North Carolina. Dept. of Public Instruction.

Historical souvenir of Williamson County, Illinois : being a brief review of the county from date of founding to the present online

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Online LibraryNorth Carolina. Dept. of Public InstructionHistorical souvenir of Williamson County, Illinois : being a brief review of the county from date of founding to the present → online text (page 30 of 38)
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brethern, and was never known to
whip one. When he thought pun-
ishment was in order he would call
the offender into the parlor and set
him in an easy chair with a book or
paper in his hand, of which the poor
darkey could not read a word, and
keep him there till dinner time. He
would then politely invite him to
the dining room, and seating him in
the place of honor, would take the
place of servant and proceed to wait
upon him with the greatest gravity
and politeness. After dinner, he
generally set him about his work
with a few words of kind admoni-
tion and advice. This recipe never
failed on a refractory servant,
though he has sometimes kept a
particularly hard case in the corner
with his book or paper all day Sun-
day, but he never failed to provide
them with a good Sunday dinner.

One poor old woman quarrelled
with a neighbor and quit her job, re-
fusing longer to work with her.
Mr. Watson set her to taking water
in a pail from a little stream near
by and carrying it a few rods, pour-
it over the fence into the same
stream. After a half day's useless
toil in this fashion, the old lady be-
came reconciled to her job and
went back cheerfully to work.

Billy took his master's name, af-
ter the prevailing fashion, and sems
to have been a very skilfull me-
chanic and valued by his owner
correspondingly high. Another
slave ow'ner offered his master
$2S0n for him. but was refused.
Watson saying he wouldn't accept
$3000 for him, as he earned him not
less than $800 a year.

Watson was in all sorts of busi-
ness in Tennessee. He owned farms,
cotton-mills, saw-mills, Houring-mills
and a powder factory; kept black-
smith and repair shops running,
made his own wagons and other
tools, and in general run an exten-
sive business on his various planta-
tions. He was a careful, cautious,
thrifty man, and, like the typical
New Englander he was, looked after
the pence, knowing the pounds
would look after themselves. He
would never allow a slave to work
in the powder factory. He said they
were worth too much money.

His home was about 25 miles
from Nashville, on the head-waters
of the Cumberland River. Billy

was brought up in the cotton fac-
tory until about 2(1, and was then
put to house-carpentering by his
master. Showing an aptitude at me-
chanics, he worked successively at
blacksmithing, horse-shoeing, wag-
on-making and repairing. He was
the handy-man of the plantation and
could do anything he was set at.
His master trusted him fully and he
had many opportunities to take leg
bail for Canada. At one time he
was sent by Mr. Watson 100 miles
from home to collect a bill, and on
his return found himself in posses-
sion of a fine horse saddle and bri-
dle his master's gold watch and
$5000 in greenbacks. He was sorely
tempted this time to turn his horse's
head towards the Ohio river, but
love for his master, his home and
his honor prevailed and he finished
his journey as he began it — a slave.

Watson was a staunch Union man
and did all that lay in him to pre-
vent his state from seceeding. Af-
ter the fall of Fort Donaldson he
rode his horse into Nashville, took
the oath of allegiance before Gen.
Grant and returned to his mills and
factories. He had a trusty servant
who posed as a rebel, and when the
rebs were about he was the owner of
everything, but when the other side
came in sight. Watson was the mas-
ter. By this device they kept their
property from being burned or de-
str'oyed by either side. A good deal
of the time the powder-mill turned
out confederate powder, but later on
was run mostly to send bullets after

While the most of the negroes
ran away during the troublous times
of the war, Watson stuck by his
master till Lincoln's Proclamation
freed them all. He then joined the
5th Iowa Cavalry, riding one of his
master's best horses, and remained
with it until he was discharged,
August 9th, 1865, at Eastport. Miss.
He never served in the ranks, but
was always in the employ of the
government, repairing wagons, etc.
After the War he lived and worked
in Nashville till lS6fi, then to John-
sonville in 1867, then to Cincinnati



and "scouting around" till he came
to Marion in 1882. Here he moved
with his wife into the log cabin
where he still lives and which he
has kept continuously until the pres-
ent time, and for which they pay
$1.00 a week rent.

