William Henry Perrin.

History of Jefferson County, Illinois online

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water, principally by the branches of Big
Muddy River, which head near the north line
of the county and traverse it in a southerly
direction, with many smaller creeks which



empty into them, both from the west and
east. The main branch of Big Muddy Kiver
heads near the northwest corner of the coun-
ty, some miles southeast of Centralia, while
some other ravines near by run westward to-
ward Crooked Creek and the Kaskaskia
River. The Little Muddy River passes
through the southwest corner of the county.
In the northeast part of the county is
Horse Greek, a tributary of the Little Wa-
bash River, and all the branches on the east
line of the county take their couTBe east-
ward, toward the Little Wabash.

The geological formation of Jefferson
County, like those of all the adjoining coun-
ties, are members of the coal formation. All
over the county, with the exception of a
limited area in the southwest corner, is found
the same strata traced all over the county of
Marion — a subdivision of the upper coal
measures, including a coal seam which varies
from six to twenty-four inches in thickness.
At a greater depth may be found the Du
Quoin coal bed, and the sandstones overlying
this coal and its associated limestones, have
been traced over a large area east of the out-
crop of the coal, and attain a considerable
but variable thickness, sometimes amounting
to more than two hundred feet, and appear to
pass across the extreme southeast corner of
this county.*

The Shoal Creek limestone has no great
thickness. It varies between seven and fif-
teen feet; but being the only prominent
limestone between two heavy bodies of sand-
stone, it forms a well marked horizon, and
can be readily traced over a long distance.
In Perry County, only a quarter of a mile
from the Jefferson County line, on Little
Mudd}' River, just before it enters the latter
county, is an outcrop of evidently the same

• Most of the local geology, and tlie facts pertaining to it, are
conipileti (rom the official survey of the State.

limestone. Here five feet of it are exposed,
covered with soil. It rests on one foot of
shales and three feet of black, laminated
slates, which reach to the water level. Coal,
probably fifteen inches thick, has been dug
from the bed of the creek. From this jioint,
the Shoal Creek limestone must pass into
Jefferson County; but the county is mostly
covered with heavy quaternary deposits,
and is thinly settled, so that artificial de-
posits are wanting. Higher up those creeks
and in the barrens, sandstones- crop out at a
few points. The rest of the county is occu-
pied by the higher sandstone formation, the
same which covers the whole of Marion
County. Almost everywhere single layers of
the sandstone can be found of sufficient hard-
ness for building purposes. This formation
being part of the coal measure system, it
may be expected to contain some stone coal,
but it is not rich in this mineral. It is found
at numerous points, however, throughout
Jefferson and Marion Counties, and it un-
doubtedly extends much further. It is of
considerable local importance, being used ex-
tensively in this district, and has been opened
at numerous points. At some places, this
coal is quite pure and free from sulphur, but
at others it contains much sulphuret of

The slaty, fossiliferous limestone, which
is a certain indication of the coal, has been
noticed north of the " Limestone Branch. "
In Jordan's Prairie, at Rome, the coal is
struck in every well, only ten feet below the
surface, and is probably ten inches thick.
At the edge of the prairie southeast from
Rome, the coal has been mined to some ex-
tent, especially in the southwest part of Sec-
tion 18. At that point the bed is fourteen
inches thick, of which at least ten is good
coal. The coal has likewise been found near
the middle of the north line of the northeast



quarter of Section 24 and farther east, and at
other points in this portion of the connty.
In all places it was from ten to twelve inches
thick, and accompanied with shales, the cal-
careous slate and sandstone.

