William Henry Perrin.

History of Jefferson County, Illinois online

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men in the annals of the great, as does the
mountain above the mole -hi 11. Bettor men
and women never lived than these noble-
hearted pioneers, and it is simply shocking —
almost criminal — that their desoendants are
so utterly ignorant of the true story of their
great lives. They had no churches, no
schools, no courts, no officers of the law.
Their law was the imperial court of an hon-
est, healthy public sentiment, and if in the
course of their lives they found a dishouest
man, they punished him to that extent, and
so swift and unerring were their judgments
and convictions that they either drove the
wrongdoer from the settlement or cured him
completely and made an honest man of him.
This was the way they lived out their great
lives, doing good and building wise in their
day and generation. They are gone now, and
we shall nevermore behold the like of them;
we can only put upon record their lives and
their acts, and thus preserve them from be-
ing utterly lost to their descendants.

Casner Township, to which this chapter is
devoted, is situated west of Mount Vernon,
and contains soroe as fine farming land as
there is in the county. The surface is gen-
erally level, with gentle, undulating swells,
resembling the ocean after a storm. The
western part of it, along the Washington
County line, is fine prairie land, while the
remainder was originally covered with tim-
ber, among which were to be seen the varie-
ties of oak, walnut, wild cherry, hickory,
ash, locust, a good deal of hazel, sumac, etc.
The township is bounded on the north by
Grand Prairie Township, east by Shiloh.
south by Blissville, west by Washington
County, and forms Congressional Township
No. 2 south, and Kange 1 east. The princi-
pal stream is Rayse Creek, a branch of Big
Maddy, and which flows nearly through the
center of the township; a few unimportant

branches flow into this stream, but l^they are
without names on the maps.

The historj' of the settlement of this town-
ship by white people is but that of the set-
tlement of the entire county. The name of
the very first settler of Casner Township is
somewhat indefinite; but among the first set-
tlers was George Casner, for whom the town-
ship was named. He settled on Section 19
or 20 about the year 1824, and 'was from Vir-
ginia. He had quite a large family of chil-
dren, and was twice married. He died only
a few years ago, and his widow is still living
on the old homestead. Mr . Casner is de-
scribed as a most estimable man, somewhat
quick and loud spoken, but kind and afiec-
tionate in his family. He accumulated quite
a little fortune, but through misfortune lost
much of it, and died comparatively poor.
About the time Casner came to the township,
there came a man named Howell, and shortly
after him Alva Clark. The latter settled
near Casner and died in 1847. William
Bm-ris also settled near by. He died, leav-
ing a large family of children — among them
a son who died in the late war. Solomon
Patterson came here from Monroe County,
and settled in Section 31, about the year
1837. He lived here awhile, and then moved
into Moore's Prairie, where he, later, died.
Harvey Creel also settled here in 1837. He
came from Clinton County, had a large fam-
ily, but all or most of them have moved
away. A. M. Daniels settled on Section 6,
and died in 1845. T. B. Lacy came from
St. Clair County with his father, in 1834, to
"move" a man named John Holt, whose
father, Robert Holt, lived in Shiloh Town-
ship. A man named Johnson was then living
on the place where Mr. Lacy now lives.
Johnson tias moved away from the township.
The place was originally settled by Walter
Bean, who was a regular Daniel Boone for



hunting. He was also very fonrl of bees,
and spent much time in hunting "bee-trees"
and gathering wild lioney. Mr. Lacy first
settled in Blissville Township, but afterward
in this. William Champ was among the ear-
ly settlers in the eastern part of the town-
shiji. Other families came in, and the land
was rapidly settled.

In illustration of pioneer life, we make the
following extract from a sketch by Mr. John-
son. " Ooifee was not much used, as it cost
50 cents a pound, and had to be brought
from Shawneetown or Kaskaskia at that.
Meat was plenty, but bread was scarce. Meal
had, at first, to be brought from the Wabash
River. William and Isaac Casey constructed
a little hand mill that would grind a bushel
or two in the course of a day, and they did
well. But many of the first settlers had to
beat their meal in a mortar. One family had
a big kettle, which they used for a mortar;
but generally the mortar was a stump with
a basin burnt in the top of it. Over this
was suspended, by a sweep, a huge billot of
wood. This billet of wood was brought
down upon the grain in the mortar, the sweep
raised it. and so thump, thump, the pounding
went on till the grain was broken small
enough to make bread. Another style of
mortar was a huge block, and the pestle was
a maul with an iron wedge in the end of it.
Tliis was used in bad weather, as it could be
brought within doors. The meal was sifted
and bread made of the finest, while the
coarser was made into hominy. In early au-
tumn, meal was grated and bread made of
this meal was baked on a board or in the
ashes, and was very delicious." What would
the young people of the present day think of
such fare"? But even this was relished and
enjoyed by the people then. However, we
would think ourselves on the eve of starva-
tion wore we forced to live on it now, in this
fast age of the country.

