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Cooper’s History of Jerseyville, pp. 218-236
Among the Pioneers (early history)
Rev. Marshall M. Cooper, History of Jerseyville, Illinois 1822 to 1901, Jerseyville Republican Print, 1901, pp. 218-236. Not a complete transcription, there will be errors, typos.
Edwin S. Wells
Edwin S. Wells was born in Salisbury, Conn., October 19, 1828. When he was six years old his father moved to Berkshire county, Mass., where he received a liberal education before coming west. He came to Chicago, Ill. in 1850, with the intention of locating there, but becoming alarmed at the prevalence of cholera in that city, he came to Jerseyville to visit his friend George H. Hodgkin, who had preceded him about two years and was a clerk in the store of A. B. Morean.
One day a tanner from under the bluff by the name of George Foster brought a bundle of dressed deer skins to the store to sell for “whangs,” as he called it, and Mr. Wells conceived the idea of making such products into gloves and mittens, and ordered twelve dozen dressed skins as a start, and ripped up some gloves and mittens in the store for patterns. From this the enterprise grew until he consumed from 10,000 to 12,000 a year, and manufactured some 25,000 to 30,000 pairs of gloves and mittens, besides a large number of money purses. He soon discovered that with the rapidly increasing population, the deer skins would become fewer when his business would grow less and less, and he closed out his interests and returned to Chicago and engaged successfully in the wholesale grocery business for many years.
Mr. Wells married for his second wife Rachel Corbett Hinton, the widow of Abner C. Hinton, who practiced law in Jerseyville for some years, and sister of Mrs. Isaac Harbert, who still lives in Jerseyville. Mr. Wells made a profession of religion and united with the First Presbyterian church of Jerseyville, under the care of Rev. Samuel Grosvenor, the first Sabbath of January 1851. He retired from active business some eight years ago, and has a beautiful home in Lake Forest, one of the suburbs of Chicago, on the shore of Lake Michigan, 28 miles from the city.
Was born in Scioto county, Ohio, April 14, 1826. He came to Jersey county in 1834, and has here remained ever since. He began teaching school in 1846, at the age of 20 years, which occupation he followed during the winters for 10 years, farming during the summer. He was elected sheriff in 1856 by the Whig party, when he moved to Jerseyville. In 1864 he was appointed revenue collector for Jersey and Calhoun counties, which office he held four years. Coroner from 1854 to 1856. Was elected mayor of the city of Jerseyville in 1870. Was married August 9, 1847, to Miss Tabitha Johnson, of Jersey county, but formerly of Scioto county, Ohio. Twelve children were born to them, five of whom died in infancy. Those now living are Barkley, James, Thomas, Philip and Heber.
James Stewart Daniels
Was born in Chester county, Pa., February 10, 1835. He came to Jersey county in 1854 with his parents, and engaged in farming. In 1861 he enlisted in Co. G., 122nd Ill. Inft., and was honorably discharged in 1865. He immediatley returned to Jerseyville and was elected City Marshal, which position he held for six years. He was alderman for 10 years, and in 1891 was elected Mayor. One of his first official acts as mayor was the vetoing of an ordinance passed by the newly elected council lowering the saloon license fee from $750.00 to $500.00, which act earned for him the esteem and confidence of all good citizens, and his subsequent course at the head of the city government has given entire satisfaction.
Began the hardware business on south State street, February 1872, and there conducted the business until 1889, when the firm name became J. S. Daniels & Son, and remained the same until his death, July 12, 1892. Since his death the business has been conducted by his son H. S. Daniels, who is sole proprietor.
For many years he was connected with the School Board of Jerseyville, and was foremost in all educational matters. He was a member of the council, and took an active part in the water works in pushing them to completion.
His death was rather sudden, yet it had been known for several days that he was sick, but when the sad news of his death was known, it had a paralyzing effect on the citizens of Jerseyville, for they realized they had lost one of their best friends, and a useful citizen, and a feeling of genuine sorrow took possession of every heart. His funeral services were conducted at the Presbyterian church, Rev. Ira C. Tyson officiated, assisted by Rev. J. J. Porter. He was buried under the direction of Jerseyville Lodge No. 394, A.F. & A. M., assisted by Belvidere commandery, K.T. No. 2 of Alton. Acting mayor DuHadway issured a proclamation requesting the citizens to close their respective places of business from 10 o’clock a.m. to 2 o’clock p.m., which was done, and the entire community attended the funeral and followed the remains to their last resting place. Thus passed away a good man, a useful citizen, who will be sadly missed by the entire city.