The of&cial snrvey, and a description of
all the noteworthy discoveries in the county
leads to the conclusion that all the coal
which is near the surface in the county,
with the exception of that in the south-
west corner, belongs to one stratum, which,
is in some places divided in two by a parting
of shale, and which is the sarne that extends
all over the adjoining county of Marion.
The stratum, at a few points, exceeds one and
a half feet in thickness of good coal, and is
frequently thinner. Where it is thicker, it
generally contains impure portions. It is at
many points of a very good quality, and. as
the country is broken, it can be profitably
worked in numerous localities by stripping
along the outcropping edges. It is. there-
fore, well adapted to supply the local de-
mand for coal throughout the county at a
very moderate cost. The coal and accom-
panying strata are neither horizontal nor
dipping in one direction, but they form
waves which follow more or less the surface
configuration of the country. A question
arises whether there is a lower coal bed. of
greater thickness, at an available depth. The
next lower coal seam is that underneath the
Shoal Creek limestone; but this coal, where
it is known on Little Muddy Kiver, near the
west line of the county, is too thin to pay
the expenses i>f deep mining. This seam
may become of some local importance in the
southwest comer of the county, where it can
be worked by stripping along its outcrop on
a limited area, but further on it is covered by
a considerable thickness of the higher strata.
The only remaining coal bed of good prom
ise is, then, the one worked in the coal shaft

at Tamaroa, on the Illinois Central Railroad,
at a depth of about two hundred feet below
the surface, which is the Du Quoin coal.
Tamaroa is a little over four miles west of
the southwest corner of the county, and it
would seem, therefore, as if this coal bed. in
tlie nearest part of the county, could not be
much, if any, deeper. From the same for-
mations, however, in the adjoining counties,
it is believed that this coal dips rapidly
downward from Tamaroa, and in most parts
of Jefi"erson County lies at a considerable
depth. It [would probably be found at the
least depth in the southwest comer of the
county, but even ,there it would hardly be
reached under several hundred feet.

The coal near the surface in this countj- is
the same as the vein near the surface at Cen-
tral City. If a great demand for coal should
arise, this lower coal bed might supply it.
Its depth, at least, would not be greater than
that of many coal pits in other countries,
and the only question would be as to its
thickness, which at Tamaroa amotmts to five
feet eight inches.

The shales accompanying tlie coal bed con-
tain generally much kidney-iron ore — an im-
pure carbonate of iron in sub-globular con-
cretions, or in flat bodies or sheets. The ag-
gregate quantity of this ore is large, but it is
probably ;not concentrated at any one point
in sufficient quantity and of sufficient piurity
to be, for the present, of practical value for
the production of iron. Some pieces of galena
have been found scattered over the country,
such as occur in the drift in many other
cotmties of the State. The water in some
parts of the county is impregnated with salts,
originating principally from the decomposi-
tion of the sulphate of iron contained in
the coal or shales, and from the action
of the sulphate of iron thus produced
upon the strata which it percolates. Thus.



other and more complex combiaations of salts
are formed, such as magnesia salts, alums,
etc. As the coal seam is near the surface in
many neighborhoods, wells are frequently
sunli down to it or the accompanying strata,
and this well-water contains thpse salts in
variable quantities, which are often sufficient-
ly large to prevent the use of the water for
household purposes. Thus it is at Mount
Yernon, at Rome, in some parts of Horse
Prairie, especially at the Stone-Coal branch,
and at other places.

The strongest mineral water, probably, in
the countj- is the springs of Dr. William Duff
Green, in the southeastern part of the city of
Mount Yernon. There are several of these
springs. They issue from the side of a shal-
low ravine, at the same level, a few feet from
each other, from a highly ferruginous
stratum, which is apparently the slaty shale,
with the iron ore above the coal seam here
changed beyond recognition by the long- con-
tinued influence of the mineral water. These
springs all contain a considerable quantity
of iron combined with other salts. A re-
markable fact is that the water of all of them
is not quite the same. The difference con-
sists, however, principally in the relative
quantity of the salts. The springs evidently
emanate from the same stratiun, but, passing
through different pwrtions of the rock, the
water mav come in contact with slightly dif-
ferent mineral substances.

