Livingston County, Illinois
Livingston County contains 1,035 square miles of territory, extending west from the north part of Grand Prairie, and having most of the characteristics of that district ; and it was among the last counties of the State to attract immigration.
For many years after the first settlers located, our broad prairies failed to induce general settlement, as immigrants seemed to prefer the more rolling lands, of the northern and western counties, or the timbered regions farther south. It was not until the building of the Illinois Central Railroad, which passed through many miles of similar country, and brought its peculiar characteristics into favorable notice, and the construction of the Chicago & Mississippi Road, which passed directly through the county, that immigrants generally began to discover the value of the lands of this hitherto neglected region.
Much of the land donated by the Government to the State, and, by the State transferred to the Central Railroad Company, lay in this county, and was put upon the market. This land rapidly found purchasers and occupants ; and the building of these roads, together with the construction of the Toledo, Peoria Warsaw Road, made it possible for producers to market their grain, and greatly enhanced the value of the land ; and the real settlement of the county dates from this era.
The history of the county naturally divides itself into three epochs : First, the occupation by the Indians, from the discovery of the prairie country by the French, to the first white settlement, in the Fall of 1829. Second, from the first settlement of the whites to the building of the railroads, in 1854. Third, from that period to the present time. But, before the subject is treated in this order, a short statement of the derivation of our population will be given, and, also, the topography and geology of the county will receive attention.
The earlier settlers came, principally, from Indiana and Ohio, with only a few from the States further east and south, while a large portion of those who, during the third epoch, reduced the virgin soil to cultivation, were immigrants from foreign lands, or from the older and more populous counties of this State. These last mentioned were attracted hither by cheaper lands and by a wider range of pasturage. Nearly all of these were men of small pecuniary means, but possessed of courage, industry and thrift, and found themselves benefited by their change of locality. The older counties of La Salle, Bureau, Peoria, Knox, Fulton, Tazewell and Woodford have sent us not a few of their young and active men. Many of our most esteemed and worthy citizens are natives of Ireland, Germany, Norway and Demark. England has contributed her share, and many freedmen are settled in the county.
But it is not to immigration alone, active and constant as it has been, that our great and rapid increase of population is to be attributed. There are no statistics to show the number of births in the county previous to the present year, and speculation must be left to others than the historian. Fortunately, however, the law which requires the registration of births and deaths has been in force long enough to give a few figures. Registration commenced in December, 1877, but it was not until late in January, 1878, that the full statistics could be obtained.
In four months, 318 births have been recorded, and it is believed that many others have occurred which, for various reasons, have not been reported. But this would make the number of births in this county (which contains a population of 40,000) about one thousand per year, or two and one half per cent, per annum. The number of deaths registered during the same period is seventy-six, showing that the natural increase does not vary much from two per cent, during the year. The number of marriage licenses issued during this period is 140.
V. M. Darnall and Frederick Rook were the first white men to locate in the territory now embraced in Livingston County. Darnall erected his cabin in the southern part of the timber known as Indian Grove, in the Fall of 1829, soon after the Kickapoo Indians had exchanged this locality for Oliver's Grove.
At or about the time that Darnall made his settlement at Indian Grove, Frederick Rook located five miles west of Pontiac, on the creek which still bears his name ; and, soon after, Isaac Jordan selected his location. Rook removed to Missouri at an early day, and the exact date of his settlement here cannot be obtained. These three men, with their fiimilies, were the only white persons, in this locality, who saw the " great snow " which fell in the Winter of 1830-31.
This fall of snow was phenomenal, and its like, probably, had never occurred before, and certainly has not since within the limits of the State. In a dead calm, it fell to the depth of four feet. This was followed by a drizzling rain, which soon turned to sleet. Then the weather became intensely cold, and the whole face of the country was covered with a sheet of ice, overlying a field of snow that was four feet deep on the level.
This storm was very destructive to game of all kinds, and it was several years before it again became abundant. Deer, by the hundred, starved to death, and birds, such as grouse and quail, perished in great numbers. Squire L. Payne, of Eppard's Point, who at that time resided near Danville, informs the writer that deer, showing no signs of fear, would stand and eat the branches from a fallen tree while the woodman was chopping and splitting the body of the same. He further says that, after the snow had continued for some time, the deer were not molested, as they were so emaciated as to be unfit for food, and were only occasionally killed for their skins.
At this period, the Kickapoo Indians had a village at Oliver's Grove, and they, as well as the few white settlers, suffered severely from the intense cold and scarcity of food. During the continuance of the snow, they used their largo council house as a common kitchen for all. Their camp kettles were kept constantly boiling, and into them were thrown such animal food as they could procure. A starved deer was a welcome addition to their larder, and, when other supplies failed, a pony was sacrificed, and horse soup dished out.
