Sunday, April 7, 2013

Savanna, Illinois Pioneers

I learned a while back that Oscar's sister, Fidelia Emily Langford had married Lorenzo Dow Pierce and that they lived most of their lives in Savanna, Illinois. 
Lorenzo Dow Pierce was the son of Aaron Pierce and Harriett Bellows Pierce. Aaron Pierce is considered the founder of Savanna Illinois because he was the first white settler in western Illinois.
Below is from the City of Savanna:
Settled in 1828, and receiving its city charter from the State of Illinois in 1875, Savanna began as a river town. Savanna was originally a stopping point for steamboats during regular runs between Galena, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri. The evolving transportation lines also added to Savanna's success as a growing city. Settled by true pioneers, this land offered its citizens an opportunity to begin a new life, acquire land, and a chance to accumulate wealth from the river's steamboat and barge traffic. The story of these pioneers is the same story of the thousand lured to the far west with rumors of opportunity and fortune. It was for this reason that a young pioneer from Boston, Aaron Pierce, and his wife began their long journey west. For years these unsettled pioneers searched to find a haven of peace and plenty. They enlisted the services of Vance Davidson, a kind of soldier of fortune, who told them of a beautiful valley on the bank of the Mississippi. He had discovered this area on a recent journey from Rock Island to Galena. The Pierce family, led by Mr. Davidson, traveled an old Indian trail through the deep woods in an ox-drawn covered wagon. Upon arrival they found themselves atop a lofty pinnacle of land overlooking the Mississippi (this is currently the site of the former city hospital). Below was a valley lush with burnished-gold savannas and natural beauty that would later become Savanna's downtown. Aaron housed his family in an Indian hut for temporary shelter near what is now 1018 Main Street (near the Savanna Sabula Bridge). This area had river front access, plenty of trees and was full of wildlife. Aaron took advantage of the area's natural resources and began to sell cord wood to steamboats as fuel - - a cash industry for the early settlers. 
Also from the Find A Grave website we learn that Harriet Bellows Pierce was trained at a music academy in Boston and taught music lessons on the prairie.
Aaron and Harriet Pierce are buried in Savanna.The beautiful view that is described above is available from the Palisades State Park located on the bluffs of the river.

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