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Genealogy Trails - Jersey County, Illinois

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Pioneer Families

Grimes Family
Philip Grimes was born in Oldtown, Va., in 1782, and moved to Tennessee in 1808, where he married; enlisted in the War of 1812, was with General Jackson at the battle of New Orleans, moved to Wood River, Madison Co., Ill., in 1816; in fall of 1818, he built a log cabin on section 2, English Township; in 1819 moved there, and January 20, 1820, his son, Jarrett T. Grimes, was born. In the fall of that year, he sold his improvement to Jehu Brown, and removed to section 23 of the same township, where he lived until his death in 1851. Jarrett T. Grimes lived with his father until manhood, and was a close neighbor during his father's life. Thus it will be seen that he lived thirty-one years in intercourse with his father, having the benefit of learning the early history of the country, the habits, trials, and experiences of the people from one who had lived through them. Jarrett T. Grimes, the son, died July 11, 1915, at the age of ninety-five years, five months, and twenty-one days, leaving children, grandchildren, and neighbors, to perpetuate this stream of information. Philip Grimes was born before the Treaty of Versailles was signed, ending the Revolutionary War, and six years before Washington was first elected president of the United States, and in addition to participating in so much history making he had ample opportunities, to learn the previous history of his country from his ancestors.

The Gillham Family
William Gillham was the father of John D. and Ezekiel Gillham, and the father-in-law of John G. Lofton and John McDow. He and his father, Thomas Gillham, six brothers, and two brother-in-laws, were Revolutionary soldiers. After the close of the war, in 1812, William and four of his brothers located in Madison Co. Ill., where four of them remained, but William and his family located in Lofton's Prairie in 1818, and he died at the residence of his son, John D., in 1825. His father, Thomas Gillham, came from Ireland and settled in Virginia in 1730, later moving to South Carolina, where he reared his family, and he and all of the male portion of the family enlisted in behalf of the Colonies, and through William and his family, their direct knowledge, experiences and family history may be traced back of the establishment of the government of the United States.

The Hamilton Family
The Hamilton Family is another illustration. It was settled in Vermont soon after its cession to England by France under the Treaty of 1763, and in the first United States Census of Vermont, 1790, Hamiltons are listed as follows: Elisha, John, Aaron, and Nathaniel in Chittenden County; Charles, Duduley, and Joseph. Elisha was married to Mary Smith, and Nathaniel, their son, was married to Betzy McClure. The dates of these marriages are now lost, but Thomas McClure Hamilton was born January 3, 1785, and died at Otterville, December 9, 1844. He was married to Apphia Brown November 11, 1805. Nathaniel, their son, was born March 24, 1814. He was married to Mary B. Dougherty July 9, 1835, and he died August 2, 1893. Oscar B., their son, was born January 31, 1839. He was married to Eliza M. Brown October 25, 1860, and they are both still living. Captain Nathaniel Hamilton of Vermont was of the "Green Mountain Boys" under General Eathan Allen and Stark. Apphia Brown, who was married to Thomas M. Hamilton, was a daughter of Capt. Benjamin Brown, who was born in Licester, Mass., October 17, 1745. He was married to Jean Thomas July 9, 1772. He died October 21, 1821. She died January 14, 1840. They both died at the home of their son, Gen. John Brown, the founder of Athens University, Athens, Ohio. Capt. Benjamin Brown, as one of the minute men, participated in the battles of Lexington and Concord, in Colonel Bernard's regiment, and in the battle of Bunker Hill, where he had one brother killed and another wounded. He was commissioned lieutenant in Captain Maxwell's company, of Colonel Prescott's regiment Massachuttes Line, December, 1776, and commissioned captain in Col. Micheal Jackson's Eighth regiment Massachuttes Line, holding his commission til 1779, and he was pensioned for service after his removal to Ohio.Apphia Hamilton, third child of Captain Brown, was a woman to remarkably strong intellect, and a retentive memory, and was a great reader. Writing in her diary, when eighty years of age, Mrs. Mary A.C. Hamilton, widow of B.B. Hamilton says "Thomas McClure Hamilton was a deacon in the Baptist Church, and a man upon whom a man might call for advice or help in any emergency. He was always faithful to the sick and sorrowing, in fact, a leading member of society, whose word was suffcient" What "Uncle" Thomas said no one ever disputed. His wife, too, known far and near as "Aunt" Apphia, was considered the most intelligent and best informed person, man or woman, in the neighborhood. If there was any doubt on any question, historical or political, "Aunt" Opphia was called upon to settle it. She was a great reader, and kept herself well-informed on all the important questions of the day. She was active and efficient in the church, and, not withstanding all these demands upon her time, she never neglected her household, even the family weaving was done by her hand. Her father was born in 1745 and died in 1821. She was born in 1788 (before Washington was elected President of the United States), and she died September 8, 1869, at the residence of the writer. She remembered distinetly the death of Washington, and the profound impression imposed upon the public mind by that important event. Afterward the family moved to New Design, Monroe County, Il. At the time when many slave-owners were removing with their slaves and other chattels to Missouri, their main road of travel was through New Design, and, among others whom she mentioned as stopping there overnight in their home, was Sterling Price, afterwards governor of Missouri and general in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. At the time mentioned by her, Mr. Price was a young man, of modest and agreeable demeanor, and was in charge of one hundred slave, and the other effects of his father, who had made the trip by river. This will serve to illustrate how these chains of family history may be traced back into colonial times, before the Declaration of Independence, and the government of the United States had assumed definite form as historic events.

