William Henry Perrin.

History of Jefferson County, Illinois online

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township on file in this office. D. Dunklin,

Surveyor Oeneral.

And the deficiency has never been sup-
plied.

In looking over those old field notes, we
are surprised at another feature — the fre-
quent occurrence of " White Oak" among the

*By Dr. A. Clark Johnson.



bearing trees. It may have been that the
surveyors sought this as the most enduring
variety of oak; possibly it may sometimes
mean water oak; yet the proportion seems
very large. Of about 200 bearing trees,
there were twenty-five hickory, fifty-seven
"Black Oak," five "Pin Oak," nine elm,
three sassafras, two ash, one each of gum,
locust, mulberry and walnut, and ninety-six
"White Oak."

At the time when our sketch begins, the
natural features of the country differed from
anything we have seen here for a generation
or more. The prairies, valleys, bills and
water-courses were where they are to-day, of
course, but all were dressed in quite another
garb. The annual autumnal fires, sweeping
over all, burned out and kept down the un-
dergrowth; and the woods were so open, the
trees so lofty, the branches so high, and the
ground so bare of anything like a bush, that
game could be descried in any direction at
almost any reasonable distance. A deer
could be seen a quarter of a mile in the
woods, and a man on horseback nearly a mile,
at any point where there were no intervening



276



HISTORY OF JEFFERSON COUNTY.



hills to stop the view. The eastern part of
this township consisted of open barrens, as
if a few trees had been scattered over a some-
what broken or rolling prairie. These facts
explain what would seem very odd in the old
field notes above referred to, that the sec-
tion corner between four and five on the
township line had to be marked by a "post
in mound;" that the half mile corner on the
north side of Section 29 is marked "no
trees," and the same note is made of the cor-
ner between Sections 11, 12, 13 and 1-4.

The prairies generally ran into the woods
without any border of small trees or thickets;
and the grass was generally higher than a
man's head, frequently high enough to hide
a man on horseback at the distance of a hun-
dred yards. They appeared much more
nearly level than now. This was partly
because the grass was ranker on the lower
ground, and partly because, before the grass
was eaten and tramped down so closely, the
water filtered away or stood in the valleys,
whereas it now washes a channel that carries
away the soil.

There was this peculiarity, too, in both
prairie and timber, that wherever the ground
was level or low, it was wet and marshy
throughout the year. Being trampled but
little and very porous, besides being shaded
by the luxiu'iant grass, the earth held water
so that it hardly ever became thoroughly dry.
Bottom lands were extremely wet, and their
soil a heavy clay, utterly unlike the loam
that has since been carried down from the
adjacent uplands.

With these facts all in view, and knowing
that the township is somewhat hilly on the
west, rolling off to the creek two miles to the
east, rising gently into hills beyond, with a
little prairie of about 1,000 acres on its
south side, the reader can form a pretty good
idea of what the present Mount Vernon



Township was at the beginning. There was
no trace of man, except the surveyor's marks
upon the trees, and the Goshen road. This
famous road led from Goshen, a settlement
four or five miles this side of Edwardsville,
to the salt-works on the Saline; and was made
by parties going to the Saline for salt. It
struck this county just south of where the
town of Walnut Hill now stands, and passed
out near the southeast corner. It entered
this township about Section 5, and running
west of the old Short camp-ground, passed
out east of where John Waite lives. So noted
was this old trail, that it is referred to over
fifty times in the Government surveys of the
county, and eight or ten times in the field
notes of this township. In numberless
places it may still be seen. Yet it was only
a narrow trail, almost buried under the rich
growth of summer, coming out in wonderful
distinctness after the autumnal fires.

About the year 1815, a man by the name
of Black came up from Pope County on a
hunting expedition. On his return, he gave
a glowing accoimt of the country, and espe-
cially of a beautiful prairie he had visited.
Among others, he told his story to the Caseys,
near Cave-in-Rock. They soon set out in
search of Black's Prairie, and this was the
occasion of their first visit to this part of the
country. They never knew whether they
found Black's Prairie or not. But in the
autumn of IS 15, Isaac Casej and his two
sons — William, a married man, and Thomas
M., a large boy — came out to look at the
country. They came by Crenshaw's ; and he,
glad of new-comers, as all pioneers are, ac-
companied them in their search for locations.
A circumstance occurred on their way up,
which afforded them much amusement. As
they took a northwesterly course across the
prairie, a deer (a very large buck) started up
at a little distance from them, and the men







/^x -t^z <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^'— -^ ^'



LSBRAKY

i." THE

jNlVERSnV Of iLUNOIS



HISTORY OF JEFFERSON COUNTY.



