Reminisces of Peoria County


Old advertisement submitted by Norm Kane




     My father's second wife was a Presbyterian, unused to slave labor and with no faculty for controlling them. Naturally she disliked the blacks, a feeling they were all too ready to reciprocate, and when Rev. Isaac Kellar, who was married to my father's sister, moved to Illinois and wrote back glowing accounts of the promise of the new country my step-mother added her entreaty to his that we should break up our home in Maryland and join the Kellar's in Peoria. One line of argument had great weight with my father. He had four sons rapidly approaching manhood, his farm was not large enough to settle them all with the corresponding negro hands, other good farm land in the neighborhood was scarce as well as high in price, and there seemed no better way to provide for all these boys than to seek a new country. Accordingly in 1835, after the crops were all gathered, he closed up his business, sold or rented his slaves and started for the land of promise.


     The journey of course had to be made overland and for that purpose he provided a large covered wagon drawn by four and sometimes five horses for the accommodation of my brothers, John, David, Washington and Henry, my sisters, Susan and Amanda and myself; another wagon drawn by two horses in which clothing, camp equipage and food were carried; and a covered carriage for father, his wife and two little children. Our horses were large, strong animals, our wagons provided with every comfort and convenience, experience or ingenuity could suggest, and one beautiful sunny day in October we started on our journey. It must have been hard for the older people to leave all that was dear to them by association or recollection, but the young looked forward rather than back and in the excitement of that first day's travel my brothers and I drew beautiful fancy pictures of the life that was before us.
     So far as I can recollect our journey through Maryland and Pennsylvania was uneventful. The road was perfect, the weather fine, and we easily made a drive of twenty-five miles per day. As a rule there was no difficulty in obtaining accommodations at a hotel or farmhouse, but if these failed we young people thought it no hardship to spend the night in the wagons. Bedding was abundant, and we were exceedingly comfortable. Father was particular about the observance of the Sabbath, and we always laid by from Saturday till Monday morning, but these stops must have been at unimportant points, for I remember none till we reached Wheeling, Virginia. Here we remained for two or three days to readjust the loads of goods, the heavy and bulky articles being separated from the others and shipped by water down the Ohio and up the Illinois river to Peoria. This we accomplished through Mr. John R. Forsyth, a commission merchant in Wheeling, who took charge of and shipped them to the care of Andrew Gray, a commission man in Peoria, and our only knowledge of the shipment for many long weeks was through this latter gentleman, who was finally notified when they were transferred to another boat at St. Louis. It may be mentioned in passing that Mr. Forsyth was the father of Henry Forsyth, for a number of years clerk of our county court, and the grandfather of Mrs. C. R. Warner. He removed to Peoria soon after we did, and formed a partnership with Mr. Gray, whom all old citizens will remember and who is still represented in our midst by his daughter, Mrs. John McDougal and her sons. Both of these gentlemen were from the north of Ireland and were specimens of that eloquent and courtly race. There was much to interest us in Wheeling, but unfortunately we had all been made more or less ill by eating pawpaws gathered by the wayside and were unable to avail ourselves of half of our opportunities. One thing, however, we felt that all must see and that was the steamer Algonquin on which our goods were being stored. The Chesapeake and Ohio canal was in operation and the older members of the family had inspected the boats on the canal and considered them a triumph of luxury, not even my father had seen anything so fine as a steamboat and to all of us it seemed a floating palace. The boys were especially excited and could not sufficiently admire its various parts from the wheel in the pilot house to the conveniences for storing freight in the hold.
     Another curiosity and delight was the glass factory still in its infancy quite sufficiently developed to draw crowds of interested observers. I remained at the hotel, too unwell to undertake such an expedition, but grew quite familiar with its wonders at second-hand in the long days that followed.
     On Monday we were all feeling much better and with our load of goods greatly lightened, took up our journey across Ohio, still keeping to the National road. Various schemes for facilitating travel were being urged but Illinois knew of these things only by distant rumor. On the whole the greatest civilizer of this and neighboring states was the National Road, of which such frequent grateful mention is made by early settlers. [This National Road at the time it was built was probably as important to the people as the Union Pacific was at the time it was built and it cost the general government in proportion to its means as much as the Transcontinental Railroad. It was built by Congress under desires to provide for the mail service and was operated as a mail route, very important in that particular and very important to bind the nation together by union of inter-communications. It is probable that railroads by facilitating intercourse as well as commerce between different neighborhoods and states are not only among the greatest civilizers by enabling each portion of the country to learn the best things from other parts but it enables the people to become acquainted with each other.
     "East of Alton was the town of Vandalia, where ended the unfinished National Pike. The construction of that famous highway was begun at Cumberland, Maryland, in 1811; but so slowly did the work progress that six years passed before the first mail-coach rolled over it and entered Wheeling. Two years later Congress decided to continue the road from Wheeling to some point on the Mississippi between St. Louis and the mouth of the Illinois river, and appropriated ten thousand dollars for preliminary surveys. But five years elapsed before a dollar was provided for building the road, and ground was broken at St. Clairsville, a little town in Ohio, a few miles west of Wheeling. Columbus was reached by 1830, and when the last appropriation was made, in 1838, the road was finished as far as Springfield, and graded, bridged, and partially completed to Vandalia.
     "In Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, the Cumberland Road wound and twisted through the mountains. But once across the Ohio the route was to be as straight as possible from Wheeling to the Mississippi, regardless of towns along the way. Against this the General Assembly of Illinois protested, and asked that the road should join the capital cities of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. When therefore, the first appropriation for construction was made it was ordered that the great highway should pass through Columbus, Indianapolis, and Vandalia, then the capital of Illinois. Straightness. however, was not departed from, and the road was built with little regard for topography. Hills were cut through, lowlands were crossed on high embankments, and streams, large and small, were spanned by massive stone bridges, the like of which cannot be found on any other road in our land.
     "To keep such a highway, eighty feet wide, in repair was so costly a matter that Congress ordered gates put up and tolls collected at regular intervals. This, in the opinion of Monroe, was going too far; it was assuming jurisdiction over the land on which the road was built; the bill came back with his veto and a long dissertation on the intent and meaning of the Constitution. Thereupon Congress repaired the road so far as built and turned it over to the States through which it passed to be by them kept in repair forever. As new portions were constructed they, too, passed to the care of the States, which at once put up toll gates.
     "No highway was more travelled, more crowded, more interesting. Over it each day went thousands of mail-coaches, passenger-coaches, freighters. Along its route had sprung up hundreds of taverns, beneath whose roofs the travellers lodged, and hundreds of wagon houses, where entertainment was provided for the teamsters and their beasts. Before the doors of such taverns as went back to the early days of the road, might still be seen the old-fashioned sign whereon was rudely painted the Green Tree, the Golden Lamb, the White Horse, the Golden Swan, or the Indian Queen, by which the house was known. Those of a later date had verandas and bore on their signs the names of their owners. Only the newest were called American House, United States Hotel, National House, or Buckeye Hotel.
     "On the outskirts of the towns and villages and at short distances along the road were the wagon houses, plain frame buildings with great yards, long watering troughs and huge barns, in many of which a hundred horses might rest. None but teamsters found entertainment at such places, and at any of them after nightfall a group of wagoners might be seen gathered at the bar or seated around the huge fireplace, and sleeping on the floor in winter or in the great yard in summer.
