Biographies of the Early Settlers
SOME OF THE MAKERS OF VERMILION COUNTY.
(History of Vermilion County, Illinois By Lottie E. Jones Published In 1911)
Submitted by Barb Ziegenmeyer
This list of the makers of Vermilion County is of necessity limited. There are other citizens of this decade who have been overlooked without doubt. The omission of any name of men who came to this section previous to 1830 is not intentional and comes only because of lack of information regarding such. True this period covering the time of the coming of the makers of Vermilion County from 1819 to 1829 includes but three years of the actual existence of Vermilion County as an organization, but it is the first decade of the life of the white man in the section of country now known as Vermilion County and as such, gives the story of the first settlers of the territory.
It seems impossible to learn much of Seymour Treat's life. The first thing known of him is that he lived at Fort Harrison, in 1819. When Blackman returned from his trial to the Vermilion Salt Springs, in company with Barren, and formed another company to return and claim the discovery of them, thereby betraying the trust of Barren, Seymour Treat was one of the men who returned with him.
No record was kept throwing any light on the reason for selecting this party so that little idea of the character of these men can be had, at least as to whether they knew of the previous discovery by John Barren. The only real knowledge that is to be obtained now is of his residence at Fort Harrison.
Seymour Treat came to the Salt Springs, a mile and a half above the old Kickapoo town, the latter part of November, 1881. He with his wife and children, made the trip up the Wabash and Vermilion rivers in a pirogue, bringing tools and what goods they could not do without, and provisions to last them during the winter. One at the present day can hardly imagine the privations they endured. A hastily built cabin kept them from the cold, but that was all. The men of this first settlement included the two Beckwith brothers, Peter Allen, and Francis Whitcomb. They could hunt and find pleasure in the free life of the wilderness, but wife and small children having none of these diversions found much to regret in the change from life at Fort Harrison. Their nearest neighbors were at the North Arm prairie, fully forty miles away. The old Indian town miles below their cabin was deserted and weeds grew in the fields where the squaws had planted the corn, and hoed the squashes. The loneliness of the life, and the effect of the absence of the comforts they had before enjoyed, is voiced in the words of Treat to the governor a year later : — "My family remained on the ground ever since their arrival, except one who fell a victim to the suffering and privations which they have had to. endure in a situation so remote from a settled country without the means of procuring the ordinary comforts of life." This letter was written because of the fact that the treachery of Blackman had left even his followers without valid claim to the salt springs.
After the different claims to the salt springs were settled, Treat, with Dan Beckwith, went to Denmark. Here Treat built a mill which he operated for some time. Seymour Treat was justice of the peace for a time while this territory was a part of the unorganized territory attached to Edgar County and while in this office he married Cyrus Douglas and also Marquis Snow. He later came to Danville where it is presumed he died and was probably buried in the Williams burying ground.
Dan Beckwith deserves the record as among the first settlers of Vermilion County since his coming antedates the organization of the county itself. Dan Beckwith was a native of Bedford County, Pennsylvania. He was born there in 1795. He was one of a family of six brothers and two sisters, who went with their parents into New York state, while Dan was but a lad. Three of these brothers came west and were residents of Vermilion County at one time.
George Beckwith and Dan Beckwith left New York state together, and came to Fort Harrison in the summer of 1816, the year Dan was twenty-one years old. Two years later they went on to the North Arm Prairie, and lived with Jonathan Mayo's family. Here they made their home until 1819, when they went to the Vermilion Salines.
Dan Beckwith was a man of pleasing appearance. He was tall — full six feet, two inches. He had broad square shoulders ; was straight, muscular and spare of flesh, weighing, when in health, about 190 pounds. He was an expert axe-man and a shrewd Indian trader. Within two years after he came to the Vermilion he was to be found with an armful of goods such as the red man would fancy, in a place partly excavated in the side of a hill at Denmark, trading for furs with the Indian.
Later, through his efforts mainly, Danville had been selected as the County Seat, he built a cabin on the brow of the bluff, near the end of west Main street, and continued his trading. This cabin was not far from the present-day Gilbertbert street bridge. Later he had a cabin further west on Main street and formed a partnership with James Clymer and together they traded to their profit.
When the chosen site of the County Seat of the newly organized Vermilion County at the Saltworks was found to be impossible on account of the lease to Major Vance, and Denmark the already settled town had nearly secured the prize, Dan Beckwith, together with Guy Smith offered land at the present site and determined its location.
Dan Beckwith died while yet a young man. He did not live beyond the days of pioneer Vermilion County. His death occurred at Danville, December, 1835. He was buried in the old Williams burying ground. The city bought the privilege of opening a street through this cemetery of the heirs of Amos Williams and Dan Beckwith's remains were moved to Springhill.
Both the children of Dan Beckwith are now dead. Hiram Beckwith was the father of two sons. His oldest son married Linne Williams, the daughter of Smith Williams, and granddaughter of Amos Williams. They were the parents of two children, Grace and Dan. Hiram's younger son, Clarence, married Grace Dickman and is the father of one son, Hiram William. Mrs. Lemon was the mother of two daughters, May Lemon and Laura Lemon Bird, whose first husband's name was Mott.
Francis Whitcomb, the third of the first settlers of Vermilion County, who made any impress upon its affairs, was identified with two sections — the saltworks and Butler's Point. He came to the salt springs with the Blackman company and was one of the three with whom Blackman made the agreement to make partners in the profits of the saltworks. That he did not stand by his word has already been recorded. While the matter was being adjusted Francis Whitcomb continued working at the saltworks. It is during his stay here that a story is told of him which shows a kind heart and refined nature that expressed
itself in unusual degree. It was after Seymour Treat had gone to Denmark, and there were no women at the saltworks, other than Baily's wife. This family of Baily's consisted of himself, his wife and two or three small children. Baily sold out to Mr. Luddington, and left his family, to go to the "Illinois River Country." Soon the children became ill and Mrs. Baily herself was taken ill. The men working at the saltworks were all unmarried. There was no one to give the women and children the needed care.
Francis Whitcomb took as good care of them as a woman could. He provided their food as well as possible where there was nothing to be had fit for ill people to eat. He did their washing, attended their wants, and rendered all assistance possible under the circumstances, with no doctors, and no drug stores near where aid or medicine could be procured. In spite of the care this young man could give the children, one by one wasted away, and died. No lumber or plank was to be had with which to make their coffins, but the men split rough boards from a walnut tree that grew a short distance from Butler's
branch, and made rude caskets. These strong men inured to hardships, silently and with sad faces buried the children, with no minister to say a prayer nor relatives to mourn as the graves were filled.
Francis Whitcomb went to Butler's Point from the saltworks, and took up the farm afterwards known as the one Richard Jones lived on. The house he built is yet standing. He lived here a number of years and sold the farm to Henry Jones himself going to McLean County, where he died and was buried. Francis Whitcomb was the father of six children. His wife's maiden name was Jane Irwin. His children's names were Ira, Francis, John, Jeremiah, Ruth Ann and Temperance.
Ira Whitcomb married Cynthia Wooden, the daughter of his nearest neighbor, whose house yet stands across the road from the old Whitcomb house. Ira Whitcomb moved to Minnesota, where he lived until he died.
JAMES D. BUTLER.
With the exception of those coming to the saltworks, probably James D. Butler was the first settler in his section of the country. Mr. Butler came directly from Clark County, Ohio, but he had lived in that state only six years so that he really came here a Vermonter in sentiment and habits. He was a native of Vermont, coming west from Chittenden County, Vermont, to Clark County, Ohio, in 1814. He left Ohio in the spring of 1820, and came to the point of timber which ran out into the prairie west of Catlin, and took up a claim. The land had not yet been surveyed by the government and put upon the market. Mr. Butler had friends come with him, neighbors from Ohio. They all put in crops and returned to Ohio in the fall, expecting to come back in the spring. Mr. Butler did come and brought his family with him, but the neighbors refused to come. They thought they had enough of the inconvenience of the new country. It took courage on the part of Mrs. Butler to come to her new home under circumstances such as these. True her husband was satisfied with conditions in the new country, but on the other hand the stories told by the others were very discouraging. But in the due course of time Mr. Butler and his family reached their new home and took possession of the cabin he had built for them the previous summer. His cabin was erected on the east side of the brook which is even yet known as Butler's branch and on the right hand side of the road going from Catlin to the old Fair Grounds. When Butler's family moved in they had as their nearest neighbors, Treat's family at the Salt Springs and to the south the newcomers since his return to Ohio, a man well known late in the county whose name was Henry Johnson. He had moved on the Little Vermilion in the early spring. Within a few years several families came to this neighborhood and Butler's Point became an important settlement and remained so for some time after the organization of Vermilion County. Near
Butler's house there was a large oak tree, which had defied the prairie fires and all threats of wind and weather, which became a landmark and sentinel which guided travelers crossing the trackless plains to the south and west. It was called "Butler's Lone Tree."
Later Mr. Butler prospered and built him a fine house, locating it near the corner of the old Fair Grounds, at the northeast corner. This house was almost a mansion as compared with all the other cabins. The logs were square-hewn and the corners of the building cut even with the line of the wall. It was in this house that the first court of Vermilion County sat. Mr. Butler was a man of good business, possessed a practical mind and was conspicuous in the affairs of Vermilion County at an early day. He had the thrift and energy characteristic of one born and reared in Vermont, as well as possessing their courage. He spent the remainder of his life in Vermilion County at Butler's Point and when he died was buried in the enclosure since known as the Butler Burying Grounds. His wife was buried in the same burying grounds. James Butler and wife were the parents of four children, one son and three daughters. The son moved to Kansas, one daughter became the wife of her cousin by name of Butler, the second daughter became the wife of Marcus Snow and later of Cyrus Douglas, and the third daughter became the wife of a Mr. Fielder and after the death of Mr. Coleman, and went west. The two daughters first mentioned were buried in the Butler burying ground.
The year James Butler came to the place afterward called Butler's Point with his family, the first settlement on the Little Vermilion was made by Henry Johnson. Some doubt is expressed on the matter of date, however, and there is good reason to think that he came in the fall after Butler returned to Ohio. A letter written by Henry Johnson addressed to William Lowery, the member in the Illinois legislature from Clark County at that time, and dated November 22, 1822, is also dated at Achilles township, and from what is written in the letter it is evident that "Achilles township at that time embraced the entire of Clark County, watered by two Vermilion rivers and extended as far north as the Kankakee river." In this letter Henry Johnson states that "he had a knowledge of the affairs of this (Achilles) township since October, 1820." With that evidence it is fair to assume that Henry Johnson came to the Little Vermilion, some two miles west of Georgetown in the fall of the year that James Butler came in the spring and put in a crop and in the fall about the time Johnson came, went back to Ohio for the winter.
Mr. Johnson was a man of generous impulses and his neighbors long sang his praises. If a man was hard pushed for ready money and went to Henry Johnson he was sure to get it, if it was to be had, and the loan given so cordially was never to pay interest. Mr. Johnson would never take interest on any money he loaned. Mr. Johnson sold his farm in about 1832 or 34, to Levy Long and he moved further west, to the fertile strip between the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, called the "Military Tract." Here he was making a good farm until it was discovered that his title was worthless as so many were, and he lost all his land. Thus was the man of whom his old neighbors could say nothing but praise, who was known by the name of the "Good Samaritan," kind and generous, was rendered penniless by these "land sharks" and forced to go yet further west. He was after this lost to the knowledge of his old friends but his kindness was told by one generation to the next and his name kept as synonymous for generosity and helpfulness.
Absolom Starr came to Johnson's Point in 1821. This was the settlement begun by Henry Johnson, a brother-in-law of Starr's the fall previous. Absolom Starr came to this part of Edgar County, as it was at that time, directly from Palestine, Illinois. The land office was located at Palestine before it was removed to Danville.
