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"Early Days in Madison County, Illinois"

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser

 

EARLY MADISON COUNTY HISTORYReverend Thomas Lippincott

 

The following articles, titled "Early Days in Madison County," were written by Reverend Thomas Lippincott from August 26, 1864 to July 28, 1865. Reverend Lippincott (1791-1869) settled in Edwardsville in 1818, and was a strong foe of slavery. He was active in opposing the adoption of a pro-slavery constitution for Illinois in 1824. In 1825-26 he edited, in association with Hooper Warren, the Edwardsville Spectator. He then became a minister of the Presbyterian Church and associated himself with its activities throughout Illinois.

 

Annotations by George Churchill
George Churchill’s career paralleled Thomas Lippincott's. He assisted Hooper Warren in editing the Edwardsville Spectator, 1819-25; actively opposed the pro-slavery movement in Illinois; and served in the Illinois General Assembly, 1822-32, and 1844. Because he voted against the resolution for a convention to revise the constitution in favor of slavery, he was burned in effigy at Troy by pro-slavery constituents. Included below are some of his annotations concerning Reverend Thomas Lippincott's “Early Days in Madison County.”

                                                      

EARLY DATE IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 1
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, August 26, 1864
(Written at the request of Willard C. Flagg, Secretary of the Madison County Horticultural Society.)
I was very imprudent to allow myself to be beguiled into a sort of a promise to call up the memories of the years that are long past. I am in the predicament of him who boasted to Hotspur that he could “call spirits from the vastly deep,” when the spicy gentleman significantly asked, “But will they come, when you do call them?” I am afraid not, very readily, and not very regularly, yet I will try.

I came to Madison County in the Autumn of 1818. In fact, it was the first day of winter when I arrived with my family to reside. But it may not be intolerable in an old man’s story to go back a little and tell how it happened.

The trip down the Ohio River from Pittsburg to Shawneetown would be more interesting to hear about than to perform, as we did. But I neither can nor desire to enter into particulars. We started – “we” may be understood to designate my wife, my child, and myself, together with all my worldly goods – but on the boat “we” included another family, consisting of a man, his wife, two children, and a young lady, who united ….. [missing] …. Times that I write about, but a Monongas flatboat, about half the length of those generally used at that time for conveying produce to New Orleans, and like them, covered over with a crowning roof, which was the deck on which the navigators walked, and covering of a cabin below.

Well, we started, as I was going to say, on the first day of December 1817, and on the 30th day of the same month, landed at Shawneetown. The most notable event of the voyage is thus written in my diary, under date 18th December: “Was passed by the steamboat (about two o’clock) built by Evans, Steckhouse & Rogers, of Pittsburg. She moved majestically along at a rapid rate.” This was the first steamboat we saw on the Ohio, and the only one we saw on our twenty-nine days trip.

I feel inclined to copy the minute made by me in regard to one place. We had descended the Falls in an oar boat, during a heavy rain and fog, and our women and children and beds were very wet. In consequence, we went ashore to obtain lodging for the folks while we could dry the bedding, and were hospitably and kindly entertained by Mr. Nathaniel Scribner, one of the proprietors of the town, with whom my wife had been formerly acquainted. After leaving, I wrote thus: “New Albany is pleasantly situated on the right bank of the Ohio River in Indiana, and in my opinion, bids fair to become a place of great business. Enterprise is a characteristic of the proprietors, and many lots have been sold. There are at present, ninety families (Mr. N. Scribner informed me) in the place, some good frame houses, a number of log dwellings, an elegant brick house and store, owned by Mr. Paxson, late of the house of Lloyd, Smith, and Paxson of Philadelphia, and a steam mill, driving two saws and one run of stones. Two steamboats are on the stocks, and three more are to be shortly put up. A ferry, having a great run of business, is established here.” Such was New Albany, and such its prospects, as they appeared to me on Christmas Day, 1817. I have never stepped on its shore since, and cannot, therefore, describe its present or foretell its future, except from the current history.

On landing at Shawneetown, we found a village not very prepossessing, the houses, with one exception, being set up on posts several feet above the earth. The periodical overflow of the river accounted for this, and I imagine the exception, a brick house, was hardly as agreeable residence when the inhabitants went from house to house in boats (an annual occurrence) as the less pretentious log dwellings.

After a detention of several weeks at Shawneetown – while we were told the roads were impassable on account of mud – a hard freeze and storm covered the face of the earth with solid ice, and procuring a horse, I set out with my family and my “plunder,” as the people along the road would call it, in a little Dearborn wagon, to cross the country to St. Louis, leaving my companions at Shawneetown. The _____ on which we started became slow, as we advanced, and we waded through it slowly, wearily, from the 6th to the 17th of February 1818, except two days spent in the kind and hospitable family of Judge Lemen, at New Design, near where Waterloo now is, when we saw and crossed the majestic Mississippi, and for a few _____ are residents of St. Louis.

Such was traveling in the Territory of Illinois. The road a mere path, and thro” the woods indicated by “three back” trees. The only towns or villages that we saw were Kaskaskia, the seat of the Territorial government, Prairie de Rocher, a few miles from St. Louis. It will take another paper to get me over to Alton.

I arrived at Louisville, Kentucky, February 15, 1817, and left for St. Louis, June 5, on the keelboat Dolphia, Captain Billings. During my stay at Louisville, I worked at the printing business, a part of the time in the office of the Louisville Courier, published by N. Clarke, and another part of the time in the office of the Correspondent, published by Elijah Berry, afterwards well known as the Auditor of Public Accounts of the State of Illinois. Mr. Lippincott’s mention of Mr. Paxson reminds me that during my stay at Louisville, a Mr. Paxsen was drowned in a creek a few miles from New Albany, Indiana, while attempting to swim his horse across the same, when the water had been swelled by a sudden freshet. Such disasters were of frequent occurrence in the “early days” of the West, when bridges were few and far between. Our own Birkbeck lost his life in a similar manner.

When the Dolhin arrived at Shawneetown, June 11, my fellow traveler, Mr. Kersey Jones – a tanner from Pennsylvania - and myself, concluded to leave the boat and walk across the country to Kaskaskia. Shawneetown is described in my diary as “a village of about forty houses; no fields, gardens or orchards are to be seen here.” We left Shawneetown on June 11, and reached Kaskaskia on the 16th, tired and footsore. We put up at the hotel of Mr. William Bennett. Mr. Bennett was a Pennsylvanian. He has since resided in this county and in Galena, and was the father-in-law of the late Guy Morrison of this county. This hotel appeared to be the rallying point of most of the Territorial officers, such as Governor Edwards, Secretary Phillips, Delegate Pope, and Colonel Michael Jones of the Land Office. The latter took a fancy to my fellow-traveler, claimed him as his nephew, and offered to set him up in business if he would stay. But Kersey Jones disliked the country, would go and look at Saint Louis, and then return to Pennsylvania. We stayed six days at Kaskaskia, then proceeded to Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, where we learned that the Dolphin had left the landing only an hour before. We walked up the riverbank about two miles, overtook the boat, got on board, and arrived at Saint Louis on June 27, 1817. We put up at the Green Tree Inn, kept by Daniel Freeman, formerly of Dover, New Hampshire. Travelers by steam at the present day will look with wonder on the record of journeys made forty-eight years ago.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO 2
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, September 2, 1864
In a few days after my arrival in Saint Louis, I was employed for a little while to do some writing for Rufus Easton, Esq., a lawyer of wealth and prominence in the Territory of Missouri, of which he had been the delegate in Congress. One of the jobs executed by me for him was making a fair copy of a plat or map of Alton, a town which he had laid out the previous year on the banks of the Mississippi in Illinois. This map was designed for exhibition at the East, in order to effect the sales of lots. I took some pains to make it look well, and I believe, gave satisfaction.

After a few months spent by me as clerk in a store, Colonel Easton proposed to me that I should take a stock of goods, in partnership with him, and keep a store at Alton or neighborhood, and accordingly I became a resident as before said in Illinois – now became a State – on the 1st of December, 1818. It was not in Alton that my store was opened. Alton was in embryo. When Colonel Easton brought me first in his gig to see the place, there was a cabin not far, I should think, from the southeast corner of the penitentiary wall, or corner of State and Short Street, occupied by the family of a man whom the Colonel had induced to establish a ferry in competition with Smeltzer’s ferry, a few miles above. I forgot the name of this ferryman, and indeed the names of almost everybody else then extant (which is the reason why I said it was imprudent in me to attempt these sketches), but his habitation was about as primitive and unsightly as I had seen anywhere. I do not think he was overworked by the business of his ferry at that time, for the old road passed north and out of sight, and it was not easy to persuade travelers to try the new one, even if they ever heard of it, which was probably rather seldom.

Let me tell a few things about the origin and early years of Alton. In the first place, Colonel Easton laid out in 1817 or before the town fronting on the Mississippi River, consisting of the streets between and including, I believe, Henry Street on the East, and Piasa Street on the West. I do not remember how far north it extended, but think not further than Tenth Street. This may not be correct, and if the original plat, or boundaries, can be found, which is doubtful, it might be interesting to the curious to ascertain the facts. I know the valley, now the east part of town, was not in the first map. The town immediately had a rival. Mr. Joseph Meacham laid out Upper Alton, and published it abroad as if it were part of Alton, but on the hill. I believe purchasers discovering that it was 2 miles away from the landing expressed dissatisfaction; whereupon Mr. Meacham purchased what was called the Bates farm, laid it out, and advertised it as Alton on the river. This last enterprise was purchased by Major Charles W. Hunter, perhaps in 1818, and has since been popularly known as Hunterstown, and has very properly been incorporated into the city of Alton. I did not, in those days, expect to see the three separate enterprises united as they now substantially are, into one thriving business and commercial place.

Litigation kept Alton from improving some ten or twelve years. Several of the leading lawyers of Illinois purchased or possessed a title adverse to that of Colonel Easton, to the land on which he had laid out his town. Such men as Ninian Edwards, the Territorial Governor, Nathaniel Pope, so long the able District Judge, and others, would bring wealth, legal talent, and perseverance into the conflict, and Colonel Easton had them all to contend against. Of course, no permanent improvements, nor extensive purchases would be made while this contest was going on. I know not who had the right, or the law in the case, nor do I believe anybody else ever knew, and when the parties got tired of their unprofitable contest, the compromised by dividing the land. Of this division, I only know that Edwards, Pope, and Co. got some of the northern portion, and laid out some beautiful lots, which are now occupied by the elegant houses of Mr. Bowman and others, on a line with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. This difficulty being removed, improvements began to be made, and the village of Alton began to be. But I must go back and tell a little – all that I can remember – of the day of a small thing.

Notes on Lippincott’s No. 2 by George Churchill
It was either in 1818 or 1819 that I attended at Colonel Easton’s Alton, where the proprietor was to offer some of his city lots for sale, and for that purpose, displayed a beautiful map, which had been prepared in accordance with this advice of one of the posts of that day:

“The most important point, perhaps Lies in the drawing of the maps;
The painter there must try, By mingling yellow, red and green,
To make the most delightful scene, That ever met the eye.”

There were Gospel Lots, an Observatory Square, College Lots, and I know not how many other reservations for public and charitable purposes, delineated on the map. The company was not numerous, yet two gentlemen from the State of New York were there, viz: Mr. Reuben Hyde Walworth, afterwards Chancellor of the State of New York ___ ____ ____ [unreadable] think no lots were sold. There were three or four buildings east of Little Piasa, but no improvements west of that stream.

In the latter part of 1819 and the forepart of 1820, John Pitcher advertised that he kept the Fountain Ferry. His advertisement was succeeded in the Edwardsville Spectator, on the 22nd of February, 1820, by that of Mr. Eneas Pembrook who added that he also kept a tavern. Both the ferrymen advertised that the road from Milton, by Fountain Ferry, to Madame Griffith’s near Portage des Sioux, is three miles shorter than any other road now traveled between said places, and that at Fountain Ferry a boat could cross three times in less time than it could cross once at any other ferry on the same river in this State. I know not at what ferry the immigrant for Boone’s Lick, mentioned by Parson Flint, crossed the Mississippi, but when he got into the Point Prairie, St. Charles County, Missouri, where the soil is as rich as fresh soil can be, he dug up some of the black soil and exclaimed: “If the land is so rich here, what must it be at Boone’s Lick!”

The Bates farm was afterwards called “Hunterstown.”

Joseph Meacham laid out the town now called Upper Alton in 1817 or before, upon land on which only one-fourth of the price had been paid. He disposed of as many lots as he could by lottery. Each ticket drew one lot, or a larger tract – say thirty acres, more or less. These last were considered high prizes. In 1817, Meacham’s Alton was far ahead of all the other Altons in population and improvements. The people of the adjacent country were in the habit of lumping them all together, and calling them “Yankee All-town.”

At length, the owners of lots in Meacham’s Alton discovered that they were in danger of having said lots forfeited to the United States. To prevent this, they raised the necessary funds, cleared the land out of the Land Office, and appointed Messrs. Ebenezer Hodes, James W. Whitney, Erastus Brown, and Augustus Langworthy to execute new deeds to those who held deeds from Mr. Meacham, on their coming forward and exchanging their old deeds for new ones from the above-named gentlemen. This was accordingly done, and one danger was avoided.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 3
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, September 9, 1864
[Note: This article was extremely hard to read – there are omissions and may be errors.]
The stock of goods which Colonel Easton prepared to put in my hands, and which ______ into Madison County, was to be ________ not of a larger stock that he had ______ on point on the Missouri River, which ______, and I hoped to make valuable as a ferry (called Fountain Ferry), and perhaps a town. The Colonel had purchased a large stock of merchandise and place it in the hands of Ebenezer Huntington, a young man who had made extensive tours ______ the South as a lecturer and de_____, with no little applause, and in the winter of 1817-18, was starring it in St. Louis on the stage. It was soon found that _____ and dollars’ worth of goods was too much to hold in a place where there was nobody to buy – at least I saw no one _____ near there, and so the Colonel sent a part of it by me to be offered for sale on the east side of the Mississippi.

Hawley’s store was not opened in Alton, ______ _____ there. Sometime in November 1818, I stepped out of a keel boat on to the shore of the Mississippi, and found _____ and my goods under a magnificent grove of Sycamore or Cottonwood trees, _____ from the mouth of what the _____ had named Fountain Creek, but which was, and is better known as Little Piasa, _____ point where the bluff jutted on the river, on which the old Penitentiary was afterwards built. I think there was no house there then but the ferry house, and perhaps a cabin on or near Second Street [Broadway], somewhere south of Alby Street. The hills were crowned with lofty oaks, and formed, as they do now, a splendid outlook over to Missouri and up and down the river. Nature was in her own dress then.

There was a busy, active village even then in the neighborhood. A firm, consisting of John Wallace and Mr. Seely, owned a mill site three miles below on the Wood River, where they had three mills – two saw mills and a grist or flour mill – and they were in full, active operation. Messrs. Wallace and Seely had laid out a town and called it Milton, and were doing a fine business. A distillery a few rods up the Wood River was equally active. A. W. Donohue, a merchant of St. louis, had put up a building and opened a store at the bridge in Milton, under the charge of Richard T. McKenney, but whether from want of patronage or society, Mr. McKenney ____ before _____ ______ the store in St. Louis. He was afterwards teller and then cashier of the Bank of Edwardsville, and was highly esteemed for his social qualities and strict integrity. To this storehouse, by direction of Colonel Easton, I brought the goods, and the farmers and travelers (for there was a road there, and some travelers) could read the sign, “Lippincott & Co.,” and if they chose, purchase dry goods and groceries as cheap and as good, perhaps, as they can be had now in these war times. I remember I sold coffee at fifty cents a pound, and salt at three dollars a bushel.

A contract had been entered into by Colonel Easton with Daniel Crume and William G. Pinckard for the erection of four log houses. I believe hewn logs, on different parts of the town site. He afterwards changed the plan so far as to unite two of these in one, which was put up on the block between Market and Piasa and Second [Broadway] and Third Streets. I believe that house (which was so long occupied by Mr. Thomas G. Hawley) is still standing, though surrounded by other buildings at least it was there until the brick stores were put up in front of those I have mentioned the name of a gentleman who has always been a resident of Alton, knows its history much more perfecting, and would remember vastly better than I, and I would suggest that one of the proprietors of the Alton Telegraph could probably have access to him and to his more valuable reminiscences. At any rate, I hope my old friend, William G. Pinckard, will look over, correct, and complete the rambling recollections of one whose memory is not only defective, but who is so far away from the place and people of Alton as to have no means of correcting errors, or help in recalling facts.

I have a very indistinct recollect, or imagination, of a row of several small tenements strung along under the sycamores, sometime in the winter of 1819-20, occupied by several families, whose names I cannot recall (unless one of them was named Ward), who did not remain long in the place or neighborhood. It was a ephemeral as humble. But I seem to remember yard and garden fences in a small way. It seems to me these cabins must have been under the first bank, which was where Second Street [Broadway] is, west of Piasa.

Notes on Lippincott’s No. 3 by George Churchill
Walter J. Seely moved to Edwardsville, where he kept a public house. He died January 13, 1823. The Star of the West said he was a native of Goshen County, New York, probably meaning Orange County, in which the town of Goshen is situated.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 4
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, September 16, 1864
I do not get along fast. Three numbers only bring us to the winter of 1818-19, and well little of that. No matter. When the reader gets tired of the early days, or its old writer, he can skip the rest. Or the editors can just cry “hold, enough,” and the fountain will dry up.

In order to draw travel, a road was necessary to Alton from Milton, and to cross Shield’s Branch, a bridge was indispensable. Accordingly, Colonel Easton made a contract with Joel Finch to build a frame bridge, for which he was to be paid at my store, the sum of two hundred dollars. The bridge was built about or very near the site of the present covered bridge. One or two of the same kind succeeded the original at almost the same price, before the present structure was erected, the road wound somewhat through the Bottom, but was soon run as now along the bluff. There were two families residing between Milton and Alton – or more properly between the Wood River and the Bates’ farm. The first, near Wood River, was owned and occupied by a widow Meacham, who had been there during the late war time – the War of 1812 – and as she told me, was visited by Indians on the same night, I think, on which the Wood River Massacre occurred. The old lady was highly esteemed, and I used to enjoy her conversation much. She had two sons, men grown, and two or three daughters, if I am not mistaken – one of whom was married to Mr. Whitehead, afterwards a thriving and wealthy citizen of St. Louis, and a L____ First Presbyterian Church. If I could talk awhile with Squire Pinckard, I know I could tell a good deal more, and a good deal better about some of the first families of that part of Madison County. The other family on the road was that of Mr. James Smith, nearer Alton. I only know of this family that Mr. Jubilee Posey married a daughter, and that I often enjoyed their hospitality in later years in the neighborhood of Troy, where Mr. Posey was a thrifty and respected farmer.

I can now, familiar as they were to me and long remembered, call to mind but few of the old settlers round Alton at that time. There were besides others, two families scattered along the American Bottom for some miles below Milton. The Gillhams and the Preuitts. Gillham was the last Sheriff of Madison County under the Territorial Government. He owned a fine farm and a ferry on the banks of the Mississippi, opposite the mouth of the Missouri, most of, or at least much of which farm I believe has gone down the river, perhaps to the Gulf of Mexico. In the summer of 1818 or 1819 (I forgot which), I saw several steamboats lying at the bank of Mr. Gillham’s farm – more than I had seen at one time at St. Louis. They were boats employed by Colonel James Johnson, brother to Richard M Johnson, to carry supplies for up the Missouri to Fort Osage, on a contract with the U. S. Government. I suppose such boats would be considered small affairs now, but to me, and many who went to see them, they were rather magnificent. The other Gillhams were settled along near the Long Lake.

The Preuitts occupied farms along the bluff from the Wood River to where the Edwardsville Road ascended the bluff at W. T. Davidson’s. Abraham, William, and Isaac dwelt on the side of the bluff facing the Bottom, and Solomon, somewhere on the table land above. They have all been gone many years to Greene County I believe. One of them, Isaac, was distinguished as having been the only one who killed one of the Indians who had massacred several of the Moore family in the forks of the Wood River. The pursuit of the Rangers was so hot, however, that it was believed none of the gang ever got back to their tribe alive.

There was a farm and horse mill adjoining Milton, and several fine farms strung along on the west side of the prairie some three or four miles – some of them quite large and all productive. I have since been passed over the same ground, and found it clear prairie. The only indication of settlement being rows of cottonwoods forming a hollow square, and showing where the fences of one of the farms had been. These latter years have filled up this space with farms again.

Above the bluffs, on the table land, I remember several farms which were old settlements when I came to the country. In the forks of the Wood River were three brothers by the name of Moore – George, William, and Abel. The two latter had built them each a brick house, but George still occupied the old log, considerably enlarged, and near him still stood the blockhouse to which the inhabitants resorted to in times of danger, and the powder mill in which they were wont to provide themselves with ammunition.

Supplemental Correction
In the second number of these articles, I have not seen the first, the types make me say things that need correction. The read says, “Written at the request of W. C. Flagg, Secretary of the Madison County Horticultural Society.” According to this, Horticulture seems to have functions still more varied than were ascribed to it by a certain divine, whom I once heard lecture on the 4th chapter of Genesis. On the 2d verse, he explained that “The first employment of mankind were agriculture and horticulture, the cultivation of the ground and raising of cattle.” I did not suppose, however, that horticulture would include the gathering of scraps of history. As it seems, I may also have made some blunders, the printer will please cause it to read – Written at the request of W. C. Flagg, for the Illinois Historical Society. The other error is geographical. I am made to say, “the valley of Piasa was the east part of the town.” I said, or ought to have said, the west part.

 

 

Early Days in Madison County, No. 5
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: The Alton Telegraph, September 23, 1864
The inhabitant of the settlement between the two branches of the Wood River, if we may judge from a specimen, increased apace. I was called in 1819, I believe, to marry a couple (for I received a commission as Justice of the Peace within a few months of my arrival at Milton) which was duly performed under the shade of one of the monarchs of the primeval forest. Some years afterwards I called to see this married pair at their residence on the Woodburn road, and found them a well to do family, the parents in the vigor of life, with sixteen children. I do not know that all the families were equally prosperous, but the population and the farms multiplied in that region.

I had occasion in that year to make a journey into "the Sangamon country" (it was not yet in existence at that time). Starting from Milton and ascending the bluffs a short distance from it, the road skirted the Wood river timber on the south side, passing through what was known as Rattan's prairie, and continuing entirely in the prairie, after passing the head and timber of that stream a mile to two, perhaps more united with a road that ran from Edwardsville, and so passed North. The farm and house of Jesse Starkey was the last we passed, as I remember, in that region.

Of the inhabitants of that prairie settlement, I can only remember to name William Montgomery, Richard Rattan, Thomas Rattan, Rev. William Jones and Jesse Starkey aforesaid. There were others, one especially, whose house I often passed in after years on the way to Edwardsville, as well if not better known to me, but whose names I cannot recall. These were all men citizens. I believe their descendants are of substance, and have been prominent people of note in this county or elsewhere at the present day.

In the journey I spoke of, we made many points. There were, after leaving Wood river and launching out into the open sea (prairie) as land marks, first Dry Point, the head of the southern branch of the Macoupin; then Honey Point, of the Middle Fork; then Slab Point, a little off the road to the left; and next Lake Fork, at the head of the northern branch. From this last the road struck across to Brush creek, and then to Sugar creek, waters of the Sangamon river. We staid all night at Honey Point at Mr. Robinson's (father-in-law to George Debaun) and the only house between Jesse Starkey's in Rattan's prairie and a house on the waters of Sugar creek, now in Sangamon, but then in Madison county. Soon after, (that same season perhaps) Dry Point was occupied, I think by a Mr. Hammer, and Lake Fork was improved by Mr. Henderson. As Mr. Henderson kept a very comfortable and pleasant house of entertainment, at a point where the roads from Edwardsville and Hillsborough (where that was built) to the Sangamon Country, and afterwards Springfield, it became a place of great resort and of course quite noted; but it seems to have been known as Macoupin Point in those after years. The roads being subsequently changed, Mr. Henderson removed his establishment some years afterwards to the prairie where the roads from Madison county to Springfield were crossed by the road from Hillsborough to Jacksonville. After his death, this house was kept by his widow, and then by his son-in-law Mr. Virden; who, when the railroad (Alton & Springfield) was located removed a few miles (in sight of the old place, and gave name to the flourishing village now well known as a point on the St. Louis, Alton & Chicago railroad. But, I am getting ahead of my story.

When I came to Milton there was a public house kept by Joel Bacon, in a cabin near the bridge. In the summer of 1819 he erected a frame house a little higher up, to which he removed his family and tavern - it was not a drinking house - and entertained travelers as comfortably as the circumstances of the country allowed. His wife was a notable and very excellent woman, and his daughters and hers, all afterwards married, some in Greene and one in Pike counties, aided in keeping a cleanly and respectable house. I boarded with them in the cabin some weeks or months, until ready to occupy the little room in the rear of my store.