Frederick Rook and Isaac Jordan found their stock of provisions failing, and thev conceived the idea of manufacturing; snow-shoes from boards and going to Mackinaw for supplies, for it was impossible for them to travel with a horse. They accomplished the journey on their snow-shoes, and when they reached that, to them, Egyptian storehouse, they were so fortunate as to receive, each, a bushel and a half of corn. They placed this on hand-sleds and drew it home, arriving there on the evening of the fourth day. This corn they pounded into meal, and, by careful husbanding, made it last them till further supplies could be obtained.
When the snow began to fall, Major Darnall was over on the Mackinaw, his wife and four small children being at home in Indian Grove, with a scanty supply of provisions. He waited during the night for the storm to abate ; but, at the early dawn, he mounted his horse, which was an excellent one, and taking the half of a deer before him, without guide or compass, he started across the trackless snow-field for his distant home. It was a perilous undertaking and, at times, it seemed useless to try to proceed, as the horse would sink to his saddle-girths in the snow ; but horse and rider persevered, and, just as the sun was setting, he espied the smoke curling from the chimney of his little cabin, which was half buried in the snow. Imagination can paint the blissful meeting of husband and wife on this occasion ; and there have been few happier family meetings than the one gathered around Major Darnall's hearthstone on that memorable evening.
Major Darnall still resides in the vicinity of Fairbury, possessed of a competence, honored and respected ; and it is worth something to hear him recount the history of the early days of Livingston County.
During the year 1830, Andrew McMillan and Garret M. Blue located on Rook's Creek, and their descendants are numerous. Blue's name and those of his sons frequently appear in the political annals of the county. Jacob Moon came to Moon's Point in the same year, and his progeny are among the most wealthy and respected in the county.
On the 5th day of May, 1832, William McDowell, from Sciota County, Ohio, with his five sons, John, Hiram, Woodford G., Joseph and James, and his two daughters, Betty and Hannah, settled in what is now Avoca Township, on the Little Vermilion. Their nearest white neighbor on the south was one Philip Cook ; but they could call around on Frederick Rook, Isaac Jordan or William Popejoy, almost any time, by going a distance of from five to fifteen miles.
The elder McDowell displayed excellent judgment in selecting this location, for after forty-five years' continual farming, the soil is still rich and productive.
The McDowells at once proceeded to erect their cabin. The principal tool used in its construction was an axe. They brought with them a few panes of glass for a window, and, in this particular, they had the advantage of their neighbors. The boards which furnished the material for the door and window casing of this primitive dwelling, were purchased of the Kickapoo Indians, and were brought from Oliver's Grove with an ox team. The Indians had hewn them out for some purpose of their own, but were induced to part with them for a small supply of ammunition.
The Black Hawk war was then in active operation, and this settlement was within a short march of the headquarters of this terrible chief. This same year, Wm. Popejoy, John Hanneman and Franklin Oliver located, and soon took an active part in the affairs of the settlement. Black Hawk maintained his position, and the situation of the settlers became alarming, as it was not known what attitude the Kickapoo Indians (numbering 630) at Oliver's Grove, would assume ; and, on the 20th of May, they were waited upon by a deputation of whites for the purpose of ascertaining their intentions.
At this meeting, the venerable Franklin Oliver presided. On their return from the council, the members of the deputation stopped at the McDowell cabm and took dinner, and they advised the settlers either to abandon their homes or proceed to erect fortifications. The latter scheme was impracticable, for the reason that there were but two rifles in the whole settlement, and very little ammunition. On the 27th of May, all the white men in the settlement held a council, and it was then and there decided that the best thing that could be done, under the circumstances, was to retire to the white settlements in Indiana ; and, on the evening of the 28th, the entire white population camped in and around the McDowell cabin, preparatory to a march the next morning.
This company consisted of the McDowell family, and William Popejoy, Abner Johnson, Uriah Blue, Isaac Jordan and John Hanneman, and their families — thirty-one souls in all. In speaking of this party, Hon. Woodford G. McDowell, who was one of the number, says : "I feel sure, if the entire outfit had been required to raise twenty-five dollars among them, or be scalped by the Indians, they would have been compelled to throw up the sponge — they could not have raised the money."
On the morning of the 29th of May, the whole company of seven families, in six wagons, took up the line of march and left the embryo county in possession of the Indians. Darnall must have retreated some time previous, as his name is not mentioned in this exodus ; and as far as Oliver is concerned, he came and went among the Indians at his own pleasure, and without fear of molestation. He thoroughly understood their character, and was accounted a favorite among them ; and, in fact, an Indian chief was called after his name.
