Washington County, Illinois
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Washington County, Illinois History
PIONEER TIMES IN ILLINOIS by Timothy Balderson circa 1870
|PIONEER TIMES IN ILLINOIS|
From the scrap Book of Timothy Balderson
( Written about 1870 )
( Series of articles appearing over time in the Nashville News Nashville, Illinois )
|February 20, 1936, Page 1|
|MORE INFORMATION ON PIONEER TIMES|
The interest awakened by the campaign to place a marker on the site of the Indian Massacre, of which the county's first settler's
were the victims, recalled to the memory of Miss Sadie Balderston the fact that her father, Timothy Balderston, was well versed in
pioneer lore and had written many articles for publication in The Nashville Democrat along about 1870. We are very grateful
to Miss Balderston for making available to us her father's scrap-book containing clippings of these articles and for her permission
to reprint them. The first appears herewith. Others will follow in subsequent issues :
Illinois was first settled at Peoria in 1680 and at Kaskaskia and Cahokia in 1682. It was then a dependency of France. In 1764, when
England took formal possession under treaty, what is now Illinois contained 2,000 inhabitants. It was ruled with great severity by the
British. On July 4, 1778, the fort of Kaskaskia fell into the hands of Continental troops sent west by the Legislature of Virginia.
Cahokia and other points were subsequently captured. In 1779 this little eastern army, joined by same Illinois volunteers defeated the
British at Vincennes, Ind., in a severe engagement and broke their power and dominion in the West.
In 1790, St. Louis had a population of 925. The "General Pike" was the first steamboat that solved the problem of whether a steamer could stern the current of the Mississippi. It arrived at St. Louis on the 3rd of August, 1817.
In 1766 the first negro slaves, 500 in number, were brought to Illinois by Philip Francis Renault, to work the mines. The descendants of these negroes can still be found in Randolph county.
The first newspaper printed in St. Louis was issued on July 12, 1808. It was called the Missouri Gazette, but the name was afterward changed to the Missouri Republican, under which name it is still published (1874).
Fort des Chartres, in Randolph county was founded by the French in 1718. When completed it was one of the most formidable and extensive fortifications in North America. It was located near the river bank and the walls were destroyed by the great flood of 1772. It was the seat of the French government in Illinois until the English took possession of the county. They occupied the fort until it was destroyed by the above flood, when they abandoned it and erected Fort Gage, near Kaskaskia. The ruins of Fort Chartres can still be seen.
In the year 1778 during the war of the Revolution, Illinois was conquered from the British by the distinguished American General, George Rogers Clark. His campaign was one of the most brilliant achievements of the Revolution. His army consisted of 153 men; with that small force he captured the strong forts at Kaskaskia and Vincennes and conquered the whole region. A government was the organized under authority of the state of Virginia, which has remained, with various amendments to the present time.
|February 27, 1936, Page 2|
In the early settlement of the state the Indians camped around the bluffs near French Village, between Belleville and St. Louis. They
had a burying ground on the bluff to the right and there camped one spring at the mouth of the hollow in the bluff, about one mile and
a half below where the Belleville and St. Louis pike road goes down the bluffs and above the Pittsburgh mines on the Pittsburgh,
Belleville and St. Louis railroad; and they were not doing any particular harm. A Frenchman had a sugar camp just below them,
between the bluff and Grand Murray lake, and they would watch and when the Frenchman was about ready to stir off his sugar,
boiling it down to thick syrup they would go down and eat his sugar.
This did not exactly suit the monsieur, though he could not prevent it. He sent a runner down to Whiteside Station to inform them of the Indians' whereabouts, and the trouble he was having with them. This was as good as the Whitesides, Murdocks and others wanted. They mustered up and started.
Arriving at night, they surrounded the camp when the Indians were all enjoying their sweet sleep, feeling perfectly safe. One Indian was sitting on a large stump, acting as sentinel, probably half asleep. The keen eye of Capt. Whitesides, better known as Gen. Sam Whitesides discovered him.
It was arranged that when day dawned sufficiently, this captain was to shoot the Indian upon the stump and that was to be the signal for the fight. Daylight came and, as had been arranged, Whiteside's gun cracked and the Indian fell from the stump. The Indians came swarming out of the camp, the whites firing upon them; they returned the fire, and then finding so many of their number killed and wounded, all that were able turned and fled, except one old white-headed Indian, who remained in the camp rolled up in some deerskins and a blanket.
To use Lot Whiteside's language as I heard him relate it: "The boys went into the camp and the old fellow begged for his life, but they drug him out and knifed him." Captain Whitesides was shot in the head that morning, when the Indians were firing, at them coming out of camp.
