In the continuance of our chronicle we pass over to the clerical profession. The Presbyterians organized the first church; it
100dates back to 1831. It entered the field with a pretty strong force; being composed of heterogeneous elements it never prospered much. They built a small log church on the site of the upper graveyard, which was turned into a school house in after years. They next erected a frame building upon the public square, 24 X 40; but for lack of funds could not finish it. It never was seated except by slabs and loose plank, and had a floor of the same character. Its vicinity to the law and whiskey den, caused the pious to mourn; "familiarity breeds contempt," and its open doors afforded a shelter and convenient place for the drunken to sleep off the fumes of their debaucheries. This was not all the dishonorable purposes for which it was used by those drinking, carousing, Godless ruffians; it ceased to be used for divine service, and in 1844 the present church was erected. Samuel C. Ashmore was the contractor and Robert Bell the builder. Much like its predecessors, it never had a coat of paint, but has survived one roof. Mr. Bennett was one of their first preachers. He was a native of the city of Philadelphia, educated at Princeton, and was a man of considerable refinement. From eccentricity, from romance or from fancy, he cast behind him the refinements of civilization, and proclaimed the gospel of peace in the then wild wilderness of Illinois. His close, studious habits made him averse to noise, and being a bachelor, his habit was to select his board in a family in which there were no young children. The then common practice of taking all the children to church, tried his nerves terribly. The cry of a child whilst he was delivering his sermon was sure to upset him, and in this particular we have heard ladies express after long years the profound mortification they had felt under his embarrassments or reproofs, by which he drew the attention of the congregation upon them. Strange to say the quiet low voiced Mr. Bennett married his antipode in these particulars — a tall lively girl — a daughter of Amos Ashmore, who could out talk and out laugh any thing within ten miles of her. Her love and respect for Mr. B. never seemed to interfere with her animal spirits, but a change came over him; when two, three or four children had gathered about his feet he was another person; he could study
101his sermons better than ever, and preach right along in the stiffest kind of a squall. A Mr. Montgomery was another preacher of this denomination, but of whom we know nothing, and Mr. McDonald supplied the congregation occasionally, as well as Mr. Vennable.
The Cumberland Presbyterians organized in 1843, under the preaching of Rev. James Ashmore, of Vermillion county, a son of Amos and brother of Mrs. Bennett. He is, we believe, the only survivor of the old time church organizations. A man of great industry and untiring energy in his calling, now enjoying a green old age.
The Methodist church of Oakland was organized by Rev. Mr. Salsbury in 1856, but remained in a quiescent state till Mr. Arthur Bradshaw came on the circuit in 1858. He breathed the breath of life into the dry bones lying loose around him, and made it a strong and prosperous congregation. Like Mr. Ashmore, Mr. B. is now "in the sere and yellow leaf."
Reserving our Baptist friends and their great preacher, Mr. Newport, for our next, we occupy the balance of our paper with an incomplete sketch of Thomas Affleck. The name, according to Boswell, is a contraction of Auchinleck, the name of an extensive estate in the Lowlands of Scotland. He lived in Dumfries and emigrated, we believe, in 1832. Settled at Clinton, on the Wabash, and from thence to Mr. Ashmore's new town in 1836. His son-in-law, McClelland, as we have stated, was the first person to sell dry goods in this "neck of the wood." Mr. Affleck's wife, a very amiable woman, died in 1840, and the first time we ever saw "Uncle Tommy," he occupied his house on the north side of the square alone, having only his dog, Princher, and his cat, Tom, for companions.