     "From each important town along the route stage lines ran out north and south.'' —McMaster.]

     Starting from Cumberland it was finished as far as Wheeling in 1820 at a cost of $17,000,000, but was subsequently extended across Ohio and Indiana. In the language of Professor Andrews, "It was thirty-five feet wide thoroughly macadamized, and had no grade above five degrees." As it was kept in repair for the sake of the government mail it can easily be imagined what a boon it must have been to immigrants with their heavy wagons and helpless families. The first stop that I remember was at Zanesville, which was considered a flourishing town, and for some reason had an especial attraction for us, but 1 cannot remember why. Columbus also met with our approval, but we drove briskly through it till we reached some shade trees, where we rested and ate luncheon, We especially commended the apples which were very fine and abundant.
     At this point my father decided to go by way of Dayton, so we left the National road and drove through mud and slush for half a day to reach it. I am not sure whether it was by appointment or accident, but at Dayton we met a family of the name of Wonderlich, the father of whom was an uncle of my step-mother. This man was the grandfather of Mrs. Calvin Schnebly, of Richwoods, and her mother was a young girl at the time and assisted in entertaining us. We remained two or three days with these kind friends, resting and preparing for the worst part of the journey.
     I remember little of Indianapolis, except from there on the road was very bad, and we seemed a long, long ways from home. The turnpike existed only in spots from this time, and we would sometime jolt for hours over a corduroy road formed of trees roughly cut and dropped carelessly into the oozy soil. The prairies were uncultivated, and while the grass waved above the heads of the horses the wagon wheel would suddenly sink to the hubs in an unsuspected slough. This meant long delay. With a groan the boys would clamber from their seats, double up teams, perhaps have to pry the wheels out of the mud, and then repeat the process with the vehicles in the rear. Sometimes such experiences would occur several times in a day, and were fiery trials to patience and temper as well as weary bodies. Now and then we would overtake movers with oxen, and as it was a law of the road that each should help the these were often of great assistance to our lighter loads. The first question of all such was: ''Where are you going stranger?" and the almost invariable reply: "To Logansport, Injianny." "Don't they have ague there?" we would ask, and the reply was: ''Oh yes, sometimes." In fact malaria was the rule throughout the state. In many houses where we stopped there was not a single well person to wait upon the sick, and all the settlers looked bleached and sallow. Still all were cheerful under the affliction and looked for better times in the spring -- not one was preparing to give it up and return east.
     As we left the well settled portions of the country behind, we became more dependent upon ourselves in the matter of food. We had brought with us a liberal supply of potatoes, coffee, tea and dried fruit, nuts of various kinds abounded in the woods and apples might generally be had for the asking; eggs, milk and butter were found at every farm house, and fish in every stream; but the great annoyance was the difficulty of obtaining bread. Public bakers were scarce and I recall one town where but a single loaf could be obtained. With so large a family, this became a serious matter and at length my step-mother with the energy that distinguished her, took the matter in hand. Wherever we might chance to camp at night, by the roadside or in the bleakest prairies, she would set her bread to rise and then in the dim morning hours finish her baking before the early drive began. The only utensil for this purpose was a large, round iron pot or pan, with feet and a right cover, called a "Dutch oven," which was heated by heaping coals beneath it and spreading a layer on the lid. In the light of our present conveniences this appears a slow and troublesome process, but after all these years it still seems to me that no cakes or bread or biscuit were ever so sweet or so well baked as those turned out of that old Dutch oven.
     The ride through Indiana was dreary in the extreme; we had seen no one we knew anything about for days and when we reached Terre Haute and were invited to dine with a Mr. Stoll whom father had known as a boy the invitation was eagerly accepted. This gentleman was soon after appointed territorial governor of Iowa and of course left the country, but I still think of Terre Haute tenderly for the sake of the dinner he gave us.
     Richmond is also pleasantly remembered; the people were kind and hospitable and we laid in a bountiful supply of provisions to last us through the wilderness which stretched before us.
     At another town in Indiana we had to lie by on account of the sickness of a favorite mare named Dolly. I had never seen an animal doctored by filling a bottle with medicine and forcibly pouring the dose down its throat and it seemed very cruel, but in this case, at least, it was efficacious and the next Dotty was able to travel.
     When we reached the Wabash the difficulties of the journey were greatly increased. Hitherto we had crossed all streams by means of bridges, but here there was only a rope ferry boat and when we drove on board all felt as if we were taking our lives in our hands. For a long distance beyond this ferry we drove through dark and forbidding woods and when at length we were called upon to camp in their shadows we were all much depressed. To make the situation more unpleasant we entirely lost our beloved National road from this time. It had been surveyed and partly graded in Illinois, but not a foot macadamized beyond the state line. For some reason our route lay midway between Decatur and Springfield, and we passed no town in the state of sufficient importance to vary the monotony.
     Paris, our first stopping place, was not calculated to rouse our courage. The ague was widespread and there was not an able bodied person in the town. As a consequence provisions were scarce and we went on our way with many forebodings.
     The next day to our great surprise we met three cousins of father's who had been through Iowa and Illinois buying land and were returning to Maryland. Two of these gentlemen had made the entire journey on horseback, while the third, who was lame, had driven in a buggy. We were much delighted to see them, though our greetings were exchanged in the middle of a big prairie and the visit lasted less than an hour. Their account of what they had seen did much to encourage our party and we went on in far better spirits.
     Beyond Waynesville we had in a small way a really serious trouble, though it seems insignificant enough in the retrospect—we lost our mush pot! Every old housekeeper will remember the value attached in the days before porcelain-lined and galvanized ware were invented, to any iron vessel that was perfectly smooth and warranted not to discolor the most delicate food. Such a one was our mush pot and valuable as it was under any circumstances, it was doubly so in the present crisis. It had been tied throughout the journey to the wagon pole and came loosened and rolled away. My step-mother felt ruined so far as good cooking was concerned and would have driven back in search of her treasure if my father had not discouraged the attempt.
     Coming through Indiana we became acquainted with a family by the name of Boone, and as they were traveling to the same section of the country we were often thrown together. The party consisted of the old gentleman, his wife, who weighed over two hundred pounds, and six grown daughters, and a married son with his wife and two children. Each family had what was called a "Jersey" wagon and a pair of little horses to take them from their distant home in the eastern part of Pennsylvania to central Illinois. Although pleasant acquaintances they became a great drawback to traveling. Their horses were quite unequal to the load they had to draw and several times a day our teams would be unhitched to drag them out of the mud. Finally one of the young ladies was taken sick, and as the family was unable to travel in consequence, our boys hastened on, much pleased to think we were rid of them. But their joy was short lived, for by means of early rising our friends soon overtook us and we continued to help them out of the mud till we reached Mackinaw. Here they remained for a couple of weeks, but eventually came to Peoria to spend the winter. Miss Susan Boone afterwards married Dr. Maus, of Mackinaw, and they moved to Pekin. Hopkins Boone, the son, and his family went to Joliet, where they had relatives, and I lost sight of them.
     Another family we met in traveling was that of Major Walker. They left us to go to Springfield, but eventually settled in Lewistown.