The Frenchman had no more trouble with them at his sugar camp, which the writer recollects seeing 43 or 45 years ago.
|March 5, 1936, Page 3|
Fifty-one years has made a great change in the manner of conducting Circuit Court in this county, and more especially in the
convenience of holding it. In the year 1824, the county seat of this county was at Covington, near the Okaw river, in the extreme
north part of the county, and the buildings were anything but magnificent. The judge's stand was an ordinary goods box, while the
conveniences for jurors and those in attendance were not as extensive as they might have been. In that year, John Reynolds was
Judge. One Monday morning upon the arrival of the Judge, the Sheriff, whose name the informant, Dr. S. M. Carter, has forgotten,
said: "Come into court boys, John has come and on the box," meaning that the Judge had arrived. The "boys" came in, however,
and the Judge being on the box, court convened and proceeded to business. A jury was impaneled and the first case was that of a
man charged with murder, the verdict of the jury convicting him and the verdict being death. The Judge, looking at the prisoner,
asked him which day it would suit him to be hung, to which he replied that he was not particular, but would like two or three
weeks to prepare for the affair, whereupon the Judge turned to the Clerk and asked him to "please look at the Almanac and see if
three weeks from Friday would come on Sunday."
He was informed that it would not and the Judge, after assuring the man that it was not him that was fixing the severest penalty of the law, passing sentence on him. He took particular pains to exclude himself from it, he being then a candidate for Congress, his opponent being Adam W. Snyder, father of Hon. H. Snyder, now Judge of the Circuit Court of the Belleville circuit. He was then endeavoring to gain popularity and designed it distinctly understood that HE was not causing the death of the man. Old inhabitants assure us that they did more to bring violators of the law to justice in those days than they do at the present time.
|March 19, 1936, Page 4|
I will give an account of a little fight that took place between a small party of Indians and a few of old Capt. Short's company of Rangers, as I heard it related by one of the party. It occurred about two or two and one half miles east of Nashville in or near the east edge of S. Y. Henry's farm.
As it was known to many of our citizens that Indians were heading to the south, and on the hill where the late residence of James Carter now stands. When first discovered by the Whites, they, by hard riding headed the Indians out of the timer and arrived there first; the Indians fell back into a gully in the prairie to draw the Whites out into open ground. The Whites held a council, as to what was best, to attack them or to send a runner to Camp Lively for reinforcements. They decided to make the attack and make them fight or run. So they marched out into the open field, taking a good care to keep a good distance, as the enemy had the advantage of the gully, occasionally hold up and shooting. Several shots were fired to no effect. Finally an Indian rose near the south end of the gully and was in the act of raising fire guns at one of the men who did not see him. John Boucher saw him and instantly had his rifle ready and, as was common with the Creamer Locks quickly discharged it. The Indian made a bow and disappeared. Boucher yelled out, "Did you see that boys, that's the way we do it."
The Indians soon made a break to the north, the men gave a chase a piece, but saw they could not catch them before they came to the timber, and gave up the case returning to the scene of action to see what was done, Boucher claiming that if there was an Indian body near the lower end of the gully that it was his game. Lo and Behold, when they arrived there was Boucher's gang just as he had stated.
I do not know who they all were, I think Thomas Erfen, Robert Middleton, John Boucher, Wm. Stout, who was afterward many years Major, and George Swagert of Mascoutah, were five of the men in the company. The writer has seen them all and was personally acquainted with the last named several years. They all now sleep in their narrow tombs. They were all good jolly men of old Pioneer Times.
|March 26, 1936, Page 5|
During the time the citizens of Monroe county were forted up at Whitesides Station there was a party of Indians across the river in
Missouri who made arrangements to cross the Mississippi river on a certain morning, at a point where they were in the habit of
crossing and where, in company with others, were to go to the station and kill all the "butcher knife gang," as they termed the whites.
One Indian, who was a friend to the whites, informed them, although begging them not to tell on him lest he should be killed.
So upon the day they were to cross, Captain Sam Whitesides (better known afterwards as General Whitesides) and his brother Lott, Maj. Moore, Dr. George Atchison, and others started for the point. They were to land and camp over night in an old house that had been vacated on account of Indian troubles. The next morning they started for the point intending to fight it out on that line.
On the bank of the river they arrived soon after sunrise. It being a clear morning they saw the Indians collected on the Missouri shore, and loading into their canoes. The men arranged themselves behind trees and logs opposite them and according to orders remained still until a large number of the Indians were about to land, when the one with the best opportunity to fire was to do so, this being the signal for the others to commence.
When the Indians were crossing, not knowing anything of the impending danger, were in high glee, and just as the foremost canoe was rounding, to George Atchison (who once made your correspondent a pair of shoes when he was along with him), who was concealed behind a log, and when the three Indians got in range he fired, killing all three instantly and they fell into the water. There was a general firing by the whites and the Indians were so demoralized they never fired a gun. A great many were shot upon the opposite shore, while some returned safely and made their escape.
No white man, woman or child was scalped by that party.
It was said that Atchison killed more Indians than any other man, the number being three. He used a rifle gun. After the Indian trouble was over, he lived and died in St. Clair county. His son even now lives on the farm upon which he died.
|April 2, 1936, Page 5|
Thinking it would probably be interesting to know the particulars of the Black Hawk war, I will give some of the sketches of it, as it
occurred, as a great many of our citizens know there was such a war in Illinois, yet know but few particulars of it.
