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He was endowed with a wonderfully clear, strong, quick-acting judgment
in all matters of business; this by actual, responsible, varied, wide and con-
tinuous experience and exercise became trained to a point of astonishing ac-
curacy. As I have just said, he created his live stock business. Having cre-
ated it, he knew it. He knew his business, and that is saying much of any
man; he knew he knew it, hence that magnificent confidence in himself
which nerved him to undertake and carry through enterprises that would
have appalled ordinary men. The people learned to know that Ike Funk, as
they familiarly called him, knew his business.


Many years ago I was obliged to stop over night in Waynesville, DeWitt
county. Mr. James Cook kindly entertained me for the night. During the
evening we talked about Isaac Funk. Mr. Cook said: "Whenever 1 had
any stock to sell, no matter who else wanted to buy it, I always waited for
Mr. Funk to come around." "Why did you wait for Mr. Funk?" 1 asked.
"Well, I'll tell you. We didn't always know what our stock was worth, we
could not get the market reports as we do now. When Ike Funk came, we
learned that he always offered us a full, fair market price for our stock, and
he knew what our stock was worth just as soon as he saw it, and we always
waited for him and sold to him."

In 1884 or 1885, a reunion qf the Funk family was held at the residence of
Mr. Isaac Funk, Jr.; Senator David Davis was an honored guest. In the af-
ternoon, the senator having tired a little, probably, of the pastimes, was sit-
ting on the porch apart from the rest of the company. I took a chair by him;
falling into a reminiscent mood, he told me many thing about Mr. Funk.
Among others this: "A good many dealers" Mr. Davis said, "when they
had bought stock on short credit, that is until they could get it marketed and
get home again, would propose to keep the money of their clients a short
while, mentioning that they could make a good turn with it, or something
like that, but Mr. Funk never did that. Just as soon as he got back fiom
Chicago, or wherever he had been with stock, every man of whom he had
bought, got his money, and they all liked that way of doing whether they
said much about it or not."

Now put these three or four facts together, which I have just related; that
Isaac Funk knew his business and the people believed he knew it; that he
knew the value of stock of any kind at sight, and the people believed that;
that he always offered a fair market price for stock, and as soon as he got
home from the market, if he had bought of anybody on credit, the seller im-
mediately and without any kind of excuse, got his money in full. Is it
strange that such a man came near monopolizing the stock business of his
region and time?

The truth was that Mr. Funk could buy about all the stock in the country ,_
and he could buy it whether he had the money or not. In those days of
great scarcity of money and high rates of interest, his methods and known
skill gave him a signal advantage over most men. No matter how many
cattle he owned at any time, it is said that he always knew every one of them,
if any of his cattle were missing, he could look over his terds and give an ac-
curate description of the missing ones. If cattle belonging to anyone else
got among his herds, he would recognize them as strangers at sight.

Mr. John Pitts, the other day, related to me that one fall when their cattle
were brought in from the prairie, there were three steers missing. Thinking
possibly they had strayed into Mr. Funk's herds, the father sent John, who
was then a small boy, over to Mr. Funk's to see if the cattle were there.
Mr. Pitts said he never saw so many cattle before; Mr. Funk was riding
among them, and the boy went up and told his errand. "Look around,"
said Mr. Funk, "if you find them, take them, but don't take any of mine."
After a long search "Pitts spotted one of his steers; he knew it as well as he
knew the family horse or cow, but he felt a little afraid of Mr. Funk and hes-
itated to point out the steer, however, he mustered his courage and went and
told Mr. Funk he had found one ot their steers. Mr. Funk came with him,
and in the midst of the big herd, they came across the steer. The moment
Mr. Funk sighted it, he said: "It's not mine, take it." Another long search
found the second steer. The boy was a little braver now, and he went again
for Mr. Funk, and as soon as Mr. Funk saw the steer, although amongst
hundreds of others, he said, "It's not mine, take it." But the third steer
was never found.

