Pope County was organized 1816 from Gallatin and Johnson counties, and extended
on the Ohio river from Cave-in-Rock to old Fort Massac. The county seat was located at Sarahsville-since Golconda-on
the banks of the Ohio river, about midway between the points mentioned. The first county officers were: Robert Lacy, Benoni
Lee, and Thomas Ferguson, county commissioners; Joshua Scott, recorder; Hamlet Ferguson, sheriff, Samuel O'Melvaney, treasurer, and Thomas C. Browne-aftwerward Judge Browne-proscuting attorney.
At the first term of the commissioner's court, among other business, the court
fixed the price of meals, lodging, stable and horse feed, and the price of whisky. About the year 1839, the upper
part of Pope county was organized as the county of Hardin, fixing the line near Grand Pierre creek. In the year
1843 the lower portion of Pope county, with a part of Johnson, was organized as Massac county and by act of the
legislature, Geo. H. Hanna,
the county surveyor of Pope county, was directed to locate the line between Pope and Massac counties. At the first
term of the commissioners' court of Massac county, the first county orders were issued to George H. Hanna and his
assistants for said service, and were sold to John W. Reed, the sheriff, for 75 cents on the dollar.
Eddyville, the youngest
of the Pope county towns is about fifteen miles northwest of Golconda, was laid out for Mr.
Fulgham by J. E. Y.
Hanna, in 1866, and became incorporated in 1883. Eddyville is a thriving
village, surrounded by a good agricultural country, and has a good country trade. It is on elevated ground, and
is visible for miles around. If it could have railroad connection with the outside world, it would become a very
Dixon Springs is a noted
health resort. The water is Chalybeate, and is thought to be very beneficial to those who use it from July to September.
The place was first occupied by William Dixon, from whom it derived its name, in the year of 1848. The scenery contiguous to the Springs
is very wild and picturesque, and it has become a favorite summer resort.
The first church organized in Pope county was Big
Creek Baptist church, in the northeast part of the county. The organization
was efffected on the 19th day of July, A. D. 1806, by the Revs. Stephen
Stilley and William
Jones. This church existed twenty years, when it was dissolved, and
a portion of its members joined in the organization of the Grand Pierre church, October 21st, 1827, by Elder Stephen Stilley and William Rondeau, which church still has an
The second church organized in Pope county was the Golconda
Presbyterian church, Oct. 24th, 1819, with sixteen members, by the
Rev. Nathan B. Derrow,
a missionary from Connecticut. This church still exists in Golconda.
The third church organized in the county was Big
Bay church of the Baptist denomination, about eight miles southwest
of Golconda, by Elders Stilley
and Henderson, about
1819 or 1820. It existed about twenty years and was dissolved, a portion of its members joined in the organization
of Mill Creek Baptist
church, August 17th, 1840. Mill Creek church is still in existence. We can learn of but two church buildings, prior
to 1840, to wit: Big Bay Baptist church, about one mile from Green's old mill and Grand
Pierre church, about twelve miles north of Golconda, also a Baptist
church. Both were log buildings, and were used for a long time. Bay church was abandoned on account of the rowdyism
of some parties, led by one Hiram Green
who habitually disturbed the congregation gathered for worship. The membership disbanded and assisted in forming
new churches at other points.
Grand Pierre church fared
better, and worshipped in peace and quiet, in their house, until it became necessary to erect a new building. The
leading ministers of the Baptist denomination were Father Stilley-as he was called-William Rondeau-an Englishman-William Baker, John Hamilton,
a Mr. Henderson, and,
a little later, Charles Clay
and Richard Fulherson.
The Methodists, Presbyterian, and Cumberland Presbyterians had no houses for public worship, so far as we can learn,
before 1840, but held their services in school houses, private dwellings, and in the court house in Golconda, and,
for their larger assemblies, held what were called campmeetings.
The plan of these meetings was to select a grove near a plentiful supply of water,
and clear the underbrush from a square sufficiently large to accommodate the assembly, then build temporary huts
or tents on three sides of the square for the accommodation of the campers and their guests, which were abundantly
supplied with straw; what was called "scaffold beds" were constructed around the walls, and a supply
of straw was placed on the gound under the beds, and all was used for sleeping apartments. A large log was placed
at the back of the camp hut-all camps fronted on the enclosed square-against which was built a fire for culinary
purposes, and a long board table, supported by forks driven in the ground, at which all took their meals. Hospitality,
in its widest sense, prevailed at these meetings, and no one needed to leave hungry, or fail to find a place in
which to rest and sleep. Large assemblies have been provided for in this way. Inside the square, a pulpit was erected
near one end, with high platform floor, boarded up at the back, roofed, and with a seat at the back, with a board
in front, on which to lay the books, this-and the pulpit was completed. In front of the pulpit or "stand",
as it was named, rows of logs were placed with one toward the pulpit, and the other to the open side of the square,
across which planks-or in their absence, split logs-were placed for seats for the congregation. All being prepared,
about Thursday of the time agreed upon, those who intended camping removed from their home to the "camp ground",
where they lived, usually until the next Tuesday or Wednesday, and sometimes longer. The whole energies of the
campers were directed to supplying the necessities of those who were attending these meetings, and furthering the
objects to be accomplished by them. Days and Nights were spent in preaching, praying, exhorting and singing, which
sometimes continued nearly all night. It was thought, at that time, that great good was effected by these meetings,
but as there was necessarily some confusion attending those annual gatherings, some evil-minded persons took the
liberty of abusing the hospitality of the campers, and caused such disorder, that it was thought best to discontinue
them. Their necessity also ceased as the country became settled, and churches were built.
Of the old time preachers, the prominent persons of the Baptist church have been
mentioned. William Rondeau,
the most prominent among them, came from England at an early day and settled near Golconda, where he resided for
some years, and then he purchased the island just above Golconda, on which he had his home for the remainder of
his life. He was an educated gentleman of the old school, and while he was affable and polite, he had a bluntness
in his manner, that gave offense to some persons, unintentional on his part. He, like some other persons, had his
eccentricities and peculiarities, but was a good man, a warm-hearted, earnest minister of the Gospel, and gave
his views on the Scripture with plainness and force. He was an early settler in Pope county, deeply interested
in the advancement of the moral, mental and material interests of the people. He was scathing in his reproof of
any misconduct at church. On one occasion he noticed some thoughtless persons whispering during the sermon, and
immediately stopped, saying: "If you have anything worth saying, speak out, that we may all hear it, and I
will wait until you have done, as it is bad manners for two persons to speak at the same time, and besides this,
Paul says, 'all whisperers are liars!'" Mr. Rondeau had some humor in his make-up, for example: One night,
after a preaching service, he went with a brother minister named Hamilton for lodging. The wife of Mr. Hamilton, not going home, the two old preachers had the house to themselves. After conversing awhile
they thought they had better have a lunch before retiring. Mr. Hamilton on searching failed to find bread. He said:
"I know there was a 'pone' here, but I cannot find it." Mr. Rondeau answered, "Pone, Pone, Ponee,
Pona, Pony. Pony is a little 'orse-I don't want to 'heat' a 'orse." He lived to good old age, and left a good
influence behind him. Of the other Baptist ministers mentioned, they were all good men and did their best work
for the community that they could, but none of them were liberally educated, and consequently did not have the
influence in moulding the young and growing country that Mr. Rondeau possessed.
