First Flag in the Upper Mississippi Valley

First Flag in the Upper Mississippi Valley

On August 9, 1805, Lieutenant Zebulon M. Pike, an officer in the United States Army, in command of twenty soldiers, left St. Louis under instructions from the government to trace the sources of the Mississippi River. ascertain the condition of the Indians, create a better feeling between them and the Americans and to select certain sites upon which to erect forts. The party made the voyage in a keel boat seventy feet long, and on August 27, 1805, the party arrived at the mouth of Rock River. Black Hawk in his autobiography says: “Some time afterwards a boat came up the river with a young American chief, at that time lieutenant, and afterwards General Pike, and a small party of soldiers aboard. The boat at length arrived at Rock River and the young chief came on shore with his interpreter. He made us a speech and gave us some presents, in return for which we gave him meat and such other provisions as we could spare. “We were well pleased with the speech of the young chief. He gave us good advice and said our American father would treat us well. He presented us an American flag which we hoisted. He then requested us to lower the British colors, which were waving in the air, and to give him our British medals, promising to send us others on his return to St. Louis. This we declined to do, as we wished to have two fathers,” The event related by Black Hawk, and occurring at the old Sac village on Rock River, in August, 1805, was the first raising and unfurling of the United States flag in the valley of the upper Mississippi River. All the country west of the Mississippi had until October, 1803, belonged to Spain, and Lieu-tenant Pike was the first American representative to navigate the Mississippi north of St. Louis.

See: Autobiography of Black Hawk or Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-KiakEmbracing the traditions of his Nation, various wars in which he has been engaged, and his account of the cause and general history of the Black Hawk War Of 1832, his surrender, and travels through the United States.


Early Settlements of Rock County 


Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908

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