Previously hidden in this over 750-page unindexed volume (but now accessible via this searchable text version) are the names and origins of numerous settlers of Putnam and Marshall County, Illinois. Published in 1880, its author proposed “to trace the early settlement of that portion of our State embraced in the counties of Putnam and Marshall, gathering up the forgotten records of each township and neighborhood, and telling for the benefit of their descendants the story . . . of their ancestors.” Part of the military land tract granted to veterans of the War of 1812 lay in present Putnam and Marshall counties and obviously drew many of the settlers to the area.
When it was created in 1825 Putnam County’s southern line followed the northern border of present Peoria County and the Illinois and Kankakee Rivers to the Indiana line which it then followed north to Wisconsin and west to within 35 miles of the Mississippi before turning south. It included 11,000 square miles of northern Illinois. Marshall County which included a portion of this territory was created in 1839.
Settlement, however, began much earlier. In 1750 the area was described by Veiver, a French missionary: “We have here whites, negroes and Indians, to say nothing of cross-breeds. There are five French villages and three villages of the natives within a space of twenty-one leaguesbetween the Mississippi and Karkadiad (Kaskaskia) Rivers. In them all there are perhaps eleven hundred people, three hundred whites and sixty red slaves, or savages. Most of the French till the soil. They raise wheat, cattle, pigs and horses, and live like princes. Three times as much is produced as can be consumed, and great quantities of grain and flour are shipped to New Orleans.”
The volume begins with a history of the numerous expeditions of the many earlier adventurers from Columbus to LaSalle (chapters one-six). Chapters seven and eight detail early Indian settlements. Chapters nine through thirteen are the early settlement. The history of present Putnam County begins with chapter 14. There are frequent citations from early records including a list of all the voters in the first county election. Chapters 15 through 21 cover the Black Hawk War providing muster rolls and detailed descriptions of specific events.
Chapters 2248 give township by township descriptions of the area including topography and stories of early settlers, towns, churches, schools and interesting events. The final section contains biographies of citizens of the various townships, almost all of which detail the place of birth of both the husband and wife, her maiden name, the names of their children and the year of settlement. The volume also includes chapters on the Underground Railroad and the Reed and Donner Party since some in the party were from Putnam County. This is a veritable treasure trove of information on early settlers in the area.
Summary by Barbara Vines Little, CG
for Archive CD Books USA
This electronic book includes high-quality images of every page as originally published (not just a transcript) and is fully searchable using Adobe Acrobat Reader (version 4 or later recommended) on any Windows, Macintosh, or Unix computer. The data files are completely self-contained, and require no installation.