****History of Chief Alexander Robinson and his Reserve****


The following site has been created by Peter T. Gayford.  Mr. Gayford is a Trustee of the Edgebrook Historical Society, and has a Masters Degree in Library and Information Science. Since 2004, he has been actively researching the true history of Chief Alexander Robinson's Reserve in Cook County, IL.  As a result of his efforts,  a great deal of transparency has been established.  It is hoped that all interested persons can benefit from this educational site.


 Now available free of charge for your learning and pleasure.

Click on the following link to access. 
A PDF is available at the bottom of the site.

The History of 
Chief Alexander Robinson's Reserve



Letter verifying 
genealogical work

Historic Biography By A. T. Andreas (1882), History of Cook County
          This historic account on Alexander Robinson provides some basic insight into the events surrounding his life.  Although mistakes do exist with this description, it was one of a few most often 
referred to until more recently as more books were published on him.  It should also be noted that Andreas was not a researcher or author.  He was a publisher who employed editors to research his publications.  Another short biographical sketch was written by the author Rufus Blanchard in Discovery and Conquests of the North-west (circa 1880) also provides some good insight into events surrounding his life, but should be taken lightly as mistakes also exist.
        One area not included in Andreas' biography is that he had two wives.  His first  spouse was hypothetically a Menominee named Cynthia Sashos, although no documentation of Robinson's marriage to her exists.  She was buried at 95th and Irving in south Chicago.  This was an Indian burial ground since destroyed. Although it was historically documented (F. Vesper Manuscript, Schiller Park Historical Society) that they had no children, a recent rumor emerged that a daughter was conceived.  Speculatively, this source states her name was Margaret (Makaynett).  Unfortunately, no primary documentation in the form of letters, school records, birth documents, census records, etc. exist to confirm this or her relationship to Chief Alexander Robinson (Schiller Park Historical Society Collection).   Adding to this interesting scenario, all documented records show a Margaret Robinson (Hau-ka-wau-bie) being married to John G. Kitson whom the Menominee say they are desceneded from (see the illustration below).  If  this is the case, there is a problem with the collected geneaological information as Mary Robinson (Hau-ka-wau-bie) who was wed to John G. Kitson was the daughter of So-shot-carron and not Chief Alexander Robinson.  Thus, as based upon these facts, the Menominee are not descended from Chief Alexander Robinson.  Supporting evidence shown here below, on page 280 of Wisconsin Creoles, in Kittson Family History in Canada, and ancestry.com (through claiming descendants own threads). 

        This family tree was donated to the Franklin Park Public Library by members of the Menominee 
a few years ago.  This tree which depicts Margaret (Makaynett) being descended from Cynthia Sahsos 
and Chief Alexander (not shown here, but available at the Franklin Park Public Library) is wrong.
A Margaret Robinson (Hau-ka-wau-bie) was married to John G. Kitson and also the daughter 
of So-Shot-Carron as firmly documented. As a result, this family tree is genealogically incorrect. Thus, at
this point history is correct in recording that Cynthia Sahsos and Alexander Robinson had no children.

        Robinson's second wife was a women named Catherine Chevalier with whom he had 14 children.  They were wed at Peoria, Illinois September 28, 1826.  Their wedding licence can still be located and viewed at the Peoria Court House today (Peoria, IL).  Both Alexander and Catherine are buried at the Robinson Family Burial Ground (Cook County, Illinois,  Cook County Forest Preserve) along with their children and other descendants.  Catherine herself passing on August 7, 1860 (age 60), and Alexander April 22, 1872 (110 years exaggerated).  They were legally married for 34 years (interview of Robert Manns by Virgil J. Vogel, 1960's, Virgil Vogel Collection, Newberry Library).


Indian Name
    Alexander Robinson was also known by his Indian name Chechepinquay or CheChebinquay.  This name meaning "blinking eyes or squinter," due to the fact that he had poor eye site.  Although his name has also been referred to as Chechepinqua or Chechebinqua, this is incorrect as the "qua" interprets a feminine meaning ("quay" is masculine).  It is not known where his Indian name originated from  (interview of Robert Manns by Virgil J. Vogel, 1960's, Virgil Vogel Collection, Newberry Library)


Robinson Family Burial Ground


    The first photo is that of the monument/boulder located at the Robinson Burial ground.  Contrary to what many people think, this is not a grave marker.  This boulder is actually an informational marker that sits on top of the old reserve line/boundary.  
    The second photo is of the monument from afar.  Behind this boulder is where the original cemetery rests.   As of 1945 only 11 identifiable graves existed here, of which five had headstones.  To protect them from vandals and souvenir hunters, they were eventually placed in a warehouse by the Cook County Forest Preserve .  Much like Bachelor Grove Cemetery in Midlothia, the cemetery was under repeated attacks.  After many attempts to protect the cemetery with cyclone fences, etc. the stones were removed and monument put in their place  (interview of Robert Manns by Virgil J. Vogel, 1960's, Virgil Vogel Collection, Newberry Library).  To date, some graves have been identified.  Being a historical attraction, the area is under daily/nightly supervision by the Trail Watch, FPD Police, Stewards, Naturalists, and Community Residents.  
    The third photo is of the entrance to the grounds from East River Road.  Farther back in the woods next to the old lane (large trail) was were the last Robinson farm house stood.  

