Link to main page

History and Reminiscences Vol. I


Vol. I

HISTORY
AND
REMINISCENCES


FROM THE RECORDS OF


OLD SETTLERS' UNION
OF PRINCEVILLE
AND VICINITY



Material comprised in

Reports of Committees on History and Reminiscences

for years 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910





Published under the auspices of

Old Settlers Union of Princeville and Vicinity

August, 1912






S. S. SLANE

PETER AUTEN

Publishing Committee



3

THE OLD SETTLERS' UNION OF PRINCEVILLE
AND VICINITY.



Organized August 22, 1906, and first picnic held September 19, of same year, in "Log Cabin Grove" of Charles F. Cutter, who had been prime mover in the organization.

Object, "To perpetuate the memories of pioneer days, foster a reverence for our forefathers, and encourage the spirit of fellowship and hospitality."

Annual picnic and reunion last Thursday in August, unless changed by Executive Committee.

Eligible to membership: Any person 21 years of age, having resided within the State of Illinois one year; dues, $1.00 per year.

Townships included: Princeville, Akron, Millbrook, Jubilee, Hallock and Radnor in Peoria County; Essex, Valley and West Jersey in Stark County; Truro in Knox County; and La Prairie in Marshall County.

Committees on History and Reminiscences:

1906: S. S. Slane, Mrs, J. E. Merritt, Edward Auten.

1907: Edward Auten, Hannah G. Hutchins, F. B. Blanchard.

1908: Edward Auten, Rose C. Armstrong, II. J. Cheesman.

1909: Edward Auten, L. L. Stewart, W. H. Adams.

1910: S. S. Slane, W. H. Adams.



4

INTRODUCTION

This book is a reproduction, with a few corrections and additions, of the various sketches as transmitted by the respective Committees to the Union each year, and the sketches are given here in the same order as transmitted to the Union, the year of writing being indicated on each sketch.
Each of the Reminiscence Committees has realized that the families named in its sketches are but a few taken from among the many families worthy the pen of a historian; and the Publishing Committee likewise realizes that this booklet contains but a part of the families that should be noted. The Committee therefore hopes that the publication of this volume will be an incentive to the writing of additional family sketches, and bespeaks the preparation of such sketches by families interested, for future Reminiscence Committees, which may in due time be published in another volume similar to this one.
Besides the copies of this booklet subscribed in advance of publication, the committee has a limited number of copies still on hand for sale at cost: 35 cents per copy postpaid; 30 cents, carriage not prepaid.



5

DANIEL PRINCE.
By Mrs. J. E. Merritt, 1906.

As near as we have been able to learn, Daniel Prince of Indiana was the first white man to settle at the Grove, He came to this locality in 1821 and started his home on the South side of the grove, on the land now belonging to Mr. S. S. Slane. His cabin was built after the style of Mr. Cutter's, save that it had no glass windows, no upper story, and had a hole in the side for a door.
Here Mr. Prince lived for many years among the wild men of the forest with no companion save his faithful Thomas, concerning whom many interesting anecdotes are related. He early made friends with the red men, and when the Black Hawk War broke out in 1832, unlike the other early settlers he did not go into the Fort at Peoria., but remained on his farm and was unmolested.
About the year 1833, becoming tired of his lonely existence, he married Miss Betty Morrow, aunt to our well known fellow citizen, Mr. Hugh Morrow. To them were born three children.
For several years Mr. Prince and his wife remained here improving their home farm. But as others moved in and the neighborhood began to assume a more civilized aspect, a restless longing for the pioneer life he so loved, impelled him in 1839 to move to Southwestern Missouri, a country which at that time was the wild, unimproved West. And here I am sorry to say, we lose track of him, none of his descendants having lived in this part of the country for any length of time. One of his sons, I am told, visited with his relatives, the Morrow's, a few years ago.
Many interesting and amusing stories are told by the old settlers who were acquainted with this eccentric, but benevolent man. Hospitality was the first law of


