William Henry Perrin.

History of Jefferson County, Illinois online

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But more of these matters hereafter.

Watkins had already made some prepara-
tions to build on his lot, though he never
paid for it, and Thomas Jordan took it off
his hands ; and Bm'chett Maxey, as before
stated, at once put up a house on his. These
buildings were scarcely under headway, when
Clark Casey moved his walnut-log house
from near where Joseph Pace lately lived up
to his lot, and the town was fairly begun.

Of course, one of the first subjects that
occupied the attention of the County Court
was the erection of public buildings for the
use of the county. Indeed, the court house
was already built, and standing there in all
its glory at the time the sale of lots above
described took place. The first sitting of the
County Commissioners began, as before
stated, June 7, 1819 ; and on the 9th they
determined to build a court house :

''As it is inconvenient to hold court in a
private house for several reasons,

" Ordered, That the building of a court
house be let to the lowest bidder on Friday
the 24th inst., to be eighteen by twenty feet,
thirteen feet high ; to be built of hewed logs
that will face from ten to twelve inches,
closely notched down ; to have a good roof
made of boards ; also a good under floor
made of plank, rough, and closely laid ; and
joist-plates, with holes cut for joists ; the
house to have one door and one window, cut
and faced, and to them good shutters hung,
made of rough plank ; the house and all
the work abotit it done in workman-like
manner, completed and delivered to the
County Commissioners' Court at their next
September term, subject to the inspection of
the County Commissioners, said house to be
built in the public square, or on the spot the



said Commissioners shall designate. The
timber to be fui-nished by Isaac Casey,
William Casey and Josejjh Jordan. The
building of said house to be paid for out of
any moneys that may be in the treasury not
otherwise appropriated."

Accordingly, on Friday, June 25, the court
again met at the house of William Casey ;
and, "in pursuance of an order of the last
court, the building of a coui-t house was this
day let to the lowest bidder, the building of
which John Sanders undertook for the sum
of $85, and entered into bond with James
Kelly, his security, conditioned for the faith-
ful performance of his contract." Isaac
Casey, William Casey and Joseph Jordan
furnished the timber, and many others found
employment in cutting and hewing the logs,
sawing the plank, ''riving'' the boards, haul-
ing, etc. It must not be understood, how-
ever, that the gentlemen named furnished the
timber from their own lands. There was
good timber on the United States lands on
the ridge a mile or two northwest of town,
from where Judge Keller lives to old Union,
and there all the materials for this house
were "got out." Henry Tyler hewed nearly
every log in the building. We can readily
imagine how much the public attention was
excited by so important an enterprise. Not-
withstanding the whole was to be done in the
sultry months of July and August, the work
went bravely on, and when the court met in
September, Monday, 6th, they found the
building nicely finished and ready for use.
' ' According to an order of the last court,
for letting the building of a court house, it
was let to John Sanders, who completed and
delivered the same to the court at their pres-
ent term; wherefore ordered, that the Clerk
grant him a certificate for the same. "

It stood about the center of the public
square, its only door fronting to the south.

its only window in the west side, and the
bushes around were so broken down that its
bright logs and roof were plainly visible from
all the business part of town. But the best of
earthly things are imperfect. As winter
came on, it became too evident that, large
and commodious as the court house was, it
was not a comfortable place for a winter ses-
sion. Hence, when the court met in Decem-
ber, 6th, it was ordered that the finishing of
the building should be let to the lowest bid-
der on the following day. And this was to
be the manner of it : "To be completed as
follows, to wit : A chimney place to be cut
out, and a good chimney, back and hearth
to be built, after the form of the chimney to
the house in which Lewis VVatkins now lives,
and to be as good as said chi i ney was when
it was first finished; also a set of good
hewed or sawed joists put in, and an upper
floor of sawed plank to be closely laid, the
plank to be one and a fourth inches thick;
also the cracks to be closely chinked in-
side, and well daubed outside with well
wrought mortar. There is a platform to be
constructed in the west end of the house, to
be of proper height, four feet wide, of good
hewed puncheons or thick plank, to lack but
three feet of reaching from one side of the
house to the other; at the end of said plat-
form are to be steps composed of blocks or
planks, and a hand-rail in front of the afore-
said platform of a proper height, and a seat
in the rear of the platform of the same
length of the platform, and two seats in front
of the platform of the same length on the
floor, all the seats to be made of good hewed
puncheons or plank, to be made in such a
manner as to be steady, and movable at
pleasure. The platform is to be supported
by good substantial posts, pillars or blocks.
All of which is to be completed by the first
Monday in March next, and to be done in a


workmanlike manner." All of this Oliver
Morris undertook to do for the sum of $80.
But he signally failed, the Commissioners,
on an examination of the work, finding it so
imperfect that they determined to deduct $5
from the amount he was to have received.
He accepted the $75. The building now,
though not indeed everything that a court
house ought to be, had'cost the county $160.