During the march to Indiana, several interesting incidents transpired. The more timid were in hourly anticipation of an attack from Black Hawk, and could scarcely be persuaded to regulate their pace with the ox teams which drew the women and children. On the second day of their march, the wife of Isaac Jordan presented him with an infant daughter ; and James McDowell, then a young man of 17 years, together with another youth, walked to a grove of timber four miles distant to procure wood enough to build a camp fire. On their return, they found the camp in great commotion. A couple of Indians had been seen on a ridge overlooking the camp, and then to disappear in the tall grass. Women and children were crying, and even some of the men were badly frightened, and counseled an immediate flight, as they supposed the Indians they had seen were scouts sent out by Black Hawk. Others were less excited, and proceeded to light the camp fire and prepare their supper, the elder McDowell remarking, as he held his frying-pan over the fire, that " he did not propose to be scalped on an empty stomach."
It was soon ascertained, however, that the Indians were two friendly Kickapoos, who had come to bid their white friends farewell ; but the incident proved the different material of which the company was composed, and had not a little to do with the estimate in which they subsequently held each other's character.
The next day, the mother and child were left at the house of Philip Cook, before mentioned, as this was considered sufficiently remote from the seat of war to be safe ; and the remainder of the party pushed on to Indiana. A. B. Phillips and James Spence, with their families, had taken refuge within a fortification on the Mackinaw. But, in the Fall of the same year, nearly all of the persons mentioned in the exodus returned to their claims.
We have seen how near the daughter of Isaac Jordan came to being born in the limits of the county, but the first white child actually born within the borders of Livingston, was a son of A. B. Phillips. He grew to manhood, and when the hour of his country's peril came, he was one of the first to answer her call, and he gave his life to maintain her honor. Thus the county literally gave her " first born for a sacrifice." All honor to such men !
" On fame's eternal camping ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead."
The second birth in the county was J. W. Darnall, now 47 years old, and a worthy and respected citizen. When the settlers returned from Indiana, with them came Nathan Popejoy, and located a few miles east of Pontiac. At this period. Judge McDowell informs us that there were but two young ladies within a distance of fifty miles up and down the Vermilion, but this condition of things did not long exist, for the year 1833 saw a considerable influx of new families.
In this year. Dr. John Davis settled near the present residence of Philip Rollins. He was the first physician in the county, and had the medical practice, without a rival, for some time. About the same time came Daniel Rockwood and the Weeds, Henry, E. F. and James, also John Recob, John Johnson, the Murry family, Squire Hayes, John Chew, Daniel Barackman, John Downey, Joseph Reynolds and his brothers.
The Government had just removed the last Kickapoo west of the Mississippi, and Franklin Oliver, this year, permanently located at Kickapoo Grove, which, since that date, has borne his name. The Indian trouble was now forever settled, so far as this county was concerned, the hardest trials were past and a brighter day was dawning ; but the old settler never grows weary of talking about this period, and of recounting his trials and exploits.
Among the number whose recollection is perfectly unimpaired, is John Johnson, of Rook's Creek. He was born in Ontario County, New York, and came to Shawneetown, in this State, as early as 1821. There were only some fifty white persons in the county when Johnson settled here, and he knew them all. He calculates that he and his sons have killed over a thousand deer within the limits of the county. In the Fall hunt of 1834, they killed seventy-five and took the skins and hams to Ottawa, and received for them the sum of sixty dollars — a large amount of money in those days.
Franklin Oliver, although in his ninety-second year, still retains his faculties in a wonderful degree, and is a walking encyclopaedia of facts pertaining to the early settlement ; also Emsley Pope (whose history will receive further mention), together with James and Woodford G. McDowell and Major Darnall are still with us, their minds and memories unimpaired.
Frederick Rook, the old pioneer, after whom Rook's Creek Township is named, is described by James McDowell, as a well-made, fat-faced, easy natured and accommodating German and not at all such a character as has been described in later days. He had a wife and family, and, at the date of his departure, his eldest daughter, Mary, was seventeen years old. He frequently deplored the lack of facilities for giving his children an education, and it is stated that this was the cause of his removing from the county at an early day. He was a capital shot, a generous provider for his family, and altogether a worthy man ; and the aspersions cast upon his character are without any foundation in fact, and may be considered as false.
The nearest post office at this time was at Bloomington ; but, as James McDowell says, they did not take a daily paper or write many love letters in those days ; they managed to live with a post office even at that distance. They took their grain fifty miles, with an ox team, to a mill owned and run by John Green, on the other side of Ottawa ; and, after hauling it that distance, they frequently had to wait a day or two for their turn, and it never happened that a man went to mill, called round by the post office and returned home on the same day.
