George Washington Smith.

A history of southern Illinois : a narrative account of its historical progress, its people, and its principal interests (Volume v.3) online

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buttons, second grade ; and stripes for the third grade. The request was
granted and the results in the morale of the men since have proved that
it was a wise move. The change took place September 4, 1904, when
the lockstep was also discontinued, and the beneficial effects are dis-
tinctly apparent in the conduct of the men. Under his management
the prison has reached as near the ideal as possible with the appropria-
tions available and is equal to any prison in the United States. The
Southern Illinois Penitentiary was the first penal institution in this
country to adopt the grade system and discontinue the lockstep. At
the time this was done, the same was very unpopular with all prison
officials, but, at this date, many prisons are adopting the grade system.

September 6, 1860, General Smith was married near Clay City,
Illinois, to Miss Anna Quertermous, who died in 1885, the mother of
Byron S., Elliott P., George P., Emma C., Charles F.. and Mina C. All
are deceased but Emma C., who is Mrs. S. L. Bowman.


General Smith married his second wife February, 1886. She was
Mrs. Sarah J. Dickson, a daughter of Jacob Myers and a native of
Michigan. There were no children born to this union.

General Smith's success with his prison charge makes him ever a
busy man. When he feels like taking a vacation he reaches over and
gets hold of a new "batch of stuff" and the change of subject seems
to reinvigorate him and carry him on from day to day and from month
to month. He is a Master Mason and has been an Odd Fellow since
1868. His physique is a strikingly large one about six feet tall and
built broad proportionately. His weight is 299 pounds, his complexion
fresh and ruddy as that of a man in middle life and despite his ad-
vanced years, he still retains in much of their pristine vigor and splen-
did mental and physical qualities of his prime.

Miss EMMA REBMAN. In this day when the capacities of woman are
recognized in their infinite variety; when the industrial and the pro-
fessional spheres have been added to the domestic in the feminine uni-
verse; when the pedagogical world, particularly, is claiming the talents
of exceptionally able women not only for its obscure but its prominent
fields of activity in such an era it is with great satisfaction that the
historian can point to such intellectual leaders as the superintendents of
the Chicago and Cincinnati schools and the present incumbent of John-
son county and to many others.

Public interest in the subject of this article makes desirable a genea-
logical as well as biographical review of Miss Rebman's history. In
her paternal line she is of German ancestry, two of her great-uncles
having won distinction as Prussian soldiers in the Napoleonic wars and
later having helped to guard the ill-starred Bonaparte until his death
on the Island of St. Helena. The founder of the Rebman family in
America was John Frederick Rebman, who came from Germany in
1817 and settled first near Mocksville, North Carolina. He was a man
of superior education and a member of the Lutheran church. His
vocational pursuits combined farming and cabinet-making, in the latter
of which he was particularly skilled. In 1836 John Frederick Rebman
removed with his family to Montgomery county in Illinois, later chang-
ing his location to Union county and finally to Johnson county, the sub-
sequent home of the family. His wife, who in her girlhood was Miss
Margaret Setzer of near Mocksville, North Carolina, was also a descend-
ant of a German line. Their children were John, Elizabeth, Frederick
Augustus, Jacob and Andrew Rebman. The last two were volianteers
of Company I of the 120th Illinois Infantry in the Civil war, Andrew
Rebman giving his life for his country at Memphis, Tennessee, May
14, 1863.

The birthplace of Frederick Augustus Rebman, the father of Miss
Rebman, was in the environs of Mocksville, North Carolina. He was
born December 27, 1833, and was educated in the public schools dur-
ing his early years and supplemented this education by a course in the
Hillsboro Academy. In 1858 he was married to Miss Louisa Slack,
whose birthplace was in the vicinity of Vienna, Illinois, her natal day
being March 10, 1840. Her death occurred at her home near Vienna
on April 7, 1877. Frederick A. Rebman died March 29, 1879. To this
union seven children were given, all of whom have grown to maturity
except Lily, the youngest, who was born November 25, 1876, and died
January 9, 1877. Flora Isabel, the eldest, who is Mrs. Thomas D.
Carlton, resides in Johnson county; Milford Young Rebman is a suc-
cessful agriculturist; Emma, the superintendent of the Johnson county
vol. m 40


schools, is the subject of this biography, the details of her career being
given fuller consideration below : William Augustus who served in the
Spanish-American war, is now a farmer, Louise is assistant cashier of
the First National Bank of Vienna, Illinois; Thomas Frederick Rebman
is a well-known teacher and is deputy county superintendent of schools.