I think it must have been in the summer (or spring) of 1819, that Mr. Robert Collet, a merchant of St. Louis, bought out the interest of Mr. Seely in Milton, and henceforth Wallace and Collett became the proprietors of the village, the mill and the business of Milton, Mr. Collett, however, kept the store - a rather extensive one for the time. My store was separated from the rest of the house simply by lathing. My residence was then in a little cabin near Mr. Bacon's. That big house, after Mr. Bacon's death, being still in its unfinished state, was taken down and taken up to Upper Alton, where it was the residence of George Smith. Perhaps I ought not to omit so trifling a circumstance as the gathering of about a dozen or twenty children - all there were - into our house on Sabbath mornings for religious instruction. My wife, who had had much experience and success in teaching, could not be easy without the effort, and it was made; - and thus, got the name of the first Sabbath School in Illinois.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 6
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, October 7, 1864
Dr. Langworthy was a man of some note in those days. My memory fails me here again, not only with respect to his name, which I well knew, but with regard to some other persons more or less connected with him. Though I knew and respected them, I find it impossible to recall enough about them to venture any mention of them. One man, of a different class, must not be omitted on account of his after history. A young man by the name of Robert Sinclair (so he wrote it) was well known. He kept a “grocery,” i.e. grog shop, and was one of the boys who could run horses, drink whisky, play cards, and generally and particularly carry out the practices of rowdyism as well as anybody. Being Deputy Sheriff, he was placed in positions of no little responsibility, and I am not aware that in his official or business transactions he failed to discharge his duties acceptably. He was certainly rather illiterate, but shrewd and active, and in person he might be considered a model of manly beauty. That which was the chief incident of his history (in our county) belongs to a later day, and comes more properly in connection with another. He is introduced here simply as one of the early settlers of Upper Alton.

There was another, and very different person on whom my mind loves to dwell. Whether he was among us so soon as this, I am not sure. Perhaps one of the editors of the Telegraph could ascertain and tell. Rev. Nathaniel Pinckard, having preached the gospel as a Methodist minister, in the traveling connection many years, settled down at the late evening of life in the new and crude village of Upper Alton. He had made the accumulations common to the calling: experience, wisdom, the love of God, and his fellow men, the usual infirmities of age, and _____ to toil for a living. His cheerful, genial spirit and kindness of heart, rendered him very attractive to me, and I believe to others. There was one tie that bound us together even more than others – a strong sympathy and agreement on the subject of slavery. My hatred of it was inherited, or at least drawn with my mother’s milk. His was caused or intensified by actual contact and experience. In the course of his ministerial service, he was at one time sent as a missionary to one of the islands of the West Indies, and there he saw it, and having human sympathies, felt it. One illustration, which I had from his own lips, I will give. At one of his stations among the members of his church was a young and beautiful girl – if my recollection is not at fault, intelligent and accomplished, too, whose character and sorrows deeply interested him. Of her piety and good conduct, he seemed to have no doubt. After the relation of minister and member had continued along enough to inspire mutual confidence, she sought his counsel on the most momentous question that can arise in human experience and action. She was a slave. Although the pretext of color was obliterated, she was subject to the will, the caprice of one who wore the garb of a fellow man. This was enough to grind the intelligent and sensitive soul, but this was not all. Her master was her father and her grandfather. With the quick sense of purity and morality awakened by Christian experience and feeling, how keen must have been the emotions of wrong and shame that stung the young disciple, the offspring of lust and incest. But there was a deeper depth of grief and degradation for her. Whether from advances actually made, or from the known character of her brutal master-father I know not, but her soul was harrowed by the fear that he would compel her to submit to his doubly incestuous lust, and her anxious and agonized and repeated inquiry of her pastor was, whether it was not her duty to commit suicide to preserve her chastity. And he confessed to me that it was a question too awful for him to decide. He could only weep with her, and bid her trust in God and pray for deliverance.

I could add more from his West Indies experience to show the moral horrors of slavery, but choose rather to give a characteristic anecdote of him which may provoke a smile. His residence in Upper Alton (Salu) was at a point where Smeltzer’s ferry road – leading into Missouri – branched off from that which was traveled towards northern Illinois. Of course, the immigrants into Missouri took slaves with them, and it was easy to distinguish them from those intending to settle in our State. One day a moving train came to this point with the usual assortment of colors marking our western neighbors, and either hesitated or were taking the wrong road. Mr. Pinckard ran out and called to them, “Here, you must take the left hand, you with the darkies,” and he added, “I am afraid you will always have to take the left.” He was a good man, and when afterwards I tried to sound the gospel trumpet, although of a different denomination, his sympathies and his prayers helped me.

[The editor of the Telegraph added: Rev. Nathaniel Pinckard was the father of William G. inckard, and came to Alton in 1818.]

Dr. Langworthy’s Christian name was Augustus. When I last heard from him, he was living at Tiskilwa, Bureau County, Illinois. I find the following in the Edwardsville Spectator, August 28, 1819:

“Post offices have been established at Alton, Gibraltar, and Carlyle. Dr. Augustus Langworthy is appointed postmaster at the former place, and Thomas F. Herbert, Esq., at the latter.”

I will add that Daniel D. Smith was appointed postmaster at Gibraltar.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 7
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, October 14, 1864
I hope Mr. Flagg, or whoever may be employed as the historiographer of the Society, has a good planning mill to winnow out the few grains of wheat there may chance to be among the mass of chaff in these rambling sketches, by the old-fashioned hand process would hardly pay, but improvements are the order of the day, and who knows, but some patent separator may soon, or already be discovered by which all that is worth saving may be got out and put away by steam?

Sometime in the winter of 1819-20, perhaps in February, a family arrived in Milton which had a more important relation to myself than to Madison County. And yet the State of Illinois and county of Madison, and even the city of Alton have since felt its influence. I had known Elijah Slater from my first coming to the State. Indeed, we had met on the Ohio River, which we were descending at the same time – he on a raft of lumber, which he had purchased at Olean, and I in the cockle boat previously described. Both stopped a while at St. Louis, and then came to Milton, where a friendship was formed which was cemented by religious sympathies and efforts. After a few months, he returned to his former home, Ithaca, New York, and in the winter aforesaid, arrived in Milton with his family. It may amuse my readers, especially the descendants of that good man, to see an account of his reception in those primitive times.

I had become a widower with a child of some two years. Unwilling to part with the little one, and indeed knowing no one to whom I could entrust her, I prevailed on a kind friend, the daughter of the good Deacon Crocker, at whose house in St. Clair County my wife died, to come home with me and keep house. We were sitting one evening by a bright cabin fire, when a knock was heard and Mr. Slater entered. He informed me that he had brought his whole family along, and expected them to tarry in Milton awhile, until he could get a house built on the farm he designed to make. “Well bring them in.” “I don’t know, but it will make too much trouble, and take too much room for them all to come. I guess part of us, at least, had better go to Mr. Seely’s.” Mr. William Seely had come to the West with Mr. Slater, and afterwards settled on the Vermillion River. “Well, bring them in for the present anyhow.” It was amusing to see the blank astonishment and alarm in the countenance of Miss Crocker, when she said to me after Mr. Slater went out. “Why, what in the world are you going to do with them?” “Do with them? Give them a place to stay. They have beds.”

In order to feel the force of her question, it may be necessary to describe the mansion of which the hospitalities were thus offered. It was a log cabin, say 16 by 18 feet, with a shanty closet perhaps six feet square, and a loft above in which I could possibly stand erect, under the ridge pale. Mr. Slater’s family, then with him, consisted of himself and wife, and three daughters. And the driver of the team must have a place, of course. I do not think his son, Samuel, was with them then.

The result was that a part of the family took up their temporary abode with us, and a part with Mr. Seely, until in early spring, there were houses built for both families on farms which they opened (or rather enclosed) on the prairie north of Sugar Creek, some six miles from where Springfield was, a couple of years afterwards, located by commissioners as the county seat of the newly erected county of Sangamon, of which county seat they were among the very first inhabitants. In inviting them all into my little cabin, I did just as we were all accustomed to do in those days, and without any apologies.

On my return from the trip to Sugar Creek mentioned in a previous number, I was bringing my bride home. At Honey Point, where we stayed all night, there were travelers already provided for, and I and my wife slept on a buffalo robe, spread on the floor. There was no other way.

The second of Mr. Slater’s daughters came with them a married woman. Her husband, Mr. Joseph Torry, soon followed, and joined in the farm enterprise. A few months afterwards, I was married to the eldest daughter, and in the autumn, Mrs. Torry and my wife both died, within a week of each other. Though not perhaps exactly within the scope of my sketches, it may not be uninteresting to the present generation of Madison County to add that the third daughter was a year or two afterwards married to Dr. Gershom Jayne, to whom Alton is indebted, in part, for what was deemed an important improvement, and that their eldest daughter is the wife of the Hon. Lyman Trumbull. As he and his family have somewhat been intimately associated with the fortunes of Alton and the county, it seemed proper to mention these facts.

Of Mr. Slater I have to say, that he was a man of more than ordinary worth. Though somewhat visionary in business matters, he was in other respects a man of sound sense and good information, a devoted Christian and peculiarly amiable. And his wife was one whom to know was to love. Their evening of life was rendered happy by filial love and care in the pleasant home of their surviving daughter.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO 8
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
None found

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 9
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: October 21, 1864
My family suffered much with sickness while we resided in Milton. The dam on the edge of the ledge of rocks across the Wood River, just below the bridge, was supposed to create malaria. I know I have often, of a summer evening, held my breath or my nose while passing over the bridge. Dr. John Todd of Edwardsville was our physician. But as he was ten miles off, and had a most extensive practice, we had occasionally called in Dr. Clayton Tiffin, who resided at St. Marys, only three miles off. Perhaps my readers will wonder where St. Marys was, within that distance. A year or so afterwards, I was called from Edwardsville to marry my friend, Ebenezer Huntington, to the sister of Dr. Tiffin, the ceremony to be performed at his house in St. Marys. I went, and found a level plain at or near the mouth of Wood River, on the lower side, with a two-story framed house on it, in which Dr. Tiffin resided. That was St. Marys. Whether the town of Chippewa, of which I heard some years ago, occupied the same spot, I do not know, but doubt whether it was as well built, if as populous.

The town of Edwardsville was in those years an important place. It was the residence of Ninian Edwards, who had been the only Governor of the Territory of Illinois, and was now a Senator in the Congress of the United States. Jesse B. Thomas, his colleague in the Senate, was also a resident of Edwardsville, and the two distinguished citizens, with their accomplished families, formed a nucleus round which the intelligent naturally gathered. We know that the young ladies shone as brilliant gems in the gay and polite circles of the city of Washington.

These two men have filled places in the political history of not only the State (as well as Territory) of Illinois, but of the United States, too important and prominent to be soon forgotten. If this were the place, or I the person, to give the political history of the times and the actors in them, it would be easy to find many materials, and pleasant to gather them. But, though I might collect many facts of interest, there would be so many more left out for want of documents and memory, that I shall not attempt it. Of Judge Thomas I will only say that he was a man of gentlemanly and pleasant manners, and without any remarkable powers of mind (of which he was sensible) could and did exert a great influence over the people. It was he who in 1820 presented to Congress the celebrated compromise on slavery, by which Missouri was received into the Union. No one, at home, supposed him the author, nor would they if they had not known from the current reports of the day that it emanated from Henry Clay. Fully convinced as I was, and am, of the good intentions of the movers in this measure, it seemed to me an unfortunate attempt to mingle iron and clay, wrong with right, and likely to prove disastrous, only postponing and greatly aggravating the catastrophe. With a number of others among us, I was, therefore, opposed to it. Whether our judgment has been vindicated by the present rebellion [Civil War], which cannot but be traced to that compromise as one of its causes, may be left to the candid judgment of the present and future generations.

Of Ninian Edwards I could find it in my heart to say much more. Besides the fact that his abilities were superior – that he stood in the councils of the Nation as a power, and filled, I may say, the first place in the political history of Illinois - I might be influenced by motives of personal friendship to fill a large space with my reminiscences. But I forbear. His government of the Territory, his subsequent election as one of the first chosen Senators, his career there, his fearful conflict with W. H. Crawford in which both parties may be said to have been destroyed, his appointment as ambassador and resignation of it, and finally his election of Governor of the State to succeed Edward Coles, are matters of history and need not be dwelt upon in these sketches. I cannot forbear, however, to mention one thing which was known to me more fully perhaps than to the public of that day. It is that: When he found it advisable on account of some of the unpleasant consequences of his contest with Mr. Crawford to resign his foreign mission, he had received a large sum – I think nine thousand dollars – from the United States Treasury for his outfit, and had actually expended it. There was no legal claim on him for it, and many thought no moral obligation to repay it, for he had expended it in the legitimate objects of, and as a necessary preparation for his mission. He, however, from his private fortunate, returned the money into the treasury.

Few more genial, pleasant, and interesting men are to be found in the walks of private life, few could attract more strongly in the social circle than Ninian Edwards, and a vein of egotism always discernable rather enhanced than diminished the zest of social intercourse. Of Edwardsville and its men of that day, I may have much to say in the future numbers.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 10
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, October 28, 1864
The town of Edwardsville had been laid out before I was acquainted with the county, and was the seat of justice. It occupied a ridge jutting but from the Cahokia River, having on each side a somewhat deep and abrupt ravine separating it from the level land adjacent. Thus, it had but one street, or scarcely more, and in this respect, as well as in its position, I believe is pretty much the same yet. The court house was a log building on the edge, next to the street of the square, which was a remarkably contracted opening not far from the lower end of the town. The jail on the same piece of ground was no more remarkable for beauty or strength. It was composed of logs, and perhaps lined with plank. Nor could the brick court house and jail built a few years afterwards be called a great improvement. I remember when Lorenzo Dow came to Edwardsville and preached, some years after this, when he was shown the court house as the place of meeting, refused to preach in it, saying it was only fit for a hog pen. It had not yet a floor, except a narrow staging for the court and bar.

About this time (I mean 1819), some gentlemen purchased a farm at the south – rather southeast end – and laid it out in blocks and streets, with an open square of reasonable size in the center. It was designed not only to rival, but supersede and swallow up the old town, and probably to this end (for I can conceive no other) it was laid out in such a way as not to connect by streets with the street already established. While the form of the ridge controlled the course of the main street, there was no reason, but the caprice of the proprietors, why the streets of the addition should not correspond with it, or else with the cardinal points of the compass. But it agrees with neither, and moreover, the old street was made to butt against a solid road at the junction.

The proprietor of the old town was James Mason, who had purchased it before I knew it. He had built a brick house on the rear of the square, in part of which an inn, or as it would now be called, a hotel, was kept by William C. Wiggins, afterwards so well-known at Wiggins Ferry, St. Louis. At this hotel might have been seen during the years of its occupancy by Mr. Wiggins a number of men of no small note – the elite of that day, both of our own citizens who had not yet made homes, and especially of those who came to spy the land with a view to future settlement. For comfort, for good living in a plain way, such as was then thought genteel enough for the best, and for neatness, the public house of Mr. Wiggins furnished a resting place which the intelligent and refined traveler was well prepared to appreciate, after a horseback ride across the State, over the new roads, and stopping at the log farm houses on the way.

Edwardsville was at that time the most noted town, perhaps, in Illinois. Though the old capital was at Kaskaskia, and the new prospectively at Vandalia, neither was as much a point of attraction as Edwardsville – not morely for the reason that as I said the chief men of the young State resided there, but more, and perhaps mainly, as the point, to which people came as a center from which they were accustomed to go out prospecting. For I think the west side of the State at that time invited immigration much more than the east. The land district had been opened, and the land office established at Edwardsville a few years, and consequently all who wished to settle anywhere north of the Kaskaskia district must enter their land at our county town. The lands were sold by the government on a credit at two dollars (the minimum) per acre. On paying one-fourth of the purchase money down, the remainder might be delayed. This was doubtless in order to enable the settler to make the balance by labor on the land; which was doubtless often done. But unfortunately, the spirit of speculation was aroused. Thousands upon thousands of acres were purchased by non-residents on more speculation. And the actual settler was deluded with the hope of making money to pay the balance, and so entered three or four times as much as he had money to pay for. And, as if to excite speculation still more, a person might by depositing sixteen dollars on a tract (80 acres), one-tenth of the purchase money, secure a pre-emption for a certain length of time, and then, if I do not forget, transfer it to another tract, if he preferred it. Such was the state of things at that time, and consequently, there were many congregated at Mr. Wiggins’ house from time to time, and at all times, whose object and business it was to enter many or large tracts of land, to be kept until the price of land should rise. These were, of course, men of property, and many of them men of intelligence and standing, and added to the residents, made a lively and pleasant society.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 11
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, November 18, 1864
At the establishment of the Land Office at Edwardsville, Mr. McKee was appointed Register, and Benjamin Stephenson, Receiver. The former died, and Edward Coles had been appointed his successor before I became acquainted there. It was the wish of the friends that William Paton McKee, a son of the deceased, who had in fact conducted the office from the beginning, should be appointed to the place, and interest was made for him, but he was a minor, and the Government declined. As the next best thing, it was understood that one should be appointed to hold it until young McKee came of age. The estimation in which he was held may be inferred from this, and I will only add that this estimation was general, and that it continued to the end of his life. A close and intimate acquaintance with his private, as well as his official character, enables me to say that he was in all respects worthy of the very high regard which all entertained for him.

Of Colonel Stephenson, I have to say that he was a plain, unassuming man, not highly educated, but of practical, good sense, and amiable and pleasant in the circles of social life. His position, and especially the elegant and high-toned manners of his beautiful and attractive wife and daughter, the latter just budding into womanhood, together with their close association with the accomplished family of Governor Edwards, placed him and his among those who were at the head of society, along side of the family of Judge Thomas, whose step-daughter, Miss Rebecca Hamtramck, shone as a brilliant star in the fashionable circles of Washington city. Indeed, we had evidence that Edwardsville, in the persons of Miss Julia Edwards, afterwards Mrs. Daniel P. Cook, as heretofore intimated, and Miss Hamtramck furnished society in the National Capital with some of the most perfect specimens, in one case of charming, modest beauty, and grace, and in the other, of dashing, elegant manner and splendid appearance, that it could boast during a session of Congress, within the Presidential term of John Quincy Adams. With these, and others fully competent to associate with them, and the stranger heretofore mentioned, it may not be too much to say that there was an intelligent and refined, if not a fashionable society in Edwardsville, as early as 1819 and 1820.

In a former number I have spoken of Governor Edwards. The name of Edward Coles cannot be passed over without remark. He was of one of the leading families of Virginia – a genuine F. F. V. – but his course was so eccentric in the view of his kindred, that he well nigh lost caste among them; and it may be that he deemed a sort of honorable banishment to the wild prairies of Illinois, a relief from what would almost perhaps be considered a social ostracism at home. His brother, Colonel Isaac Coles (whom I remember to have heard in my youthful days called the most perfect gentleman in America), was then private secretary to President Jefferson. His brother-in-law, Andrew Stevenson, was, I think, in Monroe’s term, Speaker of the House of Representatives in the U. S. Congress, and himself occupied the position of Private Secretary to Mr. Madison in his Presidency, as well as special messenger or enjoy to the Government of Russia. He was wealthy, and so far as I could discover – with some favorable opportunities for knowing – did not value office for its emoluments. Yet, he accepted the office of Register of the Land Office in the Edwardsville district, and came to Illinois before it had become a State. Whether he came as a friend and substitute of Mr. McKee I know not, but he resigned when McKee came of age, and said he was deemed eccentric, and no wonder, for when upon the death of his father, he fell heir to a parcel of negro slaves, he determined to set them free, and not all the expostulations or persuasions of his friends and family, nor their offers to exchange other property for them, could induce him to change his determination. He would emancipate them, and did! And trusting to the binding force of the Virginia act of cession, he brought them to the Territory of Illinois, bought lands a few miles from Edwardsville, and settled them on the prairie, where with his help, they made themselves farmers, and some of them, at least, whom I knew years afterwards, lived comfortably and respected. His subsequent election as the second Governor of the State of Illinois, and some part of his course during that time, will come under the head of events occurring in following years.

There were three brothers in Edwardsville at this time, and for some years afterwards, who occupied conspicuous positions, though not much in the official line. James, Paris, and Hail Mason. The first of these, James Mason, was as I have said, proprietor of the old town plot [Edwardsville]. He was a genial, pleasant man, seeking mainly the acquisition of wealth, and having no political ambition. His home and family was ever a place of delightful resort, not only from his own cheerful, good fellowship, but especially rendered so by the cordial, sprightly, and lady-like manners and interesting conversation of his wife. Paris Mason was an industrious man, and carried on a mill at the foot of the street, where the Cahokia was dammed for that purpose. The third, Hail Mason, was for a number of years a Justice of the Peace, and a useful, worthy citizen, well known and enjoying the confidence of all. He afterwards became _______ in the Methodist connection for a few years. But they all died years ago.

The first Register of the Land office at Edwardsville was John McKee. His son, who was deputy or chief clerk under his father in the register’s office, held the same place under Edward Coles, who was appointed to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of John McKee. The son’s name was William Patton McKee. “He resigned when McKee became of age.” I do not know when Mr. McKee came of age, nor the exact time when Mr. Coles resigned the office of Register, but I presume he resigned previous to his inauguration as Governor of Illinois, which took place December 5, 1822. Colonel Benjamin Stephenson, Receiver of Public Moneys, died on October 16, 1822. His death caused the postponement of the Land Sales, which, by the President’s proclamation, were appointed to be held about that time at Edwardsville. In giving his readers notice of this postponement, the editor of the Edwardsville Spectator assigned two causes for it, to wit:

1st, the death of the Receiver, and 2nd, the absence of the Register – Mr. Coles having taken the liberty, between his election and inauguration, of visiting his aged mother in Virginia. Mr. McKee tried to convince the editor that the absence of Mr. Coles had nothing whatever to do with the postponement of the sales, that he, William P. McKee, was fully authorized to act in the place of the Register, that as the office of Receiver was vacant, no sales could take place, even if the Register were personally present. I do not know whether the editor was ever convinced of his error or not. To other people, it was a very clear case. The Star of the West of March 8, 1823, announced the appointment of Samuel D. Lockwood as Receiver of Public Moneys in place of Colonel Stephenson, deceased, and I suppose the appointment of William P. McKee as Register was made about the same time.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 12
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, November 18, 1864
The bar at that early day was more respectable than might be expected “in a new country.” How often have we old settlers smiled with a kind of good-natured contempt at the utterance of this qualifying phrase. We so often heard it applied where it was utterly ridiculous. Newcomers would always speak depreciatingly of the accommodations with which they had to put up, and the great privations they had to suffer, and do so still, and we sometimes happened to know and often suspect that they had been deprived of a good many discomforts by their removal. But when they spoke of the climate and the people, the lawyers and doctors as inferior, and even the soil and the crops, we sometimes lost patience, but oftener our gravity.

I had had some opportunities to discover the standing and qualifications of the lawyers in Pennsylvania and in New York – mostly in the “rural districts” – yet not so exclusively there, but that having been reared in the city, I could see and guess a little about the acumen, so celebrated of even the “Philadelphia lawyer.” It might seem extravagant boasting of our western pleaders of that day, who came to court on their own horses, who had to “put up” at the unplastered taverns from two to four in a room (if not in a bed), whose consultations with clients were perforce held in a barroom, or out on the porch or prairie, and whose law libraries were carried in their saddlebags, re-enforced, it may be, by an odd volume borrowed from some lawyer resident at the place, there being no public library anywhere on the circuit. It might, I say, seem boasting to say of men so circumstanced, that they evinced as much shrewdness, talent, and learning, and managed their cases as well as their learned brethren on the eastern slope of the mountains. They might not be so well dressed – their woolen wrappings round their legs as they dismounted from their tired horses on arrival after a hard day’s ride might not be so genteel, especially in muddy weather, and their personal appointments generally might not be so neat and pretty. Nay, there might be an appearance of coarseness in manners, as they were seen sometimes in the streets, or joking and laughing at the public table, which was public literally. Yet, after all, I must affirm that many of the lawyers of that day who usually practiced in the Circuit Court of Madison County, would have stood side by side with the gentlemen of the bar in the Atlantic states, would without fear of failure or mortification have met them before a court of jury anywhere.

True, there were of the inferior sort, mere half-read, pretentious pettifoggers. And there were others who might have done better than they did, kept at the bottom of the class by idleness, and perhaps intemperance, but the names only of several of our lawyers in the early days would show an array of which Illinois might be proud, even now.

