Black Hawk War
The Black Hawk War peaked in the summer of 1832. It had been brewing for several years, starting in 1804 when several members of the Sac and Fox were arrested and imprisoned at St. Louis for an alleged crime. A party of lesser chiefs went down the river to secure their release. Apparently, these chiefs where "entertained" with liquor, which hampered their judgments. Once they came out of their unfortunate condition, they headed for home loaded down with worthless trinkets and having the vague memory of selling some land. They were, however, promised that their brothers would be released. The prisoners were released, but before they could reach safety, they were shot down as they ran.
There was no immediate move to take possession of the land, so nothing further occurred until several years later. The treaty was confirmed by some of the tribes the following year, but when Black Hawk found that they must abandon their villages, fields, and graveyards, he strenuously disagreed. Under protest to that 1804 treaty, he removed his band to the west side of the Mississippi. Seeing the graves of their dead desecrated, their villages in waste, he could no longer endure this indignation. In the Spring of 1831, with about 300 warriors of his and allied tribes, and their families, Black Hawk re-crossed the "Father of Waters" to claim his own. He ordered away the white settlers that were there, proceeded to destroy their dwellings, fences and crops. With the approach of General Gaines and his militia, Black Hawk quickly moved his people back to the west bank and gave assent to the treaty of 1804. Brooding through the long winter, finding it very difficult to clear the wilderness for new fields, their anger and resentment burned beyond control.
In the spring of 1832 Black Hawk again sprang to action. On June 25 one of these battles took place in Stephenson County. Major Dement of Dixon, was reconnoitering near Bur Oak Grove and discovered a band of the hostiles in the timber that far outnumbered his group. The Major retreated to the house built by Kellogg (near the site of Kircher's cabin) and prepared to defend himself to the bitter end. Two couriers where sent to bring back reinforcements from General Posey at Buffalo Grove. Black Hawk withdrew after he saw what was about to happen. The losses from this battle were nine on each side. This was the last indian battle in Illinois. This stone monument sits on a hill near Kent to mark the site.
Mr. Baker returned in 1835 and settled at Chief Winneshiek's village. William "Tutty" Baker was the founder of Freeport. In 1836 he opened an Indian trading post, built a hotel and operated a free ferry. Thus the name "Free Port". Tutty became prominent in the early affairs of the city.
In the fall of 1833 or spring of 1834, Lyman Brewster and Joe Abeno established a ferry at the site of present day Winslow. Prior to that Winslow was called Brewster's Ferry.
In 1835 immigrations began to rise in the county. Early county names were: Amos, Robey, Goddard, Hollenbeak, Jones, Lucas, Parriot, St. John, Trotter, Gappen, Graves, Wait, Watson, Wills, Denton, Wells, Kneeland, Streator, VanMatres, Kaufmann, Preston, Giddings, Willett, Craine, Albertson, Frankenberger, Dimmick, VanBrocklyn, Love, Montague, Tucker, Kirkpatrick, Galbraith, Brown, Burns, Crocker, Dodds, Eads, Goodhart, Hinkle, Smith, Wilmott, Write, Bennett, Blakely, Brown, Boynton, Carnefix, Chilton, Cogshall, Denison, Dernio, Flynn, Forbes, Fowler, Guddings, Grigsby, Hathaway, Hawkins, Holly, Hulse, Job, Lee, Lloyd, Lobdel, Macomber, Malloy, Manny, Marcellus, Mullarky, Nichols, Niles, Norris, Osborn, Ostrander, Perkey, Pile, Phillips, Reed, Sanborn, Shunkle, Snow, Stowell, Swanson, Velie, Wait, Water, Welsh, Wilcoxon, Wooton and others.
1837 was a momentous year. On March 4th the Legislature passed an act authorizing the organization of the county. On the first Monday in May, at William Baker's house an election was held. Sheriff: William Kirkpatrick; Coroner: Lorenzo Lee; Recorder and Commissioners' Clerk: Orestes H. Wright; County Commissioners: Lemuel W. Streator, Issac S. Forbes and Julius Smith; County Surveyor: Frederick D. Buckely. The first jail being William Baker's root cellar.
