William Henry Perrin.

History of Jefferson County, Illinois online

. (page 28 of 76)
Online LibraryWilliam Henry PerrinHistory of Jefferson County, Illinois → online text (page 28 of 76)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

cut off, and a great deal of the grading done.
It runs across the sou theast corner of the
county, through the flourishing town of
Belle Rive,

Besides these roads, the Jacksonville,
Northwestern & Southeast Railroad Com-
pany was chartered in 1867, and is gradually
moving down upon us from the northwest.



THE subject of education should interest
every reader of this work, more, per-
haps, than aay other mentioned in the gen-
eral history of Jefferson County. For we are
told that it " is education forms the common
mind," and our forefathers appreciated this
fact when they declared, in their famous
ordinance of 1787, that " knowledge, with
religion and morality, are necessary to the
good government of mankind." In that little
clause they struck the very keynote of Ameri-
can liberty. The governing power in every
country upon the face of the globe is an edu-
cated power. The Czar of the Russias, ig-
norant of international law, of domestic re-
lations, of finance, commerce and the organ-
ization of armies and navies, could never hold,

•By W. H.Perrin.

under the sway of his scepter, 70,000,000 of
subjects. An autocrat must be virtuous and in-
telligent, or only waste and wretchedness and
wreck can wait upon his reign. England, with
scrupulous care, fosters her great universities
for the training of the sons of her nobility,
for their places in the House of Lords, in
the army, navy and church. What, then,
ought to be the character of citizenship in a
country where every man is born a king, and
sovereign heir to all the franchises and
trusts of the State and Republic? An ig-
norant people can be governed, but only an
intelligent and educated people can govern

WTien the siu'vey of the Northwest Terri-
tiOry was ordered by Congress, it was decreed
that every sixteenth section of land should



be reserved for the maiDtenance of public
schools within each townshii?. The ordi-
nance of 1787 proclaimed that " schools and
the means of education should forever be en-
couraged." By the act of Congress passed
April 18, 1818, eaabling the people of Illi-
nois to form a State Constitution, the " Sec-
tion numbered 16 in every township, and
when such section had been sold or otherwise
disposed of, other lands equivalent thereto
and as contiguous as may be, should be
granted to the State for thn use of the inhab-
itants of such township for the support of
schools." The act further stipiilates " That
5 per cent of the net proceeds of the lands
lying within said State, and which shall be
sold by Congress from and after the 1st day
of January, 1819, after deducting all ex-
penses incident to the same, shall be reservud
for the purposes following: Two-fifths to bo
disbursed, under the direction of Congress,
in making roads leading to the State; the
residue to be appropriated by the Legislature
of the State f nr the encouragement of learn-
ing, of which one sixth part shall be exclu-
sively bestowed on a college or university."
In other words, Congress donated to the
State a full township, six miles square, for
seminary purposes, and the thirty-sixth part
of all the residue of public lands in the State
and 3 per cent of the net proceeds of the sales
of the remainder, to support common schools
and pi'omote education in the then infant
State. Truly a most magnificent and prince-
ly donation and provision for education.
The sixteenth section, so donated, amounted
in the State to nearly a million acres; in
Jeflerson County to over ten thousand acres.
Laws were first passed, directing Commis-
sioners' Courts to appoint three Trustees for
the school land in each township, where the
inhabitants of such townships numbered
twenty white persons. These Trustees had

power to lease the school lands at public out-
cry, after twenty days' notice, to the highest
bidder, for any period not exceeding ten
years, the rents to be paid in improvements,
or in shares of the products raised. The
laws were crude, and fell far short of their
intended object. The school lands, under
the lessee or rental arrangement, yielded lit-
tle or no revenue; many of the renters, hav-
ing no title to nor common interest in the
land, only opened and cultivated enough for
a bare support, and of course produced noth-
ing to divide. Then squatters took posses-
sion of a considerable portion, and wasted
the timber, and in many ways depreciated
the value of the lands. As a result, the cause
of education languished, and was at a stand-
still for years. There were a great man}' in-
fluences and obstacles in the way of a general
diffusion of knowledge. The settlements
were sparse, and money or other means of
remunerating teachers were scarce; and
teachers, competent to impart even the com-
mon rudiments of an English education were
few and far between.

