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Hubbard Trading Post marker - Iroquois, IL
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member adgorn
N 40° 50.121 W 087° 34.414
16T E 451641 N 4520637
Quick Description: "In 1822, Gurdon S. Hubbard, on this spot, built an Indian trading post and operated it until 1834. Here the Indian princess Watchee-kee lived with Hubbard as his wife." Hubbard's life is an amazing frontier life story.
Location: Illinois, United States
Date Posted: 11/16/2009 5:05:13 PM
Waymark Code: WM7P5E
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Corp Of Discovery
Views: 0

Long Description:
Excerpted from
"Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard (1802-Sept. 14, 1886) born in Windsor, VT; in 1815 his father, a lawyer impoverished by speculation, moved the family to Montreal, where young Gurdon found employment in a hardware store; on Apr. 28, 1818, he became an employee of the American Fur Company; came from Montreal through Chicago for the first time on Oct. 1, 1818, at age 16 when assigned to the Illinois River Brigade. By August 1822 Hubbard is so listed on an American Fur Co. invoice as follows: "for trade of the Iroquois River and its dependencies."

Hubbard married 15-year-old Watseka, niece of Tamin, chief of the Kankakee Potawatomi; the union lasted two years and resulted in two children, both of whom died in infancy. When in 1827 Hubbard resigned his position, he purchased from John Jacob Astor the Illinois trading interests of the American Fur Co. (held until 1835), and went into business for himself at Danville, establishing subsidiary posts from Chicago to the Wabash and Ohio Rivers; his frequent travel between Danville and Chicago gave the name "Hubbard Trace" to the connecting trail."

Excerpts from Quaife, 1923, CHICAGO’S HIGHWAYS—OLD AND NEW

"Alone of the fur-traders of Illinois Gurdon S. Hubbard successfully made the transition from the trade of the wilderness to the commerce of civilization, and won prestige and wealth as a leader of modern business. Strange indeed was the contrast between his life as an Indian trader and his later business career. The trader’s life was one of continual hardship and danger, not less from the untutored red man than from the natural perils of the wilderness. Hubbard was a man of indomitable will, and he possessed a constitution of iron.

A character whose memory is forever bound up with those of Hubbard and the Vincennes Trace is the gentle Indian maid, Watseka (native pronounciation "Watch_e-kee"), who was born at the Indian village on the site of old Bunkum (now Iroquois) about the year 1810. Competition was fierce in the Indian trade, and the trader who could win the friendship of a chief enjoyed an advantage over his competitors which was not to be ignored. In savage, as in civilized life, the favor of royalty is best secured and cemented through marriage alliances. In accordance with the custom of the forest, therefore, Hubbard entered upon a marriage of convenience by taking to wife a relative of Tamin, chief of the Kankakee band of Potawatomi. It was Tamin’s first desire that Hubbard should wed his own grown daughter, but for reasons which may easily be imagined the latter declined this alliance. Instead he indicated his willingness to marry Tamin’s niece, Watseka, then a child of ten years of age. A pledge to do so was given, and when the girl had arrived at the age of fourteen or fifteen years she was brought to Hubbard by her mother and the marriage was consummated.

Over this union, as over the career of Watseka, hovers much of pathos and tragedy. Watseka was a beautiful and intelligent girl, and Hubbard in after years testified to the ideal character of his union with her. It lasted about two years, during which a daughter was born and died. The advancing tide of white settlement spelled the doom of the Indian trade, however, and Hubbard, who possessed abundant foresight and shrewdness, laid his plans for abandoning his calling. This would involve severing his connection with Watseka’s tribe and taking up life anew in a civilized community. Under these circumstances the couple separated by mutual agreement, “in perfect friendship,” according to Hubbard. His account of the transaction is entitled to entire credit, yet one can readily imagine that it was dictated more by the strong-willed husband, member of the dominant race and sex, than by the submissive wife. Viewed from any angle it was a hard situation, and Watseka doubtless had the sense to perceive that acquiescence in her husband’s wishes was the only course open to her.

The “Hubbard trail,” over which Hubbard carried on his fur trade during these years was, of course, but another name for the Vincennes Trace. (The Vincennes Trace was a great thoroughfare leading into Chicago from the south. An extension of the road west of the line joined the Vincennes-Chicago State Road at Bunkum, the site of Hubbard’s old trading post.) From Chicago it ran southward a few miles west of the state line, passing through the towns of Blue Island, Crete, Grant, Momence, Beaverville, Iroquois, Hoopeston, Myersville, and Danville. From Bunkum (or Iroquois) to Chicago it was identical with the Potawatomi trail. During the pioneer period it became a great highway of travel and traffic between the Wabash country and Chicago. In 1834 the legislature caused a state road to be laid out between Vincennes and Chicago. The commissioners who located it tried hard to get a straighter line and better ground than the Hubbard Trail, but were forced to follow the old track with but little deviation. It was marked with milestones, and was commonly known as the State Road. With the coming of the railroads the old state road was superseded and abandoned, but within the city of Chicago its name still survives in that of modern State Street."

From Hubbard's autobiography:
"During the year 1822 , I had established a direct path or track from Iroquois post to Danville, and I now extended it south fom Danville and north to Chicago, thus fully opening Hubbard's Trail from Chicago to a point about 150 miles south of Danville.Along this trail I established trading posts 4- 50 miles apart. This trail became the regulary traveled route between Chicago and Danville and points beyond, and was designated on the old maps as "Hubbard's Trail."
County: Iroquois

Historical Society: none provided

Dedication Date: unknown

Location: on the N side of 2200n Road, E of Main St. in Iroquois, IL

Website: Not listed

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