Pictures and Illustrations.
THE Publishers feel fortunate that, in spite of the shortage of paper, binding cloth, and craftsmen during the war it has been possible to maintain the continuity of the annual issue of The Lakeside Classics these forty-two years.
For the first time an unpublished manuscript furnishes the subject matter. The manuscript is the memoir of Daniel Harmon Brush who, at the age of 8, migrated from New York state to southern Illinois in 1820. The memoir was apparently written during his old age for the younger members of the family and their descendants, and not for publication. There is no information as to how the manuscript drifted out of the possession of Brush's descendants. All that is known is the statement of the dealer in rare books from whom it was purchased that it had been in their stock for the past dozen or more years. The manuscript is far too long for our format, and many deletions have been necessary. The method followed in deleting was to preserve all portions that told of the activities of Brush personally, and
viiiwhat influence he had upon the economic and cultural developments of southern Illinois.
Starting from zero at the age of twelve, he became a prosperous business man, interested in public affairs. Today he would be known as one of our "leading citizens"—leading in business ability, holding the confidence of the public, and leading in public undertakings to which he contributed generously in time and money. His story is not exciting, but it gives a good picture of how the enterprise and character of a pioneer were reflected in the growth and character of the community as they both grew up together.
The majority of the deletions were family letters and intimate incidents that would be of little interest to the general reader. There is a portion, however, that would have been amusing had it not been so prolific. That covered the political controversies between Brush, a Whig almost alone in the district, and the Democrats with their southern sympathies. The leaders of the opposition were Alexander M. Jenkins, Brush's brother-in-law, and John A. Logan, Sr., at that time active in returning runaway slaves to their "rightful" owners. Mr. Logan's son John at the outbreak of the Civil War, joined the federal army and was in time appointed a Major General, the only one so honored
ixwho was not a West Pointer. After the war he returned to politics and eventually was one of the senators from Illinois. In his memoir Brush included all the handbills of defamation circulated by his enemies and his own replying handbills and speeches. In most of the elections Brush won, but his care in saving all documents relating to his campaigns suggests that he felt keenly his enemies' accusations and included them all in his memoir to establish his innocence. As a sample of rough and ready campaigning, it is a masterpiece and establishes a precedent for the smearing technique in fashion during some of our recent national campaigns.
Perhaps some candidate for a Ph.D. in social science, desperate for a virgin field of research, will find ample source material on pioneer campaigning in Brush's memoir which has been presented to the Illinois State Historical Society at Springfield.
Writing just as the allied armies are about to enter Germany, and confident that the War of Europe is about over, we feel it is timely to wish our readers a Merry Christmas and a New Year in which we can hopefully face the task of regaining our American way of life.
THE close of every great war leaves mankind once more on the march. So it will be when World War II ends, and so it was a century and a quarter ago when our second war with Great Britain, for which we have never yet found an appropriate name, terminated. Then, as now, petty crime and disorder was rampant. To combat such evils, in Puritan-minded Massachusetts certain well-meaning citizens proceeded to found a college while in cruder pioneer Detroit the city fathers moved more directly toward their goal by setting up a public whipping post on a prominent street corner.
Part and parcel of the general economic and social upheaval was an intensified migration of settlers from the older East and from Europe into the fabulous wilderness lying west of the Alleghenies. Chief obstacle to this wholesale migration was the paucity of highways to and into the western country. Appropriately, however, Robert Fulton developed a workable steamboat in 1807, and four years later a relative of
xivPresident Roosevelt placed the New Orleans in service on the lower Mississippi. So rapidly did steamboats multiply on the "western waters" that by the later thirties their tonnage exceeded that of Great Britain's entire merchant marine and twenty years later still New Orleans and St. Louis had become America's second and third ports, yielding precedence only to New York City.
Thus it came to pass that those western areas lying adjacent to the Ohio and the lower Mississippi were being rapidly occupied by settlers while there was still but a trickle of migration into the region adjoining the Great Lakes. Chiefly, too, they were populated by southern migrants who found their way into the western country either by way of the Ohio River or by traveling overland through the famous Cumberland Gap, lying near the borders of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. Only when the Erie Canal was completed in 1825 and steamboats were placed on the Upper Lakes did the tide of migration into the Great Lakes area begin in earnest.
xvAmerica, lagged far behind such newer river-port rivals as Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville and St. Louis, all of which were flourishing inland metropolises while such subsequent Great Lakes centers as Toledo, Chicago, and Milwaukee remained yet unborn.
Once begun, however, the tide of migration into northern Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and subsequently into adjacent Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa waxed rapidly. Indiana, admitted to statehood in 1816, and Illinois, admitted in 1818, had each but a few thousand inhabitants clustered along the river borders of their respective southern counties. Not until 1817 was it possible to journey overland between Detroit and the civilized East without trespassing upon the intervening Indian country. In 1820, all Michigan Territory (then including present-day Wisconsin) had less than 9,000 white inhabitants, while as late as 1836 Wisconsin had but 12,000. By 1850 the latter number had increased to 305,000 and by 1860 to 775,000; while Michigan, the older state, had 749,000 in 1860 and Iowa, the newer one, had 675,000.
In 1818 Illinois had 30,000 residents, all in the southern end of the state, and the over whelming majority of southern stock. In 1821 Governor Cass traveled up the Illinois River from St. Louis to Chicago without encountering a single habitation north of Peoria. Ten years later, save for a considerable Influx of miners to the lead-mine region around Galena, northern Illinois was still practically uninhabited. In 1830 Chicago had no harbor, nor any mention in the U. S. census. Harbor improvement and growth of population began together in 1833. The city's first export statistics were recorded in 1836; ten years later 1400 vessels departed from the harbor in a single season. To complete our present hasty survey it need only be added that the Great Lakes area was occupied chiefly by settlers coming from the northern states of the Union and from Europe. Their advent proved decisive of the civil conflict of the sixties, in which the exuberant strength of the new Northwest doomed the southern dream of national disunion to failure and preserved intact the nation which Washington had founded two generations earlier.
Such, briefly and too inadequately sketched, was the background of the new West to which Elkanah Brush migrated in
xvii1821. Although Illinois was then chiefly peopled by men of southern stock, it was not wholly devoid of Yankees. One such migrant who preceded Brush by a year or two was John Tillson, husband of Christiana Holmes Tillson, whose charming narrative of life in pioneer Illinois was published as the Lakeside Classics volume for 1919.
"In 1819," writes Mrs. Tillson other husband's first western journey, "going to Illinois was more of an event than a trip now would be to the most remote part of the
xviiihabitable globe." From Massachusetts he went by sea to Baltimore, taking passage on a sailing ship since as yet there were but few steamboats on the ocean and none which dared to cross it. From Baltimore he seems to have crossed the mountains to Pittsburgh and there to have taken a flatboat for Shawneetown. Brush, however, setting out from Vergennes, Vermont, two years later, wagoned overland the entire distance, striking Lake Erie at Erie, Pennsylvania and traveling southwestward to Vincennes and so on to St. Louis.
The first choice of a home in Missouri proved undesirable (whether because of the malaria or of dislike for Negro slavery seems uncertain), and the second quickly proved disastrous. At Bluffdale, in Greene County, Illinois, a rarely attractive site for the little Vermont colony was found, but within a few months death came to the pioneer, leaving his widow and her brood of young children to cope with the future as best they might. Eligible women were scarce on the frontier, and Mrs. Brush eventually solved her more pressing economic problem by remarriage. The younger children found a home with her, the eldest daughter married, and Daniel, the oldest son, presently joined his sister in the home of his new-found brother-in-law.
xixThus was begun the association with Alexander M. Jenkins which fills so large a part of our story. Eventually the two men became bitter enemies, and the picture our author presents of Jenkins is exceedingly distressing. In reading it, it is but fair to remember the animosity which animated the writer, and that Jenkins' side of the story remains untold. Quite possibly his version of the quarrel, if available to us, would disclose some extenuation of his conduct which would permit us to think more kindly of him. As matters stand, about all we know of him is that he was an active local politician, a member of the Masonic Order, and President for a short time of a projected Illinois Central Railroad which was never built.
The story of Daniel Brush's career down to the point in 1861 when death interrupted his recital, is told so amply and clearly that but little editorial interpretation is called for. Beginning life as a practically penniless orphan, by the exercise of industry and intelligence he rose to a position of leadership in his home community. Financial prosperity rewarded his toil and the latter half of his life was one of affluence if not of personal ease. To the end he remained the order-loving, aggressive Yankee, hating intemperance and slavery and devoted to religion,
xxeducation, and patriotism. That such a man would be respected by his associates is obvious; that he was not a particularly lovable character seems equally clear.
The advent of civil war in 1861 found him at the height of his physical and business career. Although the war promised him nothing but sacrifice he did not hesitate to leave his business and his young and developing family to offer his service, and his life if need be, to his country. Successful in the army as he had already proved in civil life, he rose by successive promotions to the rank of colonel of his regiment (the Eighteenth Illinois Infantry) and to brigadier general by brevet. His son, Daniel H. Brush, a graduate of West Point, and his grandson, Ralph Brush, likewise became generals in the U. S. Army. His only wound, according to the recollection of a grandson, was produced by a rebel bullet which penetrated his side, leaving a permanent mark behind but no serious physical consequences. Colonel Brush was intensely proud of his military record and the elaborate will which he composed when nearing the end of life carefully distributed among his children his several army commissions and other mementoes, including "the straight sword captured from the rebels at Fort Donelson."
xxiIn his early manhood Colonel Brush had been strongly tempted to enter upon a legal career. Instead, he confined himself to business until shortly before leaving for the army, when he was admitted to the bar. Returning from military life he entered upon the practice of the law in earnest, achieving marked local success. Until the advent of old age he was a leading attorney of Carbon dale and southern Illinois, as well as a fore most figure generally in the business and social life of the city he had founded in the early fifties.
Although Colonel Brush's narrative terminates in 1861 amid the failure of banks and the crash of fortunes generally, he either preserved or subsequently recovered his own fortune, and according to the standards of his time and place he remained a wealthy citizen at the time of death in 1890. His first wife and the mother of his children, Julia Etherton Brush, died in 1867. A year or so later he remarried, the bride being an eastern woman whose name and place of residence are not now remembered by our informants. They recall distinctly, however, that she was a woman of culture and refinement, who lived happily with Colonel Brush but who never really adjusted herself to the social environment of the small midwestern
xxiicommunity to which he had brought her. Following his death in 1890 she returned to her eastern home. Of its identity or of her further career we have learned nothing.
The mansion whose erection in 1856-57 Colonel Brush has described remained his home until his death, and in it was penned, during his closing years, the present narrative. It occupied outlets 36, 42, and 43 of the original town plat of Carbondale, comprising a tract 71/5 acres but a block removed from the business center of the town. Colonel Brush was animated in all his works by a passion for excellence, and upon his home he lavished his energy and loving care, to the end of providing a domicile in keeping with the business and civic prestige of the owner. A passionate lover of trees and horticulture, he maintained a large greenhouse and introduced or cultivated a wide variety of interesting and valuable plants and shrubs. The excellence of his fruits is still vivid in the memory of a grandson who shared the home in boyhood. The entire place was enclosed by a thick hedge, within which magnolias, Cape jasmines, and numerous other trees nourished, while flower beds, stables, a greenhouse, a fishpond, and other appurtenances suitable to a prosperous estate were ranged in orderly array.
xxiiiOne thing, however, not all the master's energy and ability could capture. He was an eminently just, but no less determined character, who did not suffer opposition gladly and to whose iron will all others must submit or suffer exclusion from the Colonel's social and domestic circle. A grandson recalls how when walking along the street as a small boy if he neglected to doff his cap to a lady he was promptly admonished by a sharp blow of the grandfatherly cane upon his rearward anatomy. Another memory concerns an occasion when some church leaders took ad vantage of the temporary absence of Colonel Brush from Carbondale to make certain changes in the church interior. Upon his re turn he made this insignificant matter the cause of a violent quarrel, and when his favorite nephew and business partner declined to make the quarrel his own the angry Colonel severed all relations with him for an extended period.
More distressing to all concerned were the consequences of Colonel Brush's dominance over his domestic circle. Most of its members submitted to his orders, but a younger son and daughter did not. In drawing his will, the father withheld the son's portion, placing it in the hands of the executors with detailed and exacting directions concerning
xxivthe conditions which the delinquent must meet before he should be deemed worthy of receiving any of it. The daughter was disinherited altogether, together with any future husband and children she might have; and this action was accompanied with a violence of language recorded in too ample detail in the father's last solemn will which even today makes exceedingly painful reading. Yet the gravamen of her offense consisted in the fact that she was a joyous, fun-loving girl (she was but twenty-one when disinherited) who declined to accept her father's dictation over her social life and companions. In particular, she insisted upon going out without the company of a chaperon. One who remembers her well testifies that she had a rarely beautiful disposition and that despite parental condemnation she was the joy and delight of the other members of the family in subsequent years.
Painfully fleet are the material works of man. Although Colonel Brush has been dead but little more than half a century he sleeps in a forlorn spot in an antique cemetery, while all vestiges of his imposing home have long since vanished, saving only the soil it self. The mansion burned down not long after the owner's demise, accidentally fired by two eager grandchildren who in an upper
xxvroom were absorbed in the engrossing task of moulding lead bullets. While thus engaged they fired the stove to its capacity and the overheated pipe set fire to the partition through which it ran. With the mansion gone, the increasing value of the realty, close to the center of the city, led to the obliteration of the remainder of the establishment. Today the city post office occupies one portion of the site, while churches, residences, and streets cover the remainder. Greenhouse and fishpond, fruit trees and flower beds and all else, exist only in the memory of a few now aged townsmen.
On April 25, 1884, Colonel Brush made and signed his last will and testament. It is a long and remarkable document, whose every paragraph evidences the efficient fore sight of its maker and his passion for giving detailed commands. To the wife who survived him was given one-third of the personal property besides her dower in the realty. She was to have "the Chickering piano which I bought for her"; "the large Bible with my name in gilt letters on the out side which she presented to me Christmas 1872"; the large portrait of myself made by Schotten, with "no charge to be made against her for said picture," but at her death it was to be returned to such member of the family
xxvias she might designate; she was also to have a variety of other personal property, including family jewels, carriage and horses, the pictures she had owned before her marriage, etc.
All else (save $10 awarded the disinherited youngest child) was left to the testator's five remaining children, to each of whom some military commission or other particular personal item was carefully devised. To Daniel, who spent his life as an officer in the U. S. Army, was left his father's military sash and sword, "trusting that he will never wear or use the same unworthily." Most interesting, in this connection, is the language employed in bequeathing his watch to Richard, the younger son: "I have worn [it] near upon fifty years and it has served me well—and while now old-fashioned and somewhat abraded outside, its inner works yet seem good and do fair duty and will, if well cared for and kept in order, continue so to do so for years to come. It has in ‘Auld Lang Syne’ been a joy and delight to the members of my household, especially to each infant prattler as he or she toyed with it while dandled upon my knee." Bitter indeed must have been the resentment of such a father who in the selfsame document could disown forever his young daughter, together
xxviiwith any future husband and children she might have.
As originally made out, the will provided the sum of $300 to enclose Elkanah Brush's burial plot and to erect a monument to him, the inscription on which the document care fully recited. When, subsequently, it proved impossible to identify the spot where the body had been buried "under a spreading oak" near his log cabin, "then outside the limits of civilization and far away from cemeteries," the bequest was changed to provide for a general family monument in the Carbondale Cemetery with a lengthy inscription which reads as follows: "This stone is erected by the sons of Elkanah Brush to his memory. He was born in Vermont, March 7, 1762 and died in Green[e] County, Illinois, July 11, 1821. In the fall of 1820 he migrated from Vergennes, Vermont with his family consisting of his wife Lucretia and their children, Mary, Daniel Harmon, James, and Rowland R., the eldest nine and the youngest one year old, and settled at a point after wards named Bluffdale making the whole distance with horse teams and being the first to take wagons to the region where he located, then the wilds of Illinois. He built a cabin of rough logs for his family residence, broke land and put in crops and died. Also
xxviiiin memory of our mother Lucretia who died December 14, 1847 aged 68; Sister Mary who died May 1, 1841, aged 30; Brother James who died June 10, 1849 aged 33; and Brother Rowland R. who died March 9, 1880, aged 60.
Beloved in Life! Your memories we fondly cherish. "Rest in Peace."
A few years after he had thus set his affairs in order. Colonel Brush, at the ripe age of seventy-five, began the laborious task of writing in a large leather bound record book the detailed story of his life. How seriously he applied himself to the task can be discovered only in part from the narrative now printed, since from it have been excluded many original letters and documents as well as a large portion of the text itself. On or prior to February 10, 1890, he laid down his pen in the middle of a sentence, never to take it up again, although he had brought his narrative only to the year 1861. Adjoining the family mansion stood the Brush School on ground which he donated to the city of Carbondale, and on the date we have mentioned Colonel Brush went out to supervise some improvements to the school ground. A tree was I being sawed down and to direct its fall a rope had been attached to it. To assist the matter he threw the weight of his body on the rope.
xxixUnexpectedly the tree fell in the opposite direction from the one designed for it, the suddenly tautened rope, which he had wound around his wrists, hurled Colonel Brush into the air, and the consequent fall to earth killed him instantly.
The story of his career affords as good an illustration of the making of a nineteenth-century successful American as any that can be supplied. Beginning life as an orphan in a raw frontier society, he kept pace with the growth of his State and lived to become one of its substantial leaders. While achieving personal wealth and business success he was mindful of the demands of society, and contributed freely both of time and means to the promotion of religion, temperance, and education. The supreme test came to him in 1861 when he cheerfully put aside all personal and private interests to devote himself to saving the life of his country. Through a long and laborious lifetime he was one of its truest builders, and if in return it rewarded him with wealth and honors who shall say that these were undeserved?
In the little Carbondale Cemetery where he lies buried the monument whose erection and inscription he himself dictated occupies a central position. A few yards away, lower down the hillside, beneath a humbler stone,
xxxrest the remains of Alexander M. Jenkins, his erstwhile brother-in-law and partner, with whom he subsequently quarreled so bitterly. Directly across the street is a modern school building devoted to the education of Carbondale's Negro children, probably none of whom have ever heard of the valiant champion of their race who rests so quietly within sound of their playground clamor. His truer monuments are the city of Carbondale itself and the fine Teachers' College—only recently transformed into Southern Illinois University—for whose origin he was to a considerable degree responsible.
Since their beginning in 1903 the annual Lakeside Classics volumes have been devoted to reprinting narratives and documents found in earlier, and frequently rare, books. Since 1916, when the present writer assumed their editorship, only narratives dealing with western and frontier life and exploration have been published. The present volume marks an important departure from its predecessors, presenting for the first time a narrative never published hitherto.
In editing it for publication, the procedure we have followed seemed clearly dictated by logic and the circumstances of the case.
xxxiColonel Brush's literary style was exceedingly prolix and tedious, and he dilated, as was natural in a personal narrative, upon many incidents too trivial or too personal to be of interest to the present-day reader. He also introduced many original letters or other documents into his narration. The latter we have not deemed it desirable to print, and we have reduced the auto biographical material proper to about one-half of its manuscript dimensions. In the process we have excised words or phrases and reconstructed sentences freely to the end of casting the author's narrative in a form as consecutive and readable as the character of the original permits. In short, Colonel Brush, who did not write for publication, badly needed a diligent and thorough-going editor. This need we have striven to supply. The reader will understand, therefore, that the book now printed does not present a verbatim or a complete rendering of the original document. It does undertake to reproduce faithfully the author's evident meaning in all of his narrative which we have under taken to publish.
The photograph of the author is reproduced with the courteous permission of the Principal of the Brush School, from a sepia drawing of Colonel Brush which hangs in a
xxxiihallway of that building. To Professor George W. Smith, veteran teacher and historian of Carbondale and southern Illinois, and to Rolland E. Bridges Sr. of Carbondale, a grandson of Colonel Brush, the Editor is indebted for gracious hospitality, numerous courtesies, and much useful information tendered with unwearying patience by these gentlemen.
M. M. QUAIFE
Detroit Public Library
September 1, 1944
Growing Up with Southern Illinois.
I DANIEL HARMON BRUSH, having by favor of a good Providence attained to three-fourths of a century in age—still, however, strong and lusty in health—commence in this book the jotting down of items that have transpired in a somewhat busy and extended life, as recollected by me or derived from other reliable sources, of small importance or interest to the passing crowd, but which, in the relation, may tend to be guile a tedious hour and afford some recreation in the remaining shadowy days allotted me.
The first record I find of the Brush family is in an old Bible that belonged to my father, Elkanah Brush, in which it is recorded that his father, Reuben Brush, was born in the year 1711, and that his mother, Ruth Brush, was born in 1715. They were married in 1738, and there were born unto them—Eliphalet, Nov. 29, 1739, Nathaniel, April 22, 1741, Sarah, Nov. 24, 1743, Lemuel, Sept.
410, 1745, Eunice, Feb. 9, 1747, William, May 12, 1750, Isabel, May 24, 1752, Alexander, June 21, 1755, Ebenezer, Aug. 24, 1757, Ruth, May 18, 1759, and Elkanah, my father, March 9,1762, he being the eleventh and last child. His father died in June, 1774 aged 62 years and 3 mos. His mother, Ruth died March 25, 1810 aged 95 years.
Of the history of my father's brothers and sisters I have no knowledge, there being no further record of them in my reach, and no one yet surviving, so far as I know, who might give information.
My mother's maiden name was Lucretia Harmon. She was a daughter of Daniel Harmon, who was born January 26, 1748, N. S. and died June 26, 1805. His wife's name was Lucretia. They resided in Bennington, Vermont, afterwards in Vergennes in the same state, where he died. She died in Coventry, Vermont Feb. 14, 1829. My mother was born March 2, 1780 in Vermont and died in Morgan County, Illinois Dec. 14, 1847.
Daniel Williams Harmon—my mother's brother next older than herself, was born in Bennington, Vermont Feb. 19,1778 and died in Montreal, Canada March 26, 1845. In April, 1800 he engaged as a clerk to the North West Company, otherwise denominated McTavish, Frobisher and Co. engaged
5in the fur trade, in the savage regions of the then little known portion of country north and west of the Great Lakes of this continent, and east and west of the Rocky Mountains. He left Montreal, Canada April 28 of that year under a seven years' contract, with other clerks of the Company for the "Indian Countries," with goods for trade, in canoes manned by Canadian voyageurs employed to take the goods by lake and stream to their destination. October 10,1805, while stationed at Cumberland House Fort in the vicinity of Lake Winipick, as was customary with persons doing business in those wilds, he took a young girl, whose father was a Canadian and whose mother was of the tribe of the Snare Indians, whose country lay along the Rocky Mountains, to live with him as a companion. They lived together as husband and wife from that day on and to them eleven children were born.
In the year 1819 Uncle Daniel left the Indian country to visit, as he says, his "native land." As an honorable and Christian man, he took with him the woman whom he had lived with so long and their children then alive, and when they reached civilization they were formally married, and afterwards as husband and wife lived together in Montreal and in Vermont until his
6death in 1845. She died some years later in Brooklyn, N. Y. at the house of her son John—all honor to the good man, for his right action herein I say.
The subject of this autobiographical Memoir was born at Vergennes, Vermont April 25th, 1813, his parents being Elkanah and Lucretia Brush. He had a sister about two years his senior named Mary—born Aug. 6, 1811 and two brothers—James, born Jan. 24, 1816 and Rowland R., born Nov. 16, 1819. Elkanah Brush died in 1821 in Greene County, Illinois, aged 59 years, and Lucretia Dec. 14, 1847, aged 67 years and 7 months. She died, wife of Stephen Gorham, in Morgan County, Ill.
My father was married three times. His first wife's name was Alathea. They were married in 1780, and she died Feb. 14, 1801.
7They had nine children, 5 sons and 4 daughters. He next married Rebecca Washborn. They had no children. She died May 31, 1808. Thereafter, in October he married Lucretia Strong. She was a daughter of Capt. Daniel Harmon of Bennington, Vermont. She married first Luke Strong, who died April 5, 1807, leaving one child named Sally, born Jan. 8, 1801. She died Jan. 19, 1856 at Vergennes, Illinois.
When my father and mother intermarried, his youngest child was a daughter named Alathea, born Feb. 11, 1801. She and my mother's daughter Sally were near the same age, and were raised together in the family. In 1828, seven years after my father's decease, my mother was again married to Stephen Gorham at Bluffdale, Illinois and went to reside with him on his farm near Jacksonville in Morgan County. They had no children.
The progenitors of the Brush family emigrated, it is said, from Great Britain, either Scotland or Wales, sometime in the 17th century and located on Long Island, whence some of them removed to Vermont and settled in the region about Lake Champlain, and were among the Patriots of the Revolutionary War. An uncle, Nathaniel Brush, was colonel of a regiment with General
8Stark's force at the battle of Bennington, Aug. 16, 1777. Some took part also in the War of 1812, during which various members of the family were found in the service of the Government.
While some of the family remained on Long Island, and descendants thereof may still be found in that part of the country, and especially in and around Brooklyn, others migrated to northern New York and farther West into Ohio and about Detroit, where numbers of the name may now be found, all doubtless from the original Brush stock.
The Harmon family was quite numerous at Bennington, and afterwards in and around Vergennes, and overflowed therefrom into New York and other parts of the country. None of my ancestors, so far as has come to my knowledge, was greatly renowned in war or famous in peace, nor were they distinguished for wealth or worldly honors. The
9adage, "Poor but honest," may fairly be applied to the race, I think, no criminals or boodle takers having yet developed among them.
About the earliest recollection of the writer is being held up to a window by his good mother at the Vergennes homestead, to see the soldiers marching by with fife and drum and colors flying, returning from towards Canada at the close of the Second War with England; after that, the house we lived in, with the apple tree by the well, from which such delicious red apples dropped in their season; then Otter Creek near at hand, with the bridge over the stream, and the falls with incessant roar of waters tumbling over, just below—the tiresome hill beyond, up which we had to plod when visiting Uncle Argalus Harmon's folks, with whom Grand mother Harmon lived—very old, but very kind and lovable, to us little ones she seemed perfect. At our home were two good and loving sisters, Alathea and Sally, about 16 years old each and his own sister Mary aged six. Fond recollection still brings vividly in review the village green in front of our house, with the schoolhouse on a corner of the plot, where the first teachings by a "school marm" were received. Home then was a happy place and time passed without a drawback
10the first seven years of the writer's life. He learned to read and to spell out of the good old Webster spelling book and was considered by his good mother as quite proficient in his childish studies.
Some four or five years after my birth father removed from the western side of Otter Creek to the eastern side up on the hill, where the city was more densely settled and neighboring houses were nearer together. He there owned a place on which he resided until , the fall of 1820, when he with his family, consisting of my mother, sister Mary, my self, and brothers James and Rowland, the last named an infant, with several other families of the vicinage among whom were Spencers, Russells, Rodgers, Robleys, and
11Hawlevs, started for the western wilds of the Mississippi Valley, then the Eldorado of many enterprising Yankee minds. The transportation was in two-horse wagons covered with heavy cotton cloth, to keep out the sun and the rain. Of such my father had three, one of which, prepared especially to accommodate the wife and little ones and to hold articles for constant use, with necessary camping out equipment, was under his personal management. One of the others was entrusted to John Spencer, a most worthy young man, who afterwards located at Rock Island, Illinois, made himself a home, grew up with the country and in due time became prosperous—a good and useful citizen and died wealthy.
12vessel and placed in the bottom of the wagon bed beneath the heaviest portion of the load. Two-horse wagons and teams composed the transportation of the other families, and when all were in line the moving train made quite a conspicuous show.
The start from Vergennes was made about the first of September 1820. The day of parting with relatives and friends and the old home grounds was dreary and sad to many. To strike out overland in wagons, the only way then of going, upon a two-months' journey into the wilderness, twelve hundred miles distant, seemed to the men and women no puerile undertaking, but while they were grave the youngsters were joyful and happy in the prospect of a good long ride with changing delights by the way. Well I recollect the crossing of the water in a boat near the upper end of Lake Champlain and the travel thence to Erie, a small town on the southern shore of Lake Erie, where a stop for a few days was made with a sister of my father, who resided there.
From Erie the train of movers pursued its way southwestward along the shore of the Lake some distance, continuing in the same direction through Ohio and Indiana, following an old trail little traveled and dimly marked out, to Vincennes. Very little settlement
13had been made in the region through which the route ran. Some small clearings with a patch of ground fenced, and log cabins erected to shelter the settlers occasionally appeared in the dense forests through which we passed. At some of these improvements peach trees had been planted, from which ripe fruit was gathered and brought to the occupants of our wagons. Being the first any of us had ever seen, memory now recalls their beautiful appearance and exquisitely delicious taste.
From Vincennes the old military trace was followed to St. Louis, then a very insignificant town in appearance, the approach to which, after crossing the Mississippi, was up a rocky ledge from the river landing into streets narrow and crooked and devoid of much artificial improvement. We crossed the great river on a ferry boat propelled by horse power—the horses turning an inclined wheel fixed in the center of the boat, by trying to climb up on it.
I watched the laborious proceeding with boyish interest and the hard striving of the poor blind animals to get up the incline and yet remaining in the same place made a lasting impression on my mind, which recurs to me in full force at times, and especially when in these later years I have crossed at
14the same point the Father of Waters on the wonderful structure, reaching from shore to shore, erected by the scientific skill of the great engineer.
From St. Louis our party went west some 25 miles to Bonhomme settlement near the Missouri River, where brother Reuben then was. He had come in advance of father with a view of selecting a favorable place for settlement. He was found suffering from the prevalent disease of the new country, bilious fever, and the "shakes." The prospect for health and comfort in that heavily timbered region not being flattering, father concluded not to stay there but that he would seek a home farther north.
15mill had been erected propelled by the water of a small stream. The mill and a little village of settlers around it was the sum total of the town, the mill being the big thing with the people in the surrounding settlement. Our caravan laid in supplies of flour to last some time, knowing that no mills farther north had then been established. From Milltown the journey was prosecuted into Greene County, on the Illinois River, the point arrived at being Carrollton, then recently laid off into lots as the county seat. The town was started in a prairie and appeared weak and straggling.
The objective point decided upon by my father and others of the company as a place of settlement was under the bluffs of the Illinois River about 8 miles west from Carrollton and about 4 miles east of the river, where the prairie adjoined the rocky bluffs. The only way to reach this place was down the ravines running through the hills west of the prairie in which the town was located.