Mr. Funk was not a man to be seen quietly standing by, while others passed
him in the race for fortune. One season he was about ready to move a drove
of 1,000 or more hogs to Chicago. Knowing of a similar drove likely soon
to be moved by a party north of Lexington, he wrote the Lexington party
sayiig that he, Mr. Funk, would not move his hogs at the same time the


other was goinsr to Chicago, if the other would send him word when he in-
tended to go. This was done to avoid the inconvenience that might result
from getting both herds to the slaughter house at the same time. Mr. Funk
received a rather curt and unsatisfactory answer something like this, that
Funk could move his hogs when he wanted to, and the other party would do the
same. Without further parley Mr. Funk moved his hogs when he was ready.
When he reached a point one evening about five miles this side of Joliet, he
learned that the Lexington party was just a day's ride ahead of him. In an
instant Mr. Funk decided upon his further movements.

Both droves were on the west side of the DesPlaines river. He rested that
night; in the morning threw his drove across to the east side of the river,
took a picked gang of men with 300 or 400 of the lighter and longer legged hogs,
drove all day, all the next night and part of the next day, arriving at Chicago
and the slaughter house almost a day's drive ahead of the man who said Funk
could move his hogs when he wanted to. With his 300 or 400 light hogs, he
held the slaughter house until the balance of his drove came up. The other
party waited as patiently as he could outside of Chicago, until Mr. Funk was
through. Great battles have often been won and history made by just such

Mr. Funk made a point of being very punctual in keeping his business en-
gagements. He borrowed much money, and he was enabled to borrow it
where other men could not, by his habits of paying punctually. Hon. David
Davis frequently helped him in borrowing money at the east where Mr. Davis
was acquainted, and he signed as surety for him. well knowing Mr. Funk's
habitual punctuality in meeting and paying his debts.

At one time $3,000 was due the Ridgely bank at Springfield on a certain
day. Mr. Funk was in Chicago with a bunch of cattle which brought just
about that amount. He started his son, Jacob, in the morning on a fleet
horse from Chicago with the money all in gold. Jacob rode that day, most
of the night, all the next day, arriving at home at midnight. He aroused
George, who took another good horse, was on his way by 1:00 o'clock, break-
fasted where the town of Lincoln now is, and just at noon of the day the
money was due, he walked in to the bank and laid the $3,000 in gold on the

I was about to say that Mr. Funk was an exceptionally industrious and en-
ergetic man. Those words applied to some of us would be very expres-
sive, probably in many of our cases, too expressive; but they seem tame in-
deed and almost expressionless when applied to such a man as Isaac Funk.
How will I illustrate or characterize the industry and energy of this man?
From all I can learn of him, I think if we would go over to the Alton railway
and stand by while one of the biggest locomotives came along, dragging a
heavy train under orders to get to Blooraington quickly, without stopping at
Shirley, we would see in the action of that locomotive something to remind us
of the way Mr. Fuuk went after things. He worked like a locomotive under
full head of steam, and like the locomotive, if he did not get to the place he
started for by night, he went ahead all the same till he got there.

It was most fortunate for Mr, Funk that he met and married Cassandra
Sharp. No narrative of his life or his successes could be true or just which
did not give large credit to his capable and faithful wife. He was impetuous,
quick-tempered; some times when aroused by especially provocative conduct
of others, his anger would burst forth with volcanic force and suddenness.
The unrestrained and untamed forces of such a nature as his, might have
led him often to dangerous extremes. To his temperament, the temperament
of his wife was a most happy counterpart. She was gentle, patient and even
tempered always. She had great influence over Mr. Funk, to sooth, to en-
courage and to please him. His heart safely trusted in her. She was in
sympathy with his ambitions. More quietly, but just as steadily, faithfully
and effectively she toiled to accomplish their aims. She carried her part well.

I have said that Mr. Funk was quick tempered, we might say sometimes
even violent tempered, but his anger always quickly spent itself. He was ex-
ceedingly ready to forgive an injury. He really loved and courted peace.
He was of an affectionate nature; he loved his wife and children tenderly.


1 must not forget to mention the interesting and curious fact that of all Mr.
Funk's extensive business, be actually kept no accounts or books. It is al-
most incredible, but it is perfectly true, that he carried all his business, all
its details, in his head. By what process or plan he was able to store all the
details of his srreat business in his mind and call them forth at will when
needed, I do not claim to understand or know. Probably he did not know
how or by what process he did it himself; he was able to do it, and that is
all that we know about it, and probably all that he knew. Many of you will
be astonished when I state that in buying droves of cattle or hogs, he never
took a paper and pencil in hand and calculated the weight and cost, as we do
— as everj'body does. By some mental process, he reached the result, the
weight, cost, etc., quickly arfd certainly. It is a fact that he has been known,
when on his drives to Chicago, to go by night and buy hogs of farmers, to be
turned into his drove the next morning; and the process was just this and
nothing more.

