Friday, December 29, 2006


Spring Creek Series

Richard E. Hart
Springfield, Illinois

Cover photograph: The earliest known photograph of a Springfield African American. This tintype was taken by Springfield photographer Marcel Duboce circa 1860’s. The original is in the collection of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, Illinois.

Lincoln’s Springfield: The Early African American Population of Springfield, Illinois (1818‑1861)
Spring Creek Series.
Copyright 2006 by Richard E. Hart. All rights reserved.
First Printing, April, 2006.

The history of the colored people in Sangamon County, like the sources of the common law, is shrouded in some mystery. The writer is confronted with an embarrassing lack of available data and must draw his material from the memories of such of the older settlers as remain, and to a still larger extent, from their descendants.

W. T. Casey, History of the Colored People of Sangamon County, an inclusion in the 1926 “Directory of Sangamon County’s Colored Citizens.”

There shall be neither Slavery nor involuntary Servitude in the said territory.

Article 6, Northwest Ordinance, 1787.

Many of the well-to-do first immigrants brought with them their slaves, and held them as such, and the relation of master and servant was by common consent recognized.

Zimri Enos

...tho slavery in a modified or indenture form existed in this state under legal sanction, there is no record of its having stained the fair name of Sangamon.

W. T. Casey, History of the Colored People of Sangamon County, an inclusion in the 1926 “Directory of Sangamon County’s Colored Citizens.”

That the benefits which it confers upon the colored race, without injuring the white man, and the blessings which it proposes to dispense to the two Continents in its humane and missionary operations -- the cause of African Colonization is worthy of the entire confidence, and the active, unwearied support of the American Patriot, the Philanthropist, and the Christian.

Resolution of Sangamon County Colonization Society, October 1839.

The Lincoln of 1860 knew the Negro of dialect story, minstrel stage, and sea chantey.

Benjamin Quarles, Lincoln and the Negro, 1962.

Received of Joseph Reavis, three hundred Dollars it being in full for a negro boy named Jack aged about Eight years old. Which negro boy we do warrant to be clear from all impediment and further agree to warrant, and forever defend the right & title of said Jack, to the said Reavis … and from all other claims lawfully claiming the said negro boy Jack, this Eighteenth day of March A. D. 1822.

Henry Kelly Mary Kelly

Receipt of Henry and Mary Kelly upon the sale of Negro Jack, March 18, 1822.

This deponent…says that after John Howard the coroner had levied the execution upon…Nance she saw…Nance in Howards custody confined with chains…Nance became very sick while thus confined, that this deponent…saw Howard the coroner sell…Nance under the execution…Nathan Cromwell became the purchaser after which he asked…Nance if she would go and live with him…Nance refused…Cromwell then told the coroner to take her where he brought her from, and…the coroner tied her & took her back to the old salt house.

Statement of Jane Cox in the Sangamon County habeas corpus suit by Nance, a negro girl vs. Nathan Cromwell, October 6, 1827.

That we cannot regard the “Illinois State Colonization Society,” as a charitable institution, deserving the sympathy and support of the Christian public, or as a public benefit, for the support of which it is the duty of the Legislature to tax the good people of this State, in as much as we are not aware of any benefit which it is calculated to bestow, either upon the State at large or upon the colored people particularly; with all due submission to the superior wisdom of the gentlemen who have organized and who manage the Colonization society, we cannot perceive what benefit it will be to the State of Illinois to remove from it the five or ten thousand laborers composing our colored population. The State needs laborers to cultivate its fields and to perform various other services, and we are both able and willing to work. We also believe that the colored people of this State are, in general, as industrious and inoffensive a population as can anywhere be found. We do not interfere with other people, and only ask that we may be let alone, and simply protected in our “inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as are other citizens of the State. We have no desire to exchange the broad prairies, fertile soil, healthful climate and Christian civilization of Illinois, for the dangerous navigation of the wide ocean, the tangled forests, savage beasts, heathen people and mismatic shores of Africa. We also believe that the operations of the Colonization Society are calculated to excite prejudices against us, and to impel ignorant or ill disposed persons to take measures for our expulsion from the land of our nativity, from our country and from our homes. We, therefore, beg the Legislature and the people of this State, that they will lend no countenance to such a project.

Resolution of a meeting of colored citizens of Springfield held to consider the Liberia question on February 12, 1858.

My interest in the early 19th century history of Springfield African Americans was sparked by a comment whispered to me by Carol Hall at a distant meeting of the Sangamon County Historical Society. As if revealing a dark and closely held secret, Carol confided that some of Springfield’s early white residents were slave owners. I was somewhat skeptical of his revelation, but I recognized that Carol knew far more than I about the early history of Springfield. A short time later my curiosity got the best of me, and I began a search in my home library of Springfield and Sangamon County histories and of the indexes of the Sangamon Valley Collection at Lincoln Library and the Illinois State Historical Library[1] for evidence of slavery in early Springfield. The bits and pieces initially found confirmed Carol’s assertion––there were “slaves” in early Springfield. But even more startling to me was the sad realization that aside from brief references and anecdotes, the histories of Springfield have largely ignored the presence of African Americans in the town’s early life. Their stories were hidden in the shadows of early Springfield history.

I was not the first, however, to recognize the difficulty of finding African American primary sources and to conclude that mystery surrounded the history of Springfield’s early African Americans. In 1926, Springfield African American W. T. Casey wrote the History of the Colored People of Sangamon County, which was printed as an inclusion in the 1926 “Directory of Sangamon County’s Colored Citizens.”
[2] Casey observed that:

“The history of the colored people in Sangamon County, like the sources of the common law, is shrouded in some mystery. The writer is confronted with an embarrassing lack of available data and must draw his material from the memories of such of the older settlers as remain, and to a still larger extent, from their descendants.”

I was challenged by the mystery and I began to dig. I was astounded by what I found.

My examination of contemporary newspapers, correspondence, the reminiscences of early settlers, court and church records, deeds and census data in the period 1818-1862, revealed sufficient evidence to allow one to unequivocally conclude that African Americans were among the very earliest of Springfield’s residents. Their early presence was significant in shaping the culture and community conscience of the infant village of Springfield. It also clearly revealed that they have been largely ignored or overlooked by historians, both past and present.

The slight goes beyond the unjustified omission of the race from Springfield’s historical record, however. Those African Americans who were Springfield residents between 1837 and 1861 were a significant part not only of the town’s life, but of Abraham Lincoln’s life and environment during his twenty-four year residency from April 15, 1837 to February 11, 1861. Lincoln was the friend and neighbor of some, the lawyer for others and the employer of yet others. He was certainly aware that some of his most intimate friends and social, business, professional and political acquaintances possessed African American indentured servants and, in some instances, slaves. Historians have largely ignored, misinterpreted or minimized this aspect of Lincoln’s life and environment.

I would like to share the evidence that I have found and in doing so hopefully stimulate an interest in and appreciation of the contributions of Springfield’s early African Americans. I hope to put to rest some of the myths concerning the history of Springfield’s early African Americans. My paper has four major points:

First, I will present evidence to support the proposition that African Americans were among the very earliest residents of Springfield.

Second, and as a corollary to the first point, I hope to put to rest the oft repeated myth that William Fleurville -- Billy the Barber -- was Springfield’s first African American settler -- arriving here in 1831. Yes, he arrived in 1831, but he was not the first African-American resident of Springfield.

Third, I urge Springfield historians to recognize that there was life in Springfield before Lincoln. Springfield’s history between 1818 and 1837 has taken a back seat to the Lincoln period. There is an abundance of primary material from the earlier period to be uncovered and rediscovered and it should provide a better understanding of the environment Lincoln choose as his home in 1837.

Fourth, I urge all Lincoln scholars who have written of Lincoln’s Springfield years to revisit that period with eyes opened to primary materials and focused on Springfield’s African Americans and Lincoln’s relationships with them. I beg those scholars to reexamine their prior conclusions concerning Lincoln’s Springfield environment and his relationship with its African American residents. Perhaps such a new focus will alter their prior conclusions. But even if it doesn’t, their conclusions should be reached only after a review and study of the wealth of primary materials concerning Springfield African Americans during the Lincoln period.
Here then is a record of the early African American population of Springfield, Illinois – Lincoln’s Springfield.

