Old Settlers' Union
LIBRARY OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
:ilinois Historical Sixrvey
■-,/■,; ^■■•— »Wx
UNIVERSITy Of ILLINOId
The Founder of Princeville
FROM THB RECORDS OF
OLD SETTLERS' UNION
Material comprised in
Reports of Committees on History and Reminiscences
for years 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910
Published under the auspices of
Old Settlers' Union of Princeville and Vicinity
S. S. SLANE
X f1 C
THE OLD SETTLERS' UNION OF PRINCEVILLE
Organized August 22, 1906, and first picnic held
September 19, of same year, in "Log Cabin Grove" of
Charles F. Cutter, who had been prime mover in the
Object, ''To perpetuate the memories of pioneer
days, foster a reverence for our forefathers, and
encourage the spirit of fellowship and hospitality."
Annual picnic and reunion last Thursday in August,
unless changed by Executive Committee.
Eligible to membership : Any person 21 years of
age, having resided within the State of Illinois one
year; dues, $1.00 per year.
Townships included : Princeville, Akron, Millbrook,
Jubilee, Hallock and Radnor in Peoria County; Essex,
Valley and West Jersey in Stark County; Truro in
Knox County; and La Prairie in Marshall County.
Committees on History and Reminiscences :
1906 : S. S. Slane, Mrs. J. E. Merritt, Edward Auten.
1907 : Edward Auten, Hannah G. Ilutchins, F. B. Blan-
1908 : Edward Auten, Rose C. Armstrong, H. J. Chees-
1909 : Edward Auten, L. L. Stewart, W. H. Adams.
1910 : S. S. Slane, W. H. Adams.
This book is a reproduction, with a few corrections
and additions, of the various sketches as transmitted by
the respective Committees to the Union each year, and
the sketches are given here in the same order as trans-
mitted to the Union, the year of writing being indi-
cated on each sketch.
Each of the Eeminiscence Committees has realized
that the families named in its sketches are but a few
taken from among the many families worthy the pen
of a historian ; and the Publishing Committee likewise
realizes that this booklet contains but a part of the
families that should be noted. The Committee there-
fore hopes that the publication of this volume will be
an incentive to the writing of additional family
sketches, and bespeaks the preparation of such sketches
by families interested, for future Reminiscence Com-
mittees, which may in due time be published in another
volume similar to this one.
Besides the copies of this booklet subscribed in
advance of publication, the committee has a limited
number of copies still on hand for sale at cost : 35 cents
per copy postpaid; 30 cents, carriage not prepaid.
By Mrs. J. E. Merritt, 1906.
As near as we have been able to learn, Daniel Prince
of Indiana was the first white man to settle at the
Grove. He came to this locality in 1821 and started his
home on the South side of the grove, on the land now
belonging to Mr. S. S. Slane. His cabin was built after
the style of Mr. Cutter's, save that it had no glass
windows, no upper story, and had a hole in the side
for a door.
Here Mr. Prince lived for many years among the
w41d men of the forest with no companion save his
faithful Thomas, concerning whom many interesting
anecdotes are related. He early made friends with the
red men, and when the Black Hawk War broke out in
1832, unlike the other early settlers he did not go into
the Fort at Peoria, but remained on his farm and was
About the year 1833, becoming tired of his lonely
existence, he married Miss Betty Morrow, aunt to our
well known fellow citizen, Mr. Hugh Morrow. To them
were born three children.
For several years Mr. Prince and his wife remained
here improving their home farm. But as others moved
in and the neighborhood began to assume a more civi-
lized aspect, a restless longing for the pioneer life he
so loved, impelled him in 1839 to move to Southwestern
Missouri, a country which at that time was the wild,
unimproved West. And here I am sorry to say, we lose
track of him, none of his descendants having lived in
this part of the country for any length of time. One
of his sons, I am told, visited with his relatives, the
Morrow's, a few years ago.
Many interesting and amusing stories are told by
the old settlers who were acquainted with this eccentric,
but benevolent man. Hospitality was the first law of
6 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
his life. Soon after settling here he began to raise a
nursery. When he set out his own orchard, he planted
a row of trees all along the South and West sides of his
farm which were free for all. Travelers were invited
to help themselves. All from far and near were wel-
come to the apples as long as they lasted. The first
apple sauce the writer ever remembers of eating, was
made from apples growm on these trees. It was mighty
At one time before he had any white neighbors,
Mr. Prince was bitten by a rattle snake. There w^as
no one to do anything for him. He rapidly grew worse.
The thought of dying alone where prowling w^olves
would come in and devour his body, leaving nothing to
tell the story of his tragic fate, was not a pleasant one.
He determined, while strength was still left him to do
so, to climb up on the roof of his cabin, out of the reach
of wolves and where some chance explorer or friendly
Indian seeing his body w^ould give him a decent burial.
After climbing on top of the cabin, he found that
elevating his foot relieved his pain. Thus he remained
until some passing Indians, seeing their white friend
in this peculiar position, stopped to make inquiries. On
learning the facts they took him down, applied the
remedies they used for snake bites and Mr. Prince soon
Mr. Prince raised large numbers of cattle and hogs
on his farm. One day, at a time when he had about
100 yoke of oxen, a gentleman stopped at the cabin
and wished to buy four yoke. Mr. Prince replied that
he had none to sell. ''I will give $500.00 for four yoke
of oxen." "I told you I had none to sell," returned
Mr. Prince, and the man was compelled to look else-
where for cattle. Soon after Mr. Prince learned that
a family in the neighborhood was short of provision.
He immediately selected a good beef from his herd,
butchered it and bountifully supplied the suffering
family with food. It was his habit, say his early asso-
ciates, to supply the poor in the vicinity with beef and
pork. An old settler who was personally acquainted
DANIEL PRINCE 7
with, and a near neighbor of Daniel Prince, told me
that he was as kind and good a neighbor as one could
wish for, and that no man in early days had done more
for the people of this place than did he.
While making no profession of religion himself,
Mr. Prince always allowed his wife to throw out the
latch string to any minister who came along, and open
their cabin for religious services. Not long since I
heard an account of one of these early meetings held
at the Prince home. The house w^as at that time a
double log with entry, a large fire place in one end,
a bed in the other. In the open space at the foot of the
bed, stood the preacher, the congregation occupying
the remaining space between bed and fire.
In the midst of the discourse when the minister had
waxed eloquent, the cloth drapery over the door was
pushed aside and Mr. Prince, who had been detained
looking after his stock which he never neglected,
entered, clad in buckskin clothes, quietly warmed him-
self by the fire, for it was cold, then gently rose up,
went to the bed, turned the covers back and jumped
in, buckskins and all, and covered himself up. The
minister, unheeding the interruption, w^ent on with his
sermon. When he had closed the meeting the neighbors
returned to their homes, glad to have had the privilege
of listening to a gospel sermon, and thanking Mr. Prince
for his hospitality, if he did think he could enjoy the
sermon better resting in bed. Much more of interest
might be told concerning this kind and brave man for
whom our grove, village and township have been
named, but enough has been said to prove that the
founder of the early settlement here was no mean
character, but one who justly deserves our profound
respect and one who should be held in grateful remem-
brance by all our younger citizens as well as the early
8 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
STEPHEN FRENCH AND FA^illLY.
Bv Mrs. J. E. Merritt, 1906.
The first man to move his family to Prince's Grove
was Stephen French, v^^ho came here from Fort Clark
in 1828 and settled on the land known as the Onias
Bliss farm, now owned by Emanuel Keller. He built a
cabin near where the Onias Bliss frame house now
stands. AYhen Stephen was away the wife Anna and
her little ones had for company wild Indians, wild
woods, wild wolves and wild cats. The original cabin
built by Mr. French stood until recent years and is, I
suppose, well remembered by many present.
Mr. French and his wife, like Mr. Prince, loved
pioneering, their son Mr. Dimmick French, being the
first white child bom in Peoria County. They had no
pronounced religious views but were hospitable to all
denominations alike. They were very kind hearted.
Mrs. French doing much in ministering to the sick,
and nursing wherever suffering among the early settlers
called her. At one time there was much sickness in
their neighborhood. Often when the dav's work was
done, she and Stephen would take their two little ones
and go to the sick neighbor's where she would spend
the night in caring for the sick one, her husband in
looking after the children. Mrs. French has often told
me stories of their early davs here. At one time she
invited the Indian women in the Grove to take supper
with her. She set her table as if for white guests.
When the red women were seated they looked in aston-
ishment at the knives and forks and then at each other.
Then they picked them up and minutely examined the
strange instruments. Laying them again carefully in
their places, the squaws fell to eating just like monkeys.
Many nights when Mr. French was away on busi-
ness she would look out and see the j^ellow glaring eyes
of the wolves prowling around the cabin. And they
were not prairie coyotes either, but tremendous black
STEPHEN FRENCH AND FAMILY 9
and gray wolves. You may be certain that Mistress
Anna did not let the children out of doors on these
occasions. She had no strong clapboard doors fastened
with chain and padlock, as Mr. Cutter has, but.
depended for safety in barricading the door of her
cabin where ordinarily only a quilt hung, with what-
ever available means she had, and in keeping a bright
fire constantly roaring in the huge fire-place.
In this little cabin several of the French children
were born, IMirandus, born March 9, 1832, being the
first white child native at Prince's Grove. There were
eleven children in all, but in 1848 some serious disease
developed among them and in a few Aveeks five promis-
ing children were laid to rest, some of them being
already grown. The family have proven very short
lived as a rule. Several of them died in their twenty-
Captain John French was the youngest boy of the
family. He enlisted in the early days of the Civil War,
and was in Sherman's famous March from Atlanta to
the Sea. He fought in the very last struggles on Cape
Fear River, where in March, 1865, a cruel bullet ended
his young and promising life. This seems especially
sad as this battle in which he lost his life was fought
after the surrender of Lee and after the war was vir-
tually ended. He died not knowing that the cause for
which he gave his life was alreadj^ successful, that
liberty, union and peace Avere triumphant. To remember
Captain French is to remember one of Princeville's
most promising and energetic young men.
In the year 1857 Mr. French bought a home in the
Village of Princeville and they moved from the little
cabin where they had experienced so many sorrows and
joys, to the new home where he and his wife spent the
remainder of their days.
None of the original members of the family are how
living, the name having become extinct. Of the grand-
children six are living. There are sixteen great-grand-
children and two great great-grandchildren. Mr. French
was one of the first magistrates elected in this place,
10 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
and filled offices of trust many times, and we feel that
both Stephen and Anna French filled their places in
life well and honorably.
(Mr. J. Z. Slane says that John French was killed
before Lee's surrender. He was mortally wounded on
March 16, 1865, and died early next morning. Lee
surrendered April 9, 1865.)
THE WILLIAM P. BLANCHARD FAMILY.
By Mrs. J. E. Merritt, 1906.
The next family that I am to write up is that of
William P. and Mary Blanchard. They did not settle
immediately at the Grove, but so near that it might be
termed in the suburbs. In the early thirties Mr.
Blanchard, finding his large family in need of a larger
scope for expansion, made an exploring expedition to
the West and North of where he was then living in
Lawrence County, Illinois, to which place they had
come from Kentucky in their early married life. On
this trip he visited Prince's Grove and vicinity. He
ventured prairie-ward, selecting a quarter-section of
land two miles west of the Prince farm, which he
afterward bought. To his mind there were already
about as many settlers here as the grove would supply
with fuel, little dreaming that the whole country con-
tained but a few feet below the surface, good coal
sufficient to supply fuel for all who would ever live in
it for generations to come. In 1835 he with his two
oldest boys, John and Marshal, started for the place
destined to be their future home. But the winter was
a very severe one. They were delayed on their way and
did not reach their destination until March, 1836. They
went into camp near the place now owned by Mr.
Wash. Mott and began industriously to prepare for
the family. Mr. Prince, ever ready to accommodate
new comers, rented them some land for wheat, corn,
potatoes and other vegetables. They endured many
THE WILLIAM P. BLANCHARD FAMILY 11
hardships, at one time being reduced to a diet of bran
bread, owing to the difficulty of getting grain ground.
But "Stick to it" was their motto and finally logs were
ready for building, rails for fencing, the vegetables
w^ere growing nicely, and Mr. Blanchard with the boys
turned his face Southward to fetch Polly and the
babies. As rapidly as possible he closed up his business
at home, took leave of old friends of long and pleasant
associations, who were assembled to see them off, and
again turned to the North. The sight of this caravan
of pilgrims bound for a new country would be an
interesting one today. The train was lead by a huge
Virginia schooner drawn by five yoke of oxen, John
driving. If that old Virginia wagon were here to-day
it would be a curiosity equal to the log cabin. It was
made of strong, heavy timber, so braced and fastened
together that it could scarce break if rolled down a
mountain side. The end gates were high, with sides
sloping toward the center; on each side of the bed was
a box for tools or other articles that might be needed
by the way; at the back was a large feed box. The
wagon was painted blue and covered with 25 yards of
linen spun and woven by Mrs. Blanchard and her
daughters. In this wagon was stored food to supply
the family for several months, two spinning wheels, a
large quantity of wool for carding, household goods of
various sorts, and Mrs. Blanchard and the small chil-
dren. Next came Mr. Blanchard driving the hogs and
sheep, assisted by three of the boys ; and in the rear
came the young ladies of the family mounted on horses,
driving the cattle and loose horses. If this caravan
should pass through the streets of our village to-day,
it would create more excitement than a procession of
In this order they slowly advanced until on June 16,
1836, they arrived at the camping ground. The first
work after arriving was to unload the Virginia
schooner, set it on blocks and convert it into a sleeping
room for six of the boys. It took the whole family to
lift it off the running gear. An old settler told me the
12 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
other day that same old Virginia schooner was the one
which took Daniel Prince and his family to Missouri.
The work of making the new home was vigorously
pushed b}^ the father and boys, and soon music different
from that of the birds in the tree-tops was heard in
the camp, — that of the busy spinning wheels, — for cloth
must be made for clothing for the entire family. And
if the young ladies wanted silk or fine Jackonette, or
any other finery for dresses, they must first make home
made cloth to exchange for the other. We must not
get an idea that our early pioneer girls had no love of
finery or the privilege of dressing nicely if they wished.
Almost every family gave their girls the privilege, after
the household had been supplied, of making cloth to
exchange for store goods, an opportunity which most
of them quickly improved.
Mr. and Mrs. Blanchard's familj^ were happy be-
cause they were busy. For four months they remained
in camp in White Oak. By that time a cabin of hewed
logs 16 X 16 feet had been built on the prairie land.
In October they struck camp and moved into the log
cabin. How this family of father, mother and eleven
children, four of them grown, managed to live in this
little cabin is hard to tell. But you may be sure the
family were all safely housed at night with the latch
string always out for any belated traveler, and there
were many such who were fearfully afraid of the
wolves, especially the Eastern people, unused to these
howling creatures. None were ever turned away, but
every one was made welcome to a good comforter and
a bed by the great log fire place, an invitation gladly
accepted by many a weary traveler.
In this little log cabin a little girl was born May 24,
1837, less than a year after Mr. and Mrs. Blanchard
had settled in Peoria County. Two other children were
born later, making fourteen in all. There are four of
these children still living. Of the descendants of Mr.
and Mrs. Blanchard there are living to-day, four chil-
dren, thirty-four grand-children, one hundred twenty-
seven great-grandchildren and thirty-one great great-
THE WILLIAM P. BLANCHARD FAMILY 13
grandchildren, two hundred in all, scattered all over
the United States, and some even as far away as India.
Mr. Blanchard was one of the first men elected to
the office of magistrate in this township. Although
coming from a slave state and a slave owner's family,
he was an old line Whig, and a staunch abolitionist,
taking his stand with the Republican party when that
party was organized. He and his wife were active
Christians and as soon as they were able to do so,
opened their doors for religious services, large congre-
gations from far and near often assembling in their
home to hear the gospel preached. All who wished to
remain for afternoon services were invited to do so and
were freely fed and made as comfortable as possible.
In the early fifties a family reunion was held on the
home farm. The fourteen children were all present,
the youngest being about four years old. Not once had
death entered their circle. In all there were about
fifty present. It was a day of gladness and feasting.
Soon after one of the boys went AVest in search of
gold, followed a year later by a younger brother. They
never returned. One found a grave at Olympia, Wash-
ington, the other at Astoria, Oregon.
In the fall of 1855 Mr. Blanchard bought a home
in the Village of Princeville and moved his family
there. Here he and his Avife lived until they exceeded
their golden wedding anniversary by three years. In
1868 Mrs. Blanchard died suddenly, followed a year
later by her husband who died after a protracted
illness, — and two more of Princeville 's pioneer settlers
had gone to their long rest.
All honor to the brave and noble men and women
who were not afraid to brave the dangers, endure the
hardships, deny themselves the comforts and associa-
tions of their early homes, that we, their descendants,
might have a broader scope, greater opportunities and
more freedom in a better country.
14 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
THE SLOAN FAMILY.
By S. S. Slane, 1906.
Jerome Sloan, son of John K. and Maria Sloan, was
born in Sloansville, New York, January 15, 1813. Mr.
Sloan's parents with their entire family left New York
for Peoria County in the fall of 1837, arriving at Peoria
in December of that year, having come by teams all of
the way. They stopped near Farmington until the
spring of 1839, when they moved to Princeville. They
occupied a cabin North of the Village on land owned
by a Mr. Riggs, until the spring of 1840, when they
removed to the farm now occupied by Mr. Sloan. Soon
after the father died. The family at that time con-
sisted of the mother, five sons and one daughter. The
eldest son, Ralph, was a noted artist of his time, being
a painter of portraits and landscapes. He died many
years since. Joseph lost his life through an accident
Avhile yet a j^oung man, Henry dying more recently.
Augustus D. went over-land to California at an early
date, dying a few years since in the village here. Emily,
the only daughter, married Nelson Burnham, of Farm-
ington, Fulton County, Illinois, who died last winter
in the city of Peoria.
Mr. Jerome Sloan married Miss Charlotte Barnes in
1860. To them were born eleven children, nine sons
and two daughters. He has passed through the hard-
ships and privations of pioneer life, and has by industry
and economy accumulated sufficient of this world's
goods to enable him to pass the remainder of his daj^s
in comfort and ease. While he has never been con-
nected with any of the religious associations of this
community, he has very decided views of his own on
these matters. Mr. Sloan at this time is in the enjoy-
ment of most excellent health, being able to walk to and
from the village from his home without any assistance,
which at his age of ninety-three years is quite remark-
THE MORROW FAMILY 15
THE MORROW FAMILY.
By S. S. Slane, 1906.
Hugh Morrow was born on Section 7 in Akron
Township, on April 14, 1832. In the year 1838 his par-
ents removed to Section 20 of Akron Township, where
he has lived ever since, a period of 68 years. Mr. Mor-
row's parents, Thomas Morrow and Eleanor Morrow,
came from Park County, Indiana, to Peoria County,
Illinois, in the early part of the year 1832 and settled
on Section 7, Akron Township. With Mr. Thomas Mor-
row came his parents, John Morrow, Sr., and Jane
Morrow; also four brothers and two sisters, James,
John Jr., William, Josiah, Elizabeth, who became the
wife of Daniel Prince, the pioneer settler of this place,
for whom the Township, the Village and the Grove were
named, and Jane, the wife of Samuel R. White, an early
settler of Princeville Township. John Morrow, Sr.,
owned and improved a part of the farm recently sold
by Mr. Charles Taylor, South of the Village. He died
soon after and was buried in the old Cemetery South
of the Village of Princeville, long since abandoned.
Mrs. Jane Morrow and son Jolin in company with Mr.
Prince and family, moved from this vicinity to the
State of Missouri in the fall of 1839, where they have
long since been numbered with the dead. Mr. Josiah
Morrow moved to Iowa in 1840, having improved a part
of the estate owned at this time by the heirs of the
late Austin Bouton. Mr. Morrow died January 5, 1899,
at the age of eighty. Mr. James Morrow improved the
farm now owned by Mr. Elijah Tracy and others, a
part being included in the village corporation. He sold
out and moved to Washington County, Iowa, in the
year 1854, where he died well advanced in age, and
respected by all who knew him. Mr. William Morrow
improved the farm now owned by Frank Debord, which
he sold in 1872, moving to Andrew County, Missouri,
where he died. Mr. Thomas Morrow, father of Hugh
16 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
Morrow, died in 1848, leaving his wife and a family of
ten children, eight sons and two daughters.
Mr. Hugh Morrow has the distinction of being the
first white child born in Akron Township, also of
having lived a greater number of years on the same
section than any other resident of the ToA^Tiship. Hugh
Morrow (son of Thomas Morrow), Samuel Morro>\' (son
of William Morrow^ and William and Mary Ann White
(son and daughter of Mrs. Jane Morrow White), are the
only representatives of this large family now living in
THE JOHN SMITH FAMILY OF NORTHWEST
By Miss Mary J. Smith, 1906.
Miss Jane Payne was born August 16, 1825, near
Hillsville, Carroll county, Virginia. When about six-
teen years of age she came West to Illinois and settled
on Section 7 in Princeville ToA\Tiship, where she re-
sided until the fall of 1890, then becoming a resident
of the Village of Princeville.
Her parents, Walter and Rachel Payne, had come
up from North Carolina and settled in that part of Vir-
ginia when it was a new country, and wild turkey, deer
and black bear inhabited the Blue Ridge Movmtains,
near which they lived. Grand father Payne was a gun-
smith by trade ; he also did blacksmith work, both of
which trades were very useful to the community in
those days when almost everything in those lines was
wrought out by hand. Pie was also a great hunter and
loved to tell of his hunting adventures, how straight he
could shoot, and of hoAv much game he killed with the
first pound of powder he ever had bought for him :
sixty wild turkeys, tAVO deer and one bear. Grand-
mother Payne also could handle a gun. One day a
large blue winged hawk was after lier chickens and she
THE JOHN SMITH FAMILY OF NORTHWEST PRINCEVILLE 17
took down grandfather's gun and went after the hawk
and shot it.
In those days the pioneer women were not nervous,
they were equal to any emergency. They could kill a
snake, shoot a hawk or kill a bear, like Betsey Bobbitt
did. Iler brother. Uncle Abram Cooley, had come
West to Illinois, and had gone back to Virginia to settle
up an estate, and told what a fine country this was, and
gave such a glowing account of this rich black prairie
soil, that Uncle Ben Cooley said that he didn't believe
the Almighty ever made such a difference in countries
as he described.
Anyway Grandfather and Grandmother decided to
become pioneers once more, and cast their lot in the
Sucker State this time, and in September, 1842, in com-
pany with other friends and relatives to the number of
twenty-seven, they started "West" in prairie schooners.
Of that goodly number they have ''gathered homeward
one by one," until Mrs. Smith now is the only one left
to ford the Kiver.
They were six weeks on the road, traveling by day
and camping out nights, sleeping in the wagons or
under a tent cloth. Sometimes if it rained the w^omen
and children were sheltered in the homes, which in
those days were very hospitably inclined.
