(Pictures included with this chapter are:  Keokuk and Blackhawk.  To view the pictures, go to the Main Page of the Scott county Site and find the Picture Index for the 1910 Vol. I book.)



It is altogether probable that the invading foe against whom the Mound Builder threw up the fortifications which crowned the bluffs of Davenport was the American Indian and that his occupancy of this region stretched from the disappearance of the first inhabitant until the coming of the all-conquering white man.  Here the red man had his home and enjoyed all the blessings of soil, climate, healthfulness and nearness to transportation that made this region attractive to the race that dispossessed him.  His chapter in local annals is identical with that of his brethren in other portions of the continent.  He made futile protest and fell back.  He opposed standards of right and wrong he considered unjust to the weaker.  He fought in unavailing sort for his home and the graves of his ancestors.  The story has been told a thousand times in words of eloquent sympathy.  It needs neither paraphrase nor added incident.

The first Indians seen upon Iowa soil were the Illini.  This tribe was scattered after having almost suffered extermination by the allied tribes which followed Pontiac, chief among these the Sacs and Foxes.  These Indians, originally tribally distinct became practically one through an offensive and defensive alliance, through similar customs and intermarriage.  The traditions of the Sacs or Sauks and of the Foxes or Reynards, as they were called by the French explorers, point to the land between Quebec and Montreal bordering the St. Lawrence river as the early home of these Indians.  Ou-sakis, the first designation of the Sacs means yellow earth, and Musquakie, the original name of the Foxes means red earth.

Of these two tribes the Foxes first came west and settled on the banks of the Wisconsin river which bears their name.  The Sacs driven from Canada by the warring Iroquois settled near Lake Michigan in the Green bay country near the Foxes.  Their name persists in near-by river, bay and city - Siginaw.  The time of this migration from Canada has not been determined, but was probably in the first half of the seventeenth century.  Marquette's map of 1673 locates the Foxes on the Fox river and about this date Father Claude Allouez commenced his work among them, in this location.

It was early in the eighteenth century that the Sacs and Foxes were driven from Wisconsin by the allied Menominees, Ottawas and Chippewas, aided by the French whose ill will the Sacs and Foxes had gained by exacting tribute from them.  While the French attacked the village from covered boats upon the river the Indian allies closed in simultaneously from the surrounding woods, and those who escaped slaughter were glad to flee to the banks of the Mississippi.  This was about 1722.  In this new location the Sacs and Foxes continued to war upon other tribes, the Chippewas, the Sioux, Pawnees, Winnebagoes and Mascoutins.  So successful were they in their forays that they won rank among the most fierce and warlike of the tribes.  The territory claimed by them was indeterminate in boundary but large in extent, and was upon both sides of the Mississippi, the Sacs generally occupying the territory east of the great river and the Foxes that to the westward.


The largest town of the dual tribe was the sac settlement on the north bank of the Rock river about two miles from its mouth.  It was settled about 1730, and grew in population until it was probably the largest Indian community on the western continent.  Its population has been given as 8,000 by some writers.  It had probably less than half that number, but an Indian town of 3,000 is in a class by itself.  Late writers have given it the name of Sau-ke-nuk, but to the pioneers it was known as the Sac village or Black Hawk's village.

On the site of Princton, in Scott county, was one of the three principal villages of the Fox nation, noted in the journal of Zebulon M. Pike.  On the ground where Davenport now stands there was another Fox village of considerable size.  Here tradition locates a large and populous village form the beginning of Indian occupation.  When the first white trappers visited this point, they were told by the Indians that this had been a favorite abiding place for the Indians since their ancestors had journeyed form the eastward.  At one time the Indian Davenport was known as Oskosh.  Later it was called Morgan.

The head warrior of the Fox village when it was called Morgan was Ma-que-pra-um and the principal chief Poweshiek.  This splendid aboriginal Davenport mayor was native of Iowa, born in 1797, of fine stature, weighted 250 pounds and was altogether a striking specimen of his race.  His name meant Roused Bear.  Those who knew him call him a man of great energy, a wise counselor and the soul of honor.  He remembered a kindness, and his word could be relied upon.  At the close of the Black Hawk war he was made head chief of the Fox tribe, ranking in importance and influence both Appanoose and Wapello.  In 1837 he had his village near the present site of Iowa City.  The next year he accompanied the Indian agent, Gen. Joseph M. Street to select a location for a Sac and Fox agency upon the Des Moines river.  When his tribe moved west, Poweshiek made his home near the present location of Des Moines.  From there he went south to Grand river and later with reluctance accompanied his tribe to the distant Kansas reservation, whence some years later a dissatisfied remnant returned to their old Iowa home and purchased an abiding place in Tama county where they now live, known as the Musquakies.