The next demand was a Stray Pound — not
because there were more cattle than criminals
running at large, nor because they were more
likely to be taken up, but because the law im-
peratively required it. And this again was be-
cause, from the scarcity of inclosures, stock was
very liable to go astray. By an act approved
March 23, 1819, the County Court in all new
counties was required, within three months
after locating coui't house, etc., to cause a
Pound to be made near the same place, under
penalty of $20 for every term of the court
after the three months till it should be built.
In this Pound all stray horses, mules, etc.,
over two years old, taken up within twenty
miles, were to be kept from 12 till 4 o'clock
on the first day of the County Court for
three terms nest after the taking up, to en-
able the owner to find and prove his proper-
ty. Strays under two years old were adver-
tised nearly as at present. If over twenty
miles away, the stray was to be put in pound
on the fii'st day of the second term after the
taking up. The keeper was to keep and
tend the pound on court days, under penalty
of §8 fine.

On the second day of this December term,
therefore, the court "Ordered that the build-
ing of a Stray Pound be let to the lowest
bidder, of the following form, to wit: Forty
feet square, five panels on each side of equal
length, to be made of posts and rails, the
posts to be made of white or post oak, neatly
hewed, fom- by seven inches; the rails to be

sufficiently strong; the cracks from two feet
downward not to b^ more than four inches,
and from that upward not more than six
inches ; a good strong gate, and fixed to it a
good lock and key, to be affixed to one side
of said pound ; the posts of said fence to be
set in the ground not less than thirty inches,
to be in all respects strong and firm ; said
pound to be completed and delivered to this
court at the next March term. ' '

John C. Casey took the contract for build-
ing the pound for S33.87i, but he does not
seem to have been in haste about it, for at
the February term, February 10, 1820, the
coui't ordered that the pound be built on Lot
No. 31. Garrison Greenwood having bought
that lot, and failed to execute the required
notes, it of course went back to the county.
The Pound was ordered upon that lot, and
" six feet from the southeast corner." And
there it was located in due time, being re-
ceived March 6, and the architect appointed
to keep it. This lot. No. 31, is that on
which the county jail now stands.

The Jail. Before the Stray Pound was fin •
ished (February 10, 1820), it was determined
to build a jail (m the same lot as
follows: "Ordered, that the building of a
gaol be let to the lowest bidder on the second
day of nest March term, to be built as fol
lows, to wit: The first floor to be composed
of two layers of timbers squared to twelve
inches laid crosswise, and the whole to be
covered with two inch plank closely laid and
spiked down, the floor to be sunk within six
inches of the surface of the earth; the wall
to be composed of timber squared to twelve
inches, of which two walls are to be built
thirteen inches apart, the vacancy between
which is to be filled with timbers not less
than twelve inches square, to stand perpen-
dicularly; the walls to bebtiiltin the way above
described ten feet high, the timbers to be



laid as close as possible; on which a second
floor is to be made of twelve-inch square tim-
ber closely laid and covered with two- inch
plank, closely laid and spiked down, the
spikes to be not less than four inches long;
the room above described is for a dungeon.
On the second floor there is a debtor's room
to be built by continuing the outside wall of
timber as before described, eight feet high
from the second floor; then there is to be a
third floor composed of timbers twelve inches
square, closely laid, reaching from the outside
of each wall, the house to be well covered
with shingles. The lower room to be ten
feet square in the clear, the walls and floors
to be composed of good, sound oak timber.
There is to be a door cut in one side of the
upper or debtor's room, to which a good
shutter is to be made and hung sufiiciently
strong, to be made of two lay of two inch
plank spiked together with spikes to go
through and clinch; there is to be two win-
dows to each room, twelve inches square,
with eight bars of iron two feet long and an
inch and a half square to each window put
crosswise; about the middle of the second
floor there is to be a hole cut two feet square,
and to it there is to be hung sufiiciently
strong a trap-door to fit the hole made in the
same manner that the other door is to be
made; there is to be made to reach up on the
outside of the gaol to the door, a good and
substantial pair of steps, and also a plat-
form made at the top of the steps four feet
square, and a railing three feet high from the
platform around the same and also on one
side of the steps ; the whole to be com-
pleted and delivered in a workmanlike man-
ner to the County Commissioners' Court at
their next December term."