The first Judge of the Circuit, including Madison County, under the State, was John Reynolds. Of him I need not speak. He still lives, and his standing, character, and idiosyncrasies are well known. If he did not stand at the head of his profession within his Circuit, it is no more than often happens. I believe he was considered a competent lawyer. Of the stories told of him, a portion, perhaps, were like Sargent’s Temperance Tales, “founded on fact,” though the foundation was sometimes rather small for the superstructure. He was certainly not a martinet in his professional or judicial department, and I believe does not affect etiquette to this day. What I consider the mistake of his life, was indicated by a single remark of his. We happened to be looking at a mechanic at work on the foundation wall of a jail. “Ah,” said he, “these are what will keep society in order, rather than your Sunday Schools.” I do not repeat his words, for they were spoken thirty years ago; but this was the precise idea. Little does he know of human nature, and little weight does he give to the testimony of human history, who considers jails and courthouses more efficient as reformatory or regulating institutions of society, than the Bible, the Pulpit, or the Sunday School. It is only where these have failed of their full influence for want of the proper use of them, that those become necessary and indispensable as they are, after all, only necessary evils. Let us hope that in the last days of his prolonged life (Governor Reynolds may know the worth of that Bible which he then considered less valuable to society than the jail).

The oldest member of the bar was William Mears. I think he was an Irishman, and his idiom was, as is usual, quite expressive. He was treated with great respect by the court and bar, and had the reputation of being a good lawyer, but his advanced age precluded somewhat the energy, and it may be the acuteness by which the younger ones, at least some of them, were characterized. I think he did not continue long. Another of the earliest was James Whitney, long known since then, at the seat of Government as Lord Coke, and standing chairman of the lobby. His talents, whatever may have been his law learning, did not place him in a high position. But as I knew him in those days, he was an amiable, well-meaning man. Neither of these resided in Edwardsville. Whitney (at that time) dwelt in Upper Alton, but afterwards, I think, in Pike or Calhoun County. Mears I know not where.

Notes on Lippincott’s No. 12 by George Churchill
“Lord Coke” ???, alias James W. Whitney – the first time I saw this character was August 24, 1817 at Belleville, Illinois. I find the following entry in my diary under the above date: “Whitney is a Yankee from the vicinity of Boston, and came to this country in 1800. He has been 2,500 miles up the Missouri, and was taken prisoner by the Indians.”

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 13
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, November 25, 1864
Other non-resident lawyers who practiced in our court, now recollected by me, where David Blackwell, Alfred Cowles, Daniel P. Cook, Elias K. Kane, and perhaps, at that time, Samuel D. Lockwood.

Alfred Cowles would have been a respectable lawyer in one of our eastern cities. I am not sure that he would not have taken a higher grade, relatively, there than here. He was a scholar, a gentleman and a Christian. In the investigation of legal points, and in calm argument, he could maintain a position, I believe, with the best. And he could successfully present a case to an intelligent jury. But he had none of that slap-dash oratory, or that easy fluency which captivates the common mind. He was a thinker and a lawyer, as well as a man of integrity and good feeling; was held in high personal respect; and on the whole, successful in his profession.

A good deal of the same language might be used in describing David Blackwell, and yet there was a wide difference, especially in manner, and probably in acquirements. Mr. Blackwell was respectable as a lawyer, though not eminent; was far from being brilliant, limited, as I suppose, in his literary education; and more rustic in his personal deportment. He would not have appeared as well in a city court, but I think his standing was about or nearly the same among us as Mr. Cowles. Not more graceful, nor more eloquent, he could, I think, adapt himself better to ordinary juries, perhaps for the very reason that he was less polished and precise. My recollection of both these gentlemen is very pleasant.

Among the magnates of that day – not titular, but real – were ranked Elias Kent Kane and Daniel Pope Cook. They were rivals, both at the bar and in political life. I will not promise a perfectly fiar, though I mean an entirely candid estimate of these gentlemen. I had much more acquaintance with Mr. Cook, I esteemed him as a personal friend, and was on the same side in the political questions – especially the great question – of the day. It is hardly likely that I should steer entirely clear of partiality. I shall not try. Yet I hope to be honest, and to have the eyes of memory open while I give a “charcoal sketch” of men who deservedly filled a large space in public regard at the commencement of the history of our State.

Mr. Kane did not visit our county, or circuit, perhaps, very often. His residence was at Kaskaskia, and his usual circuit in that direction. But it was easy to perceive that he stood in the first rank when he did come. And this is about all that I can say of him as a lawyer. My acquaintance with him was mainly as a politician. And here he took a position among the leaders, and although Shadrach Bond was our first State Governor, I believe it was conceded that Mr. Kane was chief ruler at the opening of our history. I do not know how long he was in the Territory before the adoption of the Constitution, but he was one of these who composed the Convention, and as I have understood, not one to whom we are indebted for the provisions to which we owe our prosperity as a State, and our present immunity from insurrectionary and guerrilla raids – I mean the prohibition of slavery. At any rate, I know that he was a leader, and an able one, in the subsequent effort to destroy or remove that cornerstone of liberty. Mr. Kane was a keen, shrewd, talented politician.

Daniel Pope Cook was a candidate for Congress when I first heard of him, in competition with John McLean of Shawneetown. This last-named gentleman did not, so far as I remember, practice in our court, so that my acquaintance with him was only in his political character, and mostly of later years and contests, but the subject matter of the contests was the same. The first, and all I knew or heard of the candidates in their first canvass was, that Mr. McLean was in favor of slavery, and Mr. Cook opposed to it. I do not recollect whether the proposed admission of Missouri entered into the question before the people or not. In fact, I knew nothing of the men, or of their claims or merits at that time, only on the slavery question. That was enough for me.

I may say, in passing, that Mr. McLean was as I afterwards discovered, a man of more than ordinary talents as able debater, and as ________ eloquent orator. His fine, legendary, noble, firm, melodious voice, and easy manners (naturally graceful) added to a strong mind, gave him more than ordinary _____ on the _____ in the Legislative hall, and I suggest, at the bar. He was an able opponent.

Of Mr. Cook, I shall have more to say than can be included in this paper, and it may as well be deferred awhile until he became a resident among us.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 14
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, November 25, 1864
There were two gentlemen of the bar, resident at Edwardsville, when I first knew anything about the courts, who were quite prominent men, if not at the head. They could hardly be called rivals in any sense, for their aims and spheres of action were almost entirely different and never interfered. Yet both were men of marked ability, and exerted no small influence. They were Henry Starr and Theophilus W. Smith. While memory brings them together, it presents them almost wholly in contrast.

Mr. Starr was a lawyer, Mr. Smith a politician. The former had his life in the investigation of the deep questions and foundation principles of the law, and their bearing on the causes committed to him. The latter, while a lawyer of acknowledged ability, seemed more intent on the question of immediate success, acute in finding flaws, and taking unexpected turns. He practiced law for a living, but his life was in political struggles, and this chosen field of action called forth certain habits and methods of doing things which were naturally introduced into his professional career. While Mr. Starr was absorbed in the business of his profession, so that mere party strife had no interest for him, Mr. Smith seemed mainly interested in the promotion of some political scheme or party question. Mr. Starr was strong. Mr. Smith keen. Mr. Starr was clear and convincing. Mr. Smith ingeniously dark and mystifying. Mr. Starr able in establishing and showing the truth, Mr. Smith equally able in hiding it, or – as we of the cloth would say – “darkening counsel.” I do not know that Mr. Starr ever made a political speech. Mr. Smith was somewhat famous for those performances. And yet my opinion is that Mr. Starr could have succeeded, so far as oratory was concerned – real eloquence – in being an abler debater, even on the stump, than Mr. Smith. And though indifferent to party strife where vital principles were at stake, Mr. Starr was neither indifferent nor idle. During the winter of 1822 and 1823, while the pro-slavery party was manipulating the Legislature in order to get the Convention question started, Mr. Starr wrote one or two of the ablest and most caustic articles on the subject that appeared.

They differed in other respects. Mr. Starr was genial, but hardly social. Mr. Smith was social, but hardly genial – at least often otherwise. So engrossed was Mr. Starr with his profession, that often in hours of relaxation among his friends, in the midst of lively converse he would all of a sudden spring some unexpected legal question upon them, as far as possible from the theme or thoughts of the moment. He raised many a laugh at himself by this.

Mr. Smith, on the contrary, while his opponents thought him always scheming, gave himself up in his social and convivial hours to the spirit of the occasion, and when entertaining guests in the midst of his interesting family circle, he could throw no little charm over the scene by his lively and entertaining manners. He became a Judge of the Supreme Court, which honorable and responsible position he filled, I believe, to the satisfaction of those who were conversant with the courts at that time. But that was for the greater part at a later period than belongs to the Early Days. I may have occasion to introduce him in another connection.

Mr. Starr, after practicing law in our courts honorably and successfully for several years, removed to Cincinnati, and having maintained his character and reputation as a lawyer, a man, and a Christian, and acquired a handsome property, died a few years ago much respected. Judge Smith has also been dead some years. Their toils of earth are ended, and all of earth which they acquired is nothing now to them. Let us hope that they did not neglect to secure more durable treasure. Of Mr. Starr, I have heard that he was several years a member and officer of a Christian church. Of Mr. Smith’s religious hopes I know nothing, only that he once evinced a strong desire and even hope of Divine mercy. That was in the early days.

I find memory at fault – as I expected. There were others of that day whom I perhaps ought to recall, but of whom only two or three can be brought up. Polemon H. Winchester was a young lawyer of fair promise and prospects. But the hopes of his friends were blighted as the result of convivial habits then too common, and still the bane of society. Habits that formed clung to him through life, and though of a leading family in Tennessee, allied by marriage to that of Colonel Stephenson, possessed of fair, but abused talents, and qualities that drew one to him in spite of his habits, he sunk rather than rose, and dragged through a life of poverty until a few years past, when he sunk into the grave. A painful incident of his life that shook society to its center can only be alluded to, and that only because it belongs to the history of the times. I refer to his trial for the murder of Daniel D. Smith. This man was a waif thrown upon society we know not how. I never knew whence he came, nor of his kindred. He was, I think, a land agent, and was considered as an Ishmaelite, nobody’s friend and nobody his friend. He was stabbed one day in a quarrel, and died immediately. A small company was present, including Mr. Winchester, who was quarreling and disputing with him. No one saw him stabbed, but all saw him fall, and it was evidently from a wound inflicted by a dirk or knife, opening the jugular vein. But the only dirk or knife found in the company (not on the person of Winchester) was entirely clean, not a drop or stain of blood upon it. Such were the facts I believe correctly stated. As far as I recollect, no one saw Winchester, or anybody else, aim a blow at Smith, but Winchester was nearest him when he fell. Of course there was excitement. Although no favorite in Edwardsville, the people were not willing to have Mr. Smith murdered with impunity. Prejudice set in strongly against Winchester, and there were many warm friends of his wife and family, of whom I was one, whose sympathy with them inclined them to secure to the accused at least a fair trial. Able counsel was, of course, employed, and in addition to what talent could be procured at home, the friends of Winchester sent to Tennessee for the famous Felix Grundy, who was not only celebrated as an advocate, but a friend of the family. It was a time of intense interest. The trial was perhaps the most solemn event in the history of Madison Circuit Court. And when the jury rendered a verdict of “Not guilty,” I know not whether relief or surprise predominated. I confess that, for myself, the emotions were about equal. I will explain. There were few, I suppose, who did not believe that Smith died by the hand of Winchester, but many, of whom I was one, had strong doubts, or positive disbelief, of its being a deliberate act of murder. It appeared rather a sudden burst of anger, excited by the terrible taunts of which the deceased was capable. We expected, therefore, a verdict of manslaughter. But the powerful and personal appeals of the great Tennessee orator carried the jury away on a tide of feeling.

Nicholas Hanson and John York Sawyer, though they figured afterwards, one as a legislator and the other as circuit judge, were well known in Edwardsville in those days, but not as lawyers. They did not practice much at the bar.

 

 

ARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 15
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, December 9, 1864
I am not an analyst, but an angler, throwing my line back into a former generation, in the hope of catching and bringing to the present a few of the men and things of forty years ago. No matter therefore, whether I group those years together or bring them forward more regularly in the order of time. But in my mind, the two men – Hooper Warren and George Churchill – are coupled together, not merely because they worked together in the same office in Edwardsville, and labored together afterwards in the same noble cause, but especially because they thought and felt in sympathy, and thought and felt unknown to the politicians around them, if not to each other, while both were employed in the mechanical labor of the printing offices in St. louis. I do not know that the pen – or types – were need by Mr. Warren to attack slavery in the St. Louis papers, but Churchill, while a journeyman printer, having with some hesitation on the part of Mr. Charless, obtained leave, wrote and published in the columns of the paper on which he worked, a series of articles which caused no small stir in the public mind. He took the character of “A farmer of St. Charles County,” and in a style purposely plain, presented argument in favor of excluding slavery by the Constitution about to be adopted so strong and so clear as to startle the readers and alarm the advocates of slavery. No less than three of the ablest lawyers in Missouri were called out by them. These, if I was not misinformed, were Judge Beverly Tucker, Henry S. Goyer, Esq., and Colonel Thomas H. Benton. It was acknowledged that whoever the writer was, for he was a myth, he held a powerful pen. It was, I believe, not until he had left St. Louis and was quietly at work on the Edwardsville Spectator that the discovery of the authorship was made. And there was some chagrin evinced by one at least of his doughty opponents, when it was known that they had been put to their mettle by a journeyman printer, as if this were a singular fact.

Mr. Churchill has rendered important service to the county and State since then, which ought to be known, but which probably will not be to the present generation, though he still lives in the county and is able to wield a vigorous pen. I was amused, on looking at the circular from the Historical Society requesting these reminiscences, to see the name of George Churchill occupying a prominent place among the signatures. Of all men living, I know not one who could tell so much of the early history of the county or State, and tell it so well. I hope he was one of those to whom the circular was sent, and that he will respond to it as fully and publicly as I have done, and am doing. Let him remember the pious quotation of a clerical member of the Senate in those days – “As the scripter says, ‘The bird that can sing and won’t sing must be made to sing.’”

I must mention one fact before I leave him (Mr. Churchill) to his seclusion. While he was a member of the Legislature – where I heard him classed as second (if to any) only to one, Thomas Mather – he prepared and procured the passage of the best and only good road law the State ever had. Instead of a poll tax as the present law is, throwing the burden of road mending on the poor, it was a tax on the property and persons that would be benefitted by the good roads. There was a marked improvement in the roads, while this law was in force, and the tax on the community, and especially on the poor laborer, was much lighter than before (or since). But it was an innovation, and would not be tolerated. Its unfortunate author had done too good a thing, and could not be re-elected, and the next session saw it repealed and the old poll tax revived. Governor Edwards laughingly remarked to me one day of the road law, that he had no road tax to pay, while a farmer in ____ate circumstances with several sons above eighteen was taxed fifteen or twenty dollars a year. So it is now. I use the road every day, and am not taxed. My neighbor has not a wheel nor the means to have one, and is taxed for himself and son some four to six days work. Had not Mr. Churchill better be put in again?

Some things in this and the preceding number were mentioned more fully in a series of papers published in the Alton Courier in 1858, on the history of the Convention struggle, entitled “the Conflict of the Century.” But I apprehend not many of the present vendors will remember, if they have seen, those articles. Besides they are told now in relation to the county history, as they were included in the great moral struggle of the State.

It is but a short time since I saw in the papers the announcement of the death of my old and valued friend, Hopper Warren. It fell sadly on my heart. A few years ago, a correspondence growing out of my Convention narrative revived the acquaintance, after long years and many of ignorance of each other’s whereabouts, and awakened afresh the strong sympathetic regard which I had felt for the good, honest, faithful man nearly half a century before. Churchill and I are left. Which shall heave a sigh over the other’s grave? No matter, we hope to meet in Heaven.

Notes on Lippincott’s No. 15 by George Churchill
Hooper Warren – In the forepart of the year 1810, while in working the office of the Missouri Gazette, published by Joseph Charless Sr., I became acquainted with a printer named Hooper Warren. He was a native of New Hampshire, and had learned his trade in my native county of Rutland, Vermont (it is a remarkable coincidence that Horace Greeley, also, was born in New Hampshire, and learned his trade in the same county of Rutland, though in a different village). Mr. Warren showed me a prospectus, which he had just issued, of a paper to be called the “Edwardsville Spectator.” Finding that he upheld what I considered correct principles, and desiring to see a good paper flourishing in the county which I had selected for my permanent home, I was easily induced to assist in giving a start to the Spectator. The first number was issued May 29, 1819, and the paper proved a success. Mr. Warren never faltered in his attachment to the cause of universal freedom. He was the author – not always the writer – of his editorials, for some of them flowed immediately from his brain to his composing stick. A very correct outline of the biography of Mr. Warren appeared in the Alton Telegraph of September 9, 1864, copied from the Chicago Tribune. It should be known that the world is indebted to the worthy Secretary of the Chicago Historical Society for the facts contained in that article. Says the Secretary in a letter to me, “Although our lamented fellow citizen and worthy friend has been for some years my correspondent, I had never the privilege of seeing him, until about the 9th or 10th of this last August, when he visited our rooms a few times. His last call was on the 12th, when I found him feeble, complaining of diarrhea, which obliged him, as he thought, prematurely to close his visit at Chicago. I seized the opportunity, fearing it might be the last, to obtain in writing some memoranda of his life and labors, &c. I little thought, however, my fears would so soon be verified. It seemed he went only to Mendots, where he breathed his last.” He died on august 22, 1864.

The Edwardsville Spectator was the main organ of the Anti-convention party in the campaign of 1823-24. The Illinois Intelligencer came over to the side of freedom about three months before the election of 1824, and the Illinois Gazette, conducted by Henry Eddy, though in favor of a Convention, had the liberality to publish Morris Birkheck’s “Letters of Jonathan Freeman,” in opposition to the Convention. At the election of 1824, Madison County gave 563 votes against the Convention, and 351 votes for it. Majority, 212. Whole vote, 914. The whole State gave 6,640 votes against Convention, and 4,972 for a Convention. Majority, 1,668. Whole number of votes, 11,612.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 16
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, December 16, 1864
Marine settlement was an institution of the early day. In the year 1817, I suppose – the same year that I came – Rowland P. Allen, father of Dr. G. T. Allen, came out as a pioneer to explore for himself and some sea-faring friends, with a view to settlement in the West. He made choice of the prairie, or point or bay of the prairie, lying between Silver Creek and the middle fork, or Peck’s branch, of Silver Creek. It was certainly a well-chosen spot. In the next year, a colony, so it might be called, of those who had long traversed the ocean, settled on this prairie. Captain Curtiss Blakeman, Captain George C. Allen, with one or two others of the same vocation, and the original discover, R. P. Allen, settled in the lower part; and the following year, Captain James Breath came out in company with another group, yet in connection with the former, and pitched his tent for a few years on Silver Creek, in the same prairie, some eight or ten miles north of them, and then removed to the immediate neighborhood of his brother Mariners. And so, the place took the name of Marine Settlement. Colonel John Shinn, whom I had known in Philadelphia as a practical manufacturing chemist doing an extensive business, bought a farm in the same place, and afterwards William C. Wiggins, getting tired of keeping tavern in Edwardsville, built and dwelt in the prairie a little while, until the long and well-known enterprise started by his brother, Samuel Wiggins, and called Wiggins’ Ferry, called him to busy life again. Mr. D. Ground (father of the present Samuel Ground) and Jacob Balster were well known, early settlers also, and Isaac Ferguson had preceded them all. The settlement soon became widely known as an intelligent, enterprising and prosperous society, and many of the comforts and even refinements of social life were enjoyed in advance of most others.

Captain Blakeman was early elected to the Legislature, and always enjoyed the confidence and respect of the people at home and abroad. He had, as he told me, “crossed the line” (the equator) forty-four times, having made eleven voyages to China. His house – ever open to hospitality – and several articles of furniture, both curious and useful, and I may add, ornamental – showed the neat handiwork of the artisans of the celestial empire [China]. It was an entertainment of no trifling character to hear the intelligent “old salt” tell of his experiences and the sights he had seen during more than a quarter century of busy sailing from hemisphere to hemisphere. His memory, as well as his name, still lives.

Captain George C. Allen was another specimen of the retired seaman. His genial spirit and manners strongly attracted people to his house, and the ever-cheerful and abundant hospitality and conversation of his congenial wife made it a resort for a large circle of old and of new-made friends. I believe he was always a special favorite, as I know his wife was. The last several years of his life were spent alone – at least in lonely widowhood – and he showed it. But it is satisfying to the heart of friendship to know that they were spent in the family of his worthy daughter and son-in-law, ever watchful of his comfort, and in the enjoyment of a bright and joyous hope of better things beyond the grave.

It is fit that their long-time friend and fellow seaman, Captain James Breath, should be spoken of in this connection, for though not at first in the immediate neighborhood, the friendly association was kept up – ten miles was not far off in those days – and many years did not elapse before he was found along side of them. Of him I might be tempted to speak at length, for he was not only a particular friend, but we were affiliated by marriage, and our children closely allied by blood. But I will forbear, and only talk of him or of his congenial neighbors. Captain Breath had an advantage of his friends in having received a liberal education, though I have forgotten what college was his alma mater, for he was not apt to allude much to it, and I consequently had it not impressed on my mind. His nautical neighbors used to say of him that he was as good a seaman and commander as sailed out of New York harbor, and that his one eye (he had but one) saw everything, and everything was kept shipshape. He had been injured by a fit of sickness soon after his arrival in the West, so that his under jaw was stiffened, and his utterance greatly impeded. In consequence of this, he could speak but a few words at a time, and he acquired the habit of giving immense emphasis to his words. I heard a gentleman say once that he had never dreamed that so much could be said in so few words. His house, like that of his brother sailors, was the home of hospitality. He had a high sense of honor and integrity, and for a number of his later years was a consistent and humble Christian. His death was sudden – instant – but we felt that all was ready. His wife, a beloved sister-in-law, survived him some years, and then followed him to the presence of her long-loved Savior.

Rowland P. Allen, the founder of Marine Settlement, though not a sailor, cannot be omitted in this connection. He brought them together, dwelt in the midst of them, was related to one of the families, and might be said almost to have been at once the connecting rod and the vivifying spirit of the whole. And he survived them all. His last days were spent in the indulgence of a cheerful hope, with his only son, and he was not unknown to the present generation in Madison County. I love to think of him as a friend and brother, gone not long before me to the better land.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 17
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, December 16, 1864
There was a time when Gaius Paddock and his farm were considered an institution of our county, and I suppose he is remembered by all the old settlers and many of our juniors still. His residence, seven miles north of Edwardsville, was as well known to travelers to the Sangamo or Mauvais terre countries – so the districts now comprising Sangamo, Morgan, and the whole group of counties around them were then called – as Edwardsville itself. It became a favorite stopping place very early, and continued to be so as long as I frequented the road. He was a Revolutionary soldier, and drew a pension, for which I, as clerk of Vanzant and Rockwell drew up his papers. When I came to St. Louis early in 1818, Mrs. Paddock kept the boarding house, and all the bachelor lawyers and other big men boarded there, while the old gentleman was at the farm, preparing it for the residence of the family. So it continued several years, some of the daughters (perhaps all by turns) living with the father and some with the mother, thus working into each other’s hands, and at length the family came together, a new frame house was built, and the establishment carried on by as efficient a household as is often found. It was, and is, a charming place, and was a resort for those who loved to associate with intelligent, energetic women, mother, and daughters, and see the results of their economical and tasteful labors.

I knew a bachelor in those days who had a farm adjacent. He did not remain a bachelor, but took one of those daughters to wife, and lived and prospered there, but lives no longer. Gershom Flagg was well known, and even distinguished as an intelligent, prosperous, but unambitious farmer, and it was always rather a mystery why he was not known in the councils of our State, if not our nation. That he was competent to fill a respectable and even a high station was well known, and there were those who doubted whether his brother, then Secretary of State in New York, possessed any more solid qualifications. I have had some suspicion that the declination by his son of the nomination at the recent election tended somewhat to explain. Is the disinclination to office hereditary?

There was another son-in-law of Mr. Paddock’s living near there in those days – Pascal P. Enos, Eq. He was a lawyer, but did not, so far as I know, practice in our courts. Perhaps it was owing to his deafness, which of course would be much in the way of success. When J. Q. Adams was elected President, he was appointed Register of the Land Office at Springfield – a confessedly good appointment. He did not live many years afterwards, but his family occupies a position there among the most respectable of the early inhabitants of the now State capitol.

I should mention John Estabrook as another of those whose early and long residence in that neighborhood helped to give it character. In the evening of his days, he has retired from the active life of the farmer to the beautiful village of Bunker Hill, where I had the pleasure to spend a most agreeable hour a few years since, in lively old times chat with him and his estimable companion.

I have spoken of Robert Collet in a former number as having purchased the part of Mr. Seely in the village and mills of Milton. In 1820, he sold out his store, and made a farm a mile or two west of Mr. Estabrook’s, which he stocked with choice fruit trees from New Jersey. Both he and his wife loved to indulge in an elegant and refined taste, and his house and surroundings soon showed the results in a superabundance of fine shrubbery out of doors, and (for those days) gentility within. Formed for society, I doubt it either Mr. and Mrs. Collet could long enjoy the seclusions of their place, beautiful as it was, and my impression is that they left it in a few years and died in St. Louis, where their sons now reside. However, there are those who can correct this, if in error. Mr. Collet’s mother, a grand old lady, resided with them. She was a native of the Isle of Man, and as she informed me, a descendant of that Edward Christian (or his brother), who was a prominent character in one of Scott’s novels.

