William Henry Perrin.

History of Jefferson County, Illinois online

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not endure its restraints, and he despised its
comforts and pleasures. He yearned for free-
dom — freedom in its fullest sense, applied to
all property, life and everj-thing, here and here-
after. He had branched out into the wilder-
ness, cut loose from his kind, and he did not
burn the bridges behind him, because there
were none to burn. He hunted, fished, cut
bee trees, and cultivated a small patch in the
waj' of a farm. He lived and moved without
fear of the Indians, and felt as secure in his
cabin as though it had been a fortified castle ;
but in everything — every perilous act, every

dangerous feat — there must be a last one. The
pitcher went once too often to the fountain,
and Moore finally- made his last excursion.

Mr. Johnson thus tells the story of his tragic
death : " Moore and his son, a boj- some eight
or ten years of age, went one da}- on horseback
to Jordan's settlement, to mill, expecting to re-
turn the same evening or the next day. But
the nest day passed without bringing the ab-
sent ones, and after a night of fear and appre-
hension, Mrs. Moore took her children and set
off down the path to meet her husband. They
plodded along until they finally reached the
mill, when, to their great grief, thej' learned
from Jordan that Moore and his boj- had got
their grinding, and had started home in due
time. The anguish of the poor woman at this
dismal news was most distressing. She begged
for help to look for her husband and child, and
as many as dared leave the settlement at once
turned out and engaged in the search. For
several days they scoured the woods along the
trail, but found no trace of the missing, and
finally the search was reluctantl}- abandoned.
Mrs. Moore, desolate and heart-broken, returned
to her cabin, gathered together her few posses-
sions, and removed down into the neighborhood
of the Saline. A few years later, a brother of
Mrs. Moore, named Bales, his son-in-law, a Mr.
Fannin, and a Mr. Fipps. a son-in law of Mrs.
Moore, moved up to the prairie, and Mrs.
Moore returned with them. A hunting part}-
some years afterward found a human skull
stuck upon a snag or broken limb of au elm
tree, near the creek, and but a mile or two
south of where Moore had lived. When Mrs.
Moore heard of this, she said that if it was her
husband's, it would be known by his having
lost a certain tooth from his upper jaw. Upon
examination it was found that that tooth, and
no other, was lacking. Fully persuaded now
that it was the scull of her poor, unfortunate
husband, she took it to her home, and kept it
sacredly as long as she lived." There is a com-



fort and a blessing in the sweet recollection of
having once been all the world to auotber, and
with a love such as only a true woman knows,
Mrs. Moore preserved the ghastly reliu, cher-
ished it and wept over it, and to her last da^-s
seemed to take a sad and mournful pleasure in
showing it to her friends. She fiuall_y returned
to the old town of Equality, and died there.

No other intelligence of Moore's fate or that
of his son was ever received by his family or
friends. It was the generally accepted theory
that the Indians surprised them, killed the
father, and to satisfy their fiendish cruelty, cut
oS his head, placed it where it was found, and
carried the boy away into captivity, taking the
horses and meal with them. The body of the
murdered man, no doubt, was devoured by wild

Such was the first attempt at a settlement in
the county, and its tragic and melanchol}' ter-
mination. The next attempt, and what may
perhaps, be termed the first permanent settle-
ment, was in 1816, by Carter Wilkey. About
the same time or very soon after, Daniel Cren-
shaw and Robert Cook came to the country.
All these settled in Moore's Prairie, which re-
ceived its name from Andrew Moore, whose
settlement is above noticed. Crenshaw moved
into Moore's deserted cabin, and Wilkey, who
was single, boarded at Crenshaw's. Cook set-
tled in the lower end of the prairie, where Mr.
Brookins afterward lived. Wilkey was a native
of (Georgia, but removed from that State to
Tennessee, where he enlisted in the war of 1812.
Being under age, his mother succeeded in get-
ting him out of the armj' after a few months'
service. Both he and Robert Cook were con-
nected with a surveying party, engaged in sur-
veying the lands in this part of the State. A
Mr. Bcrr)- was the surveyor, and Cook was at-
tached to his part}' as " baggage master," having
in charge the tent, camp equipage, etc. Car-
ter Wilkey was the "commissary" — the hunts-
man, who furnished the game for the use of the