In those days the opportunities for receiving an edu-
cation were very different from now. J\Iiss Jane had
an opportunity to go to Rochester and live with a kind
lady and go to school, but fidelity to her mother who
was in feeble health, caused her to decide otherwise and
miss the opportunity. Surely the promise has been
verified in her case, for the Lord hath said, "Honor thy
father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon
the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."
Her husband, John Smith, was born in Rutherglen,
Lanarksliire, Scotland, December 14, 1822. He re-
moved with his parents to Glasgow when between three
and four years of age, and was educated at Mr. Mc-
Ewen's school in the Barony parish, receiving many
18 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
prizes from the principal, the Rev. McFarland, minister
in the High Church of Glasgow.
After leaving school he spent a few years as clerk
in a book store, where he acquired a taste for reading
which lasted through life. He also worked for a short
time in a factory as dresser. He came to America in
1841, and settled in Princeville Township in 1844 as a
farmer, where he resided until his death, the 27th of
It was here he met his "Bonnie Jean" of w^hom he
sung in the Scottish melody so quaintly sweet. In the
flowery month of May he was married to Miss Jane
Payne hy the side of the log cabin home, under two
great spreading oak trees. May 18, 1848. Rev. Robt.
Breese, whose narrow home is now in the Princeville
cemetery where the weeping willow waves, spoke the
mystic words that united their lives until death did
them part. To them were born eight children : Isa-
bella. Rachel, John, "Walter, Mary J., Margaret A.,
\Yilliam W., and Lizzie S.
For more than sixteen years, his children and grand-
children have missed his fatherly counsel, but the com-
panion who journeyed by his side for forty-two years,
has missed him most. And as the boatman, with his
noiseless oars, comes to row us one by one over the re-
sistless tide, we trust that only the ripples may come
and go, as she crosses the bar that separates her from
that great company of loved ones who have already
crossed the tide, and hear the Welcome Home.*
Grandfather Smith was born at Rutherglen, near
Glasgow, Scotland, about the year 1789, and died at his
home near Princeville, 111., March 27, 1852, aged 63
years. His name was John, that being the name of the
oldest son in each family for more than two hundred
years previously. Grandmother Smith, whose maiden
name was Margaret White, died in Scotland leaving
four small children. Afterward he married Bethia
Mrs. Jane Payne-Smith died January 30, 1912.
THE JOHN SMITH FAMILY OF NORTHWEST PRINCEVILLE 19
Eura, who was born at Rutherglen also, in 1798, and
died at her home near Princeville, October 24, 1876,
aged 78 years.
They emigrated to America in the fall of 1842, and
landed at New Orleans after being nine weeks on the
ocean voyage. A fearful hurricane off the Gulf of
Mexico drove the vessel back 300 miles and prolonged
the voyage. They thought, for a time, the vessel with
all on board would find a watery grave, but a kind
Providence spared their lives and they reached their
destination, America. They stayed in New Orleans a
short time and then came to St. Louis, Mo., with their
family consisting of the following children : Margaret,
Isabella, Robert, Jannet, Archj Jiald and David. After
remaining in St. Louis about two years, they came to
Princeville Township in the spring of 1844. The oldest
son, John, who had come to America about a year pre-
viously, came from Canada to visit them soon after
their arrival. It was to be with him as well as to better
their condition that the family had come to America.
Grandfather Smith enlisted in the Peninsular w^ar
when quite a young man (war between England and
France and their allied powers, the Duke of Wellington
and Napoleon Bonaparte commanding the respective
sides). He was in the army about nine years, and his
time expired about three weeks before the battle of
Waterloo. He was wounded in battle, once lying on
the battle-field three or four days before he could get
away, and saw the hardships of army life. At times
they were so reduced in rations as to be glad to get the
corn that was fed to the horses.
Grandfather was a man of deeply pious and re-
ligious temperament, and administered to the spiritual
needs of many of the early settlers far and near. He
was in the habit of gathering his family around him
night and morning for family worship, and died, as he
had lived, trusting in the living God.
Grandmother Smith was a strong woman physically.
She washed in the early days to help along, and walked
and carried one of her grandchildren from Peoria to
20 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
their home in Princeville Township, a distance of 27
miles. She was the mother of eight children, five of
whom died in Scotland. She also was a woman with
strong convictions of right, and the winter's earliest
recollection of her was of seeing her seated at a table
near a window, knitting, with her open Bible before
her, sometimes reading aloud from the word of God.
Coming here as they did in the early days, they knew
the hardships and privations of pioneer life, but by per-
severing industry accumulated a comfortable amount
of this world's goods and blazed the way for their pos-
terity. They are entitled to our reverence and sin-
cerest gratitude and respect.
THE SLANE FA]\IILY.
By Edward Auten, 1906.
Benjamin Slane was born in Chester, Frederic
County, Virginia, in 1798. He married Delilah Cheshire,
of Hampshire County, in 1824. She was an excellent
woman, and the mother of six children, viz. : Benja-
min F. (commonly called Frank), John Z., Elizabeth
A., Delilah J., Samuel S. and James T. Slane.
In that same Virginia community were tw^o other
families, those of Jonathan Nixon and William Nixon,
forming with Mr, Slane 's family a little group bound
together by ties of relationship (even though Jonathan
and William Nixon were not related) and common good
will and interests.
In 1830 Mr. Slane moved his family, then consisting
of three children, John, Frank and Elizabeth, to Ohio,
where the Nixons had already preceded him. But be-
fore leaving Virginia he had decided to come event-
ually to Fort Clark, now Peoria, and in 1831 he, to-
gether with the Nixons, made their way to the Ohio
River at Marietta, where they procured a "keel" boat,
flat and square, and shaped like a box car, and floated
on it to Cincinnati. Here they abandoned the keel boat
THE SLANE FAMILY 21
and changed to the steamboat "Don Juan," a tub of a
boat with a big name. The children and women were
much awed by the noise and racket, the excitement of
changing at night, the profanity of the boat's crew,
the first they had heard, and the haste to be off to the
next stop, Louisville. Changing boats again here, they
reached St. Louis in good time. From St. Louis to
Fort Clark they had as traveling companions eighteen
big burley Indians, wearing blankets and provided
with big iron kettles. These were the first Indians any
of the party had ever seen, and of them the women and
children were very much afraid.
There were no stoves in those davs, and so on the
deck of the boat a place was provided to build a fire
and cook the meals. The Indians were always the first
to cook breakfast which consisted of a big kettle of
corn meal into which they threw chunks of meat, the
whole giving off an odor anything but savory to a white
The steamer proceeded slowly up the Illinois River,
stopping now and then at 'Svoodyards" along the
banks to lay in a supply of wood — the only fuel known
at that time.
On November 4th, 1831, a beautiful autumn day,
they landed at Fort Clark, and as they clambered up
the bank ''there probably was never a more homesick
band of women and children than this one," and prob-
ably a few of the men were at least slightly affected.
Quarters were procured in a double log cabin and all
went there. William Nixon got a separate cabin soon,
but Jonathan and Mr. Slane lived there with their fam-
ilies until the next summer, and a "cold, dirty, thank-
less cabin it was, but as good as the average." It was
situated on the river side of Water street and not more
than a stone's throw from the present City Depot, and
diagonally opposite the Indian headquarters. They
lived in Peoria for two years; Mr. Slane and a Mr.
Craig cut and salted hogs for one Martin in the winter
23 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
Mr. Slane moved in March, 1833, to Section 27 in
Richwoods Township, where he had built a cabin the
winter before. Two years later he sold his claim to
Smith Frye for $200.00, moving in April of 1835 to
Rosefield to a new claim on the Ejioxville road, then
Big Hollow was so steep they locked the wheels to-
gether, and all got out and walked, Mrs, Slane carrying
the present President of our Old Settlers' Union in her
arms, he being then a babe of less than a year old.
They passed through the Village of Kickapoo, com-
prising one house and one log stable, of which John
Coyle, a brother of Mrs. Asa Beall, was sole proprietor.
Mrs. Slane, in the prime of life, when most needed
by her children, died at the age of 39 in 1839, and her
death was a great affliction to Mr. Slane. He never
married again, but with a sad heart and a resolute will
entered upon the difficult duties of raising and educat-
ing in these pioneer times his children, a task most men
would have shrunk from, but he did not. Elizabeth
Nixon, wife of Jonathan, neighbor to Mr. Slane at this
time and afterwards when they moved to Princeville,
became almost a second mother to his children, v/ho
even now bear in grateful memory her care of them at
William Nixon, who had moved to Tazewell from
Peoria, crossed the river once more and lived in Rose-
field several years, then went back to Tazewell again,
and still later settled down at Elmwood where he ran
the first hotel. He died there in 1858.
In 1840 Mr. Slane and Jonathan Nixon moved to
Princeville. Mr. Slane purchased Block 20 of Mr.
Stevens and moved into a log cabin standing in the cen-
ter of it. The first year in Princeville was very hard —
"So hard I often think it would do the young people of
the present generation good to live as we did for just
In 1845, brothers Frank and John started a
lime kiln in the southeast corner of Section 24, Prince-
ville Township, about sixty rods west of the east section
THE SLAXE FAMILY 23
line. This was the only lime kiln for miles around and
drew trade from points as distant as AVeathersfield,
Galva, Rochester, Brimfield, Lawn Ridge and Chilli-
eothe. They chopped and split the wood in the winter
themselves and in the summer burat the lime, occasion-
ally having to hire an extra man to quarry stone. They
continued in this business for nine years. Shortly after
they quit, lime began to be shipped in, so that their
business would have been gone from them had they
In 1846 Mr. Benjamin Slane purchased an acre
tract east of his log cabin, in Akron, and built a frame
house, where he moved. Later he bought the acre
north of it, extending to the north section line. This is
in the vicinity of the present Hitchcock pond. These
two acres he occupied as his homestead until November
22, 1865, when he moved to the southeast quarter of
Section 23, where Mr. Thos. Slane now lives. Here
Mr. Slane lived until his death on April 29, 1875. At
one time he knew every man in the county. He never
sought office, but the people, having faith in his in-
tegrity, kept him justice of the peace for twelve years,
and supervisor six years. He made a good justice. He
carefully considered the cases he had to decide, and as
near as we can learn, not one of his decisions has been
reversed by the higher courts. He always advised
litigants to settle, and every three out of five cases pre-
sented to him were settled before trial. He aided in
the promotion of educational interests, and has been a
school official. He aided in public improvements, when
a benefit to the town. When he arrived at Fort Clark
he had just one picayune in his pocket. By his own
personal efforts he soon acquired money enough to pur-
chase land. His life was a busy and eventful one. He
was ever a friend to the cause of humanity, freedom of
thought and speech, charitable to all, with malice to-
wards none; ever loving the right, because of its jus-
tice; ever hating wrong because of his knowledge of its
pernicious influences on the destinies of mankind.
24 HISTORY AXD REMINISCENCES
Mrs. Elizabeth Nixon died at Red Oak, Iowa, April
20, 1884, and her remains were brought to Cambridge,
Illinois, and interred in the cemeterj^ at that place by
the side of her husband, Jonathan Nixon. She left one
child, Mrs. M. H. Hewitt, with whom she lived at the
time of her death. Mr. Hewitt was a lawyer, first at
Toulon, then at Cambridge, and later he moved to Red
Oak, Iowa, where he was elected Circuit Judge.
Of the children of Mr. Slane, Benjamin F. died
eleven years ago, the father of six children, viz. : Ida,
now dead nine years, Odillon, Oliver. Edgar, Elgie and
Samuel S. and Elizabeth A. Slane have never mar-
Delilah J. in 1854 married William E. Root. They
moved to Nebraska, residing at present at Fairbury,
James T. married Margaret Green in September,
1860. To them was born one daughter, Eva.
John Z. Slane enlisted on August 9, 1862, in Capt.
French's company, Co. K. Eighty-sixth Illinois Volun-
teer Infantry, and served until the close of the war.
He did hospital duty twice and in the spring of 1864
was sent home for a few months to recover from severe
illness contracted from exposure near Knoxville, Tenn.
In March, 1867, he was married to Mary Patton, a niece
of Dr. R. F. Henry, and to them were born four chil-
dren, Wilber P., Elzada V., and two w^ho died in in-
Unlike many families, the children of Benjamin
Slane have not scattered. Save for the one daughter
now residing in Nebraska, all of them have remained
in this community, without exception honest and up-
right in business, deserving success and obtaining it,
and respected by all who know them.
WILLIAM C. STEVEN'S, THE FOUiVDER OF PRIxXCEVILEE 25
WILLIAM C. STEVENS, THE FOUNDER OP
By Mrs. Mary E. Moody and Mrs. Hannah G. Ilutchins,
Perhaps it will be interesting to the members of
our organization to know somewhat of the early life
and history of the founder of our little village as going
to show how the training of the boy shapes the char-
acter of the man. William Chase Stevens was born at
Plainfield, N. IL, in May, 1797. There on a rocky New
England farm in sight of the perpetually snow clad
Mt. Croyden, he passed the first seven years of his life.
Gifted with a remarkably retentive memory he often
told his children of incidents that occurred in those
early and trying days, for New Hampshire at that time
was but a new and sparsely settled state. Among
others, one extremely cold and snowy winter when
the snow had lain for weeks five feet deep on the level,
the roads were impassable and the wild deer and birds
almost exterminated by the cold ; as the snow began to
melt off toward spring, the big, gray, half-starved
w^olves came down from the mountains in packs, de-
vouring in their ravenous hunger all domestic animals
that were not well housed.
One sunny day at this time, his father turned out
their one cow to stand for the first time in many weeks
in the sunshine on the south side of the barn where the
snow had been cleared off for a small space. On com-
ing to the house for a bucket of water (they had to
melt snow for all water for stock as well as for them-
selves) a pack of wolves came after the cow, and she
ran bellowing toward the house, but the wolves got her,
five springing on her at one time, killing and de-
vouring her before their eyes, though the old Hint lock
did good service in the process.
The faithful dog had fallen a pre}^ long since, while
the father with dog and gun was trying to protect his
sheep from the voracious wolves. Mr. Stevens remem-
26 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
bered hearing his mother exclaim as the cow went
down, "Oh, what will my poor children do now," as
the cow had contributed largely to their support dur-
ing that terrible winter. This is only one of many in-
cidents in the life of that sturdy New England boy.
In 1804 that irreparable loss (especially to a boy)
came to him — his father died of pneumonia after an
illness of only four days, leaving a widow with six
young children on a rocky farm not wholly paid for.
The widow (who some of you might be interested to
know was a cousin of Bishop Philander Chase, founder
of Jubilee College, and also of Kenyon College, Ohio,)
finding it impossible to finish paying for the farm and
raise her children, sold it, paid all debts and moved
onto a much smaller farm in Cornish near the Con-
necticut River. Here, by the most economical man-
agement and incessant industry of all the family, they
wrung from that little, hard New England farm, not
only a good living, but means to give her family good
school and church privileges and also to help others
when needed, though the latter was always at great
sacrifice. Thus was the boy's sturdy character being
formed as well as his sturdy physique.
He went to district school winters, studying at home
evenings and reciting to his older sisters, keeping them
diligently studying as one of them said, to answer his
many questions. At the age of 12 years he entered
Meriden Academy, attending winters and working on
his mother's farm in summer. During the winter he
stayed at the home of his mother's cousin. Judge Short,
paying his board by taking care of the horse and cow
and cutting the wood for three, sometimes four fires, all
the time studying evenings.
Thus in four years he finished his academy course
with honor and returned to work on the farm. But he
was uneasy, he wanted to go to college and his mother
needed him at home. The occasional peep into his
cousin's law books and library proved an inspiration
to him and he longed to know more. There was so
WILLIAM C. STEVENS, THE FOUNDER OF PRINCEVILLE 27
mneh to learn that he felt he could not content himself
working: from sunrise to sunset on the farm.
Gradually the mother learned of his ambition and
said, ''Well, William, I guess your sisters and I will
have to buckle in and send you to college and you can
still help in summer in haying, Elizabeth has her cer-
tificate and can teach school now — I will make the but-
ter and cheese and help your other sisters in the spin-
ning and weaving — we must manage some way to send
you to college." His reply was, "Oh, mother! I don't
want you to send me — if I could only have my time I
can do all the rest and help in haying too" — and he did.
So the boy of seventeen, thirsting for knowledge, full
of pluck and energy, hating idleness, taught school be-
cause he could earn more money that way and have
more time for study and besides read law in the sum-
mer with his cousin, Judge Short. But he did not for-
get to redeem his promise to his mother of helping her
in haying, by hiring a good man to work in his place,
with her consent.
It was an inflexible law with this good mother that
everyone should keep his word, no matter at what sac-
rifice. The promise made or word given must not be
broken. This was another lesson in life early and per-
sistently taught by that mother and adhered to by her
son through a long life.
,By such self-sacrificing and persevering industry his
course of study was completed and he had managed
also to read a good deal of law. He was sent on a long
horseback journey to Western New York to settle an
estate and this done he taught for some time in Penn-
sylvania. In 1823 he turned his face southward where
it was rumored were great opportunities for young men.
He taught for a time in Virginia and later was ad-
mitted to the bar at Richmond, and afterwards in
North Carolina. Finding the bar at Richmond well
filled with distinguished legal lights and ambitious
young southern politicians, he thought best for a young
man who had his own fortune to make, to leave the
charming circle where ease and refinement abounded
28 HISTORY AND REMIXISCEXCES
and where he had been treated with all kindness and
courtesy. So he located at Amelia Court House, estab-
lishing there a good practice which soon extended to the
In 1827 he married a cultured young southern lady
of Quaker parentage and after a time removed to Ashe-
ville, N. C, where he became preceptor of a flourishing
academy, doing, as he said, some of the best work of
his life as an instructor of youth — work that he could
look back upon in after years with great gratification —
work that proved to be of far-reaching and lasting
benefit in that community. After spending several
pleasant and profitable years at Asheville, and having
now a young family, he became convinced that it was
not right to bring up his children in a slave-holding
community. He was a man of strong convictions and
under any and every circumstance or condition, he
lived up to those convictions. He was convinced that
slavery was wrong in itself and that its influence on
the white people was not for their improvement, there-
fore he would have none of it. With many induce-
ments to remain in the South, easy life, good position,
his love of the kindly, refined and hospitable people, his
decision was unalterable : his children should not be
brought up in contact with human slavery. So, not-
withstanding the entreaties of friends, the home was
disposed of and loading their necessary belongings into
a two-horse, oil-cloth covered wagon, he with his brave
wife and three little children started on their long
journey to Illinois in February, 1834.
Hearing much about this time of the beauty and
productiveness of this new state, of its broad and fer-
til prairies all cleared and waiting for the plow, he
had corresponded with his unmarried brother, Amos,
then teaching in Louisiana, who like himself had heard
of the fame of the Illinois prairies and responded to
the call. It was arranged that Amos should precede
AVilliam to Illinois, select a location and have ready on
their arrival as comfortable a house as possible.
WILLIAM C. STEVENS, THE FOUNDER 01- PRINCEVILLE 29
He came up the Mississippi River to St. Louis,
thence by horseback to Peoria, as the brothers had
agreed to make that their postoffice address and meet-
ing place. He found Peoria a hamlet of three or four
families and no idle men that could be hired as help"
or guide. A Mr. Ewalt who had come into Peoria with
an ox team from French Grove, acted as guide and
gave advice as to the necessary proceedings for the
erection of a cabin.
Amos located at the forks of the Kickapoo, the tract
of land selected having both prairie and some good tim-
ber. Preparations for building proceeded without de-
lay. Alone, he cut down trees and trimmed and snaked
up hill with his one horse the logs for the cabin, lying
at night on the ground, his horse picketed near, and
faithful dog his only companions.
On the night of the third day during a fearful thun-
derstorm, his horse Avas killed by lightning, and Amos
not returning to Peoria on Tuesday of the next week, as
he intended, Mr. Charles Kettelle rode out the sixteen
miles to see if harm had befallen him. Amos Stevens said
there was never a more welcome sight to the ship-
wrecked mariner, than that friend as he came around
the bend of the creek just at the going down of the
sun. He had worked there eight days without seeing
a human being, his slumbers disturbed at night by the
howling of wolves, being obliged to keep fires burning
to scare them away. With some help from ]\[r. Ket-
telle and the nearest neighbor, who lived nine miles
away, the cabin was at last up, with chimney of mud
and sticks at one end and openings for door and win-
dows, no floor as yet.
This first home of Mr. Stevens was at the forks of
the Kickapoo sixteen miles from Peoria and two or
three miles nearly south from the present site of Jubi-
lee College. To this crude, unfinished cabin he brought
his family after a weary journey of more than three
months, and here in this wild, unsettled new country
they began their new life, a life of unknown hardships,
privations and dangers.
30 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
They straightway set about making the cabin more
comfortable, but before it was completed, a hard rain
coming on in the night showed them how unreliable
was a roof through which you could count the stars,
and openings for door and windows without either,
and walls of logs with no plaster between. It was
difftcult to provide comfortable food with no cow, no
chickens or eggs, no vegetables and no fruit, save a
few wild strawberries which seemed like manna from
heaven. Soon other settlers began to come in — the first
one, David Combs, a bachelor, who proved a good neigh-
bor. Soon after came James Harrison with wife and two
little boys, John and Robert. Comforts were added
to the primitive home as fast as possible, Mr. Stevens
one day bringing home a new cupboard, and in it an
old hen and her thirteen newly hatched chickens, which
after much persuasion and many tempting offers he
succeeded in buying He rode long distances at differ-
ent times to purchase a cow that his family might be
supplied with milk and butter, luxuries that were im-
possible to procure at any price. Crops were coming
on finely and giving promise of a good yield, and things
generally looked more encouraging, when everything
was changed by the death of his wife.
The pioneer life of this heroic wife and mother
ended amid these strange and rude home surroundings,
far from relatives and friends and the home of her girl-
hood where she had lived a life of ease and luxury.
Her eyes had greeted the face of but one woman since
her arrival, that of Mrs. James Harrison. During the
sad weeks that foUoAved, Mr. Stevens was confined
closely caring for his very sick children and before they
were wholly well, he fell sick himself.
At this time came what he always thought the Prov-
idential visit of Mr. Benjamin Slane and wife, the
father and mother of our President, who had just set-
tled a mile or two down the creek. Having heard of
the sick, motherless children, they came to see if they
could render any assistance. Finding Mr. Stevens
prostrated with a high fever, wholly unable to sit up,
WILLIAM C. STEVENS, THE FOUNDER OF PRINCEVILLE 31
they immediately set to work to make them more com-
fortable. Quickly as possible they killed and cooked
a chicken for broth for the sick man, carefully showing
the little six-year-old Mary how to dress and cut up a
chicken, also showing her how to make and bake bis-
cuit, thinking that the father might be a long time sick
with no one more competent to cook. Mr. Slane hast-
ened out to care for the horses and to start David
Combs to Peoria for the doctor. That was a visit of
mercy gratefully remembered.
