William Henry Perrin.

History of Jefferson County, Illinois online

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Jacob Ford settled in a little cabin now
better known as the Tommy Short place, north
of the Coley Smith place, on Seven Mile,
and here he was soon joined by Joab Peter-
son, a Swede; they had married sisters —
cousins to old Mrs. Malone, by the way —
and lived together for three or four years.
The Garrisons, cousins to Isaac, etc., lived
on the Herdman place. We may add that
Aaron Yearwood ran the still-house on the
creek for a year or more, Allen and John
Wilkerson beiug the original owners. Aaron
had no scniples about it till Abram Casey (A.
T.) came in and mildly said, " Don't you
think you are doing wrong?" Aaron re-
flected; conscience was not satisfied, he re-
solved to quit it, and did. Jack Sursa
afterward operated there. James Sursa
built a mill, which was extensively useful in
its day; he was also County Commissioner
for several terms. He died December 27,
1852, and Jack had been dead ten years the
past August.

The Roads. — We have referred to th e
Goshen read and the trails and bridle paths
that traversed the country. No road what-
ever touched Mount Vernon for a year or
two after it was laid out. Even the new

♦By Dr. A. Clark Johnson.



road or trail from Crenshaw's crossed the
prairie nearly half a mile south of town, and
went to Isaac Casey's house (m the hill,
where Beal lives. The history of our roads
is given elsewhere, but we may here say
that on the third day of the first term of the
County Court, the subject of roads came be -
fore the Commissioners. Orders were made
at that time, and in September and October,
1819, but without result; at length in Feb-
ruary, 1820, a Board of Viewers, with Joseph
Pace as Surveyor, located the road running
diagonally across the county, near where it
has ever since been, now running from Mc-
Leansboro to Centralia. In the spring of
1822, the Vandalia road was opened to the
north line of Marion County, which was then
an attached part of Jefferson, Elihu Masey
opening the first section, and William Max-
well the next. But the road was not used
much, and was not fairly open until the fall
of 1823, when Thomas Minor and Maxwell
were ordered to cut it out twelve feet wide
and keep it in repair. The next road was
the Covington road, opened, after two or
three fruitless orders, in the spring of 1824,
not far from where the Richview road now
runs. In 1826, by the influence of John
Summers, the Fairfield road was opened.
Summers being one of the Viewers and the
first Supervisor. It ran nearly where it does
now, except that it started out nearly due



HISTORY OF JEFFERSOX COUNTY.



301



east from the court house. In 1828, the Cov-
ington road was vacated, and the George-
town road was opened, now much better
known as the Ashley or Nashville road.

The early religious settlers of the county,
a majority of them, at least, were Methodists,
several of them ministers. The next strong-
est denomination was the Baptist. Zadok
Casey, Edward Maxey and Lewis Johnson
were Methodist preachers; James E. Davis,
a Cumberland Presbyterian, and Archibald
Harris, a Baptist, but all . these, all the
preachers in the county, lived in a mile of
where Thomas Moss lives. Th(j first relig-
ious society in Mount Vernon Township was
the Baptist. It was organized in the old
log court house in 1820. Chester Carpen-
ter was holding a meeting at this time. The
official members were Jacob Norton, Joseph
Jordan, Oliver Morris and Overton Harlow.
Not long after, a little log church was
raised between where Isaac Garrison lives
and the creek, this location being considered
nearer the center of the population than the
court house. Joseph Reid at the time lived
in a small cabin near where Joseph Jordan
and Frizell subsequently lived. This place
of worship was not used as such more than
a year or two, when the frequent floods in
winter and spring proved that the site was
not well chosen. The meeting was then, per-
haps in 1823 or 1824, moved to William
Hicks', two miles west of town, and continued
there for five or six years. But in the spring
of 1829, a very nice and spacious house, for
that day, was built near the creek, the site
now being inside the Fair Ground. Thomas
Pace and others in town, who kept horses,
had opened a road to the creek for the pur-
pose of watering their horses. This road
left the Shawneetown road not far from the
Wyatt Parrish house, ran southeast near
where Newby afterward Iniilt a horse-mill,



