Illinois! Illinois!

Pre-Statehood Years: to 1818





Hobnailed Boots, by Jeannette Covert Nolan. Illustrations by Charles Hargens. Chicago, Philadelphia [and] Toronto: The John C. Winston Company, [1939.] 187p.
In 1812, Dann Ballard trades nine animal pelts for a pair of hobnailed boots, not realizing that they are of the type worn by British infantrymen. Later, when he and his companion, John Sanders, encounter George Rogers Clark on his historic march against the British at Kaskaskia, the boots cast suspicion on the two friends until they prove their patriotism. Mrs. Nolan stresses only the Kaskaskia episode of the Clark campaign, introducing Clark and his followers just prior to their entering the Illinois Territory, describing their brief stay at the ruins of Fort Massac, their troubles in navigating the old Massac Trail northward, and the taking of Fort Gage at Kaskaskia. This novel presents a favorable image of John Sanders and a logical explanation for the sequence of incidents which casts suspicion on his character and causes many historians to question his loyalty.
Book Review Digest, 1939, p. 722.
La Salle and the Grand Enterprise, [by] Jeannette Covert Nolan. New York: Julian Messner, Inc., [1951.] 178p.
Adhering closely to data found in journals, histories, and historical records, Mrs. Nolan has created an abbreviated and fictionalized account of the life of Robert Cavalier, Sieur de la Salle, from his departure from France in 1686 to his death in 1687. Although no biography or novel concerning LaSalle is complete without some mention of his colonizing activities in Canada, the political intrigue to which he falls victim, and his first voyage in search of the Ohio River, Mrs. Nolan skips lightly over these facts and hurries on to the adventures for which LaSalle is best known. She writes in detail of the building of the Griffon, the first ship ever to sail the Great Lakes; of the building of Fort Crevecoeur near the Illinois River; of the journey down the Mississippi; and of the voyage of colonization which ends in disaster and death for the valiant explorer.
Book Review Digest, 1951, p. 659.
The Victory Drum, by Jeannette Covert Nolan. Illustrated by Lorence F. Bjorklund. New York: Julian Messner, Inc., [1953.] 152p.
Focusing on the drummer boy in George Rogers Clark's army of volunteers, The Victory Drum is the story of Clark's attack on Fort Sackville at Vincennes, during the War of 1812. Having taken the forts at Kaskaskia and Cahokia, Clark sends Captain Helm and a party of two dozen men to secure Vincennes. When word reaches Kaskaskia that Vincennes has fallen to the British, Clark rallies his men, recruits others from among the residents of Kaskaskia, and begins to plan his attack. Sending supplies, equipment, and artillery ahead by boat, Clark, with his band of faithful followers, strikes out in mid-February on the 250 mile march across southern Illinois from Kaskaskia to Vincennes. The Victory Drum is a story of determination and success, told simply and appealingly, with a flair for adventure.
58. ORCUTT, WILLIAM DANA, 1870-1953.

Robert Cavelier; The Romance of the Sieur de la Salle and His Discovery of the Mississippi River, by William Dana Orcutt. Illustrated by Charlotte Weber. Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co., MCMIIII. 313p.

The life of LaSalle is reiterated here with few changes, but with different emphasis than other novels of the same ilk. Starting in 1666, when Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, is twenty-three years old and preparing for the priesthood at the Jesuit House of Novices in Paris, the novel details his escape from the Jesuits, his estrangement from his elder brother, and his voyage to New France. The author dwells on LaSalle's hatred and distrust of the Jesuits; his love for Anne Courcelle; and his friendship with the Indian, Peskaret; touching only lightly on the hardships of his years in the wilderness and his friendship with Henri de Tonty. The novel ends five years before his last voyage and mysterious death. It seems apparent that Orcutt sought a new approach to an old story when he wrote Robert Cavelier. Unfortunately, he skips much that is important in deference to secondary acts and little known facts in recounting the life of this important figure in Illinois' history.

