Illinois Genealogy Trails History Group

Clark County Illinois
Genealogy and History




Page 210-218

" Ye mouldering relics of departed years,
Your names have perished; not a trace remains," etc.

CLARK County, originally, was diversified between woodland and prairie. It is situated on the eastern border of the State, and is bounded on the north by Edgar and Coles Counties, on the east by the Indiana line and the Wabash River, on the south by Crawford, and on the west by Cumberland and Coles Counties. It contains ten full and eight fractional townships, making a total area of about five hundred and thirteen square miles. The surface of the country in the western portion of the county is generally rolling, though some of the prairies are rather flat. The eastern portion is much more broken, especially in the vicinity of the Wabash bluffs, where it becomes quite hilly and is often broken into steep ridges along the courses of the small streams. The general level of the surface of the highlands above the railroad at Terre Haute, which is a few feet above the level of high water in the Wabash, is from one hundred and twenty-five to one hundred and fifty feet. The principal streams in the western part of the county are North Fork (of the Embarrass) which flows from north to south, and empties in the Embarrass River in the eastern part of .Jasper County; and Hurricane Creek, which rises in the south part of Edgar County, and after a general course of south twenty degrees east, discharges its waters into the Wabash River near the southeast corner of the county. In the eastern part of the county, Big Creek, and two or three of less note, after a general southeast course in this county, empty into the Wabash River. The North Fork, throughout nearly its whole course, runs through a broad, flat valley, affording no exposures of the underlying rocks, and the bluffs on either side are composed of drift clays, and rise from thirty to fifty feet or more above the valley, and at several points where wells have been sunk, these clays and underlying quicksands are found to extend to an equal depth beneath the bed of the stream. The creeks ill the eastern portion of the county are skirted by bluffs of rock through, some portion of their courses, and afford a better opportunity for determining the geological structure of the county.

Geology.**—The quarternary system is represented in this county by the alluvial deposits of the river and creek valleys, the Loess of the Wabash bluffs, the gravelly clays and hard-pan of the true drift, and the underlying stratified sands that are sometimes found immediately above the bed rock. The drift deposits proper vary in thickness from twenty to seventy-five feet or more, the upper portion being usually a yellow gravelly clay with local beds or pockets of sand. The lower division is mainly composed of a bluisheray hard-pan, exceedingly tough and hard to penetrate, usually impervious to water, and from thirty to fifty feet in thickness. This is underlaid by a few feet of sand, from which an abundant supply of water can be had when it can not be found at a higher level. A common method of obtaining water on the highlands of this county, where a sufficient supply is not found in the upper portion of the drift, is to sink a well into the hard-pan, and then bore through that deposit to the quicksand below, where an unfailing supply is usually obtained. Bowlders of granite, syenite, trap, porphyry, quartzite, etc., many of them of large size, are abundant in the drift deposits of this county, and nuggets of native copper and galena are occasionally met with, having been transported along with the more massive bowlders, by the floating ice, which seems to have been the main transporting agency of our drift deposits.

Coal Measures.—All the rocks found in this county belong to the Coal Measures, and include all the beds from the limestone lies about 75 feet above Coal No. 7, to the sand-stone above the Quarry Creek limestone, and possibly Coal No. 14 of the general section. These beds are all above the main workable coals, and although they include a total thickness of about 400 feet, and the horizon of five or six coal seams, yet none of them have been found in this county more than from twelve to eighteen inches in thickness. In the northwest part of the county several borings were made for oil during the oil excitement, some of which were reported to be over 000 feet in depth; but as no accurate record^ seems to have been kept, the expenditure resulted in no general benefit further than to determine that no deposits of oil of any value existed in the vicinity at the depth penetrated. The following record of the "old well," or "T. R. Young Well," was furnished to Prof. Cox by Mr. Lindsey : Soil and drift clay, 23 feet; hard-pan, .30 feet; sandstone, 20 feet; mudstone, 20 feet; coal and bituminous shale, 3 feet; sandstone, 23 feet; coal, 1 foot; sandstone, 5 feet; clay shale—soapstone, so-called, 23 feet; blackshale, 9 feet; sandstone, 12 feet; coal, 1 foot; sandstone, 90 feet; mudstone, 2 feet; hard-rock, 1 foot; sandstone, 52 feet. The upper part of this boring corresponds very well with our general section, except in the absence of the Quarry Creek limestone, which should have been found where they report 20 feet of " mud-stone," but whatever that may have been, it seems hardly probable that such a terra would be used to designate a hard and tolerably pure limestone. This well was tubed with gas-pipe for some eight or ten feet above the surface, and water, gas, and about half a gallon of oil, per day, were discharged. All the wells, so far as I could learn, discharged water at the surface, showing-that artesian water could be readily obtained here, but it was all more or less impregnated with mineral matters and oil, sufficient to render it unfit for. common use. The 900-foot well must have been carried quite through the Coal Measures, and if an accurate journal had been kept, the information it would have afforded would have been of great value to the people of this as well as of the adjacent counties. It would have gone far toward settling the question as to the number and thickness of the workable coals for all this portion of the State and the depth at which they could be reached from certain specified horizons, as, for instance, from the base of the Quarry Creek or Livingston lime-stones, or from either one of their coals of the upper measures that were passed through in this boring. As it is, the expenditure was an utter waste of capital, except in so far as it may have taught those directly engaged in the operation the folly of boring for oil where there was no reasonable expectation of finding it in quantities sufficient to justify such an expenditure of time and money.

