Crawford County, Illinois
Genealogy and History

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Deborah Canada Biography

May 10th, 1932
Aged Lady Honored By Townspeople of Hutsonville and Friends and Relatives of Illinois and Indiana.
Recalls Early Life of Pioneer in Indiana and Illinois in Interview By Argus Reporter.
Townspeople of Hutsonville and friends and relatives from Illinois and Indiana visited an aged frame house in Hutsonville, Tuesday, to honor the town’s most distinguished citizen, Deborah “Grandma” Canada, a little, white haired old lady, who had just reached her one hundredth milestone in life.
“Grandma” Canada sat in her room in an old oak rocker, smiling happily as she reached out her hand to greet each new visitor. Hutsonville people had planned to have a program in the church for “Grandma” but it was not believed she was strong enough for the exertion and excitement that would be called for. The women folk of the town baked a beautiful birthday cake, in which fifty eggs were used. And this with one hundred brightly burning candles was presented to the immensely pleased old lady. In the evening the band played softly a serenade for her.
For several days, previous to the anniversary, “Grandma” Canada had been visited by reporters, her picture and the news story concerning her have appeared in many large metropolitan papers.

Gave Argus Interview
A representative of the Robinson Argus visited the kindly old lady Sunday morning. She was hospitality itself as she bid the reporter enter the home in which she has lived for nearly eighty years.
When told by the reporter that he wished to secure facts for a news story she said that she would give him what information she could, but that she could not think of anything about her life that would interest readers of newspapers.
She sat in her rocking chair and answered questions, occasionally volunteering bits of early history as she remembered it. When the reporter had finished he asked if he might take a picture of her. She agreed even in the extent of walking outside the house, although it cost her an effort.

Still Alert
The little lady, though barely five feet high and weighing probably not more than ninety pounds still retains some of the vast store of vitality and alertness that must have been hers to have preserved her through the 100 years. She sleeps fairly well, likes to eat and likes to see and talk with people.
And people talking with “Grandma” Canada never have to cast about for a subject for conversation. She has a fair knowledge of modern activities and if one wants history well she had a century of it tucked away in her brain. Just to mention a few high spots in history that occurred in her life time: The administration of Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the United States, the Gold Rush, the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency and the assassination of Lincoln, the first railroad in Crawford county and many other interesting historical facts.

Born in Terre Haute
She was born in Terre Haute, the daughter of Thomas Spencer, who had immigrated to Indiana from Virginia. Her father had served in the War of 1812 with Great Britain and while she was yet a little girl, the government rewarded her father with a pension and forty acres of land in Clark County. As a consequence, the family moved to take up the new land in Clark county and a log house was erected south of Marshall near where the state highway is routed today.
Here Deborah grew to womanhood, attending short terms in subscription schools, attending the occasional parties of the neighborhood, going either horseback or if in winter in a sleigh filled with young people.
She met and was married to William Canada in 1852 and soon after they moved to Hutsonville, where Canada secured work in a flourmill. At that time Hutsonville was little more than a trading center along the Wabash with three of four stores and a boat landing.
Remembers Red Man
She remembers when Indians lived in this territory while they hunted, fished and traded with the whites. While living in Hutsonville she remembers when Indians passed through the little settlement on their way to the Middle West by order of the government. These Indians were friendly and peaceful as a whole, although there were still people in the community who recalled the Hudson massacre during the war of 1812 when a family of that name was entirely wiped out by Indians.
In those days she said, if turkey was wanted for Sunday dinner the husband took his “muzzle loader” from above the door and walked a piece out back of the house. Presently there would be a muffled report and soon back would come the husband bearing a fat wild turkey.
When she was a girl deer was still numerous here and people even used their hides to help pay taxes. Wolves were only to numerous and sheep raisers trained dogs to keep them away from the flocks at night. Fur bearing animals were plentiful and trapping & fur trading was the occupation of many.
In those early days the Wabash River was navigable and paddle wheeled steamboats and barges filled the river. Until the railroad nearly all commerce was conducted by water or covered wagon.
She remembers the civil war although her husband was not taken because of weak lungs. It was the time of “Copperheads” and “Knights of the Golden Circle”.
The first railroad, known as the Wabash Valley, was built southwest from Danville through this county was a source of wonder to people of this section. It heralded the beginnings of a new era in the Illinois territory.
When asked if other members of her family lived to old age she said that none had lived as old as she, and that her husband who had always been rather sickly had died at the age of 72 years. He has now been dead 28 years.
Of nine children, only three are living. They are Cora Lee Gill, 65, of Hutsonville: Charley Canada, 78, of West Terre Haute, Indiana: Estelle Buckner, 76, Shelby, Montana.
Grandma Canada is not distressed with the modern fast rate of living. She is calm and philosophic. Though she regrets she cannot walk as well as she could, she enjoys living.
When being photographed, the reporter told her, “Grandma, when you are 150 years old we are coming back to take your picture again”
“All right,” said Grandma Canada. “Ill let you take it”

Submitted by Sandy Cirullo -- Deborah died Jan 1st, 1935. Her parents were Thomas Spencer b. circa 1794 in KY, and Sarah Preston b. circa 1804.

Canada Family
Canada Family Picture
Submitted by Sandy Cirullo
The last name which was originally Kennedy [1860 census has Kennedy].
In the 1880 census it is spelled Cannaday. The daughter Margaret, married Silas York.

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