Among some of the earliest settlers were Truman Rutherford, John Foster, James Holman, William K. Brown, Judge Breckenridge, Amos Edwards and Andrew McDowell, of Long Point ; Walter Cornell, Andrew Sprague, Joel B. Anderson, H. Steers, Isaac Burgit, John Darnall, John Travis, J. W. Reynolds, Charles Jones, Philip Rollins, John Marks, James Demoss, Benjamin Hieronymous and the Garner brothers.
It was several years before the pioneers erected a church edifice, but they were not heathens. For miles around, the community would, on a Sunday assemble at the house of John Terhune, who possessed a book of sermons, and who would read to them on these occasions. Terhune was a man of education, who quietly came among these pioneers, and, after remaining a few years, departed as he came. His destination was not known, and the date of his departure is not fixed ; and, as he was of a retiring and unobtrusive disposition, but few facts concerning him can be obtained.
In 1884, William Royle, a Methodist preacher, established a mission in this locality ; but, as his circuit embraced such distant points as Waupansee, Ottawa and Mazoa, he could only hold service here on a week day ; yet men would leave their work and come ten and even fifteen miles to attend religious service.
In the Fall of the year, the whole community — men, women and children — would yoke up their ox teams and go over to Mackinaw to attend camp meeting. This was considered the event of the year, and was eagerly anticipated by the young people, who had not many opportunities of enjoying each other's society and forming new acquaintances. Joseph C. Morrison, of Avoca Township, and now one of the wealthiest and most respected citizens of the county, was, at this period, one of the rising young men of the community. He says that the enjoyment of these trips could only be appreciated by a community placed in like circumstances.
Yet these pioneers were not without their amusements and recreations ; but; they generally contrived to combine business with pleasure. James McDowell came twelve miles, with his father, to assist in raising the first cabin that was erected in Pontiac ; and he remembers it as a day given to pleasure.
Another popular amusement was to assemble the community for the " grand circular hunt." Having selected the territory, which embraced as large a tract as the number of hunters could command, they placed themselves in a circle, on the outside, and drove the game toward a common center. The game thus encircled consisted mainly of wolves and deer, which were always captured or killed in great numbers. The hunt, and especially the closing up of the circle, was exciting in the extreme, and no small amount of skill was displayed in the manner of disposing of the animals as they attempted to break through the lines of their persecutors.
The State paid a bounty for wolf scalps in those days, and this was a source of revenue to the settlers.
On one occasion, while Nicholas Heffner was both Sheriff and Tax Collector for the county, and Washington Boyer was School Commissioner, Heffner was taken sick, and requested James McDowell to go to Springfield for him and make a settlement with the State, and the School Commissioner, learning that he was about to make the trip, called on him and requested that he should bring back with him, from Springfield, the amount due the county from the State school fund.
McDowell mounted his horse and, taking a huge bag of legal tender, in the shape of wolf scalps, before him, set out on his journey, and, arrived at the State Capital, he not only paid the entire amount due the State in wolf scalps, but exchanged a sufficient number of the remainder with the State Treasurer, to cover the amount coming to the county from the school fund. Notwithstanding this remarkable instance of the profit derived from rearing wolves, their propagation is now entirely neglected in this county, and a wolf found occasionally is viewed as an object of curiosity.
James McDowell still flourishes in his pristine vigor, though upward of 60 years old. He owns over 2,100 acres of choice farming land in the vicinity where he first located, and is enjoying the competence he has so justly earned.
It is a matter of wonder to many now living in the county, how the pioneers managed to live and rear large families where there was no money in the country, and no market for produce. In the first place, they did not go in debt, for they could not do so ; then game was abundant, and if it would not bring a price, it filled a very important place in the household economy. They raised their own coffee, which was prepared from parched corn ; they made their own sugar, and as for store tea, that was dispensed with. Then, again, a dealer from some of the earlier settled portions of the State, would occasionally ride through this region on horseback, and purchase a few steers at a very low price, but a little money went a great way with the fathers. Deer skins and the skins and furs of smaller animals always brought cash when they could be got to market, and occasionally a pioneer would collect these and push through to some distant point and, disposing of them, return with their value in money.
The introduction of a few sheep by Maj. Darnall helped matters very much. The carding, spinning and weaving were done at home, and cost no money. This industry was first introduced into the community by the good wives of Maj. Darnall and A. B. Phillips, and was soon copied by other matrons. Taxes were very low ; and if a settler of this period received from all sources an income of $15 or $20 per annum, he had sufiicient to pay his cash expenses. The amount of money now paid for a new bonnet, or a Spring overcoat, would have sufficed to support a family at that time for six months. There were few schools for the children, and they were required to help carry on the farm work, and everything was made to count for what it was worth.
