Letter From Thomas Dent, Putnam County Illinois
To Thomas Plummer Ijams

Donated by Peggy Cacciamatta

Copy of a letter written by Thomas Dent to his cousin Louis E. Ijams ,
both grandsons of Thomas Plummer Ijams, 1901

I regret that I cannot attend the Reunion of the Ijams and Rodman families, which is soon to take place in Miller Park. I therefore address my cousin Louis E. Ijams to refer to some items as to some of our kinsfolk.

Dear Cousin Louis:

My acquaintance with both you and our grandfather Ijams, so far as well recollected began in the early part of Sept. 1844. I was then in my thirteenth year. My father and mother with their children, then six in number, the second of the flock being myself, had journeyed from Magnolia, Putnam County, Ill. to Muskingum County, Ohio, on a visit.

Grandfather Ijams and Grandmother Elizabeth Ijams had visited us in our home in Oxbow Prairie, Ill. in 1835 but at the time first above mentioned I had only the shadow of recollection of their first visit having been too young at the time of their visit to remember it distinctly.

In passing through Dayton, Urbana, Richmond, Delaware and Newark to your father's home near Gratiot in Muskingum County Ohio, in August and the three or four first days in Sept. 1844, we saw frequent evidences of the interest the people were taking in the election contest in which Clay and Frelinghusen were the Whig Nominees for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency in the opposition to the Polk and Dallas, the Democratic candidates. The grown men and the boys also manifested their concern. Here and there were poles to indicate preferences, hickory poles to signify adherence to the Democrat party, and others to show attachment to the Whig party.Our friends were generally of the staid old Whig party and earnest supporters of Henry Clay.

Pausing a little while at the residence of your father and mother, on the North side of the National road, in the neighborhood of the Rodman settlement, we soon visited Grandfather and Grandmother Elizabeth Ijams.

There had for a long time been near Asbury Chapel, on a leading road to Zanesville, the market town of the county seat of Muskingum County and that continued to be their home until they were gathered to their fathers.

They lived in a neat and well built brick house, situated a short distance back from the road. The approach from which was by a walk having but a slight ascent. The house was built on the side of a hill sloping eastward and north eastward. The entrance to the basement and cellar was on a lower level from the side hill as it sloped eastward, and not specially observable from the walk up to the front of the house. The spring with the spring house in which milk and butter were kept cool was a little further down the road, and near there to north eastward from the house and lower that the basement of the dwelling.

It was an excellent spring, and formed the head of a clear little stream that ran along through the meadow.

Grandmother Ijams, Elizabeth, had her loom house and out door back oven. She was thoroughly capable of managing all house work and from time to time went on horseback to Zanesville to do marketing.

The home and surrounding were very comfortable and pleasant. The orchard was excellent. It contained choice varieties of apples and peaches, as I well remember.

Early in the present century, in 1806, I think it was, William Hamilton and Susan, his wife, removed from Monogalia County, Virginia, accompanied by some of their children and their families, and settled in the locality. My fathers mother [Rebecca Hamilton who married John E. Dent.] and Grandmother Elizabeth (so mentioned by her given name to distinguish her from our Grandmother Sarah, the former wife of Grandfather Ijams), were among the children who colonized to that part of Muskingum County., Ohio.

The homestead of the parents, William and Susannah, his wife, was in the fall of 1844, that of their son Rev. Samuel Hamilton, a distinguished Methodist minister, whom I well remember seeing while I was upon the visit before mentioned, and whose manly and rugged appearance, one seeing him would not be likely to forget. Grandmother Hamilton had died early in that year. [Rebecca Hamilton]

Grandfather Ijams was born in Maryland April 3, 1773. He died at his homestead in Ohio on Aug. 16, 1847, in his 75th year. He was twice married, first to Sarah Duvall of Maryland and secondly to Elizabeth Manly, nee Hamilton, widow of Rev. Robert Manly a pioneer Minister.

There was by the first marriage of Grandfather Ijams, seven children, whose given names were Rebecca, Lewis, Harriet, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Comfort and Sarah all of whom reared families, and all of whom finally with their families moved to this state. [Illinois] By the second marriage of grandfather Ijams, the eldest Rebecca Ijams was twice married, first to James Beck, and secondly to John Sunderland.

Mr. and Mrs. Sunderland came to Tazewell County, Illinois, at the early date and settled near Washington in the county.

My Grandfather John Evans Dent, visited Ill., in 1829, and chose a location for himself and children, married and unmarried, in what was then considered a part of Tazewell County, but which early in 1831 became a part of the present Putnam County, Ill. To that neighborhood in which Grandfather Dent made his settlement, my father and mother (she being next to the youngest of my Grandfather Ijams children by his first wife) removed in the early part of the fall of 1831. My father having previously opened to some extent the farm to which they came.

An older sister of my mothers named Elizabeth Ijams, the third daughter of my Grandfather Ijams, was married to the Rev. Zadok Hall, and they with their children, two in number, came with father and mother to Ill. in Sept. 1831. Uncle Zadok and Aunt Elizabeth chose the vicinity of Washington, Ill. for their home place. He was itinerate during his active work in the ministry, which continued for many years, but both were at their death living on their homestead in Tazewell County, Ill.

One of my mother sisters, next older to myself, named Charlotte Ijams, was married to Isaac Springer. They with their family removed from Ohio to Ill. in the fall of 1834. And first settled in the vicinity of what is now Magnolia. My mothers youngest sister, Sarah, was married to Joseph Hall, a younger brother of Rev. Zadok Hall. Uncle Joseph and Aunt Sarah came to Ill. in 1835. I presume it was or it may have been early in 1836. I remember quite well that Uncle Joseph had quite a stock of goods, for a short interval, in one of the houses on fathers farm near our residence, which was about one and one half miles from Magnolia, to which later place, however, Uncle Joseph removed when it came to have a local habitation and name, which I think, was in 1836.

