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Full text of "History of Vermilion County, Illinois : a tale of its evolution, settlement, and progress for nearly a century"

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Author of "Decisive Dates in Illinois History" 







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COMERS OF 1839 148 





















TIME 197 










1831 OF 1832 OF 1833 OF 1834 OF 1835 OF 1836 OF 1837 OF 1838 


DAUGHTERS OF 1840 OF 184! OF 1842 OF 1843 OF 1844 OF 1845 OF 

1846 OF 1847 F Z 848 OF 1849 228 



























THE BENCH AND BAR THE FEDERAL COURT .................. 315 





CIRCULATION - CLASSIFIED CONTENTS IN IQIO .......................... 338 




THE VERMILION COUNTY PRESS ................................ 359 


THE POSTOFFICE IN DANVILLE .................................. 367 



THE G. A. R 37i 


THE D. A. R 374 



























Vermilion County, as such, has been known less than a hundred years. 

The territory now known as Vermilion County had been recognized by the 
civilized world as a part of variously named lands for a century and a half pre- 
vious to its organization as a county of the great state of Illinois. 

First it was as a part of the "Country of the Illini," or maybe the "Valley of 
the Oubache;" then, successively as the "Illinois Country," "New France," the 
"British Domain," the "Illinois County of Virginia," "the Northwest Territory," 
the "Indiana Territory," the "Illinois Territory" and at last, as a county of the 
state of Illinois. 

Each name involves a different story, and although permanent occupation by 
the white man did not begin until after it became a part of the state of Illinois, 
yet the beginning of the history of Vermilion County, must be sought in the 
beginning of the history of the territory of which it is a part. 

The account of the beginning of any section of the United States, east of the 
Alleghany Mountains is sought in the founding of Jamestown, the landing of the 
Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, the discovery of the great river by Henry Hudson, 
or, it may be, the building of old St. Augustine. 


A study of the lives and service of John Winthrop, William Bradford, Capt. 
John Smith, Jacob Eelkin, and William Penn, becomes imperative that necessary 
sidelights be thrown upon the picture of any locality along the Atlantic coast. 
lAkid behind these lives, the influence of their old homes, whence they had 
emigrated, lies strong, so that their story must include the tale of Great Britain, 
Holland, and even Spain in the seventeenth century. Such is not, however, 
the necessity in investigating the beginnings of the history of any section in the 
Mississippi valley. Early explorations and settlements did not come from the 
nations which colonized the eastern coast. It was a century after the Mississippi 
was known to the white man before Great Britain, Holland, or Spain knew much 
of its fertile valley. A different nation than any of these discovered, explored, 
and, in a way, colonized this section, and claimed it for its own. 

When Columbus discovered the new world, in the last decade of the fifteenth 
century, the pope decreed that Spain should have possession as far as forty 
degrees north latitude. Now Columbus did not discover the mainland of the 
continent ; that honor was left to the Englishman, John Cabot, a few years later. 
Consequently, Great Britain claimed the western continent. The king of Great 
Britain, being a Protestant, ignored the claim made by Spain because of the 
authority of the pope, and made a grant of land in America to the London 
company, which included six degrees already accorded the other nation by papal 

All grants of land in America made, stated that the territory included between 
the two oceans was given, yet neither the king who made them nor the men who 
received them, had correct ideas of the extent of the territory. The Alleghany 
mountains presented a barrier which time and exploration alone could level and 
show the extent of country beyond. Great Britain busied herself building homes 
and establishing institutions in New England and Virginia; Holland contented 
herself with the strip of country along the Hudson river, for a century and more, 
unconscious of the possibilities of the country beyond the mountains; Spain 
had been active in exploring the new world, but her object being the acquisition 
of wealth, of itself, defeated any permanent possession of the land. 

During the sixteenth century Spain discovered, conquered, and might have 
to some extent colonized, a large portion of inland America. Indeed, she laid 
claim to the vast domain from Colorado to Buenos Ayres, extending from sea 
to sea. Her insatiate search for gold made her push to the north and northwest, 
leaving fertile plains for the Rocky mountains which might hold the coveted 
treasure. This was the direction of colonization of America by three of the 
great powers of Europe, in the early part of the seventeenth century: Great 
Britain on a strip along the Atlantic coast, Holland along the Hudson river, and 
Spain in South America, Mexico, New Mexico, and toward the Pacific coast. 

France was a powerful nation of Europe at that time. She was neither 
disinterested nor idle in her explorations of the New World. Catholic France 
recognized the claim of Spain because of the decree of the pope, to forty degrees 
north latitude, and so directed her explorations north of that limit. Thus 
France discovered and profited by the valuable fisheries and fur trade of the 
north. In 1534 Jacques Cartier discovered the St. Lawrence river. This gave 
France a valid claim to it. Early in the next century, Samuel de Champlain 


established New France there, by building Quebec. Two motives combined to 
further the extension of New France; one was the wealth in the fur trade and 
the other, the religious zeal of the Frenchman and his love for his church. The 
common spirit of the times was a love of adventure. This spirit took the hardy 
Frenchman further and further into the wilderness, even to the region of the 
Great Lakes. Wherever the explorer and trader went, he was accompanied by 
the priest, so that by a little after the middle of the seventeenth century, missions 
were established as far west as Lake Superior. 

In about 1634, Jean Nicolet was sent upon an embassy from Quebec to the 
Winnebago Indians near the heart of Green Bay, to secure their trade. Thirty- 
seven years later, Sieur de St. Lusson Jean Talon, the Intendent of New France, 
through his deputy, formally took possession in the name of the king of France, 
of "Sainte Marie du Sault, as also Lakes Huron and Superior, the Manitoulin 
Islands, and all the countries, lakes, rivers and streams contiguous or adjacent 
thereto." In this way New France extended westward and as a matter of course 
it fell to France to discover and explore the Mississippi river ; that great, as yet, 
unknown waterway which ran through the heart of 'the continent, and at the 
same time to find the promising country of the Illini. 

Although some knowledge, more or less vague, of the great river came to the 
missionaries and traders who had penetrated the wilderness, there was little 
definite information concerning it until, in a letter which he wrote to his 
superior while in charge of the mission at Chequamegon Bay in 1668, Father 
James Marquette made mention of it. This letter was written from the mission 
called La Point du Esprit, or Mission of the Holy Ghost, and is preserved in the 
Jesuit Relations for 1669 and 1670, and reads in part as follows: "When the 
Illini came to the Point (meaning to Chequamegon Bay where these Indians 
came to trade) they passed a great river which is almost a league in width. 
It flows from north to south and is so great a distance that this tribe, who know 
little of the use of the canoe, have never as yet, heard of its mouth. * * * 
"It is hardly probable that this great river discharges itself in Virginia. We are 
more inclined to believe that it has its mouth in California." The report of a 
great waterway, as yet unknown to the civilized world, came at a time when the 
idea of a direct and quick route to the Indies had not been abandoned. That this 
unknown waterway might be the coveted connection with the far East, was 
probably the great incentive to the exploration of the Mississippi river at this 
time. The government at Paris and at Quebec decided that the exploration should 
be delayed no longer. To this end, Sieur Louis Joliet was commissioned to go 
upon this expedition and Father Dablon appointed Father Jacques Marquette, 
the zealous priest at the Mission of the Holy Ghost, to accompany him. It was 
not a large expedition so far as numbers constitute size, which was sent. Two 
canoes were manned, each with an Indian oarsman and taking an Indian guide, 
these two Frenchmen set out to explore the unknown river. Courage and zeal 
were needed for this undertaking, and the two men chosen were indeed brave 
and zealous. 

A letter written by Count Frontenac, Governor of Quebec, to M. Colbert, 
Minister of the Navy at Paris, described Sieur Louis Joliet as a man of great 
experience in these sorts of discoveries, who already has been almost to that 


river, the mouth of which he promises to see. Joliet had previous to this time 
made several discoveries, among them being that of Lake Erie. Louis Joliet 
was a man of much learning, having been educated for a priest ; but his lore of 
adventure had proven stronger than his love of study and his interest in the 
life and affairs of the Indian deeper than either, so that life in the wilderness 
had lured the monk from the cloister. 

Father Jacques Marquette, the devout and zealous priest, makes his own 
record, that upon receiving his appointment to accompany Joliet he was "enrap- 
tured at the good news of seeing my design on the point of being accomplished, 
and myself in the happy necessity of exposing my life for the salvation of all 
these nations, and particularly for the salvation of the Illini who had very 
earnestly entreated me to carry the word of God to their country." 

These "Illini" were among the different tribes of Indians who traded at 
the Mission of the Holy Ghost on Lake Superior, of which Father Marquette 
had charge as he wrote concerning the Mississippi river. It is to this religious 
fervor that the country north of the Ohio river and east of the Mississippi 
river is indebted for being made known to the civilized world at this time. It 
is true that the interests of trade determined this expedition to a great extent, 
yet it would hardly have been accomplished had it not been for the enthusiasm 
of the men to carry the privileges of their church to the benighted heathen. 

The devout priest who was seeking the salvation of the souls of the redmen 
to the glory of his church, had braved every personal danger in pushing across 
the wilderness to the Great Lakes, and it was one of these men who says he 
"was enraptured at the opportunity for 'exposing his life' in this continued 

Unlike any other country, America has been conquered by the cross, rather 
than the sword. Freedom to worship God according to the dictates of his 
conscience brought the Puritan to the eastern coast ; a desire to save the souls of 
the native, led the Jesuit priests into the wilderness of the Mississippi valley. 
Joliet and Marquette met at the Mission of St. Ignatius, at Michilimakinac. 
Marquette had two years previous to this time established this Mission of St. 
Ignatius. It was not on the Island of Mackinac, but on the point of land west 
of the island, extending from the north shore into the strait. The place is now 
called Point St. Ignace. Here the two men made ready for their journey. On 
May 17, 1673, they left the Mission of St. Ignatius and crossed Lake Michigan 
to the mouth of the Fox river. Ascending this stream as far as it was navigable, 
they carried their canoes across to the Wisconsin river. This carrying place, or 
portage as the French called it, is now marked by Portage City, in Wisconsin. 
Rowing down the Wisconsin river this little party found themselves entering 
the Mississippi river the first white men upon the upper waters of the mighty 
stream. Their delight is told by Marquette in his Journal as "a joy I can not 

De Soto had discovered the Mississippi river near its mouth, one hundred 
and thirty odd years before this time, but as yet Spain had neglected to take 
advantage of the discovery. Joliet and Marquette, with their Indian oarsmen and 
guide, explored the river to within a ten days' journey of its mouth, encountering 
various adventures. When they reached a point at about a league from the 


mouth of the Arkansas river, they were satisfied with what they had learned 
about the great waterway and retraced their steps. They had found that the 
Mississippi river did not lead through Virginia nor yet into California, but 
into the Gulf of Mexico. They had also satisfied themselves that it was not the 
much sought quick way to the Orient. 

Returning up the Mississippi, Marquette became too ill to proceed, so they 
left their boats at the mouth of the Illinois river. Taking the advice of the 
natives when they were ready to continue their journey, they took the quicker 
route, going up that river. This change in their plans brought them within the 
boundaries of what is now the state of Illinois. The coming into this territory 
is the beginning of authentic history of the commonwealth of which Vermilion 
County is a part. Marquette makes record of this journey up the Illinois river by 
saying- : "We had seen nothing like this river for the fertility of its land, its 
prairies, wood, wild cattle, stag, deer, swan, ducks, parrots and even beaver; 
its many lakes and rivers." 

The vast stretch of prairie over which the eye roamed to the sky line, with its 
waving grass, presented a picture as beautiful and as awe-inspiring as must have 
been the outlook to the pilgrims in mid-ocean or the first sight of the Great Lakes 
to the white man. The soft sunshine, the gentle breeze, burdened with the 
fragrance of innumerable flowers, the gay winged insects, the water fowl, the 
singing birds, all lent charm to the scene. The buffalo and deer, not yet having 
been taught to fear the white man, came to the river's brink to satisfy their 
thirst. It was indeed a goodly land to look upon. These explorers ascended the 
Illinois river to where Peoria is now located where they found the large Indian 
village of Kaskaskia. Here they paused, and Father Marquette established a 
mission among the Indians. This mission, after more than two and a quarter 
centuries, yet exists, having been moved when the village was moved, to near the 
mouth of the Kaskaskia (Okaw) river. The Mississippi river changed its course, 
so that Kaskaskia is now an island in its waters, completely cut off from the 
Illinois shore. But the mission established by Marquette, remains the same in 
name and location. 

Joliet and Marquette parted company after they left the village of Kaskaskia 
and Joliet returned directly to Quebec, where he made his report of the expedition, 
telling the direction and extent of the Mississippi river, as well as telling of the 
Illini country. The civilized world first learned through this report of the exist- 
ence of this great waterway, and of the fertile land in the heart of the new 
continent. The later explorations of Joliet, or missionary work of Marquette, 
in no way influences the section whose history is here being given. The glowing 
report of Joliet aroused public interest which crystalized into the subsequent 
plans of La Salle, who with the invincible Tonti, explored the Mississippi to its 
mouth a few years later and formally declared the entire Mississippi valley a 
part of France. The plans of La Salle included a chain of forts from Quebec 
to New Orleans. To this end he fortified Fort St. Louis (now known by the 
name of Starved Rock) and also attempted to plant colonies at the Gulf and, 
but for his untimely death, might have built a permanent New France in 


The New France, as recognized, included the vast domain north of the Ohio 
river and east of the Mississippi river. This territory is often spoken of as the 
country of the Illinois or the Illini, but in reality the country of the Illini was 
restricted on the east by that ridge which divides the tributaries of the Illinois 
river from those of the Wabash river. Such being the case, that territory now 
known as Vermilion County was never a part of the country of the Illini, and 
only in a general way, as being a part of the country north of the Ohio river 
and east of the Mississippi, seeks the beginning of its history in the discoveries 
of Joliet and Marquette. In truth Vermilion County is a part of the Wabash 
valley, belonged to the Wabash country, and must look for its early history in 
the story of that section. 

Four years before the exploration of Joliet and Marquette, it is said, La Salle 
set out from Montreal upon an expedition into the far country to the southwest. 
Unfortunately, the account of this journey is among the records that have been 
lost since the middle of the eighteenth century. No official account can now be 
found of the two years following La Salle's leaving Montreal, upon this, his 
first journey. There is a memorandum in existence which states that "after 
leaving Lake Erie six or seven leagues distant, he came to a stream which he 
descended to the River Ohio," but no mention is made of the name of this stream. 
It is, however, highly probable that it was along the historic Wabash (or Oubache, 
as the Indians called that river) , that La Salle made his way to the Ohio. Later, 
the French had a favored route from Lake Erie, via the Maumee and Wabash 
rivers to the Ohio river. 

Granted that La Salle paddled his canoe down the Wabash river in 1669, 
and, by the right of discovery, has the prior claim to this section, and that the 
Wabash valley was made known through records now lost, conditions here 
remain about the same. La Salle's discovery made the Wabash valley a part of 
the same government as had claim to the Illinois country through the explorations 
of the Mississippi river by Joliet and Marquette. 

The later exploration of the Mississippi river by La Salle himself, following 
in the lead of Joliet and Marquette, put this entire country of the Mississippi 
valley into New France, and the only question arises is whether history of the 
section which embraces what is now called Vermilion County, Illinois, begins 
in 1669, when La Salle is supposed to have discovered the Wabash valley, or in 
1673 when Joliet and Marquette are known to have discovered the Illinois 
country, or yet later, in 1680 when La Salle formally took possession of the 
country drained by the great Mississippi river in the name of the king of France. 
But it matters little whether this section belonged to the careless monarch, 
whose interests in New France it was impossible to arouse, a few years sooner 
or later, for what possible effect could it have had upon the people whose homes 
were here at that time? What cared the dusky subjects who roamed the banks 
of the Vermilion and its tributaries, fought others of their race because of real or 
fancied wrongs, whether or not far away an indifferent France did or did not 
own the soil during this decade in the seventeenth century ! 

The journey down the Wabash must have been similar to that made by Joliet 
and Marquette, up the Illinois. Vast forests lined the banks, beyond which the 
grass waved on the Wea Plains and other prairies of Indiana. Singing birds in 


the tree tops, wild game coming in places to the river's brink, the ripple of the 
placid stream all were the counterpart of that other journey made with the 
Lilies of France unfurled to the breeze of the new West on the Illinois river. 

Whether Vermilion County, as a part of the state of Illinois, or a part of the 
Wabash Valley, was first explored, the fact is undisputed, it owes its discovery 
to the French and was made known to the civilized world through the records 
of the French government. 











When the Western Continent was discovered a new race of people was found. 
As the eastern coast was explored and colonized the natives proved to be quite 
similar, differing when at all, in degree of appearance and characteristics. Be- 
cause the discovery of America was made, in although a futile yet an earnest 
search for a shorter route to India, these natives were called Indians. Later, 
when it was learned that a new country instead of India had been found, the 
natives were distinguished by the name of American Indians. This new race 
was found to inhabit the entire new land from the Gulf of Mexico to the country 
north of the Great Lakes, and from the Atlantic ocean to the Mississippi river, 
and westward to the Rocky mountains. 

In appearance the people of this newly found race were pleasing. They were 
tall, straight and well proportioned; of a copper-colored skin, long coarse and 
perfectly straight hair; strong features with high cheek-bones, and had black, 
piercing, expressive eyes. Bodily deformity was unknown and, until they adopted 
the vices of the Europeans, but little diseases prevailed among them. They had 
vigorous constitutions and astonishing powers of endurance. 

One writer in the early times who had lived with them, summed up their 
characteristics in these words: "They were indolent, taciturn, and unsocial; 
brave and sometimes generous in war; unflinching under bodily torture; re- 
vengeful, treacherous, and morose when injured or offended ; not always grateful 
for favors ; grave and sagacious in council ; often eloquent in speech ; sometimes 
warm and constant in friendship, and occasionally courteous and polite." 

While the American Indian from Florida to the Rocky mountains spoke a 
variety of dialects, there were, perhaps, not more than eight radically distinct 



languages among them. All the races were more or less nomadic in their habits, 
yet each tribe had its own territory as a habitat. The migration of the American 
Indian was from the west to the east, and generally, with a tendency toward a 
southern direction. The white man came into America and went from the east 
to the west ; the red man went from the west to the east. 

Nothing is really known of the origin of the race all theories so far 
advanced lacked satisfactory substantiation, and become but conjecture. One 
fact alone remains undisputed, and that is the direction whence they came. In 
most of the tribes there was a legend, handed down from one generation to 
another of "having come from the shore of the great sea, far to the setting 
sun," without doubt meaning the Pacific ocean. As the white man explored 
the territory east of the Mississippi river, two great families of Indians were 
found. These families were known as the Algonquins and the Iroquois. They 
in turn were divided into many tribes or clans, each with a different name. 
These two families were to the white man, apparently, distinct people. They 
were antagonistic, and irrevocably sworn enemies. While the Algonquins were 
the more numerous, the Iroquois were the dominant nation. This, according to 
Indian tradition, had not always been the case, however. Long before the 
Europeans came to the new world, the Iroquois were a peaceful people. Their 
principal village was on the northern side of the lakes about where Montreal 
is now situated. They made "the planting of corn their business," and were 
under a sort of subjection to the Adirondacks. Adirondack was the Iroquois 
name for Algonquin, and was supposed to be the source of all the tribes con- 
sidered a part of the Algonquin family. The habitat of the Adirondacks sur- 
rounded the village of the Iroquois. Naturally the Adirondacks despised the 
Iroquois who had as their business, work "fit only for women." The Adirondacks 
delighted in the more manly employment of hunting, and going to war with 
other tribes. 

As time went by, however, the game grew scarce and wandered further, and 
was more difficult to get and the Adirondacks felt the need of help from the 
young men of the Iroquois. So they induced these peaceable people to join them 
in the chase. An unforseen condition arose. The young Iroquois became more 
expert than their teachers in the hunt and showed a greater power of endurance 
of fatigue. This aroused the hatred of the Adirondacks, and one night they 
murdered the young men of the Iroquois whom they had with them. The chief 
of the Iroquois complained but they were treated with contempt. The Adiron- 
dacks had no fear of the Iroquois, thinking they were but "as women." At last 
the Iroquois were aroused to action and they determined upon revenge. The 
Adirondacks hearing this, declared war. The Iroquois were defeated, and forced 
from their country to the south side of the Lakes. Here they ever afterward 
lived, but they were a changed people. They had learned to fight, and in time 
they became a powerful nation. They formed a strong confederacy afterward 
called the Five and later the Six Nations. Their habitat was through what is now 
the State of New York. Living as they did in the midst of their old enemies, 
the Adirondacks, they yet became their conquerors. The Iroquois went east 
into New England, and west as far as the "Country of the Illini," subjugating 


other tribes from whom they constantly exacted tribute. The Iroquois have 
fittingly been called the "Romans of the Western World." 

The Algonquins, through their various tribes, inhabited the vast territory now 
included in all of Canada, New England, a part of New York and Pennsylvania, 
all of the States of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, eastern 
North Carolina north of Cape Fear, a large portion of Kentucky, and Tennessee, 
and all north and west of these States, east of the Mississippi river. 

The early settlers of New England, the Dutch coming to the Hudson river, 
and the French discovering the St. Lawrence river, all found the Algonquins in 
possession of this part of the country. Those on the Hudson river early were 
made subject to the Iroquois. When Champlain established Quebec, he found 
the Algonquins very friendly. They were as usual making ready to fight their 
perpetual enemy, the Iroquois. Champlain taught them the use of the white 
man's arms and himself led them to victory in a memorable battle on the lake 
since called by his name. This act, simple as it seemed in itself, determined the 
history of America. The undying hatred of the French, on the part of the 
Iroquois, was aroused. They became the perpetual enemy of the Frenchman and 
all of his friends, and interests. Through their compact with the Dutch, which 
was inherited by their conquerors, the English, the Iroquois were always sworn 
to the interests of Great Britain, and were ever their allies. They held themselves 
a steady barrier to French invasion of New England, and were an aid to the 
colonies on the coast. On the other hand, the Algonquins were as loyal friends 
to the French, and their good will made the exploration of the representatives 
of this nation westward possible and their possession of the Mississippi Valley 
a matter of course. 

The territory now known as Vermilion County, Illinois, was the home of the 
confederacies of the Algonquin family called the Miamis, with later the Kicka- 
poos, and Pottowatomies, with temporary occupancy by scattered bands of 
Shawnees and Delawares. The eastern limit of the possessions of the Illini was 
the ridge which divides the waters of the tributaries of the Illinois river from 
those of the Wabash river. The Miami Confederacy is the earliest known 
occupant of this section of country. The Miamis were without doubt origi- 
nally a branch of the great Illinois Nation. Their claim to relationship of 
the two made by earliest writers is agreed to by no less authority than Gen. 
William Henry Harrison, whose long official connection with both the Illinois and 
the Miamis, gives his theories great weight. 

The separation of the tribes which took place before the white man explored 
the upper Mississippi river, and by the time of occupancy seemed to be com- 
plete. This separation was, indeed so complete that in the wars waged against 
the Illini by the Iroquois, the Sacs and Foxes, and other enemies, the Miamis 
never made offer of assistance, yet there were the best of reasons to believe they 
were one family originally. Their language, manners and customs were so 
nearly identical, that little doubt can exist that they were at one time the same 
nation. According to their own tradition, the Miamis and the Illinois as well, 
came, originally, from the Pacific ocean. Their first permanent stopping place 
of which the white man has knowledge, was at the Des Moines river. Here they 
separated. The migrations of the Miamis from the west of the Mississippi 


river eastward, can be followed readily through the mass of records handed 
down from the missionaries, travelers and officers connected with the French. 
Their travel extended through what is now Wisconsin, and northern Illinois 
around the southern end of Lake Michigan, to Detroit and thence up the Maumee 
river and down the Wabash river and eastward through Indiana, and Ohio as 
far as the Great Miami river. 

Father Claude Dablon made a visit to a Miami village on the Fox river 
in 1670, and writes of the natives in a letter preserved in the Jesuit Relations of 
1670 and 1671. He calls them the "Oumaimi, one of the Illinois Nation, which 
is, as it were, dismembered from the others in order to dwell in these quarters." 
He describes the Miami chief in these words : "The physiogomy of the chief, 
Telmchonia, was as mild and as attractive as any one could desire to see, and, 
while his reputation as a warrior, was great, his features bore a softness which 
charmed all those who beheld him. He never spoke to his subjects, but imparted 
his orders through some of his officers." This pen picture of a man whose 
subjects, and maybe relatives, lived in this section of country where we now 
have our homes, is interesting to us, but must not confuse us into thinking his 
people were without the well known characteristics of the savage of the plains. 

The Miami Confederacy consisted of the Miamis proper, the Weas, and the 
Piankeshaws. This confederacy was known to the Iroquois and was often 
called "Twight-wees" by them. 

The Miamis proper are known to have been at what is now the city of 
Fort Wayne, in charge of the portage at that place, as early as 1699, and a few 
years later the Weas are described as having their fort and cultivated fields on 
the plains below what is now the city of LaFayette, in Indiana. This section 
is even yet known as the Wea plains. 

When the French first explored the Wabash river, they found the Pianke- 
shaws in possession of the land on either side of that stream from its mouth to 
the Vermilion river. A part, at least, of this territory, was ceded to the Dela- 
wares, who, in turn, in 1804, made a session of it to the United States. 

From the time the white man came into this country of the Illini (or Illinois) 
its eastern limit was known to be the ridge which divides the waters flowing into 
the Illinois river from the streams which drain into the Wabash river. This 
same ridge was the western limit of the country of the Miamis. 

There is no room for doubt that the earliest proprietors of the territory which 
is now Vermilion County, were the Miamis, or, to be yet more explicit, the first 
people known to have owned these fields and streams, these prairies and timber, 
belonged to the Piankeshaw tribe, of the Miami Confederacy. The superior 
number of the Miamis and their great valor enabled them to extend the limit 
of their hunting grounds eastward into Ohio, and far within the territory of 
the Iroquois. Unlike the Illini, the Miamis held their own until they were 
placed upon an equal footing with the tribes eastward by obtaining possession 
of firearms with which they were able to maintain their tribal integrity and inde- 
pendence. Again, unlike the Illini, they did not keep faith with the French. 
They traded and fought with the French, English and Americans as their inter- 
ests or passions inclined ; they made peace or declared war against other nations 
of their own race, as policy or caprice dictated. More than once they compelled 


the arrogant Iroquois to beg, from the governor of New York, that protection 
which they, themselves, had failed to secure by their own prowess. 

The Miamis became bold and independent, and did not appeal to the French 
as an attractive field for missionary work. As a result of this, the Jesuit Rela- 
tions and pastoral letters of the priesthood have less to say of this Confederacy 
than of any of the other western tribes, the Kickapoos alone excepted. 

Trade with the Miamis was sought with great eagerness, by both the French 
and the English. This involved wars between the Miamis and the Iroquois and 
constant reduction of their numbers. 

After the French were driven from the Mississippi Valley, the Miamis were 
compelled to defend their title from the arrogant claims of the British. They 
took a conspicuous part in the conspiracy of Pontiac. This conspiracy failed, 
and Pontiac went to Fort Chartres which he kept from the actual possession of 
the British for two years. The cessation of hostilities, and the transfer of Fort 
Chartres to the British, was secured through a conference between Pontiac and 
George Croghan, Department Superintendent of Indian Affairs. This conference 
was held within the country of the Miamis. Croghan and Pontiac met on the 
familiar trail, which crosses the southern part of Vermilion County. This trail 
crossed the southeast corner of the town of Sidell and it is even yet distinctly 
discernible in the northwestern part of Edgar County where it has been marked 
by a tablet. 

Beside the wars into which the Miamis were drawn, they were greatly 
reduced in numbers by reason of the ravages of smallpox; whole villages were 
depopulated by this dread scourge. As the years passed, the Miamis were 
degraded by the vices of the white man, and became weakened and easily over- 
come by their enemies. The Kickapoos and the Pottowatomies drove them to 
the east of the Wabash river before white men came to settle this part of the 
Wabash Valley. 

The early settler came into contact and were better acquainted with these 
Indians who came later, than with the Piankeshaws, or any other tribe of the 
Pottowatomies. The Kickapoos were associated with, or were a part of, the 
Mascoutins, a tribe who had, some time before the appearance of the Kickapoos, 
as such, in the Wabash Valley, gone to the mouth of the Ohio river. Writers 
differ in considering the relationship between these two tribes. They are some- 
times classed as the same, and sometimes, as two distinct people. Even while 
they were regarded as separate bands or subdivisions of a tribe, it had to be 
admitted that their language and customs were identical. They always occupied 
contiguous villages and hunted in company with each other, over the same coun- 
try. They were always united in interests. No instance is on record where 
they were ever arrayed against each other, or where they ever took opposite 
sides in any alliance with other tribes. Treaties were always made with the 
Kickapoos when both were involved, and instances are recorded when known 
Mascoutins signed their names as Kickapoos. 

The Kickapoos were connected with the Northwest, being first noticed by 
Samuel Champlain, in 1612, "residing near the place called Sakinam," meaning 
the country of the Sacs, which bordered on Lake Huron, in the vicinity of Sagi- 
naw Bay. Father Claude Allouz visited "a mixed village of Miamis, Kickapoos 


and Mascoutins, on Fox river, in the winter of 1669-70. Like the Miamis, the 
Kickapoos were not inclined to receive religious impressions from the early mis- 
sionaries. Tonti quaintly records their ruthless murder of Father Ribourd in 
these words: "They carried him away and broke his head." Other instances 
are on record of their cruelty to the missionaries. Previous to 1718 they had 
villages on the Rock river, having been driven thither by the scarcity of game 
and enmity of the Sioux. The Rock river is laid down on a map of La Salle's 
discoveries as the Kickapoo river "the Assin-Sepe." 

The Kickapoos came into the Wabash Valley as disputers of the Miamis' 
claim as early, at least, as 1765. The distinction between them and the Mascou- 
tins is inferred from the record made as late as 1815, of the Mascoutins residing 
on the west bank of the Wabash between Vincennes and the Tippecanoe river, 
and the Kickapoos living a short distance above them, in several large villages. 
On the other hand, it is a well-known fact that an important Kickapoo village 
was located at the mouth of the Vermilion river, a few miles south of Danville, 
and a large Kickapoo burial ground was to be found a few miles west on the Salt 
Fork of the Vermilion river. 

No instance is recorded where the Kickapoos assisted either the French or 
British in any of the intrigues or wars for the fur trade, or the acquisition of 
disputed territory in the Northwest. They early incurred the displeasure of the 
French, but there is no record that they became the allies of the British on any 

As a military people the Kickapoos were inferior to the Miamis, the Dela- 
wares, and the Shawnees, in movements requiring large bodies of men, but they 
excelled in predatory warfare. Small parties of five to twenty would push out 
hundreds of miles from their villages and swoop down upon a feeble settlement, 
or an isolated pioneer's cabin, and make off before an alarm could be given. 
The Kickapoos were very much attached to the country along the Vermilion 
river and General Harrison, then the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, had 
great trouble in gaining their consent to cede it to the United States. They 
valued it highly as a hunting ground, and also because of the minerals it was 
supposed to contain. But they were not alone in an appreciation of this terri- 
tory. The Government was desirious of its possession, and General Harrison 
was determined to secure it. In a letter dated December 10, 1809, addressed to 
the Secretary of War, General Harrison expressed his anxiety to have the 
Kickapoos release their title as high up as the Vermilion river. He particularly 
coveted the tract "bounded on the east by the Wabash, on the south by the 
northern line of the so-called Harrison Purchase, extending from opposite the 
mouth of Raccoon creek, northwest fifteen miles ; thence to a point on the 
Vermilion river twenty-five miles in a direct line from its mouth ; thence down 
the latter stream to its confluence." "This small tract of land (of about twenty- 
five miles square, is one of the most beautiful that can be imagined. It is, 
moreover, believed to contain a rich copper mine. The Indians are so extremely 
jealous of any search being made for this mine that the traders were always 
cautioned not to approach the hills which were supposed to contain it." 

Beckwith's Historic Notes of the North- West (foot-note, page 164), states 
that there was a mistake made in this letter concerning the mineral in this 


mine ; that it was not copper but a mineral having something like the appearance 
of silver. Explorations on the bluffs of the Little Vermilion, in the seventies, 
resulted in the discovery of a number of ancient furnaces, with the charred coals 
and slag remaining in and about them. The furnaces were crude, consisting of 
shallow excavations of irregular shape in the hillsides. These basins were but 
a few feet across ; they too, were lined with fine clay. The bottoms of the pits 
were connected by ducts, or troughs, also made of fireclay, leading into reser- 
voirs, a little distance lower down the hillside, into which the metal could flow, 
when reduced to a liquid state, in the furnace above. 

The pits were carefully filled with earth and every precaution was taken to 
prevent their discovery, a slight depression on the surface of the ground being 
the only indication of their presence. These mines were, from every appearance, 
entitled to a claim of considerable antiquity, and were probably "the silver mines 
of the Wabash," of which repeated mention is made by early writers. 

The most plausible explanation of the use to which this metal was put was 
given, at the time the mines were explored by a half-breed Indian whose ances- 
tors lived in the vicinity and were in the secret. He said that, after being 
smelted the metal was sent to Montreal, where it was used as an alloy with sil- 
ver and made into brooches, wristbands and other jewelry, and returned to the 
traders to be disposed of to the Indians. 

The territory described by General Harrison, extended into the southeast 
corner of what is now Vermilion County, and is yet a tract of the same descrip- 
tion, for it is one of the most beautiful to be imagined, for, together with the 
adjoining territory in that part of the county, it makes the richest farm lands 
to be found any where. This land, although coveted by Harrison, was not ceded 
to the United States until, at a treaty made at Edwardsville, in 1819. This was 
ten years after the above quoted letter was written, but, meanwhile, Tecumseh 
had "taken up the hatchet against the white people" and all Governor Harrison's 
time was taken in "fighting it out," as Tecumseh said, and securing the Wabash 
Valley to the white man. 

Since the battle of Tippecanoe was only indirect in results of influence to 
the settlement of Vermilion County, a brief mention of its importance, is only 
admissible. True it is, it made the occupancy of this territory possible at that 
time. When making the treaty the Kickapoos claimed the entire territory which 
they ceded as theirs "by descent from their ancestors, by conquest from the 
Illinois Nation (probably inferring the Miamis a part of the Illinois Nation) 
and by uninterrupted possession for more than half a century." 

As compared with other Indians, the Kickapoos were industrious and intelli- 
gent, and cleanly in their habits. They were better armed and clothed than the 
other tribes. The men, as a rule, were tall, sinewy and active ; the women were 
lithe, and many of them by no means lacking in beauty. Their dialect was soft 
and liquid as compared with the rough gutteral language of the Pottowatomies. 
The Kickapoos lived to themselves and did not, as a rule, mix with the white 
people; because of this they preserved their characteristics. The vices of the 
white man were less temptation to them than to other tribes. They were never 
of great numbers, as compared to the Miamis or Pottowatomies, but their 
energy was great so that they well compared. In language, manners and cus- 


toms the Kickapoos resembled the Sacs and Foxes, whose allies they were gen- 
erally counted. 

The Kickapoos shared the part of the Wabash Valley with the Pottowatomies 
after the last years of the i8th Century. The Pottowatomies had been neigh- 
bors of the Miamis to the north for some time before the treaty of Green- 
ville, in 1795. At this time the Pottowatomies announced their determination to 
settle upon the Wabash river. They made no pretentions to ownership of that 
country, and gave, as their reason for taking the Miami territory, that "they were 
tired of eating fish and wanted to eat meat." 

The Pottowatomies had gradually wandered from the Lake Huron country 
southward, without any fixed land of their own. The other tribes called them 
squatters. They were of the same family as the Ottawas and Ojibbeways with 
but a difference of dialect, not a difference of language. Their manners, as 
well as their dialect, were rough and barbarous, as compared with other Algon- 
quin tribes. They were loyal to the French, maintaining their alliance so long 
as New France existed in America. When other Indians "as far west as the 
Illinois" were induced to be bound by the "Silver Covenant Chain" and desert 
the French at the Siege of Niagara, the Pottowatomies were not counted in the 
number. After the French were vanquished by the British the Pottowatomies 
heartily upheld their kinsman Pontiac, in his attempt to recover the country. 

The Pottowatomies fought with the British during the Revolutionary war, 
and in the war of 1812, being a menace to the frontiers of Kentucky, Ohio and 
Pennsylvania. It was the Pottowatomies who perpetrated the massacre at Fort 
Dearborn, August 15, 1812. After settling themselves in the Wabash country, 
the Pottowatomies agreed with the Kickapoos, already there, that they, together, 
would take possession of the north and west sides of the river, leaving the east 
side for the Miamis, now grown too weak to resist this arrangement. 

This was a hard bargain for the Miamis, but they could make no resistance ; 
they were dealing with a stronger people. , 

One of these mixed Pottowatomie towns was located but a short distance out- 
side of present-day Vermilion County. The exact location of this town is a mat- 
ter of record in a speech made by the renowned Indian chief, "Kesis" (the Sun), 
to General Wayne, when telling of his own village which was "a day's walk below 
the Wea town on the Wabash." He referred to the village which stood on the 
site of the Shelby farm near Cayuga, which is yet owned by descendents of the 
family living in Vermilion County, Illinois. Evidences of Indian fighting have 
been found in various parts of Vermilion County. The old Baird farm, now 
owned by John Baird, near Indianola, has given much evidence of a battle hav- 
ing been fought at that spot, but it is impossible to determine whether it was 
between the Pottowatomies, or the Kickapoos against the Piankeshaws, or was 
even at an earlier date. The Revolutionary war was concluded without Great 
Britain making any provision for her Indian allies, who continued their hos- 
tilities. No treaty had been made between the United States and the Wabash 
tribes. The Indians of this territory were a menace to the frontier, and there 
seemed no help for it. The United States government tried peaceable means 
to bring an end to Indian depredations, and, failing in this, sent out expeditions 
into the Wabash country, under General Harrison and then under General Charles 


Scott, and last under General Wilkinson, which, in every case, resulted in the 
burning of Indian villages, the devastation of their fields and the capture of wom- 
en and children, but not the conquering of the Indians themselves. The prison- 
ers were taken to Fort Washington. Again the government tried to bring the 
Wabash tribes to a treaty of peace. Grown vindictive and arrogant beyond 
words, the Indians declined all overtures. 

General Putnam, who was the Indian Agent of the Ohio Company, at Mari- 
etta, at the hazard of his life, visited the hostile tribes, and finding they would 
not go to Philadelphia nor Fort Washington, he induced them to meet at Vin- 
cennes. Starting from Fort Washington, August 26, 1792, he went to Vin- 
cennes, reaching there September 12. He was accompanied by the Moravian 
missionary, John Heckwelder. They took the surviving prisoners who had been 
captured by General Scott and General Wilkinson the previous year, with them. 
There were one hundred forty persons put into the boats and taken down the 
Ohio and up the Wabash rivers. The Indians who had already come to Vin- 
cennes when they reached there, September 12, "were assembled upon the 
banks of the river, and when they saw their friends approaching," wrote Heck- 
welder, "they discharged their guns in token of joy and sang the praises of 
those from whom they had been separated, in terms peculiar to themselves." 

The prisoners were at once delivered to their friends. For the next ten 
days the Indians came daily to make the treaty. By the morning of the twenty- 
fourth, delegates representing the Eel Creeks, Wea, Pottowatomie, Mascoutin, 
Kickapoo, Piankeshaw, Kaskaskia and Peoria tribes, had all arrived. Speeches 
were made by both General Putnam for the United States, and the assembled 
chiefs and definite articles of peace were concluded. These were signed on the 
twenty-seventh of September, 1792. This was the first treaty ever entered into 
between the United States and the several Wabash tribes. It was a treaty of 
peace and friendship only. General Putnam took many presents with him when 
he went to Vincennes to make this treaty. Among these were two large white 
wampum belts of peace with a silver medal suspended to each, bearing the arms 
of the United States. 

When the chiefs of the several tribes had signed the articles of the treaty, 
General Putnam addressed them as follows: "Brothers, listen to what I say: 
We have been for some days past engaged in establishing a peace and we have 
succeeded through the influence of The Great Spirit. Brothers, we have wiped 
off the blood, we have buried the hatchet, on both sides, all that is past shall be 
forgotten." Taking up the belts, he continued : "Brothers, this is the belt of 
peace which I now present to you in the name of the United States. This belt 
shall be the evidence of, and the pledge for, the performance of the articles of 
the treaty of peace which we have concluded between the United States and your 
tribes this day. 

"Brothers, whenever you look at this, remember that there is a perpetual 
peace and friendship between you and us, and that you are now under the pro- 
tection of the United States. Brothers, we will hold this belt in our hands, 
here at this end, the United States holds it, and you hold it by the other end. 
The road you see is broad, level and clear. We may now pass to one and another 
easy and without difficulty. Brothers, the faster we hold this belt the happier 


Found at the old Kickapoo Indian burying ground near the mouth of 

the middle fork of the Vermilion river, four miles west of 

Danville. Now in possession of Mrs. Lynne 

Beckwith, Danville 



we shall be. Our women and children will have no occasion to be afraid any 
more. Our young men will observe that their wise men performed a good 
work. Brothers, be all strong in that which is good. Abide all in this path, 
young and old, and you will enjoy the sweetness of peace." After speaking this 
way General Putnam delivered the belts. 

Among the Indians present was the renowned Pottowatomi chief, "Kesis," 
whose village was the one mentioned above, located on the site of the Shelby 
farm, near the mouth of the Vermilion river. 

There was an old Indian burial ground, near the mouth of the Middle Fork 
of the Vermilion river when the first settlers came to this section. This burial 
ground bore all evidence of having been used by the Indians many years prior 
to the time of the cession of the territory along the Vermilion river. Any one 
curious to locate the site of the old burying ground can do so on the bluffs near 
the mouth of the Middle Fork four miles West of Danville. 

There are no signs of its once use as a burial place. It has not had any 
such use since the removal of the Pottowatomies west in 1838, and few who 
pass on the road beneath the bluffs every day know that it was ever a burial 

It was sixty odd years after the signing of the treaty 'at Vincennes, that two 
young men, living on a farm near this burying ground, were walking by the 
river, when they saw a skull which had evidently been washed out of the bluff. 
They made search and found a grave from which it had come. Examining the 
grave, a medal was found. It may be this skull was not found by accident, 
as this story would imply, but was the result of digging in the grave, seeking 
treasure. Whatever the cause of finding the medal, the article itself, and its 
being in a grave in this burying ground, is the matter of interest. 

This medal is reproduced in this volume and it can readily be seen to be 
exactly as the description given by the Moravian missionary, of the peace medal 
presented by General Putnam to the Indians at the Vincennes treaty in 1792. 
This medal is of silver set in a rim of the same metal. The engraving is by 
hand, of course, and is very distinct. It can be studied with little trouble from 
the illustration. The side upon which is engraved the Coat of Arms of the 
United States was explained to the Indians by Gen. Putnam in these words: 
"Brothers, the engravings on this medal distinguish the United States from all 
other nations ; it is called their arms, and no other nation has the like. The prin- 
cipal figure is a broad eagle. This bird is a native of this country and is to be 
found in no other part of the world; and both you and the Americans being 
born in this land and having grown up together with the eagle, they have placed 
him in their arms, and have engraved him on this medal, by which the great 
chief, General Washington, and all the people of the United States, hold this 
belt fast. The wings of the eagle are extended to give protection to all our 
friends, and to assure you of our protection so long as you hold fast this belt. 
In his right foot the eagle holds the branch of a tree, which, with us, is an em- 
blem of peace, and it means that we love peace, and wish to live in peace with all 
our neighbors, and to assure you, that while you hold this belt fast, you shall 
always be in peace and security, whether you are pursuing the chase, or repos- 
ing yourselves under the shadow of the bough. In the left foot of this bird is 


placed a bundle of arrows; by this is meant that the United States have the 
means of war and that when peace cannot be obtained or maintained with their 
neighbors, on just terms, and that if, notwithstanding all their endeavors for 
peace, war is made upon them, they are prepared for it." 

The other side of the medal needed no interpretation to an Indian. It tells 
its own story better than any words could. The Indian has thrown his toma- 
hawk, the emblem of war, at the foot of the tree under whose roots it was to 
be typically buried. With his other hand, the Indian has extended the pipe 
of peace (after he, himself, had smoked it) to Washington, and he, representing 
the United States, has reached his hand to receive and smoke. These acts of 
friendly feeling insures protection to the pioneer plowman and his cabin in the 
background. The eye in the rim of this medal shows that it has never been sus- 

Since it is believed that Kesis, the great Chief, was buried in this burying 
ground, it is reasonable to think that this medal was buried with him. The 
young men sold the medal to Samuel Chester at the time, and he later disposed 
of it to Josephus Collett of Terre Haute, and it is now in the possession of 
Mrs. Lynne Beckwith of Danville, Illinois. The Pottowatomies were the last 
of their race to leave the Wabash country. They were the redmen with whom 
the early settlers of this section were best acquainted. Whatever notion of 
the American Indian there has been handed down from one generation to 
another, in this section, was had from association with the Pottowatomies. 

There were reservations made for them in both Indiana and Illinois, but the 
white man crowded them out, and at last they were sent beyond the Mississippi 

The final migration of the Potowatomies from the Wabash Valley was 
under charge of Col. Pepper and Gen. Tipton and took place in the summer 
of 1838. It was a sad sight, these children of the forest being driven from 
the homes of their childhood. Bidding farewell to the hills, valleys and streams 
of their infancy, the graves of their revered ancestors, leaving these sacred 
scenes to be desecrated by the plowshares of the white man. No wonder the 
downcast warriors wept the old men trembled and the swarthy cheek of the 
youth paled. There were about one thousand persons of all ages in the line 
of march. Reluctantly they wended their way toward the setting sun, watch- 
ing their chances to break into the brush and return to their dearly loved homes, 
saying they would rather die than leave their country. When they reached 
Danville they halted several days being in want of food. Without tents, and 
a liberal supply of food, there was much suffering among them. While at 
Danville they camped on the Dave Fowler farm. During their stay there were 
many deaths. 

The mournful procession passed on across Illinois, without adequate means 
of conveyance for the weak, the aged and the infirm. Several years later the 
Miami Nation was removed to their western homes by coercive means under 
an escort of United States troops. This once proud and powerful nation 
was far inferior in point of numbers to the Pottowatomies. Their removal 
took the last of the original proprietors of the section, thenceforth to be known 
as Vermilion County, Illinois, to beyond the Mississippi river. This left the 


fields and plains, the woods and rivers, which had been the red man's home 
to the use of the white man. 

Generations have come and gone since the American Indian has lived in 
Eastern Illinois. All that is now known of him is through the questionable 
tales found in books, or worse, the representation of his life as shown on the 
stage, copied as it is from those of his race west of the Mississippi river. 

The American Indian has passed from his old haunts as has passed the 
buffalo, the wild game, the beaver and even the woods, from the borders of 
the streams. 









Few people who walk the streets of Danville, the county seat of Vermilion 
County, Illinois, realize that they are walking upon historic ground of another 
race; that the present city is the second one upon this site; that long before 
the white men who are credited with its discovery and settlement had seen this 
favored location, and other people had an important town established here which 
attracted notice and comment from early writers. 

This Indian village, to which reference is made, is frequently mentioned in 
early memoirs and treaties, and it is always described in such a way as to leave 
no doubt of its location. 

Mention has already been made of the fact that the Miami Confederacy of 
Indians were the first known dwellers in the Wabash Valley. After their immi- 
gration thither the Miamis proper resided about Fort Wayne on the St. Mary's 
and St. Joseph's rivers, near their confluence which forms the Miami river. 
They also lived on the upper Wabash. The Ouatonons, or Weas, as the English 
called them, lived further down ; their principal villages being on the Wea Plains, 
between what is now Attica and LaFayette. 

When the French first came down the Wabash, the Piankeshaws were found 
on both sides of the river, from the Vermilion down to the Ohio, and westward 
into Illinois to the ridge which divides the tributaries of the Wabash from those 
of the Illinois. No claim had ever been made to this territory by any other tribe, 
nor was made until about 1770, when that part lying west of White river in 
Indiana, was granted to the Delawares by the Piankeshaws on condition that 
they would settle on it, and assist in a war with the Kickapoos, which was at 
that time taking their interest. 

At that time the Miamis and the Weas (or Ouatonons) had their habitat 
separate and distinct, extending from the Maumee and its tributaries through 



the course of the Wabash Valley as far south as near Vincennes where Chip- 
pecoke, or the town of Brushwood, the ancient Capital seat of the Piankeshaws 
was located. The bands about Vincennes were called Lower Piankeshaws, 
while members of the tribe residing higher up and nearer the Vermilion river 
were designated as Upper Piankeshaws. Later these latter were known as Pian- 
keshaws of the Vermilion, and their villages on the stream were called Vermilion 

The Miami name for the river, known as the Vermilion, was Piankeshaw. 
This word is to be found spelled in many different ways; such as Pyankashaw, 
Pionkashaw, Peanquichias, and otherwise. This dissimilarity was owing to 
the different style of spelling by the English, the Americans and French authors ; 
each making more or less successful effort to approximate the sound of the 
word as the Miami Indian pronounced it. Following the well established rules 
of Indian etymology, as to the manner of places and things, it may be the tribe 
living along the Vermilion, were called Piankeshaws from the name of the 
river, rather than the river being given the name of the tribe; just as the tribes 
of the Miamis residing at the Wea Plains were called Weas, those at the Tip- 
pecanoe river, were called Tippecanoes, and those higher up on Eel river were 
called Eel Creeks. 

Official document covering the treaty of Vincennes (1792), conducted by 
General Rufus Putnam, to be found at Marietta College, give Piankeshaw as 
the name of the river now known as the Vermilion. 

This name for the river was not the one universally used, apparently, by the 
Indians. It evidently was a name given by the Miamis, alone. In Colonel 
George Croghan's journal of 1765, the river is mentioned by the same name it 
has at present, that of Vermilion, and the explanation made that "it is so called 
from a fine red earth found here by the Indians, with which they paint 
themselves." This red earth, a red chalk, generally known under the provincial 
name of "red keel" was constantly noticed by the early settlers, and is to be seen 
now along the bluffs of the Vermilion in the shales over-laying the outcrop of 
the coal. The exposed coal taking fire, burns the shale above, turns it red and 
makes it soft. Carpenters used it to chalk their lines in early times, and, time 
after time, successive generations of boys gathered their pockets full and painted 
their hands and faces with it. 

The passion of the Indian for paint, and especially for red paint, made this 
red earth of importance, and caused them to, according to Croghan in 1765, call 
the river after the red earth. It is further known that another river by the 
same name in the state has the same red earth on its bluffs. This same river, 
which the Miamis called the Piankeshaw, was marked on a map published in the 
early years of the igth Century with the name of Red river. About this time 
English geographies, and not a few American writers, tried to give this river 
yet another name. 

Arrowsmith, who subscribes himself as no less a personage than "Geographer 
to His Majesty," lays it down on his map frenchified into " Re] dicing-] aune" and 
in "Emigrants Western Guides for 1817, 1819 and 1821, it is called the "Re- 
joicing" while, in Flint's History and Geography of the Western States, pub- 
lished in 1828, it is called the "Rejoicing." However, that name is forgotten; 


the name of Piankeshaw was never generally used; and the river which, is the 
principal one of this county and gave it its name, remains an expression of the 
Indian's pleasure, and keeps the spelling of the Frenchman. It is possible, that 
the name of "Rejoicing" was but an expression of the joy the red man felt in 
finding the means of decoration in the Vermilion earth, and either name would 
have perpetuated the sentiments of this people who had first possession of its 
waters. A memoir, or official report to headquarters, made by the French 
officers as early as 1718, and which lay in the royal library at Paris, France, until 
transcribed and translated into English by J. R. Broadhead under the authority 
of the State of New York, contains matter of deep interest concerning the In- 
dians between Lake Erie and the Mississippi river. After speaking of the 
Miamis, the village of the Ouatonon are described, and the writer tells of the 
village by the name of Piankeshaw. This is not all the proof that this village 
was upon the site of present day Danville, nor the most convincing. After the 
change in the government of the Wabash Valley, in 1759, because of the defeat 
of the French by the British at Quebec, the Indians became restive. These In- 
dians had always been the friends of the French ; no wonder they were sus- 
picious of the British, who had ever been the foe to their friends. The British 
officers proved to be haughty and overbearing, whereas the French had always 
been kind and conciliatory. The French had adapted themselves to the ways 
of the Indians ; had taken to themselves wives of the various tribes, and shared 
their interests. The Englishman was reserved and selfish and wanted the land 
exclusively for himself. 

Pontiac was a great Chief of the Ottawas, and was a man of great discern- 
ment. He saw the inevitable result of the coming of the British to his people, 
and determined to make a bold attempt to hold the land for the red man. His 
plan failed, but his efforts forced the British to conciliation and diplomacy. 
George Croghan, an old Indian trader, and a man in whom the Indians had con- 
fidence, was sent to make peace where force had failed. George Croghan had 
spent his life among the Indians, and was well versed in their language and 
ways and habits of thought. He enjoyed the advantage of a personal acquaint- 
ance with many of the chiefs and principal men of the Wabash tribes who 
had formed strong attachments toward him. He was a veteran up to all the arts 
of the Indian Council House and had already conducted many important trea- 
ties, with the Shawnees, the Delawares and the Iroquois, further eastward. He 
had fared ill at the hands of the French, whose officers had captured his trade 
and confiscated his goods. Col. Croghan was closing a treaty at Fort Pitt when 
he was sent to the Indians of the Wabash Valley. He left Fort Pitt, May 15, 
1765, going down the Ohio with two bateaux. He floated down the river to 
Shawneetown, where he halted at break of day, June 8, and was attacked by a 
party of eighty Kickapoo and Musquattimes, and two of his men together with 
three Indians were killed ; Croghan himself, was wounded and carried to their 
village near Ouatonon which was on the west bank of the Wabash river, be- 
tween Attica and La Fayette. The then went on foot to Vincennes, where 
they remained several days. Here Croghan made a purchase of "some little ap- 
parel" for himself and his companions and proceeded, still a prisoner, in com- 
pany with his captors, toward their village. They crossed the river at Vin- 


cennes, and journeyed over the prairies, their route from the description of the 
country as preserved in Croghan's journal, being, without doubt, up through 
what is now Crawford, Edgar and Vermilion counties. Quoting from his journal: 
"June 17, 1765. At mid-day we set out from Vincennes, traveling the first 
five miles through a fine thick wood. We traveled eighteen miles this day, and 
encamped in a large, beautiful, well watered meadow. 

"18 and 19. We traveled through a prodigious large meadow called the 
Piankeshaws' hunting grounds. Here is no wood to be seen, and the country 
appears like an ocean ; the ground is exceedingly rich, and partly overgrown 
with wild hemp ; the land is well watered and full of buffalo, deer, bears, and 
all kinds of wild game. 

"20 and 21. We passed through some very large meadows, part of which 
belong to the Piankeshaw, on the Vermilion river ; the country and soil much the 
same as that we traveled over these three days past. Wild hemp grows here in. 
abundance; the game here is very plenty; at any time in half an hour, we kill 
as much as we wanted. 

"22. We passed through a part of the same meadow mentioned yesterday; 
then came to a high woodland and arrived at the Vermilion river, so called from 
a fine red earth found here by the Indians, with which they paint themselves. 
About half a mile from where we crossed the river, there is a village of Pian- 
keshaws, distinguished by the addition of the name of the river. We then 
traveled through a high, clear woody country about three hours, soil deep and 
rich, then came to a meadow and encamped. 

"23d. Early in the morning we set out through a fine meadow, then some 
clear woods; in the afternoon came into a large bottom on the Ouibache (Wa- 
bash) within six miles of Ouicatanon (or Ouatonons). Here I met several 
Chiefs of the Kickapoos, and Musquattimes." 

Following the description of the route taken by Col. Croghan in his enforced 
march from Vincennes, accompanied by his captors, to their villages near Ouato- 
non, on the west bank of the Wabash river, which we can more exactly locate 
as being between Attica and La Fayette, there is no doubt that the village, "about 
half a mile from where we crossed the river," and a three hours' journey 
through "clear high, woody country and a further half days' journey to reach 
the large bottom on the Wabash" within six miles of Ouitanon, is at the mouth 
of the North Fork, the same place where land was given by Beckwith and Guy- 
Smith about sixty years later, upon which to build the county seat of Ver- 
milion County. But one more proof of the identity of this village with present- 
day Danville will be given here. 

In presenting this proof a study of the records of events immediately fol- 
lowing the war of the Revolution must be made. Because of the Conquest of 
the Northwest, by George Rogers Clark, this Wabash Valley was, , at the close 
of the war, a part of a county of Virginia and afterward ceded to the United 
States. As a part of the United States the Federal Government took charge of 
it, appointing Gen. St. Clair to be Governor, with headquarters at Fort Wash- 
ington upon which site is present-day Cincinnati. 

The Wabash Indians had taken part with Great Britain in the late war, and 
still continued sending out hostile parties from this section of the country 


against the frontier settlements in Kentucky and Eastern Ohio. Loud com- 
plaints were made, and earnest appeals sent to Governor St. Clair to have him 
make an effort to stop these depredations. To this end Antoine Gamelin, a 
French trader, started from Vincennes, with speeches addressed by Governor 
St. Clair to the Indians inhabiting the Wabash and its tributaries. These 
speeches were delivered at all the principal Indian villages laying near the Wa- 
bash, as far east as the Miami town of Kikinggan, near the site of present- 
day Fort Wayne. An entry in the journal of M. Gamelin kept while on this 
embassy of Governor St. Clair, is of interest in locating the Indian village of 

"After leaving Vincennes," the journal proceeds "The second village I ar- 
rive at was at the River du Vermilion called Piankeshaw. The Chief, and all 
the warriors, were well pleased with the speeches concerning the place, but they 
said they could not presently give me an answer, before they had consulted the 
Miami Nation, their oldest brethren. It must be observed that the speeches had 
been there in another hand before me. The first messenger could not proceed 
further than the Vermilion, on account of some private wrangling between the 
interpreter and some chief men of the tribe. They desired me to proceed to the 
Miami town Kikinggay and, in coming back, let them know what reception I 
got from them." 

That this peace mission was a failure, does not in any way affect the fact 
that such a mission included the visit to this Indian village of Piankeshaw "on 
the River du Vermilion," and is proof of the events of the past which transpired 
on the land now a part of Vermilion County. 

Time passed, the cruel Kickapoos and stronger Miamis swept over this village 
and, driving out the Piankeshaws, in turn abandoned all claim to the soil, and 
Nature did her best to win back to herself, this place in the wilderness. A score 
of years helped in this work, before the busy hands of the white man came into 
this wilderness, and pushed it aside for the planting of homes representing a 
higher civilization. The lingering red man did not forget to tell the encroaching 
white man tales of the pretentious homes of his race on this spot. The Potto- 
watomies delighted in telling their friend, Gurdon Hubbard, who himself had 
won relationship with them through marriage with one of their number, the 
stories of the Piankeshaw village, and Mr. Hubbard in turn, told these tales to 
the men of his acquaintance, so that the picture of the wigwam in the place of 
the modern house; the warriors and squaws and pappooses in the place of the 
men and women and children ; the games and Indian customs in place of business 
and amusements of today; becomes a vivid picture. 

A little exercise of the imagination can remove all the houses, streets and 
other signs of civilization in Danville, can destroy the bridges over the Vermilion 
river and North Fork. With the public square obliterated and the ground west- 
ward showing patches of hazel and jackoak, of recent growth; with the north- 
west part of town, nearly to the bluffs of North Fork, a broad meadow, set in 
with blue grass, with marks of old corn hills plainly visible over many; acres the 
picture has its true setting. The sky line along the river bluffs, silhouettes a line 
of stalwart oaks. 



Under the bluff west of what is now Logan Avenue and in the other bottom 
south of Main street, up to the mouth of North Fork, ancient corn-fields also 
are overrun with blue grass. Eastward from Vermilion street, is a prairie, with 
an occasional stunted bush which grows for a season, only to be burned to the 
ground by the autumnal fires, which sweep through the high grass each year. 
This is surely a goodly spot. Sheltered on the north and west with a growth 
of timber its generous soil lies open to the warm summer sun and rainfall. The 
hillsides on the west and south, hold numerous springs from which pure water 
bubbles past mossy beds. People this attractive spot with a happy folk. It is 
home life for a race of children of the forest who have not yet learned to fear 
the white man's rule. 

Tall and lithe, the men are dressed in a garment which extends from their 
waists to their knees, with moccasins for feet covering, which had been prepared 
from the buffalo's hide. In the winter, leggings decorated with quills of the por- 
cupine stained in colors of brilliant contrast, together with blankets give the de- 
sided warmth. The women wear a garment which would be called at present, a 
one piece dress. The material from which it is made is woven from the soft 
wool from 1 the buffalo's hide, or is, perhaps, made from the buffalo's hide itself. 
When made from woven material, these' garments are dyed the most brilliant 
colors. The women of Piankeshaw are skilled in the choice of material to make 
these colors and search the bluffs to the west and south, going sometimes a long 
distance, to find the root or leaf or perhaps blossom that will yield the desired 
shade or tint. Ellsworth Park held many secrets for them in possible coloring 
material. The women decorate their own moccasins and do not let their leggings 
go plain. They are proud of their necklaces, as who would not be, when their 
value is an expression of the time and care it took to find and assort the clam- 
shells and other hard substances which comprised them. A head dress, usually, 
is deemed indispensible by the Piankeshaw woman. Petticoats are worn for 
warmth during the winter. To make these garments the nerves and tendons of 
deer are subjected to a process that yields good thread. The wigwams along the 
bluff on the North Fork were busy places when this thread was being manu- 
factured. The deer was dressed, and the nerves and tendons carefully put 
aside. They were exposed to the sun twice each day until they were in a state 
that, by beating, they would separate into fine hairs or threads. These threads 
were very strong and would hold any garment together. 

The women, beside making the garments and doing all the household duties, 
always carry the game and cultivate the soil. The remains of this cultivation 
was seen in the corn hills overgrown with blue grass on the fields in the north- 
western part of town when first Dan Beckwith and the other early settlers were 
here. The women searched the fields, which now are the streets and home lots of 
Danville, for edible roots and herbs, berries and any vegetable growth from 
which to prepare food. Their wooden dishes and spoons made of buffalo hide, 
comprised their table service. 

All along the North Fork, from the present northwestern limit of Danville 
to Main street, thence along the banks of the Vermilion river to the extreme 
limit on the east, and extending back in an irregular line a half mile or more 
from the bluffs of the two streams, the homes of the dwellers of Piankeshaw 


are placed. They are located in reference to the numerous springs, which bub- 
ble out of the hillside. These houses are made by driving poles into the ground 
and drawing them together at the top, over which there is a mat thrown. This 
mat is made by the squaws, from flags they have gathered from marshy places 
near the river. 

The Piankeshaws are not without weapons by which they can defend them- 
selves when danger comes, although they are not a people who seek war. They 
use both the bow and arrow, and the club, yet they would rather take to their 
heels than to face an enemy, at any time. But they are skillful with their bows 
and arrows, which they tip with stones. Although on the whole, they are peace- 
ful people, sometimes a warrior finds a wrong, either fancied or real, which 
must need be avenged, and he goes about through the village asking one and 
another to go with him for that purpose. When the time of starting comes the 
line of march is made. One is chosen to carry the War Budget. 

This War Budget is a package containing something which belongs to each 
person in the party that represents some wild animal, such as a snake's skin, a 
buffalo's tail, a wolf's head, a mink's skin or the feathers of some extraordinary 
bird. This is called his corpenyomer. This package is always considered 
sacred, and is carried in front in the march. Under no circumstances can it ever 
be passed. When the party halts, the Budget is laid on the ground in front of 
them, and no one may pass it without orders from proper authority. The pack- 
age must not be laid on a log but on the ground. While on the way to meet an 
enemy, no one is permitted to talk of women. When on the way to meet an 
enemy with the War Budget, if a four-footed animal is killed, its heart must be 
cut into small pieces and burned alongside the sacred charge. Care must always 
be taken never to step over fire, when upon such a journey, nor around it in any 
way other than the sun travels. When the enemy is to be attacked, each man 
takes his "Corpenyomer" from the Budget and ties it on his body, as has been 
directed by his ancestor. The man who takes the first scalp, or prisoner, carries 
the War Budget upon the return march. When he returns to the village he will 
fasten it onto his cabin where it stays for thirty or forty nights. The warriors 
will come and dance about it, and when the one who called the party out to the 
war sees fit, he will make a feast. On the occasion of this feast, the War Budget 
is opened and each man given his Corpenyomer. These "Corpenyomers" are 
prized highly and well cared for. Every month some men of the family sing re- 
ligious songs all night, and leave an offering of a piece of tobacco or a kettle of 
victuals. This feast is partaken with much ceremony, a small piece of food is 
always thrown into the fire before any of it is eaten. 

Should a death occur in this village a ceremony of adoption will take place 
by the grief stricken relatives. The nearest relatives will fast and black their 
faces in token of respect. 

Great care is taken in training future citizens of this first village on the site 
of Danville. The children are given tasks calculated to develop courage and 
self restraint. After childhood is passed, a bath in cold water each day is re- 
quired and fasting from time to time, in accordance with the strength of the 
individual. When he is eighteen years old, the boy goes into a long fast, with 


his face blackened, under the conviction that should he eat while his face is 
blackened, the Great Spirit would, in some way, punish him. 

The moon which shines upon the maid and her lover in the beginning of the 
2Oth Century, as brightly shone upon the same spot when the dusky belle of a 
hundred odd years listened to the wooing of her fond young brave. The wed- 
ding ceremony of those of Piankeshaw was, however more simple. The parents 
of the youth selected the bride and presents were sent to her. If she accepted 
him, then her parents dressed her in her best and, procuring a suitable present 
for him, sent her to his cabin, as they called the wigwams. If, on the other hand, 
she did not like him, and refused him, the presents were sent back, and that was 
the end of it. Life was gay, at this village at the mouth of the North Fork, 
so long ago. Dances, and games were the order for the youth and the Braves. 

These people were not without knowledge of the white man. A letter writ- 
ten by M. De Longuell, the French Commandant at Detroit, to his superior 
officer at Quebec in 1752, states that, prior to 1750, there were French traders 
established on the Vermilion; that English traders persisted in trading here 
in spite of the fact that their predecessors had been driven off, two years before. 
This letter goes on to say that Father De La Richardu, a French Catholic Mis- 
sionary, had wintered here. A possible tragedy is also on record of the murder 
of some Frenchmen at a point which seems might have been Piankeshaw. So it 
is, the old story of man's life, of his loves and his hates, his efforts to higher im- 
pulses and his degredation, his pleasures and his distresses, all were here at the 
time of the possession of the red man, as now, when his white brother lives in 
the town at the mouth of the North Fork. The Piankeshaws are gone ; the race 
has been scattered and almost destroyed; the white man dominates the Vermil- 
ion river, the town of Piankeshaw has given place to that of Danville but human 
nature is the same at all times and in all places, and doubtless the people of to- 
day, do not differ so much from those of yesterday, despite the changed condi- 
tions of race and mode of living. 








Authentic history of Vermilion County antedates its organization, as such, 
and even its exploration and settlement by white men, by a century and a half. 

This is the case because this section of the Wabash Valley, although but a 
wilderness, and the homes and hunting grounds of the Miamis and Pottowat- 
omie Indians, yet was a part of the great tract claimed by France, and governed 
by representatives of that European power. From 1682 to 1763, this section 
was a part of New France. 

Now, New France extended from Quebec to New Orleans, and it became 
necessary to divide it for administrative purposes, so two provinces were made. 
The northern province was that of Canada, with the capital at Quebec, and the 
Southern province was called Louisiana, and its capital was New Orleans. 

At one time, prior to 1745, the dividing line ran diagonally across what is now 
Vermilion County, in Illinois, thus making a part of it in one province and a 
part of it in the other, with the two capitals as far apart as Montreal and Fort 
Chartres. This division line began on the Wabash river at the mouth of the 
Vermilion river. It followed the course of the Vermilion river northwest, 
thence in the same direction to old Fort St. Louis. The site of this old fort is 
now known as Starved Rock, near Ottawa, in La Salle County. All south of 
this dividing line was the Province of Louisiana, while all north of it was the 
Province of Canada. The seat of government of the Canada Province was Mon- 
treal, and later, the Post of Detroit, while that of the Louisiana Province was at 
Fort Chartres, on the Mississippi river. 

Two men, living on opposite sides of the Vermilion river (as at Danville and 
South Danville), at this time, would be obliged to travel many miles, the one to 



the northeast and the other to the southwest to transact any legal business. This 
dividing line ran diagonally across Vermilion County as it is now known, cut- 
ting it into two very nearly equal parts. 

Since only Indians and the occasional "Cour de Bois" were to be found in 
this far away part of New France, such an inconvenience was no hardship. 

After the French and Indian war of 1763, New France was ceded to Great 
Britain, and this section, now known as Vermilion County, Illinois, became a 
part of the British Domain. For some fifteen years its government was vested 
in an organization or board, known as the "Lord's Commissioners of the Council 
of Trade and Plantations," or "Lords of Trade." Kaskaskia, the French town, 
located near the mouth of the Kaskaskia river, and not far from Fort Chartres, 
was the seat of this government. The British had been obliged to abandon Fort 
Chartres, and garrison Fort Gage, at Kaskaskia. British rule ended at the 
end of a decade and a half. It was during the Revolutionary war that George 
Rogers Clark, himself a citizen of the colony of Virginia, captured this fort and. 
when peace was declared between Great Britain and the Colonies, this territory 
was ceded to Virginia and became, for the time being, the Illinois County of 

The government which followed was by a representative called a County 
Lieutenant. The seat of government was retained at Kaskaskia. This did not 
last long. In 1809 another division was made and Illinois Territory was formed. 

Illinois Territory had, as its eastern border, the Wabash river, as far as Vin- 
cennes, thence north by a straight line to Lake Michigan ; its western border was 
the Mississippi river which was, at that time, the western border of the United 
States. The southern border of the Illinois Territory was the Ohio river and its 
northern border was the British Possession of Canada. Its seat of government 
was again at Kaskaskia. 

This division threw this section into the Illinois Territory, with its seat of 
government, as it had been before, over on the Mississippi river. 

Nine years later the Illinois Territory was admitted into the Union with the 
same eastern, southern and western boundaries, and 42 degrees, 30 minutes, as 
its northern boundary. This act mlade the section in whose government we are 
interested, a part of that commonwealth. 

During all this time, this section was yet the possession of the redman with 
the exception of a small wedge which is in what is now Love Township. This 
wedge of land was purchased by the United States government through the 
efforts of William Henry Harrison the same year as that in which Illinois Terri- 
tory was established, and it has always been known as the "Harrison Purchase." 

The power of the Miami Nation had been broken, Piankeshaw had been 
devastated, the Kickapoos and Pottowatomies had driven the earlier proprietors 
away, yet the white man had not yet gained possession. The proud Miamis 
relinquished their claim to their conquerors late in the i8th Century, but it was 
not until after Illinois became a state, that the Pottowatomies made a treaty with 
the United States in which they ceded their land. 'A description of their land 
which they ceded at this time reads as follows : "Beginning at the mouth of the 
Tippecanoe river and running up the same to a point twenty-five miles in a direct 
line from the Wabash river; thence on a line as nearly parallel to the general 


course of the Wabash river as is practicable, to a point on the Vermilion river 
twenty-five miles from the Wabash river; thence down the Vermilion river to its 
mouth; thence up the Wabash river to the place of beginning." At the same 
time the United States agreed to purchase any just claim which the Kickapoos 
might have to any part of the ceded country below Pine creek. 

The next year the Kickapoos, by the treaty at Edwardsville, July 18, 1819, 
ceded a large section of country between the Illinois and Wabash rivers, includ- 
ing that ceded by the Pottowatomies. 

Immediately following this treaty at Edwardsville, another one was con- 
cluded at Fort Harrison, on August 30, 1819, between the United States and that 
particular tribe, or band who, in this treaty describe themselves as "The chiefs, 
warriors and the head men of the tribe of Kickapoos of the Vermilion," to the 
end that the United States might be enabled to fix a boundary between the 
claims of other Indians and these Kickapoos. The claim was further described 
as follows: "Beginning at the northwest corner of the Vincennes tract, thence 
westerly to the boundary established by a treaty with the Piankeshaws on the 
3Oth of December, 1805, to the dividing ridge between the waters of the embrass 
and the Little Wabash ; thence by the said ridge to the source of the Vermilion 
river; thence by the said ridge to the head of Pine creek; thence by said creek 
to the Wabash river; thence by the said river to the mouth of the Vermilion 
river, and thence by the Vermilion and the boundary heretofore established, to 
the place of beginning." 

Beginning with this year (1818) the section, which is now Vermilion County, 
became a county of the state of Illinois. This form of government lasted four 
years; then camje the readjustment at the end of the Revolutionary war. Mas- 
sachusetts, Connecticut and New York all laid claim to parts of the territory 
saved from the British by Clark, which lay northwest of the Ohio river, and due 
concessions had to be made by these states as well as by Virginia, before congress 
could provide for the government of the Northwest Territory. In 1787, an ordi- 
nance was passed Congress which made this provision. The seat of government 
of the Northwest Territory was located at Marietta, Ohio. 

General Arthur St. Clair was appointed governor of the Northwest Terri- 
tory. The section now included in Vermilion County remained a part of the 
Northwestern Territory for fourteen years. At the end of that time the Ohio 
Territory was formed, which took a part of this Northwest Territory leaving 
that part which now is known as the states of Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and 
Wisconsin, and this was called the Indiana Territory. General William Henry 
Harrison was appointed governor, and the seat of government was located at 
Vincennes, and this section had its capital in what is now the state of Indiana. 

Since Illinois became a commonwealth that year, Vermilion County, with no 
longer any power vested in the Indians, although they had not yet left this sec- 
tion, became a legally bound territory, subject to laws and regulations of the 
state. The resources were many and varied. The two great commodities so 
much in demand, salt and furs, were to be found in plenty inside its boundary. 
The Vermilion Salines were well known and yielded enough salt to supply the 
region at a fair price. After having had the many and various forms of govern- 
ment, while as yet this section was not known, as it is now, to be Vermilion 


County, but was yet a small part of Clark County, it was under the control of 
the laws of the state, and, as such, in 1819, had fixed obligations to the same 
government that it has now. 

After 1790, this section had been a part of, first, Knox County of the North- 
west Territory, then partly Knox and partly St. Clair County of the Indiana 
Territory, then St. Clair, Madison, Edwards, and Crawford Counties of the 
Illinois Territory ; then a part of Clark County during the first two years of state- 
hood of Illinois, to at last become what it is now, Vermilion County. 






The hostile attitude of the Indians toward the white mian was a reason that 
kept the section now known as Vermilion County from being settled until almost 
a score of years after the beginning of the iQth Century. 

Until 1819, when the two important treaties were made which ended the 
power of the red man in eastern Illinois, this hostility was carried to such lengths 
that it was impossible for settlement to be made, and indeed no explorations 
were attempted. This, in spite of the fact that the great demand of the times 
was salt, and there was every reason to believe that it could be found on the 
Vermilion river. 

This territory was a vast unknown region excepting to the Indian, and 
through him to the trader and woodsman. One man in particular, had for 
eighteen years known of the existence of salt in this region, but had made no 
haste to take advantage of this knowledge without doubt being kept from doing 
so on account of the hostility of the redman. This was Joseph Barron, the man 
who was for years the interpreter for Governor, afterward General and at last 
President Harrison. It has been recorded of Joseph Barron that he could un- 
derstand and speak all the dialects used by the Indians of the Wabash Valley. 
He had acquaintance with all those who hunted in or claimed the lands watered 
by the Wabash river and all its tributaries. He had learned from the Indians 
of a place on the Vermilion river where there were valuable salt springs, and had 
even visited the place in company with them, but had let nearly a score of years 
pass since that visit. His delay of eighteen years in securing these springs tells 
the condition of the attitude of the Indians to the white man more forcefully 
than could many words. 

The fact of the certainty of valuable salt springs on the Vermilion may have 
been a strong reason for the treaties made with the Pottowatomies, and the 
Kickapoos, the one in July, 1819, and the other in August, of the same year. 
However that might have been, the treaty was hardly concluded at Fort Har- 
rison when Joseph Barron organized an expedition to explore the Vermilion river 



in search of salt. This expedition was planned quietly, and only a few people 
were aware of its arrangement. Barren and his friends were at Fort Harrison 
and that was their starting point. He knew the direction in which these springs 
were, and the way was neither a long nor a dangerous one. 

The Indians had made their treaties and the wild beasts were not so num'erous 
that they would make a well armed man fearful. Barren knew the way, and 
each man chosen to go with him was fearless and enured to hardships. 

There is no record of the route chosen, and there is no certainty that they 
went by water ; but it is reasonable to assume that, being at Fort Harrison, they 
came in canoes up the Wabash river to the mouth of the Vermilion river, thence 
up that stream to the Salt Fork, and found the salt springs without trouble. 

There arose a necessity sometime later for an affidavit covering the time 
of this expedition, and the personnel of this party, and the exact date of their 
arrival at the springs so that there can be no doubt on any of these points. This 
record is filed in the archives at Springfield. This party consisted of four white 
men and as many Shawnee Indians. Two of these men were Frenchmen, pos- 
sibly Indian traders who shared the knowledge of the existence of the salt springs 
with Barren. Their names were Lambert Bona and Zachariah Shecott, as the 
justice of the peace spelled it. This spelling doubtless should be Cicott. The 
other man beside Barron was named Truman Blackman, and was an unfortu- 
nate choice of Barren's. 

Assuming that the route chosen was by water, it is not a difficult thing to 
form the picture of this exploring expedition into the unknown region in which 
are now the familiar homes of the dwellers in Vermilion County. These four 
white men, together with the four Indians, began the ascent of the Wabash river 
in canoes. The Indians had been hired by Barron to go "with him to show him 
minerals and salt springs, etc.," but the white men were interested in the ex- 
ploration to find what they did not already know. They paddled their canoes 
up the Wabash river to the mouth of the Vermilion river through a country 
which was more or less familiar to all. 

Barron, and probably the Frenchmen, had all passed that way before, and, 
for that matter, had some knowledge of the Vermilion river, but there is no 
reason to think that Truman Blackman had any idea of the salt springs or any 
thing else on the unexplored Vermilion, These canoes paddled up the Wabash 
river to the mouth of the Vermilion, and the white men found themselves in the 
country of the redman now shorn of his power. The old Kickapoo village at the 
mouth of the Vermilion river was forsaken, and the very trees and stones spoke 
desertion. Passing that, these explorers paddled up the river between densely 
wooded banks. The now highly valued farm lands and villages were at that 
time vast stretches of unbroken prairies beyond banks of the stream whose 
shallow waters they were paddling. All was silence, save the cry of the wild 
beast or the call of some bird to its mate. On they went, dipping paddles into 
the placid waters which had seldom reflected the image of a white man. Up the 
course of the river they continued their way, passing the site of present-day Dan- 
ville. The old Indian village of Piankeshaw had completely disappeared; the 
high bluffs to the south were densely covered with trees and wild vines ; the call 
of the quail, the flash of the goldenrod, and purple aster in the distance, the 


hazy sunlight of the Indian summer day, and the dipping of paddles in the water, 
filled the air, which had echoed the Indian war-whoop, and was to be filled with 
the sound of the traffic of today. 

Wild turkeys were stalking about and wild waterfowl were at the edge of the 
river; wild beasts were at the bank of the North Fork quenching their thirst; 
but all these attracted little interest or attention of the men as they paddled 
past its mouth, bent upon the discovery of the much desired salt springs which 
they knew were not very far distant. No dust, no smoke, no sound of building 
suggested the city which a half hundred years later would skirt its banks. 
This densely wooded tract might have held their interest as a haunt of fur-bearing 
animals, but for the more to be desired hope of wealth in the Salines beyond. 

This was a time when interest in the finding of salt was particularly keen, 
because of the fact that the Illinois legislature had but recently passed a bill mak- 
ing a liberal law to encourage the discovery and development of saline water. By 
the terms of this law, any person who made such a discovery had the exclusive 
right to manufacture salt within a given time and area. These explorers did not 
stop until their destination was reached. Passing up the big Vermilion after 
they had passed the deserted Indian villages at the mouth of the North Fork, the 
long past Piankeshaw, they proceeded through a less wide channel to the Kicka- 
poo village once prosperous and active, now destroyed by the hand of the 
white man, situated at the confluence of the Middle Fork and Salt Fork where 
they formed the Vermilion. 

Here all was desolation. Unlike the old Piankeshaw, this village had been so 
recently the home of a living people that evidences of severed ties were yet visi- 
ble. The once cultivated corn field was yet partially enclosed with a tumbled 
down fence. Weeds rankled where formerly the Indian squaw had hoed her 
corn and squashes. All was desolate. All the land marks were found that Bar- 
ren remembered, and a mile and a half further the springs, themselves, were 
found as he expected. In his affidavit he locates these springs as situated on the 
the Big Vermilion river, on the north side, about one and a half miles above 
the old Kickapoo town, and about fifteen or eighteen miles from the Big Wabash 
River. This same affidavit gives the 22nd day of September, 1819, as the day 
he reached these salt springs. Having discovered the source of saline water, 
these men returned to Fort Harrison. 

In reality it was these men who discovered this section of country and it is 
Joseph Barren to whom the people of this territory are indebted for the discov- 
ery. It was only through the treachery of one of his companions that Barren 
was kept from becoming the first settler as well. 

Truman Blackman betrayed his leader in this manner: After his return 
to Fort Harrison, he organized a party without the knowledge or sanction of 
Barren, and went back to take possession and claim the discovery of these 
springs. The party thus formed comprised Truman Blackman, his brother, Re- 
member Blackman, George Beckwith, Seymour Treat, Peter Allen, Francis Whit- 
comb and probably Dan Beckwith. At least Dan Beckwith was one of the 
party immediately after, and it is probable that he went with them. The two 
Beckwiths did not start with the others from Fort Harrison, but joined them on 
the way at Jonathan Mayo's on the North Arm prairie where they were living. 


There is no question which route this second party took, for they went by land 
and probably were the first white men, unless perhaps traders, who explored the 
land route through this country. 

Blackman's party crossed the Wabash river at the mouth of Otter Creek and 
went in a northwest course through the timber and prairies, keeping the direc- 
tion with a small pocket compass, until they arrived at a stream supposed to be 
the Big Vermillion, about twenty-five miles, they inferred, from the Wabash 
river. Here they camped on October 3ist, 1819. Captain Blackman pointed out 
a smooth spot of low grass ground from twenty to thirty rods across where he 
said there was salt water. Further investigation proved he was correct, and once 
more the Vermilion Salines were discovered. 











The discovery of salt in Southern Illinois was a great factor in attracting im- 
migration to the territory, in the beginning of the igth Century. The scarcity 
of that commodity at this time is evidenced in a book published in 1796, where 
the statement is made that "there was no salt to be had west of the mountains, 
excepting at Marietta, and what is for sale here is brought over the mountains, on 
pack horses, and is sold for sixteen cents a pound." 

The earliest known settlement on the Saline river in Southern Illinois, was 
made in 1800, or at latest date, in 1802. They found abundant evidence of some 
one having made salt before their coming, but who, and at what time, was more 
difficult to determine. Many have been inclined to the theory that salt was man- 
ufactured in southern Illinois by a people whose history antedates that of the 
tribes who inhabited this country at the coming of the Europeans. As evidence 
of this idea, the pottery found by the early settler could be explained in no more 
satisfactory way than to assume it had been used in this work. 

This pottery has the appearance of having been moulded in a basket, or frame 
work, which has left its impression on the outside of the article. Some are in- 
clined to the belief however, that the pottery was moulded on the outside of a 
mold, and that the impressions were made by wrapping coarse cloth around the 
vessels as they were lifted off the mold. This same pottery, or salt pans, was 
found in abundance both in and around the salt works of Illinois and Missouri, 
near St. Genevieve. There is a tradition that the salt springs, wells and licks, on 
the Saline river in Gallatin county, were operated by the Indians and French for 
many years previous to the coming of the English about 1800. Certain it is that 
the French understood the salt making process ; and the Indians no doubt, knew 



where the springs and licks were. An Englishman writing to the Earl of Hills- 
boro in 1770, in speaking of the region around the mouth of the Wabash and 
Saline rivers, mentioned the abundance of salt springs in that region. In another 
description of the region of the Wabash the writer says : "The Wabash abounds 
with salt springs, and any quantity of salt may be made from them in a manner 
now done in the Illinois country." This was in 1778, twenty-two years before 
the coming of the English to these salt works. 

The earliest reference in the west to salt making to be found in state papers 
is in the law of May 18, 1796. In an act of this date it is made the duty of the 
surveyors, working for the United States and making surveys in the territory 
northwest of the Ohio river, "to observe closely for mines, salt, salt springs and 
salt licks and mill seats." 

In the winter of 1799 and 1800, Wm. Henry Harrison was the delegate in 
Congress from the territory of the northwest. In his report Mr. Harrison says : 
"Upon inquiry we find that salt springs and salt licks are operated by individ- 
uals, and timber is being wasted. Therefore we recommend that salt springs 
and salt licks, property of the United States, in the territory northwest of the 
Ohio, ought to be leased for a term of years." No definite action was taken 
upon this by Congress. Upon March 3, 1803, Congress authorized the Secretary 
of the Treasury to lease the salt springs and licks for the benefit of the govern- 
ment. It was in June of this same year that Harrison made the treaty at Fort 
Wayne, whereby he made the purchase of land, a portion of which is in what is 
now Vermilion County, known as the "Harrison Purchase." This was two years 
after Joseph Barren, Harrison's interpreter, visited the Vermilion Salines. 

That same summer Governor Harrison leased the Southern Salines to a 
Captain Bell, of Lexington, Kentucky. By an act of Congress March 26, 1804, 
all salt springs, wells and licks, with the necessary land adjacent thereto, were 
reserved from sale as the property of the United States. The Territorial Gov- 
ernor was authorized to lease these salt wells and springs, to the best advantage 
of the government. During all this time the salt to be found on the Vermilion 
was not accessible because of the hostility of the Indians who lived along the 
banks. The Kickapoos had a large village near where the wells were afterwards 
dug. The treaty of August, 1819, however, extinguished the Indian titles to 
these lands, and the search for salt was begun. 

That the presence of salt was known at that time is beyond question, because 
of an affidavit made by Joseph Barren to the effect that he was, himself, at the 
"Vermilion Salines" as early as the year 1801. 

But there is another and even better proof of the fact that the springs 
were known to be found in a letter written by Shadrach Bond, who was gov- 
ernor of the state of Illinois at that time. The letter was written to Wm. H. 
Crawford and reads as follows: 

KASKASKIA, April 3, 1819. 
To the Hon. Wm. H. Crawford, 

SIR : It is ascertained that there are valuable Salt Springs upon sections 22 
and 23 in township 2, N. of R. 7 E. of the 3rd, principal meridian in this state 
and (since the titles, for all Salt Springs together with land reserved for the 
use of the same within this state have been granted to the state), I have the honor 


to request that the usual quantity of land may be reserved for the use of the 
springs upon the afore mentioned sections and as contiguous thereto as may be. 
I have the honor, etc. 


P. S. At the request of Judge Towle I send the enclosed certificate. This 
letter which, it will be noticed bears date of April 3, 1819, shows knowledge of 
the salt springs antedating the exploration of the Vermilion river by Barron 
and his company when they reached the springs September 22, 1819. 

Barren's long connection with General Harrison was such, that had any 
knowledge of the springs been had, it would have been his as well. Barron was 
Harrison's interpreter and was well versed in all the dialects spoken by the In- 
dian tribes who lived, hunted or claimed to own the lands watered by the Wa- 
bash river and the streams flowing into it. 

The extreme hostility of these Indians can be understood in no way better 
than by the fact that, in spite of the interest shown by General Harrison in 
other salt springs, these on the Vermilion were left alone. The positive previous 
knowledge of these springs is proven by the above quoted letter and again by 
the fact that it was less than a month after the treaty was made that Mr. Barron 
was again on the spot prepared to locate them. He took with him three white 
men and two Shawnee Indians whom he (Barron) had hired to show him min- 
erals, etc. Whether he took the white men to help him, or was going to share 
the profits of the expedition, is a little uncertain from the text of the affidavit on 
record. This affidavit, after making oath of his going to the salines in 1801, 
goes on to state that he was again at the same "salt spring situated on the Big 
Vermilion river, on the north side, about one and a half miles above the old 
Kickapoo town, and about fifteen or eighteen miles from the Big Wabash river, 
in the county of Clark, state of Illinois, on the 226. day of September, 1819, in 
company with Lambert Bona, Zachariah Cicott, and Truman Blackman, together 
with four Shawnee Indians whom I had hired to go with me and show me the 
minerals, salt springs, etc. 

This party duly located the springs and returned to Fort Harrison that Bar- 
ron might make the necessary record of the discovery. A recent law of Illi- 
nois gave the discoverer of salines the right to manufacture salt within a given 
area. While Barron was perfecting his arrangements, Captain Blackman or- 
ganized another party to go on an expedition to these springs and take the credit 
of the discovery already made. This expedition was kept a secret, from all but 
the ones interested. Seymour Treat, Peter Allen, Francis Whitcomb, and Cap- 
tain Blackman's brother, Remember, comprised the party when they left Fort 
Harrison, but the two Beckwith brothers, Dan and George joined them at the 
North Arm Prairie, where they were living with Jonathan Mayo. It is thought 
that these five men crossed the Wabash at the mouth of Otter Creek, in the lat- 
ter part of October and struck out in a northwest course through the timber 
and prairies keeping the direction with a small pocket compass. 

When they came to a stream, supposed to be the Big Vermilion, they 
camped. This was October 31, 1819. They inferred they were about 25 miles 
from the Wabash river. Here Captain Blackman pointed out a smooth spot of 
low ground about twenty to thirty rods across, where he said there was salt 


water. There was no vegetation growing there and little trace of people ever 
having used the water. Peter Allen in his affidavit testified that there were 
"some few places where the Indians had sunk curbs of bark into the soil for the 
purpose of procuring- salt water." Two or three of the men were set to work 
with spades to dig in the soil and, by going two or three feet into the saturated 
ground, saline water was procured. This water was boiled down in a kettle they 
had brought with them for the purpose, and they found that about two gallons 
of water made four ounces of good clear salt. An experimental well was dug a 
few rods from the former, and the water was found to contain a larger per cent 
of salt. The agreement was made that Blackman should recognize Treat, Whit- 
comb and the Beckwiths as partners in the discovery of the salt springs and each 
should pay his portion of the expenses. Whitcomb and Beckwith were left in 
charge so that no one could come and claim possession. Blackman had learned 
a lesson from his own treachery of Barren. These men were to go on in the 
manufacture of salt while the others returned to Fort Harrison to procure tools 
and provisions as well as to move Treats' family. 

In the latter part of November, Treat returned, coming up the Wabash 
and Vermilion rivers in a pirogue, with tools, provision and his wife and chil- 
dren. The men were good axe-men and a cabin was soon built so as to give 
Treat's family needed shelter. While the settlement was thus made, the devel- 
opment of the salt works was not so easily accomplished. Blackman had proved 
as dishonorable in the case of the second party as he had toward Barron. 

Notwithstanding the promise to include the others in the profits of the dis- 
covery of the salt springs (which was after all not theirs, but Barrens) Black- 
man took the lease or permit to manufacture salt in his own name. Complaint 
was entered by the other men as well as by Mr. Barron, and some three years 
passed before the difficulty was adjusted. Another letter from Governor Bond 
gives one reason, at least, for the delay. 

To J. B. Thomas, N. Edwards, and D. P. Cook : 

KASKASKIA, Dec. 20, 1819. 

On the 3d of April last I wrote the Secretary of the Treasury that Salines 
had been discovered upon sections 22 and 23 in township No. 2 N. Range No. 
7 East of the principal meridian and requested that the usual reservations of 
land for use of the same might be made. I have not received the answer of the 
Secretary. Will you have the goodness to communicate with him on the subject 
and let me know the determination of the Government. A valuable salt spring 
has been discovered upon the Vermilion river in the eastern part of the state and 
I have received several applications to lease it. The lands about have not 
been surveyed and I can not lease until some reservation of land from public 
sale shall be made for its use. Will it not be possible to obtain a reservation 
before the surveys are made ? Please to give me an early answer. 
I have the honor to be Gent. Yrs. &c., 


The gentlemen addressed in this letter were representing Illinois in Congress 
at that time. The examination of these salines was not made until the following 
year, however. It was August 28, 1822, before the President approved the nee- 


essary reservation, and even then the land could not be leased because of the fact 
that it was found to be on a section 16, all of such number being set apart for 
school lands. This complication called for the following letter from Gov. Coles 
to the members of Congress. 

To N. Edwards, J. B. Thomas and D. B. Cook : 

Gentlemen, In the year 1819 a saline was discovered on the Vermilion river 
in this state, which was examined the ensuing year in conformity to the instruc- 
tions received from the commissioner of the General Land Office, by Col. Th. 
Cox, the Register of the Land Office at this place who reported that "from all 
appearances there was little reason to doubt of its being saline of more than ordi- 
nary value," and recommended that the Govt. should reserve from sale and 
appropriate for the use of the Saline a Tract of Land which "should extend two 
miles on each side of the creek, & about ten miles in length, extending 
about six miles below Blackman's wells." Since Col. Cox made his 
examination and report, the lands in that district of country have 
been surveyed and the Salines have been found to be in section six-teen, 
in township 19, N. of Range 12 W. of the principal meridian. In a 
letter addressed by Mr. Meigs to Govr. Bond dated August 28, 1822, he says: 
"The President of the U. S. has approved of the reservation suggested by Th. 
Cox who was appointed to examine those salines in 1820," and adds that "Mr. 
Kitchell, the Register of the Land Office at Palestine, has been requested to des- 
ignate, according to the best of his Judgment the lands alluded to in Mr. Cox's 
report by section, Township & Range and to exempt them for sale." This Mr. 
Kitchell informs me he has done but has suggested a small alteration in the res- 
ervation as proposed by Mr. Cox. In the letter above referred to Mr. Meigs 
says "as Section on No. 16 in township 19 N. of Range No. 12 W. of the section 
principal Mn. is covered by a salt spring I would suggest that the Secretary of 
the Treasury is at present absent from the city, that you (Gov. Bond) make a 
selection of a section in the same township, for the purpose of education and 
report the same, to the Register of the Land Office at Palestine who will reserve 
the same from sale until the decision of the Secretary of the Treasury shall have 
been obtained." 

In accordance with this suggestion Gov. Bond authorized Mr. Kitchell, the 
Register of the Land Office at Palestine to select another section in lieu of sec- 
tion 1 6, who selected and reserved from sale section No. 28 of the same town- 
ship for the purpose of education. 

With a knowledge of these facts, but without knowing whether the proper 
sanction had been given to the exchange of the 16 section or of a more formal 
approbation of the President to the reservation, as designated by Mr. Kitchell, 
I have been induced by the earnest solicitation of the parties claiming to have 
discovered the Saline who have been applying for a lease the last three years, to 
lease it (viz: the West half of section 16, and the East half of Section 17) to 
them for the term of four years under the provision of act entitled "An act to 
encourage the discovery of salt water." 

I have thought proper to state these facts for your information & to enable 
you to have perfected the title of the State to the Reservation in question and 


the proper sanction given to the exchange of the i6th section; and I am the 
more particular in calling your attention to them as doubts are entertained by 
some whether Legislative provisions may not be required in one or possibly both 

Permit me also to call your attention to the fact that proper titles have not 
been received for the grants of Land which the Federal Govt. has made to this 
State for the use of Salines & for the location of its seat of Govt. By having 
Patents made out & forwarded to this office you will render us acceptable service 
to this State and a particular favor on your fellow citizen. 


That Gov. Coles was a man who would not work a hardship to any one is 
shown by the way he treated this complicated matter. A selection from a letter 
written by him dated May n, 1823, will explain the whole thing. This letter 
was written to W. H. Crawford, the Secretary of the Treasury, and after refer- 
ence to the letter written him by Gov. Bond and the suggestion of Mr. Kitchell 
in selecting another section to take the place of the one covered by the salines 
yet was set apart as school land, all of which he says, "I presume has been re- 
ported to you," Gov. Coles goes on to say: "The object of this letter is, to ob- 
tain from the Govt. the express designation and formal reservation of lands 
for the Vermilion Saline, and its consent to the exchange of the 16 section and 
to the selection which has been made of section 28 in the same township for the 
purposes of education. 

"Attention to this subject has become the more necessary as relying on the 
Government fufilling the declarations and suggestions of Mr. Meigs, / was 
induced in December last to yield to the importunities of the persons who claim 
to have made the discovery of the Salines, and who had been for several years 
waiting impatiently for the Lands to be surveyed (during which time some of 
them had been making salt in a small way) , to grant them a lease for four years, 
on condition of the working and improving the saline." 

During this interim of waiting for a lease to be given several wells were sunk 
at the salt works. Whitcomb and Beckwith, together sunk one to the depth of 
fifty feet, drilling mostly through solid rock and at their own expense. The salt 
was excellent in quality, purity and strength. Great expectation arose regarding 
these salt works in the Wabash valley. It was at this time in the infancy of the 
salt works that the letter written Gov. Bond by James B. McCall was sent and 
at the time that nothing seemed possible to be done to make a lease of the springs. 
He wrote : "The people of the eastern section of your state are very anxious 
that the manufacture of salt might be gone into. Appearances at the Vermilion 
Salines justify the belief that salt may be made north of this sufficient for the 
consumption of all the settlers on the Wabash, and much below the present 
prices. Nearly all the salt consumed above the mouth of the Wabash is fur- 
nished by Kentucky, and the transportation so far up the stream materially en- 
hances the price, and in the present undeveloped state of the country as to money, 
prevents a majority of the farmers from procuring the quantity of this neces- 
sary article that their stock, &c., requires." 