When Mr. Starr came he brought corn and wheat enough to keep his family for a year. He also brought a good yoke of oxen and was well fixed to go into a new country to make his home. He brought his wife and four children with him. He built his cabin on section 36, near to his brother-in-law. So provident a man had every reason to expect fortune to smile on him, but this was not the case, however. During the first winter in their new home he had a trivial injury to his heel, which resisted all treatment and he was assured that cancer had developed. A trip back to their old home in Palestine, where there was a physician living was of no avail, because the idea of cancer was confirmed and there was great danger of having to loose his foot. However, he could not raise the money demanded for the operation and he came back to his new home discouraged and almost despondent. There was an old Indian doctor, called Bonaparte's Indian, who lived about there, and for the want of any more skilled practitioner, Mrs. Starr consulted him. By the use of some herbs he collected along the Vermilion river, he cured the diseased heel which the physician at Palestine thought could be reached only by the use of the knife. Mrs. Starr nursed her husband back to strength, at the same time tending her garden and two acres of corn. Henry Johnson's kind heart helped this family to take care of themselves during these hard days. Mr. Starr lived until October 14, 1829. He was buried in the old burying ground, now known as Mt. Pisgah cemetery, near Georgetown.
Mrs. Starr survived her husband and afterward became the wife of Mr. Jones, spending her last years on the farm she first helped get into cultivation. She was the mother of eleven children and left many descendants in the county, among them being Mrs. J. W. Giddings.
Jotham Lyons took up land west of Henry Johnson about the same time. He lived here until his death, August 2, 1843. He was buried in the present Mt. Pisgah cemetery, near Georgetown. His first wife, Elizabeth, died on Christmas day, 1827, and was buried in the same burying ground.The children of Jotham Lyons are scattered across the country. One son has lived in the neighborhood of the old home and identified himself with affairs of the county.
Another man to settle in this neighborhood was John Jordon. John Jordon came to Johnson's Point a short time after Absolom Starr arrived, but in the same year.
William Swank came to the southern part of the county in this year which saw the advent of Henry Johnson and Jotham Lyons. He entered land at where Indianola is located and became an active factor in the development of that section of the country. The all prevailing demand of the time for whiskey was not lacking in this section, and to meet this Mr. Swank set up a still-house down in the bottom, where he would make an occasional barrel of good pure liquor for his neighbor's use. The condition of this malarial country was one occasion of this demand for whiskey, and this primitive way of meeting it insured a pure article for consumption. Mr. Swank provided for the needs of his neighbors in another, and perhaps better way by the little corncracker which he had attached, which was run by tread-millpower, and did all the neighborhood grinding. So prominent in the affairs of this section did Mr. Swank become, he was given the credit of naming a village at the place now known as Indianola. When the village was first established it was named Chillacothe. Since William Swank was known throughout this section as the "Father of Dallas," there is no doubt of his politics, during the decided Forties and Fifties when men held strong views on all questions of the day whether of politics or of religion. Mr. Swank came from the South and naturally clung to the habit of thought of his youth, and was an uncompromising Democrat. He lived in the same neighborhood into which he first came all his life. His death occurred in the late seventies and he left children who remained in that section and perpetuated his name.
John Myers came to the Little Vermilion as early as 1820 and settled on the land afterward the farm of the well known R. E. Barnett. While living in this place this man was much better known as "Injun John." He was a man whose nickname fit him more in its implication, and suggestion than in any other way although he earned it by his open hatred of the Redman.
He was a character noticeable in even those days when all individualities were prominent. In the free life of the pioneer, there was little polish and every man was himself, to be liked or despised as the case might be, but even then, some were more prominent than others because of unusual traits of character. "Injun John" was one of these. He was free with what he had, and expected every one to be equally so. He had little love for property which was his own, and no consideration for the rights of others. He was brave, self-willed and on the water would have been a gay buccaneer.
John Myers had an eighty acre farm in Ohio, but the freedom of the new country in Illinois, which was as yet unorganized into counties, but was attached to Edgar County, appealed to him. So it was Mr. Starr, the uncle of Absolom and Barnett Starr, who had bought eight hundred and eighty acres on the Little Vermilion river at a land sale, found an eager trader in this man from Ohio. He traded his farm of 8 acres for this unseen 88 acres, and started to take possession thereof.
On his way he passed his brother-in-law, Joseph Frazier, in Indiana, and told him he would give him a quarter section of this land if he (Frazier) would go on with him. This gift was not to be refused and they came on and settled in this section in 1821. The particular tract which Myers gave away that he might have company in his new home, afterward became a portion of the Sconce farm. The land was first bought by the Sullivants from Frazier in 1853, when they were the great land kings of Champaign County and were carrying out plans to develop a large estate in Vermilion County. The Sullivants cut the fine growth of walnut timber from the Frazier farm to fence in "broad lands." Myers was a fearless and untiring hunter. At one time just before he came to this section of country, while yet he lived in Ohio, a neighbor of his with his two sons were out in a sugar bush at work in the spring of the year, when some Indians surprised them and killed them.
Myers gathered together a company and went in pursuit of the Indians. They struck the trail in the new snow and followed it until all but three of the pursuers gave out from exhaustion, one of whom was Myers himself. With his force so depleted, Myers told the other two that he would shoot the next one who refused to go on. This increased the courage of his companions and Myers' physical endurance, pluck and determination to avenge his friends was catching "and carried the day," and the three overtook the Indians and had their revenge. This was the material of which Myers was made. A man of powerful strength, he would crack a black walnut with his teath and many a man found to his sorrow that it was not wise to provoke him to a fight.
He hated an Indian and was the first to be ready to go to the Black Hawk war and was one of those who made that war a disgrace to the white man. He knew no such thing as discipline ; abhorred tactics and did not believe in waiting for orders or supplies. He made a great deal of trouble by his insubordination. Habits of intemperance had grown on him, and he would get very drunk and become abusive to the officers and everybody else. He wanted to go into the fight at once; he had gone into that affair to kill Indians and he was impatient to begin. He came to "fight Injuns" and fight he was going to do, if no one else, then he would try his strength on the officers. He told these new fledged officers that they "knew no more about fightin' Injuns than a bear did about a camp meetin' " and he was put under arrest, to his surprise.
While brave and generous, he had no judgment about affairs and used up all his property before he died. He took an interest in every enterprise that was proposed. He lost much money in helping Simon Cox try to build a mill which never did get to be a success.
Jack McDowell was a handsome and lively young man who was struggling to get on in the world, and "Injun John" took a notion to him and made him an offer of a half-section of land, but, much as the young man wanted the land there was a provision that he should marry Myers' daughter, and that decided the acceptance of the gift. "Injun John" kept his land. He gave away or lost all his land and went out to the Illinois River where he afterward died in poverty. Thus passed one of the most picturesque characters of eastern Illinois.
Henry Canaday was a native of North Carolina who moved north, with his family, in the fall of 1820, and stopped over winter in Wayne County, Indiana. Two of his sons came on over the state line and put up a cabin in what is now the southern part of Vermilion County. His four sons were Benjamin, Frederich, William and John. The entire family took possession of the round log cabin which the two sons had built, and began their new life without neighbors other than the Indians who camped on the banks of the Little Vermilion in the spring of the year to hunt and fish. They would visit the cabin to beg and steal and trade but never seriously annoyed them.
There were many sugar-maple trees on the land the Canadays had chosen for their home and they made sugar that first spring, but they were not contented and Benjamin returned to Tennessee, where their old home had been, and bought a farm. Soon the entire family returned to their old home but it was to stay only during the summer. They sold their property in Tennessee and returned to their cabin on the Little Vermilion river before winter. This was the fall of 1821 and their cabin was on what was yet unorganized territory attached to Edgar County. They had much sickness during this winter, having come from a different climate, and the nearest physician was at Clinton, Indiana. They had to go to mill on Raccoon Creek in Park County, Indiana, and Terre Haute was the nearest trading point. They had no horses when spring came and they broke ground with oxen. Wild deer was plentiful and they filled the smokehouse soon after they came with deer hams, and also had plenty of pork. When they first came the year before, they brought thirty hogs with them from Indiana and when they went back to Tennessee they left them in the woods. These animals lived in the woods and became so wild as to be a menace to stock for years afterward. Wild game was plentiful and deer, turkey and other fowl gave them a variety of food. The entire family occupied the one roomed cabin for some time, and the mother did the cooking by the fireplace ; the floor was of puncheon, the roof of clapboards, held down with weight poles and the stick and clay chimney was built on the outside.
About the second year of their living at this place, Henry Canaday, together with George Haworth, "set up a meeting," as it is called by the Society of Friends, when a new church was established. These two men and others who came afterwards to the neighborhood, built a log cabin in which they had meetings and later built a church of hewed logs. Sometimes the attendance was so small that Henry Canaday and his son, Benjamin, would go to "meeting" and sit through the hour alone, in order to keep up the church organization as was the demand of that society.
Henry Canaday was very prominent in the life of the growing Vermilion County. He entered about two sections of land as soon as it came into market, and sold it off to new comers. Henry Canaday was a tanner and a blacksmith, and as soon as possible after the family came to their new home they managed to establish both trades. He could the better do this because of his four grown sons. He started a lanyard in which his son William worked, and also a tin- shop for his son Benjamin. William later carried on harness making and sadlery but his father, Henry Canaday, never had that trade.
Benjamin Canaday, the oldest son of Henry Canaday, was a tinner by trade and during the winter of the big snow (1830), he made up a stock of tin ware and traded it off at Louisville for goods. These he brought back with him and put into a building he had put up for a store on his farm just west of Vermilion (later Vermilion Grove), on the Hickory Grove road. This was the beginning of his career as a merchant. He sold goods here for several years before going to Georgetown where he became the largest, and at one time, the most successful merchant.
Frederick Canaday, the second son of Henry Canaday, made a valuable farm just north of Vermilion station where he spent his life. He was the father of four sons and three daughters. His sons, William, Henry, Isaac and John, grew to manhood and settled around him. His daughters who became Mrs. Lawrence, Mrs. Patterson and Mrs. Ankrum, went the one to Kansas, the other to Bethel and the third lived near her father.
William Canaday, the third son of Henry Canaday, married Miss Mary Haworth, in 1831, who was the daughter of William Haworth. They were the parents of ten children. These children settled in different parts of the country, a number of them near their parents' home. Mrs. Mary (Haworth) Canaday died in 1855 and Mr. Canaday married Miss Elizabeth Diament, in 1873, for his second wife.
John Canaday, the youngest son of Henry Canaday, lived all his life on the farm on the state road between Vermilion and Georgetown. He had a good farm and was a prosperous farmer. He was the father of five sons and two daughters. The Canaday family have been strong factors in the development of the county. His family of sons with their families of sons and daughters have made the name one of honor and pride in this section which Henry Canaday found a wilderness.
Benjamin Brooks, the founder of the important settlement called Brooks' Point, came to this part of the county in the fall of 1821. His wife was the daughter of a Mr. Manville, of Madison, Indiana, and they were married in Indiana and came here directly from Jefferson County, of that state. The nativity of Benjamin Brooks is in doubt although there is no question that his wife was born in Indiana.
Had it not been for the generosity of Mr. Canaday, Mr. Brooks would have been in a sad plight. Mr. Brooks had selected his land when he first came to live on the Little Vermilion, and then went back after his family and another man put a claim while he was gone and secured the land. Mr. Canaday had some further up and let Mr. Brooks have it and it was settled so rapidly as to have the point of timber known by the name of Brooks' Point.
