William Henry Perrin.

History of Jefferson County, Illinois online

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Johnson, from which we have so often quoted,
and which are considered bj- the old citizens
generallj- to be substantially correct, the fore-
going is believed to comprise a very full and
complete list of the families who settled within
the present limits of the territory of Jefferson
prior to its organization as a distinct and in-
dependent county. There may have been a
few who came and remained but a short time,

and then left, but as to permanent settlers, the
list, perhaps, is as nearly correct as it is pos-
sible to make now, after all these years.

Illinois was still a Territor}- when the first
white people came to Jefferson County. These
early settlers were men inured to toil and
danger. They had been reared, manj' of them,
amid scenes of peril and savage warfare, where
the howl of the wolf, the scream of the panther,
and the yell of the Indian were familiar music
to their ears. Some of them had not reached
life's meridian, but they were hopeful, cour-
ageous and determined. They were poor in
actual worth, but rich in possibilities, and were
read}' to face danger and endure cold and hun-
ger, if a home stood at the end of their journey
beckoning them on. For the grand simplicity
of their lives and their sturd}' virtue, these
early settlers achieved recognition and fame, as
Enoch Arden did — after death. It was their
lot to plant civilization here, and in doing it
they displayed virtues which render modern
civilization a boast and a blessing. In their
little space of time they made greater progress
than ten centuries had witnessed before. The
work thirtj' generations had left undone they
performed, and the abyss between us of to-day
and the pioneers of Jetferson County is wider
and more profound than the chasm between
1815 and the battle of Hastings. They did so
much that it is hard to recognize the doers.
" They builded wiser than they knew," and the
monuments to their energy and industry still
stand in perpetuation of their memory.

The first settlements of the' county were made
under difficulties, and amid hardships and dan-
gers. As we have said, the people were poor.
The}' had come here with a meager outfit of
this world's goods, expecting to increase their
stores and provide homes for their children.
Some of their experiences in their new homes
are thus detailed by Mr. Johnson, the faithful
chronicler of the early history of the countj' :

" The farms, as in most new countries, were



mere patches, inclosed with rails or brush, and
sometimes not inclosed at all. The houses
were round-pole cabins, but in rare cases made
of small logs — '• skelped down," or very slightly
hewn, sometimes of split logs smoothed a little
on the face. Some of the cracks in the wall
were chinked and daubed, while some were left
open to admit light and serve as windows.
Some of the cabins had cracks all around that
a dog could jump through. If the floor was
anything else than the bare ground, it was made
of puncheons or slabs, fastened down with
wooden pins, or not fastened at all. * * *
* * Shelves resting on long pins in the walls
answered for cupboard, pantry, bureau and
wardrobe. There were but few bedsteads in
the county. Bed scaffolds were made on two
rails or pieces driven into the walls, one for the
side and one for the end, in the corner of the
cabin, the other end of these rails being let into
a post — the entire structure frequently having
but one bed-post. Boards were laid across
from the long rail to the wall, and on these the
bed, if the happy family had any, was laid.
The table was either made of boards nailed to
a rough, unwieldy frame, or it was made on
stakes driven into the (ground) floor. The well-
to-do had a pot and a skillet ; some broiled
their meat on the coals, and cooked their
" Johnnj'-cake " on a board. The cook-stove
is a modern invention, and was then unknown
in the West.

" Isaac and William Casej' constructed a little
hand-mill that would grind a bushel or two a
day, and the}- did well. But many of the first
settlers had to beat their meal in a mortar,
which was generally a stump with a basin
burnt out in the top of it. The meal thus made
was sifted through a sieve made by punching a
piece of deer-skin full of holes with a hot
wheel-spindle, and stretching it (the deer-skin,
not the spindle) over a hoop. In the early
autumn, meal vpas grated, and the bread made

of this meal and baked in the ashes, or on a

board, was as delicious as heart could wish.