This letter was written by Mr. McCall from Vincennes in a futile effort to 
have the Salines developed. The date was June, 1820, six months after Gov. 
Bond wrote his second letter to the members of Congress in which he expressed 
an anxiety to know the determination of the Govt. upon the subject of 
these Salines. In this letter he asks : "Has the Gov. established any general 
rules upon these subjects? What evidence will be required of the discovery of 
a salt spring? An early answer as will suit your convenience will be thankfully 

Continuing the correspondence between Gov. Coles and W. H. Crawford, 
Secretary of the U. S. there is a letter, a part of which refers to this subject 
and is as follows : 

EDWARDSVILLE, Illinois, July 19, 1823. 

Sir I had the honor to receive by the last Mail your letter of the 12 Ulto., 
giving the sanction of the President of the U. S. to the reservation made by J. 
Kitchell of the forty sections of land for the Vermilion Salines and approving 
the substitution of section 28 in township 19 N. of range 12 W. (you state 10 W., 
but this I presume must be a mistake) for the purpose of education, in lieu of 
the 16 section in the same township, on which the Vermilion salt springs are 
situated. I am with great Respect and esteem yours, 


The following Spring the Salt works were leased to John W. Vance and then, 
for the first time, they were worked to their full power. Mr. Vance brought 
twenty-four large kettles from Louisville, in a bateau, down the Ohio to the mouth 
of the Wabash and thence up that stream to the Vermilion as far as the mouth 
of Stony Creek about four miles southeast of Danville. The water was low and 
the channel was obstructed by a sand bar at the mouth of the creek, so the boat 
was abandoned and the kettles were hauled by ox teams to their designation. 
The capacity of the springs soon justified the increase of the number of the 
kettles to eighty, each holding 140 gallons. A furnace was built of stone at the 
bench of the hill near the wells, and these kettles were set in it in a double row. 
It took 100 gallons of water from the wells to make a bushel of salt. From 60 
to 80 bushels were a good week's run. The state only kept the salt springs until 
1829 when in accordance with the following instructions the land was declared 
for sale. This letter from Gov. Reynolds tells its own story: 
To Amos Williams and William Reed. 

Gentlemen: You are by these presents, required to proceed in conformity 
to the provisions of "an act providing for the sale of the Vermilion Saline re- 
serve, and appropriating the avails thereof," approved January 19, 1829, to ad- 
vertise the said Saline lands, and to take such other steps as may be necessary 
to the full and complete execution of the duties imposed on the Register and 
Receiver by the said recited act. 

Respectfully yours, 


The use to which the proceeds from the sale of the Vermilion Salines was put 
is stated in another letter written the governor of Indiana, dated Dec. 29, 1832. 


After reciting the joint resolution of the general assembly of Illinois in re- 
gard to the improvement of the Wabash river he goes on to say: "Some years 
since the legislature being well satisfied of the importance of the improvement of 
the navigation of this river, appropriated the money arising from the sale of the 
first ten thousand acres of the Vermilion Saline lands. This sum amounts to 
$11,985.16, and is now ready to be applied on that object for which it was ap- 
propriated." He goes on to urge Indiana to contribute a sum equal to that, etc. 

Although the Salines passed out of the ownership of the state in 1829, the 
salt works were an industry for many years afterward. The wells were aban- 
doned and the works closed between 1848 and 1850. G. W. Wolfe, of Catlin, 
is the only living man who worked in them. When a boy of 18 his brother Isaac 
operated a well for two years. The young man pumped water for 25 cents per 
day and boarded himself. The stock of the well was made from hickory tree, 
through which a hole had been bored. It stood 25 ft. above ground and the 
pumper stood on a high elevation and pumped water into a huge trough that 
carried it over the kettles quite a distance away. Three hundred strokes of the 
big heavy handle were considered one man's task before he was permitted to 
rest, day in and day out. The most salt that could be made at that time was 
seven bushels per day and the price had been reduced to 50 cts. per bu. At 
this rate there was not profit enough in the works to have it worth while to keep 
them up. When the springs were first opened the brine yielded i bu. of salt 
to 170 gallons of water and made 40 to 50 bu. of salt per week. Later a cavity 
of 18 in. was found from which flowed a much stronger brine 100 gallons of 
which yielded a bu. of salt. The production became 120 bushels per week. 

The salt sold readily at the sajt works for from $1.25 to $1.50 per busheL 
Much of it was taken down the river in pirogues to supply the country there 
A great deal of it was taken away in wagons and much of it was taken on horse- 
back in sacks by people who were too poor to own a team. 

People came from as far as the settlements at Buffalo, Elkhart Grove, the 
Sangamon and Illinois rivers and from the neighborhood of Rockville and Rose- 
dale Indiana. This prosperity continued until the discovery of great quantities 
of brine upon the Kanawha river and the completion of a government pier at 
the mouth of the Chicago Creek, making a practical harbor, where vessels could 
safely enter, made competition which could not be met at the Vermilion Salines. 
The works were finally abandoned, the buildings being vacant, were destroyed, 
and, at last, the very existence of this, at one time most important industry of 
eastern Illinois, is forgotten and by many can not be located. The settle- 
ment about the old salt works was long ago completely obscured, and now it 
is almost impossible to exactly locate the old wells themselves, without an appeal 
to the few residents of the county who had some one of the past generation tell 
about it, so completely has the change been made. Following the direction given 
by one who yet knows the location of these wells, and going a half mile west 
of the crossing of the Middle Fork, into the bottom, near the north bank of the 
Salt Fork, between the cultivated fields and the river, there is nothing remain- 
ing to show where this once great industry was located. 'All trace has been ef- 
faced, and, strange to say, this is the work of the great rival industry the coal 
operations. Vegetation covers this spot where the wild animals came to get the 


necessary saline matter for their health; where the Indians and the French 
traders who came to them for their furs long before the white man came for 
the salt; where the white man sought wealth for himself and convenience for 
others. The Indians who were here when Major Vance came told him that 
the French traders and the Indians made salt at these springs for at least seventy 
or eighty years before they were developed by the Americans; and they told 
him, they "had no recollection of the time, it was so long ago, that our people 
commenced making salt here." Lost is every sign of the well-worn trail of the 
buffalo and other wild animals which were at the coming of the white man found 
converging at this brakish ooze from many directions. Even the testimony of 
its having been the resort of an abundance of game, by the quantity of broken 
arrow heads to be found in the locality for a half hundred years after Major 
Vance came, is no longer to be found. Grain is reaped on the spot where the 
buffalo and wild fowl roamed to satisfy their desire for salt; the farmer sells 
the produce of the soil from the land which yielded the salt manufacturer his 
wealth, and even the memory of Mother Bloss "who was the last to cling to the 
produce of the salt works," is dim at best in the minds of the people who pass 
this historic spot. 

Had it not been for the finding of salt on the Vermilion River, the history 
of Vermilion County would have differed greatly. 

It was salt and furs that prompted the settlement of this section. Any other 
river would have offered the furs, but at that time the salt was worth more than 
any other thing. It was worth more than any precious metal and of itself, 
induced settlement of this region as nothing else could have done. The fur 
bearing animals along the banks of the streams brought the trader; these in 
turn were driven away by the white man seeking salt and disappeared ; the salt 
attracted the early settler and drove away the trader; this industry yielded all 
trace of its being to the later means of wealth in the region when the coal in- 
terests obliterated all signs of the former source of wealth. 

Surely the way of life comes by abandonment. 




The system which governs the survey of the territories of the United States 
is a peculiar one. It is based upon a plan which makes a division of the land 
into squares of uniform size, so arranged that any tract of 160 acres, or a "quar- 
ter section," may have its distinct designation and be readily found upon the 
map, or recognized upon the ground by the marks the surveyors leave. Apple- 
ton's American Encyclopedia describes this plan clearly and concisely as follows : 

Each great survey is based upon a meridian line run due north and south 
by astronomical measurements, the whole extent of the survey in these direc- 
tions, and upon a "standard parallel" or base line, running east and west, sim- 
ilarly established with great accuracy. Parallels to these lines are run every six 
miles, usually with the solar compass corrected by frequent celestial observations, 
and thus, as nearly as the figure of the earth admits, the surface is divided into 
squares of six miles north and south and the same east and west, each one 
containing thirty-six square miles. The territory is further divided into sec- 
tions by meridians and parallels run at every mile ; while the half mile is marked 
on these lines by setting what is called a "quarter post," the points are established 
for the subdivisions into quartersections. 

The squares of thirty-six square miles are termed townships, often con- 
tracted into "towns;" and each line of theml east and west is numbered either 
N. or S. from the base line, and each line of them N. and S. is termed a range, 
and either numbered E. or W. from the meridian. The N. and S. lines bor- 
dering the townships are known as range lines, and the E. and W. lines as town- 
ship lines. Each survey is designated by the meridian upon which it is based, 
and of these principal meridians there are six designated by numbers, and 
eighteen by special names. The first meridian adopted for these surveys was the 
boundary line between Ohio and Indiana; the second through Indiana on the 
meridian of 86 degrees 28 minutes, west from Greenwich ; the third through Illi- 
nois, beginning at the mouth of the Ohio river ; the fourth north from the mouth 
of the Illinois river ; the fifth north from the river Arkansas ; the sixth on the 
4Oth parallel of longitude. 



After a township is determined the sections of it are numbered beginning 
with the northeast corner, running thence across and back until the 36th is 
reached in the southeast corner. 

Because of the conquest of the Northwestern Territory by George Rogers 
Clark, and the addition of this land north and west of the Ohio river to the 
United States by surrender of her rights on the part of the commonwealth of 
Virginia, there remained but satisfactory treaties to be made with the Indians 
to open the country to the use of the white settler. 

William Henry Harrison was appointed governor of the territory of Indiana 
at the time of its organization, in 1800, and not only that but he was made 
general Indian agent for that territory which extended to the Mississippi river on 
the west, and to the line of the state of Ohio on the east. This territory held the 
most numerous and most populous Indian tribes west of the Mississippi river. 

William Henry Harrison served his country in many and various ways, and 
at last was given the highest honor the nation can confer upon any one yet no 
where did he render greater service than in the official dealings he had as super- 
intendent of Indian affairs. He extinguished the title of the Indians to a greater 
part of the territory in Indiana and Illinois and in all his dealings with them his 
conduct was marked by a kindness and fair dealing which won him their con- 
fidence and esteem. His correspondence, both official and private, well shows 
that he had a tender regard for, and understanding of, the unfortunate race and 
a desire to protect their rights against the designs of the unscrupulous white 
man. At the same time he was as anxious to shield the white man from the 
aggressions of the Indian. It is said that Governor Harrison, while in this of- 
ficial capacity, was acquainted with almost every prominent chief of the many 
tribes within his jurisdiction, and by his tact and honest dealing he attracted 
many of the leading savages to bonds of closest friendship. 

It was during his term as superintendent of Indian affairs that he was in- 
strumental in securing the treaty by which the coveted strip of land, now known 
as the Harrison Purchase, was ceded to the United States. This land, a por- 
tion of which lies within the boundary of what is now Vermilion County, was 
long coveted by Harrison, but it was not until the treaty held at Fort Wayne, 
September 3Oth, 1809, that it was obtained. This land was run out in 1810, 
but, because of the trouble with the Indians at that time, nothing more was 
done then. 

This preliminary survey was made by John McDonald, of Vincennes, who 
was probably the first man who ever set a surveyor's compass thus far up the 
Wabash. Events quickly followed which led to the battle of Tippecanoe and 
the war of 1812, during all of which time the enmity of the savages kept the 
settlements of southern Illinois and Indiana in constant peril and held back im- 
migration. After the close of the war the Harrison Purchase was surveyed and 
the hardy pioneer took possession. 

This, however, opened up but a small portion of what is now Vermilion 
County. It was not until the treaty of 1819, made at Edwardsville, Illinois, on 
the thirtieth day of July, between the United States and the Kickapoo Indians, 
that the territory therein described of which Vermilion County is a part, was 
surveyed and opened to the occupancy of the white man. 


The territory ceded at this time was bounded as follows: Beginning at the 
northwest corner of the Vincennes tract (about twenty miles northwest of Vin- 
cennes), thence northeasterly to the dividing line between the states of Indiana 
and Illinois, thence along said line to the Kankakee river ; thence with said river 
to the Illinois river ; thence down the latter to the mouth ; thence with a direct 
line to the northwest corner of the Vincennes tract, the place of beginning. The 
language of his treaty recites that, "said Kickapoo tribe claims a large portion 
by descent from their ancestors, and the balance by conquest from the Illinois 
nation and undisputed possession for more than half a century." 

This new territory was duly surveyed and became the undisputed property 
of the white man. When this survey was made the fact was discovered that there 
was a discrepancy between it and the survey of the Harrison Purchase, of three- 
quarters of a mile. Because of this fact, there is a dip of that extent in the 
lower part of not only this county but of those south as far as the territory of 
the Purchase goes. 


Any map of Vermilion county shows an odd extension of irregular shape on 
the south side, very near to the eastern border. This extension looks as though 
a wedge-shaped piece of land had been attempted to have been driven into the 
county, and did not get entirely in. Following the lines marking the east and 
west boundaries of this wedge, they are found to meet at a little east of Ridge 
Farm. The area included in this boundary is that part of the Harrison Purchase 
which falls within Vermilion County. When William Henry Harrison, who was 
at that time the Superintendent of Indian affairs of the Indiana Teritory, had 
arranged the purchase of the land he so much desired for the United States and 
had concluded the treaty with the Delawares, the Kickapoos, the Pottowatomies, 
the Miamis and the Eel River Indians, at Fort Wayne, September 30, 1809, he 
came back to locate the new possession. He and the selected Indians met at a 
certain rock in a grove a little to the east of what is now Ridge Farm. Knowing 
nothing of the use of the compass, the Indians stipulated that the line bounding 
the east of the tract should run in the direction of the sun at ten o'clock in the 
morning, and that the western boundary line should run in the direction of the 
sun at one o'clock in the afternoon. The agreement was that such territory 
as fell within the boundary of the extent of a man's riding in two days and a half, 
would be included in this purchase. All the requirements were met and, it is said, 
that on the return trip, the grove from which the riders started was their pilot 
back. It was the only grove of trees in that part of the country and it safely 
piloted them back, and was for that reason called Pilot Grove. 

The west line of this tract of land extends south and west, passing through 
Marshall, the east line crosses the Wabash at the mouth of Raccoon Creek, 
below Newport, Indiana, and continues north and east of Terre Haute. The 
easterly line of this survey has always been called the "ten o'clock line" and the 
westerly boundary the "one o'clock line" by old settlers and early surveyors. 
Near the north side of the Harrison Purchase lay a very fertile section which 
early attracted settlement, and was known as the North AYm Prairie. This was 
the source of the early settlement of Vermilion County. On account of the 


difference in the survey of the Harrison Purchase and the later U. S. survey of 
three quarters of a mile, the boundary lines of Vermilion and Edgar Counties 
on the south, and Edgar and Clark Counties on the north, have always been 


That small portion of the "Harrison Purchase" which extended into Vermilion 
County was the only part of this territory which was surveyed up to 1821. After 
the treaty made at Edwardsville, July 30, 1819, which forever extinguished the 
claim of the Indians, the United States surveyors came. Unlike their prede- 
cessors, the Indians, their work was to be permanent; it was to last through 
all time, and to be a law to all future dwellers in the land. The lines, as then 
fixed and marked by these surveyors, are the lines which now divide the townships 
and farms of the county and which determine its boundaries, and the location 
of its public roads. A detailed account of the first surveys of Vermilion County 
has been secured from the General Land Office at Washington, and is as folows : 

Beginning with Tp. 23, R. 14 W. it is found that E. Steen recorded survey in 
November 18, 1882. 

Township 22, R. 14 W. is the same. 

Township 21, R. 14 W. is recorded by John Messinger, June 13, 1821. 

Township 20, R. 14 W. is recorded by James Thompson, August 23, 1821. 

Townships 19, 18, and 17, R. 14 W. are the same as Tp. 20, R. 14 W. 

Townships 23 and 22, R. 13 W. are recorded by E. Steen, November 18, 1822. 

Township 21, R. 14 W. is recorded by J. Messinger, June 13, 1821. 

Township 20, R. 14 W. is recorded by Beal Greenup, July 5, 1821. 

Townships 19, 18, and 17, R. 13 W. are recorded in the same way. 

Townships 21, 22, and 23, R. 12 W. are recorded by E. Steen, November 
18, 1822. 

Townships 17, 18, 19, and 20, are recorded by Joseph Borough, September 
12, 1821. 

Townships 21, 22, and 23, R. n W. are recorded by W. L. Hamilton and 
Elias Rector, December 3, 1822. 

Townships 17, 18, 19, and 20, are recorded by J. B. McCall, November 
12, 1822. 

In making these surveys these men marked the section corners by throwing 
up mounds of earth around stakes which had been charred in the camp fire, 
and driven into the ground, and they were left so well marked that other sur- 
veyors easily found them after many years. 









After the close of the Revolutionary war, there was an invasion of the North- 
west Territory made by Spanish troops who crossed the state and came into 
what is now Vermilion County. The point toward which these troops were 
marching was the British fort at the mouth of the St. Joseph river near the 
south end of Lake Michigan. Whether any more important results were con- 
templated than a temporary possession of this fort, has never been known. 
The land west of the Mississippi river, since known as the Louisiana Purchase, 
at that time belonged to Spain. St. Louis was its capital. It was from this 
point that the invasion was made. 

On January 2, 1781, a small army of perhaps one hundred and fifty men 
under a Spanish officer crossed the Mississippi river on their way to march 
across the state of Illinois. This army was about equally divided between white 
men and Indians, while the white men were about half Frenchmen and half 
Spanish soldiers. Their objective point was the nearest fort which yet floated 
the flag of Great Britain. This was old Fort St. Joseph, located in southern 
Michigan. The only possible motive for this expedition was the hatred of the 
Spanish for Great Britain, and this was an echo of the trouble in the old 
country between these two, at that time, important European powers which 
were at war with each other. The march was started in mid-winter. Since 
the waterways were frozen, the march must be made by land, and since they did 
not dare venture on the prairies because of the extreme cold winds and the 
danger of losing their way, their line of travel was along the banks of the 
streams. It is not exactly known what trail they took, but it is agreed by all 
writers that they left the state at about where Danville now is, going thence 
in a northerly direction, to South Bend, Indiana. This distance of four hundred 
miles in the dead of winter must have occasioned much suffering. Although 
this coming of a foreign people had no effect upon affairs of this section, a 
natural interest in them makes a record of their after course admissible here. 



This impoverished Spanish army was under command of Don Eugenie 
Pourre. They surprised Fort St. Joseph, and captured it without trouble. 
Hauling down the flag of Great Britain and hoisting that of Spain, they took 
up their triumphal march back to St. Louis, whence they sent word of the cap- 
tured territory to Spain. It took a year to get the report to Spain, and no 
important results were ever recorded of this expedition. It might be that this 
was one link in a chain which Spain was forging to gain possession of more 
land in America; it may be that Vermilion County at that time really stood in 
danger of becoming a part of Spain in the new world, and had it not been for 
the clear vision and firm stand taken by Jay, Franklin and Adams this heroic 
march across this section would have proven a decisive act to that end. 

As a proof that this particular section lay in the way of this march, the 
finding of two cannon balls in a valley a few miles west of Danville, has been 
cited. These cannon balls found some years ago about where the old Kickapoo 
village once stood, were in the range of any small piece of artillery planted on 
the nearby hills, and they are considered by some writers to be a relic of this 
expedition, but it seems with little reason, a more reasonable accounting for their 
presence is the fact of a later invasion of the section by Gen. Hopkins' army. 

It must be remembered that, at the close of the war of the Revolution, 
and until after the war of 1812, the northern and western frontiers suffered a 
great deal at the hands of the Indians who were instigated to utmost cruelty by 
the remnants of the representatives of Great Britain. Although defeated at 
the first war Great Britain was not convinced that America was a lost province, 
until after the second war. The Indians in the Wabash valley were particularly 
hostile. Western Indiana and eastern Illinois comprised a section where life 
was always in danger. The massacre at Fort Dearborn occurred less than two 
months after war had been declared with Great Britain in 1812, and aroused 
the people of the Illinois Territory. Governor Edwards gathered and organized a 
force of Illinois Rangers at Camp Russell, near Edwardsville into two regiments, 
placing these troops under the command of Col. Russell of the regular army. 

Another available force was the two thousand mounted riflemen of Kentucky 
who were under the command of Gen. Samuel Hopkins, a veteran Revolutionary 
officer. These troops were in camp at Vincennes. To effect the best results 
it was agreed that the forces- should act in concert to the end of destroying 
Indian villages in this terrorized section. Gen. Hopkins was to move up the 
Wabash river to Fort Harrison, burning Indian towns and driving the refugees 
before him. Then he was to cross the Wabash river into Illinois Territory, march 
across the Grand Prairie to the Illinois river at Peoria Lake, where he would be 
met by Gen. Russell and Gov. Edwards, the united forces to annihilate the 
Indians along the Illinois river. The plan was a good one for the men wha 
were hunting what they considered wild animals that were a menace to the 
life of human beings. However, this campaign has gone down in history as a 
cruel attempt to wanton murder of many who were perfectly innocent, and is 
equaled only by records of revolting massacres on the part of the wildest savages 
themselves. The unnecessary cruelties perpetrated at La Pe, reflects anything 
but credit to the Illinois Rangers. La Pe was a French and Indian village, upon 
the site of which the present city of Peoria is built. Its people were in no 


way hostile. Yet the traders, voyageurs, Indians and even the agent, who was 
a loyal and confidential officer of the government, were all compelled to watch 
their village as it was burning, and then to mlarch many miles from their homes 
to be left to wander back to their desecrated town, and accept what remained of 
it as best they could. This is but one instance of this onesided warfare. General 
Hopkins was chagrined because of the refusal of his troops to proceed after 
the fourth day's march, yet that disgrace was not more lasting than was the 
other obedience to orders which in themselves were a reflection on the manhood 
of the commanding officers. Had Gen. Hopkins and his men gone on and par- 
ticipated in the cowardly conduct of the Illinois Rangers, history would have 
given them an even less glorious place. 

This army under command of Gen. Hopkins was composed of an aggregation 
of undisciplined men, enlisted as they believed to defend their own borders of 
Kentucky alone. Discontent arose before they left Vincennes at the idea of 
going into the interior of the territory, and it increased as they proceeded until, 
at Fort Harrison, some of the men broke off and returned home. After this, 
harmony appeared to prevail until they reached the Grand Prairie, when the 
silence necessary to an army in an enemy's country was broken, the abundant 
game tempting the men to straggle, and a constant firing ensued in spite of the 
commands of Gen. Hopkins himself. It was the rainy season, there were no 
competent guides to be had, they lost their way, and confusion prevailed only 
short of insubordination. When they encamped for the night of the fourth 
day out in a grove of timber affording water, the Indians in front set fire to 
the prairie grass which compelled the soldiers to fire the grass around the camp 
for protection. This was the last test of the endurance of the troops, and the 
officers determined to disobey the orders of Gen. Hopkins, and return to their 
homes. They agreed to his dictated order of return march, he, thinking he 
could destroy some Indian villages on the way, but the men broke through all 
restraint, the regiment became a mob, and each man chose the way he desired. 
The actual line of march taken by these troops is determined only by the 
direction and the distance known to have been traveled. Knowing the direction 
of these troops and the distance traveled, the decision of whence came the cannon 
balls found on the bluffs of the Middle Fork in 1869 is more readily made. 

Judge Cunningham, in his history of Champaign County, gives as his opinion, 
and adds reasonable proof, that the grove with water "which fixed their camp 
on October igth, was the Big Grove on the Salt Fork timber, and that the 
prairie, which then skirted it, was the scene of the brave old General's discom- 
fiture. " That being the case, there is little doubt that the old Kickapoo village 
within "one and a half miles" of the old salt springs, was devastated by these 
very troops. While cutting down an abrupt bluff of the Middle Fork of the 
Vermilion river, ten males west of Danville for the passage of the Indiana, 
Bloomington & Western Railway in 1869, the workmen took from the loose 
shale composing the bluff, two cannon balls of iron, each about three inches in 
diameter, which balls were in the possession of the late Hon. H. W. Beckwith 
previous to his death. There was no one able to account for their presence in 
that bluff. The only reasonable assumption appears to be that these balls were 
thrown from light field pieces which Gen. Hopkins' army carried with them. 


The only other armed force which ever passed this way was the Spaniards who 
came in 1781. If this army did pass near the Indian village it is hardly possible 
that it carried guns of sufficient caliber to have thrown these balls where they 
were found. Gen. Hopkins made his campaign in the early autumn when 
transportation across the country was comparatively easy, the distance from 
Fort Harrison, his base of supplies, being not more than eighty miles. His 
object was the destruction of Indian villages and the Kickapoo village was here 
where the cannon balls were found. Furthermore, General Hopkins had a force 
of 2,000 well-armed and mounted men while the Spanish force did not exceed 
150 men and officers combined, who were on a long winter march and were 
provided, we must conclude, with nothing to impede the work in hand, which 
it must be borne in mind was to surprise and capture a force much smaller 
than their own, protected only by a weak stockade. 

Still standing in Catlin 







The first settlement made in Vermilion County was at the Salt Springs. This 
settlement was made while yet the springs were a part of Edgar County. Joseph 
Barren discovered the salt springs on the Vermilion and returned to Fort Har- 
rison to take out necessary papers that he might immediate develop them. While 
he was gone, Truman Blackman, who had been one of his party organized an- 
other party and made an expedition to the same place that he might claim the 
discovery. When Blackman himself returned to make out his papers, he left 
two men to stay in possession until the third could come back with his family 
and make a settlement. Francis Whitcomb and the two Beckwiths, who were 
left at the springs were all single men and can not be counted as settlers until 
after the coming of Seymour Treat who was gone after his family. 

In the later pa'tr of November, 1819, Seymour Treat arrived at the Springs 
with his wife and family, bringing his household goods, the first settler of what 
is now known as Vermilion County. Seymour Treat had been here before, he 
having been one of the party who came with Truman Blackman, and returned 
to Fort Harrison for his family and tools to develop the salt works. He came up 
the Wabash river to the mouth of the Vermilion river and thence to the springs 
in a pirogue. This way had probably been the one taken by Barren, and avoided 
by the second exploring party, perhaps because of the fear of their expedition 
being discovered. 

The first thing to be done upon the arrival of Treat and his family was to 
get some place where they could have shelter. The Beckwiths and Whitcomb 
were all good axemen and with their help it was not long before a good cabin 
was put up. This, the first house built in this section, was constructed of small 
logs. It was about fourteen feet square with one room. Thus the first settle- 
ment was begun and Seymour Treat, Francis Whitcomb, and the two Beckwiths 
were the first settlers. Treat afterward moved to the site of what was later 



Denmark and building a mill there became the first settler of what, for a time, 
was a very important settlement and came very nearly being made the county 

These first settlers of what is now Vermilion County came from the South, 
Treat and Whitcomb from Fort Harrison and the Beckwiths from the North 
Arm Prairie, where they were living with Jonathan Mayo. These two young 
men came from New York State three years previous to this time, just as the 
Harrison Purchase was being surveyed, and located for two years in Vigo 
County, Indiana, coming to the North Arm Prairie in 1818. The two young men 
and Francis Whitcomb were better enabled to endure the hardships which they 
found in this part of the country than were the women and children. With their 
nearest neighbors on the North Arm Prairie some forty miles away, the loneli- 
ness was more~than can be imagined. The men could hunt and fish and find ad- 
venture in the wild country surrounding them, but the women and little children 
were left to work as their only way of passing the time, or to the more wearing 
idleness which gave opportunity to grieve over broken home ties, in the more 
densely populated old home towns. 

The year after the settlement was made at the salt springs, James Butler 
came to the point of timber near where the Catlin Fair Grounds were later lo- 
cated, and entered land. Two or three of his neighbors came with him from 
Clark County, Ohio, and also took up claims. Johnson built his cabin on the right 
hand side of the road leading west of Catlin and on the east side of the branch 
which was called by his name. Here he put in a crop and the next spring re- 
turned to Ohio to fetch his family to their new home. It was a lonely place to 
build a home and it took courage for a woman to take her little children into 
this wilderness. Their nearest neighbors were at the Salt Springs. Even at that 
place there were but few people. The men who first came out with Butler from 
Ohio lost courage and refused to return with him, preferring to stay in their old 
homes. Life in new settlements was bad enough when several families united 
in forming a colony, but when one family left their old home and settled in a 
strange place alone, it took great courage. A half dozen years previous to this 
time Butler had left his boyhood home in Chittenden County, Vermont, to locate 
in Ohio and had never been satisfied, so that this opportunity to go yet farther 
west pleased him. Illinois was a new country, having been a commonwealth but 
two years at this time. But the loneliness and uncertainty of a life among the 
Indians in this far away place beyond civilization, in spite of the treaty now in 
force, were more than the friends of Butler could face, so it was but the one 
family who made this settlement at Butler's Point. 

Within two or three years Butler's Point became an important settlement. 
Robert Trickle, John Light, Asa Elliott and Harvey Luddington (the latter from 
the salt works) all came to this settlement before Butler had been here two 
years, and this settlement was conspicuous in the affairs of the earliest days of 
this section. About the time Asa Elliott came Francis Whitcomb moved from 
the Salt Works settlement to the nearby place where Catlin is now located, 
married and made it his permanent home, living there until late in life when he 
moved yet further west. About two years after the Butler's Point settlement was 
assured, a little clearing in the timber some six miles west of the Salt Works 



was made by Lewis Bailey. Bailey sold this land to Harvey Luddington in a 
short time. The little stream nearby was known as Luddington's branch for 
years, but afterward, as Stony Creek. Later, when Mr. Walker opened a farm 
up the creek near the present town of Muncie, the place became known as 
Walker's Point, but was never a promising settlement. The same year James D. 
Butler built the first cabin which was the beginning of Butler's Point. Henry 
Johnson began a settlement two miles west of present day Georgetown by build- 
ing a cabin on section 36 (18-12), afterward calling it Johnson's Point. 

Henry Johnson was a man of sterling character and, as a neighbor always 
held out a helping hand. Absolom Starr, Henry Johnson's brother-in-law, joined 
him the following year. Also another brother-in-law by the name of Barnes 
came to this settlement. Jotham Lyons took up land just west of Johnson's and 
John Jordon settled a little to the east. Absolom Starr came from Palestine, 
Illinois, where the land office was located. He selected a piece of ground which 
he thought he wanted and went back to Palestine where he raised corn and wheat 
enough in the season of 1821 to last him and his family as flour and meal for a 
year. Few pioneers came into a new country better equipped for the first year's 
living. He brought his wife and four children to Johnson's Point and built 
them a little cabin. A letter written by Henry Johnson addressed to William 
Lowery, the member of the legislature from Clark County at that time, and yet 
preserved, fixes the date of the beginning of this settlement beyond a doubt. The 
letter is dated "Achilles Township, November 22, 1822." In it the statement is 
made that Johnson "had a knowledge of this township since October, 1820." This 
letter goes on to describe "Achilles township," which evidently embraced the 
whole territory of Clark County watered by the two Vermilion rivers, and ex- 
tending as far north as the Kankakee river. 

John Hoag and Samuel Munnell began a settlement north of the Little Ver- 
milion, the year Henry Johnson settled south of that stream. This settlement 
was just southwest of the present village of Indianola. William Swank came 
to this section in 1820 and his farm embraced a part of the present town of 
Indianola. Alexander McDonald came here in 1822. He, with his father-in-law 
entered much land around here and this place was long known as the McDonald 
Neighborhood. A settlement was begun at what was long known as Brooks' 
Point, the same, or the year following the beginning of Johnson's Point. Benja- 
min Brooks came from Indiana and chose a place on the Little Vermilion for his 
future home. Returning to Indiana for his family, a Mr. Spence took this land 
in his absence. Mr. Brooks was very much disappointed, and had it not been 
for Benjamin Canady, who had just come from Tennessee, he would have been 
in a sorry plight with his family and no land upon which to build a cabin. 
Benjamin Canady was a tinker and peddler and had land further north which he 
let Mr. Brooks have, and this point of timber became the well known Brooks 
Point during the first years of the life of Vermilion County. The site of old 
Brooks Point is now known as Kelleyville. While Benjamin Brooks was in 
Indiana, Bob Cotton and Thomas O'Neal came to this same section. Thomas 
O'Neal came from Nelson County, Kentucky, and lived at Brooks Point. His 
son James O'Neal was the first white child born in the territory that is now Ver- 
milion County. It, however, was a part of Edgar County at that time, 


and for three years afterward. He lived in the Brooks Point neighborhood 
for three years and then entered 80 acres of land on the Big Ver- 
milion, near where the Kyger mill was later a landmark. A neighborhood, 
first called Morgan's, and afterward McHenry, was settled south of Brooks' 
Point. Subel Ellis, James Ogden and John and Lewis Ritter, were in this 
neighborhood. Jacob Brazleton settled just north of them. Achilles Morgan, 
with his son-in-law, Henry Martin, came into what is now Vermilion County 
five years before it was organized as such, and after stopping at one or two points, 
located about three miles west of Georgetown. They came from Virginia and 
his other daughter with her husband George Brock visited them shortly and 
also located at the same place. The name of Achilles Morgan is associated with 
public affairs of the county in the '205 and '305, and his descendants have left 
their impress upon its development. He was one of the first three county 

Soon after the first settlement at the Salt Springs, Mr. Starr, an uncle 
of Absolom and Barnett Starr, who were well known and pioneers of the 
county, bought land in the then northern part of Edgar County, but later he came 
to the southern part of Vermilion County. He bought eight hundred and eighty 
acres of land through which the Little Vermilion river flowed. Mr. Starr lived 
in Palestine where the land office was located and he bought much land for specu- 
lative purposes. This particular land he traded to John Myers for the eighty 
acres of land he had in Ohio. John Myers was better known in his day as 
"Injun John" and was, as may be inferred from his nickname ,a man of strong 
characteristics. On his way out here Myers offered his brother-in-law a quarter 
section of this land if he would come with him. This his brother-in-law Joseph 
Frazier agreed to do. The particular tract which Frazier received is now a 
part of the well known Sconce farm. A year later Simon Cox came to this 
section and took up land. This was in 1822. Later he and Myers commenced 
to build a mill. First they tried a water mill, and they put in steam, but as 
neither were practical millwrights, they did not succeed in this enterprise. Peter 
Summe assisted in building this mill. It was located about a mile south of what 
today is Indianola and formerly was Chillicothe. Moses Bradshaw came to this 
neighborhood about the time Myers and Frazier came. He stayed here but a 
short time, however. The Richmond family lived here one winter and summer 
and then moved on. 

The beginning of the settlement of Vermilion, now known as Vermilion 
Grove, was the cabin built by John Malsby in 1820. To be sure he abandoned 
the house and returned to his old home in Richmond, Indiana, so that the fol- 
lowing winter, when Mr. Haworth came with his young family he found shelter 
already provided. Mr. Haworth had left Tennessee three years before to get 
away from the institution of slavery which he hated, and had spent the interim 
in Union County, Indiana. He entered several hundred acres of land about 
Vermilion, but did not hold it for himself nor sell it at high price ; rather, when 
anyone came along whom he thought would be a desirable neighbor, he sold 
his land cheap and on time payments, if so desired. In this way he lay the 
foundation for a community of good people. His uncle, George Haworth, soon 



came to this neighborhood, and together with his brothers and their descendants, 
have made the name a familiar and respected one in this part of Illinois. 

Henry Canady with his five sons came from Tennessee in the autumn of 
1821, the same year that Mr. Haworth came. But they became discontented and 
returned to their old home in the Spring. They did not stay, however, but by 
Fall they were all back this time to locate permanently. When land came into 
market Mr. Canady entered about two sections and sold it out at congress prices 
with interest. This selling of small tracts of land to different owners by such 
men as Mr. Haworth and Mr. Canady, cut a part of that section of the county 
into small farms which could be cultivated more thoroughly than larger farms, 
and opened that region more quickly than any other. These small farms were 
later bought up by John L. Sconce, John Sidell and other large owners who have 
turned them into vast estates. These first settlements in what is now Vermilion 
County, but which were made before the county was organized as such were 
few and all lay along the two Vermilion rivers, the Middle Fork and Salt Fork 
of the Big Vermilion and the two Stony Creeks. Along the Little Vermilion 
the points of timber running out into the prairie were first chosen, and Yankee 
Point, and Quaker Point, became well known settlements. The first named set- 
tlement, that of Yankee Point, was so named because Mr. Squires 'settled here 
at an early day and being from the east his "yankee" ways were more noticed 
since he was the only man who had not come from the South. 

Quaker Point was settled by those who belonged to the society of Friends or 
Quakers. This settlement was also called Bethel. The early settlers clung to the 
timber for a decade. They were afraid of the prairie, were sure no one could 
live away from the timber, and that the prairie was fit only as a range for their 
cattle. The early settlements were all made about the same date, that is, in 1821, 
or 22, or 23. They were at the Salt Springs, Butler's Point, Johnson's Point, 
Brooks' Point, Vermilion, Elwood, Yankee Point and Quaker Point. The Mc- 
Donald neighborhood, Morgan's and near what is now Indianola. The settle- 
ment at the mouth of the North Fork of the Vermilion river was not made until 
after the county was organized and a county seat was contemplated. There was 
not any settlement at this place but land had been entered, and the location of 
the county seat was desired and secured in spite of the fact that promising set- 
tlements had been made in other parts of the newly organized county. It was 
not until January, 1827, that the selection was made of the land donated at the 
mouth of the North Fork of the Vermilion river, as the future county seat of 
the newly formed Vermilion County and its settlement begun. This was two 
years after a settlement had been made to the north by John LeNeve, and a 
number from Ohio and Kentucky. The beginning of this settlement was made 
by Obadiah and John LeNeve, who came from Lawrence County (it was then 
Crawford County), Illinois, provided to make their future home in this section. 
Their first house was primitive in the extreme, being but a square laid up with 
logs and one half covered with puncheons, although the entire structure was 
chinked and well filled with pulled grass. This cabin was built in the winter of 
1824 and 1825. In 1828 Samuel Copeland began a settlement west of here and 
the same year Mr. Partlow with his family of four sons came to the Middle 
Fork of the Big Vermilion river to make a new home. He came from Kentucky. 


The majority of the settlers of Vermilion County came from the South. Some 
came from Ohio and a few came from further east yet, but they were not many. 
Those who came first and settled Salt Springs developing them were from the 
North Arm Prairie, and those following and settling in other sections came from 
that section, and yet further South. Unlike many new countries the most of 
these pioneers were law abiding men and developed into good citizens. The large 
numbers of adherents of the faith of Friends made the material from which to 
secure the very best people possible for a growing country. 

Many of these pioneers came from Tennessee and North Carolina, because 
they were anxious to escape the hated institution of slavery. Many came from 
Ohio where they had paused for perhaps a generation on their way west from 
Virginia or some other eastern locality. Many others came directly from Vir- 
ginia. They came by way of the Ohio and Wabash rivers and they came through 
the country on horseback or with ox teams. The motives which brought them 
were as various as were their direction from their old homes. Not all came to 
escape a hated institution in their old homes as did the Haworths and the Can- 
adays who settled and developed the peaceful valley along the Little Vermilion 
river ; some saw a future through the salt industry or the fur trade and later in 
the fertile land that was theirs for little more than the taking; and yet others 
were filled with the passion for adventure alone. Such was the diverse material 
which went into the foundation of Vermilion County and made indelible im- 
press upon its institutions. 




The modern road, which leads from place to place and makes speedy travel 
possible, is an evolution of the trail of the Indian which, in turn, was the evolu- 
tion of the track made by some wild animal. The instinct of all animals is to go 
from one feeding spot to another, and to the best and nearest drinking place, 
with as little expenditure of time and energy possible. To this end there is no 
forest so dense, nor plain so wide, that does not show the paths of the wild 
beasts which inhabit it. The buffalo made the first roads, or paths, or trails, as 
you choose to call the tracks he left as a guide to his almost equally untamed 
successor in ownership of the wilds the American Indian. Before the time 
roads were determined by legal proceedings, convenience in travel directed them. 
The Danville and Fort Clark road was surveyed and laid out as a legal road 
about 1834 by an act of the Legislature, but it did not owe its origin to this legal 
action, for it was traveled many years previous to this date. 

In 1828, at its September session, the Board of Commissioners entered an 
order appointing "Runnel Fielder Supervisor of the Fort Clark road from the 
Salt Fork to the western line of Vermilion County." The same order allotted 
all the road work due from residents in townships 19 and 20, in Range 9 and 10, 
to this piece of road. But even this order, of a date so early as it is, was not the 
origin of this well known road. The exact origin will ever remain unknown, 
but it is safe to surmise that, as long ago as the buffalo roamed this country it 
was his path leading from river and grove to the East to river and grove to the 
West, passing the spot where his need for salt was met in the springs located near 
the Salt Fork of the Big Vermilion river. Later the Indian followed the same 
path for the same purpose. Indian villages were located along the lower Ver- 
milion river, the inhabitants of which were intimate friends of the Indians in the 
Kickapoo village at what is now known as "Old Town Timber" in McLean 
County. These Indians chose frequent intercourse and naturally made a trail 
along the old buffalo track. Indeed, this tract must have been used before these 
Kickapoo villages were located, because the Piankeshaws probably knew of the 
direction of the salt water, when they were in possession of this territory, and 



were attracted thither, while their village was located at the mouth of the North 
Fork of the Vermilion. This trail was probably followed by Gen. Hopkins and 
his soldiers, and maybe by the Spanish troops, although that is not credited by 
many. This was by no means the only, nor the first trail which went through 
Vermilion County. The oft times traveled trail which led from Kaskaskia and 
Fort Chartres to Detroit, passed across the southwestern part of the county. 
This trail can yet be discerned in Edgar County, to the south. The region of 
Vermilion County was the center of Indian trails, diverging to the south, the 
west, the southwest, the east, and to the north. The early comers into this sec- 
tion found a well denned road from east to west, crossing what is now Vermilion 
County, which each year showed more and more evidence of travel, as it was used 
by pioneers in going from Ohio to the then "West." This road crossed the Big 
Vermilion river at near the mouth of the North Fork, and crossed the county, 
leaving it at where the line of Champaign County makes the eastern boundary. 
At the point of leaving the county, the Salt Fork of the Vermilion river crosses 
the line a little to the northeast of the present village of Homer. The highway 
was the well known "Fort Clark Road," over which the great tide of immigra- 
tion passed from the states east of the Ohio to the section known as the "Military 
Tract," the name of the lands lying in the western part of Illinois, between the 
Illinois and Mississippi rivers. This "Military Tract" comprised the lands 
given the soldiers of both the wars of the Revolution and that of 1812. There 
are places along this long since abandoned road that yet show its direction. 
These are great gullies, which were worn, first by the hoof of the buffalo, and 
afterward by the oxen and wagon of the pioneer, but it takes the practice 
eye to distinguish these places and the old Fort Clark road is practically lost. It 
long ago was changed from the northern route to the southern way, and the 
highway going in the same direction, is known as the Danville and Urbana road. 
This road runs to the south of the old one but is very much the same which 
was traveled in the long ago through Vermilion County and which is referred 
to in the following description of a traveler in the early twenties : "After safely 
crossing the state of Indiana, then a wilderness, I entered Illinois where Dan- 
ville now is near to where I found a small settlement and some friends. 
I made a short stay at these Salt Works and then took a more northwest course, 
to strike the Illinois river, my map and compass my only guide. I put up usually, 
where night found me. Striking a light with my flint, steel and punk, I wrapped 
myself in my blanket, and with the broad earth for a bed, slept soundly. My 
horse became very cowardly so that he would scarcely crop the grass, which 
was his only sustenance; he would keep close to me, following me wherever I 
went and sleeping at night by my side, and would not leave me at any time. 
With no well defined road, only the Indian trail through high grass and bushes, 
over the broad limitless prairie, or along the timber belts, occasionally meeting 
a party of Indians with whom I conversed only by signs, it is not surprising that 
horse and rider should be lonely, suspicious and fearful." Such was the way 
along the afterward "Fort Clark" road which was the most direct connection of 
the east and the west. The writer of this experience goes on to tell of his 
leaving the Salt Works of the Vermilion, and finding no white man until he 
reached Dillon's Grove in Tazewell County. Later, a road from the east to 


Ottawa, called the "Ottawa road" was built through Vermilion County, passing 
to the north of Danville on the way to Chicago. It was a state road and within 
the memory of many citizens, it was marked with milestones. This road went 
direct from Danville through Denmark and had a branch to the east, north of 
Danville which led through Newell township and carried trade to Covington, 
Indiana. This road was probably the developed trail from Fort St. Louis to 
Vincennes and Fort Detroit which converged at Danville. The north and south 
road known as the "Hubbard Trace" was a very important highway for years. 

The American Fur Company had stations along the way of the country 
between the Illinois and Wabash rivers as early as about 1785. They had trading 
posts on the Iroquois, the Little Wabash, and the Embrass rivers. In 1824 
Gurdon Hubbard was put in charge of the company's trade in this section and 
soon abandoned the trading posts on the Illinois river, doing away with trade 
by the river and introduced pack horses to cover the way between Chicago and 
the southern extreme of the territory. This way or trail from Chicago went 
directly to the Salt Works and thence south, so it is seen that the Hubbard Trace 
(as it was called) was to the west of Danville, instead of being the old direct 
state road. This road was the one most frequently traveled to the north or the 
south, and the old "Fort Clark" road was the one used in going to the east or 
west, during the early days of Vermilion County. And together with the Ottawa 
road met all the requirements of travel of that day. 




When the pioneer came to this section of the country he found an abundance 
of food, which could be secured with little effort upon his part. Wild turkey, 
prairie chicken, quail and deer were plentiful and so tame as be to shot from 
the cabin door. The rivers were stocked with fish, and the wild ducks and other 
water fowl frequented their banks. Although mills were not numerous, the 
corncracker mill of James Butler's was not out of reach of anyone in the county, 
and it was in operation as early as 1823. 

The ingenuity of the early settler, however, was great and even could over- 
come the scarcity of mills and produce material from which to make the ever- 
present corn cake, and the "journey board" was given use in the baking of the 
"journey (johnny) cake." There was an abundance of wild fruit berries, 
grapes and plums and along the Little Vermilion, persimmon and pawpaw 
trees. All this for the first year's of coming. It was not long before the grains 
and cultivated fruits were a part of the daily food, since the fertile land re- 
sponded quickly to cultivation. The pioneer woman responded with as ready 
service in the preparation of this food. There was much rivalry in the skill of 
the women who came to the county in these early days and excellence was 
coveted and secured by the most of them. To be called a good cook was praise 
that was appreciated, and to be the best cook in the neighborhood was a dis- 
tinction devoutly to be desired. The abundance of food naturally led to, perhaps, 
over-feeding, but it also developed the talents of the women in providing their 
tables with a quantity that has made Illinois and Indiana famous for many and 
varied dishes. Each woman vied with her neighbor to have more food upon her 
table and the gatherings of any kind were opportunities to exhibit her power to 
this end. Where there was such an abundance there was little suffering from 
lack of food as in sometimes the case in new countries. 

Corn was eaten in various ways. The cake then served was "pound cake" 
with cornmeal used instead of wheat flour. Mush and milk was a common dish 
for supper; an old settler in telling of this once said, that one should have one 
foot in bed and the other ready, so that as soon as he had finished his supper he 
could go to sleep. Green corn was boiled and roasted, and frequently consti- 
tuted the entire meal. Hominy, known as lye hominy, was prepared by soaking 



the corn in lye made from the wood ashes, until the husk would readily leave the 
grain, when it was pounded in a mortar and thoroughly broken. The mortar 
was made by hollowing a solid, dry stump or log, either with adz or by fire. The 
pestle was made of wood. The cracked corn was of two grades, large hominy 
and small hominy. Add to the large hominy and small hominy, the large pone 
and small pone, Johnny cake, hoe cake and dodgers, dumplings and fried cakes, 
and the use of corn is not yet exhausted. For drink the pioneer sipped his bread 
coffee, crust coffee, meal coffee, and potato coffee, sassafras tea, spicewood tea, 
beech leaf and sycamore-chips tea. Their vegetables were potatoes, pumpkins, 
turnips and for early use, greens or weeds. 

A description of the way in which the women prepared a meal as given by 
Judge Davidson, in telling of early times many years ago, is interesting. He says : 
"The fireplace was about eight feet in the clear. The kettles were hung over the 
fireplace to a strong pole, raised so high above the fire as not to ignite, from heat 
and sparks, and whose ends are fastened in the chimney. The kettles were sus- 
pended on trammels, which were pieces of iron rods, with a hook at each end. 
The uppermost one extended from the pole nearly down to the fire, and with 
one or more short ones, the kettles were brought to their proper height above the 
coals. Wooden hooks were used until iron ones were obtained. A long handled 
frying pan was used in which to fry meat. The women held the frying pan 
while the meat cooked and she cooked also. A more convenient utensil was a 
cast-iron, short handled, three legged spider, or skillet which was set upon the 
coals on the hearth. Turkeys and spare-ribs were sometimes roasted before the 
fire suspended by a string, a dish being placed underneath to receive the drip- 
pings. To care for this meat was often the man's work on a day when he was 
not otherwise busy, and it is told by a devoted daughter who loved to recall his 
doings how he (father) would attend to the roast on Sunday." 

There was little greater effort required to furnish shelter. All material was 
easily procured. To be sure, these houses were of the most primitive character. 
A very common style of house, and one that could be easily constructed with 
tools no more complicated than an axe and, perhaps, an auger, was the cabin built 
wholly with the material to be found in the timber. A description of a house 
built of such material is given by Judge Cunningham in his History of Cham- 
paign County, and as it is as good a picture of a dwelling on that side of the 
county line and is painted with well chosen words, it serves this county as well. 
"Small logs, or poles, suitable to build a house large enough to accommodate the 
family needing it, were cut and hauled to the site chosen for the future home. 
Notching the ends of these logs, with the help of his neighbor or, maybe, an In- 
dian, they were rolled the one above the other on the four sides of the building, 
until the suitables height of wall was obtained. Across the building at intervals 
of three or four feet, other logs or poles were laid, until a foundation for the 
roof of the loft had been prepared, having in view, all the time, symmetry and 
smoothness of the upper room. The ends of this building were then carried up 
a suitable height, for the upper room, when they were, by shortening each suc- 
cessive log, gradually drawn to an apex. Again, logs or poles were laid from 
gable to gable, for the support of the roof, to be made of boards or 'shakes,' of 
suitable length, split from some nearby oak tree. In the absence, or impossibility 


of getting nails with which to fasten the roof, boards, logs or poles were cut of 
suitable length and laid lengthwise of the building, upon each successive course 
of the roofing material. The necessary doors and windows were formed by cut- 
ting spaces through the log walls, in suitable places and of suitable size. Doors 
and window shutters were made from split clapboards and hung on wooden 
hinges. These windows sometimes were covered with paper which had been 
well greased so as to make it, somewhat transparent. Floors were made of 
puncheons split from trees, one side of which was hewed to a plane surface for 
the upper side of the floor, while the other side was notched to the log sleepers, 
upon which the floor rested, the edges of each puncheon being lined and straight- 
ened so as to fit its neighbor. In this way a solid and durable floor could be made 
with no tool other than an axe, and an adz, to level and smooth off after the 
floor had been laid. 

A floor could be made of white ash or oak, which after the necessary wear 
from the feet of the dwellers in the cabin, presented no mean appearance when 
sanded and kept clean. For a ceiling above, a ready and excellent expedient was 
always at hand. In summer time the bank of the linden tree readily cleaves from 
the trunk in sheets as long as the ordinary cabin, and of a width equal to the cir- 
cumference of the log from which it is taken. Enough of this to furnish the 
ceiling of an ordinary cabin could be peeled in an hour or so. Placed upon the 
beams which had themselves been peeled before being placed in position, the in- 
side of the bark turned down, with poles for weights on top to prevent curling, 
a ceiling at once tight and elegant enough for a fairy castle was had, which time 
and smoke from the first place would color most beautifully. A fireplace was 
made by building a chimney against one end of the cabin, using boulders and 
mud which made a cement. This wall against one end of the cabin was six or eight 
feet wide and as high. On top of this wall the chimney was built. This chimney 
consisted of four walls, three or four feet square of sticks split from the oak, 
the interstices being plastered up with common clay. Often, however, for want 
of stones out of which to make the back of the fireplace, it was made of clay by 
first setting firmly in the ground, where the chimney was to stand, posts or 
puncheons of the shape the fireplace was to take, and filling the enclosed space 
with moist clay firmly pounded down. When thus built a sufficient height for a 
fireplace, the chimney was topped out with sticks and clay, high enough to se- 
cure a good draught for the smoke, when the wooden moulds in which the fire- 
place had been set were burned away with a slow fire, and the chimney was com- 
plete. The opening upward, formed by the chimney, served the double purpose 
of letting out the smoke and letting in the light when the window and door open- 
ings were closed to keep out the cold. Many yet living will remember having 
often seen, hung up on the crotches of trees set up, so as to reach out over the 
opening in the chimney above the house, the family supply of meat hams and 
side meat placed there to be cured and smoked for the next summer's use. 
Every one who has used it thus cured, remembers with pleasure the delicious 
flavor given by the smoke from the fire of hickory wood below. After the cabin 
had been completed, and as winter approached, the cracks between the logs were 
chinked, by the insertion between the logs on the inside of triangular prisms 
split from the linn tree and fastened in their places with wedges driven behind 

Aged One Hundred and Eight years 


them into the logs, the outside cracks then being tightly daubed with mud. This 
process was technically called 'daubing.' " 

As time passed the buildings improved. In the building of these better houses 
the logs were usually hewn upon two or four sides, well notched at the corners, 
so as to fit each other closely, the cracks between the logs being well pointed with 
lime mortar. Glass and sash for the windows, lumber for the doors and floors, 
with an attic chamber, nails for the roofs and brick for the chimney, made the 
houses comfortable and inviting. Such houses were occasionally, at a later day, 
covered on the outside with sawed weatherboarding, and painted. Such was the 
house of William Golden, at Yankee Point, which was further improved by a 
coat of red paint. As the facilities for obtaining material increased, the buildings 
grew more pretentious. The first planed floor in Danville was in the house built 
by Dr. Fithian, and as he did not come to this county until 1830, the town had 
been for a half dozen years with puncheon floors. A building is yet standing at 
the edge of Catlin which is made of the bricks, burned in the Twenties, by Fran- 
cis Whitcomb, also one on the opposite side of the road constructed entirely of 
brick which was made at not much later a date. The clothing was in most cases 
decidedly "home made." Not only the garments were cut and put together at 
home, but the material of which they were fashioned was a product of home in- 
dustry. A few sheep to furnish the needed wool, a patch of flax to yield the 
linen for wear in the summer months, and the skins which the hunter secured and 
cured for head and foot wear, gave an abundance of material for personal adorn" 
ment. The women took pride and pleasure in carding and spinning, and weav- 
ing, as well as in sewing and knitting and coloring this material. To excel as a 
spinner, whether on the little wheel, where the flax was made into thread for the 
linen, or on the less difficult large wheel, where the wool threads were made to 
weave into heavier cloth, was a pride. Standing by the "big wheel" and with 
measured tread walking back and forth with a definite object in view of com- 
pleting a given amount of work in a given time, the girls grew into graceful 
womanhood. The large families, which was the rule at that time, made it pos- 
sible for this work to be done in the household. There was no question of 
woman's rights because woman's duties filled her time, and her importance in 
the household was evident. 

She was in evidence in the preparation of the food, for the home, in the 
entire manufacturing of the clothing, and could well leave the provision of shelter 
to the men. This mutual interdependence of men and women in a new country 
tends to bring out the best characteristics in each. When the flax was grown it 
must be pulled, rolled, broken, scutched, swingled, and hatched before it was 
ready to be spun. In rare cases this work was done by the women, but generally 
the hardest was done by the men. It was work which required great strength 
and was better fit for men to do. When the flax was ready the spinner began 
her work. After it was spun into threads the weaver took it and employed both 
skill and strength in her work. When there were several daughters in a family 
the spinning was often done by one, the weaving by another, and the meals 
prepared by yet a third. There were many homes at present where a piece of 
cloth, the product of a grandmother's skill in weaving or spinning, is proudly 
exhibited. One who distinctly remembers the time of spinning of flax, and has 


seen all the implements used in the preparation of a garment from the time it is 
in the stalks of the plant, kindly furnishes the following information : 

"In an early day in this country flax was raised in great abundance, and from 
it was fashioned all the household linen, and much of the wearing apparel. To 
those who have known little in regard to its use or manner of preparation such 
knowledge will be of interest and to those who remember handling the flax, a 
few words on the subject will recall days long gone by. The flax seed was sown 
not later than the first of May and, being of speedy growth, when the season was 
favorable, the crop was harvested in August. The gathering time was called 
'flax-pulling time' as it was gathered in the hand and pulled or jerked from 
the ground by handsful and spread out on the ground in the field in rows to 
'cure' before placing in bundles in the 'flax pen' where the rotting process was 
accomplished. My recollection of this pen is that it was built of rails on four 
posts about four feet high, had a rail floor and no cover. This last was that 
the flax might have the full benefit of the weather, it requiring both the rain and 
the hot sunshine to complete the rotting process which was essential. I can 
remember how, after days of warm sunshine, when there were indications of 
approaching rain, the family would rush to the flax-pen, and each lend a helping 
hand in turning the flax over that it might all be exposed to the weather. After 
the rotting was complete the flax was taken to the break which, in primitive 
times, was a rudely constructed contrivance for breaking the woody inside fibre. 
This break was made of several hickory slats, fastened together at each end 
with pieces of wood, and hinged in such a manner that one end could be raised 
and lowered between other similar slats, which were stationary and some dis- 
tance apart. At one end of the top set of slats was fastened a handle, which 
had to be used vigorously during the flax breaking process. After the breaking 
was complete it was taken to the scutching board which was a very smooth 
hardwood board placed upright with the lower end fastened securely in a heavy 
block of wood. In the top end of this board was a large notch or curve, which 
was made to hold a handful of flax while it went through the scutching process. 
This was accomplished by means of a scutching knife, which was also made of 
hardwood, was about nine inches wide and perhaps twelve or fourteen long and 
very thin. The handful of flax (quite a bunch of it) was thrown across the 
scutching board, held in the left hand, while the right hand wielded the knife 
vigorously to loosen and dislodge the woody fiber. After this it was taken to the 
hatcheling board on which was securely placed a board with two sets of hatchels, 
one coarse and one fine, made of wire and much after the same plan as those 
used in carding machines of modern factories. After the flax had been drawn 
through these many, many times, until all the fiber had been removed, each bunch 
was twisted into a hank of silky texture and was ready to be spun into thread by 
the industrious, thrifty housewife on the little spinning wheel, and made ready 
for the crowning feat which was accomplished with the help of the family loom. 
It was woven into cloth ready to be made into articles for household use and for 
garments for different members of the family. Many were the dextrous achieve- 
ments of our grandmothers in this line all of which, of course, had to be done 
by hand, as at that early day the wildest imagination had never dreamed of a 
sewing machine." 


The garments at that time varied little in cut. The women's dress did not 
change so often and men wore the same cut year after year. But if the fashion of 
the garment were not so complex, and all the work was done by hand the 
stitches which put them together were most carefully taken. With a sewing 
machine and its product never having been seen, the fingers did better work. A 
piece of sewing which has escaped the destruction of the passing years is found 
to be firmly put together and the stitches as accurately taken as any machine 
could make. The skill in sewing as well as the superior strength of the material 
and thread makes these old garments worth preserving. 

At that time the shoes were made at home, but were generally the work of 
some one man who had learned this trade in Ohio, or Kentucky, or some old 
home whence he had come to the new country. These shoemakers would go 
from one house to another and fit out the family with shoes while there. The 
caps worn were made from the skin of the coon and were popular head covering, 
not only because the skins could be easily obtained but these caps were a very 
comfortable protection from the weather. 

The women knit the stockings in the long winter evenings, and in this knitting 
many a woman found a means of expressing, all unconsciously, her secret love 
of the beautiful. Although there was no necessity of doing more than procuring 
a material which would make strong and warm foot covering and to knit it in the 
regular way, a knitter could, if she so choose, color her yarn after she had woven 
it as fine as she cared to do, and knit it in as fancy stitches as she pleased, making 
even so prosaic a thing as a pair of stockings, a "thing of beauty." The woods 
were full of dye stuff which the lingering Indian squaw could teach the woman 
desirous to learn the art of producing brilliant coloring. Some beautiful coverlets 
made by the women of early day in Vermilion County are yet well preserved by 
their descendants and illustrations of these are given in this volume. 

The large number of Friends who came into Vermilion County kept their 
peculiar dress, procuring the material therefor in the same way. Their garments 
were fashioned from a material of different color but it was the product of their 
own industry, just as was the material which fashioned their neighbors' clothes. 

While the cabin was all busy within, without there was no idling. The 
spinning wheel was the stringed instrument upon which the women played and 
they made every house a woolen factory, but the industry was not all found inside 
the cabins. The wooden-mould plow was busy. As description of which, the iron 
part was a bar two feet long, with a broad share of iron welded to it. At the 
extreme part was a coulter that passed through a beam six or seven feet long, to 
which there were attached handles of corresponding length. The mould board 
was of wood, split from a winding piece of timber, or hewed into a winding- 
shape in order to turn the soil over. The triangular harrow or drag, was also 
an early implement. It consisted of two pieces of timber about six feet long and 
five inches square, hewed, before the day of mills, and later sawed. The end of 
one was framed into the end of the other, forming an acute angle, the two sides- 
kept apart by a crosspiece of timber framed into the others near their centers, 
all forming the letter "A." Before iron came, wooden teeth were used, but the 
prevalence of roots destroyed them rapidly, so that iron teeth, twice as heavy as- 


those now used, were obtained as soon as possible. The farming went on slowly 
and arduously these days before modern improvements were made. 

While amusements, as we consider such, were unknown to the pioneer, it 
must not be assumed that he had none. There were many sources of recreation 
not known to those who never get from the irksome jars and annoyances of a 
dense population. In the first place there is a release from restraint, a sense 
of wild freedom peculiar to the frontier that is exhilirating and enjoyable. 
There is no doubt that the Indian in his native wilds; the Arab coursing over 
the sands of the desert; and the pioneer on the broad, unoccupied prairie, 
breathe a fuller inspiration, have a brighter vision, drink in with a keener relish 
the beauties of nature, and have a consciousness of a more noble existence, a 
higher ideal of living and a presence of an Author of all that lives as cannot 
come to the jostled crowd breathing the smoke and offensive odors of the popu- 
lous city or even town. Then too, the occasional social pleasures of pioneer life 
were better enjoyed. A visit to a neighbor settler after weeks or months of 
absence was an occasion of pleasure which is less intense when the going could 
be repeated every day. At such visits experiences were related, family history 
given, news from distant friends exchanged, crop prospects and newcomers were 
discussed, and plenty time was accorded to these social calls to insure friendships 
cemented as is impossible in these days of hurry. These visits were made regu- 
larly, and were a subject of conversation during the life of the people as happy 
experiences. This same cordial friendly feeling is rare to find today, and will 
never return, to a more densely populated country. 

There was an abundance of game which made hunting great sport for the 
men ; then there were the log cabin raisings, and the shucking bees, the quilting 
parties and the churchgoing. If a man had a cabin or a barn to be built, his 
neighbors expected to help him. They would come from far and near, and this 
was an occasion for the women to show excellence in the food provided. An 
occasion of this kind is described in a history of Champaign County written by 
Judge Cunningham, and as there were guests present from Vermilion County, 
and doubtless returned the hospitality of the occasion, it is of interest in this 

It was a barn that was to be raised on the farm of Henry Sadorus in 1832. 
This was to be a double barn ; that is, there were to be two rooms separated by 
a threshing floor, but a roof covered it all. The whole building covered ground 
thirty by sixty feet. Invitations were sent out to neighbors as far away as what 
is now Monticello, and was even sent to Eugene, Indiana. 

In three days' time the men had finished the barn. It \vas built of straight 
ash logs, with a roof of split boards, held in place by weight poles. The thresh- 
ing floor was of split puncheons, so well lined at the edges and smoothed down 
with the adz as to make it perfectly tight. Within the cabin the women were 
busy quilting two bed quilts, and preparing the food for the crowd. As evening 
came on the work was all put away, and the rooms cleared for the dancing. The 
music was a fiddle in the hands of a master fiddler named Knight, who lived in 

The husking bees were occasions of great fun for the young people. The 
corn was taken to the barn, and great effort was made to excel in the work. 





Proud was the man who could husk the most ears in a given time. Boys and 
girls competed and if a red ear was found the frolic grew more or less boisterous, 
because that was the occasion when the girl was kissed. But of all the social 
gatherings, the camp meeting was the best. It was looked forward to as a time 
of greatest social enjoyment as well as of intense interest. As a social factor, 
as well as religious leader, the itinerate Methodist preacher was a boon to the 
frontier giving occasion for the people to come together in their quarterly meet- 
ing and camp meetings. 

Vermilion County was fortunate in having a large number of the Society of 
Friends among the early settlers. The Quaker Quarterly was a happy occasion 
for the young and old people alike. Court week was a source of recreation to 
many of the early settlers, whether they had business at the county seat or not 
Wolf hunts were made occasions of healthy sport, and even yet stories of wolves 
are told at Old Settlers' meetings, as personal experiences. One prominent early- 
citizen of Vermilion County, who was the father and grandfather of many who 
have since been history makers in this section, took advantage of a characteristic 
of wolf nature and saved his flock of sheep one night in the long ago. The sheep 
were penned up in an enclosure built against the cabin, "because," his son says, 
"wolves would not kill sheep if so penned up. They wanted, them out in the 
open, where they would run and the wolves chase them." Being so penned up 
on bright nights when the moon was shining the owner of them who, by the way, 
was a gentle natured Quaker, was awakened by the baying of wolves quite near, 
and looking through the cracks of the cabin he saw a wolf on the top of the rude 
fence with which he had enclosed the sheep. Reaching for his trusty rifle, he 
shot not only that one but the others as they approached, without leaving his bed. 

It has been said that there were more homesick women than men in the early 
settlements and doubtless Vermilion County was no exception to the rule; and 
this was largely due to the fact of more provision being made for amusements 
for men than for women. True it is that the home duties kept the women from 
as much relaxation as the men had, but they were not entirely deprived of the 
social amusements. In the first place they had the pleasures of their homes, and 
the care of their children free from the obligations of the wearisome demands 
of society, and then they were not lacking in intercourse with their fellows. A 
quilting bee brought the women of the neighborhood together, and usually lasted 
all day, the guests sometimes coming before breakfast and staying until dark. 
But the women find it hard, usually, to break home ties and unless, as in the 
cases where many of the family came together, the old home drew her back with 
more force than it did the man. The young women had their amusements at the 
"shucking bees" and at dances, although they had to ride sometimes a long way 
to reach the frolic. They usually rode on the same horse as their escort, sitting 
up behind him. 

The early settlers of this county met two dread diseases when they reached 
the Wabash valley ; one was what was called Milk sickness and the other was 
the prevalent fever and ague of the place. When memory recalls the genuine 
Wabash fever and ague, a wonder arises that the people had the courage to re- 
ma^ in a section that carried such a perpetual illness. The fact that it being so 
common an affliction was not considered of as much consequence as it otherwise 


would have been, makes it no less an unbearable condition of affairs. Miasma 
has been the foe of the pioneer all the way across the continent, and the Missis- 
sippi valley has harbored this element and yielded up the sacrifice of its best citi- 
zens during the years of its early settlement. The courage to meet the wild beast 
in the new country; to endure the privations and sacrifices of frontier life is 
one thing; but to bravely accept the terrors of the certainty of returning fever 
and chills, requires a fortitude that is a wonder. In the season which, for the 
fortunate was only the fall and spring, the day dawned but to bring a "shake" to 
be followed by a raging fever. Yet these conditions were met with scarce a mur- 
mur by the pioneers of this section of the country. 

The provincialisms were more noticeable in manner of speech than elsewhere. 
Carelessness of talking is to be expected where there is no more restraint than 
is to be found in a new country. With the careless speech of parents children 
had no model and grew up to think provincialism the correct form. The 
peculiar speech of the slaves in the south was caught by the men and women 
who later made their homes in southern Illinois and handed down to their chil- 
dren to be cherished and made a part of their conversation until the settlements 
from Kentucky and Virginia revealed the origin of the neighborhood. This 
peculiarity of speech from those born in the southern states has awakened dis- 
cussion as to whether it is the result of mingling with the slaves or whether the 
accent of the slave is not the result of living with the southern people. Who 
can tell the origin of the southern tongue, since the African did not bring a lan- 
guage with "him but used the one he found here. Whether the one or the other 
is the correct notion, the fact remains that the speech of Vermilion County 
savored of the dialect of the region from which the early settlers came, and the 
turn of the words as well as the tone of voice all testified to the old Virginia or 
Kentucky home whence they came. A "bucket" was never a "pail" as it was to 
the few eastern men and women who came into this section. These people of 
Vermilion County never "guessed;" they always "reckoned." They were "pow- 
erful weak" and "mighty porely" and "peared like couldn't gain no strength," 
but with all were a kind hearted, generous, whole souled people who are dear in 
their provincialism, and cheerfully burned their rag in a saucer of grease for 
light, set the houses on corner props and let the swine live underneath, and 
looked upon the newcomer from the more cultured east with frank admiration 
and gave a helping hand where it was needed. 






After the conquest of the country northwest of the Ohio river by George 
Rogers Clark in 1778, the Commonwealth of Virginia held it as its own and called 
it the county of Illinois. This territory was duly governed as such with the coun- 
ty seat at Kaskaskia, the former Capital of both French and British Government 
in the Illinois country. Capt. John Todd was appointed "County Lieutenant Com- 
mandant," but the machinery of this government was never effectually set up, 
and it soon ceased to run. After concessions asked and granted by all the new 
states of the young Republic, Virginia surrendered all claims to the general gov- 
ernment in 1784, and congress, sitting under the articles of confederation, passed 
"An Act for the government of the territory of the United States northwest of 
the Ohio river." Under this ordinance Gen. Arthur St. Clair was appointed gov- 
ernor of the territory and in 1790 organized, by proclamation, the county of St. 
Clair, named in honor of himself. This proclamation was issued April 27, 1890. 
The boundaries of this first county can be seen by drawing a line from the mouth 
of the Little Mackinaw in Tazewell County to the mouth of Massac creek in 
Massac County. All the territory included within this line on one side and the 
Mississippi and Illinois rivers on the other, constituted St. Clair County. But 
this county was small compared with another which was created by proclama- 
tion, June 20 of the same year. This was Knox County and included about half 
the state of Illinois, the whole of Indiana, that part of Ohio west of the great 
Miami river, and the greater part of Michigan, and a considerable part of Wis- 
consin, as these states exist at present. It will be remembered that the settle- 
ments in the Illinois country were along that part of the Mississippi river in what 
was later known as the American Bottoms, and about Vincennes. St. Clair 
County was organized to meet the wants of the former and Knox County was 
organized to meet those of the latter. October 5, 1795, St. Clair County was 
divided by the creation of Randolph County in the southern part, doubtless to 



accommodate the sparce settlements along the Ohio river which were made 
after the Revolutionary war was over. 

February 6, 1801, William Henry Harrison, then Governor of the Indiana 
Territory, of which the territory now known as Vermilion County, Illinois, is a 
part, issued his proclamation continuing the counties of St. Clair and Randolph 
as counties of Indiana Territory but changed their boundaries and enlarged their 
areas. Up to this time the entire territory north and west of the Ohio river 
belonged to the Northwest Territory, but it now had been divided by the taking 
of what is now the state of Ohio and making therefrom the territory of Ohio. 
All the remaining territory was called the Indiana Territory and William Henry 
Harrison was made Governor of it. In the change of boundary lines of the 
then existing counties in the western part of the Indiana Territory, Randolph 
County was bounded on the north by a line drawn, from a point on the Mississippi 
river about nine miles south and one mile west of the present town of Waterloo, 
east to a line drawn north from the "Great Cave" on the Ohio which can now 
be located as near the village of Cave-in-Rock, in Hardin County. This line was 
also the southern boundary of St. Clair County, whose eastern boundary angled 
to the northeast from this point to the mouth of the "Kenomic river" or as some- 
times called the "Kalamik" or "Calumet," a smiall stream flowing into the south- 
ern bend of Lake Michigan in Lake County, Indiana. 

All east of this line was in Knox County. Drawing this line on a map, it is 
readily seen the territory now Vermilion County, Illinois, by that division lies 
partly in St. Clair and partly in Knox Counties. The line passes directly through 
what is now Danville. A later proclamation of Gov. Harrison readjusted the 
division line between Randolph and St. Clair Counties, but made no change be- 
tween St. Clair and Knox Counties. This division line remained unchanged until 
after the organization of the Territory of Illinois in 1809. After the division and 
organization of the Territory of Illinois in 1809, Nathaniel Pope became secretary 
and acting governor of the new territory. He at once issued a proclamation con- 
tinuing St. Clair and Randolph Counties without change of boundaries except 
that the eastern boundary of each was continued to the eastern boundary of the 
territory, now the eastern boundary of the state of Illinois. 

This gave to Randolph additional territory on the east and to St. Clair, a tri- 
angular strip along the southern part and took from it a triangular strip from the 
northern part of its eastern side, and eliminated Knox County from Illinois Terri- 
tory. By this change of boundaries the territory now Vermilion County was alto- 
gether in St. Clair County, with its county seat at Cahokia on the west side of the 
state opposite, and a little lower than St. Louis. To go to the county seat would 
require a journey of nearly two hundred miles. 

Since the settlements in Illinois Territory were altogether in the southern part 
of what is now the state, the division into counties at this time was of necessity 
to help the people of that part of the territory. So it was that, when Ninian Ed- 
wards became governor, he created three new counties in the region bounded on 
the south and west by the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. A line drawn east from the 
Mississippi river to the Wabash river along the southern boundary of what is now 
Madison County was about the northern boundary of settlements, and such a line 
was made the southern boundary of the new county of Madison. Thus it was 


that the territory now Vermilion County became a part of Madison County, with 
county seat at Palestine, on the Wabash river. 

This proclamation of Gov. Edwards was the last in which counties were cre- 
ated in that way. In this year Illinois was raised to the second grade of terri- 
torial government, and the creation of new counties and the alterations of county 
lines devolved, thereafter, upon the territorial legislature. On November 20, 1814, 
the territorial legislature passed a bill dividing Madison County, and creating 
Edwards County on the east side thereof. This act made the territory now Ver- 
milion County within, and subject to, the government of Edwards County, with 
the county seat yet at Palestine. However, there were none within this terri- 
tory other than the Kickapoo and Pottowatomie Indians to be affected by the 
change. The year 1816 saw Edwards County very much restricted, and the ter- 
ritory lying north of the line dividing towns 3 and 4 north and east of the third 
principal meridian, became Crawford County, and the now Vermilion County, in- 
habited as it was yet with the red man, was in the new County of Crawford, with 
county seat some miles further up the Wabash at Aurora. There was no change 
for three years or until the treaty of Edwardsville, in 1819, when Crawford County 
in its turn was restricted and the new County of Clark was made from its northern 
part. Clark County was created March 22, and extended from the third principal 
meridian to the Indiana state line and from its present southern county boundary 
to the Wisconsin state line on the north. The county seat remained at Aurora. 

Although in 1821, Clark County was restricted to make room for Fayette, the 
division did not effect the section which was being settled about the Vermilion 

This division of Clark County was made because Vandalia had been chosen for 
the future seat of government of Illinois, and it was considered necessary to sur- 
round it with a suitable county. Clark County at that time comprised the present 
Counties of Clark, Cumberland, Coles, Douglas, Edgar, Champaign, Vermilion, 
Iroquois, Ford, a part of Livingston, Grundy, Kendall, Kane and McHenry, with 
all of Kankakee, Will, DuPage, Cook and Lake. 

In 1823, Clark County was much reduced in area. It included its present ter- 
ritory and that of Cumberland County, together with about one-half of Coles 
County. Of its remaining territory the present County of Edgar was created with 
the same boundaries as it now has. The unorganized territory to the north and 
west of it was temporarily attached to it for judicial purposes. The early years 
of settlement on the Vermilion and its tributaries included this period, when this 
territory was temporarily attached to Edgar County with Paris as county seat. 
Three years later the population of these settlements had so increased that a new 
county was created from a part of this "attached" territory and Vermilion County 
came into being. 

By Section I, of the Act of January 18, 1826 (Laws of 1826-7, page 50), it 
was declared that all that tract of country within the following bounds, to-wit: 
"Beginning on the state line between Indiana and Illinois, at the northeast comer 
of Edgar County (the act organizing Edgar County fixes the northern boundary 
by a line running east and west between townships 16 and 17; thence west with 
the line dividing townships 16 and 17 to the southwest corner of the township 17 
N. of R. 10 east; thence north to the northwest corner of township 22 north; 


thence east to the Indiana state line; thence south with that state line to the 
place of beginning," should constitute a separate county called Vermilion. This 
description would hold good for Vermilion County as it is now with the excep- 
tion that it extends the line on the west ten miles into Champaign County and 
falls short of its northern boundary by six miles. By the seventh section of the 
act referred to "all that tract of country lying east of R. 6, east of the 3rd prin- 
cipal meridian and north of Vermilion County, as far north as the Illinois and 
Kankakee rivers" is attached to Vermilion County for judicial purposes. This 
denotes the restriction of the attached territory of Edgar County to that which 
was located directly on the west that is now all of Douglas County and that por- 
tion of Coles County which was not included in Clark County. 

The territory which adjoined Vermilion County on the west at that time but 
later became Champaign County, and all the country north of its boundary, was 
temporarily attached to Vermilion county for judicial purposes. The date of the 
organization of Vermilion County was January, 1826. This attached territory 
remained the same until January 15, 1831, when Cook County was formed and 
took a large part of it off. The much discussed question of whether Chicago was 
ever under the government of Vermilion County can very easily be settled. It has 
always been a favorite tradition among the older settlers that at one time Chicago 
was a part of Vermilion County and many are the tales told in evidence of this be- 
lief. [This too although one at least of the writers of the history of the county 
flatly contradicts any such thing.] This idea of Chicago being at any time a part 
of Vermilion County, comes either from the fact that when Vermilion County was 
a part of Clark County, all of the territory north of the present southern boundary 
of that county was a part of it, and Chicago was included in the aforementioned 
"territory north", or that it is not understood how the northern boundary was 
changed even before it became attached territory to Edgar County. Clark 
County, before its limits were restricted, covered all the country from its southern 
boundary to the Wisconsin state line, but when Edgar County was created the 
territory north and west of it was attached thereto, but it was bounded on the 
north by the Illinois and Kankakee rivers. To be yet more exact, the northern 
limits of this attached territory was a line drawn from about where the city of 
Kankakee is now located, straight north to a point due east of the southern 
boundary line of Kane County, and there turned and continued further east to 
the state line. This line, together with the Illinois river, furnishes the eastern 
and southern boundary of the territory attached to the new county of Fulton, 
and restricted, materially, the attached territory of Edgar and later Vermilion 
Counties. Examining the territory below this line it is evident that Chicago was 
never within the limits of Vermilion County, and yet, this area does include a 
part of the present Cook County, and a portion of the southern part of Chicago, 
and of course was at one time under the government of said county. The taxes 
Sheriff Reed paid out of his own pocket rather than collect, were doubtless 
levied on that portion of what is now Cook County, lying south of the line 
drawn north of Fort Dearborn. 

In 1833, Champaign County was created from unorganized territory west 
of Vermilion County and also, a portion of the same. This reduced Vermilion 
County on the west ten miles its entire length. The same year Iroquois County 


was created and the act extended the northern boundary of Vermilion County 
six miles, making it what it is now. 

It was while Vermilion County was a part of Clark and the county seat was 
at Aurora that the first permanent settlement was made at the Salt Springs, on 
the Vermilion river. Vermilion County was created January, 1826, and its 
seat of justice was located at the mouth of the North Fork of the Big Vermilion, 
in January, 1827. 

For the purpose of the regulation of official fees and salaries, the counties 
of Illinois are divided into three classes : Those of not more than 25,000 popu- 
lation are of the first class, those of more than 25,000 population belong to the 
second class, and those of more than 100,000 population belong to the third 
class. Cook County is the only one in this class in the state. Vermilion County 
had a population, in 1900, of 65,635, and the last census (1910) gives it. 

The powers of a county as a body politic and corporate are exercised by the 
county board which in counties under township organization consists of the 
supervisors from the several townships of the county. Vermilion County voted 
township organization in 1851. 

Vermilion County was so named from the river of that name which in its 
principal branches flows through the county and takes its peculiar spelling. 







Vermilion County is located on the eastern border of Illinois about half 
way between the northern and southern boundary of the state. It is rectangu- 
lar in shape being 22 miles in width, and 42 miles in length, embracing 880 square 
miles, or 562,200 acres of land. It lies between the parallels of latitude 40 
to 41 north and in longitude 87 to 88 west. 

The most of it lies within the so-called "Danville Quadrangle" which ex- 
tends but one and one half miles beyond the eastern boundary of the county. 
Vermilion County is drained by tributaries of the Wabash river, which in turn 
drain into the Ohio river, and thence into the Mississippi river. The Vermilion 
river drains the entire territory of Vermilion County, with the exception 
of a small part in the south and east borders. When it is said that the Vermilion 
river drains the entire county, no account is made of the separate forks, but it 
is assumed that the Vermilion river includes all the North Fork, the Middle 
Fork, and the Salt Fork. 

The Salt Fork of the Big Vermilion river runs through the center of the 
county, while the Middle Fork, which runs more to the northwest, joins it and 
forms the Big Vermilion proper. The North Fork runs from the north and 
northeast and empties into the main stream at where Danville is located. The 
Little Vermilion flows easterly through the southern part of the county. In its 
beginning this stream is little more than a prairie drain, but as it flows on 
down, it grows of more importance. When the early settlers first came they 
found from one to three miles of timber lining the bank. Both Middle and 
South Forks had much timber along their banks for a dozen miles above their 
union in the Big Vermilion, but toward their source there were never more than 
scattering groves. There are high banks and bluffs along the streams after 
they enter the timber, with bottoms wider where they have cut through the 
softer beds of rock, and narrower where they have encountered the harder 
sandstone. The surface of the county is quite diversified. 



The prairies or level surface of the county is relieved by ridges which rise 
above the general level and river valleys cut into the plain. Prairies are prom- 
inent south and west of the Vermilion river, and east as far north as Danville 
A small area of prairie is to be found in the vicinity of Batestown and Hillery, 
and to the north and west of there the surface extends into a broad expanse of 

'A low, broad ridge crosses the prairie from the northeast to the southwest. 
The elevation is ninety degrees above the prairie in the vicinity of Danville. As 
seen from the south this ridge is prominent, but from the north it appears nearly 
on prairie level. The valleys, carved by the Vermilion river and its forks cross 
both prairie and ridge. These valleys have destroyed valuable farming lands 
and prove barriers to transportation, but on the other hand have opened excel- 
lent geological sections in which are shown beds of coal which makes this 
region important economically. These valleys are generally broad, but as ob- 
served above, sometimes swell into broad amphitheaters a mile or more in 
width where they have cut through the softer beds of rock. These valleys vary 
in depth from 50 ft. to 100 ft. with steep walls sometimes precipitous. The 
prairies have a black, dense, mucky soil, of variable depth, underlaid in some 
case by a tough brown-clay subsoil. It is admirably adapted to cultivation and 
is but little affected by wet weather, or drought. Good supplies of water are 
obtained at from fifteen to fifty feet. The northwest part of the county is 
included in the famous artesian region of Eastern Illinois, and wells sunk in this 
part of Vermilion County yield a never-failing supply of water at a depth of 
thirty to one hundred feet. 

Rocks in the soil seldom appear at the surface. They are generally so deeply 
covered with clay and sand that their presence is not appreciated. Only drilling 
will reveal them. South of the latitude of Danville, rocks may be seen in bluffs 
along streams, in almost perpendicular cliffs of shale or shaly sandstone. These 
perpendicular cliffs often reveal coal beds. The entire rock series belong to a 
portion of the geologic column known as Carboniferous system. Beneath the 
coal bearing rocks are the heavy beds of limestone. The coal bearing rocks oc- 
cupy a broad, shallow, syncline, the center of which is some distance southwest 
of Danville. The Rock formation have a very gentle dip southwesterly toward 
the center of the basin. 

The history of this rock formation is easily read in these bluffs. After the 
carboniferous rocks were deposited in some body of water, the crust of the 
earth was raised in the Appalachian region, and this area became dry land. In 
this condition it was subjected to the varying vicissitudes of a land surface for 
many geological periods, but there is little to show the changes through which 
it passes. Before the advent of the great ice sheet this section was reduced to a 
gently rolling country with a relief of less than 200 ft. with broad valleys and 
gentle slopes, whose typography resembled that of southern Indiana beyond 
the limit of glacial ice. That there was not one ice advance but several is proven 
in the presence of Moraines, or massive ridges of drift built up by the ice at its 
margin. These ridges recur at frequent intervals as in passing north from ex- 
treme edge of given sheets of drift, and marks places of halting, and perhaps 
of readvance which interrupted the melting away of the ice field. 


The Morainic ridges have in some cases been formed in rapid succession 
and constitute a Morainic system. In Illinois there is a decided tendency to such 
grouping of Morainic ridges. The sheet of drift formed by each of the ice in- 
vasions, the soils and weathered zones, formed between the drift sheets and the 
Moraines, and morainic systems, of each drift sheet, have received geographic 
names from the locations where they are well displayed, in conformity with the 
prevailing custom of naming the indurated rock formation. Vermilion County 
belongs to the Illinoian drift sheet which extends, apparently to the glacial 
boundary in western Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois and forms the eastern 
border of the driftless area in southern Wisconsin and northwestern Illinois. 
This area extends but a few miles west of the Mississippi river. In this region 
it apparently composes the basal portion of the drift. Beside its geological lo- 
cation in the Illinois glacial lobe, Vermilion County is also known as a part of 
the Champaign Morianic system. This system includes a series of small drift 
ridges that are ill defined the nearer they approach the Danville Quadrangle. 
It is doubtful if the oscillations of the ice front were of great consequence in 
this region. It is believed that several systems did not have rhythmic develop- 
ment, the halts seem to have been irregular. 

All the rocks at the surface in this region belong to coal measures. Ver- 
milion County is but a very small port of the famous Indiana and Illinois coal 
field and it does not, in its entirety, belong to this coal field. It is but the extreme 
northwest border of the coal field. The coal production of Vermilion County 
will receive due attention in another chapter of this volume. 

In about 1886 a notion became popular that oil could be found in the vicin- 
ity of Danville, and two attempts were made to discover that source of wealth. 
Two wells were sunk, and although no oil was discovered these two occasions 
of deep drilling furnished information upon which to base an idea of the geologic 
formation of this region. Records were kept, and have been preserved, as 
follows : 

The well drilled at the Water Works records conditions as follows : 

Thickness of Depth 

stratum in ft. in ft. 

1. Soil 10 10 

2. Soapstone 285 295 

3. Coarse sandstone 10 305 

4. Soapstone 10 315 

5. Sandstone 100 415 

6. Soapstone 15 430 

7. Gray sandstone \ 10 4440 

8. Blue sandy shale 80 520 

9. Quartz or pebble rock 10 530 

10. Sandy shale 145 675 

11. Hard gray limestone 30 705 

12. Sandstone 30 735 

13. Blue clay shale 30 765 

14. Pebble or flint rock 30 795 




15. Hard blue shale 90 885 

16. Gray sandstone ... 40 925 

Hard blue shale 45 97 

Light green shale 30 1,000 

18. Black slate 75 i.75 

19. Limestone 74 i,H9 

And the well drilled at the Junction makes the following record : 

Thickness of Depth 
stratum in ft. in ft. 

1. Glacial drift 175 *75 

2. Hard slate and coal 6 181 

( Drab soapstone 20 201 

3' 1 Dark blue soapstone 42 ' 243 

4. Coarse white sandstone 10 253 

5. Coal 6 259 

6. Blue clay or soapstone 75 334 

7. Hard flinty rock 2 336 

8. Dark blue slate 35 371 

| Brown soapstone 20 391 

9 ' \ Red clay 1 1 402 

JO. Soft white sandstone 68 470 

11. Red clay 20 490 

f Coarse brown sandstone 27 517 

12. J Fine brown sandstone 40 557 

I Fine white sandstone 30 587 

13. Dark blue clay 73 660 

14. Hard pebble rock 10 670 

15. Fine white clay 36 706 

16. Hard pebble rock 6 712 

(Dark blue shale 96 808 

Soft light blue shale 65 873 

Soft dark blue shale 18 891 

18. Red shale 62 953 

19. Light green shale 57 1,010 

20. Hard gray limestone 25 I.O35 

21. Black slate 90 1,125 

Hard gray limestone 51 1,176 

Coarse soft limestone 10 1,186 

22. 4 White and dark limestone 160 1,346 

Soft white limestone 12 1,358 

Light and dark limestone 342 1,700 

23. White limestone 35 1,735 

24. Clay shale no 1,845 

Some years ago the Illinois State Laboratory of Natural History at Cham- 
paign, Illinois, issued a bulletin giving a list of altitudes in the state. From this 


publication a correct idea of almost every point in Vermilion County can be 
obtained. This result of a complete and careful survey of Vermilion County can 
be had as follows : 

Town Location Elevation above 

by R. R. the sea by ft. 

Allerton, C. & E. I. R. R 710 

Alvin, C. & E. I. R. R 662 

Archie, C. & O. R. R. R 665 

Armstrong, I. C. R. R 708 

Bismarck, C. & E. I. R. R 667 

Brewer, C. & E. I. R. R 647 

Catlin, Wabash R. R 668 

Chaneyville, L. E. & W. R. R 722 

Comfort, C. & E. I. R. R 692 

Danville, C. & E. I. R. R 597 

Danville Junction, C. & E. I. R. R 61 1 

Diamond Mines, C. C. C. & St. L 640 

East Lynn, L. E. & W. R. R 693 

Fairmount, Wabash R. R 655 

Fishers, C. & E. I. R. R 670 

Fithian, C. C. C. & St. L 663 

Georgetown, C. C. C. & St. L 672 

Grape Creek, C. & E. I. R. R 538 

Henning, I. C. R. R 695 

Hillery, C. C. C. & St. L 631 

Hoopeston, C. & E. I. R. R 716 

Humrick, T. St. L. & K. Cy 645 

Indianola, C. & E. I. R. R 674 

Locetts, C. & E. I. R. R 688 

Mission Mines, C. C. C. & St. L 635 

Muncie, C. C. C. & St. L 642 

Oakwood, C. C. C. & St. L 646 

Potomac, I. C. R. R 682 

Rankin, L. E. & W. R. R 716 

Rayville, I. C. R. R 689 

Ridge Farm, C. C. C. & St. L 685 

Rossville, C. & E. I. R. R 702 

Sandusky, C. & E. I. R. R 721 

Sidell, C. & E. I. R. R 680 

Thomas, I. C. R. R 702 

Tilton, C. C. C. & St. L 649 

Vermilion Grove, C. C. C. & St. L 661 

West Newell, C. & E. I. R. R 687 

Westville, C. & E. I. R. R 669 

Bixby, at elevation of 730, Blount at one of 75, Blue Grass at 703, Charity at 
760, Glenburn at 600, Henrietta at 690, Higginsville at 630, Hope at 740. Mis- 


sion Fields at 607, Pilot at 730, Snider at 680, and Vernal at 670, were all ob- 
served by I. J. Stoddard, the other observations made by him were as follows : 

Sec. 32, T. 23 N., R. 13 W 77 

Sec. 32, T. 23 N., R. 12 W 750 

Sec. 25, T. 23 N., R. ii W 670 

Sec. 33, T. 18 N., R. 13 -W 680 

Sec. 34, T. 18 N., R. 14 W 690 

Sec. 13, T. 18 N., R. 11 W 650 

By the above record it is seen that the highest point in Vermilion County is 
at Sec. 32, T. 23N., R. I3\V., and the lowest is at Grape Creek, where it is but 
538 feet above the level of the sea while at Danville it is but 59 feet higher. At 
Charity the elevation but 10 feet lower than at the highest point and at Hope it is 
not much less since it is 740 feet. 

Vermilion County is not subject to extremes of weather as is found in some 
sections. There are some instances on record, however, of extremes which bear 
notice. One of these is the deep snow of the winter of 1830-31, which gave this 
season the reputation of being one of great severity, and occasioned much suf- 
fering. This snow, however, did not all fall at once but was the accumulation 
of many falling the one on top of the preceding one. These were repeated over 
and over again without any melting of the snow until the ground was so com- 
pletely hidden that there was great suffering in consequence. The cattle could 
not receive the care needed and hundreds died in consequence. This was the 
winter in which the elder Partlow died and his sons became so discouraged that 
they went back to Kentucky. The deer were driven away to seek food or were 
starved in such great numbers that they were never so plenty in this region. 
Another extreme of weather is recorded in the "cold Tuesday" of December 16, 
1836. Enoch Kingsbury wrote a letter, sometime in the fifties, telling his re- 
membrance of that day which has been preserved and is hereby given entire. 

"The weather on Monday, December 16, 1836, was quite warm and fast sof- 
tening the heavy snow. On Tuesday it began to rain before day and continued 
until four in the afternoon, at which time the ground was covered with water and 
melting snow. All the small streams were very full and the large ones rapidly 

"At this crisis there arose a large and tumultuous looking cloud in the west, 
with a rumbling noise. On its approach everything congealed. In less than five 
minutes it changed a warm atmosphere to one of intense cold, and flowing water 
to ice. One says that he started his horse into a gallop in the mud and water 
and on going a quarter of a mile, he was bounding over ice and frozen ground. 
Another says that in an hour after the change he passed over a stream of two 
feet deep on ice, which actually froze solid to the bottom and remained so until 
Spring. The North Fork where it was rapid and so full of water as to overflow 
its bottoms, froze over so solid that night that horses crossed the next morning, 
and it was thus with all the streams. 

"Mr. Alvin Gilbert, with his men, was crossing the prairie from Bicknells 
(about where Rossville is located now) to Sugar Creek, with a large drove of 


hogs. Before the cloud came over them the hogs and horses showed the greatest 
alarm and an apprehension of danger. As it actually came upon them, the hogs 
refusing to go any further, began to pile themselves in one vast heap as their best 
defense on the open prairie. During the night half a dozen of them perished, and 
those on the outside were so frozen they had to be cut loose. About twelve others 
died on their way to Chicago in consequence of their being badly frozen, while 
many others lost large pieces of their flesh. 

"Mr. Gilbert and his men rode five or six miles distant, all of them having 
fingers, toes or ears frozen, and the harness so frozen that it could not be un- 
hitched from the wagon, and scarcely from the horses. 

"Two men riding across the same prairie a little further to the west, came 
to a stream so wide and deep they could not cross it. The dreary night came on, 
and after exercising in vain, they killed one horse, rolled his back to the wind, 
took out his entrails, and thrust in their hands and feet, while they lay upon them. 
And so they would have used the other horse, but for the loss of their knife. 
Mr. Frame, the younger and more thinly clad, froze to death, before morning. 
The other mounted the other horse and rode over the ice for five miles but was 
badly frozen before he reached a house. 

"How general the change was is not known, but the Illinois river, as two 
men in a boat were crossing it, froze in and they exercised to save their lives until 
the ice was thick enough to bear them up. The dog that was with them froze to 
death. Another evidence of unusual weather is recorded in about the same year, 
as the time the trees were all killed by unexpected extreme cold in the spring. 
The same thing occurred in 1910, seventy-five years afterward. It is, of course, 
only a ^coincident that it is at the date of the return of the Halley's comet. 
Another extreme of cold was in the sixties at the first of January. 
















The official life of Vermilion County began at Butler's Point, by the holding 
of the first Commissioners' Court at the residence of James Butler, March 6, 
1826. Two members of this Court, James Butler and Achilles Morgan, were 
present. The third member, John B. Alexander, was not present until the second 
session of the court. These Commissioners had been elected under the enabling 
act of the state legislature for the organization of Vermilion County. This Court 
appointed Amos Williams, Clerk, and Charles Martin, Constable. John B. Alex- 
ander had just come from living in Paris, in Edgar County, where Amos Will- 
iams had served the county acceptably as clerk, and it doubtless was his adapta- 
bility to the duties of this office known by Mr. Alexander that he was made 
clerk of Vermilion County. A man who could write the clear hand and make 
the neat showing of his books as the records of his term testify to this day, was 
unusual, and desired in public office. At the next meeting of the court held at the 
same place less than two weeks after, the county was divided into two town- 
ships. The portion south of town 18, was called Carroll township and that north 
of this line was to be called Ripley township. Why this division, is unknown and 
cannot be ascertained. Township organization itself originally was an institu- 
tion of New England, and was not adopted in Illinois until after the northern 
part of the state was settled with people from the east, and their influence could 



be felt. Maybe this division was due to the influence of James Butler, who was 
lately a citizen of Vermont. 

A grand jury was selected at this second meeting of the Court. The names on 
record comprising that first Grand Jury are as follows : John Haworth, Henry 
Canady, Barnett Starr, Robert Dixon, Edward Doyle, John Cassidy, James Mc- 
Clewer, Alexander McDonald, Henry Johnson, Henry Martin, Jonathan Ha- 
worth, William Haworth, Jacob Brazelton, Peleg Spencer, Sr., Isaac M. Howard, 
Robert Tricle, John Current, John Lamm, Francis Whitcomb, Amos Woodin, 
Jesse Gilbert, Cyrus Douglass, Harvey Luddington and George Beckwith. Will- 
iam Reed was appointed assessor. 