He would get down on his hands and knees while others drove the hogs
from beneath a shed or from a strawstack in front of him, so that he could
bring their outlines between him and the light of the horizon. As the hogs
passed in line, he would count, weigh and estimate their value, and buy them
on the spot, so quick and certain was his judgment of their quality and his
ability to calculate their value.

Isaac Funk was a religious man. He believed in his accountability to God.
He believed in keeping His commandments, and that in keeping of them
there is great reward. He believed in Jesus Christ as his Savior. He was a
member of the Methodist Episcopal church; he joined that church organiza-
tion, with his wife, in the winter of 1848, under the ministrations of Rev.
John S. Barger. He attended the services of the church quite regularly, and
was always its liberal supporter.

Although he had, we might say, no advantages of schooling for himself, he
coyeted these for his children. He spared no expense to give them the best
schooling. He believed in Christian education. He gave substantial proof
of this belief by subscribing $10,000 to the endowment fund of the Illinois
Wesleyan university at Bloomington.

In politics, Mr. Funk was a Whig, while that party was in business. In
1840 that party elected him to the lower house of the State legislature. When
the Republican party was organized, he became a member of it. In a re-
markable speech delivered in Bloomington by the Hon. Owen Lovejoy, just
preceding the war time, Mr. Funk was converted to abolitionism. J'rom that
time forward, he hated slavery. In 1862, he was elected to the State Senate
to fill the unexpired term of General Oglesby. He was re-elected for
the full term. It was during this term, in the very dnrkest days of the war
of the rebellion, when the fate of the Union was livinbling in the balance,
that he made his famous speech in favor of an appropriation for what was
known as the "Sanitary Commission." The opponents of the war had a ma-
jority in the senate. They were opposing every measure calculated to furnish
aid and comfort to the armies of the Union.

To Mr. Funk, their conduct seemed nothinq: less than treason to the country
and government, which he loved with all the intensity of his strongly emo-
tional nature. He was unaccustomed to speaking in public, but there came
a time, when, in his own words, he could sit in his seat no longer and see
men trifling with the interests of his country. It was then he arose and
hurled at the opposition that phillipic of phillipics, which will never be for-
gotten by those who heard it, and which is probably remembered today by
more people than remember any other speech ever made in Illinois. Walking
down the street a few days ago, I met one of our older prominent lawyers, a
politician and widely read gentleman. It occurred to me to ask him
as we met, which two speeches were, in his judgment, remembered
by more people in Illinois than any other two speeches. He instantly replied,
*' Ike Funk's speech in the Legislature in 1863 and Lincoln's replies to
Douglas in the Senatorial Campaign in '58."


Isaac Funk made a great deal of money and grathered a great deal of
property. Shall we honor him and his memory because of this alone? Is it
to be accounted a virtue, simply to make money and get property? No.
Money may be gotten, and is often, by methods far from virtuous, but it is
true that the ability to make money by fair and honest means is to be ac-
counted honorable.

I have lived in Bloomington nearly 36 years. In all that time it has been
my pleasure to talk about Isaac Funk with those who knew him and his
character, and his business operations; and in all that long time, I have not
heard one of all the people with whom I have talked, say that Isaac Funk
ever got a dollar of them or anyone else, except by strictly fair and honorable

Nothing less than such a work as the creation of his great live stock busi-
ness and gathering his great landed estate, would have occupied the splendid
powers of this man. It was the work next to his hand; he did it heroically and
on an heroic scale. His name will be remembered and honored for genera-
tions to come.


(By Frank E. Stevens.]