George Williams came early in the twenties in company with the Bargers, the Paytons and Thos. Collison, from Pike County, Ohio. His native state was Delaware. George Williams had two sons, Harrison and Abner. Mrs. Williams, the mother of these boys died of milk sickness in 1825 and the boy, Harrison, who was then twelve years old, went to live with Reason Zawley, in the Current neighborhood. An idea of the hardships of life at that time is had in the tale of this boy's going to school in the winter time. The school term was limited to a short time in the winter months, and the boy, without shoes or stockings on his feet found the snow-covered road between his cabin home a dread one to travel. Without shoes he took a hickory board and stood it in front of the fire place until it became as hot as possible without catching fire. With his hot board in his arms he would dash out of the house and run as far as possible through the snow. When he reached the limit of endurance, he would put the board down on the ground, and stand on it for a little while, then snatching it up would run on a little further. In this way he went to school and when he was ready to go home the same thing was done over. In 1834 Harrison Williams married Anna Gish, a native of Virginia who had come west when she was fourteen years old. She came with her parents and settled in LaFayette, Ind. Mr. and Mrs. Williams made Danville their home, owning property at that place. Two years after he was married he bought the lot on the S. E. corner of North and Walnut streets. At this time the lot faced Walnut street and extended east as far as the alley. A deed yet in possession of the family shows that this lot was bought by Harrison Williams in 1836 for $30. The least the inside lots could now be bought for is $150, per foot. This deed of Mr. Williams was never recorded and a number of years later Judge Terry was ordered by the Courts to make out a new deed, Mr. Williams' address at that time being unknown. Harrison Williams was a carpenter by trade and helped build Gurdon Hubbard's store which was the first frame building in Vermilion County. He also helped erect the first Methodist church building. Mr. Hubbard's store was on the Public Square on the corner where the Palmer National Bank now stands. The church building was on the southeast corner of North and Vermilion streets. Harrison Williams moved to LaFayette, Ind., in 1840, and died there in 1851. Abner Williams was a blacksmith and lived in Danville until he went to Scott county on the other side of the state. He was married twice, the first time to a Miss Delay, a cousin of his, and the second wife was a Miss Judd. He owned the lot on the northwest corner of North and Vermilion streets.
Thomas O'Neal, with his wife, Sarah (Howard) O'Neal, came from Nelson County, Kentucky, and settled at Brooks' Point in the fall of 1821. He was anative of Nelson County, while his wife was a native of Indiana. Mr. O'Neal first took up a claim near Brooks' Point, but three years later he entered near the Big Vermilion river. After he moved to the Vermilion river, he established a tanyard and made his own leather from which he made the shoes of the family. He made a leather from which he could make Indian moccasins and which the Indians would get from him. The winter months were spent in making rails with which to fence his land and clearing up the ground, thus adding about ten acres of tillable land to his farm every year. When the Black Hawk war broke out, he saddled his horse and with his gun on his shoulder, went into the service. His oldest son was also in that war. Thomas O'Neal remained in the service as long as the war lasted. When he returned home he again took up the work of improving his farm with renewed determination to make a valuable property, and met great success. He died September, 1861, and his wife died two years later. They were the parents of nine children who have kept the name a well known one through almost a century in Vermilion County.
John Haworth came to the little Vermilion at very nearly the same time as Henry Canaday and they were close friends as long as they lived. The two families have inter-married and had common interests during all the years since their coming. A Mr. Malsby built a cabin near where Vermilion Grove is located, in 1820; however he did not stay but left his cabin and went to some other place, so his claim to citizenship is not valid. John Haworth, as early as 1818, was living in Tennessee, but had become so distressed with the institutions of the south that he could no longer endure life there. He lived in Union County, so he came to the little Vermilion river in the fall of 1820. Here he found the cabin deserted by Malsby and took possession of it and wintered in it. George Bocke, a son-in-law to Achilles Morgan, had a claim on the cabin, but Mr. Haworth bought it. John Haworth's cousin James later cam to Georgetown. John Haworth's neighbors were Henry Johnson and Absolom Starr, off a few miles northwest; Mr. Squires and Thomas Curtis at Yankee Point, three miles east ; John Mills, Simon Cox and Dickson to the west, with Henry Canaday near by.
Mr. Haworth entered several hundred acres of land but he did not do this as a speculation. Indeed he was ready to sell it whenever he could find any one who would make a desirable citizen, and he would sell it cheap and on time if so desired. John Haworth's name has gone into history as a man well being called a Christian gentleman. He was the father of eight children. His uncle, a man of much worth, soon joined this settlement, and, together with Henry Canaday, established the strong Society of Friends in Vermilion County who were so great a factor in its development.
One of the men who made an impress on the affairs of the county was Achilles Morgan, who came to this section in about 1825 or 6. He was accompanied with one at least of his daughters and her husband. They came from Virginiawhere they as a family were great Indian fighters. Mr. Morgan located on section 15 and was from the first recognized as a leading man in affairs of the county. He was one of the first County Commissioners, who, together with John B. Alexander and James Butler, organized and set to going the machinery of Vermilion County. The neighborhood in which he lived was called Morgans and is perhaps the place platted and on record as Morgantown.
Henry Martin came to this section with his father-in-law, Achilles Morgan. After going to Brooks' Point settled near Georgetown at a place afterward called Morgans. Some claim this family went first to Butler's Point and some even say they stopped at the salt works. Henry Martin was born in Maryland in 1786 and moved with his parents to Virginia, where he afterward married Mary Morgan, a daughter of Achilles Morgan. He served one year in the war of 1812 and later moved to Illinois, making permanent settlement in the unorganized territory attached to Edgar County. He enlisted under his father-in-law in 1826 at the time of the Winnebago war and followed the lead of Gurdon Hubbard to protect Fort Dearborn from the Indians of the northwest. Henry Martin lived on the farm near Georgetown until his death, September 5, 1851.
Henry Martin was the father of a large family, one of his sons being a well known preacher. Rawley Martin came with his father from Virginia, a boy of four or five years, who had a life of usefulness in the country of his adoption. He showed wonderful energy and perseverance, for, although there were no schools for him to attend, he acquired a very liberal education. He had a very ambitious mother who was well educated, and through her influence he early became familiar with the contents of all the books possible to obtain, principal among which was the Bible. Indeed, he became so familiar with this book that he could repeat it almost verbatim. He early united with the Christian church, and in time was ordained preacher of this denomination. He continued in this work for more than twenty-five years. During this time he organized many churches in the county, baptized more than three thousand people, doing much to strengthen the cause of his chosen faith. He was a superior teacher of the scriptures, was unyielding and uncompromising in his religious convictions. He was an able and earnest defender of the faith. During the war of the rebellion he publicly denounced the right of secession and upheld the cause of the preservation of the Union. He filled two terms as County Treasurer, the expression of a patriotic people of confidence in the man. Rawley Martin was the father of two children, one of them being Achilles Martin and the other, Mrs. George Dillon.
JAMES HOAG AND SAMUEL MUNNEL.
James Hoag and Samuel Munnel are both known to have lived along the Little Vermilion as early as this time, but little is recorded of them.
Robert Cotton came to this section in the fall of 1822. He was born in the vicinity of Beardstown, Kentucky, and there grew to manhood and married Hannah Howard, who was born in the same place. They were the parents of two children before they left their native state to go to Switzerland County, Indiana. Thence they went to Decatur County in the same state and, once more moving, they came to what is now Vermilion County, Illinois. In many respects both Robert Cotton and his son Henry showed their Puritan ancestry, they being descended from John Cotton of Massachusetts. Robert Cotton lived but two years after coming to this section, dying while yet a young man in 1824. He left seven children. Henry Cotton, the son of Robert Cotton, was the next to the youngest of the children of Robert Cotton. He grew up amid wild scenes of pioneer life. The wild beasts abounded, deer were plentiful, and the wolves howled about the cabin door at night. The education of the Cotton children was had in a log cabin school-house with puncheon floors, the window panes of greased paper and the only means of heating being a long fireplace, across one end of the room. The school term was but a few months in the winter, and the requirements of the teacher were but that he could read, write and cipher. Henry Cotton liked to go to school and when he was twenty-two years old he had acquired enough information to tempt him to, in turn, be teacher. He taught school for two or three years, during the winters. During the time he was teaching school, Henry Cotton was married to a Miss Getty of Pennsylvania. During the summer months Henry Cotton would follow the life of the flatboat man. He made eighteen trips to and from New Orleans in this way. It was upon one of these trips that he met Miss Getty and soon afterward was married. They lived in Vincennes for eight years and then came to Danville township, and was on his way to prosperity. He was working at the carpenter's trade while not on the river. Soon the war of the rebellion broke out, however, and Mr. Cotton enlisted in service, joining the 125th Illinois Infantry. A year later he was obliged to accept an honorable discharge on account of ill health. He left the country for other locations after this and did not return until 1882 when he came to Westville and became a merchant. He made his home here, serving as postmaster three years during the term of office of Pres. Arthur, and was justice of the peace for several years.
Steven Dukes was born in Virginia and his wife, Rachel (Lewis) Dukes, was a native of Tennessee. They came to Brooks' Point in 1822. Brooks' Point was just east of Westville about where Kelleyville is now located. Their eldest son was born at that place January 25, 1828.
Asa Elliott, who was one of the most prominent men of the county in its earliest life, came to Butler's Point to make his new home in 1822. He was one of the second Board of Commissioners of Vermilion County, and was the first justice of the peace. He was a good business man and very successful. His home, at which the court was held just before the county seat was located at Danville, was about a quarter of a mile from the west line of Catlin village. He had a log house at first but built a better one. He lived here all his life andafter his death his son sold the property to Mr. Sandusky and moved to Kansas. Mr. Elliott was buried in the old Butler burying ground.
John Mills came to this part of Illinois in 1822, bringing his family with him. He settled in the northwest quarter of section 23, range 12, township 17, after a journey attended with many difficulties. He was a native of North Carolina and moved to Ross Creek, East Tennessee, before the war of 1812. He was one of the men who belonged to the Society of Friends in Tennessee and left to get away from the institution of the South which was very objectionable to him. Henry Canaday and John Haworth had both preceeded him. He came in company with George Haworth. Along their route there were various swamps, and when four or five miles south of Quaker Point, their destination, they found themselves unable to go further. There were a half dozen girls in the party of neighbors who had made the trip together, and they started off on foot. Taking the teams from the wagons, which they abandoned, for the present at least, the men, women and little children came on as best they might. If the way was too difficult for the horses to draw the wagons, it could not be in very good condition for walking. They reached John Haworth's by dark, however, very glad to find their journey at an end, since he lived near Quaker Point just within the limits of present day Vermilion County. Later, the travelers managed to get their wagons free of the deep mud and taken on their way. John Mills settled among the Indians and wild animals and entered four and one- fourth sections of land, where he put up a round log cabin, with a puncheon floor, a great fireplace in one end of the room, with a stick and clay chimney outside and a clapboard roof. The house contained only one room but there was a loft where the boys slept. The nearest trading point was Terre Haute, and the pioneers went to mill on Sugar Creek, in Parke County, Indiana, with ox teams. Deer were numerous, the settlers being able to kill them almost from their door. The wolves made night dismal with their howling, and the chickens, pigs and sheep, had to be securely housed in order to save them. The woods were full of bee trees and there was an abundance of wild fruit. This section of the country was almost literally a "land flowing with milk and honey," but there was much sickness. The death of Hannah Mills was the first one in the neighborhood. She died in the summer of 1823, and her remains were the first to be buried in what is now Vermilion Grove Cemetery. Mr. James Haworth, who accompanied John Mills to Illinois and settled near him, was the father of eleven children, most of whom lived to maturity and did their part in molding the affairs of Vermilion County.
(Written by R. D. McDonald.)
Alexander McDonald, a pioneer of Vermilion County, Illinois, was a native of Tennessee, where he was born in 1796. He, in company with John B. Alexander and his family, one of whom he had married, came to Illinois in the year1820. He located near Paris, where he remained two years, and in 1822 he moved to the Little Vermilion timber, and made a farm about three miles west of where Georgetown now is. His neighbors were mostly Indians, bears, panthers, wild cats, and other wild creatures, of which the woods were full. Among the earliest recollections of the writer of this sketch are accounts of the child-like cryihg of panthers, told by the first settlers in this wilderness. There was no Georgetown, no Vermilion County, no Danville, no Chicago, then. It is hard for a citizen of Vermilion County, of sixty years of age, to believe that only a few years before his birth, Illinois was such a wilderness. Such it was for many years after Alexander McDonald commenced making his farm. At that time Edgar County reached almost to the northern border of the state. In 1826, the land attached to Edgar County on the north was made into a new county, and named Vermilion. The south part of the state was settled first and mostly by people from the southern states. On his farm on the border of civilization, Mr. McDonald lived with his wife, Catherine Alexander McDonald, who came into this world in the year 1800, and on it they raised ten children, six daughters and four sons, all of such character that their acquaintances were glad to point to them as their friends. Mr. McDonald was justice of the peace, whether by appointment or by election, I do not know. He was also postmaster. The duties of both offices were performed at his residence. The first Cumberland Presbyterian church in the county, was organized at his home and in it, the congregation held all services for a long time, and, until a meeting house was built on his land. He was an elder in the church until his death in 1861.