party. This surveying was done in 1815, and
the next spring Wilkey came back to stay, as
already noted. Crenshaw repaired Moore's
cabin, and cultivated his improvement, while
Wilkey raised a crop during the summer of
1816, in the prairie about a quarter of a mile
west of Crenshaw's. In the foil. Barton Atchi-
son came and bought Wilkey 's crop, and set-
tled near Cook's. Next came Mrs. Wilkey —
the mother of Carter — and her famil}', Maxey
Wilkey — an older brother of Carter's — and his
wife and child. They all arrived at Crenshaw's
on the 22d of October, 1816, and spent the
winter in one of his cabins— Crenshaw's wife
was Mrs. Wilkcy's niece. Thus, at the close
of the year 1816, the population of the region
of country now embraced within the limits of
Jefferson Couuty consisted of five families—
the Wilkeys, Crenshaws, Cook and Atchison
and Carter Wilkey, who, though single, was not
" his own man" — probably less than twenty

A modern writer refers to the first inhabit-
ants of the Great West as men and women of
that " hardy race of pioneers to whom the
perils of the wilderness are as nothing, if only
that wilderness be free." The eulogium is scarce-
ly less creditable to the writer than to the sub-
jects of it. Wliile like produces like, heroic
men and women will spring fi'om heroic ances-
tors. And the people of the West, the pioneers
wh6 peopled this broad domain, were as much
heroes as though they had swayed the destinies
of an empire, or commanded the armies of the
world. Of the first settlers of the county,
whom we have already mentioned, a few words
additional are not out of place.

Maxey Wilkey was a soldier of the war of
1812, and served in the armies of the North
until peace was made. He claimed to have
been at the death of Tecumseh, who was killed
at the battle of the Thames. This is not un-
like the story of Washington's servant, inas-
much as the men who saw the great warrior




pass to the happy hunting-grounds are about
as numerous as Washington's bodj- servants.
Though it is not improbable that Mr. Wilke}-
witnessed it, as he claims to have been in the
battle of the Thames. The following upon the
subject is from Johnson's sketches : '• He says
the Indian was wounded in the thigh, fell
from his horse, and was surrounded aud taken.
It was believed that the prisoner was Tecum-
seh, but he refused to speak. Gen. Harrison
was called to the spot, recognized the chief, but
could get no answer from him, aud left him to
his fate. The soldiers took charge of him, and
he soon after died. The old man tells me that
he saw two razor strops taken off the dead In-
dian's back, and a third from his thigh, that is,
strips of skin about two by twelve inches in
size." This story is not only a little " wild,"
but contradictory of i-ecognized histor}-. That
the old soldier witnessed the circumstance he
relates maj- not be at all untrue, but that the
Indian was Tecumseli is most improbable.

After the close of the war and his discharge
from the army, Masey "V\'^ilke3- married a Miss
Caldwell, and came to Illinois, as already stated,
In the fall of 1816. He was a great hunter,
and thought far more of the excitement of the
chase than of the accumulation of worldly
wealth, hence he remained comparativelj* poor.
He was an extraordinary man in many respects,
and his wife was an extraordinarj' woman. She
was the mother of eighteen children, and in
that respect she was more extraordinary than
many of her pioneer lady friends. Mr. John-
son relates the following of an interview he had
with Wilkey a short time before his death :
" His present homestead adjoins the lauds on
which he settled, aud he and his aged wife live
nearl)- alone, both, however, are stout and vig-
orous for people of their age. The old man is
as erect as a General, and looks about filtj'
years of age, though upward of eighty. His
wife, at the time of my visit, was just recover-
ing from a severe illness. In the course of our

