Illinois Genealogy Trails History Group

Clark County Illinois
Genealogy and History


Chapter 14


The History of Crawford and Clark County
W. H. Perrin, O. L. Baskin & Co., 1883

Transcribed by Kevin Ortman and Barbara Z.



" As goes Wabash, so goes the county."
WABASH is the largest township in Clark County, being nearly as large as the State of Rhode Island, at least it contains about seventy-two sections of land, and had a population, by the census of 1880, of 3,375 souls. In all elections of importance, Wabash is considered the pivot upon which the county turns, and the candidate who is successful in securing the vote of Wabash, generally considers his election sure. Hence, it has grown into a saying: "As goes Wabash, so goes the county," and to carry the township, a candidate leaves no stone unturned.

The surface of Wabash township is generally broken and hilly. The "Wet Woods" extend through the central part, from the Wabash River, and were originally flat and wet. The land, however, has been cleared and drained, and is now quite productive. The principal water-courses are, Big Creek, with its numerous tributaries. Crooked Creek, Clear Creek, Turkey branch, etc., all of which flow in a general southeast course to the Wabash River, which just barely touches the southeast corner of the township. Originally the land was heavily timbered, and oak, hickory walnut, ash, elm, hackberry, and other species common to this section, grew there. The creek bottom lands contained plenty of walnut. The township is bounded on the north by Edgar County; on the east by the State of Indiana; on the south by Darwin township, and on the west by Marshall and Douglas townships. Wabash has been thought to be rich in mineral wealth. In an early day silver was discovered here; a fact that created considerable excitement at one time. A company was formed for the purpose of investigating the matter. The precious metal was actually found, but not in sufficient quantities to justify working the localities where it exists. Coal also is found and is mined to some extent.

The settlement of Wabash township dates back to 1816. The Black family is believed to have been the first actual settlers. They located in the southeast part and were originally from Kentucky, but had settled in Knox County, Ind., about the year 1810. They lived in a fort there as a protection against the Indians. As the dangers from Indians became less, they moved to Shaker Prairie, where they lived for three years and then came to this township, and located as above described. Mr. Black was a man of considerable prominence and energy. He improved a good farm, and died about 1824. He had several sons, viz.: John, William, James, Joseph and Thomas, all of whom were men of more or less influence in the community. They acquired large tracts of land which is still in possession of the family. Richard Armstrong came here with the Blacks and was also from Kentucky. He settled in the same locality and built a little cabin. He raised the first wheat grown in the township, and some of his neighbors used to call him "stuck up" because he could have wheat bread, while they had to eat " corn dodgers." It was said that Armstrong could eat two dozen eggs at a single meal, and was often called the " champion egg-eater." He was a very religious man, a minister of the Presbyterian church, and was considered so honest, that it became a saying: " As honest as old Dickey Armstrong." He died in 1818, in the township.

The Peerys, Kuykendalls, Hawks and Joel Cowen came also in 1816. Samuel Peery was from Ohio, and was a relation of Commodore Perry, but from reason had changed his name from Perry to Peery. He improved a large farm and was quite a stock-raiser and trader. Several brothers came about the same time. Peery was a wheelwright, and used to make spinning wheels for the settlers. Mr. Kuykendall still has one of his wheels in liis possession. He died in 1832 from a cancer in his face. Kuykendall came here from Vincennes, but was originally from Kentucky. He was a man of energy and accumulated some property. He was a very religious man, and took an active interest in the improvement of society. He died in 1825, and has a nephew, William Kuykendall still living here. Cowen settled on Big Creek. He was from Ohio, and acquired considerable land. John Sikes now lives on the place of his original settlement He died twenty-three years ago. The Hawks, Joseph and Isaac, located in the river settlement. Joseph became a large land-owner, and died about 1844. Isaac moved a little further north, where he improved a farm, and where he died some thirty years ago.

In 1817, Hugh Henderson and Jesse Esery were added to the settlement. Henderson located in the river settlement, and was a great hunter. He built a horse mill, the first mill in the township, previous to 1827. It was on Section 30 on the Darwin road. Esery first settled in Palestine, remaining there a few years and then came here and settled on Big Creek, wliere Joe Cook now lives. He married Hannah Foster, and lived hero until about 1837, when he sold out to a Mr. Musgrave and moved to Missouri.

