History of Crawford County by Judge J. C. Allen

Hutsonville (IL) Herald, 26 March, 1909
In My Early Days
by Judge J. C. Allen
Transcribed by Cindy McCachern

Among the first records that were made by the clerk of the circuit court of Crawford county was a certificate of the court of Battlebora county, Virginia, given to one Abram Camp, who on account of his color had been held as a slave. In his petition he averred that his mother was a Mohawk Indian, and the evidence showed this to be true, and the judge decreed he was entitled to his freedom. He came to Illinois and settled a few miles above Vincennes, in what is now Lawrence county, then a part of Crawford. His certificate had become somewhat worn and some of the words almost obliterated, it having been given him by the court in 1786, and he had it recorded in Crawford county so that he could be protected from arrest as a slave by men who were engaged in stealing negroes and taking them south, and when an owner or claimant was not found, selling them into slavery. Some of the descendants of Abram Camp are yet living in the regions where he settled and built a house.

The records of the county also show that in July 1849, three Indians of the Delaware tribe were indicted by the grand jury for the murder of Thomas McCall, a white man. They called themselves William Kilbuck, Captain Thomas, and Big Panther. Kilbuck claimed to be a chief in his tribe, and on being brought before the court for trial, Capt. Thomas and Big Panther, by their attorney, secured for them a continuance into the next term. Kilbuck being a chief disdained to ask for delay and demanded an immediate trial. Judge Thomas C. Brown, a member of the Supreme court, was presiding, and after ordering the two prisoners whose cases had been continued, into the custody of the sheriff, the court proceded to the trial of Chief Kilbuck. The jury found him guilty of murdering Thomas McCall. Motion was made by his attorney for a new trial. The court ordered the prisoners into the cutody of the sheriff and adjourned court until the next day, when he would hear the motion for a new trial. In the morning, the sheriff reported that all three of the prisoners had escaped from his custody. There being no jail, perhaps the guards slept upon the watch. The motion for new trials still pending.

The Kickapoo Indians that occupied the country along the Wabash river on either side, from the old post Vincennes to Ft. Wayne, Ind., seem to have been less troublesome to the settlers than some of the other tribes that often made incursions into their territory, and, having a disposition to steal things that belonged to the settlement, gave white settlers less trouble than other tribes.

After the close of the war, and after most Indians had left that section, a body of Indians were discovered on Africa ridge. The river having overflowed the low lands, the ridge could only be reached by water craft. Much uneasiness was felt by the little settlement of emigrants. It was finally agreed that a deputation of five men should cross the water to ascertain what purpose the Indians had in invading the ridge. So the five men entered the canoes, bearing a white flag, started for the ridge, which was a high point of land one mile east of the village, but before they got to the ridge, the Indians began firing arrows at them. Regarding this as an unfriendly salutation, they turned the canoes to the other shore and escaped injury, though some of the men say they heard the whistle of the arrows rather close to their ears. In a few days the Indians embarked in their canoes and were no more heard of. There has always been some question whether they fired their arrows with intent to kill, or whether they only desired to scare the men who were approaching them.

Upon opening the Indian mounds in which their dead were buried were found bones, skulls, hair arrow heads, stone hatchets, brass and other trinkets, besides rude pottery, supposed to have belonged to the deceased, and supposed to be necessary for the use of the departed when they entered the "happy hunting ground." In two of the mounds were found skeletons of Indians, evidently men of large proportions, that had been buried in a sitting posture, with a flag stone under their bodies and a like stone on either side and a covering of the same material, both bodies facing the east. Whether these were the remains of a more ancient race or whether they have been distinguished chiefs, remains an open question.


This page last updated on February 05, 2015.