Illinois Genealogy Trails History Group

Clark County Illinois
Genealogy and History


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Chapter 11

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The History of Crawford and Clark County
W. H. Perrin, O. L. Baskin & Co., 1883

Transcribed by  Barbara Z.

DARWIN TOWNSHIP-DESCRIPTION AND TOPOGRAPHY-WALNUT PRAIRIE-FIRST STEP TOWARD CIVILIZATION—WORK AND PLAY IN A NEW COUNTRY— STERLIN -AURORA AND DARWIN-COUNTY SEATS—RELIGIOUS, EDUCATIONAL, ETC.


DARWIN Township is the outgrowth of the second settlement in Clark County, though scarcely later than that of York. The "Wabash River was then the great thoroughfare of this country, and the early immigrants, who appear to have learned little from the history of the older settlements of the East, cherished the idea that the subsequent development of the country would leave the prominence of the river unchanged. It seems to have been expected that considerable towns would grow up along its margin while the interior would never be settled, or at least, not until the civilizing influence of the towns should penetrate the wilderness. The result was that the inflow of population followed up the course of the river until land was found free for pre-emption, and there settled to grow up with the country. Darwin was well situated to attract early immigration. The river bank was covered by a heavy growth of timber, and of sufficient height to insure against the rise of the river in times of freshet. The land gently rising as it receded, presented for the most part an unbroken line of fine timber, where a number of brisk streams converging near the central point of the river line, marked the site of the predestined city. At this made, and a village sprang up that would have reached the realization of the settler's fondest hopes, had they been founded on correct premises. But the railroad and all the vast development of nineteenth century civilization touched this land, and the vain hopes of the pioneer vanished like the mirage of the plains.

The limits of the territory included in the present township of Darwin coincide with the lines of the congressional survey save on the east side, where the Wabash makes a deep and irregular curve to the westward, cutting off about eight sections of what would otherwise be a full township. Like other townships in the county, in the early history it passed under another name and included a much larger area, but was subsequently reduced to its present outline and named from the village that gave it prestige. Its surface is generally rolling, somewhat broken, however, along the streams and in the northeast, and subsiding into a level prairie in the southeast corner. The general inclination and drainage as marked by its streams, is toward the elbow of the river above the site of Darwin village, a little rise at this point forcing the streams to find outlets into the Wabash above the village. Big Creek, the largest stream, simply crosses section 2 and finds an outlet by a nearly direct southern course. Sugar and Patrick's Creeks, rise in the northwestern corner and empty into the Wabash on section 15 ; and Bolin Creek which drains the southwest corner, flows northeasterly and enters the same bend of the river on section 23. Walnut Prairie covers about four sections and is defined by Bohn Creek, the site of Darwin, and the first " bench " above the river bottoms, and extends southward into York Township where it is separated from Union Prairie by a narrow strip of timber. The river bottoms of Darwin were distinguished from those in York by a heavy growth of poplar and walnut, the latter fringing the prairie here and giving it the distinctive title of Walnut Prairie. On the higher ground of the township the principal timber was hard maple, beech, linn, oak and hickory. Nearer the river, oak and hickory predominated, a considerable portion of the latter being small white hickory which furnished an important article of commerce. The soil of the woodland is a light yellow clay which is found particularly adapted to wheat growing. The bottoms are a rich alluvial soil which is devoted to corn and continually cropped without signs of exhaustion. The prairie is a sandy loam and has the peculiarity of never being excessively wet. The first settlers, it is said, found no difficulty in traveling across it at any season of the year, the turf not easily cutting up even when excessively traveled upon by wagons. The community have indulged in very little diversity of farm industry. The early demands of the pioneer settlement turned an unusual amount of attention to sheep raising, but this characteristic has long since passed away and the raising of corn and wheat with enough stock to supply the demands of the farm, is the occupation of the Darwin community.

The early settlement of Darwin was hindered by its very attractions. In 1816, the lands first came into market for sale, and the popular notion in regard to this country being entertained by speculators, a large part of the more eligible land was promptly taken up by these capitalists and for years held at such exorbitant figures as to exclude emigration. Among these were McCall and Patterson, C. and F. Buttet, Samuel Chambers and others. Others among the actual settlers, took advantage of the credit offered by the Government and put all the money they could raise into the first payment on lands, expecting to sell a part of their lands to subsequent settlers; but there was plenty of land to be got cheaper and there w:is no sale for it on such terms. The result was that the timber for the second payment came around, the laud had not earned enough to any more than support the settlers, a panic ensued and good land could not be disposed of for seventy-five cents per acre. The Government extended the time of payment for eight years but this in many cases did not save the property to the sett.er. The speculators fared no better; and after holding for several years, the interest and taxes each year adding to the burden, the speculators brought their lands to the auction block where they were sold below government prices. Great losses were sustained in this, and the rapid growth of the community greatly retarded. In 1816, however, the settlement got a beginning in the family of John McClure. He was of Irish descent, though born in Kentucky, and made his way through the wilderness with wagons. For a considerable part of the way there was no trail, and he was forced to chop his road out before him, guided only by the surveyor's blazes. He settle d on the west half of section 27, and entered this with the east half of the northeast quarter of the same section. His cabin was built on what is now the site of Darwin village. After erecting a cabin his first care was to dig a well which was made permanent by inserting a large hollow sycamore log.

