Kaskaskia, Illinois

Kaskaskia, Illinois

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Kaskaskia is a village in Randolph County
Randolph County, Illinois
Randolph County is a county located in the U.S. state of Illinois. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 33,476, which is a decrease of 1.2% from 33,893 in 2000. Its county seat is Chester....

, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. In the 2010 census
United States Census, 2010
The Twenty-third United States Census, known as Census 2010 or the 2010 Census, is the current national census of the United States. National Census Day was April 1, 2010 and is the reference date used in enumerating individuals...

 the population was 14, making it the second-smallest incorporated community in the State of Illinois in terms of population. A major French colonial
French Colonial
French Colonial a style of architecture used by the French during colonization. Many French colonies, especially those in South-East Asia, have previously been reluctant to promote their colonial architecture as an asset for tourism, however in recent times, the new-generation of local authorities...

 town of the Illinois Country
Illinois Country
The Illinois Country , also known as Upper Louisiana, was a region in what is now the Midwestern United States that was explored and settled by the French during the 17th and 18th centuries. The terms referred to the entire Upper Mississippi River watershed, though settlement was concentrated in...

, its peak population was about 7,000 when it was a regional center. Kaskaskia was the capital of the Illinois Territory
Illinois Territory
The Territory of Illinois was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from March 1, 1809, until December 3, 1818, when the southern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Illinois. The area was earlier known as "Illinois Country" while under...

, created on February 3, 1809, and in 1818, when Illinois became the 21st U.S. state, it briefly served as the state's first capital until 1819, when Vandalia
Vandalia, Illinois
Vandalia is a city in Fayette County, Illinois, United States, northeast of St. Louis, on the Kaskaskia River. From 1819 to 1839 it served as the state capital of Illinois. Vandalia was the western terminus of the National Road. Today it is the county seat of Fayette County and the home of the...

 became the state capital of Illinois for the following twenty years, 1819 to 1839.

Most of the town was destroyed in April 1881 by flooding, as the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 shifted eastward to a new channel, taking over the lower 10 miles (16.1 km) of the Kaskaskia River
Kaskaskia River
The Kaskaskia River is a tributary of the Mississippi River, approximately long, in central and southern Illinois in the United States. The second largest river system within Illinois, it drains a rural area of farms, as well as rolling hills along river bottoms of hardwood forests in its lower...

. This resulted from deforestation
Deforestation
Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use....

 of the river banks during the 19th century, due to the need for wood fuel to feed the steamboat traffic. The river now passes east rather than west of the town. The state boundary line, however, remained in its original location. Accordingly, if the Mississippi River is considered to be a break in physical continuity, Kaskaskia is an exclave of Illinois, lying west of the Mississippi and only reachable from Missouri. A bridge crosses the old riverbed, a creek that is sometimes filled with water, and sometimes not.

History


The town was named after the Native American word for the Kaskaskia River
Kaskaskia River
The Kaskaskia River is a tributary of the Mississippi River, approximately long, in central and southern Illinois in the United States. The second largest river system within Illinois, it drains a rural area of farms, as well as rolling hills along river bottoms of hardwood forests in its lower...

. At first favorably situated on a peninsula, the town was cut off and mostly destroyed by repeated flooding and a channel change by the Mississippi River.

The site of Kaskaskia near the river was first a Native American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 village, inhabited by varying indigenous peoples for thousands of years.

In 1703 French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

 Jesuit missionaries established a mission with the goal of converting the Illini
Illini
Illini can refer to:* Chief Illiniwek, formerly the mascot of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign* Illiniwek, a group of six Native American tribes in the upper Mississippi River valley of North America...

