William Henry Perrin.

History of Jefferson County, Illinois online

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command, and by his rare judgment of men
and things, convinced his fellow-members
that ho committed few errors. In 1838, he
was elected Lieutenant Governor on the
ticket with Thomas Carlin, and for the sue
ceeding four years was the presiding oflicer,
by virtue of his position, of the Senate.
Hen. Noah Johnston, who served in the Sen-

ate during those four years, describes him as
an able, courteous and dignified presiding
oflBcer. and one whose knowledge of parlia-
mentary law and usage enabled him to avoid
all mistakes. While President of the Senate,
says Mr. Johnston, but one of Gov. Ander-
son's decisions was appealed from, and in
that case he was sustained in his ruling.
After the close of his term as Lieutenant Gov-
ernor, he entered the United States Army,
and was appointed Captain of dragoons, and
served in the Florida or Seminole war — a
war which continued with varying results
for twenty years before the Indians were
finally subjugated. He was Warden of the
penitentiary at Alton for four years, and
upon the accession of Mr. Polk to the Presi-
dency, was appointed United States Marshal
for the State of Illinois, which position he
held until the close of President Polk's term.

Gov. Anderson's political life commenced
just at a time when the two great parties as-
sumed distinctive names. That of the National
Administration took the name of Democrat,
and the opposition that of Whig. Gov. Ander-
son cast his fortunes with the Democrats, and
was ever after a faithful, active and energetic
worker for his party. During his Presidency
of the State Senate, party strife ran high and
the bitterest political vituperation was indulged
in by the Whigs and Democrats, but such was
his tact and power in the management of men
that througiiout the stormy sessions of his
official term he maintained the profound re-
spect of the opposition as well as of his own

In all the official positions held by Gov. An-
derson, he discharged his duties with unswerv-
ing fidelity. A man of the most exalted integ-
rity — the very soul of honor — he scorned a
mean or dishonorable act as he scorned the diit
beneath his feet. He was free and open in his
speech, and would readily say before a mans



face what he thought behind his back, but was
just and generous, and willfulli' wronged no
man. In his family, he was a devoted husband,
a kind and indulgent father, and liberal in the
education of his children. Although of no re-
ligious belief particularlj-, }-et he contributed
freelj- of his means to the support of the
churches and the Gospel, and his heart was
tender, j-ielding in S3'mpathy and relief to dis-
tress wherever he found it.

Gov. Anderson died in September, 1857,
deeply regretted and mourned alike by the
countrj' which he had so faithfully served, and
the people who knew him so well.

The political history of Jefferson County for
years was embellished with the finger marks of
the two statesmen whose sketches we have
above given. Although of the same political
faith — good Democrats — yet, to say that at all
times thej' were in full part}' harmonj-, would
be in direct conflict with the true political his-
tory of the county. Not infrequently was it
the case, that in exciting and important cam-
paigns there were found to be two Richmonds
in the field, and who always pi'oved foeraen
worthy of each other's steel. For years it has
been another " war of the roses," and without
the bloodshed and carnage which charactarized
the political differences of the houses of York
and Lancaster, it 3"et crops out occasionally be-
tween the descendants of the two great leaders.
It is not material to the subject of this chapter
that we enter into the details of this political
feud — the party hroniUcrie. which had for its
prime cause the fact that the count}- was too
small for these two master spirits, a fact that
led them to often cross swords upon the points
of political power and aggi-andizement. It
never culminated in open rupture or party
dismemberment, but has been more good-nat-
ured than otherwise. It only shows in local
contests, wherein more than one aspirant for
official position can charge his defeat to a mem-
ber of the rival faction. These little local dif-

ferences, however, cut no figure upon national
questions or in national contests. In these, all
stand shoulder to shoulder, and pour in their
fire where it is most needed, and where it will
do the most good. And, indeed, this is but
another peculiarity of the political history of
the count}'. It matters not how much wran-
gling there maj' be upon local issues, or how
much scramble for local offices, when it comes
to a general fight with the common enemy all
petty differences are forgotten, all countj'
squabbles are laid aside, and a larger majority
than ever piled up for Gen. Jackson. For proof
of the truth of this portion of political history
the reader is referred to Gen. Anderson, George
Haynes, Judge Casey, Bob Wilbanks, and
other young politicians of the day, now in the
zenith of their glory, and whose '• lives and
times " will be more fully written up in the
nest centennial history of Jefferson County.