The public lands coming on the market for the first time in 1S!6, attracted attention to this locality, and quite a number succeeded in securing lands. Among these was A. Snider, a native of Pennsylvania. He was a shrewd German, pretty well advanced in age, and of a somewhat penurious disposition. He secured 126 acres where Dr. Mitchell now lives, but subsequently sold it to Armstrong and removed to Hutsonville. Charles Neely came about the same time; settled on section 28, on the west side of Walnut Prairie, where the Indians had had a village and a cornfield. He was made the first probate judge of the new county, when he rented his farm to John Davidson and moved to Darwin Village. Another family that came this year was that of John Essarey. He was a native of Kentucky and made his way here through the wilderness in wagons, cutting his road much of the way. In the same year came Jesse Ezra. He settled near the village of Darwin, built one of the first houses erected in the village, and for several years kept a boarding house. He was a man of some means, and subsequently went to what is now Wabash Township and improved a fine farm.

An early settler in 1817 was Lewis Bohn. He was a native of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and came here across the country in wagons. The route from the East was not then defined by any trail beyond the older settlements in what is now the State of Indiana. For a number of weeks he toiled through the unbroken wilderness, following the uncertain guide of the surveyors' marks and aiming only to reach the " Wabash country." After a tedious experience of camping alone with his family by night, and traveling almost unguided by day, he reached the Darwin settlement. He was well educated in his native tongue, and became a wealthy and prominent member of the community, living for years on the farm he entered west of the village of Darwin. The Leonard brothers were early emigrants from New York. They settled on the eastern side of the township, near the site of Aurora. Here they built a double log house and small improvements, which they subsequently sold to Dr. Patrick and returned to New York. In 1818, Zacheus Hassell came from Tennessee and settled on land adjoining the Darwin plat on the south. He was a man of considerable enterprise, brought in a good deal of stock and cleared up a fine farm. In addition to these permanent improvements, he found time to getting a reputation as a great hunter, and especially for his success in hunting bees. In 1832 he sold his farm to Zachariah Linton and moved to Wabash Township, subsequently going to Paris and thence to Texas. Linton was a native of Ohio, and soon after purchasing the Hassell farm, engaged in boating on the river. An early trip was to New Orleans with a fiat boat load of wood. Here he got into an altercation in regard to selling his load, and in a moment of passion struck a man a fatal blow with a stick of wood. The authorities arrested, summarily tried him and hung him, with short shrift, in a few days. His son, Hathaway, continued on the farm, became a fine scholar and prominent in the community and county; was elected county treasurer and served several terms.

Samuel Yocum, a native of Kentucky, was a settler of 1821. He was a brother-in-law of Nathaniel McCIure and settled in the village of Darwin, but died soon after he came. Jacob Harlan was another accession of this year. He was a native of Warren County, Ohio, and an old acquaintance of the Archer family. Clark County had in the meanwhile been formed and Win. B. Archer elected clerk of the county. The business was small and Archer had so much else to do, that he urged Harlan to come and take the office work and its emoluments. Harlan was a young unmarried man, and accepting this invitation, became a member of the new community. He was subsequently appointed post master, clerk of the county commissioners' court, recorder, judge of probate and notary public, and held these several offices at the same time. He subsequently married a daughter of John Chenoweth and erected a hewed-log house, which is still standing and used as a residence. Mr. Chenoweth was a man of considerable wealth, and the official honors of Harlan seemed to call for a more than ordinary dwelling, and this building may be taken for a specimen of an aristocratic residence of that time. It was a story and a half high, had two rooms and a ladder leading to the attic. The huge fireplace was at one end with one of the first brick chimneys on the outside, and stood on the corner of Water and streets. Mr. Harlan was highly esteemed in the new community and held his offices until his death in 1836.

Nathaniel McClure came to Darwin from Kentucky in 1819. He started with his family in wagons from Mercer County with the intention of settling in LaFayette, Indiana, but pleased with the appearance of the settlement here, he stopped with the intention of raising one crop and then continuing his journey. In the fall of this year however, Mr. McClure died, the first death in the community if not in the county, and the family remained here permanently. William Dixon was an early settler also, a native of Kentucky and an illiterate man. He was, however, a shrewd man of business, and acquired the name of William N. Dixon because of his inability to sign his name. In 1822, James P. Jones came to the Darwin settlement and took a prominent place in the community. He was a native of New York, had emigrated to Vigo County, Indiana, and thence to New Orleans. In the latter place he engaged extensively in the lumber trade; but dissatisfied with the city, he came up the river to Darwin, of which he learned through the traders from that point. He bought the Essarey property in Darwin and kept hotel for a time. In 1824, he was elected sheriff, served until 1831, and subsequently moved to Coles County.