As to Mr. Stevens' first impressions of the site of
our village, we will quote his own words from a news-
paper interview published in the Peoria Journal in De-
cember, 1884. He said: ^^n the fall of 18 34 I was
driving along through this part of the "cOUlitry with a
view of selecting a future home. About a mile west
of this place, on a clear, beautiful day, I was driving
my team slowly, looking here and there at the land-
' ' IVhon my eye fell upon this present site of Prince-
ville, I said to myself, 'What a beautiful site' — situ-
ated as it was between two belts of timber, and ad-
mirably adapted to the needs of the early settlers.
They will come here and want to build a town, will
need stores, shops, meeting-houses, etc.
''The determination to own it took possession of
me. Upon inquiry I was informed by Squire French
that Governor Duncan had the title of it. I looked up
Governor Duncan who lived at Jacksonville and pur-
chased his right and interest in the property, in 1836.
The south boundary of this quarter-section is now
known here as Canton street, and as I wanted to lay out
a town extending farther south, I tried to find the
owners of that also, to buy it. After some difficulty I
found them at Carthage and Rushville in this state.
They had only a nominal title and refused to part with
it unless I would make them partners in the enterprise.
This I consented to do. Their names do not appear as
owners in the town site but they were interested. On
April 4, 1837, we laid out the town. Phillips was county
32 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
surveyor at the time and his deputy, George W. Mc-
Fadden did the Avork. When I came I found here
Daniel Prince, after whom the groves nearby were
called. He had been here many years among the In-
dians and was an old frontiersman.^
There was at that time quite a settlement in and
around the two groves. Stephen French had settled
there some time before ; there were a number of ^lor-
rows from Indiana, Mrs. Jane Morrow and her four
sons, two with families, Thomas, James, William and
John. Her daughter Bettie had married Daniel Prince.
Doctor Watters and a widowed sister of Mrs. Jane
Morrow, were all settled on their owm farms, building
in the edge of the timber. Mrs. Jane Morrow lived in
a large hewed double log house with a porch the whole
length of the house. This house was the palace of the
neighborhood. There preaching was held, for these
Morrows were godly people and had already organized
a church, had preaching occasionally and soon hired a
Mr. Babbitt to preach for them, Avho lived in a little
cabin north of the grove where George I. McGinnis, Sr.,
lived later. Previous to this, in 1835, Mr. Stevens was
again married to a lady from Massachusetts who was
keeping school in Bureau County, and had removed
his family from the Kickapoo cabin to Prince's Grove.
Not long after this, realizing that the education of
the children was being neglected, a few fathers came
together, talked the matter over, and built the log
school house. At first it was merely a wall of logs with
roof and openings for door and windows, and a dirt
floor. The seats were of puncheons with two holes in
the ends and sticks stuck in for legs (Miss Esther Stod-
dard taught the summer school, a short term attended
onl}^ by the very little children, as the older boys and
girls could not be spared during the summer — the for-
mer must Avork in the fields and the girls, too, when
not preparing wool, carding, spinning and weaving).
The first winter there were over thirty scholars, many
nearly grown. Some came three or four miles, start-
ing before daylight to get there before school was
WILLIAM C. STEVENS, THE FOUNDER OF PKINCEVILLE 33
called. This school house was used as a church from
the first for all denominations, making appointments
so that they should not interfere. It was also the vot-
ing place at elections and for a number of years filled
an important place in the community. Many of our
prominent citizens whose education was mostly or
wholly obtained there, have passed away.
Before this was built, Mrs. Morrow, Mr. Stevens
and some others opened their cabins for religious serv-
ices whenever a preacher could be secured. Mr.
Stevens' home was a well known stopping place for
preachers of all creeds, and if one could be induced to
stay over two nights, he would get on his horse and
ride around notifying people there would be preaching
at his house tonight, asking all to come.
Hospitality was a virtue always practiced by the
generous-hearted pioneers and Mr. Stevens was no ex-
ception. The poor man moving through the country
with a tired wife and family of children was fed,
warmed and sheltered, even if it meant great personal
discomfort. He always held that hospitality depend-
ing on a person's convenience was not worthy the
name. Some notables were among the wayfarers. Gov-
ernor Duncan often stayed over night in the cabin.
Bishop Chase made the home his headquarters when
in the vicinity.
One evening just after sunset, five men on horse-
back rode up and one said, "We have been in the sad-
dle since early morning and are cold, tired and hungry.
We were told that we would get accommodations if we
got to your place." He replied, "It is only a little
cabin," but took the oldest of the men into the house
and told his wife about the other four. After the old
man got off his overcoat and turned to the blazing fire-
place, she took the first good look at him and he at
her. There was mutual and joyful recognition. It
was Father Dickey with whom she had boarded when
teaching school in Bureau County before her marriage.
His traveling companions were surprised to find the old
34 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
man Avith a cup of coffee and a doughnut, talking most
sociably "vvith the pleased looking lady of the house.
These men were returning from an important
church meeting at Lewisto\ATi : Father Dickey, the
venerable minister, his son Lyle Dickey (later Judge
Dickey of Ottawa), Elder Eli Smith, John Bryant
(brother of William Cullen Bryant, the poet), and
Owen Love joy, all of Bureau County.
Four of the men slept in two beds, the mother and
children in one bed and trundle bed, while Owen Love-
joy and Mr. Stevens lay on a buffalo robe before the
fire. After an early breakfast they were started on
their way rejoicing, each man with a carefully done up
lunch in his overcoat pocket.
It was not an uncommon thing in those days for Mr.
Stevens to go twelve, twenty, thirty or forty miles to
mill — go with oxen and get mired down, have to carry
the grist across the slough on his back, get the oxen
and wagon out the best way he could, load up and go
on. Nature furnished plenty of wild fruits, berries of
all kinds, plums and crab apples, but our pioneer had
to give two bushels of good wheat for one gallon of
molasses for the children to eat on bread and pancakes.
When wheat was 25 cents a bushel, it took a bushel of
wheat to pay the postage on a letter. For hundreds of
bushels of good wheat hauled to Peoria he got but 30
cents per bushel — later hauling wheat to Chicago and
getting 50 cents, bringing back lumber, laths and all
supplies. For corn in the ear they got 7 cents — almost
no market for potatoes.
Soon after locating in Princeville Mr. Stevens set
out an orchard and began preparations for building his
frame house. The heavy timbers for the frame of this
were hewed in the timber and the siding was sawed
from the black walnut logs, hauled by oxen to Prince's
mill on Spoon River. The flooring was also sawed
from ash and oak logs at the same mill. The family
moved into the house in 1839 and lived there for two
years before it was plastered. Part of the materials
for plastering were brought from Chicago, but as Mr.
VVILUAM C. STE\^NS, THE FOUNDER OF PRIXCEVILLE 35
Cobiirn wanted to get his hotel in shape for business,
Mr. Stevens let him have it. The next supply went to
complete plastering the church. As Mrs. Stevens said,
it would help more people that way.
From the first a liberal plan was pursued to induce
those who would make desirable citizens to locate here,
offering a lot of their ow^n selection to build on to the
first storekeeper; also to artisans of any kind. The
first store was kept by a young man, Elisha Morrow.
He not only got the lot, but Mr. Stevens cut and hauled
for siding black walnut logs to Prince's sawmill on
Spoon River. The water was too low to run the saw
except a little while mornings. - As w^as customary in
those days all the men in the neighborhood were asked
to come to the raising, and the dinner on this occasion,
a good and bountiful one, was furnished by Mr. Stevens.
He neglected, however, to pass around the demijohn,
which was a very unusual and unpopular omission on
such an occasion. He substituted for this hot coffee.
The store completed, some boards supported by the
sugar barrel at one end and the salt barrel at the other,
did service as a counter. There was not a very large
assortment of dry goods, though quite enough for the
place and time. Nails, coffee, molasses, a little tea and
sugar, files for the prairie plow^, powder and shot and
tobacco, were the principal articles needed in those
days, as every woman spun, wove and made the cloth-
ing for her own family. Young Morrow kept store
about four years, but trade w^as not rushing enough to
suit him. He came a beardless boy of seventeen with
a capital of less than $200.00 and went away four years
later with $2,000.00. He was afterwards senator from
Wisconsin and worth half a million dollars.
Ebenezer Russell, the first blacksmith, got a lot on
which to erect his shop ; a lot was given to William
Coburn on wiiich he built and kept a hotel. Lots were
given to the Presbyterian, Methodist and Christian
churches, the stone school house and others.
The brick oven built in Mr, Stevens' new frame
house, proved a neighborhood convenience as well as a
3ft HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
family comfort. Such savory, steaming, appetizing
odors as used to come from that brick oven when Mrs.
Stevens had her semi-weekly baking days ! It was a
combination of everything tempting to the palate. It
furnished opportunity for baking for extra occasions
to many neighbors, and Mrs. Greenfield and Mrs. East-
man, daughters of Stephen French, baked their wed-
ding cakes in that capacious oven.
While active in securing home comforts and im-
provements, Mr. Stevens looked beyond the home and
saw much to be done for the community and especially
for the children. They must have schools — he had not
forgotten the hunger for an education of his own boy-
hood, and later his activity in securing the means for
building the first Princeville Academy was an expres-
sion of his interest in the education of youth. He be-
lieved that the church and the school should go hand
in hand in the upbuilding of a community, and was
always ready to contribute liberally for this purpose.
He was always interested in the progress and pros-
perity of the people and especially desired that the
ruling influences should be along intellectual and moral
Patriotism was one of the cardinal principles of his
own life and faithfully instilled into the minds of his
children. He made it a part of his religion and when
the supreme test of loyalty to country came, three of
his sons responded "Here am I," serving in the Union
army with credit and one laid down his life for the
cause in the assault on Vicksburg May 22, 1863.
Of his seven children but two are now living; one
daughter, Maria Foster, died in early womanhood.
There are twenty-three grandchildren, forty-four great
grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren, sev-
enty-five in all.
It is due that what a man does well should be re-
membered to his credit. This is simple justice. May
whatever of good was accomplished by this conscien-
tious and faithful pioneer live long for the benefit of
WILLIAM C. STRV'ENS, THE FOUNDER OF PRINCEVILLE 37
A LETTER WRITTEN BY WM. C. STEVENS.
(Showing his careful English, and characteristic
use of long words.)
Princeville, Nov. 18/53.
Miss M. Cutler
Your very kind & unexpected letter
to Mrs. S. was duly reed pr last mail. As you antici-
pated, it found her too much pressed with business to
allow her a leisurable opportunity of answering you as
promptly as she desires, and as she thinks you deserve.
Agreeably, too, to your own suggestion, I therefore un-
dertake the very agreeable office of responding to your
very agreeable communication.
Add to the multiplicity of more than imaginary
cares, or mere fancied duties, taxing the still assiduous
attention of wife her health is perhaps not as good
now as when you was last with us ; at all events, she
is now utterly unable to perform as much hard work
as she was then in the habit of performing. Our
daughter M. for the last 18 months, therefore, has had
to relieve her mother of most the heavier work of the
family, and w^hich I am happy to say she had dis-
patched with very approveable resolution. Meanwhile,
little Hannah, as I call her, has been kept pretty con-
stantly at school. & is making gratifying progress in
every branch of learning thus far taken in hand.
Through this fall season the children have all been at-
tending two evenings every week a very good & effi-
cient Singing-school — they are in hopes of enjoying the
privilege still on through the winter. The girls take
lessons of the same teacher upon a melodion, which I
have purchased for them. And although they have
made as yet no advance towards a graceful skill in this
pleasing Art, yet we think they already afford us some
earnest of ultimate success.
38 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
With regard to Wm. whether he has been the happy
subject of a Saving Change, or not, we can hardly sat-
isfactorily determine. We cherish some hopes — we in-
dulge many fears.
There are noticeable among and around us very
reconcileable material Improvements. In this respect
we ourselves have measureably participated with our
neighbours. During the past year our village has sus-
tained & enjoyed the advantages of, two very satisfac-
tory & constant schools — The Select or private, taught
by a Miss Rogers sister of Elizabeth; the district, by a
young gent, from 0. Schools in neighbourhoods
around, seem rather to have deteriorated than ad-
vanced — competent teachers are not now as numerous
as when you was here. Should you return you have
not signified whether it would be your desire to teach —
We take it for granted, however, that you would not
utterly decline this most useful vocation. Assuredly
such services are much needed all around us. Others,
incomparably less competent than yourself, readily find
employment at good wages. It is true in this, as well
as in other business, empiricks are sometimes best
Your proposition to Mrs. S. of returning to 111. and
making a home with us, rec d her favourable consid-
eration, with the readily expressed hopes that on the
one hand you would find it quite as comfortable and
satisfactory as formerly, & on the other, she did not
see but what you would have it in your power easily
& satisfactorily to reciprocate the favor.
Should you intend coming right on this fall, please
lose no time in advising us, & letting us know whether
you want a school during the ensuing winter.
I have not time to write more — only to tender our
cordial respects and that of family — wife in particu-
lar to you and yours.
from your obt Servt
Wm. C. Stevens.
WILLIAM C. STEVENS, THE FOUNDER OF PRINCEVILLE 39
REMINISCENCES OF WM. C. STEVENS.
Peoria Journal, Dee. 1, 1884.
From Scrap-book of Mrs. Esther R. Auten,
Early Reminiscences of the Founder of the Town — The
Origin of the Name — Facts of General Interest.
Princeville, 111., December 1, 1884. — While strolling
about this pleasant little town, viewing its busy streets
and comfortable residences, it was the fortune of the
Journal reporter to meet William C. Stevens, a promi-
nent citizen and really the founder of the town. He
was to Princeville what Romulus was to Rome or Queen
Dido to Carthage. He is now a man considerably past
four score years ; yet he walks with a firm step, pos-
sesses a remarkable memory — especially in regard to
names and dates, and is familiar with every detail of
the earliest history of Princeville. When asked the
origin of its euphonious name, and something about its
first settlement, he replied : * * * * (The part
omitted is largely quoted a few pages back in the
sketch written by Mrs. Moody and Mrs. Hutchins.)
* * * * "I also went into business, keeping a gen-
eral stock, and William Coburn started soon afterward.
He soon got himself a farm a mile east of town, and be-
came a permanent settler. His family still lives here, but
he volunteered to go into the war at the age of 60 and
joined Davidson's Peoria Battery. He died with small-
pox in the latter part of 1863 at New Orleans. He was
the second postmaster here, Stephen French being the
first. I had to do most of the business of the office during
Mr. French's term, and part of it for Mr. Coburn, as
he was living on his farm and could not attend to it.
I next became postmaster and performed the duties of
the office for sixteen years, and in 1866 resigned vol-
imtarily, feeling that I had done my part, and realiz-
ing that financially it was always an injury to me.
"The first teacher of w^inter school we ever had
was Theodore F. Hurd, who subsequently became the
40 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
representative from this district and Stark. He was
then living at Lafayette, 111. After him, Solomon S.
Cornwell taught the school. He now lives about four
miles west of Princeville and owns a farm of 800 acres.
He is the father of Charlie Cornwell, a young lawyer
of Peoria. An academy was built here in 1857 — the
building now known as Fuller's store. It was 24x36
and two stories, and considered a good building for
those days. It ran successfully until silenced by the
war. The ablest teachers Princeville ever saw were
employed, boys being fitted for college in several in-
stances. This was the first academy built in the coun-
ty. I personally obtained every dollar of the money
to build it with, by subscription, giving between two
and three hundred dollars myself, besides furnishing
the lots. The academy cost $1,600,00 in those cheap
times, and $207.00 only remained due to the lumber
firm of Anderson & Proctor, in Peoria, when the last
nail was driven. This I became personally responsi-
ble for, asking that I might be notified six months be-
fore they wanted it. Nine years afterward I asked for
the bill, which had then amounted to about $400.00,
and paid it. Many have wondered that this place was
not named Stevensville, and I'll tell you why it was
not. I read in the scriptures that the worldling calls
his lands after his own name, so I made up my mind
not to do so. I wanted first a new name under the
sun — one never heard of before ; second, a name that
would look well on paper; third, one that was easily
spoken ; and, fourth, one that would be connected with
pleasant and agreeable associations. In the name of
Princeville I fancied I had all of these qualifications,
and consequently chose it above all others. Some
other time I will tell you more of early days in this
neck of the woods. You can't guess my age, so I'll tell
you that I am nearer eighty-eight than eighty-seven,
and feel very bright for a man so old."
THE MOODY FAMILY 41
THE MOODY FAMILY.
By Miss Rie Henry, 1907.
Ira Moody was born in Sandisfield, Mass., October
18, 1795. His father, a sailor, died when on one of his
voyages, leaving a wife and three children. Ira and
his mother lived with his uncle, his mother's brother,
a Presbyterian minister. Ira was in his fifth year and
as he grew old enough to work, was employed on a
farm near Sandisfield. When 21, or a few years after,
he walked from Massachusetts to Ohio, in search of a
better opportunity for making a start in life. Satisfy-
ing himself of the advantages of Ohio as a farming
country, he returned to I\Iassachusetts for his mother.
He bought a tract of land in the forest, cleared it and
became the possessor of a good farm of 100 acres.
In 1823 he was married to Ann Maria Reaves, a
native of New Jersey. They remained in Ohio until
1839, when he brought his family to Illinois, traveling
w^ith horses and two wagons. Seven children were
born in Ohio, Oliver, Amy, Henry, Ira, Julia, Talley-
rand and Reaves.
They w^ere not alone in their journey, for now and
then a new wagon would be added to the train till
there became a long line of them. When they reached
the eastern part of Illinois the creeks were very wide,
veritable swamps, and the only way to cross them was
to hitch one team behind the other. The line was so
long that when the first team had reached the farther
side the last one was only starting. After a journey
of five weeks they reached Peoria County where they
located on Section 4, Princeville Township. He broke
and improved eighty acres of land and remained there
till his death in 1882, being 87 years old.
His wife died in 1861. She was known as a splen-
did nurse and would go anywhere when called upon
to care for the sick. In these days we wonder how
one with a large family, as every one had then, could
42 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
think of losing one moment of her own time to help
others, when we remember that besides the regular
housework she spun and wove all the cloth needed for
clothing and bedding.
Ira Moody was not a large man, of medium height
and build but with a strong constitution and good
health of which he was careful. He was temperate in
all things; would rise at an early hour, work hard all
day and in the evening enjoyed taking his chair out
on the la^^Ti where it was cool; but however warm the
evening, he never neglected to add another garment,
usually a jacket. He preferred to walk rather than
ride if he wished to go to town or to a neighbor's, and
he had a system in walking. He would say, ''Never
go from side to side of the road to find a smooth path,
it takes time and strength, but walk straight ahead
over rough places and through mud and water if neces-
sary. " He was a good marksman, could shoot a prai-
rie chicken on the wing with a rifle when 70 years old.
He took an active part in educational affairs, holding
some of the school offices, and was to\^mship treasurer
for some years.
He was the father of ten children, those before men-
tioned and Mary (Mattie), Charlotte and Nathan.
The last two died in childhood and were buried in
Princeville cemetery. Oliver, a prominent citizen of
Princeville and vicinity, and often in public offices,
afterwards lived in Chicago. His wife, still living, was
Mary Stevens, and they had ten children. Sarah died
in childhood, and Ella, wife of Dr. T. E. Alyea, died
some fifteen years ago. The others, well known to
many here, are Mrs. Fannie Tucker, Mrs. Julia Klinck,
Oliver, Henry, John, Melville, Mrs. Maude Quinu and
Oliver Moody's brothers, Henry, Ira and Keaves,
better known as ''Cap," were among those who went
west in search of gold in 1847-51 with ox teams, their
trip covering a period of three months. Henry and
Ira married in the west, and there are some children
THE MOODY FAMILY 43
of each living in the west. Reaves died in the gold
country, a bachelor, while still young.
Amy married William Davis and died rather young,
leaving five children. Her youngest son, Henry Davis,
was raised by his Uncle Tall, and was here on a visit
from Nebraska last winter. The other Davis children
were Mrs. Lois Camp (now deceased), Mrs. Charlotte
Cottrill of Missouri, and Theodore and George of Kan-
Mary (or Mattie) went to Oregon to visit Henry
and Ira, and while there met and married a Mr. Wm.
Julia (Mrs. John Henry) lives in Princeville, and
her children are Albert in Houston, Texas, Bruce on
the home place. Miss Rie, Mrs. Blanche Sheelor of
Galesburg, Miss Julia, Sherman T. of Monica, and Mrs.
Sadie Cornish, besides three, Emily, Carlisle and Mabel,
who died when young.
Talleyrand or "Tall" has the distinction of having
lived on the same section longer than any other man
in Princeville Township, sixty-seven years. His chil-
dren are Mrs. Miranda Graves of Duncan, Mrs. Anna
White and Miss Stella.
Tall and Julia, Mrs. John Henry, are the only mem-
bers of the original family surviving.
One from Ethan Moody (father of Ira Moody)
written to his wife before embarking on his last sea
voyage ; and the other from Silas Jones, breaking to
Mrs. Moody the news of her husband's death.
New London, Nov. 16th, 1799.
Dear M'am :
I avail myself of the opportunity of writing to you
to let you know that I am in good health and spirits,
hoping that you are all enjoying the same blessing, and
that I like the business as well as I expected. We
arrived in this harbor Saturday evening, having been
a week from Middletown. The captain, second mate
and all the hands are as agreeable companions as I
44 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
could wish. (Here something referring to the first
mate seems to have been written and then scratched
out.) None escaped being dam'd by him, but we expect
when his brother comes on board there will be an alter-
ation. He is hated by all the ship's crew. We expect
to sail the last of the week in company' with the new
ship Yankee of Middletown of sixteen six-pounders
and several other vessels, as there is near twenty sail
about ready for sea. In the sound we met Mr. Deming,
he having made a good and short voyage.
Nov. 20. This day Mr. Eobbins arrived and informs
me that you are well which gave me joy. I am as
hearty as I wish to be and my old heels haven't
troubled me at all. I live verv well, have tea or coffee
twice a day if we have a mind for it, besides oysters
and clams. We shall sail by Saturday I expect and
perhaps by a Friday. This day seven vessels sailed
for the West Indies. The ship Yankee will not be
ready so soon as we are. Abijah Woodhouse is as big
a scoundrel as ever lived. We had twenty-four gallons
of rum put on board at Middletown for vessel's use
and he has given most part away with what he has
drinkt. but the owners are determined to have the
second mate take his place. His name is Ebenezer
Butler of Rocky Hill, as good a fellow as ever lived.
The Captain did not come around with us. He is a nice
man. I have sent an almanac bv Bobbins. The reason
that Eemington did not come was the ill usage he
received from Woodhouse. You need not entertain
fears concerning my treatment, for I have no doubt
but that I shall be used well, and as for my return I
must leave to that kind providence who is the pro-
tector of all mankind.
My compliments to all friends and I conclude sub-
Your affectionate husband,
THE MOODY FAMILY 45
Baltimore, March 22nd, 1800.