Of the ministers of the Presbyterian
church in the early days of the country, there was but one who had
much to do in influencing, for good, the pioneers. Perhaps this was from the fact that he was the only one who
was here for a time sufficient to accomplish much. This was the Rev.
Benjamin F. Spilman. He preached his first sermon here when quite
a young man, and was the principal minister of that denomination here for about forty years. He was a native of
Kentucky, was educated, and was an earnest and zealous preacher. He had an influence which has not been forgotten
in the different fields where he was called to ministry. His discourses were logical, earnest, affectionate, and
compelled his auditors to believe that he felt the truth of the principals which he urged upon them. He died a
ripe old age after a life of usefulness to his fellowmen. In the earlier days of his ministry he spent much of
his time on horseback, as his appointments covered an extent of more that one hundred miles in diameter, and he
has been known to go on horseback from Golconda to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to attend the sessions of the general
assembly of his church. A gentleman who lived on the hill south of Golconda, who professed to believe that all
preachers were lazy, and took to the ministry to avoid work, and whose residence overlooked the house of Mr. Spilman,
saw that when he came home from a preaching tour, he pulled off his coat and went to work in the garden, and did
other necessary work, remarked that he had "found one preacher who was not lazy." On the occasion of
one of those horseback trips to Philadelphia, the then county surveyor, Geo.
H. Hanna, wished to procure a new compass, and Philadelphia being
at that time the only place where it could be purchased, Mr. Spilman bought the instrument there, and carried it
on horseback to Golconda. Who would think for a moment of doing so now, or who would think of making the journey
on horseback in these days of railroads and steamboats? There were many other ministers of the Presbyterian church
who labored in the county, but their stay here was so short that they failed to leave their impress on the growing
community. Of the ministers of the Cumberland Presbyterian church there were a number who labored in this part
of the country, among whom I will mention James Alexander, Jesse Pearce,
William Davis, Benjamin Bruce, and Woods H. Hamilton, who preached through this
country, holding stated appointments somewhat after the manner of a circuit preacher, and also protracted and camp
meetings in the late summer and autumn months. These ministers did not reside here, but in the counties of Gallatin
There was one exception, the Rev.
Peter Cartwright, who traveled and preached over Southern Illinois
and who sometimes visited the counties of Lower Egypt, and he is remembered more on account of his eccentricities
than for any permanent influence which he left on the people of the country where he labored.
It is principally to the local preachers in the M.E. church that we must look
for an abiding influence on the pioneer population. Among them, notably, was Rev.
James P. Crawford, who resided on Sugar creek, a few miles north
from Dixon Springs. He settled there in the early thirties, and remained there to the end of his life, which, unfortunately,
was before he reached old age. While he lived he was noted for his interest in any measure for the improvement
of the people of the whole country and his interest was not manifested by words alone. His works were more abundant
than were his words. The whole country around him felt his loss when he was carried to God's acre. And when he
fell, there was no one in that community who could take up the work which he left in an unfinished condition, and
carry it on successfully as he had been doing. He was a good man in every respect, and was entitled to, and enjoyed
the warm affection of all who knew him. Peace to his ashes.
The first settlements in Pope county, with a few exceptions, were on or near the
banks of the Ohio river. At or near the site of what was afterward Golconda, George
V. Lusk, for whom Lusk's creek was named, and from his wife, Sarah,
or Sallie, as she was called, for whom the town was first named Sarahsville, were the first settlers. The date
of coming cannot now be given.
Thomas Ferguson was also
one of the first to come to the place for a home in that wild region. He afterward became the owner of the land
on which the town of Golconda was laid out, and donated twenty acres of land for a portion of the town. Green B. Field, the grandfather of General Green B. Raum, purchased the lands
of Ferguson. Other Pioneers here were Daniel Field, Dr. William Sim,
Hugh McNulty, Ransom Peters, William
Rondeau, Thomas Laroth, Joseph Pryor,
James King, John Raum, Joshua
Scott, William Belford, and Charles Dunn.
A few miles above Golconda at or near the mouth of Grand Pierre creek, was a settlement
of pioneers, extending into what is now Hardin county. John Crawford located there in 1808, at or near the same time Alexander
Blair, Samuel O. Melvania, James Sted
and Hugh Robertson,
with others who were but transient or were not prominent in the community. The persons who are named were nearly
all from the Emerald Isle. The settlement of the Lower Bay bottom was made in an early day by William Cowan, Robert
Scott, and Samuel Smith, who located there before 1817, and bought large bodies of government land. Their descendants
still reside on the river or near to it in that part of the county. One Tittsworth was also a pioneer who located a land warrant in 1814 near that point, at the confluence
of the Big Bay and the Ohio. Reuben Glover
and John Wood also located
on land in the vicinity. William Dyer
located on land in the same place and his descendants are still to be found there.
Another early settlement was below Bay City, the prominent members of whom were, John Lewis, John
L. Hickman, George B.
Wood, and John Neely, who was the grandfather of the George W.
Neely of Metropolis, with others not so well known outside there
immediate neighborhoods. The above named parties purchased land from the government in the year 1817 and 1818,
while the state of Illinois was still a territory.
Following the Ohio we come to Hamletsburg, which was named for Hamlet Ferguson, the first sheriff of the
county, who was an early settler there, and entered land in 1814, that being the earliest year in which land entries
were made in Pope county. Other early settlers were John C. Caldwell, John P. Givens,
Reuben Smith and Julius Warwick, soon followed by John H. Smith, the first school commissioner
of the county.
In an early day there was a path or trail leading from Fort Massac to Kaskaskia
on the Mississippi, below St. Louis, which in the common parlance of the country was called "The Kaskatrace."
This road, or pathway, crossed the Bay creek at the site of Green's old mill, and passing east of Columbus came
to the bluff called the Massac Bluff, on account of its being the bluff nearest to Fort Massac, which could not
be avoided. This bluff still retains the name. On or near this old route from Fort Massac to Kaskaskia, south of
Bay creek, in the bottoms, or flats, there was a settlement in an early day made by a Frenchman of some means.
The date of his coming to that place cannot now be ascertained, but it must have been, if not the first settlement
in the county, about the first. This is established by the fact that in clearing his farm, which was very heavily
timbered, he had to get the soldiers from Fort Massac to come up and help him to pile the logs on his farm for
burning. This man's name was Charles Le Roy,
and he was always known by that name. However his sons took the English equivalent and the family have since been
known by the name of King.
When Le Roy was building his house, which was a large log home, he needed lumber for floors and other purposes,
but there were no saw mills, and no means of transportation by which lumber could be brought from other points.
