COULD ROCK ISLAND BE DAVENPORT? - WOULD DAVENPORT HAVE BEEN ROCK ISLAND? - FOR WHOM WAS DAVENPORT NAMED? - THERE SEEMS TO BE NO DOUBT THAT COLONEL GEORGE DAVENPORT WAS SO HONORED - A LIFE WHICH RANKS WITH THE HEROES OF ROMANCE IN VARIETY AND THRILLING INCIDENT - ONE OF THE FOUNDERS OF THE CITY THAT BEARS HIS NAME - AN INDIAN CEREMONY.
A picture of Colonel George Davenport is included with this chapter.
Should anyone care to riddle himself with a query that has no answer he might try to guess the name the city of Davenport would have borne had Rock Island been Davenport instead,-not Farnhamsburg, nor Stephenson nor Rock Island, but Davenport, indeed,-a name which is as much our own as is the flag which floats from the city hall our flag. Yet so it might have been.
The story of the naming of the sister city across the river has nowhere been definitely written down, but this incident survives with a probability to truth in development and unquestioned verity in foundation. It can be listed among George Ballou's record of things "which ought to be true." It begins in this way. Colonel Davenport and Russell Farnham were associates in fur barter in 1826. Three years later they began to enter land in what has become wealthy and prosperous Rock Island county. Shortly after, the three original county commissioners, Colonel George Davenport, J. W. Spencer and William Vanatta, putting their heads together, planned the turning of an honest penny through platting and marketing a town which should have all the advantages of any other "future great" and the added security which the guns of Fort Armstrong would afford.
A DREAM CITY
They secured a surveyor and on the virgin slate ready to hand worked a page of geometry with stakes and compass and chain, squared the upland into streets and lots, four corner lots to the block and others less valuable, with plazas for markets and landscape gardening, sites for city hall, court house, and state capitol, perhaps-the ambition of early town boomers had no roof,-with streets named for local dignitaries, white and red, ample accommodations for railroad depots and trams, with prophetic planning for schools, religious temples and universities. When this beautiful dream town had been evolved by topographic magic from the rough and ready shanty of Russell Farnham and its associate line of similar edifices the necessity for a name well sounding and commercially adequate appeared. After cogitation selection was made of the congnomen of the earliest settler in all the region, the best known man and the principal proprietor of the handsome map which pictured steamboats snubbed to the bank and the iron horse cavorting in the outlots,-Davenport. This marvel of the cartographer was to be Davenport. It was a rosy plan, but difficulties lurking in the background began to come to the front, and in the style of the true weaver of fiction these complications will be brought contemporaneous with this date which was 1832 or a year or two later.
In 1831 there had been something going on in western Illinois which some have called war and others have styled a massacre. In any event the state was cleared of certain red people who had more or less right to their homes, their cornfields and the graves of their fathers. One incident of this belated chapter of the War of 1812 was the so called battle of Stillman's Run in which Black Hawk's Indians approaching with a flag of truce were fired upon, after which the American soldiers seized by causeless panic fell into frenzied flight that stopped not until there were a few in every northern county of Illinois. Among these swift footed soldiers was a Colonel Strode, not in command of any forces engaged, but present as a spectator-one of the gallery, as the golfers phrase it. Some accuse him of having ordered the shooting of the party with the truce flag-perhaps not-but be his part in the matter little or much, he took full share in the footrace, nor tarried by the way until the declivities of Galena worked a ritard in the staccato syncopation of his footfalls.
Comment upon this deplorable incident among those who had seen real service who knew how to fight and respect a flag of truce, was piquant. Colonel Davenport took a part in the condemnation and several spicy bits of criticism upon the winged colonel from his pen appeared in the Galena Advertiser. Colonel Strode was only human, and these things rankled in his soul, so he bided the time when he could catch Colonel Davenport in a bottle and drive in the stopper.
IN THE LEGISLATURE
The opportunity speedily arrived. Among those elected to the session of the Illinois legislature following the Black Hawk war was Colonel Strode, his ability to run in any line being thus demonstrated. Before that legislature came for sanction the plat of a new city on the Mississippi to be named Davenport. Here ascended Colonel Strode into the air several feet and popped his heels together. He made a better rally than he had done at Stillman's Run, and shot away from the handsome plat in evidence the illuminated title in the corner. In vain Colonel Davenport's friends gathered to his standard. They defeated the name suggested by the Strode faction, but could not save the name of Davenport. The only way out was a compromise and the name written on the plat-by the delegated wisdom of the Sucker state was Stephenson, the name of still another Colonel-colonels were thicker in Illinois after the Black Hawk war than in Kentucky at her best-a sort of receiver at the lead mines. So Stephenson, the new town became and continued until wish men gave it the title of the best known island in the Mississippi valley, and the island, and the arsenal, the city and the railroad-all Rock Island-are known from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and then some miles.
From Colonel Davenport' disappointment came greater pride. In the fall of 1835 a company of men seated one evening on the porch of his handsome home looked across the swiftly rolling river to the incomparable site confronting them and planned a new Davenport which in later years crowned the bluffs in beauty, a town whose scenic loveliness of situation inspired the poet Taylor to write the tribute which began, "Seated upon her hills like a queen upon her divan," etc. Rock Island is all right-a lovely sister in the trinity of Davenport, Moline and Rock Island, but she never could have been Davenport, for Davenport is Davenport, and that is something better.
HOW DAVENPORT GOT ITS NAME
Mrs. Maria Purdy Peck, in her own graceful style and showing carefulness in research, wrote the following valuable and interesting article for the Half Century Democrat, published in 1905:
"It is with pleasure that I respond to the request to furnish a contribution for The Half Century Democrat bearing upon the question of the double claimants for the honor of having bestowed the name of Davenport upon our city.
"That there are two came to my notice first about a dozen years ago when I was collecting material for a series of historical sketches for the National Magazine on 'Davenport and its Environs.' Investigations at that time were carried only far enough to convince myself that not one line or word, written or printed, not one atom of evidence of any kind belonging to the early period, was inexistence to support the claim that Davenport was named for Colonel William Davenport, and so I felt no compunctions about ignoring it entirely.
"Later, when the question became more serious by being brought forward in the newspapers, as a citizen interested in keeping our record straight I gathered some facts which were published in the Sunday Democrat. Some of the material made use of at that time is repeated in this article, much that is important is presented in more condensed form and new evidence is added which strengthens greatly the contention that our city was named for George Davenport.
"Before saying more I wish to explain that to avoid confusion, I shall omit George Davenport;'s military title, which belongs to him by right, and speak of him only as George Davenport. Again, believing that one well authenticated fact is of more value than any number of theories, however plausible they may be, I shall confine myself to facts and deal as little as possible with theories; and further, that my own part is restricted to arranging the evidence supplied by others or discovered in more or less inaccessible places.
"Mr. and Mrs. Louis A. LeClaire, living on the corner of Eleventh and Main streets, are the careful custodians of public document of inestimable value and interest, viewed from historical standpoint. It is the original articles of agreement between Antoine LeClaire, George Davenport and six other men to found a town which was eventually named Davenport. Through the kindness of Mr. and Mrs. LeClaire in loaning and the generosity of the Democrate in reproducing, the document in its original form is presented to the public for the first time. Now what does this paper that has been hidden away and forgotten for so many years tell us about the naming of the town? It tells first that on the 23d day of February, 1836, there was a meeting at which seven persons were present, six of the eight original proprietors and G. C. R. Mitchell (afterward Judge Mitchell), whose name does not appear, but in whose well remembered handwriting the instrument was executed. Where was this initial meeting held? Franc B. Wilkie, author of 'Davenport Past and Present,' says that it was held at George Davenport's house on the island-the picturesque ruin of which overlooks Davenport today. At that meeting the articles of agreement to lay out a town on Mr. LeClaire's claim on the west side of the river was concluded but no name was selected. It speaks of 'a town to be laid out on said land' - further that the parties of the second part with Antoine LeClaire convenant and agree together to lay out a town on or before May 1, 1836, 'said town' occurring twice thereafter. The document tells us that Antoine LeClaire and George Davenport were the leading and controlling spirits in the enterprise. Mr. LeClaire being the owner of the land, is mentioned as the party of the first part, and George Davenport's name leads all the parties of the second part each time they are mentioned.