This state of affairs continued until 1825,
when Joseph Duncan, then a member of the
State Senate, introduced a bill for the sup-
port of common schools by a public tax. The
preamble to the act was as follows: "To
enjoy our rights and liberties, we must un-
derstand them; their security and protection
ought to be the first object of a free peo2:)le;
and it is a well-established fact that no na-
tion has ever continued long in the enjoy-
ment of civil and political freedom which
was not both virtuous and enlightened; and
believing that the advancement of literature
always has been and ever will be the means
of devolojjing more fully the rights of man;
that the mind of every citizen in a republic
is the Common property of society and con-
stitutes the basis of its strength and happi-



ness; it is, therefore, considered the peculiar
duty of a free government, like ours, to en-
courage and extend the improvement and
cultivation of the intellectual energies of the
whole." The test of this admirable law may
be divined from the preamble. It gave edu-
cation a powerful impetus, and common
schools floimshed in almost every settlement.
But notwithstanding all this, the law was in
advance of the civilization of the times.
The early settlers had left the older States —
the Southern States, where common scliool
education never has flourished as it should —
and plunged into the wilderness, braving
countless dangers and privations in order to
better their individual fortunes and to escape
the burdens of taxation, which advanced re-
finement and culture in any people invaria-
bly impose. Hence, the law was the subject
of much bitter opposition. The very idea of
a tax was so hateful, that even the poorest
preferred to pay all that was necessary for
the tuition of their children, or keep them in
ignorance — which was generally the case —
rather than siibmit to the mere name of tax.
This law — the Duncan law, as it was
called — is the foundation upon which rests
the superstructure of the present common
school system of Illinois. The law provided
for the division of townships into school
districts, in each of which were elected three
School Trustees, corresponding to Directors
of the present day, one Clerk, one Treasurer,
one Assessor and one Collector. The Trust-
ees of each district had supreme control and
management of the school within the same,
and the employment of teachers and fixing
their remuneration. They were required to
make an annual report to the County Com-
missioners' Com-t, of the number of children
living within the bounds of such district, be-
tween she ages of five and twenty one years,
and what number of them were actually

sent to school, with a certificate of the time
a school was kept ujj, with the expenses of
the same. Persons over the age of twenty-
one years were permitted to attend school
iipon the order of the Trustees; and the his-
tory of education in Illinois discloses the
fact that it was no uncommon thing for men
beyond the meridian of life to be seen at
school with their children. The law required
teachers, at the close of their schools, to pre-
pare schedules giving alphabetically the
names of attending pupils, with ^their ages,
the total number of days each pupil attended,
the aggregate number of days attended, the
average daily attendance, and the standing
of each scholar. This schedule was submit-
ted to the Trustees for their ajaproval, as no
teacher was paid any remimeration except on
presentation to the Treasurer of his schedule,
signed by a majority of the Trustees. The
law further provided, that all commun
schools should be maintained and supported
by a direct public tax. School taxes were '
payable either in money or in produce, and
teachers would take the produce at market
price, or if there was no current value, the
price was fixed by arbitration. Fancy the
schoolma'am of the present daj^, taking her
hard-earned salary as a teacher in potatoes,
turnips or coon skins! We have heard it re-
lated of a teacher in one of the counties border-
ing the Wabash River, that he was paid in
coon skins for a ten weeks' school ; and after
his school was out, he footed it to Vincennes,
with his pelts upon his back, a distance of
over thirty miles, and there disposed of them.
When this wise and wholesome law was
repealed by the Legislature, Gen. Duncan
wrote, as if gifted with prophecy, " That
coming generations would see the wisdom of
his law, and would engraft its principles on
their statute-books; that changes in the con-
dition of society might render difterent ap-



plications of the same necessary, but that the
principle was eternal, and the essence of free
and enlightened government; and legislators
who voted against the measui-e will yet live
to see the day when all the childi'en of the
State will be educated through the medium
of common schools, supported and main-
tained by direct tax upon the people, the
burden falling upon the rich and poor in
proportion to their worldly possessions."
These predictions, yellow with the years of a
half-century and over, have been faithfully
fulfilled and verified.