Alfred B. Purinton
Alfred B. Purinton performed an important part in the capture of Jefferson Davis during the closing days of the war. Mr. Purinton was Second Lieutenant of Co. I. of the Fourth Michigan Cavalry under the command of Col. B. D. Pritchard which accomplished the feat of bagging the wiley Confederate President. On May 10, 1865, Mr. Purinton was “brevetted First Lieutenant of United States Volunteers, for meritorious service in the capture of Jefferson Davis.” Lieutenant Purinton was one of the twenty men who escorted Davis and party to Washington. He now has in his possession a button cut from the rubber coat worn by the Confederate President as a disguise.
Mr. Purinton was born in Truxton, Portland county, N.Y., February 16, 1834. He was married to Miss Nettie Maxwell, at Coldwater, Mich. in 1867. Moved to Lincoln, Ill. in 1871, where they resided until 1882, when they moved to Jerseyville. Three children were born to them: Fred V., of Lincoln, Ill.; Lena B., of Boston, Mass.; and Elizabeth, who resides with her parents.
An ordinance passed the City Council appropriating money to establish and maintain a City Library, Oct. 2, 1894. The appropriation was approved by the Mayor, H. A. Shephard, October 3, 1894. Library opening to the public, May 15, 1895. To start the enterprise, Senator T. S. Chapman donated the rent of the library room for three years. The Shakespeare club paid the librarian for three years. Numbers of volumes in the library 2, 863; number of government reports, extra 760, making a total of 3, 623. About 300 volumes out constantly. About 300 volumes out constantly. The library calls in an average of two thousand visitors monthly. Board of Directors: Wallace Leigh, Pres.; J. J. Wiseman, vice-president; Ed. J. Vaughn, Joshua Pike, Nellie Bowman, H. R. Gledhill, A. M. Slaten, T. W. Butler and N. Buesen. Miss Edna L. Curtis, librarian and secretary.
The first post office in Jerseyville was established in 1834, with Edward M. Dailey as first postmaster, who held it for six years. The second was David T. Bonnel, who held the office from 1840 to 1844. The third was Perley Silloway. The fourth was Charles H. Roberts. The fifth was Alex B. Morean. The sixth was Charles H. Jackson, appointed in 1853 and served until 1858. The seventh was Jacob E. Whitenack, who held the office until 1861. The eighth was Thomas L. McGill, who took charge of the office in 1861, but died a short time after, and his wife succeeded him. The ninth incumbent was John I. White, but soon after resigned in favor of Wm. Pitt, who held the office about two years. The tenth was Joseph H. Buffington, who held it for three years. The eleventh was George H. Jackson, who acted as special agent for a while, and was afterwards appointed, serving until 1869. The twelfth was Jacob E. Whitenack who was re-appointed, and continued in office in 1877. The thirteenth was J. L. C. Richards, who held the office from 1877 to 1882. The fourteenth was Wm. H. Edgar, who began in 1882 and continued to 1886. Hon. H. O. Goodrich, March 1, 1886 to 1890. Adolphus Rue from March 1, 1890 to 1894. John C. McGrath from March 1, 1894, to 1898. Wm. S. Pittman began March 1, 1898, continues to the present, 1901.
Jerseyville City Band
The Jerseyville City Band was organized Nov. 1, 1888, under the leadership of Paul Leresche, Sr., who was their continuous leader for eleven years, until November 1, 1899. On account of age and infirmities Mr. Leresche resigned, and Aaron Dodson, one of the charter members of the band, who played alto three years, solo cornet five years, and baritone for three years, was on Nov. 1, 1899, chosen leader and so continues to the present date, 1901. The band now plays every Friday evening during the summer months on the streets, which the citizens enjoy and appreciate greatly. Mr. Dodson as a leader is thoroughly competent and deeply interested, and the band now ranks among the best in this part of the State. Following are the names of the band members: Leader, Aaron Dodson; Cornets – Paul Leresche, Jr., Herbert Brinton, C. D. Dodson, John Powers and Herold Leresche; Clarinets – Augustus Krotzsch, E. L. Alexander and Elmer Erwin; Altos – C. A. Dodson, Walter Catt, Jos. A. Snodgrass and Karl T. Nelson; Trombone – J. W. Bell, Henry Catt and J. Q. Hill; Tubas – John Schneider, Strother Kennedy; Drums- Theodore Dodson, Herbert Bell.