As population increased, mills were built,
and the mortar and pestle were " laid on the
shelf." Severs had a mill near Muddy Creek,
and a Mr. Carroll started a tannery about
1849-50, in the western part of the township.
He was finally killed in a saw mill. One of
the first roads through the township was the
road from Shawneetown to St. Louis, pass-
ing through Mount Vernon and this town-
ship. Several good, substantial bridges span
the streams, thus rendering local travel safe
and pleasant. George Casner was a black-
smith, and started the first shop of the kind
in the township.

Since the adoption of township organiza-
tion in 18()',), the following is the complete
list of township officers:

Supervisors— E. B. Harvey, 1870; W. H.
Brooks, 1871; E. B, Harvey, 1872;' William
R. Champ, 1873; William Goaker,'l874; T.
B. Lacy, 1875-76; J. P. Morgan, 1877; T.
W. Harvey, 1878; J. H. Watkins, 1879, W.
B. Pickett, 1880; W. P. Champ, 1881-82;
W. J. Bledsoe, 1883, the present incum-

Township Clerks— W. R. Champ, 1872;
Thomas Kelly, 1873; J. H Spiller.s, 1874;
W. J. Bledsoe, 1875-76; J. Fairchild, 1877;
William J. Bledsoe, 1878; C. P. Schmidt,
1879; C. P. Schmidt, 1880; AVilliam J.
Bledsoe, 1881; C. P. Schmidt, 1882; J. W.
Fuller, 1883, now in office.

Assessors— James Wood, 1872; J. H. Wat-
kins, 1873-74; F. M. Wright, 1875-76; M.
A. Bond, 1877-78; T. P. Champ, 1879; F.
M. Wright, 1880; T. W. Harvey, 1881; M.
A. Bond, 1882-83, now holding the posi-

Collectors— Hiram Casey, 1872; A. J. Bal-
dridge, 1873; W. R. Champ, 1874; W. R.
Champ, 1875; F. Champ, 1876; R. J. Burch,
1877; R. J. Burch, 1878; M. M. Clark,
1879; M. M. Clark, 1880; R. J. Burch, 1881;



William Cobb, 18S2; W. R. Champ, 1883,
the present incumbent.

School Treasurers— William Gray, Hugh
Flanagan, A. Carroll, Thompson Lacy. J. M.
Severs, Thompson Lacy, A. Hogshead, W. R.
Champ, now in office.

Highway Commissioners— Henry Williams,
A. W. Downs, T. J. Gaskins, S. P. Creel,
M. C. Knowlton, S. White, W. H. Edwards,
H. M. Smith, H. H. Matthis, J. Watkins, J.
C. Carson, H. "Williams.

Justices of the Peace — W. B. Pickett, Jos-
eph Tiirney, W. B. Pickett, H. Wood, W. J.
Bledsoe, T. Kelly, present incumbent.

Constables — Joseph Harvey, J. B. Moore,
W. H. Gardner, John Severs, James P. Car-
roll, J. P. Morgan, William Rogers, J. H.
Hicks, J. M. Severs, Byron Moore.

The voting place of the township is at
Roachville, and the sturdy yeomanry poll a
large majority at all important elections for
the Democratic party. Indeed, it is said
that many still vote for Thomas Jefferson and
Gen. Jackson, and as for Stephen A. Doug-
las, he could be elected to any office in Cas-
ner, from Constable to President of the Unit-
ed States, by an overwhelming majority.

The schools of the township are scarcely up
to the standard. The log scboolhouse may
still be seen here, though there are several
neat frame schoolhouses. There are in the
township six, all told, and in these schools
are maintained for the usual terms each year.

