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Mt. Pulaski , Illinois
July 13, 1961     Times
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July 13, 1961

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(73mI.Newu, Mt. lPudmkL IlL) "rHURSDAy, JULY IS. 1061 100 years of mount Pulaski 1830 ,y 1936 The hll upon which Mount Pulaski is situated was the product of the glacial age. Eons ago, when crystalline fleets from the arctic were carrying rich cargoes of soil to what is now central Illinois, ice-formed crafts deposited their loads of silt in isolated places. One of these places, being on the fortieth degree of latitude, north, and near the nlntleth degree of longitude, west, was the "mount" of Mount Pulaski. LOCATION The surface of the country around and about Mount Pulaski is an undulating prairie. To the north, about two miles, it s the main channel of Salt creek, a tributary of the Sengamon river. About seven miles to the south is the Lake fork of Salt Creek. In prehistoric days, Salt creek was a considerable stream. Ferdinand Ernst, Hanoverian traveler, who saw it in 1819 and wrote about it, called it a "navlgeble stream." The Kickapoo nd - ans called it the "Onequlslsippi" or "the river of the shell-bark hickories." In the same days, the Lake fork of Salt creek was a veritable lake, covering thousands of acres at high water. At low tide, its bordering lands were marshy moors, where dee and wild fowl held high carnival. The earliest saHlers were wont to hug to the timbered banks of streams, where water and wood were handily accessible. They considered the prairies, by reason of wild-grass and wind-swept fires, together with lack of shade and shelter, as negligibly habit- able. . THE ABORIGINES When Illinols was edmiffed into the Union as a sovereign state in 1818, there were no white settlements in whet is now Logan county. The lands in the Salt creek valley were. and for more than a century had been, inhabited by roving bends of the Kickapoo tribe, in whom possessory title was vested. Civilization came into the Sengamon and Serf creek valley by way of an old India trail which left the Mississippi near the present site of Alton and wound out end into the heart of what is now Illi- nols, past the present sites of Edwardsville, Crlinville, Springfield and Lincoln and on to Lake Peoria. During the war of 1812, Gay. Edwards, of the then territory of Illlnois. led a band of mounted rangers along this ancient traiL, from the Mississippi to the Illinois river, past Elkhart hill and across Salt creek in what is now Logan county and the trail thereafter" be- came known as "the Edwards" trace." On July 30, 1819, the Kickapoo chieftains, more or less under duress, relinquished all their right and title to the lands in the Sangamon and Salt creek valleys to the United States for a trifling consideration which was never met in whole. fiRST COUNTY SETTLEMENTS Anticipating the Kickapoo treaty and the opening to settlers of the Kickapoo land, James Lathem and family, coming from Ken- tucky in pert'by way of the Edwards' trace, located at Elkhart hill in the spring of 1819. In the fall of the same year, Robert Muslck and family located on Sugar creek, northwest of the present side of Lincoln. The la- them and Muslck settlements were the first white sefflements in what is now Logan county. Events followed. Official proclamation of the Kickapoo treaty was made in 1821. In the same year, Sengamon county was created, including therein all of what is now Logan county. The then new settlement of Springfield became the county seat. The government land office was opened for formal entries of lend in a double log cabin in Springfield, November third, 1823. First entry of present Logan county Lands was made by James la- them, November nineteenth, ;824. Robert Muslck entered the next day. Nine days later, James Turkey entered. Official dates of entries in land office records, however, are only approximately indicative of dates of actual settlement. Formal entries required cash n hand. Settlers did not always have it. First locating, they then held by occupation until able to meet re- quirements. Possessory claims were often sold but never "jumped." .,LY UULS An early pioneer trail left the old Edwards' trace at Sprlng- field in a northeasterly direction. It entered present Logan county near present Cornlend thence to the hill where Mount Pulaski now stands, thence to Salt Creek following that stream to the present logan-Dewitt county line. Another trail