Richard E. Hart
Springfield, Illinois
February 12, 2005

To better understand African American life in early Springfield, it is helpful to step back and view the larger picture of African American history in early Illinois, both prior to its admission as a state and during its early years of statehood.[4] In the 136 years between 1682 and 1818, the area that is now the State of Illinois[5] was governed successively by France, England and the United States, and the laws and customs of each of those nations contributed to the conditions and characteristics of African American life in early Springfield.
The French Period (1682-1763)

From 1682 to 1763, France possessed and governed the area now known as the State of Illinois and permitted slavery.[6] From these French beginnings, the institution of slavery in the Illinois Country was born.

Canadian Province (1682-1717)

During the first 35 years, 1682 to 1717, the “Illinois Country” was a part of the French Province of Canada. The early French who settled in the Canadian Province brought French laws and customs with them, including those permitting slavery.

Louisiana Province (1717-1763)

From 1717 to 1763, the “Illinois Country” was a part of the French Providence of Louisiana. In 1720, Philippe Francois Renault, agent and manager of the St. Phillips company and the French director of mines, purchased black slaves in Santo Domingo and brought them into the Illinois Country. Some of them were used in Renault’s mining ventures in northwestern Illinois and in Missouri and others were used in the farming operations around the now vanished French village of St. Philippe, one of five distinct settlements made in the Illinois Country before 1730 and located 45 miles south of Cahokia. It was here that Renault established a French colony of white settlers and black slaves from Santo Domingo.[7] These were probably the first blacks in what is now Illinois.

Before returning to France in 1744, Renault sold his black slaves to the inhabitants of the Illinois Country.
[8] Thereafter, priests and even the less affluent French villagers owned slaves, mostly black but some of them captured Indians.

The total number of slaves in the Illinois Country during the French Period appears to have increased very little after Renault’s 1720 import of black slaves from Santo Domingo. The census of 1732 reported 165 black slaves. According to Jesuit mission records, there were only 300 blacks and 60 Indians held as slaves in Illinois in 1750.
[9] If correct, these census reports disprove the oft-repeated tradition that Renault imported 500 black slaves.[10]

In 1763 France ceded the Illinois Country to England bringing to a close the 83 year French Period.
[11] At that time, the Illinois Country had an estimated population of no more than 3,000,[12] including an estimated 900 black slaves, or about 30% of the total population.

The English Period (1763-1778)

English colonial law of 1763 recognized slavery in all of England’s American Colonies, just as it had been recognized in the French Provinces. Nevertheless, the Franco-American slaveholders living in the Illinois Country feared that the change to English governance would alter their continued ownership of black slaves. In an attempt to quell that fear, British General Gage took possession of the Illinois Country in 1765 and issued a proclamation to the “late subjects of France” stating that those who chose to retain their lands and become British subjects would enjoy the same rights and privileges, the same security for their persons and “effects” and liberty of trade, as they had enjoyed as French subjects. This proclamation merely extended the English colonial laws and customs to the inhabitants of the Illinois Country, and continued the legal recognition of slavery.[13]

Gage’s efforts to calm the old French residents was not entirely successful, and between 1763 and 1770, about one-third of the population or about 1,000, including in excess of 300 blacks moved to Spanish controlled territory west of the Mississippi River where slavery was permitted.
[14] By 1770 there were no more than 600 black slaves remaining in the Illinois Country, a 30% loss in seven years.

On the east bank, alarm spread with word that the Illinois country had been turned over to Protestant England. The French assumed that their slaves would be freed, and some went to Ste. Genevieve or back to New Orleans, but La Clede persuaded many of them to cross over to his town (St. Louis). Some floated their houses to the west side. A general exodus of community lea
ders continued for several years.[15]

The County Of Illinois in Virginia (1778-1784)

The thirteen-year English Period came to a close during the American Revolutionary War. On July 4, 1778, Colonel George Rogers Clarke, at the direction of the Governor and Council of Virginia, led an expedition against Fort Gage, the British garrison at Kaskaskia, Illinois, and took the Illinois Country from the English. Due to an exodus of French settlers to St. Louis and Louisiana at that time, the population dropped to about 1,000 white settlers and 1,000 blacks and Indians.[16]

The following October, Virginia established the Illinois Country as a Virginia county known as the County of Illinois, and it remained such until March 1, 1784.
[17] “It embraced all of that part of Virginia west of the Ohio River, and was probably the largest county in the world, exceeding in dimensions the whole of Great Britain and Ireland and embracing the territory now included in the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan.”[18]

On December 12, 1778, Virginia Governor Patrick Henry appointed John Todd of Lexington, Kentucky civil commandant and Lieutenant Colonel of the County of Illinois. Todd established the county seat of government at Kaskaskia,
[19] and was in fact, although not in name, the first Governor of Illinois.[20]

Kaskaskia Village lies on the S.W. bank of the river of the same name, and 12 miles from its mouth, but not half that distance from the Mississippi. It contains 80 houses, many of them well built; several of stone, with gardens, and large lots adjoining. About 20 years ago (1778) it contained about 500
whites, and between 4 and 500 negroes. The former have large flocks of black cattle, swine, etc.[21]

On March 1, 1784, Virginia ceded all of its territory north of the Ohio River, including the County of Illinois, to the United States of America, expressly stipulating in the cession that the “rights and liberties” of the Franco-Americans would be protected (i.e. slavery would be permitted).[22]

The United States accepted the Virginia cession with the slavery stipulation and established a form of government that permitted slavery. This form of government continued until the passage of the Northwest Ordinance in 1787.



Slavery was permitted in the Illinois Country during the 108 years it was governed successively by France, England, Virginia and the United States of America prior to the passage of the Northwest Ordinance in 1787. Prior to 1787, slavery had a long history and was firmly established in the Illinois Country.

The Northwest Territory (1787-1799)
The Northwest Ordinance

The most significant event in the African American history of the Illinois Country occurred on July 13, 1787.[24] On that date, Congress adopted the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, Article 6 of which provided that:

“There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted; provided always, that any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the original states, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person claiming his or her service as aforesaid.”

Article 6 of the Northwest Ordinance was in direct contradiction to the established customs and practices of many of the residents of the Illinois Country. Many of them opposed the provision and hoped to subvert Article 6 until the law could be repealed.[25] The more influential of these early residents, including the old French inhabitants, strongly favored the repeal or at least the suspension of the anti-slavery Article 6,[26] but that never occurred. Instead, for the next fifty years, Article 6 was successfully sidestepped so that slavery in disguise continued in the Illinois Country.

Arthur St. Clair, the first Governor of the Northwest Territory was pro-slavery and the first to sidestep Article 6. In February of 1790, he visited Kaskaskia and found its French residents continuing to live by their old French laws and customs, including the possession of slaves.
[27] In 1793 St. Clair accommodated these French slave owners and his own pro-slavery preference by interpreting Article 6 as applying only prospectively.[28] He held that additional slaves could not be brought into the Northwest Territory, but those who were held as slaves prior to 1787 would remain slaves. The St. Clair interpretation was accepted by the residents and courts of the Northwest Territory, and the French were allowed to continue possessing their slaves despite the provisions of Article 6.