At the next Commissioners' Court, June 5, 1826, an order for the payment of 
$1.00 was granted in favor of Charles Martin for his attendance at the March 
term of Circuit Court as constable. This was the first money paid out by the 
county. At this session, certain property was made subject to a tax of one per 
cent. This property included "horses, and cattle over the age of three years, 
watches, clocks, pleasure carriages and stock in trade." 

September 4, 1826, a new Commissioners' Court was organized. The mem- 
bers newly elected were Achilles Morgan, Asa Elliott and James McClewer. The 
next meeting of the Court was yet held at the residence of James Butler. It 
was on December ir, 1826. Here the record shows that "William Reed, this day 
appeared in Court and produced his tax book, by which the levy of the year 1826 
appears to be $205.59 ' n state paper, on which he claims a deduction for delin- 
quents of $7.03 and also 7^2 per cent for collecting ($14.89) leaving $183.07, 
which is equal to $91.83 in specie." 

On the first Monday of June, 1827, the Commissioners met at the house of 
Asa Elliott and on the first Monday of September following, the Court met at 
the county seat at the home of Amos Williams in Danville. The second section 
of the act for establishing Vermilion County, made provision for the location 
.of the county seat, by appointing "John Boyd, and Joel Phelphs, of Crawford 
County and Samuel Prevo of Clark County, as Commissioners to meet at the 
house of James Butler on the second Monday of March, then next; and, after 
taking oath for a faithful discharge of their trust, to examine for, and deter- 
mine on, a place for the permanent seat of justice of the county, taking into 
consideration the convenience of the people, the situation of the settlement, 
with an eye to the future population and eligibility of the place." The act 
further required that "the owner of the land selected as the County Seat should 
donate and convey the same to the county in a quantity not less than twenty 
acres in a square form, and not more than twice as wide, to be laid off in lots 
and to be sold by the County Commissioners for the purpose of erecting public 
buildings. In case of refusal of the owner to donate the required land the Com- 
missioners were required to locate the County Seat, on the land of some other 
person who would make the donation contemplated by the act." A further pro- 
vision was made that, in the event the County Seat was located within the 
bounds of the Saline reservation, on the Big Vermilion river, the County Com- 
missioners should, as soon as practicable, purchase of the state, the quarter or 
half section designated for the use of the county. The Saline Lands had, 
by act of Congress become the property of the state. The same act provided 


also that "all Courts should be held at the house of James Butler until public 
buildings should be erected for the purpose, unless changed to another place by 
order of the County Commissioners." 

These three Commissioners met, made a superficial examination of the 
county and sent in a report. They had located the County Seat some six miles 
west of the North Fork of the Vermilion river and back a distance from the 
Salt Fork. The selection was a most unfortunate one. The surface of the 
ground here was cold and flat clay, which made drainage difficult if not im- 
possible. Wells could hardly be dug and a city never could have been built 
upon such a site. There surely was little thought spent in its selection. For- 
tunately Major John Vance had leased the Salt Works for a term of years, and 
refused to yield his rights. The citizens of the entire territory, now Vermilion 
County, were dissatisfied, and sent a remonstrance to the legislature, coupling 
with it a prayer for the removal of the County Seat to a more favorable location. 
Because of this plea, the General Assembly of 1826-27 passed an act December 
1827, which in its preamble reads: "Whereas the seat of justice of Vermilion 
County has been located by the Commissioners appointed at the last session on 
land which was then and is now, leased by the Governor for a term of years to 
certain persons for the manufacture of salt; and whereas, the said lessees are 
unwilling to surrender the same or any part, for the use of the county, in con- 
sequence of which, no improvements can be made thereon, and the citizen having 
petitioned for its removal, and for remedy whereof, it was enacted that Will- 
iam Morgan, Zachariah Peters, and John Kirkpatrick, of Sangamon County, 
be declared Commissioners, to explore the county and designate the place, which, 
on being located should forever remain the permanent seat of justice of Ver- 
milion County." 

Up to this time no settlement had been made on the Big Vermilion river at 
the mouth of the North Fork, on the site of the old Indian village of Pianke- 
shaw. Denmark was an ambitious town to the north and was desirous for the 
County Seat, and would have secured it could the Commissioners have agreed. 

This land at the mouth of the North Fork, had been entered by certain people 
among them being Dan Beckwith, who lived at the Salt Works and was one 
of the men who claimed its discovery. Guy Smith was another who had 
entered land at this place. Together these two men made an offer to donate to 
the Commissioners, the required amount of land and after due deliberation this 
offer was accepted, and the location was decided in the report sent in by the 
Commissioners, dated January 31, 1827, that in their opinion, "the lands do- 
nated by Guy W. Smith and Dan W. Beckwith, near the mouth of the North 
Fork of the Vermilion river, was the most suitable place in the county for such 
county seat." Guy Smith's donation was 60 acres and Dan Beckwith's 20 acres. 

The report of these Commissioners being accepted, the deed conveying the 
donated land was executed by Guy W. Smith and Dan Beckwith, and the board 
of County Commissioners ordered the land surveyed, and laid off in town lots. 
The survey was made by Dan Beckwith, who was the County Surveyor, and was 
laid off in town lots. According to instruction, there were one hundred lots. 
April 10, 1827, was the day upon which the lots were to be offered for sale. 
The sale had been advertised in the Intelligencer, published at Vandalia and an 


Indianapolis paper. They were the nearest papers to be found. The sale was an 
odd sight. The bluffs along the rivers and Stony creek were a mass of under- 
brush. There was no sign of a prospective city, and many amusing stories are 
even yet told of killing rattle snakes on the day of the sale. 

The fact of the appointment of Amos Williams as clerk of the court the 
year previous to this sale has already been mentioned. During this year the 
friendship between him and Dan Veckwith had grown and possibly been made 
more deep because they had married sisters. How be it Amos Williams and Dan 
Beckwith were devoted friends and it is reasonable to assume that they found 
opportunity to help each other when the county seat was being located. Amos 
Williams lived at Butler's Point the year after he became the clerk of the court 
but they saw much of each other and together planned to secure the location of 
the seat of justice where it was placed. Dan Beckwith was a man tall of stature 
and of commanding presence while his friend was a small man with a serious 
view of life. Although the one man stood physically above the other he was 
very apt to defer to his opinion and consider his wishes, acting on his clear and 
just decisions. The two men were together the day of the sale, as was apt to 
be the case when opportunity made such companionship possible. The adver- 
tisement in the Illinois Intellegencer brought many to bid on the lots. Beside 
this word had been passed around throughout the country, each man telling his 
neighbor, and many present made the bidding lively. Harvey Luddington acted 
as auctioneer. Forty-two lots were sold for which the county received the sum 
of $922. 

The lots averaged about $22 each. Since these lots were largely in the 
vicinity of the public square, it is a matter of interest to compare these prices 
with the value of the same lots at the present time. After the town was surveyed 
the county commissioners, who at that time were Achilles Morgan, Asa Elliott 
and James McClewer, with Amos Williams as clerk, proceeded to discuss its 

Amos Williams talked the matter over with Dan Beckwith, so the story runs, 
when Williamsburg, Smithville and other names were mentioned ; all at once 
Amos Williams turned to his stalwart friend and, laying his hand on the tall 
man's shoulder said, "Dan, it shall have your name. Why not? You have done 
all the work. We will call it Danville." And Danville it became and has always 
remained in honor of the man, not so much who had the land to give for its 
location but who had the friendship of a man whose sentiment caused him to 
perpetuate the memory of his friend by naming the new town for him. 

The public building in the county was the Stray Pound. This was erected 
in December 1827. It was built 40 ft. square, of good sound white oak, posts 
4 by 8 in. set firmly 2^ ft. in the ground. The enclosure was 6 l / 2 ft. high, 
made "in such a manner as to keep out hogs, etc." Phillip Stanford erected 
this enclosure at a cost of $99.3^ to the county. Amos Williams was appointed 
keeper of the Stray Pound. 

The next public building was the jail. It was built of heavy oak timbers, 
17 by 29 ft. The space of the interior was divided into a criminal department 
and a debtors' department. This jail was located on the block southeast of the 
Public Square. Court met at the house of Amos Williams until the county 





bought the log house built by Reed which stood on a lot now occupied by the 
Woodbury drug store on the south side of West Main street near Vermilion. 
This building was one story high, with a space for a low attic above, about 16 
ft. square, made of heavy logs, hewn inside and out. The county bought this 
with the expectation of fitting it up for public use. The plan was not carried 
out, however. In the latter part of 1828, proposals were solicited for the build- 
ing of a temporary court house, and also proposals for the building of a perma- 
nent court house. Hezekiah Cunningham bought the building on the Main 
street lot, together with the lot, and agreed to provide the county for the term 
of two years (unless the new court house could be built before that time), with 
a place for holding court, in the upper story of the large frame building he and 
Murphy had erected on the southwest corner of the Public Square. In Decem- 
ber, 1831, notice was given that bids would be received at next term of court 
for a court house. The new court house was begun in 1832. Gurdon S. Hub- 
bard was the contractor. 

The selection of the site of Danville as the county seat attracted settlers to 
this place, but not until its resources in coal land, and the railroads were estab- 
lished were its possibilities as a future city revealed. Situated as it was a dozen 
miles from the Wabash river, there was no water way to connect it with mar- 
kets no matter how much could be raised to market. Attempts were made to 
utilize the Big Vermilion river but to little purpose. An act of Congress late in 
the twenties declared this river navigable as far as the range line, one and one-half 
miles west of Danville, but it was impossible to prove this by the river itself. 
Mr. John Coleman had built a mill dam at Eugene, Indiana, and when the Illi- 
nois legislature determined upon improving the navigation of the Big Vermilion, 
the Court of Vermilion County made the following order which is recorded in 
Book A, in the County Records of 1829, page 80 : 

"Ordered, that the Clerk of this Couft inform John M. Coleman, of Ver- 
milion County, Indiana, that the obstruction of the navigation of the Big Ver- 
milion River, by his mill dam, across said stream is much in damage, of the 
citizens of this county, and as the legislature of the state have appointed funds 
for the improvement of the navigation of the Big Vermilion River, within this 
state, therefore it will be necessary for you to cause a good, safe and conveni- 
ent passage at your mill, up and down said stream within six months of the date 
hereof, otherwise the legal course of law will be resorted to; and that Peleg 
Spencer be the bearer of this notification." Mr. Coleman refusing to do any- 
thing, William Kidd and James Clyman were authorized to proceed against him 
by an indictment and prosecution in the courts of Indiana. The following year 
they were authorized to "use such measures as they may think advantageous to 
the county and the citizens thereof." 

Nothing was done, however, and the year following this the county offered 
a premium of $50 to the first captain who should land a steamboat opposite the 
town of Danville. A suit was instituted in the Indiana Circuit Court, by agents 
of the county and the next year Gurdon S. Hubbard, with two other men waited 
upon the Indiana legislature relative to the same matter. All that ever was 
accomplished, however, was a decree to the effect that Coleman should make a 


lock for the passage of flat boats and barges through his dam. Not being par- 
ticularly inclined to accommodate those who had given him so much trouble, 
he merely filled the conditions of the decision by making a lock of his flood 
gate, which was quite a narrow passage and ran under his mill. 

For several years rafts and flat boats were passed down the river from Dan- 
ville to the Wabash, passing the narrow boats through the lock in the dam, when 
the water was too low to pass over the dam in safety. These boats were built 
about 60 ft. long. They were manned by a steersman and two oarsmen. They 
were loaded with produce and taken to New Orleans, and sold, boat, cargo and 
all for what they might bring. The cargo consisted of flour, corn, pork and live 
hogs and poultry, hoop-poles, baled hay and, in short, any thing salable. The 
hogs and poultry were not fully fattened when put on board, but became so on 
the trip, which lasted about six weeks. This time included numerous stoppings 
at points along the Mississippi river, for trading with merchants and planters. 
When the boats and cargo were sold for what they would bring, the men re- 
turned, some on foot, some having bought mules or horses, but all taking care 
in choosing their route. Great precaution had to be taken lest the traveler fell 
into the hands of the banditti which infested the banks of the river, and to the 
end of avoiding trouble, every one kept well back from their haunts. Many 
men who lived in Vermilion County and the adjoining counties in Indiana, have 
proudly told of their experiences on trips to New Orleans and return. The last 
boat that passed out from Danville was in 1852 and was sent out by Colonel Gil- 
bert. In this way a market was made for produce that was to be sold here. 
That which was to be brought in must come from the east and had to be car- 
ried by way of the Ohio river to the mouth of the Wabash river, thence up 
stream to Perry sville or perhaps Covington, Indiana, and be hauled from the 
river to Danville. The navigation of the Vermilion river was never satisfac- 
tory other than on paper. In 1836, two Chicago men, Amando D. Higgins and 
Marcus C. Stearns, began a speculation in Vermilion County, based upon the 
navigation of the Vermilion river. They entered some land and bought other 
at a nominal price and proceeded to lay it out in town lots, recording it as "Ver- 
milion Rapids." 

This plat was made to show both sides of the river and the stream appeared 
to be about ten rods wide at this point. To know the exact location of this town, 
it is needed to understand that it is now known as Higginsville, in Blount town- 
ship. The "rapids" were the main feature of this speculation since much matter 
could be made of the fact that no boat could pass beyond them. The impres- 
sion was given that the Vermilion river was a water-way of importance and was 
navigable to this point, but beyond this the "rapids" kept boats from going. 
That this town would be at the head of navigation of the Vermilion river, that 
along the river front of this town, boats could take on the produce of the rich 
farming lands for miles around, and to this town the merchandise of foreign 
lands would be brought. The promise of direct communication with New Or- 
leans, Cuba and all the ports of Europe, seemed reasonable when this prospec- 
tive city was viewed from paper. The rapids, unless removed by government 
authority and appropriation, would always remain a barrier to extending navi- 


gation further up stream. "Vermilion, Rapids" promised to be the head of navi- 
gation for all time. 

This might have netted the speculators much money had the plat been put 
upon the market sooner, just as many no more to be commended speculations 
did. The platting of this town was done just before the financial crash of 1837, 
and by the time Mr. Higgins reached New York, the land was utterly value- 
less. The account of this speculation only finds a place in this chapter on ac- 
count of the stress put upon the navigation of the Vermilion river years after 
it could be depended upon even in places where there was some water. It is not 
an instance of early growth. 

A number of buildings were put up within the county seat in the years im- 
mediately folowing its location. These were at best but primitive log cabins. 
The location of Danville admitted of no other source of livelihood than trade 
with the Indians. Gurdon Hubbard had the principal trade, while Dan Beckwith 
and James Clymer carried on a more limited barter of this kind. A small space 
around what was made the Public Square was cleared of hazel brush, and rat- 
tlesnakes, but outside of this, the dense brush covered the entire territory up to 
the timber along the Big Vermilion river on the south, the North Fork on the 
west, and Stony creek on the east. So destitute of means to get a living in the 
immediate surroundings were the people in this town which was made the 
county seat before it had even come into existence, they were drawn away from 
home to find work elsewhere; cutting hazel brush and killing rattlesnakes were 
neither lucrative employments. Henry Harbaugh is one of the oldest men in 
Vermilion County, claiming to have been born in 1804. He came to Danville 
first in 1836 and gives a vivid picture of the place at that time. He is yet, in 
both body and mind, well preserved and recalls affairs of the county at that 
time, clearly and accurately. He tells how he left Cincinnati by the steamboat 
"Utah, which was bound for Perrysville, Indiana." He came down the Ohio 
river to the mouth of the Wabash river, and thence up that river to Perrysville. 
Here leaving the boat, he walked across to Danville, Illinois. The impression 
made upon him by Vermilion County's seat of justice is well given in his own 
words : "Well, Danville was a poor town. It was the miserablest town I ever 
did see. I did not want to stay here. Why nobody wanted to stay here. There 
was nothing but hazel brush. Many of the cabins which had been built were 
abandoned, while those who owned them had gone to the edge of the timber 
to herd their stock and raise something to eat. Danville was most all hazel 
brush and deserted log cabins." 

Mr. Harbaugh goes on to tell his eagerness to leave Danville to the extent 
that he continued his walk two miles along the North Fork to Denmark, a 
town up that stream which ten years before this time had been a competitor of 
Danville in determining the location of the county seat. It was a promising 
town at the time of the fight for the honor, but had not grown much during the 
interim, and now was found to be the resort of rowdies. The public house 
which yet carried the sign of good food was nothing but a bar, and its patronage 
was a set of rowdies. Mr. Harbaugh's experience at this place was such that 


he found that flight was the better part of valor, and he hastily took himself on 
toward the prospective town of "Vermilion Rapids," afterward the better known 
town of Higginsville. 

At that time the town was only in prospect built, as it proposed to be on a 
great scale, but its fame had spread abroad and here Mr. Harbaugh located and 
spent his life. 

Denmark had its beginning as a town in about 1823 or 4, when Seymour 
Treat built a mill at that place. The exact time of building this mill is not 
known, but record is made that in 1826, the mill had been running for several 
years. This was a saw-mill and a corn-cracker combined. Treat was also a 
blacksmith at Denmark. The prosperity of Denmark did not outlast the first 
decade of life in Vermilion County. 

It was in 1828 that the first settlement was made in the northwest part of 
the county. This settlement was made by Mr. Partlow, with his son-in-law, 
Asa Brown, who came from Kentucky. There were four sons, all of whom 
were married, who came with their father. These sons were Samuel, James, 
Reuben and John. They built a cabin at what was afterward known as Merrills 
Point and the sons took up land to the south at where Armstrong was located. 
John and James were licensed preachers. They brought a number of cattle 
with them and every thing looked promising when the second year was a most 
severe winter. This was the winter of the deep snow when one snow was not 
melted until another came, until the amount on the ground was a matter of 

Mr. and Mrs. Partlow, the father and mother, both died and the others be- 
came discouraged. The snow was so deep that the cattle died from lack of food 
and care, there was no way to reach a market, and the sons all went back to 
Kentucky as soon as the weather permitted. 'Asa Brown, the son-in-law, alone 
remained in this first settlement. They returned later, however. 

In 1827, the Juvinalls and Morgan Rees settled just south of the Partlows 
and with others coming, partly, at least, settled this part of the country. Among 
these new comers were the McGees and Stephen Griffith. Samuel Bloomfield, 
who had come into the county in 1823, and settled at Quakers Point, moved to 
this neighborhood on the Middle Fork, in 1829. He had entered a farm in this 
more newly settled part of the county and left the older farm to improve the 
new one. In 1828, Absolom Collison came into this neighborhood. He was a 
friend of the Juvinalls, coming from their old home in Ohio. Mr. Chenowet 
came into this neighborhood the same year and the following one, his daughter 
Mary became Absolom Collison's wife. The Atwoods came to a point further 
down the river, in 1829. Although no permanent settlement was made nor any 
town established, these families coming into the northeast part of the county 
gave impetus to its growth. 

Samuel Copeland came to the Middle Fork in 1828, and settled further to 
the south than did the Atwoods when they came the following year. When he 
came he found Ware Long living to the east of him in the timber. Soon Amos 
Howard, Mr. Shoky and Mr. Priest came and settled to the south of Copeland, 
forming what was long called the Howard neighborhood. John Johns settled 


about three-fourths of a mile northeast of Copelands. Later Copeland's son 
married John Johns' oldest daughter. In 1828, Daniel Fairchild and his five 
sons, Timothy, Zenas, Orman, Lyman and Daniel, together with his married 
daughter, Mrs. Elevens, came to the Middle Fork and located two miles north- 
west of Samuel Copeland. The father was very old, nearly blind, and lived but 
a short time after moving into this neighborhood. The sons and daughter, 
however, were all* married with young families, and they took their place mak- 
ing a lasting impress on the community. The waning interest in the produc- 
tion of salt was the reason that newcomers were not attracted to the region of 
the salt works, which had been the source of employment to a large number in 
the early twenties. Mr. Lander and Mr. Shearer were in the neighborhood of 
the later well-known J. R. Thompson farm, some time previous to the coming 
of William Smith, in 1830. A Mr. Progue settled about this time further to the 
west, near the county line. Mr. Brewer lived further down the creek and close 
to what was later Conkey town, Stephen Crane had settled. About the year 1827, 
Jesse Ventres and James Howell came from Kentucky into the neighborhood 
which was afterward Newtown. Mr. Ventres bought a piece of land half a 
mile southeast of Newtown from Mr. Indicut, who is supposed to have come to 
this locality at perhaps a time not far distant from the discovery of the salt 
springs. The year after Jesse Vantres came, John Cox from Big Sandy made 
him a visit. He left his son with Mr. Ventres. 

A ferry was established across the Big Vermilion, in 1828, the court granted 
license for the same and fixed the following lawful rates : "For crossing man 
and horse, 12^/2 cents; wagon and horse, i8j4 cents; wagon and two horses or 
oxen, 25 cents. Persons going to mill, one-half rate." Solomon Gilbert built the 
mill this same year. He built the log tavern in 1827. 

John Payne came from Indiana to Butler's Point, in 1827. His son-in-law, 
John Thompson, came with him and settled one mile northeast of Catlin. 
Charles Caraway came from Virginia in 1824. Noah Guyman, with his wife, 
who became the best known and best loved woman in this section of the country, 
for years, came on foot from Ohio, in 1830. 

James Stevens came to Brooks' Point, in 1826. Isaac Gone had come a year 
previous to this time. John L. Sconce came from Kentucky, in 1828. John Cage 
and James Graves with his two sons, O. S. and L. H. came about this time. 
Daniel Darby set up a wagon shop near here about this time. The post office 
was established in Georgetown, in 1828. The mail route ran from here by 
way of Carroll, an office in the McDonald neighborhood, to Paris. 

William Swank took up his residence in Vermilion County in 1823. He came 
from Putnam County, Ohio. His farm occupied the present site of Indianola. 
Aaron Mendenhall came from Greene County, Ohio, to Vermilion County, Illi- 
nois, in 1824. He brought his fifteen year old son John with him. The Com- 
munity of Friends which settled early about Vermilion, was strengthened and 
increased in numbers in the years immediately following the establishing of 
Vermilion County, by others of this faith coming from North Carolina and 
Tennessee. Their life was calculated to form a high standard of living and 
their influence was long a strong factor in the development of Vermilion County. 


Dr. Thomas Madden and Dr. Thomas Heyward were practicing physicians in 
this county prior to 1828. J. B. Alexander, together with his son-in-laws, Alex- 
ander McDonald and I. R. Moores, entered land which afterward was known 
as the McDonald neighborhood, in 1822. Mr. Alexander, himself, did not make 
this section, which was then Edgar County, his home, until after it became Ver- 
milion County. He was very prominent in the early affairs of the new county. 
The settlement in the southern part of the county was strengthened in 1824 by 
the coming of Abel Williams. He was a most remarkable man and one who 
would be a help to any neighborhood. He came from Tennessee. The same 
year brought Robert Dickson from Kentucky with his four sons. Silas Waters 
and George Barnett came from Kentucky the same year. Thye Makem- 
son and family first came to Vermilion County in the fall of 1828 and located 
one and a half miles north of what is now Oakwood. The family consisted of 
Thos. Makemson, a revolutionary soldier, and his five sons, Andrew, David, 
Samuel, John and James. They lived together until after the death of the 
father, when they were scattered. William Craig became a resident of this 
neighborhood in 1829. The first attempt at settlement on the North Fork was 
made in 1824. In the fall of 1823, Obediah LeNeve came through this part of 
Edgar County on a trip he was making on horseback to select a location of a 
home., The land in the region now known as Newell township, took his fancy 
and before he returned to his home he took the number of the tracts he desired 
with an idea of buying them. At a public sale soon afterward he bought them 
and before Christmas of that year he and his brother, John LeNeve, came over- 
land from Vincennes to this new home. Reaching here in safety, they found the 
Indians friendly and soon had a cabin built on the land. Soon Ben Butterfield 
came and occupied the cabin until the following fall. It must be remembered 
that this was the year before Danville was contemplated. This location became a 
popular one and a large number of people came, mostly from Kentucky and 

Joseph Gundy began improvement in what was afterward Myersville, in 
1827, but did not fetch his family until the following year. Luke Wiles settled 
on the other side of the river the same year. He came from Indiana. John 
Woods, a native of New York state, came to this part of Vermilion county as 
early as 1828. His father-in-law, Supply Butterfield, came about this time. 

The first settler in the . western part of the county south of the salt works 
was Thomas Osborn, who, in 1825, built himself a little cabin a mile or two 
northwest of what is now Fairmount. There he fished and hunted until the 
game began to grow scarce when he moved further west. A year or two later, 
James Elliott, James French and Samuel Beaver came to the same neighbor- 
hood. Beaver was a tanner and owned and worked a small tanyard for some 

Henry Hunter took up a claim in 1828, just north of what is now Fair- 
mount, but sold it in 1833 to Jennings. Mr. Stewart took up land nearby in 
the same year but died in 1833. He was buried in the Dougherty burying 
ground, his being the second grave. Thomas Redman and Joseph Yount came to 
this neighborhood in 1828, from Ohio. The next year John Smith opened a 
farm near by. W. H. Lee settled a little further to the east in 1829, and Wil- 


Ham Hardin settled here at the same time. These people are all supposed to 
have come from Ohio. In taking a survey of the growth of Vermilion County 
in the decade immediately following the first settlement within its borders, it 
must not be forgotten that these years included but three years of its official life 
as a county separate from Edgar. So it is that a survey of conditions in the 
last days of the twenties, while the section has been attracting settlement for 
ten years, yet the county has counted its existence but since 1826. 
















It seems impossible to learn much of Seymour Treat's life. The first thing 
known of him is that he lived at Fort Harrison, in 1819. When Blackman re- 
turned from his trial to the Vermilion Salt Springs, in company with Barron, 
and formed another company to return and claim the discovery of them, there- 
by betraying the trust of Barron, Seymour Treat was one of the men who re- 
turned with him. 

No record was kept throwing any light on the reason for selecting this 
party so that little idea of the character of these men can be had, at least as to 
whether they knew of the previous discovery by John Barron. The only real 
knowledge that is to be obtained now is of his residence at Fort Harrison. 

Seymour Treat came to the Salt Springs, a mile and a half above the old 
Kickapoo town, the latter part of November, 1881. He with his wife and chil- 
dren, made the trip up the Wabash and Vermilion rivers in a pirogue, bringing 
tools and what goods they could not do without, and provisions to last them 



during the winter. One at the present day can hardly imagine the privations 
they endured. A hastily built cabin kept them from the cold, but that was all. 
The men of this first settlement included the two Beckwith brothers, Peter 
Allen, and Francis Whitcomb. They could hunt and find pleasure in the free 
life of. the wilderness, but wife and small children having none of these diver- 
sions found much to regret in the change from life at Fort Harrison. Their 
nearest neighbors were at the North Arm prairie, fully forty miles away. The 
old Indian town miles below their cabin was deserted and weeds grew in the 
fields where the squaws had planted the corn, and hoed the squashes. The loneli- 
ness of the life, and the effect of the absence of the comforts they had before 
enjoyed, is voiced in the words of Treat to the governor a year later: "My fam- 
ily remained on the ground ever since their arrival, except one who fell a vic- 
tim to the suffering and privations which they have had to endure in a situation 
so remote from a settled country without the means of procuring the ordinary 
comforts of life." This letter was written because of the fact that the treachery 
of Blacktnan had left even his followers without valid claim to the salt springs. 
After the different claims to the salt springs were settled, Treat, with Dan 
Beckwith, went to Denmark. Here Treat built a mill which he operated for 
some time. Seymour Treat was justice of the peace for a time while this ter- 
ritory was a part of the unorganized territory attached to Edgar County and 
while in this office he married Cyrus Douglas and also Marquis Snow. He later 
came to Danville where it is presumed he died and was probably buried in the 
Williams burying ground. 


Dan Beckwith deserves the record as among the first settlers of Vermilion 
County since his coming antedates the organization of the county itself. Dan 
Beckwith was a native of Bedford County, Pennsylvania. He was born there 
in 1795. He was one of a family of six brothers and two sisters, who went with 
their parents into New York state, while Dan was but a lad. Three of these 
brothers came west and were residents of Vermilion County at one time. 

George Beckwith and Dan Beckwith left New York state together, and came 
to Fort Harrison in the summer of 1816, the year Dan was twenty-one years old. 
Two years later they went on to the North Arm Prairie, and lived with Jonathan 
Mayo's family. Here they made their home until 1819, when they went to the 
Vermilion Salines. 

Dan Beckwith was a man of pleasing appearance. He was tall full six 
feet, two inches. He had broad square shoulders; was straight, muscular and 
spare of flesh, weighing, when in health, about 190 pounds. He was an expert 
axe-man and a shrewd Indian trader. Within two years after he came to the 
Vermilion he was to be found with an armful of goods such as the red man 
would fancy, in a place partly excavated in the side of a hill at Denmark, trading 
for furs with the Indian. 

Later, through his efforts mainly, Danville had been selected as the County 
Seat, he built a cabin on the brow of the bluff, near the end of west Main street, 
and continued his trading. This cabin was not far from the present-day Gil- 


bert street bridge. Later he had a cabin further west on Main street and formed 
a partnership with James Qymer and together they traded to their profit. 

When the chosen site of the County Seat of the newly organized Vermilion 
County at the Saltworks was found to be impossible on account of the lease to 
Major Vance, and Denmark the already settled town had nearly secured the 
prize, Dan Beckwith, together with Guy Smith offered land at the present site 
and determined its location. 

Dan Beckwith died while yet a young man. He did not live beyond the 
days of pioneer Vermilion County. His death occurred at Danville, Decem- 
ber, 1835. He was buried in the old Williams burying ground. The city bought 
the privilege of opening a street through this cemetery of the heirs of Amos 
Williams and Dan Beckwith's remains were moved to Springhill. 

Both the children of Dan Beckwith are now dead. Hiram Beckwith was 
the father of two sons. His oldest son married Linne Williams, the daughter 
of Smith Williams, and granddaughter of Amos Williams. They were the 
parents of two children, Grace and Dan. Hiram's younger son, Clarence, mar- 
ried Grace Dickman and is the father of one son, Hiram William. Mrs. Lemon 
was the mother of two daughters, May Lemon and Laura Lemon Bird, whose 
first husband's name was Mott. 


Francis Whitcomb, the third of the first settlers of Vermilion County, who 
made any impress upon its affairs, was identified with two sections the salt- 
works and Butler's Point. He came to the salt springs with the Blackman com- 
pany and was one of the three with whom Blackman made the agreement to 
make partners in the profits of the saltworks. That he did not stand by his word 
has already been recorded. While the matter was being adjusted Francis 
Whitcomb continued working at the saltworks. It is during his stay here that a 
story is told of him which shows a kind heart and refined nature that expressed 
itself in unusual degree. It was after Seymour Treat had gone to Denmark, 
and there were no women at the saltworks, other than Baily's wife. This family 
of Baily's consisted of himself, his wife and two or three small children. Baily 
sold out to Mr. Luddington, and left his family, to go to the "Illinois River 
Country." Soon the children became ill and Mrs. Baily herself was taken ill. 
The men working at the saltworks were all unmarried. There was no one 
to give the women and children the needed care. 

Francis Whitcomb took as good care of them as a woman could. He pro- 
vided their food as well as possible where there was nothing to be had fit for 
ill people to eat. He did their washing, attended their wants, and rendered 
all assistance possible under the circumstances, with no doctors, and no drug 
stores near where aid or medicine could be procured. In spite of the care this 
young man could give the children, one by one wasted away, and died. No 
lumber or plank was to be had with which to make their coffins, but the men split 


rough boards from a walnut tree that grew a short distance from Butler's 
branch, and made rude caskets. These strong men inured to hardships, silently 
and with sad faces buried the children, with no minister to say a prayer nor 
relatives to mourn as the graves were filled. 

Francis Whitcomb went to Butler's Point from the saltworks, and took up 
the farm afterwards known as the one Richard Jones lived on. The house he 
built is yet standing. He lived here a number of years and sold the farm to 
Henry Jones himself going to McLean County, where he died and was buried. 

Francis Whitcomb was the father of six children. His wife's maiden name 
was Jane Irwin. His children's names were Ira, Francis, John, Jeremiah, Ruth 
Ann and Temperance. 

Ira Whitcomb married Cynthia Wooden, the daughter of his nearest neigh- 
bor, whose house yet stands across the road from the old Whitcomb house. 
Ira Whitcomb moved to Minnesota, where he lived until he died. 


With the exception of those coming to the saltworks, probably James D. Butler 
was the first settler in his section of the country. Mr. Butler came directly from 
Clark County, Ohio, but he had lived in that state only six years so that he 
really came here a Vermonter in sentiment and habits. He was a native of 
Vermont, coming west from Chittenden County, Vermont, to Clark County, 
Ohio, in 1814. He left Ohio in the spring of 1820, and came to the point of 
timber which ran out into the prairie west of Catlin, and took up a claim. The 
land had not yet been surveyed by the government and put upon the market. 
Mr. Butler had friends come with him, neighbors from Ohio. They all put 
in crops and returned to Ohio in the fall, expecting to come back in the spring. 
Mr. Butler did come and brought his family with him, but the neighbors re- 
fused to come. They thought they had enough of the inconvenience of the new 
country. It took courage on the part of Mrs. Butler to come to her new home 
under circumstances such as these. True her husband was satisfied with con- 
ditions in the new country, but on the other hand the stories told by the others 
were very discouraging. But in the due course of time Mr. Butler and his 
family reached their new home and took possession of the cabin he had built 
for them the previous summer. His cabin was erected on the east side of the 
brook which is even yet known as Butler's branch and on the right hand side 
of the road going from Catlin to the old Fair Grounds. When Butler's family 
moved in they had as their nearest neighbors, Treat's family at the Salt Springs 
and to the south the newcomers since his return to Ohio, a man well known late 
in the county whose name was Henry Johnson. He had moved on the Little 
Vermilion in the early spring. Within a few years several families came to 
this neighborhood and Butler's Point became an important settlement and re- 
mained so for some time after the organization of Vermilion County. Near 
Butler's house there was a large oak tree, which had defied the prairie fires 
and all threats of wind and weather, which became a landmark and sentinel 


which guided travelers crossing the trackless plains to the south and west. 
It was called "Butler's Lone Tree." 

Later Mr. Butler prospered and built him a fine house, locating it near the 
corner of the old Fair Grounds, at the northeast corner. This house was almost 
a mansion as compared with all the other cabins. The logs were square-hewn 
and the corners of the building cut even with the line of the wall. It was in 
this house that the first court of Vermilion County sat. Mr. Butler was a 
man of good business, possessed a practical mind and was conspicuous in the 
affairs of Vermilion County at an early day. He had the thrift and energy char- 
acteristic of one born and reared in Vermont, as well as possessing their cour- 
age. He spent the remainder of his life in Vermilion County at Butler's Point 
and when he died was buried in the enclosure since known as the Butler Bury- 
ing Grounds. His wife was buried in the same burying grounds. James Butler 
and wife were the parents of four children, one son and three daughters. The 
son moved to Kansas, one daughter became the wife of her cousin by name of 
Butler, the second daughter became the wife of Marcus Snow and later of Cyrus 
Douglas, and the third daughter became the wife of a Mr. Fielder and after 
the death of Mr. Coleman, and went west. The two daughters first mentioned 
were buried in the Butler burying ground. 


The year James Butler came to the place afterward called Butler's Point 
with his family, the first settlement on the Little Vermilion was made by Henry 
Johnson. Some doubt is expressed on the matter of date, however, and there 
is good reason to think that he came in the fall after Butler returned to Ohio. 
A letter written by Henry Johnson addressed to William Lowery, the mem- 
ber in the Illinois legislature from Clark County at that time, and dated No- 
vember 22, 1822, is also dated at Achilles township, and from what is written 
in the letter it is evident that "Achilles township at that time embraced the 
entire of Clark County, watered by two Vermilion rivers and extended as far 
north as the Kankakee river." In this letter Henry Johnson states that "he 
had a knowledge of the affairs of this (Achilles) township since October, 1820." 
With that evidence it is fair to assume that Henry Johnson came to the Little 
Vermilion, some two miles west of Georgetown in the fall of the year that 
James Butler came in the spring and put in a crop and in the fall about the time 
Johnson came, went back to Ohio for the winter. 

Mr. Johnson was a man of generous impulses and his neighbors long sang 
his praises. If a man was hard pushed for ready money and went to Henry 
Johnson he was sure to get it, if it was to be had, and the loan given so cordially 
was never to pay interest. Mr. Johnson would never take interest on any money 
he loaned. Mr. Johnson sold his farm in about 1832 or 34, to Levy Long and he 
moved further west, to the fertile strip between the Illinois and Mississippi 
rivers, called the "Military Tract." Here he was making a good farm until it 
was discovered that his title was worthless as so many were, and he lost all 


his land. Thus was the man of whom his old neighbors could say nothing but 
praise, who was known by the name of the "Good Samaritan," kind and generous, 
was rendered penniless by these "land sharks" and forced to go yet further 
west. He was after this lost to the knowledge of his old friends but his kind- 
ness was told by one generation to the next and his name kept as synonymous 
for generosity and helpfulness. 


Absolom Starr came to Johnson's Point in 1821. This was the settlement 
begun by Henry Johnson, a brother-in-law of Starr's the fall previous. Abso- 
lom Starr came to this part of Edgar County, as it was at that time, directly 
from Palestine, Illinois. The land office was located at Palestine before it was 
removed to Danville. 

When Mr. Starr came he brought corn and wheat enough to keep his family 
for a year. He also brought a good yoke of oxen and was well fixed to go 
into a new country to make his home. He brought his wife and four children 
with him. He built his cabin on section 36, near to his brother-in-law. So provi- 
dent a man had every reason to expect fortune to smile on him, but this was 
not the case, however. During the first winter in their new home he had a 
trivial injury to his heel, which resisted all treatment and he was assured that 
cancer had developed. A trip back to their old home in Palestine, where there 
was a physician living was of no avail, because the idea of cancer was con- 
firmed and there was great danger of having to loose his foot. However, he 
could not raise the money demanded for the operation and he came back to his 
new home discouraged and almost despondent. There was an old Indian doctor, 
called Bonaparte's Indian, who lived about there, and for the want of any more 
skilled practitioner, Mrs. Starr consulted him. By the use of some herbs he 
collected along the Vermilion river, he cured the diseased heel which the physi- 
cian at Palestine thought could be reached only by the use of the knife. Mrs. 
Starr nursed her husband back to strength, at the same time tending her garden 
and two acres of corn. Henry Johnson's kind heart helped this family to take 
care of themselves during these hard days. Mr. Starr lived until October 14, 
1829. He was buried in the old burying ground, now known as Mt. Pisgah 
cemetery, near Georgetown. 

Mrs. Starr survived her husband and afterward became the wife of Mr. 
Jones, spending her last years on the farm she first helped get into cultiva- 
tion. She was the mother of eleven children and left many descendants in the 
county, among them being Mrs. J. W. Giddings. 


Jotham Lyons took up land west of Henry Johnson about the same time. 
He lived here until his death, August 2, 1843. He was buried in the present 
Mt. Pisgah cemetery, near Georgetown. His first wife, Elizabeth, died on 
Christmas day, 1827, and was buried in the same burying ground. 


The children of Jotham Lyons are scattered across the country. One son 
has lived in the neighborhood of the old home and identified himself with af- 
fairs of the county. 


Another man to settle in this neighborhood was John Jordon. John Jor- 
don came to Johnson's Point a short time after Absolom Starr arrived, but in 
the same year. 


William Swank came to the southern part of the county in this year which 
saw the advent of Henry Johnson and Jotham Lyons. He entered land at where 
Indianola is located and became an active factor in the development of that sec- 
tion of the country. The all prevailing demand of the time for whiskey was not 
lacking in this section, and to meet this Mr. Swank set up a still-house down in 
the bottom, where he would make an occasional barrel of good pure liquor for his 
neighbor's use. The condition of this malarial country was one occasion of this 
demand for whiskey, and this primitive way of meeting it insured a pure article 
for consumption. Mr. Swank provided for the needs of his neighbors in another, 
and perhaps better way by the little corncracker which he had attached, which 
was run by tread-millpower, and did all the neighborhood grinding. So promi- 
nent in the affairs of this section did Mr. Swank become, he was given the credit 
of naming a village at the place now known as Indianola. When the village was first 
established it was named Chillacothe. Since William Swank was known through- 
out this section as the "Father of Dallas," there is no doubt of his politics, during 
the decided Forties and Fifties when men held strong views on all questions 
of the day whether of politics or of religion. Mr. Swank came from the South 
and naturally clung to the habit of thought of his youth, and was an uncomprom- 
ising Democrat. He lived in the same neighborhood into which he first came 
all his life. His death occurred in the late seventies and he left children who 
remained in that section and perpetuated his name. 


John Myers came to the Little Vermilion as early as 1820 and settled on the 
land afterward the farm of the well known R. E. Barnett. While living in this 
place this man was much better known as "Injun John." He was a man whose 
nickname fit him more in its implication, and suggestion than in any other way 
although he earned it by his open hatred of the Redman. 

He was a character noticeable in even those days when all individualities were 
prominent. In the free life of the pioneer, there was little polish and every man 
was himself, to be liked or despised as the case might be, but even then, some 
were more prominent than others because of unusual traits of character. "Injun 
John" was one of these. He was free with what he had, and expected every 
one to be equally so. He had little love for property which was his own, and 


no consideration for the rights of others. He was brave, self-willed and on the 
water would have been a gay buccaneer. 

John Myers had an eighty acre farm in Ohio, but the freedom of the new 
country in Illinois, which was as yet unorganized into counties, but was attached 
to Edgar County, appealed to him. So it was Mr. Starr, the uncle of Absolom 
and Barnett Starr, who had bought eight hundred and eighty acres on the Little 
Vermilion river at a land sale, found an eager trader in this man from Ohio. 
He traded his farm of 8 acres for this unseen 88 acres, and started to take pos- 
session thereof. 

On his way he passed his brother-in-law, Joseph Frazier, in Indiana, and 
told him he would give him a quarter section of this land if he (Frazier) would 
go on with him. This gift was not to be refused and they came on and settled in 
this section in 1821. The particular tract which Myers gave away that he might 
have company in his new home, afterward became a portion of the Sconce farm. 
The land was first bought by the Sullivants from Frazier in 1853, when they were 
the great land kings of Champaign County and were carrying out plans to develop 
a large estate in Vermilion County. The Sullivants cut the fine growth of wal- 
nut timber from the Frazier farm to fence in "broad lands." Myers was a 
fearless and untiring hunter. At one time just before he came to this section of 
country, while yet he lived in Ohio, a neighbor of his with his two sons were out 
in a sugar bush at work in the spring of the year, when some Indians surprised 
them and killed them. 

Myers gathered together a company and went in pursuit of the Indians. 
They struck the trail in the new snow and followed it until all but three of the 
pursuers gave out from exhaustion, one of whom was Myers himself. With his 
force so depleted, Myers told the other two that he would shoot the next one who 
refused to go on. This increased the courage of his companions and Myers' 
physical endurance, pluck and determination to avenge his friends was catching 
"and carried the day," and the three overtook the Indians and had their revenge. 
This was the material of which Myers was made. A man of powerful strength, 
he would crack a black walnut with his teath and many a man found to his 
sorrow that it was not wise to provoke him to a fight. 

He hated an Indian and was the first to be ready to go to the Black Hawk 
war and was one of those who made that war a disgrace to the white man. He 
knew no such thing as discipline ; abhorred tactics and did not believe in waiting 
for orders or supplies. He made a great deal of trouble by his insubordination. 
Habits of intemperance had grown on him, and he would get very drunk and 
become abusive to the officers and everybody else. He wanted to go into the fight 
at once ; he had gone into that affair to kill Indians and he was impatient to begin. 
He came to "fight Injuns" and fight he was going to do, if no one else, then he 
would try his strength on the officers. He told these new fledged officers that 
they "knew no more about fightin' Injuns than a bear did about a camp meetin' " 
and he was put under arrest, to his surprise. 

While brave and generous, he had no judgment about affairs and used up 
all his property before he died. He took an interest in every enterprise that was 
proposed. He lost much money in helping Simon Cox try to build a mill which 
never did get to be a success. 


Jack McDowell was a handsome and lively young man who was struggling 
to get on in the world, and "Injun John" took a notion to him and made him an 
offer of a half-section of land, but, much as the young man wanted the land there 
was a provision that he should marry Myers' daughter, and that decided the 
acceptance of the gift. "Injun John" kept his land. He gave away or lost all 
his land and went out to the Illinois River where he afterward died in poverty. 
Thus passed one of the most picturesque characters of eastern Illinois. 


Henry Canaday was a native of North Carolina who moved north, with 
his family, in the fall of 1820, and stopped over winter in Wayne County, Indi- 
ana. Two of his sons came on over the state line and put up a cabin in what 
is now the southern part of Vermilion County. His four sons were Benjamin, 
Frederich, William and John. The entire family took possession of the round 
log cabin which the two sons had built, and began their new life without neigh- 
bors other than the Indians who camped on the banks of the Little Vermilion 
in the spring of the year to hunt and fish. They would visit the cabin to beg and 
steal and trade but never seriously annoyed them. 

There were many sugar-maple trees on the land the Canadays had chosen 
for their home and they made sugar that first spring, but they were not con- 
tented and Benjamin returned to Tennessee, where their old home had been, and 
bought a farm. Soon the entire family returned to their old home but it was 
to stay only during the summer. They sold their property in Tennessee and 
returned to their cabin on the Little Vermilion river before winter. This was 
the fall of 1821 and their cabin was on what was yet unorganized territory at- 
tached to Edgar County. They had much sickness during this winter, having 
come from a different climate, and the nearest physician was at Clinton, Indiana. 
They had to go to mill on Raccoon Creek in Park County, Indiana, and Terre 
Haute was the nearest trading point. They had no horses when spring came 
and they broke ground with oxen. Wild deer was plentiful and they filled the 
smokehouse soon after they came with deer hams, and also had plenty of pork. 
When they first came the year before, they brought thirty hogs with them from 
Indiana and when they went back to Tennessee they left them in the woods. 
These animals lived in the woods and became so wild as to be a menace to stock 
for years afterward. Wild game was plentiful and deer, turkey and other fowl 
gave them a variety of food. The entire family occupied the one roomed cabin 
for some time, and the mother did the cooking by the fireplace ; the floor was of 
puncheon, the roof of clapboards, held down with weight poles and the stick and 
clay chimney was built on the outside. 

About the second year of their living at this place, Henry Canaday, together 
with George Haworth, "set up a meeting," as it is called by the Society of 
Friends, when a new church was established. These two men and others who 
came afterwards to the neighborhood, built a log cabin in which they had meet- 
ings and later built a church of hewed logs. Sometimes the attendance was so 
small that Henry Canaday and his son, Benjamin, would go to "meeting" and 






sit through the hour alone, in order to keep up the church organization as was 
the demand of that society. 

Henry Canaday was very prominent in the life of the growing Vermilion 
County. He entered about two sections of land as soon as it came into market, 
and sold it off to new comers. Henry Canaday was a tanner and a blacksmith, 
and as soon as possible after the family came to their new home they managed 
to establish both trades. He could the better do this because of his four grown 
sons. He started a tanyard in which his son William worked, and also a tin- 
shop for his son Benjamin. William later carried on harness making and sad- 
lery but his father, Henry Canaday, never had that trade. 

Benjamin Canaday, the oldest son of Henry Canaday, was a tinner by trade 
and during the winter of the big snow (1830), he made up a stock of tin ware 
and traded it off at Louisville for goods. These he brought back with him and 
put into a building he had put up for a store on his farm just west of Vermilion, 
(later Vermilion Grove), on the Hickory Grove road. This was the beginning 
of his career as a merchant. He sold goods here for several years before going 
to Georgetown where he became the largest, and at one time, the most successful 

Frederick Canaday, the second son of Henry Canaday, made a valuable farm 
just north of Vermilion station where he spent his life. He was the father of 
four sons and three daughters. His sons, William, Henry, Isaac and John, grew 
to manhood and settled around him. His daughters who became Mrs. Law- 
rence, Mrs. Patterson and Mrs. Ankrum, went the one to Kansas, the other to 
Bethel and the third lived near her father. 

William Canaday, the third son of Henry Canaday, married Miss Mary 
Haworth, in 1831, who was the daughter of William Haworth. They were 
the parents of ten children. These children settled in different parts of the 
country, a number of them near their parents' home. Mrs. Mary (Haworth) 
Canaday died in 1855 and Mr. Canaday married Miss Elizabeth Diament, in 
1873, for his second wife. 

John Canaday, the youngest son of Henry Canaday, lived all his life on 
\/ the farm on the state road between Vermilion and Georgetown. He had a good 
farm and was a prosperous farmer. He was the father of five sons and two 
daughters. The Canaday family have been strong factors in the development 
of the county. His family of sons with their families of sons and daughters have 
made the name one of honor and pride in this section which Henry Canaday 
found a wilderness. 


Benjamin Brooks, the founder of the important settlement called Brooks' 
Point, came to this part of the county in the fall of 1821. His wife was the 
daughter of a Mr. Manville, of Madison, Indiana, and they were married in 
Indiana and came here directly from Jefferson County, of that state. The na- 
tivity of Benjamin Brooks is in doubt although there is no question that his wife 
was born in Indiana. 

Had it not been for the generosity of Mr. Canaday, Mr. Brooks would have 
been in a sad plight. Mr. Brooks had selected his land when he first came to live 


on the Little Vermilion, and then went back after his family and another man 
put a claim while he was gone and secured the land. Mr. Canaday had some 
further up and let Mr. Brooks have it and it was settled so rapidly as to have 
the point of timber known by the name of Brooks' Point. 


George Williams came early in the twenties in company with the Bargers, 
the Paytons and Thos. Collison, from Pike County, Ohio. His native state was 
Delaware. George Williams had two sons, Harrison and Abner. Mrs. Williams, 
the mother of these boys died of milk sickness in 1825 and the boy, Harrison, 
who was then twelve years old, went to live with Reason Zawley, in the Current 
neighborhood. An idea of the hardships of life at that time is had in the tale 
of this boy's going to school in the winter time. The school term was limited to 
a short time in the winter months, and the boy, without shoes or stockings on his 
feet found the snow-covered road between his cabin home a dread one to travel. 
Without shoes he took a hickory board and stood it in front of the fire place 
until it became as hot as possible without catching fire. With his hot board in 
his arms he would dash out of the house and run as far as possible through the 
snow. When he reached the limit of endurance, he would put the board down 
on the ground, and stand on it for a little while, then snatching it up would 
run on a little further. In this way he went to school and when he was ready 
to go home the same thing was done over. In 1834 Harrison Williams married 
Anna Gish, a native of Virginia who had come west when she was fourteen years 
old. She came with her parents and settled in LaFayette, Ind. Mr. and Mrs. 
Williams made Danville their home, owning property at that place. Two years 
after he was married he bought the lot on the S. E. corner of North and Walnut 
streets. At this time the lot faced Walnut street and extended east as far as the 
alley. A deed yet in possession of the family shows that this lot was bought by 
Harrison Williams in 1836 for $30. The least the inside lots could 
now be bought for is $150, per foot. This deed of Mr. Williams was 
never recorded and a number of years later Judge Terry was ordered by the 
Courts to make out a new deed, Mr. Williams' address at that time being un- 
known. Harrison Williams was a carpenter by trade and helped build Gurdon 
Hubbard's store which was the first frame building in Vermilion County. He 
also helped erect the first Methodist church building. Mr. Hubbard's store was 
on the Public Square on the corner where the Palmer National Bank now stands. 
The church building was on the southeast corner of North and Vermilion streets, 
Harrison Williams moved to LaFayette, Ind., in 1840, and died there in 1851. 
Abner Williams was a blacksmith and lived in Danville until he went to Scott 
county on the other side of the state. He was married twice, the first time to a 
Miss Delay, a cousin of his, and the second wife was a Miss Judd. He owned 
the lot on the northwest corner of North and Vermilion streets. 


Thomas O'Neal, with his wife, Sarah (Howard) O'Neal, came from Nelson 
County, Kentucky, and settled at Brooks' Point in the fall of 1821. He was a 


native of Nelson County, while his wife was a native of Indiana. Mr. O'Neal 
first took up a claim near Brooks' Point, but three years later he entered near 
the Big Vermilion river. After he moved to the Vermilion river, he established 
a tanyard and made his own leather from which he made the shoes of the family. 
He made a leather from which he could make Indian moccasins and which the 
Indians would get from him. The winter months were spent in making rails 
with which to fence his land and clearing up the ground, thus adding about ten 
acres of tillable land to his farm every year. When the Black Hawk war broke 
out, he saddled his horse and with his gun on his shoulder, went into the service. 
His oldest son was also in that war. Thomas O'Neal remained in the service as 
long as the war lasted. When he returned home he again took up the work of 
improving his farm with renewed determination to make a valuable property, 
and met great success. He died September, 1861, and his wife died two years 
later. They were the parents of nine children who have kept the name a well 
known one through almost a century in Vermilion County. 


John Haworth came to the little Vermilion at very nearly the same time as 
Henry Canaday and they were close friends as long as they lived. The two fam- 
ilies have inter-married and had common interests during all the years since 
their coming. A Mr. Malsby built a cabin near where Vermilion Grove is lo- 
cated, in 1820; however he did not stay but left his cabin and went to some other 
place, so his claim to citizenship is not valid. John Haworth, as early as 1818, 
was living in Tennessee, but had become so distressed with the institutions of the 
south that he could no longer endure life there. He lived in Union County, 
so he came to the little Vermilion river in the fall of 1820. Here he found 
the cabin deserted by Malsby and took possession of it and wintered in 
it. George Bocke, a son-in-law to Achilles Morgan, had a claim on the cabin, but 
Mr. Haworth bought it. John Haworth's cousin James later came to George- 
town. John Haworth's neighbors were Henry Johnson and Absolom Starr, off 
a few miles northwest; Mr. Squires and Thomas Curtis at Yankee Point, three 
miles east ; John Mills, Simon Cox and Dickson to the west, with Henry Canaday 
near by. 

Mr. Haworth entered several hundred acres of land but he did not do this as 
a speculation. Indeed he was ready to sell it whenever he could find any one who 
would make a desirable citizen, and he would sell it cheap and on time if so desired. 
John Haworth's name has gone into history as a man well being called a Christian 
gentleman. He was the father of eight children. His uncle, a man of much 
worth, soon joined this settlement, and, together with Henry Canaday, established 
the strong Society of Friends in Vermilion County who were so great a factor in 
its development. 


One of the men who made an impress on the affairs of the county was Achilles 
Morgan, who came to this section in about 1825 or 6. He was accompanied 
with one at least of his daughters and her husband. They came from Virginia 


where they as a family were great Indian fighters. Mr. Morgan located on sec- 
tion 15 and was from the first recognized as a leading man in affairs of the county. 
He was one of the first County Commissioners, who, together with John B. Alex- 
ander and James Butler, organized and set to going the machinery of Vermilion 
County. The neighborhood in which he lived was called Morgans and is perhaps 
the place platted and on record as Morgantown. 


Henry Martin came to this section with his father-in-law, Achilles Morgan. 
After going to Brooks' Point settled near Georgetown at a place afterward called 
Morgans. Some claim this family went first to Butler's Point and some even say 
they stopped at the salt works. Henry Martin was born in Maryland in 1786 
and moved with his parents to Virginia, where he afterward married Mary Mor- 
gan, a daughter of Achilles Morgan. He served one year in the war of 1812 and 
later moved to Illinois, making permanent settlement in the unorganized territory 
attached to Edgar County. He enlisted under his father-in-law in 1826 at the time 
of the Winnebago war and followed the lead of Gurdon Hubbard to protect Fort 
Dearborn from the Indians of the northwest. Henry Martin lived on the farm 
near Georgetown until his death, September 5, 1851. 

Henry Martin was the father of a large family, one of his sons being a well 
known preacher. Rawley Martin came with his father from Virginia, a boy of 
four or five years, who had a life of usefulness in the country of his adoption. 
He showed wonderful energy and perseverance, for, although there were no 
schools for him to attend, he acquired a very liberal education. He had a very 
ambitious mother who was well educated, and through her influence he early 
became familiar with the contents of all the books possible to obtain, principal 
among which was the Bible. Indeed, he became so familiar with this book that 
he could repeat it almost verbatim. He early united with the Christian church, 
and in time was ordained preacher of this denomination. He continued in this 
work for more than twenty-five years. During this time he organized many 
churches in the county, baptized more than three thousand people, doing much to 
strengthen the cause of his chosen faith. He was a superior teacher of the scrip^ 
tures, was unyielding and uncompromising in his religious convictions. He was 
an able and earnest defender of the faith. During the war of the rebellion he 
publicly denounced the right of secession and upheld the cause of the preserva- 
tion of the Union. He filled two terms as County Treasurer, the expression of a 
patriotic people of confidence in the man. Rawley Martin was the father of two 
children, one of them being Achilles Martin and the other, Mrs. George Dillon. 


James Hoag and Samuel Munnel are both known to have lived along the 
Little Vermilion as early as this time, but little is recorded of them. 


Robert Cotton came to this section in the fall of 1822. He was born in the 
vicinity of Beardstown, Kentucky, and there grew to manhood and married Han- 




nah Howard, who was born in the same place. They were the parents of two 
children before they left their native state to go to Switzerland County, Indiana. 
Thence they went to Decatur County in the same state and, once more moving, 
they came to what is now Vermilion County, Illinois. In many respects both 
Robert Cotton and his son Henry showed their Puritan ancestry, they being de- 
scended from John Cotton of Massachusetts. Robert Cotton lived but two years 
after coming to this section, dying while yet a young man in 1824. He left seven 
children. Henry Cotton, the son of Robert Cotton, was the next to the youngest 
of the children of Robert Cotton. He grew up amid wild scenes of pioneer life. 
The wild beasts abounded, deer were plentiful, and the wolves howled about the 
cabin door at night. The education of the Cotton children was had in a log cabin 
school-house with puncheon floors, the window panes of greased paper and the 
only means of heating being a long fireplace, across one end of the room. The 
school term was but a few months in the winter, and the requirements of the 
teacher were but that he could read, write and cipher. Henry Cotton liked to go 
to school and when he was twenty-two years old he had acquired enough informa- 
tion to tempt him to, in turn, be teacher. He taught school for two or three years, 
during the winters. During the time he was teaching school, Henry Cotton was 
married to a Miss Getty of Pennsylvania. During the summer months Henry 
Cotton would follow the life of the flatboat man. He made eighteen trips to 
and from New Orleans in this way. It was upon one of these trips that he 
met Miss Getty and soon afterward was married. They lived in Vincennes for 
eight years and then came to Danville township, and was on his way to pros- 
perity. He was working at the carpenter's trade while not on the river. Soon 
the war of the rebellion broke out, however, and Mr. Cotton enlisted in service, 
joining the I25th Illinois Infantry. A year later he was obliged to accept an 
honorable discharge on account of ill health. He left the country for other 
locations after this and did not return until 1882 when he came to Westville 
and became a merchant. He made his home here, serving as postmaster three 
years during the term of office of Pres. Arthur, and was justice of the peace for 
several years. 


Steven Dukes was born in Virginia and his wife, Rachel (Lewis) Dukes, 
was a native of Tennessee. They came to Brooks' Point in 1822. Brooks' 
Point was just east of Westville about where Kelleyville is now located. Their 
eldest son was born at that place January 25, 1828. 


Asa Elliott, who was one of the most prominent men of the county in its 
earliest life, came to Butler's Point to make his new home in 1822. He was 
one of the second Board of Commissioners of Vermilion County, and was the 
first justice of the peace. He was a good business man and very successful. 
His home, at which the court was held just before the county seat was located 
at Danville, was about a quarter of a mile from the west line of Catlin village. 
He had a log house at first but built a better one. He lived here all his life and 


after his death his son sold the property to Mr. Sandusky and moved to Kan- 
sas. Mr. Elliott was buried in the old Butler burying ground. 


John Mills came to this part of Illinois in 1822, bringing his family with him. 
He settled in the northwest quarter of section 23, range 12, township 17, after 
a journey attended with many difficulties. He was a native of North Carolina 
and moved to Ross Creek, East Tennessee, before the war of 1812. He was one 
of the men who belonged to the Society of Friends in Tennessee and left to get 
away from the institution of the South which was very objectionable to him. 
Henry Canaday and John Haworth had both preceeded him. He came 
in company with George Haworth. Along their route there were various 
swamps, and when four or five miles south of Quaker Point, their destina- 
tion, they found themselves unable to go further. There were a half dozen girls 
in the party of neighbors who had made the trip together, and they started off on 
foot. Taking the teams from the wagons, which they abandoned, for the present 
at least, the men, women and little children came on as best they might. If the 
way was too difficult for the horses to draw the wagons, it could not be in very 
good condition for walking. They reached John Haworth's by dark, however, 
very glad to find their journey at an end, since he lived near Quaker Point just 
within the limits of present day Vermilion County. Later, the travelers man- 
aged to get their wagons free of the deep mud and taken on their way. John 
Mills settled among the Indians and wild animals and entered four and one- 
fourth sections of land, where he put up a round log cabin, with a puncheon floor, 
a great fireplace in one end of the room, with a stick and clay chimney outside 
and a clapboard roof. The house contained only one room but there was a loft 
where the boys slept. The nearest trading point was Terre Haute, and the pio- 
neers went to mill on Sugar Creek, in Parke County, Indiana, with ox teams. 
Deer were numerous, the settlers being able to kill them almost from their door. 
The wolves made night dismal with their howling, and the chickens, pigs and 
sheep, had to be securely housed in order to save them. The woods were full 
of bee trees and there was an abundance of wild fruit. This section of the coun- 
try was almost literally a "land flowing with milk and honey," but there was much 
sickness. The death of Hannah Mills was the first one in the neighborhood. 
She died in the summer of 1823, and her remains were the first to be buried in 
what is now Vermilion Grove Cemetery. Mr. James Haworth, who accom- 
panied John Mills to Illinois and settled near him, was the father of eleven chil- 
dren, most of whom lived to maturity and did their part in molding the affairs 
of Vermilion County. 


(Written by R. D. McDonald.) 

Alexander McDonald, a pioneer of Vermilion County, Illinois, was a native 
of Tennessee, where he was born in 1796. He, in company with John B. Alex- 
ander and his family, one of whom he had married, came to Illinois in the year 


1820. He located near Paris, where he remained two years, and in 1822 he 
moved to the Little Vermilion timber, and made a farm about three miles west of 
where Georgetown now is. His neighbors were mostly Indians, bears, panthers, 
wild cats, and other wild creatures, of which the woods were full. Among the 
earliest recollections of the writer of this sketch are accounts of the child-like 
crying of panthers, told by the first settlers in this wilderness. There was no 
Georgetown, no Vermilion County, no Danville, no Chicago, then. It is hard 
for a citizen of Vermilion County, of sixty years of age, to believe that only a 
few years before his birth, Illinois was such a wilderness. Such it was for many 
years after Alexander McDonald commenced making his farm. At that time 
Edgar County reached almost to the northern border of the state. In 1826, the 
land attached to Edgar County on the north was made into a new county, and 
named Vermilion. The south part of the state was settled first and mostly by 
people from the southern states. On his farm on the border of civilization, Mr. 
McDonald lived with his wife, Catherine Alexander McDonald, who came into 
this world in the year 1800, and on it they raised ten children, six daughters and 
four sons, all of such character that their acquaintances were glad to point to 
them as their friends. Mr. McDonald was justice of the peace, whether by ap- 
pointment or by election, I do not know. He was also postmaster. The duties 
of both offices were performed at his residence. The first Cumberland Presby- 
terian church in the county, was organized at his home and in it, the congrega- 
tion held all services for a long time, and, until a meeting house was built on his 
land. He was an elder in the church until his death in 1861. 

Uncle Alex McDonald was an old fashioned Democrat. Accepting the 
principles of the Declaration of Independence as to the inalienable rights of men 
in their true spirit, he could not remain contented in a slave state. He was 
among the first insurgents in the Democratic party, when it attempted to extend 
slavery. He claimed no advantage of birth, condition or position. The passport 
to his confidence was merit. He had sympathy and hospitality for all. I lived, 
when a boy, in his house for some time. I never saw, or heard of an applicant 
for a meal or a night's lodging, being turned away. All were supplied without 
money and without price. I can truly apply the following lines to him : 

"A man he was to all the country dear, 
Remote from towns he ran his godly race 
Unskillful he, to fawn or seek for power 
Far other aims his heart had learned to prize. 
More bent to raise the wretched than to rise 
His house was known to all the vagrant train, 
He chid their wanderings, but relieved their pain. 
The ruined spendthrift now no longer proud, 
Claimed kindred there and had his claim allowed." 

The wives of the pioneers deserve equal honors with their husbands, if not 
greater. They endured, and shared all the hardships incident to a new country 
and suffered its privations and by their womanly nature softened the manners of 
the people. Catherine, wife of Alexander McDonald, when scarcely more than 


a young girl, left society and many cultured friends among whom she was raised, 
and came into the wilderness where she endured privations unknown to women 
of this year 1910. She was a helpmeet, indeed. With no servant, she, with 
handspinning wheel, hand loom, scissors, and needle made all the clothing for the 
family, and over, and around an open fire, she cooked the food they and their 
guests ate. I can truthfully say that Aunt Catherine never spoke a cross word 
to, nor a complaining word of, any person. I feel sure that of her, as Jesus 
said of little children, could be said, "of such is the kingdom of heaven." She 
lived to be eighty-one years old and died in Danville in the home of her son, 
Milton, and was buried by the side of her husband in the Weaver graveyard, 
about one mile south of the house where they raised their family. 


John LeNeve, a young man of twenty, came to what is now Newell township 
in 1823. His birthplace was Tennessee, whence he came with his parents to 
Illinois when he was but a lad and they settled in what is now Lawrence County, 
on the Ellison Prairie directly west of Vincennes. He had a brother, Obadiah, 
who in 1822 took a journey into the newer country looking for a location. This 
journey took Obadiah LeNeve from Vincennes to St. Louis, and thence into 
northeast Missouri, and on his homeward trip through a circuit in northern Illi- 
nois. Coming into the section now Newell township of Vermilion County, he took 
a great fancy to the country and decided upon locating there. Before he left the 
favored place he took the numbers of the following tracts : W. one-half N. W., 
one-fourth sec. 23, and E. one-half N. E., one-fourth section 24, town 20 N., 
range II W., 3rd principal meridian, and after going home there was a sale of 
land when he bought this particularly desired part. Just before Christmas the 
two brothers took their belongings, such as would be needed in a new country, as 
provisions and bedding, and set off for their new home. A third person accompanied 
them to take the team back. On reaching their destination they cut a few rails 
and laid up a square, chinking and filling the spaces with pulled grass, and cov- 
ering one-half of the rude structure with puncheons. The Indians were very 
friendly and proved themselves honest and, on the whole, not bad neighbors. 
When they were about at the time the new white settlers were eating, the Indians 
were invited to share their meal which they did and showed themselves friendly 
and inclined to treat the newcomers with all kindness. These two brothers 
spent the winter splitting rails until, when in February they began making prepar- 
tion for their return to arrange a permanent removal to this section. They used 
some of their rails to build a cabin for Ben Butterfield who expected to arrive 
toward the last of February. He came, as was expected, and the LeNeves 
went back, to return later, prepared to make a permanent settlement. John Le- 
Neve married Rebecca Newell, the daughter of the man who was the leader of 
affairs in that part of the county as long as he lived. Rebecca Newell came with 
her father from Harrison County, Kentucky, not long after the LeNeves had 
made this settlement in this particular section. 

John LeNeve, it is said, had a limited amount of money, in exact figures 
being one hundred and thirteen dollars and fifty cents ($113.50) and he invested 






$100 of it in timber and prairie land at one dollar and a quarter an acre leaving 
him thirteen dollars and fifty cents with which to begin fanning. But he could 
count among his assets a pair of good strong arms and a willing heart to work, so 
his success was assured. From this modest beginning Mr. LeNeve became a 
land owner of pretention, and his farm is yet a landmark testifying to his thrift, 
and industry. 

His brother, Obadiah LeNeve, was a man particularly remembered as one 
of charity and public spirit. He was always kind to the widow and orphan and 
seemed to feel a responsibility to share with those less well off than he. He 
never butchered without killing more than enough for himself, so as to give to 
those not able to buy meat. He was always ready to help any one in distress 
and was widely known and universally loved. He was born in 1799 and died 
in 1884. John LeNeve lived on the old homestead all his life and died there. 
His wife also spent her last days in her own home and died and was buried 
from the old homestead. 


William McDowell came to the Little Vermilion in the year 1823 with his 
four grown sons and two married daughters. He came from Kentucky and 
settled south of the creek. His sons were John, Archie, James and William, 
and they were all very much in need of this world's goods. They had come to 
this new country to try to make a new home under better conditions. The 
seven years previous to his coming had been spent in Palestine in poverty, but 
the children were old enough to help in the family and all had concluded to 
spend the $100 which they had managed to save up that would be enough to 
enter eighty acres of land. So the eighty acres of land was entered in sections 
35 and 36, range 13, and they came here to live with little else other than the 
strength of the father's hands and the courage of the not overstrong sons. 
When McDowell arrived at this new home, he built his cabin on a piece of land 
adjoining what he had bought, thinking he would buy this other piece as soon 
as possible. One day he learned that another man, Peter Summe, had gone to 
Palestine to enter that same piece of land. He had not a dollar but he deter- 
mined if possible to prevent that and to save the land. He started on horse- 
back to ride to Palestine, and spared neither the horse nor himself. Riding all 
night he reached there before business hours and went directly to the house of 
the register, who was a friend of his, and told him the trouble. The register, 
to help him out, made the papers out trusting him for sixty days. This act 
would have cost him his place had it been known, because Peter Summe was 
there with the gold in his hand. McDowell came back happy, but it cost him 
dearly, since the worry over getting the hundred dollars inside of the two 
months (he had to sell some of his land to do this) threw him into a fever from 
which he died. Several members of his family died at about the same time. 
The death of his father compelled John McDowell to care for the family and 
work out his fortune as best he could. He had no money, but he was plucky 
and worked for whomever needed him, for whatever wage he could get, all 
the time determined to win out, which he did. A few years later he split rails 
to pay for the land he lived on and, in time, he bought and paid 'for eleven bun- 


dred and fifty acres of land, the most of which he gave to his children, living 
all the remainder of his life on the land which his father made that night's 
ride to Palestine to buy on credit. 


Aaron Mendenhall was born in Guilford, North Carolina, near the scene of 
the battle of the Guilford Court House. Soon after the opening of the Ohio 
Territory, his father brought the family to this new territory and was killed 
while on his way, by Indians. At this time Aaron Mendenhall was a small 
child. He grew to manhood in Ohio and in 1824 he, with his family, following 
in the footsteps of his father, started for a new country. They came to the 
Little Vermilion and entered two hundred and forty acres of land which is 
now in the farm of Silas Baird. This land was entered while yet Illinois was 
a wilderness, at least excepting in certain localities in the southern part. Like 
other pioneers this family endured hardships and privations incident to such a 
life. They were, however, brave and stout hearted and made successful battle 
in subduing the wild land and making it blossom. Thrifty and industrious, 
they taught their children to work and developed them physically and morally 
at the same time. Politically, Mr. Mendenhall was, as his son said, "a whig, 
morning, noon and afternoon," as long as that party was in power. He looked 
upon Henry Clay as one of America's greatest statesmen, and so taught his 
children to do. Later they were as staunch Republicans. His children who 
lived to maturity lived about him, and in this neighborhood of friends were 
most consistent members of that society. 


Cyrus Douglas was one of the few early citizens of Vermilion County who 
was a native of any place above the Mason and Dixon line. Mr. Douglas was 
born in Vermont and came to Butler's Point in 1824. Whether he was an old 
friend of James Butler there is no record nor if he even knew Mr. Butler prev- 
ious to his coming to this place. The fact that they came from the same state 
when so few people from that part of the country were drawn to this section, 
is suggestive, but may have been but a coincidence. 

Mr. Douglas was a hatter by trade in New York and brought material with 
him in emigrating to the west to engage in business in St. Louis. He remained 
there for a time and then went to Brown County, Indiana. He remained in 
Indiana for a short time when the report of the promising conditions on the 
Wabash reached him and he went to Eugene entering some land near there 
east of Georgetown. The grant to this land was signed by President Monroe. 
After a while he moved to Butler's Point and it was while he was there that 
he was married, being the first or perhaps it were better to say, second man 
married within this section, later known as Vermilion County. 


Robert Dickson was a native of Maryland, born December 16, 1765, and 
moved to Kentucky, where he was married in Mason County to Phebe Means. 



Some time after their marriage they settled in Lewis County, but later decided 
to try a new country and came to Illinois in 1824, settling in the southern part 
of that which was to be Vermilion County. Mrs. Dickson died that year at 
the age of forty-eight. Mr. Dickson survived her but three years when he 
died from typhus fever. Politically Mr. Dickson was a Democrat, and as well 
as his wife, he was a staunch Presbyterian. David Dickson was the sixth son 
of Mr. Robert Dickson, and came from Kentucky with his parents when he 
was almost a man grown, he having been born December 13, 1806. When his 
father died three years later he was at his majority and took a man's part. He 
bore his part in the development of the county and well deserves to be reckoned 
among the makers of Vermilion County. His life was one of sobriety and his 
temperate habits showed in his honorable old age. He was the pioneer stock- 
man and feeder and in all his intercourse with his fellowmen he always had 
their confidence and esteem. The oldest son of Robert Dickson was a boat 
builder and when they decided to leave Kentucky he and David built a flat- 
boat and their father bought a keel boat, and they loaded their stock, farming 
utensils and household goods, together with the family, on these boats, and set 
sail on the Ohio river for the "promise land." 

At Louisville, however, they were obliged to abandon their boats and un- 
loading the stock, which consisted of oxen, horses and cows, and make their 
way overland to their destination. The two boys who had built the boat, and 
another older brother, pushed the keelboat up the Wabash river and unloaded 
its contents a little way above Newport, Indiana, at Coleman's Prairie, thence 
they hauled their property to their destination, which was the land their father 
had entered from the government when he came the year before. When David 
Dickson was twenty-three years old he married Miss Margaret Waters, who had 
but a year previous to this time come with her father from Bourbon County, 
Kentucky. Mr. Dickson loved to describe this section as it looked to him when 
he first saw it. It was, according to his description, exceedingly beautiful, 
diversified with prairie and timber, the meadows and marshes thriving with a 
luxuriant growth of prairie grass and wild flowers. Wild animals of many kinds 
abounded, while poisonous reptiles, the rattlesnake, blue racer, black and garter 
snake, kept the traveler on the close lookout. There were also great quantities 
of wild birds, geese, ducks and pheasants, besides turkeys and pigeons. The 
people of that time and place were noted for their hospitality, and the commun- 
ity of interest which led them at all times to be regardful of each other's welfare. 
After the death of Robert Dickson each of the boys started out for himself. 
While all were bright and energetic, David was, perhaps, most successful. He 
began entering land and in time found himself the owner of 1,400 acres which 
he had to a large extent put into a good state of cultivation. Much of this land 
was obtained on a Mexican warrant. Before he was married he worked at one 
time at the salt works. He walked to Fort Clark (now Peoria) in 1827, just 
after his father died on his way to Galena to work in the lead mines. He car- 
ried his clothes and provisions in a knapsack. There he had the vessel which 
was fired upon by the Winnebago Indians pointed out to him. He worked for 
a while in the mines at New Diggings and became acquainted with the founder 


of Fort Gratiot. In the fall of the year he worked his way down the Missis- 
sippi river to St. Louis on a keel boat, then purchased a pony and rode home. 
Mr. Dickson made his first trip to the little town of Chicago in 1832, taking a 
load of produce drawn by oxen. Later he began feeding cattle and was the 
first man to engage in this industry on the Little Vermilion river. In 1844 he 
drove 100 head of hogs to Chicago and in the years immediately following, he 
shipped several herds in this way to Philadelphia and New York City. Mr. 
Dickson was a Democrat in his political faith all his life. 


John Snider, with his wife and three small children, came from Ohio on 
horseback to what is now Blount township of Vermilion County, in 1824, and 
built his home in the forest. He entered a quarter section of land and built 
a log house. The Indians made sugar and held their meetings near the cabin of 
John Snider. It was a strange place to try to build a home ; the entire country 
was full of sloughs and ponds. However, John Snider lived to see a great 
change in the country. He helped fell the trees and clear the land and assisted 
in organizing the township. A debt of gratitude is surely laid on this gener- 
ation to him and others like him who have been pioneers in the development of 
Vermilion County. John Snider was born in 1797, and died November 12, 
1849. His wife, who was the daughter of Charles Blount, the man for whom 
the township was named, survived her husband for several years, she living 
until in the seventies. 


Dr. Asa Palmer was a native of Connecticut, who was born at Coventry in 
1786. He became a resident of Vermont in his boyhood days, and later lived 
in the Black River country of New York. Subsequently he became a resident of 
Moscow, where both his parents died. While living in New York state, Dr. 
Palmer studied medicine and practiced a little. He was married while living in 
New York state. He made a trip to the west in search of a location, and came 
here to live in 1824. His first trip was made on horseback, but when he came to 
locate, the journey was made by boat, going first to Pittsburg and then down the 
Ohio river and up the Wabash river. His destination was the Vermilion river 
country but at that time there was no Danville to attract him, not even so small a 
settlement at this place. Dr. Palmer began his practice in this section and for 
many miles around the settlements from the Little Vermilion to those north and 
west of the mouth of the North Fork of the Vermilion River, he rode in his prac- 
tice. After Danville became the county seat, his home was there and his practice 
was over a broad territory from that point. Eventually he gave up the practice 
of medicine and lived retired. In connection with his son he established the 
first drug store in Danville. He was a leading and influential citizen of this sec- 
tion from the time he came in 1824 to his death in 1861. Dr. Palmer was mar- 
ried three times, his third wife being Adelia Hawkins and one of the honored 
pioneers of Vermilion County. Dr. Palmer was one of the original members of 


the Presbyterian church in Danville. He was the father of thirteen children by 
his first wife and two by his second wife. 


Hezekiah Cunningham, who was a prominent citizen of Danville at an early 
day, was born in Virginia, whence he came in 1819. He was accompanied by his 
mother and with them were the Murphy family. They came in wagons, it taking 
them seven weeks to make their trip to the North Arm in Douglas county. At 
that time there were but ten families in .that part of the country. In 1825 Mr. 
Cunningham came to Vermilion County, following Mr. J. B. Alexander, and mar- 
ried his daughter, Mary. Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham were the parents of five 
children, two of whom grew to manhood and womanhood. These were Mr. W. 
T. Cunningham, who was well and favorably known and the daughter, who be- 
came the wife of Judge O. L. Davis. In 1828 Mr. Cunningham moved to Dan- 
ville where he lived the remainder of his life. While a resident of Danville he 
was interested in all affairs for the advancement of the town. His name is writ- 
ten frequently in the history of the county. He built the storehouse which had 
a hall in the upper story where meetings of all kinds were held. He was a mer- 
chant for many years. Mr. Cunningham, together with his brother-in-law, Mr. 
J. H. Murphy, were men of public spirit and to them there is much of the pros- 
perity of Danville in its growing years due. 


Mr. Eli Henderson came to the country about the Little Vermilion in 1824 
and brought his son, Elam, a boy of about fourteen, with him. Mr. Eli Hender- 
son lived in this community until his death in 1833. Soon after the death of his 
father, Elam Henderson married Mary Golden and they moved to Georgetown 
township, where they accumulated a large property. 

Mr. Henderson was elected to the office of County Commissioner in 1836. 
After filling this office three years, he was elected associate justice. He kept this 
office about nine years or until the county went under township organization. 
Mr. Henderson became a merchant in 1853 and continued in that business for 
more than twenty years. With the exception of two years he was supervisor of 
his township from 1857 to 1873. Mr. Henderson was an old line whig up to the 
dissolution of that party after which he was a staunch republican. He was con- 
nected with the Society of Friends, as was his father before him. 


It was while yet the present United States were the colonies of Great Britain 
that a ship crossed the Atlantic, having on board a man who was to be a strong 
factor in the making of Illinois. This man was John B. Alexander. On board 
the same vessel was another young man who, too was seeking a home beyond the 
sea whose posterity was destined to be a conspicuous part of the history of this 
section. Beside these two mien there was a family whose acquaintance they made 


on the passage. The family consisted of at least two daughters and a son of a 
Scotchman by the name of King. The acquaintance which might have been of 
longer standing than the weeks on shipboard, and might not, ripened into ardent 
affection on the part of young Alexander and McDonald toward the daughters 
of Mr. King. The result of this or rather these romances was that both the young 
men, Alexander and McDonald, married his daughters. Mr. King and both 
John B. Alexander and Donald McDonald, located in Tennessee and there re- 
mained for some time. 

In due course of time, Donald McDonald's son, Alexander McDonald, to- 
gether with J. B. Alexander's son, came to the then new state of Illinois. Since 
the wife of Alexander McDonald, was Catherine Alexander (the daughter of 
Mr. Alexander) and his son as well were seeking homes in the new country, the 
father came with them. Mr. McDonald and his wife came on to the attached 
part of Edgar County, soon after reaching Illinois, and located in the neighbor- 
hood of the Little Vermilion, but Mr. Alexander and his son located in Edgar 
County, at Paris. There they remained until the new county of Vermilion was 
formed when Mr. Alexander came to that territory and had much to do in put- 
ting the machinery of the new county in working order. 

Mr. Alexander was a man particularly fitted to do this work, and it is a fortu- 
nate thing that he was willing to cast his lot with the fortunes of the new county. 
He was the first commissioner and it was through his influence doubtless that 
Amos Williams was brought here from Edgar County. Mr. Alexander did not 
come into this wilderness without a sacrifice. His was of a nature that could find 
expression in intercourse with men. He was a well read man and could give as 
well as find pleasure among men of letters. His library was a wonder, and his 
manners were far from those of the pioneer. A memory of his granddaughter 
that she cherishes with fondness is, when she was a girl of perhaps nine he took 
the trouble to take into his private room and unlocking the desk, unwrapped a 
book which he showed her, telling her that it was the first book he procured for 
her father, Gen. M. R. Alexander. Then he carefully wrapped it up and put it 
away in the desk which he locked. Mrs. McMillen, his granddaughter, goes on 
to say, Grandfather told me of his young manhood, he was but a boy when he saw 
his future wife on ship board, near Charlotte, N. C. How on one occasion riding 
through the British camp on his way with a sack of corn on his horse going to 
mill to have it ground. He also told me what an exciting time they had when the 
whole community assembled in Charlotte to sign and ratify the Declaration of 
Independence in May, 1775. I said, "Grandpa, were you a democrat then?" 
Throwing his hands on his breast he said, "Politics, we had no politics, we were 
patriots." This answer and earnestness impressed me greatly. I thought he 
was the grandest man I ever had seen. 


William Trimbell came to Vermilion County in 1826, riding on horseback. 
He was accompanied by his wife who also rode her horse all the way from Ken- 
tucky to this county. He was one of the first settlers in what is now Pilot town- 
ship. He came direct from Kentucky but was born and raised in New Orleans. 

Drawn and photographed by his son, A. R. Campbell 


He made money in feeding cattle and became possessed of land of value. Mrs. 
Trimbell long kept the dress she wore on her trip into this county and showed it 
to her children and grandchildren. It was made of some wool goods which she 
had spun and woven herself and had dyed a blue color. Mr. and Mrs. Trimbell 
were the parents of nine children all but two of whom grew to maturity, and had 
families of their own. Of these children William, the eldest, was the only one 
not born in this county. Elizabeth became the wife of John Vinson, Sarah be- 
came the wife of Gentry Williams, Mary became the wife of George Brown and 
Harvey Piper married Rebecca, the youngest. John Trimbell married Clara 
Meade, the daughter of Nathaniel Meade, William Trimbell, Jr., married Zella 
Outan and Paris Trimbell married a Miss Cook. When William Trimbell took 
the lone ride from Kentucky, with his wife, who carried their boy on the horse 
with her the country was rough and unsettled. He entered land, as did all the 
early settlers near a stream and did not dare go outside the timber to build his 
house, but stuck to the timber and put the prairie to the apparent natural use as 
grazing ground for the cattle which brought him great wealth. When his daugh- 
ter married he gave her a farm on the prairie that her husband could care for the 
stock. . ' 


Amos Williams, one of the most prominent annong the makers of Vermilion 
County, was born in Franklin county, Pennsylvania, June 15, 1796. He came 
to Illinois in ' After going to he settled in Paris where 

he was clerk of the court and surveyor. It was Amos Williams who surveyed 
Paris and platted it. When in 1825, the newly organized county of Vermilion 
was in need of a man to act as clerk, J. B. Alexander was one of the commission- 
ers and much depended upon him to set the machinery going. He knew the 
ability of this young man and at once took steps to secure his services for Ver- 
milion county. Mr. Alexander had, until quite recently, lived in Paris where his 
son, at that time, was in business, but his sons-in-law had lived in this part of the 
attached territory to Edgar County and he had kept in touch with the needs of the 
territory. He knew not only that it would be a hard matter to get as good a 
clerk as Amos Williams made, but that there was not the material for such use in 
this section. The commissioners sent for Mr. Williams to change his residence. 
Amos Williams consented, and there is a letter in the possession of one of his 
grandsons written to his mother just before he left Paris, which shows with 
what serious thought he contemplated the change of location. He also states 
that he had just married the daughter of Judge Shaw, of Paris. The other 
daughter of Judge Shaw became the wife of Dan Beckwith, afterward. Mr. 
Williams, located at Butler's Point, that being the place where the Vermilion 
County Court was held until a county seat was located. Amos Williams became 
an active citizen of the county from the first. He assisted in surveying the coun- 
ty, locating the county seat and he built the first house in Danville. He was both 
clerk of the circuit court and judge of the probate. He was appointed the first 
postmaster of Danville and also Notary Public. He held all these offices without 
interruption from the organization of the county until 1843, and some of them, 
until 1849 a period of twenty-three years. So faithful was he in his service 


that many thought there was no other man in the county qualified to do his work. 
The records need but to be seen to show his proficiency as a scribe. Amos Wil- 
liams was anxious for all measures which promised the betterment of Vermilion. 
County. He was most active in advancing education in the county and particu- 
larly in Danville. For many years he personally owned the only schoolhouse 
in Danville, which he had built for that purpose. This building was opened to 
the use of all denominations as a place of public worship, also for public speak- 
ing, lyceums, and all entertainments of an educational or instructive character, 
and always without charge. Although in public office for so long a time, there 
was never a charge of incompetency or questionable business methods made. He 
died November 15, 1857, and was buried in the Williams burying ground. When 
this burying ground was sold to the city that a street might be extended further 
east, his remains were removed to Spring Hill Cemetery. 


Levi Babb was born in Green County, Tenn., Dec. 26, 1788. He came to Ver- 
milion County, in October, 1826, and stopped near Yankee Point for a short 
time. In December of the same year he located on section 14, range n, El wood 
township. He remained there about three years and a half, entering the west 
half of the southeast quarter of the section named, where he built the house 
which not only served him but his son after him for a home. During the time of 
his early residence in Vermilion County, Mr. Babb entered in all about six hun- 
dred acres of land. The Indians had their camping ground about the house he 
built. There has been much evidence of this particular place being the scene of 
an Indian battle in the long ago by the many flint arrow heads found on the 
grounds. There was even a stone axe discovered there at one time. 

In the early days of his first coming Levi Babb was obliged to go to Raccoon 
and Sugar creeks to mill. He endured many hardships and privations as did all 
the pioneers. He came from Tennessee in a five horse wagon, riding a distance 
of six hundred and fifty miles. He became a fluent speaker of the language 
of the native Indian and taught the son of the chief to plow, and in many ways en- 
deared himself to them, and made them his friend forever. He was a tireless 
worker and in every thing that pertained to his farm he spared no pains to pro- 
cure the best. He would haul his produce to Chicago and return with salt and 
groceries. He was offered forty acres of land where Chicago now stands for a 
yoke of oxen, but he thought the land would never be of any account and so 
refused the wonderful bargain. Mr. Babb was married twice and was the 
father of thirteen children. He died March 23, 1872. His first wife was 
Susannah Dillon, and his second wife who survived him less than a year, was the 
daughter of Alexander Prevo, a pioneer of Fountain County, Indiana. 


William Watson was a native of Nelson County, Kentucky, and he went 
from there to Harrison County, Indiana, thence to Vermilion County, Illinois, 
in 1826. He bought land and developed a farm, at least was doing what he 


could, when three years later he died. His son John was not much more than 
a boy, but boys grew up quickly in those days of responsibility, and John Wat- 
son was the same as other boys and early took a man's part. He served in the 
Black Hawk war and shared all the privation of a pioneer's life. His capital 
of determination and a pair of good strong arms and willing hands was worth 
more than money would have been at that time. He entered and bought land 
until he owned about a thousand acres. His home was about five miles north- 
east of Danville. He remained on his farm until, in 1873, when at the age of 
sixty-three, he bought residence property in Danville and made that his home for 
twenty-five years. 


Michael Weaver was born in Washington County, Maryland. His father 
died while yet he was a lad and his mother took him to North Carolina, but 
he ran away from home with a cattle drover's outfit and he returned to Mary- 
land where his older brothers yet were. From that time he made his 
way in the world. When he became a man he married Elizabeth Specard. 
of Hagerstown, and about a year later they moved to Pennsylvania. They 
later made their way down the Ohio to Kentucky where Mr. Weaver 
bought a farm and they lived here for three years when they crossed 
the river into Clermont County, Ohio, and soon afterward went to Brown 
County in the same state. He remained on that farm for ten years when 
he put his wife and ten children in a big covered wagon and well supplied 
with provision and all needed for a new home, they started for Sugar Creek, 
Indiana. He did not like this location when he reached it, however, and so 
went on beyond to Vermilion County, Illinois. He settled in what is now Car- 
roll township and entered land which he proceeded to improve. He had to go 
to Palestine to enter the land. The Weaver family found a cabin which some- 
one else had built, which had two rooms and a kitchen built on. This they 
made do until they could get something better. 

A part of Mr. Weaver's family was his son-in-law and his family. They 
arrived here November 12, 1828. Mr. Weaver was a man of a high sense of 
honor and justice. He would never accept more than six per cent interest for 
money loaned, nor would charge or take more than twenty-five cents for a 
bushel of corn. He declared that was all it cost to raise it. He was very be- 
nevolent and always had his house open for any one. Nothing pleased him more 
than to help those who tried to help themselves. Mr. Weaver lived to be more 
than one hundred years old and in his old age he was a man of great wealth. 
He was the father of seven children who married into the families of the prom- 
inent settlers and settled in the neighborhood so that many in that part of the 
county are direct descendants. 


Abel Williams came into this county in 1826, bringing his wife and four chil- 
dren. They came from Tennessee, his father having gone there from North 
Carolina. He and his wife were both members of the Methodist Episcopal 


church and when he came here the first thing he did was to build a place of 
worship. He did it without help from any one until it was almost completed. 
It was the first house of worship ever built in Carroll township. It was built 
about a mile southwest of Indianola, and was the center of Methodism for many 
years and several counties. Mr. Williams was the first advocate of "total absti- 
nence" in Vermilion County. When he first came there was not a man but who 
drank more or less intoxicating liquor. The church members were no exception. 
When Abel Williams began to advocate "teetotalism," as it was called, he made 
many enemies as may be supposed. He lived, however, to see intemperance dis- 
counted in the church and public sentiment banish it from the best society. 

Abel Williams was the second justice of the peace and held the office twelve 
years. It was well known that he would not issue papers for law suits until he 
had exhausted every means of other settlement. His decisions were always sus- 
tained by the higher courts. Abel Williams came of Quaker stock. 


The family of Gilberts are well considered together, since all of them were 
more or less great factors in the making of Vermilion County. Samuel Gilbert, 
with his family, consisting of his wife and three sons, Alvan, James and Elias, 
came to Vermilion County from Ontario County, New York, in 1826. They had 
really come west the previous year but stopped in Crawford County until this 
time. When they came to Vermilion County they settled two miles south of Dan- 
ville. There was, at that time, no town in the county containing more than fifty 
white families. The nearest mill was at Eugene. The great need of this section 
was a mill and in 1831, Mr. Solomon Gilbert, the brother of Samuel came from 
the east and put up one at near the mouth of the North Fork of the Big Vermilion. 
Another brother, Jesse, established a ferry across the Vermilion river, a much 
needed improvement. 

Mr. Samuel Gilbert lived in Danville until 1839, when he went to Ross town- 
ship and there was made the first justice of the peace. He was also the first post- 
master, serving in this office for twenty years. He held the office of justice for 
ten years. Mr. Gilbert's wife died the year he moved from Danville, and was 
buried in the Williams' burying ground. Mr. Gilbert afterward married Mrs. 
Elizabeth (Dougherty) Ferrier, the daughter of one of the early settlers of 
Vance township. Mr. Samuel Gilbert lived to be seventy-two years old. He 
died and was buried in the Williams' burying ground. 

Alvan Gilbert, the oldest son of Samuel Gilbert, was fifteen years old when 
he came to Vermilion County. He spent the first years after coming here in the 
work provided by the many interests of his father and uncles. In 1831 he mar- 
ried Miss Matilda Horr and the following year he went with his father to Ross 
township, where his father-in-law owned land. Mr. Gilbert bought a small farm 
of his father-in-law which he afterward enlarged to 240 acres. This farm he 
afterward sold to his father and brother James, and bought another farm of his 
uncle Solomon. This later farm included the northern limits of Rossville. He 
lived her about three years when he again sold and bought another farm of Mr. 
Leg-gitt which included a part of the southern limits of Rossville. He traded 


extensively in real estate and personal property, and it has been claimed that dur- 
ing his life he had more deeds recorded than any other man in the county. Mr. 
Gilbert's first wife died in 1840, leaving two daughters, one of whom afterward 
married George C. Dickson and the other became the wife of Frederick Grooms. 
Mr. Alvan Gilbert served as Supervisor of his township for many years, being 
president of the Board for a part of the time. Upon the adoption of the town- 
ship organization he was one of the three commissioners appointed to divide the 
county into townships. He was also one of the three commissioners appointed 
to divide the swamp lands between this county and Ford, when Vermilion lost 
that territory. Mr. Gilbert and Mr. Lamm represented the old county and Judge 
Patton, the new one. He had Judge (Guy) Merrill and John Canaday as asso- 
ciates in the act of making the division of the county into townships. The three 
who divided the swamp lands were about three months in making the division. 
Mr. Alvan Gilbert's second wife was Nancy (Horr) Elzy. 


Samuel Baum came to Vermilion County at the same time as his father-in- 
law, Michael Weaver, and settled on the Little Vermilion. His brother Charles 
came nine years later and together they became the founders of the family of 
that name of whom there have been many in Vermilion County. Samuel mar- 
ried Sarah, the daughter of Michael Weaver, while they were in Ohio and had a 
family of two children when he came west. After coming to Illinois there were 
six more children born to them. Sarah (Weaver) Baum died and Samuel Baum 
married Mrs. Polly Matkins, the widow of William Matkins, and they became 
the parents of four children. Samuel Baum was a large, powerful man, six feet 
one inch in height, and weighed three hundred pounds. He was jovial and good 
hearted, always a good tempered man. He took the first produce he raised in 
Vermilion County to Chicago, driving five yoke of oxen. His sole possession 
when he came to Illinois was a horse, a bridle and a saddle, and at the time of 
his death in 1861 he was the owner of 1,500 acres of well cultivated land, besides 
personal property. He belonged to the Republican party and died at the age of 
fifty-six. His brother, Charles Baum, who came to this county some years after 
took up 1 60 acres of land from the government, and made later purchases until, 
at one time, he owned 1,660 acres, besides the 200 acres that was the gift to his 
wife from her father. Charles Baum was married three years after coming to 
Vermilion County to Miss Catherine Weaver, who was the fourth daughter and 
sixth child of Michael Weaver. Mrs. Baum was born in Clermont County, Ohio, 
and came to Illinois at the same time as her father, she being but eight years old 
at the time. Mr. Baum lived on his home farm which his wife's father gave her. 


John Larrance was a native of North Carolina, but he came to the Little Ver- 
milion directly from Tennessee in 1827. He had his choice of almost the whole 
of Vermilion County at that time and he made a good one. He entered 240 acres 
of land, paying the government price, and thereon built a cabin made of round 


logs. It had but one room and was not at all luxurious. The floor was logs split 
in two with the flat side up, a clapboard roof and doors of the same material. 
They lived happily for one year in this house and were determined to make a 
comfortable home of it in spite of inconveniences. For nine years Mr. Lar- 
rance's wife cooked all the meals on the fireplace, using a long handled skillet 
and a brick bake oven. At the end of that time he went to Chicago for some pur- 
pose and brought back a cook stove. This was the first one in the neighborhood, 
and was a great curiosity. The maiden name of Mrs. Larrance was Ruth Mills, 
she being the daughter of John Mills. She was the mother of nine children. 

Mr. Larrance's oldest son was nearly ten years old when they came from 
Tennessee, and he soon grew to take his place in the affairs of the county. His 
education in books was had in the old school-house with greased paper for win- 
dows, stick and clay chimney, slab benches and wall desks, of the pioneer days of 
Illinois. The school course was limited to two or three months in the winter. 
Moses Larrance married Nancy, the daughter of Aaron Mendenhall. Mr. Men- 
denhall had been living in this part of Vermilion County for three years when 
Mr. Larrance came from the same place in Tennessee. Mr. Mendenhall owned 
the same farm that Silas Baird later purchased. Mr. Moses Larrance was the 
father of thirteen children, who have married among the children of the early 
settlers until they are related to many. He and his household have, as had his 
father before him, been strong supporters of the Society of Friends. 


William Current came to Vermilion County in 1827 and settled five miles 
northeast of Danville in Newell township. He was a man of twenty-four and 
his wife, hardly more than a girl, being but twenty, yet having been married five 
or six years. They came from Pennsylvania and endured the common trials of 
pioneer life. Mr. Current secured a good tract of land and built up a fine home- 
stead. The family came in time to experience the suffering of the winter of the 
deep snow. Mr. Current volunteered in the Black Hawk war and served until 
discharged with the other troops. William Current was the father of thirteen 
children and died in 1851 at the comparative early age of forty-three. His wife 
survived him, remaining a widow for thirty-three years. She died in 1884. 