then nearly a due east course to the creek at
a pretty deep hole called the horse hole.
The road diverging from this one a quarter
of a mile or less from the creek, and crossing
at a ford below was of more recent date. On
a rise north of the road near that horse hole
this church was built, In the fall of the
same year, an association met at this house,
puncheon seats were provided and public
services were held in the woods. Carpenter
was pastor of the society first organized, and
continued in the same situation, wherever
the meetings were held, for ten or fifteen
years. But perhaps we may as well finish
this last house before we leave it. It was
used regularly as a meeting place till 1835
-36, and the puncheons being preserved,
services were held in the grove when the
weather allowed. A season of foot-washing
was occasionally appointed here and con
scieutiously observed. After societies were
organized iu other places and this house no
longer mot the demands of the church,
it was sold; Capt. Newby bought it and
converted it into a shop. He already had a
small shop west of the road and nearly op-
posite his dwelling, and he put the second
shop east of the road north of his dwelling,
put up two forges in it and used it for years.
It was in this house that George Starner
worked for Newby, and here Jefferson
Stephenson, afterward County Judge of
Washington County, hammered iron for a long
time after he came to Mount Vernon. Many
of oiu" readers will remember the church,
and still more the shop.

The second Baptist Church in the county
was erected near what was called the soap
ford on the creek, less than half a mile
north of the Fairfield road. It was reached
from town by a trail that went by where
Hobbs & Sons' mill now stands, by where
Charley Patton lives, and so on to the creek.



30a



HISTORY OF JEFFERSON COUNTY.



a trail frequently used by Caj)t. Sursa and
others in the upper part of that settlement,
coming to town. This church consisted of
four large shanties standing about ten feet
apart, forming an oblong square, with two
halls crossing at right angles. The hall
running north and south was closed at both
ends. Of coui-se it was the design to hold
camp-meetings^here,and several were actually
held, one room or shanty being used for
worship and the others used as camps. Meet-
ings were hold here regularly for years.
This curious structure was built about 1833,
and stood and was used for six years or more.
Traces of it may still be seen there.

We left the various buildings and im-
provements in Mount Vernon about 1830,
closing up the history of the first houses. In
the meantime, other houses were coming on.
Greorge Pace married, lived awhile in the
north room of the Kirby House, then built a
chimney to Tuustall's old store room, on
the lot where Herdman lives, and lived there a
year; built a house on Bennett Maxey's lot,
No. 1 , now Crebs', and finally bought Lot
No. 37, where the Prince House stands, built
and moved there. The house he built on
Lot No. 1 was occupied by many after he left
it, but perhaps as much by a negro called
Old Nick, as anybody else. Nick died there,
and it was not used as a dwelling house
afterward. Yet some have said that this
house was the old Clerk's office, moved up
there by Dr. Adams, and the same that Mrs.
Crosnoe got torn down in 1 841. George Pace
sold his lot, now the Prince House, to John
Van Cleve and went to Salem, as before no-
ticed, in 1836. In the spring of 1829, Buck
Pace, or W. W. Pace, by consent of John
Tyler, who was agent for Nelson Ferguson
and brother-in-law to both men, built a
cabin on Lot No. 28, where the National
Bank stands. Here Buck kept grocery. He