The St. Clair interpretation did not permit the importation of slaves from a slave state into the Northwest Territory. This would have encouraged emigration to the Northwest Territory by slaveholders and their slaves from the slave states and territories. In order to address this problem, a second sidestep of Article 6 was devised -- a system of African American servitude called “voluntary servitude.” The contrived system played with the words of Article 6, which prohibited slavery and “involuntary servitude.” African American slaves brought into what became Illinois and Indiana were “requested” to enter into contracts of service with individuals, overwhelmingly white males, who in essence became their masters.
[29] Each contract was called an indenture, and rather than being called “slaves,” the African Americans were called “indentured servants.” Males could be indentured until age 35, and females until age 32. Children born to African Americans during their period of service could also be indentured to serve. Boys could be indentured until age 30, and girls until age 28. This system of “voluntary servitude” was deemed not to be prohibited by Article 6[30] and established a precedent that resulted in the continuation of de facto slavery or “voluntary servitude” in Illinois for half a century thereafter.[31]

In 1796, residents of St. Clair and Randolph Counties petitioned Congress to repeal or alter Article 6 for a limited period of time and suggested that a law be made permitting the introduction of slaves as servants for life and providing that the servants’ children should serve their masters. A Congressional committee reported adversely on the petition.

In 1800, a second petition requested a limited form of slavery allowing the admission of slaves into Illinois Country where they could remain bondsmen until death, but their children would be freed—males at age 31 and females at age 25. Congress took no action on the petition.

The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 prompted pro-slavery leaders in the Illinois Country to petition Congress requesting that the Illinois Territory be annexed to the Louisiana Territory. In 1805 and 1806 petitions from the Illinois Country and in 1807 by the Legislature of the Indiana Territory requested Congress to amend or suspend Article 6 so as to permit slavery. The petitions met with Congressional failure.

The County of Illinois in the Territory of Indiana (1800-1809)

In 1802, William Henry Harrison succeeded St. Clair as governor. Harrison continued St. Clair’s interpretation of Article 6. In November of 1802, Harrison called a special convention which resolved that Article 6 should be suspended for 10 years, that slaves introduced into the Territory should remain bondsmen for life and that their children might be emancipated at adulthood. The resolution was delivered to Congress and was considered by several committees, but it never reached the floor of Congress.[34]

In 1802, Congress partitioned the Northwest Territory and established the western part, including the Illinois Country, as the Territory of Indiana. William Henry Harrison was named its governor.

In 1803 the Indiana Territorial legislature, constituting of Harrison and the judges of his court, passed “A Law Concerning Servants,” commonly known as the “slave or black code.” The code was copied from the codes of Kentucky and Virginia, and provided that a person who came into the Territory of Indiana from another state of the Union under a contract to serve another in any trade or occupation was required to specifically perform the contract during its term.
[36] It elaborately defined the relationship between masters and servants. Masters were to provide sufficient food, clothing and lodging and servants found guilty of laziness, disorderly conduct, misbehavior or refusing to work were to be corrected with stripes.[37] The 1803 “black code” was the legal origin of the voluntary or indenture system.

In 1805, the Indiana Territorial legislature extended the 1803 law to permit the importation of slaves into the territory where they were allowed to be indentured before a clerk of the court for a definite period. Any slaveholder whose bondsman refused to comply with the indenture law within fifteen days of coming into Indiana was required by law to leave Indiana. The terms of service for slaves under the age of fifteen could be held to labor without their consent until males reached the age of 35 and females 32. Children of “indentured” slaves, were required to serve their parents’ masters well into adulthood.

An 1806 law established a rigorous code of behavior for servants and slaves.

In 1807, the Indiana Territorial Legislature adopted statutes recognizing the legality of the voluntary servitude system.
[39] Within thirty days of being brought into the Indiana Territory, slaves were to be brought to the Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas office where they and their master would formally record the indenture or contract of service between the slave and the master. If the slave refused to consent to the indenture, the master had the right to remove the slave to a state or territory where slavery was legal. If the slave consented to the indenture, he or she had “voluntarily” agreed to servitude. A slave’s decision to “voluntarily” enter into the contract was a choice between either remaining a slave for life and returning to absolute slavery from whence he or she came or entering into the contract for service for a term of years. The terms “slave” and “involuntary servitude” were avoided and instead the term “servant” was used in order to comply with the prohibition of slavery contained in Article 6 of the Northwest Ordinance. The process was sanctioned by law and given legal recognition and force by filing a copy of the indenture with the Court. It was this system, with variations, which prevailed in Illinois from 1807 until the Civil War. There are numerous Springfield examples.

The Territory of Illinois (1809-1818)

On February 3, 1809, Congress carved out the Illinois Country from the Indiana Territory and organized it as the Illinois Territory.

[40] At that time, there were three categories of African Americans living in the Illinois Country, namely: French black slaves, indentured blacks under the voluntary servitude system and free blacks.

Illinois’ pro-slavery advocates quickly prepared what is known as the “Indenture Law,” a copy of the Indiana law, thereby continuing the legal legitimacy of the voluntary servitude system.
[41] This was one of the first acts declared to be the law of Illinois by Illinois Territorial Governor Ninian Edwards and the Judges.[42]

An Act Relating toThe Introduction Of Negroes And Mulattos Into The Territory

In 1812, the Indenture Law was re-enacted by the first Illinois Territorial Legislature, and was entitled, “An Act relating to the Introduction of Negroes and Mulattos into the Territory”. The Act allowed one to bring slaves over 15 years old into Illinois, on the condition that they be registered. They then could be held in bondage or “voluntary servitude” until they reached the age of 35, if males, and 30, if females. The children of registered female slaves were born with the saddle of being the slave or indentured servant of their mother’s master until the age of 30 or 28, according to sex. As a result of the Indenture Law, the number of slaves or “indentured servants” in Illinois rapidly increased.[43] The 1810 federal Census of Illinois listed 129 slaves and 500 indentured servants.[44] The 1820 Census gave the number of slaves/indentured servants as 917 and of free African Americans as 457.[45] In that ten year period, the number of slaves/indentured servants increased by 288 or 45.7%.

Robert Pulliam’s Indenture of Adam, a Black Man

On June 21, 1816, Robert Pulliam registered his indenture of Adam, a 21 year-old black man, in Madison County, Illinois. The indenture was for a period of 36 years. Adam was to be free in 1852.

On December 8, 1817, Mrs. Francis Pulliam registered her indenture of Dilsey, a 24 year-old black woman. The indenture was registered in Madison County, Illinois, and was for a period of 99 years.

December 10, 1817, Charles R. Matheny Introduces Bill to Repeal Indenture Law of 1814

In …[1817], [Charles R.] Matheny of St. Clair [County] introduced a bill to repeal the indenture law of 1814; the preamble to Matheny’s bill declared that the 1814 act had violated the paramount law of the land, the Ordinance of 1787. Significantly, he chose to introduce the bill on December 10, 1817, only a single day before the memorial requesting statehood was passed by the Territorial legislature. Matheny’s goal was clearly to secure the repeal of the indenture law before Illinois achieved statehood. The proposed legislation provoked a heated discussion among the representatives who finally decided to lay the bill on the table until the following day.

The brief cooling off period, however, did little to dissipate the heat of the tenth. On December 11, Matheny’s colleague from St. Clair County, Bradsby, ridiculed the provision of the indenture law which required the “voluntary consent” of a bondsman before he could be “indentured” in Illinois, arguing that a master could easily coerce a slave to accept servitude in Illinois by threatening sale to the South. Bradsby then offered what he considered to be another powerful objection to the indenture law. “I wish,” he declared, “to prevent that accumulation of free people of color, which must result from this cobweb of legislation.” The Speaker of the House, Dr. Fisher, rose to disagree with the two gentlemen from St. Clair. The Doctor claimed that Illinois had been “much benefited by the introduction of negroes” while their situation had been “much ameliorated” by the indenture system. It would be unwise, he warned, “to infuse their anxiety for freedom, by repealing this law.” Though the 1814 law rendered servants under contract “restless,” he observed that the law ensured the “rights” of masters who had immigrated to Illinois under the belief that the indenture of their bondsmen was constitutional. Fisher concluded that if the law really were unconstitutional as Bradsby and Matheny claimed there was no need to repeal it. The Speaker of the House, however, was unable to save the day for the proslavery men of Illinois; apparently, the opposition had gained control of both houses of the legislature. The repeal bill passed the House and the Legislative Council, though in the latter by the narrow margin of three to two. According to the provisions of territorial government in the Northwest, it was then sent to Governor Ninian Edwards for his approval.
[47] Governor Edwards vetoed the bill.