Though begun at nearly the same time, there were radical differences between the settlements of York and Darwin. They were rivals from the very start, though the competition was not well defined until after the formation of the county. Up to that date the former settlement was a prominent contestant with Palestine for the honors of this county seat, but after the formation of Clark, while yielding all pretensions to such honors on account of its geographical situation, it did not abate one tittle of its pretensions to commercial superiority. In this, its claims seem securely founded. York was established by a class of active, wealthy business men who early gave the community a prestige which is a long stride toward success. Darwin, on the other hand, had hardly around to stand upon. The land was no sooner open to purchasers, than speculators, who had imbibed the popular notion as to the future of the Wabash country, began to out-bid actual settlers at the land auctions. The result was that the growth of the settlement was slow and distorted. The energies of the whole community were concentrated upon the village and its development seemed at first to begin at the top and go downward. The fixing of the county seat at this point did little for its early growth as there was lint little business of a public nature and from the nature of the circumstances could not bring its prime advantage—the attraction of business—to bear upon the place. Additions to the settlement at Darwin, were slowly made, however, speculators forced to yield their grasp upon the land, allowed room for expansion, and with the advantages of a good river landing, and freed from any powerful rival distributing point for the country to the northwest and east it rapidly excelled its early rival. The earlier comers were those whose taste and experience fitted them best for fanning, and it was not until about 1824, that an active business class of people came in and turned the advantages of the location to a valuable account. Succeeding the lower settlement with an interval of scarcely two years, Darwin was for the moment almost on the frontier. The native " lords of the land " had not entirely surrendered their hold upon the country. The last lingering embers of the war of 1812 had died out, and the recognized home of the Indian had been removed west of the Mississippi, but large numbers of the different tribes, loth to give up their hunting grounds to the irrevocable possession of the white, still made their annual visits to the banks of the Wabash. Hunting, fishing, and making sugar in the season, they loitered about during the milder part of the year, begging, bartering and thieving in a petty way until winter when they left for their stores of corn near their villages. While here the pioneers were on the best of terms, the boys of both people playing together, and the older ones engaging in feats of strength and marksmanship. Traders found them profitable customers with whom whiskey was not only a " legal tender." but a highly prized commodity in comparison with which all other values rapidly shrank. Notwithstanding this free use of " fire water " the Indians seem to have maintained the most amicable relations with the settlers until the events of 1833 caused a cessation of their visits. The outbreak of hostilities in 1832, though menacing a distant point, did not fail to have a disturbing influence upon the settlement of Darwin. There was quite a strong minority that urged the advisability of the river settlements doing something to guard against a sudden incursion of these merciless foes of the whites, but nothing was done in this direction save the formation of a company under the command of John Stockwall, which, however, saw no part of the military activities pertaining to this outbreak of savage hostilities.

It was upward of ten years before the settlement of Darwin began to depend upon its own resources for supplies. During the earlier years. Fort Harrison on the upper Wabash and Vincennes below, were the points to which the settlers made long, tedious journeys for provisions and mail. These journeys required three days if there was no delay in securing prompt service, but as that was almost unprecedented good fortune, the average grist cost much nearer a week than three days. Care was usually taken that a season's supplies should be provided before the winter set in, but it was no uncommon thing to find the best judgment thwarted by unforeseen circumstances when even the ingenuity of the pioneer was taxed to supply the meager fare of the frontier table. Corn was the staple article in the early settler's bill of fare. Lye hominy was easily prepared, but this could not suffice for even the moderate demands of a pioneer, and various devices were resorted to, to secure a substitute for meal. Perforated tin bent upon a board served as a grater on which the corn was torn sufficiently to pieces to make a sort of mush and dodger. Huge mortars, made by hollowing out a firm stump or large block, were used in connection with a large wooden pestle for pounding corn fine enough for food. The coarser part was served up in hominy, while the finer part did very good service as a coarse meal in the form of dodgers. The early mills of the lower settlement did much to relieve this embarrassment, and there were few who could not either by themselves or through neighbors, get meal and later, flour for the purposes of the cabin. The lack of streams of sufficient capacity and stability, but far more effectively the lack of available mill-sites in the hands of actual settlers, prevented the erection of those pioneers of manufacturing interests, and no mills were erected until about 1830, and then in the vicinity of the village of Darwin.

Even with no mills in the close vicinity of the settlement, the people were not obliged to live on a corn diet. The second crop, and often the first, was wheat, and flour was not a rare thing by any means, after the first few years. Every settler brought in more or less stock which his earlier experience had taught him to be necessary to his comfort, and butter and milk, with the wild fruits and honey, left little to be desired as accessories to a palatable meal. Besides, cows, oxen and horses, the Darwin settlement was marked for the number of sheep brought in early. It was hardly to be expected that they should escape the general fate of such defenseless animals in a new country, but by dint of great care and fresh importations the stock was maintained. The wolves were especially troublesome, attacking beside sheep, young pigs and calves and occasionally a cow. During the daytime these animals kept in the timber and seldom molested even sheep. At night, however, they were abroad and sheep were not safe, even in the village, unless protected by a huge stake and ridered fence too high for the animals to jump over. Even persons were not altogether safe from the large timber wolf that was the prevailing species here, and no one thought it prudent to go out at night without a torch, which served the double purpose of light and a means of defense.

The early members of this community were not especially well-to-do. Most of them brought sufficient capital only to improve a farm in a country where but little more than energy and frugality were required, and these were, fortunately, sufficient to found a home here. After the very first arrivals, immigrants found open doors, and willing hands to assist in raising a cabin. A single day sufficed for the united neighborhood to erect the rude structure, build a fire-place and chimney and saw out the logs for doorway and windows. Into houses in this condition the new arrivals were generally glad to remove, for free as the hospitality of the pioneer may have been, it had no power to increase the capacity of the cabin, and two families packed a little dwelling, designed for one, to overflowing. Blankets supplied the place of windows and doors, and furs, skins and blankets spread on brush or the puncheon floor supplied the beds. Furniture of all sorts was improvised out of such boxes and barrels as were brought into the country containing household goods, or manufactured from the timber with the ax and draw-share. Each man was the architect of his own fortune, and while the whole neighborhood lent willing assistance in case of special need, each one was too busy with his own affairs to ply any trade for general hire. There was scarcely any medium of exchange by which such interchange of labor could be effected on any extended scale. Corn and wheat were ground, wool carded, and cotton ginned on a system of tolls; schools a little later were maintained by the subscription of pork, corn or wheat, and shoes were sometimes made by men who lacked the small means to start a farm, in the same way, but the interchange of labor was mainly effected by " swapping work." The cabin once erected, the first care was to provide for a crop. On the prairie land, this preparatory work consisted of " breaking " and allowing the land to lie fallow until spring if possible, but generally a crop was put in at once, the corn being dropped in every third furrow. In the woodland, of which the larger part of this township consisted, the object was accomplished with more difficulty. During the winter about ten acres would be "cut over," the trees felled, cut into logs about twelve feet long, brush trimmed and limbs cut in suitable lengths to handle. Early in the spring an invitation was sent out for a distance of five to twelve miles to a " logging bee." There was sure to be a full attendance, such a thing as " regrets " not being known to the crude society of the early day. A few would bring their ox teams, for which there was generally but little use, if any, in the logging. The timber was raised on " hand-spikes " and carried by five or eight men and placed upon the heap for burning. When all was prepared, the party invited would generally be able to pile up the whole ten acres in a day. The work was done with a hearty good will, and never taxed the strength of the workers sufficiently to prevent their enjoying the generous meal and dance with which the occasion generally closed. This done, the heaps were fired and left to the care of the wife and boys, while the father responded to the invitations of his neighbors. Thus it was no uncommon thing in the earlier years of the settlement for the mule part of the community to spend a month or six weeks in the spring of the year, " logging up " the farms for several miles around. Then came the plowing among roots and stumps and putting in the crop. There was always an abundant harvest. But a small part was needed for the family or stock and there was no market for the surplus. In fact, the inroads of game left very little surplus for the first year or two.

