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NUMBERS 20 & 21 


AUGUST 1977 

Backgrounds of the Elsah Piggotts 

by Delight Koehler 

/In the paper below, Miss Koehler explores the back- 
ground of a family no longer in Elsah, the Piggotts. But 
the history traced here is of more significance than the 
chronicle of one family, because it traces a typical fron- 
tier experience in Illinois, taking one direct line of des- 
cendents from Revolutionary times to the present day. 
This paper has gained enormously from the extensive re- 
search done on the Piggotts of St. Clair County by Mr . 
Carl Baldwin and from the tireless efforts to turn up in- 
formation of Mrs. Eileeen Smith Cunningham of Carroll- 
ton. Much geneological information was contributed, too, 
by Mr . Cecil Piggott of Benton . Ed . Note J 

Only five years ago, the peach-colored Gothic Revival 
house across from the Elsah Landing Restaurant on La 
Salle Street, in Elsah, Illinois, stood a forlorn ruin. Win- 
dows were cracked and broken, the yard had grown up in 
trees, window shades were torn and hanging, and boards 
were pulling loose. In this dilapidated old building, the 
direct descendents of early Illinois pioneers had once lived . 
It had been one of the last homes of the Elsah Piggott family . 

During the early days of Illinois history, members of the 
Piggott family had often played important roles in the settle- 
ment of the region. Some built forts, dealt with Indians, 
and developed transportation routes. Others helped es- 
tablish Methodism in western Illinois and St. Louis. In 
1829 two Piggott brothers founded the town of Eminence near 
the present site of Eliestoun on the Principia College campus 
in Elsah Township . 

The accomplishments of the Piggott family were con- 
siderably varied . Their occupations ranged from doctor 
or minister to bridge carpenter or farm hand. Often, as 
was typical in frontier situations, they worked at several 
odd jobs at once. 

In 1783 the Piggott family first appeared in Illinois with 
the arrival of Captain James Piggott. Captain Piggott was 
a Revolutionary War figure who had resigned his commis- 
sion in the Continental Army for "health" reasons . 1 He 
then came west under the leadership of General George 
Rogers Clarke. According to Mr. Carl Baldwin, the earli- 
est confirmed record of James Piggott found him in the 
Monangahela Valley in 1775. In 1776, in Westmoreland 
County, Pennsylvania, he was commissioned, on April 
6th, a captain in the 8th Pennsylvania regiment of the 

Continental Congress under General Anthony Wayne With 
this regiment, Captain Piggott fought in the actions at 
Bound Brook, New Jersey; Brandywine; Germantown; and 

In February, 1777, his regiment took part in "one of 
the most arduous forced marches of the war" from Quibble- 
town, according to Mr. Baldwin. Baldwin further des- 
cribed the scene as "an entire regiment of 685 men, with- 
out tents, and without winter clothing, keeping alive in the 
sub-zero nights in the Pennsylvania mountains by building 
huge bonfires and sleeping between them . "2 

The next October, Captain Piggott resigned his commis- 
sion and enlisted in a company of volunteers under General 
George Rogers Clarke to establish civilization in the west. 
These volunteers migrated to Kentucky. About twelve 
miles downstream from the mouth of the Ohio, below what 
is now Wickliffe, Kentucky, they built Fort Jefferson. 3 

Minerva Jane Piggott Hupp, granddaughter of Captain 
James Piggott. Born about 1828, she died in 1903 and 
is buried in Piasa, Illinois. Picture courtesy of Cecil 

ELSAH HISTORY is published quarterly by Historic Elsah Foundation, Paul O. Williams, Editor. 
Subscription is with membership . Send to P. O. Box 117, Elsah, H 62028. Rates: Regular mem- 
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AUGUST 1977 

Little is known of Captain Piggott from then until Aug- 
ust, 1781, when the Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians staged 
an uprising. At the lead of the Indians was the celebrated 
half-breed, Scotchman Calbert. Fort Jefferson and the 
surrounding scattered homesteads were prime targets for 
these Indian attacks . Speaking almost ninety years after 
these events, James's son, Isaac Newton Piggott, gave a 
historical lecture on the battle before the Literary and His- 
torical Societies of East St. Louis . Since he was Piggott's 
son, he might have added spice to the story. Nevertheless, 
he gives an extensive account of the episode. 4 

The Indians attacked the area first in small parties. 
"If they had reached the settlement in a body, " Newton 
Piggott points out, "the whole white population outside 
the fort would have been destroyed. "5 Being so fore- 
warned by the small attacks, most of the settlers were 
able to move into the fort. A messenger was sent to the 
falls of the Ohio for more provisions and ammunition. 
It is unclear now whether James Piggott originally lived 
in the fort or whether he had been one of the neighboring 
homesteaders . All that has been reported is that the cap- 
tain and his wife were in the fort during many of the on- 

After two weeks of the attacks by these small marauding 
parties, the main force of the Indians finally reached Fort 
Jefferson. By now the settlers had more to worry about 
than even these warriors . Both their water and food were 
giving out. Many were sick and bed-ridden, so that they 
had barely enough strength to hold a gun. Captain Pig- 
gott's wife and many others died during the siege and 
were buried within the walls of the fort. 6 

Calbert's Indians were well aware of these conditions. 
They had captured a white prisoner a short time before. 
In return for his life, they forced him to tell about the sit- 
uation inside the fort. With this knowledge in mind, the 
Indians held up a flag of truce. Captain Piggott, a Mr. 
Owen, and another man agreed to meet the Indian dele- 
gation. "This was done, " Piggott's son recounted, "for 
fear the enemy would know the desperate condition of 
the fort. 7 

Upon meeting these three white leaders, Calbert and 
his followers demanded an unconditional surrender of the 
fort. They were giving the settlers this opportunity, they 
claimed, because they knew the defenseless condition of 
the fort and hoped to save "much bloodshed." Piggott and 
the other delegates refused to comment on what the prisoner 
had told the Indians. Their answer was a compromise. "If 
we deny his statements you may kill him — we cannot con- 
fide in your promises to protect us; but we will promise, 
if the Indians will leave the country, the garrison will aban- 
don the fort and country as soon as possible. "8 

Whether or not the Indians would have accepted this bar- 
gain was never known. As their delegation left, a bullet 
shot from the fort wounded Calbert. Itcame from the gun of 
a settler whose family had been butchered by the Indians. 
Although he was immediately taken into custody and Cal- 
bert's wound was dressed, the Indians were greatly un- 
settled. Fortunately, the provisions and reinforcements 
sent for several weeks earlier by the garrison finally reached 
the fort. 9 A battle ensued, but the settlers were able to 
force the Indians to withdraw. 

After the victory, Piggott left the fort and in 1783 moved 
to what is now Illinois. There, in the American Bottoms 
not far west of the present town of Columbia, the captain 

established a new fort. Standing near the bluffs of the Mis- 
sissippi, it was named the fort of the Grand Ruisseau (Big 
Run) or Piggott's Fort. Isaac Newton Piggott, his son, has 
much praise for this fort. According to him, "this was the 
largest fortification erected by the Americans in Illinois at 
that day, and was well defended with cannon and small 
arms . "10 Within its walls, forty-five people lived . 