Our wagons were the first to make the trip and well do I remember the chopping out the route and temporary bridging of the small and crooked water courses so as to permit the teams to get on their way. After much labor and delay, however, the task was
16accomplished, and the end of our travels was reached. The time consumed in making the journey from Vermont, including the stoppages, must have been over two months. No serious accident had happened to any of the party, and the discomforts because of unfavorable weather or other circumstances incident to journeying in the uninhabited West were few and trivial.
The place selected for homes by the colony was most attractive to the eye and had many superior advantages for farming purposes. A prairie of richest soil stretched out about 4 miles in length and one mile wide, extending to the timber growing next the river. The strip of timber—pecan, hickory, black walnut, oak, persimmon, ash, hackberry, etc.—being some three miles in width to the Bluffs that were bare of timber with walls of rock in places standing perpendicular from the prairie's edge, one hundred or more feet in height. Grass covered the summits, which loomed up above the rock in rounded cones of varied heights, kept denuded of other growth than grass by annual fires that overswept the hills and the prairie ground below. At intervals of half to three-fourths of a mile small spring-fed creeks of Jiving water came through passes in the Bluffs and took their winding way down
17through the prairie until lost by spreading out in the bottomland towards the river. At many points along the Bluffs ever-living and unchanging springs of cold water, clear and pure, burst forth beneath the solid walls of rock, non-freezing in winter and refreshingly cold in summer, from which little rivulets sang their way over pebbly beds towards the setting sun.
East of the Bluffs a short distance, a fine growth of choicest timber set in and covered the broken ground, as also the valleys, from which ample supplies were obtained for building and fencing purposes. Great groves of sugar maples were common along the little streams that came down through the hills, from which came most of the sugar used by the settlers for many years. The times of sugar making, and especially the stirring off, were peculiarly interesting to the small fry, of which the writer was one. Only one family, Luther Calvin's, had located in the vicinity before our people stopped there. He had a wife and seven children, 4 boys and three girls, and all of them proved to be first-class friends and excellent neighbors.
The settlement, after the Vermont families caught on there, was dubbed the Yankee Settlement, and afterwards was designated Bluffdale, a very appropriate and descriptive
18appellation which has been continued ever since.
My father at once selected a spot for a habitation near a fine large spring at the entrance of a valley that extended back some distance between hills towards the East, and began a double log cabin of round logs with the bark on, notched at the ends and laid up until the walls were 7 or 8 feet high to the square, then the gables aslant on each side to give proper pitch to the roof. Logs were placed from end to end to support the roof which was made of four-foot split boards laid on without nails, the boards being well lapped and the joints broken with a second course, and all kept in place by logs laid every 3 feet on the outside of the roof to hold the boards down. Then a doorway and a place for a six-light window in each cabin were cut out, and doors made of split boards fastened with wooden pegs to cross bars with auger holes through the back end so the door might be hung on the other part of the hinge, also of wood, driven into the side of the doorway through auger holes placed at the right distance apart for a substantial hanging of the shutter. The other edge of the door had a wooden latch, fastened on the inside with a wooden catch at the inner edge of the wall, into which the latch dropped when the door
19was closed. A string fastened to the upper edge of the latch passed to the outside through a hole in the shutter, by which the latch was raised to open the door. The rule was that the "latch string always hung out" to friends, but if privacy was desired from outsiders, the latch string was pulled in.
Our cabins were about 16 to 18 feet square each, with a space between of 10 to 12 feet in width, floored but open at each end, forming a most agreeable place for sitting and for the table in hot weather, and cold enough in winter to make one pass through in a hurry. The doors of the cabins opened out upon this space, which was covered by the extension of the cabin roofs. A loft of split boards was laid over each room, making the story from the floor to the loft six or seven feet high, causing greater warmth in the room below and furnishing storage room above.
The floors of the cabins were made of puncheons split out as thin as desired from hunks of the hackberry tree, a very free splitting wood of firm and beautiful grain, and white in color. The logs were cut in convenient lengths and split into pieces as wide as possible, which were straightened on the edges and hewed on the surface to be laid uppermost to a thickness that would make the floor when laid as even as possible; all of
20which being carefully and neatly done, made a floor nice enough to content any sensible housewife who could not afford carpets. It was satisfactory to my good mother for all the years of her early experience in our first home in the new country.
Father and brother Reuben, who had joined us from Missouri, each entered eighty acres of land lying side by side and broke up twenty acres of the prairie and planted corn therein, having enclosed the ground with a split-rail fence. The breaking up consisted in turning over the sod which was matted with grass roots and frequently a "red root" of one to three or four inches in thickness, very strong and hard to tear out; the strips turned over were 15 to 20 inches wide. A heavy plow with a coulter for cutting the sod as deep as desired, attached to the beam a small way in advance of the share, was used. The work required teams of horses or oxen in proportion to the width and depth of the furrow to be cut. If horses were used three or more spans, if oxen three or four yokes, moved the plow.
The strips turned over fitted evenly and snugly into the last-displaced sod, so that when a piece of ground was broken the surface was as smooth and level as before the sod was turned upside down so that no grass
21was in sight and only the severed roots appeared on top. The corn was planted by striking an axe every 4 feet between the edges of the sods, and dropping 3 or 4 kernels for a hill, and then by a tread of the foot pressing the sod together again. No weeds or grass sprang up on such ground the first year and the corn needed no attention with plow or hoe, and if got in early good crops were yielded of corn and fodder. My first experience in farm work was riding one of the horses to keep the team in place while plowing, and dropping the corn where hills were desired to grow. I early became adept in each branch and prided myself upon the fact.
The winter of 1820-21 had been passed pleasantly by our family. Spring came and with it delightful weather pushing out the luxuriant vegetation all around, wild fruits such as crabapples, plums, grapes, pawpaws, persimmons, hackberries, mayapples, blackberries, dewberries, and raspberries gave promise of abundant yield, while the luscious strawberry had come and afforded us many rich feasts. Well I remember a day when father and mother after visiting a spot where they had noticed the maturing berries, came back well laden with the scarlet clusters of a half dozen or more on a single stem. These
22were the first the young ones saw, but it did not take long for us to spy out the spots which the gleeful fairies of the grass had so favored.
Summer came and over one-third of it had passed and still all were enjoying the best of health. Soon, however, was to be inflicted upon the wife and children of our little family a stroke of the greatest severity possible in its then condition. About the 8th or 9th of July, 1821 our good father was stricken with apoplexy so severe that he at once became unconscious and continued thus until the 11th of the month when he expired, leaving a widow and four children, the eldest my sister Mary but ten years old, myself next aged eight, and two brothers, James and Rowland, the first 5 and the last 2 years of age.
The utter despair of the widow engendered by this affliction cannot be described with words nor understood by those who have not had a similar experience. Only one resource was open to her in her agony. That was the widow's and the orphan's God in whom she had long trusted, and He did not fail her now. She besought Him to give her strength, and herself and children protection and support in their day of surpassing trouble. She felt that her trust was founded on the Rock
23and resolved to remain steadfast in her faith, and do the best she could for her children.
Soon she received invitations from her brothers residing in Vermont to return to them with her children, but the noble and heroic woman answered them no, saying that should she go back she and her little ones would be dependent upon their relatives, while if she raised them up in this new country they need not be dependent upon anybody, having the whole wide unsettled West to make a living in. She buried her dead on the sunny side of the hill not far away from the cabin he had so shortly before erected to shelter his family, and smothering her grief as best she could, assumed the pressing duties incumbent on her as guardian of her fatherless children and sole manager of all their interests, and well did she perform her part. This death was the first that occurred in the colony of settlers that migrated with our family from Vermont.
My father was a member of the Society of Friends. He was a good father, moral and discreet, a faithful observer of the Sabbath, true to his belief, amiable in his family, a good provider for them, and true to the fulfillment of his duties as a neighbor and a citizen. Industrious, economical, with no
24bad habits or associations, he was a model to be patterned after, and his loss could not be supplied.
As the fall season of 1821 approached, sickness incident to the new country attacked all, both great and small. The " fever'n ager" was in every house. Not one in the settlement, I think, escaped. Some had it every day, others each alternate day. Many had the real "shakes" and when the fit was fully on shook so violently that they could not hold a glass of water with which to check the consuming thirst that constantly beset them while the rigor lasted, nearly freezing the victim. Then came the fever, the blood seemingly at boiling heat and the flesh roasting. Others had but chills, with scorching fever after. At our house all had the disease. Not everyone was stricken at the same date, but within a few days impartiality as to subjects was fully manifested. Each one was "shaking" or "chilling" at about the same time, with fever accompaniment thereafter, lasting many tedious and suffering hours.
As for myself, the attack did not strike me until several days after the rest of the family were overtaken. I remember feeling that I had been rather slighted, and I was curious to know how a body felt when the fit was on. I did not have long to wait, however. Soon a
25day came when the cold chills began to ramble in a very peculiar manner up and down my backbone with frequent divergence to the right and left, tickling to laughter at their funny freaks, interluded with gapes and stretches on my part, and a great desire for water cold and fresh from the spring to quench the constant thirst. The experience I underwent, amusing at first, soon became monotonous to a degree and I, like the others, prostrated myself upon a bed, submissive to the malign action of the fiend. He did not hold me so long in his embrace as most others were held, nor did he shake me up so much, but I got enough to keep hilarity down ever after, in presence of his power.
For two or more months the dire disease held sway amongst the Yankees, all were in for it, most with every-day ague. A few favored ones had the fit only each alternate day, and on their "well days" these took turns perambulating the neighborhood, about 4 miles in length, visiting each house to ascertain and report the condition of the sick. This friendly action was kept up as long as the sickness lasted, the result being that each family was called upon each day by someone of the colony well enough to make the visit. There were no doctors to prescribe and give medicine, and nobody died. When cool
26weather came the endemic disappeared, and never again troubled the settlement to any great extent.
A peculiarity of fever and ague is, that after the complaint has run its course, and convalescence has, or is about to set in, frequently before the shakes or chills are fully gone, a most voracious appetite besets the invalid, and he desires to eat and then to eat again.
It was over sixty miles from our place to a mill where bread stuff could be obtained. Wagons had been sent there early in the season and a supply procured sufficient, as supposed, to last until summer was over. Sickness, however, came upon us, and prevented the renewal of the supply as soon as needed, and the staff of life or the wherewith to make it was conspicuously absent, about the time ravenous hunger struck in. Most fortunately for the settlers good crops of corn were growing, and were advanced far enough to grate into meal for bread and mush. Somebody thought of making graters by punching holes through a piece of tin and nailing it on a board, with the rough side out, and rounded so as to let the meal pass down inside when the ear of corn was rubbed against the sharp points, by doing which persistently and with patience, a supply
27could be had. This was hard and tiresome work for the well, but for the ague victim, after a month or two's siege of the complaint, weakened and almost prostrate and as no-account and miserable as anybody ever can become, unless he has the "ager"—words fail to paint the laborious proceeding. Yet it had to be done or starve.
My mother's household consisted of herself and four children and a hired man, strong and a good worker when well, and with all of us who were able to do anything taking our turns with the grater and doing seemingly our best, getting hungrier and hungrier as we worked, we could not grate as much meal day by day as would make as much pone and mush as we all wanted to eat. Nothing in my remembrance before or since has tasted so good as the bread and the mush thus acquired, nor do I forget the bootless hankering for more. This state of affairs providentially did not prevail very long. As soon as some of the men folks recovered sufficiently, wagons were sent to the Milltown mill and supplies were secured, and ever afterward provisions in abundance were the rule in that Yankee settlement, and no one needed to go supperless or hungry to bed.
When the winter of 1821-22 came, my brother Reuben's wife, who with her sister
28Eliza Dewey had joined him from Vermont, taught a school of 20 or more children in a small rough log hut not far from our house. The hut was low built, the walls not more than six feet high with clapboard roof, only a door opening—no window—light entering the room through a space made by cutting out a part of one of the side logs and placing therein panes of 8x10 glass side by side and just above the split-out puncheon, which was fastened at a convenient inclination inside the wall for writing on. The bench on which the children sat to write was high enough from the floor for grown persons to rest their feet on the floor, but the greater number of the pupils when sitting on the bench could not touch the floor with a foot by 4 to 12 or more inches. This arrangement was beneficial to the children in some respects as it tended to prevent their growing up bow-legged, or knock-kneed—their lower extremities swinging so much upon a straight stretch; and to the school, as it prevented the shuffling of the feet upon the sounding floor. The other benches in the room were on the same principle.
The schoolroom had one other source of great comfort on a wintry day, a huge fireplace in one end that would take in logs for back and front 4 feet in length supplied
29abundant warmth. The subject of this memoir was in attendance at the school, and doubtless felt a little up as he could read and spell some, and was taking lessons in writing. The teacher was only brother Reuben's wife and not to be obeyed if unpleasant duties were required, as he thought. A day came when the little fellow took a notion that he should not comply with an order of the teacher; therefore, without permission he took his hat and left for home. His good mother in the distance saw him coming and when he reached the place where she awaited, demanded the reason why he came. He informed her—her keen eyes flashed as she said, "Daniel, do you return at once. Ask the teacher's pardon, resume your studies. Hereafter obey her directions, or I will see about it." The boy went back subdued, and never again gave trouble in that direction.
I relate this incident because of its great value, as I now view it, showing the just action of a wise and good mother in not permitting the reprehensive act of her boy against his teacher to pass unrebuked by her, compelling his immediate return with plea for pardon, inflicted punishment, humiliating but profitable to the child, and only fair to the teacher, as sustaining her authority.
This school lasted but that winter. The next was taught by Myron Brownson, in the winter of 1822-23, in the same house. He made for me a copy of the multiplication table, writing my name thereon. I have it still. The learning of it by heart was my earliest exercise in mathematics. Ever since it has served me well.
The following year, I think it was, our people erected a frame school house near the center of the settlement, at a point about half a mile north of our home. It was one story in height, large enough on the ground to accommodate the children of the neighborhood for school purposes, and the grown folks as a meeting house for preaching, etc. In this house schools were taught every winter and sometimes during the summer, and Sabbath schools on Sundays as long as our family remained in that vicinity.
Farming being the common business of the settlers, children could only be spared during winter to attend school. In other seasons of the year their services were required on the farm. My time was thus put in up to 1829, spring, summer and fall doing what I could to help the farm work on by cutting the old corn stalks off the field, raking them up to burn, thus clearing the ground for the plow, assisting in the plowing, dropping the corn
31in the hills to be covered by hoe or plow for the yearly crop, thinning out superfluous stalks when too many appeared in the hill, cutting out weeds between hills after the plowing, and sometimes hoeing the earth around the corn. This, however, was seldom needed—the sandy soil worked up very loose and the plow could be made to do the hilling.
Then came the wheat harvest. The hand sickle alone was used for cutting, no cradle being known even then in that region. Cold water from the spring had often to be carried to the harvesters. This devolved upon the boys. The bundles of wheat were placed for shocking, not infrequently a hand at sickling was tried by uncanny youth with mishaps dire to exposed hand (personal experience of the writer so proved).
32roots of the corn stalks to cover the grains not hidden by the plow. Later the corn was gathered and cribbed.
Shucked on the stalk in the field, the process was tedious. Fifty bushels was considered a good day's work for a man, but John Spencer, one of the young men who drove a team for my father from Vermont, could double the fifty bushels in a day. My performance in such work in bushels per day I cannot chronicle. To keep the down row behind the wagon clean-picked occupied all my time and fully satisfied my ambition.
33and in abundance close at hand, and when well-cured and preserved in stacks was valuable for winter food for stock.
Such duties as have been mentioned were relieved by many days of joy—angling and swimming in rock-bound pools frequent in near-by streams, hunting for game in adjacent woods, gathering wild grapes about the hilltops and nuts of many sorts, especially hazel, hickory, black and white walnuts, pecans, all found in plenty close around; spearing with fork or gig, or in shallow water seizing with the hands buffalo and other fish on the lower edge of the prairie, when overflown by the spring rise of the Illinois River the fish came out in schools to rusticate and feed.
Sometimes we ascended the highest points of the Bluffs, clear of aught but grass, and opened old burial places on the loftiest tops,
34made by excavating the earth to a depth of two or three feet, as it appeared to us, then putting flat stones at bottom, sides and ends and after depositing the bodies covering them with similar stones. Usually the top stones were bare of earth or nearly so. Within, some bones and teeth were found, the teeth well preserved, the bones far gone in decay.
In the fall season when the corn was in roasting ear, raccoons were numerous and destructive to the maturing crop. Then the hunting of the coon at night in his prowling visit to the field afforded excitement and delight. With a well-trained dog, often half a dozen of the thieving pests were caught and slain, not without hard fighting, as the coon is great at that, and not Infrequently would get the better of the dog, especially if the hunters were too far away to aid the weaker party. The favored time to hunt was from midnight unto dawn; as darkness disappeared so did the coon retire to his secret lair nearby, while tired boys and dogs went home to rest and make ready for another hunt.
Such experiences and scenes caused time to fly on rapid wing and the seasons up to winter passed with never-ceasing pleasure, always busy at work or play with no cares to give me trouble, a good home with a kind
35and loving mother, sister, and brothers, all good and agreeable. No boy I think ever had a happier time than I in early youth. My mother was religious, the Holy Bible was revered, the keeping of the Sabbath day was scrupulously observed. Honesty, morality, and correct behavior were strictly enjoined and enforced. The example set was above criticism and always the same, while cheerfulness prevailed and innocent amusements were ever allowed and encouraged, except when Sunday came. Then boisterous and unseemly mirth was properly restrained. All the people of our New England settlement seemed to act on the same commendable principles in such matters, without regard to Puntanistic example, but because they believed them to be right. Consequently profanity, Sabbath-breaking, drunkenness and other reprehensible conduct were scarcely ever heard of in our neighborhood, and the examples set before the children were good. The boys did not early learn to swear or chew tobacco, or smoke the vile weed, or use intoxicating drinks. The girls were modest and virtuous and ever exemplary in their conduct, patterning after their most worthy and well behaved mothers.
When winter came school opened and real pleasures began. The half-mile travel to the
36house in rain or snow or when the days were fair, was joyful—returning home after school was out was glorious. The lessons taught—viz. reading in the English reader, writing from copy set by the master or mistress, spelling out of Noah Webster's spelling book, arithmetic from Pike's book, and grammar as laid down by Murray were exhilarating, especially the spelling of long hard words in a numerous class of boys and girls, each ambitious to excel and striving to spell the word given out by the teacher correctly but sometimes failing were turned down towards the foot by a more careful and studious classmate. Reaching the head was an achievement very gratifying; being turned down therefrom was a grief to be avoided.
In such exercises I attained a fair average and sometimes reached success. But the great events of the school were the occasional spelling matches when two leaders were selected to choose sides from the spellers. The one to make first choice being determined by lot, named the scholar he or she desired. Then the other leader chose one and the process was continued until all the spellers were taken. Two rows were formed on opposite sides of the room and the words to be spelled were given out by the teacher to the leaders and the members chosen by them
37alternately, and such as missed spelling a word correctly gave place until no one was left except him or her who had not missed a word.
When only one on each side was left the excitement became intense—sometimes nearly verging into anger. The writer well remembers a day when Minerva Holden, a young girl of about his own age, say 12 to 14 years, and himself were leaders in a match. The spelling went on until only they were left and then continued for some time, each spelling every word correctly. At length she made a mistake and he spelled the word. He should have missed it so that their honors might be even, but mistaken youth, his pride of victory overcame his sense of gallantry and he exulted. Poor girl, I see her now, almost in tears at her defeat. She was the foremost speller of the school and deserved success.
Out of school hours we played the games of boyhood then known to us. The game of ball called bull pen, town ball, prisoner's base, foot racing, high jumping, far jumping, hop, step and jump were worked for all there was in them; and with frequent bouts at wrestling the square hold, the side hold, the breeches hold, Indian hug and catch as catch can, our joints and muscles were kept
38limber and our brains and livers from becoming torpid.
During the first years of the settlement Indians were seen passing towards the farther West, always, however, in small bodies, and never troublesome. Their appearance, enveloped in their gaudy blankets, porcupine-quill embroidered leggings of dressed buckskin with moccasins to match, long unkempt hair, and tomahawk in belt, caused alarm, especially to lone women and children when the men folks were away. Almost any one unaccustomed to the sight would be perfectly willing, if alone and unprotected, to decline an interview and let the Red Man pass on.
A family of them at one time camped for the night at the brook near our house. They were very friendly, built a fire, formed a tripod of forked sticks, hung thereon an iron pot, cooked their supper, ate and slept, and next morning bright and early were away. The children of our house visited the camp and were pleasantly received and noticed seemingly with satisfaction by the group.
Wild animals were numerous in the early years, and bold to a fault. Many a time in evening's early or later hours the terrifying and wild unearthly scream of the panther
39and the shrill howling of wolves were heard from the hills not far away causing terror and shivers of fright to the young and not entirely without similar effects upon their elders. Inside the cabin with the door shut and the string of the latch pulled in was considered about as good a place as any at such times. The pigs and the poultry suffered, however, and it was thought furnished many a meal to the unwelcome prowlers.
Black bears were often seen and sometimes captured. One was discovered rambling round on the open prairie one day by one of the neighbors who was on horseback several miles from his home. He had no gun or other hostile weapon, but concluded he would try driving his find to his home where a rifle could be had with which Bruin might be made to furnish bear steak and bear roast to the hungry settler. He succeeded, and after some time spent in preventing the beast from running off the other way, reached a point near a house where the game, tired and willing to halt, was left while the man procured his gun and returning dispatched the animal at his leisure.
40Deer were very numerous. I have seen hundreds of them in the lower edge of the prairie next to the Illinois bottom timber in early spring feeding together on the tender grass growing there in the moist rich soil in advance of that on higher ground. They seemed almost fearless of man and fed regardless of his presence. The innocent and apparently unsuspecting creatures had not then been hunted to the death with gun and dog, as soon they were to be, when their realm should be invaded by the race of men claiming to be civilized, but hungry for venison and covetous of pelts that would bring them money.
The woods were full of wild turkeys. Twenty-pound gobblers and 15-pound hens often rewarded the hunters who visited the roosting places at early dawn prepared to bring them down, or later called up a nock by imitating the sound of wooing or of friendship made by the bird.
The prairies teemed with the luscious prairie hen and quail. Hundreds did we catch in box traps with figure-four springs set in the hazel thickets or near the wheat stacks in winter, where the fowls came for feed when the fields were shrouded in snow. The lakes abounded in water fowl; the swan, the goose, the mallard, and many other kinds of ducks
41thronged the open water by thousands in springtime and were slain by hundreds in the hunting season.
When I was about twelve years old, with mother's permission I engaged with a man named Crossin, who owned some land near my home, to drive team for him to break prairie. The team consisted of three yokes of oxen attached to a large plow for turning over the sod. I was to have twenty-five cents per day and board at home. I worked twelve days and received three dollars therefor in silver, quite a pile as it appeared to me, being my first cash earnings. The question arose as to what should be done with it. Mother suggested that new clothes would come in handy for the winter and to wear to school, so it was decided to invest in that line and when a neighbor made a trip to St. Louis for supplies the money was sent by him to purchase cloth for the suit. He did so, and brought back good strong grey Cassinet, out of which mother made me the garments, that served me well and were the pride of my heart. No hundred-dollar suit has since yielded me half the pleasure. Afterwards I worked out occasionally, as I could be spared from home labors and persons desired my service. I find in an old pocketbook that was my father's on a leaf
42left for memoranda the following entries as I made them at the time.
|BLUFFDALE MAY 28TH, 1828|
|John Boyer Dr. to D. H. Brush|
|To 3 days work 25||.75|
|Oxen 1 day||.25|
|Drawing posts ditto||.25|
|Going to mill.||.25|
|Work 1Ë days.||.37Ë|
|Samuel Gates Dr.|
|To 3Ë days work 25||.87Ë|
|Runy Campbell Dr.|
|To a days planting corn 25.||.50|
|1Ë ditto planting potatoes||.37Ë|
I insert the above in this journal to show my early mode of making a living and getting a start when a boy.
The Bluffdale Sunday school was started by John Russell, an educated man, who married Laura Spencer, a daughter of Gideon Spencer, all from Vermont. Mr. Russell was superintendent of the school and at his instigation the scholars learned by heart
43verses of the New Testament and recited them to him in the school. He gave each scholar a ticket stating the number of verses recited. I have kept some I received of which the following are copies.
Daniel Brush has recited 383 verses in the month ending June 8th, 1828.
J. Russell, Sup't.
Daniel Brush has recited 392 verses in the month ending July sixth 1828.
J. Russell, Sup't.
Mr. Russell was a very kind hearted and excellent man, a great student and a writer of force. Seemingly diffident of his own powers he was retiring in his habits, yet genial and instructive to those he knew, and especially to the young. A great lover of learning, he would sometimes invite me to his library, then take down a favorite author and read to me passages he admired. He thus formed in me a relish for Shakespeare and other great writers which I have ever retained, but which a too busy life has prevented me from cultivating as I could have wished.
In the spring of 1826 or 1827 the first steamboat ascended the Illinois River and
44stopped a few days at Bluffdale Landing, which was about three miles west from our house. The boat was a marvel in the country round about and had many visitors. Children especially went to see the wonder. Its appearance is impressed upon my mind—unfavorably however, in contrast with the elegant and expensive passenger carriers that swarmed the waters of a later day.
About these times nut gathering in the Illinois bottom was pursued to a considerable extent in the proper season, not only for the winter fireside crackings thus secured, but to furnish a modicum of money occasionally for other pressing needs.
Pecans and hickory nuts abounded in the river woods. The trees were large in trunk, and of great height. Men would cut them down with axes and then assisted by the children gather the nuts, each retaining all he could pick up. Bushels were taken. I remember one time when I had on hand a half bushel or so of fine pecans, and needed school book's. I mounted our good old horse the "Kurnel," a kind and hardy bay my father had driven from Vermont, strongly built and sure of foot, lively and quick in action as a colt, but docile as a kitten, and would never kick or tread upon a child, and having my treasured wealth in a sack across the horse's
45back under me, I proceeded to Carrollton, the county seat of Greene County, for the purpose of bartering my stores for a portion of the stores of somebody else, then needed by me. I made the trip safely but found the goods I had accumulated a drug in the market. I went from store to store and shop to shop, but nobody wanted pecans. At last however, when I had nearly reached the point of despair, I happened to meet a kind-hearted shoemaker who took my nuts and procured for me in payment a Webster's Spelling Book and an old time arithmetic, with which I mounted "Kurnel" and returned home proud and happy. I regret that I have forgotten the good shoemaker's name, as I would like here to record it, because of the good turn he did me in my youth.
An Englishman named Peter Hobson, who emigrated from England, took up land on a small stream some five miles northwest from Carrollton, where he erected a water mill, the first one, I think, built in Greene County. Before that only horse mills were in use, at which customers attended with their corn and wheat and operated in turn, the small boys' business being to whip up the horses attached to the long sweeps that put in motion the upright shaft and gearing, that
46twirled the stones, that made the meal we got. Precious little for the time it took, as I thought. It seemed to me when I was driving and longing for the hopper to become empty, so I could quit, that it took about two rounds of the horse to crack one grain of the corn. When wheat was ground it might not have taken more than one round to mash a grain, but then came the bolting to get a portion of the largest scales of bran out. How tedious and tiresome the performance! The bolt, of hard-twisted, coarse muslin wrapped around a frame of wood to form a cylinder into which the ground wheat was fed little by little at a time, was hung at an incline in a box tight enough in its cracks (o save the flour as well as the bran. A crank with a handle fastened to the elevated end of the bolting cylinder was turned by hand.
To keep the thing going, as I recollect, was pretty hard work for a little fellow, who was mighty glad when his grist was bolted and in a sack, and he astride of it on old "Kurnel" going home. All-night trips, when we went to the horse mills to get grain ground, were not infrequent. If a throng happened to be present one had to wait his turn, and be on hand when it was announced or lose his place. The machine was kept going day and night, if necessary, to accommodate
47customers, who while waiting could amuse themselves as best they knew how, and if hungry roast corn in the embers of an outdoor fire and eat to their hearts' content. An eight or ten mile ride on a cold wintry day, with a turn of corn in a bag on a horse's back, to the grinding place, and getting home with the meal late in the evening, half frozen and hungry, was not considered entirely child's play; but if a good mother had for her boy a cozy nook by a huge log fire and a warm supper of nice things, with perhaps a roasted prairie chicken or tender quail, hot and luscious, to satisfy the appetite on his return, the discomforts of the day would not long be remembered and next morning's beam of light found him ready and willing to repeat the duties of the preceding day.
Being the eldest, such duties devolved on me. My recollection is that I obeyed the requirement of my mother cheerfully and always, as well as I knew how, never was more than a look and a word needed from her to make me do my best. She was ever kind and lenient to her children, but was firm in any position she took, and her wishes when expressed had to be observed. Consequently peace and good order in the family resulted from her wise management. Her will was supreme. We rendered willing obedience,
48not through fear, but because of our love for her, and the knowledge and belief that she only wanted us to do right. Glad am I now to remember that she was never anything but right herself.
Early in the year 1823 the First Presbyterian Church of Greene County was formed by Reverends Oren Catlin and Daniel G. Sprague, in Carrollton. My mother was a member, she having been a Presbyterian in Vermont. Meetings were sometimes held at our house. I well remember on such an occasion, the above named ministers being present, mother had her four children, Mary, myself, James, and Rowland, baptized in accordance with the usage of the church, one of the preachers, the Rev. O. Catlin, I believe, administering the ordinance.
In the early fall of 1828 my mother married Stephen Gorham, a farmer of Morgan County, III. His farm was six miles west of Jacksonville. He was quite well off, had seven children, three of them being grown and doing for themselves, and the others still at their home with their father. After the marriage, father Gorham came to reside at our home, and brought his daughter Sarah to live there also. This arrangement was only temporary, however, as when winter came and the crops at our place were gathered and my
49mother's property, such as they did not care to remove to his farm, was disposed of, he took her with brothers James and Rowland to his home. The good old horse "Kurnel" went also, and for several years thereafter performed duty to the best of his ability.
On Nov. 26, 1828, sister Mary was married to Alexander M. Jenkins. He was from Brownsville, Jackson County, Ill., and at that time was clerk of the Circuit Court of Calhoun County, the county seat of which was west of the Illinois River, not very far from our Bluffdale home.
When mother with brothers James and Rowland removed with father Gorham to his farm in Morgan County, sister Mary and myself were left at the old homestead to await the arrival of Mr. Jenkins, who had left soon after his marriage with the understanding that he would make an early return for his wife. For some reason, not now remembered by me, he did not come as soon as expected, and wild winter settled over sister and me alone in the old log cabin near the spring where we had passed many pleasant seasons of the years gone by with our dear mother and little brothers.
