, economic, military, and political leaders in their society. Males who expected to acquire lofty community standing could develop exceptional skill as either warriors or hunters, but the warrior's success outranked that of the hunter. The tribe acknowledged the status of individual achievers with public rituals such as the first-kill feast, the warrior's pounding-the-post ceremony, and elaborate burials. Women were ineligible for the recognition available to men derived from either raiding or hunting.

Males earned an improved position in the community through the years because they had demonstrated their capacity to survive in a most demanding career. The enhanced prestige of these elders-most of whom were shamans-allowed them to eat before others, officiate lacrosse games, decide the fate of war prisoners, participate in an elder's council for advising chiefs, and serve as town criers. Even with this lofty status, however, old men worked in the fields with the women, thus implicitly acknowledging the importance of the female contribution to the tribe's welfare.

Women earned status in a system reserved for females-a system which reflected success in the female role. The practice of tattooing women probably recognized individual proficiency. Men wore tattoos illustrating the weapons employed to acquire military triumphs. It is reasonable to assume that women wore designs representing tools with which they had been successful, such as the spade, the spindle, and the axe. Implements reserved for men-bows and arrows-outranked those utilized by women.

Even though the primary male economic contribution-meat-outranked that of females, the status of women was still substantial because of the quality and quantity of the tribal diet. Without meat, the Illiniwek only thought they were starving, but female subsistence products meant the group would survive. Another factor conferring status might have been female ownership or control of their fields. The evidence for this claim is indirect, such as the female work bees required when women needed to spade up their fields, but it is significant that field ownership is not included in any list of male status criteria.

Europeans developed low opinions of Illiniwek women when they saw them engage in arduous physical labor in their villages. Control over the products of their labor, however, suggests considerable female status. The items in the home, those destroyed when clan marriage rights were ignored, were considered the property of the manufacturer. In 1772, a Frenchman noticed that "husbands leave to the women the say as to the buying and selling" of such female manufactured trade items as dressed "deer and buffalo skins."

The labor issue is clouded by the question of ownership of the home. Although women manufactured the family home, husbands "owned" or controlled it because it was the product of more than one wife's labor. A divorced wife would have left her former husband's remaining family with a badly damaged dwelling if she had been able to remove her contribution to it. Because women controlled only part of their work product, this labor issue does not add much to clarify the question of female status.

It is difficult to measure changes in Illiniwek social practices because the tribe endured tremendous population losses after coming into direct contact with the French in 1673; fewer Indians resulted in fewer documents concerning them. However, rather interesting adaptations became observable for several marriage customs. For example, before meeting Europeans, Illiniwek men had become eligible to marry at age twenty-five but did not actually marry until age thirty; women married about age twenty-five. After meeting the French, however, men married before age twenty and women before age eighteen. This circumstance caused Delliette to report that "The old men (the conservators of tribal traditions) say that the French have corrupted them." The tribe also experienced a decline in husbands taking more than one wife and in the rate of divorce. Finally, a quarter of a century after Delliette noticed that unfaithful wives were numerous, another Frenchman declared the number negligible. These modifications indicate that contact with Europeans resulted in a changed role for women.

The industrious role and considerable power of Illiniwek women established their high status in the Illiniwek tribe. They attained social standing by bearing and nurturing children, constructing and tending homes, gathering wood and preparing food, and dressing skins and tilling fields. They wielded power in their female venue and in their role as shamans. Marriage customs, the marriage gift exchange, and divorce options also testified to their lofty position in the tribe. Limits on female activity, however, illustrated the greater power and status of men. Women did enjoy considerable influence and standing in a system reserved for them, but they were ineligible for the higher status positions available for men.

The subordinate position of females was emphasized in those conventions which prohibited their use of weapons reserved for men, their absence from raiding and the hunt, and the second class status of their subsistence contributions. The most important of the elements limiting female power and status, however, was their lack of control over their own sexual activity.

When men made derogatory comments about women, they were declaring that the female role was inappropriate for them, and they were exhibiting the inveterate male habit of gendering male enemies as female or effeminate. Despite the derisive comments of men, however, Illiniwek women understood-even if the French did not-that they were the slaves of the men.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.