submitted by Lynn McCleary, January 16, 2008

Death of Mrs. LeClaire – Her Interesting Career.

Mrs. Marguerite LeClarie, the pioneer female settler of Davenport, died at her home in that city on Wednesday morning at 8:30 o’clock, at the age of 74. The Democrat give the following interesting particulars of her life:

    Mrs. LeClaire was born at Portagedes Sious, St. Charles county, Mo, Oct. 16, 1802. She was the daughter of Antoine LePage, a Canadian, and the grand-daughter of the Sac Chief Acoqua (the Kettle), the leading chief of his nation. Her early life was spent in her native village, where her education was superintended by one of the orders of nuns, under whom she studied French and English.

    In 1820, she was married to Mr. Antoine LeClaire, in Peoria, who was then acting as interpreter between the Indians and the government, and frequently accompanied her husband on his trips among the Indians in Arkansas, whom he was sent to watch, when acting as scout or interpreter for the government, during seven years. In 1827, she returned with him to Ft. Armstrong, on Rock Island, where he formerly acted as interpreter under Capt. Davenport, and was present in 1832 when the treaty was made by which the United States purchased of the Sac and Fox tribes, the territory west of the Mississippi river. The spot where this treaty was made was the head of Eighth street, where the railroad buildings now stand. It was at this treaty that the Chief Keokuk made a reserve of a section of land, a mile square, which is now the heart of the city of Davenport, and donated it to Mrs. LeClarie-requiring as only condition that her husband should build his house on the very spot then occupied by Gen. Scott’s marquee.

    In 1833 Mr. LeClaire erected a small building near this spot, and that spring Mrs. LeClaire became a resident of Davenport. Afterwards Mr. LeClaire build a log story and a half house on the site of Gen. Scott’s tent. The house was removed and the mound leveled, twenty-one years after, to give place to the C., R.I. & P. freight house. Some of the tribes, Poweshiek being their chief, continued to make this their headquarters till 1834, when all left for the Cedar river. Mrs. LeClaire could speak their language, as well as a half dozen other dialects, and rendered most valuable assistance to her husband, who in 1833 was appointed postmaster here, and also Justice of the Peace, to settle all matters of difference between whites and the Indians. After his marriage Mr. LeClaire officiated as interpreter at no less than eight treaties with powerful tribes of Indians.

    In 1855 the fine mansion on the hill just east of Farnanm street, was completed, and the home below the hill was vacated for it, and there Mrs. LeClaire has lived ever since, up to the hour of her death – her husband having passed away beneath its roof on the 25th of September 1861.

    During her residence here, and before and since the death of her husband, delegations of the Sac and Fox Indians visited her place every year, where they were always made welcome, entertained as long as they wished to remain, and when leaving, always carried away as a free gift, what necessities they required – corn, flour, etc. These sons of the forest will miss her and mourn her, for she was ever a kind benefactor to them.

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