     A disease as much dreaded by immigrants as ague was the "milk sickness," which we heard of in Illinois. It was said to come from a weed the cattle ate, which poisoned the milk, and was thereby communicated to human beings. Our first knowledge of Pekin was through a report that milk sickness was especially prevalent there, though indeed every new place was suspected of the same contamination.
     From Mackinaw we struck across the country, expecting to come through Tremont, but accidentally took the wrong road and passed down Deacon instead, and soon came to the bluffs overlooking Peoria. It was a beautiful afternoon, and as the sunlight gilded the tops of the trees and played hide-and-seek among the shadows, the panorama that stretched before us was most attractive. The hardships of the long weary way over which we had passed were forgotten as we looked at the glistening river and the village so picturesquely hidden by the surrounding bluffs. Even the horses seemed to feel rest was near and cantered briskly down the long slope that led to the ferry which plied at the foot of Bridge street, and over which we must pass before reaching our destination. By the time we got to Main and Water streets darkness had set in, and strangers as we were it was impossible to find accommodations for so large a party. At length an old man by the name of Hardesty, who lived in a little house where the Colburn & Birks' building now stands, offered to shelter my father and mother. He had but one room to offer, and even had no bedstead, but we sent over our own bedding and made a bed upon floor. This would not have been considered a privation by persons who had lived as we had through the last six weeks of our journey, but unfortunately a terrific storm of rain and wind came up in the night, the rain drifted under the outer door and ran in streams to the bed, which was thoroughly soaked, and the occupants driven to chairs and tables for protection. Those of us who had slept in the wagons were dry and warm but much frightened, and altogether our first night in Peoria was not a happy one. Nor can it be wondered at; but it is rather a surprise that any of us lived through the hardships of the first season, to tell the truth. The girls especially had been delicately reared, and had never done a stroke of work unless for their own pleasure. Servants had always been plentiful to attend to their slightest wish, and the transition from a life of ease to the labor and deprivations of pioneer life was enough to appall the stoutest heart.
     The Rev. Isaac Kellar, who was married to my father's sister and had lived near us in Maryland, moved to Peoria in the spring of 1835 and it was at his solicitation that we determined to make our new home in the same place. After a few months' residence in town Uncle Kellar had purchased a farm about five miles in the country which included what is now Kellar Station on the Rock Island & Peoria Railroad. Here he hastily put up a house and moved his family into it, but so difficult was it to get workmen that when we arrived, November 10, it was a shelter and no more. The walls and roof were up but the winter wind whistled between the unchinked logs and the only partitions upstairs were formed of strips of carpets or blankets. As there was not a house to be had and it was too late in the season to think of building we thankfully accepted the offer of a share in this unfinished house and seven Kellars and eleven Schneblys clustered together as best they could under one roof. All hands immediately set to work to make the place more comfortable. Such apology for carpenters as could be obtained were put to laying floors and making and hanging inside doors, and in the meanwhile big fires were kept burning day and night. As the newer family, we were able to add many comforts to the general store. There were too many of us to be lonely or low-spirited, and in spite of hardships, we were not unhappy. Mr. John Kellar had bought the farm adjoining his brother's, and gradually we came to know other neighbors, all of whom were most kind.
     Nevertheless it was a dreadful winter. The intense cold set in on the 15th of November, 1835, a full month sooner than was anticipated, and found no one prepared for it. Provisions were scarce not only with us but in the stores, and the Illinois river, the only highway to the base of supplies, was frozen over. Snow soon fell to a greater depth than had ever been known before and rendered the country roads well nigh impassable while it was fresh and entirely so when it turned to mud and slush. At the new house it sifted through every crevice and it was no rarity to shake several inches of snow off our beds in the morning which had settled upon us in the night. The situation was not helped by the knowledge that there was no lack of money to make us comfortable but that this was a time when money was of little use. There were few mechanics of any kind in the state and if there had been many, there was a dearth of materials with which to work. Every foot of lumber for building purposes was obtained by cutting logs on the farm, hauling them to a saw mill on the Kickapoo where they were sawed on the shares, and then hauling them back. Teaming was a business for which there was good demand, and as we had the best horses in the neighborhood our boys were often importuned to do something of the kind. On one occasion brother John and an assistant was employed to take the boiler of a sunken steamboat to Chicago; for this job he received $100, which does not seem a munificent sum for the time and labor expended, but he was probably glad of the opportunity to see the country and satisfied to pay expenses. On his return he brought a load of lumber, which was considered an exceedingly bright thing to do.
     As the winter progressed provisions of all sorts became scarce and expensive. Flour, I remember, was $12 per barrel, New Orleans molasses $1.25 per gallon, and butter unknown. The only thing our family had in plenty was coffee which we had brought with us and which seemed to be providentially multiplied till the spring. Flour gave out altogether and many of us were made sick by the constant use of corn-meal. At length we obtained a little wheat from a neighbor but to be ground it had to be taken across the river to Crocker's Mill at the Narrows, the only flour mill in that section of the country, and so great was the pressure of business that our messenger had to wait three days for his turn. When he returned with the beautiful white flour we welcomed him with open arms. He also brought some middlings which we made into battercakes. and though we had no proper griddle and had to bake the cakes on the stove lid, after our long course of corn they seemed a great luxury.
     The necessity for provisions finally became so great that teams were sent to Beardstown where a steamer from St. Louis had been frozen in the ice, to bring up her supply of groceries by the wagon road. From this time we were not so badly off, though even when the river opened, boats were timid about coming so far. Citizens were much in the habit of betting as to the time when the river would open and this year heavy odds were offered that it would not be before January 3. Fortunately the thaw came on the third to the delight of people generally, though it made those who had lost wagers unhappy.
     Among Uncle Kellar's earliest acquaintances in Peoria was Mr. Charles Ballance who had come out from Kentucky in 1831, and, when the Kellars came in 1835, was already well known as a prosperous young lawyer, land agent and surveyor. He had purchased a house on the corner of Water and Liberty streets, the site of old Fort Clark, and here his sister kept house for him. [The picture "Peoria in 1831" shows this house of Mr. Ballance and also shows some of the old stubs of the burnt palisades. John F. King, a contractor of Peoria, in putting a sewer down on Liberty street cut through the foundations of the bastion of this old fort. It stood so as to nearly obstruct Water street and Liberty street if it had been still standing. The main part of the fort connected with the bastion extended down Liberty street and down Water street and included probably nearly all of the ground on which the power plant of the Electric Light Company now stands. The Daughters of the American Revolution have put up a brass tablet on the corner of the power plant of the Electric Light Company to show the former location of Fort Clark.] As any sort of shelter was hard to find, when the Kellar family arrived, he invited them to stop with him till they could get a house of their own. This hospitality they accepted for two or three weeks and then rented a house belonging to Mr. Dakley on the corner of Hamilton and Adams streets, where they remained till they moved into the country as already described. When, therefore, father began to look for a farm. Uncle Kellar took him to see Mr. Ballance as one likely to know where such a one as he wanted could be found. It happened that Mr. Ballance was in Vandalia at the time, but as soon as he returned he rode out to the Kellar farm, partly on business, partly to make a social call.