conversation, he remarked, in his characteristic
style, ' That woman, sir, that you see lying up-
on her bunk, is the mother of eighteen children,
twelve sons and six daughters, and six of the
sons are still living.' He also stated that he
was one of the little party that opened out the
old 'Goshen Trail,' and made it a wagon-road.'
Carter AViikey, the younger of the two Wil-
keys, and the first one to come to the county,
after a few years returned to Tennessee, where
he learned the carpenter's trade. When he
came back to Illinois, he still made his home
with Crenshaw. A great emigration had now
sprung up from Kentuck}- and Tennessee to the
" Sangamo country." Emigrations to the mid-
dle or northern part of the State were termed go-
ing to the "Sangamo," and it was no uncommon
sight to see a hundred wagons in a single com-
pan\- going north. Crenshaw's was the great
camping-place for emigrants on their way to
the new promised land. Carter Wilkej- long
followed the business of going to Carmi, a dis-
tance of fortj' miles, with two or three pack-
horses, and bringing back meal to sell to these
" movers.'' This would seem a small business
in this dav of railroads, as he could only bring
two or three sacks of meal at a time, but as he
sold it at $2 a bushel, it was a lucrative busi-
ness for that early day. In the meantime.
Dempsey Wood had moved into the settlement
with four stalwart sons — John, Ben, Lawson
and Aleck. Ben was a carpenter, and he and
Carter Wilkey at once began to work at the
business in partnership. They built manj of
the first houses (we do not mean cabins) in the
countr}-. They built the first house on Jordan's
Prairie ; the}' built the Clerk's office in Mc-
Leansboro, the first house erected in that town ;
they built or helped to build the first bridge
over Casey's Fork of Muddy Creek. They
agreed to furnish the lumber for the bridge
floor by a certain Saturday-, and it was Monday
morning when they went to work. The amount
required was 1,660 feet, 2x10 inch-stuli', and



all had to be sawed b^' hand with a whip-saw.
They sawed the lumber, and had it on the
ground by 10 o'clock on Saturday morning.

Wilkej- afterward went to Burlington, Iowa,
where he was engaged for some time in the
provision and grocery business, then as a drug-
gist, and finally studied medicine under Dr.
Hasbrook of that city. He practiced medicine
for many }'ears, and was a ver}- active and en-
ergetic business man. He used to trade in
horses and cattle, and bought up and took many
hundred of them to the southern markets. He
was married in 1821 to Miss Brunetta Casey, a
daughter of Isaac Casey. Of the others of the
Wilkej' family, a daughter married Abel Allen,
another one married Jacob Weldon, and another
a Mr. Robinson. Dick Wilkey, as he was
called, married a Kirkendale.

Crenshaw sold out in 1822, and went to Ad-
ams County, where he afterward died. He was
a good man and got along well. iS^ot strictly
religious, but honest and upright, free and lib-
eral in his views, and believed in the young
people enjoying themselves, on the principle
that '• all work and no play makes Jack a dull
boj'." His cabin was always open to the wan-
dering minister of Christ, the frontier mission-
ar}-, who received a warm welcome when he
called, and was pressed to stay and preach to
the neighbors, who were hastily- summoned
from the highways and by-ways of the wilder-
ness. The young people always found equally
as warm a welcome when they met there for a
backwoods frolic and dance. Crenshaw's trade
was the making of "saddle-trees," and he used
to make saddles, bringing his materials from

Barton Atchison was also in the war of 1812,
and was a character in his wa}'. He was a
man who moved ever^'thiug by his own prompt-
ings ; he knew little or nothing of the rules of
society and he cared less. He was an honest
man, and as rough of speech as rough could be
— a genuine rough diamond. He was long a

County Commissioner, and held other offices
to the satisftiction of the people. He was a
great story-teller, and delighted to relate his
adventures in the arm3' and elsewhere. Mr.
Johnson tells the following as one of his arm3'
stories : " The army was encamped for some
time at a certain point, and during their stay
there, he and a companion went out one even-
ing to take a hunt. It soon began to snow,
and as they wandered in the pathless woods
they became bewildered, and night overtook
them before thej- reached camp. To lie down
was to freeze, and to walk on was to risk get-
ting farther away, of rushing into unknown
dangers, and of finally perishing in the snow.
At length, to their great joy, they came to an
old unoccupied cabin, and they hastened to
take shelter beneath its friendly roof Thej'
shook off the snow, and were about to wrap their
mantles around them and lie down to pleasant
dreams, otherwise roll up in their army blank-
ets, prepare to pass the night, when Atchi-
son bethought him that, perchance, the in-
clemency of the weather miglit bring other
company, either wild beast or Indian, to the
cabin, and it prove, after all, a dangerous rest-
ing place. So finding a part of a loft, two
courses of boards laid on poles, thej* climbed up
and made their beds. The wisdom of his
suggestion \\a.s soon apparent, as in a little
while a band of Indians came in and took
possession of the cabin, one of whom was
the tallest Indian they had ever seen. The
new-comers kindled a fire, roasted a little meat
and began a night carousal, After some time
Atchison shifted his position in order to see a
little better, wlieu the boards tipped up, and he
and his companion and the loft all came clatter-
ing down on the Indians' heads. This was too
much for a people both cowardly and supersti-
tious, and they fled in terror and confusion."