Uncle Alex McDonald was an old fashioned Democrat. Accepting the principles of the Declaration of Independence as to the inalienable rights of men in their true spirit, he could not remain contented in a slave state. He was among the first insurgents in the Democratic party, when it attempted to extend slavery. He claimed no advantage of birth, condition or position. The passport to his confidence was merit. He had sympathy and hospitality for all. I lived, when a boy, in his house for some time. I never saw, or heard of an applicant for a meal or a night's lodging, being turned away. All were supplied without money and without price. I can truly apply the following lines to him :
"A man he was to all the country dear,
Remote from towns he ran his godly race
Unskillful he, to fawn or seek for power
Far other aims his heart had learned to prize.
More bent to raise the wretched than to rise
His house was known to all the vagrant train,
He chid their wanderings, but relieved their pain.
The ruined spendthrift now no longer proud,
Claimed kindred there and had his claim allowed."
The wives of the pioneers deserve equal honors with their husbands, if not greater. They endured, and shared all the hardships incident to a new country and suffered its privations and by their womanly nature softened the manners of the people. Catherine, wife of Alexander McDonald, when scarcely more thana young girl, left society and many cultured friends among whom she was raised, and came into the wilderness where she endured privations unknown to women of this year 1910. She was a helpmeet, indeed. With no servant, she, with handspinning wheel, hand loom, scissors, and needle made all the clothing for the family, and over, and around an open fire, she cooked the food they and their guests ate. I can truthfully say that Aunt Catherine never spoke a cross \Vord to, nor a complaining word of, any person. I feel sure that of her, as Jesus said of little children, could be said, "of such is the kingdom of heaven." She lived to be eighty-one years old and died in Danville in the home of her son, Milton, and was buried by the side of her husband in the Weaver graveyard, about one mile south of the house where they raised their family.
John LeNeve, a young man of twenty, came to what is now Newell township in 1823. His birthplace was Tennessee, whence he came with his parents to Illinois when he was but a lad and they settled in what is now Lawrence County, on the Ellison Prairie directly west of Vincennes. He had a brother, Obadiah, who in 1822 took a journey into the newer country looking for a location. This journey took Obadiah LeNeve from Vincennes to St. Louis, and thence into northeast Missouri, and on his homeward trip through a circuit in northern Illinois. Coming into the section now Newell township of Vermilion County, he took a great fancy to the country and decided upon locating there. Before he left the favored place he took the numbers of the following tracts : W. one-half N. W., one-fourth sec. 23, and E. one-half N. E., one-fourth section 24, town 20 N., range u W., 3rd principal meridian, and after going home there was a sale of land when he bought this particularly desired part. Just before Christmas the two brothers took their belongings, such as would be needed in a new country, as provisions and bedding, and set off for their new home. A third person accompanied them to take the team back. On reaching their destination they cut a few rails and laid up a square, chinking and filling the spaces with pulled grass, and covering one-half of the rude structure with puncheons. The Indians were very friendly and proved themselves honest and, on the whole, not bad neighbors. When they were about at the time the new white settlers were eating, the Indianswere invited to share their meal which they did and showed themselves friendly and inclined to treat the newcomers with all kindness. These two brothers spent the winter splitting rails until, when in February they began making prepar- tion for their return to arrange a permanent removal to this section. They used some of their rails to build a cabin for Ben Butterfield who expected to arrive toward the last of February. He came, as was expected, and the LeNeves went back, to return later, prepared to make a permanent settlement. John LeNeve married Rebecca Newell, the daughter of the man who was the leader of affairs in that part of the county as long as he lived. Rebecca Newell came with her father from Harrison County, Kentucky, not long after the LeNeves had made this settlement in this particular section.
John LeNeve, it is said, had a limited amount of money, in exact figures being one hundred and thirteen dollars and fifty cents ($113.50) and he invested $100 of it in timber and prairie land at one dollar and a quarter an acre leaving him thirteen dollars and fifty cents with which to begin farming. But he could count among his assets a pair of good strong arms and a willing heart to work, so his success was assured. From this modest beginning Mr. LeNeve became a land owner of pretention, and his farm is yet a landmark testifying to his thrift, and industry.
His brother, Obadiah LeNeve, was a man particularly remembered as one of charity and public spirit. He was always kind to the widow and orphan and seemed to feel a responsibility to share with those less well off than he. He never butchered without killing more than enough for himself, so as to give to those not able to buy meat. He was always ready to help any one in distress and was widely known and universally loved. He was born in 1799 and diedin 1884. John LeNeve lived on the old homestead all his life and died there. His wife also spent her last days in her own home and died and was buried from the old homestead.
William McDowell came to the Little Vermilion in the year 1823 with his four grown sons and two married daughters. He came from Kentucky and settled south of the creek. His sons were John, Archie, James and William, and they were all very much in need of this world's goods. They had come to this new country to try to make a new home under better conditions. The seven years previous to his coming had been spent in Palestine in poverty, but the children were old enough to help in the family and all had concluded to spend the $100 which they had managed to save up that would be enough to enter eighty acres of land. So the eighty acres of land was entered in sections 35 and 36, range 13, and they came here to live with little else other than the strength of the father's hands and the courage of the not overstrong sons. When McDowell arrived at this new home, he built his cabin on a piece of land adjoining what he had bought, thinking he would buy this other piece as soon as possible. One day he learned that another man, Peter Summe, had gone to Palestine to enter that same piece of land. He had not a dollar but he determined if possible to prevent that and to save the land. He started on horseback to ride to Palestine, and spared neither the horse nor himself. Riding all night he reached there before business hours and went directly to the house of the register, who was a friend of his, and told him the trouble. The register, to help him out, made the papers out trusting him for sixty days. This act would have cost him his place had it been known, because Peter Summe was there with the gold in his hand. McDowell came back happy, but it cost him dearly, since the worry over getting the hundred dollars inside of the two months (he had to sell some of his land to do this) threw him into a fever from which he died. Several members of his family died at about the same time. The death of his father compelled John McDowell to care for the family and work out his fortune as best he could. He had no money, but he was plucky and worked for whomever needed him, for whatever wage he could get, a!i the time determined to win out, which he did. A few years later he split rails to pay for the land he lived on and, in time, he bought and paid for eleven hundred and fifty acres of land, the most of which he gave to his children, living all the remainder of his life on the land which his father made that night's ride to Palestine to buy on credit.
Aaron Mendenhall was born in Guilford, North Carolina, near the scene of the battle of the Guilford Court House. Soon after the opening of the Ohio Territory, his father brought the family to this new territory and was killed while on his way, by Indians. At this time Aaron Mendenhall was a small child. He grew to manhood in Ohio and in 1824 he, with his family, following in the footsteps of his father, started for a new country. They came to the Little Vermilion and entered two hundred and forty acres of land which is now in the farm of Silas Baird. This land was entered while yet Illinois was a wilderness, at least excepting in certain localities in the southern part. Like other pioneers this family endured hardships and privations incident to such a life. They were, however, brave and stout hearted and made successful battle in subduing the wild land and making it blossom. Thrifty and industrious, they taught their children to work and developed them physically and morally at the same time. Politically, Mr. Mendenhall was, as his son said, "a whig, morning, noon and afternoon," as long as that party was in power. He looked upon Henry Clay as one of America's greatest statesmen, and so taught his children to do. Later they were as staunch Republicans. His children who lived to maturity lived about him, and in this neighborhood of friends were most consistent members of that society.
Cyrus Douglas was one of the few early citizens of Vermilion County who was a native of any place above the Mason and Dixon line. Mr. Douglas was born in Vermont and came to Butler's Point in 1824. Whether he was an old friend of James Butler there is no record nor if he even knew Mr. Butler previous to his coming to this place. The fact that they came from the same state when so few people from that part of the country were drawn to this section, is suggestive, but may have been but a coincidence.
Mr. Douglas was a hatter by trade in New York and brought material with him in emigrating to the west to engage in business in St. Louis. He remained there for a time and then went to Brown County, Indiana. He remained in Indiana for a short time when the report of the promising conditions on the Wabash reached him and he went to Eugene entering some land near there east of Georgetown. The grant to this land was signed by President Monroe. After a while he moved to Butler's Point and it was while he was there that he was married, being the first or perhaps it were better to say, second man married within this section, later known as Vermilion County.
Robert Dickson was a native of Maryland, born December 16, 1765, and moved to Kentucky, where he was married in Mason County to Phebe Means. Some time after their marriage they settled in Lewis County, but later decided to try a new country and came to Illinois in 1824, settling in the southern part of that which was to be Vermilion County. Mrs. Dickson died that year at the age of forty-eight. Mr. Dickson survived her but three years when he died from typhus fever. Politically Mr. Dickson was a Democrat, and as well as his wife, he was a staunch Presbyterian. David Dickson was the sixth son of Mr. Robert Dickson, and came from Kentucky with his parents when he was almost a man grown, he having been born December 13, 1806. When his father died three years later he was at his majority and took a man's part. He bore his part in the development of the county and well deserves to be reckoned among the makers of Vermilion County. His life was one of sobriety and his temperate habits showed in his honorable old age. He was the pioneer stockman and feeder and in all his intercourse with his fellowmen he always had their confidence and esteem. The oldest son of Robert Dickson was a boat builder and when they decided to leave Kentucky he and David built a flat- boat and their father bought a keel boat, and they loaded their stock, farming utensils and household goods, together with the family, on these boats, and set sail on the Ohio river for the "promise land."
At Louisville, however, they were obliged to abandon their boats and unloading the stock, which consisted of oxen, horses and cows, and make their way overland to their destination. The two boys who had built the boat, and another older brother, pushed the keelboat up the Wabash river and unloaded its contents a little way above Newport, Indiana, at Coleman's Prairie, thence they hauled their property to their destination, which was the land their father had entered from the government when he came the year before. When David Dickson was twenty-three years old he married Miss Margaret Waters, who had but a year previous to this time come with her father from Bourbon County, Kentucky. Mr. Dickson loved to describe this section as it looked to him when he first saw it. It was, according to his description, exceedingly beautiful, diversified with prairie and timber, the meadows and marshes thriving with a luxuriant growth of prairie grass and wild flowers. Wild animals of many kinds abounded, while poisonous reptiles, the rattlesnake, blue racer, black and garter snake, kept the traveler on the close lookout. There were also great quantities of wild birds, geese, ducks and pheasants, besides turkeys and pigeons. The people of that time and place were noted for their hospitality, and the community of interest which led them at all times to be regardful of each other's welfare. After the death of Robert Dickson each of the boys started out for himself. While all were bright and energetic, David was, perhaps, most successful. He began entering land and in time found himself the owner of 1,400 acres which he had to a large extent put into a good state of cultivation. Much of this land was obtained on a Mexican warrant. Before he was married he worked at one time at the salt works. He walked to Fort Clark (now Peoria) in 1827, just after his father died on his way to Galena to work in the lead mines. He carried his clothes and provisions in a knapsack. There he had the vessel which was fired upon by the Winnebago Indians pointed out to him. He worked for a while in the mines at New Diggings and became acquainted with the founderof Fort Gratiot. In the fall of the year he worked his way down the Mississippi river to St. Louis on a keel boat, then purchased a pony and rode home. Mr. Dickson made his first trip to the little town of Chicago in 1832, taking a load of produce drawn by oxen. Later he began feeding cattle and was the first man to engage in this industry on the Little Vermilion river. In 1844 he drove 100 head of hogs to Chicago and in the years immediately following, he shipped several herds in this way to Philadelphia and New York City. Mr. Dickson was a Democrat in his political faith all his life.
