Early Statehood (1818-1848)

On December 3, 1818, Illinois became the twenty-first state of the Union. Ostensibly a free state, slavery was “grandfathered” in to the constitution for existing colonial slaveholders, and all citizens were permitted to keep indentured servants. Over the next thirty years, the state experienced a transition from an American frontier to a settled and rapidly developing agricultural state. Technology changed agriculture and expanded markets. It also fostered changes in government, legal, and educational institutions.

In 1832, Black Sparrow Hawk, a Sauk warrior, and more than 1,000 Sauk and Fox, attempted to return to their principal community of Saukenuk, present-day Rock Island. Conflict soon followed, and warriors fought a series of battles with Federal troops and Illinois militia in Illinois and Wisconsin. Decimated in a final fight at Bad Axe in Wisconsin, the Sauk and Fox, along with other tribes once resident in Illinois, signed a treaty reaffirming their land cessions and moved to reservations west of the Mississippi River.

Copper or Brass Kettle

Image of kettle from the Rhoads Kickapoo Indian village site.
Much of what we know about the Kickapoo Indian Tribe in Illinois comes from an archaeological investigation that took place prior to a road-building project in the 1970s. This copper or brass kettle was one of the artifacts uncovered from the Rhoads village site. Excavations revealed a mix of traditional stone tools, arrow points, pottery, and other objects mixed with items of European origin including glass beads, silver crosses and jewelry, ceremonial smoking pipes, and this kettle.

Wedding dress

Image of wedding dress worn by Illinois First Lady Catherine Yates.
Sixteen-year-old Catherine Geers wore this dress when she married a young lawyer named Richard Yates in Jacksonville on July 9, 1839. The couple had five children, though one died in infancy, and one was struck by lightning and killed at age 11. 

Musket

Image of U.S. Model 1842 musket.

1843
Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum
Gift of Mrs. Henry Delbridge, 1968.067.799057

Private Patrick Carroll carried this musket during the Civil War when he served in the 32nd Illinois Infantry Regiment. Carroll, a native of Ireland, was a 26-year-old blacksmith when he mustered into service at Camp Butler on December 31, 1861. He saw action at the battle of Shiloh and the siege of Corinth before being discharged for disability in August 1862. He returned home to Fayette County, married, fathered seven children, and died in 1901 at age 66.

Canal Scrip

Image of canal script.

1840
Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum, X-0883

This scrip was used to help fund one of Illinois’ earliest and most significant infrastructure projects, the Illinois and Michigan Canal, which joins the Chicago and Illinois Rivers and ultimately connects the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River.

Firemarks

Image of firemarks.

c. 1830s-1860s
Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum
Transfer from the Illinois State Historical Library, 1997.195

These metal plates were recovered from the facades of pre-Civil War structures throughout Illinois. They were issued by fire insurance companies as a way for policy holders to publicly indicate that their buildings and possessions were insured against loss by fire.

Transfer Print Plate: Rochester Castle

Image of Rochester Castle transfer print plate, James and Roalph Clews Pottery, Staffordshire, England, 1815-1834.

James and Ralph Clews Pottery
Staffordshire, England
1815-1834

This plate was produced by James & Ralph Clews in Staffordshire. Their ceramics were commonplace on the American frontier. The image in the center of the plate is a distant view of Rochester Castle, on the River Medway, east of London. Portions of the castle date to the 11th century. English artist Joseph Mallord William Turner depicted the castle in his work Rochester Castle From The River, painted circa 1793.

“Palestine” Refined Earthenware Plate

Image of “Palestine” refined earthenware plate.
In the early 1800s, potteries in the Staffordshire region of England were becoming more and more dependent on the American market at a time when relations between the two nations were sliding towards war. In the months leading up to the War of 1812, trade was suspended, and a financial crisis ensued that, according to pottery owner Ralph Stevenson, left one-third of pottery workers unemployed and 35 businesses shuttered. His business had just opened in 1810.

Cotton Dress

Image of woman's cotton dress.

c. 1830
Illinois State Museum, Illinois Legacy Collection
Transfer from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2001.191.0001.0011

Figured cotton gowns such as this were very popular in the 1820s as the cotton economy boomed and advances in dyeing and printing technology made a wide variety of colors and patterns available to middle-class consumers. This dress was made from cotton that was likely grown by enslaved people in the American south, woven into cloth, dyed, and printed in the textile mills of New England or England, and then shipped to Illinois on an expanding network of railroads and steamships.

Linen Shirt

Image of linen shirt.

1846
Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum
Gift of the O.M. Hatch family,

This shirt was made by Salome Enos for her son, Zimri Enos, to wear to his wedding on June 10, 1846. Salome and her husband, Pascal, came to Springfield in 1823 and became one of the first four landowning families of the town. Their son, Zimri, briefly practiced law before becoming a surveyor and civil engineer.

Toothpick and Case

image of bone toothpick and corncob case
When Elihu and Sophronia Thorpe moved to Illinois from New York in 1841, they brought this bone toothpick and corncob case with them. It had belonged to Sophronia’s grandfather, Alexander Osborn, who served in the Revolutionary War. According to family legend, Alexander had carved the toothpick and case while he was in camp, sometime around 1780.

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