The beds forming the upper part of the general section in this county are exposed on Quarry Creek south of Casey and one mile and a half east of Martinsville, on the upper course of Hurricane Creek, and the Blackburn branch southeast of Parker prairie. At the quarry a mile and a half east of Martinsville, the limestone is heavy-bedded, and has been extensively quarried for bridge abutments, culverts, etc., on the old National Road. The bed is not fully exposed here, and seems to be somewhat thinner than at Quarry Creek, where it probably attains its maximum thickness, but thins out both to the northeast and southwest from that point. The upper part of the bed is generally quite massive, affording beds two feet or more in thickness, while the lower beds are thinner, and at the base it becomes shaly, and locally passes into a green clay with thin plates and nodules of limestone. These shaly layers afford many fine fossils in a very perfect state of preservation, though they are neither as numerous nor as well preserved here as at the outcrops of this limestone in Edgar County. Possibly the apparent thinning out of this limestone to the northward in this county may be due to surface erosion, as we nowhere saw the overlaying sandstone in situ, and Prof. Bradley gives the thickness of this bed in Edgar County as above 25 feet, which does not indicate a very decided diminution of its thickness in a northeasterly direction. Below this limestone, in the vicinity of Martinsville, there are partial outcrops of shale and thin-bedded sandstone, with a thin coal, probably No. 4 of the preceding section, and southwest of the town and about three-quarters of a mile from it there is a partial outcrop of the lower portion of the limestone in the bluff on the east side of the North Fork valley, where we obtained numerous fossils belonging to this horizon. West and northwest of Martinsville no rocks are exposed in the bluffs of the creek for some distance, but higher up partial outcrops of a sandstone, probably overlaying the Quarry Creek limestone may be found.

At Quarry Creek, about a mile and a half south of Casey, on section 28, township 10, range 14, this limestone appears in full force, and has been extensively quarried, both for building stone and the manufacture of quicklime. It is here a mottled-gray, compact limestone, locally brecciated, and partly in regular beds from six inches to two feet or more in thickness. At least 25 to 30 feet of limestone is exposed here, and as the overlying sandstone is not seen, its aggregate thickness may be even more than the above estimate. At its base the limestone becomes thin-bedded and shaly, passing into a greenish calcareous shale with thin plates and nodules of limestone abounding in the characteristic fossils of this horizon. At one point of this creek a bed of green shale about two feet in thickness was found intercalated in the limestone. A large amount of this stone was quarried here for lime, for macadamizing material and for bridge abutments on the old National Road, and this locality still furnishes the needed supply of lime and building stone for all the surrounding country. At the base of the limestone here there is a partial exposure of bituminous shale and a thin coal, probably representing the horizon of No. 4 of the preceding section, below which some ten or twelve feet of sandy shale was seen.

