Lee County Biography

April 19, 1822 -- living, 1914

Transcribed by Karen Holt - 1914 History of Lee County Illinois Vol 2 by Frank E. Stevens.

My grandfather was Dr. Henry Frederick Helmershausen. My grandmother was Anna Marsh. My father was Henry Charles Frederick Helmershausen, who was born August 12, 1789, and died March 20, 1869, aged seventy-nine years, seven months, eight days. My mother was Jane Hilton, who was born March 21, 1790, and died December 4, 1878, aged eighty-eight years, eight months, twelve days. Both were born and brought up in the same town. My brothers and sisters were: Henry, Harrison, Harriet, Jane, myself, Sophia, Sylvanus, Faustina, Catherine, Norman, Eliza, eleven in all. Seven were born in Bremen township, Lincoln county, Maine, and the four youngest in Glenburn township, Penobscot county, Maine.

Eliza died in Glenburn township, Penobscot county, Maine, about two miles from Bangor, when she was a little girl.

The family moved to Penobscot county from Lincoln county when I, Charles, was four years old and Sylvanus was ten months old. Bought one hundred and twenty-five acres of land, the second farm from Bangor township line over north into Glenburn township. The city of Bangor covered the township of Bangor. We were twelve miles from Old Town. Built a log house and a log barn, and then a frame house. We lived there fourteen years, then moved to Illinois. Henry and Harrison came in 1838, father came' in the summer of 1840, and mother, I, Sylvanus, Faustina, Catherine and Norman came in November and December, 1840. Took Captain Parker's boat "The Saunup" down the Penobscot river to New York city; came up the Hudson river to Albany, across Erie canal to Buffalo; took the old "General Wayne," a boat, to Toledo; came on a corduroy Railroad to Adrian, Michigan, and stopped to see Silas Sears, who had moved a year before from Glenburn. He was a neighbor and a great friend of father's. We rented a house of a man named Bachelor and remained a mouth. I girdled trees while waiting. As soon as Mr. Penfield (who lived where Miles Bahen did later, on the road from Franklin Grove to Amboy) came for us with one team, the household goods were repacked and the family came to Illinois the latter part of December. I (Charles) and Sylvanus walked all the way. Catherine rode, and in a jolt fell off, but grabbed the horse's tail and saved herself an injury. The horses stood still until she got safely into the wagon. It was very cold, but I kept warm walking. The others were warmly wrapped up, as mother had brought much bedding. We arrived Thursday night at Lee Center, where mother remained all night at Russell Linn's house, while I, with Sylvanus, walked over to Colonel Nathan Whitney's frame house and he directed us to "the Noe House" near Franklin creek. We were very glad to see father and he was very glad to see us. The next day (Friday) I walked to what is now the village of Franklin Grove and shot a wild turkey. On Monday I went out and helped Colonel Whitney. In the spring we set out trees in his nursery. We planted the "old orchard." He was a fine man and T had many pleasant and profitable conversations with him. We began to buy land and farm it, enduring the usual hardships of pioneers. We slept in the loft of' the cabin, and when we arose in the morning often brushed away a snowdrift. We were happy and contented. We teamed to Peru and to Chicago. We had solid silver spoons, large and heavy, which our mother had from her family, the Hiltons. She had also a string of gold beads which were from her family, and which each baby had worn. The marks of my first teeth are on them yet, as I was the only child, mother said, who bit the beads. We went to "singing schools," "spelling schools," on winter evenings, driving often many miles. We were not annoyed by wolves or wild animals. There were no Indians in our vicinity.

In 1853, thirteen years after, I went back alone, attending the Great Fair at New York city, which was a very celebrated fair at that time. Uncle Frederick, who was five years older than father, had married Miss Lydia McLintock, of a Scottish family. They lived at Jefferson on a farm. They used Helmershausen in full.

