THE INDIAN CREEK MASSACRE
By Gladys Thorson, Dist. 248.
William Davis came from Kentucky to La Salle County in the Spring of 1830
and settled on the northern bank of Indian Creek. The first thing he did
when he arrived was a build a cabin and a blacksmith shop. Since his
ancestors had suffered much because of the cruelty of the Indians in
Kentucky, he did not care for the red man either.
After he had finished building his blacksmith shop and cabin he began to build a dam in Indian Creek, because he wanted the water power for a mill.
Soon other settlers came to Indian Creek, who were Allen Howard, J. H. Henderson, William Pettigrew, William Hall and their families.
About six miles up the river there was an Indian village. The chief of the Indians was Meau-ens.
When Davis built his dam in the creek, it blockaded the Indians supply of fish. This angered the Indians very much, but Davis did not pay any attention to their protests.
One night Davis discovered the Indians trying to destroy his dam. This made him "see red", so he caught one Indian and beat him unmercifully. This angered the Indians still more to think that the white man could beat and Indian without the Indian getting revenge.
When fishing time came the Indians were not fishing, yet they were supposed to be getting in their supplies. This looked suspicious to the white men, so Henderson and Davis began to investigate. They found that the village of Meau-ens and also the Waubansee of Paw-Paw Grove were deserted.
Immediately after Stillman's defeat on the 14th of May, Shabbona rode in and told the people to go to Ottawa, especially Davis, since the incident of the beating of the Indian. But Davis couldn't be persuaded to go, for he had been taunted for going a year ago and would not go again. He told the ethers not to go, that there was enough of them to fight the Indians. But Pettigrew, Henderson and Howard took their families to Ottawa and the men came back to their work the same day. There were no further signs of trouble with the Indians so the families of Henderson and Howard returned in a few days.
On the evening of May 19th, Phps, Shabbona's nephew, was coming from warning the white people in the timber above Indian Creek, when he saw about seventy warriors. He reported this to Shabbona. Early on the morning of the next day, Shabbona went to these people at Indian Creek to plead with them to go to a safe place.
The refugees of Ottawa returned on that day, about noon to Indian Creek. At four in the afternoon, there were Henderson, Edward, Greenburg, Hall and Howard and son around the settlement.
Davis' sons were about a half mile away in a field planting corn. Mr. Hall and son, J. H. Hall, were busy at work in the blacksmith shop; Henry George and Will Davis were at the mill; Mr. Norris and Mr. Davis were at the shop; Pettigrew, the women and children were in the house. Someone had just brought a fresh pail of water from the spring and all went to get a drink and to rest.
The Indians were hiding in the surrounding timber and suddenly rushed in on the white people. They were all there in the shop and house and there were only a few in the field. The people in the house and shop could not defend themselves from being slaughtered.
The only two people the Indians spared were the Hall girls. They saved these particular girls because they wanted them for squaws. They had been to Mr. Hall's home before this and tried to buy them from him.
William Hall and wife Mary and their daughter Elizabeth, Pettigrew and his wife and two children, William Davis and his wife and five children, Emery, George and Robert Norris were massacred, making sixteen in all.
While the massacre was going on, George McFadden and William T. Walker were on their way from Dixon to Ottawa. They heard some shots but were in a hurry to reach Ottawa and did not stop to investigate.
The ones that were saved by escaping to Ottawa organized a company to return to bury the dead. When they came back to the dreadful scene they found the body of little Jimmy Davis with nothing but bones left. The flesh had been stripped away by the wolves. The little boy could not keep up with the Indians so with one Indian on either side of him holding out his arms another shot him. They put all the dead in one grave without coffins that is now marked by a State monument.