It need not be wondered at that the darkening of the clouds and deepening snows produced lonesomeness to us. One day during
50this time a blinding snow was falling and the wood pile was exhausted, and some must be procured. I therefore yoked up my oxen that I had trained from calves to work, and with them, and axe on shoulder went to the woods to cut a tree and haul it in for fuel. After looking around for a time I discovered on a side hill a nice ash a foot or more in diameter, easy to chop and splendid to burn. It suited my notion exactly, so I fell to with a will to down it. After chopping some time, first on one side, then on the other, it began to crack at the stump and then to sway and I knew it was falling. I stepped to one side contrary to the way I thought it was going, not immediately looking towards its top, the air being dark with blinding snow. In an instant, however, hearing a crackling rush overhead, I cast a look in that direction and behold the tumbling tree was close down upon me. A spirited jump of ten feet or less (I was a good Jumper) saved my bacon, and I have survived to tell the story now. I cut the trunk into hauling lengths and snaked them to our cabin, where a good old-fashioned fireplace took wood four or five feet long and insured warmth and comfort.
The winter setting in very severe, and the snow becoming deep, mother was anxious about her two children left at the Bluffs and
51arrangements were made for us to go to her new home in Morgan County. Father Gorham furnished transportation and to his place we were taken and there remained until the ensuing spring. I worked with his boys on the farm at rail splitting, repairing fence, getting up wood, etc., until about May of the next year when Mr. Jenkins being ready to take his wife to his home, then at Brownsville in Jackson County, Illinois, offered me a situation with them. Mother consenting, I accepted, and the journey towards my future home (as it turned out to be) was soon entered upon. Father Gorham went with his team and wagon to our old home place in Bluffdale and I traveled so far with him. Parting with my dear mother, to whom I owed so much, was a serious matter, but as my home was to be with sister Mary it did not seem so severe as it would if I had been going out among entire strangers.
After father Gorham and myself were well on our way from his home towards the Bluffs he took a quarter of a dollar from his pocket and handed it to me saying, "Now I don't want you to be running back and forth." Afterwards when his remarks in that regard came to my mind I was ungenerous enough to feel that he intended to have me understand that he did not want me any
52more at his place, but later I concluded that his object in speaking to me as he did was solely for my benefit. His idea, and truly a correct one, was to impress upon my mind the necessity of having a permanent home, and not to be unstable and objectless in living-awhile at one place and then going to another.
The old gentleman was not cultured in his speech, but I think he was well-meaning and good-hearted. He always treated me well afterwards when I visited my mother at his house, which I did once a year as long as she lived, and as he was ever kind and genial to her and her children I respected him while living and honor his memory since he died. He never made me any further donation, nor did I ask any.
When we reached Bluffdale, Mr. Jenkins and sister Mary were there about ready to start for Brownsville. He had engaged our old neighbor, Isaac Hawley, to move Mary's household goods to her future home. He used a two-horse wagon and I went along as passenger, Jenkins and Mary making the trip on horseback. They journeyed on ahead. The team followed after. This was in June, 1829. We traveled by way of St. Louis towards the south and reached our destination in due time without remarkable incident. I was then 16 years old.
My first stopping place in Brownsville was at Joel Manning's. He had married a sister of Mr. Jenkins some years before and they had several children and a good home to live in. Mr. Manning was clerk of the Circuit and County Commissioners' Courts, also Judge of Probate and Recorder and Justice of the Peace. He was a noble man and his wife was a noble woman. They became my firm and lasting friends. The first tomatoes I ever saw were on their table. It was a good while before I could tolerate them as eatable. Mr. Jenkins was a partner with a man by the name of Samuel Reed in a retail store, where they aimed to keep everything citizens of the town or country might want, including whiskey, which they sold only by the quart, at one "bit," 12Ë cents per quart. Old Spanish and Mexican silver money was then about all that circulated. It was in dollars, half dollars, quarters, eighths, 12Ë cents called bits, and sixteenths, 6Åº cents called picayunes. The paper money was the old United States Bank Notes, with some bank notes from other states, solvent and otherwise, principally "otherwise." Their store building was brick, erected to accommodate a branch of the old State Bank of Illinois, which had run its race and "busted" for good, and its Brownsville banking office
54had been fitted up with shelves for a store.
Mr. Jenkins was manager of the store and I was given a position as store boy. Being small of stature and the counter high, my head and neck was all that appeared above to one outside. I tried to make myself useful and soon learned to do many things to help along. Sleeping in a back room, it was my business to rise early, open up and sweep out, and arrange the goods on the shelves before breakfast, so as to be ready for customers. I then helped to serve them by weighing coffee, sugar, spices, indigo and madder, etc. as called for, also by measuring the molasses and whiskey they wanted, and by mounting a stool or box placed behind the counter I was able to reach the drygoods, and measure off calico and domestic (as unbleached stout cotton goods were designated) and bed ticking, etc. Goods were sold at high prices compared with later times. Coffee 25 to 33 1/3 cents per pound, sugar 3 to 5 pounds for a dollar, indigo 25 cents per ounce, calico 25 to 50 cents per yard, brown domestic 25 to 30 cents, and bed tick, 37Ë to 50 cents. Cotton yarn for warp was a main article of trade, as almost every family, especially the farmers, made Jeans for men's wear, and striped and checked homespun for
55women's dresses, all cotton, while linsey-woolsey, half cotton and half wool spun and wove at home, was very much made and worn.
Goods were necessarily sold at high rates in those days. To procure supplies one had to make a trip to Louisville, Cincinnati, or farther east, or down the river to New Orleans. There were no railroads and no avenues of transportation open, except the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. After purchasing the goods they were shipped on steamboats plying on the rivers, at high freight rates to Grand Tower Landing on the west line or Jackson County, then known as Jenkins Landing because of the name of the owner of the land there, who kept a wood yard for the accommodation of steamboats. After being landed, the goods had to be hauled through the Mississippi bottom and over the bluffs some twenty miles or more to Brownsville by ox teams and heavy wagons, the expense being large.
After all such loss of time and expenditure of money the goods were retailed, mostly at long credit, and payment taken in such articles as purchasers could raise on their farms, or acquire by hunting or trapping, and the merchant could dispose of by sending them away to places where a market
56might be found. Peltry consisting of deer, coon and other skins, beef hides, venison hams dried, and leathers in the proper season were current in trade and almost legal tender in payment of debts. Merchants took such articles at about the prices expected for them in the markets and usually came out of the barter with little loss.
The quantity of such peltry that came in was wonderful to me. Thousands of pounds of deer skins, shaved and long-haired, would be delivered in a season with dried venison hams in proportion, coon and muskrat skins in hundreds, with an occasional panther, bear, or wolf skin, while beef hides were numerous and feathers abundant. Some men who followed hunting would kill one hundred to five hundred deer per year. Most men, however, were not so successful, but anyone who kept a rifle could have venison to eat when he wanted it. The woods were full of game and it required but small exertion to procure all that could be used to eat or sell. Wild turkeys roamed at will, the trees in the forest yielded honey galore, and plenty of good living was the rule.
The trade prices of some of the above articles was for dried deer skins, shaved 20 cents per pound, red, 15 cents, blue 12Ë cents and the long-haired grey, 10 cents,
57dried hams 37Ë to 50 cents per pair according to size, coon skins 15 to 50 cents each, muskrats 10 cents, beer hides 10 cents per pound, feathers, new, 25 cents per pound, turkeys 25 cents each, honey 10 cents per pound.
One thing about storekeeping was very distasteful to me and that was the liquor-selling part of it. The intoxicating sorts, unless a license to keep a dram shop was procured from the County Commissioners' Court, could be sold only by the quart and upwards. No tippling shop was licensed in Brownsville when I first went there. Consequently if a man wished to drink the ardent and treat his associates he purchased a quart, took some himself and passed it round time and again until it was all gone. Then another of the company must treat and the same way of disposing of it was pursued, and so on, until each one had "stood his own quart stoup," and first a merry, then a rollicking, and lastly a drunken set was the result.
Frequently several of the imbibers became helpless and had to be taken care of until they sobered up. It would not do to turn them out doors, so I often watched over them in the store at night. They were generally good, honest, well-to-do farmers from the country who worked hard when at home,
58but liked a dram when in town and didn't seem to know when to quit. Saturday was the time such characters usually selected to meet in town to have a good time and get drunk together at a "bit's" expense to each. Sometimes a quarrel would spring up or an old grudge be rasped open, to settle which a fist light must be had. The belligerents, stripped to the skin above the waist, would enter a ring formed by comrades to insure fair play, and fight it out. No weapons were used except such as nature had furnished. If and when one of the combatants got enough he so announced and the other fellow quit and the fight was over.
Often one fight going on would put others in the notion seemingly and a half dozen or more might occur the same day, generally ending without anything more serious than bunged-up eyes, swollen noses, and badly battered cheeks, but it was brutish and sad to see. My mind soon became impressed with the fact that whiskey caused the degrading exhibits and I resolved that if I ever could do business on my own account whiskey selling should not be a part of it. Glad am now that I have lived up to this resolution.
Sometimes the hilarity of the day would induce a foot race, a wrestling match, or a horse race. If the latter, two saddle nags or
59plow ponies were selected from those hitched around, that had been ridden to town by their owners, and the race was made up, betting being lively in small amounts, generally a treat for the crowd or an article of small value, seldom money as it was a very scarce commodity in those times. The ground was measured, the riders mounted bareback, judges were stationed, and when a fair start was secured the word "go" was pronounced, and "go" they went under whip and spur, at the time, probably, of 6 to 8 minutes per mile, the winner rejoicing the hearts of his backers, while the losers had little to say, but helped to dispose of the stake all the same, if it happened to be good liquor that was put up. The ground run over was not always in favorable condition and by reason thereof sad accidents sometimes resulted.
Brownsville when I first knew it had but few inhabitants, not more than 150, I think. It had some years before been the best and most nourishing town in Illinois south of Kaskaskia, and quite a number of good frame houses and a large hotel had been erected. Settlers from Pennsylvania had located there and named the town after their home town. A salt well had been bored and water strong enough to make salt had been obtained, but the country adjacent being a
60good deal broken up by the Mississippi and Muddy River bluffs and other uplands, and very heavily timbered, it did not nil up with settlers rapidly and there was not business sufficient to establish and build up even one town. Brownsville, therefore, did not increase after its first settlement, but as the northern part or the state became known and opened up many left the old place for regions or greater-promise. But the one store owned by Reed and Jenkins was in operation at Brownsville in 1829 and it was on a limited scale, the stock in trade not exceeding $2000, and yet it supplied the demands not only of Jackson County but of considerable portions or adjoining counties as well. No other place where goods were sold then existed in the county.
Conrad Will was an early and prominent settler in Brownsville. He was a Pennsylvania Dutchman, singular in his ways, but kind-hearted to a fault. He was tavern keeper, doctor, salt maker, fox hunter, legislator, and everybody's friend. He was not learned in books, but was gifted with good common sense, and had picked up considerable knowledge in regard to medicines and their uses in treating the diseases prevalent in the country. His services as a doctor were much sought after, and his success was remarkable.
61He was excessively careless in collecting his pay and equally so in liquidating his own debts. He represented the county in the legislature at various times and in usefulness there was well up with others. He took quite a fancy to me, and wished me to read his doctor books and become a physician. Several years later he had a long siege of most painful disease, that resulted in his death. Many a tedious night I spent at his bedside, trying to help him, and when the final struggle came, was there.
Richard J. Hamilton with a wife and several children lived there. He was a lawyer from Kentucky, I believe. He sometime afterwards was appointed Circuit Court Clerk of Cook County and removed with his family to Chicago early in the thirties and became rich.
Mr. Jenkins had a brother-in-law named John Logan, who owned a large farm about 4 miles east of Brownsville. He had married Elizabeth Jenkins some four years previous. They had, when I first knew them, two children, John Alexander, and Thomas M. John was a pert little fellow of three years, black-eyed, blackhaired, and dark skinned, straight-built and Indian-like, as his father was before
62him. The Logan homestead became a very pleasant place for me to visit especially in apple and peach time, as In the proper seasons such fruits were abundant. The old gentleman was a great lover of horseflesh and usually had some good stock. He had race tracks on his land and frequently had his horses tried on them. John early in his life became an expert rider and was ever ready to ride a race. I have witnessed races at the Logan tracks many times when John, as a boy, was a rider of one of the horses, and never saw him excelled.
In the early winter of 1829 I returned to Morgan County where my mother lived. I remained with mother until the spring of 1830, when Mr. Tuthill and family, their eldest child Harmon having been born in Morgan County, removed to our farm in Bluffdale, Greene County, and cultivated the ground that season. I went with them and helped him till the land, and he assisted me in some
63studies I was pursuing. In the fall of 1830 Mr. Tuthill removed his family to Brownsville and was there employed by Mr. Jenkins in his store. I was there also, having made the trip down from the Bluffdale Landing on the Illinois River on a flat boat loaded with produce to St. Louis, and thence down the Mississippi to the Devil's Oven Landing, being then the nearest point to Brownsville at which boats landed.
That winter I passed in studying mathematics and other branches to some extent. Mr. Manning heard me recite in algebra and Mr. Tuthill helped me out in other things I was trying to learn. They were both, however, quite closely engaged in their own business affairs, and in the care of their families, and had not much spare time to bestow upon me. Still they were always willing and did really assist me greatly. About this time sale was made of our Bluffdale farm. My share, amounting to one hundred dollars, was in the hands of Mr. Jenkins, and it was decided that the best plan for its use would be to send me somewhere to school. That suited my notion and Rock Spring Seminary, started some years before by Rev. John M. Peck, a Baptist minister, on his farm in St. Clair County, four miles west of Lebanon, being the only educational institution
64of a grade higher than a common school anywhere in reach, it was determined that I should attend it, and on the 28th of February, 1831 I was admitted as a student. Mr. Peck was the main teacher, and there were two or three under-teachers. There were but few students, girls and boys, not more I think than twenty in all. Some were from St. Louis, some from Vandalia and other points in Illinois, and some from the adjacent neighborhood, but the patronage was evidently too limited to pay expenses. I remained there ten weeks and then was retired bearing a certificate in the following words:
This certifies that the bearer Daniel H. Brush has been a student of the Seminary for ten weeks and by his perfectly exemplary conduct and attention to study deserves the confidence and respect of all his friends. J. M. Peck, Principal
Thus was my academic education closed. The little knowledge I gathered afterwards was fragmentary and irregular, with small outside assistance or direction.
I returned to Brownsville from Rock Spring Seminary and remained there during the summer and fall pursuing my studies as best I could without a regular teacher, Mr. Tuthill and Mr. Manning giving me attention as
65their business permitted. Mr. Manning heard me recite in algebra and geometry and Mr. Tuthill directed my mind towards the histories of ancient times, and the lives of the heroes in the early wars of Greece and Rome. He had a few choice books that gave me great pleasure, amongst them the Spectator in several volumes, in which were the writings of learned men of Johnson's literary period in England, that to me were very interesting and instructive.
Mr. Tuthill was employed in keeping store for Mr. Jenkins, who was a member of the Legislature in the session of 1831-32. He went to Vandalia early in December to attend it, leaving his wife and myself with Mr. Tuthill's family in Brownsville. About the last of that month a Captain Hall, brother to one James Hall, editor of a paper, I think, in Cincinnati,
66in the ice at Grand Tower or Fountain Bluff on the Mississippi River, reached Brownsville on his way north. He desired conveyance to Vandalia and Mr. Tuthill, having a pair of horses and vehicle not in use, it was concluded that I should have the team and wagon to go north with sister Mary to call at Vandalia and thence proceed to see our mother in Morgan County, and that we should take the Captain with us as a passenger to Vandalia.
Consequently we fixed up for the trip and started, the weather being pleasant. After a day or two, however, heavy rains set in and by the time we reached the Kaskaskia River, on the north bank of which the town of Carlyle is located, the river was out of its banks and the bottom overflowed to a depth of two or three feet and in some places more. To add to our troubles, it suddenly became very cold, making ice on the water, and much impeding travel. I had a good deal of difficulty in finding the way to the ferry landing but finally made it, the horses wet and cold to a chill, and the human freight in little better condition. After housing my fellow travelers at a hotel in the town I drove out into the open prairie for the purpose of warming up the half-frozen horses, but with the keen northwester strong upon us I soon found the
67warming up could not be done that way, and therefore took the back track and got the chilled beasts under shelter as soon as possible. By hard rubbing after a time they became apparently comfortable, and I sought the cheerful bar room fire, where after a good supper contentedness was restored all round. From Carlyle to Vandalia the trip was very slow and tedious. Snow to a foot's depth was on the road and progress faster than a walk was out of the question. We got there at last and found Mr. Jenkins in his winter quarters at a crowded boarding place. We remained there several days until the weather changed for the better, as we thought, and early in January, 1832 we again moved on towards our mother's home in Morgan County. The road was very heavy with the melting snow and mud, and the distance made per day was short.
Nothing serious occurred to our discomfort until after we had reached about the southern boundary of Greene County. We there determined that we would take a nearer route to our point of destination than by the way of Carrollton, and instead of going so far west we would try a more direct way that led up pretty straight through the prairie region by way of Carlinville in Macoupin County and thence through the unsettled
68prairie to Jacksonville in Morgan County. Consequently, we took the shorter road, as we imagined, when it left the main traveled way leading from St. Louis northwest through the more settled region nearer the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, and while the track soon became dim, we jogged along happy in the anticipation of saving a day's journeying and hastening by so much the termination of the trip.
Early in the day we entered the boundless expanse of then entirely unsettled prairie, extending east almost to the Wabash River, and northeast to Lake Michigan and north and northwest to the skirt of timber along the bank of the Illinois. Autumn fires had burned off all the grass, leaving the surface of the ground clean and free of all signs of vegetation. Not a tree or even a shrub was in sight, nor was there a human habitation or any other evidence of man's handiwork within the scope of our vision. The dim and little-used path trended northward into the seemingly illimitable space and we pursued its course. The day was dark and lowering. Dense clouds, thick, black, and low hanging, obscured the sky. The last plantation we had passed was out of sight, miles in our rear.
The snow began to fall, gently and light at first but faster as the day sped on, and but a
69short time elapsed until the surface of the ground was entirely hidden and no vestige of the track we were attempting to follow could be seen. We plodded on, however, the snow becoming deeper and deeper and being damp it clogged up the wheels of our vehicle, causing our tired horses to move more slowly as the day waned and night approached. For some hours after our bearings were lost we had stopped trying to guide the team, hoping instinct would direct its course and bring us safely to a settler's cabin before darkness should come, but such was not our destiny. The snow had fallen to a foot's depth. The wind was changing to the north, betokening a freezing night. The poor horses were so wearied as to be hardly able to move forward with no house in sight and with twilight upon us. In attempting to cross a shallow ravine, we reached its bottom and there came to a dead stop, our worn-out team being unable to pull the wagon out of the ditch.
Our situation was not pleasant to contemplate. We were lost in a vast prairie, in a swamped and snowbound wagon, with two tired-out horses, they nor we having had a bite to eat since the early morning, and utterly oblivious of any way to succor. The cold was becoming intense and chilled us
70through and through. The question came up, "what shall we do? If we stay here we will freeze and our horses will die." Sister Mary was a hero and did not whimper. I finally said to her, "If you can ride on one of the horses, I will try the other, and we will make a break from this desolate spot, giving the horses their heads and trusting them to bring us out of this wilderness to some human habitation."
She agreed to try it. I thereupon loosened the horses from the wagon, fixed the harness up as best I could on the one for her to ride, and got her on the beast, the hames serving in place of the horns of a side saddle. I mounted the other horse, and we told them to go. They took a course through the snow. Slow and sad was our advance, yet on we went. The stars came out, the north wind crisped the snow and made it creak at every step. Colder did we become and so cramped in the position we had to maintain on our horses that it became almost unbearable, especially to my dear sister, but no complaint was uttered by her. We could not relieve ourselves by dismounting and tramping along on foot until we rested our benumbed limbs and awakened a healthy circulation, the snow being too deep for walking, and well we knew that if we were once off our animals'
71backs we could not mount again without a friendly stump or a fence corner to aid us.
Consequently, to grin and bear it was our only alternative. The night wore on and hope almost failed us, but a good providence was over us and the barking of a watch dog gave evidence that we were nearing a house. Our hopes revived and soon the welcome sight of a settler's cabin cheered our view. Our glad and whickering horses hastened their steps and brought us to the gate where they halted and I mustered voice to "hail the house."
A few efforts brought a man to the door. I told him our condition and needs. He bade us to alight and come in. We gladly accepted his welcome, but when we attempted the feat of alighting we found ourselves unequal to the task as we had become so benumbed that our cramped limbs refused to obey our will. Kind hands helped us and it did not take long to get us indoors and before a rousing backlog fire built up by our host, whose good wife prepared for us a hot meal, which was partaken of with zeal and ability. Good warm sleeping places were provided for us, and soon "nature's sweet restorer" rendered us oblivious to the discomforts we had undergone. Our fatigued
72horses were also well cared for, and after a good rest were as brisk as ever.
I much regret that the name of the hospitable family that thus gave us sympathy and shelter has now, after 57 years have passed, entirely escaped my memory. I trust God's goodness and mercy have been richly and abundantly over and around them ever since.
The next day the good man of the house went with me after our swamped carriage, with a team. We took the trail my horses I had made the previous night and readily found the vehicle as we had left it, away out i in the prairie. We hitched on and returned to our place of refuge.
The weather became clear and cold. Our team and ourselves being rested and refreshed, the following morning we started for our mother's home, taking the longer and more traveled track as safest and best. In due time without further mishap we reached the goal we had been striving for, where our good mother greeted us with smiles, and the rest of her family as well as father Gorham seemed kindly disposed, and after an agreeable visit we made tracks for our Brownsville home, reaching it safe and sound as when we left it.
In this year, when the Black Hawk War was the great excitement, Mr. Jenkins raised
73a company of which he was chosen captain. The company was mounted and after being mustered in, proceeded to the seat of war. They had a long and tedious march to the Rock River country and the lead mine regions, but failed to overhaul the savages, who had made good their retreat across the Mississippi River.
In the spring of the year 1833 corn was shipped from Brownsville and other points on the Rivers Big Muddy and Mississippi north to supply seed to farmers up the Illinois River and other parts of the state where the corn crop was smitten by frosts the previous fall. I was engaged in receiving and measuring that purchased at our town by parties who came down into "Egypt" to buy. I believe this fact was the cause of the appellation "Egypt" having been given to southern Illinois. The people of the north had to go down into Egypt for their seed corn.
The firm of Reed and Jenkins having been dissolved amicably early in 1832, Mr. Reed
74took the goods and for a time continued the business, and employed me to clerk for him at twelve dollars per month and board. Mr. Reed soon disposed of his stock and closed out. In the spring of 1833 a man named Hall Neilson who owned the Mount Carbon coal mines and lived in Richmond, Virginia sent a stock of goods to his brother William, who was managing the mines in a moderate way, shipping coal south on flat boats. The goods were opened out in Brownsville on the 29th of April, 1833. I was employed in the Neilson store at the same rate of wages with board and continued in this employment a considerable time.
In the fall of 1833 I made a trip northward on horseback. I had a nice young mare, dark brown, high-spirited, active and full of life, not well broken, but gentle enough for me to ride. I had purchased her for thirty dollars from Squire Crain, a farmer of the county, and concluded to visit my mother and perhaps go farther. It was, I think, in October that I left Brownsville and in due time reached my mother's home. After a few days spent with her, the weather being fine, I determined to visit brother Reuben and his folks at Galena, brother Rowland being there. His destination was arrived at, without incident worthy to be noted. At Peoria I
75fell in with a young man whose home was in the region of Galena, to which he was making his way, also on horseback. We therefore started from Peoria together and journeyed thus for several days. The weather turned very cold and snow covered the ground as we advanced, and houses became few and far between. A vast stretch of prairie appeared to view in every direction. Occasionally a house was reached, so that we found shelter at night, and sometimes where we could get a noontime meal.
One day, late in the afternoon in the open prairie, some 15 or 20 miles south of Dixon's Ferry on Rock River, we came to a stream over which a bridge had been erected, but the flooring was all gone, having been washed away by a freshet a few days before we got to it. The stream was still bank full and running water had flooded the adjacent ground. The earth was covered with snow, and ice was on the water. The northwest wind was bitter cold. The creek was swimming deep. The question came up as to what we should do, with no house in sight, 20 miles back to the one we had last seen, and night close upon us. It was finally decided that we would strip our horses, carry the saddles and our luggage over the bridge stringers remaining in place, and then turn
76the horses into the stream and drive them to the other side, one of us to start them in and the other to be ready to catch them as they came over. We made the necessary arrangements and took up our assigned stations. The animals were introduced as far as possible into the water and urged to go forward, but the icy element made them shrink from the imposed task, and as soon as they got out of reach of their persistent persuader they wheeled to the left and escaped to the same shore they were started in at, and with flowing mane and erect tail galloped away a mile or more, leaving two anxious young fellows to meditate upon their mishap.
Consultation induced an effort to recapture the absconders, which resulted successfully after a long and wearying chase. When we got back to the stream the shades of approaching night were hovering about, and the question what to do next vividly presented itself. I finally proposed to try the plan of a bare-back and bare-legged ride through the rushing flood, mounted on one I of the unwilling steeds and leading the other by its bridle, my partner in misery giving us a send off towards the thither shore. To keep my clothing dry I pulled off coat, breeches, boots and socks, keeping on my hat and neck tie, backing my fiery brown
77filly, seizing the line of the other nag, and with whip in hand headed them towards the swirling deep and bade them "go." They went, and took me with them. My comrade in our rear with a long and supple persuader touched them gently but firmly onwards, while I gave their heads and noses proper direction.
They soon plunged into the water, where they had to swim, and with heads up and backs under the surface vigorously struck out towards the north. After a hundred yards or so of swimming, bottom was touched and up the bank we got to where our saddles and my clothes had been taken. My comrade made his way across the stringers and hastened to saddle the shivering brutes, while I donned my garments, chilled to the bone. It seemed that I never would get warm. Finally, however, all was ready to take the road. We mounted and giving rein to our horses they made speedy tracks towards shelter, which was not found until we reached Mr. Dixon's hostelry at his ferry some hours after night. He kindly took us in and cared for us and gave our warmed-up steeds good quarters, and with a big fire to comfort and a good supper to cheer us and downy beds for rest we forgot the discomforts of the day.
The next morning, after an early breakfast, we crossed the Rock River on a ferry flat, and pursued our way rejoicing. A day or two after we left Rock River we reached the place where the road to my companion's home and the road to Galena diverged. Before we arrived there we exchanged horses. My mare having been wounded in the breast by jumping against a sharp-pointed rail on the way, was somewhat lame and I feared she might become disabled and give me trouble on my trip. His horse was young and in good condition, though not so large nor worth so much as mine. We, however, traded even and parted. I forget his name and have not heard from him since.
I made Galena in due time, had a nice visit of a week or so with brother Reuben who was in trade there and his family, brother Rowland being with them, and then started towards home on my light gray pony that proved all-sufficient for my purpose. In about six days I halted at my mother's home, remaining a short time with her to hear and tell the news, thereafter making tracks in the direction of Brownsville, where I arrived safe and sound without further adventure.
Mr. Jenkins was again in trade and having a lot of produce on hand, taken in exchange
79for goods, that he wished to dispose of, in the spring of 1834 he proposed that I should go by steamboat to New Orleans with the stuff to sell. I was willing, and about the 1st of April started from Jenkins Landing near Grand Tower on the Mississippi River. I had a hard cough with pain in my breast and was in quite poor health when I boarded the steamer. The change of climate and the balmy breezes of the south at that season, however, with the good living on the boat and in the city, where I ate oysters, the first I ever saw, stopped my cough, and I returned home the last of April completely restored to my usual good health. I went to St. Louis to engage the boat and make a bargain as to freight, etc., which was at the landing above mentioned, and was taken on board as the steamer passed down.
Mr. Jenkins was a candidate for Lieut. Governor of Illinois this year and expecting to be absent a good part of the time electioneering, he employed me to attend to his home business. He received enough votes to take him through, and as he had to attend the Legislature when winter came, he still needed my services, and I stayed and looked after his affairs to the best of my ability.
I find upon referring to a memorandum book I kept at the time, that it was on the
8014th of March, 1834, that I left Brownsville on the steamer Superior to make the trip to New Orleans. The Superior was a first class boat and I enjoyed the trip down vastly. The scenery was grand and impressive to me all the way down and especially delightful below Natchez, where the banks on either side of the river were lined with sugar plantations of large extent, with the cane growing luxuriantly with its broad green leaves trembling and musical in the breeze. A field of sugar cane has much the appearance of a corn field in the rich prairie bottoms of the Illinois corn belt. The stalk and shape of leaves are very similar and the crop in each case covers the ground.
The sugar plantations were embellished with the magnificent dwellings of their owners and with the stately sugar houses and neatly appearing rows of negro quarters, together with the orange groves and live oaks, made up pictures to me new and beautiful to behold. I remained in the city until the 13th of April, when the boat, having discharged her down cargo and taken on another for the north, hauled in her cable and started up the river.
While at New Orleans I took my first ride on a railroad, a short one of three or four miles which was in operation from the city to
81Lake Pontchartrain. I made the trip at a cost of 75 cents. I also made my first visit to a theater. The great tragedian, Forrest, was performing, and Oraloosa was the play.
I continued in the management of Mr. Jenkins' business the remainder of the year and in October a boat load of live hogs, with some other products of the country, having been purchased by the firm of Jenkins & Co. and gathered in at the Jenkins Landing, and a flatboat having been prepared to take it to New Orleans for sale, the stuff was put on board and I was placed in charge as supercargo. James Evans was pilot at a cost of sixty dollars for steering the boat down, and we had four hands to row when needed and do any other service to help along. The hands, James Holton, Thomas Harris, Gravest Harris and Joseph Davis, were to have twenty-five dollars each after the boat was
82landed in New Orleans and the load sold. Articles showing the agreement were duly drawn up and signed before starting. I have the paper before me now and it reads quite lawyer-like in its wording. I named the boat Swiness, and on the 26th of October, 1834 at 5 o'clock P. M. we took in our gang plank and cable and shoved out into the Father of Waters.
My old memorandum book says we
"run all night, touched a sandbar about midnight but soon got off, passed the cape (Girardeau) at 2 o'clock A. M.
Monday, 27th: lodged on sandbar at 12 o'clock 25 miles above mouth of the Ohio.
28th, evening: still on bar, chance appears bad for getting off. Passed four steamboats up, one flat and 3 down.