But the Frenchman was equal to the situation. He got his logs for the lumber and set them on end, confined them
there, scaffolded up and set his boys on the scaffold, and with a cross-cut saw cut his lumber from top to bottom,
and built his house, which was standing until a few years since, when it was torn down and removed. Others came
into the country, and settled near Mr. Le Roy. Among the prominent persons were Charles
A. Shelby, who afterward lived in Massac county, Jacob Shelby, a brother, I believe; John Ditterline and James Green, who built and owned the mill,
known as Green's old mill, where lumber was sawed and corn ground into meal for the use of the settlers. These
men had means at their command and became prominent in the community. Mr.
Charles Shelby loaned money to a large number of persons who wished
to enter government land. On one occasion a friend came to him to borrow fifty dollars with which to enter a tract
of land, and, having obtained it, went to the land office at Shawneetown, and purchased the tract on which Mr.
Shelby lived. He was aware that Mr. Shelby was occupying public land while loaning money to others, and thought
he would perpetrate a practical joke upon him, and then give him a deed to the land in payment for the loan, but
Mr. Shelby failed to see the joke, and becoming offended, bad blood was the result, and a long suit at law with
heavy expenses was the end of the matter. John Ditterline lived in peace and died at a ripe age and left numerous descendants behind him, many of
whom still live in the county.
James Green who was the
builder and owner of the mill on the Bay creek-run by water power-came in an early day from the State of New York,
and his saw and grist mill was the source of supply lumber and meal for a large extent of country, and was kept
in operation after it was rebuilt several times on the same site. Mr. Green was a prominent citizen in the country,
and was intelligent beyond the average of pioneers. He was often the chairman of public meetings, and his reputation
was good. He died at the place on which he first located at a ripe age.
While he stood fair as a man and a miller, he was a failure as the father of a
family, being the father of the noted Hiram-or Hite-Green, who was a desperado, and was finally outlawed in the country. Mr. Green brought his mill
machinery by flat boat to Golconda, and conveyed it from there over land to the site, about eight miles distant.
A circumstance occurred on landing, which, years later, had a tragic ending. One of the hands on the boat was named
Cooper, and on the bank
of the river at the landing were a number of persons watching the boat, among whom was a man by the name of Joiner, who, in the common parlance of the
country, was called "a bully," being noted for his ability in the science of fisticuffs, the professors
of which science had quite a reputation in those days. Joiner, who was overbearing in his manner, began in an offensive
way to give the hands on the boat, who were entire strangers, directions about making the landing. Cooper, who
thought he knew sufficiently well how to bring in a boat, felt insulted at the language of Joiner, and replied
testily, and was answered by a threat from Joiner, who could brook no impertinent words from another. Cooper told
him to wait until the boat was secured, and upon his coming ashore the two men had a regular combat with the weapons
furnished by nature. From this time, for a period of perhaps, twenty years, a fight between Cooper and Joiner was
of no uncommon occurrence, and with variable results. Sometimes one, sometimes the other was worsted in the battle,
until the men each hated, and feared the other. Finally Cooper pushed Joiner's gun aside and buried a saddler's
hammer in his skull, thus ending the feud, which had existed so long between them. This was the first time that
either had resorted to the use of weapons, as it was not considered an act of bravery to settle a difficulty with
guns or knives, but by dexterity and strength of muscle.
Near the site of Green's old mill there is a very high cliff of rock, which at
one point shelves out some seventy feet high, leaving under a cavern beneath it and extending back near one hundred
feet, forming quite a shelter, and in which a large number of persons can be protected from the inclemency of the
weather. In this cavern were a large number of human bones, which were found there as late as the forties. The
bones were of men, women and children of various sizes, and evidently were the remains of savages. There is no
knowledge of how or when they were left there, but there is an old tradition that a remnant of a tribe of Indians
were driven from their homes, and taking this place for shelter, either perished by starvation or were pursued
and massacred by their enemies.
Some three miles north of this point the bones of a man were found in the thirties,
which were identified as the skeleton of a white man, murdered by an Indian guide who was piloting him from old
Fort Massac to Kaskaskia. It was said that the traveler, a few days before starting, in a spree got the Indian
guide into a nest of yellow jackets which stung him severely, and that the guide when he had him away from any
assistance killed him in revenge. At any rate, the traveler never reached Kaskaskia, and the bones being found
on the old trail between Fort Massac and Kaskaskia, gives color to the statement.
A large settlement, extending from near the village of Columbus eastward toward Golconda was founded at an early day which was destined to become an important
factor in the county of Pope, and had an influence over the surrounding country. Previous to 1815-exact date not
the ancestor of General Alcorn of
Mississippi, located there. At or near the same time James Calvert and Francis Glass,
Hezekiah Hale soon followed.
This Mr. Hale was an ancestor on the mother's side of Judge Wm. P.
Sloan, of Golconda. In 1817 or 1818, James
Pittallo, a man of considerable means, emigrated from Scotland and
located here. In 1819, John Hanna,
with his seven sons, four of whom were heads of families, also George
Hodge, David B. Glass, and B.F. Gavit,
located in this settlement, which was for a time known as Hanna Hills, but more recently Hodgville. These men were
men of intelligence beyond mediocrity, and industrious and thrifty, soon subduing the forests and bringing the
soil of cultivation, and producing sufficient to supply the wants of themselves and others were not so provident.
School houses were soon built and filled by the young people, and, while the teachers of that day would not generally
compare favorably with those of the present, yet there were some early teachers very good and qualified, who were
placed over the children. There were schools in this settlement when there were none others in the county, and
as a result it soon had advantages over others not so fortunate. Sunday schools were organized early in the twenties,
and children had moral and religious training as well as literary instructions.
Those early pioneers in this settlement, early discovered the evils of using intoxocating
liquor, and while in other parts of the county it was customary to have whisky at all gatherings, such as house-raisings,
log rollings, and harvesting, in this settlement it was understood that no such refreshments would be furnished.
The result was that the young men grew up sober, and became respectable citizens. That settlement, so began and
so continued, has its fruits such as might be anticipated. There have been trained in that settlement seven ministers,
seven physicians, and forty-five teachers in the public schools, several sheriffs, clerks of both circuit and county
courts, a number of county treasurers and all the county surveyors since 1831, except eight years, to date. All
those mentioned were good men, and, with the exception of Witt, have numerous descendants who yet reside in the country. A few years later, the settlement
was strengthened by the acquisition of the Waters, the Evitts,
the Veaches, and others
of less note, but that settlement has been prominent in the public affairs of the county, and has furnished a man
to fill nearly every office in the county, and has always had men of means and ability residing there.
A few miles south of Eddyville, there was a settlement formed about the year 1815, among the members of which were Robert Penny, James
A. Whiteside, Lincoln
Harper, John Whiteside, and Adam McGhee.
The Penny's have all
disappeared, but the Whitesides
and the Harpers are
numerous in that part of the county. James A. Whiteside coming to Illinois Territory, brought quite a number of slaves with him, and when the
Territory became a State, with a constitution prohibiting slavery, they were indentured to him for a term of years,
and some remained with him until his death at a good old age. Mr.