Governor St. Clair appointed Piggott presiding judge of 
the court of St. Clair County around the year 1790 . The 
county seat was at Cahokia . When Judge Piggott arrived 
there, he saw that a ferry from St. Louis to Illinois was 
greatly needed . "At that time there was no other willing to 
take the risk /"of creating such a terry] . In the summertime, 
men could not work here," Isaac Newton Piggott recalled. 
The judge erected two log cabins on a natural landing along 
the l'Abbe River. From 1792 until 1795 he continued his 
work on the area each winter . By 1797 he had created a 
road, a bridge, and a ferry from Illinois to Missouri. He 
then petitioned the Spanish governor on August 15th of that 
year for the exclusive rights to collect ferriage in St. Louis. 
His petition read as follows: 

To Mr. Zeno Trudeau Commander at St. Louis : 

Sir: — Though unacquainted, through a certain con- 
fidence of your love of justice and equity, I venture to lay 
before you the following petition, which, from reasons 
following, I am confident you will find just to allow: 

The petition is , that your honor will grant me the 
whole benifit of this ferry, to and from the town of St. 
Louis . I do not desire to infringe upon the ferry privi- 
lege below the town , which has been long established . 
But that no person in the town may be allowed to set peo- 
ple across the river for pay (at this place) , so long as 
you shall allow that the benifits of this ferry hath made 
compensation for my private expenses , in opening a new 
road and making it good from this ferry to Cahokia town, 
and in making and maintaining a bridge over the river 
Abbe, of 150 feet in length .--Your consideration and 
answer to this is the request of your humble petitioner; 
and as an acknowledgement of the favor petitioned for, 
if granted, I will be under the same regulations with my 
ferry respecting crossing passengers or property from 
your shore as your ferry-men are below the town: and 
should your people choose to cross the river in their own 
crafts, my landing and road shall be free to them . 

And should you wish me to procure you anything that 
comes to market from the country on this side, I shall 
always be ready to serve you . 

And should you have need of timber or anything that 
is the product of my land , it may be had at the lowest 
rates . 

I am, sir, with due respect, your 
humble servant. 

August 15, 1797. 

James Piggott 12 

The governor granted Piggott the exclusive rights to a 
ferry landing just below Market Street in St. Louis. 13 For 
this ferry, the judge used neither skiffs, scows, nor yawls. 
Rather his ferry consisted of Indian canoes or pirogues ty- 
pical of the west of that day . 

On the twentieth of February, 1799, James Piggott died. 

AUGUST 1977 



He left a wife, whom he had married in 1790, in charge of 
his will and his ferry. She, in turn, leased the ferry out 
several times. One of the renters "prooved treacherous" by 
trying to steal the rights to the ferry. A court battle followed, 
and the business was eventually re-established to the Piggott 
heirs. 14 Later they sold the ferry to a firm called McKnight 
and Brady. 



Altho at first the practice of medison was of necessaty 
forsed upon her, --yet when her skill was Developed in 
Cases of great emergency, her practice increased during 
life. 15 

Born in Virginia, her maiden hame had been Frances 
James. She was the daughter of William James, a wealthy 
iron founder at Mounty Etny. While she was still young, a 
dashing man, named Bennet Ballew, swept her off her feet. 
Without her father's consent, she married him. William 
Captain Piggott 1 s second wife was a very remarkable woman. James, being a fiery Welshman, became quite enraged at 
She has been praised in some documents as being a skilled "sur- this. He completely disinherited his daughter. Bennet 
geon doctress." An unknown nineteenth century historian tells Ballew then migrated with her to the wilderness of Kaskas- 
us that kia, Illinois. 16 

Amongst the female pioneers we must not overlook the Name Frances had four children by Ballew: Timothy, Agnes, 
of Mrs. Frances Collard /she remarried after James Piggott Frances, and Margaret. Then Ballew deserted her' Ac- 
died/ whose fame for her skill in the healing art was well cording to historian Carl Baldwin, he took out a law suit 
merited . —She was the Surgeon Doctress who attended upon against Frances and confiscated everything of value except 
and cured the wounds of John Dempsey and David Waddle both the children. 17 That he was the kind of man who would do 
of whom the Indians had Tomahawked, Scalped, and left for such a thing is quite obvious from his other dealings. Bald- 

Elsah school children around 1905 on the front steps of 
the school (now the Civic Center) . At that time the steps 
were wooden and ran up both sides of the front wall to 
the door. Coal was stored under the steps. Pictured 
are, bottom row: Dewey McDow, Verne Alright, Stubb 
Vanderslice, Bill Cummings, Willis Jacobson. Next 

row up, , Freda Lindow, , Zetta 

Allen, Carrie Jacobson, Ruth Hughes, Ollie Hunger- 
ford, Robbie Piggott. Third row, Lena Davenport, 

Helen Mustane, Winnie Albright, Grace Barnal, Lucy 
McDow, Elizabeth Bates, Roy Piggott, Marion Allen, 
Edwin Mott. Fourth row, Georgie Mustane, Edna 
Farley, Esther Keyser, Bernice Piggott, Ruth Keyser, 
Mamie Worthey , Vida Farley. Fifth row, Blanche Howell. 
Top row, Blanche Davenport, Corie St. Peters, Mr. 
Ben Legatt (teacher) , Ruth St. Peters, Edith Bates, 
Fay Jacobson. Picture courtesy of Marie Cresswell. 



AUGUST 1977 

win says that Ballew was 

living a double life pretending to represent the interests 
of the Cherokees in conferences with the United States 
Government, but actually serving as land agent for John 
Sevier of Tennessee in the largest land fraud ever per- 
petrated in the United States. 18 

Frances was destitute. She had to give Margaret to 
Mrs. Pierre Troge in Kaskaskia for care. When she was 
able to get her back, it required court action to get Mrs. 
Troge to give up the child. 19 The ague came upon some 
of the other children. Frances sunk down in despair. She 
could not go home. Not only had her father disinherited 
her, but "savage wars" made the journey unsafe for her 
and the four children. 