Dear Madam :
I am very sorry that I have to inform you of the
death of your affectionate husband. He took passage
with me on board the Schooner Swan, at St. Thomas
bound to Turks Islands, and from there to Boston, but
after we arrived in Turks Islands he was taken down
very sick with a putrid fever. The 17th day of Feb-
ruary we sailed from Turks Islands for Boston and
then I thought he was in fair way for recovery. But
after we got at sea he began to get worse and three
days after we sailed he expired, which being the 20th
day of February at five in the morning. I had his body
buried in as decent a way as I could after I had read
prayers over him. In his sickness we paid the best
attention to him we could. Dear madam, I am very
sorry for your loss, but I hope you will bear it with
Christian fortitude and consider that we have got a
great Being that rules over us that will never take us
hence without he thinks it is right and then we must
obey his summons. Dear madam, I hope you will not
take it too hard but consider Mr. Moody is clear of a
troublesome world and I make no doubt but he is much
happier than he was here, for I never saw anything in
him but what was upright and steady, and think he
cannot be miserable hereafter. I hope this example
of God's providence will put us all in mind that in a
short time we must follow your affectionate husband.
I and all my crew expected to have had to follow
Mr. Moody when our vessel w^as sinking, but Providence
ordered it so that we got relief at the last moment by a
vessel taking us off. So I remain, dear madam, with
respect and esteem.
Your friend and obedient servant,
46 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
WILLIAM HOUSTON AND FAMILY
By Henry C. Houston, 1907.
Among the names entitled to recognition as Prince-
ville pioneers are those of William Houston and his
wife Sarah (Chase) Houston, who left New Hampshire
the latter part of September, 1843, arriving in Prince-
ville on Thanksgiving day of that year. This journey
of nearly 1500 miles, as the roads were then laid out,
was made with team and covered wagon, requiring
fifty-seven days to make the trip. The late Mr. and
Mrs. Simon P. Chase were their traveling companions.
Compare this journey, the time occupied, and discom-
forts, with the present day ''Twentieth Century Lim-
ited" with its parlor, dining and sleeping car accom-
modations, which now spans this distance in a trifle
over one day. William Houston w^as great grandson of
Rev. Robert Houston, who emigrated to this country
from Londonderry, Ireland, as pastor of a colony
chartered by the King of England. This colony located
upon a land grant from the King, which gave them a
tract twelve miles square, somewhere on the East shore
of the Connecticut River in what is now the State of
Mr. Houston was born in Temple, N. H., February,
1815, being the ninth child of John and Ann Houston.
At the age of 16 he started out into the world to earn
his owTi living. For a few years he worked on a farm;
later he worked in the stone quarries, getting out
material for foundations of the great cotton mills of
Lowell. Reports of the opportunities which the then
far West offered to young men of limited means, led
to a decision to emigrate to the Prairie State. On
September 25th, 1842, he was united in marriage with
Sarah Chase (she being a niece of the late Wm. C.
Stevens) and a few days later they started on the
journey Westward to the land that was to be their
SIMON P. CHASE AND FAMII.Y 47
Three years after coming to Illinois they bought
the farm on which the Akron town house stands, which
they improved and which was their home for over fifty
years, the home in which both died. ]\[rs. Houston
died May, 1899, her husband following her in Decem-
ber, 1901. Their bodies now rest from their labors in
the beautiful cemetery Northwest of our Village. To
them were born three sons, Henry C. residing half a
mile from the old homestead ; William A. living near
Allerton, Iowa; and Charles S. who was born and has
spent his life thus far on the home farm. During the
early years they experienced the usual hardships,
privations and the practice of rigid economy incident
to those times. Theirs was the experience of the
average early settler, — nothing striking or of public
interest. It was their effort to meet and discharge
the daily duties or heroically to meet the disappoint-
ments and trials of pioneer life. Their hearts and
homes were ever open to the belated traveler, and their
sympathy and services were promptly and heartily
given to any fellow pioneer in sorrow or distress. They
were a part of that grand army whose strength of head,
heart and hand was given to develop the territory now
included in this association.
SIMON P. CHASE AND FAMILY.
By Mrs. S. C. Eldred, 1907.
The first paternal ancestor of Simon P. Chase in
America, was Aquila Chase, who wdth his brother
Thomas emigrated from Chesham, England in 1639 (a
brother William coming nine years prior), settling first
at Hampton, Mass., later removing to Newbury and
Sutton ; great-grandsons migrating to the Connecticut
River settled on a tract of new land and laid out the
town of Cornish, N. H.
The lineal descent of this branch of the family in
America is as follows: Aquila (1), Moses (2), Daniel
48 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
(3), Samuel (4), Samuel (5), Peter (6), Peter (7),
Simon Peter (8) (the ancestry of Mrs. Sarah Chase
Houston being the same). Simon P. (8) Chase was the
son of Peter (7) Chase and Martha Stevens, his wife;
he was born in Cornish, N. H., January 28th, 1812 ; was
married at Orange, N. H., April 1st, 1838, to Miss Ann
Houston, daughter of John Houston and Ann Moore,
his wife, of Temple, N. H.
Mr. and Mrs. Chase and little daughter Martha in
company with Mr. and Mrs. William Houston removed
to Illinois in 1842 and shortly after bought land two
and one-half miles East of Princeville and built a cabin
Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Chase,
two daughters and a son ; the daughters are Mrs.
Martha A. Harbaugh of Red Oak, Iowa, and Mrs. Sarah
C. Eldred of Roseville, Illinois; the son, Mr. Philander
H. Chase, a well known citizen of this community, re-
sided during his life on the farm where he was born ;
he died March 5, 1899. Mr. Simon Chase passed from
this earthlife January 9, 1870, and his wife five years
later, all of whom were laid to rest in the Princeville
Mr. and Mrs. Chase early united with the Presby-
terian Church of Princeville, which at that time wor-
shipped in the old log school house ; they helped accord-
ing to their ability in the building of the first, and also
of the present church edifice, and joined heartily in
the rejoicings on the completion and dedication of
each. They were faithful in church attendance, and
devoted to the interests of Christ's kingdom during
life; Mr. Chase being elected to the office of Ruling
Elder ''ever used said office well." Mrs. Chase, who
possessed a good voice for singing and had received
training under the best teachers of New England in
that day in harmony and sight-reading, used her voice
in the service of song in the church, and taught the
young people, sometimes meeting them in the ''Singing
School" held in the Morrow school house and some-
times in her home. A few years later a musical society
THE COKNWELL FAMILY 49
was formed and "Sings" or in modern phrase
"Miisicales" were held in the homes of music-loving
families, which were a source of culture as well as
social pleasure to the young people.
In 1852 Mr. Chase bought a piece of land near by
on which was a more commodious house ; into this the
family moved from the cabin home, and in the vacated
cabin the first public school in District No. 5, Akron
Township, was held in the winter of 1852-3, Miss Sarah
Farwell being the teacher.
The privations and difficulties incident to pioneer
life of that day, such as failure of crops, prairie fires,
bad roads, distance from markets, lack of legal cur-
rency or coin (most of the marketing being in the form
of barter, a farmer with his produce might supply his
family with sugar and shoes, but found it a poor
medium with which to pay taxes or postage on let-
ters) ; all these Mr. Chase encountered with manful
courage and patience, saying in facing them, "Well,
well, it will be better by and by."
Those early settlers saw many rewards for their
privations and arduous toil, in the advancement and
development of the country ; and may we not say they,
under God's guiding hand, helped to "Make the wilder-
ness and solitary place glad for them, and the desert
to blossom as the rose, and to rejoice with joy and
THE CORNWELL FAMILY.
By Wm. E. Elliott, 1907.
Solomon S. Cornwell was born in Duchess County,
New York, July 8, 1808. His father, Job Cornwell, was
a native of the same county, and was son of Jonathan
Cornwell, also of Duchess County, and a grandson of
Lot Cornwell, who was a soldier in the Revolution. The
father of Lot Cornwell came from England as an officer
50 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
in the English army; but in the beginning of the
struggle between the colonists and the mother-country,
he left the British Armv and cast in his lot with the
colonists and fought with them for their freedom. After
the war he settled in Duchess County.
Mr. Cornwell obtained his education in the district
schools and in a Quaker school at Mechanicsville,
Duchess County. After leaving school he chose the
profession of teaching and was engaged at it about
twelve years in Duchess County, and after that taught
in Long Island, and for three years was principal of the
schools where he was stationed. In 1837 he went to
Monroe Countv, New York.
In 1838 he came to Illinois, traveling by boat to
Cleveland, Ohio, and by canal to the Ohio River to
take a boat; but as there were none going down the
river at that time, he hired a skiff. After proceeding
a short distance, however, he decided he could make
better progress on foot, so he walked to the next land-
ing and waited there four days for a boat, and as one
did not come he secured a seat on a stage to Indiana,
and finally made his way to Springfield, this state.
He then shouldered his bundle of clothes and made a
trip to the Mississippi River, and back to Farmington
in search of a school. All this trip was made on foot.
At Farmington he was referred to Princeville. Here
he was engaged to teach, which he did in a log school-
house (the one southeast of present Rock Island depot)
with the most primitive furnishings. He found it hard
work as there were among the pupils several large boys
who could neither read nor w^rite. He toiled faithfully
and made a success of his teaching.
One story that he told, in after years, will interest
one of the participants who is here to-day. One of the
younger Stevens boys was untractable, when Mr. Corn-
well ''chucked" him into a barrel that was standing
in the log school house. The boy made no disturbance
there. After school Mr. Cornwell forgot all about him
and was about to lock the door, and all the other
scholars were gone, when Mary Stevens rushed at him
THE BELFORD FAMILY 51
like a bear, and said, ''No you don't lock my brother
in there." Going back they found the little fellow
fast asleep in the barrel.
From Princeville Mr. Cornwell went to Fairview,
Fulton County, and was engaged in teaching in the
academy as its principal and occupied that position
for three years.
Mr. Cornwell first settled in Princeville Township
on the Northwest quarter of Section 16, where his
oldest son was born January 14, 1844. That year he
built a house and settled on the Southwest quarter of
Section 21, which ever after was his home until, in
1872-73, the large house was built on Section 28. He
drew the lumber for his first house from EUisville,
Fulton County, forty miles away, with an ox team.
Mr. Cornwell returned to New York and on May
24, 1842, was married to Miss Emily Munson, a native
of Connecticut. To them were born four children :
William H. or "Hughes"; Charles A., for many years
one of the useful attorneys of Peoria; Julia C. (Mrs.
W. E. Elliott) ; and Adaline D. (Mrs. Hugh Crawford) ;
of whom only Julia (Mrs. Elliott) survives.
Mr. Cornwell platted the Village of Monica on a
part of his farm, and it was called "Cornwell" for a
time ; but later was changed to Monica, because of
confusion in the mail with another town of a similar
name. His ideals were for a town without liquor, and
he inserted a clause in his deeds designed to effectually
keep it out. Mr. Cornwell died Oct. 4, 1893, and Mrs.
Cornwell on Feb. 3, 1895. Both are buried in the
THE BELFORD FAMILY.
By George Belford, 1907.
Margium Belford, the subject of this sketch, was
born June 6, 1794, in Hampshire County, Virginia. He
resided there with his parents until eighteen years of
52 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
age when he enlisted in the war of 1812. After the
war he settled near Columbus, Ohio. He w^as married
in Ohio and later moved to Peoria, Illinois, with his
wife and two small daughters in 1829. Soon after
reaching Peoria death entered his family and he was
called upon to give up his wife and one little girl.
The other daughter grew to womanhood and married
Abraham Frye of Richwoods. Mr. Frye died about
twelve years ago, and his wife followed him to the
''Great Beyond" about six years later.
In 1832 Mr. Belford enlisted in the Black Hawk
War which was then threatening our people. After
this war he w^as married to Miss Sarah Orr of Rich-
woods in 1836. By his second wife he had four chil-
dren, namely : AVilliam, residing on the old homestead ;
Mrs. Kate Carroll of Ransom, Kansas ; Frank of
Monica ; and George of Princeville. He resided near
Brimfield for some time and finally in 1848 he entered,
at a dollar and a quarter per acre, from the govern-
ment, an eighty acre farm three miles north of Brim-
field. This is still in the family name, with no trans-
fers except from the other children to William, the
present owner. The farm has been his home for fifty-
It seems wonderful at this time to think of the
changes that have taken place. The writer remembers
well, when a little boy, going one or two hundred yards
from the little sod house, with a dog along for com-
pany, and seeing several "buffalo wallow^s." Here the
bleached bones indicated where the American bisons,
possibly twenty or thirty years before, had got stuck
in the mud, or been wounded, and died. The skele-
tons were undisturbed. Prairie fires had often gone
over them — and speaking of prairie fires reminds us of
times when a whole township would not sleep. The
whole prairie from the Belford farm, which was in the
Southeast corner of Millbrook Township, and two miles
South of it, off to the Northwest — past where Laura
now is, and clear to Rochester — was sometimes a roar-
ing fire, burning off in a night. This was hard on
THE BELFORD FAMILY 53
fences. Back-firing was often resorted to, to save a
house or a field of corn. Then speaking of the pri-
vations of the period, the writer is reminded of the
winter nights shelling corn by hand. Mother had a
piece of tin pimched full of holes, rounded and tacked
onto a slab of wood, over the rough side of which she
would draw an ear of corn until two or three rows were
shelled out. Then the little fellows took the cobs and
finished the shelling, mother always keeping them busy.
Quite a few bushels would be shelled in an evening
and after a few evenings there would be a load for
father to take to Peoria. When the first hand sheller
came, it was a bonanza, and no one dreamed then of
the modern sheller w^hicli the writer of this sketch
has been propelling with a steam traction engine for
twenty years past ; not to speak of the horse power
sheller which was in use for twenty years before that.
On the same rough tin hand sheller or ''grater" the
new corn at this time of the year, used to be ground or
grated into soft meal for mush.
Father Belford was a typical frontiersman, not
educated as the present day goes, but rough and ready
and always at home to the traveler. The house always
had plenty of room for strangers or movers going
across the country, although there was only one room
in it. It made no difference if a blizzard kept a large
family and horses on their hospitality for a week. No
one in those days sent visitors or strangers to the
hotel ; neither did they send strangers to the livery
barn, as horses were one time driven as far as Gales-
burg for the accommodation of some of these strangers.
Father Belford was accidentally killed by a horse
falling on him on July 6, 1870. His wife lived quietlj-
on at the old home for a number of years, but finally
on June 8, 1878, she closed her eyes into the sleep
which has no waking. Mr. and Mrs. Belford are both
buried in the Princeville Cemetery Northwest of town.
54 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
REV. ROBERT FINLEY BREESE AND FAMILY.
FIRST PASTOR OF THE PRINCEVILLE
By Charles Forrest Cutter, 1907.
The name of the Rev. Robert Breese first appears
on the Minutes of Session, March 26, 1843, at, or about
which time he entered on his labors in this church.
He had as his particular charge the Church of Prince-
ville and Rochester, between which he divided his time.
In this field he continued to labor until the time of his
death, which occurred September 2, 1851. This, so far
as is known, was his first and only field of labor. He
was in regular connection with the Presbytery of
Peoria and in good repute with his Ministerial
Brethren. During his ministry here he resided a part
of his time in this village (Princeville), and part of
the time in Rochester, where he died. His remains, as
also those of his wife, repose in the Princeville Ceme-
tery. A good head-stone of Italian marble marks their
resting place. They sleep in Jesus.
''The graves of all his saints be jblest." ''They rest
from their labors, and their works do follow them."
Mr. Breese was a man sound in the faith, zealous
for the truth and faithful in his ministr3\ He has left
behind him an enduring memorial.
Mrs. Breese, a woman highly respected and valued
for her many ladylike and Christian qualities, devoted
much of her time to the noble cause of Christian educa-
tion in which work she was largely successful. The
comparative high grade of education in this neighbor-
hood is clearly traceable to her zealous and self denying
labors. There are many who will rise up and call her
blessed. She was a pupil of Misses Lyon and Grant at
Ipswich, Mass., and seems to have caught much of their
genial and high-toned spirit. Mr. Breese was a grad-
uate of South Hanover College, Ind., and of the Alleg.
REV. ROBERT FINLEY BREESE AND FAMILY 55
Theological Seminary. He possessed a respectable
library and is known to have expended much labor
upon his sermons. A specimen of his sermons is pre-
served in the appendix to the ''Session" Register of
the Princeville Presbyterian Church. Their home in
Princeville was the house now occupied by Willard
Bennett and family, which is still sometimes called the
Mrs. Hannah Cutter Breese was born August 2,
1807, in the Cutter home of Pelham, N. H., and was
both a first pupil and later a preceptress in the famous
Ipswich Academy. In 1840, in the prime of life, with
a good education and much experience in teaching, she
came to Illinois, taught in Macomb (where in 18-41 she
and her home missionary beloved were married),
taught on in Rushville, in Princeville, 1843 or '44
(where her youngest brother. Dr. Charles Cutter of
Harvard College and the Massachusetts Hospital, Bos-
ton, had settled), and, about 1846, she began the well
known Seminary twelve miles west of here in old
Hannah Cutter's ability showed itself so early, when
thirteen, that one incredulous teacher declared an
essay my aunt handed in in verse to be a theft. She
answered by putting in his desk, the next morning
before school, an acrostic on his name that opened not
only his eyes but also those of her family and friends.
Thirty-five years ago one of her biographers wrote
thus: ''Of sterling worth and masculine energy, of
uncommon literary attainments, many a noble woman
owes her strength of character to Mrs. Breese 's teach-
ing and training." Men and women still live who
remember their home being moved to Rochester that
they might be trained in the Breese Seminary.
Mrs. Breese survived her husband less than a year,
till April 25, 1852. The children were David, a Union
soldier, starved in a Texas prison ; Joanna, 1847-49 ;
and a pair of twin boys, Ambrose and Robert Finley,
the last named still living in this state.
56 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
If, as Socrates said, "It is better to write on the
hearts of living men than on the skins of dead sheep,"
then this pioneer couple in their too short lives of
evangelistic work and Christian education are worthy
examples for youth to-day.
Note 1. Mr. Breese was licensed by the Presbytery
of Madison June 27, 1838.
Note 2. During his last hours Mr. Breese was par-
tially deranged ; but at lucid moments he expressed his
full and unshaken confidence in God's covenant mercy.
Note 3. Mrs. Breese. during her last illness, gave
very decisive and satisfactory evidence of Christian
faith and hope. It may well be said of her ''To live
was Christ, to die was gain."
Her diary gives many signal proofs of her close
self-inspection and of her devotion to her chosen work.
She has left specimens of poetry which evince no
small degree of literary taste and genius.
Note 4. The "Massachusetts Teacher" of 185—
contains an extended biography of Mrs. Breese. under
the title, "The Ardent Scholar and Benevolent
KEY. ROBERT CAMERON, AND DAUGHTER,
MISS AGNES CAMERON.
By Louis Auten, 1907.
Reverend Cameron has said that it was through the
direction of Divine Providence that he came to this
community, and no one who has been acquainted with
him and the good he has done here thinks differently.
It was in the hopes of regaining his health, and pro-
longing his life, and to place his daughters in the fam-
ily of their oldest brother Peter, who lived at Henry,
Illinois, that Robert Cameron came to America from
near Glasgow, Scotland, in 1842, with his two daugh-
ters Agnes and Annie. The daughter Annie was mar-
REV. ROBERT CAMERON AND DAUGHTER 57
ried soon after coming to America, so the father and
one daughter lived alone with each other until his
They made their home in New Jersey for nine and
one-half years when they came to this community,
going from New York to Buffalo by canal, and from
Buffalo to Chicago by lake steamer, the whole trip
taking about two weeks. The family had engaged
passage on the steamer "James Griffith," but a break
in a canal lock delayed them so they missed their boat,
and on that very trip the "James Griffith" was burned
and all the passengers lost. Mr. Cameron saw in this
delay another instance of the intervention of the Divine
Providence in which he had so much faith. The father
and daughter intended to make their home at Racine,
Wisconsin, but came to this community first to see an
old friend, Mr. Buchanan, who lived Northw^est of here,
and as Mr. Cameron saw great need of his services
here, they stayed and made this their home. Their
first Princeville home was with Alexander Buchanan
and family in a little frame building that stood where
Mrs. Shane's house now is. They lived there for only
a short time, after which they made their home with
different ones of his parishioners.
For a year and a half Mr. Cameron assisted Eev.
Breese in his charge, but on the death of the pastor,
the charge was given to Rev. Cameron. He preached
his first sermon in Princeville on his birthday, Julj^ 7,
1852, and preached three times every Sunday, almost
until the time of his death. He founded a church at
West Princeville, and walked over there every Sunday
afternoon and then walked back to preach his evening
sermon here. His Princeville church was a small frame
building that stood where Cheesman's store now is.
He conducted the first Thanksgiving service ever held
in Princeville, and contrary to the expectations of
some of his friends who advised him not to undertake
it, the church was crowded.
Though Mr. Cameron's object in coming to America
was partly to be in the home of his eldest son, he was
58 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
never able to accomplish this, as the son was drowned
on a log raft in the Illinois River about the time the
family came to America, and it was six years before
they could find out what had become of him, or if he
were still living. Many of the older people still speak
of Reverend Cameron. They remember him as a small
white haired, frail man, old beyond his years, feebly
walking to his scattered charges, and preaching at
times when he was so exhausted that he could not
stand. He worked beyond all human endurance and
died an old man at the age of sixty-seven.
Agnes Cameron, or as she was known to all her
acquaintances, "Auntie Cameron," has lived alone
since her father's death thirty-three years ago, and is
now at the age of eighty-three, keeping house for her-
self ; waited on to some extent by kind neighbors, but
more than repaying all that is done for her, by the
warmth of the love which she bestows on her friends.
THE DEBORD FAMILY.
By Louis Auten, 1907.
Believing that a new country offered greater possi-
bilities for a young man of twenty-one, than his o^vn,
Reuben R. Debord left Kentucky in the fall of 1839 for
Princeville where an old friend of his, John Miller,
had established his home. Mr, Debord traveled this
distance on horseback and alone, and on his arrival at
Mr. Miller's he owned less than a dollar in money, and
no property except his horse and the clothes he wore.
He made his home with Mr. Miller, who lived in a cabin
one mile north and about four and a half miles west
of Princeville, worked for his board, and broke some
land for himself. At a large religious meeting con-
ducted by Bishop Chase in the grove (Princeville) at
the cabin school house, he met Miss Julia Ann Hall,
to whom he was married in 1843.
the; debord family 59
Miss Hall was also a pioneer, having come to Prince-
ville in the winter of 1840, with her mother and brothers
and sisters. Her oldest brother, Warren, who had been
head of the household for several years, came to Prince-
ville in 1837, and deciding to make this his home, he
had a wagon made, and sent one of his neighbors.
Reeves Sherman, back to Ohio to bring the family.
