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Indians west of the Mississippi River to treat them as independent nations. In these negotiations with the aborigines of Iowa the authorities, at various times, entered into treaties with the Sioux, in the north, and with the Sacs and Foxes, in the south, the government purchasing the land from the Indians just as Louisiana was purchased from France. The Black Hawk purchase was acquired by means of the first treaty made with the Sac and Fox Indians in reference to Iowa lands. This treaty was made September 1, 1832, and included a portion of country bounded as follows: Beginning on the Mississippi River, where the northern boundary line of the lands owned by said Indians strikes said river, thence up or westward on said line fifty miles, thence in a right line to the Red Cedar River, forty miles from the Mississippi River, thence in a right line to the northern part of the State of Missouri, at a point fifty miles from the Mississippi River, thence by the said boundary line to the Mississippi River, and thence up the Mississippi River to the place of beginning. The western boundary line was a very irregular one, as it followed the same general direction as the Mississippi River. It ran in a general direction from the north in a course a little west of south, the line being considerably east of Iowa City. The second purchase was made in 1837, October 21, and included a sufficient amount of territory to straighten the boundary line. The western boundary of the Black Hawk purchase being a very irregular line, the treaty of 1837 was designed for the purpose of straightening said boundary line. By this treaty the Indians ceded a tract of country west and adjoining the Black Hawk purchase, containing one million two hundred and fifty thousand acres. Upon survey, however, the number of acres proved insufficient to make a straight line, as was originally intended. The Indians stipulated to remove within one year, except from Keokuk's village, which they were allowed to occupy five months longer.
Although it is believed that the Indians, especially the chiefs, made this treaty in good faith and scrupulously adhered to it as they understood it, yet it was unsatisfactory to both Indian and settler and many misunderstandings arose but seldom if ever ended in bloodshed. The fact soon became evident that the white man had marked this goodly country for his own and that the Indian would have to abandon it peacefully according to the treaty stipulations or in the end be forcibly ejected. In accordance with the wise council of Keokuk, Poweshiek and Wapello they chose the
The last treaty made with the Sac and Fox Indians comprehended all the rest of their lands in the State. This treaty was made at Agency City, in the present limits of Wapello county, and was concluded October 11, 1842, proclamation of its ratification having been made March 23, 1843, and session was given to all that part lying east of Red Rock on May 1, 1843. The last date, therefore, is the period when the eastern part of Marion county was thrown open to white settlement.
The line to distinguish the United States from the Indian territory crossed the Des Moines River a short distance above the present site of the village of Red Rock and was run by G. W. Harrison, United States Surveyor, during the year 1843. East of this line settlements were made as early as 1843, about seventy families settling in the county: west of the line no settlements were permitted till October, 1845. It was on the 11th day of October, 1845, just three years after the treaty at Agency City, that
the whole of Marion county was thrown open for settlement. The boundary line drawn in accordance with the treaty of 1837, crossed through the northwestern corner of Washington county and the southeastern part of Keokuk county, so that a portion of these two counties was Indian territory and a portion subject to settlement from 1837 to 1843, and Marion county, like these two counties, afterward had two periods of first settlement. The treaty of 1842 was the most important of all.
The principal chief in this treaty was Keokuk. A gentlemen of an adjoining county heard this chief make a speech on that occasion, which he pronounces an unusually eloquent address. He says that, in his opinion, "the former standing of Keokuk as an Indian orator and chieftain, as a dignified gentleman and a fine specimen of physical development, was not in the least overrated." During the Black Hawk trouble his voice was for peace with the white man, and his influence added much to shorten that war. As an honor to this chief, and owing to his influence in bringing about the treaty, a county was called Keokuk.
Thus from being at first the sole owners and occupiers of the soil the Indians disposed of territory time and again until finally the title to the whole of Iowa was vested in the general government.
As they ceded their lands to the United States, strip after strip, they gradually withdrew, and the white settlers took their place as possessors of the soil. The aborigines were not forcibly ejected from their lands as in other parts of the country, but the change was effected by a legitimate proceeding of bargain and sale.