279



all blazed away at it at ouce. It ran a little
way, and fell. They ran up, each one shout-
ing, "I killed it ! I killed it ! It's my deer,
I killed it !" when lo ! only one bullet-hole
was to be found in all its tawny hide. The
animal was opened and the bullet found,
when it proved to be from the gun of Cren-
shaw, the oldest man, indeed the only old
man in the company. This party went a few
miles beyond the present site of Mount
Vernon, and returned.

In the spring of 1816, Isaac Casey, Will-
iam, his son, Brunetta, his daughter, and
Isaac Hicks, his son-in law, all came out and
built a camp at the northern edge of the
prairie, just east of where the Supreme Court
building now stands. They broke and culti-
vated a little field, without any fence of
course, extending to where the Methodist
Church stands. In after years, when the old
camp had been left and had rotted down, a
locust tree sprang up on the old chimney pile
— the same tree that now stands in the street
east of the Supreme Court House. In the
fall of this year, 1816, these all went back to
the Ohio River where they came from, and
brought out their families and the rest of
their stock. William Casey, with wife and
child, came into the cabin just referred to.
Isaac erected a cabin near where L. N. Beal
lives. Section 31, while Isaac Hicks located
near the place at which he died.

While these pioneers were raising this
year's crop, they had no trouble about meat
or "sass," as game was abundant and honey
more abundant still, but bread was a serious
matter. William Casey brought their first
supplies of meal from Kentucky, and corn in
the following year. Isaac Casey and one or
other of his daughters, several times went
to the Wabash bottoms, ten miles beyond
Carmi, to lay in a supply of meal. "Uncle"
Isaac rode a horse and led one, but a single



horse and "turn"' of meal was found enough
for a girl. One of them, Mrs. Katy Tyler,
tells how that, on their return from one of
those trips, she chanced to slip off the horse
near where the fair grounds are located; and
there was not a stump, rock, hillock, log or
anything else, from which she could remount
" in all that part of the country,'' so she had
to walk home.

Of the pioneers of 1817 and 1818, most
located in Moore's Prairie and Shiloh. Hen-
ry Wilkerson, about this time, settled on the
hill just south of the Jake Stitch — now Bates
— house; and William Jordan settled on
Seven Mile Creek, where Coleman Smith af-
terward lived so long, and Thomas Jordan
southwest of him. Thomas D. Minor, lo-
cated a little southwest of where Thomas
Johnson lives. Very little as to progress of
settlement can be learned from the land en-
tries. The first entries were made in 1817.
In that year William Casey entered land in
Section 30, Isaac Casey in 31, and Gorum
A. Worth in 32. In 1818, Elihu Maxey en-
tered land in Section 6, William Casey in
29 and 30, and Thomas Sloo, Jr., in 31. In
1819, Jeptha Hardin entered in Section 20,
Abraham P. Casey and Henry Bechtle in
28, Joel Pace and Dorris and Maxey in 30,
Gray and Grant and John Johnson in 32.
Then there was not an acre of land entered
in the township for seven years! So we find
hardly half a dozen families in the township
at the time Mount Vernon began; and before
proceeding further, we must stop and become
better acquainted with the persons already
mentioned.

Isaac Casey used to say that his father and

uncle came over the ocean and settled at

Goldsboro, N. C. , whence they passed by

successive removals to South Carolina and

Georgia. There is another account — that

Abner Casey, reared in the North of Ireland,

1 1



280



HISTOBY OF JEFFERSON COUNTY.



married a Welsh lady and came to Virginia,
on the Roanoke; their children were Levi,
Mosea, Eandolph and a daughter; all went
to South Carolina about 1760; Randolph
married Mary Jane Pennington, and Levi,
Randolph, Isaac, Abraham P., Charity, Hi-
ram, Samuel and Zadok were their children.
This family went to Georgia in 1795, thence
to Smith County, Tenn., a few years later.
Isaac Casey was born in South Carolina in
1765, maiTied Elizabeth Mackey in 1788,
and went to Barren County, Ky. He was
Sheriff of that county about six years. In
1803, he came to Illinois, and located on the
Ohio River, a mile or two above the Cave-in-
Rock. A double murder occurred there some
years after. A Mr. Ballinger killed a Mr.
Billingsly, and then one Fisher killed Ballin-
ger. Fisher was related to the fh'st victim,
and aiso to Casey; and Casey was almost the
only witness against Fisher. Isaac Casey
did not want a man hung on his testimony
alone, so he went up into the hills along the
Saline, and spent months there; he then
went to Arkansas Post and was gone a year,
and probably it was really a similar motive
that brought him to this section. After liv-
ing where L, N. Beal does for seven or
eight years, he sold out to Abe Buffington in
1825; made a little improvement near where
Lewis Johnson lives; went to merchandis-
ing with Joel Pace at town in 1828; but soon
retired, and spent most of his remaining
days in the country. He was a man of great
energy and activity, a dignified Christian
gentleman, though he had been dissij)ated in
his younger days. Isaac Casey was the
father of Isaac Hicks' wife, Rebecca; Clark
Casey's wife, Polly; Dr. Wilkey's wife,
Brunetta; Henry Tyler's wife, Catharine;
George Bullock's wife, Miranda. His sons
were William, Abram T. and Thomas M.



