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Jersey County Page     Early Settlers

Old Settler Society 1877

From the Jersey County Democrat, August 30, 1877.

The meeting of the old settlers held at the fair grounds last Saturday was by far the largest meeting of this band of veterans ever held in Jersey county. From year to year have these meetings been gaining in popularity and the number in attendance increasing, until it has now become to be regarded as a general holiday, looked forward to with anxiety by both old and young. The old meet together and talk over the olden times in a sort of a general love feast, and the younger ones seem to appreciate their enjoyment as fully as the fathers.

The meeting was called to order by the president, J. E. COOPER, when the regular order of business was gone through with. The following is a list of the officers elected to serve during the ensuing year: President, J. E. COOPER; Vice-presidents, Wm CHAPPLE, Jeremiah BELL, D. P. PRITCHETT, B. F. SISTEN, Moses COCKRELL, J. N. ENGLISH, Wm. KELLER, Brook STAFFORD, Wm. McDOW, Samuel ERWIN, Geo. STAFORD, Thos. WEDDING and Z. M. REDDISH. Geo. H. JACKSON was re-elected Secretary. The following persons were then elected as the executive committee to serve during the ensuing year: J. E. Cooper, John M. SMITH, John P. STOUT, J. N. English, Geo. E. WARREN, Harly E. HAYES, Hugh N. CROSS and Geo. H. Jackson.

Among the older members present were:

    Mrs. Martha COWEN, who was present at the Wood River massacre that occured in 1814, she now being nearly 80 years of age.
    Mrs. PREWIT, 78.
    Robt. LATHAM, 84.
    Col. John BLACK, 80.
    Glover SHORT, 77.
    Nathaniel MINER, 76.
    Wm. KELLAR, 76.
    John L. TERRILL, 77.
    Erwim LITTLE, 74.
    Mrs. SINCLAIR, who is over 70.

These are among the oldest, although there were a number present who were older settlers in this county than the ones mentioned, and have now reached a good old age.

Everything connected with the meeting passed off harmoniously and to the satisfaction of all. The Jerseyville Orchestra, under the leadership of Mr. Chas. BLISH, furnished music for the occasion, which was received with marked attention by all. The glee club sang during the day many beautiful and appropriate songs, mostly old ones suitable to the occasion. The old people had not lost their love for these old pieces, or for lively tunes, for their feet kept a constant shuffling to the time. It carried them back to their younger days when age had not stiffened their joints or hard toil broken them down. The song sung by Mrs. Callender, “John Anderson, My Joe John,” went straight to their hearts and touched the tender chord, for they sang the same song, when they were boys and girls, as gleefully as any who were there on that day.

T. J. SELBY and Hon. A. G. BURR were the orators of the day. Mr. Selby addressed the meeting inthe morning, while Mr. Burr entertained them with an eloquent address in the afternoon. Mrs. Prewit and Mrs. Sinclair occupied seats on the stand with the speakers, and when allusion was made to incidents that occurred within their recollection they readily assented by nodding their heads. Especially was this the case with Mrs. Prewit as Mr. Selby related the horrors of the bloody massacre which occurred on Wood River. This horrible picture is still fresh in the mind of Mrs. Prewit, who, though young at the time, can well recollect it. The groans of the dying and the agonized pleadings of the helpless still ring in her ears; the bloody tomahawk and knife are things that are still fresh in her memory, together with the pursuit and capture of the murderers. It was both a pleasant and a sad sight to watch the countenances of the old people while the speakers were addressing them. Now for a moment their wrinkled and weather-beaten countenances would be o’erspread with smiles of gladness, as they hear some pleasing incident recited in which they were concerned; then again would the veil shift and cast a pall of darkness, gloom and sorrow over them,when the hardships through which they had passed and the privations they had endured were brought before them. They could look backupon all these scenes and could not but help feel sorrowful.

At the present time they saw naught but the hand of industry around them. The prairies that were once fragrant with the bloom of many flowers now yielded to ghe granary; the woods where roamed the deer, the wolf and other wild animals, were fast disappearing from their sight. There are farms, towns and villages taking the place of these wild scenes, and soon there will be naught but the pictures which are cherished in their memories to remind them of early times. It will be only a few years more before even the “Old Settlers” themselves will be numbered among things that have passed. Already the scythe of time is making sad havoc in their ranks. Thirteen of their number have gone to their long homes since their last annual meeting one year ago, namely:

    John F. SMITH
    John UTT
    J. M. TERRY
    W. P. JARBOE
    T. F. BROCK
    P. C. WALKER
    O. H. KNAPP
    Mrs. Samuel HENSON
    Mrs. Joel HENSON
    J. W. LOFTON
    Solomon RICE
    Sebastian WATSON
    Geo. HOFFMAN

Thirty have died since the organization of the society in 1872. There are but few left, and these few are fast dwindling away, and by the time the next annual reunion rolls around there will be many absent ones at the roll call.

Jersey County Page     Early Settlers