Burchett Masey took the contract for build-
ing the jail at $320. It cost more than the
court house — twice as much — and rightly,

for while there were but fifty or sixty logs in
the court house, there were largely over 200
in the jail. No sooner did Burchett Maxey
secure the job than Zadok Casey, who was an
extra hand with an ax, either in chopping or
hewing, was taken in as a partner. Lewis
and James Johnson and others assisted in
gettiug out the timbers, but John Wilkerson
hauled nearly every log in the building. It
was " erected on the southwest corner of Lot
No. 31, eight feet from the line." And on
the 5th day of December, ' ' Henry B. Maxey,
who undertook the building of the jail, de-
livered the same to the court, which being
completed agreeably to the order, was re-
ceived by the court." The platform required
by the contract was formed by putting in four
logs foui- feet longer than the rest, the pro-
jecting ends forming the platform and need-
ing no support, while the steps were literally
"a pair," being formed of two large tim-
bers twelve or fourteen inches square, in
which the steps were cut. We see economy
in all the transactions of the court. In set-
tling for the jail, the Treasurer was ordered
to pay Z. Casey $114, and H. B. Maxey $96,
and Zadok pledged himself to take his own
paper for the rest, the court authorizing the
Treasurer to receive it.

At the October term of the county court —
October 20, 1820— it was " Ordered, that the
building of a Clerk's ofiice be let to the low-
est bidder on the third Monday in October,
inst., to be built as follows, to wit: The
house to be built of hewed logs, fourteen
feet square, the logs to face from ten to
twelve inches, the wall to be nine feet high,
to have a good, strong and tight clapboard
roof, the ribs and weight poles the bark
shaved off, the wall well chinked on the in-
side and well daubed on the outside; the
house to have a good floor of good and well-
seasoned plank, jointed and well laid, to



have a door place cut, and to it hung with
good, strong iron hinges a good batten door,
made of well-soaaoned plank, one window
cut and faced the proper size for a nine-
light sash, the sash and glass the undertaker
to put in, also to have a chimney built after
the same manner that the chimney to the
court house is built, with good back wall,
hearth and jamb-atones, the corners neatly
sawed down, and a good batten shutter hung
to the window with strong iron hinges; the
house to be built of any kind of oak except
Spanish oak. The whole to be finished in a
workmanlike manner and delivered to the
County Commissioners' Court at their next
December term."

This building was undertaken by John
Wilkerson, but at the next court his time
was extended until March. Accordingly,
March 5, 1821, "the court proceeded to ex
amine the Clerk's office, the workmanship
of which being done in a satisfactory man-
ner, was received, and in discharge for build-
ing the same, ordered the County Treasurer
to pay to William Casey 111, to William
Jordan $2.25, to Henry B. Maxey $4, and to
John Wilkerson $12.37^, all which amounts
to $59.62|." Three months later the court
ordered W. L. Howell |1 for a lock for the
Clerk's office, and it was complete. It stood
about midway on the north side of the pub-
lic square, the door fronting south, the win-
dow north, and the chimney east like that of
the court house. And we may add, it is not
expressly stated in the record, but it was ex-
pressly done — both chimneys were built
wholly of wood except the ' ' back, hearth
and jamb-stones.'' They were genuine mud
and stick chimneys, albeit they were very
neat ones. And speaking of the lock for this
ofiSce reminds ub that in September after the
court house was finished — six months — they
had to pay Lewis Watkins for a lock and

chain for that building. The lock, you will
at once understand, was a padlock, and the
door was secured by putting the chain
through a little chink between the logs and
through an auger hole in the door, and lock-
ing the end links together. You will notice,
too, as the rib poles were shaved, that it was
not intended that the Clerk" s office should
ever have a ceiling.

