Jasper County, Illinois Land Sale History
Newton Press, August 9, 1927
©Transcribed by Kim Torp
First Land Sold in 1820
South Muddy Tract Sold by Government 107 Years Ago
April 7, 1820 saw the sale of the first land in what is now Jasper county, then Crawford. This piece in South Muddy, now owned by Lon Birch and Ruie K. Barlow was deeded to Ledwin B. Lewis at the above mentioned date. It cannot be ascertained positively but it is thought that the purchase was made at the Palestine Land office for $1.00 or $1.25 per acre for the forty acre tract lying near the Richland county line. The next man to purchase land was William Evermon, who settled on the mound that bears his name. Joseph Picquet in 1837 was the largest buyer of government land purchasing thousands of acres at one time, October 7.
Other buyers at an early date were:
Ledwin B. Lewis 1820; William Everman 1823; Richard Eaton 1828; Thomas Garwood 1830; Lewis W. Jourdan 1831; Benjamin Murphy 1831; Bushrod W. Harris 1831; David Phillips 1831; David Murvin 1831; William Price 1831; Absolem Eaton 1831; Benjamin Lamm 1832; David Boyd 1832; Daniel Parker 1832; Amos Phelps.
Reminiscence of the Early Days in Jasper
by W.H. Wade
for the Newton Weekly Press, printed May 20, 1875
©Transcribed by Kim Torp
Greenville, Plumas Co., Cal., April 15, 1875
Ed. Press: You will pardon me for troubling you with the following. I will attempt to give you a reminiscence of early days in Jasper. Horace Greeley used to write articles on agriculture and tell what he knew about fine-cut tobacco seed and the proper time to plant out bee tress, &c., &c., but my present purpose is to tell what I know about Jasper; and as it never occurred to me before I left my native country that I should ever attempt to write a reminiscence of this character, I will be pardoned if I am not exactly correct in regard to dates &c., as I am writing from memory only. Although I long had access to the county records, I never charged my memory with precise dates:
Some time about the year A.D. 1836-7 Jasper county was born into existence by an Act of the State Legislature. Prior to the formation of the new county the territory now comprised in Jasper belonged to the counties of Clay and Crawford, and that portion of the county where Newton now stands was within the limits of Crawford county, and the citizens of that portion of the county who had legal business to attend to had to go to Palestine, as Palestine was at that time the county seat of Crawford county. But by Act of the Legislature as above a potion of territory stricken off the East side of Clay and a portion off the West side of Crawford were formed into a new county and christened "Jasper." Newton, the present county seat, was then located. The lands upon which the town in located belonged to Benjamin REYNOLDS, who located the town making a donation of every alternate lot to the county and reserving the balance. The public lots were then put up at auction and sold and the monies derived from such sale became a part of the county funds.
After the organization of the county and location of the county seat an election was held for the election of county officers, which resulted in the election of John BARNES as Clerk of both Courts, Lewis W. JORDEN, as Sheriff, and L.D. WADE as County Treasurer. These were the first officers elected in the county. Courts were then established and the new county of Jasper attached tot he 4th Judicial Circuit. The Honorable Justin HARLIN presiding, at that time held the first term of Circuit Court ever held in Jasper, which Court was held at the residence of the Sheriff elect, L.W. JORDEN, as the county had not as yet constructed any public buildings. Afterwards an appropriation was made for the erection of a court house, which house was built according to plan and specifications.
A building of hewn logs was erected on the lot where the school house now stands, which was used for court house, school house, church, town hall, &c. &c, and when not occupied by any of these it was generally occupied by some family of emigrants who had come to settle in the new county.
Prior to the new State Constitution of 1847 the Judiciary was somewhat different from now. The County Court was composed of three County Commissioners chosen from the body of the county, and all county business was done in their Court, which held its terms quarterly. They was a Judge of Probate who was the keeper of his own seal and records, before whom was brought all business pertaining to the Probate of Wills, Decedents, estates and Guardian and Ward. William BRIDGES, Esq., was elected as first Judge of Probate in the county, in 1839. My father, Hiram WADE, was elected to the offices of Clerk of the Circuit Court, Clerk of the County Court, and County Recorder. As the office of County Recorder was then a seperate elective office, he was elected to fill vacancy - said vacancy having been caused by the removal of the then incumbant to Missouri.
In 1840-1, an order passed the County Board for the erection of the present court house, and an appropriate made for that purpose. Benjamin HARRIS, Esq., became the contractor to erect and put under cover the said building, the finishing of the building being left for a seperate contract; and the Treasury being now quite exhausted, the court house was not finished until about 1845. E.W. CURTISS, Esq., now of Newton, had the contract for finishing the house.