Oak Grove Cemetery
What is now known as Oak Grove cemetery was purchased by the town of Jerseyville from H. L. Adams, January 8, 1856, for the sum of $800, payable in three annual payments. The cemetery, situated in the eastern portion of Jerseyville, was surveyed and platted by Henry M. Chase, county surveyor, July 19, 1856, signed by A. B. Morean, president and A. M. Blackburn, clerk of the council of the town of Jerseyville. The first sexton was Thomas Ford, who acted until the latter part of 1866. The second of Joshua Walpole, who acted until May 1867, and was in turn succeeded by Casper Sabo, who has acted continuously ever since. During the 34 years as sexton, he has buried 1,779 persons. Up to this date, August 21, there are 2,361 persons buried in Oak Grove cemetery, of which number 286 are in the Potter’s Field.
The first person buried was Clavira Stelle, daughter of I. and r. Stelle, Aug. 16, 1856. The second was Elizabeth Ford, September 1856. The first addition to Oak Grove cemetery, containing 20 acres, was purchased by the city council from Eugene Eberhardt on January 19, 1898, for the sum of $3,000, part of which was surveyed and platted by A. W. Newton, county surveyor.
There are 792 lots in the original, in cluding 50 lots laid out for the Potter’s Field, and 690 in the new, making a total of 1,482 lots, which as a whole, make one of the msot beautiful cemeteries in the State.
Further to the north is the beautiful Catholic cemetery, the hallowed place the Catholic church lays away her precious dead. Laid out with walks, and adorned with monuments and evergreens.
The Jersey County Farmers’ Institute was organized according to statutory enactment in 1896, with Col. W. H. Fulkerson as president, and J. W. Becker secretary and treasurer. Annual meetings are held regularly at the Court House in Jerseyville. Present officers: C. W. Simmons, president; J. W. Becker, secretary and treasurer; W. H. Bartless, W. H. Fulkerson and C. H. Updike, executive committee.
In connection with the annual Farmers’ Institute held January 8 and 9, 1901, the Jersey County Domestic Science Association was organized with Mrs. W. E. Carlin, president; Mrs. M. C. Stelle, vice-president; Miss Fannie Fulkerson, secretary; Miss Mamie Cadwallader, treasurer.
Organized December 1900 with eight members and Mr. John Christy, president; Geo. Woodruff, Jr., vice-president; E. L. Alexander, secretary; J. W. Becker, director; Walter S. Daniels, Jr., treasurer. Meetings were held in the home of President Christy until the association moved into their rooms on north State street, January 17, 1901. Meetings now held in their rooms Sunday afternoons.
The following account taken from the Jersey county circuit court records shows this to be the only case of capital punishment executed in Jersey county. “Jersey County Circuit Court, April term, April 18, 1865. Wm. A. Brown, alias Tom Moss, alias Amzi Moss, murder. Indictment charges murder of Robert Watson, Nov. 7, 1864, by shooting with a pistol.” Trial at August special term, 1865. Jurymen: James Young, J. W. Besterfeldt, T. J. Campbell, John Davis, John E. Julks, Asa Briggs, Sebastian Watson, J. C. Carrico, D. D. Smith, Wm. McAdams, H. N. Belt, Jr., Wm. R. Ashford. Jury’s verdict, murder. Hung on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 1865. T. J. Selby, sheriff. Witnesses to hanging: Richard I. Lowe, county judge; Jacob Lurton, associate judge; L. H. Robbins, J. L. White, attending physicians; Andrew Jackson, county clerk; M. E. Bagley, circuit clerk; W. T. Whitfield, H. O. Goodrich, C. C. Cummings, James C. Ross, Smith M. Titus, J. C. Marshall, Chas. H. Knapp, Dr. A. K. VanHorne, Dr. G. G. Lyon, John H. Reddish, A. L. Knapp, Wm. W. Felter.
