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.  For copyright permission please use the provided email (bottom of the site). 

~New Information added march 2015~


 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
          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 a Menominee named Cynthia Sashos (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 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 letters, school records, birth documents, census records, government documents, etc. exist to confirm this.   
      As presented below the Menominee's own family tree shows a Margaret Robinson (Makaynett), her husband John G. Kittson, and their six children.  Unfortunately, major flaws exist with the information provided.  As firmly supported by historical records, a Mary Robinson (Hau-ka-wau-bie) was married to John G. Kittson and produced only some of the offspring represented in the family tree.  Mary Robinson (Hau-ka-wau-bie) who was of Menominee blood was the daughter of So-shot-carron, and not Chief Alexander Robinson.  Supporting evidence can be found on page 280 of Wisconsin Creoles, Kittson Family History in Canada, online genealogy sites (ancestry.com,etc)
     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 no firm documentation exists, perhaps the only way to solve this question is  through DNA tracing.  Descendants from Alexander Robinson's second wife Catherine do live today (as well as family DNA from other sources).  A comparison of DNA could provide a grounded answer.  Especially since the procedure is affordable and accurate. 

       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.  It was created to commemorate those family members buried in the cemetery, not just Alexander Robinson.
    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.  It is believed more burials do exist here (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, 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; Dunkley's Grove and Robinson Family Cemetery, 1958, CCFD Collection, Daley Library, UIC).  As documented, some graves have been identified. 
     Being a formally identified historical attraction, the area is under thorough supervision by the Trail Watch, FPD Police, Stewards, Naturalists, and Community Residents.   Legal ownership belongs to the CCFD and is maintained on a regular schedule.  The site is officially recognized and documented by the
Cook County Forest Preserve Preservation Plan .
     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. 
     The fourth photo is off a letter written by John Morrill (Landscape Architect) regarding the location of the tombstones and original land patent.  Proof of all items' preservation.

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.
In1921 the cemetery was legally purchase from her possession.

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

 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


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 inebriated 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 received 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 own original copy is currently held by the Cook County Forest Preserve in River Forest, IL .  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 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
    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 group insisted they were of the Sashos line (more specifically Alexander Robinson's first wife Cynthia).  They believed Chief Alexander Robinson and his first wife Cynthia Sashos had one child (a daughter named Margaret) who was left out of the 1848 partitioning of the reserve. 

Their movement ended after being educated on the Lomax v. Pickering Cases, and lack of evidences supporting their connection to Alexander Robinson.  Despite this,  efforts to establish a genealogical connection continue today (as advertised on heyevent.com/event/847369385319510/archaeology-preservation).  

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 correctly 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