William Henry Perrin.

History of Jefferson County, Illinois online

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itated thein, and found the taste of the coffee
nauseous beyond anything I had ever tasted
in tuy life. I continued to drink, as the rest
of the company did, with tears streaming
from my eyes; but when it was to end, I was
at a loss to know, as the little (uips were
filled immediately after being emptied. This
circumstance distressed me very much, and I
durst not say I had enough. Looking atten-
tively at the grand persons I saw one person
turn his cup bottom upward and put his lit
tie spoon across it. I (.)bserved after this his
cup was not filled again. I followed his ex-
ample, and to my great satisfaction the re-
sult, as to my cup, was the same." This is
the experience of a rough, backwoods boy,
who bad been raised in Southern Illinois
when the country was but a wilderness.
There are, however, many old peojiJe to be
found who can give episodes in their own
lives of equally as rude a character.

Elk Prairie Township lies in the south tier
of townships in Jefferson County, and con-
tains considerable fine fariuinjj lands, thouerh
it is rather rough and broken aloncf the
streams. The township is bounded on the
north by McClellan To\vnship, on the east
by Spring Garden, on the south by Franklin
County, on the west by Bald Hill Township,
and by Government Survey is Township No.
4, south of the base line, and is in Range 2
east of the Third Principal Meridian. Big
M uddy Creek Hows south nearly through the
middle of the township, receiving numerous
small streams in its course. Casey's Fork
touches the east portion. Mowing in a south-
erly direction between this township and
Spring Garden. Along these streams was



originally heavy timber, and there is still
considerable of it left, principally oak, hick-
ory and walnut. The land is rather hilly
and rough along the streams, but back from
them some distance it becomes of a more even
surface, and has some small prairies. Elk
Prairie, from which the township derives its
name, is an excellent body of land, though of
rather small extent. It takes its name from
the number of bones and horns of elk found
here by the early settlers. Some very excel-
lent farms may be seen in this township.

Of the early experiences of Elk Prairie,
there is little to be said. There was nothing
out of the usual, every- day pioneer life to in-
dividualize the community. It settled up
much as other portions of the county did,
and as other settlements were made. As to
the name of the first settler in this division
of the county, where he came from and the
spot whereon he settled, we can say little,
for we failed to learn anything definitely.
Among the early settlers we can mention the
Stephensons, William King, the Whitmans,
Ezra Lanier, James and Martin Teeters,
John D. M. Cockram. Willis Holder, the
Picketts and some ef the Wilbankses, and
others whose names are not now remembered.
The Stephensons — John, Edward and Isham
— came from Tennessee, and settled here in
an early day. William King first settled in
Gun Prairie, but afterward came here. He
was not very strict in his moral characteris-
tics, and followed Solomon's lead in a plu-
rality of wives. He finally sold out to Uriah
Compton.took his brother-in-law's wife, leav-
ing two or three of his own behind, and left
the country. Cockram first settled here, but
afterward moved into Spring Garden and set-
tled near the village of that name. Teeters
first settled in Moore's Prairie. Martin
Teeters was James' father, and they came
form Alabama originally. The old man did



378



HISTORY OF JEFFERSON COUNTY.



not come here until some fifteen years after
James Teeters had settled here. But we can
not follow the settlement of the township
further. So much has already been sai i in
preceding chapters of this work, of the com-
ing, the settlement and life of the pioneers,
that anything further can be little else than
repetition.

The experiences of the people here were
similar to other pioneer settlements, as we
have said. They lived in log cabins, wore
home-made clothing, subsisted upon game
and the products of the soil, and indulged
in the recreations common to the rest of the
county. With all the growth and activity,
which assumes larger proportions in the re-
cital than in actual experience, the commun-
ity which gathered in what is now Elk Prai-
rie Township, was essentially on the frontier
at that time, and the people experienced all
the hardships and discomforts incident to
frontier settlements. For the first few years,
supplies were brought from a distance; mills
were built rather early, but owing to a lack
of power or adequate machinery, most of the
meal and flour were obtained only by going
long distances and enduring tedious delays.
The general settlement was of slow growth,
but siu'e; here and there the smoke curled
upward in the air from the scattered log cab-
ins, as the busy pioneer protracted the clear-
ing-up of his farm long into the night.

Deer were shot in large numbers, while
wolves and panthers, "Congress hogs," a few
bears and the whole class of small game found
in this section, and afforded wholesome meals
or rare hunting sport. The distance from
any market was long felt among the farming
community, and did much to retard growth
and prosperity. But these inconveniences
were lived over.and as civilization increased,
comforts and luxuries increased also.