Down to the time of the Black Hawk war which put an end to Indian occupancy of this region the Sacs and Foxes lived for the most part by agriculture, having approximately 1,000 acres in cultivation in this immediate vicinity.  They made annual hunting trips and journeys to secure sugar and lead, but for the greater part of the year they resided in this choice spot upon the Father of Waters where they found life so pleasant.  In 1805, when Pike made his trip up the Mississippi river he estimated the Sac population altogether at 2,850, the Fox population, 1,750.  Twenty years later the secretary of war made an estimate of 4,600 for both tribes.  In 1831, just before the Black Hawk war there were 5,000, this number including those of the tribe living in Missouri.

In 1829 a commission appointed by President Jackson ascended the Mississippi river from St. Louis to treat with the Indians of the upper Mississippi valley for a trnasfer of mineral lands.  This commission consisted of Gen. McNeil of the army, Col. Menard whose home was Kaskaskia, and Claeb Atwater, a resident of Circleville, Ohio, a literary man of note and a close observer.  After reaching civilization Mr. Atwater wrote the hisotry of the expedition under title, "Remarks Made on a Tour to Prairie du Chien, Thence to Washington City, in 1829."  He visited Quasquawma's village of Fox Indians while making a stay at Keokuk which he called the half-breed capital, and told of the construction and arrangements of the Fox wigwams which he afterwards found were typical of such dwellings among the Indians of this region.

"Landing from our canoes," writes Mr. Atwater, "we went to Quasquawma's wigwam and found him and several of his wives and children at home.  These Indians had joined the United States during the late war.  The wigwam we visited was a fair sample of all we saw afterwards in the Indian country, and was covered with white elm bark, fastened on the outside of upright posts fixed in the ground, by ropes made of barks passed through the covering and tied on the inside around the posts.


"I should suppose that this dwelling was forty feet long and twenty wide, that six feet on each of the sides within doors was occupied by the place where the family slept.  Their beds consisted of a platform raised four feet from the earth, resting on poles, tied at that height to posts standing upright in the gournd opposite each other and touching the roof.  On these poles so fastened to the posts were laid barks of trees and upon these barks were laid blankets and the skins of deer, bear, bison, etc.  These were the beds.  Between these beds was an open space perhaps six or eight feet in width running the whole length of the wigwam.  In this space fires were kindled in cold and wet weather and here at such times the cooking was carried on and the family warmed themselves, ate their food, etc.  There was no chimney, and the smoke either passed through the roof or out at the doors at the end of the wigwam.  On all the upper waters of the Mississippi no better dwelling is to be found among the Indians.  Quasquawma was reposing himself on his bed of state when we went into his palace and the only person at work was one of his wives at the door dressing a deer-skin.  He appeared to be about sixty-five years of age; perhaps even older."

At another place in this quaintly worded narrative Mr. Atwater has these paragraphs:  "The Sauks and Foxes were so useful to us as auxiliaries that I feel grateful to them and make a few remarks on their principal men who were with us.

"Keokuk the principal warrior of the Sauks is a shrewd, politic man, as well as a brave one and possesses great weight of character in their national councils.  He is a high-minded, honorable man and never begs of the whites.  While ascending the Mississippi to join us at the head of his brave troops he met, arrested and brought along with him to Fort Crawford two United States soldiers who were deserting from the garrison when he met them.  I informed him that for this act he was entitled to a bounty in money; to which he proudly replied that he acted from motives of friendship toward the United States and would accept no money for it.

"Morgan is the principal warrior of the Foxes and resides at Dubuque's mine on the western bank of the Mississippi.  Though less versatility of talent belongs to him than Keokuk possesses, yet he is a brave man and fond of war.  More than a year before we were in that country this Indian general had gone to the Sioux country and killed a woman and three children of that nation, which act produced the war then raging between the two nations.  This act has since been dreadfully avenged by a large party on some twenty individuals of the Foxes."

