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Black Hawk War, 1832: Elijah Phillips, s/o Elijah, Killed

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29 Sep 2011 23:34 #748 by Mamie
(1) On Sunday, the 17th of June, 1832, Elijah Phillips, a private in Capt. Geo. B. Willis' company of volunteers, of Putnam county, Illinois, was killed by the same tribe of Indians, near Dover, Bureau county, some nine miles north of Princeton. It seems that he and John Ament had claims adjoining each other on the east bank of Bureau creek, upon which they had erected cabins, and were occupying them when warned, by the noble old Shaubenee, of danger, and had fled, leaving their household goods in their deserted cabins. Scattered along, near by the claims of Messrs. Ament and Phillips, were those of a Mr. Hodge, father-in-law of Mr. Ament, Mr. Forestal, Sylvester Brigham, Ziba Dimmock and Aaron Gunn. The latter is still living at LaSalle, Ill., and from him we have the following letter, written by his eldest daughter, Mrs. Jennett G. Elliott:

"LaSalle, Ill., July 7, 1884.
"P. A. Armstrong, Esq., Morris, Illinois:

"Your letter was duly received, and father requests me to answer your inquiries as follows: The date of Elijah Phillips' death was June 17th. His claim was one-half mile north of where he was shot, and nine miles north of Princeton and three miles north of Dover and east of the Bureau. The names of the party were * * * (as above given). Mr. Ament, being warned of danger, took his wife and child on horseback, leaving everything, and going to Pekin. But sometime after, 5,000 mounted men being stationed here at LaSalle, it was considered safe to go for the household goods left in his cabin, and these six men volunteered to go as protectors and assistants, but anticipated no danger. They arrived there at about 4 P. M. Some of them visited their claims, located near by; others gathered wild strawberries around a clump of hazel brush about two feet high, which grew near the house. During the night they heard whistling, which they supposed were birds, but afterwards they found it to be the whistling of the Indians. The door of the cabin was off the hinges, and simply leaned against the opening.

"Mr. Phillips arose at daylight, intending to go to his cabin and finish a letter to his parents, begun the day before. His way lay through the hazel brush, and it is supposed by the remains of fires, etc., found, that the Indians had been secreted there some days, watching and expecting some one to come for the things in the cabin, intending, when the party were engaged loading the wagon in the morning, to suddenly fire and kill them all. But Mr. Phillips coming suddenly upon them, they shot him, and with a yell rushed for the cabin door. Mr. Brigham, looking out, said: 'Boys, here are more than fifty Indians.' It was afterwards known there were thirty. Brigham and Gunn, determined to sell their lives as dearly as possible, crossed their bayonet-pointed guns X fashion in the doorway, and stood prepared to fire, seeing which the Indians ran back to the brush and disappeared. Dimmock, aged but fifteen, begged to be let out and run for his life, but the men told him he might call one of the horses with an ear of corn, jump on his back and ride to Hennepin for help, which he did, the rest expecting to see him shot as soon as he left the door; but when he was seen safely riding across the prairie, each man expressed a wish to be in his place. At 4 P. M. that day seventy men arrived. Mr. Phillips was found shot twice and badly tomahawked, and the appearances indicated that the Indians fled at once after leaving the cabin in the morning. Father is near seventy-eight years old and in good health, but has not written much for two years past.
"Wishes to be remembered to you, and dearly loves to see and talk with old-time friends that remain."

Source: The Sauks and the Black Hawk War, With Biographical Sketches, by Hon. Perry A. Armstrong of Morris, Illinois, 1887; Pg. 401


(2) On Monday, the 18th , the company of Capt. David Smith , Madison, County, First Regiment, Third Brigade, was detached to occupy the post at Fort Johnston. On the same day an express arrived from the Henderson River which reported the murder on Bureau Creek of Elijah Phillips, one of a party of six who had been passing the night in the cabin of John L. Ament. As this murder created a great scare at the time, it may be well to relate the circumstances:

On the 17th Phillips, Ament, J. Hodges, Sylvester Brigham, Aaron Gunn, James G. Forristall and a lad of sixteen, named Ziba Dimmick, left Hennepin to look after cattle which had been left to run at large on Bureau Creek. On arriving at Ament's cabin, a mile and a half north of the present site of Dover, they ate their lunch and were preparing to return to Hennepin, when a heavy rain set in and the party retired to the cabin for the night, after first securely barricading the door.
To the west of the cabin lay the sugar camp of the Indians, which had for years been their headquarters. The presence of Ament in the country had greatly angered the Indians, and it required no great effort by Black Hawk's emissaries to persuade them to rid themselves of the presence of the hated settlers. The presence of the whites was at once discovered by them and during the night a cordon was formed around the house to ambush them the moment any of the number appeared. Mr. Phillips arose and left the cabin alone to look after the horses. Proceeding but a few feet, he walked square upon the Indians in the hazel bushes, who, with deafening yells, rose and shot him. Wishing the full fruition of their victory, they rushed upon his body to secure the scalp, but the other whites within, thrusting their muskets through the chinks, frightened the Indians away. Young Dimmick volunteered to return to Hennepin for reinforcements, a dangerous trip, but, calling a horse to him, he mounted, and, reaching Hennepin, was able to secure, after much persuasion, some reinforcements from two companies of the rangers who had been discharged and were returning home. The body of Phillips was secured and taken to Hennepin for burial.

Source: The Black Hawk War, Including a Review of Black Hawk‘s Life; by Frank Everett Stevens, 1903; Pgs. 191-192


(3) Elijah Phillips, son of Elijah Phillips, was born in Fitzwilliam, and in 1830, when he was a young man, went West and settled in Illinois. He made his journey partly on foot and partly by the Erie Canal, and by steamboat on Lake Erie, and joining his old friends, James G. Forristall and Sylvester Brigham, they built a log cabin for themselves in what is now the town of Dover. Nearly two years later Mr. Phillips, with seven others, left Fort Hennepin to look after their cattle, and rain coming on they remained overnight in the hut of one John L. Ament, who was not on friendly terms with the neighboring Indians. In some way Mr. Phillips had become somewhat involved in the quarrel. The men barricaded the hut and each slept with his loaded gun by his side. The Indians who were watching the cabin during the night were prevented by the rain from burning it, but early in the morning as Mr. Phillips started for his own cabin, which was not far distant, a number of guns were fired at him and he fell dead, two bullets having entered his body.

Source: The History of Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire, from 1752-1887, by Rev. John Foote Norton, A.M., With a Genealogical Record of many Fitzwilliam Families, by Joel Whittemore, 1888; Pg. 391

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