The old Black Hawk was the head chief of the Sac Indians, who ranged between the Illinois and the Mississippi rivers, and above Peoria, north to the Lake shores, and as the country became settled at and around Ottawa, which had first been a trading Post, and the settlements in and around Galena on account of the lead mines, and some settlement was made on the Fort river and Indian creek. The Indians came to the conclusion that they were getting crowded too much by the whites, and some of the latter not treating them with that respect they thought they ought to be. So in the early part of the Spring of 1831 the Indians became hostile and showed indications of war with the whites to such an extent that troops were ordered out, and as was the custom then when there was a call for volunteers, so many from each county, in proportion to the population of the county, made up the required number. Men would turn out at once, all that was required was to make the call, and every man that could possibly go, and had a good horse, or could get one or a rifle or gun was on hands at short notice.
The call was made and promptly responded to, and when the men, or the main body of them arrived at what was known as Dickson's ferry on Rock river, they discovered that the old Black Hawk and a portion f his men were near there. He had some spies out to watch the whites. The troops forded the river; the spies watched and counted until they said they had over 1800, and they came so fast that they could not be counted. So they fled and reported to Black Hawk. He retreated from there, and on the second day sent in a flag of truce, begging for a treaty of peace. He said he did not think there were that many men in Illinois, and he thought a portion must be from Kentucky.
According there was a compromise or a treaty made, and the troops all returned home, and the Indians to their hunting grounds. So ended the war for two years. In 1832 they broke out again, and that is when the fighting was done, as I will give some of the particulars in the future.
|April 9, 1936, Page 3|
The Black Hawk War|
In the early part of the spring of 1832 the Indians became troublesome again in Northern Illinois, and so hostile that many families were compelled to vacate their home and flee for safety. There was a call for troops again as was in 1830 and the call was promptly responded to, as was the custom in those days on such occasions.
The old ranger, John Reynolds, was the Governor of the State, and commander in chief of the militia. He did not stay home and say go boys; as I well recollect he mounted his pony and went in person. When the main portion of the troops arrived at Dickson's ferry on Rock river the supplies were behind and Captain Stillman and his men, who were mostly from Tazewell county then a frontier county, were sent out ahead to make some discoveries as to the movements of the Indians, and if they found fresh signs of Indians, and they appeared to be many in number, to send a messenger back to report. They went a considerable distance, struck a fresh Indian trail, and having a barrel of whiskey aboard one of the baggage wagons they knocked the head out of the barrel and each man drank all he wanted and shortly they came to the conclusion they could whip all the Indians there were themselves, and they would do it, and they went and when they came to a creek bottom known as Sycamore Creek they met the Indians who turned and commenced the battle. The result was the Whites were badly defeated and terribly butchered up. Captain Stillman was killed, his head cut off, and hacked up in a terrible manner. Maj. Perkins' heart was cut out and stuck in his mouth and the men were strewed along the road for some distance, scalped, hacked and mangled in Indian style, and the men that made their escape went into the main army in numbers of two or three in a gang, reporting all killed but themselves.
The troops hastened to the scene of action, there to behold their men butchered and mangled in a horrible manner and the Indians had departed. They buried the dead and some of the men pursued the Indians some distance to no effect. This gave the Indians great encouragement.
There was one accident happened on the battle ground on the day of burying the dead. I will relate it as it may interest some. After the dead were about all found and deposited in their narrow homes, in a rough manner, as was the case in those circumstances, Andrew H. Leach, Esq. the father of Mrs. Gilliam Shelton, who is familiarly known to many of our citizens, was shot through the thigh by the accidental discharge of a gun in the hands of old Captain Billy Moore. The shot so disabled Mr. Leach that he was sent home in a few weeks.
There were some other incidents connected with their defeat which are well known to the old citizens and soldiers of the Black Hawk war and Stillman's defeat worthy of mention at a future time.
|April 16, 1936, Page 3|
The Black Hawk War (continued)|
Speaking of Stillman's defeat, I might have said that Freeman Burnett of Nashville was one who assisted in burying the dead. In the spring of 1832 and soon after Captain Stillman's defeat there were a party of Indians came to the residence of a man named Hall, on Indian Creek, some distance from Ottawa. Hall was a blacksmith, and there were some neighbors living a short distance from him. When the Indians came in upon them Mr. Hall was at work in the shop. They killed him and some others that were there and then went into the house and killed the women and children. They were scalped and mangled up in a shocking manner. The blood was strewed all over the floor and on the walls where the bloody butchery had taken place. There was a young man there by the name of John J. Henderson who made his escape into a corn field and got away. While they were engaged in their bloody work (I had a statement from Henderson's own lips) that the screams and cries of the women and children that rung through his ears as he ran through the corn was beyond description. Two of Mr. Hall's daughters were grown young ladies. They were not killed, though witnessed the scene of massacre of father, mother, brothers and neighbors and were taken prisoners, mounted on horses and compelled to ride in a gallop, though not as the young ladies ride now-a-days through the streets of Nashville on saddles, but in the style the young gents ride and they had to ride from the time they were taken in the afternoon until as they thought about 10 o'clock at night when the Indians halted and they were dismounted and a blanket spread down, upon which they were permitted to sit. The Indians built a fire, made some coffee, parched some corn, and gave the young ladies some, although they didn't feel like eating owing to the thoughts of that day's scene and not knowing what hour they would fall victims to the tomahawk or scalping knife. Death would have been sweet to them compared to what they had to endure.