6

his life, Soon after settling here he began to raise a nursery. When he set out his own orchard, he planted a row of trees all along the South and West sides of his farm which were free for all. Travelers were invited to help themselves, All from far and near were welcome to the apples as long as they lasted. The first apple sauce the writer ever remembers of eating, was made from apples grown on these trees. It was mighty nice, too.
At one time before he had any white neighbors, Mr. Prince was bitten by a rattle snake. There was no one to do anything for him. He rapidly grew worse. The thought of dying alone where prowling wolves would come in and devour his body, leaving nothing to tell the story of his tragic fate, was not a pleasant one. He determined, while strength was still left him to do so, to climb up on the roof of his cabin, out of the reach of wolves and where some chance explorer or friendly Indian seeing his body would give him a decent burial. After climbing on top of the cabin, he found that elevating his foot relieved his pain, Thus he remained until some passing Indians, seeing their white friend in this peculiar position, stopped to make inquiries. On learning the facts they took him down, applied the remedies they used for snake bites and Mr. Prince soon recovered.
Mr. Prince raised large numbers of cattle and hogs on his farm. One day, at a time when he had about 100 yoke of oxen, a gentleman stopped at the cabin and wished to buy four yoke. Mr. Prince replied that he had none to sell. "I will give $500.00 for four yoke of oxen." "I told you I had none to sell," returned Mr. Prince, and the man was compelled to look elsewhere for cattle. Soon after Mr. Prince learned that a family in the neighborhood was short of provision. He immediately selected a good beef from his herd, butchered it and bountifully supplied the suffering family with food. It was his habit, say his early associates, to supply the poor in the vicinity with beef and pork. An old settler who was personally acquainted


7

with, and a near neighbor of Daniel Prince, told me that he was as kind and good a neighbor as one could wish for, and that no man in early days had done more for the people of this place than did he.
While making no profession of religion himself, Mr. Prince always allowed his wife to throw out the latch string to any minister who came along, and open their cabin for religious services, Not long since I heard an account of one of these early meetings held at the Prince home, The house was at that time a double log with entry, a large fire place in one end, a bed in the other, In the open space at the foot of the bed, stood the preacher, the congregation occupying the remaining space between bed and fire.
In the midst of the discourse when the minister had waxed eloquent, the cloth drapery over the door was pushed aside and Mr. Prince, who had been detained looking after his stock which he never neglected, entered, clad in buckskin clothes, quietly warmed himself by the fire, for it was cold, then gently rose up. went to the bed, turned the covers back and jumped in. buckskins and all, and covered himself up. The minister, unheeding the interruption, went on with his sermon, When he had closed the meeting the neighbors returned to their homes, glad to have had the privilege of listening to a gospel sermon, and thanking Mr. Prince for his hospitality, if he did think he could enjoy the sermon better resting in bed. Much more of interest might be told concerning this kind and brave man for whom our grove, village and township have been named, but enough has been said to prove that the founder of the early settlement here was no mean character, but one who justly deserves our profound respect and one who should be held in grateful remembrance by all our younger citizens as well as the early settlers.


8


STEPHEN FRENCH AND FAMILY.

By Mrs. J. E. Merritt, 1906.

The first man to move his family to Prince's Grove was Stephen French, who came here from Fort Clark in 1828 and settled on the land known as the Onias Bliss farm, now owned by Emanuel Keller, He built a cabin near where the Onias Bliss frame house now stands. When Stephen was away the wife Anna and her little ones had for company wild Indians, wild woods, wild wolves and wild cats. The original cabin built by Mr. French stood until recent years and is, I suppose, well remembered by many present.
Mr. French and his wife, like Mr. Prince, loved pioneering, their son Mr. Dimmick French, being the first white child born in Peoria County. They had no pronounced religious views but were hospitable to all denominations alike, They were very kind hearted, Mrs. French doing much in ministering to the sick, and nursing wherever suffering among the early settlers called her. At one time there was much sickness in their neighborhood. Often when the day's work was (lone, she and Stephen would take their two little ones and go to the sick neighbor's where she would spend the night in caring for the sick one, her husband in looking after the children. Mrs. French has often told me stories of their early days here, At one time she invited the Indian women in the Grove to take supper with her. She set her table as if for white guests. When the red women were seated they looked in astonishment at the knives and forks and then at each other. Then they picked them up and minutely examined the strange instruments. Laying them again carefully in their places, the squaws fell to eating just like monkeys.
Many nights when Mr. French was away on business she would look out and see the yellow glaring eyes of the wolves prowling around the cabin, And they were not prairie coyotes either, but tremendous black


