William Henry Perrin.

History of Jefferson County, Illinois online

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t of Marion County, and Jt-fferson is in the Twentieth District.

* of Jackson Comity, and Jefferson is in the Third District.

g Casey died, and 'Williara B. Anderson was elected to fill out tiis
unexpired term.
•" Jefferson is now a part of the Forty-sixth District.

of White County.
♦* of Hamilton County.



Anderson ; 1S60-G2, ; 1862-64, Henry

M. Williams (the county is now in the Fifth
District) ; 1864-66, John Ward ; 1866-68, No-
ah Johnston ; 1868-70, C. C. M. V. B. Payne ;
(whose name is Christopher Columbus Martin
Van Buren Payne) 1870-72, Thomas S. Casey
(Jefferson is now in the Eighteenth District) ;

1872-74, 1874-76, Amos B. Barrett

(the county is now in the Forty-sixth District);
1876-78, Tliomas J. Williams; 1878-80, Alfred

M. Green and John R. Moss ; 1880-82, R. A.
D. Wilbauks ; 1882-84, George H. Varnell.

Additional to the Representatives in the Gen-
eral Assembly of the State, the county has
furnished two Lieutenant Governors, viz., Za-
dok Casey and Stinson H. Anderson ; one At-
torney General, Walter B. Scates ; and two
Congressmen, viz., Zadok Casey and William
B. Anderson.



" The cry of the beast from his unknown den
They haunted the lonesome wood
Only to deepen its solitude."

THE pioneers, the men who skirt the outer
confines of civilization on this continent,
have entirely changed in their characteristics
since the memorable days of '49, when the
discovery of gold on the Pacific slope set all
the world in a blaze of excitement. They are
now, perhaps, the most cosmopolitan people
in the world, and we incline to the belief
that the old Californians were and are the
best practically educated people, for they
were suddenly gathered togther in large
numbers, representing every civilized people
of the globe, many of the half civilized, and
even some of the totally barbarous This
heterogenous gathering of such varieties of
people resulted in the world's wonder of a
public school. It rapidly educated men as
they never had before been taught. It was
not perfect in its moral symmetry, but it was

•Bjr W. II. Perrin.

wholly powerful in its rough strength, vigor
and swiftness. It taught not of books but
of the mental and physical laws — of com-
merce, of cunning craft; it was iron to the
nerves and a sleepless energy to the resolu-
tion. This was its field of labor, its free
university. Here every people, every nation-
al prejudice, all the marked characteristics
of men, met its opposite where there was no
law to restrain or govern either, except that
public judgment that was crystallized into a
resistless force in this witches' caldron.
This wonderful alembic, where were fused
normal and abnormal humanities, thoughts,
false education, prejudicies and pagan fol-
lies, into a molten stream that glowed and
scorched ignorance along its way, as the vol-
canic eruption does the debris in its path-
way. It was the untrammeled school of at-
trition of every variety of mind with mind,
the rough diamond that gleams and dazzles
with beauty only when rubbed with diamond
dust. The best school in the world for a



thorough practical education — we mean real
education and not " learned ignorance," as
Locke has aptly called it. Such an educa-
tion is the grand leveler of the human
mind. It is like the struggle for life, where
only " the tittest survive " and the unlit per-

But the pioneer's school life was spent in
a wholly different one from that just de-
scribed. The surroundings of the Illinois
pioneers differed radically from that of the
old California "forty-niners." They did not
come here in rushing crowds as men sought
the gold fields of California, nor did they
represent all the civilized nations of the earth.
They came, as we have- already stated, most-
ly from the Southern States, and they settled
down in the wilderness to live, where un-
remitting toil was required to maintain life.
In a former chapter we have noticed the ad-
vent of the first pioneers, that forlorn hope
of civilization in Jefferson County, and the
erection of their rude cabins which formed
the germ of a large and prosperous settle-
ment. Further on we gave sketches of some of
the prominent pioneer families, who came a
few years later and might be termed the
" second crusade." In this chapter we shall
notice the arrival of those who came in at a
still later period, and also some of the hard-
ships and difiSculties endured by the people
in the pioneer period.