After resting as they supposed three or four hours they were mounted astride the horses again and went under whip most of the time until two or three hours before sunrise in the morning when they arrived at the large Indian camp. The young ladies were again dismounted and seated on blankets by a pole erected in the center of a yard cleared off something like farmers used to clear off for the purpose of tramping out grain, and the Indians held a war dance around them and flourished the scalps of the parents, brothers and sisters. They anticipated every moment to be their last. After the dance and pow-wow, they gave them some coffee and venison to eat and they were removed from there, they were separated and not allowed to converse with each other and for some time did not see each other.
After several weeks Captain G. E. Walker, who had been an Indian trader, and an interpreter for the government, and General Dodge learned by some Potawattomic Indians who were friendly that the girls were alive. They agreed to give them a certain number of ponies, I think, if they would get the girls and bring them to what was known as the White Oak Spring, within a certain time, which they did. Walker and Dodge met them and got the girls and took them to Ottawa. It was then not much of a town, being only a trading post.
The last I heard of them they were married, which I was informed by G. E. Walker, whom I have slept with a number of nights since that, on a buffalo on the snow. We came upon one of the same Indians in company with others that took part in the massacre or they came upon us rather. He was taken prisoner by Walker and two others of them after the girls were restored to freedom and held as prisoners of war until after the Black Hawk was was over. It was after that time that I speak of meeting with him. More anon.
|April 23, 1936|
A short time after the massacre of the Hall family and others, as spoken of in my last, Capt. Adam W. Snyder, Capt. John
Winstanley, Gen. Samuel Whitesides and others were out on a scout, as it was termed in those day. The most of the men with them
belonged to Capt. Snyder's company.
They had camped at a place over night, where the settlers once before had fled for safety. There were a few Indians prowling that night. The next morning they got on the Indian trail pretty early, and overhauled them where they had stuck a camp fire to get some breakfast. The Indians deserted camp without breakfast and took shelter behind trees, and the Whites taking the same precaution. There was a firing of guns from both sides, as often as either side could see an enemy to shoot at.
One Wm. B. Macumon of Capt. Snyder's company, stepped out from behind his tree. Capt. Winstanley spoke to him to keep his tree or he would be killed. He replied he could shoot as quickly as they and as he made the remark the Indians shot two balls through him. He fell mortally wounded. The other men kept their places, watched their opportunity and killed the most of the Indians that appeared in sight and when the fight was over they started on the way carrying Wm. B. Macumson, the wounded man, on a litter, or blanket rather. They proceeded some distance, when Macumson called for water, as is always the case when men are dying from wounds and loss of blood. They stopped on a ridge and put him down to rest, and the six men went down in the hollow to get some water. They found water and as they were in the act of dipping some in their tin cups as was common then for every man to have his tin cup swung to his belt, the Indians fired upon them from both sides. They were lying in ambush and killed a man by the name of McDonald, from the 12-Mile Prairie near where Freeburg now stands, and also a son of old Joseph Scott, Esq., and brother of Felix and Isaac Scott of St. Clair county and wounded Dr. Cornelies of Cahokia.
The word was for every man to make his escape that could, to the company. Dr. Cornelies spoke to Frank Jarrot of East St. Louis, said he was wounded and could not get on his horse, Frank stopped and helped him on his horse; the Indians firing at them, and rode out of the thicket with him. The first two men they met were Gen. Whitesides and Capt. Winstanley. Winstanley inquired of Jarrot "how many Indians were there in the thicket?" His answer to the Capt. was "You fool, I didn't stop to count them." He had on a broad rimmed hat and there was bark on it, where the Indians had over-shot him and knocked down the brush over his head. Just at that time a young Indian chief came riding out of the thicket on a white pony, the mane and tail of which was trimmed in red ribbon. Gen. Whitesides drew up his rifle, as he was accustomed to carrying one on such occasions. Some of the men said not to shoot that the Indian was too far off and ammunition too scarce. Whitesides said he looked too saucy and he would try him a pop anywhay; so he shot and the Indian toppled forward on his horse, went back in the thicket and soon after the pony made his appearance without a rider.
The men who were left with Macumson started to run, and it was almost a stampede. Capt. Snyder endeavored to stop them, and on Gen. Whitesides and Winstanley coming to his assistance, they rallied the men, although not until the Indians got to Macumson and as he lay begging for life, they cut his head off, sent it bounding over the ground towards the men nearest to them of which one of your Nashville citizens was one and came near losing his scalp, as I believe was one of the men that helped to carry W. B. Macumson on the blanket, and given his horse and gun to another man to take care of in the stampede, the man forgot to leave him his horse or gun. I refer to Wm. H. Wright, he was about the last man to leave Macumson.
That gave the Indians courage. I may speak of something more of the young chief on the pony hereafter. In this connection will say that Capt. A. W. Snyder was a good citizen and a good statesman. He was the father of the present Judge Wm. H. Snyder of Belleville, and had he lived a year longer in my opinion he would have been Governor of Illinois.
|April 30, 1936, Page 2|
A short time after the skirmish or fight in which Macumson, Scott and McDonald were killed, of which I spoke of in my last, there was a fight took place between a party of Indians and some troops under command of Generals Henry and Dodds, in which the Indians were badly whipped and defeated, leaving a number of their warriors dead upon the ground. Some of them were captured and taken prisoners. That was then known as the battle of Wisconsin. Some of the Indians that were taken prisoners said they were in the party that laid in ambush and killed the two men down in the hollow, where the six men went to get water; that the young chief that rode out on the whit pony from the thicket and returned so soon was shot through. He was a son of Black Hawk, and they carried him off on a blanket and the following night he died.