Whiteside was the member from Pope in the Illinois Legislature as
often and as long as he wished to be elected. He was a jovial, good-hearted man, good at an anecdote, and enjoyed
a joke even when at his own expense. He was very popular with the people.
This settlement was strengthened soon after in 1817 or 1818 by three brothers named Shufflebarger-or as since called S.Barger. The three brothers were named Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob, with their
cousin Simon S. Barger.
The grandfather of the Hon. Simon S. Barger,
came from Virginia. They were men of means, industrious and energetic, and as farmers became solid men. They were
the first farmers in the county to introduce red clover. They left numerous descendants, who have spread over the
north half of the county, with quite an overflow into adjoining counties.
Richard M. Water-the
father of Hon. Geo. W. Water-was
one of the pioneers of this part of the county, but at a later date he went to the neighborhood of Glendale.
In 1817 or 1818, Richard Fulkerson
started a settlement ten or twelve miles north of Golconda, and was soon joined by John Hamilton, some of the Cowsats, and others, who settled near them. The Fulkersons were good citizens, and had an influence for good in that part of the country. Rev. Richard Fulkerson, the well known Regular
Baptist preacher, is a son of the old pioneer. The Floyd family, who were allied to the Fulkersons, and the Finneys,
also related, came in a little later. All were men of note and became good citizens, and furnished the county with
a number of office-holders.
In the north part of the county there was an early settlement which was called "The
Morse Settlement", so called from John
Morse, who came from South Carolina in 1817, a Baptist minister,
who was the most prominent man in the community. He raised a large family, mostly sons, and the Morses are spread
all over the north end of the county. With him came Mathew Jenkins,
John, Joseph and Jonathan
Diarman. This settlement was for a number of years like an oasis
in the desert, being surrounded by the unbroken forest, with no other settler for miles in any direction. These
are all the prominent settlements which were made prior to the year 1820.
There were some isolated settlers prior to that time, but who did not form a neighborhood, and did not leave their
impress on the community. Of those I will name Benjamin Belford, who raised several sons noted for their height, almost a head over their neighbors; Ebenezer Simpson, who settled near where
New Liberty was afterward laid out, and who was in his younger days, engaged in running keel-boats on the Ohio
river. John Brown, also
a keel-boat hand, settled six miles north of Golconda, with his brother, Wm. Brown. Jesse McCool
settled in an early day on Lusk's creek, east of Eddyville, but did not remain there long, until he removed to a place near Dixon's Springs.
In the upper portion of Pope county-now Hardin-was the headquarters of a band of men known as the Sturdevants, who with other accomplishments of like honorable(?) character, carried on counterfeiting
for a profession. On this and other accounts they became very obnoxious to the honest citizens of the country,
and as they could not be convicted of the many offenses of which they were known to be guilty, they always proved
everything necessary for their acquittal, it was determined to take steps independent of the courts. A party was
raised, and led by Joseph Pryor,
Dr. Wm. Sim, Rev. Wm. Bondeau, Hugh
McNutty, John Raum, followed by others, made a descent upon the Sturdevant castle-a large two-story log home, but found the inmates prepared, and evidently expecting
them. They were gathered in the second story, and with their guns fired through loop-holes at the attacking party,
one of whom, Mr. Rondeau,
received a charge in his left shoulder. A rush was made for the door by the besiegers, and breaking it down they
attempted to ascend the stairs, but found a piece of artillery trained to rake the stairway when a sufficient number
of men should be ascending. The assaulting party withdrew and sent for reinforcements, but on their return found
no one except females, the men having made their escape in the interval. During the assault one of the Sturdevants appeared at a window to take
observations, and his head became a target for a moment, when some one fired at him, he spun round like a top and
fell to the floor, but was only stunned, it was thought, as he was not found afterwards.
The Sturdevants finding
that the citizens were in earnest, and meant business, felt that some other locality was as safe for them, left
the country and never returned. This affair occurred before 1820, exact date not known. Some others who were rather
too intimate with this gang, were notified to leave the country, while some were conducted to Hurricane Island,
where Judge Lynch at that time held his court, and from whose decisions there was no appeal.
So far as known, this was the first band of Regulators organized in Pope county, and at least one of this band
was prominent in
another organization at a later date. I allude to Dr. William Sims, one of the best citizens, in every respect, that ever lived in the county. Dr. Sims came from Aberdeen, Scotland, to
American, by a mistake, and located at Golconda by an accident, December 31st 1818, and had a long and successful practice in his profession.
For a number of years the nearest physicians were at Shawneetown and Jonesborough, Illinois and Hopkinsville, Kentucky.
The only resident attorney in the county at an early date was Charles
Dunn, who resided in Golconda for some years, until
Wisconsin was organized into a Territory, when Mr. Dunn was appointed Governor of the Territory, and removed there,
coming back. There was no other resident lawyer from the time of Dunn's leaving until near 1840, when Judge Wesley Sloan
settled here, remaining until his death. He was a man of more common ability as an attorney at law, but was not
oratorical powers, but he was a hard student as long as he was in practice, and had more than ordinary success.
He was never
known to go out of court on the papers when he prepared them. He was not quick as some were, but when he gave an
opinion, after mature thought, he was uniformly correct.
The attorneys who practiced here were largely from Shawneetown. I will mention Henry Eddy, Jeff Gatewood,
S.S. Marshall, John A. McClernand, and Jepthia Hardin. Occasionally, in important
cases, an attorney from Princeton or Hopkinsville would appear at the Pope circuit court. There was no judge of
the circuit court a resident of the county until Judge Wesley Sloan was raised to the Bench.
The pioneer ministers having been mentioned, we will add nothing further at this place. As before mentioned, Dr. Sim was the only physician in or near
Golconda, and he as
a result, had a large tract of country to travel over. When Dr. Sims was married, he went to Philadelphia for his
bride, going on horseback, and returning, with his bride, in a carriage, to Golconda.
In the thirties, however, Tarlton Dunn-a
brother of Charles Dunn-studied
medicine with Dr. Sims,
and soon after Ebenezer Rondeau-a
son of Rev. Wm. Rondeau,
and John P. Hodge, and
James H. Hanna became
his pupils, all of whom were successful practitioners, for a longer or shorter period. All have passed over the
river to "that bourne from whence no traveler returns." Dr
Sims died at his post in Golconda; Dr. Dunn
died in Equality, Gallatin county;
Dr. Rondeau died in
Livingston county, Kentucky,
and Dr. Hanna died in
the present limits of Massac county, below Metropolis. A younger and more numerous crop of doctors have sprung into existence, and now, four
or five miles is quite a ride for an M.D. to take in his buggy or road cart, instead of the twenty or thirty miles
on horseback of their predecessors.
Perhaps the historian wishing to give his readers a favorable opinion of the times of which he was writing would
say little, or
nothing, about the early schools, school houses, or teachers of the common schools. Especially would this be the
case when writing of the early days of Pope county, but the historian does not make history, he records it.