"On the 18th of May, 1836, another transaction is recorded. At that time Alex. W. McGregor transferred his interest in 'the above named town of Davenport' to Stanton Sholes. Both of the interested parties signed the agreement and the transaction was witnessed by Elnathan C. Gavit, as appears by his signature.
"We will look in vain to find just when or where the name of 'Davenport' crept in but it is here on teh 18th of May, and Mr. Gavit is the only man whose name is registered on the original agreement who had left a printed record as to its meaning.
"In 'Crumbs from my Saddle Bags or Pioneer Life,' page 207, he says: 'Colonel Davenport bought an interest in Mr. LeClaire's claim and the town was named after Davenport.' A short time before his death Mr. Gavit dictated a letter to the late Mrs. Nettie Howard in answer to a letter of inquiry from her in which he stated that he could not have been mistaken for he was present when the name was accepted and that it was Colonel George Davenport for whom the town was named. This illuminating evidence of Mr. Gavit supplies most perfectly the missing link.
"But now let us examine the names of the proprietors inscribed on the agreement to ascertain what influence they may have exercised in choosing a name, taking the last one first.
"Alexander W. McGregor was a lawyer who came to this vicinity and began the practice of his profession in the fall of 1835, probably about six months before the evacuation of Fort Armstrong and the departure of Colonel William Davenport. He sold his claim a few months after purchase to Stanton Sholes as has been shown above.
"L. S. Colton is credited in the list of old settlers as an 1836 arrival and was for a time one of the substantial citizens of Davenport.
"P. G. Hambaugh was a non-resident, a sutler by occupation. He left soon after the organization of the town company for Florida, where he died. He was a warm friend of George Davenport, as is attested by a letter in which he inquires about the prospects for the town, the probabilities of its being the capital of Iowa, besides many things of a more intimate personal nature.
"T. F. Smith was not present when the company was organized. His name was signed by A. LeClaire; Captain Thomas F. Smith was in command of Fort Armstrong from December, 1832, until June 8, 1833, being relieved by Colonel William Davenport on that date.
"When comes 'James May by George Davenport, Agent,' a name which requires for our purpose more careful scrutiny. The only attempt at an argument that has ever been advanced to prove that the town was named for Colonel William Davenport, has rested with James May. The extraordinary feat of thrusting such honor upon a purely military man, without military distinction, a comparative stranger to nearly all connected with the undertaking, without pecuniary or other interest in it, we are told was preformed by James May because of personal attachment, and so forth. Captain James May was for seven years engaged in steamboating on the upper Mississippi, but according to his own statement he left the river in 1834, or one year after Colonel William Davenport came to Fort Armstrong, and went to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, where he remained for many years. When the town company was organized he had been away two years. Yet, his faith in the venture was such that he was willing to make the investment and placed his interest in the hands of George Davenport, who acted as his agent. Volumes could be written, and not dispose more effectually of the story that Captain James May used his influence to have the town named for Colonel William Davenport than is done by the entry 'James May by George Davenport, Agent,' on the original articles of agreement.
"William Gordon's name follows. It is a well known fact that Major William Gordon was here temporarily, having been sent by the government to survey Mr. LeClaire's Indian claim. While thus engaged he became interested in the town proposition, surveyed the site and platted it, with the assistance of his associate, Mr. Bennett. The fort at that time was being abandoned by the government and before the last entry, on May 4th, on the articles of agreement, it had been evacuated and Colonel William Davenport had departed.
"This leaves George Davenport and Antoine LeClaire, the first signers and the only ones who were prominently and permanently identified with the town. For Mr. LeClaire on the subject of the name we will let his nephew, J. A. LeClaire, speak. In order to settle definitely the disputed question Mr. LeClaire gives his evidence under oath.
J. A. LECLAIRE'S AFFIDAVIT
" 'State of Iowa, Scott county, ss.
'I, J. A. LeClaire, being duly sworn upon oath, do depose and say that I am a nephew of Antoine LeClaire, deceased, and for many years was intimately associated with him as his secretary. The story of the beginning of the city of Davenport and all the circumstances connected therewith were told to me many times and in my presence to different persons by the said Antoine LeClaire, and he always made the point very clear that it was named for his friend, George Davenport. After reading the articles of agreement for the laying out of the city of Davenport, I wish to add to the above statement that the only hitch in the beginning was that George Davenport as well as the other proprietors wanted to name the town LeClaire, but Mr. LeClaire was determined that the honor should be conferred upon Mr. Davenport. He said that Mr. Davenport was the older man, had been here longer and that it was more fitting that the town should bear his name. They finally compromised by agreeing to name the town at the head of the rapids, which was a part of the original plan, LeClaire. Further I wish to say that Mr. Antoine LeClaire furnished personally all the data concerning the early history of the town, its name and so forth, used by Franc B. Wilkie in his history of "Davenport, Past and Present." Mr. Wilkie consulted with Mr. LeClaire in his office many times during the preparation of the matter and I was present on such occasions.
'J. A. LECLAIRE.
"Signed and sworn to before me by the said J. A. LeClaire this 22d day of September, 1905.
'Notary Public, in and for Scott county, Iowa.'
WILKIE ADDS A WORD
"Franc B. Wilkie, author of 'Davenport, Past and Present,' published in Davenport in 1858 by Luse, Lane & Company, in both the historical and biographical text, says that the town was named for George Davenport. That the assertion was not made by a comparative stranger on hearsay evidence is proven by General Flagler who tells us in his History of Rock Island Arsenal that the material for the biography of George Davenport was furnished by Hon. Bailey Davenport, youngest son of George Davenport and as has been shown Antoine LeClaire furnished the historical data. Besides Captain James May was a resident of Davenport when 'Past and Present' was published. He furnished the matter for his own biography, a large part being his own composition. He was apt with his pen and would he not at that time have challenged in the most public manner a serious mis-statement of facts concerning the derivation of the name of the town of which he was one of the original proprietors if such had been the case? That he did not is proof positive that no mistake was made by Franc B. Wilkie.
"Under date May 7, 1897, Mr. A. C. Fulton contributed to the weekly Outlook an article which contains many interesting facts and particulars on the subject under discussion. In it he claims that his investigations are not confined to today nor yesterday, but go back more than a half century, to 1842, when he made his first inquiries of the original settlers about the naming of the town, and received the answer, invariably, that it was named for George Davenport, the elder.
MORE INCONTESTABLE PROOF
"In one of the letters in which Willard Barrows gives the history of Davenport and Scott county, published in the Davenport Gazette in 1859, Mr. Barrows makes this unqualified and unequivocal statement: 'The town was named for Colonel George Davenport,' Mr. Barrows at that time had been a resident of Davenport twenty-two years. He knew everybody and had the traditions of the place well grounded in his memory. It is therefore a moral certainty that no contention over the derivation of the name had arisen when this declaration was published - August 25,1859. The Gazette files are in the public library and may be consulted by any one interested.
MORE LIVING WITNESSES
"John M. Lyter, in an address before the Pioneer Settlers Association as president, in 1895, characterized the story that any Davenport but George was ever thought of originally in connection with the naming of the town as 'absurd, a wrong and a folly.'
"Joe Hebert says that from earliest childhood he was brought up in the faith that this town was named after George Davenport, and he resents very keenly any attempt to destroy that faith now. Mr. Herbert's father, a boy in his early teens, came to Rock island with his uncle, who was in the employ of the government as gun smith, in 1821. He remained on the island until Davenport was laid out and then came over to this side of the river, where he lived until his death in 1867. As no dispute over the identity of the Davenport for whom the city was named ever arose during his father's lifetime, Mr. Hebert says he never heard him make a statement concerning it. What he does distinctly remember is that on occasions of general rejoicing over events marking the city's progress his father would say: 'I'm glad this place was named for Musquakie's father!' meaning by Musquakie George L. Davenport, his playmate and lifelong friend.
"John Littig gives testimony on the subject in these words: 'I came to Stephenson-now Rock Island-in 1837, to Davenport the year following. The town at that time had not over 150 inhabitants. I went to work for Mr. LeClaire and remained in his employ for eight years. I lived in Mr. LeClaire's family and have heard him say many times that the town was named for George Davenport.'
A PORTRAIT IN EVIDENCE
"In the home of the grandchildren of George Davenport in this city hangs a portrait in oil, painted from life, of George Davenport. In his hand he holds a map with the words across the top 'Map of the City of Davenport.' What does it mean? The meaning is as plain as though it were emblazoned in golden letters across the canvas-'I am the progenitor for whom the city of Davenport was named."
