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Collection of early merchants' papers related to Indigenous affairs

 Collection
Identifier: MSS 100
The collection of early merchants' papers related to Indigenous affairs, 1816-1838, contains letters, indentures, and other papers created by three early merchants active in the Upper Mississippi Valley region: Thomas Forsyth, Russell Farnham, and Edward Kilbourn.

The Thomas Forsyth papers, 1831-1832, comprise three letters from Forsyth to Col. George Davenport.

The Russell Farnham papers, 1816-1832, consist of a passport for safe passage through the city of Copenhaven, Denmark, in 1816, and a letter to George Davenport, 21 May 1832, concerning Farnham's return to Rock Island once he received annuities from Fort Edwards and the conditions of the indigenous peoples near Fort Edwards.

The Edward Kilbourn papers, 1837-1838, primarily include nine deeds of sale for lands in the "Half-Breed Tract" of Iowa between the Mississippi and the Des Moines rivers. The indentures were authorized by both male and female members of the landholding tribes (Sauk and Fox), including Ke-O-Kuk, a Sauk leader. In all cases, the indigenous landholders marked the deeds of sale with an "X" rather than signing their full names. The Edward Kilbourn papers also include a letter, 9 October 1837, from George S. Nicholsen regarding the sale of Native American lands and a bill for lodging signed by George Richmond.

Dates

  • 1816-1838

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from Augustana College Special Collections and the copyright holder.

Extent

0.3 Cubic Feet (/ 1 box)

Overview

The collection of early merchants' papers related to Indigenous affairs, 1816-1838, contains letters, indentures, and other papers created by three early merchants active in the Upper Mississippi Valley region: Thomas Forsyth, Russell Farnham, and Edward Kilbourn. Included in the collection are several letters to Col. George Davenport, indentures marking the sale of Native American lands in the "Half-Breed Tract" of Iowa to Edward Kilbourn and Henry S. Austin in 1838, and other documents belonging to the merchants. The materials in this collection were originally collected by John Henry Hauberg.

Historical Note

This collection contains papers created by three early merchants: Thomas Forsyth, Russell Farnham, and Edward Kilbourn.

Thomas Forsyth, an Upper Mississippi Valley resident, was the St. Louis Indian agent and the Indian affairs agent for commerce in the 1820s and 1830s. He owned fur-trading posts in Quincy, Peoria, and Rock Island, Illinois. He was employed by the government to negotiate with the Potawatomi, Sauk, and Fox, who knew him as Mah-tah-win (the corn).

Russell Farnham was an important individual in the fur trade, as well as a pioneer in the American Midwest. Farnham became George Davenport’s partner in the fur trade in 1824, and bought local land with him. He was also a member of the American Fur Company, and helped to establish the first American fur trading posts west of the Mississippi.

Edward Kilbourn was a land investor who lived in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in the early 19th century. Along with another Pittsfield resident, Alfred Buell, Kilbourn founded a colony that eventually settled in La Grange, Illinois, although Kilbourn never lived in La Grange himself. Following the 1834 repeal of an 1824 treaty establishing a tract of land in Iowa between the Mississippi and Des Moines rivers (commonly known as the "Half-Breed Tract" due to its originally being ceded to individuals of Sauk, Fox, and Anglo-American descent), Kilbourn became one of the claim jumpers who took advantage of the availability of new lands. In 1838, Kilbourn purchased land from nine indigenous men and women, including Ke-O-Kuk, a Sauk leader.

Custodial History

The materials in this collection were originally identified with the following manuscript numbers. Because the materials are directly connected, the collections are housed together in the same box, and the papers were all likely collected and grouped together by John Hauberg, the collections were combined into the collection of early merchants' papers on Indigenous affairs in July 2017.

MSS 100 Thomas Forsyth papers MSS 100a Russell Farnham papers MSS 100b Edward Kilbourn papers

The Edward Kilbourn papers were originally purchased from the descendents of Henry S. Austin by Parker Lyon of Pasadena, California, owner of the Pony Express Museum, who mistakenly thought that Austin was a Pony Express rider. Austin sold the collection to E. O. Sawyer, Jr., of Berkley, California, who in turn sold the materials to John Hauberg in 1936.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Thomas Forsyth papers received from the John Henry Hauberg estate, 1956. The remaining materials in the collection were also likely donated by John Hauberg.

Processing Information

Processed by Samantha Crisp, July 2017.
Title
Collection of early merchants' papers related to Indigenous affairs, 1816-1838.
Status
completed
Author
Samantha Crisp
Date
July 2017
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Augustana College Special Collections Repository

Contact:
639 38th Street
Thomas Tredway Library
Rock Island Illinois 61201 United States