 Native Americans
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 to Catholicism
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

. The congregation built its first stone church in 1714. The French also had a trading post in the fur trade
Fur trade
The fur trade is a worldwide industry dealing in the acquisition and sale of animal fur. Since the establishment of world market for in the early modern period furs of boreal, polar and cold temperate mammalian animals have been the most valued...

 at the village. French settlers moved in to farm and to exploit the lead mines on the Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 side of the river. Kaskaskia became the capital of Upper Louisiana and the French built Fort de Chartres
Fort de Chartres
Fort de Chartres was a French fortification first built in 1720 on the east bank of the Mississippi River in present-day Illinois. The Fort de Chartres name was also applied to the two successive fortifications built nearby during the 18th century in the era of French colonial control over...

 in 1718. In the same year they imported the first enslaved Africans
Atlantic slave trade
The Atlantic slave trade, also known as the trans-atlantic slave trade, refers to the trade in slaves that took place across the Atlantic ocean from the sixteenth through to the nineteenth centuries...

, shipped from Santo Domingo, to work as laborers in the lead
Lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

 mines
Mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

 being developed in Missouri.

From its beginning, Kaskaskia was a French/Indian settlement, consisting of a few French men and numerous Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

 and other American Indians
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

. In 1707, the population of the community was estimated at 2,200, the majority Illinois who lived somewhat apart from the Europeans. Writing of Kaskaskia about 1715, a visitor said that the village consisted of 400 Illinois men, " good people," two Jesuit missionaries, and "about twenty French voyageurs
Voyageurs
The Voyageurs were the persons who engaged in the transportation of furs by canoe during the fur trade era. Voyageur is a French word which literally translates to "traveler"...

 who have settled there and married Indian women." Of twenty-one children whose birth and baptism was recorded in Kaskaskia before 1714, eighteen mothers were Indian and twenty fathers were French. One devout Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 full-blooded Indian woman disowned her half-breed son for living "among the savage nations."

From the French, the Indians, and the mixed-race descendants at Kaskaskia came the voyageurs and coureurs des bois, who would explore and exploit the Missouri River
Missouri River
The Missouri River flows through the central United States, and is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It is the longest river in North America and drains the third largest area, though only the thirteenth largest by discharge. The Missouri's watershed encompasses most of the American Great...

 country. The French had the goal of trading with all the Prairie tribes, and beyond with the Spanish
Spanish people
The Spanish are citizens of the Kingdom of Spain. Within Spain, there are also a number of vigorous nationalisms and regionalisms, reflecting the country's complex history....

 colony in New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

 — a prospect which horrified the Spanish. French goals stimulated the expedition of Claude Charles Du Tisne
Claude Charles Du Tisne
Claude Charles Du Tisne led the first official French expedition to set foot in Kansas and visit the Osage and the Wichita Indians in 1719.-Life:...

 to establish trade relations with the Plains Indians
Plains Indians
The Plains Indians are the Indigenous peoples who live on the plains and rolling hills of the Great Plains of North America. Their colorful equestrian culture and resistance to White domination have made the Plains Indians an archetype in literature and art for American Indians everywhere.Plains...

 in 1719.

King Louis XV sent a bell
Kaskaskia Bell State Memorial
The Kaskaskia Bell State Memorial is a 1948 brick building in Kaskaskia, Illinois that houses a bell cast in 1741 by King Louis XV of France as a gift to the Mission of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church at Kaskaskia...

 to Kaskaskia in 1741 for its church, one of several constructed there. During the years of French rule, Kaskaskia and the other agricultural settlements in the Illinois Country
Illinois Country
The Illinois Country , also known as Upper Louisiana, was a region in what is now the Midwestern United States that was explored and settled by the French during the 17th and 18th centuries. The terms referred to the entire Upper Mississippi River watershed, though settlement was concentrated in...

 were important for supplying Lower Louisiana, especially New Orleans, with wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

 and corn
Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

. Farmers shipped tons of flour south over the years, as those staple crops could not be grown in Louisiana's climate.

In 1733 the French built Fort Kaskaskia near this site. It was destroyed by the British in 1763 during the French and Indian War
French and Indian War
The French and Indian War is the common American name for the war between Great Britain and France in North America from 1754 to 1763. In 1756, the war erupted into the world-wide conflict known as the Seven Years' War and thus came to be regarded as the North American theater of that war...

 (also known as the Seven Years War), which they won. Rather than live under British rule after France ceded the territory east of the river, many French-speaking people from Kaskaskia and other colonial towns moved west of the Mississippi to Ste. Genevieve
Ste. Genevieve, Missouri
Ste. Genevieve is a city in and the county seat of Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri, United States. The population was 11,654 at the 2000 census...

 and St. Louis, and other areas.