     Unfortunately in selecting land father was hampered by the idea that ground which did not produce big trees would not produce big corn and as the rich alluvial prairies which appear ready-made for the plow had no charms for him and the wooded lands near the streams were generally taken up, this caused some delay. [Mr. Schnebly seems to have preferred timber land to the prairie because he thought it was more fertile. Mr. George Poage Rice, the father of the editor, came to Illinois first in 1834 and was in Peoria. He went west and settled in Monmouth. His idea was that the prairie land was the best farm land but that farms could not get along without timber to build houses, make fences and for fuel. He took up his farm land in the edge of the prairie adjoining the timber and spent all the money he could spare in buying timber land amongst the breaks thinking that he was getting the key of the situation. Some money he had to invest for his sister, he put all in timber land and also when his nephew wished to come and open a farm he sold forty acres of the timber and took up as good farm land as there is in Illinois with the money. One could sell forty acres of that farm land a day without improvements for enough to buy a section of timber land, even with the timber standing on it as good as it was in those days.] At length, however, a place was found that seemed to fill the requirements, and it happily belonged to a man who wished to sell. To us its surroundings seemed primitive, but the owner, "Sammy" Elson, was one of those restless men who always flee at the approach of civilization and the
bargain was soon made. The purchase included a small house, which afterwards became a part of the Schnebly homestead, and into it my brothers moved, taking sister Susan with them as housekeeper.
     As early as possible after coming to Peoria, Uncle Kellar had begun to preach in a frame building on Jackson between Adams and Washington streets. Here he would no doubt have done well, but unfortunately the discussion which resulted in new and old school Presbyterians was rife even in this distant place and had resulted in the formation of two Presbyterian churches where there was hardly room for one. On the 21st of December, 1834, Joshua Aiken, Moses Pettengill and Enoch Cross with the assistance of Rev. Flavel Bascom and Rev. Romulus Barnes had organized a church of eleven members with new school proclivities, and on the next day Samuel Lowry, a zealous Presbyterian from the north of Ireland, and Rev. John Birch had organized a second church with old school preferences. This latter organization included Samuel Lowry, Mrs. Andrew Gray, Mrs. Matthew Taggart, John Sutherland, Nelson Buck and others. All this occurred before I came to Peoria and had created not a little feeling, but in my first knowledge of the place both churches were leading a precarious existence, and Uncle Kellar was preaching for the so-called old school body. When my father came with his large family and a little later Mrs. Lindsay with hers and identified themselves with this latter church, it seemed established on a firm basis. And so it might have been but for enemies within the fold, who were far more destructive than those without. The real cause of the trouble which resulted in dismemberment does not appear on the records but in the language of a contemporary arose from "a strong disposition on the part of Mr. Lowry to rule whatever he was concerned with and an equally strong disposition on the part of Mr. Kellar not to be ruled." Be that as it may, it was said at the time that Mr. Lowry had taken the deed to the church lot in his own name and that he subsequently sold the lot, took the money and went away never to return. To straighten the matter out the synod sent a commission to investigate the matter and this commission dissolved the church which Mr. Lowry claimed to have organized and established another in its ruins, of which Mr. Kellar was elected pastor, and such he continued to be for several years.
     Miss Kate Kellar and I, being the young ladies of the family, usually accompanied him to church. As soon as possible father purchased a carriage for the use of the family, but during the first winter our only mode of traveling was on horseback. I remember that Cousin Kate and I had cloaks alike, made very full, wadded and lined and pleated into a yoke. As we rode along these cloaks would fill with wind like a balloon and must have presented a funny appearance if there had been any spectators on that lonely road. Both Mrs. Gray and Mrs. Lowry were very kind to us and often asked us to spend a day or two at a time with them. On one of these occasions we were invited to a dance given somewhere on Main street, but as neither of us knew how to dance and would have been thought dreadfully wicked if we had, the party was not a success as far as we were concerned.
     As we had come from a country where snow was plenty, sleighing was one of our chief amusements. We had only a home-made jumper, it is true, and in going up and down the hills had to cling to each other to prevent falling off, but youth and high spirits atoned for all shortcomings and we enjoyed it. On one occasion we took the "jumper" and went by invitation to spend the evening at John Clifton's. There was but a single room when we arrived, and the only light came from a huge log fire about which the family was gathered. After a while with some difficulty they rigged up a witch's lamp—a piece of rag drawn through a potato and set in a saucer of oil—and that furnished the balance of the illumination. We were made most welcome, however, and before our de­parture the lady of the house passed around a dish of raw turnips—the only refreshments she had. It was most kindly meant, but we were too recently from the land of apples not to be struck with the fun of it, though our own entertainments were little less primitive, being confined to hickory nuts or parched corn, to which the children sometimes added potatoes roasted in the hot ashes. It was years before we had any fruit of our own raising.
     For many reasons the family reading took a narrow range that season. Two weekly papers, the Philadelphia Presbyterian for religious items, and the Hagerstown Torchlight for news of our old neighbors, had been ordered to our new home, and were carefully read. In addition we had our choice of the Bible, a voluminous Concordance, Josephus, a treatise on the Whole Duty of Woman, Grimshaw's History of the United States, Lives of Washington. Calvin, Franklin, Marion, Patrick Henry, and for light reading Scottish Chiefs, Charlotte Temple and the Children of the Abbey. How these latter managed to creep into such dignified company I cannot remember, but I, at least, read them with avidity, and was thereby beguiled of many weary hours. A little later, through the kindness of a friend, I had access to all of Cooper's novels, then just coming into vogue, and had a new world opened up to me even though the noble red men, as there portrayed, had no resemblance to the specimens with which we occasionally came in contact.
     The winter of 1835-6 dragged its slow length along, as has been said. In February my stepmother presented us with a tiny addition to the family, and notwithstanding many discomforts inseparable with our crowded quarters, as well as the newness of the country, mother and baby both throve well. A few weeks later Mr. Ballance and I were married, Uncle Kellar being the officiating clergyman. My gown was of white jaconet, the material for which I had providentially brought from Maryland, and my one bridesmaid was Miss Amelia Boone, one of the family who traveled with us in our journey through Indiana. There were but two carriages in the town, and one of these Mr. Ballance hired for the wedding, but owing to the darkness of the night and the miserable condition of the roads it was thought best to defer the drive into town till morning. Our homecoming was naturally an event of some importance in the little town, and Miss Prudence Ballance had issued invitations for a party in our honor. It proved to be a large gathering and an elegant one for the times, but after all these years I can recall no one who was there but the Grays, Lowrys, Taggarts, Vorises, Picketts and Boones. [This Miss Amelia Boone was a cousin of the author's mother and was a relative of the pioneer hunter, Daniel Boone of Kentucky. Their family settled at an early day in Pennsylvania, fifty or sixty miles north of Philadelphia.] The house where I began my married life and where my three older children were born was on the lower side of Water street at the foot of Liberty street, and was considered a superior one for the times. It was near the site of old Fort Clark, which was built in 1813, and which burned in 1819. The fort had been made of logs, standing on end and the charred remains of these were sometimes found about our garden as long as we remained there. One was in such a state of preservation that we used it years as a hitching post until its age and history made it too valuable for that purpose and when we moved away a man by the name of Drown sawed it into walking sticks which he readily sold for 50 cents apiece. The corner on the south of us had been a powder magazine, but nothing remained of it but a few stones and the hole where the powder had been stored. Below this and a little nearer the river—there was not a street laid out south of this till you reach the ferry, now Bridge street—was the old Court House.