John Snider, with his wife and three small children, came from Ohio on horseback to what is now Blount township of Vermilion County, in 1824, and built his home in the forest. He entered a quarter section of land and built a log house. The Indians made sugar and held their meetings near the cabin of John Snider. It was a strange place to try to build a home ; the entire country was full of sloughs and ponds. However, John Snider lived to see a great change in the country. He helped fell the trees and clear the land and assisted in organizing the township. A debt of gratitude is surely laid on this generation to him and others like him who have been pioneers in the development of Vermilion County. John Snider was born in 1797, and died November 12, 1849. His wife, who was the daughter of Charles Blount, the man for whom the township was named, survived her husband for several years, she living until in the seventies.
DR. ASA PALMER.
Dr. Asa Palmer was a native of Connecticut, who was born at Coventry in 1786. He became a resident of Vermont in his boyhood days, and later lived in the Black River country of New York. Subsequently he became a resident of Moscow, where both his parents died. While living in New York state, Dr. Palmer studied medicine and practiced a little. He was married while living in New York state. He made a trip to the west in search of a location, and came here to live in 1824. His first trip was made on horseback, but when he came to locate, the journey was made by boat, going first to Pittsburg and then down the Ohio river and up the Wabash river. His destination was the Vermilion river country but at that time there was no Danville to attract him, not even so small a settlement at this place. Dr. Palmer began his practice in this section and for many miles around the settlements from the Little Vermilion to those north and west of the mouth of the North Fork of the Vermilion River, he rode in his practice. After Danville became the county seat, his home was there and his practice was over a broad territory from that point. Eventually he gave up the practice of medicine and lived retired. In connection with his son he established the first drug store in Danville. He was a leading and influential citizen of this section from the time he came in 1824 to his death in 1861. Dr. Palmer was married three times, his third wife being Adelia Hawkins and one of the honored pioneers of Vermilion County. Dr. Palmer was one of the original members ofthe Presbyterian church in Danville. He was the father of thirteen children by his first wife and two by his second wife.
Hezekiah Cunningham, who was a prominent citizen of Danville at an early day, was born in Virginia, whence he came in 1819. He was accompanied by his mother and with them were the Murphy family. They came in wagons, it taking them seven weeks to make their trip to the North Arm in Douglas county. At that time there were but ten families in that part of the country. In 1825 Mr. Cunningham came to Vermilion County, following Mr. J. B. Alexander, and married his daughter, Mary. Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham were the parents of five children, two of whom grew to manhood and womanhood. These were Mr. W. T. Cunningham, who was well and favorably known and the daughter, who became the wife of Judge O. L. Davis. In 1828 Mr. Cunningham moved to Danville where he lived the remainder of his life. While a resident of Danville he was interested in all affairs for the advancement of the town. His name is written frequently in the history of the county. He built the storehouse which had a hall in the upper story where meetings of all kinds were held. He was a merchant for many years. Mr. Cunningham, together with his brother-in-law, Mr. J. H. Murphy, were men of public spirit and to them there is much of the prosperity of Danville in its growing years due.
Mr. Eli Henderson came to the country about the Little Vermilion in 1824 and brought his son, Elam, a boy of about fourteen, with him. Mr. Eli Henderson lived in this community until his death in 1833. Soon after the death of his father, Elam Henderson married Mary Golden and they moved to Georgetown township, where they accumulated a large property.
Mr. Henderson was elected to the office of County Commissioner in 1836. After filling this office three years, he was elected associate justice. He kept this office about nine years or until the county went under township organization. Mr. Henderson became a merchant in 1853 and continued in that business for more than twenty years. With the exception of two years he was supervisor of his township from 1857 to 1873. Mr. Henderson was an old line whig up to the dissolution of that party after which he was a staunch republican. He was connected with the Society of Friends, as was his father before him.
JOHN BROWN ALEXANDER.
It was while yet the present United States were the colonies of Great Britain that a ship crossed the Atlantic, having on board a man who was to be a strong factor in the making of Illinois. This man was John B. Alexander. On board the same vessel was another young man who, too was seeking a home beyond the sea whose posterity was destined to be a conspicuous part of the history of this section. Beside these two men there was a family whose acquaintance they madeon the passage. The family consisted of at least two daughters and a son of a Scotchman by the name of King. The acquaintance which might have been of longer standing than the weeks on shipboard, and might not, ripened into ardent affection on the part of young Alexander and McDonald toward the daughters of Mr. King. The result of this or rather these romances was that both the young men, Alexander and McDonald, married his daughters. Mr. King and both John B. Alexander and Donald McDonald, located in Tennessee and there remained for some time.
In due course of time, Donald McDonald's son, Alexander McDonald, together with J. B. Alexander's son, came to the then new state of Illinois. Since the wife of Alexander McDonald, was Catherine Alexander (the daughter of Mr. Alexander) and his son as well were seeking homes in the new country, the father came with them. Mr. McDonald and his wife came on to the attached part of Edgar County, soon after reaching Illinois, and located in the neighborhood of the Little Vermilion, but Mr. Alexander and his son located in Edgar County, at Paris. There they remained until the new county of Vermilion was formed when Mr. Alexander came to that territory and had much to do in putting the machinery of the new county in working order.
Mr. Alexander was a man particularly fitted to do this work, and it is a fortunate thing that he was willing to cast his lot with the fortunes of the new county. He was the first commissioner and it was through his influence doubtless that Amos Williams was brought here from Edgar County. Mr. Alexander did not come into this wilderness without a sacrifice. His was of a nature that could find expression in intercourse with men. He was a well read man and could give as well as find pleasure among men of letters. His library was a wonder, and his manners were far from those of the pioneer. A memory of his granddaughter that she cherishes with fondness is, when she was a girl of perhaps nine he took the trouble to take into his private room and unlocking the desk, unwrapped a book which he showed her, telling her that it was the first book he procured for her father, Gen. M. R. Alexander. Then he carefully wrapped it up and put it away in the desk which he locked. Mrs. McMillen, his granddaughter, goes on to say, Grandfather told me of his young manhood, he was but a boy when he saw his future wife on ship board, near Charlotte, N. C. How on one occasion riding through the British camp on his way with a sack of corn on his horse going to mill to have it ground. He also told me what an exciting time they had when the whole community assembled in Charlotte to sign and ratify the Declaration of Independence in May, 1775. I said, "Grandpa, were you a democrat then?" Throwing his hands on his breast he said, "Politics, we had no politics, we were patriots." This answer and earnestness impressed me greatly. I thought he was the grandest man I ever had seen.
William Trimbell came to Vermilion County in 1826, riding on horseback. He was accompanied by his wife who also rode her horse all the way from Kentucky to this county. He was one of the first settlers in what is now Pilot township. He came direct from Kentucky but was born and raised in New Orleans. He made money in feeding cattle and became possessed of land of value. Mrs. Trimbell long kept the dress she wore on her trip into this county and showed it to her children and grandchildren. It was made of some wool goods which she had spun and woven herself and had dyed a blue color. Mr. and Mrs. Trimbell were the parents of nine children all but two of whom grew to maturity, and had families of their own. Of these children William, the eldest, was the only one not born in this county. Elizabeth became the wife of John Vinson, Sarah became the wife of Gentry Williams, Marybecame the wife of George Brown and Harvey Piper married Rebecca, the youngest. John Trimbell married Clara Meade, the daughter of Nathaniel Meade, William Trimbell, Jr., married Zella Outan and Paris Trimbell married a Miss Cook. When William Trimbell took the lone ride from Kentucky, with his wife, who carried their boy on the horse with her the country was rough and unsettled. He entered land, as did all the early settlers near a stream and did not dare go outside the timber to build his house, but stuck to the timber and put the prairie to the apparent natural use as grazing ground for the cattle which brought him great wealth. When his daughter married he gave her a farm on the prairie that her husband could care for the stock.
Amos Williams, one of the most prominent among the makers of Vermilion County, was born in Franklin county, Pennsylvania, June 15, 1796. He came to Illinois in After going to ________he settled in Paris where he was clerk of the court and surveyor. It was Amos Williams who surveyed Paris and platted it. When in 1825, the newly organized county of Vermilion was in need of a man to act as clerk, J. B,' Alexander was one of the commissioners and much depended upon him to set the machinery going. He knew the ability of this young man and at once took steps to secure his services for Vermilion county. Mr. Alexander had, until quite recently, lived in Paris where his son, at that time, was in business, but his sons-in-law had lived in this part of the attached territory to Edgar County and he had kept in touch with the needs of the territory. He knew not only that it would be a hard matter to get as good a clerk as Amos Williams made, but that there was not the material for such use in this section. The commissioners sent for Mr. Williams to change his residence. Amos Williams consented, and there is a letter in the possession of one of his grandsons written to his mother just before he left Paris, which shows with what serious thought he contemplated the change of location. He also states that he had just married the daughter of Judge Shaw, of Paris. The other daughter of Judge Shaw became the wife of Dan Beckwith, afterward. Mr. Williams, located at Butler's Point, that being the place where the Vermilion County Court was held until a county seat was located. Amos Williams became an active citizen of the county from the first. He assisted in surveying the county, locating the county seat and he built the first house in Danville. He was both clerk of the circuit court and judge of the probate. He was appointed the first postmaster of Danville and also Notary Public. He held all these offices without interruption from the organization of the county until 1843, and some of them, until 1849 — a period of twenty-three years. So faithful was he in his servicethat many thought there was no other man in the county qualified to do his work. The records need but to be seen to show his proficiency as a scribe. Amos Williams was anxious for all measures which promised the betterment of Vermilion. County. He was most active in advancing education in the county and particularly in Danville. For many years he personally owned the only schoolhouse in Danville, which he had built for that purpose. This building was opened to the use of all denominations as a place of public worship, also for public speaking,lyceums, and all entertainments of an educational or instructive character, and always without charge. Although in public office for so long a time, there was never a charge of incompetency or questionable business methods made. He died November 15, 1857, and was buried in the Williams burying ground. When this burying ground was sold to the city that a street might be extended further east, his remains were removed to Spring Hill Cemetery.
Levi Babb was born in Green County, Tenn., Dec. 26, 1788. He came to Vermilion County, in October, 1826, and stopped near Yankee Point for a short time. In December of the same year he located on section 14, range ?, Elwood township. He remained there about three years and a half, entering the west half of the southeast quarter of the section named, where he built the house which not only served him but his son after him for a home. During the time of his early residence in Vermilion County, Mr. Babb entered in all about six hundred acres of land. The Indians had their camping ground about the house he built. There has been much evidence of this particular place being the scene of an Indian battle in the long ago by the many flint arrow heads found on the grounds. There was even a stone axe discovered there at one time. In the early days of his first coming Levi Babb was obliged to go to Raccoon and Sugar creeks to mill. He endured many hardships and privations as did all the pioneers. He came from Tennessee in a five horse wagon, riding a distance of six hundred and fifty miles. He became a fluent speaker of the language of the native Indian and taught the son of the chief to plow, and in many ways endeared himself to them, and made them his friend forever. He was a tireless worker and in every thing that pertained to his farm he spared no pains to procure the best. He would haul his produce to Chicago and return with salt and groceries. He was offered forty acres of land where Chicago now stands for a yoke of oxen, but he thought the land would never be of any account and so refused the wonderful bargain. Mr. Babb was married twice and was the father of thirteen children. He died March 23, 1872. His first wife was Susannah Dillon, and his second wife who survived him less than a year, was the daughter of Alexander Prevo, a pioneer of Fountain County, Indiana.
William Watson was a native of Nelson County, Kentucky, and he went from there to Harrison County, Indiana, thence to Vermilion County, Illinois, in 1826. He bought land and developed a farm, at least was doing what hecould, when three years later he died. His son John was not much more than a boy, but boys grew up quickly in those days of responsibility, and John Watson was the same as other boys and early took a man's part. He served in the Black Hawk war and shared all the privation of a pioneer's life. His capital of determination and a pair of good strong arms and willing hands was worth more than money would have been at that time. He entered and bought land until he owned about a thousand acres. His home was about five miles northeast of Danville. He remained on his farm until, in 1873, when at the age of sixty-three, he bought residence property in Danville and made that his home for twenty-five years.