[In the Transactions of the Illinois State Historical society of 1901 was presented a paper
by Rev. Robert W. Newlands of Stillman Valley, Ogle county, Illinois, descriptive of his
discovery, near that place, of the grave in which were buried the bodies of eight or nine of
Major Stillman's command, who were there slain by the Indians under Black Hawk in the
memorable engragement at that spot on the 14th of May, 1832. The land upon which the
grave was found was purchased for the public by the Stillman Valley Monument associa-
tion; and the Forty-second Illinois Legislature aporopriated the sum of $5,000 for the erec-
tion thereon of a suitable monument to commemorate the memory of those volunteers who
there fell in the service of their country. The mouument, well represented by accompany-
ing cut, having been completed and placed in position, was unveiled, with impressive and
appropriate ceremonies, on the 11th of June, 1902. On that occasion, among other distin-
jguished speakers. Mr. Frank E. Stevens, author of a very able, exhaustive and Snely illus-
trated historical work, entitled "The Black Hawk War," soon to be published, being intro-
duced, addressed the assembled multitude as follows:]

Mr. President of the Association, Ladies and Gentlemen — Dixon's Ferry,
now Dixon, 111., at the period of the Black Hawk war, consisted of a ferry,
the simple flat bottomed skiff characteristic of those days, and a 90-foot log
cabin, built in three sections, both owned by John Dixon.

The patriarchal appearance of this old pioneer had brought to him the title,
"Na-chu-sa," from the Indiana, meaning in the Winnpbago dialect, "Long
Hair White," and from the whites, "Father Dixon." By his kindness, gen-
tleness, honesty aud courage he had won the love of every person, white and
red, who had ever met him, and to those in the land who had not met him,
his reputation had extended, so that the mention of his name meant an
overture for peace.

In the spring of 1827, his brother-in-law, 0. W. Kellogg, broke a trail
through the country from Peoria to Galena, to facilitate the rapidly increas-
ing travel to the lead mines. "Kellogg's trail," as it was then called, crossed
Rock river at that place, and, in 1828, when Father Dixon received the con-
tract for carrying the mails from Peoria to Galena and Gratiot's Grove, he
took with him from Peoria to Rock river a half-breed named Joseph Ogee,
who established a permanent, though unlicensed, ferry. Prospective com-
petition, or a friend, must have suggested his laches in this respect, for, on
Dec. 7, 1829, he received from Jo Daviess county, whose jurisdiction em-
braced all that section of country, the statutory license to operate the same.
But by 1830, the restraint of a ferryman's life had become so exceedingly irk-
some to one of his nomadic nature, that Father Dixon was constrained to take
it off his hands, and remove his family thence, which he did, arriving there
April 11, 1830.

STILLMAN VALLEY MONUMENT. -Cost $5,000: dedicated 1902.


When Ogee established his ferry he built a hut of logfs unfit for habitation
to any but a rover like himself. The needs of Father Dixon's family, and in-
creasing: travel, required something better, and that improvement he at once
supplied by making additions, so that he soon had a comfortable house,
storeroom and hotel, all in one. He, with his family of wife and five children,
from that time forward entertained travelers, and traded with the Indians
until the Indians were no more, and travel had, many years later, become
diverted to bridges and other thoroughfares made by the new and ever mul-
tiplying settlements. He was made postmaster and from thenceforth Dixon's
Ferry was of commanding prominence in Illinois travel and Illinois geogra-
phy. At that period, however. Father Dixon's was the only family on Rock
river above the old Black Hawk village, Saukenuk.

On his march up the river, Black Hawk camped one night near the Dixon
cabin, and, witb Ne-o-pope and the Prophet, ate with the family, Mrs. Dixon
waiting upon them in a manner so courteous as to completely captivate Black
Hawk, and command from him thereafter his highest admiration. During
that stop the family, after a careful observation, estimated the number of
able bodied warriors with the expedition to be 800, and that number was re-
ported to the army which arrived there on May 12.

Under the order, of April 16, from Governor Reynolds, Major Isaiah Still-
man recruited to his battalion the companies of Captain David W. Barnes
and Asel F. Ball from Fulton county, and Captain Abner Eads from Peoria
county, and Major David Bailey took with him from Pekin the company of
Captain John G. Adams of Tazewell county, the company of Captain M. L.
Covell, and that of Captain Robert McClure of McLean county, and the
company of Captain I. C. Pugh of Macon county.

Leaving Pekin May 8, Bailey's battalion reached Boyd's Grove the first
night out where Stillman with his three companies joined them, and all camped
together for the night. The following day at Bureau creek, another detach-
ment under Captain Bowman, which bad been ranging through the country
towards Dixon's Ferry, joined these forces, reporting many thefts of their
horses by the Indians. At Dad Joe's Grove the combined forces camped the
second night, marching the following day (the 10th) across the present county
of Lee, to Dixon's Ferry where Governor Reynolds and the militia joined
them on the morning of the 12th.

