Galena's Old Stockade on the Cobblestone Street

By Corey A. Edwards

Galena’s Old Stockade - Chief Black Hawk

- Chief Black Hawk -
unwitting architect of Galena’s Old Stockade

There was a time when Illinois was the disputed edge of the American frontier and Galena’s Old Stockade on the Cobblestone Street is a living reminder of those times.

Constructed rapidly in 1832 by frightened citizens, Galena’s Old Stockade was the first – and potentially last – layer of protection for area residents under the threat of displaced and angry native peoples during the Black Hawk War.

Black Hawk was the war chief of the Sauk tribe who spent a good portion of his life trying to protect his people’s lands, which were lost in a disputed treaty in 1804. During the War of 1812, he sided with the British against the US for this very goal – but to no avail. Twenty years later he tried again, leading his people out of the Iowa Territory and back into Illinois – sparking what was to be known as the Black Hawk War of 1832.

While the militia and army hunted for Black Hawk’s elusive band in the wilderness, the populace of Northern Illinois’ newer settlers were understandably panicked. There were no illusions about what Black Hawk’s intentions were, should he decide to confront the settlers with his men, so something had to be done to protect the women, children, and the infirm.

In Jo Daviess County, the response was to build a fort – Galena’s Old Stockade. Hurriedly constructed of huge oak logs cut from a nearby source, the stockade sprang up around the home of Amos and Sophia Gear Farrar, with the populace nervously awaiting the need to use it.

It never came.

Black Hawk and his people were eventually tracked down and chased through Northern Illinois to Wisconsin where, in August of 1832, the majority of them were massacred at the battle of Bad Axe. Black Hawk, himself, was captured and, counter-intuitively, treated as a semi-celebrity, his transcribed autobiography being one of the first, ever of its kind to be published.

After the Black Hawk War, Galena’s Old Stockade returned to service as a humble home, with various inhabitants over the years doing what they could to preserve its history. In 1941, Galena’s Old Stockade was turned into a tearoom and a museum and, in 1998, an extensive restoration was begun.

You can visit Galena’s Old Stockade on the Cobblestone Street Saturdays between 1pm and 4pm to learn to more about it and its place in American history.

Galena’s Old Stockade on the Cobblestone Street

208 Perry St.
Galena IL

Galena Lodging
There is a lot of history in Galena and Jo Daviess County and having a good home base for your Galena getaway is paramount – which is why we suggest a stay at Cloran Mansion Bed & Breakfast! Visit sites like Galena’s Old Stockade, then retire to your lush and welcoming accommodations at Cloran Mansion where we provide you with the kinds of amenities you can’t get elsewhere. Come visit and see!

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