Critic, 10/1904, p. 381. Dial, 6/1/1904, p. 367. Literary World, 7/1904, p. 206. N. Y. Times Book Review, 4/30/1904, p. 292.
Wilderness Adventure, by Elizabeth Page. New York [and] Toronto: Rinehart & Company, Inc., [1946.] 309p.
Evidence that a young girl, Lisel Salling, has been captured by Indians leads five men to brave the uncharted wilderness of mid-America in search of her. Departing from Williamsburg in 1742, the party ventures west to Kaskaskia, down the Mississippi River to New Orleans, and across the ocean to Europe before she is found.
Book Review Digest, 1946, p. 633.
The Power and the Glory; A Romance of the Great LaSalle, by Gilbert Parker. Illustrated. New York and London: Publishers, Harper & Brothers, 1925. 339p.
The saga of Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, is recounted beginning shortly after his arrival in Canada and following through to his death. LaSalle is characterized as a dauntless, uncompromising man, willing to sacrifice fortune, love, and life for the pursuit of his dream. Throughout his adventure, he stoically faces the dangers of the wilderness, overcoming each new peril through persistence and determination. Not so with the man-made perils of the French court, the ambitious Jesuits of the New World, and the numerous unfaithful followers who fall his lot. In city and forest, man appears to be his worst enemy. Parker has painted LaSalle larger than life, in the manner of a folk hero rather than as a living man. However, his interpretation of seventeenth century France and America is historically accurate and quite detailed.
Book Review Digest, 1925, p. 542-3.
61. PARRISH, RANDALL, 1858-1923.
Beyond the Frontier; A Romance of Early Days in the Middle West, by Randall Parrish. Author of "When Wilderness Was King," "The Maid of the Forest," etc., etc. Illustrated by The Kinneys. Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co., 1915. 406p.
Adele is forced to marry a man she detests and to accompany him on a long and dangerous canoe journey to the Illinois country where her husband is to take command of Fort St. Louis at Starved Rock. The young guide for the expedition is her only friend, but his life is already in jeopardy by virtue of his loyalty to LaSalle and Tonty who are enemies of her husband. Clashes between the young guide and Adele's husband predictably provide many moments of excitement before Adele is finally freed from her marriage vows and able to begin a new life with her love at Fort St. Louis. Parrish takes few liberties with historical fact as he superimposes improbable melodrama and adventure onto scenes from the past already steeped in romance. Told in the first person, the story chronicles continual demonstrations of heroism and chivalry in the face of villains and rogues, Indian savagery, and wilderness hardship, with hero and heroine, of course, emerging victorious, honorable, and practically unscathed. Parrish's persistent use of highly romanticized speech may have contributed to his original popularity, but today it seems merely artificial and awkward.
Book Review Digest, 1915, p. 361.
62. PARRISH, RANDALL, 1858-1923.

The Sword of the Old Frontier; A Tale of Fort Chartres and Detroit, Being a Plain Account of Sundry Adventures Befalling Chevalier Raoul de Coubert, one time Captain in the Hussars of Languedoc, during the year 1763, by Randall Parrish. Author of "When Wilderness Was King" and "My Lady of the North." Illustrated by F. C. Yohn. Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co., 1905. 407p.

De Coubert, formerly a French captain, is sent from Fort Chartres to Detroit by way of the Mississippi, Illinois, and Kankakee Rivers, with a secret message for the Indian war chief Pontiac; but the captain never seems as concerned with either his military mission or the commission he hopes to regain with its successful completion, as with the safety of two young English ladies who happen to be traveling the same route. Included are descriptions of Kaskaskia Fort Chartres, and frontier life in the Illinois country.

Book Review Digest, 1905, p. 269.
63. PARRISH, RANDALL, 1858-1923.
When Wilderness Was King; A Tale of the Illinois Country, by Randall Parrish. With six pictures in full color and other decorations by Troy and Margaret West Kinney. Chicago: A. C., McClurg & Co., 1904. 388p.
Another improbable adventure story, When Wilderness Was King employs a vivid portrayal of the Fort Dearborn massacre of 1812 as a backdrop. Sent by his father to bring back the orphaned child of a comrade-in-arms, young Wayland is distracted from his assigned task by what appears to be a more immediate crisis. Facing capture and death by Indians many times before he finally returns to the safety of his home, Wayland eventually discovers that the girl he has rescued from Indians and grown to love is indeed the same orphaned girl he was sent to find.
N. Y. Times Book Review, 4/30/1904, p. 294. N. Y. Times Book Review, 6/18/1904, p. 406.
The Jewel of Cahokia, by J. Nick Perrin. [Belleville, Illinois: Belleville Advocate Printing Co.;] 1936. 42p.
The circumstances surrounding the death of Pontiac near Cahokia in 1769 are related with fictional embellishments in this small, privately printed volume. While walking one evening along Cahokia Creek, Lambert Roubasse and Nannette Falliere witness the murder of Pontiac, chief of the Ottawa, Ojibway, and Potawatomie tribes, by Kinneboo, a half-breed of the Kaskaskia tribe. Harboring resentment against Lambert Roubasse from an old confrontation, Kinneboo accuses the youth of the murder. Only through the boldness of Nannette in stepping forward to tell her story is Lambert saved from Indian reprisal and British justice, and the truth concerning the real murderer and the British trader who bribed him brought to light.
65. RAYMOND, EVELYN HUNT, 1843-1910.