or some one else subsequently built another
cabin just east of this. Both were quite
small, built of small logs and " skelped
down." After Pace left, S. G. Hicks lived
for a time in the corner house. By this time,
however, Edward H. Eidgway had built a
huge, hip-roofed house, in 1832, wtst of the
square, where Hudspeth & Taylor keep. It
was furnished with a store room, and here
Hicks sold goods in 1834, 1835 and 1836,
when he built a large frame north of the
square, where Varnell's meat shop stands. Lot
No. 25. Some years later. Hicks built a
house near where the Methodist Episcopal
Church stands. Benjamin Miller bought it
in 1854 and moved it to his lot; Coffee en-
larged it, and Maj. Summers now lives in it.
(You see, we took up Hicks and ran clear
away with him.) After he left the cabin on
the Ferguson lot, Isaac [Casey lived there,
and in 1837, when Stiuson Anderson came
back from Alton, where he had been Warden
of the penitentiary, he lived there long
enough to build a cabin a little west of where
Dr. Green lives. And there Anderson re-
mained, out east of town, till he traded the
farm to Edward Ridgeway for land in Elk
Prairie. It was not long after Anderson
left the Ferguson lot before John Kahm mar-
ried Ellen Kirljy, about 1837, and came to
town about 1840, setting up business at the
old house on the corner, which Kirby had
already used for a grocery, but making great
additions to it. After Rahm, John Bost-
wick went in with a grocery, and kept what
some called a very disorderly house. As
John is alive and we do not know how stout
he is, we will not say much about it, bat
folks said that three or four old ladies went
to his grocery one night, about 1849, took
out his chattels to the middle of the street
and tore the old house into a thousand
pieces. It was never ascertained what ladies,



HISTORY OF JEFFERSON COUNTY.



303



if any, did it, but John left iu disgust, went
to Eome and hail the first bouse built that
Rome ever contained, Asa Watson being
the boss carpenter.

In 1830, Dr. Adams built a house on Lot No.
26, where Goodale keeps. William Baldridge
had bid off this lot at the first sale for $70, but
lots declined. He sold it to H. T. Pace in
1825 for $20; he to Burchett Maxey in 1827,
for $25; and he to Oliver Morris for $35.
Dr. Adams built a house on it, but Downing
Baugh soon after bought it, and Adams pre
pared to move to an improvement ho had
traded for west of town. But Thomas Minor
had a claim against him, and put Stejihen
Hicks, who was Constable, after him with
an attachment. Adams showed signs of re-
sistance, and Hicks struck him on the throat
with a rock, a blow that came near proving
fatal. Adams now went to the cabin where
Wlecke's hotel stands, then went — perhaps
took the house with hiLU - to the place where
Old Nick died. Noah Johnston and William
Bullock put up a two-story house, now owned
by Russell Dewey and occupied by Hughes.
Adams bought this frame and lived in it till
he left town in 1835-3(5. Baugh built a
store north of the square, about where Shep-
herd's drug store is, in 1832, and he built a
two-story fi'ame house a little east of it; but
he sold these, rented Van Clove's house, and a
Dr. Allen came into the old house, built a
porch to it, inclosed the porch, piitting in a
glass front,, and the house then went by the
name of the glass house. As we have men-
tioned Noah Johnston aud William Bullock,
we may add that they came to Bullock's
Prairie in 1831, and that Johnston came to
town in 1833, sold goods some time where
the Crews building stands, some time in 1834
-35, at the next corner west, Lot No. 21,
lived awhile at the Ridgway building, where
Hudspeth & Taylor's store also stands, and



finally bought and located where he now
lives. William Bullock first lived in a cabin
that he built near this end of the Spiese
farm, some sign of his shop being still dis-
coverable iu the road there. He then came
to town and had his blacksmith shop almost
in the middle of the block south of the
square, ou the " big road." The south part
of town was all open, and the road came di-
rectly toward the com-t house. His dwelling
house was located where Bob Wilbanks lives,
but he died at Noah Johnston's.