The wagon was loaded with bedding, a table, one or
two chairs, and the head and foot pieces of a bedstead,
and the family started in January for Illinois. There
were ten in the company, of whom three were quite
young, so the older ones had to walk. Julia was four-
teen years of age, but young as she was, she walked
practically all the way from Ohio to Illinois. They
traveled every day, but always timed their progress so
that they never had to spend a night in the open, but
always slept at some house or hotel. They took food
with them, and on their arrival at their stopping places
they prepared their meal in the kitchen, and made up a
large bed with their own bedding, on the floor. There
were no bridges at that time, and the rivers presented
difficulties, but the movers were usually able to cross
on flat-boats or ferries, though at times they had to
unload their wagon and swim the horses over, and take
their bedding and furniture in canoes. They arrived
at Princeville in March, tired but in good spirits, and
made their home in a cabin which stood where Sam
Morrow now lives. The next year they moved to
Shiloh, or, as it is known today, the Belltree neighbor-
hood, where Julia lived until her marriage.
Mr. Debord and Miss Hall were married at her home
in Shiloh by Squire Tucker. They kept house in the
same cabin with George I. McGinnis about a mile and
a half north of Princeville, until Mr. Debord built for
himself. They had eleven children, all of whom are
living, and six of them still reside in this vicinity.
Mrs. Debord says with commendable pride, "I have
eleven children and they are all living; they have
always had enough to eat, they have all gone to school,
and I haven't one to spare." This is certainly a re-
60 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
markable record, and it speaks well for the ability of
these pioneer parents who were able to do for so large
a family. We of a younger generation wonder how
our forefathers managed to make a living, and how
our grandmothers were able to do all the housework,
without our modern conveniences. But Mrs. Debord
says: ''Yes, we were busy then, but we didn't have
as much to do as the women do now. A one room cabin
was not hard to keep clean, and it was no task at all
to dust the furniture. We had to make our own
clothes, but each garment lasted us several years, and
there was not much washing and ironing." Mr. Debord
was a farmer and stock raiser all his life. He was a
good judge of stock and of land, careful of his expendi-
tures and investments, and moderate in his manner of
living. This was the secret of the success of the family,
they were contented and satisfied with what they had,
and so what they had was enough ; and who will doubt
but what they were as happy as any family that stayed
in its more comfortable Eastern home?
The children are as follows, in the order of their
birth : William H., Charles W., Henry A., Emily now
Mrs. George Gladfelter, Frank, A. Burke, George Fred-
erick, Mary now Mrs. Hurd, Ella M. now Mrs. Elroy
Wear, Hattie, and Clara now Mrs. Sanford. Six of
these are still living in this vicinity, three are in Mis-
souri, one in Iowa, and one in California. All married
except Hattie who lives with her mother and is still
single. Of those residing near here, the three men
Henry, Frank and Burke, are engaged in farming and
Reuben R. Debord died in 1891 at the age of
seventy-three, but his wife is still living — loved and
respected by her eleven children, thirty-three grand-
children and thirteen great-grandchildren. Her days
of activity perhaps are passed, but not her days of
usefulness, for as long as she lives she will be a help
and an inspiration to all who know her.
FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATION AT PRIXCEVILLE IN 1844 61
FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATION AT
PRINCEVILLE IN 1844.
Princeville Telephone, July 2, 1885.
Written by Mrs. Esther R. Auten.
This celebration was an impromptu affair, the first
we have any account of, and no preparation whatever
was made for it till that very morning. We will first
name the people who lived here then and describe the
town. AVm. C. Stevens, Benjamin Slane, Ashford
Nixon, Ebenezer Russell, Dr. Charles Cutter, Hiel
Bouton, Geo. McMillen, Sam'l Alexander, Seth Fulton,
and a few others were its sole inhabitants. The
Blanchard's, Auten 's and Bliss's w^ere here then, but
lived a few miles in the country. The Henry's, Mr.
Owens and George Hitchcock were not here as yet.
Mr. Stevens lived where he always did, north of the
public square. Mr. Russell lived where the American
House now stands. Dr. Cutter lived in a little red house
in the Hitchcock block. 'Squire Slane lived down South
of where the flouring mill stood. Hiel Bouton is the
only citizen now living who remains on the same old
place. North of the Stevens block.
All the children in the town and surrounding coun-
try went to school in a log cabin that stood in the edge
of the grove South and West of Daniel Hitchcock's
residence. When Mrs. Olive Cutter was teacher, there
were seventy scholars to pack away in it. Belle Russell
and Kate Clussman used to take classes out in the grove
and hear them recite under booths manufactured of
hickory, elm and oak boughs and saplings. Solomon
Cornwell was teacher at one time, and some large bad
boys, who had run two or three teachers off, commenced
their performances. One day he jerked one of them
up before the fire place, and said to him: "By the
gods, I'll throw you on that fire if you don't behave
yourself." The fellow was so thoroughly scared he
63 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
never gave any more trouble. The boys used to climb
tall, slim trees and bend them over for a swing. One
day they got hold of a stiff one. The boys slipped off,
and John McGinnis was thrown off in the air, landed
on a log, and came off with a broken thigh.
On this glorious Fourth the sun rose without a
cloud. People were astir early, as the men were going
to Peoria to a celebration there, and to hear a distin-
guished speaker whose name we failed to learn. At
about 7 :30 a. m. the four horse teams began to come in,
and in a few minutes some six or eight wagons were
loaded and started off for Peoria. The women and
children collected at the four corners North of Hitch-
cock's Hall to see them off, and as the procession rode
away and the good-byes were said, some one said :
''Why can't we have a celebration?" A consultation
was held immediately and the matter was soon decided.
Everyone promised to bring something for dinner, and
Mrs. Russell's large kitchen was selected as the place
to dine. Mrs. Sloan and Mrs. Wm. Coburn were sent
for a mile East of town, where they were neighbors,
to come and help celebrate. Children were sent West
of town to pick raspberries.
For a flag. Dr. Cutter, who was the only man left
in town, and the children manufactured one with
neither stripes nor stars, and nailed it to a fence post
near Russell's house.
The supplies began to come in at about one o'clock,
and dinner was served at two. There were ten or
twelve grown persons and about twenty-five children
present. The Doctor made a speech of congratulation
after dinner, and it was found that there were some
sixteen or eighteen varieties of food provided, and
enough was left to feed another company as large. The
afternoon was spent in having a social good time, and
instead of a day of loneliness, as might have been ex-
pected, it proved one that never has been forgotten by
those who participated in its pleasures.
LETTER FROM MRS. SARAH B. ANDREWS 63
LETTER FROM MRS. SARAH B. ANDREWS.
Hanford, Calif., Sept. 8, 1908.
To the Old Settlers Association of Princeville,
Having been invited by a member of your associa-
tion to write something of a reminiscent nature for this
meeting, I comply in the hope that the genuine love in
my heart for Princeville and Princevillians may atone,
in some measure, for the uninteresting manner in which
it may be written.
Born and reared within three miles of Princeville
and living there all my life, except the three years
spent in California, is it any wonder there is not and
never can be any other spot half so dear? My first
recollection of Princeville is going there one time with
my father and mother to attend a funeral. Aunt Susan
Debolt's mother's. I think I must have been five or six
years old at that time. I remember a very large and
crooked tree standing very near the road, about where
Lute Blanchard now lives, and bending so far over the
road, I thought it would surely fall upon us. I wonder
if anj" of the others remember that tree. It stood a
number of vears after that.
Also I remember of attending school in the old
stone school-house when Mrs. Dr. Cutter taught and
of the "scraps" we little girls used to have with Charlie
Cutter who was an inveterate tease ; also of attending
church in the same stone school-house. Later mem-
ories of the dear old Academy days with Prof. Stone
and wife, Prof. Means and others at the helm are still
cherished, and I think many of the Old Settlers will
never forget the old Methodist Church when in the
early Sixties so many of our best young men responded
so nobly to our country's call to arms; and then, too,
who of us could forget the sad, sad days which followed
when from the old Christian Church we paid our last
64 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
tribute of respect and honor to Capt. French, Charlie
Stevens, Charlie Alter and others.
Ah, those days were fraught with memories, never
to be forgotten, and although a good many decades
have passed since then they are ever fresh in our
memories, and will go with us thro life and help to
forge the chain which binds us so indissoluably to-
gether. I have so often wished the Old Settlers Picnic
Association might have been formed before w^e left for
California's sunny clime, but as it was not, we still
rejoice with you in the happiness which comes to you
through this medium and, in spirit, extend the "glad
hand" to each member of the Association. I see in the
last Telephone you have lost one member since your
last meeting; perhaps many more, I do not know of.
I speak of Maud Charles Hull for whom many of u«
cherish very tender memories.
Last winter a year ago, while in Spokane, Wash., I
had the pleasure of meeting with Morris Smith and his
good wife Emma and also Mr. Simpson. We talked
much of Princeville friends and of how we could enjoy
the Old Settlers Picnic. Also met young Dr. Hutchins,
Hannah Stevens Hutchins' son, and he read me his
mother's letter telling of the picnic as she was there.
These meetings with old friends in strange lands are
like the perfume of sweetest floAvers. The "Illinois
Contingency" in Hanford number 26 and are all well
and apparently happy. The oldest one, Grandma
Blanchard, who is almost 83, seems to be renewing her
youth, but often speaks longingly of the old home.
With best wishes for a pleasant time Sept. 17th, I
Sarah B. Andrews.
THE CHRISTIAN MILLER FAMILY 65
THE CHRISTIAN MILLER FAMILY.
By Louis Auten, 1908.
One of the largest families that ever made their
home in this neighborhood was the Miller family.
Christian Miller, born in Hamburg, Germany, came to
America when he was 16 years of age, and settled at
Hamptonsville, N. C. He was married to Araminta
Whitehead, of Irish descent. They made their home
in North Carolina for many years, and there were born
ten children. Katherine and Mary, who remained in
North Carolina ; and John, Daniel, James, Barbara,
Henry, Christian, Araminta, and Lydia, who moved
with their parents to Kentucky. Barbara was married
to a Mr. Brown, and remained in Kentucky, but the
rest of the family moved after 8 years to Illinois, stop-
ping a short time in Indiana. It was in the fall of 1837
that the Millers, 13 of them, reached Princeville town-
ship. They made the trip in two covered wagons, each
drawn by four horses. Besides their horses they
brought chickens from Kentucky, and eight milk cows,
and it is related that when crossing the Illinois River
on the ferry at Lacon one of the cows that had horns
forced a "mooley" cow off the ferry into the river,
but to the relief of the family she swam about a mile
and a half and landed safely far down the river.
Having left Kentucky to get land that was more open
for farming, but wanting plenty of water, and timber
sufficient for fencing, the family selected a site about
six miles northwest of Princeville for their home. As
they arrived late in the fall, they immediately built a
log cabin, on the farm that is at present owned by S.
A. Walkington, but which was until lately occupied
by Edgar Miller. They built fences, plowed the prai-
rie, and laid the foimdation for a future that would
be free from want. The first winter must have been a
hard one, because they could not have brought many
supplies with them, but the prairie furnished plenty of
66 HISTORY AND REMIXISCENCES
food for stock, and quail and deer were plentiful. In
fact, for several years, the family ate no meat except
game they killed. The head of the family was a tan-
ner by trade, probably having practiced it in Germany,
and dressed all the deer hides, making clothes for his
children, and having leather to sell besides. One win-
ter three of the boys made fence rails in White Oak,
walking six miles and back to their work every day.
They made 2000 rails in the winter and were paid with
rails, and provisions that had been hauled from Chi-
cago. For years there was no fruit in this part of the
country, and what w^as introduced at first was not of
In the meantime the children were marrying, and
raising families of their own on adjoining farms, which
they pre-empted and got from the government at $1.25
per acre. John, the oldest son, was married in North
Carolina and his three oldest children, Jacob L., Wil-
liam Logan, and Sally Ann, were born in Carolina.
After he came to Illinois other children were born, as
follows : Katherine, Cloe, Samuel, Mary, Hester and
Thomas. There are now living, 35 grand children of
this John Miller, and a great many more great grand-
children, though none of them are now in this neigh-
Daniel Miller had two daughters, and there are now
14 grandchildren of his. James had two sons who are
still living. John H., of Palmyra, Iowa, who adressed
the old settlers at the last picnic, James of Des Moines,
and a daughter Harriet who died a few years ago.
There are living eight grandchildren and fifteen great
grandchildren of James Miller.
Henry Miller was married in Cambridge to Miss
Lucinda Mills, who is also one of our old settlers, hav-
ing come to Illinois probably in 1829, though she did
not come to this vicinity until after she was married.
To them were born thirteen children, four of whom
died in infancy, but there are still living Nancy Fast.
James, Araminta Springer, Dan, Charles, John. Jacob,
Bell Stubbs and Steve. Mrs. Lucinda Miller is still
THE CHRISTIAN MILLER FAMILY 67
living, and is the proud mother of nine, grandmother of
seventeen, and great grandmother of fourteen. To
Christian Miller, Jr., were born Amanda, (Mrs. Bates),
who lives at Normal, 111., Edgar, who lives at Wyoming,
111., and Albert of Albion, Iowa. There are four grand-
The only child of Christian Miller, Sr., who is still liv-
ing is Araminta Shaw. She has eight children, one
of them Mrs. Nancy Westerfield, who lives near Dun-
can, 111. There are about 20 grandchildren.
The youngest member of this generation, Lydia Bliss,
had eight children, of whom Mrs. Anna Newlin lives in
Lovington, 111., and Mrs. Clarissa Kellogg lives in Peo-
ria, 111., and several of the others in Iowa. Thus it will
be seen that Christian Miller, Sr., had ten children
one of whom, Mrs. Araminta Shaw, is still living in
Kansas, 53 grandchildren Avho grew up, probably about
90 great grandchildren and certainly over a hundred
great great grandchildren w^ho are now living.
The restlessness and boldness which made the great
grandparents move to America, which made them move
with their family from North Carolina to Kentucky,
and later to Illinois, has made the younger members
move still farther west, so that the family has large
representations in Iowa, Missouri, California, Wash-
ington, and Oregon. The only ones that are left in
this vicinity are Daniel, Jacob, John, who has four
children, Mrs. Bell Stubbs, and Mrs. Araminta Springer,
all children of Henry Miller, and their cousin Edgar
Miller, child of Christian Miller, Jr., and who lives near
Wyoming and has two children.
There are buried in the Princeville Cemetery, Chris-
tian Miller, Sr., his wife, and four of their children ;
Christian, Henry, James and Lydia. And so, while
there is this great family cherishing memories of their
childhood homes in Princeville township, the old set-
tlers of Princeville cherish memories of those who had
such a large part in the settling of this township.
68 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
THE MOTT FAMILY.
By W. W. Mott and Louis Auten, 1908.
One of the few families that were in this community
when the village was laid out by Mr. Stevens, was that
of Mr. Oscar Fitzalen Mott. He was born in Erie
County, New York, in 1806, and was married at the age
of about 20 years to Deidamia Bump. He was a doctor
by profession, located in Boston, Erie Co., N. Y., and
built up such a large practice that he could not meet all
the demands upon his time and strength. As he wished
to get away from his work, and as he was naturally of
an adventuresome nature, he started in 1837 with his
wife and his two boys, Richard F. (age 8) and William
Washington (age 7) for the new West.
They reached Princeville in the fall of 1837, and for
some years made their home in a double log cabin
belonging to Daniel Prince, and situated in the ravine
Southwest of town, not far South of where the Higbee
coal mine is now. This cabin was built for a mill, and
in one-half of it were the mill stones and the power
wheel, but as Mr. W. W. Mott remembers it, the mill
was never used while they lived there. They kept a few
pigs and a cow or two, which sheltered themselves in
the mill part of the cabin. In this cabin were born
two boys, Oscar and Eugene, both of them dying in
The father practiced at his profession as there was
occasion, but most of his work was charity work ; he
took what pay his patients were willing to give. He
was an ''herb doctor," and was quite successful in the
treatment of the commoner diseases of his time, most
of which were known as "chills and fever." There
were other doctors not very far away, so he was not
kept busy at his practice, but spent the most of his
time "working out." As this left the boys without
much to do, Washington rented a few acres of ground
THE MOTT FAMILY 69
and farmed for liimself. His older brother was not
strong and did not do much heavy work.
After a few years residence in the donble log cabin,
the family moved to about a mile and a half South of
the present center of the village. Then in a year or
two more they bought 15 acres of land a mile South
and a few rods East from the present Postoffice corner.
In the meantime, a daughter, Josephine, was born
in 1847. She grew up to womanhood, and is well
remembered by many of those present. She often came
to town horseback, with butter and eggs, and always
went to the Seventh Day Adventist services w^hich were
held at the Santee residence (the old Merritt Home-
stead) just North of town, on Saturday afternoons.
In the 50 's, while Josephine was still a little girl, the
oldest son, Richard, went to California, and made his
home there until his death in 1876. This left only
the two parents and the two children at home, and the
death of the father in 1863 and of the mother in 1875,
left only the brother and sister, Washington and Jose-
phine. Both were unmarried, and together they kept
up their farm, four miles Southeast of town, until the
death of Josephine, which occurred in the fall of 1902,
a very short time after she had been married.
William Washington Mott has always been indus-
trious and careful, has been able to provide for his
needs, and content to do without luxuries. He has been
successful at farming and at bee culture, and has raised
some fruit for market. After the death of his sister
he lived alone at his farm for three years, but in 1905,
oppressed by loneliness and old age, he rented his farm
and moved to town, and now for the last three years he
has made his home in a little cottage not many rods
from the site of the double log cabin which was his
first Illinois home.
His life has been subject to many of the hardships
of pioneer times, yet, at the age of 78 years, he walks
up town nearly every day to talk over old times with
his old friends, or to tell his younger friends of those
times that now seem so far distant ; of the times when
70 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
the Indians though no longer a menace were still a
dreaded memory; when wheat was threshed by driving
horses over it and was fanned only by the wind, and
was hauled in Avagons to Chicago and exchanged for
lumber and supplies which were hauled back by
wagon; when the best of land could be bought for
$300.00 per quarter section ; when tiling was unknown,
and much of our best land was wet the whole year
round ; when all travel was by horseback, and when it
cost 25 cents to send a letter to New York. Life was
crude in those days — to us now it would seem unbear-
able — but men were men, and women were women, and
with their courage and energy and moral uprightness
they have laid the foundation for this great Middle
West of which the whole country is so proud.
THE ARMSTRONG FAMILY.
By Mrs. Rose C. Armstrong.
In the early part of the 19th century, May 6, 1819,
were united in marriage, one James Armstrong, son
of James and Margaret Armstrong, and Miss Mary
McCoy. They were the parents of six sons and three
daughters, namely; Joseph, born April 17, 1820; James.
Dec. 17, 1821 ; William. Sept. 8, 1823 ; Margaret, Sept.
19, 1825; Eliza, Dec. 17, 1827; Mary, Jan. 30, 1830;
John, Feb. 15, 1832; Martin, Dec. 18, 1834; Ebenezer.
June 22, 1836.
They bought a farm and by hard work and economy
had it nearly paid for when Mr. Armstrong was fatally
injured by a tree falling upon him and died May 22,
1837, leaving the wife and mother to provide for the
family, the youngest a babe of eleven months. Two
sons had preceded him. The business affairs were
placed in the hands of a relative who took six or seven
years to settle the estate and then took the farm for
his pay; thus leaving the family in very reduced cir-
THIC ARMSTRONG FAMILY 71
cumstances. All had to work and help along as soon
as they were able.
Joseph, the oldest son, was married to Martha
McNeal March 10, 1841, and moved to Ohio County,
W. Va., where he worked in a mill for his uncle, three
years, receiving only his flour to use as compensation,
the wife supplying the rest of the living by the pro-
ceeds from her cow, garden and chickens. Then feeling
competent to run a mill he hired to a wealthy widow, a
Mrs. Kruger, who owned a mill, and ran it for her nine
years, receiving the flour for family use, a hog to
butcher each year and a share of the bran, shorts, etc.,
with which Mrs. Armstrong fed her cows, pigs, and
chickens, continuing to be the main support of the
family while Joseph's wages remained in the hands of
Mrs. Kruger. When he had been there seven years
the lady owed him $970.00. She gave him a check on
the bank for $1000.00 and let him come West on condi-
tion that he buy a farm and then come back and stay
with her two years longer which he did. He came from
that mill to Peoria County in 1853, partly by railroad.
The rails were 2V2 inch wagon tire, spiked on sills and
laid on ties, and spiked or keyed down so the track
could not spread. Trains went slowly and were, per-
haps, as safe as trains are now.
He bought the farm where the rest of his life was
spent from Geo. Bestor, but could not find him when
ready to pay, so left his money with James Sutherland
of French Grove, who made the purchase for him. The
Sutherland's, Yates' and McCoy's came from Wash-
ington County, Pennsylvania, and Ohio County, Vir-
ginia, and were old acquaintances. He had intended
going to Iowa to buy but they persuaded him to buy
In those days there was a four horse stage run from
Peoria to Knoxville. On this he came from Peoria to
Brimfield and returned the same way. On the stage a
man from California showed him an eight cornered
$50.00 gold piece. Quite a curiosity.
73 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
In the month of February, 1855, John Armstrong
came from Washington County, Pennsylvania, with
four horses, making all the trip on horseback. The
mother with the rest of the family, excepting Joseph
and James, came from Wheeling by boat. There was
much ice running in the river and they had to tie up
nights. John reached here first. At a hotel he was
given a bed in which a typhoid patient had died, and
was coming down with the fever when he met the rest
with a team and wagon in Peoria. They managed to
take him as far as Brimfield where he lay sick at a hotel
for a long time, his mother staying to care for him
while the rest went on three miles farther where they
rented a place. When John was able to be moved they
went home, but Mrs. Armstrong had contracted the
disease and died three days later, April 29, 1855, and
was laid to rest in the French Grove Cemetery.
During that summer Joseph had a small 1% story
house built on his place and the family moved in in
September before the house was finished. A month
later Joseph came with his own family, having sent
goods to Peoria by boat and moved the family in a
wagon. They all lived in this small house that winter.
In the spring of '56 the rest moved to the Lem Camp
farm, leaving Joseph and his family in their own home.
They lived on the Camp farm three years, John and
Ebenezer running the farm, Margaret keeping house,
while Eliza and Mary became a couple of the pioneer
school teachers of Peoria County, teaching some years
in the vicinity of Brimfield and in Princeville Town-
ship. While not busy with the farm work John and
Ebenezer worked at the carpenter trade. With the
help of a Mr. Anderson, they built a house where Mr.
Abe Miller now lives and moved into it, living there
three years. They built the house on the West half
of Joseph's quarter, the mason work being done by
Into this house they moved, having the use of some-
thing over an acre of ground for a garden. Here they
made their home for many years, going forth one by one
THE ARMSTRONG FAMILY 73
till only Margaret and the waif she had given a home
to since she was a baby five months old, were left and
three years ago last April they moved to Monica that
they might be near enough to a church to attend
Speaking of the early days when this family came
to Illinois, Joseph, or Squire Armstrong, as he was gen-
erally called, said the prairie South and West of his
house was pretty much open and that towards Prince-
ville was only about half fenced. They were obliged to
burn the grass about the house in fear of prairie fires.