He married his first wife while
both were owned by Watson, and
she died while he was with the
army. His second wife he married
at Wittenberg, Mo., May 16th, 1870.
Her name was Charlott Walker, an
ex-slave in Texas. In the picture of
the old house Mrs. Watson sits by
the side of her husband.

Mrs. Robinson, who is a widow
living in the other half of the
cabin, was glad of the opportunity
an 1 also took a seat near Mr. Wat-
son, as shown in the picture. Wat-
son, it is said, is fond of his cup,
and gets it whenever he can, but,
like white people sometimes, he is
occasionally very religious, and in
the picture holds an open testament
on his knee, which lies open at
these words-: John X: 3 4-3 6; "Is it
not written in your law, I said, ye
are gods? If he called them gods,
unto whom the word of God came,
and the scripture cannot be broken:
say ye of him whom the Father hath
sanctified and sent into the world.
Thou blasphemist, because I said, I
am the Son of God? If I do not the
works of my Father, believe me not,
but if I do, though ye believe not
me, believe the works, that ye may
know and believe, that the Father is
in me and I in Him."


A history of political parties of
Williamson county would be incom-
plete without a reference to the pro-
hibition party, the oldest of all the
three parties. Although its first
national ticket was not put up un-
til 1869, the temperance movement
in its various phases which preced-
ed prohibition began as far back as
1845 when a traveling temperance
lecturer waked the county up as it
had never been walced before.
People stopped business to hear
him. This strolling temperance lec-
turer made two notable converts in
the persons of Uncle Chess McCoy
and .Tacob Goodall. who have re-
mained steadfast to their pledge to
this day. Goodall celebrated his
conversion by taking a barrel of
whiskey he had, knocking the head
in and emptying the contents into
the gutter. A. B. C. Campbell of
Bloomington, Dan K. Shielis and a
reformed drunkard named Knowles
of Greenville and .Joseph Benson of
Indiana followed as temperance lec-
turers. Knowles wound up by get-
ting $125 and a suit of clothes and
then getting gloriously drunk. Dur-
ing all this time temperance was the
object of agitation. There were the

Sons of Temperance, Sons of Malta,
the Blue Ribbon, high license and
local option movements, all ending
with the present philosophical
movement, prohibition. The lead-
ers and followers of the party in
Williamson county as elsewhere are
men of high character who are un-
dismayed by defeat. Frank Brown
cast the first and only prohiljition
vote in the county in 1869. The
party now counts its followers by
the hundred.

The first business building erect-
ed in Marion was a log shanty built
by .John Davis and run by him as
a saloon. Erwin says that "he was
in such a hurry to sell whiskey
that he bought a set of stable logs
from A. T. Benson which he put up-
oif the square a few feet north of
the well." He also states that he
was the first man to get a license to
sell whiskey, but during 1839 two
members of the county court began
to sell whiskey — Campbell and Hill.


Reminiscences of a returned Cali-

1 was born in Jackson, Tennessee,
June 24, 1825, but my parents were
both natives of North Carolina and
came to Tennessee when quite
young. My father. James McCoy,
was born Christmas day, 1803, and
my mother was born May 28, 1807.
1 came with my parents to Franklin
County in the Spring of 1837, before
Williamson County was organized.
We settled near where the Illinois
Central Railroad depot now stands.
It was all prairie then for two or
'hree miles northwest of town, and
lather broke up a piece that Spring
where the depot now stands and
planted it to corn on the sod with
an ax. It was known as Poor's