So far as I can learn the first county school-if not the first school-in Pope county, was taught in the present
limits of Hodgeville
by George H. Hanna,
and the second in a different house, was taught by a Mr. Woolcut, and the third in the same bounds, but in a different house, was taught by a Mr. Wheat. Sometimes two of these schools
were in progress at the same time.
James Pittallo, emigrated
from Scotland, taught for a number of years, and was-for that time-an excellent teacher. He was raised in affluence,
and never taught to do any work. When he was of age he inherited eighty thousand pounds, sterling. He, however,
with what assistance he received, soon get of this incumbrance, and was reduced to poverty. He said that the people
would have to support him, for he could do no business, but if they would permit him, he would educate their children
for them. Generally the best qualification for a school teacher, was his inability, or unfitness for any other
occupation. School teachers in that day were mostly cripples. The school house of that date was neither commodious
nor elegant; in fact, gave no external evidence of a seminary or college. But boys or girls obtained there the
rudiments of an education which made of them men and women who in after years were persons of note and usefulness.
Take a typical house in which school was taught in those days. The house was built of unhewn logs, about eighteen
by twenty feet in dimension. When about four feet high another wall was built across one end three or four feet
from the outer wall, and this served for a fire place, and a chimney which extended across the entire building.
The whole was then daubed with clay to close the space between the logs, and roofed with clapboards.
Trees were cut and split into slabs five or six inches thick and were laid on logs for a floor. Smaller trees were
split into halves,
auger holes bored in them in which to drive legs, and these, with the flat side up, were the seats on which the
pupils sat at their
studies. At the end opposite the huge fire place, a log was sawn from the building, and just below this opening,
a broad plank was fastened to the wall for a writing desk. Usually this opening for light was entirely open, but
sometimes paper which had been oiled to make it translucent, was fastened over the so-called window to keep out
the cold. This is a true description of the seminaries in which the children of the pioneers obtained their education.
One of the early teachers in Golconda was a gentleman named Kerr-a law student, who taught for some time and became insane. One night some men were watching
with him; he remarked to one of them: "You think I am crazy." "No," was the reply; "we
do not think you are crazy." "Well," says Mr. Kerr, "I will prove that you do think me crazy."
He then stepped up to the gentleman and gave him a kick, looked him in the face a moment, and repeated the kick.
"Now," says he, "every gentlemen present is satisfied that you believe me to be crazy, else you
would kick me in return."
In those early schools it was the custom for the pupils, while studying their lessons, to spell, read and prepare
all studies for
recitation, to use their vocal powers as they chose-or, as it was called-they had a "loud school," and
indeed it was sometimes
distressingly loud! Where there were a number of strong lungs in full play, each striving to excel the other in
vocal volume, it
sounded as though pandemonium, or Bedlam, had broken loose.
Another custom was common in those early schools. A pupil, while preparing his orthography lesson, would sometimes
meet with a word which he was unable to pronounce, and under these circumstance, would leave his seat, and advance
to the teacher, and standing with his book in one hand and the index finger of the other hand at the difficult
word, would hold the book before the teacher, who would pronounce the word for him. The pupil would then resume
his seat and repeat the word as pronounced for him. On one occasion, in a school taught by one of these qualified
teachers-as before mentioned-a boy came to the teacher, book in hand, finger at the word, the teacher looked at
the word, but he was in the same condition that his pupil was, and, being unable to give the pronunciation, he
told the boy to skip it. The boy returned to his seat, and as was the custom, repeated the pronunciation as given
by his teacher, "Skip-it, skipit!"
If, with these opportunities for an education, the pioneer children became ministers, lawyers, doctors, and legislators,
heights of learning would they have soared, had they enjoyed the facilities of an education which their children
and grandchildren have since enjoyed?
While there have been a number of homicides in the then limits of Pope county, and several convictions for murder,
yet there has never been but one execution in the county-that of Henry
C. Shouse, who was tried here on a change of venue from Gallatin
county. Shouse was a
member of the James Ford gang,
with headquarters at Ford's Ferry,
on the Kentucky side of the river; but the act was committed in Illinois. It appeared that one of the gang had
more knowledge of the doings of the others then they thought was safe, and perhaps his actions caused them to suspect
that he intended to squeal. "As dead men tell no tales," Shouse secured his silence very effectually. He was tried at the spring term of the Pope circuit
court, and though ably defended, was convicted, sentenced and executed in June, 1932. He made a confession which
was said to implicate in the crime some persons in high positions. His confession was designed for publication,
but the expectations of the public were doomed to be disappointed, as it was suppressed; but how it was spirited
away and where concealed has never been known to the public. Some responsible persons who were present at the confession
as witnesses were asked to make a public statement of the leading facts, but properly declined to do so, as they
might by mistake criminate an innocent person.
GAMES AND LEISURE
In those pioneer days the strength of muscle, the powers of endurance, and quickness of movement were of the first
importance, and were held in higher esteem than were intellectual or moral qualities, and as nature always makes
an effort to supply its own deficiencies, the amusements and sports of the younger men and boys were of a character
calculated to develop the qualities which were held in the highest regard. When young men or boys were together
and had leisure, their pastime was running foot races, jumping, wrestling, lifting or throwing weights, all of
which tended to develop a muscular power. For an example, James Fulkerson, son of Richard Fulkerson, the old pioneer, was a large muscular man, but gave no idea of activity in his form,
or figure, which only indicated massive strength. Yet he was never defeated in a foot race. In 1832 he was one
of the volunteers who went out in the Black Hawk war. While there a discussion arose between the regiment from
southern Illinois and a Wisconsin regiment as to the best jumper. A challege for a jumping match was given and
accepted. The match was for three jumps on the level prairie. The Illinois regiment selected for their champion
Mr. Fulkerson, while
the Wisconsin regiment pitted against him their Colonel, Henry Dodge. The two regiments met on the ground selected, to witness the contest. Mr. Fulkerson jumped first, but was so clumsy
and awkward in his movements that quite a laugh was raised by the backers of Colonel
Dodge. They said there was danger of him knocking the bottom out
of the earth.
Colonel Dodge jumped
off so light and springy that he seemed to scarcely touch the ground, going two or three beyond Fulkerson, who then jumped and went three
or four feet beyond the point reached by Dodge, who after repeated trials gave up the contest, and acknowledged defeat. In fact, Mr. Fulkerson was never defeated at a standing
three jumps, in which he covered thirty-six feet or more on a level.
As to his strength in lifting heavy weights, a single instance will suffice. At a gathering of some thirty or forty
men at a log-rolling,
there was a heavy cast-iron wheel, and it was proposed to test the strength of the men by lifting that wheel. Upon
lifting at the
wheel only three men could raise it from the ground, to-wit: James
F. Fulkerson, Richard
Fulkerson-his brother- and John
Blanchard. Blanchard lifted the wheel with Richard Fulkerson on it; Richard Fulkerson raised it with Blanchard on it, and James Fulkerson raised it with both n Richard Fulkerson and Blanchard
on it, both being heavy men. These three men were raised to pioneer life, and had cultivated muscle from childhood.