Inasmuch as it was this warrior who gave his name to the Indian village upon the site of Davenport prior to the Black Hawk war it would have been pleasant if Mr. Atwater could have brought us some braver deeds than the scurvy one he mentions.  Later Morgan represented the Fox nation at the treaty ground and Mr. Atwater has many compliments for his oratory.  This chief was later called Ma-que-pra-um although the name of his Scotch father Morgan was given to the Indian Village.


In his stay among the Sacs and Foxes Commissioner Atwood noted some qualities that escaped other travelers and historians, namely the ability in narrative chant and song, also the dramatic instinct and talent possessed by these former citizens.  Let him tell of these:

"The Sauks and Foxes who have resided near Rock Island where the French located themselves seventy years since have tunes evidently of French origin and love songs of considerable length.  These Indians have among them what answers to the Italian improvisatori who make songs for particular occasions, and one of them makes it his business to take off with great effect the warriors when they boast of their exploits in the intervals in the music and dancing at the war dances.  He is a great wag, and dresses himself in a manner as grotesque as possible.  On his head on such occasions he fixes two horns of the antelope and nearly covers his face with bison hair diyed red.

"The tune he usually sings his song in contains only three or at most five notes, but it as good a song, probably, and the music quite equal to the poetry and music used by Thespis in the infancy of tragedy among the Greeks.  Whether these improvisatori are of Indian or European origin I cannot certainly say, though from the circumstance of their existence among most of the Indian tribes nearly or quite all the way to the Rocky mountains and high on the Missouri river I am induced to believe those improvisatori derive their profession, as they have their origin, form the natives of the country.

"That the Sauks and Foxes have a considerable number of songs suited to a great many occasions in their own language, I know, and have heard them sung frequently, and regret that my avocations prevented my taking them down in writing at the time they were sung.  When no farther advanced in the civilized life than these tribes are I doubt much whether the Greeks and Romans had more poetry or better than the aboriginals have at this moment.  As to music, the Romans were inferior in the days of Augustus to the Sauks and Foxes fo the upper Mississippi.

"Among the Indians of the Upper Mississippi, the Sauks and Foxes are decidedly the best actors, and have the greatest varieties of plays among them.  Their war dances may be viewed as tragedies in the rudest state, and those dances wherein both sexes appear are truly comedies of no mean cast, considering their origin and authors.  Each person who acts is painted and dressed in a manner entirely proper for the part to be personated by the actor or actress.  To see a play acted of a ludicrous cast of character I have seen a thousand Indians present who were highly delighted with the acting.  Thunders of applause followed some antic prank, while a visible displeasure would sometimes punish a failure to act well.  To raise up a company of good players among them, they only need a settled state of society, fixed habitations and an acquaintance with the use of letters.  To accomplish for them individuals or society must do it, not the United States government whose vast advances of money, goods, etc., never reach their object in a way to be of much service to them.

"As to the tunes of most of the Indians, it is scarcely necessary to add that they are dull and monotonous, because with only from three to five musical notes they must necessarily be so.  Yet even such tunes sung by some soft, clear, melodious voices both of males, and especially of females, the music in them is quite agreeable and even enchanting."

The annual hunting trip of the Sacs and Foxes, which lasted through the winter months, was made necessary by the scarcity of large game in this region during the later Indian occupancy.  Bailey Davenport gives 1816 as the latest date when buffalo were seen here in any numbers.  In July of that year he is quoted as saying, "large herds were driven into the Mississippi river from the Davenport side, and large numbers of them killed, so that jerked buffalo meat was plenty, the Indians trading it to all who wanted it.  The same year a drove of cattle, 500, was driven in from Kentucky, and reached the island after swimming the Rock and Illinois rivers."