Early Statehood (1818-1824)
The Constitution of 1818 Recognizes Modified Voluntary Servitude System

Illinois was admitted as a state of the Union on December 3, 1818. Earlier that year, the delegates to its Constitutional Convention divided over the issue of slavery: some opposed slavery in any form, some were in favor of slavery in its absolute form and some favored a middle course--that is, the existing voluntary servitude or indenture system.[48] The middle course prevailed and was incorporated into the Constitution of 1818, which drew a distinction between slavery and voluntary servitude.[49] It provided that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude should “hereafter” be introduced into Illinois unless as a punishment for crimes. The “voluntary” servitude system, however, was fully recognized.

Each and every person who has been bound to service by contract or indenture, in virtue of the laws of Illinois Territory, heretofore existing, and in conformity to the provisions of the same, without fraud or collusion, shall be held to a specific performance of their contract or indentures, and such negroes and mulattos as have been registered in conformity with the aforesaid laws, shall serve out the time appointed by said laws; provided, however, that the children hereafter born of such persons, negroes or mulattos, shall become free, the males at the age of twenty-one years, the females at the age of eighteen years. Each and every child born of indentured parents shall be entered with the clerk of the county in which they reside by their owners within six months after the birth of said child.

The Constitution did not affect the terms of service of slaves or indentured servants already under a contract or indenture of service. Existing relationships between master and slave or servant were protected, but no further relationships were to be contracted
[51] and indentured servants were required to fulfill their contracts strictly.[52] The practice of indenturing continued and in some instances the constitutional provision prohibiting slavery was simply ignored.[53]

The Constitution lowered the age of required manumission from 35 to 21 for males and 32 to 18 for females. Subsequent modifications in the “voluntary servitude system” shortened the permitted term of indentured service for a man to one year, and for children of indentured slaves to no longer than age 21 for boys and age 18 for girls.

Although the Constitution of 1818 barred slavery from Illinois in the future, it expressed no present intent to abolish slavery and the French African American slaves who were in the territory prior to the admission of Illinois into the Union remained slaves. Some historians believe that it was only because of the requirement of the Congressional Enabling Act that the convention enacted the provision that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall hereafter be introduced into this state.”
[54] The 1818 Illinois Constitution was approved by Congress.

As soon as Illinois was admitted as a state of the Union, a number of its citizens began agitating for a convention to repeal or soften the non-slavery article in the 1818 Constitution.

1819 The Black Laws

In March of 1819, Illinois’ first Legislative session re-enacted the “Black Laws” which had been in force in the Illinois Territory and which had been copied largely from the slave codes of Kentucky and Virginia. They were amended several times thereafter and existed until February 7, 1865. Under these laws, an African American, free or slave, was practically without legal protection. The objective of the Black Laws was to force all Illinois African Americans, other than French African American slaves, into the voluntary servitude system by making a free African American’s condition more deplorable than that of a French African American slave or an indentured servant.

A free African American could not become a resident of Illinois unless he had proof of his freedom in the form of a “certificate of freedom” from a court of record. Without such a certificate, the African American could be arrested, imprisoned and sold to service by the county sheriff for a period of one year. But even though certified as “free,” he still could not bring suit, testify in court when a white person was concerned, vote or travel, except in very restricted areas. If he sought employment, he was in constant danger of being kidnapped by the desperadoes who infested the country and sold “down the river.” In short, the free African American did not have the security of his master’s house and was an outcast who could be hunted down and by force or fraud deprived of his freedom.

In contrast to the “free” African Americn, the slave or indentured servant had a master and a home. If found away from home, he was publicly whipped. He might be sold upon execution or mortgaged to pay or secure his master’s debt, and upon his master’s death, he passed to the administrator or executor of the master, along with the master’s horses and mules.
[56] But, an African American who had a master—either as a slave or an indentured servant—had the security of a home. Thus, the choice between being a “free” African American or an indentured servant under the “voluntary system” was not a difficult one for most Illinois African Americans.


The first settlement in Illinois by American population was made in the southern part of the State by immigrants, almost exclusively from the slave states, and extended gradually north to the middle of the State.[57]

In 1818, the future site of Springfield was at the center of a vast prairie that stretched across Central Illinois. The expanse was broken only by rivers and streams and an occasional island of trees. Scouting parties and Rangers had passed through the area in the past, but other than that, few whites had disturbed the hunting and gathering grounds of the Native American Kickapoo. This was about to be changed by an invasion of two main streams of population. The first stream was nomadic, young—mostly in their mid-twenties—first or second generation, upland white Southerners from Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and the Carolinas—and a later second stream was from New York and New England.

The first stream of Southerners had little need and no desire for a settled or socially structured society. They moved easily and often, being almost generationally nomadic. They were independent, adventurous, risk taking and self-confident. These earliest Springfield settlers brought little with them other than the customs and practices of their prior Southern life, which in a few instances included the ownership or possession of African American slaves. From Springfield’s beginning, African Americans were a part of the community’s life.

The upland Southern culture transplanted well to early Springfield and established the village’s early vision and treatment of African American residents. The first whites moving from Southern slave states north and west into the central Illinois frontier adapted to the “voluntary servitude system,” the Illinois equivalent of slavery. An examination of these earliest white Springfield residents is helpful in understanding the village’s early culture and mores, particularly those relating to its African American residents.


The First of the Southern Arrivals: Elisha Kelly and The Beginning of Kelly Settlement on Spring Creek

Springfield’s founding family—the Kelly’s—originated in the western North Carolina county of Rutherford, an upland Southern community in the Appalachian Mountains, where slavery was recognized in its absolute form. The 1810 United States Census of that county lists Henry Kelly, the patriarch of the family, as the owner of at least three slaves.[58]

Illinois In 1818 Showing Population Density, Indians And Roads

Henry Kelly’s son, Elisha, is conventionally attributed to have been Springfield’s first white settler.

[59] In 1817 at the age of 20, Elisha left his home in Rutherford County, North Carolina and traveled to what was then Madison County, Illinois and is now Macoupin County. He stayed there for a short time[60] and in the early spring of 1818, moved north to what is now Springfield. He settled in a wilderness on the banks of Spring Creek where he built a log cabin at approximately Fourth and Miller Streets. He then returned to North Carolina to persuade other family members to join him. Within the next few years, his father and mother, two sisters, four brothers and their families—and slaves—joined him on Spring Creek.[61] Within a short time, six other families joined what became known as the “Kelly Settlement” and within a year nine cabins stood along Spring Creek.[62]

The 1818 Census
According to the 1818 Census, Illinois’ population of 40,00 included 326 “free persons of color” and 847 “servants or slaves.” African Americans constituted 3% of the total population.[63]

Illinois Admitted as a State of the Union

On December 3, 1818, Illinois was admitted as a state of the Union.


Arrival of John and Mary Whitesides Kelly and Family

In the Spring of 1819, [64] John Kelly, Elisha’s 36 year-old brother, and his wife, Mary Whitesides, and five children arrived at the Kelly Settlement. John built a double log cabin at the northwest corner of what is now Jefferson and Klein Streets, the present site of the Illinois Department of Revenue Building (Willard Ice Building).[65]
Springfield’s First African American: Arrival of Henry and Mary Kelly and Negro Jack
In the fall of 1819, Elisha and John’s 78 year-old father, Henry Kelly,
[66] and mother, Mary, and two brothers, Elijah, age 32,[67] and William, age __, and his wife, Dicey Ann Cook, and _____ children, _____, _____,[68] arrived at the Kelly Settlement and lived with John Kelly in his new cabin.[69] As noted earlier, Henry Kelly was a slave owner in Rutherford County, North Carolina, and it is probable that Henry and Mary brought at least one of their slaves with them to Springfield. Evidence for this conclusion appears in March of 1822, when Henry and Mary Kelly sold “Negro Jack” to Joseph Reavis. In 1818, Negro Jack would have been five years old and he was probably Springfield’s first African American resident.[70]

Arrival of Andrew Elliott and Family

Also arriving by wagon in the fall of 1819 from Rutherford County, North Carolina were 27 year-old Andrew Elliott[71] and his 22 year-old wife, Zilpha H. Kelly,[72] the daughter of William and Dicey Ann Cook Kelly, whom Andrew had married in Rutherford County, North Carolina. They brought their two children, Elizabeth M., age 4, and Sarah M., age 1. Andrew had been a soldier in the War of 1812. Upon arriving, Andrew ‘tented” and camped for a while in the area bounded by present day North Grand Avenue on the north, Walnut on the west, near Calhoun on the south and the section line east of First Street on the east, near what is now the entrance to Monument Avenue (Third and Rutledge).