The first school 1 attended was
taught by Spiller, an uncle of
William Spiller, in 1837. He began
in August and kept three months. I
was then 12 years old, and all the
schooling J ever had wouldn't
amount to more than 12 months.
About that time Isaac D. Stockton
taught school in the upper story of
the Court House, and all the chil-
dren in the county attended it. It
was a two-story frame building
about twenty feet square, and the
first Judge I remeiuber was Judge
Scales, who tried Jerry Simpson for
killing Andrew J. Benson, in the
fall of 1841. Simpson got into a
quarrel with Andrew Benson's fath-
er, and as the old man, who didn't
want to quarrel, was going away,
Jerry ran after him with a knife in
his hand, swearing he would kill
him. He and Andy were chums,
and Andy ran up to Jerry and put-
ting his hand on his shoulder said.

"O Jerry, you wouldn't kill father,
would you?" At that Jerry struck
backwards with his knife in his
hand, probably not thinking or in-
tending to hurt Andy, but only to
shake him off, and the blade entered
the bowels of Andy and killed him.
Willis Allen, the father of Josh Al-
len, was one of the prosecution and
.lames Shields defended him. Jerry
was a man about 40. He broke jail
and ran away, but was caught a year
later and tried but acquitted by a
packed jury.

We had no mills in those days.
Milton and Dr. Jonathan Mulkey and
Capt. James Cunningham bought
the machinery for a saw and grist-
mill, and had it sent by o.\-teams
to where the Edwards Mill now
stands. But no one could be found
who knew enough about m:^chinery
to set it up, and it lay piled up on
the prairie for a long time. After
a while, about '43 or '44, George
Felts and John Hooper got track of
the situation and came down from
Uellville and built the mill and the
old double log house still standing
and occupied as a negro cabin by
Wm. Watson and family. They
lived there and ran the mill for a
good many years. People used to
come for 2ii miles to mill and wait
their turn, maybe two or three
weks, before they could get their
Hour or meal. This was the first
steam mill erected in the County.
the logs they worked up were most-
ly walnut and poplar.

My wife was Miss Jane Poague, a
native of Saline County. We were
married in the old Western Ex-
change building, which John Pas-
chal built for Allen Bainbridge in
1842. In 18 4.'i I began to work at
brick-making, mason work and plas-
tering, and followed it unit! about

I first heard of the discovery of
gold in California in 1848. A man
returned from there in 1849 and
brought a nugget to Marion weigh-
ing about I14 ounces which he sold
to a merchant here for about $18 or
$19. People began at once to make
their way to California, mostly
across the plains. I started April
26, 1850, in company with Dr. Jas.
P. Thorn, H. L. Hayes, James and
Thomas P. Louden, Henry Purdy
and William Lipsey. We took three
yoke of cattle with us and bought
another when we stopped at Inde-

We were just four months on the
road and landed at Coloma, Eldo-
rado County, August 27, 1850. Co-
loma was then called Hangtown
from a hanging which took place
there for stealing. James M. Mc-
Coy, my brother, and Willis Aikman
went in 1854, by way of New Or-
leans and the isthmus.

Gold was first discovered in
what was known afterwards as



Placerville, about five miles from
Coloma, the county seat. The whole
teirilory where the city now stands
and tar beyond was all rich placer
diggings, anJ every foot of it has
been washed, and tens if not hun-
dreds of thousands of dollars of gold
have been taken out of it. The first
find occurred this way. Old General
.John Sutter, who had a big ranch
on the South Fork, about 45 or 51)
miles up the river from Sacramento,
built a saw-mill up where the gold
was found anJ had his men dig a
race to carry the water to the mill.
After the water had run for a time
it was seen that the ditch was not
deep enough and they shut the
water off to dig it deeper.

James W. Marshall ,a mill-wright
from New Jersey, had charge of the
job, but knew nothing of the nature
of the nuggets and shining yellow
stuff with which the bottom and
sides of the ditch were covered, but
the Mexicans who were at work for
him recognized the precious metal
at a glance and by their shouts of
"Ora!" "Ora!" soon had the men
filling their pockets with the nug-
gets which strewed the channel as
thick as gravel-stones.