Somewhere back in the olden time, Green
Daniel built a cabin on John Johnson's (the
writer's father). Lot No. 18, corner of Jordan
and Washington streets, aud lived there for
several years. Samuel Goodrich afterward
lived there for some time. It was still later,
perhaps, that Mr. Goodrich built a small
house south of where Westbrook's mill was
bm-ned, near the northwest corner of Curtis
Johnson's lots, and not far from the same
time that Allen Stanton, a shoe-maker, built
near the southwest corner of the same lots.
These houses were all pretty good forty to
forty- five years ago. As old as Green Dan-
iel's cabin, was a shop that John Williams
built northeast of the court house. John
built this house about 1830-31, used it for
a time, made a visit to Tennessee and never
came back. He was brother to Mastin Wil-
kerson's wife. So the shop stood there until
Bowman built a frame house in front of it,
and sold the lot, or let Rhodam Allen sell it
to John Johnson. The writer's father bought
it in 1834, finished the house, used the old
shop awhile for a kitchen, built or had Wm.
Yearwood to build a new kitchen, that still
stands there, and we believe moved the shop
on to some of his lot9. About the time that
we came, perhaps in the spring of 1834,
James Ross, a hatter, moved in, lived a year
in the old house north of Herdman's, then



304



HISTORY OF JEFFERSON COUNTY.



got Lot No. 44, the south lot under Strattan
& Johnson's block, built the log house that
Mr. Schanck took away twelve years ago,
and after awhile succeeded in trading for
Daniel Anderson's grocery that stood on the
corner, where he erected a large frame
building for a shop. In this period also
comes the grocery built by A. D Estes at
the Crews corner. Joseph Estes, Absalom's
father, had long owned the next lot west,
and when Absalom married he built a small
house there, where Morgan & Reid's shop
stands, and painted it red, and it was univers-
ally known as the red house. Absalom also set
up the gi-ocery at the comer. Edward Wells
kept a grocery there for a time. This house
on the corner remained in statu quo till Rob-
ert Castles got it in 1840, built a room west,
a dwelling in the rear, etc. And thus it
stood till Crews got it. It was also in 1834
-35 that W. B. Thorn bought the lot second
from the corner south of Hobbs' mill. He
got it from the writer's father for $100. He
then erected a large blacksmith shop in
frout. one that he had brought from beyond
Jordan's Prairie, and a very neat hewed-log
house back for a dwelling. In 1837, John
Johnson built a hewed-log house where Tay-
lor's Hotel stands, and Thomas B. Johnson
and Dr. Greetham used it for a year or two
for an office and drug store; then Thomas
went to Kentucky and Mr. Thorn put up a
harness and saddle shop in the house.
Thorn had converted the former blacksmith
shop into a dwelling. In 1841, he sold it to
William Edwards and moved to the house
that still stands just west of Merrill's livery
stable. AVe remember but two other houses
of this period, the Poteet house and the La-
mar house. Alfred Poteet, in 1835-36, built
where E. M. Walker lives and lived there
while he remained in Mount Veruon, but the
house afterward fell into the hands of Josiah



Melcher, and he moved it up and made a stable
of it on the west end of what is now known
as the Thorn lot, and it still stands there
The Widow Lamar had two sons, Shelby and
James. The boys built a cabin on John
Johnson's lot south of the jail; it was occu-
pied by them, Mrs. Foley; Blackhawk Will-
iams, Sullins, Decoursey and many others,
and only twelve or fifteen years ago passed
away.

A little later and on up to 1840, houses
began to be numerous. Dr. Greetham built the
house where Urry lives and went into it from
where Mrs. Thorn lives, in 1S3'J. AV. A.
Thomas built just north of Greetham's, now
Hitchcock's, in 1840. The same year, or the
next, the Rev. A. E. Phelps built the house
Conger lived in till lately, on the south end
of Casey street, and Henry Pierce the house
across the street east of Urry's, and Ridg-
way put up the four houses where J. R. Pal-
mer, Peter Brown, etc., live, long known as
the Ridgway Row. Jarvis Pierce erected
the tavern that stood opposite the present site
of the Methodist Episcopal Church, sold to
Eli Anderson and he built a two-story house
north of Phelps'; Anderson improved his
tavern and Grant added rooms to the oast
end of it at a later date by moving a school -
house in from the woods near Noah John-
ston's. Little, a tailor, put up Joel Watson's
house in 1830; Daniel Baltzell the house
just across Union street west of Joel's; and
Rufus Melcher the house recently torn down
by Mrs. Baltzell. The old Methodist
Church went up from 1836 to 1840, to which
the parsonage north of it was added under
the regime of J. H. Dickens ; the third court
house was built, etc. D. Baugh built the
house that stood where Heiserman's new brick
is going up, Thomas Cunningham the house
that stood where Charley Pool lives. M.
Tromlev the old house north of Latham's,



HISTORY OF JEFFERSON COUNTY.