"The present controversy has its origin of course in the unfortunate coincidence that two men by the same name were living on Rock island when Davenport was founded. Without questioning the good faith or motives of those who, at this late date, are responsible for raising the issue, it must be contended that they are in error, and that it si established by a preponderance of testimony that George Davenport, the co-worker and faithful friend of Antoine LeClaire, until the day of his death, is the man whose name our city bears."
COLONEL GEORGE DAVENPORT, ONE OF THE ORIGINAL PROPRIETORS OF DAVENPORT, AND AFTER WHOM THE CITY WAS NAMED.
From Wilkie's "Davenport Past and Present."
In his most interesting history "Davenport Past and Present," Franc B. Wilkie, the brilliant Davenport newspaper man who after leaving this city made his reputation as a war correspondent for metropolitan papers, went to Chicago and became Wilbur Story's managing editor and European representative for the Chicago Times, has this biography of Colonel George Davenport. It is as full of romance as a work of fiction and the story is told with the fascination of Wilkie's admirable diction.
George Davenport was born in the year 1783 in Lincolnshire, England, and, at the age of seventeen years, was placed with an uncle (master of a merchant ship) to learn the seafaring business. During the next three years he visited many seaports on the Baltic and of France, Spain and Portugal. In the fall of 1803 the ship sailed with a cargo from Liverpool for St. Petersburg, and shortly after its arrival an embargo was laid upon all the English vessels in that port-the vessels taken possession of and their crews thrown into prison by the Russian government. The crew of Mr. Davenport's vessel were confined in an old stone church where they remained during a long and dreary winter, suffering very much from cold and hunger. In the spring they were released and their vessel restored to them. After returning home their next voyage was from Liverpool to New York, with a cargo of goods-this was in the summer of 1804. They arrived safely at their destination and had discharged their load and taken in a cargo for Liverpool and were on the eve of sailing when an accident took place which changed the whole course of his life. Everything was in readiness for sailing, they had commenced to heave up the anchor, when one of the sailors was knocked overboard. Standing near the stern, at the side of the vessel, Mr. Davenport saw the accident and immediately jumped into a small boat and caught the sailor by the hair as he was going down the last time-drawing him up and holding him until they came to his assistance. In jumping into the boat he struck one of the seats and fractured his leg very badly; and there being no surgeon on board, the captain had him taken to the city and placed in the hospital, with directions for every possible care to be taken of him. After remaining there some months, he was advised to go into the country to recruit his health. Acting upon this advice, he went to New Jersey and stopped at the pleasant village of Rahway, where he remained some time and then went to Carlisle, Pennsylvania. While there he became acquainted with a young officer, Lieutenant Lawrence, who was recruiting for the army. Taking quite a liking to him he proposed that if he would enlist he would get him the appointment of sergeant, which proposition was accepted, and he received the appointment of sergeant in Captain McLeary's Company of the First Regiment of Infantry. He then went to Harrisburg on a recruiting expedition and remained until they had enlisted the number of men required, after which they returned to Carlisle Barracks and remained until the spring of 1806, occupied in drilling and leaning all the arts of war. Then they received orders to join the army at New Orleans, under the command of General Wilkinson. They walked across the mountains to Pittsburg and there they procured boats and rowed down the river to New Orleans.
On their arrival at that city they were kept constantly at work repairing and building new fortifications and putting the place in a state of defense. During that summer the soldiers suffered very much from sickness. In the fall the troops received orders to march to Sabine river, against the Spaniards; which expedition has since been known as the Sabine Expedition. The troops were placed in keel boats and worked their way up the Mississippi and Red rivers, suffering every kind of hardship and fatigue, hot weather, bad water and any quantity of mosquitoes, could afford, before they arrived at Nachetochez. During this trip Mr. Davenport steered one of the boats and came very near being drowned. In consequence of the boats sheering and swinging around the steering oar knocked him into the river, but fortunately as he came up he seized hold of the blade of the oar and held on until he was rescued. After remaining here a short time he was sent by General Wilkinson with dispatches to Fort Adams, on the Mississippi. He took one man with him, got his provisions into a canoe and started down Red river. When they had reached the great bend they met with an accident that came near losing them their lives. The canoe struck a snag and upset them in the river, but by clinging to the drift wood they made out to reach the shore, making a narrow escape with their lives. Losing their canoe and all of their provisions, they were now obliged to strike across the country to the Mississippi, traveling over swamps, bayous, sloughs, having frequently to get logs together and make rafts to cross on. During this travel they were nearly eaten up by mosquitoes. At night they would build a fire and make a dense smoke to keep them off. While one of them would sleep, the other would watch, keep up the fire and look out for alligators. They were several days in reaching Fort Adams and were nearly worn out, living only upon what berries and wild fruit they could find.
Peace being made with the Spainards, General Wilkinson returned with the troops to New Orleans and as soon as they arrived they commenced to put the place in a state of defense against the Burr expedition, which was on its way down the river. There was great excitement in the city. The military were kept constantly on duty and in a short time the city was declared under martial law. During this time Mr. Davenport was on duty as orderly to General Wilkinson. About the middle of December, 1806, he was sent with a guard to arrest Dr. Errick Bollman, which was effected about 12 o'clock at night. They surrounded the house, posting sentinels around it to prevent any possible escape. When they knocked at the door a person came and opened it and inquired what they wanted. They replied "Dr. Bollman." The person stated the doctor was not there. They, however, entered, searched the house and found the doctor in his room, dressing himself, when they arrested him for treason, taking him down to the fort for safe keeping.
During the stay of the troops in New Orleans they suffered dreadfully from sickness, not being accustomed to the climate. It frequently became Mr. Davenport's turn to take charge of the men detailed to bury the dead. This was a dreadful duty. The graves could not be sunk more than three feet, owing to the water being so near to the surface, while the men had to bail out the water as they dug the graves; and when the coffin was put in they had to hold it down with their spades until the grave could be filled up with earth to keep the coffin from floating. The sun's scorching heat and the intolerable stench from the shallow graves made this the hardest duty that was possible for any one who performed and a great many lost their lives from the effects of it. After the arrest of Burr and his associates and everything had quieted down, most of the troops were sent to Natchez, Fort Adams and other more healthy places.
In spring 1807 Mr. Davenport was sent with a party of troops to the Homichita river, in the Choctaw country, where they built a block house and remained there until fall, when they returned to Natchez. Mr. Davenport then received orders to go on a recruiting expedition to fill the regiment, which was nearly decimated by losses from sickness. He sailed from New Orleans to Philadelphia, where he enlisted quite a number of men, going from there to Baltimore and thence to Winchester, Virginia, 1809. Here he remained until the spring of 1810, when he was ordered west to join his regiment. They walked over the mountains to Pittsburg. Here they procured keel boats and proceeded down the Ohio, then up the Mississippi and Missouri to the barracks at Bellefontaine. He remained here until the summer 1812, when he went with Captain Owen's company in boats up the Mississippi to an island just below the mouth of the Illinois. Here they built temporary fortifications and remained until fall to protect St. Louis and the settlements from being attacked by the Indians.
