Important historical events of Old Kaskaskia:
Old Kaskaskia was founded in 1703 by fur traders and their Indian wives. Jesuits founded the first Immaculate Conception Church in 1714.
By 1718, boundaries had been set up for the Village of Kaskaskia and its adjoining Commons and Common Fields. Flour mills were set up and grain was being shipped up and down the Mississippi River. Kaskaskia was incorporated in 1725 and in the 1750 Fort Kaskaskia was built, but never completed, on Garrison Hill. After the Treaty of 1763 when the British took possession, the people of Kaskaskia burned the fort.
In 1771, the British abandoned Fort de Chartres, which was decaying, and fortified a Jesuit mission in the town of Kaskaskia. This mission was called Fort Gage and had a wooden stockade. Fort Gage became the major British military post in the American Bottom, and fell to George Rogers Clark in July 1778.
The Kaskaskia settlement grew with western expansion. In 1809, the territory of Illinois was established with Kaskaskia as its capital. By 1814, the population had grown to 2,500 and Illinois' first newspaper, The Illinois Herald, was printed in Kaskaskia. Kaskaskia was the first capital of Illinois when statehood was achieved on December 3, 1818. Shortly thereafter, in 1820, the capital of Illinois was moved from Kaskaskia to Vandalia. Kaskaskia, however, remained as an important link to western expansion. Floods were the downfall of Kaskaskia.
One of the largest was recorded in 1844, in which the water level reached a high of 44.3 feet above normal at St. Louis. As a result of this flood, all of Kaskaskia was five feet underwater. Many people moved away due to the damage caused by the flood, but many people remained. In 1881, the Mississippi flooded again and the Mississippi started to change its course by gouging out a new channel into the Kaskaskia River. Because the Mississippi River had a new channel, Kaskaskia turned into an island cut off from Illinois. With each succeeding high water period over the next few years, the erosion wiped out much of French Kaskaskia, otherwise known as "old town". The people who did no leave moved towards the center of the island. The new town of Kaskaskia was well established by 1893, and by 1916 all buildings of "Old Kaskaskia" were gone. The island cemetery was relocated on Garrison Hill. A levee 148 miles long was built to protect the island, but in 1973, the island flooded once again. With only 300 people left on the island, it flooded again in 1976. The record flood for the area was in the great flood of 1993. At this time only a few people remain and they are still trying to rebuild what they have lost.