Andrew Patterson brought his family to Vermilion County in 1827 from 
East Tennessee. He was a native of Granger County, East Tennessee, as was 
also his son William who was at that time three years old. Andrew Patterson 
settled his family at Yankee Point among Indians and wild animals. Like all the 
pioneers they settled in the timber, thinking the prairie could never be used for 
anything but grazing. 

William Golden, the father-in-law of Andrew Patterson, had come to the 
Little Vermilion country three years before this date and located at Yankee Point. 
Mr. Golden later had the distinction of having the first frame house in the neigh- 
borhood. It was not only a frame house, but it was painted. His grandson, the 


son of Mr. Patterson, tells about this house which he recalls distinctly. It was 
two rooms long and one room deep, and painted red. Mr. Golden's half brother, 
Tom Whitlock, painted it, using a brush as any one would do today. There is 
no doubt the strongest ties were between William Golden and his daughter 
Amelia, who became the wife of Andrew Patterson, and followed her father to 
Illinois. Her oldest son was named William and her youngest one was named 
Golden, both bearing the name of her father. Andrew Patterson was the father 
of six children. William Patterson, the oldest son of Andrew Patterson, grew 
up in Elwood township and married the daughter of Eli Patty, in 1853. He was 
born February 2.2, 1824, in Granger County, East Tennessee. 

Mr. and Mrs. Patterson are the parents of seven children of whom four are 
yet living. Mr. Patterson has been a resident of Elwood township ever since 
1827, with the exception of a few years shortly after his marriage, when he im- 
proved a fine farm at Broadlands in; the southwestern part of Champaign County. 


Samuel Copeland was among the first, if not the very first, settlers of Blount 
township. He came to Vermilion County in 1827. The family made the journey 
from Ohio in a keelboat down the Ohio river and up the Wabash river to Perrys- 
ville, Indiana. Mr. Copeland made the boat himself and brought not only the 
household goods but also a boat load of salt. Out of the sale of the salt he made 
his start in the new life. He sold the salt at Perrysville and hired a man to haul 
his household goods and family seven miles northwest of Danville, where he 
entered eighty acres of land, part timber and part prairie. His first house was 
made by laying one pole from one tree to another about ten feet apart on a fork 
in either tree, against which poles and rails were leaned on each side for a roof. 
In that tent they lived until they could build a log house. He had brought a load 
of planks with him from Ohio. These planks he put on the ground for a floor and 
bed and began hewing rails. As soon as he could get enough rails he sent word 
to the State Line for help to raise the house. Such a labor always took the entire 
neighborhood and in his case other neighborhoods had to be called upon for help. 
All that was necessary in the case of a house to raise was a notice sent; every 
man took it for granted that he must go and it was never thought that the man 
whose house was being built should offer wages for the help. Such as that would 
be considered an insult. Steady work and willing effort soon conquers any ob- 
stacle, so it was on this farm. After getting the first eighty acres into cultiva- 
tion, Mr. Copeland would buy more land and improve it until he had increased 
his farm to a great extent. 


Larkin Cook was born and married in Ohio, where they lived on a farm for 
some time before going to Indiana. In 1887 they again moved, this time coming 
to Vermilion County, Illinois. Mr. Cook was a man of strict integrity. He was 
cordial and hospitable and his wife was particularly fond of company. Their 


home in Vermilion County was a happy place to visit. They were, with their 
families much in demand at merrymakings. They were the parents of ten chil- 


Andrew and Mary (James) Juvinall cast their lot in with the white settlers of 
Vermilion County at an early day, coming in 1827. They were both natives of 
Ohio and made their new home in Pilot township. 


Samuel Sconce was born in Bourbon County, Kentucky, in 1802, and there 
they had all the trials of pioneer life, so that the change to the new country along 
the Vermilion river was not the place of hardship it might have been to one from 
more densely populated section. He left his old home in 1828, and made his 
permanent settlement in Vermilion County the following year. The year fol- 
lowing this, Nancy Waters, who had come to Vermilion County with her father 
from Bourbon County, Kentucky, the old home of Mr. Sconce, and located in 
Brooks' Point, became his wife. For a few years this young couple lived in 
Brooks' Point and Mr. Sconce turned his attention to farming, but later he 
became a merchant in Indianola, under the firm name of Bailey & Sconce. He 
was very successful in this business but after the building burned he retired from 
business life. Mr. Sconce died in 1874 at the age of seventy-one years, and his 
widow survived him until 1897 when she died at the age of eighty-nine. 


William Jones and his wife were both born in Harrison County, Kentucky, 
where they were married and lived for the first dozen years of being together. 
In 1828 they, with their family of six children, cast their fortunes with the 
pioneers of Vermilion County, locating near Danville in Danville township. 
They lived for a short time on section 16 and then he bought a tract of land on 
section n. It was heavily timbered and the family lived in a rail-pen for a time 
until a log house could be built. Mr. Jones improved a part of his land and then 
moved to another part of the township. He died October 30, 1859. He was a 
faithful soul receiving the well-earned respect of all who knew him. His wife 
survived him eight years. They were the parents of eight children. Of these 
one became the wife of Henry Sallee, of Oakwood township and another became 
the wife of Dennis Olehy. 


In 1828 William Wright with his family came to this county, coming directly 
from Rush County, Indiana. At that time there were but three children. They 
had not been living in Indiana more than one year, having gone there from 
Kentucky. The first settlement made was three miles north of Danville. At the 
time of his location here there were not many families in Danville, it was so 
recently made a town. The land was not yet in the market, and settlements were 





not attempted. He, however, ventured to settle in the timber, having the univer- 
sal mistrust of the prairie. He built his house of logs and the chimney was con- 
structed of a substance called stone-coal, which was thought to be fire-proof. 
This was a mistake, however, for the fire was no sooner built than the chimney 
began to burn and it was with difficulty that the cabin was saved. 

The little log house was soon surrounded by a well cultivated farm and in 
time a neat and comfortable house was built. During this time the village of 
Denmark had been growing. Because of the disadvantages of living so near this 
rough frontier town, Mr. Wright sold his farm and moved to Danville township. 
Here he spent his last days. He died in 1845. His wife survived him by thirty- 
six years. 


James Graves and his wife were both natives of Kentucky. He showed rare 
soldierly qualities in the war of 1812 and made General Harrison his personal 
friend. Mr. Graves and his family came to Vermilion County in 1828. He had 
made a trip previous to this time in company with Isaac Sandusky, and both took 
up land in Vermilion County about a half mile apart. They brought their families 
in 1828 and in October of the same year the Graves settled on their new land. 
Mr. Graves prospered and became the owner of four hundred acres of land in 
Georgetown township. Mr. Graves was a cabinet-maker by trade and he fol- 
lowed that for a dozen years after he came to Vermilion County. After that 
time however, he practically abandoned it, and turned his attention to farming. 
Mr. Graves lived on his farm until 1857, when he died. His wife survived him 
thirty years, remaining a widow until her death in 1887. 


James Barnett was a native of Kentucky and settled in Vermilion County in 
1828. He was married twice, the first time to Miss Conway and the second time 
to Rosa Neil. He owned about six hundred acres of land near Indianola and was 
one of the prominent farmers in that part of the country. His ancestors were 
from Ireland and when they came to America they settled in Pennsylvania. Mr. 
James Barnett, Sr., died in 1866. 


Andrew Makemson was a resident of Kentucky until, in 1828, he with his 
wife and family, came to Vermilion County, Illinois, to make their future home 
in Newell township. Mr. Makemson was a stalwart Republican and both he 
and his wife were good members of the Methodist church and were highly 
esteemed for their honesty and sterling qualities. Mr. Makemson died in 1880 
and his wife in 1889. They were both buried in the Lamm cemetery. 


John Chandler, like so many of the pioneers of Vermilion County, was a 
native of the "Blue Grass state," where he lived until he had reached man- 
hood's estate, and in 1828 determined to go into the state of Illinois. Making 


their way to this county they located on a tract of wild land in Newell township 
where he tilled the soil and made such improvements as to sell it to a profit 
in 1853 an d take up his residence in Danville. Mr. Chandler lived in Danville 
until he died in 1859. His wife died before he left the farm. 


Absolom Collison was a native of Pike County, Ohio, and in 1828 came to 
Illinois. He entered forty acres of land from the government and began the 
development of a farm. So well did he succeed that he became a land owner 
well known. He married Mary Chenoweth, who was born near Columbus, 
Ohio, but came to Illinois with her father. Mr. Collison was the father of 
seven children who have been conspicuous in the affairs of Vermilion County. 
He died in 1849. His widow afterward married John Smith. 


Joseph Smith was a native of East Tennessee and lived there until, in 1828, 
when he with his family came to Vermilion County, Illinois. It had been but 
ten years since Illinois had become a state and but three years since Vermilion 
County had been created. Joseph Smith took up his abode in Georgetown town- 
ship and improved a farm there upon which he spent the remaining years of 
his life. He lived to the age of seventy-three in this home. 


Samuel Campbell came to Vermilion County about 1828, settling on section 
26, Newell township. He made his journey from Seneca County, New York, 
overland in a covered wagon. He first stopped in Ohio and waited while some 
of his sons came ahead to Vermilion County, following them later. They lived 
at first in a little cabin surrounded by Indian neighbors. There they underwent 
all the hardships and trials incident to the establishing of a home on the frontier. 
Later the log cabin was replaced by a modern house where Mr. and Mrs. Camp- 
bell spent their last years. They were the parents of eight children. After the 
death of his father the youngest son bought the interests of the others and 
carried on the farm until his death in 1855, when he was but forty-one years 


Otho Allison was a resident of Harrison County, Kentucky, until he came to 
Indianapolis, Ind., in 1826, where he stayed two years and then came to Vermilion 
County, Illinois. He was a miller as well as a farmer. Upon coming to the 
county Mr. Allison entered a claim of one hundred and twenty acres, five miles 
from Danville, in Newell township. This included eighty acres of prairie and 
forty acres of timber land, and it was in a raw state; not a bit of improvement 
had ever been made. During his boyhood days, Alfred Allison went with his 
father, Otho Allison, to Chicago, and saw the Indians paid off after the Black 


Hawk war. His father also showed him the first brick building ever put up in 
that city. Otho Allison was the father of thirteen children, eleven sons and 
two daughters. 


When James Donovan was a youth of sixteen years he served in the regular 
army under Gen. Jackson, as private in a Kentucky company. Returning to his 
home in Bourbon county, he settled down and after awhile married Mary Perkins. 
In 1828 they moved to Vermilion County. He was employed in the salt works 
for a time and afterward he hauled produce to Chicago and took charge of the 
same down the river to New Orleans. He had a life of hardship and died 
when he was about sixty years old. Mrs. Donovan died at the age of sixty-six 
years. They were the parents of fifteen children. 


William Bandy was a prominent citizen in the affairs of Vermilion County 
at an early day. He was born in Bedford County, Va., and when a boy of sixteen 
came to Vermilion County, where he lived until his death. William and 
Washington Bandy came with their foster parents, making the trip in a four- 
horse team wagon, taking thirty-six days to come from their old home to Dan- 
ville, Illinois. The wagon was filled with household effects and provisions, leaving 
but room for the family. In it their beds were made at night and they took their 
meals by the side of the road. When they reached Danville, December 13, 1828, 
there were but nine families living here. There was no cabin for them to rent, 
while they were providing a shelter, but they at last succeeded in securing a 
temporary abiding place in a log house which already contained two families. 
This building was 16x16 feet, and stood on the northwest corner of the square 
upon the present site of the First National Bank. Mr. Howell, the foster father 
of William and Washington Bandy, kept his family in this house until spring, 
because he could do no better. 

The land office was at that time located at Palestine, ninety miles away. 
Mr. Howell went there right away to enter or purchase land, but could not do so 
because the officer in charge would not take the Virginia money which he offered 
in payment. After some delay, this difficulty was overcome and he entered 480 
acres of land. He put four cabins up on this land, the principal one being that 
which was located one mile southeast of the public square. This house was made 
of rough logs with a puncheon floor, two windows and a door, with greased paper 
for use in the windows in the place of glass. The building was 16 ft. by 18 ft. 
and boasted window shutters of rived boards. An opening was made in the logs 
eight feet wide, and built out three feet, and this was lined with earth for a fire- 
place. The chimney was built outside six feet high and covered with mortar. 
This rude contrivance lasted for years and furnished enough heat for cooking and 
warming of the building in the winter. 

The furniture was equally crude and homely. The bedstead was made of 
riven boards and set on wooden legs; the table was made in a like manner, 
only the legs were made higher. The family had brought two chairs which 


were given to the father and mother and the boys had to make stools for them- 
selves to sit on. A tick was made which was filled with straw and another 
filled with feathers, and put on the bed. While game was plenty, and the family 
never lacked for meat, the groceries had to be brought in from Terre Haute 
and sometimes failed to be as plenty. After the cabin was built, water had to 
be carried 300 yards, until a well could be dug. Mr. Howell made a contract 
to get out 10,000 black walnut rails at twenty-five cents per hundred, and in 
the meanwhile he and the boys carried on the improvement of the farm. They 
broke the first timber land about Danville and raised some very fine corn which 
they were obliged to feed to their swine and sell the pork at from $1.00 to $1.50 
per hundred. There was no market for the corn. The wage of a day's work 
was equal to ten or twelve pounds of salt pork or eight bushels of corn, or, from 
thirty-seven and a half to fifty cents in cash, and only the extra good workmen 
could command that price. William Bandy remained a member of this home 
until he was nineteen years old when he went into the Black Hawk war in 
Colonel I. R. Moore's regiment with Captain J. Palmer. 

This regiment went first to Joliet to build a fort. Thence they went to Ot- 
tawa, and yet later William Bandy joined the United States Mounted Rangers, 
which comprised six companies. They found the dread scourge of cholera at 
Rock Island and many fell victims to it. This company finally returned and 
wintered southeast of Danville until in January they were ordered to the other 
side of the Illinois river, but there being no need of their further service they 
came back to their camp. They remained ready for duty all summer, recon- 
noitering in different sections until, in the fall of the year, they were discharged. 

Mr. Bandy, in company with Mr. Howell, began work as a carpenter, and 
that year built a house on what was called Sulphur Springs Place, about one 
mile southeast of the court house. In the following spring they built a flat boat 
upon which Mr. Bandy loaded great quantities of pork and took it to New 
Orleans. When he reached his destination he found an epidemic of cholera, 
and he waited only to sell enough to pay expenses when he came home, having 
left the rest of his pork to be sold by others. Two years later he had a letter 
from the man who undertook the sale, stating that it was all sold, and enclosing 
the price thereof in a draft on a Louisville bank. 

Mr. Bandy built another boat and took another load of produce down the 
rivers, and continued these trips year after year excepting in the time of the 
Mexican war, when he abandoned the river until after its close. 

Later he furnished the Illinois Canal company with packet horses and also 
was a merchant in partnership with his father-in-law, William Murphy. He 
later had a hardware store, conducting the largest business of this kind in the 
county, for years. He spent the last years of his life in the real estate business. 
His first residence was on North street, east of Vermilion, where he had a half 
acre of ground. He was appointed as one of the commissioners to make the 
slack water of the Vermilion river, in 1835, but did not see it practical; later 
he was appointed marshal of the Eastern District of Illinois, but there being 
nothing which appealed to him in the office, he withdrew. 

Mr. Bandy represented his township two terms as supervisor ; he also served 
the city as president of the city council and as alderman. Mr. Bandy married 


Miss Harrie J. Murphy, in 1833. They were the parents of seven children. 
Mrs. Bandy died in 1872, and nine years later he married Mrs. Deborah (King) 


James Smith was one of the first, if not the first man to settle in Vance 
township. He came from Ohio, where he was a farmer, and entered eight hun- 
dred acres of land in Vermilion County in this section. During his life he im- 
proved all this land and gave each of his children a portion before he died. 
He came to Vermilion County in 1829 and lived here until his death in 1872. 
His wife died ten years before him. 


William Blakeney was a native of Kentucky, and his wife Susan (Ellis) 
Blankeney, was born in Greene County, Ohio. Susan Ellis came to Vermilion 
County with her father about 1821, but Mr. Blakeney came in 1829. He came 
to Illinois earlier than this but did not locate in Vermilion County for some 
time after he left Ohio. He traveled over the state on foot, visiting the lead 
mines at Galena. He served in the Black Hawk war in 1832, three years after 
coming to Vermilion County. Physically, William Blakeney was a splendid 
speciment of manhood. He was tall, had a powerful frame and was very active. 
He was acknowledged the strongest man west of the Wabash, and could outrun 
any man in this section were he white man or Indian. Mr. and Mrs. Blakeney 
were the parents of twelve children, eight of whom grew to mature years and 
married and had families of their own. 

! Mr. Blakeney's home was in Georgetown township. One of his sons, well 
known in Sergeant Blakeney, married the daughter of Benjamin Brooks, the 
founder of Brooks' Point. 


Charles Young became an extensive land owner in Vermilion County, com- 
ing at the early date of 1829. He was a Kentuckian by birth and lived in that 
state until after his marriage, January 14, 1829. He lived in Harrison County, 
until the following October when the young couple decided to change their 
residence and go to the new county of Vermilion in the new state of Illinois. 
They arrived here on October 14, and took their life up in Newell township. 
The amount of his wealth at the time of his coming to Vermilion County was 
an eagle, a half dollar and twenty-five cents in his pocket. He bought eighty 
acres of wild prairie land and by careful management he became one of the 
richest men in Vermilion County. He bought and sold all kinds of stock, having 
driven horses to the Cincinnati. Chicago, Racine and Milwaukee markets. Mr. 
Young was the father of nine children. His wife died in 1871. 


Charles Caraway was the son of Thomas Caraway of Greenbriar County, 
Virginia. He was born in 1788, and came to Vermilion County in 1829. He 
had been married to Elizabeth McCorkle of the same county a few years pre- 


vious to his coming west. They located not far from Butler's Point and estab- 
lished a family, the descendents of whom have been prominent in affairs of the 
county since that time. Mr. Caraway lived in the county nine years and died 
in 1838. His widow afterward married Anson Butler, and lived until 1848. 


Latham Folger entered land in the Harrison Purchase, and was a tanner, 
a shoemaker and a manufacturer of horse collars. He ran a tannery, a shoe 
shop and a horse-collar shop in El wood from 1829 until 1845, when he settled 
on his land in the southern part of Elwood township, where he carried on 
farming extensively. He died early in the year of 1852, but his wife lived nearly 
thirty years more. 

Latham Folger lived in Nantucket Island in his young days. He was a 
whaler, and was taken prisoner while whaling during the war with Great 
Britain, and because he refused to fight, was left on a small rocky island to die, 
but he was fortunate in having an Americn vessel come long and rescue him 
before he starved to death. 


William Cunningham was born in Pennsylvania about 1778, and shortly 
after his marriage to Mary Humes came west and settled in Kentucky, coming 
thence to Vermilion County in 1829. They settled on the prairie in Newell 
township at what was afterwards called Cunningham Grove. The family trav- 
eled in a prairie schooner drawn by oxen, and much time was consumed in com- 
ing from Kentucky, the roads being none of the best. Mr. Cunningham settled 
on section n and there built him a house after the fashion of the day. 

Mr. Cunningham was married twice and was the father of twelve children. 
Chicago was the trading point where Mr. Cunningham exchanged groceries for 
farm produce hauled there in wagons drawn by oxen. 

Mr. Cunningham died at his home in Newell township May n, 1852. 


William Current came to Vermilion County in 1829 with his brother and 
sister, settling in Newell township. He was a blacksmith and wagon-maker by 
trade and after he came west sold some of the wagons he had made to people in 

Chicago was the market where he sold his eggs, butter and other farm pro- 
duce. Mr. Current was a native of Virginia, whence he came west. He lived in 
Newell township until his death in 1851. He was the father of fourteen chil- 
dren. His wife, Mary (Bastwin) Current survived her husband by more than 
thirty years. 


James and Elizabeth (Smith) Elliott lived on a farm in Ohio until 1829 
when they came to Vermilion County, Illinois, where Mr. Elliott bought land in 
Vance township. Mr. Elliott lived in this section all his life, a good citizen. He 







was three times married, having a family of seven children. Of all these chil- 
dren but two lived to maturity and they both lived in Vermilion County. 

The oldest son of Mr. Elliott Milton, who came to this county with his 
parents was a farmer all his life. He married Miss Elizabeth Smoot, who lived 
near Fairmount and they were the parents of six children. Mr. Milton Elliott 
died in 1884 and Mr. Elliott died in 1895. 


John D. C. Cline came from Kentucky in 1829 and settled in Blount town- 
ship, where the name has been a familiar one ever since. The old homestead 
was on section 26. Mr. Cline was a potter and frequently made trips as far 
as Wisconsin to sell his goods. His son, Spencer Cline continued the clearing 
of the farm and lived in the house which his father built. 

Spencer Cline died March 27, 1893. He was a raiser of small fruit. 


John Johns was born in Shelby County, Kentucky, May 25, 1805. While 
he was quite young his father moved to Owen County, Indiana. Most of his 
early life was spent flatboating down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. 

He was married to Miss Mary Humphrey at the residence of Uncle Reuben 
Partlow, Owen County, Indiana, in 1826. He went to Kentucky to live with his 
wife's father, John Humphrey, until 1829, when he came to this county and 
made his home in Blount township in the Copeland neighborhood. His brothers- 
in-law, Benjamin Stewart and John Mills, with his father-in-law, Mr. Humph- 
rey, came here a few years later. John Johns came in a wagon from Ken- 
tucky, bringing provisions enough to last one year until he could raise a crop. 
Mr. Johns remained in Blount township until 1852, when he removed to Dan- 
ville. After coming to Danville he engaged in the lime and plaster trade for 
many years. He had lived a retired life for some years at the time of his death 
in 1886, at the age of 81 years. He died at the home of his son-in-law, Charles 
Hacker, after a short and painful illness. He was known to the people as Father 
Johns, and his quiet demeanor made every one fond of him. He was like wheat 
ripe for the sickle. He had been a church member for sixty years, and the first 
religious services ever held in Blount township were held at his house. 

After he removed to Danville he united with the North Street church and 
was buried from that church, his interment being in Springhill cemetery. An 
old friend of his wrote at the time that he "was sound in judgment and very de- 
cided in his principles, and so far as he knew the right nothing could cause him 
to swerve from the right." 


John Cox came to Vermilion County in 1829 and settled on the Middle Fork 
six miles west of Danville. He was a carpenter and also owned a fine farm, 
which he entered and himself improved. John Cox was in the Black Hawk war. 
Both he and his wife belonged to the Baptist church. Mr. Cox died May 23, 


1846, and his wife on September 2, 1851. They were the parents of six chil- 
dren. Thomas, who was a baby but six week old when his parents came to 
Illinois, grew up to a life of success and usefulness. He had much land and 
was ordained a minister in the Baptist church in 1886, after which time he had 
either a regular charge or a circuit. 


Adam Pate was born in Virginia, married Elizabeth Owens, of Kentucky, 
and began their wedded life in Dearborn County, Indiana. In 1829 they came to 
Vermilion County, and located in Catlin township, where they lived all their 
remaining days. They experienced all the pleasures and the trials of pioneer 
days. Mr. Pate died February 24, 1867, and Mrs. Pate died in 1864. 


Ephriam Acree came to Vermilion County directly from Alabama in 1829. 
He made a settlement in Catlin township. He bought 130 acres of raw land 
upon which he built the house that all had at that time and fenced, and broke six 
acres the first season. The next year he managed to put thirty more acres under 
cultivation. The corn raised could not bring more than six and a fourth cents 
per bushel and the mills were so far away that it was hard to get it ground so 
as to use it for food for the family. Joel Acree, his son, often took a sack of 
corn on horseback ten and sometimes fifteen miles to get it ground. Mr. Acree 
died in 1835 and was buried in the Butler burying ground. Joel Acree lived 
with his mother until 1848, when he was married to Elvessa Yount, daughter 
of one of the old settlers. 

After his marriage Mr. Joel Acree purchased the interest of his brothers 
and sisters in the home place and as the younger children grew up he purchased 
theirs until it all was his. He bought other land from time to time until he was 
a great land owner in the county, beside having valuable land in Missouri. 
Ephriam Acree was the father of eleven children, many of whom beside Joel 
were settled comfortably in Vermilion County. Joel Acree and Elvessa (Yount) 
Acree, his wife, were the parents of but two children who grew to maturity. 
Of these two daughters, the eldest became the wife of Thomas A. Taylor. 


Dr. Hey wood came to Vermilion County in 1829, and settled in Georgetown 
township, becoming the first regular physician of that village. At that time 
there were but three other physicians in the county. These were Dr. Holmes. Dr. 
Wood and Dr. Smith. After ten years of practice Dr. Heywood moved on his 
farm in Carroll township, where he remained until 1871, when he moved to 
Indianola. He married Miss Sarah Barnett, in 1831. She was the daughter 
of George Barnett. Dr. Heywood was a politician as well as a physician. He 


represented his county in the legislature in 1855. He was very familiar with 
Mr. Lincoln. 


John W. Vance came to Vermilion County from Ohio in about 1823 or 1824. 
He was born in 1782 and died at the home of his son in 1857. He leased the 
Salt Works and developed them, running them to their greatest capacity, as long 
as there was any profit in them. Mr. Vance was very prominent in the affairs 
of the county at an early day. He represented the county in the legislature for 
two terms. Mr. Vance married Miss Deziah Rathburn who was the daughter 
of Mrs. Lura Guymon by a former marriage. The children of Mr. and Mrs. 
Vance were Horace W. Vance, and J. Col. Vance, his sons, also Helen, who 
became the wife of J. Wilson; Lura G., who became the wife of S. R. Tilton; 
and Josephine L., wife of L. Steele; with Bridget, Marion, Mariah, and Joseph, 
the last three of whom died young. While Mr. Vance was working the salt 
springs, the land upon which the works were located was selected for the county 
seat, but he refused to surrender his lease and the location was changed, thereby 
giving Danville a chance to secure it. Had it not been for his position at that 
time, the county seat might have been permanently placed at that place and 
the history of the county would have been radically different. 


Andrew Davidson came to Vermilion County in 1828 after their family 
were pretty well grown, and settled near Myersville. They brought seven chil- 
dren, two of whom were married. Very soon afterward another was followed 
by Joseph Kerr who married her. Andrew Davidson' saw his children all 
nicely settled before he died in 1841. His children were all girls excepting two 
sons. One of these sons remained in Myersville and the other came to Dan- 
ville. One of Mr. Davidson's daughters became the wife of Joseph Gundy, 
before they left Ohio and came to Vermilion County. 


Samuel Adams was a pioneer of that part of Vermilion County now known 
as Newell township. He came in the year 1825, and with his wife settled 
among the Indians, who outnumbered the white people for some time ten to 
one. There were three families who came together from Harrison County, 
Kentucky, at this time all coming in two horse wagons, and it took three or 
four weeks to make the trip. The party camped along the roadside as they 
were coming. The party consisted of Samuel Adams, John Adams his cousin, 
and Joseph Martin a brother-in-law of Samuel Adams' father. Samuel Adams 
had his wife and two children with him on this trip. They all took up their 
abode on the state boundary line and soon Mr. Adams had a log cabin erected 
with a stick and clay chimney. This stood on section 22 Xewell township, the 
old family homestead. He entered eighty acres of land from the government 
for which he paid one hundred dollars. This property has always been in the 


hands of the family since. Samuel Adams was a noted dealer in hogs which he 
raised for the home market. His earliest trading points were Eugene and 
Perrysville on the Wabash River, and later he hauled produce to Chicago. It 
took about eighteen days for the trip. It was necessary to ford the rivers, 
for no bridges had been built, and to camp out along the road at night. Home- 
made clothing was used and the second wife of Mr. Adams was noted for her 
skill in weaving. She made blankets and coverlets for the beds and material 
for the household use. Mr. Adams' wife who came from Kentucky with him 
died in the 'forties and he married Sarah Rayle as his second wife. She was a 
widow with five children. She was the daughter of Luke Kayles who was an 
early pioneer of Vermilion County, and was the first owner of land on the 
North Fork, of the Big Vermilion River. Samuel Adams died at the age of 
eighty-one years in the year 1881, and his second wife, one year later at the age 
of seventy-four. He was the father of thirteen children by his first wife. 

This list of the makers of Vermilion County is of necessity limited. There 
are other citizens of this decade who have been overlooked without doubt. The 
omission of any name of men who came to this section previous to 1830 is not 
intentional and comes only because of lack of information regarding such. True 
this period covering the time of the coming of the makers of Vermilion County 
from 1819 to 1829 includes but three years of the actual existence of Vermilion 
County as an organization, but it is the first decade of the life of the white man 
in the section of country now known as Vermilion County and as such, gives 
the story of the first settlers of the territory. 

CHAPTER XVI. *:', : 








This section of the country was not settled until after a binding treaty was 
made with the Indians and there was but little annoyance from them in con- 
sequence. The Miamis and Piankeshaws had given place to the Kickapoos and 
Pottowatomies before coming of the white man. When the settlements were 
begun the white man came in numbers to overpower the red man were he in- 
clined to be hostile, and he transferred his hunting grounds to the north and 
northwest. Northern Illinois and Wisconsin were the attractions of the Indian in 
the twenties and early thirties. The Winnebagoes had possession of the coun- 
try between Green Bay and the Mississippi river. This tribe was greatly and 
justly angered by the indignities perpetrated by some white men upon them. 
These white men were ascending the Mississippi river in the early summer of 
1827, in charge of two keel-boats. They landed at a Winnebago camp not 
far above Prairie du Chien. After making the Indians all drunk and them- 
selves, probably, as well, they captured some six or seven squaws. These the 
men took with them to Fort Snelling. Returning, they were met by several hun- 
dred Winnebago "braves" who had become sober and planned an attack to 
avenge the capture of their squaws. A narrow pass in the river drove the boats 
to the shore and the white men were at the mercy of the redmen. In the 
encounter which ensued the savages killed several of the white men and wounded 
many more before they could be repulsed. The squaws escaped. This was the 
beginning, and, in reality, the end of what appeared to be a threatened Indian 
war. The Pottowatomies about Chicago sympathized with the Winnebagoes 
and tfiere was deep concern felt by those about Fort Dearborn lest their danger 
was imminent. The federal government ordered out the National troops under 
General Atkinson, and Governor Edwards called out the state militia with orders 
to march to Galena. So alarmed did the people about Fort Dearborn become, 



that they sent Colonel Gurdon Hubbard to Vermilion County for troops. This 
mad ride of Colonel Hubbard has passed into history as one of the most remark- 
able on record. Although subsequent conditions did not prove as important in 
the one as in the other, yet this ride of itself, was as courageous and might have 
had as far reaching results as the one of Paul Revere, which has been the in- 
spiration of story and song. Colonel Hubbard knew the country through which 
he was going to pass very well. He had traveled the way many times as he 
visited his trading posts from Fort Dearborn to the Little Vermilion. Leaving 
Chicago in the afternoon he reached his trading post on the Iroquois, despite 
the rain in the night. Pushing on, for his errand would not permit him to 
tarry anywhere, he reached Sugar creek long before morning. He found this 
stream swollen beyond its banks, and was obliged to make his first stop, waiting 
until daylight here. His Indian pony was almost exhausted when he reached 
Spencer's, two miles south of Danville, that same day. Runners were dispatched 
to the settlements on the Little Vermilion to enlist the help for which he had 
made that desperate ride. In the seventh volume of the Wisconsin Historical 
Collections, Gurdon Hubbard makes statements which give accurate and lucid 
account of affairs at this time. Quoting directly, Mr. Hubbard says : 

"The first intelligence we had of the massacre on the upper Mississippi river, 
in 1827, here at Fort Dearborn, was brought by General Cass, who, at the time, 
was at Green Bay for the purpose of holding a treaty. The moment the Gen- 
eral received the news of the hostile proceedings of the Winnebagoes. he 
started in a birchbark canoe, descended the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers to 
Jefferson Barracks, where he prevailed on the commanding officer to take the 
responsibility of chartering a steamer and sending troops up the Mississippi. 
The expedition left the morning after General Cass arrived there, he 
accompanying the party as far as the mouth of the Illinois river, which he 
ascended, and came here to Chicago in his light canoe. 

"I was taking breakfast with Mr. John Kinzie, when we heard the Canadian 
boat-song. Mr. Kinzie remarked that the leader's voice was like Forsyth's, sec- 
retary to General Cass. We all rushed to the piazza; the canoe propelled by 
thirteen voyageurs was coming rapidly down the river in full view a beautiful 
sight. We hastened to the bank, receiving General Cass and Forsyth, the latter 
a nephew of Mr. Kinzie. While they were eating their breakfast they gave us 
full particulars of what had transpired. Gen. Cass remained perhaps two hours 
and left, coasting Lake Michigan. Big Foot's village was at what is now Geneva 
Lake, then known as Big Foot's Lake. An expedition was contemplated by 
Big Foot's band to capture Fort Dearborn, and to this end this chief had been 
at the fort circulating the war wampum among the Pottowatomies while they 
were here receiving their annuities. But all to no purpose. It was not accepted 
by the chiefs and braves of the Pottowatomies. This effort to get aid from the 
Pottowatomies was kept so secret that not a white man knew a thing about it. 
The Indians had left the foot before General Cass came, but Big Foot's 
band lingered. During this time the fort, then evacuated, was struck by light- 
ning. The barracks on the east side, the storehouse at the south gate, and part 
of the guard house at the south gate, burned down. 


"It was at the time blowing and raining furiously. I was sleeping with 
Robert Kinzie, United States postmaster, in his father's house. We put on our 
clothes, ran to the river, and found our canoe filled with water ; we could make 
no headway with it. We then swam the river and aided in extinguishing the 
fire. We received no aid from the Indians of Big Foot's band. We thought it 
strange at the time and they decamped in the morning. The news by General 
Cass made us suspicious of Big Foot. That same day we sent Shaubanee and 
Billy Caldwell to Big Foot's village as spies, to ascertain what the Indians' in- 
tentions were. Caldwell secreted himself in the woods, sending Shaubanee into 
the camp. He was immediately seized, but by his presence of mind and shrewd- 
ness, was liberated. 

"He was escorted by Big Foot Indians for half a day, Shaubanee giving a 
signal as they passed near where Caldwell was, so that he and Caldwell did not 
return together, Caldwell reaching here about two hours later. Shaubanee re- 
ported that he was questioned as to the 'quantity of guns and ammunition the 
traders had here, which led him to think an attack was contemplated. Big Foot 
admitted he had joined the Winnebagoes to drive the whites from the country, 
urging Shaubanee to act with him, who replied that he would go home, call a 
council of his braves, and send him an answer. There were only about thirty 
whites here at Chicago, able to bear arms at that time. A council was called, 
which resulted in a resolution to send two or three to the Wabash for aid. 
Three volunteers were called for this purpose, but no one seemed willing to go. 
I volunteered to go alone. Mrs. Helm who was here at the massacre of 1812, 
but fifteen years ago, objected on the ground that I was the only one who had 
sufficient influence to command the voyageurs, in case of attack, but it was finally 
decided that I should go. I started about four o'clock P. M. and reached within 
two miles of Danville, at my destination, the next afternoon one hundred and 
twenty miles. Runners were immediately dispatched through the settlements and 
the second day, one hundred mounted volunteers reported and we left for Chi- 
cago, reaching there the seventh day after my leaving the fort. These volun- 
teers remained, I think, about twenty-five days, when we received the news that 
the troops from Jefferson Barracks had reached the upper Mississippi. The 
Winnebagoes, surprised at their arrival, got together and concluded a peace with 
the commanding officer." 

After reading this account given by Hubbard himself, it is well to turn to 
another account as given by a citizen of Vermilion Count}' of the part this sec- 
tion took in this war. There is a narrative given by Hezekiah Cunningham in 
the Beckwith history, which graphically portrays the conditions of this expedi- 
tion and gives a vivid picture of the times and occasion so that it is well to 
reproduce it here. Mr. Cunningham was one of the men who responded to the 
call of Hubbard and knew all about the matter. He says : 

"In the night time, about the fifteenth of July, 1827, I was awakened by my 
brother-in-law, Alexander McDonald, telling me that Mr. Hubbard had just 
come in from Chicago, with the word that the Indians were about to massacre 
the people there, and that men were wanted for their protection at once. The 
inhabitants of the county capable of bearing arms had been enrolled under the 
militia law of the state, and organized as 'The Vermilion County Battalion' in 


which I held a commission as Captain. I dressed myself and started forthwith 
to notify all the men belonging to my company to meet at Butler's Point, the 
place where the county business was then conducted, and where the militia met 
to muster. The captains of the other companies were notified, the same as my- 
self, and they warned out their respective companies the same as I did mine. I 
rode the remainder of the night at this work, up and down the Little Vermilion. 
At noon the next day the battalion was at Butler's Point. Most of the men 
lived on the Little Vermilion river, and had to ride or walk six to twelve miles 
to the place of rendezvous. Volunteers were called for, and in a little time fifty 
men, the required number, were raised. Those who agreed to go, then held 
an election of officers for the campaign, choosing Achilles Morgan, Captain ; 
Major Bayles, First Lieutenant, and Colonel Isaac 'Moore, as Second Lieu- 
tenant. The names of the private men as near as I can remember them are as 
follows: George M. Beckwith, John Beasly, myself (Hezekiah Cunningham), 
Julian Ellis, Sherman Cox, James Dixon, Asa Elliott, Francis Foley, William 
Foley, a Mr. Hammers, Jacob Heater, a Mr. Davis, Erin Morgan, Isaac Goen, 
Jonathan Phelps, Joshua Parish, William Reed, John Myers (Little Vermilion 
John), John S. Saulsbury, a Mr. Kirkman, Anthony Swisher, George Swisher, 
Joseph Price, George Weir, John Vaughn, Newton Wright and Abel Williams. 
Many of these men were without horse and the neighbors who had horses and 
did not go, loaned their animals to those who did. Still there were five men who 
started afoot, as there were not horses for them. We disbanded after we were 
mustered in and went home to cook five days rations, and were ordered to 
be at Danville the next day. The men all had a pint of whisky thinking it es- 
sential to mix a little of it with the slough water we were to drink on our route. 
Abel Williams was smart enough, however, to take some ground coffee and a 
tin cup along, using no stimulants whatever. He had warm drinks on his way 
up to Chicago and on our way back, all of us, had the same. We arrived at the 
Vermilion river on about noon on Sunday, the day after assembling at Butler's 
Point. The river was up running bank full, about a hundred yards wide, with 
a strong current. Our men and saddles were taken over in a canoe. We un- 
dertook to swim our horses, and as they were driven into the water the current 
would strike them and they would swim in a circle, and return to the shore a 
few rods below. Mr. Hubbard, provoked at this delay, threw off his coat and 
said : 'Give me old Charley,' meaning a large, steady going horse owned by 
James Butler and loaned to Jacob Heater. Mr. Hubbard mounting this horse, 
bodily dashed into the stream, and the other horses were quickly crowded after 
him. The water was so swift that old Charley became unmanageable, when 
Mr. Hubbard dismounted on the upper side, and seized the horse by the mane 
near the animal's head and swimming with his left arm, guided the horse in the 
direction of the opposite shore. We were afraid he would be washed under 
the horse, or be struck by his feet and be drowned; but he got over without 
damage, except the wetting of his broadcloth pants and moccasins. These he had 
to dry on his person as we went on our way. I will here say that a better man 
than Mr. Hubbard could not have been sent to our people. He was well known 
to all the settlers. His generosity, his quiet and determined courage, and his 


integrity were so well known and appreciated that he had the confidence and 
good will of everybody, and was a well recognized leader among us pioneers. 

"At that time there were no persons living on the north bank of the Vermilion 
river, near Danville, except Robert Trickle and George Weir, up near the pres- 
ent (1879) woolen factory, and William Reed and Dan Beckwith; the latter 
had a little log cabin on the bluff of the Vermilion near the present highway 
bridge or rather on the edge of the hill east of the highway some rods. Here 
he kept store in addition to his official duties of constable and county surveyor. 
The store contained a small assortment of such articles as were suitable for bar- 
ter with the Indians who were the principal customers. We called it the 
'Saddle-bag' store because the supplies were brought us from Terre Haute in 
saddle-bags, that indispensable accompaniment of every rider in those days, be- 
fore highways were provided for the use of vehicles. Mr. Reed had been elected 
sheriff the previous March, receiving fifty-seven out of the eighty votes cast 
at the election and which represented about all the voting population of the 
country at that time. Both Reed and Dan wanted to go with us, and after quite 
a warm controversy between them, as it was impossible for both to leave, it was 
agreed that Reed should go and that Beckwith would look after the affairs of 
both while he was gone. Amos Williams was building his house in Danville 
at that time, the sale of lots having taken place the previous April. 

"Crossing the North Fork at Denmark, three miles north of Danville, we 
passed the cabin of Seymour Treat. He was building a mill at that place, and his 
house was the last one in which a family was living until we reached Hubbard's 
trading post on the north bank of the Iroquois river, near which has since been 
known as the town of 'Buncombe,' and from this trading post there was no 
habitation, Indian wigwams excepted, on the line of our march until we reached 
Fort Dearborn. It was a wilderness of prairie all the way except a little tim- 
ber we passed through near Sugar creek and at the Iroquois. Late in the same 
afternoon that we passed Treat's house, we halted at the last crossing of the 
North Fork at Bicknell's Point, a little north of the present town of Rossville. 
Here three of the foot men turned back as the conditions of the streams made 
it impossible for them to continue longer with us. Two men who had horses 
also left us. After a hasty lunch we struck out across the eighteen mile prairie, 
the men stringing out on the trail, Indian file, reaching Sugar creek late in the 
night, where we went into camp on the south bank, near the present town of 
Milford. The next day before noon, we arrived at Hubbard's Trading House, 
which was on the north bank of the Iroquois, about a quarter of a mile from the 
river. A lot of Indians, some of them half naked, were laying and lounging 
around on the river's bank and trading-house ; and when it was proposed to 
swim our horses over in advance of passing the men in boats the men objected, 
fearing the Indians would take our horses, or stampede them, or do us some 
other mischief. Mr. Hubbard assured us these savages were friendly, and we 
afterwards learned that they were Pottowatomies, known as 'Hubbard Band' 
from the fact that he had long traded with, and had an influence over them. 
It is proper to state here that we were deficient in arms. We gathered up squir- 
rel rifles, flint locks, old muskets or anything like a gun, that we may have had 
about our houses. Some of us had no fire-arms at all. I, myself, was among 


this number. Mr. Hubbard supplied those of us who had inefficient weapons, 
or those of us who were without them. He also gave us flour and salt pork. 
He had lately brought up the Iroquois river, a supply of these articles. We 
remained at Hubbard's trading house the remainder of the day, cooking rations 
and supplying our necessities. The next morning we again moved forward, 
swimming Beaver creek and crossing Kankakee river at the rapids, just at the 
head of the island near Momence ; pushing along we passed Yellowhead's vil- 
lage. The old chief, with a few old men and squaws and papooses, were at 
home; the young men were off on a hunt. Remaining here a little time, we 
again set out, and going about five miles, we encamped at the point of the tim- 
ber on Yellow Head's creek. The next morning we again set out crossing a 
branch of the Calumet to the west of the Blue Island. All the way from Dan- 
ville we had followed an Indian trail, since known as Hubbard's Trace. There 
was no signs of roads, the prairies and the whole country was crossed and re- 
crossed by Indian trails, and we never could have got through but for the 
knowledge Mr. Hubbard had of the country. It had been raining for some days 
before we left home, and it rained almost every day on the route. The streams 
and sloughs were full of water. We swam the former and traveled through the 
latter, some times almost by the hour. Many of the ponds were so deep that 
our men dipped up the water to drink as they sat in their saddles. 

"Colonel Hubbard, fared better than the rest of us that is, he did not get 
his legs wet as often, for he rode a very tall, iron-gray stallion,, that Peleg 
Spencer, Sr., living two miles south of Danville, loaned him. The little In- 
dian pony Hubbard rode in from the Iroquois, to Spencers, was so used up, as 
to be unfit for the return journey. 

"We reached Chicago about four o'clock on the morning of the fourth day 
in the midst of the most severe rain storm I ever experienced, accompanied by- 
thunder and vicious lightning. The rain we did not mind ; we were without 
tents and were used to wetting. The water we took within us hurt us more 
than that which fell upon us, as drinking it made many of us sick. The people 
of Chicago were very glad to see us. They had been expecting an attack every 
hour since Colonel Hubbard had left them, and as we approached they did not 
know whether we were enemies or friends, and when they learned that we were 
friends, they gave us a shout of welcome. They had organized a company of 
thirty or fifty men, composed principally of Canadian half-breeds, interspersed 
with a few Americans, all under command of Captain Beaubien. The Ameri- 
cans, seeing we were a better-looking crowd, wanted to leave their associates 
and join our company. This feeling caused quite a row, and the officers finally 
restored harmony, and the discontented men went back to their old command. 
The town of Chicago was composed at this time, of six or seven American 
families, a number of half-breeds, and a lot of idle, vagabond Indians loitering 
about. I made the acquaintance of Robert and James Kinzie, and their father, 
John Kinzie. We kept guard day and night, for some eight or ten days, when 
a runner came in I think from Green Bay bringing word that General Cass 
had concluded a treaty with the Winnebagoes, and we might now disband and 
go home. The citizens were overjoyed at the news and in their gladness they 
turned out one barrel of gin, one barrel of brandy and one barrel of whisky, 


knocking the heads of the barrels in. Everybody was invited to take a free 
drink, and, to tell the truth, everybody did drink. 

"The ladies of Fort Dearborn treated us especially well. I say this without 
disparaging the conduct of the men to us. The ladies gave us all manner of 
good things to eat ; they loaded us with provisions and gave us all those deli- 
cate attentions that the kindness of a woman's heart would suggest. Some of 
them, the ladies whom, I understand, were recently from New York, dis- 
tributed tracts and other reading matter among our company, and interested 
themselves zealously in our spiritual, as well as our temporal welfare. We 
started on our return, camping out of nights and reaching home on the third 
day. The only good water we got, going out or coming back, was at a re- 
markable spring bursting out of the top of a little mound in the midst of a 
slough a few miles south of the Kankakee. I shall never forget this spring; it 
was a curiosity, found in the situation I have described. 

"In conclusion, let me say, that, under the bounty act of 1852, I received a 
warrant for eighty acres of land for my service in the campaign above nar- 

The other important Indian war affected Vermilion County no more di- 
rectly. It was what is known in history as the Black Hawk war, and bears date 
of 1832, five years after that of the Winnebago war. The vast extent of ter- 
ritory in the northern part of Illinois, was owned by the Saux and Fox In- 
dians up to the time of the treaty of 1830. A treaty was made with them as 
early as 1804, by which they, for $2,000, and an annuity of $1,000, ceded to the 
United States large tracts of land on the Mississippi and Illinois river. At this 
time these Indians were mostly west of the Mississippi, 140 leagues above St. 
Louis, and they numbered 1,200. In the war of 1812, three hundred warriors 
joined the British at Maiden, and took part in the attack on Sandusky. This 
was the time, it must be remembered, of the massacre at Fort Dearborn, and 
the subsequent raids against the Indians by the Illinois Rangers. Keokuk, one 
of their chiefs, with a part of the tribe, remained friendly, then and afterward. 
In 1815 they made a treaty of peace but one band of Saux (or Sacs, as they 
were frequently called), long continued to be called the British Band. 

By the terms of the treaty of 1824 and that of 1830 which virtually ratified 
the former, the Indians agreed to go across the Mississippi and open up the land 
on the east side to the white man. This treaty was recognized by the most 
of the Indians and was satisfactory to the great chief, Keokuk, but was not 
considered binding by the equally as great chief, Black Hawk. He claimed that 
neither himself nor any one representing his band was present when either 
treaty was made. An agreement was at last effected between the Indian and the 
white man that provided for a joint ownership of the land, but which, by the 
nature of conditions, could not stand. Black Hawk and his band grew more 
and more annoying the white settlers retaliated by tearing down fences and 
letting their cattle in to destroy the corn the squaws had planted. The troops, 
both State and National, were sent into that section and drove Black Hawk's 
band across the Mississippi. This was in 1831. Black Hawk had been an ally 
of the British and his band was yet called the British Band and the Americans 
were suspicious of him, so that when he, the following year, came with his 


entire band, including the squaws and papooses, and cooking utensils, with the 
avowed intention that, if his squaws were not allowed to plant corn on their 
old fields he would accept the invitation of the Winnebagoes and plant corn 
near some of their villages, his motives in coming were seriously questioned. 
His coming caused great alarm and Governor Reynolds called out the militia 
and forced the position, on the part of Black Hawk, to make war upon the 
whites. A council with Black Hawk would, without doubt, have resulted in a 
submission without bloodshed. At least this seems to be the correct reading 
of history. The details of the Black Hawk war are out of place here other 
than to the extent that Vermilion County was affected by them. 

The first knowledge the people had of this war was at the Sunday ser- 
vices being conducted by Rev. Kingsbury. These services were in the second 
story of a store building. The terrible fear of being captured by the Indians 
had sent the scattered inhabitants of the Fox River counryt from their homes 
to the southward, always with the cry "The Indians !" "The Indians !" Three of 
these terrified white men had made their way to Danville, and on that quiet 
bright Lord's Day, all breathless with fear and fatigue, had alarmed the town 
by rushing into service with this cry of terror and the appaling stories they 
had to tell. Rumors of distress grew, and sympathy increased until a call for 
volunteers to go to the relief of the white men in peril resulted in the enlist- 
ment, in less than two hours, of thirty-one men ready to march out to save the 
settlers. Provision was hasily prepared, firearms were secured, an election of 
officers resulted in the choice of Dan Beckwith for Captain, and by three o'clock 
in the afternoon this company was on the way to Joliet. They reached Beck- 
nell's crossing of the North Fork by nightfall, where they went into camp. 
The next morning they went out on the great prairie and pushed between the 
path of the families coming south and what they supposed were the pursuing 
Indians. However, they could not find any Indians in pursuit ; in fact, they 
only found some friendly Pottowatomies who were known to the officers of the 
company. A story of possible danger which was not met by this company was a 
tale current for some time afterward, but in reality, there was no incident re- 
corded, either going or coming to excite their alarm. The one incident to which 
reference is made, was this one evening they were near the "twelve mile 
grove" and camped for the night. Dr. Fithian and George Beckwith were sent 
out to reconnoitre this grove as spies. As they approached this grove their 
horses were seized with an unaccountable fright and their riders lost control of 
them. As the dusk was settling down, the men decided it would hardly be safe 
for them to proceed, so they went to camp, learning later that Black Hawk's 
men were secreted in the grove. While these volunteers were away, Colonel 
Isaac J. Moores had been officially notified by Governor Reynolds to have his 
regiment included in the Vermilion County militia in readiness in case their 
services were needed. Immediately on the alarm, the volunteers got in readi- 
ness, and Colonel Hubbard furnished several four-horse wagons, loaded with 
provision, for their sustenance. This force consisted of four hundred mounted 
men. Every part of the county was represented by its best citizens. Colonel 
Moores was in command with John Murphy, acting as his aid. The next 
morning as they reached the prairie they met the company which had gone to 


the relief of the settlers returning. The most of them went back to the seat 
of war with Colonel Moores' regiment and the others went on to Danville to 
spend a few days with families and to return a little later. Captain Morgan 
L. Payne and his company were sent some thirty miles up the Du Page river 
from Joliet with instructions to build a block-house and protect the property 
which had been abandoned in their flight. Colonel Moores also commenced a 
fortification at Joliet when his command was ordered to Ottawa, the head- 
quarters of General Atkinson, and his command discharged, and, with the ex- 
ception of Captain Payne's company, allowed to immediately return home. 

Captain Payne built a block-house and a fort not far from Naperville. The 
inhabitants of Naperville had all fled in great haste. After the fort was com- 
pleted some seventy women and children who had escaped to Chicago when the 
Indians first made their attack were brought back here for safety from the 
cholera when it broke out. 

It was not long after the discharge of Colonel Moores' regiment that Cap- 
tain Payne's command was also relieved and they returned home. There was 
but one life lost in this campaign. The one man killed was William Brown. He 
went to Butterfield's pasture to get some clapboards which had been left there 
before the Indian disturbances and was killed by the enemy in ambush. Brown, 
a young fellow himself, was accompanied by a lad of about fifteen who escaped 
injury, and returned to their camp near Napersville. The Indians took the 
horses from the wagon and led them away, while they run the wagon against 
the tree and destroyed it. 
















COMERS OF 1839. 

The claim that "biography is the only true history" holds good at least in 
the telling of the story of a new country. Up to 1830 the history of Vermilion 
County is recorded in the biographies of the men and women who came into the 
wilderness to make new homes. Events in these years were little less than direct 
expressions of individual tastes and desires. Men controlled events in a greater 
degree than they could after there were a larger number together with more 
diversified interests and ideas of life. Each man was more a factor in the 
events than was the case when a larger number made a community of interests 
a necessity. So it is that by the time of the "thirties," the individual man was 
recording the history of the county in a series of events which more or less de- 
termined his own history more than he was making it as a story of single lives. 
A man could come to this section in the twenties and develop a farm here and 
there to his credit, tracing the way to some other rude cabin when he felt the 
need of companionship ; but as others came and demanded rights to comfortable 



homes he must divert his efforts to that which would add to the comfort of the 
many ; he must divide his space, and where the old trace had sufficed his needs, 
a road must be laid out, and one notes many changes marking events. 
The county was growing and new conditions were arising. The county 
seat had been little more than a name for two or three years. Court had been 
little better housed than before the location of the county seat had been made 
at Danville. The first court was held at Butler's Point, and so was the second 
term. The first was at the home of James Butler and the second at the home 
of Asa Elliott. The next term of court was held at the home of Amos Will- 
iams, in Danville. But after this there was a temporary building that stood 
on the west side of the public square south of Main street for a court house. 
This was the log house built by Mr. Reed, which the county bought with an idea 
of fitting it up for public use. This was the first court house. It did not 
stand on the corner of the plaza where the bank is now, but on the lot just west 
of this,, where the Woodbury stores have been for more than a half century. 
This building was one story high with a space for a loft above, was about six- 
teen feet square, and made out of heavy logs, hewn inside and out. The county 
sold this property, lot and all, to Hezekiah Cunningham, who agreed to provide 
them with a place to hold court, etc., in the upper story of the large frame build- 
ing he and Murphy were erecting on the southwest corner of the square. This 
building was on the lot now used by the Illinois Traction system. The build- 
ing which the county first used for a court house, the first court house of Ver- 
milion County, was removed after Mr. Cunningham bought it to a lot on the 
corner of North and Hazel streets, where, in after years, it was weather- 
boarded and formed the main building to which Mr. Farmer put wings. It re- 
mained here until June, 1876, when it burned. At the December term of court, 1830, 
the county board ordered notice to be given for the reception of plans and bids 
for a permanent court house. Nothing, however, was done until the following 
December, when notice was again given declaring that at the next term of court 
bids would be received. A new departure was made in the carding mill built 
by William Millikan in 1820. It was a primitive affair run by treadmill. But 
as it was the first carding mill in the county, it was patronized by many. Its 
patrons were always kept waiting until the oxen which, run in the bush, could 
be found. 

This mill was located within Georgetown township, and to those living north 
in the other part of the county, it was a great undertaking to attempt to get 
any carding done. It was in the same year that the first floor other than one 
made of puncheons, was put into Dr. Fithian's house. This house was the 
wonder of all, it being the first "planed floor" ever known in the county. The 
carpenter was prevailed upon to let some of the leaders among the young people 
have a dance in the new house before he turned it over to Dr. Fithian. This 
was fortunate, as the stern man would not have chosen such a mad frolic as a 
house warming, and it would have been too bad to have missed such a floor for 
dancing. The roads of the county had been a concern from the time of its or- 
ganization. The destination of the most of these roads was the salt works, 
and every road that did not go directly to this destination was intercepted at 
some point where it would turn in that direction. 


An important road was opened from the Fort Clark road in 1830. This was 
opened from the Fort Clark road, where it crosses the west line of section 25, 
T. 20 west R. nW. 

There were many newcomers to Vermilion County in 1830. Among them 
are numbered Dennis Olehy. He was born and reared in Portsmouth, Ohio. 
He married and settled there. In 1830 he determined to go west and journeyed 
with a team to Vermilion County, Illinois. At that time much of the land was 
yet in the hands of the government. Mr. Olehy entered a claim to land, which 
later was within Danville township. When he first came he put up a pole 
shanty for temporary shelter until he could build a log cabin. His wife's 
father, John Glaze, is supposed to have come with him. Dennis Olehy and 
Elizabeth (Glaze), his wife, were the parents of seven children and after her 
death in 1845, he married Sarah Ann Jones and became the father of ten more 

His was an honorable place among the pioneers of the county, and he lived 
to an advanced age. He died March 2, 1877. Robert Price was another one 
who came to Vermilion County in 1830. He was a native of Lexington, Ken- 
tucky, whose parents came from England to Ohio. Robert Price died in 1850. 
He was the father of but four children, only one of whom lived to maturity. 

John Pugh was from Pennsylvania when he came to Vermilion County in 
1830. His ancestors were born and reared in the faith of the Society of Friends 
for many generations back. John Pugh came with his family to Vermilion 
County, Illinois, settling on the Little Vermilion in Carroll township. In 1836 
he changed his residence to Elwood township, where he spent the remainder of 
his days. He died at the old home in 1847 and his wife lived until 1884. 

Nathaniel Langley came from Kentucky to Vermilion County in 1830, com- 
ing in wagons. He located in Danville township, buying seventy acres of timber 
land on section 27. He built a log house and lived therein for three years. 
Then he sold that place and bought over 200 acres on sectionr, 26 and 27, same 
township, where he lived the remainder of his life. 

Dr. William Fithian came to Vermilion County in 1830, locating at Dan- 
ville. The surrounding country was but sparsely settled; the land being yet 
largely owned by the government and for sale at $1.25 per acre. Dr. Fithian 
entered upon a great practice covering a large area that even extended to Chi- 
cago. He entered land to such an extent that he acquired a fortune. Dr. Fithian 
was a politician and served in the legislature as well as holding more local offices. 
Dr. Fithian was married four times and became the father of four children. 

Luke Dillon was a native of Guilford County, N. C, and came to Ohio when 
seventeen years old and began farming. In the fall of 1830 he came to Ver- 
milion County and bought a farm one mile north of Georgetown, when it was a 
wild country. This was a large farm and he built a log house on it which had 
one room and a kitchen added. Luke Dillon was the father of ten children, all 
of whom grew to manhood and womanhood. One of these children was killed 
in the army. 

In 1830 Osborne Hilleary, with his family, emigrated from Ohio to Illinois 
and settled on section 30, Blount township. They made the journey overland 
in a covered wagon or a prairie schooner, as it was called. When they reached 




their destination he entered eighty acres of land from the government and he 
also bought a tract of timber from a settler, all of which he, with the help 
of his boys, cleared. His first home was in a log cabin with a puncheon floor 
and a fireplace along one end. The family raised their own sheep which they 
sheared, and they then spun and wove the wool into cloth from which were 
made the garments of the family. Osborne Hilleary was the father of nine chil- 
dren, all of whom lived to maturity. He and his wife both lived in Blount 
township the remainder of their days. Thomas W. Douglass was born on the 
Penobscot river in Maine and came to Dearborn County, Indiana, settling near 
Rising Sun. He married Delilah Payne, of New York, and they were the 
parents of twelve children, ten of whom reached mature life. On coming to 
Illinois Mr. Douglass drove through the black swamps of Indiana when the 
wheels would sink to the hubs in the mud. Several families came together. 
Mr. Douglass entered 240 acres of land on the section on which the county farm 
is located. 

The Douglass family lived in the double log house for thirty years. This 
was the one he built when he first came here. It had a stick and clay chimney, 
and the fire was lighted with punk gathered in the timber and ignited by means 
of flint and tow. Camp meetings were held where the home-made tallow can- 
dles furnished light and the girls of the household went, carrying their shoes 
with them, until they were near to the place of worship and removing them 
before they started for home. Thomas W. Douglass died in the village of Cat- 
lin in October, 1865. 

John Thompson was born in Erie County, Pennsylvania, in 1797. He was 
a well informed man and taught school some of the time. He came west, and 
in about 1823 he was married in Dearborn County, Indiana, to Esther Payne, 
and in 1830 they came to Vermilion County, settling near Danville where Mr. 
Thompson became the owner of three hundred acres of land, a part of which he 
obtained from the government. His efforts developed this into a valuable farm. 
The first house was a log cabin which they occupied until 1844 when they built 
a two story frame house. John Thompson was a man of more than ordinary 
ability and he took an active part in affairs of the county. He acquired consid- 
erble property. He served at one time as county commissioner. He was one 
of the charter members of the Danville Lodge of Masons and filled many of- 
fices therein. He died in 1861 at the age of sixty-five years. His wife survived 
him until 1899, when she died at the advanced age of ninety-three. Both were 
buried in Spring Hill cemetery. 

Thomas Short came to Vermilion County in 1830. He was not married 
when he came, but his future wife arrived here about the same time. They 
were both natives of Virginia. He was a very well educated man and was en- 
gaged in teaching school at near Maneely's Mill for some time. Mr. Short was 
elected the second county clerk of Vermilion County. He filled that office for 
twelve years, after which he turned his attention to farming. He was struck 
by lightning, which disabled him for business for several years before his death 
in 1877. His family included six sons and three daughters. 

Wallace Sperry came from Connecticut to Warren County, Ohio, where he 
remained a short time, and in 1830 he went on further west coming to Ver- 


milion County, Illinois, and settling near Higginsville. Francis Dougherty was 
another newcomer to Vermilion County in 1830. He was a native of Maryland 
but had lived in Ohio for some time previous to his coming to Vermilion 
County. He became an extensive landowner in this section and died in 1860. Robert 
Price came from Pike County, Ohio, crossing the country in wagons. He was yet in 
time in his coming in 1830 to suffer the privations of pioneer life. He died in 1850. 
He was the father of four children. James Rees was one of the band of Friends 
who did so much for the moral uplift of the county in its formative state. He 
came in 1830 and was a farmer all his life. He commenced the nursery busi- 
ness in 1854 and did much for the improvement of this section. He compiled 
a valuable history of that section, but it never was put in print and his son 
carried it to his western home and lost it in a fire. 'Mr. Rees was the father 
of eight children. He taught school for ten years. 

Alexander Church came from Virginia in 1830 and farmed Mr. Caraway's 
land for a while when he bought land in section 28. This was the school sec- 
tion which has been given in lieu of the salient section 16. Congress gave all 
of section 16 to the state for school purposes, but another law reserved all 
saline lands to the state. The saline section had been taken possession of by 
the men who were making salt and living there, hence this section was given in 
lieu of it. John Boggess took up land in sections 29 and 30 in 1830. He made 
a good farm and continued to live there up to the time of his death in 1875. Mr. 
Boggess came from Monroe County, Virginia. He was married in Greenbrier 
County of the same state to Jane Gillespie McCorkle. He came with his wife 
and family of small children to Vermilion County and stopped at Brooks Point 
for a short time. Mr. and Mrs. John Boggess were the parents of eleven chil- 
dren. Six of these children were born before they left Virginia. One died in 
young manhood. Five of them were born in Vermilion County, and all but the 
three mentioned lived to have families of their own. Mr. Boggess and his wife 
were both buried in Oakridge Cemetery. Of Mr. Boggess' children the eldest 
was William, who died young; Diana, who became the wife of Joseph Griffith 
an dthe mother of four children ; Rebecca, who became the wife of William Ray. 
the brother of Dr. Ray; Elizabeth, who became the wife of Butler; Harvey, who 
married the daughter of Harvey White and was the father of four boys ; Charles, 
who married Huldah Patterson and became the father of two children; America, 
who became the wife of James Davis and the mother of two children ; Enoch, 
who was married three times and the father of nine children ; Melissa, who died 
early, and Julia who died in infancy, and John W., who married Valura B. Piper 
and became the father of four children, two of who died while small. 

John A. Church was a baby of but three years when his father brought him 
to Vermilion County in 1830. He lived all his life within three miles of the 
farm upon which the family settled. His mother was Ruth Caraway, the 
daughter of Charles Caraway. Rev. John Villars was a prominent citizen of 
Vermilion County, coming in 1830. His parents were strong Methodists, and 
he was licensed to exhort in 1823. This was in Ohio. In 1830 he came to Illi- 
nois to Vermilion County and settled about four and a half miles east of Dan- 
ville. In 1833 he was licensed by the M. E. church to preach, but in 1838 he 
left that church and joined the United Brethren in Christ, in which church he 


labored until his death in 1858 as a minister. In 1852 he went to Wisconsin, 
and remained for five years, but returned in 1857. He then went to Nebraska, 
where he died the following year. Mr. Villars laid out one of the abandoned 
towns of the county, platted under the name of Shepherds town. 

The missionaries of the Mormon church came to Vermilion County in 1831 
to get converts. They did their work in Newell township, and had some suc- 
cess. This faith had but just been established the year before this, through 
a claimed revelation made to Joseph Smith in Ontario County, New York. The 
missionaries sent to Newell township were Orson and Parley Pratt. The former 
afterward became a prominent leader in the church at Salt Lake, although while 
here, Parley was the better one of the two. The center of the operations of 
these two missionaries was in Blount township. The first preaching place they 
made was at the house of Olive Miller. Afterward they occupied the Eckler's 
school house, and made appointments at Harrison Oliver's and John Chandler's. 
The wife of the latter was a sister to Swinford, who was a preacher in the 
faith, and she favored it while her husband neither approved or disapproved 
of the doctrine. They had a number of followers, among whom were Elders 
Sherer, George Morey, Coon, Packard, Jackoway, and others whose names are 
not now available. In preaching, these Mormons called themselves the children 
of the Kingdom and they made pretence of healing the sick and even went so 
far as to say they could raise the dead. They, however, made no demonstration 
of that power. Consider Scott was among their converts, being one of the 
very first. Harrison Oliver, Louis Neely and Olive Miller all were converts 
to the doctrine and, taking their families, went to Independence with the mis- 
sionaries when they left Newell township. A number of their converts would 
not go with them, however. 

In 1831 the inconvenience of having the Land Office so far away had be- 
come so great as to make some effort to change it imperative. Steps were 
taken to memoralize the governor to secure the location of a Land Office at 
Danville. This was secured, the district being created by an act of February 19, 
1831. Francis Prince was made the first register and his commission was 
dated March 2, 1831. Samuel McRoberts was the first register and his commis- 
sion bore the same date. He remained receiver until 1840, having second com- 
mission dated March 4, 1835, and February u, 1839. John C. Alexander was 
commissioned register with dates of November 5, 1833, June 12, 1834, and May 
26, 1838. Stinson H. Anderson was sent a commission as receiver of money 
dated June 10, 1840, but he declined it. Thomas Jones was then appointed 
receiver, his commission being dated, July 27, 1840, but he, too, declined to 
serve. Then Lunsford R. Noel was appointed and sent a commission bearing 
date of October 20, 1840, and another December 29, 1840. He was commis- 
sioned again February 21, 1845, an d once more on December 21, 1848. He had 
held this position for nine years. John Vance was commissioned register, 
August 25, 1841, and William E. Russell followed him, receiving his commission 
dated August i, 1845. Daniel Clapp was commissioned register, July 12, 1849, 
and John H. Murphy was commissioned receiver September 20, 1848, and 
again September 2, 1850, the same date as the commission of Daniel Clapp as 
register. William E. Russell was the last man commissioned as receiver and 


his commission was dated March 30, 1853. Richard S. Malony was commis- 
sioned register March 28, 1853. William P. Davis was comimssioned register, 
January 20, 1854, and John N. Drake had the last commission for that place, 
his bearing date of July 24, and January 6, 1856. The office was discontinued 
December 16, 1856, it having been in operation for twenty-five years. 

By this time there were plans of many kinds to increase the facilities for 
travel. Since the main dependence was the waterways, every possible improve- 
ment of them was sought. There were many suggestions made to improve 
navigation of the Big Vermilion and the Danville people tried to slackwater it 
but that was found to be impossible and so Vermilion County petitioned Con- 
gress, as early as 1831, to grant a strip of land between Vincennes and Chicago 
for a railroad. Citizens of other counties joined them but it- was of no practical 
help in solving the problem of transportation throughout the state. It was many 
a long year before a railroad was to run between Chicago and Vincennes. 

There were many newcomers to Vermilion County in 1831. One of them was 
Reuben Partlow, who came from Kentucky and located in Danville. He was 
a wheelright and cooper and lived in Danville working at his trade for a time, 
but at last took up a claim in Newell township, upon which he built a log house. 
Mr. Partlow remained there but a year when he disposed of his claim and re- 
turned to Danville, where he followed his trade for a time and later took up 
a claim on the Middlefork. His market was in Chicago and at one time he 
took a half barrel of honey and supplied the whole town, returning with a 
good portion of it. He lived on the farm on the Middlefork until 1853, when 
again he returned to Danville where he spent his remaining days. He died in 

Aaron Dalbey was another who came in this year. His home, just before 
he came to Illinois, was in Randolph County, Indiana. He bought the farm 
afterward owned by George Jones and later bought three hundred acres of 
land on what was the well known John McFarland farm. He lived there all 
the remainder of his life. He was a prominent citizen and built the mill on 
the Salt Fork. He was three times married, having five children by the first, 
two by the second and four by the third wife. Mr. Dalbey died in 1855. 

Asa Folger came from North Carolina to settle in the Elwood neighborhood. 
He was a tanner and shoemaker and he did this work for the settlers for miles 
around. Some times his business was so rushing that he employed four or 
five men. He was one of the best of men. He belonged to the Society of 
Friends and was, as were so many of these best of people, an influence for 
good to all who knew him. He died in 1850 and his wife, in 1880. 

Another force in the development of the county was Joseph Smith, who 
came in 1831. He was an Englishman by birth, and his father brought him 
to Vermilion County, Illinois, in the latter part of this year of 1831, having 
spent a short time in Elmira, New York, and yet some more time in Chicago 
before coming here. They bought a small farm near Potomac, but they dis- 
posed of this property in a few years and moved to Myersville, this county, and 
took charge of the old water mill at that place. After running the same for 
several years Mr. Smith became a resident of Danville and formed a partner- 
ship with John L. Tincher. They bought a flour and hominy mill, but Mr. Tincher 






soon sold his share to Mr. Giddings and the mill was afterward conducted 
under the name of Smith and Giddings. A strange thing was connected with 
this partnership and mill, since both men died and the building burned within 
the one year. 

Reece Cook came from Indiana in 1831 and first settled at Grate Creek, but 
afterward went five miles northwest of Danville. He was married after he 
came here to Miss Hartly, whose parents came the year before. 

Harvey Cloe came from Kentucky and settled in Georgetown township. He 
married Miss Eslinger, a native of Vermilion County. They lived in the same 
home until after her death, when he married Miss Colwell for his second wife. 
While there had been a log house on the rear of the old Pennsylvania House 
property built by Bluford Runyen in 1828, this at one time famous tavern was 
begun and completed in 1832 by Samuel J. Russell. This building was on the 
west side of Vermilion street about half way between Main street and the first 
street north. It was a good house for its times and competed with the Mc- 
Cormick House in caring for the traveling public. 

The first newspaper was started in the county in 1832. William Delay is 
said to have been its editor at that time. Whether his term of editorship came 
at so early a date is but a matter of memory and, should the date be an error, 
there is no doubt that he was editor of it at a very early period in its history. 
William Delay was a man typical of the times. With sympathy all with the 
southern states and the institution of that section, he looked forward to that 
institution being extended into the territories, and even had a hope that Illinois 
should become a slave state and to that end put forth every influence. He was 
courageous and reckless, a man of strong will and ready effort. His brother was 
of the same stamp, and together they joined the Mounted Rangers and took 
part in the Black Hawk war, serving in protecting the section about their camp 
in Vermilion County after the war was ended. In 1845 ^ r - Delay moved to 
Oxford, Miss., where he became a leader in political affairs. He was sent as a 
delegate to the Charleston convention in 1860. He was a shrewd politician, 
and understood the conditions in the country; it is said that upon his return he 
predicted the downfall of his party and the election of Abraham Lincoln as 
President of the United States, and also the following Civil War. Mr. Delay 
afterward became captain of a company in one of the regiments of the Confed- 
erate army. 

The year 1832 marks the beginning of the Goshen Baptist church. Although 
the organization was made in this year, services were held in private families, 
and at the Davis school-house, and the Stearns school-house for three years 
before a church building was put up. As was the case in almost all the other 
churches of this denomination in the county, Elder Freeman Smalley and Elder 
G. W. Riley were the leaders. Benjamin Smalley was the preacher in this 
church for many years. It was in 1832 that the Black Hawk war called forth 
many of the men of Vermilion County. The fact that Black Hawk had re- 
turned to Illinois was known only to those who read the Springfield papers, or 
took their news second hand, and the citizens of Vermilion County had but vague 
rumors of the impending trouble, until one morning when church service was 
disturbed with a cry of the stranger who came into Danville shouting "The In- 


dians! The Indians!" This church service was conducted by Rev. Kingsbury in 
the room of the second story of the Cunningham store, where it was accustomed 
to be held. It was broken up while the stranger told his tale of Indian cruelties 
feared by the people of the sparsely settled northern Illinois. The inhabitants 
of the Fox River country and Hickory Creek were fleeing from their homes 
through fear of the dreaded enemy. They drove their cattle and other stock 
before them and some bareheaded and others barefooted hurried on to Dan- 
ville. Then the report of Stillman's defeat came, and all sorts of rumors made 
the certainty of the Indians coming down upon this section, killing, burning and 
destroying in every direction a reasonable fear. .At any cost the flying fugitives 
must be relieved at once from the pursuit of the Indians. A call was made at 
once for a forlorn force to go to their assistance. In less than two hours there 
were thirty men volunteered to go and by three o'clock in the afternon were 
on their way, under the leadership of Dan Beckwith as captain. Immediately 
the Vermilion County iMilitia were concentrated at Danville and put upon the 
march. Every part of the county was represented in this body by many of its 
best citizens, Col. Hubbard among the number, under the command of Col. 
Moores, with John H. Murphy acting as his aide. The year after the war was 
over those of Vermilion County who were in the Illinois Rangers went into camp 
near Danville, awaiting release, and the effects of this part taken by this county 
in this war were felt for some time. 

In 1832 the postal route was established from Chicago to Vincennes by way 
of Danville. The wagon road had taken the place of the old trail, and along 
this road the mail was now to be carried three times per week. Among the 
newcomers to Vermilion County during this year are to be reckoned the follow- 
ing: Harvey Stearns, John Dicken, Daniel P. Huffman, John B. Hildreth, John 
Brady, Francis Dougherty, Joseph Richardson, Jesse Smith, Abraham Mann, 
Sr., John Newlon, George W. Wolf, John Pearson, James IWalters, J. K. Richie, 
Thomas F. Collison, Henry Oakwood, John Kyger, Aaron Dalbey, Jesse Davis, 
William Fisher and David Fisher. 

Harvey Stearns was born in Vermont, but went to New York, where he 
lived until after his marriage with Miss Fannie Lockwood. Together they went 
to Ohio in 1814, where he bought a small farm and remained on it until 1832, 
when he came to Vermilion County, Illinois. He reached here after the govern- 
ment had stationed troops to protect the settlement from the Indians. Mr. 
Stearns was the father of eight children. He died in 1847 and his wife sur- 
vived him until 1877. His son Alvan was sixteen years old when he came into 
the county and he walked all the way from Ohio driving cows, sheep and hogs. 
His younger brother, Calvin, walked with him. Living sixteen miles from Dan- 
ville the young man was often obliged to go that distance to call a ph'ysician 
after night. Their market was Chicago and many times he drove there to sell 
his wheat and bring back groceries and other supplies. Mr. Stearns was greatly 
trusted by men, as is shown by his having been made assessor and collector for 
many years, as well as having administered a number of estates. Among the 
estates which he administered are to be numbered those of his father and father- 
in-law, Mr. Lee, also Aaron Hardin, William Clutter, Alfred Hardin and the 
immense estate of Mr. Yount. 


John C. Dicken's father, a native of Kentucky, came to Coleman's Prairie, 
Vermilion County, Indiana, and was the third settler there. His son, John C. 
Dicken, came to Vermilion County, Illinois, in 1832, and settled in Elwood 
township. There he married Hannah, the daughter of William Golden. They 
were the parents of ten children. Mr. Dicken moved to Georgetown in 1853 
and in the following fall he went on to Ridge Farm. He put up a store and 
carried on general merchandise for several years. He then went to Newman 
and built the first store in that place. He sold goods there two years, then re- 
turned to Ridge Farm, where he died in 1873. His wife died thirteen years 
before him. 

Daniel P. Huffman came from Kentucky in the fall of 1832 and settled in 
Newell township, and the family homestead did not pass into strange hands at 
his death, which was the case with too many of the early settlers, farms. Mr. 
Huffman did not live to make much of a farm, since his death took place within 
four years. His wife survived him twenty-one years. Since there was no bury- 
ing ground within ten miles, the parents were both buried on the farm, in a 
pleasant place, a few yards from the residence. 

John Brady was a native of Virginia and his wife of Ohio, where he took up 
his residence and remained until 1832. At that time he came west and took up 
land in Danville township. Here they were among the early settlers, and they 
lived the remainder of their lives at this place. Mrs. Brady died in 1848 and 
Mr. Brady survived her until 1855. 

Francis Dougherty was the master of both the trades of shoemaker and 
stone-mason, so that in coming to Vermilion County in 1832 he found much 
need of work in both lines. He lived in Vermilion County until his death in 
1860. He was born in Maryland. His wife, Christian, died in 1851 at the ad- 
vanced age of ninety-one years. When Mr. Dougherty came to Vermilion 
County in 1832 he settled on the Little Vermilion river in Carroll township, 
about one and a half miles northwest of where Indianola is now located, where 
he stayed over winter, and then bought land from the government one mile north 
of where Fairmount is. Of their family of children, Samuel Dougherty mar- 
ried Jane Dalbey, the daughter of Aaron Dalbey. 

Aaron Dalbey also came to Vermilion County in 1832. His first wife and the 
mother of Jane Dalbey was Christina, and at her death was the mother of five 
children. Mr. Dalbey's second wife was Nancy Kizer and his third wife was 
Henrietta Catlin. Jesse Smith was a native of Virginia and migrated to Ten- 
nessee at an early age. Thence he came to Vermilion County in 1832 and settled 
on section 18. He was a tanner and a farmer. His first entry of land con- 
sisted of 160 acres, which he added to from time to time. His produce, to find 
a good market, had to be taken to Chicago. At that time the best price was $1.50 
per hundred for pork and a good cow would be sold for not more than $10. 

Abraham Mann, Sr., was one of the early settlers who made a lasting impress 
on the county. He came in 1832 and made his way into the interior of Illinois, 
here to bear an important part in making the county. Although coming directly 
from England Mr. Mann did not come without some knowledge of conditions 
in the new world. His father had been in the Mississippi valley during his early 
manhood and had then gone to spend his last years in England. He had doubt- 


less told his son of life on this side of the water and made him familiar with 
conditions of living here. 

Mr. John Mann, the father, came to America while yet it was counted among 
the colonial possessions of Great Britain. He came in the interest of a London 
firm dealing in paints and oils, of which he was a member. He located first in 
New Orleans^and penetrated into the interior of the Mississippi valley when but 
few settlements had been made on either side of the great river. Passing up the 
Mississippi in a canoe, he went as far north as the St. Anthony Falls (later 
Minneapolis and St. Paul), trading with the Indians alpd shipping his cargoes 
down the river to New Orleans. After the Revolution, Congress gave him 
grants of land in Louisana to the amount of thirty thousand acres, to compen- 
sate him for the losses he had suffered because of the war. Later, after Amer- 
ica was no longer one of the British colonies, Mr. Mann returned to London 
where he lived the remainder of his life. Abraham Mann, Sr., his son, was born 
in Leighton-Buzzard, Bedfordshire, England, October 4, 1785. Determining 
to make the new world his home, he sailed, with his family, for the United 
States, taking passage at Liverpool on a sailing vessel which, after a voyage of 
seven weeks, reached the harbor of New York. He was in company of his 
brother-in-law, Joseph Smith, and they made their way by way of the Great 
Lakes to Detroit, Michigan, where they bought saddle horses and rode across 
the country to Danville, Illinois, settling near Danville, which was at that time 
but a small town. For miles just beyond the timber about Danville, the great 
prairie stretched, most of it yet belonging to the government. Mr. Mann en- 
tered a claim of six hundred and forty acres on which he built a pioneer house 
of logs. He entered land from time to time, until when he died he had an estate 
of five thousand acres to leave to his children. It is impossible to tell all that 
Mr. Mann did for Vermilion County. He was a power in the advancement of 
the county, both in the business efforts he put forth in Danville, and the im- 
petus he gave the agricultural interests of the county. He was very prominent 
in public affairs and was in sympathy with and promoter of every measure 
tending to make a firm foundation for the development of the county as yet in 
its infancy. The vast estate near Rossville is a monument to his thrift and 
longsightedness, and the neat little brick church, well known as the Mann Chapel, 
made from brick which he himself burned, is equally a monument to his interest 
in the general welfare along moral, as well as intellectual and social lines. Mr. 
Mann's wife died seven years after he left England and was buried in the pri- 
vate burial grounds, and he died in 1875 and was buried by her side. 

J. J. K. Richie came to Georgetown with his mother and grandfather, a 
lad of six years, in 1832. His father died when he was a baby. They wintered 
in Georgetown and in the spring moved to a farm southeast of the village. 
This was his home only a short time and during his boyhood he changed resi- 
dence several times. When he was old enough to take care of himself, how- 
ever, he settled in the county and spent his manhood in the place where he 
was brought by his grandfather when a boy. John Pearson was born in Avon, 
New York, and began his connection with Vermilion County when he was thirty 
years old. He was a graduate of Princeton College and had read law with 
Judge George Hosmer while yet living in Avon. He came west, locating in 


Ravenna, Ohio, for a time, but later started for a more favorable place to prac- 
tice his profession. He started for Chicago, but stopped at Detroit to visit 
friends. At that place he took a sailing vessel for Chicago, reaching his desti- 
nation early in June, 1832. He found conditions such that it was not safe to 
stay there unless he remained in the fort, and that Danville was the nearest 
place of perfect safety, there being a company of rangers stationed there, so 
he came here on horseback to look at the town. During his absence the first 
steamer arrived at Chicago, bringing Scott's troops, but as well bringing the 
cholera, and a regular exodus was made from Fort Dearborn. Mr. Pearson's 
family was taken from the fort and taken to the summit, there to await his return. 
He took a wagon back and brought them to Danville, where he began the prac- 
tice of law. He was appointed by the legislature to the office of Circuit Judge, 
his circuit being Cook, Will, Iroquois, DuPage and DeKalb counties. This 
took him to Joliet for his home and later other business caused him to locate 
in New York city. But his interests were in the west,- and he left the east, 
making the long trip to California, where he had many experiences, and finally 
returned to Danville, where he spent his remaining years. Judge Pearson died 
in 1875. 

Henry G. Boyce came to Vermilion County with his father from Ohio, 
being a native of New York state. He began working as a carpenter in the 
then small town of Danville for Mr. Beckwith and Gov. Leander Rutledge. 
Mr. Boyce was married to Eliza J. Potter in March, 1833, and lived on Wal- 
nut street, where their oldest child was born. In 1833 Mr. Boyce went to 
Chicago, where he was soon joined by the father, brother and brother-in-law 
of Mrs. Boyce, who all together dug the cellar for the first brick house ever 
built in Chicago. /When he went there, there were but two houses between 
Danville and Chicago. He remained in Chicago that summer that he might 
earn money to pay his taxes, and then returned to Danville where he bought 
land along Walnut street. Mr. Boyce was kept busy putting up houses in 
Danville and worked faithfully at his trade 1850, and in 1856 he was ap- 
pointed postmaster at Danville. He served until the incoming of President 
Lincoln, and then later during President Johnson's term. He was an active mem- 
ber of the Methodist church. He died in 1873. 

Henry Oakwood was the founder of a family in Vermilion County which 
is at the same time large and well esteemed. He came to the county in 1833. He 
was a man of very genial temperament ; was strong, athletic and kept himself 
well posted in the affairs of the times. He had a family of six sons and three 
daughters. Rev. Michael Oakwood was the son of Henry Oakwood and was 
a well known preacher in the Methodist church in an early day. As a young man 
of twenty-seven Samuel Frazier came to Vermilion County, in 1833. He 
located on the tract of land two miles northwest of what is now Catlin, but 
then was a lonely prairie. He was born in Ohio, but spent his years of growth 
in Dearborn County, Indiana. When he was eighteen years of age he started 
out for himself, trying flat-boating and steam-boating, and in 1824 was in 
Natchez about the time of the visit made the United States by Gen. LaFayette. Mr. 
Frazier married Miss Beulah Ann Finley, and spent two years or more in In- 
diana. In the fall of 1833 he bought 200 acres of land in Vermilion County, 


Illinois, and set to work to improve this property. When Mr. Frazier reached 
this county, Danville was a little town of only 400 or 500, but it was the county 
seat, and a courthouse was built. Mr. Frazier worked on the farm improve- 
ments, and after remaining there two years he sold out for $1.000, but after- 
ward raised another crop on the same land. He then moved into Danville, 
settling on Vermilion street, between Main and North streets, where he lived 
until he bought land on Main street. He conducted a hotel one year, then 
bought property on Main street, where he built a large brick block, extending 
from the courthouse to Hazel street, and known as the Frazier block. He 
lived there for 25 years, keeping his hotel for five years of that time. He was 
elected sheriff of Vermilion County in 1840 and held the office for eight years, 
being the third man elected to that office. Upon retiring from this office he 
began buying cattle and made many a trip driving them through to Chicago, 
when the country was all open prairie. 

Mr. Frazier was one of the early merchants, being the senior member of 
the firm of Frazier, Lamm & Company for two years, at which time Mr. Lamm 
withdrew and the firm name became Frazier & Gessie, (the latter his son-in- 
law). Another two years and he assumed the entire charge of the business, 
and no further change was made for about ten years. At that time the war 
of the rebellion broke out and Mr. Frazier, who was fully imbued with the 
Union sentiments, raised the first company of men in the county. Capt. Frazier 
and his company, which was assigned to the 1 2th 'Infantry, went to Cairo and 
served three months, after which they were sent home. Capt. Frazier there- 
after attended to his business interests. He was a large land owner and was one 
of the first directors of the First National Bank, and he was interested in most of 
the enterprises tending to build up the town. Capt. Frazier was the father of twelve 
children, but of these only five lived to maturity. The eldest son, Edwajrd, 
entered the army, was taken ill and coming home, died ten days afterward, 
at which time he was but nineteen years old; Angeline, became the wife of 
Jas. H. Phillips ; Mary F. became the wife of M. A. Lapham ; Florence, be- 
came the wife of W. W. Phillips, and De Witt C. the youngest child. Mr. 
Frazier died September 26, 1891. 

William E. Russell was a native of Middletown, Connecticut. He was a mer- 
chant in the east and when he came to Vermilion County in 1833 he engaged 
in the same business in Danville. He also was in the loan and land business 
to a limited extent. He was a democrat and prominent in public affairs. Alex- 
ander P. Chesley came to Vermilion County about this time. After coming to 
Danville he was at one time appointed postmaster. James Duncan came to 
Vermilion County with his family of boys and located near the state line. After 
his son Darius went to work for himself, he bought and fed, and afterward] 
sold cattle and other stock, until he became a man of wealth. His operations 
in the line of dealer in stock became enlarged to the extent that he was recog- 
nized as one of the most extensive buyers in Illinois. He bought cattle and 
hogs and horses and sheep and shipped them to Chicago and the eastern markets. 
He invested his money in land and constantly increased his wealth until he 
became burdened with responsibilities. In 1865 he sold one farm for fifteen 
thousand dollars, and moved to Danville. Later he sold another farm for 







twelve thousand dollars. He invested this money in property in Danville. 
Here he continued shipping stock for some time, but at last he was no longer 
able for the exertion and lived a retired life. Mr. Duncan was twice married, 
his first wife was the daughter of James Newell, the man for whom Newell 
township was named. He had several children by this marriage, and after 
the death of his wife he married Mrs. Caldwell from near Potomac. They had 
two sons. Mr. Duncan died in 1893 and left a good property for his widow. 
She survived him seventeen years, during which time everything was lost. Mrs. 
Duncan died in 1910. 

It was in 1833 that Abner Frazier came to Georgetown, where he located 
and became a merchant. His business was continued through his life and his 
son carried it on after his father died. Abner Frazier was the father of eight 
children. There were Perry, Mrs. James Snapp, Mrs. Sophia Newlin, John, 
Mrs. John Rogers, Mrs. Dr. Mendenhall, and Mrs. W. E. Moore. One died 
very young. 

Dr. W. W. R. Woodbury was a well known name all through the century 
which began with the thirties. Coming to Danville in 1832, he went into Dr. 
Fithian's family and in the course of time studied medicine under his guidance. 
He graduated from Rush Medical College in 1830, but never practiced his pro- 
fession to any great extent, because he became interested in the drug trade with 
Dr. J. A. Sconce and finally made it a permanent business. He began in the 
drug business in 1850, and in 1910 his successors, of whom the most of the ones 
interested in the stock are his children, held their fiftieth year celebration. In 
company with John W. Myers, he built the Lincoln Opera House. At that 
time this enterprise was the wonder of the community. The proprietors were 
laughed at for their monument of folly, as it was called, but fortunately real 
estate took an upward turn at this time and the venture was a success. Dr. 
Woodbury filled several public offices, one of which was that of mayor. He 
built a number of houses in the city and has added four or more additions to 
the city plat. In 1853 Mr. Sconce sold out to John W. and Steven Myers and 
in 1857 Steven died and Dr. Woodbury bought out their interest and after- 
wards run the business by himself. For more than fifty years the Woodbury 
drug store has been on the same lot. Dr. Woodbury died in . Dr. Wood- 
bury was married three times. His first wife was a daughter of James Newell, 
his second wife was a Miss Myers, and his other wife was the daughter of Amos 
Williams. Dr. Woodbury left six children, three sons and three daughters. 

Henry Oakwood opened his farm in 1833 and the beginning of the village of 
Oakwood was made. Henry Oakwood remained there the rest of his life. 

Jesse Davis came with his parents in 1833 to Catlin. He located on section 
36. Mr. Davis died in 1834 and his wife survived her husband thirty-six years. 

David Finley came to near Catlin in 1833 with his grown family. Among 
them were the son, Watts, a daughter Nancy (who afterward became the wife 
of Samuel Frazier), and son Miller. His other daughter was the wife of 
Samuel Frazier at the time they all came from Ohio. Mr. Finley's son Miller 
went to the Mexican war and there lost his life. After the death of their father, 
Watts, Miller, and Nancy settled on a farm of twenty acres in section 25 and 


24, town 23, range 12. Later Nancy became the wife of Samuel Frazier and 
Watts married Miss Margaret Davis. 

Hon. Jacob Oakwood was three years old when his parents brought him to 
Vermilion County. They settled, as has been stated on another page, near the 
present day village of Oakwood until Mr. Oakwood, the father, died in 1855. 
He was buried in the Mount Vernon cemetery. The children of this well 
known pioneer family were named as follows: Henry, Michael (a Methodist 
preacher), Mrs. Margaret (George A.) Fox, Jacob, Mrs. Amanda (Rev. Eli) 
Helmick, Samuel, Mrs. Matilda (Henry) Sallie, Martin R. and Morgan H. 
These children were all well taught, better than the average, and they have been 
a strong factor in the development of the county. Jacob Oakwood, in particular, 
was very prominent in the affairs of the county. He was always chosen an au- 
thority in agricultural matters. He was chosen as president of the Vermilion 
County Agricultural Society, because he could best fill the place. His influence 
was always on the side of improved farming. He was as intelligently interested 
in all political issues of the times. In 1872 he was sent to represent the county 
in the legislature. While there he was helpful in securing legislation that was 
of value. He served on important committees and took the greatest pains to 
inform himself regarding all things he had to decide upon. Jacob Oakwood 
married Miss Mary I. Caraway, daughter of Charles Caraway, one of the early 

These years of 1834 and 1835 were the dates when many of the citizens of 
Vermilion County sold out their farms and went to Wisconsin in the search of 
wealth. Probably twenty-five families went from Blount township and as many 
from other parts of the county. The lead mines of Wisconsin were beginning 
to attract attention and the people thought they saw a chance to get rich quick. 
Among those who went at this time were Mr. Blount, the man after whom the 
township was named, Mr. William Lane, John Snyder, and the Magees. 

Of the newcomers into the county a few may be mentioned. There were 
R. T. Leverich, William I. Moore, L. T. Palmer, G. W. Holloway, J. H. Lockett, 
C. E. Loring, Dr. Theodore Lemon, and many others. William McMillen was 
one of these newcomers and he brought his family with him, settling in Blount 
township, on section 30. Daniel Loring came from Coal Creek, Indiana, whither 
he had gone from Utica, New York. Mr. Loring stayed in Indiana only a short 
time, only perhaps a dozen years, the wagon which brought them from the east 
had not been destroyed and carried them into Vermilion County when the time 
came that they were decided to go on west. This wagon was a wonder and was 
said to be the most solid wagon ever brought to this county, and the only one 
of its kind. It was a covered wagon built of sawed logs fitted on axles. C. E. 
Loring, the only son of Daniel Loring, was a man of twenty-five when he came 
with them from Indiana. Before this he came into his inheritance from his 
mother. The amount was $150.00, but to get it he had to go back east. To 
get there he hired out to be a hand on a flat-boat and in that way went down the 
Wabash river, the Ohio, the Mississippi, thence on the Gulf of Mexico and the 
Atlantic Ocean, and he reached his destination at Boston. With one hundred 
dollars of his money he bought eighty acres of land. There was not even a rail 
fence on the entire place. Nothing daunted, Mr. Loring began to break the 


land, with the yoke of oxen the other fifty dollars of his inheritance had pro- 
vided. Mr. Loring's friends were all the people who knew him, so that when 
in the seventies he lost his eyesight, all the community grieved over his affliction. 
He was the more afflicted because he was a man who loved to read and it was 
hard to give this up. Mr. Loring, however, lived many years after this afflic- 
tion came. Mr. Loring died in 1899. When Zachariah Robertson was twelve 
years old his father's family came to Vermilion County from Kentucky. They 
settled on section 36, Newell township. His father was married the second 
time and was the father of nineteen children all told. He was a revolutionary 
soldier. When the family came it was in a covered wagon, camping out by the 
wayside at night. When they came to the Wabash river the son, twelve years 
old, waded, driving the stock before him. There was much wild game and hunt- 
ing and fishing could be had to one's desire. Mr. Robertson entered forty acres 
of land and built his pioneer home. Here he spent the remaining years of his 
life. He lived to be ninety-four years old, and died in Newell township at 
where Bismarck now is built. 

Edward Rouse came to Vermilion County in 1834. He had been here the 
year previous, but returned to Ohio and did not locate until at this time. He 
located in Danville township and in 1849 moved to Newell township. His father 
and mother, Reason and Martha (Olehy) Rouse, had made all arrangements to 
come to Vermilion County some years before this time, when just as they were 
almost ready to start, the father sickened and died. With a courage strong and 
a rare resolution, the mother braved the new country and came with her family 
of little children. However, she did not live to make them a home in Illinois, 
but died within six months and the children found homes with relatives. 

William I. Moore came to Vermilion County in 1834 and located in Pilot 
township. He developed the now well known farm owned by Mr. Wiley Fowler, 
who has made it famous. Mr. Moore was born in New Jersey and came west 
he was about thirty years old, buying cheap land, and also selling goods to great 
profit. He used to buy large quantities of pork, flour and other produce and 
store it in large warerooms at Perrysville, Indiana, and when he had secured the 
amount he desired shipped it down the Wabash river to New Orleans. He did 
this shipping by the flat-boat, the method of the time. In 1844-45, Mr. Moore 
served Vermilion County in the State Legislature. 

Ricliard T. Leverich and his brother were men of affairs in the county, coming 
in 1835. He went into Dr. Fithian's store right away, having made such an ar- 
rangement before leaving home. Mr. Leverich was born in Queens County, New 
Vork, and lived there during his boyhood. When he came west, he came as far 
as Dayton, Ohio, where he rode Dr. Fithian's horse to Indianapolis, and thence 
came in the stage coach to Perryville and from there to Danville. It took him 
about two weeks to make the trip. Mr. Leverich clerked for Dr. Fithian for 
three years and then went into partnership with L. T. Palmer, in the general 
store business, where he remained for fourteen years, after which he and his 
brother were partners for some five years. This partnership concluded and 
Mr. Leverich continued the business alone for five years more, when he went 
on his farm, where he remained until his death. Mr. Leverich married Lydia 


Gilbert, the daughter of Solomon Gilbert, one of the most prominent of the 
earlier settlers. 