The first religious meetin;rs were held in a
grove near Casner's. Preaching used to be
had at Mr. Patterson's before there were any
churches built. Reynolds Chapel, a Meth-
odist Church, was organized in 1876. It is

a frame building, and has but a small mem-
bership. Samuel Reynolds made a profes-
sion of religion on his death-bed, and in
honor of him the church was organized and
given his name. Elijah Lacy was among the
early ministers. Religious meetings were
also held by the Methodists at the house of
Mr. Bean, on the farm where T. B. Lacy now
lives. Rev. Mr. Striblin was also an early
preacher in this section. A flourishing Sun-
day school is held in the schoolhouse at

. — Roachville, on the Louisville & Nashville
Railroad, about ten miles west of Mount
Vernon, is somewhat larger— smaller, we
mean— than Chicago. It was laid out 'April
6, 1870, by John D. Williams, for David
Koach, the owner of the land upon which it
is located. The place comprised four blocks
and forty lots. A storehouse was built by
Roach, in which Frank Pease, from Ashley,
opened a store. He was followed by Mr.
Woods. Benjamin Cole opened a blacksmith
shop. A Ml-. Quackenbush built a mill and
sold it to Abram Severs; the latter afterward
sold it to Mr. Fairchild. This, with a few
dwelling-houses, comprises all that has ever
been of Roachville. It probably never will
be much greater, though it is surrounded by
an excellent coiiutry. particularly on the

Casner Township ought to be one of the
finest farming regions in the county. It has
considerable good land, that is well adapted
to grain and fruit. Stock-raising, too, might
be made profitable. Energy and enterprise
alone is needed to make Casner one of the
leading towBships of the county.








" Go, till the soil," said God to man,
Subdue the earth, it shall be thine;
How grand, how glorious was the plan !

How wise the law divine;
And none of Adam's race can draw
A title, save beneath this law,
To hold the world in trust;
Earth is the Lord's and He hath sworn
That ere Old Time has reached his bourn.
It shall reward the just." — Mrs. Hale.

EECORDS of the olden time are inter-
esting, and they are not without lessons
of instruction. We follow in the footprints
of the adventurous and enterprising pioneer,
and see him, as it were, and his labors and
struggles in tlie wilderness as he converts it
into a fruitful field. We sit by his cabin
fire and listen to the aceotints which he
gives of frontier life, and the hardships,
trials, dangers and sufferings of himself and
family in their efforts to make for themselves
a home in regions remote from civilization,
and unexplored hitherto by the Anglo Saxon.
Through these pioneer recitals we make our
way to the present, and from small begin-
nings we come to the mighty achievements
of industry. Following on in the path of
improvement, we see the once waste places
rejoicing under the care of the husband-
man; arable farms are spread out before us;
schools have been established, churches
built and a Chrsitian ministry sustained.
-ill this and more, Imt space will not allow
elaborate reflections.

»ByJ. M Bunk.

The division of the county to which the
reader's attention is now directed is the out
growth of later development. As the inhab-
itants of other States flock in and make set-
tlements, precincts are formed, which are
afterward divided and subdivided, and in
1869 the present township of Dodds was or-
ganized. Jefterson Cotinty, for many years
prior to its division into town.ships. com-
prised a number of precincts, and the terri-
tory that now constitutes Dodds Township
was known as Jackson's Precinct. The
township thus designated includes thirty-six
sections, and is known as Township 'A south
and Range 3 east. It is bounded on the
north by Mount Vernon, on the east by Pen-
dleton, on the south by Spring Garden and
on the west by McCIellen Township. The
original character of the country included
within these limits was part " barrens " and
part true prairie. Moore's Prairie includes
a portion of thn southeast sections of the
township. Another, named " Gub " Prairie,
from the amount of cubs seen and caught
there by the early inhabitants, is of consid-
erable importance. The soil of the woodland
is a light yellow clay, which is particularly
adapted to wheat-growing. The prairie soil
is rich and prodtietive of wheat, corn, rve,
oats, and almost all kinds of vegetables. The
natural drainage is toward the southwest.
The Casey Fork, one of the prominent aftlu-
ents of " Big Muddy Creek," enters near the
center of the northern boundary and takes a



diagonal and zizgag course to the southwest
corner. Seven-mile Creek is a stream of
some importance and empties into Casey's
Fork. On the high grounds and along the
streams are to be found considerable timber,
such as white, jack and black oak, hickory,
sycamore and various kinds of shrubs. But
little attention has ever been paid to stock-
raising, but the farmers have engaged in a
kind of mixed husbandry. Within the last
few years, they have conceived the idea that
stock-raising could 'be made remunerative,
and they are adding to and improving their
flocks and herds as fast as their means will
allow. Samuel Gibson is the principal
dealer in cattle in the township. He has
latel_y purchased a few short-horn and Dur-
ham cattle and some line Cotswold sheep. In
the early days, there was an abundance of
game, as was found everywhere in the coun-
ty. Deer and small game abounded and con-
tributed to the early settlers' larder as well
as to their sport. Wolves infested these
wooded slopes and made havoc with the
young stock; bat the bustle and hostility of
the new-comers soon drove them out of the