Mr. Marshall jumped on the back
of a mule and took his coat pockets
full down to General Sutter for ex-
amination. It is needless to say
that the mill was abandoned and
the country soon swarmed with
gold diggers. Two years later, when
I went there, they were as thick as
ants in an ant-hill, and everybody
was so rich they hardly knew what
to do with their gold. At first it
was a common thing to take out
$2 01)0 or $3000 to the pan, and men
would throw up their diggings in
disgust and seek better ground until
they got about that. One miner, Joe
Beaman, of Nevada City, threw up
his claim after going down 10 feet
or so, and two others took it, and
after throwing out a few more
shovels of dirt struck it so rich that
they cleaned up not less than $25,-
000 in two feet of dirt. William A.
Hutchinson,, a friend of mine, with
a company of 12 or 14 men, came
down from Oregon and went into a
canon, afterwards called Oregon
Canon from their party, and it is
incredible the amount of gold they
took out of that canon. There was
no lumber and all used pans, but
four men. who got them a rocker

and went into partnersliii). They
went ia the diggings in the Spring,
and when it grew cold in the fall
they threw up their claim as ricli
as they found it, but they loaded a
donkey with all the gold he coui'U
carry and every one of them had all
they could stagger under. Two and
three thousand dollars a aay was a
very common result of the work of
three men with pans. One of Hut-
chinson's partners was digging away
in his hole one day when he cried
out, "Hutch, the derned hole has
petered out." "Hutch" went into
the hole with him to crack his little
joke and gathering up a single pan
of the dirt they put it aside in a
handkerchief, and when they
weighed it they had 62yi ounces or
$1125. That canon was about ten
or twelve miles long, and starting up
in the mountains ran southwest into
the middle fork of the American
river. Probably ten million dollars
of gold has been taken out of that

There were a good many disap-
pointments and mistakes, and some
surprises among the miners, though,
and one of the greatest of the mis-
takes was the most common. Gold
was so plentiful the miners thought
it was inexhaustable, and didn't
prize it nor take care of what they
got. I was one of the biggest of all
the big fools. I went into the mines
in 1850 and staid there till 1S9S,
and I suppose I have dug half a
ton of gold, but I haven't a dollar.
I had two brothers with me, and we
once took up a very promising
claim, I thought, but after holding it
a while my eldest brother got a
chance to sell for $600, and after
he had teased us till we gave in, it
was turned over and we got the
$600. But in two weeks the buyers
had taken out a cool $100,000 and
more. That claim "petered" for us,
and no mistake.

A very common way of setting the
boundaries of a claim at that time
in those diggings was for a miner
with his pick to strike a circle at
arm's length, and $20,000. $30,000
or $40,000 would be cleaned up
down to bed rock.

I left that locality after a while
and went up into Nevada and Yuba
Counties, on the Yuba river, where
we constructed a wing dam and
cleaned up $4,000 or $5,000 a day.
We mined as far down as Marysville

and took uul fro m$.")i).UOO to $1(I0.-
000 to a flume. I believe that coun-
try is yet rich in gold, but this old
man will never go after it.

California has had as picturesque
and eventful a history as any spot
on earth. She produced twice as
much gold ($50,000,000) in 1850
as the entire territory comprised in
the present United States had yield-
ed from Columbus' time down to
Marshall's discovery in 1848. She
produced more gold in 1853 ($65,-
000,000) than any other spot on
the globe of equal area ever has
turned out in twelve months, except
the Rand district in South Africa,
just before the Boer war. Over
$1,500,000,000 of the yellow metal
has been picked up from the Golden
State's placers or dug from its
mines since 1848, and the end is not
yet in sight.