James McCabe came from Tennessee, and located on "Walnut Prairie, where he remained for a short time, then moved upon Big Creek about two miles north of Livingston. He there built a cabin, but lived in his wagon until his cabin was completed. It was a small affair 16x16 feet, no floor nor chimney, and a rather uncomfortable habitation. He set out the first orchard in the township, cleared a small farm, and then commenced preaching. He was of the Methodist persuasion, and his residence was long a place for holding meetings. He sold out to Zachariah Hassell and moved to Grand Prairie, but afterward back to the township. He died in 1862. Henry Shackton also settled in the town-hip this year, a half a mile north of Livingston, where he erected a little hut, without floor or fireplace. He was from Kentucky, and was a shiftless, good-natured kind of fellow, who lived mostly by hunting. He finally "went down the river " as a boat hand, while his wife wont along as cook on the boat. A man named Sheets settled near the river in 1819, and had a ferry for several years. Thomas Thompson, from Kentucky, settled in the south part of the township the same year, and improved a farm. James Cox settled on the Blaze place. He was a great hunter and trapper, and finally moved off up the creek. Jonathan Wiley settled where George Davidson now lives. He spent most of his time in summer hunting bees, and in winter hunting game. He was a daring man, and about 1835, followed the game westward.

Jonathan Hicklin, an early settler of Wabash Township was a character, and an excellent specimen of the frontiersman. He was a native of Virginia, but went to Kentucky in the days of Daniel Boone, with whom he became well-acquainted. He acted as spy in the Indian wars of Kentucky, and was in many fights with the savages. In 1813 he came to Indiana, having married in Woodford County, Ky., and located near Carlisle, where he lived for about nine years. He was a great hunter, like most of the early settlers of the Wabash valley, and being out on an extended hunt, he came through this section, and liking the land, selected a home on Big Creek in a romantic spot on a high bluff, where he built a cabin 16x20 feet. After getting it roofed, he hired a man to finish it while he went back after his family. When he returned, he found his cabin unfinished, and had to move into it without floor or fireplace, and with the cracks between the logs open. In this condition he moved into it between Christmas and New Year's, and the weather was, at the time cold and disagreeable. Three large stones were set up against the wall for a fire-place, and an opening made for the smoke to escape through the roof. He lived with the Indians a good part of the time, hunted and traded with them, and go along with them in peace and harmony. Once a lot of Big Creek roughs sought to drive him out of the country, by inciting the Indians against him. They cut off the ears of the Indian's ponies, shaved their tails, and Inking the hair and severed ears to Hicklin's put them through a crack into his cabin, that suspicion might be directed to him. As soon as he discovered them in the morning, he divined the purpose of the perpetrators of the deed, and at once gathered them up, took them to the Indians camp and told them the circumstances, and who he suspicioned of having done it. The Indians were aroused, and the roughs who had intended to involve Hickslin in trouble with the savaoges found themselves whipped with their own weapons, and were forced to seek safety in making themselves scarce for a while.

Hicklin was supposed to be connected in some way with counterfeiting, though nothing was known definitely, that would seriously implicate him, or give the law a hold on him. One ground of suspicion against him was, that he always had money, and yet never worked for it. An incident is related, which would seem to indicate his knowledge of the manufacture of the "queer." A man went to him one day and wanted to borrow one hundred dollars with which to enter some land. Hicklin said: "Wait until ten o'clock to-morrow and I will let you have it." The next day at ten o'clock the mail returned, and received from Hicklin the required amount in new silver half dollars. Hicklin followed hunting until his eyesight failed him. He died long ago at the age of 106 years, the oldest man ever in the county.

