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269. Royal Clary (William H. Herndon Interview).

[October 1866?]

Roil. A. Clary.

Aged 53 — Knew Abe Lincoln in June 1831.: he was clerking in the store for Offutt in New Salem — He was humorous — witty & good natured & that geniality drew him into our notice So quick — He liked to see sport going on — would wrestle — pitch iron bars — throw malls — sell goods —

it is about 2 ˝ or 3 miles from Salem to the South East corner of Clary's Grove: it was settled up by good Moral men from south as Early as 1819 — the Eastern people came in 1830. Little grove was the place where all the devilment Came from. However all the grove was called Clary's grove. I Knew Jason Duncan: he was a doctor. He left in N. Salem in 1835 or 6 — : he married in Salem: he married Nancy Burner. I Knew Jack Kelso: he could could cach fish when no man could get a bite.


Lincoln boarded with Kelso: Knew Rowan Herndon & Jas. Herndon — were merchandising in N. Salem — They sold to Trent and Trent to Lincoln — Jim Herndon sold to Trent & Row Herndon to Lincoln — sold out in 1832 & 1833. Lincoln & Berry sold goods — Green Kept grocery in the other end of the house — There were about 15 houses in N. Salem. Jack Armstrong and others did roll down a man or men down the hill at N.S. Old man Jourdon agreed to be rolled down the hill for a gallon of whiskey — Lincoln stopt it.

I went to the Black Hawk War: Lincoln was my Captain — : I joined at Beardstown — was drafted twice — escaped & still Volunteered — was 18 years old — They rendesvoused at Beardstown — Bill Kirkpatrick — he was our Quarter master. We were all mounted men — passed near Rushville — Encamped there 2 nights — Elected our officers — Col & Maj. Sam Thompson was our Col & Achilles Morris Major — passed near Macomb — thence in the north western direction to the Yellow Banks — Oquawgy is now near that place. Heare we drew provisions — it was on the Misssippi River — staid there 2 or 3 days. Whitesides was General. Buckmaster & Semple were his aids — We volunteered for 30 — I think: it may be 60 — The discharges, called for 48 days — We left the Yellow Banks — and went to Rock Island — Rock River & Island was all called one thing — Atchinson took Command at Rock River. The Governor — Reynolds was with us & discharged when the time Expired. Atchchinson took Command at Rock Island. Rock Island — Fort Armstrong was 5 from Rock river. Atchinson belonged to the U.S. Army. We went from Rock Island for Dixon on the south side of Rock River — south side — on the Indian trail. This was about the 1st of May — I volunteered about 15 April. We stopt at Dixon about 5 days — waited for provisions to come up Rock River in boats — two boats — Here we met Stillman with his squad a battalion. We had Captured 2 Indians, & it was Said we were within about 20 miles of Black Hawk: He — Stillman — went out reconnoitering — got scared — got badly whipt — for his rashness — Stillmans defeat took place about the 14th day of May in what the Indians Called "old mans creek" — The Indians were Encamped at Sycamore about 6 M north west of the old man creek — Stillmans men had Encamped on old mans creek — the advanced guard — spies or what not discovered Stillmans men — appeared on a hill — Stillman's men rushed on them — got frightened — Scared — and got badly whipt — Whites lost 12 Killed — found 11 — 25 were wounded — . They were horribly mangled — heads cut off — heart taken out — & disfigured in Every way. We went up to the battle ground the next day after the defeat of Stillman. We then left the battle ground and went back to Dixon — had no provisions — had had no provisions for 4 days — occasionally a Ear of Corn. Gen Henry was Maj. of the Spy battalion — an advanced guard — a look out as it were a spy — a good brave & noble man. We laid by after getting (3 or 4 day) provisions and proceeded on up to the


Stillman battle ground — the boats Came up to within 3 or 4 miles of the old man creek: the boats were discharged & went down to Rock River. We got provisions — packed our horse & having heard that the Indians had Committed depredations on Fox river — had killed some men women & Children we started for them — generally in a southerly direction — say south East — The Indians had gone — the Indians: they had Killed Davis & Pettigrews family — halls 2 girls with them: they were young women. We Saw the Scalps they had taken — scalps of old women & children. This was near Pottowatomy village — farming place. The Indians Scalped an old Grand Mother — Scalped her — hung her scalp on a ram rod — that it might be seen & aggravate the whites — They cut one woman open — hung a child that they had murdered in the womans belly that they had gutted — strong men wept at this — hard hearted men Cried — We staid here one night and proceed on for Ottowa on the Ills — went food & provisions — no roads — no bridges — no Conveniences — Bill Clary had 2 ox 2 yoke each teams — The ox teams did more good than a thousand horses: they could go through mud & mire — slosh & rain and do well — not so with horses. We couldn't follow the Indians for more than 3 or 4 days: it was impossible for our horses to carry man — gun — & his food — the horse — himself & his food through the muck & mire — swamp & brush. The horses gave out — wore litterally out — no grass — no nothing — too early for grass — in May — cold up there. The horses were jaded. The clothes of the men gave out — torn to pieces by briar & brush. We carried our tents on our horse — the poor horse carried everything: the baggage waggons Couldnt keep up — no roads — no bridges & no ways to travel — and hence the horses suffered all — and bore all. We were mustered out of Service at Ottowa about 28 or 29. The Govr Said "The mens times are up — horses jaded & worn out — men naked &c and they must be discharged & so wer were. He said he would send the Lieut Govr for new men — He called on the men — all who could stay by possibility to stay 20 days more as a Kind of Guard — Abe re-enlisted for the 20 days — staid it out — Lincoln never got out of Ills — never got into the Wisconsin line — was in no battle — Demint scoured the N. western part of Ills. Lincoln was with him —

In the Camps of the Evening we played Cards — sometimes — We were generally to tired & hungry to have sport & fun. An Indian came into Camp or was Caught by Doct Early's Company and our boys thought he was a spy — sprang to our feet — was going to shoot the man — he had a line or Certificate from Cass. Lincoln jumped between our men & Indian and said we must not shed his blood — that it must not be on our Skirts — some one thought Lincoln was a coward because he was not savage: he said if any one doubts my Courage Let him try it.


I saw the great wrestle between Lincoln & Dow Thompson from Sinclair Co. Ills. He threw Lincoln — Wrestled at Beardstown — wrestled thigh holds — first man that Ever

Library of Congress: Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3850, Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3851, Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3854, Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3852, Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3853, Herndon-Weik Collection. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 3855; Huntington Library: LN2408, 1:370 — 75



1. Martin S. and Alexander Trent apparently succeeded to the Berry-Lincoln store and its goods, rather than selling out to Lincoln as described here. See McKenzie.

2. Gen. Henry Atkinson.

3. Maj. Isaiah Stillman.

4. Rachel and Sylvia Hall, two survivors of the massacre of the William Hall family, were kidnapped by the Indians and later released near Galena.

5. Neither Clary nor Lincoln saw the actual victims of this attack, but they apparently did see the scalps that Clary describes at an abandoned Pottawatomie village. See Whitney.

6. Lt. Gov. Zadoc Casey.

7. Maj. John Dement, in charge of a spy battalion. It appears doubtful that AL served with him.

8. Dr. Jacob M. Early of Springfield commanded the third Black Hawk War unit in which Lincoln served.

9. Clary apparently means the first man that ever threw Lincoln.