The city fell on July 4, 1778 to George Rogers Clark
George Rogers Clark
George Rogers Clark was a soldier from Virginia and the highest ranking American military officer on the northwestern frontier during the American Revolutionary War. He served as leader of the Kentucky militia throughout much of the war...

 and his force of 200 men including Captain Leonard Helm during one of the western most battles of the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

. The parish rang the church bell in celebration, which has since been called the "liberty bell". It is housed in a brick building shrine
Shrine
A shrine is a holy or sacred place, which is dedicated to a specific deity, ancestor, hero, martyr, saint, daemon or similar figure of awe and respect, at which they are venerated or worshipped. Shrines often contain idols, relics, or other such objects associated with the figure being venerated....

 near the Church of the Immaculate Conception
Immaculate Conception
The Immaculate Conception of Mary is a dogma of the Roman Catholic Church, according to which the Virgin Mary was conceived without any stain of original sin. It is one of the four dogmata in Roman Catholic Mariology...

. The brick church was built in 1843 in the squared-off French style.

As a center of the regional economy, Kaskaskia served as the capital of Illinois Territory from 1809 until statehood was gained in 1818, and then as state capital until 1819. Its peak population was about 7,000 before the capital moved in 1819 to Vandalia
Vandalia, Illinois
Vandalia is a city in Fayette County, Illinois, United States, northeast of St. Louis, on the Kaskaskia River. From 1819 to 1839 it served as the state capital of Illinois. Vandalia was the western terminus of the National Road. Today it is the county seat of Fayette County and the home of the...

. Although introduction of steamboats on the Mississippi River stimulated the economies of river towns in the 19th century, their use also had devastating environmental effects. Deforestation
Deforestation
Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use....

 of the banks followed steamboat crews' regular cutting of trees to feed the engine fires. River banks became unstable and collapsed into the water.

From St. Louis to the confluence of the Ohio River
Ohio River
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream...

, the Mississippi became wider and more shallow, with more severe flooding. Much of Kaskaskia and other French colonial towns has been lost. Following the Great Flood of 1844
Great Flood of 1844
The Great Flood of 1844 is the biggest flood ever recorded on the Missouri River and Upper Mississippi River, in North America, in terms of discharge.The impact was not as great as subsequent floods because of the small population in the region at the time...

, Kaskaskia relocated to the south. The original location of Kaskaskia became an island, surrounded by the Mississippi River. The flood of 1881 destroyed all remnants of the original town and the Mississippi shifted into the channel of the Kaskaskia River, passing east instead of west of the town. Parts of the town were rebuilt in the new area.

As the Mississippi continued to flow through its new bed, earth was deposited so that the village became physically attached to the west bank of the river, which primarily lies within the boundaries of the state of Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

. Now a bayou, the old channel is regularly flooded and has a bridge to carry traffic over it. In 1893 the people of the town moved and rebuilt the Church of the Immaculate Conception on Kaskaskia Island.

By 1950 only 112 people lived in Kaskaskia. By 1970 the population had fallen to 79, and it continued its precipitous decline to 33 in 1980. The town was submerged under nine feet of water by the Great Flood of 1993
Great Flood of 1993
The Great Mississippi and Missouri Rivers Flood of 1993 occurred in the American Midwest, along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and their tributaries, from April to October 1993. The flood was among the most costly and devastating to ever occur in the United States, with $15 billion in damages...

, which reached the roofs of the buildings. By 2000, with a mere nine residents, Kaskaskia was almost a ghost town
Ghost town
A ghost town is an abandoned town or city. A town often becomes a ghost town because the economic activity that supported it has failed, or due to natural or human-caused disasters such as floods, government actions, uncontrolled lawlessness, war, or nuclear disasters...

 and the least populous incorporated community in the State of Illinois.

Geography



Kaskaskia is located at 37.921395°N 89.916467°W.
According to the United States Census Bureau
United States Census Bureau
The United States Census Bureau is the government agency that is responsible for the United States Census. It also gathers other national demographic and economic data...