305



Isaac Faulkenberry the old house that
stood on the east end of Latham's lots, and
John Livingston the one that stood where
George Ward lives. The Cesar and Guyler
cabins went up near where is now the Baptist
Church. W. Prigmore- built the house now
better known as the Klinker House, north of
the Prince house, and Johnny Smith the old
house that stood on the corner of Walsh's
lots. Thomas Pace put a house on the lot
west of the old Odd Fellows Hall, now Mrs.
Pace's, McAtee got it et al., and it formed
part of the old Bogan houses near the Su-
preme Court House. Hiram McLaughlin
put one on the east side of Casey street, ojj
posite George Haynes', Gray got it, Nelson
got it, and it now forms part of the residence
of Jeremiah Taylor. From all this it ap-
pears that this was an era of unusual pros-
perity in Mount Vernon, and this will be in
part explained by taking another look at
what has been going on outside of the town.
AVe have already stated that not an acre
of land was entered in the township for
seven years after the county was organized
and the town laid out. This was caused by
the pressure referred t(j elsewhere, growing
out of there-action that followed the inflation
at the outset. The tirst entry was then
made by Isaac Casey, 1826, in Section IS,
now part of Lewis Johnson's farm. A. T.
Casey in Section 7, was the next man, 1S29;
Azariah Bruce, 1830, entered in the same
section, and Thomas D. Minor, the same
year, in Section 19. Still it went slow; land
was plenty and a man settled wherever he
pleased, stayed as long as he pleased,
and ejectment was unheard of. In 1831,
Bennett N. Maxey entered in Section 7; in
1833, James Susca and William B. Watson
in 21; Isaac Hicks in 31, and E, D. Ander-
son in 32. and Dr. Adams in 29, in 1835.
Then everything went with a rush. In 1836,



Overton Harlow entered in Section 2, Elihu
Maxey in Section 6, T. M. Casey, M. Bruce
and C. H. Maxey in 7; Benjamin Webber in
14; Brewneaty Wilkey and Lewis Johnson,
Jr., in IS; John Livingston, David Hobbs
and Z. Casey in 19; Z. Casey in 20; Cole-
man Smith in 22; John Summers in 23;
Calton Summers and John, in 27; W. B.
Watson in 28; H. T. Pace, D. Baugh and S.
H. Anderson in 29; William Bullock and
Isaac Casey in 30; Thomas E. Pace in 31;
and J. Johnson in 33, etc. In 1837, Har-
low entered more land in Section 2; Elihu
Maxey and W. F. Johnson entered in 5;
John Dodds in 10; Henry D. Allen in 11;
James M. Bridges in 13; Matilda Massey
:ind William Byers in 18; Thomas Cun-
ningham and Priscilla Meek in 19; Vir-
ginia Summers in 22; T. Cunningham
in 27; W. B. Watson, John Summers and
S. H. Anderson in 28; Asa B. Watson, E. H.
Ridgway, Thomas E. Pace, John Johnson
and Cephas A. Park in 29; T. Cunning-
ham in 31; and H. B. Newby and E. H.
Eidgway in 33. In 1838, James Newby
entered in li; A. M. Grant in 15; William
Bvers in IS; Joel Pace in 20, and D. Baugh
in 28. But 1839 was as fast as 1838 had
been slow. Simeon Walker entered in Sec-
tion 1; Hiram Duncan in 2; O. Harlow in
10; H. Duncan and Mary Ann Summers in
11; M. A. Summers in 1 2 ; D. Summers and
jMeredith Strickling in 13; D. Summers and
J. Newby in 14; John Hart, Martha Grant,
Freeman Burnet and David Stewart in 15;
Abraham Buffington in 18; .l)-mstead W.
Bruce, James Sursa, Daniel Barfield, Aaron
Yearwood and Robert B. Rankin in 21;
Moses Kirby in 22; John W. Summers in
23; Benton Y. Little in 26; William Mar-
low and George W. Summers in 27, etc.