This abundance of game was altogether a mixed evil. When first planted the crop was subject to the attack of crows, black-birds and squirrels, when further advanced the thousands of wild ducks and geese and turkeys sometimes threatened to take all that was left. Geese were especially destructive to young wheat, cropping the blade close to the ground and their droppings killing what they could not eat. Deer wore numerous, and wolves, while the timber swarmed with the chattering game that found shelter there. "Painters" were too numerous for a feeling of security though they were generally easily frightened away or left without danger of their pursuing a person. On one occasion a man riding along a trail in the woods was considerably frightened and his horse considerably scratched by one of these animals springing upon him from a tree, but it lost its hold and was soon left in the distance. Women out picking berries were often startled by seeing these animals crouched in neighboring trees evidently meditating the chances of an attack, but no serious results are known to have occurred from them here. Without this abundance of game it is difficult to determine how much of the country would have been early settled. For a time this was the almost sole dependence of the pioneer for meat and added greatly to his comfort if it.did not render one of the essentials for an early settlement. The ease with which supplies could be got from the country without labor, and the sport which it afforded at the same time, led certain ones of every settlement to lose sight of the demand of the future and to rely upon this uncertain support. A few years brought a rude awakening. The game gradually decreased or were driven off by the merciless onslaught of the settlers and many found it easier and more suited to their tastes to follow the game than to turn to the more exacting duties of farming.

Darwin, like the settlement lower down on the river, removed from the advantages of older settlements, learned early to depend upon their own resources for the comforts of life. This was especially marked in the clothing of the people and the adornment of the home. The sheep early brought in. supplied the wool which was carded by hand or taken two or three days journey to some mill which prepared it for spinning and weaving. Cotton was considerably grown and added an unusual facility for varying the clothing for the hot and cold seasons. But deer-skin was very largely in use by the men because of its durability. It was not very good material to get into on a cold morning or to wear after getting wet, but these were minor discomforts which were not allowed to excite discontent. A compromise was early effected between the linsey-woolsey and buckskin type of frontier clothing, especially for holiday wear. Jeans were manufactured at home, and clothing reinforced at the knees and on the seat, and on the front of the coat, with buckskin, were thought exceptionally fine. Several of the women gained a wide-spread reputation for the taste and skill with which these somewhat ungainly patches were made to take on an ornamental character.