The first act of the governor was one of circumspection. Selecting from his
ablest and most discreet officers, Capt. John Dement, Col. James T. B. Stapp,
Wyat Stapp, Major Joseph M. Chadwick and Benjamin Moore, and Louis
Ouilmette, a French 'trader, thoroughly familiar with those parts, and with
Indian character, who, with others, was waiting at Dixon's Ferry, they
were told that scouts had reported Indians to be scattered in search of pro-
visions, and that it would be useless for the army to proceed at present. Dur-
ing tbat period of inaction these men were to start for Paw Paw Grove, sorne
40 miles to the southeast, in the present confines of Shabbona township, in
DeKalb county, and there have a talk with the Pottowattamies, whose village
was at that place, and assure themselves of the positive neutrality of that na-

The prairies were covered with water, there were no roads, the day was
dark and threatening, and to frustrate their mission completely, a large party
of Black Hawk's band overtook them. The enemy undertook, by every art
known to savage tactics, to allure the men into an ambush. To refute Black
Hawk's constant protestations of peace that scouting party of his was discov-
ered to be actually recruiting among the Pottowattamies and Winnebagoes.
The attempts to decoy the messengers into the Indian camp were diplomatic-
ally avoided, and so was a pitched battle, which could only have resulted in
annihilation of the whites.

After 48 hours of ceasless endeavor, without food, the party finally suc-
ceeded in reaching headquarters. By that time the iforces of Stillman and
Bailey were marching up the river on their ill-fated expedition.


There were at Dixon's Ferry when Governor Reynolds arrived, several
prominent men from the mining country, inchidine' Col. James M. Strode,
commander of the Jo Daviess county militia, James W. Stevenson, WilliamiS.
Hamilton, son of Alexander Hamilton, Col. Henry Gratiot and Louis Ouil-
mette, the trader.

Col. Henry Dodge, of Michigan Territory, had organized a company to pro-
tect the frontier until he could communicate with Governor Reynolds and sys-
tematically assist the latter. James H. Gentry was captain of that company;
Henry L. Dodge, son of Col. Uodge, was 1st lieutenant; Paschal Bequette, a
son-in-law, was elected 2d lieutenant, while Charles Bracken was aide to the
colonel. The file comprised about 50 men. *

That company of rangers, leaving Mineral Point May 9, covered the north-
western frontier until Whiteside's brigade reached Dixon's Ferry, and were
camped on the north side of Rock river, not far from Black Hawk's camp,
when Whitesides and his troops reached that point. There Col. Dodge was
keeping a watchful eye on Black Hawk's every movement and warily await-
ing the moment he could pounce down upon the old Indian if he saw fit to
offer war, an emergency which the intrepid little band was fully equal to.

Henry Dodge will forever rank in history along with Anthony Wayne,
William Henry Harrison, and such men, as an Indian fighter. He bad met
great odds before, and had never been outgeneraled or whipped. The In-
dians feared him from Lake Superior to Texas. He instantly saw the fright-
ful consequences of an ill-advised expedition up Rock river and advised
against it. Failure meant active cooperation with Black Hawk by the neu-
tral and undecided Winnebagoes and Pottowattamies, and that, in turn, meant
that the entire northwest frontier would be overrun with marauding bands
and murderers. But the impatient troops of Stillman and Bailey were eager
to fight, and would listen to no restraint. They had enlisted to kill "Injuns,"
and nothing but a valorous conquest would satisfy their ambition; and Gen-
eral Whitesides and Governor Reynolds were constrained to allow the fol-
lowing order to be issued:

"Headquarters, Camp No. 10, Dixon's Ferry,

"12th May, 1832.

"The troops under the command of Major Stillman, including the battalions
of said Major Stillman, and Major Bailey, will forthwith proceed, with four
days' rations, to the head of Old Man's Creek, where it is supposed the hos-
tile Sac Indians are assembled, for the purpose of taking all cautious meas-
ures to coerce said Indians into submission, and report themselves to this
department as soon thereafter as practicable.

"By order of Brigadier Samuel Whiteside, commanding brigade of mounted

Online LibraryIllinois State Historical Society. 1nPapers in Illinois history and transactions (Volume yr. 1902) → online text (page 27 of 40)