The Past and Present of Woodford County
Like every other portion of this great and glorious Country
of ours, Woodford County can boast of some rather distinguished people, past and present. Of these we will mention
William H. Delph, an old settler, who came to Illinois from Lexington, Kentucky, in
1830, and first located at Jacksonville. He had learned the trade of engineer in Kentucky, which vocation he followed
after coming west, and was the first engineer to run a train of cars on an Illinois railroad — a road that extended
from Jacksonville to Meredosia on the Illinois River, and was known as the “Great Western Railroad.” It is quite
interesting to hear Mr. Delph describe this primitive engine, as well as the running of the trains on the road.
Our descriptive powers are not sufficient to transfer the picture to these pages. He relates how, on a certain
occasion, the train over took a man walking on the tack, whom he recognized as a deaf mute living near by, and
without stopping or checking up his train, he walked round on the "deck" to the front of the engine,
and, putting out his hand, pushed the man out of the way. Mr. Delph, while living at Lexington, Kentucky, remembers
very distinctly the visit of General La Fayette to that place, during his tour of United States in 1825. He states
that he had an introduction to the General, and in the evening sat in a Masonic Lodge with him. He claims to be
one of the oldest Masons living in the State of Illinois, having belonged to the Fraternity nearly sixty years.
He was made Postmaster at Metamora by Abraham Lincoln, an office be held until the inauguration of President Hayes,
when he resigned.
John Brickler, a native of Lorraine, France, and one of the early settlers near the present town of Metamora,
and who died a few years ago, on the place where his daughter, Mrs. Farver, now lives, was a soldier in the Grand
Army of France in its ill-fated expedition into Russia, under the First Napoleon, and shared in the privations
and miseries of the disastrous retreat from Moscow — an event in which there is probably embodied more of “glory
and of gloom” than anything of its kind in the annals of man. Many of his old acquaintances are yet familiar with
the stories he used to tell,
Louis Guibert, an old pioneer of the Spring Bay settlement, was born in France, and was a soldier of the Republic
and of the First Empire, sharing in many of the great battles of Napoleon. At the battle of Austerlitz, he beheld
one-half of his company shot down by a single discharge of an enemy’s battery; and in another engagement, was one
of eight out of a company of seventy-one men who survived the battle. He received the grade of Captain from Napoleon
himself, on the field
Jacob Banta, the old patriarch of the Banta family, many of whom are still living in Woodford County, was born
in the State of New Jersey, almost in sight of the Empire City, and emigrated to Kentucky, with his father, when
but fifteen years old. In 1832, he came to Illinois, and stopped in Tazewell County, but in 1835, settled within
a mile of the village of Metamora, where he died February 26, 1861, in his 90th year. Born on the eve of the mighty
struggle that resulted finally
John Page, Sr., already mentioned in this history, came from New Hampshire. He was a man of sterling honesty and
noble aspirations, who Would have sacrificed his right arm rather than to stoop to a mean act. Often favored with
public trusts — having once been sent to the Legislature from this district and three times from his old district,
in New Hampshire — he took no delight in these honors, but always preferred the proud title of an honest farmer.
In 1834, he made a trip through this Western country, with a view of seeking a new home. He traveled on horseback
over this vast and wonderful country - wonderful in many respects to the quiet citizens of the “Old Granite Hill
“ and in the latter part of the Summer returned home, well pleased with his trip to the West. As he was the first
from the mountains of Gilmanton (his native town) to visit the “Prairie Land,” his neighbors gathered at his house,
on his return, and listened, with deep interest, to his description of the country he had seen.
Thomas Bullock, familiarly known as “Uncle Tom” Bullock, and the very father of Woodford County, is a scion of
the old Bullock stock of Kentucky, than whom none better exists in that proud old Commonwealth, so prolific of
great men. To him, it may be said, the county owes its existence; he it was that took the initiative steps toward
its formation, and he, after the preliminary steps were taken, engineered the project safely through all the forms
of “red tape” in the General Assembly, until it came forth from the “Governmental furnace” a full-fledged county.
He has always been an active and enterprising man — foremost in every enterprise intended to promote the welfare
of the county in which he takes such a lively interest.
Count Clopiska, a native of Poland, who, for some state or political offense, was expatriated from his native land,
came to the United States, and to Illinois, and for several years lived in the city of El Paso. He was a fine type
of the polished gentleman, and his misfortunes were a key to the warm hearts of the American people. The citizens
of El Paso took a strong interest in his welfare, and when he died, “a stranger in a strange land,” with no loved
one nigh to smooth his dying pillow or wipe the cold, damp dews from his paling brow, Mr. W. M. Jenkins, an old
and honored citizen of El Paso, had him neatly ,interred in his own lot in the city cemetery, where the distinguished
old foreigner sleeps as peacefully, perhaps, as if he slumbered in the marble vaults of his ancestors.