Kaskaskia, Illinois

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United States > Illinois > Randolph County > Kaskaskia

History

Kaskaskia was already a village inhabited by the Kaskaskia Indians when French Jesuit priests established a mission there in 1703. France claimed the territory by virtue of the expedition of Marquette and Joliet in the seventeenth century. Kaskaskia (and all of present-day Illinois) was originally part of Quebec until the Mississippi River Valley was annexed by Louisiana on 27 September 1717.[1] During its time as a French possession, Kaskaskia was the largest town in Illinois.[2]

The French ruled Kaskaskia from 1719 to 1763, when they lost it (and all of their territory east of the Mississippi River, except New Orleans) at the end of the French and Indian War.  The British held Illinois and Kaskaskia until July 4, 1778, when American General George Rogers Clark captured the town without firing a single shot.[3]

Americans started arriving almost immediately, and many of the French speaking colonists left the town to settle in Missouri (then under Spanish control) or in other French colonies. By the 1810 U.S. Census (the first surviving American census for Kaskaskia), there were far more Americans in the town than Frenchmen.  The transformation from French colony to American city was so complete that the area is today called the American Bottom.[4] Two years later, though, the capital moved to Vandalia and in 1839 to Springfield.  When the capital moved, Kaskaskia lost its importance.  People left the town and it soon became an irrelevant farming community on the edge of Illinois.  The town was struck a crippling blow in 1881 when the Mississippi River changed course and buried Old Kaskaskia.[5] What remained of the town became an island and one of the few parts of Illinois that lies west of the Mississippi River.

Today Kaskaskia barely exists. In the 2000 census, it had 9 citizens.

Boundary Changes

Record Loss

Resources

Cemeteries

Church

The Church of the Immaculate Conception was a Catholic parish established originally as a Jesuit mission among the Indians in 1695 that had moved to the current site of Kaskaskia in 1703. It became a full parish in 1719.[6] The parish register is the best available record for genealogical information before the early 1790's and the arrival of a large influx of Americans.  The parish register is available (in French only) in the following sources:

Court

Land

Local Histories

Maps

Military

Newspapers

Probate

Taxation

Vital Records

Societies and Libraries

Web Sites

References

  1. Belting, Natalia Maree. (1948). Kaskaskia Under the French Regime. Polyanthos: New Orleans, p. 16-17
  2. Belting, Natalia Maree. (1948). Kaskaskia Under the French Regime. Polyanthos: New Orleans, p. 38
  3. Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois. (1915). v. 1, p. 251-252.
  4. Norris, F. Terry. The Illinois Country--Lost and Found:Assessment of the Archaeological Remains of French Settlements in the Central Mississippi Valley, 1703-1763. Doctoral dissertation presented to Saint Louis University, 1997, p. 236.<ref>fckLRfckLRIllinois became the 21st state on 3 December 1818, and Kaskaskia was its first capital.<ref>Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois. (1915). v. 2, p. 315.
  5. Norris, F. Terry. The Illinois Country--Lost and Found:Assessment of the Archaeological Remains of French Settlements in the Central Mississippi Valley, 1703-1763. Doctoral dissertation presented to Saint Louis University, 1997, p. 194.
  6. Belting, Natalia Maree. (1948). Kaskaskia Under the French Regime. Polyanthos: New Orleans, p. 10-12.