There were Oliver Moody, B. Hare and James Debord
on the road and Bob Garrison about the middle of Mill-
brook. He, Garrison, came very poor but there was
plenty of pasture and by raising stock he became very
wealthy. The Carter's each had a quarter worth about
The fences were mostly posts driven in the ground
with a wooden drop hammer on which were nailed
three poles. Timber was hard to get and he had to
haul his first nine miles. Peoria and Oak Hill were the
markets in those days.
The first school in the White's Grove district was a
little board shanty on the farm where Henry DeBord
now lives. There was no church nearer than French
Grove. Later there was one at Princeville. After the
second school house was built, there were meetings
there sometimes. The present school house is the third
As Mrs. Jos. Armstrong began so she continued and
because of her thrift and economy the income from
farm products was largely left to use in buying more
land and improving the same. She died March 3, 1877,
at the age of 59 years. After her death her daughters
nobly filled her place.
Squire Armstrong took an active interest in town-
ship affairs and held the office of supervisor for 18 years
and that of Justice of the Peace for 24 years. He
was a great lover of peace, and having seen the folly
of litigation in his mother's home, he would settle dif-
74 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
ficulties when possible without allowing them to come
to trial. While not bound to any church he early
learned to love his Bible and always stood ready to help
any righteous cause both financially and by his influ-
ence. He lived to the ripe age of nearly 83 years and
died January 9, 1903, esteemed and beloved by all who
There were eleven children, four sons and seven
daughters. One son died in infancy. Mary married
Allen McMillen and lived near Wichita, Kansas, and
died last November. Joseph died June 7, 1879. James
married Katie Parnell and lives near Bondville, Cham-
paign County, Illinois. Lucretia, wife of James Parrish,
lives near Shenandoah, Iowa. Isabella, first wife of
Jas. Parrish, died Aug. 11, 1886. Ellen, wife of Jackson
Leaverton, lives at White's Grove. William married
Rose C. Haller, died March 2, 1904. Rosalie lives in
Shenandoah, Iowa. Martha, wife of John Squire, lives
near Monica, and Jennie, wife of Chas. Blank, lives
near Coin, Iowa. There are 39 grandchildren and 20
James Armstrong, the second son of James and
Mary McCoy Armstrong, did not settle in Illinois but
went farther West where he was lost track of for 21
years. Then he was discovered by the late Hugh Roney,
his great resemblance to Squire Armstrong making
Mr. Roney stop and question him. He started a foundry
in Maryville, Mo., which his second son William still
runs. He died several years ago. There are three
Eliza married Sanford M. Whittington, May 22,
1857, who owned the farm now owned by Henry
DeBord. He later sold this and after living in Prince-
ville and vicinity a while, they moved to Blandinsville,
111., where she died July 5, 1878. She was the mother
of six daughters, four of whom survived her. Mary,
now Mrs. Will Schaad of Merna, Neb., Sarah, now Mrs.
Fred DeBord of Maitland, Mo., Clara, wife of Ben Mil-
ler of Broken Bow, Neb., and Ida, wife of Henry Sim-
mons, of this place.
THE ARMSTRONG FAMILY 75
John Armstrong married Louisa Walliker July 4,
1863, and lived on a farm near Spoon River, which was
a wedding present to his wife by her father. After
living here some years, they moved to a farm five miles
East of Maryville, Mo., where they still live with their
oldest son and daughter who are unmarried, and three
small grandchildren. One son is a widower and one
son and three daughters are dead.
Ebenezer taught school a number of years, was in
the 86th regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and
served in the Civil War. He married Martha Walliker
Oct. 30, 1866. Bought a farm with the money saved
from his army pay and built a house on it with the
money his wife received as a wedding present from
her father. This is the farm now owned by John Squire
where Robt. Ellison lives. John's farm was just West
of it. He later became a Baptist minister and preached
several years at White's Grove and Kickapoo. They
sold the farm and in February, 1886, moved to a farm
near Larned, Kansas, and later to Hutchinson, Kansas.
He continued to i)reach as long as his health would
permit. He died Jan. 30, 1903, leaving his wife and six
sons and three daughters. Three sons and one daugh-
ter are married.
During the time of the Civil War, when merchandise
sold at fabulous prices, Margaret, better known as
*'Aunt Pegg3%" and Mary conceived the idea of raising
flax and preparing it for cloth themselves, which they
did, spun and wove it. For years after this they carded
and spun avooI and wove it into blankets and wove rag
carpets, till they were known all over the Northern
part of Peoria County and beyond its limits. They
gave some time every day to the reading of Scripture
and singing of hymns, and were faithful workers in
church and Sunday school. Two more earnest, whole-
some, God fearing women than they, it would be hard
to find. Always giving liberally of all their substance,
their wealth is that which is laid up in heaven.
Mary became a member of the Monica Woman's
Christian Temperance Union when it was organized and
76 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
was an effective worker there till she moved away.
AVhen in the vigor of their womanhood no call for help
in time of sorrow or sickness was ever unheeded and
this was kept up as long as they were able to go.
On March 6, 1896, Mary married "Wm. Mann of near
Beatrice, Neb. They were each 66 j^ears old. They
lived together happily for ten years when he was called
hence. A few years previously they had moved into
Beatrice where she still lives, a blessing to the commun-
ity, still giving of her substance as faithfully as of
yore, and enjoying, in a greater measure than most do,
a simple trust in and nearness to the Heavenly Father
and His Divine Son. Surely the world is better because
Margaret and Mary Armstrong have lived in it. Aunt
Peggy is now 83, Aunt Mary 78 and Uncle John 76
years old. ''The fear of the Lord prolongeth days."
THE LAWRENCE McKOWN FAMILY.
By Mrs. Eliza Bouton and H. J. Cheesman, 1908.
Lawrence McKown and his wife, Cynthia White
McKown, first came to Princeville about 1830, but on
account of homesickness, soon returned to Rockville,
Indiana, whence they had come. In 1833, their daugh-
ter Eliza then being two years old, they returned to
Princeville and brought with them Mrs. McKown 's
parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hugh White, who settled in
Northwest Princeville. The McKown 's, after staying a
little while in Northwest Princeville, built their first
cabin in one of the ravines just East of the Jubilee
road, near the present ''Santa Fe Arch." This is the
first home that their daughter Eliza remembers. Hugh
McKown was born here in 1835. Next they built a
small cabin on the land of James Morrow, near the
"Hitchcock Pond." In this second home Levi McKown
was born in 1838. This house, south of the "Hitchcock
THE LAWRENCE MC KOWN FAMILY 77
Pond" ravine, was built and the McKown's were living
in it some years before the Slane family built near them,
and before the school house was erected on the site
where later stood Hitchcock & Voris' mill. Although
living close to school, Mrs. Eliza Bouton says the
"Hitchcock Pond" ravine was often so full of water
that it was "pretty tough walking and wading to get
to school." It was a "subscription" school, and her
father paid tuition for the privilege of sending his chil-
dren. The first teacher was Miss Esther Stoddard and
the second was another Miss Stoddard, sister of the
first. Next was Mr. Solomon Cornwell, remembered
by his pupils because of his severity. This log school
house, just Southeast of where the Rock Island depot
now stands, was very small and when the scholars
all stood up to spell they reached around the four sides
of the room.
Mrs. Bouton 's first recollection of the present site
of Princeville was that people used to come up from
Jubilee way to pick blackberries and hazelnuts where
the town now stands.
In 1840, Mr. McKown and family moved to Missouri.
Here he lost his wife in 1842, and he brought the chil-
dren back to Illinois. His moving disposition took him
away again, this time to Texas, where he stayed, leav-
ing the children here to grow up with their cousins, the
Whites and the Morrows. He returned once about
1875, and again a few months before his death at the
home of his daughter, Mrs. Bouton, in 1891.
Eliza McKown was married to Alanson Bouton on
Jan. 5, 1854. Mr. Bouton died July 3, 1868, and their
only child. Miss Minnie, still lives at home with her
Amanda McKown married Isaac Crowe and now
lives in Toulon, 111. ; her children are : Wm. Crowe of
Iowa, Mrs. Ella Moss of Jubilee and Mrs. Jennie Smith
Hugh McKown married Lizzie Bouton on March 29,
1864, and died April 8, 1874. Their children are Mrs.
78 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
Lena Miller; Emma (deceased) ; Alanson B., living in
Iowa; Mrs. Lois Beall and Mrs. Stella Graves.
Levi McKown married Jane German, and they now
live at Elmwood, 111. Their children are : Mrs. Allie
Carter, William, Lewis, Albert, Bessie, Frank, Edith
Mary McKown married Hiram Bronson. both of
them now dead ; a daughter, Mrs. Clara Archibald, is
living in Iowa, and a son, Mark, went to the Philippines
some years ago and has not been heard from.
Cynthia McKown married Malchiah Mendell and
she is still living in Kansas, although now critically ill.
She has six children : Mrs. Mary Gadberry of Russell.
Kan. ; Mrs. Ida Bowman of Moran, Kan. ; Luther A. of
Gorham, Kan. ; Elza H. of Russell, Kan. ; Mrs. Arzella
C. Howard of Ft. Scott, Kan., and Iva L. of Russell,
Kan. (Mrs. Mendell died April 18, 1911, and was
buried in the Russell cemetery.)
Mrs. Bouton is probably the oldest original settler
now in this locality. She remembers the building of
the first school house, the coming of the Slane family
from Kickapoo, also the coming of the Blanchards, the
coming of Mr. Stevens, the building of the first Morrow
store, the staking out of the original village in 1837, the
building of the first Presbyterian Church, where Chees-
man Bros.' store now stands, and has been familiar
with practically all of Princeville 's history. She also
remembers the starting of the cemetery out on the
Northwest hill, and can tell of the burials in the South
woods for a few years before that. There were many
hardships during these early years that the people of
to-day know nothing about ; but along with the hard-
ships there were many pleasant happenings. Best of
all was the old spirit of hospitality and ever readiness
to help friends.
PRINCEVIIvLE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH 79
PRINCEVILLE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Account as Published in Princeville Telephone Aug. 19,
Seventy-fifth Anniversary — Presbj^terian Church Cele-
brates Mile-stone in Its History — Two Day's
Program Greatly Enjoyed by All Present.
As announced and planned for months past, the
Presbyterian Church of Princeville, celebrated on Sun-
day and Monday of this week the seventy-fifth anni-
versary of its organization as '* Prince's Grove Church"
in 1834. Nearly 500 programs and announcements had
been mailed to as many present and former members
of the church. Large audiences attended all of the
services on Sunday as well as the afternoon meeting,
supper on the law^n, and organ recital on Monday.
Rev. Wiles' sermon Sunday morning was an his-
torical sketch of the church which is printed in full
below. In the evening Rev. Brown, the M. E. church
joining in Union services, gave a sermon on Joshua
4:6, "What mean ye by these stones?" In the Sunday
School, reminiscent talks were given on the first start-
ing of the Sunday School, and the earliest superintend-
ents and teachers, as well as the more recent ones.
The choir Sunday morning was reinforced by a num-
ber of old time singers of the church. In the evening,
a chorus rendered Schnecker's setting of the 97th Psalm
as a Cantata, preceding Rev. Brown's address.
The Monday afternoon session was perhaps the one
most enjoyed by the old members, and the most helpful
to the younger ones. After listening to a few letters
from former pastors and friends at a distance, those
present spoke in an informal way about the early times,
giving their recollections about the old building, the
first pastors, and the leading members. There were
exhibited at this and the other meetings the first session
80 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
book of the church, sermons by Revs. Cameron and
Cunningham, a pulpit Bible, presented to the church
in 1849, some boards from the first frame church build-
ing, and a picture of the wife of the first pastor. The
fact was brought out at this meeting that the church is
older than the village ; and that before there were
public schools here the church took a very active part
It was inspiring for the young members to hear at
first hand of the greater reverence of those earl.y times ;
of the loyalty and generosity of the members; and of
the intense devotion of the pastors.
For the supper and social on the lawn, a more ideal
day could not have been hit upon, and the happy spirit
of the large number in attendance was in harmony with
the ideal weather conditions. The large tables were
seated to their capacity four times in succession, about
280 being served.
Monday evening's recital was a rare treat in a
musical way. Miss Edith Campbell of Peoria rendering
among other selections, Schubert's Serenade, the Pil-
grim's Chorus, and an arrangement of the Hallelujah
Chorus. Mrs. Chas. Whitney, Soprano, and Mr. How-
ard Kellogg, Tenor, both of Peoria, rendered several
solos and duets. Miss Campbell's mastery of the organ
was especially enjoyed by her Princeville friends.
HISTORICAL SKETCH OF PRINCEVILLE
Written for the Occasion of Seventy-fifth Anniversary,
Aug. 15-16, 1909, by Rev. Max Wiles.
It is my purpose to try to sketch the history of this
church since its organization. I can, of course, men-
tion but single incidents in each succeeding period, for
to go into anything of detail one could write volumes.
The church has retained an unbroken historv since its
PRINCEVII.LE PRESBYTERIAX CHURCH 81
beginning. Early members have come and gone but
the work abides. Like the Children of Israel when they
carried with them the Ark and the tables of stone, so
each succeeding generation has preserved the records
of the deeds of the fathers. As this anniversary service
proceeds on into tomorrow, the aged veterans of the
pioneer days can supply much of the detail which of
necessity is lacking here.
Let us together open the book of time and turn the
pages back to seventy-five years ago. In the first ses-
sion book of the church on page one under the heading
"Prince's Grove, August 16, 1834," we have the record
of the first meeting of the church. I will read the
account as there recorded :
''Agreeably to a request made by a number of pro-
fessors of religion of the Presbyterian church in this
settlement, the Rev. Robert Stewart met them ; and
after sermon by Rev. Theron Baldwin, the following
individuals came forward and presented testimonials
of their good standing as church members, and were
voluntarily formed into a church, to be known by the
name of "Prince's Grove Presbyterian Church." The
names of those who united with the church were :
Jonathan E. Garrison, Hugh White, James Morrow,
Thomas Morrow, Samuel R. AVhite, John F. Garrison,
Mary A. Garrison, Elinor Morrow, Jane Morrow,
Elizabeth A. Morrow% Jane White, Mary A. Peet,
Elizabeth Prince, Mary White, ]\Iartha Morrow, John
Miller, and Dosha Miller — seventeen in all. As far as
we are able to discover, none of these charter members
The present generation will find it hard to even
imagine the scene of this early organization. This
meeting was no doubt held in a log school house, sit-
uated some place East of the Rock Island railroad
The Black Hawk war of 1832 had closed and while
the Indians were leaving, the settlers were arriving.
These broad acres now covered with crops of grain,
were then covered with prairie grass, blue-stem, rosin
82 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
weed, red root and sumac. The timber was skirted
with patches of hazel brush, blackberry and gooseberry
bushes. Frequently herds of deer could be seen in the
edge of the hills. Along Spoon river, where we now
go fishing in safety, except for the mosquitoes, there
were herds of deer numbering one hundred fifty, also
wildcats, IjTQxes, numbers of prairie wolves, coyotes
and big gray timber wolves.
Log houses were few in number and with some
exceptions widely separated. These settlers built their
homes in the timber on some small clearing near the
creek. The markets were then Peoria, Lacon, Chilli-
cothe and Chicago. Trips were made to these different
places with ox teams, hauling wheat to exchange for
lumber, salt and clothing. Such was something of the
environments surrounding these early church men.
At the conclusion of this first meeting the church
extended an invitation to the Kev. Calvin W. Babbitt
to take charge of the work as stated supply. Rev. Mr.
Babbitt accepted and served the church a little more
than one year. The record speaks well of his minis-
The next minister was the Rev. George G. Gill, who
supplied the pulpit, preaching every third Sabbath.
During this pastorite, the Rev. Mr. Hill of the M. E.
church supplied the pulpit on several occasions.
In the year 1843 the Rev. Robert Breese became
pastor and supplied the field of Rochester and Prince-
ville, residing a part of the time in Princeville and the
remainder in Rochester. Mr. Breese 's labors covered
the period between 1843 and 1851. In 1844 the first
frame structure was built on the site now occupied by
Cheesman Bros.' store.
Thomas Morrow, Erastus Peet and Samuel R.
White, besides others, each hauled a load of lumber
from Chicago, some of them with ox teams. This was
Rev. Mr. Breese 's first and only pastorate. He fell
asleep in 1851 and lies buried in our village cemetery.
His grave is marked by a headstone of Italian marble
on which is the inscription, "The graves of all His
PRINCEVILLE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH 83
Saints be blest." ''They rest from their labors and
their works do follow them."
It is fitting to speak at this point of the material
help given in building this first church by Mr. Wm. C.
Stevens, the founder of Princeville. He gave the lot
with a clear title and no reservations. He gave liberally
and generously of time and money. He gave plaster
material that had been hauled from Chicago for his
own house and then lived in his own house three years
without plastering; this that the church might be made
comfortable the sooner. His teams went to Chicago
twice and he furnished the lumber that they brought
back. When money was hard to collect he helped fur-
nish it at a sacrifice and waited until it could be paid
back. It was his heart's desire to see a good church
established in the community and he entered into the
work heart and soul.
After the death of Mr. Breese, the Rev. Robert
Cameron was called, who labored most diligently on
the field until 1857, when he likewise was called away
by death. Robert Cameron was the father of Auntie
Cameron who has reached the ripe age of 84 years and
is patiently waiting her summons home. Rev. Robert
Cameron was much beloved and very highly esteemed
by the church and by his ministerial brethren. He
frequently contributed able papers to the religious
periodicals published in his day. He died happily in
the Lord after a faithful ministry covering a period of
nearly forty years. His grave is also with us, marked
by a headstone of white marble erected by the church
to his memory. The church has one of his sermons on
file. It was delivered possibly during the year 1855 ;
the text is Matthew 5:8, ''Blessed are the pure in
heart, for they shall see God."
Following Mr. Cameron the Rev. George Cairns and
Rev. J. M. Stone as stated supply, each had a part in
caring for the flock, during the time the church was
without a regular pastor.
This brings us down to the time of the out-break of
the Civil War. I find on record that the church met
84 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
together during these troublesome times and by a
unanimous voice expressed their loyalty to the govern-
In 1863 Rev. William Cunningham, after serving
one year as chaplain in the army, came to Illinois and
preached at Prospect church (now known as Dunlap)
during the summer. In October he was invited to take
charge of the Princeville church, which invitation he
accepted, serving the church until 1870. During the
first part of his ministry he also taught in the Academy ;
later he severed his connection with the Academy and
give all his time and talents to his ministerial duties.
In the winter of 1865-6 the church passed through a
season of reviving and quickening. A large number
confessed their faith in Christ and united with the
church. As a result of this ingathering, plans were laid
for the erection of the second church building. These
plans they were able to carry out and the main audi-
torium of this building in which we are gathered was
built and dedicated. The women of the church were
not lacking in this pioneer spirit. Through their efforts
they were able to contribute $1000.00 to the building
These were notable years. A revival, a new^ house
of worship, a regularly installed pastor and his salary
increased $200.00. Just here an event takes place in
the history of the church which cast a cloud over the
noonday splendor of its future. It was in the year 1867,
the pastor was married to the beautiful and accom-
plished Miss Laura Aldrich. Much was hoped from
this union. But Providence had other ways and plans.
In two months after their wedding she was buried in
the village cemetery, the victim of a sad accident. The
pastor, under this heavy blow, felt that he could no
longer carry on the work and so requested the church
and Presbytery to unite with him, dissolving the re-
In 1871, the Rev. Arthur Rose was called, who
served the church until 1877. Many present this morn-
ing can follow the history here, and for lack of time
PRINCEVIU.E PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH 85
it will be necessary to note only special events. The
church had to contend against a shifting population
which caused the attendance and membership to rise
and fall in point of numbers. The rise in the value of
land in Illinois and the inviting openings in the West
was the cause of this unrest.
In 1881, Rev. Samuel R. Belville was called to the
pastorate and served the church until 1886. During
this period the benevolences of the church were carried
out systematically, all the boards of the church being
remembered with gifts. The work of the Sunday school
began to be pushed ahead with greater vigor.
Rev. Chas. M. Taylor came into the pastorate in
1887 and carried on the work until 1896. During the
years 1894 and 1895 the church reached its highest
mark in point of membership and benevolences. The
membership numbered 210 and the Sunday school 238.
(All will understand that the church keeps revising its
roll and only the names on the active list are counted
Succeeding Mr. Taylor the Rev. D. A. K. Preston
served the church for one year as stated supply.
This brings us to the pastorate of Rev. Chas. T.
Phillips, whose services cover the period from 1897
to 1903. During this time a large number were added
to the church upon confession of faith. Dr. Robert F.
Henry, w^ho had served the church as ruling Elder for
over 40 years, passed away. Dr. Henry often rep-
resented the Peoria Presbytery at Synod and had the
honor of being sent to the General Assembly on two
different occasions. At his death he was teacher of
the famous ''infant class." The story of this notable
class has been told all over the nation. Fourteen there
were whose ages aggregated more than 1000 years.
Rev. Mr. Phillips speaks of the inspiration it gave him
to see those gray heads reverently bent over the sacred
page, every word of which to them was God-breathed.
This brief sketch closes with the faithful service ren-
dered by Rev. Amos A. Randall and the beginning of
the present pastorate, 1908.
86 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
I could not begin to speak of the industry, the self
sacrifice, the consecration of these early days. In
God's great Book of Life it is all recorded.
The church early adopted the plan of Rotary Elder-
ship. This gave a number of different laymen the op-
portunity to serve. The oldest elder in point of years
and also of service is Elder Geo. Eowcliffe, who took
his office in 1870. Mr. Lemuel Auten was a colleague of
Mr. Rowcliffe's. (Mr. Auten has since taken his church
letter to our sister denomination at Monica.) Elijah
Tracy and Byron H. "Wear also served in the office of
eldership for a number of years. G. W. Rowcliffe has
been honored by being re-elected to this office a num-
ber of times. John M. Yates, who comes from an illus-
trious family of church goers, is serving his first term
on the Board. C. J. Cheesman, w^ho is a colleague of
Mr. Yates, also holds the office of superintendent of
Sunday school. This is his specialty, having been in
this work as leader since 1889. The Board of Trustees
composed of Mr. Peter Auten, Bruce Henry and G.
W. Rowcliffe come in for their share of praise. They
are contempling larger things in the way of improve-
ments and building.
The church treasurer is Mr. Henry J. Cheesman,
whose exemplary care of the church funds deserves
great praise. In his honesty and fidelity he is a man
after our own heart.
POINTS OF LOCAL INTEREST
We have five members who are well past four score
years : Miss Agnes Cameron, Mrs. Eliza Barr, Martin
Luther Bingham, Mrs. Jane Smith and Mr. J. T. Albert-
son. All these will soon join the church triumphant.
Tradition tells us that Mr. Hugh Morrow and Mrs.