also left the trace at Springfield, ran near present I#liopolis and wandered across the Lake fork proper, meeting the former trail at the hill of present Mount Pulaski. later, both trails became established roads. Erly settlers, following these trails, established two general groups of settlements in the vicinity of present Mount Pulaski, one to the north, known as the "Salt creek country", the other on lands adjacent to the lake fork, known as the "Lake fork country." later, they became pol;tlcal precincts. THE LAKE FORK COUNTRY The first settlements in the vicinity of present Mount Pulaski were in the Lake fork country. To this locality, soon after the Le- thal settlement at Elkhart hill, came three adventurous spirits, Jeremiah Birks, Robert Buckles and James Turkey, and their respec- tive families. The B;rks and Buckles came together, Mary, the daughter of Jeremiah Birks, being the wife of Robert Buckles. With Robert Buckles. came his three sons, Jeremiah, William R., and John. Later his parents, John and Anna Buckles, joined the settlement. .With Jeremiah Birks and wife, Elizabeth, came elghf children. In all, he was the father of fourteen children, five of whom, Roland, Rial, Isom, David and Richard. later entered lands for themselves The Steenbergen cemetery, in which Jeremiah Birks is buried, was leld out on his farm. James Turley and wife, Agnes, located near present Lake Fork station. He was the father of fourteen children, among them Char. los and George W., who, with their respective families, located near their father's loction. James Turkey was an arbitrator for the re- maining Indians. who called him "Big Chief." son of was one of the founders of Mount the at law suits which Abrehom out the on  Robert Buckles was an early commissioner of Logan county. He died in 1866. His wife, Mary, otherwise known as "Polly", at her death in 1888, was the ancestor of 287 descendants, mostly living. .... THE SALT CREEK COMPANY The first permanent seHlement in the Salt creek country, in the vicinity of present Mount Pulaski, was made by Robert Down- ing. With hlm, came his wife, Jane Morrow Downing, and hls'par- ents, John and Hannah Downing. Also about the same time, came his brother and wfe, James and Ruth Downing. Rebait Downing was the father of nine children, his sons being John, Lorenzo, Alexander, Henry and Robert. John Downing enter- ed land near his father's location. Robert Downing was a Hawk war veteran and member of the first board of commissioners of Logan county. He died in 1887, aged ninety-three years. Shortly following the Downing settlement, the Vandeventers, John, William, Abraham and James, among others, came to the Salt creek bottoms. John Vandeventer's mill was well known to the pioneers. Other early land entrants of this period were Charles Brady, Andrew Lee, Samuel Evans and Preston and Champion Pend- leton. Closely following the Vandeventer settlements and of an equal permanent character were those made by Eli Fletcher, Nicholas oore, the Shoups, John, Thomas, Jacob and James, the laugherys, Dvid and Nathan, James Morrow and Samuel Martin. Eli Fletcher and wife. Marion, were the parents of five children, Moses, Martin, Ann, Mary and Sarah. Zacharlah.Fletcher was also an early land entrant. The laugherys were a well known pioneer family. James Morrow end wife, Jane, were the parents of six child- ran, and Samuel Martin and wife. Nancy, were the parents f one son, John D. John Shoup, above named, vs an early captain at militia. was one of the first board of commissioners of the county and lat- er an assistant associate justice of the county court. The original organization meeting of Logan county was held at his house on the north side of Serf creek. THE FIRST DECADE Following the early settlements already noted, and within the period of the first decade of county history, 1820 to 1830, inclu- slve, permanent locations in the Lake fork country were made by John Turner, Abraham Lucas, Michael Mann, Thomas R. Skinner, George Girtmen, Carter Scroggln. William Everly, John and Wil- llam Cpalend, Anthony Ridgeway, John Voshall and James Wade. Other land entries, as shown by the government records, dur- ing the decade or fhere-abouts, included Lewis, Luclen and Char- los Barney, Lkin and John Johnson, Solomon and Barnabas Blue. Thomas Suddeth, landon Key, John M;:Gee, Robert Css, Cornelius Dunhem and Benjamin and Is-c Constant. During the decade, many of the old trails were re-marked as Sengamon county roads by the county commissioners. James