29th: on bar yet. Went this evening and built a pen to put the hogs in, having concluded to drive them on shore.
30th: thought would try once more to get off without unloading. Succeeded about 2 o'clock, run down within 8 miles mouth of the Ohio.
31st: no bad luck today. Holton left the boat at Iron Banks because he had to row.
Nov. 1st: Little Prairie, 35 miles below Madrid. Hired a hand at Madrid to go to New Orleans for twenty dollars.
2nd: Chickasaw Bluffs, five miles below Plum Point. One week this evening from home.
3rd: six miles above Memphis. The steamboat Polander passed us this morning going down, which makes the third time since we left m. Ohio. She had three boats in tow.
4th: 38 miles below Memphis. Cloudy, can't run tonight. Landed on a bar.
5th: Helena, clear. Going to run all night. Heard that stock is worth nothing in Orleans and the River full of boats.
6th: ten miles above Montgomery's Point. Last night run against a snag. Had to land before day for fog.
7th: mouth of Arkansas, cloudy, landed.
8th: 23 miles above Point Chicot, clear, going to run to the Point. A steamboat landed from Orleans where we were laying this morning. Say pork is only 2Ë and 3 cents and the river lined with boats. I had a chill today, fear a bilious attack and also fear a sinking money trip, but we will do the best we can.
Sunday, 9th: 10 miles above Mexico. Laid by last night 5 miles above P. Chicot.
10th: Tompkins settlement, about 46 miles above Vicksburg. Run all last night, going to try it tonight.
11th: 15 miles below Vicksburg. Stopped there, was offered 12Ë cents for butter and 3 cents for pork.
12th: Petit Gulf. Hog boat just ahead. Prospect rather dull for saving sales.
13th: Had to land last night on account of fog and lay 'til 10 o'clock this morning. We are now 6 or 8 miles from Natchez and hope to get there tonight.
14th: left Natchez about 12 o'clock. Could make no sales there. The place is filled with pork. Butchers would make no offers.
15th: about 30 miles below Natchez. Laid to last night for rain and wind. Tonight I am afraid will be foggy.
16th: mouth of Red River. We have had a very hard rain today. Were obliged to lay by three or four hours.
17th: Bayou Tunica, 19 miles above Bayou Sara. Have had a pretty good run today. Had to lay up last night for wind.
18th: 5 miles above Baton Rouge.
19th: 10 miles above Bayou La Fourche, overtook this morning my youthful companions and friends of Bluffdale, Mr. Calvin's boys, with a flat boat load of hogs for New Orleans.
20th Nov.: 8 miles above Bonnet Quarre church. Get along very slowly. Only about 30 miles in 24 hours. The nearer the Gulf,
85the slower the current. Passed this evening 2 stock boats, cattle and 100 hogs.
21st: 10 miles below Red Church.
22nd Nov.: at New Orleans. Landed this morning about daybreak. Market dull. Offered 5 cents for pork. Sold Kyser 2 lots on foot. 18 for 4 cents each and 23 for 5 cents each.
23rd: sold balance of hogs today to Thomas & Co.
24th: Got the money for the hogs.
25th: came on board the Majestic, bound for St. Louis.
26th: Sold balance of butter to Hefford & Jorgufrey at 10 cents. Bot. 5 sacks of coffee and 3 Bbls. sugar. Started from Orleans up the Mississippi on Wednesday evening, 26th Nov. about 10 o'clock."
After a very pleasant trip up the River, I reached Brownsville the 12th of Dec., 1834. I found a second flatboat at Jenkins Landing, about ready for its load of cattle and hogs and other produce to go South on another venture. The last one had not yielded much, if any, more than to pay cost, but the products of the country taken in the way of trade had been turned into money with which more goods were purchased and thus the only way to keep business going had been pursued, and I found myself in for the second experience of my life as captain of a
86flatboat crew, to face the dangers of a winter trip down the raging Mississippi. I at once commenced getting the load on board, and the following notes, entered at the time in the memorandum book I kept will show better than anything I might now supply the incidents and difficulties that presented themselves at that eventful period of my life.
"Started from Jenkins Landing in the evening. Left 8 dead hogs at Jenkins. Reached Kimmels Landing, put out one dead hog at Kimmels.
25th: About 10 o'clock struck a snag in the lower end of Donlin's Chute and stove the boat."
The morning was clear and calm. We were floating nicely, as we thought, in the current. No break or even a ripple appeared in the water ahead, or anywhere else about our boat. Suddenly and without premonition the bow began to rise in the water, seemingly ascending upon some solid substance fixed and stationary in the bottom of the river bed. Soon, however, the boat commenced settling in front and we discovered the sharp end of the snag had pierced the, bottom of our boat and projected up through
87it about two feet. She was stopped in her course and firmly held in position, the bow end being just above the water, and the stern at top about even with the surface of the water.
There we were suspended on Christmas Day on the point of a deep-water Mississippi snag, evidently the top end of a large tree, the roots of which had become securely imbedded in the river's bottom at a place our lead line was not long enough to sound. We soon concluded there was no danger of going down immediately with all on board. I at once ordered that the roof should be removed and the cattle loosened so that the imperilled animals might have a swimming chance for life. We hastened their exit and when clear of the boat they struck out briskly for land, some towards the Missouri shore on our right, and many to an island on the left. The boat was hanging about midway between the main shore and the island, some 250 or 300 yards from either. Our next move was to save what we could of the other loading. We had a small skiff, which worked in handy, and we procured a ferry flat and went to work with a will to unload, soon transferring all the load and other loose materials to the Missouri shore, where there chanced to be a log cabin in the woods occupied
88by a woman and two children, in which we were afforded shelter.
Securing our load took up several days. The boat still hung on the snag, and a project was conceived of getting it off and to the bank and there repairing the damage, so we might resume our voyage. By inquiry in the adjacent neighborhood I discovered a gentleman named Price, who owned a long cable which he kindly allowed me to use. With our boat cable attached it was found to be long enough to reach the boat from shore. We therefore rigged a windlass on the bank and fastening the cable to the boat hauled away, and finally succeeded in pulling her off and towing her to the bank. Here we placed skids underneath the shore side and hoisted the bow sufficiently to get at the hole made by the snag in the bottom so that the broken planks could be cut out and sound ones put in their place. This we did and caulked the seams, shoved her back into the river, bailed out the water and our boat was good as new.
We then reloaded and my old memorandum book says:
Sunday, 4th Jan. 1835: we were ready this morning to start again for New Orleans but the ice was so thick in the river we were afraid to venture. We have lost about 15 hogs and considerable corn.
5th: Ice still getting thicker. Last night I slept on board. The ice rasped and grated along the side of the boat next the river all night with an ominous and very uncheerful sound to my wakeful and anxious watching.
My pilot, Mr. Evans, thought it very dangerous to strike out into the floating ice, as it seemed to cover the water thickly from bank to bank. I saw the danger but knew it would get worse instead of better and therefore concluded to risk the chances, so we started, and rowed and poled out into the current and soon discovered that we were pretty much at the mercy of the floating ice. It was impossible to move to the right or to the left. As the ice around us went, we went. It was much in our favor that the Ohio River was bank full, as it backed up the Mississippi some 40 or 50 miles and while this caused the ice to accumulate and thicken on the surface of the water, the flow was correspondingly retarded, and the main danger to our boat was that of being crushed against the bank, an island, or by great masses of ice. On the night after we started we were forced in close to the bank of Sister Island 8 miles above the mouth of the Ohio, where we made a landing and hoped to get out of our trouble on the morrow. The weather was
90very cold and it seemed that a solid freeze-up was imminent.
Jan. 6th: 3 miles below the mouth of the Ohio. We have this day come through ice galore, but are now, we think, out of danger from it.
23rd: Landed at Natchez this morning, sold steers for $55, no offer for hogs or pork. Landed 8 miles below Natchez, cloudy.
At this southern city we remained all night at the Mississippi River Landing, and opportunity was offered to witness scenes transpiring at the then notorious Natchez under the Hill. With my pilot, James Evans, who was a good man, moral and discreet, I availed of the chance and we took a stroll along the single street between the river and the bluff (which I judge is some 50 or more feet high, and on the top of which the main city had been built) and it seemed to me that almost every house we passed was occupied on the ground floor for tippling liquor and dancing with the girls, gaudily bedecked; bold and brazen were the sirens, free with their partners and demonstrative towards lookers-on, especially to the green and unwary boatmen who stood around their public exhibitions. Doubtless many a youth and some of more mature years were en trapped and fleeced of all their ready cash and then turned off
91with scorn. Evans and myself looked on for a while and then went back to our boat, leaving the haunts of the Scarlet Woman with no pang of regret.
Jan. 29th: Last night we were running, about midnight a violent storm of wind and rain came strong upon us and we concluded it would be best to make a landing. By hard rowing we reached the bluff side of a sandbar in the rain and darkness, with the wind blowing a gale. A plank was shoved out and instructions given to secure the boat by cabling to a stake driven firmly into the sand, a somewhat difficult thing to do in a pouring rain storm, when the sand was saturated and much loosened by the water. I did not go on shore at once to see whether the stake was set firmly and the boat safe from the action of the waves and the raging storm. The men came in and reported all right. Soon, however, the thought came strongly into my mind that I had better make an examination. I thereupon went out to where the stake had been driven and found it with the cable knotted around it but pulled up out of the sand and the boat had commenced to move away from the bank, drawing the cable and the stub slowly down the treacherous sandbank into the water. I at once called out the men and did not go on board again
92until I felt assured that the boat would stay at the bank the rest of the night. I felt very thankful, sure that the danger of the midnight storm, with our frail and cumbersome water craft on the turbulent waves of the wind-lashed Mississippi that dark night had been obviated. A trusted providence had again been good to us.
Feb. 1st: We landed at New Orleans this morning. I sold a small lot of hogs to Minson at $3 per head.
3rd Feb.: Sold balance of the hogs at 4 cents per lb. They only averaged 94 lbs. 49 head. Sold corn and boat to Adams, Bbls. corn at 75 cents and boat for $11.
4th: Sold meat and lard to Den by 1636Åº lbs. @ 41.4c, 170 lbs. lard @ 6 cts. and got the money. Went on board the Boonslick steamboat.
Feb. 5th: Sold Beeswax 91 lbs. at 16c per lb. to Le Febre. Went to the bank, settled up matters and paid off pilot and hands. Bought some articles, and at 4 o'clock P. M. steam having been raised and all ready, the Boonslick hauled in her gang planks and headed up the Mississippi for St. Louis. My last trip up the river I took a deck passage at a cost of six dollars. This time I concluded to try the cabin at a twenty-dollar fare to the Grand Tower or Jenkins Landing, which
93was the nearest point a steamboat in those days stopped to put off passengers and freight for Brownsville.
The proceeds of Voyage No. 1 were $861.17 and the proceeds of Voyage No. 2 were $743.79.
The loads were about alike in quantity and value at starting from home, but the detention and loss caused by the wreck in Donlin's Chute made the difference in the outcome. The business was not only hazardous, but unprofitable as well. Yet in those times trading in merchandise could only be kept going by exchanging largely for products of the country, cash sales being few and far between, and when taken in the stuff had to be disposed of, and to do that perilous ventures must be undertaken.
Feb. 14th: The Boonslick reached Cairo. A snow storm was prevailing and the ice was running so heavy in the Mississippi that she could go no farther, and had to lay up there and await a thaw. My only chance was to stay also, or try to get home in some other way. No conveyance could be had, and Evans and myself decided to foot it. We arranged accordingly, leaving our luggage on the boat to be landed at Grand Tower when the river became navigable and "lit out" into the storm. We found the snow about one foot deep on the level. The road was
94obscure and led through the marshy bottom land to the north or Cairo. The ground under the snow being not much frozen made travel over it on foot tedious and tiresome in the extreme. We plodded on, however, as best we could until night when we found shelter in a log cabin occupied by a kind-hearted family named Dodds.
Our sleeping place that night (it was the night of the 15th of February, 1835) was in the loft of the cabin up next the roof. The roof was composed of cypress clapboards, held in place by half-inch pins instead of nails. The boards had been laid and then wherever necessary to make the roof secure, an auger hole was bored through the shingles and a pin thrust in, firmly holding them together and showing the sharpened point some 3 or 4 inches underneath. It seemed very odd to me, but manifested ingenuity in the settlers, and an adaptation to the needs of the times and places where timber was abundant and nails totally absent. I noticed the door was made in the same way, and presume no nail was used in the building. Yet it was comfortable and afforded its occupants and ourselves as wayfarers contentment and good cheer.
We had supper, a good night's rest, and breakfast all for 37 cents each. Early on
95the morning of the 16th of February we struck out from the Dodds' homestead, and slowly wended our way towards the north. About the middle of the day we reached the higher land and found a settlement where small improvements had been made and farms started. Weary and footsore, I sought an easier way of locomotion than I had been trying, and was fortunate enough to find a man to aid me on to Jonesboro, which he did by furnishing me a horse to ride and going along himself at a charge of $1.88. We reached the town in the evening and I put up at the Hacker hotel, a very pleasant place to stop. I stayed all night, bill 75c.
17th Feb.: This A. M. I obtained a horse to ride and left for Brownsville, where I arrived the same day, well content to be at my old stopping place once more. I found matters quiet at Brownsville. Mr. Jenkins and my sister Mary were still at Vandalia, the Legislature not having adjourned. I was quite alone until the session of the lawmakers closed, which happened not much later. On February 21st Jenkins and his wife and little Ann, their only child, got home from the seat of Government, not very well and a good deal fatigued by their trip from Vandalia. Their return made the home at Brownsville pleasant again, and with frequent
96visits to Mr. Tuthill's in Vergennes Prairie, where his wife, my sister Sally and I her children, as well as himself, always made it agreeable, I passed the early spring months of 1835 pleasantly and with much satisfaction. I still attended to the storekeeping business of Mr. Jenkins and had plenty of work to keep me employed.
In June of this year (1835) Mr. Jenkins proposed to enter into partnership with me to carry on the mercantile business at Brownsville and while I could furnish no capital except a will to work and a disposition to attend closely and carefully to any thing I had to do I agreed, and under the firm name of Jenkins and Brush the enterprise started. Painted in large black letters on a white board and fastened up over the door to the storeroom it seemed a big thing to me. A very fair stock of goods, suitable to the requirements of the country, was procured, mostly on his credit, in Louisville of houses with whom he had dealt before, and the firm launched forth with considerable exultation. It continued in business about two years, and while its trade was not vast or its profits large, it Jived honorably, dealing fairly with its customers and liquidating its indebtedness.
Early in 1836 Mr. Joel Manning, who was a brother-in-law of Jenkins and clerk of the
97Circuit and County Commissioners' Courts of Jackson County, received the appointment of Secretary to the Board of Commissioners of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, then about being commenced.
When the offices held by Mr. Manning were vacated by him, I applied for them, and was appointed Judge of Probate by the Governor, Clerk of the Circuit Court by Judge Jeptha Harden and Clerk of County Court by the County Commissioners. I also received the appointment of Recorder of Deeds, and later in this year (1836) was appointed post master at Brownsville. Thus in my 24th year I had the responsible duties of five important offices to perform, entering upon them with little experience in such business but with an earnest disposition to learn my duties and a will to do my best. The firm of Jenkins and Brush was mutually dissolved, and its stock in trade was turned over to the senior partner, who discontinued it some months later.
This year a President of the United States was to be elected, and my first vote for a presidential candidate was to be given. Martin Van Buren was the Democratic aspirant, and Daniel Webster and William Henry Harrison were the Whig candidates, Jackson then holding the office.
Jenkins was strong for Van Buren. Manning, having come from Vermont, was a strong Whig. My reading and the information I had acquired had brought me to believe that the principles advocated by the
99Whigs were the true ones and should prevail for the best interests of our country. I believed the true policy was ample protection to our manufacturing, mining, agricultural, and in fact all legitimate pursuits in which our people were engaged, striving to establish home independence. Consequently, I could not go with the Democrats, but joined in with the Whig forces, and did not vote for Van Buren. This county was largely democratic at that time and I doubt whether 100 votes at that election were cast for the Whig electors.
Mr. Jenkins was appointed by General Jackson Receiver of Monies at the Edwardsville Land Office, which he accepted and in the early fall removed with his family to that town. Brother James also went along to serve as clerk, and Mr. Manning's family having gone to their Chicago home, I was left to stem the tide alone without relatives nearer than the Vergennes Prairie people.
In November, 1836, I took a trip on horseback to Edwardsville to visit Mr. Jenkins and my sister Mary and their children. When I had been there some days, the weather being fine, Mary and I concluded to take the carriage and horses and go up to Morgan County and stay a few days with our mother
100at her home some six or seven miles west of Jacksonville.
About the middle of December, the weather being very pleasant we started and the first day out found the traveling good and the prospect of a pleasant trip flattering. The second morning when we started it was fair, and we set out from our stopping place in good heart and exuberant spirits. All went well until mid-day when it commenced to rain. We were out on a large and unsettled prairie in the southern part of Greene County, between the Piasa and Macoupin creeks, some 8 or 10 miles from a stopping place. We pushed on as rapidly as possible, the storm increasing in violence as we went, and ere long the water came down in torrents, filling the gullies and ravines and making a lake of every depression in the prairie, while the elevations were covered J or 4 inches deep with the moving flood. We neared a point about 10 miles south of the Macoupin Creek, where a settler occasionally kept wayfarers, and applied for shelter. The rain was still falling in a seeming solid mass and the water all around was at least 3 inches deep on the slopes as well as on the tops of the ridges and on the level ground. A little before we arrived at the farmhouse the wind suddenly veered around to the north blowing with terrific
101violence and arctic coldness, and the running water had frozen at least 3 inches thick over all the surface of the surrounding country. We were weatherbound for several days, bitter cold prevailing. When a let-up came I had the horses rough shod, so they could keep their feet on the ice over which we had to travel, and we started on our way rejoicing. The traveling was good. Every place was bridged. The streams across our road had been overflowing from the heavy rain and ice had formed on their surface so thick and strong that after the water fell it stood like a bridge that bore us up without a break or crack. Thus we had a smooth, firm roadway on which our sharp-shod horses made brisk headway. This condition continued all the way to our destination. No snow had fallen on the ice and it was one glare mass on hill and in dale, over rivulets and the larger streams, as also over depressions in the prairies. I never saw the like before, nor anything approaching it since.
We arrived at mother's home in the latter part of December, and stayed there ten days or so, having an enjoyable visit with her and other relatives and friends. About the tenth of January or perhaps a little earlier in 1837 we started on our return trip. As far as Edwardsville the ice bridges were generally intact
102and bore up our team and conveyance without a break. Sister Mary stood the journey well and so did I. We never regretted that we had made it; our experience, though novel, was exciting and somewhat out of the common order.
During the remainder of this year (1837) the duties of the offices I held kept me at home and generally at the desk, not knowing the hour when anyone having business might present himself. Probate matters, settlements of estates, and the work to be done in the county and circuit clerk's offices, as well as the recording of deeds and due attention to the post office took up most of my time night and day. I made it a point to be on hand whenever anything was needed to be done for anybody, so none should have to wait for me, and aimed to do all the office work myself, needing and having no deputy or assistant. This suited my disposition, and to this quality of my nature I now after 76 years' experience attribute any success I have attained. I worked for the whole people of the county, and many a time worked all night to finish business so that those who came from remote points should not be under the necessity of making a long stay or coming again.
I had a good many leisure hours between jobs, however, which I tried to improve in
103reading, and as I was Judge of Probate and clerk of both courts I necessarily had to examine frequently the statutes of the state and thus became acquainted to some extent with principles and provisos relative to points I was called upon to determine.
There was no lawyer resident in the town or county. Consequently I did not have access to text books from which I might learn, nor anyone learned in the law to elucidate a question that gave me trouble. Circuit Court was held twice a year, in the spring and fall, this county being one of a circuit composed of all the counties in the southern part of the state, some twenty or more. The Judge (old Judge Brown presided when I first came here) and the lawyers David J. Baker, Sidney Breese, Henry Eddy, Wm. J. Gatewood, Samuel Marshall, John A. McClern and, John Dougherty and others whose names I do not now remember rode the Circuit on horseback, mostly traveling together, stopping at the county seats long enough to do up the business pending, say three to six or more days. They were all very kind to me and willingly advised me in my ignorance. I laid up questions for solution when court was to set, and thus was vastly helped. I feel grateful to them yet for many kindnesses received. I still had a strong desire for better
104opportunities for the study of law than I possessed, but too great timidity prevented me from giving up the slender competency my offices afforded, then worth about five hundred dollars per year over and above my expenses, and so I remained plodding away at the desk.
I had resigned the office of Post Master, because it required so constant and close attention, and yielded small profit. The last Legislature having made another of the county offices I held elective by the people, imposed upon me the necessity of being a candidate for three offices at the following August election, unless I concluded to give all up and quit. Many of the old farmers and most substantial men of the county desired me to hold on to what I had and to try for such of them as would have to be again conferred by the people at said election. To please my friends, and seeing no way in which I could then better myself, I determined to become a candidate, and therefore told the voters I would still serve to the best of my ability, if again elected.
In August, 1839 the election came off and I was elected to the three offices for which I was a candidate, and this determined me to remain at Brownsville at least four years longer.
Later in the season I concluded to take a trip through the northern portion of the state. In September I traveled by steamboat up the Mississippi to Galena, where I remained a week or two with brother Reuben and his family and brother Rowland who then lived with them.
When the time came for me to resume my travels, I took the stage overland for Chicago, then but a small town by the lake. Slowly but surely our team wended its weary way, at a rate of four or five miles per hour over rough roads, through miry slashes and over streams by uncertain and oft times troublesome fords. At the ford over Rock River a few houses had been erected. Only at long intervals along the rest of the route had even farm houses been seen. From Rock River to Chicago was one desolate waste. A portion of the road was over flat prairie from which the water could not run off, and for a distance of many miles before we reached the Lake the water and mud was two to three feet deep and the poor horses had to splash through it at a snail's gait. The whole region looked forbidding and the idea of settlement there, or that the land would ever be taken up or wanted for any purpose seemed preposterous.
I had the money to pay for, and could doubtless then have secured several hundred
106acres of the land within a very short distance of the town limits, but such an investment had no attractions for me. And then the town itself, squatting principally in the muddy waste, with ditches along the streets and the board walks built on slight posts driven into the mud, had a very dismal and unattractive presentment to a man used to a hilly country where the rain that fell speedily found a way to a flowing stream. A small scope of ground near the lake on which Fort Dearborn had been erected, the whole elevation not exceeding, as I judged, one or two hundred acres, was all the ground high m enough to be above the surrounding waters.
A few days' stay there satisfied my curiosity and I again took stage for Lockport, a town on the line of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, then being excavated, at which place
107Mr. Joel Manning had located with his family. I soon found his place of residence and spent a few days in the enjoyment of hospitable intercourse with him and his interesting family.
From Lockport I went by stage to La Salle on the Illinois River, thence by boat to Beardstown, and I believe there I took a temporary car on a temporary flat bar railroad track that had recently been put down from that place to near Jacksonville. The line ran but a few miles north of where my mother lived, so I thought I would ride on the railroad to the nearest point to where I wished to go and then get off and foot it the rest of the way.
The diminutive engine made a start with the poor car—I think there was but one, and an excuse for a tender, with myself and perhaps another man or two as passengers—and with feeble timorousness slowly cleared the outskirts of the town and up the river's second bank, and finally with weakened energy reached the broad prairie that spread out expansively towards the point of destination.
Troubles soon presented themselves to obstruct progress. The ties were loosely put down and wobbled out of line. The flat half-inch bar-iron laid to guide the wheels became loosened at the ends and incontinently turned
108up, thrusting "nigger heads" through the bottom of the car and jagging the unwary passenger by a murderous dig into his corporation if he happened to be in its way. Then steam became low, and the engine had to be cut loose and paraded up and down the wobbling track to recuperate strength and power sufficient to proceed. We wiggled along in this interesting sort of way until the wiggle was all gone and the fast-declining sun betokened lodgment on the fagged-out train, or the speedy adoption of some other sort of locomotion to reach shelter.
I took bearings and found I was some six or eight miles from where I wished to stop that night and with ambitious alacrity "lit out" for tall timber and in due time met a hearty welcome from my dear old mother, who was glad to meet her wandering son. This was my first experience of railroad travel in Illinois, the road referred to being, as I believe, the first one in operation in this state. After a short visit with my mother I went on my way rejoicing towards my home where I was well satisfied to arrive about the 1st of November, 1839.
The good people of the county were my firm friends. The citizens of the town were all clever. I had no enemies any where, so far as I knew. We had social dancing parties
109frequently, sometimes in the town at Francis Meeha's hotel at a dollar a couple, sometimes at farmers' houses in the country after a chopping match by the neighboring men and a quilting party by the women, winding up with centre dances by the girls and boys in the evening. Everybody knew every other body, all were on their best behavior and all were happy.
A statement of my fiscal concerns as near as I can make it this 7th Dec. 1839.
|I have notes on good men to the amt. of||$1,010.86|
|I have accts. supposed to be good to the amt. of||299.50|
|I have fees in Circuit court uncollected to the amt. of||171.46|
|I have cost on my Justice's docket to the amt. of||24.56|
|I have land which I value at||250.00|
|One gold watch||125.00|
|Saddle $20—Books $50—Blankets $20.00||90.00|
|Bank notes $292—Silver $128—Gold $128.50||548.50|
|I am owing for money collected, private debts etc||467.96|
I insert the preceding to show that I had saved something at the above date as I thought, at the close of about 4 years in office.
Early in this year (1839) Mr. Jenkins determined to close out his store business at Lebanon and proposed that I should take the stock on hand and bring it to Brownsville and start a store there. At first I did not I greatly favor the idea, as my time was pretty well occupied in the work I already had to do. I had some leisure hours in which might look after other matters if necessary, but well knew I could not alone give such attention to a retail dry goods and grocery establishment as would be required to secure fair success. The town, and in fact the whole county, at the time was almost destitute of places where the people could procure supplies, there being but two or three stores in the town and they of small caliber and their proprietors weak in means, and in the whole county only two other points where anything was kept for sale. Consequently there seemed fair promise of securing a remunerative trade if a respectable stock of articles such as would meet the demands of the town and country people should be introduced for sale. I had a thousand dollars or so of ready cash that I could put in and after consulting with my brother-in-law, Daniel B. Tuthill,
111who had no money, but whom I knew to be honest and careful in his transactions and who had had some experience in selling goods and could devote all his time to the business we concluded to try it and thereupon bought Jenkins out, the goods invoicing about $4,000, on which was paid say $400 and for the remainder our note was taken on a year's time for near $3,600. I visited St. Louis and purchased articles to make a reasonably good assortment, making up the stock to some $4200 or $4300 in value, had it shipped to Brownsville, and on the twenty-first of March, 1839, we opened up and commenced trade. Some time afterwards Mr. Tuthill removed his family to Brownsville and thereby I was furnished a good place to board, and our sales being satisfactory, we progressed charmingly.
This was the year of the log cabin (1840) and hard cider election for President. William Henry Harrison was the Whig candidate and Martin Van Buren the Democratic. A convention to boom the Whig side was held in Springfield in June. Being about the only Whig in this county, I conceived it my privilege to evince my principles on that occasion, so I made my arrangements to attend.
I left Brownsville on horseback alone, went to Kaskaskia and there joined quite a
112number of persons who were going up to aid in the political demonstration, the first one of any moment ever projected in Illinois. L. D. Morrison, John D. Owings, F. Maxwell, G. Stacy, were among the members of the party, all on horseback and we formed a merry crowd traveling northward towards the seat of state government, mostly over unsettled prairie where the road was but a trace, and settlements were few. Accommodations for man and beast were obtained at farmhouses along the route, not luxurious, but fairly comfortable, and we had a very agreeable trip. The campaign songs heard at many of the houses as we passed cheered us on our winding way. In due time we reached our destination, where a most enthusiastic assemblage had convened. Jenkins and his folks were there. He had fallen out with the Democrats on account of some disagreement over the conduct of his office as Receiver of Public money at Edwardsville, and had resigned in a pet and joined the anti-Van Burenites with vigor. He was chosen to preside over the Whig Convention, and was introduced in an opening address by Fletcher Webster.
113a strong and somewhat indignant arraignment of the party in power, and zealously insisting upon a change as being necessary for the well-being of the country.
The excitement so rife in the north in regard to the pending election failed to become enkindled to any great extent in Jackson County. In fact, food for it was very limited, most all of our people being on the democratic side. Whigs were too few and far between to stir up the animals.
Money being very scarce in the country, we were compelled to do a barter business to a considerable extent, or sell our goods on a credit and take the chances of getting our pay in any reasonable time. Consequently we took in a good deal of such articles as the farmers had to sell, and disposed of it afterwards as best we could. In August of this year (1840) we concluded to venture a lot of stock and other stuff down the Mississippi River to New Orleans, so in the last days of August we gathered in about 100 beef steers and fat cows and some 40 or 50 head of hogs to take by steamboat to the city. We received the cattle from the persons of whom we purchased at Brownsville and as they were driven in, herded them in a field together so they might become acquainted with one another before we undertook to drive them
114to Grand Tower Landing, where they were to be shipped on a steamboat.
After our freight was all aboard, the steamer moved out and in about six days landed us at the stockyards in New Orleans. I took only one man, Orlando F. Bigelow, along to assist me in feeding and caring for the stock. I soon sold out, receiving $1,656.40, out of which I paid $622.75 to the George Collier for freight, and after reaching home squared up the voyage account by profit and loss $351, the total debits being something over $2,000.
This was about the usual outcome of ventures down the river with country products in those depressed times. It was, however, one of the main ways open to merchants to keep up stocks, and by turning the proceeds into goods which could be sold for good profits business might be kept going and such losses soon recovered. Besides, by taking the farmers' products they were helped along and would buy our goods more freely. The remainder of this year 1840 was devoted to hurrahing for "Tippecanoe and Tyier too" up to the day of election, and rejoicing at the result after they were elected. The good news was a long time in reaching these out of the way parts, a weekly mail being our only dependence.
Nothing transpired during the winter and early spring out of our ordinary routine. I was closely occupied with my official duties and in attention to the store business, trade being fair and sales increasing. I visited Louisville in April and laid in a good supply of articles needed and when we got them home our customers took them freely at remunerating prices.