Atchison, as wc have said, was an active man,
and took considerable interest in county affiiirs.
He raised a large family, and still has many



living descendants in tiie county, of whom
mucli will be said in other chapters of this
work. He died a few years ago at an advanced
age, leaving many warm friends to mourn his
deatli. At one time and another he held many
county otBces, and in each and all he was ever
honest and faithful. His learning, so far as the
schoolbooks go, was limited and meager, but
his practical education was good, and was
gained by daily experience with men and
things. Such were the men and the families
who made the first settlement in this county.
We deem no excuse necessar}- for the extended
sketch given of these, the first settlers — the
advance guard, as it were, of the grand army of
emigrants who have followed, and in the years
that have come and gone, have given to Jefler-
son Country a population not surpassed by any
count}- in the State.

The next settlement made after those already
described was made in the fall of 1816 by a
man named Thompson. He did not remain
long, however, and of him very little is known.
In the winter following (1816-17), several fami-
lies moved into the new settlement. Of these
were Theophilus Cook, the Widow Hicks and a
few others. Cook settled near Sloo's Point.*

He had served in the war of 1812, and was
a man whom everybody that knew him loved
and honored him. His Christian character was
pure, and so far as man can judge, without spot
or blemish. As a husband, father, neighbor,
friend, he lived above reproach. He left a
familj' of five sons and six daughters, several
of whom are still living.

Mrs. Hicks was the widow of John Hicks,
one of the seven men who fell in the battle of
New Orleans January 8, 1815. Hicks was

* Regarding the name of Sloo's Point, Mr. Johnson, in his
sketches, says: "Almost as soon as this county was surveyed,
Thomas Sloo of Shawneetown, came in and entered about one hun-
dred quarter-sections of land in diflerent parts of what is now Jeffereon
County. John T. Johnson lives on one of these quarter-sections ; on
the southenstern part of Moore's Prairie was a long point of timl)er,
lying on the waters of Uchshire's Creek; and Sloo had entered a
good deal of the land in this vicinity — iienco the name. Among
other entries, I believe, was the laud on which William Scrivner


standing by the side of Theophilus Cook when
he received his death wound. He left three
children, Stephen G. and two daughters. After
the war was over. Carter Wilkey, who was a
brother of Mrs. Hicks, visited her in Georgia,
where she lived, and induced her to remove
with her family to Illinois. It was a terrible
journey to be made in winter in that early day,
and rendered doubly so by the hostile demon-
strations frequently' made by the faithless In-
dians. They finally arrived, however, in safety.
It was about this time that a man named Hodge
moved in and settled on the place where Abra-
ham Irvin afterward lived for many years. Mrs.
Robinson came about the same time, as also
Fannin, Fipps, Bales and Mrs. Moore, widow
of Andrew Moore (whose murder by the In-
dians has alreadj' been noticed), moved back
to Moore's Prairje.

The settlements so far described were made
in that portion of Jefferson County originally
belonging to White Count}-. The northern line
of White Count}' then ran about four miles
south of the present city of Mount Vernon,
dividing Township 3 south, and extending west
to the Third Principal Meridian, and all north
of that line was in Edwards County. Moore's
Prairie, where the first settlement of the county
began, was in the northwest part of White
County. The next settlement we shall notice
sprang up in what was then the southwestern
part of Edwards County, and was in the im-
mediate vicinity of Mount Vernon.

The circumstances which led to the second set-
tlement were somewhat as follows : Some time
about the spring of 1816, a man of the name
of Black came up from Pope County, on a
hunt, and upon his return told fabulous
stories of the country he had seen, and es-
pecially of a beautiful prairie where perennial
flowers seemed to bloom, and the richest lux-
uriance gave token of an earthly paradise.
His "description of the fruitful lands ho had
visited excited in his neighbors and friends a



burning desire to see and learn for themselves.
Among others to whom he related his wonder-
ful stories were the Caseys, who lived near
Cave-in-Rock, and thev at once determined to
visit this fabled land. In the fall following
the trip of Black to this section, the Caseys
came on a tour inspection. This was the first
sight any of the Caseys had of what is now
Jefferson County.

