Kaskaskia Illinois | Randolph County, IL
A One time Capitol of Illinois has been Destroyed by Flooding Several Times!
Situated on Kaskaskia Island in the Mississippi River, just west of Chester. Kaskaskia Island is the only portion of Illinois located west of the Mississippi River. Illinois and Iroquois Indians were early inhabitants of the area; the village is named for one of the tribes of the Illinois confederation.
The original settlement (now underwater) was founded in 1703 as a Jesuit mission and developed as a French trading post and a farming community. Initially incorporated as a town by the French in 1725, it was granted special rights by King Louis XV of France.
A French built Fort Kaskaskia (1733) was destroyed in 1766 by villagers when the British occupied the region. In 1778 George Rogers Clark captured it for the United States. Kaskaskia became the capital of the Illinois Territory in 1809; after Illinois achieved statehood, Kaskaskia briefly served as the state capital (1818–20) until the administrative centre was transferred to Vandalia.
Two tales that first appeared at the end of the 19th and first years of the 20th century claimed that Kaskaskia was destroyed because of a curse, but the accounts are contradictory, one attributing the curse to an angry priest and the other to a murdered Indian. The stories are filled with gross inaccuracies and are revealed as journalistic fictions, although they do incorporate a few folktale elements amidst a forest of modern misrepresentations.
The original village (incorporated 1818) was, beginning in 1844, gradually inundated as the Mississippi River changed its course, creating the island. The island was completely cut off from the mainland with the great flood of 1881, and by the early 20th century the remainder of the original settlement had disappeared. The name was transferred to the present village, a little to the south. The village was again devastated by flooding in 1973 and 1993 but was rebuilt each time.
Today, only about 14 people live in the village. There are perhaps 60 more who live in farms in the vicinity. The change in the Mississippi's course has left new Kaskaskia and the surrounding land on the west side of the river. It is still part of the state of Illinois, but it can only be reached on roads passing through Missouri.