A great grief, however, was hovering over us, which although not entirely unexpected, smote us none the less severely when it came. The health of sister Mary was very discouraging, not only to herself but to all her relatives and friends. During the last fall and winter consumption had settled on her lungs. Before hard winter set in mother visited her and recognizing her delicate condition and need of careful nursing took Mary and her two children back with her to Morgan County. Jenkins did not go along, but came down and remained in Brownsville. Mary continued to decline and on the first of May, 1841, yielded up her sweet life to the fell destroyer. Her husband was not with her when she died. A mother's kindest, loving care was hers and she peacefully passed away leaving little Ann and Augustine with her mother to mourn her loss. She was interred in Jacksonville Cemetery, wherein a few
116years later our mother's remains were deposited.
Having, by the exercise of economy and industrious attention to business the past four or five years, been able to accumulate some property and means so as to be a little ahead, and being tired of living at somebody else's house, I began seriously to consider taking a helpmate to join me in building a home of our own.
It may be recalled that on Dec. 7, 1839 I estimated my worldly possessions at $2,121.92.
I felt in 1841 that I was still on the gaining side and could afford to take a wife. Consequently I began earnestly to take steps in that direction. For some time I had been attracted towards Miss Julia Etherton, a daughter of Samuel and Charlotte Etherton who owned a farm on the Ridge about six miles south of Brownsville, on the main road leading from St. Louis and the north to Cairo and beyond. Julia being a younger sister of brother James' wife, I had known her ever since I came to the county. She was then eight years old, good looking, of modest deportment and retiring disposition, healthy in body and bright in mind. She had developed into a lovely woman and while she was seven years my junior I concluded she was
117the girl I would take, if she would consent. So I made proper advances and when the time came to ask the important question it was most bashfully propounded on my part and replied to in the same spirit by her and she said I might ask the old folks, which I did and they consented. Then after a time the date of our marriage was fixed for the 2nd of November, 1841 and preparations were made accordingly.
My office duties kept me pretty busy but yielded no great income. Six to seven hundred dollars net per year was about the amount of money realized from that source, while the store business was of doubtful profit to either Mr. Tuthill or myself. I did not have to draw from its resources to meet my necessities but put into it all my outside means, probably as much up to this time as one thousand dollars or more. Mr. Tuthill had no money to advance when we commenced, nor did he have any afterwards. He got his living and his family's support pretty much from the store and thus received pay for his services. But the prospect not being promising for any better outcome to him than that, he began to tire of the arrangement and desired to take his family back to their home on his farm. He finally did so in October of this year.
We had conducted the partnership business in such a way as to keep it going reasonably well. Matters had not been allowed to become involved, indebtedness had been promptly met as it matured, and we had not overstocked ourselves with unsalable goods, except perhaps to some extent in the old stock we purchased of Jenkins. We had undertaken to pay him $1000 by November 1st, 1841 on the note he held against us for $3,599.11 which had been made to him when we bought him out, and had mostly paid it before it fell due, as he wanted money. Although we still owed some $2600 on it, and small amounts on goods laid in and in matters of trade, our assets were ample to insure our ability to meet every engagement that we had incurred. An estimate of the Brownsville store which I made on Sept. 21, 1841 shows $3,385 in accounts, $971 in notes, $466 in produce, $400 in cash, and goods in store say $1,200.
|The indebtedness of the concern was of which $931 was due to me. Bal.||$5,177|
This showing indicated solvency at least, the hard times to the contrary notwithstanding.
November 2nd, and now had arrived the most important day to me of any so far in my life, the day of my marriage to the sweet girl of my choice. Miss Julia Etherton. In the afternoon brother James, Orlando F. Bigelow, and myself rode out from Brownsville on horseback to the farm of Mr. Samuel Etherton, arriving there in the early evening. A house full of the kindred and neighbors had assembled and at 8 o'clock P. M. Julia and I took our position and I handed a license which I had issued myself, being clerk of the County Court, authorizing the solemnization of the rites, to Rev. Wm. Gentry, her mother's Baptist minister, and he duly performed the ceremony and pronounced us man and wife. Forty-eight years have elapsed since that joyful day, and I can truly say that no feeling of regret has ever crossed my mind that there was such an occasion.
Julia was a perfect and most lovable girl. She was a blessing to me as a wife, true and faithful to the end, and in her motherly love for our children she could not be excelled. She had been born and raised to womanhood in this county and did not have the advantages of education in schools that she deserved. She had, however, a good Christian mother whose influence in her training was of the best, so that her home life was pure in its
120teachings and perfect in forming an earnest positive Christian character. Modest and retiring in her disposition, her home was her theater of action and her motherly love the scepter by which she ruled her household. Twenty-six years she was my helper and the cherished guardian of my home, and then her God took her. Her surviving children may well rise up and call her blessed.
Nov. 3rd, 1841: On the morning of this day after we had breakfast Julia and mounted our horses (she had been given a fine pacer by her father) and left her old home on the Ridge for a new one together at Brownsville. Soon we reached the place and put up at the house of her brother-in-law, John M. Hanson, who had married Lucinda Etherton, her eldest sister. We remained there about a week and then left on our bridal tour, the first one, I suspect, ever taken from Jackson County. We first went in an open two-horse wagon, over the hills and through the Mississippi bottom to the Grand Tower Landing and there took shelter at the house of Herod M. Jenkins, keeper of a warehouse for the storage of freight. We got there about nightfall and the good wife had washed that day and it was rainy and she was doubtless weary, and her looks evidenced that she was not ambitious to act as hostess
121to a newly-wedded pair, fresh from town. However she restrained her wrath and hustled around, giving us a good supper and in proper time a nice warm bed in one corner of the large living room with curtains to secrete its occupants, another bed being diagonally across the room in which the good man and wife rested their weary bones.
We had requested that the first steamboat bound down for Louisville should be brought to land if possible to take us and a lot of produce I had in the warehouse on board. Next morning before I was awake "a boat in sight," was announced. I hastened on my raiment and was on hand when the boat landed. She was bound for the port of our destination and the Captain agreed to take my wife and me and the truck, and at once commenced getting it aboard. I went back to the house and found Julia ready. We gathered up the little baggage we had and hurried on board the boat, and soon thereafter the first fruits of a careful wife appeared. When I was aroused from slumber and hurried up and out, I omitted to think of my watch, which I had placed under my pillow on going to bed the night before. After we were on board and under way, the fact that I had forgotten the watch flashed upon me, and I exclaimed to Julia that it was left.
122With a cheery look she said, "I guess not," and at once produced the missing article from her bosom. She had discovered it after I left and had put it where it was secure, with its guard around her neck.
We were assigned a comfortable stateroom on the boat and enjoyed a very pleasant trip down the Mississippi to Cairo, and thence up the Ohio to Louisville, occupying four or five days. On the boat I met my old friend of Bluffdale, John Russell, who was on his way to the city to take charge of the Louisville Advertiser, a weekly paper that he had been employed to edit.
123the paper as long as he conducted it, but I never met him again.
We stopped in Louisville at the Gait house, then the best hotel there.
We took in a good deal of country produce during this fall and winter and to turn it into money concluded to send it down the river for a market. We therefore had a flat boat built at a cost of one hundred dollars, into which our pork, bacon, butter, corn, venison hams, etc. were loaded and about the first of this year, 1842, we employed a man named Wilson to go as supercargo with hands to manage the boat, and they shoved out. The trip was a failure, pecuniarily, the net returns amounting to less than one-half the cost,
124proving abundantly that the traffic in such articles as we sent was not profitable.
In February Mr. Tuthill desiring to resume his farm work and to get out of merchandising, proposed to turn over the establishment to me, the firm to sell me the goods on hand at cost, and the other assets, consisting of notes, accounts, etc. to be collected and the indebtedness of the concern paid by me. After considering the matter I concluded to accept the proposition. The goods were invoiced, the amount being $1,833.43 as per bill of sale dated Feb. 22, 1842.
In a letter which I wrote to my mother on April 17, 1842, I took occasion to remark upon the change that had been manifested by Mr. Jenkins in his conduct towards me and other members of our family since the death of his wife, a year ago. The fact is that since I had taken the store business and was conducting it on my own account he had suggested an arrangement whereby my name and credit was to be used in a way to shield his property from his creditors and he reap the benefit.
At the time, he held the note given by Mr. Tuthill and myself when we purchased the goods from him, on which some $2,000 remained yet to be paid, and I had agreed to see it satisfied and knew I could do it. I conceived
125an idea that he would give the note up to me for the goods I had and enough besides to liquidate the note, and the store to be continued in my name yet belonging to him. Under such impression I took occasion to say to him that I desired to be the real owner of any property I might have, and that I could never consent to hold and claim as my own, property belonging to another. I saw he did not like what I had said and from that time for years he acted towards me as an enemy and made me great trouble, when I had never in word, thought, or deed done anything to injure him, unless to be frank as above shown was an injury, which course I had taken to repel what I could not but consider dishonesty.
Jenkins joined the Doctor John Logan faction, said Logan having married his eldest sister, whose boys John A. and Thomas M. were then becoming big enough to ride their father's race horses and to help run down and capture black men trying to escape from the southern chivalry to where slavery could not live and to howl for democracy and against me in this county as I was a Whig, and they all joined in to effect my ruin and to take away my living. I had the good people of the county at my back, however, and I resisted to the best of my ability the
126assaults of my foes. I tried to perform my duties faithfully and keep along with other matters as best I could. I removed my wife and our few household goods from the Manning house to a better building on the Public Square in which was a storeroom arranged for showing and selling goods, into which I moved my merchandise, and there I lived and kept store under the same roof. Business was dull, money being very scarce and the times stagnant and much depressed.
Nothing out of the ordinary occurred during the remainder of 1842. I had a fair trade and was getting along nicely as I thought, wife and baby well, requiring no outside help, Julia doing the housework and I the office work and the store business. In the day time I waited on customers and settled up accounts and when not so employed attended to official matters as persons called on such errands, and used as much of the nights as was required for recording deeds, writing up the court records, and keeping my store books in order.
I managed so that I could do all my night writing at home, thus not necessarily having to be absent from my little family at such times. Consequently I was but little in the office room in the court house, day or night, except when the County Court was in session.
127The county records and files of the courts, however, were all kept in the office, except such books as I had at my home temporarily for the entry of records. The court house was a frame two-story building, erected in the center of the square, comprising about 2 acres. The court room embraced the whole first story. The second story was partitioned off by poplar boards into an office room in the northeast corner and two jury rooms on the south side, the stair landing being in the northwest corner which was used only as a hall or open space, from which entrance into the office and jury rooms was had.
There was no school house in Brownsville at the time, and about the last of this year 1842 a man named Grover, who was a resident of the northern part of this state, stopped in Brownsville and offered to teach a school. His services being desired by persons who had children, application was made to the County Commissioners for the use of one of the jury rooms in the court house as a school room. Leave was granted and the school was commenced in the southeast jury room, which was warmed by a wood stove. The 10th day of January, 1843 was a real winter day, snowy and cold. I had no occasion to be at the court house that day. About midnight I was aroused from sleep by a
128knocking at my door, with an exclamation that "the court house is on fire." I sprang to the window and saw the light gleaming through the front windows above. There was then no fire in the office room. I was soon at the burning building, and thinking to save the records went for a ladder to reach the office window farthest from the fire. With the help of others a ladder was brought and placed with its top end resting on the window sill, while all was yet dark within the office. I ascended the ladder and broke in the sash and entering, started towards the place where the most important records were kept. But the room was full of smoke and being out of breath from the violent exertion I had been making, I retreated to the window, thinking to inhale a full breath of fresh air and then return and throw out of the window as many of the records and papers as I could. I reached the window and was starting back towards the records, when Mr. Grover, who had just ascended the ladder, seized my arm and drew me back to the open window, saying it was sure death to enter. He had seen the flames bursting through the thin partition into the room, and when I looked I saw that I could do nothing but get out. With his help I effected that and by the time I reached the ground the flames had
129filled the room and were rushing out of the window and nothing in the office was saved.
The destruction of the Court House and the records of the county was a sad calamity to our people at large, and was very serious to me personally. I lost nearly all of my private papers and some books and other articles, besides quite a large amount of fees probably exceeding one thousand dollars, due me for recording deeds etc., the evidence of which was utterly lost by the burning of the books.
The Legislature was in session at the time, and at a County Commissioners' Court, convened soon after the burning, I was appointed to go to Springfield to represent the matter and solicit such action for relief as could be given.
A law was enacted by which William Doty, Jefferson Allen, and Willis Allen, the last named a resident of Williamson County, were appointed a Board of Investigation to hear proofs in reference to the burned records and to restore the same as far as possible. My name was inserted in the law as Secretary of the Board.
Within a month after the Court House was destroyed, Mr. Jenkins made unfriendly demonstrations against me in regard to the remainder of the note which had been made
130to him by Mr. Tuthill and myself when we took his stock of goods, all of which had been paid except about $1,500. I could not satisfy him in reference to the matter, and in fact did not wish to pay him anything further, as we together with Mr. Manning a year or more previously had signed as security for Jenkins an obligation to the amount of two thousand dollars or over, which had become due and we desired to have the balance we owed placed as a credit upon this obligation.
This debt was now due and the holder of it was Harry Wilton, who resided at Hillsboro. I had seen him in Springfield in January, and on my return home had traveled in company with him. By his invitation had stopped at his house over night and we had some conversation over what arrangement I could make so that what Tuthill and myself owed Jenkins could be turned over to him on the indebtedness he held against Jenkins for which we were security. He was a clever man and an active trader in stock and he agreed to see Jenkins and get him to give up our note to be applied upon the obligation of Jenkins in his hands.
He did so and the transfer was made, after which he came to me in Brownsville, and I sold him the goods I had in the store at cost prices with ten per cent off. We invoiced
131them and the net value was about $1,200. I also let him have a wagon and two horses and the balance of what we owed on the note to Jenkins, amounting to $1476.75, was satisfied with money. This arrangement was consummated Feb. 20, 1843.
Being now without any store to keep I could put in my time settling up accounts, collecting debts, and looking after the duties of the offices I held and getting into shape the matters thrown into confusion by the disastrous conflagrations no longer being seriously troubled by the maliciousness and spite still manifested against me by Jenkins and his Logan relatives. I did not owe him or them anything and could well afford to despise their hatred.
The Board of Investigation for the restoration of the lost records met and organized early in the spring. As the secretary of the board my time was fully occupied the remainder of the year in the duties of that position. I had to write up a Journal of the proceedings of the board, to re-record all the deeds and other documents that had been of record and were favorably passed upon by the board, and also to make entry of all matters established before it in regard to the orders, judgments and business in the Probate, Circuit and County Commissioners' Courts
132as well as the Recorder's office of the County. It was aimed to restore the records as completely as possible and there was plenty of work to do, a good share of which fell upon me.
The question of the removal of the county seat was sprung upon the people soon after the fire and the Legislature by an act authorized its submission to the voters at the next election, which would be held in August, 1843. The ballots were to be "For" or "Against" removal and if a majority appeared for the project three persons were named in the law to select the site for the new county seat.
Three of the offices I held were also to be filled at this election. Probate J. P., Clerk of the County Court, and Recorder. I was a candidate for re-election. The Jenkins-Logan clique brought out opposing candidates and resolved that at all hazards I should be defeated. It may reasonably be supposed that I had a rather rough and rugged road to travel for a while at least.
Jenkins had returned to this county and was staying at his brother-in-law's place. Old John Logan, who had taken upon himself the role of "doctor," was a most bigoted incompetent, and zealous partisan for Van Buren democracy, and because I dared to
133be on the other side and to boldly declare my views and vote the Whig ticket, I must be crushed. Jenkins was out of business, so put in his time ranting his spite at me.
It affords me small gratification now to refer to anything in reference to the vile measures resorted to in that canvass by the parties named, especially Jenkins, who seemingly let himself loose under the direction and control of the evil one for my destruction. They have both gone to their final account and I hope before the end came they made due repentance and were pardoned, but the wrong done me is a part of the sad experience that has fallen to my lot and therefore must be noted.
There was no printing office in the county at the time of which I write. The nearest place at which printing could be had was in Wiiliamson County. A man by the name of Willeford there had a press on which he could print handbills. Jenkins concocted a lot of villainous stuff which he divided up into hand bills and had struck off by Willeford, and just before the election was to be held he went about over the outskirts of the county and set the things afloat scattering along the, road in the settlements where my friends lived and giving them only to such persons as were deemed trusty against me.
Some however fell into the hands of those true to me and they brought copies to me so that I might know the underhand and sneaking tricks of the enemy. It was not more than three or four days before the election that the base scheme came to my knowledge and the difficulty of counteracting it may easily be conceived.
At Brownsville, a large number of voters assembled early. In those days a voter could put in his vote at any precinct of the county. Consequently many always attended elections at the county seat, because they could look after other matters there the same day. Jenkins and old Johnny Logan came to town early and with radiant looks on their faces, passed to and fro among the crowd, casting occasional furtive glances at me with a chuckle signifying self-gratulation at what they doubtless thought an achieved success. I said nothing but bided my time and when I thought it had come I mounted a wagon and called the attention of the persons present to the fact that I desired to talk to them a little about the electioneering scheme that had been set afloat by my enemies to defeat my election.
Jenkins and Logan at once took positions close up to the side of the wagon, fierce and bold, as though they expected that in their
135mighty presence I would be dumbfounded and unable to say a word, but they reckoned without their host for once. Indignation gave me voice and their attempted injury made me fearless of them.
I had procured copies of the lying handbills they had put forth. I read each, denying the charges and the malignant innuendoes and false assertions with all the power of language I possessed. I denounced the author of the vile publications as a sneaking falsifier of the truth, who was seeking in a most dastardly manner my defeat in the election and I demanded proof. The crowd cheered me as I talked and listened eagerly for more. As I progressed, Jenkins and his comrade evidenced their discomfiture by their falling countenances and lowering hat brims and the loud and long-continued Hurrahs for "Brush" that went up from my friends, showing that they were largely in the majority on the ground, seemed to convince the conspirators that they were in the soup and had better sneak away, which they soon did without saying a word in support of their action. They left the town and were not seen again in its streets for days. The election resulted the best two out of three in my favor. By a small majority I was defeated for Probate Justice of the Peace.
136Free whiskey and their lies had some influence.
Removal of the county seat from Brownsville was decided yea at the election and the men named to select the new location proceeded soon thereafter to view out the ground and finally made choice of a twenty-acre spot on said Logan's farm, he magnanimously offering 20 acres of ground as an inducement. He owned the land all around it, but the commissioners were his cronies, and were willing to give him all advantages, and supposing, doubtless, that 20 acres, then not worth more than five dollars per acre, would be sufficient for county seat purposes, accepted the bonus and there drove their stakes. The new town was named Murphysboro after one of the commissioners. In due course the 20-acre patch was laid out in lots by the county surveyor and when plotted he doubled his fees for the job (he was allowed by law in those times 25 cents for each lot platted) by drawing a line through each lot as he had surveyed them, thus making two lots in place of one.
There was great dissatisfaction manifested in various parts of the county at the choice made by the commissioners, and especially at the stinginess of the donation of land, and had it been possible to have another election
137as between Brownsville and Murphysboro, Brownsville would have won. A petition to divide the county was started and obtained the signatures of a majority of the voters. A majority was obtained requesting the county commissioners not to proceed with any public works at the new location until the question of dividing the county was settled, but they refused to obey and advertised a sale of lots in Murphysboro to be held in September.
The sale of lots was held in the new town on the 20th day of September 1843. I attended, and soon discovered that the clique had combined to prevent me from buying a lot. I found this out by observing that when I bid on a lot some one of the enemy took a notion to run it up to a higher figure than it was worth. I therefore made a quiet arrangement with a friend to bid off such lots as I indicated. By this means I got such as I wished at lowest rates. In fact I secured a whole block, which contained six or eight lots, quite enough for my purposes. I continued to make bids on other lots, and the spoonies ran them up to about double their value and got them. Jenkins was there, seemingly in the lead, but they slipped up on effecting their unworthy object.
I put men to work and by the next spring had my ground cleared off and fenced and a
138comfortable house of five rooms erected and made ready to receive my family. It answered our purposes well during the ten years of my stay in the place. It and the lots, including a barn and other outhouses, cost me about seven or eight hundred dollars and when I was through with the property turned it into a thousand in cash, so my enemies failed to hurt me very much after all their scheming.
I put in the remainder of the year and until the spring of 1844 in close work in restoring the burnt records, attending to my official duties, and settling up the store business. I paid the debts I owed and prepared to remove the records to the new county seat as soon as a place to keep them and me should be ready.
By the middle of March I was ready to occupy my house in Murphysboro but was prevented from going just then by the birth of our second child, a daughter, on the 16th of that month. We named the newcomer Lucretia Charlotte, remembering both her grandmothers on the occasion. About the first of April, however, the mother and infant being able to travel, I moved my goods and chattels over and took up residence in the famous or rather infamous new town. I had secured a little ten by sixteen foot room in
139the corner of a one-story frame shell fronting on the square, into which I crammed the official records and documents belonging to the county and there opened up business. I was well ahead of the hounds that aimed at my destruction and when they found that rather too hard a job they had seemingly determined that they would keep me out of their county seat, but I knew that I had a majority of the people of the county at my back and I decided not to be slain or annihilated unless it should be effected by brute force.
I attended closely to my own affairs and was always ready to serve friends or enemies in the office, entering into no quarrels or strife, but having as little to do with the malcontents as possible and they making no open attack on me. I got along quite comfortably.
An old weatherboarded one-story hulk having a rough floor laid in was found somewhere in the neighborhood and rolled onto the ground in which the spring term of the court was held. It had no rooms for offices or for the accommodation of juries, but for several years it was used to hold the courts in. The town improved but slowly and it was years before another dwelling as good as mine was erected.
When I located in Murphysboro there was no store there and on April 20, 1844 John M. Hanson, who had married my wife's eldest sister, and myself agreed to commence a small mercantile business in the village.
The capital was six hundred dollars to start on. I had shelves put in the little room I had secured for a writing place, and a counter across the back end, and in this building we opened up for trade. The good people of the vicinage came and bought. To the envious and malignant clique opposed to me this was like a red nag to an angry bull. The anger of their chief was savage and his threats of vengeance upon me were dire. I knew I owed him nothing while he owed me about $80 that I never expected to recover, and I kept still and waited.
The threatened vengeance of Jenkins against me was not long in taking shape. The term of Circuit Court for this county was to be held about the yd Monday May (1844) and to that term he instituted suit in assumpsit against me claiming $3,000 damages. My recollection is that he did not file his declaration in the suit so as to have a trial at that term or the next, his aim being, as I supposed, to hold the weapon of his malice over me as long as possible that he and his strikers might have as long time as
141possible to gloat over the ruin he was going to bring down upon my devoted head, and tantalize me as a cat does a captured mouse before giving it the mortal crush.
I continued right along with my business and waited. Our little store nourished and we increased its capital as we got money to put in, and had a very good trade. Many of our old Brownsville customers resided not far away and were glad to trade with me, as I had always done the fair thing by them. Mr. Hanson was also well liked. He was honest and people knew it, so they were not afraid of our firm.
Nothing of importance happened during the summer. In the fall there was a good deal of sickness. The unaccountable disease called Milk Sick was prevalent, brought on by using milk of cows that were allowed to run at large on the range in the Muddy River bottom. I believed that the complaint was only a malignant type of bilious fever and could not be brought on by drinking milk, so I let my cow go to the range and drank her milk when I felt like it, but when her sucking calf took the Trembles I quit using it. Not long afterwards the disease struck me, and for two or three months I was of but little account. My system seemed fully saturated with the poison, which finally
142worked its way out in risings like boils on various parts of my body and my hands especially became very sore and painful. I changed my notion about Milk Sick and thereafter kept my cows up in the season of its appearance.
During the winter and spring of 1844-45 I built a store house on my own lot near my dwelling, 20x36 feet in size and two stories high, into which we moved our store early in March and found it much more convenient than the room we had occupied before. The Circuit Court was to be held in April and I determined to have a hearing if possible in the case Jenkins had instituted against me. After Jenkins had commenced suit against me, in looking over the trunk in which I had
143kept my clothes in the court house office before I was married and which I had taken to my home afterwards, I found a bundle of my private papers, and among them the list of notes I had selected out of his old lot to make up for one thousand dollars I had advanced him in money, of which amount he then owed me $343.42. The notes so selected Jenkins had transferred to me on May 3, 1839 by endorsement on the list "for value received."
This paper Jenkins must have supposed was lost in the fire, as he charged me in his suit with the amount of the notes I had selected and paid him for, and had subpoenaed the persons who had paid me on them to appear in court to prove such fact to establish such payments against me. The discovery of this list rejoiced me, because I knew it would be very valuable in my defense, but I said nothing about it, except to my attorneys. Some time before the trial a man named Marshall, with whom Jenkins had boarded, called on me of his own accord and after some conversation in reference to the case said to me that he could probably testify to some facts that Jenkins had admitted to him that might be of advantage to me on the trial of the suit. He did not say what the facts were but promised me that he would
144attend court when the trial was to be heard if I would let him know. He was then about moving away from the county but he in formed me where he expected to locate.
Finally court week came, commencing, think, on the second Monday of April. I hired a man to go for my witness Marshall and he was on hand in due time. The case was called early in the week and the parties announced themselves ready. William H. Stickney and H. W. Billings were attorneys for Jenkins. I had John Dougherty and David J. Baker. The plaintiff brought out his big list of old notes, judgments, and accounts aggregating $2,052.97 which had been turned over to me to collect, paying him one-half of the amount collected and keeping the other half for my trouble. Then he introduced his witnesses to prove they had paid me money on notes, etc., payable to him. The proof he made mostly applied to the notes I had taken for cash advanced to him, very little of the evidence he adduced applying at all to the big list.
When he was through I presented proof showing that nearly all the claims in the big list were worthless and uncollectible. I proved by Marshall that Jenkins had admitted to him that I had paid over $400 or $500 on the claims in that list and adduced other items
145pertinent to the issue, and when I was through with my witnesses I was asked by the court if I had any further testimony in the case. Whereupon I drew forth my list of notes taken from Jenkins for the balance of one thousand dollars in cash I had advanced him, and said to the court that I held in my hand a paper that I offered in evidence if the court would permit it to go to the jury. The court somewhat eagerly held out his hand and said "Let me see it." He took the paper and after examining it, remarked, "It may be read in evidence. Let the jury hear it." Whereupon one of my lawyers read the list, with the transfer thereon signed by Jenkins. He was utterly dumbfounded and the blackness of despair seemed to settle on his countenance. Caught in his vile scheme to wrest by fraud and falsehood money from me to which he knew he was not entitled, he knew not which way to turn. He soon disappeared from the court room and was not present anymore at that trial.
I had produced in evidence a note of forty dollars that Jenkins owed me, also an account for goods I had let him have in Brownsville to the amount of $39.25-$79.25. The case was submitted to the jury without argument and in a very short time it returned a verdict in my favor for $326.60, greatly rejoicing
146my friends who were anxiously awaiting the result. Jenkins' attorneys entered a motion for a new trial, whereupon I remitted all of the amount found in my favor except $79.25, which was justly due me from Jenkins, and the motion was overruled.
After this crushing rebuke to my adversary, he and his coadjutors the Logan tribe, sheered off and let me alone for some time. Jenkins took to wife an elderly maiden lady, a schoolteacher at Belleville, and they lived a while together with the children at Brownsville and then removed to Memphis, Tennessee. I may have occasion to mention them again farther on.
The remainder of this year (1845) transpired without any very important matters happening. We had a fair trade and in the late fall and winter took in country produce to the amount of a thousand or twelve hundred dollars which was shipped to Memphis by flatboat in the spring of 1846, Mr. Hanson going along and selling the stuff at a small loss, say about $35 on the lot. We could stand this pretty well, as we had thus turned goods into money and our profits on the goods recouped our loss and we were still ahead.
In the fall and winter of 1846 we had two flatboats built and purchased pork, wheat,
147corn, etc. to the amount of about $3,500 to load the boats to take down the River. It happened that in the spring of '47 there was a scarcity of such produce as we had purchased and prices advanced.
Speculators came to us from St. Louis and offered to buy our boats and all the stuff we had to load them with at a price that would yield a good profit and we concluded to sell and did so, clearing some five or six hundred dollars. Here the Logan-Jenkins spite again bared its cloven hoof in trying to poison the minds of the purchasers when they came to receive the produce, intimating that it might be well to watch out for their interests in the weighing etc., and so young John A. Logan, then a dapper boy of 18 or 20 years, was brought along to witness. I understood the move but did not care as I knew no wrong doing on our part was intended. The persons who purchased were French, and did not fully understand English. They soon discovered that we designed no wrong to them and we had no trouble. They got what they bought of us. We received of them the money for it, and they went on their way rejoicing and, I understood, made good sales.
Aside from business, sad times came upon Murphysboro people this winter (1847) in the shape of scarlet fever that broke out in most
148malignant form in midwinter and claimed victims from almost every family. In some households every child was taken. Myself and wife tried to shield our two children, Rowland and Lucretia, from the scourge by keeping them close at home and away from exposure. A girl of about 12 years that we had taken to raise at her father's request, notwithstanding our strict orders not to go to any house where the disease had made its appearance, called in at a neighbor's where there was a case, and the first we knew about it she was attacked and very bad off with the fever. We hired a girl whose father resided with his family a few miles in the country to help us take care of the sick one and in a very short time she was stricken down. Her sister then came to nurse and it was not long until she, too, was prostrated. Then our two little ones were attacked and so we had five cases of the pestilence in our small house at the same time.
The sickness attacked our children very differently. The boy was chilly and cold, and his throat and lungs soon became affected and he was hoarse as with violent cold, while Lucretia from the first was burning up with fever. I sent to Du Quoin for Doctor Wall who had a reputation as a successful physician. He came but misapprehended, as I think, the
149difference in the two cases. He required both to be kept cool and treated them as would probably have been entirely proper where the fever first developed; the treatment suited the little girl's case but was just the reverse with the boy as it increased the obstruction in his throat and lungs and induced croup which caused his death. He was not even confined to his bed and we did not consider him dangerously sick, but his hoarseness increased and the time soon came when his windpipe became so clogged with phlegm that he could not breathe, and at the last he rushed into my arms and looked up in my face in silent appeal as though he thought I could give him relief, and choked to death in my arms. No soul can depict my anguish at that time. I thought no greater could befall me but there was in store for me a sorrow much more poignant, when his mother died.
Our remaining child, Lucretia, was at death's door for months. We were up with her nights and taking rest by turns for months. Her throat was very much affected and swelled into a great lump on one side that had to be lanced to let the dead matter escape. We called in Doctor Sams, whose close attention and watchful care I think saved her life.