But what was already a difficult financial problem was made doubly so by the general crash which the year 1887 brought to all business and monetary affairs.
During the very year that saw our county legally organized, the State Legislature passed the bill for internal improvement at public expense ; and on the passage of this suicidal law, near ten millions of dollars were appropriated for building a network of railroads all over the State, and work was actually commenced on them at various points. The scheme bankrupted the State, and, for nineteen years, Illinois paid neither principal nor interest on her indebtedness.
Emigrants avoided a State thus incumbered ; and one chief source of ready money (that brought by new comers) was denied to us. But the pioneers of Livingston, in this extremity, showed pluck and energy worthy of record. There being no market for anything in the interior of the State, they, with their ox-teams, hauled their produce to Chicago, and even drove their hogs across the pathless prairie to that point.
Joseph C. Morrison, who frequently made the trip with a drove of hogs, tells us that it was accomplished in the following manner : A number of farmers would collect their hogs and start on the journey, agreeing to feed the hogs at night by turns, each in succession returning to his home for a load of corn, from which the hogs were fed upon his again coming up with the drove ; and thus, by relieving each other, they accomplished wliat would otherwise have been an impossible task.
When the slaughter house was reached, the hogs were dressed for the offal, and the dressed hogs were put upon the market : those weighing 200 and over generally selling at $1.50 per hundred, and those weighing less at $1.00 per hundred. A farmer made but one such trip during the year, and brought home with him the absolute necessaries of life.
The first mill erected in the county was run by horse power. It was built by Garrett M. Blue, near his residence, in Rook's Creek Township, This was justly considered by the early settlers, as a most valuable acquisition to the institutions of the county. The bolting was done by tacking a yard of fine muslin on a frame, and through this was rubbed, by the hand, small portions of the crushed wheat.
In 1838, the saw-mill at Pontiac was erected by C. H. Perry and James McKee, but a grist-mill was not attached for some years.
Samuel C. Ladd came to Pontiac from Connecticut in October, 1842. Only two houses remain in Pontiac, which had been erected previous to his coming. One of these, is the old Court House, and the other is the building now occupied by Samuel Mossholder as a dwelling.
Seth W. Young was the first man to erect a house on the site of the city of Pontiac. He died at this place, as also did his brother, Lucius Young. They were interested with Henry Weed in securing the location of the county seat at this point, and after their death, C. H. Perry, Henry Stephens, Samuel C. Ladd and some others became interested.
C. H. Perry brought the first stock of goods to the county, but before he was established in business, S. C. Ladd bought him out. About this time, Mr. Ladd entered into partnership with Willet Gray, and they purchased James McKee's interest in the mill. Their store stood on the banks of the river near where Robert Aerl's feed yard now is. Ladd soon after erected a frame business building on the present site of Gunsul's livery stable; and, for several years, he and Gray, were the only resident merchants of the county. These merchants secured the services of John A. Fellows as salesman, and he was so popular that it was said of him that "he drew all the trade of the Vermilion Valley, and would have drawn more if the valley had been longer."
C. H. Perry was then the capitalist. He brought to the place the first piano, the first "store carpet " and the first looking glass. His residence was a log cabin, and it used to be told how a horse once walked in at the open door, and stood surveying himself in Perry's looking glass, while he fought flies with his natural protector. The piano remained the only musical instrument of its kind in the county until Perry removed to Iowa and took it with him, and it was many years before its place was filled.
Samuel C. Ladd was, at once, an able and popular man. He has held the offices of Circuit Clerk, County Clerk, Recorder and Postmaster ; and, in later years, he was appointed Assessor of Internal Revenue and filled the office acceptably, from 1863 to 1869.
Emsley Pope, the pioneer of Newtown, was born in Rowan County, North Carolina, in the year 1797, and removed with his farther to Champaign County, Ohio, in 1810. His father enlisted in the war of 1812, but was prevented from serving by sickness. Young Pope, then but 15 years of age, begged permission to go as his father's substitute, and, permission being given, he shouldered his musket and served during the war.
When peace was restored, he resided with his father until 1836, when he was married and came to this State, and located upon the identical piece of ground upon which he has ever since resided. His house, a double log cabin, erected forty-three years ago, still serves him for a residence ; and, with the exception of repairs to the roof, it has remained without alteration from the date of its erection to the present time. The only tools used in its construction were an axe, a saw and an auger. The boards composing the roof are held in place by logs upon them, through which wooden pins are passed into the rafters. The flooring is also secured by wooden pins, as are also the door and window frames. The flooring and ceiling were hewn out ; and the chimney was built of stone taken from the stream near by.