The above is for reference, and not to be
committed to memory. It shows, too, that



806



HISTORY OF JEFFERSON COUNTY.



up to 1840 no land was entered in Sections
3, 4, 8, 9, 16, 17. 24, 25, 34, 35 or 36.
Many of these were already settled upon
their entries, and some had been occupying
them for many years.

We have now reached a period when in-
dividual arrivals and buildings did not
amount to so much. But before bidding
adieu to the past, we present a brief resume,
in different form, of the last ten yeai's' busi-
ness. Joel Pace, merchant, licensed March,
1831, remained till 1837, when he sold out
to Handle & Grant; then I believe Grant
bought Kandle out in 1838; D. Baugh,
licensed March, 1831, still in business, 1840;
Henry Isbell, of Belleville, or his sons, 1831,
kept a few months at the corner west of Nie-
man's ; E. H. Eidgway, 1 icensed 1831 and again
1833, was in partnership with Eli Anderson in
1837, opposite the present site of the Con-
tinental. In 1832, W. W. Pace and Harvey
T. were licensed as merchants; in 1833, H.
B. Newby came in when Isbell went out, and
in 1837 he had merchant's license. In 1834,
Noah Johnston was licensed; next year it was
Thompson & Johnston; in 1836, Thompson
and Johnston were again separate, after
which both disappeared from the record as
merchants. Johnston first kept at the Crews
corner, then Thompson & Johnston at the
Hudspeth & Taylor corner. Dr. Adams held
forth on the west side, renewing his license
in 1836. Sanderson & Estes, 1834, kept at
the National Bank corner; then Estes alone
at the Crews corner. In 1835, John M. Pace
comes in, but soon goes back to his farm; W.
W. Pace comes in for a year, and switches
off; B. Wells and A. D. Estes take out a
merchant's license each, mostly selling — not
dry goods, but to dry customers. In 1836, the
licensed men of the town were Hickman &
Witherspoon, L. C. Moss, A. B. Watson and
James Kirby. In 1837, Bowman takes li-



cense; so does Mr. England, Cunningham
& Shields followed Adams; S. G. Hicks
followed Thompson; Barker followed Hick-
man, and Davis & Dodds went in on the
west side. In 1838, W. S. Van Cleve fol-
lowed Davis & Doddk, and William Dishon
opened up at the Crews corner. In 1839,
Van Cleve was succeeded by Addison, Daniel
& Co. And we may as well add here that for
the last ten or fifteen years, we mean prior
to 1840, peltry was the chief staple of the
country. Sometimes it seemed to be the only
thing anybody had to sell or to buy goods
with. Merchants sent deer hides to St.
Louis by the hundred, some shaved, some
with hair on. The shaving was done fast
and cheap. A man hung a hide up by the
neck, took a knife and scraped upward, and
literally "made the fur fly;" and scraping a
deer's hide was considered to be worth from
3 to 5 cents.

In 1840, the principal event was the
building of the new court house. The old
one never was really finished till now. It
had long been considered unsafe, but the
county court would not undertake a new
one. But one bright, still morning in 1839,
after " a calm, still night," it was found that
the house had partly fallen down. There
was a hole in one side big enough for a
wagon to drive through. Nobody seemed to
know how it had happened, but there was no
doubt now; it had to come down. So every-
body in town got out with ropes, which they
ran in at one window and out at another;
evei'ybody pulled and halloed, and soon it
was only a pile of rubbish. The town was
full of dust and noise and fun. The coun-



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