Eliza Bouton were two of the children present with
their parents in that famous meeting in 1834.
The one to whom the honor is ascribed of being the
oldest member in point of church membership is Mrs.
Hugh Morrow, she having joined in 1854 and remain-
PRINCEVILLE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH 87
ing in constant communion of the church for fifty-five
Mr, Edward Auten and his brother, Lemuel, united
six months after Mrs. Morrow. The beloved Mrs. Dr.
Henry was also a member of this class. Mrs. Henry
joined the church above within the last year.
Many more things might be mentioned and will be
told as we go on through the services of this day and
God has verified His promise to His church. Through
summer's heat and winter's cold He has kept this vine
alive. Though dry and parched it became at times,
he watered it with the dews of Divine Grace and again
it has sprung into new life. And now, after seventy-
five years of growth, its protecting branches cover a
multitude. With peace within and without our bor-
ders, this church stands as a center of radiating blessed-
ness, cheering, sweetening, purifying and saving the
souls of men.
The last year witnessed the largest number gathered
into the church in any single year. In benevolences
this last year we stand second only to the banner year.
Firmly believing in the worthiness of this church
and of the community's present-day need of it, I sum-
mon all to a new consecration. As has been so well
said by a wise Educator, "The iron of the fathers is in
us," let that iron brace us for the new day and the new
duties. The beauty of the fathers is in us, too. Let
that beauty make us loving and winsome. Our mission
is not yet accomplished. Here the church stands beau-
tiful for situation, the choicest building site in the vil-
lage. May we be a joy to the entire community. It
can be truly said that prayers rise continually like
sweet incense to the very throne of God in behalf of
Think of the heavenly scenes witnessed at this altar.
Innocent babes in their parents' arms receiving the
Sacrament of Baptism ; children, youths and older ones
reverently taking upon themselves the vows of mem-
bership, and gathering at the table of their Lord. And
88 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
then how often and especially within the last year,
when the cloud of sorrow concealed the brightness of
the sun, have we gathered within these sacred walls to
be comforted by the service in which the last sacred
rites were administered to those whom we love.
My friends, this church, this place, has grown to
become a part of us, our interest, our work, our very
life. May it be that our adorable Master may always
find this church answering the deepest yearnings of His
Heart as we go on in His name changing darkness into
light and sin into Salvation.
HISTORY OF PRINCEVILLE M. E. CHURCH.
Princeville Telephone, Sept. 30, 1909.
AVritten by Milton Wilson.
Rev. N. J. Brown has just put out a booklet among
his people and the friends of the church in which is
contained a concise historical sketch of the Princeville
M. E. church from early times, written by Mr. Milton
Wilson of Princeville. We think this sketch worthy to
be reproduced in our columns, with some additions,
which space did not permit to be produced in the book-
In attempting to write a history of the M. E. church
of Princeville, the writer is confronted with the fact
that there are no records to w^hich reference can be
made, no memorandum or data as a helper, consequent-
ly has to depend wholly upon tradition prior to the
autumn of 1848, for material for such histor3^
About the year 1836 there came from the State of
New York to this place, Rev. John Hill, a local minis-
ter of the M. E. church. Soon after his arrival, he and
his rather numerous family of sons and daughters set-
tled on land now owned in part by Stephen Hoag.
''Father Hill," as he was familiarly called, was a very
conscientious and faithful man, highly esteemed by all
HISTORY OF PRINCEVILLE M. E. CHURCH 89
who knew him. He soon began to gather in at his humble
home the ''lost sheep" — immigrants who had formerly
been members of the M. E. church at places of their
nativity and were now scattered over a sparsely settled
country with no previous opportunity of returning to
the "fold." Services were rather infrequent and in-
formal. In due time they became regularly organized
and became a part of a six weeks' circuit, supplied by
a regular minister. Services were held first in Aunt
Jane Morrow's log cabin, and then for a number of
years in a small log school house, situated about thirty
rods southeast of the present site of the C. R. I. & P.
depot, where they continued to worship for a number
of yeai*s. In the year 1846 the stone building now
occupied by the Misses Margaret and Arilla Riel was
erected for school purposes. The Board of Directors
very generously tendered its use to all religious de-
nominations, including the M. E. church, for religious
services when not needed for school purposes.
At this time the circuit had narrowed to a four
weeks' itinerary, including Kickapoo, Brimfield, Roch-
ester, now Elmore, and Princeville. The ministers who
served under Conference appointment prior to the fall
of 1848, were Rev. Messrs. Pitner, Whitman, Gumming,
Hill, Beggs, Applebee, Grundy and Gaddis. The lay-
men at that time and for a few subsequent years who
were the most active and faithful workers, have all en-
tered into rest. They were : Messrs. Martin, Russell,
Ayling, McMillen, Hare and Hoag.
At the Annual Conference held in the fall of 1848,
two young, unmarried ministers were appointed to the
circuit, both of whom very wisely secured "help meets"
during the year. Under their ministrations the church
prospered in every respect. Its numerical strength
largely increased by the inflow of immigration. In the
early "fifties" the junior preacher under appointment,
known as the "bachelor preacher," well educated and
able in discourse, attracted attention by a certain eccen-
tricity. He seemed to have such intense concentration
of thought while preaching as to be oblivious to sur-
90 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
rouudings. Also he seemed to possess an unlimited
supply of handkerchiefs and to have a mania for their
use. Beginning his sermon he would soon produce a
handkerchief from a pocket and lay it on the desk.
After a little another would make its appearance. Then
another and another, until from four to six handker-
chiefs would be in sight, no two alike in style or color.
It was a query among the young people, to whom this
was very funny, where he found room on his person for
such a consignment of linen.
In the spring of 1853 the class decided they would
have a house of worship of their own. Building was
begim on Lots 1 and 2, Block 16, now owned by Mrs.
M. J. Adams, but the structure was not completed until
the following year owing to scarcity of money. The
writer does not remember that there was any formal
dedication service at its opening. From this date there
was a gradual growth in church interests, with lapses
at intervals, of spiritual life. During one of these lat-
ter a Quarterly Meeting day arrived. It was late in
the autumn and the weather was chilly. The time was
Saturday afternoon. About twenty persons were pres-
ent, and as the Presiding Elder, a nervous man. came in
he glanced at the fireless stove. As he walked up the
aisle he took note of the accumulated dirt and dust in
nook and corner. Presently an aged sister secured a
broom and began sweeping. The Elder looked quickly
from where he was sitting and said, ''Don't, sister.
Never sweep the room after the table is set. ' ' The good
old lady, greatly abashed, set the broom back in its rest-
ing place and sat down. The Elder then picked up a
heavy shawl w^hich he usually wore in cold weather,
and drawing it around his thin shoulders with the top
reaching to the crown of his head, took his place be-
hind the pulpit and throwing his head back, eyes closed
and arms folded, began singing, ''Come, Thou Fount
of every blessing." The whole scene was so amusing
that religious sentiment, for the time, was barred.
August, 1858, is remembered as the "great revival
year." A Camp Meeting was held in the grove on tlie
HISTORY OF PRINCEVILLE M. E. CHURCH 91
farm of Jacob Hoag, and the meeting was one of great
spiritual power. The number of conversions was large.
But anxiety was not absent during that meeting. Late
in the afternoon, on Sunday, information came to the
ministers that some disorderly fellows from a distant
neighborhood were coming in the evening to create a
disturbance and ''break up the meeting." The minis-
ters at once entered into consultation as to necessary
steps taken for protection as well as defense. About
this time two or three young men of the immediate
neighborhood went around to where the ministers were
in consultation and said to them that they were not pro-
fessed christians, but believed in defending religious
assemblages in their rights, and for them to have no
further thought or anxiety about the matter, as they
were fully organized to take care of the "Spoon River
gang" if they made any attempt to disturb the meet-
ing. This was soon communicated to the "gang" when
they very wisely decided that "discretion is the better
part of valor" and hastily left the grounds.
AnotlTer incident : A' young fellow came into the
evening service and took a seat on the side of the aisle
assigned to the ladies. Presiding Elder Richard Haney
immediately went back and said to him kindly that
perhaps he was unaware of the custom of the church,
that the males sit on one side of the aisle and the fe-
males on the opposite side, and asked him kindly if he
would please be seated on the men's side. He looked
up defiantly in the face of the elder and replied, "I
guess not." "I guess you will," said the elder, and
quickly grabbing his coat collar with his left hand and
with his right getting a very convenient grip on his
trousers, lifted him bodily across the aisle, setting him
down, not very tenderly, with the remark, "Now sit
here and behave yourself, or fare worse." He did,
never stirring from his enforced place of seating dur-
ing the entire service, only occasionally glancing in the
direction of the athletic preacher.
Just before the closing of the meeting the local offi-
ciary said they felt that the church had been so greatly
92 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
blessed spiritually, in accessions and in membership,
that Princeville was able to support a pastor alone and
at the Annual Conference a few weeks later Princeville
became an independent charge. Rev. ]Millsap being the
first appointed pastor. The church under the new ar-
rangements began and continued to prosper along all
lines until the beginning of the War of the Rebellion.
And notwithstanding the cloud of gloom and sorrow
that hung over the church during those trying years of
the war, there seemed to be no abatement in spiritual
feeling or church interests, though depleted in its male
members and outside attendance at its services by rea-
son of so many having volunteered and gone to the
front. There were very few homes not represented in
the service by a husband, father, son or brother. In
1861 and 1862, Rev. Ahab Keller was the preacher in
charge. He was knoT^ni as the "fighting parson."
With him, at that time, no sermon was complete and
well rounded out that was lacking in patriotic utter-
After the close of the war and the return of the sol-
diers, the church took a new life and increased interest
in its advancement and work, the outside attendance
at the services being greatly increased. These condi-
tions continued to grow and increase until the spring
of 1868, when the question of building a new and larger
church edifice began to be agitated, there not being
room enough in the old building for the increased mem-
bership and the increasing numbers in church attend-
ance. The matter soon took form and the preliminary
work began. It was completed and formally dedicated
in the month of September, the same year, by Rev. L. B.
Kent, Presiding Elder of Peoria District. Thus after
twenty years in occupancy of the first church building,
they became occupants of the new structure. The
building is now knowai as the "old Academy." For an
even twenty years this building continued to be occu-
pied as a house of worship. During all these j^ears
peace and harmony generally prevailed within the
sacred walls. One sad thought lingers in memory — of
HISTORY OF PRINCEVILLE M. E. CHURCH 93
the scores who worshiped at its altar and attended upon
its services who have passed to the other shore. But in
nearly every case the passing was a triumphant one.
In the year 1889 the present church edifice was
erected and formally dedicated on Sunday, September
15th, of the same year.
Since that date the history and progress of the
church ought to be fresh in the memory of its members
as well as all who attend the services. If, however, a
continued history of the church is desired, this closing
is a good beginning for a more youthful and capable
successor. A list of the regularly appointed ministers
by the Annual Conference is herewith given, covering
a period of sixty-one years, with the closing Confer-
ence year. It w411 be observed that there have been
thirty-six distinct ministers who served the church dur-
ing this time, in length of service from one to five years.
Only once has a minister returned to the charge under
a second appointment, this one being Rev. J. S. Millsap,
1848, B. C. Swartz, T. F. Royal ; 1849, W. C. Cum-
min gs. J. W. Stogdell ; 1850, John Luccock, Dodge ;
1851, U. J. Giddings, J. B. Craig; 1852, U. J. Giddings,
Reack; 1853. N. H. Gregg, C. B. Crouch; 1854-55,
P. F. Rhodes; 1856-57, J. B. Mills; 1858-59, J. S. Mill-
sap; 1860-61, Ahab Keller; 1862-63, W. J. Beck; 1864,
G. W. Brown; 3865-66, S. B. Smith; 1867-68, John
Cavett; 1869, M. Spurlock ; 1870, G. W. Havermale ;
1871-72, E. Wasmuth; 1873-74. J. Collins; 1875-76, W.
B. Carithers; 1877, W. D. H. Young; 1878-80, Stephen
Brink; 1881, J. S. Millsap; 1882, M. V. B. White; 1883-
84, H. M. Laney; 1885-87, F. W. Merrill; 1888-92, Alex
Smith; 1893-95, R. B. Seaman; 1896, J. D. Smith; 1897-
98, J. E. Conner; 1899-1900, John Rogers; 1901-04, R.
L. Vivian ; 1905, L. F. Cullom ; 1906-08, N. J. Brown.
94 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
TRACES OF EARLY INDIAN LIFE AT ROCHES-
TER, PEORIA AND KNOX COUNTIES,
By W. H. Adams, 1909.
Evidently the primeval race of men who once in-
habited Millbrook Township and have long since van-
ished, like the early white settlers looked upon the high
prairies as the play-ground of the winter's blizzard and
summer's tornado, and therefore sought the protec-
tion of the bluffs and hills along Spoon River and its
confluents as a site for their villages and dwelling
places. The quantity of the ancient earthworks, and
other tumuli, would indicate the presence of a con-
siderable population at one time, or perhaps, more
properly expressed, a population extending over a long
period of time.
The kitchen middens on the west bank of Walnut
Creek, near its confluence with Spoon River, on the
farm of E. L. Grohs, indicate that a considerable village
existed there for a long period of time. Intermingled
with the soil that would naturally accumulate about
the home of the savage, is the refuse from their feasts.
This consists of the bones of the deer, opossum, raccoon,
land snails, fresh water shells in great abundance, and
of the species most common at the present time ; also,
of implements of the chase, etc., as spearheads, lances,
knives, arrow points made, from chert, hornstone and
other forms of quartz, stone axes, celts, gorgets, dis-
coidal stones, stone hammers, shreds of pottery, etc.
Nowhere in this great mass of material is there any evi-
dence that this primitive people came in contact with
the Aryan race. Undoubtedly this was a place of con-
siderable importance. Miss Sumner, Miss Emma Cum-
ming and Mr. Jay Walsh and others prominently iden-
tified with the educational affairs of Knox County, have
been able to trace an ancient Indian trail to this place
from well defined village sites in Knox County.
TRACES OF EARLY INDIAN LIFE 95
There is an ossuary or burial mound some eighty
rods southwest of this village that contained the skele-
tons of thirty or more individuals that had been piled
up somewhat like the chopper cords up his wood, with
this difference : the long fellows were placed at the
bottom of the pile and the short ones on top, and over
the whole was erected a considerable mound of earth
that was thoroughly rammed or packed.
On what is now the village park of Rochester was
once the playground where the plumed braves, when
not engaged in the chase or lifting scalps, were wont
to engage in the pastime of playing Chunkee and other
games of like character germane to savage life — per-
haps with the same enthusiasm that is so prominent a
characteristic of the foot and baseball players of the
On land owned by the Biederbeck family is a series
of round and long mounds of considerable magnitude,
very similar to those so common in the State of Wis-
consin. One of this group is in the form of a Grecian
cross. The skeletons in the more ancient graves af-
ford but a faint trace of chalk. This would indicate a
very remote interment, perhaps many thousands of
Here and there the little flint chips that are scat-
tered over the surface of a slope or knoll, swept by the
west and north winds, is the monument that marks the
site of the ancient arrow-maker's workshop. There is
a strong probability that the vocation of fashioning the
various forms of chipped implements was one of the
warm summer time. Here beneath the wide spreading
branches of some great oak, the arrow maker would
pursue his calling, undisturbed by the noxious insects
so prevalent on the low lands or near the water courses.
Those little flint chips are not only the monuments that
mark the site of an attalier, but tell us in language that
can not be misunderstood, that the contemporaries of
the arrow-makers were a commercial people and car-
ried the crude material in boats from distant places.
96 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
That those people had some sort of a religion or
worship is evident from the fact that just over the line
in Knox County, on a well prepared earthen altar, four
men and one woman were burned, so that the bones
were charred, and the soil was impreg:nated to a con-
siderable depth with the oleaginous matter. In an ex-
cavation beneath this altar were the skeletons of two
men. What dire calamity had overtaken those people,
that five of their number in the morning of young man
and womanhood should be immolated on a fierv altar
to propitiate an offended deity ? It was certainly a re-
ligion as unreasoning as the creed of the bigoted
fanatics, as cruel as starvation, as merciless as the hate
of the wanton scorned.
The question is often asked where did those primi-
tive peoples come from. Some argue that they are the
descendants of the ten and a half lost tribes of Israel,
that came to America by the way of Behring Strait.
The law of supply and demand of food cuts this theory
out. Others advanced the theory that they came to
America by the way of the Pacific Ocean, This is pos-
sible. Able archaeologists take the position that they
originated in America. Or in other words that the
human family originated in more than one place. It
is just as easy to believe that if man is a creature of evo-
lution he had several starting points, as to believe he
had but one.
In 1812 Congress passed an act creating a military
bounty land district between the Mississippi and Illinois
Rivers in the Territory of Illinois, for the benefit of the
soldiers engaged in the war with Great Britain. In
1816 Amos Wheeler ran the Fourth Principal Meridian
west of Peoria County, and the Standard Parallel be-
tween Townships Eight and Nine North. The first rec-
ord we have of the presence of w^hite men in the north
and northwestern parts of Peoria County is the pres-
ence of the men who were engaged in survey of the
public land in 1817.
The Townships of Millbrook, Bri infield, Elmwood
and Trivoli were surveyed and subdivided by James D.
TRACES 01' EARI^Y INDIAN UFE 97
Thomas in 1817. Trivoli was partly re-surveyed by
Isaac L. Baker in 1853. The Townships of Prineeville,
Jubilee, Kosefield, Logan, Timber, HoUis, Limestone,
Richwoods and Ilallock were surveyed by Thomas
Joj^es in 1817. The Townships of Akron, Radnor, Kiek-
apoo and Peoria were surveyed by Thomas Willis in
1817. Townships of Medina, Chillicothe and Rome
were surveyed by Jeremiah Rice in 1817.
To John Dantz, private in Bliss' 11th, belongs the
honor of first taking title to land in Millbrook Town-
ship, to whom was patented the Southwest quarter of
Section Thirty-three, on the first day of January, 1818,
warrant 9661. The second tract was the Southwest
quarter of Section Nine to Daniel Whittain, Feb. 9th,
The first tract of land in Prineeville Township was
the Southwest quarter of Section Twenty-nine. It
was patented to John Cady, father and heir of Adair
Cady, Oct. 6, 1817. There were forty-five quarter sec-
tions of land in Prineeville Township patented to sol-
diers or their lieirs, that were engaged in the last war
with Great Britain.
The following communication was received from
the War Department in answer to a request for in-
formation as to wdiat tribes of Indians occupied this
section of the country in the early part of the last
War Department, Washington, Jul.y 17, 1909.
Mr. W. II. Adams,
Laura, Peoria Co., 111.
Nothing has been of record in this department to
show that a military escort was furnished for the pro-
tection of Surveyors engaged. It appears from cor-
respondence on file that tlie Surveyors were harrased
by Indians belonging to the Sac, Fox or Winnebago
It also appeal^ from the records that Fort Clarke,
Illinois, was erected in 1813 on the present site of Peo-
ria as a protection against the Peoria Indians.
98 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
REMINISCENCES OF THE STEWART FAMILY.
By Layton L. Stewart, 1909.
The Stewart family came to Illinois from Philadel-
phia, Pa. Thomas and James in 1852 and Joseph in
1859. Thomas and James left the East on the 1st of
April of that year and after a journey of two weeks,
from Philadelphia to Pittsburg by railroad and stage
coach, then dowTi the Ohio to the Mississippi and up the
Illinois to Peoria, and out to Trivoli Township by stage
coach, where they arrived on the 14th of April. The
next day they all went sleigh-riding, so it seems there
were late springs in those days as well as now.
Thomas and James settled in Jubilee in 1857, Jo-
seph in 1859. The Rowcliffe and Moss families were the
only neighbors in this part of the Township at that time
except Bishop Chase, who had founded Jubilee College
several years before, about the time that Prineeville
was first settled.
There were many earlier settlers in the county, but
it was, in comparison to the present time, a wild coun-
try around Jubilee. It was no uncommon sound to
hear the wolves howling around the house at night and
see herds of deer feeding on the fall grain on winter
The children of the early days are the old settlers
now. The older generation is rapidly passing. May we
fill their places as faithfully as they performed their
parts in the making of our favored countrj'.
PIONEERS OF MII.I,BROOK TOWNSHIP 99
PIONEERS OF MILLBROOK TOWNSHIP.
By. W. II. Adams, 1910.
The early settlers of Millbrook Township came to
Illinois that they might obtain homes for themselves
and a heritage for their children. They were a peo-
ple who respected and revered the Sabbath as a day
free from toil, and one of religious worship, of high
moral character and business probity, they promoted
education by building school houses, and advanced re-
ligion by erecting churches. Around the hearthstone
of their humble log cabins, the wayfarer, though a
stranger, was hospitably entertained. They were home-
builders in the broadest and best sense that term can
In the fall of 1834, William Metcalf built a log
cabin on the East half of the Southeast quarter of sec-
tion nine. In May or June, 1835, John Sutherland
moved his family from Peoria to French Grove, where
he resided until his death in 1846.
In the month of October, 1835, John Smith, Sr.,
John Smith, Jr., and Theragood Smith and families,
accompanied by John White (who afterwards became
a prominent citizen of the township), and another
young man landed on the site of the Village of Roches-
ter; and they immediately proceeded to make per-
manent improvements on the lands that they had en-
tered at the Land Office at Quincy the preceding year.
The next year Charles Yoeum and John Carter settled
in the township. Elias Wycoff, Sr., and his two young
sons came in 1838. John McCune and Alexander
McDonnell settled on Scotland Prairie about 1830 or '37
(if I have not mixed dates).
Subjoined is a sketch of Col. Clark W. Stanton,
one of the most prominent and conspicuous characters
that has ever appeared in the business arena of the
Township, by his son, Erastus Stanton, of Scaudia,
100 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
COL. CLARK W. STAXTOX.
By Erastus Stanton, 1910.
The pioneer of Eochester, Clark W. Stanton, was
born in Steuben Conntj^, in the State of Xew York, in
1800. The country was wild and new and while he
was 3'et a small boy, the war of 1812 came on and he
])eing the oldest child, with his mother was compelled to
face all the hardships of frontier life, with the added
horrors of British and Indian dangers, as his father
and his father's brother were on the border or in Can-
ada repelling the enemy. The privations and suffering
of the family were great. There was not much farming
yet in the country, and Avhat flour there was was most-
ly gathered up for the use of the army. I remember
his telling of often seeing his mother sifting wheat bran
to get something to make bread. But when peace
came their fortunes were much improved, and having
a desire to learn the carpenter's trade, he was ap-
prenticed to a good workman and mill-wright with
whom he remained for several years.
In those days, it being so soon after the war. mil-
itary exercise took the place that base ball does now,
and the young man in time became so proficient that
he was advanced to the rank of captain and after-
ward Colonel, although I do not remember of hearing
that he took part in any actual warfare.