A generally accepted tradition is that the
first settlement made and the first cabin
raised in what is now Dodds Township was
by James Dodds, whose advent into this new
territory was prior to the year 1818. After
him the township was named, and it is not
too much to say that his namesake has done
him justice. It to-day ranks among the
most valuable districts of the county. Dodds'
first important business was the same as that
of all other adventurers upon their arrival
in a new territory — that of building a house.
Until tiis was done, himself and family had
to camp on the ground or live in their wag-
ons—perhaps the only shelter they had known
for weeks. So the object of building a

house, which was also to be a home, was one
that gave zest to the rough toil and to the
heavy labors. The style of the house was
not considered. It was shelter they required
and protection from the weather and wild
animals. The settlers had neither the money
nor the mechanical appliances for building
themselves a house. They were content in
most instances to have a mere cabin or hut.
Their cabins were usually made to resemble .
a human habitation, and were of round logs,
light enough for two or three men to lay up,
about foiu-teen feet square, roofed with
bark or clapboards and sometimes with the
sod of the prairie. For a fire-place, they
made a wall of earth or stone, in an opening
in one end of the building, extending out-
ward and planked on the outside by bolts of
wood notched together to stay it. Such
were the hardships to which most of the
early settlers of Dodds Township were ex-
posed. Some of these we shall briefly notice
in the following pages, which are framed
not from records but from vague tradition,
with here and there a fragment of personal
reminiscence, which serves us as a guide
through the obscurity which the shadows of
sixty -five years have thrown around the early
times. To say that in this chapter it is pro-
posed to write the history of every family
in the order in which they came into the
township would be promising more than lies
in the power of any man to accomplish. But
to give a sketch of some of the pioneers and
representative "men of the times is our dim,
and to transmit them in a durable form to
future generations.

Joseph Jordan settled in 1818 on the land
now owned and occupied by Isaac Garrison.
Jordan was a man of considerable enterprisf
and tact, and had an eye to business. Al-
though his settlement in the county was
made one year before Jefferson County was



organized, yet he had almost formed in his
mind the extent of the prospective county
and calculated the distance, and probably
being enthused by a delightful view from a
high part of that then uncultivated land-
scape, he treasured the thought that the
county seat migth be located there. He
raised his tirst cabin, dispensed his hospital-
ity to those who came that way, and with
heroic patience and fortitude ondm-ed the
bard life of the pioneer. Only a short time
elapsed before he was forced to see his plans
and prospects vanish like a morning dew be-
fore the rays of the sun. The county seat
was fixed at anothei' place. Burdened with
disappointment, he let his roving disposi-
tion get the better of him, and he sold his
claim at a small compensation to William
Frizell and moved to Texas.

The Frizell family was a valuable acqui-
sition to the territory, and the impress of
their energy is yet visible. Their sad death
by the cholera in 1847 is still remembered.
William Frizell, wife and children, Joseph
and Martha, were the victims of this terrible

The old Jordan farm went into the hands
of Isaac Garrison in 1853, and by his in-
dustry it has been improved until it now
ranks among the first of the county. Some
time after Jordan's advent came Dr. Wil-
loughby Adams, who was an excellent physi-
cian. He located first in the then small vil-
lage of Mount Vernon, where he followed his
profession, and subsequently on Section 23
in Dodds Township. His services wore val-
uable, as the ague was a frequent visitor in
every household. His popularity grew in
the estimation of the people, and as early as
1841 he was chosen as one of the County
Commissioners, in which capacity he served
with honor, and was frequently re elected.
In 1849, he was chosen Associate Justice of

the County Court. This position he filled
for many years. He was the first practicing
physician in Dodds Township, and was also
the tirst County Surveyor. At his own re-
quest, he was buried a short distance from
his residence, where more of his family are
sleeping the sleep that knows no waking.

