After Euro-American Settlement

 

Early in the 19th century, European and American settlers began moving into southern Illinois and making their way north into the Great Lakes region. The Illinois Territory was established by Congress in 1809, followed by statehood in 1818.

 

As more and more Euro-American settlers migrated into Illinois, conflict with Native Americans of the region ensued and escalated. In 1830, the American federal government passed a bill ordering the removal of resident Native Americans. Two years later, following a series of ultimatums and minor skirmishes, came the Black Hawk War, and the final removal of Native Americans from the area east of the Mississippi River.

 

These events, along with the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, escorted in the Homestead Period. There were four distinct Euro-American groups who settled in the vicinity of the Midewin site.

 

The Upland South included settlers from Indiana, Ohio, and Virginia. These people first settled into Jackson Township in 1829. Among these people were the Reeds, for whom the Reed Cemetery, a site on the National Register of Historic Places, is named.

 

The New Englanders arrived in Manhattan Township in 1834, but also settled in Jackson, Wilton, and Channahon Townships. They were mainly from New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Nova Scotia.

 

The Irish also settled into the area, arriving to work as canal workers in the late 1840s. They mainly settled in the Channahon and Wilmington townships.

 

Finally, two groups of German peoples move into the area around 1850 into the Jackson Township area--the Reformed German Lutherans and the German Methodists.

 

The Legacy of Euro-American Settlement

 

Historic sites found on the Joliet Arsenal property fall into four functional classes: farmsteads (229), schools (14), churches (2), and cemeteries (5). Farmsteads were located most likely near the prairie-forest boundaries. These areas tended to be highly productive for both plant and game resources. Schools, churches, and stores were located near roads, especially crossroads, for easy access. Family cemeteries tended to be located on bluff crests or other elevated sites, whereas community cemeteries followed the pattern of schools and were located near roads.





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