Isaac Casey and two sons, William and
Thomas, in the autumn of 1816, started out to
visit Black's Prairie, of which he had given so
glowing an account. They missed it, however,
nor did the}- strike any prairie until they came
to the small one in which Mount Vernon was
afterward built. They stopped at Crenshaw's,
and he, glad to meet new-comers, as all pio-
neers were, accompanied them in their search
of locations. They went a few miles beyond
where Mount Vernon is situated, and then re-
turned to Crenshaw's and finally home. The
following spring, Isaac Casey came back, and
his son William, his daughter Katy, and his
son-in-law, Isaac Hicks, came with him for the
purpose of founding a settlement. They built
a cabin or camp in the open prairie, and culti-
vated a small patch of ground near where the
Methodist Church now stands. While thus en-
camped in the prairie, they had no trouble in
procuring meat, as game was abundant; honey,
too, was more abundant still. But bread was
a serious matter, and to procure it Mr. Casej-
and his daughter would go on horseback to
the Wabash bottoms beyond Carmi for meal.
He would ride one horse and lead one, while his
daughter would ride another, and thus three
" turns " of meal would be brought back. In
the fall, they all returned to the Ohio River,
where they had come from, and brought out
tJie rest of their families, their stock and such
other property as they possessed. William Casey
moved into the camp or cabin above referred
to, Isaac Casey erected his cabin near by and
Isaac Hicks located near the place where he

died ; other families followed soon after. Kellj'
settled on the hill and remained there until the
capital of the State was moved to Vandalia.
He then moved to that place and became an
officer in the first bank ever established there.
An old man named H}-nes settled a little west
of Kelly, out on the Goshen road, where for
some years he kept a public house; afterward he
moved up North, where he died. Further up the
Goshen road, William Goings settled. He was
considered a bad man ; he made millstones,
and it was believed that he made counterfeit
money, too. He was finally, after the settle-
ment had increased a little more, given warn-
ing to leave the countr}-, a warning he obeyed
with alacrit}', and in his vacant house many
relics of the counterfeiting business, it is said,
were found. James and John Abbott. John
Utesler, Mr. StuU and Archibald Harris came
in during the latter part of the year 1817.
They were from Orange County, Ind., and upon
their arrival here they settled in the neighbor-
hood above noticed.

Zadok Casey, of whom we shall have more
to say hereafter, came in the spring of
1817 and settled on the place where Mr. J.
R. Moss now lives. He reared his cabin on a
slight elevation of land, which he called Red
Bud Hill. Abraham Casey, his brother, came
the next year, and settled near where Joseph
Pace lives. A son, Clark Casej', came with him
and settled on what is called the ' Mulberry
Hill." Lewis Watkins settled about a mile
south of the Atchison place, where he sold goods
for a time. Thomas Jordan located in the
edge of the prairie which was named for him.
The place is now known as the McConnell
place, and his brother William settled in the
edge of Moore's Prairie. William Jordan, Jr.,
settled on Seven Mile Creek, and Oliver Morris
settled near Joseph Jordan's first location.

While these accessions were being made to
the new settlements, another, and a quite im-
portant one, was on the waj-. This was a Ten-



nessee colony of six families, consisting of
William Maxey, James E. Davis, James John-
son, Nathaniel Parker, John Wilkerson and H.
B. Maxey. They organized themselves into a
colony, and all started from William Maxey's,
in Tennessee, and quite a lively trip they had
of it. Fipps, who lived in Knight's Prairie, was
the only man they found between the Saline
and Crenshaw's, where they stopped. They
arrived May 9, 1818, and camped in the edge
of Moore's Prairie. Here they raised a small
crop in the edge of the prairie, inclosed with a
brush fence, and in the fall they moved up to
the other settlement — all except Parker, who
did not relish the gloomy aspect of the country,
and moved back to Allen County, Ky. James
Johnson settled near the place where he died ;
Wilkerson, where Simon King afterward lived ;
William Maxey, at the old Maxey place, and
II. B. Maxey in the little prairie where Ward
now lives. James E. Davis settled where Sam
Edwards afterward lived. In September fol-
lowing the arrival of this colony, Edward
Maxej- moved into the settlement. He came
from Allen County, Ky., and settled on the
branch, northeast of what is now Judge Satter-
field's farm, on the present Richview road.
About the same time, Fleming Greenwood
came ; his son-in-law lived near what is now
Thomas McMeen's place. James and William
Hicks also came during the fall or winter.
James bought Clark Casey's place on Mulberrj'
Hill ; William was single, but afterward mar-
ried the Widow Dodds.

According to the historical sketches of Mr.

Online LibraryWilliam Henry PerrinHistory of Jefferson County, Illinois → online text (page 15 of 76)