'■ Most of the hats and caps were made of
skins, often of the most fantastic shape. After
the original supply of clothing was exhausted,
the first resource was to make clothing of deer-
skins. These in the hands of the Indians made
excellent clothing; but our first settlers were
not such good tanners, and the clothes did not
do so well. The breeches soon got a tremen-
dous knee, that was a permanent thing. When
'' Aunt Pranky " Johnson was coming out, she
saw a boy in Moore's Prairie dressed in buck-
skin, and she exclaimed in the .sincerity of her
kind heart : " Why, la me, honey, just look at
that poor crippled boy ! " When the men or
boys, in their buckskin suits, went out in the
dewy grass, their breeches' legs would soon be
dangling around their feet, nearly a foot too
long ; and then about ten o'clock, when they
became dry again, they crackled and rustled
about their legs nearly a foot too short. After
the first year or two, however, when people had
time to raise cotton, buckskin gave way to cot-
ton goods, the latter being died with copperas,
the copperas being mingled with white when
variety was desired. People made their own
indigo. The plant they used was bruised and
kept in soak for some time, then wrung out ;
the fluid was churned with a basket to cut the
indigo, then left to settle, and afterward dried
in the sun. The article to " set " the dye was
such as to make it an unpleasant process, and
such as to sometimes draw the buffiilo gnats
around one's Sunday clothes in a most provok-
ing manner." * * » * *

Such was the life, and such the trials of the
first settlers of Jefl'erson County — men who
wrought for their successors the richest and
most enduring legacy in all the world. Most
of them have served out tiieir day and genera-
tion, and have passed away. Their graves,
many of them, are unmarked and unknown, and



their fast receding memories are unhonored
and unsung. They deserve better than this.
Justice demands that a meed of praise be
awarded those great lives whose works will
ripen, and are ripening into the noblest civili-
zation the world has ever known.

In a subsequent chapter we shall give ex-
tended sketches of these pioneer families, whose
settlements have been here noticed. Man}- of
the men who came here in that early day were
giants, and it is meet that they should receive
their deserts from the pen of the historian.
Their country's historj- demands that their
names, their acts and their deeds shall be

placed on record, and preserved for the gener-
ations to come.

It has been said that the American people
take as natural!}- to self-government as a babe
turns to the maternal fount for nourishment.
The truthfulness of the remark is evidenced in
the fact that new counties are formed when
their area contain but a few hundred inhabit-
ants. Thus far we have shown the number of
families locating in Jefferson Count}- prior to
its organization, and with which we will close
this chapter. In a new chapter we will give
the formation of the county, and the circum-
stances which led to the same.







rr^HAT Illinois, now one of the greatest
J- States of the Federal Union, once
formed a county of Virginia is a fact un-
known, perhaps, to a majority of our readers.
In October, 1778, the General Assembly of
Virginia jiassed an act for " establishing the
county of Illinois, and for the more effectual
protection and defense thereof." A clause of
the act reads: " That all the citizens of this
commonwealth, who are already settled, or
shall hereafter settle on the western side of
the Ohio and east of the l^Iississippi, shall be
included in a distinct county, which shall be
called Illinois County." By the provisions
of the act, the Governor of Virginia was to
appoint " a County Lieutenant or Comman-
dant in Chief," who should " appoint and

»By W. H. Perrin.

commission so many Deputy Commandants,
Militia officers and Commissaries," as he
should deem expedient, for the enforcement
of law and order. The civil officers were to
be chosen by a majority of the people, and
were to " exercise their several jurisdictions
and conduct themselves agi'eeable to the laws
which the present settlers are now accus-
tomed to. "

Patrick Henry, the first Governor of Vir-
ginia after the colonies had thrown off the
galling yoke of Britain, appointed John
Todd the County Lieutenant Commandant of
Illinois. At Williamsburg, the capital then
of Virginia, and in the very mansion of the
royal rulers of the whilom colony, Gov.
Henry indicted his letter of appointment to
Todd on the 12th of December, 1778. It



occupies the fii-sfc five pages of the record
book of John Todd's official acts while exer-
cising authority over the connty of Illinois,
and is in Patrick Henry's own hundwi-iting.
This old book, a Valuable relic of the early
history of Illinois, is now in the possession
of the Chicago Historical Society. From its
pages, browned by time and dimmed with
age, some interesting facts are gleaned. The
following, of the first civil Grovernor of Illi-
nois, is not out of place in this connection:

Todd was not unknown on the fi'ontier.
Born in Pennsylvania and educated in Vir-
ginia, he had practiced law in the latter col-
ony for several years, when, in 1775, he re-
moved to Kentuek}', which was then, also, a
county of Virginia. He became very prom-
inent in the councils of its House of Del-
egates, or Representatives, the first legisla-
tive body organized west of the Alleghany
Mountains. Early in 1777, the first court in
Kentucky convened at Harrodsburg, and
Todd was one of the Justices. Shortly after,
he was chosen one of the Representatives of
Kentucky in the Legislature of Virginia, and
proceeded to the capital to fulfill this daty.
The following year he accompanied Gen.
George Rogers Clark in his expedition to
" the Illinois," and was the first man to en-
ter Fort Gage, at Kaskaskia, when it was
taken from the British, and was present at
the final capture of Vincennes.

The record book already referred to of it-
self forms an interesting chapter in the his-
tory of Illinois. After Gov. Henry had in-
dicted upon its pages his letter to Todd, it
was intrusted to a faithful messenger, who,
on foot, carried it from tide water across the
mountains to Fort Pitt, thence down the
Ohio until he met with its destined recipient
and delivered to him his credentials. It is
supposed that Todd received it at Vincennes,
then known to Virginians as St. Vincent, not

long after the siu-render of that place to
Clark on the 24th of February, 1779, and
that he at once assumed his new duties as
Governor, or " Lieutenant Commandant."
This position he held until the time of his
death, although his many duties called him
frequently to Kentucky. In the spi'ing of
1780, he was elected a Delegate from the
county of Kentucky to the Legislature of
Virginia. In November following, Kentucky
was divided into three counties, viz., Fayette,
Lincoln and Jefferson, and in 1781 Thomas
Jefiferson, who, in the meantime, had become
Governor of Virginia, [appointed Todd
Colonel of Fayette County, and Daniel
Boone, Lieutenant Colonel. In the summer
of 1782. Todd visited Richmond, Va., on
business connected with the Illinois country,
where, it is said, he had determined to per-
manently reside, and on his return he stopped
over at Lexington, Ky., jmd while there
met his untimely death. An Indian attack
on a frontier settlement (Bryant Station)
aroused the militia to arms, and Todd, as
Senior Colonel, took command of the little
army sent in pursuit of the retreating sav-
ages. It included Boone and many other
pioneers whose names rank high in the his-
tory of the dark and bloody ground. At the
Blue Licks, on the 18th of August, 1782,
they came up with the enemy, but the head-
long courage of those who would not heed
the prudent counsels of Todd and Boone
precipitated an action which proved more
disastrous to the whites than any ever fought
in Kentucky soil — that sanguinary theater of
savage wai-fare. More than one-third of
those who entered the .fight were killed out-
right and many others wounded. Among
the slam was Todd, who fell, like the brave
man that he was, with his face to the foe,
gallantly fighting at the head of his troops.
On the brow of a small hill overlooking Blue



Licks, and near the spot where he fell, still
rejJosG the mortal remains of the first civil
Governor of Illinois. August 18, 1882, the
centennial of the disastrous battle of Blue
Licks was held on the field where it was
fought, and a resoluton adopted to erect a
monument to the heroes that there fell in
defense of their country.

John Todd was a soldier and a statesman.
He was a soldier fit to stand by the mightiest
and give command. He was a statesman
tried and true, and marvelously adapted to
the times and surroundings amid which he
lived. Just such as he was he had to be, to
fulfill the mission to which far-seeing wis-
dom had appointed him, and to blaze out the
way for the C(jming hosts of civilization who
were to people tjiis great Northwest. His
tragic death, in the prime of life, was a cal-
amity to the nation just struggling up from
the tires of a mighty revolution, and a loss
not easily repaired in that early period of our

Upon the organization of the Northwest
Territory, Gen. Arthur St. Clair was ap-
pointed Governor. In the spring of 1790,
in company with the Territorial Judges, he
went to Cahokia, where, by proclamation,
he organized the county of St. Clair, the
first individual coiinty formed in what is now
the State of Illinois, and ius seat of justice
Was fixed at Easkaskia. Eandolph was the
next county created in Illinois; and the date
of its organization extends back to 1795.
These were the only counties formed until
after the dawning of the nineteenth century.
At the session of the Territorial Legislature
of 1811-12, Madison, Gallatin and Johnson
were organized, and Edwards at the session
of 1814. At the session of 1816, White,
Jackson, Moni-oe, Pope and Crawford were
organized, and at the last session of the Ter-
ritorial Legislature Franklin, Washington, I