Michael Weaver was born in Washington County, Maryland. His father died while yet he was a lad and his. mother took him to North Carolina, but he ran away from home with a cattle drover's outfit and he returned to Maryland where his older brothers yet were. From that time he made his way in the world. When he became a man he married Elizabeth Specard of Hagerstown, and about a year later they moved to Pennsylvania. They later made their way down the Ohio to Kentucky where Mr. Weaver bought a farm and they lived here for three years when they crossed the river into Clermont County, Ohio, and soon afterward went to Brown County in the same state. He remained on that farm for ten years when he put his wife and ten children in a big covered wagon and well supplied with provision and all needed for a new home, they started for Sugar Creek, Indiana. He did not like this location when he reached it, however, and so went on beyond to Vermilion County, Illinois. He settled in what is now Carroll township and entered land which he proceeded to improve. He had to go to Palestine to enter the land. The Weaver family found a cabin which someone else had built, which had two rooms and a kitchen built on. This they made do until they could get something better.
A part of Mr. Weaver's family was his son-in-law and his family. They arrived here November 12, 1828. Mr. Weaver was a man of a high sense of honor and justice. He would never accept more than six per cent interest for money loaned, nor would charge or take more than twenty-five cents for a bushel of corn. He declared that was all it cost to raise it. He was very benevolent and always had his house open for any one. Nothing pleased him more than to help those who tried to help themselves. Mr. Weaver lived to be more than one hundred years old and in his old age he was a man of great wealth. He was the father of seven children who married into the families of the prominent settlers and settled in the neighborhood so that many in that part of the county are direct descendants.
Abel Williams came into this county in 1826, bringing his wife and four children. They came from Tennessee, his father having gone there from North Carolina. He and his wife were both members of the Methodist Episcopalchurch and when he came here the first thing he did was to build a place of worship. He did it without help from any one until it was almost completed. It was the first house of worship ever built in Carroll township. It was built about a mile southwest of Indianola, and was the center of Methodism for many years and several counties. Mr. Williams was the first advocate of "total abstinence" in Vermilion County. When he first came there was not a man but who drank more or less intoxicating liquor. The church members were no exception. When Abel Williams began to advocate "teetotalism," as it was called, he made many enemies as may be supposed. He lived, however, to see intemperance discounted in the church and public sentiment banish it from the best society. Abel Williams was the second justice of the peace and held the office twelve years. It was well known that he would not issue papers for law suits until he had exhausted every means of other settlement. His decisions were always sustained by the higher courts. Abel Williams came of Quaker stock.
SAMUEL GILBERT AND SONS, AND SOLOMON GILBERT.
The family of Gilberts are well considered together, since all of them were more or less great factors in the making of Vermilion County. Samuel Gilbert, with his family, consisting of his wife and three sons, Alvan, James and Elias, came to Vermilion County from Ontario County, New York, in 1826. They had really come west the previous year but stopped in Crawford County until this time. When they came to Vermilion County they settled two miles south of Danville. There was, at that time, no town in the county containing more than fifty white families. The nearest mall was at Eugene. The great need of this section was a mill and in 1831, Mr. Solomon Gilbert, the brother of Samuel came from the east and put up one at near the mouth of the North Fork of the Big Vermilion. Another brother, Jesse, established a ferry across the Vermilion river, a much needed improvement.
Mr. Samuel Gilbert lived in Danville until 1839, when he went to Ross township and there was made the first justice of the peace. He was also the first postmaster, serving in this office for twenty years. He held the office of justice for ten years. Mr. Gilbert's wife died the year he moved from Danville, and was buried in the Williams' burying ground. Mr. Gilbert afterward married Mrs. Elizabeth (Dougherty) Ferrier, the daughter of one of the early settlers of Vance township. Mr. Samuel Gilbert lived to be seventy-two years old. He died and was buried in the Williams' burying ground.
Alvan Gilbert, the oldest son of Samuel Gilbert, was fifteen years old when he came to Vermilion County. He spent the first years after coming here in the work provided by the many interests of his father and uncles. In 1831 he married Miss Matilda Horr and the following year he went with his father to Ross township, where his father-in-law owned land. Mr. Gilbert bought a small farm of his father-in-law which he afterward enlarged to 240 acres. This farm he afterward sold to his father and brother James, and bought another farm of his uncle Solomon. This later farm included the northern limits of Rossville. He lived her about three years when he again sold and bought another farm of Mr. Leggitt which included a part of the southern limits of Rossville. He traded extensively in real estate and personal property, and it has been claimed that during his life he had more deeds recorded than any other man in the county. Mr. Gilbert's first wife died in 1840, leaving two daughters, one of whom afterward married George C. Dickson and the other became the wife of Frederick Grooms. Mr. Alvan Gilbert served as Supervisor of his township for many years, being president of the Board for a part of the time. Upon the adoption of the township organization he was one of the three commissioners appointed to divide the county into townships. He was also one of the three commissioners appointed to divide the swamp lands between this county and Ford, when Vermilion lost that territory. Mr. Gilbert and Mr. Lamm represented the old county and Judge Patton, the new one. He had Judge (Guy) Merrill and John Canaday as associates in the act of making the division of the county into townships. The three who divided the swamp lands were about three months in making the division. Mr. Alvan Gilbert's second wife was Nancy (Horr) Elzy.
Samuel Baum came to Vermilion County at the same time as his father-in- law, Michael Weaver, and settled on the Little Vermilion. His brother Charles came nine years later and together they became the founders of the family of that name of whom there have been many in Vermilion County. Samuel married Sarah, the daughter of Michael Weaver, while they were in Ohio and had a family of two children when he came west. After coming to Illinois there were six more children born to them. Sarah (Weaver) Baum died and Samuel Baum married Mrs. Polly Matkins, the widow of William Matkins, and they became the parents of four children. Samuel Baum was a large, powerful man, six feet one inch in height, and weighed three hundred pounds. He was jovial and good hearted, always a good tempered man. He took the first produce he raised in Vermilion County to Chicago, driving five yoke of oxen. His sole possession when he came to Illinois was a horse, a bridle and a saddle, and at the time of his death in 1861 he was the owner of 1,500 acres of well cultivated land, besides personal property. He belonged to the Republican party and died at the age of fifty-six. His brother, Charles Baum, who came to this county some years after took up 1 60 acres of land from the government, and made later purchases until, at one time, he owned 1,660 acres, besides the 200 acres that was the gift to his wife from her father. Charles Baum was married three years after coming to Vermilion County to Miss Catherine Weaver, who was the fourth daughter and sixth child of Michael Weaver. Mrs. Baum was born in Clermont County, Ohio, and came to Illinois at the same time as her father, she being but eight years old at the time. Mr. Baum lived on his home farm which his wife's father gave her.
John Larrance was a native of North Carolina, but he came to the Little Vermilion directly from Tennessee in 1827. He had his choice of almost the whole of Vermilion County at that time and he made a good one. He entered 240 acres of land, paying the government price, and thereon built a cabin made of roundlogs. It had but one room and was not at all luxurious. The floor was logs split in two with the flat side up, a clapboard roof and doors of the same material. They lived happily for one year in this house and were determined to make a comfortable home of it in spite of inconveniences. For nine years Mr. Larrance's wife cooked all the meals on the fireplace, using a long handled skillet and a brick bake oven. At the end of that time he went to Chicago for some purpose and brought back a cook stove. This was the first one in the neighborhood, and was a great curiosity. The maiden name of Mrs. Larrance was Ruth Mills, she being the daughter of John Mills. She was the mother of nine children. Mr. Larrance's oldest son was nearly ten years old when they came from Tennessee, and he soon grew to take his place in the affairs of the county. His education in books was had in the old school-house with greased paper for windows, stick and clay chimney, slab benches and wall desks, of the pioneer days of Illinois. The school course was limited to two or three months in the winter. Moses Larrance married Nancy, the daughter of Aaron Mendenhall. Mr. Mendenhall had been living in this part of Vermilion County for three years when Mr. Larrance came from the same place in Tennessee. Mr. Mendenhall owned the same farm that Silas Baird later purchased. Mr. Moses Larrance was the father of thirteen children, who have married among the children of the early settlers until they are related to many. He and his household have, as had his father before him, been strong supporters of the Society of Friends.
William Current came to Vermilion County in 1827 and settled five miles northeast of Danville in Newell township. He was a man of twenty-four and his wife, hardly more than a girl, being but twenty, yet having been married five or six years. They came from Pennsylvania and endured the common trials of pioneer life. Mr. Current secured a good tract of land and built up a fine homestead. The family came in time to experience the suffering of the winter of the deep snow. Mr. Current volunteered in the Black Hawk war and served until discharged with the other troops. William Current was the father of thirteen children and died in 1851 at the comparative early age of forty-three. His wife survived him, remaining a widow for thirty-three years. She died in 1884.
Andrew Patterson brought his family to Vermilion County in 1827 from East Tennessee. He was a native of Granger County, East Tennessee, as was also his son William who was at that time three years old. Andrew Patterson settled his family at Yankee Point among Indians and wild animals. Like all the pioneers they settled in the timber, thinking the prairie could never be used for anything but grazing. William Golden, the father-in-law of Andrew Patterson, had come to the Little Vermilion country three years before this date and located at Yankee Point Mr. Golden later had the distinction of having the first frame house in the neighborhood. It was not only a frame house, but it was painted. His grandson, theson of Mr. Patterson, tells about this house which he recalls distinctly. It was two rooms long and one room deep, and painted red. Mr. Golden's half brother, Tom Whitlock, painted it, using a brush as any one would do today. There is no doubt the strongest ties were between William Golden and his daughter .Amelia, who became the wife of Andrew Patterson, and followed her father to Illinois. Her oldest son was named William and her youngest one was named Golden, both bearing the name of her father. Andrew Patterson was the father of six children. William Patterson, the oldest son of Andrew Patterson, grew up in Elwood township and married the daughter of Eli Patty, in 1853. He was born February 22, 1824, in Granger County, East Tennessee. Mr. and Mrs. Patterson are the parents of seven children of whom four are yet living. Mr. Patterson has been a resident of Elwood township ever since 1827, with the exception of a few years shortly after his marriage, when he improved a fine farm at Broadlands in the southwestern part of Champaign County.
Samuel Copeland was among the first, if not the very first, settlers of Blount township. He came to Vermilion County in 1827. The family made the journey from Ohio in a keelboat down the Ohio river and up the Wabash river to Perrysville, Indiana. Mr. Copeland made the boat himself and brought not only the household goods but also a boat load of salt. Out of the sale of the salt he made his start in the new life. He sold the salt at Perrysville and hired a man to haul his household goods and family seven miles northwest of Danville, where he entered eighty acres of land, part timber and part prairie. His first house was made by laying one pole from one tree to another about ten feet apart on a fork in either tree, against which poles and rails were leaned on each side for a roof. In that tent they lived until they could build a log house. He had brought a load of planks with him from Ohio. These planks he put on the ground for a floor and bed and began hewing rails. As soon as he could get enough rails he sent word to the State Line for help to raise the house. Such a labor always took the entire neighborhood and in his case other neighborhoods had to be called upon for help. All that was necessary in the case of a house to raise was a notice sent ; every man took it for granted that he must go and it was never thought that the man whose house was being built should offer wages for the help. Such as that wouldbe considered an insult. Steady work and willing effort soon conquers any obstacle, so it was on this farm. After getting the first eighty acres into cultivation, Mr. Copeland would buy more land and improve it until he had increased his farm to a great extent.
Larkin Cook was born and married in Ohio, where they lived on a farm for some time before going to Indiana. In 1887 they again moved, this time coming to Vermilion County, Illinois. Mr. Cook was a man of strict integrity. He was cordial and hospitable and his wife was particularly fond of company. Theirhome in Vermilion County was a happy place to visit. They were, with their families much in demand at merrymakings. They were the parents of ten children.