9

and gray wolves. You may be certain that Mistress Anna did not let the children out of doors on these occasions, She had no strong clapboard doors fastened with chain and padlock, as Mr. Cutter has, but depended for safety in barricading the door of her cabin where ordinarily only a quilt hung, with whatever available means she had, and in keeping a bright fire constantly roaring in the huge fire-place.
In this little cabin several of the French children were born, Mirandus, born March 9, 1832, being the first white child native at Prince's Grove, There were eleven children in all, but in 1848 some serious disease developed among them and in a few weeks five promising children were laid to rest, some of them being already grown, The family have proven very short lived as a rule, Several of them died in their twenty-eighth year.
Captain John French was the youngest boy of the family. He enlisted in the early days of the Civil War, and was in Sherman's famous March from Atlanta to the Sea. He fought in the very last struggles on Cape Fear River, where in March, 1865, a cruel bullet ended his young and promising life. This seems especially sad as this battle in which he lost his life was fought after the surrender of Lee and after the war was virtually ended, He died not knowing that the cause for which he gave his life was already successful, that liberty, union and peace were triumphant. To remember Captain French is to remember one of Princeville 's most promising and energetic young men.
In the year 1857 Mr. French bought a home in the Village of Princeville and they moved from the little cabin where they had experienced so many sorrows and joys, to the new home where he and his wife spent the remainder of their days.
None of the original members of the family are now living, the name having become extinct, Of the grandchildren six are living, There are sixteen great-grandchildren and two great great-grandchildren. Mr. French was one of the first magistrates elected in this place,


10

and filled offices of trust many times, and we feel that both Stephen and Anna French filled their places in life well and honorably.
(Mr. J. Z. Slane says that John French was killed before Lee's surrender. He was mortally wounded on March 16, 1865, and died early next morning. Lee surrendered April 9, 1865.)


THE WILLIAM P. BLANCHARD FAMILY.
By Mrs, J. E. Merritt, 1906.

The next family that I am to write up is that of William P. and Mary Blanchard, They did not settle immediately at the Grove, but so near that it might be termed in the suburbs. In the early thirties Mr. Blanchard, finding his large family in need of a larger scope for expansion, made an exploring expedition to the West and North of where he was then living in Lawrence County, Illinois, to which place they had come from Kentucky in their early married life. On this trip he visited Prince's Grove and vicinity. He ventured prairie-ward, selecting a quarter-section of land two miles west of the Prince farm, which he afterward bought. To his mind there were already about as many settlers here as the grove would supply with fuel, little dreaming that the whole country contained but a few feet below the surface, good coal sufficient to supply fuel for all who would ever live in it for generations to come. In 1835 he with his two oldest boys, John and Marshal, started for the place destined to be their future home, But the winter was a very severe one. They were delayed on their way and did not reach their destination until March, 1836. They went into camp near the place now owned by Mr. Wash. Mott and began industriously to prepare for the family. Mr. Prince, ever ready to accommodate new comers, rented them some land for wheat, corn, potatoes and other vegetables. They endured many



11

hardships, at one time being reduced to a diet of bran bread, owing to the difficulty of getting grain ground. But "Stick to it" was their motto and finally logs were ready for building, rails for fencing, the vegetables were growing nicely, and Mr. Blanchard with the boys turned his face Southward to fetch Polly and the babies. As rapidly as possible he closed up his business at home, took leave of old friends of long and pleasant associations, who were assembled to see them off, and again turned to the North, The sight of this caravan of pilgrims bound for a new country would be an interesting one today. The train was lead by a huge Virginia schooner drawn by five yoke of oxen, John driving. If that old Virginia wagon were here to-day it would be a curiosity equal to the log cabin, It was made of strong, heavy timber, so braced and fastened together that it could scarce break if rolled down a mountain side. The end gates were high, with sides sloping toward the center; on each side of the bed was a box for tools or other articles that might be needed by the way; at the back was a large feed box. The wagon was painted blue and covered with 25 yards of linen spun and woven by Mrs. Blanchard and her daughters. In this wagon was stored food to supply the family for several months, two spinning wheels, a large quantity of wool for carding, household goods of various sorts, and Mrs. Blanchard and the small children. Next came Mr. Blanchard driving the hogs and sheep, assisted by three of the boys; and in the rear came the young ladies of the family mounted on horses, driving the cattle and loose horses. If this caravan should pass through the streets of our village to-day, it would create more excitement than a procession of automobiles.
In this order they slowly advanced until on June 16, 1836, they arrived at the camping ground. The first work after arriving was to unload the Virginia schooner, set it on blocks and convert it into a sleeping room for six of the boys. It took the whole family to lift it off the running gear. An old settler told me the