Our firm (Brush and Hanson) again purchased pork and other produce of the country in the fall and winter of 1847-48. We had three flatboats built, each about 60 feet long and 10 feet wide. The gunwales were hewn out of large yellow poplar trees to a thickness of 8 inches and three feet, or as wide as the tree would square. Then a rabbet 2 inches deep by 6 inches wide was cut out on the bottom edge of each gunwale and 2-inch poplar planks 20 feet long were well pinned on with one-inch tough wood pins, and also pinned to each of five stringers that were placed lengthwise of the bottom and well secured at each end, front and rear, to make strong support for the bottom plank. Studs were inserted in the upper edges of the gunwales and 2-inch plank to the height of say three feet above the gunwales strongly pinned to the studs. Such work, with a roof of long boards that reached from side to side of the boat rounding up in the center sufficiently to cause rain to pass without leaking too much into the loading, with a long steering oar and two side oars, with the craft manned by a pilot at the steering oar who had knowledge of the channel and draft of water so as to avoid snags and sawyers and sandbars and four stout men to shove the sweep or side oars, with a cabin boy to cook, made up the
151broadhorns of the Mississippi River and other western waters in the early times. Our three boats were of this genus, and were loaded to the full with the various articles we had purchased mostly in the way of trade, corn forming the greatest bulk, then pork in salt, and bacon with lard in kegs, venison hams, navy beans, with dried fruit etc. made up the cargoes.
We waited for a rise in Big Muddy River, which usually came in the latter part of February, before we put the stuff on board. Then we had to rush things to be loaded and ready to move with the flood before the waters began to fall, as they subsided very quickly and if the Mississippi chanced to be low, as it commonly was in early spring, the current would be swift and a broadhorn would run many risks of grounding on a gravelly bar or sticking fast in mid stream upon a sunken rock or mud imbedded log.
When our three boats were in starting condition they all lay in the river at Murphysboro ferry. Our aim was to run them out of Muddy singly, as its current was not wide enough to have even two of them lashed together, so that they might be steered by one man. I had engaged an old boatman, who knew the Mississippi well, to be chief pilot, but he knew little of the crooks and turns of
152the Big Muddy. However, as he knew how to handle a boat in any water I put him in charge of the most valuable boat, loaded with our costliest articles, and he was to lead the convoy. The next best man I could command I put in charge of the second boat, and he was to follow the first boat at a safe distance, whilst I as half-owner, supercargo, and general director of the enterprise, and in my opinion the third best helmsman available, assumed the steering oar and chief control of the third craft.
It was calculated to get out of Big Muddy the best way we could and then lash the boats together and put them under direction of the expert pilot whose name was Dunn.
About the first of March, all things being ready and crews aboard, the order to cast off was given to each boat in succession. The gang planks were pulled in and the boats moved out into the current one after another, so as to have about one-fourth of a mile between them. The river was banks full and the water ran swiftly, consequently the movement of the fleet was rapid. We got along very nicely until near night fall, when the middle boat ran upon a log and stuck. I steered my boat safely by and landed, as did the first boat in line, and all hands went to
153work with a will to haul the fastened craft from its dangerous position.
The water was lowering and we well knew that unless relief could be provided promptly there would be a wrecked boat and a lost cargo. Night was upon us, a snow storm was raging, and the surging waters were rolling madly along. We built fires on the bank to give us light and rigged a windlass on the shore with cable attached and fastened to the boat, and with levers and all other contrivances we could think of, worked away and after several hours were rewarded by loosening the grip of the sunken log upon our craft and she swung off and was afloat. A meal was prepared and eaten with such relish as the day's exertions were calculated to produce. The crews were piped to quarters with injunctions to be ready at dawn to move out into the stream, with the expectation that by nightfall we would be out of the Muddy and in the Great River.
When the morning came it was discovered that the water was falling fast. We hastened to cut loose and everything went well for some time. We passed the Swallow Rock and the large stone in the middle of the stream on which numerous boats had been wrecked and continued on without difficulty until we reached a gravelly bar that extended
154almost across the river's bed, leaving only a narrow space, not much wider than a boat, for a passage way.
The first boat went through without grazing the bottom, but the second headed too much to the left and ran bow on to the bar. The stern swung round into the channel and grounded hard and fast. The boat I was steering came speedily down and I had hard work to avoid striking the stationary craft, but sheered off and successfully followed the narrow space left me. I landed as soon as possible and returned with my men to free the grounded boat. We soon ascertained that this could not be done. The bar was nearly flat and the water was falling. The boat soon became immovable and by the next day the water had receded so much that it was stranded high and dry, so that one could walk all round it without touching water.
The boat in advance kept on and got through the rapids at the mouth of Muddy all right and made a landing in the Mississippi. The boat I handled was safe at the shore but could not be taken through and so we had to wait for another rise in Muddy, which did not come for about two months. I had the boat on the bar banked up all round so as to keep the bottom planks from shrinking,
155and I also filled her inside with water enough to cover the bottom and thus preserved the seams from opening when she should again be afloat. I placed a reliable man on each boat to protect the vessel and cargo, and went on to Memphis with the boat that had gained the Mississippi. There I disposed of its contents and was home again about the middle of April, prepared to attend the two captive broadhorns. Not long afterwards heavy rains fell and the river began to rise. I put hands aboard the imprisoned boats and before many days elapsed the grounded boat was afloat again. The other boat was cast loose from the bank and after a safe and uneventful voyage of three weeks New Orleans was reached and I was home again on June 5th, ready for whatever might next come up. I found that a son had been born to me on May 9th and in my absence had been named Daniel H. Brush Jr. by its mother.
The office of Circuit Court Clerk had been made elective at the last term of the Legislature. Before this appointments had been made by judges of the court and I had been appointed by each judge who had sat on the bench in this county since 1836. The election was to be held Sept. 4, 1848. Having served the people ten years under appointments, I thought it well enough to ask an endorsement
156by the voters, notwithstanding they were mostly Democrats and I had not tried to conceal the fact that I was a Whig and had been all along from the date of my first vote for President in 1836.
The Logan tribe—my old time enemies—brought out their man and put forth every effort to effect my defeat, telling every mean thing they could invent about me and overriding the country striving to poison the minds of my friends. They failed signally as before. The people were for me and the returns exhibited a large majority in my favor.
In this same month of September, 1848, Hanson and myself concluded to dissolve partnership. No word of disagreement had ever passed between us, but our business had grown and more goods were needed to be kept in stock than my storehouse could display to advantage. He prepared a store room in the building he had erected in Murphysboro for a residence, having removed here from Brownsville, and we agreed to divide our partnership property, notes, accounts, etc., each partner taking half, and continue in trade separately, not working in opposition, but in amity, and with the view of better accommodating our customers with such goods as they wanted. We knew that they believed us to be honest and that they
157could deal with either, secure from fraud or wilful wrongdoing.
I take pleasure and a personal pride in saying here that I never knew a more upright, conscientious, and honorable business man than John M. Hanson. He was intelligent, diligent in whatever he undertook, economical in his habits, yet liberal in his dealings with others, and well supported by an industrious and prudent wife. No wonder that they succeeded in accumulating wealth. He was from England, he came to America with his father, who had a large family, and located in this county, John being then about 20 years old. He soon after married Lucinda Etherton, eldest sister of my first wife, commenced teaching a country school, and died when about sixty three years old, worth $60,000.
Having closed up the business of the firm I made a synopsis of the partnership affairs which revealed our total profit from April 30, 1844, when we commenced business, to Sept. 28, 1848 when we dissolved as $10,190.45. Not a bad showing I take it from the eight-hundred dollars capital we started with. We had worked hard and not lived fast, and had each about $3500 to move on with.
Sept. 29th, 1848 I commenced merchandising on my individual account in my own
158storehouse in Murphysboro, my capital consisting of the Brush and Hanson goods that came to me, $963.86, and cash I put into the business $1568.77, total stock $2532.63. I had a fair trade from the start. Early in October I visited St. Louis to get supplies, purchasing $500 worth for Hanson and two thousand dollars worth for my own store, making me a very complete outfit in business. I let Mr. Hanson have about $300 worth at cost, besides the $500 above noted, so our stores were nearly equal in goods and we both went right along with our good customers, quietly and harmoniously.
When winter came I took produce in trade and bought pork, corn, etc. paying some cash. I built a sixty-foot flatboat and when the river was navigable loaded up, and about the first of March, 1849 shoved out and without serious mishap entered the Mississippi and proceeded south to a market.
In due time we landed at Memphis and on looking over the situation I concluded to sell out where I was and get back home to my business as soon as possible. March 17th I sold out, my boatload amounting to about $2500. Net Profits $218.37.
I remained in Memphis several days settling up my flatboat venture. During this
159time news of the cholera epidemic at New Orleans and at other towns down the river caused much alarm, especially about the wharf at which all up-river steamboats landed to put off and take on freight and passengers. When I was ready to leave I went to the wharf to await the first northbound vessel and found several others there who had the same intention. The cholera question was the principal subject of discussion among them and some appeared greatly alarmed, while others were quiet and said but little.
Some said they would not go on a boat if there were any cholera cases aboard, but I resolved to take the chances and at night went to a room to sleep, giving orders to call me promptly should an up-bound boat come alongside in the night. About midnight I was aroused and hastily dressing I paid my bill and started for the steamer. When I reached the gangway I noticed one of the persons who had said that he would not travel on a vessel that had cholera on board rapidly leaving the boat, and on asking the reason he replied, "the cholera is here" and rushed back to the wharf. I said nothing but went to the clerk's office, where I found the boat was destined up the Ohio River and I would have to leave it at Cairo.
160I paid passage to that point, took a state room, and went to bed, making no enquiry about cholera.
Next morning I was up pretty early. I soon observed men with little bottles and they appeared to be dosing themselves. Soon breakfast was announced and after eating took a chair to the forward guard and seated myself to view what was to be seen. The river was high, the waters covering the banks and most of the bottom land, so that only once in a while did an elevated spot appear. In a short time the ship landed at such a hillock and buried the body of a cholera victim. This scene was repeated quite a number of times before Cairo was reached. I tried to keep a stiff upper lip and remain collected and composed, but the experience was not very exhilarating or comfortable. I left the vessel at Cairo and went on board a wharfboat kept there by a Mr. Smith, who had his wife with him. They both seemed very much alarmed about cholera. I boarded the first boat that arrived for St. Louis, got off at Grand Tower, and reached my home safe and sound. I heard afterwards that Mr. Smith and his wife died of the scourge soon after I was on his boat.
About this time my brother James, having disposed of his interest in the lumber business
161in this county, in which he had been engaged in company with Josiah Gorham and others, running circular saw mills, manufacturing poplar lumber for the St. Louis market, desired to start a steam saw mill in Alexander County. He had found a desirable location with a large supply of poplar timber two or three miles back of Thebes and he solicited me to furnish some means he needed to procure an engine and help him start the business. Finding that I could command sufficient money I agreed to do so. He thereupon visited Alexander County and bargained for several hundred acres of standing timber belonging to a Mr. Bracken, adjacent to which was government land subject to entry, covered thick with the finest yellow poplars, some of the trees being six or more feet in diameter at the ground, running up to eighty feet in height without a limb.
He believed, and I agreed, that in so favorable a location, with a first-class steam circular saw mill to turn the trees into lumber for the St. Louis market, the business could be made much more profitable than he had found it in Jackson County. Consequently we visited St. Louis towards the latter part of May, 1849 where we bargained for an eight-hundred-dollar engine to be made of the best material and workmanship and to
162be ready for us at an early day. We found Alexander P. Gross, who was a superior millwright in St. Louis, and we got him to oversee the work. At that time our brother Rowland was residing at Peru on the Illinois River and James and I concluded to pay him a visit, and took passage on a small steamer that was plying on the Illinois River.
While we were at Peru news came that the cholera was raging at St. Louis and other river towns, and was becoming prevalent on the river boats. We paid but small attention to these reports, and when our visit was over we returned by boat to St. Louis. The weather became very warm with a most unusual oppressiveness in the air that rendered breathing difficult. We reached St. Louis on Thursday afternoon and spent the night at a first class hotel, both in good health. Next morning we ate our breakfast and having matters to look after in different parts of the city went our separate ways, intending to start for home that afternoon.
In going about the city we observed the signs of growing panic over the cholera situation. In the business houses I visited alarm was depicted on the countenances of owners and employees alike. Some were taking medical preventives and little else seemed to be going on. It was so hot and sluggish in the
163streets and in the houses that suffocation overcame one, and I experienced an indescribable sensation that the actions of those I came in contact with were not promotive of allaying. We sat down to a good dinner in our hotel, of which I partook with a relish. I took no preventives, not even a glass of brandy which was offered me in one of the offices I visited.
The steamboat we were to leave on did not depart until four or five o'clock in the afternoon. In due time we went on board and when the steamer moved out with her head down stream the fresh breeze we encountered soon overcame the oppressiveness of the St. Louis streets. We enjoyed the change and congratulated ourselves upon our escape from the scourged city. It was a fearful day there, and as afterwards reported more deaths by cholera occurred than on any other one day of the epidemic.
The next morning, June 9th, 1849 I left the boat at Grand Tower Landing, while James went a few miles farther down to a landing from which it was more convenient for him to reach his home five or six miles southwest of Murphysboro. As we parted we said to each other that in case sickness should come to either, the other should at once be advised.
The next day was Sunday. All nature seemed bright and cheerful and I anticipated the enjoyment of a pleasant Sabbath with my wife and children. About 10 A. M., however, a messenger appeared with word from brother James that he was ill and desired me to go to him, with a doctor. I was alarmed and at once started with a physician. When we reached the place, we found James up and around without pain, but having symptoms of the cholera in the shape of bowel discharges which were of that colorless watery type indicative of the dread disease. He had arrived at his home apparently all right, but in the night had occasion to be up often, and the increasing frequency of the discharges had signified to him the necessity of medical attention.
The doctor at once commenced treating him with a view to checking the dangerous symptoms, but with no success. The discharges continued to increase and it was but a little while until the patient was utterly prostrated and unable to rise from his bed. Cramps set in, commencing in the extremities of his limbs, thence gradually extending towards the vitals, accompanied by painful writhings fearful to behold. I was over him rubbing and bathing his distorted and cramped-up limbs with hot wetted cloths for hours
165without ceasing until his heart was attacked and the death struggle came for a moment and all was over with my dear brother. His sufferings after the cramping commenced were most intense, and he so signified as long as he could express his feelings. The disease ran its course in about 12 hours after the first symptoms appeared. His sudden death most powerfully impressed upon my mind the importance of preparing for the great change that would come to me as to all. I went home to Julia with the sad news and said to her that I had resolved to try to be ready and wanted her to join with me in intercessions to our God for His assistance and forgiveness, and we then and there commenced the family devotions that we ever after kept up by daily reading of the scriptures and prayer to the throne of the Most High.
The death of my brother was a great calamity to all his relatives. To his wife and family of six small children, the eldest but 12 years old, his loss was irreparable. He had commenced his married life in poverty, and with perseverent industry had just got fairly started in the way towards independence and prosperity. He was amiable in disposition and noble in character, entirely free from bad habits and honorable in his business dealings. His future promised a perfect manhood,
166of which none of his relatives need be ashamed.
The first thing to be done was to settle my brother's affairs and secure for his family the small estate he left. I at once entered upon that duty and in due time paid over to his widow her share, as also some twelve or fifteen hundred dollars belonging to the children, she having been appointed their guardian.
Soon the question of what was to be done in reference to the steam saw mill and lumber manufacturing in Alexander County came up for decision. I could not leave my home affairs to attend to milling matters fifty miles away and I was perplexed to decide what it was prudent for me to do. I finally went to St. Louis and saw Mr. Gross, the man we had employed to look after the construction of the engine and machinery we had ordered. He agreed to superintend the setting of the engine and putting the machinery in order for making lumber and I concluded to go on with the business. I therefore visited Alexander County about the last of July, 1849, and made the necessary arrangements for putting up the mill, paid Mr. Bracken for the timber he had bargained to brother James, ordered the work in St. Louis to be hurried forward as fast as possible, and
167on Aug. 25th deposited $900 to make payments on the engine, etc.
In September I employed hands to work in Alexander County making a mill shed and houses to accommodate the workers, cutting logs, etc., and sent my brother Rowland down to superintend matters, and to manage the store at the mill. The name I adopted for the enterprise was "Brush's Mills, Alexander County, Ill."
|About the first of October I sent an initial shipment of goods amounting to ...||$1,510|
|The engine, boilers and fixtures cost||1,715|
|The saw mill and saws, circular, cost||300|
|A grain mill, $150; freight and insurance $81||231|
|2 yoke oxen, $210; wagon, $75; sundry small items, $8||293|
|The right to use Page's patent in Alexander County||250|
The foregoing statement does not include the $200 contract with Bracken for timber on his land, nor the cost of mill shed, houses, etc., which increased the total expenditure before any lumber was sawed to over $5,000.
About the middle of December, 1849 the mill was ready and commenced sawing lumber and grinding corn. The machinery worked splendidly and the fine poplars were
168changed into plank and scantling at the rate of five to ten thousand feet per day, ready to be hauled to the river for shipment to market. The mill proper and its appurtenances had cost me over $4,100 and was a pretty expensive plant to handle afterwards, but I expected in time to get some of the money back. It was exhilarating to see the thing go anyway.
At the commencement of 1850 I settled with Mr. Gross paying him $380 for his services in putting up the mill machinery, setting the engine, etc., about 3 months work. Afterwards I took him as a partner in the business. I had invested in the mill and store something in excess of $8,000 and he was to give personal attention to the business and share equally with me any profits or losses. He turned in property amounting to $670 and executed a note to me without security for $3,337 with 8 per cent interest to make up for his half of the stock. Early in March I made the first shipment of lumber, ninety M. feet, on the steamer Tobacco Plant to St. Louis and sold it at IIC, making a total of about $1,000. The price was small but it yielded a very good profit and demonstrated that the business, if pushed, would give good returns.
Not content with welldoing and being ambitious "to bore with a bigger auger," Mr.
169Gross suggested that another mill could be managed with profit, if established where plenty of good poplar timber was convenient. He was an accomplished workman and a good millwright and fitter up of machinery, and these were the qualities that had induced me to take him as a partner. I had found out that it was all important to have a man at hand who knew just what to do in case of difficulty in the working of the engine or saws. He was competent to do this and withal was clever, honest, moral, and of unexceptionable habits, and yet, as I afterwards learned, he was utterly unfit to manage a business successfully. He had little idea of economy or saving money. His aim was to have everything of the best regardless of cost, and he would undertake things that were very expensive when another way or not to do them at all would have been much better. When he worked for me, as a matter of course, he did as I directed and I made the bargains and controlled the expenditures; but after I let him in as a partner I left matters to him, being myself at home attending to my Murphysboro affairs.
In looking about for timber, a ridge of virgin poplar into which no axe had ever been thrust was discovered some twenty miles below Thebes in the Mississippi bottom. It was about four miles east of Goose Island
170Landing and back of Swan Pond, a body of water lying between the timber and the river landing, to which any lumber made out of it would have to be transported. The ridge was a very desirable location for a saw mill, certainly, but it was in a wilderness surrounded by swamps, with no inhabitants near and no roads to or from it. To get to a suitable spot to place a mill, a road four miles long had to be made over marshy ground that required corduroying, and a bridge had to be built across Swan Pond, which at no season of the year could be crossed except by boat or bridge. The land the timber was growing on was vacant and purchasable from the Government at $1.25 per acre.
Mr. Gross decided to erect a mill on that ridge. In March, 1850 he went to Chester and purchased for $1,200 an old engine and boilers that had been used in an abandoned industry. They were shipped down to Goose Island Landing, and operations at Swan Pond were actively commenced. A bridge was built over the Pond at its southern end, and a road from there to the river landing was cut out and corduroyed with small trees. A foundation sufficient in area for all the mill works and machinery was prepared at large cost by laying hewn timbers of large dimensions close together lengthwise and then crossed by other similar timbers, all secured
171so as to form a solid foundation. Then the old boilers and engine required much repair work to put them in order for use, and the money advanced by me for the venture, taken from the proceeds of lumber sales from the Thebes Mill, exceeded $5,000 before a log was sawed at the Swan Pond folly. The mills there were christened "Beaver Mills"—quite appropriately, as if not under water, they were well surrounded by that element.
This mill did not get to work until fall and the expenses of running and of getting the lumber to market were so great as to preclude profit. The other mill was doing well, and cleared money, just about enough to keep both going. Operations at both mills were continued until about the first of 1853, when Gross became discouraged and wanted to quit. I was also discouraged, and felt that his continued management would result in greater loss, so I let him out.
|I gave up the note he had executed to me to make him an equal partner, which with accrued interest amounted to about||$4,200|
|I also gave him the balance he owed on the store books, say.||330|
|I also gave him the St. Louis leasehold amounting to about||470|
Soon after, I disposed of the Beaver Plant,
172selling it to F. D. Atherton for $2,000, less than half its cost.
I wound up matters at the Thebes Mill as soon as the timber I had purchased was used up, and in the fall of 1853 I took that mill to Carbondale. The losses at Swan Pond exceeded $2,500. The mill and store near Thebes cleared, up to the time I ceased operations in October, 1853, about $5,000. I calculated that I came out about even, with the engine, boilers, mill fixtures, and some other property on hand, all estimated at $2,500 in excess of expenditures. Had I hired Mr. Gross by the day at high wages, and worked to its full capacity only the mill I first put up, I have no doubt it would, in the three years it ran, have yielded me at least $5,000, and the mill clear besides. I paid up everybody and went home with the old machinery and lots of experience.
Notwithstanding the Alexander County lumber business required considerable attention from me and I had to be away from my Murphysboro store sometimes, my home trade was good and affairs there prosperous. When I made trips to the mills I usually went over the road in the night. The distance was over 50 miles. By starting on horseback late in the afternoon I could get over the ground by early morning, and thus have a couple of days to oversee matters. I
173came to know the route well and so did my pony, and neither at night nor in the day time did we go wrong. Many a time, after a day of close work at the mill, I ate my supper and then started alone on horseback for home, arriving next morning in time for an early breakfast.
In 1851 Jenny Lind, the great singer, was in St. Louis. I was in the city purchasing goods at the time, and paid four or five dollars for a chance to hear her. I was fascinated, as everybody seemed to be, and I heard her three times, and was as many times enraptured with her wonderful musical ability. I have never heard anything to equal it, and never expect to on earth.
174In the early part of 1852 the line of the Illinois Central Railroad was being located through this county. The surveyors had established the line and set the grade stakes as far north as Big Muddy River by the latter part of July, and while it was a wilderness of forest and dense undergrowth of hazel bushes, wild grape, and running rose vines all over the surface of the ground in the vicinity of where the town of Carbondale was laid out, yet by tracing the route one could gain from the stakes already set a pretty fair knowledge of the lay of the road.
I here insert some statements concerning the founding of Carbondale abstracted from a memoir which I prepared in 1862 and which I sent to the editor of the local paper on my sixty-fifth birthday, April 25, 1878.
In the summer of 1852 the line of the Illinois Central Railroad was permanently located through this county. I was then residing in Murphysboro, the county seat, and had previously determined that as soon as the road was established I would remove to some point on it which offered a reasonable prospect of doing remunerative business. Knowing that persons seemingly connected with the Railroad Company had purchased land near the present stations of De Soto and Makanda, thus indicating a design to develop
175towns at these points, I desired to find an intermediate site, where I could secure sufficient land and, if possible, induce the Company to put in a switch and make a stopping place, or at least a flag station.
About the first of August, 1852, accompanied by Asgill Conner, I commenced my search on horseback and came to a small improvement in this vicinity owned by John Brewster. Here we were compelled to leave our horses and pick our way as best we could through a dense mass of vines, briars, and tangled underbrush until we found the line of road—a path along which was cleared of the luxuriant growth—and by the grade stakes, we could see the line of survey as well as the profile of the road, and by following the line and carefully noting the numbers on the stakes, we discovered that for about one mile, through parts of sections 16 and 21 in T 9 S R I W the roadbed would be level, without much excavation or filling up at any place. This level occurring in the center of an elevated and rolling scope of territory, and being likewise about midway between the points that had been apparently selected as stations, and also being nearly upon a direct line from Murphysboro to Marion, the county seat of Williamson County, struck me very forcibly as the spot I was looking for.
I found, moreover, that the land could be purchased at reasonable rates. Thereupon the scheme of securing ground and laying out a town here was entered into between myself and my friends, Doctor William Richart and Asgill Conner, who upon examination of the ground coincided with me in thinking the site a good one, and we agreed to move together in the project. Steps were taken to secure the land, and as we were not very flush in capital, and had an idea that we could hardly hope to secure a railway station or do much towards building up a town ourselves, it was decided that I should go to Jonesboro, then the headquarters of the railroad men, and make such arrangements as I might deem most advisable for the success of the cause. I thereupon went to Jonesboro on August 27, 1852 and made known my errand to Lewis W. Ashley, Chief Engineer of the southern division of the road. The scheme was not viewed by Mr. Ashley with much favor at first but when I signified to him the precise location of the land, he saw from his maps and surveys that the ground was favorable and that a town could be built there.
I proposed to Mr. Ashley that he, together with such other employes of the road as he might designate, should become
177interested in the speculation. About that time John Dougherty stepped into the office of Mr. Ashley and upon learning the subject of discussion signified a wish to become one of the company; no objection being made, his name was put down. After deciding to go into the project and who should be participators, it was thought best that the title to the land we had or might acquire for the purpose of laying out a town should be vested in some one of the company that he might make the conveyances to purchasers of lots or to the other proprietors in cases of division and sales, thus saving trouble and expense in the making of conveyances. Thereupon, at the suggestion of Colonel Ashley, Mr. Dougherty was named to be that person, consequently the titles to all the town lands were made to him and his name was affixed to the original plats as proprietor, and he made the deeds to purchasers and distributees of the property as shown by the records.
After these preliminaries had been settled an article of agreement, of which the following is a copy, was drawn up and entered into, which will show the objects and aims of the Parties:
"It is agreed by and between the undersigned that the following described tracts of
land be purchased in the name of John Dougherty to be held by him for the use and sole benefit of the undersigned D. H. Brush L. W. Ashley, I. F. Ashley, A. Buck, I. Buck, Thos. Barnes, J. Dougherty, A. Conner, William Richart, H. C. Long, E. Leavenworth, and Joseph Koenig; that each contribute and pay his equal proportionate share of the purchase money required to purchase the same, not to exceed one hundred dollars each, to wit: The NE Åº Sec. 21 T 9 S R I W, 160 acres, E Ë NW Åº Sec. 21 T 9 S R I W, 80 acres, and S Ë SE qr. S 16 T 9 S R I W, 80 acres, and the SE qr. SW qr. S 16 T 9 S R I W, 40 acres or so much thereof as can be purchased at congress price, or such price as D. H. Brush shall deem proper. That said property be laid out forthwith in a town, the plan to be approved by a majority of the stockholders, and after being so laid out the property to be divided by sale among the stockholders in equal shares in value, on sale each share or stockholder to bid for and take in severalty his full share of said town plat to hold the same in severally and upon such sale the said John Dougherty, his executors or administrators, to convey in fee in severalty to the purchasers the respective lots so purchased by him or them. In testimony whereof
we have hereto set our hands this, 27th day of August, 1852."
In pursuance of this agreement all of said lands were secured and a town was laid out on November 24, 1852. At a meeting of the proprietors, held at the office of L. W. Ashley in Jonesboro, Nov. 25, 1852, I proposed that inasmuch as the town was in a coal region it should be called Carbondale, which was agreed to, and this name was entered upon the plat. I further proposed that lots 59, 74, 99, and 114 should be reserved for donation to such churches as should first select and build thereon, which was assented to by all the proprietors present and entered upon the plat in the following words:
"The lots donated to churches as marked on this plat are not to vest in said churches until a house of worship shall be erected thereon of stone, brick, or frame, worth at least five hundred dollars, and then to vest in fee simple in such church."
I also proposed that the sale of spiritous liquors as a beverage should be forever prohibited in the town. It was so decided by the proprietors, and a provision was entered upon the town plat forfeiting to the town for the support of the public schools the title to any lot on which spiritous liquors for use as a beverage were sold.
On January 4, 1853, the first sale of lots in the town was held. Persons who desired to establish liquor shops were in attendance and they were informed that no retailing of liquors would be permitted, and that it was desired no one should purchase a lot with a view to selling intoxicating liquors upon it. At the sale each alternate lot was offered, and sold to the highest bidder. Prices ranged from six to one hundred dollars per lot, averaging, however, only a fraction over twenty-four dollars. The other lots had been divided amongst the proprietors, November 25, 1852.
Soon after the town was laid out and the plat recorded, I made a copy of it and forwarded it to the General Superintendent of the Railroad at Chicago, said plat showing that the central square containing 9 60-100 acres had been "reserved for the Railroad Company for railroad purposes only," and asked the Company to consider favorably what we had done and make a station at this point, offering myself to erect the necessary warehouse if the Company would put in a switch, but saying I would much prefer to have the Company put up the buildings on its own account. Soon afterwards the authorities of the road ordered the erection of a freighthouse here and gave me the contract; a switch was also immediately put in, and the station established.
The railroad track was laid to this town from the south on July 4, 1854 and on that day the first locomotive came up thus far. The citizens of the town and neighborhood made a free dinner and extended a general invitation. About 2,000 men, women and children came in from the surrounding country to see, most of them for the first time in their lives, a railroad and a train of cars.
The first residence in the town was erected by James Boyd Richart, who put up a small house on lot 36 in December, 1852 and resided in it with his family at the time of the first sale of lots. Asgill Conner built the second dwelling house on lot 69 and was residing in it with his family early in the year 1853.
The first sermon in the town was preached by Rev. Josiah Wood, a Presbyterian minister, in December, 1852. He preached in an unfinished log cabin erected by Asgill Conner for a dwelling, but having only the roof on and the floor laid.
The first business house in Carbondale was started by myself. In December, 1852 I had a small house of hewn logs 18x18 feet erected on the west end of lot 17, in which I placed a stock of goods in charge of Asgill Conner, and opened up for trade about the 1st of January, 1853. The same building, somewhat improved in appearance by
182weatherboards and paint, is still standing where it was erected, and is occupied by me as a law office.
The land belonging to the Government in the vicinity of Carbondale had been withdrawn from the market; all even-numbered sections belonged to the Railroad, and the odd-numbered had been increased in price to $2.50 per acre, but could not be entered until after a certain time had elapsed, when it was offered at the Kaskaskia Land Office, at public sale to the highest bidder, and if not bid for, thereafter it was subject to private entry at $2.50 per acre. Land that had been given to the Railroad, upon which persons had settled and made improvements was allowed to be preempted at $2.50 per acre, payment to be made to the Railroad, or other land selected by it instead, title to be made to the preemptor or his assignee.