Sometime during the early 1780's, she met Captain Pig- 
gott, and he agreed to take her "in tow. " Under the French 
law which governed the Cahokia district, divorces were 
not allowed. This meant, of course, that Frances could not 
marry Captain Piggott for quite awhile. Either Ballew must 
cease to exist orthey must ceaseto live under French law to 
permit a marriage. Either of these conditions would take 
time. Meanwhile Frances had four children by Piggott out 
of wedlock. According to Carl Baldwin, there is a state- 
ment by the captain in the Illinois section of the Draper 
Manuscripts affirming "that the first four children of his 
union with Frances were born out of wedlock and that he 
accepted them on equal basis with the others ."20 

In 1790 Frances and James went through a contract mar- 
riage. Ballew had only appeared once during the time that 
the Piggotts had lived together. James Piggott and Robert 
Watts had given Frances a small plot of land to live on near 
the fort of the Grand Ruisseau . Upon hearing this, Bennet 
Ballew made arrangements to return to claim his ownership 
of the land as husband. If he had, Frances probably would 
have been without a single piece of property. Frances, 
therefore, sought an injunction from the French to restrain 
her husband. 21 Mostly likely it worked . No more was 
heard of Ballew. The French had respect for Frances. 
Often, they called her Frances St. James or Madam Piggott. 
That Frances was a religious woman has often been ob- 
scured. Some historians, according to Baldwin, have 
claimed that because of her relationship with Piggott, Fran- 
ces was a woman of easy virtue. Looking back on her 
plight, however, they seem to be jumping to conclusions. 
As Mrs. Piggott, she held Sunday Bible readings in her 
Illinois home. 22 Captain Piggott also was a very religious 
man. He had often "carried a book of Methodist hymns 
which his soldiers sang on the march . "23 

After the captain's death, she petitioned the governor to 
marry Jacob Collard, June 8, 1802. This petition was soon 
granted . In this new home the first Methodist services in 
St. Louis County, Missouri, were held. Baldwin believes 
that "there is little doubt that she — as a lay person — intro- 
duced Methodism in Illinois. "24 

With James Piggott, Frances had eight children: Sophia, 
Asenath, Joseph, Isaac Newton, Frances, Zacheus, James, 
and Cynthia. The most well known of these in the Elsah 
area were Isaac Newton and Joseph Piggott. These men 
founded Eminence and remained in the Elsah area for some 


Isaac Newton Piggott was born in 1793 in Piggott's Fort. 
When his father died, he moved with his mother from St. 

Clair County, Illinois, to St. Louis County, Missouri. Then 
in 1805 the family moved once again to the Upper Louisiana 
Territory, where he grew to manhood . On February 1, 
1816, he married Sarah Massey. 

Like his father, Isaac Newton Piggott was involved in a 
brief military career. In the War of 1812, he enlisted as a 
private under Captain David Music in the Missouri Militia. 25 
From his mother he learned the art of surgery at an early 
age. Legend had it that as Frances and Isaac Newton were 
walking through Stable Lane in early St. Louis, they found 
a man lying in tall weeds who had been scalped by an In- 
dian. They managed to get the man back to their home. 
After Frances sewed his scalp back on, the man recovered. 
Piggott descendent Cora Jones Heltzell reports that Isaac 
Newton later became a physician in his own right. 

His first claim to fame, however, stemmed from his reli- 
gious training . in 1822 and 1823 he became the first Metho- 
dist minister to travel a circuit in the western section of Il- 
linois. In effect he was one of the first men to bring Metho- 
dism to the St. Louis region. Piggott made his home three 
miles north of the present site of Kane, in Greene County, 
near Macoupin Creek . From there he traveled a nine county 
territory (known as the Mississippi Circuit) as an ordained 
deacon of the church. These counties included the present 
day Jersey, Greene, Scott, Morgan, Schuyle, Brown, Adams, 
Pike, and Calhoun counties. The circuit took four weeks to 
complete. 27 

During his sermons to the early residents of Illinois, 
Isaac Newton often interlaced his preaching with quotations 
from hymns or with original poetry. Upon at least one oc- 
casion, it has been recorded, he "preached an entire ser- 
mon in poetry." In the spring more people were able to 
come into town to hear a service . Accomodations in the 
church were often not large enough to seat all of them . In 
such a case, the congregation had to move outside. Isaac 
Newton Piggott did not mind this , however . The outdoors 
gave him more subjects to draw poetic allusions from. 28 

Piggott was indeed a very popular preacher . For many 
years his daughter prized a letter sent to him from the citi- 
zens of Greene County in 1823. It invited him to act as chap- 
lain at the Fourth of July celebration in Carrollton .29 

As an itinerant minister, Piggott got to know many people 
well. After awhile, he decided that he could do these people 
even more good if he were to run for state senate. In 1824 
Greene and Pike counties were holding their first senatorial 
election since the formation of the district. His decision to 
run led to one of the most unusual elections in Illinois his- 
tory . 

Piggott ran for the senate against Thomas Carlin, the 
founder of Carrollton and eventually the governor of Illi- 
nois . Both men were dynamic and popular. Carlin was 
known for his "nerve, energy, and undaunted courage. "30 
He had been a ranger, and also knew the people well. From 
his ministry, Piggott had become a forceful speaker, and 
was declared a formidable opponent for Carlin. 

The senatorial district for which they fought was very 
large. Pike County at that time included "all territory west 
and north of the Illinois river to the north line of the state. "31 
Both candidates, however, traveled all over the district to 
win votes. After the hard campaign, the vote was so close 
that the decision of the people was unclear. Each man 
thought he had won. Each, in some way, managed to obtain 
a certificate of election. When Congress convened at Van- 
dalia, then the capital of Illinois, both men stood before 
the Senate claiming the seat. Needless to say, the Senate 

AUGUST 1977 



was not about to put up with this nonsense. Piggott and 
Carlin were sent home immediately. The Senate declared 
that "there had been no election," and the two would have 
to fight it out again . 32 

When the race began again, the people's excitement 
boiled over. The battle grew hotter. On December 13, 1824, 
the second election was held. This time the victory was 
clearly Carlin's . Isaac Newton Piggott retired gracefully 
from the state political scene. 

During 1825 Piggott's health failed, and he was forced 
to seek work other than itinerant ministry .33 In 1829 he 
was made the first postmaster in the present day area en- 
compassed by Jersey County. On April 11th he opened a 
post office in Elsah township, then in Greene County, Illi- 
nois . Located somewhere back from the bluffs , probably 
in the Ewing Woods area of the Principia College campus, 
between the Principia football field and Eliestoun, it was 
potentially an excellent site for a new central post office 
to serve the surrounding area. At the bottom of this bluff, 
a man named Henry Mills, of Portage des Sioux, had just 
recently established a store, the first in the immediate 

area . On top of the bluff Isaac Newton and his brother , 
Joseph, laid out the town of Eminence (so called because 
it was situated on the bluff, which rose 175 feet above 
the Mississippi) .34 During the town's existence, it pro- 
bably never contained more than five cabins . Like so 
many incipient towns, Eminence never developed, and 
its inhabitants went elsewhere. All that remains now are 
four known graves belonging to Reverend Joseph Piggott; 
his wife, Ann Spurlock; their son, David; and a Suzanna 
Dambmann, whose gravestone is in German. 

In 1835 Isaac Newton Piggott moved his post office to 
Newbern, Illinois, about five miles north of Eminence. 
Neither of these post offices was ever in good financial 
shape, however. It apparently required twice as much 
money to run them as was coming in . According to the 
postmaster's budget sheets, four dollars needed to be col- 
lected per mile in order to buy supplies . All Isaac Newton 
Piggott could collect from the settlers amounted to two dol- 
lars per mile. The balance was made up by the postmaster 
out of his own pocket. 35 

In 1831 a letter sitting in the Eminence post office caused 

The digging season at the Koster archeological site is B.C.). Toward the end of the season a large .. oi L u ary was 
nearly over for 1977. Much of this season's work involved uncovered. Work on it was not complete when the ;egular 
probing remains of the archaic culture in horizon 11 (6,400 fieid school ended on August 20th. 