i The old man died at Thomas M. Casey's, in
; 1848. at the age of eighty-four years.

AVilliam Case, — or "Billy," as more
commonly called — was the oldest son and
the second child of Isaac Casey; was born
in Barren County, Ky. , in 1794 or 1795.
His wife was Amy Barker, daughter of
Lewis Barker, who owned the ferry at
Cave-in-Rock so long; and they bnnight one
child, Blackford, with them to this county.
After living awhile in tLe cabin before men-
tioned, he built a pretty decent house of
hewn logs where the Commercial Hotel now
stands, saying jocosely when it was up,
" Boys, here is the first house in town."
When the town was laid off, however, this
house was just outside the limits. He then
cleared a field reaching nearly to where the
Presbyterian Church stands. A few years
later he built on the hill where Sauiuel Casey
last lived; he sold that place to Joseph Sla-
ter in 1836, and moved to a place on Punch-
eon Camp Creek, and thence soon after to
the northern part of the State. In a year or
two he came back, lived at the Harlow place
two miles from town, thence going to Punch-
eon Camp, thence to Moore's Prairie. His
wife died in 1846, and in 1850 he married
Miss M. J. Shelton; lived at the Prairie two
or three years; moved back to the Harlow
place, and died there in 1854.

The name of William Casey was one that
suggested a strong mitid, a very strong and
active body, and passions deep and terrible
when once aroused. He worked and traded
with excellent judgment, and received some
assistance from his father-in-law ; so that he
was for some time the wealthiest man in the
county. He and Isaac Hicks were all the
men who brought surplus money with them,
and much of the land entered by the settlers
in that day was entered with money bor-



HISTORY OF JEFFERSON COUNTY.



281



rowed from ihem. He never sought office, but
was once, in 1820, elected as one of the Coun-
ty Commissioners. At all times he walked
with a kingly dignity that made our boyish
eyes look for the ground to shake under him.
Mrs. Casey was a good woman. Their chil-
dren were Blackford, Maletna (Mrs. A. D.
Estes), William B. (or Buck), Abraham,
Drury B., Thomas, Melissa (]\Ii-s. Griibbs and
afterward Mrs. Lester) and Zadok. Newton,
recently deceased, was a son of the second
wife.

Hem-y Wilkerson had a brother John, and
Phebe, wife of Rhodam Allen, was his sister.
They were Virginians by way of Tennessee.
Henry lived for many years on the place he
first settled, in a round-pole cabin, for he was
fond of drink and never accumulated much ;
he was long subject to tits of insanity, in one
of which he would set out and walk hundreds
of miles ; he made three or four trips thus
from Tennessee to Virginia, and one from
Tennessee to Illinois ; he at length became
entirely deranged, and remained so till his
death, sometimes being furious, at other
times nearly rational ; but he never was so
rational as not to run, when he saw a storm
coming, and throw his hat, shoe, sock, or
whatever came to hand, into the fire, to stop
the wind from blowing. By trade he was a
cooper. He lived at Robert's for fourteen
years, in a small house in the yard, and died
in 1846, aged nearly eighty-four years. His
wife, from whom he had long lived separate,
survived him, and lived to the age of ninety-
nine years. Their sons were William, who
went to Louisiana ; Edward, who died in
Union County, and Robert. Few descend-
ants of these remain. Mrs. Stockird, of
Mount Vernon, is a daughter of Edward, and
Rosa Wilson a grand-daughter of Robert — a
short list. Of Henry Wilkerson's daughters.
Sally married Jarvis Pierce ; Phebe married



Spencer Pace ; Rachel, George Crosno ; and
Rebecca, J. Wesley Hicks Many descend-
ants of these are with us.