Tur- lay was frequently appointed "road viewer" and road district superintendents included George W. Turkey, Oraneal Clark and John Lucas. A precinct election was held at the house of John Buckles in 1827. PIONEER FAMILIES Carter Scroggln came to the Lake fork country with his w to, Phoebe, and his sons, Leonard K., Thomas J. RusseJl and Humphrey. About the same time came John Scroggin, who was a Black Hawk war veteran Carter Scroggln was the father of ten children. He died in 1859 and his wife in 1876. Leonard K., son of Carter Scroggin, married lavlna Buckles and, after her death, Rhode, daughter of George Girtmen. He was the parent of thirteen children. He was close y identified with the com- munity llfe of Mount Pulaski, buiff substantial brick structures in the town and, at his death, was one of the most extensive landowners in the state. rThorns J., a!so son of Carter Scroggin, entered land in pre- sent xnart township, near the Mount Pulaski township llne, in which according to the government report, a postoffice was established at an early date, named "Scroggin", with Thomas J. as postmaster. Abraham Luces came to the Lake fork country in the later twenties, with his wife, Marcy, and several children. Among his children ware John, Joseph Thomas, Jesse K. James and Jabez. Several of these entered lands for themselves in the lake fork sec- tion. John Lutes, son of Abrehom, was one of the most prominent men in public service. Elected Justice of the Peace when just of age, he was later chosen Sheriff of the county and, still later, a member of the State Legislature. Joseph Lucas assisted in the building of the first state house in Springfield, now the county court house. A further Lke fork seHtement was made by George B. Lucas, who was the first Coroner of Logen county. Michael Mann, a Baptist minister, ao the first Probate Justice of Logan county, came to the Lake fork in 1828, with his wife, Eliza- beth, his sons, Abraham. John I_, Jacob, Henry and Philip and sev. en daughters. He founded at Big Grove, near present Atlanta, one of the first churches in the county. The Copaland family, represented by John D. William, Isaac and Abraham, made settlement in the southernmost portion of pm sent Mount Pulaski township, south of Lake fork, in the section now marked by the church and school which bears the family name. Thomas R. Skinner, named above, was the first Surveyor of Lo- gan county end surveyed Mount Pulaski. He was elected County Judge in 1849, when that office was first created, and continued as such until his death in 18S7. He was the son of Washington Skinner. THE DEEP SNOW Se One of the most outstanding events in the early history of the ngemon and Serf creek valleys occurred in the winter of 1830-31- It was known as "the deep snow." So pronounced was the event that occurrences were afterwards dated as being either before or after the deep snow. Snow began to fll in the latter part of November and contin- ued, with brief intervals, until it reached a level of four feet by Feb- ruary following. Winds formed mountain drifts, obliterating trails and covering cabins. Occasional rains made a crust of ice over the snow. Corn, ungethered, was inaccessible. Wood supplies were bur- ied. Stock froze or starved. Settlers, penned in their rude cabins, had short rations: in instances, none. Mills could not operate. Suf- ferlng from cold and hunger was prevalent. Prior to the "deep snow", cotton had been a staple crop. Them were numerous cotton mills along the Sengemon. The "deep snow" changed the climate and thereafter cotton raising was abandoned. Ir all the years following the "deep snow", the pioneers, who had survived the same were know as 'snow birds" and were given posts of honor at all pioneer getherlngs and reunions. THE SUDDEN FREEZE Another remarkable climatic event, known as the "sudden freeze", foflowed the snow six years later. Like the "deep it has not beea since. It December 1836. A warm min had been when suddenl, mometer marking is said to have dropped seconds and continued to drop until it low zero. Cattle, hogs and chickens froze in their tracks. Stock F Men on horseback on the prairies barely escaped A local illustration was the case of James Harvey Serf creek country. Hildreth and a companion were on their the change came. They saved their lives I disembowelling it and then crawling of the animal. Even then, H;ldreth's toes and fingers were so frozen necessitate amputation of all, and, still later, his left tinued a cripple to