Friday, 12 July 1878
Illinois City: Mrs. Margaret VANATTA, "probably the last of the final settlers of the country" having come to Mercer County, Ills in the spring of 1830 and then coming to this county in 1832, died this week.  The funeral was July 1st. 

The family removed to Fort Armstrong when the Blackhawk War broke out. Again the next year they had to flee to the fort - at that time Mrs. Vanatta mounted a pony with a 5 days old child and rode 12 miles on the gallop to save her life. She was living with her son James in Buffalo Prairie and was aged 79y at death.  The funeral was at the Methodist Church.  (UNION of July 14, 1878):  Ilinois City:

Mrs. VANNATA was born in Beaver Co., Pennsylvania and came to Illinois in 1830 or 1831 with her husband and 2 sons and daughter - James, Thomas and Mary Ann.  The family settled near Keithsburg, Mercer County "with Mr. VANNATTA owning for a time the land on which the town now stands. Mrs. VANNATTA was "friends" with the Indian chiefs Blackhawk, Keokuk and Pamaho. She "thought nothing of allowing her little boys aged 8 years and 6 years, to be gone whole days on hunting and fishing excursions with the young Indians.  On one occasion, Thomas slipped ona snag, forcing it almost through his foot.  An Indian attempted to remove it but only broke off the end.  He knotted his blanket into a sling, placed Thomas in it and carried him home, a distance of 3 miles.  He held the boy while his father, with a razor, removed-the stick"....

The Blackhawk war broke out the following year..,.they would have remained at home in peace and security but Gen. Gaines....sent a guard of soldiers who literally forced them to the river and aboard a boat which conveyed them to Fort Armstrong.....Mr. Vannatta's team being drafted and he himself being pressed'into the service at the time. The family remained at the fort for some months.....when (finally) they were allowed to return to their home, Mr. Vanatta being retained at the fort thus throwing the entire dependence of the family upon Mrs. Vanatta and her boys.

Their crops had been destroyed and for 3 months they had been without bread in the house.  Several times the mother with her babe in her arms, a daughter on her back and sons by her side, was compelled to fly from the Indians until the chiefs learned to know her, when they would not permit the warriors to molest her. At one time she was prparing to fly from the Indians, and dropped a knife through the puncheon floor. As she raised a plank to recover the property, she discovered a mouldy biscuit which was eaten by her little daughter...,.

.One time a roving band of Indians attacked the family....a man being killed near their home and a brother-in-law, Garsham VANNATTA shot at 4 times. He alarmed the family and persuaded the family to flee. Mrs. Vannata and family were placed in an old wagon and started for the block house near where Oquawka now is.  The wagon broke down and Mrs. Vannata took her 5-day old babe and daughter before her and 2 children behind her on a pony...... and rode..... 12 miles to the fort in safety. Here they remained but a few days when they returned home where they stayed until the return of the husband and father at the close of the ???? which resulted so disastrously for old friends of the red man...... The family of Pamaho stayed with the Vannattas until the return of the chiefs from Washington and removal to the Des Moines reservation........ About the year 1836, the family removed to a mile and half north of Illinois City where her husband died 20 May 18??  leaving her with 7 small children, the youngest of whom, Benjamin, lacked (7?) days of being one year old.  Here she raised her family and saw them married and established in comfortable circumstances, with the exception of 2 - Benjamin who married since his return from the late war and Maryann who died at about the age of 18 years.  During Benjamin's stay in the Army, he received one or 2 letters a week from his mother and she in her anxiety walked about 3 miles and returned every
week to watch the mails.. She joined the Methodist Episcopal Church.  She leaves 4 sons and 2 daughters, 30 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildern.

Reynold Press

 

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