The Sangamo Frontier: History and Archaeology in the Shadow of Lincoln

By Robert Mazrim | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE
A New Frontier

The earliest official correspondence regarding the ultimate settlement of the Sangamon River valley probably dates to December of 1816, when William Rector wrote that the lands north of the existing settlements were the subject of “much anxiety” by those who wished to relocate their families there. From “information received from several intelligent men well acquainted with the region,” he felt confident that the region would sell quickly, as it was conveniently divided between prairies and woodlands, with good, well-drained soils.1

Two months later in February of 1817, the acting secretary of war in Washington noticed that there was a gap between the prewar settlements in the Illinois Territory, and the lands then being surveyed for military bounty lands. Nathaniel Pope echoed this concern, describing the central Illinois uplands “as fine a body of land as I have ever seen,” but warning that travel between the old settlements and the new military tract would be “interrupted” by the Native Americans who claimed the region. The secretary of war immediately asked Governor Edwards to find out which Native American group claimed this land, so that a treaty negotiation might connect the two regions. The hole in the map was about to be filled.2

In January of 1817, Edwards answered that it was the Kickapoo who currently occupied and claimed central Illinois, and that they had moved to the “sanguemon country” around 1800. This may have been one the first official uses of the new name of the region. Edwards joined his con-

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