Black Hawk's War
Caroline Strong

Fort Paine, July 12th, 1832
(Naperville Illinois)

My dear Venilea,

I suppose by now you hear much said of the present affliction of this State. How eagerly must you search for and listen to all the news concerning us! How your affectionate heart must beat with anxious and tender solicitude for the fate of your far off R. & C. who are really in the midst of trouble! I tell you I am tired of war times & war fare & I guess you would be too if you had to live as I do. For four days after we came to this place we had to live entirely out of doors 'tho we were permitted to sleep under shelter. Since then we have had a comfortable house. There are 2 small rooms & six families to occupy them. There are twenty-two children. There are five or six crying, two or three scolding almost constantly besides all the rest of the confusion naturally expected in such a place as this. And here I am in a crazy chamber (in the midst of this confusion) sitting on my feet, with my paper on a chair, scribbling to you. I tell you this, not as troubles but to let you see how pleasantly I am situated! We stayed at Chicago nearly four weeks when thinking we should be as safe at home as there we ventured to return. A day or two after we got home General Atkinson sent forty of his men, commanded by Captain Paine, to build a fort & to remain at this place which is four miles from our house. The day after they arrived here one of their men was killed by hostile Indians. The wretches after scalping him escaped with a span of horses. They had lurked about the place a number of days watching the road. We passed within a few rods of them on our return from Chicago. If we had had horses we should probably have lost our lives as these animals seem to be their first object. Where they find two or three men alone with horses they are sure to kill the men and take the horses. Where there is no danger of discovery they mangle them in the most horrid manner. Some were found, their heads in one place and bodies in another. Some with their eyes picked out & noses cut off. One man's body was cut to pieces, his entrails taken out and wound around his neck. One's heart was taken out & cut and chewed to pieces. But our unworthy lives are still spared, our Heavenly Father has delivered us from dangers seen and unseen whilst our neightbors (literally speaking) have fallen victims to the blood thirsty savages. Two months ago we were quietly pursuing our labours, thought not of danger or interruption, especially from such a quarter. But what a contrast! What before was peace & prosperity was suddenly reversed into scenes of fear, distress & poverty. Homes were deserted, farms left uncultivated, large droves of cattle left to range unmolested their boundless fields. Now, people are just beginning to creep out of their hives & tremblingly take a peep at their old homes which I assure you do not look as though they had ever been inhabited by human beings. Some houses where the unfortunate owners were providentially permitted previously to escape, were visited by Indians & everything destroyed. It was not carried off or burned but left in the house to aggravate and distress the now destitute owners. Good furniture, iron ware, crockery smashed to atoms, clothing and bedding torn and cut to pieces. Murdered cats, dogs & hogs lay about the house. Other houses with their contents were burned. I never before realized the uncertainty of life so much as at present. Never before did I feel the importance of living every day as though it were our last to be so spent. I never felt so little desire to accumulate wordly riches as at present.


Village on the County Line, A History of Hinsdale Illinois, by Hugh G. Dugan, pages 23-24
The Lakeside Press, R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company, Chicago, 1949