Elk Prairie Township suffered from the



same inconveniences i-n the lack of roads and
mill facilities. The first settlers used the
mortar and pestle to pound their corn, the
finest of which was used for meal and the
coarser for hominy. A few years later, horse
mills were buiU. These were a great im-
provement on the mortar and hand mills, but
we of to-day would think it a poor way to
obtain bread. Some of the pioneers, doubt-
less, still remember the bustle and prejiara-
tioD for "going to mill." The shelling of
the corn the day before, the rising long be-
fore day in order to make the trip in one day
if possible, the careful wi-apping up in cold
weather, rhe cautions about the creek or
branch crossings, and the anxiety felt at home
if " the boys " were gone much longer than
was expected. But as settlements became
more niimerous, mills were built at shorter
intervals, and the inconveniences in this re-
spect passed away. The first roads were
only trails through the township from one
neighbor's to another's, or to the horse mill.
But these also Were improved and increased
with the demand for them, and the settle-
ments were soon well supplied with good
roads. Bridges of substantial build now
span the streams where all the important
highways cross them, thus rendering travel
comparatively safe and pleasant.

The early educational history of Elk Prai-
rie Township is involved in considerable ob-
scurity, and it is not definitely known now
when or by whom the first school was taught,
nor where the first pioneer schoolhouse was
erected. At the present day the township de-
votes as much attention to e lucational inter-
ests as any portion of Jefferson County.
There are eight good, comfortable school-
houses, all well and commodiously furnished
in the most approved style. These school-
houses are located respectively on Sections 6,
10, 11, 13, 15, 20, 27 and 32, and in them



HISTORY OF JEFFERSON" COUNTY.



379



good schools are annueilly taught for the us-
ual terms by competent teachers.

Christianity in the township dates back to
its first settlement by white people. Many
of the pioneers had been active members of
different churches in the States from whence
they came, and this soon led to the organi-
zation of religious societies here. Meetings
were held in private houses, and in the sum-
mer time in the groves until the building of
schoolhouses, when they were utilized for
religious worship as well as for school pur-
poses. Thus churches were organized by
these sitnple pioneers in an early day. There
are now two church buildings in the town-
ship. A Methodist Church near Mr. Dare's,
which is a neat and substantial frame edifice.
East of it is a Campbellite or Chi'istian
Chm-ch. The building was originally put up
for a schoolhouse, but a few years ago the
township built a new schoolhouse in the
district, and sold the old one to the Chris-
tians. They repaired it, and have made quite
as neat and tasty church building of it. It
has a good membership for a country
church.

This township was originally Elk Prairie
Election Precinct. In 1869, the county
adopted township organization, when this
became what it is now — Elk Prairie Town-
ship. Since then, the following is a com-
plete list of township officials:

Supervisors. -G. W. Evans, 1870-72; J.
Pv. Knowles, 1873-74; G. W. Evans, 1875;
J. H. Crosno, 1870; G. W. Evans, 1877; J.
R. Knowles, 1878-80, L. ftl. Cole, 1881-82;
S. H. Dolby, 1883, the present incum-
bent.

Township Clerks— J. G. Gee, 1872-74;
William P. Hamilton, 1875; B. S. Bowen-
master, 1876-77; J. H. Wheeler, 1878; L.
B. Kelso, 1879; T. R. Fox, 1880; J. B. Bos-
well, 1881-83, now holding the position.



Assessors — Lewis M. Cole, 1872; G. G.
Dolby, 1873; L. M. Cole, 1874-75; H. H.
Hartiy, 1876; William Dodds, 1877-78; L.
M. Cole, 1879; William Dodds, 1880; H. H.
Hartiy, 1881; J. D. Dodd.s, 1882; S. Kirk,
1883, now in office.

Collectcfts— J. R. Knowles, 1870-72; A.
J. Sweaton. 1878; C. C. Brown, 1874; Will-
iam Graham, 1875; J. R. Knowles, 1876-77;
G. G. Dolby, 1878-79; J. Stansberry, 1880;
J. D. Dodds, 1881; S. P. Sheaton, 1882; J.
B. Dougherty, 1883, the present incumbent.

School Treasurers— Eli Gilbert, 1874; S.
A. Block, 1875-77; Isaas Ward, 1878; J.
W. Wells, 1879; S. A. Block, 1880-81; H.
Wells, 1882; J. Loman, 1883, now in office.