The Sun Maid; A Story of Fort Dearborn, by Evelyn Raymond. Author of "The Little Lady of the Horse," Etc. New York: E. P. Dutton & Company; 31 West Twenty-third St[reet, 1900.] 326p.

Kitty Briscoe, called the Sun Maid by her Indian friends, is an orphan of the Fort Dearborn massacre of 1812. Adopted by a childless Potawatomie woman, sister of Black Partridge, Kitty grows to womanhood among the Indians, learns their ways, and suffers with them through the persecutions of the white man and the final loss of their hunting grounds to the white immigrant. Kitty eventually returns to Fort Dearborn where she lives out her years promoting peace during the Black Hawk War; nursing the sick and dying during the Asian cholera epidemic which follows; enduring the death of husband and sons during the Civil War; and dying as Chicago smolders in ashes, following the greatest fire known to modern civilization. The Sun Maid is an allegory drawing parallels between the life of Kitty Briscoe and the early growth of Chicago. Although the allegory, as a literary form, is no longer in vogue, it might be tolerated, given redeeming features to offset the archaic style. However, The Sun Maid has little to recommend it, for there is practically no historical grist in the novel, the timing and sequence of historical events often seem distorted, and many of the incidents described in detail are so incredible as to be insulting to the intelligence of the average reader.