John Vinson was born in Bourbon County in 1823, and came with his par- 
ents to Fountain County, Indiana, in 1834, where he lived for a short time. 
They soon came to Vermilion County and settled on a farm near Newton. In 
1843 ne married Elizabeth Trimbell, a daughter of William Trimbell, Sr., and 
made his home near to the parents of his wife. After a time Mr. Trimbell in- 
duced his son-in-law and his wife to purchase a farm of him out on the prairie, 
so that they might better care for the cattle which he was raising. This farm 
proved to be a fine one and at the time of his death, in 1893, he was possessed 
of as fine a farm of 400 acres as was in Pilot township. Mr. and Mrs. Vinson 
were the parents of nine children, all but one of whom survived him. He was 
converted in the Methodist church at the age of 17, and lived a consistent life, 
being licensed to exhort by the Illinois Conference in 1853, and in 1855 was 
ordained as minister of the gospel. He never took a charge, but was a local 
preacher all the rest of his life. He was elected Justice of the Peace in 1853, 
and held that office for twenty-four years. He was a volunteer in the Civil 
War, being made First Lieutenant of Company I, One Hundred and Twenty- 
fifth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, but after the battle of Perryville, he came home 
on account of ill health. He afterwards helped raise a company, and was made 
First Lieutenant of the One Hundred and Thirty-fifth Regiment, and served 
with honor until the term of his enlistment was over. After he returned home, 
he lived a quiet life in the same part of Vermilion County that had been his 
home since he came from Kentucky. He died September 26, 1893, and was 
buried in the cemetery adjoining the Emberry chapel. He was the son of 
Abigail Vinson, who was very well known and loved and who survived her son, 
although she was at the time more than one hundred years old at the time of 
his death. Abigail Vinson, the mother of the Rev. John Vinson, came to Ver- 
milion County in about 1877 and was one of the best known people who ever 
lived in what is now known as Pilot township. Her life was one of useful- 
ness and self-sacrifice. She served humanity through a long period of years, 
and it has proudly been said of her, that she was at the bedside of more sick 
people than any physician of the neighborhood. The night was never too dark, 
nor the weather so inclement, that she would refuse a call of distress. Often 
she would find her patient, illy prepared to meet the coming little one and 
"Grandma Vinson" as she was called in loving terms, would take off her 
own garments to keep the little stranger from the cold. Her son often 
said that she would ride twenty miles to beg a garment and then ride ten more 
in the other direction to deliver it and think it no hardship. A generation arose 
to revere her name and to hand it down to succeeding generations in loving 
memory. iMrs. Abigail Vinson was born in Maryland, in 1793. Her maiden 
name was Abbie McDowell. She moved with her parents to Bourbon County, 
Kentucky, where she lived for several years, and was there married to Hen- 
son Vinson; together they moved to Indiana and lived there a short time, after 
which they moved to Vermilion County, Illinois. She was ever called generous 
and kind hearted, always encouraging and never discouraging those with whom 
she came in contact. She was the best substitute for a doctor in that part of 








the county, and has ridden many a mile in all kinds of weather to attend the sick. 
She was the mother of nine children and was always in the best of health. She 
died January 30, at the advanced age of 102 years. She was buried in the Glen- 
burn cemetery. 

Theodore Lemon, M. D., came to Vermilion County from Bunker Hill, Vir- 
ginia. He made up his mind to settle in Danville, Illinois, upon his finishing 
his studies in medicine, because of the fact that his brother had come here in 
the previous year. He came in company with his uncle, the Rev. James Cheno- 
weth. Dr. Lemon taught school in the Presbyterian church for a year after 
he came, before he attempted t6 practice to any great extent. Soon, however, 
he established a lucrative practice, and it extended for many miles in every 
direction. He was one of a large family of children, and they came to Dan- 
ville and marrying into the families of the pioneers, made a large relationship 
an connection, in the community. One sister married I. R. Moores and one 
married John H. Murphy, and went to Oregon. His sister married W. T. 
Cunningham, the brother of Mrs. O. L. Davis, and died in Danville. A brother 
of Dr. Lemon was a practicing physician in Fairmount for some time. Dr. 
Lemon married Lavinia Sconce, who was born in Kentucky, but whose parents 
came to Vermilion County when she was but a child of one year. Dr. and Mrs. 
Lemon were the parents of eleven children, three of whom died in infancy, and 
the others all grew up and spent their lives in Danville. Dr. Lemon was 
the cousin of Hon. Ward A. Lemon, the Danville law partner of Abraham 
Lincoln. Dr. Lemon died in Danville in December, 1885, in the seventy-fourth 
year of his age. He was buried in Spring Hill cemetery. 

Capt. G. W. Holloway was a man well known and well liked, who came to 
Georgetown township in 1835, a lad of twelve years. His father settled in the 
township, and after he grew to the time of starting for himself, he went to 
Georgetown and entered into partnership with Henderson, Dicken & Company. 
This firm name soon changed to Henderson & Holloway, which continued until 
the spring of 1874, at which time Mr. Holloway took sole charge of the business. 
In 1862 he enlisted in the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Illinois Regiment, and 
was made captain of Company D. He remained in the service until the close 
of the war. Mr. Holloway married Miss Sophia Lyons, who was from Mas- 
sachusetts. They were a family of influence in the county, socially as well as in 
other ways. While Capt. Holloway was on the field with his regiment his 
brother Jesse, together with Mr. Henderson, conducted the business. After his 
return, the firm bought a mill and Mr. Holloway turned his attention to the 
management of that. 

Levin T. Palmer came to Danville in 1835 and continued to reside here until 
his death in the year 1900. He was for many years a leading merchant, but 
during the later years of his active business life he was engaged as agent and 
trustee in loaning money for eastern capitalists. He was a man of sterling in- 
tegrity, his word being considered as being as good as his bond. His acts of 
charity were extensive in number and amount though unostentatious. The 
appeal of the needy never met with refusal. One who knew him well and long 
when asked what he considered the most prominent services which had been ren- 


dered to the public, replied, "he stood for many years as a terror and obstacle to 
all those who sought by dishonest or unlawful means to take money from the 
public treasury. It was understood that such attempts would be met by Mr. 
Palmer backed by his courage and money. It is impossible to estimate the sums 
saved to the public by the mere fact that Mr. Palmer was known to be on 
guard. In 1866 and 67 an attempt was made to build a bridge at public expense 
on the site now occupied by the Mill Street or Woolen Mill bridge. -The means 
used were illegal and Mr. Palmer fought the case in the courts and prevented 
payment for the bridge from the public funds. As characteristic of Mr. 
Palmer's honesty, he refused to use the bridge and always crossed the stream 
at the ford." 

James Cook came to locate on section 10, Georgetown township in 1835. He 
lived here until his death in 1871, when he left an improved farm which he found 
a wild piece of ground. John Ray came west in the early thirties and located 
in what is now Will County, but the Indian uprising of 1832 sent him further 
south, and he went to Vermilion County, Indiana, whence he came to Ver- 
milion County, Illinois, in a few years. He located on sections 29 and 30, in 
Ross township in 1835. He entered three hundred acres of land and developed 
a good farm. In 1835 the Davis family came to Vermilion County and the 
father entered the largest tract of land that ever was recorded in the land 
office in Danville. This entry was not made until the year after they first 
came, however. Mr. Davis left his sons to put in a crop and returned to Ohio, 
and entered 3000 acres of land in Vance township upon his coming back the 
next season. Charles Rice was one of the newcomers to Vermilion County in 
1835. He settled in Vermilion Grove and was a prominent farmer, and when 
he died had a fine property to give his heirs. William R. Richards is another 
prominent farmer of Vermilion County who came in 1835. He was a young 
man of twenty-six when he came. His father and mother came at the same 
time, but they did not live for many years. Mr. Richards made a fine farm, 
to which he added more land, and lived on it the remainder of his days. His 
farm was in Georgetown township. William Sheets came in 1835 to Danville 
township, where he and his brother-in-law built a mill, afterward known as the 
Kyger mill. They carried on this mill for nine years. He sold the mill and 
went on his farm, where he remained for seven years, when he bought an in- 
terest in the mill again and went back to the same, living there for two years. 
During his two years at the mill, he together with Thos. S. Morgan and Henry 
and Daniel Kyger, built the steam mill at Georgetown. However, he sold out 
his interest in the mill before it was run at all. Having no interest in the Kyger, 
nor the Georgetown mills, he went back to the farm and there remained until 
his death in August 1879. Mr. Sheets married Miss Elizabeth Kyger and they 
were the parents of six children. 

John Fletcher came to Vermilion Grove with his parents, himself a young 
man, in 1836, John Smith (Eng.), as he always signed his name, came to Ver- 
milion County in 1836 and was a conspicious citizen of Middlefork township 
all during the remainder of his life. Mr. Shepherd came to Vermilion County 
in 1836 and settled in what was afterward Oakwood township. He built a mill 
on Salt Fork that cost $3,000, but died before it began to run. Henry Harbaugh, 


who is the oldest man in Vermilion County, yet living, came into this section 
in 1836. He now lives with his children and grandchildren, at the advanced 
age of one hundred and six years. He is clear in his statements of early 
days, and tells how he came "down the Ohio and up the Wabash" as far as 
Perrysville, when he walked on to Danville, thence to Denmark and Higgins- 
ville, where he located and where he remained. Thos. B. Newlin came to Ver- 
milion County from Champaign County in 1835, having located in the latter, 
coming from Virginia some years earlier. He entered land in Catlin township 
and married a daughter of Stephen Griffith. George W. Wolf of Catlin is one 
of the few early settlers who can tell the story of pioneer days from memory. 
His story of a farm in Tennessee where comfort and prosperity was to be had, 
exchanged for a piece of worthless land in the wilderness of Illinois in the 
early thirties, by his unsuspecting father who came with his wife and children 
to Vermilion County at that date, is one of many. The little boy was but a 
baby and much of the memory shows the suffering of the mother told in after 
years. Mr. Wolf's parents lived but a short time and his childhood was not 
a sheltered condition. He early had to make his way in the world, but he made 
it to some purpose, and now at seventy-eight, he is clear of brain, accurate, 
and trustworthy as authority on matters in the history of Vermilion County. 
Mr. Wolf has served the county as Supervisor and in other offices. He was 
among the last to work in the Salt Works, having been employed there when 
he was eighteen years old'. In 1835, a charter was secured for the Chicago 
and Vincennes Railway, among the charter members being Gurdon S. Hub- 
bard, (who had moved to Chicago before this time), John H. Murphy, and I. 
R. Moores of Danville. The same year, a charter was secured from Quincy, 
to the Indiana state line in the direction of LaFayette, via Springfield, Decatur 
and Danville, under the name of the North Cross Railroad. Robert Kirkpatrick 
built a mill on Stony Creek in 1835. It was a saw-mill. He ran it for some 
years, and then it was abandoned. The historic "Kyger's Mill" was built in 
1835. Mr. Hale, the first capitalist to come to Vermilion County, built a mill 
in 1836. The year 1836 witnessed several changes in Vermilion County, a few 
of which are here recorded. The State Bank had been chartered in the previous 
year, and now Danville thought the demand for such an institution merited 
one being established here. The State Bank was patterned on that of the 
United States, and had various branches in different parts of the state. A 
charter was granted incorporating the Danville Academy, in 1836. 

Amos Williams built the mill on the Big Vermilion river long known as the 
cotton mill in 1836. The first steam saw-mill was built in this year. The grading 
of the North Cross railroad was done through Vance township in 1836. It was 
a part of the net-work of "Internal Improvements" which swamped the state 
at this time and were lost in the revulsion of the next year. A number of postal 
routes were established during that year. One went from Danville to Spring- 
field via Decatur. Another went from Danville to Ottawa. Yet another went 
to Indianapolis via Danville (Ind.), Rockville, Montezuma and Newport. The 
western terminus of this line was Danville, 111. Samuel Porter came from Mary- 
land to Vermilion County in 1826 and settled about a mile and a half east of 
Indianola, where he died in 1848. 


Jesse Liggett came to Vermilion County .in 1836, and located on eighty acres 
of land one mile northeast of Newton. Later he bought 160 acres and yet later 
added more land, until he owned 600 acres in this section. A part of this land 
was on Middle Fork, but the last purchase was on the prairie. Mr. Liggett had 
a mill in the bottoms of the Middle Fork which supplied the neighborhood. He 
lived on the timber farm until he bought the land on the prairie, after which he 
spent the remainder of his life on the new farm. Mr. Liggett's parents went 
from Virginia to Ohio when that state had but just been transformed from a 
territory. He was but one year old at the time of the change of residence. 
He came to Illinois in 1836, so that his life was almost entirely spent in pioneer 
ways of living. He was an extensive breeder of cattle and swine and kept this 
industry up after his retiring to his Muncie home. His last years were spent in 
comfort in the home in Muncie. Mr. Liggett was the father of eight children 
and at his death he left each of them forty and more acres of land. 

Of the men who came to Vermilion County to help in its development it 
must not be neglected to mention one who did so much by strength and skill of 
trade as Mr. Tilton, who established a brick kiln and at the same time worked 
at his other trade of builder. Among other work he built the dam across the 
Vermilion river for Amos Williams' mill. 

Dr. A. M. C. Hawes came to Georgetown in March, 1836, and was an ex- 
tensive practitioner in that part of the country all the remaining years of his 
life. The year after his coming he married Miss Wilmoth Walters. They were 
the parents of twelve children. 

William J. Terrill came to Georgetown about this time, coming from Ohio. 
He was a good carpenter and his work was found in the early homes. 

Seneca Stearns came to Oakwood township, in Vermilion County, one mile 
northeast of Fithian in 1836. Mr. Stearns was born in Vermont, but had moved 
to Ohio, at which place he was married to a girl of Ohio. He entered land 
which he improved and lived on until the death of the wife, after which Mr. 
Stearns lived with his children. He died in 1898. 

The next three years of the thirties witnessed the building of many mills. 
Early in the year 1837, the grading of the North Cross railroad was begun and 
was completed from the Champaign County line east. This was done through 
the influence of Dr. Fithian, who was in the state legislature and foresaw the 
crash which was to come when this work would be impossible. The Vermilion 
Rapids was platted and abandoned in the year 1837. 

Among the newcomers of 1838 and 1839 can be counted a number of men 
who afterward were prominent in the affairs of the county. The list would in- 
clude John Cole, Wilson Burroughs, John Newlin, Abraham Sandusky, William 
Giddings, Mr. Menely and Henson Vinson, as well as Samuel G. Craig, John 
E. Cooper, Robert Mills, David Clapp, Thos. Church and others. 

Newtown was surveyed and laid off in 1838 by Benj. Coddington from the 
southeast quarter of section 25, T. 20, R. 13. The lots were made three rods 
wide and six rods long; the alleys were one rod wide. Main street was to 
extend north and south four rods wide. High street extends east and west of 
the same width. The plat of the village was recorded June 15, 1838, and given 
under the hand of Owen West, county surveyor. The first man to locate in the 








vicinity of this place was Stephen Griffith, but Mr. Griffith was not connected 
with the town. Mr. Coddington was the first to build a dwelling and within a 
year Hezekiah Miner built the second. About this time Jonathan Harris put 
up the first store. William Reed, the first sheriff of Vermilion County, built a 
dwelling here in 1837. This town, which was never much more than a cross 
road, had a prosperous life until the railroads brought their stations to compete 
with it. Its glory has departed so far as being of any worth as a business point, 
but it is far from having the appearance of an abandoned town one would ex- 
pect to find. Its few dwellings, church and other buildings are kept painted and 
an air of being as self-respecting as any town pervades the little hamlet. 

Benjamin Stites, with his wife, came to Blount township in 1837. They set- 
tled at Rickard Corner. The next year they moved to a place two miles south 
of Myersville, and lived there until in 1857 they moved out of the county. 

John Cole, one of the most successful of the many men who found pros- 
perity in Vermilion County, came in 1837. He first located on section 20 and 
30, in Danville township, and in 1839 he went back to Vermont and brought 
back a bride. Later he entered and bought much land until he was one of the 
largest land owners in the county. He had his land in three farms and the one 
on which he lived was among the best farms in the county. Mr. Cole was mar- 
ried three times. His first wife left him a daughter, who became the wife of 
Mr. McKee and lived in Danville and whose death was greatly mourned by a 
host of friends. His second wife was the daughter of Michael Weaver, and 
at her death she left one son. His third wife was the mother of one child, a 
daughter. Mr. Cole lived to an advanced age and died in 1910. 

Jesse Burroughs came to Vermilion County in 1839 f r o m Dearborn County, 
Indiana, and settled on a farm near Catlin. They lived there a number of years 
and then changed their residence to Fairmount. Mr. Burroughs died there in 
1880. His wife survived him less than a year. 

Abraham Sandusky (or Sodowsky) came to Vermilion County from Ken- 
tucky in 1837. He and his brother Isaac were the founders of the name in this 
country which has stood for prosperity and success. He had five children when 
he came to Illinois and settled on land which he made his home as long as he 
lived. It was on the Little Vermilion and was of great value and has been in- 
creased and added to by two generations until v now the land which is still in 
possession of his heirs, and that which they have gained, covers a large part of 
the southern part of the county. 

William Giddings was the only member of his father's family who came to 
America. He crossed the ocean and came directly to Vermilion County in 1837. 
He was like most of the men who came here, that is, not possessed of much of 
the world's goods. But he had that which is better, which is a heart full of hope 
and courage to win. He began at once working at his trade, that of journeyman. 
Soon with his savings he was able to buy his employer's business, and began the 
manufacture of wagons and plows. The plows he first made had wooden mold- 
boards. The woods were searched to find the giant shaped trees from which to 
make these boards. Later he made carriages, wagons and steel plows and made 
a fortune. He died in September, 1875. He left a family of eight children. 
His wife, who was born in the same place as he. died the year before he did. 


Her brother came with her from England, but they stopped in Massachusetts. 

John Rickart was a settler of Blount township who came in 1836 and went 
to about nine miles northwest of Danville. Mr. Rickart, with his family, came 
from Ohio in a covered wagon and bought a tract of land of Mr. Skinner which 
had some improvements already made on it. He built his family a good house 
and was well fixed for the remainder of his life. 

Malichi Mendenhall came to Carroll township in 1838 and lived the re- 
mainder of his life there in peace and quiet. He was a native of North Caro- 
lina, who spent some time in Ohio, where he was married and whence he came 
to Illinois. 

Mr. Allen Lewis came on foot all the way from his native state, New York, 
to Vermilion County in 1838. He did not walk all the way, there being some 
fourteen miles where he rode. He took up ninety-seven acres on section 22, 
and stayed six months, when he went back to his old home and remained three 
years. During this time he married and in the specified time brought his young 
wife to his Illinois home. They came to Chicago by water and thence in a prai- 
rie schooner. They stopped at near Rossville for a time, perhaps four or five 
years, then rented a hotel where he entertained the traveling public on their 
way from Milford. It was the first house of this kind in this section found to be 
of profit. Mr. Lewis filled the place as host for three or four years. Meanwhile 
he entered land, but not thinking it of much value, he sold it for $4 or $5 per 
acre. Before there was a postoffice at Rossville Mr. Lewis was made the post- 
master at a small town called Rio. The income from this office frequently was 
but $1.25 per quarter or $5 or $6 per year. Mr. Lewis was the first postmaster 
in this part of the county, and he held the office for about four years. Mr. 
Lewis assisted in the establishing of the first school and has a large part of his 
time been school treasurer. 

George Olmsted came to Vermilion County in 1839. Their son Stanley 
came with them. The father died two years after coming to this section. In 
coming west this family went down the Wabash river and up the Vermilion 
river, as far as Perrysville, thence going to what is now Batestown. They set- 
tled in that vicinity. The father, Stanley Olmsted, operated a saw-mill known 
as the Olmsted mill, and beside manufacturing lumber engaged in building flat- 
boats, that being the only mill where such boats were built, and the most of those 
used in this part of the country were built here. Mr. Olmsted was a member of 
the Masonic fraternity and a prominent and popular man in the community. 
When he died in 1848 it was considered a great loss to the county. 

In closing the list of newcomers to Vermilion County in the thirties it is with 
a regret that not more of them could be numbered therein. Many prominent 
early settlers have doubtless been omitted, for it would not be possible to name 
all. The connection is so close with the life of the next decade that many who 
are missed here will be found in the following pages, they having come a year 
or two after the time they were supposed to have come. This decade appears 
to have seen more people come into the north and west parts of the county than 
they did before. Even yet there are few in the extreme northern part, but 
these years have opened up the part of the county covered by Blount, Pilot and 
Middlefork townships. As the decade previous had witnessed the settlement of 


the southeastern part and subsequent years opened the northern part the years 
of the thirties were the time of settlement of the central and eastern part of Ver- 
milion County. At their close all parts, excepting the north and northwestern 
and a small part of the western portions, of the county have been settled. 
Cheap land is to be bought, but from individuals rather than from the govern- 
















As the period of pioneer days passed the new comers differed somewhat. 
Whereas in the Twenties and Thirties the population came from the south to 
a large extent, after that time there were many leaving the far Eastern states 
and New York who sought new homes in Vermilion County. The natural direc- 
tion of emigration is due west. The new Territory of Kentucky formed after 
the close of the French and Indian War, (in spite of the edict of the King that 
all land west of the Alleghany mountains should be reserved as a hunting ground 
for the Indians), was an overflow from Virginia, and the Northwest Territory, 
which lay within the bounds north and west of the Ohio River, was largely peo- 
pled at first by those who, for some reason, desired to leave their old homes in 
Virginia, or the Carolinas. The exception can be made in Ohio since conditions 
caused the northern part of the state an attraction to settlement. Emigration 
from the northeastern states was attracted thither. 

But it was not until after the Indians were driven from northern Illinois 
that this section was in a condition to attract settlements. When northern Illi- 
nois was open to settlement, the people came from the East to that part of the 
state and some of these found their way to central Illinois as well. This brought 
a new element into this section. However, immigration was not stopped from 








the south, although many went beyond the river to Missouri who might, a few 
years before, have been attracted to this part of Illinois. It has been a fact 
before noticed that the red man traveled from west to east, and from the north- 
west to the southeast, in seeking new locations. The white man as conspiciously 
traveled from east to west with a tendency to northwest. Among the new 
comers in 1840 there was a man whose birthplace was in New England, although 
his youth and early manhood were spent in Michigan and Indiana. This was 
Noah Hubbard, a name which has been familiar in Vermilion County for seventy 
years. He died but this last summer at the advanced age of ninety-six years. 
The youth and young manhood of Noah Hubbard was one of unusual influence 
and shows the confidence of the time when the Mormon faith was being fol- 
lowed in eastern Illinois and western Indiana. The father of Noah Hubbard 
came to Michigan when the son was five years old. He had been a farmer in 
Massachusetts, and ran a distillery and saw-mill. He lived in Michigan for two 
years and then decided to go to Indiana whither he drove with an ox-team, 
while he sent his family on the river in a log canoe. When he reached Ver- 
milion County, Indiana, he bought land and also a hemp-mill. This was the same 
year that Seymour Treat settled at the Vermilion Salt Springs, and the year 
previous to the coming of James Butler to Butler's Point and Mr. Johnson to 
Johnson's Point. 

Here this family of Hubbards lived until 1835, when the father became in- 
terested in the faith of the Mormons and went to Missouri where they were 
established before they went to Navoo in Illinois. After two years the Mor- 
mons left Missouri and came to Navoo in Illinois and Mr. Hubbard went with 
them and remained with them as long as they remained in Navoo. When the 
Mormons were driven from Illinois, Mr. Hubbard returned to his old farm in 
Vermilion County, Indiana. He was never satisfied, however, and lived there 
but two years when he and his wife went on to Salt Lake City to again live 
with the Mormons. They had but reached Council Bluffs when Mr. Hubbard 
became ill and died. The mother then came back and lived with her children. 
Meanwhile the son, Noah, had left home several years before his father went 
to the Mormons, when he was seventeen years old, and gone to Terre Haute. 
Indiana, where he worked in a tan-yard for four years, receiving his board and 
clothing for his service. When his father went to the Mormons, Noah Hubbard 
went back to the old homestead where he lived until 1840, when he came to 
Vermilion County, Illinois. 

He crossed the state line and located in Georgetown township at what is now 
known as Hubbard's Ford on Big Vermilion. This ford may have been given 
that name because of Gurdon Hubbard. There he became superintendent of a 
saw-mill at fifty cents per day, and followed that work for six years. His next 
move was to what is known as the Sprouls' farm on section 36, Georgetown 
township, where he bought the land and lived there until 1867. At that time he 
moved to the farm upon which he lived until his death this last summer. Five 
years after he moved into the county, Mr. Hubbard was married to Miss Cath- 
erine Ogden, who was the daughter of one of the early settlers of Vermilion 
County. They became the parents of six children, all but one of whom grew to 
maturity and had families of their own. Mr. Hubbard has been a great factor 


in the making of Vermilion County in the years of the latter half of the Nine- 
teenth Century. He cleared and improved his farms and made them second to 
none in the county. He was well and very favorably known. During the latter 
days of his life his home was known as one of the most attractive houses in the 

Mr. Valentine Payton came to Vermilion County in 1840 and settled first 
near where Muncie is now located. He was a shoe-maker by trade and also 
farmed his land. When the farming season was over he and his boys would 
spend their time in making shoes. Mr. Payton came from Clinton County, Ohio, 
going there from the locality known as Apple Pie Ridge in Virginia. Mr. Pay- 
ton was the father of ten children. These children and their children have been 
identified with affairs of the county for the last seventy-five years. 

Two or three of the children of Valentine Payton went to Danville and 
located. The children of these men are well known, among whom is Mr. Will 
Payton whose residence is on Logan Avenue. He is a prominent citizen of 
Danville with money interest in the West and Arkansas. Mr. Valentine Payton 
and Mr. Isaac Payton, the one of Los Angeles and the other of Spokane, are 
men of wealth along the Pacific Slope. Mr. Clark Payton lives in Chicago. 
These are the best known of the grandchildren. 

John McCarty came to Vermilion County in 1840 and located in Oakwood 
township. He came from Ohio. Mr. McCarty was a well known citizen of 
this township for forty years. He was both a constable and justice of the peace. 

Rev. James Ashmore came to Vermilion County and organized both the Mt. 
Vernon and the Mt. Pisgah churches in the year 1840. 

Oliver Lowndes Davis was one of the men who came to Vermilion County 
in the early Forties from the East. He was a native of New York City, where 
his father was a shipping merchant. Oliver Davis attended school in his native 
city and afterward went to Hamilton Academy and yet later went to the academy 
in Cannandaigua, N. Y. After he was through school he went into the service 
of the American Fur Company and continued with this company until in 1841, 
when he determined to make the West his home and he came to Vermilion 
County and settled in Danville. He had always wanted to study law and did 
so at this time. His subsequent history is such as to reckon him among the dis- 
tinguished citizens of the county. 

George M. Hooton came to Vermilion County with his father in 1842 when 
but a lad of seven and has been a citizen ever since. While a young man he did 
some farming, as most of the young men did, learned the trade of a carpenter 
and joiner at which he did some work, as well as teaching several terms of 
school. In 1876 the firm of Hankey and Hooton was formed and for many 
years it was a familiar one in Danville. After that firm ceased to exist Mr. 
Hooton did the same business under the name of Hooton & Son, which has con- 
tinued to this time. 

Francis D. Coburn, a native of New Hampshire, came to Illinois and located 
on a farm in Danville township. He had married the widow of Geo. Bocke, the 
son-in-law of Achilles Morgan, and after his residence in this county Mr. Mor- 
gan made his home with this daughter. Mr. Coburn died at his home on the 
farm in 1871. Mr. Coburn's son, George F., was a child of but two years when 

Built in 1850 


he was brought to this county. Here on the farm he grew to manhood, working 
in the fields in the summers and teaching school in the winter months. He 
began this teaching when he was nineteen years old and kept it up for five 
years. He later read law under Judge O. L. Davis, and in 1867 was admitted 
to the Illinois bar. Mr. Coburn has practiced ever since in the courts of Dan- 

(This brief sketch was written by a personal friend of Mr. Tincher soon 
after his death and no better tribute to this prominent man could be made now.) 

John L. Tincher was born in Kentucky in 1821. Eight years later his parents 
moved to Vermilion County, Indiana. When he was seventeen years old, he 
found himself an orphan, and he set to work to acquire an education. He at- 
tended school for about three years in Coles County, Illinois, and then took 
service in the store of Jones & Culbertson at Newport. In 1843 he came with 
J. M. Culbertson to Danville, and was a clerk in his store until 1853, when the 
firm of Tincher & English was formed, first as merchants and afterward as 
bankers. The First National Bank stands as a monument of their united energy, 
labor and prudence. Mr. Tincher was elected a member of the lower house of 
the general assembly of the state in 1864. In 1867 he was transferred to the 
senate, to membership in which he was re-elected in 1870. He was also 
in 1870 a member of the committee to revise the laws of the state. For many 
years Mr. Tincher's business affairs were very exacting, and in the later years 
of his life official trusts increased the demands upon his energies, and added to 
these were church and social obligations, in all, making the demands upon him 
very onerous ; the increasing strain upon his mind and body may be supposed to 
have shortened his life. In 1845 Mr. Tincher united with the Methodist Epis- 
copal church and soon afterward was chosen to occupy a subordinate clerical 
relation to the church, which relation he maintained until his death. He was 
frequently called upon to preach. Though without classical education or technical 
theological training, he was a forcible, logical and acceptable preacher. It would 
be impossible for one not endowed with superior powers of mind to meet the 
degree of success in business, in politics and in social life that attended Mr. 
Tincher. It is not an extravagance of language to say that he was a gifted man. 

The Hon. John L. Tincher died at the Revere House, Springfield, Illinois, at 
half past six o'clock, on Sunday evening the i7th of December, 1871. His 
disease was pleuro-pneumonia. During the greater part of his life he had been 
in delicate health, and as far back as 1855 it was thought that his career would 
terminate in consumption. 

In the Summer of 1869 he was attacked by apoplexy, and thenceforward, 
he complained of cerebral irregularities, and was never without apprehensions 
of a return of apoplexy. At the time of his death Mr. Tincher was in Spring- 
field attending to his duties, as senator. By common consent Mr. Tincher was 
recognized as the controlling spirit of the community. He made the poor man's 
cause his cause ; he left no one to charge him with circumvention ; he left no 
taint on his name and memory. 

Samuel A. Humphrey, M. D., was one of the early day physicians of Ver- 
milion County, being located in Danville. He was just twenty-one when he 
came, being attracted thither on account of an uncle already located in the 


county. He came from Nelson County, Kentucky, a number of whose residents 
had already come to Vermilion County. Mr. Humphreys bought a farm on 
the Blue Grass prairie when he first came and lived there a year, when he took 
up the study of medicine and afterward went to Cincinnati at the Medical school 
there from which he was graduated in 1848. He returned to Danville and began 
his practice of medicine, at the same time establishing a drug store and a dry- 
goods store also. He kept up this threefold business as long as he lived, to a 
profit. Dr. Humphrey married Miss Mary Milton, who also was born in Nel- 
son County, Kentucky, and had come to Vermilion County with her mother 
some time after her father's death and become the wife of John Partlow. Dr. 
Humphrey was a nephew of the first wife of John Johns, an early pioneer in 
Blount township. 

John Johnston was born in Mason County, Kentucky, and moved to Adams 
County, Ohio, in the latter part of the Twenties. He lived there until in 1844; 
he came on horseback to Vermilion County, Illinois, settling on the edge of the 
prairie, a mile and a half from the present site of Oakwood. While in Ken- 
tucky he worked as a farm hand for eight dollars per month and he continued 
to earn his living in that way until in 1850, when he secured three yoke of oxen, 
which he used in breaking the priarie. That fall, with the old Virginia wagon 
filled with apples he started for Chicago, peddling his fruit along the way. In 
1852 he went to Chicago with a team of horses and brought back a load of 
shingles for a neighbor. He hauled oats to Covington, where he sold them for 
ten cents per bushel. In the fall of 1852, Mr. Johnston married Mary Britting- 
ham, a daughter of A. W. and Matilda (Watson) Brittingham. 

Mr. and Mrs. Johnston began life in a primitive way. With the exception of 
a bedstead which her mother gave her, everything in the house was made by 
Mr. Johnston. He drove some wooden pins into the logs and placed some 
boards on the pins and there was a cupboard. All cooking was done in skil- 
lets or in kettles in the great fireplace and corn bread was baked upon a smooth 
board placed near the coals. 

Andrew H. Kimbrough, M. D., was born in Hardin County, Kentucky, Feb- 
ruary 27, 1823. When yet a boy he was taken by his parents to Edgar County, 
Illinois, where he received his education, as far as it went. He was determined 
to make the practice of medicine his work, so he entered the Jefferson Medical 
College, from which he was graduated in 1858. He had practiced some before 
he had finished his course of study in Paris, while yet he lived in Edgar County. 
The year he graduated he located in Georgetown, Vermilion County, and in 
1873 ne came to Danville. He practiced continuously and with favor until in 
1901, on account of failing health, he retired from active practice. 

Dr. Kimbrough was a member of most all available associations and profes- 
sional societies. Dr. Kimbrough was very prominent in the Odd Fellows fra- 
ternity of which he had been a member for more than fifty odd years. For 
sixteen years he was elected High Priest, and for many years he was a valued 
representative of the Knights of Honor. 

Dr. Kimbrough married Miss Sarah Ashmore in 1847. She was the daugh- 
ter of Amos Ashmore of Clark Countv. Her uncle was the Rev. Ashmore. 


whose name was connected with the great religious work of the early days of 
Vermilion County. 

Dr. and Mrs. Kimbrough were both people of more than usual force of 
character, and were citizens of worth wherever they made their home. They 
were the parents of three children, two daughters and one son. The daughters 
are well known in church work and socially in the county, and the son is, after 
holding many offices, at present judge of the circuit court. Judge Kimbrough 
has been mayor of Danville for one term and minority representative in the state 
legislature for two terms. He married Miss Julia Tincher, daughter of John 
Tincher, and they became the parents of one child, a son, who died in childhood. 
Mrs. Kimbrough died in 1908 and Mr. Kimbrough afterward married again. 

Joseph Bailey came from Essex County, Massachusetts, direct to Vermilion 
County, Illinois, in 1845, when he was twenty-five years old. He settled in 
Georgetown, where his brother was postmaster. He became clerk in a small 
store there for which service he received six dollars per month. He clerked 
for three years. At the end of that time Mr. Bailey went into partnership with 
his brother under the firm name of W. B. & J. Bailey. 

About this time he married Miss Sarah Ann Brachall, a daughter of Martin 
Brachall, an early settler of Vermilion County. Mrs. Bailey was born in Ver- 
milion County. After several years in this business Mr. Brachall went to In- 
dianola, where he formed a partnership with Mr. Sconce under the name of 
Bailey & Sconce, which firm dealt in general merchandise for three years, after 
which he bought a farm and remained on it for five years, meanwhile suffering 
loss from fire which destroyed his home. He then returned to Danville, where 
his children could have the advantage of good schools. During this time he was 
associated with Mr. Hall in a lumber yard in Tuscola, and also in Kansas City, 
Missouri, whither Mr. Hall removed. Mr. Bailey also dealt in land to a large 
extent, owning property in Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, as well as Illi- 
nois and Indiana. Mr. Bailey made much profit in buying and selling land. 

In 1870 he became one of a company that organized to build the Paris & 
Danville Railroad. But the company failed and sold the road to the Big Four 
and more recently it has become the property of the New York Central system. 
Mr. Bailey's loss in this road was heavy. He lived retired in Georgetown until 
1888, when he went to Kansas City to make his home, but remained only a few 
months, when he returned to Danville on account of his wife's health. Here he 
remained until his death. Mr. Bailey was the father of four children, two sons 
and two daughters. 

William I. Allen, one of the prominent men of Vermilion County, in the 
latter half of the nineteenth century, came from Ohio in 1844, and entered land 
in what is now the northwestern part of Hoopeston. It, at that time, however, 
was a tract of uncultivated land over which deers, wolves, prairie chickens and 
other wild creatures, had up to this time wandered undisturbed by man. There 
was not a tree or brush in sight, and the pioneer after building his cabin, fre- 
quently stood in his doorway and counted numbers of deer, sometimes as high 
as sixty in a herd. Mr. Allen was not married when he came here, but in 1848 
he became the husband of Miss Emily Newell, the daughter of William Newell. 
He broke his land and improved his farm, working during the summer months 


and teaching school in the winter. Mr. Allen was a man of fine classical educa- 
tion. When he graduated from his eastern college he wrote a letter home in 
Latin, which the family yet have in their possession. Finally Mr. Allen sold out 
his land to Mr. Hoopes and himself settled six miles west, where East Lynn now 
stands. By entry and purchase he acquired 3,200 acres of land which was mostly 
devoted to grazing. He built three houses and made other improvements re- 
maining there until after the breaking out of the Civil war. He enlisted in the 
I2th Illinois Infantry, which regiment was first ordered to Cairo and then to 
Paducah, Kentucky. After a little he was promoted to be the captain of his 
company, but became disabled for service and was returned home. He went 
back to his farm but in a few months bought 500 acres in the vicinity of Ross- 
ville. A few years after he sold out again and returned to the northern part 
of East Lynn. This town was located on a part of the old farm when the rail- 
road came through later. 

In 1884 Mr. Allen moved to Cherry County, Nebraska, but he lived here 
only four years, when he returned to Hoopeston, where he spent the remainder 
of his days. Mr. Allen was the father of six children. One of them, Mr. Chas. 
Allen, has been a prominent citizen of Vermilion County, where he was born 
in 1851. Mr. Charles Allen has represented Vermilion County in the state legis- 
lature for many terms and been a conspicuous member of each session. His 
home has always been in Hoopeston. Mrs. William I. Allen was the daughter 
of James Newell and was born in Kentucky, in 1824, coming to Vermilion 
County with her parents when she was but a small child. Her father was a 
prominent early settler, the township of Newell being named for him. The 
father of William Allen did not come to Illinois to settle but remained in Indiana 
as long as he lived. 

Lawrence Allen, the grandson of Mr. William Allen and son of Hon. Charles 
Allen, is at present county judge of Vermilion County. He is a practicing at- 
torney located in Danville. Mr. Charles Allen married Miss Mary Thompson, 
the daughter of L. M. Thompson. They are the parents of two sons, John 
N. and Lawrence. . 

William Allen bears the distinction of being the first settler of the northern 
part of the county. 

Herald Catlett became a resident of Vermilion County in 1846, coming to 
near Fairmount in Vance township. Mr. Catlett was born in Charlottesville, 
Virginia, and was taken to Tuscumbia, Alabama, when two years old by his 
parents, who changed their residence at that time. His father was not satisfied 
however, and in a few years he was found back in Virginia. There he remained 
until 1835, when he went on west to Ohio, and in 1846 he went on farther to 
Vermilion County, Illinois. Here he was a farmer until his death in 1861. 
He belonged to the Masonic fraternity, was a Baptist in religious faith, and a 
democrat. He was a man of charitable impulses, generous and benevolent. His 
wife survived him until 1871. They had a family of twelve children, six sons 
and six daughters. Three of these were prominent citizens of Vermilion County 
Virginia, who became the wife of Dr. Chas. Lamon, of Fairmount; Herald; 
and Hiram H., who has been a large dealer in hogs and cattle. His home is also 
in Vance township. 



Built in 1850. on North and Walnut 




Built in 1850 




The deals of these two brothers were perhaps greater than of any other per- 
son in the county at that time. Mr. Catlett not only bought and sold hogs and 
cattle but he became an extensive stock raiser. He had excellent executive 
ability, and keen business force, carrying to a successful termination anything 
he undertook. 

Mr. Catlett was not a politician, but was an earnest democrat. He never 
aspired to public office. He was a member of the Baptist church from a child 
and in which he served as deacon. 

Mr. Catlett died May i, 1902, and was buried in the Davis Cemetery in 
Vance township. He was the father of four children all of whom grew to 
womanhood and manhood, except the third child who died in infancy. 

W. C. Cowan was a valued citizen of Vermilion County, coming in 1846. 
He lived through his youth in Edgar County, his parents having come into Illi- 
nois from Indiana, when he was about three years old. He was born in 1829 
and while living in Edgar County, he was engaged helping his father in farm- 
ing and running a carding machine. When the family came to Vermilion County 
they located in Georgetown and engaged in wool-carding. This particular mem- 
ber of the family lived with his parents learning the wagon-maker's trade and 
helping in the mill until 1857, when he went to Northwest Missouri, where he 
had a carding-machine and also worked at carpentering. He stayed there but 
two years, however, and returned to Georgetown, where he worked at the car- 
penter's trade until 1862, when he opened a drug store. He was connected with 
the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Regiment for three months as sutler. Mr. 
Cowan married Miss Sarah M. Tucker, of Indiana, and they became the parents 
of six children. 

Dr. Samuel H. Vredenburgh came to Illinois in 1846 and began the practice 
of medicine at Newtown. He is one of the oldest living early settlers of the 
county, if it is permissable to call him an early settler. His memory is good 
and he has many interesting tales to tell of experiences of early day. No one 
conies so close to one as the practicing physician, and no one can paint more 
accurate pictures of conditions of living than the man who was the trusted and 
well loved family doctor. Dr. Vredenburgh was born in Indiana in 1820 and began 
life as a teacher but changed the profession when he was twenty-six years old, 
to that of medicine. He belonged to the old school of Allopathic practice and 
had a large territory over which he rode. Since he has retired from active 
practice he has made his home in Danville. The Masonic order was established 
in Vermilion County in 1846. At that time Danville was but a small village 
of perhaps 500 or 600 inhabitants, with six or eight stores. 

The Grand Lodge of the state of Illinois was organized in 1844 and that 
Olive Branch chapter should have come into being but six years later is a fact 
quite suggestive of the spirit of this locality. Olive Branch Lodge, No. 38, 
A. F. & A. M. is comparatively one of the ancient lodges of the state. The 
first Worshipful Master was W. E. Russell. John Payne was the first Senior 
Warden and John Thompson was the first Junior Warden. This order had a 
great growth for forty or more years, and its influence was for good in the 


1847 was the year that John Charles Black came to Vermilion County with 
his mother. He was but a boy of eight years of age and he made Danville his 
home during his youth and young manhood. It was from Danville he went to 
college, and in Danville lie lived after the war, in which he distinguished himself, 
was over. The subsequent career of General Black entitles him to a place in the 
list of distinguished citizens. 

Victor and Prosper LeSeure were men, prominent in the affairs of Vermil- 
ion County, coming sometime in the Forties. Victor LeSeure first located in 
Georgetown, where he remained for a while and in 1849 moved to Danville, 
where he became one of the most prosperous merchants. It was not, however, 
until after he had changed his residence to Georgetown and then back to Dan- 
ville in 1851 that he located permanently. In 1876 he entered the hardware 
business where he remained until his death. 

Mr. LeSeure married Caroline McDonald, daughter of Alexander Mc.- 
Donald, one of the prominent pioneers of Vermilion County, in 1849. They 
were the parents of five children, four daughters and one son. Mr. LeSeure 
was mayor of the city of Danville and commissioner of highways three terms. 
He was connected with many enterprises of the county, being at one time sec- 
retary, treasurer and superintendent of the Danville Gas Light Company. Mr. 
LeSeure's wife died in the Seventies and he married Mrs. Mary McDonald 
(nee Smith). 

Mr. LeSeure's oldest daughter became the wife of Charles Yoemans, his 
next daughter became the wife of Mr. Palmer, and the third daughter became 
the wife of T. W. Elliott. The youngest daughter, Callie, died in childhood. 
His son Frank LeSeure married the daughter of John Sidell, but died soon 
afterward when only thirty years old, leaving a little daughter. 

W. J. Reynolds, who was a musician coming from a training in Boston, 
organized the first brass band in the state, in 1847. A reed band had been or- 
ganized the previous year. 

Mr. Reynolds maintained a band here for thirty years, except a short time 
when the men in his band were in the war. He devoted his time to teaching 
music, and during the war there were twenty bands of which he had been leader 
in the service. Mr. Reynolds organized and led the first choir in Danville. 

R. L. Porter, M. D., was a conspicuous man in Vermilion County during his 
lifetime. He was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and came to Danville in 
1848. He was surely one of the successful men of the county. He had a large 
practice and his wife also belonged to the profession and while in Danville some- 
times did several thousand dollars of work in that line per year. Dr. Porter 
owned much land in the county, and was more or less eccentric as might be 
expected. When he felt his time to die was approaching, he asked some friend 
to take him out on his farm to a spot secluded but beautiful, which was formed 
in flat-iron shape by the two small streams of water flowing past. The spot was 
high and dry and it was there he wanted to be buried. Although away from any 
burial ground, his friends respected his wishes when he died and he lies in this 
spot away from both the living and the dead. 

A. J. Richardson was a new comer in 1848 and settled in Georgetown. He 
was born near Boston, spent his childhood in New Hampshire, and brought his 


parents to Indiana, where he spent his active manhood, coming to Vermilion 
County when he was forty-three years old. 

While in New Hampshire he learned the shoemaker's trade and took charge 
of the shop. After he came to Eugene, Indiana, he followed that trade but after 
he came into Vermilion County he spent his time as farmer and stock-raiser. 

Solomon Mosier came to Pilot township in 1848 and bought his home. He 
brought his family with him and was always known as a well posted man. The 
Mosier family has been a credit to him and has been looked up to as one of in- 
telligence, talent, and general information, in the neighborhood. Solomon Mo- 
sier died in 1871. 

Jesse Harris came to Illinois in 1848, and settled in Ross township. His 
son, a young man of twenty-one, came at the same time and worked in the employ 
of a farmer until election time when he went back to Ohio to cast his first vote 
which was given to Zachary Taylor. After he had voted he came back to Ver- 
milion County and soon had a farm rented and saved money to buy one, and, in 
time, acquired a good property. 

He served for twenty-seven consecutive years as school treasurer. 

John W. Goodwine came to Vermilion County in 1848, and settled in Blount 
township, where he bought 600 acres of good farm land. This he improved and 
began stock feeding to a large extent. From time to time he would add to his 
land until he had 6,000 acres. He was a good feeder, and would buy and feed 
cattle selling each year from 300 to 500 head from the farms. He had hogs to 
follow the cattle and from these sales he realized goodly sums. 

In 1898 he retired from the more active labor of caring for his farms and 
retired to a home in Potomac. In the many years residence in Vermilion County 
Mr. Goodwine saw the improvement go on until the great change has come, and 
where it was wild and unimproved country the farms are to the utmost stage 
of development. 

Rev. William H. Webster, D. D., came to Vermilion County in 1848 and is 
able to tell much of conditions in this section from that time to this. Rev. Web- 
ster came, an orphaned boy, with his sister who was a Methodist preacher's 
wife. She died soon after coming to this county, and her husband went away 
soon afterward leaving the lad to make his own way. He was born in New 
York state in 1835, and came west in 1848, and was left to make his way when 
he was fourteen years old. This he did by sawing wood, working in a livery 
barn, painting and in fact, doing anything he could find to do. He took care of 
fires for a lumber kiln at the corner of Vermilion and North Streets, where the 
Illinois Printing Company is now located. Across the street south, the little old 
frame building of the Methodist church stood. Here church services were held 
on Sunday and during the week school was kept by Mr. Munsell. This school 
was the beginning of the Danville Seminary. At recess time the pupils of the 
school would come over to see the lad who was attending the fires and talking 
of their studies he determined to go to school. So it was the next fall he was 
enrolled as a pupil. He worked nights and mornings and Saturdays to pay 
his expenses. Sometimes he had to stay out of school several weeks to get 
enough to pay his bills but he would go back and work harder than ever. In 
this way, working and going to school and teaching, he completed the course 


of study in the Danville Seminary, the Asbury University of Indiana and the 
Ohio Wesleyan University, where he graduated in the classical course in 1859. 
He joined the Methodist church at a camp meeting near Danville. He taught 
school at several places, among which the Seminary at Shelbyville is to be 
counted. While teaching there he was licensed to preach. In the winter of 
1858-9, he was appointed as assistant preacher on the circuit that embraced the 
northern part of Vermilion County. He preached in private houses, groves, 
barns, and in fact, any where a congregation could be drawn together. 

In 1859 ne became a member of the Illinois conference and since that time 
his work has always been under the orders of that body. His salary for one 
year was ninety dollars out of which he was obliged to in part, at least, pay his 
board. For a time he taught school to pay his expenses as pastor of a church. 
He has served as pastor of the best churches in the conference and been given 
places of importance and trust. While he has been taken away from Vermilion 
County to fill these places, he has always had more or less interest in affairs 
of the section and owned property about. 

After his term as presiding elder of the Danville district ended he was ap- 
pointed to the work of the domestic Missionary society, which he had helped to 
organize. Other work of the conference has been given him, which permits him 
to remain in his home. He has been treasurer of the board of trustees of the 
conference. Mr. Webster married Miss Augusta Robinson, the daughter of 
William Robinson, and they are the parents of but one living child, John W. 
Webster, an attorney of Danville. 

Mr. Snyder came from Ohio in 1849 and became a citizen of Pilot township. 
His daughter afterward became the wife of Mr. Charles Keesler, who came 
to this township in 1858. 

Dr. C. V. Baldwin was a prominent dentist of Danville, where he located in 
1849, coming from Henry County, Indiana. He was but fifteen years old when 
he came with his parents to Vermilion County in 1849, an d ne lived here until 
in the eighties when he changed his residence on account of poor health to Cali- 
fornia. Dr. Baldwin studied dentistry in 1866 and became skilled in the profes- 
sion and very popular. He is yet practicing the profession in Los Angeles, 
California. Dr. Baldwin's first wife was Miss Williams, the daughter of Amos 
Williams. She died not many years after they were married and his second wife 
was Miss Pierce, of Indiana. 

M. Ganor has been a well known man in Danville for many years. He came 
with his father from Long Island, where they had their home since coming from 
Ireland, in 1849. They made their journey from Chicago in wagons, hiring a 
man to bring them from Chicago to Danville for $15. Mr. Ganor had his farm 
in what is now northeast Danville and at one time was better known as 

In 1849 John Lawrence came to Vermilion County and located in George- 
town. He was a mechanic and brought his family with him. His son W. R. 
Lawrence was better known in Vermilion County than was his father. He was 
but nine years old when his father came to Vermilion County, and located in 
Georgetown and he received his education at the Georgetown Seminary. In 
1862 he enlisted as private for three years and was promoted until he reached 



the rank of First Lieutenant. In 1864 he resigned and came back to Vermilion 
County. He -then went to Bloomington, where he began the study of law with 
Tipton and Benjamin, and in 1868 he was admitted to the bar. He went to 
Boonesville, Iowa, and began the practice of law, coming to Danville in 1873, 
where he located and rapidly rose in his profession. Mr. Lawrence lived in Dan- 
ville until he received the appointment which took him to Oklahoma where he 
has remained ever since. 

R. W. Cowan, druggist, of Georgetown, is the brother of W. C. Cowan, and 
came to Vermilion County at the same time with his father and the other mem- 
bers of the family. He enlisted in the Seventy-third Illinois Regiment, and was 
in the battle of Perrysville. He was discharged from the army because of ill 
health after six months and returning to Georgetown engaged in the grocery 
business. He afterward tried all lines of mercantile work and at the last settled 
on the drug store. 

In 1850 the Danville Seminary was incorporated under the provision of the 
law passed by the legislature of 1849, permitting citizens to be incorporated for 
the purpose of establishing institutions of learning. This school was the out- 
growth of the one taught in the Methodist church, which was the only institu- 
tion of learning where more than primary studies could be taken. Without the 
later established public schools there was no place nearer than the Georgetown 
Seminary or the Vermilion Grove Academy, where the youth of this section 
could secure any training in books. This institution was handicapped from the 
first by being made denominational. The incorporators were many of them, 
and indeed in the majority, members of the Methodist church and the articles 
of incorporation provided that a majority of the trustees should be from that 
church, and that the teachers should be appointed by its authority. Education 
and educational institutions to reach the highest results must recognize no limits 
of church or politics. An independent school would have been much better 
at that time since this drawing of the denominational line engendered a strong- 
partisan spirit and when that creeps into anything young people have to do 
with there are bitter feelings aroused which do not so readily disappear. That 
this school was well conducted there is no doubt, yet much of the after division 
in the sentiment of those in business and social lines may be traced back to the 
bitter quarrels among the children who went to school at that time and were 
compelled to take sides in the church differences which followed. 

The board of trustees selected two acres of land just north of the west end 
of Main street as it was then. Upon his land the two-story building was put up. 
This building now faces Pine street, a little north of Main street. This school 
was the only institution of higher learning in Danville for a year. 

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows were granted a charter for their 
lodge in Danville, July 25, 1850. The charter members were John L. Tincher, 
Samuel Frazier, J. B. Gilbert, Joshua Hollingsworth and H. J. C. Batch. 

The Higginsville postoffice was established in 1850. 

The Vermilion County Agricultural and Mechanical Association was or- 
ganized in 1850. The first fair was held at Danville, and was where the Pres- 
byterian church now stands on the corner of North and Franklin streets. The 
officers were elected, the fair was held and the premiums awarded, all in the 


same day. There was no gate fare charged and only $40 paid in premiums. 
This amount must have been realized from the license charged to those who kept 
stands on the grounds. The second fair was held down on the bottoms near the 
"old red bridge." 

Abel Wolverton came to Vermilion County in 1850 and entered 160 acres 
of land being the N. E. one-fourth section 18, town 23, range n. He soon 
bought 160 acres more and then increased this amount to 400 acres. The fol- 
lowing year his family came and occupied the land. In the family was a son 
of fifteen, who was to be a strong factor in the development of the northern 
part of the county. Charles Wolverton learned the carpenter's trade before 
and during the war. He enlisted in Company H, joth Illinois Volunteers. This 
regiment did duty most of the time of their enlistment at Camp Butler, Spring- 
field, and at Alton. They did garrison duty at Alton and furnished numerous 
details for guarding prisoners. Mr. Wolverton rose to rank of Colonel. Since 
the war Mr. Wolverton has been conspicuous in business and politics. He is a 

When Henry B. Kester was three years old he was taken by his parents from 
West Virginia to Morrow County, Ohio, and when he was twenty-two years 
old he came to Vermilion County, Illinois. He had his trade of carpenter 
before he came and went directly to work in building. His work increased to 
such an extent that he employed many men to help him get out his contracts. 

Mr. Kester was married to a girl from his childhood home in 1853. H C 
continued working at his trade until the Civil war broke out. Then he joined 
Company E, 149111 Illinois Regiment under the command of Captain Laferty and 
Colonel W. C. Kifner. 

This company did garrison duty until the close of the war and at Dalton, 
Georgia, on the 2/th of January, 1866, Mr. Kester was honorably discharged. 
The rest of Mr. Kester's life has been spent in the filling of his duty, as an 
honest citizen. 

Mr. Abner Warner came to Vermilion County in 1850 and herded cattle on 
the prairies. These he drove across the country to the Philadelphia markets. 
Later he located in Vermilion County and he died in Rossville in 1888. The 
two children of this family are well known, particularly the elder brother, 
Charles W. Warner. Charles Warner went with his parents from his birth- 
place to near Crawfordsville, Indiana, and went to school there. He then went 
into a printing office in Rossville, after which he taught school for awhile. 
When he had finished his last school he went into the office of the Hoopeston 
Chronicle, which at that time was owned by Dale Wallace. Here he remained 
for three years. Mr. Warner bought the Hoopeston Chronicle in 1882, since 
which time he has been editor and owner of the paper. He was appointed, or 
rather elected, because of the number of candidates, postmaster of Hoopeston 
in 1889 and has continued in office ever since, with the exception of Cleve- 
land's administration. 

Mr. Warner is recognized as the leader in the republican ranks in the north 
end of the county. His extensive political, business and social relations have 
given him a large acquaintance and he is favorably known. 


John L. Stewart was a well esteemed citizen of Vermilion County for thirty 
years coming in 1851 and locating in Newell township on a tract of wild land, 
twelve miles northeast of Danville. He was a native of New York state, but 
spent his youth in Indiana. He lived on his 260 acres in Newell township until 
1879, wnen he sold and went west on account of poor health. He located on 
a farm in Oregon near Portland, but stayed only three years, when he re- 
turned and lived in Bismarck until he died in 1882. 

A. LeSeure came to Georgetown in 1851 and began selling groceries, the 
firm being LeSeure and Probst. This continued for two years when Mr. Probst 
sold out to the other partner and Mr. LeSeure continued the business until in 
1861 he enlisted in the 7th Illinois Cavalry, and was in service until the close 
of the war. His regiment was in several battles. 

Steven Brothers was born in Ohio. He was trained to be a farmer and a 
blacksmith. He came to Vermilion County in 1855, coming first to Bloomfield 
and then to Danville, where he worked as a blacksmith. He has gone back to 
Ohio and also to New York and as well to Nebraska, but he has always come 
back to Illinois. Mr. Brothers was in Company I under Captain Vinson. He 
was second lieutenant. At the battle of Perrysville, he was knocked over with a 
ball but was not injured. 

John McFarland was known as one of the best farmers of Oakwood town- 
ship, while he lived. He came from Ohio, and married a Miss Oxford, in 
Perrysville, Indiana. They had four children. After Mrs. McFarland died 
he came to Illinois. In 1856 Mr. McFarland married the widow of Aaron Dai- 
bey. The McFarland farm was a landmark for many years, and even yet 
when it has changed hands, that farm is- pointed out to strangers as the Mc- 
Farland farm. 

The Union Seminary was a joint stock company that was organized in 1851 
by citizens who were not members of the church which controlled the other in- 
stitution of learning. The trustees were L. T. Palmer, A. D. Sconce, S. G. 
Craig, Guy Merrill and Hamilton White. They secured good grounds in what 
was the north part of town and built a good building on it. The building was 
on the site of the Kimbrough home, at the corner of Vermilion and Seminary 
streets. There were about three acres around the building. 

The course of study and instruction of one school was about the same as that 
of the other, but it was impossible for the pupils to believe this and so the chil- 
dren wasted their emotions in bitterness of jealousy and there was at times war 
over the conditions of education in Danville. Memories of discord have not 
yet left the hearts and brains of the men and women who were a part to all this 
strife in their childhood. 

In 1862 the common school system was adopted in Danville and that did 
away with these rivals and stopped the ill feeling. 

James H. Miller so long the tax collector for the county was born in Vir- 
ginia, and came to Ohio in 1846 staying there for about six years, when he 
came to Vermilion County and located at Danville. He accumulated property 
and had by reason of his energy, honesty and good qualities, enjoyed the con- 
fidence of the community. For twenty years and more he held the office of 
tax collector and part of the time was also assessor of Danville township. 


All the revenue derived from taxation passed through his hands. Mr. Miller 
was left an orphan when a small boy, and his sole income was seventy-five 
cents per week, he paying his own expenses out of this sum. When his latter 
life of comfort and ease is considered, together with the statement of his early 
privations, it seems a wonderful country which can help a boy to succeed in this 
way. Mr. Miller married a daughter of John Johns and was the father of two 
boys, one only of whom lived to manhood. 

In 1852 William Hess came to Vermilion County with his father's family, 
and settled at Brooks Point. He lived with his parents until the death of his 
mother in 1854, after which he worked around on farms, going into Champaign 
County and farmed for himself for three years. In 1861 he married Miss 
Jane Clifton, who was born in this county. He left Champaign County and com- 
ing back to Vermilion settled near Georgetown, where he remained. 

John Cage came to Vermilion County when he was a young man of about 
twenty years old, coming in 1852 to take charge of the Denmark mill. He mar- 
ried Miss Kerr of the old home town in 1868, and rented the McCarty farm in 
Georgetown township. He remained here for two years when he bought a farm 
of his own, which he improved and upon which he remained. 

The Vermilion County Agricultural Society was organized in 1852, at Dan- 
ville. After its first fair it located grounds at Catlin. Hon. J. H. Oakwood was 
from the first its most determined and energetic promoter. 

Thomas Hoopes, the founder of Hoopeston, came to Vermilion County in 
1853. He had made a success of living in Ohio and had a farm with all improve- 
ments to be desired in that state but he came to Illinois to look at the prospects 
of the country. It would seem that an eight hundred acre farm near Marion, 
Ohio, would have all the best possible conditions for any one, but it appears he 
was attracted to the newer country and turned with interest, if not longing, 
toward the natural grazing lands of the prairies of the northern part of Ver- 
milion County. 

That he was satisfied with conditions and the prairie called him with force, 
is indicated by the fact that he bought 480 acres of land from Mr. W. I. Allen 
on which he established his new home. This land lay northwest of the present 
site of Hoopeston, crowning a hill on the old Chicago road. As time passed Mr. 
Hoopes added to his land until he had seven or eight thousand acres. He became 
the most extensive stock raiser in this part of the country sending his product 
to the eastern markets, and spending his profits for more land. In July, 1871, 
the tracks of the C. & E. I. R. R. were laid across his farm and the year fol- 
lowing the Lake Erie & Western was running trains. Mr. Hoopes saw the op- 
portunity to build a town of importance at the crossing and at once had his 
farm platted and sold it for town lots. He later sold one thousand acres of his 
farm to the firm of Snell and Taylor, who platted it and sold it for town lots. 
After that Mr. Hoopes did not do much save to oversee his invested interests. 
He traveled much in search of health for his wife. Mrs. Hoopes died in 1886 
and Mr. Hoopes survived her until 1893. 

Joseph G. English, who for years was one of the leading citizens of Dan- 
ville, came to Vermilion County in 1853. He came into the Wabash Valley with 
his father's family when he was but nine years old and made their home in 








Perrysville, Indiana. He began earning his living when he was fourteen years 
old, going into the service of the firm of Taylor and Linton of La Fayette, 
Indiana. He remained here for three years. He was employed to sweep out 
the store and do odd work about and on market days he had to get up by three 
or four o'clock in the morning to get ready for the Dunkards who took advantage 
of the early hours to do their marketing. His wage for such service was his 
board and clothing. But the discipline was good for him and besides the knowl- 
edge he gained of mercantile matters, he learned to control himself and acquired 
habits which stood him in good place in after years. After he had been with 
this firm for five years it failed and he went back to Perrysville, and secured 
a place in a general store, where he received a salary of forty dollars per month. 
Inside of three years he had saved four hundred dollars and he determined to 
settle down and marry. He married the daughter of Mr. Hicks, a pioneer of 
Perrysville, who had a fine property. In 1844 Mr. English went into partner- 
ship with his father-in-law, under the firm name of Hicks and English. Their 
stock consisted of everything possibly needed and they were always the market 
for any produce there was to sell. This produce was shipped down the Wabash 
river to the Ohio and then either to Cincinnati or on down the Ohio to the Mis- 
sissippi to New Orleans. Since this produce was carried on flat boats many 
times Mr. English, as a young man, became one of the oarsmen. In 1853 Mr. 
English came to Danville, having sold out his store in Perrysville. He at once 
began a partnership with John L. Tincher, which was ended only by death. 
Mr. Tincher had married a sister of Mr. English's wife, so they were bound 
by other ties than those of business. 

This general store was a profitable venture but the firm was made the as- 
signees of the Stock Security Bank, a wild-cat institution, which was forced into 
bankruptcy in the panic of 1856-7. It was then that the general store of Tincher 
& English was disposed of and the entire attention of the firm was given to the 
bank. They gradually began transacting a brokerage and exchange business 
which grew into a private bank. 

In 1863 the National Bank bill passed congress and these gentlemen sought 
a charter and organized a national bank. Mr. English was made president of 
this bank and continued in that position until 1899. During these years Mr. 
English has been very active in the commercial and industrial life of Danville. 
He invested largely in land throughout the county and had much profit from his 
real estate deals. Mrs. (Hicks) English died in 1864, having been the mother of 
seven children. In 1865 Mr. English married Mrs. Partlow, a widow with two 
children. By this wife Mr. English became the father of two children, only one 
of whom lived to grow to manhood. This second wife died in 1886 and in 1899 
Mr. English again married, this time it was to Mary E. Forbes, the widow of 
Thomas Forbes, and daughter of William Hessey, a pioneer of Vermilion 

Mr. English was very prominent in the affairs of the Methodist Episcopal 
church and almost by his own effort organized the second church in Danville, 
better known as Kimber Methodist church. He lived retired the last years 
of his life, having met reverses in money matters and suffered failing health. 
Mr. English died in the spring of 1909. 


Mr. A. G. Webster was a merchant in Danville for thirty odd years, coming 
in 1853 with a small stock of dry goods from La Fayette, Indiana. He continued 
in 'the dry goods business until 1856, when he sold out his stock and set up a 
grocery store. His birth place was St. Albans, Vermont. He spent his life in 
Danville from 1853 to the time of his death which occurred in about 1907. 

C. D. Henton came to Vermilion County in 1853 having spent his earlier 
life in Fountain County, Indiana. He located in Myersville, where he practiced 
his profession until 1872, when he came to Danville, where he remained as long 
as he lived. Dr. Henton married a Miss Gundy, sister to Andrew and Francis 

Asa H. Guy came to Vermilion County in 1853, and located in Georgetown, 
where he taught school. Mr. Guy was elected surveyor of Vermilion County by 
the republicans in 1855. This office he held, off and on for twenty-five or thirty 
years. He has laid out and surveyed the villages of Fairmount, Catlin, a part of 
Hoopeston and as well Paxton and other towns. In 1862 Mr. Guy was ap- 
pointed assistant revenue assessor, which office he held until 1865. Mr. Guy 
was the father of seven children. His oldest son, Charles V. Guy was for many 
years superintendent of county schools, and afterward in the abstract office. 
His younger son, J. Milton, M. D., has been a successful physician in Danville, 
whose practice extends throughout the county. Dr. Guy is one of the leading 
physicians of the city and it is right to say county as well. He is a progressive 
practitioner and ranks with the best. 

George A. Fox was closely identified with the local politics of Oakwood 
township. He came from Pennsylvania in 1853 directly to Vermilion County, 
Illinois. The year following his coming to Oakwood township he bought 240 
acres of land, where he lived until his death. In the following November Mr. 
Fox was married to Margaret Oakwood, the youngest daughter of Henry Oak- 
wood. They were the parents of six children, all of whom have taken their 
places in the world with credit. When he came to Vermilion County he drove 
a flock of sheep. 

Mr. Fox was elected justice of the peace in 1856 and served in that capacity 
until 1870. He was supervisor for four years. He was the first supervisor of 
Oakwood township. In Vance township he was assessor and collector for three 
years. He was school director for many years and as well was school trustee 
for three years. He was a member of the Methodist church for many years 
and was class leader for some time. 

Peter Byer the man with whom a pair of shoes is always associated, came 
from Germany. He stopped in Rochester on his way to learn something more 
about shoes. He then started for Vermilion County with the expectation of 
buying land. Before he could get there however, the bank in which he had his 
money failed as banks too often did in those days, and Mr. Byer was penniless. 
Nothing remained for him then but to go to work with his trade of shoemaking. 
He did this but did not have to depend upon such work for long, for as time 
passed he not only did not have to do the drudgery of shoe making but he 
accumulated much valuable property. Mr. Byer had some difficulty before he 
died, but he was always well esteemed by his neighbors and when he died 
there were many to mourn the loss of the citizen whom everybody liked. 


John McMahan came to Danville in 1854. He followed his trade as a black- 
smith until about 1870. Squire McMahan was well known and well liked. 
He had a wide influence and died a well honored citizen of the community. In 
1869 he was elected mayor of Danville and in 1872 he was elected justice of the 
peace and police magistrate, both of which offices he held for many years. 

John Kilborn came to Danville in 1854 after a life of more than usual prefer- 
ment in Ohio. He was almost forty years old when he came to Illinois and was 
well able to take his place as a leader at once. He was intersted in land specula- 
tion and gave his entire time to this. 

Mr. Kilborn built and improved the house long known as the Hooton place, 
and in 1862 moved on his farm in Danville township. 

In 1854 Jacob Yapp moved his harness and trunk factory from Cuba, New 
York, to Georgetown, Illinois, under the firm name of Yapp & Co. This firm 
continued one year when Mr. Yapp bought out the business and formed a part- 
nership with James Jackson, which continued until Mr. Jackson's death, when 
Mr. Yapp took sole charge of it until 1861. He then gave it up and gave all 
his attention to the hotel business, which he had opened three years before. 
He also ran the hack line from Danville to Paris, also having charge of the 
mail route. In 1864 he was elected justice of the peace; in 1868 he became a 
hardware merchant. 

James H. Phillips, who has probably resided in Danville longer than any 
other person not a native of the state of Illinois, was born in Sussex County, 
Delaware, September 22, 1832. In 1850 just as he was about to enter Delaware 
College from the preparatory school at Newark, Mr. Phillips, by reason of an 
unfortunate venture in a cargo of coffee bought in Rio de Janeiro by the super- 
cargo of a barque belonging to his father, was compelled to give up all hope 
of a collegiate education, and return home and to work. Four years thereafter, 
through the kindly influence of Levin T. Palmer, now deceased, and the loan 
of twenty-five dollars, by a friend, in his native town, Mr. Phillips, after a five 
days' journey from Baltimore, Maryland, by rail, canal and stage coach, arrived 
at Danville, November 20, 1854, and at once entered the employ of Tincher 
& English, as their bookkeeper. On the night of his arrival in Danville accom- 
panied by Mr. Palmer, Mr. Phillips called at the store and before leaving, Mr. 
Tincher said, "Do you wish to go to work in the morning, or look around the 
town ?" The reply promptly came : "I want to begin my duties at once." In 
May, 1860, Mr. Phillips was appointed agent for Danville of the Home Fire 
Insurance Company of New York, and he enjoys the enviable distinction of 
being in one business the longest continuous number of years of any business 
man in the city, if not in the entire state of Illinois. The Danville agency is 
712 and its company now has probably 15,000 agencies. The Home Insurance 
Company, was, at that time, only seven years old. 

Mr. Phillips has a silver and also a gold medal from the Home, denoting 
twenty-five and afterward fifty years of continuous service as local agent. 
There are no other gold medals of that company in Illinois, and only five in the 
entire United States. Mr. Phillips also enjoys the distinction of being the long- 
est continuous Building and Loan Association manager in Danville and doubt- 
less in the entire state. His career in that branch of his business dates from 


November, 1873, and he only resigned the office of secretary of the Danville 
Building Association, in favor of his son Samuel Frazier Phillips, in January, 
1910. Mr. Phillips was made a Mason in 1856 by William E. Russell, then 
Master of Olive Branch lodge in this city. By reason of the death of Mr. 
Russell, Mr. Phillips by special dispensation of the Grand Master of Masons 
in this state, was elected Master of Olive Branch lodge, having never been 
elected a Warden. This was in 1858. Mr. Phillips doubtless enjoys the dis- 
tinction of being the oldest living' Past Master Mason in Illinois, whose first 
election as Master of a lodge dates as early as 1858. During the Civil War and 
after the office of Internal Revenue Collector Eighth Congressional District, 
comprising the counties of Vermilion, Iroquois, Ford, Champaign, Piatt, Macon, 
Moultrie, Cumberland, Douglas, Coles and Edgar was located in this city, Mr. 
Phillips was Deputy Collector, under W. T. Cunningham, collector. 

Soon after the I5th of April, 1865, Mr. Phillips, as well as other employees 
of the U. S. government wore by order of the commissioner of Internal Revenue, 
a band of black crepe on the left arm for thirty days in commemoration of the 
death of President Lincoln. 

November 24, 1859, Mr. Phillips was married to Miss Angeline, daughter 
of Captain Samuel Frazier. To that union were born the following named 
children : Annie Laurie, Jennie Louisa, Edwin Frazier, Frank Chipman, Leona, 
Florence Josephine, Samuel Frazier, and Corinne Angeline. November 27, 
1909, these highly esteemed people celebrated the close of fifty years of wedded 
life surrounded by their children, fourteen grandchildren, and two hundred 
friends, many of them of the long ago. Mr. Phillips at this date, December 
3, 1910, enjoys robust health, and spends from six to eight hours daily in the 
Insurance and Building Association office of Phillips, Snapp & Espencheid, of 
vvhich firm he is yet an active member. 

Joseph M. Satterthwait was another of the new comers of 1854. He settled 
on a farm near Rossville in Vermilion County. He was the third postmaster of 

In 1862 he moved into Indiana and settled near Indianapolis, where he re- 
mained for ten years when he returned to Illinois and settled at Hoopeston. 
where he lived up to the time of his death on September 21, 1877. Mr. Satter- 
thwait left four daughters, all of whom were settled in homes of their own. He 
lived a strict member of the Society of Friends. 

W. R. Nesbitt came to Vermilion County in 1855, and starting with little 
of this world's goods he accumulated a good farm. He has been engaged in the 
fruit culture to a greater extent than any other man of recent years. Mr. Nes- 
bitt has been prominent in the Holiness movement of the county, which has 
resulted in the establishment of the institution of learning located at Georgetown. 

Asa M. Bushnell, the Bismarck merchant and moneyed man of Vermilion 
County, came with his parents to Vermilion County while yet a small boy in 
about 1855. They first settled in Newell township, but after a few years moved 
back to Cook County, returning to Vermilion County in a few years when they 
settled in Rossville. In 1873 he began his career as a merchant. He afterward 
went to Bismarck, where he was subsequently postmaster and in a general 
merchandise store in partnership with Mr. Francis M. Gundy. 



Mr. Spencer N. Monroe opened a jewelry store in a small frame house on 
the southwest corner of the plaza in 1855. From here he went to No. 67 West 
Main street. Here he remained as a fixture of the street, others coming and 
going around him, but his store was the same for many years, until his death. 

Peter Walsh, another well known citizen of Danville, came in this same 
year of 1855. He came from New York city, an orphan seeking friends. He 
enlisted in the Union army in 1861 and served three years doing good service. 
He was in Company K, Thirty-seventh Illinois Volunteers. After the close 
of the war he studied law, attending the law school at Ann Arbor, Michigan, 
and was admitted to the bar in 1867. While studying he was in the office of 
Mark Hawes. Mr. Walsh was popular and held several offices of trust. He 
was city attorney, for five terms and states attorney for the county. 

Danville had a new city charter in 1855. 

The Newell Horse Company was organized in 1854 and held its first quar- 
terly meeting in October of that year. This company was composed of many 
of the best citizens of Newell township. The earliest records have been de- 
stroyed. The object and purpose of this organization are expressed in the 
preamble to the constitution as follows : "to shield us from the depredations of 
horse-thieves, counterfeiters, and swindlers, and to afford mutual assistance in 
reclaiming stolen horses and in apprehending thieves." 

Up to this time there had been much trouble in this part of the county on ac- 
count of horse-thieves a man's property was always in peril. Just over in In- 
diana there was a nest of horse-thieves who combined counterfeiting with this 
other breaking of the law. A combination against them was imperative. To 
this end John Deck, Sr., George Lucky and a few other men who had suffered 
from them and vainly had urged other men to organize some means of protec- 
tion, made a compact, pledging themselves to assist to protect one another. Soon 
others were attracted to the compact and when the number reached twenty-five, an 
organization was effected at a meeting at the Navoo schoolhouse, a constitu- 
tion and by-laws was adopted and officers elected. This body grew in number 
and efficiency until it became a standing menace to the depredators and a val- 
uable protection to the law-abiding citizens of the community. Counterfeiting 
presses were captured, stolen property was recovered, and horse-thieves and 
counterfeiters ferreted out and apprehended. The gang which infested this 
country was broken up and one of their number was so thoroughly overawed 
(his name was Lane) that whenever he was asked for information he gave it so 
completely as to convict his associates. He afterwards moved to another county 
where he and his son became notorious as counterfeiters and thieves and were, 
both of them, killed. One case of summary execution is on record of the early 
days of this organization. A horse had been stolen; the thief was overtaken 
at Beaver Lake, and he was about to escape. Abiah Lucky could not bear to see 
him get away so he snatched a fowling piece from the hands of a gamester 
among the crowd and commanded a halt on the part of the man pursued. This 
demand was not heeded and Mr. Lucky shot him on the spot, killing him 

The meeting places of this organization were at the Navoo schoolhouse at 
first and later at the Rutledge schoolhouse and yet later at the Smith school- 


house. This organization was one of forty-eight similar ones, all belonging to 
the Wabash general association of detective companies. These companies saved 
property and life at a time when nothing else could do so. 

J. E. Tuttle became a resident of Vermilion County in 1856, locating at 
Myersville. He began the study of medicine with Dr. Henton there, in 1862, 
and three years later became a graduate of Rush Medical College. He re- 
turned to Vermilion County and began practice at Blue Grass. Here he re- 
mained until 1869 when 'he went to Myersville, practicing there until 1874 
when he went to Danville, where he lived the rest of his life. 

H. M. Kimball was one of the men who came from New England and made 
his home in Vermilion County. He was a native of New Hampshire spending 
the early part of his life in that state. He came to the middle states and did 
some construction work on the railroads in 1856. A great part of this was the 
stone piers and abutments of the Wabash railroad at Danville. He located 
here and superintended that work and when it was complete, he established 
the first marble works at Danville. He later went into the grocery business and 
yet later kept a furniture store. He accumulated much property and later in 
life retired and enjoyed his last years without work. Mr. Kimball died in 1907 
leaving his wife and one daughter, who had become the wife of W. R. Jewell, 
Jr. Another new comer in 1856 was Mr. J. H. Palmer, who made Danville his 
home, coming from New York. These two men came from the east and several 
came to the county from the South, among whom was J. P. Cloyd, coming from 
Tennessee. He taught school for six years, when he read medicine and attended 
lectures at Rush Medical College, graduating and settling at Georgetown, where 
he practiced his profession ever since. He married Miss Hannah Golden, a 
native of Vermilion County. 

Joseph McClure came to Vermilion County, a miller and ground the first 
grist in the Henderson and Kyger mill. He later was with the firm of M. M. 

Mr. A. C. Daniel was one of the most prominent men in Vermilion County 
for many years. He was identified with the coal interests of the section dur- 
ing its most prosperous period more conspicuously than any other man unless, 
perhaps, Michael Kelley. 

Mr. Daniel was born in Roxbury, New York, in 1835, and was a young 
man of twenty-two, when he came to Illinois, locating in Danville. His entire 
possessions at that time was an extra suit of clothing and $2.50 in money. 

The coal mine attracted him from the first, and he worked in every depart- 
ment so that his knowledge of the coal interests was practical to the extreme. 
Mr. Daniel accumulated wealth and died not only a rich but a very influential 
man. He married the daughter of L. T. Palmer. 

Raymond W. Hanford was a popular citizen of Danville, as lawyer, editor 
and politician. He came to Danville in 1856 and was a poor boy. He was 
born in Ohio. He was obliged to leave home when but fifteen years old to 
learn the printer's trade. He studied law under the instruction of J. M. Les- 
ley, after he came to Danville, and was admitted to the bar in 1859. He re- 
sponded to the first call for troops from the government, enlisting for 
three months, and when the term of service was over he reenlisted for 


three years. He remained with his regiment during all this time, returning 
in 1864 to Danville and went into partnership with H. W. Beckwith in the 
practice of law. He was elected county judge in 1868 and held that office for 
more than ten years. 

William Mann, the merchant, came from Philadelphia, about this time, lo- 
cating in Danville. In 1861 he enlisted in the Twelfth Illinois Volunteer Infan- 
try, Company C, first for three months, and after the term was ended he re- 
enlisted for the remainder of the service. He was in the army until the close 
of the war when he returned and again became a merchant with a line^of 
dry goods, remaining in this business the remainder of his life. 

In 1857 Abraham Gernand settled in Danville and for a year and a half 
was in the lumber business. In the spring of 1859 he bought 320 acres of land 
two miles north of Rossville and later added to this farm until the farm became 
one of value. 

John Leemon came to this county in 1857, locating on a \\\ acre farm of 
unimproved land near Mr. Hoopes in the northern part of Vermilion County. 
He lived here alone, improving his farm and boarding at Mr. Hoopes. 

John Beard has been a conspicuous citizen of Vermilion County during the 
years he has resided here. He came here when but a boy, and as soon as he 
had reached the years that warranted it he became a merchant giving his. at- 
tention to the grocery trade. Growing ever of more and more influence, Mr. 
Beard had the community dominated and turning his attention to politics, he 
was before long the leader of his party. It was through the influence of Mr. 
Beard that the democratic party grew in power and Danville became a demo- 
cratic town. Mr. Beard was a shrewd politician and had a faculty of turning 
the desires of men his way. He possessed all the characteristics of a successful 
politician and held the city of Danville in his power for years. Only poor health 
and at last complete failure of strength weakened his power. He has become a 
confirmed invalid. 

Leonard Myers came to Vermilion County in 1858, and began dealing in 
stock, having a farm. This he kept up for about five years -when he moved to 
Danville and began the butchering trade. At the same time he continued buy- 
ing and selling stock, horses being the particular line he most favored. He 
shipped many carloads to the east. He was more than a decade in the office 
of marshal of the city of Danville and was a very well known citizen of this 

Mr. Myers was very well liked by every one and the police department of 
the city was apparently his permanent care. Mr. Myers spent his remaining life 
in Danville after he located here. 

Joseph Shipner came to Danville in 1858 and hardly became settled before 
he entered the army as volunteer. Mr. Shipner was in the service during the 
war and upon his return he became superintendent of Mr. Bowers' mill. 

After filling this position for eleven years he and his son formed a partner- 
ship and became merchants, taking the line of groceries. 

T. H. Myers, the express agent, was very popular because of his suave man- 
ners notwithstanding he had but minority influence in his politics. Mr. Myers 
came from Virginia and located in Danville at a time when southern ideas and 


institutions were not at all popular with the majority of people. Mr. Myers 
opened a grocery store when he first came to Danville and later became the agent 
for the U. S. Express company and yet later of the American Express company. 

Fred Buy is yet a grocer who came in 1858. He had been but one year's 
distance from Prussia, when he came and worked for five years in the Danville 
Woolen mills. He then began clerking in a dry goods store where he remained 
for a year, then went into the grocery store of E. B. Martin & Company. His 
experience as clerk taught him the business and he has had a grocery store of his 
own for these last years, where he has made a comfortable living. 

Harry Raimer is now starting to change his residence which has for thirty- 
two years been in Danville, Illinois. He came here in 1858 and has resided here 
continuously, ever since. He was a tailor and has for more than a quarter of 
a century made clothing for many of the men of Danville and vicinity. Mr. 
Raimer leaves this winter, with his wife for the Pacific slope to make his home. 
His one daughter lives in Oregon, and his son lives in Danville. Mr. Raimer 
married Miss Caroline Payton, granddaughter of Mr. Valentine Payton, Sr. 

Bryon Haggard was a favorite merchant in the sixties and early seventies 
in Danville. He was residing in LaFayette, Indiana, when in 1858 he was 
offered a position in the store of Mr. Moore at Danville, which he accepted 
arriving in his new home in 1858. Mr. Moore sold out in a few years and Mr. 
Haggard went into partnership with Mr. Miller. The firm of Miller & Hag- 
gard confined their line to boots and shoes and continued until 1861, when they 
were burned out. But they were plucky and rented a small store room and put 
in a new stock of boots and shoes, which increased and when after a short 
time Mr. Miller went out of the firm, Mr. Hagagrd continued the business as 
long as he lived. Mr. Haggard died in 1872, leaving a family of four daughters 
as well as his wife. 

Charles Keesler came to Vermilion County in 1858 and established his new 
home in Pilot township. He yet lives there a retired farmer of means. His son 
has been prominent in politics and he himself was for some time the chairman 
of the board of supervisors. 

James Knight came to Danville in 1858, being interested in work for the 
Wabash railroad. He was conductor for a number of years and finally located 
in Danville, being station agent for that railroad. Later he was interested in 
the boot and shoe business and then in buying and selling real estate, but he gave 
up all business for several years before his death. In 1860 Mr. Knight married 
Miss Elizabeth Probst, and they were the parents of three children, one son and 
two daughters. Mr. Knight died in 1900. In 1858 James Hoover came to the 
eastern edge of Vermilion county, where he located in Stateline. He there was 
in the building trade and remained there until 1871, when he changed his resi- 
dence to Ross township, where he had a farm of 160 acres, upon which he lived 
and which he improved until he retired to Alvin in 1899. 

Among the new comers of 1859, one in particular is to be counted, who was 
a man well known at home and away during the years of rapid development of 
Vermilion County in the seventies and eighties and indeed until his death. 
So prominent a citizen was he that he has been chosen as a distinguished citizen 
and will be considered in the chapter devoted to them. 








Dr. J. M. Wilkin began his career as a practitioner in Vermilion County, in 
1859, settling in Conkeytown. There he remained until 1863 when he went to 
Fairmount, where he resided until 1880, when he moved to Kansas. He made 
several moves after this and returned to Fairmount in 1901 and again took up 
his practice in Vermilion County. 

N. A. Kimball became a resident of Vermilion County in 1859. His home 
was in New Hampshire, and he came to work for Colonel Chandler, who needed 
some one to act as weigh-master in the coal mines. He worked at this for 
some time and then for three years was farming, after which he engaged in 
various enterprises until in 1872 he formed a partnership with Chas. W. Mor- 
rison, and went into the furniture trade. They did business together for two 
years and Mr. Kimball sold out and four months later took the stock of coffins 
and from that time on carried on a business of selling coffins. He kept up 
this business until his death. 

The Farmers and Mechanics Institute was organized in 1859 and held an- 
nual fairs for many years there afterward. Their grounds were adjacent to 
the limits of Danville as it was at that time, on the north, now of Seminary 

There were sixteen acres bought and laid out and the fairs were for a time 
popular and profitable. A good showing of blooded stock was always to be 
found there and many mechanical displays made a crowd always to be found. 
The first officers were president, L. T. Dickason ; vice president, James Knight ; 
secretary, W. M. Bandy ; assistant secretary, W. S. McCenathen ; treasurer, 
V. LeSeure. 

While the vote to form a new county which came before the town meeting in 
1857 was voted down, by a big majority, the proposition to erect the county 
of Ford in 1859, met an enthusiastic support. 

This same year the question was up before the people, whether to continue 
township organization and was overwhelmingly in favor of continuance. 

The greatest land sale ever known in eastern Illinois and western Indiana 
was conducted by John Sidell. 

John Sidell was living in the northern part of Edgar County until in 1860 
when he began his operations in Vermilion County. He came into this county 
and, using borrowed money, bought up the land which up to this time had 
been owned by small farmers. These small farms he combined and bought yet 
more and more land. At last he had reached the amount of 6,000 acres. Mr. 
Sidell was not yet a rich land owner because he did not yet own any consid- 
erable extent unhindered by any debt. That fact occasioned the great sale. 
Mr. Sidell spared no trouble nor expense, for the sale was to be the most exten- 
sive ever had in the county, and it was to be the chance for him to keep the re- 
mainder of the six thousand acres. 

John Sidell's father died when he was but eight years old and he was obliged 
to make his own way early in life. His home was in Ohio and when he was 
nineteen years old he went on horseback through Illinois and Iowa, looking for 
something to do better than he could find in Ohio. Not being satisfied with 
what he found he went back to Ohio and engaged to cut cordwood at thirty- 
three and a third cents per cord. When he went west he was getting the sum 


of twelve dollars per month. This was small wages for hard work but he stuck 
to it until he found something better. 

When Mr. Sidell came to Illinois he settled not far from Paris in Edgar 
County and grazed cattle until he could buy some for himself. He was some- 
thing of a carpenter but was determined to find some means of speedily making 
money. He rode across Illinois and Iowa, crossing Illinois nine times on horse- 
back. He traveled through Texas, being in that state before it was one of the 
states of the United States. Sam Houston was the great sovereign of that 
country at that time, and John Sidell built him a house. At last Mr. Sidell 
looked upon the land of southern Vermilion County to covet it and he went 
to work on a great land deal. Borrowing money to make the purchase, he went 
into the farms of what is now Sidell township and bought them as far as he 
could, paying the price asked for whatever he could. It is said to this day that 
he was stopped only by the determination of Mr. Sconce, who in his turn had 
already transformed the small farms into his fine farm, to keep the land. A 
record of an old collector's book seen the other day is to the effect that the 
farms in the southern part of the county were all small, of perhaps eighty or 
even less acres. Early settlers had spent a limited sum in entering land and 
then he sold to those coming afterward in yet smaller parts. All these small 
farms were objects of Mr. Sidell's desire and he accumulated seven thousand 
acres before he sold out any. Mr. Sidell's money came quickly when he had 
bought western cattle on these fertile fields made ever more fertile by their 
presence. He sold off his land to the amount he needed to carry him over and 
secure the land he desired to save. Mr. Sidell went into politics and was elected 
to the legislature. He was a man of strong personality and very generous im- 
pulses. He was liberal in giving to advance the enterprises he thought for the 
good of the public welfare. He was instrumental in taking the C. & E. I. R. R. 
to Sidell and freely donated the right of way. People had confidence in him 
and business men invested their money there. 

Mr. Sidell was a natural promoter and at one time himself chartered a train 
and ran it free from Columbus, Ohio, to Sidell, Vermilion County, for the 
benefit of people who wanted to make their homes in the west. Sidell was laid 
out in 1884 and Mr. Sidell lived to see its marvelous growth, but not to carry 
out any possible plans he had for its future. He died in the early days of 1889 
and was buried with the honors of the Masonic order. 






To a reader of history who studies causes and effects, Vermilion County, 
at the beginning of the Civil war, presents interesting conditions. The entire 
country was in an unsettled state, none' the less was this section. Nearly a 
hundred years had passed since the founding of the new government in Amer- 
ica, and the people subscribing to the constitution by which it should be en- 
forced had yet the same disagreement in the interpretation of this organ which 
met it at first and they were not satisfied. The country was extensive and con- 
ditions of living differed in different sections. One part of the country was rich 
in natural products and another facilities for manufacturing. Little means of 
transporting the raw product from the southern part of the country, or of inter- 
course, each section with the other ; ideals of all sorts diverse and strong, and con- 
stantly growing more intense ; all these things tended to separate the states on the 
geographic lines. Such were the conditions which naturally led the United States 
toward sectionalism. Below the Mason and Dixon line there was but one ex- 
pressed opinion. The institution which their neighbors to the north hated, seemed 
to them of absolute importance to their life. Anyone who did not like the sys- 
tem of slavery must leave that section; and people with these sentiments de- 
veloped in rising generations, did leave, coming often to the nearest free state, 
which was either Indiana or Illinois. That a state had a right to do anything 
it desired, was accepted doctrine in the South. Above this imaginary line of 
division a man held more independent ideas. Generally speaking, the majority 
agreed that the government of the United States was for each and every citizen 
equally; that slavery was unconstitutional, as well as subject to a higher stand- 
ard of judgment, and protested against its extension. The wealth of the South 
came as the result of another's labor, while that of the North came as the' 
reward of each man's efforts. Sectionalism increased constantly, the Southern 
states carrying the matter of state rights so far as to the right to dissolve the 
union of all states at the will of any one. This the people of the North would 
not admit, even to the length of taking up arms in defense of the existing 
government. In the Eastern states the people were, by descent as well as 
other conditions, liberty-loving and independent of thought, and the views 
of the South were appalling to the majority of them. In the Western states, 



or rather, those which at the time were the Western states (particularly In- 
diana and Illinois), the people had such a recent inheritance of these same 
views, that the position of the South to them was different. Southern Illinois 
was settled from the Southern states. This was true of the central part of the 
state. Vermilion County, it has been seen, was settled largely from Kentucky, Vir- 
ginia, the Carolinas and Tennessee. While some of these people came to get 
away from the institution of slavery, more of them came with prejudice in 
favor of the Southern ideas and institutions. During the fifties immigra- 
tion came from the East, and northern Illinois was dominated by the 
ideas of that section. A close observer of settlements in Vermilion County 
will see this new force coming in, like the entrance of a different stream into 
a flowing river, and like the onrush of a second mighty stream, where the 
meeting took place, there were turbulent waters. The land of central and 
southern Indiana and Illinois was a perpetual battlefield. Public sentiment in 
Vermilion County was not all given to either side without conditions. This 
warfare was not without its advantage, however ; such opposition always 
makes the individual opinions the stronger. 

When the struggle actually came on, when the flag of the country was fired 
upon and the President of the United States called for volunteers, the men 
and boys of Vermilion County responded in a goodly number, ready and 
willing to defend the honor of their land, even with their lives. Business in- 
terests were laid aside, family obligations were suspended, and there was no 
waiting to be forced into the service of their country on the part of the men 
of Vermilion County. The many belonging to the Society of Friends who had 
largely come into this county from Tennessee to get away from the institution 
of slavery were, of course, kept from taking up arms by reason of their faith, 
yet many enlisted and of those who remained at home their help was freely 
given to their neighbor who could go to the battlefield, and his family was sure 
of friends while he was gone. The first call for men was to service for three 
months. To this call many made response, and when the time passed and their 
term of service was over they reenlisted. There were several regiments in 
which many of the volunteers were men from Vermilion County. 

A history of Vermilion county was published in 1879, while yet many of 
the returned soldiers were living who could tell the story of those years of 
Civil war, and lengthy reports of the various regiments were available from 
the pen of participants. This history was written by Mr. Beckwith, and has 
now been out of print several years. Because it is out of reach of so many, it 
is deemed best to quote these reports directly from its pages with additions or 
changes where the writers are yet living. The regiments under consideration 
were the 25th, the 37th, the 73d and the i25th Illinois Volunteers. Of the 
writers of these reports, Capt. Achilles Martin and Col. William Mann .are 
dead. The others are living. 


[Contributed by Captain Achilles Martin.] 

The 25th 111. Vol. Inf., three companies of which (A, B and D) were from 
Vermilion County, w*as organized in Vermilion County, June i, 1861, and 


mustered into service at St. Louis, Missouri, August 4, 1861, and from there 
transported by rail to Jefferson City, Missouri, and thence to Sedalia, Mis- 
souri, and marched to Springfield, Missouri, under General Fremont, in pur- 
suit of General Price's army, and from thence to Rolla, Missouri, where, with 
a portion of Fremont's army, it spent the early part of the winter of 1861 
and 1862, but returned to Springfield, Missouri, in February, 1862, under 
command of General Siegel, and pursued General Price's army to Ben- 
tonville, Arkansas, where, on the 6th, 7th and 8th of March, 1862, 
the memorable battle of "Pea Ridge" was fought. The 25th Reg., having 
been held in support until ; early morn of the third day, took the front under 
the immediate command of General Siegel, in support of the artillery, which 
opened the engagement. After a fierce contest with grape, canister and shell 
at short range, the enemy's batteries were silenced, and the memorable order, 
"Up, 25th, Minutes ! Col. Minutes !" was given by General Siegel in person, 
and the next moment the regiment, under the most terrific fire of musketry, 
with other troops, charged the enemy in a thick wood, where, after a fierce 
and deadly contest, the enemy's lines gave way, and the whole army was soon 
in full retreat, and thus was victory brought out of what but a few hours be- 
fore was considered, by the general commanding, a defeat. The regiment was 
highly complimented for its gallantry in this (its first) engagement. Then, in 
connection with the army, it took up the line eastward, where, after a long 
and tedious march, it arrived at Batesville, in Arkansas, and was there de- 
tached from the army, and, with nine other regiments under command of 
Gen. Jeff. C. Davis, marched eastward to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, a distance 
of two hundred and fifty miles in nine days, having made an average of about 
twenty-eight miles per day. The regiment then, by river transportation, joined 
Gen. Halleck's army in the siege of Corinth, Mississippi, which place was soon 
evacuated by the enemy; and after a short stay in Mississippi marched east- 
ward under command of Gen. Buell by way of Nashville, Tennessee, to Louis- 
ville, Kentucky, a distance of nearly five hundred miles in the month of Au- 
gust, in the most extreme heat and drouth. Here a few! days were spent in 
reorganizing the army, when it was ordered in pursuit of Gen. Bragg's army, 
then invading Kentucky. Later, the battle of Perryville, or Chaplain Hills, 
was fought between a portion of the two armies, wherein the 25th Reg., and 
more than sixty thousand other well-equipped soldiers were compelled to act 
as spectators in the slaughter of a portion of our army under command of 
Gen. McCook, because the general commanding said that McCook had brought 
on the engagement without his orders. After this battle the regiment re- 
turned to Nashville, Tennessee, and Gen. Rosecrans was put in command of the 
army, then known as the Army of the Cumberland, wihich remained at Nash- 
ville until the last of December, 1862, when it was advanced to Murfreesboro, 
Tennessee, and met the enemy under command of Gen. Bragg at Stone River, 
Tennessee, on the 3Oth of December, 1862, and at the dawning of the 3ist the 
enemy attacked in great force. The 25th Reg., being in the unfortunate right 
wing of our army, was soon sharply engaged, when the charge grew fierce and 
deadly. The line on the left of the 25th gave way, and being fiercely assailed 
in front and left, the regiment was compelled to change front under a most 


withering lire. Here the color-bearer was stricken down and the flag lay on 
the ground, when Col. Williams, of the regiment (than whom no more worthy 
patriot has died), raised the colors with his own hands, and having indicated 
the new line to be formed, he planted the flag firmly, and uttered in loud tones 
his living and dying words: "Boys, we will plant the flag here and rally 
around it, and here we will die !" The next moment, with flagstaff in hand, he 
fell. The regiment, after twice repulsing the enemy in front, finding itself 
flanked on both right and left, retired from its position and fell to the rear, 
leaving more than one-third of its number dead and wounded on the field. 
The enemy was finally checked, and the battle continued sullenly until the 
2d of January, 1863, when Gen. Breckenridge made his celebrated assault on 
the left wing of our army. The charge was brilliant beyond comparison. The 
shock of battle was terrific. Our left was broken, defeated and driven back. 
Fresh troops were in like manner swept away like chaff before the wind. Fifty 
pieces of artillery were brought to bear on the enemy's right. The earth 
trembled and shook as a leaf in the storm beneath the iron monsters, as they 
poured their storm of death into the advancing column, and yet their onward 
march was as the march of destiny, until the shout from Gen. Negley rang 
out, "Who'll save the left?" "The igth 111.," was the reply the 25th 111. be- 
ing close in their support. They did save the left, and the 25th held the front 
thus carried until the retreat of the enemy, while the heaps of the enemy's 
dead testified to gallantry worthy of a better cause. The regiment, in con- 
nection with the army, next marched south in pursuit of Gen. Bragg's army till 
it reached the Tennessee River, near Stevenson, Alabama. To cross this river 
in the face of the enemy and lay the pontoon bridge was given in charge of this 
regiment alone; consequently, at early morn our shore w(as lined with skirmish- 
ers and a battery of artillery, while the regiment embarked in pontoon boats and 
rowed away to the opposite shore a mile distant, drove the enemy back, laid the 
bridge and was crossing the entire army over by eleven o'clock A. M. The sight 
of this little circumstance was extremely grand, but the danger great. The regi- 
ment next crossed over Sand Mountain and Lookout Mountain and entered 
into the valley, again engaging the enemy in the terrible battle of Chickamauga, 
Georgia, where it left more than two-thirds of its number among the dead and 
wounded on the field, all of whom fell into the hands of the enemy. This bat- 
tle, for severity, stands second to none in the history of the war, and no regi- 
ment in the engagement suffered greater loss than the Twenty-fifth Illinois. 
The regiment was next called to meet the enemy at the battle of Chattanooga, 
under command of Gen. U. S. Grant, and when the order came to storm Mis- 
sion Ridge, the Twenty-fifth Regiment was assigned the front, or skirmish 
line, where it advanced slowly until within a few rods of the enemy's guns, 
when, with a simultaneous charge, in connection with the Thirty-fifth Illinois, 
carried the enemy's works, captured their batteries, broke their lines on Mission- 
ary Ridge, and made way for a magnificent victory. Along the entire line here 
again the carnage was great, but the achievements brilliant in the extreme. The 
regiment was then ordered to east Tennessee, where it spent the winter in various 
unimportant campaigns, and in the spring of 1864 rejoined the Army of the 
Cumberland, near Chattanooga, under command of Gen. Sherman, and started 


on that memorable campaign to Atlanta, Georgia, at which place it terminated 
its service and returned home to be mustered out. 