The Jordan family, Felix McBride, Nich-
olas Wren, John Sanders, John Lee, Sam-
uel Bradford, Elijah Joliff, and several
other families, additional to any men-
tioned, settled in the county about the year
1819. The Jordan family were early set-
tlers in Franklin County, where they had
built a kind of fort or block-house, but after-
ward moved into Jefferson. Nicholas Wren
was a son-in-law of William Jordan; Mc-
Bride lived in Mount Vernon, but finally

went to Galena; John Sanders helped to
build the first covu't house, and Bradford set-
tled near the present town of Belle Rive,
but afterward moved into Wayne County;
Joliff married Lucinda Deprist in Tennessee,
and came here and entered land in Section 1
of Township 2 and Range 2, in October, 1819.
He was accidentally shot, and died in the
house where he settled.

In the year 1820, still further accessions
to the population were made in the arrival
of Joseph Pace, Reuben Jackson, Joseph
Reed, W. L. Howell, Thomas Hopper, Ben-
jamin Vermilion, Rhoda Allen, James
Chafiin, Ebenezer Daggett, Nathaniel S.
Andrews, Henry Watkins, James Phipps,
Samuel Hirons, Mrs. Hays, Nathaniel Wil-
son, Bi;tler Arnold, Ransom Moss, Gessom
Moss, Herbert Avent, etc., etc. The Paces
are a numerous family in the county still.
Reuben Jackson settled in Grand Prairie.
He remained but a short time and moved
North; Howell was the second Sheriff of the
county, and in a few years returned to Ten-
nessee; Hopper came from Tennessee and
settled west of Moore's Prairie; Vermilion
was an early tavern-keeper in Mount Vernon:
Rhoda Allen died in 1820 — the first man
who died in the county — and his widow af-
terward married James Douglas; Chaffin
moved away to the north part of the State;
Andrews died soon after he came to the coun-
ty; Watkins lived in Grand Prairie; Hirons
was the builder of the first brick court
house; Nilson was one of the very first
settlers in Grand Prairie; Arnold was from
Butler County, Tenn. ; the Mosses and
Avent came together. Ransom and Ges-
som Moss were brothers, and Mrs. Avent was
their sister. They were from Virginia, and
Avent WHS once very wealthy, but poor when
he came here; he was a fine pattern of a Vir-
ginia gentleman.



Additions were made to the settlements
iu 182 J, as follows: Other members of
the Pace family, Israel Smith, Biirrell and
Alfred McConnell, John Blackburn, Aquilla
Alexander, Jnhn Gibson, Emery P. Moore,
Joel Hargrave, the Tunstalls, etc. ' In 1822,
came William Porter, William Rearden, Jacob
Norton, the Chandlers, Absalom and Joseph
Estes, William Hicks, Robert Snodgrass,
George Webb, Yoiing Lemore, William South-
wood; and in 1823, Rhodam Allen, William
Drummond, Jarviee Pierce, Sr., Thomas Kell,
Azariah Bruce, Parson Upshaw, the Wellses;
and in 1824, James Dickens, Simon McCenden,
Blalock and Lyon, William Crabtree, Taurus
Rife, Wallace Caldwell. Elisha Plummer, Rob-
ert Stockton, John Summers, Drs. Adams and
Glover, Downing Baugh, Blagdon East,
Samuel Foster, Josiah League, Henry Lewis,
George May, Jesse Lee, etc. From this
time up to 1830, we may mention the follow-
ing additional settlers: David Hobbs and
Aaron Yearwood came in 1826; Robert
Breeze, in 1827; Joseph McMeens settled in
Jordan's Prairie in 1826-27; northwest of
town, Howe, John Cash, and others settled;
Enoch Holtsclaw about 1826-27; and Samuel
Cummins and John Watters soon after; the
Bullocks came about 1828 or 1830; Billing-
ton Taylor in 1828; Caleb Barr and Elisha
Myers the same year; Peter Owen, soon
after; William Finch, a few years earlier;
Julius Scott and Thomas A. Nicholas about
1829; and quite a number of others we can-
not now name.

We can only make the briefest mention of
these early settlers in this portion of our
work, as they necessarily iigm-e in the differ-
ent townships, and will there receive further
notice. Their names are merely given here
to show the increase of population and the
growth of settlement.