     In the rear, the house was generally sixty or seventy feet from the river, but in the spring it often happened that the water came up to our back steps and it was not unusual at such times to attach a fishing rod to the back door to catch a fish for the next meal. The front yard was quite barren when I came to the house, but the next year we had it fenced in and wandering pigs fenced out, so that I soon had a garden, gay with all colors of old-fashioned flowers.
     After we left this house for a larger one on South Adams street it was rented to various tenants, but rapidly went to decay and the site is now so changed by business houses and railroad tracks that even I find it difficult to identify.
     Most of those who had been invited to my wedding reception were strangers to me, but Mrs. Andrew Gray seemed like an old friend. She and her husband were warm hearted Irish people, and had been kind to me from my first arrival. Indeed, to the extent of their means, they kept open house to all comers. Among their frequent guests were William, generally called "Billy" Mitchell and two young ladies, Margaret and Louisa Heaton, who lived near where Jubilee now stands. Mr. Mitchell was a young Englishman and at that time and for years afterwards was clerk of the county court. Whether Mrs. had any hand in making the match I do not know, but these young people met often at her house and the day before we were married Uncle Kellar was called upon to perform the same services for Mr. Mitchell and Louisa Heaton. After his marriage, Mr. Mitchell took his bride to live in the house on the bluff now occupied by Mrs. Thomas Hurd and her daughter, Mrs. Hotchkiss, and soon after he was joined by his mother and a sister who eventually became Mrs. James Crawley.
     Of the Lowrys I have spoken before. They were staunch Presbyterians and according to their ideas of things good people, but Mr. Lowry was a man of determined will and strong prejudices, and it was impossible for him to see any good in a scheme which ran counter to his preconceived ideas. Mr. Balllance was fond of quoting Hudibras with reference to him where he described the English Presbyterians:

  ''Who never kneel but to their God to pray,
   Nor even then, unless in their own way."

     He was a prominent citizen for a few years, but became involved in the church quarrel before alluded to and left the place.
     Mr. Taggart was another Irishman: his wife was a sister of Mrs. Lowry, and a most excellent kindly woman. They had two daughters, Jane and Mary, the latter of whom was not fully grown at this time, but some years after married Mr. Dalmain, an artist. In the first Peoria directory issued in 1844 Mr. Taggart would seem to have no business, but the word "gentleman" is opposite his name. On the same page appears the business card of Jane Amanda Taggart's Select School, wherein is taught "Philosophy, History, Arithmetic, Geography, Grammar, Reading and Spelling. Terms, $2.50 per quarter."
     Mr. Ballance came from Kentucky to Peoria in 1831 and soon afterward induced his friends, the Vorises to join him here. The family consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Francis Voris, two younger brothers. Abram and Sam, a sister, Hortensia, and Miss Sarah Congleton. The brothers kept a general store. which developed into a forwarding and commission business. They also went into the packing of pork in winter, which they would pack in flat boats and when the river opened in the spring send it down the river where there was always a ready market for provisions. Their store was located on Water street for years and their various interests furnished employment for a number of young men. Miss Hortensia Voris married Dr. Hogan, a practicing physician, but in a year or two they moved to Texas and I lost sight of them. Mr. Abram Voris went down the river as supercargo of a line of flat-boats, and while in the neighborhood of Natchez took the cholera and died. A year or two later Mr. Samuel Voris married Miss Congleton and for more than a quarter of a century the two brothers, Francis and Samuel, with their families, lived together in the homestead in perfect accord. As children grew to maturity and were married, additions would be made to the original house, but so long as the first couples remained there was no thought of separation. As time went on they prospered and for years were considered among the wealthiest as well as the hospitable people in the county. The house or rather the collection of
houses that sheltered so many was near the corner of Adams and Oak street, but has so fallen into decay that it is no longer habitable. The beautiful lawn is entirely destroyed. The garden that was the pet and pride of the neighborhood had not left even a trace, and the fine old trees are all dead and gone. It is a melancholy spectacle and one that I would gladly forget.
     As I came from a southern state and belonged to a family of slave owners, my sympathies were naturally opposed to everything savoring of abolitionism. In these days when the Christian world is unanimously convinced of the iniquity of slavery, it is difficult to realize the intensity of feeling fifty years ago (A.D. 1846) for and against the institution. As years went by sympathy on either side developed into hatred, families were divided and the solid south was arrayed against the solid north, but in New England was to hold him up to approbrium and he must be singularly brave and conscientious who would avow his belief in the hated doctrines.
     Whatever elements might have entered in to divide that most conservative of bodies, the Presbyterian church, it is certain that the crowning trouble was the difference of opinion on the subject of slavery. The north saw but one side, and believing that it was wrong felt that it must be pulled up, root and branch; that it must be done at once regardless of consequences, and the results be left to God. Many in the south on the contrary believed it to be a divine institution, sanctioned by Scripture and the usages of antiquity; others of Africa in touch with the civilizing influences of the whites, and all felt that right or wrong, the blacks were here and to set them free was to involve the country in
far greater troubles than could possibly arise from continuing them in slavery. It would seem that whatever the moral aspect of the question it need not have affected any relations in the center of a free state like Illinois, but beliefs are not bound by geographical lines and the old school Presbyterian church with its supersensitiveness on the slave question and the new school, the offspring of Puritan parents, were the results.
     I do not undertake to give a history of this new school of Main street church, as it was called, but I remember many of the people connected with it. The Readers were Joshua Aiken, Moses Pettengill and Dr. Cross, but William A. Nurse, Robert E. Little, Dr. Castle, the Burlingame brothers, a man by the name of Tarleton and Mrs. Jeffries did much to make it a success.
     One of the first pastors was Rev. William T. Allen, who was noted for his anti-slavery proclivities, and wrote after his signature, "Preacher of righteousness," as descriptive of his calling. Joshua Aiken, who is now remembered principally as a relative of the late Mark Aiken, lived at Cottonwood, the farm afterwards bought and improved by the late S. S. Clark. He owned a small flouring mill on the Kickapoo about three miles south of town, which was able of turning out fifty barrels of flour per day. He afterwards added a saw mill to it and ran both together till on one of its periodical floods the creek carried the whole plant away so successfully that not a suggestion of it can now be found. It must have been a serious disappointment to those concerned, as the vicinity had been staked off into lots and a considerable amount of business done in the way of selling building spots in the town which was called Peoria Mills.
     Moses Pettengill was one of the earliest merchants of the place and as he was a careful business man whatever he undertook was a success. Although stern; he was very pious and exceedingly conscientious. He was an avowed abolitionist and it was said that he was connected with the so-called underground railroad and gave protection to slaves who fled across the border. It was told with honor that Mrs. Pettengill had entertained colored women in her parlor and the tale produced a large sized scandal. I am not sure that the story is true, but feel that if either of these good people had felt it their duty to entertain the lowest of the black race they would not have hesitated a moment to do it.