Andrew and Mary (James) Juvinall cast their lot in with the white settlers of Vermilion County at an early day, coming in 1827. They were both natives of Ohio and made their new home in Pilot township.
Samuel Sconce was born in Bourbon County, Kentucky, in 1802, and there they had all the trials of pioneer life, so that the change to the new country along the Vermilion river was not the place of hardship it might have been to one from more densely populated section. He left his old home in 1828, and made his permanent settlement in Vermilion County the following year. The year following this, Nancy Waters, who had come to Vermilion County with her father from Bourbon County, Kentucky, the old home of Mr. Sconce, and located in Brooks' Point, became his wife. For a few years this young couple lived in Brooks' Point and Mr. Sconce turned his attention to farming, but later he became a merchant in Indianola, under the firm name of Bailey & Sconce. He was very successful in this business but after the building burned he retired from business life. Mr. Sconce died in 1874 at the age of seventy-one years, and his widow survived him until 1897 when she died at the age of eighty-nine.
William Jones and his wife were both born in Harrison County, Kentucky, where they were married and lived for the first dozen years of being together. In 1828 they, with their family of six children, cast their fortunes with the pioneers of Vermilion County, locating near Danville in Danville township. They lived for a short time on section 16 and then he bought a tract of land on section n. It was heavily timbered and the family lived in a rail-pen for a time until a log house could be built. Mr. Jones improved a part of his land and then moved to another part of the township. He died October 30, 1859. He was a faithful soul receiving the well-earned respect of all who knew him. His wife survived him eight years. They were the parents of eight children. Of these one became the wife of Henry Sallee, of Oakwood township and another became the wife of Dennis Olehy.
In 1828 William Wright with his family came to this county, coming directly from Rush County, Indiana. At that time there were but three children. They had not been living in Indiana more than one year, having gone there from Kentucky. The first settlement made was three miles north of Danville. At the time of his location here there were not many families in Danville, it was so recently made a town. The land was not yet in the market, and settlements werenot attempted. He, however, ventured to settle in the timber, having the universal mistrust of the prairie. He built his house of logs and the chimney was constructed of a substance called stone-coal, which was thought to be fire-proof. This was a mistake, however, for the fire was no sooner built than the chimney began to burn and it was with difficulty that the cabin was saved.
The little log house was soon surrounded by a well cultivated farm and in time a neat and comfortable house was built. During this time the village of Denmark had been growing. Because of the disadvantages of living so near this rough frontier town, Mr. Wright sold his farm and moved to Danville township. Here he spent his last days. He died in 1845. His wife survived him by thirty- six years.
James Graves and his wife were both natives of Kentucky. He showed rare soldierly qualities in the war of 1812 and made General Harrison his personal friend. Mr. Graves and his family came to Vermilion County in 1828. He had made a trip previous to this time in company with Isaac Sandusky, and both took up land in Vermilion County about a half mile apart. They brought their families in 1828 and in October of the same year the Graves settled on their new land. Mr. Graves prospered and became the owner of four hundred acres of land in Georgetown township. Mr. Graves was a cabinet-maker by trade and he followed that for a dozen years after he came to Vermilion County. After that time however, he practically abandoned it, and turned his attention to farming.Mr. Graves lived on his farm until 1857, when he died. His wife survived him thirty years, remaining a widow until her death in 1887.
James Barnett was a native of Kentucky and settled in Vermilion County in 1828. He was married twice, the first time to Miss Conway and the second time to Rosa Neil. He owned about six hundred acres of land near Indianola and was one of the prominent farmers in that part of the country. His ancestors were from Ireland and when they came to America they settled in Pennsylvania. Mr. James Barnett, Sr., died in 1866.
Andrew Makemson was a resident of Kentucky until, in 1828, he with his wife and family, came to Vermilion County, Illinois, to make their future home in Newell township. Mr. Makemson was a stalwart Republican and both he and his wife were good members of the Methodist church and were highly esteemed for their honesty and sterling qualities. Mr. Makemson died in 1880 and his wife in 1889. They were both buried in the Lamm cemetery.
John Chandler, like so many of the pioneers of Vermilion County, was a native of the "Blue Grass state," where he lived until he had reached manhood's estate, and in 1828 determined to go into the state of Illinois. Makingtheir way to this county they located on a tract of wild land in Newell township where he tilled the soil and made such improvements as to sell it to a profit in 1853 and take up his residence in Danville. Mr. Chandler lived in Danville until he died in 1859. His wife died before he left the farm.
Absolom Collison was a native of Pike County, Ohio, and in 1828 came to Illinois. He entered forty acres of land from the government and began the development of a farm. So well did he succeed that he became a land owner well known. He married Mary Qienoweth, who was born near Columbus, Ohio, but came to Illinois with her father. Mr. Collison was the father of seven children who have been conspicuous in the affairs of Vermilion County. He died in 1849. His widow afterward married John Smith.
Joseph Smith was a native of East Tennessee and lived there until, in 1828, when he with his family came to Vermilion County, Illinois. It had been but ten years since Illinois had become a state and but three years since Vermilion County had been created. Joseph Smith took up his abode in Georgetown township and improved a farm there upon which he spent the remaining years of his life. He lived to the age of seventy-three in this home.
Samuel Campbell came to Vermilion County about 1828, settling on section 26, Newell township. He made his journey from Seneca County, New York, overland in a covered wagon. He first stopped in Ohio and waited while some of his sons came ahead to Vermilion County, following them later. They lived at first in a little cabin surrounded by Indian neighbors. There they underwent all the hardships and trials incident to the establishing of a home on the frontier. Later the log cabin was replaced by a modern house where Mr. and Mrs. Campbell spent their last years. They were the parents of eight children. After the death of his father the youngest son bought the interests of the others and carried on the farm until his death in 1855, when he was but forty-one years old.
Otho Allison was a resident of Harrison County, Kentucky, until he came to Indianapolis, Ind., in 1826, where he stayed two years and then came to Vermilion County, Illinois. He was a miller as well as a farmer. Upon coming to the county Mr. Allison entered a claim of one hundred and twenty acres, five miles from Danville, in Newell township. This included eighty acres of prairie and forty acres of timber land, and it was in a raw state; not a bit of improvement had ever been made. During his boyhood days, Alfred Allison went with his father, Otho Allison, to Chicago, and saw the Indians paid off after the BlackHawk war. His father also showed him the first brick building ever put up in that city. Otho Allison was the father of thirteen children, eleven sons and two daughters.
When James Donovan was a youth of sixteen years he served in the regular army under Gen. Jackson, as private in a Kentucky company. Returning to his home in Bourbon county, he settled down and after awhile married Mary Perkins. In 1828 they moved to Vermilion County. He was employed in the salt works for a time and afterward he hauled produce to Chicago and took charge of the same down the river to New Orleans. He had a life of hardship and died when he was about sixty years old. Mrs. Donovan died at the age of sixty-six years. They were the parents of fifteen children.
William Bandy was a prominent citizen in the affairs of Vermilion County at an early day. He was born in Bedford County, Va., and when a boy of sixteen came to Vermilion County, where he lived until his death. William and Washington Bandy came with their foster parents, making the trip in a four- horse team wagon, taking thirty-six days to come from their old home to Danville,' Illinois. The wagon was filled with household effects and provisions, leaving but room for the family. In it their beds were made at night and they took their meals by the side of the road. When they reached Danville, December 13, 1828, there were but nine families living here. There was no cabin for them to rent, while they were providing a shelter, but they at last succeeded in securing a temporary abiding place in a log house which already contained two families. This building was 16x16 feet, and stood on the northwest corner of the square upon the present site of the First National Bank. Mr. Howell, the foster father of William and Washington Bandy, kept his family in this house until spring, because he could do no better.
The land office was at that time located at Palestine, ninety miles away. Mr. Howell went there right away to enter or purchase land, but could not do so because the officer in charge would not take the Virginia money which he offered in payment. After some delay, this difficulty was overcome and he entered 480 acres of land. He put four cabins up on this land, the principal one being that which was located one mile southeast of the public square. This house was made of rough logs with a puncheon floor, two windows and a door, with greased paper for use in the windows in the place of glass. The building was 16 ft. by 18 ft. and boasted window shutters of rived boards. An opening was made in the logs eight feet wide, and built out three feet, and this was lined with earth for a fireplace. The chimney was built outside six feet high and covered with mortar. This rude contrivance lasted for years and furnished enough heat for cooking and warming of the building in the winter.
The furniture was equally crude and homely. The bedstead was made of riven boards and set on wooden legs; the table was made in a like manner, only the legs were made higher. The family had brought two chairs whichwere given to the father and mother and the boys had to make stools for themselves to sit on. A tick was made which was filled with straw and another filled with feathers, and put on the bed. While game was plenty, and the family never lacked for meat, the groceries had to be brought in from Terre Haute and sometimes failed to be as plenty. After the cabin was built, water had to be carried 300 yards, until a well could be dug. Mr. Howell made a contract to get out 10,000 black walnut rails at twenty-five cents per hundred, and in the meanwhile he and the boys carried on the improvement of the farm. They broke the first timber land about Danville and raised some very fine corn which they were obliged to feed to their swine and sell the pork at from $1.00 to $1.50 per hundred. There was no market for the corn. The wage of a day's workwas equal to ten or twelve pounds of salt pork or eight bushels of corn, or, from thirty-seven and a half to fifty cents in cash, and only the extra good workmen could command that price. William Bandy remained a member of this home until he was nineteen years old when he went into the Black Hawk war in Colonel I. R. Moore's regiment with Captain J. Palmer.
This regiment went first to Joliet to build a fort. Thence they went to Ottawa, and yet later William Bandy joined the United States Mounted Rangers, which comprised six companies. They found the dread scourge of cholera at Rock Island and many fell victims to it. This company finally returned and wintered southeast of Danville until in January they were ordered to the other side of the Illinois river, but there being no need of their further service they came back to their camp. They remained ready for duty all summer, reconnoitering in different sections until, in the fall of the year, they were discharged. Mr. Bandy, in company with Mr. Howell, began work as a carpenter, and that year built a house on what was called Sulphur Springs Place, about one mile southeast of the court house. In the following spring they built a flat boat upon which Mr. Bandy loaded great quantities of pork and took it to New Orleans. When he reached his destination he found an epidemic of cholera, and he waited only to sell enough to pay expenses when he came home, having left the rest of his pork to be sold by others. Two years later he had a letter from the man who undertook the sale, stating that it was all sold, and enclosing the price thereof in a draft on a Louisville bank.
Mr. Bandy built another boat and took another load of produce down the rivers, and continued these trips year after year excepting in the time of the Mexican war, when he abandoned the river until after its close. Later he furnished the Illinois Canal company with packet horses and also was a merchant in partnership with his father-in-law, William Murphy. He later had a hardware store, conducting the largest business of this kind in the county, for years. He spent the last years of his life in the real estate business. His first residence was on North street, east of Vermilion, where he had a half acre of ground. He was appointed as one of the commissioners to make the slack water of the Vermilion river, in 1835, but did not see it practical; later he was appointed marshal of the Eastern District of Illinois, but there being nothing which appealed to him in the office, he withdrew.
Mr. Bandy represented his township two terms as supervisor; he also served the city as president of the city council and as alderman. Mr. Bandy married Miss Harriet J. Murphy, in 1833. They were the parents of seven children. Mrs. Bandy died in 1872, and nine years later he married Mrs. Deborah (King) Johnson.
James Smith was one of the first, if not the first man to settle in Vance township. He came from Ohio, where he was a farmer, and entered eight hundred acres of land in Vermilion County in this section. During his life he improved all this land and gave each of his children a portion before he died. He came to Vermilion County in 1829 and lived here until his death in 1872. His wife died ten years before him.