Pope's Spring, from which hundreds of red men have slaked their thirst, furnishes the family with an abundant supply of excellent water.
For a number of years after his arrival, his family, together with the families of Daniel Barrackman, Samuel Brumfield and Amos Lundy constituted the entire community. Their market was Chicago.
In the Fall of the year, Pope, Brumfield, Barrackman and Lundy would form a company for mutual benefit and protection ; and each man, with his rifle and ox-team drawing a load of corn, would start for this distant market, making calculations to be absent from home for ten or twelve days. On the route, the company camped where night overtook them, and they never slept under a roof from the time of their departure to the time of their return. There was at that time not even an Indian trail leading from that point to Chicago, but these pioneers took their way over the unbroken prairie, guided by signs and indications which never led them astray. Thirty bushels of corn was their average load; and for this, on their arrival at market, they received 12-1/2 cents per bushel, and only on one or two occasions did they receive as high as 15 cents. They rarely made more than two such trips in a year ; and the $6, $8 or $10 which they thus received was all the money they handled during the year, and most of this was spent in purchasing supplies in Chicago.
Pope was intimately acquainted with old Shabbona, the Pattawatomie chief, and holds his memory in great respect, and says that no white man was more welcome at his cabin than this Indian.
This kindly feeling was doubtless reciprocated on the part of the red man, for he frequently pitched his tent near Pope's cabin, on his hunting excursions along the banks of the Vermilion.
Wild turkevs and deer abounded, and when Chief Shabbona was successful in the chase, the spoils were generously divided with his white friend ; and his coming was looked forward to with pleasant anticipations of a good time, and his departure was regretted.
On one of these occasions, Shabbona and the twelve Indian hunters who accompanied him, killed fifty deer, within a circuit of three miles, taking Pope's cabin as a center. This Chief must have been, in many respects, a remarkable man, as every pioneer who Avas acquainted with him bears witness to his character for upright and lionorable dealing. This speaks volumes for Shabbona, as the whites at this time were not disposed to regard the Indians with a favorable eye.
Pope is still a hale and active old man, and will tell you, in speaking of the early period, that the pioneers enjoyed themselves fully as well as people do at the present day. His early friends and neighbors have long since passed away, while he remains, a link connecting the present with the past. He is cheerful, hopeful and perfectly contented with his lot. He is the father of fourteen children, many of whom are living and are honorable members of society.
Pope is much respected in his neighborhood, and he will doubtless spend the remainder of his days in the county which he has seen transformed from a wilderness to one of the finest agricultural districts in the State.
Martin A. Newman, of Newtown, justly claims to be the pioneer merchant of the county. He was born in Vermilion County in 1818, and removed to Ottawa in 1838. In the year 1847, he made a tour of discovery through Livingston County, and found that there was not a store of any kind within its borders. He returned to Ottawa and fitted up a peddling wagon, filling it with a great variety of merchandise, from a needle to a wash tub, and, with this traveling establishment, he visited every family in the county, once in every month of the year. In exchange for his goods, he took from his customers deer-skins, mink-skins, ginseng root, feathers and many other articles. He was a great favorite, and soon built up an extensive and lucrative business. When he was on his rounds, couriers would be sent out to ascertain when he would be at a particular point, so that the products of the country might be gathered, in readiness for exchange.
In the Fall of 1847, he purchased of John and Theodore Popejoy the skins of fifty-four deer, which they had killed in Avoca Township. In July of the same year, Joseph C. Morrison, who has before been mentioned, and who was the young man of the period and the leader of fashion, gave Newman an order to bring him, from Ottawa, a full suit of real linen clothes. It was strictly stipulated that the clothes should be delivered by the 3d, as there was to be a grand ball in Avoca on the 4th, and the dress suit was ordered for that occasion.
Newman made the trip, executed the commission, and duly arrived in Pontiac on the 3d, Morrison was so well pleased with the fit and the price that he gave Newman an invitation to the ball ; and his attendance was most opportune, for the violinist hired for the occasion got tired, and Newman had to fill his place, which he did, to the satisfaction of all parties. When Newman now meets one of his old customers, it is pleasant to see the kindly look and hearty handshake that passes between them as the recollections of the past are called up.
There is much that might be added concerning many others who helped to develop this great county, which is necessarily omitted.