Noah Johnston. Another of the represen-
tative men of the county and who has con-
tributed largely to its high rank, politically,
is Ma]. Johnston. The following excellent
sketch of him was furnished us by Mr.
George M. Haynes:

For more than fifty years Maj. Noah
Johnston has lived in this county. He has
become, as it were, one of the fixtures, one
of the land- marks known by every person,
and knowing as many of the old settlers and
the men who first cut out the roads through
-this part of the State as perhaps any one now
living. He is in his eighty-fourth year, and
as he passes along our streets we and he
well know that in the order of things he
must soon "cross the river;" that but a few
years at most, and his familiar face will no
longer be seen. But will he die? No; such
men rarely die; they continue to live long
after their bodies have moldered into dust.
For generations, at least, after his flesh and
bones have returned to the earth fi'om



whence they came, he will live in history
and in memory. And as we see him day by
day, we can but be impressed with the
thought that he is of that class that leads us
hack to other days. His life has been long
and eventful; it began just two days before
the close of the last century, and along the
line of march he has liot been idle: he has
gathered and stored knowledge. Possensed
pi an active and intelligent mind, he has
sufifered few things of importance to escape
him, and one cannot converse with him for
any length of time without feeling that he
has learned something from him of the men
and manners of former times that he did not
before know. He stands forth, as it were,
a friendly guide-board, ready to point out to
the traveler the rocks and snares on the
road of life — a gentleman of the old school in
every sense of the word, made so by nature.

Maj. Johnston was born on the 2yth of
December, 1799, in Hardy County, Va.,
on the waters of the South Branch of the
Potomac, the oldest but one of ten as healthy
children as could then be found in the " Old
Dominion." His father, George Johnston,
moved from Hardy County to Woodford
County, Ky., in 1812, and settled near old
Lexington. The summer after, his family
were taken with bilious fever, a disease in
that day not understood by the physicians,
and before its ravages ceased four of the
same healthy children of the year before
were buried and one crippled for life. His
father, George Johnston, died in Adams
County, this State, in his eighty- fourth year.
The Major is now the only surviving member
of that family, who in the early days of the
republic started "West to secure to themselves
the homes which were not so accessible in
the older States.

In 1824, the family removed to Clark Coun-
ty, Ind., and after a few years' residence re-

moved to Parke County, same State, where
Maj. Johnston's mother died and was buried.
The Major continued to live at home and
work on the farm with his father until he
was thirty years of age, when he left his
family in Parke County and returned to
Clark and married a Miss Mary Bullock, his
present wife, who has since been the sharer
of his triumphs and of his reverses; together
have they trod life's journey, sometimes in
rain, sometimes in sunshine. Through life
there are many dark sides and many bright
sides, but they have been met and almost
passed by this venerable couple, he in his
eighty- fourth, she in her eightieth year.
They are going — and soon; their work is
almost done; their trials and . tribulations
about over, and right well are they prepared
for this earthly ending.

Soon after his marriage, Maj.- Johnston
moved to this county and began farming.
He was a man of more than an average edu-
cation for that day, although he never at-
tended school more than thi-ee or four
months, yet his father was a good English
scholar and devoted a good deal of his per-
sonal attention to the education of his chil-
dren. After farming for a short time in this
county, the Major engaged in mercantile
pursuits, which, with some surety invest-
ment, did not succeed, and he soon found
himself heavily in debt and forced out of
business with no property or means to pay
with, and thus [his little craft went down
beneath the financial crash. After his fail-
ure, and, in fact, awhile before, he began to
give some attention to politics, and was soon
elected one of the Count}' Commissioners,
and afterward was elected County Clerk.

But perhaps it would not be out of place
to here relate a little incident of his family.
A brother of his father left' home in Virgin-
ia and went to Mississippi and located near



Natchez. He never married and accumulated
considerable property, consisting largely of
negroes and lands. While the Major's
father lived in Kentucky, this brother died,
and another brother, the only remaining one,
came from Virginia to Kentucky, and the
two brothers went on horseback to Missis-
sippi to look after the estate. While they
were not abolitionists, they were opposed to
slavery and were followers of Henry Clay's
doctrine of gradual emancipation. On their
arrival at Mississippi, they simply took what
money there was, and being unable to give a
bond for the good behavior of the negroes,
as the law then required, they were unable
to free them, and they retui-ned home and
left the slaves and lands thei'e and never af-
terward returned.