About this time General Howard organized an expedition to go against the Indians on the Illinois river at Peoria lake, where the Pottawattamies had several villages. The regular troops were ordered to proceed by water to Peoria while the rangers and the volunteers proceeded across the country. They got their keel boats in readiness and had the "cargo boxes" double planked so as to make them ball proof-made loop and port holes for musketry and light pieces of cannon. They arrived at the foot of Peoria lake without seeing any Indians-landed their men and commenced to build a blockhouse on the top of a high bank which overlooked the prairie for some distance. After finishing this they sunk a well to supply it with water. Having arranged things so as to draw up the water with a sweep, it was necessary to have a grapevine to attach to the pole. Mr. Davenport, having noticed some grapevines in the woods a short distance from the blockhouse, took a man with him and soon found the article in question. They cut it and were trimming it when an unusual sound attracted their attention. They became alarmed and started for the fort and when thy reached the edge of the timber, he climbed a tree to reconnoiter the prairie in the direction of the blockhouse, and so to his horror he beheld the prairie swarming with Indians, moving towards the blockhouse. He descended as fast as possible and told his companion that their only chance of escape was by getting under the bank and running for their lives under the shore of the lake, endeavoring thus to reach the blockhouse before the Indians discovered them. They started but weren't halfway to the fort when the battle commenced. The firing from the blockhouse and the yells of the Indians on the prairies above them increased their speed considerably and they made, perhaps, the fastest time ever known. When they approached near the blockhouse, they found it impossible to reach it as the Indians were nearer than they were and their only chance now was to get to the gun boats at the lake. When they were about halfway to the boats the Indians discovered them and commenced firing at them, and yelling like a pack of devils, made towards the boats. This alarmed the men on board, who commenced to push out into the lake, but fortunately one of the boats grounded on a sand bar, which accidentally saved Mr. Davenport and his companion. They rushed in to the water and , wading to the boat, put their shoulders to the bow and pushed it into deeper water. During all this time the Indians were firing at them and balls kept whizzing by, making it anything but comfortable. They soon got on board and under cover. Mr. Davenport determined on revenge and, pointing one of the small cannons, he took good aim at the red skins and applied the match. The gun missed fire. When hunting for a primer someone elevated the piece too high. When he applied the match the piece went off with a tremendous explosion, so much that he thought the whole boat was blown up. The muzzle of the gun had been elevated above the port hole and when it went off the whole load struck the side of the boat. By this time the brisk fire kept up from the blockhouse and boats, obliged the Indians to retreat.
Nothing of any importance occurred until about the first of December, when a large party of Pottawattamies arrived with a White flag and sent in three of their chiefs to the fort and proposed to meet the commanding officer in council. This was agreed to and arrangements were made for the meeting of a certain number of chiefs and braves in council. A place and time were agreed upon and when the time arrived about forty of the principal chiefs and braves approached the place, dressed in their full Indian costume, headed by their principal chief, the old Black Patridge. They were met by the commanding officer and all the officers of the post. After shaking hands and passing around the peace pipe the old chief explained his business. They wished to be friends with the Americans, to stop war and make a treaty of peace with him. The commanding officer complimented them for the decision and promised to send their talk to the Superintendent of them Indian affairs, General Clark, at St. Louis, as he had no orders or authority to treat with them. He proposed that they should send a delegation of their chiefs and warriors to St. Louis and he agreed to send some of his soldiers with them, to see them safe through the White settlements. This was agreed to. So they selected thirteen of their principal men and one woman. The commander ordered Mr. Davenport to select four trusty men and take charge of the Indians and escort them to St. Louis. This was rather an unpleasant duty for five men to start out with a lot of hostile Indians, but it had to be done-there was nothing to be done but to obey orders, and accordingly he got a sufficient supply of provisions and placed them aboard of a perogue and, embarking his party, started down the Illinois River. The principal chiefs were Gomo, Senatchwine, Shiggashack, Comas and Black Patridge. They had traveled but one day when the river froze up, obliging them to abandon their boat and travel by land. Each took a small quantity of provisions they also had a small keg of whiskey and after giving each one at the party a dram, it was proposed to hide it with provisions, so that the Indians could have it on their return, but the old Black Patridge insisted that they should drink it all then. Mr. Davenport told him he could not do so. He then directed them to move on and his men to follow in the rear, while he remained to put away the keg of liquor. After they were out of sight he took the keg and concealed it in a different place then mentioned by the Indians, having become alarmed at their conduct, and being afraid they would return and take the liquor and get drunk. In that case they were sure to have trouble and, perhaps, lose their lives. He soon overtook the company but all day the old Black Patridge was moody and discontented. At night they encamped on a point of the river and he managed to place the Indians on the point and his own camp behind them, so that they could not go back without his knowing it. Each had a guard to watch the other. They traveled in a cautious manner for two or three days when they discovered a smoke across the prairie, which alarmed the Indians. They stated that there was a large war party of Sacs out and thought from the smoke it must be they, and if they saw them they would be killed, they could not be saved from these formidable braves. This was not very comfortable news but they avoided the danger by avoiding the prairie and following the timber and making no fire at night. They traveled on for a number of days and when they began to approach the Mississippi a new danger began to threaten the imagination of the Indians. The rangers were ordered to scour the country as far as the mouth of the Illinois, and there was great danger of falling in with them and their firing on them before the rangers discovered there were any whites with them. When camping at night the whites hung their hats and coats upon poles, so that in case of an approach the Indians would not be fired upon. In this way they traveled, and after suffering very much from the inclemency of the weather, and from hunger, they arrived at St. Louis and were very well received and were soon called to the council chamber and a treaty concluded with the Indians, who left five of their number as hostages for its fulfillment.
Governor Clark inquired of Mr. Davenport "how it had been possible for him an his party to reach the white settlements without being seen by the rangers, who were ordered to guard the frontiers from a surprise by the Indians?" Mr. Davenport replied, "that he had not seen anything of the rangers nor any signs of their ever having been to the mouth of the Illinois." Some of the officers of the rangers were present and overheard the conversation and when they left they swore they would show Mr. Davenport's party whether there were rangers on the lookout or not.
Governor Clark supplied the chiefs with presents and provisions and directed Mr. Davenport to take the party up the river in a perogue, and land them at the mouth of the Illinois river, on the north side, so that they might return home in safety. After getting everything in order they started on their return. They were obliged to keep on the Missouri side all the way up for fear of the rangers firing on them, as they were very angry at the statements that had been made by Mr. Davenport and had sworn vengeance against him and his party on their return. They, however, reached home in safety.
Mr. Davenport returned to Bellefontaine and remained there until the spring of 1814, when the first regiment was ordered to join General Brown on the Canada line. They shipped on keel boats and went down the Mississippi and up to the Ohio to Pittsburg. Then then crossed over the mountains by forced marches until they arrived at the town of Erie. They immediately embarked on two vessels and sailed to Fort Erie, where they were ordered to be reviewed. They put themselves in as good order as possible, paraded and received orders at once to march to Lundy's Lane and arrived in time to be in the hottest part of the battle. This was very hard service, as they had just performed a long fatiguing journey without an hour's rest. But the army was hard pressed and had need of every man that could be brought into action during the battle. Mr. Davenport had to assist in taking one of the officers, who was severely wounded, from the field, and laid his musket down to perform the service, and when he returned it was gone. He soon found one by the side of a British soldier, which he took, and found to be one of the Glengarian muskets, a very excellent exchange for the one he had lost (this old relic is still kept in the family in memory of the war). Mr. Davenport was in many very perilous situations during this service time, often being placed on picket-guard duty and during the siege of Fort Erie he was on duty at one of the batteries night and day, with scarcely a moment's rest. He was also on duty at Black Rock in charge of a battery, a part of the time. At the time of the sortie he was one of the attacking party which drove the British from their works. After the siege was over the troops crossed back again to Buffalo and the First Regiment marched to Pittsburg and then by boats to Bellefontaine. After being there a short time his term of service expired and he got an honorable discharge, having given his adopted country ten years of very active duty and of the very best part of his life. At this time he was employed by Colonel William Morrison, of Kentucky, government contractor, as his agent to supply the troops with provisions-the commissary department being at that time under the management of the contractors. He now came to St. Louis and took charge of several keel boats, loaded with the necessary provisions. A large drove of cattle were also purchased and driven through the country. They started up the river and arrived at the mouth of the Des Moines river late in the fall and concluded to stop there for the winter, building a number of log huts for the men and for storing the provisions. It being so late, it was difficult to build huts in sufficient numbers. The best he could do was to put poles into the ground and nail up green hides for siding and roofing, and when they got dry they made a tolerably warm house. This post was called "Cantonment Davis." The next year Fort Edwards was built there.
In the spring of 1816 the Eighth Regiment and a company of riflemen, under the command of Colonel Lawrence (the very same officer and friend with whom Mr. Davenport had enlisted ten years before), embarked on boats and started up the river. They arrived at the mouth of Rock river and examined the country for a site for a fort, and the result was the selecting of the lower end of Rock island as the most suitable point. They landed on Rock island on the 10th of May, 1816. As soon as they had completed their encampment he employed the soldiers to cut logs and build store houses for the provisions, and had a bakehouse and oven put up. This was the first building ever erected on this island. The soldiers now set to work to build the fort, which was named Fort Armstrong. At this time there lived a large body of Indians in the vicinity, numbering some 10,000, divided in three villages, one on the east side of the river, near the foot of the island, called Waupellow Village, and about three miles south, on the bank of Rock river, stood the famous village of Black Hawk, and on the west side of the river stood a small village named after an old brave, Oskosh. Upon the first arrival of the troops on the island the Indians were very much dissatisfied but the officers took great pains to gain their friendship by making them many presents and they soon became reconciled and were most excellent neighbors. During the first summer they would frequently bring over supplies of sweet corn, beans, pumpkins and such other vegetables as they raised, and present them to Mr. Davenport and the officers, with the remarks that they had raised none and that they themselves had plenty, invariabley refusing to take any pay.