It will be remembered he was the one Gen Whitesides shot when it was thought he was too far off. The Gen. said he looked too impudent, so he said he would try him once, and that was the shot that killed a son of Black Hawk.
Gen. Atkison, I think, was in command of the regulars, and out-ranked all other Generals. He was a Major-General. Gen. Andrew Jackson was then President of the United States, and things did not go to suit him, so about that time sent Gen. Winfield Scott to take the place of Atkison saying if he could not subdue the Indians he would have to come himself, as he had no other men to send that would fill the bill.
There was some skirmishing of which I will give the particulars in my next. Scott in command.
|May 14, 1936|
Some time after the battle of Wisconsin, in which the Indians were defeated by Gens. Henry and Doge, Gen. Scott took command.
The Indians found it rather hot for them. They began to muster their forces together better than they had done, and turn their faces
westward. Scott, finding their movements was with the regular troops, sent G.E. Walker who had been acting as a spy and guide to
another division of the army that was some distance off, with strict orders not to sleep till he reached that division of the army and
delivered a message or order to the proper officer, and have a move by a certain time, as directed. The order was obeyed and the
move made, and Scott also moving to suit the case. The result was Black Hawk and his army was hemmed in on the bank of the
Mississippi river, and the only chance was to fight or take water. The fight took place and was hot for a while, the Indians were
out-numbered and could not get the advantage in the fight, and could not break the ranks of our troops so as to make their escape.
A number of them undertook to swim the river; some succeeded, some were shot in the water and drowned, and the steamer War Eagle came up about that time, and guarded the river. Black Hawk and a portion of his warriors made a desperate attack on one part of Scott's lines, although he and a number of his men were captured and a great many of his warriors were killed, and drowned.
So that was the last battle of the war, and known as the Battle of Bada on the Mississippi. The loss to the whites in killed and wounded was small.
Thus ended the war. The volunteers were mustered out of service soon afterward, and allowed to go home in peace. Scott and the regulars embarked for St. Louis in a short time, and about the time they arrived the cholera broke out among his troops. They were landed on what was then known as Bloody Island where the railroad depots now stand in East St. Louis.
In 1832 several of the prominent citizens died with that disease, among others was Ninian Edwards, once governor of Illinois, and commanded a company once against the Indians, known as Edward's campaign. Fort or Camp Edwards was in Madison county on or near the place where Edwardsville now stands, and that is how Edwardsville derived its name.
I might mention some other incidents and names in connection with the above, but think it unnecessary. Black Hawk was taken to Washington City, visited the White House, and President Jackson, and some astern cities. Returned satisfied he could not whip the United States.
This concludes the series of articles on the Black Hawk war.
|May 28 1936, Page 3|
History of Washington County|
By Hon. Amos Watts
In writing the history of Washington county, it is deemed necessary that we should glance briefly at a part of the history of the Northwestern Territory. The State of Virginia owned all the country situated northwest of the River Ohio. On the first day of March 1784, the State of Virginia, by its delegates in the Congress of the United States, ceded to the General Government all of the right, title and claim, as well of soil as of jurisdiction, which the said commonwealth had to the Territory Northwest of the River Ohio. At the time the population of this vast region did not equal the present population of Washington county. It was a vast expanse of uncultivated land, covered with wild grass, filled with wild grape, and inhabited with wild men living on game and the spontaneous products of the country.
On the 13th of July, 1787, Congress passed an ordinance "for the government of the territory of the United States Northwest of the River Ohio," by which it was provided, that as soon as there should be 5000 free male inhabitants of full age in said district, they should have authority to elect representatives to the general assembly. This was the first organization of civil government here, under the control of the United States. Congress appointed the Governor, Secretary and judges or a majority of them were authorized to select and publish such laws, civil and criminal, of the original states as they deemed suitable and necessary for the government of the districts.
First Territorial Legislature
The power to make laws remained in the hands of the Government and Judges for nearly 13 years, at the end of which time there were 5000 free male inhabitants in the Territory North-west of the River Ohio. An election was called at which members of the Legislature met at Cincinnati then better known as Fort Washington, September 16th, 1799. There was not a quorum present and the organization was delayed eight days on that account. The great state of Illinois was then known as Knox County in the territory; was only entitled to one representative, having no more than free male inhabitants over 21 years of Bond was the representative; traveled nearly four hundred miles to attend the session and was never accused of taking too much mileage.
On the 3rd of February, 1800, congress passed an act dividing Indiana territory, forming the Illinois Territory out of territory west of the Wabash river. In the region now known as the great state of Illinois, with millions of busy, civilized inhabitants, there was not then to be found 5,000 free male inhabitants over 21 years of age. Three years elapsed before the necessary 5,000 voters could be found to elect representatives to the territorial legislature.
