Nimrod Phillips Pioneer Family

Contributed by Gene Clark
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Nimrod Phillips Will & Estate sale Record (Son Andrews Family)

NIMROD PHILIPS DIED in the spring of 1831. The big snow, deepest of record in Illinois, still lay in the wilderness when he took to his bed. He had inhabited the log house at the ferry since 1824, in which year he acquired the rude transport from Garret VanDusen. The ferry from that time on bore the name of Philips.

Andrew Philips succeeded his father at the ferry. Nimrod, in his will, left the ferry to Andrew. Andrew and his family were living in a log house on the knoll where now is Griggsville. There was no town there then. Following his father's death, which occurred on June 2, 1831, Andrew moved to the log house at the ferry, the same that had been occupied by his father.

In a preceding chapter we have had a description of this log cabin as it appeared to Rebecca Burlend, English immigrant mother, who found in it a refuge the first night of her stay in the new land that thenceforth was to be her home. On the family bedding, spread on the rude puncheons before the open fireplace in the Philips cabin, the Burlend family spent the night of November 5, 1831, having at last found rest from the trying experiences encountered in the long journey from near Leeds in England.

Nimrod Philips, daughter Celia (the child he calls "Selah" in his will) married and located with her husband in Sullivan county, Indiana. There, Nimrod's widow (who was Nancy Elledge Norris) and his young daughter, Zerelda Jean, also established their home following Nimrod's death, and there they died and are buried.

Nimrod's wife was a daughter of the Booties, her mother being Charity Boone, daughter of Edward, who was a younger brother of Daniel. Her father was Francis Elledge, who is buried northeast of Griggsville, beside his wife Charity. Nancy first married a Norris, the noted ferryman being her second husband. By her, Nimrod Philips had but one child, Zerelcia Jean. Children by a former marriage included Elizabeth, Andrew, Celia and Anna Philips.

The story of Elizabeth has been related in the history of Jesse Elledge, the pioneer Baptist whose second wife she was. The story of her descendants has also been recounted in the Elledge chapters. Jesse Elledge, the great Baptist preacher in pioneer times, was a brother of Nancy Philips, and his wife was Nancy's step daughter.

Nimrod Philips on September 3, 1826 in his log cabin at the ferry, wrote his will, a curious document, spelling it out laboriously in the presence of Thomas K. Norris (a son of Mrs. Philips by her first husband) and Miss Leah Scholl (a daughter of Abraham Scholl who had arrived from Kentucky the preceding year and was now settled north of Griggsville).

Nimrod Philips will, written that (lay and signed in the presence of the above witnesses, is still on file in the Pike county court house, being one of the documents that was saved from the fire that gutted the clerk's office at Atlas in the winter of the deep snow. This will, a relic of those days when the pioneers disposed of their meager property with the utmost particularity, is herewith copied in full for the reader's entertainment:
Illinois Pike County
In the name of God Amen -

Nimrod Philips of the State and County aforesaid inten to travel and Not knowing but I may die before I return do make this my last will and testament first I give to Zerrelda Jean my youngest child five head of Cattle a cow cald Cherry and her caves a horse cald Jack three beds and furniture and all the kitchen furniture and utensils this I give to my youngest child by Nancy Philips oust Nancy Norris Zerrelda Jean Philips is her name I give to Nancy Philips my wife one loom and its furniture 3 breeding sows and their pigs six barrows for her meat She is to have her choise of the above named Hoggs She is to live where I now live at the ferry My part of the crop of corn that has been on the place this year to be hers. She is to live on the place until Zerrelda is of age and have the benefit of the improved land Zerrelda is to have six dolers for 3 years Schoolling 18 dollers. "I give to Elizabeth Elledge my oldest daughter one doller the rest of my estate and property is to be equaly divided between my 3 children Andrew Philips, Selah Philips, Ana Philips except Andrew is to have the ferry this is my last will and testament"

The above will was probated before William Ross, then probate judge, at his office in Atlas, the then county seat, August 7, 1831. One of the witnesses, Leah Scholl, had in the meantime married Hiram Rattan, kinsman of Mearel E. Rattan, who was Pittsfield's first postmaster and first tavern keeper, his tavern being where Harry Hesley's new mercantile building now is.