In those days there came one to the county who figured much more largely, at least in political life. Emanuel J. West had in his youth gone out to the island of Tenneriffe, where he became a clerk to a wise merchant, and after the death of his employer, married his widow. He was a smart, shrewd man, of elegant address and uncommonly pleasing manners, and no wonder he won the affections of the amiable Spanish widow, for he easily attracted people to him in this region. He purchased the farm of Thomas Rattan near Mr. Collet’s which he called Glorietta, and settled on it. I suppose the place is well known now, on the new road (new, that is, about twenty years ago), but as that road is on the north side of the house, and when he purchased it in the early day, when I knew it, was on the south front. I cannot say that I recognize it at all. In after years, Mr. West was elected to the Legislature, became prominent and active as an advocate of the convention, and finally was appointed ambassador to, I forget what South American Government, for which he was supposed to be peculiarly qualified, speaking the Spanish language as well as his own. He died, however, on the passage to his embassy. I believe some of his descendants and of his wife still reside in the county.

Have I mentioned Rattan’s prairie before? It is the lower point of what is now called (I think) Dorsey’s prairie. Among the early settlers were Richard Rattan, Thomas Rattan, William Montgomery, Rev. William Jones, Jesse Starkey, and others, perhaps, whom I do not call to mind.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 18
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, December 23, 1864
It seems a natural transition – my readers may not see it as I do – from these chief names of Marine Settlement to one who never figured largely in our county, but had an important influence on my own life.

At the close of 1819, a group of families, all connected together, yet independent, arrived at Edwardsville from the city of New York. They were the families of Abraham Leggett; his son, Abraham A. Leggett; and his four sons-in-law, Captain Breath (already mentioned), Thomas Slocum, Cornelius W. Oakley, and Edwin E. Weed. They first stopped in Edwardsville, and there purchased or settled farms on the east side of Silver Creek, on the line of what was afterwards the road from Edwardsville to Hillsborough, when the latter place began to be. Already, however, travelers from Edwardsville passed by or through these farms in going to McCord’s settlement in Bond County, and to some settlement higher up on Shoal Creek. It must have been in February 1820, that Dennis Rockwell and myself passed this neighborhood and lodged on Shoal Creek at Rev. Jesse Townsend’s, about eight miles southwest of where Hillsborough was subsequently located. The next morning we called at a gregarious bachelor establishment, of which John Tillson and Benjamin Shurtleff were chief proprietors, and then passing on eastward to the prairie, lost ourselves or our way, and after wandering all day, bivouacked [camped] on the banks of a small stream, an affluent of the Kaskaskia, and did not reach Vandalia, then our destination, the next day. We were glad when, in the middle of the afternoon, we found a cabin where we could get some fried bacon, corn bread, coffee, and a bed – of all which we thankfully partook before we essayed the remaining twelve miles. It was the first house we saw from the morning before. I wonder how that prairie, east of Hillsborough, would look to us now. But the reader will think I have lost my way again. I will return to the families above mentioned.

Of Captain Breath, I have already spoken in another connection. Of the remainder, Mrs. Weed, Mr. Leggett’s youngest married daughter, died in Edwardsville before they could get to the farm selected, and Mr. Weed very soon returned to New York. Mr. Oakley, the husband of another daughter, did not, I believe, come out at all. Having got into business, he sent for his wife and children, who returned to him. All this was before I became acquainted with the family. Abraham A. Leggett, the son, and Thomas Slocum, the remaining son-in-law, settled on their farms on Silver Creek, but soon got tired of the arrangement and followed the others on the back track. The old folks were thus left alone by their married children, except their oldest, and did not remove to their farm at all, but remained in Edwardsville until the Spring of 1822, when they also returned to New York.

But of Mr. Leggett, I have somewhat more to say. He was a Revolutionary soldier, and for his courage and coolness at the retreat of our troops from Long Island, received a commission, and was at the close of the war ranked as Captain. He was a hearty, hale old man, and I believe had, with one exception, always been so. Being industrious, skillful and energetic, was prosperous as a blacksmith, and besides his own, was employed by Government to superintend its shops in the city of New York. He had thus acquired a handsome competency, when by some sudden reverse he lost all, and was induced to try the West with a view to farming. He carried on a little shop while here, but did not extend it.

In the Spring, or rather Winter of 1821, he undertook a journey with his youngest son (for he had a son and daughter still unmarried, and hardly arrived at maturity), to see the Mauvais terre country, which had just come into notice, especially the famous Diamond Grove, that was supposed to shine as a gem of the prairies, and in the neighborhood of which Thomas G. Hawley had made the first farm and plowed the first furrow the preceding season. Mr. Leggett and his son went in a wagon, and having explored the country as designed, started on their return to Edwardsville. I do not know what it was that induced them, but they struck out for a new, and I believe untraveled route, which led them across the waters of Apple Creek and the Macoupins. A snow storm set in, the clouds obscured their sky-marks, and they lost the points of the compass. In consequence, they wandered five days without food or fire, were compelled to leave the wagon, mounted the exhausted horses, and thus riding and walking, dragged their slow way along. At length, they descried a wagon in the distance, and making their way to it, learned their whereabouts, some six or seven miles from Mr. Paddock’s. It was still a weary struggle to traverse the smooth prairie – they had a road now – to the house, which they reached at twilight, and were soon partaking of refreshments, and not long after, occupying a comfortable bed. It is not wonderful that they were both visited by severe sickness during the summer.

I was married to the daughter in the following Autumn, and in the Spring of 1822, as I said, the old folks returned to New York, when Mr. Leggett procured remunerating and appropriate employment from the corporation, and lived to a good old age (89), retaining his active energy and cheerful, genial spirits to the last.

Of his son, it may be proper to say more, though perhaps unnecessary. William Leggett was yet a minor when he came with his parents to Illinois. Talented and ardent, and with strong predilections for literary employments, his young spirit rather chafed under the comparative, and perhaps apparent rather than real, idleness of his days, for it was not easy for him to obtain such employment as was most suitable. At length, by the aid of Governor Edwards, who discovered and appreciated his abilities, he obtained a midshipman’s warrant, and entered the Navy. One long cruise in the Mediterranean was, in the time of peace, sufficient. Resigning, he undertook to conduct a literary periodical, which though marked by both talents and industry, and received with favor, he was compelled for want of the necessary capital to relinquish. He then became an editor, associated with William C. Bryant of the New York Evening Post. It was in this position (in which, owing to a voyage to Europe in pursuit of health, which took Mr. Bryant away for perhaps a year) Mr. Leggett became the responsible editor. He was brought prominently before the public, as the bold advocate of freedom, and the propounder of a broader and nobler democracy than the party had known or was prepared to receive. It is gratifying to know that Mr. Bryant has fully justified by ever maintaining the principles so boldly enunciated by his associate and friend.

The Plaindealer was afterwards established by Leggett for the advocacy of the same great principles, but sickness and death soon put an end to his labors. He died in 1839, having received a mission in Central America, afterwards performed by John L. Stevens. He was admired by multitudes for his powerful vindication of the right and the truth. By me he was beloved as a brother.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 19
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, January 6, 1865
I presume it will not be supposed that we were without sickness in those days, or without physicians. Such a supposition would be wild enough. In fact, the experiences of the first few years of our State history in Madison County, and I believe all the counties, was a pretty severe one. There was in some of the years much, and very sore disease. I think that cases of violent bilious fever of various types – which might be called malignant – were more frequent than since, taking the amount of population into the account.

Of physicians, I have spoken of Doctor Tiffin of St. Mary’s, who afterward removed to Edwardsville and then to St. Louis, and incidentally alluded to Dr. Langworthy of Upper Alton. Dr. Brown also was, as mentioned, a resident in Upper Alton, but was engaged in other business. Our chief physician, the main dependence of the county, was Doctor John Todd. He was thoroughly educated, skillful, attentive, and kind, and I believe was universally relied on as the doctor. He had successively several associates in the practice, some of them good physicians and well liked, but he was the standard. Dr. Bowers, one of them, was a proud Southern man, and boastful. He was, I believe, able professionally, but very loose in his principles. He did not remain. Dr. DeCamp was respected, and perhaps would have been a valuable aid or associate, but he received an appointment as surgeon in the army. I have seen his name among leading surgeons since the commencement of the Rebellion, and think he is still living. But whoever also practiced, and however successful, the public mind depended on Dr. Todd as the leading and ablest practitioner of the healing art. He was not only sympathetic and kind by the bedside, but genial and cheerful to a remarkable degree. His pleasant face shone on the sick one with hope and comfort, as it was want to irradiate and enliven the social circle, especially at his own home. He might have been a man of wealth without changing his field or taking office, if he had been as careful to charge and collect fees as he was indefatigable and attentive in earning them. To their old, old friends, it is at once pleasant and mournful to see Dr. Todd and his life-long companion, worthy and beloved as they ever have been, while laboring under the infirmities of age and ill health, yet surrounded by loving ones at their home in Springfield, and serenely waiting until their change come. The generation extant in Madison County in 1824 and previously must be all gone before Dr. Todd will be forgotten there.

Old settlers remember Joseph Conway, a bachelor, who was long clerk of the circuit court, an amiable and accommodating gentleman, without any remarkable characteristics or history. I do not know to what place he went.

William L. May was a citizen of Edwardsville, who was not then considered remarkable for talents or popular arts. He removed to Springfield, and in future years was elected to Congress, beating Benjamin Mills of Galena, who was a man of talents not only, but superior education and most attractive oratory.

Abraham Prickett was a merchant in Edwardsville, and two of his brothers, one, Isaac, as a merchant there, and one, David, as a lawyer, &c., in Springfield, as well as some of the succeeding generation, kept of the name and remembrance. But the big store was kept by Robert Pogue, who with his brothers, did a large business for a few years, and then left the country. Joshua Atwater was there, and I believe is there yet. I suppose his old age is cheered by a competence of this world’s goods, and a good hope for the next.

I should do wrong to omit a name which in the earliest days of the State of Illinois was well known and highly respected in Madison County. I refer to Josias Randle, who was the Recorder of Deeds, &c., at a time when Madison County reached over a large territory. I believe the business of the office was very great, and yet the incumbent, though plain and frugal in his domestic arrangements, seemed not to have accumulated any considerable wealth. I never saw a more venerable, patriarchal looking man, and his character was correspondent. As a Methodist preacher, without eloquence, he possessed unbounded confidence and respect. Two of his sons, Barton and Richard, have been well known as preachers since. His office was kept at his dwelling on the west side of the ravine that skirts the village on the west. I do not know whether he ever laid off town lots on his hill, but there were several families located there, of whom I remember Nathan Scarritt and Don Alonzo Spaulding. Mr. Scarritt had a brother, Isaac Scarritt, a preacher of more than average ability, but he had lost his wife before my acquaintances with him, and I think did not keep house. He afterwards removed to the North, within a day’s ride of Chicago. Nathan Scarritt sojourned at Edwardsville a year or two, and then removed to the prairie which bears his name [now part of Godfrey]. He had some sons, as well as daughters. I recall two little boys, who used to do errands, had sometimes come to my residence, perhaps my readers have heard of Russell and Isaac Scarritt. I say nothing of younger ones – Jotham, &c. Few men, so unpretentious, have left so favorable and so deep an impression on the public mind as Isaac and Nathan Scarritt on the generation of forty years ago. My Spaulding is still a citizen of the county, both well known and respected.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO, 20
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, January 13, 1865
I think it was in the winter of 1820-21 that I went in company with Major William H. Hopkins (have I spoken of him before? I ought, for he and his family occupied an important position in Edwardsville) to the southern part of the county, and visited a place of business enterprise that even then had begun to attract attention. These were mills – sawmill and flour mill – driven by horses or oxen, a distillery, a store, a tan yard, and a shoemaking shop, all carried on by five brothers, who had come from Litchfield, Connecticut, and were united in the enterprise. I do not know if they had then laid out a village, which they called Unionville, but they did so then or afterwards. At the time of this visit, I only saw one of the brothers, who was at work on a large frame house – large even now – which they were erecting preparatory to the coming of their venerable parents and sisters. The names of these brothers were Augustus, Anson, Michael, William B., and Frederick Collins. A noble band of brothers. While actively and energetically driving their business in the most economical and profitable way, and rapidly accumulating wealth, they were far from being unmindful of the higher interests, social and spiritual, of themselves and those around them. One of their first cares was the erection of a commodious – for those days – and well-arranged place of worship, which also served the purpose of a schoolhouse. Only one of the brothers – Augustus – was then married. In due time, three others became so. William B. Collins married a daughter of Mr. Hortzog of St. Louis, then running a mill in the American Bottom; Michael, a daughter of Captain Blakeman; and Frederick, a daughter of Captain Allen – both of Marine Settlement, and already introduced to the reader.

I said they were growing wealthy. Each attended to a special department, and all worked in unison. It was their aim and boast to have the products of their labor of the best quality. Their whisky was considered first-rate, and their inclined wheel ox mill flour commanded an extra price in eastern markets. Not only had they a store at their own establishment on the Canteen Creek, but opened a depot at St. Louis for their commodities. They obtained a post office, but inasmuch as there was one by the name of Unionville in the State, the Postmaster General changed the name of this, which being accepted by them, thenceforth was known as Collinsville. There they went on and prospered, but, although it will take me beyond, or rather bring me within, the date at which I propose to close my sketches, I must tell of a change that subsequently occurred – a change remarkable as not only involving the entire breaking up of the partnership and scattering the family, but as the result of an idea, a notion, or more properly, a principle.

One of the chief sources of revenue to them, working in, as it did, with all the other branches, particularly the mill, was the distillery. It was planned with a view of making the greatest possible amount of good whisky, with the least possible amount of labor, and I believe it was considered a superior establishment. At that time, no scruples prevailed about it. It was regarded a legitimate business everywhere, except among the very scrupulous Quakers, who always deemed it wrong to do their neighbors wrong, even in the way of business. So, it was carried on with great energy and profit. But in after years – later, as I said, than I intended to bring these articles – there came a doubt on the public mind as to the lawfulness (in a moral point of view) of making or vending that which had no other effect, and no other aim almost, than to injure and destroy domestic peace, public welfare, good morals and manhood, and produce poverty, crime, and wretchedness. On this subject, the Collins brothers – and their father too – agreed with the public, and saw no moral wrong in the business until their eyes were opened by investigation and reflection. It so happened that the doubt was first thundered forth – it may have been whispered before – by the pastor whose teachings they had enjoyed in their Connecticut home, whom they had felt with tears, and who was beginning even then to wake a continent by his eloquence and truth. “The six sermons on Temperance” of Lyman Beecher, which waked the whole Christian people of America, could not fail to elicit the attention of his former parishioners, and followed up by the argument and appeals of Christian friends, were taken into serious consideration, which after much consultation among the partners, and I may add, prayer, resulted in the determination to close the business entirely and forever. I happened to know something of the workings of their mind – the reasons which weighed for and against – and the thoroughness of the work of reform. Several thousand dollars had been recently invested in the buildings and apparatus. So much capital, they argued, to be lost, and so much of their ability to contribute to benevolent enterprise diminished. They were convinced at length that the business was wrong, was unchristian, and should cease, and instead of selling the machinery, as they might have done for a round sum, they totally demolished the building, broke up the generators, took the huge tanks to their dwellings for cisterns, and sold the washtubs to farmers for granaries. I have seen these double bogsheads or tubs at different farm houses, full of wheat or other small grain, while yet there were few or no barns in the country. The partners then separated – Augustus soon died – several went to the Illinois River and established mills, &c., at Naples, and William B. Collins remained alone at Collinsville, carrying on the business – minus the distillery – until his death. His widow and children (except the son in the army) still residing there. All are now gone, including the oldest son, Amos M. Collins of Hartford, the well-known philanthropist and Christian, but the youngest brother, Frederick, who resides in Quincy, and a sister, the widow of him who has been ever known among Presbyterians as the Apostle to the great West, the venerated Salmon Giddings. I hardly know or can conceive a lot or memory more favored, more to be desired than that of the venerable William Collins, to leave such a name and such a progeny as he did to shed blessing on the generations following. And I have introduced the facts above told as a bright example of the power of religious principle applied to the conduct of life. What untold calamity and crime would have been spared to our country – themselves especially – if the holders of slaves could have been so convinced and induced so to act.

Many years ago, I met Dr. Beecher at Northampton, Massachusetts. He talked of this family with deep affection. “It was a sad day,” said he, “when Deacon Collins and family left Litchfield. We thought they were going out of the world. We cried and they cried. It was hard to part. But see how time orders. Deacon Collins makes the first considerable subscription for Illinois College, that set it a going. Edward is made its President, and finally I am called to Laue Seminary!”

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 21
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, January 13, 1865
In speaking of the venerable Josias Randle of Edwardsville, I might with propriety have introduced others of the name and kindred. My readers will, I trust, allow me to ramble, and to forget, as much as may happen, and accept what they can get from my dilapidated memory.

There was a brother of Josias Randle, whose name I cannot recall, but he was the father of Josiah, who lived many years in Scarritt’s Prairie. George, who was at a mill on the Macoupin, and Irvin B. Long, and still well known at Alton. A cousin, Parham Randle, was and continued long to be a very interesting preacher, and Thomas Randle began his ministry (still continued I believe) in those days. In the same neighborhood lived William Otwell, a respectable and estimable man, who at one time was a representative in the State Legislature. His son, Stith Otwell, began to preach about that time and big fair for a life of usefulness, but he was early cut off by death. Matthew Torrance and Joseph Robinson, though well known and highly respected, as was David Robinson, whose residence was on the other side of the Cahokia, were never in public business or otherwise conspicuous. But I may be permitted to remark that these and such like men contributed greatly by their Christian character and good example to preserve and bless the community of which, in the early day, they formed an important and influential part.

South of Edwardsville, in the edge of Ridge Prairie, there were several persons, who for several reasons, ought perhaps to be mentioned. William Gillham, a substantial farmer (connected with the Gillhams of the American Bottom, some of whom I have spoken of) had been, I believe, a member of the Territorial Legislature. Adjoining his farm was that of the widow Robinson, whose son, Benniah Robinson, was known as a well-educated man, who, if he had possessed popular talents or chosen to employ the abilities he had to win popular favor, might have occupied stations of trust that would have made him conspicuous. But he seemed to choose a quiet and recluse life, while he remained among us, and some years since went to California or Oregon, I forget which. Robert McKee was a neighbor and good man, but unpretentious. Near him was a man who, however quiet and unambitious, could not be unknown. This was John Barber, a farmer and teacher, whose influence as a religious, able and consistent man, preceded by many years his official character as a preacher of the gospel. His position in this respect was the result many years after this, and not the cause of the high regard in which he was held by the community. A long life of usefulness was given, and he and the satisfaction to his son, John Barber Jr., occupying a prominent position as an uncommonly, able minister of the gospel, who was felt for the few years of his life as a vivifying power in the branch of the church, with which he was connected. The son was soon called home, the father lived long – if indeed he is not yet in the land of the living. Much I loved and honored them both.

It ought, perhaps, to have been mentioned that among and connected with the families of the Leggetts, Breath, &c., were two Irish families, who, however unpretending then, have left their mark upon our State. I speak of David Gillespie and Robert Gordon. They and their wives have been gone many years, but the present generation knows and feels the names they have left behind them.

The survivors of that early day in Edwardsville will remember well, especially the mother of Matthew and Joseph Gillespie. She was an extraordinary woman – strong, athletic, and hardworking. She was held in such estimation by the better class, that according to my recollection, no one was more welcome as a visitor or occasional inmate in the families than Mrs. Gillespie. I know it was so in mine, and my wife considered it a favor to spend a few hours in her company. The reason was, not that she had, or pretended to have any special refinement of manners, but in addition to her good character and deportment, she had a strong, nervous mind, stored, more I thought than any other known by me, with a vast amount of scriptural truth. I never durst encounter her in argument, or hardly attempt to quote scripture to her, for she was more than my match. Her sons, both occupying – one indeed now only in the past – important positions in public life, doubtless received the impress of their mother’s mind, who did not live long enough to see them in the fullness of their prosperity. But the Judge, while occupying his seat on the bench of justice, and filling a large space in the public eye, may, and doubtless does, look back to his noble mother with pride, as well as veneration and love.

While Mathew Gillespie is freshly remembered still, and Joseph Gillespie and Joseph Gordon are happily known, in their several spheres, as powers in the State by the present generation, they belong, in my recollection – though in their youth time – to the past, and hence have a place in these desultory memories.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 22
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, January 20, 1865
I alluded to Major William H. Hopkins, and wish to say something of him, because at the early day, his house was for a season my home, and an important resort for many persons who were more or less conspicuous in our social circle, if not in political life.

Major Hopkins was a native of Orange County, New York, in which county his father was for many years clerk of the Circuit Court. Having married in Cincinnati, Major Hopkins removed to Edwardsville, I believe in 1819. After keeping boarders in the vicinity of the courthouse a while, he removed to a commodious building in the “new town” (as the addition was popularly called), which he had erected for a hotel. His house was for several years the most respectable and well-kept in the region, and was patronized by the elite. It was, indeed, a desirable home for quiet bachelors, and pleasant stopping place for travelers, combining (such is my recollection of it, having been a boarder for a year) the entertainment of the better class of inns with the comforts of a home. The Major, his sprightly, energetic sister, and his interesting and amiable wife, seemed peculiarly qualified and calculated for the position. I doubt whether their genial influence were or could be so well felt in the more extensive hotel which they afterwards kept in St. Louis. And the home-likeness was enhanced by the presence of his venerable parents, General Reuben Hopkins and his excellent and life-long companion. I believe they were revered and beloved by all the inhabitants of the house. There were several of those who hold a place in my memory, no longer among us, at least in these parts.

I believe I mentioned Richard T. McKenney as having preceded me in keeping a store at Milton. He returned from that place to St. Louis before I came to Milton. Afterwards he came to Edwardsville and resided there several years. He was a clerk or teller in the Bank of Edwardsville, and on the resignation of Mr. Seward, of whom I will speak directly, was appointed cashier. He was not only a good accountant, but a most worthy and highly esteemed gentleman. He went to Springfield, and afterwards to St. Louis, where he died early.

Dennis Rockwell was at Edwardsville when I went thither from Milton in the Fall of 1820. He had established a land agency office in connection with a Mr. Van Zandt of Washington City, by the firm name of Van Zandt & Rockwell. There was considerable business done in that line in those years, and when I had sufficiently recovered my health, which at the death of my second wife, and as the result of long watching, had broken down, Mr. Rockwell employed me as an assistant. Few men have won more friends or retained them longer than Mr. Rockwell. As a business man, he was much more than ordinarily expert and correct. He not only wrote a very neat hand, but wrote it with a rapidity not excelled by those whose manuscript is hardly legible. Removing, with his father-in-law, Mr. Austin, to the Mauvaisterra country, he became one of the first citizens of Jacksonville and of Morgan County, and was appointed by Judge Lockwood, who knew his competency, clerk of the Circuit Court. In this office, and that of Postmaster, he spent many years to the satisfaction of those who had business with either office. Never, I think, was eminent ability and urbanity more beautifully united. It is pleasant to know that, although he will never probably see these lines, he is still in the land of the living, and enjoying a serene life-evening, in the place ever most dear to him – the home.

Another interesting reminiscence of the Hopkins House is Chester Ashley. He came from the East – I do not remember the State – and engaged in the practice of law. He was a man of talents, educated and well read in the law. Moreover, he was a man of elegant manners, frank, genial, and sociable, and seemed well situated to attain at once to popularity and eminence. I think he had a high sense of honor and rectitude of character. His health failed, and after recovering, he married and removed to Little Rock, Arkansas. I was not surprised when he was elected to the Senate of the United States, from that State, but rather wondered that his political advancement did not occur sooner. In the pleasant recollections of that House, the persons of Mr. Ashley, his amiable wife, and her lovely sister (relatives of the Hopkins family) constitute an important element. His career and death are known as part of the Nation’s history.

Alexander Miller is not to be forgotten by me as long as memory retains its hold. He was not only one of those who formed the pleasant circle at Hopkins,’ but an endeared friend before and after. His father, John Miller, came to Milton in 1810 with a son and two daughters, and built and set up a hat manufactory. His coming was remarkable for one thing – they landed in Milton from a keel boat, directly at the mills, close by the dam – the only instance, I suppose, in which the Wood River was navigated by a keel boat. Mr. Miller, the father, died soon. The son was employed by me as a clerk while I continued in business. The daughters married, and from that time Alexander Miller and myself dwelt together, mostly in my family, until I removed from Edwardsville. In this place he became an assistant in the land office, and then cashier of the Edwardsville branch of the State Bank, whose accounts he settled up for the State Government. After which he was employed by Dr. Edwards in the land office until his last sickness. He died in Dr. Edwards’ house. Mr. Miller was a man of singular rectitude and symmetry of character. In every business undertaken by him, he evinced a clear understanding of it, and most faithfully performed it. No man was more respected and confided in by all, and I may be permitted to add – none was more beloved by me.