Washington county was part and parcel of St. Clair county, until January 12, 1818, when the legislature passed an act forming the county of Washington, establishing its boundaries within the lines now encompassing the counties of Clinton and Washington, the north line being the present boundary line between Bond and Clinton, and the south line being the present boundary between Perry and Washington. The east and west lines were then fixed as now. In 1827 the legislature of the state passed an act forming the county of Clinton out of the north half of Washington county, making the counties as near equal in size as possible. This is the history of legal sub-divisions of Washington county from the day when it was, in fact and in law, part of the great state of Virginia, with no white man as an inhabitant, to the year 1827, when its population was only a few hundred.
|June 25, 1936, Page 2|
Pioneer Times in Illinois
Clippings from the Scrapbook of Timothy Balderson
(Written about 1870)
History of Washington County|
By Hon. Amos Watts
The Murder of the Lively Family
About the year 1810 or 1811 the county of St. Clair was becoming thickly settled and it was then said by some. The west bank of the Kaskaskia river was, in some places, skirted with small farms, or "improvements," as they were then called, to such an extent that there was a disposition on the part of some of the inhabitants thereof to cross that stream for the purpose of getting more room and bigger range for stock. The fear of Indians restrained them from passing over for a considerable time. The forts to which the people retire for safety in time of danger were all on the west side of that stream, until you would go down to Hill's station in Randolph county below what is now New Athens. About the time mentioned above as near as can now be ascertained, there was not a white man, woman or child living in what is now Washington county. In the northeast part of Randolph county, or southeast corner of St. Clair, there lived two hardy, courageous pioneers named john Lively and David Huggins, aged respectively between 45 and 50 years, each having a wife and children, some of the latter being grown. They were brothers-in-law by marriage, each having considerable stock of his own; agreed between themselves that there was not sufficient range to supply their fast increasing herds of horses and cattle, and finally, after exploring the country for some distance up and east of the Kaskaskia river, concluded to remove from their them homes to the east bank of that stream, and selected the west side of timber along Crooked Creek, about a mile and a half above the place where the creek empties into the Okaw, and about the same distance southeast of the place afterward known as the old town of Covington. They moved to the point above named in the spring of 1810 or 1811 (the precise time cannot now be ascertained); had splendid range and were well pleased with the location. All went well with them; their herds increased as rapidly as they could desire, but the Indians were a little troublesome at times. Yet they got along well enough until the spring 1813, when there were unmistakable evidence all along the frontier of Indian trouble.
Lively and Huggins were the first and at that time the only white inhabitants of Washington county. The Rangers protected them awhile, but this seemed inadequate, and during the spring of 1813 they frequently talked of leaving their homes and going to the fort at Hill station in Randolph county. David Huggins advocated leaving, but Lively refused. Finally Huggins took his family and went down to the settlement at the present site of the town of Fayetteville, but Lively with his family, consisting of a wife, two sons, two daughters, one about grown, and a hired man, remained at home, with no one nearer than Shoal creek northwest, or Hill station south some 25 or 26 miles.
Lively was considered a brave man, rather rash, and told Huggins when they parted that he did not fear the Indians, that himself and his two dogs (he had two very stout, fierce dogs and an excellent rifle gun) could whip 20 Indians. After Huggins left, Lively and his family enjoyed peace and quiet for a time, except the alarm incident to the exposed conditions surrounding them, which did not seem to affect Lively himself, but affected his wife more than anyone else.
How long this continued is not known, but for some three nights prior to the tragedy enacted in July, 1813, the residence of Lively was disturbed greatly. There was an enclosure in which the stock was driven every night, near the house to protect them from depredations of the red men. The stock gave evidences of alarm by extraordinary snuffing, snorting, bellowing and the like. The dogs were barking and baying, something in a northeasterly direction from the dwelling; they would start in that direction and proceed a short distance, when they would return in dismay, and place themselves by the door and growl, keeping an eye to the east and northeast. Lively frequently took his gun and went out, but could discover nothing; would quiet the alarm of his wife by assuring her that it was nothing but wolves or other wild animals creating the disturbance.
(To be continued)
|July 2 1936, Page 2|
The Murder of the Lively Family
The last night was so fearfully noisy, that Lively was somewhat unnerved and began seriously to consider the oft repeated request
of his wife to go to the fort. It was late in the evening when his wife last urged him to go, and his own knowledge of the Indian
character, with some footprints he discovered that evening on the premises induced him to take the advice of his wife, and he
decided to go to a place of safety. About two hours before sundown, he directed his son and hired hand, his nephew, a man nearly
grown, to go and get up the horses, while his wife and daughters milked the cows, and they would start for the settlements that night.
The young man and boy started in the direction where the horses were usually found, leaving the old man and family in the lot or
cow pen. The old man was seated on a stump, with his gun across his lap, loaded and ready for use, the woman milking the cows,
only too glad to escape another night of alarm. But a worse fate awaited them than that of alarm or fear. The boy and young man
had gone but a few hundred yards, when they heard firing in the direction of the house; they turned back, and when they came in
sight, beheld Indians around the premises, killing the family, all of whom were outside of the house, except the old man, who was
shot and killed in the house. All were afterward found scalped, their bodies more or less mutilated after death by the savages - all
on the premises except one boy, whose body was found by those who followed the Indians, some miles from the premises. He
had been taken prisoner; was carried away, and killed that night. His head was cut off, but never found. He had on an old-fashioned
buck-skin hunting shirt. The Indians after killing him cut a hole in his body and drew his hunting shirt through the center of his body,
to be sure that he was dead. The work hand and the boy were unable to arrest the murderous work of the savages - seven in number,
supposed to be Kickapoos. Their own safety demanded the attention of the survivors of Lively family.