Arrival of John Taylor Family At Sugar Creek

In 1819, John Taylor and his family moved to Sugar Creek in what is now Ball Township, Sangamon County. John was born in Danville, Kentucky. When a young man, he came to Madison County, Illinois, and married Elizabeth Burkhead, who was born near Charleston, South Carolina. They moved to Kentucky, and had three children there, and then moved to Edwardsville, Illinois, where they had one child. In 1822, the family moved to Springfield.[73]

Illinois’ 1819 Black Code

The “black code” of 1819 provided for the right control of black-bondsmen, subjecting those who were disorderly or disobedient to punishment by stripes. The 1819 statute failed to protect the basic human rights of slaves: families could be separated, marriages violated and black women sexually exploited with impunity. Though the laws did provide for the punishment of masters who “mistreated” slaves, the likelihood of enforcement was remote.


Arrival of Eleanor and Joseph Reavis, Sally and ____ Greenwalt and Six Slaves

Circa 1820, Henry and Mary Kelly’s two daughters, Eleanor, who married in North Carolina to Joseph Reavis, and Sally, who married ________ Greenwalt, arrived in Springfield with their six slaves. They remained in Springfield for less than thirty days and then moved on to Missouri where slavery was permitted.

The daughters had three slaves, each; and, after tarrying less than thirty days in Sangamon county, moved on to Missouri. …the sisters halted here on their way to Missouri, where they went because they could not keep their slaves in Illinois

In 1820, the Illinois Black Laws required that slaves brought into Illinois be registered as indentured servants within thirty days. It was perhaps in order to avoid this registration requirement that the daughters stayed “less than thirty days.” Why didn’t they register the slaves as “indentured servants?” Did they take Henry Kelly’s Negro Jack with them to Missouri

Power of Attorney to Sell Three “Negroes”

Henry Reaves
Joseph Reaves

Date Feb. 22, 1820 Power of Attorney

Sell & dispose of 3 Negroes (to wit) a girl named Alse 19 years old—a boy named Jack aged 6 & a girl named Doll aged 3 years so to make a good & lawful bill of sale in my name for use of purchasers for ready money on such Credit with sufficient security as the said Reaves shall adjudge to be good & solid. If said Negroes should die or any if them occasionally or accidently the said Reaves neglected etc. & if said Reaves should see cause to keep the negroes he is at liberty to do so but if said Reaves should keep any or all of this bound to pay me $1000 in Silver & these shall be sufficient authority to do accordingly

Acknowledged March 9, 1822
Recorded March 9, 1822.

Arrival of Edward Voluntine and Stephen Stillman and Family

In the spring of 1820, Stephen Stillman, who was born in Massachusetts, his mother, Abigail Bennett Stillman the widow of Benjamin Stillman, his brothers, Dr. Joseph Bennett, born in Massachusetts in 1779 and a physician,
[77] and Isaiah,[78] and probably a 15 year-old African American man, Edward Voluntine, settled one and a half miles west of Williamsville in Sangamon County, Illinois.[79] Stephen was listed in the 1820 United States Census, but not in the Illinois Census taken in August of the same year.[80]

Stephen Stillman served in the War of 1812. He gave the name of Fancy Grove and Fancy Creek to those natural features of north Sangamon, names which they still bear. When the first post office north of the Sangamon River was established at Williamsville, in _______, Stephen was made postmaster. In 1822, he was also the first state Senator elected from Sangamon County. He was an anti-convention advocate and an ally of Governor Coles. He sat upon the grand jury which indicted Nathaniel Vannoy for homicide. Vannoy was executed on November 20, 1826, the earliest instance of capital punishment in the county. Stephen was 1st Master of Masonic Lodge in Sangamon County, Illinois. Stephen was unmarried. He died in Peoria between 1835 and 1840.

The Forgotten Settlement At Fancy Grove
By Curtis Mann

One of the earliest but least known settlements in Sangamon County was the community of Fancy Grove. Located along the headwaters of Fancy Creek in modern-day Williams Township about three miles southwest of the village of Williamsville, Fancy Grove was unique in that most of its residents consisted of families from the state of New York. One of its residents, Stephen Stillman, is credited with giving the Grove its name as well as Fancy Creek. Stillman bought the southeast quarter of Section 8 in which a grove of trees stood. Rather than being a platted town or village, Fancy Grove was a collection of farms located across four adjoining sections of land, 7, 8, 17 and 18. The Stillman family consisting of the mother, Abigail, along with her sons, Stephen, Isaiah and a daughter arrived in Sangamon County in the spring of 1820 when it was a part of Madison County. James Stewart, who was married to Roxanna Stillman, arrived in Sangamon County in 1819 but joined the Stillmans upon their arrival. Another large family from New York, the Phelps, also arrived in Fancy Grove in 1820. Judge Stephen Phelps had served as a judge in his native state and migrated west with his sons and daughters to the Illinois frontier. One son, Alexis, purchased land in Section 20, just south of the Grove. The last family group consisted of three men who were related through marriage, Charles Boyd, John Dixon and Oliver Kellogg. Boyd and Kellogg were married to sisters of John Dixon and Dixon was married to a sister of Boyd’s. Charles Boyd and John Dixon were tailors in New York City who struck out for Illinois in 1820.

A few businesses along with a post office were established in the early 1820s. William Hamilton and Enoch March brought in a load of store goods in 1821 and sold them to Myron Phelps in 1822. Phelps ran the store for a few years. Matthew Harburt built a horse mill (A horse mill was an early type of mill used to grind corn into meal and sometimes wheat into flour. The owner of the mill would take a percentage of the ground corn as his fee. The customers often had to supply their own horses which were used to turn the grindstones. Most of the early horse mills were rude affairs put together by individuals using stones that happened to be in the area. The output of these mills was slow and sometimes a person had to wait a day or more to get his turn at the mill.) and a cabin for customers to stay in while waiting their turn at the mill. William Proctor, a son-in-law of Judge Phelps, built a tannery. The post office, which was known as Fancy Grove, was conducted in the home of Stephen Stillman, who served as postmaster.

For no particular reason, the community began to break up around 1825. The Phelps family moved across the Illinois River and settled in Lewiston. Many members of the Stillman family relocated to Peoria along with John Dixon who served as the first county clerk for Peoria County. Dixon later bought a ferry and founded the town of Dixon. Charles Boyd and Oliver Kellogg also moved north and settled in other parts of the state.

Matthew Harburt took down his mill and moved it into McLean County. Some members such as James Stewart remained and farmed the land for many years afterward.

First Record of Sylvania White, a Black Girl

On April 30, 1820, William and Elizabeth Archer and their family arrived in what is now Curran Township, Sangamon County.
[82] Six years later, William signed a document which freed a “Black girl” named Sylvania White, who had been bound to him by virtue of claim under the register laws of the “late Territory of Illinois.”[83] One can presume that in 1820, 14 year-old Sylvania came with the family to Curran Township.

Negro Jack, the six unnamed Kelly sister slaves, Edward Voluntine and Sylvania White were Springfield and Sangamon County’s first African American residents.

The 1820 United States Census
The 1820 United States Census of Illinois listed 1,512 “free persons of color” and 668 “servants” or “slaves.” Madison County then encompassed what is now Sangamon County, and the census of that county, taken in August, listed 45 free persons of color and 96 servants or slaves. No free colored person, servant or slave was listed in the census for the area where Springfield now stands.