Your father, Lewis Ijams, removed from his home in Muskingum County Ohio to McLean county, ILL. in 1851 as I remember.

Two children of Grandfather Thomas P. Ijams and Elizabeth, his wife, namely, William Fletcher Ijams and Nancy Ann (Ijams) Coffman, were, if I remember rightly, the next to come to Ill. Uncle William came first, I believe, to Marshall county and thence removed to McLean county. I have not the exact date of either settlement.

Aunt Anna was married to John Coffman and they, on their removal from Ohio, settled in Marshall County, Ill. near Rutland.

Aunt Harriet Ijams, (second daughter of Grandfather Ijams) was married to Henry Woolf, and they with their children removed to Ill. about 1858 or 1859, and settled in Marshall County, a short distance from Wenona.

We thus find that the eight children became residents of Ill.

I should say of all of them that their citizenship was one that made for good wherever they went. trained to industry and strictest integrity combined with good deportment, they did their part well and worthily ornamented the good example which had been set for them by devout and pious parents.

I do not know quite how it happened that Grandfather Ijams was so generally known by his first name without the addition of the middle initial. It may be that when he came into public life the middle initial happened to be dropped in commission, I think, some such circumstance caused its omission, though I have observed that in conveyances that were made to him of lands in Ill, in 1835 or 1837, the middle initial was used. (His mother was a member of a family named Plummer, I think.)

When I saw him in the all of 1844 and the winter following, he was living the life of a retired farmer, taking care, however, of the stock, and of the place generally, In the conduct of the meetings which were held in Asbury Chapel, both he and grandmother or Elizabeth Ijams took a prominent part. His voice in speaking was very full and distance, and she was accomplished in the part she sometimes took in such meetings, almost as much as if she had been trained to be a preacher.

I was in company with grandfather Ijams on a visit to Zanesville in Sept. 1844. He wished to see and hear General Lewis Case, formally a resident of that locality. General Cass had been governor of Michigan, and united States Minister to France, and was making a stumping tour as one of the chief leaders in the Democratic party. He spoke in the open square near the court house in Zanesville, old residents, including Rev. David Young, gathered around to hear him.

Grandfather was in the State Legislature of Ohio, both in the lower house and in the senate, as dates as follow: As a member of the H.R. from Fairfield County in the 8th, 920th., and 10th., General Assemblies, 1809-1912. As a member of the Senate in the 20 th. and 21st. General Assemblies 1812-1823. He also sat as one of the side or Associate Judges in the Common Court. This, I think, was after his removal to Muskingum county. He was a Justice of the Peace at times.

He spoke of being in the lower house when Henry Clay, having been elected Senator of the United States, was passing through Chillicothe, then the capital of Ohio, on his way to Washington. A reception was given to Mr. and Mrs. by the members of the Legislature. this I suppose was in 1809.

On one occasion, in the fall of 1844, Grandfather Ijams took a wagon with a yoke of oxen to the timber to get a load of wood, and I accompanied him. The oxen were well broken and usually went along without any trouble. Grandfather dexterously loaded upon the wagon some pretty heavy sticks of wood and he and I took our seats in the front part of the wagon to go home. In going down a hill the oxen started to run, finding it troublesome to keep the wagon in check, loaded as it was, but Grandfather very energetically brought them to a halt pretty soon. His activity and energy were conspicuous. He told me that it would have been dangerous to allow the oxen to run.

It will not be in place for me to enlarge very much on the foregoing sketch. I may be pardoned, however, for referring further but briefly to your father. There are several incidents that crowd my recollection. Perhaps I can with propriety mention one of these. He was visiting at my fathers house in Hennepin, Ill., about 1850 or 1851, and the late Theophilus Lyle Dickey, the Circuit Judge, then engaged in holding the Circuit Court of Putnam County, was at the time the guest of my father and mother. Judge Dickey and your father had one or two interviews together, in public men and affairs were discussed. Your father had, I believe, been among the regular subscribers to and readers of the National Intelligencer, a favorite paper with himself and neighbors, and Judge Dickey was highly interested in his conversation. Your father, however, went away while the court was sitting. learning of this Judge Dickey expressed regret and said that he would have adjourned court to bid him good bye. I mentioned this incident that your father was, on occasions at least, an interesting conversationalist.

I have not learned very much more of the ancestry of Grandfather Ijams. I have understood he had three brothers who came from Maryland to Ohio; their given names being Isaac, William and John. I was advised by a relative that the widow of William was living near Osawkee, Kansas, in 1899. This seemed to me somewhat strange, as I supposed our Great Uncle William Ijams was quite considerably older than his brother Thomas.

Grandmother Sarah Ijams died in child birth, at the time of the birth of Aunt Sarah. Our Great-Grandmother Duvall was, I think living with grandfather Ijams at the time and continued the care of the household and children for the next three years and upwards, until Grandfather Ijams remarried. Grandmother Duvall then had her separate house, in which she had the aid of a servant who came with the family from Maryland; and Grandfather Ijams bought a tract of Hopewell Twp. on which the homestead was thereafter situated.

Four of the nine children of Grandfather Ijams reached ages above 70 years. Aunt Harriet was 77. Aunt Elizabeth was 73. My mother was 78. Uncle William was 77 at death. Your father was 70 when he died. Grandmother Ijams 61.

With best wishes to all,

Signed Thomas Dent

Dated Chicago, Illinois, Sept. 4, 1901.

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