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  • Frank E. Stevens Collection

Frank E. Stevens was a lawyer, banker, newspaper editor and writer based in Illinois. Stevens was born and educated in Dixon, Illinois. He studied law in Sycamore, Illinois, and was admitted to the bar in 1877. Shortly after that he moved to South Dakota where he operated the Beadle County National Bank until 1890 when he moved to Chicago and worked in a brokerage business.

In 1907 Stevens returned to Sycamore, Illinois, where he published the Dixon Weekly Citizen and later the Sycamore Tribune. He retired from the newspaper business in 1928 and was elected mayor of Sycamore in 1931.

Governor Henry Horner appointed Stevens to the War Records Division of the office of the Adjutant General. Stevens was a historian who authored several historical works including The Black Hawk War. Stevens used the majority of the items in the collection while researching and writing The Black Hawk War.

The Black Hawk War (1832), although brief, has much significance for Native American history. In April, tribal groups of Sauk, Meskwakis, and Kickapoo, led by Chief Black Hawk of the Sauk, crossed the Mississippi River from Iowa into Illinois. Known as the British Band, they claimed lands under the 1804 Treaty of St. Louis, a treaty the whites disputed. Fearful, militia’s fired on the Native American delegation in what led to the Battle of Stillman’s Run, a resounding defeat for the militias. Black Hawk was eventually defeat, however, at the battles of Wisconsin Heights and Bad Axe. Historically, the Black Hawk War legitimized and strengthened forcible relocation of Native American tribes further west.

The finding aid for the Frank E. Stevens Papers, 1832-1939 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is located at: http://alplm-cdi.com/chroniclingillinois/items/show/610.

Photographs in this collection include images of several individuals connected to the Black Hawk War including Chief Shabbona, Major Isaiah Stillman, Brigadier General Milton K. Alexander, Colonel Nathan Boone, and Brigadier General Henry Atkinson. The collection also includes images of prominent Illinois residents from the mid and late 19th century including actress Mary Garden, William S. Hamilton, and Charles B. Farwell.

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