Letter from Felix St. Vrain

“St. Louis, May 28, 1831. “Respected Sir: Since my last of the 15th inst. on the subject of the band of Sac Indians, etc., the Indian village on Rock River near Rock Island, I have heard from the Indians and some of the whites that a house had been unroofed instead of pulled down and burned, and that the fence had caught fire by accident. As regards the destroying of the wheat, etc., the Indians say that a white man hauled some timber through a field and left the fence down by which means their horses got into the field. This, however, has been contradicted by the white inhabitants of that place. They say that the Indians are constantly troubling them by letting their horses into their fields and killing their hogs. etc. This, however, I am confident is occasioned in a great measure by whiskey being given to the Indians in exchange for their guns, traps, etc. “I had a talk with the principal chief and braves of that band of Indians. I spoke to the Black Thunder, who is the principal of that band. I told them that they had sold those lands to the government of the United States and that they ought to remove to their own lands. They then said that they had only sold the lands south of the river. I then produced the treaties and explained to them that they had relinquished their rights as far as the Ouisconsin. Quash-quam-me (the Jumping Fish) then said that he had only consented to the limits being Rock River, but that a Fox chief agreed (as he understands, afterwards) for the Ouisconsin; that he (Quash-quam-me) had been deceived and that he did not intend it to be so. I had consider-able talk with them on this subject, and could discover nothing hostile in their disposition unless their decided conviction of their right to the place could be construed as such. I have been informed that a white man and his family had gone to an Indian village on the borders of Rock River about forty miles from Rock Island, for the purpose of establishing a ferry, and that the Indians at that place had driven them away at the same time saying to them that they would not hurt them, but they should not live there. This village is occupied by a mixture of Winnebago, Sac and Fox band and headed by the Prophet, a chief. I have the honor to be “Your obedient servant, “FELIX ST. VRAIN, Indian Agent. “Gen. William Clark, Supt. Indian Affairs, St. Louis.”

 

Early Settlements of Rock County 

 

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