Antoine LeClaire was born on December 15, 1897 in St. Joseph, Michigan. His father was French Canadian and his mother was Pottawattomie Indian, His mother had died when he was very young.
His father owned several trading posts and LeClaire grew up learning many Native-American languages and he’d also learned French and Spanish from his mother. Although LeClaire grew up among the Indians and had many of them as friends, he fought on the American side during the War of 1812. He was then captured by the British in Peoria and taken to a camp in Alton, Ill until the end of the war.
At the age of 20 he was chosen to be an interpretor for Col. George Davenport at Fort Armstrong.While he was acting as an interpretor at Fort Armstrong he became life-long friends with Davenport.
Also in 1820 he married Marguerite LaPage, the daughter of Sac Chief Acqua. The couple never had any children of their own but took in the son of LeClaire’s half-brother Alexis LeClaire. The boy(Louis Antoine) became very close to LeClaire and he often introduced him as “my boy”.
LeClaire was present at the Blackhawk treaty in 1832. At the signing of the treaty the Sac chief Keokuk gave a piece of property to Antoine LeClaire’s wife with the understanding that LeClaire build his home on the exact spot that Gen. Scott signed the treaty.The Sac and Fox gave LeClaire the land where the little town of LeClaire Iowa now stands. The Pottawottomies then gave LeClaire the land on the Illinois side where Moline now sits.
Even though LeClaire owned vast acres of land he didn’t have the money to encourage development. Some say it was also due to his relationship to the Indians.
In 1834 LeClaire started the first ferry service between Davenport and Stephenson, Ill later renamed Rock Island.
Antoine LeClaire died on September 25, 1861. His wife died on October 18, 1876. They were originally buried on the grounds of the St. Marguerite Catholic Church but later moved to Mount Calvary Cemetery.
Portrait and Biographical Album of Rock Island
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