The Duncan school law remained in force
only a little over two years, when it was re
pealed. The great objection, as we have
said, to the law, was the tax clause. This
was, substantially, that the legal voters of
any school district had power, at any of their
meetings, to cause either the whole or one-
half of the sum necessary to maintain and
conduct a school in said district, to be raised
by taxation. And if the voters decided that
only one-half of such required amount was
to be so raised, the remainder was to be paid
by the parents, masters and guardians, in
proportion to the number of pupils which
each of them might send to such school. No
person, however, could be taxed for the sup-
jjort of any free school unless by his or her
consent fu'st obtained in writing, though all
persons refusing to be taxed were precluded
from sending pupils to such school. In al-
most every district there were those who had
no childi'en to educate, and then there was
an uncivilized element of frontier life, who
believed education was a useless and un-
necessary accomplishment, and only needful
to divines and lawyers; that bone and muscle
and the ability to labor were the only require-
ments necessarv to fit their daughters and
sons for the practical duties of life. A prov-
erb then current was (in many localities),

" The more book-learning the more rascals."
To quote a localism of the day, "Gals didn't
need to know nothin' about books, and all
that boys orter know was how to grub, maul
rails and hunt." That senseless prejudice,
born of the crude civilization of the early
period of the country, has descended, in a
slight degree, to the present, and yet tinges
the complexion of society in many different

After the repeal of the Duncan law, edu-
cation, for nearly a generation, was in any-
thing but a flourishing condition, either in
this county or in the State. Like the stag-
nant waters of a Southern lagoon, it was
difficult to tell whether the current flowed
backward or forward. For many years the
schoolhouses, school books, school teachers
and the manner of instruction were of the
most primitive character throughout the
whole of Southern Illinois. The houses
were the proverbial log cabin, so often de-
scribed in the early annals. A few of these
humble schoolhouses, unused and almost
rotted down, may still be occasi'jnally seen,
eloquent of an ago forever past. The early
books were as primitive as the cabin school -
houses, and the early teacher was, perhaps,
the most primitive of all. The old-time
pedagogue was a marked and distinctive
character of the early history — one of the
vital forces of the earlier growth. He con-
sidered the matter of imparting the limited
knowledge he possessed a mere question of
effort, in which the physical element predomi-
nated. If he couldn't talk or read it into
a pupil, he took a stick and mauled it into

The schoolmaster usually, by common con-
sent, was a personage of distinction and im-
portance. He was of higher authority, eveu
in the law, than the Justice of the Peace,
and ranked him in social position. He was



considered the intellectaal center of the
neighborhood and was consulted upon all
BubjectB, public and private. Most generally
he was a hard-shell Baptist in religion, a
Democrat in politics and worshiped Gen.
Jackson as his political savior. But the
old-time pedagogue — the pioneer of Ameri-
can letters — is a thing of the past, and we
shall never see his like again. He Is ever
in the van of advancing civilization, and tied
before the whistle of the locomotive or the
click of the telegraph was heard. He can-
not live within the pale of progress. His
race became extinct here more than a quarter
of a century ago, when the common school
system began to take firm hold and become a
fixed institution among the people. The
older citizens remember him, but to the
young of to-day he is a myth, and only lives
in tradition.

The school laws, after the repeal of the
Duncan law, were often changed — they were
revised and changed again before they at-
tained to the perfection we at present have
in them. Even now, they are susceptible of
improvement, though they are superior to
those of many other States. A ])eculiarity in
the difl'erent State constitutions is that per-
taining to education. The constitution of
1818, while indorsing education in a general
way, is silent upon the subject of educating
the masses through the medium of the com-
mon schools. The framers of the constitu-
tion of 1848 went a little further; they said
that the General Assembly might provide a
system of free schools. It was not, however,
till cf ter half a century of existence as a State,
that her delegates, in convention assembled,
engrafted upon the pages of her organic law
a mandatory section, declaring " that the
General Assembly sihall provide a thorough
and efiicient system of free schools, whereby
all children of this State may receive a good