The National Hotel was built by Lott and Dailey in 1836-37. In May 1836, John Frost, Sr. vacated the “Old Red House,” to give room for Prof. Penuel Corbett and family, Mrs. Harbert being one of the children, and moved into the National Hotel before the painting was completed. Thus John Frost, Sr. was the first occupant of the old National. Mr. Frost remained in the hotel eight years, until the spring of 1846, when C. B. Fisher purchased it, and remained there four years, to 1849.
In 1846 C. B. Fisher built the north division of the hotel afterwards occupied by Fred Bertman, dry goods and clothing store, and Casavant’s jewelry store, lastly by Ed. Burns’ saloon and Wm. Hanley’s meat market. C. B. Fisher retiring, Peter Goff held possession until 1854, when W. S. Hawley took charge, who, in 1855, built the long eastern addition of 70 feet, that extended to the alley.
At this point there is some doubt as to the order of ownership. In 1860 Smith Titus was proprietor, and he was succeeded by Charles Bowman. William Billings next came in control and after him Charles Holcomb and his sons. James Young succeeded the Holcombs, with whom the history of the building as a hotel ceases, though it was used afterwards as a rooming house. At the time of its destruction by fire on Sept. 1, 1901, the property was owned by S. H. Bowman, William Hanley and James Perrings.
Much interesting local history is connected with this building, especially during the Civil War period when it was connected with the Underground Railroad.
Jersey County Farm Life Sixty Years Ago
By Hon. Ed. Miner
Out on the prairie, about a mile to the west
Of where we’re now met, further knowledge in quest,
Stood a little log cabin in the prairie grass tall,
Where your speaker arrived one night in the fall,
In destitute plight, without money or clothes,
A pitiable object, as you well may suppose.
And to add to his misery – and these are bald facts –
He was barren of hair as the pol of an ax,
And shy on teeth too, for this luxury then
Was with him like unto the proverbial hen.
That cabin stood low, squarely facing the south,
And built to withstand either flood or a drouth;
One door and two windows furnished ingress and light,
While the fireplace covered quite all else from sight.
The door on two wooden hinges was hung,
But the windows were “set” and refused to be swung;
And a rough puncheon floor, laid down without sills,
Answered well enough there for skirts without frills.
A ridge-pole projected at either end of the hut,
And a chimney loomed up, belching cinders and soot.
On one end of the ridge pole a hen and her brood
Roosted safe from the varmints ’round hunting for food,
While a gobbler, who mate on Christmas eve died,
Held the other end down, thus preventing a slide.
With these simple adornments the outside was complete,
While the interior lacked not in ornaments neat.
From the raftrs o’erhead there hung in festoons
Long strings of dried apples and dried skins of raccoons;
While over the fireplace, from pegs in the logs,
Swung strips of dried venison and jowls of dead hogs.
In one corner a barrel, with cover weighted with chunks,
To keep the meat under brine and secure from skunks,
Held in pickle the pork for the next summer’s use,
And served at times as a stand, or at least an excuse,
For this useful adornment, and often at night,
Held the saucer of grease that furnished the light.
Then a little pine table, one bed and some chairs,
And an old wooden clock much in need of repairs,
And a bucket and gourd, and an old spinning wheel,
And hanks of white yarn just fresh from the reel,
And a shot-gun transformed from a rifle, smooth-bore,
Which hung within reach just over the door,
And a powder horn, made from the horn of an ox,
Embellished with pictures of a hound and a fox,
And suspended near by to be ready, in case
A big buck glided by, to get out and give chase –
Embraced about all the household effects
Save a few ancient dished little better than wrecks.
No, there’s another adornment I cannot forget,
For its memory looms up, clinging close to me yet,
And that’s the cradle of boards, shy of satin and silk,
Where your speaker got started, dealing wholly in milk;
At with avocation he thrived well for a time,
Had things his own way, and enjoyed it prime,
Until there came to the cabin, one dark night in June,
Another toothless young scamp with lungs all atune,
Who got red in the face, yelled and kicked with such vim,
That he turned the milk business straight over to him.
Thus a farm life in Jersey, three score years ago,
Your speaker began, and would now have you know
That milk rations cut off, his chances to win
Were, to put it mildly, most deucedly thin,
For did he take other diet and thereby grow fat,
Then his mother would worry to know “where he was at,”
Did he chance to stroll out, looking tempting and sweet,
Lest a prowling she-wolf snap him up for her meat.