Closely allied with all this serious work of the community was its sources of recreation. The demands of modern development have changed all this. Work and play have been divorced and so changed in their natures that they have almost changed places. Division of labor and the application of machinery has relieved the serious occupations of life of much of their toil, while amusements are placed under such a tariff of social exactions that a life devoted exclusively to either shows very little difference in the outcome save perhaps to the advantage of a life of labor.  This change is keenly felt by those who still survive pioneer days, and they are few indeed, who do not speak with heart-felt regret at the passing of these "good old times." There was no spirit of caste in the settlement of Darwin. The richest were poor, and the poor lived in abundance, and each one who came to share the responsibilities of the community were at once taken into the charmed circle of frontier hospitality. Logging and cabin raising brought the men together for miles around, while quilting, cotton-picking, spinning, apple-paring, and husking brought together the young and old of both sexes. These occasions often closed with a supper and a dance when the men came in. Samuel Yocum and Thomas Carico were the violinists in demand and gave their services free of charge. On holiday occasions, Christmas, 4th of July, etc., a regular ball was the special entertainment, but " bussing-bees "as the older ones called them, or games of forfeit were the general feature of ordinary gatherings. Cards were generally played by both sexes and an evening call was hardly complete without a few games of eucher or whist. The sterner sex, however, seemed to demand a stronger excitement and shooting matches, horse-racing and gambling rapidly grew into favor. In fact they became the absorbing pleasure and Darwin early gained a reputation for these excitements that was the reverse of flattering. With all this there was an unstinted use of whiskey which, contrary to the usual statement of " old settlers," did make the people drunk and incite to deeds of ruffianism. The women were generally " tee-totalers." Occasionally they sipped a little toddy but their influence was, as a class, against the use of whiskey, although their education did not lead them to any active persuasion against it. To this should be added a general disregard for the Sabbath. There were earnest Christian people in the early settlement, who had imbibed the Puritan notion of Sunday, but they were helplessly in the minority, and the Lord's day was a special holiday for this vicious class of excitements. voted rapidly settled up. There had been some development of business interests before tins, but the prosperity of Darwin dates from this change. The farmers found but little demand at home for their surplus crops and emulating the example of other settlements began very early to ship their produce down the river. When all were engaged it is difficult to learn when or by -whom the first boat was sent out from Darwin, but almost every farmer took part in this undertaking to a more or less extent. The boats were manufactured on the banks of the river by the farmer who used them though it subsequently became a considerable business to which some devoted their attention exclusively, selling a finished boat at a dollar per linear foot. The plan was to take a fine poplar or sycamore tree, hew it in rectangular shape about 18 by 24 inches. This was split through the middle leaving strips about 12 by 18 inches and of lengths varying from 55 to 75 feet. These were the " gunwales " and formed the main strength of the structure. The heart side was placed outward and on the inner lower corner was cut a "gain " large enough to allow the two-inch flooring to rest in it and come to the level of the bottom of the " gunwale." The width of the boats was from 15 to 20 feet and was established by cross-pieces framed in the "gunwales" at moderate distances apart. Lengthwise the boat was further strengthened by "streamers " running parallel with the " gunwales " about four feet apart. Upon this frame work, securely framed and fastened together, a flooring of two-inch planks was laid double, pinned with wooden pins and heavy nails. The boat thus far constructed was bottom side up, and after being well caulked the difficulty was to turn it over to be finished. The practice was to choose a location on the bank of the river convenient for launching, and when the work reached this stage, to turn it on the land, though the more skillful turned them in the water. If it was done on the .'and, the neighborhood was invited, and all joined in lifting the one side of the wooden leviathan and letting it fall on brush heaps an.l a multitude of hoop-poles somewhat inclined to break its fall. This was attended with considerable risk of damage and the other way was preferred. This was to place a temporary board railing on one side and the ends. Against this an embankment, of earth was placed on the boat, and thus prepared it was launched into the stream and towed by yawls into the deep water. The side of the boat weighted with earth was placed across the current up the stream and while held in this position the embankment of earth was broken in two places to allow the water to run over the top. The weight of the earth held one side considerably lower than the other and on being broken down the current got such hold of it as to turn it right under the stream. Great care was necessary to prevent the embankment from being broken prematurely, and for those who managed the turning to escape a serious wetting bv leaping in a small boat kept near at hand. When turned, it was hauled to shore by a cable previously fastened to it and then completed. The " gunwales" were trimmed off at the prow to give the boat the proper " rake"; sides about four feet high were added by nailing clapboards on studding framed in the sills or "gunwales," and then the whole was roofed over with boards projecting over the sides to shed the water perfectly, and rounded from one side to the other, the center being about five and a half to six feet high. About six feet of the stern was boarded off for a cabin, provided with bunks on either side and a stone fire-place with " cat and clay" chimney. About three feet of the front end was left inclosed to prevent the greater damage of snags, and when provided with sweeps on each side and a steering oar in the rear the craft was complete. These boats differed in size and would carry from two to five thousand bushels of grain. At first each man was his own pilot, but as the business increased there were those whose frequent trips down the river gave their judgment a money value, and providing themselves with published charts of the river, they set up as pilots. These men were subsequently hired to navigate the boats and were paid at first from $50 to $75 a trip, and later, according to the length of the boat, a dollar per linear foot. From three to eight hands were employed as crew at about $30 per 'rip, all employes being boarded on the trip, and all paying the entire expense of their return. The whole cost of such a trip including boats was from $300 to $400, though a part of this was recovered by the sale of the boat in New Orleans, which lessened the net cost by some twenty-five to seventy-five dollars. If the boat was made of carefully selected lumber, and the market was favorable the cost of the boat was sometimes realized.

The land which was held by speculators came into market about 1831, by public sale, and the township to which the pages are devoted rapidly settled up. There had been some development of business interests before tins, but the prosperity of Darwin dates from this change. The farmers found but little demand at home for their surplus crops and emulating the example of other settlements began very early to ship their produce down the river. When all were engaged it is difficult to learn when or by whom the first boat was sent out from Darwin, but almost every farmer took part in this undertaking to a more or less extent. The boats were manufactured on the banks of the river by the farmer who used them though it subsequently became a considerable business to which some devoted their attention exclusively, selling a finished boat at a dollar per linear foot. The plan was to take a fine poplar or sycamore tree, hew it in rectangular shape about 18 by 24 inches. This was split through the middle leaving strips about 12 by I8 inches and of lengths varying from 55 to 75 feet. These were the " gunwales " and formed the main strength of the structure. The heart side was placed outward and on the inner lower corner was cut a "gain " large enough to allow the two-inch flooring to rest in it and come to the level of the bottom of the " gunwale." The width of the boats was from 15 to 20 feet and was established by cross-pieces framed in the "gunwales" at moderate distances apart. Lengthwise the boat was further strengthened by "streamers " running parallel with the " gunwales " about four feet apart. Upon this frame work, securely framed and fastened together, a flooring of two-inch planks was laid double, pinned with wooden pins and heavy nails. The boat thus far constructed was bottom side up, and after being well caulked the difficulty was to turn it over to be finished. The practice was to choose a location on the bank of the river convenient for launching, and when the work reached this stage, to turn it on the land, though the more skillful turned them in the water. If it was done on the .'and, the neighborhood was invited, and all joined in lifting the one side of the wooden leviathan and letting it fall on brush heaps an.l a multitude of hoop-poles somewhat inclined to break its fall. This was attended with considerable risk of damage and the other way was preferred. This was to place a temporary board railing on one side and the ends. Against this an embankment, of earth was placed on the boat, and thus prepared it was launched into the stream and towed by yawls into the deep water. The side of the boat weighted with earth was placed across the current up the stream and while held in this position the embankment of earth was broken in two places to allow the water to run over the top. The weight of the earth held one side considerably lower than the other and on being broken down the current got such hold of it as to turn it right under the stream. Great care was necessary to prevent the embankment from being broken prematurely, and for those who manage-ed the turning to escape a serious wetting bv leaping in a small boat kept near at hand. When turned, it was hauled to shore by a cable previously fastened to it and then completed. The " gunwales" were trimmed off at the prow to give the boat the proper " rake"; sides about four feet high were added by nailing clapboards on studding framed in the sills or "gunwales," and then the whole was roofed over with boards projecting over the sides to shed the water perfectly, and rounded from one side to the other, the center being about five and a half to six feet high. About six feet of the stern was boarded off for a cabin, provided with bunks on either side and a stone fire-place with " cat and clay" chimney. About three feet of the front end was left inclosed to prevent the greater damage of snags, and when provided with sweeps on each side and a steering oar in the rear the craft was complete. These boats differed in size and would carry from two to five thousand bushels of grain. At first each man was his own pilot, but as the business increased there were those whose frequent trips down the river gave their judgment a money value, and providing themselves with published charts of the river, they set up as pilots. These men were subsequently hired to navigate the boats and were paid at first from $50 to $75 a trip, and later, according to the length of the boat, a dollar per linear foot. From three to eight hands were employed as crew at about $30 per trip, all employes being boarded on the trip, and all paying the entire expense of their return. The whole cost of such a trip including boats was from $300 to $400, though a part of this was recovered by the sale of the boat in New Orleans, which lessened the net cost by some twenty-five to seventy-five dollars. If the boat was made of carefully selected lumber, and the market was favorable the cost of the boat was sometimes realized.

