The Monumental Archives


Shabbona's Grave Marker and Monumental Archives Tag.
Evergreen Cemetery,  Morris, Illinois.    Jan 12, 2013

Shabbona was a friend to the White Man.
( Above)
Rare RPPC of Masters Photo of Chief "SHABONEY", from Wold Collection.

This portrait of Shabbona  belongs to the Reddick Library Collection in Ottawa, Illinois.
This pastel drawing of Shabbona,  belongs to the village of Harding, located just 2 miles south from site of the Indian Creek Massacre of 1832, Shabbona Park,  LaSalle County, Illinois.

Bronze bust located in the Marquette Building in Chicago

Portrait by F.B.Young of Rome, New York . Painted around 1840.

 from   "Shabbona" 
by  Mrs. L.A. Hatch
published 1915,   DeKalb, Illinois
Shaubena's Gun

This article appeared in


Official Bulletin of the


Vol.4, No.2 Fall-Winter 1957


Friend of the Whites


Wayne C. Temple, Ph.D

Curator of Ethnohistory

Illinois State Museum

    Shabbona (also spelled  Shabonee,  Chambly,  Chabonne,  Shab-eh-nay,  Sho-bon-ier, etc.) was a prominent Indian Chief in Illinois, but it is not certain where or when he was born. His birth probably occurred about the time of the American Revolution. Early in his life he became associated with "The Three Fires" confederacy, a group of Potawatomi, Chippewa, and Ottawa who lived north of Peoria along the Illinois River and in the northeastern section of the state. Shabbona was an Ottawa and served as a representative of his tribe at several treaty councils, but he seems to have married at least one Potawatomi wife.

    During the War of 1812 he fought against the Americans only to become their loyal friend at the conclusion of the conflict. Soon after this war Shabbona became a village or peace chief of the Potawatomi, Ottawa, and Chippewa in Illinois. The first time his name appears as a leader is in a treaty made in St. Louis on August 24, 1816. Nine years later, Thomas Forsyth (an Indian agent at Peoria) declared that Shabbona, an Ottawa, and White dog, a Chippewa, were the two principal chiefs of "The Three Fires" in his district. That same year, Shabbona participated in a treaty made at Prairie du Chien (August 19,1825) as an Ottawa delegate and the following month drew rations and supplies at Fort Armstrong - on Rock Island- for his followers. At the time his villages were on the Spoon River , but in 1829 he complained t  William Clark, superintendent of Indian affairs, that that he had been threatened and driven from that river. His new location, called As-sim-in-eh-kon, was in or near Paw Paw Grove, a wooded area now located in Paw Paw Township of DeKalb County  and Wyoming Township of Lee County, and the treaty of Prairie du Chien (concluded July 29,1829 ) reserved two sections of land for his "use" at this site.

     When James M. Bucklin was surveying a route for the proposed Illinois and Michigan Canal in 1830, he found himself in need of an expert guide and hired Shabbona. The following year the chief was still living at Paw Paw  Grove although his reserve had not yet been surveyed and assigned to him. Many of the white settlers knew Shabbona and he sometimes journeyed to Peoria or the Spoon River Valley to obtain supplies or hunt. He also hunted along the Sangamon until the settlers complained of these excursions. Shabbona  petitioned the President of the United States for protection, but after meeting with William Clark at St Louis in November of 1831, he agreed to remain in northern Illinois.

    With the coming of the Black Hawk War in 1832, Shabbona volunteered his services despite the fact that many of the settlers had treated him shabbily.  The militia officers at Chicago had refused his offer and Shabbona led his warriors t Rock river in June and joined Gen.Henry  Atkinson's forces. In all, ninety five men from "The Three Fires"( including twenty chiefs) were mustered into service on June 22. One month later they were all discharged except Shabbona, Billy Caldwell, Waubonsee ( Wauponsee ), and Perish Éclair. These four chiefs rendered important service to the army as guides, spies, and messengers.

    Another Treaty was signed with the "Prairie" and "Kankakee" bands of the Potawatomi on October 20, 1832, and  Shabbona's  two sections of land were mentioned as being "reserved" for him. In addition, he received forty dollars for a horse which had been stolen from him during the war. "The Three Fires" ceded all their land around Lake Michigan to the government by the treaty of Chicago on September 26 and 27, 1833, and Shabbona witnessed this, too. One article stipulated that the old chief's two sections of land were now granted "in simple to him his heirs and assigns forever." For his loyal services during the Black Hawk War he also received a yearly pension of $200 for life. When Black Hawk's hostile band of Sauk and Fox sought to murder white settlers, Shabbona had ridden long hours in the saddle to warn them of the war party's approach.

