History of Arrowsmith Township, McLean County, Illinois
From: History of McLean County Illinois
By: Jacob L. Hasbrouck
Historical Publishing Company
Arrowsmith Township. - This township has one of the most romantic histories in the county so far as the times
before the white settlers came is concerned. It was here that one of the chief Indian settlements in the county
is said to have existed, and here too, are evidences of an Indian fort and scenes of battles, either between hostile
tribes of Indians or between white men and Indians. The township was first called Pleasant, but afterward named
Arrowsmith in honor of Ezekiel Arrowsmith, who was supervisor of the township in 1858, when the change of name
was made. Jonathan Cheney entered the first land in the township, having laid claim to a tract near the grove in
the southwest part, which was in fact part of the Old Town timber. Here was located, according to evidence of early
settlers, quite an Indian town, and also an Indian burying ground belonging to the Kickapoos. John Wells Dawson,
the first settler, had personal knowledge of these two Indian habitations. The Indian burying ground was just over
the line from West township in Arrowsmith, while the Indian town was a few miles northwest of this, near the home
of John Dawson. But the most notable Indian relics were those found near a grove in the eastern part of the township,
first owned by Jacob Smith, on section 24. At the headwaters of the Sangamon river in this vicinity is a hill or
mound some 20 feet in height and an acre in extent at the top. Early settlers found there many excavations or pits,
which later became overgrown with grass and underbrush until they were almost lost to sight. Some distance away,
about the distance which may be calculated as a gunshot, are located zigzag pits or ditches. Here have been found
from time to time many leaden bullets. From all these evidences the local historians have concluded that a battle
occurred here between an attacking party in the ditches and the defenders of the hill with its pits. The course
of the Sangamon, the location of the hill and the "rifle pits," and the finding of bullets in the vicinity,
all point to a battle. The McLean County Historical Society, under the direction of the late Capt. John H. Burnham,
made many attempts to excavate these pits and mounds for historic evidences, and they were in part successful.
The society obtained some two pounds of leaden bullets by their several explorations. Those who do not credit the
theory of a battle between the Kickapoos and some hostile tribe, say the battle might have been between the Kickapoos
and a band of French soldiers from Fort Chartres, who were once said to have been sent out to "chastise"
the Kickapoos, known as the "Indians of the prairie." A half breed Indian of the Pottawatomie tribe,
is quoted by one authority as having heard traditions among his people of a battle between the Kickapoos and Foxes
on one side and the Ottawas and Chippewas on the other, which occurred in a fortification near the Sangamon river.
This seems to identify the Arrowsmith "battle ground" as the site of an ancient struggle of hostile tribes.
The late Hiram Beckwith of Danville, a noted Illinois historian, held to the theory that the McLean County Indian
battle ground was the scene of a fight between Indians and French garrisons from Fort Chartres.