The temperature of the running springs is
the mean temperature of the earth in this
latitude, or, what is the same, that of a deep,
cool cellar; but one spring, which is by Dr.
Green called " Tepid Spring," differs from
the others in various respects. It is warmer
than the others, at least in summer, because,
not running as freely as they do, its water is
stationary, and assumes the temperature of
the air. It does not freeze in winter, which

is, apparently, not a consequence of intrinsic
heat, but of its saline character. Its water
has a milky hue, because the iron salts which
it contains begin tj decompose in the orifice
of the spring, where they are long exposed to
the oxidizing influence of the air, without
being discharged. Such is the simple ex-
planation, based on the teaching of science,
of some facts which have been regarded as
wonderful mysteries. Nature's works seem
mysterious, but all conform to definite laws,
which, when the principles are once under-
stood, appear clear and plain as daylight.
A small quantity of gas is devolved in the
springs, either through the action of sulphates
upon carbonates in the strata or perhaps al-
together by a vegetation of a low order,
which rapidly grows and coats the orifice of
the springs, and. under the direct action of
the sun's rays, exhales oxygen. Although
originally similar, the waters of these difi'er-
ent springs now, very probably, have a differ-
ent medicinal effect upon the system.

Building material is found in the county
in large quantities. Sandstone, for founda-
tions, the walling of wells and for all ordi-
nary and heavy masonry, can be readily ob-
tained in nearly all parts of the county.
Good quarries are already known in large
numbers, and with little labor many new
ones might be opened in convenient loca-
tions, as sandstones form the principal sub-
strata of the countv. The limestone is gen-
erally impure, siliceous or argillaceous. At
some points it can be burnt and used for
making mortar, and if the demand were
suUicient better quarries might be opened,
and a better article might be obtained. The
fossiliferous, slaty limestone, or calcareous
slate, is tmdoubtedly a superior fertilizer, but
has not yet been used as such. Its wide dis-
tribution over the county will render it valu-
able in fnttire times. Brick mav be manu-



factored wherever needed ; and of line timber
of various kinds — white oak, black oak,
post oak, black walnut, etc. — there is an ex-
cellent supply.

The agricultural excellence of the county,
which is fully up to the standard of any of
the counties in this portion of the State, will
be treated of further along in this work.







"Wrapped in clouds and darkness, and defying
historic scrutiny."

THROUGHOUT the Ohio and Mississippi
Valleys, as well as many portions of
North America, and extending into South
America, are found the remains of a former
race of inhabitants, of whose origin and his-
tory we have no record, and who are only
known to us by the relics that are found in
the tumuli which they have left. The Mound-
Builders were a numerous people, entirely
distinct from the North American Indians,
and they lived so long before the latter that
they are not known to them by tradition.
They were evidently industrious and domes-
tic in their habits, and the finding of large
sea shells in the Illinois mounds, which
must have been brought from the Gulf of
Mexico, if not from more distant shores, proves
that they had communication and trade with
other tribes. Perhaps the most interesting
fact connected with this ancient people is
that they had a written language. This is
proved by pome inscribed tablets that have
been discovered in the mounds, the most im-
portant of which belong to the Davenport
Academy of Sciences. These tablets have

* By W. H. Perrin.

attracted gi-eat attention from archseologiste,
and it is thought they will some time prove
of great value as records of the people who
wrote them. It is still uncertain whether the
language was generally tinderstood by the
Mound-Buildeis, or whether it was confined
to a few persons of high rank. In the
mound where two of these tablets were dis-
covered, the bones of a child were found, par-
tially preserved by contact with a large
number of copper beads, and as copper was
a rare and precious metal with them, it would
seem that the mound in question was used
for burial of persons of high rank. The in-
scriptions have not been deciphered, for no
key to them has yet been found; we are to-
tally ignorant of the derivation of the lan-
guage, or its aifinities with other written

The Mound-Builders lived while the mam-
moth and mastodon were upon the earth, as
is clearly proved by the carvings upon some
of their elaborate stone pipes. From the size
and other peculiarities of the pipes, it is in-
ferred that smoking was not habitual with
them, but that it was reserved as a sort of
ceremonial observance. Our knowledge of
the habits and customs of the Mound-Builders



is very incomplete, but it ia sufficient to show
that at least a part of this country was onco
inhabited by a people who have passed away
without leaving so much as a tradition of
their existence, and who are only known to
us through the silent relics which have been
interred for centuries. A people utterly for-
gotten, a civilization totally lost! Oblivion
has drawn her impenetrable veil over their
history. No printed page intelligible to us,
or sculptm-ed monument, inform us who they
were, whence they came or whither they
went. In vain has science sought to pene-
trate the gloom and solve thejiroblem locked
in the breast of the voiceless jiast, but ev^ry
theory advanced, every reason assigned etids
where it began, in speculation.