Sangamon County Established

On January 30, 1821, the Illinois General Assembly established Sangamon County, carving it from a part of Madison and Bond Counties. In addition to present Sangamon County, it included all of what are now Logan, Mason, Cass, Tazwell and parts of Putnam, Marshall, Woodford, McLean, and Christian Counties.

Map of the State of Illinois Showing the Boundaries of Sangamon County in 1821

Sangamon County Government Organized

On April 2, 1821, Sangamon County’s first election was held at John Kelly’s double log cabin at what is now the northwest corner of Jefferson and Klein Streets. Three Sangamon County commissioners, William Drennan, Zachariah Peter and Rivers McCormick (Cormack), were elected and met the next day at John Kelly’s to begin discharging their duties.

On April 10, 1821, Stephen Stillman was named a justice of the peace.
[86] Edward Voluntine, a 16 year-old African American, was living with him.
On Monday, May 7, 1821, the first term of the Sangamon County Circuit Court was held at John Kelly’s house. The presiding judge was John Reynolds, the Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court and later its Governor and historian.

Sangamon County Seat Selected and Named Springfield

In June of 1821, the Sangamon County seat was selected and named Springfield,
[88] and John Kelly was hired to build a new court house at what is now the northwest corner of Second and Jefferson Streets. By June 4, John had completed the new court house and the Court moved from his cabin to the new facility.[89] For the first time the county was called “Sangamon” County, the name of “Sangamo” being changed by adding the letter “n”.
“Prior to 1831, the town centered about the small square at Second and Jefferson streets, where Iles’ store and the first court house were located. The present square was on the fringe of settlement.”….”

Sangamon County’s First Court House Constructed in 1821 at the Northwest Corner of Second and Jefferson Streets

Arrival of Charles R. Matheny

In the spring of 1821, Charles R. Matheny moved from St. Clair County, Illinois to Springfield, having been appointed county clerk, county auditor and circuit clerk and given “some other prospective advantages.”[91]

Arrival of Elijah Iles

In June of 1821, Elijah Iles, a 25 year-old Kentuckian who had lived and been a successful land speculator in Missouri, arrived in Springfield and boarded with 38 year-old John Kelly at his double log cabin at what is now the northwest corner of Jefferson and Klein Streets.

I first boarded with John Kelly, a North Carolinian and a widower. His household consisted of himself and two children, two younger brothers (George and Elisha), his aged father and mother, and myself. The board to my notion, has never been excelled.

Elijah, one of the four original proprietors of Springfield, is conventionally known as Springfield’s founder.

Elijah Iles Raised by “Aunt Milly,” a Negro Woman

Elijah Iles’s mother died in 1802 when he was six, and he and his brother William were raised in large part by an African American woman, “Aunt Milly.”

My mother died in 1802, leaving five children... Polly, Elijah, William, and Betsy--the youngest being 8 days old We were in a bad fix...but my Aunt Crocket...took myself and brother William until my father visited his sister at Winchester, Virginia, and bought and brought home a negro woman, and myself and William were taken home and put under her charge and care; we were taught to call her Aunt Milly, and to obey her; she proved to be a good woman.

After living eight years (1802-1810) a widower, my father married the widow Wheeler, with two children... and soon after bought mill property and moved to Licking river, leaving myself (age 14), the black woman, and a negro man to carry on the farm.

Militia Election Held at John Taylor’s House on Sugar Creek

On June 23, 1821, a Militia Election was held at John Taylor’s farm house on Sugar Creek.
In one of their first acts, the Sangamon commissioners divided the county into two “battalions,” each with two districts, and called for the organization of companies and the election of officers. One district, they decreed in 1821, “shall include from Mathew Eades including Sugar Creek to source and Lick fork to source and that an election shall be held in said district on Twenty third Instant at the House of John Taylor on Sugar Creek…” Taylor, the newly appointed county sheriff, lived on a farm in the center of this large district, and each of the “superintendents” came from a different neighborhood. On June 23, 1821, forty-seven Sugar Creek heads of household assembled on Taylor’s farm for the first of many quarterly militia “musters.”

Upland Southern Culture of Early Springfield

The Southerners–the Kelly’s, the Elliot’s, the Taylor’s, the Iles’ and those who shortly followed them–were significant contributors to Springfield’s early African American history. They were the first to transplant upland Southern values and customs, including slave ownership, to Springfield. They were representative of one of two principal migratory and cultural patterns which established the customs and practices which defined African American life in early Springfield and Sangamon County. It is most likely that a five year-old African American boy, Negro Jack arrived with Henry Kelly and his family in the fall of 1819, and that Negro Jack was Springfield’s first African American resident and the first African American in Springfield to be held as the property of another person--a slave. It was from this Southern mold that early Springfield developed.

The New England Strain

A second cultural strain was also present in early Springfield—the New England strain. The early New England settlers represented another pattern of migration, customs and practices, but they entered a stage already set by the early history of Illinois and the early Southern settlers at Springfield. While some of the New Englanders were active in attempting to bring about change in the existing Southern order, others acquired and acquiesced or participated in the customs and practices of the Southern culture.

Arrival of Erastus Wright(1779-1870)
On November 21, 1821, forty-two year-old Erastus Wright, a native of Bernarstown, Massachusetts, arrived in Springfield. Erastus was of the New England strain, perhaps the quintessential Springfield New Englander. He was Springfield’s second teacher and one of its early abolitionists.

Early Abolitionist Louis Laughlin Arrives in Ball Township
In 1821, Louis Laughlin with his family settled on Section 29, in Ball Township, where they remained about 15 years and then moved to Wisconsin. Louis Laughlin was one of the first persons in Sangamon County to advocate the abolition of slavery.

