Medlar Flower

Kaskaskia

Kaskaskia Map
The French expansion into the United States began by way of the Great Lakes and its area rivers. In the 1680's, the expansion traveled along the upper Illinois River into the Illinois Country, where they established forts and missions. One such village was Kaskaskia. French traders and Jesuit Missionaries established it in 1703.
 
Kaskaskia is located in South Western Illinois. The town of Kaskaskia was built below the bluffs which now sit above the Mississippi River. The bluffs became the location of the French built Fort Kaskaskia which was constructed during the years of 1754-1763. This period was during the French and Indian War. In 1763 the Treaty of Paris was prepared in which France ceded all land east of the Mississippi to Britain and Kaskaskia came under British rule. Many of the inhabitants left Kaskaskia, Prairie du Rocher, Fort Chartes, and Cahokia and moved in large numbers to Ste. Genevieve which was still French territory. In 1766 the Kaskaskians destroyed the fort rather than have the British occupy it. Indications of Fort Kaskaskia can still be seen on the bluff and is now a state park.
 
The British built Fort Gage as replacement. It included a large stone building that had been used as a Jesuit mission until the British suppressed the religious order and converted the structure into a barracks for their use.
Kaskaskia Bell   The Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception was built in Kaskaskia. A 650lb bell was cast in La Rochelle, France in 1741 and sent by King Louis XV to be used in the Church.

During the American Revolution George Rogers Clark led an expedition across southern Illinois. On July 4, 1778, Clark surprised the British and liberated the town without firing a shot. In celebration, the Kaskaskians rang the parish bell, which became known as the "Liberty Bell of the West."

The local government broke down at the end of the American Revolution and Kaskaskia deteriorated into anarchy. In 1784 John Dodge, a Connecticut adventurer, and a group of bandits seized the site of the previously destroyed Fort Kaskaskia and improved it. They terrorized the villagers for several years afterward.
 
Kaskaskia served as an Illinois territorial capital and the first state capital of Illinois from 1818-1820. In 1844 a major flood destroyed parts of Kaskaskia. Continued flooding from 1844-1910 gradually destroyed the old settlement. During the flood of 1881 the peninsula which jutted into the river was cut off. The raging waters cut a new channel which effectively carried the tract of land across the river creating an island which now makes Kaskaskia the only part of Illinois laying west of the Mississippi main branch. In 1891 the church was relocated and the bell was found to be cracked. It was placed in a protected shelter in 1948 and can still be viewed in Kaskaskia.