But he grew on apace with other stock on the farm,
Had the croup and the measles, which did him no harm;
Fought whooping cough hard, and chicken pox spurned,
Fed the chickens and pigs, rocked the cradle and churned;
Went out on cold mornings, ground covered with sleet,
Drove the hogs from their beds and there warmed his bare feet,
Brought the cows from the pasture and on errands ran,
Until but one thing was lacking to make him a man.
That “one thing” he found in the summer one day,
When a man from the town came out to cut hay,
Who, to pay him for some little errand he did
Gave a piece of tobacco, just enough for a quid,
Now then, thought your speaker, this surely’s not bad,
I’ll be a man now not less bigger than dad.
He put the stuff in his mouth, to the stable went straight,
Leaned against the pig pen and did there ruminate;
Till a darkness came o’er him that could almost be felt,
And a queer sort of feeling flitted under his belt,
Which caused him to tremble, his knees to grow weak,
Filled his soul with dismay and with pallor his cheek;
Until, hanging limp o’er the rails of that pen,
Gave his quid and his dinner to the pigs, there and then.
But this little experience didn’t seem to suffice –
He was bent on acquiring and holding the vice.
So he sought the same reptile that caused him the pain,
And declared he was willing to be bitten again.
And thus he continued, spite of thrashings or threats;
His father’s advice, or his mother’s regrets,
Until he’d mastered the art (this is truthful but sad,)
And could bite off a chew quite equal to dad.
Then, as years glided by, he engaged on the farm,
Not enough to excite or cause much alarm
For his health, or his strength, but to tell you what’s so,
For ten cents a day he covered corn with a hoe;
Sallied out in the mornings when his father with team
Went out to break prairie, and born down on the beam
To keep the plow in the ground, and thus, hour by hour,
Rode an old wooden mould board that never did scour.
Then played circus with horses, and rode ’round and ’round
To tramp out the sheaves, in a ring on the ground;
And, with tramping done, then to gather the wheat
Helped to rake off the straw and toss chaff from a sheet.
Another threshing device in vogue at that day,
Which to use with effect was not any child’s play.
And though simple in build, in looks shy of deceit,
Was full of the d–l as an egg is of meat.
This engine whose antics made your speaker bewail
And curse the day he was born, was a measly old flail.
One day he had stood and watched with much care
The men in the barn swinging flails in the air,
To beat out the oats from sheaves on the floor,
Where he viewed the proceedings through a crack in the door.
When the noon hour came and men gone to their meals,
Thought your speaker, “I’ll try this and see how it feels
To run these machines, so simple, so plain;
I think I can do it without very “much strain.”
He seized the one nearest, swung it over his head,
And in less than two minutes he was carried to bed,
With nose mashed out of shape, his eyes a mere speck,
And one ear twisted ’round to back of his neck.
But he lived, as you’ve seen, to tell the sad tale,
And give warning to shun that murderous flail.
The threshing now done and corn gathered in crib,
The thoughts are diverted to the roasted spare-rib.
And hog-killing time now grows on apace
When the porker will then have to give up the race.
In the crisp early morning, ground covered with snow,
A smoke is seen curling from a chunk-heap aglow,
Where stones to heat water snuggle closely therein
To be ready for business when the killings begin,
Then the neighbors arrive, old butcher knives ground;
New gambrels are cut because the old ones not found,
Then a bustle, a hustle and cry “water hot,”
The the crack of a rifle, a squeal from the lot,
And the slaughter is on, and no rest is found
Till with heels in the air and noses to the ground,
Hang suspended in rows, looking comely and neat,
The remains of dead swine for the next season’s meat.
Then the dogs and the cats and crows from the field
Hand ’round for the parts the interiors now yield,
And contend for the “lights,” hung on the top rails
While the boys are content to fight out for the tails.
But let this suffice for the scenes on the farm
About which there always will linger charm,
While we mention the men who three score years agone
Leveled the forests and made the prairie a lawn.
When we scan o’er the list, tho’ we’ve not named them all,
Our feelings are stirred, as we sadly recall
That two-thirds of the number, if not many more,
Have passed on beyond – to eternity’s shore.