12

other day that same old Virginia schooner was the one which took Daniel Prince and his family to Missouri.
The work of making the new home was vigorously pushed by the father and boys, and soon music different from that of the birds in the tree-tops was heard in the camp,—that of the busy spinning wheels,—for cloth must be made for clothing for the entire family. And if the young ladies wanted silk or fine Jackonette, or any other finery for dresses, they must first make home made cloth to exchange for the other. We must not get an idea that our early pioneer girls had no love of finery or the privilege of dressing nicely if they wished. Almost every family gave their girls the privilege, after the household had been supplied, of making cloth to exchange for store goods, an opportunity which most of them quickly improved.
Mr, and Mrs. Blanchard 's family were happy because they were busy. For four months they remained in camp in White Oak, By that time a cabin of hewed logs 16 x 16 feet had been built on the prairie land. In October they struck camp and moved into the log cabin. How this family of father, mother and eleven children, four of them grown, managed to live in this little cabin is hard to tell. But you may be sure the family were all safely housed at night with the latch string always out for any belated traveler, and there were many such who were fearfully afraid of the wolves, especially the Eastern people, unused to these howling creatures. None were ever turned away, but every one was made welcome to a good comforter and a bed by the great log fire place, an invitation gladly accepted by many a weary traveler.
In this little log cabin a little girl was born May 24, 1837, less than a year after Mr, and Mrs. Blanchard had settled in Peoria County. Two other children were born later, making fourteen in all. There are four of these children still living, Of the descendants of Mr. and Mrs. Blanchard there are living to-day, four children, thirty-four grand-children, one hundred twenty-seven great-grandchildren and thirty-one great great-


13

grandchildren, two hundred in all, scattered all over the United States, and some even as far away as India.
Mr. Blanchard was one of the first men elected to the office of magistrate in this township. Although coming from a slave state and a slave owner's family, he was an old line Whig, and a staunch abolitionist, taking his stand with the Republican party when that party was organized. He and his wife were active Christians and as soon as they were able to do so, opened their doors for religious services, large congregations from far and near often assembling in their home to hear the gospel preached. All who wished to remain for afternoon services were invited to do so and were freely fed and made as comfortable as possible. In the early fifties a family reunion was held on the home farm, The fourteen children were all present, the youngest being about four years old, Not once had death entered their circle, In all there were about fifty present. It was a day of gladness and feasting. Soon after one of the boys went West in search of gold, followed a year later by a younger brother. They never returned, One found a grave at Olympia, Washington, the other at Astoria, Oregon.
In the fall of 1855 Mr. Blanchard bought a home in the Village of Princeville and moved his family there. Here he and his wife lived until they exceeded their golden wedding anniversary by three years. In 1868 Mrs. Blanchard died suddenly, followed a year later by her husband who died after a protracted illness,—and two more of Princeville's pioneer settlers had gone to their long rest.
All honor to the brave and noble men and women who were not afraid to brave the dangers, endure the hardships, deny themselves the comforts and associations of their early homes, that we, their descendants, might have a broader scope, greater opportunities and more freedom in a better country.


14

THE SLOAN FAMILY.

By S. S. Slane, 1906.

Jerome Sloan, son of John R. and Maria Sloan, was born in Sloansville, New York, January 15, 1813. Mr. Sloan's parents with their entire family left New York for Peoria County in the fall of 1837, arriving at Peoria in December of that year, having come by teams all of the way. They stopped near Farmington until the spring of 1839, when they moved to Princeville. They occupied a cabin North of the Village on land owned by a Mr. Riggs, until the spring of 1840, when they removed to the farm now occupied by Mr. Sloan. Soon after the father died, The family at that time consisted of the mother, five sons and one daughter. The eldest son, Ralph, was a noted artist of his time, being a painter of portraits and landscapes. He died many years since, Joseph lost his life through an accident while yet a young man, Henry dying more recently. Augustus D. went over-land to California at an early date, dying a few years since in the village here. Emily, the only daughter, married Nelson Burnham, of Farmington, Fulton County, Illinois, who died last winter in the city of Peoria.
Mr. Jerome Sloan married Miss Charlotte Barnes in 1860. To them were born eleven children, nine sons and two daughters. He has passed through the hardships and privations of pioneer life, and has by industry and economy accumulated sufficient of this world's goods to enable him to pass the remainder of his days in comfort and ease. While he has never been connected with any of the religious associations of this community, he has very decided views of his own on these matters. Mr. Sloan at this time is in the enjoyment of most excellent health, being able to walk to and from the village from his home without any assistance, which at his age of ninety-three years is quite remarkable.