Up to 1840 Jasper county was little less than an unbroken wilderness. There was nothing but the song of birds and the howl of wolves to break the stillness. I have been on the ground where Newton now stands when it was only what we call a "black-jack-thicket."
About the time of the formation of the county, Joseph PICQUET, Esq., came over from Europe ostensibly for the purpose of locating lands in the far west for a company consisting of Picquets, Schifferstines, Hoffmans, etc., and after traveling over a greater portion of the western country, finally made a location of lands in ST. Marie Township and established the town of St. Marie, and there built the first Steam Flouring Mill ever erected in the county.
Mr. PICQUET had, prior to making his location as above, traveled over the northern portion of the State and visited the then "village of Chicago," and could have bought the City site at $1.25 per acre - government price. But after traveling southward, and his eyes having once rested upon the beautiful valley of the Ambraw, it was sufficient. He thought, I suppose, that Chicago was too far away from such a place to ever be of much consequence.
Mr. P., to his honor be it said, together with the Colony that came over at his auspices, made vast and valuable improvements in that portion of the county and, to use a common expression, had much to do in breaking the ice and opening up the county for those who came there in after years, for those who lived in Jasper about that time had a great many hardships and difficulties to contend with that are not known in the present day.
The first settlement in the county, according to tradition or history unwritten, was in Ste. Marie Township.. That corner commonly known as "Dark Bend" was inhabited many years before Jasper was organized as a county. Some of the prominent characters that figured there in very early times was the ENLOWS, CRABTREES, BOGARDS, POWELLS, &c., &c. They were of that class of people generally called "back woods" men, who subsisted chiefly from the natural resources of the country. They were rather inclined to be indolent, or at least people of not much enterprise, though they were what we usually call open-hearted, genial, hospitable people.
Though that corner of the country has been the scene or theatre of some dark and bloody deeds, prominent among which was the tragedy of the ENLOW brothers, which grew out of a love affair. If there should be any one desirous of knowing the particulars of this affair, I would refer them to Phelix BROWNFIELD, of Ste. Marie Township who, I presume, can give the matter in detail.
The first pioneers of Willow Hill Township were the EATONS, MILLERS, DOTYS, ALLISONS, &c. The first Water Mill in the country was built by Eaton, on the North Fork, on the site that is now known as the Reams Mill.
Granville Township was settled by the METHENYS, CLEMMONS, GROVES and MILLERS.
The early settlers of Crooked Creek Township were the VANATTAS, ROBERT RAY, JESSE M. HEARA, STEPHEN MUSGROVE, JOHN SWICK, &C., and later, HUDSON, HUNTS, BONHEMS, KILLGORE, &c.
Grove Township was settled by the ARNOLDS, WAGLES, VANDIKE, SHY, PECKENPA, &c.
North Muddy Township was settled by the ANDERSONS, REYNOLDS, CHOAT, AUTRY, STEVENS, &c.
South Muddy Township was settled by the DOUTHETS, CATHERS, EVANSES, FIELDS, &c.
Smallwood Township was settled by the MASHES, DAVISES, HOOVERS, HANNAHS, HAMILTONS, WOODS, &c.
Fox Township was settled by the UNDERHILLS, QUALLS, MCCULLIES, STURGEONS, &c.
L.W. JORDEN and Benjamin REYNOLDS, as I have previously stated, were about the first settlers of Wade Township. After the organization of the county the vicinity in and around Newton began gradually to settle and some improvements began. Lawrence HOLLENBECK and Thomas GARWOOD built a Saw and Grist Mill on the present site now owned by B. FALLER. Benjamin HARRIS, who had emigrated form Ohio, brought on a small stock of dry goods and opened out the first store in Newton, but as farming was the business which most attracted his attention, soon closed out his store, located quite a body of lands in vicinity of Newton and made large and valuable improvements in the immediate vicinity of the town.
The PICQUETS afterwards carried on merchandising in Newton, and also bought the mill property and made some improvements on it.
Up to 1845 but little of the lands in Jasper had been entered. A great many of the citizens of the county were what is generally termed squatters, living on Government lands without titles. But in the intermediate time between 1845-50-52 the public lands were all taken up, some by actual settlers and a great portion by speculators.