Benjamin J. Seward, whose name is introduced above, came to this State (Territory rather) in the Fall of 1817. He preceded me at Shawneetown about a month, but left it immediately so that I did not see him until I met him in Edwardsville or Saint Louis. On the erection of the Bank of Edwardsville, he was made its cashier, and Benjamin Stephenson, President. He did not remain long, however, but went, I believe, to St. Louis, and afterwards returned East. He was an active and energetic business man, but my acquaintance with him was of a later date, when he was laboring as the Agent in Illinois for the American Sunday School Union. From this State he was promoted to the General Agency for the Valley of the Mississippi, and stationed at Cincinnati. He was called away from this important post by his brother, William H. Seward (I think at the time he was elected Governor of New York) to attend to his extensive lands and the business connected with them. A few years, however, closed his busy life on earth. Ardent, enthusiastic, and sanguine, he pushed his efforts, in whatever line, to their utmost practicability, and from my own experience, I should judge his friendships were of an equally strong character.

On the road from Edwardsville to Ripley (which was once expected to be a town on Shoal Creek), the family of Mr. Hoxsey lived, and some of them live there still, being known as respectable citizens of the county. It was a common remark among bachelors – and widowers – for many years, that there was always a beautiful daughter there, and so it became the nearest way to several places. At least four gentlemen with whom I am or have been acquainted besides, others, have successively drawn upon the bank of Silver Creek for their best treasure – viz: Beneniah Robinson, Dr. Weir of Edwardsville, Daniel Anderson, and Anderson M. Blackburn. I trust the issues have been equally valuable. There is a cluster of male descendants of the old gentleman – sons of this son Tristram, in Perry County, in which I write, who are worthy to bear and transmit the name. One of them has given his young life to his country.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 23
Source: Alton Telegraph, February 3, 1865
The Methodist and Baptist churches were early planted in Illinois, and there were many preachers of those denominations who labored more or less in Madison County. The Baptists were mostly of the old school, or what we call hyper-Calvinistic class. They were then popularly called Ironside, but since have obtained the nickname Hardshell. I do not approve such nicknames, and only mention them because I do not know, or at least remember, their own distinctive name. About the time I came over from St. Louis to reside in Illinois, only maybe in 1819, John M. Peck, who had come to St. Louis before me, came also to itinerate among them. He was an able man, as many can testify, and urged his new school, missionary, Sunday school, Bible, and Temperance efforts with great zeal, power, and success. But he was not received with cordiality by the brethren of the old churches. They considered him an innovator, and after a few years declared non-fellowship with him. I shall have more to say of him hereafter. Of the good brethren of the old side, I need not add any more.

The Methodist Church furnished many specimens of able ministry and devotion to the work. The principal resort – or meeting place – in Madison County, so far as I recollect, was not in Edwardsville, but some two miles westward, where they had a meeting house and camping ground called Ebenezer. Besides these already mentioned (who were with one exception local preachers), the most conspicuous, or at least the best remembered by me, were John Dew and Samuel H. Thompson. These were noble men. Mr. Dew was a man of unusual intellectual power. Not very eloquent, or at least oratorical, his strong arguments and vigorous appeals – to the judgment rather than the parsions – were felt, especially by thinkers. His personal character had great weight. He was believed to be all he pretended. Samuel H. Thompson was a different style of man. His intellectual power could not be esteemed equal – not do I suppose his mind was so well stored with study, nor do I remember any instances of remarkable eloquence or oratory, yet he could command an audience and produce more effect upon the public mind than Mr. Dew, or any other of the men of his day. He was frequently impassioned, but this did not seem to be the secret of his power. I was led to attribute it to his strong common sense, combined with a knowledge of mankind, and warm affections. Governor Edwards said of him that he was the most powerful man with the people he knew, and if he had made politics his business, would be wonderfully successful. But he was devoted to higher work, and though he allowed himself in after years to be used as a candidate for the office of Lieutenant Governor, he abstained from personal effort, and it was thought, lost his election by it. He, however, thought he did better in laboring without remission to save souls. He is in a condition to judge now, looking on both worlds of the wisdom of his choice.

Of Presbyterians, in those days there were few, if we except the Cumberland Presbyterians, who were active, efficient, and successful. I have mentioned the John Burbers, father and son, as, though not the first as ministers, among the most efficient laborers of them.

In 1819, two ministers came into Illinois as Presbyterian missionaries. Their names were _____ Lowe and _____ Graham (I have not their Christian names), and were educated at Princeton. As their field included Illinois and Missouri, and their time a year or less, we, of course, saw but little of them. Perhaps the same year, or the next, Nicholas Patterson passed through part of the county, and then disappeared. The next I remember were Edward Hollister and Daniel Gould. They were here in 1821. Mr. Gould taught school in Edwardsville six months, while Mr. Hollister itinerated mostly, I believe, in Missouri, occasionally visiting Edwardsville. The people of this village were so well pleased with Mr. Hollister, that they invited him to return and settle. But the way was not open, and they were disappointed. After laboring some years in the South, he came to Illinois again, perhaps in 1834. He now resides in Griggsville, I believe, but your Mayor can tell. Mr. Gould went to North Carolina, married, and died.

Subsequently, I think in 1822, two other missionaries came from New England – Messrs. Orin Carlin and I. N. Sprague. They labored mostly in Madison and adjacent counties, and their influence was consequently more felt among us. There was another missionary or two about this time, whose name or names I cannot now recall, though with one of them, at least, who came from Princeton (was his name Williamson?) I was about as well acquainted as with any of those early missionaries. I remember him as a devoted and devotional young man, and an impressive preacher. He settled in New Jersey, as in after years did Mr. Sprague, who is there now.

Before all these, the Reverend Salmon Giddings, who arrived in St. Louis in 1816 or early in 1817, came over occasionally and preached. It was he who formed the churches of Edwardsville and Collinsville – the first of the denomination in Madison County.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 24
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, February 17, 1865
It remains that I tell what I can of the Convention struggle of 1823-4. By the Constitution adopted on assuming the position of a State, Illinois had declared herself a free State, and we fondly deemed the matter settled. But we had hardly entered upon the new responsibilities of sovereignty, before the nation was agitated afresh by this subject of slavery. Missouri having as a territory held slaves – whether in accordance with the treaty of purchase has been latterly doubted – on offering herself to the United States as one of them, insisted on entering with the fell system of slavery fastened and fixed upon her. In vain was every effort to convince her of its danger or its sin. Her great men were determined, and so fixed were they in the determination to be a slave State, that they bound the curse upon her by bands of iron, never to be broken. And the slave-power of the Union, seizing the opportunity to spread the system, rallied round her, and by threats of disunion and violence, obtained their end so fas as to admit her with her chosen calamity, by yielding so far as to provide that it should be the last slave State north of the Maryland line. That in this unhappy compromise, bearing in it the seeds of the present rebellion, they were deceptions, intending to break the compact on the first favorable opportunity, subsequent events have amply proved. But they triumphed. They laid the foundation of a great slave State, and laid it so securely – as they hoped – it could never be shaken, and that it would be a point d’appue from which the citadel of freedom might be successfully assailed. But “the triumphing of the wicked is short.” The young giant has snapped the chains. Sampson has awaked from his sleep on the lap of his Delilah, and burst the new cords with which she supposed she had effectually bound him. How glorious is free Missouri! Welcome – a thousand welcomes – to the fraternity of free sovereign States!

But Illinois had other reason than sympathy with her younger sister for sorrow at this result. The slave power was encouraged. It had won a victory. The mighty Mississippi would on one side be colored by the dark blood of the slave, even up to the mouth of the Des Moines. It had conquered the spirit of freedom by compromise. It had wrung the admission of its right to live beyond its original boundaries. Now let the principle be established that Freedom and not Slavery is limited within certain bounds. Let us leap across the Great River, raise the black standard in the young State which, though it had the impudence to exclude slavery, yet is known to certain many who look back to the flesh pots of Egypt with longing eyes. Thus shall the entire breadth of the river, almost throughout its whole length, be tinged with the same dark blood, and the ears of the despot be regaled by the melancholy mirth, the sad, hopeless song of the slave.

There was an enterprise worthy of the efforts of the arch enemy who delights in the misery, and more in the wickedness of man. To poison and wear out the fertile prairies of Illinois by the sure process of deterioration always the result of enforced and therefore superficial tilth, to confer them with myriads of wretched human beings, who should have no rights, no homes, no wives or husbands, no children, no power to resist outrage, no chastity or claims of right to protect it, no hope, no Bible; and yet with living souls, accountable to God, and with other myriads whose wont and basest passions should be cherished and fostered by the consciousness and exercise of irresponsible despotic power! Oh, how the malignant field rejoiced and gloried in the anticipated triumph! And there were these all over the land who willingly lent themselves to the accomplishment of his fell purpose. Many of them indeed were blindfolded by him before they could be led captive by him at his pleasure. They were made to believe that it might be in accordance with the Divine will. He had permitted slavery. He had some wise purpose in it. It could not, therefore, be wrong in us to fulfill His purpose. Slavery existed in the time of the Savior, and he did not preach against it, nor did his servants, the Apostles, at least in direct terms. Paul exhorted slaves to be obedient – therefore masters might enforce obedience. Moses recognized slavery, and the patriarchs were slaveholders – therefore we may. Nay, the abominable, slanderous He was believed and often repeated, that the young relative or protégé of the good Philemon, who in sowing his wild oats had wandered off from his good home and protector, and afterwards repented his wicked wandering and by the advice of Paul, the instrument of his conversion, who knew him and Philemon, determined to return like the prodigal, who, when he returned, bore the credentials of a minister of the gospel, and in company with others, a special messenger of the church to sister churches – that he was a thief and runaway slave. Nay more! That Paul, in sending Onesimus on this mission, or approving the action of the church in doing it, merely meant to return a fugitive slave to his master! And all this tissue of falsehood and absurdity, not supported by a word of proof, but inconsistent with the whole tenor of Paul’s beautiful letter to Philemon, was received by intelligent and honest men, and argued by learned commentators, in the interest of slavery. Such indeed was the blinding influence of slavery – sin always blinds – that, as I happen to know by frequent experience, a denial that the word of God ever sanctions slavery was considered equivalent to a denial of the Bible. The time has come when anti-slavery is not heresy, and the time is fast approaching in which it will be deemed amazing that it was even thought that the recognition of an existing fact constituted approval, that a code limiting an existing system both in extent and duration – and, in its utmost severity commuting the death penalty of criminals to imprisonment for life – was made for the purpose of giving divine sanction and perpetuity to the oppression of the innocent.

Such were some of the delusions under which many good people defended or apologized for the enormous wrong. But there were others, prominent, active, leading men, who had not the poor apology of delusion. They cared not for the wrongs and sufferings of slaves – they hoped to make money. Some of them had come from slavedom poor, ignorant, oppressed, ground down by the proud lords of large domains and gangs of negroes; and, rescued from poverty and contempt by the enjoyment of equal rights, had accumulated wealth enough to awake ambition, and now longed and sought to become the lord and exercise the authority of the master. What did they care who was harmed so they were benefitted? I was once applied to by an acquaintance to know if a friend of mine would take charge of a liquor shop at a good salary. I not only promptly replied no, but expostulated on the iniquity of the thing and the great evil which would be done by such an establishment. He rejoined that “he did not care; his object was to make money.” So was it with many, if not most of the leaders in the effort to enslave Illinois. That man died a poor wretch. So slavery is ruining its advocates.

Coming down to the time of our great struggle for freedom, I have been led to moralize somewhat on entering upon it. My readers must bear with me. The anxieties, the conflicts, the hopes, the fears, the fond expectations, the disappointments of half a century have not tended to produce indifference. The old soldier’s heart will quiver as he rides over the field of blood, thought it may be of victory.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 25
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, February 17, 1865
There are several persons, more or less, conspicuous in the early days, whom I have neglected hitherto to introduce, not intentionally, but from a vagrant memory. Let me bring them in now, and then proceed to the closing chapters of my long-winded sketches.

Among these, Nathaniel Buckmaster occupied the public mind as much and as long as almost anyone. He was here probably before I became a citizen of the county. At least my first recollections of Edwardsville include two brick houses which he had put up – one for James Mason, in the rear of the old courthouse square, and one for Governor Edwards on the corner of the public square in the new town. Once a selected candidate for the Legislature, he next turned his attention to the Sheriffalty, not only with a success, but with a success unparalleled by any other man. How often he was elected, and how long he held the office I cannot tell, but it became a question whether he had not secured a life ______ in it. And I am not sure, but it was allowing himself to work another position instead of the sheriffalty that finally left him out. Although his intellectual powers were not great, though respectable and practical, and his education quite limited, Colonel Buckmaster has certainly great influence with the people, or he could not have had such remarkable and long continued success. He was shrewd, if not able, and after his first effort and failure, never committed himself through the press, relying on personal intercourse with the voters. He obtained wealth, and I am not aware that the public complained or had any cause to complain of unfair means or oppression on his part. His descendants deservedly occupy positions of respectability and influence.

George Barnsback and Jacob Gonterman, living in or near the edge of Ridge Prairie, southerly from Edwardsville, were respectable and respected farmers. The latter, I believe, never occupied a public position, but by his well-known character and descendants has left an excellent reputation. Mr. Barnsback was not much in public either, yet was known as a man of more than ordinary intelligence and character. He was an educated German gentleman, choosing, I believe, to live a retired life on his farm in the edge of the woods. He had in those days a nephew, whom I recall as a bright, good looking, intelligent, young German, just learning to speak our language. He married a daughter of Mr. Gonterman, and settled in the county. The people of Madison County know him as a man of business, and public man, of the right character, by the name of Julius Louis Barnsback, now, if I forget not, a representative of the county in the Legislature.

There was a family living in Edwardsville awhile, whose name I have endeavored in vain to recall. They lived in a house (the only one at that time) nearly midway between the old town and the new – I speak now of the built portions. Perhaps it may be remembered as an old frame house, nearly opposite where the Catholic Church was afterwards built. I introduce them now for the reason that Charles Slade married one of this family. Mr. Slade was a public man, and more so, perhaps, than I can now tell. He went out eastwardly and laid off a town on the Kaskaskia River, where the Vergennes Road crossed it, which he called Carlyle. He was particular about the orthography of this name, wishing to distinguish it from the Carlisles in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, because it was a family name. He told me it was the name of his grandmother. The name had not then become famous as since. Mr. Slade was an active, gentlemanly and handsome young man, which is nearly all that I knew of him personally. But he was afterwards elected to Congress, and it now seems like a dream or memory glimmering that he had a diplomatic appointment. Mr. Churchill can set this – and a hundred other things – right, if he chooses.

I cannot recollect the date of the advent to Edwardsville of John Adams, but it must have been somewhere in those days. He set up a carding machine and fulling mill – at one time essaying the manufacture of woolen cloth. It appears to me that the latter business did not succeed on account of the nature of the water, but he carried on the carding, and was the first to introduce in the county, and so far as I know in the State, at least on the West side, the manufacture of castor oil. In this he did an extensive business, giving quite an impetus to industrial pursuits in Edwardsville, and was the means of causing the manufacture to be much enlarged in the State and in the neighboring city of St. Louis. Mr. Adams was a modest, unpretending man, very energetic in business, well known for integrity and trustworthiness, and much beloved for his amiable and excellent deportment in domestic and social life. He was at one time Sheriff of the county.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 26
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, February 24, 1865
[This article was hard to read, and has some omissions.]
I am hardly prepared for the task which I have imposed on myself. Having seen by the papers that an old friend – William H. Brown, Esq., of Chicago – had prepared and delivered an address before the Chicago Historical Society, on the history of the Convention struggle of 1823-4. I hoped to obtain a copy before it should become necessary to enter upon it. Whether it is published or not, I have received no copy, and must either depend again on my defective memory, or wait in the hope of still receiving it.

A few years ago, I attempted to give a brief history or sketch of the history of the struggle to introduce slavery in Illinois. It was published in the Alton Courier, and afterwards republished in the Egyptian Republic at Centralia, and again (in 1860) in the Henry Weekly Courier at Henry, Marshall County, under the title of The Conflict of the Century. This title was chosen, not as intending to intimate that that “conflict” was fought only in Illinois, but simply as an account of one campaign of the great struggle between Freedom and Slavery: between Light and Darkness, which has been going on through all this century so fiercely; and which was at the time of writing, about to culminate in the present hideous rebellion. Although it is not my plan to copy the account thus alluded to, nor even to revise it for the present notes, I expect to make use of it, and whatever other means I may have at command, to make my present statements correct and reliable.

It has been already hinted that the success of slaveholders in their efforts to plant the institution in Missouri emboldened them to try again, and that circumstances was supposed to be favorable for a campaign in Illinois. Accordingly, the subject was not allowed to sleep. The fact that the anti-slavery article in our Constitution had been adopted only after opposition and discussion, perhaps gave encouragement for an effort to tear out what we had deemed the cornerstone of our Temple of Liberty. I may be permitted to advert to my former account in order to set this matter of the original State constitution more clearly before the reader, and perhaps more correctly than I had the means to do then. The following paragraph is copied from that account:

“when in 1818, Illinois adopted a Constitution and became a sovereign State, the subject of slavery, it is believed, formed not a very prominent element in the discussions of the occasion. The convention was not unanimous in the passage of the article forbidding slavery or involuntary servitude except in punishment for crime, but the Ordinance of 1787 was too plainly applicable, and too stringent to allow any hope of success in an attempt to fasten slavery upon the infant giant. So, the State was born free.”

A valuable and interesting letter, which I received from the venerable ex-Governor, Edward Coles, a few years since, enables me to give a more specific representation of the facts on this point. He says:

“You are mistaken in supposing the subject of slavery had not formed a prominent topic in the political discussions of Illinois previous to it becoming a State. On the contrary, in a very early period in the settlement of Illinois, the question was warmly agitated by ______ advocates and opponents of slavery. This state of things was increased by the ordinary _____ ____ made the abode of the ___ _____ ____, in the relation of masters and slaves, ______ its first settlement by Christians by ____, when slavery was prohibited by law, but tolerated by custom, aided by ignorance. Before the separation of Illinois from Indiana, Congress was petitioned by the Territory Legislature to repeal the ordinance of ____. It _____ a petition of this kind that the celebrated John Randolph, as eloquent of a committee of Congress, made his ______ report adverse to their prayer for _____ of the ordinance and the question of slavery. This report was adopted by Congress with little or no opposition. _____ on this and other indi_______ _____ ______ no prospect of Congress repealing the_____ fundamental law (the ordinance, the advocates of slavery had to _____ _____ themselves in retaining in ______ in violation of the ordinance, what was called “French Slaves,” and extending bondage to a limited extent to other negroes, under the denomination of “indentures.”

During the existence of this state of things, the slavery agitation was lulled, but not extinguished, as was seen by its mingling itself so actively but in the election and conduct of the members of the Convention, which made the Constitution in 1818. I am the more conversant with the character of that Convention from having attended it during my first visit to Illinois, and made the acquaintance and learned the opinions, views, and wishes of many of its prominent members.”

Whether this quotation corrects any material error of mine or not, I am happy to have an opportunity to give so valuable, though brief, a statement from Gov. Coles to the public. The venerable writer still lives in Philadelphia, and from his letters, he may be seen by the above specimen, although suffering from physical causes, seems to possess much of the vigor, if not sprightliness of earlier life. I wish he might have strength to fill up the outline of a movement no one knows so well as he.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 27
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, March 3, 1865
In the “Conflict of the Century,” I spoke of the origin of the direct attempt to change the Constitution in the interests of slavery as having been in 1822, though with reservation for errors in memory. I was aware that the Edwardsville Spectator had given warning previously to this, and Mr. Warren seemed to think, not without some reason, I had hardly done him justice by the general statement I had given.

Let me indulge in an explanatory episode. When I began to send the numbers of the Conflict of the Century to the Alton Courier, I requested Mr. Brown, the editor, to forward a copy to each of five or six of my old friends, who were co-laborers in the contest, but have reason to believe it was forgotten, or imperfectly attended to. It was in the hope of obtaining corrections and amendations from those who could make them, but none appeared. There were two men to whom I more especially desired to send them, because from them I could have stronger hope of receiving the much-wished annotations. These were Edward Coles and Hooper Warren, but unfortunately, I knew not their whereabouts. Afterwards, I learned the residence of Mr. Warren, and immediately wrote to inform him of the matter. He expressed anxiety to have the papers, and proposed if I could procure no other, that I should send him my only copy and he would have it again printed. Having access to the office of a paper printed at Henry, he would himself set up the matter, and forward me a number of copies in return. In carrying out this arrangement, Mr. Warren printed the articles in the Henry Weekly Courier, condensing, with my consent, the ten numbers into three, and added a few notes correcting some real and some supposed errors, but otherwise adding very little the information conveyed. In the correspondence between us, Mr. Warren informed me of several things he had written on this and co-relative matters in several newspaper, which I should be rejoiced, but do not hope to see. His account would be of great interest and ought to be put in a publication form and placed before the public. He is now gone, and I fear there is little hope of seeing anything from his able and truthful pen, except those fugitive pieces ____ the _____ papers of the day.

In one, the notes appended by him, Mr. Warren says, in reference to the date 1822:

“Nearly three years previous to the time here mentioned, the Spectator warned the people of Illinois of a plot to call a convention for the purpose of introducing slavery into this State. It did not cease its warnings, not its denunciations of the actors in the plot until it exploded.”

This witness is true, and it was to this fact I alluded in speaking of intimations in the papers on the matter. But I have to acknowledge that an incorrect impression was made by my statement. My memory – thus assisted – sustain Mr. Warren in his assertion of having anticipated and given warning of the open effort. Yet the public were taken by surprise. My remark, in the “conflict” was literally true. “but when this was intimated in the papers, it was vehemently denied as unkind and ungenerous suspicion, entirely without cause.” And I know I am not in error when I say, that some of the friends of Mr. Warren, his co-adjutators in the conflict, thought him premature and probably unjust. They had abundant evidence at length of the correctness of his foresight. As he became better known as an editor, his political friends learned to place more confidence in his _______.

While on the subject of Mr. Warren and his correspondence, I wish to say more about his writings. In answer to the expression of a strong ______ on my part that he would write fully on that convention struggle, he says:

“Three or four years ago, I was requested by Mr. Eastman, editor of the Chicago Magazine, to write for that periodical a history of the Convention Question in this State, and I agreed to comply on the condition that I could procure a file of the Edwardsville Spectator – mine having been lost in Cincinnati. I have not been able to procure another. Mr. Churchill declined to lend his copy. During the Fremont campaign in 1856(?), the same request was made by Dr. Ray, one of the editors of the Chicago Tribune for that paper, which I was obliged to decline for the same reason.”

It seems sad, that Mr. Warren should thus have been compelled to decline a task which he was so well able to perform, by the loss of the file of his own paper. He had better do as I did – write from memory and risk mistakes for others to correct. Mr. Churchill possesses probably the only copy of the Edwardsville Spectator during the six years of Mr. Warren’s editorship now in existence, for the bound copy of Governor Coles, left by him in the hands of Rev. John M. Peck to be presented to the Illinois Historical Society, and which saw in Mr. Peck’s library some years before his death, was unhappily destroyed (I suppose) by fire in the burning of his seminary building. I suggest that Mr. Churchill is the most, if not the only man who can give a full and correct history of events having so vital an influence on the State and such close connection with – or rather forming so important a part of the history of the Slavery conflict in these United States. It is hardly possible that Mr. Brown could give more than the merest outline in the limits of an address delivered at a sitting. But I long to see that address.

But I wish to make some further extracts from Mr. Warren’s letter, to show somewhat of things that he has written. He says:

“Since the publication of Ford’s History, I have on several occasions written articles for the newspapers, concerning the early agitation of the Slavery Question in this State, the most of which was a review in the Chicago Freewest of that part of Ford’s book, which gives an account of the press during the convention period. That article brought forth three numbers from the Rev. J. M. Peck, on the subject of the convention, which was published in the same paper. He was associate editor of the Freewest. These were followed by some editorial ________, which, very much to my regret, ___ __ moral offence, not so much _______ in his own account, as _____ sympathy with Gov. Coles. I have since written and published in the paper printed to _____, a letter to the Hon. John Reynolds, reviewing that part of his “Own Times,” which relates to the press and his disingenuous notice of Messrs. Edwards and Cook.”

How I have longed to see such documents as these from any of my old friends or forty years ago! And how much nearer perfect could I have made my own half-remembered account. But this is all now beyond my reach. If I had the means at my command, I would make the journey to Chicago, just to search the archives of the Chicago Historical Society, where I suppose they and a multitude of other priceless papers are buried – to experience no resurrection in my time. I hope that flourishing and valuable institution will not let these and such like papers remain buried always.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 28
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, March 10, 1865
It may be interesting, if not important, to trace the proceedings of the parties of the day through the channels, as well as to the source. I have already indicated the source, but, in all political transactions the channel may be not only devious, but ramified, and so it was in this.