The quickest trips from Darwin to New Orleans were one in fourteen days, and one in sixteen days, the average trip being somewhat longer and depending upon the weather. The start was generally made upon the spring flood and if the nights were clear and light, no snags were encountered, and no delays occasioned by " tying up " to the bank at night as a matter of prudence, the quickest time mentioned could be attained. But such a favorable combination of circumstances were seldom known. These trips though accomplished by men unfamiliar with the science of navigation were not free from serious risks of personal danger and financial embarrassment. After steamboats began to ply the Mississippi and Ohio the danger of being run down by them was very great in dark nights, and the general practice w;is to lie by on such occasions. At first the only signal lights were torches, and later, lanterns. All experience is related when one of these boats had entered a shute near one of the islands in the Mississippi, the crew heard a steamer coming up the stream. The channel ran close to the island and the night being dark there was the greatest danger of a collision. A man was placed on the bow with a lantern but the steamer seemed to be coming directly on the boat. The lantern was waved and everything possible was done to indicate the location of the boat to the steamer's pilot but seemingly of no avail; but just at the point of contact the steamboat sheered off, but with so small space between that the name of the boat could be read by the light of the lantern. On another occasion a snag struck the rake of the boat so far back as to let the water into the cargo and as it could not be reached the boat began to sink. Fortunately it was loaded with corn on the ear and after settling down more than half way the boat floated and was subsequently saved. Though such incidents were common the voyagers from this settlement never suffered any serious losses or accidents. This river traffic attained vast proportions, from fifty to seventy-five boats passing the settlement in a day during the season, and this continued up to about 1861 with almost unabated vigor. With such business activity the development of a village was certain, but long before the business had attained any considerable proportions a beginning for a village had been made. A town was platted very early on a part of, or near, the site of Darwin Village, probably by Doctor Patrick and John Essarey. Septer and Charles Patrick were emigrants from Auburn, near New York, and came here in 1818. Septer Patrick was a physician of more than ordinary ability, and both were active, enterprising men, who appreciated the advantages of the landing and laid out the village of Sterling. In the following year the county was formed and in connection with Chester Fitch, Doctor Patrick laid out Aurora on the bend of the river above Darwin, securing the location of the county seat at that point. It is probable that though the site of Sterling was more eligible for a town, the persons interested did not command land enough to make the investment profitable and so moved up the river. The site chosen had but a single feature to recommend the location. The landing is one of the best on the river, but there was no room for the town without climbing a bluff which would be the death of any village enterprise. Nevertheless, the county seat was fixed at Aurora, a courthouse was built, but that was the end of the project. The court house still remains to do service as a stable, and a single residence, that of O. C. Lowell, marks the site of the ambitious village. The county seat was subsequently changed to Darwin, which was laid out on land contributed by John McClure, and it is said received its name from Doctor Patrick after the father of Charles Darwin, the celebrated naturalist and author. The prestige of the county seat did little for the growth of Aurora. The Leonard brothers and Doctor Patrick moved there and began some business enterprises, and Silas Hoskin opened a tavern, but the failure of this enterprise was a foregone conclusion. Darwin flourished as though it had no near rival. John Essarey was licensed to keep a tavern " at his now place of residence, situate near John McClure's at the head of Walnut Prairie," and McClure was licensed " to keep a ferry across the Wabash River at his house." Thus competition was fairly begun between the rivals at the first term of the commissioners' court. There was no difference of opinion in the minds of the people upon the merits of the two situations, and it was simply a contest between the energy and influence of Doctor Patrick on one side, and the judgment of the whole county backed by the manifest advantage of the Darwin location on the other. The outcome could scarcely be in doubt and yet it was delayed until January, 1823, when by act of the Legislature the county seat was changed. The early competition seems to have aroused no active jealousies, and the course of Darwin seems to have been henceforward as smooth as could be, in the nature of things. Acquiring the county seat did little more for Darwin, at first, than to give it a recognized position as a village and rid it of an annoying rivalry. In IS, 4, it received a valuable accession, in W. P. Bennett, a native of New York, and a prominent attorney. In the same year, John Stockwell, a native of Massachusetts came. He had wandered to New Hampshire, and in 1S"23, hail gone down the river as one of a flat boat crew to New Orleans. Here he met Dr. Patrick and through his influence, in 1824, came to Darwin. In the following year, Justin Harlan came from Ohio, and Uri Manley from Massachusetts. These accessions, with others of about the same time, gave to Darwin that which it most stood in need of, an element fitted to discharge the new responsibilities laid upon it by the removal of the seat of justice, with credit and ability. In 1825 the village was regularly platted and recorded. The original village comprising sixteen blocks of eight lots each, laid out parallel with the river, on what was known as McClure's bluff. It was situated on the first "bench," commanding one of the pleasantest outlooks on the river, and overlooking a considerable extent of sloping bottom land, which served as an admirable boat landing. With the beginning of such individuality came the hotel. Succeeding Essarey, came Samuel Baldy; in another part of the town, Mrs. Nathaniel McClure kept hotel for a number of years, and James P. Jones. The change is keenly felt by those who still survive pioneer days, and they are few indeed, who do not speak with heart-felt regret at the passing of these "good old times." There was no spirit of caste in the settlement of Darwin. The richest were poor, and the poor lived in abundance, and each one who came to share the responsibilities of the community were at once taken into the charmed circle of frontier hospitality. Logging and cabin raisings brought the men together for miles around, while quilting, cotton-picking, spinning, apple-paring, and husking brought together the young and old of both sexes. These occasions often closed with a supper and a dance when the men came in. Samuel Yocum and Thomas Carico were the violinists in demand and gave their services free of charge. On holiday occasions, Christmas, 4th of July, etc., a regular ball was the special entertainment, but " bussing-bees "as the older ones called them, or games of forfeit were the general feature of ordinary gatherings. Cards were generally played by both sexes and an evening call was hardly complete without a few games of eucher or whist. The sterner sex, however, seemed to demand a stronger excitement and shooting matches, horse-racing and gambling rapidly grew into favor. In fact they became the absorbing pleasure and Darwin early gained a reputation for these excitements that was the reverse of flattering. With all this there was an unstinted use of whiskey which, contrary to the usual statement of " old settlers," did make the people drunk and incite to deeds of ruffianism. The women were generally " tee-totalers." Occasionally they sipped a little toddy but their influence was, as a class, against the use of whisk, although their education did not lead them to any active persuasion against it. To this should be added a general disregard for the Sabbath. There were earnest Christian people in the early settlement, who had imbibed the Puritan notion of Sunday, but they were helplessly in the minority, and the Lord's day was a special holiday for this vicious class of excitements.