    The Potawatomi, Ottawa, and Chippewa of Illinois agreed to leave within three years after Congress ratified the treaty of 1833, and from1835 until 1838 many of them were taken to new lands across the Mississippi. Shabbona seems to have gone west at this time, but he later returned to Paw Paw grove. records in Washington shows that he asked the government in 1838 to survey his reserve in order that he might obtain a title to it. An Indian agent reported that steps would be taken to have it surveyed, but declared that Shabbona was entitled to "use" of  this reserve only. The treaty of 1833, being later than that of 1829, was the law of the land, however, and it clearly stated that the grant was given to Shabbona in fee simple, but the treaty was made after this ruling and the Senate ratified it without change in 1835. In 1839, Shabbona asked the federal government to buy his reserve since he probably despaired of actually receiving it. The officials agreed, but related that there was , at the time, no money available.

    At last, in December of 1842, G. M. Butler, a deputy surveyor, laid out the reserve of1,280 acres; it included all of Section 23, half of Section 25, and half of Section 26 in Township 38 north of the base line in  Range  3 east of the third principal meridian. This land is just north of Shabbona Grove in Shabbona Township of DeKalb County and not at Paw Paw Grove as the treaty had specified. Since Shabbona did not remain settled upon his land, squatters moved in and the reserve was put up for sale on July 21, 1849. Before the buyers could obtain a clear title, however, the United States was forced to appropriate $1600 and buy the land back from Shabbona in 1852. By law, Shabbona still owned the reserve although it had been sold to other people.

    From a letter written at Shabbona Grove on July1, 1854, it is known that the old chief was living at this time with remnants of his tribe west of the Mississippi and had been there for two or three years. Not until about 1855 did he return to Ottawa, Illinois. There he often stayed with George E.  Walker, a former sheriff, who told him that  "while I have a bed and crust you shall share them with me."  But Shabbona longed for a home of his own and the citizens of Ottawa decided to buy him a piece of land. Many friends, including the contractor Lucien P. Sanger, contributed money and the final $150 was collected at a ball held in Metropolitan Hall of Ottawa on May 15, 1857. Shabbona, with about 15 members of his family, attended the dance and when asked to pick out the "prettiest lady in the room", he selected his wife, a tattooed "buckskinned Mackinaw Squaw."

    Shabbona himself picked out the land that he wanted and on June 27, 1857, it was purchased from John and Sarah Bachelor for the sum of $500, the deed to be held in trust by the " Judge of the Circuit Court of LaSalle County for the time being and his successors in office." This reserve , compromising twenty acres in the east half of the southeast fractional quarter of Section 20, Township33 north of the base line in Range 6 east of the third principal meridian, is on the south bank of the Illinois river between Morris and Seneca in Norman Township of Grundy County. Perry A. Armstrong, county clerk and friend of Shabbona, omitted this property from the tax books so that it could never be sold for unpaid taxes.

    Shabbona erected a rude lodge on his land and lived a quiet life. When Lincoln and Douglas debated at Ottawa on August 21, 1858, Armstrong brought Shabbona to hear the noted speakers and was accorded a position of honor on the platform. Only once did the chief show any emotion during the speaking, and that was when Douglas shouted that he was "in favor of confining citizenship to white men, men of European birth and descent, instead of conferring it upon negroes, Indians, and other inferior races." Later that year, Shabbona also visited friends at Mendota and attended a horse show.

   The old chief remained active until the day of his death: July18, 1859. The previous day he had gotten wet and overexerted himself while hunting. He died at his lodge and the funeral was held at Morris the following day with burial in the Evergreen Cemetery. On November 30,1864, his wife Pokanoka drowned in Mazon River and was buried beside him.

    For years the graves remained with-out a marble marker and Mr. Armstrong of Morris pleaded with the citizens of the surrounding community to contribute money for the erection of a monument. He even suggested that Shabbona's little homestead be sold to pay the expenses of a tombstone. After much effort, the necessary funds were raised and a grey boulder- weighing several tons-was purchased. This stone was unveiled on October 23, 1903, and bears the single word "Shabbona" followed by the dates "1775-1859," although the time of his birth ids uncertain. The chief's little farm was never sold and it still can be seen although the fences have long since disappeared. In 1949,  descendants of Shabbona, who were living in Nebraska, visited the grave where memorial services held under the auspices of the Grundy County Historical Society. The bravery of this Ottawa Indian chief will not be forgotten as long as people read the history of the State of Illinois.   

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