It has been shown that Governor Coles was an ardent hater of slavery. By the constitution, the existence of slavery to a limited extent was recognized and allowed, in the persons of what was called, “French Slaves.” That is, some who had been introduced by the old French or Canadian settlers, prior to the occupancy by Americans of the country bordering on the Mississippi. A few of these having been retained under the territorial rule, still remained in bondage, and the constitution did not strike off the chain, at least of that generation. The inconsistency of this with the principles of the constitution itself, and its intrinsic injustice, impressed the Governor so strongly, that in his inaugural, he recommended the emancipation of the French Slaves.

Here was a wedge ready furnished to the hands of the party. Mr. Warren, who was equally opposed to slavery with the Governor, but not equally friendly to him, as he says in a note to the “Conflict” – “depreciated a recommendation in the Governor’s inaugural, as calculated to precipitate the question of a convention; and it so actually happened.” Governor Ford says, “This served as the spark to kindle into activity all the elements in favor of slavery.”

It may be worthwhile to consider how far we are bound, on all occasions, to put forth what we believe to be right principles. Whether we may consult expediency, not instead of right, but for its ultimate recesses. Mr. Coles and Mr. Warren were equally opposed to slavery, and equally conscientious. The one desired and labored for the utter extinction of the wrong, as earnestly as the other. One struck immediately on his official responsibility, at what remained in our institutions of the barbarous iniquity. The other deemed it an error to do so, on the ground of inexpediency. Which was right? It should be observed that Mr. Warren’s reason was, that the recommendation was “calculated to precipitate the que3stion of a Convention;” and Governor Ford says, it had that effect. However, we may approve Mr. Warren’s reasoning and motives, it is impossible not to admire governor Coles’ principles and frankness.

Mr. Ford represents the proslavery leaders as reasoning thus – or at least acting on such reasoning: “Slavery could not be introduced, nor was it believed that the French slaves could be emancipated, without an amendment to the Constitution.”

If so, and I see no reason to doubt it, the Governor furnished a strong – one of the strongest – arguments for a convention. I know it was considered an unfortunate move at the time by some of their friends, who cordially agreed with him.

One of the unpleasant memories of the struggle of that day is that there was division among the leading anti-slavery men, which hindered them, not from aiding in concert on the main question, but from combining and mutually consulting on specific movements. Ford says:

“Mr. Coles was a Virginia, had been private Secretary to Mr. Madison, had traveled in Europe, was well informed, well bred, and valuable in conversation, had emancipated his slaves in Virginia, was appointed to a land office in Illinois, through the influence of Mr. Crawford, the Secretary of the Treasury, had brought his slaves with him to Illinois and settled them on farms, and was a thorough opponent of slavery. At that early day, Mr. Crawford and John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, and others, were looking forward as candidates for the Presidency. Ninian Edwards, one of our Senators, favored Mr. Calhoun, and Jesse B. Thomas, our other Senator, was in favor of Mr. Crawford. To counteract the influence of Edwards, Mr. Coles was sent out to Illinois.”

The point of the foregoing extract touching my present topic is, that “through the influence of Edwards, Mr. Coles was sent out to Illinois.” However correct or otherwise this may be, in reference to the maneuvers at Washington, Mr. Edwards and Mr. Coles were not cordial, political friends. They did not work together. While their relations to public questions ought to have made them one in public life, they were not only two, but antagonistic. This I felt rather than saw (being friendly to both), and at this I often wondered – what local questions divided them I think I never saw, for neither ever spoke disparagingly of the other in my presence. I could act with both freely and openly, yet could never see them act together. The solution must therefore be found in something like the facts presented by Governor Ford. The opposition must have begun or been inspired at Washington. They were not rivals; and even if prospectively – with a distant view to the Senate or otherwise – there was no need of appearing unfriendly or looking askance at each other, at that time. Mr. Crawford and Mr. Calhoun – I wonder if those men ever did good enough to their country to counteract the evils of their machinations – reached their long arms to Illinois, and played their men, like the pieces on the chess board, against each other. And they had men to play. I know that Governor Edwards was in favor of Mr. Calhoun, it was long before secession – but about the preferences of Governor Coles I have not any clear recollections.

The most disastrous effect of this antagonism, in my opinion (and I think other mutual friends agreed with me) was that Mr. Coles and Mr. Warren became irreconcilably separated. The particular occurrence that divided them I do not know, and think I never did, but I had abundant and frequent evidence of the fact. The Spectator, so far as my memory goes, never spoke in commendation of any act of Governor Coles’ administration, and I think never encouraged him so far as to couple his name, unless officially, with any measure which it approved. Thus, in a journal which exerted perhaps more than any other in the State, an influence on the public mind, was certainly discouraging to an executive whose administration was during the most trying epoch of our State’s history, excepting that just closed of Governor Yates. There will be further occasion to advert to this.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 29
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, March 10, 1865

[This article was so damaged and unreadable that I could not transcribe it. I could see, however, that the article was discussing slavery and the State Convention.]

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 30
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, March 17, 1865
Such was the state of things in the ranks of the leading anti-slavery men of that day. Governor Edwards was not active in the canvass. He, as well as Judge Thomas, had, in the U. S. Senate, favored the reception of Missouri as a slave State. In fact, he was a slaveholder, so far, at least, as to have two or three French slaves in his family, and probably more elsewhere. He did not pretend to be scrupulous in the matter, or even anti-slavery, yet he expressed himself strongly opposed to the introduction of slavery into Illinois, because it would be a curse to the State. I do not know that he made any public demonstration on the subject. The most of his time was spent in Washington during the canvass. One fact, however, may be suggestive: all his warmest friends were leading men in the anti-convention struggle. His son-in-law, the noble Daniel P. Cook, residing, when at home, in his family, was certainly not influenced in favor of the Convention movement. A series of powerful articles, written by him at Governor Edwards’ house, was published in the Edwardsville Spectator during the summer, and the Governor’s radiant face, when they were alluded to, showed the depth of his appreciation. For myself, although no assistance or offer of assistance or direct word of encouragement, so far as I remember, ever came from him to me, yet I felt strengthened and cheered by the evidence I had of his approbation of my course. Whether the want of cordiality between himself and Governor Coles had any tendency to hinder him from open and active effort in the cause, I do not know, but certainly at the time I had my thoughts, and deplored the effect. How far Mr. Cook was influenced by this want of cordiality on the part of his father-in-law and Mr. Coles (and indeed, if the latter was an advocate of Crowford, which is not within my knowledge, he was as far from agreeing with Mr. Cook as Mr. Edwards), I am not able to say, but the difference did not keep him back from direct and energetic effort in the same cause. Not only the essays mentioned above, but his whole activities to keep out, and to keep down slavery, were used without ____. And, as will be seen, there was ample room without the necessity of any formal coalition.

I believe I have already said that on the meeting of the Legislature, it was soon found that the enemy was at work to fasten the shackles of slavery on the young State. There was a majority – a strong working majority, who had come prepared to vote for a Convention – a majority, but in the lower house, not a constitutional or two-thirds majority. What is to be done? The Senate is ready at once to pass the requisite resolution to submit the question of Convention or No Convention to the people, but there lacks the addition of a few votes, one or two, of that majority below; and without them, it cannot be done. A vote or two of hesitating ones can perhaps be procured by careful manipulation, but still on counting noses, there are not enough. The difficulty is in one man. Fortunately for them, his seat is contested. We can oust him. We have a majority, and settle can side questions to suit ourselves. Let us then put out the recusant, and fill his place with one who is willing to do our bidding. Aye, but there is often an obstinate little ‘but’ in the way – but there is another question on which the men and their positions are reversed. He who will vote for one Convention will not vote for our man. We have a Senator to elect, and cannot afford to lose the man of our party. Of course, it is to the leaders of the Convention party this language, or reasons, is attributed.

Governor Ford does injustice to the leaders of the movement. It was by no means so clumsily done. They were too able, too shrewd to be caught in such a trap of their own setting. The process was a bold one, and violated every principle of justice, as well as the elective franchise; was contrary doubtless to the meaning of their oaths as legislators; but it was not quite so barefaced. If I am not mistaken, the thing was done in accordance with parliamentary forms.

Nicholas Hansen, as I have elsewhere said, was a young lawyer residing for a time in Edwardsville. He removed to the “Bounty Lands” or “Military Tract,” as the region north of the Illinois River was then called, and which, as Governor Ford says, was erected into the county of Pike. John Shaw was a farmer and trader, I believe on the banks of the Mississippi River, in the same tract, where he laid off a town and did business. Hansen was from New York, of Dutch descent, if I am not wrong, well educated and well disposed, but not, I think, of strong or far-reaching mind. Shaw was a shrewd, but not educated man, and I have the impression not especially scrupulous, particularly in political matters. But, it is seen, both might be serviceable as members, and each had his knotty point. I have, perhaps, said as much before, but no matter.

Hansen was the returned member – Shaw the contestant. Which had the right to the seat was the question. Until that question is decided, of course Hansen sits. The regular committee is appointed to examine the evidence and report. While they are at work, every inducement which can be offered to influence Hansen’s vote in favor of the Convention is urged. Days, weeks are consumed in this effort. How much evidence the committee examined I do not know, but it did not seem to lookers on that the right to the seat depended on this. Promises and persuasions failing, threats were resorted to. But these had no effect. Next to the honors of the seat, the honors of martyrdom floated before the eyes of the young legislator. “They are determined to make a great man of me,” said he one day, or words to that effect, in my hearing.

At length, the committee reported a resolution “that Nicholas Hansen is entitled to a seat as representative from Pike County.” Instantly, a member, Mr. West of Madison, rose and moved “that the report be recommitted to a select committee,” and the report was so committed. Mr. West was appointed chairman, of course, no matter who were the others, and quietly put the report in his pocket. There was a good deal yet to be done. It would seem that Mr. Hansen’s claim was considered decidedly the better one, and if he could be worked over for their use, they would somewhat prefer to let him remain. And so renewed efforts were made, one after another tried to prevail on him to change his position on the Convention question, but he was “an obstinate Dutchman,” and could not be moved. There was no other way, or but the one, they must turn him out. The time was passing, the Senator chosen, the session drawing to a close, the vote must be had without further delay. How can it be done? The easiest thing in the world. Nothing, only to swallow conscience, bury the right, ignore the people, defy or bamboozle constituents. So, the committee reported the identical paper, with “Nicholas Hansen” stricken out and “John Shaw” inserted in its place. And so, the report being adopted, John Shaw became the sitting member.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 31
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, March 17, 1865
It would be strange if no repetitions and no incoherencies should mark these numbers. Written as they are with little help to memory, and with the one or two immediately preceding numbers always gone to press, and no copy before me (for if copying were required, they would never be written), it can hardly be expected that I should pursue a regular, unbroken line of narrative, even if each had been my original plan. I wish to give a true account as far as I go, whether complete and connected or not. The reader may skip when tired of the old man, and the editor shut down at any time.

Would it be interesting to the present generation to have some idea of the State Capital in the winter of 1822-3? An inside view of political maneuvers might entertain the reader, but there are others who knew much more of them than I did. Perhaps an outside view of the place, a personal sketch or two, or may be an anecdote, may supply the place in part.

The town of Vandalia was altogether an experiment. The Legislators of 1818 wished to get the State House and appendages above highwater mark. So, a commission was appointed who ranged the Kaskaskia River from mouth to – not its source, but – beyond existing settlements. They found hills – whether three or seven, I have never counted – but hills enough to rescue the place from the flat sameness of the territorial seat of Government at Kaskaskia; and fixing their stakes, laid off the town (they did not call it city, I believe) and named it Vandalia. It was said, it may be with some truth, that this was a mistake - that they intended to give it the name of an early discover, but somehow got Vandal in their heads instead of LaSalle. However that may be, they found a name which in spite of its association is euphonious as well as sonorous, and a site which may be ranked for beauty among the finest in the State, in both respects as well as in originality far superior to the present State Capital, yet Springfield is the more proper place for the seat of government, and I am inclined to the opinion, no better, take it all in all, can be found in the State. Chicago and East St. Louis have been named, perhaps in irony, for either would be preposterous. Alton might be somewhat more sensible, at least, the capital would have a place to stand on, out of the mud. Bloomington or Peoria would have been well enough if it had been placed in either. But to remove it, ces bona!

But I forgot – I belong to another generation, and have somehow impertinently stuck my nose into the present. Let Young America forgive me. “Old men for counsel” is an antiquated adage. I withdraw to the past.

A square of reasonable dimensions, quite as respectable, certainly, as that on which the present State House stands, was retained in the center, designed, eventually, to be occupied by the State House, and one was afterwards built on it, and around this square the buildings needed for officers were scattered. These were temporary, of course. At the next and lower side of the square and facing it, a wooden building had been put up, two stories high – not very high, though – sufficient to accommodate the Senate on the upper, and the House of Representatives on the lower floor. At one end of the building, passage was partitioned off, some eight or ten feet wide, with a stairway. This afforded entrance to both Halls of Legislature. The style of the building was primitive and plain as a quaker meeting house. But it answered the purposes of legislation, or most of them, for I do not remember any committee rooms, unless there was one room of moderate size partitioned off from the Senate chamber. On the opposite and upper side of the square was a structure then considered large, built by Mr. Erast, a German gentleman, and occupied for a hotel. Some members were accommodated there, and others where they could find a room about town. I wish the members of the Legislature recently adjourned, who grumbled so much about their fare, could have had a bird’s eye view of Vandalia that winter, especially if a double bateaux were their cicerone to open the roofs for them. I fared well. Four of us, clerks, &c., found board at a private house, good enough, and lodging in a room together, where we had a good fire. Colonel Henry S. Dodge, engrossing and enrolling clerk of the Senate, was my bedfellow, as well as associate in the clerical department. David J. Baker, who was acting as assistant clerk of the lower house, and sometimes Henry Starr, occupied the other bed. We had a very pleasant company. Two of us are long gone – the other two waiting for our call away. May we meet in a higher sphere!

The furniture of the State House was as plain and primitive as the structure. No cushioned chairs, but long, hard benches were the seats of the members. The speaker, I think, sat on an arm chair on a platform, hardly large enough to contain it, and a few inches high, with a board before him for a desk supported by several sticks called balusters, and a table before it for the clerk. I have described the Hall of Representatives. The Senate chamber was “like unto it,” only smaller. The governor, Secretary of State, and other high officers who did not happen to reside at Vandalia had lodgings and board, little, if any, better than the rest. Where their offices for business were that winter, I cannot say. The auditor’s was in a brick building, if I remember.

It should be borne in mind, that Vandalia was only about three years old at this time, and that it had no railroad in existence or expectancy to push it forward; no settlements older than itself around it; and no extraordinary soil or peculiar natural advantages. It had to make itself. The Cumberland Road was an afterthought, so far as this place was concerned, and though the Kaskaskia which passed by it had been, as I heard, declared a navigable river by law, there seemed to be a “higher law” which utterly ignored or forbade its navigation. A great state of forwardness in improvement could hardly have been expected.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 32
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, March 24, 1865
Do my readers think I have strayed off from Madison County? Let them be patient. They will find the old county mixed up with my story, and by and by, when the scene of action shall be brought within its limits again, they will probably find, as Sterne, or some other writer has proved, that “a discussion is no digression.”

I have already brought out the catastrophe, and some readers may think I have come to the end of the story, at least as far as Vandalia and the Legislature are concerned. Yet it may not be amiss to linger awhile at our primitive seat of government, and observe the doings of that winter there. One thing worthy of remark is that there was a large proportion of recognized ministers of the gospel in the two houses. These, or several of them, were disposed to magnify their office, and accordingly, there was preaching in the hall of Representatives twice every Sabbath. And there was a variety – Baptist, Methodist, and Unitarian – followed each other, each with no small zeal maintaining his views, and some of them combating the views of each other right manfully. Perhaps this controversial divinity was mainly conducted by two individuals – perfect antipodes in theological views, and almost equally dissimilar in manners and other characteristics, yet both worthy men.

Mr. Kincaid was a man of some culture, a great reader, if not more properly a student, and ingenious in argument. His views were peculiar. Not only was he a Unitarian, but I should say humanitarian in his views of the Divine Person. I heard him preach an elaborate discourse to show that God was endowed with a human body, hands, eyes, &c., and of course occupied a specific place, from which, being very high, he could look down and see and control the world. He was an amiable man, possessing the confidence of those who knew him, and so honest, that though by no means dull of apprehension, he could be and was deceived by pretenders.

Daniel Parker was the opposite. Illiterate, uncultivated, rude in manners, he was a man of no small lpower. His theological position was Trinitarian, ultra-Calvinistic, strict Baptist. I never met with another person who held his views, though he had followers and churches on his side of the State, of whom he was the recognized leader. His peculiarity was in holding to what was called the two seed doctrine. That is, as I understood him, every person born into the world was by his birth fixed in a class, on one side or the other of the line of character and destiny; was, in short, either a child of God or a child of the devil. As God’s purposes never change, so the matter was settled from everlasting to everlasting. And so we had it. Mr. Kincaid would spend an hour in his calm, though by no means tame, persuasion to a good life drawn from his point of view, and at his close, Mr. Parker would announce with entire confidence his intention to demolish his argument in the afternoon or evening. And then, he would spend his hour or more with vest unbuttoned, and cravat taken off (both while speaking), laboring and sweating vehemently, tearing the English language, if not his opponent’s of course, to pieces. And there was mental vigor, power of thought, if no elegance of language, in his preaching. I do not say that this or these, comprised all the kinds of preaching we had, or the best, but certainly the most remarkable. And they had hearers – the hall full. Some of us went hoping, not always in vain, to hear the gospel. Some, to hear the controversies. Others seem to hear the preacher, whoever he might be.

The clerk of the House was a candidate for the highest office in the gift of the Legislature. He was known to be a gambler, profane and immoral. Every Sabbath – every sermon – found him sitting on the desk at which he usually wrote, facing the preacher, looking earnestly and listening devoutly. It was frequently remarked that he was not seen at gaming tables, publicly, though I heard it more than once said that there were more private places of resort at which he might solace himself. At length, the election came off – he was successful. That same night, as I went into the somewhat public room of the Senator from Madison, I saw him seated at cards. Laying my hand upon his shoulder, I said, “What’s this?” He looked up over his should at me and replied, “I _____ _____ - the election’s over.” His desk did not groan under his weight on the Sabbath, I think after that. He has been a Governor (of another State) since, and though himself dead, his name seems perpetuated not in honor, even until lnow, as rebel claimant of the same position.

Another prominent man was candidate for a high office – the highest below the bench. He had certainly some eminent qualifications for electioneering. I never understood that he was at the head of the profession, though he sought the highest place. He was a very attentive hearer – or seemed to be – if whatever preacher (member of either house) held forth. His position, as a hearer, was much more humble than that of the Clerk, yet equally conspicuous to the preacher. He uniformly planted himself upon the edge of the little platform on which the preacher stood, and on which the speaker sat during session. This seat had special advantages. Not only was he always in sight of the preacher, but looking up with earnest attention, gave the impression of deep interest, if not devotion. Moreover, tobacco shewing was common, and preachers did not all eschew the weed – they preferred to chew it. Some of them scattered their bountiful benefactions with profuse liberality, on every side, so that the humble hearer at their feet partook largely of the benefit. A waggish lawyer said that T- was sitting under the droppings of the sanctuary.

It was strange that a man of common understanding and self-respect did not see how he was despised for his barefaced hypocrisy. And it is still more strange that good men, of fair capacity for discernment, could be, and were, deceived by him. They did not see him at the gambling halls, for they did not go there, and he was careful to avoid or prevent them from seeing whatever he thought would discredit him in their eyes. Yet it was a wonder to some of us, that the thin and partial disguise with which he and some others were clothed, could blind so many as it did. Some gentlemen were conversing one evening about the man of whom these remarks are made, when Mr. Kincaid said, “I acknowledge that I was completely deceived by him. He spoke with tears in his eyes of his sins, and asked me so earnestly and repeatedly for my prayers, that my sympathies were excited, and I took him into my heart as a sinner turning from his ways, and was willing to do anything for him in my power. A gentleman present replied, “Yes! And he will deceive you again, if he has any occasion.” “Well, I confess,” replied Mr. Kincaid, “that he almost succeeded in deceiving me the second time.” I will not pretend to give the precise language of Mr. Kincaid, but am persuaded of its substantial correctness.

Both these men were successful candidates. They are now no more on earth, and now know how far their success was success. And they were both zealous advocates of the Convention, though not members of the Legislature. Mr. Parker and Mr. Kincaid voted against the measure.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 33
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, March 31, 1865
Although my business was in the Senate chamber, and my place at the desk to record all the proceedings of the body, and although I do not remember or believe that I was ever absent from my place half an hour during the sessions, I have no distinct recollection of more than one or two of the leaders or active members of the Senate in the struggle. As before said, the Senate was safe, nothing needed to be done for the cause there. It was in the House the effort was required to work over, or work in, the requisite two-thirds. Consequently, the interest centered in the House. There was a good deal of maneuvering, indeed, carried on in the Senate chamber, but it was mostly or entirely on other matters. In the matter of divorces, a large business was done. One of the Senators had a sister, unfortunately married, and wished her released. In order to secure success to his bill – the merits of which I do not know – he favored other applications. Other members of each house probably had their pet cases, and so divorces became the order of the day. I think there were more than forty couples divorced that winter by act of the Legislature. A lawyer, being employed to write a petition for a divorce, disgusted with the whole thing and hoping to stop it by ridicule, prepared the paper in such a manner and gave such absurd reasons for asking it – such for instance as this – “One of us is Irish and the other Dutch, and we can’t quarrel in comfort” – as raised peals of laughter when it was read. Yet the divorce was enacted.

Among the Senators, the most remarkable, perhaps, was the Reverend William Kinney of St. Clair County. With very limited education and opportunities for self-improvement equally limited, he had acquired and held among educated and able lawyers, by no means unambitious, the position of a leader. Doubtless he held this in the Senate by reason of the powerful influence he exerted in the State among the people. It is true this influence, so far as direct, was mainly over the denomination of Christians, among whom he was recognized as a preacher, but that was a power which he knew how to work to his advantage. Illiterate as he avowedly was, he possessed talents of a commanding order or degree. It will not do to call it simply shrewdness or cunning. The man who is unable to write a correct sentence in plain English, who writes the personal pronoun “i,” and who yet can stand beside the highest the ablest, the most learned and the most practical politicians of the State as their peer, and maintain his standing there for years, must have higher qualifications than usually come under the denomination of shrewdness. In his own denomination, he was all powerful. I do not remember that I ever heard him preach, and there were no occasions in the Senate during the winter I was there, to call out eloquence. His speeches were short, inelegant, rude, but to the point. His acquaintance with the scriptures was by no means extraordinary for a preacher of long standing, either in extent or accuracy. As an instance, I heard him one day in the Senate say, “I had the satisfaction to do (with work hands on the road) as the scripture says, ‘The bird that can sing, and won’t sing, must be made to sing.’” Yet he could seldom be caught, or if caught, held in a trap. When asked for the chapter in which his text was to be found, he said, “Well, if it ain’t there, it ought to be.”

I have been told that his preaching was noted for ingenuous argument or sophistry, and homely but apt illustrations. Such as – to show how much easier it is to discover faults, than to correct them, or to ridicule some criticism. “A hog may find a hole in the fence, but he can’t mend it.” To describe a denomination of Christians who were very zealous and very noisy in their devotions, he said, “They were like an empty wagon moving downhill.”

I doubt whether there was a man more industrious or more efficient in labors for the Convention than Mr. Kirney. Others could write better, of course, for there were able and accomplished men associated with him; but he was everywhere among the people, talking of the benefits to be derived to the State, and the great improvement in the condition of the negro, which would be produced by the change sought for. That he was not over scrupulous on the moral aspects of the subject, or the means used to secure the end, we had evidence enough, but in this respect, he was held in countenance, if not quite equaled, by his associates, the leaders, in the contest. If is sad to remember that in the last years of his life, his religious character, his standing, his hopes, were wrecked by intemperance, and his course characterized by the most awful profanity. In his creed, he acknowledged a Supreme Being, who was the efficient cause of all things, each individual sin included, and who it would seem, had no rule or reason for his judgments, but his own unchangeable will. It was the doctrine of Fate, in its most absolute form. And he gloried in it. A son of his died at West Point. A fellow student wrote the father saying he died in the full belief that his fate was fixed by the absolute and eternal decrees of God, which nothing could modify, and the father showed me the letter, printed in gold letters on black satin, to be framed and hung up in his house.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 34
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, March 31, 1865
I find Mr. Churchill – I am glad I have called him out, for I mean to take the credit of it – thinks “brevity is the soul of sit,” and rather obliquely hints that his old friend has forgotten the adage, old folks, like the Hou______, need a flapper to wake them up occasionally. My apology for stretching out this series, which, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along, is, that it is not a continued narrative, but a string of sketches, which like beads, may be slipped off the string anywhere. Some sea captains have described the sea serpent as resembling a long row of barrels, following each other. So these articles come in succession, but if connected at all, the connection is frequently out of sight.