As pinpointed in this photo are the locations of the current
 boundary line monument 
and farm house site.

                                                            Robinson's graves circa the 1940s and late 1920s.

   In 1898 the cemetery was deeded to Anne Kleinkuff  who was a niece of Mary Robinson Ragor.
When the cemetery was condemned in 1921 the cemetery was removed from her possession.

 Alexander Robinson's  home in the Cook County Forest Preserve west of the burial ground.

Mary Robinson Ragor

                           Mary Robinson was Alexander and Catherine Robinson's daughter (the established Pottawatomie line). 
                           She lived until 1927 and was the last descendant buried in the Robinson's family cemetery (in a
                           casket).  Her year of birth was 1827, and as calculated was 100 years old when she passed away.
                           During her life it was suggested through newspaper articles, historic interviews, etc. that she was
                           a well known respected figure.  She did live on the Robinson farm over the course of her life.   
                                  In February of 1921, the Cook County Forest Preserve District legally condemned and 
                           purchased the remaining reserve lands (the Indian Highlands and another large parcel in the northern half
                          of the reserve) from Helen Ragor, a sister in law of Mary Robinson's.  Included with this was the Robinson 
                          home, farm,  and cemetery.   A total settlement of roughly $25,000 was awarded to the family and other persons 
                          claiming ownership.   In reaction of this, the Ragor family protested the Cook County Forest Preserve District.   
                          Their defense was that according to Alexander Robinson's 1843 treaty they were guaranteed the land forever.  
                          However, the courts turned down this complaint (Pickering versus Lomax - 1899 - Supreme Court; SEE BELOW) and a       
                          compromise was reached (L.R. 484  Cook County Court Records, Daley Plaza, Chicago).
                               This compromise allowed Mary Robinson to  remain  on their farm until she died.  Following this
                          case, one other concern of legality took place.   One in particular during the 1940's when the 
                          family again challenged the Cook County Forest Preserve to remain on their farm.  This legal battle
                          they won after a jury reaffirmed their right to stay as based off of the 1921 descision (L.R. 484, Cook 
                          County Court Records, Daley Plaza, Chicago).  Ultimately though, in 1955 the remaining family members 
                          were removed from the old farm house when it burned to the ground (due to family member 
                          Herbert Boettcher's drunken state). 

    The above letter from Roberts Mann in 1952 correctly states the Cook County Forest Preserve District's ability to legally condemn Mary Robinson's last reserve lands without approval of a president of the United States.  Again, this legal process is explained further on in this website


Burned farm house, 195

Plat of the Indian Highlands as it would have looked developed circa 1891.  
This development never took place.


   United States/Indian Treaties

    The two major treaties that Alexander Robinson helped negotiate for the United States government included the Treaty of Prairie du Chien (1829) and Chicago (1833).  As payment for persuading his Indian brothers to part with their land during the Treaty of Prairie du Chien, he recieved a 1280  acre reserve.  This was located off the Des Plaines River in Cook County, IL  next to what is now Harwood Heights (Township 40, Range 12 East, 3rd Prime Meridian).  For helping with the Treaty of Chicago in 1833 and the removal of his Indian brethren to west of the Mississippi River, he was given an annual payout (until his death) and $5000 in lieu of another reserve in Wisconsin.  
    Based on this information alone, it can be strongly speculated that Alexander Robinson was an opportunist "playing both sides of the fence."  Further supporting this position, is that Robinson's  status of "Chief" was nothing more than a fabricated scheme created by Indian Agent Dr. Wolcott at the 1829 Prairie du Chien treaty negotiations.  Through this maneuver, Robinson was able to help convince his Indian brethren to sell their lands to the United States government.
In turn, for his loyalties to the United States of America, he recieved a 1280 acre reserve on the Des Plaines River.
This truth being documented in an interview conducted by Lyman Draper with Alexander Robinson in the 1860's, and Elijah Middlebrook Haine's The American Indian (uh-nish-inpna-ba).

Robinson's Des Plaines River Reserve 
    In the year 1843, Alexander Robinson officially received his land patent for the reserve he was awarded through the 1829 Prairie du Chien Treaty.  This reserve was known as 419A in the files of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  This land patent was approximately 6 pages in length and signed by President John Tyler.  Above are three pages from a copy of the 1843 land patent housed in the BIA 419A reserve file located at the National Archives in Maryland. A copy of the full land patent can be viewed at the Schiller Park Historical Society and Newberry Library.   An original can be found at the Department of the Interior in Virginia.  Alexander Robinson's original copy was destroyed when the family home burned down in 1955.

