Reader Contributions

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Mary Ellen Faulkner and her husband Levi C. Boatman

c. 1875

contributed by Dave Boatman

David Faulkner's Early Pioneer Days

as told by David Faulkner to the editor of the Owen County [Indiana]
Register and published in that newspaper. Contributed to IL Trails by Dave Boatman (
source #63).

David Folkner was born January 7, 1811, in Wythe county, Virginia where I resided with my parents until 10 years of age, when I removed to Sullivan county, East Tennessee. After remaining there two years my parents bought land in Scott county, Virginia and moved upon it. I lived with them until I was 23 years old; when I took a notion to marry, and on the 12th of September, 1833, was married to Celia Ann Grizzle. As the parents of both were opposed to the match we eloped, she taking no clothing except what she had on. After purchasing her a new calico dress and procuring the license we went to a Methodist preacher who was about moving to Illinois, were married, and went with him as members of his family, having at that time but $12 with which to begin life. Came through Spencer, which at that time was a small village, and when as far out as Coles county, Illinois, were compelled to stop on account of the severe cold weather. The minister here rented a cabin which was so small that we had to strike out for ourselves. We rented a little cabin three-quarters of a mile, north of Charleston, bought a blanket, some tow linen to make a bed tick, a skillet, coffee pot, half a set of knives, tea cups and plates, and went to keeping house. Stayed there until spring, catching rabbits and prairie chickens, when a man got me to move on his farm half a mile east of town. I had everything furnished, and tended the farm giving one-third of the crop as rent. I made considerable that year, and in 1834 William Grizzle and myself leased thirty acres, cut and hauled logs and built houses for ourselves, made rails and fenced our land, and got ten acres broke and planted. In July we took the ague and had it all summer, when we became discouraged having shaken nearly everything we had into the doctor's hands, and sold what little we had left for an old mare and an old one-horse carriage, and all started back to Virginia. We came as far as Spencer, where we had to stop for want of means. We met with old Joseph Withem here, and stayed with him till spring, when we sold our horse and carriage for $12 in trade, and went to what is known as Flinn's spring, and located on Congress land. I cut logs, and Grizzle and myself carried them and built each of us a house. During the day we would make rails for people at 25 cents per hundred; and at night we would clear land for ourselves. We cleared about two acres apiece and raised corn on it one year. I bought him out in the fall, and in December a man entered me out, and never said pay, nor hasn't yet. This made me a little mad, and I resolved that the next Congress land I went to would be my own, so in March, I hired a yoke of oxen, and moved up into town 11, to old Mr. Allen's who was sheriff of the county at the time. I moved into a cabin out in the woods, and stayed there until the fall, working some for Mr. Allen at 30 cents per day, and some for old Mr. Freeland clearing land in the green woods: and would sometimes leave my wife and two children for a week at a time and work for Mr. Sammuel W. Dunn getting out timbers for a house on his farm above town. I also worked for Mr. Dunn in harvest, for 50 cents per day and that year laid up $30 besides supporting my family. I was determined to make my word good and own a house of my own but lacked $20 of having money enough to enter 40 acres of land, so in September I went to Mr. Allen and asked him to loan me what I lacked. He made me no reply, but went to his bed and got a stocking about as long as my arm, which was full of silver, and counted me the money telling me to send by mail and enter the land, and when I got able I could pay him. I thanked him and did as he said. I came to Spencer and got George Dignan to send my money, and I entered a homestead. I had to build a house and get ready for winter, which I did. I had no horses, cows, hogs, and in fact nothing else but a wife and two children; but I felt as big as the man did who entered me out, so I went to work in good spirits, having to earn what we lived on that winter. I had nothing to raise my corn with so I concluded to crop with Sol Aley. But he had no horse nor anything to farm with, so he bought an old blind horse, we got two old shovels and welded them together, got an old shuck collar and a pair of hames, made traces out of ropes, and raised a fine of corn of about six or seven acres. I bought two cows from S. W. Dunn for which I paid $40 in work, cutting wood at 25 cents per cord, and mowing grass at 50 cents a day, and afterwards traded them for a mare from which I raised a colt. I cleared ground at night and at odd spells, to raise corn and wheat on, and sold wheat to Mr. Allison for 25 cents a bushel, and sold hogs for $1.50 net. I got some in debt to Digman, and gave him my note, which he sold where he bought goods, and when it was sent out for collection I had no money, but stayed it, and before the stay run out I got the money and went to pay off the judgement, but Digman told me to let him have the money and he would pay it for me. He used the money and came to me for the amount, and I had to let them have the last work horse, I had to pay the debt. I then left my wife to shift for herself about four months and went to New Albany. While on the road I got a felon on my thumb, and being among strangers I was obliged to work some, so I got an ax and went to chopping cord wood at $1 per cord, all of which was required to pay my board and washing. My thumb would hurt so bad I thought sometimes it would come off. I went on to New Albany and entered the service of the United States on a snag boat, and worked three months taking snags out of the Mississippi river, for which I received $20 per month. After being discharged I came back to old Owen, and went to clearing land and farming. I made one trip to New Orleans on a flat boat for old Mr. Isaacs and Messer Secrest. During the trip we run our boat into a drift, and although we worked hard to keep it out Mr. Secrest affirmed that it was "right where he wanted it". I got $30 for that trip and came back, but having got in debt, I sold my 40 acres to get out, and to buy more land. I paid my debts, bought 40 acres and entered 40 acres. I worked on, cleared land of nights, made wood choppings and log rollings, and assisted my neighbors as much as they did me. I went to twenty-six choppings and rollings in one spring; could lift as much then as any of them, and was the best man at sport at night. I had 80 acres of land and then bought 80 more, which I finally succeeded in getting well fenced and over 100 acres of it cleared. My wife died January 26, 1856, leaving me with twelve children - seven girls and three boys. I was then like somebody lost; everything about the house and farm seemed to be going to loss, so I sought another companion, and on the 8th of February, 1857, I married Mary Ann Clark, who is still living and by whom I have had seven children - three boys and four girls, the youngest being 3 now years old. My children are all living except the oldest boy by my first wife and the oldest boy by my second wife. The children by my first wife are all married except two, who are still at home. Some of my children are in Texas, some in Virgo, some in Sullivan, and some in this county. If anybody has succeeded in raising as large a family of children as I have, with as little of this world's goods to begin with, I would like to hear from them. My opportunities for getting an education were limited, as three weeks is all that I ever attended school, and all the learning I got was what I picked up after I was grown. I began without anything, and from nothing still nothing remains.

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