     Another prominent member of the new school church was Amos Stevens. He was an educated man and opened a school when he first came to Peoria but left it in a year or two and went to Baton Rouge. Here he made the acquaintance of a family by the name of Silliman, who, perhaps, through his influence, spent several summers in Peoria and built the houses occupied by Singer & Wheeler on Water street. After being away two or three years Mr. Stevens returned and soon after married a Miss Morrow, who was a teacher and a sister of Mrs. Rufus Burlingame.
     Enos Cross belonged to the same organization. He was a practicing physician of some ability and a brother-in-law of Mrs. Pettengill.
     All of these had the reputation of being very serious men and as far remove as possible from any hilarity. On one occasion the congregation undertook to give a church social and Jim Alexander, who was considered the wit of town, was invited to attend. He remained but a short time and gave as a reason that there was no one there but Moses and Aaron and Enoch, and it was too near the flood for him.
     Mr. Nurse was the first man to introduce fanning mills into central Illinois and furnished the nucleus that finally developed into the Proctor business, his advertisements he proudly announced that for wheat fans he made cross wove riddles.
     A valuable member of this church was Mrs. Jeffries, grandmother of Mr. Edward Gale. She was a widow with a large family of daughters, and a devoted church worker. The young ladies were noted as capable, industrious women, and as they came to maturity were married, three of them as I remember becoming the wives of Theodore Adams, John Bolton and Alexander Allison.
     Like all new settlements Peoria had its share of eccentric people. One of them was John G. Bryson. When he first came to the country he taught school in Richwoods township and was very acceptable in that capacity till Jack Hines started the story that he was in the habit of correcting his pupils by hitting them over the head with stove wood. After that he clerked first for Aquilla Wren and then for the Voris Brothers, and finally had a dry goods store of his own on Main street. This he ran in a slow old-fashioned way till more progressive men monopolized the business. Those who knew him in later years as an eccentric, taciturn recluse, will be surprised to hear that he was once engaged to be married, at which time Mr. Voris said he walked so much around a certain tree, meditating on his beloved that the grass refused ever after to grow on the spot. He was a great man to argue and whatever the question, he might safely be counted on the contrary side.
     Early settlers will have no difficulty in recalling an old Pole named Klopiski, who kept a sort of restaurant for many years on Main street. The boys dubbed him "Old Pork and Beans" and on ordinary occasions he was rather addicted to soiled linen and old slippers run down at the heels, but when dressed he was a noble looking man and every inch a cultivated gentleman. He came to America during the troublous times of Poland and professed to have been a nobleman and a military leader. He was very fond of chess and Mr. Ballance used sometimes to invite him to the house that they might have a game together. Very often the game would be forgotten and the old gentleman would talk for hours of outrages practiced upon his native country. As I look back I think we did not appreciate him as we should, and if he was still alive believe the present generation would be disposed to make a hero of him.
     One of the most conspicuous if not as he thought the greatest man of the day was H. W. Cleveland. Where he came from or what his previous history might have been I do not know, but he suddenly appeared among us in several unexpected roles. Somebody had taken it upon himself to raise a company of militia, though in a spirit of bragadocio they paid it the compliment of calling it a regiment. Cleveland was a candidate for colonel, and, owing to the unpopularity of the other aspirants, was elected, as much to his own surprise as that of others. He immediately appointed a complete line of staff officers as though it was a full regiment, among whom I recollect Dr. Rouse as medical officer and Mr. Ballance as quartermaster. About the same time the colonel got a charter for a new ferry across the river which was to be propelled by horse power and the lucky thought struck him to have a parade of his new regiment and a jubilee over the launching of his new boat at the same time. At length the auspicious day arrived. Horses were scarce but every officer that could get one was mounted for the parade. The colonel resided in a frame house on the corner of Madison and Jackson streets and in front of his door he had a table set with wines and all sorts of liquors and every time the parade went around the town the head of the column stopped at his door for refresh­ments. The more they refreshed the more foolish they became, and one by one the more dignified dropped out of the parade. There was a character named "Tig Tom" who being a little in doubt as to his military duties hunted up Dr. Rouse for advice. The doctor was a good deal disgusted by this time and growled out, "if this stuff makes the colonel sick it's my duty to physic him and yours to wait on him!"
     After much fuss and feathers the parade finally reached the new boat and Colonel Cleveland proceeded to make a speech, the opening words of which were remembered and repeated by Peorians for many a day. He said: "Fellow citizens and countrymen: Let us now proceed to commemorate the memory of the immortal Washington who has long since been laid in the tomb."
     The whole thing became so ridiculous that the regiment was never again heard of and even the boat seemed to partake of the general fooling and was soon after sold to a circus company and taken down to St. Louis.

Note: Mrs. Ballance at the time these recollections were penned was an old lady but her remembrance of persons and events was remarkably full and clear. The reminiscences here given were written at the request of the Herald-Transcript, and printed in that paper in 1899, but one year before her death.


     Times were very bad when we arrived in Illinois. There was no money in the state; no sale for grain except to travelers or emigrants; groceries, boots and shoes had to be paid for with cash; pork was all the farmers had that would sell for money. Fisher £ Chapin bought hogs at Lacon, and always for them with Traders Bank of Boston bills. The money was new, stamped F. & C.—Fisher & Chapin. It paid taxes in Peoria, Marshall  and Woodford counties. It was currently reported that Fisher paid sixty cents on the dollar in gold for money and had to redeem every dollar of it in gold that came back to the bank in Boston. That was good financiering for both parties and a fair sample of early day business. Fisher always had a New Orleans boat come up every spring during the high water to take his pork to Orleans. One spring, about 1843, or possibly a year or two later, David Heats, a merchant of Chillicothe, sent one hundred sacks of corn to St. Louis and sold it for money, getting about fifteen cents per bushel. Immediately on returns from the shipments he sent word all around that he would take grain in payment for boots, shoes, groceries and debts. That was the first shipment of grain that I ever heard of. A little later that same year Isaac Underhill, of Peoria, had Captain Moss, of Peoria, come up and take a load of his "rent" corn to St. Louis, where he received cash for it. After harvest he sent to the farmers of La Salle Prairie that on a certain date he would have a boat at Rome if they wished to sell their corn. They all availed themselves of opportunity, as that was the first chance they had had to sell grain for cash. There were two boats loaded with corn at Rome that fall. After that there a market for grain at some price for cash.
     My father made three trips to Chicago with wheat. On one of these trips the load brought forty cents per bushel. He brought back shoes, tea and a dollar's worth of coffee and sugar, which mother made to last until the middle of the next summer. I think this was in 1841. During the dry year—the year of the big prairie fire—the mill race at Senachwine dried up and no flour could be obtained. My mother grated corn on a tin pan punched full of holes and made corn bread and cakes for about two weeks until we could get a grist ground at Crown Creek mill, east of Chillicothe, about where the Santa railroad is now located.
     Two of my mother's brothers, Elijah and Norman Hyde, came to Peoria about 1823 or 1824. Norman was county surveyor, postmaster and county judge when Chicago was in Peoria county. I have in my possession his textbook and surveying instruments. I have a chest of drawers and some dishes that belonged to my grandmother at the time of her marriage in 1790. In the line of ancient documents I have a history of Greece, printed in 1699, and a copy of a political discussion, published in 1671.


