The Northwest Territory
Excerpts from the 1818 Emigrant's Guide
with additional notes
©Illinois Trails History and Genealogy
1810 Indiana Territory Counties with population and towns are below
Clark, population 5,760, chief town Jeffersonville
Dearborn, population 7,310, chief town Lawrenceburg
Harrison, population 3,695, chief town Corydon
Knox, population 7,965, chief town Vincennes
1810 Wisconsin Territory Counties with population and towns are below
Detroit, population 2,227, chief town Detroit
Erie, population 1,340
Huron, population 580
Michilimakinak, population 615
1810 Illinois Territory Counties with population and towns are below
Raandolph County, population 7,275, Kaskaskia
St. Clair, population 5007
Very little of the Illinois Territory was inhabited by white settlers in 1810.
It was through the Illinois river that the first effectual discovery of the MIssissippi river was made by the French. In 1674, two traders, Joliet and Marquetta, reached the Mississippi through lake Michigan, Fox and Ouisconsin rivers. In 1683, from the report of Joliet and Marquetta, the Chevalier Tonty, M. de la Sale, and Father Louis Hennepin, undertook an expedition of discovery, and through lake Michigan and Illinois reached the Mississippi. The Wabache was soon after exxplored, and small establishments made at Vincennes, Cahokia and Kaskaskia. The greatest part of the country remained in the hands of the savages until within a few past years.
The original white settlers were French from Canada, but these people, few in number, and detached from each other, lived by hunting and Indian traffic, rather than by agriculture. In their manner of life they confromed in great measure to the more numerous savages by whom they were environed.
Whilst Indiana remained a territory, Illinois formed a western part thereof; but when the former became a state, the latter was created a separate territorial government, divided into three United States' court districts, in which political form it now continues. The population is increasing, and must now (1817) considerably exceed 20,000 people.
The Illinois Territory
Kaskaski, the seat of the territorial government, contains about 150 houses, built on a plain; some of them are of stone. This town is 150 miles from Vincennes, and 1000 from Washington. The inhabitants are chiefly French: their principal occupation is raising stock. This town has been settled more than a century
Shawnee Town has about 30 log houses. The chief occupation of the inhabitants is the salt trade. There is here a "United States" Land Office and a log bank is just established. The chief cashier of this establishment was engaged in cutting logs at the moment of my arrival.
Wilkinson Ville, a miserable settlement, takes its name from General Wilkinson, who, in 1801, established a station here for the American troops; it then prospered, but has since fallen into complete decay. The other towns of this territory are - Cahokia, containing 150 small houses, chiefly inhabited by French. St. Philip, fifty miles from Cahokia, is smaller but more pleasant. Prairie du Rochers, containing 60 French families: this is a fine prairie. There are also three very small places, called Belle Fontained, L'Aigle and Edward's Ville.
The land belonging to the Indians lie chiefly between the Wabash and Illinois Rivers. They have considerable reservations north of the Illinois River. The United States have lately obtained a cession of six miles square, at the end of Peoria Lake. The aborigines now remaining are the Soukies, who have three villages; their number is about 3000. The Kaskaskians, Cahokias and Peorias, are much decreased in numbers, in consequence of their wars with the Soukies and Foxes.
Inhabitants of Illinois
The inhabitants of Illinois may, perhaps, be ranked as follows: First, the Indian hunters, who are neither different in character or pursuits from their ancestors in the days of Columbus. Second, the "Squatters" who are half-civilized and half-savage. These are, in character and habits, extremely wretched: indeed, I prefer the genuine Uncontaminated Indian. Third, a medley of land-jobbers, lawyers, doctors and farmers, who traverse this immense continent, founding settlements, and engaging in all kinds of speculation. Fourth, some old French settlers, possessed of considerable property, and living in ease and comfort.
Concerning the state of society, my experience does not allow me to say much, or to speak with confidence. Generally, I suspect that the powers of the legislature are, as yet, weak in their operation. Small provocations insure the most relentless and violent resentments. Duels are frequent. The dirk is an inseparable companion of all classes; and the laws are robbed of their terror, by not being firmly and equally administered. A general character of independence, both as to the means of living and habits of society, appears universal. Here, no man is either thought or called "master;" neither, on the other hand, is there found any coarse vulgarity. A cold, selfish indifference is the common characteristic of the labourer and the judge; and I should hope that Illinois State constitution will not, when formed, authorize and legalize slavery; yet the Ohio practice will, I have no doubt, continue as it now is in Illinois, indenturing negroes for a term of from 10 to 15 years. This baleful practice promises a perpetuatio of practical slavery throughout America.
The rivers of the Illinois Territory are the Mississippi, Illinois, Kaskaskia, Ohio and Wabache (Wabash)
Location of Native Tribes
Location of tribes
Amikwa: on the north shore of Lake Huron opposite Manitoulin, Indiana till 1672; scattered to French settlements afterwards, some of them going to Green Bay.
Chippewa: formerly along both shores of Lake Huron and Lake Superior across Minnesota to Turtle Mountains. In 1640, they were at the Sault. Since 1815 they have been settled in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota. Villages -- Cheboygan and Thunder Bay in lower Michigan, Pawating and Ontonagon in Wisconsin.
Conestoga: an Iroquoian tribe on the Susquehanna River.
Delaware: the entire basin of the Delaware River, in eastern Pennsylvania and southeastern New York with most of Delaware and New Jersey.
Fox: Lake Winnebago and Fox River, with numerous villages along the same.
Huron: Lake Simcoe, south and east of Georgian Bay and afterwards along the St. Lawrence River. Villages -- Andiata and Sandusky.
Illinois: formerly in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois and sections of Iowa and Missouri, along western banks of the Mississippi as far as the Des Moines River.
Menominee: first at the Bay de Noque and Menominee River. In 1671 to 1852 on or near the Menominee and Fox Rivers. Villages -- St. Francis and St. Michael.
Miami: in 1658 at St. Michael about the mouth of Green Bay. Villages -- Little Turtle and Piankaskaw.
Mascoutin: beyond and south of Lake Huron and subsequently on the Fox River.
Mohawk: in the upper part of New York State.
Montagnais: on the St. Maurice River and eastward almost to the Atlantic Ocean.
Neutrals: north of Lake Erie.
Nippising: on Lake Nippising and Lake Nipigon.
Oneida: south of Lake Oneida.
Onondaga: in Onondaga County, New York.
Ottawa: on French River, Georgian Bay. Villages -- Walpole Island and Michilimacinac.
Peoria: on some river west of Mississippi and above the mouth of the Wisconsin River, probably upper Iowa River.
Potawatomi: on the western shore of Lake Huron and south along the western shore of Lake Michigan. Villages -- Milwaukee and
Sauk: the eastern peninsula of Michigan and south of it. Village--De pere Rapids, Wisconsin.
Shawnee: South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Ohio. Seneca: western New York between Lake Seneca and Genesee River. Santee Sioux: near Lake Buadelower, Minnesota.
Teton Sioux: above the Falls of St. Anthony, Minnesota. Winnebago: Green Bay and along the shores of the Fox River and Lake Winnebago. Villages - Red Banks and Doty Island.
Yankton Sioux: north of Mille Lac, Minnesota.