common school education ;" and the last Gen-
eral Assembly (1882-83), among the few re-
deeming acts of its long, turbulent session,
was one compelling all parents, guardians,
etc., to educate the children intrustedto them.
The first school ever taught in Jeiferson
County was in 1820, by Joel Pace, whom we
have mentioned elsewhere as the first Coun-
ty and Circuit Clerk. It was taught in a
floorless cabin, without ceiling or window —
perhaps without a shutter to the door. The
pupils comprised the children of William
Maxey, probably, and John and Henry Wil-
kerson's, one or two of Isaac Casey's and a
few of James and Lewis Johnson's. The
next school was taught by James Douglas, at
Old Shiloh. Douglas was a man of educa
tion, and, it is said, understood several dif-
ferent languages. He boarded at Zadok
Casey's much of the time, and from him Mr.
Casey received the rudiments of an English
education. The Shiloh house in which
Douglas taught was burned down the next
fall, and hence his was the only school
taught in it. Another was afterward built,
near the same site. Emory P. Moore taught,
perhaps, the third school in the county at
Union, in 1820-21. In 1822, W. L. Howell
taught in the same house. About 1821-22,
an Irishman named Freeinan taught a school
on Mulberry Hill, in a cabin that had been
built by Clark Casey and afterward aban-
doned. Referring to the early schools of the
coanty, Mr. Johnson says: " The schools
were not large nor learned. The Testament,
spelling-book and arithmetic, with writing,
constituted the coarse of study; audit didn't
'run smooth,' for nearly all the schools were
loud — just as loud as the children's lungs
could make them, every one studying at the
top of his voice; yet the teachers were more
rigorous in discipline than is common at
present. "



;- THE



The following statistics will show some-
thing of the present status of education in
the county:
Number of children in the county under

twenty-one years 11,041

Number of children between six and twen-
ty-one years 7,414

Number of graded schools in county. ... 2

Number of schoolhouses, brick. 4 ; frame,

90; log, 15; total 109

Number of males attending scliool, 2,942;

females, 2.787; total 5.729

Number of male teachers employed, 89;

female, 52; total 141

Fund for school purposes from all sources, $38,139.37
Total expenditures for schools, etc 32, 191.23

Balance on hand Juno 30, 1883 $ 5,948.14

The Press. — A history of the county which
did not give a full and complete histor}' of
the press woitld be incomplete, to say the
least. JeiTerson County, like many other por
tions of the State — and many portions, even,
of the whole country -^has been a great news
paper graveyard. For a history of the
many enterprises — living and dead, past and
present — in the "art preservative of all arts,"
we are indebted to Dr. A. Clark Johnson,
who knows more of the press history, as well
as the entire history of Jefferson County,
than any other man. living. His sketch of
the jjress is as follows:

It ought not to be difficult to prepai'e a full
and connected account of our newspaper en-
terprises, but it is so; and chiefly, we suj)-
pose. because oui- papers .changed owners so
ofteu, and so many of our editors and pub-
lishers have left us. We trust, however,
that the reader will find nearly all the lead-
ing actors and events in this line in the fol-
lowing sketch:

Tlie Jeffersonian. — Our present Circuit
Clerk, John S. Bogan, was the principal one
"to be, to do and to sufier" in this, our lirst
attempt. A few words of him are not out of
place here. The son of a printer, Mr. Bogan

had learned the art in the Congressional
Globe office at Washington City in early boy-
hood, and followed types till 1840. He then
located a few miles out of town, near the line
of Montgomery and Prince George Coun-
ties, in Maryland. He was born in Shenan
doah County, Va., in 1820. His father,
Benjamin Bogan. was also a Virginian, and
a fine type of that old Virginia gentleman
now fast passing away. For many years he
edited and published a newspaper in both
Virginia and Ohio, and then located in
Washington City. Our old editor, John S. ,
has been with us so long that we all know
him. He is a part of us — a very large part,
for his heart is large enough and warm
enough to take in the whole human race.
He came here young, and buoyant with hope
and life, and now he is growing old and is
fast descending the shady side of life. For
forty years he has gone in and out among us,
and his long and active life is without spot
or blemish. Although he long ago retired
from the editorial chair, he has always been
in public life, itntil the county machinery
would hardly run without his aid.