Rev. Edwin Helmershausen, William and Charles were my three cousins, each Uncle Frederick's son; and the four girls were Maria, Nancy, Eleanor, and Jane. One son, Robert, was dead. Maria, who married Captain Eber Montgomery, was a large, intelligent woman of strong and ready mind, and my father esteemed her highly. Jane never married but lived with Charles, her brother. She kept the data and traditions of our family. She had a pair of silver knee-buckles which General Washington gave our father's father in the Revolutionary war; and a pair of cuff-links he used to wear marked "C." She kept the knee-buckles and gave me the cuff-links, thus dividing the two pieces of silver which grandfather cherished between his two sons' sons. There was grandfather's crest and coat-of-arms, but not used in our country. I visited my mother's mother. She was "Grandmother Peaselee" by name, for after Grandfather Hilton's death she married Mr. Jonathan Peaselee. She had two sons, Jacob and Riley, whom I saw. She also had Reuel. They were my mother's half-brothers, both Baptists, and she lived with Jacob. She was dark, lean, tall, and although nearly ninety years of age, was vivacious and sensible to converse with. She sat up firm and straight and walked one-half mile from Jacob's home to the Baptist church and back on each Sabbath day unless very inclement weather prevented. She had had Jane, John, Samuel, Enoch and James and Hannah Hilton, Jacob, Reuel and Riley Peaselee. I think she was different from mother, and that mother favored her father, the Hiltons, and that my uncle John Hilton favored his mother, for Uncle John was tall, dark and handsome.

Grandmother lived at the forks of the road near Jefferson, Riley lived a half mile farther on. Her daughter Jane, my mother, married Charles Helmershausen. James Hilton was lost at sea and deeply mourned. John Hilton lived in Augusta. His wife was Aunt Catherine Hilton, for whom my sister, Catherine Twombly, was named. They had five children who were my full cousins: Charles, Eugene, Faustina, Catherine and a babe. Uncle John was a chaise-maker at Augusta, and owned three shops (iron shop, wood shop, trimming shop), so he could make all the parts of a chaise. They were very elegant conveyances in those days. He afterwards died and his family came west, stopped and visited us, and went on to Nebraska to settle. My people were "Pilgrim" people of England; that is, my ancestors were Puritans, they said, on my mother's side. I went back the second time, 1858, and in June, 1885, the third time, and visited William at East Jefferson, and Charles. I saw the same old knolls, hills and waters. The house father built was standing in Glenburn township, and Norman, who was with me, went in and said, "I was born in this room." The house was in excellent condition, being shingled to the ground. Harrison, Norman and I went in 1885. I went to a little schoolhouse in Glenburn township on William Sherman's farm. Years ago we spelled in Webster’s Speller and we had much mental arithmetic. I used to spell the school down, for I worked in school. Some of our neighbors in Glenburn township were the families of Samuel Dole (who had ten children") and lived opposite our house; Silas Sears, Andrew Meriill, Martin White, William Sherman; also the Websters, Abbotts, Clarkes, Merrills. I read in a Bangor paper this week that Olive Merrill was dead, aged eighty years. She was a schoolmate of ours in that little red schoolhouse. There is no one left; if I should go back, there are only the old hills and trees and rocks, but it is strange how plainly I can see them all, distinctly and perfectly, and yet it is a great while ago--a great while. My grandfather fought under General Washington; my father was in the 1812 war; I am here and there has been a great deal of history since we three lived; great history; it comes back and I remember them. It is strange one remembers his youth so long!

Signed and written down. Sabbath evening, April 9, 1905.

1. Jonas Helmershausen, of Weimar
2. Georg Casper Helmershausen
3. Georg Friedrich Helmershausen
4. Dr. Georg Franz Friedrich Helmershausen
5. Dr. Henry Frederick Helmershausen
6. Henry Charles Frederick Helmershausen
7. Henry Charles Frederick Helmershausen, Jr.
1. William Hilton, of Hilton Point, Dover
2. William Hilton, of York, Maine
3. Lieut. William Hilton
4. Stilson Hilton
5. Samuel Hilton
6. John Hilton
7. Jane Hilton


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