On Hurricane branch, commencing on section 14, township 10, range 13,.and extending down the creek for a distance of two miles or more, there are continuous outcrops of sandstone and sandy shales—No. 12 of the county section. The upper portion is shaly with some thin-bedded sandstone, passing downward into a massive, partly concretionary sandstone that forms bold cliffs along the banks of the stream from twenty to thirty feet in height. At the base of this sandstone there is a band of pebbly conglomerate from one to three feet in thickness, containing fragments of fossil wood in a partially carbonized condition, and mineral charcoal. The regularly bedded layers of this sandstone have been extensively quarried on this creek for the construction of culverts and bridge abutments in this vicinity, and the rock is found to harden on exposure, and proves to be a valuable stone for such uses. Some of the layers are of the proper thickness for flagstone, and from their even bedding can be readily quarried of the required size and thickness. This sandstone is under-laid by an argillaceous shale, and a black slate which, where first observed, was only two or three inches thick, but gradually increased down stream to a thickness of about fifteen inches. The blue shale above it contains concretions of argillaceous limestone with numerous fossils, which indicate the horizon of No. 13 coal, and in Lawrence, White and Wabash Counties we find a well-defined coal seam associated with a similar shale containing the same group of fossils, but possibly belonging to a somewhat lower horizon.

The limestone on Joe's Fork are the equivalents of the Livingstone limestone, and they pass below the bed of the creek about a mile above the old mill. The sandstone overlaying the upper limestone here, when evenly bedded, is quarried for building stone, and affords a very good and durable material of this kind for common* use. At the mouth of Joe's Fork the lower limestone is partly below the creek bed, the upper four feet only being visible, and above it we find clay shale two feet, coal ten inches, shale five to six feet, succeeded by the upper limestone which is here only three or four feet thick. The upper limestone at the outcrop here is thinly and unevenly bedded and weathers to a rusty brown color. The lower limestone is more heavily bedded, but splits to fragments on exposure to frost and moisture. It is of a mottled gray color when freshly broken, but weathers to a yellowish-brown. Fossils were not abundant in either bed, but the lower afforded a few specimens of Athyris Subtilita, a coral like Heliophyllum, Productus costatus and Terebratula bovidens. At Mr. Spangler's place, on Section 12 in Melrose Township, a hard brittle, gray limestone outcrops on a branch of Mill Creek. The bed is about eight feet in thickness, and is underlaid by a few feet of partly bituminous shale and a thin coal from six to eight inches thick.

The upper bed of limestone (No. 18 of the County Section), is traversed by veins of calcite and brown ferruginous streaks, that give the rock a mottled appearance when freshly broken. The upper layer of the lower bed is about thirty inches thick, and is a tough, compact, gray rock, that breaks with an even surface and has a slightly granular or semivolitic appearance. The lower part of this bed is a mottled gray fine-grained limestone and breaks with a more or less conchoidal fracture. The upper division of this limestone thins out entirely about a mile above the bridge, and passes into a green shale like that by which the limestones are separated. The tumbling masses of limestone that are found in the hill-tops above the railroad bridge, no doubt belong to the Quarry Creek bed, which is found in partial outcrops not more than half a mile back from the creek, and from eighty to ninety feet above its level. The intervening sandstones and shales which separate these limestones in the northeastern part of the county are much thinner than where they outcrop on Hurricane and Mill Creeks in the southern portion indicating a general thinning out of the strata below the Quarry Creek bed to the northward.

The coal spam at Murphy's place, near the mouth of Ashmore Creek, on Section 20,T. 11, R. 10, averages about eighteen inches in thickness and affords a coal of fair quality. Tracing the bluff northeastwardly from this point the beds rise rapidly, and about half a mile from Murphy's there is about thirty feet of drab-colored shales exposed beneath the limestone which is here found well up in the hill. At the foot of the bluff on Clear Creek, near the State line, a mottled brown and gray limestone four to five feet in thickness is found, underlaid by ten or twelve feet of variegated shales which are the lowest beds seen in the county. Extensive quarries were opened in this limestone to supply material for building the old National Road, and in the debris of these old quarries were obtained numerous fossils from the marly layers thrown off in stripping the solid limestone beds that lay below. The limestone is a tough, fine-grained, mottled, brown and gray rock, in tolerably heavy beds, which makes an excellent macadamizing material, and also affords a durable stone for culverts, bridge abutments and foundation walls. From what has already been stated it will be inferred that there is no great amount of coal accessible in this county, except by deep mining. In the thin seams outcropping at Murphy's place, near the Wabash River, and at Mr. Howe's and Mrs. Brant's, southeast of Casey, the coal varies in thickness from a foot to eighteen inches, and though of a fair quality the beds are too thin to justify working them except by stripping the seams along their outcrop in the creek valleys. The coal at Murphy's place has a good roof of bituminous shale and limestone, and could be worked successfully by the ordinary method of tunneling if it should be found to thicken anywhere to twenty-four or thirty inches. The higher seams found at the localities above named, southeast of Casey, are thinner than at Mr. Murphy's, though one or both of the upper ones are said to have a local thickness of eighteen inches. There is no good reason to believe that the main workable seams that are found outcropping in the adjacent portions of Indiana, should not be found by shafting down to their proper horizon in this county, notwithstanding the reported results of the oil-well borings in the northwestern portion of the county.