The screams of the family and the firing of guns, mixed with the war-whoops, alarmed the horses so that they ran from the survivors and they were unable to get a hold of the animals and were compelled to proceed on foot. They spent no time in making their way to the nearest Post in their knowledge, in the vicinity of what is Fayetteville and New Athens. They traveled all night on foot; made Lively Grove that night, at a late hour. They both gave out and could go no further. The young man had been compelled to carry the boy on his back nearly all the way.
Some accounts say the boy was hid under a log and instructed to remain there until the young man returned, while others say the two went on together. They went on, arriving at the post and reported the death of the Livelys, obtained help, returned, (and one account says, found the boy under the log and safe.) From this circumstance, that the Lively boys were the first white men staying an night in the grove, it is supposed; the Grove has ever been called "Lively Grove."
Thus perished under the merciless tomahawk and scalping knife, all save one of the first family that settled in what is now the County of Washington. The Indians were pursued, overtaken and some of them killed by a company of rangers; some of Lively's stock that was driven off by the Indians was captured and brought back, the dead buried and the County was left without a white inhabitant for some time.
David Huggins remained in St. Clair County for a year or more, then ___ with his brother, Robert Huggins, in what is now Perry County, ___ finally in 1815 moved back near the place he left in the spring of 1813 and remained there until his death. He left several sons surviving him, and some of his grand and great grandchildren are now residents of the county of which he was one of the first settlers.
|Pioneer Life in Washington County|
If you have ever wondered how the pioneers of Washington County lived without the conveniences that we have today, reading the
following story will surely enlighten you. It was written by Hedges Spencer in 1928 and given as a speech before the Nashville
From what I have been informed you do not want me to tell you anything about airplanes, automobiles, and the latest in fashion, but rather, what happened 'way back yonder', principally of my, own experiences, or what was handed down to me. So I will drop back 100 years.
My mother's family came to Washington County from Scotland in 1827 and my father's family came from Maryville, Tennessee in 1835.
Most of my talk will be of farm life. Today we see tractors, while the first plowing I ever did was with an ox team. Today we' have the disk and spring-tooth harrow. I have harrowed with one made of wood, which smoothed the ground very well. I remember the first thrashing machine I ever saw. Back in my father's boyhood, he was born in 1833, they cut grain with a cradle, grass with a sythe, bound the grain by hand. Many things we do now with machinery in my boyhood was done by hand with hard labor.
However, take the full year's labor, the average farmer of today works much harder than the average farmer of 50 years ago. Don't let some oldtimer tell you how hard he worked. He didn't work 365 days a year as the average farmer does today. Just part of the time he worked and that is what made it seem so hard.
My grandfather, Daniel R. Spencer, raised little wheat but had large herds of cattle and horses. That great timber belt between Nashville and Du Bois where he lived, was wild woods, or timber. Their cattle, hogs and horses lived during the summer. The timber was kept from growing up by fire at the right time of the year and it furnished acorns and nuts for the hogs to fatten on. In the late fall all stock was taken from the range and fed hay, corn and fodder which was raised in the summer. In the early days before the railroads, cattle and hogs were about all that were any market. Every fall my grandfather and father would drive a drove of hogs, say 50 or 60, to St. Louis. The trip would take a week. There they sold them for about two cents a pound. They would load their ox wagon with groceries, dry goods and other things needed for the year. They would stop at Mascoutah to get flour and at Nashville to get mail, this being their nearest post office. Also they would bring back a tanned cowhide, then an itinerant shoemaker would come to the house and make shoes for all the family.
The cattle were driven to St. Louis where the buyers would get them to New Orleans or New York for meat. Money as we know it, was scarce. Good land could be bought for $2.50 to $10.00 an acre, calico for five cents a yard. Coffee was never very cheap and many poor people did not drink it, nor use much sugar, but they didn't need much money and lived happy and contented. A great many farmers raised their own tobacco.
In the winter, farmers cut wood for the fireplace, made rails for the fences, hunted and went to town. The market for milk, butter, poultry, eggs, vegetables and fruit was so little that it hardly paid to produce more than just for the family use. Game was plentiful and I remember when there were many deer and wild turkeys, but they were all gone when I was old enough to carry a gun. But it does seem then the women on the farm had to work long hours-that can't be denied. Almost all the clothes in the family had to be cut from cloth and sewed by hand. They had no sewing machines. I can remember the first one my mother bought.
In each neighborhood one or more women would spin yarn and weave cloth from wool linsey for women and girls and jeans for men, beside bedding. Spinning, weaving and sewing by hand takes time and each fall and winter evening after supper every woman and girl was supposed to and did knit till bedtime. If you had to knit your stockings now by hand, well, I will say no more about that because I don't know how you would get it done. Making a dress was quite a job. One of my aunts when a young lady bought 16 yards of calico at five cents yard and used all of it in making her dress.