1 was in California five years be-
fore my wife came to me. She was
a relative of the noted Dr. Benja-
min Franklin, being his niece. We
had five children, three of whom are
now dead. I have one son in El
Paso, California, and one daughter
in Alton. My youngest son, George
W. McCoy, went hunting in Alaska
and never returned. My wife died
in 1860.

On the 24th day of June, 1904,
this genial religne of the past was
7 9 years old. A native of Jackson
County, Tennessee, a son of native
North Carolinians, raised to 12 years
of age among the mountains, for
thirteen years a resident of William-
son County, from 1837 to 1850, then
a miner in California for 48 .-ears,
the old man has preserved his vigor,
his honesty and his simplicity al-
most unimpaired to the present
time. The snap-shot we secured of
the old man shows him in his fa-
vorite corner, at the entrance of
Amzi White's residence, with his
favorite paper, the San Francisco
Call, on his lap. Though he con-
sented with his tongue his heart re-
fused to go to the photographer's for
a good picture. i iiis would have
invovled a general combing, trim-
ming and brushing up, of which a
mountaineer and Californian miner
was never guilty. So I gave up the
job and contented myself with a
snap-shot at him in his everyday
outfit, in which alone his many
friends would recognize him.


Carterville, Herrin, Creal Springs, Johnson City

and Other Points.

Reading t'loui left to right. Top row — James G. Winning, Aid.; B. P. Bandy, Police Magistrate; L. E.
Robertson, J. P.; William McEwan, Treas. ; Joe Stalcup, Aid. Second Row — W. H. Zin^merman, Aid.; Judge
J. L. Gallimore, Atty.; E. B. Watson, Mayor; James Ballow, Clerk; Price Watson,
.Murphy, Aid.; Charles Craig, J. P.


Third Row — John

THE City of Carterville is located
near the Western boundary of
■Williamson County, Illinois, in Car-
terville precinct. The original plat
of the town on file in the Recorder's
office at Marion is accompanied by
the following memorandum:

"I hereby certify that I have sur-
veyed the town of Carterville, sit-
uated in the Southeast one-fourth of

the Southeast quarter of Section No.
3. Township Xo. 9 South, of Range
No. 1 East in the County of William-
son and State of Illinois, according
to the above plat, this 17th day of
February. 1S72. H. L, Beasley. Sur-

Filed F'ebruary 21, 1ST2.

On the iDth day of the following
May, Cavett & Picketts addition was

surveyed, west half of southwest
half and filed June 26, 1S72.

A petition was drawn up for a
Village Charter for the following ter-

Northeast quarter of Section 10;
west half of northwest quarter of
Section 11; west half of southwest
quarter of Section 2; southeast quar-
ter of Section 3; south half of north-


Names of members, counting from left to right: First Row — Matt \V. Watson, James Taylor, Lacy Pay-
ton, Wm. McEwen, Thos. Parrott. Second Row — James Hutton, John B. Rowett, William Peebles, Richard
Hadneld, Alex. McRae, Chester Taylor. Third Row- -Hiram Rice, Charles Dunn, John King, Frank Sizemore,
leader: Fred Bevard, Klah Hodges, Wm. Swaar. Rob. Parrott and Joe Hadfleld were not present when the
picture was taken. All are rpembersof the Musicians Union.

east quarter of Section 3; southwest
quarter of northwest quarter of Sec-
tion 2: all in towns 7 and 9, range
1 east.

To this petition there were thirty-
six signatures. A population of 3 00
was sworn to by J. A. Bundy, George
M. McNeil, before L. D. Crain, J. P.,
at Crain City, and the petition ap-
proved April 10, 1S72. The election
was held January 22, ISSl, at Crain
City. Thirty-eight votes were cast,
twenty-nine for and nine against.
The commissioners of election were
F. M. Grimes, T. C. Crain. B. F. Nor-
ton, William Curtin and B. P. Spill-
er. The certificate is sworn to June
25th, 18S1, before Brice Holland
and John H. Reynolds, J. P's.. and
the papers filed by W. H. Eubank,
Attorney, June 29th, 1881.