[1] Now the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, Illinois.
[2] W. T. Casey is listed in the 1926 Directory of Sangamon County’s Colored Citizens as living at North Side Greenhouse, 1211 E. Madison, Springfield, Illinois.
[3] “History of the Colored People in Sangamon County,” in Directory of Sangamon County’s Colored Citizens, W.T. Casey, (Springfield, Ill: Springfield Directory Co., 1926). (Hereinafter “Casey.”)
[4] There are a number of very fine studies which examine ante-bellum Illinois African American history in general and African American servitude in particular. A number are referenced in the Bibliography.
[5] Hereinafter, what is now the State of Illinois will sometimes be referred to as the “Illinois Country.”
[6] Slavery or Involuntary Servitude in Illinois Prior To and After Its Admission as a State, O. W. Aldrich, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Vol. 9, No. 2, July, 1916, p 117. (Hereinafter “Aldrich.”) Slavery was officially sanctioned by a 1615 edict of Louis XIII of France. In 1724, Louis XV reconfirmed French recognition of slavery in an ordinance that re-enacted Louis XIII’s 1615 edict and regulated the government and administrations of justice, policies, discipline and traffic in black slaves in the Province of Louisiana.
[7] Aldrich, p. 117. History of Sangamon County, Illinois, Inter-State Publishing Company, Chicago, 1881, p. 23. (Hereinafter “1881 History.”) Slavery and Negro Servitude in Pope County, John W. Allen, An Illinois Reader, Clyde C. Walton, editor, Northern Illinois University Press, 1970. (Hereinafter “Allen.”)
[8] Aldrich, p. 117.
[9] Allen, p. 104.
[10] The Illinois Country, 1673-1818, Clarence W. Alvord, Centennial History of Illinois, Springfield, Illinois, 1920, pp. 320-360. (Hereinafter “Alvord.”)
[11] This was a provision of the Treaty of Paris made at the conclusion of the French and Indian War, the Anglo-French battle for control of what became the Northwest Territory.
[12] Early Settlers of Sangamon County, John Carroll Power, Springfield, Illinois, 1876, p. 26. (Hereinafter “Power.”)
[13] Aldrich, p. 118.
[14] Power, p. 26
[15] Illinois, a History of the Prairie State, Robert P. Howard, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972, p. 44. (Hereinafter “Howard.”)
[16] Servants and Slave Records of St. Clair County and Colonial French Illinois 1720-1863 An Index and Quantitative Study, David E. Richards, Secretary of State Fellow, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, Illinois, April 1991. Servitude and Emancipation Records, 1722–1863, An Index, Compiled by the Illinois State Archives. (Hereinafter “Richards.”)
[17] 1881 History, pp. 24-25. Illinois County contained the territory now embraced in the States of Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. Alvord, pp. 320-360.
[18] Power, p. 27.
[19] Kaskaskia for many years was the largest town west of the Allegheny Mountains. It was a tolerable place before the existence of Pittsburgh, Cincinnati or New Orleans. Power, p. 26.
[20] Power, pp. 27 and 715. John’s brother, Levi Todd, was the grandfather of Robert T. Stuart, Mrs. Ninian Edwards, Mrs. Dr. William S. Wallace, Mrs. C. M. Smith and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, all early Springfield residents.
[21] An Abridgment of the American Gazetteer, Jedidiah Morse, D. D., Thomas and Andrews, Boston, 1798, p. 191. (Hereinafter “American Gazetteer.”)
[22] Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Sangamon County, vol. 1, Newton Bateman and Paul Selby, editors, Chicago, Munsell Publishing Company, 1912, p. 482. (Hereinafter “1912 History.”)
[23] Aldrich, pp. 118-119.
[24] Power, p. 29.
[25] The Free Negro Question: Race Relations in Ant-Bellum Illinois, 1801-1860, Charles N. Zucker, Disertation Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy, Field of History, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, August, 1972, University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Michigan, pp. 27-28. (Hereinafter “Zucker.”)
[26] Illinois in 1818, Sloan Buck, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1967, p. 183. (Hereinafter “Buck.”)
[27] Many of the more wealthy French had moved across the Mississippi into Spanish territory because they understood that the Northwest Ordinance prohibited slavery.
[28] Zucker, p. 29.
[29] Aldrich, pp. 121-122.
[30] Indentured servitude was not a new concept conjured up by the leaders of the Northwest Territory. It was a well-established part of Eighteenth Century American life. As early as 1685, nearly half of the adult white males arriving in Pennsylvania were indentured servants. By 1697, and the transport of humans from England to America for placement as indentured servants was a common occurrence. Servant ships sailed for America from every important port in the British Isles. It was easy to transfer the rules and practices of the existing institution of indentured servants to the institution of slavery, thereby making slavery acceptable in the form and under the name of “indentured servitude.”
[31] Buck, p.182.
[32] Zucker, pp. 29-30.
[33] Zucker, pp. 30-31.
[34] Zucker, pp. 31-33.
[35] Buck, p. 183. Power, p. 29.
[36] Buck, p. 185.
[37] Zucker, pp. 33-34.
[38] Zucker, pp. 34-35.
[39] Buck, p. 187.
[40] Power, p. 29. Alvord, p. 425.
[41] The Southern Influence in Early Illinois, John D. Barnhart, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, September, 1939, vol. XXXII, No. 3, p. 360. (Hereinafter “Barnhart.”) Negro Slavery in Illinois, Hon. John P. Hand, Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society, 1910, Pub. # 15, pp. 42-43. (Hereinafter “Hand.”) Aldrich, pp. 121-123.
[42] Ninian Edwards was a Chief Justice of Kentucky and the first Governor of the Territory of Illinois, appointed by President Madison.
[43] 1912 History, p. 483.
[44] 1881 History, p. 26. The population of Illinois in 1809 was estimated at 9,000, with Illinois then including the present State of Wisconsin.
[45] Barnhart, pp. 362-363.
[46] Early Slaves in Madison County, Illinois, History of Madison County, Illinois, W. R. Brink & Co., 1882.
[47] Zucker, pp. 42-44. Western Intelligencer, Kaskaskia, Illinois, December 11, 1817.
[48] 1881 History, p. 26. The population of Illinois in 1818 was estimated at 40,000.
[49] The Third Section of Article VI of the Constitution of 1818.
[50] Aldrich, p. 127.
[51] Barnhart, p. 373.
[52] Barnhart, p. 373.
[53] Allen, pp. 104-105.
[54] Section I of Article VI. Aldrich, p. 125.
[55] The Black Struggle for Public Schooling in Nineteenth Century Illinois, Robert L. McCaul, Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale, 1987, p. 2.
[56] See Thomas Cox’s Replevin Action Against Jehu Durley in beginning at page 292, and Benjamin Farmer’s will at page 37 as Sangamon County, Illinois examples.
[57] Description of Springfield, Zimri Enos, Publication No. 14, Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society, 1909, Publication of the Illinois State Historical Library, p. 202. (Hereinafter “Enos.”)
[58] 1810 United States Census, North Carolina. The 1810 United States Census of Rutherford County North Carolina shows the following: 2 males 16-26; 1 male 45-upwards; 1 female 10-16; 1 female 26-45; 3 slaves; 2 looms with 50 yards of homespun valued at $25; and 1 still ( no quantity given). American Gazetteer, p. 305. Rutherford, a co. of Morgan district, N. Carolina, bounded south by S. Carolina-7,808 inhabitants.”
[59] Elisha (1787-1871) Born in Rutherford County, North Carolina. Married on February 24, 1823 in Sangamon County, Illinois to Nancy Sims (1803-1855) Sparklenberg County, S.C. Children: John R. (1823-____); Louisa E. (1824-____); Martha (1826-____) Enos: Snow Birds. 1881 History, p. 563.
[60] Power, p. 424. “He came to Macoupin county, Ill., about 1817, and remained there for two years, spending most of his time in hunting.”
[61] “Here I Have Lived,” A History of Lincoln’s Springfield, 1821-1865, Paul M. Angle, The Abraham Lincoln Association, Springfield, Illinois, 1935, p 5. (Hereinafter “Angle.”) 1881 History, p. 260. Power, p. 424: “His [Elisha Kelly] selecting the place for a hunting ground and inducing others to come, was the beginning of Springfield. The parties caused to come were his father, Henry Kelly, and his three brothers, William, John and Elisha. The younger brother, George, came a few years later.”
[62] Growing Up With Springfield, A History of the Capital of Illinois, Rebecca Monroe Veach, Boardman-Smith Funeral Chapel, Springfield, Illinois, 1973, p. 9 (Hereinafter “Veach.”) The other six families probably included those of Andrew Elliot, John Lindsey and Samuel Little.