I could related many amusing incidents that came under my notice during my boyhood in old Jasper, had I space and time, as there were many characters like that of Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill, of the mountains, Sut LOVEGOOD, &c in the country. In early days, under the old State Constitution, counties were divided into voting precincts, but it did not prohibit any citizen of the county from voting at the county seat if he so desired, and at general elections nearly all of the voters in the county would come to Newton to vote; and on election days, or at court, it was amusing to see the old pioneers coming into town. Often they were dressed in buckskin suits with coonskin caps, and most generally carried that indispensable life guard - rifle. After indulging in a few "slugs" of sod-corn whisky, they would begin to get lively.
Shooting, or rather, target shooting for whisky was a great source of amusement. Also horse racing, what we now call "plug races," was considered indispensable to make up the gist of fun and amusement in those days. the distance run was generally two hundred yards, or a quarter of a mile at furtherest, and the stakes generally ranged in price and quantity from one quart to a half gallon of "sod-corn" worth from fifteen to twenty-five cents, and it was a "jolly" time they had. As a matter of course all understood and and practiced the manly art of self-defense, and it was considered unmanly for a man to take an insult without resenting it, and generally the day wound up with a great many peeled heads, bloody noses, black eyes and perhaps a few eyes gouged out.
From time immemorial in the history of Newton there has been one of those sinks of perdition, of latter days called Saloons, kept on the corner of Jorden and Jackson streets, opposite to BOOS Bros' store, in Newton. Before the improvement of the streets there was a small ravine in front of the place indicated and, as a general thing, if a fight occurred in that vicinity the combatants would more than likely "fetch up" in said ravine, and in consequence the place took the name of "bloody run." But this portion of what I am attempting to write is of but little particular interest to any one.
Up to 1850 Jasper had made but little progress, but from that time forward, by the stead advance of immigration together with civilization and some capital, Jasper has been made to bloom and blossom as the rose and is now the home of many, many happy families. But in the early days of Jasper it might have been termed, and properly too, a hard country; though those hardy frontiermen lived, comparatively, a happy and pleasant life, as game such as deer, wild turkey, wolves and bear were in great abundance.
But to avoid prolixity I will bring this article to a close, although I have not told half what I know about jasper -- yet sufficient that any one who may chance to read this scribble will know I've been "thar."
I often look back and call to mind many incidents that came under my observation in the early days of Jasper. Some of them with pleasant memories, and I must say that even the remembrance of some of them bring sadness. However, they are all past, both pleasant and unpleasant. But some of the grandest exploits in the history of my own life, that occurred during my sojourn in Jasper, occurred very shortly before I left there, as I had contracted the habit of making too free us of that beverage which bears divers and sundry names such as "tangle-foot," "rot-gut," "scald-punch," "sod-corn," (and on this coast) "turantular juice," "sheep herders' delight," &c. But whatever the proper name may be, whether spirits fermentis or "any other man," it had the better of me and brought me into many difficulties. Even the ladies in the neighborhood turned to me the cold shoulder, as I tried to make love to some of them and went so far as to pop the question. They, however, begged to be excused and, as a matter of politeness, I excused them! And worse, yet, I recollect to have been walking along the street one day and meeting a lady. I saluted her, and to impress it upon her that I was really in her presence, I merely punched her in the ribs with my finger. And, what was the consequence of all this "politeness!" Why, I was taken before the Police Court as a criminal and fined; and divers and sundry other sad mishaps befell me. Jim HONEY pounced upon me on a certain occasion and thumped, pounded, but, gouged and did me most shamefully and cruelly maltreat, all against the peace and dignity of the good people of the realm, and it was again that I had to appear before that august Court and pay a fine simply for getting thumped, &c. And I might relate other instances of like purport, but as before intimated, to avoid prolixity, will refrain.
I presume no one that knew me ever thought strange of my leaving old Jasper, for I endured sufficient turmoil and vexation to disgust any one; and as a consequence of the foregoing, I am here in the mountains where I can climb the stately and towering peaks, and although I cannot see it, yet I can look back toward old Jasper until vision plays out. But it is some consolation to look in that direction. It would afford me a great deal of pleasure to visit old Jasper once more. I should be happy beyond measure if I could see some of my old chums such as Capt. FISHER, Uncle John KERN, Lew BENNETT, THERIAC, John HENRY, "Cat Eye" and a host of others to tedious to mention. But, as above indicated, I will try to avoid prolixity and will now proceed to close by saying in candor, as I hope to be pardoned for whatever nonsense I have written herein, that I have a natural love and affection for the land of my nativity and the people with whom I used to associate. But as I am now seperated from and cannot see them, yet my very heart strings, as it were, cling to them. I see often in the columns of the Press the announcement of the death of some old, beloved friend, and it makes me feel sad; thought it should not, for "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yes, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them." And now with deep and unfeigned solicitude for the peace, happiness and prosperity of the people of my old home, I close.
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