During the months of this campaign, the endurance of both officers and men 
of the regiment was taxed to its utmost it was one long and tedious battle, 
often violent and destructive, then slow and sullen, both armies seeking advan- 
tage by intrenching, manoeuvering, flanking and by sudden and by desperate 
charges, the Twenty-fifth Illinois, bearing its equal burden of the toils, the dan- 
gers and losses, as will more fully appear from the following order or address, 
delivered by Col. W. H. Gibson, commanding the brigade, on its taking leave of 
the army, at Atlanta, Georgia, August 20, 1864, to wit: 

"Soldiers of the Twenty-fifth Illinois Volunteers: As your term of three 
years' service has expired, and you are about to proceed to your state to be mus- 
tered out, it is fitting and proper that the colonel commanding should express to 
each and all his earnest thanks for the cheerful manhood with which, during 
the present campaign, you have submitted to every hardship, overcome every 
difficulty, and for the magnificent heroism with which you have met and van- 
quished the foe. Your deportment in camp has been worthy true soldiers, while 
your conduct in battle has excited the admiration of your companions in arms. 
Patriotic thousands and a noble state will give you a reception worthy of your 
sacrifice and your valor. You have done your duty. The men who rallied under 
the starry emblem of our nationality at Pea Ridge, Corinth, Champion Hills. 
Stone River, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Noonday Creek, Pinetop Moun- 
tain, Kenesaw Mountain, Chattahoochee, Peach Tree Creek and Atlanta, having 
made history for all time and coming generations to admire, your services will 
ever be gratefully appreciated. Officers and soldiers farewell. May God guar- 
antee to each health, happiness and usefulness in coming life, and may our coun- 
try soon merge from the gloom of blood that now surrounds it and again enter 
upon a career of progress, peace and prosperity." 


[Contributed by Gen. J. C. Black.] 

The regiment was recruited in the counties of Lake, La Salle, McHenry. 
McLean, Cook, Vermilion and Rock Island, and was organized at Chicago, and 
mustered into the United States service on the i8th of September, 1861. Its 
colonel was Julius White, since major-general ; its major was J. C. Black, now of 
Danville, Illinois, who recruited and took to camp Company K. from Vermilion 
County. The muster role of Company K showed representatives from many of 
the old families of Vermilion County: Fithian, Bandy, English, Morgan, Clapp. 
Brown, Henderson, Allison, Conover, Black, Culbertson, Johns, Canaday, Lamm. 
Myers, Payne, Songer, Thrapp, Delay, Folger, Gibson, Liggett, and others. 
Some of these representatives died in service; some returned home full of the 
honors of a well rendered service, and are today prominent among our business 
and professional men. Peter Walsh, the late prosecuting attorney ; William 
P. Black, of Chicago ; William M. Bandy, editor of the "Post," Danville ; W. H. 
Fithian, of Fithian, Illinois; George H. English, and many are farming in this 
vicinity. These are of the living. Among the dead we recall Fitzgerald. Mar- 


latt, Reiser, Snider, Adkins, Barnard, Hyatt, Henderson, Stute, Brewer, Cono- 
ver, George Johns and James Culbertson. These died without fear and without 

Company K was distinctly the boys' company ; its recruits were most of 
them under age at the time of enlistment. In the Memorial Hall at Spring- 
field, Illinois, are found only two captured flags, one was taken from the Mexi- 
cans at Buena Vista, the other was taken from the rebels at the battle of Pea 
Ridge by the Thirty-Seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry. "The boys" did their 
share wherever they went. Mustered into service on the i8th of September, 
they entered the Department of the Missouri the next day, and took part in 
Hunter's campaign against Price in southwestern Missouri, marching to Spring- 
field and back to Laurine Caulmint. In the dead of winter, breaking up their 
encampment, they joined in Pope's campaign against the guerillas. In the 
spring of 1862 the Thirty-seventh set out on the route for northwestern Arkan- 
sas, and participated in the bloody battle of Pea Ridge on the 6th, 7th and 8th 
of March, which raged with especial fury on the 7th near Lee town, when the 
Thirty-seventh received the charge of McCullough's and Mclntosh's column, 
and when in thirty minutes it lost one hundred and twenty men out of an ef- 
fective present force of seven hundred and fifty ; but the charge was broken, and 
the enemy withdrew. 

After this battle General Custer was ordered to Batesville and Helena with 
the entire force, except the Thirty-seventh Illinois, one battalion of the First 
Missouri Cavalry and one section of the Peoria battery; and until June this 
force was kept in the extreme front in the enemy's country, fifty-five miles in 
advance of any assistance, feeling the pulse of rebeldom beating daily in this its 
farthest extremity. Marching and counter-marching over one hundred miles 
frontage of mountainous region, ambushed and bushwhacked day and night, it 
kept the flag at the front, and always flying. In the summer of 1862 the Thirty- 
seventh joined the larger forces. It bore its share in the marches and skir- 
mishes in southwestern Missouri, and finally, on the 7th day of December, as- 
sisted in the terrible fight and brilliant victory at Prairie Grove, where, in the 
capture of a battery and the assault upon the enemy in their chosen position, the 
Thirty-seventh, reduced to three hundred and fifty men, lost seventy-eght, killed 
and wounded; but they took the battery. It returned to St. Louis from there, 
and was sent to Cape Girardeau, whence it started after Gen. Marmaduke, 
overtaking him on the banks of the St. Francis River at Chalk Bluffs. The 
fight at this point freed southeast Missouri of all rebel forces, and won for the 
Thirty-seventh high praise in the reports of the commanding general. They then 
returned to St. Louis, and joined the forces under Gen. Grant, and participated 
in the siege of Vicksburg. 

From this time on, the path of the Thirty-seventh was away from its Ver- 
milion County comrades, the Twenty-fifth, Thirty-fifth, Seventy-ninth, One 
Hundred and twenty-fifth Infantry, Fourth Cavalry, and the old Twelfth Regi- 
ment, some of whom swung across the continent, via Chattanooga and Atlanta, 
to the sea. The Thirty-seventh marched to the south ; it fought and beat the 
rebels at Yazoo City, joined in the campaign after Forrest from Memphis, and 
after chasing him out of Tennessee via Mississippi, returned and took part in 


the Red River campaign ; in the meantime bearing a light share in the fight near 
Morganzia Bend. From Duvall's Bluff the regiment was sent, via New Orleans, 
to Barrancas and Pollard ; thence to Mobile and participated in the last great 
siege of the war, and in its last great battle ; for Lee surrendered at 10 o'clock 
A. M., and at 5 :45 P. M. of the same day the federal troops assaulted and cap- 
tured the Blakeley batteries. The time occupied from t;he firing of the first gun 
until they were in possession was ten minutes ; the loss was six hundred men on 
the Union side; captured, three thousand prisoners, forty-twio cannons and the 
city of Mobile. In this charge the Thirty-seventh was the extreme left regi- 
ment, and Company K was the extreme left of the entire line, which advancing 
in a semicircle, struck the rebel works almost at the same instant along the whole 
front, the right and left being a little in the advance. After this engagement the 
Thirty-seventh was removed to the Department of Texas, where it remained 
until August, 1866, being among the last of the United States Volunteers dis- 
charged from service. 

The Thirty-seventh veteranized in 1864. It was in the service five years 
from the time of recruiting; it marched and moved four times from Lake Mich- 
igan to the gulf; it moved on foot nearly six thousand miles, and journeyed by 
water and land conveyance nearly ten thousand miles more ; it bore its part in 
thirteen battles and skirmishes, and two sieges. The survivors of Company 
K are in Oregon, California, Texas, Missouri and Illinois. They, like the vast 
mass of their fellow volunteer soldiers, are, most of them, respected and useful 


[Contributed by W. H. Newlin and W. R. Lawrence.] 

Under the call of the President for three hundred thousand volunteers, July 
6, 1862, Illinois was required to furnish nine regiments. Upon this call the 
Seventy-third regiment was organized, of which companies C and E were from 
Vermilion ,County. Six days after the call, Patterson McNutt, Mark D. Hawes 
and Richard N. Davis began to recruit a company of infantry in and about 
Georgetown, and, soon after, Wilson Burroughs, Charles Tilton and David 
Blosser commenced raising a company near Fairmount. McNutt's company, 
consisting of eighty-five men, were assembled on the 23d at Georgetown, where 
they were sworn in by 'Squire John Newlin. After this ceremony, McNutt, 
Hawes and Davis were elected captain, first and second lieutenant, respectively. 
The next day the men went to the Y, the present site of Tilton, where they 
were furnished transportation to Camp Butler, arriving there the next morn- 
ing. With the exception of a few squads, this was the first company in this camp 
under that call. Early in August twenty-one recruits arrived from Georgetown, 
making the total number one hundred and six. About this time Capt. Burroughs, 
having organized his company, arrived with seventy men, which, being recruited 
from Captain McNutt's company, made their complement. 

The first military duty done at this camp was guarding about three thou- 
sand prisoners, who had been captured at Fort Donelson. 

Toward the latter part of August steps were taken to organize the regiment, 
and this was accomplished on the 2ist, the regiment numbering eight hundred 


and six men; James F. Jaques being chosen colonel, Benjamin F. Northcott, 
lieutenant-colonel; Wm. A. Presson, major; R. R. Randall, adjutant, and James 
S. Barger, chaplain. This has been known as the "preachers' regiment," on 
account of the fact that all of the principal officers were ministers of the gospel. 
The regiment was the second mustered into service under the call. Of this 
regiment McNutt's company was designated C, and was the color company, and 
Burrough's company, E. On the 27th the regiment was ordered to the field, and, 
without arms, they were transported to Louisville. 

The first camp was in the outskirts of Louisville, near the L. & N. R. R. 
depot. After awhile the regiment was armed, and in the early part of Septem- 
ber the camp was moved to a point some four miles from the city, where a divi- 
sion was formed with the Seventy-third and One Hundredth Illinois and the 
Seventy-ninth and Eighty-eight Indiana as one brigade, under the command of 
Col. Kirk. While in this camp, great commotion was caused by the defeat of the 
Union troops at Richmond, Kentucky, and the division was ordered under arms, 
and made a rapid advance of near a day's march, when, meeting the retreating 
forces, they returned to camp. 

About the middle of September the Seventy-third was sent to Cincinnati, to 
assist in defending it against the threatened attack of Kirby Smith. The regi- 
ment returned to Louisville in the latter part of September. A reorganization 
of the army now caused the Seventy-third to be brigaded with the Forty-fourth 
Illinois and the Second and Fifteenth Missouri, making a part of the division 
under General Phil Sheridan. On the ist day of October the army of one hun- 
dred thousand, under Gen. Buell, moved from Louisville to meet Gen. Bragg, 
who with Kirby Smith was overrunning the country in that vicinity. The 
weather was very hot and dry, and here the experience of all new regiments, 
of disposing of superfluous accoutrements such as overcoats, knapsacks, etc., 
began, and the line of march was strewed with a variety of handy, though dis- 
pensable articles. On the 8th Sheridan's division neared Doctor's Fork, a fine 
stream of water near Perryville. The Union soldiers were anxious to reach 
this point, and the rebels were determined to check their advance, and, from a 
skirmish, this grew to be a desperate battle. Through some blunder the Seventy- 
third was advanced nearly a quarter of a mile in front of the main line, up to 
the very jaws of a rebel battery, and near the columns of the main rebel infan- 
try. In the nick of time it was ordered to fall back, and the rebel battery imme- 
diately opening upon them, they obeyed with alacrity, and gained the main line 
without serious loss. In the fight that ensued the Seventy-third was in the front 
line. Company C had in this fight about seventy men engaged, of whom John 
J. Halstead, Zimri Lewis, Josiah Cooper, James E. Moore, Samuel Boen, John 
S. Long, F. M. Stevens and D. W. Doops were wounded, Cooper and Lewis 
subsequently dying of their wounds. In Company E, John Murdock lost his life, 
and J. M. Dougherty and John L. Moore were dangerously wounded. 

From here the army was marched to Nashville, which place was reached 
on the 7th of November, and the army went into camp. By this time Gen. 
Buell had been succeeded by Gen. Rosecrans. The campaign through Kentucky 
and part of Tennessee, though but of five wfeek's duration, was an eventful one 
to the new troops. It had been almost a continual round of marching, counter- 


marching, skirmishing and fighting through a rough country that had already 
been stripped of almost everything in the shape of forage. This sudden baptism 
into the rugged experiences of war told sadly upon many whose lives had 
been passed in the quiet scenes of the village or farm. During the six weeks' 
encampment at Nashville and Mill Creek, eleven men of Company C died and 
thirteen were discharged for disability; and of Company E, ten died and ten 
were discharged for disability. Hawes and Davis, of Company C, resigned on 
account of sickness, and T. D. Kyger and W. R. Lawrence were promoted to 
the vacancies. Lieut. Blosser, of Company E, resigned, and one Presson was 
promoted from another company to fill the vacancy. Less than three months 
had elapsed, and the two companies had lost fifty-four men. 

On the 26th of December the camp at Mill Creek was broken, and the march 
for Murfreesboro' was begun in further pursuit of Bragg, who had greatly rein- 
forced his army. On the 3Oth the vicinity of Murfreesboro was reached, and 
almost immediately skirmishing began. This was a most hotly contested field, 
in which, however, the Federal troops proved victorious. The Seventy-third 
lost in this severely, and the two companies from Vermilion were sufferers, 
John Dye and James Yoho being killed, Lieutenant Lawrence and Daniel Lay- 
cott taken prisoners, and George Pierce severely wounded. Rosecrans was proud 
of this victory and of the men under his command, and made a special order 
providing for a roll of honor, to be composed of one name from every com- 
pany, to be selected by the members of the company. Company C selected Ser- 
geant William H. Newlin. 

In June our regiment came in contact with the rebels at a point near Fair- 
field, and Alexander Nicholson, of Company C, was wounded. In August, 
Captain McNutt resigned, and Lieutenant Kyger was promoted captain, Second 
Lieut. Lawrence to first lieutenant, and David A. Smith succeeded to the second 
lieutenancy. Lieut. Lawrence had returned in May after a five months' absence 
in Libby Prison. 

On the loth of September, the army again advanced toward Chattanooga, 
to dislodge Bragg from that position. In the many engagements in the vicinity 
of Chattanooga the Seventy-third took active part, but in the one at Crawfish 
Springs, on the 2Oth of September, the brigade to which the Seventy-third be- 
longed played a most important part, and displayed a degree of bravery seldom 
equaled; contending with and holding in check the massed columns of the reb- 
els at a most critical moment. Companies E and C suffered severely. Sergeant 
John Lewis, of C, and color bearer, fell, but held the flag aloft. It was taken by 
Corp. Austin Henderson, of Company C, but he carried it only a few steps, 
when he was wounded. Each of the color-guard, who took the flag, was either 
almost instantly killed or wounded. In this engagement at least a fourth of the 
brigade had been left on the field, either dead, wounded or prisoners. Lieut. 
D. A. Smith, Artemus Terrell and Enoch Smith, of Company C, were killed. 
Lieutenant Lawrence, Sergts. John Lewis and Wm. Sheets, Corp. Henderson, 
privates John Burk, Samuel Hewit, John Bostwick, Henderson Goodwine and 
H. C. Henderson were wounded. Sergt. W. H. Newlin, Enoch Brown, W. F. 
Ellis and John Thornton were taken prisoners. All of these prisoners, except 


Newlin, died at Andersonville prison. Newlin was taken to Danville, Virginia, 
and about six months later made his escape to the Union lines. Of those of 
Company C who went into this battle, more than one-third were killed, wounded 
or captured. Company E lost Wm. C. McCoy, killed, and H. Neville, wounded. 
The activity of battle was not the only hardship our heroes had to bear, for at 
this time, on account of scarcity of rations, and the long continued foraging by 
both armies on the surrounding country, the soldiers were not only often hungry 
but in many cases half starved. On the 24th of October Lieut. Lawrence re- 
signed, leaving Capt. Kyger the only commissioned officer in the company. 

In November the fights of Lookout' Mountain and Missionary Ridge took 
place, and as usual the Seventy-third was in front. The flag of the Seventy- 
third again fell from the hands of the new color-bearer Harty, to be snatched 
up by Kyger, and by him and Harty, who had risen, was one of the first planted 
on the heights of the mountain. In this engagement Stephen Newlin and Nat- 
haniel Henderson, of Company C, and Wm. Hickman, of E, were wounded. 
In March the Seventy-third marched to Cleveland, Tennessee, where it remained 
in camp until called into the Atlanta campaign. The movement of Sherman's 
army on the memorable campaign began with the month of May, 1864, and that 
part to which the Seventy-third belonged broke camp at Cleveland on the 3d of 
that month. It is safe to say that from this date until September 4, the Seventy- 
third was under fire eight days out of ten, Sundays not excepted. It was a con- 
tinuous fight from Caloosa Springs to Lovejoy Station. During the Atlanta 
campaign, and until the end of the war, the Seventy-third was in the First 
Brigade, Second Division and Fourth Army Corps. In the battles of Buzzard 
Roost, Dalton and Resaca, the regiment wlas engaged and suffered some loss. 
At Burnt Hickory, Dallas and New Hope Church, the regiment was also en- 
gaged. The actions at Big Shanty, Pine and Lost Mountains, brought the regi- 
ment by the middle of June in full view of Kenesaw Mountain. The enemy's 
works at this place were very strong, and well-nigh impregnable; but when the 
order came to advance and take them, the lines swept forward and occupied 
them with comparative ease, but just as the federal soldiers were fairly in pos- 
session, the rebels were strongly reinforced, and the Union forces, embracing 
the Seventy-third, fell back to their original position. In this engagement, though 
this regiment was in the line of the heaviest firing, but being on the lowest part 
of the ground, the shots from the enemy passed harmlessly over their heads. 
On the 1 7th of July the regiment crossed the Chattahoochee River, and on the 
2Oth was engaged in the battle of Peach Tree Creek. In this battle the Seventy- 
third occupied a very dangerous position, and did most splendid execution, hav- 
ing but one man killed and a dozen slightly wounded. Shortly after this the army 
had settled down in front of Atlanta. After the capture of Atlanta, a siege 
of six weeks, the army marched toward Chattanooga, arriving there about the 
2Oth of September. From Chattanooga the line of march lay through Hunts- 
ville and Linnville, arriving in due time at Pulaski, where the skirmishers began 
to come in contact with those of Hood's army. In the vicinity of Columbia the 
Seventy-third took an active part, in one instance sustaining the shock of cav- 
alry. This was about the 24th to 28th of November. All the way to Columbia, 


whither the Union forces were retiring, followed closely by Hood and his army, 
there was continual fighting, in which the Seventy-third was almost constantly 
engaged. This was the last stand of any consequence made by the rebels in 
Tennessee. It was an obstinately contested field, and seemed to be the destruc- 
tion of the last hope of the rebels to maintain their cause in this part of the 
country. The hardships endured by Thomas' army in the last few 1 days of this 
struggle were extreme, but not more so in the actual conflict than in the forced 
marches, hunger and loss of sleep ; and to accord equal bravery and endurance 
to the Seventy-third, is only to repeat what has already been written by some 
of the most critical historians of the country. A few days later the regiment 
made, in the assault on the enemy at Harpeth Hill, in the vicinity of Nash- 
ville, their last charge, which proved to be one of the most splendid in their 
experience. As if indicating that the Seventy-third had reaped sufficient glory, 
the remnants of the rebel army withdrew from Tennessee, and left our heroes 
in possession of the state and twelve or fifteen thousand prisoners. 

The Union army marched now to Huntsville, Alabama, arriving there on 
the 5th of January, 1865; the Seventy-third remaining here until the 28th of 
March, at which time it left by railroad for East Tennessee. While encamped 
near Blue Springs the war closed, and the regiment was ordered to Nashville, 
where, on the I2th of June, it was mustered out, and in a few days started for 
Springfield, going on the same train with the Seventy-ninth Illinois. Two trains 
conveyed the Seventy-third as it was going to the theater of war ; the war over, 
one train, no larger than either of the two mentioned, conveyed both the regi- 
ments from Nashville to Springfield, indicating that the hardships of army life 
had dealt severely with their ranks. At Springfield the boys received their final 
pay and discharges, and dispersed to their several homes, having been absent 
from the county wlithin a few days of three years. The heroic dead of this 
regiment, whose absence was most notable on the home trip, lie buried, some 
in graves dug by friendly hands ; but were tombstones erected for those whose 
bodies were hastily pushed into the unwelcome soil of Kentucky and Tennessee, 
they would almost be equivalent to the milestones to mark the road of the army 
through the country, which they fought to retain in the Union. Twenty-six 
men of the Seventy-third were made prisoners, and of these sixteen died of 
hunger and ill-treatment. 


This regiment, nearly five companies of which were from Vermilion County, 
organized at Decatur on the 3d of July, 1861, and was one of the very first 
to go forward to defend the country from the rebel hordes who were not only 
threatening the life of the nation, but whose grasp seem to be already encir- 
cling it. 

Companies D, E, F and I were almost wholly from this county, and also a 
large number of Company A, the last named being under the command of Cap- 
tain Philip D. Hammond, of Danville. Company D was raised in Catlin, and 
had for its officers William Timmons, captain ; U. J. Fox, first lieutenant, and 


Josiah Timmons, second lieutenant. Company E was officered by William L. 
Oliver, L. J. Eyman, and George C. Maxon, captain, first and second lieuten- 
ants, respectively. This company was raised in the townships of Georgetown 
and Carroll. Company F was a Danville company, and had for captain, A. C. 
Keys; first lieutenant, John Q. A. Luddington, and second lieutenant, J. M. 
Sinks. Company I was raised in the vicinity of Catlin and Fairmount. Of this 
company, A. B. B. Lewis was elected 'captain ; Joseph Truax, first, and Joseph 
F. Clise, second lieutenant. 

In the organization of the regiment, W. P. Chandler, of Danville, was elected 
lieutenant-colonel ; and, by the disabling of Col. Smith at the battle of Pea Ridge, 
Colonel Chandler was put in command, and was afterward promoted to the 

On the 23d of July the regiment was accepted as Colonel G. A. Smith's Inde- 
pendent Regiment of Illinois Volunteers, and on the 4th of August left Decatur 
for the theater of war. The regiment arrived at Jefferson barracks, Missouri, 
the next day, where it remained one week, and then removed to Marine Hos- 
pital, St. Louis, where it was mustered into service. On the 5th of September 
it was transported by rail to Jefferson City, Missouri, and from thence, on the 
1 5th of October, to Sedalia, to join Gen. Sigel's advance on Springfield, arriving 
at that point on the 26th of October. From November 13 to 19 the regiment 
w&s on the march from Springfield to Rolla. From January 24, 1862, the army 
to which the Thirty-fifth was attached was in pursuit of Gen. Price, and here our 
regiment began to experience a taste of real war. At the memorable battle of 
Pea Ridge the regiment took active part, and lost in killed and wounded a num- 
ber of its bravest men, among the wounded being Col. Smith. At the siege of 
Corinth the regiment took an important part, and was at that place upon its 
evacuation on the 3Oth of May. At Perryville and Stone River the regiment was 
also engaged, at the later place losing heavily in killed and wounded. This was 
during the first three days of January, 1863. The regiment was the first on the 
south side of the Tennessee River, crossing that stream on the 28th of August. 
At the battle of Chickamauga, September 20, the regiment was engaged, and 
again suffered severely. By the 22d of September the regiment was at Chat- 

In the battle of Missionary Ridge, on November 23-5, the regiment was placed 
in a most dangerous and important position, being in the front line, and dis- 
played great valor and coolness, being led to within twenty steps of the rebel 
works on the crest of the hill. In the assault all of the color-guard were shot 
down, and Col. Chandler carried the flag into the enemy's works, followed by 
his men. By December 7 the regiment was at Knoxville. from which point it 
was sent on various important and dangerous expeditions. The regiment was 
assigned to duty next in the Atlanta campaign, and to recount all of the inci- 
dents, skirmishes and fights in which the Thirty-fifth took part would be only to 
repeat what has been said over and over again in regard to other regiments. The 
reader will simply turn to the story as related elsewhere, and appropriate it here. 
Suffice it to say that at Rocky Face, Resaca, Dallas, Mud Creek and Kennesaw 
the regiment was fully tested in coolness and bravery, and never disappointed 


its commanders. On the 3ist of August the regiment started to Springfield, 
Illinois, where it was mustered out on the 27th of September, 1864. 


[Contributed by Col. William Mann.] 

The One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Regiment Illinois Volunteers was raised 
under the call by President Lincoln, and was organized and mustered into the 
service of the United States on the 3d of September, 1862, at Danville, Illinois. 
It was composed of seven companies, (A, B, C, D, G, I, K) from Vermilion, 
and three companies (E, F and H) from Champaign. 

The regiment was organized by the selection of the following officers ; Oscar 
F. Harmon, Danville, colonel; James W. Langley, Champaign, lieutenant-col- 
onel; John B. Lee, Catlin, major; Wm. Mann, Danville, adjutant; Levi W. 
Sanders, chaplain, and John McElroy, surgeon. The principal officers of Com- 
pany A as organized were : Qark Ralston, captain ; Jackson Charles, first lieu- 
tenant, and Harrison Low, second lieutenant. Of Company B, Robert Steward 
was captain ; William R. Wilson, first, and S. D. Conover, second lieutenant. 
Of Company C, William W. Fellows was captain ; Alexander Pollock, first lieu- 
tenant, and James D. New, second. Company D had for captain, George W. 
Galloway; James B. Stevens, first, and John L. Jones, second lieutenant. John 
H. Gass was captain of Company G, Ephraim S. Howells, first and Josiah Lee, 
second lieutenant. Company I was officered by Levin Vinson, John E. Vinson 
and Stephen Brothers as captain, first and second lieutenants, respectively. The 
officers of Company K were: George W. Cook, captain; Oliver P. Hunt, first 
lientenant, and Joseph F. Crosby, second. 

Immediately on its being received into the service, it was sent to Gncinnati, 
where it was placed in the fortifications around Covington, Kentucky, but was 
in a few days sent to Louisville, Kentucky, which at that time wbs threatened 
by Bragg, and upon his retreat was connected with the pursuing forces, and re- 
ceived its "baptism of fire" at the battle of Perryville, Kentucky, assisting in 
driving the rebel army out of the state. After the battle above named it took up 
the line of march for Nashville, Tennessee, which will long be remembered by 
its members as being the most severe campaign of their service, owing to their 
inexperience in such duties, and many of the regiment contracted diseases that 
resulted in death or complete disability. During the winter following the regi- 
ment did duty in the fortifications, and on patrol and picket service in and around 
the city. Owing to the ignorance of camp life and the scarcity of supplies, this 
period was more disastrous to the organization than any of its subsequent battles. 
Severe picket duty, tiresome drills, and the dull routine of camp life, made upi 
the sum of the regiment's duties until they were ordered to report to Gen. Rose- 
crans, who was about to take up the gauntlet throw*! by Bragg at Chattanooga. 

Proceeding by a circuitous route through western Tennessee and northern 
Alabama, driving the enemy at Rome and other minor points, the brigade to 
which the regiment belonged, then connected with Gen. Gordon Granger's Re- 
serve Corps, the command found itself in position in front of the enemy on the 
eve of what proved to be a disastrous battle to the federal forces, the day of 


Chickamauga. In that battle the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth took a promi- 
nent part, by defending and holding positions of importance. On the retirement 
of Rosecrans to Chattanooga after his comparative defeat, the brigade, then 
commanded by Col. Dan McCook, was placed to defend Rossville Gap, an im- 
portant pass, while Gen. Thomas collected the remnants of the army, to resist 
the farther advance of the victorious foe. In the defense of this important posi- 
tion the regiment wlas under a severe fire, and met with loss ; but held its ground 
through the day, and checked the enemy in its front. After nightfall it was 
ordered to retire, and was among the last to leave the field, marching to Chat- 
tanooga, where it took part within the fortifications, and awaited the approach 
of the enemy. Here it remained until it was determined that Bragg did not 
intend to push his successes farther, when the regiment was sent to a point up 
the Tennessee River known as "Caldwell's Ford," at the mouth of Chickamauga 
Creek. Here it experienced an incident which was one of the most startling 
and trying of its career. The camp was pitched about one half mile back from 
the river, on the hillside, an exposed position, but rendered necessary by the 
nature of the ground. On the opposite side of the river was a rebel picket post, 
and a hill of some dimensions. The opportunity to attack was deemed so fa- 
vorable by the rebels, that, on the night of the i6th of November, 1863, they 
placed a heavy battery of eight guns in position, and at the break of day opened 
fire on the camp. The bursting of shells and the crack of solid shot through the 
tents was the first sound heard by the command in the morning. It was truly a 
grand reveille, and certainly the men never responded more quickly than they 
did on that memorable morning to roll-call. Amid the thunder of the rebel guns, 
and the quick and gallant response of our battery (two guns placed to assist the 
regiment), the command was formed in line of battle, expecting the river to be 
crossed and the camp attacked. The execution of our guns, however, soon in- 
formed the enemy that they had undertaken a difficult task, and as was after- 
ward learned, finding that they were experiencing loss, retired. The only loss 
sustained by the regiment was the death of the chaplain, Levi W. Sanders, who 
was struck by a round shot in the head and instantly killed. 

At CaldweH's Ford the regiment remained until the advance was made which 
culminated in the battle of Missionary Ridge, and the defeat of the enemy. In 
this battle it did not take an active part until the enemy was in full retreat, assist- 
ing in driving him beyond reach. Learning of the threatened attack of Knoxville 
by a portion of the forces from the eastern army, it was sent to the relief of that 
post. Accomplishing that object, it returned and went into camp on Chick- 
amauga Creek, at a place known as Lee and Gordon Mills, Georgia. Here it 
awaited the reorganization of the army, and was placed in the Third Brigade, 
Third Division of the Fourteenth Army Corps, Gen. Jeff C. Davis commanding. 
And now commenced the most vigorous part of the regiment's career. On the 
advance of the grand army on what is known as the "Atlanta campaign," it was 
under fire many times, and participated in several battles in approaching that city. 
In the battle of Kennesaw 1 Mountain, Peach Tree Creek, Tennessee, and other 
engagements, the regiment suffered severely, and at the end of that campaign 
nearly or quite one half of the command that entered upon it were numbered 
among the dead or wounded. At Kennesaw Mountain, on the fatal 27th of June, 


1864, it lost one half of the command. Just previous to the order to charge being 
given, the regiment mustered two hundred and forty guns. After the charge, 
and when the list was made of the casualties, it was found that over one half 
had been killed or wounded. Here fell Col. Harmon, Capt. Fellows, Capt. Lee, 
Lieut. McLean, and many a brave private, whose names are embalmed in the 
hearts of friends, and referred to with sadness after a lapse of fifteen years. 
Col. Harmon had been chiefly instrumental in raising the regiment. He had 
left honors and a lucrative profession at home, to respond to his country's call 
and gave his life in its defense. His name will be remembered so long as a 
member of the command lives, and venerated by them. 

This campaign ended in the battle of Jonesboro, in which the regiment suf- 
fered severe loss, as they did at Peach Tree Creek, and the subsequent capture of 

At Atlanta a reorganization of the army occurred, and the concoction of the 
great campaign known in history as the "March to the Sea," under Sherman. 
With that army the regiment took up the line of march toward the coast, and 
without any startling incidents aside from skirmishes, etc., reached Savannah 
about the 2Oth of December, 1864, and participated in the honor attending the 
capture of that important post. It lost many men in this campaign, through 
capture, sickness, etc. Crossing the Savannah at Sister's Ferry, at the com- 
mencement of the campaign which culminated in the surrender of the Confed- 
erate forces and the suppression of the great rebellion, after the evacuation of 
Richmond, it advanced with the left wing of the army and participated in its last 
battle at Bentonville, a small town in North Carolina, losing quite heavily. On 
the surrender of Johnston it marched to Washington, where it remained several 
weeks, and was then sent to Chicago, where it was mustered out, paid and dis- 
charged from the service of the United States after nearly three years of active 
service, with hardly one-half of those who had started with it from Danville 
remaining. Many had died or had been killed in action, others had been dis- 
charged from disability arising from wounds or disease contracted by exposure 
and the severity of campaign life, and a few, a very few, had been lost by deser- 
tion. And thus ended the services of the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth regi- 
ment Illinois Volunteers in the "Great Rebellion." 

The statement has often been made that the people of the South were all who 
suffered during the years of the Civil War ; that the people of the North hardly 
knew there was any conflict going on. There never was a greater mistake of the 
conditions of the times. While there were no battles and no burning homes, 
there was not a village of the northern states where the life was not decidedly 
changed by reason of the conflict going on in the south. Almost every home had 
some one in the service and the first question when neighbors met was a query 
about the news from the army. Business was in changed conditions and social 
life was influenced by the friends being in the hardships of war. 

The women and children were not idle. Danville wtas not an exception to 
other towns. One company after another had been recruited from the men of 
Vermilion county, and news of a battle brought anxiety and a desire to help 
on the part of all. The necessity for help was urgent. All the appliances for 
care of wounded which can now be bought without trouble, were unknown at 


that time. The women of Danville would gather in the basement of the old 
North Street church and spend days in making bandages, scraping lint, and sew- 
ing on garments needed in the hospitals. 

All the old tablecloths and linen sheets and anything made of that material 
were donated and the children busied themselves scraping the lint from this 
cloth. When the linen was used up, cotton was brought into use. Many were 
the yards of cloth cut up into strips and wrapped into bandages. New cloth 
was bought and dipped in scalding water to shrink, and then wound carefully 
to make the desired rolls of bandages. Then there were the garments needed to 
put on ti\p men as they lay in the hospitals tossing with fever or groaning in 
pain. Life was serious in those days and men, women and children vied with 
each other in plans to help those who were "at the front." 

There were but few new comers to the county in the years from 1860 to 
1864. It was not a time men were looking for new homes. The large part of 
those at the sections which had hitherto turned their faces to Vermilion County 
were, -during these times, engaged in the war on one side or the other. Virginia 
and the Carolinas, together with Tennessee, all had their attention taken with 
the great struggle, and Ohio, whence the large immigration had before this time 
come, was sending her men to the front. There were a few families, however, 
came into this section, during these years and some of these made a deep im- 
pression on the life of the county. Among these can be named Dr. Winslow, 
Mr. D. Dale, Detective Hall, Mr. Freeman, Alexander Bowman, Judge Evans 
and others. 

Dr. J. C. Winslow, a native of Vermont, located in Danville in 1860. He was 
a man of rare knowledge and perhaps was attracted to this section by the geolo- 
gical wealth along the Vermilion river. When he first left home he was a maker 
of musical instruments but he was a man of science before he was of trade and 
he left that mechanical work to others. He taught music and later was attracted 
to railroading. This led him to be a Master Mechanic. He came to Vermilion 
County to accept the position of assistant Master Mechanic on the Wabash 
(Great Western) Railroad. But he tired of that employment and took up the 
study of dentistry, and in 1886 he came to Danville to practice that profession. 
He found congenial companionship in the way of Mr. Will Gurley, who although 
but yet a boy was authority on all geological matters. Dr. Winslow established 
the Vermilion County Historical Society. 

It is a great pity that this society was let to disband so completely as to leave 
no trace. Dr. Winslow was the first Mayor of Danville, being elected in May, 
1868. Dr. Winslow was identified with everything of public improvement and 
was a great force toward making Danville and Vermilion County. Dr. Wins- 
low died, and was buried in Springhill cemetery. 

John J. Dale, the father of John W. Dale, who has been identified with so 
many affairs of Vermilion County, came to Vermilion County in 1860 and located 
about six miles south of Rossville. Mr. John W. Dale enlisted in the army from 
his home going as a private in Company B, Twenty-fifth Illinois Volunteers. 
He was wounded in the elbow at the battle of Chickamauga, and lost his arm 
in consequence. Mr. Dale has held many offices of responsibility in the county 
and city of Danville. Mr. Dale married Miss Hicks of Perrysville, Indiana. 


The life of the detective T. D. Hall has always seemed to be of unusual in- 
terest. He has a good record of success in ferreting out crime and its doers. Mr. 
Hall is an Englishman, but when he came to Danville in 1861 he came directly 
from Indiana. He found his ability as a detective first, when he filled the office 
of deputy sheriff under Joseph M. Payton in 1865. Mr. Hall has spent much 
of his time in the employ of the railroads. An account of his experiences would 
make a fascinating book to read. 

Mr. A. C. Freeman was one of the newcomers to Vermilion County in 
1871. He came from Edgar county at that time, but was a native of Penn- 
sylvania and had come west but a short time before that time. Mr. Freeman 
was in the employ of the Wabash Railroad, both at Fairmount and State Line 
for eleven years. He came to Danville, and in 1874 was elected city clerk. 
He held that office for many years and was released only when failing health 
compelled him to give it up. Mr. Freeman was a very popular man and had a 
host of devoted friends. He was twice married. His first wife was Miss 
Newkirk, and his second wife was Miss Mary W. Dustin of Enfield, N. H. 
Mr. Freeman was too ill to attend to business for a long time before his death. 
He was the father of seven children. The first wife was the mother of two 
children, only one of whom lived. 

Other newcomers in the sixties were : S. B. Holloway, in 1862 ; J. A. Lewis 
and L. B. Wolf, in the same year, and D. D. Evans and Alexander Bowman 
in 1864. M. A. Harrold came in 1861, and S. R. Tilton and G. W. Tilton and 
W. J. Henderson came in 1862. Of these, Mr. S. B. Holloway was connected 
with the omnibus line for many years. He came from Ohio, where he was 
born and where he married his wife. Mr. Holloway had run steam sawmills 
in various towns before he came to Danville, and came here directly from In- 
dianapolis. Mr. Holloway lived in Danville the remainder of his life. 

Mr. Lewis came from England and was a contractor and builder. His 
home has always been in South Danville. L. B. Wolf came to Danville and 
for some time kept a bakery, but in the course of time became one of the Dan- 
ville Lounge Factory Company, where he is at present. 

D. D. Evans, school teacher, editor and attorney, was always a credit to 
Danville. After practicing law for some time he was elected county judge, and 
after that known as Judge Evans. Mr. Evans married Mrs. Elwilda (Crom- 
well) Fithian and their home was a pleasure to enter. 

Alexander Bowman came to Danville from Champaign. So intense was 
the public feeling when he came that when he was looking around on the pub- 
lic square, he was very near to being arrested as a political spy. Mr. Bowman 
laid out more towns in Vermilion county than any other man. 

M. A. Harrold settled in Ridge Farm in 1861. 

The Tilton brothers came to Catlin in 1862 from Indiana. Samuel came 
first, but enlisted in the service and was severely wounded in the battle of 
Kenesaw Mountain. A ball entered his right breast and it was some time be- 
fore it came out of his back. He was incapaciated for service, but he returned 
to his regiment and remained until the close of their term of service. Then 
he went to his parents' home in Indiana and later came back to Catlin. Mr. 
Tilton married Miss Vance, the daughter of Maj. Vance. 


George Tilton came to Catlin about the time his brother did, but he re- 
mained there all the time. He taught school, was bookkeeper and salesman, 
and then formed a partnership with J. C. Sandusky under the name of San- 
dusky & Tilton. They sold general merchandise. The Tilton Bros, have been 
associated together in the mercantile line during all the years they have lived 
in Vermilion County. 

The great amusement at Conkeytown in the later fifties and early sixties 
was the debating club, which held its meetings at the Cass school house. 
There were some eloquent and convincing debates, in which William Milton 
and John Lee, Samuel Rawlins, Hiram and Alex. Catlett, William Davis and 
Z. C. Payton took part. 

An interesting document was not long ago discovered by Mr. Hole, the 
postmaster at Ridge Farm. It evidently belonged to his father and bears date 
of August 23, 1862. It is the charter of the Union League of America; num- 
ber of local chapter, 1054. The eight charter members who signed are as fol- 
lows : Jonah Hole, E. Goodwin, A. B. Whitney, James Price, Elisha Hamil- 
ton, T. D. Weems, D. J. Hunt and Thomas Henderson. This organization was 
a counter one to the Knights of the Golden Circle, and the fact that such a 
council existed is proof of an organization of the latter in the county. It is 
well known that over the state line in Indiana the Knights of the Golden Circle 
were strong. This Union League of America had passwords, signs, and the 
grip, and the members were oath bound. This charter is printed on parchment 
and is signed by Mark as G. Pres., and George H. Harlin as G. Sec. 

There were two riots in Danville which tell the state of public feeling bet- 
ter than multiplied words could do. While the state of sentiment was intense 
all over the country, yet on the borders, as it might have been called, the con- 
ditions were a little different. Danville was near to the people who felt most 
keenly the ravages of war and at the same time it was in touch with those who 
felt as intensely the necessity of the struggle to preserve the Union. Other 
localities let men wear a butternut pin unmolested and had men mustered out of 
service and go about their business without arousing the desire to kill. 

The first riot was on August 24, 1863, and was a disgraceful as well as 
lamentable affair. John Payne was the father of several boys and was him- 
self a man who sympathized with the South. On the other hand his son-in-law 
was a stanch upholder of the Union. One of his sons wore the emblem of 
the Northern sympathizer in the shape of a pin on his coat that was made 
from a butternut. Such an ornament was not unusual to see on men's coats 
at this time. Lyman Guinup, a business man of Danville and Colonel 
Hawkins, a soldier from Tennessee, were together. Mr. Guinup was himself 
a soldier. Seeing this pin when particularly impatient with the ornament, 
these men snatched it from the coat of John Payne. A fight followed, and in 
the struggle Payne was shot. Later a preliminary investigation was held in a 
magistrate's office on West Main street, about where the King block is now 
located. A crowd assembled, and William M. Payne, who was the sheriff, has- 
tened to the scene. As he passed the store of William M. Lamm, which stood 
where the Danville National Bank now stands, or on the southwest corner 
of the public square, he called Mr. Lamm, who was at the store door, to go 





with him and assist in quelling the disturbance. They hastened on together. 
This was about one o'clock p. m. As they came within bullet range, a shot 
was fired and Mr. Lamm fell mortally wounded. No demonstration was then 
made, although the Southern sympathizers gathered on the corner of Hazel 
and South streets. The reports were circulated that the friends of John Payne 
of the same views were intending to burn the town that night. The next 
morning the courthouse grounds were full of horses which had been ridden 
into town during the night by the farmers who had strong Union sentiments. 
George Barker was arrested, tried and convicted for shooting Mr. Lamm, and 
was sent to the penetentiary. William Lamm was one of the leading business 
men and a member of the board of trustees of the North Street Methodist 
Church. His death was a severe loss to the community. His sons, John M., 
Stamper Q. and Edward C. Lamm are living in Danville now and are among 
our prominent citizens. 

The other riot in Danville occurred on the evening of October i, 1864. 
This was on the evening of the day of a big republican rally. The election, 
which was to give President Lincoln a second term, was not far away, and 
politics ran high in Vermilion county, as elsewhere in the country. It was 
but the day before this that the Twenty-fifth Illinois Volunteer Infantry was 
mustered out of service in Springfield. The soldiers had come home and not 
yet put aside their suits of blue, and of course were very conspicuous in the 
streets. Among these returned soldiers were three of the sons of Thomas Mc- 
Kibben, Capt. Jeff McKibben, George McKibben and Henry McKibben. George 
McKibben was not an aggressive young man, but rode into town that morn- 
ing with his friend Francis Gundy in good health and" spirits. They put up 
their horses in the Pennsylvania House, says Mr. Gundy who lives in Bismark, 
in Newell township, and went about town. The day passed without any dis- 
order, although many threats were reported to have been made. About half past 
five o'clock, Mr. Gundy went to the place where the horses were in waiting 
and took them both out, riding his own and leading that of George 
McKibben to the public square. Finding his friend, Mr. Gundy told him it 
was time to go home. But George McKibben excused himself with the re- 
mark of having anxiety for his brother Jeff, and said he thought he would not 
go home that night, but look out for his brother. He did not seem to be in 
the least uneasy for his own safety. So it was, Mr. Gundy took George Mc- 
Kibben's horse back to the stable and went on home by himself. This is the 
story as told by Mr. Gundy, the friend of George McKibben. 

The story is taken up at this point by Mr. Hiram Ross, who was an eye 
witness of the shooting. Mr. McKibben and Mr. Ross, together with George 
McKibben and Henry McKibben, were all standing about six o'clock p. m., 
on the southeast corner of the public square across the street from where the 
Interurban station is now located and they were called across the street by Dr. 
Paris and Dr. Lemon, who were on the opposite side of the street. The men 
called to them to come over and shake hands and make up friends. The boys 
went over without thought of fear, and the men backed into the store, the boys 
following. No sooner did they get in than the door was closed behind them and 
the two men stepped behind the counter and the shots began to fly in the direction 


of the McKibben boys. The air was full of smoke and all was confusion for a 
minute, when Henry McKibben called out that he was hurt. The men who did 
the shooting made their escape through the back window and Mr. Ross looked 
about for George McKibben to find him shot dead with a bullet in his temple and 
Henry McKibben sure he was mortally wounded. Mr. Ross hurried Henry 
McKibben to Dr. Fithian's office, and does not know anything about what hap- 
pened afterward, excepting as hearsay. An examination of Henry McKibben 
showed the bullet had not penetrated his body, but was lodged in his clothing and 
fell to the floor when his body was badly bruised on the left side where the ball 
had struck him in the region of the heart. 

Mr. Hiram Ross who lives in Danville, tells this story, as nearly as possible, 
as it is here given : Mr. J. W. Giddings was at that time a young man, the son of 
William Giddings whose home was on South Hazel street almost opposite the 
home of Dr. Lemon. He takes up the account at this place, telling of the dis- 
tressing scene he witnessed. He tells how he was at the gate of his home and saw 
men running down the alley, among whom was Capt. Jeff McKibben, with others 
of the returned soldiers. He was at the gate of Dr. Lemon's home when the crowd 
reached there and he saw Capt. McKibben with some other man go into the 
house and appear presently with Dr. Paris between them. Dr. Paris had their 
promise to protect him until he could have the benefit of the law. That this 
promise was made in all good faith there could be no doubt in the minds of 
those on the outside of the house. That Jeff McKibben thought he could give 
this protection is equally as certain to anyone who heard him speak that niglit. 
But Capt. McKibben was not dealing with his company of disciplined soldiers : 
it was a mob he faced and a mob growing more and more furious every minute. 
A mob that could not reason, nor yield obedience to orders if these were in 
the direction of law, and a consideration of another's rights. 

Before the act could be prevented, the helpless prisoner was struck, and 
the mob had closed around him and hastily fired shot after shot into his body, 
thus taking another life to pay for the one already lost, and all done in blind, 
unreasoning passion. How far this mob would have gone will never be known 
had not Mr. Thomas McKibben, the father of the dead boy, held them in 
check as no other man could have done. The mob would listen to him, and it 
is well they would. He stepped on a box on the street so that all could see 
him as he reminded them that his loss of a son was greater than could be that 
of any of them ; and he pleaded with them and demanded that the men form- 
ing the mob would disperse and do no more harm. 

Captain Jeff McKibben, who is yet living, tells the story of the scene at the 
home of Dr. Lemon in his own words as follows : 

"It was the evening of Oct. 1st, 1864. There had been a big republican rally 
in Danville on that day. In the evening I had just ordered my horse from the 
barn of the old - Hotel to start home when some person (can't call to 
memory who) called, "Captain, your brother is shot." I says, "I haven't heard 
any shooting." This man pointed down the street on the public square. I 
immediately ran down to where the crowd was gathering. As I came up to the 
crowd, my brother Henry and Hiram Ross came forward and met me. Hiram 
Ross said. ''George is killed." They were on their way to Dr. Fithian's office. 


I saw that Henry was shot. I asked him who shot him. He said, "Dr. Ferris 
and don't let him get away." I says, "Where did he go?" Some person called 
out that he went down to Dr. Lemon's house. I said that I would get him. I 
immediately started for Dr. Lemon's house. A large crowd followed. When 
I arrived at Dr. Lemon's home, I went to the south entrance. Dr. Lemon opened 
the door with a revolver in his hand. He told me to halt. I did so. I says, 
"Dr. Lemon is Dr. Ferris in your house?" He said that he was but I could not 
enter his house. At that I stepped forward and told him that I would give him 
just ten minutes to deliver me Dr. Ferris or down would come him and his 
house. He said that he would deliver to me, Dr. Ferris in ten minutes. I told 
the people that were there not to molest Dr. Lemon nor his property, that he had 
agreed to deliver me Ferris. While standing there some one supposed to be Dr. 
Ferris opened the upstairs window and fired a shot down at me. The bullet 
went into the ground close to my left foot. In a few moments Dr. Lemon came 
down stairs to the front door and called for Capt. McKibben. I immediately 
answered him. He said that Dr. Ferris wanted to see me up stairs alone. I 
ran up stairs and Ferris met me at the head of the stairs, jammed his gun against 
my chest. I knocked it aside and grabbed his arm with my left hand and my 
gun was against his head in a second. I told him to surrender. He dropped his 
pistol on the floor and commenced to beg for his life as I started down the stairs 
with him. I told him he had forfeited his life but that he should have a hearing 
in his case. When I got to the foot of the stairs out on the porch some person 
struck him with a piece of wood and he fell forward on the walk. As he fell a 
number of shots were fired into the body. I called out to them to cease firing 
not to shoot a dead man. The firing stopped and someone called out to haul the 

d rebel up the street and some parties grabbed him by the legs and up the 

street they went. 

I immediately crossed the street and met my father standing there alone. I 
said, "Father, I thought you had gone home." He said, "I had started and 
heard of this trouble so came back." At that moment some person came up, 
(can't call to mind who) and said, "Capt. your brother is dead." I said, "I 
think not, that was only a flesh wound." At that father says, "Poor George is 
dead." That was the first knowledge of my brother's death. I am glad that I 
did not know he was dead at the time. If I had known it, I would probably 
have killed Dr. Ferris. I did not kill him nor I did not shoot at him. Now I 
have given the account of the killing of Dr. Ferris as I remember it. I think 
it is correct." 

Dr. Ferris had been taken through the streets and left on the side of the walk 
by the courthouse, and no one went to him, although he was yet living, until 
near midnight, when he was taken into the courthouse dead. Dr. Paris was a 
Virginian, and he felt very bitterly the results of the war. It is now claimed 
that he had served in the Union army, but this claim has not yet been proven, 
and though he might have once been pledged to the cause of the union, that can 
make the circumstances of his death in the way it was only the more sad. 





The division of the history of Vermilion County by the date of the Civil war 
is not an unreasonable one as can be seen by a careful reader of any record 
of events before that time and since. 

Changes in conditions were the inevitable following of the end of that 
struggle, not only in the South, but all over the country, and Vermilion County 
was no exception to this universal state of matters. Apparently the army was 
disbanded and its members went back home to take up the life laid down three 
or more years ago. But in reality that was impossible. The intervening years 
had been filled with experiences which changed plans and ideals, and even 
modes of life. The people of this country were not the same people nor could 
they regain their former condition. 

In Vermilion County, up to this time, the increase in population had mainly 
come from the increased families. While some new comers had found their 
way to this section, the affairs of the towns and of the county were man- 
aged by the descendants of the early settlers. The natural increase of values 
had made certain distinctions in the communities, and certain men had found 
themselves in power because of the wisdom of the choice of their fathers or 
grandfathers in the selection of land when first coming to the west. There 
was more of a community of interest than is possible under any other cir- 
cumstances. Men knew each other better when their fathers had known each 
other; it was easier to calculate what a man would do when his father's life 
was as an open book to read. But there is more danger of a concentration 
of power in a community when generation after generation lived in the same 
place. Deeper friendships are developed, but on the other hand, more bitter 
enmity is always engendered, and a community misses the chance of growth 
while having the privilege of intimate association. Those who had gone to the 
service had met new experiences and met new people. They had found that 
the world was not bounded by the limits of their own community. The entire 
country had grown less narrow and found that the world had something in it 
other than own interests. Vermilion County boys were not the exception. 



Home had perhaps grown more dear because of contrast, but never again would 
it hold the place it had before. The nation had grown from its period of de- 
pendence and provincialism. Where men had gone, they came back with a 
wider outlook. Old plans of work for one or another were put aside, it may 
be, on account of some one who went away but did not come back. 

Immediately following the close of the war, many new comers made their 
homes in Danville. Unlike the early settlers these were largely from the east- 
ern states. The south came to the county in its infancy, and when the next 
time of change came it brought the east to Vermilion County. 

The newcomers differed in another way from the early settlers in that they 
sought the towns rather than the country, and the villages and county seat in- 
creased in size more rapidly than did the country districts, at this time. 

Mr. J. G. Holden came from Ohio, being a native of New Hampshire and 
having spent his youth in that state and New York. His fathers family came to 
Illinois in 1851, when he was sixteen years old. They settled in northern Illi- 
nois and he remained in New York state clerking in a grocery store. Later 
he went to Ohio and went into business of his own as a merchant. There 
he remained until 1865, when he came to Danville and made it his permanent 
home. Mr. Holden later went into the lumber business with his yard on 
Hazel street, just north of Main. He built up a fine business, which he kept 
as long as he lived, and since his death has been carried on by his eldest son, 

Mr. Holden was prominent in the affairs of the city. He was at one time 
a member of the city council, a member of the board of education of Danville, 
and held all prominent offices in the Agricultural Society. He was sent to the 
state legislature and while on the county board of supervisors was chairman 
of the committees which had the building of the new court house to see about. 
Mr. Holden died at his home, corner of Walnut and Williams streets. 

Edward S. Gregory was another eastern man who came to Danville in 1865. 
He went into the drug store of J. Partlow, where he remained for five years. 
He was elected marshal of Danville in 1868 and held that office for six years. 
He was then elected sheriff of Vermilion County and remained in that office 
for six years. 

Mr. Gregory married Miss Anna Maxon. Dr. George Wheeler Jones and 
his brother James located in Danville about this time. Like many other young 
men they had gone into the army before they had selected their locations 
for homes. Dr. Jones had begun his practice of medicine in Terre Haute from 
which place he enlisted, but the younger brother went into the service when he 
was but eighteen years old. Coming back, the most promising location ap- 
peared to be Danville, Illinois. 

Dr. Jones opened a practice in the city and surrounding territory, and at 
the same time they formed a partnership under the firm name of Jones Broth- 
ers, and carried on the business of a drug store. Their store building was on 
the corner of Main and Hazel streets. The building yet stands in good con- 
dition, having housed a drug store for forty-five years. In the store diagonally 
across the street on the southwest corner of Main and Hazel streets. Yates & 
Murphy had a dry-goods store. 


The Danville Lumber & Manufacturing Co. was the outcome of the part- 
nership made by Mr. Holden and Mr. E. A. Leonard, when they came from 
Defiance, Ohio, in 1865, and went into the lumber business. It is true that 
it was many years after they made and gave up their partnership that this 
establishment was organized, but the beginning was made when Mr. Holden 
and Mr. Leonard came from the same town in Ohio in the same year and 
together went into the lumber business under the firm name of Leonard & 
Holden. In one year he bought Mr. Holden's interest and conducted the busi- 
ness alone until 1871, when the firm became Leonard & Yeomans. In 1873 
the Danville Lumber & Manufacturing Co. was established and continued until 
the death of Mr. Leonard. They did a good business for the times and it was 
one of profit. Mr. Leonard was born in St. Lawrence County, N. Y., in 1828, 
and died in Danville, III. 

During these first years after the war, the list of attorneys was increased 
by William A. Young, J. B. Mann, E. Winter and F. W. Penwell. Mr. Young 
came from Indiana. Mr. Mann is a native of New Jersey. Mr. Winter was 
born in Kentucky, but came to Indiana while very young, coming to Danville 
in 1870; and Mr Penwell was a native of Indiana. All of these men have 
become successful lawyers and made themselves known outside their 
own county. Mr. Young did not begin the practice of his profession 
until he had spent much time in other employment. He taught school 
rather extensively in southern Illinois. He enlisted for the term of three 
months, but soon had enough of army life. He was engaged as recruiting 
officer in Indianapolis, and at last began his practice. At first it was under 
the firm name of Penwell & Young, where they both made their reputation, 
and were considered the rising lawyers of Vermilion County. 

Mr. Joseph B. Mann is one of the best known- lawyers of the state. He 
is well read, clear in his statement of a case, and is generally on the winning 
side. He was born and spent his youth in the east, coming west to the Mich- 
igan University to study law in 1865, and graduating from that school in 1866. 
He then came to Danville and went into the office of O. L. Davis. He was 
admitted to practice law in the courts of Illinois in the following year. He 
was taken into the firm with Judge E. S. Terry. When that partnership was 
ended he went into the firm with Judge O. L. Davis. Since then he formed 
the firm of Mann, Calhoun & Frazier, which was one of the strongest in 
eastern Illinois. Mr. Mann married Miss Lucy Davis, daughter of Judge 
O. L. Davis. Mr. Mann changed his residence, his new location being Chi- 
cago, but he afterward returned to Danville. Mr. Mann has perhaps a wider 
acquaintance throughout the state and surrounding territory than any other resi- 
dent of Vermilion County. 

Mr. E. Winter is but one generation removed from England, his father 
being an Englishman. He was born in Indiana. In 1864 he enlisted in Bat- 
tery F, First Indiana Heavy artillery, although but seventeen years old, and 
was in several heavy engagements. After he came to Danville he helped or- 
ganize Battery A, and soon was made captain of it, since which time he has 
familiarly been called Captain Winter. 





Mr. Penwell moved to Illinois with his parents in 1853, but did not come 
to Danville until 1873. He enlisted from Shelbyville, the home of his parents. 
He was in the service for three years, after which he went to the Michigan 
University and studied law, and was admitted to the bar. When he came to 
Danville he went into partnership with Judge Henry under the firm name of 
Henry & Penwell. Three years later the firm was changed to Penwell & 
Young and remained that. It was about this time that the Abdill brothers 
came from Perrysville and opened a hardware store. The firm of Abdill 
Bros, was dissolved in time and Mr. E. C. Abdill carried on the business. 
When he died his sons, Charles and Harry, carried it on for some time under 
the name of E. C. Abdills' Sons. In about 1898 the store passed into the 
hands of another firm and the name of Abdill, which was connected with the 
hardware trade for so many years was lost to Danville. Mr. George Abdill 
is and has been a broker in Danville since going out of the hardware busi- 

D. M. Gurley came to Danville from Michigan, being a native of Vermont, 
in 1867. He was in the hide and leather business until he retired. He was 
fifty-nine years old when he came and did not have many active years before 
him when he made the change of residence. 

Judge Stansbury came to Danville with a grown family in 1867. They 
were a great addition to the social life of Danville. Mrs. Stansbury was an 
unusual woman and the two daughters were unmarried and very accomplished 
women. The son was a citizen of Danville for many years. Miss Elizabeth 
Stansbury became the wife of Mr. W. T. Cunningham and the young daughter 
was married to Dr. O. LeSeure, and went to Detroit to live. In 1867 Mr. 
A. L. Webster and Mr. George Yeomans opened a hardware store in Dan- 
ville. They continued in this partnership until 1871, when Mr. Yeomans sold 
his interest to Mr. Charles Yeomans, his brother. The firm name of Web- 
ster & Yeomans continued until four years later, when it was dissolved, Mr. 
Webster taking the heavy hardware and Mr. Yeomans the light hardware. 
Mr. Webster kept this sort of stock for four or five years, when he sold out 
to Mr. J. W. Giddings and retired from the trade altogether. He afterward 
went into the grocery business, eventually being in the jobbing trade. Changes 
of firm and company names have placed him at this time in the large wholesale 
business of Webster Grocery Company. This business, which is extensive, 
is housed in a fine building which the company owns at the corner of East 
North street and Washington avenue. Mr. Yeomans formed the company 
of Yeomans, Shedd & LeSeure, which remained the same until the death of 
Mr. Frank LeSeure, one of the firm, in 1884, since which time the firm has 
been Yeomans & Shedd. The death of Mr. Shedd last spring makes another 

L. T. Dickason came to Vermilion County in 1867 from Ohio. He had 
been in the army and had a very severe wound, after which he was discharged. 
This was when he had almost completed his term of enlistment. Mr. Dickason 
went first to Fairmount and was engaged in buying and selling grain. He 
later came to Danville, where he was interested in the coal and timber trade 
very extensively. He was very popular and was elected mayor for three 


terms. Mr. Dickason's extensive business interests made his residence in Dan- 
ville no longer possible, and he removed to Chicago, where he has since made 
his home. His health has been very much impaired during these last years. 
He was associated while here with Mr. C. L. English, in the coal and lumber 
trade, and this business association continued after he changed his residence. 

The coal business of Vermilion County attracted Mr. W. C. McReynolds 
to Danville in 1867. He did not remain in this business for long, however, 
but went into the mill. He was booker in the Danville mill, which was one 
one of the largest in the county. It was built by Daniel Kyger. In 1875 he 
married Miss Elizabeth Pearson, the daughter of Hon. John Pearson. Mr. 
H. K. Gregory was one of the prominent business men of that time. He 
made good contracts to get out railroad ties, being associated with his brother 
Charles for a time and later with Mr. James Knight. Mr. Gregory went to 
the Pacific slope and has been for some time in the railroad interests. His 
residence is now in San Francisco. 

A' leading dry-goods firm in Danville for years was that of C. W. and 
J. R. Holloway. This firm did business on the northwest corner of Main and 
Walnut streets. The firm was organized in 1869. Mr. C. B. Holloway came 
to Danville from Ohio and Mr. Jesse Holloway was a native of Virginia, 
coming to Danville from Georgetown, Illinois, having gone when young. He 
was a dry-goods merchant in Georgetown for twenty years and then moved 
to Danville, where he went into the Vermilion County Bank for a time, but 
resumed the dry-goods business when this firm was established. 

E. C. Winslow, a native of Massachusetts, came to Danville after the war 
and opened a fine drug store on Main street, between Vermilion and Hazel, on 
the south side. Mr. Winslow was an experienced druggist, having had a drug- 
store in Boston for twelve years before he came to Vermilion County. Mr. 
Winslow afterward went to California to live. He was a relative of Dr. Wins- 
low, the dentist and geologist. Dr. Gillette, of Massachusetts, came to prac- 
tice his profession in Danville and vicinity about this time. He was a skillful 
physician who spent his life in this community, well loved by a host of patrons 
and friends. When he came back to the St. Elizabeth Hospital, an incurable 
invalid, the people found their greatest pleasure in doing what they could 
to make his last days comfortable. Dr. Gillette died in the early spring of 

William P. Cannon was a prominent factor in the business affairs of Dan- 
ville during his life in that city. He came from Tuscola, where he had been 
first in the practice of law and later interested in the private bank of Wyeth, 
Cannon & Co. Yet later Mr. Cannon organized the First National Bank of 
Tuscola. In 1873 he moved to Danville and organized the Vermilion County 
Bank, of which he was made president. This later became the Second Na- 
tional Bank, and Mr. Cannon was president of this bank when he died, in 1893. 
His death was the result of an accident. In drawing the curtains of the win- 
dow of the bank, he slipped on the tile floor, and falling, sustained internal 
injuries which were of so serious a nature he could not recover from them. 

In 1867 the old charter of Danville was burned in a fire which destroyed 
the records of the city, and a new one was granted. The city was operated 



under this charter until 1874, when it was incorporated under the general 
act of 1872. A hook and ladder company was formed in 1867, when the first 
protection from fire was made. This organization gave its service without 
compensation of any kind. D. A. Childs was made the foreman of this com- 
pany, M. Redford the assistant foreman, Charles Eoff secretary, and C. Y. 
Yates treasurer. That same year, under the administration of Dr. Winslow 
as mayor, a second-hand engine was bought and 299 feet of leather hose at 
a cost of $1,200, and for a time the fire department of Danville gave good 
service. This plan of a volunteer fire department, which has been the pride 
in the east, was not the continued success in Danville. So it was that in 1872, 
while T. H. Myers was mayor, the council determined upon buying a steam 
fire engine. The committee to attend to the matter consisted of N. S. Monroe, 
W. H. Taylor and W. A. Brown. An engine and an additional hose cart with 
500 feet of the best rubber hose was bought and the company was reorganized. 
This time there was a fixed number of sixteen members, and a salary was paid 
to each. In 1875 another of the Silsby engines was bought. W. H. Taylor 
was made chief of the department when this office was created in 1879. A 
list of officers and salaries received in 1880 is interesting in comparison with 
those of the present: Chief, W. H. Taylor, $55 per month; first engineer, 
George Lupt, $50 per month; second engineer, Putnam Russell, $50 per month. 
Members : W. D. Dearing, $50 per month ; Isaac Hurlacker, $20 per quarter ; 
E. Peables, $20 per quarter; A. Brant, $15 per quarter; C. Lindsey, $15 per 
quarter; William Dallas, $13 per quarter; J. Peables, $13 per quarter; E. 
Brant, $13 per quarter; M. Yearkes, $13 per quarter; Charles Adams, $13 per 
month; Frank Wells, $13 per month; James Harrison, $13 per month; Jackson 
Brideman, $13 per month; George Cox, $13 per month. 

It was in 1872 that a station was made on the Chicago & Danville Rail- 
road a mile south of the present site of Alvin. This was named for the pro- 
gressive citizen of that part of the country and called Gilbert. L. T. Dixon 
laid out the town of Gilbert on section 8 (21-11) and Bruce Peters and D. 
McKibben started a store. Peters was made postmaster. Soon after this the 
store was sold to J. D. Williams and he was appointed postmaster. John 
Davison afterwards bought it and put in a stock of dry-goods. Dr. G. W. 
Akers started the drug business in 1875 and remained there for a year, when 
the narrow gauge road made a crossing a mile to the north and the postoffice, 
station, stores and all moved to this point. Gilbert became an abandoned town, 
but the new town built in its place must be named. So great was the appre- 
ciation of his neighbors for Mr. Gilbert that his name was kept for the other 
town, and it was called Alvin. Now Mr. Gilbert always persisted in the 
spelling of his given name with an "a" and the devotion of those who named 
the new town went to the extent of spelling it in the same way. The post- 
office department knew how to spell and refused to accept this spelling, but 
spelled the town Alvin. So it is that this town in Vermilion County has the 
spelling of Alvan as a railroad station and of Alvin as a postoffice. Any one 
can give it either spelling as he may choose and be correct. Alvan Gilbert 
had lived in this neighborhood for ten years and had large landed interests 
there, and if he demoralized the orthography of the community, it is too late 


a day to make any change. Mr. Gilbert was the man who made a settlement 
at the site of Rossville possible in 1862. That was the date of his coming to 
this place, which was then called Henpeck the reason for which is unknown. 
This included the settlement made first by Mr. Bicknell in the earlier history 
of the county. There was a point of timber running into the prairie at this 
place where Mr. Bicknell had settled. 

It was in 1871 that Hoopeston was laid out. The fight over the possession 
of the site of this by the two companies who were building the two railroads 
was a bitter one and ended in the platting of three towns: Hoopeston laid 
out in July where Main street is now ; Leeds laid out where later the Hibbard 
House was built, and North Hoopeston comprised all the land north and east 
of the railroad. The first town was platted in the spring of 1871, the next 
was platted in November of that year, and the third was platted in the same 
year. A great factor in the growth of Hoopeston was the organization of the 
Hoopeston Agricultural Society. This was formed in 1873 and the stock was 
fixed at $5,000, and afterward raised to $10,000. 

The Hoopeston Library and Lecture Association was organized December 
30, 1872, and Hon. Lyford Marston elected president. After the car shops 
of the Eastern Illinois Railroad were built near the junction, the demand for 
an incorporated village of the territory lying to the northeast of that locality. 
A petition was filed in the county court June 25, 1874, asking the court to 
direct the holding of an election to vote for or against village incorporation, 
setting forth that there were over four hundred people living within said limits. 
The petition contained the names of sixty voters who lived within said limits. 
The petition was granted and an election was called for July 6, 1874. At this 
election there were thirty-one votes cast, thirty for and one against the in- 
corporation. An election was held on July 31 for six trustees to perfect the 
organization. At this election there were thirty-four votes cast. In 1875 there 
were sixty-one votes cast. When the village -was incorporated the people living 
there were largely Germans, but that did not last long, since the working men who 
have come into the shops are by no means all Germans, and other nationalities 
find their way to this village. .While the employment of its citizens were men who 
had little farms and truck patches, there were conditions which attracted the 
German settler who remained the German all his life. 

South Danville lies on the south side of Vermilion river, and has been the 
home of the miner more than of any other man. This village was incorporated 
in 1874. In February of that year Mr. John Lewis and thirty-five others pe- 
titioned the county court to order an election to vote for or against incorpo- 
rating under the general act with the following boundaries : commencing at 
the Wabash railroad bridge, thence southwest with said railroad to a point 
where the state road from Georgetown to Danville crosses the railroad ; thence 
west to the Paris & Danville railroad (now the New York Central lines;) 
thence north to the Vermilion river; thence along said river to the place of 
beginning. The petition set forth that there were five hundred people living 
within said limits. The election was held March 14, at which time and place 
seventy-seven votes were cast, fifty-one being for and twenty-five against cor- 


Reading from left to rij;lit: Standing -Prosper LeSeure. Robert D. McDonald, Samuel Craig, 
Victor LeSeure. Sitting A. G. Webster. Benjamin Crane. O. L. Davis, Eben Palmer and 

Otlmeil Gilbert. 



poration. An election was held to elect trustees in which seventy-three votes 
were cast. 

At an election held in 1863 a proposition was voted upon which 
was called upon a system of bridges. As the vote stood 515 for and 2 against, 
there is reason to conclude that there was some public spirit at that time. 
It was in 1864 that a new cemetery in Danville was shown to be a pressing 
need of the times, and Spring Hill was incorporated. Up to this time the old 
Williams burying grounds were used, but it was beyond use, and a new one 
was an urgent need. Mr. J. C. Short was, as he showed himself to be, very 
much interested in anything to promote the welfare of Danville, and in con- 
nection with Mr. English, Mr. LeSeure, Dr. Woodbury and Mr. A. S. Wil- 
liams, an association was formed under the laws of the state and fifty acres 
of land was bought north of town for which $2,000 was paid, these gentlemen 
advancing- the money, knowing- it would prove a means of profit when the lots 
were sold. The land was a happy choice. It is dry and well located, having 
natural advantages tending to make it a beautiful burial place. Mr. English 
was elected the first president of the association, and Mr. Short secretary and 
treasurer, while Messrs. Williams, LeSeure and Woodbury were the directors. 
Mr. Bowman was given the work of laying it out. This work was admiringly 
done. Taking advantage of the natural lay of the land, the landscape was 
given all the beauty of lakes, ravines, gravelled and grassy roads and paths. 
It is one of the most beautiful cemeteries of Illinois. As the years passed 
the place made improvement or not as the men in charge took more or less in- 
terest in it. The present superintendent, Mr. Anderson, has done much to 
beautify it and to make it an attractive place to visit. 

The seventies brought many changes to Danville in the way of new build- 
ings being built. The old court house was destroyed. There was no doubt that 
it was set on fire and no one had the heart to investigate the matter nor the 
disposition to censure, for it had long been a disgrace to Vermilion County. 
There is record made that one of Danville's favorite citizens, in the abandon 
of youth, drew a pistol and said he would shoot any one who would attempt 
to put the fire out. The present building was erected in 1876. The building 
cost, complete and ready for occupancy, the sum of $105,000. The architect 
and the committee who had charge of its building took great pride in the 
shape of the building. They never thought that their building would show 
the effects of wear and weather to the extent it does at present, but it is 
rapidly growing to the place its predecessor held in the minds of the people 
thirty-five years ago. 

The first jail stood in the rear of the courthouse, but the fire which de- 
stroyed the one refused to burn the other. The old jail was made of hewn 
logs which dove-tailed together and were pinned together through the corners. 
It was about thirty feet long and had a partition put across it near the center 
to separate the two classes of people who were liable to be put in jail, viz., 
the prisoners for crime and those for debt. When the jail was built these 
latter were put in jail. Large river stones were put on the ground and a 
floor was placed on that. It was covered over with a floor like this of hewn 
logs. There were two windows in this building about eighteen inches square. 


One man who has had charge of the jail for some time, Hiram Hickman, said 
there was no trouble to catch a horsethief, but the trouble was to keep him, 
since everyone could dig his way out before the next term of court. The jail 
refused to burn at the time the courthouse was destroyed, but it had to get 
out of the way of the new building and the old jail was removed in 1873. 
The new jail was built in 1874 and has always been a credit to the county. 
The material used in building it was Joliet stone and brick and the plan has 
always been pleasing. It has a front on South Vermilion street of forty-four 
feet and is one hundred and two feet deep and cost $52,292. The building com- 
mittee was the same as that of the courthouse, J. G. Holden being chairman. 
Battery "A," First Regiment Illinois National Guards, was organized in 

1875. It was reorganized in 1876. The Danville Guards was organized in 

1876. A very valuable association to a country was formed in 1877. This was 
called Vermilion County Historical Society. This society was made up of 
men of all the characteristics most to be admired in citizens of a growing 
community. Yet with everything to make an effective organization, it must 
be admitted that the society not only disbanded, but all the valuable matter 
collected and the priceless relics disappeared to never be found where they 
could be of use. Danville is rich in relics of Indian life and the collection was 
of particular value in that line, which is all too rare now. 

Another force for the improvement of the citizen was the Danville Lyceum, 
established about that time. It was organized July 4, 1878. Its object was 
mutual improvement of its members. It numbered forty members when first 
started. This was some time before the Danville Public Library was started. 
Mr. Culbertson had made his bequest of $2,000 to be used in the purchase of 
a library, one-half of which should be for the permanent benefit of the mem- 
bers of the Presbyterian church, and the other half for the benefit of the 
public. The books were bought by a committee and were kept in the library 
room of the old Presbyterian church, and it was the avowed desire and inten- 
tion of the lyceum to secure the books and make them a part of a circulating 
library. The officers of the Danville Lyceum were : J. D. Benedict, president ; 
W. L. French, vice president; W. C. Johnson, secretary. The board of di- 
rectors were: W. J. Calhoun, J. D. Benedict, J. B. Samuels, P. E. Northrup 
and J. W. Whyte. 

The Vermilion Opera House was built on the corner of North and Ver- 
milion streets, on the northeast corner opposite the old North Street church. 
It was built by J. G. English, Col. Chandler and John Dale, in 1873. It 
was built of native brick with Milwaukee brick trimmings; 50x110 feet, with 
two storerooms on the first floor and a hall on the upper floor. The cost of 
this building was $20,000. This building was used for its original purpose 
for a time and after it was no longer needed for that purpose it was converted 
into a building for the use of the Illinois Printing Company. The Illinois 
Printing Company located in Danville in 1874. It was first housed in the 
building on North street, between Vermilion and Hazel, where the Daniel 
Housefurnishing store has been so long. The Great Western Machine & En- 
gine Shops were opened near the Wabash tracts in 1865. Frisbie & Williams 
began this business in 1865, and in 1869 J. V. Logue bought out Williams in- 
terest and the firm name was Frisbie, Logue & Co. until 1874. 



Five building and loan associations were organized from the time of the 
act of 1872 until the last one chartered in June, 1874. The Moss Bank park 
was laid out by John C. Short while yet he owned the property west of Dan- 
ville, and promised to be a place of pride and pleasure to the citizens. The 
Ellsworth park was laid out in the eighties and the Lincoln and Douglas parks 
were made a part of Danville in the nineties. 

H. A. Coffeen was a factor in the literary and business development of the 
county, that should not be overlooked. Mr. Coffeen's parents lived in Cham- 
paign, coming there in 1852. They were Ohio people. Henry A. was their 
second son and early set out in life as a school teacher. He was in this em- 
ployment until he was twenty-seven years old, the last two schools being in 
Hiram College, in Ohio, and as superintendent of schools in Bement, Illinois. 
Mr. Coffeen at last concluded to be a merchant instead of a school teacher, and 
started a bookstore in Danville. He kept up a fine store, where he sold 
books, pictures, wall paper and all that is ever found in a store of that kind. 
He opened the store in about 1868 and for a time carried it on by his unaided 
efforts, but later he took as his partner Charles Pollock, the son of Dr. Pol- 
lock. Mr. Coffeen was the author of the first history of Vermilion County. 
It is a small book, which gives many facts, valued because they were gleaned 
while yet it was possible to get information of the early settlers at first hand. 

Mr. J. M. Clark was a dry-goods merchant who came in 1871. His store 
was on Vermilion street, next door to the Aetna Hfouse. He was a man who 
had done good service for his country during the bloody sixties, and was wel- 
comed as a citizen of the growing Vermilion County. 

William F. Henderson came to Georgetown in 1878 and went into the 
bank of E. Henderson & Co. as cashier. 






1831 OF 1832 OF 1833 OF 1834 OF 1835 OF 1836 OF 1837 OF 1838 


DAUGHTERS OF 1840 OF 184! OF 1842 OF 1843 OF 1844 OF 184$ OF 

1846 OF 1847 F 1848 OF 1849. 

James O'Neal and Mrs. Elizabeth (McDonald) Harmon have both been 
credited with the distinction of being the first white child born in Vermilion 
County, in the same historical volume, but as the date of each birth is easily 
found, there need be no disagreement in regard to the matter. 

James O'Neal was born April 20, 1822. It was the year before this that 
the parents of this child came to Vermilion County, and the father took up a 
farm on what later was known as the Caraway farm near Brooks Point. He 
lived on this farm for three years and then moved to the eighty acres of land 
he had entered on the Big Vermilion. It was during the time the family lived 
near Brooks Point that James was born the first white child to see the light 
of day in Vermilion County. Mr. O'Neal had a tan yard and made shoes for 
himself and family and leather for the moccasins the Indians wanted. James 
O'Neal grew up in the midst of wild life; his companions were the Indians 
and his associates the other boys of pioneer families who occasionally came 
into his life. He was skilled in all the arts of hunting and trapping, and he 
well knew the habits of the wild animals which were so plentiful in the timber 
about him. As soon as he was old enough, he went to work for himself find- 
ing employment in the mill on the Vermilion river afterward called the old 
Kyger mill. Mr. O'Neal married Miss Vesta Pratt, herself a daughter of 
Vermilion County, seven years younger than he. Mr. O'Neal lived all his life 
in Vermilion County. 

Elizabeth Catherine (McDonald) Harmon was the third of the eleven chil- 
dren of Alexander and Catherine King (Alexander) McDonald. She was born 



August 16, 1823, on her fathers' farm home in Carroll township, near George- 
town, and claimed to be the first white child born in Vermilion County. She 
received a common school education in the nearby country schoolhouse. She 
was married in 1844 to Hardy Wallace Hill M. D., a rising young physician, 
and went with him to his new home in Cincinnati, where they lived for five 
years. In 1849 a scourge of cholera visited this city and Dr. Hill, through his 
professional duties, fell a victim. After the death of her husband, Mrs. Hill 
came back to her father's Illinois home, bringing her little daughter, Eleanor, 
with her. Six months later her other daughter, Lillian, was born. A few 
years afterward she took her two children to her uncle Cunningham's home 
in Danville, where she lived until the time of her marriage to Mr. O. F. Har- 
mon, on February 22, 1854. Mrs. Harmon was again widowed after ten 
years by the death of her husband, then Colonel Harmon. They were the 
parents of three daughters and one son, who died soon after his father. Lucy, 
the oldest daughter, became the wife of Rev. McPherson, Fannie, the next 
daughter, became the wife of Frank Brooks, and after his death of 

Corinne, the youngest child, died unmarried in 1901. Mrs. Har- 
mon made her home in Danville after the death of Colonel Harmon until 1881, 
when she removed to Chicago. From that time on she divided her time among 
her three daughters, one of the Pacific coast, another in the middle west, and 
the third near the Atlantic seaboard. Her oldest daughter, Eleanor, became 
the wife of Mr. Short, and the second daughter died in 1871, shortly before 
her promised marriage with Mr. Nelson Kimball of Danville. Mrs. Harmon was 
somewhat of an invalid the most of her life up to middle life, but in later 
years she enjoyed good health and lived to the ripe age of eighty-two and a 
half years, and "fell asleep" in her daughter's New Jersey home on February 
9, 1906. 

Mrs. Mary (Cox) Patterson was born in Carroll township June 13, 1823, 
the daughter of Simeon and Nancy (Mundle) Cox. Her father was a native 
of Virginia and married a girl of Pennsylvania. They came to Vermilion 
County in 1823, settling in Carroll township. He secured a farm which he 
developed, and built a mill, but had little success at running it. His daughter 
Mary, the second child, so far as known, to be born in Vermilion County, grew 
to womanhood under the conditions of pioneer life. She was of good disposi- 
tion, and patiently endured all hardships. When she was eighteen years old 
she became the wife of Elijah Patterson, whose home had always been in 
Ohio. Although he had apparently settled in Vermilion County and was a 
citizen of Illinois, after his marriage, he moved back to Ohio. But he re- 
turned to Illinois after twelve or thirteen years, and lived in Carroll township 
until his death in 1875. Mrs. Patterson was the mother of ten children. She 
spent her last days in plenty and comfort at the same place where she first 
saw the light of day. She had a long life of usefulness and made many de- 
voted friends whose pleasure it was to care for her in her latter years. 

John P. Swank was born in Indianola, December 18, 1824. Mr. Swank's 
parents came to Vermilion County at a very early date, being among the earliest 
pioneers. They were Ohio people and they came to Carroll township. Mr. 
Swank had three brothers and four sisters, and a family of that size had 


much to make life happy, even if the luxuries of older communities were 
missing. Mr. Swank was born on a farm and spent his life as a farmer. He 
married Miss Phoebe Dickson of Indianola. She was the daughter of John 
and Elizabeth (Doyle) Dickson, and was born in Vermilion County in 1829. 
They were the parents of five children. Mr. Swank died in 1894, leaving 
many friends to mourn his loss. He was buried at Woodlawn cemetery, In- 

Perry O'Neal "was born January 16, 1825, on the homestead in section 27, 
Georgetown township. He was the brother of James O'Neal, who claims to 
be the first white child born in Vermilion County. Mr. O'Neal lived all his 
life in Vermilion County, and was a citizen such as makes the best of any 

James Stevens was born on his father's farm on section 9, near Brooks 
Point, in Georgetown township, Vermilion County, January 5, 1826, and there 
spent the first years of his life. He went to the subscription schools which 
were "kept" in the log house with a puncheon floor, seats and desks of slabs, 
greased paper for window glass, and whatever else was considered necessary 
to a pioneer schoolhouse. When he was a boy, the nearest mill was at Terre 
Haute, Indiana. He had to take his turn going with the bag of grain. There 
were but two wagons in the neighborhood of a radius of ten miles, and each 
farmer would send a bag of grain and two men would go along to attend to 
the grist. Later a mill was established within a half mile of the Stevens home 
and was considered a great convenience. Mr. Stevens married Miss Elizabeth 
Roundtree in 1857. She lived in Indiana near Crawfordsville, and he made 
her acquaintance while teaching school. He had great success as a school 
teacher, and he was later offered a professorship in a college in Missouri; but 
because of the approaching war, declined it that he might go in the service. 
Upon the call for 75,000 men, he raised a company in and about Catlin, but 
when he reported, it was to learn that the quota was full and this company 
could not be accepted. Mr. Stevens always took a great interest in all educa- 
tional matters and was well posted in public affairs. 

Dorman B. Douglass was born in Danville township, October u, 1827. 
His mother' and father were one of the two couples who were married first in 
Vermilion County. Annis Butler, the daughter of James Butler and Marcus 
Snow, were married first by Squire Treat at Denmark (he was justice of the 
peace while the territory was yet attached to Edgar County) and Cyrus Doug- 
lass and Ruby Bloss were married immediately afterward. Dorman Douglass 
was the second in order of birth of the children of Cyrus and Ruby (Bloss) 
Douglass. They lived about three miles south of Danville, where he lived 
until in 1865 he moved to Fairmount, where his wife died in 1866. Mr. Doug- 
lass lives at a little distance north of Danville and himself is an open book of 
history of Vermilion County. He remembers the stretches of forest and un- 
broken prairie, the log cabin homes, and the little huddles of houses which 
stood on the sites of the flourishing towns and cities. He remembers as well 
the flourishing towns which were promising seventy years ago, and now are 
hardly visible. He can remember Danville when it contained but three stores, 
and Denmark when it was a very promising town. He went to school in a 


room which was heated by a great fireplace extending across one end of the 
house. Like the other boys, he sat on slab benches and conned his lessons 
in an audible tone. As soon as he was able to handle a plow he went to work 
in the field and thereafter was always busy. The first plow he used was a 
wooden mould board, and he drove a single line harness, and he did his har- 
vesting with a reap hook. After turning the furrow, the girls of the family 
dropped the corn by hand. In 1851 Mr. Douglass went to the gold fields of 
the west, living away for three years. Coming back, he went to New York 
by boat and crossed the land to Vermilion County. 

In 1864 Mr. Douglass made that long trip crossing the continent going 
over the plains of Idaho and Montana, remaining about two and a half years. 
Mr. Douglass remembers well the first matches he ever saw. He remembers 
how the women did all the carding and weaving and spinning of the cloth, 
as well as sewing of the garments. He has seen the whole family go two or 
more miles to church, walking all the way, the girls carrying their shoes to 
the church door to put them on and remove them when they started for home. 
Mr. Douglass married Miss Anna Downing. Her parents came from Vir- 
ginia and Kentucky, stopping a time in Indiana. She was born in Kentucky. 
Mr. Douglass was the father of five children, and twelve grandchildren and 
more. Mr. Douglass has lived through a wonderful period and his experiences 
have been many, and the tales he is able to tell are of intense interest. He 
has made trips down the Mississippi river when the sale of human beings on 
the public streets was a common occurrence. Twice he has crossed the plains 
behind ox teams, and now he sees steam and even electricity crowd the oxen 
out. He has a valuable property and is a man whose every want is supplied. 
In appearance he impresses one with his varied experience by a manner of 
having lived a life worth the while. He is a man of exceptional pleasing ad- 
dress and is a gentleman of the old school. 

Mrs. Rhoda (Mills) Hester was born near Vermilion Grove, December 7, 

1827. She was the daughter of Ira Mills, one of the pioneers of the county. 
Ira Mills came to Vermilion County in 1822 and located two miles west of 
Vermilion Grove on what was later known as the great Mills farm, and which 
has remained in the possession of the family ever since. Rhoda Mills was 
very industrious, as became a daughter of a well ordered family, and during 
her days of young womanhood made use of the education she had received 
in the Georgetown school ; she herself became a school teacher and helped her 
family. Her parents were of the community of Friends, and in 1853 she 
became the wife of John Hester, a young man of the same faith. He was 
a farmer and accumulated a good property. Mrs. Hester was the mother of 
six children. Mrs. Hester was widowed in 1899 by the death of her husband 
and she moved from the farm to Ridge Farm. Her later life was a reward 
for the early days of patient forbearance and industry; for careful considera- 
tion of others pleasure, and straightforwardness of purpose. 

Abner Snow was born at Butlers Point, Vermilion County, October 28, 

1828, and he lived there all his life. His father, Marcus Snow, and his mother, 
Annis Butler, were one of two couples who were married in Vermilion County, 
the first wedding had in the county. Annis Butler was the daughter of James 


Butler, the man who made the first settlement in Vermilion County after the 
salt works. When James Butler went back to Ohio for his family, he found 
that his neighbors would not share the wilds of the new country with him, but 
he was not obliged to come on entirely alone, for young Snow wanted to 
come and he drove one of the teams. Nothing was more natural than that 
he should become a suitor for Mr. Butler's daughter Annis (perhaps he had 
already selected her before he left Ohio) and that they should be married and 
begin their new life near the home of her father. When Marcus Snow and 
Annis Butler were married they settled at where Westville now stands, but 
lived there only a few years, going thence to Catlin township, locating on land 
which was situated on the state road. Here Marcus Snow and his wife pros- 
pered and spent their married life; here the boy Abner grew into youth with 
its dreams and manhood with its cares. Here the elder Snow died and after 
a time, the wife of Cyrus Douglass having died, Mrs. Snow became the wife 
of Mr. Douglass. Abner Snow lived his life in Vermilion County, a prosper- 
ous farmer and a contented citizen. He married Miss Ashman and became 
the father of five children, to all of whom he was able to give a start in life. 

Samuel P. LeNeve is the oldest son of John and Rebecca (Newell) LeNeve, 
and together with his brothers and sisters, form worthy sons and daughters 
of Vermilion County. Samuel Perry LeNeve was born in 1828 and spent the 
days of his boyhood and youth in Newell township on the home place. He 
spent his winters in school, as good as could be found in the schoolhouses of 
that period. The extravagance of the present school buildings and furnish- 
ings seems unreasonable when a comparison is made between them and those 
of even this period when it was thought a schoolhouse of any kind was good 
enough. The schoolhouse in Newell township where Samuel LeNeve 
and his brothers and sisters for some years went, had benches made 
by sawing off the logs and driving pins in for legs. He later went to George- 
town, where he attended the school there which was in truth an excellent one. 
In 1852 he went to California by way of New Orleans, the Gulf of Mexico, 
and the Isthmus of Panama, crossing that neck of land by way of the Chagres 
river. When he reached the other side he found 7,000 passengers awaiting 
transportation to California. After a delay of nineteen days he secured pas- 
sage on a boat going to California, and was out fifty-three days, during which 
time he suffered for the scarcity of food. He stopped at the republic of Mex- 
ico, and remained there for twenty-two days, later buying a ticket on the 
Golden Gate steamship line, and went through to San Francisco. He soon 
secured work in Marysville, California, in the mines there. He received 
eighty, and later one hundred and ten dollars per month. He reached the limit 
of wages when he had one hundred and twenty dollars per month for work 
in Marysville. He later took up teaming, which business he followed for 
fourteen years. He then went to Nevada City and became identified with the 
grain and stock business, after which he made his home in Virginia City for 
two years. He then returned to his native place in Vermilion County, coming 
by way of New York City. Mr. LeNeve then engaged in farming on section 
23, carrying on stock raising, particularly breeding the short horn cattle. He 
later moved to the farm three miles north of Danville. Mr. LeNeve was a 


public-spirited man and has been a strong factor in the development of Ver- 
milion County. Mr. LeNeve was married in 1869 and settled in Pilot town- 
ship, where he accumulated much property. 

The Gundy family is one which has been prominent in the affairs of Ver- 
milion County since when, in 1822, Joseph and Sally Gundy, his wife, came 
to Ross township and settled. He came from Indiana, being a native of Penn- 
sylvania or Ohio. Mr. Joseph Gundy was a useful and enterprising man and 
a pioneer such as make for the advancement of any section in which he may 
choose a home. He died in 1846 and was buried in the Gundy burying 
ground near Myersville. Andrew Gundy was born on the Gundy place near 
Myersville, November 20, 1828, the son of Joseph and Sally (Davidson) 
Gundy. The first school Andy Gundy attended was one taught by George 
Stipp in a vacant house on the Luke Wiles place, just west of the North 
Fork at Myersville. He continued his studies in the schools of that section, 
going to Georgetown for his higher branches. He was busy on the farm dur- 
ing his youth, but when he was twenty-three years old he went into business 
for himself as a merchant in Myersville. He at the same time carried on an 
extensive trade in wool, grain and stock. He was a man of affairs and held 
many offices of trust and responsibility. He had a large private interest in 
coal lands, and when he was sent to the state legislature, was chosen as a 
member of the committee on mines and mining. He also served on two other 
committees, one of which was the finance committee. This was in the twenty- 
ninth general assembly. He was repeatedly elected as supervisor from Newell 
township, and he accumulated much property and his influence was extensive. 
He was identified with many important ventures of the county, one of which 
was the banking and other interests of John C. Short, in which he lost a 
large amount of property. Mr. Gundy was never married. 

John P. Donovan, a son of one of Vermilion County's pioneers, was born 
August 27, 1829, on Stone Creek, about two miles north of Danville. Al- 
though starting life with so little promise, he had an experience of adventure 
equalled by few men. When he was sixteen years old he left home and was 
employed on a farm until 1861, when he was seized with the California gold 
fever and started on foot and alone to Fairmount, where he took the train 
for St. Louis, thence by the way of the Missouri river to Omaha. At this 
point a company of eighteen equipped themselves with wagons and mules to 
start on a land exploring trip. After traveling over southeastern Nebraska 
and northeastern Kansas, they finally set out across the plains from Ft. Leaven- 
worth. They were forty-one days on the road. Thence they went to Golden 
City, where young Donovan worked by the day for two weeks, then started 
over the range, wading in snow in June, until he came to Blue river. There 
he found much excitement about California, and he went on there. He took 
a claim and went to mining about July ist in the snow, and after working two 
months, sold out, having made $1,600 as his share of the profits. He then 
went on to San Juan Mountains. At Taos the company, of which he was 
one, stopped to lay in a store of provisions and here fell in with Kit Carson 
who was organizing a company to go to the southwestern part of Arizona. 
Donovan was eager for this adventure, and they were soon on their way on 


this long and perilous trip. They traveled through the Navajo country where 
no white man had ever before ventured and met many thrilling adventures. 
Kit Carson impressed young Donovan very favorably and was always said 
to be a man of rare charm. He was kind-hearted and well-disposed toward 
every one, and while rough at times in manner and speech, he was in every 
way a true gentleman at heart. The company of which Mr. Donovan was 
one explored the country along the Colorado and Gila rivers in southern Cali- 
fornia and divided at Ft. Garland, returning to Colorado by diverse routes. 
At Buckskin Joe they put their money into the Phillips lead mine and had 
poor returns. After this Mr. Donovan went to Denver and Central City, 
where he worked by the day, having as wage $8 per day. Here he stayed 
nine months and invested a portion of his money in No. 3 Nottaway lead, 
which he and his partner worked for six months and he made $25,000. Being 
satisfied with his profits, Mr. Donovan returned to Vermilion County and 
bought a farm in Carroll township, there to spend the remainder of his days. 
John Folger was born in Elwood township, section 25, Harrison Purchase,. on 
September 17, 1829. His father, Latham Folger, had a tanyard, and the son 
spent his early years in work about it. Later he helped on the farm, and 
when he came to choose his life work, it was that of a farmer. He went to 
school more than did most boys at that time, first to the Vermilion Grove 
Academy and afterward to Bloomingdale, Ind. Mr. Folger was, as may be 
inferred from this choice of schools, the son of parents who belonged to the 
Society of Friends. He taught school for three winters and then settled on 
a farm. He married Miss Reynolds, whose birthplace was in Indiana. They 
were the parents of nine children. Mr. Folger was both a farmer and a min- 
ister in the Society of Friends. As a farmer he paid much attention to stock 
raising, choosing pedigreed short horns and Durhams in cattle, Poland-China 
and Berkshires in swine, and in horses he had Clydesdale, Norman and Whip 
breeds. Mr. Folger was called away from home often and he traveled ex- 
tensively in the interest of his church work. He went as far as the meetings 
in Philadelphia and other eastern cities, and into Iowa and Indiana. 

Minerva Martin was born in Newell township on August 16, 1829. She 
was the youngest of a family of eleven children, all of whom reached the 
years of maturity. She became the wife of Edward Rouse in 1846 and lived 
on the same place all her life. Mrs. Rouse was the mother of twelve chil- 
dren. Mr. and Mrs. Rouse celebrated their golden wedding October 4, 1896. 

Silas Dickson was born in Carroll township May 25, 1830. He was the 
son of David Dickson, one of the pioneers of Vermilion County, and he has 
been a worthy successor of that worthy man. His life was spent in fanning 
and stock raising, having more than once driven stock to New York City to 
market. That was before it was thought possible to ship them by train. Mr. 
Dickson lived at home until he was thirty-four years old. He always held an 
enviable place in the community. Henry Mills was born on what was known 
as the Thomas Brown farm near Vermilion Grove March 23, 1830. He was 
a son of Seth Mills, who with his parents came to Wayne County, Indiana, 
in 1815, and were pioneers of that section, he becoming in his turn a pioneer 
of Vermilion County, Illinois. He came to his farm near Vermilion Grove 








in 1828, and it has been in the family ever since. Henry Mills did not have 
his early education neglected, but as was the fact with the children of all those 
belonging to the Society of Friends, he was sent to school to the extent at 
least of a common school training. He followed the faith of his father, reach- 
ing the distinction of becoming an elder in the church at Elwood, and occupied 
the important position of "Head of the Church" at that place. In 1852 he 
married Mary Folger, herself a daughter of Vermilion County, she being born 
in Elwood township. They are the parents of eight children, all but two of 
whom settled not far from them. These two sons married sisters, and they 
all went to Oregon. 