There was Nelson Buck, who loved his profession as he did his life ; and Jacob Streamer, who has long been a resident, and is well known throughout the county. He has collected all local statistics and incidents sufficient to fill a volume. 0. B. Wheeler commenced business by buying a steer for $5, taking it to Chicago, dressing it and selling the meat for $7.50. This started him in business, and he is now one of the wealthy men of the county.
The mention of Morgan L. Payne must not be omitted, as he was an old and well known resident. He was Captain of a company in the Black Hawk war, and performed distinguished service. He was a Texas Ranger when the war between Mexico and this Government was declared, and was in the first battle under Gen. Taylor, on the Rio Grande. When the time of his enlistment as a ranger expired, he returned to Greenboro, Indiana, and raised a company of militia ; and returning to Mexico, he served during the war. He was at the taking of Monterey, and the battle of the City of Mexico. He received an honorable discharge, and afterward filled many positions of public trust.
When the war of the Rebellion was inaugurated, he raised a company of men in this county, was again elected and commissioned Captain, and served his country faithfully. This hero. of three wars died at Pontiac, of cancer, in 1878. He was a man of fiery and impetuous energy that overcame all obstacles with which he came in contact. He had many warm personal friends, who cherish his memory.
Isaac Wilson, who is still living, is distinguished as one of the litigants in the first law suit in the Circuit Court. William Strawn, who resides at Odell was a personal friend of Old John Brown, whose " soul goes marching on." Strawn fought by his side in Kansas. He was one of the charter members of the "underground railroad" through Livingston County, over which many a negro traveled on his way to Canada.
[In 1853] new life was coming into the county. The first dash of the tidal wave of immigration was reaching us. The Chicago & Mississippi and Illinois Central Railroads were being built. Of the men whose names appear above, whose lives are well remembered, are B. P. Babcock, who, after a faithful term as County Judge, where he displayed the same clear, cautious and honest care in public which has always marked his private affairs, is now one of the largest farmers in the county, owning two splendid sections of land, upon which is Babcocks Grove, of which Isaac Funk once said, that "next to Elkhart Grove, he thought nature had made this the handsomest spot in this whole glorious State."
Geo. W. Bover, as his records in the different offices of this countv show, was a singularly neat and efficient Clerk. Orlando Chubbuck, after having served an apprenticeship as an honest farmer and faithful citizen, read law, and now practices the same in La Salle County. David Mcintosh, among many other, perhaps, as honorable things, has once faithfully served us in the Legislature. Jerome Garner was one of the first local attorneys at law. Eli Myer has passed away, leaving an honored name, which is kept alive by a large family of descendants. Walter Cornell still upholds the faith that has led him thus far, an honored, esteemed and beloved old man. Rollins is still with us, though he long since eschewed politics and office holding.
Nelson Buck, after several terms of official service, and many years of active life, received an appointment to survey in Western Nebraska, and was, in 1869, massacred by the Sioux. H. H. Hinman still faithfully serves his day and generation as a missionary, after having lived many years in Africa. He now represents the Anti-Secret- Society Association in its crusade against Masonry and kindred clans. He was one of the first to espouse Abolition sentiments in the county, and never let his light be hid under a bushel, or anything else.
James Stout—no one living in the county from '55 to "70 but knows the intrepid, earnest, positive, lively, jagged and, perhaps, "sassy " Jim Stout. In early life, he had tried teaching school in Kentucky, but gave more attention to teaching the negroes the etymology of the word "freedom " than his employers approved of, and he left town between two days, without calling around to get his wages, and believes to this day that blood-hounds were on his track until he forded the Ohio River. With a not very passive nature, the little experience he had there set every drop of blood in him on fire, and he became the fiery champion of down-trodden Africa from that hour. He was possessed of a vast fund of indignation, and never failed to surround all his efforts with the glitter of attraction which that gave.
At one time he helped "steal a nigger," as the phrase went, the story of which must have a place here. A fugitive slave had been taken and was before the court at Ottawa, to have his case legally determined. Stout, with some other Abolitionists, was in attendance. With most of them, it was probably their first experience, and no well developed plan was agreed upon how they might best help the slave. After as patient a hearing as could be given under the great excitement, the Court decided that the fugitive must be sent back to his master. While the opinion of the Court was being delivered, a breathless silence reigned in the court room. The Abolitionists, embracing many who hardly accepted that title, were undecided. The crisis had arrived, and Stout, carried away with excitement, sprang upon a table and shouted, " I move we form ourselves into a committee of the whole, to carry this poor slave back to slavery and bondage ! "
The entire room was at once in an uproar which passes all description. While attention was thus called to the mover of this resolution, the slave was spirited out of the window, put into a close carriage and, quicker than it can bs told, was on his way to Canada. The parties engaged in this rescue were arrested and tried for the crime, for it was a crime to help a fugitive away. Stout refused to employ any counsel, refused the aid of the Court, who offered to assign him a legal adviser, and persisted in defending his own case, and by his quick, sharp wit, he was cleared.