Union, Bond and Wayne came into existence.
At the first session of the Legislature after
Illinois was admitted into the Union as a
State. Jefiferson County was formed, under
the following act entitled an act for foi-ming
a separate county out of Edwards and White
Counties, approved March 26, 1819:

Be it enacted by the people of the State of Illinois
represented in the General Assembly, That all that
tract of country within the following boundaries,
to wit : Beginning where the line between Ranges
4 and 5 east intersects the base line; thence west
with said line to .the Third Principal Jferldian;
thence south twenty-four miles; thence east twenty-
four miles; thence north to the place of beginning,
shall constitute a separate county, to be called
"Jefferson," and for the purpose of fixing the per-
manent seat of justice therein the following persons
are appointed Commissioners : Ambrose Maulding,
Lewis Barker, Robert Shipley, James A. Richard-
.son and Richard Graham, which said Commission-
ers, or a majoritj' of them, being duly sworn before
some Judge or Justice of the Peace in this State to
faithfully take into view the convenience of the
people, the situation of the settlement, with an eye
to future population, and the eligibility of the place,
shall meet on the 2d Jlonday of May, at the house of
William Casey, in said county, and proceed to ex-
amine and determine on the place for the perma-
nent seat of justice and designate the satne; pro-
vided: The proprietor or proprietors of the land
shall give to the county for the purpose of erecting
public buildings a quantity of land, not less than
twenty acres, to be laid out in lots and sold for that
purpose; but should the proprietor or proprietors
I'efuse or neglect to make the donation aforesaid,
then and in that case it shall be the duty of said
Commissioners to fix on some other place for the
seat of justice as convenient as may be to the in-
habitants of said county, which place fixed and de-
termined upon, the said Commissioners shall certify
under their hands and seals and return the same to
the next Commissioners' Court in the county afore-
said, which court shall cause an entry thereof to be
made in their book of record, and until the public
buildings be erected the courts shall be held at the
house of William Casey, in the said county.

Sec 2. Be it further enacted. That the Com-
missioners aforesaid shall receive a compensation of
two dollars for each and every day they maj' be
necessarily emploj'ed in fixing the aforesaid seat of

"^CiA,^ ,1) . /g .U^^OL^




justice, to be paid out of the county treasury by an
order from the Commissioners' Court.

Sec. 3. Be it further enacted. That tlie citizens
of Jefferson County are hereby declared entitled.
in all respects, to the same rights and privileges
a.s are allowed in general with the other counties
in this State.

Sec. 4. Be it further enacted, That the county
of Jefferson shall vote in conjunction with White
County for Representatives to the General Assembly
of the State, and it shall be the duty of the Clerks
of sai<l counties to meet at the court house in White
County, within ten days after such elections, and
make a certificate, signed by both Clerks, to the
persons duly elected; and if the said Clerks shall
fail to do the same they shall forfeit and pay the
sura of one hundred dollars, for the use of said
counties, to be recovered l)y action of debt in the
countj' in which such delinquent Clerk may reside.

Six. 5. Be it further enacted. That the county
of Jefferson shall be and compose a part of the Sec-
ond Judicial Circuit, and the courts shall be holdcn
therein at such times as shall be specified l)y law.

This was followed by a supplemental act,
entitled " An act supplemental to an act for
laying off a new county out of the counties of
Edwards and ^\'hite," approved March 29,
1819, and is as follows:

Be it enacted by the people of the State of Illinois,
reprenented in the General Aasemhly, That all that
tract or part of country lying nortli of the county
of Jefferson and west of the county of Wayne, and
not included within Ihelimits of the said counties of
Jefferson and Wayne, established by the act to
whicli this is a supplement, l)e and the same is
liereby attaclied to and forms a part of the said
county of Jefferson, and that tlic inliabitants there-
of have and enjoy all the rights and privileges, as
far as may be, that the inhabitants of the county of
.lelferson have and enjoy.

Sec. 3. Be it further enacted, That the county
of Jefferson be and the same is hereby attached to
the Fourth Judicial Circuit of the State, etc., etc.

