Lawrence County, Illinois
Genealogy and History
Genealogy Trails - Finding Ancestors wherever their trails led

 

line
Pioneers and Early Settlers
of Lawrence County, IL
line


From: "Combined history of Edwards, Lawrence and Wabash Counties, Illinois : with illustrations descriptive of their scenery and biographical sketches of some of their prominent men and pioneers".
Philadelphia: J.L. McDonough & Co., 1883

Transcribed by ©K. Torp

LAWRENCE COUNTY.

The French led the van in the settlement of the Illinois territory. Their primary object was commerce with the Indian tribes; and to this end they established trading posts, and manifested to the untutored savage initial evidences of civilization. Secondary to this, the French missionaries, by their pious devotion, their spotless character and their quiet, unassuming and disinterested lives, gained the favorable attention and respect of the natives. The suavity of the manners of the French, and the softness of their outward bearing and presence, and moreover their compliance, to some extent, with the Indian modes of life, gained for them the rude respect of the aborigines and operated as a safeguard against that savage outrage which was often mercilessly visited upon the American and English settlers. In the early part of the seventeenth century a French settlement and trading post was established at Vincennes, on the Wabash, then one of the great avenues from the St. Lawrence to the Illinois country. From this French colony the first settlements in Lawrence county originated. By a French rule settlers received allotments of land, which they located at pleasure. Many of them chose their portions in what is now the
county of Lawrence. Little is known of them except their names on record. They were required to be resident settlers prior to 1783. The following is a list of these grantees, mainly French but partly Anglo-American :

J. B. Dumais, Francois Bosseron,---------Roux, Paul Gamelin, Pierre Barthe, Pierre Carnoyer, Francois Brouiliat, Joseph Durharm, Joseph Huniot, Madame Denoyon, Louis Denoyon, August Du Gal, J. B. Villery, Toussaint Denoyon, Francois Bosseron, Jr., Joseph Tougas, Antoine Bardeleau, Liurent Bazadon, Alexis Ladavont, Joseph Durocher, Madame Cornoyer, Francois Pettier, Louis Raveilate, Philip Dejean, Pierre Grimayoe, Lezate Clairmont, Widow Maria, Heirs of Dubois, Jean Leguarde, Jean Baptist Culy, Pierre Godairie, Nic Ballenjeau Alexauder Valle, Jacques Lallemoille, Ambrois Degenet, Jacques Couteaux, Jean Sauvage, Baptiste Bonate, Joseph Tougas, Jacques Louis, Jean B. Vaudry, Louis Boisjean, Jean B. Racine, Jean C. Thiriot, Gabriel Boulon, Pierre Levriet, Etienne St. Marie and Francois St. Marie; Jacob Howell, Hannah Dalton, Solomon Small, Lawrence Slaughter, John Bailey; Moses Decker, Henry Speek, probably Germans; Moses Henry, John Culberton, G. R. Clark, heirs of Ezekiel Johnson, Israel Ruland, Andrew Robinson, Francis Hamlin, V. T. Dutton, Thomas Hall, Christopher Wyatt and Nicholas Varner.
The title to the lands occupied by parties named in the foregoing list originated by donations made by French commandants of Vincennes prior to 1764, also by English commandants, 1764-1778, by Virginia improvement rights, and lastly by grants of the United States, their so-called head of family rights and militia rights. Winthrop Sargent, acting as governor in place of Arthur St. Clair in 1790, granted small tracts of land to Luke Decker, Robert Buntin, Henry Vanderburgh and Samuel Bradley. The court at Vincennes, by authority delegated to it by M. Le Gras, Col. John Todd's lieutenant, about 1780, granted to Pierre Luerez, father and son, ten leagues (30 miles) " deep," of which they sold various tracts to other parties. Isaac Decker bought 2000, John Powell 5000 and Thomas Flower 20,000 acres of them. Pierrie Gamelin came in for a large share also, which enabled him to sell 27.000 acres to Nicholas Perrott and 41,000 acres to Thomas Flower.
"What may be termed modern settlement in Lawrence county dates back to the beginning of the present century. The immigration and settlement prior to that time might, in most instances at least, more properly be called speculation. At all events they were not "actual," in the moral sense of the term, so as to be permanent, though they may have answered legal requirement. But before proceeding to speak of the modern settlements, it may be pertinent to add something concerning the early marriages, performing as they did indirectly an important function in the settlement and development of the county. The records show the following marriages solemnized in the county during the first years of its existence. A number of licenses issued at that time seem to have been wasted, inasmuch as there is no evidence of the proper binding of the nuptial knots in many instances:

Squire Thomas Anderson solemnized the marriage of Mr. Benjamin Norton and Nancy Thorn, on the 20th of June, 1821. It is to be hoped that their path through life was freed from thorns, and strewn with roses instead. Andrew Carns and Nellie Anderson joined hands for life on the 27th of June, Squire Benjamin McCleave officiating. Thomas Gordon and Sarah Butler, June 30, married by J. C. Clark, a minister of the gospel; Samuel Mundell and Nancy Adams, July 19, by H. M. Gillham, J. P.; P. Bourdelon and Julia Aupin, July 31, by Rev. J. C Clark; Jetson Gowen and Nancy Morris, August 6, by James Westfall, J. P.; John Smith and Elizabeth Baird, September 9, by H. M. Gillham, J. P,; Jonathan Phelps and Sally Gowen, by Daniel Travis, September 26; John Armstrong and Susannah Lemons, October 17, by Squire Anderson; John Hunter and Mary Robinson, December 13, by same; William Martin and Syrithia Clark, December 13, by John Martin, M. G.; Henry Jones and Ibby Lester, Dec. 20, by Joseph Baird, J. P.; Aaron Wells and Catherine Vanosdall, Dec. 25, by Squire Anderson ; James Miller and Nancy McBeans, January 4,1822, by 'Squire Baird; Samuel V. Allison and Matilda Mills, Feb. 8, by same; Joshua S. Johnson and Mary Gardner, April 23, by J. C. Ruark, J. P.; Samuel Herron and Martha Leech, Sept. 14, by J. C Clark, M. G.; Robert Barney and Casiah Pargin, July 3, by Benjamin McClean, J. P.; Jacob Parker and Peggy Dockery, September 2, 1822, executed by Squire McLean ; Henry Reineyking and Matilda Chenowith, September 21, by Squire Anderson ; Joshua Dudley and Barbery Clark, October 19, by same; Nathaniel Hysmith and Elizabeth Matthews, Nov. 11, by J. Baird, J. P.; Oliver W. Phelps and Hannah Mason, January 4,1823, by S. H. Clubb, J. P.; Elihu Cole and Letty Morris, Jan. 22, by Squire Anderson ; John Organ and Jane Gilbert, Feb. 4, by same; Peter Cisco and Eliza Chandler, Feb 11, by James Nabb, J. P.; John Snider and Nancy Allison, March 17, by Joseph Baird, J. P.; Benjamin Sumner and Sally Laws, June 7, by S. H. Clubb, J. P.; Charles Martin and Betsey Spencer, July 18, by Rev. Clark; Thomas Parson and Eliza Huston, July 28, by William Kinkard, J. P.; Andrew McClure and Betsey Allison, September 24, by Joseph Baird, J. P.; James Leeds and Judy Mattox, Oct. 5, by B. McCleave, J. P. ; Philip Lewis and Polly Craven, Nov. 12, by same; John Summers and Emily Woodrow, Dec. 4, by Squire Kinkade—13 marriages during the first half-year of the county's existence, 9 in the full year, 1822, and 13 during the year 1823.

Settlements for the purposes of permanent residence, improvement and agriculture were made along the Wabash opposite Vincennes, and principally at St. Francisville. These were made by French immigrants from Vincenes and Canada. An American settlement was formed at Russellville prior to 1812, and another at Centerville in 1815, called the Christian settlement, as most of that community were members of the Christian church. Those in the interior of the county were formed at a later date, after the storm of war had passed entirely away and the Indians had become reconciled to the advance of civilization. Although less characteristic and definite, they continued to be formed into neighborhoods, as acquaintanceship, agreement in religion, or color or eligibility of locality suggested.

The negro settlement was in the vicinity of Pinkstaff station, and the Lackey neighborhood, some distance east of this locality. Charlottesville, on the Embarras, is the site of the Shaker colony formed in 1819. The Corrie purchase, resulting in the acquisition of a large tract of land in Decker's prairie by John and William Corrie, of Scotland, was made in 1818; shortly after this date it was settled by the Corries and their connections. Ruark's prairie, in the southeastern part of Lukin township, was settled by a family of that name.