I had been looking around for such tracts as appeared to be desirable, and by purchasing out preemptors and selecting various pieces of the odd-numbered sections to an amount I had means to pay for, I secured in the neighborhood of 2,000 acres of good land. When the sale was to come off I rode from Murphysboro to Kaskaskia—40 miles in a night. I left home about dark and next morning I was in the old French town ready
183for business. I had determined to bid on the tracts I wanted when put up, in case any one should open with a bid, but in case no one made a bid I would await the time when I could make a private entry. I soon discovered that nobody present had any of the land I wanted in view. A man by the name of Dodge was there, as I took it, in behalf of the Railroad, as he was locating tracts about 12 miles apart on the line near spots that had been selected for stations. He bid in the land around De Soto and then jumped south to Makanda, having no interest in anything between these points. So I said nothing but waited. The next day I was on hand when the Land Office opened and made entry of all the tracts I had on my list, and returned home quite well satisfied with my luck. A portion of the land so secured was turned into the site for Carbondale; other portions I disposed of in various ways, quite a good deal being transferred at low price to individuals who settled in our temperance town to help along the enterprise and become good citizens, one of the best being James M. Campbell, who came from Marion and helped from the start.
In September, 1852 I purchased of John Alstyne of New York the southwest quarter of Section 21, Town 9 South Range I West,
184160 acres of very good land adjoining Carbondale southwest of the Illinois Central Railroad, for $300 cash. Later in the year the town was laid out, the timber removed from the principal streets, and the square of about twelve acres in the center of the Plat appropriated for railroad purposes, the road dividing it in half, wide streets being reserved all around the square. A portion of our 360 acres was laid off into small lots for business purposes, each alternate lot of which was allotted to the proprietors, leaving the others to be sold to the highest bidder, and they were so offered and sold at the sale held on January 4, 1853. The rest of the land was divided into out lots, twelve of which on the northern line contained ten acres each, and were assigned one to each proprietor. The other out lots were sold at auction and stricken off to the highest bidder.
I at once commenced making improvements aiming to be ready for business by the time the Railroad should reach the town. I made preparations for erecting a frame store building, and the proprietors having decided that it would be well to secure a supply of good water for town purposes and for settlers who might desire to locate with us, I set men to work digging a well on the square for public use. An excavation of about twenty
185feet brought to view solid stone of the sand formation, in which water was reached at a depth of 150 or 200 feet, but it was impregnated with salt and useless for family purposes. That source of supply being impracticable, resort was had to cisterns for the storing of rain water.
In January, 1853 I withdrew the store from my Alexander County Mill, the goods invoicing some $650, which I took to Murphvsboro. My brother Rowland removed there and I employed him in my store. I left my nephew, Daniel Harmon Tuthill, in charge of my business in Alexander County and kept the mills at work some time longer, aiming to wind up matters, however, as soon as I could, desiring to concentrate my efforts at Carbondale, where everything was waiting to be done. My Murphysboro business was prosperous. I purchased pork and sold lots of goods, and with the three business places and the two saw mills to look after I had my hands full, and gave all needed attention to official duties besides. I was lucky in having good helpers, and being robust in health and of steady habits, I was able to work all day and write half the night, if necessary, myself.
Sundays I rested, being scrupulous to observe the Holy Sabbath, as my good mother
186had trained me to do. And now in my old age I will say that such observance is wise, not alone because it is the command of God, but because, in a worldly and business point of view the rest is needed to keep one's ability to work up to the right point, and enable him to meet with renewed relish the labor of the ensuing week. My conclusion is that to abstain from work on Sunday is profitable to man and beast, to say nothing of its importance as being especially commanded by the Omnipotent and all-wise Ruler of the Universe. So I say that if you desire to enjoy life and to be just to your dumb beasts and prosperous in worldly affairs, as well as to please your Maker, "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it Holy."
|In July of this year I finished making lumber in Alexander County and all on hand, some 400,000 feet or more, was shipped to St. Louis and disposed of at prices that netted me about||$4,500|
|and the sale of the Swan Pond Mill to Atherton||2,000|
|with proceeds from 3 yoke oxen and log wagon sold to Atherton||230|
furnished me funds to pay off all liabilities remaining on account of the operations in
|The other mill, being the one I erected two miles back of Thebes, estimated to be worth||$2000|
|with a corn mill worth $125; hay cutter $25||150|
|set Smith tools $50; 5 yokes old oxen $150||200|
|cook stove, mattress, bedding, etc.||350|
I removed to Carbondale, transporting it over the hills and valleys, and along unworked and mostly little-used roads to my quarter section of land near Carbondale, where I had erected a building for milling purposes at a cost of over $4,000. The expense of getting the engine, boilers, and other machinery and articles to the new building exceeded $250. I got them to the place in September, and soon was ready to make lumber, but was delayed a month or more for want of water. There was no running stream near Carbondale and the water supply of the town was limited. As my mill was to be operated by steam, water must be had. To provide it, I selected a spot on a descending ravine where water did pass in a wet time, but as it was a dry season and no rain had fallen for months the bed of my mill site ravine, when I was ready to start and had
188logs galore to saw, was innocent of moisture and had not felt a cooling drop for months. I had a dam constructed across my expected water course, and excavated a considerable basin just above the dam to hold a good supply of the fluid when the rain should fall in quantity sufficient to fill it up. After all was ready, however, the rain did not come. I had to wait; there was no drop for me within two miles. There was a country road that passed close by the mill place, and it was not infrequent to hear travelers along it, after viewing the preparations I had made and the engine and big saws ready to work, and the dam across the ravine and the earth scooped out to hold the water exclaim: "Well, I used to think that Brush had some sense, but it is well for him that the Fool Killer don't come this way."
Weeks of anxious wishing for rain passed and none came. During the time of suspense I went over to Murphysboro one day and while I was there a tremendous storm came up, and the rain came down in torrents. I was so delighted at the sight, and desirous of seeing the water rolling into my mill dam, that I started towards home in the midst of the shower and rejoiced to have the soaking that I got. The downpour was unceasing for about four miles, when I sorrowfully noticed
189a sort of letup that became more apparent as I advanced, and when I reached within a couple of miles of my mill the road was dry and dusty; no drop of rain had fallen there or farther on. A time came, however, a week or two later when a big rain fell at Carbondale that not only filled the reservoir but broke through the dam, carrying off a considerable portion of the loose earth and brush that had been pounded in to resist the weight of the accumulation above. Enough was retained in the excavation for the water bed to set us at work sawing up the logs we had ready, and we commenced operations, repaired the dam, and never suffered for want of water afterwards. The mill worked finely, and a large quantity of lumber was made for which we had a good market in the houses building about town, and in supplying demands of the railroad people for various purposes, in constructing the road in the vicinity. I used a good deal myself in building a freight house and an extensive woodshed for the Company and my own residence, etc. and in the large mill building I erected.
In the early part of this year Jane Brush, widow of my brother James, located in Carbondale with her six children, Edgar, Elkanah, Samuel, George, Mary and James, all then quite young. She secured some lots on
190which she erected a two-story frame house, designing to keep boarders. She prepared one room for a store and with some money of her own and the money in her control as guardian of her children she purchased goods, thinking that she could make money for them and herself by merchandising. Her building expenses, however, and the cost of maintaining her family exceeded the profits of her limited capital, even had she been prepared by experience to manage carefully a stock of goods. As a matter of course she failed of success, and to make matters worse, after a few months she married an adventurer named Israel Blanchard, who for two or three months had been boarding at her house—at her expense—a man without means or honor, as was later fully shown by his conduct. He was an oily tongued, unprincipled scoundrel who married the widow to get a home, and the means she possessed.
It was not long until she began to discover her folly. He took possession of the premises, domineered over her and her children, and acted out his true character. Jane became much troubled, especially in regard to her children, and she appealed to me to take Samuel to raise. I did not care to do so as I had quite as many of my own as it was convenient for my wife to attend to, but after
191consulting her feelings I finally told Jane that I would give Samuel a home, but only on condition that she and Blanchard would indenture the boy to me to serve under the law until he was of legal age, for the reason that I did not want him unless I had full control, free from the action of herself or any one else. She agreed to this and I prepared the papers which were duly executed and approved by the Court, and the boy made his home at my house thereafter.
Work on the Illinois Central Railroad was prosecuted with much vigor in the vicinity of Carbondale as well as north and south of the town. A large amount of heavy filling and deep-cut excavation in solid rock was required. Consequently many men were employed from Big Muddy River south, to and through the hilly region that set in a few miles below our location. Carbondale, having no tippling shops, was free from drunken brawls and riots at all times, and the Sabbaths were as quiet as in any other part of the country. Those who desired to put in time spreeing away their health and hard-earned wages were compelled to go elsewhere to do so. My business much increased. I furnished needed supplies to the railroad people, and the trade of my stores enlarged and prosperity abounded.
The Mississippi had a big rise early in the season and continued high late, backing up Muddy so that there was plenty of water where the railroad bridge was to be built to permit a steamboat to transport iron for the road to that point from early spring to July l. My friend, Ebeni Leavenworth, took a contract for delivering the bars for the road there, and his steamer, Walk-in-the-Water delivered large amounts at that point. I got my goods in the same way. Everybody seemed desirous of pushing matters, and so matters were pushed. I was building a storehouse and a large building for my mill, also a freight warehouse and a woodshed for the Company, and making preparations for the erection of a dwelling for myself and family, intending to move from Murphysboro as soon as possible. In the autumn of 1853 it was decided by the proprietors of the town to offer at public sale all the remaining out lots, and a time was set and notice given. When the day came none of the proprietors except A. Conner and Dr. Richart were present and but few outsiders. The lots were offered, however, and I made bids on all not bid for by others, and many were struck off to me at what I considered less than they were worth. I therefore released them, and allowed them again to be offered, when the proprietors could be present.
193Early in 1854 my wife's sister Jane, the widow of my brother James, who had married Israel Blanchard, came to her death of grief because of his conduct, as I verily believe. Her six helpless children, except the one I had taken, were entirely unprovided for and at the mercy of the unprincipled villain who had become their stepfather, and had seized upon all her property as well as that belonging to the children, for whom she was guardian. It was at once seen that he would not care for the orphans, and that prompt measures must be adopted to save anything for them from the wreck.
The first question to be considered was what should be done with the children. My family was abundantly supplied with children and it seemed to me that I could not in justice to my wife, or in accordance with my own feelings, accept these additional charges. Still the question remained—where can they go? No offer to take one or more of them had come from any source. Finally my wife said her sister's children must be cared for, and she was willing to do the best she could for them. So we gathered them in and thus our family was enlarged, and my good wife's motherly cares extended over six helpless and parentless beings besides her own offspring. She never wavered in her charge, and as the children behaved very properly and
194were always disposed to do all they could for their Aunt and myself, we got along together with little strife or trouble.
I at once made efforts to get from Blanchard the personal property and real estate that had been purchased by their guardian with money belonging to the children, while he claimed everything their mother had left, pretending that he had made payment on the realty and that the goods belonged to the mother. I had to institute various suits against him to enforce the rights of the orphans, which were resisted by all the Satanic spite and ingenuity the villain could bring to his aid, either from his own mendacious disposition or through the management of attorneys he hired to assist him. In an action of replevin I forced him to give up the father's gold watch that had been given by the mother to the only girl, little Mary. In the Court of Chancery I obtained a decree against him, after years spent in getting the evidence into shape, to the amount of $1,200, for what as the Court in the decree said "Blanchard had eaten up and worn out," belonging to the complainants. But after the decree was obtained nothing could be collected by the sheriff, as the defendant man aged to conceal his property in such a way as to prevent its being taken on execution.
195The defendant, Israel, had a brother named Enos, who came to Carbondale soon after the town was established, who had no visible means. Not long after his arrival Israel purchased 120 acres of land in the vicinity, paying for it himself, but causing the conveyance to be made to Enos. Afterwards Enos left this county for Texas, where he married and settled down. The land here was still in his name, but Israel managed it as his own, paid the taxes and collected the rents, etc. When these facts came to my knowledge, I was satisfied that the land really belonged to Israel, and that the title had been put in Enos to cover it up to prevent it from being seized and sold for Israel's debts, particularly the decree against him in favor of the children, and I further believed that Israel held a deed from his brother Enos for the land, so he could prevent the heirs of Enos from holding the land in case of the latter's death.
I was so firm in this belief that I filed a bill in the United States Court at Springfield in behalf of my brother's heirs to subject the land to payment of the decree. In due time the cause came on to be heard. Israel was sworn in his own behalf and was pointedly asked by me whether he did not hold such a deed from his brother Enos to himself for
196said 120 acres of land. With hand upraised towards High Heaven he had sworn "to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth," and he swore that he had no such deed, but that the land was truly his brother's. Not long afterwards I was trying on another tack and was taking depositions at Carbondale. Enos had died in Texas, and his widow had come to this county to look after her rights in the land or other effects which Israel might have in hand belonging to Enos. On the day set I had given notice that I would take the deposition of the widow of Enos. Just before the hour named for commencing, the attorney for Israel came over from Murphysboro and stated that he was dangerously sick and could not be present that day, and requested a postponement until he should be able to attend. I consented to the request, as a matter of course, and it was but a short time thereafter that Israel died. An administrator of his estate was appointed, who found amongst his papers an executed deed for the land in question, made while Enos was in this region, and a proposition to settle the decree, then with accrued interest aggregating over $1,600 was offered by the administrator and accepted by Sam. L. Brush for himself and the other heirs, and the claim was settled.
I had fought Blanchard in the courts for years to make him do justice to those he had wronged—at my own costs and charges, and without a dollar of remuneration for the time I lost. A thousand dollars would not have paid me for my work, but I believed I was right and therefore I went ahead. The time involved in the litigation with Blanchard was nearly 20 years, or from the first of 1854 up to the date of his death, which occurred about 1873-74. He devised various schemes for getting rid of the decree, almost his last move being the bankruptcy dodge, which I had to attend the District Court of Southern Illinois at Springfield to resist. He failed to accomplish that scheme, which was unfinished when he died.
Not long after the sale of lots, Rev. Josiah Wood, a Presbyterian minister who resided at Murphysboro and myself, in contemplation of the early erection of a church for that denomination in Carbondale, selected Lot Number 59, the one set apart for church purposes in the southwestern quarter of the town, on which to build a Presbyterian Church. A subscription was taken up to raise funds and some money was promised but not enough to warrant a commencement, so the matter had to rest.
In June, 1854 I removed my family to
198Carbondale and occupied the house that Jane Brush had put up and partly completed. It was a very dry time and our only source of water was the Crab-orchard, a creek 2Ë miles east of town from which our supply came at 50 cents per barrel. There were no wells, and only small cisterns had been prepared—and little rain falling, the cisterns dried out early. Work was lively, however, and good humor prevailed.
I determined, if possible, to have my mill in readiness to make flour as soon as the wheat crop then maturing should come in, and to this end I hurried up the building—a large three-storied frame—about 60x60 feet square, that I was erecting to accommodate the grinding-works, bolts, etc. I also gave orders to various firms in St. Louis for needed machinery—mill stones, corn meal mills, and running gears, and when these were ready for shipment some came to me by way of Big Muddy River on Mr. Leavenworth's steam boat but the larger portion I ordered to be held until I could get them via Cairo on the Illinois Central Railroad.
Work on the road was being prosecuted vigorously from the south, and strong efforts were made to have the track laid from Cairo to Carbondale so that the first engine and cars might make a trip to the latter point on
199July 4, 1854. This design was announced two or three weeks before the Fourth and the leading citizens of Carbondale determined to have not only a patriotic demonstration because of the glorious Fourth, but also a jubilation over the arrival of the shrieking locomotive in the village.
We concluded to invite everybody within reach to be present on the joyful day. The inhabitants of the place were not numerous, but all were willing to work and resolved to make a splurge that should astonish not only the natives, but strangers and railroaders also. It was announced that a free dinner would be furnished to all, and our people took hold with a will to make the promise good. The women baked the bread and cakes, cooked the poultry and other food, and made the coffee and tea. The men killed and barbecued the beeves, the sheep, and the swine. Farmers close around contributed vegetables and other things they had to spare. For a week before the day almost every house was made a bake shop and all outdoors was in commotion. The railroaders were spacing the ties and spiking down the iron bars, while occasionally the scream of the fiery demon was heard in his approaches from the south. I had completed the freight house for the Company, but it was
200still under my control. It was fresh and sweet with the odor of green-cut lumber, and by putting shelves in the corners and along the ends excellent storing places for cooked food were made, while the body of the building afforded space for tables of plank from end to end 100 or more feet in length, arranged so that 500 persons could be seated at one time.
We had sent invitations to Cairo, to Jonesboro and Anna and Murphysboro. On the morning of the Fourth all was in readiness for the train to run up to the north line of the square and work on the road was suspended for the day. Early in the forenoon wagons with whole families in each and the household dogs following, with persons on horseback and on foot, began to arrive. They came from all the country round—men, women, children and dogs—and kept coming until at least two thousand were on the ground, most of whom had never seen a railroad or an engine or a car.
About noon the rumble of the train was heard, then came the shrill cry of the steam whistle, and soon the locomotive and cars slowed up and came to a stop opposite the freight house. The wonder-struck people shouted, some in terror and all in surprise. The horses cavorted and tried to break
201away. The dogs howled and with tails tucked between their legs stood not upon the order of their going, making hasty strides towards tall timber. The horses, scared and trembling, were mostly held in with bit and bridle, and the startled multitude, perceiving that no one was hurt, soon quieted down. A Fourth of July oration was pronounced in a grove near the station under a Union banner that I had purchased for the occasion, and the first one, I think, ever hoisted in the county.
I did not hear the speeches as I was busy inside the building, where the tables were being prepared for the dinner to be served and where the women were busy and the carvers were at work, my business being headman and waiter-in-chief. A corps of young men had been selected to wait on the tables, and I drilled them for an hour or so in their duties and allotted each one his theater of action so that conflict and confusion should be avoided. We kept the house closed and allowed no one inside but the workers until all was ready for the eaters, which was at about one o'clock. Then I sent out for special visitors that had come from a distance on the cars and desired to get away early, but the hungry crowd had massed around the building, and particularly in
202front of the large sliding doors in the center of its sides, so it was impossible to open them without a crush, to the discomfiture of everything like order in the admission of our guests. So we had to introduce such as were compelled to leave early by a private entrance at one end. Afterwards we opened one of the side doors and allowed enough outsiders to enter to fill up the tables, when we closed the doors, announcing to those who were still outside that we had plenty of food for all and requesting them to be patient.
They were, and no such body of hungry people, in my judgment, ever behaved better or more sensibly than they. The first that were admitted fared no better than the last. As soon as one tableful was satisfied they left in good order, the dishes were cleansed, the tables reset, enough of those in waiting were admitted to refill the seats, and the process was continued until all had partaken, and a great abundance of food as good as the best was left. All the workers on the Railroad in attendance—and there were a good many—all the natives of the surrounding country that came—and there was a multitude—as also all the citizens then here, probably 500 or more—in all, probably 2,500 to 3,000 souls, were fed and no word of discord
203was heard nor any disturbance made. The good fruits of our prohibition of tippling shops was gloriously manifested, there being no drunkenness and no disorderly conduct on the ground during the day.
I had laid in a lot of skyrockets, Roman candles, torpedoes, fire crackers, magic wheels, wriggling serpents, etc., and had announced that when night came a display of fireworks would be made, and invited all who desired to remain and see the sight. There was a light shower in the forenoon, enough to lay the dust and to cool the hot air. Consequently it was very pleasant in the after part of the day, and many remained to view the exhibition, probably not one in a hundred of them ever having seen anything of the sort before. Before touching off my pyrotechnics I caused those present to take positions about the freight house, as the best place to view the show. When they had done so, I placed some boxes for a rostrum near my storehouse, several hundred feet west of the freight house, from which to start the fiery missiles. The box containing the store of serpents, etc., was deposited on the ground beside my platform, so as to have the articles handy. Inadvertently, the lid of the box was left off, and the serpents and wheels and rockets and all the wonderful things to make
204up the show were exposed to any mishap that might occur.
I commenced by sending up rockets and got along finely until a contrary one was ignited. It fizzed and fluttered, and instead of ascending into outer darkness, as a well behaved skyrocket should have done, it gyrated around sometimes up a little and again down, and finally ended its course by tumbling, fire-end foremost, right into the open box containing the residue of my works. The fuses took fire, and then the fun started in earnest. Fortunately the heads of the projectiles were pointed away from the assemblage, westwardly up the main street, which had been cut out and pretty well cleaned of brush some distance up the hill. A number of canines were prowling in the rear of my position, anxious and expectant. The sparks of fire emitted from the fallen rocket had done their work, the serpents began to hiss and up the street they started squirming and jumping this way and that and seeming to sight the dogs took after them up the hill and into the bushes, wriggling streaks of fire—the scared brutes howling with fright and putting in their best licks to get out of the way. The magic wheels rolled and tumbled, the Roman candles shot forth the best they could, the crackers all popped at once,
205and the torpedoes with loud reports exploded.
The scene was highly animated and exciting while it lasted, and brought forth yells of delight from the beholders. Chagrined and abashed, I said but little. Soon, however, perceiving that most of the persons present considered the denouement legitimate, and as designed, I let the matter go without explanation. The last heard of the frightened curs was the lingering sounds of their agonized howling, dimly and faintly sounding in the distance as they ran. They may be running and yelling yet, for aught I know. And thus ended the first celebration of the Glorious Fourth of July in Carbondale, with all the participants except the dogs pleased and happy. The crowd dispersed, rejoicing and jubilant, contented with the past and sanguine of prosperity in the future, with a whoop for Carbondale and a hurrah for Illinois, and its first big railroad. The "Good Time" seemed close at hand.
In the latter part of August, 1854 I visited St. Louis to purchase goods to replenish my store, and to bring home machinery and fixtures for the flouring mill I was erecting. I went by railroad to Cairo, and thence to the city by steamer. I purchased a considerable amount of merchandise, which with the mill works made a pretty large shipment, about
206twelve tons, a good deal of the stuff being heavy and cumbersome to handle. The Illinois Central had not been opened for freight although its construction train was daily passing over the road as far north as Carbondale and beyond. I was ambitious to be the first shipper, and I therefore bargained with the Superintendent of the train to have my freight taken up on the cars, provided I would put the stuff aboard at Cairo.
In pursuance of my design, I shipped the goods and machinery on a steamer at St. Louis for Cairo. I went with it, and in due time the boat reached Cairo, and the river being quite low, my freight was put out on a low beach of sand half a mile or more away from the railroad. The boat discharged the goods about the middle of the night, and I remained alone with them on guard until the next morning, when a car on which to load them was assigned me and I sought help to place the stuff on board. It was a new thing with the Cairoites and I was a good deal troubled to find teams to haul my goods, and worse troubled to get laborers to assist in the work. Workers were scarce and lazy, and would not turn a hand short of fifty cents an hour—and even at such rates I could not secure enough to make the job a light and easy one.
207I had to exert my utmost strength time and again in loading the carts and in unloading them onto the cars, and when the job was completed I was nearer used up than ever before or since. The day was very warm, the sun beamed down upon the hoc sand relentlessly, with no water but that of the tepid Ohio River with which to quench my thirst. I suffered more than my tongue can now tell. But mine was the first freight that went by rail over the new road, and this fact yielded some compensation. The train with myself and goods on board went no farther than Jonesboro the first day. Exhausted and almost laid up, I spent the night at Doctor Condon's. The next day I reached Carbondale and had to take to my bed, where I remained with a strained back and disabled body for weeks. At my call Doctor Condon came to my relief, which he effected by a course of judicious treatment.
The freight house I built for the Railroad Company was completed this month—August, 1854—at a cost of about $1,500, yielding me a profit of $200 and finishing off a passenger room in the north end that cost the Company about two hundred dollars additional. The freight and passenger traffic on the road set in to some extent when the track was put down as far north as Du Quoin,
208and increased greatly when the road was ready for operation as far as Centralia and to Sandoval, where the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad intersected. I went up that far on the first trip made, when four locomotives appeared with heads towards each other at that point in the open prairie. The work on the Central had been going on towards the north from the crossing while the work was progressing from the south, and thus it was that engines could be there from the four directions, east, west, north, and south, at the same time. It was a grandly interesting sight to me, and I was proud to be there.
When business commenced in earnest on the Road and an agent was required at this station no one was available whom the authorities cared to appoint and I was solicited to act as station agent until a suitable man could be procured. In a spirit of pride and ambitious that the work should start off properly I consented, and looked after the business for several months with great discomfort and but little profit to me.
In September, 1854, having my storehouse in Carbondale ready for occupation, I removed my Murphysboro stock, amounting to $2,200, to Carbondale, and thus consolidated my merchandising. My business Carbondale was prosperous and greatly enlarged.
209I had the furnishing of supplies to the Railroad Company, and its contractors to a considerable extent, and the heavy work in this vicinity demanded many men during all this year, and as I made arrangements with the Company to pay my bills for supplies, I did a safe and profitable business.
I employed a good many men myself in the building of my mill and my storehouse, the depot and a large woodshed for the Company, and in preparations for my dwelling house, having the stone foundation laid, the cellar dug out and walled, cisterns excavated, etc.; and having the station to attend to besides, kept me busy. I kept the sawmill doing its best turning out lumber for the buildings I was erecting. I reserved the best for my dwelling house and had it nicely stacked to season and be ready when I should start the work. I had a supply of choice poplar and oak timber on my own land near the mill, while I gathered it in and cut it up as fast as my steam-propelled circular saws could do it. Besides the freight house, I erected a large wood shed for the railroad company at a cost of between $500 and $600. I purchased of farmers and others a large quantity of wood by the cord delivered at the shed for use as fuel in their engines, no coal being then burned by them. It was well for those who
210were clearing up land nearby as they could turn their timber into money at a paying rate.
The summer and fall of 1854 were excessively dry, and no rain fell in this region from July 4 until in November. The farmers in this and Williamson County, however, sowed a large acreage in wheat, much more than ever before. The Railroad being in operation, with prospect of good prices and ready sale the next year, stimulated their exertions notwithstanding the drouth seemed to preclude the idea that the wheat sown would germinate. Still they risked it, trusting a good providence for the result.
As winter set in I began to discover that my business was becoming too much extended for my comfortable management. The mill, now ready for making flour and cutting out lumber rapidly, required close attention and much outdoor work. My store needed all my time, the building and real estate improvements I was making had to be watched, and my duties as station agent, having to be up and out attending trains as they arrived or awaiting their coming when delayed, which was often the case at night, came near getting me down, in fact they did so when severe weather closed in and undue exposure brought upon me a malignant attack of pneumonia that threatened fatal results.
I resolved to lessen my responsibilities at the earliest possible moment, and I notified the railroad manager that I must withdraw from the position I had consented to fill only until an acceptable agent could be secured. I also allowed it to be known that I would dispose of my mill and the quarter-section of land on which it stood, with all the fixtures, teams, and implements, to a man who would take hold of it in earnest and help in promoting the interests of the town.
It was not very long until James M. Campbell, a citizen of Marion, came around, looking out a place on the Railroad at which to enter into business. I had heard of him as an active merchant, but I was not personally acquainted with him. He sought an introduction. I found him very agreeable, and learned upon inquiry that he was prompt in his dealings and moral and gentlemanly in his conduct—and altogether worthy and to be depended upon. I soon came to the conclusion that I should like him. He seemed to be pleased with me and my manner of doing, and he evidently approved of the start our town had made and the stand our people had taken in regard to prohibiting the sale of strong drink.
He finally gave me to understand that he would like to join us if he could get a fair
212start. I said to him that we needed good citizens that would take hold with us and help promote the objects we had in view of establishing a community that should be free from tippling shops, billiard saloons, bowling alleys, and gambling resorts, and where we would have peaceful Sabbaths and good order at all times. Such an arrangement, he said, suited his views as to the best way of conducting affairs. I offered to sell him the mill and fixtures and all the property I had in and about it, together with the 160 acres of land, at cost, which I estimated in round numbers at eight thousand dollars. After thinking over the matter, he concluded to accept my proposition, payment of $2,000 to be made April 1st, 1855, and the same amount in one, two and three years, thereafter. Papers were to be prepared by me, and entered into on March i of that year. Before that day came, Henry Sanders, a brother-in-law of Mr. Campbell, learning of the trade desired Mr. Campbell to let him have the bargain, and it was arranged between them that Sanders should become paymaster to me, and that the property should be turned over to him. Thereupon I put Sanders' name in the contract instead of Campbell's, and Sanders executed to me notes for the payments to be made.
I estimated that I got just about the amount I expended in building the mill and for the machinery put in for sawing and grinding purposes, allowing nothing for the land, which had, however, cost me only $300, and nothing for my own time and trouble, or expenditures, outside the mill plant proper. I yet think I acted wisely to let it go. After disposing of the mill my time was occupied in buying wood for the Railroad Company to use at this station and for sale to outside parties who took contracts to furnish wood at other points along the line. My trade in the article amounted to quite a sum and yielded a good profit.
March 17, 1855 was born to us another son and we named him Charles Eliphalet Brush.
The wheat crop was most excellent in quality and yield. Some fields, it was said, turned off forty bushels per acre, and in all parts hereabouts the land produced more than was ever before known in this country. The weather proved favorable for harvesting and threshing, and soon after ripening the wheat came in for sale. I engaged in the business of purchasing and shipping to Chicago for a market, or selling by the carload here on the track. I had the trade pretty much to myself and bought all that was brought in, and it came from Williamson County,
214some from Franklin and a good deal from Jackson, altogether aggregating a very considerable quantity for which I was able to pay the farmers a dollar per bushel on the average, and then sell at an advance sufficient to remunerate me well for my time and trouble.
The trade was active during all the fall and in fact up to the end of this year. The railroad folks helped the matter along, and towards the windup, it was said, furnished the means to pay for carloads on the track. Anyway the golden double eagles were ready to exchange for all I could gather in from the farmers, and they were eager for the gold and brought in the wheat liberally. It suited us all. The Railroad desired a big showing of freight over the line the first year of its existence and consequently rendered every aid in its power to rush things.
Early in 1856 I had the foundation—40x 46' with extensions back 18x12', with a 22x 18' area between the extensions—completed ready for the frame of my dwelling which I designed erecting on Out Lot 36 in Carbondale, and I had placed upon the ground a considerable portion of the lumber and materials needed; and myself and wife having decided upon the main features of the house we thought would be suitable for the accommodation
215of the large double family we had to take care of I made a sketch of the plan.
As I was about to visit St. Louis, I took the sketch along, and showed it to Mr. McClure, an architect in the city, explaining to him the object I had in view and requesting his assistance in drawing up the plans and making out full specifications for letting the contract. He agreed to do so for twenty-five dollars, and in due time I received the specifications from him.