     The house now (1904) being torn down on the southeast corner of place is one with many thrilling historical events. It was built in the '40s, first house in Lawn Ridge, by Deacon, or Nathaniel Smith. The frame of large square-hewn timbers, some pieces eight by ten, mortised and braced and cross braced so it might be sure and stand the howling winds from the northwest. The other lumber was hauled from Chicago with ox teams, taking up a load of wheat and bringing back lumber, the round trip taking about a week.
     This house in the early '50s was one of the many depots on the underground railroad. The next one on the south was Deacon Burge's of Farmington, the next on the north was Owen Lovejoy's of Princeton. .Many a time when the slaveholder, with sheriff and posse, backed up by the Tegeft slave law which allowed him to call on any one to assist him to run down his slaves, and if they refused, be liable to a fine, would be only a few hours behind his slaves as they passed the place. The old house standing there looked so solemn and innocent that they never suspected that down in the cellar were three or four badly frightened men and women trying to escape to free Canada, and waiting for the excitement to go by and night to come so they could be transported on to Princeton.
     After occupying this house a few years, Deacon Smith bought and built over on the west side of the road a similar one, where he lived a number of years. He was still depot master and fed the runaway slaves the same as before. He was a great character. He was not only a farmer, but a blacksmith, and a good one, too. He was an all around man. He could make a good speech and make it interesting on any subject. He took the lead in all advance movements, church and politics, established and maintained Sunday schools in all the country around. Later in life, he drifted to the west and finally returned to his old home in New York state, where he died. No doubt Deacon Smith had his faults but on the whole I believe him to have been a great and good man and one that helped to make this county what it is.
     Deacon Smith sold this place in an early day to a man by the name of Job Brown, or "Joby" Brown, as he was called. He was more of an inventor than a farmer. There is no doubt but what Job Brown was the real inventor of the corn planter. It was in this house that he studied and thought out the great problem of planting corn by machinery. It was here by the door he first pulled his machine by hand, and then with one horse, and finally made a planter something similar to planters now in use, only dropping three rows, and instead of wheels had sled runners. The dropping part was the real invention. It is said the inventor seldom gets the profits; it was so in this case. It was in this house he signed away all his rights in the planter for the price of a horse, and another person became rich from the manufacture of the corn planter.
     Brown was also the inventor of a seed sower, and a scalding tub, that could be moved from one farm to another, in which hogs could be cleaned much faster than in the old way. This was in the days when farmers dressed their hogs at home for market and this machine could easily run out seventy or eighty a day. He was a very odd and eccentric man but known in his day all over the land as an honest, good man.
     After a time Brown, too, sold out and moved away. Some twenty years ago there came a man by the name of Scoon who lived in the house. He had only one arm. He made and sold what he called Peoria bitters, made of several kinds of drugs, a little whiskey and lots of water; but it would make you drunk, and that was enough. He did a thriving business for a while, sold it in pint bottles, one dollar a bottle. The business increased, so he rented a small build­ing on the east road, within a few rods of the Cornell house. He fixed it up with shelves and counter and a big lamp in the center of the room and on the opening night set the bitters up to the boys, went home late and to bed, and, I suppose, fell into a sound sleep. It was one of those calm, still nights and not a breath of air stirring, when at midnight, or a little later, there was a terrible explosion which was heard for miles. The next morning when Scoon came down after breakfast, he found his shop and bitters blown to flinders; so that ended Scoon and his bitters. But who put the jug of powder and laid the fuse under the house will never be known. Many detectives came and lay around from Peoria but went back without solving the mystery.


     About 1820 Lewis Hallock came to Peoria county. He had been a trapper and fur trader among the Indians of Wisconsin and the northwest. Soon after coming to the county he located on the land at the mouth of Hallock hollow in Hallock township. He was a Quaker and was opposed to war and bloodshed, his life among the Indians and his kindness and truthfulness to them winning for him great influence with them.
     In 1825, Namaqua. an Indian of the Pottawatomie tribe, killed a Frenchman in a drunken brawl. He was arrested, and there being no place of confinement nearer than the Springfield jail, Hallock furnished bail. No one ever supposed that the Indian would appear, but Hallock knew he would and on the first day of the term of court Namaqua was on hand. He was tried and sentenced to death at the November term of court that year, but through the influence of Hallock and others, who believed the sentence was unjust, his case was taken to the supreme court, where it was reversed and remanded for new trial. The trial was put off from time to time, Hallock always appearing with his prisoner. He remained a lifelong friend of Hallock.
     In 1831 the winter was very severe, a big snow falling early, some three feet deep and drifting badly, and later was covered with a thick crust. A party of Indians on a hunting trip were caught in what was later called Gimblet hollow, west of Sparland. Hallock, knowing of their peril, went to their assistance, piloting them down the hollow to the river, then on the ice to Senachwine creek and up the creek to Northampton, along the bluff to his place, where he had a pen of corn and his cabin, which he shared with them, and the braves took turns at breaking the road through the snow, the women and ponies following. It took three days to make the trip. The deer could not escape and Hallock had the Indians secure enough venison to last until spring.
     When the Black Hawk war was first inaugurated, Hallock knew the peril of the whites, and having made many trips to the lead mines near Galena, had many acquaintances between that place and Dixon, whom he determined to warn. Taking his rifle he started and as the dusk of the evening approached, he arrived on a hill overlooking the Pottawatomie camp near "Indiantown" now called Tiskilwa.
     The young braves were holding a war dance and working themselves up to a fighting mood. Hallock knew all the war whoops of the different tribes. The Iroquois being their worst and most feared enemy, he gave their war cry and rushed down the hill through the brush, landing at the chief's tent, who not being fooled, sat quietly smoking, while all the "braves" ran for cover. Upon seeing a lone white man they came out, brandishing their tomahawks making warlike demonstrations. Hallock stood his rifle against a tree, lit pipe and advised the old chief "to spank them papooses and send them to bed." A wave of the old chief's hand and all slunk away. Hallock then handed his pipe to the chief, who refused it. He then stepped back and said: "What! refuse to smoke the pipe of peace with the white man that never sheds blood, that protects the red man from the anger of the pale face and from starving when hungry? Who fed your tribe when the snow was deep? Hallock!" Slowly the chief arose, took the pipe, gave it the customary whiff and returned it, then he produced his sack of salt, took a pinch, and handed it to Hallock, who did the same. And the tribe knew Hallock was a friend and not an enemy. After supper with the chief, he demanded safe conduct to the camp of Black Hawk. On the morrow two Indians accompanied him on ponies. Near Dixon on the edge of some heavy timber, they came in sight of a band of some five hundred Indians, who, on discovering a white man in charge of two Indians, sent a troop of about fifty Indians out to meet them. They came galloping down upon them in full war paint, demanding the pale face for sacrifice. A wave of the hand and announcement of safe conduct to Black Hawk from their chief, caused them to fall in behind in silence. Of Black Hawk he demanded a safe conduct to Galena, which was granted. Two Indians escorted him to a point where they told him he was beyond danger, and as he went along he gave the alarm and all white settlers, about thirty families, fled to the block houses for safety.
