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It was away back in the dim and indefinite past, in the territorial days of Illinois, that this noted and itinerant tribe occupied the county of McLean, in Illinois. Then there came the time that fate decreed that they must move on. The lands were rich, the country beautiful to behold, and the climate salubrious, hence the white man’s eyes looked upon it with admiration mingled with envy.
The star of empire was moving westward, at this time, at rapid strides, civilization and development encroaching, so that the Indians must go. Farther west was good enough for them. Good hunting grounds, good fishing, roaming and carousing grounds, where even there were more hark and skins with which to cover their little huts which they preferred to comfortable houses and where there was no lack of white whiskey traders. So they went west, under the guidance of their grand old prophet, Kennekuk, who later on died in Kansas and was buried somewhere near the old town of Kickapoo, Atchison county. In their Kansas home, the Kickapoos first occupied the lands adjacent to the present location of Wathena and a subsequent treaty removed them to a reservation in Brown county, composed of about one-fourth of the county in the southwest part. The north line of this reserve, commencing near the west line of the county, ran along the south line of the present town of Fairview, on east by the old Billy Meisenheimer farm and on east, north of the Wm. Hauber home place, to its east line, and then south to Horton.
Under a treaty made with this tribe June 28, 1862, and signed by President Lincoln May 28, 1863, the Central Branch, Union Pacific Railroad Company became the possessor of this barge tract of the choice lands of the county, except a tract of 30 sections, 5 by 6 miles square, on the south line and three miles from the west line of the county, forming the little home far the present members of the tribe, who like the Iowa, Sac and Fox tribes in the north portion of the county, have now, layed aside their red blankets, feathers, war whoop and paint and donned the dress of the whites and are engaged, in the peaceful pursuit of farming, some of them riding in their own automobiles.. All these tribes have been reduced to a very few, by the “move on” process and not by the waning of the race, for a late report from the Indian commissioner says they are holding their own. There are says, the report, 350,000 of them today in 24 states, settled on 80 reservations.
This is a very brief account of the coming of the first human settlers to the county. It was these Indians that broke the silence of multiplied ages, occupied a spot of the bleak and untenanted domain west of the Missouri river, and proclaimed themselves monarchs of all they surveyed. The Iowa had about 12,000 acres, the Kickapoos five times that amount, and the whole of these reservations were of the best lands in the county. In reducing the Kickapoo reservation from more than 12 miles square to the present five by six mile reservation, the Indians received $1.25 an acre for these rich prairie lands. These few remaining Kickapoos each have a comfortable cabin and a wagon and team.
They try to imitate the white man in dress and mode of farming as near as they can. A number of years ago arrangements were made to allot these lands to these Indians in severalty. So many acre’s to each, but they were to be held in trust by government for 25 years, at the end of which time patents will be issued. However, patents are issued now in cases where the Indian has proven himself capable of taking care of his possessions and not likely to be cheated by some white man as has been the case in many instances. Even when an Indian dies his land is sold and the proceeds thereof are. held in trust by the government for the benefit of the heirs. It is seen, therefore, that the government protects this Ignorant class from being defrauded by the unscrupulous white land shark and makes sure to them their lands, monies and rights as wards of this nation.