So far this sketch has been limited to the time preceding the year 1820, but now
will give a statement of the origin, and acts of the Regulators so far as Pope county was concerned. In the year
1842 a man named Henry Sides came
to the country from
Tennessee and located a few miles southwest of Eddyville. He was what was called a "Carolina Dutchman," was honest and
simple, and had no fear of the dishonesty of others. He owned sixteen or eighteen slaves, and thinking that he
ought not to leave
them in slavery at his death, having no children, he knew, in that case, they would be scattered, and families
broken up, so he
resolved to manumit them during his life.
As the laws of Tennessee forbade the act of manumission there, he came to Illinois, where he could carry out his
plan. As some of his slaves had married others, owned by other persons, he, before leaving Tennessee, purchased
such as had
husbands or wives owned by him, so as not to disturb the family relation then existing, and brought them with him,
them on the same terms that he did those that he owned before. This shows the principles by which he was governed.
Mr. Sides entered land,
built him a home, and houses for this colored wards, gave them their freedom, and gave bonds according to the then
existing laws on the subject, and all lived on the same farm, he managing for them, and working as hard according
to ability as they. A year or two later, a Mr. Dobb of Tennessee, having a number of slaves, and no family, brought his slaves out to Pope
county, Illinois, and manumitted them according to law, purchased land for them and settled them on it, supplied
their immediate wants, and left them under the care of Mr. Sides. Mr. Dobbs,
soon after died in Tennessee, and when his will was probated, it was found that he left all his estate to his ex-slaves,
and appointed Mr. Sides
executor of his last will. On the settlement of the estate of Dobbs there were two thousand dollars in the hands of the executor for the use of the legatees.
This amount was forwarded to Mr. Sides
in silver half dollars, in two boxes of one thousand dollars each. There was no bank in Golconda at that time,
and Mr. Sides not thinking that this sum would be a temptation to persons less honest than himself, hauled the
boxes to his home and hoisted them up on the loft until he could make distribution.
This sum of money, so carelessly stowed away, excited the cupidity of certain persons, who thought that what "a
owned, a white man had the right to take and possess, and they formed the plan to possess themselves of the treasure.
Accordingly several men, headed by the notorious Hiram - or Hite -
Green, organized for that purpose. After having made some thefts
of less importance to test the ability of that neighborhood to trace a thief, they in July 1841, went at night
to the house of Mr. Sides,
where he and his wife, each about seventy years of age, lived alone, except a young woman, who was lame, and with
clubs knocked the old couple on the head, causing insensibility, and partially stunning the younger woman, took
the boxes of treasure, bursted them open, put the silver in pillow cases and left. The younger woman was able to
note their actions, as well as their numbers, but in their disguise did not recognize any one, and indeed would
not have done so had they not been disguised. The only clue left, was a large knife in a scabbard, which had been
attached to its owner's clothing by a button, which coming off, the knife was laid on a box and was forgotten in
the hurry of departure, and was left behind as a witness against them.
The marauders, after dividing a portion of their booty, sank the remainder in one of the ponds, of which there
are many in the
bottom bordering Big Bay creek,
and dispersing kept themselves "shady" for a time.
The old pair were so injured that their recovery seemed more than doubtful, and Mr.
Sides carried the scar on this head to his
grave, while Mrs. Sides
suffered the loss of an eye from the blows received. This outrage, as was to be expected, roused the
whole community to hunt down the perpetrators, not so much on account of the theft, as for the brutal assault on
Mr. and Mrs.
Sides, who were highly repected by all who knew them.
The knife, which was the only clue left, was examined by many, and among others, by Jesse
Davidson, a blacksmith, who
recognized it as his own make, and he knew for whom he made it. Within the next few hours, Ned Hazel, the owner, was in jail. But he
proving to the satisfaction of the authorities, that he had sold the knife to Dan
Hazel, was held to be innocent, but still retained in custody to
prevent him telling the others the true owner of the knife and thus give them opportunity to escape. During the
next night Dan Hazel
was lodged in jail.
Then was the organization called the "Regulators" formed, with the avowed object of bringing the culprits
to justice under the laws of the land, and through the legally constituted courts of justice. Judge Lynch's authority
was not invoked, nor was unnecessary violence inflicted on any one. But the sheriff was instructed to take no bonds
for the appearance of any one in custody charged with the Sides' affair. The management, or directory was composed
of such men as Dr. Wm. Sim,
Judge Wesley Sloan and
William Finney-the then
Thomas Campbell, with
others, assisting and guards as occasion demanded. The plans were known only to the management until the culprits
were in custody.
Dan Hazel on examination
professed entire ignorance of the whole matter, and knew nothing of the knife, and as a matter of
course could not tell who were the perpetrators of the outrage. The management felt assured that Hazel was guilty,
name his accomplices if he would. He was promised immunity from prosecution, and safety to his person on condition
would name his accomplices, and testify in the court of their guilt. He was threatened with Lynch law in case of
his refusal, but all to no effect. He still denied any knowledge of the Sides tragedy, and persisted in his denial.
Still satisfied of the guilt of Dan Hazel, other measures were resorted to. There were in custody several other
persons who had
been arrested on suspicion, and who were kept separate from Dan, and from each other. One of them would be taken
Dan under guard at night, and taken off out of sight-but not out of hearing-and some hickories being prepared,
a tree would be
whipped unmercifully, while some one would beg piteously for mercy-apparently in vain. The supposed victim would
removed and Dan conducted to the place, where he could see the worn switches and plenty of fresh ones, with the
men prepared to use them, and be tied to the tree, all ready for punishment. But all in vain-Dan remained stubbornly
silent so far as the Sides robbery was concerned. After all these measures proved futile, the directors held a
meeting for consultation. They despaired of obtaining a confession from the prisoner and what next to do was the
question to be determined. It was finally resolved to take him, at night, out of the jurisdiction of the State,
and give him all the punishment he could bear without taking his life, and then warn him to never return to the
But the work of the Regulators was not yet done. The prisoners were to be kept in jail with a guard. The sheriff
was to be
sustained in his refusal to take bail for the prisoners. Unless the culprits could be brought into court for trial
all their work had been in vain. It was agreed by the prisoners that if a special term of court was held for their
benefit, that they would put in a plea of guilty to an indictment for the offense, and thus save them from lying
in jail during the heat of the summer, and save the county the expense of keeping them. A term of court was appointed
at as early a day as could be done. Juries were impaneled and Dan
Hazel brought before the grand jury to give evidence as he had agreed
to do, but a change had come over him, and he told the jury that he knew nothing of the matter whatever.
He was taken back to jail and put into the dungeon with the others-he had been kept separate from the others and
quarters. Ahab Farmer,
a young man of nineteen or twenty years, whose father and brothers were respectable and honest
citizens, was taken out and gladly accepted the terms which had been given to Hazel. He testified before the grand
jury, a true bill of indictment was returned into court, and the next day set for a hearing of the cause.