In the year 1822, the settlement was increased by the arrival of James Lovelace, Samuel Elam, Lindly Ashmore, William Ashmore, Martin Graves and Henry Taylor. Lovelace, Elam and the Ashmores, came together, and were from Kentucky. They settled on the creek, south of Livingston, and built small cabins, spending most of their time hunting. When the land was entered they moved away, but afterward entered lands on the creek in the south part of the township. Graves came from Virginia to Ohio when a small boy and when grown, came here on foot, with a knapsack on his back containing his earthly all. He selected a place in Wabash township, built a cabin and married Polly McCabe, thus setting an example worthy of imitation by all young men. He is still living, and can tell many stories of hunting, in the early times. Taylor was a native of Pennsylvania, and when very young was brought to Ohio, the family afterward moved to Slicker Prairie, Ind. He came here and settled in the south part of the township, and hired to Hicklin to clear land for him. He took a lease to clear up the school land, and afterward bought land. At Hicklin's death he bought the place upon which he had lived. He died in 1878, but his widow, who was Jane Hicklin, is still living. Abraham Washburn came from Tennessee and settled in the central part of the township. He was an herb doctor and quite an eccentric character. William Wood settled on the creek. He was an intelligent man, and a zealous member of the Presbyterian church.

James Plasters, a native of Virginia, settled in this township in 1831. We make the following extract from a sketch written by himself : "I, James Plasters, wish to leave to my family, an account of my ancestors. My grandfather, on my fathers side, Michael Plasters, was a native of Germany, being born on the river Rhine, and was called 'High Dutch.' He emigrated to the colonies of North America about the first of the year, 1730, and settled in what is now known as Chester County, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, and married an English lady. My father, Henry Plasters, was born in the year 1760, and in the year 1770, my grandfather moved to Loudoun County, Va., and at the age of 16, my father entered the army. He was present, and assisted at the capture of the Hessians at Trenton, N. J.; served in the Revolutionary army four years. I was born June 3, 1791, and served in the war of 1813. I witnessed the burning of the Capitol by the British, and was at Fort McHenry at the time it was bombarded by the British fleet. I was married to Hannah Massey, December 3, 1815, in Loudoun County, and raised a family of three sons and four daughters. Moved from Loudoun County, and settled in Clark County, Illinois, in April, 1831. In the month of August, 1832, at a camp-meeting held by the Cumberland Presbyterians on Big Creek, I was converted, and became a member of that denomination. Being dissatisfied with their confession of faith, I severed my connection by letter, on the Christmas following, and united with the Methodist church, at Livingston, and have remained a member ever since. Was au active member of that church for over thirty years, until age and infirmities prevented me. Have served it to the best of my ability, in the several capacities of steward, class leader and trustee, and was for a time, superintendent of its Sabbath school. And now I am calmly awaiting the summons of my Master, to depart for the better world." Mr. Plasters died October 25, 1882, and was buried in the Livingston cemetery. The following of his children are still living: William Plasters, residing in Missouri, aged 64 years; Henry Plasters, Marshall, aged 63 years; Samuel Plasters, Washington Territory, aged 62 years; and Mrs. T. A. Catron, Champaign County, this State, aged 55 years.

Alexander McGregor, a Scotchman, was a contractor on tlie National Road. He afterward purchased 600 acres of land, two mil's east of Livingston, and opened a large farm. He was a prominent man, a bachelor, whose sister lived with him. He was noted for his honesty, which was proverbial. He married in later years. Andrew Dunlap came here in 1832, from Tennessee and settled on the State line. His residence was in Clark County, and his barn and stables in Indiana. He built a log house, and kept a hotel, which was long known as the " State line House." He moved to Terre Haute a few years ago. John W. West and Henry Hutchinson were settlers in the township. West was from Ohio, and Hutchinson from Virginia. Isaac Rhodes came from Kentucky to Vincennes, in 1820. He settled in Wabash township shortly after, and commenced flat-boating on the Wabash River. He would load a flatboat with hickory poles and take them to New Orleans, and then return to Shawneetown, Ill., on a steamboat, and on foot from there home. He is still living. Joseph Malcom and Allison Crews were also early settlers. They were from Tennessee. Malcom had a mill above Rhodes, and kept a ferry. Crews was an early school teacher.