As result of this peaceful arrangement, and the earnest efforts of the government to carry out, to the letter, the provisions of the treaties, the early settlers experienced none of the hardships which fell to the lot of the early settlers in other parts of the country, where misunderstanding about the ownership of the soil gave rise to frightful massacres and bloody wars. The Indians gave no serious difficulty, and seldom, if ever, disturbed the early settlers of this county, after they had rightfully come into possession of it.
By the various treaties made with the Sac and Fox Indians, the government paid these $80,000 per year, by families. Mr. William B. Street, of Oskaloosa, was disbursing clerk for John Beach, Indian agent, during the year 1841, and still retains in his possession the receipts for the part payment of his annuity, in his own handwriting, and the marks of the chiefs in signing.
We give an extract, including the names of part of the Indians who were at that time living at Kish-ke-kosh's village, which was located in the eastern part of Mahaska county.
"We, the chiefs, warriors, heads of families and individuals without families, of the Sac and Fox tribe of Indians, within the same agency, acknowledge the receipt of $40,000 of John Beach, United States Indian Agent, in the sums appended to our names, being our proportion of the annuity due said tribe for the year i841:
"We certify that we were present at the payment of the above-mentioned amounts, and saw the amounts paid to the several Indians, in specie, and that their marks were affixed in our presence this 19th day of October,
U. S. Indian Agent. "THOMAS MCCRATE,
Lieut. 1st Dragoons.
"We, the undersigned chiefs of the Sac and Fox tribe of Indians, acknowledge the correctness of the foregoing receipts.
"KEOKUK," his X mark.
After the treaty of 1842, and the establishment of Fort Des Moines, the following year, the headquarters of the Sac and Fox Indians were removed from Agency City in Wapello county, to Fort Des Moines. Keokuk, the head chief of the Sacs, established his village some five miles southeast of Fort Des Moines, and the beautiful prairie on which he and his kindred dwelt, continued to bear his name for many years after the Indians were removed. Poweshiek, chief of the Foxes, lived on Skunk River, near the present site of Colfax. The Indian agent, Major Beach, and his interpreter, Josiah Smart, before referred to, had their quarters on what was called Agency Prairie, east and south of the present site of the capital. Still another Indian village, ruled over by Hard-Fish, was located near Des Moines.
The residence of these various Indian tribes in the vicinity of Des Moines dates from May 1, 1843, at which time, according to stipulation of the treaty of 1842, they removed west of a line running north and south through the town of Red Rock. As before remarked, the government, according to the provisions of the various treaties, paid to the Indians, annually, quite a sum of money.
The payments were made in silver coins, put up in boxes, containing five hundred dollars each, and passed into Keokuk's hands for distribution. The several traders received each his quota according to the several demands against the tribes admitted by Keokuk, which invariably consumed the far
greater portion of the amount received. The remainder was turned over to the chiefs and distributed among the respective bands. Great complaints were made of these allowances to the traders, on the ground of exorbitant prices charged on the goods actually furnished, and it was alleged that some of these accounts were spurious. In confirmation of this charge over and above the character of the items exhibited in these accounts an affidavit was filed with Governor Lucas, by an individual to whom the governor gave credence, setting forth that Keokuk had proposed to the maker of the affidavit to prefer a purely fictitious account against the tribe for the sum of $10,000, and he would admit its correctness, and when paid the money should be divided among themselves, share and share alike. To swell the traders' bills, items were introduced of a character that should brand fraud upon their faces, such as a large number of blankets, coats, articles which the Indians never used, and telescopes, of the use of which they had no knowledge. This showed the reckless manner in which these bills were swollen to the exorbitant amounts complained of, in which Keokuk was openly charged with being in league with the traders to defraud the Indians.
The money which actually came into the possession of the Indians was soon squandered by them, and the position of Indian trader, conferred by appointment, was a very lucrative cne. During the period when the Indians resided in the vicinity of Des Moines, from May 1, 1843, to October 11, 1845, there were two firms who were allowed to trade with them. Phelps & Co. were from Illinois; they were traders in furs, and were permitted to carry on their business with the Indians. Their establishment was located near the present site of Tuttle's pork-packing establishment. G. W. & W. G. Ewing were the regularly authorized Indian traders. They arrived on the 3d of May, 1843. Their business career here was eminently successful, and they accumulated quite a little fortune during their three year's harvest. Their place of business was on the East Side, not far from the quarters of Major Beach, the Indian agent. There they erected a log building which was probably the first one erected in Polk county.