In 1838, Maj. Johnston was elected to the
State Senate from this and Hamilton Coun-
ty, serving four years. During his term of
olHce, there were two regular and two special
sessions; in fact, it was a period of much
legislative interest. The first session of 1838
was the last held at Vandalia, and there was
considerable excitement over the proposition
to remove the caf)ital to Springfield. The
Sangamon County delegation, with Abraham
Lincoln as its leader, consisted of A. G.
Herndon, E. D. Baker (afterward killed at
Ball's Bluff, Va.), John Calhoun, John Daw-
son, Ninian W. Edwards, William F. Elkins,
Andrew McCormick and Thomas J. Nance.
In the excitement of the occasion, the dele-
gation was termed by some gentlemen of the
opposition as the "Long Nine. " Lincoln in
reply said, "Yes, we are the ' long nine ' and
I am the longest of the nine," and as such
they have passed into history. They suc-
ceeded and the capital was removed to
Springfield, where it has since been retained.
In this session was to be found many who
afterward gained renown and became a part

of the permanent history of the State. One
gained the Presidency, many seats in Con-
gress, and some renown upon the battle-field.
Marshall was there and Baker, and Ficklin,
and DuBois, and Logan, father of the pres-
ent Senator, and many others. For some
years after the cajsital was removed, the
Legislatui-e met in a chui-ch in Springfield.

At the first session after the removal the
Bank of Illinois susjjended payment and
the suspension was legalized by the Legisla-
ture until the end of the next session. In
November, 1840, following, the Legislature
met in special session; the time for the,reg-
ular session by law was December 7, 1840.
There was considerable agitation over the
bank susj)eusion. The Democrats were de-
termined that the bank should resume and
the Whigs that they should not before the
end of the regular session, and to carry their
point attempted to run the special session
into the regular session, and thereby prevent
an adjournment. The time was drawing
near when the matter had toj be settled one
way or the other. The Democrats being in
the majority, the W'higs resorted to eveiy
means known to parliamentary rules to delay
and prevent a vote upon the question of
adjom-nment. For days the battle was
waged; the " Long Nine " were there, with
Lincoln at their head. At last, when all
their tactics had been exhausted and it was
evident the Democrats would carry the ad-
journment unless something was done, Lin-
coln asked that the roll be called; it was
called and found that there was one less than
a quorum. The Speaker at once ordered the
doors closed and instructed the doorkeeper to
go out and bring in another member. Lin-
coln, seeing that his chances were getting
no better, quietlv raised the window and
jumped outside and left, which left the
House two members short. But when the



doorkeeper returned he had two members
instead of one. The vote on adjoiu'nment
was then put and carried, and the Legisla-
ture adjourned on the 5th of December, just
two days before the regular session convened.
On the same evening of the adjomnment the
oiBcers of the bank called a meeting of the
Directors, and at once resumed specie pay-

In 1852, Maj. Johnston, together with
Abraham Lincoln and Judge Dickey, of
Chicago (not the present Judge of the Su-
preme Court), were appointed a commission
to take and report the evidence on claims
. filed against the State on account of the con-
struction of the Illinois Canal. The Com-
missioners opened an ofSce in Ottawa, Chi-
cago and Springfield. In 1845, he was En-
rolling and Engrossing Clerk of the Senate,
and under his inspection passed the entire
revision of 1845, which is claimed by many
prominent lawyers to be the best the State
has ever had. In 1846, he was elected as a
"floater" to the Fifteenth General Assem-
bly from the counties of Hamilton, Franklin
and Jeiferson. During this session the prop-
osition to issue State bonds for the payment
of the State indebtedness was presented and
carried. The Major was presented by his
friends as a'candidate for Speaker, and but
for the action of the Cook County delega
tion. which then, as now, had an as or two
to grind, would have been elected. They
sent for the Major to meet them, which he
did at the old American House. When he
arrived the Chairman of the delegation in-
formed him that they had decided to vote for
him, provided he would make certain promises
in reference to the appointment of the com-
mittee on canals, which then, as now, was an
important question to Cook County. The Ma-
jor replied that there were certain fixed rules
which had been observed in the formation of