At the age of twenty-five he and Amy Barnes were
married, and they removed to Rochester, Xew York,
where there were better opportunities for work, and
remained there for several years, getting ready for the
In 1833 or 34, they took shipping in a sailing vessel
for Chicago, a little heard of and almost unknown vil-
lage on the lower end of Lake Michigan, going around
by the Straits of Mackinaw, and in due time arriving
at Chicago, where they do not seem to have tarried
long, for in 1834 or so he assisted in the building of the
COL. CLARK W, STANTON 101
Court House at Peoria, and if I am not mistaken, was
the contractor for building: the same — all the time
looking for a stream and location where he could fulfill
the dream of his heart and build a mill.
And he found Spoon River and the beautiful loca-
tion where Rochester reposes in romantic beauty. He
at once built a log cabin which stood directly in the rear
of what is or was the Wilkins store, for just over
the bank there, was a beautiful spring, clear, cold and
sparkling. The first thing to do was to build a saw
mill, dig a mill race and dam the river. He gathered
around a crew of stout, gallant young fellows, those
remaining now remembered, being John "White and
Robert Armstrong. I can remember names of several
others, but the sound of their names would mean noth-
ing nor convey any idea. This was in 1836.
They were a happy company ; long years afterwards
T have heard my mother speak kindly of those "boys"
as she called them, and when in after life they used to
meet me, they spoke so good of my father and mother
that I still cherish their memory.
Supplies of most kinds were brought by wagon, but
game was good and plenty, and some of the men were
expert with the rifle. Deer, wild turkeys, prairie chick-
ens and other game were no luxury ; in the winter es-
pecially many deer were killed and brought home and
thrown upon the cabin roof until it would be completely
covered. The river furnished an abundance of fish,
The work went steadily on ; material was handy,
the level land in front of the mill site being covered
with forest, mostly oak, as was also the whole of the
land that afterward became the town site. The saw
mill soon went up and a deep ditch was dug where the
race was to be, with the correct idea that when the
dam was built and the water turned in, it would soon
wash out a sufficient mill race through the loose soil.
The building of the dam took some time, but being com-
pleted, the chug-chug of the saw soon woke the echoes
along the lonely Spoon.
102 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
The next problem was the building of a grist mill.
There never having been much money, the remainder
was getting painfully low and it takes money to build
mills, but to Clark Stanton a little matter like that was
of no consequence. The saw mill going night and day
was making something, and he needed no master build-
er; also, he found a man of money who loaned him
Fifteen Hundred Dollars, which was quite a sum for
those days. I do not remember this man's name al-
though I used to know^ it very well, because of my
mother's worrying so much about the debt and about
what might happen. I came to look upon the kindly
old man who came around once a year to collect his in-
terest, as a horrible ogre who was liable to gather
us all up and take us to jail any minute ; and to add
to my terror, I once heard my father say, ''Mr.
will soon be here and I must have his money ready,
or Hell will be to pay," but my fears were groundless.
The mill went up. the country filled with people who
laid the foundation of the great Illinois of today.
About the year 1844 my father's younger brother
Russel Stanton came to Rochester from the East. He
was a different man in many ways : a very good and
extremely pious man, but so visionary. He was vio-
lently opposed to slavery, and in conjunction with some
fellow conspirators, organized a line for the purpose
of assisting colored people to Canada. I know he had
one fellow worker named Webster at a place called
"Nigger Point" near West Jersey, and another named
Boyd, up that way somewhere ; together they concoct-
ed a scheme to ruin the South financially, and thus
release the bondmen. It was no less than the manufac-
ture of molasses and sugar on so large a scale as to run
out the southern planters. There was nothing known
of sorghum in those days. The sweetness was to be
from the corn stalks crushed in the same manner as
sorghum now is. So Uncle Russel built the mill all
right and it was surely a good one. My father tried
to argue him out of his freakish notions, but unsuc-
cessfully. Anyway the corn field and the mill finally
COL. CLARK W. STANTON 103
got in conjiinction, but I am not sure that any molasses
■was the result, for at that time of my life I absorbed
a great deal of molasses and if there had been any
abundant quantity, I surely would have noticed it.
Anywaj^, the South survived that blow.
In 1846 my old grandfather also named Clark Stan-
ton, accompanied by his fourth wife and a grandson,
made a visit to Illinois, and the East part of the red
house was arranged for their use. He was very talka-
tive, as is common to the aged, and told me many tales
of war and also of the revolution which he had heard
from his mother and other older persons. They stayed
only about a year, she pining for children back in York
State. Grandfather said his ancestors first landed at
Saybrook, in Connecticut.
The mill was kept going night and day when there
was water to run it. Good wheat was raised there then
and teams were busy hauling flour to Peoria and goods
back for the merchants, but my father's health began
to fail. The dam was a constant trouble, the banks
were soft alluvial soil, and the material was mostly
willow brush, quickly rotting and needing constant
repair, floods sometimes washing the whole out and the
exposure and work in the cold water warned him to
He rented the mill, and in 1849, a feeble man, he
started to California by w^ay of New Orleans. Arriv-
ing at Chagres he crossed the Isthmus some way and
at Panama took passage on the English sailing vessel,
•'The Twin Sisters," it being Ilobson's choice. The
ship was crowded, old and leaky and not fitted with
stores and provisions nor sufficient water, and com-
manded by a drunken captain. The water soon gave
out and the passengers rigged up a condenser to boil
sea water and run the steam through a pipe enveloped
in cold water. Each passenger was rationed a pint
of water a day. After baffling winds and long delay
they reached Acapulco in Mexico and procured water,
but the food was nothing but sea biscuit, dry, hard and
wormy. After a crowded, suffering voyage they made
104 HISTORY AND RlEMINISCENCES
the port of San Diego, and almost all of the passengers
abandoned the ship and made their way the best they
could to Sacramento, which was the outfitting point
to the mines. Here my father found a freighter who
wished to sell out and return home, whose oxen and
wagon he bought and loaded with provisions and start-
ed for the mines. Here he sold his load to such advan-
tage that he continued in the business for some time,
and then tried mining with some success.
But old Spoon River was calling all the time and he
took a sudden notion to go home, and no sooner said
than done. Well do I remember the cold winter night
when the door flew open and he was among us, looking
hale and well. Oh, but there was a happy time in the
old Red House that night.
His good health was only apparent, however, so he
resolved that his only chance was to return to Cal-
ifornia. He wished to close his business and go back
for good and all, but he sank rapidly and died still a
comparatively young man at the age of 51 years. My
mother was five years younger than he and survived for
that time and died at the same age.
My father was of poor pioneers and had very little
book education, but my mother was born and raised in
the Genesee valley of forehanded parents and was well
educated for that time. She said her father strongly
objected to her marrying that ''wandering blade of
poverty," but I suppose that only hurried matters as
is usual in such cases.
Of the five children, Irena, the oldest, was lately
buried at Rochester, where she came with her parents
when a little girl, the greater part of a century before,
as also Malvina, two years younger, who is buried
at Galva, 111. ; Franklin, buried at Shenandoah, Iowa.
The still living are Chloe of Galesburg, 111., and the
writer, of Scandia, Kansas. This closes a labor of love
and I am glad to cast even so poor a wreath upon the
graves of my dear parents.
GEORGE w. scorr 105
GEORGE W. SCOTT.
By Odillon B. Slane, 1910.
About four years before General Samuel Thomas
platted and laid out the Village of Wyoming, and the
same year that bullets for the Black Hawk War were
moulded in the Slane cabin at Ft. Clark, Peoria, there
was born in the State of New York a man whose fu-
ture life and character as a pioneer was destined to
become closely interwoven with the early history of
Peoria and Stark Counties.
George Washington Scott was born July 21, 1832
at Fredonia, Chautauqua County, New York. His par-
ents were of Scotch-English origin. His father, Eph-
raim Scott, Jr., was an engineer, and died in 1839 at
Sydney, Ohio. His grandfather. Captain Ephraim
Scott, a soldier of 1812, commanded a company at
Buffalo when that post was burned. His mother, Lydia
Sherman, was a daughter of Reuben Sherman, a soldier
of the Revolution, and a cousin of Roger Sherman, one
of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Mr.
Scott has now in his possession two commissions : "En-
sign in 1802" and "Captain in 1806," issued to his
grandfather by Caleb Strong, governor of Massachu-
setts. He is a direct descendant from Isaac Allerton,
who landed at Plymouth in 1620, which fact gives him
a membership in the "Society of the Mayflower."
George W. Scott is also a member of the "Sons of the
The subject of our sketch, with his mother, moved
to Peoria County, Illinois, in 1853, purchased land at
$5.00 per acre and engaged in agriculture. He and
his mother lived together on Section 3, Princevillo
To^\^^ship, till her death in 1857. Both parents are
buried in the Princeville Cemetery.
His marriage to Mary C. Cox took place December
23, 1858. She was a daughter of Enoch Cox, a native
of Virginia, and one of the pioneer settlers of Stark
106 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
In 1862 the subject of our sketch moved to Wyo-
ming, Illinois, and engaged in the mercantile business.
In 1870 he established the banking house of Scott &
"Wrigley, which firm is now classed among the leading
banking houses in the state. That he has been a friend
of the church and school, is evidenced by his services
on the Board of Education for thirteen years. His life
has been a busy and eventful one. He has witnessed
great changes in the settlement of the great northwest,
especially in Central Illinois.
Ever a friend to the cause of humanity — to the
moral uplift of society, such characters as his have from
pioneer times hewn the paths of progress through the
eventful periods of our country's history.
THE STOWELL FAMILY OF LAWN RIDGE
By Calvin Stowell, 1910.
To the Officers and Members of the Old Settlers Union
of Princeville and Vicinity,
We have been repeatedly asked to furnish a sketch
of our father's life in connection with his pioneer days
in the early settlement of Illinois. We feel it to be
a delicate matter to write of the life of one, or portion
of the life of one, as close by the ties of nature, as father
and son; but we realize that those of my father's gener-
ation, and a large proportion of those of the generation
immediately following, have passed over the ''Dark
River," and so far as I can remember, there is no one
now living that could testify in regard to the facts con-
nected Avith our final move to Illinois in 1843, aside
from the writer.
Of the incidents connected with his first trip to Illi-
nois on his exploring expedition in 1836, we can only
give them from memory as we have heard talked over
again and again at the fireside in our childhood days,
THE STOWELL FAMILY OF LAWN RIDGE 107
and often repeated in our maturer years. So imder
existing conditions, we should feel ourselves unworthy
of the father that begot us. and the mother that bore us,
if we should refuse to give any facts in regard to those
pioneer years of hardship and heroic endeavor and
endurance that would add anything to the history
of the early settlers of Illinois, whose lives are now
numbered upon the records of the heroic deeds of
In the spring of 1836, when my father, Ebenezer
Stowell. was twenty-nine years of age, he with his first
cousin, Roswell Nurse, and his son, Isaiah Nurse, a
young man just at his majority, packed their grips
with such things only as were absolutely necessary for
health and comfort on the road, and, with one rifle as
their only weapon, which they carried turn about,
started from Bambridge, Chenango County, New York,
for the much talked of ''Land of Promise," the young
state of Illinois.
Their plan was to make the trip on foot and to make
any side explorations in going as might be deemed
best. Just the route which they took, we are not able
to give, further than this, that they explored quite thor-
oughly much of the country along the Wabash River
in Indiana, and then struck across to Peoria, Illinois,
which was then little more than a village. From there,
they went up the River to Chillicothe, a town of a
few houses along the river bank. Here they met Jacob
Booth, whom they had known in York State, who had
preceded them by a length of time unknown to us. We
have also heard them speak of meeting J. H. McKean,
now a resident of Wyoming, Illinois, well past his
four-score and ten years. But they had little time for
visiting; time was precious and they were there on
Leaving Chillicothe, they went to Northampton,
where Reuben Hamlin had a tavern. Here they estab-
lished headquarters w^hile exploring the country. They
finally located timber-land upon what has since been
called Blue Ridge, and prairie along the south line
108 HISTORY AND RE-MIXISCEXCES
of Marshall County, where Lawn Ridge now stands.
They then took up their line of march for the nearest
land office, Quincy, Illinois, one hundred and sixt}''
Having made their entries, and secured their pat-
ents, they returned to Hamlin's, which they made their
stopping place while they built a small but comfortable
log house on the exact spot where Isaiah Nurse subse-
quently built a good substantial home, now o^vned by
H. H. Nurse, and occupied by his son. Game was
plentiful in those days and in their walks back and
forth to Hamlin's, they often picked up a turkey with
their trusty rifle that added materially to their bill
It was now getting well along in the fall. The ob-
ject of their summer's tramp accomplished, it was ar-
ranged that Isaiah Nurse should remain and keep house
while Roswell Nurse and my father should return to
the East for their families. So again the two men
started on their tramp for Chicago, with a view of ex-
pediting their trip home, by taking a schooner to Buf-
falo, New York.
It was now getting late in the fall, and they were
beset with high and adverse winds and bad storms,
often compelled to lie under the lee of some island for
days before they could proceed. Three weeks were
consumed in the trip from Chicago to Buffalo, New
York. Here again they took up their line of march
for their homes in Chenango County, about the center
of the state on the south line, — their long tramp fin-
ished, and the work they set out to do fully accom-
It was upon his return from Illinois that I first
met my father, my arrival having anticipated his by
a few weeks. While we have no very distinct recollec-
tion of the occasion, we think it fairly to be presumed
that we met him with the grace and dignity becoming
one of our age and experience. And here closes the
first chapter of the record.
THE STOVVELL FAMILY OF LAWN RIDGE 109
The spring following their return to New York
State, Roswell Nurse moved w4th his family to their
possessions in Illinois. My father being a mechanic
with plenty of work in the East, and no assurance of
any in his line in the West, deferred moving his family
until 1843, when, with a good team of mares attached
to a wagon with the box set upon springs, our family,
then five in number, started on the long road to our
future home, which we reached in three and one-half
weeks. A young man by the name of John Champlin
went through with us, driving a horse and buggy of
Dr. Ashed Wilmot's, who moved to Illinois the same
spring. Doctor's old Charley horse and sulky were
know^n on the road for many years as the Doctor made
his professional visits.
Our journey was made without incident or accident
worthy of note, but the broad prairies, as hour after
hour we drove over them without seeing a sign of
human habitation, were in strong contrast with the
same country two and three decades later. Our heavy
goods father had draw^n to Olean Point in the late
winter before, when they were rafted down to the Ohio
River in charge of Uncle Lyman Robinson, who came
around by water the same spring, arriving at our des-
tination some weeks ahead of us.
The next day after our arrival, the goods were
stored, the family found shelter amongst the neighbors,
and father was in quest of a saw mill which he found
on the Senachwine Creek, about two miles above North-
ampton. Being a mill-wright, he soon had it in order,
and was sawing lumber for a house, while Champlin
with the team and wagon w^as drawing it to the place
designated for a building. In just two weeks from the
time of reaching our journey's end, we were under our
own roof, and gathered as a family in our owti hab-
itation. Crude and unfinished though it was, it was
home, and life in our new environment was begun, in
what was then called the ''Little Blue Ridge Settle-
ment. ' '
110 HISTORY AN'D REMINISCENCES
Of this little pioneer settlement much that would
be of interest could be said, but that would take us
beyond the scope of this paper. That those first years
in Illinois were both primitive in matters of dress and
very plain in matters of living, goes without saying,
and had it not been for kind-hearted, industrious
Grandma Will who preceded us to Illinois by a few
years, and announced that she had planted garden for
all of the newcomers, we might have truly said that our
living was both plain in quality and scrimped in quan-
tity ; for what little cash came into the treasury in those
early years, father depended upon his trade.
Being a Yankee, he considered a barn indispensa-
ble, and the second year put up a good framed barn,
enclosed with hardwood lumber of his own sawing.
The example seemed contagious, and numerous other
jobs of the same kind were soon given him. In addi-
tion to this, he got several jobs in building over and re-
pairing both flouring mills and saw mills, one near
Princeton, one on Crow Creek where he took the ague
which stayed by him for many months, and was alto-
gether more than he bargained for. He also did work
on the old Evans flouring mill, which many of the old
settlers wdll remember, located upon the Kickapoo
Creek in Peoria County.
Clothing was among the important items to be pro-
vided for, and a flock of sheep was among the first
things to be looked after, the care and preservation
of which in those early days of dogs and wolves was
no small item. The wool from their backs was spun
into yarn and w^oven into cloth by my mother's deft
hands, and by her cut and made into garments for the
whole family. From her loom also came many a bolt of
cloth for the neighbors, with all of whom, comfort
counted for everything, and mere style for less than
nothing. The loose woolen shirt, the jeans pants, vest
and wampus was the style for the men and boys; and,
for the women, the plain calico dress in summer, and
the woolen dress for winter, were the order of the day.
The year 1840 is approximately that of the building
THE STOWELL FAMILY OF LAWN RIDGE 111
of the little brick school-house from which we and
many others graduated. It was also the church from
which the circuit rider held forth once in four weeks.
Feeling the need of more religious services in the
community, Dr. A. Wilmot, Nathaniel Smith and father,
with their wives, organized a Congregational Church
— not as a rival, but as a helper — in maintaining re-
ligious services with all that can be implied in it. Owen
Lovejoy of Princeton, who afterwards became famous
in the nation's councils, was at the head of the Council
of Organization. This church worked harmoniously
with the Methodist people and for the general good
of all, until in the process of settlement a few years
later, service w^as moved to Lawm Ridge where the
church still stands, and has the honor of being the
parent from which the Congregational Churches of
Stark. Edelstein and Speer have sprung.
It was not our design in writing this paper to give
a biography of our father's life, only a few incidents
in connection w^ith his pioneer days, which with his
optimistic views of life, were most thoroughly identified
with those of his neighbors in upholding all that mor-
ally, socially and financially was for the best interest
of all concerned ; and we realize that we are drawing
out this paper to great length, still do not see just where
There is one thing more due primarily to my fath-
er's fore-sight w^hich has become an universal blessing.
It was early noted in the old settlement that there
was but one spring of absolutely living water in the
settlement. Knowing that the land Avas for sale and
that it was liable to be closed to the public, father ap-
proached the owner with the proposition to segregate
the spring from the balance of the tract, and sell it for
the benefit of the public. Having got consent of the
owner to do so. Uncle Erastus and Lucas Root joined
hands with him in putting up the cash. The land con-
necting the spring with the public highway was bought
and deeded to the public forever, and it became a ver-
itable "Jacob's Well." There have been times of drouth
113 HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES
when it seems that both man and beast would have
perished without it.
Amongst the sad events of that early day was the
death by lightning of my Uncle Nathan Stowell, who
with my father and brother was making hay on the
prairie, about three miles from home. The three were
standing together not a yard from each other when
a bolt of lightning struck Nathan dead. My brother
Orson was also struck and blistered from head to foot,
a spot on his arm burned to the bone, and a wound
inflicted on his head from which blood flowed freely;
while, strange to say, father did not lose consciousness
for a moment, was not even knocked down. This Uncle
with a younger brother who died from the effects of an
accident the following winter were the first two burials
in Blue Ridge Cemetery. My father died in the year
1880 in his 73rd year; my mother in 1889 in her 81st
We feel that we cannot close this sketch without a
word in a general way for the old neighbors of pioneer
days with whom we were closely associated for many
years. Fraternity and reciprocity were characteristic
of them as a whole ; not that they always saw ' ' eye
to eye," for they were all human; but in no case did
their petty differences withhold the helping hand in
the day of affliction, and be it said to their credit that
such a thing as a law suit was never known within our
recollection of more than sixty-five years.
In looking back over the record of those in and
around the old settlement as early as 1846, we can
count the graves of at least twelve fathers and mothers
who rest side by side in the little settlement cemetery.
Within a half mile of our old home. Ave wooed and
wed the faithful wife who has walked bv our side
for forty-six years. Here our first child was born.
Here, when the curtain falls, we expect to be our final
resting place amongst the old neighbors, kindred and
friends we knew so long and well.
Sincerely, CALVIN STOWELL,
402 E. Henry Street, Savannah, Ga.
THE MCGINNIS FAMILY 113
THE MeGINNlS FAMILY.
By Geo. I. McGinnis, 1910.
George I. McGinnis, son of James and Temperance
McGinnis, was born in Granger County, Tenn., Sept. 15,
1802. At the age of about nine years he moved with his
parents to Ohio, settling near Cincinnati. After re-
maining there a few years, he moved to Park County,
Indiana, where on January 1, 1829, he was united in
marriage to Sarah J. Montgomery, daughter of John
and Elizabeth Montgomery. She was born in Russell
County, Virginia, Sept. 20, 1812. When about nine
years of age she had moved with her parents to Ken-
tucky. After remaining there a few years, they moved
to the East side of Indiana, thence to Park County,
The newly married couple, first remaining in Park
County about five years after their marriage, then
moved to Peoria County, Illinois. They settled about
a mile and a quarter northeast of where the Village
of Princeville now stands, on the South half of the
Southwest quarter of Section Seven, in what is now
Here they remained about three years, when they
moved onto the North half of said quarter section,
which they made their permanent home. They were
the parents of twelve children, in order as follows :
Susan, deceased ; Sarah Ann, died in Indiana ; John
deceased ; Nancy, deceased ; James, Mary, Elizabeth ;
Temperance, deceased ; Jane ; William, deceased ;
George, and Charles, deceased. Temperance was the
first person buried in the Princeville Cemetery. She
died on the evening of Sept. 14, 1844. The next day,
the 15th, the now venerable John Z. Slane dug the
grave. He was a lad then seventeen years of age.
The funeral was preached by the Rev. Breese in the
grove Southeast of the old log schoolhouse, there being
no church building in the village at that time. Her
Andrews, Mrs. Sarah B., Letter 63
Armstrong Family 70
Belford Family 51
Blanchard, William P., Family 10
Bliss, Henry, Family 114
Breese, Rev. Robt. Finley, and Family 54
Cameron, Rev. Robt., and daughter Miss Agnes 56
Chase, Simon P., and Family 47
Cornwell Family 49
Debord Family 58
Early Indian Life at Rochester • 94
Fourth of July Celebration, Princeville, 1844 61
French, Stephen 8
Houston, William, and Family 46
McGinnis Family 113
McKown, Lawrence, Family 76
M. E. Church, History of 88
Miller, Christian, Family 65
Moody Family 41
Moody, Ethan, Letters 43
Morrow Family 15
Mott Family 68
Presbyterian Church, Historical Sketch of 80
Presbyterian Church, Seventy-fifth Anniversary 79
Pioneers of Millbrook Township 99
Prince, Daniel 5
Rochester, Early Indian Life at 61
Scott, Geo. W., of Wyoming 105
Slane Family 20
Sloan Family 14
Smith, John, Family, of Northwest Princeville 16
Stanton, Col. Clark W 100
Stevens, Wm. C, the Founder of Princeville 25
Stevens, Wm. C, Letter written by him 37
Stevens, Wm. C, Reminiscences 39
Stewart Family • 98
Stowell Family of Lawn Ridge 106
EDW. HINE & CO.
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS-URBANA
Sy AND REMIN.SCEn'cES, FROM THE RECO
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