Athenaeum, 2/23/1901, p. 239.
66. REED, MYRTLE, 1874-1911.
The Shadow of Victory, A Romance of Fort Dearborn, by Myrtle Reed. New York and London: G. P. Putnam's Sons; The Knickerbocker Press, 1903. 413p.
The story of the Fort Dearborn massacre during the War of 1812 is repeated with only minor changes from the versions of Eleanor Kenzie and John Richardson written many years earlier. With the introduction of a headstrong and troublesome minx, a niece of John Mackenzie, who sets most of the fort's unclaimed hearts aflutter, Myrtle Reed adds her own touch to the well-known story. However, this character adds little, for she, along with the character of Ensign George Ronald, is vastly over-drawn, and distracts from the real business of the novel. Yet, Myrtle Reed has done an excellent job of interpreting Indian/white relations during the period, and her characterization of Black Partridge is far more truthful than those of many other storytellers. Considered with other fictionalized accounts of the massacre, The Shadow of Victory ranks better than average, for the basic facts ring true, but readers who are familiar with the background of the events may resent and be confused by the author's liberties in changing the names of familiar characters.
Dial, 10/16/1903, p. 263. Independent, 11/12/1903, p. 2696. Literary World, 11/1903, p. 307-8. N. Y. Times Book Review, 11/21/1903, p. 845.
67. RICHARDSON, JOHN, 1796-1852.
Hardscrabble; or The Fall of Chicago, A Tale of Indian Warfare, by Major Richardson. Author of "Wacousta," "Ecarte." "Matilda Montgomerie," Etc. Etc. New York: DeWitt & Davenport Publishers; 160 & 162 Nassau Street, [1856.] 99p.
On a day in early April of 1812, the ordinary activities at the Heywood farm on the southern branch of the Chicago River grind to a sudden halt when the farmhouse is entered and occupied by a band of Winnebago Indians in war paint. A soldier, part of a fishing detail from nearby Fort Dearborn, is the first to suspect trouble when his fishing is interrupted by an Indian who attempts to steal the party's boat, then dumps their rifles into the river. Hurrying back to the fort, the detail discovers the scalpless body of Heywood's hired boy lying in the river, and they decide to check the Heywood house before continuing their retreat. The decision proves nearly fatal as the men escape massacre only by a hair-breadth, and avoid total defeat only by their ingenuity and the reckless daring of Ensign Harry Ronayne in coming to their defense despite orders from his commanding officer at the fort not to leave the premises. Although gory in detail, Hardscrabble is an honest and fascinating account of the action marking the beginning of hostilities which led eventually to the destruction of Fort Dearborn and the massacre of the people garrisoned there.
68. RICHARDSON, JOHN 1796-1852.
Wau-Nan-Gee; or, The Massacre at Chicago, A Romance of the American Revolution by Major Richardson. Author of "Wacousta," "Hardscrabble," "Ecarte," "Jack Brag in Spain," "Tecumseh," &c. New York: H. Long and Brother; No. 43 Ann Street, [1852.] 126p.
Set in August of 1812, Wau-Nan-Gee continues the narrative begun in Richardson's earlier novel,Hardscrabble. Ensign Harry Ronayne and Maria Heywood have recently been married and are experiencing the happiness of newlyweds when Maria is captured and carried away by Indians. In desperation, Ronayne makes a frantic effort to rescue his wife, narrowly escaping capture himself. Meanwhile, news is brought to Fort Dearborn that the Colonies are at war with the British, and the fort is to be abandoned. Carrying out his orders against the counsel of all his close advisors, Captain Headley prepares to close Fort Dearborn and march his troops through the 150 miles of Indian territory to Fort Wayne. The company's excess supplies are distributed to the neighboring Potawatomies, the fort is closed, and on August 15, 1912, the march is begun. On the dunes, within sight of the abandoned fort, the small band of soldiers, along with wives and children, are attacked by the same Potawatomies who the day before shared the good will of the fort's inhabitants. Richardson gives a detailed account of the battle, including the extreme valor of Mrs. Headley and her rescue from the tomahawk by Black Partridge; the gruesome mutilation of captain William Wells' body by the blood-thirsty Indians; the slaughter of the children; and the agonizing death of Pee-to-tum, the Potawatomie's leader. Through it all, Wau-nan-gee, son of chief Winnebeg, serves Ronayne as counselor and friend, sheltering the captive Maria in his mother's wigwam, carrying messages from her to her husband, and keeping Ronayne informed concerning the plans and activities in the Indian camp. Wau-Nan-Gee is an early historical romance which relies heavily on fact, but utilizes fictional episodes for dramatic effect and reader interest. Because of the style, it is relatively easy to determine where fact leaves off and fiction begins.
Brought to Bay, by E. R. Roe... Boston: Estes and Lauriat; 299-305 Washington Street, 1882. 285p.
The disappearance of thirteen-year-old Virginia Rose from her home in Shawneetown marks the beginning of a five year search which leads Francis Sinclair and Virginia's uncle, Torn Rose, to New Orleans, St. Louis, and other ports along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The circumstances of the abduction and search are told gradually, building to a climax which reveals the secret of Virginia's parentage and the reason for the abduction, as well as her hidden love and future plans. The plot of Brought to Bay is contrived, but its weaknesses are easily overlooked because of the wealth of historical background which the novel contains. Set during the years from 1811 to 1817, it presents excellent descriptive passages concerning the New Madrid earthquake, the 1812 Declaration of War, and the Shawneetown flood; as well as vivid glimpses of such local events as a hunting trip to a nearby pigeon roost, a Methodist camp meeting, and a rigorous encounter with river pirates at Cave-In-Rock.
Independent, 8/3/1882, p. 11. Literary World, 6/17/1882, p. 201.
Virginia Rose, by E. R. Roe. Chicago: Donohue, Henneberry & Co., 1892. 252p. Virginia Rose is a reprint of the earlier title, Brought to Bay.
Jackknife Summer, by Ota Lee Russell. Author of Wilderness Boy. Illustrated by Ludmilla Monomachov. Elgin, Illinois: The Brethren Press, [1958.] 138p.
After the death of his parents in 1817, young Jonathan Hughes travels across the eastern United States by stagecoach to Vincennes, where he is met and taken to live in the home of an uncle near Jonesboro, Illinois. Jackknife Summer is the story of Jonathan's adjustment to a land which appears wild and untamable and to a home where sibling rivalry makes him feel unwanted. Jackknife Summer contains only limited background information concerning life in southern Illinois prior to statehood; but the author stresses the influence of the Congregation of Brethren on the development of southern Illinois, and incorporates little known information concerning George Wolfe, Jr., an early minister in the Anna-Jonesboro area.
