Wa-bo-kies-shiek, or White Cloud the prophet of the Winnegaboes, and commonly called “The Prophet,” was the most prominent Indian that was ever intimately connected with the history of Henry County . He was born about 1790, and made Prophetstown his home. He was a stout, shred-looking Indian; sagacity and cunning were prominent traits of his character and essential to the prophetic pretensions by which he imposed upon the credulity of his ignorant followers. It is claimed that he was one of the chief instigators in bringing on the Black Hawk War. He resided at Prophetstown, where there was a large Indian village.
   Through the generous interest of Hon. Elihu B. Washburne, while Minister Plenipotentiary from this country to the Court of Paris, Whiteside County was enabled to secure a portrait of this noted chief, which now decorates the walls of the Supervisors’ room in the Record building at Morrison. It is painted by P. A. Healey, the distinguished American portrait painter, from the original study of George Catlin, the American artist, and one of the most celebrated of Indian painters. It was painted by Mr. Healey in Europe, at the request of Mr. Washburne, and presented by him to Whiteside County as a historic souvenir. This work was greatly admired while on exhibition in the artist’s studio at Paris . It is a full sized portrait and is a work of rare merit. It represents the Prophet standing erect, in full Indian dress, with his blanket thrown over his left shoulder, partially folded over one arm, and hanging with careless grace by his side. He stands upon the brow of a hill, while about are some small trees and shrubbery. In the back-ground is the blue sky. In front is a broad expanse of country, over which his eye rests with a melancholy gaze, contemplating a land that is rapidly fading away from him and his race. Mr. Washburne was cordially received by the people of Whiteside County , whom he had formerly represented for many years in Congress. The presentation of the portrait was made Oct. 27, 1877, at the Fair Grounds, which had been fitted up for the occasion, and was preceded by an eloquent address from Mr. Washburne, the donor. It was made a grand occasion, and one long to be remembered by the people of the county.

 

Transcribed by Jan Roggy

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