The history of no part of the West exceeds in interest that of the early settlements in Randolph County, Illinois. Civilization in the Mississippi valley here first found a permanent foothold. At a time when the feeble settlements of New England, fearful of the midnight war-whoop of the savage, clung to the valleys of the Connecticut and Merrimac; when a few Dutch Burghers at the mouth of the Hudson represented the weath and population of the state of New York, when Penn's colony on the banks of the Delaware was but an experiment; at a time when no Virginian had yet threaded the passes of the Blue Ridge, and all beyond was an undiscovered country, unpenetrated by a single English pioneer, a few Jesuit priests and French traders in fur, a thousand miles within the interior of the continent, a trackless wilderness stretching north south, east, and west, founded the old town of Kaskaskia. Other French settlements sprang up between Detroit and New Orleans; and France, to cement her growing power in the New World, within twenty miles of Kaskaskia, and still on the soil of Randolph County, began the contruction of a fort which at one time was considered the strongest on the continent.
From this citadel, Illinois was ruled. Soldiers marched from it to fight the English in Pennsylvania and in Canada. Its gates, which might have withstood long continued assaults, were opened peacefully by the stroke of a pen in the Old World one day in the year 1763, and the Friench flag was lowered before the standard of Great Britain. But a few years passed before another invading army trod the soil of the county. This time, a band of Virginia riflemen suddenly appeared at Kaskaskia, and wrested Fort Gage from the British commandant. On the capture of this post was based the claim of the Colonies to the Mississippi as their western boundary. After the Revolution, a flood of immigrants poured in from the country east of the Alleghenies. Kaskaski became the capital of the territory, and then of the State of Illinois. The most distinguished men of the West here began their public career. Her merchants controlled trade far and near, and sold goods to the shop keepers of St. Louis. The town is now lost to the floods of the river, and is barely remembered by modern descendants of the pioneers who lived there.