The French settlement of St. Francisville contained within it the elements of permanence, both in respect of locality and the habits of its members. The native language is still used, interchangeably with the English, in many households. Joseph Tugaw, properly Tougas, was the pioneer and first permanent settler, not only of this vicinity, but also of Lawrence county ; he came from Vincennes, and located on the present site of St. Francisville about the year 1803 or 1804; his two brothers, William and August Tougas, and John Longlois were with him there, but soon moved to what afterward became Rochester, in Wabash county, and were the first settlers in that vicinity. About the year 1809 or '10, came Francis Tougas, another of the four brothers, who assumed a leading part in the pioneer life of Lawrence and Wabash counties. They immigrated from Vincennes, and were marvels of physicial strength and stature ; Joseph was a leading spirit, and the center of influence in the settlement of which he formed a part; in 1814 he was the only slave-owner, except John Stillwell, in all that vast region, then known as Edwards county. In that year he was the only resident in said county who owned a "mansion house." Its taxable value was $300.00. In the year 1812 he constructed a picket or stockade fort for the protection of himself and his neighbors against the Indians ; it consisted of an enclosure formed by placing large stakes or pickets in the earth side by side. The enclosure was some twelve or fourteen feet high, and was a sort of city wall; for within were a number of log dwellings, for the use of the families that sought protection there; in two of the corners of the stockade were watchhouses, projecting beyond the enclosure, at the sides and at some distance above the ground, so as to command a view of the enemy that might be approaching. At night the heavy oaken doors were swung to and barred, the guards took their places in the watch-houses, and the drowsy inmates lay down to rest. Among the cabins within the enclosure was the negro hut, occupied by the slaves of Joseph Tugaw. Soon after his arrival, probably about 1805 or '06, Tugaw established a ferry on the Wabash, at St. Francisville; the boat with which it was operated was sufficient to carry two carts. The pioneer died at the home of his first choice, which afterward became the site of St. Francisville, of which his widow, Frances, was the original proprietor. Francis Tugaw settled about a mile and a half north of the village. Joseph and Amab Potvine, nicknamed and usually called Arpas, came from Vincennes about 1804 or '05; the former had three children, the latter was a bachelor; they settled a short jdistance west of the village. About the year 1806 or '08 the French settlement was augmented by the immigration from Vincennes of Andrew and Charles Lacoste, Pierre Gremore. L. Bonaut, Philip Deschaut, Andrew I Godaire and Joseph Venve; the latter settled south of St. Francisville, in the edge of Wabash county. At a little later date, but prior to 1813, the families of John Shirkey and Charles Moyes were added to the settlement. The latter received the pseudonym of Coy, meaning "spot." It originated from the circumstance that Moyes, on one occasion, went under the yoke from which Coy, his ox, had dropped dead, and assisted the other ox in hauling the load. Nearly all the early French settlers were familiarly known by some nickname, whose history would explain a laughable circumstance in the simple lives of these early French pioneers.

