CELEBRATION OF NINETIETH ANNIVERSARY
OF ADMISSION OF ILLINOIS, DECEMBER 3, 1908.
County Historical Society: Celebration of Ninetieth Anniversary of
Admission of Illinois, December, 3, 1908
Source: Journal of the
Illinois State Historical Society [1908-1984], Vol. 1, No. 4 [Jan., 1909],
Published by: University of Illinois Press on behalf of the
Illinois State Historical Society
The annual meeting of the Woodford County Historical
Society was held on the ninetieth anniversary of the admission of Illinois
into statehood, in the circuit court room of the court house at Eureka,
Dec. 3, 1908.
It was an occasion of more than ordinary interest. The
election of officers for the coming year was held at half past one
o'clock, and L. J. Freese was chosen president, I. B. Hammers, of El Paso,
vice president, J. F. Page, of Eureka, treasurer, Miss Amanda Jennings, of
Eureka, secretary and J. C. Tomb, of Eureka, trustee, and then, after the
transaction of other business, a Lincoln and Douglas program was rendered
before an intelligent and interested audience. The society had secured
Col. Clark E. Carr, of Galesburg, to deliver an address before the society
at this time. Notices of the meeting had been published in all the
newspapers of the county. The court room and adjacent space was full to
overflowing. A large number of those in attendance were from out of town.
Although the room was crowded the .test of order prevailed. 'The program
began at two o'clock with the selection of music, "Star Spangled Banner."
by the Ladies Glee Club, of Eureka College, all dressed in white, followed
by prayer by Prof. B. J. Radford.
G. W. Anthony, Prof. B. J.
Radford and Col. B. D. Meek, all members of the society, made short
speeches of a reminiscent character. Each gave an account of his
acquaintance with Lincoln and Douglas. They related many interesting
thing's coming under their observation fifty years ago.
Glee Club sang. "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean." This was followed by the
introduction of Col. Clark E. Carr and his address on the "Lincoln and
Douglas Debates." A brief synopsis of his address may not be out of place
Douglas had served his second term in the U.S. Senate. He had
returned to Illinois to conduct his campaign for a third term. He had won
many a victory on the floor of the senate, one of them being the repeal of
the Missouri Compromise, and put in its place his favorite doctrine of
Popular Sovereignty. When Kansas asked to be admitted as a state,
politicians with the influence of the administration at Washington
supporting them, desired to force the pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution
on the people. To defeat this scheme Douglas used his great eloquence and
influence. Kansas was admitted as a free state under the Leavenworth
Constitution, framed by the people. This placed Douglas in the front ranks
as a statesman. Lincoln, comparatively unknown, was arrayed against
Douglas. Lincoln was opposed to the extension of slavery. In a speech "at
Springfield he stated that, "this government can not exist permanently
half slave and half free," etc. This declaration startled the politicians.
For the purpose of securing the attention of the people, he challenged
Douglas to a joint debate. There were seven debates, in all, held at
different places in the State. In the mean time the Supreme Court handed
down what is known as the Dred Scott decision, by which it was made
practically lawful for an owner of slaves to carry them into another state
or territory. Lincoln held that this decision nullified Popular
Sovereignty advocated by Douglas. Lincoln challenged Douglas to say how,
under this decision, the people of a territory could keep slaves out, to
which Douglas could only reply by saying: "Unfriendly legislation." This
was displeasing to the people of the south. All hope of the Presidency in
1860 was gone. It made Lincoln the acknowledged leader in the Republican
Col. Carr portrayed with skill and fairness the characters
of the two men, at one time imitating the voice of Lincoln, at another,
that of Douglas. His address, truly, was a treat, and the occasion will be
The address of Col. Carr was followed by the
singing of "Illinois," by Miss Augusta Kirchner, of Secor. The words were
slightly changed to suit the occasion. They ran as
By the rivers gently flowing.
thy prairies verdant growing,
Comes a message on
Rustling thru the leafy trees
And its mellow tones are
From a wilderness of prairies,
Straight thy way never varies,
Still upon the inland sea,
Stands thy great commercial
Turning all the world to thee.
Not without thy
Can be writt the Nation's
On the record of thy years.
noble name appears.
