Wood River Massacre of 1814 - Wood River, IL
Posted by: paulspaper
N 38° 54.660 W 090° 06.474
15S E 750768 N 4310877
Quick Description: In 1814 a small group of Indians massacred a group consisting of one woman and 6 children.
Location: Illinois, United States
Date Posted: 4/25/2008 3:45:07 PM
Waymark Code: WM3NKG
From the Wood River Historical Society Website:
A story of the Wood River Massacre, written by Mary Enos
Many came from North Caroline to the wilderness of Illinois. The Moore family, William Abel and George and their relatives by marriage the Bates, Thomas and Reagan families, were some of these pioneers.
These families and many others settled near a small river called the Wood River. They moved in, set up farms, and gave the area the name of Wood River Settlement.
On the east fork of the Wood River stood the Wood River Block House. Families would go to the blockhouse when Indians danger was imminent.
William Moore lived east of where the Gordon Moore Community Park is located today and the blockhouse was located east of his house.
Across highway 140 in the northern section of the park is a tombstone enclosed by a small fence. Abel Moore and his wife lived at the site in 1814, and in 1846, at their death, they were buried there.
I back of the Alton Mental Health Center on Fosterburg Road is a twenty foot obelisk which was placed there by decedents of the Moore family. It is just a short distance from where Reason Reagan and his wife Rachel lived.
The strong Fort Russell, which was located neat the present day town of Edwardsville, seemed to help ward off the Indians, and had lulled the residents into a false sense of security. There had never been an Indian battle in the area.
July 10, 1814 was a Sunday and it started out as a peaceful and pleasant day. The families in the area never expected the day would end in great tragedy.
William Moore was on duty at Fort Butler near St. Jacob. Abel Moore had gone to Fort Russell for the day as he was on duty there. Reason Reagan and Benjamin Thomas (who was the brother of Rachel Reagan) went to a church meeting, which was probably held at the Baptist Church near Vaughn Cemetery.
That morning Rachel Reagan and her two children went to spend the day with her sister, Mrs. William Moore. Abel Moore's wife and children were there as was Miss Hannah Bates (who was the sister of Abel Moore's wife). The day was spent peacefully while the women talked and the children played games. They were all going to Abel Moore's house for supper that night.
In the afternoon Rachel decided to go home and pick some green beans for the meal. Some of the children wanted to go along with her. All together there were Rachel's two children, two sons of Williams Moore, and two sons of Abel Moore.
That was a total of seven, but they almost has eight. Hannah Bated decided to go along to visit a little more with Rachel, but a short time later Hannah turned back to the Moore house. Some people thought she may have had a premonition that something terrible was going to happen. Others say her shoes did not fit well and she was most uncomfortable. Whatever the reason, she returned to the Moore's House which was closer than Rachel's. It saved her life.
About dark, William Moore returned home and found no one there. He then went to Abel's house. There he found his wife, Rachel and the children had not yet returned.
William and his wife decided to search for them. His wife rode a horse through the woods and William walked along the wagon path. William had gone a very short distance when he discovered a body lying on the ground. It was dark and he could not identify the body.
Thinking the Indians were having a general uprising, he wanted to warn the other people oin the area and get them to safety. He first went to Abel's house and got Abel's wife and her remaining children. They headed for William's house to get his family, having no idea if his wife had returned from her search. When they for to the house they saw her horse. William's wife came running out of the house and told her husband she thought Indians had killed them all.
While she was in the woods she came across a human figure lying in the path. She got down from her horse and in the darkness she saw Rachel's little boy sitting beside his lifeless mother. She didn't look any further. She picked up the wounded child and hurried home. The child died the next day.
At dawn the scene of the tragedy was found and the bodies of the children (scattered all along the path) indicated that they had tried to escape.
The victims were taken to the burial ground which is now known as Vaughn Cemetery where they were buried in three graves, but only one headstone with the names of all those who were killed. The news of the massacre spread quickly, and the men of th area hastened to track the Indians. They, in time found out the number of Indians were small. It was not a regular war party who killed the seven helpless victims, but a group of renegade Indians bent on revenge against the white people.
Hatred was so intense against the Indians, the territorial legislature enacted a system of bounties for the killing of hostile Indians. The government offered $50 for the killing of an Indian who entered a settlement with murderous intent.
Date of crime: 07/14/1814
Public access allowed: yes
Web site: [Web Link]
Fee required: Not Listed
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