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Historic Diaries: Marsh, 1834

Black Hawk's Home

Editor's Note:

Rev. Marsh writes here as though he expected his overtures to be rejected at Keokuk's village, and was merely going through the motions of offering them missionary services.

Black Hawk's home and personal life were recelled in a series of articles published in 1907 in the Burlington, Iowa, newspaper. You can read them in our online collection, Turning Points in Wisconsin History. Although written many years later, and therefore subject to lapses of memory or rose-colored recollections, they nevertheless succeed in putting a human face on the icon who populates our history textbooks.

Sat. [Aug.] 30th

Soon after breakfast I went to visit Pah-ship-pe-nos the head chief's lodge, as he is so considered by the people themselves although he was so constituted by the whites.

P. is an old man perhaps 60 years of age and quite fleshy. He appeared very good natured and cheerful. After some conversation I began upon the subject of religion but he immediately told the interpreter he did not want to hear anything about it. I however addressed to him a few solemn considerations, feeling that I should probably see him no more until I met him at the judgement seat.

After this I went and took leave of Ke-o-kuck, addressing him in the same manner. Before leaving the village I called at Black Hawk's lodge and it was such a specimen of neatness, good order and taste as I never before witnessed at any Indns lodge before. It was situated at the upper end of the village, and surrounded by a circular fence made of small poles. The area of this enclosure was four or five rods square, in the centre of which stood the lodge. The border was planted with melon cucumber vines which had been kept entirely free from weeds and between the vines and the lodge there was a small alley.

The inside of the lodge was kept admirably neat and in order, every thing in its place and the bottom as it had no floor, was hard clay.

It was very well furnished within for an Indian's lodge, and what I have never seen before, it was furnished with some dining chairs. I could not but admire this instance of rural simplicity, and desire that they might enjoy in this pleasant retreat the inestimable privileges of the gospel and civilisation. Black Hawk himself and wife being absent and only one son and daughter at home, I staid but a short time.

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