The writer specially requested Mr. David Baughman to furnish him with particulars of an artesian well sunk on his place in 1873-74 In reply he received the following in substance from Mr. Baughman: The well was sunk to a depth of 1,211 feet, and showed the following section: At a depth of 110 feet coal was reached, four and three quarter feet thick; two feet of fine clay was found underlying it. At the depth of 144 feet, a vein of coal three feet thick was found; and at the depth of 230 feet a vein of coal over seven feet in thickness was found, specimens of which, Mr. Baughman informs us, he has on hand, subject to the inspection of any who may wish to examine them. If there is no mistake in the reported section of this well, there are veins of coal to be found in that locality at a depth to justify their being profitably worked.

Building Stone.—Clark County is well supplied with both freestone and limestone suitable for all ordinary building purposes. The sandstone bed on Hurricane Creek, southeast of Martinsville, is partly an even-bedded freestone, that works freely and hardens on exposure and is a reliable stone for all ordinary uses. The abutments of the bridge over the North Fork on the o;d National Road were constructed of this sandstone, which is still sound, although more than thirty years have passed away since they were built. The sandstone bed overlying the limestone at the old Anderson mill below the mouth of Joe's Fork, also affords a good building stone, as well as material for grindstones, and the evenly'-bedded sandstone higher up on Joe's Fork, which overlies the green shales, is of a similar character, and affords an excellent building stone. Each of the three limestones in this county furnishes an excellent macadamizing material, and the Quarry Creek limestone, as well as the beds near Livingston, furnish dimension stone and material for foundation walls of good quality. A fair quality of quicklime is made from both the limestones above named, and on Quarry Creek the kilns are kept in constant operation to supply the demands for this article in the adjacent region.

An excellent article of white clay, suitable for pottery or fire-brick, was found in the shaft near Marshall, about eighty to eighty five feet below the Livingston limestone and about fifty feet above the coal in the bottom of the shaft, which was probably the same coal found at Murphy's. This bed of clay would probably be found outcropping in the Wabash bluffs, not far below Murphy's place.

Soil and Timber.—The soil is generally a chocolate-colored sandy loam, where the surface is rolling, but darker colored on the flat prairies, and more mucky, from the large per cent of humus which it contains. The prairies are generally of small size, and the county is well timbered with the following varieties: White oak, red oak, black oak, pine oak, water oak, shell-bark and pig-nut hickory, beech, poplar, black and white walnut, white and sugar maple, slippery and red elm, hackberry, linden, quaking ash, wild cherry, honey locust, red birch, sassafras, pecan, coffee-nut, black gum, white and blue ash, log-wood, redbud, sycamore, cotton wood, buckeye, persimmon, willow, etc. The bottom lands along the small streams, and the broken lands in the vicinity of the Wabash bluffs, sustain a very heavy growth of timber, and fine groves are also found skirting all the smaller streams and dotting the upland in the prairie region. As an agricultural region this county ranks among the best on the eastern border of the State, producing annually fine crops of corn, wheat, oats, grass, and all the fruits and vegetables usually grown in this climate. Market facilities are abundantly supplied by the Wabash River, the Vandalia, Wabash and other railroads passing through the county, furnishing an easy communication with St. Louis on the west, or the cities of Terre Haute and Indianapolis on the east, and Chicago on the north. Notwithstanding the fine character of the soil and lands of the county, much of the land has been almost worn thread-bare by constant cultivation, no rest, and no manuring or fertilizing. By proper means it may be improved, and restored to its original quality and strength.

