The Smith Family of Princeton, Bureau County, Illinois

Donated by Jeff Thorn

Jeff Thorn writes:

"I have my GGGrandfathers(Eli Smith,Jr), of Bureau County, Family History Journal.

This was written in the early 1900's. It has rememberences of his father's (Eli), mother's, uncles'(Elijah) and aunts journey from the east to Bureau Co. in the early 1830's. Also references to the Underground Railroad that they aided. It also has a story of the family horse that had pulled wagons for the other references in 'The History of Bureau County' by H.C. Bradsby and another book by N. Matson about Bureau County families and history...My Smith names have come up on your site often...If you have any interest I can send you some copies."

"Attached is the pic of my GGGgrandfather Eli Smith,Sr. Born 11/05/1804 Deerfield,Ma..Died in Princeton,Bureau,Il.,08/30/1871...this pic is from "History of Bureau County" by N. Matson 1872...

Smith Family History Journal

Written by Eli Smith Jr. in the early 1900's

Page Two and Three- Smith Line

Samuel Smith: sailed in the "Elizabeth" from Ipswich, England to New England, April 20, 1634; he at once became a leading man in the settlements; as lieut., was in charge of military affairs until 1678, when he retired to be succeeded by his son, Philip; died about 1680, age about 78.

Philip, son of Samuel, born 1633; lieut., rep. justice of the Co. Court; died Jan. 10, 1685, age 52. "Murdered with an hideous witchcraft," says Cotton Mather. Married Rebecca, daughter of Nathan'l Foote.

Ichabod, son of Philip, born 1675, lived at Hadley. Died Sept. 8, 1746. Married July 9, 1698, Elizabeth, daughter of Aaron Cook. She died October 10, 1751; age 73.

Moses, son of Ichabod, born 1706. Settled in Amherst. Died May 13, 1781. Age 75. Married Nov. 30, 1732, Hannah, daughter of Samuel Childs. She died January 26, 1778. Age 67.

Moses, son of Moses (1), born 1733; wheelwright; settled in Dfd; rem. to Shelburns, 1776; Died October 27, 1781. Age 48. Married, April 16, 1761, Sarah, daughter of John Catlin. She died October 31, 1826; aged 88.

Chester, son of Moses (2), born 1771; shoemaker; Dfd., Shelburne and Conway. Died March 13, 1812; age 41. Married December 15, 1796, Anna, daughter of Enoch Jewett; She died November 3, 1880.


Page 4

Eli, son of Chester Smith, was born in Deerfield, Mass. Nov. 15, 1804 and died in Princeton, Illinois, Aug. 30, 1871, Age 67. He was active in civic and church affairs, and in the days of Negro slavery operated a station on the "Under-ground Railroad", that mystic route over which many a fleeing Negro passed on his way to Canada and freedom. He was a good carpenter, and erected the first frame dwelling house in Princeton. Later he gave his whole attention to farming. On March 31, 1831, he married Clarissa Childs, of Conway, Mass. who was born Oct. 5, 1804, and who entered her Heavenly rest, Jan. 17, 1892, Age 88.

A few weeks after their marriage, they joined the Hampshire Colony, with which they came to the then far West, settling in Bureau County, Illinois, on land they purchased from the U. S. Government, one mile North of the present site of Princeton.

Eight children were born to them, all of whom have passed into the "Great beyond," except the one who writes this bit of family history.

Page 5

The wedding trip of my parents was long, tiresome, and fraught with many dangers and hardships. Leaving Mass. with the Hampshire Colony May 3, 1831, they reached their destination in Ill. on July 4, 1831, after two months and one day of travel. In this day of travel by steam, electricity and by air, one can scarcely realize the hardship attending a journey from Mass. to Illinois, 100 years ago. The first lap being by wagons to Buffalo, thence by lake to Chicago (at that time) an Indian trading post, from there by wagons drawn by oxen, the journey finally being ended under the most trying difficulties. At one time the wagons became mired in a marsh, and it became necessary for the bride (my mother) to ride one of the oxen out to higher ground. Distressing and hazardous as had been the long journey, they were destined to suffer more from the ravages of war with the Indians. On two occasions the settlers were obliged to leave their cabins and growing crops and free for their lives -- once taking refuge in a fort in Hennepin, and once in the fort in Springfield, where they remained until the close of the Black Hawk war. Many of the settlers who refused to leave their homes, fell victims of the scalping knife.