During the first summer in incident occurred which gave Mr. Davenport an Indian name. Some of his cattle having strayed off the island, he took some men and went over to look for them in the bottom at the mouth of Rock river, but not finding them, they were returning along the bank of the river, in front of the Indian village. When opposite some of the lodges a party of drunken Indians came rushing out towards them-his men took to their heels but he stood his ground; some dozen of the drunken Indians seized him by the arms, legs and coattail, while another drunken fellow held a large black bottle in his hand and would stagger up and try to hit him on the head with it, which blow would require all his strength to dodge. This manoeuver was repeated a number of times until he was nearly exhausted and had about made up his mind that the "cursed Indian" would break his head with the bottle, when an old Indian, a friend of his, happened to see what was going on, when he cried out "Saganosh, Saganosh!" ("he is an Englishman.") These words operated like magic-they loosed hold and commenced to shake him by the hands and endeavored to be the cleverest fellows in the world. He was ever afterward known by the different tribes as "Saganosh." At this time he resided near the fort and continued to supply the troops with provisions but in the second year he built a double log cabin and storehouse adjoining, about a half mile from the fort, and where the present residence is. He now, with what little money he had saved, purchased a small stock of Indian goods and commenced the "Indian trader." At this time there was a large tribe of Winnebagoes or, as the French called the, Peons, that inhabited Rock river country and the Winnebago swamps. This tribe had a very bad name and were always very hostile and treacherous and they had been in the habit, for several years before, when a trader came among them with goods, to kill him and take the goods, as the easiest way of making a short bargain, so that the French traders had been afraid, for some time, to go among them. Mr. Davenport not knowing much about the Indians at this time, and hearing that they had large quantities of furs and that no traders had visited them for some time, concluded that this would be the best place for him to trade in. As soon as the French traders (most of whom were in the employ of the American Fur Company) heard of it, they advised him not to attempt it, as he would be killed and robbed, but he determined to try it and fitted out five or six pack-horses, loaded them with goods and taking two Canadians, Gokey and Degree, with him, started up Rock river. They soon reached the Winnebago encampment. He immediately got the chiefs and principal men together and made them a "talk." He told them he had heard that they were in want of many kinds of goods, and that they had plenty of furs, so he had come up to trade with them, but that before he had started he had been told that they were a very bad people and was advised not to go among them, but he did not believe these stories, and that he had come among them to see for himself. The chiefs shook him by the hand and expressed great satisfaction at the confidence he had in them and assured him if he would trade with them he should never have cause to complain. They then sent a cryer through the different encampments to announce the arrival of a trader, and that they must treat him well. He now unpacked his horses and placed his goods in one of the lodges, which was offered him. He commenced to trade and soon sold all his goods and had received the best kind of furs in payment, and at very good profits. He now loaded up his horses and started back with Gokey, leaving Degree in charge of a part of the furs, while he returned to get another supply of goods. He now visited all the different encampments and met with very good treatment-his trade soon increased so largely that he established several trading posts on Rock river and maintained them for many years, making a very profitable business.
At this early time most of the Indian goods were brought from Mackinac, through Green bay, then up the Fox river to the Portage, there packed across to the Wisconsin river, then down the Mississippi in Mackinaw boats. He once sent an order to Mackinaw for an assortment of Indian goods, camping equipage, four hands and a Mackinaw boat, and everything complete was delivered to them at Rock island. His employes were Canadians, hired for three years, at $125 per year, and were very faithful hands. Shortly after he had commenced trading up Rock river he made a very narrow escape. About this time several war parties had gone to attack the settlements, one of which had been unfortunate and had lost some of their men, so that, on their return, the relations of those that were killed felt very hostile and determined to be revenged at the first opportunity. Not knowing anything of this state of things Mr. Davenport packed up some goods on four or five horses, taking Gokey with him, and started up Rock river. They arrived at Prophetstown and went immediately to their old friend, Wetaico's lodge. The old man met them but seemed much alarmed. He shook them by the hand and said he was very sorry they had come at this time; he was afraid they would be killed as there was a war party just about to start from the upper end of the village, headed by the "Crane," who had lost some relatives, but that he would do all he could to save them. This was said to them in the Chippewa tongue as that was generally used by the traders. He invited them to sit down, when the yells of an approaching party of Indians were heard. He told them to keep cool and show no signs of alarm. In a few minutes a large crowd surrounded the lodge, whooping and yelling like so many devils. The old man now stepped to the door of his lodge and inquired what they wanted (in the Winnebago language.) They replied that "they had come to kill the white men." The old man now made them a long speech, claiming the rights of hospitality and the sacredness of his lodge. He told them they were fools! Why be in so great a hurry? That they had plenty of time, as the trader was going to encamp just below the village and would remain three or four days to trade! This seemed reasonable and the crowd assented to it and retired. The old man returned and said he could save them, but they must follow strictly his counsel. He then directed them to go just below the village and pitch their tent near the bank of the river-unpack their goods, turn out their horses and make every preparation for remaining several days, and in the meantime he would place a light canoe and paddles a little way below their tent and as soon as it was dark to slip away from their campfire, jump into the canoe and float down the river until they were out of hearing of the village, and then to paddle for their lives, but to lay by in the high grass in the daytime as they might be pursued and headed off across some of the bends of the river. They followed his advice strictly, put up their tent, built a fire and spanceled their horses, arranged their goods and made preparations for cooking. Some few Indians came to them and desired to trade, but they put them off until next day on the score of fatigue. They did this to throw them off their guard. The hours seemed very long but darkness came at last and they stole away from their encampment, reached the canoe and floated quietly down the river, and as soon as they were out of sight of the camp-fires they began to paddle their canoe swiftly down Rock river. Several times during the night they saw camp-fires ahead of them on the bank of the river and were obliged to drift past them on the opposite side under the shadow of the bank. As soon as it was daylight they landed, hauled their canoe into the tall grass and concealed themselves during the day and when it was dark, they started again and paddled all night. Next morning they found themselves at the mouth of Rock river and soon reached Rock Island. Sometime afterwards old Wetaico visited Rock Island, when he gave an account of what occured. The next morning after the escape, he said, the whole village turned out-men, women and children, marched down to the tent, headed by the "Crane" and his war party, armed with their tomahawks, bows and arrows, and painted-singing their war song and beating their drums. They advanced, dancing their war dance, and surrounded the tent. But they soon found "that white man is very uncertain." Owing to the bad feeling of this part of the tribe he did not go among them for some time afterward. The Winnebagoes frequently came down to the island to trade, in small parties, but they appeared very sullen and shy. They did not like to visit the fort much. Mr. Davenport felt satisfied that if they got a good opportunity they would kill some of the whites.
In 1818 Mr. Davenport gave up the agency of supplying the troops and turned his attention entirely to the Indian trade. He made arrangements for building him a house and store and got the commanding officer (Colonel Morgan), to point out the place where he could build without interfering with the forts. The place selected was the one where his late residence now stands. He put up a double log cabin, with a chimney between them. He now went to St. Louis and purchased a supply of goods and provisions and bought a small keel boat (Flying Betsey) loaded her with them, and returned to Rock Island. Heretofore Mr. Davenport had confined his trade principally to the Winnebagoes but he now commenced to trade with the Sacs and Foxes in opposition to American Fur Company's traders. During the winter he was constantly traversing the prairies of Iowa and visiting every encampment in person. He, in this way, seldom left their trading post. In the spring he would have all his furs and selected all the best furs, while the old French traders had very little energy and skins nicely packed and prepared-feathers all sacked, bees-wax and deer tallow all barreled-then would load his boar and go to St. Louis and sell his cargo, which always commanded the highest market price, owing to the good condition in which everything was put up. It was customary with the Sac and Fox Indians residing in this vicinity, when they finished planting their corn, for the young men to go on a summer hunt for buffalo and deer, while the old men and most of the women would go up to the lead mines in their canoes and dig mineral, smelt it in log furnaces and return back again about the time their corn would be fit to eat. On these occasions he would load his keel boar with provisions and a few goods and go up to Fever river (or "Mau-cau-pi-a-sepo," or Small Pox river, as the Indians called it), and trade with the Indians for their lead. He also visited the mines on the west side of the Mississippi (where the Dubuque mines were) and obtained large quantities of lead of them, which branch of the trade was very valuable.