David Johnston (the early surveyor), George W. Hinman and Samuel Winegar were appointed appraisers of Nimrod Philips estate. Andrew Philips and Nancy Philips were executors of the will. Andrew later administered the estate, with Hastings Wells as his bondsman. On September 29, 1831, at Nimrod's late home at the ferry, was held a public sale of his effects. The sale was cried by P. B. Hume. An old sale bill shows the following among the purchasers of Nimrod's chattels: Samuel Winegar, Charles Hazelrigg, James Bennett, Jesse Elledge, Thomas Parrick, Samuel Holloway, Thomas Philips, Richard Beall, Cajicah Triplett, Andrew Philips, Zebulon Reed, B. M. Hume, Reason Nighswonger, Theodore Dickinson, Timothy Bennett, Edwin McWorthy, George Bickerdike, Nathan Coffey, G. W. Hinman, James McWorthy, William Philips, John Beard, Alvin McWorthy, John Day, Joseph Hume, Thomas Meredith, J. D. Brooks. This was then an almost complete roster of the heads of families in the region that is now Flint and Griggsville townships.

Prices, too, are interesting, as shown by the Philips sale bill. A "pided cow and calf two years old" sold for $7.50; a "pided heifer calf one year old" for $2.50; a "white heifer 2 years 01 (1 for $6; 28 head of sheep for .$1.50 each; a "red steer with a white face" for $7; 11 bee stands for $1.50 each; a dry hide for $1.

James McWorthy bought a yoke of cattle with yoke and irons for $37; Theodore Dickinson a fowling piece for $1.62 1/2, Richard Beau two pairs of saddle bags for $2.87 1/2, Thomas Parrick a bake oven for $1.25; Dickinson a Dearborn wagon (an early four-wheeled carriage with curtained sides), together with harness, for $15.75; Andrew Philips five head of hogs (running at large) for $5. Nimrod Philips sale totaled $367.77.

The old ferryman's library, according to the inventory, comprised "one Margin Bible, Josephus, Life of Lafayette, Walkers Dictionary."

One of the very first cases at the first term of circuit court held in the new county seat town of Pittsfield in March, 1834, arose out of the settlement of Nimrod Philips estate. In this case, Andrew Philips, administrator of his father is estate, sued John Jay Boss, son of Leonard Ross and an attorney at the Pike county bar, for a sum of money alleged to be due the estate. Philips was represented by the noted Murray McConnell; Ross by Thomas Ford, afterwards governor of Illinois. The matter was finally settled without a trial of issues.

Andrew Philips, son of Nimrod, was one of the most noted men of the pioneer period. He resided where Griggsville now is long before there was any town there. He was a justice of the peace and married many couples in the county's early clays. On coming up into this region Out of Kentucky, he first established his family in what is now Scott county. He settled on the Pike side of the river in 1826. He abided in the Sangamo country, east of the Illinois river, in what is now Scott county, as early as 1822. His son, James Monroe Philips, an almost life-long resident of Pike county, was born in Scott county in 1826, just prior to the family migration to the Pike side of the river.

Mrs. Burlend has given us a picture of the Andrew Philips family, notably of the wife and mother, Jane Philips, together with a brief survey of manners and customs in the pioneer Pike county cabins of more than a hundred years ago. The account is contained in Mrs. Burlend's book, A True Picture of Emigration, published first (anonymously) in England in 1848 and reprinted as a Lakeside Classic by the Lakeside Press of Chicago, in a Christmas edition in 1936. The authoress, having spent the night in the Philips cabin after being landed from the river packet on the desolate shore at Philips Ferry in the chill dusk of a November evening in 1831, thus continues her narrative:

The following morning, after a comfortable nights repose, we felt our health and spirits improved. My husband (John Burlend) began to examine the soils and produce of the country, and to collect what information I could respecting American housewifery, manners, religion, etc. Our hostess (Jane Philips, wife of Andrew) was a little woman, exceedingly fond of smoking, as the Americans generally are, particularly the females. (Note: Mrs. Burlend herself became an inveterate smoker here in the New World; her grandson, Frank Allen of Pittsfield, 80 years old, has a rocking chair of his grandmothers on which the rockers were worn through from constant sliding across the puncheons, as Mrs. Burlend, in her old age, worked the chair across the floor to the fireplace for a coal to kindle her pipe, then back again to her cozy corner for a quiet smoke.) Continuing, Mrs. Burlend says:

Before leaving England I had heard a great deal said in behalf of American hospitality, but these encominins certainly require to be qualified; they are exceedingly hospitable to gentlemen who may be making a tour, likewise amongst themselves as neighbors; but when they know a person really must trouble them, they appear to be aware they are conferring a favor, and expect an equivalent. The little lady I have been describing knew little of generosity; we understood very soon that we should be expected to pay for our harbour, although we used our own provisions. I am forgetting that on one occasion she generously told me I might give my children the broth in which she had boiled some cabbage if I thought they would drink it; I told her they had not been accustomed to such fare.

Note: Mrs. Burlend apparently did not understand that the Philips cabin, humble and restricted as it was, was nevertheless a licensed inn or tavern of that day and that its rate for lodging and food for man and beast were fixed by the county commissioners court sitting in the county seat town of Atlas.

We remained here three days (in the Philips cabin), continues Mrs. Burlend, during which I became tolerably conversant in the theory of American housekeeping, and as Mrs. Philips (that was the name of our hostess) was very loquacious, she initiated me into the peculiarities of Illinois politeness.

No person, however slender his pretensions to knighthood, or how long so ever the time since his small clothes were new, is addressed without the courteous epithet of Sir and this practice is observed by the members of the same family in their intercourse with each other; of course the females are in like manner honored with Madam. It is not etiquette in Illinois to sit at table after you have done eating; to remain after you have finished your meal implies that you have not had sufficient. This custom I subsequently found a very convenient one.

Andrew Philips, according to the record in an old Philips family Bible possessed by Andrews grandson, John Philips of Griggsville, was bornd May 3, 1801. He was born in the Boone country, along the Yadkin, in North Carolina. The Boones, Eledges and Philipses belonged to a common settlement; eventually the various families, migrating to Kentucky, again settled in the same neighborhood.

Andrew Philips had two sons and two daughters, namely: James Monroe Philips, born in Scott county November 27, 1826; Cenia Alta Philips, born in Pike county November 7, 1829; Flavius Josephus Philips, born in Pike county August 21, 1831; and Sarah Ann Philips, born in Pike county January 5, 1835.

James Monroe Philips experienced many privations and hardships in the region of present Griggsville and, later, on the shore of the Illinois river near present Valley City. He lived on the knoll where Griggsville is now when it was raw prairie; he was there during the deep snow of 1830-31. In 1831 they moved to the ferry.

James Monroe got a little schooling in the pioneer log school near present Griggsville. On June 28, 1855 he married Sarah Jane Jester, a daughter of Nathan Jester and Elizabeth Hurd, early settlers in western Illinois. Sarah Jane was born August 1, 1831.

James Monroe Philips and Sarah Jane Jester had five children, namely, Stephen A. Douglas, Emily Jane, David George McClellan, and two children, twins, born in 1870, who died in infancy.

Stephen A. Douglas Philips was born January 15, 1856; he died, unmarried, December 26, 1918. He is buried in Bethel cemetery, in Newburg.

Emily Jane Philips was born December 8, 1858; she died, unmarried, at the Willard Nesbit home in Griggsville, October 24, 1933, in her 75th year. She had resided at Dawn, Missouri, until shortly before her death. She is buried in Bethel.

David George McClellan Philips was born March 1, 1861. On February 8, 1883 he married Jennie (Jane) M. Perry of Griggsville. She was born August 7, 1839, a daughter of Jonathan Perry. She is a sister of William Perry of Griggsville and of the late Mrs. Elizabeth Bickerdike. They had one daughter, Ida Mae Philips, born April 17, 1884, who married Harry E. Wilson, December 11, 1918. They reside in Florida. David McClellan Philips died August 7, 1914 and is buried at Bethel. His widow resides with the daughter, Ida Mae.