The settlement opposite Vincennes, at Wesport, never attained to much prominence, and was mainly accessory to the ferry established to accommodate travel to and from Vincennes, along the Cahokia and Kaskaskia traces. These highways from the Wabash to the Mississippi had been worked out by the Indians and buffaloes long before the advent of civilization. The ferry was operated, about the beginning of the present century, by Joseph La Motte, a Frenchman and Indian trader, whose round log cabin stood alone and solitary on the west bank of the Wabash. On more than one occasion was he obliged, single-handed, to defend it and his family against the attacks of the Indians; one night they climbed upon the roof, and though he was the only male inmate, he frightened them away by directing, in a loud voice, a number of persons to assume certain positions, and to do certain acts toward repelling the attack. But though the assailants left without doing material damage to the house, or bodily harm to its inmates, they led away its owner's horse. On another occasion, in 1809 or '10, anticipating an attack by some Indians he observed cross the river to Vincennes, he sent his wife and children out into the wood, and stood ready, single-handed and alone, to defend his habitation and his life; the looked-for onset was made, and the valor with which he defended himself and his home is sufficiently attested by the fact that, during the onset, he received seven bullet wounds; at day-break the Indians gave up the attack and left, but not without a number of injured in their ranks. Imagine the anxiety and horror that must have filled the souls of the wife and children as they sat in their solitary retreat, and listened to the sharp echoes of the rifles, as they sank to silence along the shores of the Wabash. La Motte was afterward killed by the Indians on the creek and in the prairie that still bear his name, in Crawford county. After his death his widow operated the ferry till about 1812, when it passed under the management of her son-in-law, James Gibson. Across the way from La Motte's lived a family named White. Also in that vicinity dwelt a family of Buntons, three of whom, the mother and two of three daughters, were, one afternoon, massacred; the remaining daughter, whose name was Jane, escaped and secreted herself in a cornfield till night, when she swam the Wabash to Vincennes. This brave girl, at the time of the massacre, was fortunately wearing on her head a handkerchief, after the manner of the French, whom the Indians were not wont to disturb, so long as they betrayed no affiliation with the Americans. If not suffered voluntarily to escape, she was probably reserved for more clemency of treatment, as captivity. About a mile below the ferry, at the "Ford," lived a French family, named Senette. Somewhere also, in this vicinity, was the home of Chas. Boneaut. Some distance above the ferry landing, on the bluff known as Dubois' hill, lived the family of that name; they had three sons, Toussaint, Lawrence, and Killgore; the family became conspicuous in the civil and business affairs of the county. Toussaint was drowned while crossing Indian creek. On Dubois' hill, in troublous Indian days, lived an old negro, called "Billy o' the Bow," and his dusky conjugal companion, Seeley by name; they lived together in a house not made with hands—a hollow sycamore tree—till their independent life together was brought to a close by a bullet from the rifle of some lurking Indian. Going north along the river till the vicinity of Russellville is reached, the settlements are of a more recent date.