William White was born in Blount township of Vermilion County March 
20, 1830. He was the son of James White, a pioneer of this section. James 
White was the father of fourteen children, ten of whom reached adult years 
and had families of their own. William had four brothers and a sister beside 
himself born in Blount township, and all but one brother settled in that neigh- 
borhood. The childhood and youth of William White and his brothers was 
spent in helping on the farm. A subscription school for three months during 
the winter was the only chance by which he could learn to read, write and 
cipher. More time was devoted to following the plow than to reading. From 
the time he was ten years old he followed the plow, driving oxen. At first it 
was a wooden mold plow, and afterward a single shovel plow, while the harness 
had a single line. He planted corn by hand, cradled the grain and bound the 
wheat by hand. He helped his mother "dip the candles" until they had moulds, 
and at times he saw a turnip hollowed out and filled with grease, into which 
there was a rag put and lighted for the purpose of giving- desired light. People 
at this time rode to church on horseback, as many as three people sitting on 
one sheepskin. William White owned the last yoke of oxen in his neighbor- 
hood. It was a splendid team, weighing 4,700 pounds, but the work done on 
the farm did not require their strength and at last he sold the team. William 
White married Elizabeth Wiles, who was a daughter of Vermilion County, 
being born in Blount township March 20, 1840. She was the daughter of 
Langford and Mary (Cassat) WSles. After they were married they settled 
on the eight-mile prairie, where there was not a house in sight. They lived in 
true pioneer style, but later all the conveniences of modern life were added to 
their home. 

E. H. Palmer was a prominent son of Vermilion County all his life. He 
was born in the home at the corner of Walnut and Main streets in Danville, 
Illinois, August 10, 1830. He was a son of Dr. Asa R. Palmer, a native of 
Connecticut. Dr. Palmer came to Danville when it was in its infancy and 
became a strong factor in moulding its future. He had an extensive practice 
throughout Vermilion County and is well counted one of its makers. Eben H. 
Palmer went to such schools as were to be had in Danville until he was fitted 
to enter Wabash College, at Crawfordsville, Indiana. When he was fifteen 
years old he went into the store of J. M. Culbertson, where he remained for 
a time, and then entered Wabash College, where he went for four years until 
he completed the course. Upon his return from college he clerked for a time 
and then entered into the partnership, being one of the firm of Humphry, 
Palmer & Co., general merchants and druggists. This was about 1885, and 


from that time to his death he was recognized as one of the most active and 
successful and prominent business men of the county. When his uncle died 
in the office of county superintendent of schools, Mr. Palmer was elected to 
fill out his unexpired term. At the close of this term he was needed to help 
organize the First National Bank and he became associated in this business 
with J. G. English and J. L. Tincher, and remained in this connection for 
thirty years. Mr. Palmer was cashier of the bank from the first, and it was 
his popularity as well as shrewd business insight that made the bank its suc- 
cess as much as anything. Mr. Palmer was interested in many enterprises, and 
accumulated much property. He was a valued member of the firm of Peyton- 
Palmer-English Co., which afterward became and yet is Peyton-Palmer Co., 
wholesale grocers, one of the firms to which Danville owes much. Mr. Palmer 
married Miss Frances B. Nelson of Urbana, in 1854. They became the parents 
of three daughters and one son. The youngest daughter became the wife of 
Loren Shutts, the son of John Shutts, the Wabash Railroad agent at Danville 
for so long a time. Mr. Palmer's son, Frank N. Palmer, is a minister in the 
Presbyterian church, who has risen in his profession to a high position. He 
is credited with being a recognized authority in the church on Bible study, as 
well as of ability in sermonizing. Mr. Palmer and family have always been 
prominent in the Presbyterian church. His father, Dr. Palmer, was one of 
the original members of the Presbyterian church of Danville, and Mr. Palmer 
took his place when he died. So closely was he identified with that church 
that there has always seemed to be an unfillable vacancy in the membership 
since his death. Mr. Palmer died in 1831. 

Sally (Johns) Copeland was the oldest child of John and Mary Johns. 
She was born in Blount township, Vermilion County, September 4, 1831. When 
Johns and his wife came to Vermilion County they settled on the farm adjoin- 
ing that of Samuel Copeland, and the children of the two families grew up 
together. When the oldest daughter, Sally Johns, was seventeen years old, 
Samuel Copeland went courting and she became his bride. She had been his 
sweetheart from infancy. They made their home in Blount township and in 
Danville. She died suddenly in Danville. Perry Copeland and his wife, Sally 
(Johns) Copeland, were the parents of two children, daughters, who married. 
The oldest, Helen, became the wife of A. D. Shepherd, and the younger, Lida. 
became the wife of Harry Fowler of this county. 

George W. Hoskins was born three and one-half miles southwest of George- 
town, near the Little Vermilion river, February 20, 1830. His father, Azariah 
Hoskins, came to Vermilion County in 1825, by flatboat from their home in 
Virginia, down the Ohio river to Cairo, in Illinois, where they took wagons 
and came to Vermilion County. It took several weeks for them to make this 
trip. Mr. Hoskins, the father of George W. Hoskins (who was born in Ver- 
milion County) settled on what was known as the Helt Prairie, and later re- 
moved to the vicinity of Georgetown in the timber, and married Sarah Swisher. 
When George W. Hoskins was about a year old his father moved to what is 
known as the Walnut Grove, or where Rossville is now located. He had 
bought a tract of land there and it did seem to be very near to the end of 


the settlements. There was only one family living in the grove and only one 
white family living between their house and Chicago, which was better known 
as Fort Dearborn. Danville had only one store in it at that time. George 
Hoskins never had any but home-made clothing, up to the time he was twenty 
years old. The material from which his garments were made was the product 
of his mother's spinning wheel and loom, and the cut and making was her work 
as well. When he was twenty years old he bought some cloth, hired a tailor 
to cut it, and had a neighbor woman sew it. They had no matches but hunted 
punk in the woods and made a fire by using flint and tow. This fire was care- 
fully kept, and if by any misfortune it should go out, someone must run to 
the neighbors and borrow a little on the shovel. The corn they raised was 
worth ten cents per bushel and other produce corresponding in price. He mar- 
ried Mary E. Gritton, who was born in Indiana in 1850, and afterward bought 
a farm in Ross township for which he paid $6 per acre. Mr. Hoskins was 
the parent of six children who lived to maturity and others who died in infancy. 
All of their children married and settled within six miles of them; they had 
bought the old home farm in 1867. Mr. Hoskins has served as tax collector 
and school director and been identified with the building of churches and 
schools in that neighborhood. 

James S. Sconce was born at Brooks Point November 14, 1831. There was 
no citizen of Vermilion County better known or more respected than this 
son; His father was Samuel Sconce and his mother Nancy (Walters) Sconce. 
Mr. Sconce came to Vermilion County in 1829, and here found Nancy Waters, 
who had come with her parents to near Brooks Point the previous year. James 
Sconce had one brother and one sister. These children were early taught in- 
dustry, and James lived on the farm until he was twenty-four years old, when 
he went into the store of Sconce & Bailey, drawing a salary of three hundred 
dollars per year. In 1859 he went to Kansas and preempted 160 acres of land, 
which, after a time, he traded for land in Illinois. It was when he began 
feeding cattle for himself that his fortune began. James Sconce, it is said, 
was the best feeder in Vermilion County, and no one has ever excelled him. 
His judgment was good and he seemed to know instinctively how to proceed. 
He married the only daughter of Harvey Sodowsky, the well known short- 
horn breeder of Vermilion County, and the man to whom a debt of gratitude 
is due as having introduced shorthorn cattle into this section. After his mar- 
riage, Mr. Sconce lived for one year in the home of his father-in-law, after 
which he located on the farm which has been made famous because of what he 
and his wife and son have done to improve it. At the suggestion of Mrs. 
Sconce, the name of Fairview has been given the farm, and each year it has 
grown more appropriate by reason of improvements made. Mr. Sconce bought 
and fed cattle and swine and rapidly accumulated a fortune. At his death in 
1888, Mr. Sconce was estimated to be worth from $200,000 to $300,000, every 
cent of which he had accumulated by farming and stock raising. The memory 
of this good man has not dimmed, and now he is spoken of to strangers in 
terms of praise not often given. His life was simple, his methods straight- 
forward, his manner gentle. He was kind-hearted to those in distress, gener- 
ous to the poor, indulgent to the weak, and charitable to the erring. Mr. 


Sconce was a man of pleasing appearance, tall with keen blue eyes. He was 
a man who would naturally have many friends ; he was popular and worthy 
the friendship of any man. He took great interest in matters educational, and 
particularly made the Wesleyan University his charge, making generous pro- 
vision for its welfare. He was ever ready to help any struggling young man 
who was trying to help himself, and in his death such as they lost a friend in- 
deed. In brief, Mr. Sconce proved by his life that he was a man any county 
might be proud to call son. 

Mrs. Sconce, the wife of James Sconce, was herself a daughter of Ver- 
milion County, of whom no less can be said. She was the only child of Harvey 
Sowdusky, and by reason of her lifelong wealth might have indulged herself 
in any luxury possible, but her disposition was otherwise, and she has lived in 
a spirit of unselfish helpfulness to others that is as rare as it is admirable. 
She makes her home on the well loved "Fairview" farm, which she shares 
with her only son, Harvey. Her works of kindness are many, and her chari- 
ties extended. Her home is ever the home of the preachers of the Methodist 
church, and to her any good cause appeals and receives her aid. Mr. and Mrs. 
Sconce were the parents of two children. The daughter became the wife of 
Mr. Will Cathcart, who is a banker of Sidell and lives at that short distance 
from her mother and brother. Harvey Sconce, the brother, has proven that he 
is as capable of the management of Fairview as the son of James Sconce and 
the grandson of Harvey Sowdusky should be. 

Jonathan Pratt and Nancy Stevens, natives of Indiana, both of them met 
and were married in Danville and began their married life at Brooks Point, 
but afterward moved from there into the Big Vermilion district. While liv- 
ing there Mr. Pratt enlisted in the Illinois Rangers, soon after the Black Hawk 
war, while yet they were located about Danville. He proved himself a fear- 
less soldier, when he was taken ill with cholera near Galena and died within 
six days of the expiration of his term of enlistment. This couple were the 
parents of two children, a son and a daughter of Vermilion County. Thomas, 
the son, was the youngest and was born at Brooks Point, as was his sister. 
When he reached manhood he, living in Brooks Point and the vicinity of the 
Big Vermilion, having received as good an education as was possible at that 
time, went off for himself, and for one year was a butcher in Danville. He 
was also interested in a market in that city. He afterward went to Westville, 
in Georgetown township, and was buying and shipping grain from that point 
for five years. For the next fifteen or more years he bought and shipped stock 
of all kinds. He lived in Georgetown township until 1880, when he went to 
Catlin township, having bought the farm of Mr. Sandusky. Mr. Pratt mar- 
ried Miss Nancy Scott in Brooks Point in 1851. She was a daughter of Ver- 
milion County, and was born in Brooks Point January 23, 1829. She died 
at Brooks Point December 5, 1870. Mr. Pratt afterward married Miss Mary 
E. Clayton. He was the father of ten children. Mr. Pratt has always been 
a man of unsullied reputation and a creditable citizen of the county. 

Amos Smith Williams, the son of Amos Williams, the man who held all 
the offices in Danville at the time of its first being, was a prominent citizen of 
Vermilion County for many years. He was born in Danville August 22, 1831, 


in the home place on South Walnut street. He was one of six children, all 
hut one of whom were born in Danville. The exception was the oldest child, 
a daughter, Maria Louise, who was born at Butlers Point. Amos Smith Wil- 
liams or "Smith" Williams, as he was better known, went to school in Dan- 
ville, and when he was ready for the higher studies, he went to Paris, Illinois. 
He spent seven years in California, at the expiration of which he came to Dan- 
ville and opened a hardware store. He was later interested in a queensware 
store and in the coal interests, and the last years of his life he was retired 
from all business cares. He had accumulated much property, besides that 
which he had inherited from his father's estate, and left his family with means 
of a luxurious living. He was associated with many interests of the city, and 
in most of them he was successful. He was instrumental in establishing the 
Iron Wagon Works and the starch factory, also a box factory, and he was 
vice president of the first street car company organized in Danville. Mr. Wil- 
liams was a man of rare business sagacity, and energy to put through an en- 
terprise when his judgment showed it to be a good one. He was wise in 
worldly works, and besides, was a man of the kindest heart, whom to know 
was to admire. Mr. Williams died February 14, 1891. In 1860, Mr. Wil- 
liams married Miss Sarah Jane, a daughter of George Greyson, a pioneer of 
Vermilion County, who came in the early thirties. Miss Greyson was herself 
a daughter of Vermilion County, she having been born in Danville, October 
19, 1835. Mr. and Mrs. Williams were the parents of five children, all boys 
but one. One of these children died in infancy. Of the others, Lynne, the 
oldest, became the wife of Well Beckwith and always lived across the street 
from her mother. Carroll has always lived with his mother, a devoted son. 
Mr. Williams and his wife were members of the Methodist Episcopal church 
in their younger life, but in later days Mr. Williams became very much in- 
terested in the Episcopal church, and went into its communion ; but Mrs. Wil- 
liams never left the church of her youth. 

Diadama (Bloomfield) Atwood is a daughter of Vermilion County, whom 
all who know her life, love to honor. She was born in Pilot township in 
1832, and has always lived there. Her father, Samuel Bloomfield, came to 
Vermilion County a pioneer, and became the father of twelve children. Mrs. 
Atwood was taught to read and write and whatever more was possible to crowd 
into the schools, which were in session only during the winter months about 
the neighborhood. After her father died she bought the old home place 
of ninety-two acres, and she secured forty acres through the division of the 
estate. They lived on the home farm and Mr. Atwood not only supervised 
its management, but was also a preacher in the Christian church. Mr. Atwood 
enlisted in Company I, One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Illinois Infantry, under 
the command of Colonel Harmon and Capt. Vinson, but he was not in any battle, 
yet his health was so completely undermined that he came home and died in 
less than six weeks from the exposure of the army life. Mrs. Atwood has 
lived her life since, a widow indeed, spending her time in the care of their 
children and grandchildren and in useful work. Her youngest child was but 
four years old when Mr. Atwood died, so that her task of rearing these little 
ones was no light one. When Mr. Atwood died the farm consisted of 160 


acres of land, but before the property was divided she had increased it to such 
an extent that there were three hundred and seventy-two acres. She gave 
each of her children forty acres and kept one hundred for herself, upon which 
she lives, and besides this has other farms elsewhere. She has been prosperous 
and at one time has fed more than forty head of cattle. She deserves much 
credit for her pluck and good management of her affairs. 

Daniel Brewer was born on the 5th of September, 1832, on a farm four 
miles northeast of Danville, in Vermilion County. He was a son of Richard 
Brewer, and his wife, Christina (Roderick) Brewer. Daniel Brewer spent his 
boyhood's days on the farm, and went to school near Danville at what was 
known as the Lamb district school. Mr. Brewer was married to Mariah Cun- 
ningham, who was a native of Clinton County, Indiana. They were the parents 
of eight children but all but three died in childhood. Mr. Brewer sold his farm 
and bought in Jamaica township, on section 30. His memory of Danville is when 
it was a hamlet of a few houses of round logs in one of which his sister Mary was 
born. The land on which the city of Danville was built was at that time worth 
fifteen dollars per acre. Their trading was done in Covington, Indiana, and Chi- 
cago. It was in Chicago that his father bought leather and hauled it in wagons. 
Calico was a precious article, and was worth twenty-five cents per yard. This 
was the popular material from which to make best dresses. Wheat was then 
worth fifty cents a bushel and corn from ten to twenty cents per bushel. When 
the canal was finished at Covington corn went up to twenty-five cents per bushel. 
Mr. Brewer has bought and sold cows for ten dollars. 

Jotham Lyons was born in Georgetown township, near the place his father 
first settled when he came to Vermilion County. His birth was September 25, 
1832. He lived the life of the sons of the pioneers to this section and attended 
the same schools that have so many times been described. The same privations 
and the same freedom were his. Jotham Lyons married Miss Worth, a daugh- 
ter of a pioneer settler of Wisconsin. They were the parents of six children, 
all but one of whom grew to maturity and had families of their own. 

John J. Partlow was the son of James Partlow, who in his turn was the son 
of Samuel, both of the latter being pioneers of Middle Fork township. James 
Partlow took up a tract of land on the Middle Fork as soon as he came in 1831, 
which was part timber and part prairie. He put up a rail pen for the temporary 
shelter of his family but John was not born until the log cabin was finished. 
He went to school in the log schoolhouse which had greased paper for window 
glass, and later attended the Georgetown Seminary, and the Danville Seminary. 
He had been employed in a drug store some two years before this, and after- 
ward he went as clerk in the dry goods store of V. & P. LeSeure, where he 
stayed three years. He then went into partnership with Mr. R. A. Short, and 
remained fhere for two years at which time he bought out Mr. Short and con- 
tinued the store by himself for twelve years. He went into the employ of the 
C. & E. I. R. R. at this time and continued in this service until his death. In 
1857 Mr. Partlow married Frances Giddings, the eldest child of William and 
Caroline Giddings. 

Golden Patterson was born on the same place where he now lives, which was 
the old homestead, July 17, 1833. His father came from Tennessee, a pioneer 








to the Little Vermilion and his mother came with her father, William Golden, 
to near the same place. Mr. Patterson, the father entered 500 acres of land 
from the government when he first came, and it rose in value until now it is worth 
a large price. Mr. and Mrs. Patterson were the parents of six children, the 
youngest of which was Golden. The mother of these children died when this 
youngest was an infant and the father survived her about ten years. Golden 
Patterson learned the trade of carpenter, but worked at it but little always 
seeming to be too great a success as a farmer to take up other employment. He 
has accumulated a large tract of land and has a fine farm. Mr. Patterson enjoys 
the confidence and esteem of all his neighbors and is well and favorably known 
throughout the county. It was in 1830 that Alexander Church and his wife and 
young family came to Vermilion County from Virginia and settled in three 
quarters of a mile west of present day Catlin. Mr. Church had married Ruth 
Carawayi before he came west and her relatives came to Vermilion County at 
the same time. Mr. Church made his home on section 3, and the land has re- 
mained in the possession of the family ever since. Two years later, a little son 
came to this home and William Church saw the light of day in the pioneers 
home in Vermilion County. This was the tenth child born to Mr. and Mrs. 
Church and before long the mother died. William grew up to all the discom- 
forts of a new settler's life, to all the privations and pleasures as well. Alex- 
ander Church lived until 1892 and had he lived two months longer he would 
have reached the age of ninety. William Church went to a subscription school 
in a time that the inconveniences of the school room were often as nothing to 
the advantages of having a good teacher. In those days the pupils were expected 
to do things that the present day school-boy would resent, if he were asked to 
do. But an unruly pupil made objections at great risk. A hickory rod always 
hung in plain sight and it was used to a purpose when occasion called its use 
forth. In 1852 William Church married Miss Hester M. Douglas, who was her- 
self a daughter of Vermilion County. Miss Douglas was born in Catlin town- 
ship, October 7, 1834, her parents being Thomas W. and Delilah (Payne) 

Thomas W. Douglas had entered land on the site of the county poor house. 
Mr. and Mrs. Church became the parents of five children, all of whom grew 
to maturity, and had families of their own. 

1833 : Asa Partlow, the son of Reuben and Elizabeth Partlow, was born 
in Danville, on South Hazel street, January 6, 1833. He was educated in the 
schools of Danville, attending the Methodist Seminary. In 1854 he became one 
of the firm of Lamm, Partlow & Company, which did business in the building 
where the present Danville National Bank is located. The building on that 
corner was remodeled a few years ago, but the location is the same. The other 
members of the firm of Lamm, Partlow & Co. were the father of Asa Partlow 
and Mr. William Lamm. After the death of Mr. Lamm, which occurred in 
1863, the firm name was changed to A. Partlow & Co., and later to Partlow & 
Draper, with a change of location to the Giddings block on Main street, near 
Hazel. February 26, 1857, he married Mary Murdock, who was also a resident 
of Danville. 


Asa Partlow was a pioneer in the Building & Loan buisness and was the first 
Secretary of the People's Building and Loan Association and continued in that 
office until it paid out, a period of ten years. He was secretary of the Equitable 
Building and Loan Association, until on account of failing health he gave it up. 
He died suddenly and was buried in Springhill Cemetery. Mr. Partlow was the 
father of three children, all of them boys. They all resided in Danville, except 
the oldest, Harry, who died. The other two are Edmond R. who took his 
father's business when failing health compelled him to give it up and Augustus, 
who is an attorney in Danville. 

Uriah Folger was born in Elwood township, April 23, 1834. His father, 
Asa Fogler, came to Vermilion County in 1831 and settled in the Elwood neigh- 
borhood. He was a tanner, and also a shoemaker and he carried on this busi- 
ness for years, doing such work for the settlers around. He had so much to do 
that he employed four or five men at times. 

Uriah Folger received his early education in the subscription school and his 
advanced training in the Bloomingdale Academy under Prof. Hobbs. He was 
an apt pupil, and has always been a typical quaker. He spent the years of his 
manhood as an exhorter in the church of the Society of Friends and was always 
considered a model of kindness and good deeds. 

Jonathan Larrance was another son of Vermilion County, born in this neigh- 
borhood in this same year, 1834. His parents came to this section in 1827 and 
made themselves a home. Jonathan Larrance attended the Vermilion Academy, 
then called the Vermilion Seminary, where he received his education in books. 
His entire life was spent in the same neighborhood where every one knew him 
and he knew every one. He was a good farmer and accumulated much prop- 
erty, and at his death in 1885, he left 295 acres of well improved land to his 
heirs. He was the father of seven children, six of whom survived him. 

Thomas F. Collison was born on the farm where he always lived, October 
12, 1834. When he reached the time when he was old enough to go to school 
a governess was employed to teach him. The other children of the household 
were taught by her and any in the neighborhood who chose to come were wel- 
come in the Collison home. Later he attended the subscription school, which 
was a typical pioneer school. In these schools the boys who were pupils were 
required to cut the fire wood and take it to the schoolhouse. In this school a 
testament was used as a reader and an old elementary spelling book was another 
of the text books. 

Mr. Collison lived at home until after the death of his father and when the 
estate was settled his share was one hundred acres of unimproved land and 
ninety dollars in money. Mr. Collison has been a man of great success in life. 
He has built one of' the finest homes in the county. He has now retired from 
active work on his farm and lives in Danville. He has been a son of which 
Vermilion County is justly proud. 

James A. Dickson, another worthy son of Vermilion County was born near 
Indianola, December 5, 1834. His parents had come from Kentucky to Ver- 


milion County in the twenties and settled on the Little Vermilion. Mr. Dick- 
son, the father, died when James was but three years old and his mother kept 
the family together and in 1853, she built a large house on the place, so suc- 
cessful had her efforts been. She died in the following year. James Dickson 
was one of a family of six children, all of whom died comparatively young. 
He worked on the farm after he was sixteen years old and had stopped going 
to school, and then on a piece of swamp land belonging to his brother and then 
bought some land of his own in what was Carroll township and now is called 
Jamaica township. The first wife of Mr. Dickson was Mary Frances Busby, 
and he later married Miss Amanda J. Shepperd, herself a daughter of Ver- 
milion County. She was the daughter of John and Nancy Shepperd, who 
were married in Vermilion County. John Shepperd owned the well known 
Shepperd mills. 

Amanda J. (Shepperd) Dickson, was born in Vance township, December 
20, 1832, and died July n, 1888. Mr. Dickson lived on the farm he first bought 
for eleven years, when he sold it and bought one on sections 22 and 27 in Ja- 
maica township with a portion of it in Georgetown township. He is a man 
of prominence in his community and well liked by all. 

W. T. Cunningham was a well known man of Danville up to the time of his 
death. He was born in Danville, February 8, 1834, the son of Heze- 
kiah Cunningham and Mary (Alexander) Cunningham, who made their home 
in Danville in 1828. Mr. Cunningham, familiarly known as "Bud," grew up and 
went to school in Danville. His first work for himself was as clerk in a drug 
store, where he remained for five years. He was appointed to clerkships under 
the government both in Danville and Washington. President Lincoln, of whom 
he was a personal friend appointed him collector of the Seventh District. He 
was afterward elected Clerk of the Circuit court and repeatedly reelected. Later 
he was made Master in Chancery. Mr. Cunningham married Miss Lucy Lamon 
in 1859. She was the daughter of John Lamon, one of the early settlers of 
Vermilion County. They were the parents of five children, one of whom died 
in infancy. Mrs. Cunning-ham died in 1875. 

Later Mr. Cunningham married Miss Stansbury. 

Michael Fisher was born in Carroll township, within half a mile of Indianola. 
November 6, 1835. He was the son of David Fisher, and there' were four chil- 
dren in the family beside Michael. This son was brought up on his father's 
farm and went to the subscription schools during his school days. He was mar- 
ried in 1864 to Maryette Baum, daughter of John Baum, herself a daughter of 
Vermilion County. She was born in Indianola. Mr. Baum continued farming 
for a dozen or more years after he was married and then he went into Indianola 
and had a hardware store. 

Mr. and Mrs. Fisher were the parents of three children, a son and two 
daughters. One of the daughters became the wife of Joseph Sidell and the other, 
the wife of Harvey Sconce. Casper James Langley was born in Danville town- 
ship, February 25, 1835. His father located in this place in 1830, coming from 
Kentucky. Casper Langley was the youngest child of a family of four. He 
lived on the farm helping his mother after his father's death. He was thir- 
teen years old when his father died. He was very prosperous and accumulated 


much property during his active life. He married Miss Anderson, from New 
York state, in 1865, and they were the parents of nine children. 

James Juvinall was born in Pilot township in 1835. He was the son of 
Andrew and Mary (James) Juvinall, who came to Vermilion County in 1827, 
in a prairie schooner, from Ohio. In the school where James Juvinall had his 
early training the seats were slabs laid on poles and there was a long writing 
desk made by laying a plank upon wooden pins driven into the wall. Mr. Juvi- 
nall always remembered how the Indians held meetings at the foot of the hill 
where they lived. He lived on the home farm until he was married in 1858 
and then took one hundred and twenty acres in Blount township. Here he 
lived until 1892, when he moved to Danville and went into the implement busi- 
ness. He then went to Denmark, where he lived for a short time and then 
bought his farm, upon which he settled for the remainder of his life. He has 
always been an active worker in the Methodist church. John R. Smith was born 
where Fithian Station now stands. March i, 1836. His father was William W. 
Smith, who came to Vermilion County from Ohio in 1830. John Smith was 
the fourth child of his parents and he lived at home until after the death of 
his father, when he went to live with his brother-in-law, Thomas Armstrong, 
who lived near Rossville. He went to the schools in the neighborhood and to 
this, he added a term at Danville and one at Knox College. He married Jose- 
phine Stewart, who was a daughter of Vermilion Co. being born at Danville. 
She was the daughter of James Stewart, who came to Vermilion County from 
Connecticut. Mr. Smith ran a hotel in Rossville for three years, after which he 
had a grocery store for many years. He carried on this business for many years 
meanwhile building a large neat house on a part of the Stewart farm in which he 
had his home and to which he retired when his business career was at an end. 
Mrs. Smith died in 1885. In 1889 Mr. Smith married Mrs. Sarah J. Parlow, 
whose father was James Duncan. Mr. Smith was the father of five children, 
four sons and a daughter. 

Seth Fairchild was born near Danville, Illinois, October 14, 1836, the son 
of Ormaband and Hannah (Wagnon) Fairchild. He was twenty-five years old 
when the war opened and he enlisted in the Twenty-fifth Illinois and served to 
the time of discharge, September 5, 1864. He was in several engagements 
and otherwise suffered the hardships of war and when he came home he located 
in Danville. He was employed to carry the mail from Danville to East Lynne 
for two years, at the end of which time he moved to Potomac and carried the 
mail between that place and Danville for six years. He then bought himself a 
farm in Blount township, where he continued to reside the remainder of his life. 
Mr. Fairchild married Miss Lyon in 1865 after his return from the army. They 
were the parents of seven children. Mr. Fairchild died on his farm, March 
13, 1886. 

William Cossairt was born near the city of Danville, July 5. 1836. His father 
was David Cossairt, who came with his father, who was a pioneer of Vermilion 
County. When William Cossairt found himself able he bought out the other 
heirs to the home place and there made his home for life. This farm is located 
on section 4, Middlefork township, and adjoins Potomac, making an ideal lo- 
cation for a home. Mr. Cossairt married Louisa A'. Smith, whose father came 


from England. Miss Smith was born in Vermilion County, and here grew to 
womanhood. They were the parents of nine children, all but two of whom 
lived to have families of their own. Mr. Cossairt always commanded the respect 
and friendship of his neighbors and had their good will. 

Robert A. Short was born in Vermilion County in September 14, 1836. His 
father was Thomas Short and his mother Nancy Ann (Lanham) Short. He was 
one of a family of six sons and three daughters, all of whom were born in Ver- 
milion County. John C. Short, the oldest of the family, was a very prominent 
citizen of Danville and the county up to the time of his removal to New York 
city. He did much for the development of the resources of Vermilion County, 
and but for misfortune would have remained in Danville and continued working 
for its progress. Alexander C. Short married the daughter of Dr. Hill and after 
living in Danville for some years, moved to Los Gatos, California. 

Robert A. Short went to a country school until he was prepared to enter 
the Danville Seminary, from which he graduated in 1858. He first went 
into a drug store after he left school, where he remained twelve years. Then 
he established the firm of R. A. Short & Co., being the senior member. This 
firm handled the dry goods trade to profit up to the time Mr. Short retired 
in 1893. Since this time Mr. Short has been interested in real estate insur- 
ance and loan business, and with the exception of a residence in Evanston of 
a short time, he has been a continuous citizen of Vermilion County for seventy 
four years and the story of his life would be the story of the life of the county. 
Mr. Short married Miss Emily Murdock in 1838. They were the parents of 
six children, four of whom grew to maturity. 

George S. Cole was born in Danville, January 25, 1836. His father was 
Peleg Cole, and was well known in the community for years. George Colt grew 
to manhood in Danville and in 1860 he married Elizabeth Waples, who herself 
was born in Vermilion County. She was the daughter of William Waples, an 
early settler of Vermilion County. George Cole enlisted in the One Hundred 
and Twenty-fifth Illinois Infantry and served the full term of his enlistment. 

When he returned he took up the business interests which had been his 
care before he went away. Mr. Cole made Danville his home for the remainder 
of his life. He was the father of three sons and one daughter. Two of his sons 
went west. His remaining son, Ralph is the popular and much esteemed coroner 
of Vermilion County at present. 

Milton A. McDonald was born in Vermilion County, the son of Alexan- 
der and Catherine (Alexander) McDonald November n, 1826. Milton A. 
McDonald and his brothers and sisters went to school at Georgetown, 
where his father had moved for that purpose. Milton helped on the farm 
when not in school until he was about eighteen years old, when he began 
clerking in his father's drug store in Georgetown and from there he went to 
Pontiac, where Mr. McDonald had some land interests. Mr. Milton McDonald 
married Miss Jackson of Terre Haute, and they became the parents of a large 
family of children, only four or five of whom grew to manhood and woman- 
hood and had families of their own. In 1861 Milton McDonald came to Dan- 
ville and clerked in a dry goods store for a time. After a while he set up a 


hardware establishment of his own and he continued in this business until he 
went to Dakota. 

John Brady was born in Danville township, February i, 1837. He was a son 
of John Brady, who came to Vermilion County in the early days, and his was 
the common pioneer home, with the common pioneer hardships. His school 
was the common pioneer school and he had the privilege of the times. When 
the war broke out Mr. Brady enlisted in the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth 
Illinois Infantry and served until the end of the term. Mr. Brady married 
Miss Mary Conlin and they were the parents of four children. 

John Brewer was born in Danville, July 7, 1837. His father was William 
Brewer who came to Danville early in the thirties. He had the cabinetmaker's 
trade, and had the distinction of building the first frame house in Danville. 
Mr. Brewer was one of seven children, six of whom were boys. He lived at 
home until his father's death, after which he learned the carpenter's trade, and 
after his marriage moved on the farm upon which he spent his life. His first 
wife was Harriet Kester, who was born in Ohio, and has second wife was 
Sarah Oliver, who was born in Vermilion County. She was a daughter of 
John and Elizabeth Oliver, and was the mother of seven children. Mr. Brewer 
is one of the substantial citizens of his neighborhood. 

F. M. Olehy was born May 3, 1837, in Danville township, the son of Dennis 
Olehy. He was one of a large family and was obliged to early help himself. 
He lived in his home neighborhood, but after his marriage he went to Warren 
County, Indiana, where he lived for some time. In 1868 he returned to Ver- 
milion County, 111., and bought a farm on section 10, Danville township, where 
he made his home. Mr. Olehy married Miss Minerva J. Martin, in 1858, and 
they were the parents of four children. 

Asa Ankrum was born at Yankee Point, March 10, 1837. His father was 
David Ankrum, and was an early settler of that part of the county. Asa 
helped his father to make a good farm, and when he was able to do for him- 
self, he did as well and had a home to be proud of. When he died he left a 
competence for his family. He was married in 1865 to Rhoda C. Mendenhall 
and they were the parents of ten children. Mr. Ankrum died in 1886. 

Elisha C. Fithian was born November 8, 1837, in Danville, the son of 
Dr. Fithian. He was the youngest of three sons, and after going to school 
in his childhood began farming for himself on the farm where he now lives 
when he was seventeen years old. During his father's life this son superin- 
tended the work on this farm. Mr. Fithian married Miss Anna M. Hayes in 
1865, and they had a family of five children. He has always been a stanch 
republican, having voted for Lincoln, being acquainted with him through meet- 
ing him at his father's house. 

George Dillon was born in Georgetown January 6, 1837. His father was 
Kuke Dillon, and came to Vermilion County in 1830, from Ohio, making the 
journey in a six-horse team. George Dillon stayed at home until he was 
twenty-one, helping first his father, and when he died, his mother in the work 
of the farm. He then bought a farm near Georgetown, where he lived until 
the beginning of the Civil war. He was a member of Company D, Twenty- 
fifth Illinois Infantry, and was in many battles. June 7, 1864, he was wounded 







in the right arm and sent to the hospital, and the arm was taken off close to 
the shoulder, and in February, 1865, he was sent home. Mr. Dillon was a 
strong republican, and his party loved to honor him. He was first elected town 
clerk of Georgetown township, and later Vermilion County selected him as 
assessor and collector, and again and again as circuit clerk. This office he held 
for a dozen years. He held other offices from time to time. Mr. Dillon mar- 
ried Miss Desdemona Martin, herself a daughter of Vermilion County. She 
was born in Georgetown in 1841. She was the daughter of Henry Martin and 
Mary (Morgan) Martin, being the granddaughter of Achilles Morgan, a man 
active in the making of Vermilion County. They were the parents of six 
children who have grown to manhood and womanhood and married well and, 
like their parents and grandparents and yet another generation back, their 
great grandfather, are well esteemed citizens of Vermilion County. 

Mr. J. L. Smith, who was born in Georgetown July 27, 1837, was an hon- 
ored pioneer son of Vermilion County. He was the son of Joseph Smith, who 
came to Vermilion County from Tennessee. J. L. Smith married Mary Ann 
Cook in 1861. She was born in Ohio. About this time Mr. Smith went into 
a pork packing house where he showed his capacity for work. This same 
energy and industry made him the success in all he undertook to do. 

Almond N. LeNeve was born in Newell township March 9, 1837. He 
was a younger brother of Samuel P. LeNeve. He left Vermilion County for 
Champaign County in his twentieth year, and remained there until after his 
marriage. He married Miss Nancy J. Ford and they were the parents of 
eight children. He returned to Newell township, however, and spent the re- 
mainder of his life on the old home place. Mr. LeNeve and his family have 
always been reckoned among the leading citizens of the county. 

Francis Asbury Collison, like his brother who has been mentioned, was 
born in Vermilion County. The date of his birth was June 25, 1837. His 
early life was very like that of his brother. He married Miss Nannie J. How- 
ard, in 1866. She was a daughter of Vermilion County, being born in Pilot 
township in 1846. She was the daughter of Joseph and Sarah (Martin) How- 
ard, who came to Vermilion County a pioneer. Mr. and Mrs. F. S. Collison 
were the parents of nine children, all but two of whom lived to grow up. Mr. 
Collison had his start in land by inheritance from his father, but he has ac- 
cumulated land until he has more than his father died possessed of. He has 
dealt in stock to a great extent all his life and shipped in large numbers. While 
he had some assistance when he started in life, his results are more due to 
effort and energy than to anything else. 

Josiah Sandusky was born in Carroll township September n, 1837. He 
was the son of Abraham Sandusky. The two Sandusky brothers, Abraham 
and Isaac, had large families and named the children identical names so that 
the relationship is difficult to follow. Josiah Sandusky had his school train- 
ing in the subscription schools, and after he was a man he was very much 
interested in matters of reading, so that he gathered a large and valuable 
library in his home. He took much pleasure in his library. At his father's 
death he inherited some land, to which he added until at his own death he 
owned about 1,000 acres of very valuable land in eastern Illinois. He remained 


at home until after his father's death, which occurred when he was twenty- 
five years of age. After that he went into partnership with his brother Abra- 
ham, and this connection continued for many years. Josiah Sandusky became 
one of the best known stock men in the United States. Stock dealers would 
come from all parts of the United States and Canada and buy of him. Josiah 
Sandusky was also one of the leading breeders of fast horses, both running 
and trotting stock. Mr. Sandusky married Miss Margaret Moreland, a native 
of Bourbon County, Ky. Mr. Sandusky was the father of five children, all 
of whom lived to have families of their own, except the oldest, who died in 
infancy. Mr. Sandusky died February 13, 1901, and was buried in the San- 
dusky cemetery in Carroll township. 

William Cunningham was an extensive stock raiser of Newell township 
and was born December 15, 1838, in the same township. He was the son of 
James and Mary (Andrews) Cunningham. He was the third child in a family 
of four children. He lived at home on the farm until he was about eighteen 
years old, when he went to Nebraska, where the breaking of prairie sod was 
not as exciting as he had thought, so he went on to California. He started 
from Nebraska to Pike's Peak, in 1859, and from there went on overland to 
California. Here he mined and farmed, meeting with varying degrees of suc- 
cess for four years, and at the end of that time he returned to Illinois with 
$1,200 in his pocket. With this he bought his father's farm and made other 
investments. He has added to this land from time to time. He married Miss 
Chandler in 1865, and they became the parents of seven living children. Mr. 
Cunningham secured a farm of large proportions worth at least $70 an acre. 
He has made much money in buying and shipping live stock to Chicago. He 
has always found pleasure in raising a fine breed of horses, and he was ever 
a good judge of that animal. 

William Hester was born in Vermilion County May 17, 1838. His father 
was Thomas Hester, who came from North Carolina, settling in Vermilion 
County in March, 1838. Thomas Hester was attracted to this section of the 
country, doubtless by reason of the many members of the Society of Friends 
who lived here at that time. William finished his education, as did so many 
of the young people of that society, in Bloomingdale Academy, under the in- 
struction of Prof. Hobbs. William Hester taught school two winters, with 
which exception he has been a farmer all his life. Mr. Hester married Miss 
Marie Mills in 1860. Her father was Ira Mills, who came to Vermilion County 
in 1821. She became the mother of two children, one only of whom is living. 
She died January 19, 1863. Mr. Hester married Miss Rachel Stafford, of 
Vermilion Grove, for his second wife, in 1867, and she was the mother of 
three children, only two of whom are living. His second wife died, and Mr. 
Hester was married to Miss Martha Hawkins, of Coles County, in 1887. Mr. 
Hester made a specialty of fine bred swine and short-horn cattle, as well as 
keeping sheep and graded horses. 

Samuel Blair, the youngest of a family of seven children, was born in New- 
ell township December 5, 1838. He married Mill Mary M. Casart, daughter 
of Peter and Mary Casart. who came to Vermilion County from Kentucky. 
Mr. Blair owns a large farm, which he improved and made a specialty of 


short-horn cattle. His place was always noted for the fine shade trees, which, 
it is said, were noticed, and furnished shade for all travelers from Chicago to 
Cairo in the early times. They were an oasis on the bleak prairies. Mr. Blair 
would carry produce to Chicago when he was a young man to market. Mr. 
Blair has always been found to be a public-spirited man. Charles T. Caraway 
was born in Catlin township October 22, 1838. After his youth had been 
passed on the farm, just as he was choosing and making ready for his life 
work, the Civil war broke out and he enlisted in the service of his country. 
His regiment was the Thirty-fifth Illinois Infantry, and he saw many battles. 
At the battle of Mission Ridge he was severely wounded in the left leg and 
was kept in the hospital for nine months where he suffered greatly. General 
Rosecrans put his name on the roll of honor together with those of some of 
his companions, on account of bravery and daring in that engagement Shortly 
after the close of the war Mr. Caraway married Miss Jennie Dougherty. She 
was the daughter of William Dougherty, who came to Vermilion County from 

William J. Davis was born in Danville August i, 1838. His father was 
James A. Davis, who was the first school teacher in Danville. William Davis 
is the oldest of five children. He went to school to his father in Newell town- 
ship, and afterward went to the schools of Danville until he was nineteen years 
old, when he went as a clerk into the store of V. & P. LeSeure, where he 
remained a year. He was next in the employ of W. R. Gessie for six months, 
and then was appointed deputy county clerk under J. C. Short, serving for 
four years. At that time he enlisted in Company C, One Hundred and Twenty- 
fifth Illinois Infantry, under Capt. William Fellows and Col. Harmon. When 
he had served four months he was ordered home because of sickness from 
exposure. He could not leave his home for a year after that on account of 
his condition. When he had recovered he was appointed as deputy in the 
office of the circuit clerk who had been county recorder when Mr. Davis en- 
listed. He was in the office of the circuit clerk for four years, and at the end 
of that time he went into the abstract business for five years, after which he 
was interested in real estate. Mr. Davis has been retired for some time, being 
in poor health. Mr. Davis married Miss Baker in 1863. They were the 
parents of three children, two sons and one daughter. Their oldest son died 
at the age of eighteen. 

Perry Frazier was born in Georgetown November 13, 1838. His parents 
were Abner and Mary (Millican) Frazier. While but a young man, Perry 
Frazier took charge of the management of his father's farm. During the first 
year he had charge he raised fifty head of hogs, that being at that time an 
unheard-of thing to do. He married Miss Eliza J. P. Patty when he became 
twenty-one and then rented his father's farm until he was obliged to leave 
this part of the country on account of his wife's poor health. The change did 
not help her, however, and in two years she died in Missouri. When he re- 
turned to Georgetown, Mr. Frazier again rented his father's farm, on which 
he lived for fourteen years. Meanwhile he married Miss Mary J. Moore, a 
daughter of John and Hannah Moore, who lived near Georgetown. Mrs. Fra- 
zier lived until 1901. After her death Mr. Frazier moved to Georgetown. 


E. J. Draper, more familiarly known as "Ed" Draper, was born in Ver- 
milion County in 1839. His father was Jonathan Draper. When the son was 
five years old the family moved back to Vermont, where he spent his youth, 
living there until he was nineteen years old, going to school at Bennington. 
He came west in 1857, stopping a while at Sydney. From that time until poor 
health compelled him to retire, he was in some way or other interested in the 
life of a merchant. He enlisted in 1862 in the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth 
Regiment, Illinois Infantry, Capt. Fellows and Col. Harmon in command. This 
regiment saw hard service. When Mr. Draper returned from the war he 
found employment in the office of J. C. Short, county clerk. After he went 
into the grocery business in Danville, Mr. Draper was for eight years located 
on west Main street, but later went on Vermilion street. He remained in that 
location many years, and the city missed his store when his health no longer 
permitted him to carry on the trade. Mr. Draper was one of the merchants 
upon whom a community could depend, and his going from the ranks of mer- 
cantile interests was indeed a loss to the city. Mr. Draper was ill for a long 
time and died in 1810, He married Miss Angeline Probst. She was a woman 
of unusual helpfulness of nature, and their friends were legion. Mrs. Draper 
is very much loved by the community, where she has been such a friend in 
time of trouble. Mr. and Mrs. Draper were active in their work in the Kim- 
ber Methodist church, where they held membership from its organization. 

Henry Fletcher and his wife were both born in Vermilion County. He 
was born at Vermilion Grove October 28, 1839. His father was John Fletcher, 
a consistent member of the Society of Friends. Henry had a good common 
school training, and afterward was under the instruction of Prof. Hobbs in 
Bloomingdale Academy. In 1861 Mr. Fletcher married Mahala Haworth, the 
daughter of Eli Haworth, one of the early settlers. She was born in George- 
town October 15, 1842. She became the mother of eight children, six of whom 
lived to maturity. Mr. Fletcher developed a fine farm. He always was an 
influential member of the Society of Friends, and was connected with the order 
of Modern Woodmen. 

John \V. Fisher is the brother of Michael Fisher, and his younger days 
were spent in very much the same way as was his brother. He was born in 
Carroll township. He married Miss Mary L. Dye in 1861. He later moved 
to Kansas, but tired of the country, and came back to Vermilion County, where 
he rented a farm of his father, and afterward bought land on which he raised 
stock and sold it in the city markets. Mr. John Fisher was the father of eight 
children. Mr. and Mrs. Fisher are members of the Presbyterian church, and 
well esteemed. 

Priscilla (McCarty) Black was born near Muncie, Illinois. She was the 
daughter of John McCarty, who came to Oakwood township from Ohio a 
short time before her birth. She became the wife of Samuel Black in 1858. 
She was tfie mother of nine children. 

Harrison Fairchild was born in Blount township on Christmas day, 1840. 
He was one of a large family of children of Daniel Fairchild. All of these 
children went to a subscription school while they were small and then went to 
Danville to the Danville Seminary. Harrison was at school there at the out- 


break of the Civil war and he left his studies to enlist in Company B, Twenty- 
fifth Illinois Infantry, under Capt. Walls. That regiment saw some hard serv- 
ice, and in the battle of Chickamauga Mr. Fairchild was wounded in the leg. 
He was afterward in the charge of Missionary Ridge, when he was wounded 
in the arm by a piece of shell. He received his discharge at Springfield Sep- 
tember 5, 1864. When Mr. Fairchild returned to Blount township he farmed 
near the old homestead. In 1865 Mr. Fairchild married Miss Lannam, who 
was a daughter of this county. Their family of thirteen children all grew to 
useful manhood and womanhood but one. One of their sons is a preacher, 
and so also is one of the sons-in-law. Mrs. Fairchild died in about 1905, and 
Mr. Fairchild married Miss Fannie Smith, the daughter of one of the early 
settlers. Mr. Harrison Fairchild has always been a prominent member of the 
First Methodist church. 

Nathaniel R. Fairchild was born at the home place August 15, 1843. He 
had a twin brother named Daniel who died in the army. Mr. Fairchild mar- 
ried, in 1869, Miss Elizabeth Fitzgerald, and she died in 1874. She was the 
mother of three children. He then married Mrs. Sarah Dove, who was born 
in Vermilion County June n, 1842. Mr. Fairchild's entire life has been spent 
in Vermilion County. 

Francis M. Fairchild was born in Blount township April 20, 1848. He 
was the eighth son in the Fairchild family. When he was twenty-two years 
old he married Miss Ina B. Fitzgerald. She, too, was born in Vermilion 
County. Her birthplace was but a mile and a half from the Fairchild home, 
and the young people had always known each other. She was the mother of 
fourteen children. Only three of these died before they had reached man- 
hood and womanhood. Mrs. Fairchild died in Colorado, where she had gone 
to have her health restored, in 1894. Mr. Fairchild was again married in 
1897, this time to Miss White. She was the mother of three children, but they 
all died in infancy. Like the others of this family, Mr. Fairchild was ever a 
devoted Methodist. He and his brother were the first of the farmers in this 
neighborhood to tile their land and redeem it from the swampy condition. 

John W. Newlon was born in Blount township June 13, 1840. His father 
was Thomas B. Newlon, and his mother was Miss Angeline Griffith, the daugh- 
ter of Stephen Griffith, and widow of Mr. Makemson. Mr. Newlon, the 
father of John Newlon, came to Vermilion County in 1837 with his 
father. The father of John Newlon's mother came in 1826. John Newlon 
was the eldest of the seven children in his father's family. In June of 1861 
he reached his majority and in July he enlisted in the army in Company I, 
Thirty-fifth Illinois Infantry. He was wounded at the battle of Kenesaw 
Mountain, and was twice taken prisoner, but both times managed to elude the 
vigilance of the captors and to make his escape. When he returned from the 
army he married Miss Ivea Y. Taylor, a daughter of Thomas A. and Ivea 
Taylor, who came to Vermilion County in 1853 and located in Catlin township. 
They are the parents of five children, four girls and one boy. In 1888 Mr. 
Newlon came to Danville and was appointed deputy sheriff under J. C. Gundy, 
filling that office for two years. In 1890 he was elected sheriff, and during his 
term the great strike of the American Railway Union occurred, and at the 


same time five thousand miners went out on a strike. His handling of this 
most unusual condition of affairs was so well appreciated that when his terni 
of office was over the people of Vermilion County elected him treasurer with- 
out opposition. He served four years as treasurer and then became chief 
deputy sheriff, serving for three and one-half years under James Sloan. He 
was then appointed commissary in the Danville Branch of the National Home 
for Disabled Soldiers and Sailors. Mr. Newlon has always been a stanch 
republican and has faithfully served his party. In all his service of the public 
there has never been one whisper of aught but the most decided adherence to 
the right. He has been a public officer which is a credit to the county of 
which he is a son. 

Isaac Rees was born near Vermilion Grove on November 28, 1840. Ten 
years before this, his parents came, with twenty-two others who belonged to 
the Society of Friends, to Vermilion County. Mr. Rees married Miss Ara- 
minta Mills in 1868, a daughter of William and Hannah Mills. She was born 
about a mile and a half west of Vermilion Grove, and represents one of the 
best known families in Vermilion County. Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Rees were the 
parents of five children. Unlike the spirit of most Quakers, Mr. Rees en- 
listed in the army, his loyalty to his country influencing him more strongly 
than the ideas of his religion. 

Henry F. Canady was born at Vermilion Grove December 12, 1840. Like 
the above-mentioned son of Vermilion County, he did not hesitate when the 
call to arms came at the time the flag was fired upon. The fact that he had 
been trained to the ideas of peace, and that those of the society to which he, 
belonged never sanctioned war, his answer to the call by enlisting in the service 
of the country is more noticable. Mr. Canady enlisted in the Twenty-fifth Illi- 
nois Infantry, Company A, and was in many engagements. He later served in 
Company E, Twelfth Kansas Mounted Infantry. Mr. Candy mrried Miss 
Maggie S. Brewer, in 1875. She was the mother of three children; but one of 
these lived to grow to womanhood. 

William Jasper Olehy was born in Danville township July 24, 1840. He 
only went to school a short time, and spent his youth on his father's farm. 
When the war broke out he enlisted in the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth 
Illinois Infantry and served during the entire term of service. He married 
Miss Mary A. Olehy and they made their home in Pilot township. They were 
the parents of but two children. Mrs. Olehy died in 1880. 

Henry Davis was born in Vermilion County May 5, 1841. His life has 
been spent on a farm. He married Miss Cox for his first wife and Rebecca 
Baird for his second wife. He was the father of three children. Mrs. Re- 
becca (Baird) Davis died in 1883, and he married Miss Belle Pemberton. 

O. B. Gravat was born in Blount township June 16, 1841. He was a hor- 
ticulturist and first introduced fruit raising into Blount township. His father 
was one of the pioneers of this section and entered 320 acres of land at twenty- 
five cents per acre. This land is worth more than $100 per acre today. When 
he was a boy he had to go to mill at Perrysville, or Covington, Indiana, and 
many has been the load of produce he has hauled to Chicago over roads in 
which there were many sloughs and ponds. When he was twenty-three years 








old he was ordained as a preacher in the Christian church and he has preached 
more or less, but never has taken a regular charge. Mr. Gravat was one of 
six children in his father's family. It was always a matter of pride that Mr. 
Gravat, the father, hauled the lumber to build the first court house in Dan- 
ville. In 1873, Mr. Gravat married Sarah Chenoweth. Mr. and Mrs. Gravat 
were the parents of nine children. 

William Current was born in Newell township November 27, 1842. He 
was one of eight children and the eldest. When he was sixteen years old he 
left home to do for himself. He learned the trade of harnessmaker, but did 
not work at it. When he had his trade learned he clerked in a dry-goods store 
for a time. During that time the Civil war was in progress, and in 1864 he 
could resist no longer but enlisted in the Thirty-seventh Illinois Infantry, Com- 
pany K, under the command of J. C. Black. After returning to Danville he 
was in the employ of first the Wabash and then the C. & E. I. Railroad for 
some time. After he had abandoned the railroads, he went on his father's 
farm and took charge of it. Miss Margaret Ellsworth became the wife of 
Mr. Current and the mother of three children. She was one of the daughters 
of Vermilion County. She died in 1878. Mr. Current married Miss Mary A. 
Makemson for his second wife. She, too, was a daughter of Vermilion County, 
having been born in Newell township in 1858. Mr. Current, while living in 
Danville, was city clerk for one year. After going to Newell township to live, 
he was sent as supervisor of the township. 

James A. Current, who also was born in Vermilion County in 1842, lived 
in Newell township. When he was married, he began his new life on the old 
homestead. Mr. Current married Miss Mary Lynch in 1859. They lived on 
the old homestead until 1872, when he moved to Danville and had a grocery 
store and butcher shop. In 1872, however, he moved back to farming and has 
continued it since then. Mr. Current was the father of six children. 

Thomas W. Blakeney was the fourth child of a large family of children, 
and was born in Georgetown township July 19, 1842. He was, like the rest 
of the family, of great strength and fine personal appearance. He remained 
about his father's farm until the outbreak of the Civil war, when he enlisted 
in the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Illinois Infantry, Company K, under 
the command of Capt. Cook. While in the battles of Chickamauga and Mis- 
sionary Ridge he was slightly wounded in the thigh, but it was not a serious 
wound. While charging up Kenesaw Mountain he was seriously wounded and 
always afterward carried the five buckshot in his body that he received that 
day. He made the famous march to the sea with Sherman, and while at 
Atlanta he was promoted on account of special act of bravery. Mr. Blakeney 
tried living in the new west after he came from the army, but in due time 
came back to Vermilion County, where he has since made his home at We-- 
ville. Mr. Blakeney married Miss Matilda Brooks in 1868. She was the 
granddaughter of Benjamin Brooks, the early settler whose name was given 
the point of land upon which he settled. Matilda Brooks was born at Brooks 
Point, in Vermilion County, the daughter of John Brooks. She was named 
for her grandmother Brooks. Mr. and Mrs. Blakeney were the parents of 
three children, but one of which lived past infancy. 


George Canaday was born in Georgetown township November 18, 1842. 
He was the son of the pioneer who came to this county early in the thirties. 
He married Miss Mary Jane Smith in 1867. He thought to better his condi- 
tion by moving west of the Mississippi river in the same year that he was 
married, and he did, entering a good farm in Missouri. They lived on this 
farm until seven years afterward, when Mrs. Canaday became so homesick 
they all came back and settled in Vermilion County. At that time, their family 
included three children. Two more children were born after they came back 
to Vermilion County, and making the entire family excepting those born in 
Missouri, sons and daughters of Vermilion County. 

November 2, 1842, Ira Babb was born in the same house in which he spent 
his life. This house was built by his father in 1830. His life has been spent 
in general farming and the manufacture of drain tile. He married Minerva 
E. Canaday in 1882. Mr. Babb made an interesting collection of old-time 
articles, including an almanac printed in 1829. 

John W. Giddings was born in Danville April 21, 1842. His father and 
mother were both born and reared in England. Mr. Giddings was one of a 
family of eight children who grew to maturity. He was the oldest son. He 
remained in his father's employ learning and practicing the trade of carriage 
painter, until when, in 1862, he went into the service, enlisting for ninety 
days. After he came home he was sick for a year but again enlisted, in 1864, 
in the One Hundred and Thirty-fifth Illinois Infantry, serving until the fol- 
lowing fall, when his term of enlistment was over. In 1865 he and his brother 
Charles, and brother-in-law, Mr. Stewart, formed a company to carry on his 
father's business. This arrangement continued for four or five years, when 
he and his brother bought out their brother-in-law, and later he bought out 
his brother and assumed the entire management of the business. He was a 
man of shrewd business ideas and his establishment was a pride to Danville. 
Mr. Giddings married Miss Samantha A. McKee, who was born in George- 
town. Mrs. Giddings is the daughter of Elijah Abigail (Starr) McKee. 
and has the blood of the pioneers of Vermilion County in her veins very 
strong. Her father came to this county in 1838 and settled east of Danville. 
He was a prominent citizen, being not only an authority in his neighborhood, 
but had the influence to be elected circuit clerk and holding the office for eight 
years. Mrs. Gidding's mother was the daughter of Absalom Starr, who was 
one of the first men to come to Vermilion County. The first deed recorded 
in the county was that of the property of Absalom Starr. Mr. and Mrs. Gid- 
dings are of the well esteemed citizens of Danville and live in a handsome 
house on Hazel street. The other sons of William Giddings all lived in Dan- 
ville the most of their lives. Some years ago Mr. Charles Giddings moved to 
Evanston, where their children could be educated at home, but the others all 
remained in Danville. 

William H. Newlin was born in Georgetown September 4, 1842. His father 
came to Vermilion County in 1832. He married Miss Henderson, and in this 
way Mr. Newlin is not only the son of one pioneer, but the grandson of an- 
other. His marriage with Miss Hawes made him yet more closely connected 
to the early settlers of this section. Mr. Newlin was a volunteer in the Civil 


war, who had more than his share of the hardships of the army. He enlisted 
in the Seventy-third Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He was in battles and was 
captured at the battle of Chickamauga, sent to Richmond, smallpox breaking 
out among the prisoners. Mr. Newlin became a victim and was sent to the 
hospital. It was then that he and five other soliders made their escape, an 
account of which is very interesting. Mr. Newlin became a merchant after he 
returned to Georgetown, and afterward held public office. He married Miss 
Hawes, the daughter of Dr. Hawes, in 1868. They were the parents of three 

William H. Mills and his brother Richard Mills were both born in Ver- 
milion County and have lived their lives here. They have practically lived to- 
gether, having the same interests. William Mills was born in Elwood town- 
ship, February 18, 1843. He and his brother Richard, who was two years 
his junior, took the management of their home farm when they were twelve 
and ten years old. They had great success, and with all their accomplishments 
they have been great breeders of Clydesdale horses. William H. Mills mar- 
ried Miss Anna Woodard in 1879 and afterward went to live on the Holiday 
farm, which he had bought. The two brothers were the joint owners of nearly 
800 acres, and farmed together under the firm name of R. & W. H. Mills. 
Mr. Richard Mills lives on the old homestead. His mother is yet living there. 

Samuel W. Baum, the son of the pioneer, Samuel Baum, and the grand- 
son of Michael Weaver, was born February 15, 1843. He was the eighth in 
a family of eleven children, and the first boy. He owns several farms, the 
homestead including 700 acres. He has been a "cattle man of renown," there 
being no better stock of short-horns to be found than on his farm. Mr. Baum 
married Miss Delia F. Stewart, who was born in Georgetown. She was edu- 
cated in that place, coming to the Danville high school when she was sixteen 
years old. 

Francis M. Gundy was born in Ross township, Vermilion County, May 7, 
1843. ^ e i g a son f Joseph and Sarah (Davison) Gundy. Mr. Gundy be- 
longs to a family which has been a great factor in the developing of Vermilion 
County. He married Mary E. Smith, in 1854. They were the parents of three 
children, two daughters and one son. The son died while yet young. Mr. 
Gundy began his experience as a merchant in Marshfield, Indiana. He later 
had an interest in the store in Myersville. Later yet he, in partnership with 
Mr. A. M. Bushnell, had a general store in Bismarck. He is now the director 
in banks in which he is interested and is the president of the one in Bismarck. 
He has kept the old Gundy home place in good shape and preserved the forest 

John D. Campbell was born on section 23, Newell township, June 7, 1843. 
His parents were Joseph and Eliza (Makesmome) Campbell. His grandfather, 
Samuel Campbell, was a pioneer of Vermilion County, coming in 1828, and 
settled on the farm on which John Campbell was born. John Campbell was 
one of a family of five children, three sons and two daughters. He was the 
oldest son and the second child. With the exception of a few terms of school 
that he taught, Mr. Campbell devoted his entire time to farm work. In 1869 
John Campbell married Miss Julia Howard, and they were the parents of four 


children. After the death of his first wife, Mr. Campbell married Miss Mary 
K. Barger. She was born in Newell township October 26, 1861. She became 
the mother of three children. Mr. Campbell has had a very successful life. 

Charles Snider was born in Blount township December 15, 1843. His 
parents were John and Mary (Blount) Snider. His grandfather was the man 
for whom the township was named. He has been distinguished as being in- 
terested in horticulture. He was eighteen years old when he enlisted in the 
service of his country. He enlisted in Company D, Thirty-fifth Illinois In- 
fantry, under Capt. Timmons and Col. Chandler. At the close of the war 
Mr. Snider again took up farming and stock raising. He married Miss Mar- 
garet Allhands in 1845. They were the parents of nine children, all of whom, 
excepting one son, died while yet young, although only two died in infancy. 

Joseph Col Vance was born in Oakwood township June 2, 1844. His 
parents were John W. and Deziah (Rathborn) Vance. He was one of a 
family of two children, his sister being the wife of Samuel Tilton of Catlin. 
He was a soldier in the Civil war and has held several offices during his life. 
In 1869 Mr. Vance married Miss Lydia E. Mathewman, and they have been 
the parents of six children. 

John W. Bandy was born in Danville April 8, 1844. His father was Wil- 
liam Bandy, one of the prominent pioneers of Vermilion County, and his 
mother was the sister of J. H. Murphey, another pioneer. Mr. Bandy was 
one of seven children of William Bandy. He spent his first five years on a 
farm, after which he always lived in Danville. He entered the office of the 
Danville Plaindealer, of which Mr. Leslie was then editor, and remained there 
until 1864. He then went into the office of Dr. Humphreys, where he read 
medicine and practiced a little. Mr. Bandy afterward became a druggist, in 
which business he continued as long as his health would permit, since which 
time he has been retired. Mr. Bandy has accumulated much valuable prop- 
erty. He was married twice and has one son. Of the large family of Mr. 
William Bandy, Mr. John Bandy and his sister Emma are the only ones left. 
Mr. Bennett Bandy, another brother, was a very prominent citizen of Dan- 
ville during many years until his death in about 1904. The family of children 
were all born in Vermilion County. 

Amos Cook was born in Vermilion County, in Elwood township, Decem- 
ber 15, 1845. His father was Daniel Cook, and his mother was Hannah Hes- 
ter, the daughter of Thomas Hester, also a pioneer of eastern Illinois. Mr. 
Amos Cook, the son, married Maria Haworth, a prominent member of the 
Society of Friends. He never lived outside of Elwood township. 

Thomas Haworth was born in Elwood township July 12, 1845. He was 
the son of Joel Haworth, who came to Vermilion County as early as 1825. 
Mr. Haworth died July 12, 1885. 

James Barnett, another son of Vermilion County, was born April i, 1845. 
In 1874 he married Miss Lucinda Martin. They are the parents of five chil- 
dren. In 1878 they moved to Kansas on account of the health of Mrs. Bar- 
nett. After a while the land in Kansas rose in value and they concluded to 
dispose of it and return to Vermilion County. They have been citizens of 
the section ever since. 


George Prather was born March 15, 1845, on a farm in Ross township. 
His father was Uriah Prather. In 1862 he enlisted in the service of his coun- 
try. His term of enlistment was for about one hundred days. At the end 
of that time he was mustered out. Mr. Prather married Cynthia A. Beebe 
in 1887. They were the parents of three children. 

David Meade was born in Newtown, October 4, 1845. He was the son 
of William Meade and the grandson of Nathaniel Meade. He lived through 
his youth in Oakwood township, going to school in the schools of the day. 
He early became a school teacher and taught in Oakwood township and in 
Vermilion County, Indiana, through the most of his life. He taught school 
in Eugene, Indiana, with great success. He was there in the capacity of school 
teacher for nine years. In 1881 he went into the Danville schools as prin- 
cipal of the Douglas building. He remained in the schools of that place for 
fourteen years, a part of this time as principal of the Franklin school. The 
year after he was in the Danville schools he was principal of the township 
high school at Perrysville. When he gave up school teaching, Mr. Meade 
took charge of his farm northwest of Danville. He also has a farm in Wayne 
County, Illinois. Mr. Meade married Miss Lucy Hosford in 1873. They are 
the parents of four children. 

John Spouls was born February 26, 1845, on the farm on which he spent 
his life. He was but a baby when his father fell from a horse and met his 
death. He grew up on the farm, and when he married he and his brother 
divided the farm and he took the south half. He has increased his portion 
from time to time, making much profit from feeding and selling fine cattle. 

Martin J. Barger, at present the governor of the Danville Branch of the 
Home for Disabled Soldiers and Sailors, is a son of Vermilion County. He 
was born February n, 1845, m Newell township. He was the son of William 
J. Barger. His father died when he was quite young, and his mother mar- 
ried again. Upon this he left home and apprenticed himself to the shoemaker's 
trade. He did not work at this trade, however. When the war broke out, he 
determined to enlist, although he was but sixteen years old. He made appli- 
cation to Capt. McKibben, but was laughed at. Nothing daunted, he followed 
the soldiers to Springfield and thence along until they had reached Cape Girar- 
deau. At every place he insisted on enlisting and was everywhere laughed at, 
for there were plenty of men ready to go into the service and he was a boy, 
who looked even younger than he was. He had attached himself to the Twen- 
ty-fifth Illinois regiment without enlisting, and gone with them as far as For- 
sythe, Missouri, where he made one more appeal to Capt. Wall of Company 
B, and was told it was no use, that he would die in a few days. He insisted 
on following the army whether they would let him or not, and they gave him 
an outfit and a suit of clothing. In about a week the army was in motion for 
Batesville, Arkansas. The boy started with them and the first day he kept up; 
the second day he did not get into camp with his command, and the third day 
did not arrive until late at night, and the fourth day he lost sight of the army. 
He had a little money and could get his meals along the way and make in- 
quiries of directions. He camped out at night and moved forward footsore 
and weary and went into Batesville but a little behind the army. When he was 


first seen the cheers rang out long and strong. He had not been seen for a 
week, and everyone thought him either captured or dead. When the time came 
to pay off the army he was asked if he wanted pay. "If you think I will 
make a soldier," he answered. "O, you'll do," was the answer, and the boy 
was given the payroll to sign, and he was legally a soldier. He was wounded 
at the battle of Chickamauga and taken prisoner. He was held about ten days 
and then paroled. He was not exchanged until the next summer. He re- 
mained with his regiment until he was exchanged, but not doing duty. He 
was discharged in March, 1865. His wound was of such a nature as to in- 
capacitate him for hard work, and he draws a pension. He has held public 
office often in his life and has been one of the officers of the Home since its 
being established here. When Governor Clements died and made a vacancy, 
Mr. Barger naturally succeeded him, having been his assistant for some time 
previous to this time. 

John Goodwine, Jr., familiarly known as "Jack," was born December 2, 
184.8, on a farm not far from Potomac. In December, 1870, Mr. Goodwine 
married Miss Mary K. Alexander, who also was born in Vermilion County. 
Mrs. Goodwine did not live but two years after her marriage, however. After 
her death Mr. Goodwine went west to Colorado. He returned and again took 
up his farm life. Mr. Goodwine was married the second time to Miss Lane. 
They have been the parents of a large family of children, all but one of whom 
have lived to grow to maturity. He had one daughter as the child of his first 
wife. She became the wife of L. D. Lane, a farmer of Vermilion County. 

Thomas Watson is a son of Vermilion County, born February 18, 1846, 
near Danville, a son of John R. Watson, who came to this county from Ken- 
tucky in 1829. Mr. Watson married Miss Sarah E. Adams, herself born in 
Vermilion County, the daughter of Samuel Adams. Mr. and Mrs. Adams were 
the parents of five children, all of whom lived to grow up. 

Mrs. Julia (Payton) Harper was born in Vance township, Vermilion Coun- 
ty, Illinois, February 8, 1847. She was the daughter of John M. Payton, and 
she became the wife of Albert Harper May 29, 1873. 

R. Bruce Smith was born in a house at the corner of Main and Franklin 
streets, in Danville, December 26, 1847. He was the son of Isaac P. Smith. 
He was conspicuous in different lines from being a clerk in a general store 
or even before that time, when he sold the LaFayette papers to the citizens 
after the 10 o'clock P. M. train came. He had two well known sisters, one of 
whom became Mrs. Kane, and another who became Mrs. Crane. Both of them 
were very active in church and social duties. 

Beriah Haworth was born in Vermilion County, in Elwood township, Sep- 
tember 15, 1847. He was the son of David Haworth. Mr. Haworth married 
Miss Anna Lewis, and they were the parents of three children. They were 
members of the Society of Friends. Mr. Haworth has been a breeder of fine 

Mrs. Mary C. (Acree) Taylor was the daughter of Joel and Elvessa 
(Yount) Acree. She was born in Catlin township, November 12, 1848. She 
became the wife of Thomas A. Taylor in 1869. She has been the mother of 




a large family of children, and ten of them lived to maturity. Mrs. Taylor 
lives in a beautiful home in Catlin, with everything to make life pleasant. 

Jacob K. Robertson was the oldest of a large family of sixteen children. 
He was born in Newell township September 22, 1848. He married Miss Me- 
lissa Britingham of State Line, in 1872. Her parents were early settlers in 
Vermilion County, and she was born in Pilot township November 24, 1848. 
They were the parents of five children. 

Mrs. Emma (Porter) McDowell was born in Carroll township, one and a 
half miles east of Indianola, April 3, 1849. She was the daughter of William 
Porter, who came to Vermilion County from Kentucky. Emma Porter be- 
came the wife of John A. McDowell in 1869. At this time Indianola was 
called Chillicothe. Mrs. McDowell was the mother of seven children. 

This list of elder sons and daughters of Vermilion County makes no pre- 
tensions to being complete. It would be impossible to get a complete list, and 
it would not be worth while to attempt it. Were the list not limited to the 
elder ones, it could be very much lengthened. There are many whose birth 
comes just beyond the limit of 1850, which has been set, whom Vermilion 
County has shown a pleasure in honoring and whose lives have proven their 
right to such appreciation. Charles A. Allen, Samuel Collison, William T. 
Cunningham, Thomas Woolverton and John Frazier have their time of birth 
in 1850 or the nearby years, and all deserve mention as among the elder sons 
who have made the county famous in different ways. But the limit must be 
fixed at some point, and no better date could be chosen, perhaps, than the 
middle of the nineteenth century, beyond which the sons and daughters should 
no longer be considered as elder ones. 



Vermilion County has been noted for its farms and farming interests. The 
southern part of the county was early settled by an industrious and serious- 
minded people, and the fertile lands were duly made into fine farms. The in- 
troduction of short-horned cattle into that section by Harvey Sodowsky awak- 
ened an interest in the raising of well-bred stock, and gave an impetus to cattle 
breeding which could not have been secured otherwise. 

The Sandusky family, which was a large one and in which there was much 
landed interest, all were good stock men, and took great pride in the cattle 
they could show. Mr. Josiah Sandusky made a specialty of showing stock at 
fairs, and was almost always a prize winner. His breed of cattle was the short- 
horns. Mr. Sandusky was also a noted breeder of horses. His line was road- 
sters and trotters. He had many horses whose record was 2 :2O. 

Vermilion County has produced much valuable stock in the line of horses, 
both as fast-going animals and as heavy breeds. Mr. Lew Green of Carroll 
township, is at present the most extensive breeder. Mr. Buchanan of George- 
town, has produced some nice horses. Mr. Thomas Bennett of Rossville, was 
at one time an extensive breeder of horses which took premiums at the state 
fairs. Mr. Bennett was and yet is a large breeder of the Duroc Jersey swine. 
His farm, near Rossville, has been the place for years from which this stock 
goes to every part of the United States and Canada. He has done much to 
introduce other than the popular Poland-China swine into Vermilion County. 

The great prairie lands of a part of Vermilion County were utilized as 
grazing lands for cattle until since it was estimated that their value per acre 
was too much to warrant such a use, and the feeding of cattle to any great 
extent has passed from this section. The Gundy family in Newell township, 
the Sanduskys, and John Sidell together with John Sconce in the southern 
part of the county, as well as the Sullivans in Sidell township at yet an earlier 
day, and the Collisons in the western part, all made this industry a paying 
business twenty years ago. Cattle and swine were bought in the Chicago mar- 
kets or from smaller farms and put on pasture on the grassy plains and then 
fed for sale when their condition was satisfactory. 



In the early days the cattle and swine were driven to market. And since 
the market was at Philadelphia or New York City, this getting of the stock 
so far in good condition was a task. There are yet men who have driven or 
who knew men who drove their stock as far as these places. It was not an 
uncommon sight to see droves of cattle, or swine go through the streets of 
Danville on their way through the county to the eastern market. Later the 
shipping was made by the Wabash Railroad, and the stock was driven to 
State Line from any point west of there to be loaded on the cars. It was no 
strange thing to see Mr. Andy Gundy send a trainload of swine on the 
Wabash to New York City. 

There was much corn raised, and it was more profitable to feed this corn 
and sell the finished product than to sell the corn itself. But that period of 
the history of Vermilion County is long since passed. It is only here and there 
that the value of stock raising is appreciated, and the land is urged to go to 
its limit in grain production without the help it should have from the addi- 
tion of stock. 

The poultry interest finds many enthusiasts in the county. A poultry as- 
sociation is sustained and the annual meeting in January brings out a crowd. 
Among the fanciers are to be numbered O. L. McCord, Mr. Russel, Mr. John- 
son, Dr. Jones of Sidell, and others so numerous as to forbid mention. Catlin 
township has been prolific in producing poultry men. The state poultry show 
has met in Danville several times. While the breeder of fancy poultry has 
been much in evidence, the influence of his care has had its effect on the 
farmer and small breeder of poultry to the extent of raising the standard 
throughout the county. The flocks of poor bred poultry so prevalent even ten 
and fifteen years ago, have disappeared, and well selected well culled fowl are 
to be seen along the highways or in the enclosures of the farms of the county. 

As much cannot be said of fruit growing in Vermilion County as of stock 
raising. Much more interest might be taken in this branch of agricultural pur- 
suits to an advantage to the county. Most of the farm homes have some at- 
tempt to having a few trees, from which fruit for the use of the family can 
be gathered, but there is little effort to make this branch one of profit. 

In 1860, W. W. Littell came to Oakwood township from Middletown, 
Ohio. He brought about a half bushel of peach seed with him and planted 
them. The next year he had a great many little trees, which he gave away. 
People came from miles around, and he gave them the trees. For a long time 
the results of his coming to Vermilion County were very evident. There was 
a great quantity of peaches raised in the neighborhood, and all the peach or- 
chards are not yet gone. Mr. Nesbitt, living near Catlin, is at present the most 
extensive fruit grower in the county. 


[Contributed by Harvey Sconce.] 

The word "corn" has been in use from earliest times. At first it signified 
a grain, as we use the term today when speaking of a single kernel, seed or 
particle. Later the name was applied to all cereal crops in general, and in 


Europe this custom still prevails. It was not until during the early coloniza- 
tion of America that the name "corn" was legally accepted in its present ap- 
plication. In one of the counties of Pennsylvania a man had been indicted for 
stealing so many bushels of corn, and in course of the conflict his counsel took 
exception to the word as it was used, on the ground that this was not the per- 
fect description of Indian corn. The exception, however, was overruled by 
court, who thus decided that corn was the established name for Indian corn. 
The old name maize is still used to some extent. It is a later construction from 
ma-his, a Haytian word. We also find the term "Indian corn" used consid- 
erably, even in the present day. 

Some authorities claim that corn is of eastern origin, and to substantiate 
this statement they have attempted to show that the cereal, was mentioned in 
ancient Chinese literature before Columbus discovered America. Some of our 
most eminent botanists, however, have very successfully refuted this argument, 
and they have been able to show conclusively that America is the original home 
of corn. Traditions have it that as early as the year 1002 A. D. Karlsefn, and 
again in 1006 Thorfin, both Norsemen, each saw and brought home in their 
ships ears of corn from what is now Massachusetts. But stronger evidence is 
presented in the ears of corn which have been found with mummies of Mexico 
and Peru. We know, too, that Columbus discovered corn when he first landed 
on American soil. 

As to the distribution of corn in Europe, it is claimed by good authority that 
Columbus took it back to Spain with him on the return from his great voyage. 
From Spain it was taken into France and Italy, although we know that its 
spread must have been very slow, for it was nearly a hundred years after the 
discovery of America before we find any mention made of corn in France. 
From Italy corn was taken into Switzerland and Hungary, and from Hungary 
to Austria and eastern Europe. From Switzerland it was taken into the valley 
of the Rhine, and from Portugal corn was taken into Asia. 

Indian corn entered into the mythological and religious ceremonies of the 
Indians, both of North and South America, long before they were disturbed 
by civilization. When the white men came to live among them, they told 
them how to select the best ears for seed and how and when to plant it. To 
be sure their methods were very crude; since the land was covered by a dense 
forest, it was necessary first that this should be cleared away. When spring 
came the squaw, who did most of the work, proceeded to plant the corn. With 
a sharp stick she made holes in the ground about four feet apart, and after 
putting a fish or several crawfish into each hole, she planted the seed on top 
of this and covered it with soil. The fish were used as fertilizer. In the fall 
the corn was picked and stored away in pits dug in the ground. Such, then, 
were the methods adopted we are led to believe by our forefathers when they 
began farming on our native soil. 

The first successful attempt of the English to cultivate corn in North Amer- 
ica was in 1608, along the James river, in Virginia. A year or two later it 
was said that as much as thirty acres of corn were cultivated there. It is re- 
corded that as early as 1650 corn, to the extent of 600 bushels, was exported 
from Savannah, and in 1770 the amount exported from this same place had 


reached 13,598 bushels. However, during the period intervening numerous ex- 
portations were recorded, ranging from 10,000 to 250,000 bushels, so we know 
that even at this early date, more corn was raised than was needed for home 
consumption. In 1770 the total amount exported from the colonies was 578- 
349 bushels, and in 1800 2,032,435 bushels were exported. By this we see 
that the development during this period was very rapid, at least that consider- 
ing the fact that agricultural implements were little known, and that there 
were no transportation facilities to speak of. The main increase in production 
was the result of increased acreage. 

As to the origin of the corn plant itself, some botanists have endeavored to 
show that Teosinte, a rank growing forage plant, is its progenitor. Teosinte 
is a native Mexican plant, and is called by Watson "Zea canina." Recently 
Montgomery has expressed a similar theory. He states that corn and Teosinte 
may have had a common origin, and he intimates that in the process of evolu- 
tion it is probable that the pistillate spikes in Teosinte were developed from 
the lateral branches of a tassel-like structure, while corn was developed from 
the central spike. Further, he suggests that the progenitor of these plants was 
a large much-branched grass, each branch being terminated by a tassel-like 

From the natural characteristics of the corn plant we may safely conclude 
that the distribution of the species was necessarily of an artificial nature, for 
the seed has no wing or appendage, which would permit it to be blown about 
by the wind. Furthermore, the perishable nature of the seed was directly op- 
posed to nature's methods of scattering the species. It seems safe to assume 
that the species that exist today have either been developed by man and per- 
petuated by this same agency or that man came upon the plant soon after its 
useful development, and at once began to cultivate it. There are at present 
eight species of the genus Zeas. 

In 1814 there were only five varieties of corn (Zea Mays) known, j. e., 
Big Yellow, Big White, Little Yellow, Little White and Gourdseed. Both the 
large and small varieties were flinty, corresponding to the old type of flint corn. 
The gourd-seed corn represents perhaps the first step in the development of 
the dent corn of today. It was characterized by a deep pointed soft kernel of 
either white or yellow color. By 1840 nearly forty varieties were known. 
These were based primarily upon color, size of ear, and density of kernel. At 
least one of our present standard breeds had its origin previous to that time, and 
others soon followed. 

Corn production in Vermilion County was possibly first practiced by the 
Indians, but it is surely correct that the first white settlers that came to this 
county brought with them some of the improved types of corn that were being" 
raised in the states from which they moved. During the earliest days, about 
all the corn produced was for home consumption, and for feeding livestock, as 
there were at that time no means of transportation, but as the years went by 
and civilization began to make its advance beyond the Wabash river, then there 
were great quantities of corn raised, and either hauled to Eugene and Perrys- 
ville and put aboard boats, or fed to livestock and the animals driven on foot 


to these markets and sold. They were then shipped to the Ohio and Mississippi 
rivers and to the larger markets for export. 

About this time the great possibilities of the eastern and central parts of 
Illinois, including Vermilion County, for the production of corn and livestock 
became apparent to the financial interests of the east, and within a few years 
new lines of transportation were brought to this country, in the form of the 
Wabash and Illinois Central railroads. This meant a new market, better prices, 
and consequently a larger acreage along the new lines of railroads, and the 
corn production was greatly increased during this period. 

The country was what is termed raw prairie. This meant miles and miles 
of swamps covered with a heavy growth of wild grass, and at this time there 
was no drainage at all, therefore only the higher portions of the fields were 
farmed. These swamps and wild prairies were the homes of countless thou- 
sands of wild fowl, such as geese, ducks, prairie chickens and others, and while 
they furnished food for the families, still they did a great amount of damage 
to the growing crops. The geese would pull up the young wheat and oats in 
the spring, while the prairie chickens would scratch out the corn planted in 
May and June, injuring the stand in the field, and these pests with the ad- 
verse weather conditions, poor farming implements and with the undrained 
soil, made corn production anything but a pleasure. 

Not before 1850 were any distinctive types of corn produced, nor was any 
thought given to establish a breed of corn, as was practiced in livestock, and 
not until 1893 was it found to be possible to breed corn on scientific lines, and 
to get results that were anticipated. From 1850 to 1900 the farmers of Ver- 
milion County were very extensively engaged in livestock farming, consequently 
raised a greater percentage of yellow corn than white, as the yellow varieties 
were preferred for feeding cattle and other livestock, as most varieties of yel- 
low corn contain a higher percentage of protein, the muscle-building and fat- 
tening constituent of the kernel. Some very superior varieties of yellow corn 
were developed during this period, in this and adjoining counties and states, 
such as Reid's Yellow Dent, Learning, Riley's Favorite, Golden Eagle, Legal 
Tender, Cattle King and others, while the white varieties that were developed 
along with the yellow varieties, were Boone County White, Silvermine, White 
Superior, Silver King and others. The white varieties have received in the 
last ten years more attention than in all the preceding years; as with the de- 
cline of the cattle industry in the corn belt, simultaneously was the decline in 
the production of yellow corn, and at the present time 75 per cent of all the 
corn produced in the corn belt is white corn. 

To show with what persistent efforts some of our forefathers toiled with 
this plant, an extract from an account of an old settler will suffice: "We began 
to breed this corn a short time after my father brought the seed from Kentucky 
in 1848. I used the best ears that I could find in the field in the fall by going 
through and selecting the earliest and best-shaped ears free from mixed grains 
and at the same time being careful to get ears that grew out and down from 
the stalk, so as to turn the water out of the ears, as you will know all ears 
that grow straight up with the stalk are filled at the butt in the fall with 
water and spoiled, and also very hard to shuck, and never grow even on the 


stalk. I will say that it took me ten years to get the corn to send out ears at 
an even height and to grow on a small shank with just enough husk to cover 
the corn and no more. I was fifteen years getting rid of the red ears, and some- 
what longer in getting rid of white cobs. We make our selection of seed in 
the fall as we gather, so we can get the best ears from the stoutest stalks, the 
proper height from the ground, and also those not having too much shuck." 

If more of our farmers of the county would pay the attention to their corn 
crops that this man did, the advancement and resulting profits would have 
been greater. It was the common practice years ago and in a few cases is 
still being followed, that the corn field was the same year after year, 
as it was thought that these soils were inexhaustible. I have been told by men 
of mature years that the fields of this county were planted to corn for a period 
of forty consecutive years, to their knowledge. Is it any wonder that at the 
present time the general average of the corn belt is so low? These fields are 
being put into a general rotation with oats and clover and are beginning to give 
better results. 

It is now about fourteen years since investigations with a view to the im- 
provement of corn by breeding began, but before entering into an explanation 
of the scientific part of corn breeding as practiced by a few in Vermilion 
County and the state as well, it would be advisable to mention some of the 
important elements that go to make up the structure of the corn plant, assist 
in its growth, and the elements of plant food that enter into the consruction 
of the perfect stalk and ear of corn. 

The structure of the body of the corn plant (Zea Identata) the corn of the 
corn belt and the corn of commerce, is composed of many minute cells. These 
cells vary in shape and size in different parts of the same plant, and in different 
plants. The cell is filled with a living material called protoplasm. The greater 
part of protoplasm is cytoplasm, a colorless material of granular character. In 
addition to the cytoplasm, the nucleus or governing portion of the protoplasm 
is generally located in the center of the cell. Xucleoplasm forms the major 
part of the nucleus, although the vital principle contained therein is the chro- 
matin. Cells multiply, that is, development takes place at the growing point, by 
the process of cell division. Cellulose, a firmer material, constitutes the cell 
wall, which is usually very thin. Root growth takes place at a point just back 
of the cap, known as the growing point. The tip, which is pushed through the 
soil by the constant addition of cells at the growing point, is made up of harder 
cells and acts as a protection to that point. As it wears away, new cells are 
supplied from behind by the growing point. 

Corn, which is merely a giant form of grass, has a fine, fibrous root system 
like all members of the grass family. The root system is not characterized by 
any tap root such as is found in clover. In the early stages the roots develop 
laterally. Thirty days after planting, the roots from adjacent stalks meet and 
interlace, and most of the roots will be found within the first eight inches of 
the surface of the soil, and very few will be found to have penetrated to the 
depth of twelve inches. Six inches from the hill the main roots will be found 
at a depth of 2^2 inches, while midway between the hills they will be found 
only 414 inches from the surface of the soil. The latter point should be es- 


pecially noted, for it is a strong argument in favor of shallow cultivation. It 
is a known fact that about from fifty to sixty days after planting, or the last 
cultivation, the roots have spread three and one-half feet from the stalk each 
way, and to a depth of two feet, and form a complete network of roots all 
over the field. The secondary root appears about the time of "laying by," 
the time when the summer winds begin to jostle the corn plants. In trying to 
support themselves, these roots are sent out. 

These roots usually appear on the first and second nodes above ground, and 
they act as guys and stays, and from 22 to 28 appear at each node. If the 
weather is stormy and the corn has a tendency to blow over, these roots grow 
very rapidly. 

We will pass over the structure of the plant, as a whole, the stalk leaves, 
and leaf development, and take up the flower or tassel part of the plant. Corn 
is a monecious plant, that is, having both male and female flowers on the same 
plant but in different places. From a botanical point of view, the words male 
and female, as applied to plants, are incorrect and should be called staminate 
and pistillate flowers, but we will use the first terms, as they seem to convey 
a more direct meaning. 

The time of blossoming depends upon the time of planting, early or late 
varieties, seasonal influences and soil conditions. The male flowers are found 
in the tassels, arranged in the form of a panicle. There are two single flowers 
in each spikelet, while each single flower has its own set of inner bracts. Each 
flower has three stamens mounted on filaments that, as the pollen matures, 
lengthen and push out the polles sacks or anthers to be caught in the breeze. 
The anthers split along one side allowing the pollen grains to fall out and be 
wafted to other stalks, where they find lodgment on the silks of ears other than 
their own. These pollen grains are very small and buoyant, and each tassel 
contains from 25,000,000 to 50,000,000. This excess of pollen is necessary be- 
cause of the loss of so many grains which are lodged about the stalk and which 
fall to the ground. 

The female or pistillate flowers are borne on a hardened spike or cob, which 
is produced on a branch coming from a node on the main stem. At first the 
leaf sheath covers and protects the outgrowth, but it soon appears above the 
sheath and the corn is said to be shooting. In a short time the husks open at 
the end and the silks appear. The outer end of each silk is often split, and 
is covered with very short hairs, which, together with a sticky or mucilaginous 
secretion present, aids in collecting pollen grains. The remainder of the silk 
to its attachment is tubular and is attached to the summit of the ovary or 
kernel, which is held in two sets of bracts and encloses within its walls a single 
ovule. There is but one silk for every ovary, and there are from 800 to 1,200 
ovaries on each spike or cob. 

Corn is a cross pollinated plant. Nature, in her effort to accomplish this, 
sends out the tassels as many as seven days before the silks appear on the 
shoot below. This character is taken advantage of in mating ears in the breed- 
ing block. When a pollen grain falls upon the stigma of a silk, the moisture 
there present, and the heat of the summer, causes it to germinate. The con- 
tained nuclei of the germinated pollen grain passes down through the canals 


that form the center of the silk to the base or place of attachment on the cob, 
and there fertilization takes place and the foundation for the new kernel is 
formed. The silks at the butt of the ear are the first to appear, and the first 
as a rule to be pollinated, while the tip kernels are the last to be fertilized, 
consequently the complete fertilization of the tip kernels of the ear depends on 
the continuance of good weather, and the late tasseling of nearby stalks in 
the same field. Warm, balmy weather with a slight breeze is ideal for the 
transfer of corn pollen. Dashing rains at this season of the year wash the 
pollen from the tassel and a moist atmosphere prevents the grains from floating 
about. The developing kernel is fed from within the cob by a single duct that 
passes, in its course through the cob, between the soft white cellular pith and 
the woody portion, and enters a passageway through this woody portion to 
the base of the kernel. 

The first period of growth of the kernel includes what is commonly referred 
to as the milk stage. Kernels in the milk are very sweet, due to the presence 
of sugar, which has not yet been transformed into storage starch. The protein, 
ash and oil are deposited in the germ before the endosperm or body of the 
kernel is filled out. Later the endosperm surrounding the germ is packed full 
of starch. Much of this material has been held in readiness in the stalk and 
is now deposited in the grain. The entire kernel is covered by a thin mem- 
branous layer called the tegmen, overlain by a tough coat called testa. This 
union forms what is termed the bran of wheat, and the hull of corn. 

Germination is the resumption of growth of the young plant which lies 
within the seed. This young plant is the embryo or germ. The portion which 
is to produce the stem and the leaves lies toward the crown of the kernel, and 
is called the plumule. The portion which is the first root, lies toward the tip 
of the kernel and is called the radicle. The conditions of germination are : 
first, vitality ; second, moisture ; third, proper temperature, and fourth, oxygen. 
Take away any one of these four factors, and life will not awake from its 
slumber. The vitality of the kernels of corn is ruined by continued freezing 
or excessively high temperature. However, if corn has been thoroughly dried 
out before freezing weather arrives, then the germ of the kernel will not be 
injured by any amount of freezing. 

Moisture in plants has four distinct functions in germination. It softens 
the covering of the seed, penetrates the minute cells of the seed coat, enters 
the large cells within, and by swelling them causes the entire seed to increase 
in size and ruptures the seed covering. Kernels of corn placed in water at a 
temperature of 70 degrees F. will absorb 15 per cent of their original weight 
in 52 hours. Kernels of corn having a large amount of flinty starch and horny 
gluten which acts as a sealing wax, require more time for germination than 
corn of a softer nature, and this accounts for the rotting of immature kernels 
when placed in the ground early in the spring, at which time it is cold and wet. 

Moisture dissolves plant food and carries it to the growing embryo. A 
continual supply of available nutriment is demanded by the young plant, and 
the presence of water insures its transportation to every growing point. 

Moisture also aids in the chemical and biological changes. By experiments, 
it has been determined that corn will germinate as low as 48 degrees F., and 


in as high a temperature as 115 degrees, but the optimum temperature is 93. 
Duting the month of May and the last two weeks of April, of 1907 and 1908, 
the writer took the temperature of the ground three inches under the surface 
at 2 o'clock every afternoon, for the planting and germinating period of corn, 
and found the temperature in 1907 to be 68 degrees, while the following year, 
1908, the temperature was 74.1 degrees, as an average of the six weeks. It 
will be remembered that the percentage of stand in 1907 was very low, while 
in 1908 it was just the reverse, and the excessively low temperature was the 
cause of so much corn rotting in the ground before it became warm enough to 
cause germination. Cold, wet, mucky soils which exclude the warmer surface 
air, produce a weak plant and feeble advancement. 

Oxygen is present in the seed, both in a free and a combined state ; but this 
supply is insufficient for germination. The inhalation of this vital element is 
followed by the oxidation of the constituents stored in the seed and a conse- 
quent evolution of energy. With the intaking of oxygen there is a comparable 
outgoing of carbon dioxide gas. The principle upon which the tilling of the 
snil lies, is in the assistance of nature. A soil impenetrable to air resists the 
processes which bring about rapid and substantial growth. The unhealthy ap- 
pearance of corn on poorly drained soils is usually considered to be due to too 
much water, when it is really the lack of oxygen. Corn, when planted very 
deep in the early spring, is very slow in germinating, due to the fact that at 
this depth the temperature is exceedingly low, and the oxygen is excluded. 
Corn, at 80 degrees, will germinate nicely in four days, while in well prepared 
soil in the early spring, the young plant will not show above the ground before 
ten to twelve days. 

It is hardly necessary that we take up the methods of improved cultivation 
as practiced at the present time, as there are several good methods of produc- 
ing a fine crop of corn. We will all agree, however, that there has been great 
advancement made in the manner of cultivating a crop of corn, as compared 
to the days twenty years ago. While this has been brought about largely by 
the use of improved machinery, the facts in the preceding pages have given us 
a better understanding why the fields should be prepared as they are now, and 
why the corn should be cultivated in the manner that it is, in order that we 
obtain the great yields that a number of the more progressive farmers are re- 

Not a great many years ago was the fact known, that corn was susceptible 
to improvement by breeding, and the honor of this discovery belongs to the 
Illinois Experiment Station at Urbana, 111. The investigations that were started 
in 1896 at the Illinois station, have included the breeding of corn for increased 
yield, for improved quality, and for a high and low protein content, and high 
and low oil content. It has been clearly established that corn can be bred for 
increased power to yield, as well as many other characteristics, as may be de- 
sired. Within the last few years the progressive seed corn growers of Illinois 
united themselves into the world's first seed corn breeders' association and 
began breeding corn on a commercial scale. One of the most important im- 
provements that has thus far been made in the system of corn breeding is that 


which relates to the prevention of inbreeding. The inbreeding corn is con- 
trolled by the method in which the corn is planted in the breeding plot. 

The breeding plot is a small field of ground containing from three to five 
acres, isolated from all other corn fields, to prevent the grains of pollen from 
any other variety of corn, mixing with that of the breeding plot. The field is 
planted in rows about thirty rods in length. Each row is planted with seed 
from a separate ear, using only one-half of the kernels on the ear. The per- 
formance record of the plants from each individual seed ear is observed and* 
accurately measured. It thus becomes possible to base our subsequent seed 
selected upon the performance records of the progeny from individual mother 

In this system of planting we are confronted by the problem of self-pollina- 
tion and of close pollination. In order to prevent this deteriorating influence 
in successful corn breeding, we detassel the alternate halves of each row ; that 
is, we go through the breeding plots just at the time the tassels are making 
their appearance, before the pollen is matured, and pull out, not cut out, the 
tassels from the stalks of the east half of one row and the west half of the 
row adjoining, and so on, until all the rows are thus treated. 

It is necessary to do this work at the proper time, and at intervals of every 
three or four days, till all the tassels have made their appearance. The ears 
of the detasseled stalks will thus be fertilized by pollen from stalks produced 
by seed other than its own. 

This method absolutely prohibits self-pollination or close pollination of the 
future seed which is so destructive to good results in plant breeding of any 
kind. By self-pollination is meant the transfer of pollen from the male flower, 
the tassel of the corn plant, to the female flower, the silk of the same plant, and 
by close pollination is meant the transfer of pollen from the male flower of 
one plant to the female flower of another plant in the same row, both of which 
grew from kernels from the same ear. This method of detasseling insures 
cross pollination and markedly increases the yield of succeeding crops. 

Within the last few years a new phase of corn breeding has been put into 
practice by the experiment stations and a few of the more scientific members 
of the corn breeders' association. This is the direct crossing of two stalks of 
corn or what is termed hand pollination. We know that when a perfect ear 
is fertilized, that it consists of several hundred kernels that were fertilized by 
pollen grains from possibly a hundred or more stalks. Therefore there is 
no record as to the sire of an ear of corn in any of the methods of corn breed- 
ing so far, and no methods have been adopted to show that the male parentage 
can be controlled, other than by the hand pollination method. This is an ex- 
ceedingly interesting and difficult operation, and in order to obtain results, the 
greatest care must be exercised. 

In the breeding plot we select the two most promising rows that were planted 
with seed from the preceding season's high yielding strains, and in each row 
we select the two best individual stalks to be found, stalks that are as near 
our ideal as possible. The tassel of one is covered with a silk bag, while the 
young shoot or ear on the other stalk is covered with another silk bag. These 
bags are put on before the silks make their appearance, and before the pollen 


has begun to fall off the tassel. About three days later, or after a part of the 
pollen has fallen off the tassel into the bag, this bag is removed, the pollen 
carefully put into a small pan with a tight cover, and the bag replaced on the 
tassel. The pan with the pollen is then taken over to the stalk having the 
silk bag on the ear. Upon removing this bag it will be found that the young 
silks have begun to make their appearance, and have protruded beyond the 
end of the husks. An umbrella is held closely over this ear while the crossing 
is being made to exclude all foreign pollen. The pollen in the pan is now 
dusted gently over the silks of this ear, and owing' to the mucilaginous secre- 
tions on the silks, the grains of pollen readily adhere to all the silks that are 
beyond the husks of the young shoot. The bag is then replaced and the same 
operation is performed every other day for three crossings or until all the silks 
show that they have been fertilized. This then gives a direct cross between 
two individuals as in livestock, and is the only method where both parents are 
under control. These ears that are thus treated are planted the following 
year in. a separate isolated breeding plot, ear to the row system, performance 
record kept from this field we receive the highest yielding seed possible. 

These ears are kept separate from all other corn and labeled with the 
record of their breeding. The selection of seed from the detasseled rows of 
the breeding ground is the next important step. 

