‘He sacrificed everything most dear to himself in order to protect the women and children of white pioneers in 1832.’
In the war at Paw Paw Gorge, the day after Stillman’s defeat, the Sauk Chief Black Hawk urged Shabbona to join forces with him to exterminate the white settlers from the frontier.
“If you will permit your men to unite with mine, I will have an army like the trees in the forest and will sweep the pale faces before me like leaves before an angry wind”, Black Hawk told him.
“Aye”, answered Shabonna, “but the pale faces will soon bring an army like the leaves on the trees and will sweep you into the ocean beneath the setting sun.”
After seeing Tecumseh fall during the Battle of Thames, Shabbona decided the white man was fully equal of the red man in courage and strength and greatly superior in his knowledge of war. He made a vow to the Great Spirit that, ‘if He would lead him to the path of safety then he would never again take up the tomahawk against the pale faces’. Shabonna escaped unhurt and sacredly kept his vow.
Near midnight Shabonna withdrew from Black Hawk’s war-dance, mounted his favorite pony, and together with his son, Pyps, began their journey through the night to warn the settlers along the line of Bureau Creek to DuPage. When he reached Hollenbeck’s Grove in Kendall County his pony faltered, trembled, and then fell dead so Mr. George Hollenbeck gave him another horse. As Shabbona continued his mission, he guarded General Atkins as he guided him in the pursuit of Black Hawk, as well as, bearing arms against his own people.
Later in life, and shamed, Shabbona was tried and found guilty of aiding the enemy. His was stripped of his rank as Chief and treated as a traitor by his tribe and his race. He finished living his life in his home in Norman Township where he died of pneumonia July 17, 1859. He was 84 years old.
CHIEF (BENJAMIN) SHABBONA
1775 – 1859
One of the most compelling figures in Morris history and our friend.
He was a tall, muscular bear of a man (his name meant “Built like a bear”), and was born into the Ottawa tribe. In 1800 he married the daughter of a Pottawatomie Chief and thus became a Chief of that tribe. They made their home along the Illinois River. He was a friend and often called a “hero.” You can still hear his named mentioned and his story talked about among the residents of Grundy County.
WIOMEX OQUAKA SHABBONA
1778 – 1864
Wiomex was born in 1778 to a Chief Indian of a Pottawatomie tribe. She married Chief Shabbona at around the age of 22. Together, they had several children and lived within the Grundy County area. The most convincing information we have on her is that she was a large woman, weighing around 400 pounds, and she was found dead by drowning in a few inches of water in Spring Creek where it emptied into the Mazon River at a point where the Mazon makes a sharp turn reaching almost to Pine Bluff Road. She is buried with Chief Shabbona and other family members at Evergreen Cemetery.
Dates of Burials in the Shabbona Plot:
07/19/1859 – Chief (Benjamin) Shabbona…..Age 84
10/23/1859 – Metwetch Shabbona…..Age 2
05/14/1860 – Mary Shabbona…..Age 26
12/01/1864 – Mary Oakens Shabonna…..Age 4
12/01/1864 – Wiomex Oquaka Shabbona…..Age 84
10/04/1865 – Indian Papoose…..Age 2 months
10/09/1865 – Indian Papoose…..Age 1
04/10/1866 – Shabbona Squaw…..Age 30