Sumner “Hawkeye” Phelps and his brothers formed a fur-trading operation called S.S. Phelps and Company, located out of Yellow Bank (Oquakwa) Illinois, just south of where the Iowa River meets up with the Mississippi. Phelps and his brothers developed a strong working relationship with the Meskwaki tribes who lived on the shores up and down the Great River, but after the Black Hawk War of 1832, all of the Sauk and Fox tribes were forced westward, settling on the many tributaries of the Mississippi throughout east-central Iowa. It’s believed that Sumner Phelps was the first white man we know by name to connect with the Meskwaki tribes in Johnson County – circa 1832.
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