Lofton's Prairie
John B. Lofton, who had been a member of the Territorial House of Representives and was at the time of the state's admission to the Union, a member of the Territorial Council from Madison County, was in 1822, a candidate for Lieutenant Governor on the ticket with Governer Coles. He wa defeated for that office by Adolphus F. Hubbard, although he carreid Greene County over Hubbard who was elected by 224 majority. He, with his brothers-in-laws, John D. ad Ezekiel Gillham , in 1818, settled in what is now, Mississippi Township, in what was henceforth known as Lofton's Prairie , so named in honor of its most eminent citizen. For a number of years this settlement was the center of the most intelligent, enterprising and progressive peopl.e of the county, and it was the most closely settled. Mr. Lofton was the first Judge of probate in the new county of Greene. Under teh administration of President John Quincy Adams, Mr. Lofton was appointed receiver of the land office at Lewiston, Fulton County, Ill., which office he held for two years and then resigned it and returned to his home in Lofton's Prairie , where he remained until his decease in 1837, leaving his widow and three sons, Thomas C., Samuel A., and John W Lofton. Thomas McDow, Robert McDow and Joab White all married sisters of John G. Lofton, and all settled in the vicinity of Lofton's Prairie In fact, this settlement was largely made by the Lofton's, Gillhams, McDows, Lurtons, Whites, Beemans, Cummings, Carrolls, Waggoners, Slatens, Cockrells, Darlingtons, Swains, Utts, Piggotts, Chappells, Briggs, Spauldings, Browns and their relatives, either of blood or marriage.

Other Old Families
There is a number of other families in this county, whose history could, in like manner, be traced back to French and colonial times, but space will not permit tracing these connections. Among many others might be mentioned: Whites, Browns, Simmons, Elliots, Ruyles, Ryan, Rhodes,Palmers, Reddishes, Pattersons, Coopers, Englishes, Belts, Bates, Slatens, Brocks, Sissons, Doughterys, Noble, Lurton, Cockrell, Utt Cummings, Black, Wyckoff, VanHorne, Cross, D'Arcy, Terry, Dabbs, Henson, Beeman, Bray Wedding, Williams, Gunterman, Carrico, Waggoner, McDow, Piggott,Bowmans, McCollisters Snells, Landons, Erwins, Rices, Downeys, Kirbys, Miners, et als. [Source: History of Jersey County]

Source: [Excerpts extracted from the book, History of Jersey County Illinois - Published 1919 - Chapter XI - Early Settlers, pages 78 - 79] Transcribed by Koni Proctor