In the rural schools of Johnson county, Emma Rebman who was
born on the parental farm three and one-half miles from Vienna began
those intellectual pursuits for which she has become notable. She
sought further educational development in the Illinois Normal Univer-
sity at Normal, Illinois. Later she was graduated from the Valparaiso

From her earliest professional years Miss Rebman showed marked
ability as an instructor and as an administrator of public school affairs.
This was evident first in her rural school teaching, from which she was
called to the more prominent though not more arduous duties of the
village schools. Her executive ability presently brought her the appoint-
ment to the principalship of the Grammar Department of the city
schools of Poplar Bluff, Missouri. When it became necessary that she
accompany her younger brother on a western tour demanded by the
state of his health, her reputation in the pedagogical world was of such
a superior quality that her services were soon called into requisition in
the city schools of Phoenix, Arizona, where she taught for several years
and while there she took a very active part in the educational interests of
the southwest, delivering some of the principal addresses before the
Annual Arizona Teachers' Association.

While in the west, Miss Rebman took frequent opportunities for
traveling and made numerous extensive tours through the west and
southwest. Some of the interesting and valuable information thus
gained was incorporated in magazine articles written by Miss Rebman.

On her return to Illinois in the spring of 1910, Miss Rebman 's large
circle of acquaintances were glad to take advantage of the opportunity
of offering her an important office of public trust. She was elected
superintendent of Johnson County schools, by the largest majority any
nominee of the coiinty had ever received. The heavy duties of her office
have been discharged with exceptional efficiency and a rare quality of
discrimination which is the result of her wide experiences, keen peda-
gogical instinct and her logically practical mind.

Miss Rebman 's distinguished personality is one that is appreciated
not only in affairs pertaining particularly to the school but also in other
organizations. She is an intelligent student and critic of public affairs,
though by no means one of masculine affectations or one who is a militant
seeker of votes for women. Her economic theories are those of the Re-
publican party. In addition to her distinctly public relations and duties,
she finds time to lend attention to lend attention to both church and
club interests, being a member of the Methodist Episcopal church and
the Woman's Club of Vienna. She is also a prominent member of the
Rebekah lodge. In addition to these non-professional organizations, she
holds active membership in the National Educational Association.

PRIOR W. SUTHERLAND was born in Indiana ten miles from Rock-
ville on the twenty-second day of October, 1843. For sixteen years he
lived in this same county, with the brief interlude of two years spent
in the northern portion of the state of Illinois. In 1859 he came with
his parents to southern Illinois where they settled on a farm in Lukin
township. At this time the war cloud loomed dark on the horizon.
When it burst Mr. Prior was but seventeen years of age. Having lived


much in the open, and being sturdy of stature, he looked much older
so that he was admitted to the service of his country. He enlisted
in the Twenty-fourth Indiana regiment, company six, known as the
regiment of A. P. Hovey, a high private of the rear rank. During
three years the young soldier saw much active service. At the close
of hostilities, he returned to Lukin township and learned the father's
trade, that of the plasterer. On July the sixteenth, 1865, he was united
in marriage to Elizabeth Vandamant, a resident of Lawrence county.
Nine children were born to them, of whom two boys and three girls are
all that remain. The daughters are Amazetta, Ella and Delia. The
sons, H. C. Sutherland and Sherman Sutherland have been of much
assistance to their father in his agricultural interests. On the third
day of April, 1883, the wife and mother was called from her earthly
duties. Mrs. Sutherland was a woman devout in her religious beliefs,
a member of the Christian church as is her husband. Mr. Sutherland
is quite well known locally as a lecturer on religious subjects, sometimes
himself filling the pulpit. He frequently holds protracted meeting in
various parts of the country.

He is a man of strong convictions with decided views in politics as
well as in religion. He is a stalwart Republican of the old school,
a supporter of the administration, a "stand patter who stands pat."