15

THE MORROW FAMILY.

By S. S. Slane, 1906.

Hugh Morrow was born on Section 7 in Akron Township, on April 14, 1832. In the year 1838 his parents removed to Section 20 of Akron Township, where he has lived ever since, a period of 68 years. Mr. Morrow's parents, Thomas Morrow and Eleanor Morrow, came from Park County, Indiana, to Peoria County, Illinois, in the early part of the year 1832 and settled on Section 7, Akron Township. With Mr. Thomas Morrow came his parents, John Morrow, Sr., and Jane Morrow; also four brothers and two sisters, James, John Jr., William, Josiah, Elizabeth, who became the wife of Daniel Prince, the pioneer settler of this place, for whom the Township, the Village and the Grove were named, and Jane, the wife of Samuel R. White, an early settler of Princeville Township. John Morrow, Sr., owned and improved a part of the farm recently sold by Mr. Charles Taylor, South of the Village. He died soon after and was buried in the old Cemetery South of the Village of Princeville, long since abandoned. Mrs. Jane Morrow and son John in company with Mr. Prince and family, moved from this vicinity to the State of Missouri in the fall of 1839, where they have long since been numbered with the dead. Mr. Josiah Morrow moved to Iowa in 1840, having improved a part of the estate owned at this time by the heirs of the late Austin Bouton. Mr. Morrow died January 5, 1899, at the age of eighty. Mr. James Morrow improved the farm now owned by Mr. Elijah Tracy and others, a part being included in the village corporation. lie sold out and moved to Washington County, Iowa, in the year 1854, where he died well advanced in age, and respected by all who knew him. Mr. William Morrow improved the farm now owned by Frank Debord, which he sold in 1872, moving to Andrew County, Missouri, where he died. Mr. Thomas Morrow, father of Hugh


16

Morrow, died in 1848, leaving his wife and a family of ten children, eight sons and two daughters.
Mr. Hugh Morrow has the distinction of being the first white child' born in Akron Township, also of having lived a greater number of years on the same section than any other resident of the Township. Hugh Morrow (son of Thomas Morrow), Samuel Morrow (son of William Morrow) and William and Mary Ann White (son and daughter of Mrs. Jane Morrow White), are the only representatives of this large family now living in this vicinity.



THE JOHN SMITH FAMILY OF NORTHWEST
PRINCEVILLE.

By Miss Mary J. Smith, 1906.

Miss Jane Payne was born August 16, 1825, near Hillsville, Carroll county, Virginia, When about sixteen years of age she came West to Illinois and settled on Section 7 in Princeville Township, where she resided until the fall of 1890, then becoming a resident of the Village of Princeville.
Her parents, Walter and Rachel Payne, had come up from North Carolina and settled in that part of Virginia when it was a new country, and wild turkey, deer and black bear inhabited the Blue Ridge Mountains, near which they lived, Grand father Payne was a gun-smith by trade; he also did blacksmith work, both of which trades were very useful to the community in those days when almost everything in those lines was wrought out by hand. He was also a great hunter and loved to tell of his hunting adventures, how straight he could shoot, and of how much game he killed with the first pound of powder he ever had bought for him:
sixty wild turkeys, two deer and one bear. Grandmother Payne also could handle a gun. One day a large blue winged hawk was after her chickens and she