Jacob Long was a son-in-law of Peery, and settled on what is known as the " Glover Farm." He sold to Glover and went to Wisconsin and died soon after. Once when his wife was sick he walked to Vincennes and back in two days after coffee, because his wife expressed a wish for a cup of coffee. He paid sixty cents—all the money he had — for half a pound. He was the first man in the neighborhood who paid money for harvest hands. Hitherto it had been the custom to get a jug of whisky and the neighbors gather together and help each other in their harvests. Long was severely censured for breaking through a "flood old custom." The settlement of the township after 1830, rapidly increased; people came in, several families together, and the best land was soon all entered. Game was plenty when the first whites came, and, as we have said, many of the settlers were great hunters—in fact, a number of them did but little else, and when game began to thin out they left for new hunting grounds. There were a few bears several were killed in the township—and deer were very plenty, also wolves. The latter preyed upon the pigs to such an extent that hog-raising, for a good many years, was an uncertain business, and not at all profitable. Bee-hunting was a regular employment. A great many people followed it successfully. The honey and bees-wax were lecal tender for all kinds of merchandise. Ginseng was another staple article, often selling at twenty-five cents a pound. Maple sugar was long a valuable industry; it sold in Terre Haute and Vincennes readily, and always commanded cash prices, and in those days it was about all the settler had that would sell for cash. The people took to market deer- skins, tallow, hams, etc. Hams sold for one dollar a pair.

For several years after, white people came to this county, there were plenty of Indians, as elsewhere noted. They were mostly Miamis and Kickapoos, and were friendly. Their camps were on Big Creek, and though never harming the whites, they would frequently get on their ponies and ride through the woods in a gallop whooping and yelling on purpose to frighten their pale-face neighbors, and then enjoy their scare amazingly. An old Indian once came to Mr. Esery and wanted to stay all night himself, and bring his squaw and papoose, who he said were sick. Mr. Esery consented, and the old Indian went after his squaw and papoose, and brought forty Indians with him. This was a larger number than Esery had agreed to entertain, but there was nothing for him but to "grin and bear it." He put them in his cellar, which was a very large one, and they remained there during the night, keeping up a great noise, but doing no harm to any one. Another incident is told of an Indian who, while drunk undertook to whip his squaw, but she made battle at him. The Indians formed a circle around them, and would not let anyone interfere, while she pummeled him until he hollered " enough," when they were separated.

The state of society in Wabash Township from twenty-five to fifty years ago was scarcely what it is now. There were many rough characters here then; many who would stop at nothing lawless if it sub-served their own ends. The people, of course, were not all of this rough element, in fact the large majority were honest, upright men and law-abiding citizens. The following incident, however, will illustrate the worst phase of society at that early day: There was a harmless old lady named Bogue and her son, Harrison Bogue, who were Quakers, and who owned a small piece of land. Bogue was a harmless, ignorant man, but industrious. A couple of men, their near neighbors, concluded to run them off, and at the same time get their land, and what little property they had besides. To effect this they set fire to a small unoccupied building near by and burned it to the ground, and then informed Bogue that the people of the neighborhood believed that he, Bogue had burned it; that there was strong circumstantial evidence, and he would most likely be imprisoned for it. They, as friends, advised him to flee the country and leave his property in their hands to dispose of, promising to do so and send him the proceeds. So effectually did they frighten Bogue and his mother that they left the neighborhood and the State under cover of darkness, being conveyed to Terre Haute by one of the men. The absence of the couple excited suspicion, and their personal effects being found in possession of two men, whose reputation was none of the best, only added fuel to the fire. A strict search was made for the bodies of Bogue and his mother, as all believed they had been murdered. At least two hundred people were engaged in the search. Threats of arrest frightened the guilty parties into an attempt to escape. They were apprehended at Terre Haute, but one of them made his escape from his captors and reached Brazil where he was recaptured. They were lodged in jail, admitted to bail and finally acquitted. Bogue and his mother were found near Indianapolis and brought back home and their property restored to them.

The subject of politics has always interested the people of the township, and they have deemed it their duty as free-born American citizens, to exercise all the rights and franchises of the same. An amusing incident is related of a turn-out from Wabash township to Marshall, once during an interesting political canvass. It consisted of a kind of commercial procession, wagons on which all kinds of work was being done. A man named Pickens, a citizen of Wabash, who was gifted with all the notes of the rooster, and could crow so like a Shanghai as to astonish one of the genuine breed, was placed in a large box, the box fastened on a long pole, and it securely planted on one of the wagons. A real live rooster was secured upon the box, with a string around his neck, which Pickens held in his hand, securely hidden in his box. Every few moments Pickens would crow, and at the same time pull his string which would move the rooster's head, and thus create the impression that it was the rooster that was doing the crowing. The actual crower was not discovered until the procession was over.