Wild Game. — Although we have alluded

tp the hard life of the pioneers already, yet,
doubtless, we cannot interest our aged
readers more than by giving fvtrther details
of the early trials, hardships, manners, cus-
toms, game, etc., of the early settlers.
Again drawing upon the sketches of Mr.
Johnson, he says that when the first settlers
came, there was no elk here or comparative-
ly none. That those animals had once been
plenty in this region was evinced by the fact
that the settlers found bones and horns in
great profusion in certain portions of the
county, notably in Elk Prairie, and which
name they gave that prairie in consequence.
That seemed to have been their great resort,
as their bones were numerous there — or per-
haps it was their cemetery. Sinbad, the
sailor, tells of the elephants having cemeter-
ies or "boneyards" in their own "country,"
where their dead was deposited. Tunstall,
we are told, took away a couple of tame elk
with him when he moved from the county.
The last one was seen, it is said, by William
and James Hicks while out on a hunt, but it
escaped them. Bears were quite plenty, es-
pecially along the water-courses and in the
heavy timber. The pioneers used their flesh
for meat and their hides for clothing. If
they made them into clothing, like Tom
Bolin's breeches — "with the fleshy side out
and the woolly side in" — we dare to say they
were warm and comfortable. But in a few
years after the organization of the county,
they had (the bears) almost wholly disap-
peared. Ml'. Johnson relates the following
" bear incident," as among bruin's " last ap-
pearances" in the county: "When Abraham
Buffington went to Horse Creek, he found
bears. With a courage equal to Putnam's
when he followed the wolf into her den,
Buffington followed an old she bear into her
den, and by the aid of her gleaming eyes
shot her in the darkness of the cave." But



of all the tour-footed game, perhaps deer
were the most abundant. It was not uncom-
mon to see 50 to 100 in a gang on the
prairies or on the barrens at " one look."
Nobody that could shoot — and all pioneers
could do that, it was a part of their education
— was ever out of meat long at a time. If a
man on rising from his couch m the morn-
iog was informed by his spouse that there
was no meat in the larder, he coolly said,
" "Well, wife, just wait a little," and often in
less than half an hour his game was lying at
the door, and meat, for the time, was plenty.
Sometimes a man could stand in his own
door and shoot deer as they grazed within
easy range. A great deal of clothing was
made of deerskin, before the raising of cot-
ton and flax. The lirst eiforts to tan the
hides were almost a failure. A new method,
however, was introduced which was much
better. This was, after removing the hair,
the skins were thoroughly rubbed and
dressed with brains. They were then
stretched on stakes driven into the ground,
around a large hole, and the hole tilled with
light and rotten wood, which was set on tire.
The warmth caused the brains and oil to per-
meate the skins and the smoke gave them a
beautiful color. Tanned in this way, they
are said to have been very soft and pliant,
and were handsome. One girl is mentioned
by some of the old settlers as having a buck-
skin petti — ahem! of which she was very
proud. Her word, however, had to be taken
as to its beauty, for that garment was worn,
in the pioneer days, invisible to the naked

Wolves were almost as abundant as deer.
Wolf Prairie received its name from the
great numbers found in that section, and for
at least twenty years after the formation of
the county there were many wolves in the
unsettled portions. They did not often be-

come dangerous, never unless provoked or
nearly famished by hunger. Thompson Atch-
ison once had a severe fight with two or
three wolves that had attacked his dogs.
Dr. Wilkey was once pursued by a small
pack, but paid little attention to them for
some time. Finally, when they had be-
come a little too impudent, he turned and
shot one, when the others scampered away.
Mi's. Robinson — Aunt Rhoda, as she was
called — once killed a wolf that came prowl-
ing around her cabin at night. Her husband
had brought home a deer in the afternoon,
which he had shot, and the wolf had scented
the slaughtered game and followed to the
cabin, when it was attacked by the dogs. In
those early days, the dog was a respected
member of the family. Any man would tight
for his dog. Literally it was " love me, love
my dog," or take the consequences. Every
man knew every dog in the neighborhood by
his bark, just as he knew a man's voice when
he heard him speak. When the wolf was
attacked by the dogs, Mrs. Robinson ran out
to help the latter, and as she ran caught
up a "chink" that had fallen from a crack of
the cabin. Ai-riving upon the scene, she
gave the wolf a blow with the billet that laid
him dead at her feet. She was once pur-
sued by a panther as she wended her way,
alone, and on foot, through the forest. A
less brave and resolute woman would have
been paralyzed with fear, and to say that she
was not frightened would, perhaps, be a vio-
lation of the truth; but the pioneer women
had to fight their own battles, as it were,
side by side with their husbands. IMrs. Rob-
inson was going to a neighbor's several miles
distant, with no company but her dog and
the babe she carried in her arms, when a
large panther appeared upon her trail ic
close pm-suit. Her dog ran to her and
crouched at her feet for protection. As the



panther came too near to be pleasant, she
threw down her bonnet as she ran. This
stopped the panther a few moments, for
he tore it into fragments, and then started
again in pui'suit. As he came near, she
threw down her shawl, and again he stopped
long enough to tear it in pieces; and when
she was almost ready to drop from exhaus-
tion, and the hungry beast was near enough
for her to distinctly hear his teeth snap, she
fortunately met a man who shot and killed
it, and thus relieved her of further danger.