17

took down grandfather's gun and went after the hawk and shot it.
In those days the pioneer women were not nervous, they were equal to any emergency. They could kill a snake, shoot a hawk or kill a bear, like Betsey Bobbitt did. Her brother, Uncle Abram Cooley, had come West to Illinois, and had gone back to Virginia to settle up an estate, and told what a fine country this was, and gave such a glowing account of this rich black prairie soil, that Uncle Ben Cooley said that he didn't believe the Almighty ever made such a difference in countries as he described.
Anyway Grandfather and Grandmother decided to become pioneers once more, and cast their lot in the Sucker State this time, and in September, 1842, in company with other friends and relatives to the number of twenty-seven, they started ''West" in prairie schooners. Of that goodly number they have "gathered homeward one by one," until Mrs, Smith now is the only one left to ford the River.
They were six weeks on the road, traveling by day and camping out nights, sleeping in the wagons or under a tent cloth. Sometimes if it rained the women and children were sheltered in the homes, which in those days were very hospitably inclined.
In those days the opportunities for receiving an education were very different from now, Miss Jane had an opportunity to go to Rochester and live with a kind lady and go to school, but fidelity to her mother who was in feeble health, caused her to decide otherwise and miss the opportunity. Surely the promise has been verified in her case, for the Lord hath said, "Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."
Her husband, John Smith, was born in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire, Scotland, December 14, 1822. He removed with his parents to Glasgow when between three and four years of age, and was educated at Mr. McEwen's school in the Barony parish, receiving many


18

prizes from the principal, the Rev. McFarland, minister in the High Church of Glasgow.
After leaving school he spent a few years as clerk in a book store, where he acquired a taste for reading which lasted through life, He also worked for a short time in a factory as dresser, He came to America in 1841, and settled in Princeville Township in 1844 as a farmer, where he resided until his death, the 27th of May, 1890.
It was here he met his "Bonnie Jean" of whom he sung in the Scottish melody so quaintly sweet. In the flowery month of May he was married to Miss Jane Payne by the side of the log cabin home, under two great spreading oak trees, May 18, 1848. Rev. Robt. Breese, whose narrow home is now in the Princeville cemetery where the weeping willow waves, spoke the mystic words that united their lives until death did them part. To them were born eight children: Isabella, Rachel, John, Walter, Mary J., Margaret A., William W., and Lizzie S.

For more than sixteen ears, his children and grandchildren have missed his fatherly counsel, but the companion who journeyed by his side for forty-two years, has missed him most, And as the boatman, with his noiseless oars, comes to row us one by one over the resistless tide, we trust that only the ripples may come and go, as she crosses the bar that separates her from that great company of loved ones who have already crossed the tide, and hear the Welcome Home.*
Grandfather Smith was born at Rutherglen, near Glasgow, Scotland, about the year 1789, and died at his home near Princeville, ill., March 27, 1852, aged 63 years. His name was John, that being the name of the oldest son in each family for more than two hundred years previously. Grandmother Smith, whose maiden name was Margaret White, died in Scotland leaving four small children. Afterward he married Bethia


19

Eura, who was born at Rutherglen also, in 1798, and died at her home near Princeville, October 24, 1876, aged 78 years.
They emigrated to America in the fall of 1842, and landed at New Orleans after being nine weeks on the ocean voyage. A fearful hurricane off the Gulf of Mexico drove the vessel back 300 miles and prolonged the voyage. They thought, for a time, the vessel with all on board would find a watery grave, but a kind Providence spared their lives and they reached their destination, America, They stayed in New Orleans a short time and then came to St. Louis, Mo., with their family consisting of the following children: Margaret, Isabella, Robert, Jannet, Archibald and David. After remaining in St. Louis about two years, they came to Princeville Township in the spring of 1844. The oldest son, John, who had come to America about a year previously, came from Canada to visit them soon after their arrival, It was to be with him as well as to better their condition that the family had come to America.
Grandfather Smith enlisted in the Peninsular war when quite a young man (war between England and France and their allied powers, the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon Bonaparte commanding the respective sides). He was in the army about nine years, and his time expired about three weeks before the battle of Waterloo, He was wounded in battle, once lying on the battle-field three or four days before he could get away, and saw the hardships of army life. At times they were so reduced in rations as to be glad to get the corn that was fed to the horses.
Grandfather was a man of deeply pious and religious temperament, and administered to the spiritual needs of many of the early settlers far and near. He was in the habit of gathering his family around him night and morning for family worship, and died, as he had lived, trusting in the living God.
Grandmother Smith was a strong woman physically. She washed in the early days to help along, and walked and carried one of her grandchildren from Peoria to


20

their home in Princeville Township, a distance of 27 miles. She was the mother of eight children, five of whom died in Scotland, She also was a woman with strong convictions of right, and the writer's earliest recollection of her was of seeing her seated at a table near a window, knitting, with her open Bible before her, sometimes reading aloud from the word of God. Coming here as they did in the early days, they knew the hardships and privations of pioneer life, but by persevering industry accumulated a comfortable amount of this world's goods and blazed the way for their posterity. They are entitled to our reverence and sincerest gratitude and respect.