This vicinity was settled about the year 1809 or '10 by some Baptist families from Kentucky. Most conspicuous among them were the Allisons, of whom there were four families, whose respective heads were Samuel and his two sons, Frederick and Ezra, and his brother Jonathan. Of these, the first possessed the element of pioneer the most prominently. He was fond of the pursuit of game, and frequently brought down, and dressed the saddles of as many as fifteen deer between sun and sun. When the redoubtable Tecumseh had impressed upon the remnant tribes in the Wabash valley, a sense of their supposed wrongs, and they began a career of depredation and pillage, the necessity of some means of life and property became apparent. A stockade fort was accordingly built in the spring of 1812, on Samuel Allison's improvement, now within the northern corporate limits of Russellville, called Fort Allison. The construction of this defensive arrangement was similar to that at St. Francisville, above described. Besides the Allisons, the families of Thomas Mills, William Stockwell, McBane, William Hogue, Daniel and Henry Kuykendall, and the colored families of Anderson, Morris, and Tannann were early inmates of the fort. Stockwell and Anderson were shot by the Indians, the former on returning from Fort La Motte, the latter somewhere in the neighborhood of Fort Allison. The wife of Anderson wanted a cannon mounted on Dubois hill to deal out indiscriminate slaughter among the Indians. During the days of "forting," 1812-1815, a party of thirteen Rangers, one rainy day, were passing from Fort La Motte to Fort Allison, and, when within half a mile of the latter, were fired upon by a number of Indians. They suffered no bodily harm or inconvenience, save that of the strange circumstance that the handkerchiefs they were wearing about their necks were, in two cases, shot away. The party on leaving Fort La Motte, discharged their guns, as a precaution against wet priming, and, when fired upon, were unable to return the attack. As Austin Tann was returning, one day, from Small's Mill on the Embarras, with a sack of meal, he was pursued by a band of Indians on ponies. He was riding a large horse and took refuge in the marsh, southwest of Russellville. His pursuers were unable to follow him with their ponies, and he escaped with the loss only of his grist. The pious community that settled at Russellville, established the pioneer church of Lawrence county. It was organized in 1817, and built a house of worship, in 1821. It was named Little Village church, which name was also given to the burial place that lay adjoining it. "Little Village " was an Indian hamlet that stood on the site of Russellville. This vicinity was an important one in the rude unwritten annals of savage life. This is shown by the existence of mounds, commonly in groups, scattered along the river for the distance of a mile and a half from Russellville south. Investigation shows that they were burial places, but whether they were used for ordinary interments or designed as monuments to the memory of those who had distinguished themselves in council or in battle, may be treated as a matter of conjecture. Among the characters of note, buried in this vicinity, was Little Turtle, the sworn enemy of the pale face, and the father of Captain William Wills, who had been taken captive, when a child, and who was killed in the Chicago massacre, in 1812. Around his neck, in life, he wore a neatly carved figure of the animal, whose name he bore, and when he died it was buried with him, and was a few years ago exhumed. Among the tribes, remnants of whom, at the advent of the white man, roamed over the territory of the county, in savage sport and pastime, by marsh and stream, and river and timber skirt, were the Miamis, Pottawotamies, Delawares, Shawnees and others. The latter through Tecumseh, claimed the whole of the Wabash valley, and endeavored to annul the title of government to such territory as it had acquired from other tribes. The dramatic interview between Tecumseh and Gov. Harrison in this behalf, has passed into history, and was witnessed by Austin Lann, an early colored pioneer. Communication between the east and west shores of the Wabash, in the vicinity of Russellville, was had at an early day by means of a ferry established and operated by a man named Lanafere. Though most of the early settlements were made along the Wabash, a few found their way into the interior, along the Cahokia and Kaskaskia traces, and the Embarras river. On the banks of this stream, about a mile and a quarter above its mouth, in 1805 or 1806, settled John Small. Shortly after this date, he built a frame water mill, which became familiarly known as Small's mill. After Small's death his widow married a man named Brown, and the mill was, in later years, called Brown's. It was among the very earliest, if not the first frame building, in the territory of Lawrence county. The dam was built of hewed logs, supported by rock and earth. It was a most important economic institution in those early days, and commanded trade from a wide extent of country. It was doubtless watched by the lurking Indians with an eye of unrest, as he read in it the sad prophecy of coming events. Tradition tells of many adventures with the natives at this point. Tecumseh and his fifteen hundred warriors encamped in this vicinity during the war of 1812. Some distance above the mill, in a little log cabin, at a locality called "Muscle shoals," lived William Harriman with his wife and four children. Seneca Amy, a young man, lived with them. Mrs. Harriman, for two successive nights, dreamed that she saw her children horribly butchered. She told her husband that she regarded the dreams as prophetic of their fate, unless they sought some place of safety. He endeavored to quiet her fears, but became himself apprehensive on account of a sulky disposition manifested by the natives whom he met, and yielded to her importunities. The family had gone to the river edge, when young Amy started back for a gun they had forgotten. He had not advanced far, when he saw the cabin surrounded by Indians, and, unobserved, dodged into the brush and escaped. They immediately followed in pursuit of the family, and shot Harriman seated in a pirogue, and tomahawked the mother and children. Tradition says there were also other victims of this massacre, which took place about the year 1812. The girls are said to have been beautiful, and to have had magnificent heads of long hair. Still farther up the river, it is said, another family fell victims to savage ferocity. One day two men left the, block-house, at the mill, and went down to the marsh to shoot duck. They were attacked and one of them was shot and tomahawked and scalped. John and Levi Compton, of the timber settlement in Wabash county, and Israel Potvine and Francis Tugaw buried him at the foot of a white oak tree, upon which they chopped a cross, yet to be seen. In 1805 or 1806, William Spencer built a double log house, where the Cahokia trace crossed the Embarras. It was subsequently moved farther down the river to Small's mill. Shortly after this, Nathan Rawlings settled on Indian creek, at the crossing of the trace.