" Ye moldering relics of departed years,
Your names have perished; not a trace remains.

Save where the grass-grown mound its summit rears
From the green bosom of your native plains.
Say, do your spirits wear oblivion's chains?

Did death forever quench your hopes and fears?"

There are no traces of the Mound-Builders
to be found in Jefferson County. From the
relics they have left of their existence, it
seems they kept near the water, as the most
extensive mounds and earthworks are found
in the vicinity of the lakes of the North and
along our great rivers. Two of the largest
mounds in the United States are located in
Illinois and West Virginia — the great mound
in the American Bottom ^between Alton and
East St. Lotris, denominated the " Monarch
of all similar structures in the United
States," and that located near the junction
of Grave Creek with the Ohio Kiver in West
Virginia. Along the Illinois and Wabash
Elvers, many of these mounds may still be
seen, though hundreds of the smaller ones
have been leveled with the earth by the plow-
share. At Palestine and Hutsonville, 111.,
and at Merom, Ind., on the Wabash Eiver,

are extensive groups. The Hutsonville group
contains fifty-nine mounds, and vary in size
from eighteen to fifty feet in diameter at the
base: They were scientifically examined 3
few years ago by Prof. Putnam, of Boston,
who made an extended report of them to the
Boston Historical Society.

The Indians. — Of the Red Indians, but lit-
tle is known of them prior to the discovery
of the country by the Eiu'opeans. They
were found here, but how long they had
been in possssion historians have no definite
means of knowing. Their origin is a ques-
tion that has long interested archaeologists,
and is one of the most difficult they have
been called on to answer. Many theories
tipon the subject are entertained, but all,
alike, are more or less unsatisfactory. It is
believed by some that they were an original
race, indigenous to the Western Hemisphere.
A more common sup])Osition, however, is that
ttiey are a derivative race, and sjirang from
one or more of the ancient peoples of Asia.
In the absence of all authentic history, and
even when tradition is wanting, any attempt
to jjoint the particular theater of their ori-
gin mast prove unsuccessful. For centuries
they have lived without progi'ess, while the
Caircasian variety of the race, under the
transforming power of art, science and im-
proved systems of civil polity, have made
the most rapid advancement.

The advent of the whites upon the shores
of the western continent engendered in the
red man's bosom a spark of jealousy, which,
by the impolitic course of the former, was
soon fanned into a blaze, and a contest was
thereby inaugurated that sooner or later
must end in the utter extermination of the lat-
ter. But the struggle was long and bitter.
Many a campaign was planned by warriors
worthy and tit to command armies, for the
destruction of the pale-faced invaders.



When King Philip struck the blow which he
hoped would forever crush the growing
power of the white men, both sides recog-
nized the supreme importance of the contest,
and the courage and resources of the New
England colonists were taxed to the utmost
to avoid a defeat which meant destruction
final and complete. When Tecumseh organ-
ized the tribes of the West for a last and
desperate effort to hold their own against
the advancing tide of civilization, it was a
duel to the death, and the conquerors were
forced to pay dearly for the victory which to
them was salvation. When the Creeks chal-
lenged the people of the South to mortal
combat, it required the genius of a Jackson
and soldiers worthy of such a chief to avert
an overwhelming calamity, and the laurels
gathered by the heroes of Talledega, Emuck-
fau, and Tohopeka lost little of their luster
when with them were twined the laurels of
Chalmette. But since the decisive battle of
Tohopeka, March 27, 1814, there has been
no Indian war of any considerable magni-
tude, none certainly which threatened the
supremacy of the whites upon the continent,
or even seriously jeopardized the safety of the
States or Territories where they occurred.
The Black Hawk war, about the last
ortranized effort, required but a few weeks
service of raw militia to quell. Since then,
campaigns have dwindled into mere raids,
battles into mere skirmishes, and the mas-
sacre of Dade's command in Florida and
Custer's in Montana were properly regarded
as accidents of no permanent importance.
A dozen such, melancholy as they might be,
would not, in the least, alarm the country,
and Indian fighting, though not free from
peril, now serves a useful purpose as a train-
ing school for the young graduates of West
Point, who might otherwise go to their
graves at a good old age without ever having
smelled hostile gun -powder.

