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Fair Mound

Jerseyville Examiner, August 21, 1878

Fair Mound – A Reminiscence

This mound (now called Beaty’s Mound) about 3 miles southwest of this city, is an historic spot. The mound was originally covered with hazel brush and quite a good many trees. It was first occupied by Samuel L. McGill and Thomas L. McGill, both single. Samuel L. McGill built a dwelling on the mound and used one room of it for a store. This was in 1834. Thomas L. McGill lived with his brother about that time on the mound. Hugh McGill, another brother, clerked in the store. They did a pretty good business with the farmers from the west woods and round about. In the same year Samuel L. McGill built a store room now to be seen just east of the residence of David E. Beaty, Esq., down in the field about 100 yards distant.

At this time there were only a few houses in Jerseyville, the house where Mr. Cheney lives being the principal one, kept as a hotel. There were no houses, but one or two, between that house and Mr. Thomas Cunnings’ about 5 miles south. Mr. Reuben Page, the former husband of Mrs. Thomas L. McGill, of this city, lived about one0quarter of a mile from the mound. Mr. Lumsden and Mr. Jacob Utt, George H. Jackson, Arad Brown, Samuel Day and Mrs. Caleb Stone, were near neighbors, living about the same distance off. After the store room was built, Mr. Samuel McGill moved the store into it, and continued to sell goods in it for awhile, assisted by Hugh McGill. Mr. James W. Calhoun, of this city, used to trade there. It was about the only store for miles around. There were not stores in Jerseyville then. Mr. Thomas McGill farmed the ground.

Religioius services were held in the dwelling on the mound by the First Presbyterian Church of this city. The first elders of that church—Mr. Boserel, Arad Brown and Mr. Lumsden—were ordained in the old dwelling by either Rev. Mr. Jenny or Rev. Mr. Lippincott. Neighborhood meetings were held in the dwelling on the mound as well as in the neighborhood, conversions being frequent. Gideon Blackburn, founder of the Blackburn Theological University, preached one time in the dwelling on the mount.

Samuel McGill and Thomas McGill lived with their sister, Matilda McGill who kep house for the, Hugh mcGill having died. Mrs. Thomas L. McGill then married to Reuben Page, lost her husband and went to live with Miss Matilda McGill to keep house for the McGills. Miss Matilda McGill married Alfred Shull and moved to Newburg, Green County, and left Mrs. Page and their hired servants to keep house. Mr. Samuel McGill next married Miss Mary Silence, now of Paola, Kan., and they moved soon after to Jerseyville to live, and moved his store also to this city into a building which then stood upon the ground now occupied by Mr. Frederick Bertman of this city. Mr. Henry Hart, now of Alton, moved into the south end of the old dwelling on the mound, and Mrs. Page and Mrs. Turner occupied the north end. Mrs. Mariam Turner and Mrs. Page on the 19th day of May, 1836, were both married in the old dwelling by Rev. Amos P. Brown—Mrs. Turner marrying Captain Jonathan E. Cooper of this county, and Mrs. Page marrying Thomas L. McGill.

Mr. Henry Hart moved to Alton in 1836 and left the entire house and farm in the possession of Thos. L. McGill and wife, and Mrs. Turner went to live with her husband, Capt. Cooper, where he now lives. Mr. and Mrs. Thos. L. McGill lived there about two or three years, during which time Mrs. Mary Coddington, wife of David Coddington, Esq., of this city and Esther M. Terry, wife of Wm. P. Terry, of Shipman, Ill. Were both born there. Mrs. Shull’s husband died, leaving Mrs. Col. M.S. Littlefield, of Jacksonville, Fla., as his only child, and Mrs. Shull and her child came back to the mound to live with Mr. Thos. L. McGill for awhile. About 1839 Mr. and Mrs. T. McGill moved from the mound to a farm now occupied by Mrs. Geo. Kirby, and Samuel McGill again moved into the old house on the mound. Charles S. Jackson, moved to this state and went into the old dwelling on the mound, to live in part of the same.

The next occupant was David T. Bonnell, who lived in it until David E. Beaty purchased the same, and now occupies it.

A circumstance occurred which exemplifies pioneer life in this county. Jerseyville had two saloons, kept by two men named Fowler and Williams. Williams’ folks got into a fight with James Burlew, and one Jonas Walker, a man assisting Samuel McGill, interfered to save Burlew’s life by throwing a brick into the Williams crowd. The Williams crowd got wind of who threw the brick and on the next day (it being the Sabbath) went out to the old mound to chastise Jonas Walker. Walker, hearing them appracoh, fled to Jerseyville to the First Presbyterian Church, then being held in the shop now occupied by William Keith of this city. Rev. Amos Brown was in the midst of his sermon, when Jonas Walker rushed in and told the congregation that seven men had come to kill him. The congregation broke up and armed themselves with axes and went in wagons to the mound, but the parties had fled. Williams had to leave the county. The remaining saloon keeper was prayed out, and Jerseyville remained a temperance town for years.

The mound has the honor of being the first place upon which free slaves ever set food in this neighborhood, so far as known, except one living in the fmaily of old John Brown. Those were two slaves manumitted by Richard McGill, brother of Thomas H. and Samuel L. McGill, and lived on the “Mound” Farm. One of them, Frank, became a member of the First Presbyterian Church of this city, and died up north.

We are indebted to Mrs. Thomas L. McGill of this city, living with Mrs. Coddington, for the above facts.

Contributed by Marty Crull and his volunteers.

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