Upon being arraigned the prisoners, one and all, plead "Not guilty," and filed an affidavit for change
of venue, and the court
ordered the case to Johnson county. As the Johnson county court did not meet until late in September, and there
being no special term asked for, the prisoners had to be kept over. They thought that they would be immediately
removed to Vienna for
safe-keeping, and hoped to escape from the jail there, and were disappointed when informed that they would remain
in jail at
Golconda. Then came a long term of guarding the jail, as it was not very secure, being made of logs.
The work of the Regulators thus far had been of the nature of a "posse comitatus" more than that of an
irresponsible body of
citizens, but now they were necessarily to assume a more independent position, and to assume the character that
in some respects was outside of the law of the land. It became necessary to maintain a strong guard around the
jail, especially at night, and the expense of such a guard being too great for the finances of the county, volunteers
were received and organized. Five or six men would become responsible for a guard for one night each week, and
others for each other night of the week, and each guard knew his own night for duty, and only that guard would
report. Sometimes as many as thirty men would be on guard at one time.
During the interval between the special term of Pope circuit court-some two months-and the Johnson county court,
a plan was laid by the friends of the prisoners for their release. The town was to be fired, and during the confussion
that would ensue, the jail was to be broken, and the prisoners set at liberty. Spies were sent to town at night
to know the strength and watchfulness of the guard. On the west side of the county it was know just who were on
guard on a given night, and on one occasion it was known what they took for their midnight lunch. The emissaries
who were riding and notifying the parties, made the mistake of notifying the wrong man, who dissembled until he
had as much information as he wanted, and the emissary gone, mounted his horse, and by pathways hurried to Golconda,
and gave notice of the game. Not many hours elapsed until that particular agent was in Golconda under a guard.
On his arrival at town a somewhat laughable-but to him humiliating-scene took
place. He had some days previously been seen
talking with the prisoners, and crying over their pitiable condition-he not being related to any of them-the matter
was noted as
being an unnecessary manifestation of feeling on his part towards such characters as they had proven themselves
to be. So on his arrival in Golconda quite a crowd gathered around him, and pressing close to him, even leaning
over him, began to cry over him and lament his unfortunate condition, while the crowd continued to increase and
the cries became louder, and the tears more copious. The hills which rise around Golconda echoed the lamentations
for quite a time. A stranger to the scene might have supposed that some dire public calamity had befallen the place.
No personal violence was offered to him, however, but after some days' detention-his father-in-law having interceded
for him as of a weak constitution-he was given a coat of tar and feathers, and permitted to make his escape, since
when he has not been heard from. Others who had been active participants in the scheme, were arrested, and after
being detained for a longer or shorter period, were permitted to leave, which they did as soon as leave was given.
One, George Vanduser,
who had been elected county commissioner, had manifested considerable sympathy toward the prisoners, came on the
first Monday of September to take his seat with the others to transact-the county business. He was waited on by
a committee and advised to resign his office. Reasons were given and urged with such earnestness that he saw the
force of them and acted in accordance with the advice given.
In a few instances the Regulators departed from the main object of their organization-the Sides outrage-to arrest
and confine other persons for other offenses. Some were arrested for larceny, one for passing counterfeit money,
and perhaps some for minor offenses. One John Nokes, who had habitually maltreated his wife, was arrested, and for want of room above, was
put into the dungeon where the Sides
robbers were confined and left there for a time, when his cries for help brought assistance and he was removed.
Some shingles had inadvertently been dropped into the dungeon, and the vile wretches had improved the opportunity
afforded to vent their spite on poor Nokes
until he was unable to sit up for quite a time.
The prisoners believing that taking the money was the gist of their crime, and that if it was recovered they would
with less energy, told where it was concealed; but upon search it was not found. Green said that he could find
it if given the
opportunity. Accordingly he was taken out under a strong guard, a distance of ten or twelve miles, and he found
the money, and was conducted back to jail, much to his disgust, as he thought that opportunity for his escape would
The time for holding court rolled round, and the prisoners heavily ironed, were placed in wagons, accompanied by
hundred armed men, safely arrived at Vienna. It was expected that an attempt for rescue would be made on the route,
as the way lay through that part of the county where the supposed friends of the prisoners lived-hence so strong
a guard-but no demonstration was made.
The trial was had, the prisoners were convicted and sentenced to a term in the penitentiary, and the object of
the Regulators being accomplished, they disbanded the organizations, and their work for good or ill, became a part
of the history of the county. Four of the six convicts died during the term of their sentence, and two only, Hite Green and William
B. Hazel, returned. Hazel settled down and went to work for his living, and so far as known acted honestly and honorably,
and to some extent retrieved his lost character. Not so Green, who had not reformed even outwardly, but was more cautious in his actions then before
he had experience of the power and will of the law and order loving people of Pope county. He lacked one more demonstration
of the wishes and determination of the people, which demonstration he received in due time.
We will follow up the history of the Regulators of Pope county with an episode, which has some relation to the
time of the
Regulators, both in the personnel, and the character of those times.
after completion of his term in the state's prison, returned to his old haunts. His father had died in the
meantime, as also his wife, an unmarried sister with his two children, lived in the old homestead. He only made
the old home his
headquarters, while the larger part of his time was spent in other parts.
At one time he and a "pal" remained longer than was usual at headquarters, and from their actions the
people were satisfied that
they were planning some evil scheme to be carried out, or were in hiding for some crime already committed. They
attempt to mingle with the citizens surrounding them, so far as known, spent their days and portions of the night
in the swamps
adjacent to the creek, and a part of the night of the old home, for learning any news, and to lay in supplies.
It was thought by some that to prevent crime was better than to punish it after it was done. A meeting was privately
called at an out of the way place to consider the matter. At the place appointed sixty or seventy person met who
lived near the place of rendezvous. On consulting together, some one announced that parties in Golconda had stated
to him that if the two men were put into their hands they would see that they should trouble the country no further.
It was argued by some that the only thing to do was to capture the men and deliver them. There was in the assemblage
magistrate who told them "no." That if there was any one in the crowd who could file the necessary affidavit
he would issue a
warrant for their arrest, and that they must proceed orderly, and according to law. A man came forward and truthfully
affidavit. A warrant was issued, and there being no constable convenient, the magistrate appointed a special constable,
immediatly summoned the whole company to assist him in making the arrest.
The company acting under orders, were divided into squads and their course indicated. The result was that the parties
found, run down and captured in a short time, were taken to town and no one caring to receive them, they were turned
loose to go where they pleased.
Green and the other
were loud in their threats against all concerned in the matter, but especially against the party who had run
them down and captured them. This continued until it was thought best to ignore it no longer.
A private meeting was held for consultation at which the eight young men who had captured the two men were present,
together with two or three men of age who were called in to counsel them. After hearing the different opinions
advanced, the old men asked them if they believed from their knowledge of the men that their lives were in danger,
and that an opportunity would be sought to secretly kill them. On their answering in the affirmative, the old men
gave them their opinion.
