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Black Hawk War pg 2
Submitted by Bob Johnson. Source: Map & Sketches of Bureau County, ILL, by N. Matson


The only case of murder by the Indians, within the limits of this County, during the Black Hawk War, was the killing of Phillips, on a farm now occupied by G.C. Weibel, one and a-half miles, north of Dover, on the Dover, on the 18th of June, 1832. The following account of the affair is partly taken from the sketches of Princeton, published in 1857, by I. B. Smith:

Seven persons, named Elijah Phillips, J. Hodge, Sylvester Brigham, John L. Ament, Aaron Gunn, J. G. Forrestall, and a youth by the  name of Ziba Dimmick, left Hennepin and came over to the settlement after their cattle, which were kept at the cabin of Ament and Phillips. Indians were then lurking about in ambush, ready to pick off the settlers, as they might have an opportunity, and of course our friends were obliged to be on the watch, for they were running the risk of their lives, as the sequel of our story will show.

Arriving at the cabin of Ament, he (Ament) stationed his companions at the doors and windows as sentinels, while he prepared their dinners, which as soon as ready was partaken off by a part of them at a time, the others keeping a sharp look out for the enemy. After dinner a consultation was held as to the expediency of remaining in their present station until morning, or returning immediately, the rain then pouring down in torrents, and Indians in all  probability around them. Failing to agree in the matter, Phillips, who was somewhat of an eccentric character, picked up a board, saying, "Well boys, this board must decide our course," at the same timeplacing it in an upright position, "if it falls towards the north we are safe and will remain; if to the south we must be off." The board fell towards the south, and thus by common consent shaped their plans; and as soon as their cattle could be collected they started for Hennepin; their cattle, however, proved unmanageable, being afraid to go near the timber for fear of the Indians. After chasing them for miles, they were obliged to give up the attempt and, leaving them near Mr. Musgrove's cabin, they returned to Hennepin as they came.

Some two weeks latter, the same individuals arived at Mr. Ament's cabin, for the purpose of making a second attempt to secure their stock. Mr. Phillips retired to his own cabin, on the farm now belonging to J. G. Forrestall, and commenced writing a letter, but while thus engaged, thought he heard the alarm of the Indians, and going to the door met Mr. Ament on his way to the cabin, which he had left a few moments before; the two returned together and concluded to spend the night there, seeing no sign of Indians.

During the night, a terrific thunder storm arose, the rain pouring down in torrents. One of the number remarked that he guessed there was no danger from Indians that night. But they little dreamed that the cabin was surrounded by some thirty or forty savages, who were peeping through the cracks between the logs, and endeavering, by every flash of lightning, to count the numbers within. Little did they at that moment, think that in the morning one of their number would fall a victim to the foe, and the rest barely escape. But such was the case. Morning came, a morning ever to be remembered by those six survivors - Brigham and Phillips went out upong the porch in front of the building, and not noticing the trail around the cain, nor the marks of the Indian moccasins on the floor of the plazza, continued standing there for several mnutes, engaged in conversation. At length, Mr. Phillips stepped off the porch, saying, "I will go over to my cabin and finish writing my letter," to which was replied by Mr. Brigham, "wait a moment, and I will go with you," and turning around he entered the cabin, but had scarcely closed the door, ere the crack of a rifle was heard, followed by the shrill war-whoop, and poor Phillips lay a corpse, pierced by two balls. The Indians then rushed towards the cabin and buried their tomahawks in the body of their unfortunate victim. Some of the survivors had the presence of mind to grasp two or three guns with bayonets, and point them through the door at the Indians, which act, without doubt, saved their lives. The savages knowing that bayonets were used by soldiers, it is supposed that, on seeing these guns, they concluded there were soldiers within, and, consequently, made a hasty retreat, leaving some of their blankets behind them, which were afterwards found in a thicket near by.

It was then thought best to dispatch one of their number to Hennepin for troops. Young Dimmick, then a youth of sixteen or seventeen years, being anxious to go, a horse was called to the door, upon which he mounted, and in a few hours, reached the fort in safety, and gave the alarm. A small company of rangers immediately proceeded to the cabin, and found the remaining five safelu harbored within its walls. They had not ventured out since the murder, but had hung out a little colored flag as a signal of distress.

The body of Phillips, undisturbed since his death, was lying in the door-yard, the face upturned: one bullet had entered his left breast, in the region of the heart, another pierced his stomach; there were marks of tomahawk strokes across one eye and upon the neck. In their hasted to be off the savages had neglected to scalp him.

A detachment of rangers started in pursuit of the Indians; they followed their trail with four miles of the Winnebago Swamps, and gave up the pursuit and returned to Hennepin with the remains of Phillips, which was prepared for interment at the house of Hooper Warren. A large number of soldiers and citizens attended the funeral, which took place next day.

An additional account of this affair was communicated to John L. Ament, some years afterwards, by a Frenchman - an Indian trader - who got his information from the Indians. He says, "There were about sixty Indians, mostly Pottawatomies, with a few Sacs and Foxes; they had been in the Grove several days watching the return of the settlers. Their head-quarters were at Sugar Camp, west of Ament's cabin; they had been watching this party the day before, and intended to seet the cabin on fire at night and kill all within, but it rained hard in the night, which defeated their plans. The next arrangement was to kill the party next morning. As they left for Hennepin to accomplish this, thirty concealed themselves in a point of brush by the garden, and the other thirty close to the house. Phillips coming so close, discovered their hiding place and was in the act of turning around to run when they shot him. The Indinas did not notice Dimmick leave the cabin, and thought themselves perfectly safe, remained in ambush until the rnagers came in sight, they then left in such a fright as to leave most of their equipage behind. When the rangers came within a half-mile of the cabin they made a halt, not knowing but it was full of Indians. One of the party made an opening through the roof and displayed a flag. Dimmick rode to Hennepin, a distance of sixteen miles, in about one hour, and the rangers arrived about 3 o'clock."

There are some facts connected with this affair not generally known. Immediately west of Mr. Ament's cabin was the Big Sugar Camp, part of which was included in his claim. At this camp lived, during the winter and spring, a petty chief, named Meammouse, with about ten or twelve lodges or families, they and their ancestors had made sugar here for 42 years in succession, and did not like any one settling so close to them. A bad feeling existed, and to make the matter worse Ament killed one of their dogs, and through revenge they made this attack.

I have frequently talked with Mr. Ament on this suject. He thinks this conjecture quite probable.

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Related Links:
Black Hawk War from Portrait & Biographical Album of Whiteside Co., 1885
Indian History
Prophetstown Village History 1885

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