To young hogs and sbeep were wolves,
wildcats and panthers particularly destruct-
ive. Vast numbers of them were killed.
Even young calves were not secure against
them. A wolf one day ran a calf up to
William Casey's very gate. The women
folks hurried out, opened the gale for the
calf, and thus saved its life. Indeed, for
years it was almost impossible to raise hogs
and sheep; but the persistent vengeance with
which the pests were hunted by the settlers
finally cleared them out, until at present
there are none to be found in the county,
not even in the wildest regions. The pan-
thers and wild cats were found here in quite
as great numbers as wolves, and they were
even more dangerous when " met by moon-
light alone." Such small game as foxes,
raccoons, turkeys, and other feathered deni-
zens of forest and prairie were too numerous
to mention.

Snakes. — According to the early history of
the county, snakes were as plenty here as
they were in Ireland prior to the days of St.
Patrick. It may be that the patron saint of
the " gem of the say " drove them to this
country when he cleared them out of " ould "
Ireland. Says Mr. Johnson : " Snakes were
fully represented here when the settlers
came. It was in 1820 that the first little
log schoolhouse was built at old Shiloh.

Soon after the man, James Douglas, made his
appearance in the nei ghborhood, and though
addicted to drink, he got up a reputation
for scholarship, and then got up a school at
Shiloh. A few weeks after a school began,
the scholars found so many snakes about the
hill that all concluded there must be a den
of them in the vicinity. The report of a
snake den produced great excitement, and
the settlers, fond of sport and apprehensive
of danger to their children, turned out in a
body, armed with hoes, axes, spades, clubs
and guns, and still not prepared fully for
such a task as awaited them. It really
seemed as if the immediate vicinity was lit-
erally alive with the descendants of the first
apple vender. Every tuft of grass con-
cealed a snake; every rock covered one;
every hole and crevice contained one; every
imaginable nook was full of them. Fre-
quently, on turning a moderately sized rock
out of its bed, eight or ten snakes, all coiled
together, were found underneath it. Rattle-
snakes, copperheads, vipers, adders, mocca-
sins, all seemed to have made peace and
taken up their abode together. The rattler
was largely in the majority, nearly 300 be-
ing killed, laid out and counted; the whole
number killed and counted was largely over
500. If every man had had an attack of the
jim-jams, he probably could not have seen
more snakes. It will readily be allowed that
those who were particularly afraid of snakes
felt nervous when out in tall grass for some
time after this onslaught on the reptile
population of the community."

Shiloh, however, did not contain all the
snakes, but, on the contraiy, they seem to
have been numerous most everywhere.
Johnson thus continues his dissertation on
snakes: " Henry Tyler settled at what is now
known as the Brown place in March, 1823,
some seven miles north of town. Aunt Katy



found a rattlesnake one morning coiled on
one of the bars when she went to let the cow
in to milk her. Some time after,Elihu Maxey,
went up to spend the day with Tyler, and
the snakes spread themselves. One crawled
out of the jam, another out of a crack in the
hearth, another sprawled himself on the
door step. In the course of the day, seven
snakes were killed in the house. This was
pretty good, but it got better. Tom Casey
went up to see his sister (Mrs. Tyler), and
he and Tyler went out to take a little hunt,
expectiag to kill a deer in a thicket that had
escaped the autumnal fires. One took each
side of the thicket to go around it. Tj^ler
saw an otter in the branch, stopped to watch
it until Casey came round, and in a few
minutes saw seven snakes crawl down to the
branch. Thinking like the Irishman, that
' where there's two snakes there's sure to be
one,' they hunted about awhile and killed
and laid out 170. Next day they raised a
little help and dug out and killed 217." It
seems that this aroused a suspicion in the
mind of Tyler that that whole hill had
" snakes in its boots," and he lost no time in
moving away. In additiim to all these, a
den was found on Joliff's sugar camp branch,
and some two or three hundred were killed
there. Many of the snakes were exceedingly
venomous. "Wallace Caldwell was riding
along the road one day, and a snake bit his
horse on the leg. With all these stories, it
was not considered strange when Mi-. Ed-
wards settled where Capt. Henderson lives,
and had been there a short time, his wife,
who was quite a nervous woman, became so
alarmed over snake stories she could not
stay, but had her husband pull up stakes
and return to Kentucky, whence they had

This cleaning out of snake dens and the
great slaughter of the reptiles soon had the
effect of visibly diminishing their numbers.