James Monroe Philips followed the occupation of farmer and resided on Section 35 in Griggsville township, one mile north of Bethel church, on the Griggsvile-Detroit road. The ancient log house in which he lived and in which he died, still stands, though leaning towards decay, a relic of the ancient wilderness, the oldest log cabin now standing in the county, built by George Bickerdike, first of the English Bickerdikes in America, in 1827.

Mr. Philips had many thrilling experiences with wolves and Indians in the early settlement. On one occasion, when the Indians in camp along Bay and Blue Creeks had committed unusual and widespread depredations, such as killing or driving off the settlers stock, etc., he assisted in driving them out of the neighborhood. One of the Indians seemed determined to load his gun and fight it out but was caught by one of the whites and severely whipped with a brush.

James Monroe Philips lay for thirteen years a bedridden invalid in the old log house north of Bethel church, which was the home of Philipses for three-quarters of a century. Here, wasted by paralysis, he died March 10, 1903, in his 77th year. His was a house of hospitality. There are those yet living who recall the good times they once had in Roe Philips cabin.

Mrs. Philips, who was Sarah Jane Jester, died before her husband, her death occurring in 1899. She and her husband are buried in Bethel yard. A granite stone in the east part of the yard marks the burial plot of the Monroe Philips family.

Cenia Alta Philips, a daughter of Andrew and Jane, and a sister of James Monroe, was born on the site of present Griggsville, November 7, 1829. She died, unmarried, in her 25th year, August 12, 1854. She is buried beside her father at Bethel.
Source: The Jess M. Thompson Pike County History as Printed in installments in The Pike County Republican, Pittsville Illinois 1935 - 1939 LDS Library 977.345 H2t

Please take the time to read this information. I just received this from Nancy Teruya. (As with "All" information we come across -- you the researcher, must make your own conclusions)

It's inaccurate in part, mostly because the contributor has relied on the oral tradition existing in Pike County History by Jess Thompson.

1) Nimrod Phillips 3rd wife, Nancy (previously married Norris and subsequently married George Bright), was NOT the daughter of Charity Boone and Francis Elledge. That particular Nancy Elledge was married to Nimrod's brother Dr. Nathan Phillips. There is documentation to prove this, including affidavits of Dr. Nathan Phillips military service, in order for Nancy Elledge Phillips to receive his pension.

2) Reverend Jesse Elledge, son of Charity Boone and Francis Elledge, was NOT married twice. He was born in 1800 (birth sources: gravestone/census material/Oregon Historical Society MSS 400) and married at age 19 to Nimrod Phillips daughter Elizabeth in 1819. She was four years his senior, having been born in 1796.

There are four children that Thompson attributes to his supposed first wife Adeline and Jesse: Charity b. 1794; Adeline b. c1823; Daniel Boone; and Martha.

Charity b. 1794 turns out to be the daughter of Francis and Charity. She is Jesse's older sister.

Adeline Elledge was born in Tennessee. She is the daughter of James Elledge (Jesse's older brother) and she married Isaac Woodward. Judge Deal found an affidavit dated 21 Oct 1851 Grant County, Wisconsin by Polly McCoy (Elledge, Chandler) stating the children of James Elledge were Lucy Underwood, Adeline Woodward, Matilda Meyers, Nathan Boone Elledge. James also left a will.

Daniel Boone Elledge is the son Isaac Elledge (Isaac is the son of Thomas).

Martha Elledge is the daughter of Nancy Elledge and unknown. Nancy, being the daughter of Charity Boone and Francis Elledge, and sister of Jesse, and later married to Dr. Nathan Phillips. An Elledge Bible noted that "Martha S Elledge b. Feb 28, 1812 dau. of Nancy Elledge". I'm pretty sure I saw it in another source, but can't find it at the moment. Martha may have been living with Jesse and Elizabeth in 1830 census (extra female 10-15 range).