So much for the public buildings. They
constituted about half of the town. It was
in the court house that Burchett Maxey lived
while finishing his own house on Lot No. 4, and
it was in the Clerk's office that Joel Pace spent
the last years of his single and first months
of his married life. It was here that he
lived with his family when Harvey T. Pace
came out fi-om Kentucky in the vigor of
youth, and split 3,000 rails for him at 50
cents per hundred in State paper, equal to
25 cents in specie. Harvey boarded with
his uncle, and fourteen feet square seems to
have been room enough for them and their
goods, and also the office.

It IS proper, perhaps, that we now tell
who those men were that we have sometimes
mentioned in connection with these first
buildings in Mount Vernon.

James E. Davis, who cried the sale of
town lots, was one of a little colony of Max-
eys, Johnsons and others, that came in from
Sumner County, Teun., in 1818. He lived
near where Robert Edwards lives. His wife
was a sister to Burchett and Elihu Maxey's
wives, and to James Bowman's and John
Afflack's, all being daughters of Perry Tay-
lor, of Wilson County, Tenn. Davis re-
mained here till he had one daughter grown
and married to John Tade. John was a son
of David Tade, and David Tade was the
father also of Mrs. W. Finch. They lived
about where Elijah Knox lives, but in a year
or two Mr. Davis, old Mr. Tade, and all



t.heir families, went to Tazewell County, and
thence to Iowa.

Of those who bought lots: Bennett N.
Maxey was the second son of "William
Maxey and brother to Joshua C. and Jehu
G. D., who are still here; was the father of
William H., James J., Charles H., Joshua
C, Jr., and Thomas J.; also of Mrs. Emily
Ray and Mrs. Eliza White; and died at the
place he first settled, a mile east of Pleasant
Grove, in 1846, aged fifty-one, his widow,
Sally, nee Overbay, dying at Eome seven
years later. William and Edward Mas.ey
were brothers, sons of Jesse Ma.xey, of Vir-
ginia. William married Rhodam Allen'n sis-
ter Emily, in 1793, and came to Illinois in

1818, and was the father of Henry Burchett,
Bennett Nelbon, Elihu, Charles Hardy, Josh-
ua Cannon, William McKeudree Adney and
Jehu; also of Mrs. Clarissa Johnson, Mrs.
Harriet and Mrs. Vylinda A. Casey, and
Hostillina, who died in 1818; and William
himself died in 1838, his wife having died
in 1837. Edward married Elizabeth Pitner,
went to Allen County, Ky., and came thence
to Illinois in 1819; was a Methodist preacher,
held office many years, raised no son or
daughter, but raised Judge Sattertield and
others, and died at Gov. Casey's about thirty-
five years ago, his wife soon following. Bar-
ton Atchisson was from Georgia, by way of
Tennessee; married a Hill, sister to old Mrs.
WiJkey and Mrs. Dempsey Hood; came to
this county in 1815-16, was much in public
life, and died in November, 1847, leaving
sons, William, Ignatius, Samuel and George
W., and daughters Winney Myere, Martha
Chaffin, and one the wife of Theophilus Cook,
Jr. Nelson Ferguson came to this county in

1819, and lived one year on James Johnson's
land, and went back to Tennessee, to Station
Camp Creek, six miles north of Gallatin; his
wife was a Tyler, sister to Jordan Tyler, now

among us. Clark Casey — John C. — was a
son of Abraham P. , and son-in-law of Isaac
Casey; came to this county in 1818, and
raised the first cabin on Mulberry Hill, where
Capt. W^olflf lives, moved several times, lost
his wife, married a Bingaman, went to Mis-
souri, and at last came back and died here in
1862. Lewis Watkins was prominent in the
history of Jefi^erson County for several years,
living first in Moore's Prairie, then in Mount
Vernon, and at last went back to Tennessee,
leaving one child here — Margaret, wife of
Green P. Casey, and mother of Lewis F.
Casey, of Centralia.