AUGUST 1977 

more sorrow than any other in the area of the time, in all 
probability . It was not that the information in the letter 
was depressing. Nevertheless, by the end of the year, 
it had played a part in the first murder and legal hanging 
in Greene County . 36 

When the circuit court session sat in Carrollton in 
September, 1831, I.N. Piggott had some business to 
attend to there. While he was at the court, he saw John 
Lofton of the Macoupin Creek region. Piggott recalled 
that the Eminence post office had recently received a let- 
ter addressed to him . Lofton gave Piggott $.25 for post- 
age and promised he would soon send his son, Samuel, 
to pick up the letter . 

Samuel was a responsible, able boy of fifteen. He was 
given an additional chore on this particular trip to the 
post office. Henry Mills , the store owner at Eminence, 
owed David Pierson of Carrollton $25. Since the round 
trip between Macoupin Creek took at least a full day, 
neither Mills nor Pierson had had the opportunity to 
settle the debt. It therefore became young Sam's duty 
to collect the money . 

He arrived at Eminence late Saturday afternoon and 
proceeded first to see Henry Mills . Mills paid him . Near- 
by stood one of his customers, James Sullivan, "who was 
known to the boy . . . ."37 Samuel then went up the bluff 
to the post office. From Mrs . Piggott he received his 
father's letter. As it was nearly sundown, Sarah Piggott 
asked him "if he intended to go home that night. "38 He 
replied that he planned to go as far as Newbern and stay 
with his Aunt Aggie Lofton over Sunday . After he left 
the Piggott home, Samuel was seen alive by only one 
other person. 

According to the newspaper account, he rode alone 
along the main road. As he passed the homestead of the 
late Thomas Carroll, he saw a figure on horseback on 
the lane ahead of him. It was James Sullivan, whom he 
had seen just awhile earlier . Sullivan told the boy he 
was going to work at Jacob Lurton's that night. The 
two decided to ride together . After they had travelled 
about a mile, Sullivan left the road, telling the boy that 
"he knew a nearer way than the ridge road by taking a 
path which led up what is now known as the 'Briggs 
Branch. '"39 The Lofton boy followed his lead . Within 
the next quarter mile, Sullivan attacked the boy and 
brutally murdered him . He checked over the value of 
John Lofton's letter, and placed it in the boy's hat with 
bloody fingerprints . Sullivan then fled with the $25 
that Samuel had collected from Mills. 

The boy's body was not found for two weeks . His 
parents were used to his taking detours to visit his 
aunt for extended periods of time . When they did find 
him, they spotted the buzzards first. The bushes and 
grass showed signs that a desperate struggle had taken 

From a preliminary investigation, enough evidence 
was found to make James Sullivan their primary suspect. 
The evening of the murder Sullivan had finally gone to 
Jacob Lurton's. Once there he gathered up all his clothes 
and left for parts unknown. At the time, nothing much was 
thought of this. Sullivan was known for his nomadic life. 
He never stayed anyplace very long . Now no one knew 
precisely where he was . There was little hope of bringing 
him to justice. 

In the winter, however, a man named Jefferson Murphy 
from "Gillham Mound," in the Newbern area, travelled to 

New Orleans and there found Sullivan. He had him arrested 
for the murder of the Lofton boy and sent back to Carroll- 
ton. There he was tried by jury, convicted, and "sentenced 
to be hung at the spring term of the court in 1832. "40 Sulli- 
van's real name turned out to be Patrick Cavanaugh. 

Although the execution took place in a "terrible rain 
storm" on April 25, 1832, several hundred people turned out 
to see the hanging . The murder of a young boy, such as 
Samuel Lofton, collecting a letter and a debt, horrified 
most people. They wanted to see justice done. General 
Jacob Fry carried out the orders . As soon as he was 
through, he and his regiment left in pursuit of Black Hawk's 
warriors in that small Illinois war. 

Dr. Isaac Newton Piggott's postal service after this in- 
cident is recorded as merely an uneventful list of debts and 
expenditures. In 1853 he retired from the business and re- 
turned to St. Louis. There he was still known as a power- 
ful speaker . On August 4, 1871 he gave a long historical 
lecture (previously quoted in this article) before the Literary 
and Historical Society of East St. Louis, Illinois. Much of 
it was stories of his parents' lives. When Piggott received 
the title of doctor is not known; however, this lecture was 
published under the name of Dr. Isaac Newton Piggott. 
Some historians believe that he might have taken on his 
mother's career of surgery. Isaac Newton Piggott died on 
February 11, 1874. Upon interment in Belfontaine Cemetery, 
he was given a bronze marker commemorating his service 
in the War of 1812.41 


At the date of his passing, Sarah Massey had been mar- 
ried to Isaac Newton Piggott for sixty-six years . During 
that time, she created a home for him befitting that belong- 
ing to a Methodist preacher. Her own obituary seven years 
later says that "her house was the home of preachers of all 
denominations as long as she lived. "42 

Sarah Massey was born in Kentucky in 1795. When she 
was only two years old, her family came to Upper Louisi- 
ana (Missouri) . Her father served as a captain in the War 
of 1812. On February 1, 1816 she married I.N. Piggott, 
another veteran of the "Second War for Independence." 

Although she lived until December 14, 1881, her life as 
a wife of a minister was anything but easy for her . For 
one thing, early in their marriage, her husband was rarely 
home for long . Later he became the postmaster , and this 
too caused him to be away at times. During the nineteenth 
century the mortality rate for children was extremely high. 
Sarah had at least twelve children by Isaac Newton, of whom 
only three girls lived to adulthood. Most died in infancy. 
The record of their births and deaths was duly noted in 
the family Bible. 

Nancy October 29, 1816 to October 14, 1817 

Ann F. October 4, 1818 to September 16, 1866 

Frances April 22, 1821 to October 17, 1821 

Mary Jane November 1, 1822 to May 1, 1902 

William James November 30, 1825 to September 29, 1826 

Unnamed son born and died May 3, 1827 

Joshua April 24, 1828 to July 29, 1828 

Isaac Newton August 11, 1829 to December 11, 1833 

Joseph April 29, 1832 to May 28, 1832 

Levi July 1833 to August 15, 1835 

Cornelia Celinda November 26, 1836 to September 27, 1839 

Asenath June 20, 1842 to 1931 43 

AUGUST 1977 



Of the three girls who survived, all married fairly 
well. Ann married John W. Slaten on October 27, 1836. 
Born in Jackson County, Georgia, Slaten had a prosperous 
mercantile business in Jersey County, Illinois, at the time 
of his marriage. In 1840 he became a justice of the peace, 
and three years later he was licensed to preach. 44 