"That if they-the old men-believed that these men would seek an opportunity to kill them secretly, they would
not give them the
opportunity, but would be beforehand with them."
This meeting being held after night, the eight who had been threatened, repaired to the old Green homestead and secreted
themselves within sixty yards of the house to wait for the appearance of the men sought for. Some time in the night
seen to approach the house from the other side from where the ambush was laid. It had been agreed by the party
that when the
men sought for should be in gunshot, that all should bring their guns to bear upon the game, and wait until one
who was designated, should fire his piece, then all should fire as quickly as possible. The one selected to fire
was so chosen because his gun was sure fire.
About one o'clock in the morning the moon rose, and about two o'clock the men left the house from the front and
forty yards of the ambuscade, when the man with the sure fire gun, sighted his piece on Green and pulled trigger, when the cap
bursted without discharging the gun. The two men sprang like hunted deer, while a rattling volley followed them,
doing, however, no damage, so far as known.
Before sunrise the two men were at the Brooklyn ferry, without coats or hats and very anxious to cross the river. They were
detained, however, until a runner was sent to know they were wanted. The reply was to sent them across the river.
time if Green has been
back in his old haunts it has been secretly. Nothing certain is known of him since, but it was reported that during
the war he headed a band of guerillas, and was killed during some of his predatory excursions. From the known character
of the man Green, the report was deemed to be true.
This statement is now for the first time given to the public, the more freely that all of those who actively participated
in the matter have passed to that bourne from whence no traveler has ever returned. And, perhaps, there is but
one person living who
congnizant of all the facts as they occurred.
Some time in the early forties, a free colored man, who was known by the name of Elijah, settled about two miles from Golconda with a family of four children, aged ten years
upward, and lived a quiet peaceable life, and won the respect of his white neighbors, so far as colored men received
the respect of whites in those days.
Some time in the year 1843, a raid was made in the night upon Elijah and his children were carried off by parties who were
unknown. The alarm was given by the father before light, and such endeavors were made to trace them up by the neighbors
were thought necessary, but without the least success. The kidnappers had covered their tracks pretty effectually.
Certain parties were arrested on suspicion, and witnesses were examined who were supposed to have knowledge of
the matter, but without avail. The witnesses disdained any knowledge of the matter, and as a result the prisoners
were released. It now appeared that the guilty parties would escape punishment due them for their crime. Some efforts
were quietly made by certain parties to find the abducted children and restore them to their father. It was evident
that there could be but one object in view by the kidnappers, and this limited the search to the slave-holding
After a time such information was received that led to the conclusion that the children were on the farm of a Mr. Dorsey in the
state of Mississippi. Mr. William Rhodes,
who was then the sheriff of the county, accompanied by Elijah, whent to see them and if the information proved
true, to recover them and bring them home if possible. On reaching the farm of Mr.
Dorsey, they informed him frankly of their business, and inquired
if he had about that time purchased such children as were described to him. He admitted the purchase of such children,
and thought that he had a good title to them, having purchased in good faith, but that if he was deceived, he would
upon sufficient proof give up the property.
In answer to inquiry he stated that the children were at that time out on the farm, hoeing cotton. Mr. Rhodes then made him this proposition:
They three would walk out through the field near where they children were working, and if they were the children
of Elijah, he, Rhodes, thought that they would recongnize
him, and they would certainly know their father. And if such recongnition did not occur, he should lay no claim
to them, but should they know them, Mr. Dorsey should surrender them to their father.
This proposition was accepted, and the three persons went out to the farm where the children were engaged at work.
walked slowly, pausing here and there, as though examining the growing crop, and went so as to pass near the children
going directly to them. While yet at some distance from the children, they could see that they were observing them,
and when they were nearer-Elijah
being in the rear-one of the children called out, "La! yonder comes Mr.
Rhodes, yes and papa, too!"
And dropping their hoes, the children came running to them at their utmost speed. Mr.
Dorsey said that he was satisfied, and
would not contend against the evidence so brought before him, but that the old man should have his children restored
to him, which was done, and Mr. Rhodes
returned home with his charge, the father and children.
Mr. Dorsey having shown
Rhodes his title to the "property," he found that he had a bill of sale for the children, according to
the laws of Mississippi, "in such cases made and provided," which was signed by William H. Vaughn, who was known to Rhodes,
and was at that time a resident of Pope county.
This Vaughn was a man
who bought the tract of land on the Ohio, at the mouth of Big Bay creek, known as Bayfield. He was a man of considerable means, and nothing was known of his antecedents, but from
his constant watchfulness, and his "armed occupation," coupled with his entire silence in regard to his
previous life and place of residnece, he was thought to have been a member of some of those bands of pirates who
had infested the Gulf coast some years before. He kept a saloon sometimes at Bayfield, and for a time at Golconda.
While at Bayfield he was often visited by men who, so far as his neighbors knew, had no business relations with
him, and who
were entirely unknown, but who would come and go at irregular intervals, which perhaps gave rise in part, to the
regard to his former life. He also had a gun in his possession, which was of a kind unknown to the citizens around
This gun was one and a half to two inches in the bore, the barrel was about three feet in length, and there was
an extra trigger
underneath, and upon pulling it, a long dagger or spear, would fly out and stand fixed from the muzzle of the gun
like a bayonet.
Vaughn would only say
of it, that he "would not like to be where it had been."
On lying down to sleep, he laid two pistols on a table near his bed, and kept a rifle and shot gun in reach where
he lay. Such was Wm. H. Vaughn.
At the May, 1844, term of the Pope circuit court, the grand jury called this Vaughn before them to state from whom he procured the children whom he had sold to Dorsey. He hesitated, and after admitting
that he knew the parties, declined to testify. On being brought before the court, and the court having plainly
pointed out to him the consequences of a persistent refusal to answer the question, he stated that he feared to
make the parties known. He was assured by the court of protection. He said that he did not fear personal violence,
as that he could meet, but that he had a "reputation"-God save the mark-which would be assailed, and
in that regard the court could give him no adequate protection.
Of course the court could not entertain his plea for a moment, and he was returned to the grand jury room, where
after reflecting for a time he announced his willingness to answer such questions as the jury should ask him. He
stated to the jury that he received the children on a bill of sale, and that they were delivered to him by Joshua Handly, Peyton
Gordon, Caleb Slankard, and John Simpkins
of Pope county, and Joe Lynn
and Hiram Campbell of
Massac county. The parties were indicted, warrants were issued for the arrest of the parties, and delivered to
the sheriff in the afternoon, and before daylight the next morning Handly and Gordon
were lodged in jail, Slankard
was brought in early in the day, and Simpkins at a later hour. Lynn and Campbell
came in voluntarily with their bail, and were not committed to jail. Within ten days after this William H. Vaughn was dead, and every one
on being informed of his death, asked who killed him. His death was caused by apoplexy, and there being no other
witness against the prisoners, they were discharged from custody.
This ends the Pope Co. History