On the thirtieth of January, 1887, Mr. Sutherland again assumed
the responsibilities of matrimony. The second Mrs. Sutherland was
Emma J Rigall of Lawrence county. She is now the mother of four
children: Rosamond, Bessie, Leona and Trissie. Mr. Sutherland has
been able to amply provide for his large family having besides a large
and growing business, a farm of proportions worthy to be called a ranch,
and this in the southwestern part of Lawrence county.

His father, Asa Sutherland was born near Frankfort, Kentucky, in
February of 1812. "When twelve years of age, with his brother's family
he located in Park county, Indiana. Here he grew to manhood and
learned the plasterers trade. On New Years day of 1835, he won in
marriage Mary E. Harlan, whose father came to Indiana from South
Carolina. The Harlan family had lived in the south for several gener-
ations, having come to America from Ireland before the Revolution. Mr.
and Mrs. Asa Sutherland were the parents of nine children of whom
Prior W., the subject of this sketch is the fourth in line. In 1859 they
left Indiana for southern Illinois where they spent the remainder of
their lives. At the beginning of the late war, Mr. Sutherland answered
the third call for volunteers, but was refused on account of his years,
being then something more than fifty years of age. Quite contentedly,
he plied his trade and tilled a bit of land until his death in February
of 1881. Mrs. Sutherland lived until her seventy-fifth year, passing
away in 1889. Both were followers of the Christian church in which
faith they reared their family.

The Sutherland family are direct descendants of the Scottish Duke
of Sutherland. Three sons of the Duke, so goes the tradition, came to
the Colonies in an early day and from them sprang the Sutherlands of
the new world, stronger and sturdier, in many respects than was the old
stock. P. W. Sutherland is therefore of Scotch-Irish parentage ; a
further fact of a rather unusual nature is that all the Sutherlands in
America trace back to that landing of the brothers at Charleston, S. C.,
before the Revolutionary war, and the same history applies to the Harlan
family landing pre-Revolutionary, and all of the name belong to the one
family of Harlans.


JOSEPH PICQUET. The spirit of daring and the love of adventure,
in combination with a remarkable zeal for the spread of their religion,
brought, during the period of exploration in America, a greater terri-
tory under the dominion of France than either England or Spain were
able to claim. From the days of Marquette and Joliet the great North-
west was the scene of remarkable activity on the part of the French,
and in particular were the Jesuit priests zealous in converting the In-
dians and establishing little centers of civilization throughout this great
stretch of country. It, therefore, seems especially fitting that when
Joseph Picquet decided to establish a Catholic settlement, he should
have chosen a site in this territory. It is a rare thing now when a town
can point to a man and say. ' ' He is our founder, ' ' but this is so in the
case of Saint Marie and Joseph Picquet. When he first rode through
this country on horseback there was not a house between Newton and
Olney. With the spirit of the old French explorers burning within him,
the young pioneer established the little Catholic colony, and then pro-
ceeded to build it up into a town. He built a sawmill, a flour mill,
founded a general merchandise business, secured a postoffice, and later
persuaded the railroad to run its line through the rapidly growing town.
Therefore he was not only the founder, but the builder of Saint Marie,
and the thriving city owes everything to the courage and energy, wisdom
and foresight of this wonderful man.

Joseph Picquet was born in Hagineau, Alsace-Lorraine, on the 17th
of March, 1816, the province being at that time a part of France. He
was the son of James Picquet, also a native of Hagineau, his birth hav-
ing occurred in 1791. He was a merchant in the little French city but
the wave of immigration that swept the province in the early thirties
caused him to turn his eyes toward America. He came to this country
and reached Saint Marie. The mother of Joseph Picquet was Cleophe
Schifferstine, and she was married to James Picquet in 1812. Twelve
children were born to this couple, of whom Joseph was the second child.