In the fall of 1819 Mr. Davenport and his family came very near being massacred by the Winnebagoes, a party of twenty of whom, headed by the "Crane" arrived about sundown and said they wanted to trade. He told them he never opened his store after sundown, that they would have to wait until next day. At this they seemed to be very much dissatisfied but he invited them into the room occupied by his men (adjoining the room he lived in) and gave them plenty to eat and pipes and tobacco and told them they could sleep on the floor in front of the fire. At this time he had only two men at home, Jerome and another trader. About bedtime Jerome came into his room and told him he did not like the conduct of the Indians, that they did not act right, that they had laid down without taking off their moccasins or other things and that he was afraid to sleep in the room with them and that they intended mischief. He told Jerome to bring in the other man and their blankets and sleep on the floor. The two rooms were divided by a chimney with a short passage at one end. Jerome and the man came in with their blankets and guns and laid down on the floor with their guns beside them. Soon after one of the Indians came in and said he wished to sleep on the floor as the other room was rather crowded. He secured permission to do so. As soon as the men had laid down Mr. Davenport examined everything to see that the guns were all in their proper places, as he generally kept a number always loaded, standing against the wall ready, in case of an attack. He then put a sack of sweet corn against the door (locks were scarce in those days), and retired to bed, but not to sleep. About the middle of the night, Jerome turned over and in doing so rattled his powder horn. This alarmed the Indian who sprang to his feet and, giving a yell, rushed into the other room. By this time Mr. Davenport and his men were up, with their guns in their hands, and when the Indians, in the other room, came rushing through the narrow passage, leveled their guns at them and told them to move back or they would fire on them. The Indians saw that they were prepared to fire, so they retreated and shut the door at their end of the passage and placed every thing they could find against it to barricade it. Mr. Davenport did the same at the other end and, with his men, stood on guard until sunrise, expecting every moment some kind of attack would be made on them, but during the whole time they could not hear the least noise. As soon as it was light they began to reconnoiter, but could not see anything of the Indians-they had gone. Some time afterwards Mr. Davenport learned that the party had started out with the intention of killing the whole family and plundering the store. Their plan, at first, was to get Mr. Davenport into the store, where they intended to tomahawk him and then kill the rest without firing a gun, for fear of alarming the fort. Their next move was to place the Indian in the room to sleep, so that he could get up when all were asleep and tomahawk as many as he could and at the same time to give a yell as a signal that they should come to his assistance. But a guilty conscience frightened him, when the Frenchman moved. He thought he was going to take the start of him. Failing in this attempt they still kept prowling about the neighborhood, watching for any straggleer who might venture out alone. They at last succeeded. Two soldiers got permission to go into the woods to cut a stick for axe helves. They were cautioned not to go far from the fort but at sundown, when the roll was called, it was found they were missing, and fearing they might be lost in the woods, one of the cannons was fired off, so they might know the direction of the fort. Next morning Lieutenant STubbs and a party of soldiers came up to Mr. Davenport's house and informed him that the two men were missing. He stated that he heard, about noon, the report of two guns and had no doubt they were killed. He then got all of his men and with the soldiers formed a line and struck across the island in the direction of the sound of the gun, and when they had reached the middle of the island they found their bodies. Both had been shot and scalped.
In 1822 Mr. Davenport established a trading post at Fever river in charge of Amos Farrar. This was a very good point at this time for trade with the Indians, for furs and lead. He also had trading houses at Flint Hills, mouths of the Iowa river, Waupsipinica, and Maquoketa rivers, besides three on Rock river. To attend to them all and have them properly supplied, kept him constantly traveling from one post to another, sometimes on foot, sometimes in a canoe, and sometimes on horseback. His principal depot was on Rock island. Here al the furs and skins had to be collected together and here the outfits of goods were made up and sent off into the different parts of the country. In 1823 the first steamboat arrived-the Virginia. She was loaded with provisions for Prairie du Chien and was from Wheeling. Mr. Davenport was called upon to pilot her over the rapids. He took his old "patroon debuts" with him. They were three or four days getting over. At this time quite a number of persons went up to Fever river to work the mines. Colonel William Johnson, of Kentucky, had obtained permission of the government to work the mines and passed up the river with several keel boats loaded with provisions and tools. In a short time quite a village was formed at Fever river. Two magistrates were appointed about this time by Governor Cass of Michigan territory. The following letter, written at the request of some of the inhabitants, will show the state of feeling at the idea of being in that territory:
ROCK ISLAND, January, 1825.
Sir: About a year ago two magistrates' commissions were forwarded by Governor Cass, of Michigan, to two respectable inhabitants of Fever river. They were recommended by a gentleman from Michigan, then concerned in a commercial way at that place, on the presumption that it belonged to Michigan and one of the gentlemen so appointed acted by virtue of his commission. The people were dissatisfied at the idea of being attached to a territory so remote and with whom, in a whole age, they could have no social intercourse. Last spring they had the pleasure of finding that the settlements on Fever river rightfully belonged to Illinois-upon which the magistrate, acting under the authority of Michigan, declined and since sent on a formal resignation. Of course they are at present in an awkward situation in the absence of civil authority and it is the cordial wish of the permanent population of that place that no time may be lost in appointing the persons (recommended by them some time since as magistrates), namely, Moses Meeker and John Connelly,
Most respectfully, sir, yours,
D. D. SMITH, Esq., Atlas, Pike county, Illinois.
N. B. Have the goodness to send me a prompt reply (by the military express, who pass through your town), stating, circumstantially, all the forms necessary to the completion of the business as I am much concerned in the ultimate welfare of the upper country and you will much oblige.
I am informed that lately the sheriff of Prairie du Chien (Crawford county, Michigan territory), visited the mines people and exacted poll tax from them, some of whom were simple enough to pay, others manfully refused and it gave umbrage to all. G.D.
The mails were carried at this time by express from the fort; the nearest postoffice was at Clarksville, Missouri. In the spring of 1825 Mr. Davenport received the following letter:
GENERAL POST OFFICE
WASHINGTON CITY, 23d April, 1825
Sir: From the information I have received I conclude it will be agreeable to you to accept of the office of post master at Rock Island, Missouri. I herewith send you a copy of the law for regulating the post office, a key for opening the mail and forms and directions conformable therewith. You will find these at the Clarksville post office Missouri. After executing the bond and taking the oath you may proceed in the duties of the office without waiting for a commission.
I am, sir, your most obedient servant,
To Mr. George DAvenport.
In the fall Mr. Davenport received his commission but it was tow or three years before he took the oath of office, as there were no officers to administer it.
In the fall of 1826 Mr. Bostwick, purchasing agent of the American Fur Company, arrived at Rock island and made an arrangement with him to become a member of that company, purchased all his goods, trading posts, etc. Gave him the management of the trade from the mouth of the Iowa river up to Turkey river. Mr. Russell Farnham having charge of the trade below and his main depot at Fort Edwards. Mr. Rollette had charge of the trade above-his principal depot at Prairie du Chien. A few extracts from his daily record may give some idea of the times:
1826. October 21st. Thomas Forsyth, Indian agent, and Dr. Craig, left here on Captain Culver's keel boat for St. Louis.
October 30th. Mr. Rollette's keel boat passed down. Mr. Ingraham on board.
October 31st. Mr. Lamalease left here for Rock river to build trading house.
October 31st. Lieutenant Clarke arrived with keel boat loaded with corn for St. Peters.
October 31st. Brought mail. Sent mail by Lieutenant Clarke for Prairie du Chien.
November 1st. Great fire across the river-all our hay stacks burnt.
November 1st. Russell Farnham arrived in keel boat Oregon.
November 1st. Mr. Burk, a Virginain, arrived, who had been lost sixteen days on Rock river.
November 4th. Mr. Farnham left for St. Louis.
November 4th. Mr. Burk left for the mines-furnished him with a horse.