     For some years the lead mines of Galena were the only place where settlers could get cash for their cattle or produce. Hallock often went there with cattle and sometimes came back on horseback by way of Dixon, but more frequently he came down the river to Rock Island, or a near point west. Sometimes he floated down in a canoe, and at other times came with a flat boat, loaded for St. Louis. From this point he would walk across the hundred miles home, always carrying his rifle and camping wherever night overtook him.
     After the war in 1832, Black Hawk and his band located in Iowa near Des Moines, and they, too, often went to Galena to trade.
     And now comes the tradition of Hallock. Many people called it "Hallock's dream." Some say it was a squaw after the death of Namaqua who showed the vision to him, but from my boyhood recollection, having heard the tale from many and from some to whom he had told it himself, I think Hallock's version was this: Some years after the Indians left, Hallock made one of his trips to Galena and there met Namaqua, the Indian he had stood by in trouble and who had never ceased to hold Hallock as his saviour. White men sometimes forget a favor, an Indian never! He told Hallock he was going down the river and across the country to his band and wanted him to accompany him in his canoe, which Hallock consented to do. They floated down the Mississippi and at sunset they landed, made their camp fire, ate their supper and smoked the pipe of friendship. Namaqua said, "Would you like to see where the 'white bullets' come from?" Hallock said he would.
     In early days the Indians had many silver bullets which, until they learned their value to the pale face, they traded pound for pound, as they were hard and the Indians preferred the lead bullets. Namaqua said, "If my tribe knew I had shown a white man this they would kill me. Promise you will never tell of this until I am dead." Hallock promised and never revealed the story until after Namaqua's death several years afterward. He blindfolded Hallock, they got into the river, where he whirled the canoe around until it was impossible for Hallock to tell the direction. He then rowed about an hour and landed. They walked a short distance, waded what seemed to be a creek, went up an incline for some distance and then stopped. He could hear him remove some stones. He then told Hallock to crawl after him, which he did for a couple of rods. The Indian then removed the blindfold and lit a torch. They were standing in a passageway, which they followed a little distance and came into a cave, possibly 200 feet across and 20 to 50 feet high. On examining the walls he saw where a large amount of silver had been dug out of crevices, some pure silver, other places streaked with lead. Hallock was allowed to examine it and satisfy himself that it was silver and lead, but he was not allowed to carry any away, nor did the Indian take any. There seemed to have been large quantities removed and there was any amount of it in sight. Namaqua said none had been taken away for a long time. They returned as they came and before landing at their camp, the canoe was whirled until direction was lost. Hallock said they might have rowed several miles, or as many rods. They may have crossed a creek before going up to the cave, or they might have waded in the edge of the river a few feet. Indian strategy and shrewdness threw all chance of tracing the route to the winds.
     Years afterward Hallock scanned and searched again and again for the silver cave, but in vain. His belief was that it was on the Iowa side of the river.   
     Many persons said it was a dream of Hallock's; others thought it was truth, as Hallock was always truthful. Inasmuch as the Indians did have silver bullets in early times and as but few places have been found where they could have procured them and those places far to the north, and as quite an amount of silver has been found in the lead mines of Galena, there is no good reason that the "silver cave" does not exist. I am inclined to believe that the gratitude of Namaqua in showing Hallock the cave was covered by the fact that his treachery to his own tribe was death and he made the find so secure that years must elapse after his death before even a vigorous and systematic search could discover his treachery to his tribe.
     Hallock believed it. And the reader can follow the legend in the same mystery as have others in the years gone by. Do not lose sight of one fact, in your judgment. The red man never forgot a friend or a friendly act, even in time of war, when all the bloody passions of his race were called into play. I have penned this for the eye of many who have heard the tradition as it was handed down through the years, often mutilated, and its truth destroyed. Such is of the legends of Hallock township of eighty years ago.


     Lest the historic old brick schoolhouse, located upon Blue Ridge, in Hallock township, and the many things, mostly educationally and socially, which clustered around it in the pioneer days should be forgotten, we have been tempted, by our own feelings and partly by the solicitations of others, to attempt to write a little sketch of the early days of the community who built it. We have that there were many things worthy of note that would be of abiding interest to the present and future generations connected with the history of this community, that so far as we can ascertain have never been made a matter of record, which, with the lapse of time, must pass into oblivion. While at this late day any record that we can write must be more or less defective for want of details, still we feel that we have been very fortunate in finding two living witnesses whose lives are practically contemporary with the first settlers of the little community of Blue Ridge, and they are the only ones living, so far as we can ascertain, who were old enough to furnish items from personal recollections back as 1837. We refer to James Will, now (1910) past eighty-five years of and his brother George, two years his junior, who were for many years friends and neighbors in Illinois. It is through the courtesy of Mrs. Lura Will Johnson and George Will and daughter Hulda, who have furnished us with of the memoranda in substance from which we write.
     The earliest settlers on Blue Ridge were Leonard Ranstead, Zenus G. Bliss, E. C. Root, Lucas Root and Egbert Palmer. The exact time of their settling there is not known to us, but we think we are safe in saying not later than 1836. William B. Will, Elihu Stowell, Roswell Nurse and son Isich, and Ebenger Stowell came in 1836, the latter three making the trip from Chenango county, New York on foot. After looking over the country and locating land they made the trip to the nearest land office at Quincy and made their entry; returning, they built a cabin. Leaving Isich in possession, the other two, Roswell Nurse and father, returned to New York state late in the fall by way of the lakes. Roswell Nurse with his family moved to Illinois the following spring. Our father did not move with his family until 1843. In 1837 Robert Wilson with his family moved to this little community from Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania.
     In 1840 the little brick schoolhouse was built, the necessary funds raised by subscription, which certainly meant almost a sacrifice offering in these early days of scarce and hard-earned dollars. Robert Wilson, a stone and brick mason by trade, assisted by his son George, did the mason work, while Zenus Bliss and Egbert Palmer looked after the wood work. While the house would hardly stand as a model for these more modern days, we doubt if a house was ever built which was more highly appreciated by the public or served a better purpose of general utility for all sorts of public gatherings. The first taught in this house was by William Atwood. who received twelve dollars per month for his services. The school was thoroughly patronized for many around, starting with fifty scholars, which was soon increased to the fullest possible capacity of the house to accommodate. Everybody took in boarders, going upon the old time pioneer plan, as we suppose, of "come in, if you can get in."
     It was while Robert Will was working upon the old Jubilee college building at Jubilee that he met the old pioneer preacher of the Methodist Episcopal church, Father Cummins, whom he invited to come to Blue Ridge to preach. It was he who organized the Methodist church at the settlement in 1840 with John Furgeson and wife, Jacob Booth and wife and two daughters, and Maverick Pratt and wife as charter members—an organization that stands to this day. The following spring a revival was held, which increased the membership to forty. It is said that some young men of a rowdyish turn of mind went out from Chillicothe with the avowed object of breaking up the meeting but with such men as John Furgeson, Jacob Booth and Maverick Pratt in the front rank, men with the courage of their convictions and the physical ability to defend them, the rowdy crowd reconsidered the matter and concluded that under the circumstances "discretion was the better part of valor," and as they rode away one of them called out "I name this place Blue Ridge," and Blue Ridge it has been called from that day to this.



Submitted by your Host

Any contributions, corrections, or suggestions
would be deeply appreciated!

Copyright © Janine Crandell & all contributors
All rights reserved