William Jordan was the son of William
Jordan, Sr., and the nephew of Thomas Jor-
dan, who settled near him. The older set
were William, Joseph, Thomas and Francis
— the last remaining in Franklin Coanty.
Thomas lived a few years near where David
H. Warren lives, then moved to where Elias
Howard lives, and gave name to Jordon's
Prairie. His wife was a Whitesides. Will-
iam Jordan, Jr., had a sister married to
Moses Ham and one married to Nicholas
Wren, and a brother named Aaron, who
married a Crooms. Most of the Jordans re-
mained here till 1830 and 1832, then some
went North and some to Texas, A man of
the name of Parker from Vincennes got a do-
nation of a league of land in Texas, and took
oS" quite a colony of Jordans, Greenwoods
and others. Joe Jordan, William, Jr.,
Thomas, Jr.. Oliver Morris, etc., all went to
Texas.

The act of the General Assembly, forming
Jefferson Coanty. approved March 26, 1819,
as set forth in a preceding chapter, con-
tained this clause : " And for the purpose of
fixing the permanent seat of justice therein
the following persons are appointed Com-
missioners: Ambrose Maulding, Lewis Bar-
ker, Robert Shipley, James A. Richardson
and Richard Graham ; which said Commis-
sioners or a majority of them, being duly
sworn before some Judge or Justice of rhe
Peace of this State to faithfully take into
view the convenience of the peojjle, the situ-
ation of the settlement with an eye to future
population and the eligibility of the place,
shall meet on the second Monday of May, at
the house of William Casey, in said county,
and proceed to examine and detei-mine on the
place for the permanent seat of justice and



388



HISTORY OF JEFFERSON COUNTY.



designate the same; provided, that the pro-
prietor 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 pro-
prietor or proprietors reftise or neglect to
make the donation aforesaid, then and in
that case it shall be the duty of the Commis-
sioners to fix on some other place for the
seat of justice, as convenient as may be to
the inhabitants of said county ; which place
fixed and determined upon, the said Commis-
sioners shall certify under their hands and
seals, and shall return the same to the next
Commissioners' Court in the coitnty afore-
said."

When the first Coitnty Board met in June.
1819, the location of the county seat was one
of the first matters that demanded its atten-
tion. The Commissioners appointed by the
Legislature presented the following report :

" According to an act of the General As-
sembly, passed the 10th day of March, 1819,
appointing certain Commissioners to meet
on the second Monday of May at the house
of William Casey, for the purpose of fixing
a permanent seat of justice for and in Jeiier-
son County, the following persons met, viz. :
Lewis Barker, Ambrose Maulding and
James A. Richardson, who, after being ditly
sworn, have provided, determined and fixed
upon the southwest quarter of Section 29,
Range 3, Town 2, on the laud owned by
William Casey, the town to be laid off in
the southwest corner of said quarter, to com-
mence near the timber, on a point not far
distant from said Casey's house, and thence
to the foot of the descent, on a point on



which said Casey's house stands, or in such
manner as said County Commissioners shall
designate.

" Given itnder our hands and seals this
12th day of May, 1819.

" It is unanimously agreed that the name
of the town shall be Mount Pleasant.

" James A. Richardson,
" Ambrose Maulding,
" Lewis Barker."

This settled the question of locating the
county seat. Isaac Hicks had been expect-
ing to have it near him, as " Post Oak Hill,"
his place, was very near the geographical
center of the county, and the land lay well
for the piu'pose. An effort had also been
made to locate it on the high grounds between
the Casey place and the Dodds place, west
of the present site ; but the influence of
William Casey with Lewis Barker, his father-
in-law, predominated, and it was put as
close to him as it .could be without including
his house and improvements.

Of the men just named, we may here add:
Lewis Barker, as just stated, was the father
of Mrs. Casey, and the owner of the ferry at
Cave-in-Rock, and was a member the first
four sessions of the State Senate from Pope
County. Ambrose Maulding lived near his
brother Ennis, in Hog Prairie, a few miles
this side of where McLeansboro is now.
Ennis, it will be remembered, went to the
State Senate ; he also built a famous mill on
Skillet Eork. James A. Richardson lived
about Carmi. We don't know what became
of Shipley and Graham. A year or two later,
the county allowed Maulding S8 and Barker
and Richardson $12 each for their services.



HISTORY OF JEFFERSON" COUNTY.



283



CHAPTER II.*



CITY OF MOUNT VERNON— THE LAYING-OUT AND BEGINNING OF THE TOWN— SALE OF LOTS— EREC-
TION OF PUBLIC BUILDINGS— THE FIRST COURT HOUSE— STRAY POUND, GAOL AND
CLERK'S OFFICE— STICK CHIMNEYS, COURT HOUSE LOCK, ETC.— THE PIONEERS
AND FIRST SETTLERS IN THE TOWN— THEIR GENHALOQICAL TREES, ETC.

eighteen and twenty- four months. Mount
Pleasant was the name first projwsed, and
almost became the name of the town ; but
the popular love for AVashington was yet
warm, and Mount Vernon, his ancestral
home, prevailed.