William Blakeney was a native of Kentucky, and his wife Susan (Ellis) Blankeney, was born in Greene County, Ohio. Susan Ellis came to Vermilion County with her father about 1821, but Mr. Blakeney came in 1829. He came to Illinois earlier than this but did not locate in Vermilion County for some time after he left Ohio. He traveled over the state on foot, visiting the lead mines at Galena. He served in the Black Hawk war in 1832, three years after coming to Vermilion County. Physically, William Blakeney was a splendid speciment of manhood. He was tall, had a powerful frame and was very active. He was acknowledged the strongest man west of the Wabash, and could outrun any man in this section were he white man or Indian. Mr. and Mrs. Blakeney were the parents of twelve children, eight of whom grew to mature years and married and had families of their own.
Mr. Blakeney's home was in Georgetown township. One of his sons, well known in Sergeant Blakeney, married the daughter of Benjamin Brooks, the founder of Brooks' Point.
CHARLES S. YOUNG.
Charles Young became an extensive land owner in Vermilion County, coming at the early date of 1829. He was a Kentuckian by birth and lived in that state until after his marriage, January 14, 1829. He lived in Harrison County, until the following October when the young couple decided to change their residence and go to the new county of Vermilion in the new state of Illinois. They arrived here on October 14, and took their life up in Newell township. The amount of his wealth at the time of his coming to Vermilion County was an eagle, a half dollar and twenty-five cents in his pocket. He bought eighty acres of wild prairie land and by careful management he became one of the richest men in Vermilion County. He bought and sold all kinds of stock, having driven horses to the Cincinnati, Chicago, Racine and Milwaukee markets. Mr. Young was the father of nine children. His wife died in 1871.
Charles Caraway was the son of Thomas Caraway of Greenbriar County, Virginia. He was born in 1788 and came to Vermilion County in 1829. He had been married to Elizabeth McCorkle of the same county a few years previous to his coming west. They located not far from Butler's Point and established a family, the descendents of whom have been prominent in affairs of the county since that time. Mr. Caraway lived in the county nine years and died in 1838. His widow afterward married Anson Butler, and lived until 1848.
Latham Folger entered land in the Harrison Purchase, and was a tanner, a shoemaker and a manufacturer of horse collars. He ran a tannery, a shoe shop and a horse-collar shop in Elwood from 1829 until 1845, when he settled on his land in the southern part of Elwood township, where he carried on farming extensively. He died early in the year of 1852, but his wife lived nearly thirty years more.
Latham Folger lived in Nantucket Island in his young days. He was a whaler, and was taken prisoner while whaling during the war with Great Britain, and because he refused to fight, was left on a small rocky island to die, but he was fortunate in having an American vessel come long and rescue him before he starved to death.
William Cunningham was born in Pennsylvania about 1778, and shortly after his marriage to Mary Humes came west and settled in Kentucky, coming thence to Vermilion County in 1829. They settled on the prairie in Newell township at what was afterwards called Cunningham Grove. The family traveled in a prairie schooner drawn by oxen, and much time was consumed in coming from Kentucky, the roads being none of the best. Mr. Cunningham settled on section 1 1 and there built him a house after the fashion of the day. Mr. Cunningham was married twice and was the father of twelve children. Chicago was the trading point where Mr. Cunningham exchanged groceries for farm produce hauled there in wagons drawn by oxen. Mr. Cunningham died at his home in Newell township May ii, 1852.
William Current came to Vermilion County in 1829 with his brother and sister, settling in Newell township. He was a blacksmith and wagon-maker by trade and after he came west sold some of the wagons he had made to people in Chicago.
Chicago was the market where he sold his eggs, butter and other farm produce. Mr. Current was a native of Virginia, whence he came west. He lived in Newell township until his death in 1851. He was the father of fourteen children. His wife, Mary (Bastwin) Current survived her husband by more than thirty years.
James and Elizabeth (Smith) Elliott lived on a farm in Ohio until 1829 when they came to Vermilion County, Illinois, where Mr. Elliott bought land in Vance township. Mr. Elliott lived in this section all his life, a good citizen. Hewas three times married, having a family of seven children. Of all these children but two lived to maturity and they both lived in Vermilion County. The oldest son of Mr. Elliott Milton, who came to this county with his parents was a farmer all his life. He married Miss Elizabeth Smoot, who lived near Fairmount and they were the parents of six children. Mr. Milton Elliott died in 1884 and Mr. Elliott died in 1895.
JOHN D. C. CLINE.
John D. C. Cline came from Kentucky in 1829 and settled in Blount township, where the name has been a familiar one ever since. The old homestead was on section 26. Mr. Cline was a potter and frequently made trips as far as Wisconsin to sell his goods. His son, Spencer Cline continued the clearing of the farm and lived in the house which his father built. Spencer Cline died March 27, 1893. He was a raiser of small fruit.
John Johns was born in Shelby County, Kentucky, May 25, 1805. While he was quite young his father moved to Owen County, Indiana. Most of his early life was spent flatboating down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. He was married to Miss Mary Humphrey at the residence of Uncle Reuben Partlow, Owen County, Indiana, in 1826. He went to Kentucky to live with his wife's father, John Humphrey, until 1829, when he came to this county and made his home in Blount township in the Copeland neighborhood. His brothers- in-law, Benjamin Stewart and John Mills, with his father-in-law, Mr. Humphrey, came here a few years later. John Johns came in a wagon from Kentucky, bringing provisions enough to last one year until he could raise a crop. Mr. Johns remained in Blount township until 1852, when he removed to Danville. After coming to Danville he engaged in the lime and plaster trade for many years. He had lived a retired life for some years at the time of his death in 1886, at the age of 81 years. He died at the home of his son-in-law, Charles Hacker, after a short and painful illness. He was known to the people as Father Johns, and his quiet demeanor made every one fond of him. He was like wheat ripe for the sickle. He had been a church member for sixty years, and the first religious services ever held in Blount township were held at his house. After he removed to Danville he united with the North Street church and was buried from that church, his interment being in Springhill cemetery. An old friend of his wrote at the time that he "was sound in judgment and very decided in his principles, and so far as he knew the right nothing could cause him to swerve from the right."
John Cox came to Vermilion County in 1829 and settled on the Middle Fork six miles west of Danville. He was a carpenter and also owned a fine farm, which he entered and himself improved. John Cox was in the Black Hawk war. Both he and his wife belonged to the Baptist church. Mr. Cox died May 23, 1846, and his wife on September 2, 1851. They were the parents of six children. Thomas, who was a baby but six week old when his parents came to Illinois, grew up to a life of success and usefulness. He had much land and was ordained a minister in the Baptist church in 1886, after which time he had either a regular charge or a circuit.
Adam Pate was born in Virginia, married Elizabeth Owens, of Kentucky, and began their wedded life in Dearborn County, Indiana. In 1829 they came to Vermilion County, and located in Catlin township, where they lived all their remaining days. They experienced all the pleasures and the trials of pioneer days. Mr. Pate died February 24, 1867, and Mrs. Pate died in 1864.
Ephriam Acree came to Vermilion County directly from Alabama in 1829. He made a settlement in Catlin township. He bought 130 acres of raw land upon which he built the house that all had at that time and fenced, and broke six acres the first season. The next year he managed to put thirty more acres under cultivation. The corn raised could not bring more than six and a fourth cents per bushel and the mills were so far away that it was hard to get it ground so as to use it for food for the family. Joel Acree, his son, often took a sack of corn on horseback ten and sometimes fifteen miles to get it ground. Mr. Acree died in 1835 and was buried in the Butler burying ground. Joel Acree lived with his mother until 1848, when he was married to Elvessa Yount, daughter of one of the old settlers.
After his marriage Mr. Joel Acree purchased the interest of his brothers and sisters in the home place and as the younger children grew up he purchased theirs until it all was his. He bought other land from time to time until he was a great land owner in the county, beside having valuable land in Missouri. Ephriam Acree was the father of eleven children, many of whom beside Joel were settled comfortably in Vermilion County. Joel Acree and Elvessa (Yount) Acree, his wife, were the parents of but two children who grew to maturity. Of these two daughters, the eldest became the wife of Thomas A. Taylor.
Dr. Heywood came to Vermilion County in 1829, and settled in Georgetown township, becoming the first regular physician of that village. At that time there were but three other physicians in the county. These were Dr. Holmes, Dr. Wood and Dr. Smith. After ten years of practice Dr. Heywood moved on his farm in Carroll township, where he remained until 1871, when he moved to Indianola. He married Miss Sarah Barnett, in 1831. She was the daughter of George Barnett. Dr. Heywood was a politician as well as a physician. He represented his county in the legislature in 1855. He was very familiar with Mr. Lincoln.
JOHN W. VANCE.
John W. Vance came to Vermilion County from Ohio in about 1823 or 1824. He was born in 1782 and died at the home of his son in 1857. He leased the Salt Works and developed them, running them to their greatest capacity, as long as there was any profit in them. Mr. Vance was very prominent in the affairs of the county at an early day. He represented the county in the legislature for two terms. Mr. Vance married Miss Deziah Rathburn who was the daughter of Mrs. Lura Guymon by a former marriage. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Vance were Horace W. Vance, and J. Col. Vance, his sons, also Helen, who became the wife of J. Wilson; Lura G., who became the wife of S. R. Tilton; and Josephine L., wife of L. Steele; with Bridget, Marion, Mariah, and Joseph, the last three of whom died young. While Mr. Vance was working the salt springs, the land upon which the works were located was selected for the county seat, but he refused to surrender his lease and the location was changed, thereby giving Danville a chance to secure it. Had it not been for his position at that time, the county seat might have been permanently placed at that place and the history of the county would have been radically different.
Andrew Davidson came to Vermilion County in 1828 after their family were pretty well grown, and settled near Myersville. They brought seven children, two of whom were married. Very soon afterward another was followed by Joseph Kerr who married her. Andrew Davidson saw his children all nicely settled before he died in 1841. His children were all girls excepting two sons. One of these sons remained in Myersville and the other came to Danville. One of Mr. Davidson's daughters became the wife of Joseph Gundy, before they left Ohio and came to Vermilion County.
Samuel Adams was a pioneer of that part of Vermilion County now known as Newell township. He came in the year 1825, and with his wife settled among the Indians, who outnumbered the white people for some time ten to one. There were three families who came together from Harrison County, Kentucky, at this time all coming in two horse wagons, and it took three or four weeks to make the trip. The party camped along the roadside as they were coming. The party consisted of Samuel Adams. John Adams his cousin, and Joseph Martin a brother-in-law of Samuel Adams' father. Samuel Adams had his wife and two children with him on this trip. They all took up their abode on the state boundary line and soon Mr. Adams had a log cabin erected with a stick and clay chimney. This stood on section 22 Newell township, the old family homestead. He entered eighty acres of land from the government for which he paid one hundred dollars. This property has always been in thehands of the family since. Samuel Adams was a noted dealer in hogs which he raised for the home market. His earliest trading points were Eugene and Perrysville on the Wabash River, and later he hauled produce to Chicago. It took about eighteen days for the trip. It was necessary to ford the rivers, for no bridges had been built, and to camp out along the road at night. Homemade clothing was .used and the second wife of Mr. Adams was noted for her skill in weaving. She made blankets and coverlets for the beds and material for the household use. Mr. Adams' wife who came from Kentucky with him died in the 'forties and he married Sarah Rayle (or Kayles?) as his second wife. She was a widow with five children. She was the daughter of Luke Kayles (or Rayle?) who was an early pioneer of Vermilion County, and was the first owner of land on the North Fork, of the Big Vermilion River. Samuel Adams died at the age of eighty-one years in the year 1881, and his second wife, one year later at the age of seventy-four. He was the father of thirteen children by his first wife.
This list of the makers of Vermilion County is of necessity limited. There are other citizens of this decade who have been overlooked without doubt. The omission of any name of men who came to this section previous to 1830 is not intentional and comes only because of lack of information regarding such. True this period covering the time of the coming of the makers of Vermilion County from 1819 to 1829 includes but three years of the actual existence of Vermilion County as an organization, but it is the first decade of the life of the white man in the section of country now known as Vermilion County and as such, gives the story of the first settlers of the territory.