My parents spent the remainder of their lives on the land purchased in 1831, for which they paid $1.25 per acre. At the time of Mother's death, the farm was valued at $100.00 per acre, and at this time (1925) it is estimated to be worth $500.00 an acre. The first home of my parents was a one-room log cabin. Later, this was replaced by another log cabin of somewhat larger proportions., in which they lived until 1846, when they built the present commodious house of brick.

Page Six

In leaving their homes in the East for a dwelling place in the wilds of Illinois, the Colonists did not leave their strong religious convictions. Before leaving Massachusetts the Hampshire Colony Cong'l. Church, consisting of eighteen members was organized, one member of which was my sainted Mother; my Father becoming a member a few years later and giving many years of service as a deacon in the First Cong'l Church of Princeton, Illinois, which grew from the nucleus formed by the eighteen charter members. We, of this generation, but faintly realize the many sacrifices of those sturdy pioneers, who thru years of toil and hardship "made this Wilderness to blossom as the rose." of a truth, Other men labored, and we are entered into their labors."



On March 23, 1928, the ninety-seventh anniversary of the organization of the church, a beautiful Bronze Tablet on which appear the names of the eighteen charter members was placed in the church building. A pageant was given at this time, when eighteen of the present member impersonated the characters of the original eighteen. Mrs. Grace Smith Elder impersonating her Grandmother, Mrs. Eli Smith Sr.

Page 7

Eli, (2), Son of Eli (1), was born in Princeton, Illinois, June 30, 1850; married Clarinda Jane, daughter of Dennis and Betsy Cusic, December 23, 1874, who was born in Dover Township, Illinois, Aug. 7, 1853.

Grace L., daughter of Eli (2) was born in Princeton, Illinois, March 11, 1879.  Married Nymphas Elder, November 17, 1907. Died after two hours illness, April 24, 1933.

Florence L., daughter of Eli (2) born on May 11, 1888. Married Frank Sawyer, on May 11, 1909. Married Cyrus A. Smale 6/18/55.

Paul W. Elder, son of Nyphas, born on Sept. 24, 1908.

Roger D. Sawyer, son of Frank, born on March 14, 1911.

Richard Lawrence Sawyer, son of Roger, born July 14, 1931.

Old John

by Eli Smith Jr. - early 1900's

Thinking it may be of interest to some who come after me I write this short sketch of one of my father's family pets.

My father, Eli Smith Sr. one of Illinois' earliest pioneers, was the proud owner of a beautiful sorrel horse, with a most kindly disposition, which he named John.  Old John, as we children were wont to call him, not only filled his place on the farm, but also played an important part in the operation of the "underground Railroad" of Negro slavery days; father being keeper of a station on that mystical route. From that station many a fleeing colored person, lying in the bottom of father's democrat wagon, has been drawn by John one station nearer Canada and freedom.

He also did his bit toward the building of another important Railway line, the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railraod. Hitched to the end of the tongue of a wagon drawn by two other horses, as ties were being taken from father's timber, to be used in the building of the road-bed. While thus engaged, the writer then a young lad, was given the seat of honor astride his back, while we proudly lead the procession.

The one feature of horse lore which he possessed distinguished him as among the wisest of his kind. This was the almost human intelligence he showed in the way he would give warning of the near approach of a certain kind of danger. When he would suddenly stop and give forth two or three loud snorts, one could feel perfectly sure that a rattle snake was lurking near, and many was the rattler father dispatched, being apprised of their presence by this wise and faithful old friend. His last public appearance occurred during the 60's, when having on neither bridle nor halter, but bedecked with flags he led a fourth of July callithumpian parade - the rider facing backward, sitting astride his back.

He lived to be above 20 years of age and when found one fine June morning, asleep beside the pasture fence, he was mourned by our entire family, because we felt that a true old friend had gone from us, for whom our affection was almost akin to human.

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