With this marker we honor Captain Jean Baptiste Hamelin and the citizens of Cahokia for their sacrifice, and the role they played in the American Revolutionary War. In the latter days of the Revolutionary War, both American and British had ambitions to control the Mississippi River transportation route. In May 1780, the British attacked all the Mississippi river towns, including Cahokia.
In retaliation, Captain Jean Baptiste Hamelin led a group of Cahokians against the British Fort St. Joseph in Michigan. Hamelin's forces captured the British traders and trade goods and headed for home. A party of British caught up with them on December 5, 1780. Hamelin's forces suffered casualties and some were taken prisoner; others escaped back to Cahokia. Captain J.B. Hamelin lost his life fighting for the fledgling American Country.
Jean Baptiste Hamelin was from a prominent French-Canadian family who had arrived in Canada in the 17th century. His forebears were Seigneurs in Grondines, Quebec. Several generations of Hamelins became fur traders and voyageurs and had deep ancestral roots in Michilimackinac, MI and Cahokia. J.B. Hamelin served in the Second Canadian Regiment of the Continental Army, until he was recruited to serve with George Rogers Clark in Cahokia in 1779.
The Hamelin home site was discovered and excavated by the Illinois Transportation Archaeological Research Program (ITARP) in the spring of 2007. The home site was occupied around 1760-1780, and included period 'Poteaux En Terre' (post-in-ground) structures identified as a dwelling, barn and outbuildings.