THE SLANE FAMILY.
By Edward Auten, 1906.

Benjamin Slane was born in Chester, Frederic County, Virginia, in 1798. He married Delilah Cheshire, of Hampshire County, in 1824. She was an excellent woman, and the mother of six children, viz.: Benjamin F. (commonly called Frank), John Z., Elizabeth A., Delilah J., Samuel S. and James T. Slane.
In that same Virginia community were two other families, those of Jonathan Nixon and William Nixon, forming with Mr. Slane 's family a little group bound together by ties of relationship (even though Jonathan and William Nixon were not related) and common good will and interests.
In 1830 Mr. Slane moved his family, then consisting of three children, John, Frank and Elizabeth, to Ohio, where the Nixons had already preceded him, But before leaving Virginia he had decided to come eventually to Fort Clark, now Peoria, and in 1831 he, together with the Nixons, made their way to the Ohio River at Marietta, where they procured a "keel" boat, flat and square, and shaped like a box car, and floated on it to Cincinnati, Here they abandoned the keel boat


21

and changed to the steamboat "Don Juan," a tub of a boat with a big name, The children and women were much awed by the noise and racket, the excitement of changing at night, the profanity of the boat's crew, the first they had heard, and the haste to be off to the next stop, Louisville. Changing boats again here, they reached St. Louis in good time. From St, Louis to Fort Clark they had as traveling companions eighteen big burley Indians, wearing blankets and provided with big iron kettles. These were the first Indians any of the party had ever seen, and of them the women and children were very much afraid.

There were no stoves in those days, and so on the deck of the boat a place was provided to build a fire and cook the meals. The Indians were always the first to cook breakfast which consisted of a big kettle of corn meal into which they threw chunks of meat, the whole giving off an odor anything but savory to a white man.
The steamer proceeded slowly up the Illinois River, stopping now and then at "woodyards" along the banks to lay in a supply of wood—the only fuel known at that time.

On November 4th, 1831, a beautiful autumn day, they landed at Fort Clark, and as they clambered up the bank "there probably was never a more homesick band of women and children than this one," and probably a few of the men were at least slightly affected. Quarters were procured in a double log cabin and all went there. William Nixon got a separate cabin soon, but Jonathan and Mr. Slane lived there with their families until the next summer, and a "cold, dirty, thankless cabin it was, but as good as the average." It was situated on the river side of Water street and not more than a stone's throw from the present City Depot, and diagonally opposite the Indian headquarters. They lived in Peoria for two years; Mr. Slane and a Mr. Craig cut and salted hogs for one Martin in the winter of 1832-33.


22

Mr. Slane moved in March, 1833, to Section 27 in Richwoods Township, where he had built a cabin the winter before. Two years later he sold his claim to Smith Frye for $200.00, moving in April of 1835 to Rosefleld to a new claim on the Knoxville road, then barely passable.
Big Hollow was so steep they locked the wheels together, and all got out and walked, Mrs. Slane carrying the present President of our Old Settlers' Union in her arms, he being then a babe of less than a year old. They passed through the Village of Kickapoo, comprising one house and one log stable, of which John Coyle, a brother of Mrs. Asa Beall, was sole proprietor.
Mrs. Slane, in the prime of life, when most needed by her children, died at the age of 39 in 1839, and her death was a great affliction to Mr. Slane, He never married again, but with a sad heart and a resolute will entered upon the difficult duties of raising and educating in these pioneer tunes his children, a task most men would have shrunk from. but he did not. Elizabeth Nixon, wife of Jonathan, neighbor to Mr. Slane at this time and afterwards when they moved to Princeville, became almost a second mother to his children, who even now bear in grateful memory her care of them at that time.
William Nixon, who had moved to Tazewell from Peoria, crossed the river once more and lived in Rose-field several years, then went back to Tazewell again, and still later settled down at Elmwood where he ran the first hotel. He died there in 1858.
In 1840 Mr. Slane and Jonathan Nixon moved to Princeville. Mr. Slane purchased Block 20 of Mr. Stevens and moved into a log cabin standing in the center of it. The first year in Princeville was very hard— "So hard I often think it would do the young people of the present generation good to live as we did for just one month."
In 1845, brothers Frank and John started a lime kiln in the southeast corner of Section 24, Princeville Township, about sixty rods west of the east section

Home | Books | Next Page