Blackhawk War Remembered

Article excerpt

One hundred and eighty years ago this summer, two U.S. Army soldiers were among a contingent passing through the Fox Valley en route to northwest Illinois. The two died of cholera and were buried near the Fox River in what is now the Jon Duerr Forest Preserve near South Elgin.

The pair are among the oldest and lesser-known veterans in the area -- partly because of their out-of-the-way location. That will change -- albeit briefly -- this Memorial Day as the Elgin Patriotic Memorial Association pays special tribute to the Blackhawk War and these men who were part of it. It's a program organizers say will also be dedicated to all returning veterans.

According to various sources, Blackhawk and a group of Sauk and Fox Indians returned to northern Illinois in the spring of 1832. The group had relocated across the Mississippi River from Illinois the previous year and Blackhawk had signed an agreement not to return without permission.

The Illinois governor called up the militia to deal with the matter, but regular U.S. Army troops under the direction of General Winfield Scott were later sent to help. Cholera plagued the men along their route.

By the time they reached the Fox Valley, Blackhawk had headed north to Wisconsin. The men saw no action, but their reports of the bounty of northern Illinois helped spark its settlement.

At the time of the deaths of the two soldiers, the Fox Valley area was virtually uninhabited and none of the present-day communities existed. Eventually, the area would become known as Five Islands Park -- so named for the islands caused by a large meander in the river at that point.

According to various newspaper accounts and records maintained by the Forest Preserve District of Kane County, several Elgin groups combined their efforts in 1909 to erect a commemorative marker at the site. These included the Elgin Patriotic Memorial Association, the Elgin Grand Army of the Republic Post No. 49 and their sister organization, the Woman's Relief Corps No. 2. Also included were the Daughters of the American Revolution Chapter 425 and the Spanish-American War Veterans, E.A. York Camp No. 5.

The marker was carved by an Elgin firm and on display on a downtown sidewalk before the event. One source indicated it had come from a nearby field. …