When Illinois was admitted as a state in the Union in 1818, Schuyler county was included within the bounds of Madison county, and remained under this civil jurisdiction until Pike county, the first county north of the Illinois river, was organized.
From the time that Schuyler county was first visited by civilized men to the date of actual settlement there elasped a century and a half, and this period is forever a hidden mystery. Situated as it was upon the great natural waterway between the lakes and the Mississippi river, the country was first visited by Louis Joliet and Father Marquette in their memorable voyage of exploration in 1673 and, long before the land trails crossed the prairie, Schuyler’s border land was familiar to the hardy French voyageurs and the ever-zealous friars, who penetrated deep into the wilderness to carry the gospel to the savages. No palisaded forts were built in Schuyler county by these early French explorers, and there is no more record of their coming than of the migratory birds.
The site of the present city of Rushville and the wooded country adjacent to the north must have been a favorite camp ground for the Indians, for long after the country was settled there were to be found many fine specimens of arrowheads and stone axes along Town branch and McKee branch. On the McKee farm, north of town, we may yet see the trace of a cleared patch thru the woods, which has always been known as the old Indian trail.
In what is now the site of Rushville there was probably an Indian village or camp located between West Washington and Lafayette streets on the east side of Town branch. A monument which marked the location was a gnarled and knotted oak tree which stood on the southwest corner of the intersection of Jackson and Washington streets. Here in after years were found scores of stone arrowheads buried under the bark of the tree, where they had been implanted by the young warriors or children while at practice or at play.
As late as 1826 the Indians had their camp in Woodstock township, but with the coming of the settlers they moved northward and westward to the frontier. Old settlers of this region tell of their dramatic exit from the land which had long been their favorite hunting ground. For days before the northern march was begun, the Indians enjoyed a season of feasting and pleasure. Their dances continued thruout the long hours of the night, and, as the settlers looked out from their cabin doors on the wooded knolls at daybreak, they saw the Indians mount their ponies and ride away thru the valley, closely followed by the squaws with the tents and camp equippage, never more to return to the beautiful valleys and plains of western Illinois.