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Pottawatomie Indians

Kane County, Illinois


Chief Shabbona (Shau-be-nee)

Shabbona's main settlement was in DeKalb County, in what became Shabbona township, though he often camped on Mill creek south of Batavia in the area known at the turn of the century as Pottawatomie Park. The clan lead a nomadic life so he and his family were known throughout the Fox River Valley. (This park is not to be confused with Pottawatomie Park in St. Charles)


Shabbona's men were larger than the average settler and described as courageous and intelligent about the average Indiana in accounts written at the turn of the century.  Reportedly Shabbona was born in Canada in 1775, other sources dispute this.  He was born into the Ottawa Tribe, but married the daughter of a Pottawattomie chief.  When his father-in-law died, he became Chief of the Tribe. His people  had allied with the French against the English and later the English against the Colonies during the Revolutionary War.


Settlers Friend

Black Hawk War  

Shabbona spoke against Black Hawk at a major council of the Pottawatomie Indians held on the DesPlaines river.  Upon learning of Black Hawks plans for war,  he, his sons and tribe members went from cabin to cabin warning settlers as far away as Ottawa of Black Hawks intentions.  The U.S. Government granted Shabbona land for his service during the Black Hawk war.  The land was set aside for him near Shabbona Grove in DeKalb county.  He was also awarded, by the government, a $200 annual pension.  


In keeping with the nomadic life of his early years, he visited friends and moved back and forth between his DeKalb land and his tribe in the west.  Shabbona had been "visiting" outside of DeKalb county for some time, when someone was successful in convincing the government that Shabbona's land should be sold.  And at only $1.25 an acre.  You'll want to research this more.  This caused him and his family great despair -- their people were buried there!  He had trusted the white man.


Shabbona is buried in Morris, Illinois, having died July 27, 1859.  His wife, Coconako, who died in 1864 is also buried there.  


It is told that Shabbona, his children and grandchildren were at a county fair in Ottawa, when he was made judge of a beauty contest in 1857.  When asked to make his choice, he turned to his wife, who weighed nearly 400 pounds, gently touched her shoulder and announced, "Much heap, big prettiest squaw!"

Source:  Kane County History by Joslyn & Joslyn, 1908, various other reading.


Shabbona (Bio from Cook County Forest Preserve)

Shabbona (Genoa History site)


Some Things I Remember of Chief Shabbona

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Last Updated 10-Oct-1999