Frank Hicks settled at a later date on Sec-
tion 27. He was a rough-spoken man, fond
of drink, and participated in shooting
matches and hunting sprees, which were very
frequent in those days. He was, however,
true to a ])romise, and always fulfilled his
contracts. He reared a large family. One
son- John R. P. Hicks — lost the use of his
lower limbs over forty years ago and is a res-
ident of Mount Vernon. He employs his
time in knitting upon some kind of a ma-
chine. Another sou — William — was a
bright, industrious ■boy. and among the
strongest lads in the neighborhood, but was
running one day, when he was suddenly
taken with a pain in his feet, which resulted
in his being a complete reel foot. He is also

Stephen Arnold came from Tennessee
among the first, and settled on Section 14.
Here ho experienced all the hardships inci-
dent to the life of the then few inhabit-
ants. Seth, tbe only living member of his
family, resides on the old homestead. John
Smith was an early settler on Section 15.
He was a man of careless habits, and never
accumulated much property. A few of his
posterity survive. Absalom Estes settled on
Section 10 some time between the years 1820
and 1822. He remained there but a short
time, and sold his improvment to his brother
Joseph. The latter was the father of sixteen
children, all of whom grew to maturity and
reared large families. Some of the Esteses
accumulated large fortunes. It is said of
the Estes family that they were sociable, in-



dustrious and energetic. Joseph Pace set-
tled on Section 8. He was among the first
surveyors in Jefferson County and surveyed
some of the early roads, among which was
the old Goshen road, and together with the
Benton road, branching from the former on
the farm of Isaac Garrison, leading thence to
Vienna, Cairo and other old Southern cities
m this State, were the only early roads in
Jackson Precinct. Joseph Pace was the
twin brother of Joel Pace, who was the first
County and Circuit Clerk, and among the
early teachers of this county. It was exten-
sively discussed a few years since by the
leading newspapers of America, and a con-
clusion finally arrived at to the extent that
they lived longer than any twins ever known,
Joel having died at the age of eighty-eight
years and Joseph four years later. Joseph
Rogers settled pretty early on Section 7 and
became the possessor of considerable property.
William Davis settled what is known as the
Harper place. He was a minister of the
Baptist Church, and was among the first
preachers in the precinct. He died in the
county, leaving his family in affluent circum-
stances. John Stewart came to Jackson
Precinct at an early period. Stewart had the
" big head " in reality. It was so large that
he could not purchase a hat to tit it, and was
compelled to have a hat block and employ a
hatter to make his hats, which was done at
his residence. David Shaffer located very
early in the township and was content to
live for awhile in a tent. On one occasion a
fire swept over the prairie like a whirlwicd,
respecting nothing in its course, and it was
only by the strongest efforts that Mr. Shaf-
fer's tent was saved from the conflagration.
He erected his first horse grist-mill in the
township about 1S38, near where is now the
residence of W. T. Sanders. It was here
that the inhabitants came early and staved

late to get crushed their little bag of corn,
while the wife and little ones awaited with
anxiety and eagerness their return. Frank
Hicks also put into operation a horse mill on
Section 27, and did considerable grinding for
several years. Isaac Watson was a real pio
neer of what is now Dodds Township.

From the earliest period of the world' s
history, the people of every civilized nation
have realized the importance of learning.
Education in its fullest sense comprehends
the development and cultivation of the var-
ious physical, moral and mental faculties of
man. Hence it is that the standard of a
people's morals, civilization and progress is

j indicated by the degree of interest mani-
fested in developing and cultivating the
moral, social and intellectual faculties of its
masses. Society in every age and every
nation upon which the refining hand of civ-
ilization has been laid, has been ever ready
to realize and accept the truth of this.

Thus from remote antiquity to the present
time, we find associated with other beneti-

i cent institutions for the elevation and ad-
vancement of mankind, institutions embracing
every grade of instruction, from the elemen-
tary school, where the first rudiments of an
education are taught, to the university and
college, where art. science and literature are
disseminated. The history of education in
Jefferson County finds its duplicate in the
school history of other counties in South-
ern Illinois. The pioneers, as soon as they
had each prepared a habitation and inclosed
a " patch " of land on which to raise the nec-

Online LibraryWilliam Henry PerrinHistory of Jefferson County, Illinois → online text (page 51 of 76)