The county was named in honor of Thomas
Jefferson, the third President of the United
States, and who was inaugurated into office
on the 4th of March, 1801. He was born at
Shadwoll, Albemarle Co., Va., April 2, 1743,
and died at Monticello, his country seat, July

4, 1826, just half a century after the adop-
tion of the Declaration of Independence, a
document penned by his own hand, and
which has rendered his name immortal, and
dear to every liberty-loving citizen of the
whole country. Jefferson's administration
was very popular, and he was elected to a
second term, receiving more than three-
fourths of the votes in the electoral college.
During his first term, the afterward noto-
rious Aaron Burr was Vice President, and
during the second, George Clinton was asso-
ciated with him as Vice President.

On the 30th of March, 1819, two other
acts were passed by the Legislature, pertain-
ing wholly or in part to Jefferson County.
Tlie first authorized Lewis Watkins to admin-
ister the required oaths to all officors com-
missioned for the county; and the other or-
dered an election in Wayne, Jefferson. .Clark
and Alexander Counties, to be held on the
fom-th Monday of April, for County Commis-
sioners, Sheriffs and Coroners. The Coroner
then was an important officer, as, in the ab-
sence or inability of the Sheriff to serve, the
Coroner acted in his stead until the Sheriff
resumed his duties.

In pursuance of the last-mentioned act,
an election was held at the house of William
Casey, which stood where the brick building
recently known as Taylor's Commercial
Hotel now stands. Some thirty or forty
votes were cast; and Zadok Casey, Joseph
Jordan and Fleming Greenwood were elected
Commissioners, and Lewis Watkins, Sheriff.
The Commissioners met at William Casey's
on Monday, June 7, for the purpose of or
ganizing the county court. Their certifi-
cates of election were signed by Oliver Mor-
ris and Lewis Watkins, Justices of the
Peace, and attested by Edward Maxoy, act-
ing Clerk of the Court; they were then duly
sworn into office. Edward Maxey, the Clerk




pro tempore, resigned, and the court appoint-
ed Joel Pace to the office of County Clerk.
He gave bond in the sum of $1,000, with
James Kelly and Isaac Casey as securities.

This comjjleted the organization of the
county, and it was now ready for business.

The Seat of Justice. — One of the first
matters which engaged the attention of the
court was the location of the seat of justice
according to the provisions of the act for the
formation of the county. As soon as the
court convened, the Commissioners appointed
for that purpose presented the following re-

According to an act of the General Assembly,
approved March 26, 1819. appointing certain Com-
missioners to meet on the second Monday of May.
at the liouse of William Casey, for the purpose of
fixing a permanent seal of justice for and in Jeffer-
son County, the following persons met. viz. ; Lewis
Barker. Ambrose Maulding and James A. Richard-
son, who. after being duly sworn, have proceeded,
determined and fixed upon the southwest quarter of
Section 29. Range 3, of Township 2, on the land
owned by William Casey, the town to be laid off in
the southwest corner of said quarter, to commence
near the timber, on a point not far distant from
Casey's house, and thence to the foot of the de
scent on a point on which Casey's house stands, or
in such a manner as said County Commissioners
shall designate. Given under our hands and seals
this 12th day of May. 1819.


Ambrose Maulding.
Lewis B.a^rkek.

This report was accompanied by the follow-
ing paper, confirmatory of Casey having com-
plied with the require:n3nt3 of the twenty
acre-clause of the legislative act:

Personally appeared before us the subscriber,
William Casej'. and made a donation of twenty
acres of laud, to be Liid off in town lots and sold for
the purpose of paying for public buildings in the
county of Jefferson, which twenty acres of land shall
be laid off bj- the County Commissioners on the land
designated by the Commissioners appointed by the
State Legislature for fi.Kiug the permanent seat of
justice for said Jefferson County. Whereof the

said William Casey has hereunto set his hand and
seal this 12th day of May, in the year of our Lord
one thousand eight hundred and nineteen.

William Casey.

N. B. Provided such Commissioners shall lay
off said town so as not to include said Casey's house
and farm.

James A. Richardson,
[Attest] Ambrose Maulding,

Lewis Barker.

The report of the Commissioners was re-

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