Tuesday, November 6, 2018

John Looney W. W. Wilmerton Street Duel Rock Island, Illinois 1909

1922 reward poster for John Looney.
(Public Domain image sourced from Wikimedia Commons,)
Two local newspapermen exchanged bullets and bad words on the streets of Rock Island, Illinois on the afternoon of February 22, 1909.

The trouble had been brewing for nearly a year and stemmed from when W. W. Wilmerton purchased a controlling interest in the Rock Island News from John Looney. Just hours after the deal closed a dynamite bomb tore through the Looney building, destroying the paper’s press. That same year, three mysterious fires ravaged the same building. 

Wilmerton didn’t let any of that stop him. He renamed the paper the Tri-City Morning Journal and moved its operations to a different location.

Three weeks before the current troubles began, Looney reestablished The Rock Island News and began printing crazy tirades about Wilmerton and his family. Wilmerton took most of the allegations in stride. What he couldn’t overlook was an article Looney published saying he had breaking news that would land Wilmerton in prison. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

Fight Between Sauk and Sioux Indians in 1824

Here is an interesting note from the Indian agent at Fort Armstrong (Rock Island), detailing the results of a Sauk war party that attacked a band of Sioux. They got the best of them at first, but their fortune soon changed and the Sauk warriors barely made it away with their lives. (From The Wilmingtonian and Delaware Register. October 21, 1824.)


“A war party of Sauk Indians returned to their village in this vicinity, on the 8th, instant, from an expedition against the Sioux. They were all mounted and had been absent about thirty days. They report that they discovered on the 27th of August a large party of Sioux Indians, which they followed two days; that on the evening of the second day, they passed several large pits which had been dug by these Indians for defense; that on proceeding further, they found a great number of cattle which had been killed with arrows, and also one horse, and they soon after heard the sound of drums which apprised them of being in the neighborhood of their enemies; that the drums ceased beating about 12 o’clock at night, and that the party, which consisted of forty-five young men attacked the Sioux camp an hour or two before daybreak, and killed fifteen of their number; and took one prisoner, a girl of ten or twelve year of  age, and then retreated without the loss of a man; but they had not proceeded far, before they found themselves surrounded by a numerous party of the Sioux, and having no other alternative, they fought their way through them, and, in doing this lost their prisoner, and had eight of their number and two wounded. The wounded have returned with the party, but the dead were left in possession of the enemy.

They were so closely pursued by the Sioux that they lost several of their horses, and most of their blankets, and returned nearly naked, and in a state of starvation. The Sauks sup
pose that the Sioux belong to the Sussitong or Sussitoah band and that the cattle which they found dead, are the same that crossed Des Moines, about six days since; several of the war party who saw them at the time they crossed the river, say, that the drove consisted of nearly one hundred head, and that it was in charge of five Americans and that they had along with them, ten horses and mules, and that they presumed they were bound to St. Peter’s. They further say, that they saw a horse and a mule that belonged to the drovers in the possession of the Sioux, on the morning of the action, and that it is their opinion that the drovers have been massacred by them.


Fort Armstrong - Sept. 9.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Black Hawk and Keokuk Meet Artist George Catlin in New York City - 1837

George Catlin as painted by William Fisk
(public domain image taken from Wikimedia Commons.
In public domain because artist died over 100 years ago)
During their whirlwind tour of the East Coast following the Black Hawk War, Black Hawk and Keokuk visited one of George Catlin’s presentations at the Stuyvesant Institute in New York. It’s an interesting look at one of Catlin’s shows and what the Indians thought of his paintings. This account is from the (New York) Morning Herald, October 26, 1837.

Keokuk, Black Hawk, and their chiefs? Their appearance at the Stuyvesant Institute.

A considerable excitement was created yesterday in our city, by the arrival of the Sacs and Foxes, lowas, and other Indians at this city from Washington.

The National Hotel and the City Hotel where they are staying was at an early hour besieged by immense numbers of the curious, who were anxious to get a peep at the renowned red man.

The place most thronged was the Stuyvesant Institute, where it was understood that they would appear at a lecture given by Mr. Catlin, upon themselves and brethren.

They took their departure from the lower part of the city in an omnibus, and their wild cry as it resounded along Broadway, must have astonished many of the peaceful citizens, who were not aware what sort of a freight the vehicle carried.

The Stuyvesant Institute was densely crowded in every part, a few minutes after the opening of the doors, and numbers must have doubtless gone away—unable to obtain admittance for love or money. Among the audience, was a large number of the fair sex. The Sacs and Foxes sat at the left of the lecturer, the lowas at the right.

Black Hawk's Account of Tecumseh's Death at the Battle of Thames

Here’s another look at the death of Tecumseh as told by Black Hawk to an old settler from Illinois. It was first published in the Baltimore American. This version is from the Liberty (Mississippi) Advocate, December 20, 1838.