In a most interesting autobiography of Ma-ka-tai-she-kia-kiak, the Black Sparrow Hawk, the chief, commonly known as Black Hawk, dictated to Antoine LeClaire and edited by J. B. Patterson this noted warrior relates graphically the manners and customs of his people.  A few extracts are not out of place:

"Marriages.-Our women plant the corn, and as soon as they get done we make a feast and dance the crane dance in which they join us, dressed in their best and decorated with feathers.  At this feast the young braves select the young woman they wish to have for their wife.  He then informs his mother, who calls on the mother of the girl, when the arrangement is made and the time appointed for him to come.  He goes to the lodge when all are asleep (or pretend to be), lights his matches, which have been provided for the purpose, and soon finds where his intended sleeps.  He then awakens her, and holds the light to her face, that she may know him-after which he places the light close to her.  If she blows it out, the ceremony is ended, and he appears in the lodge the next morning as one of the family.  If she does not blow out the light, but leaves it to burn out, he retires from the lodge.  The next day he places himself in full view of it and plays his flute.  The young women go out, one by one, to see whom he is playing for.  The tune changes, to let them know that he is not playing for them.  When his intended makes her appearance at the door, he continues his courting tune until she returns to the lodge.  He then gives over playing and makes another trial at night, which generally turns out favorable.  During the first year they ascertain whether they can agree with each other, and can be happy-if not, they part, and each looks out again.  If we were to live together and disagree, we should be as follish as the whites.  No indisctetion can banish a woman from her parental lodge-no difference how many children she may bring home, she is always welcome-the kettle is over the fire to feed them.

"Dances.-The crane dance often lasts two or three days.  When this is over, we feast again, and have our national dance.  The large square in the village is swept and prepared for the purpose.  The chiefs and old warriors take seats on mats which have been spread at the upper end of the square-the drummers and singers come next, and the braves and women form the sides leaving a large space in the middle.  The drums beat and the singers commence.  A warrior enters the square, keeping time with the music.  He shows the manner he started on a war party-how he approached the enemy-he strikes, and describes the way he killed him.  All join in applause.  He then leaves the square and another enters and takes his place.  Such of our young men as have not been out in war parties and killed an enemy stand back ashamed-not being able to enter the square.  I remember that I was ashamed to look where our young women stood before I could take my stand in the square as a warrior.

"What pleasure it is to an old warrior to see his son come forward and relate his exploits-it makes him feel young and induces him to enter the square and 'fight his battles o'er again.'

"This national dance makes our warriors.  When I was traveling last summer on a steamboat on a large river, going from New York to Albany, I was shown the place where the Americans dance their national dance, (West Point) where the old warriors recount to their young men what they have done, to stimulate them to go and do likewise.  This surprised me, as I did not think the whites understood our way of making braves.

"Labors, Wars, Feasts, etc.-When our national dance is over, our corn fields hoed, and every weed dug up, and our corn about knee high, all our young men would start in a direction toward sundown, to hunt deer and buffalo-being prepared, also to kill Sioux, if any are found on our hunting grounds, a part of our old men and women to the lead mines to make lead, and the remainder of our people start to fish and get mat stuff.  Every one leaves the village and remains about forty days.  They then return, the hunting party bringing in dried buffalo and deer meat, and sometimes Sioux scaps, when they are found trespassing upon our hunting grounds.  At other times they are met by a party of Sioux too strong for them and are driven in.  If the Sioux have killed the Sacs last, they expect to be retaliated upon, and will fly before them, and vice versa.  Each party knows that the other has a right to retaliate, which induces those who have killed last to give way before their enemy, as neither wish to strike except to avenge the death of their relatives.  All our wars are predicated by the relatives of those killed, or by aggressions upon our hunting grounds.

"The party from the lead mines bring lead, and the others dried fish and mats for our winter lodges.  Presents are now made by each party; the first giving to the others dried buffalo and deer, and they in exchange presenting them with lead, dried fish and mats.  This is a happy season of the year-having plenty of provisions, such as beans, squashes and other produce with our dried meat and fish, we continue to make feasts and visit each other until our corn is ripe.  Some lodge in the village makes a feast daily to the Great Spirit.  I cannot explain this so that the white people would comprehend me, as we have no regular standard among us.  Every one makes his feast as he thinks best, to please the Great Spirit who has the care of all beings created.  Others believe in two Spirits, one good and one bad, and make feasts for the Bad Spirit, to keep him quiet.  If they can make peace with him, the Bad Spirit will not hurt them.  For my part, I am of opinion, that so far as we have reason we have a right to use it in determining what is right and wrong, and should pursue that path which we believe to be right, believing that 'whatever is is right.'  If the Great and Good Spirit wished us to believe and do as the whites, he could easily change our opinions, so that we would see and think and act as they do.  We are nothing compared to His power, and we feel and know it.  We have men among us like the whites who pretend to know the right path, but will not consent to show it without pay.  I have no faith in their paths, but believe that every man must make his own path."