the committees of the House whch he
thought fair and just, and that if elected
Speaker he could not and would not depart
from them. This answer was not satisfac-
tory, and they supported Mr. Newton Cloud,
the member from Morgan County, who was
elected by a very small majority, and it is
not improper to here say that he was a good
man and made an excellent presiding ofiicer.
Shortly after Maj. Johnstou's return home
in March, 1847, he received the appointment
of Paymaster in the United States Army,
with the rank of Major of dragoons, and
ordered to report at St. Louis for duty. Gov.
Anderson, then United States Marshal,
brought him the news of his appointment
one night after he had retired. At that time
the Major was running a small " sueing
shop" as Justice of the Peace, and had an
otfice on the west side of the public square,
about where the Thorn building now stands.
He took the appointment, together with the
bond sent out for execution, which was for
$20,000, to his otfice, and after due consider-
ation became satisfied he could never fill it,
and prejiared a letter to the President, Mr.
Polk, declining the appointment, had it all
ready to mail, when some of his fri'ends
came in and asked him when he was going
to the war to pay the boys off. He informed
them that he had decided to decline the
honor, and had just so wi-itten the President,
giving as his reason that he could not fill
the required bond. It will be understood
that up to this time he had not asked a sin-
gle person to sign the bond with him. His
friends who had called prevailed on him to
sign the bond, which he reluctantly did, and
it was at once taken out by his friend, who
in a short time had it all complete and ready
with ample sureties to present to the depart-
ment. The Major then destroyed the letter
he had written declining the appointment,



at once proceeded with his preparations to
leave, and soon was on his way to Alton to
present the bond for approval, which was
done by the proper officer on presentation,
and he at once reported at St. Louis for
duty He continued ♦to receive and disburse
the money of the Government to its soldiers
until the war closed, receiving and taking
charge at times of as much as $200,000 in
specie. On one occasion ^e went to Fort
LeavenwortH with $200,000 to pay Gen.
Price's men, but upon his arrival he found
Maj. Bryant a ranking officer already there,
and the Major transferred his money to Bry-
ant and returned to St. Louis. In the
spring of 1848, he crossed the plains with
$100,000. He traveled between 25,000 and
30,000 miles, received and paid out over
$2,000,000 and never lost a five-cent piece.
When Congress called upon the Paymaster
General for an account of losses to the reve-
nue through his thirty-six different Paymas-
ters, his reply was " not one dime." The
handling of so much money on $20,000
bonds would not be productive of such results
at this day.

While Paymaster, the Major, by economy
and prudence, saved enough from his salary
to enable him to relieve himself from his fi-
nancial embaiTassments, which had continued
to abide with him since bis failure before

In November, 1854, Finny D. Preston,
then Clerk of the Supreme Court, for the
First Grand Division, resigned, and Maj.
Johnson was appointed to succeed him by
the Si-ipreme Court. In June, 1855, he was
elected as his own successor, and was re-
elected in June, 1861, serving altogether, by
appointment and election, about thirteen
years. In November, 1866, he was again
elected as Representative to the Legislature
from this and Franklin Counties; this was

the last public office held by him. In about
1853 or 1854, the Legislature made an ap-
propriation of $6,000 for the purpose of
building a Supreme Court House at this
place. The Governor appointed as Com-
missioners to superintend the construction of
the building Zadok Casey, T. B. Tanner,
Dr. J. N. Johnson, W. J. Stephenson, and
Noah Johnston. Upon the organization of
the Commission, Maj. Johnston was made
the General Superintendent and thus, under
his immediate supervision, the building was

During his residence in this county he
has held the office of Justice of the Peace for
twelve years, and for many years was Post-
master, although he permitted Daniel Kin-
ney to attend to the office and receive all the
emoluments. He was Deputy United States
Marshal for four years under Gov. Anderson.
It will be noticed that for more than two-
thirds of his life in this county he has occu-
pied important public positions in one ca-
pacity or another, in all of which he has
proven himself faithful and capable. The
Major was never an orator, and although the
greater j)art of his life has been spent in
politics, yet to unflinching integrity and
competency, rather than to oratoiy, does he
owe his success. In no place, in no position,
public or private, can, nor has there, lodged
the least stain upon his character; straight-
forward, plain, frank and honest has been
his conduct, and as such he is to-day.