Ann Slaten died before her mother, Sarah Massey Piggott 
passed on. In her will, Sarah remembered each of her daugh 
ter 's children: Christopher J . , Allen M . , George N . , Thad- 
deus A. , Dwight D. , Roxana C. , and Dexter. To these 
seven she willed one dollar to be divided equally among 

Mary Jane married Robert T. Brock, whose father had 
been the foreman of the jury that convicted Sullivan for the 
murder of Samuel Lofton. During the Civil War, Brock had 
been secretary of the war relief committee in the north . 
Afterwards he had been representative for St. Louis in 
the General Assembly of Missouri in 1867 and '68. 45 Unfor- 
tunately, three of their children passed on at an early age. 46 

The last of the daughters, Asenath Piggott, married 
Howard G. Lame, otherwise known as Doc Lame. He was 
a Mississippi riverboat pilot, renowned for his courage. 
Few soon forgot the fire and sinking of the Golden Eagle. 
As pilot, Lame had calmly steered the burning vessel 
with its passengers to shore. By the time the steamboat 
touched ground, his own escape had been cut off by the 
flames. A newspaper of the period reported that "he 
jumped from the texas to the roof, from there to the boiler 
deck, and then down through the fire and smoke, until 
he, too, reached a place of safety, although badly scorched 
and burned. 47 

In accord with his quiet, reserved nature, Doc Lame 
hardly ever commented on this episode. Some people mis- 
took this reserve for coldness, but others thought other- 
wise. When his young daughter died, he placed the fol- 
lowing poem in the newspaper, full of nineteenth century 

Sweet little Emma, 

Idol of mine, 

Gone to her rest, 

Where bright angels shine, 

Though she has left us, 

Sadly alone, 

Christ has bereft us — 

Claiming his own. 48 

Those friends who knew him well respected his nature. His 
newspaper obituary ended with typical Victorian flamboyance. 
His friends wished "most earnestly, that when he made his 
last crossing --over the dark river--he saw the signal shin- 
ing, and safely reached the shores of eternal peace. "49 
Howard Lame and Asenath had at least one surviving 
male heir, Virgil Lame. His daughter is Mrs. Harold (Betty) 
Marshall, who presently lives in Old Kane, Illinois. 


In 1874, Isaac Newton Piggott's branch of the Piggott 
family died out with no male heirs. However, Captain 
James Piggott had had six other sons who might also carry 
on his name. The most interesting son who stayed in the 
Elsah vicinity was Joseph Piggott. Like Isaac Newton, he 
moved with his mother to St. Louis in 1805 and finished his 
■ growing up there. 

His great-great grandson, Cecil Piggott, a local geneal- 
ogist, believes that Joseph "was the first of the Piggotts to 
return to Illinois. "50 For a while he resided in St. Clair 
County, where his father had last lived. Then around 1818 
he bought a farm near Old Kane. There he remained for 
several years until he heard that his brother, Isaac Newton, 
was moving to what is now Jersey County . Joseph had been 
-close to his younger brother . He decided to move down 
near him. Together they founded the small, ephemeral 
village of Eminence, high on the bluffs above the Mississippi 
River , a mile downriver from the present site of Elsah . 

As has been stated, Isaac Newton became postmaster, 
and Joseph created a ferry which ran from near Eminence 
to Portage des Sioux on the Missouri shore. 51 

On April 16, 1832, Joseph's wife, Ann Spurlock, died 
at Eminence and was buried near the village along one of 
the bluff ridges east of the village. A son, David, was also 
buried there after he died on August 29, 1852, at the age of 
twenty-six . Joseph was reported to have died in Old Kane 
on October 17, 1850, but he too was brought to Eminence 
and interred beside his wife in the Eminence graveyard. 

Cecil Piggott traces his family line through Joseph's 
son, James. During his lifetime, James had two wives. 
His first, Lucinda McDow, having died, he married Sarah 
Susan Snyder. James and Sarah had a son, Henry H. Pig- 
gott, in 1860. When Henry was twenty-seven, he married 
Mary Ann Talley, at the time sixteen years old. Their son 
was Cecil's father, George Piggott. This half of the Piggott 
family appears to have spread out in the region. Cecil Pig- 
gott now lives in Benton, Illinois. 

The first half of the family that James had with Lucinda 
McDow had several members who remained in the Elsah vi- 
cinity. James and Lucinda's son, George, was duly noted 
in the 1880 census of Elsah . Recorded as being born in 
Illinois, George Piggott was a thirty-eight year old farmer 
with five children. He had married Hannah Snyder, the 
younger sister of his father's second wife. That would 
mean, of course, that his step-mother was also his sister- 
in-law. Other records show that when George Piggott 
was twenty-two or twenty-three, he had served in the 

An archaic grooved axe-head found by Susan C. Smith on 
the field east of the Principia Knob Site (see EH # 18) . The 
artifact is now a part of the Principia College collection . 



AUGUST 1977 

Civil War. 52 

Also around this time in Elsah, another Isaac Newton 
Piggott appears in documents . No information has yet 
been turned up as to whom he is descended from . The 
original I. N. Piggott's son, Isaac Newton, died as an 
infant. Therefore, it is quite possible that this one is 
either an uncle, brother, or "close" cousin to George. 
Cecil Piggott believes that the younger I.N. Piggott 
could possibly be another son of his great-great grand- 
father, Joseph. 53 

In the 1872 atlas of Jersey County, I.N. Piggott's 
property appears to be quite widespread. He is believed 
to have lived in the farmhouse west of the Elsah cemetery. 
References are made in the McNair diary to Robert and 
William McNair 's working on a house for I.N. Piggott 
from March 26th to May 25th, 1875. William McNair some- 
times referred to him as "Newt." In 1891 the town clerk 
recorded money being dispersed to Isaac Newton for 
"streets and alleys." A present resident of Elsah, Lucy 
McDow, remembers her parents speaking of an Isaac 
Newton Piggott who worked at the Riverview Hotel with 
his wife. 54 

Although Isaac Newton Piggott was a well-known name 
around Elsah, his twenty year old son, Thomas, soon made 
a more notorious name for himself. He became, in 1887, 
a major defendent in the only attempted murder trial the 
village had had. The victim was Xavier Schneider, a highly 
respected cooper in Elsah. According to the JERSEY COUNTY 
DEMOCRAT of October 6th, 1887, the incident took place as 

Thursday night about half past seven Mr . S . went to 
the mill and was paid $354. 5C. He had in his pocket 
at the time $105. He did not return home at once as he 
is an Odd Fellow and the Lodge of Rebecca met that 
night, and being a member he attended . About 10 
o'clock he started home accompanied by some of the 
members of the lodge, among them Mr. John Reintges. 
The latter left him but a short distance from his home and 
and this is the last seen of him till he staggered into his 
home bleeding profusely from two wounds in the head. 
. . . The robbery was committed doubtless by persons 
acquainted with the place for they knew the route Mr . 
Schneider would take and had cut off some limbs from 
a tree under which he would pass that the murderer 
could get a better chance to strike him, the assassin 
standing over the fence and reaching his arm across 
the walk. 55 