Chief Black Hawk ( from The
History of Clinton County, Iowa. 1879)
Hearing; of the death of the Sauk Chieftain Black Hawk, I am induced to make you the following communication, which may be interesting to some of your readers.

During a residence of several years in what is now the territory of loway, I had
many opportunities of seeing and conversing with the noted warrior, and often look back with feelings of great pleasure to the many tokens of goodwill and friendship that he has frequently bestowed upon me. His lodge was always open to the stranger, and he was ever ready to share that with him which he might most want, either his furs and blankets for a couch or his corn and venison for a repast. He always spoke in terms of high regard of the whites, saying that in war he" fought like a brave man, but in peace, he wished to forget that his hand had ever been raised against them. His career as a warrior commenced at a very early age; when he was but fourteen years old, his father, Pawheese, led a war party against the Osages in which expedition he accompanied him; they succeeded in reaching the village of the Osages, which they attacked, and after a very severe encounter, they routed their enemies and burnt their town. In this battle, Black Hawk's father was killed, but he revenged his death by killing and scalping the Osage who had slain him. He was fond of recounting his early exploits, and often boasted of his being at the right hand of Tecumseh when the latter was killed at the battle of the Thames. His account of the death of this distinguished warrior was related to me by himself, during an evening that I spent in his lodge some winters ago. In the course of our talk, I asked him if he was with Tecumseh when he was killed.

He replied: “I was, and I will now tell you all a
bout it. Tecumseh, Shaubinne and Caldwell, two Pottawattamie chiefs, and myself were seated on a log near our campfire, filling our pipes for a smoke, on the morning of the battle, when word came from the British general that he wished to speak to Tecumseh. He went immediately, and after staying some time rejoined us, taking his seat without saying a word, when Caldwell, who was one of his favorites, observed, my father, what are we to do? shall we fight the Americans? Yes. my son," replied Tecumseh. "We shall go into their very smoke, but you are now wanted by the general. Go, my son, I never expect to see you again."

Establishing a Fire Department in Burlington Iowa

The city of Burlington, Iowa established its fire department on January 5th, 1841. By today's standards the ordinance sounds more like a dress code, and a list of penalties for not obeying orders, but in its day, it established a set of ground rules to ensure fires were extinguished in a timely manner.

The ordinance was originally published in The Hawkeye and Iowa Patriot on January 14, 1841.


An ordinance establishing a Fire Department in the city of Burlington [Iowa].

Sec. 1. Be it ordained by the Mayor and aldermen of the city of Burlington, that there shall be appointed by the common council of said city, one chief, and two assistant engineers whose duty it shall be in case of fire to go the place of the fire, and give such orders for the purpose of extinguishing the fire, as they shall deem most fit and proper, the chief engineer always taking command when present.

Sec. 2. The Chief Engineer shall at all times when on duty wear a white frock or hunting coat, a white leather coat with the word “Chief Engineer” painted upon the front of the same, and shall provide himself with a white speaking trumpet, with the words “Chief Engineer” painted upon the same.

Sec. 3. The first and second engineers, shall provide themselves with, and always wear on duty, a brown frock or hunting coat, a black leather hat with their titles painted upon the same, a black speaking trumpet with their respective titles painted upon the same.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Hanging Patrick Hand at Lyons, Iowa

Three men knocked on the door of William Barlow's Whisky Hollow saloon early in the morning on May 8, 1876.

Barlow stumbled to the door in his night clothes, assuming the men wanted a quick drink or smoke. Unfortunately, the men had something more sinister on their minds. They pushed Barlow around and demanded that he give them all his money.

Barlow recognized one of the men as Patrick Hand, “a notorious vagrant, profligate and desperado, who has lived in and about Lyons for many years and is known to every saloonkeeper and police officer within a radius of many miles.”[1]

When Barlow refused to give them any money, the intruders threw him to the ground and began to kick and beat him. One of the men rifled Barlow’s pockets and took $7.00.

When Barlow’s wife tried to stop them, someone took a shot at her. She escaped and returned with help. By then, the bandits had disappeared, carrying away most of Barlow’s liquor, cigars, and money. 

Barlow survived the attack but was insensible when found. At first, he was not expected to survive.

Hand was arrested about six o’clock that afternoon in nearby Clinton, Iowa by Lyons police officers Patrick Rowen and John Holmes.[2] They locked him in an engine house, where they clamped a ball and chain to his legs to prevent his escape.

Officer Rowen stood watch through the night. He checked on Hand at two o’clock and “saw the prisoner still asleep in a drunken slumber.”[3] Assuming Hand would sleep through the night Rowen did not check on him again until four o’clock in the morning.