In addition to the indications of coal, the county contains mineral wealth to some extent, though perhaps not in sufficient quantities to justify mining. ' At one time it was believed that silver existed here in considerable quantities, and the excitement occasioned thereby was, for a time, intense. The people nearly went wild, and lands supposed to be impregnated with silver were held at fabulous prices. But the most critical examination by experts showed that while silver actually existed in many places, it was in such a limited way as to be wholly unremunerative to even attempt to do anything toward mining. Further particulars of the silver excitement will be given in the township chapters.

Mounds.—Clark County abounds in mounds, relics of that lost race of people of whom nothing is definitely known. These mounds, the origin of which is lost in the mists of remote antiquity, and of which not even traditionary accounts remain, number about thirty in this county, and extend along the Wabash river, and at the edge of the prairie from near Darwin to below York, thence into Crawford county. They are of different sizes and shape, and some of them of considerable extent, ranging from ten to sixty feet in diameter, and from two to fifteen feet high. In early times they were much higher, having been worn and cut down by the cultivation of the land; indeed, some of them are almost if not entirely obliterated, while all, at least, have been more or less reduced in altitude. The largest is on the land of James Lanhead, near York, and one and a fourth miles from the river. This mound has been explored, and from its depths were taken stone hatchets, fragments of earthenware, arrow-heads, flints, etc. Several others have been opened of late years, with much the same results.

[ It has been pretty definitely settled by pre-historic writers, that these mounds were actually built by a race of people, and were of different kinds, viz.: temple mounds; mounds of defense; burial mounds; sacrificial mounds, etc., etc. See Part I of this work.—Ed. ] The countless hands that erected them; the long succession of generations that once inhabited the adjacent country, animating them with their labors, their hunting and wars, their songs and dances, have long since passed away. Oblivion has drawn her impenetrable veil over their whole history; no lettered page, no sculptured monument informs us who they were, whence they came, or the period of their existence. In vain has science sought to penetrate the gloom and solve the problem locked in the breast of the voiceless past, but every theory advanced, every reason assigned, ends where it began, in speculation.

" Ye moldering relics of departed years,
Your names have perished; not a trace remains,
Save where the grass-grown mound its summit rears
From the green bosom of your native plains
Say, do your spirits wear oblivion's chains?
Did death forever quench your hopes and fears?"

The antiquities of Clark County are similar to other portions of the State. Indian graves are not uncommon, especially in the vicinity of the mounds above described. Fragments of bones, and in one or two instances whole skeletons in a remarkable state of preservation have been found. Near Rock Hill church, on Union Prairie, in the year 1850, Jonathan Hogue, while digging a cellar and some postholes, discovered three stone-walled graves within a radius of a hundred feet, and about two feet beneath the surface, each containing the perfect skeleton of an adult person in a silting posture facing the sunrise. Flints, arrow-heads, etc., were also found in these graves. In other instances graves have been found, where the length from head to foot did not exceed four feet, and yet contained a skeleton of full stature. This, at first, gave rise to the belief that the skeletons of a race of pigmies had been discovered. But a more careful examination of the position of the bones showed that the leg and thigh bones laid parallel, and that the corpse had been buried with the knees bent in that position.

In natural advantages Clark County is inferior to none of her sister counties. She has her Dolson and Parker Prairies, arable and productive; her Rich woods, which are all the name implies; her Walnut and Union Prairies, the garden spots of Illinois. She has her river and creek bottoms, receiving their alluvial deposits from the annual overflows, rendering them inexhaustible in fertility. She has her barrens, capable of producing almost any product grown in this latitude. Has her hill country, that only awaits the sinking of the shaft and the light of the miner's lamp to reveal coal-beds of exceeding richness. Silver, too, has already been found in small quantities, at the mine already opened in Wabash township, by enterprising citizens, and there is no foretelling the possibilities. Petroleum exists in many parts of the county, and yet flows from the Young well, in Parker township. Capital will, at no distant future, explore the hidden depths, and compel it to become an important factor in the wealth and commerce of the county.

As a county, she is admirably adapted to the growth of all products peculiar to an excellent soil in this latitude. Corn grows luxuriantly, and yields abundantly; the various esculents attain perfection, and as a wheat and grass county, ranks among the foremost in the State. There is no portion of it but what is well adapted to the growth of large fruits, and within her limits are some very fine orchards. Small fruits, of all varieties common to the climate, seem indigenous to our soil, and with little care and attention return bounteous yields.