He came to our county in 1846, at the sug-
gestion of Gov. Casey, who was ever trying
to bring the better class of immigration
hither, and bought the old Sam Casey place
in Grand Prairie. He was quite a success-
ful farmer, aad remained here till 1851. T.
B. Tanner, having learned from Gov. Casey
that Bogan was a printer, rode out to his
farm and remained a day or two with him,
discussing the project of starting a paper in
Mount Vernon. The result was that the
paper was determined upon, and a subscrip-
tion by the citizens footed up $156. A pause
ensued. H. T. Pace inquired how much
more was wanted, and finding it was §200
offered to loan that sum, taking notes due in
one and two years.



Bogan found a partner in the person of
Augustus A. Stickney, then at Centralia.
Stickney, we believe, was originally from St.
Clair County, and was related to the O'Mal-
venys. He was a man of brain and vim, but
not much physical strength. An old Ram-
mage 2:)ress was secured at Belleville. It had
formerly done service at Alton. It was inked
with balls instead of a roller. Its mahogany
frame would indicate that it had once been a
line one, but it required four tremendous
pulls to print a paper. This was too much
for Stickney, who got to spitting blood when
he went to strike off the paper; so in a few
weeks he retired, went to Faii-tield and
started a paper there. Let us finish him:
From Fairfield he went South, and at length
brought up in San Francisco, where he pub-
lished, and perhaps still publishes, the
Alaska Herald. We have a copy of his
paper. Vol. VI., No. 140 agooddeal English,
some Russian, and in his terms he agrees to
take greenbacks at par.

The first number of the Jefferson ian was
issued in August, 1851. It was a modest
sheet, of six column size, with some adver-
tisements, and enjoyed a circulation of about
six hundred copies. The Hamilton County
printing was done here, but beyond this the
job work did not amount to much. Prob
ably, in the way of Eastern exchanges, the
Jeffersonian excelled any other paper we
ever had. The Alton Telegraph and the
State Register, both dailies, were also on the
exchange list, besides the few papers then
published in Southern Illinois, as the Cairo
Argus, Benton Standard, Shavpneetown Ad-
vocate, Belleville Advocate, Salem Advocate
and the rest of the Advocates, whether so-
called or not. It was not, however, a finan-
cial success, resembling, in this respect,
Grossman's Benton Standard, and most of
the papers of that day in Southern Illinois.

After Stickney left, Bogan had helps —
"Wallace; Matchett, the universal tramper,
who could scare all the boys bj' his fearful
recitations of Shakespeare; Frank Manly,
who married and went to Mount Carmel and
died; John A. Wall for a short time, T. T.
Wilson, E. V. Satterfield, et at. This office
produced the first roller ever used in the
county. Bogan was the building committee,
and Ed Satterfield the master mechanic. Ed
Noble made a tin mold; the materials were
mixed and cooked in an old iron pot, and
the whole performance took place in the mid-
dle of Main street, in front of the office.
Thus the modern improvements were intro-
duced. Yet the enterprise failed to pay, and
in three years was hopelessly in arrears — as
papers are apt to be when their subscribers are.
Pace sued on his notes, and finally Bogan,
his paper and his farm all "went under" to-

Tanner, at this time, was Circuit Clerk,
having been elected in 1852, and he re-
proached himself as the cause of Mr. Bogan' s
misfortune. Downing Baugh was now Judge,
filling the unexpired term of S. S. Marshall.
So Tanner, having first obtained a promise
of Judge Baugh, resigned his office and Bo-
gan was appointed to succeed him. Thus
began Bogan's somewhat protracted term as
Clerk of the Circuit Court, dating from Sep-
tember. 1854.

In August of that year, however, in wind-
ing up his affairs, he had sold his old press
to Bowman & Robinson for $325 in gold.
These gentlemen were from St. Louis; the
former a son of wealthy parents, the latter
fresh from California; both nice young men
— too nice to be satisfied with so rough a

Online LibraryWilliam Henry PerrinHistory of Jefferson County, Illinois → online text (page 28 of 76)