At this time the Sacs and Foxes numbered about two thousand and three hundred and it is not possible that Keokuk could have carried on an organized system of theft without the fact becoming apparent to all. As it was, however, Governor Lucas thought best to change the manner in which the annual payments were made. The matter was referred to the Indian bureau, and the mode was changed so that the payments were made to the heads of families, approximating a per capita distribution. This method of payment did not suit the traders, and after a short trial the old plan was again adopted. That the Indians, then as now, were the victims of sharp practice, cannot be doubted, but the fact can be attributed to the superior tact and the unscrupulous character of many of the traders; this furnishes a more probable explanation and is more in accord with the character of Keokuk, as known by his intimate friends, still living, than to attribute these swindling operations to a conspiracy in which the illustrious chief was the leading actor.
Among the early settlers of Iowa, the names of Keokuk and Wapello are the most noted and familiar. These two illustrious chiefs live not only in the recollections of these early settlers, but in the permanent history of our common country. Short biographical sketches of these two noted characters, therefore, will be of great interest to the people of this county,
and peculiarly appropriate for a work of this kind. To the school-boy who has frequently read of these Indians, the fact that they roved around on this very ground where their feet tread, and that in their hunting excursions these Indians crossed the same prairies where they now gather the yelloweared corn, will give to these sketches intense interest, while the early settler who talked with Wapello and Keokuk, ate with them, hunted with them and fished with them, cannot fail to find in these brief and necessarily imperfect biographies, something fascinating as they are thus led back over a quarter of a century, to live over again the days of other years, and witness again the scenes of early days, when the tall prairie grass waved in the autumn breeze, and the country, like themselves, was younger and fresher than now.
As before remarked, Keokuk was chief of the Sac branch of the nation; he was born on Rock River, Illinois, in 1780. The best memory of the earliest settler of Iowa cannot take him back to a time when Keokuk was
not a full grown man. When in 1833 the impatient feet of the white men first hastened across the Mississippi, eager for new conquests, this illustrious chief was already nearing his three-score years, and when, with longing eyes, he took the last look at this fair land and turned his feet reluctantly toward the west, his sun of life had already crossed the meridian and was rapidly approaching its setting.
Keokuk first came into prominence among the whites at the breaking out of the second war with England, commonly known as the War of 1812. Most of the Indians at that time esponsed the cause of the English, but Keokuk, at the head of a large number of the Sacs and Foxes, remained faithful to the Americans. In 1828 Keokuk, in accordance with the terms of a treaty, crossed the Mississippi River with his tribe and established himself on the Iowa River. Here he remained in peace, and his tribe flourished till the breaking out of the Black Hawk War in 1832. He seemed to have a much more intelligent insight into the great national questions which were raised during these early Indian difficulties, as well as more thorough appreciation of the resources of the national government. He opposed the Black Hawk War, and seemed to fully forecast the great disaster, which thereby befel his tribe. Although many of his warriors deserted him and followed Black Hawk in his reckless campaign across the Mississippi, Keokuk prevailed upon a majority of his tribe to remain at home. When the news reached Keokuk that Black Hawk's warriors had gained a victory over Stillman's forces in Ogle county, Illinois, the war spirit broke out among his followers like fire in the dry prairie grass; a war-dance was held, and the chief himself took part in it. He seemed for a while to move in sympathy with the rising storm, and at the conclusion of the war-dance he called a council to prepare for war. In a work entitled Annals of Iowa, published in 1865, there is reported the substance of a speech made by Keokuk on this occasion. We quote: "I am your chief, and it is my duty to lead you to battle, if, after fully considering the matter, you are determined to go." He then represented to them the great power of the United States, against which they would have to contend, and that their prospect of success was utterly hopeless. Then continuing, said: "But if you are determined to go on the war-path, I will lead you on one condition that before we go we kill all our old men, and our wives, and our children, to save them from a lingering death by starvation, and that every one of you determine to leave his bones on the other side of the Mississippi." This