The Settlers’ Affidavits

While at Fort Armstrong the settlers had prepared another petition, together with numerous affidavits, which they presented to General Gaines. The following is the substance of the depositions of sundry citizens of the Rock River settlement, taken before William Brasher, J. P., and Joel Wells, J. P., on the 10th of June, 1831. First. John Wells, John W. Spencer, Jonah H. Case, Rennah Wells, Samuel Wells, Benjamin F. Pike, Joseph Danforth and Moses Johnson, before Wm. Brazer, J. P., swear that the Sac Indians did through the last year repeatedly threaten to kill them for being on their ground, and acted in the most outrageous manner; threw down their fences, burnt or destroyed their rails, turned horses into their cornfields and almost destroyed their crops, stole their potatoes, killed and ate their hogs, shot arrows into their cattle and put out their eyes, thereby rendering them useless to their owners, saying the land was theirs, and that they had not sold it. In April they ordered the deponents to leave their houses, and turned from fifty to one hundred horses into one man’s wheat field, threatening that the fields should not be reaped, although said owners had purchased the land of the United States government. ‘The Indians also leveled deadly weapons at the citizens, and on some occasions hurt some of the said citizens, for attempting to prevent the destruction of their property. Also that the Indians stole their horses, some of which were returned by the agent six or eight months after, and in a miserable condition; others were never heard of again. Nearly fifty Indians headed by their notorious war chief, all armed and equipped for war, came to the house of Rennah Wells, and ordered him to be off or they would kill him, which, for the safety of his family, he obeyed. They then went to another house, rolled out a barrel of whiskey and destroyed it, as well as committing many other outrages to the knowledge of the deponents. Second. John Wells, before Joel Wells, J. P., swore that on the 30th day of September, 1830, he saw two Sac Indians throwing down his fence, who said they were doing it for the purpose of going through, in which they persisted although forbidden by the owner, and when the owner attempted to prevent them, one of them made a pass at him with his fist, and drew his knife on him. Third. Rennah and Samuel Wells, before Joel Wells, J. P., swore that on the 29th of May a party of Sac Indians, calling themselves chiefs, with Black Hawk at their head, came to the house of Rennah Wells, near the mouth of Rock River, and said that he must let the squaws cultivate his field, which Wells refusing, they became much displeased, and told him to go off; upon Wells’ refusal they went away. That on the next day the same chiefs, with about fifty warriors, came, armed, and told Wells that he must move or they would cut the throats of himself and family, and making motions to that effect, upon which said Wells told them that he would take counsel and tell them at three o’clock the next day what would be his determination. They consented, and went away; at the appointed time they returned and told Wells that he must go off, which he accordingly did, leaving all his possessions to the Indians. Fourth. Nancy Thompson and Nancy Wells before W. J. Brasher, swore that in October, 1830, two Indians residing in the village forty or fifty miles above the mouth of Rock River, and called Sacs or Winnebagoes, came to the house of Rennah Wells and commenced chasing some sheep, as if they would kill them. Those Indians were ordered to desist, upon which they drew their knives and made at the woman, who being alarmed, called for assistance. Samuel Wells being sick in the house at the time, ran out with a pitchfork, and the Indians pursued no farther. London L. Case heard the alarm given, and joined. The Indians then returned to the river bank eighty or one hundred yards distant; when Case, thinking they were still in pursuit of the sheep, went to ascertain the truth, and coming near the Indians they wounded him severely in three places with a knife and tomahawk. Fifth. Joseph Danforth, before Joel Wells, J. P., swore that he saw Sacs at a fence belonging to John Wells, who forbid them going through, when they continued throwing down the fence. Wells attempted to prevent them, when one of the Indians struck him with his fist, and drew his knife. Danforth got a stick, and the Indians making several attempts toward Danforth, he (Danforth) knocked one of them down with his stick. The Indian rose several times and made at Danforth with his knife, and finally deserted the ground, leaving his knife.


Early Settlements of Rock County 


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