The first store was opened by Worden & Wooster, in a cabin fronting on the river, just north of the Harlan residence, which was erected by Mr. Kibbey. These merchants first made their appearance in Darwin about 1829. They were traders on a keel-boat, and were in the habit of tying up opposite a village for a few days, to supply such trade as the local stores did not furnish. They were persuaded by some of the citizens to locate here, though they stayed only about a year. They were succeeded in the fall of 1830 by John and James Waters, who used the log cabin for a while, but subsequently erected a brick building, which still stands on the river bank in the northern part of the village. These men were active, enterprising men of business, and began buying grain and produce of the farmers in exchange for goods. The grain they marketed in New Orleans, sending from six to a dozen boats down the river in a season. James became somewhat dissipated and did much to hinder the success of the firm, and subsequently sold his interest to his brother. John carried the business on until his death in 1847, amassing considerable property, which he lost, however, in unfortunate speculations. In the meanwhile, Knott & Philips opened a small grocery store in a building which stood on the river front, near the present mill. Knott subsequently succeeded to the sole proprietorship of the business, and built a large frame structure, which he sold soon after to Clark & Geer, who carried on a large general store for a number of years.

The agitation in reference to a removal of the county seat, which occurred from 1833 to 1837, had a very depressing influence upon the prosperity of Darwin. It was felt by its citizens that the town would sink into insignificance; and this impression had such an effect upon outsiders, that these years were years of stagnation in business matters. Contrary to all expectation, however, when once the matter was decided, the despondent village livened into an unprecedented activity. Roads leading to Charleston, Oakland, and to Effingham, had been established, and Darwin began to grow into a distributing point hardly less important than Terre Haute. About this time James and Harry Ross came from the latter place and did a thriving business. They handled immense quantities of grain, built and conducted a large pork packing establishment, and in three years made a large amount of money. They were succeeded by Allen Sackrider, who continued this line of business, and gradually worked into the commission and forwarding business on the most extensive scale. In the season of bad roads, when country merchants found it difficult to remove their goods, the whole town seemed to be filled with Sackrider's consignments. The whole flat in front of the town would be covered, and every empty building and stable filled with these goods. It was no uncommon thing to see three or four steamboats unloading at once, and it was a source of considerable strife among the boatmen to secure a clear space for unloading. Mr. Sackrider carried on a successful business here until 1868, when he closed out his stock and went to Terre Haute.