Douglas. Lincoln, and our tears,
After a word in explanation of the large pictures of
Lincoln and Douglas gracing the front part of the court house, the Ladies'
Glee Club sang "My Country Tis of Thee." the audience joining in on the
last stanza, and the meeting closed with prayer by Dr. C. H. Tichnor, of
the Presbyterian church.
The display of mementos that had been
announced was an interesting feature of the meeting. The people lingered
for some time viewing the exhibit, which consisted of the
Negative of Lincoln found in an old gallery in Tazewell
county, made in 1858. Loaned by L. J. Freese.
Herald," April 15, 1865, containing account of assassination of
Lincoln. Loaned by Mrs. C. M. Brasfield.
Sept. 10, 1863, containing two letters of Lincoln's, one written to
Springfield, Illinois, convention, the other to A. G. Hodges, Esq.,
Frankfort, Kentucky. Loaned by Mrs. Brasfield.
Paper containing the
presidential vote from 1789 to 1876. Loaned by Mrs. Brasfield.
sycamore trees which grew from the cellar where Lincoln's store stood at
New Salem, near Petersburg. Loaned by Miss Laura C. Brasfield.
the Lincoln mill on Sangamon river. Loaned by Laura C.
"Vicksburg Daily Citizen," July 2, 1863, copyrighted April
16, 1885. Loaned by J. P. Darst.
Speech of Douglas in the senate, on
the Lecompton Bill. 1858, Loaned by Miss Amanda Jennings.
County Sentinel," Metamora, April 20, 1865, containing account of the
death of Lincoln. Loaned by J. F. Page.
Badge of Douglas
and Johnson. Loaned by John W. Tomb.
Medallion of Lincoln
and Hamlin. Loaned by J. F. Page.
Large oil painting of
Stephen A. Douglas. Loaned by Peoria Public Library.
Large portrait of
Lincoln. Loaned by Col. B. D. Meek.
Relief picture of Lincoln,
presented to the society by L. J. Freese.
Photos of Stephen A. Douglas
and wife. Loaned by Mrs. Long, of Washington, Ill.
L. J. Freese,
President Woodford County Historical Society. Eureka, Jan. 19,
Celebration, by the Woodford County
Historical Society, of the Seventieth Anniversary of the Formation of
Woodford County, Illinois.
Source: Journal of the
Illinois State Historical Society [1909-1984], Vol. 4, No. 1 [Apr., 1911],
Published by: University of Illinois Press on behalf of
the Illisnois State Historical Society
Woodford county was formed
Feb. 27, 1841. Our local historical society on deciding to celebrate the
seventieth anniversary of this event, asked the Board of Supervisors for
an appropriation of fifty dollars with which to carry out our plans for
the celebration and other work the society has under contemplation. The
board willingly made this appropriation. We then advertised the meeting in
all the newspapers of the county and neighboring towns, requesting those
living, who were residents of the territory when the county was formed, to
send their names to the secretary, and also to give any items of interest
they remember relating to the early history of the county. Ninety-six
names were handed in, the oldest person being one hundred and two years
old. The list of names was published twice before the celebration. Much to
our pleasure there are more of the "charter members" of the county living
than we anticipated. Doubtless there are others whom we have not
February 27 was a beautiful day. A large and interested
audience gathered in the Presbyterian church to help celebrate the
seventieth birthday of the county. Thirty-three of the settlers of 1841
were present. Quite a number came from a distance. It was home coming to
them. After enjoying a short reception in the auditorium of the church
they gathered in front of the court house where a picture was taken of
them in a group. Re-assembling in the church the rest of the program was
given. The invocation was pronounced by Rev. D. W. McMillin of the
Presbyterian church. Excellent music was furnished by Miss Ada Holbrook,
Austin Kershaw and the Eureka College Quartet- Messrs. Reichel, McGuire,
Higdon and Carr.
