Becoming Iowa: The Saukie Indians and their Great Chiefs Black Hawk and Keokuk by Amer Mills Stocking

2021 marks the 175th anniversary of Iowa’s statehood. On December 28, 1846, Iowa became the 29th state admitted into the Union. Commemorative publications, programs, and other events are planned by the Iowa Department of Culture Affairs and communities across the state.

In preparation for the festivities, we will be blogging about different areas of Iowa history and culture through books and novels written by Iowans and about Iowa throughout the year. This week we’ll explore the book of historical poetry by Amer Mills Stocking.

title page
Title page “The Saukie Indians”

The Saukie Indians and Their Great Chiefs Black Hawk and Keokuk by Amer Mills Stocking was published in 1926 by The Vaile Company in Rock Island, Illinois. The historical poetry is accompanied by an introduction by Alice French, or better known by her pseudonym Octave Thanet. The author dedicates the book to “Mr. and Mrs. John H. Hauberg, whose interest in the Historic Past is exceeded only by their helpfulness in the Living Present and their hope for the Glorious Future.”

Amer Mills Stocking according to his book is a descendant of the Wampanoags. According to the Middletown Upper Houses: A history of the North Society of Middletown, Connecticut, from 1650 to 1800 by Charles Collard Adams, Amer Mills was born September 26, 1858 in Chester, Ohio to William Halsey and Mercy Amelia Talcott. Mr. Stocking married Adelia L Stickle on December 25, 1888 in McDonough, Illinois.

Amer Mills Stocking, Image from Find A Grave. Uploaded by David Smith.

He graduated from Ohio National Normal University in 1884. Soon after he joined the Central Illinois Conference of Methodist Episcopal Church. According to the Moline and Rock Island City Directory, Reverend Amer M. Stocking lived at 712 16th, Rock Island, Illinois in 1891 and 1892. He ministered at the First Methodist Episcopal Church.

He and Adelia had two daughters, Sarah Psyche born on November 30, 1894 and Mary Majorie born on March 1, 1907. Mr. Stocking died on March 31, 1943 in Macomb, McDonough County, Illinois. Mr. Stocking’s legacy was impressed upon his parishioners, readers, and the historical conversation. His other works are two books of poetry for children, Paraphrases and Bible Stories in Verse and Verse for Children and Child Lovers.

The two companies associated with publishing and printing this volume are The Vaile Company of Rock Island, Illinois and the W.B. Conkey Company of Chicago. The W.B. Conkey began around 1877 in Chicago. Over its development, it absorbed the Illinois Printing and Binding Company in 1890. In 1897, they build a plant in Hammond, Indiana which is represented in the Printer’s device found on the copyright page of the book by “The Hammond Press”. The LUCILE Project by Sidney Huttner is a website devoted to publishing history of one 19th century book, but he does discuss the W.B. Conkey in a brief of history.

image of printer's device, a pegasus.
Printer’s Device from the W.B. Conkey Company in The Saukie Indians.

Mr. Stocking provides a delightful writing style to engage with the history of Native American tribes and early settlers. Additionally, the poems are written in a variety of meters which allow the reader to not tire of not reading something other than prose.

The following are several pages from the book along with illustrated plats relating to the topics in the poems.

first page of the book
The Undiscovered Land
  • illutrations and text from the book

The book was well-received in the Quad Cities region. Below are articles from two local newspapers, The Daily Times and The Rock Island Argus.

“The Saukie Indians.” The Daily Times. Published May 12, 1928, page 3.

As we look toward celebrating the 175th Anniversary of Iowa Statehood, Mr. Stocking’s book will cultivate our knowledge of this early part of Iowa history.


Adams, Charles Collard, Middletown Upper Houses: A history of the North Society of Middletown, Connecticut, from 1650 to 1800 (New York: Grafton Press, 1908), 693.

Huttner, Sidney F. The LUCILE Project. 2010.

Moline and Rock Island City Directory, 1888-1891. Rock Island, IL: Frank Orff Publishing Co., 1891.

Moline and Rock Island City Directory, 1891-1892. Rock Island, IL: H. N. Stone and Co., 1892

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