He Wasn’t the One

Joseph Green

Joseph Green (pictured above) is the youth mentioned in the following article from the Ottawa Free Trader. However, he was NOT the young man who was the subject of the horrible revenge.

Important Correction1

The following horrible relation, which we believe first appeared in print in the Lacon Herald in a letter from the plains, is going the rounds of the papers:

Revenge — Horrible. —Among the overland emigration for California, last spring, was Mr. Green, of “Green’s Wollen [sic] Factory,” Fox river, and two of his sons, the youngest a youth. — It is reported that while passing through a tribe of Indians, this youth who was naturally full of mischief, killed a squaw.  The tribe having been well advised of the fact, hastened after and overtook the company, and demanded the murderer. — At first the demand was resisted; but after the Indians had informed them that they would destroy the company if their request was not granted, the youth was surrendered into their hands.  They then stripped him, and in the presence of his father and the whole company, they skinned him from head to foot!  He lived four hours after he was thus flayed.  This should be a warning to all interested not to trifle with the unfortunate sons of the forest.

We have made considerable inquiry since we first saw this account in print, and find that it is true in its essential particulars, with one very important exception, and that is the name.  Instead of a son of Mr. Green, it was a young man by the name of Wasson, of Perkins’ Grove, Bureau county, who went with a company from Knox’s Grove, Lee county.  He is said to have been very fool hardy and reckless in character.  He made a threat, on leaving Independence, that he would shoot the first Indian he saw, but had not carried his threat into effect, until he had nearly reached California.  Then one of the company reminding him of it, he said he had forgotten it, but would carry it out yet.  He shortly after saw a squaw sitting on a log, and raising his piece, he murdered her in cold blood.  The Indians almost instantly thereupon surrounded the company and visited upon the murderer the terrible retribution above indicated.

This account is confirmed by four or five letters from members of the company, all of which agree in the essential particulars.  How the correspondent of the Lacon paper got the name of Mr. Green mixed up in the affair is more than we can tell.  Certain it is, however, that no letter from any of Mr. Green’s party, and there have been dozens received, ever hinted at any such occurrence, and, indeed, the very son himself said to have been killed, has written since his arrival in the mines, and the letters in his own familiar hand writing are in the hand of his friends.


  1. Ottawa (Illinois] Free Trader, February 23, 1850, p. 2, col. 2

To the East by Steamer

Cleveland Daily Herald (Cleveland, Ohio), Tuesday, October 12, 1841

Among the passengers on the Steamer De Witt Clinton in October 1941 was Jesse Green, of Dayton, Illinois. It is very likely that he was traveling east to acquire machinery or supplies for their new woolen mill. He was traveling in style, as you may see by the description below.

STEAMBOAT LAUNCH. – The fine new steamboat DE WITT CLINTON, was to be launched from the ship yard of Captain F. Church, at Huron, on Saturday last. She is a first class boat, 500 tons burthen, built for the Troy & Erie Line, and will be commanded by by Capt. Byram H. Squires. This is the second steamboat built in this yard this season.
Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
Monday, July 25, 1836 p.2, c.4

The DE WITT CLINTON, which left this port yesterday afternoon for Buffalo, is a new and handsome steam freight boat. She is 147 feet in length, 27 feet beam about 48 feet on the guards, and 11 feet depth of hold. Tonnage registered at 415, but by carpenter’s measure nearer 490. Although built for a freight boat, she is so constructed as to accommodate a goodly number of passengers; there being in the main and forward cabins 72 berths, in the ladies’ cabin 30, and on the promenade deck 8 state-rooms, with 3 berths in each, beside 6 others near the steering wheel, and perhaps 20 more on the main deck, for the hands, &c., being in all about 150. The arrangement of the ladies’ cabin is very convenient being across the deck, with a broad and spacious hall between the ranges of berths. The workmanship of the whole is plain but neat and substantial. The machinery (high pressure) is very powerful.
Cleveland Weekly Advertiser
Thursday, September 15, 1836 p.2 c.6

Steam paddle DeWITT CLINTON. Of 413 tons gross. Built Huron, Ohio, 1836. First home port, Buffalo, N.Y. DISPOSITION. — Lost by stranding 1851.
Merchant Steam Vessels of the United States
The Lytle – Holdcamper List, 1790 to 1868

 

Old Settlers Reunion – Part 1

Covered Wagon

At the 1877 La Salle County Old Settlers Reunion the principal speaker was The Honorable Perry A. Armstrong of Morris, a lawyer and member of the state legislature for several terms. His lengthy speech was reported in the Ottawa Free Trader on August 18 and told of the early days of the county. Excerpts from that speech are given below.

“The state of Ohio, though comparatively speaking one of the younger states, contributed largely towards furnishing the first settlers of this county, among whom I will mention the Greens, Shavers, Groves, Debolts, Dunavans, Hupps, Brumbacks, Pitzers, Richeys, Strawns, Milligans, Trumbos, Armstrongs, Parrs, Hitts, Reynolds, Wallaces and Bruners, all of whom have left many descendants. New York also contributed handsomely to the first inhabitants, while Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and many of the eastern states had their representatives here at an early day. As a general rule we could distinguish whether the incoming emigrant were Yankee or from the Middle States.

The Yankee drove but one span of horses to his wagon and rode on the wagon to drive – the other drove from four to six horses to his wagon, riding the left hand wheel-horse to drive. The wagon of the Yankee was coupled longer than the other, had a flexible tongue held up by a neck yoke, and was of several inches narrower gauge and far lighter draft. The box was much lower and longer than the other’s, and of simpler construction and more easily taken apart to put on and oil.

The Buckeye or the Middle State wagon was schooner-shaped and closely coupled together. The rear wheels were some 12 inches greater in diameter than the front ones. It had a still tongue, which was ever busy pounding the legs of the wheel horses. The team was driven by a single line. Three sharp jerks to turn to the right – a steady pull to turn to the left, guided them.

The harness was both a curiosity and a monstrosity – a curiosity, how it ever came into use; a monstrosity by way of punishment to the poor horses who wore them. Great heavy blind bridles, huge collars, massive hames, broad backband and heavy trace-chains for the leaders, immense breeching that literally covered the hind-quarters of the wheel-horses, side-straps full five inches wide for tugs, and large bent-skin housings upon the wethers of each horse, were sufficient to melt anything in the shape of flesh.

The box was much higher at the ends than in the middle and was made of panel work, and so mortised together that the entire weight had to be lifted up in taking it off or putting it on the wagon. Hence it required the united effort of a whole family to handle it. These schooner wagons being about 5 inches wider than the Eastern wagon, they of course never tracked with them, and hence they made a new track, at least on one side. Being very heavy they sank to hard pan in every slough, and when planted they are “solid muldoons.”

These wagons, so dissimilar, each had their advocates for a while, but the superior advantages possessed by the Eastern wagon were so patent that the prairie schooners were abandoned and suffered, like the wonderful one-horse chaise, to tumble to pieces and were never repaired or duplicated.

Carriages and buggies (either open or covered) were unknown to us. Instead of buggy-riding we practiced that far more elegant and invigorating mode of pleasure-riding – horse-back exercise. Our young ladies enjoyed riding on horseback with more genuine pleasure than those of today enjoy the buggy or phaeton. It gave them rosy cheeks and robust constitutions, even though eight yards of calico were sufficient to make a dress for any of them. Our young man deemed it a pleasure to mount his horse of a Sabbath morning and ride 20 miles to escort a young lady 10 miles further to attend meeting. We had no churches or ministers at that time. Divine services were held by our pioneer preachers at private houses all over the country.”

————- to be continued —————–