Xavier Schneider recovered barely enough to talk during 
October . After he told the detectives on the case some de- 
tails, they arrested Henry Minard and Thomas Piggott. 
The case has already been written up in detail in the March, 
1974, issue of ELSAH HISTORY ("The Case of the Clobbered 
Cooper") by Leslie Yelland . One of the witnesses called 
spoke only German. Since she lived across the street from 
the scene of the incident, in the Virginia Anderson house, 
her testimony was very important, and a translator was 
brought in. In the end, both defendents were convicted. 
Xavier Schneider lived another sixteen years in ill health, 
dying on August 10th, 1905. He had never fully recovered 
from the attack. 56 


George Piggott's son, James, fared much better in Elsah 
than Thomas had. He married a young lady, Julia, in 1892, 
and settled down in the gabled house across from the present 
Elsah Landing Restaurant. Together they had three children, 
Roy (born in 1893) , Bernice, and Eunice (born in 1898) . All 
attended the Elsah school. In 1896 a child named Hannah was 
born. However, no further mention is made of her in a later 
listing of citizens. During his residence in Elsah, James 
worked as a bridge carpenter . Later James and Julia moved 
away and used the Elsah house only for weekend visits. 57 

Their son, Roy, lived by himself in the house. During 
World War I, however, Roy B . Piggott served as a private in 
the Sixth Field Artiller replacement draft. Roy made it through 
the war all right, but did not live long after . He returned to 
the same Gothic Revival house in Elsah and went to work as 
a farmer . Returning home from work one day at noon feeling 
ill, he shortly passed on. 58 

When James Piggott, the father, died, he left the Elsah 
house to his wife, Julia. Apparently, Julia must have come 
back to Elsah to live once again, for she is believed to have 
died in this house. 59 After her passing, the Gothic Revival 
house slowly deteriorated until it was on the verge of being 
condemned by the village. Several people were interested 
in buying it, but quite a few Piggott relatives had inherited 
portions of the house. No potential buyer had the time or the 
tenacity to hunt down all these owners — that is, no potential 
buyer until Mr. Alfred Mack. 

Early in 1972, Alfred Mack, a partner in the Elsah Landing 
Restaurant, began to get interested in the building . He hated 
to see the old house get torn down. Before Elsah had been 
put on the National Register for Historic Places , he had be- 
gun to dream of buying and restoring the Piggott home. 

The first job was to trace down all the owners . When 
Julia died, Alfred Mack discovered that she had left the pro- 
perty to her daughters, Mrs. Bernice Kiel and Mrs. Eunice 
London. Mrs. London passed on later without making a 
will. Half her property went to her husband, Mr. Oscar 
London, who received one fourth of the house. Her three 
children each received one twelfth. Mrs. Bernice Kiel still 
owned one half. Mr. London soon remarried. When he 
died, he left everything to his new wife, Catherine. She 
remarried a Mr . Slate and moved to Texas . Of the owners, 
she was the most difficult for Mr. Mack to locate. By 1972, 
therefore, there were five partial owners of the house. 

After some difficulties , Mr . Mack finally found all the 
heirs. Mrs. Slate, it turned out, had moved back to St. 
Louis. Within a short time, he also had gotten them all 
to agree to sell the property . The bill of sale was drawn 
up . Mack then drove each one personally to a notary pub- 
lic to have his signature authorized. 60 

All in all, the transaction took about six months in 1972. 
The house, which had been standing vacant for fifteen to 
twenty years , was ransacked between the start of the buy- 
ing process and the actual sale. Everything had been left 
where it was when Mrs . Piggott passed on . These articles 
disappeared. After the building had been bought, it was 
ransacked a second time, supposedly by the same indivi- 
duals . This time everything left in the building was taken 
away. Eventually, though, the thieves were caught, and 
most of the goods recovered . 

AUGUST 1977 



Soon after purchasing it, Alfred Mack and his wife, 
Inge, began restoring the Piggott house. They started 
at the top . Working with the help of a master carpenter , 
Mr. Macks' son, Glenn, the Macks first removed the old 
roof and had a completely new one put on . Next the 
family took off all the clapboards . Only the bare studs 
were left showing . During this stage, the house was re- 
ferred to as looking like a bird cage. You could look right 
through it. The Macks kept most of the old studs and doub- 
led them with new when necessary. This made a more so- 
lid wall. Plywood boxing was also added to strengthen 
the structure. 

Then they reframed all the windows and doors. New 
windows were made to order to match those that had been 
there before. When the house was built, the top windows 
had been two inches shorter than the bottom ones . These 
measurements were reproduced in the new house. After 
jacking up the building a few inches, they put in new 
sills. Plaster board and insulation were put in also, 
along with all the modern conveniences which our society 
is used to . 

Before the restoration, the Piggott house had been un- 
excavated. The Macks put ducts underneath. A founda- 
tion was laid for the kitchen and the garage which was 
added to the left of the house. Since this side of the house 
sat on a rock ledge, these foundations had to be dug out 
with a jackhammer. Finally, the family built a retaining 
wall to hold the hill in back of the house. Earlier in its 
history, a landslide had pushed the house off its founda- 
tions and into the street. Someone had managed to move 
it back to its original location. The new retaining wall 
should prevent this incident from recurring . 61 

When the Macks finished the restoration, they had al- 
most created a completely new house in place of the tattered 
old one. Indeed, it had cost more than most new houses 
would. It now stands as a quiet memorial to a once pro- 
minent family in Illinois and Elsah history . Perhaps it 
was a better memorial than any other Piggott house in the 
area, because it had become the center of community atten- 
tion as the Macks made their heroic efforts to save and 
beautify the dwelling . Today Mrs ."Do" Lanigan is the 
resident of the house. 

The ancestors of James and Julia Piggott had made many 
contributions to the settlement of western Illinois . The first 
member to come to Illinois, Captain James Piggott, built a 
fort, a road, and a bridge, and set up a ferry from St. Clair 
County to St. Louis. His second wife and one of his sons, 
Isaac Newton, were among the first to establish Methodism in 
western Illinois. Later Isaac Newton went on to found two new 
post offices. Together with his brother, Joseph, he devel- 
oped a short lived town, Eminence. Joseph's ferry to Mis- 
souri helped to span the river for settlers . Since then many 
other Piggotts have been prominent members of towns in the 
Elsah area. 

There are other Piggotts from Elsah who are not included 
in this paper because no information has been uncovered about 
them. These include Robert Piggott (1870-1948); Hattie Pig- 
gott, his wife (1874-1941); and Robert B. Piggott (1893-1910) . 
All are interred in the Elsah cemetery . Further information 
about local members of the family will be welcomed by His- 
toric Elsah Foundation. A fairly extensive genealogical chart 
was developed in the research on this paper and is available 
for those interested . 

Special thanks for help in developing this paper must go 
to Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Mack, Mr. Carl Baldwin, Dr. Paul 

0. Williams, Mr. Cecil Piggott, Miss Lucy McDow, Mrs. 
Eileen Smith Cunningham, and Mrs. Annetta Cronin. 


1. James Piggott, Copy of a petition to George Washington re- 
questing permission to resign his commission as captain of 
the 8th Pennsylvania regiment, undated. Found by Mrs. 
Cunningham, along with many other Piggott documents. 