More settlers arrived in 1837. In addition to those mentioned above there were: VanValzah, Turner, Howe, Judson, Babbitt, Bailey, Bollinger, Brace, Brewester, Burbridge, Chambers, Corcoran, Dodds, Dwelly, Edwards, Farwell, Forbes, Fowler, Frettville, Gable, Gaylord, Giblin, Billett, Graham, Green, Guyer, Haight, Harmon, Hill, Howard, Howe, Johnson, Kleckner, Lashell, Lewis, Lloyd, Macomber, Milburn, Moore, Morton, Musser, Miles, O'Brien, Osborn, Perry, Price, Reed, Reynolds, Ricket, Snyder, Tharp, Thomas, Thompson, Tompkins, Turnbull, Wallace, Webster, Welles and Wilcoxon.
The first marriage licensed issued in the county was to George Place and Eunice Waddams. William Ensigned opened the first school in the residence of Mr. Timms at Burr Oak Grove. On May 24th, 1837, Harvey M. Timms was the first child born in the new county. Milburn and Reed, drowning near Ridott, were the first recorded deaths.
We see more immigration in 1838. Some of the names are: Allen, Bradford, Brazee, Brendall, Brown, Bogenreiff, Carter, Clay, Cowan, Davis, Forsyth, Fowler, Gaylord, Gitchell, Gore, Hammon, Hunt Kinney, Lathrop, Liebshuetz, Lloyd, Loring, Lucas, Perley, Pitcher, Preston, Rand, Rosensteil, Scott, Sisson, Stebbins, Strockey, Thompson, Walsh, Waren, Wright.
In 1839 we see the first stage routes develop. This was a great way for the mail to be carried. The post office was established in the summer of that year. The spring of '39 brought a colony of Norwegians to settle in Rock Grove. This was the first colony of that nationality to venture to our shores. A partial list of newcomers for this year are: Anderson, Babcock, Bardell, Boyden, Berry, Bordner, Bree, Brown, Canutson, Cockrell, Corwith, Covertson, Cox, Curry, Drummond, Epley, Fair Fisher, Flower, Flynn, George, Gibler, Gund, Hawkins, Hawley, Hoebel, Howard, Judkins, Karcher, Langdon, McElheny, McGee, McKee, Mallory, Marlow, Muller, Oleson, Pattee, Patten, Pratt, Preston, Price, Shoup, Smith, Stabeck, Stoskepf, Templeton, VanMatre, Watson and Zimmerman.
A very partial list of others that came after 1839: Andrews, Babb, Baldwin, Barber, Barkalow, Bennett, Bolender, Clarke, Ditzler, Eddy, Ferry, Foster, Frybarger, Gossman, Hammond, Hinds, House, Hulbert, Ilgen, Illingworth, Knese, Lamb, Lovdel, Loyer, MacGinnis, Maurer, Muller, Naramore, Norris, Parriott, Post, Reitzell, Reybolt, Rush, Schermerhorn, Scott, Shively, Shockley, Tower, Wilson, Wohlford and Woodman.
In 1842 another colony settled in the county. A party of twenty two from England, that settled in Ridott on a tract of land selected for them by a forerunner who had come out a year prior.
1847 brought talk of the railroad coming to Stephenson County. On January 7th, at Rockford, the first session of the railroad convention in the "west" was held. Stephenson County was represented by John H. Addams, D.A. Knowlton, Adrian Lucas, Jackson Reichart, Luman Montague and Martin P. Sweet. After the line had been completed to Belvidere, there was talk of Freeport being detoured for Savanna. A committee went to Chicago and spoke with the authorities and succeeded in having the original route carried out.
In 1848 the county changed from commissioner form to the township organization and has remained under that form of government since.
On August 23, 1853, the first construction train crossed the Pecatonica River and the passenger and freight service was established on September 1. The Illinois Central entered Freeport a few weeks later, having purchased the right of way from the Chicago and Galena Union. The formal opening of the line was on July 18, 1855. Stephen A. Douglas was the orator of the day