his death, which occurred in Mount 1858. At the time of the "deep snow" and for many the only habitations of the pioneers were log cabins. others double. The latter were marks of distinction. were of "shakes," often held down by weighted poles. The es between the logs were cley-mortared. Cabin floors, when not of split logs, called of bare earth. Single split-stick chimneys were held mud. Doors were clapboards, secured to wooden hinges bY  pins. Wooden latches were operated by strips of buckskin- First cabins knew neither nails nor glass. tures cut in the logs and covered with oil ;shed light at night. Cooking was done ;n open meal, dried pumpkins and "hog-meat" constituted the Furniture was home-made and crude. Bedsteads were in corners with single posts and side poles therefrom tween the outside logs- Ropes, woven beck and forth. mattresses of straw or corn-husks. Tables and chairs were! slabs. Clothing was homespun and woven. Spindle and the factories- Wool was carded by hand. Jeans and from flax, were colored by the walnut bark. Going varied in winter by the use of buckskin moccasins. Quiltlngs, husking "bees" and bern dances ciallties- Wells. where dug, were operated by es were refrigerators. Fire came from steel and charred corn and sugar came from maple sop or wild PIONEER Pioneer agriculture was necessarily crude. Plows were rendered soil-panetrabte to a short depth by aHached. They were more beck-breaking than ing was done by wooden paddles. Seed was cut by sickle and cradle and threshed by alternate flails. Corn ws shelled by hand. Wagons were home wheels being sliced from the ends of rounding logs. rotations emitted squeaks that could be heard Tops of trees were used for harrows. The first pioneers made corn-meal by grating the perforated graters. Gra;n was also cracked and wooden pestles and mortars. Handmills, with two discs pinged upon each other, came a Uttle leter- Gr;sts or bend mills were an improvement. teched to crude grinders, operated by horses or oxen treads or walking around in a circle. Water mills at finally took their places and farmers with grain waited for grinding, often for days at a time, camping out IN The incident of the "deep snow" rather retarded for about a year, but settlement and entries of land in 1833. Many entries were made by lend speculators points with a view to future profits. Among those who made permanent locations in section, following the "deep snow" and prior to the Mount Pulaski were: Baldwin and Smuel Harper, David Sims. John Huston, Drury Martin, Squire Foster, Hugh Collins. John England, James Powers, Stephen Lloyd, Beniam;n and Thomas rdner, Ninian Coss, Samuel Fleming. John C. Laughlin, Elishe Parks, Joshua Day, Riley ander Rigdon. Surnames of other Lake fork entrants during elude Hedrick. Myers, Starr, Price. Brown, Lynn, Trent, Mitchell, White, Steele, Armstrong. G;llis, Reynolds. Adams, Gateway and others. Among those making settlements in the Salt creek the above mentioned period were: Alfred, John and Sampson Sams, W;lllam Brooks and Willoughby Randolph, Henry Dement. William Mason, David Witter, Aso French, Johr Washington and Granville Patterson, James and ilam Frakes and Theodore and John Lawrence. In "1835, the Lake Fork and Salt creek sections election precincts of Sengamon county. The first in Lake fork precinct was held at the house of with Jeremiah Birks, William Copelend and Robert tion judges- In the some year, George Girtmen, John Scroggln were appointed rood viewers end John qranted a license to erect a mill dam on Salt creek in ter township. The year 1836 was noted in early central Illinois year of the "townsite craze." The rapid rise of surfing profits in town lots precipitated the "craze. were laid out in all directions, most of which were than paper towns- Among these embryo towns which did not celled "Madison." laid out in April of 1836 by panter in present Chester township, near school. Thomas Neele was the surveyor AJexander Morrow and William Vandeventer. James Randolph later lald or the unsurv;vi in present Aetna township, along Serf creek- The westward on Serf creek, was also lald out in same year, came into existence the town of The story of the founding of Mount Pulaski eady history of Jabez Cpps. who came to in 1817 and threeyeers later locehl in CoJhoun, men county town w;nlch began end became I rt o He first followed the profession first school in Sengamon county on the L-for school Still he one of the first field in which housed the field. He a branch store at