Among the earliest manufacturing interests of the town was a tannery established by James B. Anderson about 1829. About 1822 the Patrick brothers built a large log building on the site of Aurora for a distillery. Here they manufactured the grain obtained of the farmers into whisk and shipped considerable quantities down the river. The distillery had a capacity of about two barrels per day, and was continued some seven years, when it was abandoned. Alexander McClure had another manufactory of this kind at Darwin, but continued it only some two years. The first mill, a saw and grist mill combined, near the central part of town. It was propelled by steam, and was burned down, and rebuilt by Cory. It was again torned down, and rebuilt by Thomas Underwood, and still serves the purpose of its construction. A man of some ingenuity, by the name of Bennett, constructed a mill on the bank of the river with a wheel situated on a float so as to utilize the current of the river. It was adapted to the rise and fall of the water, and served its purpose well until the ice of a spring freshet carried it off. The prosperity of the town, however, depended upon its success as a distributing point. The construction of the railroad from Indianapolis to Terre Haute struck a staggering blow at this success, the effect of which was emphasized by the Vandalia route in 1870. The present village is a quiet little town of some two hundred inhabitants, with but little to remind one of its early greatness. A store, blacksmith shop and mill remain of its business activity, and a ferry still serves as a connecting link between the ends of the highway which touches either shore of the river at this point, but it is no longer the metropolis of Clark County. The pioneer preacher in this settlement, and indeed in the county, was Rev. James McCord. He was a native of North Carolina, self-educated in theology, and self-appointed to the ministry. Traveling up and down the Wabash valley, he preached in the cabins and groves, without money and without price. He was a loud and earnest singer, and never failed to tell his audiences of his trip up the river on his first arrival at Vincennes. He was instrumental in achieving much good, and prepared the way for others who gathered much from his sowing. The first regular Methodist itinerant here was Rev. Aaron Wood. He was a man of good intellectual ability, and became a prominent man in church circles here. In 1830 Rev. Enoch Bouten, of the Presbyterian denomination, organized a church in Darwin, among the members of which were James Smith, George and Thomas Armstrong, Mrs. John Chenoweth and John Welch and wife. Services were held in the old court house, and for three years Rev. Bennett presided as pastor. He was a native of Philadelphia, an early settler in Coles County, and a man of good ability. He held services once a month, but was so strict —actually demanding order during services—that the people conceived a dislike for him. It is said that he was an old bachelor, and that this circumstance had soured his disposition. Rev. Thayer, a native of Massachusetts, and a man of fine intelligence, succeeded Mr. Bennett, and preached at intervals for upward of two years. Doctor Baldridge was also an early minister of this society, but moved subsequently to York, where a church was organized. This organization never erected a place of worship, and eventually died out. In the same year a Methodist Church was formed at Darwin Village by Rev. James McCabe and the Presiding Elder, Michael S. Taylor, of the same circuit. The original members were John A. Williams, Peleg Sanford and their wives, and Bates Besser and wife. Services were at first held in the old court house and in the cabin of John A. Williams, until about 1843, when the church erected a good brick building at a cost of about $1,100. Among the pastors of the church were Revs. W. S. Crissey, John Chamberlain, Asa McMurtry, John Adams, W. C. Blundell, Markle, etc. The church has lost considerable strength by removals, and is not now in a vigorous condition, services now being held irregularly. was built by LeRoy Cory on the river bank near the central part of town. It was propelled by steam, and was burned down, and rebuilt by Cory. It was again turned down, and rebuilt by Thomas Underwood, and still serves the purpose of its construction. A man of some ingenuity, by the name of Bennett, constructed a mill on the bank of the river with a wheel situated on a float so as to utilize the current of the river. It was adapted to the rise and fall of the water, and served its purpose well until the ice of a spring freshet carried it off. The prosperity of the town, however, depended upon its success as a distributing point. The construction of the railroad from Indianapolis to Terre Haute struck a staggering blow at this success, the effect of which was emphasized by the Vandalia route in 1870. The present village is a quiet little town of some two hundred inhabitants, with but little to remind one of its early greatness. A store, blacksmith shop and mill remain of its business activity, and a ferry still serves as a connecting link between the ends of the highway which touches either shore of the river at this point, but it is no longer the metropolis of Clark County.

The pioneer preacher in this settlement, and indeed in the county, was Rev. James McCord. He was a native of North Carolina, self-educated in theology, and self-appointed to the ministry. Traveling up and down the Wabash valley, he preached in the cabins and groves, without money and without price. He was a loud and earnest singer, and never failed to tell his audiences of his trip up the river on his first arrival at Vincennes. He was instrumental in achieving much good, and prepared the way for others who gathered much from his sowing. The first regular Methodist itinerant here was Rev. Aaron Wood. He was a man of good intellectual ability, and became a prominent man in church circles here. In 1830 Rev. Enoch Bouten, of the Presbyterian denomination, organized a church in Darwin, among the members of which were James Smith, George and Thomas Armstrong, Mrs. John Chenoweth and John Welch and wife. Services were held in the old court house, and for three years Rev. Bennett presided as pastor. He was a native of Philadelphia, an early settler in Coles County, and a man of good ability. He held services once a month, but was so strict — actually demanding order during services—that the people conceived a dislike for him. It is said that he was an old bachelor, and that this circumstance had soured his disposition. Rev. Thayer, a native of Massachusetts, and a man of fine intelligence, succeeded Mr. Bennett, and preached at intervals for upward of two years. Doctor Baldridge was also an early minister of this society, but moved subsequently to York, where a church was organized. This organization never erected a place of worship, and eventually died out.

In the same year a Methodist Church was formed at Darwin Village by Rev. James McCabe and the Presiding Elder, Michael S. Taylor, of the same circuit. The original members were John A. Williams, Peter Sanford and their wives, and Bates Besser and wife. Services were at first held in the old court house and in the cabin of John A. Williams, until about 1843, when the church erected a good brick building at a cost of about $1,100. Among the pastors of the church were Revs. W. S. Crissey, John Chamberlain, Asa McMurtry, John Adams, W. C. Blundell, Markle, etc. The church has lost considerable strength by removals, and is not now in a vigorous condition, services now being held irregularly.




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