Over 189 years ago, a creek side settlement turned deadly, creating a story of national significance, earning its place in American history.
Today, the LaSalle County Board will hold a debate on whether to keep its Shabbona County Park at a 1 p.m. meeting at the LaSalle County Courthouse on Etna Road in Ottawa.
In 1832, sixteen children, women, and men were murdered on the site by Native Americans near the Paw Paw area. In addition, two teenage girls were kidnapped in a ten-day, two-state chase that brought out the U.S. Army and a federal government ransom for their eventual safe return.
In 1877, a gray marble monument was built, 16 feet tall for the 16 victims buried in a mass grave below. The monument remains at Shabbona County Park today.
History relates the location to Potawatomi Chief Shabbona, who had tried to prevent the massacre by warning the three families there.
The killings triggered panic in the northern part of the state, causing settlers to abandon settlements and seek refuge in frontier forts, such as in Plainfield and Ottawa. The Indian Creek massacre was the most significant publicized incident during the Black Hawk War, according to one one historian.
LaSalle County Board member Jerry Myers of Streator appears to be leading the effort to close the park, stemming from a May committee meeting when he broached the idea of the full county board making the review and decision.
WSPY area LaSalle County board members include Chuck Borchsenius, Kindra Pottinger, and of Sheridan, Allen Erbrederis of Somonauk, Cathy Owens of Sandwich, Jerry Hicks of Marseilles, Robert Lee of Seneca and Douglas Stockley of Earlville.
The 119-year old park is one of only two LaSalle County parks and is located south of Earlville off Route 23. The park is south of Earlville and near the communities of Harding, Baker, and Leland. It also has picnic areas, shelters, and a fishing pond.
A second park, Catlin Park between Ottawa and Utica, may also be considered for closing at the board meeting Monday.