The following are the first officers
chosen for the new Village. Presi-
dent, Jonathan Bandy: Clerk, J. D.
Herrin: Treasurer, Laban Carter:
Trustees, William Tranbarger, V. S.
Harris, E. C. Jones, James Blair,
George McNeil.

In 189 2 the Village was incor-
porated as a city with the following
public officers: G. C. Philips, Mayor:
W. W. Sizemore, Clerk: J. B. Sam-
uels, Treasurer: C. A. Bander, At-
torney: Aldermen, W. W. Snyder, P.

J. Teter, John Bevard, J. C. Riley,
Dave McFadden, T. J. Moak.

The present official roll is as fol-
lows: E. B. Watson, Mayor: James
Ballow, Clerk: William McEwan,
Treasurer: J. L. Gallimore, City At-
torney: S. P. W'atson, Street Com-
missioner: B. P. Bandy, Police Mag-
istrate: Geo. Walker, City Marshal:
Charles Craig and L. E. Robertson,
Justices of the Peace. Council,
Henry Zimmerman, James W^inning,
John Murphy, James McEwan, Jos.
Stalcup, Samuel Russell.

The City has a good fire brigade
under R. H. H. Hampton, Captain,
and is well provided with fire-fight-
ing apparatus.

It is furnished with electric
lights by the Hope Electric Light
Co., and is one of the best lighted
cities in Southern Illinois. It has a
fine grove, which was purchased for
a park in 1894, where all out-of-
doors public gatherings are held.

The city has been visited by very
destructive fires four times. The
first in March, 1885: then in April.
1897: August, 1898, and August.
1900. But it has been practically
rebuilt with brick in a more sub-
stantial manner, much to the satis-
faction of the inhabitants.

The followine is pretty nearly a

complete list of the industries of the
city at the present time: Five Gen-
eral stores, one Hardware store, two
Clothing stores, six Restaurants.
two Confectionaries, one Electric
I^ight Plant, three Lumber Yards,
five Barber Shops, two Blacksmith
Shops, one Photograph Gallery, two
Drug Stores, two Shoe Shops, two
Livery Stables, two Feed Stables,
two Tailor Shops, one Bakery, one
Jewelry Store, one Harness Shop,
two Millinery Stores, two Butcher
Shops, five Grocery Stores, two Ho-
tels, one Furniture and Exchange
Store, one Laundry, two Furniture
and Undertaking Rooms, one Cigar
Factory, four Boarding Houses, two
Opera Houses, one Weekly Newspa-
per, nine Saloons, one Cornet Band,
two Dentists, three Lawyers, one
Surveying and Engineering Co., four
Insurance Agents, two Printing Offi-
ces, four Resident Ministers, four

Fii'St Things.

The first store in Carterville was
conducted by John Herrin, Sr., on
the spot where the Thompson House
now stands. The first religious ser-
vice was conducted by Elder Henry
Boles in 1871. The first Boarding


elated by the Illinois Railway Com-
pany for all freighting.


House was run by James Thompson,
where William Lockie now lives.
The first Postmaster was Aschal
Connor. The first grist-mill and
saw-mill was built and operated by
James M. Washburn in 1S82. The
Carterville Milling Company was es-
tablished in 1854. also the Taylor
Bros, planing mill the same year.
The Illinois Central Railway Com-
pany built its present depot in 1888.

IsTo and afterwards a new one in
1899. In 1SS5 the Presbyterian
church was erected, and in 1888 the
Christian church. The Baptist

church was built in 1890 and the
Catholic in 1895. For statistics of
the churches see sketches of their

Public Schools.

Online LibraryNorth Carolina. Dept. of Public InstructionHistorical souvenir of Williamson County, Illinois : being a brief review of the county from date of founding to the present → online text (page 30 of 38)