In this same autobiography Black Hawk relates an incident which gives an insight into Indian character and discloses a nobility and integrity not often credited to the red man:  "Our nation now had some difficulty with the Iowas.  Our young men had repeatedly killed some of them, and the breaches had always been made up by giving presents to the relations of those killed.  But the last council we had with them we promised that in case any more of their people were killed by ours, instead of presents we would give up the person or persons who had done the injury.  We made this determinatioon known to our people, but notwithstanding this, one of our young men killed an Iowa the following winter.

"A party of our young people were about starting for the Iowa village to give the young man up, and I agreed to accompany them.  When we were ready to start, I called at the lodge for the young man to go with us.  He was sick, but willing to go, but his brother, however, prevented him, and insisted on going to die in his place as he was unable to travel.  We started, and on the seventh day arrived in sight of the Iowa village, and within a short distance of it we halted and dismounted.  We all bid farewell to our young brave who entered the village singing his death song and sat down in the square in the middle of the village.  One of the Iowa chiefs came out to meet us.  We told him that we had fulfilled our promise, that we had brought the brother of the young man who had killed one of his people-that he had volunteered to come in his place, in consequence of his brother being unable to travel, from sickness.

"We had no further conversation, but mounted our horses and rode off.  As we started, I cast my eye toward the village, and observed the Iowas coming out of their lodges with spears and war clubs.  We took the backward trail and traveled until dark-then encamped and made a fire.  We had not been there long before we heard the sound of horses coming toward us.  We seized our arms, but instead of an enemy it was our young brave with two horses.  He told me that after we had left him they menaced him with death for some time-then gave him something to eat, smoked the pipe with him, and made him a present of the two horses and some goods and started him after us.  When we arrived at our village, our people were much pleased, and for their noble and generous conduct on this occasion not one of the Iowa people has been killed since by our nation."

So in simple words and without comment, an Indian narrates this local incident, which is so ethically admirable that it is worthy an epic setting.  There is no finer subject in literature.


Many stories of Indian days are told by early residents of Scott county and by local historians, Barrows, Wilkie and others.  In his history, "Davenport, Past and Present," published in 1858, Franc B. Wilkie relates the story of a duel fought in the spring of 1837 on Willow island, now within the limits of the city of Davenport, between two Winnebago Indians, one armed with a shot gun, the other with a rife.  The quarrel which led to the affair took place upon the Illinois shore, but the combatants and friends, for some reason or no reason, repaired to this side of the river to settle the affair in an aboriginal adaptation of the code duello.

When the duelists had been disposed and the word given, the knight of the scatter gun made hasty entrance into the happy hunting grounds while the rifleman made good his escape to his Rock river home.  From this place of safety he voluntarily returned to certain death, impelled by recognition of the claims of retributive justice demanded by the kinsman of the brave who fell on Willow island.  Down Rock river he came in a canoe paddled by his own sister, and, rounding the point, preceeded to Rock island, singing his death song as he came.  As he kneeled upon the edge of a shallow grave already dug for him avenging knives found his heart and stilled his song of farewell.


During the latter years of Antoine LeClaire's life, large parties of Indians were wont to come to Davenport and camp near his handsome home which crowns the central bluff and commands the finest panoramic view in all Davenport.  Here they would stay and make him a visit somewhat longer than would be sanctioned by prevailing notions of etiquette, but never too long for this best and most hospitable friend of the red man.  When the news of the murder of Col. Davenport reached the Sacs and Foxes in their western home, these Indians, alarmed for the safety of Mr. LeClaire, sent a large party to Davenport, and these friends encamping near, guarded the LeClaire home day and night with deep solicitude and unremitting care that no evil might befall this family so much beloved by them.

In 1837 the small settlement of Davenport had the disquieting news of an impending descent by a war party of hostile Sioux.  It was at the time when a party of the Sacs and Foxes had gathered here to receive an annuity from the government.  When the Sacs and Foxes learned that their ancient enemies, the Sioux, were camped in the timber where Oakdale cemetery is now located, war paint was hastily streaked upon enraged countenances and every warrior saddled his pony and started after Sioux scalps.  But alas for those Davenporters who followed hurriedly to enjoy a bit of genuine frontier warfare, the Sioux had taken alarm and had departed with their scalps still serving to enhance their own peculiar beauty.