The first mill in the township was a horse-mill built by Hugh Henderson, which has already been alluded to. A man named Durell, who had settled in the south part of the township in 1833, built a water-mill a short time afterward on Big Creek. He operated it some two years, when he died, and the mill was sold to a man named Hogue. After this it changed hands several times, and finally became the property of a Mr. Keiser. A sawmill had been added, and Keiser, during high water, would load flat-boats with lumber, run them out into the Wabash Kiver, and thence to New Orleans. The mill, in after years, was washed away, or so damaged by high water as to render it useless. Horace Ritchie built a steam saw and grist mill two miles east of Livingston. It was a two-story frame building, 20x60 feet; had two run of buhrs, saw, sash saw, etc. Ritchie sold it to Welsh and he sold it to Rufus Neal. The latter, after operating it a few years, moved the machinery to Marshall, and it is now used in a mill there. The "Darwin Road," as it was called, leading from Darwin to Paris, was the first public road laid out through the township. It was viewed out by David Wyrick, Henry Taylor and Stephen Archer, and intersected the National Road at Livingston. The Terre Haute road passed through in a southeasterly course, and was "viewed" out in 1830 by W. B. Woods, Goldberry and Dunlap. The old National Road also passed through the township.

Villages.—As work progressed on the National Road a number of houses were put up along the line of the improvement thus going on. David Wyrick came from Indiana in 1849 and settled where the Darwin and Livingston roads crossed. He came here in a wagon, and was five weeks on the road. He built a cabin and blacksmith shop, and worked at horseshoeing and fixing plows. He was joined, the next year, by Robert Ferguson, who was his brother-in-law, and was also from Indiana. Deeming this an eligible site, he entered the land and laid out the town of Livingston. It is located on the west half of the southwest quarter of section 9, township 11 north, range 11 west, and put the lots on the market. Among the first families who settled here, were James Twilley, Rufus Brown, Jacob Cline, Joseph Bavis, John Bavis, Eli Bavis, James Dixon, David Bucklin and a man named Winds. Mr. Winds opened a store, and by means of a great deal of wind, soon worked up a large trade. He brought goods from Louisville and Cincinnati in wagons, before the iron horse had crossed the prairies of Indiana. A large part of his trade was to the hands working on the National Road, and while it was in course of construction he had a big trade. Soon after work ceased on the road he closed out his store. A second store was established, in 1833. by a man named Eversoll. He also hauled his goods from Louisville, and kept a good stock for that early period. He erected a brick building on the north side of the National Road, one and a half stories high and 20x40 feet in size. He carried on a store for thirteen years, and then sold to a man of the name of Hutchinson. In 1833 Ferguson erected the two-story frame building where Mrs. Cline now lives. He started a store in one room of it, which he operated some time and then sold out to one Murphy, who had come here from Darwin with a small stock of goods. Murphy put up a building east of Ferguson building, and sold goods for twelve or fifteen years. McGath then bought him out and continued the business until 1851, when he wound up.

David Wyrick erected a large two story frame hotel in 1833, on the corner of Main Street. The building was put up under contract, by a man named Kibby, and the lumber for it was all sawed with a whip-saw, by Wiley and Levi Cline. Wyrick kept the hotel until 1845, when he sold it and moved one mile south of town. The house did a good business, and was long a favorite stopping place. Twilley also built a tavern, on the corner opposite Wyrick, which he kept for about twelve years. He kept a " grocery " (a saloon) in connection with his tavern, and " the boys " used to have high old times there, occasionally. Ferguson, after he sold out his store opened a tan yard in the south part of town, and kept a leather store in a room of the building on the north side of the street. He worked several men and did a large business. In 1861 he sold out to Hunt, who carried it on several years, when he died. His widow married James Blackman, and continued the business until a few years ago.

Livingston became quite a business point. and was the center of a large trade. Society was not as good as in some other places, and mixed up with the business of the town was a good deal of deviltry, committed by the more ungodly of the population. The town grew rapidly for a number of years, and during the agitation at different times upon the subject of moving the county seat, Livingston entered into the contest, and became a rival for capital honors. When Marshall was finally selected as the "permanent " seat of justice, Livingston began to decline in prosperity, and year by year lost much of its wonted energy.