He is in some respects a remarkable man;
he has lived to see this now great State of
Illinois develop from the beginning as it
were to its present grandeui-. He has, in
fact, done his part in the progression that
has been so marked. A man of no surplus
words, a wise and honest counselor, he en-
joyed the most friendly and personal rela-
tions of many men of distinction, among



whom were Lincoln, Douglas and Breeze,
the three really great men produced by this
State, and of whom we shall never cease to
be justly proud. There are few men now
living so rich in personal reminiscences of
the men of the earlier days of the State. The
vitality and clearness of his mind is indeed
wonderful; although near the close of his
eighty foiu-th year, he converses readily and
with much more freshness than many much
younger men. He has witnessed every ma-
terial improvement and advancement made
both by county and State, and in many has
contributed largely. He is now the Presi-
dent of the Mount Vernon National Bank,
giving it his daily personal attention.

He has always been a partisan Democrat,
never, we believe, departing one single time
from that faith. Born just at the close of
power by the old Federal party, the early
enemy of Democracy, and just as Jefferson
was establishing so firmly his more liberal
and democratic ideas, the Major early be-
came a student of that political school which
had Jefferson for its founder, and " the most
liberty for the most people" its beacon light.
Although earnest and zealous in his politics,
yet he always enjoyed the confidence of his
political enemies.

In religion, he has belonged to no church,
although a constant and attentive attendant
and a fu-m believer in the Christian relisfion.
His faith has been, to judge from his life,
"to do right in all things, be jiast and honest
to all men," and a just God will make all
things well.

A more appropriate conclusion to this chap-
ter on the county's political history could
not be given than a list of the faithful who
have served the people — many of them faith-
fully and well. The list of Senators and
Representatives, and others, which follow will
recall names of men who were once well

known, but some of whom are now almost
forgotten by the mass of the people.

State Senators. — The following are the State
Senators representing Jefferson County since
its organization: 1822-24, Thomas Sloo, Jr.;
1824-26, Thomas Sloo, Jr.; 182G-28, Zadok
Casey ; 1828-30, Zadok Casey ; 1830-32, En-
nis Maulding ; 1832-34, Ennis .Alaulding ; 1834
-36, Levui Lane ; 1836-38, Levin Lane ; 1838
-40, Noah Johnston ; 1840^2, Noah Johnston ;
1842-44, Robert A. D. Wilbanks; 1844-46,
Robert A. D. Wilbanks ; 1846-48, William J
Stephenson; 1848-50, J. B. Hardy * ; 1850-52,
J. B. Hardy ; 1852-54, Silas L. Bryan ; 1854-
56, Silas L. Bryan t ; 1856-58, Silas L. Bryan ;
1858-60, Silas L. Bryan ; 1860-62, Zadok Ca-
sey ; 1862-64, Israel Blanchardt; 1864-66,
Daniel Reilly ; 1866-68, Daniel Reilly ; 1868-
70, Samuel K. Casey ; 1870-72, Samuel K. Ca-
sey i ■ 1872-74, Thomas S. Casey H ; 1874-76,
Thomas S. Casey ; 1876-78, Charles E. Mc-
Dowell II ; 1878-80, Charles E. McDowell ; 1880
-82, John C. Edwards**; 1882-84, Thomas
M. Merritt.

Tlie Representatives in the Lower House of
the Legislature are as follows : 1822-24, Zadok
Casey; 1824-26, Zadok Casey ; 1826-28, Nich-
olas Wren ; 1828-30, Israel Jennings ; 1830-
32, William Marshall; 1832-34, Stinson H.
Anderson ; 1834-36, Stinson H. Anderson ;
1836-38, Harvey T. Pace; 1838-40, Harvey
T. Pace ; 1840-12, Stephen G. Hicks; 1842-
44, Stephen G. Hicks; 1844-46, Stephen G.
Hicks ; 1846-48, Lewis P. Casey ; 1848-50,
Zadok Casey (the county is now in the Sixth
District) ; 1850-52, Zadok Casey ; 1852-54,
John Wilbanks ; 1854-56. T. B. Tanner (Jef-
ferson is now in the Eighth District) ; 1856-58,
William B. Anderson ; 1858-60, William B.

* of Hamiltnn County, ami JeflferBon 15 in the Third District.

Online LibraryWilliam Henry PerrinHistory of Jefferson County, Illinois → online text (page 24 of 76)