Just at the time that the corn plant has reached its zenith of growth be^ 
fore killing frosts, and just as the ears are ripening, the detasseled halves of 
each row are inspected, and seed ears are selected for the following year. 
No ear is eligible for breeding unless it has been produced under normal cir- 
cumstances; so every ear that is selected is taken from a hill of corn contain- 
ing three stalks, all producing ears. The breeding ears selected must be grown 
on stalks that stand up well, showing wind-resistant qualities. The ear must 
be about the right height from the ground, attached to the stalk with a short 
shank, that allows it to hang point downward, and must be the best developed 
ear in every respect, in the hill. These ears are all numbered, showing from 
what row and strain they are taken, and put into the seed house, which is 
artificially heated, where there is an excellent circulation of air, in order that 
they may thoroughly dry. After all the breeding ears have been selected, the 
entire field is husked, each row to itself, and the yield individually recorded. 

The champion rows are then determined, taking into consideration the yield 
the average weight per ear, the number of barren stalks and suckers found in 
each row. The next year having preserved one-half of the seed of each mother 
ear, a number of the best producing rows are determined, and the remaining 
kernels are planted in an isolated plot of ground where they are free to cross- 
pollinate, and so combine the best characteristics of the high yielding rows. 
From this field seed is obtained to plant the multiplying ground the following 
year, which in turn furnishes enough seed for the commercial fields. 

During the early spring every ear is tested for germination, then they are 
weighed, measured, shelled and the proportion of corn to cob determined. The 
number of rows, character of dent, size of germ, and shape of kernel are all 
recorded, the ear given a register number in the pedigree record, showing from 
what strain it had been produced, and then it is ready for planting. 


One of the essentials in corn breeding is uniformity. However, this should 
not be carried too far. If any one point receives too much attention, other 
desirable characteristics will be sacrificed and a decreased yield will be the re- 
sult. The desirable characters that should be perpetuated in breeding corn are 
early maturity, well shaped ear, uniform type of kernel, the ear placed at the 
right height on the stalk, and the stalk with wind-resisting qualities. Too much 
attention should not be given to the well filled ear, except for show purposes, 
and only those characters that tend to increase the yield of marketable corn 
should receive the greatest attention. 

While there has been great advancement made in the production of corn 
within the last half century, there has been a comparable advancement in the 
management of the soil. Where our forefathers farmed is now the impover- 
ished lands, the higher parts of the fields, but with the advent of the steam 
dredge, and drain tile, the swamps that were, are now our fertile fields, pro- 
ducing the large yields and commanding the highest price of all the farming 

However, these lands will begin to lose their fertility, and the great prob- 
lem now confronting the farmers of Vermilion County as well as the corn 
belt, is how to maintain the fertility of these soils, and to make them better, 
richer in plant food, that they may produce the amounts of grains necessary to 
feed the ever-increasing population of this great country. 


The sheep industry in Vermilion County had its beginning in a very small 
way. Most of the pioneers owned a few sheep, from the wool of which their 
clothing was made. These flocks grew as time went on, but they were used 
for home consumption, and not until the sixties, was there much shipping done. 
The nearest market of any consequence was Philadelphia; at that time five 
hundred sheep would break the market of Chicago. Farmers along the streams, 
in the wooded sections, experienced a good deal of trouble from milk-sick, or 
trembles, as it was commonly called, and sheep could not be handled in num- 
bers ; but in the south part of the county and on the west prairies the advan- 
tages were better. 

In 1848, James Milliken came to this county from Pennsylvania, and in 
about 1850 located on what is now known as the Thompson farm, south of 
Fithian, and probably was the first man to engage in the sheep business in 
Vermilion County. He continued successfully in this business for several 
years and here made the nucleus for his immense fortune. In 1858 he moved 
to Decatur. In 1900 he founded the James Milliken University of Decatur. 
In 1909 he died, a wealthy man and great philanthropist. 

In about 1856, Peleg Spencer engaged in the sheep business on a farm 
where now is Central Park. His operations in this business were brought to 
a close rather suddenly, after several years of successful management, by some 
local capitalists discovering- a flaw in his title to the land, and who took steps 
to secure it for themselves without his knowledge. This so discouraged him 
that he gave up his business and soon became a bankrupt and ruined man. 
John Cole of Ridge Farm, an early pioneer, later leased this farm and used it 


in connection with his land at Ridge Farm for the handling of sheep. Mr. Cole 
enjoyed a thriving business during the Civil war. Harrison Jones and Jno. E. 
Cooper of Georgetown, were leading sheep men of that section. Like Mr. 
Cole, their sheep numbered about two thousand. These men continued in this 
business many years, but finally almost abandoned it, conditions arising that 
made the outlook unfavorable. At the present time and for several years there 
has been no activity in this industry in that locality. 

In 1862 Edwin and Edward Foreman brought five thousand sheep from 
Sandusky, Ohio, and located three miles west of Newtown, but remained there 
but five years, the marshy condition of that section only encouraged disease 
of the feet and rendered the business unprofitable. They moved to Champaign 
County near Penfield, where -they continued the business successfully many 

In 1864, Willy Fowler came to this county from Marion County, Ohio, 
with four thousand sheep and located on Pilot Grove Farm, a beautiful body 
of 4,000 acres of land, having natural drainage. This farm was well adapted 
to the grazino- of sheep, and Mr. Fowler saw opportunities for a great business 
here and decided to remain permanently in this location, and in 1868 bought 
the farm. At this time the price of wool reached its zenith, and for two years 
Mr. Fowler sold 12,000 Ibs. of Ai wool for 98 cents per pound, many of t*he 
fleeces weighting 24 Ibs. each. 

A few years later there were several men engaged in the sheep industry, 
but their flocks were limited to a few hundred head. Jacob and Samuel Frees 
and Mack Eyestone, along the extreme western border of the county were, 
quite successful. The Freeses were breeders of fine Merino sheep and pro- 
duced many prize winners. Mr. Eyestone, now a resident of Urbana, relates 
an interesting experience, connected with his early handling of sheep. He 
drove a small band to Chicago, but found absolutely no market, and was herd- 
ing them on the flats south of the city, when he had an opportunity to trade 
his sheep for a frog pond and did so, feeling that he had practically given them 
away, but that frog pond today is worth a hundred thousand dollars. Others 
who handled sheep in bands of a few hundred were Jno. Smith (Eng.) of Po- 
tomac, Thomas Dye of Armstrong, John R. Thompson of Fithian and George 
Allen of Allerton, an Englishman who engaged in the breeding of fine Shrop- 
shires. He imported the male sheep from England. He was very successful 
and became famous among stock men for his prize winners, capturing first 
premiums at many fairs throughout this and adjoining states, for several years. 
He operated in this county from about 1872 to 1890. He later moved to Ne- 

Many disadvantages attended the first few years of the sheep business in 
this county; wolves were numerous then; it was necessary to build scarecrows 
and corral the sheep at night and herd them through the day; water was ob- 
tained for all stock by digging shallow wells, perhaps six or seven feet deep, 
and from these men would dip the water into troughs ; it required only a short 
time to empty a well, but it would fill again in a few hours. Where there was 
much stock, a great many of these wells were necessary, and were often dug 
within a few rods of each other. Then, too, the railroad facilities were poor, 


the Wabash Railroad being the only one that crossed this county. This, in 
many cases, necessitated the hauling of wool and driving of sheep many miles 
to a shipping point ; but nevertheless, it was a very profitable business, as prices 
were high. But prosperity in this industry was destined to be of short life. 
Disease crept in through the bringing into this county of sheep with foot rot, 
scabbies and diseases of the head, rendering the business unprofitable. For a 
time owners struggled with these diseases, which were more disastrous than 
snowstorms or the ravages of wild animals, but as little was known then about 
combating with them, the business was abandoned for a few years and stock 
men devoted themselves to the raising and feeding of cattle, which, though 
much more desirable to handle, have never been the money-makers that sheep 
have been. After a few hard, freezing winters, which was supposed to eradi- 
cate these disease germs from the soil, the sheep business was again under- 
taken and more extensively, as advantages had materially improved. Shipping 
facilities were better, markets nearer, the old dug well and digging bucket had 
been discarded for the windmill and tubular well, with its inexhaustible supply 
of water, while very expensive then, it was welcomed by all progressive farm- 
ers and is today the popular mode of providing water for all purposes. There 
were days and weeks in summer that the wind did not blow, then men took 
the pump handles and bravely toiled through the livelong day in the broiling 
sun, scarcely able to satisfy the clamoring animals about them. Quite differ- 
ent is it now since the invention of the gasoline engine, which all large stock- 
men have and which can be hauled from one field to another, and attached to 
the pump, quickly providing water for the immense droves of many thousands 
of sheep, now common here. 

Then when shearing time comes this same gasoline engine is placed in the 
great wool barns, and, attached to a sheep-shearing device (a modern invention) 
furnishes the power for a dozen men who have only to guide the clippers, 
quickly relieving the sheep of its beautiful fleece, without torture. So much for 
progressive America. No wonder our young men are amassing fortunes in this 
industry, when we consider their advantages over the pioneer stockmen, being 
within a few miles from shipping points and a few hours from the best stock 
market in the world today, with a report of the same at their doors daily. 

True, there has never been a time when disease among sheep has been totally 
unknown, but the methods of treating them are so much improved and the quar- 
antine laws so rigid that dealers feel a much-needed protection. 

There seems to be a tendency among sheep to develop that heretofore dreaded 
disease, Scabbies, but the ever thoughtful Uncle Sam has provided careful in- 
spection at all important stock yards and western sheep are absolutely required 
to go through the dipping vats, and in cases of herds from the home fields, if 
there is a suspicion of this disease, they are subjected to the same treatment. 
This careful attention reduces the horrors of this disease to a minimum. Scab- 
bies is a winter pest, while foot-rot is more prevalent in spring and summer and 
is more to be dreaded, as it is both contagious and infectious and up to the 
present time is pronounced incurable. For this disease there is now a 
strict quarantine law and for animals so afflicted there is no market. About the 


only thing to be done with them is to kill them and use them for fertilizers by 

In about 1898 there developed here a new disease called intestinal worm ; 
this attacked only the lambs and was very fatal. This, coupled with the in- 
creasingly high price of land has led to a complete change in the sheep business 
in Illinois. 

Methods of handling sheep too have changed. Formerly no attempt was 
made to house the animals or their coarse feed, but in these days of high prices 
there must be no waste, so huge sheds, with water piped into them, are built, 
covering sometimes an acre of ground and with a capacity for ten thousand 
sheep, with roughness stored above. These protect the feed as well as the 
flocks from heavy storms, thus avoiding the shrinkage which always follows 
extreme exposure. 

Very, very few sheep are now raised here but many thousands are bought 
from the ranges of the great sheep producing west, or from the city markets, 
shipped here, fattened, then shorn of their fleece and marketed. 

U. G. Fowler introduced the feeding of western sheep in this county, which 
has proven so much more profitable than the raising of sheep, that it is the gen- 
eral custom now and each year ushers new men into the business. In 1903 Mr. 
Fowler marketed 17,000 sheep from the Pilot Grove Farm; the same year he 
had two hundred sheep killed by wolves. Until then there had not been a wolf 
seen for years. In 1909 one was killed near Penfield, which shows that they 
may not be extinct here yet. 

Among the young men those most active in the sheep business for the last 
ten or fifteen years are U. G. Fowler, D. M. Fowler, Ed. Stevens, G. M. Mc- 
Cray, Fred Endicott and Arthur Bass. 

The profits in the sheep industry have varied with the changes in the tariff 
on wool. There is nothing that the farmer handles that responds so quickly 
to tariff disturbance as does wool. From 1896 to 1900 the business was very 
unprofitable and wool was stored and held for better prices which came in 
1900. There has always been fluctuations in the markets produced by supply 
and demand, but these were never sufficient to completely destroy all profit and 
it is becoming recognized more and more that the sheep industry is the best 
paying business that the farmer can combine with the tilling of the soil. From 
the point of fertilization alone it stands preeminent. 



Vermilion County is eminently an agricultural section. Few are the fac- 
tories, and, spite of every reason to the contrary, scattered are the manufactur- 
ing interests. The county is second to none in the state in the number and value 
of the farms. Some of these farms are historic, and some of them are of 
particular interest because of the variety of production. Space only permits the 
consideration of a few of these farms, and those have been chosen which are rep- 
resentative. These are the Pilot Grove farm, the Fairview farm, the Mann farm 
and the Allerton farm. 


The Pilot Grove farm located in the middle and western part of Vermilion 
county, secured its name from the fact that almost in the center of its 3,600 
acres, stood the Pilot Grove. This was a tract of timber of 200 acres, which 
was the only timber in the county not bordering a stream and which, standing 
on the top of the old California ridge in that vast prairie could be seen for 
many miles from all directions. It was a guide to the traveler in an early 
day ; hence its name. 

The first settler in this locality was Moses Girard, who entered from the 
government 160 acres in 1831 and 160 acres adjoining in 1835. Of this man's 
courage enough can not be said, as it was considered almost foolhardy to at- 
tempt a residence away from timber protection then, and for many years after, 
but he chose a cosy spot for a house in a little locust grove on a knoll and here 
built a part of the famous old Half Way House. 

Its architecture was peculiar in many respects, it had no windows on the 
west, the better to protect its inmates from the winds and storms. Its frame 
was of heavy oak timber and between the walnut weather-boarding and plas- 
tering was a wall of brick. These were evidently made on the farm as traces 
of a kiln can be seen today by the ploughman; so we see he had quite effec- 
tually fortified himself to battle with the elements. Cattle raising and grazing 
was his chief occupation. 

In 1839, he sold this farm to Wm. I. Moore, who in 185052-53, entered 
from the government 3,366 acres adjoining it, and to the house Mr. Moore 



built an addition twice as large as the original, and of the same solid materials. 
Several of the rooms had large fireplaces, with cupboards, built to the ceiling 
on either side; underneath the whole was a brick foundation and basement, 
called cellar in those days. When completed, this great old house presented 
a commodious and imposing appearance, and standing as it did on an eminence 
like the Pilot Grove, which was less than a quarter of a mile to the west, it 
could be seen for many miles in that vast expanse of unbroken prairie, and has 
furnished shelter and food, day and night, to many weary travelers. It was 
known for almost two score of years as the Half Way House, being almost 
midway between Danville and Rantoul, and, while several miles to the north of 
a direct line between Danville and Champaign, it was about midway of the 
course the early traveler chose (taking the uplands to avoid the swamps) and 
he found it most convenient to stop for the night at the Half Way House. 

Over 2,000 acres of this land which Mr. Moore obtained from the govern- 
ment cost him $1.25 per acre, but for 1,300 acres he paid only 12% cts. each, 
it being swamp land and considered worthless. Now this same land is the 
best on the farm and easily worth $200 per acre. This is due to the extensive 
tiling which has been done. Mr. Jno. Scott managed this farm for Mr. Moore 
for many years and was a loyal tenant, which fact is demonstrated by the fol- 
lowing incident : Two men came to the Scott home for the night ; they were 
looking over the country for a promising location, on land yet owned by the 
government; in the course of the evening they stated that they intended to 
enter the land on which stood the Pilot Grove. Now this grove was in the 
center of Mr. Moore's farm, and Mr. Scott realized that it would be a bitter 
disappointment to him for these men to get possession of it. After the strangers 
had retired for the night, Mr. Scott mounted a horse and rode into Danville, 
a distance of eighteen miles and notified Mr. Moore, who presented himself at 
the patent office and secured for himself this land. Mrs. Scott, who was a 
daughter of Thomas Rowland, an early pioneer, and who afterward became 
the wife of Mr. Moore, often said that she would take the field glasses in the 
morning and survey the whole country, and if she saw a drove of cattle any- 
where in the distance, she knew they must expect company, and proceeded to 
prepare for them. She was the mother of Thomas Scott, recently deceased, 
who was an important man in the affairs of this state and who resided at 

After Mr. Scott's death Mr. Moore leased the farm to Willy Fowler, who 
had come to this country from Ohio, looking for a good location for the sheep 
business. This farm more nearly met the requirements than any he had seen, 
and in 1864 he took possession, and for the first time in the farm's history, the 
cattle business was at low ebb and sheep held sway. Heretofore the dangers 
from wild animals had been considered too great for this industry to thrive 
here, but as profits in this business were greater than ever before or since 
(wool selling for $i per lb.), it was worth taking some chances on it. Wolves 
and foxes were numerous, and the greatest care was taken to protect the flocks, 
but notwithstanding this, their depredations were appalling, and often led to 
wolf chases and fox hunts, which were enjoyed by all settlers for many miles 



around and which always resulted in the death of some of these pests and 
lessened their activities for a time. 

Deer abounded in numbers and raised their young in the wild grass, which 
grew as high as a horse's head. There is an idea extant (but for the truth 
of which I cannot vouch) that the very young fawn has no spots and no odor 
until it reaches the age of activity, thus being protected from beasts of prey, 
as it lay hidden in the grass. Wild geese and ducks, prairie chicken and 
quail were numerous, too, and these furnished great sport for the hunters. 

Mr. Fowler was a famous shot and kept splendid hunting dogs, and many 
friends from the neighboring towns and from his old home in Ohio enjoyed 
vacations with him on this farm. 

But to retrace Mr. Fowler came here a widower with three children and 
a widowed mother, Mrs. Cynthia Fowler, who, well-loved, soon became Grand- 
ma Fowler to everybody. She witnessed the development of Pilot township 
from an uncultivated swamp region to farms unsurpassed for fertility and 
good improvements, and died at the ripe age of 91 years. 

In 1865 Mr. Fowler returned to Ohio and married Mary Dillon, a girl of 
unusual courage and energy, who made a noble mother and an untiring help- 
mate, and to whom he gives great credit for his later success. Few women, 
even in those early days have given such aid with heart, hands and brain as 
did Mrs. Fowler. Devotion to family and home was her watchword, and her 
beautiful Christian character shone with brightness throughout her life and 
none have gone to their reward more revered by her family than was she. 

In 1868 Mr. Fowler bought the Pilot Grove farm of 3,686 acres for $51,- 
ooo, paying $10,000 in cash, the remainder in notes. This seemed an enormous 
price, and it was predicted freely that the venture would bankrupt him. These 
predictions proved to be false, however. He continued handling sheep for 
several years, when on account of disease among them he abandoned that in- 
dustry for a time and devoted himself to the cattle business, and from that 
time until he retired from the farm, there was not a year that he failed to 
market a drove of fat cattle. He was considered an expert at producing heavy 

The cattle business in connection with farming has been general through- 
out the county, until recent years. Now, herds of cattle are rare indeed. 
Land has become too valuable to be kept in pasture, which is a necessity in 
the handling of cattle. Conditions improved and Mr. Fowler again embarked 
in the sheep business together with cattle and hogs. He followed this policy 
successfully almost twenty years. He was an ardent admirer of horses and 
usually had a drove of about forty on the farm, among them were always some 
very good ones of the draft variety, which he often exhibited at the county 
fairs and rarely failed to carry away some of the honors. 

When he took possession of this farm there were no fences or other im- 
provements, except the house and two orchards, which were then in their 
prime. There were five acres of apple trees, from which were gathered and 
buried for winter's use hundreds of bushels every fall, and apple butter was 
made by the barrel. About the first step towards the improvement of the farm 
was the changing of the roads from the zig-zag courses across the country to 


straight roads; then came the fencing, which was an enormous undertaking. 
A force of twenty men worked three years planting hedge, of which there were 
forty-five miles. This involved great expense and much hard work for the 
women of the household. The question of drainage came next. It was neces- 
sary to tile this land in order to cultivate it. It is estimated that seventy miles 
of tile have been laid on this farm. 

As fast as the fields were drained they were used for the cultivation of 
corn, wheat and oats, alternately, that their fertility might be maintained. The 
corn was rarely marketed, but fed to stock which method also increased the 
fertility of the soil. About 1,000 acres were retained in pasture, as there were 
from six to twelve thousand sheep handled annually. In the course of a few 
years houses were built for tenants who raised the crops on shares. This, 
of course, lessened the labors of the women, which, to recount, would seem 
almost impossible. Aside from the never ending cooking, there were the candle- 
dipping seasons, when a sufficient number of candles for the whole year were 
made. Then came the sugar-making times, which were fraught with a great 
deal of pleasure as well as labor, when sugar enough was made to last a year, 
which meant many barrels. These sugar trees were in the heart of the Pilot 
Grove, and were only a small part of the riches confined in its cloisters. 

Wild fruits such as blackberries and plums grew in abundance, and none 
were permitted to waste. But its greatest treasures were the huge black wal- 
nut trees, thousands of which were sold for milling purposes. This grove, too, 
furnished fuel for many families, and many, many miles of fencing have been 
made from its timbers; and now there remains only a skeleton of its former 
self, it being deemed best to clear it, on account of milk-sick or trembles that 
lurked in it, for which sunshine is a specific it seems, since wherever its rays 
permeate, there is none of this deadly disease, the cause of which scientists 
have failed to fathom. 

During the early years of Mr. Fowler's residence on this farm, there was 
no school house for miles, and a private school was conducted in his home, at- 
tended by his own and the children of Mr. James Exton, who had a most ex- 
cellent family, and who lived in a nearby tenant house from which they moved 
several years later to a farm of their own. 

The hospitality of this old home was unbounded; there was scarcely a day 
when some wayfarer was not cared for, and no one was ever refused food or 
shelter, and it was a great place for people to congregate for a good time. 
Often, on Sundays, there would be fifty people there for dinner, and little 
was thought of the work this necessitated, for all enjoyed it. In the way of 
amusements these pioneers had little, yet they were very happy. The quilting 
bees, the writing, spelling and singing schools, and an occasional dance were 
all sufficient to drive dull care away. 

A little incident is related by an old drover, which illustrates Mrs. Fow- 
ler's kindness of heart. He and several men were going through that country 
with a herd of swine, which were not allowed to stop on the farm on account 
of the damages by rooting up the ground. Mrs. Fowler prepared a basket of 
food and handed it to these men as they passed the house. This was so much 
appreciated by them that they never tired telling of it. 




In 1880 a new home of twelve large rooms was built (not on the site of 
the old one, but on a knoll at the east side of the grove) facing south and 
commanding a view of many thousands of acres of beautiful land sloping grad- 
ually downward to the Salt Fork river, seven miles below. 

In this home death visited the family three times, and Mr. Fowler being 
depressed by the death of three of his children and the illness of others, decided 
to give up active farm life and go west for a time. In 1891 he leased the 
farm to his son, U. G. Fowler, who operated it very successfully for thirteen 
years. He confined his stock mainly to sheep and horses. His methods of 
handling sheep were different from his father's, but equally as profitable. He 
introduced the feeding of western sheep in this county, which has proven very 

By this time the foundation under the old house had begun to weaken 
and the plastering to fall ; it was therefore razed. The frame was so amazingly 
good, better than could be purchased then, that Mr. Fowler used it in the con- 
struction of a bank barn; thus the old landmark disappeared, but the picture 
of it is herewith shown, reproduced from memory and perfected by the young 
artist, Herman Tengen, Jr. 

In 1904 David M. Fowler, another son, took charge of the farm and occu- 
pies the family home. He bought several hundred acres of his father, adjoin- 
ing that which he had given him, and now owns about 1,50x3 acres in the heart 
of the farm, and on which the Pilot Grove stands. The remainder of the 
farm Mr. Fowler has divided among his other children, none of it having left 
the family. 

George M. McCray, a grandson of Willy Fowler, now has charge of 800 
acres of the south side of the old farm. He is extensively interested in sheep, 
but is a great fancier and good judge of horses". For the last few years he 
has been breeding English shire horses, and at the International Stock Show, 
held in Chicago in December of 1910, he captured first premium on a pair of 
Shire mares and second and fifth on other stock shown. So it would seem 
that the reputation the old farm enjoyed in other days was to be maintained. 

Ever since the ownership of the principal part of the Pilot Grove Farm by 
David Fowler, he has kept up continual and effective building, and now it is 
in a high state of improvement and is a beautiful place. He has built new 
fences, barns, tenant houses, immense cribs and sheep sheds, and he, like his 
predecessors, is a full grown sheep man, following the custom of feeding 
western sheep. He has been wonderfully successful, and the future certainly 
looks bright for him. His home is modern in every respect, having hardwood 
floors, a water plant, a gaslight plant, and hot water system of heating. Cer- 
tainly, farm life is idealized here, and the spirit of hospitality that pervaded 
the old home almost a half century ago, is continued in this home today. 


Fairview Farm is situated near Sidell, 111., in Carroll and Sidell town- 
ships, with a small part in Jamaica township. This farm is owned by Mrs. 
Emma Sconce and her two children, Harvey J. Sconce and Mrs. W. G. Cath- 
cart. The farm is, however, under the direct management of Harvey J. Sconce, 


and has been brought to the highest state of cultivation, and is now producing 
maximum yields of the principal crops. 

The fact that over fifty per cent of the land comprising this farm was en- 
tered from the government by Harvey Sodowsky and Samuel Sconce, the 
grandfathers of the present owners, makes it very valuable and brings with it 
a sentiment that few farms possess, as over 1,500 acres have never been out 
of the possession of the Sconce family since being entered from the govern- 

This farm, containing 3,000 acres, including the 450 acres of Woodlawn, 
Harvey Sodowsky 's old homestead, contains just enough wood land to lend 
beauty to it, and makes ideal pastures for cattle that are to be found on this 
farm. When the land was first taken over from the government, it was either 
heavy timber along the streams, or raw prairie farther back, and it was the 
work of years and two generations to bring it to the high state of efficiency 
that it now occupies. The prairies were first drained by the obsolete method 
of mole ditches, and open ditches, but as soon as the tile drain was invented 
and manufactured in the county, these replaced the old methods, and miles of 
tile drains were run through these fields and pastures till at present the swamps 
and sloughs that were, are now the heaviest producing fields. 

The eighty acres on which the elegant home now stands was obtained from 
the government in 1832, James Monroe signing the land patent, and all the 
presidents from this time to 1850 have their signatures to land patents, that 
are in the possession of the family. 

Samuel Sconce, the grandfather of the present owners moved to the farm 
in 1834, built a small house and later added to it just a short distance from the 
present home, and he built so well that the old original house is still in use, 
being remodeled several times. 

James S. Sconce, after being united in marriage with Emma Sodowsky, 
moved into this house in 1863, and ten years later built what was then the 
finest country farm house in the county. This house stood till last year, 1909, 
when it was remodeled and a new modern home took its place. The present 
home is of colonial design, is located toward the north center part of a ten- 
acre lawn shaded by immense forest trees and the immediate lawn and fore- 
ground around the house is banked with masses of beautiful shrubs and flow- 
ers. This work was designed and executed by the landscape architect of the 
University of Illinois, and shows how a country home can be beautified by the 
addition to its surroundings of well selected shrubbery and flowers. 

At present the farm is under a system of grain farming, and livestock is 
handled in a small way only, compared to what has been the rule, but the 
methods employed in the grain operations are entirely new to the average farm- 
ing community. 

Scientific corn breeding in its advanced forms is employed in the broad 
fields of this farm, and the resulting yields show the advancement made in this 
important branch of agriculture. The fertility of the soil is carefully studied, 
and by crop rotation with the principal grains, the addition of a legume crop 
and commercial fertilizers, such as rock phosphate, is returning the fertility to 
the soils that are depleted, and these fields are regaining the place they once 






occupied, when they were in their virgin state. The breeding of wheat and 
oats on a scientific scale is being practiced in connection with the corn breed- 
ing, as well as several experiments in different characters of grains. 

The methods of corn growing and of scientific cultivation the selection of 
seed, the storing, preparing for the planting of the same, and of the hand polli- 
nation and methods of operations in the breeding plots, will be found in the 
chapter on corn production found in this volume and written by the owner of 
Fairview Farm. 


It is two miles south of Rossville, in Vermilion County, that the well-known 
Mann farm is located. To appreciate this farm it is necessary to recite a little 
of the history of the Mann family. To do this one must needs go back in 
the history of America in the colonial period, when this section was but the 
hunting ground of the Indian. It was at that time a young Englishman, Mr. 
John Mann, was sent by his employers in London to America in the interests 
of his business, which was that of the sale of paints. He was located in New 
Orleans, and a part of his duties was to extend the trade up the Mississippi 
river as far as possible. This took him as far into the Illinois country at 
least as the French towns on the river. After a time he went back to Eng- 
land. For some reason the new world did not attract him, or home ties bound 
him so closely that he could not make a permanent settlement in America. 
But that he was pleased with the life on this side of the water cannot be 
doubted, since when his son was a man he turned his face to the new world 
and to the, at that time, west of this new world. 

Mr. Abraham Mann came to America in 1832. He came from Leighton- 
Buzzard, Bedfordshire, England, bringing his family with him. They came in 
a sailing vessel and it took them seven weeks to come from Liverpool to the 
States. Besides his immediate family, which consisted of his wife, one daugh- 
ter, Mary Ann, by a former marriage, his two sons and a daughter, Catherine, 
he was accompanied by his brother-in-law, Joseph Smith. They made their 
way from New York to Detroit, by way of the lakes, where they bought saddle 
horses and rode to Vermilion County. 

Mr. Mann entered a claim of 640 acres from the government, on which 
he built a log cabin. This was the beginning of the Mann estate. It was not 
long before he had made an impression on the fertile land and, with his ideals 
brought from the old world, the prairies of Illinois took on the appearance 
of an English estate. Mr. Mann brought the ideas of England and the ad- 
vanced farming ways to his new home, and his farm showed the advantage of 
skill in farming. His farm soon became a pride to Vermilion County. 

Mrs. Mann lived but seven years after coming to America. She was buried 
in the private burying grounds located on the farm. After her death the two- 
older children, Mary Ann and Abraham, Jr., went to Crawfordsville to school, 
and later all were sent to England, where they stayed for four years. Mr. 
Mann's oldest daughter, Mary Ann, was a girl of perhaps fifteen when Mrs. 
Mann died, and from the time she came back from England, was mistress in 
her father's house. And a more gracious mistress was never in any man's 


home. Miss Mann was the heart of that home as long as she lived. She was 
a mother to the younger children, a companion to her father, and a model to 
the neighborhood. 

One word would describe Miss Mann : she was in very truth a gentlewoman. 
In the social relations of the life of this family she was a leader. The hos- 
pitality of the Mann home was limitless, and in all the duties devolving upon 
the mistress of such an establishment, she never failed to do her part. She 
had a custom of always having the children of the neighborhood come to the 
house during the holiday week and giving them the pleasure of the season. 
When she lay in her home after death one of these children, then a grown 
woman, voiced the sentiment of the community in saying, while the tears ran 
down her cheeks, "The glory of the Mann house has departed." Miss Mann 
was not only her father's companion and counselor, but his helper as well. 
By reason of inherited wealth, she was able to add to the extent of the farm, 
and her income was freely drawn upon to that end. The farm of 640 acres 
was increased to that of 5,000 acres before the death of Mr. Abraham Mann, 
Sr. in 1875. 

During the time of his life, John Mann, the younger son of Abraham Mann, 
shared his brother's care of the home place. After John Mann died in 1873, 
his two children lived on the home place with their mother, their aunt, Mary 
Ann, and their uncle, Abraham Mann. During this time Mr. Abraham Mann 
bought other farms, but the original farm of 5,000 acres owned by Mr. Abra- 
ham Mann, Sr., was not changed by additions nor divisions, excepting the 
share the youngest daughter had received. The youngest daughter married 
Mr. Thomas Bennett in 1858, and her share of the estate lies adjoining and 
a part of the farm. Mr. Bennett has added to this land by his own purchase, 
and himself has a fine farm. His home is one of the finest in the county. 

Mr. Abraham Mann, Sr. laid out his grounds in true English style, and 
during his lifetime the habits of the family were in keeping with the place. 
His sons, and later his one son, Abraham, Jr., took charge of the place after his 
death. A handsome house and stables are on the place well set back from the 
highway. It always has been a well appointed English gentleman's estate. The 
three sons of Abraham Mann now live on the farm. They, with their mother, 
have taken charge of it since the death of the father. 


One of the moneyed men of Chicago is the well known Samuel Allerton. 
His land is in various parts of Illinois, one farm being in Vermilion County. 
This is in the southwestern part. The western boundary of the farm is the 
boundary line between Vermilion and Champaign counties. This farm is separ- 
ated from the Edgar County line by the so-called Allen farm. The Allerton farm 
comprises four thousand acres, and at the time Mr. Allerton bought it, it was 
of little value other than to graze cattle and fit them for the market. 

The farm was the property of the famous Sullivants of Champaign County, 
and came into Mr. Allerton's hands through a misfortune of Mr. Joseph Sul- 
livant. Mr. Sullivant had taken this land in Vermilion County which adjoined 




his large landed possessions in Champaign County, intending to make it a 
vast estate. He began by taking great pains in beautifying it, rather than 
in improving it, to the end of its becoming a profit to him. Soon he became 
involved, and was obliged to give up the land. He had borrowed money from 
eastern capitalists, and the Singer Sewing Machine Company closed up the 
matter, Mr. Allerton being the buyer. The farm comprised four thousand 

After Mr. Allerton bought this vast extent of land, he put Mr. Herron in 
charge. Mr. Herron was a man who had an extensive knowledge of condi- 
tions controlling the value of this property, having long been acquainted with 
this section. Mr. Allerton trusted him implicitly, and agreed to all his plans 
for the improvement of the property. Mr. Herron's plan was to, in the first 
place, make it a well drained farm. He did this and converted the wild wet 
land into profitable fields of growing grain. The first years of his stay on the 
Allerton farm, Mr. Herron fed cattle. He did not like the Texas cattle, but 
bought calves from other farmers in Illinois and Indiana. Seeing greater pos- 
sibilities than came from the sale of cattle, this farm was tiled and cultivated 
so that grain could be raised in profitable amount. 

When Mr. Herron went to the farm it held several ponds and the wild 
fowl were very plentiful. It was the home of the wild duck and prairie chicken 
and the paradise of the hunter. Mr. Herron had no half way nor experimental 
farming done. Mr. Allerton wanted the farm developed as it should be, and 
Mr. Herron carried out his ideas to his satisfaction as - long as he remained on 
the place. When the time came that a station on the railroad was possible 
to make a shipping point, Allerton was built. No pains were too great to 
make this a model town; churches were encouraged, and a school which would 
furnish the best instruction was helped to be built. Mrs. Allerton herself, at 
the suggestion of Mr. Herron, took a great interest in the school, and made 
it possible to have special instruction given in domestic science. 

The problem of having help to carry out the great project undertaken was 
solved by adopting the community plan of farming. This plan has been well 
tried, and to Mr. Allerton's satisfaction. The farm is divided into a number 
of small farms, each of which is put under the care of one man. These farms 
are carried on under the partial, at least, supervision of the man in charge of 
the entire place. The financial profit of each farm is shared by the farmer 
and Mr. Allerton. Mr. Allerton does not spend his time on this farm, nor 
has ever spent much time there. His home is in Chicago, but he is interested 
in the farm in Vermilion County, as he is in those he owns in other localities. 













The first corncracker mill used was made by James Butler in 1823. It 
consisted of a gum, or section of a hollow tree, some four feet long by two 
feet in diameter. In this was set a stationary stone with a flat surface. The 
revolving burr, like the other, was selected with reference to its fitness, from 
the granite boulders or as the old settlers would designate them, "Nigger- 
heads" distributed freely over the ground everywhere. The two were broken 
and dressed into circular form, and the grinding surfaces reduced and bur- 
rows sunk into them so as to make cutting edges, by such rude instruments 
as Mr. Butler could manufacture for the purpose. 

A hole was drilled near the rim on the upper side of the rotary burr. A 
pole was inserted in this, while the other end was placed in a hole in a beam 
some six or eight feet directly above the center of the hopper, and thus by 
taking hold of the pole with the hand near the burr and exerting a push and 
pull movement, a rotary motion was given to the mill. The capacity was about 
one bushel of corn per hour, with a lively muscular man to run it. It served 
the wants of the people at Butler's Point until the water mill at Denmark 
was made, in 1826, when it was taken to Big Grove, in Champaign County, by 
Robert Trickle. 

The well known "Gilbert mill" on the North Fork, at Danville, near the 
lower end of Main street, was commenced by Robert Trickle and sold to 



Solomon Gilbert before it was completed. This was a log building, and the 
stones were cut out of such as could be found nearby. This answered the 
purpose of the neighborhood for a time, but it was not until a sawmill was 
attached two years later, that much profit was realized. Grain was cheap and 
the commissions on grinding was necessarily small. The mill was completed 
and in working order in 1828. The bolting was done by hand, and was a 
slow process, but gave work to the boys who would otherwise have been idle. 

All these old sawmills used the "gate-saw." The saw was fixed into a 
frame which was about eight feet high by six feet wide, made so strong that 
it could hold the saw firmly to the work, and so heavy that it moved up and 
down very leisurely, which gave rise to the expression that it would "go up 
in the spring and go down with the fall freshets." It moved in grooves cut 
in the upright timbers. Such a saw would not be used now, but at that time 
men who were accustomed to their use, could saw two thousand feet a day, 
and a thousand feet of lumber for a day's work was doing very well. The 
price for sawing was always fifty cents per hundred feet, or a share; so it 
is readily seen that a sawmill was a profitable piece of property to own. 

A mill on the Salt Fork really antedates the Gilbert mill. This mill was 
in operation in 1826, two years before the Gilbert mill, and it served a large 
territory. The mill stood in the middle of the stream, just north of the one 
built later. This mill was built of logs and, as did all other mills at that time, 
went by water power. Its patronage extended as far as into McLean County, 
people coming that distance to get their grinding done. This mill continued to 
serve the people until, in 1837, Mr. John Shepherd, who had come to Illinois 
the previous year and had money to put into such an enterprise, employed 
Aaron Dalbey to build a new mill. This was done, and equipped at" a cost of 
$3,000, a large sum for those days. Mr. Shepherd, dying before he could 
realize any profit from the mill, it was bought by Mr. Parrish, who operated 
it for a time and then sold it to John Hay. He operated it until 1873, when 
he sold it to C. M. Berkley. 

This building which served as a profitable mill so long was thirty by forty- 
two and a half feet, and had both water and steam power. The supply of 
water was so constant that the steam was seldom used. The building was 
moved from the position that it first occupied to the bank of the creek (but 
a short distance) soon after Berkley bought it. 

Jacob Brazelton put up a horse mill at his place near the Vermilion at 
an early day, which, though a cheap affair, as were all these horse mills, yet 
did better than going so far to have the corn ground. 

The first carding mill is credited to William Miliken, who built one in 
about 1830. It was indeed a primitive affair. It was run by tread power, and 
when he wanted to get up power he had to hunt up the oxen which ran in the 
bush, and these were not readily found. If they had happened to have wan- 
dered over to the river for water, which they were apt to do, it took days to 
reach the required power to run the mill. Meanwhile there was nothing to 
do but to wait for the desired material. This primitive mill has long since 
passed, together with the industry which made the demand for it. Mr. Whit- 
sill built a mill on Middle Fork in about 1832 or 1833. He operated it several 


years, and then it fell into the hands of the McGees. It finally had to be 
abandoned because of not being kept in repair. It was a grist-mill at first, 
with a sawmill added later. 

Another old mill on Middle Fork was built by James Howell, who operated 
it a short time and died; and his son then operated it, and he died. Then Mr. 
Downing took it, and next James Cunningham ran it until it became useless. 
This was a sawmill at first, but it finally had a corncracker added before it 
was abandoned. 

Another sawmill in the county was built this same year of 1832. It was 
built by Naffer & Smalley three-fourths of a mile southeast of Higginsville. 
It did good work, and was much in demand in sawing up the timber. Hard 
wood lumber was much in demand for fencing, building and furniture. Later 
a grist-mill was added to this and did good work, and was a great convenience. 
This mill was in operation until 1860, or perhaps later, but long ago every 
evidence of its being had disappeared. 

There was a water mill built on Stoney Creek in 1835 by Robert Kirkpatrick, 
which was operated for some years. It was a sawmill, and was run only by 
Kirkpatrick himself. One of the best mills of its time was what was known 
as the old Kyger mill. Situated as it was, with surroundings of the most beau- 
tiful scenery, it was a pleasing spot, and a favorite place, even after its use- 
fulness as a mill was passed. The first mill upon this site was built by William 
Sheets, of Georgetown and Thomas Morgan, in 1835. When Mr. Kyger came 
into possession of the mill, he built a large frame and put in new machinery. 

Mr. Amos Williams has left a number of letters and other papers from 
the contents of which there is reason to infer that he was much interested in 
milling, but it is difficult to learn how many mills he had, and where they were 
located. Whether he bought or built the one long known as the "Cotton's 
mill" is not known, but that it was in his possession at one time is not to be 
disputed. It was in 1836 that the dam was put in at this place, at any rate, 
and that is a probable date of its being begun. This mill was built on the 
main stream of the Vermilion river, and it is possible that the date fixed for 
its beginning is too late, and it is the date of a second dam. Mr. Williams 
did not prove as successful as a miller as he was in many other things, and 
the mill was a heavy expense with little returns, as long as he lived. After 
his death Mr. Cotton bought this mill, refitted it, and continued to run it until 
1867. This mill had a carding machine attached to it. After the building of 
the new mills began, Mr. Cotton thought he could use his water privilege to 
greater profit, and discontinued the use of the old mill. The fall was about 
six feet and gave head sufficient for more modern wheels. 

Mr. Hale came to Danville in the thirties, bringing some money with him. 
As a general thing, the early settler did not have much money. This was the 
first capitalist to come to Danville on record. Since there was no better way 
to invest his money, he built a sawmill in 1836. He took a Mr. Galusha as a 
partner, and his investment was profitable. Had he entered less land, with 
the profits of his sawmill, he would have become very wealthy; but he made 
the mistake many others have, and became possessed of more land than he 
had money to pay taxes upon. 


In the course of time it was considered a need of the community to have 
a steam sawmill located at Danville. A company was organized, consisting 
of Thomas Willison, Thomas McKibben, J. H. Murphy and G. W. Cassidy, 
and perhaps one or two others, and a mill of that kind was built. This steam 
sawmill was located on the Vermilion Bottoms just below where the Wabash Rail- 
road crosses the river. This promising improvement to Danville was destined never 
to profit its projectors, however. The panic of 1837 struck it, and it was suf- 
fered to go into decay ; even the logs which were drawn there to be sawed into 
lumber, were left to decay in the yard. 

Eli Thornton built a water mill on the Little Vermilion at the Wright-Cook 
ford in 1837. This was both a gristmill and a sawmill. The need of the latter 
was more particular at this time because of the fact that many of the trees 
had been killed the previous season. The frost was so severe in June of that 
year that the leaves of the trees were killed, and the trees, many of them, were 
also killed. Thornton ran this mill until 1857, when it was abandoned as a 
mill and the frame of the building was sold to James Frazier for a barn. 
There was a mill built at Cook's ford before this. Jonathan Haworth built 
one in 1830. This mill Isaac Cook bought and sold to Eli Patty, who operated 
it as long as it could be used. 

With advancing civilization, the water at this place became too low to run 
a mill. A mill was built in the more northern part of the county the same 
year that Eli Thornton built his at the Wright-Cook ford. Mr. Menely, him- 
self a practical millwright, built a sawmill at a little way down stream from 
Marysville. Menely ran this mill for some time-, but afterward sold it to 
Smith. While it was the property of Smith, J. D. Shepler was the miller. In 
about 1860 the mill burned. Smith rebuilt it and sold it. In 1872 a run of 
stone was put in. 

The year after Menely built his mill down stream from Marysville, Myers- 
ville was made a possibility by the building of the Chrisman mill at that 
place. A dozen families were settled in this neighborhood, and Peter Chris- 
man came from Indiana and bought a mill site at that place, and began the 
building of what he meant should- be a combined saw and grist mill. He 
began his work on the building at once, but before the grist mill was begun 
a sad accident prevented further work upon it. A sharp ridge lay transversely 
to the mill-race which the men were cutting, and it was decided to tunnel it 
to avoid removing the great amount of earth in the way. Chrisman's son 
Joseph drove the digging too far before he propped the great weight over- 
head and it broke down, crushing him beneath. This accident occurred in 
February, 1839, and it so affected the father that he never finished the build- 
ing, but sold the mill in the following fall to a man living in Indiana. This 
man's name was Koontz. He employed John and Samuel Myers to go and 
complete the work which was begun. These Myers brothers were practical 
millwrights, and soon bought out Koontz, moving their families to the place 
which afterward was given their name. These brothers were enterprising men, 
and besides running the sawmill, they at once put in a run of .stones and also 
set a carding mill in operation. In June, 1842, they set a carding mill in opera- 
tion. In June, 1843, they raised the grist mill. They owned and operated this 


mill for nearly twenty years. After making much profit, they sold the mill 
to Joseph Smith. By this time only the grist mill was in use. It has been 
some years since this old mill has been run to profit, yet it still stands, and 
some one or another comes along occasionally and fixes it up, and finds work 
can be had from it even yet. 

A little northwest of Alvin there is yet to be seen the old historic mill 
around which cling tales of prosperity and tragedies. It was built by Mr. 
Clawson in 1838 as a sawmill, and later was also made a grist mill. After the 
accident at the Chrisman mill which cost young Chrisman his life and the 
mill was sold in consequence, Mr. Chrisman bought the Clawson mill at Alvin. 
The Clawsons ran this mill nearly ten years and then sold it to John Hoobler 
from Perrysville, Indiana. In 1851 Hoobler sold the mill to Jacob T. Ross 
and from that time it was called the Ross mill. To accommodate his neigh- 
bors, Ross put in a small stock of goods and made the first store in the town- 
ship. It was here that the town meetings were held, and here also were the 

In 1858 John L. Persons bought the mill and operated it until his tragic 
death in 1862. The circumstances of his death were as follows : A man by 
the name of Miller had an account with Persons of less than five dollars. In 
making settlement a dispute arose between him and Persons. Being very angry, 
Miller laid his pocketbook down and went home without it. When he dis- 
covered that his pocketbook was missing, and remembered that he had left 
it at the mill, he would not return for it, but made an agreement with three 
men to get it for him. The agreement was that the men, whose names were 
Sanders, Smith and Moore, should go to the mill after the pocketbook, and 
in case they did not succeed in getting it, they should kill Mr. Persons. The 
men said they would go together and demand the pocketbook, and all expected 
they would have no trouble in getting it. Miller gave them a gallon of whiskey 
and agreed to give them half of what was in the pocketbook. There was about 
ten dollars there. Moore, for some reason, had the custody of the whiskey 
and drank more than his share before the others were ready to go. He started 
on the errand alone, and without asking Persons for the pocketbook, killed 
him on sight. After Moore killed Persons, he hunted up the others and told 
them their help was not needed. Moore was arrested, but turned states evi- 
dence, and thus escaped punishment. On the death of Persons, the property 
went into the hands of Sangster & Swazy of Cincinnati, Ohio, and about 1867 
John Mains bought it. 

About 1839 James George built a grist-mill on the Middle Fork and operated 
it eight or ten years. He then sold it to Mr. Watts. Mr. Watts ran this mill 
for seven or eight years, and sold it to Mr. Phillips. Mr. Phillips kept it for 
a while and sold it to Abisha Sanders, who let it run down. Later Doane & 
Byerly bought it and put it into profitable working order, and sold it to Mr. 
Swift of Danville. A watermill was built on the Vermilion by William Jenkins 
about 1840. It was a good mill and did good work. The water at this point 
rose rapidly and at times was very high. So uncertain was the water here that 
the bridge was nearly thirty-five feet high. With all precautions taken the mill 
was washed away at high-water time. An incident of this bridge is to the effect 



that while a boy on a wagon load of corn, was crossing it, the bridge broke and 
the wagon fell into the water; the bridge was ruined, the wagon disabled, but 
strange to say, the boy was not hurt. The old woolen mill on the banks of the 
North Fork of the Vermilion river at Danville was for a long time one of the 
landmarks of Vermilion County. The building yet stands, but the machinery 
has all been sold and since the attempt at a box factory a few years ago, no 
use has been made of it. This mill was built in 1844, by Hobson and Ailsworth, 
and went through many hands and many changes of remodeling in the thirty 
years before Riggs & Menig took it in 1877, and made a woolen mill of it. It 
was first operated by hand power, then by water power and at last by steam 
power. Its supply of water by the series of fine springs on the bluff above it, 
added to its value. This mill was probably better known than any other in 
the county, and during the time it was operated by Mr. Menig, its product was 
a pride and could compete with any in the country. The large steam mill at 
Georgetown was built by Henderson, Kyger, & Morgan, in 1850. It was built 
forty by fifty-three stories high, and had three run of stones. It was a great suc- 
cess and was in active operation until the same firm, Henderson & Kyger 
built the first grist-mill in Danville. Later Mr. M. M. Wright bought it and ran 
it for some time. By 1859 the county had grown to such proportions that more 
mills were needed. Blount township had grown and a grist mill was much needed. 
It was then that Henry and Andrew Wood built a sawmill and a grist-mill on 
North Fork, near the northeast corner of the township. It was a good mill 
with two run of stones, and had enough water to run almost all the time. 

Another sawmill was built in Blount township in 1861. This was built on sec- 
tion 26 (20x12) and run by steam. Anderson come from Michigan, and bought 
sixty acres of timberland, and cut it off for lumber. It was a splendid piece of 
timber. He ran the mill here about eight years, and then sold it to William and 
John Lee, who moved it to section 36. This year was the time of building an- 
other mill at Danville. There was no longer any need to locate the mills on 
the banks of streams because the power adopted was steam. So it was the 
Amber Mill was built near the Wabash station. It was built in 1866 at an 
original cost of $28,000. This mill was burned in 1874 and rebuilt by Bowers & 
Co. Later it was sold to D. Gregg who ran it until the time of his death. 
This was a fine mill and produced an excellent grade of flour. The building 
was three stories and a half and basement built of brick, and was forty by a 
hundred on the ground. It was remodeled in 1878, substituting the new process 
and making it a first-class mill in every respect, which it continued to be as long 
as it was operated by Mr. Gregg. The building lay idle for some time after 
Mr. Gregg's death and in 1902 it was remodeled and used for the wholesale 

John Dougherty built a grist mill at Fairmount in 1868. It was forty by fifty 
and supplied with three run of stones. The mill under his management was a 
great success. It was built at a cost of $15,000. The Globe Mill was a conspicious 
building in Danville for many years. It was built by Knight & Fairchild in 
1870. It was 40 by 80, and well equipped with the "patent process" machinery. 
It had four run of stones. This mill was known as the "Lustro" after the firm 
of Smith & Giddings took it. Mr. Joseph Smith, the senior member of the firm, 


had been connected with the mill a year before the firm was established in 1875. 
During the proprietorship of Smith & Giddings, the output of the mill was about 
40 barrels per day. This mill was operated until 1894, during which year the 
partnership was dissolved by the death of both Mr. Smith and Mr. Giddings. 
The building was burned the same year and was not rebuilt. A large and, in 
every respect a first class mill was built at Rossville in 1875, by Tittle and Ross. 
The City Mill in Danville was built on Vermilion street opposite the jail, by 
Samuel Bowers. It was a frame building 60 foot front on Vermilion street and 
55 on South street. This mill is better known as the Wright mill, or the Dan- 
ville mill. Mr. Wright bought this mill in the early seventies and under his 
supervision this industry became an important factor of the city's growth. He 
constantly enlarged it. 


Compiled by F. W. Butterworth. 

Although the use of clay for the manufacture of articles of utility or orna- 
ment is one of the oldest crafts of the world, yet the various operations connected 
with it have never yet been reduced to an exact science, and definite data as to 
character, accessibility, or methods of working, is very scarce. 

Before proceeding to a description of the clays and clay industries of this 
county, it would probably be pertinent to give a little time to a brief description 
of clays in general. 

It must be understood that the word clay is used in its broadest sense to 
designate any silicate of alumina from which ware of any description can be 

No really satisfactory classification has yet been proposed, but the following 
grouping is perhaps the best suited to general purposes, and this, therefore, is 
taken from the Geological Report of the State of Illinois, Bulletin No. 9, as 
adopted from Orton & Wheeler: 



Whiteware Clays. -I China Clay. 

[Ball Clay. 

High Grade Clays 

f Plastic Fire Clay. 
Refractory Clays. -I Flint Clay. 

[Refractory Shale. 

Pottery Clays. 



Low Grade Clays 

Stoneware Clays and Shales. 
Paving-brick Clays and Shales. 
Sewer Pipe Clays and Shales. 
Roofing Tile Clays and Shales. 

(Terra Cotta Clays and Shales. 
Common Brick Clays and Shales. 
Drain Tile Clays and Shales. 

Vitrifying Clays. 

Brick Clays. 

Gumbo Clays. 

Loes and Adobe Clays. 

Slip Clays. 

Fullers Earth. 

This classification will perhaps be best understood by identifying the various 
kinds of clay with the wares they are best suited to produce. 

Taking the first group of "High Grade Clays," all of the "Whiteware and 
Pottery Clays" are used to produce articles of comparatively light weight, where 
the cost of procuring the raw material is a very small factor in the total value 
of the article, and generally speaking are used in the manufacture of wares com- 
bining ornament and utility, such as art-ware of all descriptions, pottery, china- 
ware, porcelains, sanitary-ware, insulating material, etc. 

Refractory Clays, as the name indicates, find their use in the making of 
wares of high fire and heat resisting qualities, such as fire brick, retorts, furnace, 
stove linings, etc. 

The value of ware produced in the State of Illinois during the year 1908, 
(the last statistics available at this writing,) from the first group of clays was 
$1,008,638.00, but unfortunately Vermilion County contributed nothing to this, 
as up to date no so-called "High Grade Clays" have been discovered in the 

From the second group, called "Low Grade Clays," are produced those wares 
in which the cost of procuring the raw material is a large factor in determin- 
ing their value, as face, paving and common brick, sewer pipe, terra cotta, roof- 
ing tile, drain tile, etc. 

The value of the products made from this group in the State of Illinois for 
1908 was $9,084,338.00, and of this amount practically ten per cent was produced 
from Vermilion County; hence, although this group of clays is called "Low 
Grade," it is a fact that they are of more importance to a community than clays 
of higher grades and value per ton. 

Referring to the classification, and having eliminated from consideration all 
of the so-called "High Grade Clays," because there are none available in this 
territory, modern practice, as applied to the location of clay plants, forces us 
to confine the discussion of this subject, as connected with Vermilion County, to 
"Vitrifying Clays" for the following reasons : 


Slip-Clays and Fullers Earth are of comparitively slight value, and so far 
have not been found in this district. 

Prior to 1890 practically all of the "Low Grade Clays" wares, such as brick, 
sewer pipe, terra cotta, etc., more especially brick, were made from Gumbo, Loes 
or Brick Clays. These being of late geological formation (Quaternary or Tertiary 
periods), the deposits are not uniform in quality, or of very great depth, hence 
the plants were of necessity small and scattered over a wide area. 

Since the discovery, however, of the utility of the "Vitrifying Clays," con- 
sisting mostly of the shales and under-clays of the carboniferous period, a great 
change has been made in the industry. Because of the uniformity of these de- 
posits, and of their great depth, enormous supplies of raw material are avail- 
able close to the plants. Capital has, therefore, been able to concentrate and 
instead of a number of scattered, horse-power brick-yards, we find large plants, 
equpped with the best of appliances, using steam shovels for digging their ma- 
terial, and with all of the modern labor and fuel saving devices, as recommended 
by the best engineering practice. 

Hence, although it is true that the Loes, Gumbo and Brick Clays are still 
being used to some extent, particularly in the Cook County region, it is still a 
fact that the product manufactured from them is very inferior, and it is doubt- 
ful if the modern Ceramist would recommend the investment of capital in a 
plant to work any thing except the "Vitrifying Clays" of the Carboniferous 
period, consisting of the shales above and the clays beneath the coal strata. 

In considering, therefore, the Clays of Vermilion County, we can safely con- 
fine the discussion to the coal measure or caboniferous materials, and hence the 
geological section becomes of prime importance: 


No. i, Glacial deposits up to 200 feet, not workable. 

No. 2, Workable shale 5 to 100 feet. 

No. 3, No. 7 coal, 18 inches to 7 feet. 

No. 4, A. Under-clay, not workable, 3 to 10 feet. 

No. 5, Shale with lime-stone layers in places, 10 to 25 feet. 

No. 6, No. 6 coal, i to 12 feet. 

No. 7, B. Under-clay, not workable, 3 to 10 feet. 

No. 8, Sand-stones and shale, 3 to 25 feet. 

No. 9, Sandy shale, 20 to 40 feet. 

No. 10, Blue argillacious shale, 200 feet. 


Of the above No. i is of no interest to the clay industry, as it consists al- 
most entirely of gravels, sands, hardpans, and the kind of materials which could 
not possibly be worked into any clay products. In every instance No. i forms 
the stripping, which must be gotten rid of before any of the underlying materials 
can be worked. 

In many instances, where Nos. 2 and 9 are available in the low grounds, 
bottoms and second-bottoms they are covered with a very heavy deposit of No. 


i, and in no place in the county are any of the workable strata free from a 
more or less extensive over-burden of this glacial drift. 

No. 2 is a plastic, blue, argillacious, red burning, shale, vitrifying at about 
1,950 degrees F., with a very slight range between the point of vitrification and 
the point of fusion, making it a very dangerous shale to work. This stratum is 
valuable only for common building brick, and is being extensively used for 
this purpose by the Western Brick Company, at Danville, who are manufac- 
turing upwards of 250,000 daily. 

At the particular point where this Company is producing, it varies from 
20 to 35 feet in thickness, and it is very unusual to find it exceeling 50 feet in 
depth, except in and around Glenburn, where it attains its maximum of about 
100 feet, including from 15 to 25 feet of solid sand-stone, which forms the top 
of the deposit. 

The bottom 35 to 40 feet of this shale analyzes as follows : 


Si 2 54.38 

A1 2 O, 21.61 

Fe, O. 7.55 

CaO 1.30 

MgO 2.34 

Na, O 2.24 

K, O 0.79 

Moisture at 100" C 1.70 

Loss on ignition, combined, H 2 O and CO 2 7.84 


Although this analysis compares favorably with some of the best paving 
brick shales of the country, yet the infusible sillica particles seem to be very fine 
in texture, making the burned clay body too brittle for this class of clay prod- 
ucts, and the range in temperature between the point of vitrification and the 
point of fusion being so small, renders this shale practically useless for sewer 
pipe, or any of the kindred wares. 

The under-day, No. 4, designated at "A," although of sufficient depth, is of 
exceedingly poor quality, is not refractory, and is impregnated with lime nodules, 
which of course would make it impractical for any purpose. 

The No. 5 deposit is a dark, slaty shale, and forms the roof for the exten- 
sive mining operations of No. 6 coal. In nearly every instance this shale is 
mixed with layers of from two to twelve inches of limestone. 

No. 7 is an under-clay, designated as "B." Although some better than 
No. 4, it is not sufficiently refractory to make it valuable for any fire-resisting 
ware, and has neither the strength nor color requisite for the manufacture of 
sewer pipe, light-colored brick, or for any of the products in which under-clays 
are usually used. Concretions of lime are often prevalent, making it a dangerous 
material for any purpose. 


In almost every instance the first 20 feet of material under No. 7 deposit 
contains hard, bulky sandstone, too gritty to be worked in with the underlying 
shale, and with not sufficient weather-resisting properties to make it valuable as 
a building stone. 

Quite a considerable quantity of this stratum has been quarried southeast 
of Danville and used for building stone, with, however, but indifferent results. 
The first action of the weather is to harden it, as is usual in sandstone, but 
after repeated freezing and thawing, disintegration commences. 

The analysis of this sandstone is as follows: 


Si O 2 68.24 

A1 2 O 3 9.66 

Fe 2 3 5.58 

Ca O 5.50 

Mg O 2.27 

Loss on ignition : 9.30 


No. 9 is the most valuable, general purpose shale in the entire coal measures 
accessible in Vermilion County, but unfortunately, because of its location in the 
geological section, it is seldom found accessible, except with extraordinary 
heavy stripping, or by mining. 

The analysis of the above is as follows : 


Si O 2 60.24 

A1 2 O 8 23.29 

Fe 2 3 5-13 

Ca O 1.50 

Mg O 2.09 

Loss on ignition, combined, H 2 O and CO 2 7.42 


The infusible silica particles are of rough, sharp grain, the material vitrifies 
at about 2,050 degrees F., and there is a wide range between this and the point 
of fusion, making it a safe shale to work, and producing very tough, dense- 
textured ware, standing high rattler tests, and is in every way a desirable ma- 
terial. This stratum is red burning under oxidizing conditions, but will burn 
to good, dark color when reducing atmosphere is used in the kiln. 

This deposit is being worked extensively by the Danville Brick Company 
in the manufacture of superior grade of paving brick, and has been worked for 
some years by the Selley Brick Company, located at Danville, Illinois, which 
plant has recently been purchased by the Western Brick Company, who are 


enlarging and improving it, with the idea of manufacturing dark colored, low 
grade facing brick. 

Bearing in mind the fact that only "Low Grade Clays" exist in the county, 
and that their accessibility and proximity to market are the determining factors 
of their utility, the geographical distribution of these clays over the county, 
with respect to the surface, will be of paramount interest. 

The provisional geological map of Illinois of 1907 shows the entire county 
as being in the coal measure, or carboniferous belt. This may be true, and yet 
the clay deposits be so covered up by glacial drift as to be inaccessible, except 
by mining, which process of procuring raw material is, for most "Low Grade 
Clay" products, impracticable. 

Only in portions of Danville, Catlin, Georgetown and Oakwood townships 
do conditions exist favorable to the finding of clays of modern utility, accessible 
from the surface, as practically all of the balance of the county is level prairie, 
and the coal measures are covered by heavy glacial drift. 

Summarizing, therefore, we find that: 

ist. The geological formation of Vermilion County is unfavorable to the 
discovery of any clays other than those suitable for the manufacture of "Low 
Grade" products. 

2d. The area in which valuable materials are likely to be found accessible, 
without mining, is very small compared with the total area of the county, and 
is limited to portions of Danville, Catlin, Georgetown and Oakwood townships. 

3d. Referring to the geological section, No. 2 material (shale above No. 7 
coal), and the No. 9 material (shale under No. 6 coal) alone can be utilized, 
all of the under-clays being non-refractory and more or less impregnated with 
limestone nodules. 

4th. Even in the townships in which the carboniferous formation occurs 
close to the surface, there is little probability of finding desirable strata ex- 
posed, without a heavy over-burden of alluvial or glacial drift. 

* * * * 

Prior to the year 1888 only the surface or the alluvial clays of the county 
had been worked, and those only in a small way in the manufacture of com- 
mon "Low Grade" building brick and drain tile. 

About the year above mentioned the Grape Creek Coal Company built a 
plant near Grape Creek, southeast of Danville, and opened deposit No. 5 of 
the geological section, or the shale between Nos. 6 and 7 coals. 

This was operated intermittently under the active management of Dr. 
Joseph Fairhall until 1895, when it was definitely abandoned. Although some 
very good ware in both building and paving brick were produced, the material 
was not very satisfactory, and the limestone layers, prevalent in this stratum, 
caused some trouble. 

This plant was the pioneer in the working of the coal measure clays of this 
county, and it was mainly because it proved the possibilities of these that all 
succeeding enterprises were located. 

In 1891 J. G. Shea opened No. 2, being the shale above the No. 7 coal r 
and No. 9, being the shale below No. 6 coal, directly west of Danville. This 
plant, very much improved and enlarged, is now being operated by the Dan- 


ville Brick Company, and is now using No. 9 almost exclusively. It is equipped 
with all modern machinery, kilns, etc., including an extraordinary heavy steam 
shovel, and is manufacturing about twenty millions yearly of ten-pound paving 
blocks of excellent quality, testing favorably with the acknowledged best of the 

In 1900 the plant of the Western Brick Company was built about two 
miles and a half west of Danville, and stratum No. 2, or the shale immediately 
overlying the No. 7 coal, was opened and has been almost exclusively used ever 

This company is forced to remove an over-burden of from 15 to 20 feet 
of glacial drift before reaching workable material, which is accomplished by 
hydraulic process, or the washing of the stripping down an inclined plane. As 
part compensation for this, however, a considerable quantity of No. 7 coal, six 
feet in thickness, is uncovered; the shale almost down to the coal being work- 

This is in every way a modern plant, using steam shovels and the best of 
equipment throughout; mines all its own coal, operates 58 kilns, and produces 
upward of seventy-five million yearly of vitrified and impervious red and brown 
building brick, of which quite a considerable portion is used for facing pur- 

The clay industries of the county at the present writing represent an in- 
vestment of considerably over a million dollars, give steady employment to over 
five hundred men, and disburse an annual payroll somewhat in excess of 


Notwithstanding the evident advantages to be found for factories in 
cheap coal and ready means of transportation, Vermilion County is not 
the manufacturing center it should be. It is rather an agricultural and 
mining community. There have been attempts made to locate factories but they 
have in more cases failed than have met with success. In Hoopeston, the manu- 
facturing interests are such as are needed to help out the canning in- 
dustries. There is one exception to this in the horse shoe nail factory. 
Many factories in Danville, have either gone out of business or moved away. 
A mention of the names of some of these may, perhaps recall their possibilities. 
The Wrought Iron Wagon Works, the Garland Tile factory, The Great Western 
Machine and Engine shops, the carriage shops of D. Force and William White- 
hill, the organ factory of J. Miller and son, and the Morris Burley & Co., 
manufactory of fine furniture. The William Stewart general foundry and 
machine shop has a successor in the Danville Foundry and Machine Co., of 520 
Junction ave. The Holmes Bros, conduct a large machine shop where every- 
thing in the way of machinery can be made from the parts of an automobile, 
traction engine, and mine and mill machinery, to automatic bell ringers for loco- 
motives, shaker screens, weigh hoppers, smoke stacks and car lifts. Their pro- 
ducts are shipped to all parts of the country, a complete set of milling machinery 
being, within the last year, shipped to a number of South American mines. 
This extensive business started in Danville under the firm name of Baker & 
Holmes, thirty years ago, in a small building near the Wabash railroad, by 
Robert Holmes and P. T. Baker. Mr. Baker withdrew from the firm in 1890, 
and Sherman and Grant Holmes entered the firm and the present name was 
assumed. Later the business was moved to the corner of Hazel and North 
streets and Holmes Bros, offered "everything on wheels" to the public The 
business has grown famously, they taking on the sale of automobiles, being the 
first in the county to deal in these machines. 

The Western Brick Co. was erected nine years ago, being opened in 1900. 
When first started, the capacity of the plant was 150,000 bricks per day, but the 
improvements have been made, until now the output of this factory is 250,000 
bricks per day. This is the largest brick plant in the world. The company 
owns about 350 acres of land, all of which is underlaid with coal and shale, 



both quite necessary to modern brick-making. The surface covering of the shale 
is removed by hydraulic pressure. The shale is then removed by a huge steam 
shovel, with a capacity of many yards, the shale is then loaded in small dump 
cars and hauled to the plant, some distance away, by miniature locomotives, two 
of which are used in hauling the train loads of shale to the plant and the third 
used in the hauling of coal from the company's mines, after the shale has been 
removed. The shale is first crushed, then by a number of very expensive 
machines, it is reduced to a powder. This powder is subjected to a certain 
treatment, after which it is then mixed with water and given to the brick-making 
machinery. Four large brick-machines are constantly in operation, manufactur- 
ing a variety of products, more than thirty different shades and varieties being 
turned out at this plant. The plant has never ceased operation since starting, 
and gives yearly employment to 30x1 men. The Western Brick Company make 
a specialty of medium priced vitrified facing brick and produce over thirty 
shades and varieties, ranging in color from a bright cherry red to black. This 
is one of the principle factories of Danville. The Danville Brick Co. is a local 
enterprise which ran perhaps a half dozen years and about four years ago was 
given material help by the fact of four men taking hold of it and pushing it to 
its fullest capacity. Its capacity was increased from 16,000 blocks to 60,000 
per day. These are the large sized paving bricks, which, if computed in regular 
brick size, would be a little more than 120,000 per day. The closing of the 
mines had very little effect on this company. The Danville Brick plant is located 
in a peculiar depression, where the best grade of shale is to be found. The 
shale from which the big paving blocks are made is taken from below the first 
vein (No. 7) of coal, that shale being more flinty, much harder and at the 
same time more like cement than the upper shale, of which the product of most 
companies is made. This lower strata of shale is very thick and compact and 
heavy shooting is necessary to loosen it. It was because of this that the company 
petitioned the city council to declare the plant outside the city limits. When 
completed, the blocks weigh eleven pounds, or there abouts. Two grades of 
paving blocks are handled by this company, first and second class bricks. Only 
first class bricks are sent out for paving streets ; the seconds are used for house 

There are several planing mills in Danville. The oldest perhaps is that of 
E. C. Lamm, or N. E. Holden. In the case of the latter the business was in- 
herited from his father so that the name of Holden and the business of the 
lumber trade has been associated for years. The name of Lamm is as closely 
associated with the lumber interest however, since the older brothers of Mr. E. 
C. Lamm were lumber merchants, nearly, if not quite, as long ago as was Mr. 
John Holden. Other planing mills are the Eureka Planing Mills, located at the 
corner of Woodbury and Robinson streets, Frank L. Hill, Trent Bros., S. 
P. Swisher, and the Bolander Lumber Co. 

The Already Box Company is another of Danville's factories, at present. 
This is located at the corner of Section street and Big Four tracks. 

The Kelley Block and Tile Co., located at 1909 is another small factory. So 
also is Powers and Supple, located on N. Hazel street. The Danville Lounge 
and Mattress Co., located on Franklin street between North and Main, is an 


established business and is a factory which reflects credit on the city. The 
Harenden Milling Co. is located in the east part of the city and has a profitable 
output of good products. The Street Railway and Light company operates a 
gas plant, an electric light plant, street railway lines, and a central station heat- 
ing plant. They operate about eighteen miles of city street railway lines, all of 
which are either new or have been rebuilt within the last five or six years. About 
six miles of the lines are double tracked. The company operates eighteen cars 
and gives a service varying from six minutes on certain lines to twenty minutes 
on other lines. The cars are operated from six o'clock in the morning to mid- 
night, and handle about ten thousand cash and transfer passengers per day. 
The electric lighting plant covers practically every part of the city with lines 
which carry lights equal to about 65,000 sixteen candle power lamps. The signs 
which the merchants of Danville have installed, and which are run by this com- 
pany, are a great attraction, and add much to the appearance of the city. There 
are about 25,000 miles of gas mains in Danville which furnishes gas to all the 
more thickly settled parts of the city both for lighting and cooking purposes. 
About three miles of steam heat furnishes the business and adjacent residences 
with steam to take the place of other fuel. The power house of this great sys- 
tem has 5,000 horse power installed in boilers and about 6,000 horse power in- 
stalled in engines and generators, all of which are worked to their full capacity. 
This plant furnishes power to the interurban line to a point within about fifteen 
miles of Decatur. The Headley Glass Company, and the Sweet Window Glass 
Company both promised much as factories, but did not meet expectations. The 
same can be said to a greater extent of the Danville Car Co., located at Tilton. An 
extensive plant came to Danville in 1904. It was the Regeler Smelting works. 
This plant was the outgrowth of the factory of the same nature under the man- 
agement of the father of these men and with which they, had been associated 
before coming to Danville. The firm bought several hundred acres of land and 
the coal under even a greater extent. This plant is one of unusual interest and 
is one for any community to view with pride. Another plant of value to the 
city of Danville is the Illinois Printing Co. It is a stock company and manufac- 
tures a high grade of blank books as well as does other work generally found in 
such an establishment. 




The first mercantile ventures made in Vermilion County were those with 
the Indians. It is impossible to get the exact date of the first trading with 
the Indians, since there is no record of such transactions, and the memory of 
any living man is of little worth, because there is no man alive today who could 
possibly know of this time. All such transactions antedate the experience of 
the grandfathers of the man of active life in Vermilion County now. 

There is no known fact by which this date can be estimated. The vague 
statements of early writers give the assurance of these traders but put no time 
of their trading at this point. The tales told to Col. Vance and Gurdon Hub- 
bard by the Indians in the 'twenties were of the white men who bought their 
furs, but they did not make an effort to locate the time of the trade, or if 
they did, no record was kept of it. 

These traders came on their own account long before the American Fur 
Company saw the wealth in fur along the waters of the Little Vermilion. At 
least it is reasonable to assume such to be the case. And it is a matter of 
record that the American Fur Company whose headquarters were at Macanaw, 
had agents in this region as early as the first years of the last quarter of the 
i8th century, and probably at an earlier date than that. True, there were no 
storehouses in the territory now Vermilion County, but a white man's instinct 
to get that which was of value to his red-skinned brother, would show him a 
way to keep the skins of the desired animal when he found them as abundant 
as they were in this locality. The timber along the Vermilion was productive 
of a variety of fur-bearing animals, even after the coming of the first settlers, 
and the hunters through the wilderness of eastern Illinois and western Indiana 
finding this wealth, if not exactly trading themselves, directed the disposition 
of the furs to the nearest or most accessible trading post. 

The American Fur Company early established a trade through the Illinois 
country with stations or posts in the eastern part along the Iroquois, the Em- 
barass and the Little Wabash. Their agents made a business of following the 
Indians in their hunting grounds, and in this way learned their habits, and their 



characteristics while they secured their trade. Gurdon S. Hubbard was agent 
for the American Fur Company, succeeding Antonin Des Champs in this ter- 
ritory in 1824. Antonin Des Champs had had charge of the interests of the 
company in the trade of the company for about forty years in the territory 
between the Illinois and Wabash rivers. This takes the record of trade in 
this section back to about 1785, or thirty-five years before the coming of the 
white settler to the location of Vermilion County. Des Champs was in charge 
of the territory until five years after small settlements had been made at the 
salt works, at Brook's Point, at Butler's Point and along the Little Vermilion. 

When Mr. Hubbard took charge of this territory, he abandoned the posts 
on the Illinois, and no longer carried the trade by water, but introduced pack- 
horses. The trail from Chicago to the salt works which he established was 
called Hubbard "Trace," and was followed for many years as the most direct 
road from Chicago to Vincennes, Indiana. This Hubbard Trace was the 
foundation of one of the most direct railroads in the state connecting Chicago 
and the Ohio river. 

In 1827 Gurdon S. Hubbard abandoned the posts on the Embarass and 
Little Wabash, and put up the- first frame building ever constructed in Ver- 
milion County for a storehouse, which became the headquarters for the Indian 
fur .trade in this part of the country. This trade was extensive and demanded 
the employment of several clerks. He brought three Frenchmen with him, two 
of whom married daughters of prominent early settlers. These men were Noel 
Vassar, Nicholas Boilvin and Toussaint Bleau. Nicholas Boilvin married a 
daughter of D. Woods, and Toussaint Bleau married a daughter of Dr. A. R. 
Palmer. Samuel Russell and William Bandy were both clerks at this trading 

During the five years this trading house was in operation, the Indians 
would file into town on their ponies in large numbers with their furs, which 
they exchanged for white flour, meat and other luxuries, as well as the trinkets 
they loved so well. They brought their squaws and papooses with them, and 
would camp on the bluff near the foot of Walnut street or a little further east 
on the same bluff, where they would feast and enjoy themselves for several 
days before again taking up their march whence they came. 

In 1832 Mr. Hubbard found that the Indian trade had declined to such pro- 
portions that it would be advisable to convert his stock into one that would 
better suit the increased white population. The fur-bearing animals had be- 
come scarce, and the Indian himself had been dispersed to such an extent, al- 
though it was not until six years later that the Pottawotomies were officially 
moved to beyond the Missisippi river. Hubbard had N. D. Palmer as his part- 
ner in his store, and the prospect for trade was good. He, however, became 
desirous of developing the swamp lands in which he had invested near Lake 
Michigan, and the same year that he made the change in his stock, he sold 
the store to Dr. Fithian. The building, which itself was worth a place in the 
history of Vermilion County because it was the first frame house built in the 
county, was on the south side of the public square on the east corner and re- 
mained standing many years. A less pretentious mercantile venture than that 
of Hubbard's was made by Dan Beckwith in 1821 near Denmark. He, with 


his brother George, came to the salt springs in 1809, and two years later is 
known to have had a few goods suitable for Indian barter, which he kept in 
a place partly excavated in the side of a hill at Denmark. A little later he 
moved to Danville and built a log cabin on the brow of the hill on Main street 
near Logan avenue. His later storeroom was located at the west end of the 
original Main street of Danville at the point where there is a turn in the street. 
He had as a partner one James Clyman who is described as a typical frontiers- 
man in buckskin leggins, hunting shirt and coonskin cap. Restless, as all of 
his kind were, he went on to the west as soon as the white man came here 
to make settlements. 

Benjamin Canaday was the first merchant in the southern part of the county. 
He, with his father and three brothers, came to the Little Vermilion to settle 
in the fall of 1821. He was a tinner by trade, and during the winter of the 
deep snow, made up a stock of tinware and took it to Louisville, where he 
traded it for goods. This stock of general merchandise he brought back with 
him and sold to the neighbors. In 1831 he went to Georgetown, and with the 
Haworths began the mencantile interests of that place. He became the man of 
largest mercantile interests in that prosperous village. This was in 1830. Mr. 
Canaday remained in business with Mr. Haworth for a time when he sold out 
and formed a partnership with Mr. Abraham Frazier. After a time, however, 
he sold the store to Dr. Gillaspie, who came from Tennessee, and Mr. Canaday 
remained in the store. He continued in the mercantile interests for a long 
time until he amassed a fortune. He was the leading merchant of Georgetown 
for many years. Mr. Canaday was a public-spirited man and was always found 
in all the enterprises tending to advance Georgetown. He built the brick store 
that was such a pride to the community and in which his successors in business 
were to be found during their term of mercantile life. Dr. Gillaspie continued 
in business for some time, but at last went west. 

Abraham Frazier was the one of that name who began the career of the 
family in the mercantile life in Georgetown. He was a tanner by trade, but 
went into the mercantile line and kept to that the rest of his life. His brother 
Abner came from Tennessee and began to farm, but gave it up to clerk in 
his brother's store. After a while he married, however, and went back to the 
farm. His sons were interested in mercantile matters and took the store con- 
tinuing the name of Frazier in the interests of trade in Georgetown, and hand- 
ing it down to yet another generation. Georgetown without a Frazier's store 
would be a strange place. 

James Shannon was a merchant at an early day, but met a most distressing 
death from accident which ended his efforts in mercantile lines. Among the 
other men who were merchants in Georgetown at an early time, the names of 
Flam Henderson, Jacob Yapp, Joseph Bailey, Mr. G. W. Holloway, Richie and 
the Cowans are conspicuous. The merchants of Georgetown have had first at- 
tention since that was the chief interest of the section in the early days. Before 
Danville was of any worth as a trading point. Georgetown was a flourishing 
village, and the mercantile interest was better cared for in that place than in 
any other in the county. During those days trade was dependent upon the 
best means of transportation, and that was, of course, waterways. Produce 


went down the Vermilion, the Wabash and Ohio rivers to the Mississippi 
river, and needed articles came either back that way or came from Cincinnati 
down the Ohio and up the Wabash to Perrysville, Indiana, whence it was hauled 
in wagons. A regular line of steamboats were going from Cincinnati to Perrys- 
ville in the 'thirties. Perrysville was the distributing point for the entire sec- 
tion of Illinois to the north and to the west. Later the Wabash Railroad was 
finished as far west as State Line, and goods were hauled from that point. 
Sometimes these goods came to Covington by way of the canal and were 
hauled thence to Danville or Georgetown, but by this time trade in Danville 
was improving. 

Indianola was the center of an attempt at establishing trade in 1837. Mr. 
Atkinson built a store; that is, he built a log house with a frame addition, and 
kept some goods for sale. This was not a good time to make any business 
venture and his failure was to be expected. Mr. Atkinson, too, was not fitted 
to carry on trade as was the custom at that time. Twelve months' time was the 
rule with merchants, and no one expected any less. There was no crop which 
would bring money until about Christmas. Some would carry their produce 
to Chicago for sale, but it was to exchange for some goods needed in the 
family, and no money exchanged hands. No one bought cattle or hogs until 
fall, and it was usually not until mid-winter that any one had any money to 
spend in paying bills at the store or the shop before that time. John Williams 
kept a general store for a while and Mr. O'Bryant added a stock of harness, 
saddlery and clothing. John Gilgis came here in 1842 and began selling goods. 
Samuel Sconce came here about this time and really was the first to work up 
a large mercantile trade. He had been in this part of the country since 1831 
and came to Indianola at this time from the farm which had become his son 
James'. Mr. Sconce had Mr. Joseph Bailey as his partner and also Mr. Gilgis. 
Mr. Bailey retired in 1857. During the business transactions of Bailey, Sconce 
& Co., it was no uncommon day's work to sell $500 worth of goods. Having 
noted the condition of trade in the southern part of the county in the days 
when yet Danville had no greater, and indeed not so great, facilities for the 
profitable exchange of products of the soil for articles needed for the house, it 
is well to take a look at the town northwest, on the north fork of the Big Ver- 
milion, whose prospects were more flattering than even these more southern 
villages, in the first years of county life. 

Denmark was the coming town at the time of the location of the county 
seat, and it was a hopeful competitor to the town at the mouth of the North 
Fork, that at this time never had been. Denmark could boast a mill, while yet 
Danville was going to Paris, or seeking grist at her doors. Seymour Treat 
built this mill in 1829 or 1830. Even before this, Dan Beckwith had a trader's 
handful of goods under the bluff at Denmark, and trade had begun long before 
he had offered the land to the commissioners, who were locating a county seat. 
After the mill was started, a considerable settlement followed, and soon two 
dry-goods stores were opened. One belonged to Alexander Bailey, and the 
other belonged to Stebbins Jennings. The former was the first started in busi- 
ness. Mr. Bailey became a man of influence, attaining much prominence. Mr. 
Jennings was a good business man as well, and perhaps of a more practical 


turn. He took a leading position in Denmark, and was freely entrusted with 
matters of responsibility. 

James Skinner was another early merchant of Denmark. Together with 
William McMillan, he bought the Treat mill. It is said by some that he opened 
the first inn. However that might have been, he was comparatively among the 
later comers to Denmark, and was by no means the earliest merchant in this 
early settled village. Mr. McMillan came about the latter part of 1832. Others 
had made the venture in mercantile work long before this time. John Williams 
kept a general store and also John Hunt. Returning to Danville, to note further 
the early mercantile interests. The storeroom built by George Haworth in 1827 
was on the corner now covered by the Daniel building. This is the northwest 
corner of the plaza and has always been a favorite site for buildings and keep- 
ing store. This store was built by George Haworth and was made of huge 
logs nicely hewn, and was two stories high, and took all the men in the country 
around to raise it. It was also provided with defensive portholes above and 
below. It was in the eastern end of this formidable barracks that Gurdon 
Hubbard had his stock of goods for trade with the Indians. This building stood 
for twenty years, when Adams & Co. put up a two-story frame building on the 
site of this, but it soon burned. Mr. Bateman was a merchant in a portion of 
this building when it burned, and he soon after bought the lot and put up the 
one-story brick building in 1855. This building stood until the present handsome 
Daniel building was put up on the/ .lot. This was the first corner occupied for 
mercantile purposes in Danvile, and has always been a popular corner. 

The first store in Myersville, that once important village, was built and the 
store opened by William and Andrew Zeigler, of Attica, Indiana. This firm sold 
the first goods north of Danville, excepting in Denmark. Myersville was well 
located for trade, particularly after the Wabash Railroad made State Line city 
its western terminus. This firm was succeeded by William Biggs, and he in 
turn was bought out by Green & Gundy (Joseph Gundy) in the spring of 1852. 
Early in 1854 Andrew Gundy took charge of the business previously carried 
on under the firm name of Green & Gundy, and thereafter conducted it in his 
own name. In the year 1857 he did a business of $36,000, retailing these goods 
from the store. He carried on his private business of buying and selling wool 
and the feeding of cattle and hogs, but this was not included in the amount 
named for the sales of the store. People came here from the distance of sev- 
enty miles to trade and have their milling done. 

Bismark had a store before it became a town. Robert Kerr built the room 
and began to sell goods, but was succeeded by John Leonard and then by 
Asa Bushnell. Mr. Bushnell bought out Mr. Leonard, and then went into 
partnership with Francis Gundy. They put up a nice building, and for a 
long time kept a general store. Green & Phillips kept a grocery and provision 
store for two years and were succeeded by Phillips Bros. 

Rossville, Hoopeston, even Collison and Ridge Farm, as well as other towns 
and cities in the county which could be mentioned, were not without their mer- 
cantile interests, but their first efforts came so late in the years of the life 
of Vermilion County that they would be out of place in this resume of the 
first mercantile interests in the county. 









Although Danville was less than ten years old in 1836, its prospective im- 
portance was such as to warrant the establishing of a branch of the State Bank 
of Illinois at this place. The United States Land Office was here and, while it 
was yet a town little more than in promise, it bid fair to become a place of im- 
portance. Mr. Mordecia Mobley was sent here to take charge of the new ven- 
ture and rented a small building on the corner south of the public square and 
east of Vermilion street, where he built a stone vault outside the building in 
which he put his safe. Mr. Mobley was a competent and safe business man and 
conducted a safe and very good business. He did the entire business himself, 
being president, cashier, teller and clerk. He made a gratuitous distribution of 
bank-books among the depositors. This branch did not issue any bills but paid 
the money out of the parent bank. Every thing went prosperously, until the 
crash of 1837, which disorganized all business and put an end to the profits of 
banking here as well as elsewhere. It was a common occurrence at that time 
to have banks fail, and it is no wonder that the branch of the State Bank of 
Illinois at Danville was one of the number. 

Banks failed, bankers disappeared and assets were missing, but it is recorded 
to the credit of Mr. Mobley that in his disappearance, none was defrauded. It 
is perhaps the only instance on record that a banker ran away and no one was 
the loser. The explanation of this is that when business became dull he spent 
much of his time in hunting, and being a lover of good horses he had a good team 
which he used in going away from home frequently. Because of this he could 
disappear one morning with his family and entire assets of his bank without 
causing suspicion. He knew that if it was known that a removal of the bank 
was contemplated, measures would be taken to prevent it, and much annoyance 
would ensue. Knowing as well that no one was defrauded by his going, he 
slipped away secretly. 

The next bank was started by an eastern man by the name of Cullum. This 
was in 1852, and the bank was one of those known as a stock security bank 
that is a certain portion of the capital was invested in state stocks, usually in the 
stocks of Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee and other southern states. The 
state of Illinois was bankrupt and had not even paid the interest of its debt for 
fifteen years, so her bonds were not considered bankable, and other bonds were 



sought. Eastern state stock could not be bought, hence a new bank must buy 
stocks of some southern state. When the rebellion broke out such states could 
not of course pay their bonds, nor even the interest on them, and consequently 
these banks established on this system which had not already failed, succumbed. 
Mr. Guy Merril was appointed cashier of this Cullum bank, and it was located 
in the old frame building. It had a capital of $50,000. Later it was removed to 
a building opposite the McCormack House. This bank was run successfully for 
three years and then sold to Daniel Clapp who had neither the required capital 
nor the experience to carry it on and in 1856 he failed. As soon as he failed; 
brokers all over the country stood ready to buy his bills at from fifty to seventy 
cents on the dollar. Messrs. Tincher and English, who had for some time been 
carrying on a large and growing business, were Clapp's assignees, and after 
closing up his business opened a private bank. These men were of much ex- 
perience in this vicinity, had sufficient capital for the then state of trade, were 
safe and judicious and enjoyed the full confidence of the people of the entire 
county. This private bank, established in 1856, was the beginning of the well 
known First National Bank of Danville. The first test of their ability to weather 
financial storms came in the year following the establishing of the bank. This 
bank sent the first application received at Washington for a charter under the 
national bank act of 1864, and in 1872 increased the capital to $150,000. They 
went through the panic of 1873 without difficulty. 

The real estate firm of Short and Wright commenced banking in connection 
with its business in about 1865. In 1867, Mr. Abraham Sandusky and Andrew 
Grundy became partners of John C. Short, and continued the business under 
the name of the Exchange Bank of J. C. Short & Co. This firm was interested 
in the development of the coal interests, and in building railroads which at that 
time were much needed and promised to be remunerative. Because of a variety 
of reasons this bank failed and the Danville Banking and Trust Co. was organ- 
ized on its ruins. This business enterprise, however, was of short duration. 
The Vermilion County Bank -established by W. P. and J. G. Cannon is now the 
well known and trusted Second National Bank. It was established in 1873 with 
a capital of $10,000. 


Compiled by J. H. Phillips. 

An act of the legislature approved April 4, 1872, "to enable associations of 
persons to become a body corporate, to raise funds to be loaned only among their 
members, having for their object the assistance of persons of small means to se- 
cure homes at about the cost which they must pay per month for rent," was 
a great factor in the building of Danville. The first building association or- 
ganized was in 1873, with W. P. Cannon as president; William' Giddings as vice 
president; Asa Partlow, secretary; R. A. Short, treasurer, and F. W. Penwell, 
attorney, who with George Wheeler Jones, M. D., J. H. Miller, O. S. Stewart, 
W. J. Henry, George Dolon, J. R. Holloway and C. U. Morrison, constituted the 
board of directors. The capital stock was limited to $400,000, and the books 
were closed when 3,313 shares had been subscribed, at $100 each. This was The 
People's Building Association. The Mechanics' Building and Homestead Asso- 
ciation of Danville, perfected its organization, November 22, 1873, with W. W. 
R. Woodbury, president ; W. A. Brown, vice president ; J. H. Phillips, secretary ; 
E. H. Palmer, treasurer, and J. W. Jones, attorney. The 2,500 shares of author- 
ized capital stock was duly subscribed. 

The Danville Building and Savings Association was organized August 20, 
1873, will Judge Terry, president; J. G. Holden, vice president; V. LeSeure, 
secretary; A. S. Hawes, treasurer; and J. P. Norvell, attorney. The capital 
stock was $250,000. The officers later became : J. G. Holden, president ; Dudley 
Watrous, vice president ; B. E. Bandy, secretary ; A. S. W. Hawes, treasurer ; 
J. P. Norvell, attorney, who with the following composed the board of directors : 
V. LeSeure, C. L. English, C. K. Miers, C. J. Palmer, J. B. Mann, E. E. Boudin- 
ott and John W. Dale. 

The Danville Benefit and Building Association was chartered June 12, 1874, 
a few days before the act repealing the act authorizing such associations took 
effect. An organization was effected February 28, 1877, with J. G. Holden, presi- 
dent; S. H. Stewart, secretary, and T. S. Parks, treasurer, and twelve directors. 
The authorized capital was $1,000,000, in shares of $100 each. A second series 
of shares was opened in March, 1879. The assets of this association at its last 
annual statement, March, 1910, were $1,535,534.50. The assets of this asso- 
ciation at its last annual statement, January, 1910, were $487,153.45. In De- 
cember, 1888, The Germania Building Association was organized, on the serial 
plan. Authorized capital, $10,000,000. Its first officers were: president, G. L. 
Klugel ; vice president, Gottlieb Maier ; secretary, Carl Winter ; treasurer, A. Es- 



slinger; attorney, W. P. Lawrence. The assets of this association were at its 
annual statement, January, 1910, $631,255.96. 

The Building and Loan Associations located in Danville, from the date of 
the organization in 1873, have been phenomenally successful, and of incal- 
culable value to the people. And not only by enabling thousands of families 
to procure their own homes, but also by instilling and fostering in the minds of 
the people the importance of saving money. By the last report of the Auditor 
of Public Accounts of the state of Illinois, for the year 1909, the assets of the 
Building and Loan Associations in the entire state, amounted to $58,444,972.52, 
and of that sum, $6,337,553.12, or nearly eleven per cent are held by the asso- 
ciations located in Danville. The three building associations organized in 1873 
issued all their shares as of the same date, and when those shares reached the 
matured value, $100, the association necessarily went out of business, which 
they did in about eight and one-half years, from the date of organization. At 
the session of 1878-79, the Illinois legislature reenacted the building asso- 
ciation law: said act being in force from and after July, i, 1879, and has been 
amended by acts of sundry dates thereafter. In December, 1879, The Equitable 
Building and Loan Association was organized on the serial plan, and with an 
authorized capital of $5,000,000. Its officers were William P. Cannon, president ; 
Dr. George Wheeler Jones, vice president; Asa Partlow, secretary; John W. 
Giddings, treasurer; F. W. Penwell, attorney: Its assets at its last semi-annual 
statement, August, 1910, were $913,516.16. 

November 18, 1880, The Danville Building Association was organized on 
the serial plan and with an authorized capital of $10,000,000. Its officers were 
George W. Hooton, president ; William A. Brown, vice president ; James H. Phil- 
lips, secretary; Ezra A. Leonard, treasurer; and James W. Jones, attorney. Its 
assets at its last semi-annual statement, July, 1910, were $1,870,792.26. 

Contempory with the Danville Building Association, The Vermilion County 
Association was organized on the serial plan, organized capital, $5,000,000. Its 
officers were J. G. Holden, president ; Dudley Watrous, vice president ; C. L. 
English, treasurer; B. E. Bandy, secretary; J. B. Mann, attorney. The assets 
of the association at its last annual statement in January, 1910, were $879,563.54. 
March 21, 1882, The Home Building Association was organized on the serial 
plan. Authorized capital, $5,000,000. Its officers were Achilles Martin, presi- 
dent ; W. D. Lindsey, vice president ; James H. Phillips, secretary ; F. W. Pen- 
well, treasurer; W. A. Young, attorney. The monthly payments on each share 
in this association was $1,000. This association was very popular from the date 
of its organization, and in eight years its assets were about one-third of a 
million dollars. In November, 1903. The Danville and Home Building Asso- 
ciation, being practically under the same management, and then on the same 
plan, it was voted by the directors of each to merge the two associations and 
wind up the Home. The Home is yet in existence, but its assets, at its last 
statement, had been reduced to $19,717.25. 

In November, 1884, The Fidelity Investment and Building Association was 
organized on the same plan, with authorized capital, $10,000,000. Its first offi- 
cers were : president, C. H. Giddings, vice president, Louis Platt ; treasurer, C. U. 
Feldkamp; secretary, W. F. E. Gurley; attorney, W. J. Calhoun. 


The profession of medicine in the early days in Vermilion County was not of 
much importance. The healing art was relegated to the Indian doctor and the mid- 
wife. The first physicians recorded as having practice in this region came from 
as far away as Palestine. Absalom Starr hurt his heel and it did not get bet- 
ter, so he and his family went back to Palestine and there seemed nothing that 
could be done to save the foot. Coming back to Vermilion County an Indian doc- 
tor cured it, however. The first physicians who made their home in the county 
were Dr. Isaac Smith, Dr. Heyward, Dr. Asa Palmer, Dr. Holmes and Dr. 

Dr. Isaac Smith built the first house or rather occupied the first building in 
Georgetown as an office in which to keep his little stock of "calomel and jalep, 
salts and senna, lancet and forceps." This latter found frequent use since the 
profession of dentistry had not as yet been established. Dr. Smith was a man 
of good education and excellent characteristics. He was a successful practitioner 
and found much to do in the treatment of fevers, and other ills incident to a 
pioneer residence in Vermilion County. His residence was but short, when he 
moved to Macinaw. , 

Dr. Asa Palmer located in Danville in about 1825, and became the first 
permanent physician in Vermilion County. His practice extended in every di- 
rection for many miles. He was an eastern man coming to Vermilion County 
from the state of New York. In connection with his son he established the 
first drug store in Danville. 

Dr. Heyward located in Georgetown in 1829. He continued his practice here 
for ten years, after which he moved to his farm in Carroll township where he 
resided until 1871, when he moved to Indianola. In 1831, Dr. Heyward married 
Sarah Barnett, daughter of George Barnett, and sister of the well known Rob- 
ert Barnett. Dr. Heyward, although a politician as well as a physician, did not 
let any thing interfere with his professional work. At the time of his coming 
into the county there were three other physicians here; they were Dr. Palmer, 
Dr. Holmes and Dr. Blood. 

Dr. David Knight was another of these early physicians; so also was Dr. 
W. P. Davis. The latter was a practitioner living in Georgetown. 



Dr. William Fithian came to Vermilion County and located in Danville. He 
was one of the most distinguished physicians ever living in the county. 

Dr. Fithian continued in active practice during almost sixty years after 
coming to Danville. During that time he saw many changes made in both pro- 
fessional and social life. During these years he was, probably as widely known 
as any man in Illinois. He was a typical pioneer physician, he would often be 
in the saddle for weeks at a time, excepting for a very few hours of sleep he 
might snatch at night. He made his trips on horseback, keeping from six to 
ten head of horses all in constant work. His practice extended as far west as 
Bloomington, in McLean County ; south to and into Edgar County ; north into 
Iroquois and Kankakee Counties, and at times even to Chicago, and east far into 
the state of Indiana. When he went on these long rides he always had a pack- 
age of tea with him and when he could not get the hot water to make a cup of 
the beverage, he would chew the tea grounds. Dr. Fithian was a politician, as 
well as a physician, and as such he was very well known. He was in the state 
legislature at the time the great appropriations were voted for internal improve- 
ments, and he did his best to keep the legislation from proceeding, seeing but one 
result from such wild propositions for spending the people's money. When 
Dr. Fithian found he had not enough influence to stop legislation, he proceeded 
to make the most of his knowledge of the matter and had the appropriation 
made for the North Cross Railroad, expended on abutments and grading in Ver- 
milion County. 

With the many physicians in Vermilion County during all the years since 
the coming of Dr. Asa Palmer, there are a few who have distinguished them- 
selves. Dr. Fithian is one of these. Another was Dr. George Wheeler Jones 
who came to Danville just after the close of the Civil war. Dr. Jones had served 
three years as assistant surgeon of the 63rd Regiment, Indiana Volunteers. He 
went into the army after a very short practice in Terre Haute, Indiana. Dr. 
Jones went to Wabash college and took his training in study of medicine in 
Lind University later Chicago medical college of Northwestern University, from 
which he was graduated in