Justices of the Peace — A. J. Sweaton, Eli
Gilbert, VV. Hampton, A. J. Sweaton, Eli
Gilbert, H. R. Dare, A. J. Kelly, L. T. Coff-
man, H. R. Dare.

Constables— W. T. Dare, L. T. Coffman,
S. P. Shelton, J. Sulcer, J. H. Hestley, D.
G. Peterson.

Highway Commissioners — J. J. Fitzger-
rell, John Dodds, J. Wilbanks, J. G. Gee,
John Doyle, J. Wilbanks, J. G. Gee, S. P.
Shelton, S. H. Dolby, S. Hirous, J. Rowe,
W. T. Peterson.

The village of Winfieldwas laid out by A.
M. Grant for J. J. Fitzgerrell, the owner of
the land. It is situated in Horse Prairie, in
the northwest quarter of the northwest quar-
ter of Section 32 of Elk Prairie Township,
and the plat is dated March 26, 1860. The
original survey (which is all there is of the
town) consisted of four blocks of fom- lots
each. The first store in the village was
opened by Isaac Boswell. Some years later
the Wards opened a store. A Mr. Graham
also opened a store. A mill was built by
Isaac Clampet. It afterward passed into the
possession of John Knowles, who operated it
several years, and finally it became the prop-



380



HISTORY OF JEFFERSON COUNTY.



erty of the Wards. They greatly improved
it, and xnade it an excellent mill, Dr. Gee
came to the place in 1867, and afterward
married Mr. Fitzgerrell'd daughter. Dr.
White was also a citizen for some years, and
then moved to his farm. A good school-
house with a hall above was built some years
ago. Also a church building has been erect-
ed. The town is not as large as Chicago —
perhaps it never will be — perhaps it has al-



ready attained its full growth. It is in the
midst of a good farming region, however,
and ought to be quite a prosperous place.

This comprises a brief history of Elk
Prairie Township, from its settlement by the
pale-faced pioneers to the present time. It
is one of the line agricultural townships of
the county, and its citizens are an intelli-
gent, industrious and prosperous class of
farmers. No more need be said of them.



CHAPTER XIV.*



FABRINGTON TOWNSHIP— GENERAL TOPOGRAPHY, BOUNDARIES, ETC.— SETTLEMENT OF WHITE

PEOPLE— EARLY INDUSTRIES— SCHOOLS AND CHURCHES— TOWNSHIP

OFFICERS— VILLAGES— STOCK-RAISING, ETC.



" He bent his way where twilight reigns sublime,
O'er forests silent since the birth of time."

IN the early history of Jefferson County,
people were not farmers, but htinters.
They would " squat " on a piece of land,
put up a rough cabin, and some of them
cleared a little " truck patch," which was
mostly cultivated by their wives and chil-
dren. Bttt in a few yeai's the reu! farmers
began to come in, and then hunters began to
get ready to pull up stakes and "move on" —
go West, where the crowding civilization and
settlements would not trouble them or disttu'b
the game they were wont to chase. Of the
hunter class were those whose necessity, in
the chase and in protecting their pigs and
chickens from the hungry wolves and other
wild beasts, required the services of the dog,
and hence always a goodly portion of many
families were made up of " mongrel, puppy,
whelp and hound, and cm- of low degree. "
But most unfortunately, with the disappear-
ance of the simple trappers and 'htinters, the
dogs "did not go," but remained in unlim-

• By W. H. Perrin.



ited numbers for many years after their use-
fulness had ceased, and even now they may
be seen plentifully in some places. They
are one of the relics of barbarism that linger
" alone, all alone." And just here we may
add — for it is a fact be_yond dispute — that
one of the greatest misfortunes to Southern
Illinois has been its large number of worth-
less, sheep-killing dogs. These perpetual
pests have cost every cotinty thousands of
dollars for every 5 cent piece they have saved
them. If there never had been a dog here
there would now be large flocks of sheep
raised where there is not one to be seen.
And yet the farmers will persist in keeping
a lot of mangy dogs, and for what purpose?
None aoder heaven, but because it is the

custom to have dogs to, to to prey on

their neighbors' sheep. Verily, I say unto
you, one sheep is of more value than ninety
and nine worthless dogs. Selah!

Farrington Township, to which this chap-
ter is devoted, comprises the northeast cor-
ner of the township. Marion Cotinty lies on
the north, Wayne County on the east, Web-



HISTORY OF JEFFEUSON COUNTY.



