Signposts of History

Through out the Midwest, Illinois and even Edgar County there are information markers along the wayside. They usually tell about the events that happened in history which are noteworthy enough to be recorded in some small way about what happened and when it happened.

There was a famous treaty agreed upon near what is known as Palermo or Hickory Grove in northwestern Edgar County It dates back to 1765 when this part of Illinois was still basically a wilderness.

Starting about 350 years ago, the first Europeans, French Canadian Missionaries and fur trappers entered the Valley of the Mississippi. They established the authority of France from the Gulf of the St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico. That also included from the foothills of Alleghenies to the Rocky Mountains. The Spanish explorer De Soto had discovered the Mississippi River before the French arrived, but little was done to come that far north and to make settlements.

In 1671 a fur trader named Nicholas Perrot met with the Indians in Green Bay and finally what is now known as Chicago to make a treaty with the Indians. He had an escort of Pottawatomie’s that canoed him from Green Bay to Chicago to meet with the Miami’s.  In 1673 Marquette and Joliet and their band were probably the first to generally explore the area and start bringing the teaching of the Jesuits to Illinois.

In the 1600s there were several Indian tribes found in Illinois by the first white explorers who were the French during the LaSalle expedition. There were two main ethnic groups found this area, the Illiniwec found  around the Mississippi River valleys and the Miami south and west of Lake Michigan.

In the 17 and 1800s there was movement of the major tribes, but several new tribes occupied the Illinois area. They were the Fox, Iowa, Kickapoo, Piankashaw, Potawatomi, Mascouten, Piankashaw, Salk, Shawnee, Wea and Winnebago.

The name Illinois, a Delaware word signifying Superior Men. This name was no doubt well applied to the primitive inhabitants of the soil whose prowess in savage warfare long withstood the fierce attacks of the Iroquois on one side and the Sac and Foxes on the other. The Illinois were once a powerful confederacy occupying the most beautiful and fertile region in the great valley of the Mississippi. By the fortunes of war they were diminished in numbers and finally destroyed. “Starved Rock” on the Illinois River according to tradition, commemorates their last tragedy, where it is said the entire tribe starved rather than surrender.

Kickapoo means “stands here and there” . The tribes can now be found in Kansas . Oklahoma and Texas. Before 1832 their main area was found near the Wabash River with Terre Haute as their hub.

After the Colonists of America achieved their Independence  and the pioneers started moving toward the west there was a natural collision between some of the Indian leaders and the settlers.  The Kickapoos found themselves pressured to sell land to the newly arrived white people. The U. S. and the Indians negotiated several treaties: the treaty of Vincennes, treaty of Grouseland and the treaty of Ft. Wayne. As these lands were sold the Kickapoo moved north to be with the Wea.

On July 18, 1765, Pontiac and British representative George Croghan met in a formal peace council which ended the most threatening Indian uprising against the British following the French & Indian war (1754-1763). On may 3, 1763, Pontiac led several tribes to attack Fort Detroit. Several other tribes attacked other forts and only Forts Pitt, Niagara and Detroit remained in British hands. The sieges to these forts failed and Pontiac traveled west to enlist the aid of the French, but they refused. Then came the meeting with Croghan and they traveled from this point to Detroit to finalize the treaty.

The war of the Colonies of British America against New France lasted from 1754 through 1763. It was a part of the Seven Year World Wide War that pitted the English and the French even on the mainland’s of Europe. Of course the dates don’t match because the Seven Year War was from 1756 until 1763.

 At the intersection of Rt. 49 and Edgar County Road 2675 is another marker much like the on found on Rt. 1. It tells about the treaty between Pontiac and the British. If you continue east on this road, make a jog and go a few miles you will also be at the Palermo Marker. This spot on the map was first called Hickory Grove because of a dense stand of those trees. It was thought that Indian trails had been found in that vicinity since 1705.

Following the French & Indian War, 1754-1763, France ceded all  claims to their North America territory called New France to England in the treaty of Paris (Feb. 1763).

English troops quickly  occupied many French Forts and conditions began to change for the Indians. The English were interested in settling not trading.

A popular Ottawa Indian chief, Pontiac was able to unite many of the Northwest Territory Indian tribes in an uprising  that came to be known as Pontiac’s  conspiracy. From early 1763 until 1765 Indians attacked forts and outlying settlements throughout the Great Lakes area, only Fort Pitt and Fort Detroit remained in English control.

After an usual, but unsuccessful 6 months siege of Ft. Detroit many Indians became discouraged and returned home to prepare for the coming winter. Pontiac then tried unsuccessfully to obtain aid from Commandant Neyon De Villars at Fort De Chartres.

According to local tradition, Pontiac then reluctantly met with George Croghan, Sir William Johnson’s Representative at the site of Palermo, three miles east of here in July 1765 to make preliminary arrangements for peace. Following the meeting at Palermo, the two men traveled to Fort Quiatenon (Lafayette, Indiana)  and to Fort Detroit to smoke a peace pipe and sign a treaty ending the uprising.

They came with a bible and their religion, stole our land, crushed our spirit, and now they tell us we should be thankful to the Lord for being saved. – Ponitac, Indian Chief

This marker is found by traveling to Hume on Route 36 and then heading north on the furthest street on the west side of Hume. It is about four miles north on 500th  street and the intersection with the 2700th  Rd on the southeast corner. That is also where Palermo was.

The marker reads: Near here on July 18,1765 Col. George Croghan, deputy superintendent of Indian affairs of the British Government made a preliminary treaty of peace with Pontiac, chief of the Ottawa’s and leader of the of the great Indian confederacy by the terms of the agreement the allegiance of the Indians was transferred from the French to the English, thus securing the Eastern Mississippi Valley for Anglo-Saxon civilization.

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