Bedminster New Jersey to Magnolia Illinois

Compiled by James A. Cavanaugh

Cornelius Hunt was born in Bedminster, Somerset, NJ on 9Aug1799 and lived in Bedminster until some time between 1808 and 1812. Just prior to the war of 1812 many pioneers decided to move west. For some reason Cornelius' father Enoch chose to move to Ohio by traveling northwest to Wilkes-Barre, PA instead of the more direct southwest route to Pittsburg and the Ohio River. Their travel was by two oxen powered covered wagons. Enoch and mother Catherine each drove a wagon. Cornelius and John and were old enough to be of some help. Time lines suggest that Cornelius' uncle Stephen Hunt III and aunt Anna Vantine Hunt and their 8 children probably moved and traveled with half-brother Enoch Hunt VII. There was safety in numbers. Since pioneers depended on crops they themselves grew, their traveling probably took place in the winter between harvest and spring planting. A great days travel would be 15 miles. Ten (10) miles a day was more normal. In bad weather you could probably see your old camp site from your new one.

In Wilkes-Barr the family stopped for several months. Here they made friends with John and Mary Sidle the parents of Elizabeth Ann, Cornelius' future wife. When they left Wilkes-Barr for Pittsburg and the Ohio River, the Sidles went with them. Once they reached Pittsburg the families travel down the Ohio River to the Muskingum River at Marietta, OH. Traveling north along the river they reached Licking, Muskingum county where they settled and farmed for over 20 years. John Sidle and his son David became millers with a grist mill John built on Licking Creek. The oldest daughter Sophia, born in N.J, and Elizabeth Ann eventually went to Illinois with their husbands.

Cornelius lived in Licking, Muskingum, Ohio near Zanesville until c. 1827. He married long-time friend Elizabeth Ann Sidle Hunt in 1819 and they had three girls by the late 1820s. Stories were coming out of the Illinois Territory about untouched timber, deep rich prairie soil, healthful living and many streams and forests. The Hunts decided to move to Putnam County Illinois which was all of northeast Illinois in 1827. Recorded arrival dates suggest that Cornelius and Richard may have traveled together at least to Vermilion County, Illinois. Zanesville to Putnam County was about a 400 mile trip. Following sometimes nearly impassible trails in covered wagons was slow going. After the 300 miles to Vermilion County Cornelius and Ann stopped along the Vermilion River near Danville to raise food. Cornelius would have left Ohio in the fall/early winter of 1827-28 and planted his crop in Vermilion County in the spring of 1828. He likely ventured on alone to Putnam County in 1828 and purchased Shepherd's claim and then returned to Vermilion County. John Sidle Hunt was born in January 1829 near Danville. George Hollenback and wife Sophia (Elizabeth Ann's sister) and Clark Hollenback joined the Hunts in Vermilion County.

No mills or markets existed in the region in 1828. The few settlers that were around had to depend on their own their own devices, labors, and ingenuity. Cornelius made his grist mill by cutting down a large oak and smoothing the stump. He then bored holes in the stump top eighteen inches apart and set fire to it so that each hole was burned in the shape of a bowl. He then arranged a heavy iron sweep or hammer to pound his corn into meal. Neighbors came from 15 - 20 mile away to use this improvised mill. Each man did his own pounding and often stayed all night awaiting his turn (A. Dixon).

Cornelius initially settled in Putnam Co. near Magnolia sometime in the spring 1829. Cornelius purchased a claim from Smiley Shepherd (formerly owned by James and Stephen Willis). Since Shepherd reports settling in Hennepin 1828, Cornelius would have bought Shepherd's Magnolia claim in 1828. This site was near John Knox's claim, whose house was built where Magnolia stands today. The homestead was on 160 acres about 1/2 mile northeast of Magnolia is part of section 26 and 25 of Magnolia Township. In 1832 Cornelius Hunt sold his claim of 160 acres for $300 to George S. Park. The land is part of Park's historic homestead in SW 1/4 Sections 25 and SE 1/4 Section 26 T31N R1W. Park's homestead stood on the north side of County Road 120 N, 0.55 miles east of County Road 1445E, at the "T" intersection (Marge Haws). Cornelius then moved about 1/2 mile south of Magnolia to Section 2 in what is now Roberts Township, Marshall County (then Putnam Co.). Original land patent records show that he bought 125 acres in Section 2 and 80 acres in Section 4 for $1.25 an acre in 1833. Ellsworth reports that Cornelius moved southeast of Magnolia toward Sandy Creek in c. 1829, but the move is more likely in 1832.

Brother Richard Hunt is reported to be in the Caledonia area in 1828 and father Enoch VII and brother John III families seem to have arrived in Putnam/Marshall County at the same time c. 1830. In the land grant purchases between 1833 and 1836, Richard, John (III), and Cornelius bought land within three miles of each other. Marshall County was very wild with few settlers in the 1830s. These three were some of the very early pioneer settlers. Indian troubles were still occurring. All the plots were adjacent to Sandy Creek. Early settlers knew how to farm cleared, forest soils (eastern experience). Hence they settled on forest edges along water courses for a source of water, timber to build with, and soil they knew would grow crops. George and Clark Hollenback families arrived at Magnolia in 1829. George built a grist mill on Sandy Creek in 1830. In 1831 George and Clark moved to land along the Fox River, north of Ottawa, in present day Kendall County near Millbrook. Enoch VII and Catherine and son Enoch VIII lived for a few years in Marshall/Putnam County and then moved to McLean Co. near Bloomington, where they remained.