, the village has a total land area of 0.2809 km² (0.1085 sq mi, or 69.41 acres), all land. However, the village comprises only a small part of Kaskaskia Precinct
Kaskaskia Precinct, Randolph County, Illinois
Kaskaskia Precinct is located in Randolph County, Illinois, USA. As of the 2000 census, its population was 36....

, which includes all of Randolph County's land west of the Mississippi. Kaskaskia Precinct has a land area of 24.037 square miles (62.255 km²) and a 2000 census population of 36 persons. In 1993 the Mississippi River almost completely flooded
Great Flood of 1993
The Great Mississippi and Missouri Rivers Flood of 1993 occurred in the American Midwest, along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and their tributaries, from April to October 1993. The flood was among the most costly and devastating to ever occur in the United States, with $15 billion in damages...

 the island.

Demographics



As of the census
Census
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common...

of 2000, there were 9 people, 4 households, and 3 families residing in the village. The population density
Population density
Population density is a measurement of population per unit area or unit volume. It is frequently applied to living organisms, and particularly to humans...

 was 83.0 people per square mile (31.6/km²). There were 5 housing units at an average density of 46.1 per square mile (17.6/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 77.78% White, 11.11% Pacific Islander, 11.11% from other races
Race (United States Census)
Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, as defined by the Federal Office of Management and Budget and the United States Census Bureau, are self-identification data items in which residents choose the race or races with which they most closely identify, and indicate whether or not they are...

. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 22.22% of the population.


There were four households out of which none had children under the age of 18 living with them, two were married couples
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

 living together, one had a female householder with no husband present, and one was a non-family. One household was made up of individuals and one had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.25 and the average family size was 2.67.

In the village the population was spread out with 22.2% under the age of 18, 11.1% from 18 to 24, 11.1% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 33.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 48 years. For every 100 females there were 28.6 males. For every five females age 18 and over, there were two males.

Notable people

  • David J. Baker
    David J. Baker
    David Jewett Baker was a United States Senator from Illinois. Born in East Haddam, Connecticut, he moved with his parents to Ontario County, New York and attended the common schools. In 1816 he graduated from Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. He studied law, and was admitted to the Illinois...

    , United States Senator from Illinois
  • David J. Baker, Jr.
    David J. Baker, Jr.
    David Jewett Baker, Jr. , the son of David J. Baker, was a justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois. Born in Kaskaskia, Illinois, Baker was an Illinois state court judge-Notes:...

    , Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court
  • John Duff (counterfeiter)
    John Duff (counterfeiter)
    John Duff was a counterfeiter, hunter, and scout who assisted in George Rogers Clark's campaign to capture the Illinois country for the American side during the Revolutionary War. He had been leading a group of hunters returning from Kaskaskia, Illinois, when intercepted by Clark's soldiers near...

    , long hunter, Revolutionary War soldier, and early American outlaw
    Outlaw
    In historical legal systems, an outlaw is declared as outside the protection of the law. In pre-modern societies, this takes the burden of active prosecution of a criminal from the authorities. Instead, the criminal is withdrawn all legal protection, so that anyone is legally empowered to persecute...

  • Thomas Duncan, General during the American Civil War
  • John Rice Jones
    John Rice Jones
    John Rice Jones was an American politician, jurist, and pioneer.-Early history:Jones was born in Mallwyd, Wales, the eldest of fourteen children to John Jones, an excise officer. According to family tradition Jones was educated in Oxford, but this is unconfirmed...

    , jurist and politician
  • Lucien Maxwell
    Lucien Maxwell
    Lucien Bonaparte Maxwell was a rancher and entrepreneur who at one point owned more than . Along with Thomas Catron and Ted Turner, Maxwell was one of the largest private landowners in United States history....

    , rancher
  • John Willis Menard
    John Willis Menard
    John Willis Menard was the first African American elected to the United States Congress.Menard was born in Kaskaskia, Illinois, to parents of Louisiana Creole descent from New Orleans who were free people of color. He may have been related to Michel Branamour Menard, a French-Canadian fur trader...

    , the first African American elected to the United States Congress

External links