Stock raising is one of her great resources, and can be prosecuted with large profits. It is an industry that has rapidly increased since the advent of railroads, and one that is attracting attention and capital. And large areas of land, where once the crawfish raised his hillock, and the frog and the turtle held sway, now sustain herds of cattle and flocks of sheep.

The health of the county is inferior to none. With the exception of chills and fever along the miasmatic river and creek bottoms, there is but little sickness. Our county being a pleteau exceeding in elevation any adjoining counties, the atmosphere is naturally purer and more salubrious, and as a consequence, ths mortality among our people, in proportion to population, is as little as any county in the State. We have the purest water to be found anywhere. Living springs gush out in countless places, and nature's pure and wholesome beverage can be found anywhere for the digging. Our railroad advantages are first-class, abundantly able to accommodate all the wants of commerce. We have superior educational facilities, the efficiency of our school system being evidenced on every side; and the corps of teachers throughout the county, far above the average. Our people, as a class, are tetnperate, law abiding and industrious; and religious denominations with large followings flourish in country and town.

Clark is capable of supporting a dense population, and offers superior inducements to immigrants of all kinds. The farmer in search of a home, can purchase lands, improved or unimproved, at reasonable rates; the artisan can find employment for his skill, the laborer find employment, the professional man find business. There is room for ail.

Although Clark was one of the pioneer counties of the Wabash Valley, and although one of her towns at one time rivaled Terre Haute, yet she was among the last to receive within her territory one of those mighty arteries of commerce, a railroad.

For two decades or more her condition was that of inaction and stagnation. Owing to various disappointments in regard to the building of railroads through the county, men of skill and enterprise, as well as capital, left her to seek elsewhere locations more congenial and better adapted to active business pursuits. This centrifugal influence came very near depleting the county of the best part of her population. They went to places where the transportation facilities were equal to the wants of the people, and where years of their lives would not be spent in listless apathy.

She sat supinely by, after the failure and disappointment in her railroad projects, and saw the rushing trains speed across the domains of her sister counties, by far her juniors. Saw their uninterrupted course of prosperity; saw their lands rise rapidly in value—saw the smoke of their factories—heard the dull thunder of their mills. Saw them in the front rank of advancement, marching to the grand music of progress. Saw them double, even treble, her in wealth.

But things were changed as by some magician's power. When the first shriek of the locomotive awoke the echoes of her hills, and the rumble of the trains rolled across her prairies, old Clark arose, Phoenix like, from the ashes of her sloth, and like a young giant, shook off the lethargy that bound her; took up the line of march toward prosperity, and made gigantic strides toward the position she should occupy in modern progress. She was infused with new life, and capital and enterprise were attracted to her borders.

Her advancement has been almost phenomenal, and has far exceeded the anticipations of the most sanguine. Inaction gave way to energy, and lethargy to enterprise. Emigrants poured in, land and lots increased in value; farms were opened in every section, and industry flourished beyond precedent. Towns and villages sprang up as if by magic. Tidy farm-houses, neat and tasty school-houses, and churches, those surest indexes of prosperity and culture, and mighty promoters of all that is good, dotted the prairies and nestled in the uplands. Every department of business received an impetus powerful and lasting, and the trades flourished as they had never before. She entered upon an era of unprecedented prosperity. Improvements were visible on every hand. Where once solitude reigned, the hum and smoke of the mills fret and darken the air. Her future is indeed bright. She is grid-ironed with railroads and sieved with telegraphs, and the products of her fields reach an hundred marts. And when her immense agricultural and mineral resources are fully developed, old Clark will occupy a proud position in the galaxy of counties that compose this mighty State. Today, Clark stands side by side with her sister counties of the Wabash Valley, in agriculture and all its kindred associations. It on !y needs the active energy of her citizens to place her in the van, advancing as the years advance, until the goal of her ambition is reached.

Notes * The succeeding' chapters on the county at large, have been written and prepared by Hamilton Sutton, Esq., for this volume. —Ed.]

** State geological survey.

Transcribed and Contributed to Genealogy Trails by Friends for Free Genealogy


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