Bureau county was named in honor of Pierre de Beuro, a half-breed trader, who was the first man to establish a trading post within the present limits of Bureau county. This post was located near where Bureau Creek empties into the Illinois river. This post was established about the time Illinois was admitted into the Union. The next trading post was also managed by a half-breed known as Bulbona. His cabin was located about two miles south of Wyanet on what is known as the David Jones farm. This post was established in the early twenties and its site was picturesque, being situated upon a high bluff overlooking a large stretch of country. On this point near the cabin was erected a tall flag pole from which floated the stars and stripes.
Bulbona bought furs from the Indians and disposed of them in Peoria, where he in turn purchased gaudy trinkets, which the Indians were very anxious to possess, and exchanged them for more furs. Thus at this early time Bulbona was enabled to carry on a profitable business. The writer was at this historic place a few years ago and found the old cellar of the cabin and the depression where the flagstaff stood plainly visible. If the history of this old landmark could be obtained no doubt many thrilling tales could be told, for here the Indians congregated to hold their dances and to partake of the "fire water" that was furnished them by Bulbona, but a true and correct account of those wild and frenzied scenes will never be written, for the foot of civilization now presses the soil where the red man trod, and in the place of the war-whoop and the chase we find the beautiful homes and the waving fields of the present generation. As near as we can ascertain the first real permanent white settler of this county was Henry Thomas, who settled near the Thomas Vaughn place, north of Wyanet, in 1828. John Dixon, Reason B. Hale, and John and Justice Ament with their families came the same year.
Although the families mentioned were the first actual settlers, it seems that Charles S. Boza (Boyd), whom many of our citizens well remember passed through this county in company with John Dixon, his brother-in-law, in 1827. They took through a drove of cattle from Springfield to Galena for the lead mines markets. Bradsby, in his history of this county, tells the story as he received it from Mr. Alexander Boyd, who was a familiar form on the streets of Princeton until his decease in 1902. The story is substantially as follow: It was then an unoccupied wilderness from Peoria to Galena, and their only guide was a wagon track made a few days before by a party going from Galena to Peoria. It is thought that this was the first wagon that ever tracked the prairies of this county. From Peoria to Galena not a white man was to be seen. Indian villages and wigwams were the only signs of human existence to be seen during the entire journey.
This was a long and tedious trip; the streams were crossed by swimming the cattle and horses; but at last they reached the lead mines and disposed of their cattle, receiving most of their pay in silver. On the return trip their food became exhausted. That with the treachery of the Indians made it a most trying experience. The silver that Boyd received for his cattle was put into a sack and tied upon the pack-horse. When the party reached the river, where Dixon is now located, they tried to make arrangements with the Indians to take them across in their canoes; they easily made an agreement with them, but when they were ready to go the Indians with whom the agreement was made could not be found. While waiting to obtain means of crossing, one of the bucks jumped upon the back of the horse carrying the silver and went whooping down the river. The reader can imagine that our old pioneer, Charles S. Boyd, did not have at that time any very great admiration for the daring feet of this dusky athlete. But every cloud is said to have a silver lining; so this case was no exception, for in a short time the young brave returned with both pony and money and no loss was sustained. At last the Indians took the men across in canoes and the horses were made to swim the river. This is only one of the many, many almost tragic experiences of that early time.
Mr. John Dixon was at that time a resident of Peoria and was county judge and circuit clerk; he also worked at his trade as tailor. He was so impressed with the beauties of the country over which they passed on this trip that he at once resigned his offices and came to Boyd's Grove in Milo township and started improvements. This was in the fall of 1827, and it is a question whether or Henry Thomas was the first actual settler. He remained at Boyd's Grove until 1830, when he sold his improvements to Charles S. Boyd and removed to Dixon and purchased the Ogee ferry, which for years afterwards was known as "Dixon's Ferry". He became a prominent factor in all the important movements of the time. The present beautiful city of Dixon that
lies on both side of Rock river was named in honor of this grand old man. He had at one time a plenty of this world's goods, but through the kindness of his great heart he lent the use of his name to trusted friends and through their failures and unworthiness he became poor and died in poverty in 1876. Thus ended the eventful life on one of Bureau county's early, if no the earliest, settlers. He died ripe in years and his memory is cherished by a truly grateful people.