The Indians as a race are doomed by the
inexorable laws of humanity to speedy and
everlasting extinguishment. Accepting the
inevitable with the stoical indifference which
the instinct of self-preservation or the
prompting of revenge seldom disturb, they
excite pity rather than fear. The recent
Apache uprising, which Gen. Crook sup-
pressed so quickly and cheaply, is the ut-
most the red man can now do in the way of
warlike enterprise. Discouraged and de-
moralized, helpless and hopeless, he sits
down to await a swiftly approaching fate;
and if now and then he treads the war path
and takes a few white scalps, it is more from
force of habit than from any expectation of
crippling the power that is sweeping him
and his out of existence.

Two hundred years ago, however, the
white man lived in America only by the red
man's consent, and less than a hundred years
ago the combined strenorth of the red man
might have driven the white into the sea.
Along our Atlantic coast are still to be seen
the remains of the rude fortifications which
the early settlers built to protect themselves
from the host of enemies around; but to find
the need of such protection now one must go
beyond the Mississippi, beyond the Rocky
Mountains, to a few widely scattered points
in Arizona, New Mexico and Oregon. The
enemy that once camped in sight of the At-
lantic has retreated almost to the shores of
the Pacific, and from that long retreat there
can be no retiurning advance. East of the
stream which he called the " Father of
Waters," nothing is left of the Indian ex-
cept the names he gave and the graves of his
dead, with here and there the degraded
remnants of a once powerful tribe dragging
out a miserable life by the sufferance of
their conquerors. Fifty years hence, if not
in a much shorter period, he will live only
in the pages of history and the brighter im-



mortality of romantic song and story. He
will leave nothing behind him but a memory,
for he has done nothing and been nothing.
He has resisted and will continue to resist
every attempt to civilize him — every at-
tempt to inject the white man's ideas into
the red man's brain. He does not want and
will not have our manners, our morals or
our religion, clinging to his own and perish-
ing with them. The greatest redeeming
feature in his career, so far as that career is
known to us, is that he has always preferred
the worst sort of freedom to the best sort of
slavery. Had he consented to become a
hewer of wood and drawer of water for the
superior race, he might, like our American-
ized Africans, be enjoying the blessings of
Bible and breeches, sharing the honors of
citizenship and the delights of office, seeking
and receiving the bids of rival political par-
ties. Whether his choice was a wise one,
we leave our readers to determine ; but it is
impossible not to feel some admiration for
the indomitable spirit that has never bowed
its neck to the' yoke, never called any man
"master." The Indian is a savage, but he
never was, never will be a slave.

If the treatment of the red man by the
white had been uniformly or even generally
honest and honorable, the superior race
might contemplate the decay and disap-
pearance of the inferior without remorse, if
not without regret. But unfortunately that
treatment has been, on the whole, dishonest
and dishonorable. In a speech in New York
City, not long before his death. Gen. Sam
Houston, an indisputable authority in such
matters, declared with solemn emphasis that
"there never was an Indian war in which the
white man was not the agressor. " The facts
sustain an assertion which carries its own
comment. But aggression leading to war is
not the heaviest sin against the Indian. He


has been deceived, he has been cheated, he
has been robbed; and the deception, cheat-
ing and robbery has taught him that the red
man has no rights which the white man feels
bound to respect. Whatever else he may be,
he is no fool, and with the dismal experience
of more than 250 years burning his soul, is
it any wonder that they will have none of
our manners, our morals, or our relia'ion ?
" My son, " said the mother of a too
often whipped boy, " why will you not

Online LibraryWilliam Henry PerrinHistory of Jefferson County, Illinois → online text (page 13 of 76)