2. Carl Baldwin, "James Piggott--Piggot--Piquette, " ILLI- 
1976, p. 179. 

3. Richard Elwell Banta, THE OHIO (New York: Rinehart 
and Company, 1949) , p. 152. 

4. Dr. Isaac Newton Piggott, "Historical Lecture Delivered 
Before the Literary and Historical Society of East St. Louis, 
Illinois, By Dr. Isaac N. Piggott, August 4, 1871," in L. 

Louis: C. R. Barns, 1876), pp. 95-103. 

5. Piggott in Reavis, pp. 95-103. 

6. IBID. 

7. IBID., p. 102. 

8. IBID. 

9. An Indian party had been sent to intercept these pro- 
visions and men, but they had landed too far downriver. 
The reinforcements, therefore, continued in safety. 

10. Piggott in Reavis , p . 103 . 

11. IBID, p. 97-98. Also "The Wiggins Ferry ," ST. LOUIS 
POST-DISPATCH, April 24, ? (date incomplete) . 

12. "The Wiggins Ferry . " 

13. Piggott in Reavis, p. 98. 

14. Anonymous handwritten history about Mrs. Frances 
Collard , p . 1 . Copy given to HEF . 

15. IBID. 

16. Carl Baldwin letter to Mrs. Eileen Cunningham, 
July 15, 1975. 

17. Baldwin, "James Piggott — Piggot — Piquette," p. 181. 

18. IBID. 

19. Anonymous handwritten history, p. 2. 

20. Baldwin, "James Piggott— Piggot— Piquette," p. 183. 



AUGUST 1977 

21. IBID., p. 181. 

22. IBID., p. 182. 

23. Cora Jones Heltzell, CITY OF MY LOVE, ST. LOUIS, 
p. 2. 

24. Baldwin, "James Piggott— Piggot— Piquette," p. 182. 

25. Widow's Pension for Sarah Piggott, Pension Bureau, 
Department of the Interior, United States Federal Govern- 
ment, March 9, 1878. 

26. Heltzell, p. 4. This story is probably somewhat in- 
accurate since a scalp which has been completely taken 
and is missing cannot be sewn back on. Perhaps the 
man had been severely cut. 

27. Robert T. Brock, "Early Methodism in Illinois," 
single separate sheet. 

28. "A Glance Backward, Historical Reminiscences Ex- 
changed at the First Methodist Church Reunion, " ST . 

29. Unidentified newspaper clipping from the Greene 
County Historical Society Collection, "The Fourth of 
July, 1823," undated. 

30. Unidentified newspaper clipping from the Greene 
County Historical Society collection, "Death Recalls 
Episode of 1824, Mrs. Lame was Daughter of Rev. 
Piggott, Opponent of Gov . Carlin," undated. 

31. IBID. 

32. IBID. 

33 . Unidentified newspaper clipping from the Greene 
County Historical Society collection, "First Jersey 
Postoffice Located in Elsah Township, " Jerseyville, 
Illinois, September 29, ? (date incomplete) . 

34. IBID. 

42. IBID. 

43. Isaac Newton Piggott, FAMILY RECORD. 

44. JERSEY COUNTY ATLAS (Davenport, Iowa: 
Andreas, Lyter, SCo., 1872), pp. 60-61. 

45. "Hon. Robert T. Brock," ST. LOUIS GLOBE- 
DEMOCRAT, May 5, 1895. 

46. Robert T. Brock, FAMILY BIBLE. 

47. Unidentified newspaper clipping from the Greene 
County Historical Society collection, "Howard G. Lame," 

48. Unidentified newspaper clipping from the Greene 
County Historical Society collection, undated . The 
clipping is pasted to a piece of stationery marked: 
Everett House, St. Louis, Dec. 18th, 1875, Mr. Vir- 
gil T. Lame. According to Mrs. Eileen Smith Cunning- 
ham, this poem appeared in the ST . LOUIS JOURNAL, 
September 30, 1873. 

49. Unidentified newspaper clipping from the Greene 
County Historical Society collection, "Howard G. Lame." 

50. Cecil Piggott letter to Mrs. Cunningham, undated 
(approximately November, 1976) . 

51 . IBID . 

52. Cecil Piggott letter to Mrs. Cunningham, January 22, 

53. Cecil Piggott letter to Paul O. Williams, February 28 
1977, p. 1. 

54. Lucy McDow interview of January 22, 1977. 

55. Leslie Yelland, "The Case of the Clobbered Cooper," 
ELSAH HISTORY, Number 8 (March 1974) , p. 2. Quota- 
tion from the JERSEY COUNTY DEMOCRAT, October 6 

35. Legal allegation of the financial state of the Eminence 56. IBID. , p. 7. 
and Newbern post offices, undated. 

57. Alfred Mack interview of January 16 1977 

36. Unidentified newspaper clipping from the Greene 
County Historical Society collection, "The First Legal 
Hanging in Greene County," undated. 

37. IBID. 

38. IBID. 

39. IBID. 

40. IBID. 

41 . Unidentified newspaper clipping from the Greene 
County Historical Society collection," Mrs . Dr. Piggott's 
Death," December ?, 1881. 

Between Powder Mill Hollow and Chautauqua, a mussell 
sheller at work in the Mississippi. Many shellers work 
in the Illinois River between Hardin and Grafton. 

AUGUST 1977 



58. Lucy McDow interview. 

59. IBID. 

60. Alfred Mack interview. 

61. IBID. 

/Ed. Note: Anyone scanning the documentation above will 
notice a great many references to unidentified material. 
Almost without exception this is material turned up by Mrs. 
Eileen Smith Cunningham in her indefatigable researches 
and generously lent to HEF for copying . As is so frequently 
the case, the newspaper clippings testify to the imperfect 
historical methods of whatever family member originally 
cut them from their identifiable source. For the benefit of 
future historians, all clippings should be identified at least 
by some marginal notation so their source and date can be 
recovered later . 

In addition to these houses, Glenn and Judy Felch's 
Ailsa Craig gallery, behind River view House, was open, 
as were the Elsah Landing Restaurant, the Village Hall 
and the Civic Center, both of Elsah's churches, the Joy- 
ous Junques Antique Shop, and the Buggy House Rock 
Shop of the Robertsons. 

Too many deserve credit and thanks for the work on 
the house tour to single any out without the danger of 
leaving out the acknowledgement of significant work. Per- 
haps the assiduous parking crew, headed by Ed Lewitz, 
deserves special mention for their heroic efforts to acco- 
modate the great numbers of cars. 

Surely the publicity afforded by a news spot on the 
Dick Ford show, Channel 5, at 6: 30 p .m. on May 3rd, 
is to be credited with bringing many people from St. 
Louis to the tour . 

HEF is very grateful for all the help of its many workers . 