It became more safe and pleasant for the
timorous to perambulate through the tall
grass, and when a cow or horse started or a
hen " chuckled " in alarm, it was no longer
considered a "snake sure." But it was many
years before they were generally gone; «ven
now one may occasionally be seen. North-
east of Rome there was a stream named
Snake Den Branch in memory of the veno-
mous reptiles.

Thus the dangers and annoyances of the
early settlers were such as none but brave
hearts would dare to encounter. Nothing
but the hopeful insj^iration of manifest des-
tiny urged them to persevere in bringing
under the dominion of civilized man what
was before then a howling wilderness.
They were exceptions, in a great degree, of
the accepted rule, that " immigrants in set-
tling in a new country usually travel on the
same parallel as that of the home they left."
Coming from the South as they did, where
most of them were poor, and regarded as no
better than the black slaves by the haughty
aristocracy, they launched out sovereign citi-
zens, independent, free and equal, and ac-
knowledging themselves in the presence of
no superior being, except when kneeling
alone in prayer to the King of Kings. It was a
wise conclusion that prompted them to come
here, where they were far more useful in
church and State than the)' ever could have
been in the regions they left behind, where
others held the places of influence.

The fashions in the primitive days of the
county were few and simple, compared with
the gaudy and costly paraphernalia of the
present time. Comfort and freedom wei"e
always consulted in preference to personal
appearance, and the dude was then unknown.
The principal articles for clothing were of
home manufacture, such as linsey-woolsey,
jeans, tow linen, etc. The world was not
laid under tribute, as now, to fiu-nish the



thousand and one mysteries of a lady's toi-
let. Powders and lotions and dangerous
cosmetics, by which the modern belle bor-
rows the transient beauty of the present, and
repays with premature homeliness, were un-
known to hev frontier ancestors, whose
cheeks were rosy with the ruddy glow of
health, painted by wholesome exercise and
labor. The beauty and symmetry of the
female form was not distorted or misshapen
by tight lacing, The brave women of those
days knew nothing of ruffles, curls, switches
or bustles. Instead of the organ or piano,
before which sits the modern miss, tortur-
ing selections from the majestic operas (!)
the}' had to do their part of the work.
"The girls took music lessons

Upon the spinning wheel,
And practiced late and early

On spindle swift and reel."
and were contented with their linsey
(slothing, their rough- made shoes, and a sun-
bonnet of coarse linen The women believed
it their highest duty — as it was their noblest
aim — to contribute their part in the great
work of life. The " hired girl " had not then
become a class. In cases of illness — and
there was plenty of it in the early times —
some young woman would leave home for a
few days to care for the afflicted household,
but her services were not rendered for the
pay she received. The discharge of the
sacred duty to care for the sick was the
motive, and it was never neglected. The
accepted life of a woman was, to marry, bear
and rear children, prepare the household food,
spin, weave and make the garments for the
family. Her whole life was the grand, sim-
ple poem of rugged, toilsome duty, bravely
and uncomplainingly done. She lived his-
tory and her descendant;! write and read it
with a proud thrill, such as visits the pilgrim
when at Arlington, he stands at the base of
the monument which covers the bones of

4,000 nameless men who gave their blood to
preserve their country. Her work lives, but
her name is only whispered in a few homes.
Holy in death, it is too sacred for ojjen

Hard Times. — The financial pressure in
the early days was very heavy. Quite a gale
of prosperity swept over Illinois just after
the close of the war of 1812, and a large flow
of immigration followed that event. People
were seized with a spirit of speculation and
much land was bought. Land sold at $2 per
acre — $80 down on a quarter section, the
balance to be paid in five years. Everybody
botight all the land on which they could
make the advance payment, with the expec-
tation of selling enough to emigrants to
make the other payments. Wild-cat banks

Online LibraryWilliam Henry PerrinHistory of Jefferson County, Illinois → online text (page 25 of 76)