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 in some form from this educational site.  For copyright permission please use the provided email (bottom of the site).   Feel free to email your own findings.  If the sources are credible your submission will be referenced to you.  Together we can further shape an accurate history of Chief Alexander Robinson's historic reserve Cook County, Illinois.


 Now available free of charge...

To access Click on the following link

~A printable pdf is available at the bottom of the site~


 A. T. Andreas (1882), History of Cook County
 AT Andreas, History of Cook County, 1882.
          Andreas' historic account provides some basic insight into the events surrounding Alexander Robinson's life.  Although errors exist it is one of a few historic secondary sources often referred to.  It should be noted that Andreas was not a researcher or author.  He was a publisher who employed editors to research and write his works.  Another biographical sketch written by  author Rufus Blanchard (Discovery and Conquests of the North-west, circa 1880) provides some good information on Robinson's life.  However, as with Andreas' piece some mistakes exist.   The most defined and researched description comes from Henry Higgins Hurlbut's, Chicago Antiquities (1880). 
        One area not included in Andreas' biography is that he  had two wives (Henry Hurlbut, Chicago Antiquities, 1880.).  His first spouse was said to be a Menominee named Cynthia Sashos (no mention of this union exists in any primary documents).  She was buried at 95th and Irving in Chicago (Henry Hurlbut, Chicago Antiquities, 1880.).  This was an Indian burial ground since destroyed.
     Although it was historically documented (F. Vesper Manuscript, Schiller Park Historical Society; Henry Hurlbut, Chicago Antiquities, 1880.) that they had no children, a rumor surfaced (1991) that a daughter was conceived.  Speculatively, this source stated her name was Margaret (Makaynett).  Unfortunately, no primary documentation in the form of personal or formal letters, school records, birth letters, census records, government documents, etc. have been uncovered to confirm this yet.  Regardless, the search for material continues.     
      More a  donated family tree to the Franklin Park Public Library does depict Margaret Robinson (Makaynett), her husband John G. Kittson, and their six children.  Curious though, as documented in historical records a Mary Robinson (Hau-ka-wau-bie) was married to John G. Kittson, and produced only a few of the offspring represented in the family tree.  Further, Mary Robinson Hau-ka-wau-bie (who was of Menominee blood) was the daughter of So-shot-carron, and not Chief Alexander Robinson (Wisconsin Creoles, Les Rentmeester, 1987, 280.)
     Further complications include a Minnesota probate case from 1896 between  Margaret Robinson and the estate of Norman W. Kittson.  In the case Margaret Robinson declared that she was married to the millionaire tycoon Norman W. Kittson  (John G Kittson's brother) on May 15, 1833.  She produced two children with him.  To support her claim she provided the court with a marriage certificate containing the names of  witnesses and the priest who wed them.  After two years of trial the case was dismissed due the Margaret's falsification of the marriage certificate and other facts (Kittson was not Married, New York Times, March 4, 1896).
    As written by Henry Hurlbutt's published work Chicago Antiquities (1880), "Mr. Robinson, we understand, was the father of 14 children all I think by his second marriage." 

                                                            Menominee Family Tree, Franklin Park Public Library, Email Correspondence, 2013.

       Robinson's second wife was named Catherine Chevalier. Together they had 14 children.  The two were wed in Peoria, Illinois on September 28, 1826.  Their license can still be viewed at the Peoria Court House in Peoria, Illinois.  Both Alexander and Catherine are buried in the Robinson Family Burial Ground 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, The Newberry Library.).


Indian Name
    Alexander Robinson was also known by his Indian name Chee-chee-pin-quay or Chee-Chee-bin-quay.  The name meant "blinking eyes or squinter," and was attributed to his poor eye site.  

            Virgil Vogel Collection, Photocopied Photo, The Newberry Library, Chicago.
Robinson Family Burial Ground

                                                                                                                                Peter T Gayford, photographs, 2012.
    The first photo is of the monument located at Robinson Burial ground.  Contrary to what many people think, this is not a 
tombstone.  The boulder is actually an informational marker which sits on the reserve's original property line.  It was erected to commemorate all persons buried in the cemetery.
    The second photo is of the monument from a distance of 25 feet.  Behind it is where the original cemetery rests.   As of 1945 only 11 identifiable graves existed of which five had headstones.  It is believed more burials do exist (babies that did not survive, etc.). The five remaining brittle marble stones were  placed in a warehouse by the Cook County Forest Preserve to protect them from vandals.  Much like Bachelor Grove Cemetery in Midlothia it was under repeated attacks.  In their absence the current monument was placed   (interview of Robert Manns by Virgil J. Vogel, 1960's, Virgil Vogel Collection, The Newberry Library; Dunkley's Grove and Robinson Family Cemetery, 1958, CCFD Collection, Daley Library, UIC).  
     The third photo is of the entrance from East River Road.  Farther back in the woods next to the old lane (large trail) was where the Robinson farmhouse stood. 
     The fourth photo is of a letter written by John Morrill (Landscape Architect) regarding the location of the tombstones and original land patent.  Proof of all items' acquisition by the FPDCC.

                                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.
                                                                                                                                               Public Domain, accessed 2009.

   In 1898 the cemetery was deeded to Anne Kleinkuff  who was a niece of Mary Robinson Ragor.
In 1921 the cemetery was legally purchase from her possession.

