The Indian Black Partridge
In the late
1700's the Potawatomi Indians had a number of villages along the Illinois
River and its tributaries, north of Peoria and past the mouth of the Fox.
One of these villages was that of the chief called Black Partridge and was
located north of Spring Bay in western Woodford County. It had 30 to
40 wigwams between Richland and Partridge creeks.
Black Partridge has his name on
several treaties ceding land, travelled about by canoe and horse, and was on
good terms with the Kinzie family at Ft. Dearborn where Chicago is today.
John Kinzie established a trading post there and his step-daughter was the
wife of a Lt. Helm, second in command at the fort.
1812, when some Indians were
planning to attack Ft. Dearborn, Black Partridge
went to warn the garrison.
He, along with several other chiefs disapproved of the attack, but were outnumberd by
warriors who believed the British would reward them. He warned them
but many were massacred as they fled to safety, and Lt. Helms was captured
and held for ransom.
Accounts vary, but according to a Woodford history,
when Black Partridge returned to his village after securing the release of Lt. Helms,
he found his village had been attacked.
Illinois militiamen killed old
men, women and children; burned the village, including stores of food and
fur; and took 80 horses.
One can imagine his feeling upon his return to this scene.
He tried to prevent the building of Ft. Clark in Peoria but sued for peace
in 1813 and remained true to the treaty. After the massacre at his
village, the Indians remained in the hills. When white
settlers arrived in 1819 and 1820, they found the natives friendly, and it
was about this time that Black Partridge died. His name, however, survived
upon the land.