River Out of Eden, A Novel by Shirley Seifert. New York: Publishers, M. S. Mill Co., Inc., [1940.] 432p.
The period following the treaty of 1763, which ends the French and Indian War, is one of turmoil and uncertainty in America's heartland; and Andre Therriot, son of an avaricious New Orleans merchant, is far more interested in the adventure that he knows awaits him up river than in the security that abides with the ledgers and warehouses of his father's prosperous shipping concern. Old Georges Therriot's decision to send Andre on one of Pierre Laclede's voyages up the Mississippi River seems the realization of Andre's fondest dream. With special cargo bound for Fort Chartres and instructions to handle the boxes with extreme care, Andre sets forth on his journey to the Illinois country. The trip is not without incident, for Andre soon discovers stowaways in the forms of his friends, Vital and Eugenie St. Dennys. Although Eugenie's presence is an inspiration to Andre from the beginning, she becomes an additional concern to the other voyagers already burdened with poor weather, illness, and threats of Indian attack. The novel follows closely the records of Laclede's expedition up the Mississippi, adding an encounter with LaClef in Illinois, and detailing his attempts at inciting the Indians in an abortive move to regain the Illinois territory for the glory of France. In River Out of Eden, the author successfully combines fiction with history to enhance a tale which needs little help to maintain interest.
Book Review Digest, 1940, p. 822-3.
Waters of the Wilderness, A Novel [by] Shirley Seifert. Philadelphia, New York [and] London: J. B. Lippincott Company, [1941.] 523p.
The story of George Rogers Clark is told again, this time from the point of view of Teresa de Leyba, sister of the Lieutenant Governor of Spanish St. Louis. The author goes beyond the well known exploits of Clark and his men in taking Kaskaskia and Vincennes, exposing Clark, the man--who falls in love, who becomes discouraged when repeatedly ignored by his country and his state, who longs for more than he can ever achieve. Covering the years 1778 to 1780, Waters of the Wilderness details the struggle to hold the Illinois and Kentucky territories after they have been won from the British. Indian uprisings, discontent among the soldiers and settlers, renegade trappers, and the ever-present threat of British retribution unite to compound Clark's difficulties, which are still not entirely resolved when the novel ends. Clark's love for Teresa de Leyba is a major theme which expands the scope of the novel beyond the confines of the Cahokia-Kaskaskia area.
Book Review Digest, 1941, p. 805.
Westward the Tide, [by] Harold Sinclair. New York: Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc., 1940. 359p.
In Westward the Tide, Sinclair has created a revealing and engrossing account of George Rogers Clark and his campaigns in the Illinois country in 1778 and 1779. Clark and a small band of men travel down the Ohio River by flatboat and cross Illinois by foot from Fort Massac to Kaskaskia, where they capture three towns without a single casualty. A few months later, they cross Illinois again and capture Fort Sackville at Vincennes, against heavy British odds. The story is convincingly narrated by a clerk-ensign who writes letters and keeps records for Clark, and whose modest love story adds an ornament of fiction to one of the most dramatic stories of heroism in Illinois history. Carefully detailed reporting and a sensitive portrayal of Clark as a leader of men make this a particularly valuable book.
Book Review Digest, 1940, p. 843.
Touched with Fire, by John Tebbel. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co.. Inc., 1952. 447p.
LaSalle's romance with the North American wilderness of the seventeenth century is recounted in vivid detail in a novel which begins with his first journey to Quebec in company with a shipload of women intended as wives for lonely voyageurs, soldiers, and settlers of New France, and ends with his death on the Mississippi River in a desperate attempt to reach his settlement, Fort St. Louis on the Illinois River, with a shipload of settlers some twenty years later. The interim is filled with adventure after adventure, each more daring than its predecessor. The smothering entanglement of New World politics, the ever present danger of the savage Iroquois, the first ill-fated attempt to navigate the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, the tragic loss of the Griffon, the grueling march through the Illinois territory--these are the things of which the novel is made. Based largely on information gleaned from Francis Parkman's history, France and England in North America, Touched with Fire adheres closely to actual history, with only the occasional addition of a lady here, a maiden there to add savor.
Book Review Digest, 1952, p. 876.
76. ZARA, LOUIS, 1910-
This Land Is Ours, by Louis Zara. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company; The Riverside Press Cambridge, 1940. 779p.
A sprawling novel covering eighty years of American history, from 1755 to 1835, This Land Is Ours focuses on the life of Andrew Benton, a frontiersman, Boone-like in his hatred of civilization, who nevertheless possesses an uncanny knack for always being where the action is. Too young to experience Braddock's defeat firsthand, Andrew is one of the first to learn of it as he and his parents traverse the Lancaster Pike on their first move west in 1755. He accompanies his parents again on their journey through the Alleghenies and moves on to Detroit where he is witness to the Pontiac Conspiracy. He is captured by Shawnee Indians and lives among them for several years. He is at Kaskaskia when George Rogers Clark captures the town, and he joins Clark on his march to Vincennes. He engages in Indian warfare under St. Clair, Wayne, and Harrison. He survives the Fort Dearborn massacre. He lives to see the Indian nations banished to the western plains. Although in summary Andrew Benton may seem larger than life, the transitions from adventure to adventure are smooth and natural. During the course of the novel, Mr. Zara re-creates eighty years of history, describes geographical and topographical features of the land from the Alleghenies to the Mississippi River, and draws vivid portraits of the American frontiersman and the Indian creating a panoramic view of the early development of the nation including the state of Illinois.
Book Review Digest, 1940, p. 1024-5.









Pre-Statehood Years: to 1818

The Prairie Years: 1818-Civil War

The Turbulent Years: Civil War-1914

Illinois Comes of Age: 1914-1945

Modern Illinois: 1945-1976



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