Friday, July 26, 2019

Memorials of the Fort Dearborn Massacre which occurred on August 15, 1812.

The site of the Fort Dearborn Massacre is claimed to be on the corner of 18th street and Prairie Avenue in modern-day Chicago.

The massacre site was marked, for over a century, by a large cottonwood tree. After the tree died, it as replaced by a bronze statue “Black Partridge Saving Mrs. Helm," commissioned by George Pullman in 1893 at a cost of $30,000 created by the artist Carl Rohl-Smith (1848-1900). 
Pullman wrote: 
”An enduring monument, which should serve not only to perpetuate and honor the memory of the brave man and women and innocent children — the pioneer settlers who suffered here — but should also stimulate a desire among us and those who are to come after us to know more of the struggles and sacrifices of those who laid the foundation of the greatness of this city.”
The monument, to the dismay of many, was removed in 1931. It was last seen stored in a City of Chicago garage below the overpass near Roosevelt Road and Wells Street.

The relief on Michigan Avenue Bridgehouse (renamed the 'DuSable Bridge' in 2010) in Chicago commemorating the Fort Dearborn Massacre. (built 1918-1920)
"Defense Relief" - Fort Dearborn stood almost on this spot. After a heroic defense in eighteen hundred and twelve, the garrison together with women and children was forced to evacuate the fort. Led forth by Captain Wells, they were brutally massacred by the Indians. They will be cherished as martyrs in our early history.
By Henry Hering. 1928
On Saturday, August 15, 2009, the Chicago Park District dedicated the site as “Battle of Fort Dearborn Park,” in some misguided attempt to be politically correct, somewhat sanitizing history, they renamed the event from “massacre” to “battle” naming it the “Site of Battle of Fort Dearborn.”
The plaque, somewhat historically suspect, reads:
Battle of Fort Dearborn - August 15, 1812
From roughly 1620 to 1820 the territory of the Potawatomi extended from what is now Green Bay, Wisconsin, to Detroit, Michigan and included the Chicago area. In 1803, the United States Government built Fort Dearborn at what is today Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive, as a part of lucrative trading in the area from the British. During the War of 1812, between the United States and Great Britain, some Indian tribes allied with the British to stop the westward expansion of the United States and to regain lost Indian lands. On August 15, 1812, more than 50 US soldiers and 41 civilians, including 9 women and 18 children were ordered to evacuate Fort Dearborn. This group, almost the entire population of U.S. citizens in the Chicago area, marched south from Fort Dearborn, along Lake Michigan until they reached this approximate site, where they were attacked by about 500 Potawatomi. In the battle and aftermath, more than 60 of the evacuees and 15 native Americans were killed. The dead included Army Captain William Wells, who has come from Fort Wayne, with Miami Indians to assist in the evacuation, and Naunongee, Chief of the Village of Potawatomi, Ojibwe and Ottawa Indians known as the Three Fires Confederacy. In the 1830s the Potawatomi of Illinois were forcibly removed to lands west of Mississippi. Potawatomi Indian Nations continue to thrive in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Canada, and more than 36,000 American Indians, from a variety of tribes, live in Chicago today.” 
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.
Some photos by Jyoti.

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