[63] Illinois Census Returns, 1810-1818, Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library, Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield, Illinois, 1935, p. 134; household number 630. From September 14, 1812, to January 30, 1821, what is now Springfield was a part of Madison County, Illinois. The Illinois Census was taken between April 1 and June 1, 1818. That part of the census for Madison County lists “Elijah Kelly,” not “Elisha,” with two free white males of 21 years and upward [Elisha and John?] and 3 other white inhabitants [John’s wife, Mary Whitesides and two children?] in the household, a total of 5. He is also found in the Federal and state census of 1820. If the others are not John and his family, then who are they? Why would the household head be “Elisha” and not his older brother John, who was married and had children? When did Elisha return to North Carolina and persuade other family members to move to Illinois?
[64] If John arrived in Illinois in the fall of 1818, he wouldn’t have been in the 1818 Illinois Census. If he arrived in the fall of 1818, why would he have first stopped at Macoupin Creek for the winter and moved to Springfield in the Spring of 1819?
[65] The location was earlier described as north of the Town Branch, near where it is crossed by Jefferson Street. At present (2005), the site is marked with a stone monument and tablet. Power, p. 423. Rutherford County, North Carolina (1783-1823) Children: Jonathan (1808-1873); Sarah; Elizabeth; William R.; Mary M.; Elijah. All were under 14 in 1823. Z. Enos: Snow Birds. 1881 History, p. 283. Angle, pp. 5 and 608. C.W.: v. II, p. 183. Veach, p. 9. Voted 1822, 1824 and 1826. John Kelly, was born about 1783, in Rutherford county, North Carolina. He was there married to Mary Whitesides, had five children there, and moved to Illinois in the fall of 1818, first stopping on Macoupin creek. In the spring of 1819 he moved to what is now Springfield. The 1810 Census for Rutherford County, North Carolina shows the following for the household of John Kelly: 1 male 26-45 (John); 3 females 10 years of age; 3 females of 10-16; 1 female of 26-45 (Mary); 1 loom with 100 yards of homespun valued at $50.
[66] Henry (1742-1832) Married: Mary ________ Children: John; Elisha; Elijah; William; George W.; Eleanor, married Joseph Reavis, and Sally, married _____ Greenwalt. 1820 United States Census: 6. 1881 History, p. 563.
[67] Elijah died about 1832 and his widow, Mary, and children moved to Missouri.
[68] The 1810 United States Census of Rutherford County, North Carolina showed the following for the William Kelly household: 1 male 26-45; 3 females of age 10; 3 females of 10-16; 1 female of 26-45. In 1836 William moved to Jasper County, Missouri. Rutherford County, North Carolina (____-____) Married in North Carolina to Dicey Ann Cook (____-____). Children: Zilpa H. (1797-1842) born in North Carolina. Married: Andrew Elliott (1792-1864). Jane married Jacob Cooper; Zilla, Emmaleeca, Alzira, Alta, Clemantine. Z. Enos: Snow Birds. Enos, p. 190, 196 and 197. Power, p. 424. Voted: 1822, 1826. 1820 United States Census: 10. 1881 History, p. 197: reminiscence of John T. Stuart. “William Kelly built a cabin north of his brother John, on a tract, as best I can determine, in the area from Miller to Calhoun, and a little bit beyond Calhoun, and between First and Third Streets.”
[69] 1881 History, pp. 196-197: reminiscence of John T. Stuart. Power, p. 424. What about George? Iles says he was here in 1821.
[70] This is not confirmed by the 1820 United States Census, probably because Negro Jack went on to Missouri about 1820 with Henry’s daughter, Eleanor, and son-in-law, Joseph Reavis. With regard to Henry Kelly’s slaves, Power’s history states that Henry Kelly owned slaves, but none of the sons, except George, would have them; so he freed the slaves, and gave land to his sons, instead. Power, p. 424. See the entry under date of 1822, “The Sale of Negro Jack” at page 24, when Henry and Mary sold “Negro Jack” to their son-in-law, Joseph Reavis.
[71] (1792-1864) Z. Enos: Snow Birds Children: Elizabeth M. (1815-____) Sarah M. (1818-____) John Wesley (1822-____) Thomas W. (1824-____) Andrew H. (1828-____) Day by Day (1809-1839), p. lix. 1881 History, pp. 564 (1825: Sangamo vs. Springfield: led commissioners on circuitous route.), 582 (Iles: 1821), 180 (1846 deer hunting party at his home at 1st and N. Grand). Power, p. 284, 424. Enos, p. 190 and 197. Angle, pp. 15 and 24. 1820 United States Census: 1 white male 21 and over; 3 all other white; total 4. 1828 Tax List: .89. 1830 United States Census: 7. June 10, 1825: Lot 1, Block 7: Z. Enos: Snow Birds. O.T.P: 1825.
[72] (1797-1842)
[73] Power, p. 703.
[74] Zucker, p. 69. Laws of Illinois, 1819.
[75] Power, p. 424.
[76] Abstract Deeds, p. 1, Vol. 1. A1-H396. Sangamon Valley Collection, Lincoln Library, Springfield, Illinois. (Hereinafter “SVC.”)
[77] Power, pp. 424 and 688. Joseph soon left Sangamon County and went to the West Indies where he died in 1825. 1881 History, pp. 48, 280, 524, 572 and 621.
[78] Governor Edward Coles, Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library, Volume XV, p. 96. Isaiah Stillman was in command of a body of troops in the Black Hawk war in 1832, at a point in Ogle county, which has ever since been known as “Stillman’s Run.”
[79] A document found in the records of the Sangamon County Recorder of Deeds is evidence that Edward was living with Stephen Stillman in March of 1820. See page 46 for the full text of the document.
[80] 1820 United States Census. Illinois Historical Collections, Census of 1820.
[81] The Forgotten Settlement at Fancy Grove, Curtis Mann, Sangamon County Historical Society, Historico.
[82] 1881 History, p. 883: William Archer was born on July 30, 1793, in North Carolina, and in 1807 his parents moved to Tennessee, where he married Elizabeth Jackson, moved to Madison county, Illinois, where Mrs. Archer died, and he married Elizabeth Holt, December 20, 1818. She was born December 3, 1793 in Oglethorpe county, Georgia, and, losing her parents when she was quite young, she was taken by an uncle, Robert White, to Madison county, Illinois, in 1811. William and Elizabeth had twins in Madison county, and moved to Sangamon county, arriving on April 30, 1820, in what is now Curran Township.
[83] See page 47 for the full text of the document.
[84] The “Springfield” area listings of heads of households and the number in each household was as follows: Peter Lanterman (8), John Lanterman (6), Richard Dogit (6), Henry Kelly (4), John Kelly (6), Elijah Kelly (4), William Kelly (10), Andrew Elliot (4), Jacob Ellis (10), Levi Ellis (7), John Lindsey (9) and Samuel Little (9).
[85] Would there be any records in Madison or Bond county concerning early Springfield residents? (IRAD SIU Edwardsville) Look there for records of Henry Kelly’s registration of “Negro Jack.”
[86] Power, p. 32.
[87] 1881 History, p. 70.
[88] Thomas Cox, Harvey Reid, Iowa Biographical Series, edited by Benjamin F. Shambaugh, Iowa City, Iowa, 1909, p. 35. (Hereinafter “Reid.”)
[89] Power, pp. 32-33. “It was the first building of any kind erected within what are now the city limits of Springfield, and was hand built of logs 20 feet long, with a plank floor, cabin roof and doors and windows cut out. John was paid $42.50 plus $5.00 for expenses for its construction.”
[90] Angle, pp. 42-43.
[91] Power, p. 479.
[92] Early Life and Times, Maj. Elijah Iles, Springfield Printing Co., Springfield, Illinois, 1883. (Hereinafter “Iles.”) Iles was born on March 28, 1796.
[93] 1881 History, p. 581.
[94] Iles, pp. 7-8.
[95] Power, p. 707. Angle, pp. 11, 12n and 17. Enos, p. 197. The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, 8 volumes and Index, The Abraham Lincoln Association, Springfield, Illinois, Roy P. Basler, Editor, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1953: v. I, pp. 43, 54-55, 67, 139; v. II, p. 70. (Hereinafter “C.W.”)
[96] Sugar Creek: Life on the Illinois Prairie, John Mack Faragher, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1986, p. 140. (Hereinafter “Sugar Creek.”) Sangamon County, County Commissioner’s Court, Election Returns, 1821-65 (microfilm, Illinois State Archives) reels #30/115, reprinted in Snow Birds, 5. Sangamon County Commissioners’ Court, June 5, 1821, Minutes, A:5.
[97] Presbyterian Church History, pp. 6-7. CITE
[98] Always My Friend, A History of The State Journal-Register and Springfield, Andy Van Meter, Phillips Bros., Springfield, Illinois, 1981, p. 17. (Hereinafter “Van Meter.”) 1881 History, pp. 49, 514 and 1046. Angle, pp. 27, 213. Enos, p. 197. C. W.: v. IV, p. 134n. Voted: 1824, 1826. Day by Day: April 1831: Wright describes Lincoln; March 9, 1839: Lincoln represents; November 29, 1843; November 25, 1843; December 8, 1843; Hertz, pp. 542-543; March 20, 1844; January 20, 1857-trial; December 22, 1856-speaks. Quarterly Newsletter of The Lincoln Legal Papers, January-March 1995, Number 33, Rebecca Thomas v. Erastus Wright, Paul Verduin. Bulletin of the Abraham Lincoln Association, no. 50 (Dec. 1937), p. 9.
[99] Power, p. 446.


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