A little later, in April I think, James Edwards and Isaac Rapp, two young carpenters from New York City, stopped in Carbondale looking for work. I had known Mr. Edwards a few years before, my wife's brother having married his sister Hannah, and he had done some work for me in my mill and I knew him to be a skillful mechanic. They learned in some way that I was about ready to erect a house and called to see me about it. After some conversation, believing that they were competent, I said to them that I was about ready to let a contract for the carpenter work and if they wished to figure on it they might take the papers and after examination let me know the terms upon which they would undertake it. They took the plans and in a few days returned and said they would do the work for eleven hundred
216dollars. Their proposition did not vary greatly from the estimate the architect had furnished me, and I told them they might go to work.
They commenced at once, aiming to do most of the work themselves. I kept them in lumber and they worked it up, doing everything from the rough except the floors. I procured matched pine for them, but they planed the weatherboards and made the doors and sash and blinds by hand. I got walnut lumber from a country mill for the inside casings of doors and windows and this they worked out by hand. There were no planing mills in this region and it took sharp tools and a good supply of elbow grease to prepare the material for the joiner work, and the doors and windows for their places.
The frame was up and enclosed and the roof on before the ensuing winter set in, and then they could put in all their time upon inside work. They labored industriously, but there was so much to do that progress was slow. I was also having a barn put up on the out lot besides other outhouses for homestead purposes and finishing off the extension of forty feet on the west end of my store room. These enterprises, with buying wood and wheat and running the store and the telegraph office, gave me enough to do.
Early in this year (1856) it was concluded that we must have a school house for immediate use. I therefore drew up a subscription paper which was generally signed by our earnest citizens, there being no established district or authority to levy a tax to raise the money. The amount subscribed was about $500. A building committee was chosen and the house was completed that summer at a cost of over eight hundred dollars, the deficiency being made up by James M. Campbell and myself and a few others. It was built on the west side school lot, a very respectable building that still remains standing.
In May, 1856 Rev. Joseph Gordon, Elisha Jenney, and Ed. B. Olmsted, a committee from the Southern Illinois Alton Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church, visited Carbondale looking out for a suitable location for an institution of learning. A meeting of the people of the town was held at the new school house, which most of our business men attended. The Committee was present, and Rev. Joseph Gordon, a most worthy member of the Presbytery, explained the action of that body, saying that the desire was to establish at a promising place an institution of learning of a high literary character in connection with said church, etc.
That suited our people, and it was determined
218mined to circulate subscription papers in the town and country adjacent immediately, and ascertain what could be raised in land and money for securing so valuable an adjunct towards promoting the prosperity of this embryo city. A paper was at once prepared by me and offered to those present for signature. Quite a number attached their names, stating what they would do, evidencing a zeal in the good work that was very encouraging. The subscriptions in promises to pay money amounted to the sum of $1,045. The land promised aggregated 494 acres. Six lots in Carbondale were subscribed.
The Committee from the Presbytery, considering the inducements offered sufficient, selected this place as a suitable site for the institution it was appointed to locate, and so reported to the Presbytery. Thereupon a meeting of that body was held here, June 17, 1856, and it was determined that the name of the institution should be Carbondale College. Fifteen Trustees were chosen, and a majority of them being present, the board was organized by electing Rev. Joseph Gordon. President, Doctor Wm. Richart, Treasurer, and D. H. Brush, Secretary. James M. Campbell, A. Conner and D. H. Brush were
219appointed a Committee to solicit further subscriptions. On October 20, 1856 a building committee consisting of Rev. W. S. Post, James M. Campbell, and D. H. Brush, was appointed and an architect was employed to draw up a plan of the college building. January 5th, 1857 the building committee made a contract with Thomas Thornton to make and burn "a sufficient number of good merchantable bricks—say 400 M. more or less, to lay up the walls of the North wing or end of the building," according to the plan made by Mr. McClure, architect. Thornton was to have 200 M. ready by July 1st and the remainder by Sept. 1st, 1857, and was to be allowed therefor $4.50 per M. Mr. Thornton failed to perform his contract. He commenced work, however, and at the time he was to have had the whole contract completed, had set in kiln only 89,500 bricks unburned. He had provided some wood and had some fixtures for brick-making on hand but concluded he could not go on with the job. The Committee thought so too and decided that it was best to pay him for what he had done and try some other plan to get the bricks. James M. Campbell and D. H. Brush of the Committee had by advances to said contractor, coaxing, and possibly a few threats, tried to get him along, but it was no
220go. So they squared up with him, Campbell doing the lion's share in the payment, as he always did during the whole course of the College building struggle.
Here came a solemn pause in the undertaking. No money, a pile of unburned bricks, on the downward road to destruction—and whenever a rain came actually melting from our view. Friends in plenty wished the project well and wondered why the building did not go on. The Committee cogitated, and after a while the conclusion was arrived at that we had better come down a peg in our aspirations, and instead of building the north end of the college just then, execute a flank movement, attack the undertaking in the rear, and put up the Chapel and Culinary Department.
Therefore on the 4th of December, 1857 an agreement was entered into with Mr. James M. Campbell to deliver on the ground all the stone for the foundation of the Chapel 60 x 40 ft. with middle wall the entire length according to the plans and specifications of the architect. He was to be allowed therefor 30 per square yard, measured in the wall, in college bonds at par, payable one year after the building should be completed, unless the money could be collected sooner in some other manner than by selling any of the college lands or lots.
At the same time a contract was entered into with Ezra and Isaac Burdick, stone masons, to put in said foundation walls in accordance with said plans at 3 cents per square yard measured in the walls—they to be allowed extra for dressed and bush hammered work, to be paid in ten percent college bonds—due one year after the building should be completed. They also were to make bricks enough with those already on hand to put up the walls of the building.
April 29th, 1859 The Constitution of Carbondale College was adopted, under which an Executive Committee of five members of the board was required to transact the general business of the Trustees. James M. Campbell, Asgill Conner, Henry Sanders, William Richart and D. H. Brush were elected said Committee, and thenceforth the duties of the Building Committee passed to the new Executive Committee.
On May 4, 1859 Campbell and Burdicks having finished up their work upon the foundation of said building according to contract, it was received by the Executive Committee and they paid to Campbell $889.69 in bonds and to Burdicks $1,654.60 in bonds and $60 in currency.
On May 10, 1859 it was ordered that notices be made out and posted up in town inviting
222proposals for the brick and stone work of said Chapel building—i.e., for laying up the walls, etc.—proposals to be opened on the 20th day of May. May 20th came, but no propositions except one from James M. Prickett in which he proposed to do the brick work of the building then contemplated. He was to furnish lime and sand and lay the bricks for $4.25 per M. and wait 12 months from the time the building was completed, charging extra for arches and hoods. When the Committee met, however, Mr. Prickett appeared and stated that he could not undertake the job and desired that his proposition to do the work might be considered as withdrawn. The Committee thereupon so considered, and having no further business, adjourned.
Here was another solemn pause. The project again hung fire and seemed dead for certain.
Matters thus stood, worse than before, because college bonds had been issued to parties who had fairly and honestly earned the money and should be paid. The paper had been issued on time and its maturity seemed then far away in the distant future, one year from the completion of the building, Friends of the project still doubtless wished it well, but not a dollar did they furnish.
August 11th, 1859 there was another meeting of the Executive Committee and the following order was entered upon the records:
"J. M. Campbell and D. H. Brush taking into consideration the fact, apparent to all, that unless some vigorous effort was made the further progress of the College building, now commenced, must come to a dead stop, and there seeming to be no other way open but for them to put their shoulders to the wheel and give the project a new start in the right direction, agreed between themselves (the Committee consenting) that they would have the necessary work done to complete the Chapel building, the foundation for which is now laid and a good portion of the bricks necessary for the walls are on hand. The said J. M. Campbell agreeing to have the walls put up, he furnishing the stone for the window and door sills, and to have the roof put on and the floors laid, he to supply all necessary materials therefor. For the brick work he is to be allowed the same price that J. M. Prickett proposed to do said work for. The other work and materials he is to be allowed regular prices for.
"Brush agreed to have the windows put in complete, frames, sash, and glass,
the doors made and hung, and the plastering done, for all which regular and customary prices are to be allowed. The said parties further agreed to take College bonds in payment at par, to be issued drawing ten per cent interest from the time the work was done, said bonds to be drawn payable one year after said Chapel building shall be completed."
This proposal of Campbell and Brush was accepted by the Executive Committee.
Another pause ensued, not however so solemn as before, because the building was really up and finished, and the time of the maturity of the obligations issued could be calculated.
Various efforts were made to raise money to liquidate the indebtedness before and after it became due, without resorting to a sale of the lands, on the supposition that if the debts could be paid the lands would enhance in value and create a fund to help erect other buildings as needed. All efforts were unsuccessful, and as the indebtedness became due on the 30th of Sept., 1862, it could not be expected that parties who held the bonds could or would be willing to wait much after that time unless a good prospect was ahead for payment. A considerable amount of the indebtedness
225had fallen into the hands of nonresidents of Carbondale, upon whom there were no claims to wait longer.
At a meeting of the Board of Trustees held April 23rd, 1863 it was ascertained by a Committee appointed for the purpose that the whole indebtedness against the College on the 1st of May ensuing would be $11,260.93. Of this amount the payment of $8,000 might be deferred for one year with ten per cent interest, upon condition that the remainder be paid by the middle of May or June.
The war was now on, and I was in the army. No money was raised by the church authorities or could be promised by the college trustees to pay the debts past due and some of the bonds issued had gone into hands of non-residents, who brought suits and obtained judgments in Circuit Court at the May term, 1863. The lands and lots were sold by the sheriff and were all bid in by Campbell in my absence, to save him and me as much as possible. We received deeds in due time, and afterwards sold the 30 acres on which the chapel building was erected to the Christian Church people. They changed the name to Southern Illinois College.
The man they employed to run their College, Rev. Clark Braden, tried it a few years
226without achieving great success and about the time of the craze for the "Normal" in 1870, they were all pretty tired of the Elephant and were quite ready and willing to let it go to the city at cost to be put in the bid of the city for the location of the Normal, which being fixed at Carbondale, the Southern Illinois College building and the 30 acres of ground, were conveyed to the city authorities at about $15,000, if I remember right, and counted at that sum in its Normal bid. Afterwards, the City bought it back and made a high school building out of the house, and has the same and the land yet. The building has been reconstructed into an edifice well adapted to school purposes it is said.
The decision by the Committee of the Alton Presbytery upon this place in 1856 as a suitable site for a "Seminary of learning of a high literary character," and the measures adopted by our citizens to promote the enterprise and make it a success—which, because of the hard times and lack of means of those who wished it well but had only wishes to help it on, resulted in almost total defeat—were the inducing causes of the establishment of the Southern Illinois Normal costing $260,000. Destroyed by fire in 1883, and rebuilt by the State at a similar expense
227and maintained by it, with its fifteen or more professors and 400 or 500 pupils annually, but for such action this institution would not be here today.
|DANL. H. BRUSH'S BALANCE ACCOUNT, TAKEN JANUARY 1st, 1857|
|Credits as per Lists made out. Bills Receivable—Interest included||$11,897.03|
|Merchandise in Store||5,252.26|
|Personal Property about House||875.|
|Debts I owe||6,121.25|
|Leaving in my favor as per stock A/C||$40,002.25|
"In 1836 I commenced operating for myself in this county, with no available means at my command except a limited education, such as could be acquired in this country by a boy without money from 1821 to 1836. But thanks to a noble mother, who, notwithstanding she was left a widow in this new State in 1821, with four infant children, the eldest but ten years old, to provide for, proved herself competent to the task by training them up in the fear of her God to lives of industry and economy, and by inculcating
228into their minds principles of truthfulness and honesty which have governed all their actions through life, the practice of which enabled me to secure the friendship and support of the good citizens of this county. Which friendship and their many acts of kindness towards me have made me much their debtor, and such I must ever be.
What I have gained in property has been the result of quiet and constant toil and diligent attention to business, saving and careful of small expenditures as well as large, never running into debt beyond my ability to pay, always striving to meet my engagements promptly, living comfortably and well enough for health, avoiding extravagance on the one hand and penuriousness on the other. I have never ventured upon games of chance nor hazardous speculations, and as I feel that have ever strived to do right and act fairly and Justly with my fellowman my conscience is clear, and I hope I feel duly thankful to the Good Providence for all His favors to me extended."
I copy the above from an entry I made in a small inventory book, in which I had entered in detail my pecuniary condition at the aforesaid date, estimating assets fairly as could judge of value at the time. I put it in here, not in a spirit of vainglory or pride but to manifest to any one who may care to
229peruse these memoirs, the result of careful living and honest endeavor, in my case.
In the spring of 1857 James M. Campbell and I entered into partnership to trade in wheat and other produce, and to provide storage room we concluded to erect a grain house near the Station and close to a switch track so we could load cars direct from the house. We had to have a permit from the railroad authorities, as the building would have to stand on the 100 feet of ground reserved for railroad purposes. We therefore made application to the Company, and obtained its consent to put up the grain house under stipulations reduced to writing and mutually executed. We at once went to work and by harvest time had up a heavy frame, 60x24' and two stories high, that cost us over $2000, marked on the outside "Brush & Campbell Grain House," equipped with scales and other conveniences, and were ready to buy and ship all the wheat offered.
It was a good harvest year and we bought largely, paying cash, and distributed amongst the farmers more money than had ever before been seen or heard tell of in the same length of time in this county. They brought their wheat in by the wagon load, and took home for it a dollar a bushel in gold. Campbell and I were popular with wheat raisers in those days, especially Mr. Campbell. His
230business was to buy the grain and send the owners with their loads to the grain house, where his son Henry and I were stationed to receive, weigh, and pay for it, load it into cars, and ship it as fast as loaded to Chicago on sale, or to persons for whom we might be buying. We worked hard early and late, and realized only moderate returns.
In July, 1857 my dwelling house was finished and I moved into it with my family the latter part of that month and found it roomy and conveniently arranged. The carpenters, Edwards & Rapp, brought in their bill for work, charging the $100 they took the job at, also $416.64 extra for changes had ordered from the original plan and also $100 for work on the main stairs that I decided to have circular, instead of a straight flight, the total of their account aggregating $1616.64. Along towards the latter part of their work on the house I came to the conclusion that it was taking more of their time than they had calculated on, and I was doubtful whether the job would yield them fair pay for their labor.
I said nothing to them about it, however, but watched pretty closely to see whether they slighted the work in any particular. I did not discover any such action on their part, and when they came for a settlement I asked them whether they knew how many
231days they had worked on the building. The reply was that they did, as they had carefully kept the time. I then asked them whether the amount they had brought in would pay them fair wages for the time they had been engaged. The reply was that it would not. I then said that I did not wish to live in a house that the workmen had not been fully paid for erecting, and directed them to retire and estimate the additional amount it would take to bring up their wages to what they ought fairly to receive.
They left my office and a day or two after called again and reported that $254.91 more than their account rendered called for would give them fair pay. I at once allowed it, thus increasing the amount I paid them to $1871.55. They felt better than before, and I did not feel any worse.
|The total outlay on my house was over||$8000.|
|While the barn cost to build over||800.|
|The bee house and fixtures cost||260.|
|Brick smoke house $300; chicken house and pigpen, $240||540.|
|The bay window added since cost over||400.|
|Total Outlay for homestead as above not counting value of the 3 Out Lots 7-20/100 acres.||$10000.|
Some preparation towards the erection of
232the First Presbyterian Church here had been made the past year—lumber for the frame and the foundation timbers, together with stone for the pillars were upon the ground in the fore part of this year. After my house was completed I set the carpenters at work on the Church. They went on and got the frame up and the roof on, and by that time the cash subscriptions—some $1200—were exhausted, and the work came to a dead stop. Five hundred dollars that had been furnished by The Presbyterian Church Erection Board had also been absorbed to make up the $1200. Efforts were made to raise more money. Some was received from individuals in addition to former subscriptions, and some from new subscribers. When all was expended the work on the building was a little over half done.
Then came a suspension of operations entirely. No more money could be had, and the mechanics would not work longer unless their pay was assured. I finally employed Edwards and Rapp to go on with the carpenter work and report to me at the end of each week the sum needed to pay those employed, and promised to furnish the funds required, not only to the carpenters, but to the plasterers and painters, furnishing all materials requisite to complete the church
233building in every respect. It was ready for occupation about the middle of July, 1859. It had cost $2934.14, of which there was due me $1498.24, exclusive of subscriptions I had made to aid in the work, not being behind any other person in that line as I had good opportunity to know, having charge of the lists. No charge was made by me for services rendered in managing the job or keeping the accounts, and while there was a nominal building committee, I did all the work.
I had a good trade during all of 1858. I handled farming implements and machinery to a considerable extent, and sold mowers, reapers, and threshing machines, wheat drills, plows, etc. to persons in this and adjoining counties who were raising good crops for which they now had a convenient market at fair prices in cash. Large crops of wheat of superior quality were harvested and Campbell and myself worked our grain house lively, purchasing and shipping all the wheat offered, paying out the gold therefor to the infinite satisfaction of the producers, and leaving a legitimate profit to ourselves. It made things lively while the trade lasted, and was very comfortable and satisfactory to all engaged, and no whiskey being sold in the town, peace and prosperity and quiet prevailed.
In the early part of 1859 the First Presbyterian Church of Carbondale was dedicated and occupied thereafter for religious purposes. Later in the season myself and wife joined as members, and our children—Daniel, Lucretia, Julia, Charles and Richard—were baptized in accordance with the rites of the church. Sometime afterwards I was ordained an elder, which position I occupied until the office was made rotary, to be filled every four years in the churches that so desired. Thinking the arrangement a good one, as congregations would thereby be enabled to change the eldership and thus get rid of an unacceptable officer, I presented my resignation, which was accepted without opposition.
In July, 1859 I was visited by Napoleon B. Buford of Rock Island, president of The Bank of the Federal Union at that place.
235permitting banks of issue to be established upon deposit of state bonds with the Auditor, the depositors to receive notes for circulation up to ten per cent of their par value. Mr. Buford explained the scheme he had in view, and solicited me to join him. The bonds deposited were held as security for the redemption of the notes put in circulation, and any residue remaining, after the surrender of the notes, along with the interest accruing on the bonds, would belong to the depositors. Ascertaining to my satisfaction that he was a responsible business man, of good habits and established character, I agreed to go into the project with him. He was a graduate of West Point Military Academy, but he had resigned from the army and settled at Rock Island. We arranged to start a bank here under the name of Bank of Jackson County, he to be the President, and I the Cashier. No directors or stockholders were needed. If we could procure the bonds to deposit, we could get thereon all the notes we needed for circulation, and I felt that I
236could keep the accounts correctly and manage to the best advantage any funds we might have to loan out in this region.
July 22nd we commenced banking, Mr. Buford furnishing currency from his Rock Island bank & other sources as I needed it here to use in purchasing shipping bills, bills of exchange, drafts to consignors of produce shipped, etc. Buying and selling bank notes that had traveled too far away from home to be current at par made quite a business, and selling exchange on New York and other remote centers of trade yielded some income. Halsted & Gilman and other bankers in New York were engaged to procure state bonds to deposit with the Auditor of this State as foundation for the circulating notes of our bank and we soon had
|Illinois State bonds (including the premium of 3Åº % paid for them) to the value of||$38,018.38|
|Kentucky State bonds (including 3Åº% premium)||7,262.50|
|Michigan State bonds||10,009.89|
|Tennessee State bonds||9,114.10|
|North Carolina State bonds||9,685.00|
Upon depositing these with the State Auditor we obtained Bank of Jackson County
237notes for circulation to the amount of $67,600. We afterwards deposited more state bonds with the Auditor, so that on the first Monday in April, 1861 we had $100,688.21 in stocks deposited for circulation on which we had $89,550 in bills and notes outstanding. The authorized capital stock of the bank was $500,000, of which $50,000 was paid in, three-fourths of it belonging to Mr. Buford and one-fourth to myself.
The system of banking under which we operated was favorable to persons engaging therein, as it was not necessary to have actual cash to the amount of the bonds deposited with the Auditor. Enough money, however, was required to secure bonds to start with, or at least a good portion of it, and to pay the expense of negotiating and printing notes, etc., but as notes up to 90% of the bonds deposited could at once be received ready for circulation, arrangements were generally made to purchase bonds and pay for them with the bank's notes, and the bank would draw the accruing interest on the bonds, which with the banking privileges conferred by the law made a very good business. We had to redeem the issues of the bank in specie, if demanded, when presented at our office. If we failed to do so the holder
238might have them protested, and upon filing the notes and protest with the Auditor, the latter gave notice to the banker, and after ten days, if payment was not made, he could sell the bonds deposited to pay such protested notes. We expected to increase the business as the times and circumstances might justify, little anticipating the huge breakers ahead.
Matters progressed favorably during all this year. We had no difficulty in keeping our circulation out, and small trouble in taking in all of our paper presented. We accommodated the traders and people of the country, and as we had secured for our circulation bonds of the most responsible States, such as had promptly met interest thereon as it became due, we felt assured that our venture was prudently established and safe to outsiders as well as ourselves. I had a considerable stock of goods in store, and was doing something in that line and in general trading but was slacking off somewhat, designing to devote myself more especially to banking.
Jan. 31st, 1860, I was licensed by the Supreme Court of Illinois to practice as an Attorney and Counselor at Law in the Courts of this State, my license being signed by J. D.
239D. Caton, Sidney Breese, and P. H. Walker. I was sworn in Feb. 3rd thereafter, but did not enter upon active practice until after the war. This being the year for a Presidential election, great political excitement developed. The nomination of Lincoln by the Republicans exasperated the slaveholders to madness, and soon the political atmosphere was ablaze with the threatening wrath of his opponents. The business affairs of the country could not but be disturbed, and his election made it manifest that open hostility to his administration would result. Transactions between the different sections of the country were sadly disarranged, and many Illinois banks that had made extensive purchases of slave state bonds to deposit for circulation ceased business and were wound up by the Auditor, while others that had purchased bonds of the northern states, whose credit continued good, kept on longer. Our bank belonged to the latter group, and we kept our heads above water until after the war actually commenced. My last statement of the condition of the bank was made on the first Monday of April, 1861. I insert the duplicate I retained here, so as to have matters in relation to the enterprise near together.
STATEMENT of the affairs of the Bank of Jackson County located at Carbondale as they existed on the first Monday of April, 1861:
|Capital Stock paid in and invested According to Law||$50,000|
|Amount of Debts Owing by the Association other than for Deposits and circulation||None|
|Amount due Depositors||None|
|Amount of Notes or Bills in Circulation||89,550||$139,550.|
|Stocks deposited as Security for Circulation||100,688.21|
|Notes of Other Banks on hand||2,355.|
|Amt. of Debts owing to Association other than loans or discounts||None|
|Loans and Discounts||None|
|Specie on hand.||4,633.50|
|Amount deposited with Other Banks and Bankers||31,873.29||$139,550.|
The presidential election of 1860 was more important and far reaching in its results than
241any previous one. The question of the extension of slavery beyond the limits agreed to by the Compromise Act of 1850 enlisted in its support the wild and reckless hot blood of the South, and was met by the determined opposition of the North. My principles were utterly opposed to slavery in the abstract and I agreed entirely with the views so ably set forth by Lincoln in his debates with Douglas, yet I deprecated the consequences which I felt would result from the election of either Lincoln or Breckenridge. So I advocated the election of John Bell, an old-time Whig of Tennessee, with whose views as expressed on becoming a candidate I agreed. My idea was that notwithstanding slavery was a great wrong, it had been permitted at the origin of our Government and in justice to the Slave States could not be abrogated except with their consent. Yet it should not be extended into the Free States or into territory out of which Free States could be made, and in no event should it be extended beyond the Compromise Line of 1850.
Such I understood was Mr. Bell's position, and so believing, I advocated his election. My desire was to maintain the Compromise of 1850, leave the South to the enjoyment of her slaves, and keep peace in our big country. The election of Mr. Lincoln gave me no
242uneasiness. I was personally acquainted with him and knew him to be of large heart and honest intentions, and I had no fear that he would do or permit an intentional wrong to the country, or any part of it, if in his power to prevent. A spirit of compromise, which I now believe was not for the best interests of the Country, induced me to cast my vote against him in that decisive election.
The business of our bank progressed satisfactorily during all of 1860 and up to the first Monday in April, 1861 when the last statement of its condition was made to the Auditor. Soon after that the slaveholding rebels precipitated the war by bombarding Fort Sumter, and almost everywhere business of all sorts was suspended to repel the assault. As a matter of course the interest on our southern state bonds was defaulted and they suffered a great depreciation, while our northern state bonds only held their own.
In the troublous times that had overwhelmed the land we could not have procured more stock to put in pledge had we desired so to do—which we did not, as we were both determined to take a hand in whipping our southern Negro Whippers into decent patriotism as soon as possible. Therefore, we let our banking interests go into Auditor DuBois' hands to settle up with the note
243holders as best he could with the state bonds we had on deposit. He arranged to retire the notes in circulation without calling upon Mr. Buford or myself for anything to make up a deficiency. I kept the business running in Carbondale until everything was squared with depositors and others who had business transactions with the bank, and while I lost my stock and everything I had invested in the concern, no other person, so far as I know, lost one cent. I think that but for the war the bank would have done well; the business was to my liking, and I should have been pleased to continue in it. After I left my home, Mr. Richard Dudding, an old friend, attended to my affairs, and kept everything in the best of order all the time I was absent in the Army without charging me a cent for his invaluable attention to my interests. His memory will ever be cherished by me for his kindly aid in that terrible time of strife.
These Memoirs have now reached the most momentous period of our country's history, the rebellion of the slave-owning states. It was also the most Important epoch of my own life, as it involved a course of action on my part entirely at variance from anything I had ever experienced, demanding the sacrifice of all I held most dear—Wife, Children,
244Home, not mentioning business or property, and risking the casualties of war and the dangers of the battlefield. My only compensation was the desire to aid in maintaining our good Government and the Union of the States as established by the patriots of the Revolution.
My notion of duty was, 1st to my God, 2nd to my country, and next to my family. It was no easy task to determine what course I should pursue under the circumstances surrounding me. I was not subject to the draft, being 48 years of age. My family was helpless, much of my property was liable to destruction, and my business would be broken up if I left my home. I had feared that a collision between the North and the South on account of slavery would occur at some time. I had hoped it might be averted, but had often said if it must come I would like to have it in my time so that my best efforts might be put forth in aid of the Constitution and the laws of the land. The exigency had arisen. What ought I to do? I was not long in deciding.
The telegraph office was kept in a room in my store in the rear of our banking portion of the room, the bank occupying the entire front. Access to the telegraph operator, who was one of my nephews, George Brush, could
245be had only through my place as cashier. I had a counter across the room in front, to which there was an open way for all persons who desired to come into the bank. The usual entrance to the telegraph office was through a door from the street back of my room, and by that way persons who had telegraphic business commonly entered.
About the 20th of April I was called on by a man who came down the Illinois Central Railroad, who asked me whether dependence could be placed that dispatches passing through this office would be carefully kept from publicity. He did not inform me why he made this inquiry, but I had an idea that some movement of importance relative to the impending struggle was contemplated that demanded strict secrecy. I assured him that the telegraph here was in my charge and that it could be depended on. He thereupon requested that the operator should be cautioned to say nothing of what he might discover going over the wires, and left.
I at once closed the outside door that gave entrance to the telegraph office from the street, and posted a notice saying that any business with the operator would be attended to over the counter of the bank, which was done for several days. Secession sympathizers, of whom quite a number resided in
246this town and vicinity, as well as at Marion and Murphysboro, seemed to have a vague idea that something in opposition to their southern brethren was about to be attempted, and tried to invade the telegraph sanctum. I informed them that they could not be admitted, but any business they had could be transacted over my counter. The most savage looking of the set would go away with mutterings not loud but deep, to meet their comrades on the corners and vent with them their maledictions against the "Abolition Government" and all its friends. They desired much to do something tremendous, but did not know just where to commence.
An impression was out that Union forces were to be moved south over the Railroad soon, and threats were made that it should not be done, that the track would first be torn up, and the railroad bridge across Big Muddy destroyed, and resistance, dire and bloody, would be presented, should such an attempt be made. It was said that two hundred men had been raised in the region to the east and west of our station, supplied with arms and ammunition to annihilate the government troops that might be sent down from the north or to render useless the road before they came, could they but know the time the "Lincoln hirelings" would arrive.
247It was supposed this would be fully known by the telegraph operator, and the desire to get into his office to see the machine and make impertinent inquiries was persistent. But they did not succeed. I stood at the front to meet the would-be invaders, and successfully withstood all their efforts. The fact was I knew no more of what was going to happen than did the most ignorant outsider, and I did not ask the operator what messages, if any, were passing.
A few disloyal young fellows from Marion, amongst them one named Eubanks and a Doctor Brooks, seemed to have been put forward to investigate. They annoyed me to some extent, but I kept them at bay. Quite a body of their fellows, I was afterwards informed, were in town on the watch. They had deposited their arms in handy places near by and were around the Ultra Secession Corners awaiting orders. But luckily for them ignorance of coming events prevailed, and so they waited. For on, as I now remember, the twenty-second of April the down trains passed through our village about the middle of the day loaded with soldiers, cannon, gun carriages, and other munitions of war. The Unionists cheered, the Rebels slunk back into their hiding places. The mystery was solved; Union troops had gone
248south to take possession of Cairo, and shut out secession from southern Illinois. The track was not torn up; the railroad bridge still stood.
After the troop trains had all passed that day, the Evil Spirit that possessed the traitorous in town prompted them to stop the further movement of government forces southward by burning the railroad bridge across Big Muddy that night, and arrangements were at once made to effect that object. A squad of men was sent to do the job. They soon came back terror-stricken, and reported that it was too late. A strong guard of soldiers was in position with guns in their hands and big cannon pointed right at the bridge, with men handy to touch them off, and they concluded it best to leave early and not to try to burn the bridge just then. It turned out that Capt. Willard's Company of Zouaves from Chicago had been put off at the river to guard the bridge, and I have no doubt it was thus saved from destruction. It was said, and doubtless with truth, that men from Murphysboro as well as Marion were delegated to perform the fiendish work.
A few days before the troops went south a meeting of the rampant rebels of this region to the number of 25 or 30—the ringleaders
It did not come to my knowledge that such a contemptible farce had been enacted until a day or two afterwards. When I did hear of it, and was informed as to the actors and managers, my indignation was aroused, and I said to myself and others that the scandalous.