Robinson Reserve, Cook County Tract Department, Chicago, Illinois.
  Robinson  home in the Cook County Forest Preserve west of the burial ground.
 Virgil Vogel Collection, Newspaper Clipping, The Newberry Library, Chicago.

 Letter from forest Preserve District discussing location of head stones and original land patent.

Correspondence Dunkley's Grove and Robinson Family Cemetery, 1958, Cook County Forest Preserve Collection,
Special Collections,University of Illinois at Chicago Library, FPDCC_03_05_0057_1431_001

                                                                                                            The FPDCC regarding Alexander Robinson's 1843 land patent.
                                                                                                                                                    FPDCC, FOIA Request, 2015.

 Supporting the FPDCC's acquisition  of
Alexander Robinson's 1843 federal land patent.
  It was acquired
legally circa 1918 through the purchasing of reserve lands.
FPDCC, FOIA Request, 2015.


Mary Robinson Ragor

Virgil Vogel Collection, Newspaper Clipping, The Newberry Library, Chicago.

    Mary Robinson was Alexander and Catherine Robinson's daughter (Pottawatomie line). She lived until 1927 and was the last descendant buried in the Robinson's family cemetery (in a metal casket).  She was 100 years old when she passed away.  As suggested (newspaper articles, historic interviews, etc.) she was well known and respected figure.  Mary 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 was the Robinson home, farm, and cemetery.   A settlement of roughly $25,000 was awarded to the family and other persons claiming ownership.   Reacting to this the Ragor family petitioned the Cook County Forest Preserve District.  They claimed Alexander Robinson's 1843 land patent guaranteed their ownership of the land forever.  In response, the courts turned down their complaint (Pickering versus Lomax - 1899 - Supreme Court) but allowed a compromise (L.R. 484  Cook County Court Records, Daley Plaza, Chicago).  The compromise allowed Mary Robinson to remain on her farm until she pass away
    During the 1940's a second dispute over residency took place.  As before they won the right to stay on the farm (L.R. 484, Cook County Court Records, Daley Plaza, Chicago).  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 intoxicated condition). 

    The above letter from Roberts Mann in 1952 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.  

Robert Manns, Cook County Forest Preserve District, 1952.

Burned farm house, 1955
Virgil Vogel Collection, Newspaper Clipping, The Newberry Library, Chicago.

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

Indian Highlands, Cook County Tract Department, Chicago, IL.


   United States/Indian Treaties


   http://uwdc.library.wisc.edu/collections/History/IndianTreatiesMicro, Public Domain, accessed 2009.

The two major treaties that Alexander Robinson helped negotiate for the United States included the Treaty of Prairie du Chien (1829) and Chicago (1833).  As payment for his help with the Treaty of Prairie du Chien Robinson was granted a 1280 acre reserve.  The land was located off the Des Plaines River in Township 40, Range 12 East, 3rd Prime Meridian 
 (Cook County, IL).  For helping with the Treaty of Chicago in 1833 he was awarded an annual pension and $5000 in lieu of another reserve in Wisconsin.  
    Interestingly,  it can be strongly speculated that Alexander Robinson was an opportunist playing both sides of the fence.  Further evidence 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 brothers to sell their lands to the United States.  In turn, for his loyalties to the United States of America, he received a 1280 acre reserve on the Des Plaines River.  The 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 
Alexander Robinson Land Patent, 1843, Department of the Interior, Virginia.

    In the year 1843, Alexander Robinson received his official land patent.   The reserve was known as 419A by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  His land patent was  6 pages in length and signed by President John Tyler.  Above are three reproduced pages from Robinson's 1843 land patent.   A reproduced copy of the full land patent can be viewed at the Schiller Park Historical Society and The Newberry Library.   An original can be located at the Department of Interior in Virginia.  Alexander Robinson's personal copy is safeguarded by the Cook County Forest Preserves.  It was legally obtained during the purchasing of lands.   Although the document is well worn, it's  still legible.

                                                                                       Survey map of the Alexander Robinson Reserve
  BIA Archive, 419A reserve file, National Archives, Maryland.
1847 Partition/Conveyance of the Robinson Reserve


                                                                                  BIA Archive, 419A reserve f
ile, National Archives, Maryland.

              BIA Archive, Miscellaneous Deeds, National Archives, Maryland.

    In 1848 the Alexander Robinson Reserve was legally conveyed and partition.  The partition was undertaken by Alexander Robinson's son Joseph (the Pottawatomie line).  In 1877 President R. B. Hayes' endorsed the partition.  As a result of his retroactive endorsement all requirements of the 1843 land patent were met in full (as supported by Pickering Vs. Lomax 1899 Supreme Court Decision). Simply put, the land was no longer to held in trust.  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 The Newberry Library.  Take note of President R. B. Hayes' Endorsement

    Following the partitioning of the reserve, Alexander Robinson wrote President Franklin Pierce to ensure parcels of land could be conveyed and sold off whenever desired.  This occurring without approval from the Office of the United States President.
BIA Archive 419A Reserve File, National Archives, Maryland.

                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 granted 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
    From 1991 - 2012, members of the Wisconsin based Menominee Tribe launched a movement to regain 213 acres of land in the old Robinson Reserve.  The fascinating story can be found through the following link.

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.


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 correctly to the Author Peter T. Gayford correctly. 

Have a history question about the Alexander Robinson Reserve?

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