381



ber Township on the sonth and Field Town-
ship on the west. Farrington, according to
the Government survey, is Township 1 south
of the base line, and in Range 4 east, of the
Third Principal Meridian. It is divided be-
tween prairie and woodland, and is of very
good surface, unless it be along the little
streams, when it becomes somewhat hilly iu
places. The principal water-course is Adams
Fork, which flows in a soiathenst direction,
then leaving the township through Section 36.
Adam's Fork, with a few nameless branches,
comprises the natural drainage system of Far-
rington. The timber is that mentioned as
growing in other portions of the county.
The inhabitants are an industrious and intel-
ligent class of people, and are devoted most-
ly to farming and stock raising.

Following close in the wak" of the hunters
and trappers came the regular settlers. Their
privations, though settlements here were not
made as early as in other sections of the
county, were such as only brave hearts could
endure. Nothing but the hopeful inspiration
of manifest destiny urged them to persevere
in bringing under the dominion of civilized
man what was before them — a wild and tan-
gled wilderness. Just who was the first set-
tler in what is now Farrington Township we
cannot say, as settlements were made in many
adjoining neighborhoods before this, and it
is not easy to say just when the first man
stepped over into Farrington and pitched his
tent. But among the first settlers were the
Wellses, the Gregorys, Haynies, Abraham
Buffington, William B. Johnson, Joseph
Norman and others. Berryman and Barney
Wells were, perhaps, the first of these; at
least, they were here when the Gregorys
came. They were from Tennessee, and Ber-
ryman Wells settled on Section 14, Barney
on Section 8; they have long been dead, but
have descendants living in the county. Of



the Gregorys, there were Jonathan and Ben-
jamin, who came here about 1828-30, and
Absalom Gregory, a brother, came some two
years later. They were all Kentuckians, and
settled, Jonathan on Section 23, Benjamin
on Section 24 and Absalom on Section 26.
They are dead, but still have descendants
living, among whom is Dr. L. B. Gregory,
the Postmaster General of Logansville, and
the model farmer of the township, whose
barn is a pattern for all to follow after. The
Doctor is quite a stock-raiser, aiid the ex-
treme docility of his stock, particularly his
domestic animals, show the great care and
attention they receive from their owner.
We have been there, and witnessed that
whereof we speak. Dr. Gregory owns some
1,400 or 1,500 acres of as good land as may
be found in Farrington Township. He is
one of the self-made men of the country, and
deserves great credit for what he is. He
began life, as he informed us, without a
dime, and what he is he is indebted to no
one for but himself. His own energy and
indomitable will has wrought for him a fort-
une, which speaks well for the Doctor, and
we may add, for no one else. His mind is
well stored with incidents of the early his-
tory of the county, many of which he regaled
us with. He came here but a lad, and his
busy life has extended through all the hard
times, the trials and hardships to which the
early settlers were subjected. He delights
to tell of the time when he collected nearly
the entire revenue of the county in coon
skins and deer skins, which were a legal ten-
der. John Allen was then Sheriff; the sea-
son had been a hard one; people had but
small crops; but few had made enough to
live on, and as to money, that was an un-
known quantity. In this state of affairs.
Sheriff Allen employed Dr. Gregory to collect
the county taxes. Gregory says every farm-



382



HISTORY OF JEFFERSON COUNTY.



er in those days, who could raise 18 or
would buy a barrel of whisky to sell again
(license to sell whisky did not then cost as
much as now), and as there was no money
they would take coon skins for whisky.
Hence, nearly every man had a large num-
ber of coon skins on hand and these were
nearly all these whisky sellers who were able
to pay their taxes. So he collected the big-
gest part of the taxes in coon skins and deer
skins.

Francis, William and James Haynie came
about the same time the Gregorys came.
Francis Haynie settled on Section 26, James
on Section 24, and William on Section 23.
They, too, came from Tennessee, and are
dead. Francis was an old Revolutionary sol-
dier. Mr. Johnson says: "Mr. Haynie never
had any permanent home after the death of
his wife. He came to his relatives here;
staid sometimes for months; but it was said
that he came and went with the wild geese.
Many of our people remember him as he
passed among us many years ago, with the
same old hat, the same long hunting shirt
closely belted around him, and the same
walking stick, at least five feet long, grasped
a foot or so from the end. The old man's
last visit here was in 1838. He spent most
of the last years of his life at his son's,
north of here." William Haynie moved
West and died somewhere out there. Joseph
Norman came here from Tennessee, and set-
tled in the same neighborhood as the Hay-
nies. Abram Bufifington settled near Far-
rington. He was a noted hunter, and used
to kill a great deal of game. William B.
Johnson was also an early settler in this part
of the township. He has a son, Joha W.
Johnson, living just west of Farrington,
one of the prosperous farmers of the county,
and withal an enterprising citizen. William
Casey also lived in this township for some



years in the early times, and may be reckoned
among the pioneers.