I think I will not attempt any more personal sketches, except to say a few words of our presiding officer, the Lieutenant Governor, and this I do because I think he has had hardly fair dealing from the hands of others. Governor Ford has caricatured him, or perhaps it were more correct to say, embalmed in history, a caricature which he received by tradition, both in the wolf speech and his general character. It is very certain that Adolphus Frederick Hubbard was not a man of strong intellect or well-furnished mind, and that the lawyers associated with him loved to place him in laughable, or it may be, ridiculous positions. I saw a good deal of this practical joking among them. They were delighted to find a subject, especially a newcomer on the circuit, and if a green yankee, so much the better, whom they would lampoon unmercifully until he would bear it no longer. But, indeed, they were all accustomed to “give and take” in this matter. It made their circuits more cheerful, took off the drudgery, thus to alternate their hard travel and hard work with mirth inspiring wit.

Knowing this habit of the lawyers of that day, I have always supposed the representations of Gov. Hubbard’s speeches greatly exaggerated, and some of them probably pure inventions. Nor do I believe that the men of high character and generous spirit whom I have heard repeat them, ever gave, or would have given, consent to their perpetuation in a professing to be grave and truthful history.

Whatever were Mr. Hubbard’s eccentricities or deficiencies, it must be admitted that in his intercourse with others, either official or social, his demeanor was that of a gentleman. I considered him a good-natured egotist, whose self esteem was manifested rather amusingly than offensively. His manners – I have that session only on my mind – seemed a combination of the easy, good natured, amusing arrogance which I have often observed in young gentlemen from the South, and dignified condescension, or if you like it better, condescending dignity. As presiding officer of the Senate, my opinion was, and is, that he aimed to be impartial as well as uniformly polite, nor do I recollect to it any complaint was made by the Senators. To myself, his deportment was always pleasant and respectful, and I think the relations between the presiding officer and Secretary could not have been more free from friction. He was in favor of the Convention; but I am not aware of his ever having swerved from the line of duty to promote it. On the whole, while there was little in common between us – nothing, I may almost say, but our common humanity – my recollections of Lt. Gov. Hubbard are far more agreeable than those relating to some others, who occupy more conspicuous places in the history or memories of those days. I think he was measurably, if not entirely, free from inebriety and profaneness, vices which prove far too prevalent among us.

I believe I have already intimated that the Convention question was connected with others, with any that could help it. On the other hand, there were others which required the help of this. One of these was the construction of a canal to unite Lake Michigan with the Mississippi River, through the Illinois River. They were tacked together, therefore, for mutual support, and if my memory is not at fault again, were passed, on the same day and hour. The canal measure was indeed brought up in various ways. One effort caused no little amusement to observers by a scene now brought up before me. A Senator, Mr. Kinney, who was opposed to the canal, but who probably had no reference to that measure in his present proposition, offered a resolution that a committee should be appointed to inquire into the expediency of appropriating funds for the purpose of draining certain lakes in the American Bottom. Another Senator immediately proposed to amend by adding, “and also ------ Bottom” (I don not remember the order, nor even the name of the “Bottoms” proposed to drain). Then another amendment, “_______ ------Bottom;” then another, and so ____ _____, as Mr. ____ ____ _____ inconsiderable pond in what would now be called Southern Illinois.” At this point, a Senator arose and gravely proposed another amendment to these words, “and also the Bottom of Lake Michigan.” This, our course, was a quietus to the whole thing, and I am the more disposed to think that the first proposition was made without reference to the canal from the chagrin manifested by the mover at the ludicrous result.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 35
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, April 7, 1865
The work was done. Nicholas Hanson, having secured the election of Judge Thomas, who was not responsible so far as I know for the maneuvering to accomplish it, now was “stricken out,” and John Shaw “inserted” in the report, and so John Shaw took his seat, the Convention Resolution passed, and the party triumphed. Their “triumph” was characteristic. When the shades of night prevailed, a crowd was gathered, candles were lighted, horns were blown, tin pans were pounded, clapboards were rattled, and a crowd of men, without order, but with wild halloos, savage shouts and as savage groans, paraded – no, rambled without order – through the streets of Vandalia, “making night hideous,” and aiming to strike terror fate the feeble minority of one-third whom they had circumvented. It was a noisy, and to a considerable extent, drunken mob. It was designed to show that they were determined to win, and thus intimidate the anti-slavery men and render them hopelessly inactive, thereby insuring them an easy victory in the final vote of the people.

In this, they were doomed to disappointment. The opponents of the introduction of slavery into our State were alarmed, but not disheartened. They saw danger, but felt resolved to meet it. There would be a fearful struggle – perhaps defeat – but they would address themselves to the conflict with energy and courage. They knew they had the right, and would “quit themselves like men” to maintain it, and preserve the State, if possible, from the blighting curse of slavery, that their children and children’s children might enjoy the benefit of free institutions.

In this spirit a meeting was held in a room of a private house, in which some of the anti-slavery members boarded, and to which the invitations were given personally – and not publicly – to such as were known to be true to liberty. Here the matter was discussed, not formally, I think, but conversationally, and the great question was, “How shall we proceed to defeat the ruinous measure now thrown before the people?”

After all, there was little of organization. No society was formed that I know of, no leaders chosen, no particular plan of operations – only that all should do their best, especially in their own localities. It was deemed important – indispensable – that we should have at least one paper which should not only be accessible to us, but wholly and heartily on our side, pledged, not by promises, but by principle, well established and well known, so that undoubting confidence could be placed in its conductors. Accordingly, the question was put with deep anxiety. Have we such a paper now in existence? It was answered in the affirmative. The Edwardsville Spectator was named as an uncompromising foe to the establishment of slavery. There were those on the east side of the State who did not know the Spectator or its editor. They asked, “Is he safe? Will he be true to the cause? May we fully rely on him?” Various questions were put of this character, which showed not only the anxiety, but the alarm, or uneasiness which prevailed. To all these questions, there was one answer. The fullest assurances were given that Mr. Warren would at all hazards, and under all circumstances oppose the attempt to introduce slavery, with all his power. To make assurance doubly sure, I was requested and promised to call on Mr. Warren on my return to Edwardsville, and sound him without any intimation of advantage whatever. I did so, and after telling something of the proceedings at Vandalia of the slave party, and the anxiety of the anti-slavery men, asked him incidentally as it were, what course the Spectator would take. “Against it, of course.” Of course I needed no more, nor even that, but to fulfill my mission, suggested that the Convention party was strong and determined, and would bid high. “They can’t buy me,” was his emphatic ultimatum. I have been told in late years by Judge Lockwood that he also was requested to do the same thing, and performed it with similar results. It was to satisfy those who had not the same acquaintance with the man that we had. A subscription was gotten up to increase the circulation, and intended not only to diffuse information more, but to benefit the conductor of the paper. I understood then that the amount subscribed was two thousand dollars in State bank paper, valued at that time at fifty percent of its face, but am sorry to learn that the amount subscribed was much less, that not near all was ever paid, and that the paper – bank paper I mean – depreciated so much that it is doubtful if the subscription did not eventuate in pecuniary loss to Mr. Warren. At any rate, he knew nothing of the subscription or any intention of the party to remunerate him, until after he was fully and spontaneously committed on the subject. I have now to allude to a more painful aspect of the case. In one of the notes which Mr. Warren appended (according to my request) to his edition of “the Conflict of the Century,” he says:

“The doubts of its (the Spectator’s) future course in relation to that question, by anti-slavery members, as mentioned by Mr. Lippincott were superlatively preposterous. I will just point to their source:

The late Rev. John M. Peck of St. Clair County, in the letter to Hooper Warren, published in the Free West, of May 3, 1865, relates an interview, after the adjournment of the Legislature, between himself and Governor Coles, sought by the latter, in which the Governor made known to Mr. Peck confidentially, a project he had in view of purchasing an interest in the Vandalia paper. That he (Governor Coles) was about to appoint a new Secretary of State in the place of Mr. Lockwood, resigned, and that his object in requesting the interview was to consult Mr. Peck as to a person who was not only capable of performing the duties of Secretary, but those of an editor also. Does not this plainly solve the misgivings about the future course of the Spectator?”

To which I answer (and cannot avoid the wish that my old and valued friend were still here to see the answer). It does not “solve the misgivings about the future course of the Spectator.”

In the first place, the questions were not put nor prompted by Governor Coles. I feel perfectly assured that he had no part in proposing them, nor do I believe he expressed a doubt about the future course of the Spectator. Whether he was present at that meeting at all is by no means settled in my mind, but whether or not I am very certain that Mr. Warren is entirely mistaken in attributing the questionings to him, for in the second place, the questions did not imply doubt, but ignorance of the paper and the man. They came from members who resided on the east side of the State, were not readers of the Spectator, and had very little, if any, knowledge of its course or principles. To us who knew him, they were “preposterous,” not so to those who knew him not. I may have occasion to speak of the remainder of his note, of which I have only given part, in another connection. Here I wish both Mr. Warren and Governor Coles to be put right before my readers. They were both thorough going, honest opponents of slavery, and ought to have been friends. I have the greater confidence in my statements because the queries were put to and answered by myself.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 36
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, April 21, 1865
The way now seems clear to return to Madison County. In the remaining portion of what I have to say, the field of operations, so far as it was under my eye, was mainly at home in our own county. My unassisted memory will not enable me to distinguish between the years 1823 and 1824, in regard to the labors of the anti-Conventionists. Nor can I remember when the Convention Organ – whose name, as usual, I forget – published by Thomas J. McGuire, and edited by Theophilus W. Smith, was commenced at Edwardsville, but suppose it must have been in the former year, for the contest between it and the Spectator waxed hot, long before the election of 1824.

There was a meeting held at the old log courthouse of anti-slavery men, at which something of organization was attempted. I was chosen Secretary, to correspond with other friends, but did very little as such; nothing, indeed, unless it was to receive and answer a few letters, and some small sums of money to defray expenses. If there was any president or other officer, I have utterly forgotten it. It seems to have been understood, or taken for granted, that Edwardsville was a sort of center of operations on our behalf, and hence a few communications were received from other parts of the State. But as it was not attempted or designed to assume that position, the few laborers in the cause satisfied themselves with individual instead of organized efforts; and most of them with what could be done through the Spectator. I say, “most of them.” There was one of the little band – a band drawn together by affinity, and not bound by organized association – whose labors were far more extensive; and as in a former series I may have failed to do him justice, it affords me pleasure to embrace the opportunity afforded by these numbers to bring the facts more fully before the public.

In the Conflict of the Century, when speaking of a few only of those who had engaged in the effort, such as were supposed to be gone beyond the reach of any word of commendation of mine, the following words occur:

“There were those who wrote more, but there was no one more indefatigably, nor more disinterestedly engaged in the effort to keep out the curse of slavery than Edward Coles, then Governor of the State. His chief efficacy was, perhaps, in procuring and circulating at his own expense, in pamphlet form, mainly, any popular works on slavery that could be got by an extensive correspondence. His daily counsels and hints, however, to a little band of men in Edwardsville, suggested many an article which he saw not and knew not of until he saw it in print.”

In another connection, speaking of a pamphlet circulated by him, entitled, “Information Concerning the Present State of the Slave Trade,” a marginal note is appended, saying “One of Governor Coles’ correspondents on the occasion was the late Robert Vaux of Philadelphia. I have an idea that this came from him.”

At the time of writing the Conflict, and for some years after, I knew not the address of governor Coles. But as the edition of Mr. Warren came out, I saw a notice of a serenade to him in Philadelphia. Without delay, I wrote to him, and afterwards sent him a copy of the series, accompanied by another letter. In reply, I had the great pleasure to receive two letters from him. The first in answer to mine, informing him of what I was doing, or had done, and requesting corrections and additions; the second, written after he had received my publication, with some remarks on it. I have long felt that it would be a favor to the public to publish both these interesting letters entire, but at present I shall give only some extracts bearing on the facts in question. In reference to the amount written by him, he says:

“I gladly avail myself of this occasion to express my obligations to you for the kind and gratifying notice you take of me in your publication. At the same time, allow me to add, if you had been aware of the extent of the labors of my pen, you would not have said I had not written much. The hostility imbibed by Mr. Warren against me prevented my contributing to his paper (the Spectator), but I contributed to other papers over various signatures, and published several pamphlets, and caused many to be published, several of which I assisted in circulating, particularly those you allude to from the enlightened and philanthropic pen of my friend, Robert Vaux of this city. My labor in the cause was so great, that during the several months which passed between my purchasing the Illinois Intelligencer and the election, there were but few numbers of that paper which did not contain something from my pen – either original essays, the most methodical and lengthy of which were contained in nine numbers published over the signature of ‘One of Many” – or numerous extracts from the speeches and writings of the most celebrated men of American and Europe – many of which were published under the title of ‘The Voice of Virtue, Wisdom and Experience on the Subject of Negro Slavery.’”

Of the manifold labors of Governor Coles, in other respects I was aware, and have endeavored to do him justice in regard to them. Probably there is but one person now living (Judge Samuel D. Lockwood) who knew so much of those efforts as myself. Every day for months we were together, and the correspondence and the pamphlets alluded to were before us. But I confess I was not aware of the amount of writing for the papers on the subject, which was performed by him. In addition to what I did know, it must be called immense. And I can hardly feel otherwise than glad that my omission has called out the eloquent correction.

The fact that Governor Coles did not write for the Spectator, and the reason of it (the misunderstanding between them) was known, and as the Intelligencer did not pass into the hands of David Backwell until the second year of the conflict, I was under the impression that the labors of the governor, except the daily consultations, consisted mainly in procuring and circulating the essays and other productions above mentioned. Besides the expense incurred by him in doing this, it is evident that there must have been a large correspondence, as well as extensive researches.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 37
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, May 5, 1865
Mr. Warren, in his note, already referred to more than once, after relating the circumstance given by Mr. Peck in relation to the appointment of a Secretary of State, the wrong inference from which I have noticed in a previous number, adds the following as facts:

“The Governor, in pursuance of Mr. Peck’s recommendation, appointed David Blackwell to be Secretary of State, and about one year thereafter, just three months before the termination of the canvass, he succeeded in renting the establishment of the Illinois Intelligencer, for the time being, and placed Mr. Blackwell in it as editor.”

Doubtless Mr. Warren, if he were still living, would desire to have justice done to Mr. Coles, and I am sure that if in the eternal world he has cognizance of the affairs of this, he wishes the truth to be known. On the note above, Mr. Coles, in his letter, says:

“I will correct your mistake in saying I rented the establishment of the Illinois Intelligencer and placed David Blackwell in it as Editor. I did not rent, but virtually purchased it. The facts were these: The Illinois Intelligencer was owned and edited by Berry and Blackwell. The former having become very much in debt, his half of it had to be sold to pay his debts. I proposed to David Blackwell that if he would buy the establishment and would become the Editor, I would loan him the money to pay for it, on the condition that his brother (the partner of Berry) would consent to give him, and he give me, the control of the paper during the great political contest then pending, and as he had no property, that he would give me a lien on the establishment to secure the payment of the money loaned him. Being poor, and receiving but a small income from his profession of lawyer, his older brother (the Editor) being anxious to befriend and assist him, consented to my proposition. The purchase was made, the money paid, and the agreement and lien between David Blackwell and myself were all duly committed to paper. To the great surprise of all, the delight of one party, and the consternation and displeasure of the other, the first knowledge the public had of it was the annunciation in the paper, that it had changed owners, and with it would change its principles, and in future would oppose the convention, and the making Illinois a slave State.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 37
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, May 5, 1865
Mr. Warren, in his note, already referred to more than once, after relating the circumstance given by Mr. Peck in relation to the appointment of a Secretary of State, the wrong inference from which I have noticed in a previous number, adds the following as facts:

“The Governor, in pursuance of Mr. Peck’s recommendation, appointed David Blackwell to be Secretary of State, and about one year thereafter, just three months before the termination of the canvass, he succeeded in renting the establishment of the Illinois Intelligencer, for the time being, and placed Mr. Blackwell in it as editor.”

Doubtless Mr. Warren, if he were still living, would desire to have justice done to Mr. Coles, and I am sure that if in the eternal world he has cognizance of the affairs of this, he wishes the truth to be know. On the note above, Mr. Coles, in his letter, says:

I will correct your mistake in saying I rented the establishment of the Illinois Intelligencer and placed David Blackwell in it as Editor. I did not rent, but virtually purchased it. The facts were these:

The Illinois Intelligencer was owned and edited by Berry and Blackwell. The former having become very much in debt, his half of it had to be sold to pay his debts. I proposed to David Blackwell that if he would buy the establishment, and would become the Editor, I would loan him the money to pay for it, on the condition that his brother (the partner of Berry) would consent to give him, and he give me, the control of the paper during the great political contest then pending, and as he had no property, that he would give me a lien on the establishment to secure the payment of the money loaned him. Being poor, and receiving but a small income from his profession of lawyer, his older brother (the Editor), being anxious to befriend and assist him, consented to my proposition. The purchase was made, the money paid, and the agreement and lien between David Blackwell and myself were all duly committed to paper. To the great surprise of all, the delight of one party, and the consternation and displeasure of the other, the first knowledge the public had of it was the annunciation in the paper, that it had changed owners, and with it would change its principles, and in future would oppose the Convention, and the making Illinois a slave state.

Nearly all of the subscribers to the paper being advocates of making Illinois a slave-holding State, and thinking it probable in the gust of passion produced by the change that they would withdraw their names as subscribers, I directed that no attention should be paid to such notices, but that the paper should be continued to be sent to all the old subscribers until after the election should be over, when, if they still continued to refuse to take it, I would pay their subscription from the change of the paper until the election. I did not lose much by this, as few persisted in refusing to pay after the election was over and we had carried it. I lost, however, after waiting several years with the hope of collecting it, a good portion of what was still due me, on the plea of poverty set up by Mrs. Blackwell after the death of her husband, which induced me to exempt her from the debt.”

Mr. Coles errs in attaching to me the statement that he rented the Intelligencer establishment. It was Mr. Warren, and not myself, whose misinformation on the subject led to his note. My understanding at the time agreed with what Governor O. now says. And I may add, that I was much more likely to know the truth of the matter, having daily interviews with the Governor in reference to this very subject, than Mr. Warren, between whom and Governor Coles there was no intercourse. I presume Judge Lockwood has full knowledge of the facts, and I feel no small pleasure in being able by the foregoing extract to contribute to the truth of history in reference to that momentous struggle.

I cannot resist the temptation to add further extracts from letters received from Governor Coles in reference to that eventful period. In his letter of June 15, 1860, after speaking of severe chronic neuralgia which made it exceedingly difficult and painful for him to write, he continues:

“This inability I regret the more, and will exert myself the more – yes, to the utmost extent of my diseased powers, to aid you, as I still feel, and the longer I live, and the more I witness the revolting and disgraceful scenes of the present times, in upholding and extending slavery, the greater the interest, and the more hearty satisfaction I feel at the part I acted, and the gratification I desire from reflection on the course I pursued, and the agency I had in preserving the Prairies of Illinois from the curse of slavery. I assure you this is to me a source of great consolation as I approach the termination of my earthly existence, and calmly review the past, and anticipate the future. Whether I get credit as helmsman for steering the Illinois ship of state through the conflicting tempest which raged so violently between the extremes of Freedom and Slavery, I certainly review my conduct on that tempestuous occasion with approbation and indescribable satisfaction.”

Can those who strove to fasten chains on the infant Illinois enjoy this reflection as well? I propose to give other extracts.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 38
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, May 12, 1865
I am indebted to the kindness of my friend, Churchill, for a copy of the Journal of the House of Representatives of our State, for the session in which the famous convention Resolution, of which I have been writing, was passed, and sent forth for the decision of the people. I thank him for it. It revives in my memory men and scenes and things which must always be of deep interest to me – almost making me live a winter of my life of forty years ago over again. If only I could get a copy of the Journal of the Senate, which I wrote myself, I would then have other men living before me, who have for the most part been long dead. But that, I fear, is beyond my reach.

What is of more importance, the Journal received enables me to correct an egregious blunder or two, one of which I more than half suspected while perpetrating it. It is in reference to the representation of Madison County in the House during that winter, and especially to Mr. Churchill’s membership. The fact is, I was in a perfect bewilderment on the subject when writing about it, and strove hard, but having no aid to memory, strove in vain to get it right. The difficulty was, I had forgotten, and could not convince myself that our old county loomed so large at that time as to send four men to represent her in the Legislature – one in the Senate and three in the Lower House. Yet so it was, and four men of ability and power in the body.

I have already spoken of Theophilus W. Smith as the Senator from Madison. In the House of Representatives, the county was represented by George Churchill, Emanuel J. West, and Curtiss Blakeman. That I should have ignored Captain Blakeman in telling of the men and doing of that day appears to me now almost ridiculously strange. The old Salt, full of the practical wisdom, gained by life-long voyaging from land to land. In most responsible trusts, and firm as a rock in the maintenance of right, was an object of contemplation then, and a living memory now. Yet, as good old Dominee Sampson says, “I was oblivious.”

Mr. West has been, perhaps, sufficiently mentioned. I do not know as well as Mr. Churchill, of course, how efficient he was as a member, but from the knowledge I possess of him, should judge that he had considerably more than average ability in management, and at least a respectable position as a speaker. Probably he made no pretension to oratory, or effort at long speeches.

My readers are wondering how in recalling the events of that day I could leave out George Churchill, and so am I. The only explanation that occurs to me is that I very well knew Mr. Churchill’s legislative career, having been deeply interested in it always, and I may say always “accessory before the fact,” and had when writing as lively a recollection of his standing and usefulness in that capacity as now. But I could not fix it in my mind whether he was elected for that particular session or not. Nor could I be certain whether the frequent sight and hearing of him I had in his place as a member was then or at other session, when I was in the habit of attending every year at Vandalia the meetings of our State benevolent societies. At any rate, he was there, and was there as a living man, seen, felt, and even heard – though only in short speeches – with as much respect, attention, and effect as any other man in the body. In the classification of members (on our side especially, but not exclusively), it was, I believe, usual to place Thomas Mather at the lead, and George Churchill next. And yet both were modest, unassuming men.

The other blunder I leave for Mr. Churchill to correct when he comes to annotate on No. 32, I gave the history as I was told it at or near that time. The Journal does not sustain me in my statement. Perhaps even Governor Ford may be more correct than I. Let Mr. Churchill give a full and graphic account – as we know he is able – of the turning out of Nicholas Hansen, from his own memory aided by the Journal aforesaid. It deserves to be told fully and truly.

I will not now notice the names of men in Upper Alton, whom I had omitted, as revived by Mr. Churchill – perhaps never, though the recollection is interesting – except as to one, and that, to speak of an incident in the canvass of the Convention question.

Benjamin Spencer was a mechanic of good intelligence and unblemished character, and so well and generally liked that he was elected one of the County Commissions at the election of 1822. In the Fall or winter afterwards, he died, and the Court, of course, had a vacancy to fill which an election was held early in 1823. The anti-convention men were of opinion that our county was on the right side, and felt anxious to test the question by this …… [unreadable] …. Was pretty well known, they importuned me to allow myself to be set up as a candidate opposed to the Convention, and at length, overcome by the solicitations of men as Lockwood, McKee, Miller, and others I consented. Accordingly, I was the anti-convention candidate and was elected as such, over – I know not whom. It was an anticipatory triumph of the free State party, which was the whole aim in the measure.

The result was curious. The regular members of the court were John Barber, an elder in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Hail Mason, an elder in the Presbyterian Church in Edwardsville, and I, elected to fill the vacancy, was an elder in the same church with him. We had but one term of the Court after I was elected, but that was enough to “turn the world upside down” in Madison County. In short, we had the effrontery to refuse licenses to sell liquors – remember this was before the temperance movement, before we ever heard of the “Six sermons” even – not absolutely, nor to all, but to every applicant who we believed designed to keep a mere grog shop, however he might parade his band, “to provide lodgings for poor travelers and stabling and provider for their horses,” according to the letter of the law. They stormed and threatened, but we calmly persisted and prevailed. No harm ever came of it. The election in Edwardsville in the ensuing August was as quiet as if no interest were left in the result.

It may be wondered – it was then – how we three men, not learned in the law, durst assume the responsibility to refuse licenses to such as produced exactly the bond the law required, when the universal belief was that the granting of such license was imperative on us. So, the applicants and their friends insisted, but we persisted. Not to claim too much honor for the court, I will reveal the fact that we acted under the best legal advice. It was Samuel D. Lockwood who, as I was going to take my seat in the court, informed me that it was my duty and the duty of the court to guard the public interests on that point, and that we had the legal power to refuse all applications, when we judged the public interests demanded it. To him, then, belongs the honor of the first temperance movement I know of in the State. Armed with his advice, we were invincible.

It may not be altogether impertinent to add, that all three of the then county Commissioners afterwards became preachers of the gospel in three different denominations – Cumberland, Methodist, and Presbyterian. The whole number may be an episode. Well, I have authority for saying as in a quotation in a former number, the wit of which was spoiled by the printer, “a digression is no digression” – at least sometimes.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 39
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, June 16, 1865
Governor Ford, in his somewhat incorrect list of names, has mentioned two of whom I have not spoken, who ought to be remembered with respect among the opposers of the slavery constitution, and in connection with the early history of the State: Morris Birkback and George Forquer, and though not of our county, I must be permitted to say a word of them.