In May 1832, Blackhawk, chief of the Sac Indians, crossed the Mississippi River and was sending out raiding parties to the Fox and Illinois River territories. The settlers of Sandy Creek decided to stay and build a fort for protection. Fort Darnell was built on the farm of Benjamin Darnell of sufficient size to hold 70 people and all their equipment and possessions. Several Hunts helped build the fort and lived there until the spring of 1833. These were Cornelius Hunt and wife Elizabeth Ann and children Mary, Caroline, Catherine Ann and John Sidle Hunt; Richard Hunt and wife Ruth; John S. Hunt and wife Margaret and children James, Catherine, Richard, Mary Ann, and Rebecca; father Enoch Hunt VII and mother Catherine; brother Enoch Hunt VIII; sister Catherine Eliza Hunt Camp and her husband Fredrick (A. Dixon). Richard Hunt and John S. Hunt served with Col. John Strawn's 40th Brigade of the Illinois Militia in Capt. William Haws Company " Haws Rangers" during the Black Hawk War.

Chief Shabbona on his ride to Ft. Dearborn for help after the Davis Family massacre, stopped at George Hollenbeck's farm along the Fox. When his horse dropped dead, George loaned him one to finish his ride. The residents of Ft. Darnell buried the victims of the massacre. Elizabeth Ann Hunt shot an Indian while on guard duty one night. Brothers Cornelius, Richard, John and others hauled supplies from Peoria and Chicago. Wheat hauled to Chicago was sold for $0.50 a bushel and salt purchased for $5.00 a barrel. Richard Hunt, Justice of the Peace of Sandy LaSalle County, married cousin Thomas Hollenback (son of Clark) and Susan Darnell (1833) while living in the fort. Richard and Ruth Horrom married Jan 1, 1833 at Ft. Darnell (A. Dixon).

In 1847 and 1848 Cornelius bought 220 acres in Hope Twp., LaSalle Co, rented his Marshall land, and moved to his new homestead. They called the road that ran by their homestead British Lane for all the Englishmen that had settled along it (now IL Rte 18). His home became a station on the underground railway. One of the three major Illinois routes was from Alton to Jacksonville and then through LaSalle and Ottawa to Chicago. The Illinois River Valley was an easy route to follow. In his book, Siebert states that Magnolia, Putnam County was a principal station on the Illinois system. Cousin William F. Hunt and son Lovejoy Hunt moved to Reading Township, Livingston County IL from Ohio in the early 1850s and were known as very strong abolitionists. They lived 12 miles east of Cornelius, John, and Richard. There had to be a sense of mutual aid and also cooperation along the underground railroad between the William and Cornelius Hunt families.

When the Civil War began, sons William and Jacob enlisted on Aug.22, 1862 with 104th Infantry, Company H. William and Jacob served in many battles (Hartsville, Siege Chickamauga, Siege of Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain and Mission Ridge, etc.). They were both captured and paroled to Chicago in 1862. William was wounded and eventually discharged for disability on Dec. 21, 1863. Jacob was killed at the Battle of Atlanta on Jun 7, 1864 and buried at Acworth, GA.

Cornelius and Elizabeth Ann lived-in Hope Twp. until 1874 when Cornelius died. Sons John S. IV, Enoch S. IX, William, and Philip, moved along with three brother-in-laws to Ford County in the 1867 when John and Cornelius bought land near Melvin. The brothers were instrumental in founding Melvin, IL. Elizabeth Ann lived with Philip after Cornelius died.


" U.S. Census data; & Census Finder

" Public Record Original land Grant Purchases from US Government - online

" THE - A - KI - KI; "BEAUTIFUL LAND"; Quarterly Publication of; KANKAKEE VALLEY GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY; February, 1975 Vol. 6, No. 1; Contributed by Mrs. J. H. Hicks

" John S. Hunt Biography; History of Ford County IL, 1892; Melvin, IL Public Library

" John S. Hunt Biography; History of Ford County IL, 1908; Melvin, IL Public Library

" John S. Hunt Biography; History of Ford County IL, 1984; Melvin, IL Public Library

" Cornelius Hunt probate record Box H, file 171 @ LaSalle County Genealogy Guild

" Chapter IV, History of Putnam County - online

" From Rootsweb…; Early Northeast U.S. Hunt Families, Descendants of Enoch Hunt (1)

" Family Search, online

" Probate Record and will of Cornelius Hunt, 1874, La Salle Co. IL

" Magnolia Cemetery Burial Records

" Records of the Olden Time Or, Fifty Years on the Prairies-Marshall and Putnam Co; Spencer Ellsworth

" Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Cos. 1907 Burt & Hawthorne

" Prairie Pioneers of IL; IL State Genealogical Society Vol. II

" 1983 History of Marshall County

" Evans Township, Marshall County, Il - by Nancy Piper; at Genealogy Trails

" Pioneers of Evans Township, from 1880 Henry Republican - by Nancy Piper, at Genealogy Trails

" The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom," by Prof. Wilbur H. Siebert, of Ohio State University;

" The Hunt Family - 1066 to 1972. Mary Adelaide Dixon. 1972 a family genealogy and history.

" Family Histories

" .From Rootsweb…; Early Northeast U.S. Hunt Families, Descendants of Enoch Hunt

" Marge Haws, Genealogists and Local Historian Magnolia, IL. Personal Communication

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