John Dixon, Charles S. Boyd and Oliver Kellogg were three brothers-in-law from whom the cities of Dixon, Boyd's Grove and Kellogg's Grove received their names, which will probably be handed down through the generations yet to be.
The history of Charles S. Boyd's early experiences in this county deserve more than a passing notice. Charles S. Boyd and Elizabeth Dixon were married in the city of New York in June, 1814. Illinois at that time was a vast and practically an unknown stretch of country, extending from the Ohio river on the south to Canada on the north. Notwithstanding this and realizing that great hardships and privations were before them, Mr. Boyd and John Dixon started on April 13, 1820, with two ox teams to make the journey to a settlement that had started where the city of Springfield now stands. They were seventy-two days on the way, arriving at their destination on June 24, 1820.
Their journey was a long and fatiguing one. At Pittsburg they bought a flatboat for sixty-five dollars and putting their teams and all on board floated down the Ohio river to Shawneetown, where the boat was sold for five dollars, and they again moved across the prairies with their ox teams until they reached the location for which they sought. Mr. Boyd remained in Springfield about ten years. He dug the first well and built the first brick chimney in that city. His house stood near where the capital now stands. Mr. Boyd's partner in business was William S. Hamilton, a son of the lamented Alexander Hamilton, who lost his life in a duel with Aaron Burr. Mr. Hamilton had in his possession the silver-mounted pistols which his father used in that tragic scene. The pistols were very heavily mounted with silver and were left in the care of Mr. Boyd when in 1830 he came to this county.
Boyd's Grove was at that time an important station on the state road, between Peoria and Galena. Over this road four-horse coaches made the trip three times each week. A relay of horses was kept at the Grove and it was there that stages met at night and transferred baggage and passengers, and here, with straw strewn upon the floor for a bed, the travelers would rest until early morning, when they would again resume their journey. In the winter of 1832, on the night of February 18, Mr. Boyd's house with nearly all of its contents was burned. The snow was two feet deep and the temperature was at the zero point when this family was driven from their home with scanty clothing to protect them from the elements. Among the few articles saved were two feather-beds, which proved to be a great blessing, as they saved the bare-footed children from becoming terribly frozen. No immediate relief could be had as the nearest neighbor was more than twenty miles away. Fortunately the smokehouse was left and in it had been stored some hams and bacon, so into this crude room, twelve by sixteen feet, the family was sheltered until a temporary camp was prepared. This camp was near the cabin where Shabbona, the white man's friend, with his plurality of wives and several children lived. Mr. Boyd's daughter, Mrs. Dr. Paddock, who now lives in Princeton, although a child at that time, has a vivid Remembrance of those distressing days. She informs us that through the kindness of this old chief their family was supplied with nearly all the meat that was used by them for the rest of the winter. Shabbona's skill as a marksman was remarkable, and it was a delight to him to teach the young braves and also the white children how to use the gun. Mrs. Paddock also informs us that she spent many happy hours in those childhood days in playing and shooting at a mark with the young Indians. Shabbona always rewarded the best marksman with a silver quarter.
In the spring of this year (1832) rumors began to be circulated that there was to be an Indian raid, headed by Blackhawk, but many of the settlers were slow to believe it, as they thought Blackhawk with his tribe was beyond the Mississippi. Shabbona, realizing the danger, advised sending the old men, women and children to the forts for safety. Accordingly Mr. Boyd took his wife and younger children to Fort Clark, at Peoria, but he and the larger boys stayed upon the farm and put in a crop, taking their guns into the fields with them, as they were liable to be attacked at any moment. They also slept during the summer in the brush patches near the cabin, not deeming it prudent to remain in it during the night. One morning when the boys were sitting upon a bench cleaning their guns, they heard the click of a rifle and looking up they saw an Indian running from a small patch of hazel brush near by. What the result might have been had not the Indian's gun missed fire, no one can tell. One night during this summer a small party of men arrived at the Grove with dispatches from Dixon to Fort Clark. The men, being anxious to return, as the Indians were in close proximity to Dixon, when they left, they prevailed on Mr. Boyd to allow one of his boys to carry the papers on to Fort Clark. His son Alexander volunteered to carry the orders. Accordingly in the early twilight of the morning, after being cautioned by his father to keep on the high prairie and ride as fast as his horse could go, he started on this perilous journey of forty miles, which he safely made in six hours. On arriving at the fort he hitched his horse outside the stock-
ON TO PAGE 22
Back to Bureau County Illinois History and Genealogy