It might be of interest to quote from an old history a few words in
regard to the Picquet family :

"The American Revolution, followed by that in France, the Na-
poleonic regime, the Bourbon return and the establishment of the first
Republic served to direct the attention of the French people to Amer-
ica. The feeling was strong in Alsace and many from the province im-
migrated to America. Among others who shared this feeling was James
Picquet, Sr., and brothers Schifferstine and Huffman. The families
were well to do, but, desiring a freer air, determined to send some one
to spy out the land. Joseph Picquet, then a lad of nineteen, was chosen.
In September, 1835, he landed in New York. Ignorant of the language,
he worked nine months in a Philadelphia business house to gain this
preliminary education. In the early part of the following year he set
out on horseback in quest of the promised land. In 1836 he returned
to France and in July, 1837. came back with a colony of four families
and twelve young people, about twenty-five persons in all. Mr. Picquet
started the first store in 1838. In 1839 he erected a sawmill and later
a grist mill was added. This being the only one in the section it had
a patronage from a radius of forty miles. The settlement was known
as the 'Colonie des Freres, ' or the Colony of Brothers."

Joseph Picquet received a good education in his native land. He
first studied in the public schools of France and was then sent to the
Jesuit College, at Fribourg, Switzerland, where he remained from 1828
until 1833. As has been told above, he came to America in 1835, and
his trip out into the wilds of the west was taken the following year. On
this first trip he was in the little town on the shores of Lake Michigan


which has since grown into the great commercial center of the country,
Chicago. From there he rode 011 horseback all alone through the great
wilderness until he had located the spot that he thought most favorable
for his colony. The original land grant that he entered was in the
name of his brothers and called for eleven thousand acres of land. When
the little colony of French people first gazed upon the place that was
to be their future home, on that hot summer day, they were filled with
mingled joy and fear. The beauty and richness of the virgin country
won from them extravagant expressions of delight ; but, the strangeness,
the vastness, the loneliness of it smote them with an unreasonable ter-
ror. The young Picquet had a difficult task before him but his enthu-
siasm and courage in the face of all difficulties carried the day, and they
were soon as ardent in their devotion to the new country as he was.
The first thing was to build homes, so Joseph Picquet 's first building
was a lumber mill, then the flour mill was erected, and this mill was in
operation until 1860. Just as his grist mill was the social center for
miles around, so his store was the center of the life of the colony, and
when in 1838, he was successful in having a postoffice established
every weighty matter was first taken up in conclave held around the fire
in the combined postoffice and store. Here it was that it was decided
to change the name of the settlement from Colonie des Freres to
Picquetteville, and here also the plans were laid for an interesting event
that took place on the 28th of October, 1837, when Mr. Picquet and sev-
eral others took their "guns in hand" and going to a little knoll near
the home of Mr. Picquet dedicated the place to the Virgin Mary and
since that time the town has been known as Saint Marie.

Mr. Picquet is a devout Catholic and he was instrumental in estab-
lishing the Catholic faith in all this section. The first masses were said
in his house, and in 1841, the first church was built. This was a small
frame structure, known as the Church of the Assumption. Now the
parish consists of one hundred and thirty-five families, and in addition
to their beautiful church have a fine school, under the charge of the
Ursuline Sisters of Alton. The priest, Father Virnich, in the many
good works that he has been able to accomplish has always looked upon
Mr. Picquet as his main dependence, and even now goes to him for advice
and assistance in straightening out the affairs of his people.

Probably no man had a better knowledge of the Southern Illinois
country in its primitive days than had Mr. Picquet, for he was con-
tinually making trips through the wilds to interest the people in one
project or another. On one of his journeys he carried a money-belt
containing thirty thousand dollars, but with a good horse under him
and a gun over his shoulder he felt equal to defying any one. Many a
long ride did he take in his endeavor to interest the people of the sec-
tion in the proposed railway. The task required all of his native French
eloquence and enthusiasm and many a night did he spend with a stub-
born farmer, trying to show him the tremendous advantage that would
accrue to the country if a railroad should be put through. At last he saw
his desire fulfilled and the rails were laid for the Danville, Olney and
Ohio River Railway, which has since become the Cincinnati, Hamilton
and Dayton.

In 1860, after giving up the milling business, he still kept up a
flourishing business in real estate and mortgages, and the responsibilities
of the fortune that had come to him through the years took up much
of his time. It was natural that after the davs he had spent in behalf
of the railroad he should have become one of its first directors. He re-
tired from active business two years ago, but he is still, having reached
the remarkable age of ninety-seven many times stronger and more active


than men twenty years his junior. He is a Democrat in his political affili-
ations, but has never held any political offices, except that of postmaster.
He was the first postmaster, when Saint Marie was a little village, his
first year of official service being 1838.