November 5th. Mr. Man's keel boat passed down from lead mines.
November 5th. John K. Forsyth arrived from trading house on Rock river.
November 6th. Casnor and my men arrived with a canoe load of coal from Rock river.
November 6th. Keel boat Oliver Perry came in sight; put to, on account of the wind; arrived on the 7th.
November 8th. Oliver perry passed up at 9 o'clock a. m., two bark canoes arrived from the mines; laid by on account of the wind; Captain Lowe on board.
November 9th. Keel boat Missouri arrived at 10 o'clock and departed at 3 o'clock.
November 13th. Boat arrived from Rock river.
November 15th. Winnebago chief, Carimonne arrived from Waupsipinica.
November 20th. Keel boat Missouri, Captain Otis Reynolds, from the mines, loaded with lead, for Davenport & Company. Martin Smith, and two men, arrived to establish a wood yard at the mouth of Rock river.
In the spring of 1827 Mr. Davenport started on a visit to his native place in England, after an absence of twenty-three years. He remained there about a year-visited London and all the principal cities. He returned in May, 1828, to Rock island. During this year the first settlements were made in this vicinity. Two families (Judge Pence and his son), arrived on the 9th day of December at Black Hawk's lodge. Several more families came directly after, among whom were John Spencer, Johan Case, William Brasher, Rinnah Wells, Joshua Vandruff, Archy Allen, George Harland, Thomas Hubbard, and John Danforth. On the 27th of December, Mr. Davenport's daily record says: "George Wells came down for provisions, he having settled on the rapids. He makes the tenth settler in our neighborhood and one preacher, Rev. John Kinney, who preached the first time on the island the 29th of January, 1829." During the first year the settlers suffered very great hardships and Mr. Davenport furnished many of them provisions and groceries until they got their farms under cultivation and raised a crop.
In the spring of 1829 the Indians returned to their village and found the whites occupying their houses and cornfields. Mr. Davenport used all his influence with the Indians to induce them to remove to the west side of the Mississippi and partly succeeded. Waupello removed his village to Muscatine Slough and Keokuk, with part of the Sacs, removed to Iowa river; but Black Hawk and the remainder of the Sacs refused to go, claiming that they never had sold their lands.
In Mr. Davenport's record we find: August 5th. Steamboat Josephine, with two keel boats, arrived; purchased 1,000 bushels of corn to pay the Fox chiefs for their improvements. August 14th, the Fox chiefs refused to receive the corn for fear of being blamed by the Sacs for selling their village.
The Indian agent and the commanding officer used every argument to get Black Hawk to move west of the Mississippi, but without effect. In 1830 Mr. Davenport visited Washington city to see the President (General Jackson), and secretary of war and recommended that the government pay the Indians a few thousand dollars (which they could well afford to do) and that from his knowledge of their character and customs he felt satisfied that they would remove without any further trouble to the government. This plan was not approved of by the president, who declared that they should move off.
In the spring of 1831 the Indians again returned to their village and shortly afterwards General Gaines, with four or five companies of infantry, arrived. Governor Reynolds also received a requisition for a number of companies of mounted volunteers, which were soon raised and were on their way to Rock river, under command of General Joseph Duncan. Shortly after General Gaines arrived. He notified Black Hawk to meet him in council at the agency (which was half a mile from the fort.) On the day appointed Black Hawk and a large number of warriors arrived on the south side of the island and marched across to the council chamber. They were dressed in the full war costume and most of them armed with bows and arrows and war clubs and what seemed singular, it was noticed that their bows were all bent and ready for use. Directly afterward General Gaines arrived with his staff officers and an orderly but had no guard. They entered the council room and arranged themselves at one end, while Black Hawk and his party occupied the other three sides and the center. Mr. Davenport noticed that they acted in a very bold and defiant manner and that the friendly Indians appeared to be much alarmed. He went to one of the officers and advised him to send the orderly as quickly as possible to the fort and have a strong guard sent up, which was done at once. The council commenced by General Gaines addressing them and stating why he had come, and that they must move off or he would be compelled to use force. He made the inquiry, "who this Black Hawk was, that was giving the government so much trouble?" This offended Black Hawk very much and the Indians became very excited. They began to call across the room to one another and seemed to try to increase the excitement of those on the outer side by their yells and whooping; but fortunately the guard now came up, which fact, Mr. Davenport thought, was all that saved them from being attacked and massacred.
The first Black Hawk war now commenced but was of short duration. When the large number of volunteers arrived in sight of the village Black Hawk thought they were too strong to fight and accordingly he moved to the west side of the river during the night. In the spring of 1832 Black Hawk returned with his party, more hostile than ever. The inhabitants all flocked into the fort with their families for protection. Mr. Davenport fortified his house, built a stockade around it with bastions at two corners, in order to use a small swivel for protecting the sides and had his men all well armed and their places pointed out in case of an attack. He had been informed that Black Hawk party had determined in council that he and two others (General Clark and the Indian agent) should be killed, as they had done so much to weaken their party. Neapope was appointed to carry out this threat; but Black Hawk having passed on up Rock river and the troop following him, the people here were not molested.
During the Black Hawk war Mr. Davenport received a commission from Governor Reynolds, appointing him acting quartermaster general, with the rank of colonel. In the latter part of the summer of 1832 the cholera broke out among the troops on the island and raged fearfully for about ten days; 100 died out of a population of 400; every person was dreadfully alarmed. An incident occurred during this time which will show the state of feeling. Mr. Davenport, Mr. LeClaire and a young officer were standing together in front of the store one morning. The officer had been giving them an account of the number of deaths and new cases when an orderly came up to them with a message from General Scott to Mr. LeClaire, requesting him to come down to the fort as soon as possible. Mr. LeClaire looked at Mr. Davenport to know what excuse to make. Mr. Davenport, after a moment, replied to the orderly to tell General Scott that Mr. LeClaire could not come, as he was quite sick. The officer and orderly laughed heartily at Mr. Davenport and Mr. LeClaire being so much alarmed; but next morning the first news they received from the fort was that these two men were dead. At the time the cholera broke out at Fort Armstrong there were two Fox chiefs confined in the guardhouse for killing the Menomonies at Prairie du Chien, and had been given up by their nation as the leaders, on the demand of our government, and were awaiting their trial. Mr. Davenport interceded for them with the commanding officer, to let them out of their prison and give them the range of the island with a promise that they should be forthcoming when they were wanted. The Indians were released and they pledged their word not to leave the island until permitted to do so by the proper authorities. During all the time the fearful epidemic raged upon the island and every person was fleeing from it that could get away, these two chiefs remained on the island, hunting and fishing and when sickness had subsided they presented themselves at the fort to await their trial, thus showing how binding a pledge of this kind was with this tribe of Indians. Mr. Davenport, for many years, was in the habit of crediting the chiefs of the different villages for from $50,000 to $60,000 worth of goods annually, having nothing but their word pledged for the payment of them, which they always faithfully performed.
In 1833 Mr. Davenport built his large residence and moved out of his old cabin. In 1834 Rock Island county was organized and John Spencer, John Vannatta and Mr. Davenport were elected the first county commissioners of that county. The county seat was located and the town of Stephenson laid out (now the city of Rock Island) and the lots sold at public sale. They established roads and built bridges in various parts of the county. They were reelected several times and their administration of the affairs of the county gave very general satisfaction to the people.
In the fall of 1835 Mr. Davenport, Major Smith, Major Gordon, Mr. Hambaugh, Mr. McGregor, Mr. Colton and Captain May purchased a claim of Mr. LeClaire (he retaining an eighth part) upon which to lay out a town. The proprietors agreed to name it Davenport, in honor of their friend, Mr. Davenport. The town was surveyed and laid out by Major Gordon,assisted by Mr. Bennett, who were, at this time, engaged by Government to survey Mr. LeClaire's reserves.
In the spring of 1836 Mr. Davenport sold the site upon which the famous Rock Island City was laid out (near the mouth of Rock river) retaining a quarter interest. In the fall of that year he and some others purchased an interest in Mr. LeClaire's reserve at the head of the rapids, upon which they laid out a town, which they named LeClaire, in honor of Mr. LeClaire; and about the same time he purchased an interest in the town of Port Byron, on the opposite side of the river, thus becoming interested in the rise and progress of all the towns in this vicinity.
