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Notable Phelps Family Members

Stephen Sumner Phelps, Pioneer

Born 1 in Palmyra, New York Aug. 1, 1805, d. Dec 23, 1880; m. Jan 31, 1828 to Phebe Chase, b. Jefferson Co., N. Y., Aug. 14, 1811 d. Oquawka, Ill., May 10, 1838, daughter of Eli and Betsey (Manchester) Chase. He m. 2nd, Nov, 1, 1838, Salome Patterson, b. Stowe, Vt., Jan. 27, 1814, d. Oquawka, Ill., Feb. 12, 1886, daughter of Lewis and Lucy (Russell) Patterson, of Windsor, VT.

Stephen Sumner Phelps

Mr. Phelps was one of the pioneers of Illinois, as noted in a brief account of his brother Alexis. After remaining in Sangamon Co. for four years, and Lewistown until 1826, he built a trading house near Starved Rock, to trade with the Pottowatomies, and in 1828 be joined his brother Alexis at Galena, in lead mining, and when he was on his way back after his family, suffered severely from lead poisoning. Later he removed to the Mississippi, where the family had bought the claim of a settler at Yellow Bank, and a few years after the name was changed by the government to Oquawka. Mr. Phelps established trading posts in Iowa and Missouri, and acquired great influence over the Indians, and served as major in the Black Hawk war in 1832 and was personally thanked by Gen. Scott for his great services.

Mr. Phelps was the first sheriff of Warren county upon its formation in August 1830, the first merchant, banker and mayor of Oquawka. Many interesting incidents are related concerning the experiences of Mr. Phelps, he was a famous hunter, and his skill as a marksman, added to his other qualities, and the fair treatment which he always accorded to the Indians, won their respect, and he was known throughout the Indian tribes as "Wah-wash-e-ne-qui" (Hawk Eye). Many of them were life-long friends, some remembering him even after an interval of thirty years. He furnished the funds to start the paper so widely known as the "Burlington Hawk Eye," named in his honor. From that the state of Iowa gained the name of the ''Hawk Eye State."

1 Excerpted from The Phelps Family of America and Their English Ancestors, (Save $200 by ordering through us.) By Oliver S. Phelps and Andrew T. Servin. (Get an updated index here.), Vol. 2 pp 1376-8.