"Old Rover Ferry" Contributed by Bill Browning
"Old Fire Place" Contributed by Bill Browning
Story by June Thomas Springer
from the Harman House Museum, Pleasant Hill, Illinois
This is a family story told to me by my Aunt Irma Thomas Greene about her mother, Dell Bower Thomas and her family.
Grandma Dell was born in Chillicothe Ohio on May 9, 1861. Her parents were Peter and Minerva Cryder Bower. In 1870 at the age of nine years she came to Illinois along with her parents and siblings, namely: Brothers Thomas, William, Peter and Davis, and sister Mary (who married Mel Hilman) and Margaret who married a Craigmiles. They came here to begin a new life after an exchange of letters with Minerva's sister and brother-in-law, Keziah and William B. Hillman. The Bower family joined a wagon train that was coming to Alton Illinois. Room in the wagon was limited as the family was large and everything was needed to begin their new life. The decision was sadly made to leave their beloved dog in Ohio.
The journey was very hard and grandma Dell often spoke of having only one meal a day which usually was a bowl of mush. When they reached Alton they were met by William Hillman who owned property in the Summer Hill area, which is now owned by the Clark Shinn family. They crossed the Illinois River by Ferry around the Pere Marquette Park area and traveled the last leg of their journey.
Their home was a simple log cabin, in section seven of Martinsburg Township about half a mile from the Hillmans. It had no floors but Peter being a good carpenter used hewn logs to lay a floor. After the family had been in their home for two weeks, the faithful dog turned up with bloody feet and nearly starved. They lived in this home for two years but since there were three blacksmiths in Summer Hill Peter was unable to earn a living for his large family. So they moved to Pleasant Hill where he worked his trade.
For years the cabin timbers came down and were removed. The rock fireplace remained. Time took its toll on the chimney and gradually it also disappeared. It had been a landmark people knew well as they drove the highway (54) between Summer Hill and New Hartford. This rock fireplace which must have been well over 120 years old, was a symbol of pioneer courage and love of a faithful dog, especially to the many descendants of the Bower family.