In the fall of 1837 Mr. Davenport accompanied Keokuk, Wapello, Poweshiek, Black Hawk, and about forty of the principal chiefs and braves of the Sac and Fox nation, to Washington city, and assisted Government, by his influence with the Indians, in making a very good purchase of a large portion of Iowa. About this time Mr. Davenport purchased an interest in Mr. LeClaire's reserve, adjoining the town, upon which they laid out the first addition to the town of Davenport, of about twelve blocks, and the following season another addition was laid out by Mr. LeClaire, of which Mr. Davenport purchased one third interest. In the spring of 1838 Mr. Davenport and Mr. LeClaire bought a large stock of goods and opened a store, under the firm of Davenport & LeClaire, on the corner of Front and Main streets; this was considered the largest store in the country for some time. Persons came a great distance to purchase their goods and provisions. Mr. Davenport still continued the Indian trade at his store on Rock island. The Indians came in from the Iowa, Des Moines and Cedar rivers, about every three months, for their supplies.
In 1838 Mr. Davenport received the following letter from one of the proprietors of Davenport, who was sutler of the troops in Florida, which may be interesting to some of the readers of this work:
TAMPA BAY, September 3, 1858.
Dear Sir:-I have no doubt you have long since concluded that a certain person, P. G. Hambaugh, is "co-ga-go;" I did anticipate the pleasure of returning to your place ere this, but have been disappointed. I have no doubt but you know as much about the Florida war as I do; there will be another winter campaign, but whether on a large or small scale I am not able to say. Some gentleman in Havanna has proposed furnishing blood hounds for the purpose of hunting down the Indians in the Hammocks, and his plan is looked upon by a majority of experienced officers as the most feasible one yet suggested. The government will, I presume, condemn this mode of warfare, however, as being too inhuman to be practiced by a civilized nation, and it is too expensive to be undertaken by any individual.
I am told Davenport "goes ahead." I wish to God I was there with a few thousand dollars. What is the prospect of securing the town to the proprietors by pre-emotion? I hope you and Mr. LeClaire will use every exertion to do so and also to protect my interests while I am absent. I make this request because I shall undoubtedly (if I live) return there and make it my permanent residence; nothing keeps me in this infernal country but the prospect of making enough to place me in easy circumstances when I return and another winter's campaign will do it, unless I meet with some unforeseen misfortune. Write to me and give me all the local news; tell me if Davenport is the county seat and if it is to be the capital of Iowa; tell me who the prominent men about Davenport are. What has become of Gordon?
Remember me to all my friends, and particularly to Mosquakee.
P. G. HAMBAUGH.
In the fall of 1841 the Indian payments were made at the agency on Des Moines river. The Indians from all th different villages gathered there to receive their annuities. Mr. Davenport and most of the Indian traders attended there, during the payment. Governor Lucas, superintendent of Indian affairs in Iowa, made an attempt to make a treaty with the Sacs and Foxes to purchase all their lands within the state but utterly failed. He had determined he would make a treaty with the Indians without the assistance of the traders, and that they should have nothing to do with it. He was particularly opposed to the American Fur Company (then Pierre Chouteau, Jr., & Co.). He ordered them to retire to their trading house, about a mile from the agency, and posted a guard of dragoons at the house to prevent any communication with the Indians. When he had assembled the chiefs and braves of the two tribes he made them his proposition-to buy their country. The chiefs replied that they always consulted their old friends, whom they had known for many years, and had the greatest confidence in and that they had understood their old traders had been placed under guard and as they were not allowed to have any communication with them, they, therefore, declined making any treaty with him.
In 1842 Governor Chambers made a treaty with the Sacs and Foxes. He took a different plan. He told the chiefs to select any of their white friends they might choose to assist them in making a treaty. They selected Mr. Davenport, Mr. LeClaire, Mr. Sanford and Mr. Phelps. By this treaty the Indians sold all of their lands within the state of Iowa and agreed to remove west of the Missouri river.
After this treaty Mr. Davenport withdrew from the Fur Company and gave up the Indian trade, being engaged in this business about twenty-three years, during which time he had made twenty trips to St. Louis with his keel boat. The shortest time in coming from St. Louis to Rock island was eleven days, having a fair wind most of the time. The longest trip was forty days. Mr. Davenport now devoted his time to the improvement of his property in Davenport and Rock Island. About this time he laid out an addition to the flourishing town of Moline.
Mr. Davenport was a very free and generous disposition, very jovial and very fond of company. He now generally spent the winters in St. Louis or Washington city. If he traveled on a steamboat or while at his hotel he would always have a crowd around him, listening to his anecdotes and stories. He never sued any one in his life and could not bear to see any one in distress without trying to relieve them. He enjoyed excellent health and spirits and had the prospect of living many years to enjoy the comforts for which he had toiled so hard for so many years, but he was struck down by the hand of one of a band of robbers in his own home, on the 4th of July, 1845. He died aged sixty-two years.
AN INDIAN CEREMONY
After Col. Davenport was murdered his remains were buried near his island home. At his grave a memorial was erected by his Indian friends a cedar post whereon in ceremonial fashion had been painted various records. When the remains were removed to Chippiannock cemetery near Rock Island a replica of the post was carved in limestone and placed at the new resting place. The post is now in the possession of Rock Island friends of the Davenport family. The Gazette editor was fortunately present when this post was set up in 1845 and wrote this account for the Gazette"
"An Indian Ceremony,-On last Friday afternoon we were witness to a strange and interesting ceremony performed by the Indians over the remains of Mr. Davenport who was murdered at his residence on Rock island on the 4th inst. Upon preceeding to the beautiful spot selected as his last resting place, in the rear of his mansion on Rock Island, we found the war chief and braves of the band of Fox Indians then encamped in the vicinity of this place reclining on the grass around his grave at the head of which was planted a white cedar post some seven or eight feet in height.
"The ceremony began by two of the braves rising and walking to the post upon which with paint they began to inscribe certain characters while a third brave armed with an emblematic war club, after drinking to the health of the deceased from a cup placed at the base of the post walked three times around the grave in an opposite direction to the course of the sun, at each revolution delivering a speech with sundry gestures and emphatic motions in the direction of the northeast. When he had ceased he passed the club to another brave, who when through the same ceremony, passing but once around the grave, and so on in succession with each one of the braves. This ceremony, doubtless would appear pantomimic to one unacquainted with the habits or language of the Indians, but after full interpretation of their proceedings they would be found in character with this traditionary people.
"In walking around the grave in a contrary direction to the course of the sun they wished to convey the idea that the ceremony was an original one. In their speeches they informed the Great Spirit that Mr. Davenport was their friend, and they wished the Great Spirit to open the door to him and to take charge of him. The enemies whom they had slain they called upon to act in the capacity of waiters to Mr. Davenport in the spirit land-they believing that they have unlimited power over the spirits of those whom they have slain in battle. Their gestures toward the northeast were made in allusion to their great enemies the Sioux, who live in that direction. They recounted their deeds of battle with the number that they had slain and taken prisoners. Upon the post were painted in hieroglyphics the number of the enemy that they had slain, those taken prisoners, together with the tribe and station of the brave. For instance, the feats of Wau-co-shaw-she the chief were thus portrayed. Ten headless figures were painted which signified that he had killed ten men. Four others were then added, some of them smaller than the others, signifying that he had taken four prisoners, one of whom was a child. A line was then run from one figure to another, terminating by a plume, signifying that all had been accomplished by a chief. A fox was then painted over the plume, which plainly told that the chief was of the Fox tribe of Indians. These characters are so expressive that if an Indian of any tribe whatsoever were to see them he would at once understand them. Following the sign of Pau-to-to-to who thus proved himself a warrior of high degree were placed twenty headless figures, being the number of the Sioux that he had slain.
"The ceremony of painting the post was followed by a feast prepared for the occasion which by them was certainly deemed the most agreeable part of the proceedings. Meats, vegetables and pies were served up in such profusion that many armfuls of the fragments were carried off-it being a part of the ceremony which is religiously observed that all the victuals left upon such an occasion are to be taken to their homes. At a dog feast which is frequently given by themselves, and to which white men are occasionally invited the guest is obliged to eat all that is placed before him or hire some other person to do so, else it is considered a great breach of hospitality.
"With the feast terminated the exercises of the afternoon which were not only interesting but highly instructive to those who witnessed them."