Morris Birkback was an Englishman – a farmer – and a man of extensive acquirements, unblemished character, and amiable as well as gentlemanly deportment. He first visited American, extending his tour of observation to Illinois, before it became a State. On his return to England, he wrote and published a book, which was so well done, so interesting, and so reliable, that it brought a number of the reading _______ to the newborn State in its earliest infancy. Himself, with some associates, founded an important settlement in Edwards County. The name of George Flown has been long well known as one. A Mr. Gilbert T. Pell from New York or Long Island, and son-in-law, if I remember right, of Mr. Birkbeck, was a young man of noble appearance, and was a good member of the Legislature during that important session. He went back afterwards, and I have often wondered if the Mr. Pell, whose name I see among the members and speakers of the Farmer’s Club, reported in the New York Tribune, is not the same man. On the resignation of Mr. Lockwood, Governor Coles offered the post of Secretary of State to Mr. Birkbeck, who officiated in it I think but a short time. Mr. Churchill says he was drowned in crossing one of the swollen streams of our yet unimproved State. I had lost the fact, as I have many others, but am aware that the State was early deprived of his valuable services and influence. My recollections of him are among the pleasant ones of the early days.

George Forquer was the older brother, by a different father, of Governor Ford. I think, when I was passing through to St. Louis in 1818, or if not then, a few years after, their mother was spoken of as a widow residing at or near the present site of Waterloo. At any rate, she must have been a woman of character to rear two such boys as George Forquer and Thomas Ford at that early day in the Territory of Illinois. Mr. Ford was yet a youth when the battle of freedom was fought, and we can only judge from subsequent events what would have been his course in the contest, had he been an actor. But his brother (I remember with pleasure that each habitually spoke of the other as brother, without the qualifying “half”) was a man, though quite a young one at the time. He was a member of the Legislature, I forgot what session, and without so far as I know, any appearance of arrogance, soon took a prominent position in the House. His cheerful, frank and pleasant manners, combined with real talent, rendered him a favorite. I think, indeed, he was rather a pet of the party, who loved to call him out. Of one thing I am sure, they had entire confidence in his integrity, and I believe never had occasion to regret it. On the retirement of Mr. Birkback from the office, he was appointed Secretary of State, and still subsequently was a candidate for Congress, to which he was not elected. His early death was deeply mourned.

I may be allowed, in passing, to remark on the striking contrast in many things between the brothers, Forquer and Ford. The former, open, genial, eloquent, social; the latter (I speak of him at recollected on his coming to Edwardsville in early manhood to complete his law studies, and, perhaps, be admitted to the bar) with down look, unsocial, though not really unpleasant in manner, with shrinking – it seemed to me – from, or avoiding general society, and inclined rather to descend in the social scale than to aspire to the more refined. In those days, his moral habits, so far as I know, were good. It was said of him, I know not with what truth, that he was a more profound lawyer than his brother, though less capable of expressing his views. I never heard him address the public. But in the great conflict, Mr. Forquer was a bold and faithful champion of the right, and was really one among the leaders of the contest.

Elsewhere I have spoken of Thomas Mather as the acknowledged leader of the anti-slavery party in the House. He was an able man, not given to long speeches, but watchful and far-seeing, and his business habits, for he was a merchant and afterwards banker, made him more than a match for the shrewd and able lawyers and others on the opposite side. His perusal character gave him great influence, for it inspired confidence. I do not know whether we had much aid from his pen, nor do I remember that he traveled extensively, if at all, during the canvass, but I know he stood among the highest throughout, as a moving spirit to inspire confidence and incite to action.

I think now I have, in one place or another, introduced the names of nearly all of those who were active on our side of the great question, unless there may have been some on the other side of the State, and have probably confirmed the classification of Governor Ford, excepting the omission of a name or two, and the inversion of Governor Edwards and Henry Eddy. I confess that to find my own name among such a group as Coles, Cook, Lockwood, Birkbeck, Churchill, Peck, Blackwell, Warren, Mather, and Forquer, as one with them, is anything but mortifying or unpleasant, and I should leave to be inferred what my feelings are on seeing it there, if nothing more had been said on the subject. But I dare not silently admit the truth of a certain extravagant report, which in after years, met the ear of a ministerial friend, was made public by him. To be coupled with John M. Peck in the matter was no small honor, but it were unjust and untrue to attribute so much to either of us, as was done in that case. Mr. Peck was active, ardent, industrious, more than many, in propagating right sentiments, yet by no means more than all, and I wrote many a squib for the Spectator, mostly under the eye and at the instigation of Coles and Lockwood and McKee, and sometimes others perhaps, but in all cases as a subordinate worker, and never a leader. I am willing to be known as one of those who labored to defeat the effort to curse our State with slavery, but dare not accept of honors which I never earned.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 40
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, July 7, 1865
My sketches, rambling and fragmentary as they are, would be unpardonably defective if they were to contain nothing more than already contained in them of one whom I long knew and esteemed as friend, and who after a life of extraordinary activity, energy, and usefulness, in part, at least, recognized by collegiate honors, departed this life a few years ago at a ripe age, it is true, yet sooner than his strong constitution indicated in the earlier years of our acquaintance. I speak of him who was long known among us as the Rev. John M. Peck, and late with the literary title of D. D.

Mr. Peck came to the West in 1817 – a few months before me. When I arrived at St. Louis in February 1818, he had, in company with Rev. Mr. Welsh, been laboring several months at that place and the towns and neighborhoods surrounding it, as a missionary of the Baptist Church. I believe the labors of these young men were efficient then, and laid the foundation of the great prosperity which afterwards crowned the efforts of the denomination. Among their enterprises was a Sabbath School for blacks, which called down upon them the curses of slaveholders. I heard a Major L----, a prominent man connected with and one of the “first families,” threaten some violence, I do not remember what, to Peck, if he should undertake to teach his “n-----.” From the natural fearlessness of the man, I do not suppose this threat, if he ever heard of it, had so much influence in closing the school as the frequent absence and early removal of Mr. Peck from St. Louis, but I believe it was soon discontinued. One occurrence which affected them somewhat may be mentioned:

The missionaries, of course, reported to the society which sent them. In the ardor of their zeal, they used strong language (as missionaries have sometimes done) in depicting the moral wants of the people. One, at least, of their reports came back on the pages of a periodical, and being circulated, gave great offense. The leaders of society did not like to have their drinking, gambling, and swearing habits published to the outside world, though by no means careful to avoid or even conceal them at home. Gentlemen, who considered themselves, and were considered by others at the head of society, did not scruple in those days to gather at “Hull’s Grocery,” and take their glasses at the counter, and sit and smoke and chat with the same indifference to appearance that is seen at the saloons of the present day by regular plebian topers. And indeed, there was less attempt at concealment, for Hull had no painted screen to hide his customers from the street. Still, it did not look well in print, and maledictions were poured on the Yankee missionaries.

This is not of Madison County, nor did Mr. Peck ever reside in it. Yet his labors and his influence were felt so much by the inhabitants of Madison at the early day, and he was so well known, that he may well be considered part and parcel of its history.

I do not know the year in which Mr. Peck removed to Illinois, but it was after laboring with great energy in both our State and Missouri - visiting various points, preaching the gospel, and gathering or trying to gather churches. I wish I knew more regarding these incipient efforts, yet the importance and value of the labors could not be known from the amount of immediate and apparent success. “The day of small things” was the precursor and the preparation, necessary to all subsequent growth. Mr. Peck, after a few years, settled in St. Clair County, and named the spot “Rock Spring.” I need not say that this spot has become historical, and that its memory should be regarded by Alton with peculiar reverence as the parent of Shurtleff College, in giving birth to which it gave its life. Rock Spring Seminary, however, was founded, or at least built, a few years after the time to which I had proposed to limit this series of papers. No matter, it belongs to the early day, and I will not be particular about dates, which are always rather indefinite with me anyhow.

Mr. Peck began his labors in the hope, I believe, of drawing the existing Baptist Churches into a closer union with those with which he was connected at the east. These were popularly known as missionary Baptists, while the old, and as they call themselves Regular Baptists, were anti-missionary. I may be wrong, but am inclined to believe that he might have met with considerable success if it had not been for one man, who, as an acknowledged leader, had almost unbounded influence over the denomination. What his motive was I need not say. Mr. Peck manifested not only ardent zeal and untiring industry, but a grade of talent and intelligence which such a man as Mr. Kinney might well apprehend dangerous to his supremacy. I heard Mr. Peck once – it was in the earliest of the early days – preach to a congregation in the early days – preach to a congregation in the woods near the Wood River, in which the ministers – not Mr. Kinney, however – formed no small portion of his hearers, and in his discourse, he spoke very pointedly to ministers who were devoted to secular employments – going, as he quoted, “one to his farm and another to his merchandise.” This, from a mere youth – for he was apparently quite youthful – was not likely to be well received by men who were much his seniors in reality and more in appearance, and it was not.

I think injustice has been done to the class of ministers here spoken of. They were illiterate men, necessarily, for they had grown up on the frontier, where schools were scarce and poor, and the people had neither time nor money to spend in getting an education; the very class from which our lamented late President [Lincoln] sprung by almost superhuman effort, as represented in Mr. Thayer’s “Pioneer Boy.” These uneducated men had the love of Christ and the love of souls in their hearts, and thought themselves called of God – as I have no doubt many of them were – to preach the gospel which they felt so precious. Not asking for, they received no compensation or support. So, they had to support themselves, and this must be done mainly by hard work. Cheerfully preaching the gospel gratuitously, it became their pleasure, and eventually their pride, to “make the gospel of Christ without charge,” making Paul’s exception of himself from the law he had just laid down and proved by argument, the rule of action for themselves and others.

Such were the teachers whom Mr. Peck sought to win to a higher, more intelligent, more expansive, and more aggressive course of action. Perhaps he was too hopeful at first, and too hasty; did not make sufficient allowance for life habits, or begin with sufficient caution and gentleness, for there was much simplicity for life habits, or begin with sufficient caution and gentleness, for there was much simplicity of faith and child-like docility in this primitive people, which it always seemed to me might have been used as an open door to the heart. An appearance of assumption, a show of superior ability on the part of the new preacher – especially a young one – would naturally repel, rather than attract. Without intimating that Mr. Peck intended or attempted to assume authority, it may yet be confessed that his manner was not always as gentle and persuasive, nor as free from a conscious superiority, as might have been desirable. Yet I fall back upon the thought that the influence of one man was probably the chief power – at least in the first few years – that kept the old Baptist churches, as a body, entirely aloof from Mr. Peck, and those who affiliated with him. But I have more to say of Mr. Peck in a future number.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 41
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, July 14, 1865
I have seldom seen a specimen of physical and moral vigor combined in one person equal to John M. Peck. For years, his labors were more than two ordinary men could do. It took a long time to wear out or break down his constitution, but it was done at last. Several of the latter years of his life were years of weariness and weakness. He seemed but the wreck of himself when I saw him occasionally, seldom indeed, in those years. I wondered and felt sad to see him, whose fearless, energetic step I had been wont, “in weakness and in fear and in much trembling,” to follow as best I could, when all things were new and crude in our young State; now, though but a few years my elder, bowed with age and infirmities, while I enjoyed uninterrupted and almost robust health. It was the consequence and the index of our comparative activity in the earlier day.

I believe the first years of Mr. Peck’s labors were as a missionary of the Baptist Church. Afterwards, he labored in the Bible cause, whether an agent of the American Bible Society or not, I am not able to tell. But afterwards for several years he was the agent of the American Sunday School Union for the State of Illinois, succeeding Benjamin J. Sewald in that service. But whatever might be his specialty at the time, he was a bold, untiring champion of Christian effort in all its departments. It was by his enterprise mainly, that the several State Benevolent Societies were early organized, and for several years carried on with no little energy. The Bible Society – the Sunday School Union, and the Temperance Society of the State of Illinois – and was there not a Tract Society also? – which held their meetings without fail at the seat of Government annually in the first week of December, owed more of their efficiency to John M. Peck than to any, if not all others. He was indefatigable in her efforts to awake and keep up an interest among leading men at the capital, and among ministers and Christians over the State, and I may add, his cheerful, hopeful – nay confident – courage was quite efficient in inspiring zeal and hopefulness in others. He seemed to know no such word as fail, as he said he knew no such emotion as fear.

But, whatever other things he attempted, he did not fail to magnify his office as a preacher. He was always ready, and I believe sought all proper occasions to preach the gospel. Nor was his preaching crude and rambling, but clear, terse, consecutive, and at once evangelical and instructive.

Such was his manner of preaching in those days, and I loved to listen to him, for I was always fed. By our common interest in the several benevolent enterprises, we were much together, and I may say, labored together years before I engaged in the ministry as well as afterwards. So that my acquaintance with him then was intimate, and I am happy to feel and say that the friendship, the “brotherly kindness,” awakened by our intercourse and union, never knew abatement, though for a number of later years, our respective fields of labor allowed us to meet but at long intervals.

One of the last – if not the very last – interview I enjoyed with him was at his home at Rock Spring. He took me over to the old building, which originally held the Rock Spring Seminary, and which, after that institution was merged in Shurtleff College, he appropriated to his use as a library. I confess I was surprised to see a large room, and more, on the second floor, entirely surrounded by book shelves and entirely filled with books, which he had collected in his years of labor and travel. Many of them were rare, some very valuable, and a few at least such as were contained probably in no other collection. Among this latter class were bound volumes of some of the newspapers, which had been published in our State. I remember particularly a volume of the Edwardsville Spectator, which Mr. Peck told me, as Governor Coles has since written, was preserved and had bound by the latter gentleman, and placed in the hands of Mr. Peck to be used by him in preparing a history of Illinois, and then handed over to the Illinois Historical Society for preservation in its archives. I fear the intentions of both Mr. Coles and Mr. Peck were defeated. The history has never appeared, if written, and a fire, which destroyed the building, probably consumed with the large collection of rare, old works, the only file of the Edwardsville Spectator, except that of Mr. Churchill, which was in existence.

In the grand struggle to preserve liberty in Illinois, Mr. Peck was among the most active and efficient. I cannot now tell how much he wrote, though it is impossible to suppose that his ever-active pen was idle, but he traversed the State, over and over, and everywhere scattered publications, talked and preached, and argued with his forcible logic, spreading light and influence everywhere, exposing the schemes of political adventurers and the horror of slavery. Nor did he think his labor against the Convention desecrated the pulpit, or were incongruous with the calling which he esteemed the highest and holiest. He was pleading against oppression. Illinois has reaped vast blessings from his labor.

It was at a later period that Mr. Peck commenced the enterprise of a Seminary, designed for general benefit, and especially to aid the education of those who should become ministers of the gospel, I think, was several years before, that he had projected it.

Rev. John M. Ellis came to Illinois as a missionary in 1825. He came full of the importance of education, and of plans for its accomplishment. He was on a journey from Kaskaskia, probably in 1825, and passing Rock Spring, saw Mr. Peck (I have the anecdote from Mr. Peck), busy at work among some timbers, and rode up to speak with him. “What are you about here?” he inquired. “Building a college,” was the reply. In the conversatin, Mr. Peck observed to Mr. Ellis, “You Presbyterians ought to be getting up a college, too.” Mr. Ellis replied thoughtfully, “I don’t know, but we ought,” and ride away apparently thinking of it.

Mr. Peck, from this circumstance, supposed he had thus originated in the mind of Mr. Ellis the enterprise in which he was afterwards so successfully engaged. And he deserves all the credit of the suggestion. It was the offspring of a large heart, as well as an expanded mind. I know not that Mr. Ellis ever explained the fact, but at that moment, he was on his way to a settlement in Bond County to see some friends with whom he had had some correspondence, and with a view to perfecting a plan of an institution which had already been projected, and which, after several years of arduous exertion on his part, and various modifications, resulted in the establishment of Illinois College at Jacksonville.

It is pleasant to think of these two pioneer men, both now departed from earth. John M. Peck began early – his cautious friends thought too early – to found an institution which should aid the youth in acquiring an education, and especially to raise the qualifications of those who should preach for the Baptist Church; and John M. Ellis, at the same time, and not without similar discouragements, projected an enterprise in connection with the Presbyterian Church. Both were modest in their first plans, yet far-reaching, intending to rise higher and higher as the way might be opened, and both resulted in the founding of colleges which have prospered in spite of difficulties, and are this day living monuments of Christian enterprise in the early day. Long may Illinois College and Shurtleff College flourish, side by side, and so long may they bear the names respectively of John M. Ellis and John M. Peck on their foundation stones, and the remembrance of them fresh and warm in the hearts of the multitude who receive the benefit of their self-denying labors.

It is a matter of painful regret that when Elijah P. Lovejoy was doing what Mr. Peck had so nobly begun in years ago, the latter, instead of joining in the noble work, threw his influence against Lovejoy, and when popular fury was rising against the faithful witness, Mr. Peck - unintentionally and unconsciously, I am sure - pursued such a course as tended to fan the flame. And it is believed that ever after that event, he was on the conservative side rather than the progressive. Yet, let not any of us condemn him for this. He was doubtless honest and sincere as ever. Let the good he has done for the State and the world be had in everlasting remembrance.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 42
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, July 21, 1865
I have devoted two numbers to a brief and imperfect sketch of my long and highly valued friend, Dr. John M. Peck, and yet am hardly prepared to pass on without adverting to him again. In truth, I feel that the State and the people in it are under obligations to him, so great and so important, that his name should be had in perpetual remembrance. And I am happy to add the testimony of one who knew him well, and who was himself one of the workers in that day of trial, when Illinois was in imminent danger of having the curse of slavery fastened upon her free limbs. I refer to the Hon. William H. Brown of Chicago, of whom I have previously made mention, and who by request of the Chicago Historical Society, prepared and delivered in December last, a historical address on the Convention struggle, which was published by the Society. I take the liberty to extract a paragraph from the address bearing upon my present subject:

“Governor Coles,” says Mr. Brown, “was the admitted leader of the Anti-Convention party. With him were associated men of intellect and character, but they were unused to the conflicts of party, and were but indifferent leaders. The great man of the day, it may now be said, was the Rev. John M. Deck. D.D., a Baptist minister who came to the West in 1816. He was a man of diversified talent, and like many others of his eastern brethren, could turn them to a good account in more ways than one. His plan of organizing the counties by a central committee, with branches in every neighborhood, was carried out by his own exertions and personal supervision, and was greatly instrumental in saving the State. Being an agent of the American Bible Society, his duties frequently led him to Egypt and elsewhere – and he doubtless performed the double duty of disseminating the Holy Scriptures and correct principles at one and the same time. Though he was ardent in the advocacy of every question, in the correct decision of which he considered the people had a deep interest, and placed himself in the forefront of all the moral reforms of his day, he yet retained a strong hold upon the affections of all classes. As a preacher, he had no superior, and his piety was never questioned. He died a few years ago, lamented by all who knew him.”

According to this, there was more of organizations than I have represented in these papers. I supposed that the central point was Edwardsville, where there was a kind of society or committee of which I was Secretary. And I remember some sort of a correspondence of official character, relating to our movements, and some small sums of money, as already mentioned, but the whole amount of both, so far as my recollection goes, was so small as to leave the impression that there was little of organized effort in the State. There may have been more of centralization at Vandalia, the seat of government, than I was aware of, and Mr. Brown, residing there, and a leading one among the active anti-convention men, was in a position to know. In fact, I was, as I have elsewhere said, merely a subaltern [lower status], and had but a partial knowledge of the great points of strategy in the campaign. But Mr. Peck’s active mind was just the one to originate, and as far as practicable, work out such a plan.

I may be excused for prolonging my memories of this remarkable man. Among other things, he established, and for some years conducted, a religious newspaper – “The Pioneer,” – in the interest of religion generally, and the Baptist Church in particular. It was ably conducted, of course, and ought to be (whether it is or not) preserved in the archives of the Illinois Historical Society, both as a record and specimen of the early days. It was published, at least part, it not most of the time, in Upper Alton.

Mr. Brown says, “he was a man of diversified talents.” True, and the enterprises in which he was engaged were as diversified. Besides agencies for the Bible and Tract and Sunday School and Temperance Societies, successively; and agencies of various sorts for his own denomination; and editing and publishing a weekly paper; and all the while preaching grand, and for the most part, unsectarian (but whether sectarian or not) noble sermons, full of light; he was ever gathering facts and preparing statements for a map, or for a history, or for the use of some editor or author or benevolent association. His Emigrant’s Guide and Map of Illinois, afforded more than any or all which had preceded them, of each of these were two editions, and each was a standard work as long as in the transition state of our young west, any geographical work could be. The map was constructed by him in conjunction with the late John Messinger of St. Clair County, a large and beautiful sheet, showing not only the township, but the section lines, in a clear, perspicuous form. Mr. Peck had been long gathering materials for a history of Illinois, most of which, probably, were consumed in the fire which destroyed the old building of the Rock Spring Seminary. We cannot avoid regret that so noble a project was never carried to completion. It might have been somewhat crude, necessarily so, from the multifarious employments and consequent irregular habits of the author, but nevertheless, his love of truth, his clear conceptions, and his indefatigable industry would have made it a work, the like, or the value of which we can scarcely hope to realize.

I have heard it objected to Dr. Peck by brethren of his own order, that he attempted more than he accomplished. That a great many projects were begun, but never finished. His plans were larger than his means or his time. Doubtless, there is truth in this. And we, who were his co-workers in the early day, were well aware of it. Many a noble scheme was proposed and started by him, which resulted in little or nothing. Nevertheless, we were never unwilling to listen, nor afraid to undertake, when he proposed, for if there was more go-ahead in him than others, there was at the same time a fund of practical sense, a clear perception of “how to do it,” that galvanized us into co-operation.

Let his brethren, who, having come from the methodical schools of the East, and worked in the grooves of order and precision (after he had long wandered over the prairies and labored alone), felt rather shocked at his more desultory, perhaps certainly more daring course, and who have felt disappointed at some of his failures, consider more attentively what he accomplished. Look at the Bible – the Sunday School – the Temperance cause as they are or were when he left them. Look at the Baptist Church here in the West, spreading its branches over the vast valley. Who will dare to say that these are not all a quarter of a century in advance of what they would have been without the activities which he put in motion? And who of them all would, or could have done what he did? To whom is the State indebted for Shurtleff College? However we may honor others for the zeal and public spirit which had given it such prosperity, it is to John M. Peck we must attribute the conception, the incipient movement, and the transfer to Alton, of that valuable institution. I know of the zeal and energy shown in the first movement, and I was a witness of the earnest desire he had to have his darling enterprise transferred to Upper Alton, and his joy at the success which crowned his efforts. I fear the present generation does not appreciate its indebtedness to the arduous and successful labors of that noble pioneer.

 

 

EARLY DAYS IN MADISON COUNTY, NO. 43
By Rev. Thomas Lippincott
Source: Alton Telegraph, July 28, 1865
It seems that Governor Ford, Mr. Brown (perhaps), and myself were all and equally in error in regard to the time of the “Saturnalis” (as Mr. Churchill calls it), that was got up by the conventionists to celebrate their victory. The mistake can easily be accounted for. Governor Ford was not there, and told it on hearsay. Mr. Brown puts it rather indefinitely, though a reader would understand it to mean the night after the passage of the Convention resolution, and as for myself, I don’t pretend to accuracy in dates, except in certain cases. I confess, I now wholly rely on Mr. Churchill’s correctness, in admitting that the rowdy demonstration was on the night before the _____ passage, when it would seem to have been rather premature. It should be remembered, however, that the ________ had made the thing sure, and the ______ _______ _______ practice might tend ____ ______ by making the im_____ ____ _____ to go the whole than shrink.

I feel very much indebted, as no doubt the readers generally do, to Mr. Churchill, for the very full and correct account he has given of the maneuvers of the Convention party in reference to the Shaw and Hansen contest. He has not left it to depend on the veracity of any or all of the writers who have told the story, nor rectified our errors by his own assertion, but has given the testimony of the journals of the two Houses of the Legislature. Whatever credit or discredit may belong to the transactions, is thus effectually attached to those who achieved the enterprise. And, while I would wish to have given a true and correct account of everything I undertook to tell, I can hardly regret the imperfect statements or even blunders that have called forth a history, which, though too brief (I mean his own narrative of it), is yet so complete. I can only wish that Mr. Churchill may yet undertake, instead of mere “Annotations,” a connected history of that Convention struggle, from first to last (and as much more of the history of our forty years life as he can find time to prepare), more ample than Mr. Brown, and myself, and all others, have hitherto accomplished. And I add the wish, that instead of the columns of a newspaper, such a work as he could make might appear in a well printed and well bound volume. It would be a standard work, read and received and relied on, when those of the two ex-Governors, Ford and Reynolds (whatever their merits) were forgotten. The annotations suggest, though, for a portly duodecimo.

 

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