Prof. B. J. Radford of Eureka, gave an address on
"The Beginnings of Woodford County." The Professor was a mere boy when the
county was formed, yet he remembers the stirring events incident to the
steps taken for the formation of the county. He knew the men who took the
leading part in securing names on the petition asking the legislature that
the territory be formed into a county, the party who went on horseback to
Springfield to place the petition before the legislature and the men who
signed the petition. He stated that at the time the county was formed
considerable territory now in the county was taken from McLean and
Tazewell counties. Large areas of it were uninhabited. Government land
could be bought for $1.25 per acre, now worth $250 per acre. He traced the
growth and development of the county and recounted the movements leading
to the formation of the county; the location of the seat of justice at
Versailles; the removal of the county seat from there to Hanover, now
Metamora; and later to Eureka. A considerable portion of his address was
devoted to social conditions and general government. According to the
census of 1850 the population of the county was 4,415. By the census of
1880, 1890 and 1900 the population was little more than 21,000. In 1910 it
fell to 20,506. The settlers of Woodford county were of a high type of
citizenship. They early devoted themselves to the development of their
spiritual and intellectual natures by the location of churches and school
houses in their midst.
Hon. J. A. Ranney of Cazenovia, gave an
address on "The Early Settlers of Woodford County." It was a
masterly address. Mr. Ranney was interested in his subject. The audience
was in sympathy with the speaker. He was one of the early settlers and
grew eloquent in describing the simple life of early times. The settlers
came from New York, New England, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky. The
philosophical Dutchman was here, the wide awake Irishman, who is always
present where there is anything good, the F. F. Vs from Virginia. They
came from everywhere. Brought up under different conditions they possessed
dispositions peculiar to themselves. They mingled and became neighbors,
living in peace and harmony and were Americans in the true sense. It took
courage those days to leave home, friends and ties, traveling on horseback
or in a covered wagon, the trip requiring six months, to make a home in
this wild western country, never expecting to see their home people again.
These people were masters of the situation. They made homes, though the
log cabin was the rule. It was home. The good house-wife spun, wove, cut
out, made clothing for the family and cared for her home. She was queen,
and there was happiness and contentment in the one-roomed log house with
the mud and brick fire-place for both cooking and heating purposes. This
one room was given up for school at times. We of to-day do not know how it
was done, but our heroic mothers did it. Churches too were built to purify
their homes. Schools were built to make their homes intelligent. They did
not grab for all the territory in reach, but were satisfied
make a happy fire-side chime
To wean and wife,
That's true pathos
Of human life."
Abraham Lincoln was given as a type
of the pioneers of Woodford county. They did what was at hand to do, and
they did it in a brave, masterful way, not to get their names in the
paper, but that it was the doing of things that produced results, homes,
settlements, county and state. We are to-day enjoying the fruits of the
labors of our fathers and grandfathers, the sturdy pioneers of Woodford
Mrs. Jessie Palmer Weber, Secretary of the State Historical
Society, Springfield, by her presence and address added interest to the
celebration. She spoke of the good work the State Historical Society is
doing and the help it is giving the local historical societies. Its
publications are full of interesting matter relating to the early history
of the State. Copies are sent to all the local societies. Encouragement
was given to the Woodford County Historical Society. Mrs. Weber then gave
an instructive address on "The Beginning of Illinois."
After a few
minutes intermission Mrs. Rowland Evans, of Bloomington, Illinois, gave
briefly some recollections of her early life in Woodford county. Her
father, S. S. Park, was the first surveyor of the county. In appropriate
remarks she presented to the society her father's commission signed by the
Governor. Mrs. Evans also presented to the society an old deed to a
quarter section of land in Woodford county, made in 1846; consideration
$250, now worth $250 per acre. Mrs. Evans thought that the Woodford County
Historical Society was entitled to these historical documents.
of the early settlers had sent greetings to the society with regrets that
advanced age would not permit them to make so long a journey to attend the
celebration. Three letters of considerable length and full of early
history of the territory and county were read, one from Aaron A.
Richardson, Wellington, Kansas, another from Mrs. Jennie Mitchell Bullock,
Cleveland, Ohio, and another one from J. J. Davenport, Sturgis, South
Dakota. All these letters expressed deep regret that the writers could not
be present to enjoy the celebration and see the faces of those whom they
have not seen for forty, sixty,and in some cases seventy years. We keenly
felt this disappointment for them.
The meeting was a grand success.
In the words of some of these old people: "It is growing better each
year." Several have asked: "Why we can not have another celebration
After a brief prayer Prof. B. J. Radford dismissed the
L. J. Freese, Eureka, Ill., March