Peace to their memories, ever green their graves keep,
For they’re not dead but sleeping, then why do we weep.
Among those whom your speaker has many times met
Are those whose names follow – these he cannot forget:
There was “Uncle” Phil Grimes and son Jarret T.,
And Pattersons, Gershom, a major was he;
The Coleans and the Cummings, a goodly array,
The Slatens and Allens and Ira E. Day;
And Gillworths and Whitlocks and William McDow,
The Waddles and Crains and Richard I. Lowe;
And Carrolls and Marstons and Ezekial Chance
And Beach, Charlie L., who liked well to dance.
Then the Scotts and the Powells, Rogers and Riggs,
The Robbins and Snells and one William Briggs,
And Simmons, and Shorts, Randolphs and Ruyle,
And D’Arcy E. A., he of the “old School.”
Also Landons and Lambs, Masons and Stelle,
And Seagos and Trabues and Adams, N. L.
Then Reddish and Schroeders, Perrine and Cross,
And Jacksons and HIlls, the Corys and Ross;
The Calhouns and the Cowens, Campbells and Belts,
And Wyckoffs and Davis, the Dabbs and VanPelts.
The Darnells and Dodsons, Masseys and Barrs,
The Knapps and the Goodrichs, Loftons and Darrs,
McDows and McKinneys, Stanley and Swans,
Staffords and Tolmans, the Nobles and Vaughns,
Then Warrens and Richards and English, J. N.
With Weddings and Blackburns and a Crabb now and then.
And Uncle John Sheeley, all remember him still,
As also Joe Gerrish who built the wind mill.
The Viall and Cyrus and Casey (M.D.)
And Bairds and old “Billie” Kelley you see.
Hinsons and Kirbys, the Shephards and Lotts,
Cheneys and Plowmans, Lurton and Potts.
Hendersons and Perrys, the Piggots and Post,
The Brocks and the Terrys and Fisher, “Mine Host.”
And the Browns and Copes, the Downeys and Eads,
The Hurds and Hamiltons, men of good deeds.
The Coopers and Windsors and one J. R. Black,
Elected Jersey’s first treasurer in days away back.
And the VanHornes and Bells and Harley E. Hays,
Must close up the list lest you think it a craze.
(In conclusion to those of my early associates who began life on a Jersey farm about the same time as your speaker, let me leave with you the following queries:)
As the years fly swiftly onward and life’s shadows lengthen fast,
As your cares and troubles deepen and your joys and pleasure last,
As you muse on life’s mutations and oft view them with alarm,
Do your thoughts recur, and often, to your boyhood on the farm?
Do there come the recollections of your first new pair of pants,
How you showed them to your Uncles and your Cousins and your Aunts,
How your Mother, heaven bless her, when she’d got the things complete,
Wondered how you’d e’er distinguish ‘twixt the front part and the seat?
How you sallied forth with limbs encased in this new rig unique,
With hands thrust down in pockets deep and tongue too proud to speak,
How you soon returned, your face awry, your spirits cursh and torn
Likewise your pants, and the eggs as well you’d in your pockets borne?
Do vagrant strains still linger of the “music in the air”
That went surging through the rafters when your mother cut your hair?
When she’d seize you by the foretop, clamp your head between her knees,
And threaten dire disaster did you even dare to sneeze?
Can you hear the lively clicking of those monster, dull sheep shears,
As they swished about your cranium, and mayhap, nipped your ears?
While your sunburned locks were falling at each successive whack,
And either lodged in eyes or nose, or went glimmering down your back?
And when at last, the job complete, you the to mirror flew
And viewed your “noggin” fore and aft from every point of view.
Had you before, or have you since, in heavens, earth, or air,
Gazed on a scene or met a fright that could with it compare?
Do other scenes come before you of earlier life on the farm,
Hog killing, harvest and threshing, and the gay husking bee in the barn;
When the golden fruit hung in the orchard, or the turkey sole off for her “set,”
Or the bumble bee answered your call and whose sting on your eye hurts you yet?
Do you frequently sit in the gloaming and sigh for a sight of old Tige,
That faithful old dog, and so aged that he had but few hairs on his hide?
In short how well it would please you – how much would it act as a charm,
To mingle for a time in those scenes of your boyhood days on the farm?