Such were some of the leading men who
gathered here. It is difficult in most cases
to distinguish marks of individuality in the
I smaller settlements of a county, especially
where all are derived from the same general
section. But in the early community of Far-
rington, there was less of this diflSculty in
the way. A majority, in fact nearly all of
the early settlers here were from Tennessee
and Kentucky, and came here for the pur-
pose of making permanent homes. They
were men possessing little literaiy taste. The
rugged experience of frontier life and the
! isolation fi'om the closer restraints of older
civilization has a tendency to unduly elevate
the importance of brawn and muscle in the
general consideration, and brawling and ca-
rousing are tolerated to a much greater ex-
tent than where there are gentler influences
to counteract such tendencies. This rough
element jiredominated in many portions of
the county among the early settlers. It was
no worse in Farrington tlan elsewhere — per-
haps it was no better. The prevailing cus-
tom of the nation had educated the church
'of the early day to see no harm in the gen-
eral use of whisky, and it may not be said
that the members were fi'ee from intoxica-
tion. As year by year the inevitable result
of the practice was foreshadowed, they had
inot the moral courage to reject it. Brawl-
ing disputes were common, and the general
sentiment was not very favorable to intellect-
ual progress. But all this has changed now,
and Farrington Township is noted throughout
the county at the pre.sent day for its intelli-
gence, civilization and refinement. The usu-
al pioneer improvements of Farrington con-
sisted of the riide mills of the early settlers,
and the making of roads. The first road
through the township was the Mount Vernon



HISTORY OF JEFFERSON COUNTY.



383



& Maysville road, and the next the road lead-
ing from Mount Vernon to Xenia. The
township now is blest with as good roads
as any other portion of the county, and
good, substantial bridges span the streams
where the principal roads cross them.

As to the educational and religious facili-
ties, not as much can be said as in some other
localities. Church edifices are not plentiful,
and most of the schoolhouses are a little di-
lapidated, though there are some new ones
and some that are used for church as well as
school purposes.

Dr. Gregory says the first teacher he went
to school to was a Mr. Joseph Price, and he
thinks it was the firet school in the town-
ship. The Doctor's description of that
school and schoolhouse and his attendance at
it is quite humorous. The house, he says,
was a pole cabin about sixteen feet .square,
slab seats and without any floor except the
ground. The fire was built in the middle of
the room, and around this " council fire" the
pioneer boys and girls attained the wisdom
and inspiration to fit them for afterlife. Dr.
Gregory says he wore buckskin breeches and
buckskin hunting-shirt, and on his way to
school of a morning through the rain and
snow, his breeches, which were not very well
tanned, would get wet and stretch out until
they would be down under his feet. But, sit-
ting around that log-heap tire in that old
schoolhouse, they would get dry and draw up
until they wore nearly to his knees, thus dis-
playing his " shapely shins," which had stood
exposure to the elements until they were
about like young scaley-barked hickories.

The next school teacher after Price was
probably Absalom Gregory, an uncle of the
present Dr. Gregory, alluded to above. He
was followed by Elder R. T. Camp, a Bap-
tist preacher, who, notwithstanding his holy
calling, was as illiterate and unlearned as



the fishermen of Gallilee. William Johnson
was also au early teacher. Another of the
early schoolhouses was built on Horse Creek.
It was also a rude log cabin. The next
schoolhouse in this portion of the township
was built at Farrington. There are now six
schoolhouses in the township; some of them
good, substantial buildings and some of them
badly needed to be replaced with new and
better ones. Farrington Township is Dem-
ocratic in politics. It is not as great a Dem-
ocratic stronghold as it used to be, mainly
through the i nfluence of that old Republican
wheel-horse, Dr. Gregory, who says he in-
tends to make it Republican yet. if he lives
long enough. According to the late Ohio
election, he has an army contract on hand.
In 1869, Farrington was made a township.
Since then, the following is a list of the
township officials:

Supervisors — M. A. Morrison, 1870-72; L.
B. Gregory, 1873; L. B. Donohoo, 1874; L.
B. Gregory, 1875; \V. L. Young, 1876-78;
L. B. Gregory, 1879; J. W. Johnson, 1880;
L. B. Gregory, 1881; J. W. Johnson, 1882;
L. B. Gregory, 1883.



Online LibraryWilliam Henry PerrinHistory of Jefferson County, Illinois → online text (page 48 of 76)