pages 59 - 61
THE FIRST CIRCUIT COURT. TRIAL OF NOMAQUE, ETC.
The first circuit court ever held in Peoria was on the 14th of November, A.D. 1825. John York Sawyer acted as judge, John Dixon as clerk, Samuel Fulton as sheriff, and John Turney as attorney-general pro tem. The grand jurors were John Hamlin, Stephen French, Abner Cooper, George Love, Elias P. Avery, Thomas Dillon, Henry Thomas, George Harlan, Isaac Waters, Augustus Langworthy, George Sharp, Seth Wilson, John Cline, George Cline, Isaac Perkins, John Philips, and Major Donaho.
At this term of the court, Nomaque, an Indian, was tried for the murder of a Frenchman, and found guilty, and sentenced to suffer death; but the case was carried to the Supreme Court, and the judgment reversed, and a new trial granted, as any one may see by looking into Breese's Reports, which may be found in most of the old law-offices. The Peorians had no jail, and they got tired of the expense of guarding Nomaque, and finally let him go. The jurors who tried him were Austin Crocker, Allen S. Daughertv, Alexander McNaughten, Walter Dillon, Henry Neely, William Woodrow, Peter Dumont, Aaron Reed, Abram Galentine, Josiah Fulton, Cornelius Doty, and David Matthis.
That this Indian was guilty of murder there has never been any doubt; but that his trial was conducted in a disorderly and shameful manner is apparent from the report of the case above referred to; but more irregularities than are there named, I have no doubt, occurred, for all the old settlers speak of it as a drunken proceeding. The record of the circuit court does not show what irreularities occurred, but the judge entered several fines against the lawyers for 'a contempt of court', without stating in what the contempt consisted.
Many stories have been told about this Indian by the old settlers, and some of them have been contradicted by others; and because I do not know the truth, I omit them all. The old settlers even disagree as to how he came to his death. He left the neighborhood of Peoria before I came here, and was never in the place afterward, to my knowledge. He probably was afraid of Peorians. When I came here the story had got to be an old one, and no body cared to punish him if he had come back; but every one that I heard speak of him spoke of him as a very bad man. He had no friends here.
A remarkable feature in this case is that William S. Hamilton, a son of the celebrated Alexander Hamilton, appeared in defense of the Indian. At the time of this trial I believe that he lived in Springfield, though at one time he lived in Galena. He never resided at Peoria, but was employed by the county commissioners of Peoria county, in 1826, to survey the town, now city, of Peoria, and did survey the first sixteen blocks; and he, or the commissioners for whom he acted, gave names to the following streets, which names they still bear: Water, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Liberty, Fulton, Main, Hamilton, and Fayette. He at the same time, under authority of the surveyor-general at St. Louis, surveyed the 'French claims' of Peoria; but as his survey was not approved, it has cut no figure in the many suits about those claims.
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