Peoria County, Illinois  Genealogy Trails



Peoria County History

Transcribed by Candi H. 2006 
Sources: State Papers No. 327, 1844 Peoria City Directory, Map donated by Steve Slaughter 2006



No. 327





10TH January 1821
SIR: In conformity with the provisions of the act of the fifteenth of May, 1820, 
for the relief of the inhabitants of the village of Peoria, in the State of Illinois,
I have the honor to submit the report of the register of the district of Edwardsville
upon the claims exhibited under said act, with the substance of the evidence in support thereof.
I have the honor to be, 
Very respectfully, sir,
Your obedient servant,
The Hon. the President of the Senate.

November 10, 1820
SIR: In compliance with an act of Congress entitled "An act for the relief of the inhabitant of the Village of Peoria, in the State of Illinois," I have the honor to transmit to you a report of seventy claims to lots in Peoria, and the substance of evidence in support thereof, which I must add my regrets at the insurmountable difficulties I have met with in complying with a provision of this law which requires me to make out a list of such claims as, in my opinion, ought to be confirmed. The law not having defined the nature of the claims intended to be confirmed, nor prescribed any rule of adjudication, nor referred to any laws or usages by which I was to be governed in forming an opinion I have be at a loss to determine Upon what principles to decide, and have therefore been compelled to omit making out a list of such claims in my opinion, ought to be confirmed. I have, however, added to the report a tabular statement showing at one view the charter of all and each of the claims, from which, after having decided what date or length of possession shall give a title to the occupant, it will be easy to select the particular claims, which should be confirmed.

Believing that the chief object of Congress in passing the law was to obtain information as to the nature of the claims to lots in Peoria, I have endeavored to collect all the information, which could be obtained, and to transcribe it in detail in the report of evidence herewith transmitted. . With a few exceptions, all the depositions have been thus taken, and the evidence, though sometimes contradictory, and no doubt often inaccurate as could reasonably have been expected, considering the length of time, which has elapsed, and the illiterate character of most of the deponents. 


The old Village of Peoria was situated on the northwest shore of Lake Peoria, about one mile and half above the lower extremity or outlet of the lake. This village has been inhabited by the French previous to the recollection of any of the present generation. About the year 1778 or 1779, the first house was built in what was called LaVille de Maillet, afterward the New Village of Peoria, and of late the place also known by the name Fort Clark, situated about one mile and a half below the old village, immediately at the lower point or outlet of Lake Peoria. The situation being preferred in consequence of the water and its being thought more healthy, the inhabitants gradually deserted the old village, and by the year 1796 or 1797, had been entirely abandoned it, and removed to the new village.

Abstracted from the the 1844 Peoria City Directory 
So, long as the French lived at this place {first Peoria Village} they were sickly and one Maillet, who had suffered much from this cause, determined to try what effect a change of residence would have. About the year 1778 he removed to a place on the bank of the river at the lower part of the present town. {Second Peoria Village and Ft. Clark.} After his removal he recovered his health which caused others to follow his example and this caused the villagers to all gradually desert the village and move to the new one, which was done in about eighteen years. They always believed the new village to be more healthy on account of the water being better, the river here having a considerable current, while the lake was rather stagnant.

[Location of Ft. Clark can been seen on the 1820 Plat Map]

The inhabitants of Peoria consisted generally of Indian traders, hunters and voyager's and had formed a link of connection between the French residing on the waters of the great lakes and the Mississippi River. From that happy facility of adapting themselves to their situation and associates, for which the French are so remarkable, the inhabitants of Peoria lived generally in harmony with their savage neighbors. It would seem, however, that about the year 1781, they were induced to abandon the village from the apprehension of Indian hostility; but soon after the peace of 1783, they again returned, and continued to reside there until the autumn of the year 1812, when they were forcibly removed from it, and the place destroyed by a Captain Craig of the Illinois militia, on the ground, as it was said, that him and his company of militia, were fired on in the night while at anchor in their boats before the village, by Indians, with whom the inhabitants were suspected by Craig to be intimate and friendly.

The inhabitants of Peoria it would appear, from all I can learn, settled there without any grant or permission from the authority of any Government; that the only title they had to their land was derived from possession; and that the only value attached to it grew out of the improvements placed upon it; that each person took to himself such portion of unoccupied land as he wished to occupy and cultivate, and made his by incorporating his labor with it; but as soon as he abandoned it his title was understood to cease with his possessions and improvements, and it revered to its natural state, and liable again to be improved and possessed by any one who should think proper.

As is usual with French villages, the possessions in Peoria consisted generally of village lots, on which they erected their buildings and made their gardens, & c. The village lots contained in general about one half of an arpent of land; the out-lots or fields were of various sizes, depending on the industry or means of the owner to cultivate more or less land. As neither, the old or new villages of Peoria were formerly laid out, nor had defined limits assigned them, it is impossible to have of them an accurate map. I have, however, sketched off one founded on the testimony recieved in support of the claims, ...

I have not been able to ascertain with precision on what particular quarter sections of the military survey these claims are situated. It is believed, however, that the greater part of the land covered both by the old and new villages are in the fractional quarter sections, and that the out- lots or fields are included in quarter sections which have been granted as bounty lands to the soldiers of the late war. ...

From: Edwards Coles- Register of the land Office at Edwardsville, Nov. 10, 1820.



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