In a few weeks, the services of William
Hosick were engaged ; the town was surveyed
and platted, and the notes and plat ready for
record by July 10. This man, Hosick, was
the son of a little Scotchman, who lived in
Livingston County, Ky., about nine miles
from Golconda, Alick Hosick. William was
a one-armed man, and lived at Shawneetown.
The new town, of course, included but twenty
acres. It extended from Harrison street
north of the jail, on the north, to Jordan
street on the south, and from Casey street
east of the Commercial Hotel on the west, to
Johnson Alley, west of Westbrook & Co.'s
Mill, on the east. The lots were numbered
from the northwest corner, where Crebs lives,
and ended with Lot 48 in the southeast
corner, where Kline's boarding house stands.
They lay in eight squares, three each way,
and one to the county, but nothing was said
about blocks in the survey. Here, then, the
business lay till September, when, the time
of sale drawing nigh, it is "ordered that
AVilliam Casey and Joel Pace be, and they
are, hereby employed to set four mulberry
stakes around the public square, /. e., one at
each corner, to drive all the stakes in the



" the waving fields

Bow to the reaper, where I wildly roamed ;
Cities now rise where I pursued the deer ;
And dust offends me, where in happier years
I breathed in vigor from untainted gales."

— The Aged Pioneer.

ON the 0th of Jtine, the court proceeded
to consider the expediencj' of laying
off the town, so as to enable them to sell the
lots and place them in a situation to erect
pitblic buildings, wherefore it was ordered :
" That Joel Pace be, and be is, hereby ap-
pointed and empowered to contract with a
surveyor to lay off the said town in sttch
manner as will be most advantageous to the
county, or in such manner as the County
Commissioners may direct ; and it is further
ordered that the sale of said lots shall com
mence on the third Monday of September
nest ; and further ordered, that an advertise-
ment to that effect be inserted in the Illinois
Eiiii grant for three weeks previous to the
commencement of said sale, and that fifty
copies of said advertisement be printed on
handbills, to be sent to the different parts of
the country, for the information of those who
may want to attend the sale, for which serv-
ice the editor of the aforesaid paper shall
be paid out of any money that may be in the
treastiry, not otherwise appropriated. And
it is further ordered that the town be called
Mount Vernon." The payments were to be
made in four- equal installments, six, twelve.



' By Dr. A. Clark Johnson.



284



HISTORY OF JEFFERSOX COUNTY.



town, and also to number the lots, for which
they are to be paid by the county the sum of
$5."

The day of sale arrived. About a hundred
persons assembled, many of them strangers,
and they sallied forth into the town. It was
a little nook on a gentle swell at the north
side of the prairie. The edge of the timber
ran from near where the academy afteward
stood, northwest, pasb Fletcher Johnson's,
by the New York Store, by the jail, by Joel
Watson's, west a hundred yards or more, then
southwest, past William Casey's field, and so
on down to where the woolen factory stands :
while clumps of sturdy white oaks stood
west of the square, and at Porter's corner,
and near where D. C. Warren lives. The
prairie was not so smooth as it had been a
few years before, but here and there was a little
hazel or brier patch, or a bunch of sumach or
elder bushes. But the lines had been hacked
or staked out, and the lots could be found.
When well ou.t into the open space, James E.
Davis, a Cumberland Presbyterian preacher,
raised the cry, ' ' O yes, gentlemen ! I am
now going to sell you some lots in the beauti-
ful town of Mount Vernon, all covered now
with a beautiful coat of green, but destined
soon to be cov«red with magnificent build-
ings." Lot No. 1, Crebs's, was struck off to
Bennett Maxey for S^-tl ; No. 2. to Barton
Atchisson ; Burchett Maxey bought No. 4,
south of Herdman's, where he soon after
built a large double log house ; Lewis Wat-
kins took the corner lot, the Joel Pace lot, at
$162.50 ; Nelson Ferguson, the corner east
of that, now bank corner, for $165 ; Edward
Maxey, the Thorn lot, for $60; Clark Casey,
the corner west of Nieman's, at $160 ;
Thomas Jordan, the lot where J. D. John-
son's store is, at $153 ; William Maxey, the
lot now Porter's corner, for $95 ; Dr. Mc-
Lean, afterward of McLeansboro, bought



the H. T. Pace corner at $136 ; Isaac Casey
was his security, McL. failed on it, Isaac
took it, and passed it over to Burchett Maxey.



Online LibraryWilliam Henry PerrinHistory of Jefferson County, Illinois → online text (page 35 of 76)