In several respects Mr. A. was a remarkable man, perhaps the roost so of any man who ever lived in the village. At the time of our first acquaintance he passed his time much in looking after his farm, digging ditches, and exercising on his violin; running over those pathetic and delightful airs which has given Scotland the prerogative in song. His rendering of "Roy's Wife of Aldivalloch," was such as none but a native Scot could equal. With
102his chin pressed down upon his fiddle, his large head and great staring eyes above, together with his powerful voice he repeated and practiced the music of his native land. His knowledge of natural philosophy and the chemistry of the arts was very considerable, but mechanics was his master study. This faculty in him was a controlling power. He had been a grocer in Dumfries but was then, when long out of practice, unequaled in his making up a package; more coffee or pepper would be put into a paper than any body else could. Then when the lightning like job was finished, the form of the package and the turns of the wrapping thread, would be absolutely artistic. We have heard Mr. Moseley state, that for practice he had frequently undone his packages, but never could properly restore them. He was something of a hunter. When he wanted a prairie chicken he put a yoke of cattle to his sleigh and drove for the glades south-west of town. Here the cattle would feed along whilst Mr. A. would sit and wait for a bird to rise. Sometimes two rose at once and he generally saved them both, a proof, to our mind, that no man can ever be a bird shooter who is destitute of mechanical genius. On this point Dr. Pease, an amateur phrenologist, found his head, on measurement to be twenty-four inches in circumference — equal to a No. 9 hat — and his bump of mechanics the largest he had ever handled, but the development of concentrativeness was extremely small; which, if the science be true, might account for the fruitlessness of Mr. Affleck's "speculations," as we called them.
One of these was a mode of moving sandbars and deepening the outlet channel of rivers and harbors. This process, as he often described it to us, was very similar to the jetty system now used by Capt. Eads at the mouth of the Mississippi. It consisted in first confining the water by means of ballast and piling on each side of the desired channel. This means he held would, of
103itself, in time effect its purpose, but to hasten it on he next proceeded to drive in the channel, every eight or ten feet, iron piling. These piling consisted of two flat bars perforated with inch holes and joined at the points, but designed to be separated above by the distance of an inch or less. He next let down between the bars thus constructed, sections of boiler iron twenty or thirty feet long, to a point near the bottom, where it was secured by pins placed in the bars. Thus when the work was completed it somewhat resembled the lower board of a plank fence, and like it the water forced underneath was expected to tear out a channel. This in brief is an outline of his idea. He claimed that he had successfuly applied it on the Clyde, and in other harbors in Scotland, and had presented his project and claims to the board of Admiralty. Of Sir James Graham, the then head of the board, he spoke with his characteristic bitterness, and being in lack of means he turned his back in disgust upon the old world, to find a home and a grave in Illinois. We know nothing of the history of the jetty system, who invented it, or when it was first applied, but our recollection is that it was about 1830, or before, that Mr. Affleck endeavored to engage public attention of Great Britain to his process of deepening harbor outlets. Another of his ideas was that of the mower, upon which he insisted, long before any were ever seen or heard of here, that the principles of the saw and finger bars were necessary to its success.
But the habit of strong drink was the evil genius of his later days — the older he became the worse — and when under its influence his temper and invective was peculiar and terrific. He thus went on drinking himself to death as fast as he could, hoping in his unhappiness, soon to be at rest by the side of his deceased wife. His son-in-law, Rev. A. O. Allen, persuaded him at last to go with him to his residence at Terre Haute, but not till the old man had first exacted a pledge of Mr. Moseley and other citizens, that they would see to the return of his body when the end should come. He did not stay long. He parted with the
104world and its troubles on the and of June, 1852, aged 67 years; and Mr. Moseley and the citizens of Oakland, fulfilled their pledge and laid him by the side of the wife of his youth.
For information and data connected with these papers we lately visited the old grave yard. We made a considerable search before we found the resting place of Mr. Affleck. The slab which marks it had fallen down on the sunken grave and the weeds and grass were rank over it and about it. We had no implement with us to adjust the wrecked sepulchre, but we felt that we could not leave his memorial upon the ground, and so with considerable effort we raised and propped the slab with some decaying wood; promising to ourselves at the same time that with the help of his old friends, Mr. Mosely and Squire Pemberton, we would before the summer passed by, spend an hour's labor on the last resting place of Thomas Affleck.