In the early pioneer days the diet of the people was very simple, it consisted of meat and com bread, milk and butter. Most of
the farmers tried to have biscuits for Sunday and for company. The grade of flour that they got made such poor light bread that
very few of the women made it. Of course they raised plenty of vegetables and had fruit in the summer, but no winter apples.
But they would peel, cut and dry in the sun large quantities of apples, peaches and pumpkins. Now, we have studied what to eat
from a scientific standpoint and will probably agree that meat, corn, bread, milk and butter with some vegetables made a very
Before they had cookstoves they had and cooked at the fireplace. Each fireplace had a crane made of iron hung at one side of a long iron reaching over the fire, in the hearth. One or more kettles were kept hanging on that crane. Meat was so plentiful and so cheap and easy to cook in those kettles, beet pork and wild game that everybody had all they wanted all the time. When meal time came, a pan of well seasoned corn bread batter would be emptied in an oven similar to what we know as a Dutch oven with legs under it. Fire would be shoveled under and a shovel full on top of the iron lid. It would soon cook. The kettles were emptied and dinner was ready.
Malaria was the great disease that kept them sick. Typhoid and pneumonia were very fatal. People had all kinds of contagious diseases. There were very few doctors as we know them today. They did not know much except to give calomel quinine and a pergative and were not very sure what they were giving it for. Itinerant peddlers would sell everybody all kinds of medicine which they would take to their detriment. Oh, it is marvelous that we live in an age when medical science has learned more in the last 40 years than they had learned in 10,000 years before.
(To Be Continued)
December 10, 2008
We continue with a 1928 speech given by Hedges Spencer on pioneer life in Washington County.
In early days the pioneers of Washington County had no movies to go to, but they had church meetings and they went to services, to revivals and to camp meetings. It was some place to go and if a man wanted to be a leader in the community he would join the church and take an active part. That would give him prestige and power, leadership and influence. Much of the old time religion was of that kind and it did great good.
Don't think we are living in the only wicked age that was ever in this world. When I was boy we had many good people, but we also had a class of rough, wicked, drunken fighting men that the younger generation see and know very little about now. The community in which I was raised, near Du Bois, was in the past an average community in Washington County.
When we come to education there we have made a real advancement. The early pioneers had no public school. At the best it was
only about three or four months of summer or fall school, a subscription school. People who did not care, or were too poor, and there
were many of them, did not give their children any education. When the scholars learned the three R's, reading, writing and arithmetic,
that was sufficient. They had a good enough education to get through the world. When a child started to school they never took but
one book, a McGuffey reader. The teacher would show them how to write, and in a year or so they learned arithmetic, some of them
going as far as the rule of three. Books of knowledge were scarce, though almost every family had a Bible and they read it and were
ready at all times to argue as to their pet interpretations of the different passages.
Most families had histories and a book of poetry. Books of fiction were not the kind of books for the young people to read. I never saw a copy of Shakespeare until I was about grown. But when I went to school the common school had made a wonderful advancement and were similar to country school of today.
And now in conclusion, perhaps we of today think the early pioneers had many hardships and got very little pleasure or happiness out of life, but happiness or pleasure came mostly from within. To be contented with one's lot-that does not keep you from striving for something better-is the greatest incentive to happiness and pleasure, and for those early pioneers to come here and get them a home, a real home with bright prospects for the future and rear a family, was happiness and contentment. They had many social pleasures. They visited one another often and took an interest in each other's welfare. The young folks had parties, dances and spelling bees and I can remember when we would have singing schools every night, which would last several weeks and were conducted by a traveling singing teacher. He taught us how to sing by the use of round notes, before that we had square notes. We had no instrument in the house to sing by but he led us with a tuning fork.
Take the human race, we of today, back through the early pioneers, on back to the early settlers of this nation, back to English, Roman, Grecian, Persian and Hebrew, on back to the savage man and back to the Neanderthal cave man, who has just emerged from the animal and whom archaeologists tell us about, I find there is little difference in the pleasure and happiness and the hardships each has had. The wife of the poor laboring man or the wife of the poor farmer back in the woods enjoys life about as well as the rich man.
One trait that runs through the whole human race is that we try to save that which is good. Upward advancement does not advance in a straight line but in a curved one and each advance the curve reaches higher. We think we are living in a wicked age and perhaps we are, but the good will be saved and in the future we will live greater and better lives.
My mother's forebears, the Burns family, came to Washington County in 1827, they came from Scotland. James Burns, was my great-great-grandfather. He has a lonely grave in a lonely place selected by himself on top of a high bluff about four miles southeast of here. He died in 1832. I erected a monument on his grave some years ago. There have been seven generations of the Burns family who have lived in Washington County.
My grandfather Spencer came to Washington County in 1835 from Maryville, Tennessee where he met and married his wife, Lavina Wheeler, He was formerly from Vermont. He settled near Du Bois. So you see, if I am not an early pioneer, my ancestors were, and when I was asked to talk on what happened in pioneer days it made me feel old and caused me to realize what a great change there had been in my memory.
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