With the exception of these few outpost settlements, the interior of Lawrence county remained unbroken wilderness till 1815, when the storm of war having passed away, immigration, which for three years had been entirely checked or confined to the fortifications along the Wabash, set rapidly in. The doors of the forts were also thrown open, and their inmates went forth to the avocations of peace. In this year the "Christian neighborhood," now the vicinity of Centerville, was settled by people of the New Light, afterward the Christian faith, principally from Tennessee. Among them were the Harrises, Howards, Rigses, Ashbrooks, Johnsons, Leneves, Turners, Andersons, Adamses, Lemons, Berries, and others equally worthy of mention. This was an important centre of industry, good neighborhood, and education in that early day. The "Center Schoolhouse," a double log building designed for school and church purposes, was put up in 1816 or '17, and in point of antiquity and importance, deserves a place at the head of educational and church efforts in the State of Illinois. Henry Palmer and Eli Harris, both of whom came to the settlement in 1815, were respectively the pioneer minister and teacher. The colored inmates of Fort Allison began a settlement in the neighborhood of Pinkstaff station, and as they were law-abiding like their fair-complexioned fellow-citizens, so they shared equally with them the blessings of protection and civil liberty. The soil of Illinois as a State is free from the taint of slavery. The sentiments of her people, with their broad liberality, and respect for the rights of man could never tolerate an institution whose essential features were a violation of those rights; rights whose sacredness depends not upon the character of the owner, but upon the character of the rights themselves. Most of the immigrants who brought slaves with them to the territory of Illinois, liberated them, as though her broad lands and spreading prairies were a moral rebuke. An effort was made, in 1816 or '17, by two Tennesseeans, William and John Leach, father and son, to establish a slave farm or plantation on an extensive scale in the neighborhood of Little Raccoon creek. This germ of the dark institution was crushed by the admission of Illinois into the Union as a free State. Not only did she guarantee liberty to those within her own borders, but in after years by her most gifted son, to every one within the broad limits of the United States. Though a feeling of equality, regardless of race or color, was a prevailing sentiment among the pioneers yet it is not strange that something of prejudice should have pervaded the minds of some individuals. And in this connection it may be pertinent to mention an incident related by Hon. O. B. Ficklin, not only as illustrating this point, but as throwing light upon the administration of justice in the county's infancy. During a wrangle at a drinking place in Lawrenceville, a negro hit a white man with a rock, and severely injured him. Knowledge of the affair came to the ears of one of the early resident justices of the place, who rushed headlong into the courtroom, where Judge Wilson was presiding, and hallooed out: "Judge Wilson, Judge Wilson, adjourn the court. A most grievous outrage has been committed; a nigger has hit a white man with a rock" The negro settlement, in the course of time, worked its way further south, and is now mainly within the northern confines of Lawrence township.

The next important settlement was that of a colony of Shakers, on the Embarras river, formed in 1819. The tenets and regulations of the sect were strictly carried out by this community. In their mode of life they were communistic, and their affairs were managed by a board of three trustees. The colony numbered about forty individuals, male and female, who lived separate and apart from each other. Their most important act was the building of the old "Shaker mill," the particulars of whose history may be learned from the chapter on Bond Township. The breaking and washing away of the mill dam about two years after their settlement, was the signal at which they left for other parts, principally Shakertown, Indiana, whence they came. The four years intervening between the return of peace, in 1815, and the formation of the settlement just mentioned brought many home seekers to the shores of Lawrence county, who penetrated into the interior. Their names will be found in their appropriate places in the township histories. They were a brave and hardy set of men, and nobly triumphed over the difficulties incident to life in a new country. Disease lingered in the marshes, the wild beasts stood ready to pounce on the fold, and the Indian, though nominally at peace with the pale face, was a walking embodiment of latent hostility that made the home of the settler a place of constant anxiety and unrest. James Baird was shot by an Indian while working in his field south of Russellville, in 1815 or 1816. In 1819 a family of McCalls settled some distance north of Lawrenceville. At that time, or shortly after, a party of Delaware Indians, from a camp on Brushy Fork, came to McCall's cabin and demanded whisky. He refused compliance with their demand, and they murdered him. Kill Buck, a chief, Captain Thomas and Big Panther were convicted of the crime, but from motives of policy were suffered to go unpunished. Some time subsequent to 1824, the wolves one night almost entirely devoured a cow and the calf she had just given birth to, belonging to Renick Heath, then residing at the old Shaker mill. Eight wolves were found gormandizing on their flesh in the morning, and were with some difficulty driven off. An amusing and instructive incident, bearing upon the habits of the panther, is related by Mr. Heath, one of the few pioneers who yet remain to tell the romantic stories of early life in Illinois. One night a wolf was heard barking violently some distance off. It continued till daybreak, when Mr. Heath, gun in hand, went to investigate. He saw the wolf at some distance jumping up and from side to side, as it kept up a constant barking. He continued to advance, and when within a short distance of the wolf, was greatly surprised to observe a panther, which had been the object of so much ado, leap from a limb. Both animals made good their escape. Beneath the tree lay the fresh, partially devoured body of a raccoon, upon which the panther is supposed to have been feeding, when the wolf rudely obtruded. The former animal, when attacked, is readily induced to ascend a tree, less perhaps as a refuge from, than as a convenient means of attacking, an adversary. Game, in the days of which we are writing, was abundant almost to an extent exceeding our belief. The wild fowls were so numerous, that while they were an abundant and convenient supply of food, they were a serious drawback to early husbandry, not only as destroying the fruits, but as discouraging the efforts of labor. Wheat fields were frequently completely destroyed by them. Hunting was an important pursuit, and supplied directly or indirectly the luxuries as well as the necessaries of life. Every man was either by choice or necessity a hunter. Conspicuous among the former were Samuel Allison and Peter Paragin. Allison was not only an expert hunter, but was also skillful in Indian warfare. A day's hunt would frequently yield him fifteen saddles of deer. If not the first American settler in Lawrence county, he was among the most conspicuous. One of his daughters-in-law, an English lady, whose maiden name was Rebecca Moody, made bullets in an old oven for the colonists at the battles of Bunker Hill and Cowpens. Paragin was the pioneer of the northwestern part of the county. He pushed his way into the wilderness far in advance of his fellows, and by his triumphs over the beasts of the forest, lent two names to the geographical vocabulary of the county. "Paragin slough" commemorates the killing of two bears, and "Eagle Branch " is an epitome of the story of the capture on that stream of an eagle of extraordinary size. Not only did the flesh of wild animils serve for the settler's table, but their skins supplied the necessity of clothing. A pioneer with buckskin breeches, a homespun coat, and a coonskin cap was an embodiment of these lines of Pope:

"Happy the man whose wish raid care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air
In his own ground"

An important early industry was bee-hunting. The destiny of the Indian is to recede before the approach of the white man ; it is the province of the honey-bee to act on the revere, and precede the advance of civilization. The approach of the honey-bee was always a sad harbinger to the Indians, for they knew the pale faces were not far behind. At an early period bees were very numerous in Illinois, in the groves and along the skirts of timber; hence the product of the hive became a desirable commodity in trade and commerce; and when the farmer wished a little "land office" money, this was an article that would readily command it. They would take their beeswax, deer-skins and peltries to the watercourses, and descend in their canoes or improvised boats constructed for the purpose, to New Orleans and other markets. Bee-hunting excursions were an annual occurrence. In the spring, when the wild flower unfolded its petals, the search would begin. It was not only an avocation, but it was a science or trade, and an expert bee-hunter could find ready employment. The principal early agricultural industry was cotton-raising. Allison Prairie was the cotton-field of the Wabash Valley. Its cultivation began some time prior to 1820, and continued for several years. Cotton gins were not uncommon, and the spinning-wheel was in every cabin. The raising of cattle and hogs was likewise an important industry. Wild grass and mast for their sustenance were abundant. Illinois has always assumed an honorable part in the matter of education, so materially concerning the welfare of a free people; and as soon as an immigration set in the school teacher was abroad in the land.

Among those who taught in the county limits from 1817 to 1819 were Mrs. Clark, Agnes Corrie, George Godfrey, Iaiah Lewis, Larkin Ryle, John Martin, Jas. Swainey, Borden and Fleming. The school teacher and the minister went hand in hand, and, in many instances, performed the same office. The same rude log structure served alike for the school and as a house of worship. The early resident ministers were: Revs. Blithe McCorcle, Mr. Stone, John Clark, Richard B. McCorcle, William Ramsey, John Dollahan, Samuel Borden, William Kincaid, Daniel Travis, and others, among whom was "Squealing Johnny" Parker, as he was called. He styled himself a "Two-see Baptist." Travelling preachers frequently came into the territory, and among them were James Hughes, John Rodgers, David McDonald, Elijah Gooden, Peter Cartwright and Lorenzo Dow. One of the most needed and poorly supplied blessings of pioneer life were mills. Long and hazardous journeys were necessary to secure the grinding of a bag of meal. Small's mill, on the Embarras, built in 1805 or 1806, was one of the earliest in the State of Illinois; but, considering the difficulty of reaching it through dense forests and swollen streams, it was scarcely a convenience except to a few.

We have thus set forth briefly the dangers and hardships of those who paved the way for whatever is grand in morals or government or magnificent in structure in the county of Lawrence. Let the reader compare the present with the past, and then let him reflect how rapid has been the march of progress and how marvellous has been the change.
 




BACK -- HOME



Copyright © Genealogy Trails