Of those concerned in the public buildings:
John Sanders was from Franklin County,
his first wife, Nancy, a sister to Abraham and
Joseph Estes. He was the first Constable,
his appointment dating in June, 1819; next
year he married a Miss Cox, soon after got
license to keep tavern — somewhere in the
south part of the county, and then we lose
all trace of him. Hem-y Tyler, was the son
of John Tyler, and John was a half-brother
to James and Lewis Johnson. John Tyler
and Lewis Johnson came from Sumner
County, Tenn., in 1819. Henry married
Catharine, daughter of Isaac Casey, lived
awhile at the Brown place on the Salem road,
and awhile where the eastern part of Mount
Vernon is. He built a cabin east of where
Thomas Hobbs lives; discovered the springs,
but despised them because the water tasted
"brackish," concluded his land would never
be worth anything, and sold his pre-emption
on the eighty acres to Thomas Tunstall for
$92. He lived many years on the Centralia
road, and died there in 1877. John C. and
Isaac, of this county, are his sons ; Mrs. Pat
Ingram, of Richview, his daughter. He
never had the headache in his life, but died
of something like apojalexy. Oliver Morris,
was son-in-law to Joseph Jordan. He was a



man of some means, living in Moore's Prairie,
where he built a brick house in 1823. He
and Lewis Watkins were appointed Justices
of the Peace before the county was organized;
and Morris " swore in " the first officers.
He went to Texas about 1831; there his only
child married Crockett Glenn, a nephew to
Davy Crockett. They all came back about
seven years later, fearfully reduced in fort-
une Morris located on the high point east
of the Benton road, about five miles south of
Mount Vernon, where he died in August,
1839. John Wilkerson was brother to Henry
as before stated. He first married Dicey

Keelin, in Virginia, then a Mrrs. Thomas,
sister to Rhodam Allen and William Max
ey's wife. Allen, father of H. H. W. Wilk-
erson, was a son of the first wife. Mrs.
Thomas by her first husband had five chil-
aren— Mrs. Thad Moss's grandfather, "Aunt
Polly" Parker, and Edward Wilkerson's
wife were of these. John's last set of chil-
dren were Mastin, John, Ransom, Betsey
Webber, Sallie Daniel, Jane Hill, Emily Hill

I and Patsy Lynch. So his descendants are
all over the country. Zadok Casey, who oc-
cupied such a place in our history, is exten-

' sivelv noticed elsewhere in this volume.







"All that I prized have passed away like clouds
Whicli float a moment on the twilight sky
And fade in night."— <S^ra'«.

"TTTE now go back to the fall of 1819.
VV The only buildings in the town at
this time are the court house, Burchett
Maxey's, Lewis Watkins' and Clark Casey's.
The place was overgrown with rank weeds
and grass; and not a road led into it or
out, except trails and foot-paths. William
Casey's house, where the Commercial Hotel
stands, was quite oat of town. He now
built out on the hill west of town, and
Lewis Watkins left his half-finished shanty
on the corner and moved into Casey's house.
W. L. Howell came to town in 1820, and

* By Dr. A. Clark Johnson.

located in Watkins' house till he could put
up some kind of a house on Lot 41, east of
the court house. This man, William Lasater
Howell, was the son of a wealthy farmer in
Tennessee. The old gentleman lived in a
large brick house on the turnpike, not many
miles from Gallatin. We think no relatives
of his came to this county except Mrs. Alex-
ander, and she was not much honor to him.
She said herself she had had eleven husbands,
had no childi-en to bind her to any of them,
and was going to have another man or more
if she saw any she liked. Howell taught a
school at Union in 1822. He was Sheriff
after Watkins. He was a nice man, but a bad
manager; and was kept in oflice till he could
not five security or file the necessary bond.



He lived awhile in Jordan's Prairie, at the
Whitesides place. While living here, his lit-
tle boy of four years (Erasmus) was lost.
Mrs. Howell started to the branch for water,
and the little fellow undertook to follow.
There were only paths — one to the branch,
some to the neighbors, some cow-paths, etc. —
and Erasmus took the wrong path. On her
return, the mother missed him. She soon
raised the alarm, but it was so near night
that little could be done. Howell was at
town with his horse and wagon; and he was
so excited, on hearing the news, that he
drove the horse home at full speed, and did
not notice a large tree that had fallen across
the road — horse and wagon jumping it
together. For two nights and a day, the
search was kept up. Green Casey then lived
at the Maj. Frank Casey place; he went out
to feed in the dusk of evening, and heard a
child crying and calling in the woods, but
fearing it might be a panther, he would not
go. near. Next morning, taking his gun, he
went out, and there on the ground sat the

Online LibraryWilliam Henry PerrinHistory of Jefferson County, Illinois → online text (page 36 of 76)