A Masonic lodge was organized here in 1867. Among the charter members were Jacob Fishback, James Haddon, Jacob Patton, Adison Robinson, T. L. Orendorff and John "Walker. The present officers are: A. Robinson, master; Henry Haslett, senior warden; James Snyder, junior warden; D. M. Bell, Secretary; L. F. Weaver, treasurer; and Alfred Wyrick, tiler. The lodge has a membership of thirty, and owns its own hall, which was built some twelve years ago. The village of McKeen was laid out in 1870, by Francis Jones, Volney Chapin and Fred Elmdorf, on the south part of the northeast quarter of the northeast quarter, and the north part of the southeast quarter of the northeast quarter, and part of the southwest quarter of the northeast quarter of section 27, township 13 and range 11 west. Chapin & Jones erected a large steam factory. They bought an extensive tract of land for the timber, and employed some hundred men or more. They made staves, sawed lumber, etc. John Foreman, had a store which he operated about two years, and then sold it to Jones & Chapin. He had a large stock of goods, valued at $20,000. The mill and factory brought many families to the village to get work in them. They run the mill and factory about seven years, then sold it to a man named Clutter, who moved the machinery away. The place at the present time has three stores, one tile kiln, a few shops, and about one hundred inhabitants.

A Masonic lodge was established in 1878, with the following charter members: H. M. Griswold, R. M. Conover, Chas. Larrabee, W. W; Wilson, J. W. Brenaman, J. R. Dow, M. T. Rollings, Jos. Rollings, P. Benallack, D. H. Smith and several other well-known citizens. H. M. Griswold was the first master; R. M. Conover, senior warden, and R. R. Trimble, junior warden.

Dennison Village was laid out in 1871, by Lyman Booth, on the northwest quarter of the northeast quarter of section 26, township 12, and range 11, west. Booth and Dulaney established a large manufacturing establishment to work up the timber, and employed fifty hands. They manufactured spokes and wagon material principally. It was in operation about five years and was then moved to Kentucky, on the Cumberland River. Booth & Dulaney carried on a large store in connection with their business, and sold a great many goods. John Bernard also had a store, and erected a two story house on Main street, near the depot. Blinn & Daggett had a saw-mill, which they operated two years, when they moved it away. A. Valker started a drug store, which he has carried on ever since. There are two stores, several shops, and a dozen or two dwellings. The first school taught in what is now Wabash Township, Mr. Kuvkondall says, was in 1820, and was taught in the southeast part of the township, on the Darwin Road. John Crews was the teacher, and afterward Johnson and Jerry Lycan taught at the same place. It was also a place of early religious meetings. Among the pioneer ministers, who used to proclaim the won! of God there, may be mentioned. Revs. Whitney, Blackburn, Young, Howe, Taylor, Proctor and Curry Another of the early schools was taught by Otto Davis, in 1830, in a small deserted cabin, just south of Livingston. He was a good teacher for that day, and taught several terms in the township. James Yokum taught at the same place, but was a dissipated fellow. He afterward taught in Livingston. The first house built for school purposes, was near the Durell mill in 1833. It was a log structure and was built by the neighbors. A man named Callaster taught the first school in it. The second school-house was built on the Taylor farm, in the southeast part of the township. Benjamin Boles taught in this house, but was a good, easy kind of a fellow and fond of his toddy. Stephen Archer was also an early teacher.

Wabash Township is well supplied with churches. Just where or when the first church society was organized we did not learn. Among the church organizations, are Black Chapel in the southeast part of the township. Union Baptist church, the Methodist churches at Livingston and Dennison villages, and several others in different parts of the township. The Union Baptist church was organized at the Lowe school-house on Crooked Creek, in 1856. The members in the south part of the township split off and formed an independent organization and built a church edifice. A Methodist church was organized at the Blundell school-house, and during the war the organization became divided on political issues, which led to a split, and the organization of a Methodist Episcopal Church South. Both societies grew somewhat lukewarm, and in 1879, the old church was reorganized by Rev. J.W. Lapham, and is now known as Mount Gilead church.

Through the negligence or indifference of those who should be interested in preserving their church history, we have been enabled to obtain but few facts, and must close the chapter with this meager sketch of the churches.


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