All that could certaiily be proved against him was his motion. His line of defense was that he had only proposed to carry the fugitive back to slavery and bondage, but the prosecution endeavored to show by the witness, Judge Caton of the State Court, before whom the former hearing had been had, that Stout, the defendant, did not mean what he said when he proposed to carry the slave back to bondage. The question was asked Judge Caton, ''What is your opinion of the intent of the defendant in making that remark?" "I object! " shouted Stout.
In the course of the discussion which followed, in regard to the right of an answer to the question. Stout sprang to his feet and demanded " a subpoena for God Almighty ! He is the only one who knows my intent." Defendants were not then competent witnesses. The Sherift' jocularly remarked that he would find it difficult to serve such a subpoena. Stout sharply retorted, " You can, for it is written, ' He will be found of those who diligently seek Him.' "
This turned the tide, and he was acquitted, while the others were convicted and fined. Mr. Stout, after being several years editor and proprietor of the Pontiac Sentine, was appointed, in 1869, Receiver of Public Moneys, at Boise City, Idaho, by President Grant, where he now resides. He was possessed of more fire for the fluid ounces of blood he contained, and more fight to the square inch, than any resident of Livingston County, unless history is at fault.
Jesse O. Norton was a Whig, a resident of Joliet, and has been nearly all the time in public life since that election  until his death about two years ago. Of the Representatives voted for that year, two are well known in the county. G. W. Armstrong has served more terms in the Legislature of this State, probably, than any man now living. David Strawn, though not a resident of the county, had a large landed interest in it, and was subsequently the builder of the Chicago & Paducah Railroad.
The interest taken in the Presidential election of 1860 was sufficient to call out a very full vote. The entire vote polled was 2,563. Lincoln received 1,475; Douglas, 1,088. The majority of Yates and Hoffman was about, the same.
For Congress, Owen Lovejoy received 1,451 ; R. N. Murray, 1,097.
It is interesting to notice that in all these recorded votes, Lovejoy always lacks a few of the full party vote. He was such a pronounced Abolitionist that, probably, in nearly every county, there were some who called themselves Republicans who would not vote for him. Way down in the heart of many others who did vote for him; there was undoubtedly a rebellion against voting for so pronounced an Abolitionist. Still, he was one of the most brilliant men of his day. Those who had the opportunity to hear him on the canvass will remember him to their dying day, as one of the very ablest and most interesting public speakers they ever heard. To those who used to hear him in the pulpit, before he became an official, the same clear elucidation of doctrine, the same fearful, rugged, pointed portraiture of wrong and error, is well remembered.
The vote for State Senator for that year was : For Washington Bushnell, 1.464 ;
Old Settler's Association
In the year 1875, when the new Court House was completed, it was determined by the old settlers throughout the county that a grand re-union should be held and the new building properly dedicated. A preliminary meeting was called at the fair ground early in the Fall of the year, at which C. B. Ostrander presided, and John A. Fellows was appointed Secretary.
The 30th of December was the day fixed upon for the re-union, and committees of arrangements were appointed in every township in the county. On the day appointed, the old settlers turned out en masse. Tables, capable of seating fifteen hundred people, had been prepared by the citizens of Pontiac, and these were all filled. James McDowell was President of the day, and John A. Fellows, Secretary.
An address of welcome was delivered by Nathaniel J. Pillsbury. Letters were read from Judge Treat, who held the first term of court in Pontiac, and from Hon. David Davis and Jesse W. Fell. O. F. Pearre, had been requested to furnish a poem for the occasion.
After these exercises, various old settlers made short addresses, and the day was spent in relating incidents and anecdotes of the early days, and a regular Old Settlers' Association was formed.
The second meeting was held on the fair grounds in September, 1876. The third meeting was held at Fairbury, September 4, 1877, and was largely attended. The meeting was called to order by the President, James McDowell, and Dr. Fraley delivered an address of welcome. Hon. Woodford G. McDowell delivered a historical address, and letters from various distingnislied persons, who visited the county in an early day, were read.
The officers elected for the following year, were : President, Walter Cornell; Secretary, John A. Fellows ; Scribe, David Murdock ; Chaplain, Rev. James Parcells. The village of Cornell was chosen for its next point of meeting.
[The History of Livingston County, Illinois - Wm. LeBaron, Jr. & Co. - 186 Dearborn Street, Chicago (1878)]
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