In April of 1844 Mr. Picquet was married to Rosine Mueller, of
Boersch, Alsace, but his young bride only lived five months after her
marriage. On the 20th of August, 1850, Mr. Picquet was married for
the second time, his wife being Caroline Mueller, a sister of his first
wife, who was likewise born in Boersch, Alsace, when it was a part of
France. Eight children, two of whom are living, were born to Mr, and
Mrs. Picquet. Louise is now Mrs. Reitz, of Evansville, Indiana, and
Marie, who is unmarried. The death of Mrs. Picquet occurred on the
22d of February, 1900.

This 'is the story of a most unusual life, even though its subject lived
in the times when men had to be heroes through force of circum-
stances. One must remember that Mr. Picquet was little more than a
lad when he first brought his friends to this new country, yet they all
looked up to him and leaned on his strong arm, both figuratively and
literally. As the village, grew he saw what should be the next step that
ought to be taken in the direction of progress. When hard times came,
he was ever ready with a smile and a cheery bit of optimism. Is it any
wonder that the people who gathered about him almost worshipped him.
What an opportunity he had to become rich at the expense of others,
but such a thought never crept into his mind. His great ambition was
to see the town he had founded become prosperous, and to see his beloved
Mother Church increase in strength and numbers. As it was in the days
when his home was a little log shanty, so now when he lives in the most
beautiful residence in the city, where every luxury of our highly de-
veloped modern civilization is at hand, he is still the center of the life
of the community. All of the citizens of Saint Marie know that here
they are welcome, and young and old, rich and poor, they come to
seek the sympathy and counsel of the "Father of Saint Marie," who is
now in his ninety-seventh year.

GEORGE WASHINGTON SMITH, A. M., dean of men and head of the
Department of History and Civics in the Southern Illinois State Normal
University, and author of the History of Southern Illnois as published in
this work, is a native Illinoisan. He was born near Greenfield, Greene
county, November 13, 1855.

Daniel Smith, a Virginian, of Patrick county, was born about 1740.
He was the oldest of these brothers, namely: Daniel, John, Peter and
Flemon. These brothers were all engaged in the battle of Cowpens,
fought January 17, 1781.

During the earlier years of the Revolutionary war Daniel married
Miss Reeves and from this marriage there were six children, as follows :
Charles, Mollie, Peter, Elizabeth, James and John M. The last named
son, John, was the grandfather of Prof. Smith. John M. Smith was
born in Henry county, Virginia, April 23, 1781. He married Rachel
Packwood in Patrick county, Virginia, about the year 1800, or 1802.
The Packwoods were a numerous people in Virginia and helped to
subdue the savages and the wilderness. Rachel Packwood 's grandfather
was captured by the Indians on Greenbrier river, a branch of the Great
Kanawha, in 1710, taken to Chillicothe, Ohio, and there burned at the
stake by the Chillicothe Indians in the presence of relatives and

From the marriage of John M. Smith and Rachel Packwood there


were born twelve children Nancy, Samuel, Daniel, Stephen, Edith, Lar-
kin, Elizabeth, Rachel, Exoney, Polly, Lucy and John.

Stephen Smith, the fourth child of John M. Smith, was the father
of Prof. Smith. He was born in Patrick county, Virginia, May 23,
1809. When about two years old his parents moved to Cumberland
county, Kentucky, and settled on Mud Camp creek, a tributary of the
Cumberland river. Here Stephen grew to manhood. He worked much
in the timber and in the building of flat-boats. He was an expert axe-
man and skilled in boat bulding. He made several trips to New Orleans
with flat-boats between 1828 and 1838. The 13th of September, 1836, he
married Sallie Martin Pace, a yoiang lady who lived in the valley of
the Marrowbone creek, at the mouth of which lay the county seat town
of Burkesville.

Sallie M. Pace represented a family name which had been common
in Virginia since the days of the Indian massacre of 1622. She was
born February 22, 1816. Her grandfather, Captain John Pace, was

Online LibraryGeorge Washington SmithA history of southern Illinois : a narrative account of its historical progress, its people, and its principal interests (Volume v.3) → online text (page 97 of 98)