                                                Survey map of the Alexander Robinson Reserve from when it was 
                                                originally surveyed (419A reserve file, National Archives). 
1847 Partition/Conveyance of the Robinson Reserve



    In 1848 the Alexander Robinson Reserve was legally conveyed and partition.  This partition was completed by Alexander Robinson's son Joseph, even though his father, brother,and sisters disagreed with his move (the Pottawatomie line).  Nonetheless, it was legally accomplished and recorded as require.  Following this, during President R. B. Hayes' presidency, the partition was endorsed (1877).  As a result of Hayes' retroactive signature upon this partition (in which conveyed deeds were produced), all requirements of the 1843 land patent were met in full (as supported by Pickering Vs. Lomax 1899 Supreme Court Decision).  Thus, all legal ties between Alexander Robinson's 1843 land patent and lands in the reserve were ended.  The above documents are from File 419A and Miscellaneous Deeds at the National Archives.  Copies can be viewed at the Schiller Park Historical Society and 

Newberry Library.  Take note of President R. B. Hayes' Endorsement in 1877 to the partition deed. 

    Following the partitioning of the reserve, Alexander Robinson and his children wrote President Franklin Pierce to ensure that parcels of land could be conveyed and sold off whenever they desired.  This being done without anymore approvals from the Highest office of the United States (419A Reserve File, National Archives).

    Pickering Versus Lomax (1899) = Retroactive Presidential
           Approval of Conveyances to the Robinson Reserve

173 U.S. 26, 19 S.Ct. 416, 43 L.Ed. 601
No. 123.
                                                           February 20, 1899

As a result of this case, it was justified that a President of the United States could at any time (prior to or retroactively) approve a land conveyance or lease of lands in the Alexander Robinson Reserve (as well as other Indian Reserves).  Once again, affirming that President Hayes' retroactive approval of the Robinson Reserve conveyance and partition of 1848 was legal and binding. As a result, all ties between Robinson's 1843 land patent and lands within the reserve were met in full and dissolved.  This case can be found through a Google search.

          Menominee Descendants' 
Land Claim
    As of 2012, the descendants of Chief Alexander Robinson are engaged in a legal crusade to regain 213 acres of land in the Robinson Reserve.  The descendants come from the Sashos line or more specifically Alexander Robinson's first wife Cynthia. The reason why they are seeking 213 acres of land is because they believe his unfounded daughter Margaret was left out of the 1848 partitioning of the reserve. This movement began in 1991.  In of June 2012 the descendants secured a complete title search of the reserve, which they feel shows that roughly 600 acres of conveyed land never received presidential approval.  Included below is a link to this story printed by the Chicago Sun-Times in 2010.

Chief’s descendants demand return of slice of Cook County Forest Preserve
 Records show government stole land from them, say heirs, who hope to build casino
           Tuesday, February 09, 2010, Chicago Sun-Times, Mark Konkol



More information on this fascinating history...
1. The National Archive in Maryland - File BIA 419A (complete history of the Robinson Reserve)
2. Department of the Interior - Alexander Robinson Reserve Land Patent (original)
2. The Newberry Library, Chicago, IL - Peter T. Gayford and Virgil Vogel Collections
3. Schiller Park Historical Society - History of Alexander Robinson and his descendants,
                                                             the complete BIA 419A reserve file from National Archives,
                                                             and a copy of Alexander Robinson's 1843 land patent.
4. University of Illinois at Chicago - Cook County Forest Preserve Collection
5. Chicago History Museum - Cook County Forest Preserve Proceedings (land acquisition records)
6. Cook County Tract Room and Court Records - Chicago, IL.
7. Menominee Descendants' Committee, Menominee Reservation, Shawano, Wisconsin.


1. Cited by Geoffrey Baer on Chicago Tonight (11/19/2012)
2. This Website is linked to WTTW's  Ask Geoffrey Baer's Chicago History Webpage.   http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2012/11/19/ask-geoffrey-1119
/site/archangeouilmettehistory/                Archange Ouilmette

/site/claudlaframboisereservehistory/       Claud Laframboise

/site/chiefbillycaldwellhistory/                  Chief Billy Caldwell

/site/pothierandmirandareservesccfpd/     Jane Mirandau and Victoire Pothier


 ****Copyright Notice****

Nothing on this site may be used for personal or corporate monetary gain of any type without the expressed written permission of its creator.  Information may be used for educational purposes 
only so long as it is referenced back to the Author Peter T. Gayford correctly. 
Failure to observe this copyright notice may result in legal action.

Have a history question about the Alexander Robinson Reserve?

Peter Gayford,
Jul 14, 2013, 7:56 PM