House Tour 

HEF's Mother's Day house tour was the most success- 
ful to date,, with a large crowd of visitors totalling around 
1,8000. Able coordination by Mrs. Mary Ann Pitchford, 
and work by a large number of able and faithful workers , 
resulted in a fairly smooth handling of the large crowd. 

Houses open on the tour included the large brick 
home of Ned and Paula Bradley, the stone cottage formerly 
owned by Mrs. Josephine Copeland, the Frances Grayson 
brick house on Palm Street, the Methodist parsonage re- 
cently restored by Mike and Mary Ann Pitchford, the Ro- 
. bertsen house on Valley Street, the former McNair home 
on Mill Street restored by Charles and Jeralyn Hosmer, 
the former Farley home at Mill and Maple, recently re- 
furbished by Ray and Blanche Darnell, and the Irina 
Azar home on Mill Street, a home for many years that of 
the Mandorca family . 

Chris Hagenlocher and Chris Lindgren selling softdrinks 
at the Mother's Day house tour. 


News Notes 

It is difficult to think of Elsah without John Wanamaker, 
who has been associated with the village for so many years . 
His retirement from the Principia College biology depart- 
ment, in June, to his home in Idyllwild, California, would 
seem to mark the end of the presence of a Wanamaker in 

However, his influence for good will still be felt. 
"Doc," as he was generally known, was very generous in 
leaving Elsah, turning over all the furnishings of his apart- 
ment for sale by HEF as a donation. This sale was held 
during the third week in August, and the proceeds to HEF 
came to $1,825. This contribution is to be used for the re- 
| storation of the interior of the old Village Hall, as well as 
for other restoration work on the hall . The Wanamaker 
influence will continue in many ways in Elsah . We are 
particularly grateful for this one. 

One house on the tour was the former Jo Copeland house HEF . S new pamp hlet, JEREMIAH'S ELSAH, edited by 

across from the Village Hall. This house has been pur- Gail Samek and Brian McC auley , is being currently re- 

chased by Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Semple. Mr. Semple is a leased. Composed of newspaper reports written from 

first cousin, twice removed, of General James Semple, foun- Elsah a hundred years ago, it gives a particularly graphic 
der of Elsah. This means that they shared the same great- 
great grandfather. 



AUGUST 1977 

picture of life in the village from the point of view of a 
real midwestern humorist with a vivid sense of life. 
Look for the flyer in this issue. 

According to a Decatur, Illinois, newspaper of Sun- 
day, May 15, 1977, attempts have been made by people 
in the St. Louis area, including Principia College, to 
acquire the Frederick Oakes Sylvester painting, "As 
the Sowing, the Reaping," which hung in the Stephen 
Decatur High School. 

The painting was a donation of the high school classes 
of 1909 and 1911. Sylvester had visited the city in 1909, and 
was much admired by art patrons there. The painting ori- 
ginally cost $300, but by 1937 it was valued at $60,000. 

When the high school was recently razed, the paint- 
ing was taken from the wall and permanently loaned to 
the North Fork Museum. 

The painting depicts a portion of the Elsah river bluffs 
as seen from farmland on the Missouri shore. 


The ALTON TELEGRAPH for August 13, 1977 devotes 
its entire "Back Page" to historic districts in Alton. Three 
sections of the city, Middletown, Christian Hill, and Upper 
Alton, have been nominated for inclusion on the National 
Register of Historic Places . Closest to Elsah is the Chris- 
tian Hill district, which includes much of the old section 
of Alton west of Belle Street near the river in the vicinity 
of the Peavey flour mills . 





Controversy regarding the Alton Locks and Dam continues, 
especially with regard to the user's fees. Bargaining and pro- 
posals shift too rapidly for HEF to give a report on the issue. 
Some time back, after previous remarks on the issue, HEF 
received a letter from member Richard Worthen, who is also 
a member of the Sierra Club. Mr. Worthen lists a number of 
disadvantage to allowing the United States Army Corps of 
Engineers to build the dam they propose. While some of these 
predictions are based on the assumption that a twelve-foot 
channel would be established, Mr. Worthen nonetheless pre- 
dicts that the continued buildup of traffic in any case will 
produce the spread of barge tie-ups like Alton's at Norman's 
Landing well up the river toward Elsah. 

HEF is grateful for a contribution of $100 from Mrs. 
Kenneth Bechtel, of Kentfield, California, 

The UNION ELECTRIC NEWS, an in-house folder, 
contains recognition for the work done by Mike and 
Mary Ann Pitchford in coordinating the Mother's Day 
House Tour and putting their house on the tour. 
This appears in Volume 35, Number 6, the issue for 
June, 1977. It contains pictures of the exterior and 
the interior of the Pitchford home, with the couple, 
and text about their restoration of the home. 

As of June, 1977, Paul O. Williams resigned from the 
board of HEF to concentrate his efforts on the editing of 
its publications . 

HEF has a small supply of publications that frequently 
come into demand. Below is a listing of available mater- 

ELSAH HISTORY: Numbers 1, 3, 6, 7, 10-13, and 15-19 
are available at 25 cents each, plus 15 cents postage if the 
copy is to be mailed . 

#1 THE MAYBECK PILOT at 25 cents, plus 15 cents 
postage. This publication outlines the designing and 
building of the Principia College campus by famous 
California architect, Bernard Maybeck. 

#2 ELSAH CITIZENS at 50 cents, plus 20 cents post- 
age. This publication is chiefly of interest to local gen- 
ealogists . It consists of listings of 19th century Elsah 
citizens , including a complete roster of the stones in 
the Elsah graveyard. This has proved to be one of the 
most useful research tools HEF has developed . 

#3 ELSAH BLUFF PRAIRIES, by Marilyn Bland, at 
75 cents, plus 20 cents postage. This study of the uni- 
que ecosystems of the bluff prairies in the Elsah area 
is both scientifically accurate and fascinating . 

Percival Robertson, at $1.50, postpaid. Professor 
Emeritus Robertson examines the geology of the 
Elsah area and its fossil remains . Included is a key to 
the various formations one encounters in a drive on the 
River Road from Alton to Pere Marquette State Park. 

William Fabian, at $2, postpaid. This is the most com- 
prehensive history ever done of our neighboring com- 
munity of Chautauqua. 

Charles B. Hosmer, Jr., and Paul O. Williams. This 
guide to buildings and history of Elsah was awarded 
a certificate of commendation by the American Associ- 
ation for State and Local History and has long been an 
aid to visitors to Elsah . Copies have been sent to al- 
most all the states and some far regions of the world . 
So far it is the most comprehensive history of Elsah. 


Postcards of Riverview House, with the old road entrant 
at 10 cents each, plus postage, unless sent with other 
items . 

Sylvester souvenir, showing a full -color reproduction 
of a F. O. Sylvester riverscape with information inside, 
at 25 cents, plus 10 cents postage. 
Notepaper: A fine Elsah composite scene on 5 differ- 
ent pastel note folders with matching envelopes . A 
good gift, or a good stationery for short notes to 
friends. $1.25, plus postage if necessary.